Thursday, April 12, 2007

What is wrong with Luskin's attack on Sober? Part III.

I have already detailed what was wrong with part II and part III of Luskin's "rebuttal" of Elliott Sober's article "What is wrong with intelligent design?". Here is my take on Luskin's fourth attempt. As per previous, it helps to have read both Sober's article and Luskin's "rebuttal" before reading this.

This time around, Luskin's states his mission as:
In this final installment I will show that Sober is wrong to claim that ID is not testable because he bases his argument on the false claim that ID permits the possibility that a designer produced a universe where natural processes can produce novel specified complexity on their own.
Luskin takes offense at Sober's statement:
If a newspaper contains complex information, ID proponents are not obliged to say that the press used to print the newspaper is intelligent; presumably, the press is just as mindless as the paper it produces. Rather, their claim is that if you look back further along the causal chain, you'll find an intelligent being. And they are right -- there is a person setting the type.
Luskin responds:
But the printing press gives an inappropriate example because of course we know that printing presses are designed, and we do not find printing presses in nature. The question is not “can processes which we know are human-designed re-transmit information and complexity?” but rather “can processes we find at work in nature generate novel specified and complex information?”

First of all, the printing press is not that an inappropriate example. While we don't find printing presses in nature (for the simple reason that they don't reproduce), what they have in common with humans and life in general is, at least according to IDists, that they are ALL designed. In this sense, humans could very well be like printing presses - they only do what they were designed to do. The question could very well be "can processes which we know are intelligently designed re-transmit information and complexity?".

What the question is NOT (despite Luskin's protestations) is "can processes we find at work in nature generate novel specified and complex information?” (CSI). Remember, ID says nothing at all about the designer or it's modus operandi. The designer might, according to ID, just have made the universe so that nature was primed to generate CSI. The fact that Luskin gives a quote from William Demski that agrees with what Luskin is arguing means nothing, since this is simply just another case of an ID proponent claiming something that ID does not.

Luskin finishes with:
This is an eminently testable claim, and again it seems that Sober attacked only a straw-man version of ID.
Actually, Luskin is defending a straw-man version of ID. So, I'm afraid that my not-so-high hopes that Luskin might actually have had something real to say against Sober's writings have been dashed. Shame.


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