January 21, 2007

You're almost there...think...think...c'mon, you can do it

Over at UD one of the descenders presents this goofy argument from Denise O'Leary,
"Bear with a simple lay hack here a moment: Why must we know a designer’s intentions in order to detect design?

If the fire marshall’s office suspects arson, do the investigators worry much about WHY?

Surely they investigate, confirm their finding, and turn the information over to other authorities and interested parties, without having the least idea why someone torched the joint.

ALL they need to be sure of is that the joint did not torch itself, via natural causes."
To begin with, we do not need to know the designer's intentions. But we do need to know something of the designer, its motives, its methods, its qualities, maybe the fact of its existence. We need to have some sort of information that suggests an inference to a designer is a reasonable one.

The reason the fire marshall's office can conduct an investigation without knowing motives is that they know from past experience that an inference to arson can be productive because they know from past experience of an intelligence which exhibits this behavior.

Of course once they know "that the joint did not torch itself, via natural causes" they can begin such an inquiry, but that's the fulcrum upon which the direction of investigation of design rests, isn't it? If they eliminate non-deliberate cause they (the fire dept.) can make the leap to "intelligence" or "design" precisely because the intelligence or designer to which they refer is empirically established as a causal agent.

Unless ID proponents are suggesting that the "designer" they infer is humans (and we all know this is not the case) then it is clear they are trying to trade upon the altogether uncontroversial inference to design inherent in forensics in order to clear space for an inference to their entirely undemonstrated (and undemonstrable) magical design. It's a foolish bit of rhetoric that unfortunately satisfies too many uncritical minds.

One of which is possessed by the author of the post. His credulity and gullibility are such that he swallows this nonsense without the slightest hint of evaluation.
The observation Denyse makes is so obvious that one would need a Ph.D. in obfuscation not to see it. Common sense is not so common, at least among those with a foundational commitment to materialism.
Here's the real irony of O'Leary's comment. If it is necessary and sufficient to know simply "that the joint did not torch itself, via natural causes" then it is impossible to exclude ID's "intelligent designer" as a possible suspect in any case of arson. Her specious logic would leave inconclusive, and thus unprosecutable, any purportedly intelligently designed fire.

C'mon ID people, just follow those thought processes a bit farther. And remember, if you get stuck I'll always be happy to lend a hand.


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