Kauffman and Dempski

nemonemini at cosmiverse.com nemonemini at cosmiverse.com
Thu Dec 13 20:04:10 MST 2001

Bringing in Phil Johnson is not exactly a crowd pleaser, but,
needless to say, I would point out that Creationists against Darwin
have distracted everyone from focussing on the problems with current
evolutionary thinking, among them S. Kauffman. Taken out of its
context of religious promotion, the 'argument by design' becomes
the 'hunch about design' as an unknown explicatory mode, both
necessary, yet somehow elusively always beyond easy clarification.
Exactly as Kant affirmed.
My point is merely that to claim what is not so is not science, and
if you persist in such claims, you lose the rubric and reputation of
science. The design argument is, so far, no science. But to claim
that Darwin's argument by natural selection refutes this design
argument is not science either.

Anyway, if you want to see beyond this 'design' argument, it is worth
considering Heraclitus. It is a classic 'feeling about the universe',
a sense of its harmony that gripped him, giving birth to one early
version of this later 'design' argument, and this at the point where
Greek society was 'secularizing', and Heraclitus was having a problem
with Zeus, giving forth on a new idea of the 'logos'(later ripped off
by theologians). The point is that the sense of design (not the same
as the argument by design) lies at the basis of the first science,
and its current version is mere politics, I fear.

So bourgeois science goes into the history books as a goof.

 Dembski and Kauffman Square Off in New Mexico

On Tuesday, November 13th, at the University of New Mexico in
Albuquerque about 500 to 600 people attended a remarkable event.
William Dembski and Stuart Kauffman had a public encounter in which
Kauffman, the preeminent self-organizational theorist of the Santa Fe
Institute, publicly admitted that intelligent design was a legitimate
intellectual and scientific project and that research projects like
SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) couldn't even get
off the ground without it. To be sure, Kauffman was quick to add that
he saw the application of design-theoretic methods to biology as
unsuccessful. But ID's success or lack of it can be contested, and
Dembski did an admirable job defending ID and questioning the
adequacy of self-organizational methods to account for biological
complexity. Kauffman is precisely the sort of insightful critic the
ID movement needs to develop a flourishing program of research.
Kauffman stands in marked contrast to Massimo Pigliucci, whom Dembski
had debated two weeks earlier at the New York Academy of Sciences
(see previous update). Whereas for Pigliucci there is no legitimate
scientific or academic debate about biological design, Kauffman made
it clear that he had no patience for the sort of censorship of ideas
that Pigliucci represents. Having himself withstood dogmatic
Darwinists, Kauffman knows only too well the dogmatism within
scientific ranks. He values dissent within science, for it is the
only way to keep science honest. By this reasoning intelligent design
is the best thing that's happened to science in a long time.

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