Monday, June 05, 2006


After reading the debate between Paul Nelson and Keith Miller again and trying to understand what was going on in Keith Miller's mind I started doodling. Clearly Paul Neslon had Dembski's Explanatory filter in his mind in the discussion:

However Keith Miller had the methodological naturalists classification system in his mind which I reckon looks something like this:

I wonder if we had to produce a universal cause classification system what would it look like?

1. Chance
2. Known Regularity
3. Unknown Regularity
4. Natural Intelligent Cause (human)
5. Natural Intelligent Cause (superhuman)

6. Intelligent Cause (non-material)


Blogger Lifewish said...

I'd tend to go for something like:
1) Chance
2) Regularity with known cause
2.a) Intelligent cause
2.a.i) Entity is natural
2.a.ii) Entity is supernatural
2.b) Unintelligent cause
3) Regularity with unknown cause

A regularity would be deemed to have a known cause if there were some such cause that gave rise to valid predictions about the regularity. That cause could then be categorised as appropriate.

Dembski's filter always confuses me somewhat. I mean, how on Earth does one go about eliminating all possible unknown unintelligent causes? All Dembski seems to do is present a claim that unintelligent causes always fulfil certain criteria, which he then completely fails to test against interesting cases.

3:18 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...


What is your understanding of a "regularity"?

9:25 am  
Blogger Lifewish said...

Basically, anything that's distinguishable from uniform random chance by, for example, statistical testing or producing a predictive model for it.

So the prevalence of matter over antimatter in the universe exhibits regularity. A program that reads out the digits of pi exhibits regularity. Broadly speaking, a regularity is anything that we feel the need to explain other than in terms of chance.

Dembski's claim is apparently that, without coming up with specific conjectures about what kind of regularity is involved, you can distinguish the behaviour of unintelligent regularity (known or unknown) from that of intelligent regularity (known or unknown). I'm fairly sure that that's incorrect. As far as I can tell, his arguments boil down to "interesting functionality => intelligence", which I know is wrong.

12:37 pm  

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