Historical causal analysis

In his book, Meyer seeks to show that ID offers a scientifically valid approach to inferring that an intelligent agent was responsible for the development of living systems. He acknowledges that Dembski’s explanatory filter is not sufficient to demonstrate such design causality. He appeals to the work of Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin, and Michael Scriven to complete the picture. In particular, Meyer cites Scriven’s work on causality as showing that a proper historical causal analysis also requires a demonstration of:
1. Causal adequacy—the inferred agent must be independently shown to be able to generate the effect.
2. Causal existence—the existence of the inferred agent, or at least the type of agent, must be independently demonstrated
3. Causal uniqueness—if such existence cannot be shown, then it can still be inferred if it can be shown that no other possible cause exists.
Meyer claims adequacy of ID has been shown since humans have demonstrated the ability to generate information. However, no human intelligence has demonstrated the generation of DNA information, which Meyer acknowledges is a different type of CSI than human generated information.
Meyer pleads the exception to the causal existence requirement, saying that the uniqueness of the ID cause is sufficient to demonstrate the existence of the intelligent designer as a cause.
Uniqueness is ostensibly shown by Meyer by showing the inadequacy of all scientific theories for the origin of life. However, he has not yet shown that such theories are impossible, just that such a theory has not yet been found. As stated in a previous post, he has not shown that DNA information cannot be generated apart from an intelligent source.
Stated in other words, a design inference is scientifically valid only if the inferred design agent is a member of a class of agents whose existence and design methodology can be independently studied through scientific means. For Christians, the adequacy, existence, and uniqueness of God as an intelligent designer is a given. Hence a design inference is an obvious conclusion. But it is a statement of faith and not one of science.

3 comments to Historical causal analysis

  • James Patterson

    I think I understand the science.

    If read by a Christian who understands the science, I don’t think you could have stated the case *for* intelligent design any better that the above. The stronger the ID argument gets, the more supernatural it gets. And vice versa.

    I haven’t forgotten about Meyer’s book – I want to post an in-depth review/reply myself, along with similar posts regarding a couple of other works…Behe’s Edge of Evolution, I think is worthy of review here. Unfortunately I don’t have as much time as I would like…

    I have some replies from RTB re: the recent “More Than a Theory” review. Could someone recreate that original PSCF review here?

    • Randy Isaac

      James, perhaps the inverse of your statement is even more evident: the more supernatural it gets, the stronger the ID argument is. Take it out of the scientific realm and there’s a coherent and consistent story. Meyer’s thesis is that the ID claims are valid within the scientific realm without recourse to supernatural beings or events. That’s where the difficulty lies.

  • Discussion of Signature in the Cell…

    Just a pointer to the comments that Randy Isaac is posting.

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