Member # 169
posted 06. April 2003 21:36
Thank you for your response. My concern is not that front loaded teleology is indistinguishable from methodological naturalism but rather the claim that intelligent design can provide an alternative to methodological naturalism or that science should reject methodological naturalism (see Murray's excellent essay for instance).
You point to Conway Morris and his claims and "best explanation" but I fail to see how this is helpful in the discussion of intelligent design? Can nature itself now be teleological in that given similar initial conditions the outcome will be similar? I doubt that given the non-linear nature of the world around us Conway Morris's suggestions are reasonable. In fact I would argue that for example unless the dinosaurs were forced to go extinct through a 'random' extinction event, life on earth may have looked very different for us mammals.
I am also not arguing that something that happens under teleological front loading has to be impossible under methodological naturalism, on the contrary I am saying that for all practical purposes such teleological front loading seems undistinguishable from methodological naturalism.
Murray extends this argument by claiming that since ID cannot differentiate front loading ID from intervention ID, and since front loading ID cannot be distinguished from methodological naturalism that '... we are compelled to admit that events which display the earmarks of design leave us in the dark about whether or not the chain of events leading up to designed event came about by intervention or purely nomically regular processes.'
At the moment given the arguments proposed by Mike Gene as well as suggestions by Dembski and others about front loading ID, I am focusing on what front loading would have to add to our scientific understanding? Is front loading merely an initial condition from which life evolved or is it something more? Surely replaying the tape is not going to help us understand this. So how do we identify natural teleology from teleology which involves intelligent design? From my understanding of Dembski we infer intelligent design once we have eliminated regularity and chance but since regularity cannot be eliminated in case of front loading, I would say that once again methodological naturalism seems to prevail.
As far as Conway Morris is concerned, we may want to see what he had to say about these concepts
This conclusion that there is a kind of ‘direction' in evolution is part of the reason why Prof. Conway Morris's ideas are so controversial, as he acknowledges: "One needs to be careful – words like ‘plan' or ‘design' evoke the idea of teleology, where there might be a purpose behind everything. But that's not a scientifically answerable question. Some people outside the field protest that evolution can't be true because of all the arguments, but the realities are there in the fossil records, molecular biology and other avenues. And it's important to stress that although there's a lot of controversy going on, there's also a great deal of agreement."