This is a fascinating essay addressing the Rosenhouse attack on Dembski. Although I do not reject out of hand the issues of design inference, in fact taking them in a slightly different way without the mathematics, I might caution design theorists of the stakes involved: the religious right given license for design arguments would in principle create a theocracy beyond science that makes a skeptic of design arguments a sinner condemned to hell. If scientists frantically attack design arguments it is because history shows the outcome of fuzzy design thinking in the Old Testament and the devolution into crude theism (where originally ‘god’ was nameless), religious dogma and global religion.
The whole entropic mess makes scientists very jumpy about design thinking. This paranoia is needless: after several centuries of secularism the design argument as a proof of divinity is not believable and design is, or should become a standard scientific option, one so far not reducible to science given its aspect of teleology. But there is no reason that science should absolutely reject teleology. It was a phase in the emergence of modern physics almost immediately countered by the so-called teleomechanists in the school of Kant.
Nonetheless, it remains unclear why Darwinists are so obstinately attached to Darwinism. For crying out loud, throw back a small fish and be done with it. Darwinism given so much authority is a great discredit to science and has handed the religious right good reason for their antiscience. You would think that Fred Hoyle’s earlier ‘dembskian’ expose of bad Darwinian statistics could have registered as a ‘that’s final’ for the cultists of natural selection. The tenacity of this nonsense is a free gift to amateurs as here to pull rank on the pomposity of the dignity of science.
I have for some reason skipped the mathematical aspect of Dembski’s work, in part because the study of history and of the non-random aspects of historical directionality show no simple way, at least to me, of calculating probabilities beyond a subjective judgment about historical terrain which shows definite clusters of massively complex transition zones, e.g. the Greek Archaic. This is clear evidence overall of ‘design’ in a historical sense. But there is a catch here: take the clear eonic effect depicted in the Old Testament in the period post-Solomon (who may not have existed) from ca. 900 BCE to 600 BCE: this period is packed non-random effects, and induced in the Israelites a sense of being pawns in a larger design, one that was steadily reducing their kingdom(s) to nothing, at which point they were taken into Exile quite non-randomly in a strange timing. Something that could as they obviously saw manipulate whole peoples over centuries and induce conquerors to destroy their kingdom and take a step to universalize their texts, etc, (not quite a full account here, but): this was not chance. Secularists ought to be desperate here. The Israelites were careful here, and all they could think of is, ‘god’ did it, a term they did not use. What else could manipulate whole nations over centuries? Alas, there is a larger picture: we see that in the Axial interval (inside the eonic sequence) the Israelite cameo history is parallel in a spooky way with analogous effect across Eurasia in the same interval in a co-incidence that suggests a larger pattern of influences: e.g. Iseaelitis as it finally crystallizes after Exile is directly correlated in its timing with the emergent ‘Buddhism’ spawned in the wake of a similar transition in India. We see something larger creating two religions in mirror image theism/atheism. We are confounded. Here a clear design argument soars beyond any kind of theistic specification. It is a long story, and enough for this post. But the point is that the ‘god’ specification in the design inference in our time fails to see that the Old Testament shows design in a sense beyond theism.
The point might be clear in terms of Dembski’s improbable plus specification: the problem is that we have no referent for the specification of historical design. The terms of divinity are output of the system question and don’t quality. We can specify a human designer in relevant instances but when we try that with something like the Old Testament’s clear indication of a design inference the result is a construct of theism that we can see is too primitive to stand as specification. The driving force of the mysterious Israelite history must be something else.