Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Chance, design, regularity ... or something else?

A commenter has made the point that Dembski's famous triad may be hiding something.

For example:
One other thing, I believe you are quoting from Dembski here (although you don't say so!): "there are 3 causal options to explain life's origin and diversity : chance,necessity or design".

However this is subjective because it's based on what we currently know. There is actually a fourth category that Dembski does not consider, and which is a huge problem for his assumptions - and that the possibility of a causal option that we don't yet know about - i.e. the unknown.

You can eliminate all known chance processes and all known necessity processes, but you can't eliminate what is yet unknown. Therefore it would be premature to assume that design is all that remains.
This is an interesting line of argument. The commenter doesn't suggest another category of causation. In fact, he doesn't even demonstrate that Dembski's triad is logically incomplete.

Supposing somebody says: "A house can be detached, semi-detached or part of a terrace." In other words, it is either joined to no other houses, joined to one other house, or joined to many other houses. The truth of this statement isn't challenged by somebody saying: "Ah! But there may be another option that you haven't considered!"

If allowed its logical force, then, this "challenge" to ID amounts to something like:
Dembski may be wrong. Therefore he is wrong.
If this challenge to ID is to have any weight, the arguer must first demonstrate that Dembski's triad isn't complete - it doesn't logically "cover all the bases". Only then can the possibility of there being alternative forms of causation be considered to be a challenge to ID.