Tag Archives: evidence

When a designer does not cooperate with design detection

In my book, I make the distinction between epistemological evidence (EE) and ontological evidence (OE).  Put simply, EE is the type of evidence that would be needed to convince a hardcore skeptic, while OE is the type of evidence that would be expected to exist if a hypothesis was true.

It is important to realize that OE need not be EE.  For example, if Smith really did enter Jones’s house and kill him, we might expect to find Smith’s fingerprints in Jones’s house.  Yet if we found them, this expected evidence (OE) might very well be totally insufficient to convince a proponent of Jone’s innocence that he is guilty.

I think this distinction between OE and EE comes into play many times in the debate between teleology vs. non-teleology.  Often times, the evidence we might expect to exist (OE) from a teleological origin of life will not rise to the level of EE, thus the skeptic reasonably retains his skepticism.  But sometimes the difference runs in the other direction, where a search for some form of EE would not be expected to exist from the perspective of looking for OE.

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Evidence and Assumptions

Stanley Fish is the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor and a professor of law at Florida International University, in Miami.. He has written a nice article addressing the debate du jour about faith and reason. I draw attention to it here simply because he makes a point that should be familiar to anyone who has read The Design Matrix. It is a point that is crucial to grasping the core argument of the book. Have a look:

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The Reasonable Suspicion

Last weekend, I discussed the role of metaphors and I would like to extend one of the points from that essay.

I wrote:

Using this example, the “metaphors” are not in any way intended as documentation “with photographic evidence.” No, they function instead as “a few things” that might cause us to suspect design. It is something that flows naturally from a hypothesis of design and arouses and/or deepens suspicion in some of us.

What do I mean when saying it is “something that flows naturally from a hypothesis of design and arouses and/or deepens suspicion in some of us?”

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The Simplest of Eukaryotic Cells

fibrillanosema_sporeMicrosporidia are intracellular parasites that infect most other eukaryotic cells, although arthropods are the most commonly parasitized. They are the simplest and smallest eukaryotic cells and thus represent a textbook example of reductive evolution [1]. Whereas scientists once classified microsporidia as protozoa, it is now generally recognized that they are highly evolved fungi. A more extensive discussion of their biology can be found here.

This simple fungus an important lesson to teach us.

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Evidence and Suspicion

The debate about teleology and non-teleology eventually comes down to demands for evidence. Yet before rushing ahead to satisfy such demands, we should pause, step back, and contemplate the terrain.

Evidence is simply data that are interpreted in the light of previous experience and belief. More importantly, evidence comes in different flavors. For example, the type of evidence that might be used to guide a police investigation may not suffice as “evidence” in the context of a court room trial. In fact, an investigator is likely to look at the data differently from a defense lawyer. The investigator may initially rely on lower standards of evidence to follow up hunches and be sensitive to clues. The lawyer will insist on the highest possible standards to defend his client.

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