Reasonable Faith just posted the youtube video of this meeting and I watched it last night. I read Murray and Churchill, Nelson and Craig’s papers on it today and discussed it a bit with @tim1 on facebook.
I have been following the ID movement since the late 90s. It was always my understanding that ID is compatible with UCD. Nelson obviously disagrees with UCD (as do I) and the trend at DI has been against UCD, but the bare theory of ID (perhaps we could say Mere ID?) has never been exclusive of UCD. I’m not sure why this comes as some revelation. If you ever thought ID excluded UCD you may need to explain to me what exactly you think ID is.
I appreciated Murray and Churchill’s paper. I think they did an admirable job. At least I imagine it might be very convincing to someone less jaded about all this. The simple fact is that despite the apparent olive branch in the paper, MTE is still the same TE it’s always been. I was disappointed that neither Meyer or Nelson really met the paper on its own terms, but I understand why they didn’t. Meyer is correct that part of MTE is the assertion that mainstream evolutionary biology, whatever it happens to be currently, is taken as axiomatic and is therefore fair game. IDists like myself are tired of TE because it is constantly evolving. .There are so many versions of it that each require completely different critiques. Some TE views are compatible with ID and reject it for no apparent reason. Some TE views are not compatible with ID, but are theologically inadequate but scientifically more plausible. Some are scientifically adequate and theologically problematic. It is exhausting. Josh here claims not to be either TE, OEC or ID. Lol. My attitude towards TE has turned towards asking them to develop a consensus position and until then I’ll critique what I feel like and don’t blame me that it doesn’t address your particular view.
Murray and Churchill’s paper I think maybe goes a long a way towards developing a better TE consensus that can be pinned down and critiqued from an ID perspective. I see a potential problem in that they basically defer to the entire scientific field of evolutionary biology as part of the definition of TE, which is moving farther and farther from any consensus position. But their discussion of probability makes certain things clear that are, I think, worth critiquing.
Their position is that mutations are modeled as random but not actually random. The model says the probability of the coin flip coming up heads is 0.5 but if we knew all the relevant facts it would be either 1 or 0. They give an example of a ref learning how to flip a coin such that it comes up the way he wants because he’s betting on the game. This reveals their scenario to be physically deterministic (leaving aside free will for the moment). I think this analogy is helpful. Let me add to it.
Supposing the NFL found out the ref was betting on the games and suspected that his coin flips were not random but in fact designed. How would they go about determining that? ID argues the way to do this is to take all the games the ref has performed the coin flip and calculate the likilihood, or complexity, of the particular pattern of coin flips occurring, like so:
0.5^(n) where n is the number of coin flips he has performed.
That gives you a probability. It will be low, but that in itself does not constitute a design inference. That’s just complexity. Now you need a specification. The specification would be the fact that the ref has bet on all the teams that have won the coin flip. That’s a pattern independent of physical laws governing the coin flip. If the complexity is sufficiently high (probability low) and an independent pattern or specification determined, than a design inference is warranted.
I would be more enthusiastic about their paper if they had included this and shown they understood what the design inference is. I wish Meyer had made this point at the meeting and asked them about it. Their characterization of ID in the paper is pretty ambiguous. I would like to see what their response to this would be.