The Third Mode of Explanation

Detecting Evidence of Intelligent Design in the Sciences Download PDF

I. Introduction

In our workaday lives we find it important to distinguish between three modes of explanation: necessity, change, and design. Did she fall, or was she pushed? And if she fell, was her fall accidental or unavoidable? to say she was pushed is to attribute her plunge to design. To say her fall was accidental or unavoidable is to attribute her plunge respectively to chance or necessity. More generally, given an event, object, or structure, we want to know: Did it have to happen? Did it happen by accident? Did an intelligent agent cause it to happen? In other words, did it happen by necessity, chance, or design?

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William A. Dembski

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
A mathematician and philosopher, Bill Dembski is the author/editor of more than 25 books as well as the writer of peer-reviewed articles spanning mathematics, engineering, biology, philosophy, and theology. With doctorates in mathematics (University of Chicago) and philosophy (University of Illinois at Chicago), Bill is an active researcher in the field of intelligent design. But he is also a tech entrepreneur who builds educational software and websites, exploring how education can help to advance human freedom with the aid of technology.