from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. The study of design or purpose in natural phenomena.
- n. The use of ultimate purpose or design as a means of explaining phenomena.
- n. Belief in or the perception of purposeful development toward an end, as in nature or history.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. The study of the purpose or design of natural occurrences.
- n. An instance of such a design or purpose, usually in natural phenomena.
- n. The use of a non-natural purpose or design to explain an occurrence.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. The doctrine of the final causes of things.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The doctrine of final causes; the theory of tendency to an end.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. (philosophy) a doctrine explaining phenomena by their ends or purposes
Intelligence, this is a question altogether foreign to any argument from teleology, seeing that teleology, in so far as it is _teleology_, can only rest upon the observed facts of the cosmos; and if these facts admit of being explained by the action of a single causative principle inherent in the cosmos itself, teleology is not free to assume the action of any causative principle of a more ultimate character.
By the way, teleology is a word I seldom hear, and this is the first time it's come up in an interview.
Perhaps dropping the term teleology helps avoid the confusion witnessed here and it would make it easier to avoid the conflation of terminology used by the ID movement but understanding the history of these arguments is what is important to understand the arguments.
If you want to spin that as "we don't know whether teleology is the explanation", I can't really argue with that, but don't pretend that makes teleology "just as likely" as a non-teleological explanation.
The moment teleology is discussed, out goes the science – or at least, in comes the contamination with philosophy.
What the standard histories of philosophy write about Aristotle's teleology is unfortunately largely wrong, and must be ignored.
In other words, how can you explain teleology by dysteleology?
To be as clear as possible: teleology is a post hoc inference, not a propter hoc assumption.
This means that the inference to teleology is an inference by exclusion.
Allen MacNeill: This means that the inference to teleology is an inference by exclusion.