Home » Expelled » Expelled at Biola — Ben Stein Receives the Phillip Johnson Award

Expelled at Biola — Ben Stein Receives the Phillip Johnson Award

Last evening I attended a big Expelled event at Biola University in La Mirada, California. Presenters included Ben Stein, Walt Ruloff, Caroline Crocker, Guillermo Gonzalez, Stephen Meyer, and Biola faculty.

Expelled executive producer Walt Ruloff began with a short presentation. He talked about his background in computer technology and how he founded a logistics-optimization software company in his early 20s that became spectacularly successful, primarily, according to Walt, because they thought outside the box and questioned everything.

After Walt sold his company he became involved with the biological research and technology world, and discovered that the exact opposite was the case: people in this field were and are not allowed to ask questions. Walt was totally shocked when it was revealed to him by one of the leading genomic researchers in the U.S., who gets all his funding from the NIH and NSF, that the only way to get funding is to pretend to believe in Darwinian orthodoxy. Even more horrifyingly, this leading genomic researcher (whose face is blacked out and voice disguised in the movie, to protect him from the destruction of his life and career by Darwinists) said that as much as 30% of the research in his field is shelved and never published because it might provide ammunition for “creationists.” In order to stand any chance of being published, interpretations of biological research must be artificially force-fit into the Darwinian paradigm, regardless of the evidence.

Walt decided to do something about it.

Ben Stein talked about his early years in the civil-rights movement, and how he and others in that movement were spat upon, denigrated and vilified, because they dared to challenge the reigning racist orthodoxy.

Caroline Crocker talked about how she was blacklisted in academia for daring to suggest that there might be problems with orthodox Darwinism, even though her students could not detect what her personal opinions were.

Guillermo gave a timeline about his expulsion from academia, for daring to suggest that there might be evidence of design in the universe.

The main thing that struck me about Caroline and Guillermo was that they displayed no hostility or vitriol toward their persecutors. Think about this, and what it indicates about personal character on both sides.

At the end of the evening Ben was presented with the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth, to a thunderous standing ovation.

While accepting the award, Ben commented that in the end ID will win, because the truth is on our side. He also commented that Americans don’t like to be bullied and told what to think — by anyone.

I paraphrase Ben: “People don’t like to be told that what is obviously true is false.”

Amen to that.

Gil

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101 Responses to Expelled at Biola — Ben Stein Receives the Phillip Johnson Award

  1. “People don’t like to be told that what is obviously true is false.”

    Great line, Gil, even if it is a paraphrase. The key words being “obviously true” — not “empirically demonstrable and published in at least three peer-reviewed journals.”

    It seems to me that materialistic “scientists” are saying that we’re not allowed to believe in God until we can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt — using methods woefully inadequate to the task — that He exists. It’s like saying we’re not allowed to make love to our wives until we can demonstrate, via both formula and experiment, that the ladies are actually in love with us.

  2. I want the movie to come out so I can stop having to worry about reading spoilers.

    But the fact that a scientist has to have his face masked is more evidence that the PT-mafia (NCSE/TalkOrigins/Panda’s Thumb/wickedpedia) will destroy those who do not toe the neo-Darwinian line.

  3. William Wallace says, “the fact that a scientist has to have his face masked is more evidence that the PT-mafia… will destroy those who do not toe the neo-Darwinian line.”

    Or evidence of a scientist who cares more about his career than Truth. Just a few posts down we find a real man resigning when NASA opposed publication of his findings. That is the proper response.

    Everyone seems to forget that evil rarely enters through the front door — it creeps in, one compromise at a time. The reason someone can be fired today for not toeing the party line is because someone ignored an easier opportunity to stand up for truth yesterday, and someone else an even easier opportunity the day before that, etc.

    The Nazis didn’t appear suddenly at every Jew’s door, y’know. Everyone who wasn’t thinking wishfully saw it coming…

  4. “It seems to me that materialistic “scientists” are saying that we’re not allowed to believe in God until we can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt — using methods woefully inadequate to the task — that He exists. It’s like saying we’re not allowed to make love to our wives until we can demonstrate, via both formula and experiment, that the ladies are actually in love with us.”

    Gerry, this simply isn’t true. No scientist says you or anyone else can’t believe in God, or for that matter anything else – unicorns, celestial teapots or that 2+2+5. Anyone can believe in what they want. The issue is, claiming that your belief is something that it isn’t – like claiming that God created the universe is a science, which it isn’t.

  5. Even more horrifyingly, this leading genomic researcher (whose face is blacked out and voice disguised in the movie, to protect him from the destruction of his life and career by Darwinists) said that as much as 30% of the research in his field is shelved and never published because it might provide ammunition for “creationists.”

    Perhaps Dr. Dembski should persuade this researcher to submit his research to PCID, under a pseudonym. I wouldn’t be happy if 30% of a field was being censored in this way. If this claim is true, there should be plenty of research there to be published. Let’s see it!

  6. No, actually the issue here is that it isn’t science to claim that God didn’t create the universe–which is the metadata of Darwinism. The point of Expelled (all together now) is that the materialism of the modern age is, first of all, exclusionary and brutal in its tactics, and most importantly, questionable on many fronts. If the rhetoric of Huxley, Gould, Dawkins and Myers does not make the first point clear, then it can never make clear. And the second point doesn’t have to be exposited: it is a fait accompli on the basis of modern molecular science.

  7. If 30% of research is being shelved then the conspiracy must extend to the accountants too. After all, don’t you think somebody would be kicking up a fuss by now if 1/3 of the money spend just appeared to vanish? Won’t they be wondering what happened?

    Or is there a special “scientific” phrase for this 1/3 of results? Let me guess, “the study was inconclusive”? Or lets try “funding was removed before the end of the study”? Or even better “the researcher had to be fired (expelled) due to the wrong results”?

    30% does sound like an awful lot to keep suppressed consistently. I’d be more inclined to believe 3% – perhaps a decimal point has shifted by accident?

  8. You can listen to a two-part interview with Walt Ruloff here and here.

  9. 9

    Hi Gil,
    I went, too, along with my daughter, son-in-law, their 3 month old daughter, and another friend. I especially liked Ms. Crocker’s presentation and the quote “When something is true, if you think about it, it will still be true”.

    My granddaughter got very excited every time there was applause.
    However, I was disappointed at not seeing more of the movie. Somehow I didn’t understand that we were only to see a few clips. Oh well, I was planning to go see it in the theater anyway.

  10. Walt Ruloff is my hero.

  11. Perhaps Dr. Dembski should persuade this researcher to submit his research to PCID, under a pseudonym. I wouldn’t be happy if 30% of a field was being censored in this way. If this claim is true, there should be plenty of research there to be published. Let’s see it!

    I’m not an academic, so I’m not familiar with the publication process, but it would seem to me that different niches of research science would constitute a “small world”, where people doing similar research are familiar with one another. If this is the case, is a mere pseudonym really sufficient to protect one’s identity from peers and coworkers?

  12. “People don’t like to be told that what is obviously true is false.”

    As David Scot has said,

    “It appears to require many years of uncritical academic brainwashing for highly intelligent people to sincerely arrive at any other than the intuitively obvious conclusion that complex machines don’t design themselves out of thin air.

    I’m a pretty hardcore materialist but I know a complex machine when I see one and I know how complex machines get designed.

    Anti-theists should stop kicking and screaming like little kids who don’t get their way. Intellectual honesty demands you go where the evidence leads.”

  13. russ – it depends a bit on the field, but genomics is probably one where it is easier to do. Certainly if 30% of the results are being hidden, it shouldn’t be too difficult to work out what sorts of results you are getting in your sub-area, and then replicate them in others (ha! In your rival’s sub-area) and publish those.

    It would also be possible to publish results and frame the discussion in terms of “this is something we don’t understand, but I’m sure someone will sort it out eventually”. Even if this can’t be done with every result, it should be doable with a decent proportion of the 30%.

  14. Anyone can believe in what they want. The issue is, claiming that your belief is something that it isn’t – like claiming that God created the universe is a science, which it isn’t.–Portishead

    Claiming the laws that govern nature “just are the way they are” isn’t science.

    Claiming that a population of single-celled organisms gave rise to the diversity on this planet isn’t science as it cannot be objectively tested.

    Claiming that matter and energy are all that is required to account for all we observe isn’t science.

    And BTW most of the greatest scientists who ever walked this planet saw science as a way to understand “God’s” handy-work.

  15. “Claiming the laws that govern nature “just are the way they are” isn’t science.”

    Correct, which is why science doesn’t do that. Newton may have had the first theory of gravitation, but science didn’t rest on it’s laurels and so we had Einstein later coming up with the general theory of relativity and researchers searching today for gravitons and gravitational waves, whilst astronomers look at possible changes to the behaviour of gravity over cosmological distances. It doesn’t end in “gravity is just the way it is”, nor does the rest of science.

    “Claiming that a population of single-celled organisms gave rise to the diversity on this planet isn’t science as it cannot be objectively tested.”

    Perhaps not. This is something that may never be definitively known.

    “Claiming that matter and energy are all that is required to account for all we observe isn’t science.”

    Trouble is, that IS all we need for what we observe in the universe today. If anyone thinks that something extra is needed they ought to say what else is needed and give their evidence.

    “And BTW most of the greatest scientists who ever walked this planet saw science as a way to understand “God’s” handy-work.”

    Probably true, but their feelings about it weren’t science – the work they did was, but their beliefs were just their own personal beliefs.

  16. Allanius wrote:

    “The point of Expelled (all together now) is that the materialism of the modern age is, first of all, exclusionary and brutal in its tactics, and most importantly, questionable on many fronts.”

    No – it just requires good solid evidence for alternatives as well as itself. If you think that having to provide evidence is “exclusionary and brutal” then you’ll never be satisfied because science will always require evidence. It’s certainly exclusionary and brutal about ideas that have no evidence behind them.

  17. portishead

    If science is brutally exclusionary to things lacking evidence then why doesn’t it brutally exclude the notion that chance & necessity turned bacteria into baboons? There is no evidence of it. There is evidence that bacteria and baboons are structurally related but there’s not a bit of evidence to support chance & necessity as the mechanism behind the relationship.

  18. portishead at 15

    “And BTW most of the greatest scientists who ever walked this planet saw science as a way to understand “God’s” handy-work.”

    Probably true, but their feelings about it weren’t science – the work they did was, but their beliefs were just their own personal beliefs.

    However, it was that Judeo-Christian world view within which scientific endeavors were launched. A number of authors have addressed that.

    Where is the logic in then explicitly rejecting that world view and calling it “science”?

    Once we go beyond searching for “laws” of nature, and begin to seek for the origin of “complex specified information” such as DNA and the cell “factories”, that I consider that natural laws are inadequate to explain that and we must look beyond them to intelligent causation – just as we recognize human agents as such intelligent causes for the information we see around us and this system over which we are communicating.

  19. DLH, Re 18:

    Once we go beyond searching for “laws” of nature, and begin to seek for the origin of “complex specified information” such as DNA and the cell “factories”, that I consider that natural laws are inadequate to explain that and we must look beyond them to intelligent causation

    Actually, we can refine this a bit:

    1 –> Natural regularities reflect underlying mechanical necessity that we try to capture in statements of “laws of nature.” [E.g. we see that heat + oxidiser + fuel --> fire, reliably, and infer to laws of combustion to explain it.]

    2 –> That is fine when we seek to explain regularities. But, we also try to explain contingent situations. [E.g. the origin of Garibaldi Hill here in Montserrat - monogentic (one-shot eruption) cooled down dome, or is it that we have evidence that it is a formerly active mini volcano in its own right with its own little history of eruptions, pyroclasit flows and all the way up to plinian eruptions and associated deposits?]

    3 –> Highly contingent situations arise form chance or agency, based on our observation. For simple instance: a die sits on the table in front of us, 6 uppermost: necessity, chance or agency? Necessity may explain — using gravity and the dynamics of intermolecular repulsive forces and elasticity [very slight deflection reflecting distortion of inter-atomic relationships and resulting forces] — how it simply and reliably sits on the table, but the uppermost face is either chance or agency.

    4 –> Science often studies such contingent situations, and we have developed techniques for identifying the source of contingent outcomes. For instance, experiment designs are often based on the statistics of populations and the difference between what could be expected on chance variation and intentful experimenter intervention.

    5 –> Now, in certain situations, contingency show itself in information-storage capacity, and further shows itself in functionality dependent on that information, e.g the DNA code and the molecules that hold it and process it in the cell.

    6 –> Such FSCI has a contingency pattern in which the functionality is relatively isolated in the space of possible configurations: to better than 1 in 10^150. in particular, when we have information storage beyond 500 – 1,000 bits, we can very reasonabley infer that islands of functional configurations are incredibly solated in teh config space. So much so that no random-walk based search on the gamut of our observed universe could be expected to reach the shores of an island of functionality.

    7 –> In short, biofuncitonality is observed to be base don DNA strands of at least of 300 – 500,000 4-state elements. The resulting config spaces start at about 10^180,000 cells, makign islands of functionality so isolated that they simply are not credibly accessible to a random walk based search in any even very generous prebiotic soup scenario.

    8 –> but contingencies on the relevant scale of complexity and specificity are routinely produced by agents using insight and intent: more or less reliably functional software requiring 600k bits upwards is something all of us who deal with computers address daily.

    9 -> So, we have a choice of two sources for such contingency, one of which arguably is inadequate [chance], the other of which is adequate [intelligence]. It is not hard — absent selective hyperskepticism — to see which explanation is superior.

    That’s why evolutionary materialism is doomed to failure as a paradigm.

    GEM of TKI

  20. DaveScot (17),

    “If science is brutally exclusionary to things lacking evidence then why doesn’t it brutally exclude the notion that chance & necessity turned bacteria into baboons?”

    Actually, it does exclude the notion that bacteria turned into baboons. Evolutionary theory takes the position that, aeons ago, basic life forms (we’ll use bacteria for now, but it’s not necessarily the case that it actually WAS bacteria) mutated into bacteria with a modified genome. That process continued over the ages. Eventually the modifications to bacteria resulted in new species of bacteria, which also mutated over the ages. The cumulative effect of the mutations, resulting in slightly different organisms, is what produced the diversity of life, including baboons and humans. And of that the fossil record, and increasingly our understanding of genetic relatinships, provides considerable evidence.

    “There is evidence that bacteria and baboons are structurally related but there’s not a bit of evidence to support chance & necessity as the mechanism behind the relationship.”

    It’s one of several dozen mechanisms, amply supported by evidence. It seems many IDers accept what they term “microevolution” because there is ample evidence that they cannot deny – well, that is just random mutation and natural selection. Given time, that process can and does produce entirely new species, and there is considerable evidence for it.

  21. DLH (18),

    “However, it was that Judeo-Christian world view within which scientific endeavors were launched. A number of authors have addressed that.”

    Actually, scientific endeavours were also launched in the Muslim world (China and India too) and the legacy is with us today – stars with names such as Betelgeuse and Aldebaran, for instance.

    “Where is the logic in then explicitly rejecting that world view and calling it “science”?”

    I don’t understand this. Science is a METHOD, not a worldview. Nor is that worldview “rejected” – many scientists accept it (just as many accept Islam or other religions) , it just does not arise in their work and nor is there any reason for it to arise in it. Worldviews do not provide the evidence that scientists need in order to do their work, because worldviews are a philosophical or faith position and not evidence-based.

    “Once we go beyond searching for “laws” of nature, and begin to seek for the origin of “complex specified information” such as DNA and the cell “factories”, that I consider that natural laws are inadequate to explain that and we must look beyond them to intelligent causation – just as we recognize human agents as such intelligent causes for the information we see around us and this system over which we are communicating.”

    You may consider that, but the overwhelming view of scientists wordlwide is quite different – virtually all save a handful consider that the appearance of design is not a result of actual design.

  22. 22

    Here Ye! Here Ye!

    Dr. Berlinski’s THE DEVIL’S DELUSION in stores tomorrow!

  23. Clarence in #20

    Fascinating. First you said that science does indeed exclude the notion that bacteria turned into baboons then you went on to describe how bacteria turned into baboons.

    Then you go on to claim there is ample evidence to support the assertion that time and chance can turn a bacteria into a baboon but fail to provide any of that evidence.

    I suggest you stop contradicting yourself and start supporting claims of evidence with actual evidence if you want to continue here as a commenter. “Chance of the Gaps” or “Darwin of the Gaps” doesn’t impress me any more than “God of the Gaps”. Different Gods (one is the God of Chance the other is the God of Purpose) but both share the same evidential vacuousness. Either admit both as equally scientific or discount both as equally unscientific. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. I don’t really care which course is chosen. The only thing I object to is a double standard.

  24. kf at 19, number 9. Actually you have one source for contingency that exists and is arguably inadequate, and one that is adequate and arguably nonexistent. There is as yet no undisputed positive evidence for (non-human, unless-time-traveller) intelligence acting at any particular time and place in the history of life or the universe (before modern, non-timetravelling humans).

    The fact that nobody has explained yet exactly how any particular bit of contingency came about by natural processes is not evidence that intelligence did it.

  25. 25

    Clarence @ 21,

    “because worldviews are a philosophical or faith position and not evidence-based.”

    I don’t think so. This is a classic example of the media-driven false dichotomy between “Science” and “Faith”. My “worldview” isn’t the result of my personal preference for fantasy over fact, it is the result of the conclusions I have reached based on the evidence that I have been presented with. This is also historically true of a great number of scientists who saw evidence for a Creator and strove to understand His works by studying them and explaining them to the world.

  26. congregate

    Actually you have one source for contingency that exists and is arguably inadequate, and one that is adequate and arguably nonexistent.

    re; arguably non-existent

    Non-existent in the past. I don’t believe it’s arguable that intelligent genetic engineers capable of modifying genomic content with purpose aforethought don’t exist in the universe today. So we know it’s possible. What we don’t know is if we’re the first form or the only possible form of intelligent agency.

  27. Yes, DS, that’s why I included caveats about humans and time travellers. There is certainly the possibility that an invisible pink unicorn created itself and then created complexity in the past, but there is no positive scientific evidence for that possibility. Or any other.

  28. congregate

    there is no positive scientific evidence for that possibility

    There is incontrovertable positive evidence that genetic engineers can arise in the universe. We are the positive proof of more than just possibility. We are an observed instance.

    There is no evidence to support the notion that other or past instances took the form of invisible pink unicorns. I’ll agree with that much of what you wrote. I suppose that’s progress.

  29. DaveScot (23),

    There is no contradiction, the position is quite clear. Bacteria do not turn into baboons, period. As I mentioned earlier they mutate into other bacteria, which mutate again etc. etc. for aeons. The cumulative effect of those changes over vast stretches of time is the diverse life we see on Earth today including baboons and humans. There is absolutely no contradiction there – the only difficulty is for humans such as you and I to picture a span of time of four billion years and all the events that might happen in that time.

    Nor do I recognise your “God of Chance”. There is no such thing and, as has been pointed out numerous times, evolution operates by SELECTION. If you think there are gaps in the evidence, it is because the fossil record doesn’t show each individual that ever lved sho we don’t have the “begats” that we do in the Bible. But the overall picture we get from fossils is one of increasing complexity as time goes by, and a good (and improving) record of evolutionary relationships for many creatures, including whales, horses etc. Certainly the picture isn’t perfect – but it’s a great deal better than any picture we have of design, isn’t it?

  30. Jack Golightly (25),

    “My “worldview” isn’t the result of my personal preference for fantasy over fact, it is the result of the conclusions I have reached based on the evidence that I have been presented with. This is also historically true of a great number of scientists who saw evidence for a Creator and strove to understand His works by studying them and explaining them to the world.”

    Well, if they were reying on “evidence” then it wasn’t a faith position. But I think you’ll find that when people refer to this “evidence” it turns out not to be evidence, as understood by science – it’s usually highly ambiguous and very subjective, and essentially dependent on the desires, the culture and prejudices of the observer. What you interpret as “evidence” of a Creator might not be by me or someone else – and indeed, even two people who see it as evidence of a Creator may have different interpretations of the nature of the Creator.

  31. Portishead

    Forgive me. I could have sworn you said that there was ample evidence that bacteria could slowly change form over billions of years into all the diverse forms of life we see today.

    So now you’re saying that’s not possible? Either it’s possible for bacteria to slowly change into other forms of life eventually leading to, among other things, baboons, or it isn’t possible. Please say which – possible or impossible as I now have no idea what your position is on it. If you think it is possible what’s your ample evidence of it being likely to have happened that way?

    You mention selection in all this. What is the source of variation for selection to operate on? Selection can’t do anything unless there are things to select between. Is it random variation, purposeful variation, or some combination of the two? I need you to drive some stakes in the ground so I understand your position on first what’s possible, then what’s likely, and what evidence there is that what you claim is possible or likely.

  32. DaveScot at 28:

    There is no evidence to support the notion that other or past instances [of genetic engineers] took the form of invisible pink unicorns. I’ll agree with that much of what you wrote. I suppose that’s progress.

    So, DaveScot, we’ve agreed that there is no evidence for the invisible pink unicorns. Indeed someone is making progress. But you’ve left the door open for other possibilities. And no doubt other possibilities do exist. What evidence is there for those other possibilities? And what is it about that evidence that supports those other possibilities while not supporting the invisible pink unicorn?

  33. DaveScot,

    I’ll try to put this as simply as I can. A bacteria cannot change into a baboon. I made this statement because you asked for evidence that a bacteria could change into a baboon. Now, whilst you may be familiar with the concept that accumulated changes in the genome can lead to a diversity of species over billions of years (including baboons and humans), past experience suggests that there are folks out there – largely creationists – who really do think that the position of evolution is that bacteria mutate straight into baboons. Clearly nonsense, but that seems to be the way some of them think.

    On your question about variation: the variation itself is random. Basically, as you know, our genes are based on a long self-replicating molecule called DNA. Like a lot of molecules, its stucture changes randomly depending on the conditions in which it subsists. That includes random changes which occur during replication (e.g. when reproduction occurs). Those random changes can result in expression of the genes which, in some circumstances, result in an advantage to the organism which gives it a better chance of survival and/or reproduction, in which case the advantageous mutation has more chance of being passed on to offspring. When working at a population level, the result is that the mutation propagates throughout the population because of the selection of the advantageous effects. There is absolutely no evidence for any “purpose-driven” variation.

  34. portishead

    past experience suggests that there are folks out there – largely creationists – who really do think that the position of evolution is that bacteria mutate straight into baboons.

    Really? I’m weary of addressing your empty claims, Portishead. Here’s the deal. No more of your comments will be approved until I see one with evidential support (names, quotes) of creationists who believe that Darwinian evolutionary theory says that bacteria mutate straight into baboons. Good luck.

  35. congregate

    I didn’t say that invisible pink unicorns were not possible. I said there was no evidence that any intelligent agency actually took that particular form.

    The evidence I present to you that intelligent agency could have existed in the past is that intelligent agency exists today and the the physical laws which made it possible in the present are the same, unchanged physical laws that operated in the past and will continue operating unchanged in the future.

    When something is observed in the present and the physical laws which allow it in the present are presumed to have worked the same way in the past then science works on the presumption that it was possible in the past and is possible again in the future.

    Take plate tectonics for example. We can measure the rate of movement of the plates today, we know the physical laws that drive the motion today, and we reasonably presume the same physical laws operated in the past to cause the plate movement and the same physical laws will cause them to continue to move them in the future. Another fine example is planet formation. We know that there is one earth-like planet in the universe and we presume that the same physical laws which allowed the earth to form operate the same way in other times and places so we reasonably presume that in the vastness of the universe there are other earth-like planets that may have formed. So we search for signs of them.

    Intelligent agency is no different. If it happened once and it is presumed that the physical laws which permitted it once operate the same way in other times and places it a reasonable possibility that it happened elsewhere in the vastness of time and space. So we search for signs of them.

  36. —–congregate: “So, DaveScot, we’ve agreed that there is no evidence for the invisible pink unicorns. Indeed someone is making progress. But you’ve left the door open for other possibilities. And no doubt other possibilities do exist. What evidence is there for those other possibilities? And what is it about that evidence that supports those other possibilities while not supporting the invisible pink unicorn?”

    So, what is your world view with respect to neo-Darwinism, theism, and intelligent design? Are you a materialist Darwinist or a self contradictory TE. My guess is the former. Why remain in the shadows?

  37. “The overwhelming view of scientists worldwide is quite different – virtually all save a handful consider that the appearance of design is not a result of actual design.”

    And that’s the difference between a worldview and a method.

    Just for the fun of it (and until the coffee kicks in), let’s revisit this notion of selection. As we know, Darwin himself was uncomfortable with his most famous phrase. “Selection” cannot be invoked without agency, and there is no agent in nature per se. “Survival of the fittest” was thrown in as an alternative; but this is a tautology and tells us nothing about the how of origins.

    So we’re back where we began—how to account for the self-evident goodness of nature, which was the whole point of Darwin’s book to begin with. Naïve religious people have a way of accounting for this goodness, since they believe that God created the heavens and the earth and his eternal qualitites are evident in everything that has been made.

    But what about the followers of Darwin—you know, those sober greybeards who don’t have a worldview but only a scientific method? Just what is their method of accounting for the high degree of selection necessary in order to draw something of great value from undifferentiated matter—or for that matter of accounting for matter itself?

    So far this mysterious ameliorative power has not been demonstrated in any lab under natural conditions. There is no empirical method for making it show itself or casting light on its nature. The only hard evidence we have is inferential.

    But then what “method” distinguishes Darwinism from a worldview? It interprets what is seen in nature according to the theory of natural selection. There is no clear difference between the “method” seen, for instance, in evo devo, and the worldview it reflects.

    Show ameliorative evolution in action—demonstrate it for its own sake and not merely by inference. Until then, permit us to be skeptical of Darwin’s rather bold proposition.

  38. StephenB-I’ve noticed you asking other people to state their worldview. Why are you asking?

    With respect to neo-Darwinism, I’m not sure what you mean by that. With respect to theism, I don’t believe in any gods. With respect to intelligent design, I think it is an intuition with as yet nothing substantial to back it up and no explanatory power, though it is not impossible that some day there might be more. As an unsupported and unuseful intuition, it is not an appropriate subject for US public school science classes.

  39. DS:

    Intelligent agency is no different. If it happened once and it is presumed that the physical laws which permitted it once operate the same way in other times and places it a reasonable possibility that it happened elsewhere in the vastness of time and space. So we search for signs of them.

    And have we found any signs yet?

    When something is observed in the present and the physical laws which allow it in the present are presumed to have worked the same way in the past then science works on the presumption that it was possible in the past and is possible again in the future.

    You and I exist in the present. How much would you invest in the search for signs of prehistoric DaveScot and congregate?

  40. congregate,

    Forgive me if I’m misreading you, but it seems you’re raisng the same objection you raised earlier in the thread on Chimpanzee-Human Hybrids, namely, that if we are to claim intelligence as the most likely cause we somehow need independent evidence of the presence of that intelligence.

    I answered your objection there, but the thread was closed, so you had no opportunity to respond.

    My response remains the same*:

    Artifacts are [sufficient] evidence [for] the historical presence of an intelligent agent. When we first found stone artifacts in the Americas from the ice age, it overturned the long-held idea that there were no humans on the continent during that time: the designed artifacts established historical presence. So ancient carbon-based machinery and digital coding devices establish the prescence of (an) ancient Intelligence(s).

    The point is, if we find artifacts they are usually taken as sufficient evidence of historical presence. It was the case when we found stone tools lodged in ice-age bison ribs…the artifact (the tools) needed an explanation, and the most likely explanation was intelligent agency. Even though this was the first evidence we had of Ice Age intelligence on North America, it was sufficient. I don’t see why it should be different in the case of carbon-based artifacts.

    (*Note, I included edits from my original post to make my point clearer and fix an error I made earlier.)

  41. Atom-You are reading me right. I was glad that thread was closed, because it was too long, but sorry because I was enjoying the discussion.

    The stone hunting tools you mention are indeed evidence for humans, but in large part because we know that humans existed at that time and had the ability to create similar things. We know that because of multiple lines of evidence.

    I guess our difference is that what you call carbon-based artifacts, I call biological phenomena. I don’t think there is any evidence that those phenomena are artifacts, merely an intuition that they sure are complicated. I’m not yet convinced by the vague mathematics and information theory that intelligent design proponents find so compellingly preclusive of the possibility of unintelligent origins.

    As an aside, I would say the most likely explanation for the tools was humans, rather than intelligent agency. Do you think the first archeologist who found some said “hmm, I bet an intelligent agency created this!”

  42. con

    And have we found any signs yet?

    Indirect evidence, yes. We have discovered incredibly complex nanomolecular machinery and abstractly coded specifications for their construction in all living cells. The only demonstrable way that codes and machines are created in nature is through intelligent agency. If there exists any other means of origination of codes and machines it has not yet been demonstrated. Until such a demonstration can be made there is only one explanation left standing.

    You and I exist in the present. How much would you invest in the search for signs of prehistoric DaveScot and congregate?

    Not much unless there is some potential for practical use of the knowledge. I can see no practical potential. What practical purpose is there in knowing, for example, whether birds descended from dinosaurs or not and how the modifications were acheived in that hypothetical line of descent? Evolution writ large is of no practical consequence. If it works at all it works too slowly to worry about the malaria parasite evolving into something substantially different from a malaria parasite. Historical biology is academically interesting but practically useless. All the good stuff flows from experimental biology – the study of living tissues – not from the study of imprints left in rocks.

  43. Congregate:

    Re 24:

    Actually you have one source for contingency that exists and is arguably inadequate, and one that is adequate and arguably nonexistent. There is as yet no undisputed positive evidence for (non-human, unless-time-traveller) intelligence acting at any particular time and place in the history of life or the universe (before modern, non-timetravelling humans).

    The fact that nobody has explained yet exactly how any particular bit of contingency came about by natural processes is not evidence that intelligence did it.

    Really?

    a –> We know that the state of our cosmos is such that intelligent agents may EXIST. For [as DS pointed out] we instantiate such agents. (Nor do we have any good reason to infer that we exhaust the possible nature or configuration of such agents.)

    b –> We have an observed pattern, of causal factors tracing to chance, necessity and agency; associated with observed, reliable markers: contingency, complexity, specificity.

    c –> We know that natural regularities trace to mechanical necessity, as the fire example at 19 illustrates, and as the way a die sits on a table [cf 19] illustrates.

    d –> By contrast, which of its six faces is uppermost is a contingent phenomenon, calling for different causal factors. And, we know that agency and/or chance could account for this.

    e –> Further, when we have sufficiently complex and specifically functional contingency — e.g. if we were to have a string of about 400 dice expressing in a six state code, information that guides an algorithmic process or is a message in a language or the like — such reliably traces to agency.

    f –> We have an empirically based reliable sign of agency, on the strength of which we may infer to agency [which is possible] in cases where we do not observe the agents at work.

    g –> In the case of DNA and increments in DNA for body plan level biodiversity, we have FSCI well beyond the relevant complexity bound.

    h –> We thus have excellent reason — absent a priori commitments that reflect worldview assumptions rather than evidence — to infer that DNA etc are artifacts of agency. (In effect SETI has spoken, but in a chemical signal we have known about for 55 years or so.)

    Atom has spoken well on this also.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Clarence at 21 — where, when did we have a certain specific and unique; globally transforming, self-sustaining, accelerating phenomenon often called the Scientific Revolution? What was its historical, cultural and philosophical/ worldviews context?

  44. Thank you congregate for your response.

    congregate wrote:

    The stone hunting tools you mention are indeed evidence for humans, but in large part because we know that humans existed at that time and had the ability to create similar things. We know that because of multiple lines of evidence.

    I don’t know if I set up the context clearly enough, but my point was that we didn’t know that humans were around at that time (in that part of the world at least.) Let me give you an excerpt from “1491″ (p.166) to show the proper historical context:

    Indeed, he was now claiming that the artifacts were half a million years old. Half a million years! One can imagine Hrdlicka’s disgust — Homo Sapiens itself wasn’t thought to be half a million years old. By asking Figgins to unearth any new “discoveries” only in the presence of the scientific elite, Hrdlicka hoped to eliminate the next round of quackery before it could take hold.

    In August 1927 Figgins’s team at Folsom came across a spear point stuck between two bison ribs. He sent out telegrams. Three renowned scientists promptly traveled to New Mexico and watched Figgins’s team brush away the dirt from the point and extract it from the gully. All three agreed, as they quickly informed Hrdlicka, that the discovery admitted only one possible explanation: thousands of years ago, a Pleistocene hunter had speared a bison.

    After that, Meltzer told me, “the whole fourty-year battle was essetntially over. [One of the experts, A.V.] Kidder said, ‘This site is real,’ and that was it.”

    There was a fourty-year argument over whether or not humans were there on the continent at that time. Established science (“the experts” in the book) said NO, NO, NO! Up to that point, there was no evidence of their presence, direct or indirect.

    But the discovery of a single stone artifact settled the argument was over and established the historical presence of intelligent Pleistocene humans. Tools (and machines) are sufficient evidence of the historical presence of intelligent agents.

    congregate wrote:

    I guess our difference is that what you call carbon-based artifacts, I call biological phenomena. I don’t think there is any evidence that those phenomena are artifacts, merely an intuition that they sure are complicated. I’m not yet convinced by the vague mathematics and information theory that intelligent design proponents find so compellingly preclusive of the possibility of unintelligent origins.

    It is fine if you feel that way, but again, we have direct evidence that intelligent agents can create machinery of that type but lack a corresponding level of evidence that unguided mechanisms can do so. So intelligent agents are at this point the most likely explanation.

    As an aside, I would say the most likely explanation for the tools was humans, rather than intelligent agency. Do you think the first archeologist who found some said “hmm, I bet an intelligent agency created this!”

    It is the intelligence of the humans that allow them to make sophisticated tools. This is how we know that ancient humans were intelligent in the first place: by their tools and art. So Intelligence is the important causal factor, not their “humanity”. Indeed, one can imagine alien (non-human) life forms creating similar machines, using the same causal mechanism, Intelligence. So forgive me if I cut to the chase and point out what is important causally.

  45. DS:

    Well argued.

    I would, however make a tongue-in-cheek note, i.e. that NDT serves a very “practical” purpose: it rhetorically underpins a worldview — evolutionary materialism — used to justify many policy, cultural and lifestyle agendas that would otherwise be much more questionable.

    Admittedly, that is not a technical, wealth-generating applicability, but it is a most potent “practical” use.

    GEM of TKI

  46. Atom:

    Excellent. (I couldn’t resist remarking!)

    GEM of TKI

  47. Thanks GEM.

  48. Always good to hear from you.

  49. kairosfocus,

    you said

    “that NDT serves a very “practical” purpose: it rhetorically underpins a worldview — evolutionary materialism”

    While true, it also serves another practical purpose and that it explains nearly all the origins of current world species. Just how many is certainly up for debate but the percentage of species whose origin is due to Darwinian process is very high. (I understand the debate on just what a species is can be contentious)

    So when one discusses this with someone who supports modern evolutionary theory, it should be recognized that this is where they are coming from. Supporters of ID focus on the many anomalies, while supporters of Darwinian processes focus on the large number of examples of it working.

    So when we disparage things such as neo Darwinism, we should also recognize its relevance to origin of the variety of life forms on the planet. We tend not to here as the modus operandi is to disparage just as it is on the pro Darwin sites to disparage ID.

  50. Atom- I agree with kf, well stated.

    With regard to the 1491 argument, as I said I don’t believe that ID proponents have yet uncovered the equivalent of that unambiguous stone artifact.

    Regarding the most likely explanation for complexity, I’ll repeat myself from that other thread: you are convinced it’s more likely the work of an unarguably capable agent for which there is no evidence of its existence, while I am more impressed with the agent that is only arguably capable, but definitely exists.

    Intelligence may be a necessary ingredient in complexity-making (that necessity is a key part of the basic argument of ID), but it is not sufficient. If those intelligent humans did not have opposable thumbs, or the cpaacity to interact with matter, they would not have been able to create the tools. So I don’tthink intelligence is the only thing that is important causally.

  51. —–congregate: “StephenB-I’ve noticed you asking other people to state their worldview. Why are you asking?”

    That’s a fair question and it deserves a fair answer.

    I have found ID critics are much more disposed to solicit information than to disclose it. My perception is that many of them love to scrutinize but they hate being scrutinized, meaning that they prefer to pounce from the shadows. If an ID critic is going to grill me or someone else about the design inference, I also want to grill him about what often turns out to be an irrational rejection of a self evident truth.

    One aspect of the failure to disclose is the tendency to dismiss basic terms as irrelevant. Darwinism, for example, is a perfectly legitimate term to mark those who believe in a non-directed evolutionary process, as opposed to someone like Behe, who believes in a God-directed process. For some reason, Darwinists bristle at the prospect of being accurately characterized, which, to me at least, is another indication that they would prefer not to be held accountable.

    As a general rule, Darwinists are hyper-skeptics, by which I mean that they reject not only intelligent design but also the self evident truths that make rationality possible in the first place. Quite often, they reject the scientific justification for a design inference not because the evidence isn’t there, but because they doubt the minds capacity to apprehend general knowledge at any level. Under the circumstances, their proclivity to reject ID is a special case of a more general problem, hyper-skepticism.

    In other cases, critics have decided in advance to reject the ID arguments no matter what, as is indicated when they keep posing the same objections over and over again without even bothering to consider the answers. It is part of their “no consession policy.”

    Equally important, it is helpful to know the precise nature of a critic’s biases and prejudices. We all have them, but not everyone is open to revealing them. It helps me to know, for example, whether someone is a theistic evolutionist or, as I assume in your case (you have not yet disclosed it), an atheist Darwinist. Put another way, I prefer to answer questions in the context the questioner’s scientific/philosophical world view as opposed to volleying back and forth without any communicative framework at all. It seems fair to me.

  52. congregate,

    Thank you for your kind words.

    congregate wrote:

    With regard to the 1491 argument, as I said I don’t believe that ID proponents have yet uncovered the equivalent of that unambiguous stone artifact.

    Point taken. Implicit in this admission is agreement with the general point of my example: a true artifact is sufficient to establish the historical presence of an intelligent being. You disagree about whether or not the artifacts I present are “true” artifacts, but at least you are open enough to admit that the general point I made was valid.

    But please, define a method for how we could distinguish a true artifact from merely an apparent artifact. (You have concluded that carbon-based machines are not ture artifacts, so you must have at least a general method.)

    congregate wrote:

    Regarding the most likely explanation for complexity, I’ll repeat myself from that other thread: you are convinced it’s more likely the work of an unarguably capable agent for which there is no evidence of its existence, while I am more impressed with the agent that is only arguably capable, but definitely exists.

    When we analyze this further, we see that you are subtly begging the question.

    I present an object. It is a rare type of object, but one with which we have other examples. We know from experience that intelligent agents such as humans (and theoretically other types of non-human intelligences, if they exist) can produce these types of objects at will. Moreover, we have no direct evidence that any other cause is capable of producing this type of object.

    Without knowing where or when this object came from, we tentatively conclude that intelligent agents are the most likely cause for this object.

    We then learn that it was found in a time and place where we have no other evidence for human (or non-human) intelligence being present.

    Now, either this object validly establishes the historical presence of an intelligent agent, or it does not.

    Please answer this question to yourself, does it or does it not?

    Then ask yourself if the object I am describing is a spear point found in Pleistocene strata in North America, or an ancient carbon-based digital copying machine.

    congregate wrote:

    Intelligence may be a necessary ingredient in complexity-making (that necessity is a key part of the basic argument of ID), but it is not sufficient.

    I’ll agree with you. I meant it is the most important aspect, not the only necessary one. You can add thumbs to your list if you like, but non-human, thumbless intelligent agents are not an absurd idea. Non-carbon based intelligences are also a theoretical possibility. So if we want to remain as general as possible, but not too general, we can possibly settle on necessary attributes for constructing complex machinery as:

    1) Intelligence
    2) Sufficient ability to interact with matter

    Humans can do both. Theoretical aliens could possibly do both. Matrix-style AI robots may one day be able to do both. So I think those are two necessary attributes for any machine-making agent. Would you like to add others?

  53. StephenB-
    Thanks for a fair answer.

    I think the point of an ID blog is to provide information about what ID is, and what the arguments for it are to those who are curious about it. So I’m not surprised that ID critics here behave the way you describe, nor do I think it is inappropriate.

    Darwinism may indeed be a perfectly legitimate term, but it is also one about which there is some controversy. Many mainstream biologists seem to feel it is not appropriate for various reasons, particularly when it is used by a nonmember of the group. As you define it, I guess I’m a Darwinist, since I think the evidence indicates that evolution is a non-directed process.

    As for self-evident truths and the possibility of rationality, that’s beyond the level of my thinking on this issue. I have not studied the question but it is not evident to me how the existence or nonexistence of design relates to the truths that make rationality possible, whatever they may be.

  54. —–congregate: “Intelligence may be a necessary ingredient in complexity-making (that necessity is a key part of the basic argument of ID), but it is not sufficient. If those intelligent humans did not have opposable thumbs, or the cpaacity to interact with matter, they would not have been able to create the tools. So I don’tthink intelligence is the only thing that is important causally.”

    Intelligence is a necessary but insufficient explanation for the cave man’s first hunting club, his handy sharpened-stone, and his all-purpose skinning and killing tool. Intelligence is a necessary but insufficient explanation for the scratched pictures on the walls of the cave dwelling, or for the symbols that represented words and sentences. By your standards, we cannot draw inferences about intelligent agency from these artifacts.

  55. Atom-

    But please, define a method for how we could distinguish a true artifact from merely an apparent artifact. (You have concluded that carbon-based machines are not ture artifacts, so you must have at least a general method.)

    That is the central goal of ID theory, so I don’t feel too bad about not having a good answer. I guess my conclusion is that it is not possible to distinguish a true artifact from an apparent artifact based solely on the object itself. It can only be done with knowledge of the context of the object. Maybe this is where one of StephenB’s self-evident truths should come in, but is failing to make itself evident to me. :)

    Now, either this object validly establishes the historical presence of an intelligent agent, or it does not.

    Please answer this question to yourself, does it or does it not?

    For me, a single apparent spear point found in billion year old rock would be an interesting discovery and spur a search for more, but would not by itself validly establish the presence of an intelligent agent. It might suggest the presence of a previously unknown natural process. The presence of an iPod would probably establish the existence of an intelligent agent though. Maybe I don’t know enough about how reliably spear points are identified.

    Then ask yourself if the object I am describing is a spear point found in Pleistocene strata in North America, or an ancient carbon-based digital copying machine.

    Well, you said it’s rare, so it can’t be an ancient carbon-based digital copying machine; those are all over the place. You don’t want to see the ones in the back of my refrigerator.
    I think the pre-1927 lack of evidence for pleistocene humans in North America is of a different magnitude than the current lack of evidence for pre-500,000 years ago intellligence. Given the evidence now in existence, and the nature of the searches that have been made so far, I think it is a lot more likely that new (old) human settlements will be discovered than that new (Earth-affecting) intelligences will be discovered. But that likelihood has not been scientifically determined by me, in either case.

    Regarding the necessary attributes for an agent to create complex machinery, it may be stating the obvious, but the only one I can think of to add to intelligence and sufficient ability to interact with matter is existence.

  56. StephenB at 54: I didn’t make myself clear, I guess. I meant just the opposite of what you took from my quoted statement.

    If we grant that intelligence is necessary for the creation of complexity, then all those things you describe are indeed the basis for an inference of intelligent agency. However, intelligence is not sufficient to create them. A goldfish with the intelligence of Einstein would not be able to create a sharpened stone. At least by my definition of intelligence.

  57. congregate wrote:

    The presence of an iPod would probably establish the existence of an intelligent agent though

    Again, I appreciate your frankness in agreeing that any “true” artifact is sufficient evidence to establish the historical prescence of an intelligent agent. You say that an iPod would do it. So the general point must be valid.

    I wrote:

    Then ask yourself if the object I am describing is a spear point found in Pleistocene strata in North America, or an ancient carbon-based digital copying machine.

    and you responded:

    Well, you said it’s rare, so it can’t be an ancient carbon-based digital copying machine; those are all over the place. You don’t want to see the ones in the back of my refrigerator.

    Rare is a relative term; I ment rare in terms of physical objects; I think you would concede that machines and tools are not the most common types of objects in the cosmos.

    But let’s not get stuck on an unimportant word. Please remove “rare” from my scenario.

    Revised:

    I present an object. It is a type of object of which we have other, known, examples. We know from experience that intelligent agents such as humans (and theoretically other types of non-human intelligences, if they exist) can produce these types of objects at will. Moreover, we have no direct evidence that any other cause is capable of producing this type of object.

    Without knowing where or when this object came from, we tentatively conclude that intelligent agents are the most likely cause for this object.

    We then learn that it was found in a time and place where we have no other evidence for human (or non-human) intelligence being present.

    Now, either this object validly establishes the historical presence of an intelligent agent, or it does not.

    Please answer this question to yourself, does it or does it not?

    Then ask yourself if the object I am describing is a spear point found in Pleistocene strata in North America, or an ancient carbon-based digital copying machine.

    You still don’t know which type of object I’m referring to.

    Earlier, you learned and conceded that if I was discussing a spear head, it is rationally valid to infer the historical presence of an intelligent agent from such object.

    But if the object is an ancient digital carbon-based copying machine, which is a perfectly acceptable reading of the above, then suddenly it is not rationally valid to infer the historical presence of an intelligent agent from such object, even though described in exactly the same terms in the scenario.

    You problem appears to not with the method, but with the implications.

  58. Fruthermore,

    congregate wrote:

    I think the pre-1927 lack of evidence for pleistocene humans in North America is of a different magnitude than the current lack of evidence for pre-500,000 years ago intellligence.

    How is this so? There was a complete lack of evidence for humans on the North American continent during that time, according to the scientific consensus of that day. Indeed, anyone who disagreed was labelled a “crank” and would have their career in anthropology/archeology ruined.

    From “1491″, p. 164:

    Hrdlicka regarded himself as the conscience of physical anthropology and made it his business to set boundaries. So thoroughly did he discredit all purported findings of ancient indians that a later director of the Bureau of American Ethnology admitted that for decades it was a career-killer for an archeologist to claim to have “discovered indications of a respectable antiquity for the Indian.

    In Europe, every “favorable cave” showed evidence “of some ancient man.” Hrdlicka proclaimed in March 1928. And the evidence they found in those caves was “not a single implement or whatnot,” but of artifacts in “such large numbers that already they clog some of the museums in Europe.” Not in the Americas, though. “Where are such things in America?” he taunted the amateurs.

    Hrdlicka and all the other professional anthropologists of his day were as convinced of the absence of evidence concerning Pleistocene Americans as you are concerning ancient Carbon-Machine builders. You both purport(ed) that there was/is no evidence for the existence of either.

    As a side note, Hrdlicka never changed his mind, even after the Folsom findings. He remained firm in his conviction that there simply could not be any ancient Americans to the end.

    Others were not as stubborn.

  59. Sorry, I thought you were using “ancient carbon-based digital copying machine” to refer to a biological organism. Did I misunderstand?

    If we know something is a spearhead, we can infer a historical intelligent agent from its existence. Indeed, we can go farther and infer a human as far as I’m concerned.

    But if the item is a self-replicating organism, we don’t need to infer an intelligent agent. We know they come from their parents. Who come from their parents, and so on. And at some point there was a first self-replicating organism but that is so far back in the mists of prehistory that it is not yet determinable how it happened.

    So, I see the capability for self-replication as a material difference between the case of the spear head (or iPod) and the biological organism. If you see a sparrow in your backyard, do you infer an intelligent agent designed it (that particular sparrow)?

    I guess most ID proponents are skeptical of the power of self-replication (with heritable variation) to arrive at various levels of complexity. But I’ve never seen a step-by-step analysis of a particular feature showing where the design was added in.

  60. If we know something is a spearhead, we can infer a historical intelligent agent from its existence.

    Agreed. So artifacts establish historical presence, as long as their classification being “artifacts” is the best current explanation.

    Therefore, you would not pull a Hrdlicka and say “What spearhead? That cannot be a spearhead; spearheads come form humans, and we have no evidence that there was anyone around to construct it.” The object itself is the evidence of historical presence.

    My original point is therefore established.

    congregate wrote:

    But if the item is a self-replicating organism, we don’t need to infer an intelligent agent. We know they come from their parents. Who come from their parents, and so on. And at some point there was a first self-replicating organism but that is so far back in the mists of prehistory that it is not yet determinable how it happened.

    The digital copying machines come from other digital copying machines. Great. But digital copying machines did not always exist on earth, so the turtles only extend so far down. They came from somewhere. I have direct evidence for the capabilities of my hypothesized mechanism (Intelligence), as you also conceded. Therefore, it looks like my mechanism (being the only directly demonstrated capable cause thus far) is the best explanation at this point and therefore these machines provide evidence for an intelligent historical presence, by the method we already established.

  61. Regarding 1491-
    There was no agreed upon evidence of humans in North America, but there was already agreed upon evidence of humans in the Old World at the disputed time, right? Whereas there is currently no generally agreed upon evidence for any nonhuman intelligent agent acting anywhere ever? (Ignoring the stick-using chimps and fruit-washing baboons for the moment). I see that as a significant distinction.

    Which do you think would get bigger headlines in the newspapers, evidence that the first human presence in North America was twice as old as previously thought, or evidence that non-human intelligent agents exist anywhere in the universe? I vote for the latter. The expected difference reflects that there is a different level of surprise (and importance too, I grant) generated by the two hypothetical findings.

    The story is a positive one about science, isn’t it, though. Even if the leading expert of the time refuses to change his mind, presentation of actual evidence will outweigh pronouncements from on high.
    The ID field researchers just need to figure out the most likely locations for the factories or workshops in which those digital carbon-based copying machines were made, or where the spec sheets were filed, and then start digging. That’s what the tiktaalik guys did, they figured out where a transitional fossil was likely to be, and went digging in that spot, and eventually they found something like what they were expecting. Personally I don’t think sitting in the faculty office at the seminary stroking your beard, or taking part in debates before undergraduate members of the Campus Crusade for Christ is going to get it done.

  62. Atom re 60:

    I still think that you have to deal with the fact that your mechanism (intelligence) has not been shown to exist, in a form that can interact with matter, apart from relatively modern animals.

    You might as well say interaction with matter is the mechanism for creation of complexity. It’s not a satisfying answer from a scientific point of view.

  63. —–congregage: “If we grant that intelligence is necessary for the creation of complexity, then all those things you describe are indeed the basis for an inference of intelligent agency. However, intelligence is not sufficient to create them. A goldfish with the intelligence of Einstein would not be able to create a sharpened stone. At least by my definition of intelligence.”

    congregate, the fact that intelligence is only one of a many causes doesn’t change the fact that design is present and detectable. You are assuming that all explanations must conform to the mechanistic paradigm, but that is precisely where the problem is. Intelligent design isn’t looking for mechanisms; it is looking for information codes, patterns, intelligence, or as we like to say, “design.”

    By definition, it is impossible to discern any of these things from the mechanistic paradigm, because that model rules them out apriori. Because you have a prior commitment to that methodology, no amount of evidence can change your mind. For you, everything MUST occur as a result of law and chance, therefore, nothing CAN occur as a result of intelligent agency. All of these (excuse me, please) irrelevant objections about multiple causes are mere extensions of your commitment to methodological naturalism.

  64. congregate wrote:

    I still think that you have to deal with the fact that your mechanism (intelligence) has not been shown to exist, in a form that can interact with matter, apart from relatively modern animals.

    What would qualify as evidence that ancient intelligences existed, if not artifacts?

    (Don’t say bones, because bones only demonstrate physicality, not intelligence.)

    For example, how do we know that ancient tool-makers existed in other parts of the world at that time? Did not the tools themselves establish the presence of Old World tool-makers?

  65. StephenB 63:
    I’m not sure I follow your line of argument here.

    I said (or thought I said) that design is detectable in your sharpened stone, hunting club, etc. I think that is design that is a result of the acts of an intelligent agent (a human). I have conceded that there is evidence imaginable which would be compelling evidence of nonhuman design. But the evidence of information codes and patterns in self-replicating organisms does not yet strike me as a convincing case.

    I don’t know what you mean by a mechanistic paradigm. Do you mean materialistic paradigm? A materialistic paradigm, as I understand it, rules out nonmaterialistic sources of design. I happen to believe in a materialistic paradigm at the moment, not because of a prior commitment to it, but because I have not seen any credible evidence for nonmaterialistic entities.

  66. congregate,

    There was something in what you wrote that I miessed commenting on. Please allow me to do so.

    You wrote:

    …but there was already agreed upon evidence of humans in the Old World at the disputed time, right? Whereas there is currently no generally agreed upon evidence for any nonhuman intelligent agent acting anywhere ever?

    Now, your remark subtly (maybe slyly) glosses over the obvious fact: though there were tool-making humans in the Old World at that time, it wasn’t Old World humans that made the tools in question. We had no evidence of New World humans at that time; no designers to be found, if you will.

    So while the existence of Old World humans made the existence of ancient Americans more plausible, it didn’t provide evidence of ancient Americans. It was the tools (artifacts) which did that.

    In short, the Old World humans were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They weren’t the designers.

    In the same way, current human intelligence provides plausibility for the idea of ancient intelligence (by at least showing that intelligent agents can exist and build machines), but we are at the wrong place at the wrong time. We weren’t the designers.

    But the ancient artifacts provide the evidence that some designer was there. That is, unless you can demonstrate your proposed cause capable of producing objects of the type in question. As far as has been empirically demonstrated, only intelligent agents can produce those kinds of objects. Therefore, those kinds of objects serve as positive evidence for the presence of intelligent agents.

  67. “I said (or thought I said) that design is detectable in your sharpened stone, hunting club, etc. I think that is design that is a result of the acts of an intelligent agent (a human). I have conceded that there is evidence imaginable which would be compelling evidence of nonhuman design.”

    OK: fair enough. I guess I thought you were arguing that multiple causes compromise design detection.

    —–“I happen to believe in a materialistic paradigm at the moment, not because of a prior commitment to it, but because I have not seen any credible evidence for nonmaterialistic entities.”

    What about the intelligent agencies (cave men) that we just discussed. Wouldn’t you call that evidence?

  68. StephenB at 67:
    I’m still not sure where you are going with this. The tools are evidence for the existence of intelligent designers, which I believe the cavemen to be. Are you pointing out that the cave men are evidence for intelligent design? I would disagree with that, of course.

  69. Atom 64 (I’m falling behind!)

    I’m not sure whether we are on the same page here regarding some of our terms. When I said:

    I still think that you have to deal with the fact that your mechanism (intelligence) has not been shown to exist, in a form that can interact with matter, apart from relatively modern animals.

    By “relatively modern animals” I meant early and modern humans and the various other animals that may arguably demonstrate intelligence, as distinguished from whatever intelligence may have done designing at the time of, for example, the Pre-Cambrian Explosion.

    What do you mean by “ancient”?

    Continuing on, you asked:

    What would qualify as evidence that ancient intelligences existed, if not artifacts?

    (Don’t say bones, because bones only demonstrate physicality, not intelligence.)

    Well, bones of something that looked closely related to modern humans would be evidence for the existence of intelligence, but I’m assuming by “ancient” we mean before the earliest such population. Beyond that, I guess artifacts would by definition be the only possible evidence. I still am not convinced that anything in biology is likely to be an artifact of a designer.

    As to your final paragraph there:

    For example, how do we know that ancient tool-makers existed in other parts of the world at that time? Did not the tools themselves establish the presence of Old World tool-makers?

    I don’t know how we “officially” know that tool makers existed. I presume there are the tools and other artifacts as well: fire pits, trash heaps, art, etc. The tools establish that these organisms were in fact tool makers. How do we know that they were humans, or the ancestors or cousins of modern humans? Might they have been time travelling humans, aliens, or gods?

  70. —–congregate: “Are you pointing out that the cave men are evidence for intelligent design? I would disagree with that, of course.”

    Yes, of course. That would be evidence of intelligent design. What is your argument against it? Are you suggesting that the writing on the cave wall could reasonably be attributed to law and chance? You are not going to hearken back to the “multiple cause” argument again, are you?

  71. Atom 66-
    Whatever I did, it was so subtle I didn’t even notice it myself.:)

    In the same way, current human intelligence provides plausibility for the idea of ancient intelligence (by at least showing that intelligent agents can exist and build machines), but we are at the wrong place at the wrong time. We weren’t the designers.

    I don’t have any problem with the possibility of ancient (Pre-Cambrian ancient) intelligence. If intelligence is defined to include (alone or among other possibilities) the activity of an omnipotent deity, then it is possible that it could have occurred in pre-Cambrian times, or last Thursday, or both.

    But the ancient artifacts provide the evidence that some designer was there. That is, unless you can demonstrate your proposed cause capable of producing objects of the type in question. As far as has been empirically demonstrated, only intelligent agents can produce those kinds of objects. Therefore, those kinds of objects serve as positive evidence for the presence of intelligent agents.

    So I have to demonstrate my proposed cause is capable of producing objects of the type in question? But you don’t have to provide evidence that your cause existed at the time and place it did the work (the cause of which is at issue), except for the evidence that the work was done? That still doesn’t seem quite fair to me.:)
    My proposed cause is non-directed evolution. But I don’t see a way to distinguish between that and directed evolution. So I don’t think it’s possible to demonstrate that my proposed cause ever did anything if the possibility of intervention by an omnipotent designer is always on the table. How could I prove that any particular variation was the result of random occurrences rather than the intervention of the designer?

  72. StephenB-
    For some reason you and I are not communicating well.

    The writings on the cave wall are the result of intelligent design, performed by the cavemen.

    The cavemen are not, in my mind, evidence of intelligent design. As far as I am concerned they are the result of non-directed evolution.

  73. congregate

    How could I prove that any particular variation was the result of random occurrences rather than the intervention of the designer?

    Ah, now you’re zeroing in on a big problem. It’s called demarcation – what distinguishes a scientific hypothesis from a non-scientific hypothesis.

    Many things in science can’t be proven. So how do we determine if something that can’t be proven is a valid scientific hypothesis? Karl Popper solves the demarcation problem by introducing the concept of falsifiability. An hypothesis that can never be proven (he illustrated it with a famous example “The Black Swan Hypothesis”. Popper says that a hypothesis which cannot be proven is still scientific if it can, at least in principle, be disproven. While we can never prove that black swans don’t exist because we can never be sure we’ve searched for one everywhere in the entire universe the hypothesis that no black swans exist is still scientific because the observation of a single black swan will falsify the hypothesis.

    So my question to you is:

    How may the theory of evolution based on chance & necessity be, at least in principle, falsified?

    You’ve already admitted it can’t be proven. If you can’t come up with a way, in principle, to disprove it, then it isn’t a scientific hypothesis – it’s a “just so” story.

    I await your method of falsification. I propose that to be scientific the chance & necessity theory can only be disproven, in principle, by confirmation of intelligent design. But if intelligent design isn’t a valid scientific hypothesis then it can’t be used as a method of falsification – you can only falsify science with science.

    P.S. Don’t fixate on black swans. We know now (Popper didn’t when he made up the example) they do indeed exist. They were observed and the scientific method worked as Popper said it should work – the scientific hypothesis “no black swans exist” was falsified by the observation of a black swan. It’s all still good science.

  74. congregate (con’t)

    I restate the biological ID hypothesis so it conforms to Popper’s requirement for falsification thusly:

    ID Hypothesis: Complex machines and codes to drive them, exemplified by DNA and ribosomes, cannot be created absent the involvement of intelligent agency.

    The hypothesis may be falsified by a single observation (or demonstration) of a code driven machine being created without the assistance of an intelligent agent.

    So you see my ID hypothesis must admit the chance & necessity hypothesis as a valid scientific hypothesis otherwise there’s no means to falsify my hypothesis. The converse is also true. The chance & necessity hypothesis must admit that the ID hypothesis is a valid scientific hypothesis otherwise there’s no means to falsify the chance & necessity hypothesis. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either chance & necessity and ID hypotheses are both valid scientific hypotheses or neither one them is valid. Take your pick – both or neither? I’m actually good with whatever choice you make as long as the choice is one of those two.

  75. Congregate:

    This rather begs the question:

    The cavemen are not, in my mind, evidence of intelligent design. As far as I am concerned they are the result of non-directed evolution.

    For, in the DNA of said cave men there lies the functionally specified and massively complex DNA code, ~ 3 bn base pairs worth.

    We know empirically just one type of causal factor capable of originating such FSCI: intelligence. This, we know from many, many direct observations [without a single counter-example where we directly know the causal story], and we have good reason to infer that there is no good reason to suppose that he other main source of contingency, chance in one form or another, is capable of getting to the FSCI in the first cell, much less the full orbed DNA of the cave man.

    Now, can you show good, empirically anchored reason relative to this issue, to infer that undirected chance processes backed up by natural selection are dynamically competent to cause cave men?

    GEM of TKI

  76. Congregate, please: The cavemen are examples of intelligent designers. They carved out pictures on the cave wall dwelling. That is the only thing needed for making a design inference. Why did you raise the issue of cavemen being the product of intelligent design? I know you don’t believe that.

  77. StephenB
    I just wanted to state my position clearly, because I didn’t understand what you were asking when you said:

    What about the intelligent agencies (cave men) that we just discussed. Wouldn’t you call that evidence?

    From that sentence I thought you were suggesting that the cavemen were the evidence.

    DS- I plan to follow up with your comments later.
    kf- as of today I am unable to provide you with anything you would consider good, empirically anchored reason relative to this issue, to infer that undirected chance processes backed up by natural selection are dynamically competent to cause cave men?

  78. Congregate:

    The issue is not what “I” — GEM of TKI — would consider “good, empirically anchored reason” but what is the objective state of the case on the merits of empirical fact and cogent scientific and philosophical reasoning.

    We have in hand a reliably known cause of FSCI and reason to believe that chance + natural regularities are not reasonably capable of creating FSCI.

    That is excellent reason — absent question-begging — to infer to FSCI as a reliable SIGN of and empirical evidence for antecedent intelligence as its cause whenever it appears. At least, if we respect the general inductive principles that underly science.

    THAT seems to me to be the context in which there has been a recent effort to try to redefine science to be more or less the best evolutionary materialistic account of the cosmos from hydrogen to humans. For, by that improper burden of proof shifting, the circle in the logic is veiled and those who object can be sneeringly dismissed as “inferring to the — gasp, horror of horrors — Supernatural.”

    Thus, the recent indefensible “definition” of science proffered by the 2007 Kansas School Board as an example — one traceable to efforts by the NAS, NCSE etc:

    Science is a human activity of systematically seeking natural [i.e. in effect, materialist only] explanations for what we observe in the world around us . . . As it is practiced in the late 20th and early 21st century, science is restricted to explaining only the natural world, using only natural cause. This is because science currently has no tools to test explanations using non-natural (such as supernatural [which is of course an allusion to the Barbara Forrest-style slanderous and atmosphere-poisoning allegation that ID infers tot he supernatural, as opposed to the truth: it infers, on empirical evidence, to intelligent action]) causes.

    So, after 150 years of Darwinism, can you kindly explain [relative to sound basic principles of reasoning and evidence] — or simply link — on those premises, how chance variation plus natural selection can account for body-plan level evolution, and — on sound physical principles — the chem evo based origin of life? [Cf my always linked.]

    GEM of TKI

  79. 79

    Portishead 30

    “Well, if they were reying on “evidence” then it wasn’t a faith position. But I think you’ll find that when people refer to this “evidence” it turns out not to be evidence, as understood by science – it’s usually highly ambiguous and very subjective, and essentially dependent on the desires, the culture and prejudices of the observer.”

    This is a two ay street, typically only applied to a scientist with a religious view. For your thought to be whole, you must admit that it follows from your comment that the worldview of the atheistic scientist is therefore a bound product of his/her worldview as well.

    Sorry, double standards don’t cut it.

  80. kf- as of today I am unable to provide you with anything you would consider good, empirically anchored reason relative to this issue, to infer that undirected chance processes backed up by natural selection are dynamically competent to cause cave men?

    Thank you, please come again.

  81. DS

    The [ID] hypothesis may be falsified by a single observation (or demonstration) of a code driven machine being created without the assistance of an intelligent agent.

    If an omnipotent deity (one that is able to interact with matter without leaving detectable evidence) is considered a possible intelligent agent there is no way to falsify the ID hypothesis as you state it.

  82. —-congregate: “kf- as of today I am unable to provide you with anything you would consider good, empirically anchored reason relative to this issue, to infer that undirected chance processes backed up by natural selection are dynamically competent to cause cave men?”

    congregate, the waters have been sufficiently muddied with all of this discussion about cave men being the EFFECT of intelligent desgin. If you agree that the cave men are intelligent agents, then we agree that a design inference can be made. I gather that kairosfocus was responding to your mistaken notion that I was positing the cave man as an effect. So, can we get back to the issue of the writings on the cave walls as a clear indication of intelligent design. I am confident that kairosfocus would prefer to frame the issue that way as well.

  83. Upright BiPed (70),

    I’m happy to agree that anybody’s worldview is a product of their worldview, regardless of whether they are atheist or not.

  84. Steve:

    Actually, I would indeed like to see C address the point that C-M are intelligent agents, and Atom’s point that the discovery of an artifact [a spear point embedded in an animal skeleton] was empirical grounds for inferring to the existence of agents at the time and place.

    However, the remark C made at 72 is itself a major begging of the question of intelligence and FSCI as a reliable sign of intelligence: in effect C is insisting that apart from independent evidence of the existence of agents within reach of the time and place in question, we may not use the fact that only agents are observed to produce FSCI, to infer from FSCI to agents. That does not seem proper to me.

    So, given the points I have made above ever since 19 above [cf also 43] I have called on him to justify his position, so that we can see that he is not simply begging the question.

    Evidently, he has no answer, and no link [never mind all the Darwinista sites out there . . .] that can substantiate that chance + necessity acting in the observed physical cosmos can — per empirical evidence and demonstrated dynamics — reasonably give rise to the FSCI in the DNA in Cave men [and in bacteria for that matter].

    Notice, how C then tried to frame his response: to say that it is my standard of proof that is the problem.

    Sadly, I am simply asking for the common garden variety standard of proof that dynamical theories in — for instance — physics are routinely expected to meet: a theory of change must be reasonably able to show how the changes in question happened relative to reasonable starting points and factors at work across time. [Cf for instance Newtonian dynamics, the classic example of a theory of initial conditions, factors affecting changes, and resulting rates and accumulations of change. Of course N invented calculus long the way as the mathematics of rates and accumulations of change. Similarly, dynamical models in Economics tend to use sets of difference equations to handle stepwise approaches to change -- now of course a major field of study, digital filters. Even the Finance of the time value of money and related instruments is a case in point.]

    What does that tell us about what is going on in biology, and has been going on for many decades? (Especially since there are many biologists who want to claim that their theories of macro-scale evolution are as well established as theories of gravitation.)

    GEM of TKI

  85. congregate

    Ommipotent intelligent agents are out of bounds for epistemoligic reasons. If we allow that then we’d have to consider that an omnipotent intelligent agent can plant false memories in our heads and we therefore can’t trust any observation – not your observation of chance and not my observation of agency.

    Let’s stay within the bounds of science. If it can’t be observed it can’t be admitted as either direct or indirect evidence.

    I await your answer as to how, scientifically, the chance & necessity theory can be falsified.

    Warning: when a persistent ID critic refuses to answer my pointed questions they get banned.

  86. DS said:

    I await your method of falsification [of the theory of evolution based on chance and necessity]. I propose that to be scientific the chance & necessity theory can only be disproven, in principle, by confirmation of intelligent design. But if intelligent design isn’t a valid scientific hypothesis then it can’t be used as a method of falsification – you can only falsify science with science.

    Well, ID is defined as everything that is not necessity or chance, isn’t it? At least under Dembski’s explanatory filter? So anything that would disprove necessity or chance would be design.

    I’m not up on my philosophy of science. I’m not convinced by your assertions that science can only be falsified by science. Science is a practical method, not something that can be plugged into assertions like that to make laws.

    As long as you are here, DaveScot, back at 35 you said:

    I didn’t say that invisible pink unicorns were not possible. I said there was no evidence that any intelligent agency actually took that particular form.

    Is there any evidence that intelligent agency took any particular form? Is the invisiblle pink unicorn more or less likely than Zeus?

  87. congregate

    Is there any evidence that intelligent agency took any particular form?

    No.

    Is the invisiblle pink unicorn more or less likely than Zeus?

    I have no data to form an opinion on that.

    If your next comment doesn’t answer my question about how chance & necessity can be falsified you’re out of here. Your ignorance of the philosophy of science is not my problem. My problem is you spreading your ignorance here and me having to correct it.

  88. C:

    Re;

    ID is defined as everything that is not necessity or chance, isn’t it? At least under Dembski’s explanatory filter?

    1 –> I think, first, we need to see that we first have a very good idea of what intelligence is from concrete examples we experience.

    2 –> Also, FYI, the trichotomy chance — necessity — intelligence is so old that it was immemorial in the days of Plato, as this excerpt from his the Laws, Book X will make clear:

    Ath. . . . we have . . . lighted on a strange doctrine.

    Cle. What doctrine do you mean?

    Ath. The wisest of all doctrines, in the opinion of many.

    Cle. I wish that you would speak plainer.

    Ath. The doctrine that all things do become, have become, and will become, some by nature, some by art, and some by chance.

    Cle. Is not that true?

    Ath. Well, philosophers are probably right; at any rate we may as well follow in their track, and examine what is the meaning of them and their disciples.

    Cle. By all means.

    Ath. They say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance [this is a very old debate!], the lesser of art, which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . . . fire and water, and earth and air, all exist by nature and chance . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them . . . After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . . Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [i.e. mind], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body? . . . . if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise

    3 –> Similarly, we know very well what natural regularities tracing to mechanical necessity look like, and we have a fair idea of what chance processes look like and do. In short, it just will not do to in effect dismiss “intelligence” as a dumping-ground category.

    4 –> For, we routinely SEE acknowledged intelligences in action — indeed, we personally experience it ourselves. We may not fully understand it, and may not be able to give a neat and sweet definition immediately acceptable to everyone, but that is life. Indeed — life is exactly another case in point of this need to identify cases and reason by family resemblance.

    5 –> We know from direct experience and observation, that intelligence routinely creates FSCI, and that we may routinely and reliably check that cases of FSCI where we can observe the causal process, come from intelligence. That is: we are looking at a reliable empirical regularity.

    6 –> So WD has every right to infer from CSI as observation to the known cause of cases where we observe the causal process. [Observe, you cannot give us a counter-example; we can give any number of examples, including the posts in this very thread. What is that telling us?]

    GEM of TKI

  89. PS: i tis probably worth the while to note this 2004 discussion of ID:

    Intelligent design is the science that studies signs of intelligence. Note that a sign is not the thing signified. Intelligent design does not try to get into the mind of the designer and figure out what a designer is thinking. Its focus is not a designer’s mind (the thing signified) but the artifact due to a designer’s mind (the sign). What a designer is thinking may be an interesting question, and one may be able to infer something about what a designer is thinking from the designed objects that a designer produces (provided the designer is being honest). But the designer’s thought processes lie outside the scope of intelligent design. As a scientific research program, intelligent design investigates the effects of intelligence and not intelligence as such. (William A. Dembski, “Chapter 1: Intelligent Design: What is intelligent design?” in The Design Revolution, pg. 33, The Design Revolution (InterVarsity Press, 2004)

  90. DS-
    Sorry, I missed your comment 85 the first time while I was drafting what turned out to be 86.
    I didn’t mean for the correction of my ignorance to take up so much of your time. I know it’s a lot of ignorance, but there are many other competent commenters here who are able to help me, don’t take it all upon yourself.

    I’m not sure there is any single observation which can falsify all of the chance and necessity understanding of evolution, but here are some suggestions:
    When a small population of a single species was transplanted to a series of islands with slightly different environments, if the gene pools on the separate islands do not diverge at all, that would be evidence against the standard theory of evolution. If the gene pools diverged in ways that did not match well with the various environments, that would be evidence against the standard understanding of evolution. If dogs occasionally gave birth to cats, that would be evidence against the standard theory of evolution. If a evidence reflecting every existing species at one particular point in time existed, and similarly complete evidence existed for the point in time ten years later, and the later set included species with significantly different body plans, that would be evidence against the standard theory of evolution.

    I commend you on your stand for materialistic science in 85.

  91. congregate

    All the examples you gave serve to falsify common descent. I have no problem with common descent and neither do many other (perhaps not most) ID proponents. ID doesn’t do anything to either dispute or confirm common descent.

    So if we define evolution as just “descent with modification” and leave out the part about random variation and natural selection being the underlying mechanism then you and I will no longer have much to disagree about.

    What all us ID proponents have in common is we don’t believe that chance and necessity is an adequate mechanism to create all the required modifications that occured during the course of evolution. We believe that only intelligent agency is the only demonstrated means of some of those modifications. The modifications we’re talking about can be basically summed up (in my words) as the creation of novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans. Evolution didn’t happen without changes in all four categories. Chance & necessity has never been observed or been demonstrated by experiment to be sufficient to generate those novelties.

  92. Well Dave, as I understand the standard theory of evolution, those major modifications would have to have occurred over long periods of time, and would likely have occurred in small populations. We aren’t likely to see any of them happen in a single human lifetime. If ID predicts something different, maybe we will.

    So what evidence could there be? Fossils. The fossil record as you know is not exhaustive; as far as we know it does not currently provide evidence reflecting every existing species at any particular point in time (let alone two points relatively close together), and seems unlikely ever to do so. Most cell types, tissue types and organ types are soft tissue that is particularly unlikely to fossilize. Most body plans seem to have appeared before the evolution of hard tissue at all. Nevertheless there are some transitional series that many scientists consider compelling evidence for stepwise transitions. Given the unlikelihood of genes fossilizing, there is no way to be sure exactly how closely the organisms in those series are related. The regulars here have heard about them before and are not compelled.

    I guess I don’t believe there is a smoking gun for either side out there. But I think the evidence fits pretty well with the standard evolutionary theory. And I don’t see how there could be any evidence which would falsify frontloading by some unknown entity (or any other proposed ID hypothesis). Insects have six-legged body plan, while mammals have four, and reptiles have zero or four? Frontloaded that way. Yeast can reproduce asexually or sexually? Frontloaded that way. Marsupials common in Australia, placental mammals in the rest of the world? Designed that way.

    I think as a matter of science Occam’s Razor cuts against the explanation which requires the positing of a designer which leaves no signs except ambiguous ones in its design work.

    You say elsewhere you love a mystery. Which is the more elegant, satisfying and useful solution to this mystery?

  93. C:

    You are again leaving out the crucial issue: functionally specified, complex information:

    1 –> We know to moral certainty that cell-based life rests on FSCI, e.g. as expressed in DNA. DNA starts at 300 – 500 kbases, and moves on up, with the Cambrian revolution in the fossil record — at the start of the chain of major diversification — showing TOP-down change, not bottom up change. Dozens of phyla and subphyla, in a 10 Ma or so window, with ~ 100 mBases as a reasonable metric for the required information increments. The resulting config spaces required for OOL and OO body-plan level biodiversity are huge, so far beyond the UPB that we have excellent reason to infer that they simply cannot be reached by chance + necessity only on the gamut of our observed universe, not even once; due to utterly overwhelming improbability.

    2 –> Notice, too: we can do the FSCI test in the here and now — provide ONE case of FSCi originating by chance + necessity only within our observation. You cannot — or you would have long since done so. Nor can the serried ranks of the critics of ID.

    3 –> That FSCI is reliably and routinely generated by agents is as easily shown as by pointing to the thread above.

    4 –> In short, FSCI is a known reliable sign of intelligent action, so when we see it in DNA, we are well warranted to infer to such agency.

    5 –> So, we are not dealing with any vague, “ambiguous” sign; save in the minds of those determined to resist the plain, overwhelming weight of the evidence on what makes FSCI, probably for worldview reasons. [Certainly, that is what comes through loud and clear in the attempts to redefine science as applied materialism, to often backed up by slander and career busting.]

    Second, in claiming an inadequate fossil record [just as was claimed by Darwin] you leave off the key point on sampling theory.

    Namely, that by far and away, most samples of a population resemble the population to a great extent. For NDT-style macroevolution to be true, there had to have been multiplied millions of major transitions, which would show up on a cross section of perhaps hundreds of thousands of fossil species [as classified] in the multiplied millions of fossils collected over the years; significant numbers [probably hundreds or thousands] of clear — not just-so story — transitional cases should have turned up in the past 200 years or so of active fossil collection.

    But, what has happened is that we now probably have fewer candidates for transitional forms than in Darwin’s day!

    The gaps in the fossil record are very real, and they have been plainly real for a long time. So much so, that various ad hoc hyps are now put forth to blunt their message.

    And, that means that Occam’s Razor is cutting away all right, but not as you seem to imagine.

    GEM of TKI

  94. kf-
    If it’s so clear and obvious to you, why is it not generally accepted?
    1) conspiracy of millions of materialists (many of whom belong to various religious faiths) to deny the obvious
    2) millions of materialists are so deep in denial they can’t see the obvious
    3) Satan
    4) perhaps you are mistaken?
    5) other
    What is the most likely explanation for this conundrum?

  95. congregate: If you are going to offer kairosfocus a multiple-choice quiz, you ought to at least include the correct answer as one of your options.

    Inasmuch as 95.8% of evolutionary biologists are atheist/agnostic, it just may be that they are not kindly disposed to any scientific enterprise that discusses non-material realities.

  96. congregate

    This certainly would not be the first time that a theory accepted by the majority was in actuality erroneous so I dont see how going dow this path helps you much. I would recommend “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas Kuhn.

    Furthermore I would think that for a theory that is so well accepted and apparently so well docuemnted you should have little prolem in providing the evidence KF has requested from you.

    So far the best that you can do is say that the evidence for the mechanism of evolution (rmns)is comon descent as if common descent can possibly be the proof of the mechanism. This is nothing but a circular argument.

    Your second line of argument is nothing more than another fallacious argument ie the argument from authority. Everyone belives i to be so therefore it must be so.

    What is sadly lacking is EVIDENCE. Do you have any for KF?

    Vivid

  97. StephenB- Go back one more time to my multiple choice answers, if you will and read option number 5.

    There is no scientific enterprise which discusses non-material realities, whatever those are. Science is and for the last several centuries has been the search for natural explanations of the natural world. To the extent it has been a search for non-natural explanations, as I think some here claim, it has been an abysmal failure. Can anyone here list the non-natural explanations that are generally accepted in the scientific community?

    Science cannot disprove the existence of non-material realities. Science cannot rule out intelligent design. All scientists can do is say “this is my best sense of how it happened.”

  98. Vivid-
    If you go back and read kf’s posts here, and his always linked, I think you will see that he is familiar with all the evidence and finds it sadly lacking. There is nothing I or anyone else can produce that would change his mind. He knows how many bits were in the first self-replicating molecule for God’s sake. Nobody else can imagine what it was, and he’s counting its bits! How is any mere blog commenter going to tell him anything he hasn’t heard and dismissed in five well padded numbered paragraphs before?

  99. C — and SteveB and VB:

    First, Steve and VB, thanks on the challenge to provide evidence of spontaneous, chance + necessity only origin of FSCI, in general and as required to support the Darwinian style story of origins.

    For, indeed, no authority — singular or collective — is any better than that authority’s facts, assumptions and reasoning.

    C, further to Steve’s remark:

    Inasmuch as 95.8% of evolutionary biologists are atheist/agnostic, it just may be that they are not kindly disposed to any scientific enterprise that discusses non-material realities.

    Kindly, first, observe the recent attempts to redefine science as in effect the best evolutionary materialist account of the cosmos, from hydrogen to humans. In short, there is plainly a lot of closed-minded question-begging going on, in a context where most scientists of today’s generation are woefully ignorant to the point of being laymen on the relevant history and phil issues on defining science or addressing the challenge of the logic of induction, especially the inference to best explanation form that is at the heart of scientific investigations.

    Indeed, it would well repay us all to take time to re-read Plato’s Parable of the Cave, with an eye on the apparatus of manipulation that that worthy discussed [but which is glided over as a rule in most modern discussions that rush on to his theory of the forms; the Matrix movie series at least gets that part right].

    Then, think about the state of science in the early decades of C17, where by far and away most scientists accepted the longstanding Ptolemaic picture as extended and elaborated across time — the longest run of a scientific theory of all time, I’d say: 1500 years, and which was giving a “reasonable” view of the data in hand.

    Were they and their “consensus” right?

    The point is that scientific views are always provisional and are subject to evidence.

    Kindly provide same, as I asked.

    GEM of TKI

  100. —–”StephenB- Go back one more time to my multiple choice answers, if you will and read option number 5.”

    Fair enought. The option was indeed there

    —–”There is no scientific enterprise which discusses non-material realities, whatever those are. Science is and for the last several centuries has been the search for natural explanations of the natural world.”

    Not so fair. Methodological naturalism is the new kid on the block, and this new kid has become a juvenile delinquent. It is one thing to “emphasize” the importance of natural explanations; it is quite another thing to close the door to anything else. The emphasis has been around for a while, but the iron clad rule is new and destructive. Science is contingent on the current state of knowledge. Things change. The discovery of coded information has given us a whole new ball game. The insistence that everything remain excatly the same no matter what the circumstances is nothing short of psychotic.

  101. C:

    I find a couple of points in your onward responses that appear at 97 – 98 very illuminating, but not in a happy way:

    1] 97: There is no scientific enterprise which discusses non-material realities, whatever those are. Science is and for the last several centuries has been the search for natural explanations of the natural world.

    Historically false and philosphically question-begging — as long since pointed out and linked at 101 level.

    For starters, “several centuries” carries us back to C17, the period of the scientific revolution. As for instance Newton [C17 - 18] and Maxwell [C19] and Kelvin [C19 - 20] or for that matter today’s gene gun inventor, Sandford [C20 - 21]exemplify, a great many of the founders of science — and for that matter many effective or even eminent practitioners to this day [where they are not censored from speaking their minds!] — affirm that they are exploring the order of God’s universe. (As a tid-bit FYI, much of Maxwell’s conception of electromagnetism had to do with the way his church was thinking about the doctrine of the Trinity in light of a systems-oriented view!)

    The classic term for this approach to science was: thinking God’s thoughts after him. If you are not familiar with that term, think about what that means about just how deeply censored your education has been.

    Second, there is a category confusion: when one explains natural regularities one seeks for mechanical necessities that reliably give rise to those low-contingency patterns. But, science also studies high-contingency situations [not least, the accounts of geology and biology of origins try to address such], and so must advert to causal factors competent to account for high contingency — chance and/or agency. Indeed, the application of statistics [e.g. Fisherian style null-hyp rejecting hypothesis testing and ANOVA] and control vs treatment studies to scientific investigations address precisely the challenge of discriminating chance and intent. Going further, the inference to message in the face of noise in communication science and information theory, has much to do with discerning the characteristics of agency vs chance processes.

    So, science in fact routinely addresses the three causal factors and understands that contingency, complexity and [functional] specificity are relevant signs of which factors predominate.

    What is really happening is that by imposing the “natural explanations” criterion, certain factions in science and philosophy are seeking to smuggle in the back door, that if inference to agent action in a particular context might possibly challenge the evolutionary materialist picture of origins, from hydrogen to humans, then it is rejected by being question-beggingly tagged “unscientific.”

    That is tantamount to saying that science is redefined as applied atheism.

    It also censors inference to the best explanation, by turning it into inference to the best materialistic explanation. But, science properly is an empirically anchored search for the truth about our world.

    Let us hear the classic definitions of science and its method again:

    science: a branch of knowledge conducted on objective [i.e open to independent checking, and factually and logically anchored] principles involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe. [Concise Oxford, 1990]

    scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge [”the body of truth, information and principles acquired by mankind”] involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. [Webster's 7th Collegiate, 1965]

    2] There is no scientific enterprise which discusses non-material realities, whatever those are.

    Kindly explain to me the precise nature of mathematical and informational entities . . .

    3] If you [Vivid] go back and read kf’s posts here, and his always linked, I think you will see that he is familiar with all the evidence and finds it sadly lacking. There is nothing I or anyone else can produce that would change his mind . . .

    I find this return to an ad hominem, in the teeth of my protest above at 84, all too sadly telling:

    Notice, how C then tried to frame his response: to say that it is my standard of proof that is the problem.

    Sadly, I am simply asking for the common garden variety standard of proof that dynamical theories in — for instance — physics are routinely expected to meet: a theory of change must be reasonably able to show how the changes in question happened relative to reasonable starting points and factors at work across time. [Cf for instance Newtonian dynamics, the classic example of a theory of initial conditions, factors affecting changes, and resulting rates and accumulations of change. Of course N invented calculus long the way as the mathematics of rates and accumulations of change. Similarly, dynamical models in Economics tend to use sets of difference equations to handle stepwise approaches to change — now of course a major field of study, digital filters. Even the Finance of the time value of money and related instruments is a case in point.]

    What does that tell us about what is going on in biology, and has been going on for many decades? (Especially since there are many biologists who want to claim that their theories of macro-scale evolution are as well established as theories of gravitation.)

    4] He knows how many bits were in the first self-replicating molecule for God’s sake. Nobody else can imagine what it was, and he’s counting its bits!

    C, this strawman caricature is really disappointing.

    You will kindly note that I have pointed out that observed life forms exhibit DNA chains of from 300 – 500,000 base pairs to approximately 3 bn. That is a fact, and it is a further fact that the lower end are “too simple” i.e. these are organisms which depend on others to provide essential nutrients that they lack the ability to internally create. [Indeed, ~ 1 mn bases is more like a reasonable estimate, but I am being generous.]

    I have then pointed out that this is the empirical data that has to be accounted for: a config space of order at the absolute low end, beyond which life functionality disintegrates, about 4 ^300,00 ~ 10^180,000. [Or do you want me to not round down from 360,000?]. In such a space, we will find biofunctional, code-bearing configs to be lost, not least because the code is optimised to give stop codons if something goes wrong. And that is before we ask where did the rest of the algorithm-processing machinery to get life to work come from.

    I have a very simple explanation, as per Trevors and Abel:

    a –> codes and algorithms are a routinely and reliably observed artifact of agency.

    b –> Code-bearing molecules of the sort of complexity we are looking at in real, observed cases, are well beyond the credible reach of chance and the known natural regularities, on the gamut of our observed cosmos [and if the laws of the universe have "life" written into them, that too is telling!].

    c –> But, agents routinely produce code-bearing, informational digital strings of comparable bit length.

    d –> On inference to best explanation per known and known to be reliable signs of intelligence, life is the product of intelligent action. [Notice, I have not said "supernatural" action. That is a common slander, e.g. in the work of the Kansas School Board, circa 2007, and of course Ms Forrest and co.]

    e -> On that, we may then proceed to reverse engineer cell based life, i.e the design inference is neither a science nor a technology stopper.

    f –> For that matter, should there be a credible, observationally anchored mechanism that shows how life plausibly came about by chance + necessity without influence of agency, then, the inference — which is, per the limits of scientific reasoning, empirically anchored and provisional — would be surrendered. That is, we are not dealing with a closed minded approach.

    g –> C, you have not been able to provide a counter under f; but instead have attacked the man. That is revealing, sadly so.

    So, when you then resort to critiques of style, that is telling on want of substance.

    Indeed, it brings to mind a remark or two from the original post:

    Expelled executive producer Walt Ruloff began with a short presentation. He talked about his background in computer technology and how he founded a logistics-optimization software company in his early 20s that became spectacularly successful, primarily, according to Walt, because they thought outside the box and questioned everything.

    After Walt sold his company he became involved with the biological research and technology world, and discovered that the exact opposite was the case: people in this field were and are not allowed to ask questions. Walt was totally shocked when it was revealed to him by one of the leading genomic researchers in the U.S., who gets all his funding from the NIH and NSF, that the only way to get funding is to pretend to believe in Darwinian orthodoxy. Even more horrifyingly, this leading genomic researcher (whose face is blacked out and voice disguised in the movie, to protect him from the destruction of his life and career by Darwinists) said that as much as 30% of the research in his field is shelved and never published because it might provide ammunition for “creationists.” In order to stand any chance of being published, interpretations of biological research must be artificially force-fit into the Darwinian paradigm, regardless of the evidence.

    There is a word for that: censorship, plainly in service to the suppression of the known or knowable but inconvenient truth.

    If that uncomfortably echoes the parable of Plato’s Cave and Rom 1:18 – 32, so be it: certainly, I did not make it so.

    “Who de cap fit, let ‘im wear it . . .”

    GEM of TKI

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