A Simple Argument For Intelligent Design

When I come across a new idea, I like to see if there are any relatively simple and obvious arguments that can be levied for or against it.  When I first came across ID, this is the simple argument I used that validated it – IMO – as a real phenomenon and a valid scientific concept.

Simply put, I know intelligent design exists – humans (at least, if not other animals) employ it.  I use it directly.   I know that intelligent design as humans employ it can (but not always) generate phenomena that are easily discernible as products of intelligent design.  Anyone who argues that a battleship’s combination of directed specificity and/or complexity is not discernible from the complexity found in the materials after an avalanche is either committing intellectual dishonesty or willful self-delusion – even if the avalanche was deliberately caused, and even if the rocks were afterward deliberately rearranged to maintain their haphazard distribution.

Some have argued that we only “recognize” human design, and that such recognition may not translate to the intelligent design of non-human intelligence.  The easy answer to that is that first, we do not always recognize the product of human design. In fact, we often design things to have a natural appearance. That we may not recognize all intelligent design is a given and simply skirts the issue of that which we can recognize.

Second, it is again either delusion or dishonesty to ignore a simple hypothetical exercise: in some cases, were we to find certain kinds of objects/phenomena [edited for clarity] on distant,  uninhabited and otherwise desolate planets, would we be able to infer that such  were most likely specifically designed by intelligent creatures of some sort for some purpose?

Again, the obvious answer to this except in cases of delusion or or dishonesty is “yes”.   Then the question becomes: without a scientifically valid means of making such a determination, how would one be made? Intuition? Common sense? Is the recognizable difference between such artifacts and those that appear to be natural not a quantifiable commodity? If not, how do we go about making the case that something we find on such a planet is not a naturally-occurring phenomena, especially in cases that are not so obvious?  There must be some scientifically-acceptable means of making such a determination – after all, resources committed to research depend upon a proper categorical determination; it would quite wasteful attempting to explain a derelict alien spacecraft in terms of natural processes – time and money better spent trying to reverse engineer the design for practical use and attempting to discern the purpose of its features.

Thus, after we make the determination that said object/phenomenon is the product of intelligent design, our investigatory heuristic is different from what it would be were we to assume the artifact is not intelligently designed.  A scientific, categorical distinction is obviously important in future research.

The idea that there is no discernible or quantifiable difference between some products of ID and what nature produces without it, or that such a determination is irrelevant, is absurd. One might argue that the method by which ID proponents make the differential evaluation between natural and product of ID (FSCI, dFSCI, Irreducible Complexity, Semiotic System) is incorrect or insufficient, but one can hardly argue such a difference doesn’t exist or is not quantifiable in some way, nor can they argue that it makes no difference to the investigation.  One can hardly argue, IMO, that those attempts to scientifically describe that difference are unreasonable, because they obviously point at least in spirit to that which obviously marks the difference.  IMO, the argument cannot be against ID in spirit, but rather only about the best way to scientifically account for the obvious difference between some cases of ID and otherwise naturally-occurring phenomena, whether or not that “best accounting” indicts some phenomena as “product of design” that many would prefer not to be the case.

The only intellectually honest position is to admit ID exists; that there is some way to describe the differential in a scientific sense to make useful categorical distinctions (as “best explanation”), and then to accept without ideological preference when that differential is used to make such a determination.  If the best explanation for biological life is that it was intelligently designed, then so be it; this should be of no more concern to any true scientist than if a determination is made that some object found on a distant planet was intelligently designed, or if a feature on Mars is best explained as the product of water erosion.  To categorically deny ID as a valid, scientific explanatory category (arrowheads?  geometric patterns found via Google Earth? battleships? crop circles? space shuttle? potential alien artifacts?) is ideological absurdity.

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451 Responses to A Simple Argument For Intelligent Design

  1. Some good points. I have always found the arguments against design based on us having no rigorous scientific way of deciding to be disingenuous. I also find the glee expressed at this ignorance distasteful – after all, since some things are designed, and since there is an acknowledgement we have no rigorous scientific way of telling, to say it is unacceptable to even suggest design on that account is simply reveling in ignorance.

    Moreover, a good response when people use that argument is to turn it round and ask how, if science has no way of determining whether anything was ever designed or not, they can be so sure, so sure as to make it a central point of their theory, that stuff was not designed? Surely an honest answer here would simply be to acknowledge the possibility of both rather than to take non-design as some default position – especially when everyone acknowledges the stuff in question look for all the world as if it was designed.

  2. I just love it when critics claims there is no evidence for design.

    If you ask what they would accept as evidence for design you’ll be lucky to get a serious answer. But some will say, show me the designer.

    [Leaving aside the question of whether producing "a designer" would convince them...]

    One has to wonder whether they accept the big bang theory.

    Where’s their big bang generator?

    I’ll never believe that humans evolved from the same common ancestor as chimps until they can show me the actual common ancestor.

    I’ll never believe that humans evolved from the same common ancestor as chimps until they can show me the environment(s) that produced the divergences.

    etc etc

    So yes, it often comes down to a matter of intellectual honesty.

  3. 3

    Mung,

    I’ve had people actually argue that there is no way to determine if such an alien artifact was the product of ID or not without being able to find and interview the alien designers themselves. They are so intent (perhaps, in some cases, subconsciously) on maintaining a firewall between theism and science that they will advance any argument or criticism no matter how obviously invalid or untrue it is.

    If one cannot admit even the most obvious things simply out of the fear that it might lend ground to those who believe differently, then one is not practicing intellectual honesty.

  4. 4
    Kantian Naturalist

    in some cases, were we to find certain kinds of artifacts on distant, uninhabited and otherwise desolate planets, would we be able to infer that such artifacts were most likely specifically designed by intelligent creatures of some sort for some purpose?

    This is where things begin to go off the rails, and the problem lies in how that little word, “infer”, is being used here.

    Obviously, once something has been classified as an artifact, it’s analytically true, or “true by definition,” that it was made by some intelligent being. So the inference from artifact to artificer is vacuously true.

    The real question is this: suppose we discover structures and objects on distant and alien worlds and form the belief that these are artifacts, i.e., we classify them as such. As I see it, the only basis for such classification would be the similarity of these structures and objects to ones that we already classify as artifacts. (For example, the alien objects might display symmetry or proportionality.)

    But of course one can easily imagine alien beings whose artifacts bear no resemblance to our own. Would intelligent aliens whose bodies are not bilaterally symmetrical have a sense of symmetry that we could recognize? Possibly, but I’m doubtful.

    In other words, what is described here as an “inference to the best explanation” is nothing of the kind: it is a matter of conceptual classification grounded on perceptible similarities and differences, together with an analytic inference that is trivially true, but only once the classification has been made.

    My chief complaint against design theory, given what I know of it, is that it collapses the organism/artifact distinction.

    The argument for design seems to be like this:

    (1) organisms and artifacts both display functional complex specified information;
    (2) all FCSI in artifacts is due to human intelligence;
    (3) we don’t know of merely physical process that can generate FCSI;
    (4) therefore it is highly likely that the FCSI in organisms is due to some non-human intelligence.

    Now, a couple of things:

    (A) the conclusion, (4), is not in any sense a well-grounded scientific theory. This is an argument, not a theory, and woe to those who fail to grasp the difference! What has been reached in (4) is only the beginning of a scientific theory, because it has not been tested. All the “testing” that design theory has done so far is to establish (1)-(4) based on probability theory.

    (B) I think (1) is actually false, and that FCSI is actually a useless notion when all is said and done. For one thing, we do not observe FCSI — FCSI is a posit, we postulate it, in order to account for the observable similarities between organisms and artifacts.

    But I think that the differences are far more striking than the similarities. Organisms are robust, have a lot of positive and negative feed-back cycles, can self-repair, have a lot of redundancy; artifacts tend to be brittle, have a simple construction with limited feedback cycles (if any), cannot self-repair, and have very little redundancy. The way that design theorists get around this is to say something that basically comes down to, “organisms and artifacts are exactly alike, except for all the differences”. That’s weak tea, man.

    It should go without saying, but around here it usually doesn’t, that I’m generally sympathetic with some (but not all) of the criticisms of neo-Darwinism that are made by design theorists and interested parties.

    So my provisional conclusion is that design theory is a non-starter and that evolutionary theory is radically incomplete (at best). In other words, we really do not have a good theory of life. I find it quite interesting that here we are, the age of “bio-” this and “neuro-” that, and yet the conceptual foundations of biology are in really bad shape.

  5. 5

    KN,

    I didn’t make a case about organisms, nor about FSCI (or any other proposed ID determiner) in particular. The case I made was about the fundamental concept of ID as valid outside of the most contested arena – organisms.

    So: is it your position that there is no, or can be no scientifically valid means of determining whether or not such an object found on such a planet is best explained as the product of ID, even if that ID couldn’t be empirically connected to humans?

  6. 6

    BTW, I edited the “artifact” in the O.P. so we will not get derailed via semantics.

  7. @KN
    It may be the case that we wouldn’t be able to identify a structure as designed, but that’s not to say we never could, nor that we could/would never be justified in inferring design. Also, it’s unclear that how a ‘conceptual classification grounded on perceptible similarities and differences’ couldn’t also be an inference to the best explanation.

    The point here is that the basic question is surely this: here is some stuff, how did it come about? And thus it’s unclear how design could possibly be a non-starter without something deliberately (illegitimately) stopping it from starting.

  8. I’ve posted the case here before; earth blows up tomorrow, and some time later, aliens arrive on Mars and find the rover there. Can they not determine it was the product of intelligent design?

  9. 9

    es58: another example would be that we observe no flowing water on mars, but recently made an inference to best explanation that flowing water is the (provisional) best explanation for certain features.

    One might make all kinds of spurious and specious arguments against such a finding if they have some sort of biased commitment against “flowing water on Mars at some point in the past” as best explanation in the first place.

    One might argue that there is no evidence other than that which is contested that water ever flowed on Mars. They might contest that just because erosion generates certain noticeable effects under Earthly conditions doesn’t mean those same effects cannot be reproduced on other planets via other mechanisms or materials. They might argue that since we only have erosion on Earth as a sample, there is not a large enough sample base to make a determination for features found on other planets.

    It is obvious that it is some sort of ideological bias/reaction to ID in particular that generates relentless spurious and specious objections even over trivial statements/hypotheticals.

  10. 10

    In #9: cut “another example”, insert “an analogy”.

  11. KN:

    Pardon, but there is no requirement that we have a procedure that with 100% reliability produces a decision IS/IS NOT an artifact [of whatever manufacture], in order to recognise on induction and related analysis, that we have certain reliable signs that point to design as best explanation:

    I: [signs} –> signified class of cause, on a Warrant

    WJM’s point is that we are in such a position, and that is good enough to go.

    KF

  12. Time out of mind it has been by way of the “final cause,” by the teleological concept of end, of purpose or of “design,” in one of its many forms (for its moods are many), that men have been chiefly wont to explain the phenomena of the living world, and it will be so while men have eyes to see and ears to hear withal.

    – D’Arcy Thompson

    Organisms and Artifacts: Design in Nature and Elsewhere

  13. AMEN. Spot on as the foreigners say.
    Mankind always has concluded complexity equals complex mechanisms equals a thinking being as opposed to something falling out of a tree.

    Saying its extreme to see a creator as even a option is just not well thought out opposition.

  14. Semi OT: OT: Yet another level of complexity discovered in DNA:

    ‘Quadruple helix’ DNA discovered in human cells – January 20, 2013
    ‘Quadruple helix’ DNA discovered in human cells January 20, 2013 In 1953, Cambridge researchers Watson and Crick published a paper describing the interweaving ‘double helix’ DNA structure – the chemical code for all life. Now, in the year of that scientific landmark’s 60th Anniversary, Cambridge researchers have published a paper proving that four-stranded ‘quadruple helix’ DNA structures – known as G-quadruplexes – also exist within the human genome.,,,
    Physical studies over the last couple of decades had shown that quadruplex DNA can form in vitro – in the ‘test tube’, but the structure was considered to be a curiosity rather than a feature found in nature. The researchers now know for the first time that they actually form in the DNA of human cells.
    “This research further highlights the potential for exploiting these unusual DNA structures to beat cancer –,,,
    “It’s been sixty years since its structure was solved but work like this shows us that the story of DNA continues to twist and turn.”,,,
    While quadruplex DNA is found fairly consistently throughout the genome of human cells and their division cycles, a marked increase was shown when the fluorescent staining grew more intense during the ‘s-phase’ – the point in a cell cycle where DNA replicates before the cell divides.,,,
    It’s a philosophical question as to whether they are there by design or not – but they exist and nature has to deal with them.,,,
    “The ‘quadruple helix’ DNA structure may well be the key to new ways of selectively inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells. The confirmation of its existence in human cells is a real landmark.”
    http://phys.org/news/2013-01-q.....cells.html

  15. Correction, first part should read:

    ‘Quadruple helix’ DNA discovered in human cells – January 20, 2013
    Excerpt: In 1953, Cambridge researchers Watson and Crick published a paper,,,

  16. 16
    Kantian Naturalist

    William Murray asked:

    So: is it your position that there is no, or can be no scientifically valid means of determining whether or not such an object found on such a planet is best explained as the product of ID, even if that ID couldn’t be empirically connected to humans?

    In a sense, yes, for the following reason: I don’t think that structures and objects just have intrinsic properties that tell us whether they belong in the ‘designed’ category or the ‘natural’ category.

    Think of it this way: we start with the least contentious items for the category of artifacts: the things that we know human beings make all the time. Then we ask, “well, what about chimpanzee nests? or beaver dams? or spider webs?” At some point we’re going to make some tough calls, where we might say something like, “yeah, spider webs look like they’re intentionally designed by the spider, but given how rudimentary the spider’s brain is, the intricacy and organization of the spider web is really just a result of instinct.”

    Now we consider some object discovered on another planet, and we ask, “designed or natural?” If the designers are sufficiently like us, then it will appear to us as designed; if they aren’t, it’s an open question. I don’t see how we could, just by looking at the darn thing, decide which category it belongs to.

    It’s perfectly plausible that it actually could be designed, but not appear to us as designed because the minds of the designers are too different from our own, and it’s perfectly plausible that it could be natural, but appear to us as designed because of the peculiar geology or meteorology of that distant world.

    In short, I don’t see how we could so much as detect, let alone avoid, either false positives or false negatives when it comes to objects found on alien worlds.

    At (7):

    Also, it’s unclear that how a ‘conceptual classification grounded on perceptible similarities and differences’ couldn’t also be an inference to the best explanation.

    Because inferences require judgments, and judgments require concepts, so inferences are what you do with something after it has either found a home within one’s conceptual framework, or given one reasons to create a new concept (or family of concepts) and thereby revise one’s conceptual framework. An object needs a home in a system of concepts before judgments about it can be entered into the inferential network, including scientific explanations.

  17. If I have a bunch of threads and leave them on an uninhabited planet, left to the “natural elements”, laws of physics, etc, as they are currently understood, I don’t expect to find them, after any period of time, (perhaps in a multiverse, but there could be a 747 next to it as well?) woven into a piece of cloth in a tight neat weave of the top quality that industry can produce. If I found them that way, I’d infer design as the best explanation (occam’s razor?), even in the absence of any evidence of a designer. The most basic life seems more complex to me than this, so, I’d reach the same conclusion. Not sure which “scientific” test I’m applying though.

  18. 18
    Kantian Naturalist

    I don’t think that “inferring design as the best explanation” actually captures what is going on in that thought-experiment.

    I think that if one were to leave a pile of cotton on a seemingly lifeless and barren moon or planet, and then returned later to find that it had been turned into cloth, anyone would just see it as having been purposefully transformed by some intelligent beings.

    We would just classify it as having been designed, or what’s the same thing, we would experience it as having been designed. The inference-to-the-best-explanation comes in when we ask, “since it must have been designed by some intelligent being on this planet, let’s see if we can find any further evidence of them — maybe survey teams overlooked something.”

    As for living things, I’ll certainly grant that they are terribly complex in all sorts of fascinating ways, but they’re not complex in the way that artifacts are. We can construct a general category, “stuff that’s really complicated”, and put both organisms and artifacts in that category. And what does that do for us? We can construct a category, “beverages”, and put both coffee and wine in that category. But it certainly wouldn’t follow that wine is made from beans, or coffee from grapes.

    Whether the relational property of having been designed applies to organisms, as it does to artifacts, depends on how impressed one is by the relevant similarities between them. I’m just not impressed by the similarities at all.

  19. WJM: Nobody is denying the existence of Intelligent Design (as a general concept) … its all around us, but to make the leap from life to ‘a designer did it’ requires such a fantastically huge violation of Ockhams razor, its just not funny.

    FSCI etc are not much help here. Beloved of Dembski as they are, they are derided by anyone that understands that stuff.

  20. 20

    KN @16:

    I don’t think that structures and objects just have intrinsic properties that tell us whether they belong in the ‘designed’ category or the ‘natural’ category.

    So, according to KN, a battleship and a space shuttle do not have intrinsic properties that provide sufficient warrant for a “best explanation” finding of “intelligently designed”.

    There’s no argument that I can make against those that deny the obvious.

  21. Graham2:

    …but to make the leap from life to ‘a designer did it’ requires such a fantastically huge violation of Ockhams razor, its just not funny.

    You don’t understand Ockham’s Razor. You’re not alone. It’s frequently abused in these debates.

  22. There’s no argument that I can make against those that deny the obvious.

    Deny the Oblivious!

  23. 23

    Graham2 said:

    WJM: Nobody is denying the existence of Intelligent Design (as a general concept) … its all around us, but to make the leap from life to ‘a designer did it’ requires such a fantastically huge violation of Ockhams razor, its just not funny.

    I think the real question is whether or not you agree in principle that there is a quantifiable difference between that which is easily recognizable as product of ID (battleship) and that which appears natural(rock/crystalline formation)?

    I mean, whether or not you agree that such a method of quantification has been found, and whether or not the various proposed methods have any merit, isn’t it obvious that there is indeed some kind of quantifiable difference between the two – rock/crystalline natural formation & a battleship?

  24. WJM:

    So, according to KN, a battleship and a space shuttle do not have intrinsic properties that provide sufficient warrant for a “best explanation” finding of “intelligently designed”.

    But isn’t it their extrinsic properties that make them appear designed?

    KN:

    I don’t think that structures and objects just have intrinsic properties that tell us whether they belong in the ‘designed’ category or the ‘natural’ category.

    Could you clarify what you mean by intrinsic properties?

    In a sense I agree with you. “Natural” is not a real category. But surely “designed” is a real category.

  25. 25
    Kantian Naturalist

    In a sense I agree with you. “Natural” is not a real category. But surely “designed” is a real category.

    I find that very perplexing — how can one be, and the other not? Isn’t that very contrast central to the whole ID position?

  26. 26
    Kantian Naturalist

    It’s their extrinsic (i.e. relational) properties which determine whether they really are designed or not. Generally speaking, things that appear to be designed really are, and things that don’t, aren’t. But that classification depends on a great deal of background knowledge about who or what designed them, and how, and why.

    In the case of objects found on extra-terrestrial planets, none of that background knowledge can be taken for granted, and my contention is that in the absence of that background knowledge, we would not even know how to apply our categories.

    No doubt we will figure out how to revise, even radically revise, our concepts in order to make sense of whatever it is that we discover out there, but I don’t think there’s any principled method that we decide upon, merely by careful reflection while sitting in our armchairs, just how the revisions would proceed.

  27. I find that very perplexing — how can one be, and the other not? Isn’t that very contrast central to the whole ID position?

    Considering that ID holds that the natural world shows evidence of design I don’t see how that could be the the case.

    :)

    Are beaver dams natural while human constructed dams are not?

  28. According to ID theory, what is it specifically that was designed?

    What are the best examples of humans intelligently designing organic life? This kind of design cannot be artificial selection because AS uses pre-existing, living things; AS directs or influences life without designing it in the sense meant by ID. Neither are we talking about genetic modification, for something like the same reason. So, what are the examples we use to say that we see intelligent design of living things around us? What are the examples of making new organisms and establishing their mode of life, growth, population interaction, and ecological position?

    It’s one thing to talk about watches and machines, and entirely another to talk about living forms and living systems.

  29. WJM: I dont think we have a method of distinguishing designed from not-designed, yet. Most of the time we just rely on the ‘I know it when I see it’ method: it seems bleeding obvious that a watch is designed, and a rock isnt.

    As KN points out, it could get even more interesting on another planet where even this breaks down.

  30. 31

    LarTanner: I’m not making a case about organic life.

    Graham2: When people refuse to directly answer specific questions (like that which I posed at the end of #23), I find it usually to be in order to protect their ideology.

  31. 32
    Kantian Naturalist

    Are beaver dams natural while human constructed dams are not?

    I wouldn’t even know how to go about answering this question. In order to address what the question seems to be asking, I would need a large family of concepts, such as “culture,” “language,” “concepts”, “experience,” “learning,” “innate”, “acquired”, “rationality,” “social cooperation,” “practice”, “institution”, “physical”, “mental”, and no doubt many more as well.

  32. 33
    Kantian Naturalist

    isn’t it obvious that there is indeed some kind of quantifiable difference between the two – rock/crystalline natural formation & a battleship?

    Difference, yes; obvious, yes; quantifiable, I’m not so sure.

    Here’s how I see the difficulty. Suppose we compare (i) a crystalline formation; (ii) a battleship (or car, or whatever); (iii) a bacterium.

    We can construct the following categories: Category A for (i) and (ii), excluding (iii); Category B for (ii) and (iii), excluding (i); Category C for (i) and (iii), excluding (ii).

    Now, it seems to me that design theory is committed to the idea that Category B is somehow more intuitive or more obvious than Categories A and C. And to be honest, I really just don’t see it.

  33. WJM: This one? … isn’t it obvious that there is indeed some kind of quantifiable difference …

    My answer was NO, there isnt a quantifiable difference. Bleeding obvious maybe, but not quantifiable. Sort of like the difference between emotions, or whatever.

  34. I’m not making a case about organic life.

    Shouldn’t you be?

    In any case, that’s partly why I ask about what specifically the ID is supposed to have designed.

  35. 36

    KN: can you rephrase #33 without including biological elements, since I purposefully left it out of my argument to avoid this kind of derailment?

    Do you believe there is no quantifiable difference between the category of phenomena represented by the battleship, and the category of phenomena represented by all known natural-occuring phenomena **excluding** biological phenomena?

  36. 37

    LarTanner: ID is supposed to be the best explanation for the existence of a battleship. Do you dispute that?

  37. 38

    Graham2 said @34:

    My answer was NO, there isnt a quantifiable difference.

    Can you tell me why you believe there is no quantifiable difference, even though you admit the difference is obvious?

  38. KN @ 18
    > I’m just not impressed by the similarities at all.

    translation, transcription, layers (and multiple kinds) of error correction to extraordinary levels of fidelity , massive parallelism, massive concurrent processing, code, “command and control” co-ordination,

    some of this seems likes what has been intentionally designed and placed into computers. I’m impressed by the similarity.

    just that the accomplishments in the bio, for example the degree of overlapping of the code, dwarfs current engineering.

  39. Graham2,

    What is Ockham’s Razor and why do you think it’s relevant to the OP?

  40. WJM @38: If we could reliably quantify the difference, it would be such an achievement, it wouldnt be confined to the fringes (ID etc), ie: we would all know about it. Im not saying there isnt a quantifiable difference, just that we havent found it yet. Eg: can you quantify the difference between happiness and sadness ?

  41. 42

    Mung: on extrinsic vs intrinsic properties,

    Do we have to know what the purpose is for a 20 ft, perfectly rectangular plane of 1″ thick glass with uniform, beveled edges in order to discern that it is best explained by design? Must we know how it was made, or where it was found and in what environmental conditions?

    Or am I misunderstanding the application of the term “intrinsic” and “extrinsic”? Are those properties not intrinsic to the object itself? Not intrinsic to glass, but to the object in question?

  42. 43

    Graham2 @41 said:

    Im not saying there isnt a quantifiable difference, just that we havent found it yet. Eg: can you quantify the difference between happiness and sadness?

    In other words, you still haven’t answered my question posed at the end of #23. Will you try and answer that question?

  43. WJM: See #34.

  44. 45

    I think that arguments about biological ID involve mostly intractable ideological commitments on both sides and, as far as laymen are concerned, are largely indecipherable without extensive time and effort commitments.

    For that reason, I think it is illuminating to simply remove biology from the argument and see what an examination of the glaringly obvious might reveal. Any reasonable onlooker – even a layman – comprehends the obvious categorical difference between a battleship and any other known, inorganic, presumably natural phenomenon – even if they are comprised of the same basic materials.

    The question is if that categorical difference is in principle subject to quantification – the development of a methodology that can be used to make determinations of provisional “best explanation” at least in some non-obvious or contested cases of potential ID.

  45. WJM, Have you read Darwin’s Black Box?

  46. KN @ 18

    >As for living things, I’ll certainly grant that they are >terribly complex in all sorts of fascinating ways, but >they’re not complex in the way that artifacts are.

    translation, transcription, layers (and multiple kinds) of error correction to extraordinary levels of fidelity , massive parallelism, massive concurrent processing, code, “command and control” co-ordination,

    How do you define “in the way that artifacts are” so that these are not “the same”? Are they really not the same in any way?

  47. 48

    Graham,

    My question was:

    I think the real question is whether or not you agree in principle that there is a quantifiable difference between that which is easily recognizable as product of ID (battleship) and that which appears natural(rock/crystalline formation)?

    I mean, whether or not you agree that such a method of quantification has been found, and whether or not the various proposed methods have any merit, isn’t it obvious that there is indeed some kind of quantifiable difference between the two – rock/crystalline natural formation & a battleship?

    Please note how I couched my question with the disclaimer “whether or not you agree that such a method of quantification has been found, and whether or not the various proposed methods have any merit,”

    To which you answered @34:

    My answer was NO, there isnt a quantifiable difference.

    Therefore, in the context of my question and disclaimer contained therein, your answer means that whether or not such a method has been found, and whether or not any currently proposed methods have any merit, there is no quantifiable difference, even though the difference is obvious.

    Which is why I then asked you, @38:

    Can you tell me why you believe there is no quantifiable difference, even though you admit the difference is obvious?

    To which you responded @ 41, changing your answer to:

    Im not saying there isnt a quantifiable difference, just that we havent found it yet.

    But I had disclaimed this very thing in my original question. Whether or not we currently have such a method is irrelevant to the question of if the difference is in principle quantifiable. IOW, you changed your answer so that it was non-responsive to my original question.

    So, again, my question to you is (re-phrasing #23 for brevity): Whether or not we currently have such a method, can the admittedly obvious difference between known ID objects such as battleships and other known, inorganic, presumably natural phenomena in principle be quantified?

    I’m not asking you if such a method exist, only if one could in principle be developed.

  48. 49

    Mung: I honestly don’t remember if I have or not.

  49. KN @ 18

    > “in the way that artifacts are”

    genetic engineering actually goes in and
    modifies the current “technology” in
    these living things, such that they behave
    in new ways, exactly as intended/predicted
    by the engineers. how much more similar
    do the artifacts need to be, when they
    are modifiable by engineering, as
    engineers would modify man made artifacts?

  50. Mung: Have you read Darwin’s Black Box

    WJM: I honestly don’t remember if I have or not.

    hehe. ok.

    How about Signature in the Cell?

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0743290313

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0061472794

    DBB I thought was easily grasped by the layman.

    I think the point I’d like to make here is that if we [the design community] are going to abandon the biological case for design, as exemplified in DBB and SitC, we may as well return to the ways of Aquinas and the teleological argument from ends (The Fifth Way). Not necessarily a bad thing …

    But given the current rejection of teleology in science I think that’s a harder row to hoe (though no less important).

  51. If we were to look at the intrinsic properties of the materials in a battleship we’d wonder why it did not rapidly sink to the bottom of the ocean.

    As such, it would be the extrinsic properties which would lead us to think of design.

    How on earth can this thing float?

    What are these guns for?

  52. continuing the thoughts from #52:

    The guns of a battleship are not there “for the sake of” the battleship. Their purposes is not to help it survive.

    Their purpose is extrinsic, imposed from outside.

    So in what sense are the properties of a living organism extrinsic? So forget about living things.

    The claim appears to be that we can discern between intrinsic and extrinsic properties of an artifact.

    But to do so how do we identify that it is in fact an artifact?

  53. WJM: I honestly have no idea if its possible in principle.

  54. Graham2:

    You appeal to Ockham’s Razor.

    When confronted with your ignorance you decline to respond.

    What gives?

  55. Mung: Im not sure if my reference to the razor was entirely apposite, but in general Im appalled by the readiness of the ID crowd (and others) to blithely accept the supernatural. The idea of an intelligence just floating round in space does such violence to all that we have learnt from Science, that you would have to have some stupendously strong evidence to accept it. I concede that Evolution is asking a lot, but it pales into insignificance next to what you have to swallow to accept the supernatural.

  56. Graham2,

    The ‘ID crowd’ does not just blithely turn to the supernatural when seeking an explanation for observed phenomena. In fact, the whole point of the modern ID “movement” is to avoid such an unscientific turn.

    So not only do you not understand Ockham’s Razor, you also don’t understand ID.

    But setting aside for now the latter misunderstanding, are you prepared to address Ockham’s Razor?

    What do you think Ockham’s Razor says?

    Why do you think ID violates Ockham’s Razor?

    [I love how you capitalize science. Touching, really.]

  57. Mung: Im also touched by the way you trip around any mention of the supernatural. If you think ID is not a thinly veiled promotion of God, then you are welcome to your delusions. Eg: you might like to speak to Dembski who has made it clearer than I have. Yes, Ive read the promotional stuff: ID is a process of ‘detecting design’ etc etc, but in the end I think the wedge document got it right.

  58. Graham2,

    I’ll begin to take you seriously as an ID critic when you can support your baseless use of Ockham’s Razor. Why do you keep avoiding it?

  59. Mung: As I explained earlier, acceptance of the supernatural requires a rejection of more or less the totality of Science. This is not very parsimonious, in fact it is about un-parsimonious (spendthrift?) as you can get.

    (regarding capitalization, I rather like: Science/god. It looks better that way)

  60. WJM,

    Pardon.

    While I understand your basic point, it seems there is a lot of selectively hyperskeptical, dismissive (and, frankly, perhaps willfully obtuse) sniping at the concept and quantification, functionally specific, complex information and associated organisation.

    Way back, in 1979, the concept was simply put by Wicken (with Orgel as a prior root of the term specified complexity), and as CSI (which in biology is cashed out as function) was brought to quantitative status by Dembski. A lot of sniping and objections that would not have been made if an ideological a priori were not at stake.

    So, things began to appear far more complex than they really were.

    Some time ago, in response to the objections being raised by a sock puppet, Torley, Giem and I simplified the Dembski 2005 metric, in the end using a log reduction that showed that what is going on at root is the measure of functionally specific info, beyond a threshold of complexity measured in bits, that makes the blind, unintelligent sampling of the space of possibilities by the available atomic and temporal resources maximally unlikely to hit on clusters of functional configs.

    (For the 10^57 atoms of our solar system and a typical lifespan estimate, 500 bits is such that the blind sampling is comparable to blindly picking a one-straw sample from a cubical haystack 1,000 light years om the side, as thick as our galaxy. If superposed on our vicinity, it would be obvious that such would reliably yield a strew and that with near certainty. A cosmos scope threshold for 10^80 atoms would be 1,000 bits.)

    In an expression:

    Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold, where S is a dummy variable that defaults 0 and goes to 1 if there is a positive, objective reason to infer functional specificity, on a case by case basis. That is, it invites investigation to ascertain that.)

    All sorts of hyperskeptical objections and dismissals have again been made, and what we see above is clearly the Cartesian hyperskeptical error, if I can object I may freely dismiss.

    Sorry, we are dealing with objective, observable matters and it is patent that with billions of cases in point, the criterion reliably distinguishes separately known design cases from known not-design cases. And attempted counter examples, for years, reliably reduce to design. Reduce, in ways that show that what is at work is determination to rhetorically object and dismiss, not to find out if something works as advertised.

    For example, the sketches of perceived canals on Mars were plainly designed. Similarly, the suggested 2-d world that spontaneously — you can’t make this up — makes rods and gears into time telling watches is a designed simulation and neglects what is required to for instance make and mount a functional, meshing set of gears etc on a plate. Likewise the very existence of a more or less well behaved uphill pointing fitness function highlights that most of the space of configs has already been intelligently selected out. And the like.

    I therefore have come to the conclusion that to the determined objector, the real point is that there is an a priori commitment to not allowing design to be a possibility where it is inconvenient for evolutionary materialism, going so far as to try to redefine science in the teeth of relevant history, phil and the obvious value that science ought to seek the empirical evidence-led truth about our world.

    That is exactly what I have found in — cf. here on — Lewontin, Coyne, the US NAS and NSTA and more.

    Taking up your avalanche example, way back [maybe seven years back and elsewhere than at UD, cf. the always linked note], the similar case was, such a rock fall spelling out the words, Welcome to Wales. That in turn came from elsewhere, decades ago.

    Believe it or not, this was dismissed in the very same way.

    The same obtained for an analysis of assembling a micro-jet out of components in a vat of fluid.

    The battleship of course is a case of massively complex, functionally specific object, where as I have laid out the specification can be reduced to an equivalent SET OF STRINGS, AS ENGINEERING DRAWINGS ARE STORED IN MEMORY OF A COMPUTER, e.g, for AutoCAD etc. (That, too was objected to and derided!)

    Just the fire direction control instrumentation would vastly exceed the Chi_500 limit.

    As for the pile of rocks, complex for sure, but not specific, functioning as a pile of rocks is not exactly a very demanding thing on specificity of configs. And, function depending on close interaction of many parts in proper alignment with the right interfaces is going to put you on the often derided islands of function. A pile of parts does not a functioning car engine make, for example.

    But that does not prevent any number of dismissive objections to what is both obvious and patently correct.

    None so blind as one who refuses to see.

    As for the latest attempt to abuse Occam, let’s just say that his point was that hypotheses were not to be multiplied WITHOUT NECESSITY.

    With all due respect, it seems to me that design is a directly observed phenomenon in the world and any number of things are not reasonable explicable without it.

    Just so, the real issue is inference on empirically tested, reliable sign.

    We observe certain phenomena and describe such. We find that here are certain features –FSCO/I — that strike us and on testing we find that the causally adequate, reliable, observed explanation is design. So, FSCO/I on investigation, is a reliable sign of design and we are entitled epistemologically to confidently trust it, pending the same sort of counter example that would overthrow the laws of thermodynamics. And BTW, this is the same pattern of reasoning that — with much weaker evidence — was held to establish much of the conventionally taught reconstruction of the remote past of origins.

    None such are forthcoming, or else they would have been trumpeted to the highest heavens with great fanfare as the victory of evolutionary materialism.

    The sort of stunts, antics and outright rudeness, hostility and attacks tot he man we routinely see instead are in turn signs. First, that he above is accurate, we do have signs that we should confidently trust. And, second, there are determined objectors willing to resort to all sorts of means fair or foul to object and to distract or dismiss.

    The recent series of comments I had to make on what Wikipedia is doing, is a clear case in point, and the sort of sick antics going on at various hate sites that are backed up by enabling behaviour of too many of those who would not themselves stoop to such tactics, tells us just what is going on: ideology, not science.

    But if it is left to rule by default, dirty game tactics can persuade many.

    That is why it is indeed important to flag the fallacies, willfully hyperskeptical objections and personal attacks as what hey are. Signs of ideological desperation.

    KF

  61. F/N: G2 should try to explain to Newton, Boyle, Kepler, Kelvin, Maxwell, Pasteur, Planck and co up to a Townsend, a Sanford, a Carson, a Collins or a Hoyle, that acceptance of the supernatural equals rejection of science. Instead, he is exposing for all to see his ideological materialist a priorism and scientism. KF

  62. F/N: The empirically grounded, observationally based warrant for the proposition that chance variation and differential reproductive success account for origin of body plans is ______________. The empirical warrant for concluding that chemicals in a pond, comet or moon of Jupiter etc spontaneously formed a metabolic automaton with embedded, code based self replication facility is ______________ . Absent solid grounds for this, and given the solid grounds for seeing FSCO/I as a reliable sign of design, it is empirically warranted and quite scientific to infer that life forms and original cell based life were designed. This is not equivalent to inference that said designer was supernatural. However, the further observation that the physics and parameters of the observed cosmos reflect a pattern closely set up that fosters such life points to a cosmos-building designer intent on life in the cosmos, per Fred Hoyle (a lifelong agnostic) and others. KF

  63. William J Murray posted this:

    The idea that there is no discernible or quantifiable difference between some products of ID and what nature produces without it, or that such a determination is irrelevant, is absurd.

    Without a clear explanation of what you mean by “some products of ID” and “what nature produces without it” (or more importantly how you think “nature” does, doesn’t or can’t produce), your application of adjectives like “irrelevent” and “absurd” is, well, irrelevant.

  64. It is impossible to practice science presupposing ‘random’ naturalistic causes for everything.,,,

    The Great Debate: Does God Exist? – Justin Holcomb – audio of the 1985 debate available on the site
    Excerpt: The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight.,,,
    http://theresurgence.com/2012/.....-god-exist

    Philosopher Sticks Up for God
    Excerpt: Theism, with its vision of an orderly universe superintended by a God who created rational-minded creatures in his own image, “is vastly more hospitable to science than naturalism,” with its random process of natural selection, he (Plantinga) writes. “Indeed, it is theism, not naturalism, that deserves to be called ‘the scientific worldview.’”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12.....wanted=all

    The Historical Alliance of Christianity and Science – Kenneth Richard Samples
    Excerpted quote: “Modern science was conceived, and born, and flourished in the matrix of Christian theism. Only liberal doses of self-deception and double-think, I believe, will permit it to flourish in the context of Darwinian naturalism.”
    ~ Alvin Plantinga
    http://www.apu.edu/cris/pdfs/h.....liance.pdf

    Alvin Plantinga – Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r34AIo-xBh8

    The Absurdity of Inflation, String Theory and The Multiverse – Dr. Bruce Gordon – video
    http://vimeo.com/34468027

    And Dr. Gordon’s astute observation in his last powerpoint is here:

    The End Of Materialism?
    * In the multiverse, anything can happen for no reason at all.
    * In other words, the materialist is forced to believe in random miracles as a explanatory principle.
    * In a Theistic universe, nothing happens without a reason. Miracles are therefore intelligently directed deviations from divinely maintained regularities, and are thus expressions of rational purpose.
    * Scientific materialism is (therefore) epistemically self defeating: it makes scientific rationality impossible.

    Jake: Math prodigy proud of his autism – 60 Minutes – CBS News – video
    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/w.....e1.channel

    Quote of note at the 12:00 minute mark of the preceding video;
    ‘The whole randomness thing, that’s like completely against all of physics’
    Jake Barnett – Math Prodigy

    Indeed, it is impossible to remove ‘mind and free will’ as starting assumptions from our best description of reality; i.e. quantum mechanics.

    The ‘Spirituality’ of Mathematics
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/13VBciybSK3D7uJoz6ltldPPSvhL4HJaJAmCmOMkmQxg/edit

  65. 66

    Mung @ 51&52:

    Yes, I’ve read signature in the cell – I still have it in my bookcase.

    A single thread that leaves out the biological aspect doesn’t represent an abandonment of the biological argument. I’m not saying I don’t follow the biological argument; my point is that for many that argument is impenetrable and really just boils down to which side one allies themselves with. So, in this thread, I take the argument back a step to the most obvious and trivial aspect of the ID position and invite intellectually honest challengers debate and, if willing, follow the logic available from what is obvious.

    If you cannot get a person to commit to the obvious example from which the biological argument is derived – that a battleship is a factual case of ID; that it is both obviously designed and that the obviousness of that categorical distinction (whether it floats or not, and whether we know what it is for or not, and whether or not we even know those things are guns) lends itself to the reasonable expectation that this categorical difference can be meaningfully (if not absolutely) quantified, then there is no reason to bring the the argument to any phenomenon under dispute.

  66. WJM: In this era of polarisation, there will not even be willingness to concede that much, some handy distraction or distortion will be used. But, we can show to onlookers, that something is very wrong, and for that the key issue is the materialist a priori, now being confused with science and reason itself. KF

  67. 68

    Graham @ 54 said:

    WJM: I honestly have no idea if its possible in principle.

    This is an interesting statement. Let’s explore this a bit.

    Earlier you asked if I could quantify the difference between happiness and sadness, but that question belies the actual point I was making in asking my question, which it seems I’ve clarified.

    The appropriate question would be if I believed that, in principle, happiness could be meaningfully quantified from sadness, whether or not such a quantification could be used in the future to make a significant determination if someone is sad or happy. Not an absolute determination, but one of “best explanation”.

    IOW, do I think in principle that we would be able to map the quantifiable differences between “happiness” and “sadness” in order to offer a “best explanation” of certain behavioral phenomena as being the result of “happiness” or “sadness”? I don’t think that would really be all that hard. We all do it as laymen every day. We observe the telltale signs of sadness or happiness, and in many cases employ strategies to move someone from sadness to happiness.

    So the answer is that yes, I would expect that, at least in principle, the difference between happiness and sadness could be quantified, both physically (perhaps by brain mapping and various biochemical signatures) and psychologically (by examining behavior that corresponds to happiness and sadness). There may be many ways to quantify the difference in several different areas of research, but I see no reason why such a difference couldn’t be scientifically quantified.

    So my question to you is: why wouldn’t you expect that such a “bleeding”obvious difference be, in some way, quantifiable? What would be the basis for assuming that an obvious difference would not be available for quantification, when as a matter of course we expect that all obvious differences we encounter be – in some way – quantifiable, even including different psychological states, emotions, and beliefs?

    Why would you think that any difference is not quantifiable in some way, much less a “bleeding” obvious difference?

  68. 69

    KF @ 66:

    I’m content in this thread to put on display the full glory of that “unwillingness to concede” even the most obvious and trivial points, and the ramifications thereof. As the title says, it’s a simple argument; easy to follow, easy to see what’s going on, easy to parse and judge, even for a layman.

    In no way should this be construed as a knock on, or a disapproval of more involved arguments and explanations; but others here do that far better than I ever could.

  69. 70

    To clarify #65:

    “If you cannot get a person to commit to the obvious example …. then there is no reason to bring the the argument to any phenomenon under dispute with that person.

    There is reason, of course, to debate many people concerning the more involved arguments, and there is reason to debate contested phenomena, but there is no reason to bring any of that into a debate with a person unwilling to concede even the obvious.

    One cannot successfully argue with those unwilling to concede the obvious; in a sense, this thread is “outing” those individuals who refuse to concede the obvious, and who refuse to examine and accept the obvious ramifications thereof, while offering a chance to have an honest debate (with those who are willing) about the simple, fundamental principle of ID detection.

  70. Graham2 (56): Im appalled by the readiness of the ID crowd (and others) to blithely accept the supernatural. The idea of an intelligence just floating round in space does such violence to all that we have learnt from Science, that you would have to have some stupendously strong evidence to accept it. I concede that Evolution is asking a lot, but it pales into insignificance next to what you have to swallow to accept the supernatural.

    Maybe your world view springs from a misplaced down-to-earth-attitude. The idea that the existence of God would add a strange twist to an otherwise ‘normal’ universe. This is a false attitude. What’s lacking is appropriate wonder. We are here in a universe that we cannot explain. Everything we read about biology shows us madding complexity. Nothing is normal. Why would the existence of God make matters weird? Our life is a bizarre enterprise anyway. We exist … so anything is possible.
    Allow me to quote R.G. Ingersoll:

    “My opinion of immortality is this: First. I live, and that of itself is infinitely wonderful. Second. There was a time when I was not, and after I was not, I was. Third. Now that I am, I may be again; and it is no more wonderful that I may be again, if I have been, than that I am, having once been nothing.”

    WJM: Very clear argument!

  71. as to:

    Graham2 (56): Im appalled by the readiness of the ID crowd (and others) to blithely accept the supernatural. The idea of an intelligence just floating round in space does such violence to all that we have learnt from Science, that you would have to have some stupendously strong evidence to accept it.

    Would that ‘stupendously strong evidence ‘include the success of the entire scientific enterprise itself? (Please see post #64 as well as Stanley Jaki – The Origin Of Science):

    If you disagree that the success of modern science itself argues very forcefully for the truthfulness of the Christian Theistic presuppositions that birthed modern science, then please provide your empirical evidence, from quantum mechanics (out best ‘scientific’ description of reality), that naturalism is true and to thus ‘scientifically’ overturn what is readily apparent to us ID proponenets.,,, The trouble for you in all this would be that quantum mechanics reveals a basis for reality that blatantly defies our concepts of time and space, a blatant defiance which is certainly amicable to believing this universe is dependent on a Being who is not limited by time and space in the first place.,,,

    No Elvis, considering that ‘naturalism’, as has been traditional defined, is shown to be false by quantum mechanics, it is you that must come up with ‘stupendously strong evidence’ to tell us why we should not presuppose design.

    Moreover, contrary to your belief that belief in Design is irrational, the fact is that Design thinking ‘hardwired’ into us:

    Design Thinking Is Hardwired in the Human Brain. How Come? – October 17, 2012
    Excerpt: “Even Professional Scientists Are Compelled to See Purpose in Nature, Psychologists Find.” The article describes a test by Boston University’s psychology department, in which researchers found that “despite years of scientific training, even professional chemists, geologists, and physicists from major universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Yale cannot escape a deep-seated belief that natural phenomena exist for a purpose” ,,,
    Most interesting, though, are the questions begged by this research. One is whether it is even possible to purge teleology from explanation.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65381.html

    Out of the mouths of babes – Do children believe (in God) because they’re told to by adults? The evidence suggests otherwise – Justin Barrett – 2008
    Excerpt: • Children tend to see natural objects as designed or purposeful in ways that go beyond what their parents teach, as Deborah Kelemen has demonstrated. Rivers exist so that we can go fishing on them, and birds are here to look pretty.
    • Children doubt that impersonal processes can create order or purpose. Studies with children show that they expect that someone not something is behind natural order. No wonder that Margaret Evans found that children younger than 10 favoured creationist accounts of the origins of animals over evolutionary accounts even when their parents and teachers endorsed evolution. Authorities’ testimony didn’t carry enough weight to over-ride a natural tendency.
    • Children know humans are not behind the order so the idea of a creating god (or gods) makes sense to them. Children just need adults to specify which one.
    • Experimental evidence, including cross-cultural studies, suggests that three-year-olds attribute super, god-like qualities to lots of different beings. Super-power, super-knowledge and super-perception seem to be default assumptions. Children then have to learn that mother is fallible, and dad is not all powerful, and that people will die. So children may be particularly receptive to the idea of a super creator-god. It fits their predilections.
    • Recent research by Paul Bloom, Jesse Bering, and Emma Cohen suggests that children may also be predisposed to believe in a soul that persists beyond death.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comm.....god-belief

    An atheist said the following in response to Dr. Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism:

    ‘Creatures inveterately wrong in their inductions have a pathetic but praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind.’

    Yet, as noted previously, we find,,,

    Children are born believers in God, academic claims – Telegraph – November 2008
    Excerpt: “The preponderance of scientific evidence for the past 10 years or so has shown that a lot more seems to be built into the natural development of children’s minds than we once thought, including a predisposition to see the natural world as designed and purposeful and that some kind of intelligent being is behind that purpose,”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....laims.html

    ‘Believers’ gene’ will spread religion , says academic – January 2011
    Excerpt: The World Values Survey, which covered 82 nations from 1981 to 2004, found that adults who attended religious services more than once a week had 2.5 children on average; while those who went once a month had two; and those who never attended had 1.67.
    Prof Rowthorn wrote: “The more devout people are, the more children they are likely to have.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sci.....demic.html

    Why do atheists have such a low retention rate? – July 2012
    Excerpt: Only about 30 percent of those who grow up in an atheist household remain atheists as adults. This “retention rate” was the lowest among the 20 separate categories in the study.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....tion-rate/

    Thus either the atheist is right and ‘naturalism’ (at least a ‘naturalism that includes God) is producing a true belief, and that true belief is Theism, since atheists have a ‘praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind’, or Dr. Plantinga is right and there is no guarantee that the results of ‘naturalistic’ Darwinian evolution (a naturalism that excludes God) will produce true beliefs about the nature of reality! Which is it? Either answer is a self defeater for atheistic evolutionary naturalism!

  72. Kantian Naturalist:

    Re your reply in #4, I agree that “we can infer that this *artifact* is designed” is circular. The proper formulation would have to be: “We can infer that this *object* is an artifact rather than the result of blind natural processes.”

    Many of your other remarks in in #4, and later, are pertinent as well. But I’d like to make a more general statement about the context of this argument, a context you may or may not be aware of, depending on how much ID-TE and ID-atheist bickering you have monitored.

    Atheists, and even more often, TEs, have responded to design arguments with a general statement, which they appear to regard as a universal rule: “Inferring design is fine when you know that a designer of a particular kind exists (e.g., you can infer that a chipped rock is an arrowhead because you know that arrow-making cultures exist), but it is not permissible when you don’t know anything about the putative designer — his nature, his motives, or even that he exists.”

    Now, this rule strikes me as invalid, because I can easily think of cases where it fails.

    Many times ID folks have asked TEs: “Well, if we found an object very much like Mt. Rushmore or Stonehenge or the Pyramids on Mars, wouldn’t we be able to infer that the object was the product of design rather than of blind natural laws and chance, even though we knew nothing (as yet) about the designer, or even whether designers other than human beings existed in the universe?” And the TEs always do everything in their power to avoid directly answering that question. They will yap about the design resembling human designs — but that doesn’t get around the general principle that they have enunciated, since we don’t have any prior knowledge that the *designers* resemble human beings, and their rule requires prior acquaintance with *designers*, not with similar *designs*. Or they will yap about how, given the number of planets in the universe, there are bound to be intelligent beings somewhere who could have designed such structures. But again, if we don’t *know* that such intelligent beings exist (and we don’t), then by the TE rule we can’t make such arguments. Their very strict rule makes out that we have to be *sure* that other designers exist and that we know something about *the character or motives* of such designers.

    So they have no “out.” They have only two options, given the “Rushmore on Mars” scenario. They must say either:

    1. You are right; we could infer design in such a case; our *general rule* is therefore invalid. (But we still think it would apply in the case of organic beings …)

    2. We cannot infer design in such a case. We cannot rule out the possibility that the images of Jefferson, Washington, etc. were carved in the face of a Martian mountain by erosion, earthquakes, cosmic rays, etc.

    So the TEs are in the unenviable position of either (1) abandoning their arbitrary rule (which they erected to keep design inferences out) or (2) of saying something absolutely stupid.

    It seems to me that if the TEs would stop focusing on trying to *win the argument* against IDers, and start focusing on trying to address the issues, they would stop advancing silly general rules of reasoning — which they aren’t equipped to offer anyway, being bench scientists with an embarrassingly poor understanding of philosophy, including philosophy of science — and focus on the concrete. They could stress, for example, the difference between organic systems and sculptures, machines, etc. That line of argument would be much more productive for them. And it’s really where they want to head anyway — to argue that systems that reproduce with mutations and therefore vary by generation are different from things constructed according to a plan. But their silly view that they can cut off the argument with a general rule about design inferences that they haven’t properly thought out — that just wastes everyone’s time.

    I mention this so that you see that some of your remarks here might well conjure up years of frustration in arguments with philosophically dense TEs.

    That said, I would respond to a couple of your answers from various replies.

    In 18 you wrote:

    “I think that if one were to leave a pile of cotton on a seemingly lifeless and barren moon or planet, and then returned later to find that it had been turned into cloth, anyone would just see it as having been purposefully transformed by some intelligent beings.”

    Right! You would; I would; and so would any TE, if the TE was being honest, and not trying to score points in a debate with ID people. But what would be your *justification* for your conclusion? It would surely be “Piles of cotton don’t turn themselves into woven cloth by chance plus natural laws; intelligence is needed.” You would therefore infer that an intelligent agent had been at work. If you thought that cotton could turn itself into woven cloth without an intelligent agent, you would be forced to give, not an inference, but a probability estimate, e.g., “There is a .0005 probability that this occurred due to blind natural causes, and a .9995 probability that this was due to an intelligent agent.” But you haven’t done that. You’ve acted as if we can just *know*, without canvassing all the improbable just-so stories about how cotton *might* have turned into woven cloth, that an intelligent agent was responsible for the product. And you’ve concluded that, even though, to the best of your knowledge, the intelligent agent cannot have come from earth and you have no prior evidence of other intelligent agents in the universe. So you’ve inferred design without any prior knowledge of the existence of, or characteristics of, the designer.

    Nothing you have added changes the epistemological situation. You say we would go out and look for evidence of an alien race who might have made the woven cloth. But suppose you don’t find any such evidence? Put another way, suppose you find a television set on Pluto, and not the slightest remnant of any civilization on Pluto — no ruined dwellings, and not even a rusty old wrench. Nothing. Nada. Zip. So what is the inference? That the television set was made by a series of geological processes, that accidentally smelted, shaped, welded, fastened, arranged, etc. the parts into a television? No, the inference is that an intelligent agent produced the set — an intelligent agent whose existence we have no knowledge of *other than through the existence of the set itself*. And that’s precisely the point of the design inference — that we can move from object to a designer of the object.

    You also wrote, in 16:

    “In short, I don’t see how we could so much as detect, let alone avoid, either false positives or false negatives when it comes to objects found on alien worlds.”

    The fact that we will *sometimes* get false negatives and false positives, depending on the individual case, doesn’t mean that there are *no* circumstances in which the inference will be reliable. For example, if I come to my computer to type this reply to you, and when I boot up, instead of my normal desktop, I get a screen saying: “You’re shafted, buddy! I deleted all your programs, and all your data, and you can’t get on the internet, and further, here are some pictures I took of you in indecorous positions, which I intend to put up on YouTube later today,” I can be sure — surer than any jury is when it sends a man to his death — that the alterations in my computer weren’t caused by random fluctuations at the power plant which imprinted new programming on my computer. I don’t have to worry about “false negatives” or “false positives” when I make such a design inference. Nor would I have to worry about “false negatives” or “false positives” if I found, say, a multi-panel pictorial narrative carved into the mountains of Mars. I could be sure that it wasn’t weather or volcanoes that produced it. The design inference would be valid. And I wouldn’t have to have any prior knowledge of the nature or even of the existence of the carvers. In fact, my only knowledge that the carvers existed would come *from* the carving.

    Now of course, whether all of this justifies design inferences when we start talking about organic beings is another matter. But I think I’ve established that the general rule of the TEs — that we can *never* infer the existence of a designer under *any* circumstance unless we have sure knowledge of the existence of that designer and of some of his characteristics prior to stumbling on the object in question — is simply a wrong rule. Sometimes we can, in complete ignorance of the existence of the designer or of his characteristics, infer that something is designed, and did not arise through chance and blind natural laws.

    If you could concede that much, then I could breathe a sigh of relief that you have not sunk from your usual philosophical acuteness down to the level of philosophically philistine TEs.

  73. WJM@37-

    ID is supposed to be the best explanation for the existence of a battleship. Do you dispute that?

    What a strange thing to say! I did not know ID was supposed as the best explanation for either a single battleship or for battleships generally.

    If someone were to ask me to explain the existence of battleships, I might suggest they explore the history of naval warfare. Battleships are systems of technologies. They are by-products of political and economic forces. The ultimate explanation, I think, must be one of many agents throughout design, development, production, and implementation processes; and one that also includes larger historical forces surrounding all these agents.

    So, is ID an explanation of a battleship? Yes, no dispute there. Is ID the best explanation of a battleship? No, it’s too reductionist: there are several intelligent forces at play along with unintelligent temporal and social forces.

    But I still think “battleship” is to vague to be really useful in showing the power of ID. What I would like to know, and I imagine many onlookers would too, is what specifically in the battleship or about the battleship has been defined in the ID sense.

    I ask because on the biological side it has never been clear to me what it means to say that biological information is one thing that that was intelligently designed. What feature specifically shows “design” and, by so showing, what does that tell us about how it may have been designed?

  74. T: The truth is, a 500 bit threshold for inferring design on FSCO/I is extremely conservative. So much so in fact that there are no good counter-instances. All this stuff about false positives is in the teeth of that inconvenient little fact, given also that our solar system’s resources could sample about one straw’s bulk to a haystack 1,000 LY on the side, to the set of possibilities. If you drew straws from such a set and came up short, I am prepared to bet you would say that the outcome was rigged. And, indeed even in cases where false positives do happen, we use the rule of thumb that multiple tests make the test far more powerful. In this case, that is very possible, all over the living cell. Moreover, some of the entities in the cell do classify as machines, nanotech machines using molecular technology, but digital data storage for one key instance, is digital data storage. (And prongs in a Yale type lock are storing data in a very comparable way to the bases in a DNA chain!) KF

  75. LT: As predicted (notice, WJM . . . ). Let us change the imagery slightly, just to make sure the point is patently clear: it is 2060 AD, and the first joint EU-China-Japan-India expedition to Mars is searching nooks and crannies of the Red planet. They come across a rock-slide and at the foot of it, partly buried, is an evident space vessel; with what seem to be heavy armour plating, weapon turrets and ports etc. Would they infer that the item is a natural artifact, or a designed one, and why? What’s the difference between the rock slide and the apparent space craft, and can this be reduced to a quantitative metric? Why or why not? KF

  76. PS: And just to make the matter even clearer, let us suppose there is a similar expedition on the Moon, and in a similar rock-slide they find, not an apparent vessel, but what looks like an indicating instrument [of moving coil type], one that is definitely not of Terran manufacture. What should they conclude, why, and can the way they are thinking be reduced to the sort of quantitative metric that has been raised? Why or why not? Would their conclusion be for practical purposes of any less certainty than that of their comrades on Mars? What would the Drudge Report headlines for that week say about all this?

  77. KF,

    Would they infer that the item is a natural artifact, or a designed one, and why? What’s the difference between the rock slide and the apparent space craft, and can this be reduced to a quantitative metric? Why or why not?

    This is exactly the question I am asking you to answer!

  78. And the additional part of the question is how to infer design in organisms.

    That’s why I asked above (#29) for example of human beings intelligently designing organic beings. While it’s true that we see ID all around us, I am not so certain that we see around us the ID that really matters: ID of living things.

    I could be made more certain with examples of this second kind of ID, unless the argument is that the second kind of ID is irrelevant for hypothesizing general ID of biological information. If so, I’d like to know why it’s irrelevant.

  79. 80

    LT said @73:

    So, is ID an explanation of a battleship? Yes, no dispute there. Is ID the best explanation of a battleship?

    The argument is about the general categories of “ID” vs “natural” explanations. I didn’t say that “ID” was a complete explanation of the battleship, only that between the two categories of explanation in question, ID is the best explanation of how it came to be. IOW, is the existence of the battleship better explained through unintelligent, natural processes, or through intelligent, purposeful design and manufacturing?

    LT said:

    But I still think “battleship” is to vague to be really useful in showing the power of ID. What I would like to know, and I imagine many onlookers would too, is what specifically in the battleship or about the battleship has been defined in the ID sense.

    The argument isn’t about any specific means of evaluating particular objects or phenomena according to any proposed method of evaluation, but only whether or not (1)you are willing to agree that the process of generating the battleship requires the existence and use of the commodity we call intelligent design, and if (2)you agree that such a commodity can be – in principle – quantified.

    So, in other words:

    First, do you agree in principle that a battleship cannot reasonably be expected to exist without the direction of intelligent design?

    Second, do you agree in principle that the difference between a battleship and any other known, inorganic, naturally-occurring objects or phenomena is obvious?

    Third, if you agree to (1) and (2), and excluding biological examples, do you agree that it is reasonable to expect that the commodity necessary to generate the battleship (and other such phenomena), but is not necessary to generate naturally-occurring formations, is a quantifiable commodity?

  80. 81

    Edit for clarity:

    Third, if you agree to (1) and (2), and excluding biological examples, do you agree that it is reasonable to expect that the commodity necessary to generate the battleship (and other such phenomena), but is not necessary to generate naturally-occurring formations, is in principle a quantifiable commodity?

  81. WJM, 80 and 81: I understand you’ll say I’m avoiding the questions. I am. And I am because these questions are best answered by an ID theorist, which I am not.

    It doesn’t matter what I agree to, either in principle or otherwise. It only matters what can be demonstrated.

    So, while I’m avoiding your questions, I think you are avoiding the prior and more significant questions. Can you demonstrate 1? Can you demonstrate 2? Can you demonstrate 3?

    This is the job of ID theory, and what’s more, surely it is one of the great lessons of both philosophy and science that very little in this world is “obvious.”

  82. 83

    LT: I appreciate your candor, but I’m not interested in demonstrating the obvious. If we cannot agree that a battleship obviously requires ID in its explanation, we have no common grounds upon which to build a meaningful dialogue, much less debate, about ID.

  83. There’s something very comical about what you have just written, William. I mean it’s not really funny at all. It’s a valiant effort to explain the limits of your patience and the reason for imposing them, in the face of the absolutely surreal. Despite your patience, it cannot but read a little peremptorily. Do you get my drift. How does one explain the obvious reason for not explaining the obvious, without seeming just a little bit terse!!!!

  84. Timeaus @ 73
    > Right! You would; I would; and so would any TE, if the TE >was being honest, and not trying to score points in a >debate with ID people

    Thank you! Totally missed that concession.

    A similar idea is, that audiences all over the world watched the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey (there’s a website about this – I saw the authors present this in 1980) and, when they found the black box on the moon, they called earth and said this is the first evidence for extraterestrial life;

    Do you think anyone in the theatre stood up and said:
    Wait! No. We need to analyze to probabilities! ?

    Not when there was no debate/challenge in the way. It was natural. Even these [incredibly] simple things{the whole point of this thread}] don’t occur without intent.
    How much more so a living thing?

  85. 86
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: Timaeus @ 73:

    I like your point about the serious difficulties of appealing to any sort of general rule! In particular, I deeply appreciate this way of putting things:

    They [theistic evolutionists] could stress, for example, the difference between organic systems and sculptures, machines, etc. That line of argument would be much more productive for them. And it’s really where they want to head anyway — to argue that systems that reproduce with mutations and therefore vary by generation are different from things constructed according to a plan.

    That’s where I also want to hang my hat, though I’m not a theistic evolutionist.

    Among the usual theistic evolutionists, the only book I’ve read is Miller’s Finding Darwin’s God, which I enjoyed but I thought the appeal to quantum mechanics was where it jumped the shark. I thought Plantinga’s critique of atheistic evolutionists in Where the Conflict Really Lies was exactly right, though I have reasons of my own for not being persuaded by the EAAN. Hans Jonas, in both The Phenomenon of Life and Mortality and Morality, has made a deep and permanent impact on my thinking about these issues, especially his distinction between “the need of reason” (grounding ethics in the ontology of life) and “the luxury of reason” (cosmogonic speculation).

  86. KN @ 86:

    >to argue that systems that reproduce with mutations and >therefore vary by generation are different from things >constructed according to a plan.

    So, if the scientists who claim they are creating their own versions of life (self replication, mutation) ever succeed, then you’d change your position?

  87. 88
    Kantian Naturalist

    Artificial or synthetic life would show that these categories aren’t fixed-for-all-time but can be revised as science and technology progress. I suppose that from an ID perspective, all biology is technology already. So whereas I’d draw the distinction between natural life and synthetic life, a design theorist might draw the distinction between non-anthrogenic biotechnology and anthropogenic biotechnology (?).

  88. F/N: We should all be aware that first, in Ch 2 of his book, Paley highlighted a self replicating watch as a thought exercise, and pointed out that the additional functionality gives a FURTHER reason to confidently infer design. When we look at the self replicating technology in the cell and its use of codes, algorithms, and complex, functionally specific executing machinery, that is underscored. The first problem then is to explain OOL on observed chance and necessity processes capable of getting the result in some warm little pond, and onward of explaining the origin of major body plans, where the info gaps in question for the genome run like 100 k – 1 M bits, and up to 10 – 100 M bits for the two cases. Changing a few bits at a time within an existing functional body plan is one thing, extrapolating to try to suggest that his accounts for the origin of the complex systems for OOL and onward OO novel body plans is entirely another. There has been enough getting away with that sort of extrapolation without adequate empirical warrant. Hence, of course the now all but four month old unanswered challenge of Sept 23. KF

  89. LT, the issue is, whether you are at all willing to entertain the possibility that on the quite evident signs in such a ship or instrument, we may infer to design. So far, you seem to be trying hard to duck what would be obvious. So, so far I have little confidence that any quantification of the obvious difference will ever satisfy you, which in turn points to an ideological a priori at work. For, I am highly confident that if a ship were found like that, it would become major news. KF

  90. someone please give me the definitions of:
    TE = ?

    FSCO/I Functionally Specified Complex – O =? and I =?

    not in the Glossary here.
    thans

  91. KN @ 88

    so, if anywhere, in all that living complexity, there was just one piece of finely woven, (non-self replicating) cloth, you’d be sold, but in its absence, no dice?

    fascinating

  92. 93

    I ask because on the biological side it has never been clear to me what it means to say that biological information is one thing that that was intelligently designed.

    Larry I provided you an unambiguous material marker of agency involvement in biological information, that is, the presence of physicochemically-arbitrary relationships instantiated in the genetic translation system. It is unambiguous in regards to the presence of its arbitrary component; it is unambiguous in regards to the system’s causal structures being independent of their lowest potential energy states; and it is unambiguous in regards to the availability of any naturally-occurring counter examples.

    One can, of course, choose to ignore that such relationships are the antithesis of that which results from a purely material process, and likewise, one can ignore that the observed arbitrariness is also a logical necessity to the proper function of the system.

    And finally, one can ignore that not only are there no naturally-occurring counter examples to be found, but given the logical necessities of the system (viewed even from the standpoint of pure material reductionism), none should be found.

    One can choose to ignore these things, but none are altered by that choice.

  93. @Alan (91)

    TE = theistic evolutionists
    FSCO/I = functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information, more here

  94. @Alan (91)

    TE = theistic evolutionists
    FSCO/I = functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information, more here! <– repaired link

  95. It’s pretty amazing that Richard Dawkins and other scientists can admit to the blatant “appearance of design” in nature, in fact, that an entire theory could be constructed to explain how that appearance of design could arise naturally, and people here can’t even admit a battleship appears to be designed.

    lol.

  96. Another weird thing, Mung, is that science, empiricism, is all about appearance; indeed, measurable appearance. So, Dawkins is really into mystagogy in a big way.

    What other way is there to know via the analytical intelligence than by appearance? You can’t measure something, even at the subatomic level, that does not manifest at least some of its physical properties.

    Mind you, they’ve somehow managed to take the ‘intuition’ they’ve read that Einstein prized so highly on board the materialist express, just as they’ve concluded that mind must be an emanation of matter. But, inevitably, when they use the term, ‘counter-intuitive’ to describe some paradox, they cast themselves as incorrigible idiots.

  97. Kantian:

    I agree with you about Miller’s book – entertaining, and well-written, but his various remarks about quantum indeterminacy were, I thought, internally incoherent. And of course I don’t agree with his overall characterization of ID, or with many of this theological remarks (a number of which, despite his personal Catholicism, don’t reflect the Catholic intellectual tradition).

    Hans Jonas’s book, *The Phenomenon of Life*, is indeed a rich and interesting work. Unfortunately few evolutionary biologists, or even biologists generally, seem interested in a philosophical understanding of their subject-matter. Jonas has also written a number of other good things pertaining not just to biology but to the history and philosophy of science more broadly; many of his essays are collected, sometimes in revised form, in his various books.

    I think you didn’t really respond to my comment about the cotton and the woven cloth. It seems to me that you said we could simply “classify” the woven cloth as an artifact, whereas I think you were implicitly making a design inference. Yes, you can “recognize” woven cloth when you see it, but if the question is “where did this arrangement of fibres come from, when only the raw cotton was here before” then in “recognizing” it as woven, you are in fact tacitly accepting a causal history that implies design. You’re ruling out combinations of freak events and natural laws as the explanation for the woven cloth. So the recognition or classifying conceals a design inference — even if the inference is one you never consciously made.

  98. 99
    Kantian Naturalist

    It’s possible that I was making a design inference, but I’m not entirely sure. Design inferences are supposed to be strictly inductive, right? Whereas once I’ve decided to classify the alien cloth as an artifact, it’s just analytic that it was designed. But maybe you’re right — after all, what grounds the classification is its perceptible similarities to the categories I already know how to work with.

    If cotton turned itself into cloth on this alien world, the laws of physics would have to be radically different here — so different that they couldn’t be universal truths, as we take them to be — which in turn means that there aren’t any “laws” of physics in the sense we ordinarily mean, as established by the past three hundred years of Western science.

    Given a choice between “making a design inference” and tossing the laws of physics entirely out the window, I’d happily say that it’s more reasonable to chose the former.

    Ok, so you got me to concede that much — what’s the next step?

  99. Hi, Kantian.

    There is no “next step” — not at the moment, anyway. I just wanted your confirmation of my analysis. I certainly agree with you that we classify things as artifacts often enough without perceiving ourselves as making any formal inference; but it seems to me that the fact that we can make errors in classifying some things as artifacts (e.g., when a young child sees a certain pattern of frost on a window, neatly arranged hexagons or something of the sort, he or she often thinks that someone made the glass that way) indicates the unconscious thought process we are employing (such arrangements don’t happen by nature or change, but only by design).

    I agree that the next step — the crucial step — the step that moves from television sets on Mars to complex organic systems — is debatable. And it doesn’t bother me when when TEs or atheists or others (sensible “neutrals” like yourself) point out the dissimilarities between organic systems and artificial ones, and raise the question whether the inference can be straightforwardly applied. That’s a reasonable caution, the sort of caution that we see in any good philosopher. (If only all the bloggers and commenters and popular book-writers wrote with your calm and sobriety about these things!)

    At the same time, the similarities between organic systems and artificial ones are strong as well. And whether we try to cast those similarities in terms of information theory or in terms of probability theory or something else, I don’t think the argument is fundamentally a bad one — though I would hasten to add that I don’t think it constitutes a “proof” (in the Euclidean or Cartesian sense) either. I don’t expect “proof” of a formal kind in any natural science — just more rather than less compelling explanations. At the end of “Theism” Mill speaks about inductive arguments of varying strengths, and ranks the argument for God’s existence from design (Paley-like arguments) as only of middling strength; but he doesn’t therefore say that they are inadmissible arguments or should be banned from philosophy. He’s simply saying that they aren’t demonstrative as Aquinas or someone else would mean the term. But few things are demonstrative in that narrow sense.

    That’s why I have trouble getting excited about the “ID is not science” argument, because it seems to imply that “real science” somehow has achieved “truth” by some rigorous method, whereas ID arguments are looser somehow. Yet all arguments in natural science, from those that established the ether to those that destroyed it, from those that established the steady state to those which substituted the Big Bang, are non-demonstrative in the classical sense. They are accepted because they are compelling to the mind at a certain stage of scientific and cultural development. Nothing is ever “proved” in the final sense.

    I think that neo-Darwinism once seemed compelling (a) because it fit in well with (indeed, was partly derived from) a cultural ethos in which “survival of the fittest” and “the invisible hand” (which makes selfish actions of individuals work out best for the whole nation, as selfish actions of individuals with superior variations in the long run strengthen the species) was a keynote in economics and other fields; (b) because it was reductionist (all higher-level organization is explained by crude stepwise advances of lower-level organization) and (c) because it was anti-teleological (the mutations aren’t trying to do anything; no one is guiding the show). Only such things can explain why neo-Darwinism was so widely accepted (the Modern Synthesis, i.e., neo-Darwinism, was firmly in place by 1947) at a time when biologists didn’t really have a clue how inheritance worked, how proteins were made inside cells, etc. (the double helix wasn’t understood until 1953, and the triplet codons weren’t entirely worked out until about 1963 or so), and knew next to nothing about developmental processes and how they interconnect with genomic factors. There was no *empirical* reason to believe that “random mutations” filtered by “natural selection” could create radically new body forms (as opposed to tinker with existing ones, making necks longer, spots darker, eyes bluer, etc.). The argumentative looseness involved in accepting neo-Darwinian mechanisms long before the genetic-biochemical basis for it was established was at least as high as the argumentative looseness in the best passages of Paley etc. And the design argument is tighter now than it was in Paley’s day, now that we know things that neither Paley nor Darwin (nor any of the Modern Synthesis people in 1937-1947) knew about molecular biology, genomics, and developmental biology.

    That said, I don’t regard the design inference as a “proof.” I think it’s an “inference to the best explanation” and therefore tentative, revisable as new data come in. The best explanation for the origin of the first cell *now* is that a designing intelligence arranged it. That’s what I think men and women of science should conclude, if they adopt *any* tentative inference about the origin of life. If new information comes in, i.e., if we find out tomorrow that we can create proteins randomly in a milk shake maker, then that inference would not longer be the best explanation; chance would surpass it. But it seems to me that “good science” at the moment points more strongly to design rather than chance, at least for the first life. After you have life, with its possibility for variation and exploring new forms, then an additional argument needs to be made. I see Meyer as concentrating on the first point, and Dembski, Behe, Nelson, etc. as working on the additional arguments.

    So I support ID but I’m not a dogmatist about it. My main reason for entering the fray was that so many anti-ID people were being nasty, polemical, and just plain unreasonable in not giving ID arguments *some* credit. It’s almost as if anything any ID person argues has to be met, for political reasons, by flat denials — every white must be met with a black, every argument with “lousy science” “not science” “closet creationism” etc. You don’t do that, which I appreciate; but many TEs and atheists do. Hence my occasional ferocity on this site. I can’t stand intellectual unfairness, which is a form of intellectual dishonesty. I like your more balanced way of arguing, whereby you represent ID people as at least intelligent and not as entirely wrong in everything they say, while reserving the right to disagree on a number of points. If only that could be the standard internet approach! But I’m daydreaming again.

  100. ‘Whether the relational property of having been designed applies to organisms, as it does to artifacts, depends on how impressed one is by the relevant similarities between them. I’m just not impressed by the similarities at all.’

    But, re your #18, surely, KN, you would be all the more in impressed in favour of ID, in relation to the immeasurably more sophisticated machine constituted by the organism?

  101. RE your #98, Mung, why does Mt Rushmore appear to be designed and patently was, yet the teleological default assumption be that the whole of nature in all its apparent ingenuity (such as to leads to man’s very successful biomimetic research), complexity and variety, be nothing more than the product of random chance. Utter insanity.

  102. Nothing less. Not even a degree of mental deficiency.

  103. @ Timaeus
    ‘I think that neo-Darwinism once seemed compelling (a) because it fit in well with (indeed, was partly derived from) a cultural ethos in which “survival of the fittest” and “the invisible hand” (which makes selfish actions of individuals work out best for the whole nation, as selfish actions of individuals with superior variations in the long run strengthen the species) was a keynote in economics and other fields;’

    Timaeus, I can see that in terms of exploiting the worldly bent of merchants, their incorrigible commitment to a kind of personal, spiritual kamikaze, but not as endorsement of their morality. But then neither was the touted myth of the survival of the fittest.

    So, it seems to me that the point Smith was making was nothing other than the old Augustinian adage that Grace builds upon Nature, perhaps a more technical aspect of the more secular adage that it takes all types to make a world. Notably, in the case of the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker, et al.

    What smith referred to as the Hidden Hand, would, therefore, have been nothing other than the synergies arising from the prudent use of all human skills, so that ‘all things’ could ‘work together for good to them that love God.’

    Unsurprisingly, that august, encyclopaedia of record, Wikipedia, casts him as an unbeliever, if I remember correctly, but if he was such, he was eminently imbued as the moral philosopher he was, with pristine, Christian values.

    Also, if that was the case, it may be that the fame he acquired through a general misunderstanding of the burden of his writings, if it occurred in his own day, as well as in our purblind, Brave New Neo-Conservative world, ‘turned his head’, as it was to turn Darwin’s. Even Marx was to claim that there were people who were more Marxist than he was, but doubtless was eventually grateful insofar as it ‘aggrandised’ his fame/notoriety.

    However, as regards the grander, more opulent merchants, he evidently viewed them as out and out recidivists, criminals, to be watched like hawks, in order to forfend against their constant conspiring against the common good, by gratuitously raising prices, etc.

    I realise this is not germane to the thread, but think it worth pointing these things out, in the teeth of all the unconscionably-mendacious far-right propaganda concerning him.

    http://www.commondreams.org/ar.....09/23/4046

  104. It’s a pleasure to talk to the first man in history who has performed (101-104 above) a quadruple Axel!

    Yes, Adam Smith was a professor of Moral Philosophy, and I would not be surprised if he personally opposed certain forms of greed. In mentioning the “invisible hand” I wasn’t trying to blame him for all the evils of capitalism; it’s true, however, that the slogan, and the idea, of the “invisible hand” lent itself to misuse by the greedy and the exploitative, who could salve their consciences by saying that according to the best economic theory, their ruthless activities were contributing to the long-term good of the human race! Thus, you have books with titles like “The Virtue of Selfishness” etc. But of course “selfishness” as commonly understood can never be virtuous — not for a Christian, anyway. (Economic activity aimed at a profit is another matter — that need not be “selfish” in the bad sense.)

    In any case, the point about Darwin is that the pigeon or giraffe with a survival advantage couldn’t care less what happens to his less competitive brethren. He will out-breed them, and their lines will eventually die out. Nature’s wisdom works through the pitiless destruction of the less efficient. It’s no accident that the rhetoric of businessmen in the Anglophone world (where Darwin had his greatest influence) is filled with language like “survival of the fittest” “law of the jungle” “drive other competitors out of business” “the superior product will survive” etc.

    I’m not blaming Adam Smith for all of that, but one can see how Darwin’s theory fit in better with economic notions set forth by Adam Smith than it would have with notions set forth by Plato, Aristotle, or Cicero. Smith’s ideas facilitated, even if they did not cause, or intend, the later evils done in Smith’s name.

    However, I think you understand my general point, which is that the acceptance of Darwin was at least as much due to cultural factors as to the scientific merits of Darwinian theory. (In fact, Darwin’s theory of natural selection was severely criticized by many scientists, on scientific, not religious, grounds, and was not universally accepted until it was synthesized with the genetics of Mendel and some high-powered math by the population geneticists of the 1930s. But the NCSE and Myers, Moran, Ken Miller, Dawkins, etc. will never bring up such bits of biological history. It suits their propaganda purposes to picture the history as “Darwin comes along, slays Paley in one stroke, and the whole biological world falls at his feet” — a historiography that could be accepted only by the most vulgar of journalists.)

  105. T: AS had some petty sharp things to say about merchants and the like, and their tendency to create greed driven conspiracies in restraint of trade. KF

  106. F/N: I would argue that in the case of digital signal processing systems in the living cell, we are not looking at mere similarity, but instantiation. I would further point out that so long as agency is possible at OOL or OO body plans or OO a fine tuned cosmos, we cannot properly exclude such as candidates, on pain of censorship of the process of investigation of the remote past in light of its traces and causes in the present that are known to be adequate to cause such signs. KF

  107. 108

    Timaeus,

    What a wonderful read #100 was! You said:

    So I support ID but I’m not a dogmatist about it. My main reason for entering the fray was that so many anti-ID people were being nasty, polemical, and just plain unreasonable in not giving ID arguments *some* credit. It’s almost as if anything any ID person argues has to be met, for political reasons, by flat denials — every white must be met with a black, every argument with “lousy science” “not science” “closet creationism” etc.

    The main reason I present the arguments I do is to expose the unreasonableness of the ideological stonewalling on several fronts.

    For years on the internet I’ve run into those that claim that ID detection is “not science”, but rather seeks to undermine science. What? How can the effort to quantify what is in many cases an obvious difference between categories of physical objects be called “non-science”?

    The revealing aspect of this is: in every other case, scientists leap into the effort to quantify everything imaginable, not just apparent differences between categories of objects and phenomena. But, when it comes to trying to quantify the difference between obvious, known cases of ID and that which is presumed to be naturally-occurring – IOW, quantifying a difference known to exist – we run into those that refuse to even admit that a battleship is obviously, quantifiably different from a pile of rocks.

    They won’t even answer simple, basic questions, apparently to avoid being corralled into the cul-de-sac of their ideological denial.

    It seems to me that the biological arguments, which is where this debate is almost entirely held, covers up this more fundamental and explicit issue because it is buried under rather dense scientific and mathematical terminology and references.

    What dispassionate onlookers should note, IMO, is this is what the ID community is dealing with deep inside those arguments about protein landscapes, islands of function and information creation, transcription and use; their opposition (atheistic, materialist darwinists) will often not even admit that there is, even in principle, a quantifiable difference, in terms of intelligent design, between a battleship and a pile of rocks.

    Once again: how can anyone expect to have an intellectually honest and productive debate about ID with those that deny this, and when called on it, are content to say “I have no idea if such a difference can be quantified” or “Nope, I’m not going to answer those questions.”

    How can there be any expectation of fair, honest treatment of deeper and more involved biological/evolutionary issues when this is the kind of ideological intransigence one is working with?

  108. He surely did, KF. One senses that the CBI’s finest would have been electronically tagged, today, were society any wiser, instead of dimmer.

    Strange as it may seem, Timaeus, I believe this sudden, overwhelming success of individuals of egregious mediocrity(!), hitherto unknown precisely in the area of their sudden apotheosis, has become a recurrent feature of the West, precipitated by far right-wing ‘backwoodsmen’, (effectively, all who are generically atheist), when they find, as regularly happens, that at last, the opportunity they had been working towards has arrived.

    They gradually come to believe more and more in their own publicity, and so end up as demi-gods in their own eyes, as well as those of their supporters, a little further down the food-chain than their billionnaire sponsors.

    Even Lloyd George, admittedly on the more cynical downward slope by that time, expressed admiration for Mussolini, according to the UK Daily Mail, which, at one time, had had headlines lauding Mussolini and was also passionate about the merits of ‘Mr Hitler’. In another item, it mentioned that Churchill himself had actually stated that Mussolini was the greatest national leader in the world.

    If you want the inside track on what goes on behind the scenes, read a right-wing rag. I hadn’t known that our ships heading for Suez were being tracked by a US battleship. ‘Move over, sonny. Your day’s over!’ It’s equally the case that the most brilliantly savage humour, even against its own, politically, is from the right. None more hilarious than Evelyn Waugh.

    In one of his books, the historian, A J P Taylor, stated that the Lord Chancellor (Mr Law and Order) of a former, female Prime minister of the UK – of whom more later – canvassed as the conservative candidate for Oxford in a prewar by-election under the slogan, ‘A vote for Hogg’ – as he then was – ‘is a vote for Hitler.’ Whenever I have brought this up in newspapers, it has been denied, and the slogan ascribed to another candidate, but Taylor was a meticulous scholar.

    Moreover, I wrote to the head of Channel 4 TV saying to him that he should be ashamed of himself, as a Jew, for not publicising this; and it was only(?) by chance that I found myself watching the programme that he did in fact make on that infamous bye-election (they voted for Hogg), when he was interviewing Lord Longford. When asked directly about it, Longford squirmed with an embarrassed grin and, tut- tutted at the idea, though without directly denying it. By the way, Hogg won that election, as most of the monied people in the West and the Antipodes had at that time a great tenderness for Mussolini and ‘Mr Hitler’.

    A striking parallel with Darwin in this sudden, in her case, proximately media-driven, apotheosis, is a certain former, female prime minister of the UK.

    Suddenly, once she had served her purpose and had become an embarrassment (possibly, incipience of the dementia, referring to herself with the royal plural), she was almost literally given ‘the bum’s rush’, and one could sense that she would have been asking herself, ‘How can I be so different from what I was last week? When I, so to speak, walked on water? And have been doing so to great fanfares, for a long time now.’

    Taylor also recounted that Hitler too was carried along far more than he had anticipated, by the efforts of the German industrialists, lawyers, physicians et al, and the concomitantly ambivalent attitude of the UK. Chomsky asserted that the UK could have prevented WWII as late as 1938, but the Nazis were good for the stock-market. Its so easy to understand Christ’s animadversions against the World with a big W.

    Incidentally, when a group of anti-Nazi freedom-fighters came to Britain, at great personal risk, presumably – I certainly hope* – before the war, seeking help from our Government of the day, they were told by a Foreign Office official that they were traitors to their country! In fact, most were executed towards the end of the war by the Nazis – doubtless after being tortured.

    *I certainly hope so, as during WWI, some clown of a Tory MP expressed consternation at plans to bomb the industrial Ruhr, since, as he protested, it was private property…

  109. Quadruple Axel, eh, Tim? Well spotted. And to think, I could have been a contender at the Olympics!

  110. There seem to be two separate issues here. The first is teleology: The battleship is clearly to float and shoot projectiles: Mt Rushmore is obviously resembling people: KN’s cloth is clearly … cloth. Unfortunately natural science has forbidden itself from doing teleology.

    The second is the weaker issue of efficient causes beyond the apparent ability of inanimate nature – which are usually associated with purpose. Functional complexity even in the absence of knowledge of function – the battleship has taken too much careful work to be natural, even if alien investigators don’t know about ships or guns.

    A while ago I blogged on a personal couple of examples of objects with no cultural context, no definite human agency and no known purpose. Yet one of them was unhesitatingly described as “artificial” by a British Museum expert, even as he expressed complete ignorance as to its nature. So, for your amusement, I present two local alien artifacts from England – designed, or not? And why?

  111. WJM@83: It’s important to demonstrate the obvious because often it isn’t so obvious. For example, it is obvious that the sun rises in the east. It is obvious that the moon radiates light. Some things are obvious only in hindsight or in context. If you cannot demonstrate that a battleship results from ID, how could you hope to make the case that the universe and/or life results from ID?

    KF@90: Yes, I am willing to entertain the possibility that design may be inferred. You know, I wish this site would spend much more time demonstrating how to make such inferences.

    [Side-question, just for curiosity: Are you willing to entertain the possibility that "evolution is true" in the sense of Jerry Coyne's book title? Maybe you all already do entertain this possibility. I really don't know.]

    UBP@93: For argument’s sake, let’s say the “material marker” does warrant inferring “agency involvement” in the gene. If so, you are saying that to solve a recognized engineering issue in the gene–the need to effect translation–a designer decided and intended to make a new invention: materially instantiated “physicochemically-arbitrary relationships.” Please let me know if I am representing the view correctly, but I think you are saying that the designer built and intended these “physicochemically-arbitrary relationships” to perform genetic translation. Assuming I have your position represented competently, my question what the “agent” specifically did to be “involved,” as you say. What did the agent do to get involved in designing biological information? Did the agent select the relationships needed from among choices? Did the agent arrange chemicals and timing of relationships? Questions like these seem like ones whose answers ultimately establish an ID theory.

  112. 113

    “If you cannot demonstrate that a battleship results from ID …”

    Tragically, LT is completely serious.

  113. Stop it! Your humour is like my late uncle’s.. so bitter, it made me feel guilty laughing at it. Well, he did used to get upset if I laughed at one of his more bitter cracks.

    Oddly enough, nowhere near as academically-educated as you people, he was nevertheless a wizard at electronics, worked at Aldermaston in quite a responsible capacity, and also moonlighted for the March Formula One team.

    Anyway, he was telling me that at Aldermaston, they had a system whereby they were put under immense pressure by being obliged to show the state of the progress of their work, evidently at frequent intervals.

    Then he told me that a colleague of his called it, ‘examination by introspection’, and when I laughed, he got quite upset – telling me it wasn’t funny!

    On another occasion, his bitter humour just bamboozled me. Passing Aldermaston on a car trip, he nodded, saying, There they are, the salt mines!’ In my naivety, I said I hadn’t realised there were salt mines in this country.

    I’m getting to look forward to seeing more of your and Mung’s barbed shafts of wit. Or maybe, on occasions, as above, just pithy, if slightly exaggerated truths. I can’t quite see Shakespeare crafting a tragedy around poor Yorrick’s… sorry, LT’s folly.

  114. LT:

    Pardon, but you know or should know I have dedicated a whole series over the course of two years now at UD to design detection per FSCO/I and in the course of which, I have worked with Torley and Giem on what ended up as the following log reduced expression:

    Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold.

    Just for the fun of it, let me simply apply this to the two flint stone objects Jon Garvey has identified here. The focal subject will be the parallel or slightly divergent rings on both objects.

    From the case in view these are bump the toe on stones in a heath territory. However, we see the patterns that are not crystallographic order, nor random scars or fractures, but a clearly organised pattern, sustained through the obvious difficulty of working a fairly hard stone. The rings follow a pattern and are information bearing. They are evidently sustained in rings, where we could assign control points to each and estimate reasonable divergence in bits assigned to a circle. Let’s use the old nautical 32 points of arc and halve it, requiring 6 bits per point laterally, with another 4 bits per point to address depth control (notice uniformity) and let’s use 64 points around the arc, which seems reasonable on thinking of filing or sawing. 64 * 10 bits = 640 bits per ring. Just one ring would be enough to say designed.

    That makes sense, if I saw a rock or a rod with a ring in it of uniform width and following a pattern, that would be enough to say that intuitively.

    The second object seems to have 15 rings, and the second at least 20. This is assuming hey are rings and not a spiral pattern like a cut thread.

    So, while I cannot say what Mr Garvey’s objects are for, I can say that they are full of FSCO/I and show themselves to be designed on the metric just given.

    Next, you seem to want to suggest that being possibly open to detecting design but obviously dubious is of epistemic status equivalent to views on macro-evolution by blind watchmaker means.

    The two are not remotely comparable.

    As you also know or should know, we do have a large base of empirical observation that shows design to be causally adequate to explain FSCO/I and we lack counter-instances to this. Indeed the design inference on observed signs pivots on that empirically reliable finding.

    By contrast we have precisely zero actual observations of chance variation and differential reproductive success giving rise to novel body plans. And this is multiplied by the challenges of such chance variation needing to account for the FSCO/I. Extrapolations from so-called microevolution are unwarranted, and it is improper to imply or suggest that the one constitutes evidence for the other, given the vast difference in complex, specific information involved. Where also, even Young Earth Creationists of modern sorts have no problem with so-called microevo.

    What I can say is that my worldview is not on the line on the issue, I could be perfectly satisfied with universal common descent, on demonstrated mechanisms, were that actually shown to be the case. But that is about as far from what actually obtains as we could imagine.

    If you dispute this, kindly provide the evidence on causal adequacy.

    In short: name the Nobel Prize holders who “done the work.”

    I am pretty sure you simply do not have them.

    So, why not call my bluff if you have the evidence, and correct me in my benighted error?

    (Better yet, why not provide a response to the 6,000 word Evolution essay challenge that hits four months unanswered on the morrow? Remember, I have publicly offered to host the response right here at UD. Remember, you have to ground two things solidly in light of adequate empirical observations that show the causal power to do the job: origin of life via chem evo, and origin of body plans by chance and necessity mechanisms.)

    Recall, too: I and other design thinkers to Thaxton et al in the mid 1980′s have plainly and repeatedly noted that the evident design of life does not address directly the question of the nature of the designer, whether within or beyond the cosmos. Where design would imply something beyond the cosmos is obviously cosmological fine tuning and related matters such as the contingency of the observed cosmos.

    But on that I don’t need to cite Christians, Sir Fred Hoyle, a life-long agnostic and Nobel equivalent prize holder, is the one who has put the cat in among the pigeons.

    Evolutionary materialism is committed to some form of blind chance variation and differential reproductive success being responsible for the diversity in the world of life, and it has actually tried to ideologically redefine science and its methods in that pursuit.

    In short, you have tried to equate quite different things.

    So, now, let us get back to basics. Here, we have a landslide on mars and ticking out from the foot of it, a heavily armoured but crashed space battleship, let’s just say with advanced rail gun turrets and unknown propulsion systems.

    Do you recognise that there is a strong contrast between the two, the rockfall and the ship? On what grounds and how would you describe that qualitatively? Can such be reduced to a quantitative model and metric? Why or why not?

    Especially by contrast to the case above with Mr Garvey’s rock fragments, the concept of Functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information, and the threshold metric advanced to quantify same?

    KF

  115. WJM and Axel (113&114): Your responses are especially delightful because they represent the real difference between the scientists and scholars, on the one hand, and you. Scientists and scholars welcome the opportunity to address the basic questions, the fundamentals, and the so-called obvious cases. Those driven by agendas and religions…well, the barren trees of your labor speak for themselves.

    My dissertation is on an exceedingly basic concept: text. What is a text? It’s a very interesting topic and one than others before me have asked as well. But you think some questions are too obvious to need answering. This tells everyone what’s really going on: you don’t actually know what ID is, says, or implies. Truly, on you ID is the cheap tuxedo the world says it is. Congratulations. The pity is that if you were to examine rigorously what it means to say a battleship is designed, you might learn something important about the processes and functions pre-supposed by the concept of design.

    KF@115: I am aware of your work, but you know or should know that you are not answering the question I actually ask. My question is very basic and straightforward: what does it mean to say those two stones are designed? There are more questions that might follow, such as does it mean the same thing to say two stones are designed as to say a life-form is designed?

    As to this:

    we do have a large base of empirical observation that shows design to be causally adequate to explain FSCO/I

    I ask that you tell me more about the observations we have of design causing FSCO/I in living organisms.

    I have not asked about the nature of the designer and don’t really care about it.

    Finally, I suspect you will not answer my question–that never seems to happen, ever–but I’ll ask again: Are you willing to entertain the possibility that “evolution is true” in the sense of Jerry Coyne’s book title?

  116. What does it mean to say that living things have the appearance of design?

    What dies it mean to say that an internet blog post has the appearance of design?

  117. ‘Design inferences’ are commonly attributed by credible scholars around the world to ‘human-made things,’ even if they don’t choose that same Dembskian grammar. Indeed, human-made things are the proper realm for normal ‘design inferences.’ What is generally and (against the grain at UD) responsibly rejected is the idea that Big-D, i.e. supernatural ‘Design’ should play any role whatsoever in small-n natural sciences. That is the clear and obvious orientation of Big-ID, with its anti-naturalism strategy.
    One of the gravest problems at UD is revealed by the Gingerich-inspired focus on Big-ID (or upper-case ID), aka ‘Intelligent Design’ (with capital letters) theory, which he and I and Nullasalus and Mike Gene and most other people on the planet reject. There is little problem for most people accepting small-id; indeed, that is the orthodox view of the Abrahamic religions that believe the world is created with a purpose by a Deity who had us (human beings) in Mind/Spirit. Likewise, small-id is the common, even standard view for studying human-made things in roughly 2/3 of academic subjects, though they are often called ‘soft’ or ‘impure’ by hard-core naturalists and natural-physical scientists. It’s not like small-id is outlawed or discriminated against when huge international conferences on small-d design and ‘designing’ take place regularly in various contexts and where many credible scholars are involved.

    Personally, it doesn’t bother me a lick what TEs say to the contrary because orthodox religious views about the limits of evolutionary theories have already been made clear, that is, aside from neo-evangelical American controversies against real, historical Adam and Eve based on population genetics and genomics. But claiming one can ‘natural scientifically’ ‘detect’ supernatural ‘Design’ (i.e. what Big-ID theory actually proclaims, with the ‘supernatural’ attempted to be hidden for PR purposes) is itself highly problematic. So Big-ID cloaks itself in small-n ‘naturalistic-sounding’ language, trying to be ‘natural science-only,’ when to anyone paying attention, Big-ID is quite obviously a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation first and foremost. Yet it is no surprise that few people at UD will publically admit that.

    Jon Garvey notes: “the battleship has taken too much careful work to be natural.” Iow, one predominantly doesn’t require ‘natural sciences’ to study the small-d/c/c ‘design/creation/construction’ of battleships (applied or engineering is different than ‘pure natural sciences’). And folks, this is precisely why the Discovery Institute cancelled its 3-yr bid to actively promote Big-ID theory in small-id human-social sciences – it simply doesn’t make sense and has no potential ground to gain. Railing against Darwinism in social sciences and humanities had a decisively negative orientation, rather than offering any positive sense of Big-ID occurrence of quite obviously small-id objects. William J. Murray is simply wrong with his ‘simple argument’ because it quite plainly has *nothing* to do with Big-ID ‘Intelligent Design’ theory. Human beings don’t employ Big-ID ‘Intelligent Design’ processes because they/we are not gods (or Aliens).

    “I know intelligent design exists – humans employ it.” – William J. Murray

    Notice the seemingly intentional (or otherwise obscurantist) small-id ‘intelligent design’ language? Of course, human employment of their/our ‘intelligences’ has *nothing* to do with capital ‘Intelligent Design’ theory, the latter which is focussed on natural scientific knowledge or hypotheses dealing with OoL, OoBI or ‘human origins.’ Big-ID proponents, however, seemingly don’t want to respond to this intellectually potent and highly relevant observation about the vastly “limited role of Big-ID theory” in comparison with the fruitful and mainstream role of studying ‘intelligence’ and building, making, constructing, designing, inventing, innovating, creating, etc. as common language in non-Big-ID theory realms. Indeed, there are some in the ‘Big-ID theory Tent’ who continue to believe that ‘everything is designed,’ including horrific and punishable events and offences to human morality and dignity…all because they wish to universalise their natural-science oriented Big-ID theory.

    In #4, KN wrote: “My chief complaint against design theory, given what I know of it, is that it collapses the organism/artifact distinction.”

    The same goes for me, though there are other ‘complaints’ I have about Big-ID theory too. Nobody here has given a clear answer suggesting that Big-ID theory supposedly doesn’t collapse organisms and artefacts. In fact, attempted rebuttals to this position have been either baselessly claimed or altogether avoided at UD countless times. KF’s attempted universalisation of FSCO/I is the most direct example – we can observe human (small-d) designers in the designing processes of artefacts, thus thwarting his universalistic FSCO/I claims.

    Everybody here who has studied the history of the IDM, however, plainly should know that Big-ID, i.e. capitalised ‘Intelligent Design’ was initially promoted by the Father of the IDM, Phillip Johnson, as a Wedge against Naturalism. Timaeus confirms this when referring to the impotence of “blind natural processes” or “blind natural laws and chance” to produce (most) human-made things. But for some personal reason, perhaps based on his training in classical quasi-philosophy and western religious studies, he wants to resist the reality that Big-ID theory is purposefully anti-naturalistic or that it is necessarily super-naturalistic because the Big-I in Big-ID theory = Divine Intelligence and not just some naturally regressed ‘alien’ or human (small-i) intelligence behind Big-D Design.

    “that’s precisely the point of the design inference — that we can move from object to a designer of the object.” – Timaeus

    As usual, Timaeus is half-right in applying his rhetorician’s skills. We need not “move from object to a designer’ *in nature* if one seriously considers the theory of ‘more-decorated-than-any-IDist’ Adrian Bejan and his ‘design in nature’ as a topic of flow and construction (cf. Constructal Law). Bejan has no need for a small-d or Big-D ‘designer/Designer’ in his ‘design in nature’ ‘detection.’ But then again, he is not including human-made things in his natural science, except for when he sneaks them in the back door by writing with social scientists about social systems as ‘designed.’ This is a similar kind of attempt being made with the C.S. Lewis program at Discovery Institute, focussing on ‘scientism,’ even as it is all the while still displayed in Big-ID theory’s ‘natural-science-only’ approach.

    The key here for those who are sympathetic to Big-ID theory theologically or apologetically speaking, yet to be able safely reject Big-ID theory and responsibly accept small-id (iow, orthodox Abrahamic monotheism) is that ‘design without a designer’ makes no sense in the English language. In English, all ‘design/Design’ has a ‘designer/Designer.’ Big-ID is playing the game of univocal predication between God and humanity and should be more open about this, as the Fuller-Meyer exchange in Cambridge shows quite clearly.

    I’m not a TE and neither is KN. So you folks can take your ‘TEs always do’ and shove it in the eternal fire. That rhetorical trick doesn’t work when non-TEs rip obvious holes in Big-ID theory as an unnecessarily scientistic approach to OoL, OoBI and ‘human origins.’ small-id, though it is often not called that when it is not paying attention to Big-ID theory, is a mainstream and credible view to hold, leaving questions of OoL, OoBI and ‘human origins’ to a combination of science, philosophy and theology/worldview, instead of reducing them to merely natural scientism.

    Timaeus admits to his “years of frustration in arguments with philosophically dense TEs.” It may, however, take him several years more to possibly elevate his thoughts to actually and honestly face scholars (not just editors of other peoples’ work) who are not TEs and yet who quite responsibly reject Big-ID theory for sound and compelling reasons.

    Sure, there are admittedly some otherwise intelligent people who promote Big-ID and who do so mainly based on their religious faith, while nonetheless motivated by the desire to do good science. But this doesn’t make their views inevitably true or provable as a ‘natural scientific’ theory or even as warranted for evangelicals across the USA, especially when all can see the reactionary character of Big-ID theory in the IDM with its hyper-focus on ‘(neo-)Darwinism’ and/or atheism.

    The false dichotomy Big-ID people continue to promote is a testimony to the backwardness (literally, as Meyer calls Big-ID a ‘historical science’) of Big-ID theory, which fails to posit any forward-looking predictions or meaningful moral inclusions. Big-ID is an amoral theory that has nothing to do with ethics, values, beliefs or humanity. In trying so hard and insistently to be a natural scientific theory, to prove that things are (were in the past) ‘Designed,’ Big-ID theory loses touch completely with humanity and the non-natural artefacts of our making. There simply is no Big-ID theory of human-made things!

    “I can’t stand intellectual unfairness, which is a form of intellectual dishonesty.” – Timaeus

    Then Timaeus might want to actually face KN’s honest and insightful observation regarding Big-ID: “My chief complaint against design theory, given what I know of it, is that it collapses the organism/artifact distinction.”
    If organisms aren’t ‘artefacts,’ i.e. if they are not (in Big-ID’s language) ‘Designed’ by (unnameable, non-natural, non-human, i.e. Big-A) Agents, then Big-ID is a meaningless and explanatorily super-weak theory. Traditional religious apologetics mean much more than ‘modern’ Big-ID theory ever will in trying to convince people that the universe is (by a Big-D Deity) ‘Created’ (i.e. by Design).

    The best “inference to the best explanation” is that natural processes are what natural scientists look at and study in trying to account for and describe natural history. Big-ID theory hasn’t made so much as a dent in this view, while continuing to be one of the most active anti-Darwin lobbies in the western world. The best (read: authentic or legitimate) theories of ‘design’ and ‘intelligence’ are those that involve ‘designs’ and ‘designing’ by ‘intelligences’ that we can study here and now, or historically through evidences available of various kinds and types, e.g. typed or written documents, signed contracts, photographs, recordings, sketches, artwork, architecture, archaeology, etc. – all human-made things.

    As Ted Davis recently wrote at BioLogos: “all historical questions are left officially out of the [Big-]ID platform.”
    Surely people here admit this to be true, just as the lone IDist commentator at BioLogos did? The limited role of Big-ID theory is therefore to substitute a weak explanatory theory (almost entirely motivated by religous beliefs) as natural-scientific ontological proof. Davis continues, saying “the inability of [Big-]ID to offer an alternative history of nature [to evolution] counts crucially against its acceptance by the [natural] scientific community.” It is easy to concur with Davis’ scholarly viewpoint on this.

    What we are therefore left with is that the real (small-d) ‘design theory,’ which of course involves (human) intelligence, continues unabated in universities, industries and think tanks, unconcerned that a neo- or quasi-creationist theory of Big-ID is attempting to propagate itself funded mainly by right-wing American politics and evangelical (or sometimes fundamentalist) churches. Responsible and rigorous science and scholarship continue on even as the narrow anti-Darwin and sometimes anti-evolution (cf. ‘edge of evolution’) position of Big-ID theory tries to carve its own niche.

    Jon’s ‘teleology’ is easily discussed in its proper context: in the realm of human-made things, where small-d ‘designers’ can openly be discussed and where small-d ‘design processes’ are openly recognised as part of normal science, rather than hidden under mysterious wedge-like censorship and victimisation claims.

    If Timaeus had the intellectual integrity he requests of others, he would stop asking TEs to debate amongst themselves about their theologies, which they have already openly and repeatedly admitted involves a variety of theological viewpoints. Instead, he would address William J. Murray here at UD and inform him directly that Big-ID theory as promoted by IDM leaders is actually not what he thinks it is in his conflation of small-id ‘human-id’ with Big-ID ‘non-human-ID’ theory. Does Timaeus have the intellectual integrity to publically confront his fellow IDists, when he sees that they are conflating organisms and artefacts for ulterior purposes?

    Gregory

    p.s. KairosFocus will likely come back at this with his FSCI universalism. Let him simply answer this question before adding a long post that tells us nothing specific about how human-made things (i.e. artefacts) have actually been (small-id) ‘intelligently designed’ in such a way that they can be helpfully addressed by Big-ID theory, which is not ‘designed’ to address them: What is the FSCO/I metric for calculating 1) the ‘complexity’ of any NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL team, 2) the probability of the events occurring as they did on 11-09-2001, and 3) the colour tie and matching or non-matching sock colour that Barack Obama chooses to wear on any given day? Please note, KF, I’m just looking for numbers, bits of information, etc. – a whole whack of pseudo-explanatory text is not needed or requested. Just provide the FSCO/I calculation numbers for these artefacts and events please. We of course *all* already know that small-d ‘design’ is involved in these things, so that should make it easier for you to calculate using mathematics and probability alone, since the small-d ‘designers’ of these artefacts can be observed, even if their small-i ‘intelligence’ is a much more complicated question. Thanks.

  118. 119

    The best (read: authentic or legitimate) theories of ‘design’ and ‘intelligence’ are those that involve ‘designs’ and ‘designing’ by ‘intelligences’ that we can study here and now, or historically through evidences available of various kinds and types, e.g. typed or written documents, signed contracts, photographs, recordings, sketches, artwork, architecture, archaeology, etc. – all human-made things.

    Gregory, each of your examples (documents, photographs, sketchs, recordings, etc) all stem from living systems. As such, they all exemplify a singularly unique, and readily identifiable material condition. This material condition is not demonstrated anywhere else in the physical record of the cosmos — except at the origin of life on Earth. They are all semiotic, i.e. they all have physicochemically arbitrary relationships instantiated in a material system. Therefore, the distinctions you require in order to rail against ID are decimated by the material evidence. This is why you will (as you must) continue to ignore that evidence.

  119. LT, re:

    I ask that you tell me more about the observations we have of design causing FSCO/I in living organisms.

    First, as a side note, are you aware of modern genetic engineering by Venter et al? Design of organisms by intelligent agents manipulating genetic information is a fact. We have even had the case of putting in a whole genome.

    In short, there is no good reason to doubt the feasibility of the proposed cause for the FSCO/I in the context of living systems, as we routinely see the same cause producing the same effect in ever so many other contexts also, and even as we have good analytic reasons to recognise that it is highly implausible for blind chance and mechanical necessity to originate FSCO/I, especially where it involves codes, data structures, algorithms and associated clusters of effecting machines.

    Next, my understanding is that you have an advanced education with significant exposure to philosophical matters and some understanding of science. That is important to note, as what you have put down is so revealing as a sign of what has gone wrong with how educated people have been conditioned to think in our civilisation. Therefore, while I have less time than it deserves, I will comment on this point briefly.

    From about the C18 on, science has had a focus on origins and the deep past that has not been directly observed, i.e for 200+ years. Similarly — and this is in fact a highly instructive and historically influential context for the development of science to try to address such questions — when court rooms have to consider cases on circumstantial evidence, they have to credibly reconstruct an unobserved past to determine if some events, say a death or a fire, were caused by design rather than accident of natural circumstances. This, in a momentous context.

    The logic used in both cases boils down to inference to best, most responsible [and inevitably in principle provisional, though in praxis in many cases morally certain] explanation on traces that credibly come from the actual past, interpreted in light of an understanding of causes, effects and reliable signs.

    In short, with all due respect, you are falling into the trap of selective hyperskepticism, and are disregarding 200+ years of sound development of methods, once the results do not go where you want to go.

    We have abundant experience and observation of the only known sufficient cause of FSCO/I: design.

    FSCO/I is a well tested — billions of cases — and highly characteristic, reliable, observable sign of design.

    As for what design is, you know or should know the summary by Dembski as is cited in the IOSE as just one instance:

    . . . (1) A designer conceives a purpose. (2) To accomplish that purpose, the designer forms a plan. (3) To execute the plan, the designer specifies building materials and assembly instructions. (4) Finally, the designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials. (No Free Lunch, p. xi. HT: ENV.)

    Nor is this idiosyncratic or dubious, here is Wikipedia speaking against known ideological interest on this general subject, but compelled by the facts on the ground:

    design has been defined as follows.

    (noun) a specification of an object, manifested by an agent, intended to accomplish goals, in a particular environment, using a set of primitive components, satisfying a set of requirements, subject to constraints;
    (verb, transitive) to create a design, in an environment (where the designer operates)[2]

    Another definition for design is a roadmap or a strategic approach for someone to achieve a unique expectation. It defines the specifications, plans, parameters, costs, activities, processes and how and what to do within legal, political, social, environmental, safety and economic constraints in achieving that objective.[3]

    Here, a “specification” can be manifested as either a plan or a finished product, and “primitives” are the elements from which the design object is composed.

    Design is real, it defines a strategy of action by intelligent agents, and it is commonly manifest all around us. As you see from the live case of my analysing Jon Garvey’s stones last evening, we can reasonably infer from signs in objects that heir credible cause was design, on circumstantial evidence.

    The issue then is not really whether such is possible, credible or routinely used in momentous contexts, or even if scientific investigations use it. Just go attend a courtroom in a couple of cases where scientific circumstantial evidence is pivotal.

    Nope, the obvious underlying issue is to find rhetorical objections to shore up an a priori commitment, the same one long since highlighted by Lewontin in his 1997 NYRB article (and backed up by so many others including leading science and science education bodies):

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . . the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [[--> And if someone wants to play at quote-mining accusation talking point games, kindly read down through the longer cite and comments at the just above linked.]

    Philip Johnson’s response is apt:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    All of that can be elaborated on, but the bottomline is plain.

    We are dealing with people who in too many cases are evidently not willing to acknowledge that there is a significant and quantifiable difference between a battleship and a pile of rocks, or even of battleship parts for that matter, if their worldview agendas are in the stakes.

    If someone is locked into that sort of thing or is tempted by it, then to dismiss scientific reasoning by inferring to the best explanation of the past through traces in the present and tested causes and signs that can be compared tot hose traces, is no problem.

    Until, I guess enough of us stand up and say: NO, that is ridiculously inconsistent reasoning. STOP.

    KF

  120. Gregory:

    With all due respect, dismissive talking points and words do not change the issues on the ground and do not undermine how the case of Mr Garvey’s stones illustrated — live — how we can do a design inference on the FSCO/I concept.

    All you have managed to show is that regardless of evidence to the contrary, you are plainly locked into dismissing — for whatever reasons — the idea that the FSCO/I in living systems could have come about by design.

    I therefore invite onlookers to see for themselves the force of WJM’s basic point, that we are dealing with selective hyperskepticism here that will not acknowledge anything that could threaten to undermine a fixed view that is held for reasons other than evidence and reason.

    Let us reduce it to a simple test: is there a discernible difference that points to divergent cause between a pile of rocks and a battleship made from the ore in those sorts of rocks?

    If not, why not?

    And, if there is a difference why is it that any attempt to quantify such is being so sharply dismissed, even when there is evidence in front of us that it is at minimum on the road to success?

    KF

  121. PS: Do you not see that — to pick one of your attempted dismissive examples as a slice of the cake with all the ingredients in it — a NFL team is a highly complex and purposeful sociotechnical system full of functionally specific complex organisation on ever so many facets? Think about just the financial and accounting subsystems and linked tables or charts of organisation. The contracts are again FSCO/I rich, and ever so much more. We could in principle form a model framework and give a quantitative result but we would have long since passed the point of being obvious, this is yet another case where FSCO/I is recognisable and is known by direct observation and experience to trace to intelligence.

  122. 123

    Gregory,

    Your concept of “Big ID vs Little ID” is nothing but a straw man here. ID is ID, regardless of what is employing it and in what case. Whether or not there is some conspiracy to sneak some supernatural theocratic groundwork into the classroom is entirely irrelevant to the point of my argument here and to the issue of its scientific relevance. Even if others may have created ID theory, or may use it, to advance some kind of social agenda, it is entirely irrelevant to arguments about its validity.

    My simple argument about ID was nothing other than using factually known and obvious cases of ID, extrapolated via a rather trivial alien artifact hypothetical, to demonstrate the unwillingness of the anti-ID community in admitting even the most blatantly and obvious cases of ID, and to reveal the absurdity of their attacks on attempts to quantify the ID vs natural differential.

    So, while you admit that human-generated ID (the basis of the entire ID position) is a trivial argument, and that other non-”supernatural” cases of ID detection are also not really an issue (alien artifact hypothetical), when it comes to establishing and utilizing a methodology more rigorous than intuition and applying it to that which may threaten your worldview (biology, fine-tuning of the universe), suddenly we’ve entered the realm of “Big ID”, which you insist is completely different and somehow invalid simply because it might imply something you vaguely refer to as “supernatural” or because it might suit the purposes of some theocratic conspiracy.

    I do appreciate that you have apparently provided at least some of the motivation behind the intransigence that keeps so many from even admitting battleships as known cases of ID; many believe that ID theory is being used to thwart their particular ideological perspective and promote one they fear. So, by stonewalling, using straw man, appeals to motivation and conspiracy, or by simply refusing to answer simple questions, what this often boils down to in many cases is nothing more than theophobia.

  123. PPS: G, you also need to distinguish a sampling result from a precise probability calculation; I have pointed to a severe limitation on sampling relative to space of configs, and what can be reasonably expected, a representation of the bulk, not the sort of narrow unrepresentative zones that are associated with functional specificity in a context of high complexity. Let us just say — probably the earliest recorded design inference — Moshe rejected as ridiculous the tale that the gold was tossed in the fire and the golden calf resulted by blind chance and necessity. And even on the subject of making probability estimates you would do well to consult the results of statistical mechanics and linked reaction kinetics in the OOL context, say as were outlined by TBO in TMLO in the 1980′s.

  124. LarTanner:

    You know, I wish this site would spend much more time demonstrating how to make such inferences.

    OK:

    Yes, Intelligent Design is both testable and falsifiable. Intelligent Design relies on Newton’s First Rule, meaning agencies are only added when REQUIRED. Therefor to refute ID and any given design inference all one has to do is step up and demonstrate that blind and undirected processes can account for it. IOW all evos have to do to stop ID cold is to actually step up and A) produce a testable hypothesis for their position and B) produce positive, supporting evidence.

    However all evos can do is cry foul and say “blind, undirected processes is a strawman!”- yet it is a given that natural selection, genetic drift and HGT are all blind, purposeless processes and all mutations are undirected-> that is given the current theory of evolution. IOW evos are so clueless they don’t even understand the theory they try to defend!

    So there you have it – just start supporting your position and ID will go away.

    How is ID tested? As in positive evidence?

    1- See above as the way to the design inference is THROUGH the blind watchmaker

    2- The criteria for inferring design in biology is, as Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Leheigh University, puts it in his book Darwin ‘ s Black Box:“Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components.”

    So if nature, operating freely cannot account for it AND it meets that criteria, some agency is required and we infer design (or at least agency involvement).

  125. What does it mean to say that living things have the appearance of design?

    What does it mean to say that an internet blog post has the appearance of design?’

    Again, Mung. You’re on fire!

  126. .. an incredibly useful exercise, and it would obviously be compelling evidence in LT’s eyes.

  127. 128

    Onlookers please note:

    A very simple, straightforward and obvious argument is presented that leaves out any argument about biology or universal fine tuning, for the purpose of establishing the basic ground for the debate in non-controversial terms. Namely, using known human ID as a reference (battleships) and the trivial obviousness of its difference from non-organic, natural objects/phenomenon, the question is posed if (1) that difference can in principle be quantified, and (2) if that method of differential can in principle be used as inference to best explanation in the case of an alien “artifact” found on an otherwise uninhabited and desolate world.

    To paraphrase the responses:

    Graham2: “In terms of ID, there is no quantifiable difference between a battleship and a pile of rocks.”

    Graham2: “In terms of ID, I have no idea if in principle there is a quantifiable difference between a battleship and a pile of rocks.”

    LarTanner: “I’m avoiding answering your questions.”

    LarTanner: “I need you to demonstrate that battleships are the product of intelligent design.”

    Gregory: “ID is a religious conspiracy.”

  128. LT, until you and Gregory watch the YouTube videos on the latest findings concerning the Shroud of Turin, and the Sudarium of Oviedo, and report back on your conclusion, you are wasting people’s time on here, presuming to address the question of Big ID.

    You are simply not competent. Indeed, atheism, itself, now has zero scientific credential, the case for theism, and now Christianity being, effectively irrefutable.

  129. F/N: Demonstration of the intelligent design of battleships.

    Ladies and Gentlemen), courtesy Adm Jack Fisher, I give you, HMS Dreadnought, built in “a year and a day.”

    Motto: “Fear God and dread nought!”

    KF

    PS: make sure to watch the vid!

  130. KF

    Thanks for referencing my stones – I should point out the surrounding landscape for the finding of both stones is, indeed, heathland, so Rev Paley might well have stubbed his toe on them, and been disappointed they weren’t watches.

    On the face of it, your metric ought to be of considerable practical value in the non-controversial area of deciding whether an object is an artifact or a natural objet trouvé. My examples, intuitively, are clearly worked deliberately, but what if similarly non-contexted objects were less regularly patterned? “Was this rock decorated by an hitherto unknown race of interglacial immigrants, or is it just ice-weathered?” Could your methodology settle a dispute between an archaeologist’s and a geologist’s conflicting intuitions on the the matter? If so, it would be useful science, weighing the balance for or against the timing of the earliest inhabitants of (in this case) Essex.

    The thread is clearly looking for comment on the general applicability of such a metric, for which there must surely be a wealth of non-controversial applications. So it’s hard to see why your comments should provoke any discussions about ID-ology ideology at all: you’ve answered the question of the OP with the application of a metric in a real case. Was it valid? How valid would it be in a more marginal case?

    Only after that is there any issue about whether it would be applicable to extra-terrestrial objects or living things (a) as they themselves make “artifacts” like beaver dams or (b) as they are themselves seen as possible “artifacts”. But if the methodology were established regarding human artifacts, one would have, surely, to justify its inapplicability elsewhere, because “the appearance of design” would then have a mathematical, and testable, basis.

    But this thread needn’t go there at all.

  131. JG

    Okay this is indeed quite relevant to Mr Paley’s thought.

    The case I addresed is one that adds tot he test cases.

    It also shows that a fair amount of empirical investigation may be needed in a given case, you will note how I used rough first pass estimates, 64 control points per circuit, 64 half-points per circuit etc. I would think the case would need more precise inputs and actual experiment for more marginal cases, but remember the implication of the rough try is that just one well filed ring in a rock that fits a specification that is reasonable, would suffice to indicate design. And BTW, I left off the smoothness of the rock itself, if the rock has been shaped to a precise and identifiable curve that leads to a mesh of nodes that could then be seen as info rich.

    In short, even a smooth rectangular block, without writing on it, so long as this is not a crystal face, would be an indication of shaping to a specification. (VJT in fact examined such a case way back when.)

    KF

  132. Thanks Axel, and I really mean this as a very serious question for ID critics. It’s another question I like to ask them in addition to asking what they would accept as evidence in favor of ID.

    What does it mean to say that living things have the appearance of design?

    IOW, Dawkins believes in design detection.

    But he believes natural processes can create the appearance of design.

    And if you don’t know what it is, if you can’t actually quantify it, how can you say that evolutionary processes can generate it?

    The anti-ID case, as it stands, is incoherent.

  133. Gregory:

    Big-ID is quite obviously a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation first and foremost.

    So?

    I take it you likewise reject Fine-Tuning arguments in that they are also BIG ID (BOO!).

  134. Gregory:

    KF’s attempted universalisation of FSCO/I is the most direct example – we can observe human (small-d) designers in the designing processes of artefacts, thus thwarting his universalistic FSCO/I claims.

    That’s why it’s just an inference.

    And there are numerous items believed to be artifacts that we have never directly observed anyone making, and yet we still infer design. How so?

  135. Mung @133:

    Excellent point.

  136. O.k. so, a universalistic FSCO/I ‘inference’ by a blogger, non-academic, that dare not be quantified. Wow!? And you think serious scientists should wake up and pay attention to such an ‘inferential’ ideology?

    Notice that KF avoided giving an answer to my simple p.s. question: what’s the metric, just numbers please? KF simply cannot now quantify the hypothetical ‘FSCO/I’ of 1), 2) or 3) in my question above. And he will not ever in his lifetime.

    Yes, obviously I see that “a[n] NFL team is a highly complex…system.” But that has *nothing* to do with IDM Big-ID theory. Natural scientists predominantly don’t study NFL teams (unless you count physiotherapy as a ‘naturalistic science’)! Folks, why doesn’t KF understand this? Direct answer: conflation, as KN rightly identifies it above.

    Can Timaeus step-in and educate KF on this topic? Will he? Probably not because of ‘movement’ loyalties.

    “Obviously, once something has been classified as an artifact, it’s analytically true, or “true by definition,” that it was made by some intelligent being. So the inference from artifact to artificer is vacuously true.” – Kantian Naturalist (#4)

    W.J. Murray’s response to me displays one of many reasons why IDM/Big-ID rubs most people the wrong way. First, I am not an atheist. Second, I didn’t say “ID is a religious conspiracy.” W.J. Murray, however, seems to think its o.k. to put words in peoples’ mouths and to believe that is ethical. Why?

    His “I know that intelligent design as humans employ it…” is so contrary to Big-ID theory (which is oriented towards OoL, OoBI and ‘human origins’) that no-one here at UD will likely pick up on it. It is simply too obvious, like the nose on one’s face. As said above: “There simply is no Big-ID theory of human-made things!”

    Human beings don’t ‘employ intelligent design.’ We breath, think, dance, drink, eat, write, walk, work, speak, etc. There is ZERO need to subsume all of that under a so-called small-id THEORY of ‘intelligent design.’ It really doesn’t seem that W.J. Murray understands what a scholarly/scientific ‘theory’ actually is and what kind of paradigm shift Big-ID theory is not or even might not be…because of his dogmatic commitment to speaking in the conflated concept duo small/Big-id/ID.

    Organisms and artefacts are by some people at UD both ‘designed’ and ‘Designed’ because – well, just because they are and must be – darn it all, anyone who is not “ignorant, stupid or insane” *should* recognise this. Right? Only idiots could possibly reject W.J. Murray’s “simple argument for ID.”

    Well, that is, except for the vast majority of reasonable and faithful Abrahamic monotheists who reject Big-ID theory for its ‘natural scientism.’ They all know that there is no Big-ID theory of human-made things, that FSCO/I has less than no reputation or relevance in human-social sciences, and that fantasies aside, no scholar worth his or her salt would back Big-ID theory as a quantification metric regarding human-made things. Big-ID theory is simply an imbalanced, incomplete and insufficient attempt to overturn naturalism and materialism in 21st c. American society.

    Axel in #129 perhaps displays this attitude best: “Indeed, atheism, itself, now has zero scientific credential, the case for theism, and now Christianity being, effectively irrefutable.”

    Case closed in Big-ID’s favour. Christians win! Atheists lose. Don’t doubt it anyone reading a single letter of thought or unthought-out text at UD. Long live Big-ID theory!

  137. ‘But he believes natural processes can create the appearance of design.

    And if you don’t know what it is, if you can’t actually quantify it, how can you say that evolutionary processes can generate it?

    The anti-ID case, as it stands, is incoherent.’

    —-

    What a meticulously probing, devious, and from a UDer’s viewpoint, nasty, mind you have, esteemed Mung; holding Dawkins’ feet to the fire, like that…!

  138. Gregory, how about this for Intelligent Design? And a universally personal design with regard to mankind, to boot.

    Physical light either on its own initiative, or via an agency (which, for fear of causing ‘alarm and despondency’ in the High Temple of Scientism, shall remain nameless) unfailingly tracks all mobile members of the human race, to check which of the latter are threatening to move in the same direction as itself, at a constant speed.

    Having verified – a ceaseless ongoing process – which individuals threaten to do so, Mr Physical Light or its agency unfailingly ensures that whatever the speed said individuals are travelling at, Mr Physical Light reaches each one of them at the one constant speed, irrespective of their own, multifarious, constant speeds of travel.

    Could you please explain to us, Greg, how such remarkable omniscience, (for, surely, something approaching that is required) and evidently commensurate power, does not irrefutably require an intelligent design, purpose, plan, agenda, on the part of Mr Physical Light or his agency?

  139. ‘What a meticulously probing, devious,.. nasty mind….’

    I missed out ‘pertinacious’, Mung.

  140. Surreal, isn’t it, Mung? Dawkins forswearing his scientism for the other extreme, the most arcane mystagogy, about which, seemingly, no man dare speak.

    Keep your steenkin’ appearance of design! Who needs an empirical ‘take’ in scientific investigations!

  141. mung @ 133

    What does it mean to say that living things have the appearance of design?

    I wish I could search better, but, at some point, the ability of the search function on this site failed me. But, at some time years ago, I posted here that Dawkins somehow got a free pass by saying that life appears designed, without ever having to rigorously define design, and that he then gets mileage against ID proponents by saying they can’t rigorously define an approach to design detection.

  142. Gregory: Pardon, but namecalling and strawmannising do not answer to an issue on the merits. It should be beneath your dignity to resort to such tactics, please do better next time. Not to mention, I have in fact showed just how the FSCO/I approach can be quantified, through a live example. KF

  143. found it:

    es58June 21, 2007 at 9:30 am
    Dawkins is quoted as saying that design in living things is an illusion. Does this not imply that he maintains:
    -) there is a rigorous definition for design
    -) there is a way to detect design

    if not, how can he know it’s an illusion, if yes, where is his definition and method
    if neither, what’s he talking about?

  144. F/N: It should be plain that — as is stated in post 115 ins o many words: “Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold.” — the metric is explicitly in bits, beyond a threshold of complexity (and as assessed by a criterion of specificty or I*S = 0), as stated. Information is normally measured in bits, based on Hartley’s log measure or extensions to that over the past 80-odd years. KF

  145. 146

    Human beings don’t ‘employ intelligent design.’

    Well, that sentiment does help explain certain posts.

  146. #146 demonstrates how W.J. Murray has little understanding of what a supposedly ‘scientific theory’ actually is.

    Human beings create, build, make, dream, interpret, intuit, imagine, innovate, elaborate, etc. To ‘reduce’ *all* of those things into a narrow small-id ‘intelligent design’ THEORY is of course a joke.

    Worse, to elevate small-id into Big-ID via univocal predication is quite unexcusable.

    Yet here is what W.J. Murray saying as if people should conflate in unison with him from organisms to artefacts: “I know that intelligent design as [because] humans employ it…”

    That’s surely not a ‘natural scientific’ statement. Far too many people rational and intelligent would not accept such presumptuous language outside of a narrow worldview community.

  147. It’s intuitive, es58. Not ‘counter-intuitive, this time. But just as barmy, unless he can develop an empirical rationale. But he ‘feels it in his water’, anyway, so that’s OK.

  148. Sorry, folks, I meant to quote es58′s #144:

    ‘if not, how can he know it’s an illusion, if yes, where is his definition and method
    if neither, what’s he talking about?’

    It’s intuitive, es58. Not ‘counter-intuitive, this time. But just as barmy, unless he can develop an empirical rationale. But he ‘feels it in his water’, anyway, so that’s OK.

  149. 150

    #119

    ;)

  150. Gregory @ 147

    Please explain, clearly, the precise line between big ID and small ID, and exactly how we’ll know it when we see it.

    If aliens designed the life on this planet (as Dawkins specifically stated it in the movie “Expelled: Not Intelligence Allowed”, how would we know?

    Thanks

  151. Gregory @118

    Inasmuch as you have never defined big ID small ID in a coherent and comprehensive way, I think you should dispense with those terms until you can explain what you mean when you use those expressions.

    On one occasion, you wrote this:

    For me and Gingerich and others, the term ‘small-id’ refers to the idea that “God-did-it,” but that we don’t know exactly how and ‘science-alone’ cannot prove it one way or another. This is accepted by a vast majority of TEers and ECers. Indeed, it is the basic Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Baha’i view of the Creation of the Universe.

    Well, excuse me but that definition tells me almost nothing about small ID.

    Is it faith based? Does it move forward from cause to effect, that is, does it ASSUME something about God and then interpret nature in that context?

    OR

    Is it reason based? Does it move backward from effect to cause, that is, does it OBSERVE something interesting in nature and theorize how that might have come to be?

    Each approach has a pedigree that goes back over two thousand years. We notice the “forward” approach in Tertullian, Augustine, Bonaventure, and Anselm. Augustine described it best with the phrase, “faith seeking understanding.” With these thinkers, the investigation was faith-based. By contrast, we discover the “backward” orientation in Aristotle, Aquinas, and Paley. Aristotle’s argument, which begins with “motion in nature” and reasons BACK to a “prime mover” — i.e. from effect to its “best” causal explanation — is obviously empirically based.

    So, I ask you a very simple question. Which of these two formulations are you referring to when you use the term small ID? If you are referring to the faith-based approach, why do you ignore the reason-based approach? Or, if you are referring to both approaches, why do you try to integrate two opposite world views as if they belonged in the same category?

    BIG ID

    Big-ID otoh refers to Discovery Institute as heart of a Movement as well as the view that ‘design/Design’ can be (and even has been!) proven by natural scientific methods, which is promoted by the intelligent design/Intelligent Design movement (or community). Here one has to use both not-capitalized and capitalized forms of id/ID because the IDM or Big-ID community uses both variants whenever they believe it suits them.

    So, is this category to include both the “movement” and the “methodology?” If so, then how do we separate motives from methods? Or, is the definition calculated to conflate motive mongering with scientific inferences so that the former will always be reduced to the latter?

    It is time for you to define your terms. This is, after all, the very first condition for engaging in a rational dialogue. If you are going to write 1000+ word posts about small ID and Big ID, you really ought to know what you mean when you use those terms.

  152. #143 KF = sheer exaggeration, pseudo-scientism. I’m not namecalling or ‘strawmannising,’ but speaking truth to falsely held beliefs. Categories have value for communicative purposes and the distinction between small-id and Big-ID theory is a valid one, supported and even initiated by Timaeus here at UD.

    Because many of you UD-IDists seem to trust ‘Timaeus’ about Big-ID because he is a thinker who happens to be a PhD-holding IDist, perhaps you should think again about whether distinguishing small-id from Big-ID makes an important distinction in ‘science, philosophy, theology/worldview discourse’ or not. Gingerich and the vast majority of Abrahamic believers reject Big-ID but support small-id, though they don’t feel any compulsion to call it small-id. They believe “God created the heavens and the earth.”

    Big-IDists want to wrestle with Darwin and Dawkins on this stage to seemingly prove they are not simply empty evangelical minds and hearts in the 21st century.

    That most people at UD can’t even commit themselves to admiting that Big-ID *is* properly a ‘science, philosophy, theology/worldview’ discourse by itself speaks VOLUMES.

    “I have in fact showed just how the FSCO/I approach can be quantified” – KF

    Hogwash. All that’s been supposed is pseudo-quantification without displaying actual numbers regarding human-made things. I asked a very simple question in #118. KF has not yet made a serious attempt to quantify his small-id/Big-ID theory with numbers. What are the numerical values/probabilities of 1), 2) and 3)? KairosFocus conveniently dodged a simple quantifiable answer in 121, 122 & 124. How long will we wait to hear his speculation?

    Numbers only please, what’s the FSCO/I of 1), 2) or 3) above? I asked very specifically and KF should be able to understand my direct question, if he expects to be taken seriously. Somehow, I don’t think he expects to be taken seriously by legitimate scholars. He is not at a qualified scientific level himself and thus is claiming proofs that he cannot actually deliver. His bluff is easily called!

    At least he could tell me that he’s working on it, rather than just proudly positing that his quantification of human-made things (both origins and processes) is what he fantasises Big-ID theory is actually small-d ‘designed’ to address. Note to the wise and informed: it isn’t.

    As mentioned above, Timaeus (from what he has already written) is quite easily able to refute W.J. Murray’s human-made small-id as if it qualifies as non-human-made Big-ID at UD, that is, if Timaeus has intellectual integrity to educate his fellow IDists. If he doesn’t, then that’s the reality of two-faced (Wedge-like) life in the IDM. Timaeus has already said: “I agree that “we can infer that this *artifact* is designed” is circular.” How much further will he go?

    IDists here at UD seem to be only able to accept truths if they are spoken by other ideological IDists. So let us await further clarification from Timaeus, who has already conceded that he ‘isn’t dogmatic’ about whether or not Big-ID qualifies as ‘scientific’ or not.

  153. 154

    Gregory said:

    Human beings create, build, make, dream, interpret, intuit, imagine, innovate, elaborate, etc. To ‘reduce’ *all* of those things into a narrow small-id ‘intelligent design’ THEORY is of course a joke.

    Perhaps a better course of action in the future is to simply ask someone what they mean when they use a term.

    When I use the term “ID”, I’m referring to (as it says in the New World Encyclopedia):

    ID focuses on just those sorts of complex patterns that in human experience are produced by a mind that conceives and executes a plan.

    I have a mind that conceives and executes plans – matching means towards an end. That is what I mean by ID, and is the root of ID theory (not dreams, intuition, elaborations, etc.) This is the obvious difference I refer to when I compare battleships and piles of rocks; this is what I am referring to when I talk about quantifying the differential. Not dreams, aspirations and elaborations, but the specific capacity of a mind to match means to end and execute a plan towards achieving that goal.

    Please note that your view of “Big ID” vs “Little ID” is not listed in the New World Encyclopedia online. Since I’m the one that made the argument in the O.P., it’s how I define ID that is relevant to my argument, not how you happen to define it.

  154. “you have never defined big ID small ID in a coherent and comprehensive way” – StephenB

    Eat my links, StephenB. I did this months ago. Obviously you’re either not paying attention or too lazy to read. Go there to offer your opposition, if you have something valid to share. UD seems to be too comfortable a site for IDists to express their actual thoughts when directly challenged.

    Here

    Come back when you’ve digested something outside of Big-ID fantasy land, otherwise your hype is nothing more than noise.

    Hint: your language choice of “small ID” makes no sense. ‘small’ means ‘non-capitalised,’ which requires ‘id’ not ‘ID.’ You capitalise “I” and “D” and call it “small,” which makes no sense. Why?

    Are you hearing this legitimate distinction (Gingerich and many others) or purposely ignoring it in order to defend the fantastic ideology of IDism?

    To your clear and direct question to me, I am both a forward thinker and a backward thinker. I am a scholar that studies human-made things, which eclipse the minimal claims of small-id ‘intelligent design.’ Big-ID theory, according to Stephen C. Meyer who is a backward OoL-oriented thinker, is *only* a ‘historical science’ (which is highly questionable as even a ‘science’ at all). What kind of ‘science’ do people here posit is Big-ID theory *other* than a historical one?

    “how do we separate motives from methods?” – StephenB

    Yes, StephenB, seemingly orthodox Catholic Big-ID proponent, you should by now be ready to step to the plate and offer an answer to this. I’m already well-ahead of you, even as an academic to your amateurism. And everyone I’ve met in the IDM (including most ID-leaders from Dembski to Meyer to Wells to Nelson) refuses point-blank to directly answer this question. They are dehumanising as a bunch, non-humanitarians as they are by trade and background. (Yet an unsuprising hint, I’m not going to answer your question here on your own ideological turf, as if I owe anything to the Big-ID/IDM in forming my non-Big-ID views.)

    Yes, “It is time for you to define your terms,” StephenB, W.J. Murray, with the help of pseudo-’Timaeus,’ and not to depend on someone outside of the IDM like myself, who purposefully, rationally and faithfully rejects Big-ID natural scientism to speak directly to this weakness in Big-ID theory.

    Will you or anyone at UD answer this call?

  155. 156

    Honestly, Gregory, I have no idea what you mean by “Big-ID” other than perhaps whether or not the ID as demonstrated and employed by humans can be successfully extrapolated into an arbiting differential towards discerning (as “best explanation”) whether or not biological phenomena or “fine tuning” constants would meet the criteria for having been intelligently designed.

    If I need to be disabused of some erroneous notion about ID, and you think Timaeus is the fellow to do it I heartily encourage him to do so. I’m always anxious to be corrected of any faulty assumptions and reasoning.

  156. 157

    Okay, I just read the “Big ID vs Small ID” blog

  157. 158

    I just read the your linked article about “big ID and little ID”.

    My argument obviously has nothing to do with “Big ID” as that article defines it.

  158. ‘Axel in #129 perhaps displays this attitude best: “Indeed, atheism, itself, now has zero scientific credential, the case for theism, and now Christianity being, effectively irrefutable.”

    Case closed in Big-ID’s favour. Christians win! Atheists lose. Don’t doubt it anyone reading a single letter of thought or unthought-out text at UD. Long live Big-ID theory!’

    Well, you know, Gregory, there is a genuine poignancy about your lament, the reason for which I can’t quite put my finger on. Unless it’s that you fear being specific about any of the abundance of scientific evidence for theism which BA77, alone, now almost routinely posts, in the vain hope that maybe just one atheist might post saying, ‘Gee, I didn’t realise PHYSICS has taken us to this point. Wow! Wow! I mean I can’t argue with such an abundance of UNDISPUTED, empirical findings by physicists. It doesn’t take much to join the dots’; instead of ‘SPAM! SPAM! All that tired, old stuff!’ Though I haven’t heard that for a while.

    But you can make a start, Greg. You can set the ball rolling, by viewing these YouTube video clips of the latest findings relating to the Shroud of Turin, and via a link, the Sudarium of Oviedo.:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_voTiCTqv4Q

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcKTkjWkqEU

    It seems to me that there are only two possibilities:

    a) It is genuine and all points to the Resurrection of Christ, without any kind of competing thesis however anecdotal having been advanced (I don’t think Osiris is a viable alternative). And as if the direct physical evidence were not enough, the Shroud and the Sudarium, matching perfectly, are mutually corroborative;

    b) It is all a hoax perpetrated by a cabal of fraudulent scientists (ironical in view of the evidence that there was indeed such a conspiracy to conceal and misrepresent the evidence for the authenticity of the Shroud.)

  159. @ #156

    Check the link in #155 to educate yourself about my views of ‘small-id’ vs. ‘Big-ID,’ and those of Gingerich and other Christians who accept limited evolutionary theories.

    Even so, you still have not adopted the proper punctuation, so it is obvious that you don’t recognise the importance of the distinction.

    Big-ID is unequivocally *not* something employed by humans. Contra this clear and effective realisation, Big-ID is a theory promoted by Johnson, Thaxton, Meyer, Dembski, Wells, Nelson, et. al. without a single ‘heroic-genius’ innovator. It regurgitates on analogies with human-made things.

    Fine-tuning is a separate issue, which many small-id believers accept. One needn’t ‘believe’ in Big-ID to accept fine-tuning. That’s actually quite an important point.

    Yes, it seems there are some erroneous notions about Big-ID that you need to be disabused from. As a graduate of the DI’s summer program of Big-ID and as a post-Big-IDist, there is something that perhaps you have still to learn, which I already understand quite clearly. No hiding anymore out of fear of being ‘expelled.’

    I am glad to hear that you are open “to be corrected of any faulty assumptions and reasoning.” (But I expect Timaeus to waffle as a pseudo-IDM proponent, rhetoric and sophistry being his common trade, self-admittedly marginal IDist because of his views, who actually doesn’t ‘dogmatically’ advocate Big-ID as a natural scientific proof.) Maybe you will come to realise that your statement “I know that intelligent design as humans employ it” makes little sense since “There simply is no Big-ID theory of human-made things.”

  160. Don’t find an excuse to shirk it, Greg.

  161. Gregory’s blog:

    This house holds that Big-ID is a category error that is trying to force ‘design’ by ‘intelligence’ into fields of study in which it does not properly belong, i.e. biology and genetics.

    Why doesn’t Big-ID properly belong in biology and genetics? It is obvious that biology and genetics were Intelligently Designed. So to exclude Big-ID from those fields would be the category error.

    BTW Gregory, ID (BIG or small) has nothing to do with God/ the divine.

  162. Understood, your pseudo-scientific religious apologetics in #159, Axel. (Goodness, friend, I was very recently visiting the Holy Sepulchre and you talk about the Shroud and ‘direct physical evidence’!!!!!)

    “scientific evidence for theism” – Axel

    Yes, that is part of the meaning of Big-ID. Bravo!

    Oops, but IDists claim that Big-ID theory is *only natural science* and that it provides no “scientific evidence for theism.” My position for almost a decade has been that “Big-ID is quite obviously a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation first and foremost.” It seems that you agree with me, even if you won’t openly say it at UD.

    So go have a Big-ID-MMA battle for yourselves and come back when there’s a winner. You’re not ranked high enough for most people to pay attention so far. Just give us the results when they’re ready, o.k.?

    “Gregory, there is a genuine poignancy about your lament” – Axel

    Thank goodness someone in America seems to understand something!

  163. Gregory

    regarding the quote

    This house holds that Big-ID is a category error that is trying to force ‘design’ by ‘intelligence’ into fields of study in which it does not properly belong, i.e. biology and genetics.

    if you agree with this, then, do you agree that no
    biotech company could patent/copyright anything they develop in a genome, and could not challenge anyone in court who uses their designs?

  164. Gregory wrote:

    ‘ Then Timaeus might want to actually face KN’s honest and insightful observation regarding Big-ID: “My chief complaint against design theory, given what I know of it, is that it collapses the organism/artifact distinction.” ‘

    But of course, if he is reading my discussion with KN carefully, instead of superficially skimming it, he will know that I did in fact “face” KN’s observation:

    [From 100 above] “I agree that the next step — the crucial step — the step that moves from television sets on Mars to complex organic systems — is debatable. And it doesn’t bother me when when TEs or atheists or others (sensible “neutrals” like yourself) point out the dissimilarities between organic systems and artificial ones, and raise the question whether the inference can be straightforwardly applied. That’s a reasonable caution, the sort of caution that we see in any good philosopher. (If only all the bloggers and commenters and popular book-writers wrote with your calm and sobriety about these things!)

    “At the same time, the similarities between organic systems and artificial ones are strong as well …” [See the rest of 100 for details]

    How is such a response “failing to face” KN’s observation? Gregory can disagree with my further arguments, but he cannot accuse me failing to face anything. In fact, I have consistently praised KN here, and treated him as a fresh voice and the kind of critic that ID needs. I’m not repelling him, but inviting him to continue in his rigorous testing of ID claims. If all ID critics had been like KN from the beginning, the history of the culture wars over ID would be quite different; but instead, we got partisan hacks like Miller, Scott, Collins, Giberson, Coyne, Myers, Moran, Dawkins etc.

    As for the big-ID vs. small-id distinction, I think we are all weary of it. Months (or was it years?) ago, I somewhere granted something to the effect that big-ID referred to official statements of Discovery etc., and small-id referred to a general affirmation of design. I didn’t mean the distinction as anything grand or eternal, but just as a working distinction in a particular conversation. But Gregory keeps trying to use the distinction as some sort of official distinction that I and all ID proponents are bound by in the future. That’s ridiculous. Gregory is failing to distinguish between what one says in tentative and exploratory conversation and what one publishes in an academic setting; statements are made with differing degrees of care and precision. And in any case, no one here on UD is bound to accept any distinction I made months or years ago. I couldn’t enforce the distinction Gregory is talking about even if I wanted to.

    I wish he would give it a rest. Nobody wants to talk about big versus small ID/id here. What people want to talk about is whether intelligent design in nature is detectable. Gregory has already repeatedly indicated that he has no interest in that question, that he just accepts design on faith (the typical TE position), and that he wants to talk about human designs and social science and Marshall McLuhan and Discovery’s religious motivations and about anything other than the writings and arguments of Behe, Meyer, Dembski etc. on biology, biochemistry, mathematics, and design detection. So the question is why he keeps posting here, when he knows that everyone here wants to have a conversation that he isn’t interested in. Does he actually think he is going to get everyone here to stop talking about the origin of life, CSI, random mutations, probability and information theory, etc.? If not, then what is his goal? To establish that everyone here is badly confused for even being interested in such questions? If so, should we, in turn, start haunting social science sites and tell all the participants there that they are badly confused for even being interested in social scientific questions, and that they should really be talking about design in nature? That would be a fair response, wouldn’t it?

    Gregory’s goals in these discussions remain opaque. However, I’ve already suggested a way that he could be very useful to all of us here, and gain our rapt attention. He is apparently the only person regularly posting here who has attended a Discovery summer session. He has referred to the experience on several occasions. It would be very useful for all of us to have a blow-by-blow description (Day 1, Day 2, etc.) of his experience there: what he studied, what books he read, who the teachers were, what the teaching format was, who his fellow-students were (and what they are doing now — did some of them go on to become famous ID proponents, or scientists, or writers?), etc. And what he thought were the strengths and weaknesses of the program, and what suggestions he has for its improvement. I suspect that I wouldn’t be the only one here that would be glad to have such an account. If he prefers, he could publish it on a site of his own, and link to it here. It would be a real service to the discussion here, because it would be a presentation of firsthand personal experience that would be otherwise inaccessible to us.

  165. @ #154
    “Big ID” vs “Little ID” – W.J. Murray

    Get with the program, overcome your antiquation. Be a friend and seek knowledge instead of embracing ignorance.

    Properly: Big-ID vs. small-id or Upper-Case ID vs. lower-case id.

    If you don’t recognise a difference of terms, then that is a problem.

    The statement “I have a mind” differs from “God has a Mind.” Do you or do you not agree? Read theologically: univocal predication.

    I’m aware of the worldview-bias of the New World Encyclop(a)edia. What are you ready to admit about Big-ID theory?

  166. Gregory:

    Thanks for the laughs! Conspiracies and plots all around . . . We’d better all watch out for that nefarious Big-ID! :)

  167. Upright BiPed @ 150:

    #119

    dream on.

  168. You’re welcome for the laughs, Eric Anderson!

    No conspiracies here, just the most rigorous study of the IDM that is yet available in English language, including insider personal interviews with DI-IDM leaders.

    Go on being an IDist, an ideologue, a propagandist for IDism, if you feel that’s your protestant calling.

    You promote ‘Big-ID’ as an already religious believer in supernatural ‘Intelligent Design.’ No shame in admitting that, right?

  169. Ohh, but wait folks, Big-ID has *nothing* to do with human beings. It’s supposed to be about ‘transcendent Designers’ and not mundane ‘designers’ (Dembski 1999).

    So Eric in his heart of hearts likely rejects W.J. Murray’s OP claim too. But he simply won’t publically reject it because he supports Big-ID ideology and doesn’t respect small-id traditional theology.

    Instead, he will laugh insecurely at my logical claim that Big-ID theory is actually (and easily shown to be) scientistic, while ‘small-id’ responsibly suppports the orthodox Abrahamic religious traditions.

    Is there really nothing heterodox about Eric Anderson’s position? Will he contort traditional ‘theism’ to adopt an IDist label for himself? Or does he claim, like many IDists, that Big-ID theory has *nothing* to do with theology?

  170. 171

    Gregory: [Big ID] regurgitates on analogies with human-made things.

    This is refuted by physical evidence – which you ignore for that very reason that you cannot refute it.

    Gregory: There simply is no Big-ID theory of human-made things.”

    Humans are semiotic beings; sensory input and the exchange of information play a supreme role in virtually all human activities. This phenomena enatils specific material conditions. These material conditions tie the observation of human discourse to a larger set of semiotic observations, which include the origin of living systems.

    To the extent that design requires a “theory of human-made things”, your claim is simply and demonstrably false. If you’d like to attack this counterclaim, I will provide you my position in a single paragraph, and you can take the opportunity to show it to be false:

    In a material universe, it is not possible to transfer any form of recorded information into a material effect without using an arrangement of matter (or energy) as a medium. If that is true, then other material necessities must logically follow. Firstly, such a medium must operate to evoke a material effect within a system capable of producing that effect. Universal observation and logical necessity demonstrate this to be true. Secondly, if a medium contains information as a consequence of its arrangement, then that arrangement must be materially arbitrary to the effect it evokes. Again, universal observation and logical necessity demonstrate this to be true. And thirdly, if an arrangement of matter requires a system to produce an effect that it is materially arbitrary to, then that system must contain a second arrangement of matter to establish the otherwise non-existent relationship between the medium and its effect. Once again, universal observation and logical necessity demonstrate this to be true. If each of these things are true, then in order to transfer any form of recorded information, the process fundamentally requires two arrangements of matter, each with a materially arbitrary quality, operating as an irreducible core within a system. And because Darwinian evolution requires the transfer and translation of information in order to exist itself, it cannot be the source of the system. Given these observations, a mechanism capable of establishing this semiotic state is necessary prior to the onset of information-based organization, as well as Darwinian evolution.

  171. Gregory

    Are you hearing this legitimate distinction (Gingerich and many others) or purposely ignoring it in order to defend the fantastic ideology of IDism?

    I am trying to help you to understand that your distinction (and Gingerich’s distinction) has not been well thought out.

    To your clear and direct question to me, I am both a forward thinker and a backward thinker.

    I didn’t ask you what “you” were. I asked you to define small id. Does it include the traditional reason-based approaches that INFER a designer from the patterns in nature as well as the traditional faith-based arguments that ASSUME a designer and then explain nature on that basis? If it is only the latter, why do you leave out the former. If it is both, why do you refer to both as small id as if these two opposite approaches belong in the same category? It’s really a very simple question.

    [“how do we separate motives from methods?” – StephenB

    Yes, StephenB, seemingly orthodox Catholic Big-ID proponent, you should by now be ready to step to the plate and offer an answer to this. I’m already well-ahead of you, even as an academic to your amateurism.

    If you are well ahead of me, then why are you running away from my questions? Does small id recognize both the forward and backward approach to “God did it?” Does Big ID make the distinction between Big ID’s motives and Big ID’s methods?

    And everyone I’ve met in the IDM (including most ID-leaders from Dembski to Meyer to Wells to Nelson) refuses point-blank to directly answer this question.

    What question would that be? If all else fails, try a simple interrogative sentence. A formulation like that works very well when you are trying to elicit a meaningful response.

    (Yet an unsuprising hint, I’m not going to answer your question here on your own ideological turf, as if I owe anything to the Big-ID/IDM in forming my non-Big-ID views.)

    This does not surprise me. At the moment of truth, you fold like a lawn chair. In spite of your endless blustering and self promotion, you cannot provide a reasonable answer to a reasonable question.

    Yes, “It is time for you to define your terms,” StephenB, W.J. Murray, with the help of pseudo-’Timaeus,’ and not to depend on someone outside of the IDM like myself, who purposefully, rationally and faithfully rejects Big-ID natural scientism to speak directly to this weakness in Big-ID theory.

    ID proponents are happy to respond to any challenge you might care to throw their way. Just gather up those disparate and disorganized ideas in your head and narrow them down to the point where you can formulate an intelligent and well-articulated question. Do you think you can do it? Practice makes perfect.

    Will you or anyone at UD answer this call?

    Here we go again. What call would that be?

  172. G: Pardon me but onlookers can see for themselves what is going on, not only including what I pointed out but your triumphalistic assertion that I dodged you on giving units of info, when the units were right there from 115, apart from log_2 metrics being in bits being absolutely standard praxis that builds on not even Shannon but Hartley. I don’t need to get into more personalities so I will simply point out on fair comment that you have gone ballistic since I took you up directly by using the information, specificity and complexity approach to show how FSCO/I applies to a live case and how it can quantify implicit info in an organised entity. Please pause, take a time out to do some rethinking on the merits, and then act on that. KF

  173. 174

    #166:

    Gregory,

    As far as I can tell – and I most certainly can be wrong about this – you are saying that Big ID, as the well-known proponents advocate, is about classifying a supernatural god as a scientific explanation for … well … everything, I guess, and pushing that philosophy, and what it entails into the culture via academia, science, and media like UD.

    Also as far as I can tell, you consider me some kind of witting or unwitting accomplice to the propagandizing of this agenda, whereby I make small-ID arguments (that might be good in a rhetorical sense, but lack any substance) that only appear to be supportive examples of Big ID, but which really have nothing to do with Big ID other than contributing to the agenda.

    IOW, I’m some sort of dupe, or useful idiot (if I’m not aware that what I’m doing is supporting the Big ID agenda). Also, if I’m correct, in your view Timaeus and others know this, but are just happily allowing people like me to, in my ignorance, promote the cause.

    So, is that close?

  174. ‘Understood, your pseudo-scientific religious apologetics in #159, Axel.’

    Greg, there is nothing pseudo-scientific about the findings of a team of eminent scientists, including at least one molecular physicist, involved in the latest research (at that time) on the Holy Shroud of Turin. Yet rather than address the empirical specifics they lay out for us, you apprise us of your astonishingly irrelevant tourist experience in the Holy Land..!

    ‘Yes, that is part of the meaning of Big-ID. Bravo!

    Oops, but IDists claim that Big-ID theory is *only natural science* and that it provides no “scientific evidence for theism.” My position for almost a decade has been that “Big-ID is quite obviously a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation first and foremost.” It seems that you agree with me, even if you won’t openly say it at UD.’

    Sorry to disappoint you again, Greg, but, although for different reasons than you imply, perhaps I shouldn’t be posting to this thread, as I’m not interested in adhering to a classification such as, Big ID, or small ID. Personally, I don’t give tuppence about such classifications, as I speak from what I know, not from what I think or what I might gain me marks for in an examination. So, in that sense you could say that I am a fundamentalist.

    My interest is wholly religious, but it tickles me pink that these eminent scientists have adduced unassailable, empirical evidence of just such an event horizon as the Resurrection would have been.

    ‘You’re not ranked high enough for most people to pay attention so far. Just give us the results when they’re ready, o.k.?’

    Excellent. The Dawkins Defence! I feel very flattered. Well, which do you want me to come backs as: a bishop or theologian, perhaps? Or a PhD biologist or PhD physicist? Or a professor in a field you deem relevant, perhaps?

    But I beg you, if I am too low on the pecking order (which I understand), please, rebut at least one of the more seemingly-epochal findings of those scientists, to another, actually academically-qualified, ID poster on here. Find some excuse to smuggle it in. Or maybe BA will get round to trying to pin you down on your opinion concerning the empirical evidence for the Resurrection presented by the Holy Shroud of Turin.

    ‘“Gregory, there is a genuine poignancy about your lament” – Axel

    Thank goodness someone in America seems to understand something!’

    Truth to tell, Greg, I don’t like to see a grown man downhearted because he can’t address specifics. For some reason, although your tone was quite measured and polite, I was reminded of Harry Enfield’s perpetually-disaffected teenager, Kevin – perhaps in one of his more reflective moments.

    Anyway, best wishes to you from Bonny Scotland, Greg. (Consistent to the last, eh?) No. Not Nova Scotia.

  175. 176
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: Timaeus @ 100

    I agree with you in two major respect: “ID is not science” is weak tea, and the criteria of justification are very different in formal and informal domains of inquiry. In formal domains of inquiry, we can have proofs (or ‘demonstrations’); in informal domains, we must settle for less-than-deductive justifications. In fact, I think that very little can be settled deductively, and none that is of genuine existential significance.

    However, I do think that we need more than just inference-to-the-best-explanation to have a good scientific theory. Inference-to-the-best-explanation, as I understand it, is what Peirce called “abduction”, or what we might also call “positing”: we posit the existence of some unobserved X in order to explain observed regularities described in terms of y, z, g.

    But we need to also figure out how to test for x, and that means supplementing abduction with deduction and induction. So we have to ask, “if x were the case, what would have to be case? what would follow? and what unobserved but observable regularities can we look for?” Then we look for them, and if we’re on the right track, we can form empirical generalizations (induction) which bolster our confidence in our initial supposition.

    In other words, the inferences-to-the-best-explanation need to be empirically confirmable or testable. The further science drifts away from that standard, the more it approaches sheer metaphysical speculation — as we saw happen in high-energy particle physics in the second half of the 20th century.

    But yeah, no empirical science can yield any certainty, only varying degrees of probable knowledge. But eh, who needs certainty, anyway?

  176. Mr. Murray:

    I’ll let Gregory comment on his own meaning, but regardless of what Gregory thinks that I think, I do *not* think that you are a dupe.

  177. The problem, WJM, is that you capitalized “Intelligent Design” in the title of the OP.

  178. KN:

    I agree with you about testability, and about the speculative excesses of modern physics (and not just particle physics but also cosmology).

    There are two questions here: (a) whether ID inferences are legitimate; (b) whether, even if legitimate, they can be the basis of a dynamic scientific enterprise, or merely sit as dead “facts” that point to nothing beyond themselves.

    You and I now seem to agree that in certain cases, e.g., a contraption found on Mars, design inferences can be legitimate. But you are wondering whether the mere fact that “this was designed, not the product of chance” can be the basis of much of a science. That is a fair criticism.

    I would argue that ID did not have, at first, much of a scientific program. All it had was Paleyan-type arguments updated by Behe and Dembski, that the flagellum or some other thing was designed. But that does not yield any predictability.

    I think that ID is now moving beyond that point. If we ask, for example, what would the comparative predictions be for random mutations versus design, regarding “junk DNA,” we see that a design perspective would bid investigators to experiment for yet-unknown uses of apparent genomic “junk,” whereas a “random mutations” perspective would suggest that there would be lots of junk left over in the noncoding part of genome (which would be preserved because it was harmless, even though it did no good), and so long hours spent searching for uses would likely be profitless. Now, empirical evidence indicates that a much larger proportion of the “junk” than anyone imagined serves (noncoding but) important functions in the life of the organism. So the design perspective is a clear winner on that prediction.

    Also, the Biologic Institute, set up by Discovery, publishes a peer-reviewed scientific journal featuring new research based on a design perspective. Its articles can be mostly read online.

    I am also told that information-theoretical perspectives are now becoming routine in some areas of biology; and even though the scientists employing these perspectives are generally not ID theorists, the utility of such perspectives is again something would be predicted by ID.

    I’m not saying that ID has as yet generated any huge body of scientific literature, but it is making a start. And given that it has been heresy in the biological world to even entertain design-like language until very recently (when the success of information theory in other fields has forced hidebound, gray-haired population geneticists to grudgingly allow information theory inside their sacred compound), I think it’s too soon to dismiss what ID perspectives may accomplish.

    I know this answer isn’t fully satisfying, given that we are in early days, but I hope it isn’t evasive and does address your concern.

  179. Gregory:

    W.J. Murray, however, seems to think its o.k. to put words in peoples’ mouths and to believe that is ethical. Why?

    Not long ago you were putting words in the mouth of Stephen Meyer. Hypocrite much?

  180. Wouldn’t biomimetics be viewed as a ‘plus’ on the side of ID? Just wondering.

  181. Gregory:

    Fine-tuning is a separate issue, which many small-id believers accept. One needn’t ‘believe’ in Big-ID to accept fine-tuning.

    big l, big o, big l

    According to Gregory, Big ID is, by definition, about God’s purposes.

    b) Intelligent Design (often capitalized) as a claim that divine purpose can be discerned (at least partly) from scientific observation, & that the idea of design should be made part of scientific theories.”

    Leaving aside for now the questionable truth of the above assertion, if the fine-tuning argument isn’t about divine purpose, what is it about?

    …the basic problem with Big-ID: it claims ‘design in nature’ can be ‘scientifically proven’ whereas most people don’t agree.

    You forgot to capitalize the d in design.

    And here I thought the problem was that it was trying to sneak in God’s purposes.

  182. 183

    Timaeus,

    I was just trying to see if I understood the nature of Gregory’s position. BTW, I greatly enjoy your posts.

  183. Timaeus @ 179

    I think that ID is now moving beyond that point. If we ask, for example, what would the comparative predictions be for random mutations versus design, regarding “junk DNA,” we see that a design perspective would bid investigators to experiment for yet-unknown uses of apparent genomic “junk,” whereas a “random mutations” perspective would suggest that there would be lots of junk left over in the noncoding part of genome (which would be preserved because it was harmless, even though it did no good), and so long hours spent searching for uses would likely be profitless. Now, empirical evidence indicates that a much larger proportion of the “junk” than anyone imagined serves (noncoding but) important functions in the life of the organism. So the design perspective is a clear winner on that prediction.

    Actually, there has never, ever been consensus amongst mainstream scientists that junk DNA is mostly useless, or that time spent searching for its function would be profitless.

    Even before Ohno coined the term “junk DNA” in 1973, biologists were proposing numerous possible functions for newly discovered non-coding DNA — c.f. Bostock, C. (1971) “Repetitious DNA” Advances in Cell Biology 2: 153-223.

    Many, many more papers appeared over subsequent decades describing the expectation that much “junk” DNA actually has function e.g.

    1974 — E. Southern, “Eukaryotic DNA” in MTP International Review of Science, Biochemistry Series One, Volume 6, Biochemistry of Nucleic Acids, (1974) University Park Press, Baltimore. pp. 101 – 139

    1977 — D.M. Skinner, “Satellite DNAs” BioScience 27 (1977) pp. 790-796

    1980 — Orgel & Crick, Nature (284: 604-607), p. 606

    1982 — R. Lewin, “Repeated DNA still in search of a function” Science 217 (1982) pp. 621-623

    etc.

    Which is why, of course, mainstream scientists have continued for decades to look for function in “junk” DNA and, indeed, have found it.

    Cheers

  184. 185

    #184

    “The amount of DNA in organisms is more than is strictly necessary for building them: A large fraction of the DNA is never translated into protein. From the point of view of the individual organism this seems paradoxical. If the ‘purpose’ of DNA is to supervise the building of bodies, it is surprising to find a large quantity of DNA which does no such thing. Biologists are racking their brains trying to think what useful task this apparently surplus DNA is doing. But from the point of view of the selfish genes themselves, there is no paradox. The true ‘purpose’ of DNA is to survive, no more and no less. The simplest way to explain the surplus DNA is to suppose that it is a parasite, or at best a harmless but useless passenger, hitching a ride in the survival machines created by the other DNA.” Richard Dawkins, 1976, The Selfish Gene, p. 47

    That was 36 years ago. Have scientists proposed (generally among themselves) uses for junk DNA along the way? Sure, while they happily allowed prominent ideologues to subvert actual scientific knowledge and openly sell it to the public and media at large, including any students who would be taking up the profession, as well as attacking anyone who challenged them on the matter. This was done without apology and will always and forever remain wthout recognition by those invested in the subversion.

  185. So let me see if I have this right. It’s ok to look for divine purpose in the fine-tuning of the universe, but once life appears on the scene, no more divine purpose allowed.

    It’s ok to envision the entire cosmos as a giant machine, an artifact, but when it comes to organisms, that’s a big no no.

    IOW, there’s just something that is so radically different about living organisms that we for sure need a God-did-it, but there’s no evidence for that fact, and once these specially created non-artifacts appeared, freshly made by God, God must once again retreat into the mists of ignorance.

    Is that it?

  186. Claudius:

    It seems that you have not read Jonathan Wells’s book on junk DNA. I suggest you have a look at it. It references over 500 peer-reviewed scientific articles. Wells did his homework on what the scientists were saying before he wrote about it. And many of them did believe that a large amount of the non-coding DNA was functionless, and many of them did couch that belief in terms of evolutionary theory.

    That there were a number of scientists who were driven by empiricism rather than dogma, and accepted that there might be many functions found for some of the alleged “junk,” I don’t deny. I praise all scientists of that sort.

    You should also note that among the TE Darwinists, the reaction to the recent announcement (on the functionality of most junk DNA) was one of hostility. The scientists who made the announcement were accused by Ph.D.-in-biology commenters on BioLogos of grandstanding and exaggerating, and almost of co-ordinated fraud, and hardcore neo-Darwinist Dennis Venema immediately embarked on a series of columns aimed at damage control. So there *is* still a strong expectation among many population geneticists that we should expect a fair bit of crud in the genome.

  187. The notion of function is an integral part of thinking in biology as well as in technology. Traits and organs of organisms as well as technical artifacts and their components have or are attributed functions.

    Functions in Biological and Artificial Worlds

  188. Mung:

    In the future, would you do us the courtesy of ADDRESSING the person your remarks are aimed at, so that we can all tell if you are responding to us, or to someone else? Without nested replies, you could be responding to any of the previous 10 posts.

    Nonethless, I infer, from the contents, that your remark was probably aimed at me.

    Yes, I am well aware that biology textbooks will speak of “function.” The difficulty, of course, is that “function” in the human sphere overlaps with the idea of “purpose,” whereas the whole point of Darwinism is that in living things you get function without purpose. So the biology textbooks do a careful dance, allowing function-language, but guarding very carefully lest it spill over into purpose-language. But sometimes their policing is incomplete.

    The language of “machine” is a particular problem for the Darwinists. Etymologically, *machina* suggests contrivance and hence purpose. Of course, we might imagine that a particular set of molecules *functions* as a machine without having been created by foresight, and that is usually what biologists mean when they speak of “molecular machines.” But the subtle aroma of foresight or design clings to the word. And I don’t think this is avoidable; I think it’s in the nature of biological systems to at least *look* as if they are end-driven, and the language of machines, contrivances, purposes, etc. will always suggest itself to the human mind. The atheists would wish it otherwise — if only they could get rid of that darned illusion of purposiveness which goes along with the purposeless phenomenon we call life! But they can’t.

    In any case, I wasn’t speaking hear about such grand philosophical matters as the difference between function and purpose. I was speaking of the narrower meaning of biological function, such as would be accepted by an atheist. And the issue was that, in that narrower meaning, a good number of biologists believed that a very large percentage of noncoding DNA was leftovers from the evolutionary process, and no longer served (and perhaps in some cases never did serve) any function. There were doubtless dissenters from this view, but it was not a negligible view, and *it was used regularly in creationism/ID/Darwinism/TE debates as an argumentative point*: “An intelligent designer wouldn’t have made DNA 90% junk.” And *not once* during those debates did “Claudius” — whoever he is — speak up and criticize the atheist or TE Darwinists who were making that argument against ID or creationist folks, to remind them that the “junk” status of most DNA was far from generally accepted. Yet he summons up the courage to speak up now. I wonder why he’s suddenly so brave?

  189. Hi Upright BiPed @ 185

    Have scientists proposed (generally among themselves) uses for junk DNA along the way? Sure, while they happily allowed prominent ideologues to subvert actual scientific knowledge and openly sell it to the public and media at large, including any students who would be taking up the profession, as well as attacking anyone who challenged them on the matter.

    That’s irrelevant to Timaeus’ point and my challenge to that point.

    Timaeus stated “… a “random mutations” perspective would suggest that there would be lots of junk left over in the noncoding part of genome … and so long hours spent searching for uses would likely be profitless.”

    Yet the documentation shows that research into functions for “junk” DNA has never been stifled in mainstream science. So Timaeus’ point is simply incorrect.

    Cheers

  190. Hi Timaeus @ 187

    Wells did his homework on what the scientists were saying before he wrote about it. And many of them did believe that a large amount of the non-coding DNA was functionless, and many of them did couch that belief in terms of evolutionary theory.

    True. And many other scientists believed non-coding DNA had function, and looked into it.

    This undermines your point that a “random mutations” perspective, as held by mainstream science, entails that research into non-coding DNA functionality will be profitless.

    So there *is* still a strong expectation among many population geneticists that we should expect a fair bit of crud in the genome.

    And there is still the opposite expectation amongst other biologists that much, if not all, of the genome is functional. Opinion is divided, and has been ever since junk DNA was discovered.

    For example, here are the results of a 2008 survey asking “How much of our genome could be deleted without any significant effect on our species?” (n=595):

    15% - None
    18% - less than 10%
    16% - between 11% and 49%
    12% - between 50% and 74%
    13% - between 75% and 89%
    23% - 90% or more

    Cheers

  191. Timaeus @ 189

    … a good number of biologists believed that a very large percentage of noncoding DNA was leftovers from the evolutionary process, and no longer served (and perhaps in some cases never did serve) any function. There were doubtless dissenters from this view, but it was not a negligible view, and *it was used regularly in creationism/ID/Darwinism/TE debates as an argumentative point*: “An intelligent designer wouldn’t have made DNA 90% junk.” And *not once* during those debates did “Claudius” — whoever he is — speak up and criticize the atheist or TE Darwinists who were making that argument against ID or creationist folks, to remind them that the “junk” status of most DNA was far from generally accepted. Yet he summons up the courage to speak up now. I wonder why he’s suddenly so brave?

    That was not a serious point was it, Timaeus?

    Who did or did not speak up whenever or wherever is simply irrelevant to the question of whether a “random mutations” perspective, as held by mainstream biology, entails that research into functions for junk DNA will be profitless.

    Cheers

  192. 193

    #190

    The accurate dissemination of scientific data is obviously of little concern. As I stated, frankly, nothing else was expected. People do what profits them.

  193. F/N: Time to return this thread to its proper focus, a simple test case on reliable empirical detection or recognition of design (with possibilities of identifying a metric model and from that devising a quantitative test).

    It seems to me, first of all, that the Big vs Little ID distinction being advanced above is useful only for rhetorical and distractive reasons. The best way to answer it is to go back to basics, in light of the underlying history of ideas and issues of empirically grounded scientific warrant.

    So, secondly, we need to focus on the fundamental challenge of empirical warrant.

    Where, since C18, science has increasingly sought to reconstruct the past based on signs in the present; using approaches that boil down to inference to best explanation on processes shown, observed — or, assumed — to be causally adequate to produce and characteristic of such signs in the present.

    This, for instance, is more or less how Lyell argued for uniformitarian Geology. In that context, Darwin extended the approach to biology. About a hundred years ago, that also was extended to astrophysics, with as a precursor the suggestions on how a solar system could be created by condensing disks vs pulling out a filament from a star by a brush with another nearby star.

    That is how the old world, old life picture that so dominates our contemporary view was built up.

    In parallel with this, we have had the increasing rise of the view that natural — blind/purposeless processes of mechanical necessity and chance from plausible initial circumstances should be the primary or sole means of explanation used in science. Indeed we find today statements to the effect that this is the definition of scientific methods and even of science.

    This is a step too far, as it is a gateway for injection of a priori materialist ideology that subverts science from being an open minded open ended empirical evidence led pursuit of the credibly warranted truth about our world, including in the remote and unobserved past. That last point is also an important epistemological limitation: we did not observe nor do we have generally accepted records from the remote past, all is reconstruction on a model timeline cumulatively built up and accepted by consensus rather than any truly direct comparison with the actual facts that happened.

    In short, we see here how origins science can easily be subverted in support of materialist ideology, which ideology has been an increasing factor over the past two centuries as well.

    At the same time, we also know that design exists in the world, and that it tends to leave characteristic, observable traces. That needs not be the case, but it is often the case. So, it is relevant to ask questions along lines pointed out by Plato in his The laws, Bk X, on signs of causation by nature [blind chance + necessity] vs by ART. Where the ART-ificial may leave signs that reliably point to its action.

    That is where WJM’s battleship vs a pile of rocks, presumably full of iron ore, comes from.

    There is an obvious, even blatant difference.

    What is it?

    Apart from the processing that has transformed the ore into specific Iron based alloys — note, meteoritic iron alloys “fallen from the sky” exist, but controlled composition and co-ordinated processing that yield specific useful properties is a matter of high art — the battleship shows massive contrivance. For, it is functionally organised in highly specific and complex ways, towards a purpose or goal that may be evident from its structure and function. Just like Paley’s watch on the heath vs a stone.

    by extension, too, if we were to come across an avalanche on mars, and at its foot, what is evidently a spacecraft, with heavy armour plating, weapons turrets and magazines, with co-ordinating control centres, propulsion systems etc, we would immediately infer that we were looking at a space-faring version of the same basic concept, a battleship.

    But, again, what would make these different from, say, a pile of meteoritic iron blobs?

    Functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information, pointing to contrivance.

    But, but, but, that leaves out an absolutely important issue, namely that living systems reproduce, and can mutate giving rise to evolution!

    Thus surfaces one of the longest standing strawman talking points in this whole field of investigation and discussion.

    What do you mean by that?

    I am of course pointing out how there is a lot of discussion on how Paley blundered by failing to address a key disanalogy between machinery and living forms. This is wrong, grossly and culpably wrong. In fact, by Ch II of his 1806 work (and notice, this is a generation AFTER Hume so it would have been reasonable to have expected Paley to answer the disanalogy argument, and any fair review of Paley should therefore address this . . . ], we may simply read how he extended his watch example through an in-principle thought exercise:

    Suppose, in the next place, that the person who found the watch should after some time discover that, in addition to all the properties which he had hitherto observed in it, it possessed the unexpected property of producing in the course of its movement another watch like itself — the thing is conceivable; that it contained within it a mechanism, a system of parts — a mold, for instance, or a complex adjustment of lathes, baffles, and other tools — evidently and separately calculated for this purpose . . . .

    The first effect would be to increase his admiration of the contrivance, and his conviction of the consummate skill of the contriver. Whether he regarded the object of the contrivance, the distinct apparatus, the intricate, yet in many parts intelligible mechanism by which it was carried on, he would perceive in this new observation nothing but an additional reason for doing what he had already done — for referring the construction of the watch to design and to supreme art . . . . He would reflect, that though the watch before him were, in some sense, the maker of the watch, which, was fabricated in the course of its movements, yet it was in a very different sense from that in which a carpenter, for instance, is the maker of a chair — the author of its contrivance, the cause of the relation of its parts to their use.

    Paley of course was at least a generation too early to have advantage of Babbage’s work and over a century too early to have had that of von Neumann’s work on kinematic self replicating automata. But he nailed the heart of the matter: self replication is a further instance of contrivance, not a disanalogy to it. We may then multiply this insight by using one of the results from von Neumann et al, namely, that the stored information controlling the universal constructor is a pivotal issue that has to be explained, in the context of the implied irreducibly complex system.

    This of course brings the origin of life conundrum for a priori materialist blind chance and mechanical necessity driven paradigms to centre stage. And no, this cannot be artificially severed from the onward development of life forms that requires explanation of further increments of such information. We here deal with the root of Darwin’s famous tree of life. (In context, it is highly instructive to me that the only illustration in Darwin’s Origin, the Tree of Life, would have no tracing back to the obviously required root. No root, no shoot and no branches, period.)

    In short the disanalogy argument fails and has failed ever since 1806, but has been propped up through a strawman tactic that counted on the inaccessibility of Paley’s actual onward argument in Ch II as outlined.

    That brings us to the issue firmly put on the table by Wicken and Orgel in the 1970′s as results and challenges for OOL research, not soundly answered from an a priori materialist perspective to this day, a full generation later:

    ORGEL, 1973: . . . In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity. [[The Origins of Life (John Wiley, 1973), p. 189.]

    WICKEN, 1979: ‘Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems. Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms [[i.e. “simple” force laws acting on objects starting from arbitrary and common- place initial conditions] and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an [[originally . . . ] external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’ [[“The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. (Emphases and notes added. Nb: “originally” is added to highlight that for self-replicating systems, the blue print can be built-in.)]

    Thus, pace the objections above and elsewhere, we see the central importance of functionally specific, complex organisation and/or associated information [FSCO/I] in understanding distinguishing characteristics of life forms. (We also see where the term comes from — citation of Wicken in TMLO — and also a historic root of the more general term often used by Dembski et al, Specified complexity and/or complex specified information. Note WmAD has emphasised that in biological systems, the specification is cashed out in terms of function, in various ways. So, FSCO/I, and onwards particularly digitally coded functionally specific complex information, dFSCI, are where the crux of the matter lies.)

    Disanalogy arguments, from Paley to von Neumann, cannot properly be used to sweep FSCO/I off the table.

    And, the OOL context, where there was no pre-existing code based, information controlled replication system, is shown to be pivotal.

    Indeed, that is the exact context where these issues emerged, once the molecular biology results had come in from the early 1950′s to 70′s.

    And, the explanation of the root of the tree of life will then be pivotal to explaining the onward branching and diversification across body plans.

    So, the issue we are looking at is absolutely pivotal and potentially revolutionary.

    This is no mere backwater side issue that can be brushed aside as irrelevant and useless.

    Now, let us extend our space battleship thought exercise.

    It is 2080, and we are in initial stages of exploring the Asteroid belt, now with a global space consortium under UN auspices, say.

    A nickel-iron asteroid with a cluster of close by heavy metal and rare metal asteroids is discovered. In exploring it, we see a similar battleship, and suddenly we begin to understand the robotic instrumentation in certain parts of the previous ship, for here we find a wrecked ship that was in the process of replicating itself and evidently was using a von Neumann self replication mechanism. Right next to the wreck, which has an obviously targetted hole through it, we find a partially completed vessel of obviously similar design, and ewe find idled robots that had been at work. Tracing back, we find advanced programming systems and information storage units that guided the robots in accordance with a blueprint. there are even foundry facilities that seem to make exotic alloys and materials using nanotechnologies.

    Now, you tell me that under these circumstances, the scientists involved in the exhibition will draw the conclusion that the space ships were now proved NOT to have been designed, as the existence of a self replicating mechanism proves that they must somehow have spontaneously evolved from meteoric materials as a strange life form, and that the origin of the complex functional form can be explained on survival of the fittest.

    Do you see how hollow disanalogy arguments sound to people with an engineering or applied science background, once we see the issue of FSCO/I coming to bear?

    That is why Denton’s point in his Evolution, a theory in crisis, from 1985 is still so relevant:

    To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometers in diameter [[so each atom in it would be “the size of a tennis ball”] and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometer in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell.

    We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines . . . . We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices used for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction . . . . However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equaled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours . . . .

    Unlike our own pseudo-automated assembly plants, where external controls are being continually applied, the cell’s manufacturing capability is entirely self-regulated . . . .

    [[Denton, Michael, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Adler, 1986, pp. 327 – 331.]

    The bottomline is that, on billions of test cases, without good counterinstance, we know the characteristic cause of FSCO/I. Design. Unless and until it has been shown that blind chance and mechanical necessity can effectively give rise to such systems, we have every epistemic right to infer that FSCO/I is a reliable signs of design as cause.

    And, the strategy of applying sampling theory to give us a threshold of complexity beyond which the explicit or implied info in an object could not credibly have come about by chance, is then a reasonable model and metric:

    Chi_500 = I*S = 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold.

    Where we can give some biological results in light of the Durston et al results, discussed in the just linked:

    RecA: 242 AA, 832 fits, Chi: 332 bits beyond
    SecY: 342 AA, 688 fits, Chi: 188 bits beyond
    Corona S2: 445 AA, 1285 fits, Chi: 785 bits beyond

    Finally, observe: at no point in my discussion has there been an inference to the supernatural, just to intelligence. That is, the “injecting the [irrational and chaotic] supernatural into science” talking point is a strawman, laced with ad hominems and often set alight with further incendiary remarks about right wing theocratic conspiracies aimed art imposing fascism. (But, BTW, fascism is actually a STATIST — thus leftist — ideology [one pivoting on the emergence of a nihilistic Nietzschean superman political messiah gifted and anointed to deliver the victim group in the face of allegedly unprecedented crisis . . . ], as can be seen from the thought roots of Mussolini and the very name of the analogue in Germany, the National Socialist German Workers Party.)

    That strawman, too, needs to be laid to rest.

    So, now, can we deal with the pivotal issue on the table, on its scientific merits?

    KF

  194. “My argument obviously has nothing to do with ‘Big ID’ as that article defines it.” – W.J. Murray

    Then your ‘argument’ has no basis and is better discarded than trying to defend it. If what you’re arguing for is small-id, then first, orthodox Abrahamic believers already defend this position and second, human-made things do not require and largely do not benefit from the concept-duo of ‘intelligence’ plus ‘design’ to explain them.
    We (meaning human beings) have been studying human-made things for centuries and small-id theory offers us very little worth adding, certainly it does not constitute a ‘scientific revolution’ as Dembski and Meyer have suggested.

    Do you think small-id can or should constitute a scientific revolution in the study of human-made things, W.J. Murray? That’s an important question if you are actually promoting small-id instead of Big-ID, as you said in #158.

    “I know that intelligent design as humans employ it…” – W.J. Murray

    I hate to break it to you, but most people don’t use that small-id jargon. Steve Fuller is one of the very, very few scholars in fields related to human-made things that speaks specifically of ‘intelligent design.’ Do you have an idea of why more scholars don’t adopt the language of small-id? Do you have any suggestions of why the DI abandoned its Summer Program about Big-ID in the Social Sciences and Humanities?

    Es58 asks a fair question in #164, but it has to do with laws and economics regarding biotech. The same question could be asked of genetic modification or nanotech. The point is that crediting innovation to an identifiable innovator, i.e. a person or research team, differs fundamentally from Big-ID’s hypothesis that a transcendent Designer can be natural scientifically proven using probability theories to have ‘created’ OoL, OoBI and ‘human origins.’ What needs to be understood is the scope of Big-ID, so that it doesn’t turn into a universalist ideology wherein *everything* is Designed, including evil.

    Though I read it already, Timaeus as usual goes halfway with his claims: “it doesn’t bother me when when [sic] TEs or atheists or others point out the dissimilarities between organic systems and artificial ones, and raise the question whether the inference can be straightforwardly applied.”

    Exactly. So this is what Timaeus should take up and discuss with W.J. Murray who exports Big-ID theory language to express himself about small-id topics. Timaeus has insisted to me here at UD that Big-ID is focussed on OoL, OoBI and ‘human origins,’ and that it is uninterested in and not relevant to human-made things. This is Timaeus’ insistence. So, now we have someone who challenges Timaeus’ non-IDM (but really wanting to be included in the IDM) view of Big-ID and Timaeus doesn’t have the integrity to face them at UD. What the reasons are for that, none of us can know unless Timaeus addresses them in public?

    As for “the similarities between organic systems and artificial ones are strong as well…” – this shows how outdated Timaeus’ understanding of life in the electronic-information age actually is. The linguistic turn has shown the importance of language in determining how or what people think.

    My claim is simple and uncomplicated and it is verified in practice by the DI’s abandonment of small-id in its Summer Program: “This house holds that Big-ID is a category error that is trying to force ‘design’ by ‘intelligence’ into fields of study in which it does not properly belong, i.e. biology and genetics.” Why is it such a difficult proposition for hard-core IDists to realise that ‘intelligence’ is properly a concept for psychology, anthropology and sociology and *not* for biology or geology?

    “I somewhere granted something to the effect that big-ID referred to official statements of Discovery etc., and small-id referred to a general affirmation of design. I didn’t mean the distinction as anything grand or eternal, but just as a working distinction in a particular conversation.” – Timaeus

    Then Timaeus should update us on what he means now. I quoted him in my linked discussion of Big-ID and small-id. Timaeus doesn’t publish anything about Big-ID in an academic setting. If he does, he should tell us. His statement about Big-ID and small-id, if it lacked care and precision, should be clarified and spelled-out more rigourously. Trying squirm away from a distinction he made lacks intellectual integrity, which Timaeus claims to value.

    “Nobody wants to talk about big versus small ID/id here.” – Timaeus

    That’s a serious problem that basically says ‘don’t question Big-ID, just believe it’ – ‘don’t think critically, just assent’! Instead, UD folks seemingly want to conflate Big-ID and small-id for ideological ‘movement’ purposes. They don’t want to take seriously the distinctions made by decorated scholars and scientists such as Gingerich. They don’t want to address the legitimate criticisms of Big-ID by folks like Ted Davis and George Murphy.

    “What people want to talk about is whether intelligent design in nature is detectable.” – Timaeus

    No, they want to talk about whether Big-ID is ‘detectable.’ Adrian Bejan is your wrestling partner here because he admits that ‘design in nature’ is ‘detectable’ (though he doesn’t use Big-ID preferred language). But for Bejan, ‘design in nature’ requires no designer/Designer, which is unpalatable to almost all Big-ID proponents.
    Personally, I accept small-d ‘design’ on evidence. Example 1, American voters (s)elected Barack Obama as USA President for a second term. Example 2, the Buss family ‘designed’ the L.A. Lakers to be a title-contending team in 2012-2013 NBA season. Fact: the Lakers are 8-games under .500. Question: Are the L.A. Lakers an ‘intelligently designed’ basketball team? Of course, the answer is both Yes and No – so how does Big-ID theory help us? It doesn’t. Big-ID theory has *nothing* to say about it either way.

    Recognise your limitations and show some humility, IDists!

    Does KF have a FSCO/I probability calculation for why the Lakers are losing? If so, what’s the specific number? Just the number please, not the half-baked explanation. If you’re going to claim scientific authenticity, then at least have the intellectual integrity to try to demonstrate it.

    Do you not see how ridiculous it becomes when Big-ID ‘in nature’ is taken to its logical conclusion?!

    “Humans are semiotic beings” – UB

    Bravo! And what does that have to do with OoL, OoBI or ‘human origins’? Big-ID theory is said to focus on those things, not on semiotics, semantics, syntax or most anything to do human language. Are you suggesting that Big-ID should seek new ground in philology?!

    “I am trying to help you to understand that your distinction (and Gingerich’s distinction) has not been well thought out.” – StephenB

    Actually, it’s been thought out better than anything produced within the IDM. We normal folks have simply adopted the term ‘small-id’ to display how conflationary your chosen language actually is. Univocal predication, claimed to be orthodox and yet at the same time denied as having anything to do with a simply natural scientific theory = Big-ID.

    If StephenB really thinks I am running away from him, let me call him out here yet again. I will offer a voice-recorded debate with StephenB, moderated by a neutral observer to keep time and agreed-upon agenda, under conditions that he would probably agree with, if he had the courage to come out from under his pseudonym and discuss these topics freely. Do people here at UD think StephenB has the courage to accept this challenge?

    Probably he’ll consider the opportunity for one or two seconds and then relax back into his ‘lawn chair’ of ignorance and denial.

    “ID proponents are happy to respond to any challenge you might care to throw their way.” – StephenB

    Bull-tweety. I’ve got a growing list and there are no Big-ID proponents, including the very genial and dignified Bruce Chapman, who are prepared to answer them.

    @ W.J Murray #174
    Not far off, but not exactly right. I wouldn’t call you a ‘useful idiot.’ I don’t know you well enough to say that either way.

    “you are saying that Big ID, as the well-known proponents advocate, is about classifying a supernatural god as a scientific explanation for … well … everything” – W.J. Murray

    Not exactly. They sometimes involve theology/worldview and sometimes conveniently leave it out. E.g. Dembski’s 1999 book “ID: THE BRIDGE between Science and Theology.” Nelson, Wells, Meyer and others have ‘leaked’ theological (supernatural God) connections to their Big-ID natural scientific theories in various situations. Surely you know this, W.J. Murray, don’t you?

    Let’s demonstrate the point. You speak of human-made things as examples of small-id. Give us a few examples then please of human-made things that were not ‘intelligently designed.’ If you’re braver, give some examples of things that were not ‘Intelligently Designed.’

    Was the holocaust ‘intelligently designed/Intelligently Designed’? Is the USA’s banking system ‘intelligently designed/Intelligently Designed’ or unintelligently designed/unintelligently Designed’? Is premeditated rape, torture, theft, arson, murder, etc. ‘intelligently designed/Intelligently Designed’? Surely you catch the point by now.

    Timaeus knows quite well that Big-ID theory, i.e. the theory of Johnson, Behe, Meyer, Nelson, Wells, Dembski, et. al. has *nothing* to do with small-id; it is not a theory that intends to face human-made things. He knows this, but continues to play to IDist fantasies, perhaps as an attempt to become a Big-ID player amongst the leadership that has already passed him by. As such, W.J. Murray, your appropriation of small-id ‘intelligent design’ as you use it in the OP is deceptive. It suggests that Big-ID is actually relevant or analogous to small-id, when logically it is not. By showing that this is not the case, I’ve blown up your linguistic illusion.

    Timaeus knows this, because he is a smart guy and a scholar and has studied Big-ID quite carefully. But because in his heart of hearts he seeks to be an IDist and because he not only tries to protect intellectual honesty but at the same time to promote a radical/unorthodox theory for the ‘natural sciences’ (even if he doesn’t insist on this), which Big-ID/IDM leaders claim it to be, he is stuck in a position in which he cannot or will not humble himself to argue with his fellow ideologues.

    Timaeus is thus ‘happily allowing’ people to abuse communication; iow, to speak out both sides of their mouths at the same time.

    Big-ID and small-id constitute a significant and meaningful difference. Could it be that folks at UD who unhesitatingly endorse the IDM would recognise this careful and well-explained distinction? Again, be welcome to visit my blog and throw any thoughtful objections or criticisms you have there because I’ll speak more openly there than here at Big-ID central! Here one gets dog-piled as an idiot for even hinting that Big-ID theory might be an exaggeration or worse, untrue.

    p.s. does KN not wish to reciprocate to someone who acknowledges his organism/artefact distinction simply because that person has outgrown ‘naturalism’?! I do hope to visit Kaliningrad sometime in the near future and to visit I.K.’s turf. There’s enough German philosophy among the leadership here to suggest that Anglo-American ideas such as Big-ID might not be enough to reach a person in their ‘disenchanted’ core…save for post-atheist discoveries to the East.

  195. F/N: We have been studying things that are intelligently caused, things that are caused through mechanical necessity and things that are caused through chance, for thousands of years. We have identified certain characteristic signs, and thus can distinguish the three:

    1] mechanical necessity, under similar starting conditions, leads to regular outcomes, e.g. a dropped heavy object near earth tends to fall at 9.8 N/kg. Low contingency.

    2] chance tends to give rise to stochastic processes that often may be characterised on a statistical distribution and underlying model, e.g. if the above object is a fair die, it will tend to tumble and settle so that its uppermost face is in accord with a flat random distribution.

    3] intelligence tends to express purposefulness, and so it tends to give functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information, such as the text in this post or the one just above it.

    Now, just above, G tried to confine our reasoning on intelligence to humans in action.

    That is a mistake.

    First, for say a computer or a computer program, it is by no means enough that one is human to be able to design, the correlates are skill, intelligence and purpose, as well as opportunity. Motive, means and opportunity in short as any detective or courtroom drama novel fan can tell you.

    Second, let us consider beavers, which adapt their dam designs to all sorts of circumstances in ways that show intelligence. Derivative and genetically passed along so it is instinctual not learned, doubtless, but intelligence all the same.

    For that matter our own intelligence is similarly derived though it is more flexible, i.e. we can learn and carry out new things that go well beyond mere instinct.

    The underlying point is, we have no good reason to confine designing intelligence to human intelligence. Being human is neither necessary nor sufficient to be intelligent and designing, whether in limited and built in or more flexible ways.

    The implied objection fails.

    And, in failing, it points to how we can look at objects that do not come from human manufacture, and if we see similar sins in them, we would easily and uncontroversially identify such as intelligently produced. Our space battle ships on Mars and the Asteroid belt would be good thought exercises for this. There is no way that, were such discovered, there would be an objection that we cannot project the term intelligent beyond the human circle, nor that we cannot understand or recognise artifacts of another intelligence.

    That then points to the biggest object we know, the cosmos we observe.

    As we know from Sir Fred Hoyle and others since the 1950′s, its physics is sitting at a finely tuned, complex operating point that makes it habitable for the sort of life we have. Relatively small shifts in parameters, or balances of quantities etc, would render the result radically inhospitable to such life, starting with the resonance responsible for the abundance of C and O.

    That sort of apparently co-ordinated pattern strongly seems to point to purpose and renders it seriously arguable that the cosmos we live in is designed, and set up to be a habitat for the sort of life we enjoy.

    That is why Sir Fred Hoyle spoke of monkeying with physics and put-up jobs.

    he had no difficulties whatsoever pointing to intelligent action beyond the human sphere, and I see no reason why we should.

    The humans-only objection is specious, and revealing of the objecting mindset we are dealing with.

    KF

  196. Gregory:

    Why is it such a difficult proposition for hard-core IDists to realise that ‘intelligence’ is properly a concept for psychology, anthropology and sociology and *not* for biology or geology?

    Why is it so hard for Gregory to understand that his diatribe is meaningless?

    Gregory, we form a design inference wrt biology due to our knowledge of cause and effect relationships- and yes that includes what humans do.

    Ya see, Gregory, if nature, operating freely could not have produced it, and we know there weren’t any humans arpound, but it still meets the design criteria, we just infer it was a non-human who produced it. We do NOT switch to “well it must have been nature because no humans were around”- obvioulsy some other agency was.

  197. Claudius (191):

    I did not speak of “entailment” in the strict logical sense. My point was (a) that many biologists, for a long time, believed that a large portion of the DNA had no function; (b) that this belief was not *simply* due to the fact that no one at the time knew of any functions (most scientists are not so arrogant about their level of knowledge as to assume that something has no function merely because they don’t know what the function is), but was consonant with the mechanism by which evolution was believed to have taken place. If you are a neo-Darwinian, you have strong reason to believe that a significant amount of the genome will house never-used or previously-useful-but-no-longer useful sequences of DNA, which are still there because they are “neutral” as far as selection is concerned. Wells has assembled a number of quotations which shows that many biologists were thinking along these lines.

    From a design perspective, on the other hand, you would expect very little in the way of unused DNA.

    Your own statistic show that close to half of those surveyed expected 50% or more of the DNA to be non-functional. Do you really think it likely that the neo-Darwinian narrative of how evolution works had *nothing* to do with that expectation? Especially given that Wells has captured that expectation in quotations, and that his quotations are likely the tip of the iceberg?

    On the other side, I’ve already conceded to you that there were biologists who did not jump to conclusions about the uselessness of most DNA. Wells mentions such biologists in his discussion.

  198. Claudius:

    My point about “not speaking up” was this:

    You come here to a pro-ID web site and “correct” an ID supporter by stressing that the view “most DNA is probably useless” was never the consensus of biologists, and is not strictly required by neo-Darwinian theory, but when, over the past several years, Darwinians (both atheist and Christian) have been savagely putting ID people down, all over the web (on this site, on TE sites, and on atheist sites), and one of their standard arguments against design has been “Why would an intelligent designer throw so much useless junk into the DNA?” (again, a sampling of quotations is available in Wells), I didn’t see your protest. I didn’t hear you saying, “Uh, excuse me, friend, but while I agree with you that ID is a deeply flawed position, this is not an argument you should be using against the ID people, as there is no scientific consensus on the uselessness of non-coding DNA.” Your silence suggests that you employ a double standard, allowing loose and unwarranted statements from the Darwinian side that you won’t allow from the ID side. If I’m wrong, you can show me by simply pointing out spots on the web where you have made the same “correction” to the kind of Darwinians that Wells has identified. But if I’m right, have the decency to admit that you are going out of your way here to “correct” me when you never took such trouble to correct the others.

  199. Gregory asks for my current position.

    My current position is, first of all, that the vocabulary of “big ID versus small id” is confusing and should be dropped. Wherever it is raised on the web (and it usually seems to be Gregory who is raising it), it appears to cause massive confusion, as people try to sort out what the terms mean, and figure out exactly what unreasonable and doctrinaire positions “big ID” is supposed to commit one to, so that they can eschew them (to be deemed rational in Gregory’s eyes). So why continue to employ such jargon? Why not drop the terms and simply let people describe their positions on design in nature, and defend them, without labelling them as “big” or “small”? There’s too much jargon in the world already; why add to it?

    So, in line with this approach, I will now describe my position on design in nature, sans big/small, ID/id terminology.

    My position is that it is reasonable, based on everything we know from physics, chemistry, and biology, to infer that design was involved in both the origin and subsequent evolution of life. Whether that inference is called “scientific” (because it is based on modern scientific knowledge) or “philosophical” (because it involves reasoning of a broader and more holistic kind than modern scientists typically perform), is something I really don’t give a rat’s rear end about. The attempt to associate the prestige of the word “science” with one’s views is wholly political (“science” being popularly considered the standard of truth in the modern age), and I’m concerned with the truth about the origin of natural things, not with political victory. I think the evidence points to design, and whether my opponents will allow me to use the word “scientific” to describe my conclusion is irrelevant to me. If it’s a valid conclusion based on the evidence, whether or not it’s “scientific” is unimportant.

    I disagree with the theistic evolutionists — or most of them — because I don’t think that design in nature is something we can know of *only* through the eyes of faith. I think that design in nature is something we can come to know through empirical investigation and rational reflection. On this point, I am on the side of both Aquinas and Calvin, and against the pietists (whether Mennonite, Lutheran, or “Wesleyan”) whose theology of creation is wholly fideistic. I think that a wholly fideistic position on creation is contrary to both the Bible and the Christian tradition.

    I have not read Bejan, and therefore will not comment directly on his views, but with his position *as represented by Gregory* — that design in nature does not imply a designer of nature — I sharply disagree. I think that the notion of design without a designer is incoherent, both philologically and philosophically.

    On the question of the study of “design” and “designed things” in human affairs, I have absolutely nothing against research on the subject by sociologists, anthropologists, and others. It is perfectly appropriate to study human “designing,” as it is appropriate to study human music-making and war-making and all human things. If a sociologist wants to write a book on the phenomenology of “design” I have no objection and would not stand in his way.

    But the flip side of this professional respect is that the sociologist, etc., should be equally willing (a) to stand aside when people who are qualified in subjects the sociologist knows nothing about (molecular biology, probability theory, information theory, engineering, etc.) study living systems, or other parts of nature, and try to determine whether they show evidence of design (as opposed to merely the operation of chance and natural laws); and (b) to refrain from accusing those people of a whole shopping list of base political motives for daring to even raise such questions.

    I don’t think that my position on design in nature, as stated here, is unclear, or evasive, or dishonest, or attempts in any way to obscure the issues. If Gregory disagrees with any part of it, he is welcome to state which parts he objects to, and give his reasons. But I would ask him to abstain, in his objections, from *all* motive-mongering — from all attempts to provide psychological or sociological explanations for why I hold the positions I do — and to limit his discussion to showing where my publically stated reasons for my conclusions are scientifically, philosophically, or theologically inadequate.

  200. This thread demonstrates that it is very difficult to reason with someone who’s already taken the blue pill and returned them-self to a ‘dream world.’ They will strive to find and come up with a thousand answers why the reality others know is not the ‘reality’ that they live in.

    Surely by now it is obvious to everyone reading this thread that KF cannot and/or will not offer a number or probability for the three questions I asked him regarding his pseudo-science by the name of FSCO/I. That’s just something to be honestly noted. KF plainly had nothing to offer by the numbers and most likely won’t ever offer numbers within his lifetime.

    Surely readers understand that pseudo-science is a major problem regarding the Big-ID topic, when some American or British-educated natural scientists and quasi-philosophers are aiming to reform how natural science is done globally.

    “we can[not] project the term intelligent beyond the human circle” – KF

    Are plants ‘intelligent’ (cf. Robert Trivers)? Are slugs ‘intelligent’? Is dirt ‘intelligent’? One cannot tell how far KF wants to go unless he spells it out. What are the limits and reach of ‘intelligence’ according to KF? The blank piece of paper sitting on KF’s desk: is that ‘intelligent’? Obviously KF believes in Divine Intelligence. But he seems to want to fragment and disassociate his actual beliefs from his pseudo-science of Big-ID.

    My position is quite uncontroversial and a simple one that is validated and reiterated throughout the history of sciences involving humanity. We (us; you and I) are unique in the universe that we know. Thus, when I and many others associate ‘intelligence’ with ‘humanity’ there is nothing unusual about it. What we reject point blank is ‘Big-ID’ theory, as represented here at UD and by the IDM based in DI.

    KF can go argue himself with uneducated folks about the so-called ‘intelligence’ of other things somewhere else if that’s his fetish. That’s merely a distraction here. And it does nothing to change the valid and orthodox distinction made between small-id and Big-ID theory and how irrelevant Big-ID is to small-id understanding.

    Do you people really appear so stunned as to not recognise how irrelevant Big-ID theory actually is to small-id understanding?!?!?

    “we have no good reason to confine designing intelligence to human intelligence.” – KF

    Go ahead, then. Make your claim about non-human ‘designing intelligence.’ Clarify and quantify it with empirical indicators. Even still, it doesn’t change the Big-ID argument about OoL, OoBI and ‘human origins’ or offer anything original regarding ‘naturalism’. Why does KF constantly pretend that it does as if a 3 yr-old child could out-tackle a SuperBowl giant? Fantasy-football is what KF’s pseudo-scientific Big-ID theory amounts to.

    Since KF brought it up, the question is open: Is SIN ‘intelligently designed/Intelligently Designed’? Iow, did God ‘Intelligently Design’ SIN?

    Obviously we all here know that the Holocaust was ‘intelligently designed,’ right?

    Stephen C. Meyer’s recent admission of ‘ID theodicy’ is pretty much the only thing saving your ridiculous naturalistic position. And it means bowing to the small-id viewpoint of Steve Fuller in the process. But most of you really don’t care about the sovereignty of scientific disciplines, so let Hell Freeze Over before you will ever give up on Big-ID theory.

  201. G: Please go find a mirror and look in it. Then, come back and look again, carefully above on the path of reasoning and evidence that you seem determined to sweep away. Then, look back in the mirror and think again. KF

  202. Gregory:

    This thread demonstrates that it is very difficult to reason with someone who’s already taken the blue pill and returned them-self to a ‘dream world.’

    And that is why it is difficult to reason with you, Gregory.

    I doubt that you know what science is.

  203. 204

    Gregory,

    I have previously commented on how you willfully ignore (and otherwise refuse to engage) material evidence that refutes your position. Then in comment #171, I stated that ‘humans are semiotic beings’, and immediate followed that statement with a straightforward material argument demonstrating precisely how that fact relates to OoL. In response, you ignored my argument in its totality and responded with:

    “Humans are semiotic beings”
    Bravo! And what does that have to do with OoL.

    It requires integrity to engage well-reasoned opposing arguments. Your response above is a sufficiently clear example of how you undermine that integrity in yourself. It also demonstrates the lengths you are willing to go intellectually in order to sell your anti-ID position, as well as why your efforts are destined to the failure you’ve experienced with them thus far.

  204. T:

    Mung:

    Nonethless, I infer, from the contents, that your remark was probably aimed at me.

    No, it wasn’t aimed at you. :) Sorry for the confusion.

    When I direct a post at a particular individual I do try to make it clear to whom it is addressed.

    This was just meant as a general post addressing the previously raised attempts to make organism/artifact distinctions.

  205. Gregory:

    So, per my question at 151, Dawkins is also in on this?

    (DI should send him a regular check. In fact, they probably do :) )

    What it looks like to me is someone who has already done the thinking through of the philosophy, decided he doesn’t like the results [not possible his philo is wrong, and not possible it's beyond his understanding] and therefore has erected artificial barriers [ created by an artificer - design detection anyone?]
    to stop things before people can “follow the evidence where it leads”. But, that’s just me, I guess.

  206. Gregory:

    a person or research team, differs fundamentally from Big-ID’s hypothesis that a transcendent Designer can be natural scientifically proven using probability theories to have ‘created’ OoL, OoBI and ‘human origins.’ What needs to be understood is the scope of Big-ID, so that it doesn’t turn into a universalist ideology wherein *everything* is Designed, including evil.

    Anyone here identify with this statement? Show of hands?

    Ironically, it’s Gregory’s preferred “small id” that attempts to prove a transcendant Designer.

  207. Gregory:

    Why is it such a difficult proposition for hard-core IDists to realise that ‘intelligence’ is properly a concept for psychology, anthropology and sociology and *not* for biology or geology?

    Perhaps because I consider myself to be both biological and intelligent.

    Rocks, otoh, I don’t consider to be intelligent.

  208. es58 – “Dawkins is also in on this?”

    Big-ID and Richard Dawkins are like two peas in a pod. They thrive on each other. But that has little to do with truth.

    Yes, I’ve thought quite thoroughly through the ‘pseudo-philosophy’ of Big-ID, even if Big-ID theory is supposed to be pure only about ‘natural science,’ and not about philosophy. I wrote and successfully defended (against TE’s!!!) a masters thesis on the topic, which Big-ID people should normally celebrate and promote, though since I reject Big-ID theory, they wish to try to ‘expel’ from reality.

    “Follow the evidence where it leads” is a simplistic IDist ploy. They (IDists) don’t actually “follow the evidence.” They employ ideologies that lead them to conclude that EVERYTHING IS DESIGNED, INCLUDING EVIL AND DEATH.

    Quite surely, as someone who has closely studied Big-ID at the DI, I am much more qualified to speak about this than ‘es58,’ who should probably rather go hide behind a safety rock and still loudly claim that the scientific world has expelled them for unfair purposes. Such ‘facts of life’ are hard to swallow for Big-ID ‘pseudo-scientific revolutionaries.’

    Peoples of the Abrahamic faiths will outlive such taunts to their integrity by Big-IDists.

    - Gr.

    p.s. Mung, if grains of sand could speak, they’d complain that you were trying to speak pseudo-intellectually on their behalf. If you haven’t read Dembski say that, then that’s your debt. Abrahamic believers in good faith continue to accept small-id/ the view that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” regardless of the pitiful existence of an ‘I+D+M’.

    small-id assumes a Transcendent Designer, but does not (unlike Big-ID) try to natural scientifically prove it.

  209. Mung @207

    One would think that in Christian theology the fact that evil is designed is uncontroversial. Is it not by very definition the deliberate negation of God’s expressed will by conscious agents either human or demonic? Paul accuses those who turn away from the knowledge of God of “inventing ways to do evil” (Romans 1.20).

    So evil is designed by evil agents. How else would something go against the will of God? By God’s inattention or ignorance or self-contradiction? Scarcely.

    And if God is the source of all good, then how could anything good arise apart from his purpose? Do good things happen on their own? Are there several creators?

    That’s been the teaching of historical Christianity for the last 2000 years.

    None of this, though, seems to have any direct bearing on ID, which apart from its refusal to grapple with God (for which Steve Fuller criticises it) if anything, by restricting itself do what might be demonstrably designed, risks falling into the naturalistic trap that there are things that can happen “on their own” apart from God. Such dualism, however, is not orthodox.

  210. ‘And that is why it is difficult to reason with you, Gregory.

    I doubt that you know what science is.’

    He doesn’t, Joe. Sciecne is a very real threat to him and his buddies of the Covenant of the Double Helix. He is simply scared to look at the empirical evidence – over and above the circumstantial, such as its perfect match with the Sudarium – for Christ’s resurrection; hoping, moreover, that it will all go away, vanish from the public arena.

    His desperate recourse to Dawkin’s lese-majeste defence doesn’t hold water, since it was not I who carried out the investigations (!), but a team of very highly-accredited scientists.

    We know that it’s not a pathological lack of interest in everything, that deters Greg and his materialist confreres from investigating such absolutely extraordinary, empirically-based claims, but a fear of their life being turned upside down. Well to use Del Boy’s enhanced version of ‘C’est la vie’… ‘Angleterre, nul point,’ even for ID, the winnning side. Yet.

    Strange to be so fearful of a truth not in the least intrinsically menacing. It doesn’t do a lot for science’s already negative reputation as a haven for truth-seekers, does it?

  211. Gregory:

    small-id assumes a Transcendent Designer, but does not (unlike Big-ID) try to natural scientifically prove it.

    Can you state a single one of Aquinas’ Five Ways that does not begin with observations taken from the material world?

    Or were they not meant to demonstrate the existence of God?

    Or are you now making up a special category of science according to which “small-id does not try to natural scientifically demonstrate the existence of God” is only tautologically true?

  212. Timaeus:

    I have not read Bejan, and therefore will not comment directly on his views, but with his position *as represented by Gregory* — that design in nature does not imply a designer of nature — I sharply disagree.

    But what’s even more interesting is that G claims Bejan says design is empirically detectable. If I thought that were so I might be motivated to buy his book. But frankly I’m skeptical.

    Gregory:

    Adrian Bejan is your wrestling partner here because he admits that ‘design in nature’ is ‘detectable’

    How so?

  213. Gregory:

    Surely by now it is obvious to everyone reading this thread that KF cannot and/or will not offer a number or probability for the three questions I asked him regarding his pseudo-science by the name of FSCO/I.

    He probably didn’t offer a number for the same reason they didn’t include social institutions in the scope of the meeting(s) that led to the following:

    Functions in Biological and Artificial Worlds: Comparative Philosophical Perspectives

    Entities of a third kind, namely social institutions, are often also described in a functional way. We are convinced that functional approaches to sociology may also profit from a comparative perspective when analyzing functions, but that is not included in the present comparative approach. The reasons are as follows. First, there is much less consensus among sociologists than among biologists or technicians on whether or not the systems they are dealing with should really be conceived of as functional systems. Sociological structuralism manages without function ascriptions, so the problem of functionality seems to depend much more on the general approach adopted within the sociological field than in the fields dealt with in this volume (Krohs 2008a). Second, social institutions, if conceived functionally, combine aspects that are found to be relevant to function ascriptions in biology (evolution, development, and organization) and to technology (designing, use, and, again, organization), probably blended in many different proportions. Insofar as these aspects exhaust the notion of “social functions,” the latter do not add a new perspective to the ones included in this book.

    In case it escaped your attention Gregory, the F in FSCO/I stands for Function.

  214. Since KF brought it up, the question is open: Is SIN ‘intelligently designed/Intelligently Designed’? Iow, did God ‘Intelligently Design’ SIN?

    It’s a nonsense question.

  215. What’s the function of sin?

    Plus, Gregory, ID isn’t about what God designed. You’re conflating your version of ID with our version of ID.

    ID is about what can be empirically observed and what inferences can be drawn based upon our observation.

    Now if you can give us a way to observe and quantify SIN maybe we can tell you whether a design inference is warranted.

  216. Hi Timaeus @ 198

    My point was (a) that many biologists, for a long time, believed that a large portion of the DNA had no function; (b) that this belief was not *simply* due to the fact that no one at the time knew of any functions … , but was consonant with the mechanism by which evolution was believed to have taken place. If you are a neo-Darwinian, you have strong reason to believe that a significant amount of the genome will house never-used or previously-useful-but-no-longer useful sequences of DNA, which are still there because they are “neutral” as far as selection is concerned.

    No, Timaeus. Your original point was that the reigning paradigm in mainstream science did not expect research into junk DNA function to be fruitful, whilst ID had predicted function, “[s]o the design perspective is a clear winner on that prediction.”

    The documentary evidence disproves your point. Some biologists predicted function for junk DNA ever since it was discovered, they continued to research it, their research was not stymied by the reigning paradigm, and they in fact found function and published about it. So ID is not a clear winner on that prediction; if anything, mainstream science is the winner because its predictions of function came earlier:

    Ever since the initial demonstration of the existence of repetitive DNA [a type of non-coding DNA] there has been no dearth of theories on the function of this material. … Following is a list of functions that have been proposed …

    1. Recognition of centromeres of common origin.
    2. Recognition between homologous chromosomes during pairing.
    3. Regions involved in the initiation of replication and/or transcription.
    4. Sites concerned with specifying the folding patterns of chromosomes.
    5. Recognition sites for the process of genetic recombination.
    6. Provision of raw material for genetic divergence.
    7. Reflection of similarities in the structure of different proteins.
    8. DNA concerned with the regulation of gene expression (regulatory DNA).
    9. Reflection of multiplicity of repeated genes, as for example, in the master and slave or multistranded chromosome hypothesis.
    — Bostock, C (1971) “Repetitious DNA” Advances in Cell Biology 2:153-223

    You’ve conceded some scientists expected function for junk DNA. You’ve conceded the reigning paradigm in mainstream science does not logically entail junk DNA will be functionless. And we know research into functions for junk DNA has continued with mainstream institutional support for four decades, and that numerous such functions have been discovered.

    So it’s clear that your original point that ID is a “clear winner” in the prediction about functions for junk DNA is incorrect — which is what I’ve been pointing out all along.

    Cheers

  217. G: at this stage it is plain that you are resorting to tangents, obfuscations and atmosphere-poisoning in a style reminiscent of some of the more zany comedies. This seems to be your response to a live demonstration of the utility of a metric of FSCO/I, and a correction on not understanding the significance of a reference to bits as a standard unit of information. That is sad. I hope that it should be plain to those interested, that intelligent causes act in our world as an empirical fact, that it often leaves empirically detectable signs — and BTW, functionally specific organisation and information was highlighted by Wicken not the undersigned — and that these may be measured in relevant cases of interest. Beyond that sense of design detection on empirically credible signs, I now suspect that the terms being injected and described as big/little ID, are not only alien to the understanding and usage of relevant researchers and thinkers, but appear to be at minimum rhetorically loaded and likely incoherent. I do not accept such alien terminology, and suggest that no-one else should either,on grounds similar to why other rhetorically loaded alien terms like “intelligent design creationism” are to be rejected. KF

  218. C: Seven years ago, the “assured” status of Junk DNA was commonly used in attempts to dismiss ID and ID thinkers or supporters. ID advocates stuck to their guns and predicted that the projection of up to 98% “junk” in the genome [IIRC] would be falsified as being grossly exaggerated. Now that the evidence is moving in that direction, there is an attempt to rewrite the history to pretend that the conventional wisdom of that time was not so. Sorry, I was there and saw it live. I know better, as do a great many others. KF

  219. ‘Can you (Gregory) state a single one of Aquinas’ Five Ways that does not begin with observations taken from the material world?

    Or were they not meant to demonstrate the existence of God?’

    Silence, came the stern reply.

  220. CLAVDIVS:

    The documentary evidence disproves your point. Some biologists predicted function for junk DNA ever since it was discovered, they continued to research it, their research was not stymied by the reigning paradigm, and they in fact found function and published about it.

    What was that reigning paradigm again?

  221. You, Claudius :-) :

    Regarding your 217 above, I don’t recall speaking of “the reigning paradigm.” I spoke of a “random mutations” approach, meaning neo-Darwinism. Now to be sure, neo-Darwinism has been the reigning paradigm, but the problem is that over the past few decades evolutionary biologists have been modifying strict neo-Darwinism with bits of other explanations, and so evolutionary biology has been increasingly a hodge-podge of proposed mechanisms, no longer the strict NDE of Mayr and Dobzhansky. I would guess that most of the evolutionary biologists of whom you speak, who were skeptical of the idea of “junk DNA,” were not strict neo-Darwinians, and did not conceive of the evolutionary process as simply the filtering of random mutations by natural selection, but allowed a range of other mechanisms. ID of course targets mainly classic neo-Darwinism, e.g., Dawkins, Coyne, Miller, the NCSE. And many of the classic neo-Darwinians appear to have supported the “junk” concept.

    Of course — to give your argument its due — a strict neo-Darwinian *could* argue for the *utility* of most DNA, on the grounds that selection would prune out all or most genomic material that is not useful; and maybe some of the biologists that you cite reasoned in that way. But the problem with such a position, from my point of view, is that, though coherent theoretically, it cannot be used to attack ID by saying “an intelligent designer wouldn’t have put so much unused crud into the genome.”

    Do you see the problem? There is an internal contradiction in the thought of the culture-war biologists who spend their time blogging against ID. If they truly believe that Darwinian selection is so powerful that it prunes away most of the unnecessary “neutral” mutations and most of the no-longer-functional genomic material, then they have to drop the argument against ID based on useless non-coding DNA. And if they believe, on the other hand, that natural selection is blind to a good number of things which are neither helpful nor harmful (unused doubled genomic material in the non-coding portion, etc.) and therefore does not eliminate them, but carries them along for ages as free riders along with the truly functional DNA, then they *must* expect a large chunk of the non-coding DNA to be useless. They can’t have it both ways.

    So let’s say I accept your defense that even a pure neo-Darwinian evolutionary theorist can permit or even predict functionality for most of the “junk.” Let’s say I overstated the neo-Darwinian endorsement of the “junk” concept. Precisely if so, that means that neo-Darwinians such as Miller have been arguing incoherently when they say “a smart designer wouldn’t have produced so much junk.” So if you want to stick to your guns, please adopt the corollary of your view: that many of the culture-warring neo-Darwinian scientists have misrepresented the implications of their own theory of evolution, either due to scientific incompetence (failing to grasp neo-Darwinism’s incompatibility with a large proportion of junk) or due to culture-war, tactical considerations (i.e., due to intellectual dishonesty) in their desire to destroy ID.

    If you will grant me this much, then we can “meet in the middle.” And as a sign of good faith on your part, the next time you read someone like Ken Miller yapping about the incompatibility of a designer with such a high percentage of useless DNA, make a public statement against that writer, as you have here, against me. Deal?

  222. Hi Timaeus @ 199

    My point about “not speaking up” was this:

    You come here to a pro-ID web site and “correct” an ID supporter by stressing that the view “most DNA is probably useless” was never the consensus of biologists, and is not strictly required by neo-Darwinian theory, but when, over the past several years, Darwinians (both atheist and Christian) have been savagely putting ID people down, all over the web (on this site, on TE sites, and on atheist sites), and one of their standard arguments against design has been “Why would an intelligent designer throw so much useless junk into the DNA?” (again, a sampling of quotations is available in Wells), I didn’t see your protest. I didn’t hear you saying, “Uh, excuse me, friend, but while I agree with you that ID is a deeply flawed position, this is not an argument you should be using against the ID people, as there is no scientific consensus on the uselessness of non-coding DNA.” Your silence suggests that you employ a double standard, allowing loose and unwarranted statements from the Darwinian side that you won’t allow from the ID side. If I’m wrong, you can show me by simply pointing out spots on the web where you have made the same “correction” to the kind of Darwinians that Wells has identified. But if I’m right, have the decency to admit that you are going out of your way here to “correct” me when you never took such trouble to correct the others.

    It’s hard to square this with your more gracious response below; nonetheless I’ll comment briefly.

    What I did or did not say at some other time or place is irrelevant to the point at hand. Your suggestion that I am hypocritical is also appears to be an irrelevant ad hominem, specifically the fallacy of poisoning the well: CLAVDIVS seems to be a hypocrite > CLAVDIVS argument is invalid. Anyone can see this does not follow. So I do not accept the burden of showing I’m not a hypocrite, because it’s irrelevant.

    Cheers

  223. It’s ok clavidivs, there are plenty of hypocrites out there on the neo-darwinian side. We don’t really need you to be one too.

  224. WOW! Look what I found!

    Explains how molecular and cellular structures evolved in different organisms.

    I wonder if Mike Behe is aware of this

  225. Hi Kairosfocus @ 219

    C: Seven years ago, the “assured” status of Junk DNA was commonly used in attempts to dismiss ID and ID thinkers or supporters. ID advocates stuck to their guns and predicted that the projection of up to 98% “junk” in the genome [IIRC] would be falsified as being grossly exaggerated. Now that the evidence is moving in that direction, there is an attempt to rewrite the history to pretend that the conventional wisdom of that time was not so. Sorry, I was there and saw it live. I know better, as do a great many others. KF

    If anyone claimed, seven years ago, that the mainstream scientific consensus was that the vast majority of non-coding DNA was functionless, then they were wrong, as has been amply documented.

    By the same token, if anyone claims today that the mainstream scientific consensus has ever been that the majority of non-coding DNA is functionless, then they are wrong too.

    So when Timaeus made this same claim as part of an argument for the design perspective being a “clear winner” in predicting function for junk DNA, that also was wrong, and thus Timaeus’ argument is not correct. That is all I am pointing out.

    The only ones attempting to rewrite history are those who claim that the mainstream scientific consensus has ever been that the majority of non-coding DNA is functionless.

    Cheers

  226. Timaeus:

    …over the past few decades evolutionary biologists have been modifying strict neo-Darwinism with bits of other explanations, and so evolutionary biology has been increasingly a hodge-podge of proposed mechanisms, no longer the strict NDE of Mayr and Dobzhansky.

    Just the other day I came across this volume, and it’s from 1985!

    Evolutionary Theory: The Unfinished Synthesis

    Chapter titles include:

    Evolution Without Selection
    Transcendental Evolution
    Emergent Evolution
    Holism and Evolution
    Evolutionary Epigenetics

  227. Claudius:

    At no point did I suggest that your statements about junk DNA were invalid on the grounds that you had not challenged neo-Darwinists regarding their attacks on ID. In fact, to drive home the separation between the two issues, I divided my follow-up reply into two posts, the one (198) concerning the issue of junk DNA, and the other (199) concerning your activity (or lack thereof) in the culture wars.

    In other words, you could be entirely right on the first issue (over what biologists in fact predicted about junk DNA) and still blameworthy for inconsistently withholding your criticism when you saw non-ID people using the same “error” about junk DNA for political purposes. I am therefore not conflating the two criticisms, but asking you to respond to each separately.

    Please have a look at my attempt — in 222 above — to show the inconsistency of some Darwinians on the junk DNA issue. I think that you should think seriously about that inconsistency, whether or not you choose to discuss your response to it with me.

    And by the way, I wasn’t necessarily assuming you were being hypocritical. There are possible explanations other than hypocrisy, i.e., you might just happen never to have encountered a single Darwinian writer who used junk DNA as an argument against an intelligent designer; in that case you could hardly be expected to challenge such writers. (That would raise further questions about how familiar you are with these debates, but at least it would excuse your silence.) Or you may have seen such arguments, but not noticed the internal inconsistency in the position of the writer, until I pointed it out to you, just now. That, too, would excuse your silence. So I’ll try not to jump to conclusions, and not to assume the worst possible motivation. But your silence on the question doesn’t help. You could, at the very least, let me know whether or not you agree with me that some neo-Darwinians have misused the junk DNA concept against ID people, as, in your view, the ID people have misused it against the neo-Darwinians. If you agree with me on that now, and say so publically, then I’m inclined not to worry about your past silence on the subject, and not to level any charges based on that silence. But if you disagree with me, and think there is no contradiction of the sort I’ve pointed out, I’d like to know why.

  228. Junk DNA Predictions By Leading Evolutionists

    Haldane’s Dilemma
    Excerpt: Haldane was the first to recognize there was a cost to selection which limited what it realistically could be expected to do. He did not fully realize that his thinking would create major problems for evolutionary theory. He calculated that in man it would take 6 million years to fix just 1,000 mutations (assuming 20 years per generation).,,, Man and chimp differ by at least 150 million nucleotides representing at least 40 million hypothetical mutations (Britten, 2002). So if man evolved from a chimp-like creature, then during that process there were at least 20 million mutations fixed within the human lineage (40 million divided by 2), yet natural selection could only have selected for 1,000 of those. All the rest would have had to been fixed by random drift – creating millions of nearly-neutral deleterious mutations. This would not just have made us inferior to our chimp-like ancestors – it surely would have killed us. Since Haldane’s dilemma there have been a number of efforts to sweep the problem under the rug, but the problem is still exactly the same. ReMine (1993, 2005) has extensively reviewed the problem, and has analyzed it using an entirely different mathematical formulation – but has obtained identical results.
    John Sanford PhD. – “Genetic Entropy and The Mystery of the Genome” – pg. 159-160

    Kimura’s Quandary
    Excerpt: Kimura realized that Haldane was correct,,, He developed his neutral theory in responce to this overwhelming evolutionary problem. Paradoxically, his theory led him to believe that most mutations are unselectable, and therefore,,, most ‘evolution’ must be independent of selection! Because he was totally committed to the primary axiom (neo-Darwinism), Kimura apparently never considered his cost arguments could most rationally be used to argue against the Axiom’s (neo-Darwinism’s) very validity.
    John Sanford PhD. – “Genetic Entropy and The Mystery of the Genome” – pg. 161 – 162

    A graph featuring ‘Kimura’s Distribution’ being ‘properly used’ is shown in the following video:

    Evolution Vs Genetic Entropy – Andy McIntosh – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4028086

    At the 2:45 minute mark of the following video, the mathematical roots of the junk DNA argument, that is still used by many Darwinists, can be traced through Haldane, Kimura, and Ohno’s work in the late 1950’s, 60’s through the early 70’s:

    What Is The Genome? It’s Not Junk! – Dr. Robert Carter – video – (Notes in video description)
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8905583

    Kimura (1968) developed the idea of “Neutral Evolution”. If “Haldane’s Dilemma” is correct, the majority of DNA must be non-functional.

    The slow, painful death of junk DNA:
    Junk DNA is not just a label that was tacked on to some DNA that seemed to have no function; it is something that is required by evolution. Mathematically, there is too much variation, too much DNA to mutate, and too few generations in which to get it all done. This was the essence of Haldane’s work….Junk DNA is a necessary mathematical extrapolation…Without Junk DNA, evolution runs into insurmountable mathematical difficulties.
    http://creation.com/junk-dna-slow-death

    Susumu Ohno, a leader in the field of genetics and evolutionary biology, explained in 1972 in an early study of non-coding DNA that, “they are the remains of nature’s experiments which failed. The earth is strewn with fossil remains of extinct species; is it a wonder that our genome too is filled with the remains of extinct genes?”

    Sternberg traces how the junk DNA argument developed through the mid 1970’s to the early 80’s and beyond in the following article:

    How The Junk DNA Hypothesis Has Changed Since 1980 – Richard Sternberg – October 8, 2009
    Excerpt: Two papers appeared back to back in the journal Nature in 1980: “Selfish Genes, the Phenotype Paradigm and Genome Evolution” by W. Ford Doolittle and Carmen Sapienza and “Selfish DNA: The Ultimate Parasite” by Leslie Orgel and Francis Crick. These laid the framework for thinking about nonprotein-coding regions of chromosomes, judging from how they are cited. What these authors effectively did was advance Dawkins’s 1976 selfish gene idea in such a way that all the genomic DNA evidence available up to that time could be accounted for by a plausible scenario. The thesis presented in both articles is that the only specific function of the vast bulk of “nonspecific” sequences, especially repetitive elements such as transposons, is to replicate themselves — this is the consequence of natural selection operating within genomes, beneath the radar of the cell. These junk sequences, it was postulated, can duplicate and disperse throughout chromosomes because they have little or no effect on the phenotype, save for the occasional mutation that results from their mobility.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....26421.html

    Biologists are racking their brains trying to think what useful task this apparently surplus DNA is doing. But from the point of view of the selfish genes themselves, there is no paradox. The true “purpose” of DNA is to survive, no more and no less. The simplest way to explain the surplus DNA is to suppose that it is a parasite, or at best a harmless but useless passenger, hitching a ride in the survival machines created by the other DNA.

    …. “creationists…might spend some earnest time speculating on why the Creator should bother to litter genomes with untranslated pseudogenes and junk tandem repeat DNA.”

    Richard Dawkins – Selfish Gene (mid 1970’s)
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-374475

    Selfish DNA: the ultimate parasite. Orgel LE, Crick FH. – 1980
    The DNA of higher organisms usually falls into two classes, one specific and the other comparatively nonspecific. It seems plausible that most of the latter originates by the spreading of sequences which had little or no effect on the phenotype.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7366731

    Dr. Wells gives some historical background as to why some neo-Darwinists are doing everything they can to discredit the recent (Sept. 2012) ENCODE findings:

    Why All the Fuss Over Some Junk? – Jonathan Wells – September 25, 2012
    Excerpt: Some historical context might help. After James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the molecular structure of DNA in 1953, Crick announced that they had found “the secret of life,” a popular formulation of which became “DNA makes RNA makes protein makes us.” But biologists discovered that about 98% of our DNA does not code for protein, and in 1972 Susumu Ohno and David Comings independently used the term “junk” to refer to non-protein-coding DNA (though neither man excluded the possibility that some of it might turn out to be functional).
    Why didn’t biologists simply call non-protein-coding sequences “DNA of unknown function” rather than “junk DNA?” For some, it was because “junk DNA” seemed more suited to the defense of Darwinism and survival of the fittest. In 1976, Richard Dawkins wrote in The Selfish Gene that “the true ‘purpose’ of DNA is to survive, no more and no less. The simplest way to explain the surplus [i.e., non-protein-coding] DNA is to suppose that it is a parasite, or at best a harmless but useless passenger, hitching a ride in the survival machines created by the other DNA.”
    In 1980, W. Ford Doolittle and Carmen Sapienza wrote in Nature (284:601) that many organisms contain “DNAs whose only ‘function’ is survival within genomes,” and that “the search for other explanations may prove, if not intellectually sterile, ultimately futile.” In the same issue of Nature (284:604), Leslie Orgel and Francis Crick wrote that “much DNA in higher organisms is little better than junk,” and its accumulation in the course of evolution “can be compared to the spread of a not-too-harmful parasite within its host.” Since it is unlikely that such DNA has a function, Orgel and Crick concluded, “it would be folly in such cases to hunt obsessively for one.”
    Two biologists then wrote to Nature (285:617,618) expressing their disagreement. Thomas Cavalier-Smith considered it “premature” to dismiss non-protein-coding DNA as junk, and Gabriel Dover wrote that “we should not abandon all hope of arriving at an understanding of the manner in which some sequences might affect the biology of organisms in completely novel and somewhat unconventional ways.” Cavalier-Smith and Dover were not criticizing evolutionary theory; they were merely questioning the claim that non-protein-coding DNA is non-functional.
    After the rise of intelligent design (ID) in the 1990s, “junk DNA” became a favorite weapon against ID in the hands of some Darwinists, including Richard Dawkins and the four bloggers mentioned above. According to ID, it is possible to infer from evidence in nature that some features of the world, including some features of living things, are explained better by an intelligent cause than by unguided natural processes. The Darwinists’ argument was that an intelligent designer would not have filled our genomes with so much junk, but that it could have accumulated as an accidental by-product of unguided evolution. In 2004, Dawkins wrote in A Devil’s Chaplain that much of our genome “consists of multiple copies of junk, ‘tandem repeats,’ and other nonsense which may be useful for forensic detectives but which doesn’t seem to be used in the body itself.” Dawkins suggested that creationists (among whom he included ID advocates) “might spend some earnest time speculating on why the Creator should bother to litter genomes with untranslated pseudogenes and junk tandem repeat DNA.”
    Dawkins continued to rely on junk DNA in his 2009 book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. “It is a remarkable fact,” he wrote, “that the greater part (95 per cent in the case of humans) of the genome might as well not be there, for all the difference it makes.” In particular, pseudogenes “are genes that once did something useful but have now been sidelined and are never transcribed or translated.” Dawkins concluded: “What pseudogenes are useful for is embarrassing creationists. It stretches even their creative ingenuity to make up a convincing reason why an intelligent designer should have created a pseudogene… unless he was deliberately setting out to fool us.”
    But if most of our DNA is functional, as the ENCODE results suggest, then the “junk DNA” argument against ID collapses.
    So the four bloggers listed above are doing everything they can to discredit the ENCODE project’s estimate of functional DNA. Yet whatever the estimate may currently be, it is certain to increase with further research. In 2007, the ENCODE pilot project reported on the basis of about 200 datasets that our DNA is “pervasively transcribed,” suggesting functionality. The 2012 results, based on 1,640 datasets, documented that “the vast majority (80.4%) of the human genome” is biochemically functional in at least one cell type. But ENCODE has so far sampled only a fraction of the cell types in the human body.
    Clearly, we have a lot more to learn about our genome — but not if we start by assuming that most of it is junk.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....64721.html

    In 1994, the authoritative textbook, Molecular Biology of the Cell, co-authored by National Academy of Sciences president Bruce Alberts, suggested (incorrectly!) that introns are “largely genetic ‘junk’”: Unlike the sequence of an exon, the exact nucleotide sequence of an intron seems to be unimportant. Thus introns have accumulated mutations rapidly during evolution, and it is often possible to alter most of an intron’s nucleotide sequence without greatly affecting gene function. This has led to the suggestion that intron sequences have no function at all and are largely genetic “junk”

    Soon thereafter, the 1995 edition of Voet & Voet’s Biochemistry textbook explained that “a possibility that must be seriously entertained is that much repetitive DNA serves no useful purpose whatever for its host. Rather, it is selfish or junk DNA, a molecular parasite that, over many generations, has disseminated itself throughout the genome…”

    Will Darwinists try to Rewrite the History of Junk-DNA?
    In 1996, leading origin of life theorist Christian de Duve wrote: “The simplest way to explain the surplus DNA is to suppose that it is a parasite or at best a harmless but useless passenger, hitching a ride in the survival machines created by the other DNA.” (Richard Dawkins makes similar pronouncements that DNA is junk in an article after 1998)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....ull_a.html

    Another leading biologist, Sydney Brenner argued in a biology journal in 1998 that:
    “The excess DNA in our genomes is junk, and it is there because it is harmless, as well as being useless, and because the molecular processes generating extra DNA outpace those getting rid of it.”

    The Unseen Genome, Gems Among the Junk:
    “I think this will come to be a classic story of orthodoxy derailing objective analysis of the facts, in this case for a quarter of a century,” Mattick says. “The failure to recognize the full implications of this—particularly the possibility that the intervening noncoding sequences may be transmitting parallel information in the form of RNA molecules—may well go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology.” (John S. Mattick Scientific American (November, 2003)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/

  229. Casey Luskin response to Farrel – several quotes from Jonathan Wells book – ‘The Myth of Junk DNA’ – May 2011
    http://blogs.forbes.com/johnfa.....omment-153

    Jonathan Wells on his book, The Myth of Junk DNA – yes, it is a Darwinist myth and he nails it as such – March 2011
    Excerpt: Some people revise history by claiming that no mainstream biologists ever regarded non-protein-coding DNA as “junk.”
    This claim is easily disproved: Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel published an article in Nature in 1980 (284: 604-607) arguing that such DNA “is little better than junk,” and “it would be folly in such cases to hunt obsessively” for functions in it. Since then, Brown University biologist Kenneth R. Miller, Oxford University biologist Richard Dawkins, University of Chicago biologist Jerry A. Coyne, and University of California–Irvine biologist John C. Avise have all argued that most of our DNA is junk, and that this provides evidence for Darwinian evolution and against intelligent design. National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins argued similarly in his widely read 2006 book The Language of God.
    It is true that some biologists (such as Thomas Cavalier-Smith and Gabriel Dover) have long been skeptical of “junk DNA” claims, but probably a majority of biologists since 1980 have gone along with the myth. The revisionists are misinformed (or misinforming).
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....more-18154

    First Holistic View of How Human Genome Actually Works: ENCODE Study Produces Massive Data Set – ScienceDaily (Sep. 5, 2012)
    Excerpt: “During the early debates about the Human Genome Project, researchers had predicted that only a few percent of the human genome sequence encoded proteins, the workhorses of the cell, and that the rest was junk. We now know that this conclusion was wrong,” said Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), a part of the National Institutes of Health. “ENCODE has revealed that most of the human genome is involved in the complex molecular choreography required for converting genetic information into living cells and organisms.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....140913.htm

    Amazingly, many leading evolutionists (Ayala in 2010; Francis Collins in 2010) still insist that most of the genome, which does not directly code for proteins, is useless ‘Junk DNA’.

    Francis Collins, Darwin of the Gaps, and the Fallacy Of Junk DNA – Wells, Meyer, Sternberg – video
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....40361.html

    PZ Myers argues for well over 50% junk DNA in the following video:

    PZ Myers, the self-described Paris Hilton of atheists, on junk DNA – December 2011 – video
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-junk-dna/

    Casey Luskin responds to a mean-spirited attack by a neo-Darwinist on ‘Junk DNA’ – July 2012
    Excerpt: (A) On the one hand, you try to rewrite history by arguing that evolutionary biologists never argued that the genome was full of junk (“Wells and Luskin have promoted the absurd falsehood that molecular biologists believed non-coding DNA was non-functional ‘junk.’”)
    (B) On the other hand, you then claim the genome is full of junk DNA. (“As for junk, it is between 65 to 91.3%.”)
    Do you not see how the fact that you’re making argument (B) makes it really hard for me to believe your argument (A)?
    In any case, your point (A) is an attempt to rewrite history, which is a predictable response to the overwhelming mass of evidence,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....t-15282571

  230. clavdivs:

    If anyone claimed, seven years ago, that the mainstream scientific consensus was that the vast majority of non-coding DNA was functionless, then they were wrong, as has been amply documented.

    Documented where? How to you propose to establish what was mainstream and what was not? Surely not by citing just a few papers.

    One probably doesn’t even have to go back 7 years.

    2010. John C. Avise. Inside the Human Genome: A Case For Non-Intelligent Design

    Chapter 4. Wasteful Design: Repetitive DNA Elements

  231. It’s a battleship!

    Is not.

    But look, it floats.

    Nope. That’s solid water holding it up.

    But look, it has a forward and aft.

    You’re daft. That’s port and starboard.

    But look, it’s made of steel!

    snort. Like superman?

    No, not like superman! Superman would sink.

    There’s a difference between organisms and artifacts you say?

    You’re missing the point!

    It’s not a battleship, or if it is, it’s not designed. And besides, that’s a univocal analogical argument.

    Sez who?

    Lex Luthor.

    But Lex Luthor is EVIL. Can you trust him?

    Lex Luthor opposes the IDM. That’s good enough for me.

  232. Hi Mung @ 231

    clavdivs: If anyone claimed, seven years ago, that the mainstream scientific consensus was that the vast majority of non-coding DNA was functionless, then they were wrong, as has been amply documented.

    MUNG: Documented where? How to you propose to establish what was mainstream and what was not? Surely not by citing just a few papers.

    Documented in regular scientific journals.

    I don’t propose to establish what was mainstream and what was not.

    I’ve established that – contrary to Timaeus’ original claim – for decades scientists publishing in regular journals predicted functions for non-coding DNA, searched for such functions, and found many. Therefore, it is incorrect to claim that ID is the “clear winner” in predicting functions for non-coding DNA.

    Cheers

  233. Save for the fact that neo-Darwinism mathematically requires Junk DNA (actually it requires ‘neutral’ DNA) you may have had a point. But the fact is that the junk DNA ‘prediction’ flows, as was pointed out previously to you, directly from the mathematical considerations of the modern synthesis. I have no doubt that scientists, with ‘common sense’, no doubt ignored what was ‘suppose’ to be Darwinian orthodoxy towards Junk DNA simply because it is idiotic to do so, but for you to pretend that Junk DNA was not artificially forced upon biology by Darwinian presuppositions is simply to live in denial of the facts of history!

  234. Claudius:

    I’m more interested in your reply to 222 than anything else, but I’d respond to your comment above (233), that, while *some* evolutionary biologists expected most DNA to be functional, *all* ID proponents expected most DNA to be functional. So you have to account for the features of “contemporary evolutionary biology” which would lead so many (48%, according to your survey) biologists *not* to be surprised if the majority of DNA was non-functional. Why should the acceptance of mainstream mechanisms of evolution have led so often to such an expectation? You don’t seem to have wrestled with this question. Have you even asked yourself this question?

    It also could be argued that if ID people uniformly predicted mostly functional DNA, and nearly half of those schooled in mainstream evolutionary biology predicted mostly non-functional DNA (according to your survey), and the evidence now shows that most — maybe nearly all — DNA has function, that ID comes out as the “winner” — if the comparison is between, not individual biologists, but ID proponents *as a whole* and modern biologists *as a whole*. Mainstream biologists, statistically, were equally as likely to be wrong as right, whereas ID folks proved to be uniformly right. What else would “winner” mean in this context? If one team wins 100% of the races it enters, and the other team wins only 50% of the races it enters, which team should be judged as the winner?

  235. clavdivs, I think you’re missing his point.

    The “clear winner” as I’m sure we’ll all agree, is not decided by who publishes more papers in regular journals.

    But maybe I misunderstand your claim.

    But even if the “clear winner” was determined by who publishes more papers in regular journals, who would win? You’ve decided not to cite any papers that dis-confirm your thesis. Are there no such papers published in regular journals?

    I think Timaeus’ argument is, and he can correct me if I am wrong, is that ID is the “clear winner” on theoretical grounds.

    The Darwinian theory is incoherent. On that ground alone ID could win, unless it is likewise incoherent. :)

    Speaking of 7 years ago:

    In his best-selling book The Language of God (2006), geneticist Francis Collins claims that human DNA provides “powerful support for Darwin’s theory of evolution, that is descent from a common ancestor with natural selection operating on randomly occurring variations.” More specifically, he argues that our DNA demonstrates that humans and apes share a common ancestor.

    The title of that chapter?

    Francis Collins, Junk DNA, and Chromosomal Fusion

    So I have a question for you:

    Have you read chapter 4 of Science & Human Origins?

    Have you read The Myth of Junk DNA?

    Wells’ case is heavily documented.

    Far more than what you have given us.

  236. Hi Timaeus @ 222

    There is an internal contradiction in the thought of the culture-war biologists who spend their time blogging against ID. If they truly believe that Darwinian selection is so powerful that it prunes away most of the unnecessary “neutral” mutations and most of the no-longer-functional genomic material, then they have to drop the argument against ID based on useless non-coding DNA.

    As I said to Kairosfocus @ 226: “If anyone claimed … that the mainstream scientific consensus was that the vast majority of non-coding DNA was functionless, then they were wrong, as has been amply documented.” So I grant you that anyone using that premise in an argument was making an incorrect argument.

    Of course, what I have been pointing out in this thread is that your original argument @ 179 also used this wrong premise, and thus is also incorrect for precisely the same reason.

    Should I ever be participating in a discussion where this wrong premise comes up, you have my assurance I will not hesitate to point it out.

    Cheers

  237. Gregory:

    You asked me for clarification — a restatement of my position based on the view I currently hold. I gave that clarification. I think I gave it politely (not replying in kind to the accusation that I was a rhetorician, etc.), and I stated my thoughts clearly, guided by entirely honest intentions, i.e., to convey to the readers here, including yourself, the thoughts that are in my head.

    You have since replied to a couple of other posts, but not to mine. I shall assume for the moment that you were busy today and intend to reply tomorrow. But if I don’t hear from you, I’ll think twice before spending an hour to craft a careful reply to you again. It’s basic politeness to acknowledge when someone has made a serious intellectual and literary effort to answer your questions, by providing at least a minimal response. If you lack such courtesy, I see no obligation to accommodate your requests in the future.

  238. Hi Timaeus @ 228

    You could, at the very least, let me know whether or not you agree with me that some neo-Darwinians have misused the junk DNA concept against ID people, as, in your view, the ID people have misused it against the neo-Darwinians.

    Here in the antipodes its work time so I have to be brief — there are some genuinely substantive points worth addressing (@ 235, 236) that I hope to attend to this evening.

    To answer your question forthrightly, I do not recall ever having read a criticism of ID on the grounds that the genome contains too much non-functional DNA.

    Perhaps you could quote one?

    Cheers

  239. clavdivs:

    If anyone claimed … that the mainstream scientific consensus was that the vast majority of non-coding DNA was functionless, then they were wrong, as has been amply documented.

    Amply documented where?

    Where is the ample documentation that establishes that:

    the mainstream scientific consensus was NOT that the vast majority of non-coding DNA was functionless

    How do you propose to document that?

    clavdivs:

    Documented in regular scientific journals.

    Let me see if I understand you.

    You can find some scientists who explored whether or not the vast majority of DNA was without function.

    All these scientists came to the conclusion that the vast majority of DNA was functional.

    Is that what you are asserting?

  240. John C. Avise:

    “…contrary to ID predictions, the human genome is not irreducibly complex…”

    lol. what a freaking moron.

    Chapter 4 – Wasteful Design – treats repetitive elements in the human genome, ranging from duplications and pseudogenes (dead genes) to several classes of ubiquitous mobile elements that look and act much like intracellular viruses.

  241. C: I am not going to bother with more than this: the status I reported was what I saw firsthand. You may not like it, but the truth is the truth and there are enough people who were there that they too know it, and know that the current rewriting as though it did not happen is utterly outrageous. And, actually, journal articles are irrelevant, I spoke and speak of conventional wisdom expressing the dominant opinion that was spread far and wide, as for instance BA documents from Dawkins even after the evidence started to harden up in a very different direction. (And BTW, if someone cares to trace it back there will be old threads at UD which will bring that out.) KF

  242. Gregory’s small-id struggles with the problem of evil:

    The problem of evil is the most serious problem in the world. It is also the one serious objection to the existence of God.

    When Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote his great Summa Theologica, he could find only two objections to the existence of God, even though he tried to list at least three objections to every one of the thousands of theses he tried to prove in that great work. One of the two objections is the apparent ability of natural science to explain everything in our experience without God; and the other is the problem of evil.

    http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/evil.htm

    well shucks, that seems to pre-date the IDM by just a few centuries.

    maybe gregory will design to explain why his view is orthodox. but i doubt it.

  243. God’s Universe
    Owen Gingerich
    Chapter 3: Dare a Scientist Believe in Design?

    Yes, folks, that’s a big-D.

  244. I just wanted to chime in as a relative new comer to understanding the deeper issues of dispute regarding ID and its antagonists. As an active Christian apologist, I will tell you that even now, once in a while there are still those who will claim junk DNA as proof for evloution.
    Whether academics had not, as a body say that junk DNA was just that, [which according to BA77's citations above, there were plenty using that terminology and saying it had no specific purpose] as CLAVDIVS wants to defend, the minions at my level only heard what they wanted to hear, I heard this regurgitation over and over again, so obviously, the people CLAVDIVS is referring to must’ve been doing in relative seclusion. FWIW

  245. Gregory

    small-id assumes a Transcendent Designer, but does not (unlike Big-ID) try to natural scientifically prove it.

    Since Aquinas, Paley and other natural theologians didn’t “assume” the existence of a transcendent designer but tried to “prove” the existence of a transcendent designer, neither of these two intellectual giants can, according to Gregory’s standard, be properly placed under the banner of “small id.”

    In what category is he going to place these and other like-minded proponents of natural theology, all of whom had more in common with Big ID (infering the designer’s existence through the evidence of his handiwork) than small id (assuming the existence of God and his grand design)?

    More importantly, is Gregory even remotely familiar with the difference between the traditional faith-based approach and the traditional reason-based approach, each dating back over 2000 years. Or, is he so naive as to believe that there was no such thing as a design inference until Big ID began to find its voice in the 1980′s.

  246. Claudius:

    “Perhaps you could quote one?”

    bornagain77 has given copious quotations and references in 229 and 230 above. For more, consult *The Myth of Junk DNA*(published in 2011) by Jonathan Wells.

    In general, the anti-ID literature is rife with arguments of the form: “a smart designer wouldn’t have done X.” The junk DNA argument is usually a variant on that argument: “a designer wouldn’t design something with useless parts, and so if life were designed we wouldn’t see junk DNA.” Such arguments are so common in books, articles, and blog sites that I can’t imagine how you have missed them — unless you are much less of a follower of these debates than most of the people who post on this site. (We know the literature that is critical of ID extremely well, because we are called upon to respond to it daily, in some medium or other.)

  247. I’m new here but in the quick read through of the most recent threads I’ve found a honest, thoughtful, and above all fairly civil debate, so I thought that I would join in as these qualities seem to be rare on the web.

    Moving on.

    In all the discussions on ID that I’ve been involved in, the one salient point I’ve never been able to get past, and please forgive me if I’m digging up old arguments, but if the primary premise is that life is to complex to have arisen spontaneously and therefore must have had an intelligence behind it guiding it and designing it, who designed the designer? The discussion becomes circular.

    I have yet to encounter an argument that can answer, to my satisfaction, that fundamental question. Theists and proponents of ID always seem to fall back on some sort of dogmatic argument, and that is where the two points of view differ and the Theists argument, in my opinion, breaks down.

    A Theists would say ‘I don’t know the answer therefore it must be something that is unanswerable; it is too complex it defies explanation, and therefore must be a higher and/or divine power.

    A scientist/evolutionist says ‘I don’t have that evidence yet so I can’t answer that question, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to answer it, and if I’m wrong, I will abandon that hypothesis, come up with a new one and gather evidence in an effort to either support it or refute it.

    Sawyer

  248. Gregory:

    Small-id assumes a Transcendent Designer, but does not (unlike Big-ID) try to natural scientifically prove it.

    ID does not assume a transcendent designer, so this is just false.

  249. Eric,

    Gregory could care less about what ID assumes.

  250. Eric, Mung:

    Gregory uses these terms in a counterintuitive way. For him,

    Big ID = The Discovery Institute and the contemporary ID movement.

    Small ID = The traditional Christian belief in a transcendent God that designed the universe and created man in His image. (Biblical faith in a rational God that launched modern science).

    So, by his definition, small ID does assume a transcendent God. However, there are two serious problems with his formulation.

    [a] Big ID has no way of separating motives from methods

    [b] small id takes no account of traditional design thinkers who inferred design instead of assuming it.

    In other words, the two categories have not been well thought out and are, for all practical purposes, meaningless and even a little misleading.

  251. Oh dear, I forgot to put “small id” in lower case. It’s important to get it right because Gregory has laid down a non-negotiable rule for his operative terms: He need not define them with precision, but we must punctuate them with care.

  252. SB:

    The next problem seems to come in with the suggestion that Forrest’s Cheap Tuxedo claims are more or less right.

    G then proceeds to try to dismiss any actual process of addressing what the design inference and theory actually are about [per the actual on the ground statements, definitions and work . . . cf. what happened above with JG's stones], asking and addressing whether design is discernible in general on empirical signs, then onwards asking and addressing such signs in the cosmos or the world of life.

    Hence his sharp-toned dismissiveness to the Wicken- Orgel observation on the distinction between functional, specific complexity reflected in the organisation of life, and order or randomness, and onward quantifications and metrics.

    He seems to be dismissive as to how information is generally quantified — negative log of probabilities derived from reasonable symbol frequency estimates and onwards, or a direct count from number of possible states which may involve observations of frequencies of occurrence [cf. Durston et al, Yockey etc] — and particularly, of what the bit is. He seems to be very dismissive of probability estimation techniques, and should familiarise himself not only with info theory but also with both sampling theory and statistical thermodynamics, for relevant contexts. It will help him to see the informational view on entropy as a metric of average missing info on specific microstate given the lab scale parameters that define macrostate.

    This complex of problems creates a world of incoherence and endless confusion when he inserts his views cross-ways into a thread.

    KF

  253. PS: I am wondering if we are dealing with some sort of theistic evolutionary view of the modern sort that is dismissive of the idea of observable evidence of signs of design; a view that there is such evidence cuts across a particular theology of divine action in the world that near as I can make out seeks to establish a view in which evidence of design in specific aspects of the world is not to be expected and the appearance of what seems to be signs of design is illusory and subject to a “God of the gaps” objection. To such a mindset, metrics and observations that point to grounding a design inference may well appear wrong-headed or even stupid and/or ignorant. The project of reasoning:

    a: signs of design are real, observable and per inductive examination empirically reliable

    b: such signs appear in the natural world in various aspects, as credible traces of the past of origins
    ________________________________

    Therefore,

    c: There is empirical warrant that the origin of these features is best explained on design

    d: However, this by itself is a that twerdun, not a whodunit, nor a how twerdun

    . . . will likely be rejected by one who thinks in such a way as wrong-headed. However, the pattern of reasoning on reliable signs compared to traces of the past we cannot directly observe is the framework in which origins science has developed since C18 – 19. And, frankly, such resulting models have sometimes gained currency on far weaker sign accreditation than the design inference has. For instance, there is no good empirical case that spontaneous chemistry etc in some little pond etc will reasonably give rise to the functional organisation of the cell, but FSCO/I is often produced by intelligence. Similarly, there has not been observation that cumulative chance variation and differential reproductive success can give rise to novel complex body plans. Much of the apparent force of the reasoning behind these models rests on the assumption that in scientific reasoning one may only properly explain naturalistically. This methodological naturalism, however, has the effect of either begging the question and censoring the answers to be considered, or else diverts science (especially on origins) from seeking the truth on our world as led and controlled by observable evidence.

  254. Now Timaues is waffling from what he said before – follow this evidence where it leads, folks, and see for yourselves.

    Timaeus, you have not published a single academic paper in a peer-reviewed journal about Big-ID theory. I have. Please don’t attempt bullying-up to me into answering you within a day or two at a blog like UD. Frankly, I don’t find your pro-Big-ID arguments much of a challenge and have other priorities.

    I’ve made the offer open for you to come out from under your pseudonym and debate me publically; you’ve refused. (But I’ve given my word to Denyse not to ‘out’ you publically at UD and intend to honour that.) Obviously you are not as busy as the professional biologists (both theists and non-theists) you relentlessly criticise or as I am, since you have so much time to write on Big-ID-friendly blogs in the safety of Big-ID movement supporters. I don’t fancy spending much time responding to pseudo-professional Big-ID proponents who have little more to do in their lives than to promote a ‘scientific revolution!’ in the name of Big-ID theory.

    Timaeus apparently spends hours crafting slick rhetorical answers and elaborate turns of phrase and it takes not more than a few minutes to refute them and show their weaknesses, follies and internal contradictions.

    Let’s follow the evidence where it leads: It was Timaeus who first raised the issue of (what he calls) ‘small id’ and ‘big ID’ and what I call ‘small-id’ and ‘Big-ID.’ (Perhaps he was trying to fool us all, as an April fools joke and didn’t actually mean what he said?!) Timaeus most likely got this distinction from ASA list, though we’re not allowed to talk about that here at UD.

    Now, in this very thread, Timaeus is back-peddling to try to save face for his beloved Big-ID theory because perhaps now he sees how devastating an argument Gingerich has actually made against the seemingly purposeful deceptions of the IDM, i.e. their flip-flop usage of either Big-ID (Intelligent Design) or small-id (intelligent design) as it suits their rhetorical purpose. If Timaeus or anyone else had intellectual integrity, they would stop the flip-flopping and speaking with forked tongues, sometimes capitalising Big-ID and sometimes not with small-id!

    V.J. Torley recently said this to me at UD, without the shadow of Timaeus bearing down:

    “You make a good point about the distinction between (capitalized) Intelligent Design, and (lower case) intelligent design. The latter belief does not require that the Designer left any visible, discernible traces of His activity.”

    Though Torley has since refused to dialogue with me because he seems to think I pose a danger to his Catholicism (which is so far from true as to be ridiculous!!), at least I respect that Torley actually speaks plainly and sees the importance of the proper distinction of capitalized vs. lower case, instead of waffling about it like Timaeus.
    Unfortunately, Torley still seems to be as convoluted as Timaeus on this topic. He writes: “The arguments for this Designer are scientific, not theological.” The other approach is the one Gingerich claims, i.e. that a Big-D ‘Designer’ is a theological, not a scientific argument or topic of open discussion. Most Abrahamic monotheists agree with Gingerich against Torley and the IDM (the latter categorically display ‘scientism’ rather than invoking a balanced science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation) for sound and orthodox reasons against trying to ‘scientifically’ prove the existence of God, which is both traditionally and contemporarily a properly ‘theological’ topic.

    “why continue to employ such jargon? Why not drop the terms and simply let people describe their positions on design in nature, and defend them, without labelling them as “big” or “small”?” – Timaeus

    Why? Because it makes good sense and is communicatively responsible to traditional Abrahamic monotheism. And because it helps to clear the muddy waters encouraged by those who confuse Big-ID theory and small-id, the latter being a responsible faith-based position. The distinction between Big-ID and small-id is valid both because of what it does to over-the-top ‘scientistic’ Big-ID claims (i.e. that *everything* is Designed AND that we can prove it using natural sciences) and because of who is employing it, which is almost exclusively Abrahamic monotheists.

    You are an Abrahamic monotheist, are you not, Timaeus?
    (cont’d)

  255. Onlookers: At this point, I think the best response is to simply not grant Gregory the use of highly tendentious language that distorts the actual usage of practitioners on the imagination that it is an independent or objective analysis. KF

  256. Hi Timaeus @

    CLAVDIVS: “I do not recall ever having read a criticism of ID on the grounds that the genome contains too much non-functional DNA.

    Perhaps you could quote one?”

    TIMAEUS: bornagain77 has given copious quotations and references in 229 and 230 above. For more, consult *The Myth of Junk DNA*(published in 2011) by Jonathan Wells.

    I read bornagain77′s quotes. Not a single one criticises ID on the grounds that the genome contains too much non-functional DNA.

    Cheers

  257. Dear UD People:

    I ask for your advice regarding the recent exchange between myself and Gregory.

    1. In an argument in which I was not originally involved, Gregory, in the course of criticizing a number of other people here (including William Murray), brought up my name (in several posts, starting at least as early as 118 above), and threw in some unprovoked personal digs against me. One of his complaints seems to be that I have some sort of personal responsibility to criticize Mr. Murray and others here, but am too cowardly and/or hypocritical and/or politically motivated to criticize other ID supporters.

    2. I tried to ignore the personal flak, and I indicated (165 above) that I wished to avoid discussions centered on the ID/id distinction, because it was being made far too much of by Gregory.

    3. Gregory responded, in a post containing more gratuitous personal flak against me, with the request that I present my current view on the ID/id distinction: “Then Timaeus should update us on what he means now” (195 above).

    4. I tried to directly answer this request in 200 above. I tried, in that response, to avoid returning insult for insult, sneer for sneer, and stick strictly to the exposition of my view.

    5. Gregory did not reply to me, though he replied to others, so I reminded him of my response, and requested an acknowledgment of it (238).

    6. It is not clear that Gregory intended to reply to me at all, and I am unsure that he would have replied if I had not sent the aforementioned reminder note; nonetheless, he has now replied, in 254 above.

    7. His reply in 254 is snarling in tone, as if enraged by something I have said to him on this web page. He accuses me once again of employing “rhetoric”; he calls my direct and prosaic reply “slick”; he makes irrelevant charges (having no bearing on the argument I’ve advanced) that I have not published any academic papers on ID; he accuses me of “back-peddling” [does he mean "back-pedalling"?] to “save face,” thus imputing to me hidden motives for holding the view that I do, when I’ve laid out my reasons on the table; etc. Yet as far as I can tell, the aggression and the charges are entirely unwarranted; I have done nothing on this page but reply politely to his question about my current position.

    8. Can people here tell me what I have said to Gregory in this discussion that would warrant his hostile attack? Was my clarification of my position in 200 above impolite, sneering, or sarcastic? Did I say anything there that suggested I was being sneaky, insincere, or disingenuous? If so, how could I have written my reply differently?

    9. It’s no secret here that Gregory does not like me or my positions. But I can’t do anything about that. All that I can do, when I interact with him, is to try not to drag up past combats, and not to respond to personal attacks in kind, and try to stress points of agreement (as I did above in my comments in 200 on the value of social science approaches to design), in hopes that Gregory will see that I am trying to turn things around, and have a rational discussion. But I am not succeeding. So either I am speaking in a way that is offensive to Gregory, without knowing what it is that offends — in which case I need the perspective of others here to help me see what I’m unintentionally doing; or Gregory’s personal dislike of me is now so entrenched and habitual that nothing I can say, no matter how carefully and politely put, will ever change his attitude toward me; in which case I should stop responding to Gregory completely. I hope others can give me useful advice on this point.

  258. Claudius:

    I intended for you to look not only at bornagain’s quotations, but also at the many links he provided to online sources and at the books and articles that he referenced. I would have referred you to the same sources.

    I also have assumed that you would not be entering these discussions without having read the standard controversial works by atheist, ID and TE proponents. You will find neo-Darwinist Ken Miller present the general argument I’ve mentioned (a designer wouldn’t employ useless parts) in *Finding Darwin’s God*, and the specific junk DNA argument in an article, the reference to which is given in Wells’s book. (I presume you have Wells’s book. If you don’t have it, you should, because it’s the most up-to-date study on the history of the junk DNA subject in the professional literature). Francis Collins, a neo-Darwinian famous for his work on the Human Genome Project, makes an anti-ID argument from junk DNA on pages 136-137 of his book *The Language of God*, which I would also presume that you have read. Dawkins makes it in a location given by Wells. You can find it on scores of websites, in talk group and blog column arguments. I can no more list all the places I’ve seen the argument than I could list all the places I’ve seen where it says that Columbus sailed in 1492. If you follow these debates with anything close to the attention that I follow them, you will have seen the argument many times. I can’t account for why you haven’t. In any case, the argument has been repeatedly made, and I don’t intend to take the time to find any more examples of it than what I and bornagain have already provided. Best wishes.

  259. Gregory wrote (254):

    “Timaeus apparently spends hours crafting slick rhetorical answers and elaborate turns of phrase and it takes not more than a few minutes to refute them and show their weaknesses, follies and internal contradictions.”

    I would very much appreciate being shown the “weaknesses, follies and internal contradictions” of my position *as stated in 200 above*. Which points in 200 above are “weak” and “foolish”? And which parts of 200 above are in contradiction with other parts of 200 above? I think a discussion of my actual argument, as opposed to a continuous stream of allegations about my imagined motives, could be profitable, but I have as yet seen no such discussion. I certainly will respond politely and quickly to all non-polemical and on-topic criticism *of what I wrote in 200*.

  260. (cont’d)

    “I believe in intelligent design, lower case i and lower case d. But I have a problem with Intelligent Design, capital I and capital D. It is being sold increasingly as a political movement, as if somehow it is an alternative to Darwinian evolution.” – Owen Gingerich (God’s Universe. Cambridge: Belnap Press, 2006)

    One of Timaeus’ major problems is that he speaks nothing, i.e. keeps silent while nevertheless personally culture warring, about the ‘political movement’ of the IDM. This explains why he is not (officially, publically) part of it (who knows what he does in private). Instead, he wants to speak quasi-scientifically about ‘pure theory’ and ‘ideas’ when the discussion cannot be properly held in the vacuum of Timaeus’ mind and heart.

    Gingerich, Randy Isaac, George Murphy, Stephen Barr and Ted Davis are openly identified with their views and do not hide behind pseudonyms on blogs out of fear of being ‘expelled’ because they frankly have nothing to fear for speaking out responsibly to their religious traditions. Torley’s views on the importance of distinguished small-id from Big-ID are given above.

    Timaeus tries to paint a false picture for Big-ID enthusiasts here at UD that *only* I use the distinction between Big vs. small as ‘jargon.’ Yet as anyone can see in public discourse, Gingerich, Isaac, Murphy, Barr and Davis, scholars who Timaeus generally respects (but only up to the point that they reasonably, clearly and unequivocally reject Big-ID theory!), also distinguish between Big and small regarding ‘Intelligent Design/intelligent design.’ Obviously Timaeus either honestly doesn’t know or he is lying.

    As seen above, even Torley states: “You make a good point about the distinction between (capitalized) Intelligent Design, and (lower case) intelligent design.” So what is Timaeus’ beef exactly based on and why can’t he convince himself to publically criticise W.J. Murray for using the terms small-id ‘intelligent design,’ as if it is backed by some kind of Big-ID theory, to be used regarding human-made things, i.e. artefacts, when quite obviously it is not? How can Timaeus’ contradictory position be explained?

    Big-ID proponents should drop the motive-talk and include the reflexivity dimension, which is sorely lacking in one of the most disanthropic pseudo-scientific theories present today in science, philosophy, theology/worldview discourse, i.e. Big-ID theory.

    Adrian Bejan speaks of small-d ‘design in nature.’ He wrote a book 2012 about it that surely someone could display the courage to review at UD. But nobody has done this. Why not?! Even V. Torley encouraged people to take Bejan more seriously, but they have thus far done nothing (other than one paper at jonathanb’s conference and Holcumbrink’s one-off non-review on his personal blog, inspired by Bejan’s book!).

    Bejan’s ‘design in nature’ is small-d because it accepts no supernatural ‘Designer.’ Yet strangely, and this is interesting, it is also Big-D like the IDM’s Big-ID because it claims *scientificity* for his meaning of ‘design w/out a designer.’ As I said before, there is an irony here; it is that Big-D ‘Design’ of Big-ID theory variety, and small-d ‘design’ as in Bejanian ‘design in nature’ both claim ‘(natural) scientificity.’

    Big-ID theory as promoted by the IDM *dies* a painless death the moment it claims to study an actual real ‘designer/Designer’. This is why it doesn’t claim to address ‘designer(s)/Designer(s)’ of any kind in particular. This is also what delivers it amazingly weak explanatory power as a ‘theory’ and why it thrives on implicationism.

    Of course, almost all IDM-Big-IDists are Abrahamic monotheists who believe the ‘Designer’ behind Big-ID is the G-d of the Abrahamic faiths, especially Christianity (other than Berlinski who has no positive vision of ID to offer, being an agnostic Jew). Again, these are just facts, nothing personally antagonistic or psychoanalytic which might be seen as making people feel uncomfortable. Be comfortable with these truths, UD readers, because they ‘follow the evidence where it leads’ even to be able to say this.

    “There’s too much jargon in the world already; why add to it?” – Timaeus

    The concept-duo ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’ is ITSELF jargon. So shouldn’t we then by Timaeus’ own contradictory logic drop it too?! There are a lot of people out there (this might surprise Timaeus, who doesn’t seem to get out much) who would with open arms support a campaign of dropping ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’ as needless jargon. Otoh, I’m a guy who likes considering what neologisms might or could mean and am not so needlessly captive to 30 yrs-outdated backwards-thinking as Timaeus.

    “Simply put, I know intelligent design exists – humans employ it. I use it directly.” – W.J. Murray

    Let’s focus then back on the OP. What Murray wrote is not a ‘scientific’ theory of ‘intelligent design.’ It is something else, something non-scientific; something attempting to transfer a concept duo outside of its claimed domain. Can this be publically agreed at UD?

    Iow, the way W.J. Murray communicatively uses ‘intelligent design’ in the OP has no basis in Big-ID theory and thus gets no backing from it; Murray’s usage of ‘intelligent design’ to (human-made) artefacts is just unnecessary jargon (as Timaeus should humble himself to recognise it). There is no Big-ID theory to validate Murray’s use of ‘intelligent design’ as he does. Can you at least admit that, Timaeus? It should be obvious to anyone reading this who isn’t trying to universalise ‘design/Design’ by ‘intelligence/Intelligence’ and who is careful with how they express them-selves on this topic.

    Timaeus wrote in #73: “I agree that “we can infer that this *artifact* is designed” is circular.”

    Yes, artefacts are by definition made, built, designed, constructed, composed, sculpted, programmed, manufactured, etc. This is why Kantian Naturalist’s perception is valid and effective, why it is so important (and also why it is all too easily sloughed off by Big-ID advocates). It is sheer dancing rhetoric to try to subsume all of those verbs under the single term ‘intelligent design’ as Murray does and also unnecessary.

    “The way that [read: Big-ID] design theorists get around this is to say something that basically comes down to, “organisms and artifacts are exactly alike, except for all the differences”. That’s weak tea, man.” – KN

    Yes, it is ‘weak tea!’

    Party-line Big-ID folks, however, seem to try to avoid KN’s #4 like a plague because it so accurately describes their position. Timaeus’ attempt to massage the dilemma in #73 was a failure because Timaeus himself doesn’t insist on the ‘scientificity’ of Big-ID theory and likewise doesn’t collapse ‘organisms’ into ‘artefacts.’ He doesn’t think dirt and slugs are ‘intelligent/Intelligent’ in the way that Big-ID theory would require them to be if it considered ‘Muliple Designers Theory’ (MDT). But most people here at UD are not as well-read about Big-ID theory as Timaeus or I and are seemingly not cognisant of the importance this difference makes. Or at least, they haven’t been willing to openly express themselves about it at UD so far.

    Some people here even think organisms are machines or that organisms contain machines simply because some people in biological sciences use mechanistic language to describe them. But Dembski has repeatedly stated that Big-ID theory is not a mechanistic theory. So, let’s relax folks, sit back and have some syrup with those Big-ID waffles and weak tea!

    “Naturalism is the intellectual pathology of our age. It artificially constricts the life of the mind and shuts down inquiry into the transcendent.” – W. Dembski

    “Like any Christian (and indeed any theist), I believe that the world has been created by God, and hence “intelligently designed.” The hallmark of intelligent design [read: Big-ID theory], however, is the claim that this can be shown scientifically; I’m dubious about that.” – A. Plantinga

    Along with Plantinga and many others, I am dubious about Big-ID theory’s scientistic (read: natural-science-only) claims. Repeat: Big-ID is properly understood as a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation.

    p.s. perfectly on cue appealing to the Big-ID community/movement by a wide-marginal figure; when Timaeus writes “Dear UD People” he actually really means “Dear Comrades! Don’t think for yourselves, just join with Timaeus.” V.J. Torley already agrees that Big-ID vs. small-id is a meaningful distinction. So, yet another ‘big tent’ dilemma at UD for Timaeus to try to negotiate among the movement that he denies being part of from the margins.

  261. G, given your seemingly single minded obsession with ID’s (or is that id’s) theological implications and positioning, does it not strike you as extremely strange that Darwinism itself has a theological, not scientific, basis that is crucial to its perceived success as a argument, or has this little imbalance in how you ‘fairly’ view the overall evidence escaped your notice? Why is this matter not also important to you?

  262. Hi Timaeus @ 258

    I asked you to quote a criticism of ID on the grounds that the genome contains too much non-functional DNA.

    You didn’t, and instead referred me to bornagain77′s quotes. I read them as well as cross-referencing several of the original books. No such criticism was there.

    Now I’ve read the reference in The Language of God. No such criticism was there, either.

    What I’m asking for is a quote like what you originally claimed — where a critic attacks ID for holding that the bulk of the genome is functional, on the grounds that (in the critic’s view) the bulk of the genome is non-functional. I’ve looked at several references you pointed out and they don’t say that. I’m not going to run around any more looking at links and books — please just quote the relevant words here on this site.

    Thanks

  263. I have read Gregory’s further assault upon me in 260.

    In it I see a discussion of the views of Gingerich, Torley, Dembski, Murray, and many other people whose views I did not undertake to assess, and I see a continual return to a conceptual distinction between “big ID” and “small id” which most people here have confessed they find unclear, and which I have already indicated that I have no wish to employ.

    What I do not see is a theoretical criticism of the position on intelligent design that I articulated in 200.

    A theoretical criticism does not consist of citations of people who disagree with the account being criticized. A theoretical criticism consists of arguments against that account. I would like to know why my views — on the subject of design in nature and its detectability and on the authentic Christian theology of creation — are incorrect, inadequate, or internally contradictory. I don’t care how many people disagree with me. Truth is not settled by polls, not even if the people polled have Ph.D.s. I want to see the arguments.

    When Rousseau criticized Hobbes, did he cite twenty other thinkers who said Hobbes was wrong, in order to show that Hobbes was wrong? No, he gave his own critique of Hobbes’s position. When Aristotle criticized Plato, did he rest his argument on the fact that the Atomists and Sophists disagreed with Plato? No, he did not. He provided his own criticisms and his own alternative. When Darwin criticized Paley, did he do so by means of a literature survey showing that the majority of contemporary zoologists considered Paley’s thought to be old-fashioned and out of date? No, he criticized teleological thinking based on his own observations and reasoning, and provided an alternate explanation of his own to the apparent design in living things.

    I’ve given some reasons for thinking that design in nature is detectable. I’ve given my general reason for rejecting the common TE position on design. The challenge to Gregory is this: can he write a coherent critique of my position, without appealing to the opinion of other people? If he can, I am interested in his critique. I would gladly read and reply to five or six coherent paragraphs that directly address my arguments concerning design in nature, and contain no mention of the name or views of any other author.

  264. 266

    Timaeus @257:

    I think that it’s basically a case of broken communication between two entirely different conceptualizations. I think this often goes both ways in the ID/anti-ID debate; one side has a conceptualization that, when interpreting what the other side says, clearly indicates they are lying or being hypocritical or dishonest. But, really, from the other perspective, they are not, because they have a totally different conceptualization of .. well, just about everything.

    I think Gregory is certain of his interpretation/conceptualization (just as ID advocates often are), and probably finds it quite frustrating or infuriating when you say things that, in his mind, are clear cases of lying, or being cowardly, or waffling, etc. It’s like sharing a language where the words and phrases mean entirely different things to two different groups, and then trying to have a successful discussion.

    To Gregory, apparently, human ID and the ID that may have designed the universe are two entirely different things – categorically different (unless I’ve interpreted him incorrectly, which wouldn’t surprise me); to me, they would be the same thing – the actual, same commodity albeit on different scales.

    So, I wouldn’t be too upset – what you are saying probably just looks a lot to Gregory like what it looks to us when people refuse to admit there is an obvious difference between a pile of rocks and a battleship. You’re refusing to admit or agree to something that is, apparently, obvious from Gregory’s perspective.

    That isn’t to say that one view or the other, in such cases, isn’t the right view; it just goes to show you how powerful and tricky the mind can be.

  265. Of related note, I hold that it is impossible to rationally practice science in the first place without theological presuppositions of some sort. This ‘fact’ is abundantly testified to by the Christian Theistic presuppositions that undergirded the founding of modern science:

    The Origin of Science – commentary on Stanley Jaki’s work
    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/aug.....rigin.html

    The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity – book
    http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false

    The Great Debate: Does God Exist? – Justin Holcomb – audio of the 1985 debate available on the site
    Excerpt: The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight.,,,
    http://theresurgence.com/2012/.....-god-exist

    Where Darwinists try to skirt this issue, of the necessity of Theological presuppositions of some sort in order to rationally practice science, is that Darwinists presuppose certain Theodological premises about what a perfectly good and benevolent God should and should not do so as to make claims as to how God should and should not act (argument from evil), and to then try to argue that since their perceived violation of what a perfectly good and benevolent God should and should not do has been violated, then therefor undirected random processes, which can’t care for us, must be true.
    One problem, among many, with this line of argumentation, as Dr. Hunter has pointed out, is that one must hold that ‘natural evil’ (death, pain, and suffering) are objectively real, and which is a Theistic presupposition, in order to make the argument in the first place. Yet the success of the argument undermines the objective reality of natural evil that was presupposed thus making the argument internally self defeating.,, As Dr. Hunter puts it:

    “The strength of materialism is that it obviates the problem of evil altogether. God need not be reconciled with evil, because neither exists. Therefore the problem of evil is no problem at all.,,, And of course since there is no evil, the materialist must, ironically, not use evil to justify atheism. The problem of evil presupposes the existence of an objective evil-the very thing the materialist seems to deny. The argument (from Theodicy) that led to materialism is exhausted just when it is needed most. In other words, the problem of evil is only generated by the prior claims that evil exists. One cannot then conclude, with Dawkins, that there is ‘no evil and no good’ in the universe.,,,
    The fact that evolution’s acceptance hinges on a theological position would, for many, be enough to expel it from science. But evolution’s reliance on metaphysics is not its worst failing. Evolution’s real problem is not its metaphysics but its denial of its metaphysics.,,,
    Cornelius Hunter – Darwin’s God – pg. 154 & 159
    http://www.amazon.com/Darwins-.....1587430118

    Another foundational problem that is hidden within the materialistic/Darwinian framework, that undermines Darwinism from within, is their appeal to ‘randomness’ as the ultimate creator, yet presupposing randomness as the ultimate creator of life, and even of the universe itself, undermines our ability to rationally practice science in the first place (Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism: Boltzmann’s Brain).

    further notes;

    Random Chaos vs. Uniformity Of Nature – Presuppositional Apologetics – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6853139

    “Random: A Carefully Selected Word” Dr. Michael Behe – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-MuGUVWeFs

    Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness – Talbott – Fall 2011
    Excerpt: The situation calls to mind a widely circulated cartoon by Sidney Harris, which shows two scientists in front of a blackboard on which a body of theory has been traced out with the usual tangle of symbols, arrows, equations, and so on. But there’s a gap in the reasoning at one point, filled by the words, “Then a miracle occurs.” And the one scientist is saying to the other, “I think you should be more explicit here in step two.”
    In the case of evolution, I picture Dennett and Dawkins filling the blackboard with their vivid descriptions of living, highly regulated, coordinated, integrated, and intensely meaningful biological processes, and then inserting a small, mysterious gap in the middle, along with the words, “Here something random occurs.”
    This “something random” looks every bit as wishful as the appeal to a miracle. It is the central miracle in a gospel of meaninglessness, a “Randomness of the gaps,” demanding an extraordinarily blind faith. At the very least, we have a right to ask, “Can you be a little more explicit here?”
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....randomness

    Murray Eden, as reported in “Heresy in the Halls of Biology: Mathematicians Question Darwinism,” Scientific Research, November 1967, p. 64.
    “It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.” Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109.
    http://www.creationscience.com.....tes32.html

    Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Wolfgang Pauli on the Empirical Problems with Neo-Darwinism – Casey Luskin – February 27, 2012
    Excerpt: “In discussions with biologists I met large difficulties when they apply the concept of ‘natural selection’ in a rather wide field, without being able to estimate the probability of the occurrence in a empirically given time of just those events, which have been important for the biological evolution. Treating the empirical time scale of the evolution theoretically as infinity they have then an easy game, apparently to avoid the concept of purposesiveness. While they pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’” Wolfgang Pauli (pp. 27-28) -
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....56771.html

  266. Claudius:

    Collins grants, pro forma, that there may be uses for junk DNA that we have not discovered, but his left hand takes away what his right has given, because he puts the concession in this way: “*some small fraction* of them may play important regulatory roles” (136)– which implies that he thinks that a much larger fraction does not play such roles. In other words, he thinks (or thought at the time; maybe he is willing to eat crow in light of the devastating new report of last year) that “junk DNA” is essentially a valid concept, and that a large part, perhaps the majority, of the non-coding DNA is functionless.

    Now, the way he *uses* that is slightly different from the way Miller does, and Dawkins does. With Miller and Dawkins, it’s the traditional: “A smart designer wouldn’t put a lot of useless parts in his creation; but most of the DNA is useless; therefore, living things aren’t designed, but arose through flagrant jerry-building by random mutations and natural selection.” Collins gives the argument a slightly different twist: he doesn’t argue directly that the mere volume of junk DNA disproves ID. He argues — as you can see if you read the passage — that the placement and character of some of the junk DNA can be used to infer an evolutionary history which ID denies. (Bear in mind that in his writing Collins usually conflates ID and creationism.) Still, he does endorse the existence of a high proportion of truly junk DNA, and he does use the presence of a lot of junk against ID. But I concede that his argument is a bit different from the one I outlined. But as I already said, the one I outlined — found easily in Miller and Dawkins — is found all over the place. The fact that you haven’t seen the argument at all, let alone frequently, tells me that you are not nearly as well-versed in the anti-ID literature as I am.

    If you aren’t inclined to take my word about the existence of the argument, all I can tell you is to read Wells’s book (which you should read anyway, if you are going to argue responsibly about junk DNA, since he has a Ph.D. in developmental biology and has made an extensive study of the technical literature on the subject) and follow the references, and read the many entries about junk DNA on the Discovery site, which often provide references. You will find quotations in both places as well. I’m not going to take the time to type out the quotations.

    There is no doubt that the argument has been made, and made frequently, whether you have encountered it or not. And that’s the last I’ll write in defense of the mere fact that the argument has been made.

    In any case, you have already agreed that the argument, *if* made, is a bad argument, so we are not in disagreement about the theoretical issue. Eventually, when you discover that I am right that the argument is commonly made, we should be in complete accord. Best wishes.

  267. Enjoy your waffles, syrup and weak tea, Timaeus. That’s the obvious level of your intellectual integrity displayed here in this thread. No ‘assault,’ just honest words and sympathy for your obvious contradiction. Flip-flop Timaeus! Yes – Big ID and small id makes sense; no it doesn’t – yes it does, not it doesn’t…

    There is no Big-ID theory to validate W.J. Murray’s use of ‘intelligent design’ (in the OP) as he does. That’s simply an IDM-inconvenient fact.

    Discussing Timaeus’ marginal views about Big-ID/small-id ‘design in nature’ would not and could not serve to change this fact, so I won’t press that diversion here. It is clearly not something worth a busy person wasting their time on to discover what a perpetual Big-ID proponent sock-puppet named ‘Timaeus’ thinks. Timaeus has ducked so many direct challenges in the past and continues to do so, such that ‘bravery’ and ‘courage’ are not words we could possibly associate with him.

    A guy who won’t even admit openly that he’s changed his song, when the evidence is clear to follow in the links above, that he first supported distinguishing ‘Big ID’ and ‘small id’ and now denies his own previous logic. What a delusional card!

    “Like any Christian (and indeed any theist), I believe that the world has been created by God, and hence “intelligently designed.” The hallmark of intelligent design [read: Big-ID theory], however, is the claim that this can be shown scientifically; I’m dubious about that.” – A. Plantinga

    KF: #155 translation “onlookers = comrades.” We still await your numerical calculation of FSCO/I for the three examples above – just the numbers please. Torley obviously disagrees with you about the legitimacy of Big-ID vs. small-id. I’m quite sure that you won’t provide the numbers and I’m not interested in reading any other text you produce here or on your blog that doesn’t answer my very simple question.

    @ #261 – I’ve outgrown ‘Darwinism.’ Once you’ve understood this, and it may take many years, you’ll realise how ridiculous and self-inflicting your strategy toward me is. ‘(neo-)Darwinism’ has a worldview, not a theological basis. Darwin was not a theist.

    But Big-ID is still claimed by IDM leadership to be a ‘natural-science-only’ theory, which is supposed to (wink-nudge comrades) have nothing to say about worldviews. Do you honestly not see that as a (fragmented knowledge) problem?

  268. 270

    Also the pervasive personal and general invective about character and motivations in Gregory’s posts aren’t helping any.

  269. C you stated:

    If anyone claimed, seven years ago, that the mainstream scientific consensus was that the vast majority of non-coding DNA was functionless, then they were wrong, as has been amply documented.

    By the same token, if anyone claims today that the mainstream scientific consensus has ever been that the majority of non-coding DNA is functionless, then they are wrong too.

    And you were shown has this ‘prediction’ was born directly out of Darwinian theory in population genetics. You were also given ample evidence of Darwinists using this line of argumentation, for decades, to argue against Theism. Why do you deny what is obvious? Are you trying to play word games? I find you to be disingenuous to the facts. For crying out loud, Larry Moran and other hard core neo-Darwinists are still arguing, to the best of my knowledge, that the majority of the DNA is junk and that ENCODE is mistaken in their conclusion of widespread, super complex, functionality. ,,, If you are trying to defend Darwinism you are not doing a very good job, but if you are trying to undemine your own credibility to be objective in these matters, well than you are doing excellent job!

  270. The hallmark of intelligent design [read: Big-ID theory], however, is the claim that this can be shown scientifically; I’m dubious about that.” – A. Plantinga

    Fine, so, we’re trying to become more clear, less dubious, without someone telling us by fiat that we’re wasting our time. It’s our time, and it’s what we’re interested in. What’s your problem? You’ve done all the thinking and proven it can’t be done? Show us.

  271. Mr. Murray:

    Thanks for your comments regarding Gregory. I am glad that my arguments don’t strike you as polemical.

    On the point you made about human and divine design being similar, that is a good one to make, because it is one stressed over and over again by Steve Fuller, and Steve Fuller is someone that Gregory greatly admires and promotes. One would therefore think that Fuller could be a bridge by which Gregory and ID could be brought into harmony. But for some reason Gregory does not appear to agree with Fuller’s thought on “univocal predication.”

    I have asked Gregory to clarify his apparent objections to Fuller on that point, but have never been successful in eliciting an answer. I think perhaps Gregory’s distrust of me causes him to think that I am trying to “trap” him — but in fact my confusion is genuine. I don’t see how Fuller’s position can be taken in any other way than your own position — divine and human design are essentially of the same character. And I embrace Fuller’s position on that particular point, which should put me on Gregory’s side. But apparently it doesn’t. I don’t know why.

  272. @ W.J. Murray #264 – Thanks, for this. I didn’t see it before I posted #267.

    This is true: I have offered ‘Timaeus’ (PhD in religious studies and western philosophy, as told here) to publically debate me, voice-recorded, with conditions he would likely agree to. I repeat that challenge again. He has refused this and prefers to hide behind a mask at UD and elsewhere (about which I’m not allowed to speak).

    The waffling by Timaeus is clearly evident in this thread. Follow the links, follow the evidence. Timaeus has changed his tune. Torley supports me and Gingerich and Davis and Murphy and Isaac and Barr; Timaeus now rejects the intentional clarity of our distinction.

    As for courage, please judge for yourselves. I was recommended at the DI’s summer program (along with 40+ others) to hide my identity, because of what is now called the ‘Expelled Syndrome.’ Fear – the city is rank with it.

    Once I learned that such deception was not necessary – and this was better understood when the DI cancelled its ‘Intelligent Design in Humanities and Social Sciences’ program – I understood that being fearful for telling the truth was not the best option. Timaeus, the man that he actually is behind his on-line mask, is still caught behind this masquerade wall. Again, I honour my agreement with Denyse not to try to ‘out’ him; these are innocent facts that are unproblematic to say here.

    “To Gregory, apparently, human ID and the ID that may have designed the universe are two entirely different things – categorically different (unless I’ve interpreted him incorrectly, which wouldn’t surprise me); to me, they would be the same thing – the actual, same commodity albeit on different scales.” – W.J. Murray

    Thanks for that. Yes, you seem to have interpreted me correctly. A phone call could likely clear this up. If you follow the links, you can find me to arrange this. Your position – “the same thing” – is one of ‘univocal predication’ between humanity and G-d. Feser and Fuller discuss this fruitfully but critically of the IDM in various ways.

    If you know of anyone who theorises about small-id ‘intelligent design’ using specifically that concept-duo, and not just ‘design theory’ (for which there are many non-Big-ID proponents), then please do let me know. I’ve been keeping an eye and ear open, but haven’t heard anything yet. And if John G. West is any indication, there won’t be a Big-ID theory of small-id anytime soon.

    Hopefully that helps to clarify my objection to your language of what seemed to be trying to validate the terms ‘intelligent design’ relating to human-made things with Big-ID theory that has *nothing* to do with human-made things.

    Gregory

    p.s. KF will of course protest, but without his ‘scientific’ numbers, his comments can be ignored.

  273. G you claim:

    @ #261 – I’ve outgrown ‘Darwinism.’ Once you’ve understood this, and it may take many years, you’ll realise how ridiculous and self-inflicting your strategy toward me is. ‘(neo-)Darwinism’ has a worldview, not a theological basis. Darwin was not a theist.

    Au contraire my self inflated egotistical one: Darwin was a (A)Theist of the worst sort, Darwin ‘knew’ how God should and should not act:

    “One of the great ironies of the atheist mind is that no-one is more cock-sure of exactly what God is like, exactly what God would think, exactly what God would do, than the committed atheist. Of course he doesn’t believe in God, but if God did exist, he knows precisely what God would be like and how God would behave. Or so he thinks”,,,”
    Eric – UD Blogger

    To deny that Darwinism has a theological basis further reveals your ignorance on the matter

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species – May 2011
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

    The Descent of Darwin – Pastor Joe Boot – (The Theodicy of Darwinism) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKJqk7xF4-g

  274. The role of theology in current evolutionary reasoning – Paul A. Nelson – Biology and Philosophy, 1996, Volume 11, Number 4, Pages 493-517
    Excerpt: Evolutionists have long contended that the organic world falls short of what one might expect from an omnipotent and benevolent creator. Yet many of the same scientists who argue theologically for evolution are committed to the philosophical doctrine of methodological naturalism, which maintains that theology has no place in science. Furthermore, the arguments themselves are problematical, employing concepts that cannot perform the work required of them, or resting on unsupported conjectures about suboptimality. Evolutionary theorists should reconsider both the arguments and the influence of Darwinian theological metaphysics on their understanding of evolution.
    http://www.springerlink.com/co.....34/?MUD=MP

    Here, at about the 55:00 minute mark in the following video, Phillip Johnson sums up his, in my opinion, excellent lecture by noting that the refutation of his book, ‘Darwin On Trial’, in the Journal Nature, the most prestigious science journal in the world, was a theological argument about what God would and would not do and therefore Darwinism must be true, and the critique from Nature was not a refutation based on any substantiating scientific evidence for Darwinism that one would expect to be brought forth in such a prestigious venue to support such a, supposedly, well supported scientific theory:

    Darwinism On Trial (Phillip E. Johnson) – lecture video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwj9h9Zx6Mw

    And in the following quote, Dr. John Avise explicitly uses Theodicy to try to make the case for Darwinism:

    It Is Unfathomable That a Loving Higher Intelligence Created the Species – Cornelius Hunter – June 2012
    Excerpt: “Approximately 0.1% of humans who survive to birth carry a duplicon-related disability, meaning that several million people worldwide currently are afflicted by this particular subcategory of inborn metabolic errors. Many more afflicted individuals probably die in utero before their conditions are diagnosed. Clearly, humanity bears a substantial health burden from duplicon-mediated genomic malfunctions. This inescapable empirical truth is as understandable in the light of mechanistic genetic operations as it is unfathomable as the act of a loving higher intelligence. [112]” – Dr. John Avise – “Inside The Human Genome”
    There you have it. Evil exists and a loving higher intelligence wouldn’t have done it that way.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....it-is.html

    What’s more ironic is that Dr. John Avise’s theological argumentation from mutations for Darwinism turns out to be, in fact (without Darwinian Theological blinders on), a very powerful ‘scientific’ argument against Darwinism:
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....7430067209

    In this following video Dr. William Lane Craig is surprised to find that evolutionary biologist Dr. Ayala uses theological argumentation in his book to support Darwinism and invites him to present evidence, any evidence at all, that Darwinism can do what he claims it can:

    Refuting The Myth Of ‘Bad Design’ vs. Intelligent Design – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIzdieauxZg

    And, to point out once again, the theological ‘bad design’ argument, which Darwinists unwittingly continually use to try to make their case, is actually its own independent discipline of study within Theology itself called Theodicy:

    Is Your Bod Flawed by God? – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: Theodicy (the discipline in Theism of reconciling natural evil with a good God) might be a problem for 19th-century deism and simplistic natural theology, but not for Biblical theology. It was not a problem for Jesus Christ, who was certainly not oblivious to the blind, the deaf, the lepers and the lame around him. It was not a problem for Paul, who spoke of the whole creation groaning and travailing in pain till the coming redemption of all things (Romans 8).
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100214a

    Did God Create Evil? (William Dembski) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCVYqg6TFmA

    Finding a Good God in an Evil World – William Dembski
    http://www.designinference.com.....of_xty.pdf

  275. “What’s your problem?” – es58

    Conflation of small-id with Big-ID. Go back and read KN’s #4 above. Likewise, read the OP again. The apparent claim (which perhaps W.J. Murray can clarify for us) that the terms small-id ‘intelligent design’ have anything at all to do with Big-ID ‘Intelligent Design’ theory. They don’t for anyone who isn’t trying to universalise ‘ID’.

    There are no IDM-Big-ID theorists of small-id. KF’s speculative FSCO/I claim fails because of this. On that topic, the jury is already out; the Discovery Institute stopped trying to promote Big-ID to university students in the humanities and social sciences.

    Please respect this fact.

  276. 278

    Claudius to Timaues:
    I asked you to quote a criticism of ID on the grounds that the genome contains too much non-functional DNA.

    The human genome is littered with pseudogenes, gene fragments, “orphaned” genes, “junk” DNA, and so many repeated copies of pointless DNA sequences that it cannot be attributed to anything that resembles intelligent design. . . . In fact, the genome resembles nothing so much as a hodgepodge of borrowed, copied, mutated, and discarded sequences and commands that has been cobbled together by millions of years of trial and error against the relentless test of survival. It works, and it works brilliantly; not because of intelligent design, but because of the great blind power of natural selection. – Ken Miller

  277. Gregory wrote:

    “A guy who won’t even admit openly that he’s changed his song, when the evidence is clear to follow in the links above, that he first supported distinguishing ‘Big ID’ and ‘small id’ and now denies his own previous logic.”

    This is a false charge. I openly admitted — as anyone can read above — that I *did* at one time make use of a big-ID versus small-id distinction. I also explained above that I did not intend that distinction (useful in the original context of a blog discussion) to become some sort of official definition binding upon all future participants in discussions of the nature of intelligent design, and I indicated that I was not pleased to see Gregory (or anyone else) using it in that fashion.

    There has been no “flip-flop” in my position. I simply have determined, based on my sad experience since offering my tentative definition, that discussions over whether someone or something is big-ID or small-id quickly degenerate into hair-splitting terminological debates, with everyone asking everyone else exactly what is included in big and small ID/id, and so much time is spent wrangling over the meaning of the terminology that the substantial question — is design detectable in nature, or not? — is entirely lost from sight. So I’m not going to bicker about whether or not Gingerich or someone else endorses “ID” or “id” etc. I will address only the substantial issue.

    I have laid out my position here; I think that design in nature is detectable, even to someone who accepts no religious revelation. If Gregory disagrees with that, he can tell me why. He should be able to do that without ever mentioning the name of any other author, and without ever discussing whether ID should be capitalized or lower-cased. All he has to do is show me that the evidence for design in nature is lacking. He has not done that. He has not even tried to do that. He has complained about capitalization, he has littered his replies with scare quotes around virtually every crucial term, so that it is hard to tell which terms he endorses and which he rejects, and he has consistently made arguments from authority, while avoiding all discussion of cells, genomes, probability theory, information theory, teleological arguments, etc. He clearly does not wish to talk about nature or what can be inferred by it. He clearly wants to talk about the opinions of authors.

    I don’t want to talk about the opinions of authors. I want to talk about nature and what can be inferred from it. If Gregory does not want to have that conversation, he doesn’t have to; but he cannot claim to have refuted my position if he opts out of engaging with it.

    My position is stated in 200 above. I will respond politely to all non-polemical criticisms of that position. It’s Gregory’s choice: he can offer non-polemical, content-focused criticism, eschewing name-dropping and concentrating on substance, and get a reply from me; or he can continue to write polemics, talk about all the authors he has read, avoid the substance of my argument, and be met with silence. I’m indifferent as to which he chooses.

  278. Thanks for the Miller quotation, UB.

  279. 281

    Claudius to Timaues:
    I asked you to quote a criticism of ID on the grounds that the genome contains too much non-functional DNA.

    Perfect design would truly be the sign of a skilled and intelligent designer. Imperfect design is the mark of evolution … we expect to find, in the genomes of many species, silenced, or ‘dead,’ genes: genes that once were useful but are no longer intact or expressed … the evolutionary prediction that we’ll find pseudogenes has been fulfilled—amply … our genome—and that of other species—are truly well populated graveyards of dead genes - Jerry Coyne

  280. 282

    Claudius to Timaeus:

    I asked you to quote a criticism of ID on the grounds that the genome contains too much non-functional DNA.

    We have to wonder why the Intelligent Designer added to our genome junk DNA, repeated copies of useless DNA, orphan genes, gene fragments, tandem repeats, and pseudo¬genes, none of which are involved directly in the making of a human being. In fact, of the entire human genome, it appears that only a tiny percentage is actively involved in useful protein production. Rather than being intelligently designed, the human genome looks more and more like a mosaic of mutations, fragment copies, borrowed sequences, and discarded strings of DNA that were jerry-built over millions of years of evolution. – Michael Shermer

  281. StephenB @250:

    Thanks for the clarification.

    I purposely referred to “ID” in general, not some made-up “Big” or “Small” ID, like Gregory does. Intelligent design does not assume a transcendent designer, so Gregory is off base. Unless he is making up his own definitions, in which case his definitions don’t match what most other people are talking about, which may be the source of so much disconnect. I think you’re right that his definitions aren’t helpful.

    Anyway, I don’t find it useful to spend a lot of time on his Big/Small ID discussion which he pushes at every opportunity and don’t intend to do so. Others seem to have more patience for that than I. Just wanted to flag the definitional disconnect.

  282. Onlookers: Observe how the thread at this time is increasingly embroiled in the ins and outs of a side tracked poisonous atmosphere debate. That is the effect of what G has done and how. I repeat, his distinction disregards what those who are doing science in a design frame are doing and fails to respect the basic principle of respecting the terms used and the ways they are used by practitioners. Beyond that the snide sniping at the undersigned largely came about after I took time to show a live example of how a metric of FSCO/I can be used in a real situation. Going back to the main issue, we have a simple question: are we or are we not willing to acknowledge that there is something sharply and recognisably distinct between a battleship and a pile or rocks that points to its cause? KF

  283. 285

    Gregory,

    I realize that you operate from a “Big ID vs small id” perspective, but I don’t (as far as I know). That’s not to say I’m oblivious to the social agenda of the ID community – I’m generally supportive of it. That’s also not to say that I don’t have a position on whether or not there is a God – I’m what I like to refer to as a rational theist. My concept of “god” is pretty much limited to what I outlined in my first post on UD about whether or not atheism could be supported rationally. I have no particular religion I adhere to.

    This is the first I’ve heard of “Big ID vs small id”. For me, the ID scientific argument is simply one of inference to best explanation. If the best explanation is that something was intelligently designed (meaning, any explanation of it is implausible without an intelligent agency matching means to an end), then that’s what the current, best, provisional explanation should include. As I pointed out in my O.P., such a designation matters to the ongoing research. It’s has a practical value.

    I don’t see how this is conceptually different when one extrapolates from known human artifacts, to hypothetical alien “artifacts” (objects that may or may not be intelligently designed), to known cases of humans designing biological features, to hypothetical or contested cases of biological design; from known cases of humans designing environments, to proposing that an intelligence designed the universe based on the fine tuning evidence. Biological stuff, and universal constants, are just more “stuff” and features that may or may not require ID in their explanation.

    I don’t see why religious or theological positions and views should matter in this regard. I honestly don’t see what the issue is. You are apparently looking at all of this from a position that is entirely outside of my perspective.

    I’m the one making this argument. I agree, I rarely see anyone making arguments about human and/or hypothetical alien “artifacts”, but I assumed that this was because they felt it was too trivial a point to make, not that it was not an example of the kind of ID they were talking about.

    As I said, I also consider it a trivial point, but the very triviality of it is what makes it such a good way to expose what I consider to be the utter intransigence of the anti-ID community, where they will not even admit that a battleship is (1) intelligently designed, and (2)is quantifiably distinct from a pile of rocks (in terms of ID).

    However, it appears that to you this argument is not only “wrong”, it’s so far off it’s “not even wrong” (so to speak), in terms of what you think the actual ID proponents are arguing.

    I’m actually very interested in a nuts and bolts explanation of why my view of what ID is and means is so categorically wrong. I don’t want to be directed to some other people or be asked to read and decipher something else. I don’t really care what Behe or Meyer or Dembski “say” ID is, or is about; I’m not making an argument about their views or opinions. Perhaps my views and my argument is not at all what the “real” ID argument is; but then, so what? I’m not making that argument about ID; I’m making this one.

    So, maybe I’m using the term ID in a way that is far outside of how Behe, Dembski and Meyer use it; but from what I’ve read, that doesn’t appear to me to be the case. And, IMO, this might be where conceptual frameworks break down ability to communicate; you might read their works and be utterly certain they mean X; I read them, and I’m certain they mean Y, and even attempts to reconcile our views through quotes fail because that does nothing to address how our different conceptual frameworks interpret quotes we’re both looking at. That’s when frustration and accusations of dishonesty, hypocrisy, etc. basically ends civility.

    My view is that ID (the ability of an intelligent agency to match means to achieve an end) is a commodity that can (but not always) produce things that have distinct, telltale signs (whether they are rigorously defined or not) that are not known to be produced by any other commodity.

    My view is that this distinction is often obvious (battleship vs rocks), and that we can easily posit obvious examples of non-human ID (alien “artifacts” – objects that might be intelligently designed). Furthermore, I think that his distinction can be usefully quantified and applied towards findings of “best explanation”. To go even further, if the application of that method of quantification indicates that the simplest possible organic cells required ID, so what? If it implies that the universe itself required ID, again, so what?

    To me, it’s no different than saying that something requires gravity or heat as a necessary aspect of the explanation; why is ID a verboten commodity that many stonewall any attempt to quantify in any useful way? ID is a label for [whatever processes are involved as a purposeful agency matches means towards an end], just as “gravity” is a label for [whatever is going on that produces the apparent mutual attraction of masses].

    According to you, (if I’m correct), it’s because, for some reason, attempting to quantify ID as “just another scientific, explanatory commodity” is somehow a categorical error in comparison to, say, “gravity” or “heat” or “water erosion”.

    As I said, I’m interested in the debate, and understanding your view, but IMO this is why one must be committed to the principle of charitable reading; people often have insurmountably different conceptual frameworks that interpret things very differently on a consistent basis.

  284. Gregory wrote:

    “I have offered ‘Timaeus’ … to publically debate me, voice-recorded, with conditions he would likely agree to. I repeat that challenge again. He has refused this and prefers to hide behind a mask.”

    I recall no offer of a “voice-recorded” debate, and in any case, I would not accept such an offer. I have no intention of revealing my civilian identity in the near future. However, I am available for internet debate as Timaeus any time, and I have proved that by responding hundreds of times to Gregory’s arguments on this site.

    It is not necessary for debaters to know each other’s civilian identity in order to have a profitable debate. In fact, knowing personal information about the other side often gets in the way of proper debate, because personal information often tempts people to start imputing motivations to the person on the other side, when arguments, not motivations, are what need to be attended to.

    Nor is it necessary for the reader to know the civilian identities of the debaters in order to assess a debate. If you look at Telic Thoughts, where “Mike Gene” and “nullasalus” and many others have debated over the years, the readers have never complained that the debate suffers because they don’t know the real identities of the combatants. They measure the debaters by their arguments, not by their biographies, formal qualifications, etc.

    If Gregory is sincere about wanting to debate me, he can respond right here, to my post #200 above, in accord with my challenge (#277) — stick to the issues, avoid the personal, avoid name-dropping and quoting authorities, argue the science, argue the philosophy, argue the theology.

    The person who is interested in truth focuses on the argument, not on the person. If Gregory is really interested in determining the truth or falsehood of the proposition, “design in nature is detectable,” he will debate that proposition with me here, and will drop all discussion of people’s identities.

    #200 above — I await Gregory’s reply.

  285. 287

    #284

    If Gregory is really interested in determining the truth or falsehood of the proposition, “design in nature is detectable,” he will debate that proposition with me here

    Good luck with that. After what may now be dozens of attempts to engage Gregory on the material evidence of that proposition, he has thus far been amazingly consistent.

    He avoids it like the plague.

  286. Folks:

    We are now well off track.

    Let us take up WJM’s thoughts on what design theory is, and his focus on a specific simple case that can break a log-jam of polarisation.

    From my general knowledge of the design theory tought over the past decade or so, it is plain to me that WJM has accurately summarised the core In concept, simply and sufficiently exhaustively the view and scientifically orients school of thought, that it is profitable to ask whether there are signs in objects that allow us to identify major classes of cause at work, specifically chance, necessity and intelligence. Second, a particular school of thought and paradigm, that has concluded that yes it is profitable and yes, there are certain signs that can be arranged in such a way as to further specify scientific investigations, per what we could call a per-aspect explanatory filter.

    That almost looks trivial, until you understand the context, where since the C19, there has been an increasing tendency to restrict science to naturalistic explanations, perhaps best captured in the English title for Monod’s c 1971 book: Chance and Necessity. But, if in fact there are signs that cell based life, major body plans and the fine tuned balance of the cosmos that enables such cell based life rooted in Carbon chemistry and aqueous medium, then that revolutionises our view of the origin of life and beyond, the cosmos.

    Notice, the direction of reasoning used: from an epistemic principle to methodological issues to results to implications. That is important, as it underscores that it is not that he principle of design was injected as an a priori from the outset, but that the possibility being considered, and in light of tested signs, it is a credible explanation.

    I get the feeling that a lot of people are not comfortable with such an inference to best explanation reasoning process, and wish instead to invert it, or given their own strong inclinations, do automatically and unreflectively invert it.

    Such should consult the history of the roots of origins sciences and the discussions on the elaboration of the concept of the logic of abduction.

    Until and unless this is done, no progress is possible.

    And in the case of the sort of thing that has gone on at Wikipedia as I exposed in this thread, it can reach a point where there is failure of duties of care sufficient to be guilty of constructing false narratives in the teeth of duties of care and means of doing better, and seeking advantage from the false being perceived as true.

    Let us do better than this.

    And in so doing, let us ask, what is the difference between a battleship and a pile of ore-rocks.

    Then, let us reflect on where that leads.

    KF

  287. William,

    Your argument seems to be that some human made things-such as battleships-belong to a class of ‘designed’ objects, and that we can identify other, non-human made things as belonging to that class.

    I think what Gregory (and other non IDists) are arguing is that there is no categorical distinction between ‘designed’ and ‘not-designed’ things.

    Thought experiment:
    You’re part of a team of computer scientists building a robot that will be deployed on a distant planet. The robot has one mission: Look for objects that are designed, and report back to earth when it has found one.

    How do you program the robot to identify designed objects?

  288. 290

    LYO,

    Your argument seems to be that some human made things-such as battleships-belong to a class of ‘designed’ objects, and that we can identify other, non-human made things as belonging to that class.

    I think what Gregory (and other non IDists) are arguing is that there is no categorical distinction between ‘designed’ and ‘not-designed’ things.

    I think WMJ is making the point that in one breath ID opponents will say there is no categorical distinction between ‘designed’ and ‘not-designed’ things, then in the next breath, happily admit to the obvious difference between a battleship and a pile of rocks. Its a curious dance.

    P.S. As for your specific claim about that categorical distinction, you might consider comment #171, and ask yourself if a unique (coherently identifiable) material condition – one which is only observed in a singular type of material event – provides such a category.

  289. 291

    How do you program the robot to identify designed objects?

    What have researchers programmed the computers at SETI to look for?

    When we sent voyager out into space, what was the information on it meant to do, if we didn’t expect alien races to be able to comprehend that it was from an intelligent species that designed the information?

    I would program the robot to look for well-formed geometric patterns (squares, circles, triangles, especially when carved into hard materials (stone or metal) or as markings; repetition of kinds of patterns on surfaces of different materials; materials not known to exist without intelligent manufacturing processes; well-formed stacked or conjoined blocks; woven fabrics; machinist markings; smooth panes of any material that keep a consistent width several inches long, especially when having right or 45 degree angles; spheres; objects of hard substances, like stone, that appear in several locations with identical features, or which are placed in grids or other patterns, etc.

    That’s just off the top of my head. Give me a few days and I can probably come up with a much better list.

  290. Timaeus,

    I used to comment here frequently and happened to come across this exchange by chance since I rarely come here any more. About four years ago I made a file of your comments after your set of responses to ASA at the request of Ted Davis, They were the best summation of the ID position and refutation of the supporters of naturalistic evolution that existed at that time that I had seen.

    I am glad that you are still slaying the dragons out there of I should say sophistry since I believe you are a classical scholar. You or someone else should sum up your exchanges over time since every time I read one they are substantive, coherent and very clear.

    So a challenge to you and the editors here is to compile a “Best of Timaeus.” Maybe it already exists but if it doesn’t someone should make links to your best posts.

  291. LYO, It has of course been pointed out previously and above that being human is neither necessary nor sufficient to be an intelligent designer: e.g. (as has been long since pointed out) being human does not equip one to design a battleship or a computer or a first rate audio amp etc., and beavers — albeit limited — are quite capable of designing and implementing complex dams suited to particular sites and flow conditions. It has been further pointed out that if we were to say run into a star battleship partly buried under the foot of an avalanche on Mars, the lack of humanness in its evident creators would have no impact on our ability to distinguish it from the rocks burying it. What is significant in the long since past sell-by date objection, is exactly how it is so desperately clung to, having been corrected over and over again on the merits. That very intransigence is telling us just how little objectors to the design inference on evident signs are clinging to. KF

  292. Jerry @ 290:

    I remember you as a frequent poster from two or three (or was it four or five?) years back. It seems to me that I agreed with your positions more often than not. It’s very kind of you to offer such compliments to me.

    It would probably be thought of as egocentric for me to compile a “best of Timaeus.” And probably my comments make more sense in conversational context than pulled out and collected. The only immediate suggestion I have is for people to search my name in these UD archives and on the archives for the old ASA list (where Ted Davis allowed me to guest-post), find threads on which I’ve participated, and read them in context. In fact, that’s what I have to do myself, when I’m trying to remember some old argument I posted! I wish I had a topical index of my own writings, so I could find things faster!

    You said that you rarely come here anymore. I understand that people’s focus can change over time. Still, you might want to check out the columns here by Vincent Torley. They are often extremely good, and very well-researched. For the last year or so, he has been one of my top reasons for keeping up with the site. And there are some other new people here, who were not writing in your day. Have a look at some of their stuff.

    Thanks again for your kind comments.

  293. lastyearon:

    Thought experiment:
    You’re part of a team of computer scientists building a robot that will be deployed on a distant planet. The robot has one mission: Look for objects that are designed, and report back to earth when it has found one.

    How do you program the robot to identify designed objects?

    You program it to look for signs of counterflow-

    Counterflow refers to things running contrary to what, in the relevant sense, would (or might) have resulted or occurred had nature operated freely Del Ratzsch in “Nature, Design and Science” page 5

  294. Natural selection must be a nonsense, in that selection implies an act of the will of a living creature. Unless naturalists posit Mother Nature as the volitional agent, it makes no sense.

    The plain fact is that they have absolutely no vocabulary with which to designate their core tenets, other than such as predicate intelligence and will (sometimes combined in extended form to create a design or plan, ipso facto, intelligent), thus self-refuting.

    They are the ones who will not tolerate the notion of imponderable mysteries, and yet cannot reconcile plain matters of fact, even at the level of coherent, descriptive language.

  295. I would just like to add a word of support here for Timaeus.

    I have been keeping an eye on this thread from the beginning and it became very plain to see that Gregory isn’t so much interested in arguing the science of this topic but trying to make a fool of Timaeus. It has indeed been one of the saddest exchanges I have seen thus far.

    Good for you Timaeus for keeping it civil, I applaud your patience.

    Also I can’t help but think that Gregory’s constant use of ‘Big ID’ and ‘little id’ is very simply a foolhardy attempt to get it somehow established into the dilaogue here as some major relevant point, when in actual fact it is a rather silly concept.

    I may not be a scientist, or for that matter have a brilliant understanding of the major talking points here at UD, but I can spot nonesense when I see it.

    Therefore can someone please explain to me why there should be such a song and dance about this ‘Big ID’ and ‘little id’ when design is design whether the designer happens to be God or man?

    I would also like to thank Upright BiPed and WJ Murray for their support of Timaeus. I have to say I like to see courtesy used in these forums, and those who do not being pulled up for it.

    Enjoying the discussion guys :o)

  296. Sorry, I feel I had better rephrase this comment as it wasn’t what I intended “foolhardy attempt to get it somehow established into the dilaogue here as some major relevant point, when in actual fact it is a rather silly concept.”

    The concept of course is not silly, what I meant is that Gregory’s use of it as some major issue has become rather silly.

    Thanks.

  297. Thanks for your words of support, PeterJ.

  298. “There simply is no Big-ID theory of human-made things!” – Gregory

    Likewise, there is no logically or coherently quantifiable FSCO/I of human-made things. KF’s failure is a case in point. Listen folks, if you have not yet closed your ears to reason!

    Discovery Institute agrees with the above claim. This is witnessed in dropping their previous Summer Program. They came to realise that positive Big-ID in small-id fields would destroy them. Why shouldn’t you?

    Yet here in this thread, Timaeus, PeterJ and William J. Murray seem to disagree amongst themselves and wish to promote ‘universal designism’ – because they cannot agree upon things that aren’t ‘designed/Designed’. If they did agree, then let them list those things here. No answer to this will be forthcoming – typical of Timaeus’ gamesmanship.

    As it is, they have no actual support for their gigantic presupposition that Big-D and small-d Design/design are equivalent. They are thus living in a pseudo-theoretical illusion. The message is: Don’t let logic, reason or critical thinking get in your way if you defend Big-ID theory, as if *everything* is ‘Designed’ AND that this can be proven ‘scientificially’.

    “Like any Christian (and indeed any theist), I believe that the world has been created by God, and hence “intelligently designed.” The hallmark of intelligent design [read: Big-ID theory], however, is the claim that this can be shown scientifically; I’m dubious about that.” – A. Plantinga

    Why is Plantinga ‘dubious about that,’ i.e. about how “this [Big-ID] can be shown scientifically”? Surely even if you don’t respect me (because I oppose Big-ID at a Big-ID venue), you nevertheless almost all respect Plantinga.

    PeterJ acknowledges that he is not a scholar, and thus that he is not a Big-ID/IDM leader. The leaders of the Big-ID/IDM are scholars, professors, PhDs. Yet he seems so personally confident in his own interpretation that he would call ‘silly’ the Big-ID vs. small-id distinction made by many scholars who share his same worldview. Why? I doubt he has a reasonable answer for this from the margins.

    So, please tell: who are the Big-ID theorists of human-made things? What texts should we read to discover this ‘scientific revolution’ in the study of human-made things because of Big-ID theory? There aren’t any. Silence from the IDM, accepting the truth of the situation.

    That’s called an “inference to the best explanation” and provides an example of “follow the evidence where it leads.” In this case it shows that Big-ID theory is irrelevant and meaningless when it comes to human-made things. Who would beg to differ at UD?! (KF is still silent without numbers for three examples questioned above. He will likely rail again with text, but offer no specific number or quantification.)

    And this doesn’t have anything to do with whether a person believes in G-d or not; it has to do with how deceptive they are willing to be towards themselves and to others with respect to the ‘universe’ of knowledge. How insistent are they in trying to ‘get natural science in their corner,’ in trying to be ‘naturalistic’ for Big-ID?

    With regard to trying to make a fool of Timaeus, that isn’t really hard; one just needs to read his own self-contradictory words (which he of course will deny, even against the evidence). He is the John Kerry – Flip-Flopper – on the margins of the IDM! This has been adequately proven by his words linked above in this thread.

    He once supported distinguishing Big-ID from small-id and now incoherently rejects it, trying to trick the UD list with flowery rhetoric as rhetoricians typically do. Probably if he had actually read Gingerich and Bejan and Barr (instead of just buying Big-ID-oriented books) and other fellow religionists who reject Big-ID he would better understand why they continue to hold their orthodox position. They are not afraid to be bullied by Big-ID propagandists when the traditional faith of their ancestors already accepts small-id (argument from design), but rejects the pseudo-rational claim that G-d’s works can be natural scientifically proven.

    ‘Nonsense’ and ‘silly,’ as PeterJ, Mong, BA77 and Axel call it, is the notion that claims the capitalisation instead of non-capitalisation of ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’ is not important and makes absolutely no impact on the IDM’s proto-scientific claims. That is obviously a communicatively primitive position to hold. An example: Does PeterJ display reading comprehension? No, he displays partisanship to IDists and doesn’t seem to care or even know that he rejects the work of faithful and validated scholars, including non-naturalists.

    I’ve been falsely accused here of being an ‘atheist.’ I am not. I’ve been falsely accused here of being a ‘materialist.’ I am not. Why does this not matter to Big-ID ideologues? at UD

    Big-IDists at UD will seemingly do anything, including putting words in people’s mouths, including impugning their motives, in order to try to be ‘revolutionaries,’ to try to spark a ‘scientific revolution.’ That is the IDM as reality records it here and now.

    My main point in addressing this thread is to challenge the way W.J. Murray used small-id ‘intelligent design’ in the OP. This was done in a way which I and others think is invalid. It is invalid because it equivocates between human-made and non-human-made things. For those of you who think that is not problematic, there are many more others who say that it is. And you’ve made no legitimate counter-argument other than ideologizing on behalf of the IDM about ‘secular America’.

    (cont’d)

  299. PJ:

    Good to hear your input (and pls see PS).

    The basic problem with the taxonomy put forward by G is that it is unfortunately loaded to the point of being tendentious. In part that reflects a largely successful but manifestly false accusation — Barbara Forrest’s “ID is creationism in a cheap tuxedo” — that has been embedded in conventional wisdom, in the teeth of facts and duties of care to the contrary. So, the options presented are creationism version A and version B, A being open and B being disguised.

    What is not being allowed is what ID is actually about as a scientific enterprise: asking, investigating on empirical and linked analytical grounds and answering the question as to whether, from evident features or aspects of an object etc, we may properly infer causal source in the context of chance, mechanical necessity and design as known causal factors.

    I have come tot he view that the problem is that ID, if left to its own devices, would succeed quite obviously, and that this would raise serious onward questions on the meaning of a world of life full of signs of design from the living cell on up, and a cosmos that is full of further signs that it was set up to host such life through a process of evidently highly purposeful, skillful and powerful fine tuning.

    The latter case has not been much in the headlines, but in the end it is more decisive in terms of consequences: even through multiverse speculations, we are left facing a necessary being to explain a contingent world, one that has the power to create at least one and up to a quasi-infinite number of cosmi including our own, with the intelligence and skill to pull off one that is as fine tuned for life as ours is, and more. That is why lifelong agnostic and Nobel equivalent prize holding astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle spoke of monkeying with physics, even when just initial stages of the evidence were apparent thirty years ago.

    Anyone raised in a culture where the Judaeo-Christian tradition has been familiar will instantly hear echoing in his mind, “the heavens declare . . . the firmament shows . . . ”

    Strictly verboten!!!!

    Tut, tut!

    THAT shadow shall not be allowed to be on our doorstep!

    Then, when we turn to the world of life, what Crick and Watson have put on the table for sixty years now, since 1953 on, is digitally CODED, algorithms expressed in string data structures and with a complex chicken and egg cluster of associated executing machinery, all executed using carbon chemistry molecular nanotechnology operating in aqueous medium. Where — shocker — our cosmos is fine tuned to set up H, He, C and O (the key elements for this) as the first four most abundant elements. N is close to that level generally and IIRC is no 5 for our galaxy. H and He stars and the rest of the elements, via the resonance involved, C and O get us to organic chemistry, water and rocky planets once we add in other elements to make the oxide based ceramics that make so much of the crust of a terrestrial world. N gets us beyond fats and carbohydrates, oils etc to proteins (including the enzymes that make life chemistry work against the energy hill — counterflow as Joe just cited from Ratzsch — in such a controlled fashion).

    Sir Fred’s ghost is twitting: Yet another put-up job!

    Once we are willing to look at the possibility of design and look at the empirically reliable signs, the world seems to be full of design, and in fact there is no good observational evidence out there for either a multiverse or for the idea that a stew of chemicals in a pond or the like would be able to get us to the living cell, or that once a cell based life is there, it can spontaneously develop into multiple body plans based on spontaneous injections of 10 – 100 Mb per new body plan by blind chance and necessity. But the fact is, that we know the routine and only observed source of FSCO/I — remember, introduced by Wicken and Orgel in the 1970′s — design.

    Put all of that together, and we can see why there is a refusal to allow that unwelcome design foot in the door of the halls of naturalism-dominated science.

    And we can understand why sociology influenced by such attitudes, would in turn set up a taxonomy that simply will not allow the evidence to speak on empirically grounded inference to best explanation, projecting instead the poisonous insinuation that all of this is question begging driven by the agenda to push into science right wing, fascist, fundamentalist, theocratic religion.

    Horrors!

    Science itself is under threat from that fundy war on science that wants to take us back to the dark ages of inquisitions and torture racks!

    They will kill science!

    And, off in the corner we hear the further suggestion: God of the Gaps!

    Rubbish.

    Overblown rubbish rooted in specious talking points.

    1 –> The plain evidence is that there has been an imposed a priori on science in recent years and with roots going back to the mid C19. Lewontin’s summary in a NYRB article is a classic statement, one backed up by a much wider body of statements and attitudes summarised here on:

    the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[--> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[--> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. {Cf the just linked for details that expose and correct he “that’s quote mining” attempted dismissal, not least it is Judaeo- Christian theism that expects a world of order in which to stand out as signs (the root meaning) miracles MUST be rare, and in fact it is people operating in that theism as a worldview that founded modern science and lead its key initial breakthroughsthat established it as a dominant high status institution in our civilisation]

    2 –> The obvious rejoinder to this, is that this ideological a priori materialism just summarised subverts science from freely seeking the truth on our world, especially the world in the past, in light of empirical evidence and related analysis and discussion.

    3 –> So, we should not let all the rhetoric about hos it is self evident that science reveals truth mislead us, and in fact the root declaration or thought that science is the only begetter of truth is little more than a propagandistic, self-refuting ideological assertion that makes an epistemological — grounding of knowledge — claim, which is by definition a philosophical not a scientific claim. Oops.

    4 –> As they say, if it succeeds, none dare call it treason. But the a priori, censoring imposition of materialism is obvious, and it is this controlling idea that locks out the strong evidence of design from being accepted at its obvious value.

    5 –> The most poisonous feature of what is going on, is the obsession with projecting the accusation, enemies of freedom and knowledge on people who believe in — or worse have come to know through living encounter — God.

    6 –> Yes, people and institutions acting with the word God in their mouths have oppressed and abused. But also it is true that in living memory people who overturned God as an a priori commitment in their worldviews and acting in the name of science — as accepted by millions: scientific socialism, race hygiene science, eugenics etc etc etc — have also oppressed and abused, as the ghosts of well past 100 million victims since 1917 and 1933 can tell us.

    7 –> Historian Lord Acton provides the best explanation: power tends to corrupt, power without transparency and accountability corrupts without limit, great men by and large are bad men. And, sadly, that has the ring of truth about it.

    8 –> So, a truer history of the rise of liberty, limited and accountable government, freedom, democratic representational government, etc, would recognise that the Hebrew Prophets and the early Apostles (at bitter cost) were the first major champions of freedom and accountability in our civilisation. Nathan’s devastating prophetic parable and challenge to a king, “Thou art the man!” rings down though the ages in all halls of power, not just in David’s shamed ears. To which we must add Jesus’ “Go, tell that fox . . . ” and the apostles’ “We must obey God rather than man,” with Paul’s structure that the civil magistrate is God’s servant to do us good, especially by upholding the civil peace of justice. Which is the context in which the Christian faith, in Ch 13 of its single most important foundational theological document [this is no obscure epistle as the then US presidential candidate Mr Obama tried to suggest in 2008 in a Town Hall meeting!], grounds the legitimate power and limit of taxation.

    9 –> Further, once the Bible had been published in the language of the ordinary man and was widely disseminated — creating pervasive moral accountability — centuries of liberation struggle ensued [starting with the Reformation and especially the second generation that issued works like Duplessis-Mornay's Vindiciae in 1579 and the state paper known as the Dutch Declaration of Independence of 1581], leading to many key features of modern democracy.

    10 –> That is why, when John Locke, in his pivotal second treatise on civil government, set out in Ch 2 to ground rights and liberty, the very context that so decisively shapes the US DOI of 1776 in its pivotal 2nd paragraph, this is the passage he cited as coming from “the judicious [Anglican Canon Richard] Hooker”:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80]

    11 –> Let us see, again, how that is developed in the US DOI of 1776, which so decisively shapes the emergence of modern democratic self government through the concept of freedom under God who underwrites rights and sets up government to guard justice thus rights so that here are rights of reformation and in the last resort revolution [the ballot box is an institutionalised regular opportunity for peaceful reform or revolution -- but is vulnerable to the manipulation warned against in the key historical example in Acts 27 . . . yet another key Biblical contribution to sustainable liberty and justice!], where government spoils into tyranny not mere incompetence or corruption:

    When . . . it becomes necessary for one people . . . to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 - 21, 2:14 - 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . . .

    We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions [Cf. Judges 11:27 and discussion in Locke], do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

    12 –> But, but, but it is that same Western Civilisation that is so steeped in the indelible guilt of the sins of Christendom. How dare you stand up to try to justify it!

    13 –> Western Civ’s gotta go! (Or, at least be radically transformed in light of current secularist thought and progressive agendas.)

    14 –> As I have just linked, I am well aware of the sins of Christendom. After all, in my veins flows the blood of slaves and I am related to at least one unjustly hanged national hero of my homeland. Hanged through a kangaroo court at the behest of an incompetent governor.

    15 –> But, I am also aware that a fairer, more informed view is necessary for us to have genuine reformation rather than fall victim to “the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” [yet another Biblical counsel] and/or the sort of folly that Ac 27 so aptly demonstrates. That is why I draw our attention to the warning given by noted Oriental historian, Bernard Lewis (who speaks in a very gracious voice, as a Jewish intellectual) in his epochal 1990 essay on the roots of Muslim rage:

    . . . The accusations are familiar. We of the West are accused of sexism, racism, and imperialism, institutionalized in patriarchy and slavery, tyranny and exploitation. To these charges, and to others as heinous, we have no option but to plead guilty — not as Americans, nor yet as Westerners, but simply as human beings, as members of the human race. In none of these sins are we the only sinners, and in some of them we are very far from being the worst. The treatment of women in the Western world, and more generally in Christendom, has always been unequal and often oppressive, but even at its worst it was rather better than the rule of polygamy and concubinage that has otherwise been the almost universal lot of womankind on this planet . . . .

    In having practiced sexism, racism, and imperialism, the West was merely following the common practice of mankind through the millennia of recorded history. Where it is distinct from all other civilizations is in having recognized, named, and tried, not entirely without success, to remedy these historic diseases. And that is surely a matter for congratulation, not condemnation. We do not hold Western medical science in general, or Dr. Parkinson and Dr. Alzheimer in particular, responsible for the diseases they diagnosed and to which they gave their names.

    16 –> It is in that context, that I must yet again draw attention to the too often overlooked warning from Plato in The Laws, Bk X, c 360 BC, 2350 years ago, on the dangers of ideological materialism presented as the thinking man’s view. Let us therefore listen as he speaks, with the example of Alcibiades before his eyes and with the ghost of Socrates whispering in his ear, in the voice of the Athenian Stranger:

    Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. 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. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors: (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them.

    17 –> Ask yourself why this passage was not deeply embedded in the mind of every lad or lass in school, right next to “Thou art the man!” and the like, not to mention Hooker’s grounding of morality and the pivotal second paragraph of the US DOI, as some of the challenging ideals that we must ever weigh ourselves again, lest we fall yet again into the follies and injustices that society is ever so prone to.

    18 –> Then, also ask yourself why the following passage on the right use of argument, was not also burned deep into our collective consciousness, from Aristotle’s The Rhetoric, Bk I ch 2:

    Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker [ethos]; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind [pathos]; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself [logos]. Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible . . . Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile . . . Thirdly, persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question . . .

    19 –> And finally, when it comes to the grounding of science and its methods, I think we should all have at least a nodding acquaintance with this, from the closing Query 31 of Newton’s Opticks:

    All these things being consider’d, it seems probable to me, that God in the Beginning form’d Matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable Particles, of such Sizes and Figures, and with such other Properties, and in such Proportion to Space, as most conduced to the End for which he form’d them; and that these primitive Particles being Solids, are incomparably harder than any porous Bodies compounded of them; even so very hard, as never to wear or break in pieces; no ordinary Power being able to divide what God himself made one in the first Creation. While the Particles continue entire, they may compose Bodies of one and the same Nature and Texture in all Ages: But should they wear away, or break in pieces, the Nature of Things depending on them, would be changed. Water and Earth, composed of old worn Particles and Fragments of Particles, would not be of the same Nature and Texture now, with Water and Earth composed of entire Particles in the Beginning. And therefore, that Nature may be lasting, the Changes of corporeal Things are to be placed only in the various Separations and new Associations and Motions of these permanent Particles; compound Bodies being apt to break, not in the midst of solid Particles, but where those Particles are laid together, and only touch in a few Points.

    It seems to me farther, that these Particles have not only a Vis inertiae, accompanied with such passive Laws of Motion as naturally result from the Force, but also that they are moved by certain active Principles, such as is that of Gravity, and that which causes Fermentation, and the Cohesion of Bodies. These Principles I consider, not as occult Qualities, supposed to result from the specifick Forms of Things, but as general Laws of Nature, by which the Things themselves are form’d; their Truth appearing to us by Phaenomena, though their Causes be not yet discover’d . . . .

    Now by the help of these Principles, all material Things seem to have been composed of the hard and solid Particles above-mention’d, variously associated in the first Creation by the Counsel of an intelligent Agent. For it became him who created them to set them in order. And if he did so, it’s unphilosophical to seek for any other Origin of the World, or to pretend that it might arise out of a Chaos by the mere Laws of Nature; though being once form’d, it may continue by those Laws for many Ages . . . .

    Also the first Contrivance [--> shades of Paley in 1804!] of those very artificial Parts of Animals, the Eyes, Ears, Brain, Muscles, Heart, Lungs, Midriff, Glands, Larynx, Hands, Wings, swimming Bladders, natural Spectacles, and other Organs of Sense and Motion; and the Instinct of Brutes and Insects, can be the effect of nothing else than the Wisdom and Skill of a powerful ever-living Agent, who being in all Places, is more able by his Will to move the Bodies within his boundless uniform Sensorium, and thereby to form and reform the Parts of our own Bodies . . . .

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations.

    _________

    It is patent just what sort of view Newton held as he established science on its solid footing in our civilisation, by his great successes, not only in optics but moreso in mechanics and with the universal law of gravitation that forever bound the heavens above and the earth beneath in a coherent system of analysis.

    That the materialists cannot bring themselves to face the implications of that well documented but now largely forgotten history of the era that founded modern science, and instead have substituted rationalist myths of an eternal war of inherently theocratic, oppressive Religion against science that work to prop up a materialist view that otherwise falls of its own weight as irretrievably self referentially incoherent, speaks volumes.

    KF

    PS: Please contact me by email through my always linked onward contact info accessible through my handle.

  300. (cont’d)

    Kantian Naturalist made this point in #4. I reiterated it again several times. But KN for whatever reason seems not to want to participate further on this topic in this thread or is unable to at this time.

    Usage of small-id ‘intelligent design’ pretending to have Big-ID backing (i.e. what W.J Murray wrote in the OP) is just as absurd as using ‘memes’ in cultural language of ‘replication’ without originality. It is wrong as a category error, which is denied by both parties because of their broader ‘movement’ aims.

    My question is very simple: do IDM people waffle between Big-ID and small-id in their language usage? If they do, then good reason is given to propose a clear distinction between them. Owen Gingerich, Christian astronomer and cosmologist has supported such a position.

    “When I saw that phrase, ’causes now in operation,’ the light went on, because I thought, ‘What is the cause now in operation that’s responsible for the creation of digital code, of alphabetical information in a digital form?’ There’s only one: intelligence. So I realized that by using Darwin and Lyell’s principle of reasoning, you could make a compelling scientific case for Intelligent Design.” – Stephen C. Meyer

    “An experience-based analysis of the causal powers of various explanatory hypotheses suggests purposive or intelligent design as a causally adequate–and perhaps the most causally adequate–explanation for the origin of the complex specified information required to build the Cambrian animals and the novel forms they represent.” – Stephen C. Meyer

    Voila, yes, IDM people, in this case, Stephen C. Meyer, Director of the Centre for (formerly: the renewal of) Science and Culture, obviously waffle between both Big-ID and small-id at their rhetorical preference. Many more cases like this are documented in the public record.

    You have no possibility of winning this argument, folks, so please try even harder to escape the inevitable!

    People who have studied and kept track of this type of Flip-Flop behaviour simply are rejected by Big-IDists out of hand. Why? Because showing this reality of communicative double-talk is a serious problem for the IDM’s hoped-for communicative integrity.

    Otherwise there would be a clear and unequivocal policy preferred by the DI about when Big-ID or small-id should be used. But there isn’t such a policy. Those of us neutral observers to the IDM understand quite well why there is not.

    I would estimate that more than 98% of the comparatively small number of people who accept and promote Big-ID theory actually believe in their ‘heart of hearts’ that the Big-D ‘Designer’ behind Big-ID theory is (hypothesized to be) the ‘G-d’ of the Abrahamic faiths.’

    They may have differing views about what they mean by ‘G-d,’ but nevertheless that is what they mean. But this sociological fact is treated with ‘indifference’ by hardcore Big-ID fanatics. Why? Because they want to support a natural scientific ‘revolution’ that has nothing to do with faith and which makes no claim to properly be called a ‘science, philosophy and theology/worldview’ conversation first and foremost, as I and many others clearly recognise.

    Timaeus has now publically changed his mind at UD (see links above) and simply doesn’t want a clear distinction, even if one could possibly be made. Why, one might ask? Because he seemingly wants to muddy the communicative waters. Why else would he publically hesitate and change his mind from behind his mask?

    If clearer communication could help, why would he not want it; why not actively promote it? This is actually quite an unusual move for him because it opens him up to charges of promoting ‘universal designism;’ the notion that *everything* is (must be called) designed/Designed. But perhaps because he’s already thrown his 1st life (i.e. unmasked) reputation already together with the IDM, that position being associated with his name doesn’t matter so much to him anymore. Otherwise, it would seem mysterious and something that most IDM proponents should carefully question.

    A couple of things to note: Timaeusean-ID/id is quite clearly not the same thing as IDM-ID/id. Timaeus does not insist on the scientificity of Big-ID theory, as indicated again in this thread, while the IDM does. He doesn’t “give a rat’s rear end about” it. Well, folks, Timaeus lack of caring obviously shows when he waffles about the scientificity of Big-ID!

    For example, Dembski’s book “The Design Revolution” opens up in the preface with reference to Thomas Kuhn’s “Scientific Revolution” book. Dembski is obviously intent on trying to create a ‘scientific revolution’ for a scientific theory called ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design.’ For Dembski Big-ID simply is and must be a science-only theory. But not for Timaeus, who says he doesn’t care.
    Another example. Once one capitalises ‘Intelligent Design’ it is unclear whether they wish to refer to natural-only or also possibly supernatural causes, i.e. whether ‘intelligent agency/agents’ are natural or if they should be called divine ‘Intelligent Agents.’ Timaeus’ current position would leave us guessing and equivocating. It could be either/or, but nobody should exercise their mind to ask if this is coherent or merely wishy-washy. Stop using your own reason and just accept the legitimacy of Timaeusean non-IDM-ID!

    “Gregory’s constant use of ‘Big ID’ and ‘little id’ is very simply a foolhardy attempt to get it somehow established into the dilaogue” – PeterJ

    Obviously not a very well-informed commentator. Does he also really think it is just me who distinguishes the two significantly different meanings?!

    Those who favour a distinction between Big-ID (upper case ID) and small-id (lower case id) include the following: Owen Gingerich, Randy Isaac, Ted Davis, George Murphy, Stephen Barr, David Campbell, and from UD, Vincent J. Torley, gingoro (Dave Wallace), and likely several others.

    Those against properly distinguishing between Big-ID and small-id for ideological reasons include (after flip-flopping) Timaeus…and who else? W.J. Murray admitted this was the first time he’s heard of the distinction. Is this a common short-sightedness at UD, where people actually feel they can flip-flop between capitalisation and non-capitalisation at whim as if they really in their heart of hearts mean the same thing?!

    As Ted Davis wrote in 2009:

    “Strobel and Demsbki and Meyer and Wells and Johnson: they are ID with capital letters. Those mentioned earlier in this post [Polkinghorne and Gingerich] are id with small letters. It’s a bigger difference than just the size of the type.”

    He follows this up, saying:

    “I do suspect, ultimately, that ID proponents want ID rather than id, b/c you can’t pick up id and use it to batter Coyne over the head: it’s a belief, albeit one that (IMO) makes better sense of the whole picture than the alternative, but still it’s a belief, not a scientifically demonstrable proposition.”

    The question becomes much more ‘personal’ when it is asked: Why do you capitalise the name ‘God’ instead of using the term ‘god’? Iow, why does the amazingly naïve statement “design is design whether the designer happens to be God or man?” really make no sense for most Abrahamic religious believers? Why does proper capitalisation instead make the most sense and help to protect our communication from materialist, atheist and naturalist potential abuses?

    Is the idea that Protestants want to start de-capitalising ‘G-d’ what IDM people really fear in their proposal of small-ia ‘intelligent agents’ natural-science-only talk?

    So again, we see here the logical and coherent difference between IDM-ID and Timaeusian-ID/id in that Timaeus doesn’t care if Big-ID is called ‘scientific’ or not. The IDM, otoh, obviously does care and desperately wants to achieve the ‘scientific’ label.

    What Timaeus really means (behind his philosophy/religious studies on-line sock puppet), therfore, is that he doesn’t care if he is orthodox or not, or that the explanatory power of Big-ID is reduced to almost nothing because that is what Big-ID theory demands by denying any possibility to discuss Designers and Designing processes. Instead, Big-ID theory, as Timaeus regularly tries to defend it, just wants to claim it is ‘natural scientific,’ which, for most of us who have studied philosophy, history and sociology of science in the past 20 or so years, is simply laughable.

    In short, W.J. Murray’s “simple argument for intelligent design” is actually not an argument for Big-ID theory or the IDM at all. For Murray, ID is not a theory, it is simply a presumed reality that need not be ‘scientifically’ proven.

    I can’t see much more reason to continue in this thread if you folks can’t even concede a simple point: “There simply is no Big-ID theory of human-made things!”

    William J. Murray was thus simply using jargon that most people will easily reject when he made his “simple argument for small-id ‘intelligent design’” as if it had any connection with Big-ID theory. It doesn’t and Murray should adjust his langauge, but likely won’t out of ‘movement’ loyalties.

  301. p.s. for Timaeus’ education, so he can’t claim to dodge having read Bejan anymore, like he’s been dodging reading Gingerich and other TE authors, as Ted Davis noted at ASA…

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/an.....verything/

    http://suvudu.com/2012/02/inte.....t-one.html

    http://www.asme.org/kb/news.....rian-bejan

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/0.....in-nature/

    Just interviews, mind you, but still, this can help to familiarise Timaeus instead of his lingering in ignorance of this anti-/non-Big-ID theory of small-d ‘design in nature’.

  302. G, re:

    there is no logically or coherently quantifiable FSCO/I of human-made things. KF’s failure is a case in point.

    Since you have been repeatedly corrected on facts and have been confronted with a live case in point above, this is a statement made in disregard of duties of care to the truth and to fairness, hoping to profit by a repeated false narrative being perceived as truth. Here, multiplied by an attempt to personalise and polarise.

    Kindly, cease and desist.

    Let me answer this on the merits by taking the 110 ASCII character snippet just cited as an example of functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information relevant to the Chi_500 analysis.

    1: 110 ASCII characters in a string structure [thus, a nodes and arcs one dimensional pattern] at 7 bits per character [the 8th being a parity check for error detection] yields a field of possibilities of

    128^110 = 6.21 * 10^231 possibilities

    2: This is well beyond the 10^150 possibilities stored by 500 or so bits.

    3: Where, as was shown here on (and as has been previously linked), the 3.27*10^150 possibilities for 500 bits, relative to the number of atomic states for 10^57 atoms [the scope of our solar system, the effective universe we have for atomic interaction level phenomena] for a reasonable lifespan estimate, is as taking a one straw sized sample to a cubical haystack 1,000 LY on the side. Effectively, as thick as our galaxy.

    4: Sampling theory will assure us that, even if such a haystack were superposed on our galactic neighbourhood, and such a blind chance and necessity sample were taken, with all but certainty, it would reflect the bulk of the distribution, straw.

    5: Accordingly, blind chance and mechanical necessity can be operationally ruled out as reasonable explanations for such a phenomenon. Lucky noise is a non-starter in short.

    6: There is a known, easily observed causal factor capable of generating such a functional string, reflecting assertions in English reflecting the ideological agenda of a known individual. Namely, design.

    7: As opposed to lucky noise on the Internet.

    8: Extending further, as AutoCAD etc show by being engineering drawing software, any object or process of interest can be reduced to a structured nodes and arcs pattern and stored as a collection of strings, similar to the above text.

    9: So, the analysis of strings as above is WLOG. Indeed that is what I did in doing a live estimate of the FSCO/I in Mr Garvey’s stones a few days ago.

    10: The overall result then applies: once we can identify a system and reduce it to an FSCO/I rich structure, that is evidence that it is designed.

    11: For, the fundamental point is that functional forms dependent on the precise interaction of correctly arranged and cohesively coupled elements will — by the constraints implied by need to function — be confined to very tight clusters in the space of possibilities for the relevant number of bits. The usual image for this is, islands of function, which — contrary tot he sort of objecting talking points that are all too commonly seen — are a very well known phenomenon indeed, if you have ever had to try to get a program of some complexity right, or to design and build a complex electronic circuit or if you know the way that knockout studies identify the functioning of genes based on the breakdown of a given life function on removing the key part in question. (Notice the date and the series in which this appears.)

    12: And, putting on another hat for a moment, to address the example that G tried to use as a distractor above, I repeat: an NFL team is a sociotechnical system, with a vast array of organised elements, which indeed maps to the FSCO/I analysis. Just think about the contracts for the players, the accounting system that manages the team’s accounts, the managerial structure, the training schemes and documentation etc etc etc, not to mention that well known term: game plan.

    13: The abundant FSCO/I present in such a system abundantly vindicates the conclusion that it again confirms the point that FSCO/I is a signature of design, and that it is recognised in the world of commonly encountered designers.

    14: Of course, given the pattern of recycling already adequately answered objections as though they retain force: I have already had to point out that the common objection that design is only warranted with reference to humans, by showing that being human is neither necessary nor sufficient to account for design. Beavers, limited but capable designers, design dams. merely being human does not suffice to explain say the design of a computer. It is knowledgeable, skilled and capable intelligence that explains design, as any but the utterly hostile and intransigent can easily enough see.

    _____________

    This all brings us back to the pivotal point in the OP. What is the difference between a battleship and a pile of ore-bearing rocks that can be used to make such a contrivance?

    Is this difference obvious and objective?

    Can it be specified as to what it is?

    Can this be reduced to a metric model?

    I would put it to you, Gregory, that there is an obvious and even blatant difference having to do with purposeful processing and counterflow transformation reflected in an organised entity, known as a battleship.

    I further put it to you that that organisation is functionally specific, as is manifested by how battleships can be destroyed or rendered inoperable by hitting them in the right places. indeed, there are quite a few well known incidents of just that.

    Further yet, that organisation can be reflected in a nodes and arcs pattern, as is documented in the blueprints used in building such a battleship and the existence of AutoCAD.

    Yet further, that pattern can be reduced to a functionally specific information metric and c=it can be shown that once the complexity involved is beyond a reasonable threshold, the only known adequate causal explanation is design, a point backed up by the needle in the haystack analysis already highlighted above.

    So, there is an empirically grounded, reliable inference from FSCO/I to design that applies to text in English and to battleships alike. Further, it can be extended to say the discovery of a space battleship on mars.

    And, this analysis is directly applicable tot he observed phenomena in the living cell and onward to the inferred original cell based life, especially to the genome.

    It is therefore patent that, on empirical grounds, it is a reasonable and well warranted conclusion that the living cell — per the discoveries of the past 60 years — strongly reflects design as credible cause.

    So, I say onward –and notice, this is the point where I address the ideological disputes — those who nailed their flags to the mast of the ship that purported to show that the spontaneous materialistic origin of life by means of chemical evolution and onward chance variation and differential reproductive success in ecological niches, now need to face the impact of the evidence on their ideologies, without being allowed to beg the question by improperly redefining science and censoring its methods and conclusions.

    But, that is an onward question it is not the science issue at stake, which is where I have focussed my attention above.

    KF

  303. 305

    It seems to me that Gregory’s argument here is rooted in a particular conceptual framework that interprets the arguments put forth by leading ID proponents in terms of the Abrahamic faith. It also appears that Gregory is entirely committed to framing every argument about intelligent design in those terms.

    I wonder which form of ID that the researchers at SETI, or the designers of the Voyager greetings from Earth package, were operating under as they equivocated the difference between “what is produced by a human, and what is not produced by a human”?

    In any event, I’ve reached the limits of “charitable reading” as far as Gregory is concerned. He seems intent on insult, character assassination and motive-mongering.

  304. KF: Still is lacking comprehension and plainly offering no solution.

    You wrote 5959 characters w/out spaces and 7113 characters with spaces. I can count. Obviously you can’t. Write numbers, not text please! Just offer direct FSCO/I numbers to my question in #118. Everything else will not be read.

    A curious stone several hundreds or 1000s of years ago in England does not categorically compare with the 3 examples given above in ‘real time.’

    Battleships are designed by human beings. As Homer Simpson would say: ‘Duh.’ Do you call that a ‘scientific theory’?!?!

    You can’t quantify your ‘theory.’ Go fish!

  305. William J. Murray,

    Simple question – Yes or No: Is there a Big-ID (IDM) theory of human-made things?

    If you think there is, then please point us direclty to authors’ names and papers. Journal titles or book titles, publishers are also welcome. I just don’t think you’ll find any. That’s ‘charitable reading,’ even as Wiker and Witt are concerned.

    Otherwise, what’s your argument other than that you personally want to call ‘human-made things’ as ‘intelligently designed’ when there is no theoretical need to call them that?

    The “leading ID proponents” (other than Berlinski) all personally accept Abrahamic faith. This is simply a fact of the IDM. I’ve studied this more than pretty much anyone else on the planet!

    Why reject their values and personality, just as atheists and ‘brights’ want you to do when instead you can embrace the legitimacy of Abrahamic believers accepting ‘scientific’ theory that is not restricted to ‘naturalism’ or ‘materialism’? I am supporting for you that option.

    My approach is decades ahead of the IDM and you would likely embrace it if you understood it. But please understand, I cannot associate with them because of the very duplicity you are (perhaps unknowingly) demonstrating in this thread. Once you acknowledge there is no Big-ID theory of human-made things, you will be liberated from trying to defend such an indefensible position.

    More liberation will come after that…

  306. Gregory:

    Simple question – Yes or No: Is there a Big-ID (IDM) theory of human-made things?

    “Big-ID” exists only in your mind, Gregory. So no one outside of your mind can say anything about it.

  307. Gregory:

    The “leading ID proponents” (other than Berlinski) all personally accept Abrahamic faith.

    So what? Most, if not all, leaders of evolutionism are atheists.

  308. G; the above is sad. I am led to observe that, patently lacking a sound response to what he real design inference actually is, you have descended into outright rudely dsrespectful, personal dismissals and demands — both to Timaeus and to myself. I will leave you to the onlookers to see what is going on, as I have shown more than sufficient substance on all I care to, the basic case for the design inference as an empirically grounded endeavour that has basic scientific credibility, absent interposition of ideological agendas. My bottomline is simple and well warranted: YOUR ATTEMPTED RECATEGORISATION OF DESIGN THEORY IS TENDENTIOUS AND QUESTION-BEGGING IN A WAY THAT IS IDEOLOGICALLY AND RHETORICALLY LOADED. It is thus fundamentally off the mark. Please correct it. Good day. KF

  309. ““Big-ID” exists only in your mind, Gregory. So no one outside of your mind can say anything about it.”

    Oops, actually they do say things about it. You forgot to add Gingerich, Davis, Murphy, Isaac, Barr, Polkinghorne, not to mention Torley and Wallace, and Timaeus before his waffle diet, et. al.

    “You make a good point about the distinction between (capitalized) Intelligent Design, and (lower case) intelligent design. The latter belief does not require that the Designer left any visible, discernible traces of His activity.” – Torley

    Goodness, Torley must be almost as idiotic as I am! ;)

  310. From a communications perspective, Gregory behavior is, to put the matter charitably, disingenuous. Emphasizing symbolism and de-emphasizing substance, he floods cyberspace with long-winded, rambling posts that contain multiple themes, each of which has little to do with the other. One wonders why he even bothers to scatter these unconnected pieces of rhetorical buckshot all over the printed page. Maybe he hopes to escape rational scrutiny by presenting so many topics that the reader finally despairs in his search for a reasoned argument. Indeed, Gregory does not so much argue by logic as by insinuation. His idea of a devastating refutation is to cite a quote from an ID proponent, place it in bold letters, and say, “get a load of that folks.” Apparently, it never occurs to him that we might want to know precisely what it is about the passage that is supposed to scandalize us.

    At times, it appears that Gregory’s habit of wallowing in empty symbolism really does sour his taste for intellectual substance? I can’t think of any other explanation for his anti-intellectual militancy. It does not take a genius to realize, for example, that an inference to biological design does not, as he claims, constitute “univocal predication” (the claim that human attributes are comparable with God’s attributes). To say that God left design clues in nature is not to say that our intelligence or creative sensibilities are akin to His. We know that Gregory borrowed this error from Ed Feser, but why does he always accept what our enemies say about us without even attempting to evaluate their arguments?

    Apart from misinterpreting and misrepresenting ID’s paradigms, the embarrassing fact is that Gregory does not even understand his own models and terms. It is a very odd thing that someone can devote his entire life to an idea that he cannot even articulate. Is he the only person alive who believes that one can sell an idea without first explaining it? We are told, for example, that “small id,” which is said to be the counterpoise to “Big ID’s” contemporary design inference, refers to classical theism. We are also told that small id “assumes” a transcendent Creator that designed human in His own image and likeness. Never mind the fact that classical theism includes both faith-based arguments that ASSUME God’s existence AND reason-based arguments that INFER God’s existence. How can small id be a model that admits all of classical theism and also be a model that admits only faith –based arguments?

    Naturally, this raises the reciprocal question about what Gregory can possibly mean when he uses the term “Big ID.” As a kind of synonym, he has also coined the acronym, IDM, which, one gathers, indicates the social dynamic understood to be the ID “movement.” This includes, the religious, philosophical, historical, and motivational sensibilities of everyone involved at the Discovery Institute as well as all like-minded ID proponents, but it does not—get this—it does not include Big ID’s own definition of itself as a scientific research project. It seems that ID’s self-description doesn’t really count for much since, we are told, it is unconscious of and even dishonest about its true identity. (How it is possible to be dishonest about what is not known is left unexplained).
    For Gregory, ID can be more accurately defined as an amalgamation of Christian theology, traditional philosophy, and faith-based science grounded in the principle of “imago Dei.” All this talk about an empirically-based methodology is simply a ruse –a kind of public relations scam. That Gregory doesn’t know or even pretend to know anything about scientific methodology is not perceived to be a problem. That he has never taken a science course is of no embarrassing consequence. None of this prevents or even inhibits him from claiming to surpass Steven Meyer as a philosopher of science.

    Then there is the curious, dare I say, ironic fact that Steve Fuller, whom Gregory claims to follow, has called for ID to gird up its loins and transform itself into the very same kind of institution that Gregory says it already is and will not own up to. Perhaps the final straw, though, consists in the fact that Gregory’s Big ID, which is supposed to militate against and trivialize small id, is, by virtue of its alleged theological/philosophical/historical/scientific construction, really a kind of small id that doesn’t know it is small id, which means that Big ID is also small id and the whole purpose for making the contrast is invalidated. This man lives in an intellectual madhouse.

    One would think that such a clumsy attempt to start a bold new analytical model would be accompanied with at least a modicum of humility. Not a chance. Gregory reports that ID’s most prominent luminaries cannot defend their theories in his daunting presence and have folded under the pressure of his withering cross examination. As I understand it, he has kept a list of questions that have stumped Bruce Gordon and other ID proponents for years and he says the inventory is growing. Naturally, this claim aroused my curiosity. I thought that it might be fun to take a crack at one of these mind-bending probes. So, I asked Gregory to give me the third degree and provide me with just one of those killer queries. He responded by assuring me that his list was still growing. Acknowledging his response, I pressed the matter again and asked to be presented with just one example. Again, there was no response.

    It is too much to say that I have doubts about Gregory’s account of his interactions with ID’s heaviest hitters since I and many others on this site have had no difficulty knocking his fastest pitches out of the park? Is it too much to say that when I throw my own fastballs in his direction, he doesn’t even take a swing? Could it be that there might be just a little historical revisionism going on in these self-serving reports?

    Now, after having failed to engage in rational discourse on multiple occasions. Gregory wants Timaeus (myself also) to drop his pseudo name, change venues, and participate in a recorded debate with him under the auspices of his “neutral” observer. But why should Timaeus pay such a price or go to another place with him when we have Gregory right here? Why should Timaeus go beyond the call of duty when Gregory will not even respond to the call of duty? Why should Timaeus submit to a setting where there is no prospect of an audience when we already have an audience of 10,000 people right here? Would Gregory use such an occasion to report to everyone that he won a debate that he would clearly lose just as he reports to everyone that he stumped the best and brightest ID thinkers when he clearly didn’t?

    It seems strange that someone so hell bent on selling his ideas and attacking those of his adversaries, cannot summon even a semblance of a rational argument for his own position or respond to even the most basic inquiries about his anti-ID tirades. It’s just one talking point after another. To put the matter as delicately as I know how, Gregory is living a lie. As a young man, he is better off knowing that fact sooner rather than later.

  311. If I may change the topic — since Gregory is obviously not going to respond to my very clear, non-flip-flopping statement of my beliefs about intelligent design (found in #200) — I would point out that Gregory is spelling the word “God” oddly these days. Does the spelling “G-d” indicate that he has converted to Orthodox Judaism? It’s not a spelling you often see in Christian writers, or even non-Orthodox Jewish writers. Or has he always spelled it that way, with me simply failing to notice?

  312. 314

    Gregory asks:

    Simple question – Yes or No: Is there a Big-ID (IDM) theory of human-made things?

    Even after reading all your posts and following your links, I still do not understand what you mean by “Big-ID”. Can you give a definition of it so that I can properly respond?

  313. Never in the history of mankind has any people ever found, even suspected a possible need for, a term to designate an ‘unintelligently non-designed’ (n. unintelligent non-design) object which looks as if it had been designed’.

    I wonder why that is. I expect they were not sophisticated enough. Or dopey enough. I wonder which.

  314. StephenB #310,

    Great job pointing out the inconsistencies and incoherence.

    Gregory, what is it that you want?

    Do you want the prodigal sons to return to Mother Church and the ways of small id? Back to arguing that God is the Designer and that science points us to God?

  315. Gregory:

    My approach is decades ahead of the IDM and you would likely embrace it if you understood it.

    Ah, so you have your own research lab now too?

    Have you offered to make it availabe to the IDM?

  316. kf:

    “Let me answer this on the merits by taking the 110 ASCII character snippet just cited as an example of functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information relevant to the Chi_500 analysis.”

    But that requires the premise that Gregory is a man.

  317. Gregory:

    Battleships are designed by human beings. As Homer Simpson would say: ‘Duh.’

    YES! You finally get it.

    Living organisms are likewise obviously designed.

    Do you call that a ‘scientific theory’?!?!

    Which part? The theory of DUH part? Call it Homer Simpson Theory.

    Why do you need a theory to “explain” the obvious?

    Why did Darwin feel a need to come up with a theory to “explain” the obvious?

  318. Timaeus:

    It would probably be thought of as egocentric for me to compile a “best of Timaeus.”

    Then, if you must be humble, compile a “The Worst of Timaeus”.

    Your worst is better than the best of many.

    :)

  319. Why do you need a theory to “explain” the obvious?

    There you have it in a nutshell. The irrefutable argument for “intelligent design”!

  320. H’mm: It is obvious that mangoes [apples -- that was Lincolnshire . . . ] drop from trees, right? And, that the moon goes around the earth reflecting a centripetal force? What do we need to explain the obvious? Simple, the spark of insight that tied the two together under a common causal factor. Fast forward 350 years and ask what is needed to explain the commonalities between a digital data storage tape and DNA? H’mm, what is it that best explains codes and data structures used to hold such in systems? KF

  321. Gregory:

    Big-ID proponents should drop the motive-talk …

    Oh, the irony.

  322. Gregory:

    Adrian Bejan speaks of small-d ‘design in nature.’ He wrote a book 2012 about it that surely someone could display the courage to review at UD.

    First I need the motivation to buy it. I read the blurbs on amazon, I read the reviews. I have read your comments here at UD. I’m still waiting for you to reply to my question.

    If you are really interested in getting people to read it you might consider responding.

    My post was #213.

  323. “Like any Christian (and indeed any theist), I believe that the world has been created by God, and hence “intelligently designed.” The hallmark of intelligent design, however, is the claim that this can be shown scientifically; I’m dubious about that.” – A. Plantinga

    Gregory, I trust you wrote to Dr. Plantinga and informed him of his misuse of small i small d intelligent design.

    But I will say that I am likewise dubious that an inference to design can get one to God as THE DESIGNER.

    I mean, take our battleship, for example. Why would we think God designed the battleship?

    Which design inferences can or should lead to God? That’s hardly a scientific question, is it?

  324. lastyearon:

    I think what Gregory (and other non IDists) are arguing is that there is no categorical distinction between ‘designed’ and ‘not-designed’ things.

    So?

    How do you program the robot to identify designed objects?

    How do we program programs to find and decode coded messages? Think NSA, etc.

    How does one hide a coded message? Perhaps by trying to make it look non-designed, and designedly so.

    From “it does not appear to be designed” it does not follow that it is not designed.

    This is why intelligent design focuses on reliable indicators of design.

  325. My question is very simple: do IDM people waffle between Big-ID and small-id in their language usage?

    Yes, Gregory, sometimes people write Intelligent Design and sometimes people write intelligent design.

    So what?

    You have no possibility of winning this argument, folks, so please try even harder to escape the inevitable!

    What argument?

  326. Gregory argues for making a distinction between small i small d intelligent design and Big I Big D Intelligent Design. I would like to propose a third category, BIG I BIG D INTELLIGENT DESIGN!

    So, Gregory, are you going to go back to all previous writings and correct them so that the usage properly conveys the meaning? And if not you, who?

    Has anyone bothered to point out to you that you’re on a fools errand?

    So you come into a thread and point out to WJM that he wrote Intelligent Design when he should have written intelligent design. Or you write Alvin Plantinga and tell him he used intelligent design when he should have used Intelligent Design.

    Really? This is your mission in life?

    That’s why, for the most part, you’re not being taken seriously here.

    We’re not going to follow “Gregory’s rules of capitalization” just because you want us to. The convention clearly exists that one may use capitalization or not, and that little can be inferred from what is meant based solely upon the choice to capitalize or not.

    A fools errand. I can’t even wish you good luck in it.

  327. W.J. Murray:

    I write with the goodwill that you will then reciprocate and answer the simple question I asked regarding your thread titled ‘simple argument’ for small-id ‘intelligent design.’ By calling it ‘small-id intelligent design’ I assume that you will simply be willing to admit that you did not capitalise the terms ‘Intelligent Design’ in your OP. Surely on that we can agree? Otherwise there is no use in dialogue between us.

    Here is my definition of Big-ID, adapted from the link already provided:

    ‘Big-ID’ theory refers to the Discovery Institute’s approach, as the institution at the heart of an American social-political-educational-religious-cultural movement, which promotes the idea that ‘design/Design’ can be (and even has been!) proven ‘in nature’ by natural scientific methods. This claim is promoted by the ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’ movement (IDM, or Big-ID community), though most natural scientists, including both theists and non-theists, have rejected Big-ID theory as unscientific. Here one has to use both not-capitalized and capitalized forms of id/ID for the sake of clarity in communication because the IDM uses both variants whenever they believe it suits them.

    I believe the last sentence of this definition has been proven already.

    Now, here is my question again, directly related to the OP, phrased in *your* language, W.J. Murray, even now that you have also read my preferred language, but so that you can possibly face the question:

    Simple question – Yes or No: Is there an ‘intelligent design’ theory of human-made things? If you want it asked in another way, is there a leader of the IDM that proposes an id/ID theory of human-made things?

    If you think there is, then please point us directly to authors’ names and papers. Journal titles or book titles, publishers are also welcome. If you think there is not, then please simply let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.

    Thanks,
    Gregory

  328. “I would like to propose a third category, BIG I BIG D INTELLIGENT DESIGN!” – Mung

    Go ahead then, Mung. By all means do so. Great idea!

    But if reality of your past exploits at UD is any measure, you’ll drop that language at the first opportunity. You won’t stick with it, you won’t display conviction in your communication because you are not being serious. And because you are not being serious you should not be taken seriously.

    But hey, if you’re being serious, then your BIG I BIG INTELLIGENT DESIGN will stick and is what we’ll be reading from you in the future. If you’re not being serious, then, well, certainly I won’t be taking you seriously.

    “Yes, Gregory, sometimes people write Intelligent Design and sometimes people write intelligent design.”

    That’s exactly what I meant that IDM people waffle between small-id and Big-ID! Thanks for conceding the point.

  329. Are you still rabbiting on about Big ID and small ID, Greg? What’s the matter with you?

  330. ‘From a communications perspective, Gregory behavior is, to put the matter charitably, disingenuous. Emphasizing symbolism and de-emphasizing substance, he floods cyberspace with long-winded, rambling posts that contain multiple themes, each of which has little to do with the other. One wonders why he even bothers to scatter these unconnected pieces of rhetorical buckshot all over the printed page. Maybe he hopes to escape rational scrutiny by presenting so many topics that the reader finally despairs in his search for a reasoned argument.’- StephenB ’310

    Stephen, ask Greg to view on YouTube the more recent findings of scientists on the Shroud? And then give his opinion of the claimed event-horizon, absence of gravity, 3D information, peculiar state of blood stains, etc.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_voTiCTqv4Q

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcKTkjWkqEU

  331. Ask him if he thinks that, if true, it’s of trivial consequence. Or does he believe that the scientists concerned are frauds?

  332. 334

    Gregory,

    I think that the all theories of intelligent design (meaning, methods of evaluation to determine whether intelligent designs is a necessary component of the “best explanation” of the phenomena in question), such as irreducible complexity, FSCO/I, Dembski’s examination of search algorithms with and without an “oracle”, are all necessarily about human intelligent design first because that is the example and comparative (in contrast to nature) that guides the formation of all of those methods.

    So yes, as far as I know, all forms of the ID scientific theory by behe, dembski, meyer, and kf here are first and foremost theories about how to properly differentiate the obvious cases of human ID from what we can expect to see in the natural world. They use the at-hand example – human ID – to generate their proposed evaluatory methodologies for making cases about potential non-human ID.

  333. Gregory presents a design argument that rivals William Paley’s. Only his is based not on a mechanical device – in Paley’s case the watch – but on a musical instrument – for Gregory the lute. Thus Gregory argues that just as a beautifully made lute leads us to infer both a lutemaker and a luteplayer, so our beautifully made cosmos leads us to infer a God who created it and continues to act creatively within it.

    – Wm. Dembski

    ACK! Where did that come from!?

  334. Mung (333):

    An amusing find, in the current context! Definitely worth a smile.

    Speaking of Paley, I wonder if *our* Gregory has actually read any of Paley’s *Natural Theology*. (Five to one he’s read none of it; a hundred to one he hasn’t read it all the way through.) I’m reading it now. It’s brilliantly and carefully argued, and not only does it anticipate the general form of today’s ID arguments, it also anticipates the general form of virtually every argument *against* design that I’ve seen from contemporary atheists and TEs. Thinkers of 200 years ago were very thorough and careful. I would guess that Gregory could learn a lot more from reading Paley than from reading Bejan (if Bejan’s general powers of reasoning are typified by his claim that one can have design without a designer — a claim anticipated and duly rejected by Paley).

    Oh, and thanks for the kind word in 318.

  335. I only wonder if that’s our own Gregory’s namesake. :)

  336. To All:

    I looked up Gregory’s links to Bejan.

    Bejan’s idea of a “constructal law” is interesting in its own right, and I have nothing against it as a conception to be applied to understanding various features of the world. I particularly appreciate Bejan’s swipe against “chaos theory” — he sees law, not chance, as the explanation for what happens, and of course in that respect he would find some agreement from ID people.

    Bejan appears, however, to make the same mistake that so many bright persons with bright ideas make: he thinks that because he has discovered a principle that explains *many* things, he has discovered *the* principle that explains *everything*.

    That *some* biological phenomena can be explained in terms of physical principles such as the “constructal law” is not at all an unreasonable or improbable assertion, and if Bejan can make it stick, more power to him. But *all* biological phenomena? Including evolution? A “constructal law” alone is all we need to get from molecules to man? Nothing else?

    Bejan has three degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT. Not a single degree in biology. He is not likely to be conversant at a graduate level with the literature of genetics, developmental biology, molecular biology, etc. He does not, in all probability, know the details of anatomy and physiology in plants and animals. He is not, presumably, trained to discuss either the detailed workings of living things today or their evolutionary origins. So how can he possibly know that the “constructal law” can explain the entire process of evolution?

    It has been argued by many ID proponents — including Steve Meyer, Gregory’s latest hero within the ID movement — that natural laws alone — including any “constructal law” which may exist — are not sufficient, either in practice or in principle, to explain the *informational* aspects of life. For evolution to work, there has to be a way to impart informational properties to non-living matter, and, so goes the argument, this can’t be done by natural laws alone. Informational structures must come from a designing mind — something that Bejan appears (from the interviews) to believe has no role in explaining the world. Meyer takes this up the absolute requirement for information input in *Signature in the Cell*, a book which Gregory, last time he was asked, had not read, and indicated that he had no intention of reading.

    This point is important within ID, since Michael Denton, an ID proponent, is big on the role of natural laws as the explanation for evolution (as elaborated in *Nature’s Destiny*, another book which Gregory, when last asked about it, appeared not to have read), whereas Dembski, Meyer, Nelson, and Wells do not think that natural laws are anywhere near sufficient. The critique which Dembski, Meyer, etc. have made of Denton, they would doubtless make of Bejan.

    Now I’m not rendering a final verdict here, as I haven’t read Bejan. But based on his biography, which indicates no training in the life sciences, and based what he argues in the interviews, it seems that he has not explained how a “constructal law” could have imparted the genetic code — the prerequisite of evolution and of life itself — to molecular matter. Or how it could account for something like the Cambrian Explosion. If I am wrong, if he has explained these things, then I am sure that Gregory will point me to the exact pages in his writings where he has made the argument. I would certainly be willing to read any book that makes such an argument, as long as it does not, in the Darwinian style, avoid all the messy biological details and speak in grand story-telling terms.

    Again, I am not denying that a constructal law could explain a great deal about life, and I am not denying that a constructal law could explain a good number of things about evolution. I suspect that it would not explain everything about evolution. But if it can, the onus is on Bejan and his disciples to show how.

  337. Folks:

    Here is where we see the loading that renders the whole taxonomy tendentious and question-begging, and exercise in rhetoric not reasonable minded objective inquiry:

    G, 327: ‘Big-ID’ theory refers to the Discovery Institute’s approach, as the institution at the heart of an American social-political-educational-religious-cultural movement, which promotes the idea that ‘design/Design’ can be (and even has been!) proven ‘in nature’ by natural scientific methods . . .

    1 –> We are left to two options, neither of which properly fits, and the one that targets Intelligent Design, reflects the “creationism in a cheap tuxedo” false narrative.

    2 –> We are then presented with an assertion that is false, a claim of “proof.” This sets up a strawman.

    3 –> In first correction, Science, of course as an empirical evidence led investigatory and exploratory discipline is inherently incapable of proof [showing something to be so beyond logical doubt, by deduction from generally accepted premises similar to exercises in mathematics], but operates by inductive inference and warrant, in the general context of wider induction that embraces inference to best current and progressive, open-ended explanation.

    4 –> Hence, the phenomenon of repeated scientific revolutions, my home discipline, physics, having had two major revolutions in 300 or so years: the one culminating in the Newtonian synthesis, across the 1600′s, and the one culminating in the quantum-relativity pattern of thought that dominates to this day.

    5 –> Intelligent Design, as a scientific movement [the only form that I have any real interest in as a scientist in my own right], is led by that frame of thought, and is a small but significant research programme pivoting on the issue that we do observe distinct characteristics that trace to different kinds of causal factors.

    6 –> In particular, it is observed that in a great many cases of known designs, we see that contrivance is reflected in functionally specific organisation and related information, which may be explicit or implicit. (This is not so in all cases, but it is so in cases that are relevant to the project of detecting design by characteristic signs.)

    7 –> On closer inspection, we see that mechanical necessity by contrast produces a pattern of natural regularity with low contingency. That is, under similar initial conditions, predictably, there is a general course of the world in which similar outcomes occur, i.e low contingency natural regularities, expressible in inferred laws of nature such as F = m*a or E = m*c^2, or sin i:sin r = const, etc etc.

    8 –> These are to be distinguished in general from the sort of necessary constraints such as 3 + 2 = 5, which must be so in any possible world. That is, at another level, we must be open to the possibility that the particular laws we see may have been different.

    9 –> By similar contrast, we see that chance processes produce stochastic patterns that may be modelled on a probability distribution, such as the Gaussian, the Poisson, the Weibull, etc.

    10 –> This naturally leads to an inferential filter, intended to identify cases and aspects of objects, phenomena etc that trace to the action of these factors.

    11 –> From this, we see that, per inductive investigation on billions of test cases, specified complexity, especially as manifested in function dependent on specific organisation of parts [which may in certain cases reflect irreducible complexity . . . removal or breakdown of any one of a cluster of core parts is sufficient to trigger loss of function], is a reliable sign of design as cause. Where, we can independently directly observe cause or have generally accepted reliable record.

    12 –> We also further see that design is not traceable to or locked down to humanness.

    13 –> That is, in many cases being human is not sufficient, one must have relevant knowledge, skills and resources as well as motivation and opportunity etc. In other cases, such as beavers, we see designs that trace to agents that are not human, albeit in a limited context. (This leads to the onward issue of a secondary designer, i.e. can something or someone be designed and built with the capacity to design? Hence, R Daneel Olivaw and co, ultimately, if that is so. BTW, arguably, we too are secondary designers.)

    14 –> With this set of results in hand, we can then look at naturally occurring cases of FSCO/I, such as the world of life. We see here, reproducing forms based on self-replicating cells driven by metabolic automata coupled to von Neumann kinematic self replicators based on stored digital — discrete state — code and associated step by step procedures, i.e. algorithms. Where, digital code is an observable manifestation of language, and algorithms, of functional organisation working by sequenced action towards an end state of the sequence of actions.

    15 –> Each of these is a strong sign of design. And indeed, we see that OOL is plainly challenged to provide an empirically well-grounded explanation of the origin of such phenomena from a chemical stew in a pond or the like per relevant thermodynamics and reaction kinetics, etc.

    16 –> Indeed, we see in the living cell, and traceable to the earliest forms of cell based life, not only codes and algorithms but execution machines based on integrated, interacting molecular nanotechnology of astonishing sophistication.

    17 –> Things that themselves manifest thermodynamic counter-flow [note eh date and the series], and are used in further counter-flow to make the cell work against the strong trend of unconstrained nature — nature working freely — to go downhill energetically.

    18 –> In short the evidence before our eyes is that we are looking at a world of sophisticated nanotechnology that we are only just beginning to explore. Which points already to the strong candidate to explain such: design.

    19 –> Where also, we distinguish evidence that on inference to best explanation leads to the warranted (but revisable on further observed evidence) scientific conclusion of design, from the further question, what or who is/are the relevant designers.

    20 –> At this point, we see the pivotal gap in the tendentious definition offered to us above. For, the key point is that the objective evidence implicates design as process, as opposed to identifying any particular designer as specific involved agent. As I have said quite often, on the strength of progress in molecular nanotech to date, in principle, a lab some generations beyond Venter et al could do what we see. Minor scale intelligent design of life forms is an existing fact and in principle, within 100 years, we probably could do the job from scratch, with sufficient funding.

    21 –> The relevance of this — here, I point to vistas of science opening up on the emerging paradigm of design — is that this could transform development and industry, also empowering solar system colonisation.

    22 –> Specifically, we already see efforts to encapsulate a modular Industrial Civ 2.0, per Jakubowski et al and their concept of a global village construction set. Multiply this by the actual creation of a kinematic self replicator and associated general constructor, and we see a way to transform manufacturing and to modularise it based on a stored information DNA package. Mix in sustainable energy sources based on fusion etc, and off we go. If the Bussard drive based on a proposed fusion reactor works out, we are looking at getting to Titan in 74 days. Asteroid belt and heavy mineral asteroids, here we come.

    23 –> I bring this to bear, so that we can get a feel for what can be opened up based on what we are looking at. We need to break out of the dead end polarised debates of our day and the linked zero sum or negative sum [win-lose easily becomes lose-lose] power games.

    24 –> Next, let us pause at cosmological design inferences, These are based on fine tuning that sets our world up at an isolated operating point in the conceptual space of possible physics. That has led to a cosmos in which we have terrestrial planets, with the first four elements being H, He, C, and O. With N close by. Our cosmos is set up for C-chemistry, cell based aqueous medium life in so many subtle and finely balanced ways that it has led to the issue raised by Hoyle et al: physics has apparently been monkeyed with to get us here.

    25 –> That is, we are here looking — even through a multiverse speculative model — at an inference to a cosmos level designer, one that evidently set up a cosmos in which life like we enjoy has been made possible. Such a designer would be deeply knowledgable and intelligent, skilled and powerful beyond our imaginations.

    26 –> Multiply by a philosophical point, that our contingent cosmos calls for a root in a necessary being (as is discussed above in this thread and elsewhere), one that — having no external dependence on on/off enabling factors, would be eternal, i.e would exist without beginning or end in any possible world. That is similar to how the truth in 3 + 2 = 5 has no beginning, will not have an end and will hold in any possible world.

    27 –> At a worldviews level, as opposed to a scientific one, we can then see that there is reason to believe that recent reports presented in the name of science that God is out of a job, are premature. And, that the level of investigation where that comes from is worldview level reflection on the roots of the observed cosmos in light of scientific evidence pointing to fine tuning, not specifically those on the world of life.

    28 –> The inference to design on FSCO/I in the world of life is compatible with that, but it is not directly linked to it. For reasons already outlined, and in fact as have been frankly laid on the table since the days of Thaxton et al in the mid 1980′s.

    29 –> But that is not rhetorically convenient to those who have an agenda to promote a false narrative of intentions of scientists engaging in intelligent design research, in practising science. Consequently, a false but rhetorically convenient narrative has been cooked up and widely disseminated by people who should know better and should do better. That, demonstrably, is where the ID is creationism in a cheap tuxedo false narrative has come from, as I recently exposed here and in a linked series of specific posts.

    30 –> G’s proffered definition as excerpted reflects that false narrative as corrected and so is unacceptable, being tendentious and loaded, implying false accusations.

    31 –> This has already been specifically pointed out to G, but has been ignored by him. He needs to rise up to the general duties of care of scholarship to truth and fairness, and correct his assertions and insinuations.

    KF

  338. “For a finite-size system to persist in time (to live), it must evolve in such a way that it provides easier access to the imposed currents that flow through it.” Bejam Constructal Law 1996.

    The immediate red flag here is that first conditional clause “For a finite system to persist in time…” There ought, of course, be an underlying law of physics that things must persist in time, or otherwise Bejam’s law would be better stated, “If a system has persisted in time, then it will have evolved… etc”. That explains nothing more in terms of causation than the statement “For a thing not to cool down, it must remain hot.”

    We can, however, test the law using a known example – say a battleship. This is valid since “Because human beings are not separate from but a part of nature, their designs are also governed by the constructal law” (Bejam et al 2007). Let’s assume the truth of the “imposed currents flowing through” such a system, though they have been criticised as imprecise by some. Then we may ask what happens if there are two exemplary environmental changes: (a) Fuel grade oil becomes unavailable and (b) shell manufacturers change from imperial to metric measures.

    Let’s suppose that the crew try using the only available fuel, wood. Either the engines will fail, or perhaps the system will suffer catastrophic failure and explode. We also find that the metric shells are marginally bigger than the previous 15″ shells, and jam in the breech, again causing either failure of catastrophe. In either case, the ship will sink and cease to be a battleship, or at best rust away on the quayside. The sea-floor is littered with examples of such failure to evolve, so we can conclude that there is no underlying physical law of survival.

    What, then, does it take to keep the ship “alive” in Bejam’s terms? Clearly, modifications to the burners, and reaming out of the gun-barrels. The “currents” of wood (= energy source) and shells will then continue to flow, and the battleship will have “evolved” to survive as a battleship.

    Now there is clearly one thing missing from this account – the appearance of intelligent design by the ship’s architects who assess and institute the modifications. But if Bejam’s Constructal Law is actually a fundamental law of physics, as he claims, and applies to humans as well as nature, then the interposition of human intelligent design is an unnecessary multiplication of entities. Arguably it should be excluded by Occam’s razor. The battleship evolved because of fundamental physics, not because of some epiphenomenal thing called design.

    Now clearly, this is equally applicable to nature, and of course particularly to life. We have seen there is apparent design (Bejam’s use of “design” without qualification is a little misleading here) in the battleship’s evolution, yet without a designer if we accept the truth of Bejam’s Law. So why should the same thing not apply to nature, rendering an “intelligent designer” completely superfluous? In this way we have accomplished a universal theory of design without designers.

    Even so, the reason why Constructal Law is valid in the first place would then have to be explained by reference to fine-tuning, but that’s a completely different issue of course.

  339. JG:

    You are onto something.

    Bejan is looking at flow patterns — not designs [his usage of "design" is a bit loose] — to/from points and “areas.”

    For such flows, a branching tree structure as a flow network is a reasonable pattern to emerge in light of stochastic laws and patterns of access to/resistance to forming a stream. (Remember, if we canalise a river in a concrete channel, it will no more branch out or form oxbows etc, as its flow has been confined by the resistant concrete. and obviously, such a flow pattern is also very possible.)

    In terms of life forms, of course we see branching patterns in things like blood vessels and lungs. That is a valid use of the principle.

    What is not valid, would be to then, say — and I am here addressing a way this stuff can be read with the eye of Darwiniast faith once a tree pattern is spotted (not any particular individual) — look at a tree of life diagram and imagine that since this shows a branching tree structure and we have a principle that says that flows tend to branch, we have explained the spreading out of life forms into branched complex forms.

    First, because we have not actually observed such a tree pattern of gradualistic incremental flow and branching from a source to branches and twigs. It is notorious that the actual observed fossil pattern is one of sudden appearances, stasis, disappearance and/or continuity to today’s world. A field of grass or bushes, not a tree. The Cambrian case is iconic.

    Next, we know of a major “flow” constraint that is liable to canalise or outright block a flow of major forms.

    Namely, the need to provide body plan level genomic (and epigenomic) information and resulting functional organisation. Where, body plans require something like 10 – 100 mn bits of incremental info. In a context where the 10^57 atoms of our solar system are swamped by the search challenge posed by just 500 bits.

    Without a credible, empirically grounded account of the rise of such increments in info and organisation, we are again looking at just so stories and loose analogies of the sort where Darwin drew a parallel from animal breeding [dominated by Mendelian type inheritance and hard limits] to his hoped for natural selection that would give rise to unlimited variation.

    similarly, the use of the term evolution is loose and invites all sorts of sloppy analogies and equivocations.

    And your pointing to the cosmological fine-tuning implications of actually discovering laws of physics with life written into them, is also valid.

    Now, let us take up a real world case, a paper by Bejan and Lorente, with abstract:

    Constructal theory is the view that (i) the generation of images of design (pattern, rhythm) in nature is a phenomenon of physics and (ii) this phenomenon is covered by a principle (the constructal law): ‘for a finite-size flow system to persist in time (to live) it must evolve such that it provides greater and greater access to the currents that flow through it’. This law is about the necessity of design to occur, and about the time direction of the phenomenon: the tape of the design evolution ‘movie’ runs such that existing configurations are replaced by globally easier flowing configurations. The constructal law has two useful sides: the prediction of natural phenomena and the strategic engineering of novel architectures, based on the constructal law, i.e. not by mimicking nature. We show that the emergence of scaling laws in inanimate (geophysical) flow systems is the same phenomenon as the emergence of allometric laws in animate (biological) flow systems. Examples are lung design, animal locomotion, vegetation, river basins, turbulent flow structure, self-lubrication and natural multi-scale porous media. This article outlines the place of the constructal law as a self-standing law in physics, which covers all the ad hoc (and contradictory) statements of optimality such as minimum entropy generation, maximum entropy generation, minimum flow resistance, maximum flow resistance, minimum time, minimum weight, uniform maximum stresses and characteristic organ sizes. Nature is configured to flow and move as a conglomerate of ‘engine and brake’ designs.

    Notice what is happening?

    Yup, this is an attempt to reduce design to an appearance driven by laws of necessity.

    What is conspicuously missing? An account of the origin of bio-info that bridges the body plan origin gap, starting from the first, OOL. And then by begging the root of the tree of life question, the problem is made to look like hey, we have an answer to why the tree branching pattern of life forms is as it is and converges on certain often appearing patterns: flow physics.

    Nothing to account for the actual stasis and gaps pattern, or for the need to write complex genetic and regulatory algorithms to account for the forms.

    See the “no see-um” problem that REAL design is addressing?

    KF

    PS: Here is the brief exchange that came up at UD last July.

  340. Finally an attempt to answer the main question re: small-id vs. Big-ID!! Thanks to William J. Murray, even though this only serves to blow a hole in the OP’s ‘simple argument’ position.

    all theories of intelligent design, such as irreducible complexity, FSCO/I, Dembski’s examination of search algorithms with and without an “oracle”, are all necessarily about human intelligent design first” – W.J. Murray

    Allx2?!? That’s a provocative claim. Let’s reason together and see if it holds up under scrutiny.

    First, not a single DI fellow is an anthropologist, sociologist or psychologist, the three main fields that study ‘human intelligence.’ Why do you think that is, W.J. Murray and UD folks? Again, that’s just a fact, following the evidence where it leads. Don’t try to unfairly penalise me for it. And please don’t anyone try to call Dembski a psychologist because he holds a bachelor degree in psychology!

    Anthropology, sociology and psychology are among the ‘human-social sciences’ what biology, chemistry and physics are among the so-called ‘natural-physical sciences.’ That is, do any of you actually hold to Kuhn’s ‘revolutions’ interpretation of the scholarly disciplines? These are quite difference categories of subjects that are studied in natural-physical and human-social sciences. But you might wish to reject this and to purposefully conflate fundamentally unlike things, e.g. under the banner of ‘historical sciences.’

    For merely making this observation, I’ve received derogative, community bullying and simply small-minded inadequate responses here at UD for saying the truth, i.e. that Big-ID is a ‘theory/hypothesis’ focussed on OoL, OoBI and (in more recent times) ‘human origins,’ and that “There simply is no Big-ID theory of human-made things!”

    Not a single soul has commented about it in this thread – that should tell you something.

    Now, granting W.J. Murray the benefit of the doubt, i.e. his contention that “all theories of [small-id] intelligent design…are all necessarily about human intelligent design first” (which I frankly doubt is possible to even know if one hasn’t interviewed a few thousand people to discover their widely varying ‘big tent’ views of ‘ID,’ which I’m assuming W.J. Murray hasn’t done) then doesn’t this show beyond a shadow of a doubt that “theories of [small-id] intelligent design” actually *CAN* study purported ‘designers’? Iow, we know we can study human beings as small-d ‘designers.’ So why doesn’t the IDM dedicate the lion’s share of its resources to studying ‘designing’ processes by known designers in the present (and future) tense?

    Folks, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, brain surgeon or cognitive studies/philosophy of mind major to recognise that human beings can be studied in their/our ‘design processes.’ And if that’s true, then the IDM’s claim, as demonstrated by Dembski, Behe, Meyer, Nelson, Wells, et al. that ID theory *cannot* in principle study ‘designers/Designers’ is simply false.

    Second, regarding “how to properly differentiate the obvious cases of human ID from what we can expect to see in the natural world,” why then aren’t extensive case studies of human beings ‘designing’ included in Big-ID literature? Why don’t Big-ID leaders attend small-id conferences and discourse with non-Big-ID ‘design theorists?’ I’ll tell you why: because small-id theorists, i.e. the *real* design theorists, predominantly (with experience from several hundreds during my presentation at a small-id major international event) don’t want anything to do with the ideological and political movement of Big-ID that is quite obviously focussed on OoL, OoBI, (neo-)Darwinism, and plainly *not* on human-made things. Again, Big-ID theory as it is currently framed is a disanthropic theory extraordinaire!

    This is why my very specific ‘anthropic’ challenge to the IDM is so hard for Big-ID people to swallow or explain. Not only do I support the distinction that esteemed scholar and Christian astronomer Owen Gingerich, along with leaders of the ASA have made, but I go further than that. I use studies of humanity, iow, I include the study of human beings making things to show that Big-ID theory, according to its leaders, is simply is not interested in and (perhaps more clearly to those who would argue they are interested) not personally involved in those actual fields of study. This is simply a fact of history according to what fields the IDM investigates and includes in its writings. As Americans tend to understand, “resistance is futile.”

    (cont’d)

  341. (cont’d)

    They use the at-hand example – human ID – to generate their proposed evaluatory methodologies for making cases about potential non-human ID.” – W.J. Murray

    All you are saying about Big ID theory, if that is the case, is that it is an EXTENSION of (the vocabulary of) ‘human ID’ (which, as I have stated above, is simply jargon) to non-human-made things. That is not a valid ‘methodology;’ it leaps a gap of communicative faith. Origins of Life were unarguably *not* ‘human-made’! You couldn’t get that fantastic claim published in a peer-reviewed journal of serious scholars in your lifetime. People simply wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) believe it.

    If there were a ‘human ID’ expert among Big-ID leadership, who would it be? Johnson, Dembski, Behe, Meyer, Nelson, Wells – none of these folks qualify. None of them has dedicated their lives to the study of human-made things. Sorry if the facts don’t support your current perspective. I’m just following the evidence where it leads.

    That takes us to flip-flopping ‘Timaeus,’ who wrote: “On the question of the study of “design” and “designed things” in human affairs, I have absolutely nothing against research on the subject by sociologists, anthropologists, and others. It is perfectly appropriate to study human “designing,” as it is appropriate to study human music-making and war-making and all human things.”

    This ‘absolutely nothing against’ drivel from Timaeus is rhetorical lip-service with nothing substantial behind it. If “sociologists, anthropologists, and others” *were* to study ‘design’ and ‘designed things’ then they almost surely wouldn’t call it small-id ‘intelligent design’ theory or wish to be associated with the IDM. Regardless of that, Timaeus is simply not qualified in those realms and would be attempting to trick everyone here if he pretended to speak for human-social scientists (who is he supposedly ‘not against,’ but is certainly not ‘for,’ based on his ‘calm’ hostilities!).

    This is something that you folks may finally wish to come to terms with because it is a reality of the current intellectual landscape (as much as you may personally hate intellectuals for it!). Timaeus has argued with me here in the past that Big-ID theory – iow, what he personally means by ‘ID’ theory speaking from the margins – is focussed on OoL, OoBI and more recently ‘human origins,’ and that it has *nothing* to do with human-made things. He has attempted to mock me for it here, depending for support on the ‘ID community’ to reject any and all anti-IDists, regardless if it means they have to give up on critical thought in the process and to just speak dogmatically, masquerading as ‘ID/idists’. But not a single person in the IDM has provided a positive or quantifiable Big-ID theory of human-made things, iow of small-id theory, which likewise is supported by orthodox Abrahamic believers. That’s just a fact.

    So what choice do you really have other than to emotionally reject my reasonable non-ID observation and hope that someone will come along to deliver Big-ID from obscurity and intellectual expulsion into scholarly legitimacy? You have no choice. Viva la Big-ID revolucion!

    Gregory

    p.s. if ‘Axel’ wishes to avoid basic internet etiquette and keeps referring to me by any other name than what is listed at the top of my posts, then I reserve the right to call him something other than what is listed for him or request that he be moderated. He is not chummy with me, I don’t know him, don’t respect his views on the topic of our conversation and he has received no agreement from me to shorten my name. Thanks for your courtesy, UD.

    p.p.s. if Jon Garvey, Timaeus or others wish to take up Bejan’s ‘design in nature’ position, with which, like them, I also disagree, they are welcome to start a thread here about it at UD. It is long (a least a year or more) overdue!

    p.p.s. no more time on my schedule to respond to this thread today, (from very cold here) happy Sunday!

  342. F/N: Just to pick one point, the comparison of a lung with a river delta, our own MH has commented:

    what about the differences between river deltas and lungs?

    River deltas form due to the deposition of sediment. The sedimentation is what causes the delta to form by either diverting the original flow or by the formation of new channels during flooding. Over time, the delta grows larger and can eventually completely relocate, as the Mississippi delta has done several times throughout its history. But it must be noted that the branching associated with a river delta is simply the result of the sediment losing energy, falling out of the flow and building up to the point that the river is forced to branch. This is due to pure physicality, and is contingent on whether or not the sediment blocks the flow. All that is required for there to be a river is water + gravity + any landscape. And even if the river becomes completely blocked, it still ‘flows up’ until it finds a spot to flow back down again. The river is going to flow so long as there is a constant infeed of water, with or without the sediment.

    If a delta does form, it is true that the delta morphs over time, but so what? The sediment is not part of the flow per se; it only either travels with the flow, or redirects the flow after it has been deposited. Further, the fact that there is a flow at all is not dependant on the sediment. The formation of the delta is simply the work performed by the flow. The channels are carved and the sediments are picked up and deposited by the flow. The river will flow whether it carves out channels or not, and if it does carve channels, it will flow whether the channels morph or not. And if the flow stops (or ‘dies’), it is because the water was turned off, which has nothing to do with anything other than the water having been turned off.

    Now what about lungs?

    Lung formation is highly conserved, in that the branching of both the air passages and the blood passages are the same for all individuals, at least up to a point. This includes number of branches, length of the branches, angle of branching, etc. I am not a doctor, so I don’t know to what degree this branching is conserved (i.e. when does the branching become unique for each person, if ever), but even if the number of clusters of alveoli is not conserved, the lung must still maintain a certain shape, for the size, shape and number of lobes are conserved as well. River deltas are not like this, for they are formed by the random deposition of silt, hence their random branching and shifting. Lung formation is algorithmic, following a set of rules (e.g. grow until this long, then divide in two at these angles, grow until this long, then divide in two at these angles, do until this length or volume is achieved, terminate with alveoli). Lung growth is algorithmic, not random like the formation of river deltas.

    After the lung structures have been formed, the flow of the fluids can then ensue. But it must be noted that the fluid flow begins only after the passages (i.e. channels: bronchi, arteries, etc.), are already formed. The passage formation is independent and prior to the fluid flow through the passages or channels. Rivers form the channels in which the rivers flow, and the river basin or delta forms subsequent to the flow of water; but because the lungs form before the flow of air and blood even begins, something else entirely other than said flow has obviously caused the growth and development of the lungs.

    So with the lungs we actually have two distinct flows. The first is a flow of materials during the process of lung development, in that the air and blood passages must be manufactured, and are built on and bifurcate from the previously built bronchi and arteries. But it is only after these passage ways have been constructed that the secondary flow of air and blood can happen at all. The first flow of materials is controlled by a set of instructions, and the second flow of fluids is controlled and directed by the structures built by the first flow. Rivers and river deltas are not like this at all.

    In light of this, it should be painfully obvious that Bejan has completely ignored the ways in which these structures are built, which are so fundamentally disparate that I don’t understand why he conflates the two, other than in an effort to sell his constructal theory to the uninitiated.

    We see the same issue again of the contract between nature acting freely and design, real design.

    All right, gotta go now.

    KF

  343. OOPS: contrast and earlier ambiguity was meant. KF

  344. F/N: It is evident that G has not seriously interacted with the way that we seek to explain traces from the past by accounting for causes of similar effects through investigating currently observable phenomena and identifying reliable, observable signs that are parallel, leading to inferences to best explanation. This has been pointed out many times, but the triumphalistic remarks we again see show us that G has not seriously interacted with the question how can we make a scientific reconstruction of a past we did not see and have no records of that are generally recognised. Where, in the case of phenomena such as digital code string data structures in DNA that work algorithmically, the accessible comparisons are cases of digital string data structures that are functionally specific, which turn out to be designed by skilled, knowledgeable programmers. And where, per the needle in the haystack or monkeys at keyboards exercise, we know that blind chance and mechanical necessity would be maximally unlikely to hit on functional configs within the atomic resources and time credibly available. Sad, really. Later, really got to go now. KF

  345. Gregory:

    ‘Big-ID’ theory refers to the Discovery Institute’s approach, as the institution at the heart of an American social-political-educational-religious-cultural movement, which promotes the idea that ‘design/Design’ can be (and even has been!) proven ‘in nature’ by natural scientific methods. This claim is promoted by the ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’ movement (IDM, or Big-ID community), though most natural scientists, including both theists and non-theists, have rejected Big-ID theory as unscientific. Here one has to use both not-capitalized and capitalized forms of id/ID for the sake of clarity in communication because the IDM uses both variants whenever they believe it suits them.

    1- It should be noted that the “natural scientists” acnnot support their own claims- so their rejection of Big ID means NOTHING as the way to the Big ID infernece is through theor lame position. Heck they can’t even produce a testable hypothesis for their materialistic position. They have absolutely nothing.

    2- What is small id?

    3- Is there a theory of archaeology?

    4- Is there a theory of forensic science?

  346. Gregory:

    All you are saying about Big ID theory, if that is the case, is that it is an EXTENSION of (the vocabulary of) ‘human ID’ (which, as I have stated above, is simply jargon) to non-human-made things. That is not a valid ‘methodology;’ it leaps a gap of communicative faith.

    What complete CRAP- Cause and effect relationships, Gregory. By understanding what humans and other organisms can do within nature it adds to our knowledge of cause and effect relationships.

    So when we observe something that nature, operating freely could not have produced and we know there weren’t any humans around to do it, we do NOT then say that nature did it. We infer some agency other than a human did.

    Nature doesn’t miraculously get designing powers just because humans were not around.

    IOW Gregory, I would never let you lead an investigation- not if I am around anyway.

  347. 349


    “There simply is no Big-ID theory of human-made things!”

    Not a single soul has commented about it in this thread – that should tell you something.

    Semiosis. #119, #171, #204

  348. Particularly great points in 345, Joe.

    ’1- It should be noted that the “natural scientists” acnnot support their own claims- so their rejection of Big ID means NOTHING as the way to the Big ID infernece is through theor lame position. Heck they can’t even produce a testable hypothesis for their materialistic position. They have absolutely nothing.

    2- What is small id?

    3- Is there a theory of archaeology?

    4- Is there a theory of forensic science?’

    I see he’s rabbiting on about Abraham again. Is no-one sacred?

  349. 351

    And if that’s true, then the IDM’s claim, as demonstrated by Dembski, Behe, Meyer, Nelson, Wells, et al. that ID theory *cannot* in principle study ‘designers/Designers’ is simply false.

    I’d like to see the quotes that indicate this.

    Whether or not anyone in any field that would be associated with examining different aspects of the capacity of humans to intelligently designe “would have anything to do with” “the IDM”, as you put it, or intelligent design theory in general, is irrelevant. ID is a seriously controversial and divisive political and ideological hot potato, where people can risk careers simply by supporting it.

    Where SETI is obviously and patently trying to detect intelligently designed signals, they rejected that idea and tried to deny it when someone in the design community brought it up. The major ID proponents have used forensics, cryptography, SETI, the movie “Contact”, machines, mousetraps, factories, 747s, search programs/algorithms, binary code, language, etc. as examples of their particular ID theoretical meethodology. Those are all human-made and examples of human ID, extrapolated via an attempt to formulate a rigorous method.

    That anthropologists, or cryptographers, or SETI, or forensic investigators either do not consider what they are doing to be ID detection, or wouldn’t have anything to do with ID, is irrelevant. Most of the well-known ID authors have pointed to those very things as examples of ID detection in action.

    I don’t really understand where you think irreducible complexity, FSCI/O, explanatory filter, etc. comes from other than by examining human ID artifacts and drawing up general and rigorous methods of differentiating those things from nature. Whether or not Behe, Dembski, Meyer, et al are good at or qualified to make quantifiable distinctions between what human ID produces (in some cases) and what nature produces is irrelevant to whether or not it is a sound principle for scientific investigation.

    However, all of that is really beside the point; you’re not arguing against me or my points in the OP; you’re apparently treating me as if I’m the surrogate for some other argument that may or may not have been intended by other ID proponents.

    I also don’t understand why you insist on framing your argument in terms of what Meyer, Behe, et al have said, or have not said; or in terms of how controversial ID is, or how many other fields “would have anything to do with” ID. What differnence does any of that make to the soundness of my argument in the O.P.?

    Even if you are making the counter-claim to my OP’s point (that human to non-human ID detection is a scientifically valid proposal), nothing you write here about who has done what, how good they are at it, what their motives are, what their beliefs are, what their credentials are, what they have said or how different aspects of the issue are classified makes any difference whatsoever.

    Either detecting non-human ID product (based on examining human ID product) is, in principle, a scientifically valid enterprise (whether or not anyone at present has a means to do so), or it is not. I’ve made a case based on principle, using obvious examples, extrapolated via a hypothetical alien “artifact” scenario that not only is it a valid scientific enterprise, but also potentially a practical one, and I’ve made the case that it is ideological intransigence that attempts to stymie acceptance of this basic concept as scientific.

    This is my argument – not Behe’s or Dembski’s or Meyer’s. Whether or not I have the credentials or ability to do the science myself, or whether anyone else is willing, or whether or not any papers have been published on the topic is, again, irrelevant to my argument here.

    Unless it is your position that ID is simply unavailable to scientific quantification, or that there is some principle that disallows us from scientifically recognizing it in non-human alien objects, or some reason why human ID to non-human ID cannot be a valid extrapolation, then I don’t see you supplying anything here that actually has to do with the O.P. (which you are apparently treating as if it is a surrogate post of other ID proponents about some larger political/philosphical/religious views.)

    You have apparently assumed that I’m making an argument that I am not making. You’ve imposed an framework here that has nothing whatsoever to do with my argument about ID as I intended it. Perhaps when some people simply write the letters “ID” or “id”, to you, that necessarily indicates all of the stuff you’ve been inserting into this thread; but your inference is mistaken.

    Perhaps if you read the O.P. again, as if I’m not the surrogate of some ID movement continuing someone else’s arguement, you can get a better idea of the argument I’ve actually presented here.

  350. KF

    Bejan’s “law”, then… apologies for consistent typo above. “Bejam” was a UK frozen food retailer… Bejan’s law only applies to human design by downplaying the one thing that we know from experience to be vital for it, that is human foresight, purpose and planning.

    To say one disagrees with him on that particular human aspect, but agrees when he applies exactly the same arguments to “natural” design (in this case meaning the complexities of living things to which design arguments a have always been applied, as opposed to river deltas etc to which they have not, historically) is a merely a statement of personal prejudice, and not an argument.

    If human deliberation is invisible to his theory, he’s hardly going to see an invisible designer, but has nothing to say that will exclude one.

  351. I looked up Gregory’s links to Bejan.

    I bought his book. I hope I don’t regret it, but I probably will, lol.

  352. Mung: I would like to propose a third category, BIG I BIG D INTELLIGENT DESIGN!

    Gregory: Go ahead then, Mung. By all means do so. Great idea!

    ok, but first some ground rules.

    BIG I BIG D INTELLIGENT DESIGN is what you call small i small d intelligent design. It starts with the idea of God as Creator.

    (Most people would just us the word Creationism. I don’t know what wrong with these people. Why they have taken on the mantle of intelligent design. No doubt an interesting sociological study in it’s own right.)

    So you’ll need to start using he terms appropriate to what is meant, and have all your colleagues, such as Gingerich, get on board as well.

    Then we can all fight it out over who gets to use small i small d intelligent design and what it means.

    Yes, Gregory, I am laying it all on the feet of those who have decided, for whatever reason, to use “intelligent design” to describe their view when previously they would never have thought to do so. For money, perhaps? The latest fad, and all that?)

  353. Timaeus, for what it’s worth, Greg can’t use Dawkins Defence against debating with Christian ‘attack-dogs’, such as William Lane Craig, so he likewise feels inordinately threatened by the arguments also actually speaking to the issues, on this forum – hence the animus.

    However, you should bear in mind that a man with a brilliant intelligence, such as Stephen Hawking, can simultaneously be a total – and I mean, ‘total’ – idiot, as described in the quote from a BA post on another thread:

    ‘BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: What is worse, multiplying without limit the opportunities for any event to happen in the context of a multiverse – where it is alleged that anything can spontaneously jump into existence without cause – produces a situation in which no absurdity is beyond the pale. For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.’

    So, Timaeus, never be surprised at the depth of the folly the intelligentsia’s finest can plumb – never mind poor, old Greg. As regards Greg and his fellow Estabishment myrmidons, ‘do not look for figs to grow on thorns’.

  354. First, not a single DI fellow is an anthropologist, sociologist or psychologist, the three main fields that study ‘human intelligence.’

    So? Neither is Adrian Bejan.

  355. I should really have specified that this capacity for (literally in Hawking’s case, here) infinite folly, on the part of the most distinguished intellectuals, is always allied to a deficit of divine grace in terms of wisdom.

  356. Gregory:

    So why doesn’t the IDM dedicate the lion’s share of its resources to studying ‘designing’ processes by known designers in the present (and future) tense?

    Why would it need to be the lion’s share?

    And, if it is as you say that others are already doing this work, why should the DI waste resources doing what is already being done?

    Folks, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, brain surgeon or cognitive studies/philosophy of mind major to recognise that human beings can be studied in their/our ‘design processes.’

    As I’ve said in the past, this is a point at which I actually agree with Gregory. We can study design and designers and I think it could be good to incorporate more from the literature on design.

    And yes, Gregory, I have books on this very thing, e.g.,

    How Designers Think: The Design Process Demystified

    But given Gregory’s view that we cannot make inferences based on what we find studying human designers, what would be the point???

    … the IDM’s claim, as demonstrated by Dembski, Behe, Meyer, Nelson, Wells, et al. that ID theory *cannot* in principle study ‘designers/Designers’ is simply false.

    Or you’re lying. Again.

  357. Gregory:

    Iow, we know we can study human beings as small-d ‘designers.’

    I thought small i small d intelligent design meant GODDIDIT!

  358. Gregory:

    I’ll tell you why: because small-id theorists, i.e. the *real* design theorists, predominantly (with experience from several hundreds during my presentation at a small-id major international event) don’t want anything to do with the ideological and political movement of Big-ID that is quite obviously focused on OoL, OoBI, (neo-)Darwinism, and plainly *not* on human-made things.

    Since it is you and your crowd that want nothing to do with us, why are you blaming us, lol?

  359. WJM:

    At this point, pardon my doubts, but I doubt that G is doing more than skimming the thread and scooping up hooks to reiterate his own long since addressed and corrected, past dump by date assertions.

    This is like ever so many before him who we could name, and what it goes to is letting the astute onlooker see that the reason someone acts like this, is that they have no really sound answer on the merits of observational fact and cogent analysis relative to such.

    As to the tired old no quantification of design detection game, above we saw a LIVE case, using a metric that is rooted in the underlying analysis of specific and specified zones in a much larger config space and the search resources to go looking for the needle in the haystack by blind mechanisms tracing to chance and necessity. G simply brushed it aside, not because he has a real answer but because it was in his way of drumming on his favourite rhetorical drums.

    In short, all of this is a grand exercise in irrelevancy by way of distraction. Sadly, with a bit of contempt laced atmosphere poisoning and well poisoning tossed in.

    Worse, when we have paused and looked at the taxonomy he has suggested and championed, we see that it is tendentious and insidiously poisonous.

    However, the danger is, we are going up against a largely successful but deceitful smear (“ID is Creationism in a cheap tuxedo . . . “), so many people will be taken in by it. Regardless of the actual evident facts.

    My conclusion on that one, is that those who create or sustain or support smears and false narratives like that, are responsible for the damage they do by such means. And sooner or later, there will be a day of reckoning.

    The key matter is plain.

    There is obviously a major difference between a pile of ore-rocks and a battleship, above and beyond the already intelligently designed counterflow processing required to generate the alloys etc required and to process them into sheets of armour, or gun tubes etc. (Do yo want to go down the lines of the wire wound gun favoured by the British for large guns up to the end of the WW I era? Cordite vs single base powder? Lyddite vs TNT? The fatal difference that made at Jutland when multiplied by careless powder handling in the interests of firing shells as fast as possible?)

    Even more obviously, Battleships are built in accordance with carefully calculated and drawn designs, which also require a technological evolution of “eating your mistakes.” (That is why something like Warspite was in a different league from Viribus Unitis or Dreadnought herself [essentially obsolete by 1916 . . . didn't even fight at Jutland], and these were both well beyond Texas or Majestic, or going back even further, Warrior. And again, that is why Tirpitz, or a KGV, or Iowa or Yamato were again well beyond ships of the WW I era, even those of the famous 5th battle Squadron such as Warspite. And I need not speak about the fatal compromises of the British battlecruisers Invincible et al by contrast with say Derfflinger or Lutzow [three lost to sudden explosions at Jutland], though it is obvious that the fast battleships of WW II picked up on the idea of adding speed to protection and heavy guns.)

    The very existence of those drawings with the calculations behind them, points to how we can reduce such to structured and linked strings of stored information using AutoCAD or the like. That can give us at least a reasonable order of magnitude estimate on the information content in the careful organisation required to make a functional battleship. (I hardly need to highlight the sort of configurational constraints that had to be met for the ship to work and be successful as a fleet weapons platform in the face of 11″ or 12″ shellfire and up, at the equivalent of a Jutland. Let’s just say, that — though innovative in some ways — the Austrian ships were marginal, as the loss of St Istvan showed.)

    Of course, such drawings can also be worked up from observing and drawing from the actual object, as is a common exercise for architecture or engineering students. Or, in archaeology.

    And again, the sampling theory, needle in the haystack result still obtains, if you want quantification.

    Once you are reasonably beyond 500 functionally specific bits, you have something that is maximally unlikely to have come about by the atomic resources of our solar system running at 10^14 ops per second [fast chem rxn rate], to have found by a blind chance and mechanical necessity search procedure. And by maximally unlikely, I mean, the equivalent of tasking a one straw sized sample from a cubical haystack 1,000 light years on the side, about the thickness of our galaxy. If such were superposed on our galactic neighbourhood, there would be thousands of stars in it, but there would be so much otherwise empty space filled with notional straw, that he overwhelming sampling theory result is that such a blind sample would with all but certainty pick straw and nothing else.

    That is why there is nothing exotic int eh log reduced expression:

    Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold.

    If it goes positive on a reasonable estimate for the specific info content of an object, we can be reasonably assured that that object was produced by the only observed process that produces FSCO/I: design.

    Of course, that indicates that the living cell is designed and major body plans are designed. Which as we all know, is verboten in certain quarters.

    Tough luck.

    Until and unless, such can show us that nature acting freely and blindly by mechanical necessity and chance processes can and does spontaneously generate FSCO/I we have every epistemic right to accept that the best causal explanation for entities or aspects of objects exhibiting FSCO/I, is design.

    That, in one form or another has been on the table for years, many years. Indeed, if we count all the way back to Wicken and Orgel, 30 – 40 years.

    A full generation.

    After all that time, what the objectors have is rhetoric (as we have seen yet again in this thread), not observed cases, and in the pivotal case of OOL, the matter is far worse today than 40 years ago.

    That tells us that we are on to something, and that it is revolutionary in implications in the teeth of a science, education and culture elite establishment dominated by a priori materialism and its fellow travellers.

    To which, as one whose spiritual heritage goes back to the heirs of the man who said unless he could be convinced by direct evidence and cogent reason, he stood where he stood and could do no other but stand on his convictions and the evidence and reasoning that had led him there, that is fine by me.

    Let today’s Diets scheme and scream as they will, in the end, absent ability to actually show us good observational reason for their claims, they will plainly lose. Lose in a way that is not going to look good in the history books to be written, when the current mess is sorted out. (Like how I am seeing the way the Eastern Roman Empire collapsed from 1071 on, through rash and even treacherous battle field tactics in the teeth of centuries of counsel and training otherwise, multiplied by a decade of in-fighting that let the Turkish hordes devastate central Anatolia. They just were never the same again after that decade. My take home lesson, is that you can make nonsense sound good and gain political success with it all you want, one day, there comes a day of reckoning, and too often that is going to be a battlefield. The deadly British battlecruiser failure and the related failure of British shells at Jutland comes to mind as a more recent example, as well as the dreadful first day on the Somme, so also the horror Petain faced — having warned and been sidelined for it — of paying a devastating price in blood to hold the line, marching men to near certain death by the tens of thousands, in payment for blunders made by others; but having to simply let his heart lurch as he stood by the road watching the young men of 1916 march to the front at Verdun to hold the Kaiser off fr the sake of France, at the price of rivers of blood. All, in that fateful year, 1916. And, I do not envy his fate in old age, of having to come out of retirement to lead a rump French state under the German thumb, because the next time around, they could not hold the line against the Panzers. When will we wake up to our own follies? [Pardon, let me get back to this specific -- though connected -- matter. We need to wake up and understand that playing politics and rhetoric games with serious matters with sobering potential consequences is not good enough, not by a long, long, long shot. And yet, there are ever so many examples of the march of folly in history.])

    On the track record of these 40 years since Orgel, they aren’t even close.

    Let us state the obvious, regardless of who wants to deny it and play rhetorical games to evade the obvious facts.

    A battleship is plainly distinct from a pile of ore rocks, just as if we sere to find a space version sitting under a pile of rocks on Mars, or one shot through but in the process of von Neumann self replication when so destroyed in the asteroid belt, we would have excellent reason to reach one and the same conclusion.

    The difference between a battleship and a pile of rocks is plainly — on abundant empirical evidence, and analysis to back it up — design.

    And if we cannot face something as obvious as that, something is wrong.

    Deeply, terribly wrong.

    KF

  360. It would seem that some people think that the belief that God created the heavens and the earth is a matter of faith without evidence, of revelation without observation.

    But why must that be so, and what does Scripture say about it?

    Why should it be the case that revelation cannot come about by observation of the heavens and the earth? Is there some reason God cannot use our (five?) senses in conjunction without our thinking about what we have observed to reveal truths to us?

  361. Upright BiPed,

    If you keep posting uncomfortable facts you’ll continue to be ignored.

  362. I wish ID people would come to realize that it is not possible to have a rational discussion with Gregory. He will not answer questions and the questions he asks make no sense. Obviously, his definition of Big ID is a puff of blue smoke from start to finish, and the few elements in it that are comprehensible are demonstrably false.

    Meanwhile, he lobs this muddled offering:

    Simple question – Yes or No: Is there an ‘intelligent design’ theory of human-made things? If you want it asked in another way, is there a leader of the IDM that proposes an id/ID theory of human-made things?

    What on earth does that mean?

    Is he asking about a theory for how humans design things? If so, it depends on which thing is being designed. Not all human made things are designed the same way.

    Is he asking about the thought process by which one design conception is ruled out in favor of another? There are as many ways of being creative as there are human beings.

    Is he asking about the means by which a design conception is transformed into a designed artifact? Not every creative idea makes the cut.

    Is he asking for a theory about how humanly designed things work? Not all designed things work the same way.

    Is he asking about a theory for the history of design? Some theories [postmodern] say that design is a function of history and that it emerges through social interaction and application. Other theories [realism] say it is a function of architecture and precedes its application.

    Is he asking about a theory that differentiates simple designs from complex designs?

    Is he asking for a theory of cultural attitudes about design?

    Is he asking about the religious belief in a designed universe that launched the birth of modern science?

    Is he asking about the cosmological arguments for design that supported and, in some cases, lead to the religious belief in a designed universe that launched the birth of modern science?

    Is he asking for the theory that will provide answers to all of the above? That would explain why he proposes the incredible idea of amalgamating theological,philosophical,scientific,historical,anthropological,sociological, and psychological paradigms (sorry if I left anyone out) into one global methodology for knowing everything about design from every specialized perspective?

    Is he asking about a theory for detecting the presence of human design? Well, no, we can rule that one out. The one thing that Gregory cannot abide is a science of design detection.

    I could go on, but surely you get the idea. Gregory doesn’t think through his questions. He doesn’t understand that the scientist (or any rational investigator) must, to some extent, narrow down his topic in order to develop the appropriate methodology or to even make sense of the subject matter. His question is so naively constructed that no rational answer is possible.

    This is probably the same kind of question he asked when he “stumped” Bruce Gordon. Gregory is thinking, “I’ve got him! I’ve got the man.” Meanwhile, Gordon is thinking, “What in the name of sense is this guy talking about?”

  363. F/N: Though I have already answered the material part of an appendix at 118 addressed to me [starting with my prompt but ignored remarks at 120], let me do a for record so the objectors at the usual sites will be plainly acting in the teeth of correction.

    Sadly, this is going to be a waste of a good slice of a Sunday afternoon, but it seems sadly to be necessary to address for the record.

    I interleave comments:

    _________________

    >> KairosFocus will likely come back at this with his FSCI universalism.>>

    1 –> Namecalling and setting up a strawman. At no point have I or any other person set up FSCO/I as a universal sign of design. For reasons again just outlined, we have warrant to see functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information as empirically reliable, analytically credible signs of design.

    >>Let him simply answer this question before adding a long post that tells us nothing specific about how human-made things (i.e. artefacts) have actually been (small-id) ‘intelligently designed’ in such a way that they can be helpfully addressed by Big-ID theory, which is not ‘designed’ to address them:>>

    2 –> More strawman tactics. Design is a known cause of effects, and in many relevant cases leaves traces that contain signs pointing to design as cause.

    3 –> in addition the terminology used is loaded with unjustified implications, and is inappropriate.

    >> What is the FSCO/I metric for calculating 1) the ‘complexity’ of any NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL team,>>

    4 –> I have pointed out several times that such a team is a sociotechnical system, and will have many integral aspects that will manifest FSCO/I well beyond the threshold to infer reliably to design as relevant causal factor, e,g. the accounting system or files of player contracts. No grand estimate for total FSCO/I involved is needed and G knows or should know it. G has continued to speak as though I have not answered his case study no 1, i.e. he has constructed a false narrative.

    >>2) the probability of the events occurring as they did on 11-09-2001,>>

    5 –> If G has done any decision theory, he would know that decisions are not probability points, as they are functions of deliberate choice. This is of course also in a context where G is probably trying to divert an analysis on SAMPLING of a space of possibilities, into a hoped for morass on calculating probabilities.

    6 –> The answers to which are that a sampling result is far more robust than a probability estimate on some model of the space, and that the most relevant situation OOL in some chemical stew is subject to standard statistical thermodynamics and reaction kinetics analyses that come down to impossibly dilute concentrations of life-relevant polymers.

    6 –> Further to this, the prediction of such actions is a task for strategic analysis, informed by a great many sources. FYI, in 1995 or so, Tom Clancy predicted a tactic of crashing planes into buildings that may have helped spark the line of thinking. In the event, that Tue morning, I received a call from home at work, and said, a bomber crashed into the Empire State Building in WW II, probably this is an accident. Maybe 1/2 hr later, a call on a plane hitting the second WTC building. My immediate reply was “That’s Bin Laden.”

    >>and 3) the colour tie and matching or non-matching sock colour that Barack Obama chooses to wear on any given day?>>

    7 –> Strawman on steroids, playing at Saul Alinsky mockery by trying to drag focus away from what an explanatory filter based FSCO/I analysis does and tries to do, to demand something zany that can be used in cruel mockery.

    8 –> With this step G’s character crashes in flames. Of course, since he is doubtless playing the anonymity game, he may not care. But, this speaks volumes on what is really going on here.

    >> Please note, KF, I’m just looking for numbers, bits of information, etc. – a whole whack of pseudo-explanatory text is not needed or requested.>>

    9 –> The same Alinsky tactics now continue. G knows or should know that he is asking for a row boat to sprout wings and fly, on pain of saying the rowboat is no good for what it is made to do and the one who built it is therefore incompetent. This is sadly, utterly unreasonable and utterly revealing of character on his part, or more properly, the want of it.

    >> Just provide the FSCO/I calculation numbers for these artefacts and events please.>>

    10 –> And the Alinsky tactics continue.

    >> We of course *all* already know that small-d ‘design’ is involved in these things, so that should make it easier for you to calculate using mathematics and probability alone, since the small-d ‘designers’ of these artefacts can be observed, even if their small-i ‘intelligence’ is a much more complicated question. >>

    11 –> Strawman tactic. More of the rowboats should fly or they are no good as rowboats game. Demanding an irrelevancy B in order to deride something that does job A well enough, is sheer rhetoric, revealing of G’s character, and has nothing to do with design inferences.

    12 –> G knows or should know that the design inference explanatory filter is first looking at hi/lo contingency, not probability. Low contingency events manifest natural regularities and we identify lawlike mechanical necessity in explanation. E.g. a dropped heavy object near earth tends to fall at 9.8 N/kg.

    13 –> In the case of high contingency [such as which side of a die is uppermost], there are two known major causes that might be at work: chance, stochastic processes or design. We can toss a fair die and observe its statistics, or we could set a die to read a given value.

    14 –> Suppose we came across 200 dice in a row [4,28 * 10^155 possibilities], in no particular order and reflecting the well known expected result, roughly 1/6 being in any given state of uppermost face. That would likely be by the chance result of tossing, and would require no further explanation.

    15 –> However, if the dice all read 1 or 6, or went 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, repeat to 200 dice, we would instantly infer design. Same, if we were to observe that they spelled out the first 72 or so letters of this post in sequence.

    16 –> Why? Because we intuitively understand the sampling result without needing to calculate any probabilities on any particular debatable model. We know the in no particular order states so outnumber specific and functional ones such as described, that we realise that with all but certainty, a random toss is utterly unlikely to produce anything else than a case from the bulk of the possibilities, on needle in haystack grounds. (This, BTW, is very close to the statistical reasoning behind the second law of thermodynamics.)

    17 –> The explanatory filter is a way to use the above, and the expression for Chi_500 gives a mathematical model that does much the same thing.

    ___________________

    So, again, G has refused to attend to cogent reasoning and results. That speaks volumes.

    KF

  364. Mr. Murray, you wrote to Gregory:

    “You have apparently assumed that I’m making an argument that I am not making. You’ve imposed an framework here that has nothing whatsoever to do with my argument about ID as I intended it. Perhaps when some people simply write the letters “ID” or “id”, to you, that necessarily indicates all of the stuff you’ve been inserting into this thread; but your inference is mistaken.

    “Perhaps if you read the O.P. again, as if I’m not the surrogate of some ID movement continuing someone else’s arguement, you can get a better idea of the argument I’ve actually presented here.”

    I think you have hit upon part of the explanation for Gregory’s behavior. He quite often, in my experience, reads whole policies, philosophies, and world views into particular arguments, so that when his conversation partner believes himself or herself to be defending only the narrow set of proposals that he or she has formally argued, that conversation partner suddenly finds himself/herself under assault, with his unstated opinions on a whole range of other matters suddenly “on trial,” and with motives imputed to him/her on no other ground than that his/her position reminds Gregory of someone else’s, where Gregory thinks he knows the motives of “someone else.”

    So you can use the phrase “intelligent design” quite innocently, in what strikes you as a “common sense” way that everyone here will understand, yet Gregory will likely read something else into it. And if you capitalize “Intelligent Design” (which you might easily do, as many writers, without conscious decision, vary the capitalization of the phrase), Gregory will read into that capitalization the usage of some other person who has made a special distinction for “ID” as opposed to “id.”

    It does no good telling Gregory that you didn’t mean anything in particular by the use of capitals; Gregory will insist that the use of capitals is deep with metaphysical significance, and that you must either accept all of that metaphysical significance, or formally repudiate your use of capitals, etc. He is simply obsessed with the ID/id distinction.

    Historical perspective would tell him that William Paley and Charles Darwin both discussed “design” and never bothered about whether it was capitalized or not. Philosophical training would tell him that the argument you are making does not depend on how you or anyone else capitalizes or lower-cases any particular terms. But history and philosophy do not matter to Gregory — he sinks his teeth into someone over the use of a phrase, and his grip is like that of a pit bull. The difference is that if a pit bull realized that it had made a mistake — that it had, in the darkness, bit the hand of its owner, rather than of the burglar, the pit bull would let go. But showing Gregory that he has misconceived the intentions of the person arguing does not make him let go. He is too committed to a certain analysis to stop once he starts.

    I do not know what causes this behavior in Gregory. I do not understand his psyche. And it is my impression that few people do.

    People might understand Gregory better if he could occasionally let up on the “pistols at dawn” style of argumentation and lay out some of his background concerns for us. I made a positive suggestion in this regard: He could give us a narrative account (non-argumentative) of the program he took at the Discovery Institute: its structure, its sequence, its teachers, its methods of evaluation, what he hoped for in entering the program, how he spent his time while he was there, what he learned about ID/id that he didn’t know before, what he liked about the program, what he didn’t like about it, what changes he would recommend, whether it would be a worthwhile experience for others, etc. This would help us to understand how Gregory perceives ID and id and why he makes such a sharp distinction between them, and would help us to understand how he might be reading some of his experience at Discovery into some of the arguments made here. It should have a beneficial effect on Gregory’s reception here. It should allow us to read him with more understanding of where he is “coming from” and therefore read him more charitably. But for some reason, Gregory has not only not accepted my suggestion, but has refused even to respond to it, though I have made it several times, and under more than one column here — and always politely.

    I can do no more. Gregory’s motives are entirely opaque to casual readers here, and mostly opaque to even experienced posters here who have long experience of his style of argument. He knows — or should know — that it is not his conclusions, but his style of argument, which make him so unpopular here. He knows — or should know — that he comes across as extremely aggressive. He should understand by now that his approach causes *what* he is saying to be drowned out by *how* he is saying it.

    As a sociologist, Gregory surely knows the important of perception in the success or failure of many ideas and movements in history. It is therefore only sensible for him to ask: “Is it possible that I am so uniformly rejected at UD, not because every single poster there is stupid, ignorant, stubborn, dishonest, but because of the way I appear to the people there? Are there ways that I could express my position differently? If I were to appeal to UD people as honest, intelligent, worthwhile discussion partners with honorable intentions; if I were to eschew all ad hominem forms of argumentation; if I were to answer questions when people ask me them; if I were to read ID books that I have refused to read, and engage on their contents; if I were occasionally to concede a point when I am wrong; if, when someone concedes a point to *me*, I were to graciously acknowledge the concession as offered in good faith, rather than snarling at it as far from adequate and probably insincerely offered (see, e.g., 341 above) — would all of this perhaps make me appear more reasonable to UD people, and therefore cause them to listen to me and learn what I have to teach?” But Gregory apparently never asks himself this question. And the result is bad not only for us, but for the very causes that Gregory champions. If people dislike the messenger of a cause, they will have a tendency to dislike the cause. One does not need a Ph.D. in social sciences to figure that out.

  365. Timeaus @365:

    Thanks for the wonderful imagery and a very humorous post! I liked this one in particular:

    Gregory will insist that the use of capitals is deep with metaphysical significance, and that you must either accept all of that metaphysical significance, or formally repudiate your use of capitals, etc.

    as a show of good faith i hereby repudiate my use of capitals on the remainder of this thread

    and punctuation as well for good measure

    :)

  366. But Timaeus, Gregory is Light Years Ahead of us.

  367. 370
    Kantian Naturalist

    I thought Gregory was trying to indicate the distinction between an empirical scientific theory and a comprehensive philosophical system. I just couldn’t figure out which was which.

  368. Now our very eyes and the Law of Nature teach us that God exists and that He is the Efficient and Maintaining Cause of all things … And very wanting in sense is he who will not willingly go thus far in following natural proofs

    For what is it which ordered things in heaven and things in earth, and those which pass through air and those which live in water; or other things which were before these, heaven and earth, air and water? Who mingled these, and who distributed them? What is it that each has in common with the other, and their mutual dependence and agreement? For I commend the man, though he were a heathen, who said, What gave movement to these, and drives their ceaseless and unhindered movement? Is it not the Artificer of them Who implanted reason in them all, in accordance with which the Universe is moved and controlled?

    …Thus reason that proceeds from God, that is implanted in all from the beginning and is the first law in us, and is bound up in all, leads us up to God through visible things.

    – Gregory Nazianzen

  369. Timaeus,

    A couple comments:

    I began fetching many of your comments from UD. I had much better luck using google then the search function of UD. The reason for doing this is because I occasionally get into discussions of science vs. God on other sites and your insight is the best I have seen on the ID debate. For example, your comment at 100 is extremely good as others have mentioned. Interesting, the person I consider the best commentator on the current political scene also has a classics background.

    What was interesting about your comment at 100 was that it was needed. It was essentially said a couple years ago by you and should not have to be repeated again. One of the things about comments on UD was the need to repeat over and over again the obvious. It was that way during the years I was a frequent commenter. You do it so much better than anyone else. So maybe there should be a link to many of your comments and people here could just say “go read this.”

    As far as this O.P. is concerned, I have my own point of view about ID. I capitalized it for no reason other than I used an abbreviation and wanted to separate it from the word “id.” I believe a lot of the stumbling blocks about ID stems from some trying to make it a scientific discipline when in fact it is best understood as a tool used in many scientific disciplines just as statistics, mathematics or logic are. One of the issues is that some have a vested interest in ID being established as its own discipline and this has led some into some tortured lines of reasoning.

    It is obviously not as formally developed as logic, math and statistics are and ID employs all these as part of its process. But ID is definitely not a discipline such as physics, geology, psychology, anthropology or economics etc. It is used by some disciplines such as evolutionary biology, forensics, archaeology or cosmology to support or reject specific hypotheses. It may be better placed in the domain of philosophy as logic is. I also personally believe math should be part of philosophy rather than science. I say this as a former math Ph. D. student. The problem is that the physical laws of the universe and human nature are often so well described by math that it is hard to look at it that way. But math is often mainly a truth evaluator and that sounds like philosophy.

    In standard research practice, there is most often four separate processes. First, there is a background or write up of the issues and hypotheses are formed. Next, there is a discussion of methods on how to evaluate the hypotheses and the execution of the research. Then there is findings or results of the study. Finally, there are the conclusions. It is in this section that the hypothesis is supported or rejected. While ID can be part of all four areas, it is most essential in this last section where the design hypothesis is supported or rejected and can essentially expand the possible explanations for a phenomenon. So I look at ID as a research evaluator and not a discipline. This is how I believe Behe has mainly used the process in the Edge of Evolution. Food for thought and discussion.

    Finally, while skimming the links to OP’s where you have made extensive comments I saw that the theodicy issue comes up frequently. I haven’t yet read most of them so I do not know if you have much to say on this. My impression of this is that it is a red herring and would be interested in your thoughts whenever it appears again. I personally believe the theodicy issue is way over blown and there are good philosophical arguments for minimizing its relevance to ID. But anyway this is an aside and not relevant to the current O.P. Maybe in a future O.P. when it comes up again I will participate and ask my questions.

    Thanks for all your contributions.

  370. Jerry @370
    Your comments here have been missed. There was a rumor out in the UD mirror universe – the one’s who gaffaw at every post – that you had been banned from here. Good to find that’s not the case.

  371. Jerry:

    I would never introduce theodicy into the discussion of ID, but many of ID’s foes, both atheist and TE, try to use it as a weapon against ID, so I’ve doubtless discussed it, in order to refute them.

    I’m probably in agreement with you on the matter. Basically, ID’s foes confuse (either through carelessness or malice aforethought) ID and creationism, and so they think that any argument against creationism counts as an argument against ID. So they say, a good God (by which they have in mind the Christian God — all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, etc.) wouldn’t allow, let alone willfully create, evil and suffering (carnivorous animals, etc.). So if there is suffering or evil, it must have crept into the universe by accident, from the vagaries of evolution — which means there is no design. That’s their basic argument. Coyne and Ayala for the unbelievers, and Ken Miller for the Christians, are some of many who argue in this way.

    But of course ID is not committed to the proposition that the designer must be the Christian God, or that the designer has infinite power, infinite goodness, etc. ID tries to show that there is design (and therefore a designer), not that the designer can achieve all that he wants, or even that the designer has only good intentions.

    So the existence of suffering, evil, etc. is not a problem for ID. It’s a problem for Christian and Jewish theology (and maybe for Islamic theology, though I know little about Islamic views on evil and suffering). And of course the revealed religions have developed sophisticated responses to the problem.

    What’s irritating is that Paley, in 1802, anticipated this misdirection — this attempt to scuttle design arguments before they could even get out the gate by pointing to the evil of the world and saying “God wouldn’t have …” Paley made it clear that, in his view, design could be established even for a very imperfect creation with lots of suffering, lots of clumsy engineering, etc. And he gives a cogent argument for why this is so. But the foes of ID don’t read Paley. The atheists would never bother to do so, and the TEs prefer to use him as a symbol of natural reason gone wild and trying to usurp the place of revealed theology — and they couldn’t possibly make that claim if they actually read Paley. (But then, most TEs haven’t read Darwin, either, so what else is new?)

    Theodicy is a much bigger deal for the TEs and the YECs, because their respective liberal and literalist readings of the Bible require that questions of design be tied up with questions of theodicy. OECs, and ID people, don’t have design and theodicy knotted up in that way, because OECs can accept a Christian God who willed suffering and evil, and ID people don’t assume — for design inference purposes — the Christian God at all. Also, the ID-evolutionists — people like Behe and Denton — don’t have to get exercised by theodicy, as if it’s a threat to ID arguments. Their view of design does not require a God who would never will suffering.

    In short, if people want to argue that Christian theology is false because of suffering and evil, then let them take their complaint to Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant theologians and argue with them. But if they say ID is false because of suffering and evil, they simply don’t grasp what ID is about.

    You mentioned starting a Ph.D. in math, but elsewhere you mentioned being a scientist. What field did you eventually settle on, if not math?

  372. Timaeus @372:

    Excellent summary of the issue. Well said.

  373. 376
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: Timaeus @ 372,

    Yes, that all makes perfect sense to me, too.

    One might also point to design arguments outside of the Abrahamic faiths for further evidence of the general idea that the design argument does not depend on theism as generally conceived. For example, there is a long tradition of thinking about cosmic and biological design in ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, all the way from Anaxagoras through the Stoics at the very end of antiquity. I don’t know about non-Western sources but I’d be astonished if there weren’t design arguments in Confucianism.

    In any event, I learned from Hume and Kant that the design inference is theologically neutral. That’s my basis for drawing a bright line between design theory and creationism.

  374. The purpose and role of individual words in the actual use of language have often been misunderstood with negative exegetical results. It is important to observe, for example, that the basic unit of linguistic meaning is the text as a whole taken in it’s broader context. The basic unit of meaning is not the individual word taken in isolation.

    – Mathison, Keith A. From Age to Age: The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology

    How much more so whether the individual word is capitalized or not.

  375. Mung @ 369

    Mung, do you have a source for that quotation from Gregory Nazianzus? Apart from being a very apposite statement of the position of the Eastern Cappadocian Fathers, and hence Orthodoxy in general, it fits very well into a survey of the Christian doctrine of creation I’m writing at the moment.

  376. JG: Try here as a first pass. KF

  377. F/N: Inference to design on tested, reliable observable signs, is an inductive exercise of essentially narrow scope. What the grounded inferences established thereby may imply onwards may be something else, but the fundamental point should be well within reach of someone who understands a good detective novel. The problems come in with the something else, and the evidently strong motivations out there not to go there. But for instance, can you identify an observed, known-origin case of complex code, data structures containing the code and algorithms expressed through the code, joined to complex executing machinery, that were not pervaded by design as cause? What does the needle in the haystack type analysis tell us about blind search per chance and/or mechanical necessity across relevant config spaces? What, then do such points at least suggest onwards about discovering that cell based life is founded on such things? KF

  378. KF @ 377

    Thanks – that’s a good place to kick off.

  379. es58,

    I was banned a couple times, once by Dembski and once by DaveScot. I was/am a big supporter of ID so I got back in quickly after explaining my case. That had nothing to do with why I stopped commenting here. I stopped here because it was a real “time suck.” After 2008 I had to pay more attention to business and I also decided to poke my nose into political and economic issues instead. The UD RSS feed is on my email so I occasionally scan some of the comments. But my wife would kill me if I decided to get involved again. So my comments here are temporary. But I would like to explore the theodicy issue since I believe it is a non issue not only for ID as Timaeus has pointed out but for believers in the Judeo/Christian God as well. I tried to do that here several times but no one took up my challenge to define just what evil was.

    Timaeus,

    Thank you for the comment on theodicy. It is one more to add to my arsenal. I am not a scientist though I have been in two Ph.D. programs, getting ABD in one before starting a new business with my wife and her business partner. The business requires that I know some biology so I started studying it on my own for business reasons but also to understand the basics of DNA and cellular biology etc.

    I believed in Darwinian ideas through a lot of my adult life. On the surface it makes a lot of sense but got curious when I saw a well respected U California professor get censored for questioning it. There was a conferfence in New York City in 1998 with Dembski, Behe and Meyers and I got hooked after attending, reading everything I could find. Took about 8 years to sort it out because there were so many loose ends. I was involved in a discussion on CSI when KF popped up for the first time. Still not sure if anyone can define CSI clearly but FCSI came out of that which is a killer idea against atheism.

    I am very interested in the psychology of the debate these days as well as the actual content. I also find the same pattern of evasiveness/mis-direction/use of ad hominems in the political/economic area as well. The same attitude that “what they believe is correct” despite any evidence presented to the contrary is rampant there as well as in the evolution/ID/science debates. What is it about some people that leads to this behavior? That could be the focus of a dozen dissertations.

    My take on the theodicy issue came from all places, the teaching of marketing to business school students. One aspect of marketing is about solving problems and no matter what problem is solved, there will be new ones to replace the ones solved that are just as significant to the consumer. This led me to look at problems as relative and that evil was also a relative concept which led to the consideration of just what was the greatest evil or the worse thing that could happen to someone.

    That is part of the theodicy issue. Another part is what would human behavior be like if either knowledge of God was certain or knowledge that there was no God was certain. Neither one would be pretty. In one of the OPs a few months ago that I found looking for your comments was a link to a presentation by Paul Nelson. In it he talks about Bertrand Russell and what he would say if he should die and meet God. Russell apparently said, that he would ask God why He didn’t give us better or more information. Russell never thought through what life would be like if God did this. As it was at the same time we got both Russell and Chesterton. Both had the same information.

    Another aspect of the theodicy issue is found in the Book of Job. Michael Sugrue had a fantastic lecture on this and in his lecture he points out the folly of trying to know the mind of God which means that my speculation above is probably folly but apparently God does give us clues but not enough to satisfy everyone especially someone like Russell.

  380. Jerry:

    I was involved in a discussion on CSI when KF popped up for the first time.

    All I recall was that about that time, I was flying kites with my son. Do you remember or have a link to the thread?

    KF

    PS: And yes, using functional specificity as the form of specification resolves a lot of loose ends regarding CSI. Cf. here on for some exposition, in an online draft community independent course. Note the worked out eqn after you left as a log reduction and functional focus of the 2005 CSI expression:

    Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold

    With proper interpretation, this is substantially equivalent to the per aspect explanatory filter.

  381. 384

    Hello Jerry,

    I had wondered what happended to you. I remember you several times taking such a pointless beating from ID opponents for holding on to the most modest and rational positions, and doing so with such patience. I also remember you commenting about being in school, and advancing your education.

    It’s good to know all is well with you, and I hope you might visit here more often.

  382. KF,

    Here is your first appearance as a commenter. See comment 108. This was a very interesting discussion for those wishing to know where ID was on UD 6 years ago.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....me-online/

  383. Folks

    strangely relevant to this thread per the OP:

    +++++++++

    >> First, on definition: precise descriptive statements that give necessary and sufficient conditions for an entity are quite hard to make; same, for definition by genus/difference [cf taxonomy in biology]. But, as the above shows, recognition of a pattern by pointing out examples and recognition of “family resemblance” is much easier.

    Indeed, one can argue that precising definitions are logically subsequent to that intuitive recognition/identification by example and/or counter example. (We usually argue over definitions by saying whether or no they include all and only instances of the recognised entity, and exclude all and only non-instances.)

    For instance, kindly supply a generally accepted precise definition of LIFE that meets this criterion. (Of course, that is to show that the subject matter of the overarching discipline for biological ID is itself subject to the same issues of definition, so we should not be selectively hyperskeptical.)

    Be that as it may, we should distinguish the ability to identify/distinguish intuitively, from the specifications [!] by formal definitional wording, hopefully within Sewell’s 1,000 word limit. The classic distinction between: [1] “fffffffff . . .” [here, assumed non-contingent, and obviously not complex], [2] “nfgrduywornfgfkdyre . . .” [assumed contingent and complex but random] & [3] “this is a functionally specified, complex statement” should not be forgotten. (Cf discussion in TBO’s TMLO, 1984, Ch 8, etc.) Similarly, 500 coins neatly lined up, all heads or all tails or alternating h,t, etc are specified and complex, and function in the context of recognisable patterns.

    [I emphasise "functional" as well as specified, as I have found that this helps us eliminate a major set of issues: first, let the alleged information actually function in a communicative context (i.e. fit in with signal sources, encoders, transmitters, channels, receivers, decoders and sinks, physical and/or abstract], then discuss its specification and complexity. A rock slide or erosional feature is indeed complex, but is non functional in communicative situations, absent someone’s analysis of it that derives from observations of it say a bit pattern . (Such patterns start with say retinal patches of light/dark and colour, and/or real-time frequency patterns in our cochlear sensing hairs.)

    On the other side of the issue, going to an example the late great Sir Fred Hoyle used to discuss, it is logically and physically possible that a tornado passing through an aero industry junkyard could assemble a fully functioning 747, but that is so overwhelmingly improbable that it exhausts the probabilistic resources of the observed cosmos, say, 10^80 atoms and 13.7 BY. Oddly, Mr Dawkins cites the same example and notes that such functional outcomes are sparse indeed in the available configuration space for such a random shuffling, but then insists that the appearance of complex design can be deceiving; due to that bare possibility. The problem is, that it is a routine principle of statistical mechanics, that we look at he issue of microstates [here shuffled of aero-parts, i.e we are looking at giant “molecules”] compatible with a given macrostate [here a functional aircraft] and infer from the proportions of the so-called statistical weight of relevant macrostates, relative likelihood.

    This is in fact the basis for pointing out why though it is logically and physically possible for the molecules of oxygen in a room to all rush to one end, without intelligent intervention etc, it is so maximally improbable that the relevant fluctuations on that scale are simply not observed.

    Similarly, TBO’s analysis in CH 8 of TMLO turns on this same basic principle, captured in the Boltzmann expression s = k ln w, w being the statistical weight of the macrostate. Apply the concept of Brillouin on the link between entropy and information [there is still a school in physics that speaks of such, following Jayne, cf Harry Robertson's Statistical Thermophysics], and use the resulting measue of information in a biofunctional molecule, and the relevant Gibbs Free energy, to deduce equilibrium concentration in a generaous pre-biotic soup, and we see thatit is vanishingly small. [10^-338 molar for a 101 monomer protein.] More modern arguments such as Trevors and Able, use probabilistic and related thinking and arrive at the same basic result.

    No wonder Honest Shapiro has recently re-stirred the OOL pot! (I think Meyer has a serious point on the similar challenge to get to step-changes in complex biofunctional information through “lucky noise” in life forms required by NDT to drive say the Cambrian life revolution — ie, the challenge of body-plan level macroevolution, as his now famous paper argued.]

    That is, the functionally specified outcomes are so maximally improbable that they exhaust the available probabilistic resources, relative to an assumption of chance [and necessity] only. If we see a room in which all the oxygen molecules are at one end, we infer intelligent agency. If we see a jumbo jet, we do the same. If we see an intelligible post in a blog thread, we do the same. Why then, do many – absent worldview level question begging [often labelled here, methodological naturalism] – infer from the even more complex functionally specified, complex information in the nanotechnology of life at cellular level, that it is explicable in terms of chance pluys necessity so we can rule out agency, even ahead of time? Is this not grossly inconsistent?

    Then, having thought a bit about that underlying context, let us look at ongoing mathematical attempts to define what we observe in nature and recognise intuitively, e.g. as Mr Dembski has done, as models, not the reality that the models seek to capture.

    That way, we can be objective about the success/failure of the models [I view Mr Dembski's work as work in progress, with great promise and interesting potential applications], without losing sight of the underlying reality.

    (NB: I find that evolutionary materialism advocates are often guilty of using that confusion to dismiss the underlying intuitive point, and then gleefully pounce on debates over the matter to assert that the concept is “hopelessly confused” and can be brushed aside. But, in modern educational psychology, I long ago learned from the pioneer cognitivist, Richard Skremp, that a CONCEPT and its verbal expression are quite distinct. Mathematical descriptions are of course an extension of such verbal descriptions.)

    So, let us keep this issue in due proportion. >>

    +++++++++

    The more things change, the more they remain the same!

    KF

  384. F/N: So, this is when FSCI entered the discussion at UD. I still have yet to hear a clear answer as to the way that blind chance and/or mechanical necessity can account for it, as opposed tot he billion-case observational base for inferring to design as the known best explanation. And, of course, our battleship vs pile of rocks is on an extension, whereby functionally specific complex organisation implies information as well. KF

  385. This gets quite interesting, cf the second comment at 126:

    ++++++++

    >> [to] great_ape:

    Re 123 – 4: You have aptly shown the significance of FUNCTIONALLY specified complex information. (And, BTW, redundancy in analysis and communication is often an asset, so even if there is an overlap between specificity and complexity, that may well be functional. For instance, classically, in Newtonian Dynamics, the First Law, strictly is a special case of the second: F = 0 implies that a = 0, where F = ma. But, understanding explicitly that when there is no net force there will be no net acceleration so bodies tend to remain at rest or to move at steady speed in a constant direction absent such forces, is vital. A good example is in understanding why circular motion is accelerated.)

    My “algorithm” on inference to agency:

    1] First, show that there is functionality in a context that entails specification and information, then

    2] Address contingency. (Does the case show that contingency is at work? If so then chance or agency dominates — once necessary and sufficient deterministic conditions are present, the result will be present directly, at a rate governed by the dynamics of natural regularities at work: fuel + air + heat –> fire.)

    3] Finally, address complexity: If the chance option would credibly exhaust the available probabilistic resources, then agency is a better explanation.

    At that point you are entitled to state, on an inference to best explanation basis, what is the best answer: chance, necessity, or agency, or what blend of the three major causal forces. We routinely do this intuitively in many contexts, and through Fisherian or similar inference explicitly in statistics and science in many situations. (So the issue of selective hyperskepticism when key worldview level assumptions and related outlooks, agendas and attitudes are at stake becomes an issue. Indeed, I think this best explains the hostility we so often see and which is so often adverted to in this blog’s threads.)

    As an instance of “blending,” in my linked:

    * unconstrained heavy objects tend to fall under that NR we call gravity.

    * if the object is a die, the up-face is essentially chosen at random after tumbling, from the set {1,2,3,4,5,6}, thanks to the kinetic energy, centre of gravity and eight corners plus twelve edges leading to complex rotations adn frictional losses that eventually damp out the motion.

    * If the die is tossed as a part of a game, then its outcomes are as much a product of agency as of chance and necessity. >>

    ++++++++

    We keep going back to some very familiar territory.

    KF

  386. Jerry, permit me to say welcome back, even if your return engagement is only temporary. I recall being one of those who, through my own fault and partisanship, misunderstood your position. I hope that you will accept my apology for being so presumptuous.

    On the question of theodicy, I have never understood why Christians do not accept the doctrine of the fall as the answer to all the problems that followed that event. It has always seemed evident to me that God did not “will” human misery any more than He “willed” human damnation. He simply “allowed” man to use and misuse his free will. By misusing his free will, man compromised (and continues to compromise) his relationship with God, with nature, with himself, and with his neighbor. As a result, nature’s relationship with itself (design) was also likely compromised (perhaps retroactively).

  387. Jon Garvey:

    do you have a source for that quotation from Gregory Nazianzus?

    I got that one in particular From the volume by edited by Dembski and Downs.

    They come from his Orations

    Specifically

    Oration XXVIII – The Second Theological Oration (VI and XVI)

    Online here:

    http://ecmarsh.com/fathers/npn.....-07-43.htm

    cheers

  388. JG:

    cf. for pre-christian as potential background:

    Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

  389. 392

    “On the question of theodicy, I have never understood why Christians do not accept the doctrine of the fall as the answer to all the problems that followed that event.”

    For me, it pushes the problem back to why God allowed Man. We have to assume that God was perfectly righteous in speaking creation into existence; and that, even considering eternal states of judgment, creation is still warranted to the point of being necessarily good. Therein lies the problem, for me at least; that creation is still perfectly good when there are souls, who wouldn’t otherwise have existed, eternally damned. It’s at least a mystery, if not a conundrum.

  390. 394

    I remember reading somewhere, it being suggested that ATP synthase would make a better symbol for ID than the flagellar motor.

  391. 395

    “But my wife would kill me if I decided to get involved again.”

    Just get her involved, and then it won’t be a problem. ;)

    Seriously, I also find that when I start commenting, I tend to accomplish little else. I have to force myself to quit.

  392. Thanks Mung

    The link took me to some stuff further down more immediately relevant to my project, which is great… notably, that like almost everyone in the early Christian period (ie until after 1500), the state of Creation was considered still to be good, as first made, despite the Fall. Man himself being the exception, of course. The “traditional view” is not traditional at all (but derived from humanism, which is another story).

    So Gregory Nyzianzus spends most of his oration (after his nod to Paley and ID) pointing out the wisdom of God in creating herbivores and carnivores, in their succession through the cycle of life and death, and so on, concluding that since the wisdom of all this is beyond our comprehension, how much more must be the wisdom of God, the source of it all.

    Gregory N was one hugely important theologian, both for East and West (or actually one among three – the Cappadocian Fathers; two brothers and a friend. All had a high view of the goodness of creation).

    Not relevant to this thread (so what else is new?) but very imporatant to the debate, nonetheless.

  393. Jerry, It seems we may have crossed paths years back also. I was much more sympathetic to ID the first couple of years I studied it. So, it seems our trajectories have different stories to tell.

    In regard to you view that theodicy is a ‘non-issue’ for ID, it seems the Director of the Centre for Science and Culture, Stephen C. Meyer, one of the IDM’s leaders, disagrees with you. Here he agrees with one of the most insightful and broad thinking commentators on the IDM and ID theory, which is Steve Fuller (known for Dover Trial, Expelled film, Nova on ID, most recently in the Hawking vs. Philosophy discussion/debate – I chuckled when Fuller called Hawking ‘parasitic’ – this could easily be featured at UD).

    Here’s a snipped transcript from the video featured here at UD recently:

    “The relationship between theology and science…the kind of science that Steve Meyer’s defending…and there’s hovering in the background; he doesn’t say it explicitly, but I’ll say it explicitly, is that there’s some notion of divine agency…It has a very particular theological provenance.”

    “Why don’t theistic evolutionist people want to embrace the intelligent design argument?”

    “if you really get serious about what divine agency is”

    What eventually you have to do “if you’re going to have this tight integration of science and theology you have to square it with the theology”

    “If intelligent design just stays at the level of pattern recognition…design detection…that’s not a science, that’s like the first step of a science, that’s the data gathering part of the science…I do think it’s important that the idea of intelligence get put on the table and that there be a clear definition of it.”

    “Then there’s the nature of the agent that’s instantiating this intelligence.”

    “The frustrating thing for me was the lack of time to tell you how much I agree with what you’re saying.” … “I’ve been thinking about this for a week.” – Stephen C. Meyer (47:50)

    “Dembski and Nelson are both “orthodox biblical Christians, as am I.”

    I think that it should be part of the ID movement, it is at least in principle possible that empirical data…could adjudicate these different models of theodicy.”

    “I’m affirming the basic point you’re making.” – Meyer to Fuller

    “Steve Meyer basically said that this is a direction, the thing I was talking about getting into the larger theologically maximalist issues of theodicy is something that the IDM is moving into and will move into more in the future” {“or at least some members of it who have those theological [leanings]” – Meyer} “I don’t want this point to disappear, namely that one might be able to adjudicate between alternative models of theodicy with empirical evidence. Now that is very interesting and boy oh boy is that going to send some people to the hills!” … “I agree with Steve Meyer in that line of thinking that ID move in that kind of direction, that in a sense we revive theodicy as a kind of empirically grounded discipline.” – Steve Fuller

    I may come back in a few days to respond to some of the comments in this thread re: small-id and Big-ID, the DI’s cancellation of its Humanities and Social Sciences ‘Big-ID’ summer program, etc. But for now, welcome back to the ‘little-big tent’ of the IDM, where people can disagree completely with each other and still claim to be part of a single ‘community’ that believes in ‘design in nature,’ both/either using classical theological ‘design arguments’ and/or post-modern quasi-scientific ‘design/Design’ reasoning.

  394. Let me add my 2 cents. I too recall Jerry as a commenter from a few years back. I suggest Jerry is a commenter who would pass the Turing test. While I may fundamentally disagree with him on many issues, I don’t doubt his humanity, his genuineness.

  395. Andwe share the same taste in wives, hence the brevity!

  396. “And we share the same taste in wives, hence the brevity!”

    My wife doesn’t know that I have commented here in the last 2 days so I better quit while I am still alive.

    Thanks everyone for the kind words. Maybe I will comment some more in the future but haven’t read much about ID in the last couple years and don’t plan to spend much time on it.

    If I see that theodicy is being discussed, I will put in my 2 cents since I believe it is a non issue not only for ID but everything else. I believe there is only one evil and everything else is trivial. Thus, the concept is an empty one. But then I never found anyone who could adequately define evil.

  397. re my posts at 142 and 144

    guess I’m just a broken record, because, found the same concept in a post 2 years earlier

    es58September 10, 2005 at 10:46 pm

    Question: If Dawkins has no problem saying that living things “appear designed”, shouldn’t he, as a scientist, be prepared to give a rigorous definition of what design is. He seems to claim simultaneously that there is no valid way of making claims such as irreducible complexity/specificied complexity, yet feels very free to use the term design as he pleases. Why shouldn’t the burden of definition fall on him?

  398. es58 (and Mung, who also raised this issue, I believe):

    You make a good point.

  399. To those (seemingly in the minority at UD) who refuse to distinguish ‘Big-ID’ and ‘small-id.’

    This thread involved a very simple argument/thesis, which got UD buzzing with all sorts of claims, proclamations, accusations, even character impugning and evidence-based flip-flopping. 402 posts already, one of the busiest UD threads in several months!

    My main point here is simple and it has been acknowledged already and most succinctly by Kantian Naturalist, who like myself is not a Big-IDist (though probably he doesn’t accept small-id, while I do). Here’s the way I see it:

    1) Is the concept duo of ‘intelligent design’ as used by W.J. Murray in the OP in any way connected with the IDM and its ‘Big-ID theory’ as defined by W. Dembski (founder of this blog), S.C. Meyer, M. Behe, et al. or not?
    Iow, 2) does it appear that Murray is attempting to make an improper and misleading transfer of language from Big-ID to small-id?

    Let’s return to this very basic topic. Answers have so far been wobbly here, like ‘little-big-tent’ inconsistent-wobbly.

    My clear, direct, non-avoiding answer to the first question is: No. Does anyone at UD wish to disagree? Speak now or your held-tongues will be noted. If you disagree, please provide a real name (not an internet sock puppet) for this living and active ID theorist of human-made things like battleships and link to a published work or site to find this person. If you cannot name a person, I will consider any disagreement empty and invalid (sophistry of the ‘you-know-who’ variety).

    W.J. Murray writes: “[Big-]ID [theory] is supposed to be the best explanation for the existence of a battleship.”

    Right, human beings make battleships. On this point, I agree with W.J. Murray! We can study the small-d ‘designers’ of battleships, i.e. where, when, who, how and even why.

    But that’s not ‘Intelligent Design’ theory because Big-ID is a theory about biological information, origins of life, and sometimes human origins (all in the distant past). Again, would anyone here disagree with this?

    Battleships are very recently (in terms of ‘big history’) examples of human-made artefacts. It is thus a blatant category error to mistake these themes. I have yet to see a coherent or scholarly explanation for why human-made artefacts vs. non-human-made entities are not properly distinguished in different categories. Only ‘universalistic designism/Designism’ (cf. Creationism) contends otherwise.

    Most educated people understand clearly the difference between theoretical and non-theoretical claims. They recognise that there’s no use spending time on individualistic (ID) jargon as if it carries the force of a scientific, cultural, political, religious or social ‘school’ or ‘movement.’ The followers of the IDM simply need to see that they’re mimicking, replicating, regurgitation, or reproducing language conceived or imagined by someone else. It is not their independent genius that coined the concept duo ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design,’ which they now seek to use as a ‘simple argument.’

    To the second question above, the answer seems also rather straightforward: Yes, Murray is attempting to make an improper and misleading terminological transfer.

    That’s the main point I wished to express and to inquire if people here thought there was an actual (small-id) ‘intelligent design’ (with those TWO SPECIFIC CONCEPTS used purposefully together) theory/paradigm proposed for human-made things. If you want to face my challenge, then face that.

    After more than 10 years, a successfully defended master’s thesis (one of a rare few) on the topic and countless hours reading books and articles and sometimes listening to and even occasionally meeting Big-ID leaders (cf. Discovery Institute fellows) and anti-Big-ID scholars, theologians and journalists, this conclusion seems to me to be an example of ‘following the evidence where it leads.’ It seems to be responsible. It seems to display academic integrity.

    I followed the evidence; there is no (and likely will never be, a specifically called) ‘intelligent design’ theory of human-made things. Respectfully, W.J. Murray should either openly acknowledge this or contend otherwise here in public.

  400. Lol@Gregory

    “To those (seemingly in the minority at UD) who refuse to distinguish ‘Big-ID’ and ‘small-id.’”

    I’ll be perfectly honest with you Gregory, I just don’t think many people see it as something worth discussing.

    If you and KN think it is then perhaps the pair of you would be better to email each other privately. You could then both discuss it till the cows come home.

    Okay, I may regret this, but can you please define for me what both ‘Big-ID’ and ‘small-id.’ are. It would be good to have a refresher on this matter.

    Thanks

  401. PeterJ, Thanks for being ‘perfectly honest’: “I just don’t think many people see it as something worth discussing.”

    Yes, that is a significant problem, whether you admit it or not. Lack of communicative respect or understanding. You may not see it as a problem because you are an IDist and you actually mean to speak for or on behalf of “people inside the IDM”. But folks outside of the IDM, non-Big-IDists do see it as ‘worth discussing’.

    See “here for my definitions.

  402. Thanks Gregory, but the link doesn’t seem to be working.

  403. Gregory,

    I ran a google search and found this.

    http://humanextension.wordpres.....-small-id/

    I hope y7ou don’t mind me asking but with this be something to do with you?

  404. You’re welcome, PeterJ. I don’t mind. Yes. Just click on my name.

  405. Gregory,

    I don’t mean to be in any ways disrespectful here but can you tell me why anyone on here should take the time discussing this topic with you when no one has bothered to discuss it with you on your blog?

    Look, I may not be a scientist but I can quite easily see why. There really is nothing there worth discussing.

    I honestly believe you need to let this go and move on. I think it may do you some good.

  406. 410

    I wonder if there is a “Big R” theory of relativity, and a “little r” theory that is only applicable to humans? Maybe a Big Q and Little Q quantum theory? Big T and little T thermodynamics?

  407. Where it might really matter,,, Big E small e for macro vs. micro evolution? since Darwinists continually confuse variation within kind as evidence for vertical Evolution.

  408. PeterJ, Thanks, I got a laugh out of that! :) No, you’re not being disrespectful, from what it appears. You’re just displaying a lack of familiarity, even yes, lack of knowledge on the topic. That can be remedied if you expend effort to learn what non-IDists actually say.

    If you are an IDist and/or creationist, however, I’m doubtful you will expend the effort.

    Top-level scientists and scholars have focussed on the distinction between (lower case) small-id and Big-ID (upper case). It disallows the IDM to communicatively waffle and flip-flop – choose your terms and stick with them and their consequences! But let me guess, you prefer ambiguity and flip-flopping to clarity and precision? Or do you simply know nothing about those scholars and their distinction?

    As an active scholar (i.e. not just an anonymous blogger) on this particular topic, let me suggest to you that it is very much worth discussing. This is why the IDM has thus far avoided it. Does that make sense to you or will you go on the Big-ID uber alles defensive?

  409. Gregory:

    If you are an IDist and/or creationist, however, I’m doubtful you will expend the effort.

    Then again there are those of us, many of us, who have expended the effort only to find it a waste of time and effort.

  410. small-id – God did it. Except when God didn’t do it. Everything is designed. Except when it isn’t. Observation of the natural world gives evidence of God, unless done “natural scientifically.”

  411. Gregory,

    Not that I want to make a big thing about this, but I took the liverty to copy this from your blog post and wondered if you would explain something to me.

    ‘For me and Gingerich and others, the term ‘small-id’ refers to the idea that “God-did-it,” but that we don’t know exactly how and ‘science-alone’ cannot prove it one way or another. This is accepted by a vast majority of TEers and ECers. Indeed, it is the basic Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Baha’i view of the Creation of the Universe.

    ‘Big-ID otoh refers to Discovery Institute as heart of a Movement as well as the view that ‘design/Design’ can be (and even has been!) proven by natural scientific methods, which is promoted by the intelligent design/Intelligent Design movement (or community). Here one has to use both not-capitalized and capitalized forms of id/ID because the IDM or Big-ID community uses both variants whenever they believe it suits them.’

    What in the above statement is worth discussing? Other than what, IMO, (in the second paragraph) appears to be confusion on your part.

    Thanks.

  412. PeterJ, You’ve come late to the party. My patience will likely be short.

    The ‘natural science-alone’ topic is worth discussing.

    Do you think ID is a ‘natural science-alone’ theory? Or do you think ID is a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation? Or both?

    I wrote clearly in #403: “Big-ID is a theory about biological information, origins of life, and sometimes human origins.”

    Feigning ‘not worth discussing’ is not far away from feigning ignorance and irrelevance.

    I have labelled Big-ID theory a category error for artefacts. If you deem that ‘not worth discussing’ then I’ll likely deem you ‘not worth responding to,’ and no harm done.

  413. Gregory.

    Please excuse my lateness, I’m just trying to figure out why this is such a bid deal.

    ‘I wrote clearly in #403: “Big-ID is a theory about biological information, origins of life, and sometimes human origins.”’

    Okay. And this is clearly different from ‘small-id’ because … ?

    (just a little more patience required Gregory, and I’ll hopefully be there)

  414. O.k. I’ll try patience, even though much was already written in the link that you read.

    small-id or lower case id is a response to Big-ID or upper case ID. Gingerich 2006, et al. Did you read his words?

    People would see no need to speak of ‘small-id’ if it weren’t for the Big-ID movement which they oppose, for a variety of reason.

    This is a ‘big deal’ because it does to Big-ID theory what grandaddy P. Johnson tried to do to (neo-)Darwinian evolution with his Wedge. You’re familiar with his Wedge approach, right?

    Big-ID vs. small-id distinguishes both those who think a ‘designer/Designer’ can be ‘natural scientifically’ proven/inferred from those who think it can’t as well as those think designers/Designers can actually be studied from those who don’t. As a person who studies human beings on a daily basis, it is an insult to intelligence for Big-ID people who are focussed on origins of life, biological origins, and sometimes human origins, to try to tell me they are using small-d (without needing the term ‘intelligence’) for ‘design theory’ in their hypotheses. They are simply trying to communicatively trick people in the rare times that they attempt such a manoeuvre, i.e. that Big-ID theory is relevant in small-id domains.

    Big-ID theory outright refuses *any* study of Designers (whether aliens or gods/Gods). They insist that Big-ID is *not* a theory that addresses (a) ‘designer(s)/Designer(s),’ only that it IMPLIES (a) ‘designer(s)/Designer(s)’ Thus, Big-ID is implicationistic – put that in your dictionary if you hadn’t heard it before.

    small-id, otoh, is accepted by all Abrahamic religious believers on faith that the universe is Created (Big-C meaning by a divinity) and that no ‘natural scientific’ evidence can/need ‘prove/infer’ that.

    Likewise, small-id, though no one that I am aware of calls it that, iow, ‘design theory’ that deals with human designers and designs does what Big-ID theory fails to do; it deals with ‘design processes.’ It can study the who, when, where, how, and sometimes even the why. It is beyond the simply ‘what’ or ‘that’ question that Big-ID tries to bank on.

    “Look, that artefact *is* designed,” said the Big-ID theorist to the 7 yr-old.
    “Yeah, so what, I already knew that.” – 7 yr-old

    Do you think Big-ID counts as a ‘natural science’ of human-made things, like the socio-biologists once thought in their reductionistic, materialistic, disenchanting worldview? No, probably not.

    So the ‘big deal’ you speak of is when Big-IDists, meaning Intelligent Design Movement proponents/advocates/PR persons, etc. try to conflate the two or waffle between the two distinct meanings for purely promotional purposes. Now that anti-Big-ID folks have seen the waffling, calls for more clear communication are in order.

    If the IDM and folk at UD and the DI purposely wish to continue to flip-flop, their bluff will be called. If they understand this, then communicative progress can be made. Take a stand; one way or another, but not both. Several brave and/or religiously apologetic persons here have already made their stand. What about you, PeterJ?

  415. Gregory

    Likewise, small-id, though no one that I am aware of calls it that, iow, ‘design theory’ that deals with human designers and designs does what Big-ID theory fails to do; it deals with ‘design processes.’ It can study the who, when, where, how, and sometimes even the why. It is beyond the simply ‘what’ or ‘that’ question that Big-ID tries to bank on.

    But what if the study of the who, when, where, how, and sometimes even the why, is not going to lead to an explanation … then what?

    I think this is possibly where I’m having a little difficulty.

  416. G (and PJ):

    Please, rework in light of inductive logic, and particularly that of inference to best explanation on tested, found reliable signs. In any case, I will note for record, again:

    1 –> Yes, we can find objects that credibly exhibit traces of the remote past of origins, a far or deep past that we cannot DIRECTLY observe to know by that, the actual deep past as empirical fact.

    2 –> However, this is not unique to this case, there are many objects, such as astronomical ones, that we study be observing traces, e,g. light from the sun and remote stars.

    4 –> In this general context, Newton put forth his well known rules of reasoning c 1688 — 1704, and it is the context in which, generally, we infer through cause-effect reasoning and characteristic consequences of particular causes. Such can be identified as signs.

    5 –> We then provisionally but confidently infer on signs, per like causes like. For simple example, we see that certain elements, when hot enough, give off certain spectral lines, and that when white light passes through layers of such, there are absorption lines in the relevant positions. From these, we examine the spectra of stars and infer composition from Fraunhoffer lines. (Sometimes this has led to interesting results, e,g. discovery of Helium as causing unexpected lines in the sun’s spectrum.)

    6 –> This basic pattern is commonly applied to origins of life and of forms, though this is often marred by a want of observational evidence that certain claimed causes are adequate to claimed effects, especially on OOL and OO body plans. Johnson, whom you deride, has aptly pointed out the injection of an ideological materialist a priori, in the guise of mere “reasonable” methodological constraints. Lewontin’s case is most notorious and explicit, but cf here on for much more.

    7 –> In the case of functionally specific, complex information and irreducible complexity, these are commonly observed phenomena. In comparing causes dominated by mechanical necessity manifest in lawlike regularities like F = m*a, chance processes yielding statistical variability, and design as known causal factors, it is seen first that necessity does not explain high contingency under similar initial conditions. Indeed, that lack is the sign of a law at work.

    8 –> Similarly, high contingency tracing to blind chance, per the results of sampling theory, is at a loss to explain results coming from specific and separately describable UN-representative zones in the field of possibilities. That is, a sample that is necessarily a small grab of a very large space, we can only expect to reflect the BULK of the possibilities. This is how, for instance, we infer to the general pattern of the blood from a small sample.

    9 –> We can also show that where we have specific function depending on many well matched, properly arranged and interfaced parts, the zone of functional configs will be a very small fraction of the space of possibilities for the parts. Not only do tornadoes predictably fail to assemble 747′s from junkyard parts, but they will fail to do so for something so deceptively simple as a moving coil meter based indicating instrument in its cockpit.

    10 –> This is the context in which on empirical and analytical grounds — once ideological blinkers are removed — it is clear that functionally specific, complex organisation and/or associated information [FSCO/I] are a strong sign of design as best causal explanation.

    11 –> To set a conservative threshold for sufficient complexity, note that 500 bits of explicit or implied information implies 3.27*10^150 possibilities. The 10^57 atoms of our solar system, on its conventionally estimated age, if used to search at one search per 10^-14 s [comparable to the fastest chemical reaction rates] would only be able to sample what we can compare as taking a one straw sized sample to a cubical hay bale as thick as our galaxy, about 1,000 light years. (Light from that far away reaching us now, set out sometime about the time of the Norman Conquest of England.)

    12 –> So, we have strong reason indeed to accept that if Chi_500 is at least 1, the object with that much specific info in it, was designed:

    Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold.

    Now, this has been repeatedly explained to you. Equally repeatedly you have not been able to respond on merits but have ducked, dodged, sought to obfuscate, distract and revert to favourite talking points, not to mention personalities. OAnd BTW, as you did not acknowledge recently when corrected, BITS are a fairly standard info metric.)

    Please, do better.

    KF

  417. Thanks KF.

    What you have posted above is where my thinking on this matter firmly lays and the reason why I can’t seem to find any weight in Gregory’s arguments about ‘Big-ID’ vs ‘small-id’.

    What I had hoped to do was at least try and understand why he makes such a ‘Big-Deal’ about it when it’s obvious to me, and nearly everone else on here, that it’s not. It’s a very ‘small-deal’, if at all even something worth discussing.

    It’s like I said in a previous post I think the best thing he could do is discuss with KN privately (if KN is honestly interested in it? As he seems to think.), and then hopefully he can move on in regards to the other discussions being held on UD.

    End of.

  418. W.J. Murray #410 wrote: “I wonder if there is a “Big R” theory of relativity, and a “little r” theory that is only applicable to humans? Maybe a Big Q and Little Q quantum theory? Big T and little T thermodynamics?”

    Note to self: if one wants to defend a theory that involves the concept of ‘intelligence/Intelligence’ then one better be ready to explain the source/Source of that so-named ‘intelligence/Intelligence.’ Otherwise they would have no ‘theory’ and no explanatory power for their ‘simple argument.’

    You’re an intelligent guy, William, to whatever degree, as am I. That is not to be doubted and I respect that; we already accept this as a ‘social contract’ in conversing/chatting on the internet. I don’t think you are a robot and you don’t think I am either. We are both people (cf. human beings) and that matters.

    See here for more.

    Correction: People would see no need to speak of ‘small-id’ if it weren’t for the Big-ID movement which they oppose, for a variety of reasons.

    p.s. PeterJ, if you’re going to take the liberty to quote my words, at least have the communicative courtesy to use quotations marks or the ‘blockquote’ feature. Otherwise you invite confusion, as obviously you are having a coherency difficulty with your remarks. Thanks.

    p.p.s. an ‘applied physicist’ feigning expertise for quantifying information in ‘human-made things.’ That would make a good Saturday Night Live skit!

  419. Gregory: You have yet again — it is now predictable — resorted to snide personalities in an attempt to evade addressing matters on the merits. This, sadly, is beginning to go to character now. As for quantifying info in human made things, have you observed AutoCAD or a similar program? They code the functionally specific organisation as designed by engineers. They do so by taking the nodes and arcs framework and encoding this in structured strings. FYI, computer memories are just that, structured strings. And the resultant files are measured in bits or clusters thereof known as bytes [an eight bit cluster that stores about one ASCII character's worth of info]. KF

  420. F/N: To see what G is trying to dismiss by personalities, cf, here on, reading down to Fig I.2 on through Fig I.3 on. KF

  421. F/N 2: Observe very carefully in this context, Wicken’s use of the term “wiring diagram,” which is a prototypical nodes and arcs structure. KF

  422. F/N 3: Observe, here, how the same framework is used to create 3-d digital models through creating surface facets based on triangles . . . as in, a triplet of points stipulates a three-sided planar surface that can be assigned values that affect how light interacts with it. Put a few millions together in a specific, controlled way and we have a 3-d model. KF

  423. F/N 47: Though surely KF’s 3-d model is cutting edge…

    There’s a rather obscure applied physics theory out there about how M-D space models relate through surface-level choices by human beings based on isosceles triangles and trapezoids that validates why the Uzbekistani government ‘intelligently designed’ its educational system using manure instead of electricity. KF is on the inside track and will share this Big-ID theory here soon.

    A ‘scientific’ article about it is almost ready to be published in the journal Nature, which KF tells us is forthcoming in either 2013 or 2014 or perhaps in 2026. The key thing is that the theory really is ‘revolutionary’! ;) But so what, it’s ‘fun’ for most people!

  424. Onlookers:

    In absence of actual ability to answer on the merits, Gregory is resorting to the Alinsky nihilistic tactics:

    5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.” . . . .

    13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. [NB: Notice the evil counsel to find a way to attack the man, not the issue. The easiest way to do that, is to use the trifecta stratagem: distract, distort, demonise.] In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen.’…

    “…any target can always say, ‘Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?’ When your ‘freeze the target,’ you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments…. Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the ‘others’ come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target…’

    “One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.”

    This tells us a lot about both his failure on the merits, and, unfortunately, about his failing a character test.

    Obviously, he has nothing cogent to say on the merits but hopes to annoy or insult to get a reaction that can be played up rhetorically. Let us take due note.

    KF

  425. I thought this thread had died after January 29th!

    The only way to get Gregory to stop talking about Big-ID and small-id is for everyone here to stop replying to any posts in which he employs the distinction. As long as we reply — even to criticize the distinction, or explain to him why it’s irrelevant — he will keep writing more of the same repetitive material.

    The *relevant* question is not whether ID theory is “Big” or “small.” The relevant question is: can design be inferred from the facts of nature, without any aid from revelation? And it doesn’t matter whether the inference is scientific or philosophical. This is the question which Gregory has never answered.

    So Gregory: Do you believe that design would be inferable from nature, even if none of the “Abrahamic” religions had ever come into existence, and even if we had no comparable revelation from any other source?

    And please note, the question is not whether the inference would be *scientific* in some special sense that “scientific” has for you; the question is whether the inference would be *reliable*.

    So, Gregory, can we reliably infer the design of (some or all of) nature from the facts of nature?

    Make no reference to ID, id, Discovery, summer schools, culture wars, fundamentalism, creationism, social science, human extension, etc. in your answer. Just tell us whether or not we can infer design. And explain why or why not.

  426. “Me, me, me, we!” – Timaeus’ baritone UD song

    The distinction between Big-ID and small-id is a valid, important and relevant one, even in you’ve chosen to waffle on it and encouraged others to follow you. Anyone who ‘follows the evidence where it leads’ can see this is your tactic.

    You wrote: “I was an ‘id’ supporter long before I had even heard of ‘ID’.”

    Of course, that means you believed in God before you’d heard of Big-ID (scientistic) theory or the (political) IDM. The same is true with me.

    “The relevant question is: can design be inferred from the facts of nature, without any aid from revelation?” – Timaeus

    Do you mean ‘Design’ or ‘design?’ Big-D ‘Design’ can be ‘inferred’ only ‘with aid from revelation.’ As far as I understand it, that is the orthodox view. Otoh, small-id ‘design’ doesn’t require revelation since human beings ‘design’ quite often and the who, when, where and how of their/our small-d ‘designing processes’ can be studied in real time or with the aid of testimonies, documents, and other artefacts.

    Surely you’re not contesting this rather basic view, Timaeus?

    Previously at UD, Timaeus outright refused to discuss ‘designing processes’ saying he didn’t even know what it meant. That’s the stuff of avoiders and double-talkers. That’s the stuff of the UD provocateur who goes by the pseudonym ‘Timaeus.’

    “Do you believe that design would be inferable from nature, even if none of the “Abrahamic” religions had ever come into existence, and even if we had no comparable revelation from any other source?” – Timaeus

    Again, Big-D ‘Design’ no, it would not be ‘inferable’ “if none of the ‘Abrahamic’ religions had ever come into existence.” We would not even be here on this blog discussing the question if your hypothetical vacuum scenario were the case. That’s the trouble with Big-ID’s ‘thought experiements’; they stray too far from reality to have practical use.

    I design, you design, we design; that has nothing to do with the Origins of Life (unless you admit a theological linkage like using univocal predication via the imago Dei)!

    Why do you run away from revelation wrt your personal ‘Intelligent Design’ theory, Timaeus? You know as well as I do that you actually consider ‘ID’ as a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation, not altogether differently than I do. The meaning of ‘ID’ for you is not merely a ‘natural-science-only’ concept duo, due to its historical linkages with religious thought, i.e. the so-called ‘design argument’ (which for purpose of clarity here, I would call a ‘Design argument’).

    You’ve accused me relentlessly of avoiding your questions, yet I’ve answered them so many times that its obviously been a waste. No, neither you nor I nor anyone here can “reliably infer the [small-d] ‘design’ of nature” using natural science. Adrian Bejan simply assumes it because he believes nature is ‘drawn,’ without a ‘drawer.’ Once you or I or anyone else personally admits there is a drawer/Drawer of nature/Nature, then they’ve stepped outside of purely objective ‘natural science’ and injected their reflexive personhood into their answer.

    That’s why the topic is properly understood as not just ‘science-only,’ but as a triadic conversation between major spheres, none of which completely dominates or outshines the others.

    But you, Timaeus, appear to be amongst the least reflexive persons involved in these discussions, along with Mike Gene (though he has made improvements, still hiding behind his on-line mask). You absolutely avoid humanity in the most dehumanising ways possible. ‘Just the facts,’ no subjectivity – the character ‘Timaeus’ at UD is simply a non-person because of this!

    Of course, YES, we can see, research, discover, ‘detect,’ find, explore, analyse, and even simply ‘infer’ design/creation by human beings. But not scientifically ‘in NATURE,’ Timaeus. That’s a theological/worldview presupposition that cannot be ‘natural scientifically’ proven.

    When W.J. Murray wrote: “I know intelligent design exists – humans (at least, if not other animals) employ it. I use it directly.” That has *nothing* to do with Big-ID theory qua natural scientific theory, and you know that – you stubborn man! – even if you won’t admit it here publically.

  427. 431

    Gregory, you have a case of rather bitter incontinence. Are you sure there is nothing you can do about it?

  428. That does nothing to add to the conversation. Such gutter-level comments show why you people are losing and your numbers in decline.

  429. That’s a theological/worldview presupposition that cannot be ‘natural scientifically’ proven.

    As if natural science is about proofs.

    ‘Just the facts,’ no subjectivity

    Isn’t that the way science works?

  430. 434

    That does nothing to add to the conversation. Such gutter-level comments show why you people are losing and your numbers in decline.

    This, coming from the man who simply refuses to engage ID arguments.

  431. This, coming from the man who simply refuses to engage ID arguments.

    There’s a presumption in that statement that some might query. ;)

  432. “Isn’t that the way science works?”

    No, that’s a utopian fantasy. Anyone who’s studied even a basic level of HPSS knows this quite well.

  433. I’m surprised to see that Gregory has even made an effort toward answering my question. His answer is still cluttered up with material which is confusing, but I give him credit for making a small effort in the direction of a substantive conversation about design.

    Gregory continues to confuse things with his odd applications of his ID/id distinction. Look at this passage:

    Gregory: ‘ You wrote: “I was an ‘id’ supporter long before I had even heard of ‘ID’.”

    Gregory: ‘ Of course, that means you believed in God before you’d heard of Big-ID (scientistic) theory or the (political) IDM. The same is true with me. ‘

    In the words attributed to me (which I don’t recall writing, but I might well have said something like that, in order to play along with Gregory’s language of ID/id), I would not have meant by “id” that I “believed in God.” I would have meant by “id” the detection of design in nature, period, with the question of the identity of the designer — God or someone else — bracketed out.

    But never mind what I would have meant, if I wrote the words that Gregory quoted. I’ll restate what I mean now, so that there can be no doubt about my position:

    I believe that even if we had no assurance *from revelation* that there is design in nature, we could *infer* design in nature from the facts of nature.

    Now Gregory appears not to believe this, though his answer is so cluttered up with ID/id language and other material that I am not sure, so I am qoing to have to ask him for clarification.

    1. Gregory, do you believe that the wonders of the cardiovascular system arose due to a blind process of random mutations, horizontal gene transfers, natural selection, etc., without any guidance, steering, front-loading, planning, etc. by any intelligent agent of any kind? Or do you believe that the cardiovascular system exists because it was planned for, and that causes sufficient to generate it (whether natural, supernatural, or a combination) were made available to realize that plan? You don’t need to speak of ID or id to answer this question. It’s in plain English and you know what you believe, so just state what you believe.

    2. Next question. Gregory, do you believe that if we had no religious revelation, i.e., if God had not spoken through the Bible, the Church, etc., we could *infer* the existence of a designer of the cardiovascular system from the facts of nature? I am *not* asking you to call the inference “scientific.” I am asking you if we could make a *reliable* inference, however that inference might be classed (scientific, philosophical, logical, whatever). Note also that I am *not* asking you if we could infer such things if there were no God. I am asking you only if we could infer such if we had no revelation, i.e., no direct, supernaturally revealed knowledge of God, through holy books, churches, traditions, revelatory dreams, etc. In other words, suppose for the sake of argument that God exists, but that He has never directly informed human beings of his existence. Could we infer the design of the cardiovascular system in such a case, from the internal evidence presented by the system itself and its connections with other parts of nature? Again, you do not need to discuss ID versus id to answer this question. The question is in plain English, and you know what you believe, and can state what you believe.

    As for the rest of your answer, it is either is obviously true and therefore not something I would disagree with (*of course* we can detect design when humans are the designers — no ID supporter has ever questioned that), or else it is just personal flak which has no intellectual substance, so I will ignore it.

    So, Gregory, even though you have, in your mind, answered the questions, would you please answer them in a more precise way, in accord with my formulation above? I must know *exactly* what you think, and if you use my formulation of the question above, and answer in accord with it, I *will* know exactly what you think. And if you wish a real intellectual discussion, you should be concerned that I know exactly what you think.

    My two questions should be answerable in two concise sentences of no more than about ten to twenty words each. Once I have your answers, I will respond in an appropriate way.

  434. Gregory:

    No, that’s a utopian fantasy. Anyone who’s studied even a basic level of HPSS knows this quite well.

    Then why are you appealing to the pure ‘objectivity’ of science in your argument against ID? What is “purely objective ‘natural science’”?

    Once you or I or anyone else personally admits there is a drawer/Drawer of nature/Nature, then they’ve stepped outside of purely objective ‘natural science’ and injected their reflexive personhood into their answer.

  435. The language of ‘detecting design in nature’ is a peculiar feature of Big-ID theory, not small-id. The phrase ‘design detection’ comes from the modern IDM (1980s – ?). Others don’t use it and Timaeus shouldn’t be trying to force it upon them/us.

    If Timaeus can find that particular language of ‘detecting design in nature’ by *any* non-Big-IDist, he might have a case. I highly doubt he will find or even search for such evidence. <Does Timaeus have evidence to show that non-IDM folks speak of 'design detection in nature'? Otherwise enter Bejan, who has still not been faced here at UD.

    “with the question of the identity of the designer — God or someone else — bracketed out.” – Timaeus

    That’s the big key. What I mean by small-id, as in non-Big-ID theory, is that the identity of the designer does not need to be bracketed out. The identity of the designer is embraced.

    1) Abrahamic believers accept that God, Allah or Yahweh is the ‘Designer/Creator/Maker’ re: origins of life, biological origins or human origins – in whatever their language;
    2) Real, normal, credible ‘design theorists’ or ‘design thinkers’, i.e. those who don’t need to call their theory small-id ‘intelligent design,’ bracket-in the designer(s), that is, they study human designs, human designers and processes human beings are involved in designing.

    Timaeus’ personal [Big-]ID theory fails on both of these levels. As said above, he avoids humanity in the most dehumanising ways possible. Likewise, he won’t admit that a triadic conversation between science, philosophy and theology/worldview is the appropriate meaning for the concept duo ‘Intelligent Design,’ because that would mean it fails to be ‘natural science-only.’

    “I believe that even if we had no assurance *from revelation* that there is design in nature, we could *infer* design in nature from the facts of nature.” – Timaeus

    What do you mean by ‘assurance?’ Is that objective natural scientific proof, reflexive natural theology or just an intuitive subjective personal inference, or something else? Please supply content to this supposed ‘assurance,’ since it is flying in the face of *from revelation* in your statement. The anti-theology or non-theology of Big-ID theory (not even yours, but the IDM’s) seems to tie your hands from giving a clear answer.

    Timaeus’ questions 1) and 2) in #437 are simply bunk that I won’t dignify to address; dripping with sickly Big-ID language – “arose due to a blind process” – this is not worth answering. I’ve already long-ago cracked this out-dated dichotomy by idenitfying purposeful processes = human-made things. Don’t go hiding in the distant past of ‘historical sciences,’ IDologists, when we can study ‘designing processes’ by actual and identifiable small-d ‘designers’ today.

    “I am *not* asking you to call the inference “scientific.” – Timaeus

    That, in a nutshell, ladies and gentlemen is ‘Timaeusean’-ID.

    “I am *not* asking you to call the inference “scientific.” – Timaeus

    Perhaps I will go out on that. Time is short.

    “I am *not* asking you to call the inference “scientific.” – Timaeus

    The IDM, home of Big-ID theory *is* asking us “to call the inference ‘scientific.’

    I’ve met vegetables more courageous than ‘Timaeus,’ who simply won’t stand all the way up for this natural scientificity feature of Big-ID theory.

    Timaeus, to me, is not ‘reliable.’ So what does a ‘reliable inference’ mean, if not simply to avoid the question of Big-ID’s supposed natural scientificity?

    “I am asking you only if we could infer such if we had no revelation” – Timaeus

    But do we not, in your heart of hearts, have any revelation, dear, frightened, old-school Timaeus? Once you admit that, the tables turn. You might even be able to prove you’re a human again.

    It’s like the difference between ‘neutral’ religious studies and confessional theology. One of them must needs take a stand on what it really believes, while the other can simply flip-flop, in the same manner that you have displayed here at UD re: small-id and Big-ID.

    The time is nigh: I’ve had enough of your demanding ‘must knows’ and ‘once I haves,’ masked Timaeus. Your astonishingly proud sense of entitlement in a democratic on-line forum where answers are normally volunteered rather than forced by threat is running far ahead of what your intellect or experience can cash.

  436. If you are not as highly, academically accredited as Greg, Timaeus, you are simply not grand enough to insist on his answering particular questions you pose.

    It is the height of presumption. Indeed, compared to Greg, you are evidently a relative interloper on this forum. Let’s have a little more humility when addressing the Maister, shall we?

    Greg is TIRED, TIRED, TIRED of your ‘must knows!!! Behave yourself, there’s a good chap. He reminds one of that ditty about the Cabots, doesn’t he?

  437. Gregory:

    The phrase ‘design detection’ comes from the modern IDM (1980s – ?).

    So?

    The language of ‘detecting design in nature’ is a peculiar feature of Big-ID theory, not small-id.

    More silly word games.

    I suppose you think design in nature is so blazingly obvious that it doesn’t need “detecting.”

  438. The teleological argument from Fine-Tuning clearly and unequivocally falls within Gregory’s definition of “small-id” intelligent design.

    And yet the values of the fine-tuning constants and their intricate interrelationships and co-dependencies had to be “detected” in order for them to be employed in the Fine-Tuning argument.

    Design Detection.

  439. 443

    ‘I suppose you think design in nature is so blazingly obvious that it doesn’t need “detecting.”’

    Lack of curiosity has wed credulity and produced offspring that care neither about quantifying the apparent, nor questioning the inexplicable.

  440. The ‘teleological argument’ (read: teleological language) of human-made things is well worth noting as an example of small-id or just ‘normal’ or ‘mainstream’ design theory/thinking.

    But that’s simply not in the scope of natural scientistic revolution-seeking Big-ID theory as it is currently framed to focus on non-naturalistic origins of life, biological information and human origins.

  441. I call upon the readers here to witness that in #437 above, I asked Gregory, without rancor, to clarify some statements made in his previous post (#430), and that he has responded, in #439, with belligerence. For a moment, in the semi-cooperative tone and contents of his post #430, I saw a tiny window of opportunity — a hint that Gregory might be willing discuss the question of design in nature without his usual culture-war posturing, if I asked politely enough. But the window closed abruptly, and the old Gregory is back.

    It is evident that Gregory prefers to talk about the labels of things rather than the realities that the labels only crudely signify. The rest of us here want to talk about the realities rather than the labels. So we are at an impasse.

    There is no point in even trying to defend myself from the rantings and ravings in #439. Everyone here will recognize the complete misfit between the charges levelled at me and my actual behavior.

    I would, however, offer one factual correction: the notion of “design detection” — if not the exact phrase — long predates the Discovery Institute. Paley’s book — another of the books which Gregory has apparently not read, and apparently has no intention of reading — is about “design detection,” and Paley died over 200 years ago. And arguments for design in nature of course go back to ancient times.

    One more comment, on this passage:

    “What I mean by small-id, as in non-Big-ID theory, is that the identity of the designer does not need to be bracketed out. The identity of the designer is embraced.” [And Gregory goes on to indicate that it is the Abrahamic God specifically that is embraced.]

    If this is what Gregory means by small-id, it is not at all what I would mean by small-id, if I thought it worth using the term. What I would mean by small-id would be the attempt, over the ages, to discern design in nature using human reason. (And what I would mean by Big-ID, if I used the distinction, would be the activities of the Discovery Institute and allied bodies and people from about 1994 to the present.) And the attempt to discern design in nature does not require embracing any particular designer.

    Thus, *if I were to employ* what I consider to be a non-helpful distinction, I would say that Big-ID is a subset of small-id, and that small-id therefore includes Behe, Dembski, Meyer, etc., and also people like Paley, Aquinas, ancient Greek philosophers, and others.

    Further, *a belief in design that rests on revelation, I would not call ID or id at all*, because such an affirmation of design would ultimately be mere assent to authority rather than a result of human reasoning activity. For me, the essence of both ID and id (were I to make the distinction) rests in the assumption that the human mind can recognize design when it sees it, even if the designer is unknown. If someone is simply going to rest content with accepting the Bible’s word for it that nature is designed, such a person is not, to me, an ID or id thinker at all.

    I conclude, from the fragments of Gregory’s heated and unclear reply that make some sort of sense, that he believes that human reason cannot establish the fact of design in nature, by any means whatsoever. And I gather that for him this inability is not merely temporary, i.e., not merely because the design arguments we have at present aren’t good enough; I gather that he thinks design arguments regarding nature are wrong-headed from the start. This means that he rejects the very possibility of ID or id (using my definitions of those terms) from the outset, and that we are all wasting our breath trying to convince him by particular ID arguments. He has made up his mind, and does not want to be confused by the facts — the facts that nature presents to us daily.

    Gregory’s sheer “revelationism” puts him in the anti-natural-theology camp of Barth and others. It thus puts him against the historical mainstream of Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Reformed theology, and lines him up with the neo-Reformed (Barthians), and the various Pietists, Lutherans (though not all Lutherans), liberal Wesleyans, etc. who litter the American religious landscape. Odd company, for a man who indicates so much hatred for American Protestant Christianity and claims so much affinity with the Orthodox East.

  442. Gregory,
    How would you respond to my comments @8 (rover on mars) and @17 (threads becoming woven cloth), which KN agreed at @18 would be understood as purposely transformed.

    [Will the response be along the lines of WJM @3?]

    thank you

  443. Timaeus

    Again I appluad your patience on this matter. You have had to put up with attacks from Gregory, sometimes on a very personal level, and yet I find you trying to engage him with total civility, with the aim of hopefully making some progress.

    I do however believe, as I’m sure you must too, that you are wasting your time with him. A number of posts back I eventually had to try and at least make some sense of it too, and I engaged him as best I could, but it was no use at all. His argument is just plain silly, and perhaps it’s time to simply ignore this rubbish and let’s all move on.

    Gregory has a blog with a post on this very subject, one in which you are mentioned Timaeus, but with only ’1 like’ and ‘no comments’ Gregory still hasn’t got the message lol.

    Gregory, it’s time to grow up and move on.

  444. Timaeus,

    I am giving up on Gregory. His latest rant is just too personal and too vicious. Everyone knows that a true professional welcomes scrutiny and does not run away from questions. It seems that Gregory just doesn’t grasp basic design principles well enough to carry on an in-depth discussion with an informed ID proponent, especially someone like yourself, whose in depth knowledge of the key issues surpasses his by several orders of magnitude. Among other things, he knows absolutely nothing about natural theology, a deficiency that is always bleeding through his uniformed rants about Big ID and small id.

    He reminds me of the rookie who walks into a pool hall and challenges the house champion. After losing every game and a few hundred dollars, he informs onlookers that he recently won the world nine-ball championship–as if they didn’t know that pool skills are transferable—as if they didn’t know that a world champion doesn’t miscue or scratch on every other shot. There are some things that you just can’t fake. The sad thing about this whole episode is that he blew a golden opportunity to grow professionally. Why he didn’t take advantage of it is a mystery.

  445. Peter and Stephen:

    I’m reluctantly forced to agree. I don’t think Gregory can be rational when it comes to ID. He has a bee in his bonnet about it, and it’s not the normal bee that the atheists and TEs have in their bonnet. Unlike Ken Miller, Eugenie Scott, Larry Moran, Jeffrey Shallit, P. Z. Myers, Richard Dawkins, Francisco Ayala, Dennis Venema, Darrel Falk, Francis Collins, etc., Gregory couldn’t care less, it seems, about the rightness or wrongness of arguments over the flagellum, probability theory, information theory, or the like. He’s just deeply offended by the whole ID concept. But why?

    It seems to have *something* to do with the summer course he took at the Discovery Institute several years ago. He has referred to that course many times here, and always in a negative tone. But, as he refuses to describe his experience there — beyond alluding to several occasions on which he argued with a number of DI leading personnel (whether he told them as bluntly as he’s told us here how much smarter he was than they were, I don’t know) — I can’t tell what it was that irked him. I could understand his hostility if, at midnight on the final evening of the course, they took him, along with all the other students, to a secret room underground and made him sign, on a cross-shaped altar, the Wedge Document in his own blood, and swear to fight to the death for the establishment of a creationist theocracy. But there’s no reason to think anything like that happened.

    It’s too bad, because Gregory has the kind of mind which, coupled with a more moderate temperament and a less combative personality, could do really creative and constructive work. He has broad interests and he desires to achieve a synthesis that goes beyond narrow specialization. He is also not afraid to rock the academic boat, holding unpopular opinions. All of these are traits I admire, and traits that ID supporters would like to see found in greater quantity among modern biologists, biochemists, philosophers, etc. Were they combined with a truly open mind about ID, and a careful study of ID theoretical writings, they might lead Gregory on to great things.

    In the meantime, my concrete suggestion is that we boycott all of Gregory’s posts in which he discusses “Big-ID” and “small-id,” by simply refusing to reply to them, even for the purpose of refuting them. That way, Gregory will have only two choices: (a) write about something else; (b) give up posting here out of sheer boredom, from lack of replies. If he writes about something else, he may say something interesting and useful that we can learn from; and if he gives up posting here, the irritation of his continual quarrels over capital letters and labels will be ended. Thus, it’s a win-win strategy.

    Thanks to all for their kind words of support for me, during the time that I’ve been subjected to a barrage of charges against my motives and character unlike anything I’ve ever encountered on the internet. From the sheer force of the repetitions, I was almost starting to believe that I was a coward, a hypocrite, a deceptive rhetorician, a political manipulator, an incompetent academic, and a willing tool of American creationists. The faith that other have shown in me has been very strengthening. Best wishes to all.

  446. I think we all sometimes forget that according to his own word Gregory is decades ahead of the rest of us. A little humility on our part couldn’t hurt.

  447. Gregory:

    The ‘teleological argument’ (read: teleological language) of human-made things is well worth noting as an example of small-id or just ‘normal’ or ‘mainstream’ design theory/thinking.

    There is no need of a teleological argument for human-made things. It’s no wonder that teleological arguments are made with respect to the natural world and not human constructed artifacts.

    But that’s simply not in the scope of natural scientistic revolution-seeking Big-ID theory as it is currently framed to focus on non-naturalistic origins of life, biological information and human origins.

    You left out the origin of the universe and the fine-tuned constants, which are considered fine tuned just because of their relationship to the possibility of life. Talk about non-naturalistic origins!

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