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Compromise?

Dr. Sewell’s post below generated a fairly heated debate, but it is not my purpose to address the substance of his claim or his opponents’ responses.  Instead, I was fascinated by a couple of the commenters’ calls for “compromise” between the ID camp and the NDE camp. 

As a general matter, “compromise” is a very fine thing, and if there were more of it the world would doubtless be a better place.  But it seems to me that compromise does not fit in well with the quest for scientific truth.  If two mutually exclusive theories purport to explain the same data, one of them may be right and the other one wrong, or they may both be wrong, but no one suggests we should seek a “compromise” between the two theories.  Should Copernicus have compromised with Ptolemy?  What does it even mean to “compromise” between two mutually exclusive scientific theories?  Because compromise is such a fine thing should we continue to employ epicycles for certain aspects of our cosmology even though we know they are false? 

In human relations compromise is possible because there is usually a middle ground.  When I negotiate a contract, my client might agree to accept less of “X” in exchange for more of “Y” and reach an agreement that does not give him everything he wants, but which he will nevertheless sign, because it is “good enough” and accomplishes his goals. 

But science does not work that way.  Scientific conclusions rarely run along a continuum.  They are discrete functions.  Yes/No True/False  In other words, there can be no compromise between truth and error because there is no middle ground between them.  Therefore, pleas for “compromise” in the ID/NDE debate don’t make sense to me.

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72 Responses to Compromise?

  1. The basic elements of NDE explain a lot of the minor changes in species variety but fail to explain the big things. Natural selection and genetic drift and maybe even the occasional mutation affect population genetics. This is the message in the first few chapters of the Design of Life by Dembski and Wells (that is far as I have read so far.)

    So what ID objects to is the broad extrapolations of NDE to macro evolution and specifically the Blind Watchmaker Thesis. If Dembski, Wells and Behe accept these basic capabilities of NDE then I see no reason why they should just be part of the ID package. What we should focus on is the real issue of evolution, the ability of the genome to generate novel capabilities through naturalistic processes such as the 47 mechanism that Allan MacNeill listed a month or so ago until some proof has been provided.

  2. BarryA and Dr Dembski – I would be interested to know your thoughts on the writings of such as Dr Faulkner at Point Loma Nazarene University who seek to compromise between macroevolution and ID(I have my own thoughts here, but would like to know yours). I am alumni of that small institution, and I find it particularly interesting that they eagerly promote their version of compromise, but are very closed minded to other influence (I do not know their attitude toward Dembski’s writings). It seems I can get better discourse from the local SDSU for that matter.

  3. BarryA, I believe that there is a totally viable compromise between the neo-Darwinian, naturalistic, position of mainstream science, and the telic, ID position.

    Methodological naturalism says, approximately, “let us find out how much can be explained by purely natural forces.” Philosophical naturalism says, “purely natural forces is all that there is.”

    I propose that the scientific community maintain a clear differentiation between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism. This differentiation has become painfully fuzzy of late.

    If science were to honestly hold to methodological naturalism alone, and to actively avoid the arguably religous position of philosophical naturalism, then the scientific community would frequently and proudly declare “we don’t know”. If the scientific community said, “origin of life? We don’t know. We have been working at it for decades, centuries, and have not figured it out.” rather than “We don’t know — yet, but we’re really close!!” then the scientific community would be holding to methodological, but not philosophical naturalism. If the scientific community said, “random mutath and natural selection appear to be valid forces within nature” then go on to say, “but huge questions remain such as how organs developed, how complex mechanical systems developed, and phenomenon such as the cambrian explosion” then the scientific community would be holding to position of methodological but not philosophical naturalism. If the scientific community ostricized zealots like Dawkins who have obviously stepped into the camp of hard religion, then I would not be bothered by them ostricizing IDers who try to go beyond the “methodological naturalism” mandate that the community holds to.

    If the scientific community, in the spirit of holding to methodological naturalism rejected all telic explanations, but if the scientific community were quick to say “we don’t know, we may never know, it may be that we don’t know because a non-methodological answer is the right answer” then I would not feel a need to challenge this methodological naturalistic position of the scientific community. As such, the weakness RM+NS would be public fare, and ID would be a purely philosophical. No problem, compromise.

  4. My point here being that I believe my alma mater is more interested in appearing credible to the mainstream educational system than being true to truth. I believe this approach to be little more than a mix of appeasement and lack of confidence in the science.

  5. But it seems to me that compromise does not fit in well with the quest for scientific truth.

    Well said, Barry. It would be like compromising on the freezing point of water.

  6. if there is compromise it would be in the sense that designers do employ evolutionary algorithms.

  7. The point I made on another thread a week or so ago was that NDE should be basically part of the design paradigm. It allows a species to adapt to various environments and enriches the variety of life and enables species not to go out of existence when the wrong environment comes along. This is truly great design. Dembski and Wells in the Design of Life show how it took time for the English sparrow to adjust to the US and only through the process of natural selection did it then thrive in various parts of the country with varieties different by region and from the native England.

    ID should embrace these aspects of NDE and not look like fools by reflexively rejecting it in total. Our point should not only be the utility of NDE to enrich life through selecting varieties available in the gene pool but also include a strong emphasis on its limitations.

  8. also see the note in Spetner p 199

    “An environmental cue may be capable of eliciting any one of a set of variations, each leading to a phenotype adapted to a slightly different environment. Natural selection would then “fine tune” the population to the specific environment, whereas the cue would provide the “coarse tuning.” In this case, the set of possible variations would be nonrandom, whereas the specific variation within the set would occur by chance. But since all variations within the set would appear in the population, the final result would be nonrandom.

  9. 9

    BarryA,

    I was not suggesting we alter our own beliefs or writings on ID, the compromise I proposed was in how this very controversial issue should be dealt with in the public schools. Wouldn’t you be very happy if evolution were taught this way now, wouldn’t that be a huge improvement over the current sad state of affairs? Would you really insist, at this point in time, that our schools be required to teach ID? I don’t believe anyone at Discovery takes this point of view.

    I had some further comments, but I see bFast (#3) expressed them much better than I could have.

  10. jerry wrote: ID should embrace these aspects of NDE and not look like fools by reflexively rejecting it in total.
    -

    *Someone* has to be skeptical of every little part of NDE. How many assumed that the Ketterwell experiments were legit?

  11. “If two mutually exclusive theories purport to explain the same data, one of them may be right and the other one wrong, or they may both be wrong, but no one suggests we should seek a “compromise” between the two theories.”

    No kidding. You’ve misunderstood my call for compromise. I was thinking more along the lines of what bFast put forth, or coming to some type of agreement as to how and where ID should be taught. If Darwinists refuse to allow it to be addressed in the science classroom, we need to find other venues or really push the IDEA clubs (I don’t know how many there are at the moment) in which ID advocates can teach it honestly. At the same time, if Darwinists were to follow bFast’s approach to the ToE, professors wouldn’t have such a fight on their hands.

    PZ and other professors have added ID to their biology curriculum and they are ripping it to shreds. Compromise would be allowing ID a venue somewhere on the campus so that students (if interested) could take a course or be involved in a club where they could ask questions of an ID advocate and compare it to what their biology prof. has told them.

    Call it a freaking “religious” club for all I care. Heck, JJ says it’s religion, so teaching ID under the guis of religion should fly. When students sign up, tell them they definitely DON’T NEED THEIR BIBLES…a few science textbooks will do.

    btw, does anyone know off hand how many IDEA Clubs there are and where they are located?

  12. The question is intentionality versus randomness. Can something be kind of intentional? If I haphazardly toss a basketball in the direction of a basket and it goes in, is that kind of intentional? Could this describe how how life came about?

    No.

  13. Dr. Sewell, the UP was not directed at your comments.

  14. bFast writes: “If the scientific community, in the spirit of holding to methodological naturalism rejected all telic explanations.”

    I don’t agree. “Telic” means “tending toward a goal” or “purposeful.” Detection of purpose is not beyond the ken of science even when bound by methodological naturalism. In fact, this happens all the time. Every time an archeologist classifies a stone as an arrowhead, he has made a telic explanation of the data without resorting to supernatural causes. In the same way, a telic explanation of the obviously designed nanobots in the cell does not rely upon divine causality, just intelligent causality.

  15. Jerry writes in [1]: “If Dembski, Wells and Behe accept these basic capabilities of NDE then I see no reason why they should just be part of the ID package.”

    Neither do I. ID posits that intelligent agency is the best explanation for some (not all) phenomena. ID and NDE are not mutually exclusive at the edge of evolution. Accepting this fact is not a compromise by the ID community; it is merely giving NDE its due where it in fact seems to explain the data.

    ID and NDE become mutually exclusive well beyond the edge of evolution. A cellular nanobot is either designed or not designed. As prhean points out, it cannot be “kind of” designed. This is one of the discrete functions to which I referred. It is yes/no true/false. NDE flatly states the nanobot is not designed by an intelligent agent to any extent whatsoever. ID posits that an intelligent agent acted to bring the nanobot into existence. NDE may be right and ID wrong; ID may be right and NDE wrong; or they may both be wrong, in which case nd the nanobot resulted from some process not yet conceived. But they cannot both be right. There is no compromise position between the two.

  16. The difference is that life is said to have developed over millions and billions of years and people assume that when given that amount of time, evolution is possible.

  17. —–Barry A “Detection of purpose is not beyond the ken of science even when bound by methodological naturalism. In fact, this happens all the time. Every time an archeologist classifies a stone as an arrowhead, he has made a telic explanation of the data without resorting to supernatural causes. In the same way, a telic explanation of the obviously designed nanobots in the cell does not rely upon divine causality, just intelligent causality.”

    Does this activity not transcend methodological naturalism the moment it considers the possibility that neither law nor chance can explain the event?

  18. But it seems to me that compromise does not fit in well with the quest for scientific truth. If two mutually exclusive theories purport to explain the same data, one of them may be right and the other one wrong, or they may both be wrong, but no one suggests we should seek a “compromise” between the two theories.

    I would disagree that this is how science works. Yes, sometimes there are theories that are in direct competition, but as often as not the situation is one where the theories are not totally opposed to each other, and what happens when a new theory becomes established is that there is a lot of noise at meetings, people defend their own views, and eventually a consensus emerges where the new theory is merged into the current framework. A few things get nudged around to make space, but it is essentially a compromise.

    I guess endosymbiosis would be one good example.

    Bob

  19. I entirely agree with Barry. NDE claims that ALL biological species arose for RM + NS. The proposition is very clear, no misunderstanding. As Barry rightly says, its truth has no degrees. Simply it can be true or false, tertium non datur. Unfortunately the claim is false and then no compromise is possible. It would be as we try a compromise on the hypothesis that 2+2=5.

    Darwinists are loosing the chess game against ID and offer the balance to avoid the checkmate…

  20. Apparently the term neo Darwinism is not one accepted by many evolutionary biologists. It is certainly a term that is in use but is not as wide spread as we suppose. The more accepted term is “modern synthesis.” Wikipedia has a discussion of the use of the term “neo Darwinsim” since first coined in 1895 by George Romanes.

    The tenets of the more preferred term, modern synthesis, according to Wikipedia is

    “According to the modern synthesis as established in the 1930s and 1940s, genetic variation in populations arises by chance through mutation (this is now known to be sometimes caused by mistakes in DNA replication) and recombination (exchange of genetic material between homologous segments of DNA). Evolution consists primarily of changes in the frequencies of alleles between one generation and another as a result of genetic drift, gene flow, and natural selection. Speciation occurs gradually when populations are reproductively isolated, for example by geographical barriers.”

    There is much in this that ID accepts and in fact it should incorporate these tenets into itself because there is plenty of evidence that it works. And it adds to the variety of life and makes it richer and more able to resist extinction. The single contention is that the only source of variation in a population is the result of chance mutations. This a source of some variation but there is little evidence that it provides anything but a small amount of variation.

    But also the modern synthesis only works for micro-evolution and that is the distinction we should focus on. Focus on the science of neo Darwinism and the modern synthesis and we will have common grounds to discuss especially if we agree to accept a lot of it as consistent with ID. It is the philosophical speculations that accompany many of these discussions that lead to the contentious rhetoric even when these philosophical speculations are not specifically expressed.

    If we do accept these scientific tenets then when someone as ignorant as Larry Moran appears on the scene and tells us the answer is natural selection and genetic drift we can tell Larry that these are part of ID so what is he talking about.

    The main scientific argument is and will always be the origin of variation on which natural selection and genetic drift work. Until we learn to separate the various parts of the debate (e.g. genetics from source of variation, macro evolution from the mechanism of natural selection) we will be forever throwing meaningless rhetoric at each other and essentially not have a productive conversation. Remember not all who come here to challenge ID are like Larry Moran. Some are open to reason but we have to be people of reason in return. Also many more that do not comment read this blog and may be affected by those who present the most reasonable arguments.

  21. FTK:

    Re:

    PZ and other professors have added ID to their biology curriculum and they are ripping it to shreds.

    I just want to note — on long observation of typical evolutionary materialists’ tactics — that rhetoric and spin games that exploit the ignorance of students and the public are very, very different from a cogent, honestly thoughtful response that first of all fairly states what is being asserted and argued by Design Theory thinkers, and why. [Cf my always linked and just updated, through my handle.]

    Also, that, for good reason, I hold that the entire evolutionary materialism project is intellectually bankrupt.

    GEM of TKI

  22. 22
    EndoplasmicMessenger

    Granville Sewell: Would you really insist, at this point in time, that our schools be required to teach ID?

    I have mixed feelings about this. I am in the middle of (trying to figure out how to best) teach my 6th grade daughter about Intelligent Design.

    I have three reasons for this.

    1) Her life sciences text book contains many references to Darwinism without any critical counter balancing. They just covered the Urey-Miller experiment, without mentioning, of course, that its premises have now been pretty well universally rejected. (See Dembski/Wells for an excellent treatment.)

    2) Its a slippery slope from methodological materialism to philosophical materialism. Unless they are taught the difference at each step, they will not know the difference. To paraphrase some of our materialist friends, when you see philosophical materialism being liberally applied throughout the scientific endeavor, you must continually remind yourself that they only have the legitimate right to methodological materialism.

    3) I want her to learn to think critically and independently, and be able to support an argument courteously but vigorously. She is not getting this out of her normal classroom instruction. (Go check out any Slashdot controversy, from ID vs Darwinism to vinyl vs digital and you will find very few people who can make any intelligent statement almost anything without an ad hominem attack thrown in there. This seems to be the level of “education” that most kids are getting.)

    4) Too many young people are thrown in the deep waters of our pervasive cultural materialism without being taught how to swim. It is unfair to them to put them in such a lose-lose situation.

    So yes, I think our young people need to be taught about methodological materialism vs philosophical materialism. And the ID vs Darwinism controversy is the perfect opportunity. Perhaps this is not something for the science classroom. But I don’t see it happening in any classroom. So I am going to attempt to do this at home — but I wish I didn’t have to.

    (If you know of any good materials, please let me know!)

  23. While it is true that there is no compromise with the truth, I believe that both parties should reach a compromise when the truth is still not yet clear.

    I haven’t seen any decisive proof of both ID or Darwinism. Darwinism apparently cannot be demonstrated in any lab, (or takes too long) and the lack of evidence gives rise to many many theories. (little information = a lot of freedom) However at the same time ID has trouble calculating the level of specified complexity in organisms as well as calculating whether something is irreducibly complex. (due to the lack of information and other reasons) As long as the mathematical basis of such definitions are not in place, it is easy to define something as irreducibly complex just because a mechanism for it’s construction has not been found. The same of course, goes with Darwinism. Even if a naturalistic mechanism for self-organisation into living organisms does not exist, it is always easy to say it has not yet been found.

    Imo, it might also actually be impossible to prove ID. What if it were true that some unnamed intelligent entity was behind the creation of life. How then do you prove that? Can ID survive as a negative of Darwinism? (by demonstrating that it is impossible to natually evolve something)

  24. WinglesS,
    Yet theistic ID does have a concrete example of transcendent CSI abruptly appearing, whereas evolution has no example of radical transmutation ever occurring.

    The concrete example of CSI suddenly appearing is called the Big Bang!

    To deny this fact evolutionists have to vainly try to deny that a fantastic amount of CSI was present in the Big Bang, yet once again they lose here;

    According to the esteemed British mathematical physicist Roger Penrose (1931-present), the odds of one particular individual constant, the “original phase-space volume” constant required such precision that the “Creator’s aim must have been to an accuracy of 1 part in 10^10^123” or as said another way, “The initial entropy of the universe had to be within one part in 10^10^123!”. If this number were written out in its entirety, 1 with 10^123 zeros to the right, it could not be written on a piece of paper the size of the entire visible universe, EVEN IF a number were written down on each atomic particle in the entire universe, since the universe only has 10^80 atomic particles in it.

    It is generally accepted that for our universe to have the extremely low entropy it now has required as the “starting point” at the big bang the selection of a virtually infinitesimally tiny volume of the total phase space of all possible universes (phase space is a complete mathematical description of any physical system).

    “Gain in entropy always means loss of information, and nothing more.” Gilbert N. Lewis (October 23, 1875 – March 23, 1946) was a famous American physical chemist.

    http://lcni.uoregon.edu/~mark/.....ation.html

    Thus, The fact is proven that a tremendous amount of CSI was suddenly introduced at the Big Bang

  25. Materialism, as a philosophy, gives no explanation for the physical constants being what they are, that I recognise. (there are occasional appeals to some antropic priciple, multiple universe etc etc) Theism, on the other hand, doesn’t give an explanation for God. I’m not saying that such an explanation is necessary, but while the fine tuned universe argument is imo a valid a form of argument for design, it in no way proves design.

    It is also true that the 2nd law of thermodynamics seems to imply that the universe was initially at a state of low entropy. This was a problem Issac Asimov thought of, (although he in no way solved) in his short story “The Last Question”. This is, however generally a problem not of evolutionists, nor a form of proof used ID theorists because it isn’t biological. I think it’s a more applicable argument in the field of stellar evolution than the theory of evolution. It’s an argument for the universe having a beginning. (which I heard was accused of being a Christian concept)

    I’ve also never heard of this argument used as one of CSI. It is hard to see specificity in the chaos of the universe. Perhaps you could elaborate on how you recognise specificity in the structure of the universe.

  26. I really really hate to say this but there is the possibility that most of cosmology is contrived. In other words, it’s the big bang theory that may be highly fine tuned and not necessarily the big bang. But the theory will still be kept as long as there is no better *naturalistic* theory to replace it.

    We can recognize CSI, as Einstein did, in the laws of nature. But I’m very wary of this idea of getting something out of isolated arbitrary numbers.

  27. 27
    EndoplasmicMessenger

    WinglesS: Perhaps you could elaborate on how you recognise specificity in the structure of the universe.

    Newton stated that every object in the universe attracts every other object with a force … inversely proportional to the square of the separation of the two objects.

    Why the square? Why not the cube? Or to the power 2.5? Or 2.1? Or 1.937591537?

    Why would the universe choose a round whole number for its law of gravity?

    For that matter, why would a human construct (the mathematics of inverse proportion) even apply to anything in the universe? This human construct is a specification. And the universe adheres to it.

    That’s CSI.

  28. Well, compromise has already been tried, and we all know how that turned out.

    Straddling the fence between materialist/ Darwinism and Intelligent Design, we find the ever popular, media friendly schizophrenics—the Christian/Darwinists. I won’t mention any names, but you all know who they are. They want their God and their Darwin too; but they want a quiet God and a loud Darwin. To believers they say, “Hey, I am a Christian.” leaving the convenient impression they believe in a purposeful, mindful creator. To the academy they say, “Don’t worry, I am first and foremost a Darwinist, so I really believe in a purposeless, mindless process that has no need of a creator. I you don’t believe me, just watch how I slander and smear the ID people.”

    Incredibly, the only thing they are consistent about is their double-mindedness. For them, any pair of contradictory statements can be reconciled. On the one hand, they believe God revealed himself in Scripture; on the other hand, they insist that God hid himself in nature. On the one hand, they reject design inference in principle; on the other hand, they find design inherent in the “evolutionary process.” On the one hand, they renounce the philosophy of metaphysical materialism; on the other hand, they practice it under the aegis of “methodological naturalism.” Be sure of one thing, though. If an atheist arguing for Darwin debates a Christian arguing for design, they will always go with the side that butters their bread.
    Not only does their duplicity betray the public trust, it retards scientific progress.. More to the point, these disingenuous hacks harm the ID movement 100 times more than Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens could ever hope to. There is just enough sugar in their confection to make young Christians swallow the poison whole and join the ranks of the anti-ID militants. Although I am a Catholic Christian myself, I do, nevertheless, find the radical atheists easier to bear. Spare me from the soul selling, split-the-difference, have-it-both-ways Christians. If they wanted to be reasonable, they would stop persecuting ID scientists in the name of religion. We ask only one thing: give us our rightful place at the table as we establish, develop, and apply the principle of design inference. Nothing more should be asked; nothing less should be expected.

  29. wingless (#23): “I haven’t seen any decisive proof of both ID or Darwinism.”

    You might look at Mike Gene’s new book The Design Matrix – a Consilience of Clues. I am presently in it. He doesn’t think that proof is a practical proposition, just a fairly high degree of certainty based on a preponderance of evidence. He derives several measurable parameters that can be estimated toward that goal.

  30. StephenB, I am continually amazed by what some of the people to whom you refer will say. I once asked a prominent Jesuit (nationally known), if Darwinism is true how can there be an ontological discontinuity between humans and the higher animals. He said there is none. Every time I think of that exchange I shake my head in wonder.

  31. Science doesn’t deal with “proof.” Some claims are shown by science to be plausible and others are shown to be extremely implausible.

  32. BarryA (#30), this is indeed an amazing example of irrational cognitive dissonance.

    However, there is one concept that seems to reconcile Darwinism and spiritual/physical dualism (presumably unique in man). This of course is rejected by Christians, and of course by materialists.

    Both spiritual experiences and psychic/paranormal phenomena demand a model of man which has both a physical body and an immaterial entity (soul, spirit or some other conceptualization) which can communicate, sense and manipulate beyond the brain without the mediation of fields and forces known to physics, and which also can leave the body.

    It would seem that even if the human animal with its marvellous body design actually evolved completely through a Darwinistic process, these animal bodies could have at some point in prehistory been “ensouled” by Spirit. In other words, when the vehicle was ready, Spirit began to experience the physical world through physical human bodies.

  33. —–magnan: “It would seem that even if the human animal with its marvellous body design actually evolved completely through a Darwinistic process, these animal bodies could have at some point in prehistory been “ensouled” by Spirit. In other words, when the vehicle was ready, Spirit began to experience the physical world through physical human bodies.”

    Would materialist Darwinism permit “Spirit,” a non-material entity, to complement RV+NS process? Would it not claim that “spirit” is ultimately grounded in matter and cannot be anything more than an extension of a purely materialistic process?

    Can the EFFECT of a materialistic process suddenly become the CAUSE of ensoulment?. Even if “Spirit”could become a cause, and therefore capable of ensouling, we have to wonder why. Did it intend to do so all along? If it did, then how can the process be “natural” or Darwinistic, which by definition, can intend nothing?

    It seems that there is no way out of the dichotomy: either mind (spirit) arose from matter (Darwin) , in which case it never really escaped from it {monism} or matter arose from mind (spirit), in which case spirit was independent all along {theism (dualism)}.

  34. It would be like compromising on the freezing point of water.

    At what pressure, with pressure defined and measured how? And with temperature defined and measured how? (International standards are arrived at through compromise.) How will repeated measurements be processed to arrive at a scalar value? (The “best” way to do this is not obvious.)

    BTW, the standard for a kilogram is no longer adequate for some scientific research, and there is considerable debate as to which of various competing approaches to definition is best.

    To elevate contemporary scientific beliefs to “truth” is essentially a religious process. (Some strains of atheism are religions.) Talk about building a house on shifting sand! Nothing beneath you can be counted on to stay put. The freezing point of water is likely to change.

  35. —–Barry A, “StephenB, I am continually amazed by what some of the people to whom you refer will say. I once asked a prominent Jesuit (nationally known), if Darwinism is true how can there be an ontological discontinuity between humans and the higher animals. He said there is none. Every time I think of that exchange I shake my head in wonder.”

    I know exactly what you mean. There was a time when the Jesuits provided the best education on the planet. In the last few decades, though, they have done a complete turn around.

    “Corruptio optimi pessimum est, says the proverb: ‘the corruption of the best is the worst’.

  36. stephenB let’s put it the other way. if there is spirit in animals then how can there be random variation?

  37. I should remind BarryA and others that neo-Darwinism is normally used as a name for what came out of the evolutionary synthesis of the 1930′s. Prior to the synthesis, geneticists and Darwinists were at loggerheads. But there emerged a strong consensus that AND, not OR, made for the best scientific explanations.

    If I understand correctly, some of you hold that macro-evolution is the province of ID, and that mainstream evolutionary accounts of micro-evolution are reasonable. Although I’ve seen the micro/macro distinction many times, I am less confident than ever that I know how users of the terms are defining them.

    It seems to me that the micro/macro distinction should be made at the genetic level. We all know that mutation of a single gene can cause a large difference in phenotype, so demarcation in terms of degree of change in phenotype does not seem a paying proposition to me. Speciation preceded by genetic variation on a larger scale is more problematic for mainstream theories.

  38. Semiotic 007 “At what pressure, with pressure defined and measured how? And with temperature defined and measured how? (International standards are arrived at through compromise.)”

    Agreement on measuring standards is a human enterprise and therefore compromise can be part of it.

    Don’t let this confuse you. A measuring standard is not the same thing as the phenomenon to be measured. The freezing point of water under given conditions (whatever those conditions are) is what it is. There can be no compromise on that. If the freezing point of water under given conditions is X, if someone says it is Y, they are wrong. They are not kind of wrong or partially wrong. They are just wrong. There can be no compromise between those who posit X and those who posit Y.

  39. “Well, compromise has already been tried, and we all know how that turned out.

    Straddling the fence between materialist/ Darwinism and Intelligent Design, we find the ever popular, media friendly schizophrenics—the Christian/Darwinists.”

    When I say that there should be compromise, I’m not saying that with respect to individual beliefs. I’m saying it more in the sense of tolerance despite real differences. It’s perfectly fine to say that you believe that both ID and Christianity is true, and that Darwinism is a bunch of hogwash. However if ari-freedom is correct on science that we can’t prove ID or Darwinism to be true, just show that one is highly probably and the other improbable, we should tolerate the existence of Atheistic Darwinists. This is what I mean by compromise.

    Think of it as the way different religions treat each other. Even if I might think Christianity (for example) is false and Buddhism (for example) is true, I don’t go around burning down churches. (I stress that this is just an example) I might attempt to convert some Christians to my point of view, but even if they refuse, I allow them their religious freedom.

    In other words, what I’m advocating by compromise is that of freedom of scientific thought and research, not compromsie by some sort of mixing or hybridisation of the two theories.

  40. Semiotic 007,

    I think there are ways to look at macro evolution that can be useful for distinguishing ID from naturalistic mechanisms.

    Macro evolution covers a lot of ground and I am not sure there is good evidence to support all of what is called macro evolution. For example, I would not call most IC systems macro evolution since a lot of it is pre Cambrian or only showed up in the Cambrian. I tend to refer to macro evolution as that which occurred after the Cambrian.

    After the Cambrian there is a lot of macro evolution and it is purely speculation as to how it occurred. A lot of the debate in the popular press is how did one species arise from another species when there are substantial functional differences between them. This is the major league of macro evolution. How did insects, birds and bats get wings to fly, how did land creatures develop oxygen breathing systems or how did man get such a big brain and why such a long time for children to develop and where did consciousness come from. How did 4 chamber hearts and warm vs. cold blooded arise. How did birds develop their unique oxygen transport system. There is a lot more but this gets to the issue. There is lots of speculation but no evidence, only as series of “just so” stories. An occasional fossil is brought up to show the progression ignoring the fact that there had to be tens of thousands of other steps for these progressions of which only a handful have been found. In other words how did unique functional systems arise.

    There is another part of this discussion which I call macro-evolution light. This is how did a lot of the orders and families develop? For example, within Carnivora how did all the families arise? ID seldom cares about this area but evolutionary biology does. I don’t think ID would care much if someone showed how all the family canidae or felidae arose by gradualistic approaches but yet the evolutionary biologists would claim that would be a major verification of their theory.

    ID is mainly interested in the area of macro-evolution where new systems arose and has less of an interest in how specific families of species arose. Though there is an interesting hypothesis that could support ID that applies to this latter problem.

  41. BarryA,

    The freezing point of water under given conditions (whatever those conditions are) is what it is. There can be no compromise on that.

    The transition of matter from liquid state to solid state is not given by nature. It is a matter of human definition. You won’t find earth, air, fire, or water in the periodic table of elements. Considering the proliferation of states of matter, it may well be that physicists eventually agree on a categorization that is quite different from any we can imagine now. There is no guarantee that future scientists will find the categories of solid and liquid useful.

    (When I was a boy, I read that stars were comprised of gas. But they later turned into plasma. Shazaam!)

    Even with present definitions of states of matter, to say that a volume of water has transitioned from liquid to solid is a matter of definition. Researchers must agree on what they operations they will perform and what observations they must make to say that the state transition has occurred. Different operational definitions will lead to somewhat different proclamations of the freezing point. The operational definition scientists consider best by consensus may change when new laboratory equipment comes along.

    The phenomenon of freezing is intimately linked to human definition and observation. Science is predicated on the existence of something “out there,” but scientists are responsible for the organization and naming of their observations.

  42. Jerry,

    That’s an interesting response. I’ll have to give it some thought.

  43. EndoplasmicMessenger at 21
    Suggest
    The Fallacy Detective
    Nathaniel Bluedorn & Hans Bluedorn, 2003 Christian Logic ISBN 0-9745315-0-2 as having some stimulating discussion on the various logical fallacies commonly encountered.
    Nancy Pearcey Total Truth 2005 ISBN-13: 978-1581347463
    is excellent for older students in showing the overall context and solution.

  44. Semiotic 007 at 41
    You are commenting on semantics, not the physical phenomena.

    Physical chemistry models and quantifies such changes of state and can give quantitative models with precise definitions for the boundaries.

    See NIST on SI Units and Fundamental Constants.
    Note particularly the triple point of water that defines the Kelvin (absolute) temperature scale. That is an unequivocal thermodynamic fixed point that will not change. With Einstein’s theory of the constant speed of light, that is now defined as the fundamental constant for measurement. Definitions of frequency, time and length are now fixed and based on that absolute standard. That will not change (until you can show that the speed of light in vacuum changes.)

    The kg standard is the remaining issue of more precise measurements and refinement leading to a new definition based on nature instead of an artifact.
    The present work on a natural standard for the kilogram has come out of more precise measurement systems. It will likely provide a definition of the Avogadro number or equivalent on which to base the kg which will not vary.

    The issue of ID vs macroevolution is fundamentally different in addressing whether intelligent causation exists behind life or if the stochastic processes with the four forces of nature are sufficient to explain abiogenesis and macroevolution. That is not an issue of refining measurement systems, but a total paradigm shift.

    I agree with jerry at 40 on clearly including in ID much of microevolution of variations in alleles, mutations etc.

    Lets get back to the critical issues of how to address macroevolution heavy vs ID.

  45. However if ari-freedom is correct on science that we can’t prove ID or Darwinism to be true, just show that one is highly probably and the other improbable, we should tolerate the existence of Atheistic Darwinists.
    -

    There is still a difference of perspective. We think that the burden of proof must be on the evolutionists to show that life can evolve by natural processes. I think it is an extraordinary claim that requires…at least some evidence in the lab.

    Evolutionists see ID as some proof of the supernatural since “obviously” life was not the result of human design. They would recognize the arrowhead dated 2000 years ago as the result of human design but if that same arrowhead appeared to be from 2 billion years ago, they wouldn’t recognize the design. They claim that ID must be the extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence. Otherwise it was the result of evolution… somehow.

  46. Semiotic 007 — Even with present definitions of states of matter, to say that a volume of water has transitioned from liquid to solid is a matter of definition.

    Are you saying that water doesn’t freeze?

  47. Semiotic 007
    Re Micro vs Macroevolution “Speciation preceded by genetic variation on a larger scale is more problematic for mainstream theories.”

    Could you please expand on this. e.g. I understand human vs chimp to differ by at least 150 million bp (5%) compared to a few thousand changes that Haldane’s Dilemma allows, as further detailed by Walter Remine.

  48. Semiotic 007 “The phenomenon of freezing is intimately linked to human definition and observation.”

    Surely you don’t mean this. If there were no humans to observe and define the event water would nevertheless go on freezing, no?

    With respect to your earlier point, let me put it this way: Under certain conditions an event occurs with respect to water. That event will always occur under those conditions. How we measure that event and what we call it are completely different issues. The measuring and the defining are human-related events where compromise is possible. The event itself is not.

  49. EndoplasmicMessenger @ 22:

    And, Ari @ 45:

    They [evo mat thinkers] would recognize the arrowhead dated 2000 years ago as the result of human design but if that same arrowhead appeared to be from 2 billion years ago, they wouldn’t recognize the design. They claim that ID must be the extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence . . .

    And so they begin the slippery slide down the slope to Cliffordian/Saganian evidentialist selective hyper-skepticism and associated worldview level question-begging that leads to plain old fashioned closed-mindedness.

    I also note that indeed, scientific theorising can only arrive at provisional inferences to best current explanation. Just ask the ghost of Newton about his theories, post 1880 – 1930 or so.

    Though of course, actual observations and real facts of science — e.g. the triple point of water and the linked fact that water does freeze under certain commonly encountered conditions, however we may choose to measure or set them up — are matters of moral certainty in many cases.

    As to methodological naturalism/ materialism, my take is that we need to toss it out, root and branch — the whole concept is CHOSEWN because it has that slippery slope effect that distracts us form trying toe find out the empirically anchored truth about the cosmos, through describing, explaining predicting and controlling or influencing the world.

    Let’s start again, instead from the classical observation Plato made in his The Laws, Book X:

    Ath. . . . we have . . . lighted on a strange doctrine.
    Cle. What doctrine do you mean?
    Ath. The wisest of all doctrines, in the opinion of many.
    Cle. I wish that you would speak plainer.
    Ath. The doctrine that all things do become, have become, and will become, some by nature, some by art, and some by chance.
    Cle. Is not that true?
    Ath. Well, philosophers are probably right; at any rate we may as well follow in their track, and examine what is the meaning of them and their disciples.
    Cle. By all means.
    Ath. They say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art, which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . . . fire and water, and earth and air, all exist by nature and chance . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them . . . After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . . Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [i.e. mind], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body? . . . . if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise.

    Then, we can without unnecessary and question-begging constraints on our explanations, look at [a] what is of chance, [b] what is of law-like natural regularity resting on mechanical necessity, [c] what is of agent action. [In commonly met with situations two or more of these forces can easily be acting. Cf my discussion here.]

    Then, we can rebuild the structure of the sciences and science education, on a surer footing that does not beg questions and close minds to otherwise credible and reasonable truth.

    GEM of TKI

  50. BarryA,

    Surely you don’t mean this. If there were no humans to observe and define the event water would nevertheless go on freezing, no?

    With respect to your earlier point, let me put it this way: Under certain conditions an event occurs with respect to water. That event will always occur under those conditions. How we measure that event and what we call it are completely different issues. The measuring and the defining are human-related events where compromise is possible. The event itself is not.

    It may seem that I’m wrecking your thread, but what I’m addressing here is how complex and tenuous scientific beliefs are, and how little they have to do with ordinary notions of “truth.”

    Certainly water freezes, but the term freezing point is misleading. The freezing of water is a relatively complex crystallization process involving kinetic factors. Crystallization is not a discrete event. The only freezing points included as defining points (calibration points) in the international temperature scale, ITS-90, are of metals.

    I think it is worth emphasizing that the temperature points in ITS-90 are referred to as defining points. A consequence of the authoritarian approach to teaching science is that students believe they have learned what is, rather than what has been defined or assumed, or what follows from definitions and assumptions. Students are told that water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius, and while that is fine as a provisional teaching, most adults know no better. High school students should learn that water crystallizes at about 0 degrees Celsius, and that 0.01 degrees Celsius is defined as the temperature component of the triple point of standard water.

    Students learn that the speed of light is constant, when this is actually an assumption of Einsteinian mechanics. There is an alternative mechanics — I don’t know the name — that essentially reverses Einstein’s assumptions about the speed of light and distance in space, and yields better explanations of some phenomena than Einsteinian mechanics does.

    It seems ironic to me that the ID movement seeks to undermine the authority of science in certain regards, and yet so many ID advocates cling to the authority of science (or “good science”). The beliefs scientists hold by consensus may be presented by authority figures as fact, but they are as tenuous as those of the scientists who worked 300 years ago. Perhaps theories are in some sense coming closer to reality, as Thomas Kuhn suggested, but with problems like those in reconciling quantum and Einsteinian mechanics, it appears a great deal will change in coming years.

  51. They are discrete functions. Yes/No True/False In other words, there can be no compromise between truth and error because there is no middle ground between them. Therefore, pleas for “compromise” in the ID/NDE debate don’t make sense to me.

    I’m not aware of any scientific statement that does not depend critically on definitions and assumptions. Anyone who’s spent a great deal of time reading research papers, as I have, knows that most conclusions are qualified. What makes its way into pop science and lower-level textbooks is often simplified by omission of qualifiers.

    Oddly enough, I’ve tried to explain to detractors of ID that its more sophisticated proponents have in fact adopted compromise positions. Dembski and Behe do not deny that Darwin and the life scientists who have followed have obtained good scientific explanations of certain phenomena, but take exception to the extrapolation (I think I’m safe in using that term) to other phenomena. This makes the leading advocates of ID remarkably different from creationists, who historically have no use whatsoever for mainstream evolutionary theory.

    Another aspect of compromise I see in Dembski’s work is to leave open the possibility that design, as an influx of information, is continuous rather than discrete in time. This is a very difficult concept for many ID advocates to grasp. Dembski’s theoretical work allows random and design processes to proceed simultaneously.

  52. P.S.–I mean to say that Dr. Dembski leaves open the possibility that design occurs gradually.

  53. StephenB (#33), I mentioned that of course Darwinists would scoff at any notions like the one I posed.

    “Can the EFFECT of a materialistic process suddenly become the CAUSE of ensoulment?. Even if “Spirit”could become a cause, and therefore capable of ensouling, we have to wonder why. Did it intend to do so all along? If it did, then how can the process be “natural” or Darwinistic, which by definition, can intend nothing?”

    Souls are here conceived to be inherently above and separate from the physical world and not limited by its laws, including time. So they would not be any effect of any materialistic process. They could have simply waited until there was a suitable vehicle. If one never appeared, then try again somewhere else.

    I am not saying this is totally satisfactory, but I was merely suggesting a way in which (all evolution = Darwinist RV + NS) could be compatible with spiritual/physical dualism. We are of course committed to the proposition that this is not the explanation for at least the core machinery of life and its major structural innovations.

    As to why souls would do this, a lot of speculations could plausibly apply. These are metaphysical/spiritual concepts and somewhat off-topic, but for instance soul entities could wish to experience limitation and the forgetfulness of their true home and Source, and the challenge of finding that Source again under such conditions.

  54. H’mm:

    Sidenote on triple point etc.

    Water’s triple point is an identifiable point, as also holds for other multiphase systems that have the same convergence of phases at one point on a P-T phase plot.

    Taking it together with the absolute zero — note the name! — we can define an ideal temperature scale, an this is the foundation of practical temp scales such as the one cited above. The scientifically and technologically relevant ones are the Kelvin, Celsius, Rankine and Fahrenheit scales.

    I should also note that temperature is in effect a metric of the average random energy per microscopic degree of freedom in a body.

    For instance, an ideal monoatomic gas’s molecules can move in each of three dimensions and have 1/2 kT of energy per degree of freedom. Based on this we can go to the classic ideal gas expression:

    PV = n RT

    Thereafter, we can identify that a sufficiently dilute gas approaches the ideal gas’ behaviour under certain conditions, and make relevant measurements. And, of course, we are able to show that for a black body, which is closely approximated by a cavity radiator, we have a measurable spectrum following the now famous Planck relationship that started quantum theory going.

    In short, we have a balance of theory and praxis, with conventions being anchored in empirical observations.

    by sharpest contrast on the isues tied to design, the notion that chance + necessity can credibly give rise to organised complexity and thence life and biodivrsity, onward man with mind and conscience, is a highly subjective and dubious assertion.

    For, to get to functionally specified, complex information — especially when we are dealing with discrete state data strings capable of storing more than 500 – 1,000 bits of information — on chance plus necessity on the gamut of the observed cosmos is maximally improbable.

    But, we DIRECTLY and routinely observe such FSCI being made by intelligent agents. We KNOW a credible source of such organised complexity, ands we have good reason to infer that chance + necessity is not credibly capable of getting to FSCI. No wonder, even in the teeth of noise and what it may logically and physically do, we routinely infer to intelligent agency on observing FSCI — e.g the messages in this thread.

    So, why then is it that once certain worldviews are under challenge, some suddenly want to impose a philosophically question-begging and historically unjustified redefintion of science that would take science out of the business of being an empirically anchored search for truth, into being a shill for a self-refuting, intellectually and morally bankrupt worldview, namely evolutionary materialism?

    Could we not, instead, get back to approaching science as:

    . . . a provisional — thus open-ended and open-minded, empirically anchored quest for the truth about the way the world works, that seeks to accurately and reliably describe, explain, predict and influence or control the forces, materials and phenomena of our observed world?

    In that context, we must always be open to the possibility that for certain important things [e.g. those exhibiting signs such as FSCI], proper and accurate explanations may not only infer to chance or mechanical necessity showing itself in law-like regularities, but also agency.

    For, agents and their traces are long since known, observed phenomena in our world!

    GEM of TKI

  55. As I pointed out above, many IDists talk out of both sides of their mouths about scientific authority. They want to discredit some texts while citing chapter and verse of others as “truth.”

    One of the less brilliant things the Dover Area School District did was to single out mainstream evolutionary theory as “just a theory.” If the district had prepared a statement saying about all scientific theories more or less what the actual statement said about evolutionary theory, and had instructed all science teachers to read the statement in all science classes, the teachers might well have complied, and the district would have been legally in the clear.

    Dover is a case in which laypeople sharing the dubious notion that some science is “true” and some is “false” (in the everyday sense of the terms) adopted an uncompromising position on a theory they believed false, and paid dearly for it.

    The ID movement also paid dearly for DASD’s errors, and it seems to me it would be wise for the movement to promote training in science as “the way most scientists see things at present.”

  56. Kairosfocus, it is telling that you go to “absolute zero” for an absolute in science. If you buy into Einstein’s relation of mass and energy, matter cannot exist at absolute zero. That is, the way you got an absolute was to introduce a theoretical construct.

    Your vague reduction of measured temperature to temperature on a microscopic scale was appropriate in its vagueness. There is no clear relation of the triple point of water to temperature on the microscopic scale, because the water is in three different states.

    I’m sure you know considerably more about physics than I do. But it gains you nothing here, because I can easily locate the definitions and/or assumptions any “truth” you identify depends upon. And in some cases, such as the notion of temperature, I can easily determine how the “truth” has changed over time.

    Nothing in a science textbook should be assigned the epistemic status of scripture.

  57. Semiotic 007-

    The ID movement also paid dearly for DASD’s errors, and it seems to me it would be wise for the movement to promote training in science as “the way most scientists see things at present.”

  58. Nonsense, the way most scientists see things at the present is the way that they have been taught it in school. This is the classic institution blocking the exercise of free thought. You must realize that this is a pattern to say the least in human history- one that refuses to go away. On the contrary ID I feel benefited from the dover trial. I think the courts and the teachers unions were exposed as exactly what they are- intolerant demagogues. You are absolutely correct in saying that no scientific theory deserves the status of “scripture” as you so eloquently put it- yet that is exactly the position of teachers and scientists today because they have been caught in the web of institutional bigotry towards the theory of teleology that was displaced by Darwinism 10 years ago. and why id Darwinism simply a theory? Because, ID or design is still on the table and should be taught. or at least mentioned.

  59. the theory of evolution is not a theory, it is a conjecture or a model.

  60. Semiotic –Certainly water freezes, but the term freezing point is misleading. The freezing of water is a relatively complex crystallization process involving kinetic factors. Crystallization is not a discrete event.

    OK, Semiotic. What “compromise” do you propose on the freezing point of water?

    Would you say we should use thermoresistors rather than mercury bulb thermometers? What if we measure the point at which water freezes and the electronic thermometer reads a different temperature than the mercury one? Should we split the difference (compromise) or assume that one is faulty?

    The circumstances that you cite are matters of clarification not compromise.

    Compromise is not appropriate in science. What is appropriate is to admit that one does not have all the answers and could be wrong or that a description long-held as a standard might be wrong, or that there might be a clearer description.

    None of which of course involves compromise.

  61. —–Semiotic 007: “I’m sure you know considerably more about physics than I do. But it gains you nothing here, because I can easily locate the definitions and/or assumptions any “truth” you identify depends upon. And in some cases, such as the notion of temperature, I can easily determine how the “truth” has changed over time.”

    Don’t you think you are getting a little carried away with “social construction” theory.

  62. Frost,

    I distinguish the intellectual content of ID from the socio-political ID movement. I don’t think the Dover trial said anything about the scientific viability of ID. That’s for scientists to decide, not judges (and also not juries, and also not voters).

    ID has not always been a dirty word in intellectual circles. Nobody but the choir listened to Johnson’s sermons. Mainstream biologists immediately slammed Darwin’s Black Box. But Dembski’s The Design Inference was quite unlike anything we’d seen before. In the years soon after its publication, it aroused a fair amount of interest among intellectuals, and I think their responses were open and reasonable. “Maybe he’s onto something with this notion that there’s information in some objects allowing us to infer reliably that they’re designed.” Things took a downturn, in my opinion, when it became difficult to tease apart Dr. Dembski’s political action and his scholarly output. (His recent collaboration with Prof. Marks seems like a move in the right direction.)

    My point is that there was a time when scientists and other intellectuals were open to the notion of design inference, and that if the leading advocates had left political action to others, ID (the intellectual component) might have fared better.

    Now it’s clear that ID theorists are not just asking for admission of a new theory into the existing framework of science, but for a radical transformation of science itself. Just how fast do you think a change like this should happen in a culture that on the whole is fabulously successful in achieving its ends? Keep it in mind that readmission of teleology to science has ramifications throughout.

  63. tribune7,

    None of which of course involves compromise.

    International standards are established by committees. The members sometimes compromise in the process of building consensus.

    It is an empirical observation that this is how standards committees work, StephenB.

  64. International standards are established by committees.

    The standards by which we measure temperature were not created by committees.

    If I said water froze at 32F and you said 28F we would not agree that it froze at 30F and still be expect to be taken seriously (unless maybe we claimed to be deconstructionists)

  65. H’mm:

    A few notes are clearly needed:

    1] Semiotic, 55: One of the less brilliant things the Dover Area School District did was to single out mainstream evolutionary theory as “just a theory.”

    It is a commonplace to beat up on the Dover School Board. But much of the adverse commentary is unfair or inaccurate.

    For instance, actually, THIS is what they said on theories and the NDT:

    The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

    Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

    Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.

    With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on Standards-based assessments.

    That seems fair enough to me, and it obviously explicitly relates to ALL scientific theories, not just NDT. At least, if my ability to read English is still working.

    Indeed, it is only because the rhetorical and legal atmospheres are so charged with hostility and suspicion that the statement is even controversial, as I discuss in the blog post which appears at Appendix 2 in my always linked.

    2] If the district had prepared a statement saying about all scientific theories more or less what the actual statement said about evolutionary theory, and had instructed all science teachers to read the statement in all science classes, the teachers might well have complied, and the district would have been legally in the clear.

    Did you see what happened to Sen Santorum’s academic freedom amendment — e.g at he notoriously unreliable on such matters Wiki, whihc refuses to acknowledge that Evo Mat is highly controversial and that its handmaiden NDT is also controversial? [The classic pretence of "consensus" as a "proof" of scientific truth that seems to be exploding over on the Global Warming issue!]

    I quote:

    “It is the sense of the [US] Senate that—

    (1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and

    (2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.

    We are dealing with censorship of freedom of thought, and censors seldom gently surrender power, however politely the request is put.

    3] If you buy into Einstein’s relation of mass and energy, matter cannot exist at absolute zero. That is, the way you got an absolute was to introduce a theoretical construct.

    First, it is the Third Law of Thermodynamics, the Nernst Theorem [if memory serves -- too lazy to go over and pull a tome or two just now . . .], that forbids reaching Absolute Zero in any finite number of refrigeration cycles.

    Second, if one looks at say the C18 – 19 Charles Law etc, one sees that the behaviour of real but dilute gases is pointing somewhere as T falls. Just like, Galileo was pointing somewhere as he thought through to the issue of ideal friction-less, air resistance less mechanics. That one may not actually achieve perfectly the ideal state does not diminish its utility or objective reality as a limit.

    [Indeed, this issue of the reality of a limit that one may only approach is also -- and in context rather unsurprisingly (guess why Newton is the founder of the fully synthesised classical dynamics AND of calculus along the way) -- the foundational premise of the differential and integral calculus!]

    So, do you deny the reality of limits? If so, why do you use devices that rest on their reality, including not only the thermometer but also the automobile, the air plane etc? Not to mention, infinite impulse response [feedback-incorporating] digital filters; which includes many an economically important forecasting model.

    4] There is no clear relation of the triple point of water to temperature on the microscopic scale, because the water is in three different states.

    Excuse me!

    First, simply insert the relevant object into the triple point cell’s cup! [This is one of the ways that thermometers are calibrated.]

    Next, the concept that there is an average amount of energy per molecular degree of freedom which is metrically related to temperature is not a vague concept, it is a key point in the elucidation of what temperature means in physics.

    Molecules tend to have 1/2 kT energy per degree of freedom, on average, k being Boltzmann’s constant. That energy goes into translational modes for a monoatomic gas, which as noted can approach the ideal gas as it gets sufficiently dilute.

    From the premise of such random energy [more generally also in rotational and vibrational modes --things get complex once we deal with complicated molecules and introduce the quantum effects and freezing out of degrees of freedom], we may accurately deduce the observable macroscopic properties, through first Kinetic Theory, then Statistical Thermodynamics.

    5] I can easily locate the definitions and/or assumptions any “truth” you identify depends upon. And in some cases, such as the notion of temperature, I can easily determine how the “truth” has changed over time.

    First, I think you need to read my remarks on the provisional nature of science, e.g in my briefing for primary level Science teachers, here.

    Next, you should read my base-level comments on reason and belief here. Proof and truth are two separate things, and we may confidently know truths that are unproven and unprovable.

    For instance, following Josiah Royce, try: “error exists.” Deny it, and you instantiate it — it is undeniably true. But, that’s not a demonstrative proof beyond all assumptions and faith-point commitments. It is an example of adequate/sufficient and good warrant.

    And BTW, a commitment to a given Scripture as a credible revelation from God, is a faith-point commitment. It may be well warranted, but it is not the subject of demonstrative proof. Here is Clarke Pinnock in a telling remark on the Christian Scriptures:

    Why, in the last analysis, do Christian people believe the Bible is God’s Word? Not because they have studied up on Christian evidences and apologetics, however useful these may prove to some. Christians believe the Bible because it has been able to do for them exactly as Paul promised it would [i.e. in 2 Tim 3:13 – 17]: introduce them to a saving and transforming knowledge of Christ. Reasons for faith and answers to perplexing difficulties in the text, therefore, are supportive but not constitutive of faith in God and his Word. Faith rests ultimately, not on in human wisdom, but in a demonstration of the Spirit and power. [The Scripture Principle, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1985), p. xix.]

    6] Frost, 58: I feel [ID] benefited from the dover trial. I think the courts and the teachers unions were exposed as exactly what they are- intolerant demagogues . . . teachers and scientists today . . . have been caught in the web of institutional bigotry towards the theory of teleology that was displaced by Darwinism 10[0] [nb probably more like 70 - 80] years ago.

    In the long run, yes.

    In the short run, look at the tactics being used by the Wikipedians in their main article on ID (As I briefly reviewed based on my straight or spin grid at no 26 in the Comer actual email thread of Dec 13).

    Then, look at my above on atmosphere poisoning, as Aristotle points out. Let’s just hope it won’t take a judicial murder or the near equivalent for today’s Athenians to wake up.

    7] Semiotic, 62: it’s clear that ID theorists are not just asking for admission of a new theory into the existing framework of science, but for a radical transformation of science itself.

    Actually, the impact of design theory is to call Science back FROM such a radical, ideologically motivated restructuring that is unwarranted by reason ands experience.

    Namely, the injection — as my aleways linked will document and link, it is neither historically (cf Newton’s General Scholium to Principia) nor philosophically (cf link to e.g. Peterson on why the ID issue matters, in the link to basics at the end of the updated intro] well-warranted — of so-called methodological naturalism into the definition of science.

    For, what that does, a priori, is that by asserting that scientific explanations must be “natural” [i.e tracing in the end ONLY to chance + necessity acting on matter -energy in space- time; agency being only an accidental consequence of the first two causal factors on this planet], it seriously and too often closed-mindedly begs several questions on origins.

    And it runs straight into our exceptionless empirical observation that organised complexity, especially manifested through functionally specified, complex, often fine-tuned information-bearing structures are the product of agents.

    No to mention, as I have argued at length in say the Aug 20 Charles Darwin thread from no 48 on, evo mat is self-stultifying on the origin and credibility of mind and morals.

    64] Trib 7: If I said water froze at 32F and you said 28F we would not agree that it froze at 30F and still be expect to be taken seriously (unless maybe we claimed to be deconstructionists)

    Right.

    The factt hat we have persons involved in a process does not automatically mena that their decisions are just politics and power games. Sometimes, we actually can act in the light of empirical evidence and the light also of logic, and find a consensus that makes sense objectively.

    The Fahrenheit scale is an example of something that was in the first instance fairly idiosyncratic — the zero was set off getting as cold a brine as one could, but then the basic point that water freezes at 32 and boils at 212 under the condition of an atmosphere at 760 mm pressure on the classic Fortin barometer, was used to identify fixed points for practical use.

    Thus, we have operational definitions that are empirically well-grounded and can then be refined. They are not just matters of opinion and politics of Committees. (This is not bleeding edge literary criticism accursed under Rom 1:19 ff or Eph 4:17 ff here!)

    GEM of TKI

  66. semiotic007, I really dont think that you are so right about all of this- Darwin’s Black Box did very well when it was published and i think that it is less respected today than it was then because the DE group has had time to invent all kinds of creation tales of how IC “might” have happened and thus- it “must” have happened via DE. As far as the design inference- I really think it was until NFL that Dembski’s theory was substantiated- NFL is one of the greatest bokks that i have ever read and i think in time it will be held up as one of the greatest works regarding origins ever written- NFL may have replaced the ORigins of Species. “Specified Complexity cannot be purchased without Intelligece”- what a mantra!

    In any event i think you should look at the ID movement today as stronger than it has ever been= since Darwin that is- and yet it is the same political crowed in the Schools (the teacher’s unions etc) that have waged a holly war on ID- ie Dover.

  67. i mean no offense but its laughable how modern COLLEGE biology text book mention the cambrain in about 2 sentences but then go on to write an entire book of speculation represented as scientific fact and consensus = and the sad thing is that the consensus part is largely right- because they all keep useing and teching the same garbage recycleing it over and over-

    and why is cambrian explosion barerly mentioned? obviously because the most incredibly obvious ting about it is that it refutes the DE theory. It doesnt fit- not into the theory and therefore not into the text books.

  68. The quibble over the temperatures and pressures at which H20 undergoes a state transition are amusing but miss the point I made about scientific facts which did not reference any particular transition points. I stated it’s a scientific fact that water can exist in solid, liquid, and gaseous forms. I consciously avoided any specific transition points so there could be no pedantic quibbles about it. Science is chock full of facts but not all sciences – just the so-called hard sciences like chemistry and physics. There’s a lot of truth in the saying that all of science can be reduced to either physics or stamp collecting.

  69. One of my favorites from Pascal: “That which is incomprehensible does not cease to exist.”

  70. DaveScot: In the 67 comments preceding your first, no one referred to what you said in another thread. It apparently seemed to you we were focused on your remark back whenever, but we were actually engaged in our own debate. It was tribune7 who, in comment 5, responded to BarryA’s post with “It would be like compromising on the freezing point of water.”

    When I read technical papers by physicists, I am always struck by the frequency of and emphasis on the word model. That word is hugely deemphasized in popsci writing, and an unfortunate consequence is that many readers make the error of reifying the abstractions of models. “Did a designer tune the cosmological constant?” is a sad, sad example of reification. Somehow the weight of a correction Einstein added to an existing model (adapting it to fit new data) became in the minds of some benighted souls something that exists in physical reality. What I find “amusing,” to use your word, is that Einstein removed the correction (including the cosmological constant) when additional data came along to suggest he never needed it. More than thirty years after Einstein’s death, physicists again decided they needed a cosmological constant to model observed phenomena. Some physicists suggest that observers in different parts of the universe would assign different values to the constant.

    This is not a “quibble.” From top to bottom, physics is full of tenuous assumptions and definitions (this includes elements of models) that consumers of science mistake for the “truth” about physical reality. The people who are most likely to keep matters of “truth” straight are actually not scientists, but philosophers of science. (The ID movement has benefited from having some highly-educated philosophers of science. Most scientists are philosophical cretins, and someone like Dr. Dembski can tie them in knots when the discussion goes to what science is and what science might be.)

    Only one discussant, StephenB, showed up at the ballpark where I was playing:

    Don’t you think you are getting a little carried away with “social construction” theory.

    Although I don’t think I made temperature into a social construct, it was an entirely reasonable remark. I would have loved to have seen more along those lines.

  71. semiotic

    So are you saying the statement “water can exist as a gas, liquid, or solid” is not a scientific fact?

  72. It is presently a scientific fact, but may not always be. It used to be a scientific fact that the sun was gas, not plasma. (By the way, googling “liquid gas solid -plasma -plasmas states matter” yields about 1.9 million hits. It appears that plasma hasn’t caught on with K-12 educationists in the U.S.)

    Wikipedia says there are at least 13 identified states of matter at present, and I find all 13 in technical sources when I google. In general, when categories proliferate, physicists look to simplify. If there emerges a successful “theory of everything,” a useful way of looking at states and phases of matter may be quite different from what we have now. In other words, what we now refer to as water in liquid, gaseous, and solid states will continue to exist, but not necessarily as scientific entities.

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