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Darwinism: An Embarrassment for Legitimate Science

I write this post from a hotel room in Livermore, California, home of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where my company has sent me for advanced training in computational fluid dynamics using LS-DYNA, arguably the most advanced finite element analysis program ever devised, originally at LLNL in the 1970s for the development and analysis of variable-yield nuclear weapons.

I have a particular interest in LLNL because my father worked on the Manhattan A-bomb Project during WWII, and was the founder and director of an experimental nuclear reactor at Washington State University, which has been named in his honor.

Here is some info from the LLNL website:

For more than half a century, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has applied cutting-edge science and technology to enhance national security.
Origins. The Laboratory was established in 1952 at the height of the Cold War to meet urgent national security needs by advancing nuclear weapons science and technology. Renowned physicists E.O. Lawrence and Edward Teller argued for the creation of a second laboratory to augment the efforts of the laboratory at Los Alamos.

The people who developed this technology are legitimate scientists. Darwinists are pseudo-scientists who have no notion of what science is all about. Compare the accomplishments of the LLNL scientists and developers of LS-DYNA to those of people like Dawkins and his “weasel” program.

Darwinism is a downright embarrassment for legitimate science.

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133 Responses to Darwinism: An Embarrassment for Legitimate Science

  1. 1

    Have you ever even been to an evolution meeting? If you want to know why actual biologists dislike creationists so much, look again at your post. You are insulting an entire field of study, likely without ever seriously engaging with the data and people in it.

  2. Nick,

    The Darwinian hypothesis about the origin of information in living systems is simply not credible. This is not hard to figure out, and design is the only reasonable, rational inference.

    Have I ever been to an evolution meeting? Yes. I attended such a meeting on a perpetual basis from the time I was a small child until I left the university with my three degrees.

    Once I got out of the ivory tower of academic Darwinian indoctrination, entered the real world, developed AI software, and became an engineer, mathematician, and computer scientist, I realized how absurd and unrealistic Darwinian speculation was.

    Darwinists are living in an era gone by. They are modern-day alchemists who think that chemistry can turn lead into gold. It doesn’t work that way. The nucleus of the atom must be modified to turn lead into gold, and chemistry does not have the power to do the job.

    And chemistry surely does not have the power to transform inanimate matter into Mozart.

    How can this not be obvious?

  3. 3
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Gil:

    How can this not be obvious?

    This is a good question.

    It certainly seems obvious, doesn’t it?

    But what seems obvious sometimes turns out not to be the case. It seemed obvious that solid things were made of solid stuff all through until we discovered that atoms were mostly empty space. It seemed obvious that two moving objects each moving towards each other at a speed of X would have speed relative to each other of 2X, until Einstein showed that this was not the case.

    And to many of us, it turns out to be the case that living things, which seem as though they must have been designed by an intentional designer, could equally – and indeed more plausibly, given that we have no independent evidence for such a designer, nor for any mechanism by which such a designer could implement his/her designs – by brought about by a quasi-design process known as self-replication with modification and heritable differential reproduction.

    Clearly you disagree – but where I think you are absolutely wrong is in your apparent assumption that those of us who disagree with you are somehow deluded, victims of indoctrination, stupid, or blinded by emotional vested interest in an atheist worldviewe.

    When intelligent people disagree – and I count you as intelligent, as I count myself, and, indeed Nick, then it’s worth finding out where the disagreement lies, and why there could be two such different interpretations, by intelligent people, of the evidence we have.

    Dismissing the other side as deluded (and both sides do it), seems to me simply silly.

    There’s a real argument to be had here – bring it on :)

  4. 4

    Gil,

    Once I got out of the ivory tower of academic Darwinian indoctrination, entered the real world, developed AI software, and became an engineer, mathematician, and computer scientist, I realized how absurd and unrealistic Darwinian speculation was.

    Perhaps you should return to university and get a forth degree, one related to a biological field?

    That way your criticisms might have more to them then just “Darwinism is stupid”.

    Darwinists are pseudo-scientists who have no notion of what science is all about.

    In fact judging solely on output I find it’s you that is the pseudo-scientist with no notion of what science is about. You and several other well known ID names are exactly that – pseudo-scientists. Your claims that Darwinism is falling are the same claims that have been made since Darwin first proposed his theory.

    What have you ever contributed to scientific understanding? Apart from of course finding better, more accurate ways to kill people by working for the military. Oh, I’m sure you’ll claim it’s all about getting supplies to the troops, but what are they for in the first place Gil?

    Tell me Gil, if Darwinism is so wrong and it’s supporters are all pseudo-scientists then what’s your prediction for the final fall of Darwinism? It must be soon, right?

    Darwinism is a downright embarrassment for legitimate science.

    And ID is a laughable side show only of interest to those scientists who can be bothered to fight through the morass of deliberate misrepresentations that it’s supporters generate. For example, “news” had a story about a new paper. The author of that paper appeared in the comments to explain that “news” had got it all wrong and had totally misunderstood the paper.

    Not a single reply. If you were really scientists here then you’d have updated your understanding at that moment. But no, truth does not actually matter. It’s just the spin.

    Darwinists are living in an era gone by.

    You can say it as many times as you like it does not make it true.

    And even if the era of Darwinism passes into history you are deluded if you think that ID is somehow going to step into it’s place. It’s not going to happen!

  5. 5
    Elizabeth Liddle

    There was also this UD news headline:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....man-brain/

    offered that readers might scoff at the idiocies of Darwinism.

    And yet not even the Science Daily headline made the strawman claim of the UD news headline, let alone the original paper.

    It would become this site, as it becomes anyone or any body claiming to be making a good scientific argument, to correct errors once they are pointed out. Or, at the very least, to offer a counter-rebuttal.

    It sometimes happens here, which I find refreshing.

    But as of now, two clearly erroneous news stories on this site stand unretracted!

  6. Nick, perhaps you think you are being ‘scientific’, but in your exchange with LivingstoneMorford, when he had clearly dismantled your argument for T3SS to flagellum,,, you stated this as perhaps your ‘strongest’ argument for ‘non-design’ of the flagellum;

    ‘So Someone intelligently designed the flagellum so that it could later evolve into the T3SS and cause things like bubonic plague? What an mean guy!’
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-389444

    Now Nick this is not science!!! Clearly, this is blatantly dishonest to the facts of science,,, i.e. instead of you conceding to the fact that you are at a complete loss to explain how the flagellum arose,,, as this guy did,,,

    ‘Since the flagellum is so well designed and beautifully constructed by an ordered assembly pathway, even I, who am not a creationist, get an awe-inspiring feeling from its ‘divine’ beauty.,, if the flagellum evolved from a primitive form, …where are the remnants of its ancestor? Why don’t we see any intermediate or simpler forms of flagella than what they are today? How was it possible that the flagella have evolved without leaving traces in history?
    - Shin-Ichi Aizawa – What Is Essential for Flagella Assembly? – 2009 – Pili and Flagella – Chpt. 6

    Bacterial Flagellum – A Sheer Wonder Of Intelligent Design – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994630

    ,, You, as is normal for Darwinists ever since Darwin, use the theologically based ‘Bad Design’ argument to argue for evolution,,,

    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

    ,,, as Ayala did here against William Lane Craig:

    Refuting The Myth Of ‘Bad Design’ vs. Intelligent Design – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIzdieauxZg

    Now Nick why are Darwinists in such a sad state of affairs scientifically that they have to use such deceptive ploys to try to make their case??? Using extremely ‘bad theology’ to try to make ones point in science Nick???,,, As Gil said in the title, Darwinism: An Embarrassment for Legitimate Science…

    ====================

    “When our leading scientists have to resort to the sort of distortion that would land a stock promoter in jail, you know they are in trouble.” Phillip Johnson – Wall Street Journal

    “A Masterful Feat of Courtroom Deception”: Immunologist Donald Ewert on Dover Trial – audio
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....1_03-08_00

    Moreover Darwinism is useless to science and medicine:

    Materialists like to claim evolution is indispensable to experimental biology and led the way to many breakthroughs in medicine, Yet in a article entitled “Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology”, this expert author begs to differ.

    “Certainly, my own research with antibiotics during World War II received no guidance from insights provided by Darwinian evolution. Nor did Alexander Fleming’s discovery of bacterial inhibition by penicillin. I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No.
    Philip S. Skell – Professor at Pennsylvania State University.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/2816

    Podcasts and Article of Dr. Skell
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....40981.html

    Darwinian Medicine and Proximate and Evolutionary Explanations – Michael Egnor – neurosurgeon – June 2011
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....47701.html

    Science Owes Nothing To Darwinian Evolution – Jonathan Wells – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4028096

  7. I’ve seen, now, a couple of mentions in a couple of places, words to this effect…”given that we have no independent evidence for such a designer…” What is meant by this? Independant of what, or what would constitute independant evidence of a designer? (Would this have a corollary to needing independant evidence for the designer’s of pyrimids in Mexico, if all you had was a pyrimid?)

    As to the bit about how design processes might be implemetned (“nor for any mechanism by which such a designer could implement his/her designs”) several questions come to mind: Would absence of such knowledge, or the inability to posit such a theory, necessarily negate evidence for design and by what law of science would one do so? Too, is it possible that the level of sophistication required to produce and implement the kinds of systems found in the natural world are beyond the current state of human knowledge thus opaque to current means of investigation? (Think Darwin and the true nature of heredity….or early concepts of the composition of mater, or the nature of light -maybe understanding design in biology is, in some instances, at a level analogus to, or even less advanced than pre-relativistic concept of light speed.)

    I wonder, too, if oppostion to design theory isn’t rooted in issues other than science. Design Theorist’s are often accused of a lack of imagination – seems to me that, when encountering the subject under discussion in regards to design, only certain types of imagination are permitted.

  8. Precisely, arkady967. All very good points, well made.

    Nick, William and Lizzie all fail to recognise (or admit) that they are bringing prejudices to the table which are impairing their reason and blinding them to the scientific facts. I explored this issue in more detail on a previous thread by GilDodgen:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-389593

    This debate is not really about the evidence being open to interpretation. After all, the evidence only leads one way: Intelligent Design.

    What this debate is really about is why do some people – atheists mainly – believe that everything just made itself purely naturalistically, by accident, despite the fact that it is blatantly obvious that it didn’t? We already know there is no rational or empirical basis for this position. So, what is the real reason? Something emotional or cultural perhaps?

    As Terry Pratchett once said, he was “rather angry with God for not existing.” I suspect that many opponents of ID are harbouring similar feelings and because ID is guilty of being more compatible with God than evolution is, they must reject it no matter what.

  9. How can this not be obvious?

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    This is a good question.

    It certainly seems obvious, doesn’t it?

    But what seems obvious sometimes turns out not to be the case.

    Ok, so we all agree that design seems obvious. We might have no idea who/what/how the design came about, but still, it seems obviuos that its there.
    If you still choose to reject the obvious simply because you don’t belive its possible that its there, you are of course rejecting an obvious conclusion based on belief, not on evidence.

    At least you agree the evidence points towards design even if, for some unknown reason (belief?), you try to explain away the obvious.

  10. 10
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Dala@

    Ok, so we all agree that design seems obvious. We might have no idea who/what/how the design came about, but still, it seems obviuos that its there.
    If you still choose to reject the obvious simply because you don’t belive its possible that its there, you are of course rejecting an obvious conclusion based on belief, not on evidence.

    Not at all. We have no independent evidence of a external designer. So it is reasonable to ask: is there an intrinsic design-like process that could achieve the same kind of result?

    And the answer is: yes, there is.

    Moreover, if we ask ourselves: what are the processes by which known designers (humans, for instance) design things, we find that the process is not unlike the Darwinian process (hence the term “Neural Darwinism).

    And btw – I do think it is serious mistake to assume that people whose conclusions you disagree with reached those conclusions because of some “belief” system, rather than argument and evidence. Sometimes this is the case; many times it is not, and so I think it is a very unsafe starting assumption. I make a point of always assuming that people who disagree with me do so on rational grounds. I think it’s a much more productive assumption, even when, as it sometimes does, it turns out to be probably unwarranted!

    So no, I do not reject the “obvious conclusion based on belief, not evidence”. I think the obvious conclusion is, in fact, that a design process was involved. Given that conclusion, my next question is: what was that design process? I don’t think “an external intentional designer” is the obvious answer to that question. In fact I suggest that there are serious difficulties with that hypothesis.

  11. 11
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Chris:

    Nick, William and Lizzie all fail to recognise (or admit) that they are bringing prejudices to the table which are impairing their reason and blinding them to the scientific facts.

    This is, of course, perfectly possible. But, equally, it is possible that equivalent prejudices are impairing your reason, and blinding you to the scientific facts!

    Probably both are, to some extent true. But we will get no-where by simply assuming that we (whoever we is) are clear-sighted and the other side are not.

    Instead we need to figure out just which scientific facts are at issue and why each side interprets them differently (or, indeed, selects them differently).

    And sometimes we need to actually establish where we disagree. Just as I’m sure you often see lots of strawmen arguments against ID (“It’s creationism in fancy dress!”) so from our PoV, we see what seem to be grave misrepresentations of evolutionary theory.

    Clearing the field of straw men is a daunting task, but an important one if we are going to have a genuine debate.

  12. 12
    Elizabeth Liddle

    arkady967:

    I’ve seen, now, a couple of mentions in a couple of places, words to this effect…”given that we have no independent evidence for such a designer…” What is meant by this? Independant of what, or what would constitute independant evidence of a designer? (Would this have a corollary to needing independant evidence for the designer’s of pyrimids in Mexico, if all you had was a pyrimid?)

    What I mean by it is: we have no evidence, outside the evidence of an apparently designed object, for a designer.

    What would constitute independent evidence for a designer in the case of pyramids in Mexico is evidence that human beings exist; that they existed in Mexico; that human beings are capable of designing pyramids; that we observe human beings building pyramid-like objects; we have independent archaeological evidence of human settlement, including evidence of the tools and technology required to build the pyramid, etc.

    We also have the total absence of any alternative hypothesis, because pyramids don’t reproduce.

    As to the bit about how design processes might be implemetned (“nor for any mechanism by which such a designer could implement his/her designs”) several questions come to mind: Would absence of such knowledge, or the inability to posit such a theory, necessarily negate evidence for design and by what law of science would one do so? Too, is it possible that the level of sophistication required to produce and implement the kinds of systems found in the natural world are beyond the current state of human knowledge thus opaque to current means of investigation? (Think Darwin and the true nature of heredity….or early concepts of the composition of mater, or the nature of light -maybe understanding design in biology is, in some instances, at a level analogus to, or even less advanced than pre-relativistic concept of light speed.)

    Well, for example, we know that designers (human ones) can, in fact, design genomes, and we know about the kinds of methods they use to do so, including methods for sequencing the genomes, for inserting additional or alternative sequences into the genomes etc. If invading aliens wiped out the human species with a neutron bomb and tried to investigate the origins of living things on earth, one of the things they would find were lab animals with genomes that indicated a non-nested hierarchy – strongly suggesting something other than common descent with modification. They’d then find that evidence that one recently extinct species of animal (humans) had the technology to insert part of a genome from one lineage into the lineage of another.

    But we have no evidence for this on earth prior to our own genetic tinkerers. So the next question is: where do we think our postulated designer might have stepped in? Did s/he seed the planet with the simplest form capable of Darwinian evolution and let Darwinian processes take over from there? Or does s/he invisible guide the mutational process so as to ensure a steady supply of useful alleles? or did s/he “frontload” the ancestral genome with dormant sequences which would be activated by hostile environments as needed? In which case, what form could these take?

    In other words, even if we postulate an invisible Designer wielding invisible forces within the reproductive apparatus of living cells, what do we postulate these forces are actually doing? And is there any evidence for this occuring?

    I wonder, too, if oppostion to design theory isn’t rooted in issues other than science. Design Theorist’s are often accused of a lack of imagination – seems to me that, when encountering the subject under discussion in regards to design, only certain types of imagination are permitted.

    No, I don’t think so. I’d be perfectly happy to postulate a Designer if there was a clear design hypothesis. I’m even happy to concede that as yet we have no clear hypothesis regarding the origins of the simplest entity capable of Darwinian evolution, or indeed, how simple that might be. Perhaps we do have to posit a miraculous designer at that point.

    But that shouldn’t stop us looking for a non-miraculous one, because, by definition, a miraculous designer can’t be found by scientific methods, only by the failure of scientific methods.

  13. 13

    “We have no independent evidence of a external designer. So it is reasonable to ask: is there an intrinsic design-like process that could achieve the same kind of result?

    And the answer is: yes, there is.”

    I think, at least in your case, that has yet to be determined.

  14. 14
    Elizabeth Liddle

    No, Upright BiPed, that part is clearly demonstrated already. We know that once you have a minimal self-replicator replicating with variance in its ability to self-replicate, that design-like processes kick in to optimise that self-replicator’s ability to self-replicate in its current environment.

    This is why GAs work. That is why we see adaptation in action in living populations, as well as evidenced, in the fossil and genetic record, over larger time scales.

    So the next question is: what is the simplest self-replicator capable of initiating this process, and could that have arisen from non-self-replicating entities? That’s the question I hope to address in my project :)

    Not that lots of people aren’t on it already.

  15. 15

    “No, Upright BiPed, that part is clearly demonstrated already. We know that once you have a minimal self-replicator replicating with variance in its ability to self-replicate, that design-like processes kick in to optimise that self-replicator’s ability to self-replicate in its current environment.”

    This takes for granted the existence of the information system which makes inheritance and variation possible. So yes, if you take the existence of design for granted, then it has already been demonstrated that there is no need for design.

  16. 16
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Chris, a small but important point:

    What this debate is really about is why do some people – atheists mainly – believe that everything just made itself purely naturalistically, by accident, despite the fact that it is blatantly obvious that it didn’t?

    Could you explain exactly what you mean by “accident” in this sentence?

    For instance, would you call it an accident that hydrogen combines with oxygen to form a liquid?

    Would you call it an accident that the weather tends to be warmer in the summer than in the winter?

    Would you call it an accident that hurricanes form?

    Would you call the form of a snowflake accidental?

    These are not rhetorical questions, by the way – I’d really like to know your answers, because I’d like to know what you think we atheists actually think!

    I wouldn’t regard any of those things as “accidents” – I’d say call them regularities (stochastic regularities at any rate – statistically predictable in aggregate if not individually) of our universe, arising from properties of its parts and of (nested) assemblies of its parts.

    And my view is that life is one of those regularities – something that is probably inevitable in a universe with properties like ours – and of course, if our universe did not have properties that made life inevitable there would be no us to consider whether we were an accident or not!

    So no, I don’t think life is an “accident”. Perhaps what you really mean is that I think that life is purposeless, and meaningless.

    I do think that there is no being whose it purpose it was that living things should exist, any more than I think there was a being whose purpose it was that iron should exist. However, that doesn’t mean that my life has no purpose or meaning! A purpose (many) I most certainly have, as I’m sure you do too! And I find life full of meaning as well!

    So far from denying meaning and purpose in life, I wholeheartedly recognise and embrace it, as do most atheists (though I do meet the odd nihilist).

  17. 17

    Lizzie said “But, equally, it is possible that equivalent prejudices are impairing your reason, and blinding you to the scientific facts!”

    As I explained in the post I linked to previously, ID proponents generally don’t bring prejudices to the table because we can take or leave evolution. In fact, we can even take or leave ID. Sure, we’d have to admit we were wrong about that particular scientific theory. But I can’t see how this would affect our worldview very much. We’d just end up agreeing with the Biologos crowd instead. So, we are free to go wherever the evidence leads, without prejudice.

    Atheists, on the other hand are not free to go wherever the evidence leads if it spells an end to evolution. Nor can they embrace ID theory if the evidence leads there. Either outcome points to a Designer who might be the same Creator that everyone else believes in. That situation is completely unacceptable to atheism. It must be avoided, even if that means ignoring the appeals of reason and science.

    Without their prejudice, atheists would be faced with the collapse of their worldview. You can’t equate that situation to ID proponents, Lizzie.

  18. You are insulting an entire field of study, likely without ever seriously engaging with the data and people in it.

    Therefore, you are a creationist.

    Brilliant logic!

    I think it’s us who are being insulted by people like Nick who have an entire field of study at their disposal and yet still have no evidence.

    Origin of Life
    Origin of Mitosis (600+ genes)
    Origin of Body Plans
    Origin of Sexual Reproduction
    Origin of Consciousness

    and on and on

  19. 19

    Hello again Lizzie,

    I use the term ‘Accident’ as the opposite of ‘Design’. I’d say weather conditions are the product of a Designed system, though I wouldn’t suggest that the first place to look for Intelligent Design is in a snowflake. Not when we have the cell to contend with!

    In more practical terms, I use the term ‘Accident’ to explain the absence of Design in terms of control and planning. If I drop a glass on the floor and it shatters, I see shards of glass and that is a result of an accident. If I don’t drop the glass, but inspect it instead, then what I’m seeing in the result of a design.

    I hope that answers your question.

    It ties into your comments about meaning and purpose. I explained elsewhere why there is no purpose or meaning to atheism:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-387290

    When you talk about atheists being capable of leading a life with meaning and purpose (no doubt, you include with morality too), there is no logical or rational basis to support that position. Rather, we’re back to those prejudices: things which you must hold onto, despite the logical and rational basis to let them go.

  20. 20

    By the way, what relevance do GAs have to cell biology? Or indeed physiology?

    Don’t they have about as much relevance as a bunch of pebbles do to a network of PCs?

    Unless you want to say that “Methinksitisaweasel” because it really is a weasel…

  21. Elizabeth,

    Gil states:

    The Darwinian hypothesis about the origin of information in living systems is simply not credible.

    This is not hard to figure out, and design is the only reasonable, rational inference.

    Your best and only response begs the question.

    The very system you appeal to to explain the appearance of design itself appears to be designed.

    You have no counter-argument. None.

    How can this not be obvious?

  22. Chris,

    Don’t get sucked into the hand-waving. Look at the overall argument in her post.

    There are some things that happen regularly, like summer follows winter.

    Therefore, she rejects that they are accidental.

    Entirely question-begging, illogical, and irrational.

    No doubt these regularities cause themselves, for they are not the result of accidental matter energy arrangements.

  23. Elizabeth Liddle:

    And my view is that life is one of those regularities – something that is probably inevitable in a universe with properties like ours

    And the reason this universe has the properties it does, if any, is…?

  24. 24
    You are insulting an entire field of study, likely without ever seriously engaging with the data and people in it.

    Therefore, you are a creationist.

    No, you are a IDC creationist. Why let a good smear go to waste.

  25. Elizabeth, you wrote..

    I do think it is serious mistake to assume that people whose conclusions you disagree with reached those conclusions because of some “belief” system, rather than argument and evidence. Sometimes this is the case; many times it is not, and so I think it is a very unsafe starting assumption. I make a point of always assuming that people who disagree with me do so on rational grounds. I think it’s a much more productive assumption, even when, as it sometimes does, it turns out to be probably unwarranted!

    Both you and the ID supporters here are projecting your own approach onto your opponent.

    Since many ID supporters here have A priori beliefs that they are absolutely committed to, and since they cannot evaluate the arguments you make without bias, they assume that those very same motives apply to you.
    And since you take a rational approach, and try to evaluate arguments by their merit and without a commitment to a belief system, you assume that those very same attributes apply to the ID proponents here(although after hundreds of hours of the same arguments you clearly recognize that isn’t really the case).

  26. LastYearOn, that’s demonstrably false. See post 17.

  27. Chris Doyle,
    Post 17 is a great example of my point.

  28. 28

    “Since many ID supporters here have A priori beliefs that they are absolutely committed to, and since they cannot evaluate the arguments you make without bias, they assume that those very same motives apply to you.”

    You just projected a misrepresentation based upon your prior beliefs about people you disagree with.

    “And since you take a rational approach, and try to evaluate arguments by their merit and without a commitment to a belief system, you assume that those very same attributes apply to the ID proponents here”

    Then took the opportunity to project a self-satisfying characteristic onto someone you agree with.

    - – - – - -

    No need to make this stuff up.

  29. arkady @ 7 “I wonder, too, if oppostion to design theory isn’t rooted in issues other than science.”

    I think so. As far as I can tell, the opposition is almost always grounded in a failure to strictly adhere to the laws of rational thought. Conclusions from first principles don’t count as “evidence” but this is non-sensical, literally. This is why EL can blithely and interminabley make reference to “no evidence” for God. Well, in her world, duh. God is immaterial and science deals with the material world. Science explains the material world so the material world is all there is. So God doesn’t exist and there can be no evidence for Him, ever, since all that exists is material and He’s allegedly immaterial. I think that fairly sums it up from their point of view. Unfortunately for everybody, they are hopelessly confused about what counts as evidence and what is rational. In the end, it’s their epistemology that leads to their ontological problem. Once this has been explained to them, it then becomes a matter of willful ignorance. I’ve tried many times to engage “them” on fundamental intellectual commitments. Always to no avail. So how can one expect to ever make headway arguing with someone who rejects reason as foundational and authoritative in matters of truth? One cannot. One can only hope that someone lurking will see what makes sense and what does not. Plus, it helps to sharpen my thoughts as I’m sure it helps others. Any opposition, even irrational opposition, is better than no opposition.

    Think of it, design is excluded a priori because it’s not “scientific” but what is “scientific” is itself not a “scientific” question. Who cannot instantly see the circularity and irrationality of that? Lots of people as it turns out.

    Bottom line, we are trying to bring people to truth by reasoning with them but they reject the authority of reason in matters of truth. That’s one of the things that makes it so much “fun” to do…

    In fact, just for my own vicious amusement and to provide one more data point for my claim, I’m going to ask EL to tell me what her fundamental, non-negotiable, intellectual commitments are. She posted on this thread so maybe she’s still reading.

  30. Most of the ID supporters here are very smart, and they are capable of evaluating arguments rationally. However they also have an irrational belief system which they hold absolutely, and which conflicts with many of the arguments Elizabeth and other ID critics here make. The easiest way to reduce the inevitable cognitive dissonance is to project their irrationality onto their opponent’s arguments. In doing so, they satisfy their need to feel that they’re being rational, while still maintaining their belief.

  31. So lastyearon let’s give this a go. What is irrational about a belief system that is grounded in and based on the first principles of reason? Go ahead, tell me that you are rational and then tell me HOW you are rational and I am not. Be specific. Back up your claim. This should be fun. It’s a slow day…

  32. Forgive me LastYearOn, for taking you seriously for a minute there. I thought you would want to substantiate your claims and confront counter-arguments. I now realise you are only here to fall out with us.

    See you next pseudonym.

  33. Well if you’ve been reading this blog, It’s irrational to say this..
    “design is excluded a priori because it’s not “scientific””
    when it has been pointed out over and over that science doesn’t exclude ‘design’. It excludes the supernatural.

  34. 34

    Origin of Life
    Origin of Mitosis (600+ genes)
    Origin of Body Plans
    Origin of Sexual Reproduction
    Origin of Consciousness

    For many of these, go to PubMed, look up Tom Cavalier-Smith, and start reading.

    For the origin of information: this is the silliest ID argument in the book. Gene duplication + mutation + selection creates new information. There is a lot of evidence for this hypothesis. The origin of certain new genes has been reconstructed in great detail which only need to invoke completely standard and much-observed mutational and population-genetics processes. Look up Sdic, yingwei, etc. Supernatural intervention is not a necessary postulate for the origin of new information.

    And thanks, Gil, for admitting that you’ve never been to an Evolution meeting, nor interacted in a scholarly fashion with biological science. And yet you casually toss out insults and completely fallacious arguments without missing a beat. This is the *primary* reason creationists/IDists etc. don’t get no respect in the scientific community. You’ve got to earn respect. Science is not a topic where everyone gets an A no matter what answer they put down.

  35. 35
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    And my view is that life is one of those regularities – something that is probably inevitable in a universe with properties like ours

    And the reason this universe has the properties it does, if any, is…?

    I don’t know, Mung. Possibly because a benign (or bored) deity willed it into being. Possibly because it isn’t actually “fine-tuned” at all, but that the properties it has are the only properties possible. Possibly because while lots of properties are possible, and indeed pertain in the unobservable regions of our universe, only regions of the universe in which they pertain can give rise to entities capable of wondering about it.

    Possibly because the universe is cyclical, and every so often, one with the properties this one has comes up.

    I don’t know.

    But that is very different from inferring a deity from biology.

  36. lastyearon ““design is excluded a priori because it’s not “scientific”” when it has been pointed out over and over that science doesn’t exclude ‘design’. It excludes the supernatural.”

    Science doesn’t exclude design?? What planet are you living on, earthling? Of course “science” excludes design. Science HAS TO exclude design (and God) because of its fundamental metaphysical commitment, which is naturalism. Man, if you can’t even keep your own stuff straight…

    Let’s try this. Only the natural is amenable to explanation by science. (This is not a scientific statement.) Therefore, only the natural exists. All that is natural is physical or material. God/design are not physical or material, therefore, God/design do not exist.

    That whole bit of nonsense depends upon the truth of naturalism but naturalism is patently and necessarily false. Plus how do you get from science explains the material world (no argument here) to that means the material world is all that exists? Explain that to me.

    Let me extend my offer to EL to you. What are your non-negotiable intellectual commitments? Do you have any?

  37. as to Nick’s statement:

    ‘Gene duplication + mutation + selection creates new information.’

    This statement, as with his hypothetical T3SS to Flagellum narrative, is false as far as empirical evidence it concerned:

    Michael Behe Hasn’t Been Refuted on the Flagellum!
    Excerpt: Douglas Axe of the Biologic Institute showed in one recent paper in the journal Bio-complexity that the model of gene duplication and recruitment only works if very few changes are required to acquire novel selectable utility or neo-functionalization. If a duplicated gene is neutral (in terms of its cost to the organism), then the maximum number of mutations that a novel innovation in a bacterial population can require is up to six. If the duplicated gene has a slightly negative fitness cost, the maximum number drops to two or fewer (not inclusive of the duplication itself).
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....44801.html

    The Limits of Complex Adaptation: An Analysis Based on a Simple Model of Structured Bacterial Populations Douglas D. Axe*
    Excerpt: In particular, I use an explicit model of a structured bacterial population, similar to the island model of Maruyama and Kimura, to examine the limits on complex adaptations during the evolution of paralogous genes—genes related by duplication of an ancestral gene. Although substantial functional innovation is thought to be possible within paralogous families, the tight limits on the value of d found here (d ? 2 for the maladaptive case, and d ? 6 for the neutral case) mean that the mutational jumps in this process cannot have been very large.
    http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/.....O-C.2010.4

    An Insurmountable Problem for Darwinian Evolution – Gene Duplication – And Minor Transformation of Protein Function – May 2011
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....1_43-07_00

    Is gene duplication a viable explanation for the origination of biological information and complexity? – December 2010 –
    Excerpt: The totality of the evidence reveals that, although duplication can and does facilitate important adaptations by tinkering with existing compounds, molecular evolution is nonetheless constrained in each and every case. Therefore, although the process of gene duplication and subsequent random mutation has certainly contributed to the size and diversity of the genome, it is alone insufficient in explaining the origination of the highly complex information pertinent to the essential functioning of living organisms. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Complexity, 2011
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.....5/abstract

    Evolution by Gene Duplication Falsified – December 2010
    Excerpt: The various postduplication mechanisms entailing random mutations and recombinations considered were observed to tweak, tinker, copy, cut, divide, and shuffle existing genetic information around, but fell short of generating genuinely distinct and entirely novel functionality. Contrary to Darwin’s view of the plasticity of biological features, successive modification and selection in genes does indeed appear to have real and inherent limits: it can serve to alter the sequence, size, and function of a gene to an extent, but this almost always amounts to a variation on the same theme—as with RNASE1B in colobine monkeys. The conservation of all-important motifs within gene families, such as the homeobox or the MADS-box motif, attests to the fact that gene duplication results in the copying and preservation of biological information, and not its transformation as something original.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20110103a

    The GS (genetic selection) Principle – David L. Abel – 2009
    Excerpt: Stunningly, information has been shown not to increase in the coding regions of DNA with evolution. Mutations do not produce increased information. Mira et al (65) showed that the amount of coding in DNA actually decreases with evolution of bacterial genomes, not increases. This paper parallels Petrov’s papers starting with (66) showing a net DNA loss with Drosophila evolution (67). Konopka (68) found strong evidence against the contention of Subba Rao et al (69, 70) that information increases with mutations. The information content of the coding regions in DNA does not tend to increase with evolution as hypothesized. Konopka also found Shannon complexity not to be a suitable indicator of evolutionary progress over a wide range of evolving genes. Konopka’s work applies Shannon theory to known functional text. Kok et al. (71) also found that information does not increase in DNA with evolution. As with Konopka, this finding is in the context of the change in mere Shannon uncertainty. The latter is a far more forgiving definition of information than that required for prescriptive information (PI) (21, 22, 33, 72). It is all the more significant that mutations do not program increased PI. Prescriptive information either instructs or directly produces formal function. No increase in Shannon or Prescriptive information occurs in duplication. What the above papers show is that not even variation of the duplication produces new information, not even Shannon “information.”
    http://www.scitopics.com/The_G.....ciple.html

    etc,, etc,,

  38. 38
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Chris:

    Lizzie said “But, equally, it is possible that equivalent prejudices are impairing your reason, and blinding you to the scientific facts!”

    As I explained in the post I linked to previously, ID proponents generally don’t bring prejudices to the table because we can take or leave evolution. In fact, we can even take or leave ID. Sure, we’d have to admit we were wrong about that particular scientific theory. But I can’t see how this would affect our worldview very much. We’d just end up agreeing with the Biologos crowd instead. So, we are free to go wherever the evidence leads, without prejudice.

    Atheists, on the other hand are not free to go wherever the evidence leads if it spells an end to evolution. Nor can they embrace ID theory if the evidence leads there. Either outcome points to a Designer who might be the same Creator that everyone else believes in. That situation is completely unacceptable to atheism. It must be avoided, even if that means ignoring the appeals of reason and science.

    Without their prejudice, atheists would be faced with the collapse of their worldview. You can’t equate that situation to ID proponents, Lizzie.

    heh.

    Mirrors are funny things, eh?

    But there’s an apples-and-oranges point here, Chris. An atheist who believes there is no God would indeed be in the position you describe. But I have met very few atheists who believe there is no God. (Actually I’m one of them, but I’m in a minority!) Most simply don’t believe in something for which they consider there is no evidence, namely, god or gods. No “collapse of a worldview” is entailed by finding evidence for something that they hitherto considered there was no evidence for. Just surprise. And, as I’m sure you are aware, many scientists are not atheists, and yet share the view that biology is not evidence for God. Indeed even Todd Wood, a young earth creationist (one I very much admire) readily concedes that the Darwinian model explains the data very well. He just thinks it is wrong, and he means to find out just where.

    On the other hand, GilDodgen frequently equates Darwinism with the nihilist worldview he once held and rejected. It seems to me that for him, his worldview may well rest on the view that ” Darwinists are pseudo-scientists who have no notion of what science is all about”, and may well, therefore, have a strong emotional vested interest in maintaining that stance.

    I’m not saying he does – but I am saying that it is no more unreasonable for me to suspect him of having an emotional vested interest in his case than it is for him to do the same with me.

    But, in both cases, I think it is a mistake. We have to assume that our interlocutors are essentially honest until there is strong evidence otherwise, I think, because otherwise we get nowhere.

    And the first step towards self-honesty is being aware of one’s own biases. We are all biased towards the view we currently hold (as a friend of mine says – Of course I think I’m right – if I thought I was wrong I’d change my mind!) but most of us also don’t want to be mistaken either! I’d much rather find out I was wrong than remain in error!

    And, while finding we are wrong may be painful, for many reasons, most people (in my experience) have the courage to put up with the pain! It only smarts a little :)

  39. Nick @ 34 “Gene duplication + mutation + selection creates new information. There is a lot of evidence for this hypothesis.”

    Surely I don’t get your point. It looks like you are saying that information comes from information and that there is evidence for this. Wow. So that’s what biology has been up to these days… Maybe you could offer up a comment or two on the origin of this information and how it is explained by physical laws acting over time.

  40. Nick I see you mentioned population genetics to try to buttress your atheistic materialism. I think you may want to stay away from that whole line of reasoning:

    Whale Evolution Vs. Population Genetics – Richard Sternberg PhD. in Evolutionary Biology – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4165203

    Waiting Longer for Two Mutations, Part 5 – Michael Behe
    Excerpt: the appearance of a particular (beneficial) double mutation in humans would have an expected time of appearance of 216 million years,
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....ns-part-5/

    Getting Over the Code Delusion (Epigenetics) – Talbot – November 2010 – Excellent Article for explaining exactly why epigentics falsifies the neo-Darwinian paradigm of genetic reductionism:
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....e-delusion

    Hopeful monsters,’ transposons, and the Metazoan radiation:
    Excerpt: Viable mutations with major morphological or physiological effects are exceedingly rare and usually infertile; the chance of two identical rare mutant individuals arising in sufficient propinquity to produce offspring seems too small to consider as a significant evolutionary event. These problems of viable “hopeful monsters” render these explanations untenable.
    Paleobiologists Douglas Erwin and James Valentine

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  41. But Hey Nick, perhaps you can work out the kinks in population genetics???

    Oxford University Admits Darwinism’s Shaky Math Foundation – May 2011
    Excerpt: However, mathematical population geneticists mainly deny that natural selection leads to optimization of any useful kind. This fifty-year old schism is intellectually damaging in itself, and has prevented improvements in our concept of what fitness is. – On a 2011 Job Description for a Mathematician, at Oxford, to ‘fix’ the persistent mathematical problems with neo-Darwinism within two years.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46351.html

  42. tgpeeler,

    Science doesn’t exclude design?? What planet are you living on, earthling? Of course “science” excludes design. Science HAS TO exclude design (and God) because of its fundamental metaphysical commitment, which is naturalism.

    I honestly don’t know how to respond to such a basic misunderstanding, except to say your conflating ‘design’ and the supernatural.

  43. Elizabeth Liddle,

    And, while finding we are wrong may be painful, for many reasons, most people (in my experience) have the courage to put up with the pain! It only smarts a little :)

    In reading this, I’ve been idly considering what pain I’d feel if evolution was shown to be completely erroneous and dismissed in science. Quite frankly, I can’t imagine I’d have much heartburn. It would be disappointing to look at all the life around me and accept that it was not related in anyway to one another biologically, but the fact is I’d still perceive their behavior, colors, and interaction and find that fascinating. Of course, in my mental wanderings on this I also envision that the replacing theory would have an equally feasible explanation for the colors, behaviors, and interactions, so I’d be good with that.

    I’d be rather bummed about all the work I’d done that was apparently erroneous, but then again I’d have a better picture of the world around me and since the new theory would have to take into consideration the explanations my work has been based upon, it wouldn’t have been a complete waste of my time.

    Interesting mental exercise…

  44. 44
    Elizabeth Liddle

    tgpeeler:

    arkady @ 7 “I wonder, too, if oppostion to design theory isn’t rooted in issues other than science.”

    I think so. As far as I can tell, the opposition is almost always grounded in a failure to strictly adhere to the laws of rational thought. Conclusions from first principles don’t count as “evidence” but this is non-sensical, literally. This is why EL can blithely and interminabley make reference to “no evidence” for God. Well, in her world, duh. God is immaterial and science deals with the material world. Science explains the material world so the material world is all there is. So God doesn’t exist and there can be no evidence for Him, ever, since all that exists is material and He’s allegedly immaterial. I think that fairly sums it up from their point of view. Unfortunately for everybody, they are hopelessly confused about what counts as evidence and what is rational. In the end, it’s their epistemology that leads to their ontological problem. Once this has been explained to them, it then becomes a matter of willful ignorance. I’ve tried many times to engage “them” on fundamental intellectual commitments. Always to no avail. So how can one expect to ever make headway arguing with someone who rejects reason as foundational and authoritative in matters of truth? One cannot. One can only hope that someone lurking will see what makes sense and what does not. Plus, it helps to sharpen my thoughts as I’m sure it helps others. Any opposition, even irrational opposition, is better than no opposition.

    Well, tgpeeler, I have to correct you on your representation of my view :)

    But I could have made myself clearer (although I have elsewhere, here, but I haven’t had much conversation with you, so that’s fair enough :)), so I’ll do so now:

    I do not think there is any evidence for the kind of God that is postulated to be responsible for the appearance of Design in living things, nor do I think there is any evidence for the kind of God that science could find. That sounds circular, but it isn’t – science is limited, not on philosophical principle, but methodologically, to discovering contingencies: if this happens, then that will happen, at least with high degree of probability. So one kind of God that science might be able to find might be the kind of God who tended to answer petitionary prayer. We could set up a proper scientific experiment (as has been done) with a control group, and find out whether a prayed-for person tended to have better outcome than a non-prayed for person. And the only studies that we have, that I am aware of, delivered a negative. This does not rule out a petitionary-prayer-answering God (a null result merely lets us retain the null, not reject our alternative hypothesis) but it is not evidence for it, either.

    However, if I was a theist (as I was, for about half a century) that would not, and did not, bother me. If such an experiment had come out positive, it would not, in any case, have convinced me of “the supernatural”. I don’t even know what the word is supposed to mean. It would merely have convinced me that a hitherto unknown regularity of the universe had been revealed, and we should find out more about it – how best to maximise the effect? What kind of prayers work best? Do some conditions respond better to prayer than others? Is there a dose-response curve?

    But that would not evidence for God – or at any rate, not the creator God I used to believe in. It would just be evidence for another property of the universe, and it seems to me it is somewhat heretical to regard God as a property of his/her own creation!

    In other words – if God is a god – and not merely a mysterious fellow-inhabitant of the universe – s/he is not going to be detectable by scientific means. If God explains everything, then his/her influence cannot be differential – and therefore cannot be tested by an if…then hypothesis. The only contingency for a God that is a god can be is “does God will it?” – and how can science know the mind of God?

    So that’s my position. Not that materialism shows that materialism is true – that would indeed be circular! But that not only is science incapable of showing that materialism is true, so is science incapable of showing that materialism is false. Neither conclusion is possible in science, whatever your priors about whether or not God exists.

    Think of it, design is excluded a priori because it’s not “scientific” but what is “scientific” is itself not a “scientific” question. Who cannot instantly see the circularity and irrationality of that? Lots of people as it turns out.

    Well, see above :)

    Bottom line, we are trying to bring people to truth by reasoning with them but they reject the authority of reason in matters of truth. That’s one of the things that makes it so much “fun” to do…

    Well, it may be fun, but your premise is false. Still, it may serve as a McGuffin :)

    In fact, just for my own vicious amusement and to provide one more data point for my claim, I’m going to ask EL to tell me what her fundamental, non-negotiable, intellectual commitments are. She posted on this thread so maybe she’s still reading.

    Well, I guess I’ve sort of outlined them above, but I wouldn’t call them “commitments”. Actually, I’d call them “reason” ;)

    But let’s see – do I have non-negotiable commitments?

    Yes, I do, I think. I’m pretty committed to honesty. I don’t tell deliberate untruths (I guess I could see circumstances where an untruth just might be more ethical than the truth, but it would have to be life-or-death). I’d certainly much rather find I was wrong than remain in error (as I think I’ve said above). I’m not committed to theism or atheism, athough I don’t believe in God, and indeed, believe that there is no God, or at least no God in the sense that you would regard God as God, probably. If you could present me with a good counterargument I’d be more than happy to consider it – I was a happy theist, as I said, for 50 odd years. I even wrote a book for children about heaven :)

    http://www.amazon.com/Pip-Edge.....0802852572

    I’m committed to kindness, as a principle – perhaps you could call it love, perhaps justice. My guiding ethical principle is the Golden Rule (and my favorite formulation is Jesus’ version). I think the best ethical principle I have read (and unfortunately don’t know the source – Rawls, maybe) is do what an unbiased judge would do”. In other words, deprioritise the self.

    Trying to think of some other non-negotiables….

    Nope, I think honesty is the only one. It’s why I like science :) Science may not always be as honest as it should be (it isn’t) but the great thing is that the entire edifice of scientific methodology is designed (heh) to minimise bias and eliminate dishonesty. More positively, the maximise the truth of our models – to fit them as closely as possible to our observations.

    That do?

    Anyway, nice to meet you :)

    Cheers

    Lizzie

  45. 45
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Doveton:

    Interesting exercise indeed!

    In reading this, I’ve been idly considering what pain I’d feel if evolution was shown to be completely erroneous and dismissed in science. Quite frankly, I can’t imagine I’d have much heartburn. It would be disappointing to look at all the life around me and accept that it was not related in anyway to one another biologically, but the fact is I’d still perceive their behavior, colors, and interaction and find that fascinating. Of course, in my mental wanderings on this I also envision that the replacing theory would have an equally feasible explanation for the colors, behaviors, and interactions, so I’d be good with that.

    I’d be rather bummed about all the work I’d done that was apparently erroneous, but then again I’d have a better picture of the world around me and since the new theory would have to take into consideration the explanations my work has been based upon, it wouldn’t have been a complete waste of my time.

    Interesting mental exercise…

    Actually, I think I’d find it still easier, as evolutionary biology is not my field!

    But the trouble with that kind of thought experiment is that it has to be realistic. If evolutionary theory was completely overturned, it would be by something even more awesome. So I guess that would be pretty exciting, actually! A bit like Einstein overturning Newton. That still gives me the (pleasurable) shivers :)

  46. 46
    Elizabeth Liddle

    lastyearon:

    tgpeeler,

    Science doesn’t exclude design?? What planet are you living on, earthling? Of course “science” excludes design. Science HAS TO exclude design (and God) because of its fundamental metaphysical commitment, which is naturalism.

    I honestly don’t know how to respond to such a basic misunderstanding, except to say your conflating ‘design’ and the supernatural.

    It’s a really important distinction, and not the first time I’ve seen the two conflated here, which is sort of odd.

    Science certainly does not rule out “design”. Indeed, in a sense, it is part of my own field (cognitive neuroscience)!

    But it has to rule out the supernatural simply by definition – natural is what can be explained by science – supernatural is what can’t. And as there is no way of testing whether something can’t be explained except by continuing to try to explain it, and failing, then you can’t test the supernatural in science. It remains the null. And you can’t prove a null.

    But you can certainly investigate Design, which is why Dembski’s approach is potentially more informative, and indeed scientific.

    Except it has major problems (but that’s for another thread :))

  47. Elizabeth you state:

    ‘If evolutionary theory was completely overturned, it would be by something even more awesome. So I guess that would be pretty exciting, actually! A bit like Einstein overturning Newton. That still gives me the (pleasurable) shivers’

    And just what would overturn neo-Darwinian evolution, scientifically, Elizabeth? Perhaps finding non-local quantum information, on a massive scale, in molecular biology which is impossible to be accounted for by materialism????

    notes (once again):

    Neo-Darwinian evolution purports to explain all the wondrously amazing complexity of life on earth by reference solely to chance and necessity processes acting on energy and matter (i.e. purely material processes). In fact neo-Darwinian evolution makes the grand materialistic claim that the staggering levels of unmatched complex functional information we find in life, and even the ‘essence of life’ itself, simply ‘emerged’ from purely material processes. And even though this basic scientific point, of the ability of purely material processes to generate even trivial levels of complex functional information, has spectacularly failed to be established, we now have a much greater proof, than this stunning failure for validation, that ‘put the lie’ to the grand claims of neo-Darwinian evolution. This proof comes from the fact that it is now shown from quantum mechanics that ‘information’ is its own unique ‘physical’ entity. A physical
    entity that is shown to be completely independent of any energy-matter space-time constraints, i.e. it does not ‘emerge’ from a material basis. Moreover this ‘transcendent information’ is shown to be dominant of energy-matter in that this ‘information’ is shown to be the entity that is in fact constraining the energy-matter processes of the cell to be so far out of thermodynamic equilibrium.

    notes:

    Falsification of neo-Darwinism;

    First, Here is the falsification of local realism (reductive materialism).

    Here is a clip of a talk in which Alain Aspect talks about the failure of ‘local realism’, or the failure of reductive materialism, to explain reality:

    The Failure Of Local Realism – Reductive Materialism – Alain Aspect – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4744145

    The falsification for local realism (reductive materialism) was recently greatly strengthened:

    Physicists close two loopholes while violating local realism – November 2010
    Excerpt: The latest test in quantum mechanics provides even stronger support than before for the view that nature violates local realism and is thus in contradiction with a classical worldview.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....alism.html

    Quantum Measurements: Common Sense Is Not Enough, Physicists Show – July 2009
    Excerpt: scientists have now proven comprehensively in an experiment for the first time that the experimentally observed phenomena cannot be described by non-contextual models with hidden variables.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142824.htm

    (of note: hidden variables were postulated to remove the need for ‘spooky’ forces, as Einstein termed them — forces that act instantaneously at great distances, thereby breaking the most cherished rule of relativity theory, that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.)

    And yet, quantum entanglement, which rigorously falsified local realism (reductive materialism) as the complete description of reality, is now found in molecular biology on a massive scale!

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA & Protein Folding – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    Quantum entanglement holds together life’s blueprint – 2010
    Excerpt: When the researchers analysed the DNA without its helical structure, they found that the electron clouds were not entangled. But when they incorporated DNA’s helical structure into the model, they saw that the electron clouds of each base pair became entangled with those of its neighbours (arxiv.org/abs/1006.4053v1). “If you didn’t have entanglement, then DNA would have a simple flat structure, and you would never get the twist that seems to be important to the functioning of DNA,” says team member Vlatko Vedral of the University of Oxford.
    http://neshealthblog.wordpress.....blueprint/

    The relevance of continuous variable entanglement in DNA – July 2010
    Excerpt: We consider a chain of harmonic oscillators with dipole-dipole interaction between nearest neighbours resulting in a van der Waals type bonding. The binding energies between entangled and classically correlated states are compared. We apply our model to DNA. By comparing our model with numerical simulations we conclude that entanglement may play a crucial role in explaining the stability of the DNA double helix.
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1006.4053v1

    Quantum Information confirmed in DNA by direct empirical research;

    DNA Can Discern Between Two Quantum States, Research Shows – June 2011
    Excerpt: — DNA — can discern between quantum states known as spin. – The researchers fabricated self-assembling, single layers of DNA attached to a gold substrate. They then exposed the DNA to mixed groups of electrons with both directions of spin. Indeed, the team’s results surpassed expectations: The biological molecules reacted strongly with the electrons carrying one of those spins, and hardly at all with the others. The longer the molecule, the more efficient it was at choosing electrons with the desired spin, while single strands and damaged bits of DNA did not exhibit this property.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....104014.htm

    Information and entropy – top-down or bottom-up development in living systems? A.C. McINTOSH
    Excerpt: This paper highlights the distinctive and non-material nature of information and its relationship with matter, energy and natural forces. It is proposed in conclusion that it is the non-material information (transcendent to the matter and energy) that is actually itself constraining the local thermodynamics to be in ordered disequilibrium and with specified raised free energy levels necessary for the molecular and cellular machinery to operate.
    http://journals.witpress.com/paperinfo.asp?pid=420

    i.e. It is very interesting to note that quantum entanglement, which conclusively demonstrates that ‘information’ in its pure ‘quantum form’ is completely transcendent of any time and space constraints, should be found in molecular biology on such a massive scale, for how can the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ in biology possibly be explained by a material (matter/energy space/time) ’cause’ when the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ falsified material particles as its own ‘causation’ in the first place? (A. Aspect) Appealing to the probability of various configurations of material particles, as neo-Darwinism does, simply will not help since a timeless/spaceless cause must be supplied which is beyond the capacity of the energy/matter particles themselves to supply! To give a coherent explanation for an effect that is shown to be completely independent of any time and space constraints one is forced to appeal to a cause that is itself
    not limited to time and space! i.e. Put more simply, you cannot explain a effect by a cause that has been falsified by the very same effect you are seeking to explain! Improbability arguments of various ‘specified’ configurations of material particles, which have been a staple of the arguments against neo-Darwinism, simply do not apply since the cause is not within the material particles in the first place!
    ,,,To refute this falsification of neo-Darwinism, one must falsify Alain Aspect, and company’s, falsification of local realism (reductive materialism)!

    ,,, As well, appealing to ‘non-reductive’ materialism (multiverse or many-worlds) to try to explain quantum non-locality in molecular biology ends up destroying the very possibility of doing science rationally;

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: 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.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    ,,,Michael Behe has a profound answer to the infinite multiverse (non-reductive materialism) argument in “Edge of Evolution”. If there are infinite universes, then we couldn’t trust our senses, because it would be just as likely that our universe might only consist of a human brain that pops into existence which has the neurons configured just right to only give the appearance of past memories. It would also be just as likely that we are floating brains in a lab, with some scientist feeding us fake experiences. Those scenarios would be just as likely as the one we appear to be in now (one universe with all of our experiences being “real”). Bottom line is, if there really are an infinite number of universes out there, then we can’t trust anything we perceive to be true, which means there is no point in seeking any truth whatsoever.

    “The multiverse idea rests on assumptions that would be laughed out of town if they came from a religious text.” Gregg Easterbrook

    =================

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007

    =========================

  48. To dovetail into Dembski and Marks’s work on Conservation of Information;,,,

    LIFE’S CONSERVATION LAW: Why Darwinian Evolution Cannot Create Biological Information
    William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II
    http://evoinfo.org/publication.....ation-law/

    ,,,Encoded classical information, such as what we find in computer programs, and yes as we find encoded in DNA, is found to be a subset of ‘transcendent’ quantum information by the following method:,,,

    This following research provides solid falsification for Rolf Landauer’s contention that information encoded in a computer is merely physical (merely ‘emergent’ from a material basis) since he believed it always required energy to erase it;

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 2011
    Excerpt: No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy.
    Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

    ,,,And here is the empirical confirmation that quantum information is ‘conserved’;,,,

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. This concept stems from two fundamental theorems of quantum mechanics: the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem. A third and related theorem, called the no-hiding theorem, addresses information loss in the quantum world. According to the no-hiding theorem, if information is missing from one system (which may happen when the system interacts with the environment), then the information is simply residing somewhere else in the Universe; in other words, the missing information cannot be hidden in the correlations between a system and its environment.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

  49. But then again Elizabeth, you still got 5 mutations that interfere with each other to bowl us over with the stunning power of neo-Darwinism!!! :)

  50. Not just mirrors, Lizzie, smoke and mirrors! At least that is the impression you’re leaving at the moment. How can prejudices be coming from our side when we could EASILY reconcile a rejection of ID and acceptance of evolution in the manner that Biologos does, if we happen to be religious? That’s twice you’ve missed that point now!

    And to claim that Dawkins, Hitchens, Myers, Dennett and their followers (ie. Most atheists, not just agnostics which you seem to be referring to) would not be completely devastated by the rejection of evolution and acceptance of ID is frankly laughable! There is no way the atheist worldview – with its lack of meaning, purpose and morality – could ever be reconciled with the demise of naturalism.

    That is why atheists cannot go wherever the scientific evidence leads. Only ID proponents can manage that. Join us if you place truth above prejudice, Lizzie.

  51. lyo @ 42 “I honestly don’t know how to respond to such a basic misunderstanding, except to say your conflating ‘design’ and the supernatural.”

    You are missing the point. There is no basic misunderstanding on my part. I am not conflating design with the supernatural. I am telling you that your ontology of naturalism (if that is indeed what you hold to) denies the existence of both design and the supernatural. In other words, design, real design, is outside of nature and therefore does not exist. Thus the lingo of Dawkins and his ilk that the universe exhibits “apparent design.” Does this help?

  52. Elizabeth Liddle,

    Actually, I think I’d find it still easier, as evolutionary biology is not my field!

    Well, it isn’t mine directly either, though I suspect I’m a little closer to it in the ecological work I do. I certainly use principles established in evolutionary biology in my research, particularly in my work in understanding the mechanism by which some species become “invasive.”

    But the trouble with that kind of thought experiment is that it has to be realistic.

    True and I’m likely considering the impact too casually.

    If evolutionary theory was completely overturned, it would be by something even more awesome. So I guess that would be pretty exciting, actually! A bit like Einstein overturning Newton. That still gives me the (pleasurable) shivers :)

    Oh absolutely! Just the thought of such an immense shift in understanding is a fascinating concept.

    I’m going to go off on a tangent here. In the thread about Defining Life without Darwin, I posted a response to a bit you wrote with a reference to a bit Isaac Asimov wrote on the Relativity of Wrong. In it, Asimov points out that since in science, theories and hypotheses constitute models of the world, it isn’t really accurate to say that one theory completely replaces another in all cases, in particular since many models work well in varying levels of detail. Newton’s model of planetary mechanics vs Einstein’s model of relativity illustrate this quite well in fact. I really like how he put that notion. It’s a good read if you’ve not seen it.

  53. 53
    Elizabeth Liddle

    heh. I’m always linking to that essay!

    Yes, it’s superb. I’ll try to check out your post :)

  54. tgpeeler,

    I am telling you that your ontology of naturalism (if that is indeed what you hold to) denies the existence of both design and the supernatural.

    Naturalism (materialism, atheism) denies the existence of the supernatural. It certainly does not deny the existence of design.

    design, real design, is outside of nature and therefore does not exist.

    Sorry, I don’t understand what you’re saying.

  55. 55
    Elizabeth Liddle

    tgpeeler:

    lyo @ 42 “I honestly don’t know how to respond to such a basic misunderstanding, except to say your conflating ‘design’ and the supernatural.”

    You are missing the point. There is no basic misunderstanding on my part. I am not conflating design with the supernatural. I am telling you that your ontology of naturalism (if that is indeed what you hold to) denies the existence of both design and the supernatural. In other words, design, real design, is outside of nature and therefore does not exist. Thus the lingo of Dawkins and his ilk that the universe exhibits “apparent design.” Does this help?

    Well, if you aren’t conflating them, that’s even odder!

    Of course science can investigate design! We do it all the time! Ask any forensic scientist! Ask me! I’m really interested in how design works, how intention works, how decision-making works, how creativity works. It’s my field!

  56. 56
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Chris:

    Not just mirrors, Lizzie, smoke and mirrors! At least that is the impression you’re leaving at the moment. How can prejudices be coming from our side when we could EASILY reconcile a rejection of ID and acceptance of evolution in the manner that Biologos does, if we happen to be religious? That’s twice you’ve missed that point now!

    No, I’m not missing the point at all (although judging by the vitriol some of the news items on this site tend to pour on Christian Darwinists, I’d have some excuse!)

    I certainly accept that you don’t have such a prejudice Chris. I was just suggesting that it’s worth a self-check, as behooves us all, regardless of “side”. I see no a priori reason to expect it more on one side than the other (except that scientific methodology tends to be an effective counter-weight, although I realise that may be a controversial view here!)

    And to claim that Dawkins, Hitchens, Myers, Dennett and their followers (ie. Most atheists, not just agnostics which you seem to be referring to) would not be completely devastated by the rejection of evolution and acceptance of ID is frankly laughable! There is no way the atheist worldview – with its lack of meaning, purpose and morality – could ever be reconciled with the demise of naturalism.

    No, it is not laughable Chris, and I find your view saddening. For a start, I think you have made a huge mistake in conflating lack of belief in god or gods with belief that there is no god or gods. The former is a simple lack of belief in something the person considers not supported by evidence – no more radical a world view than lack of belief in Zeus. The latter is something quite different. Now it may be that some of those you mention do positively claim that there is no God, not merely that no God is in evidence. Dawkins, I’m pretty sure, does not fall into that category. I don’t know about the others. But what I do know is that none of them consider that the world lacks morality, or hold a world view that excludes morality. Or meaning, or purpose, for that matter.

    Dennett, whose work I know best, not only does not hold that view but has very strong views about the perils of “creeping exculpability” that is a potential danger of reductionism. He is a materialist, but most certainly not a reductionist. Dawkins is not a philosopher, and I don’t know what his views are on the origins of morality, but he most certainly considers morality important. So does Hitchens, who frequently declares certain things immoral (you may disagree with his criteria but you certainly cannot claim that he is amoral). I don’t know about Myers, but I have no reason to think he is not a perfectly upright and moral citizen who regards morality as important. Indeed most people with strong views have a very deep sense of morality, meaning and purpose or why would they bother to express their views!

    That is why atheists cannot go wherever the scientific evidence leads. Only ID proponents can manage that. Join us if you place truth above prejudice, Lizzie.

    Bless you, Chris :)

    But yes, they can. You’ve got that wrong. But that’s OK: we all make errors :)

  57. Tgpeeler,

    In other words, design, real design, is outside of nature and therefore does not exist. Thus the lingo of Dawkins and his ilk that the universe exhibits “apparent design.” Does this help?

    I’m confused by this, Tgpeeler. Are you saying that Dawkin’s insists design is outside of nature or are you insisting that?

    In either case, if designer is “outside of nature”, how can it be anything but SUPERnatural by definition?

  58. Elizabeth Liddle,

    But what I do know is that none of them consider that the world lacks morality, or hold a world view that excludes morality. Or meaning, or purpose, for that matter.

    I believe that when folks like Chris make such statements, they aren’t stating that atheists can’t give the world and their own lives some subjective meaning, purpose and apply some personal morality. Rather they are stating that the atheist worldview holds that there is not external purpose, meaning, or absolute morality.

    And indeed, I would say that by definition, that most atheists would be in rough shape philosophically if naturalism were shown to be false, but then I find that rather question begging anyway. :)

  59. EL, in terms of intellectual commitments I was thinking along the lines of the first principles of reason. You have elucidated a fine list of moral or ethical commitments (I do wonder why you bother given your apparent belief system – it seems inconsistent to me – but that’s also for another time) but I am more interested in the rational commitments we make or fail to make.

    As you can probably tell I am not a professional or even semi-pro philosopher but I think I have some grasp of the logic of thought and the logic of implication. My intellectual commitments terminate in first principles. Principles of reason that cannot be denied.

    Let me try them out on you.

    1. Being. Things exist. I exist. I can’t deny my existence without confirming my existence.

    2. Identity. Things are what they are. Everything that exists or can be imagined to exist has an identity. It’s inconceivable that we could talk about something without identifying it in some way. Even something that does not exist has an identity. It is no thing, or nothing.

    3. Non-contradiction. In ontology, something cannot exist and not exist at the same time. In epistemology, a truth claim cannot be true and not true (false).

    4. Excluded middle. In ontology, something either exists or it does not. There is no middle ground. In epistemology, a truth claim is either true or false. There is no middle ground.

    5. Causality. In a finite universe, which this is, every event that occurs is finite and has a sufficient cause. All finite things have a sufficient cause. This includes the universe. Things don’t “just happen.” Even were a miracle to occur, it would have to be attributed to Someone. God, probably. Until campaign season gets going in earnest, at least.

    Several things follow from these principles.

    1. Error exists. If that truth claim is true then error exists. If it is not true then it commits an error. In either case, error exists.

    2. Truth exists. If that truth claim is true then truth exists and if it is false then truth exists (that it is false).

    3. All thought is made possible by reason and language which requires the free and purposeful manipulation of symbols, according to general (reason) and specific (language) rules. Try to think without using a language or the law of identity. It’s impossible.

    4. There is a way that things are. (First principle of ontology.) To deny this is to assert it.

    5. Reason is the sovereign, or ultimate authority in matters of truth. (First principle of epistemology.) One cannot argue against this without affirming it.

    6. Truth claims are true if they correspond to the way things are. All theories of truth are ultimately correspondence theories as they purport to describe the way that things are. Thus, correspondence is not a theory of truth, it is a definition of truth.

    And one of my favorite statements that summarizes much of this from StephenB: “Evidence doesn’t inform reason’s rules. Reason’s rules inform evidence.”

    Given Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty we know, we know, that 100% knowledge of the physical world is impossible to achieve. Therefore, it follows, that all “scientific” conclusions are probable and tentative. We also know that reason can produce necessarily true conclusions. (if 3 is less than 5 and 1 is less than 3 then 1 is less than 5.) So we ignore the principles of reason at our peril. I’m concerned never to violate these principles because I also think that knowing what is true serves my best interests. Believing BS never got me anywhere.

    Given these fundamental commitments, there are undeniable arguments for the existence of God. That is, as long as one “obeys” the logic. I’ll stop here. I’m sure you have found something to disagree with so far and maybe even something to agree with.

  60. Let me put it another way Elizabeth.

    If all those regularities, which you use to say you’re not left with mere appeal to accident, are not themselves accidental, what are they?

    Evidence of some deeper regularity?

    So it’s turtles all the way down for you is it?

    How does order emerge from chaos?

  61. Mirrors are funny things, eh?

    When I look in the mirror and laugh I’ve never thought it was because the mirror was funny.

  62. 62

    I can post links too! Except mine refer to actual peer-reviewed papers by actual experts in actual top journals!

    http://pandasthumb.org/archive.....ponse.html

    http://pandasthumb.org/archive.....e-man.html

    Explain why the natural origin of the new gene, Sdic, is impossible/wildly unlikely, or admit that evolution can produce new genes with new functions, i.e. new information. It’s as simple as that.

  63. But alas Nick, instead of ‘just so’ gene duplication events in peer review made up to fit preconceived biases for Drosophila melanogaster, I got actual experimental results in peer-review, from four decades of work, that say you are barking up the wrong tree with Drosophila melanogaster:

    Experimental Evolution in Fruit Flies (35 years of trying to force fruit flies to evolve in the laboratory fails, spectacularly) – October 2010
    Excerpt: “Despite decades of sustained selection in relatively small, sexually reproducing laboratory populations, selection did not lead to the fixation of newly arising unconditionally advantageous alleles.,,, “This research really upends the dominant paradigm about how species evolve,” said ecology and evolutionary biology professor Anthony Long, the primary investigator.
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....ruit_flies

    Now Nick, what should I believe, what the evidence actually says when tested or what you want the evidence to say before testing?? I think I’ll stick to what the actual evidence says after testing!!!

  64. Chris,

    I use the term ‘Accident’ as the opposite of ‘Design’. I’d say weather conditions are the product of a Designed system, though I wouldn’t suggest that the first place to look for Intelligent Design is in a snowflake. Not when we have the cell to contend with!

    Given the above, would you agree then that natural processes can “design” products? As an example, when rain water creates a cave, is the ‘erosion system’, a ‘design system’? Are the forces acting on a rain that becomes a snowflake intelligent or are they unintelligent design?

  65. correction, the experiment trying to ‘evolve’ Drosophila melanogaster was only conducted for 30 years/600 generations

  66. 66
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Doveton:

    Elizabeth Liddle,

    But what I do know is that none of them consider that the world lacks morality, or hold a world view that excludes morality. Or meaning, or purpose, for that matter.

    I believe that when folks like Chris make such statements, they aren’t stating that atheists can’t give the world and their own lives some subjective meaning, purpose and apply some personal morality. Rather they are stating that the atheist worldview holds that there is not external purpose, meaning, or absolute morality.

    That’s a good point, Doveton, but I think the distinction is more apparent than real. A very large number of atheists I have talked to (especially before I was one myself) made the (to me persuasive) point that you can derive a more objective morality (or system of ethics) from logical principles than you can for adopting a belief in this god or that, which necessarily entails a subjective choice as to which god you opt for! And even if you opt for the Abrahamic God – which set of commandments? Which of many contradictory precepts? Which picture of the Almighty do we regard as an exemplar of goodness?

    Whereas we can derive fairly readily using logical methods the principle that “do as you would be done by”, if kept by everyone, would leave everyone better off.

    And indeed, I would say that by definition, that most atheists would be in rough shape philosophically if naturalism were shown to be false, but then I find that rather question begging anyway.

    Well, there is that :) I don’t know, though. I guess if an Michelangelo God-The-Father figure were to appear in the sky and announce that time was up, and we’d better abandon our erroneous Darwinian ways sharpish, yes, I’d be pretty disappointed!

    Indeed, if the God painted in most of the bible turned out to be unambiguously real, I’d be pretty horrified. I’d believe in him, I guess, but I wouldn’t worship him.

    So, tgpeeler – I guess Doveton just extracted a couple of non-negotiables out of me! I won’t worship a God I consider to be evil!

    And that would include one that committed genocide and/or instructed his followers to do so.

  67. UB:

    [LYO:} Since many ID supporters here have A priori beliefs that they are absolutely committed to, and since they cannot evaluate the arguments you make without bias, they assume that those very same motives apply to you

    This is of course a classic turnabout rhetorical tactic, meant to cover up what is in fact the real a priori imposition now poisoning origins science and even warping the basic definition of science, in the hands of the US NAS and NSTA etc.

    As Lewontin summarised Sagan and "all but a few" of the elites who run the show of institutional science in our time:

    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 . . . [And, LYO et al, if you imagine the immediately following words JUSTIFY this, kindly cf here to see how in reality they compound the issue and underscore the point . . . ]

    “You’re another” is a very handy rhetorical tactic when one is doing the blatantly indefensible.

    But in this case it is utterly unjustified:

    1 –> Evolutionary materialism ends up reducing mind to the unintended consequence of blind forces of chance and necessity acting on some jumped up pond slime by way of an ape on the East African savannahs with a surfeit of neurons, firing away in electrochemical networks, cutting its own logical throat.

    2 –> So, it is inescapably self referentially incoherent and necessarily false, on its own terms. As Haldane said by the turn of the 1930′s:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    3 –> Worse, since evo mat declares that all that is reduces to matter and energy interacting on chance and mechanical necessity across time in space, it has in it no IS that can carry the weight of OUGHT. It is inescapably amoral, and therefore a menace to the preservation of rights and the civil peace of justice, as Plato pointed out in The Laws Bk X as has been underscored over and over here at UD.

    4 –> If you care about rights and justice beyond dirty manipulative power games by ruthless amoral factions, you will have nothing to do with evolutionary materialism and its enabling fellow travellers.

    5 –> So, evolutionary materialism does not even make it to the starting gates, on self referential absurdity logical and moral grounds.

    6 –> This is not a question begging a priori, it is the logic of reduction to absurdity speaking loud and clear right off. [The tu quoque tactics above suggest that the evo mat advocates know this, so they are now trying to drag us down into the mud of irrationality as well. Sorry, game over.]

    7 –> Now, I for one could live with a world in which evolutionary mechanisms are used as means of creation of life, as say Behe holds, or even Ken Miller.

    8 –> Remember, on the utterly separate evidence of a credibly fine tuned cosmos set up at an operating point that facilitates C-Chemistry, cell based life, that had a beginning perhaps 13.7 BYA, I already have strong grounds to believe in a necessary and powerful being with the knowledge, skill, and intention to create a cosmos such as we inhabit.

    9 –> My worldview is simply not at stake on the origin of life or of body plans, or whether functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information [FSCO/I] is an empirically tested, inductively strong and reliable sign of intelligent cause. For me that is a simple matter of where the induction comes out.

    10 –> On that, we can take the log reduced CSI metric as a good point of departure:

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

    11 –> The Planck time quantum state [PTQS] resources of the 10^57 or so atoms of our solar system would only be able to scan 1 in 10^48 of the states for 500 functionally specific bits, so — on needle in haystack grounds similar to how the 2nd law of thermodynamics is grounded — I can be highly confident that so small a relative sample is unlikely to find UN-representative clusters of states E in narrow specified zones T of the space of possibilities W. This is backed up by an Internet full of observed cases in point where we directly know the cause.

    13 –> So, I am well within my rights to conclude on scientific investigation grounds that FSCO/I is a reliable empirical sign of design.

    14 –> It is those who object who have yet to show a good counter example, invariably the cases suggested — last one I looked at was canals on Mars — turn out to be illustrations of the point, INCLUDING genetic algorithms, which are of course intelligently designed and work WITHIN islands of function T where there are nice hill climbing slopes provided by intelligently designed fitness functions and tuned procedures that will reliably climb. Let us just say that he problem the design inference is tackling is how to get to the shores of an island of function, not how ti climb hills once you are already there.

    15 –> Of course some now want to challenge the reality of islands of function where well matched components must be put together under a wiring diagram per explicit or implicit and quite restrictive rules of integration. to these I say, go try generating a 73 or 143 letter text string in coherent English by chance. Or, put a bag full of watch parts and shake to see if you get a functioning watch.

    16 –> And if you want to inject the new objection that Paley’s watch was not self-replicating, you are WRONG. Paley went on in Ch II to discuss just how the additional capacity of self-replication ADDS to the functional complexity to be explained. We really shoud not let ourselves be taken in by a 150 year old strawman argument.

    17 –> What Darwinists and their fellow traveller abiogenesis thinkers need to account for — with observaitonal evidence in direct support — is the spontaneous origin of a metabolising, self replicating automaton from pond chemistry or the like, requiring about 100,000 bits of stored digitally coded algorithmic information.

    18 –> Then, they need to explain — with direct empirical support too — the further origin of dozens of body plans credibly requiring 10 – 100 mn bits each of additional FSCI, without intelligence.

    19 –> This has not even begun, apart form the a priori imposition of materialism as highlighted above.

    20 –> in short, the darwinist case and the abiogensis cases collapse for want of evidence and analysis that would make them credible, absent question-begging.

    21 –> Wallace’s intelligent evolution is still on the table as a contender, but the sort of evolution that dominates the institutions is ideology hiding in a lab coat.

    22 –> That is why Philip Johnson was right to rebut Lewontin as follows:

    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.]

    And no tu quoque tactics are going to change that.

    GEM of TKI

  68. PS: Those trying the God as moral monster tactic above first need to justify any claim to right and wrong that rises above emotional manipulation. Then, when they bridge the is-ought gap on their own worldview, they will have a right to talk in terms of good and evil. Then, they may go to where Bible difficulties may be discussed with profit for those who are not simply playing atmosphere poisoning games. [Try here and here for a start.]

  69. Elizabeth, you’re a strange bird indeed. One really has to wonder to what extent you should be taken seriously, if at all.

    If such an experiment had come out positive, it would not, in any case, have convinced me of “the supernatural”. I don’t even know what the word is supposed to mean. HERE

    And then a brief time later:

    But it has to rule out the supernatural simply by definition – natural is what can be explained by science – supernatural is what can’t. HERE

    Did you, in the intervening 10 minutes, decide you know what “the word” means?

    How do you explain how at one moment you can say you don’t know what a word means, and then just a few minutes later you suddenly do know what the word means?

    What happened in those few brief minutes?

  70. 70
    Elizabeth Liddle

    EL, in terms of intellectual commitments I was thinking along the lines of the first principles of reason. You have elucidated a fine list of moral or ethical commitments (I do wonder why you bother given your apparent belief system – it seems inconsistent to me – but that’s also for another time) but I am more interested in the rational commitments we make or fail to make.

    Fair enough (and another time we can discuss your wonderings – it’s an important issue!)

    As you can probably tell I am not a professional or even semi-pro philosopher but I think I have some grasp of the logic of thought and the logic of implication. My intellectual commitments terminate in first principles. Principles of reason that cannot be denied.

    Well, nor me. But I do value logic, so let’s give it a go:

    Let me try them out on you.

    1. Being. Things exist. I exist. I can’t deny my existence without confirming my existence.

    2. Identity. Things are what they are. Everything that exists or can be imagined to exist has an identity. It’s inconceivable that we could talk about something without identifying it in some way. Even something that does not exist has an identity. It is no thing, or nothing.

    3. Non-contradiction. In ontology, something cannot exist and not exist at the same time. In epistemology, a truth claim cannot be true and not true (false).

    4. Excluded middle. In ontology, something either exists or it does not. There is no middle ground. In epistemology, a truth claim is either true or false. There is no middle ground.

    5. Causality. In a finite universe, which this is, every event that occurs is finite and has a sufficient cause. All finite things have a sufficient cause. This includes the universe. Things don’t “just happen.” Even were a miracle to occur, it would have to be attributed to Someone. God, probably. Until campaign season gets going in earnest, at least.

    Several things follow from these principles.

    1. Error exists. If that truth claim is true then error exists. If it is not true then it commits an error. In either case, error exists.

    2. Truth exists. If that truth claim is true then truth exists and if it is false then truth exists (that it is false).

    3. All thought is made possible by reason and language which requires the free and purposeful manipulation of symbols, according to general (reason) and specific (language) rules. Try to think without using a language or the law of identity. It’s impossible.

    4. There is a way that things are. (First principle of ontology.) To deny this is to assert it.

    5. Reason is the sovereign, or ultimate authority in matters of truth. (First principle of epistemology.) One cannot argue against this without affirming it.

    6. Truth claims are true if they correspond to the way things are. All theories of truth are ultimately correspondence theories as they purport to describe the way that things are. Thus, correspondence is not a theory of truth, it is a definition of truth.

    And one of my favorite statements that summarizes much of this from StephenB: “Evidence doesn’t inform reason’s rules. Reason’s rules inform evidence.”

    OK,that’s quite a plateful! I’ll just comment on the last statement for now: My own position would be something like: “We do not have direct access to reality; all we have are models. We test how close our models fit reality by how well they fit our data; when we have a model that fits our data, we then test our fitted model on new data. This is an iterative process that never yields an error-free model, but gets us incrementally closer to reality. We regard the data that fits our models well as evidence for our models, and data that is discrepant evidence against our models. We evaluate the fit of our data to our models using reason – often math. Lastly, no data is raw – data at one level is a model at a lower level. Even the rawest data is not reality but a model.”

    I just wrote that off the top of my head so bear in mind that an edit might be warranted!

    Given Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty we know, we know, that 100% knowledge of the physical world is impossible to achieve. Therefore, it follows, that all “scientific” conclusions are probable and tentative. We also know that reason can produce necessarily true conclusions. (if 3 is less than 5 and 1 is less than 3 then 1 is less than 5.) So we ignore the principles of reason at our peril. I’m concerned never to violate these principles because I also think that knowing what is true serves my best interests. Believing BS never got me anywhere.

    Aha! We agree! Yes, all models are tentative! Cool. But that doesn’t mean there is no underlying reality, just that we approach it asymptotically.

    Given these fundamental commitments, there are undeniable arguments for the existence of God. That is, as long as one “obeys” the logic. I’ll stop here. I’m sure you have found something to disagree with so far and maybe even something to agree with.

    Well, certainly one agreement, so that is cool! But yes indeed, a disagreement – I don’t get it that this is an argument for the existence of something I’d want to call God. It might be an argument that there is something about the world that is not just practically unknowable but essentially unknowable. I’m cool with that.

    The question is: why call that something “God”? And, more to the point, why identify it with goodness and/or morality?

    I do have a couple of issues with your set of principles, but let me think about it before I respond.

    Thanks!

    Lizzie

  71. 71
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung:

    Yes, you can take me seriously. But it’s probably a good idea to regard my less emphatic statements as trumping the more emphatic ones! I’m pretty consistent about what I think (I think) but perhaps not always in how I express it. Also, it has to be said, careless.

    So: keep holding my toes to the fire!

    Elizabeth, you’re a strange bird indeed. One really has to wonder to what extent you should be taken seriously, if at all.

    If such an experiment had come out positive, it would not, in any case, have convinced me of “the supernatural”. I don’t even know what the word is supposed to mean.

    I mean: what people mean by “supernatural” in this context. How could something by “evidence for the supernatural”? If there’s evidence for it, doesn’t that mean it’s natural? Or does supernatural just mean “something spooky”?

    And then a brief time later:

    But it has to rule out the supernatural simply by definition – natural is what can be explained by science – supernatural is what can’t. HERE

    Did you, in the intervening 10 minutes, decide you know what “the word” means?

    No. On the second occasion I simply took the word as its common or garden face value – something “super” to the “natural” world accessible to “methodological naturalism” aka science.

    So, tbh, the two examples aren’t that contradictory – in the first instance I was saying I didn’t know what people meant by it (“what the word is supposed to mean”) and in the second I was treating it in what seems to me to the straightforward sense.

    What do you mean by the word, Mung?

    How do you explain how at one moment you can say you don’t know what a word means, and then just a few minutes later you suddenly do know what the word means?

    What happened in those few brief minutes?

    A shift in stance from “what does the person I’m responding to mean by evidence for things beyond natural” and “how do I use this word”.

    But, good catch, anyway :)

  72. EL @ 55 “Of course science can investigate design! We do it all the time! Ask any forensic scientist! Ask me! I’m really interested in how design works, how intention works, how decision-making works, how creativity works. It’s my field!”

    I have fallen through a worm hole into an alternate universe. I’m arguing with a naturalist who says that design exists in nature, can be detected in nature, and can even be studied as a scientific discipline, BUT, she thinks intelligent design is nonsense. I have to be missing something here. This is just TFF. Mung, I am beginning to sympathize more and more…

  73. tgpeeler, LOL, welcome to the ever flexible world of ‘science by Elizabeth’! where the only rules that matter are the ones she decides that matter whenever she wants or needs them to matter!!! :)

    Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me With Science – music video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IlHgbOWj4o

  74. Doveton @ 57 “I’m confused by this, Tgpeeler. Are you saying that Dawkin’s insists design is outside of nature or are you insisting that?”

    I’m saying that Design is outside of nature and that design is inside of nature and that the little d design is grounded in the capital D design.

    The naturalist/materialist/physicalist (NMP) denies the existence of Design outside of nature and also denies the existence of real design in nature. Thus the linguistic and logical butchery of the language – apparent design, indeed.

    Let me quote Dawkins just to give you proof that I’m not making this up.

    “The complexity of living organisms is matched by the elegant efficiency of their apparent design.” From the preface to “The Blind Watchmaker.”

    So if there is no “real” design how does he know that the apparent design is not real?

    Or this from page 5 of the same book.

    “All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way.”

    All appearances to the contrary? Um, what do scientists usually call “appearances?” Oh yeah, I remember now. They call them DATA.

    From “Philosophic Inquiry” page 388.
    “Materialism is the naturalistic metaphysics that regards nature as consisting of matter in motion. Whatever is apparently not matter in motion is to be regarded as “mere appearances” of what is matter in motion. All explanation, therefore, in philosophy as well as in science, is to be phrased in terms of the laws now known or yet to be discovered concerning the relationships among the different kinds of matter and the laws of their motion with respect to each other.”

    I hope this helps you understand my position.

  75. Mung @ 69:Elizabeth, you’re a strange bird indeed. One really has to wonder to what extent you should be taken seriously, if at all.

    Mung, you’re much to nice. The answer is “no” … and I figured it out a long time ago.

  76. So if there is no “real” design how does he know that the apparent design is not real?

    One of my favorite questions.

    How does he know whether something has the appearance of design without having a scientific way to tell whether something really is designed?

    If ID is not science, neither is “the appearance of design.”

    And when people claim evolution, or random mutation and natural selection, can create things that have every appearance of being designed, one has to wonder what they are basing that claim on. Personal opinion? Subjective comparisons? Show us the science.

    And then when you ask for proof, they invariably appeal to a designed computer program. One designed for a purpose. Pathetic.

  77. Mung, you’re much to nice. The answer is “no” … and I figured it out a long time ago.

    Yeah, I know you did. And of course I agree.

    I really do think her true calling is writing children’s fiction.

  78. But even children prefer that their fiction make sense, even if only on its own terms.

  79. 79
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Guys, scoffing will get you nowhere. If you have a rebuttal make it.

    Put up or shut up.

    tgpeeler:

    I have fallen through a worm hole into an alternate universe. I’m arguing with a naturalist who says that design exists in nature, can be detected in nature, and can even be studied as a scientific discipline, BUT, she thinks intelligent design is nonsense. I have to be missing something here. This is just TFF. Mung, I am beginning to sympathize more and more…

    Don’t worry tgpeeler, you’ll find things make a lot more sense this side of the wormhole.

    Yes, of course design can be investigated by science, and detected (ask any forensic scientist) and its mechanisms delineated.

    And no, I don’t think “Intelligent Design” is nonsense as hypothesis about the origins of life on earth. What I do think is that it is an unsupported hypothesis, and that the arguments called in aid of it are flawed.

    There is a world of a difference between saying that something can be studied as a scientific discipline (it can) and saying that it is the best hypothesis to explain a particular phenomenon.

    Glad to have been able to help.

    Mung: you can do better than this:

    One of my favorite questions.

    How does he know whether something has the appearance of design without having a scientific way to tell whether something really is designed?

    If ID is not science, neither is “the appearance of design.”

    And when people claim evolution, or random mutation and natural selection, can create things that have every appearance of being designed, one has to wonder what they are basing that claim on. Personal opinion? Subjective comparisons? Show us the science.

    And then when you ask for proof, they invariably appeal to a designed computer program. One designed for a purpose. Pathetic.

    1: dead easy: it has components that serve some function in the way that components of things known to be designed serve some function intended by the designer.

    2: ID is potentially science. That doesn’t mean that the science done by ID proponents is good science. My view is that it is flawed science. Nonetheless, some of it is interesting.

    3: teleonomy

    4: You’ve had this explained to you over and over: a program that incorporates virtual organisms is designed; the virtual organisms evolve into something that is not designed, in the sense that the form they eventually take was not envisaged by the designer of the program, and may even deeply surprise her.

    ba77

    tgpeeler, LOL, welcome to the ever flexible world of ‘science by Elizabeth’! where the only rules that matter are the ones she decides that matter whenever she wants or needs them to matter!!!

    Absolute tosh.

    g’night guys.

  80. “But what seems obvious sometimes turns out not to be the case. It seemed obvious that solid things were made of solid stuff all through until we discovered that atoms were mostly empty space.”

    But the chair you’re sitting on as you type this post is “solid” enough to hold you, isn’t it?

    True, appearances can sometimes be deceiving. However, we should not simply check our common sense at the door when doing any type of scientific investigation.

    A book requires an author. DNA, which contains enough information to fill volumes of books in libraries, does not require an author? Really?

    “It seemed obvious that two moving objects each moving towards each other at a speed of X would have speed relative to each other of 2X, until Einstein showed that this was not the case.”

    Einstein’s theories have nothing to do with evolution. Non sequitur.

    “And to many of us, it turns out to be the case that living things, which seem as though they must have been designed by an intentional designer, could equally – and indeed more plausibly, given that we have no independent evidence for such a designer, nor for any mechanism by which such a designer could implement his/her designs – by brought about by a quasi-design process known as self-replication with modification and heritable differential reproduction.”

    We have no independent evidence? Really? A simple arrowhead requires a maker. A more complicated nuclear weapon obviously requires a maker. But the person making the arrowhead or the nuclear weapon, possessed of intelligence and reasoning, came about by random mutations and natural selection. Sir Isaac Newton, arguably one of (if not the) greatest scientists of all time stated that the human thumb was proof of God’s existence.

  81. 81
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Barb: I would say: yes, DNA requires an author – so what properties must that author have?

    Well, what does an author need: a lexicon, and the ability to select items from the lexicon that suit her purpose.

    So here are three things we need (at least)

    1: a lexicon – a variety of possible sequences
    2: The ability to select
    3: A purpose to guide the selection.

    I suggest that:

    1: is provided by mutations
    2: is provided by differential heritable reproduction aka “natural selection”
    3: is the intrinsic “teleonomic” purpose of perpetuating the pattern, either through maintenance or replication.

    So we have a candidate author :)

  82. So we have a candidate author.

    Sounds more like appealing a book that writes itself by reading from it’s own instructions on how to write to explain the book of instructions on writing.

  83. EL @ 70 “We do not have direct access to reality; all we have are models.”

    Um, how do you know that? What are the models of, then? How do you model something to which you have no direct access?

  84. EL “Don’t worry tgpeeler, you’ll find things make a lot more sense this side of the wormhole.”

    Hardly, on your side of the wormhole first principles change to meet the needs of the moment.

  85. Elizabeth,

    Well, what does an author need: a lexicon, and the ability to select items from the lexicon that suit her purpose.

    An author also needs a plot and characters, or a writing prompt. It could be an experience he/she had, a friend’s experience, or something he/she read about and wanted to write.

    So here are three things we need (at least)

    1: a lexicon – a variety of possible sequences
    2: The ability to select
    3: A purpose to guide the selection.

    Natural selection is, by definition, blind. So where does its purpose come from?

    A thousand monkeys banging away at typewriters will probably never write a Shakespearean sonnet or even a complete sentence.

    Humans have a level of intelligence far higher than animals and can comprehend what they want to write, how they want to write it, and when and where they will write it. Natural selection does not explicitly have a purpose.

    I suggest that:

    1: is provided by mutations

    Mutations, though cause more harm than good. There are many scientific articles on this point, and no doubt you’ve read quite a few. Mutations also do not provide a purpose nor do they show explicitly a species changing (from reptile to bird, for example) that would allow for the variety of life we see today.

    2: is provided by differential heritable reproduction aka “natural selection”

    Which, as already noted, is blind and purposeless.

    3: is the intrinsic “teleonomic” purpose of perpetuating the pattern, either through maintenance or replication

    Equating reproduction (which is a primitive instinct) to the intelligence needed to plan and write a book is a non sequitur.

  86. Whoa! Lots of activity here – not to mention engaged reponse on all sides…(Thanks to anyone thoughtfully commenting on my bits..I’ve received both encouragement and challenges toward sharper thinking.)

  87. 87
    Elizabeth Liddle

    tgpeeler:

    EL @ 70 “We do not have direct access to reality; all we have are models.”

    Um, how do you know that?

    Know that we don’t have direct access to reality? Well, studies of perceptual systems – the systems by which we understand the world from the incoming data we receive through our sense and proprioceptive organs – strongly suggest that the brain makes predictions about what sensory information we will receive next, based on what is usually called a “forward model” and then updates this model in the light of new sensory data. This is very well documented in the visual domain, but in other sensory domains as well.

    What are the models of, then?

    The world – reality.

    How do you model something to which you have no direct access?

    You fit them to existing data, then use the model to predict new data.

    EL “Don’t worry tgpeeler, you’ll find things make a lot more sense this side of the wormhole.”

    Hardly, on your side of the wormhole first principles change to meet the needs of the moment.

    No, they don’t. I’ve given you several examples now of contexts in which science regularly engages with the hypothesis of design and intention – forensic science, archaeology, psychology, neuroscience. It is not true design is outside the domain of science.

    I’ve also told you that I think that design is a perfectly reasonable hypothesis for living things, as long as we can derive testable differential predictions for it. This has been done (by Dembski, for instance). The problem, as I see it, is not that Dembski isn’t doing science (he is) but that he has failed to operationalise his hypothesis correctly. Specifically, he has failed to correctly specify his null. His design inference, is therefore, in my opinion, unwarranted.

  88. That’s a good point, Doveton, but I think the distinction is more apparent than real.

    Oh, I completely agree. I was just trying to express what I think I understand his and similar folks’ perspective on the subject to be.

    I’ve never actually understood the perspective very well. I get that they “feel” fulfilled by their belief in God and the perspective that the world and universe hold a special purpose and meaning for them set forth by God. But I don’t understand how they can then conclude that those who don’t believe in God (and thus don’t feel that special fulfillment from the implication of God’s purpose and meaning in all things) must be miserable folks who don’t feel anything. Three possibilities come to mind:

    1) They are taught to believe such in the face of contrary evidence.

    2) Perceiving non-believers that way helps make the belief in God all that much more fulfilling and important.

    3) They feel that they themselves would be miserable without God and His Plan and that life would have no meaning or purpose and thus they project that perception onto others.

    None of those are mutually exclusive. Most interesting to me is the last perspective. Assuming it is valid and that there are folks who think this way (and I’m aware of a few who do) I’m surprised they don’t appreciate the Anti Addiction Ignorance Codicil which states that one cannot become addicted to that which one is not aware. In other words, those who have never had ice cream will never crave it and never know what they are missing.

  89. 89
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Barb – thanks for your response:

    Elizabeth,
    Well, what does an author need: a lexicon, and the ability to select items from the lexicon that suit her purpose.
    An author also needs a plot and characters, or a writing prompt. It could be an experience he/she had, a friend’s experience, or something he/she read about and wanted to write.
    So here are three things we need (at least)
    1: a lexicon – a variety of possible sequences
    2: The ability to select
    3: A purpose to guide the selection.

    Natural selection is, by definition, blind. So where does its purpose come from?
    A thousand monkeys banging away at typewriters will probably never write a Shakespearean sonnet or even a complete sentence.
    Humans have a level of intelligence far higher than animals and can comprehend what they want to write, how they want to write it, and when and where they will write it. Natural selection does not explicitly have a purpose.

    No, and I didn’t say that it did. My answer, to my number 3 was; teleonomy – by which I mean the intrinsic function an entity may have in maintaining the persistence, over time, of the whole of which it forms a part.

    I suggest that:
    1: is provided by mutations

    Mutations, though cause more harm than good. There are many scientific articles on this point, and no doubt you’ve read quite a few. Mutations also do not provide a purpose nor do they show explicitly a species changing (from reptile to bird, for example) that would allow for the variety of life we see today.

    Four points:
    First : in a well-adapted population, more mutations will be deleterious than beneficial. This proportion will change if the environment changes until a new optimum is reached. This is what adaptation is.

    Second: deleterious mutations tend not to propagate through the population – near neutral mutations form a population pool that facilitates adaptation if the environment changes –at which point, what was slightly deleterious may become beneficial, and vice versa.

    Third: No, mutations do not provide a purpose.

    Fourth: reptile-to-bird is not a species change. All birds (aves) are members of the clade Reptilia. Speciation occurs when a single population divides into two subpopulations occupying different environments, and each subpopulation adapts to its own environment independently. This process will include selection of the best performing mutations (alleles) in the new environment, and may even eventually involve new genes.

    <2: is provided by differential heritable reproduction aka “natural selection”

    Which, as already noted, is blind and purposeless.

    Yes. But it is, nonetheless, “selection.

    <3: is the intrinsic “teleonomic” purpose of perpetuating the pattern, either through maintenance or replication

    Equating reproduction (which is a primitive instinct) to the intelligence needed to plan and write a book is a non sequitur.

    No, that’s not what I mean. Let me clarify: I mean that it is possible to consider the function of an entity (of a protein for instance) as being an intrinsic property deriving from its role in promoting the persistence – maintaining – the whole of which it forms a part, rather than being something that necessarily requires assignment by an external purposeful agent (using a rock as a seat, for instance, or whittling a stick to catch ants). This kind of intrinsic purpose, or function, is called teleonomic function, to distinguish it from the kind of intentional purposefulness we ascribe to beings like ourselves when we design functional tools to serve our own needs (not the needs of the tools!)

  90. Elizabeth Liddle,

    And indeed, I would say that by definition, that most atheists would be in rough shape philosophically if naturalism were shown to be false, but then I find that rather question begging anyway.

    Well, there is that :) I don’t know, though. I guess if an Michelangelo God-The-Father figure were to appear in the sky and announce that time was up, and we’d better abandon our erroneous Darwinian ways sharpish, yes, I’d be pretty disappointed!

    Indeed, if the God painted in most of the bible turned out to be unambiguously real, I’d be pretty horrified. I’d believe in him, I guess, but I wouldn’t worship him.

    While I completely agree (and this is one reason why I dismissed Christianity some years ago), this is a tangent to what I was getting at.

    My point was that in a more general sense, I think that atheism is tied to naturalism. That is to say that if there was some concrete objective way of establishing that there was something – anything – beyond the natural, the atheist would be in a conundrum. Why? Because regardless of how one defines atheist – someone who denies outright that there is a God or gods given the evidence, or someone who does not believe in a God or gods due to lack of evidence – atheism comes down to a perspective based upon the perception of reality that includes objective evidence. If that reality were shown to have layers beyond those that could readily be perceived via the senses, either directly or indirectly as a result of the effect of phenomena, such would (I would think) create a condition where in the atheist could no longer comfortably hold that a God or gods could not exist.

    However, the problem with this conceptual exercise is that it begs the question – it assumes as a premise that some non-natural thing could be detected without being perceived (huh?) and then concludes that such would then imply the actuality of the supernatural, which is really the premise all along.

  91. Tgpeeler,

    I’m saying that Design is outside of nature and that design is inside of nature and that the little d design is grounded in the capital D design.

    The naturalist/materialist/physicalist (NMP) denies the existence of Design outside of nature and also denies the existence of real design in nature. Thus the linguistic and logical butchery of the language – apparent design, indeed.

    It seems to be rather straight forward to me. Design (little d) is something assumed to exist because some natural things appear to resemble (to some loose extent) things designed by humans that we are all familiar with and understand. Design (Big D) seems to be synonymous with Magic (or maybe Majik if that’s your thing) and is thus some property of the supernatural. The former, “design” could potentially be investigated as a quality of natural products by science if a proper hypothesis was proposed for the objective repeatable, consistent, and predictable effect such a characteristic might exhibit. The later, “Design” strikes me as completely beyond science’s ability to investigate.

    Let me quote Dawkins just to give you proof that I’m not making this up.

    “The complexity of living organisms is matched by the elegant efficiency of their apparent design.” From the preface to “The Blind Watchmaker.”

    So if there is no “real” design how does he know that the apparent design is not real?

    I believe Dawkins was merely using the term design to me “form” or “appearance”. It’s quite clear he doesn’t believe organisms are literally designed.

    Or this from page 5 of the same book.

    “All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way.”

    All appearances to the contrary? Um, what do scientists usually call “appearances?” Oh yeah, I remember now. They call them DATA.

    Dawkins is saying what he means – complex things may well “appear” to be designed when just looked at, but if we dig deeper (e.g., look at the actual evidence) they are just products of natural processes.

    From “Philosophic Inquiry” page 388.
    “Materialism is the naturalistic metaphysics that regards nature as consisting of matter in motion. Whatever is apparently not matter in motion is to be regarded as “mere appearances” of what is matter in motion. All explanation, therefore, in philosophy as well as in science, is to be phrased in terms of the laws now known or yet to be discovered concerning the relationships among the different kinds of matter and the laws of their motion with respect to each other.”

    I hope this helps you understand my position.

    Yes it does. Thank you.

  92. Chris (comment #8),

    Absolutely. Macroevolution is a religion. No argumentation matters regardless of how sound or obvious it is. The answer is, there always is a theoretical possibility for preadaptation :) Evolutionists will always believe in 10^-140 probability and deceive themselves. Astonishing. Away with common sense :)

  93. Elizabeth,

    What I mean by it is: we have no evidence”.

    Could I ask you two questions:

    1. who are we?
    2. what is evidence?

    To me, substantial evidence of your existence is given by the comments you are typing in and living at this website. They are intelligent enough to me and I can reliably tell them from something like that:

    877675577heudg¬¬¬%%%dflwjhdfo23rufofy4fioghdcdcbvbvbvbvvbrfgryffi9rgfi91ftpftrfttf.

    I am beginning to lose hope in conversations like that :( I am beginning to think that there is no intention to hear the opponent’s opinion. And this is where science ceases to exist, to me.

  94. 94
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Eugene S

    Absolutely. Macroevolution is a religion. No argumentation matters regardless of how sound or obvious it is. The answer is, there always is a theoretical possibility for preadaptation :)

    Could perhaps give an example of a sound argumentation and the kind of answer you receive?

    Evolutionists will always believe in 10^-140 probability :)

    No, I don’t think so. “Evolutionists” are far more likely to dispute the probability calculation than argue that something of such low probability might have happened.

    I’m pretty sure you’ve misunderstood something here. Again could you give an example?

    Thanks.

  95. 95
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Eugene S

    Could I ask you two questions:

    1. who are we?
    2. what is evidence?

    To me, substantial evidence of your existence is given by the comments you are typing in and living at this website. They are intelligent enough to me and I can reliably tell them from something like that:

    877675577heudg¬¬¬%%%dflwjhdfo23rufofy4fioghdcdcbvbvbvbvvbrfgryffi9rgfi91ftpftrfttf.

    Let me respond anyway, in reverse order.

    Yes. I would agree that you have pretty good evidence of your existence and you have pretty good evidence of mine.

    And I’d say that evidence is data that supports (or infirms) a hypothesis. If your hypothesis is that my posts are typed by a human being called Elizabeth Liddle, you can make certain predictions arising from that hypothesis and test them against data. If the predictions tend to support your hypothesis then you can consider your hypothesis good to go. At least until you get strong infirming evidence (that I am really Richard Dawkins, perhaps).

    That answers your second question.

    Not only that, but you can also infer that I am an English-speaking [moderately] intelligent human being, capable of encoding ideas in English sentences that can be decoded by an English speaker who reads them. Were I to consistently post posts like your example, you might infer that the author of my posts was not a human being, but that I’d left a reply window open and my cat had gone to sleep on my keyboard.

    So that answers your first question.

    I hope anyway.

    I am beginning to lose hope in conversations like that :( I am beginning to think that there is no intention to hear the opponent’s opinion. And this is where science ceases to exist, to me.

    Oh, chin up, it’s not that bad :)

    Yes, it’s frustrating when one feels unheard, but I’ll try to listen. I’d really like to hear your answers to my questions above anyway :)

  96. Doveton @ 91 “The later, “Design” strikes me as completely beyond science’s ability to investigate.”

    Of course it is. It’s true by definition. Just don’t go claiming, and I don’t know that you do, but Dawkins does, that science investigates everything that there is to be investigated. Here’s how that argument typically goes. Science is great at explaining the natural/material/physical (take your pick) world SO that’s all there is!!! It does not follow. Not by a long shot.

    Regarding the apparent design… The point, which may not be as obvious as I think it is, is that for there to be “fake design” there has to be “real design.” And that’s a PROBLEM for someone who claims there is no such thing as real design. Dawkins is a moron. I’ve read almost every word he’s ever written and ten people could take a career untangling the lies he routinely spews.

  97. Doveton @ 91 “Dawkins is saying what he means – complex things may well “appear” to be designed when just looked at, but if we dig deeper (e.g., look at the actual evidence) they are just products of natural processes.”

    I am sure Dawkins is saying what he means. What I am saying is that what Dawkins is saying is false.

  98. tgpeeler,

    Doveton @ 91 “The later, “Design” strikes me as completely beyond science’s ability to investigate.”

    Of course it is. It’s true by definition. Just don’t go claiming, and I don’t know that you do, but Dawkins does, that science investigates everything that there is to be investigated. Here’s how that argument typically goes. Science is great at explaining the natural/material/physical (take your pick) world SO that’s all there is!!! It does not follow. Not by a long shot.

    A couple things to consider:

    1) How is something like Design (Big D) that is, as you say, “outside nature”, true by definition?

    2) If Design (Big D) is true by definition as you claim, then what is there for science to discover about it?

    3) If there is nothing for science to discover about Design (Big D), in what way would you suggest science investigate it and further, what would you expect science to be able to explain about it?

    Am truly at a loss concerning your complaint since it appears that you agree science can’t investigate this “Design” and agree that science can only explain what it can investigate. What else would you suggest?

    Regarding the apparent design… The point, which may not be as obvious as I think it is, is that for there to be “fake design” there has to be “real design.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “fake design”. Apparent design is not fake; it is a characteristic resemblance some object has to a known designed object.

    And that’s a PROBLEM for someone who claims there is no such thing as real design. Dawkins is a moron. I’ve read almost every word he’s ever written and ten people could take a career untangling the lies he routinely spews.

    Well, since I’m not sure what you actually mean by “fake design”, I’ll hold off on agreeing or disagreeing until I do.

  99. tgpeeler,

    I am sure Dawkins is saying what he means. What I am saying is that what Dawkins is saying is false.

    Ahh…ok. I just got the impression from your post that you were not sure what Dawkins was getting at.

    Given my previous comment, I hope you will elaborate on what you think Dawkins is wrong about. Thanks!

  100. Elizabeth Liddle:

    My answer, to my number 3 was; teleonomy – by which I mean the intrinsic function an entity may have in maintaining the persistence, over time, of the whole of which it forms a part.

    Look up the terms teleology and teleological. Seriously.

  101. 101

    Hello again, Lizzie.

    In response to your post, 56, on this thread. First of all, did you ever see this post on another thread?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-387290

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t, given the sheer volume of posts addressed to you. In it, I made some observations about atheistic claims to meaning and morality, that also shed light on things we’ve touched on in this thread, that you have not yet responded to.

    A couple of things you should know about me. First, I’m not any sort of Christian. Second, my partner (also my daughters’ mother) is an atheist. Perspective: it’s a wonderful thing! Now then, when you tell me you have a sense of meaning and morality in your life, I don’t doubt your sincerity. However, I have absolutely no doubt that you are borrowing all sense of meaning and morality from religion. You’ve spent most of your life believing in a religion and you were brought up surrounded by religious influence: parents, teachers and other influential institutions. My partner is the same (though, she was brought up as an atheist because her father – an excellent man who I value highly – is an atheist too). Many atheists get by, entirely irrationally, because they don’t question why it is that they are borrowing morality and meaning from religion. That is why many atheists will be rewarded in the afterlife. Furthermore, being religious does not mean that we can start looking forward to rewards in the afterlife too. In fact, those of us who are religious, particularly the ones who have learned a bit about the subject, are in for an even tougher test. And many of us will fail and there will be rather unpleasant consequences in the afterlife.

    But many atheists, thanks to the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, Myers and Dennett, truly do not believe in any meaning or purpose to existence. And morality is only something they do when they want to do it, not when they don’t want to do it. I have met them face to face and conversed with them online. Most of them are basically depressed. And then you have the atheists who haven’t given much thought to the matter. They just believe that this life is all you get and that you really can get away with murder: and should do so when it suits! They don’t really care about the difference between right and wrong. They are just very, very selfish. And, in the absence of life’s comforts, such people can be very, very dangerous.

    If the theory of evolution was universally thrown out and replaced by Intelligent Design theory then, soon after, most of the various atheists referred to above, even the indifferent ones, would be forced to reassess their worldview because whether or not it is based on a lack of belief in the Creator or a belief that there is no Creator, their worldview affects all of their values and objectives. But most atheists do not want to do that and so, while they can resist, with prejudice, the scientific evidence that undermines their worldview, they will. Seriously Lizzie, are you deep-down honestly only resisting ID theory for purely scientific reasons? If so, what do you really think is causing the huge chasm between your interpretation of the scientific facts and our interpretation of them?

  102. 102
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Hi Chris!

    Hello again, Lizzie.
    In response to your post, 56, on this thread. First of all, did you ever see this post on another thread?
    http://www.uncommondescent.com…..ent-387290
    I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t, given the sheer volume of posts addressed to you. In it, I made some observations about atheistic claims to meaning and morality, that also shed light on things we’ve touched on in this thread, that you have not yet responded to.

    Sorry I did miss that one. I’m trying to get into the habit of bookmarking threads, but I lost track of that one! Will try to get back to it.

    A couple of things you should know about me. First, I’m not any sort of Christian. Second, my partner (also my daughters’ mother) is an atheist. Perspective: it’s a wonderful thing! Now then, when you tell me you have a sense of meaning and morality in your life, I don’t doubt your sincerity. However, I have absolutely no doubt that you are borrowing all sense of meaning and morality from religion. You’ve spent most of your life believing in a religion and you were brought up surrounded by religious influence: parents, teachers and other influential institutions. My partner is the same (though, she was brought up as an atheist because her father – an excellent man who I value highly – is an atheist too). Many atheists get by, entirely irrationally, because they don’t question why it is that they are borrowing morality and meaning from religion. That is why many atheists will be rewarded in the afterlife. Furthermore, being religious does not mean that we can start looking forward to rewards in the afterlife too. In fact, those of us who are religious, particularly the ones who have learned a bit about the subject, are in for an even tougher test. And many of us will fail and there will be rather unpleasant consequences in the afterlife.

    OK! Well, yours are a long way from my own views, or any that I have ever held, but I readily agree that I have borrowed morality from religion, partly from my own (Christianity – I remain a fan of Jesus!), but also from others. But I haven’t borrowed from them because they have “authority” – indeed I’ve cherry-picked shamelessly, guided by what I regard as both an innate sense of what is fair (which I once, and perhaps still do, call “that of God in every one” after George Fox, and which I think we derive from our evolutionary heritage, along with some less desirable characteristics, which I once would have called Original Sin), and fairly simple logic – if we all do what benefits everyone, everyone will benefit, including me. So I do think the claim that if we didn’t have divine ordained morality there would be no reason to behave is simply wrong. I don’t think there is any clear divine-ordained morality, as the very different ethical precepts associated with different religions, and the same religions at different times, would seem to show. Whereas most cultures have come up, independently, with the Golden Rule. So it seems likely to me that the Golden Rule the universal that what people tend to come up with, left to themselves, whereas the diversity of other ethical imperatives (don’t eat shrimp/pig/beef/meat on Fridays, have sex with the wrong people, at the wrong time, with the wrong orifices, show your hair, cut your beard, give blood, show your face etc) suggest much more local origins. So, contrary to what I often hear, I think that what I might call “natural ethics” is actually much more objective, and universal, than “religions ethics” which seem to give far more scope for subjective decisions or cultural mores to influence. In fact, I’d say that religion may well be more parasitical (at its best!) on “natural ethics” (Jesus’s version, or at least Matthew’s version of Jesus’s version of the Golden Rule is my favourite, but may originate with Rabbi Hillel) rather than the other way round.

    But many atheists, thanks to the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, Myers and Dennett, truly do not believe in any meaning or purpose to existence. And morality is only something they do when they want to do it, not when they don’t want to do it. I have met them face to face and conversed with them online. Most of them are basically depressed. And then you have the atheists who haven’t given much thought to the matter. They just believe that this life is all you get and that you really can get away with murder: and should do so when it suits! They don’t really care about the difference between right and wrong. They are just very, very selfish. And, in the absence of life’s comforts, such people can be very, very dangerous.

    Well, all I can say is that that’s not my impression. I mean I know that Hitchens and Myers can be very ascerbic, and Dawkins always strikes me as a bit of a knowall (which I find annoying because he is often importantly wrong), but I have a real soft spot for Dennett, who certainly believes that existence has meaning and existence, albeit one we make for ourselves. Indeed, that is my main counterpoint – that meaning doesn’t have be assigned to life from outside – we assign our own meanings to the world and to our lifes, and develop our own goals and principles and purposes. I think it’s amazing that we do this, and that awe I feel at the human capacity to rise above the self and see ourselves as part of a greater whole – humanity, earth, the universe – is what I recognise in myself as worship – literally (as I was always told): worthship. Yes, people can be very selfish, but I don’t find much correlation with religious belief, quite honestly. And I’ve found that those with the fewest of “life’s comforts” have often been the most generous. There’s a poem by Stevie Smith that I once set to music, I loved it so much:

    Man aspires
    To good,
    To love
    Sighs;

    Beaten, corrupted, dying
    In his own blood lying
    Yet heaves up an eye above
    Cries, Love, love.
    It is his virtue needs explaining,
    Not his failing.

    Away, melancholy,
    Away with it, let it go.

    http://www.artofeurope.com/smith/smi2.htm
    Read the whole thing. You may hate it, but it pretty well sums up my beliefs :)

    If the theory of evolution was universally thrown out and replaced by Intelligent Design theory then, soon after, most of the various atheists referred to above, even the indifferent ones, would be forced to reassess their worldview because whether or not it is based on a lack of belief in the Creator or a belief that there is no Creator, their worldview affects all of their values and objectives. But most atheists do not want to do that and so, while they can resist, with prejudice, the scientific evidence that undermines their worldview, they will. Seriously Lizzie, are you deep-down honestly only resisting ID theory for purely scientific reasons? If so, what do you really think is causing the huge chasm between your interpretation of the scientific facts and our interpretation of them?

    Well, you may be right about what would happen to atheism if that happened, I’m not sure, it’s hard for me to imagine. I don’t think it’s true, but I guess I don’t know. Tbh it’s pretty unknowable, because from my point of view it feels a bit like it would feel to you if I said, I dunno, that it became clear tomorrow that God was an actual physical entity, but that he was a huge tentacles beast called Cthulhu, who cared nothing for us, and actually ate babies for breakfast, that would presumably entail a huge reassessment of your world view – are you sure that this is not why you are resisting this theory?

    Well, that’s a silly example, but it’s hard to express, I guess, just how sure most of us are that Intelligent Design theory just doesn’t work, and that standard evolutionary theory essentially does! Yes, it would be a big cognitive shock to find that we were wrong, but the biggest shock, I suggest, would not finding that atheism was false (if indeed, the alternative theory entailed that hypothesis) but that a theory so beautiful could be wrong.

    Which brings me to your last points: Actually I have two reasons for “resisting ID theory”. One is straightforward and has two parts: I think that evolutionary theory makes good sense, and that the objections posed to it are partly objections to straw men, and partly simply flawed; the second part is that I find the ID argument (well, specifically Dembski’s argument) fundamentally flawed (statistically, apart from anything else, and there is else.).

    However, I will confess to another reason: I simply don’t think it makes sense theologically. That might sound odd from an atheist, but what I mean is that the God it would imply existed is not a God I would be inclined to worship, or even consider a god! It has always seemed to me that if there was a god-type answer to the question: why is there anything rather than nothing, then the God that would be the answer to that question could not be detectable within his/her own creation – if everything is held in being by God, why would God be more detectable in some bits of the world than of others? The charge is often made here about evolutionary theory (one that I think is false, in fact, but that’s bye the bye) that “a theory that explains everything explains nothing”. This is true. A theory that explains everything can explain nothing. Explanations work because they are specific – they take an “if…then” form. IF I let go the cannonball, THEN it will fall to earth; IF I increase the resistance in this circuit than THEN current will drop. But a theory that accounted for everything (“IF god, THEN everything) then the only think that the theory accounts for is the simple fact of existence. There is nothing it can explain within the world because everything within the world is explained by the theory. However, if we can detect an Intelligent Designer within the world, then it seems to me that that designer only accounts for part of the world, not all of it – that there are parts of the world s/he does not influence and parts s/he does. Worse, this designer is inferred to step in to give flagella to help bacteria kill hundreds of thousands of human children, yet cannot step in to give those children immunity to that bacteria. So, even if this Intelligent Designer could be shown to be real, I would not grant him/her divine status (i.e. I would have no grounds to extrapolate it to the Creator of All), and, more importantly, nor would I regard him/her as something to be admired, let alone worshipped. In fact, if Intelligent Design was shown to be true, I’d react rather as I would if someone told me that Cthulhu was real!

    OK, it’s getting late, and I’ve babbled enough for one night, and I still haven’t tackled your last and best question:

    If so, what do you really think is causing the huge chasm between your interpretation of the scientific facts and our interpretation of them

    Probably because I don’t know the answer! I’m interested in finding out though, which is why I’m enjoying being here (despite getting on people’s nerves). I do suspect that (as you do with regard to evolution) that fear has something to do with it – that Darwin’s Idea really was Dangerous – that it opens the door to atheism, and atheism is terrifying. But I’m sure that’s not the whole truth, and may even only be a small part of the truth, if a part at all. I have a better theory that has to do with Obviousness. When I was studying psychology, the lecturer once gave out a questionnaire with statements on it and we had to say whether we thought the answers were obviously true. At the end, he asked for a show of hands for those who had scored 80% or more of the statements as “obviously true”. The vast majority of the students raised their hands. Then he told us that half of the questionnaires had statements that were the opposite of the other half. But each had been supported by some kind of reasoning that suggested that the statement was just common sense.

    It was very salutary! It is easier than you think to be persuaded that an argument is “obviously true”. And once you are persuaded, it is much harder to be unpersuaded. Things that seem “obviously true” at one time seem to get stored in a way that gives them added tenacity when you are later faced with counter-reasoning. In fact, I think the old adage that “you can’t be reasoned out of a view you weren’t reasoned into” is actually false. I think it’s far harder to be reasoned out of a view you were reasoned into, because, after all, you have reason on your side!
    Now, I am aware that this argument cuts both ways, and it was intended to. I think that is a substantial cause for the chasm – both sides regard their view as “obviously” true, and tend to regard the other side as dishonest/obtuse/evasive/indoctrinated or whatever. And both sides do it! You’ve heard me rant about it here. The challenge then, is to find out where the really differences lie – to find the unchallenged assumptions that we each regard as “obvious” but which may not be as “obvious” as we have always thought.

    OK, enough! Time for bed!

    Nice, as ever, to talk to you :)

    Lizzie

  103. Elizabeth -

    “No, and I didn’t say that it did. My answer, to my number 3 was; teleonomy – by which I mean the intrinsic function an entity may have in maintaining the persistence, over time, of the whole of which it forms a part.”

    However, this answer doesn’t really make sense. The concept of ID may have extrascientific implications but, then again, so does Darwinian evolution. If something appears to have a purpose, then why deny that it has a purpose?

    “Four points:
    First : in a well-adapted population, more mutations will be deleterious than beneficial. This proportion will change if the environment changes until a new optimum is reached. This is what adaptation is.”

    However, the data gathered from some 100 years of mutation research in general and at least 70 years of mutation breeding have shown that mutations cannot transform a species into an entirely new one. The research coincides with the laws of probability. The law of recurrent variation states that genetically properly defined species have boundaries that cannot be abolished or transgressed by accidental mutations. I can remember seeing the ‘Drosophilia’ fruit flies illustrated in books. They were mutants, but none of the mutations were beneficial, and none of the mutations produced a new species.

    If highly trained scientists are unable to produce new species by arrtificially inducing and selecting favorable mutations, is it likely that an unintelligent, purposeless process would do a better job? Common sense tells us otherwise.

    “Second: deleterious mutations tend not to propagate through the population – near neutral mutations form a population pool that facilitates adaptation if the environment changes –at which point, what was slightly deleterious may become beneficial, and vice versa.”

    But mutation experiments repeatedly found that the number of new mutants steadily declined while the same type of mutants regularly appeared. And if the environment doesn’t change, as in a closed laboratory, the deleterious mutations prove nothing.

    “Third: No, mutations do not provide a purpose.”

    They’re almost an evolutionary dead end. They show deformities in plants and animals, but they provide no real evidence that these deformities could somehow be beneficial to the species, and they do not show how the species would evolve into a new species.

    “Fourth: reptile-to-bird is not a species change. All birds (aves) are members of the clade Reptilia. Speciation occurs when a single population divides into two subpopulations occupying different environments, and each subpopulation adapts to its own environment independently. This process will include selection of the best performing mutations (alleles) in the new environment, and may even eventually involve new genes.”

    According to Wikipedia, birds are classified as follows: Animalia (kingdom), Chordata (phylum), Availae (branch), and Aves (species). They are most assuredly not members of the clade Reptilia.

    Birds are, by definition: feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic, egg-laying vertebrate animals. Reptiles are scaled, cold-blooded animals. While both species lay eggs, only birds incubate theirs; birds have a brood spot on their breast (an area without feathers) that contains a network of blood vessels which gives warmth to the eggs.

    Birds’ feathers are another matter. Feather shafts contain rows of barbs which have barbules, which in turn have hundreds of barbicels and hooklets. Feathers are great insulators and airfoils. The differences between reptilian scales and bird feathers is pretty large. Also consider that bird bones are hollow and thin while reptilian bones are solid.

    A bird’s respiratory system differs from a reptile’s as well. Birds have a constant flow of fresh air going through the lungs during inhalation and exhalation, similar to water going through a sponge. The blood in the capillaries is flowing in the opposite direction, and this countercurrent of air and blood provides the bird with an ‘air-cooled engine’ allowing them to breathe thinner air at higher altitudes during migration.

    “Yes. But it is, nonetheless, “selection.”

    As I understand it, natural selection favors the life-forms best suited to the environment and, as species spread and became isolated, natural selection chose those whose gene mutations made them most fit for their new environment. These isolated groups would eventually develop into new species.

    As previously noted, decades of research into mutations has not proven that they are capable of changing a species into another species. Natural selection might be helping species to adapt to the changing demands of existence, but it’s not creating anything new. Researchers studying the famous Darwin finches on the Galapagos islands noted as much. They’re still finches. They might be different breeds of finches but they are all finches, and there is absolutely no evidence that they are anywhere close to becoming anything else.

    In fact, Peter Grant and graduate student Lisle Gibbes wrote in 1987 in ‘Nature’ that they had seen a reversal in the direction of selection. They also noted interbreeding between species, which they believed might cause a fusion of two of the species into just one. The fact that the finches are interbreeding casts doubt on the methods used to define ‘species’ and also exposes the fact that some prestigious scientific academies aren’t above reporting evidence in a biased manner.

    ‘No, that’s not what I mean. Let me clarify: I mean that it is possible to consider the function of an entity (of a protein for instance) as being an intrinsic property deriving from its role in promoting the persistence – maintaining – the whole of which it forms a part, rather than being something that necessarily requires assignment by an external purposeful agent (using a rock as a seat, for instance, or whittling a stick to catch ants). This kind of intrinsic purpose, or function, is called teleonomic function, to distinguish it from the kind of intentional purposefulness we ascribe to beings like ourselves when we design functional tools to serve our own needs (not the needs of the tools!)”

    This resembles, I think, an instance of ‘not seeing the forest for the trees.’ The evolution of the genetic machinery (amino acids to proteins to cells) is rife with speculation. Without the genetic code in place to begin reproduction, there can be no material for natural selection to select! This is what Dr. Behe was trying to get across in his 1996 book, “Darwin’s Black Box”. There is nothing in the scientific literature (either an experimental attempt or a detailed model) that explains how the cell ‘evolved’ bit by bit. In biology, certain things apparently do occur by chance, but this does not mean that the complex molecular machinery in cells and inherent in all life arose by change; that argument simply isn’t logical.

  104. 104
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Barb:

    However, this answer doesn’t really make sense. The concept of ID may have extrascientific implications but, then again, so does Darwinian evolution. If something appears to have a purpose, then why deny that it has a purpose?

    I’m not. I’m saying that something can have an intrinsic function- that function doesn’t have to assigned from without.

    However, the data gathered from some 100 years of mutation research in general and at least 70 years of mutation breeding have shown that mutations cannot transform a species into an entirely new one. The research coincides with the laws of probability. The law of recurrent variation states that genetically properly defined species have boundaries that cannot be abolished or transgressed by accidental mutations. I can remember seeing the ‘Drosophilia’ fruit flies illustrated in books. They were mutants, but none of the mutations were beneficial, and none of the mutations produced a new species.

    Well, you are confounding speciation – which is when a single population divides into two subpopulations, and adapt independently to two different environments, with adaptation itself, which is evolution down a single lineage. Yes, once two sub populations from an ancestral population have diverged so far that interbreeding no longer occurs, there will be a boundary that cannot be crossed between them, because there is no longer any route for lateral gene transfer. But that doesn’t mean they can’t continue evolving to adapt to their own environment. There are lateral barriers, but no obvious longitudinal barriers.

    One species never “turns into” another. I think this is a misunderstanding you have. Species is a horizontal concept, not a vertical one. As for gross mutants – they are usually deleterious, but in a minority, and usually drop out of the gene pool rapidly. The certainly won’t “produce a new species”. As I said, that occurs when a population subdivides and adapts along separate lineages. You don’t get new species from single gross mutants! As you rightly point out!

    If highly trained scientists are unable to produce new species by arrtificially inducing and selecting favorable mutations, is it likely that an unintelligent, purposeless process would do a better job? Common sense tells us otherwise.

    Well, common sense can be a misleading guide! But in any case, farmers and breeders have been indcuing speciation for years. It’s arguable that chihuahuas and Great Danes are already separate species, unlikely to be able to interbreed. It’s possible that man-induced speciation is faster, but I’m not convinced. I would expect mutation rate to be the limiting factor for divergence, and that is probably optimised. Artificially induced mutation may not be a good substitute. But I don’t know.

    According to Wikipedia, birds are classified as follows: Animalia (kingdom), Chordata (phylum), Availae (branch), and Aves (species). They are most assuredly not members of the clade Reptilia.

    Here’s a cladogram for Reptilia:

    http://www.enchantedlearning.c.....dogram.GIF

    As you can see, Aves is a branch on it.

    Birds are, by definition: feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic, egg-laying vertebrate animals. Reptiles are scaled, cold-blooded animals. While both species lay eggs, only birds incubate theirs; birds have a brood spot on their breast (an area without feathers) that contains a network of blood vessels which gives warmth to the eggs.

    Birds are very different from modern reptiles. Both are different from their common ancestor. But both belong to the Reptilia clade.

    As I understand it, natural selection favors the life-forms best suited to the environment and, as species spread and became isolated, natural selection chose those whose gene mutations made them most fit for their new environment. These isolated groups would eventually develop into new species.

    Yes.

    As previously noted, decades of research into mutations has not proven that they are capable of changing a species into another species. Natural selection might be helping species to adapt to the changing demands of existence, but it’s not creating anything new. Researchers studying the famous Darwin finches on the Galapagos islands noted as much. They’re still finches. They might be different breeds of finches but they are all finches, and there is absolutely no evidence that they are anywhere close to becoming anything else.

    Well, species do not turn into other species. Ancestral populations speciate – it’s a slightly different concept! Your description above was correct. Speciation is not triggered by gross mutations. Most adaptation probably involves alleles that have been around for a while, including the ancestral populations. New, near neutral alleles probably drip feed into the gene pool the whole time. Once a population has ceased to interbreed, these new alleles will not cross what is now a species barrier between the two species, and so both populations will diverge further and further apart, especially if they have to adapt to different environmental conditions.

    In fact, Peter Grant and graduate student Lisle Gibbes wrote in 1987 in ‘Nature’ that they had seen a reversal in the direction of selection. They also noted interbreeding between species, which they believed might cause a fusion of two of the species into just one. The fact that the finches are interbreeding casts doubt on the methods used to define ‘species’ and also exposes the fact that some prestigious scientific academies aren’t above reporting evidence in a biased manner.

    Yes, one of the interesting things about the Grants’ work was the degree of hybridisation they observed. Speciation is a gradual process – even lions and tigers can produce fertile offspring I believe, although in the wild they do not interbreed.

    I don’t think there is an aspersion to be cast on “prestigious academies” in this regard,though. Species naming is an attempt to impose categorical labels on a continuum. Eventually species do completely cease to interbreed or to be interfertile, and then it is clear. But there are long drawn out half-way stages (and ring species) where the barriers are more subtle and still permeable. We try to “carve nature at its joints” but there are always tough bits of gristle in the way :)

    This resembles, I think, an instance of ‘not seeing the forest for the trees.’ The evolution of the genetic machinery (amino acids to proteins to cells) is rife with speculation. Without the genetic code in place to begin reproduction, there can be no material for natural selection to select! This is what Dr. Behe was trying to get across in his 1996 book, “Darwin’s Black Box”. There is nothing in the scientific literature (either an experimental attempt or a detailed model) that explains how the cell ‘evolved’ bit by bit. In biology, certain things apparently do occur by chance, but this does not mean that the complex molecular machinery in cells and inherent in all life arose by change; that argument simply isn’t logical.

    Well, I wasn’t even talking about abiogenesis! Nor was I even talking about the evolution of molecular machinery – I was simply making the point that molecular machines do indeed have a function, but that function is intrinsic to their role within the whole of which they are a part.

    But to pick up your point: molecular machinery doesn’t “arrive by chance”. Behe’s point is not that scientist say that it does, but there is no way that this fancy machinery can evolve bit by bit.

    I think he is almost certainly wrong! But ask Nick Matske – he’s the one who knows about that particular bit of evolution, and he’s around here somewhere. Probably in the bar.

    Cheers

    Lizzie

  105. Dear Elizabeth,

    Without presuming to be an expert on ID, I have made an attempt at systematically laying out my arguments in the note the URL to which I gave you the other day. I hoped I would get a response from a professional biologist. Maybe I missed it somewhere in your comments… I’d still love to hear your thoughts.

    If you look around this site for comments (I suggest you start with the FAQ page perhaps), you will easily find enough argumentation for ID. Please do not say you haven’t seen any in your next post.

    You tacitly acknowledged the soundness of this argumentation in your latest response to my questions. So you do have evidence to infer intelligence.

    In fact, this is done routinely on a daily basis in information theory, computer science, medicine, sociology, forensics. ID summarises and quantifies it. Evolutionists simply have nothing to say to this, so they choose to ignore it.

    I agree that ID in its ultimate inductional prediction about the intelligence agency in the origin of the world is untestable. But it is not unfalsifiable!

    It is okay for a scientific theory to be untestable. It is legitimate to have a means to analyse the end effect of some process to make scientifically valid predictions (until such times as they become invalidated by experiments).

    Information theory gives us a means to analyse information complexity of an object AND MAKE VALID PREDICTIONS about the origin of this object. Pure science…

    The Big Bang theory for one is a scientific theory even though we cannot replicate the Big Bang. It is scientific and it is not disputed. BTW, the Big Bang is not THE ONLY theory. There are steady state theories as well which also explain the red shift but rather differenly.

    I have little reason to suspect that ID is false with respect to the origin of life, since it is doing nicely in other areas.

    All in all, I am as happy with untestability of ID with respect to the origin of life as Richard Dawkins is happy about the untestability of macroevolution.

  106. Elizabeth Liddle

    So no, I do not reject the “obvious conclusion based on belief, not evidence”….

    …I don’t think “an external intentional designer” is the obvious answer to that question. In fact I suggest that there are serious difficulties with that hypothesis.

    First, what exactly are the serious difficulties you have with that hypothesis if its not based on a belief?
    IF, for example, there does exist an external designer, why do you have serious difficulties with the hypothesis that he(?) did the designing?
    Aren’t those ‘serious difficulties’ based on belief?

    And if you do claim that you base your conclusion on scientific evidence I really want to know WHAT evidence you have in mind. I dont need ALL the evidence, just the one most convincing one.

    Secondly, nobody said there had to be “an external intentional designer”. What seems obvious is that there is intelligence involved SOMEHOW.
    Maybe there is an external designer? Maybe all matter contains intelligence?
    Maybe intelligence is a “fundamental force” in nature?
    maybe etc. etc.
    We simply dont know what/who/how intelligence is involved, but looking at the scientific evidence it SEEMS obvious that its involved SOMEHOW.
    You might have difficulties BELIEVING that it is, of course…

  107. 107
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Dala:

    Just a quick response: I think your idea that intelligence is a “fundamental force” in nature is a viable one, and, with some heavy provisos, I would agree with it!

    I’ll leave that bombshell there while I do some work….

    Eugene S: I am not a professional biologist – my field is neuroscience, but I work at the “systems” end, rather than with actual neurons! (although I do know a bit about neurons obviously). I do psychiatric research, using neuroimaging and cognitive behavioural techniques, also computational modelling.

    Just thought I’d clarify :)

  108. Elizabeth,

    “my field is neuroscience… I do psychiatric research, using neuroimaging and cognitive behavioural techniques, also computational modelling.”

    Even better :) At first glance, ID reasoning appears to be perfectly amenable to what you do.

  109. Elizabeth Liddle

    I think your idea that intelligence is a “fundamental force” in nature is a viable one, and, with some heavy provisos, I would agree with it!

    But if you agree with the idea that intelligence MIGHT BE a “fundamental force” in nature, why do you object so strongly to the idea that its is involved in creating “living systems”?
    Accepting intelligence as a “force” in nature but rejecting the idea that it is involved in “building life” seems a bit contradictory to me.

    Like Gil says, and which you agreed to, by looking at the scientific evidence it SEEMS obvious that intelligence IS involved…

    …somehow…

    (PS. When i say a “fundamental force” I mean a force which is not en “emergent property” of any of the other four fundamental forces, of course.
    I just have a feeling you MIGHT mean that nature SEEMS intelligent, but that the “obvious” intelligence we observe is just an “emergent property” of randomness acting on matter…)

  110. Thoughts concerning the post inspiring this discussion:

    Darwinism vs science. I think Dr. Dodgen is making a point about Darwinism that’s worth noting. I’ve been examining modern high-school and college biology texts. When it comes to origin of life and accounting for diversity of life, there’s very little in these texts different from the accounts I was given in school, and that was in the seventies. The graphics are better, but not much else. The confirmable explanatory power Darwinism seems stuck in the mud regarding it’s broadest claims – single cells to man – probably because it’s being asked to account for more than the known mechanisms can accomplish.

    I view, and think the actual science confirms, mutation and natural selection etc., as primarily conservative mechnaisms. The processes being referred to as evolution are the processes that build, for instance, a better worm, thus preserve the type. Thus, rather than tranmutation of forms, the processes Darwin observed is one that conserves them.

    A second thought on this is: you don’t need bring intelligent design in to demonstrate this. The concrete observations of science, apart from evolutionary gloss, confirm the conservative role of Darwin’s observation. Intelligent Design is the response many have come to due to advances in science as applied to biology. What’s now known is simply more compatible with design than it is with the idea of random chance and known chemical and physical law.

    Fianlly, some of the people who have come to the design conclusion, were once adamant Darwinists. They have the perspective, therefore, of having “been there” which, too me, is significant, as science is the reason many of them have changed their minds.

  111. arkady967:

    “science is the reason many of them have changed their minds.”

    Beautiful, and very true. For me, it is absolutely true. I am a medical doctor, and for years I have believed that there was probably something in the darwinian theory, even if at first approach I could not really understand how things worked. I thought that my understanding of the theory was probably too superficial (and, at that time, it was).

    Please, note that my philosophical and religious ideas were already well formed, and they were not disturbed by the possibility that darwinism, at least in part, could be credible.

    Then I came to know ID, and it was a revelation. A scientific, completely rational revelation. I have been deepening my understanding of darwinain theory, and of biology, for years now, and my feeling of utter disappointment, even amazed disgust, with darwinian thought has been constantly increasing.

    My hostility to darwinism is absolutely motivated and fueled by purely intellectual, rational and scientific considerations. While I certainly accept and respect individuals, I am totally intolerant of the ideology. Individuals are sometimes in good faith, but the ideology is stupid, arrogant and inacceptable.

  112. 112
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Dala:

    Elizabeth Liddle

    So no, I do not reject the “obvious conclusion based on belief, not evidence”. [I think the obvious conclusion is, in fact, that a design process was involved. Given that conclusion, my next question is: what was that design process?] I don’t think “an external intentional designer” is the obvious answer to that question. In fact I suggest that there are serious difficulties with that hypothesis.

    First, what exactly are the serious difficulties you have with that hypothesis if its not based on a belief?
    IF, for example, there does exist an external designer, why do you have serious difficulties with the hypothesis that he(?) did the designing?
    Aren’t those ‘serious difficulties’ based on belief?

    (restored my full paragraph for reference)

    Here are my difficulties:

    Firstly: we have no trace of a mechanism by which an external designer might have designed living things. We do, in contrast, have many traces of an intrinsic design mechanism (essentially, Darwin’s).

    Secondly: the hypothesis as put forward by Dembski, for example, I think, is incorrectly operationalised. Specifically, I think the null hypothesis is wrongly formulated, and that this invalidates the design inference.

    As I said – the inference that something interesting is going on is fine! Even the inference that something resembling intelligence is fine! But I think the answer lies in the self-organising capacity of systems of self-replicators with feedback loops, not in an external organiser. Simply because the former has a great deal of predictive power, and has consist generated successful predictions, while in order to make the latter fit the data we have, I suggest, to posit not just an invisible designer with invisible designing tools, but one with some very odd limitations, not least being lack of foresight, and lack of ability to transfer solution from one lineage (in its broadest sense) to another – something that human designers are able to do easily.

    And if you do claim that you base your conclusion on scientific evidence I really want to know WHAT evidence you have in mind. I dont need ALL the evidence, just the one most convincing one.

    The pattern of nested hierarchies in living and once-living things; the fact that phylogenies derived from independent datasets (anatomical; genetic) are readily reconciled; the fact that the basic evolutionary algorithm is capable of creating novel and unanticipated solutions to problems when applied to real problems faced by human beings; the fact that evolutionary algorithms are, in many senses, intelligent algorithms and lie at the heart of artificial learning and artifical intelligence systems; the fact that human intelligence (or, more generally, animal intelligence) seems operate on a comparable form of “neural Darwinism” (what works is more likely to be repeated; what doesn’t is inhibited). In other words that the very mechanisms of human intelligence (with the exception of foresight/intention) are exactly those we see operating at short time scales in the natural world – replication with variation in the ability to replicate, and a steady stochastic source of novelty.

    Secondly, nobody said there had to be “an external intentional designer”. What seems obvious is that there is intelligence involved SOMEHOW.

    Exactly :)

    Maybe there is an external designer? Maybe all matter contains intelligence?

    Well, my own view is that intelligence is a property of systems, not matter. The paradigm case is the human brain, but other systems also display a kind of intelligence (foresight – forward modelling – however, does seem to be a higher order capacity that as far as we know is unique to brains).

    Maybe intelligence is a “fundamental force” in nature?

    I think that self-organisation is a fairly fundamental property of nature and will tend to occur wherever there are feedback loops. This is why I think chaos theory (an unfortunate word – it’s more like the opposite, IMO) has been a hugely helpful development in understanding how natural systems self-organise, including brains.

    maybe etc. etc.
    We simply dont know what/who/how intelligence is involved, but looking at the scientific evidence it SEEMS obvious that its involved SOMEHOW.
    You might have difficulties BELIEVING that it is, of course…

    Yes, and this is why I restored, in your quote of me above, the parts you had replaced by ellipses :)

    It was rather key to my point :)

  113. 113

    Good Afternoon Lizzie,

    I think I have supported both claims that:

    1. “if we didn’t have divine ordained morality there would be no reason to behave” and
    2. “meaning has to be assigned to life from outside”

    but that’s over on the aforementioned (post 101) thread so maybe we can continue that discussion there. (btw, I think the poem would come across better if it was sung to the music you wrote for it!)

    As for Cthulhu, I completely agree with you: as far as Intelligent Design theory is concerned, it could be that Cthulhu designed the cell. As Descartes pointed out, reality could simply be an illusion brought on by a demon who is toying with my soul in a jar. The demon doubt will always remain if all we have to rely on is our senses (that includes all of the knowledge that the scientific method yields, by the way).

    So again, there is no parallel between the worldview shattering implications of the rejection of evolution and acceptance of ID theory for atheists and the acceptance of evolution and rejection of ID theory for believers. Do not underestimate the importance of this distinction in this debate and just how influential the requirements of the worldview are for atheists compared to believers.

    Ugly facts are much more important than beautiful theories, Lizzie. As Thomas Huxley said:

    “The great tragedy of Science: the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact”

    Moving onto the two reasons that you offer for “resisting ID theory”. First, your evolutionist beliefs (we’ll put a pin in that one for now!) and your conclusion that the ID argument is fundamentally flawed. If you still feel that way by the time you finish reading Signature in the Cell, you should be invited to detail exactly why that is in your own guest blog entry.

    That’ll be a very popular thread!

    Secondly, you have theological objections: thank you very much for admitting that and detailing them. Would it be fair to say that if evolution was universally rejected and ID theory accepted, you would still “resist ID theory” (or at least the religious implications of it) because of these theological objections? Because, if that’s the case, that is probably where the conversation needs to go sooner rather than later (though Uncommon Descent may not be the place for that). It will come as no surprise to you that I see a perfect harmony between science and theology. I believe what all of the Greatest Scientists who ever lived believed: that the Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture complement and enhance each other. But again, as far as ID theory is concerned, all that matters is establishing the need for an Intelligent Designer(s). Even if it turns out to be true that Cthulhu is waiting for us, then we must go wherever the evidence leads. We cannot and should not knowingly live a lie.

    I liked your “Obviousness” anecdote: a fascinating insight into human nature. You also have a point about it being harder to be reasoned out of view you were reasoned into. However, if reason is the only force at play, it can be achieved once the mind is opened to it. But how often is reason the only force at play? Pride, peer-pressure, emotional commitments, conflicts of interest, habits, etc usually muddy the waters. When Jonathan Swift said “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into” he is capturing the problem that arises when prejudice keeps the mind closed. And, I completely agree, this argument cuts both ways. I also agree that we need “to find the unchallenged assumptions that we each regard as “obvious” but which may not be as “obvious” as we have always thought”.

    Here’s my opener: your assumption “that self-replication with variance in a fitness landscape results in entities with the appearance of well-engineered design” needs to be challenged. Furthermore, your assumption that any findings we make in computer simulations can be carried into cell biology also needs to be challenged. In other words, even if it was true that computers can simulate evolution, it does not mean that we can apply any findings from computer simulations to cell biology.

  114. Elizabeth Liddle:

    I’m saying that something can have an intrinsic function- that function doesn’t have to assigned from without.

    And why is that any different from teleology? Why do you just ignore the sources I gave you?

    It’s like you’re lying to yourself, if not to anyone else. Which to me in fact seems worse.

  115. Elizabeth Liddle:

    One species never “turns into” another.

    I’m willing to grant that speciation never happens, but then why isn’t Darwinism false?

    One species never “turns into” another.

    Then what is anagenesis?

    Anagenesis, also known as “phyletic change,” is the evolution of species involving an entire population rather than a branching event, as in cladogenesis. When enough mutations have occurred and become stable in a population so that it is significantly differentiated from an ancestral population, a new species name may be assigned. A key point is that the entire population is different from the ancestral population such that the ancestral population can be considered extinct. A series of such species is collectively known as an evolutionary lineage.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anagenesis

    You can’t really be this ignorant of evolutionary theory, can you?

    Really?

  116. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Birds are very different from modern reptiles. Both are different from their common ancestor. But both belong to the Reptilia clade.

    Well, if they are so different, how do you decide what the common ancestor was like?

    What was the common ancestor to modern birds and reptiles?

    It’s ok if you don’t have one. Just be honest enough to say so.

  117. Mung,

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    One species never “turns into” another.

    I’m willing to grant that speciation never happens, but then why isn’t Darwinism false?

    Because “turns into” is not synonymous with “evolve” or with “speciation”.

    One species never “turns into” another.

    Then what is anagenesis?

    Anagenesis, also known as “phyletic change,” is the evolution of species involving an entire population rather than a branching event, as in cladogenesis. When enough mutations have occurred and become stable in a population so that it is significantly differentiated from an ancestral population, a new species name may be assigned. A key point is that the entire population is different from the ancestral population such that the ancestral population can be considered extinct. A series of such species is collectively known as an evolutionary lineage.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anagenesis

    You can’t really be this ignorant of evolutionary theory, can you?

    Really?

    My own 2 shekels on this…

    In what way does the ancestral species “turn into” the new species in anagenesis? Seems to me that the ancestral species itself never changed. In fact, we have all sorts of fossils and bones of ancestor species showing that they didn’t morph into other organisms during their life times. Do parents “turn into” their children? No.

    There in lies the problem with the phrase “turns into” and why it really is not appropriate when speaking of evolution. It is, otoh, appropriate to say that ancestor species evolved into new species because the term “evolve” does not simply mean “becomes”.

    Hence the reason that the old canard, “if evolution is true and humans descended from apes, why are there still apes” demonstrates a misconception (among other misconceptions therein).

  118. Elizabeth Liddle:

    We do, in contrast, have many traces of an intrinsic design mechanism (essentially, Darwin’s).

    That’s false in at least two respects.

    One, Darwin’s theory was that something extrinsic to living organisms was responsible for the apparent design. To wit, “natural selection.”

    Second, there is no evidence whatsoever of any “intrinsic design mechanism.”

  119. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Specifically, I think the null hypothesis is wrongly formulated, and that this invalidates the design inference.

    And how long ago did I predict this would be your argument?

    And how loudly did you protest?

    I laugh.

  120. 120
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    Birds are very different from modern reptiles. Both are different from their common ancestor. But both belong to the Reptilia clade.

    Well, if they are so different, how do you decide what the common ancestor was like?

    Well, I’m no palaeontologist, but by constructing phylogenies from fossils, mainly. It would have been a diapsid, apparently.

    What was the common ancestor to modern birds and reptiles?

    It’s ok if you don’t have one. Just be honest enough to say so.

    I’m always honest, Mung.

    There’s an interesting page about diapsids here:

    http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/t.....apsids.php

    It seems to be still a bit of a muddle.

  121. Doveton:

    Because “turns into” is not synonymous with “evolve” or with “speciation”.

    A species may evolve into another species, but it shall not be the case that one species shall turn into another species.

    In what way does the ancestral species “turn into” the new species in anagenesis? Seems to me that the ancestral species itself never changed.

    On your view, there was no ancestral species. It’s like a Zeno’s Paradox applied to speciation.

    Each species is ancestral, but none of them ever change, excuse me, evolves.

  122. Chris Doyle:

    Here’s my opener: your assumption “that self-replication with variance in a fitness landscape results in entities with the appearance of well-engineered design” needs to be challenged. Furthermore, your assumption that any findings we make in computer simulations can be carried into cell biology also needs to be challenged. In other words, even if it was true that computers can simulate evolution, it does not mean that we can apply any findings from computer simulations to cell biology.

    Well put. She’s been challenged on both points. Repeatedly.

    Good luck. :)

  123. Elizabeth:

    Secondly: the hypothesis as put forward by Dembski, for example, I think, is incorrectly operationalised. Specifically, I think the null hypothesis is wrongly formulated, and that this invalidates the design inference.

    Could you please elucidate? I am very interested.

  124. Elizabeth, thank you for your response.

    “I’m not. I’m saying that something can have an intrinsic function- that function doesn’t have to assigned from without.”

    It can, but this does not explain how the components of a protein molecule, through natural selection and chance and mutations, assemble themselves properly.

    “One species never “turns into” another. I think this is a misunderstanding you have.”

    Tell that to Carl Sagan, who wrote: “Mutations–sudden changes in heredity–breed true. They provide the raw material of evolution. The environment selects those few mutations that enhance survival, resulting in a series of slow transformations of one lifeform into another, the origin of new species.” (Cosmos, 1980, page 27).

    Has he confused speciation with adaptation as well?

    “Well, common sense can be a misleading guide!”

    Really? That’s the best answer you can come up with?

    “Birds are very different from modern reptiles. Both are different from their common ancestor. But both belong to the Reptilia clade.”

    Please consider the following:
    “In 1866, Haeckel demonstrated that
    vertebrates could be divided based on their reproductive strategies, and that reptiles, birds and mammals were united by the amniotic egg. By the end of the 19th century, the class Reptilia had come to include all the amniotes except birds and mammals. Thus reptiles were defined as the set of animals that includes the extant crocodiles, alligators, tuatara, lizards, snakes, amphisbaenians, and turtles, as well as fossil groups like dinosaurs, synapsids and the primitive pareiasaurs. This is still the common definition of the term.”

    “Colin Tudge wrote: Mammals are a clade, and therefore the cladists are happy to acknowledge the traditional taxon Mammalia; and birds, too, are a clade, universally ascribed to the formal taxon Aves. Mammalia and Aves are, in fact, subclades within the grand clade of the Amniota. But the traditional class Reptilia is not a clade. It is just a section of the clade Amniota: the section that is left after the Mammalia and Aves have been hived off. It cannot be defined by synapomorphies, as is the proper way. It is instead defined by a combination of the features it has and the features it lacks: reptiles are the amniotes that lack fur or feathers. At best, the cladists suggest, we could say that the traditional Reptilia are ‘non-avian, non-mammalian amniotes’.[10]”

    “Cladistics, either generally or in specific applications, has been criticized from its beginnings. A decision as to whether a particular character is a synapomorphy or not may be challenged as involving subjective judgements,[4] raising the issue of whether cladistics as actually practised is as objective as has been claimed. Formal classifications based on cladistic reasoning are said to emphasize ancestry at the expense of descriptive characteristics, and thus ignore biologically sensible, clearly defined groups which do not fall into clades (e.g. reptiles as traditionally defined or prokaryotes).[5]”

    –all from Wikipedia. The absolute bottom line is that birds =/= reptiles.

    “l, species do not turn into other species. Ancestral populations speciate – it’s a slightly different concept!”

    See the quote from Sagan above. Organic evolution–as I have seen it described–is the theory that the first living organism developed from nonliving matter. As it reproduced, it changed into different kinds of living things, ultimately producing all forms of life that have ever existed on earth, including humans.

    “Yes, one of the interesting things about the Grants’ work was the degree of hybridisation they observed. Speciation is a gradual process – even lions and tigers can produce fertile offspring I believe, although in the wild they do not interbreed.”

    I don’t know if they do, but humans have decided that they can: http://www.liger.org/

    “Well, I wasn’t even talking about abiogenesis! Nor was I even talking about the evolution of molecular machinery – I was simply making the point that molecular machines do indeed have a function, but that function is intrinsic to their role within the whole of which they are a part.”

    They do have a function, but the problem for evolution is explaining how they assemble themselves into a fully functioning machine (i.e., a protein or a cell).

  125. Assmbly (usually referred to as “self-assembly”)

    Isn’t it true that the system for assmebly of anything in a cell and including the cell, is under program control?

    Cells (the most “basic” unit of life) have an information library a retrieval system, a translation system, assembly machinery, regulatory elements,feedback loops, and error correction systems, all interdependant upon one another for function. In lay-terms, it’s an ultimate chicken, or egg first, conundrum wihtout even a hint that natural law can account for it.
    (Or post solution here if you have it..)

    This isn’t self-assembly, it’s assembly under program control. That really is a problem for evolution – from biogenesis, to the origin of species.

    Why would anyone, in light of this, assert nature, biology, can account for itself?

  126. Elizabeth, could you please elucidate? gpuccio is very interested.

  127. 127
    Elizabeth Liddle

    OK, but I’ll do it on a relevant thread.

    How about this one:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....l-numbers/

    See you there.

  128. 128
    Elizabeth Liddle

    catching up:

    Mung:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    Specifically, I think the null hypothesis is wrongly formulated, and that this invalidates the design inference.

    And how long ago did I predict this would be your argument?

    And how loudly did you protest?

    I laugh.

    Link to my “protest” please.

    I have thought the null hypothesis was wrongly formulated for years.

    I find conversations with you rather odd, Mung. You frequently imply that I am inconsistent, yet you consistently misread my posts.

    Oh well. No-one ever said communication was easy.

  129. 129
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Chris: I’m sorry I missed your post above.

    I’m going to be busy next week, but I’ll try to get to it.

    Give me a nudge if I don’t.

    Thanks!

  130. Elizabeth Liddle:

    I have thought the null hypothesis was wrongly formulated for years.

    Yes, you have an internet history. I have just chosen to not make an issue of it. We can all change, right? Perhaps your argument has changed since you were last lauded on PandasThumb as the greatest thing since sliced Dembski.

    Link to my “protest” please.

    There was quite a long discussion about the EF and about CSI and about hypothesis testing. Have you already forgotten?

    Mung:

    Here’s how I see your argument framing up:

    How you specify your null is critical to the validity of your hypothesis testing.

    Dembski fails to properly specify the null.

    Therefore the ID argument is not valid.

    You:

    I suggest you stop trying to anticipate “the way [my] argument framing up”. It’s causing you to see spooks behind every bush.

    It’s also stopping you reading the actual words I write! These are simply not controversial (and you would, I’m sure, readily agree with them if you were not scared I was going to pull a “Gotcha!” with your agreement!)

    HERE

    Man, did I ever nail that one.

    Now, since that is in fact your argument, why did you object when I first framed it?

    Why not just honestly admit that is in fact what you think?

  131. 131
    Elizabeth Liddle

    I’m sorry, Mung, you have completely lost me.

    What is it that you think I think?

    And how does it differ from what you think I’ve said I think?

    What is it, in other words, that you think you have “nailed”?

    No, I have most certainly not forgotten our previous discussion about hypothesis testing. It is etched in acid on my brain.

    And, as I said then, and I said now, it is the formulation of the null that I think is the problem with Dembski’s hypothesis.

    I really think we need to look at that paper (Specification: the pattern etc).

  132. 132

    Re: post 129. No problem, Lizzie, take you time.

    Cheers

    Chris

  133. Mung,

    Because “turns into” is not synonymous with “evolve” or with “speciation”.

    A species may evolve into another species, but it shall not be the case that one species shall turn into another species.

    Yes.

    In what way does the ancestral species “turn into” the new species in anagenesis? Seems to me that the ancestral species itself never changed.

    On your view, there was no ancestral species. It’s like a Zeno’s Paradox applied to speciation.

    That’s not my view. I certainly recognize there are ancestral species. Dinohippus is an ancestor of Equidae. I don’t see that as an issue at all.

    Each species is ancestral, but none of them ever change, excuse me, evolves.

    I certainly recognize that they do indeed change and evolve. I’m not sure why you think that would not be my understanding.

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