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Debating Darwin and Design: Science or Creationism? (7) – Joshua Gidney’s Third Response

After another unfortunately lengthy break, we’re at it again. This post is my latest response to Francis Smallwood. Francis is first and foremost, a dear friend, but also a Christian neo-Darwinist. He writes at his blog Musings of Science. This response is part of a long-term (hopefully lifelong), dialogue on many different topics relating to the theory of intelligent design and neo-Darwinism. We are both very excited about continuing this project.

Francis’ previous response can be found here:

http://musingsofscience.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/debating-darwin-and-design-science-or-creationism-4/

Debating Darwin and Design

A dialogue between two Christians

1.

Is Intelligent Design science or ‘creationism in a cheap tuxedo’?

12th September 2013

Joshua Gidney – Third Response

 

One of the many benefits of taking part in a written dialogue, like this one, is that there are no time constraints. Francis and I have initiated this discussion ourselves, and so we are free to respond when we wish to. Unfortunately this has resulted in an eye-watering one year and eight months between the last instalment, and now. This is an atrocity and I am to blame. Shortly after my guilty conscience overwhelmed me, several glasses of wine, a cup of coffee, and some delightful walnut cake, Francis and I swore to continue our deliberations. Due to both of us having busy lives, it is inevitable that our responses will be infrequent. As I have already stated, this is not an issue (unless you’re impatient!). We are engaging with each other and that is what matters. Besides, I very much like the idea that this discussion could continue in to our old age.

In previous writings we have covered much ground, so before I respond directly to some of the points raised by Francis I would like clarify a couple of things and briefly review some of the ground we have covered. Although it would be somewhat counterproductive to keep going back and forth on the same point, at the same time I don’t wish us to end up with a bunch of loose threads.

The issue at the heart of this part of the debate is not the whether ID is true or not, but whether it is a scientific theory. If not, what is it really? Though we are both very concerned about the veracity (or lack of veracity), of the design hypothesis, we are not focussing on this at the moment. The classification of ID is what is at issue here. We will leave discussion on the merits of ID till another time. If I could successfully show that ID counts as what we would normally call a scientific theory, that would still not serve to show that it is true. It is possible for something to be scientific and false. Equally, if Francis could convincingly show that ID is essentially creationism, motivated by Christian fundamentalists wishing to establish a theocracy, this would in no way show that it is false. If one attempted to argue otherwise, one would be guilty of committing the genetic fallacy. Furthermore, only someone who holds to a scientistic worldview would hold that in order for ID to be considered true, it must fall under the umbrella of science. Neither me nor Francis subscribe to scientism and we both recognise it to be an irrational and entirely discredited philosophy of science. At the end of the day it is ‘Better to be unscientific and true than scientific and false’.1

Thomas Nagel writes: “A purely semantic classification of a hypothesis or its denial as belonging or not to science is of limited interest to someone who wants to know whether the hypothesis is true or false.”1 Arguments over the classification of ID can often just be red herrings, brought up to avoid dealing with the substance of the more important arguments. Some readers have complained that we are wasting time, arguing over an a mere exercise in taxonomy. Does this issue matter? Perhaps we have gone about this discussion the wrong way round, choosing to debate the classification of ID before the merits of ID. I don’t see that it really matters. The ‘Is it science’ issue is, I believe, an important one but we both recognise the latter issue to be of greater importance. Francis and I, like countless others, are truly enamoured by, and study, many of the sciences. We are naturally interested in the question under discussion and we don’t see it merely as an exercise in taxonomy. There is much more to life than science, but science is a huge cultural authority and there are many philosophical, sociological and educational implications that follow scientific theories. ID theorists present the theory as a scientific one and want more scientists, and the public, to view it as such. The scientific classification of ID raises important educational questions about what is included or excluded from the science class. Analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga notes the importance of the classification of ID pointing out that it is‘’…not a merely verbal question about how a certain word is ordinarily used. It is, instead, a factual question about a multifarious and many-sided human activity — is the very nature of that activity such as to exclude ID?’’3

One more thing I wish to note is with regard to the original question under consideration. We are only using the opening question as a catalyst for further discussion. The question ‘Is Intelligent Design science or creationism in a cheap tuxedo?’, presents us with false alternatives. If it isn’t science, that doesn’t automatically mean that it is creationism. It could be a whole host of other things. Perhaps it’s neither creationism nor science? Because creationism isn’t a scientific belief, to show that ID is essentially creationism is to show it to be unscientific. However, to show ID to be unscientific is not to show that it is creationism per se. Unless, of course, some of the reasons given for why it is unscientific are the same reasons given for why it is a brand of creationism.

Francis has claimed that although ID certainly isn’t the same as young earth creationism, it does have a ‘creationistic’ flavour to it. We have both agreed that it is not fair to lump ID with creationism. In his last response, Francis did not provide any more reasons to support his belief that ID and creationism are as close as he thinks. It was not clear to me whether he was giving up on this line of critique, or merely trying to move the discussion along. I will leave that up to him to clarify.

There are, as far as I can see, seven ways by which critics attempt to argue that ID and creationism are the same (or similar), and that it shouldn’t be considered scientific:

1. By showing that design and creation, as concepts, are necessarily synonymous.

2. By showing that, historically, ID emerged from the same source as creationism.

3. By bringing up the infamous Dover trial.

4. By showing that ID proponents are religiously motivated

5. By showing that ID theorists don’t publish their work in peer-reviewed journals.

6. By showing that methodological naturalism (MN) is an essential part of science. This includes the prohibition of supernatural causation. ID necessarily has theological implications and thus violates the principle of MN.

7. By showing that ID doesn’t follow ‘the scientific method’ and is neither falsifiable nor verifiable.

There is some overlap between a few of these points but I hope they serve to clarify the discussion . Francis has not used points 2 and 5 and although he brought up 3, the Dover trial, he did not use it for the purpose of arguing that it is unscientific/creationism.

To defend point 1, Francis argued ‘What design theory identifies, therefore, is not a designer but, rather, a creator…’4 But as William Dembski explains “Creation is always about the source of being in the world. Intelligent design is about arrangements of pre-existing materials that point to a designing intelligence…One can have creation without intelligent design and intelligent design without creation.”5 ID theorists are generally very careful with making such distinctions and it is contrary to the principle of charity to suggest they are just making the distinction in order to slip it under the radar. Michael Behe explains that ‘diligence in making proper distinctions should not be impugned as craftiness.’6

Francis defended 4 by pointing out that most of the key ID theorists are Christians. He writes “…the four fathers of the ID movement—Johnson, Dembski, Behe and Meyer—are all Christians. They all, presumably, believe the intelligent designer to be the God of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, despite their insistence that this is not inferred from the detection of design.”7 I pointed out that this is an irrelevance. If an ID proponent were to adopt such bad reasoning, they could easily point out that many key neo-Darwinists are atheists. Does this not mean that neo-Darwinism is a cover for atheism? Of course not. You can’t judge a theory by the company it keeps. Again, Dembski puts it well “I might add that my views on Christian theology should be just as irrelevant for evaluating the scientific evidence I present for intelligent design as Richard Dawkins’ views on atheism are irrelevant for evaluating the scientific evidence he presents for Darwinism.”8

Furthermore, there are many ID proponents who have different religious backgrounds and. There are also atheists and agnostics within the ID movement. For more details on this, see my article: “Are these atheists and agnostics really covert creationists?”9

Points 6 and 7, it seems, are going to be where the rubber hits the road. Francis devoted the majority of his previous response to 6 and I believe this is where the meat of the discussion will lie. Although I haven’t directly responded to his points on this issue, I will in subsequent writings. For now, I just wanted to review some of the ground we have covered in order to reach a few conclusions along the way that otherwise might have been left behind. I apologise to Francis for there not being much he can respond to with regard to his last instalment, but perhaps he could distil and clarify some of his thoughts and comment on a few of the points I have brought up from our previous exchanges. It would be useful if he could point out which lines of attack, out of the seven I have outlined, he still finds legitimate and those he does not. I thought some clarification from both of us would be necessary because of the long period of time that has passed since we last wrote. I don’t want to assume that we haven’t changed our minds on anything.

I greatly look forward to continuing this spirited and substantive dialogue.

References

1. Williams, P.S “Intelligent Designs on Science: A Surreply to Denis Alexander’s Critique of Intelligent Design Theory”, available from http://www.arn.org/docs/williams/pw_designsonscience.htm

2. Nagel, T. “Education and Intelligent Design”, 195. Cf. Alvin Plantinga, “Whether ID Is Science Isn’t Semantics”; available from http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=3331.

3. Plantinga, A. “Whether ID Is Science Isn’t Semantics”; available from http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=3331..

4. Smallwood, F. Debating Darwin and design: science or creationism? (4), Second Response. Available at: http://musingsofscience.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/debating-darwin-and-design-science-or-creationism-4-2/

5. Dembski. W.A. The design revolution: answering the toughest questions about intelligent design. (Nottingham: Inter-varsity press, 2004). p.38.

6. Behe. M.J. ‘Whether Intelligent Design Is Science: A Response to the Court in Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School Distric’. Available at: www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=697, p.8.

7. Smallwood, F. Debating Darwin and design: science or creationism? (4), Second Response. Available at: http://musingsofscience.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/debating-darwin-and-design-science-or-creationism-4-2/

8. Dembski. W.A. “Coming clean” about YEC? Available at http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/coming-clean-about-yec/

9. Gidney., J. “Are these atheists and agnostics really covert creationists?”, available from http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/are-these-atheists-and-agnostics-really-covert-creationists/

 

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81 Responses to Debating Darwin and Design: Science or Creationism? (7) – Joshua Gidney’s Third Response

  1. If an ID proponent were to adopt such bad reasoning, they could easily point out that many key neo-Darwinists are atheists. Does this not mean that neo-Darwinism is a cover for atheism? Of course not.

    Alas, he has several citations from ID writers alleging this very thing — I have of course also seen this assumption here.

    I think your dismissal of this point obfuscates the key distinction made between methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism. ID justifies itself as a critique of science, and justifies its call to redefine the philosophical foundation of science, on the alleged partiality and atheism of “naturalistic” scientists. I don’t think you can separate the ID’s reform program from the assertion that modern science is overtly atheistic.

    All the authorities on the subject, on both sides, concede that ID isn’t science unless this reform program succeeds. Dembski’s position is, in so many words, we must “dump methodological naturalism” in order to admit ID.

    Michael Behe explains that ‘diligence in making proper distinctions should not be impugned as craftiness.’

    When they’ve been impugned as craftiness, it was usually because we had documents and depositions evincing such. While I can’t attack the theory itself on such grounds, all of its exponents have very limited credibility when the claim clean hands. I would remind the poster that it was in these very pages that Dembski fantasized about staging an inquisition of “Darwinists,” to wit:

    I’m waiting for the day when the hearings are not voluntary but involve subpoenas in which evolutionists are deposed at length on their views. On that happy day, I can assure you they won’t come off looking well.

    Such is the nature of ID opposition — not a dispute, but a “conspiracy” that must be stamped out by force. Their inability to persuade others in their own fields, combined with aggressive effort to get their ideas into school curriculums and legislation prior to any sort of scientific recognition, would tend to suggest a primarily political effort to make their views compulsory. Or even worse, a solipsistic “choice,” a science for mine and a science for thine, thus no one’s science is science.

  2. This statement from sigaba caught my eye

    ID justifies itself as a critique of science, and justifies its call to redefine the philosophical foundation of science,,, in so many words, we must “dump methodological naturalism” in order to admit ID.

    Growing up during the moon landings, I have always had a interest in things ‘scientific’, mainly physics, and have honestly never heard the term ‘methodological naturalism’ used as a limit to what science could investigate in all my years growing up until I got involved in the ID vs. Darwinism debate several year ago. I first heard the term when Darwinists were trying to tell me that methodological naturalism is the ‘philosophy of science’. I’m sure all the Christian founders of modern science would be very surprised to learn that the ‘official’ philosophy of science has now become methodological naturalism when they themselves saw their founding work in modern science as bringing glory to God:

    Founders of Modern Science Who Believe in GOD – Tihomir Dimitrov – (pg. 222)
    http://www.academia.edu/273960.....OD_Journal

    Science for me has always been about the relentless pursuit of truth and I have always found it more than a just little bit dishonest for Darwinists to try to redefine science so as to, prior to investigation, include only their preferred materialistic/naturalistic answer prior to investigation. If anyone is trying to redefine science it is the naturalistic atheist! It is simply a ludicrous, self-serving, rule to impose a predetermined answer on science prior to investigation, especially in these questions of origins. Science, as it is truly practiced, could care less if the answer is a materialistic/naturalistic answer or not. Moreover, recent breakthroughs in quantum mechanics have underscored this fact, the fact that science cannot be crammed into a naturalistic/materialistic box beforehand, in dramatic fashion:

    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 (i.e. Leggett’s Inequality)
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

    Science, despite what Darwinists try to dogmatically claim to the contrary, refuses to be so easily tamed into docile obedience with a wave of their ‘methodological naturalism’ philosophical wand. This refusal to be so easily tamed is as true in math, which is an indispensable cornerstone of science, as well as it was, and is, in physics:

    Kurt Gödel – Incompleteness Theorem – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8462821

    Godel and Physics – John D. Barrow
    Excerpt (page 5-6): “Clearly then no scientific cosmology, which of necessity must be highly mathematical, can have its proof of consistency within itself as far as mathematics go. In absence of such consistency, all mathematical models, all theories of elementary particles, including the theory of quarks and gluons…fall inherently short of being that theory which shows in virtue of its a priori truth that the world can only be what it is and nothing else. This is true even if the theory happened to account for perfect accuracy for all phenomena of the physical world known at a particular time.”
    Stanley Jaki – Cosmos and Creator – 1980, pg. 49
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0612253.pdf

    Mathematics and Physics – A Happy Coincidence? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/9826382

    neo-Darwinists simply have no right to claim that ‘only we are allowed to score touchdowns’ prior to the game of science being played.,,,

    Of supplemental note;

    “It always bothers me that in spite of all this local business, what goes on in a tiny, no matter how tiny, region of space, and no matter how tiny a region of time, according to laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out. Now how can all that be going on in that tiny space? Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do?”
    - Richard Feynman – one of the founding fathers of QED (Quantum Electrodynamics)
    Quote taken from the 6:45 minute mark of the following video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obCjODeoLVw

    I don’t know about Feynman, but as for myself, being a Christian Theist, I find it rather comforting to know that it takes an ‘infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do’:

    John1:1
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    of note: ‘the Word’ in John1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos is the root word from which we derive our modern word logic
    http://etymonline.com/?term=logic

    This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God pantokrator, or Universal Ruler;,,, The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect;,,, from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done. He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present. He endures for ever, and is every where present:
    Sir Isaac Newton – Quoted from what many consider the greatest science masterpiece of all time, his book “Principia”
    http://gravitee.tripod.com/genschol.htm

    According to Darwinists, I guess Newton is ‘unscientific’?

  3. BA, Thanks for making my point for me. If Joshua’s position is that we cannot reject mainstream science on account of the alleged “atheism” of mainstream science, on what basis are we to reject it?

    Growing up during the moon landings, I have always had a interest in things ‘scientific’, mainly physics, and have honestly never heard the term ‘methodological naturalism’ used as a limit to what science could investigate in all my years growing up until I got involved in the ID vs. Darwinism debate several year ago.

    The concept of methodological naturalism describes what’s always existed, it’s just a way of describing the scientific method, a method that pursues falsifiable, repeatable facts, and that’s as old as Francis Bacon and Galileo. (Both committed Christians we might add, but neither willing to recourse to the intervention of supernatural forces, because they knew it was a dead end of metaphysical navel gazing.) The term “methodological naturalism” was developed because ID started a euphemism conveyor bent on redefining the meaning of “science,” and MN is much more grounded and unambiguous. That ID proponents have identified it as an irreconcilable, enemy ideology shows that the term is well selected.

    I think what’s happened is a lot of cosmologists and subatomic physicists in the 70s made a lot of irresponsible metaphysical claims about science and the Universe, and were happy to blur the lines between science and philosophy. Their musings on these issues were then uncritically followed by the media, at least since the time of Einstein. I don’t know why this is, but I suppose it’s because scientism has the appeal of impartiality and technocratic precision, and the comicbook version of Einstein’s theories seems to impute certain magical properties on nature.

    I appreciate the citation of Gödel, Gödel developed a logically rigorous and beautiful proof for the existence of God. He was a great mathematician and logician, and developed innovative theories in many domains of inquiry. This is in marked contrast with ID proponents, who are mediocrities in everything but their “science,” where they receive the adoration of their claque but little beyond that.

    According to Darwinists, I guess Newton is ‘unscientific’?

    He was. He was being just as unscientific as Dawkins is being in The God Delusion. Newton was a smart man, but scientists do not venerate him or seek his intercession, and every word he speaks is not some sort of revelation, fodder for meditation and exegeses. He was also, technically, completely wrong in his account of gravity — would a theist be willing to submit their faith to Newton’s process? That seems to be BA’s idea.

  4. I guess my point is that ID, in the present debate, isn’t an argument over what science proves, it’s an argument over what science is supposed to prove. In such a debate, questions of people’s motivations, their good faith, their religious biases are completely relevant to the conversation. It’s a fundamentally political question with political motives and implications.

  5. Sigbaba

    In such a debate, questions of people’s motivations, their good faith, their religious biases are completely relevant to the conversation

    Then why is it heresy to question the beliefs of the materialist?? Why is it only the theists that somehow have an agenda or a bias? That seems hypocritical to me, don’t you agree?

  6. Then why is it heresy to question the beliefs of the materialist??

    It’s not heresy, you can question materialism all you wish. The scientific method is not materialism. This is where the IDM and everyone else disagrees.

    The issue is that ID’s critique of science, fundamentally, is based on the idea that mainstream science is metaphysically materialistic, that methodological naturalism is in fact a religion and the distinction between “method” and “belief” is a sham.

    So, when Josh writes that the religious beliefs of various proponents are irrelevant, this completely contradicts the IDM’s attitude towards naturalistic science. IDs critique of science is premised on the idea that naturalistic science is a form of religion, that a religious adherence to materialism is the obstacle preventing ID from being accepted, and that this “materialism” must be purged before ID can be accepted.

  7. Sigaba:

    We weren’t born yesterday.

    Let’s see some documentation on the point that you want to brush away with a rhetorical wave of the hand:

    US NSTA Board, 2000: The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . .

    Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements [--> this is a code worded red herring led away to a strawman intended to be soaked in accusations about nefarious Creationists intent on setting up a neo-nazi right wing tyrannical anti science theocracy, as we can see ever so plainly at TSZ these days] in the production of scientific knowledge.

    US NAS, Official pamphlet, 2008 version: In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes [--> notice the begged question and the clever stand-in for what is really meant, NATURALISTIC] are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. [--> Has anyone seen the actual deep past of origins, or demonstrated the powers of blind watchmaker chance and necessity to create codes, coded molecular data strings expressing algorithms, and associated execution machinery? the powers of similar mechanisms to create novel body plans? NO. Why then pretend that such blind causes have such powers and censor out what we know to be capable of such, design? ANS: Ideology.] If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. Any scientific explanation has to be testable — there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it. Unless a proposed explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially count against it [--> actually a big challenge for darwinist origins science on origin of life and novel body plans, but students and the general public are not told that] , that explanation cannot be subjected to scientific testing. [--> Exactly, and the inference to design as causal process on signs such as FSCO/I is easily tested by setting up situations where blind chance and necessity are allowed to attempt such. For instance monkeys at keyboards experiments, which universally fall well below the 500 bit lower solar system limit for FSCO/I.] [[Science, Evolution and Creationism, 2008, p. 10

    Lewontin, 1997 re Sagan et al: the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[--> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [--> to materialists, the ONLY reality] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [and if you believe the that's quote mined attempted accusatory dismissal, cf the more detailed citation and notes here]

    These are examples of a much wider phenomenon, that perverts even the definition and associated history of science taught in schools, ideologically loading science and turning it into applied materialist philosophy dressed up in a lab coat and pretending to tell us the unquestionable facts, facts, facts about our origins.

    Philip Johnson was fully justified to reply to Lewontin:

    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.]

    KF

  8. As referenced by kf, this is the main false belief under-girding methodological naturalism,,

    “If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. Any scientific explanation has to be testable — there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it.”
    excerpted from – US NAS, Official pamphlet, 2008 version

    Now this is a very interesting belief about science, written apparently by someone with no knowledge of the current state of physics, and without any knowledge as to the unfalsifiable nature of neo-Darwinism.

    Quantum theory survives latest challenge – Dec 15, 2010
    Excerpt: Even assuming that entangled photons could respond to one another instantly, the correlations between polarization states still violated Leggett’s inequality. The conclusion being that instantaneous communication is not enough to explain entanglement and realism must also be abandoned.
    This conclusion is now backed up by Sonja Franke-Arnold and collegues at the University of Glasgow and University of Strathclyde who have performed another experiment showing that entangled photons exhibit,, stronger correlations than allowed for particles with individually defined properties – even if they would be allowed to communicate constantly.
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/ar.....-challenge

    Zeilinger Group – Photons run out of loopholes – April 15, 2013
    http://vcq.quantum.at/research.....s/419.html

    Closing the last Bell-test loophole for photons – Jun 11, 2013
    Excerpt: In the years since, many “Bell tests” have been performed, but critics have identified several conditions (known as loopholes) in which the results could be considered inconclusive. For entangled photons, there have been three major loopholes; two were closed by previous experiments. The remaining problem, known as the “detection-efficiency/fair sampling loophole,” results from the fact that, until now, the detectors employed in experiments have captured an insufficiently large fraction of the photons, and the photon sources have been insufficiently efficient. The validity of such experiments is thus dependent on the assumption that the detected photons are a statistically fair sample of all the photons. That, in turn, leaves open the possibility that, if all the photon data were known, they could be described by local realism.
    The new research, conducted at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Communication in Austria, closes the fair-sampling loophole by using improved photon sources (spontaneous parametric down-conversion in a Sagnac configuration) and ultra-sensitive detectors provided by the Single Photonics and Quantum Information project in PML’s Quantum Electronics and Photonics Division. That combination, the researchers write, was “crucial for achieving a sufficiently high collection efficiency,” resulting in a high-accuracy data set – requiring no assumptions or correction of count rates – that confirmed quantum entanglement to nearly 70 standard deviations.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2013-06-b.....otons.html

    I guess since these physicists have ruled out all possible ‘within nature’ explanations that makes them unscientific according to the arbitrary methodological naturalism rule of neo-Darwinists? Moreover, If neo-Darwinists are truly concerned about falsifiability, they seriously need to look in the mirror at their own theory:

    “On the other hand, I disagree that Darwin’s theory is as `solid as any explanation in science.; Disagree? I regard the claim as preposterous. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to thirteen or so decimal places; so, too, general relativity. A leaf trembling in the wrong way would suffice to shatter either theory. What can Darwinian theory offer in comparison?”
    (Berlinski, D., “A Scientific Scandal?: David Berlinski & Critics,” Commentary, July 8, 2003)

  9. Moreover, it is interesting to note that the dependency of the universe on a ‘non-local’, a transcendent, a beyond space and time, cause provides empirical confirmation for the ancient philosophical/Theistic argument for ‘being’, for ‘existence’, itself!

    Aquinas’ Third way – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V030hvnX5a4

    God Is the Best Explanation For Why Anything At All Exists – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjuqBxg_5mA

    Also of note, in the following video Anton Zeilinger, arguably the best experimentalist in quantum physics today, (tries to) explain the double slit experiment to Morgan Freeman:

    Quantum Mechanics – Double Slit Experiment. Is anything real? (Prof. Anton Zeilinger) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayvbKafw2g0

    Prof. Zeilinger makes this rather startling statement in the preceding video:

    “The path taken by the photon is not an element of reality. We are not allowed to talk about the photon passing through this or this slit. Neither are we allowed to say the photon passes through both slits. All this kind of language is not applicable.”
    Anton Zeilinger

    What is very interesting about the preceding comment by Professor Zeilinger is that it dovetails perfectly into the ‘First Mover’ argument of Aquinas:

    Aquinas’ First Way – (The First Mover – Unmoved Mover) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmpw0_w27As

    Aquinas’ First Way
    1) Change in nature is elevation of potency to act.
    2) Potency cannot actualize itself, because it does not exist actually.
    3) Potency must be actualized by another, which is itself in act.
    4) Essentially ordered series of causes (elevations of potency to act) exist in nature.
    5) An essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act cannot be in infinite regress, because the series must be actualized by something that is itself in act without the need for elevation from potency.
    6) The ground of an essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act must be pure act with respect to the casual series.
    7) This Pure Act– Prime Mover– is what we call God.
    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/.....t-way.html

    Or to put the argument much more simply:

    “The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment.”
    Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....first.html

    Moreover, besides material reality being shown by quantum physics to require a ‘non-local’ beyond space and time, transcendent, cause to explain it continued existence, or even to explain any motion within the universe, the Big Bang itself also demands a ‘non-naturalistic’ explanation. In other words, the cause of Big Bang itself, according to methodological naturalism, cannot be studied by science since its cause does not reside within nature. Which I found to be quite surprising since, through quantum mechanics, I did a (very) limited study on what could possibly be the cause of the Big Bang and did not find myself to be hampered in the least:

    Quantum Evidence for a Theistic Big Bang
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1agaJIWjPWHs5vtMx5SkpaMPbantoP471k0lNBUXg0Xo/edit

    All of which puts Methodological Naturalism in quite the pickle.,,

  10. Moreover, Einstein himself held what could rightly be termed a ‘methodological naturalism’ view of science when he himself made his self admitted ‘biggest blunder’ in science. Albert Einstein (1879-1955), when he was shown his general relativity equation indicated a universe that was unstable and would ‘draw together’ under its own gravity,,,

    Einstein and The Belgian Priest, George Lemaitre – The “Father” Of The Big Bang Theory – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4279662

    ,, added a cosmological constant to his equation to reflect a stable, self sustaining, universe rather than entertain the thought that the universe had a beginning. Einstein ended up calling the cosmological constant, that he had added to his equation, the ‘biggest blunder’ of his life.

    Cosmological constant
    Excerpt: Einstein included the cosmological constant as a term in his field equations for general relativity because he was dissatisfied that otherwise his equations did not allow, apparently, for a static universe: gravity would cause a universe which was initially at dynamic equilibrium to contract. To counteract this possibility, Einstein added the cosmological constant.[1] However, soon after Einstein developed his static theory, observations by Edwin Hubble indicated that the universe appears to be expanding; this was consistent with a cosmological solution to the original general-relativity equations that had been found by the mathematician Friedmann, working on the Einstein equations of general-relatvity. Einstein later referred to his failure to accept the validaton of his equations; when they had predicted the expansion of the universe in theory, before it was demonstrated in observation of the cosmological red shift, as the “biggest blunder” of his life.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C.....nt#History

    Einstein’s Greatest Blunder – The Cosmological Constant
    “Much later, when I was discussing cosmological problems with Einstein, he remarked that the introduction of the cosmological term was the biggest blunder of his life.”
    — George Gamow, My World Line, 1970
    http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/~jpl/cosmo/blunder.html

    David Berlinski at “Socrates in the City” speaking on ‘Einstein’s Blunder’ – podcast
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....4_17-07_00

    Thus, methodological naturalism, in its most famous employment in science, is found to be one of ‘the biggest blunders’ of science!

    Verse and music:

    Acts 17:28
    ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

    Evanescence – The Other Side (Lyric Video)
    http://www.vevo.com/watch/evan.....tantsearch

  11. They may grizzle and taunt you, Philip, but those quotes from scripture and jolly, musical links must drive them up the wall. Your kind of mockery is immeasurably more effective than palpable expressions of rancour.

  12. To be candid with you, Philip, the sight of another musical link almost drive me up the wall…!

  13. Well by golly Axel, we’ll turn you into the amazing Spiderman yet:

    The Amazing Spiderman
    http://images5.fanpop.com/imag.....0-1024.jpg

    Listen To The Sound – Building 429
    http://myktis.com/songs/listen-to-the-sound/

    He Is With Us – Love & The Outcome
    http://myktis.com/songs/he-is-with-us/

  14. I’m not sure where we’re disagreeing.

  15. The post says:

    Francis defended 4 by pointing out that most of the key ID theorists are Christians. He writes “…the four fathers of the ID movement—Johnson, Dembski, Behe and Meyer—are all Christians. They all, presumably, believe the intelligent designer to be the God of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, despite their insistence that this is not inferred from the detection of design.” I pointed out that this is an irrelevance. If an ID proponent were to adopt such bad reasoning, they could easily point out that many key neo-Darwinists are atheists.

    Does everyone here think the atheism of neo-Darwinists is “irrelevant?” It doesn’t sound like it, we all seem to agree that the religious and metaphysical assumptions of these proponents are very relevant. ID apologetics, including BA’s and KF’s, are grounded on the idea that scientific naturalism is a kind of religious belief.

  16. Quite contraire, I hold ‘scientific naturalism/methodological naturalism’ to be an oxymoron, especially in the face of advances in science. That atheists are the ones who most adamantly peddle this tripe as an ironclade rule of science is an interesting side-light but is, your false accusations aside, quite irrelevant to fact that it is ‘not even wrong’ as a proper method of practicing science.

  17. Does everyone here think the atheism of neo-Darwinists is “irrelevant?”

    If one believes in a certain view of t he world, then one has to support things that are consistent with that belief or else there is internal conflict. So an atheist has to believe in some form of naturalistic evolution. This does not mean that life as we see it must have arisen naturalistically for the atheist. It could have been intelligently designed.

    But the intelligence that designed our form of life must have arisen naturalistically. The best example of this is Dawkin’s comment in Expelled.

    Does it mean that the atheist must be a Neo Darwinist? N0!! If some other naturalistic mechanism showed promise, they would abandon Darwin’s ideas in a moment. So the only reason they are currently wed to Neo Darwinism is the lack of any alternative. It is embarrassing for them. They have a theory without any empirical support but must currently defend it at all costs.

    Atheists are not the only ones wed to bad science because of ideological beliefs.

  18. If some other naturalistic mechanism showed promise, they would abandon Darwin’s ideas in a moment. So the only reason they are currently wed to Neo Darwinism is the lack of any alternative.

    In your opinion, why is this a problem?

  19. In your opinion, why is this a problem?

    It promotes bad science and faulty thinking and substitutes nonsense for good thinking.

    In your opinion why is adherence to Neo Darwinism (or whatever its latest iteration is) not a problem?

  20. I mean, why is it a problem that one abandons ideas in a moment, and sticks with what one has because there’s no alternative? All of science is abandoning ideas and taking up new ones, it provides no certainty, and it never has the metaphysically “correct” answer, at least as long as it’s grounded in methodological naturalism. Absolutely true, eternal facts cannot be proven or disproven.

    I guess my broader point is that everything you say about atheists can be turned around and said about theists. So, a theist “has to believe” in some form of supernatural evolution. Thus, theists have no superior moral claim to the philosophy of science, because they are just as wedded to a worldview as atheists.

    And then the issue we have is solipsism, or at least the idea that worldviews make it impossible for people to agree on the objective nature of reality.

  21. Insofar as science can inform us about reality and provide certainty about reality, and one is willing to accept that certainty, science has unambiguously delivered us to the door of Theism and has shattered any misplaced hope atheists had in a materialistic reality.

    the argument for God from consciousness can be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect):
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

    One can argue that science may someday advance to the point of overturning the current state of our knowledge in science that confirms Theism, which I hold to be a severely misplaced belief considering the 70 standard deviations to which quantum ‘non-locality’ is verified, but then you will have to give up any claim that science can inform any argument you wish to make in a debate and would have to retreat into ‘my opinion is more true than your opinion’ form of argumentation. And frankly I don’t care what anyone elses opinion is if they can’t back it up empirically!

  22. Insofar as science can inform us about reality and provide certainty about reality

    My whole point is that science doesn’t provide any certainty about reality. Only religion does.

    And frankly I don’t care what anyone elses opinion is if they can’t back it up empirically!

    We’ve been over this before, your (rather singular) assertion that consciousness precedes matter makes all of the assumptions of empiricism invalid.

  23. So, a theist “has to believe” in some form of supernatural evolution.

    Do they? A theist may believe that evolution occurred but not know the mechanism behind it. It may not be important how evolution occurred to some theist. I am one of those theists.

    I once believed in Darwinian evolution but began investigating the issues and now think Darwinian processes are nonsense. I am open to some other form of naturalistic evolution mechanism if it makes sense. But it seems improbable that there is one but we all can be proven wrong.

    My religious beliefs have not changed one iota in all this time so maybe evolution has nothing to do with theism for some. From believing in Darwin to believing it is bogus has not affected anything in terms of religion. It has made me upset at those who impose Darwinian nonsense on the masses. One of the unfair things in life, that one should try to correct.

  24. @23

    It may not be important how evolution occurred to some theist. I am one of those theists.

    I think you have perfectly valid beliefs, but honestly I think this is a dodge of the general issue. ID makes the positive claim that a designer is required, can be objectively determined to exist. At this point, everyone agrees that the designer must be supernatural, otherwise ID becomes implausible and its exclusion of the designer’s methods is not sustainable.

    From believing in Darwin to believing it is bogus has not affected anything in terms of religion. It has made me upset at those who impose Darwinian nonsense on the masses.

    While everyone finds Dawkins annoying, I’m not sure he’s actually being “imposed” on anyone. Francis cites Dembski saying basically what you do:

    But once science is taken as the only universally valid form of knowledge within a culture, it follows that methodological and metaphysical naturalism become functionally equivalent. What needs to be done, therefore, is to break the grip of naturalism in both guises, methodological and metaphysical.

    The problem is that Dembski and Philip Johnson don’t actually try to prove that methodological and metaphysical naturalism are the same thing, or that science or scientists are metaphysically naturalistic, it’s just a bare assertion with no evidence.

    Contra Dembski, it’s plainly obvious to me that science is not the only universally valid form of knowledge in our culture. But this is an interesting assertion, how many of you would agree with it?

  25. sigaba,

    My whole point is that science doesn’t provide any certainty about reality.

    And your blatantly fallacious opinion is suppose matter to me why exactly?

  26. And your blatantly fallacious opinion is suppose matter to me why exactly?

    We’re just talking. Maybe I was a little too brief, I should have said “science doesn’t provide ‘absolute certainty’ about reality.” I can be reasonably certain the sun will rise tomorrow, but given the nature of the question, I can only be absolutely certain there was or wasn’t a designer.

    I can be reasonably certain there isn’t, because we don’t know the designer’s identity, his processes, nor have any objective evidence he does anything, aside from absence of evidence for anything else. But, if these arguments are excluded from consideration, then the designer’s existence is a strictly metaphysical proposition.

  27. As to your accusation of my ‘rather singular’ assertion for consciousness preceding material reality. In my lonesome ‘rather singular’ assertion is some fairly good company:

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    Max Planck – The Father Of Quantum Mechanics – Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944)(Of Note: Max Planck Planck was a devoted Christian from early life to death, was a churchwarden from 1920 until his death, and believed in an almighty, all-knowing, beneficent God.

    “No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
    (Max Planck, as cited in de Purucker, Gottfried. 1940. The Esoteric Tradition. California: Theosophical University Press, ch. 13).

    “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”
    (Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.)

    “It will remain remarkable, in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the scientific conclusion that the content of the consciousness is the ultimate universal reality” -
    Eugene Wigner – (Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in Wheeler and Zurek, p.169) 1961 – received Nobel Prize in 1963 for ‘Quantum Symmetries’

    Quantum mind–body problem
    Parallels between quantum mechanics and mind/body dualism were first drawn by the founders of quantum mechanics including Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, Niels Bohr, and Eugene Wigner
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....dy_problem

    The Action of Mind on Brain – Dr. Henry Stapp – video (The summary is at the 43 minute mark and then a few minutes of Q&A)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....6I#t=2593s
    Stapp received his PhD in particle physics at the University of California, Berkeley, under the supervision of Nobel Laureates Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain.,, Stapp moved to ETH Zurich to do post-doctoral work under Wolfgang Pauli.,, When Pauli died in 1958, Stapp transferred to Munich, then in the company of Werner Heisenberg.

    Logical Proofs of Infinite External Consciousness – January 18, 2012
    Excerpt: (Proof # 2) If you believe in the theory of Quantum Mechanics, then you believe that conscious observation must be present to collapse a wave function. If consciousness did not exist prior to matter coming into existence, then it is impossible that matter could ever come into existence. Additionally, this rules out the possibility that consciousness is the result of quantum mechanical processes. Either consciousness existed before matter or QM is wrong, one or the other is indisputably true.
    http://www.libertariannews.org.....ciousness/

    Twenty-one more famous Nobel Prize winners who rejected Darwinism as an account of consciousness – Dr. VJ Torley – April 2012
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ciousness/

  28. Yeah BA, I think you’re one of those people that listens to physicists as if they actually know anything about the mind or theology. They don’t, and many of their ideas are dangerous heterodoxies that are incompatible with Christian faith — a lot of this stuff is mystical, relativist, pagan nonsense. Little more than Plotinus with a supercollider.

    Is your comma key stuck?

  29. sigaba,

    What no apology for your false accusation of ‘rather singular’ assertion? Dang and I thought you might have an ounce of integrity in you! Funny, it seems you are the only one who finds their (quantum physicists) work contrary to your position, whereas I’m quite comfortable with the finding of consciousness having a primary position in reality rather than material having it. Go figure! Moreover I can be absolutely certain there is a God because without Him it would be impossible to have certainty about anything yet I am certain about many things, like for instance I, and other minds, exist:

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

    Physicalism and Reason – May 2013
    Summary: So we find ourselves affirming two contradictory propositions:
    1. Everything is governed by cause-and-effect.
    2. Our brains can process and be changed by ground-consequent logical relationships.
    To achieve consistency, we must either deny that everything is governed by cause-and-effect, and open our worldviews to something beyond physicalism, or we must deny that our brains are influenced by ground-consequence reasoning, and abandon the idea that we are rational creatures.
    Ask yourself: are humans like falling dominoes, entirely subject to natural law, or may we stand up and walk in the direction that reason shows us?
    http://www.reasonsforgod.org/2.....nd-reason/

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

    Content and Natural Selection – Alvin Plantinga – 2011
    http://www.andrewmbailey.com/a.....ection.pdf

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

    Why No One (Can) Believe Atheism/Naturalism to be True – video
    Excerpt: “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”
    Richard Dawkins – quoted from “The God Delusion”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4QFsKevTXs

  30. you have perfectly valid beliefs, but honestly I think this is a dodge of the general issue.

    I give an honest answer and it is a dodge. No it is not a dodge. The only honest answer is that it is a mystery. I think you should stop judging motives and ask questions instead.

    ID makes the positive claim that a designer is required, can be objectively determined to exist.

    No!! The answer is that it is highly likely that certain things were designed. And the logical implication of this is that at some time there was an intelligence that did the designing. Not much is known about this intelligence.

    At this point, everyone agrees that the designer must be supernatural, otherwise ID becomes implausible and its exclusion of the designer’s methods is not sustainable.

    That does not necessarily follow from any reasoning that I know of. Someone may think this is a likely scenario but it certainly is not the only one. There may be a thousand ways to design a cell or an organism or even to create a universe. I have no idea nor does anyone else.

    At this point I love to send people to one of my favorite Asimov short stories:

    http://filer.case.edu/dts8/thelastq.htm

    While everyone finds Dawkins annoying, I’m not sure he’s actually being “imposed” on anyone.

    Who said anything about Dawkins? I was talking about the academic community which imposes the belief on students through the curriculum.

  31. I’m quite comfortable with the finding of consciousness having a primary position in reality

    Too comfortable, really. A featherbed of self-worship and deism without having to depend on the testimony of that pesky Bible. Who needs that old thing when QM provides a scripture all its own, right?

  32. I’m still curious to hear what people think of the question at the end of @24:

    Contra Dembski, it’s plainly obvious to me that science is not the only universally valid form of knowledge in our culture. But this is an interesting assertion, how many of you would agree with it?

  33. Contra Dembski, it’s plainly obvious to me that science is not the only universally valid form of knowledge in our culture. But this is an interesting assertion, how many of you would agree with it?

    We have a hard time defining science so to say that one has knowledge outside of it is silly. Every day I go my way and learn something. I learned yesterday that the person sitting next to me in the doctor’s office was a teacher and taught children of a friend of mine. That is certainly knowledge but is it science?

    When Sherlock Holmes comes to a conclusion based on data he already knew, is the conclusion science? It certainly is new knowledge. Science? Maybe, maybe not.

    We could go on and on with how we acquire knowledge. Is the acquiring of knowledge, science? Is that how we would define science? That would be an interesting OP.

  34. Here is a fascinating discussion of science, called “Is Science Marketing.”

    http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~ws.....keting.htm

    I taught Marketing for a few years this article used to be one of my favorites. Is everything we do, marketing?

  35. Well sigaba, you are the one who stated:

    I can be reasonably certain there isn’t (a Designer),

    I’m just pointing out, at this present moment, that quantum physics is now telling us, to an almost absurd level of certainty (70 standard deviations), that mind takes precedence over matter. This is certainly not conducive to your assertion that ‘I can be reasonably certain there isn’t (a Designer)’. I have further evidence that brings all this in line with Christianity,,,

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-469536

    ,,, but suffice it for now to simply undermine any ‘certainty’ you think you can have in atheistic naturalism:

  36. That does not necessarily follow from any reasoning that I know of. Someone may think this is a likely scenario but it certainly is not the only one.

    The problem is that questions of the method and identity of the designer are not considered naturalistic. IDEA is quite clear on the issue:

    The mere presence of CSI does not tell us anything about the identity of the designer. The fact that ID does not identify the designer is only because of epistemological limitations of the scope of this scientific theory. This question is thus left as a religious or philosophical question outside the scope of intelligent design theory.

    Emphasis mine. ID is a scientific theory that can prove a metaphysical proposition. This is why Dembski et al. believe that the philosophy of science must be changed for ID to be considered valid science. Some may think one thing or the other, but the admissibility of any supernatural cause is enough to require redefining science.

    No such limitation exists for any other science. We don’t know “how” gravity works, but we don’t impose the claim that it’s undiscoverable or we’re epistemologically restricted from knowing the cause. It’s a completely arbitrary limitation, selected to keep the scientistic aspects of ID away from the religious doctrines of the proponents.

    I was talking about the academic community which imposes the belief on students through the curriculum.

    But science curriculum isn’t atheistic or metaphysical, that what ID proponents would have you believe, but their argument comes down to a false premise, namely, the unity of methodological and metaphysical naturalism.

  37. Here in TN, they have taken steps though new legislation to allow creationism back into the classroom. This law turns the clock back nearly 100 years here in the seemingly unprogressive South and is simply embarrassing. There is no argument against the Theory of Evolution other than that of religious doctrine. The Monkey Law only opens the door for fanatic Christianity to creep its way back into our classrooms. You can see my visual response as a Tennessean to this absurd law on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.....da-in.html with some evolutionary art and a little bit of simple logic.

  38. “There is no argument against the Theory of Evolution other than that of religious doctrine.”

    Interesting opinion, but severely misinformed:

    Revisiting the Central Dogma in the 21st Century – James A. Shapiro – 2009
    Excerpt (Page 12): Underlying the central dogma and conventional views of genome evolution was the idea that the genome is a stable structure that changes rarely and accidentally by chemical fluctuations (106) or replication errors. This view has had to change with the realization that maintenance of genome stability is an active cellular function and the discovery of numerous dedicated biochemical systems for restructuring DNA molecules.(107–110) Genetic change is almost always the result of cellular action on the genome. These natural processes are analogous to human genetic engineering,,, (Page 14) Genome change arises as a consequence of natural genetic engineering, not from accidents. Replication errors and DNA damage are subject to cell surveillance and correction. When DNA damage correction does produce novel genetic structures, natural genetic engineering functions, such as mutator polymerases and nonhomologous end-joining complexes, are involved. Realizing that DNA change is a biochemical process means that it is subject to regulation like other cellular activities. Thus, we expect to see genome change occurring in response to different stimuli (Table 1) and operating nonrandomly throughout the genome, guided by various types of intermolecular contacts (Table 1 of Ref. 112).
    http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.ed.....0Dogma.pdf

  39. Pip pip everybody, I do hope you are well and that life is dishing out the good stuff to each and all.

    I have been following this thread from the edge of my seat as you chaps and chapettes have slugged it out with the usual, commendable vigor. Here a good point, there a natty counter-punch. I’m not sure that I totally agree with all of the reasoning, but I appreciate listening to all the viewpoints, and no doubt a;; lack of comprehension lies firmly and squarely with me.

    There was a small question mark that flickered through my head though. It was just as I was tucking into a custard cream biscuit that it occurred to me, and perhaps, comrade Sigaba, you could answer this one for me.

    - Since the kingdom of Science positively buzzes with the feverish energy of many of the biggest brains in the world and they can come up with downright splendid experiments to detect remarkable wossnames like the Higgs Bosons and even multiple universes … why is it not possible for them to come up with a way to try and detect deliberate design? -

    Please do not think I am being funny with my question comrade Sigaba. I appreciate many blogs contain persons who evidently were indulged too much as children and are much to cock-a-hoot for the decency of humankind. I am not one of these. I merely ask you as you seem to take the, let us say, not-so-pro side of the ID argument. You also have the laudable habit of tempered speech. I respect your approach and your opinion.

    Of course, everyone else is welcome to answer this question, though I realise that all in favour of ID will naturally say that Scientists already have come up with a way to test for deliberate design. I see your reasoning and it sounds fair enough to me. I just wanted to know the reasons why those not so well disposed to ID think that Science is stymied when it comes to thinking up a good experiment for design detection.

    By the way, I am sorry if my question makes me look a complete ass. I am undoubtedly not as well informed as everyone else here. But one must not be fearful of looking a fool if one wishes to gain sound answers what?

  40. By the way, I am sorry if my question makes me look a complete ass.

    It is an excellent question. And I am sure there will be a lots of caveats with the answer from the non-ID people. For example, they will probably want to identify the probable designer as part of the process. Unless that can be done, then they will say what is detected as design now can not be used as detection of design before humans appeared. They will have many other excuses. For example, some have even wanted to know the exact methods used by the hypothetical designer.

  41. sigaba:

    At this point, everyone agrees that the designer must be supernatural, otherwise ID becomes implausible and its exclusion of the designer’s methods is not sustainable.

    There are those who have and do frequent this forum who do not believe the designer is supernatural, much less must be supernatural. So, your assertion is easily disproved.

    As to the sustainability of limits placed on scientific pursuits, Darwinists seem perfectly capable of excluding OOL questions from discussion without any need to appeal to the supernatural. I’m pretty sure ID can manage in a similar fashion.

  42. Thanks Pinehas, for saying what I was thinking.

    sigaba,

    It might do you good to go back to some of the threads from previous years on here where we’ve discussed the meaning of “supernatural” and it’s lack of clarity as a term when dealing with issues of metaphysics. Atheists mean an entirely different thing with the word “supernatural” than do theists, generally speaking. So to use it as a blanket term in the manner of those who salivate in the “flying spaghetti-monster” cult, is to display some ignorance of what theists mean. When we speak of God, we do so as if He exists. As such, what God has His hands in, is therefore not “supernatural,” but transcendant. It is the force or being necessary for nature. Nature does not have any rhyme or reason without that transcendance.

    I’m not certain if you are a theist. If you are, try to imagine that God wills nature a certain way. It is not nature that wills God. God is thus the transcendant ruler of nature. As such, nature ought to be able to tell us something about God – as limited as it might be. Nature can’t really tell us divine truths, but it can tell us that a designer (like God) is necessary for nature to exist as we see it. That does not require belief in the supernatural whatsoever. Theism involves more than the miraculous. This is why some of the pioneers of modern science were theists; maintaining their faith while doing science.

    ID theorists are for the most part Christian for good reason. But ID can make sense to an agnostic or even an atheist. It doesn’t require that God exist. But it becomes more reasonable in light of input from theology, philosophy, etc., that God exists.

    BTW, I have no idea where those previous discussions are. Someone might want to point some of them out.

  43. … why is it not possible for them to come up with a way to try and detect deliberate design?

    Can they detect non-deliberate design?

  44. Since the kingdom of Science positively buzzes with the feverish energy of many of the biggest brains in the world and they can come up with downright splendid experiments to detect remarkable wossnames like the Higgs Bosons and even multiple universes … why is it not possible for them to come up with a way to try and detect deliberate design?

    Design is an aesthetic quality, it’s something people see in human creations, and we can only relate to it in human terms. We find a vase in the ground, or a watch in a field, and conclude that a human made it, because we know what humans are and what they’re capable of. We don’t know what the designer of the cell is, or what it’s capable of, so claims of design in nature are only possible through analogies to human designs.

    IDEA gives an interesting rationalization for this:

    To claim we really only understand human “ordinary” design and thus cannot look for non-human design in biology (“rarefied design”) ignores the fact that specified complexity is a fundamental product of all forms of intelligent design–be they human-produced or non-human-produced; biological or non-biological.

    The problem is that specified complexity requires subjective judgement of design, and analogy to human design, in order to determine its presence, so this argument is circular*. It’s not clear that such a thing as a “rarefied” or objective, universal design is a valid concept, or just casuistry.

    * Unless we have some new definition of specified complexity that’s objective and algorithmic.

    As such, what God has His hands in, is therefore not “supernatural,” but transcendant. It is the force or being necessary for nature. Nature does not have any rhyme or reason without that transcendance.

    I appreciate the transcendent argument as a justification of faith, but if someone doesn’t believe in God, the transcendent argument is meaningless and effectively supernatural, or rather preternatural. The transcendent argument requires either the presupposition of God or the presupposition of the inerrancy of scripture. My use of supernatural simply means non-repeatable, non-falsifiable and non-empirical. Non-natural things are certainly real, but so is beauty, and moral good, and science does not address the existence of any of these, either.

  45. “An intelligent agent made this thing” is a perfectly good scientific theory. But if a testable hypothesis is to be derived from it, it needs to make a differential prediction. That means that the postulated agent needs to be constrained in some way.

    It is impossible to test the theory that the intelligent agent was an agent that could do anything at all.

  46. Is There Evidence of Something Beyond Nature? – (Semiotic Information) – John Lennox – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6rd4HEdffw

    the materialistic argument essentially appears to be like this:

    Premise One: No materialistic cause of specified complex information is known.
    Conclusion: Therefore, it must arise from some unknown materialistic cause

    On the other hand, Stephen Meyer describes the intelligent design argument as follows:

    “Premise One: Despite a thorough search, no material causes have been discovered that demonstrate the power to produce large amounts of specified information.
    “Premise Two: Intelligent causes have demonstrated the power to produce large amounts of specified information.
    “Conclusion: Intelligent design constitutes the best, most causally adequate, explanation for the information in the cell.”

    There remains one and only one type of cause that has shown itself able to create functional information like we find in cells, books and software programs — intelligent design. We know this from our uniform experience and from the design filter — a mathematically rigorous method of detecting design. Both yield the same answer. (William Dembski and Jonathan Witt, Intelligent Design Uncensored: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to the Controversy, p. 90 (InterVarsity Press, 2010).)

    “Our experience-based knowledge of information-flow confirms that systems with large amounts of specified complexity (especially codes and languages) invariably originate from an intelligent source from a mind or personal agent.”
    (Stephen C. Meyer, “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 117(2):213-239 (2004).)

    Stephen Meyer – The Scientific Basis for the Intelligent Design Inference – video
    http://vimeo.com/32148403

    Response to Darrel Falk’s Review of Signature in the Cell – Stephen Meyer
    Excerpt: The central argument of my book is that intelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past. First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form). Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power. Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question.
    http://www.signatureinthecell......l-falk.php

  47. Thank you for responding so promptly Sigaba, jolly decent of you.

    You have stated your point of view admirably. Concise, straightforward and even-handed. What is more, I think I see your angle. We know what humans can do just by glancing out of the parlour window, but that doesn’t in any way let us know what other agents are capable of, per se.

    Whilst I agree with the basic premise, or nub, of that point of view, it does leave me wondering about aliens. Let me explain myself.

    Suppose in the future we humans get all Star Trek-y (and I hope we do) and begin zipping about the galaxy and landing on planets. One day we park our spacemobile on a planet and discover the oddest thing. We appear to have beached our merry car party smack in the middle of what looks like a city. It appears to be populated with what certainly look like buildings with staircases and the like and from above something along the lines of a grid system of roads weave between all the buildings. There is, however no life about.

    After a preliminary, and most understable, round of high-fiving, one of the crew says “Coo! We have finally found the remains of another civilization.” Another person says “Gosh!” But then the Captain says. “Steady on now peeps, you are merely using an argument from analogy. We have no idea what the designer of this place is, nor what it is capable of. This place is a natural wonder.”

    Nobody thanks him. He’s ruined their excitement. The problem is nobody can actually argue since he is quite right. They are being a little subjective with their conclusions. Yet, some of them still think it is evidence of a former civilization. But just how can they conclude that it is designed?

    Do you understand where I am coming from Sigaba? I have probably not expressed it all that well, and no doubt have made a few blunders, but you get the gist. And I’m sure others have expressed the same query much better than I have, but I can’t find the right links.

    Once again thanks for your response Sigaba. I hope you don’t mind my follow up.

    Kind regards.

  48. Design is purposefully directed contingency, and is detectable from its traces. Much as fire investigators routinely identify arson as different from an ordinary fire, even before suspects are listed.

  49. Aha! Kairofocus, pleased to make your acquaintance. I have enjoyed many of your posts and now I get to get to say hallo to you.

    You have defined design beautifully there. Hard to fault that definition and example.

    Of course, we experience design every day and are very familiar with its hallmarks, and they have been elucidated with great panache by those of the ID persuasion. I follow the logic of specified complexity and it seems as watertight as a good submarine. However, it appears there is significant opposition to the conclusions of intelligent design. The back rooms of great universities thrum to the mutterings of professors saying “Intelligent Design? Pah! Utter blither and nonsense. Hogwash of the first order. Bally creationists!”

    Now, I confess that I find myself scratching my noggin when I here such remarks. Intelligent Design seems fairly straight-forward as an idea. It also seems to me something that Science shouldn’t have the slightest problem testing for. But I have been wrong on many things before and thus ask the questions I do.

    Regarding the above alien civilization scenario, I would be inclined to perceive design, no doubt like yourself Kairofocus. In fact one would imagine everybody would draw the same conclusion in a mere flicker of an eyelid. However, that doesn’t mean my assumption would necessarily be on the mark. That is why I put the story to our friend Sigaba. Sigaba always tries to offer a balanced answer and is manifestly a lucid and cogent lady/gentleman. I am always seeking to see the other persons point of view, provided I am not getting on their nerves. Like most people, I ask these questions because I want the truth, which I trust most sincerely is the motive of the majority.

    Once again, good to make your acquaintance Kairofocus. Thank you all for letting me comment here.

  50. Hello Mung, how do you do?

    You are right. My comment about deliberate design is a bit of a literary oddity. The odd thing though, is that I once heard a debate in which the fellow arguing against intelligent design (I think it was Michael Shermer, though I could be wrong) started his gambit with the statement that “Nobody denies that things are designed but…”

    So this would leave the, undoubtedly intelligent debater (Dr Shermer I am sorry if it wasn’t you), in the position of accepting design as being non-deliberate. A novel concept.

  51. Hey-ho Elizabeth Liddle. A pleasure to make your acquaintance also. I frequently look forward to your remarks. Another person who can maintain civilized discourse with those of a different opinion.

    Thank you for your comment about an intelligent agent being an acceptable scientific proposal if certain criteria are met. There have been some who have left me a spot confused in other parts of the blogosphere. They have behaved in what appeared to me as manner akin to a mental contortionist in an attempt to bar design in any form entering the arena.

    May I say though Elizabeth (I see others call you Lizzie; do you prefer that?) that I do not judge those who accept a purely materialist approach by the unusual comments of others.

    Would you allow me to rephrase your last sentence so that I can get some clarity on your position Elizabeth?

    “It is impossible to test a theory that matter and energy could do anything at all.”

    Please do not mistake my meaning. I am not trying to put any words in your mouth. That would be a low and dirty abomination on my part. My reason for tweaking your sentence is this.

    If Matter and Energy are all that exist, then they have done everything we marvel at in the universe. All by themselves too. They would appear to be capable of almost anything when we consider the brilliance of their accomplishments.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. As I say…a pleasure to speak with you.

  52. And last but not least.

    Thank you Jerry for you kind response. Nice to meet you.

    I shall now try and wire my jaw shut and just listen some more.

  53. “An intelligent agent made this thing” is a perfectly good scientific theory. But if a testable hypothesis is to be derived from it, it needs to make a differential prediction. That means that the postulated agent needs to be constrained in some way.

    It is impossible to test the theory that the intelligent agent was an agent that could do anything at all.

    Lizzie, can I ask a question? This is genuine, without malice or snide intent.

    A hypothetical. An archaeologist digging in a remote desert comes across an object. It has a fluted urn shape and some kind of staining around it that looks like some beast.

    The archaeologist, knowing enough about geology, understands that it is unlikely for a dirt/water colloidal suspension to form this shape without the input from some intelligent source. And further unlikely that it would harden and have stain applied upon it’s surface. Because of this the archaeologist deems that, beyond reasonable doubt, this is most likely an artifact formed by some designer. Currently the archaeologist doesn’t know to what people the designer belonged, nor who the designer might have been.

    At this point the archaeologist sets out to discover those unknowns by analyzing the artifact itself, collecting more samples in the same area, seeing if similar methods of creation are found in the other artifacts, etc.

    My question at this point would ask; do you find this as a credible form of inquiry? If yes, why is ID theory not an acceptable form of inquiry? If no, does this not invalidate the likes of forensics?

  54. After a preliminary, and most understable, round of high-fiving, one of the crew says “Coo! We have finally found the remains of another civilization.” Another person says “Gosh!” But then the Captain says. “Steady on now peeps, you are merely using an argument from analogy. We have no idea what the designer of this place is, nor what it is capable of. This place is a natural wonder.”

    (As a hypothetical I don’t think you could take anything I said, or anyone else said to the bank. As I said before this question is fundamentally political and you can’t take the mindset and worldview of a space traveller 500 years in the future as read, and these are relevant, there’s no ideal way of looking at this.)

    The most proper starting position would be that we don’t know if someone created your city or not. We have a lot of experience with sentient beings, though, being ones ourselves, and if we saw a lot of things that reek of us, like straight lines and mathematical regularity (as opposed to complexity), it’d be a reasonable surmise.

    But that’s just the start! By looking at the work we’d be able to come to pretty reasonable conclusions about the people that did it, how they did it, how long ago they did it, what the purpose of certain structures was, and so on. We’d also likely find the remains of the builders somewhere, their means of sustenance on the planet, and the reason they no longer occupied the city. We could never be certain about our conclusions but we could come to reasonable guesses that would be developed over time.

    The problem with ID is that all of these second steps are ruled out, and this makes the first surmise little more than an untested (and untestable) hypothesis. I could present a slightly different scenario, where our astro-men land on a planet and find large stone monoliths in the shape of crosses, and several of our crew demand the planet be venerated as Jesus’s home planet (they’re Mormons). These among the crew argue with the doubters occasionally and get nowhere, because their arguments are teleological and presumptive, so they spend most of their time writing their congressman to get space law changed to get Intelligent Mineralogy taught in high school classrooms, which is not religious, except for the fact that it admits deities as the only plausible explanation for most of the phenomena we see.

    When a student asks if we can ever discover who actually created the monoliths, he’s told that the teacher is forbidden to discuss it in detail or recommend any particular explanation, as it’s philosophical and cannot be determined by any known means.

    KF-

    Design is purposefully directed contingency, and is detectable from its traces. Much as fire investigators routinely identify arson as different from an ordinary fire, even before suspects are listed.

    You’re not finding the difference between fire and arson, you’re using a fire to prove arson exists, and even better, that a spiritual being is the only plausible arsonist.

  55. sigaba:

    The problem with ID is that all of these second steps are ruled out, and this makes the first surmise little more than an untested (and untestable) hypothesis.

    This is simply not true. ID does not rule out any of these “second steps.” On the contrary, ID is fully prepared to recognize them as perfectly acceptable scientific pursuits. They are simply not addressed by ID itself, which is specifically targeted at design detection.

    I don’t know why Darwinists seem to struggle so mightily with this concept while at the same time admitting that evolution doesn’t address OOL issues. Does this mean that evolution “rules out” the study of OOL issues or otherwise prevents it in any way?

    But will we see someone show consistency by either dropping this ridiculous allegation against ID or applying the same standard to Darwinism? Keep watching, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  56. Thank you Sigaba for taking the time to deal with my little futuristic adventure. Your comment about Jesus home planet tickled my ribs. Full marks for that one. The disturbing thing is that somebody probably would posit that as an explanation. It would get a following too, no doubt.

    “As a hypothetical I don’t think you could take anything I said, or anyone else said to the bank.”

    Dashed good of you to behave so modestly here Sigaba. This is what makes a debate and understanding flow. My hat is off to you.

    “The most proper starting position would be that we don’t know if someone created your city or not”

    There is a lot to be said in favour of this approach, though some more educated than I may argue that the proper approach is to go with ones intuition and start with the idea of the city being designed but be open to finding natural explanations. For myself, I would be happy with both approaches as after a little fossicking around both should come to the correct conclusion if the evidence is clear enough.

    “We have a lot of experience with sentient beings, though, being ones ourselves, and if we saw a lot of things that reek of us, like straight lines and mathematical regularity (as opposed to complexity), it’d be a reasonable surmise.”

    You have struck the nail squarely upon the head, as far as I can tell Sigaba. Mind you, I am not too certain of the distinctions and nuances of complexity and mathematical regularities to pass comment on that bit. Your observation about our experience with sentient beings would appear true enough. It is this bit, I think that ID proponents are getting at. When we look at creatures we see a host of mechanical arrangements which we are trying to mimic. We recognize what they are, but as we squint at them we realise they are a lot better than our attempts. And some molecukar biologists say that we have found motors, gears, editing software etc inside the cell.

    I think that they would say that, if not reeking, there is a least a whiff of an odour about these things which remind us of our own endeavours. Be that via an analogy or quite literally true. Is it reasonable then to allow the pursuit of an investigation of things which smell, even faintly, of sentient activity.

    Of course there are those who would try to barge down the metaphysical door if even a crack is allowed to appear. Could this be at least some of the reason for the objection to intelligent design theories? The pursuit of investigation would surely be the surest way to eliminate intelligent design from the Science arena, wouldn’t it?

    Sigaba, I am most appreciative of your time and decorum in dealing with me. Thank you. I shall retreat now as I do not wish to hijack this post. I tend to waffle to much if I’m not careful. Please feel free to have the last word though. I have asked for your thoughts and it is only proper that you should have the concluding remarks.

    Maybe someone else could continue the discussion of this point if they wish. If they do, may they follow Sigaba’s fine example in tolerant discussion.

    Adieu to all.

  57. This is simply not true. ID does not rule out any of these “second steps.” On the contrary, ID is fully prepared to recognize them as perfectly acceptable scientific pursuits.

    Several authorities are coy on this issue, and the textbooks on the matter say a lot of things, but let’s take your side.

    I guess my problem with this is that it’s a bare rhetorical fig leaf without any substantiation. There are no ID investigations on the how, or who, while there are certainly naturalistic (if not specifically ‘Darwinian’) investigations into the OOL. The problem with setting the demarcation where you have it is you exclude all lines of novel empirical evidence — it becomes little more than a philosophical veneer or interpretation of existing knowledge while adding no new observations, performing no new experiments, and generating no new data. Without that we’re left with an inferential framework that Behe, quite fairly, said compared well to astrology in terms of rigor and approach.

    This case would be strengthened if specified complexity or irreducible complexity found some sort of application outside of cell biology, but these don’t happen because they’re useless without subjective judgement and motivated “inference.” All this quasi-science is ever applied to is the question of wether or not life is designed. IDEA is full of comparisons to SETI and suggested applications outside of this domain, like in signal processing, but nobody’s been actually doing this work, either — they just keep plugging at the biology. I can only assume that their focus on that is guided by their paymasters, who have textbooks to publish and school districts to sue.

  58. @56

    The disturbing thing is that somebody probably would posit that as an explanation. It would get a following too, no doubt.

    I am not the first to suggest this. Arthur C. Clarke in Rendezvous with Rama has, in fact, a crew of astronauts who visit an alien spaceship, and the first officer aboard the ship is a committed worshipper at the “Church of Jesus Christ, Astronaut”. He expresses at least once the firm commitment that the Rama probe is holy, and that his followers should be allowed special privileges to examine the craft and venerate it as a relic.

    When we look at creatures we see a host of mechanical arrangements which we are trying to mimic. We recognize what they are, but as we squint at them we realise they are a lot better than our attempts. And some molecukar biologists say that we have found motors, gears, editing software etc inside the cell.

    These are all great metaphors, but from the very top I’d dispute wether anything in a cell could be considered “mechanical,” let alone manifest “software.” These aren’t testable, they’re the craft of a writer. But, if a designer is a natural thing, physical evidence would have to exist and in its absence we’re left with just they hypothesis.

    Of course there are those who would try to barge down the metaphysical door if even a crack is allowed to appear.

    The last 500 years has been the struggle to keep the door to the demon-haunted world shut.

  59. These are all great metaphors, but from the very top I’d dispute wether anything in a cell could be considered “mechanical,” let alone manifest “software.” These aren’t testable, they’re the craft of a writer. But, if a designer is a natural thing, physical evidence would have to exist and in its absence we’re left with just they hypothesis.

    You don’t consider motor proteins to be “mechanical”? They, by definition, use ATP to convert energy into mechanical work.

    Would you not consider DNA to be a code?

    These aren’t literary allusions in order fit metaphysics.

  60. You don’t consider motor proteins to be “mechanical”? They, by definition, use ATP to convert energy into mechanical work.

    Would you not consider DNA to be a code?

    They are in a sense, but I don’t think it’s a productive comparison, you can’t use it to make further inferences. We can’t take one of these comparisons as an analytic statement for a modus ponens, for example.

    You have to be parsimonious, proteins move this way or that when interacting with ATP, the effects motion on an attached structure, this moves the entire organism. Save the machine comparisons for NOVA.

  61. I mean look at is this way: machines have a builder, machines have a purposeful result. When you describe a biological structure as a machine, you’ve already jumped to conclusions about what its doing and where it came from.

    Worse, machines are operated and repaired by people, so you invite all sorts of shoddy thinking by imputing volition on the part of the organism that has the machine, and hazy suppositions about the organism’s “struggle for survival” or even “struggle to evolve,” as if it could some how come up with a better flagellum, like people invent better machines.

  62. @sigba

    They are in a sense, but I don’t think it’s a productive comparison, you can’t use it to make further inferences. We can’t take one of these comparisons as an analytic statement for a modus ponens, for example.

    You have to be parsimonious, proteins move this way or that when interacting with ATP, the effects motion on an attached structure, this moves the entire organism. Save the machine comparisons for NOVA.

    In this response you are altering the definition of ‘machine’ to fit your dogmatic ideology. A machine uses moving parts to convert energy into work. That is exactly what motor proteins do. You cannot simply invalidate them because it is inconvenient to your point.

    It seems as though you are operating under the paradigm that all machines must be inorganic, therefor a motor protein is not a machine. At this point, you are arguing semantics to evade the point.

    Further, to invoke parsimony then say “proteins move this way or that…” is a bit silly. There are many proteins with many varied functions. But even were we to accept this statement, the same could be said of any mechanical device; that the parts move this way and that when interacting with a specified energy source.

  63. At this point, you are arguing semantics to evade the point.

    The whole point is that the comparison is semantic regardless of who makes it, it’s not a rigorous empirical account. It lets human conceits sneak in.

    It’s not wrong, and people of all naturalist/non-naturalist persuasions use phrasing like this all the time. But it’s not evidentiary, you can’t use it as a primitive basis for other arguments, you can’t use the comparison to prove anything.

  64. sigaba:

    I guess my problem with this is that it’s a bare rhetorical fig leaf without any substantiation. There are no ID investigations on the how, or who, while there are certainly naturalistic (if not specifically ‘Darwinian’) investigations into the OOL.

    Why do the investigations have to be “ID?” Especially since OOL investigations don’t have to be “Darwinian?” How is the fact that OOL investigations are “naturalistic” pertinent? So what?

    The problem with setting the demarcation where you have it is you exclude all lines of novel empirical evidence — it becomes little more than a philosophical veneer or interpretation of existing knowledge while adding no new observations, performing no new experiments, and generating no new data.

    This is rich. The “problem” with setting the demarcation where ID has is that it precludes a favored objection from its detractors. If the demarcation were set where they would like it set, they would exploit it to accuse ID of not being science. At times, they try to pretend that it is set where they’d like it set even when it isn’t. And then when confronted with where the demarcation is actually set, they complain that it ought not be set there. Priceless.

    As has been pointed out so eloquently and graciously and a bit humorously earlier in this thread, if “scientists” are so disappointed in how ID is going about detecting design, then surely those “scientists” have the wherewithal to come up with a better method. One gets the sense they are more interested in impeding such investigation than in contributing to it. In case there is still any doubt, may I extend to all scientists everywhere, on behalf of ID, my deepest wish that they investigate both design detection as well as the how or who or whatever else interests them to their heart’s content. Seriously. Feel free.

  65. TZErik:

    Lizzie, can I ask a question? This is genuine, without malice or snide intent.

    Of course :)

    A hypothetical. An archaeologist digging in a remote desert comes across an object. It has a fluted urn shape and some kind of staining around it that looks like some beast.

    The archaeologist, knowing enough about geology, understands that it is unlikely for a dirt/water colloidal suspension to form this shape without the input from some intelligent source. And further unlikely that it would harden and have stain applied upon it’s surface. Because of this the archaeologist deems that, beyond reasonable doubt, this is most likely an artifact formed by some designer. Currently the archaeologist doesn’t know to what people the designer belonged, nor who the designer might have been.

    At this point the archaeologist sets out to discover those unknowns by analyzing the artifact itself, collecting more samples in the same area, seeing if similar methods of creation are found in the other artifacts, etc.

    My question at this point would ask; do you find this as a credible form of inquiry? If yes, why is ID theory not an acceptable form of inquiry? If no, does this not invalidate the likes of forensics?

    Yes, indeed. I think that design detection is a perfectly valid mode of enquiry, and in regular use in many fields, including, as you suggest, forensics and archaeology (and, indeed, forensic archaeology). Not only that, but in my own field, neuroscience, intention is itself the object of scientific investigation.

    My criticism of ID is not of the principle of attempting to detect design, but of the specific arguments made, and methods advanced. I don’t think they are valid, for a number of reasons.

    But I’ve frequently said that I think that ID investigations could be made rigorous. The problem is that that depends on investigating the methods of the designer. Front-loading is one example that might make different predictions to those of evolution. But an all-purpose “Designer must have done it” doesn’t work – because it is simply a gap-filler, and makes no predictions that can be tested.

    Whereas a designer who, for instance, frontloaded the genome, could, in principle make a testable prediction.

  66. Why do the investigations have to be “ID?”

    They’d have to be consilient with ID, they’d have to produce evidence that’s consistent with the claims of ID and not consistent with the modern synthesis.

    This is rich. The “problem” with setting the demarcation where ID has is that it precludes a favored objection from its detractors. If the demarcation were set where they would like it set, they would exploit it to accuse ID of not being science.

    I don’t know how to interpret this statement, if not as a plain admission that ID’s claims are carefully chosen to protect ID from falsifiability or scrutiny.

    Quite the contrary, if the demarcation included identification of a natural designer, it would be science, it just wouldn’t be supportable with the presently available evidence. If the demarcation is extended to include a non-natural designer, then you’re right, it wouldn’t be science. But you were the one that suggested that natural evidence of the designer was reasonable, so I dunno where you are on this.

    I’m just saying that ID predicts a designer, with a mathematical (CSI) or heuristic model (IC), there should probably be some consilience with physical evidence in order for the claims to be taken seriously.

    That CSI is not considered credible by mainstream math and IC is little more than Paley’s Watch is bad. It’s not fatal, though, I see that. But having those hypotheses in hand, however we might have gotten them, they do have to be substantiated by multiple lines of physical evidence. Your characterization of mainstream science as an enemy is typical, but it’s not other people’s responsibility to substantiate your claim.

    Theoretical physicists can’t discover particles on a blackboard or in a debate. They can guess where to look, and, upon looking, be found to be right, but they guess wrong much more often. Feynman, who BA quotes occasionally, spent five years of his life on Parton theory, which was mathematically consistent but turned out to be incomplete and non-physical. Even granting the mathematical rigor of CSI theory, and granting the exclusively natural status of a designer, that’s as far as ID has gotten in three times as many years.

  67. Yes, indeed. I think that design detection is a perfectly valid mode of enquiry, and in regular use in many fields, including, as you suggest, forensics and archaeology (and, indeed, forensic archaeology). Not only that, but in my own field, neuroscience, intention is itself the object of scientific investigation.

    My criticism of ID is not of the principle of attempting to detect design, but of the specific arguments made, and methods advanced. I don’t think they are valid, for a number of reasons.

    But I’ve frequently said that I think that ID investigations could be made rigorous. The problem is that that depends on investigating the methods of the designer. Front-loading is one example that might make different predictions to those of evolution. But an all-purpose “Designer must have done it” doesn’t work – because it is simply a gap-filler, and makes no predictions that can be tested.

    Whereas a designer who, for instance, frontloaded the genome, could, in principle make a testable prediction.

    Thanks for your response Lizzie. I think I understand your position far better now. I agree that a designer-of-the-gaps answer is not one that can ever be accepted.

    However, ID has never been as such for me in either my personal belief structure nor in my field of study (biomed sci).

    Would I be wrong in assuming that you do not have, necessarily, an objection to the concept of a designer/deity/God, however, you have yet to see any form of scientific inquiry, hypothesis, methodology, that would lead to further scientific understanding over the current paradigm?

  68. sigaba:

    This is rich. The “problem” with setting the demarcation where ID has is that it precludes a favored objection from its detractors. If the demarcation were set where they would like it set, they would exploit it to accuse ID of not being science.

    I don’t know how to interpret this statement, if not as a plain admission that ID’s claims are carefully chosen to protect ID from falsifiability or scrutiny.

    Let me help sigaba out. ID’s demarcation is set where it is because ID is targeted at detecting design. Period.

    My statement can be interpreted quite easily as a plain admission that ID’s detractors wish ID’s demarcation were different because they feel more comfortable attacking what they wish ID was than what it actually is. In other words, they’d prefer to attack a straw man, thank you very. And having been caught out attacking a straw man, they proceed to complain that the real opponent ought to be a lot more like their straw man. How downright uncharitable of ID not to accommodate them!

  69. sigaba:

    Your characterization of mainstream science as an enemy is typical, but it’s not other people’s responsibility to substantiate your claim.

    ROFLOL! So, who’s responsibility is it to substantiate what you claim our claim ought to be?

  70. It’s probably been said more than once that natural selection is a “design mimic.” But how would anyone know? How do we test that hypothesis?

    In my oh most humble opinion, which I hesitate even to offer in the presence of such an august audience, people who assert that natural selection mimics design but deny that design is detectable are somewhat confused.

    It’s much like claiming that CSI is not an indicator of design because a program can be designed to generate CSI.

  71. If Matter and Energy are all that exist, then they have done everything we marvel at in the universe.

    Far be it from me to rain on your parade, and I swear that to my knowledge no relatives of mine sell raincoats or umbrellas, but you just don’t understand Matter and Energy and the phenomenon of EMERGENCE!

    You see, when matter and energy get together magical things happen. They take on properties that matter and energy alone do not have. And then when those things get together yet more magical new properties “emerge” and even more magical things happen, Ad infinitum.

    So Matter and Energy when combined open up entirely new vistas. The exact opposite of constraints. And that’s why Matter an Energy alone can do things no designer ever could, because designers must be constrained (at least scientific designers must be).

    It would almost seem as if Elizabeth’s constraint hypothesis is meant to exclude one and only one designer, God.

    But that’s probably more because she’s theologically confused and still doesn’t grasp ID.

    You see, theists generally don’t believe that God is unconstrained. And intelligent design theory does not require that God be “the designer.”

    I will say that all of nature seems to proclaim a single designer, whether God or Satan, which is not at all to be expected under the theory of natural selection, which by all accounts appeals to innumerable designers often working at cross purposes.

  72. TSErik:

    Would I be wrong in assuming that you do not have, necessarily, an objection to the concept of a designer/deity/God, however, you have yet to see any form of scientific inquiry, hypothesis, methodology, that would lead to further scientific understanding over the current paradigm?

    More or less. Perhaps a bit more nuanced.

    I think that if there is a creator intelligence behind life, it might in principle be possible to detect it, and and find out more about it. I wouldn’t assume a priori that it was worthy of worship.

    I think if there is a good God, worthy of worship, that God is probably not going to be discoverable through science.

    And I am no longer persuaded that it makes sense to think of minds as something that can exist independently of organisms.

    So I have some priors. But like all good priors, they can be updated in the light of more evidence.

  73. Mung

    It would almost seem as if Elizabeth’s constraint hypothesis is meant to exclude one and only one designer, God.

    Not at all, Mung. All I’m saying is that an unconstrained God is unlikely to be found by scientific means, because no predictive hypothesis could be formulated or tested.

    That would not exclude the existence of such a God in any way. It would merely place such a God beyond the realm of scientific detection.

    Let me quote, as I often do, the theologian Herbert McCabe:

    Again, it is clear that God cannot interfere in the universe, not because he has not the power, but because, so to speak, he has too much; to interfere you have to be an alternative to, or alongside, what you are interfering with. If god is the cause of everything, there is nothing that he is alongside. Obviously God makes no difference to the universe; I mean by this that we do not appeal specifically to God to explain why the unviverse is this way rather than that, for this we need only appeal to explanations within the universe. For this reason there can, it seems to me,be no feature of the universe which indicates it is God-made. What God accounts for is that the univese is there instead of nothing.

    (from God Matters)

  74. Again, it is clear that God cannot interfere in the universe, not because he has not the power, but because, so to speak, he has too much

    This guy cannot be a Christian. Christianity is a revealed religion and is based on God interfering in this universe often for reasons we cannot fathom. One who is a true Christian will admit that they cannot know the “Mind” of God, but McCabe apparently thinks he does. This type of arrogance is typical of a lot of those who believe themselves theologians.

    An anecdote that is probably not true but still illustrates the point. Aquinas who is considered a respected theologian and wrote profusely once was said to have a dream where an angel was on the seaside. The angel would go into the sea with a tea spoon and fill it up and then come back to the beach and pour the infinitesimally small water in the spoon onto the sand. Aquinas asked the angel what he was doing and the angel said theology.

    As the story goes, Aquinas stopped his writing and died shortly there after. True story? Probably not. But it says something about how much we can know about God. The Book of Job has a similar theme. The maggot or worm knows more about a human then the human about God.

  75. The “guy” was a very eminent Dominican Thomist scholar. He was one of the translators of the Blackfriars edition of the Summa. Here are some of his other books:

    Herbert McCabe

  76. The “guy” was a very eminent Dominican Thomist scholar

    I know who the guy is/was. His comment is absurd for a Christian. Did he ever hear of somethings called the Resurrection, virgin birth, miracles and prayers? All I believe are staples of Dominican belief. I think St. Dominic is doing a little grave turning with this “guy.”

    My comment about McCabe stands. He sounds like another of these theologians that wants to tell God how to do it right.

  77. One of his books is a catechism:

    The Teaching of the Catholic Church: A new catechism of Christian Doctrine. It was published by the Incorporated Catholic Truth Society and has both Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur.

    I think that means he counts as a Christian, unless you think that catholics aren’t Christians.

  78. Elizabeth, you don’t seem to realise how worldliness enabled some of these most prestigious of Catholic scripture scholars and theologians to make a name for themselves.

    To them writing books as a priest/scholar was just an alternative to making it as a secular scholar, and realising this, JJPII warned such clergy to avoid taking up such activities as an alternative to a secular career.

    Writing books in the sixties and early seventies, was an American scripture scholar, who is said in a eulogy in Wiki to have been considered the Dean of scripture scholars in the mid 20th century. It also says he taught himself eight languages, which, to me, immediately raises a red flag, suggesting a butterfly mind.

    Anyway, among his works, he wrote a Dictionary of the Bible, in which he had the incredible, sacriligious temerity to describe David as ‘little better than a bandit’!
    For the most profound spiritual blindness, that is difficult to cap.

    This, mark you, said of a prophet, psalmist, matchless national military hero and anointed king, whose patronymic was applied to Christ as the Messiah, and of whom God declared that he was ‘a man after his own heart’, that in his eyes, ‘his throne was like the sun, like the moon it would endure forever, a faithful witness in the skies’ (evidently in Christ). Imagine God saying that of a mere mortal creature of his own.

    Moreover, if he lived as an outlaw in his early years – it was because he would not raise his hand against an anointed king, even though he had been anointed by Samuel to supersede Saul, and had been given the opportunity by God to kill him.

    The sixties and, certainly, early seventies spanned a period when liberal theologians were in the ascendant, and judging from the plethora of books on spirituality by lay intellectuals in the Catholic press, Jesus seemed to be considered quite down-market.

    I have the distinct impression that, the immensely popular theologian of that time, Karl Rahner, had he been formally a secular intellectual, would have been an advocate of the Multiverse, String Theory, that sort of thing.

    He was given to seemingly gratuitous flights of fancy, without any obvious scriptural or theological underpinning, indeed, always moving in a direction away from such, as if favouring philosophy (of sorts) over theology.

    Jerry, you’re spot on in this, if I may say so.

  79. So a catholic priest who writes a church-certified catechism is “not a Christian”, according to Jerry.

    Axel says that Jerry is “spot on”.

    OK.

    It looks as though there is a special meaning of “Christian” in use here that I was not hitherto aware of. Something like “writes something that Axel and Jerry disagree with”.

    And Axel, your slur on Fr McCabe is simply ignorant bigotry. Most of McCabe’s writings were not published until after his death, because far from being “worldly”, he was primarily a preacher and teacher, and notoriously careless about his written output, keeping the texts of his lectures and sermons in his shoe. His literary editor had a nightmare job, but posthumous collections of McCabe’s writings are gradually coming out.

    He was combative, and outspoken, and at one time sacked from his job as editor of New Blackfriars for saying the church was corrupt, but he was not a heretic. The catholic church doesn’t let heretics publish catechisms and give them an imprimatur, nor does it let them write translations of Aquinas.

    His wiki entry says:

    McCabe’s sermons were carefully prepared and delivered with great intelligence and wit. A major theme was a caution against making God a god, of reducing the Creator to an object within this world, and thus committing idolatry.

    As a regular hearer of those sermons I can attest to this.

  80. How does one square

    Again, it is clear that God cannot interfere in the universe

    with

    the Resurrection, Ten Commandments, miracles, prayer etc?

    Am I missing something?

  81. Mung: “It would almost seem as if Elizabeth’s constraint hypothesis is meant to exclude one and only one designer, God.”

    Elizabeth: “Not at all, Mung. All I’m saying is that an unconstrained God is unlikely to be found by scientific means, because no predictive hypothesis could be formulated or tested.”

    Well, Elizabeth, what I said is true, and what you said is no response. What sort of God do you haven in mind when you speak of a God that is constrained?

    What would this constrained God be constrained by, and why would those constraints not make this imaginary God of yours not God?

    IOW, you are asking for a God that is not God, which is just silly.

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