Home » Intelligent Design » Design Operates at Multiple Levels

Design Operates at Multiple Levels

In a comment to a prior post lastyearon writes:

I’m simply not understanding how it is possible to detect that certain things were the result of design if everything is the result of design. If you hold that the laws of nature were Fine-Tuned for life, then that position seems incompatible with the notion that it is possible to detect that certain things were the product of Intelligent Design. IDers say they can detect design by distinguishing designed objects from products of natural ‘undirected’ causes. But if natural causes were designed for life, then doesn’t that invalidate that claim?

I reply:
You seem to imply that “IDers” are the only ones who claim to be able to distinguish between designed objects and objects that are the result of undirected causes. This is simply untrue. Here are two strings of text:

 String 1: Uq[49epfia[epfoias[efojafpojuawer89yup9fj0075v9aus[-er uqpw\\dflkjoigjeriodfdfioaergoierioadf;lkdfrgerkiergsdfvm

String 2: To be, or not to be–that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Or to take arms against a sea of troubles And by opposing end them.

Now you tell me. Which one of these strings of text is designed and which one is random gibberish. I am certain you will answer that it is obvious that string 2 is designed and string 1 is random gibberish, and so it is. There, you’ve detected design. And anyone else would reach the same conclusion whether they are an IDer or an inveterate opponent of ID theory.

To answer your question, consider this analogy. If I go to Home Depot I will see piles of lumber, nails, paint, wire, etc., in short, everything I need to build a house. No one believes those materials found their way into the aisles of Home Depot by natural undirected processes. They were manufactured and delivered by intelligent agents. But still there is no house. Thus we see that the materials at Home Depot are necessary, but they are not sufficient to build a house. The house will only ever be built if an intelligent agent assembles the materials in a complex and specified fashion.

In the same way, the ID proponent says that the finely tuned laws of nature are necessary for the existence of life, but they are not sufficient. What is missing? Complex specified information. And the fundamental premise of ID theory is that complex specified information arises ONLY as the result of the acts of intelligent agents. So you see, just as in the Home Depot example, design operates at two levels. It operates at the level of setting the conditions (building materials ready to be used; finely tuned laws of nature), and it also operates at the wholly separate level of the design of specific things (building the house; building the DNA molecule).

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146 Responses to Design Operates at Multiple Levels

  1. Barry,

    Those are great analogies. In the first sentence, there is actually design of course -design of the letters, the website, the algorithm you chose to get randomness- but the second sentence has a higher level of design which is detectable by csi (and by intuition).

    Same thing with the house materials and a finished house. The house materials are at Home Depot by design and are themselves designed for a purpose. That design can be detected as well as the design inherent in the finished house.

  2. How about these two strings:

    01000110111000000000101000010000011010

    and

    01101110010111011110001001101010111100

    Is there any detectable design or pattern in either one? To be specific (pun intended), which of these strings exhibits “complex specified information” (“CSI”)? Does one string exhibit more CSI than the other? How do you know? And what does this tell us about our ability to detect design in very simple strings of bits (such as are found in a DNA molecule)?

  3. Allen (#2),

    I am unable to say anything about the first string except that it has more 0′s than is likely through chance alone. It may or may not contain a message.

    The second string is clearly not just non-random, but completely specified. It is simply the binary numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. It contains 32 digits, with 2^32 possibilities, or slightly more than 4 billion. Although it is technically below the Dembski universal probability bound, if I were a betting man, I would take a million to 1 odds that it was designed, and try to make money.

    The first string may or may not have complex specified information. One could not be sure it did unless one could find the specificity, although it is a fair bet that it is not random. The second set is clearly precisely specified.

    It would seem that your point is that we are not very good at detecting design. That’s probably true. That has no necessary connection with whether the design is there or not.

    Awhile back I discussed the matter of whether 1 or 2 lanterns were hung in a tower. The reason this was done was specifically so that design would not be detected. On the other hand, if the British had intercepted a message that said, “Paul Revere, the British are coming by sea”, they would have been rather foolish not to have made a design inference. Just because we cannot always make a design inference when design is present, does not mean that the design inferences we do make are incorrect.

    More to the point of this particular thread, different levels of design can be distinguished. That is why if someone deliberately bashes in a victim’s head with a hammer, the hammer manufacturer is not charged with either murder or attempted murder.

  4. What has been described with some of the most flowered awe-inspiring words ever used in science, that which facilitates the coordination of all lifeforms in the most complex physicality which we still do not even come close to comprehending, that which required years of investigation just to understand how little we knew, may be carelessly charaterized as a “simple string of bits” in the defense of the othordoxy.

    In any case…

    Specific questions asked. Specific answers given.

    Rebuttal?

  5. In case anyone’s bored:

    agadaaggbbagaaecaegaaacfbafadafcbgaaaggapyueaaa
    aaaaaaacgaageaeagaaaaeacagaagggaaaaggaapucnsaaa
    gaagarunbaaaaabgbaegabaaaadagacaacaafcagaaoqgag
    aaaaisuvcadgcaafaeabeaaaacpuuzuzurgaaaagghumaaa
    aeaapuvunggaaagdfaggaaefapcjqanlacapspueguodada
    faaasscstaaaagfyuuuupgcgaoaohclpbacwuocjupaagba
    faaevmaqudfacaafaaaagfaaadariamhacapzfdsuzyqaag
    agchukefymggabfuuvuvpdgaagboeanraaawsgaaaacgabe
    agaquuyuwqebcaaaaddaabagdabsdgomagapsfcfgaaacga
    aamusgggmwofgaaaagcgaefagahxagtmekgvtegaaaaddga
    eatugeaagzugaaagbbdbgaagdcuheaksxjawsaaaaggaaaa

    1147

  6. Allen:

    Is there any detectable design or pattern in either one? To be specific (pun intended), which of these strings exhibits “complex specified information” (”CSI”)? Does one string exhibit more CSI than the other? How do you know? And what does this tell us about our ability to detect design in very simple strings of bits (such as are found in a DNA molecule)?

    You know Allen, for someone who spends as much time on the “intelligent design” issue as you do you often display a marked lack of familiarity of the source material.

    I’d love to be a student in one of your classes on ID.

    And what does this tell us about our ability to detect design in very simple strings of bits (such as are found in a DNA molecule)?

    So you think ID is about the claim that it is possible to detect design in very simple string of bits? How do you determine that some string of bits is “simple” vs. “complex”?

    And what does this tell us about our ability to detect design in very simple strings of bits (such as are found in a DNA molecule)?

    So you’re claiming that what we find in DNA is nothing more than simple strings of bits?

    …which of these strings exhibits “complex specified information” (”CSI”)

    I’m going to go way out on a limb here….

    You’ve already stated that these strings are “simple,” though you haven’t told us how you know that.

    So you want to know how do we know which of these simple strings contains complex specified information?

    AARRGGGHHH!!!!!!

    MY HEAD!

    You’re a university professor aren’t you Allen? You have a doctorate? Have tenure?

    And you want to know how to tell how something which is simple is complex?

    God help us.

  7. And what does this tell us about our ability to detect design in very simple strings of bits (such as are found in a DNA molecule)?

    ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

    Give us a complex string and we can talk.

    A complex string from DNA would be even better.

    But then, you’ve already assured us that DNA is just simple strings.

  8. In comment #3 Paul Glem correctly identified the second string: it is indeed simply the first 38 numbers one obtains by counting up from zero in base two (i.e. binary code). This is easier to see if you separate the digits:

    0 1 10 11 100 101 110 111 1000 1001 1010 1011 1100

    In base ten this would be:

    0 = 0
    1 = 1
    10 = 2
    11 = 3
    100 = 4
    101 = 5
    110 = 6
    111 = 7
    1000 = 8
    1001 = 9
    1010 = 10
    1011 = 11
    1100 = 12

    If I were to reproduce the second string using the same method, the probability that I would get the exact same string would be 1 (i.e. 100%).

    I generated the first string by flipping a coin 38 times. If I were to do this again, the probability that I would get the exact same string again would be 1/2exp38 = 1/274,877,906,944 (a very, very, very small number). So, which of the two strings has more “complex specified information”? Or, to ask the same question another way, which of the two strings would require more information to exactly specify its recreation, and why?

  9. Mung in comment #7:

    Which of the two strings is more “complex”? You have clearly indicated that neither string is “complex”. Or, to state it another way, you have indicated that the two strings have the same degree of “complexity”, i.e. none.

    Now that I have revealed the method by which the two strings were generated, would you like to change your answer?

  10. Also in Mung’s comment #7:

    “…you’ve already assured us that DNA is just simple strings.”

    Really? And exactly where have I done this?

  11. And (finally) re Mung in #7:

    Does the demonstrated fact that you were completely unable to detect even the simplest possible pattern in the second string, despite Paul Glem’s ability to detect it virtually instantly, give you any reason to question the concept of “complex specified information” or our ability to detect it?

    Or, asked another way, is there any empirical/mathematical method by which you could have discovered and verified how the two strings were generated before I told you how I did it?

  12. BTW, Mung, I did give you a “complex specified” string in my original example.

    Which one was it?

  13. Allen_MacNeill:

    Mung in comment #7:

    Which of the two strings is more “complex”? You have clearly indicated that neither string is “complex”.

    No Allen, what I clearly indicated what that you had failed to establish that either string was complex, as clearly indicated by your claim that both strings were “simple.”

    Are you denying that you claimed that these strings were simple?

    Are you asserting that you claimed that these strings were complex?

    Allen, we’ve interacted before. You should know by now that your credentials mean nothing to me. What matters is your ability to state and defend an argument.

    You’ve admitted that the strings you presented are simple.

    Are you now denying your original statement?

    Are you now claiming that these strings are complex?

    You have clearly indicated that neither string is “complex”.

    Why would I possibly think that?

    And why would you possibly think that an ID advocate would think otherwise?

    My clear claim is that you are demonstrating an unacceptable ignorance of the ID position.

  14. Allen @10:

    Also in Mung’s comment #7:

    “…you’ve already assured us that DNA is just simple strings.”

    Really? And exactly where have I done this?

    Allen @2:

    And what does this tell us about our ability to detect design in very simple strings of bits (such as are found in a DNA molecule)?

    So there are both simple and complex strings of bits found in a DNA molecule?

    So why don’t you provide an example of a complex string?

    How do you distinguish between simple and complex string?

    BTW, Mung, I did give you a “complex specified” string in my original example.

    Which one was it?

    I don’t think you did.

    1. You indicated the strings were simple.

    …what does this tell us about our ability to detect design in very simple strings of bits

    2. How did you determine which one of the strings is complex and shich one is simple?

  15. Allen @11:

    And (finally) re Mung in #7:

    Finally? lol

    Does the demonstrated fact that you were completely unable to detect even the simplest possible pattern in the second string, despite Paul Glem’s ability to detect it virtually instantly, give you any reason to question the concept of “complex specified information” or our ability to detect it?

    The demonstrated fact? Demonstrated by whom?

    …the demonstrated fact that I was completely unable to detect even the simplest possible pattern?

    The simplest possible pattern?

    Or, asked another way, is there any empirical/mathematical method by which you could have discovered and verified how the two strings were generated before I told you how I did it?

    Was either of your strings complex?

    If it’s not a complex string, it’s no wonder that no complex specified information can be found in the string.

    How much complexity can be embedded within the simplest possible pattern?

  16. Mung, go back and read all of my comments, above. Where, in any of them, did I either state or imply that either string was “simple”?

    In fact, one of the two strings is anything but “simple”.

    Again, I ask, which one?

  17. Mung in #13:

    “You’ve admitted that the strings you presented are simple.”

    Nope. I’ve only stated that the second string

    01101110010111011110001001101010111100

    can be recreated by a relatively “simple” algorithm, i.e. counting upwards from zero in binary code.

    Let me ask it as clearly as I can:

    Is the first string “complex” (i.e. not “simple”) and how do you know?

  18. CJYman and Kairosfocus have been shedding light on practical and detailed organized-CSI calculations for the past few weeks now, the best I’ve seen.

  19. Allen MacNeill:

    How about these two strings:

    01000110111000000000101000010000011010

    and

    01101110010111011110001001101010111100

    Is there any detectable design or pattern in either one? To be specific (pun intended), which of these strings exhibits “complex specified information” (”CSI”)? Does one string exhibit more CSI than the other? How do you know? And what does this tell us about our ability to detect design in very simple strings of bits (such as are found in a DNA molecule)?

    Just so you know science is not conducted in a vacuum.

    There is always more evidence to consider- other than the object/ string in question.

    We don’t study the object in isolation.

    So your parlor games may be amusing bvut they really miss the point.

  20. Joseph – that may have been part of Allen’s point. If calculation of CSI, and hence detection of design, relies on the observer’s background knowledge, then design detection is subjective.

    The problem in this case is the specification: how do you a priori specify the patterns that you are looking for. It’s impossible to go through every possible pattern (this is related to the underdetermination problem in the philosophy of science).

  21. Thank you, Heinrich, for that was indeed one of the points I was trying to make with my presentation of the two strings.

    Another one of the points I was trying to make is that the first string is immensely more “complex” than the second string. That this is the case is easily demonstrated by the fact that exactly duplicating the second string is possible using a very simple algorithm. Indeed, all one has to specify is the starting number (i.e. “0″) and the ending number (i.e. “1100″) and the method of counting.

    By contrast, exactly duplicating the first string using the method originally used to generate it is for all intents and purposes (pun intended, of course) impossible.

    So, as to Paul Glem’s guess that the second string is “designed”, the answer is…well, not “yes”, but “sort of”. It’s the result of a pattern generator, but that’s all. It’s actually a remarkably “simple” string, easily replicated exactly using a very simple algorithm.

    However, and more interestingly, Paul Glem’s intuition that the first string is non-random is definitely incorrect. He based his intuition on the “overabundance” of zeros in the string. This is the same phenomenon that causes people to generate strings of ones and zeros that are detectably pseudorandom. When asked to do generate such a string, people tend to put almost exactly as many ones as zeros regardless of the length of the string, whereas in a genuinely random string (such as the one I generated for comment #2), the string is what it is, and what appears to be an overabundance of zeros is an artifact of the shortness of the string.

    Which leads us to Heinrich’s comment that the detection of CSI is absolutely dependent on the observer’s prior knowledge. Once I (and Paul) tell you what the algorithm for generating/interpreting the second string is, you can see it immediately. However, even knowing the rules of simple probability led Paul (and probably many of the people reading these comments) to misjudge the “quality” of the first string. Let me assure you, it really is genuinely random because of the way I generated it, and therefore the probability that I could exactly recreate it is so small as to be essentially zero.

    Now consider the number of bits in the string of nucleotide base pairs in a relatively simply living organism. For example, uropathogenic E. coli (the bacterium commonly associated with urinary tract infections) has about 5,231,428 base pairs. the probability of specifying this sequences of base pairs using the same method I did for generating the first string is 1/4exp5,231,428 (that is, the number of different nucleotide bases multiplied times itself 5,231,428 times). This number is immensely larger (indeed, incomprehensibly larger) than the so-called “universal probability bound”, which Dr. Dembski has recently calculated as 1 in 10exp150.

    This would seem to very strongly imply that constructing and operating an E. coli bacterium is impossible, yet E. coli do it about every 20 minutes (under optimal conditions). How do they do it?

    The answer was first suggested by Watson and Crick in April of 1953:

    “It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.” [A structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid. Watson, J.D. and Crick, F.H.C. (1953) Nature, 171, pp. 737-738]

    In brief, the pairing mechanism for the DNA base pairs makes what would otherwise be impossible absurdly easy, by making the specification of the sequences of bases on one strand of the DNA a necessary outcome of the sequences of the bases on the complementary strand.

    This is analogous in some ways to “specifying” the outcome of flipping a coin 1,000 times:

    “[I]f a coin is tossed randomly 1000 times, the probability of any particular outcome is roughly one in 10exp300. For any particular specific outcome of the coin-tossing process, the a priori probability [for] this pattern [occurring] is thus one in 10exp300, which is astronomically smaller than Dembski’s universal probability bound of one in 10exp150. [modified from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.....lity_bound ]

    However, if one were to line up a string of 1,000 quarters and then specify that the sequence of a complementary string of quarters is simply head-with-tail, then again the outcome of the pairing process would render the probability of the second (i.e. complementary) sequence as 1, not 4exp1,000.

    THE POINT:

    What appear at first glance to be purely random sequences of bits (e.g. the strings of ones and zeros in comment #2) may not be random at all, or may indeed be completely random. However, there is no a priori way to distinguish between these two circumstances. Yes, one can distinguish between them a posteriori, but that’s no better than “predicting” the winner of yesterday’s lottery drawing after reading the winning number in today’s paper.

  22. Sorry, the last line of the next-to-last paragraph in comment #21 should read 2exp1,000, not 4exp1,000. My bad.

  23. And I forgot to close the blockquote following the citation to Wikipedia.

  24. Heinrich (#20),

    You are looking at the wrong problem. I was able to identify the “complex” specified string rather rapidly and securely (a p value of <0.0000001 is pretty significant). Furthermore, the identification had predictive value. If we had more numbers, the next four would have been 1101.

    The claim you are making is that design detection is subjective. But everything we do is subjective. That's why philosophers sometimes substitute inter-subjective for objective. But inter-subjectivity sometimes becomes universal enough so that we begin to suspect (IMO rightly) that we are dealing with an objective phenomenon. (Remember, if you disagree, you have no basis to declare that ID, or even YEC, is science. After all, it's their subjective experience, and who are you to challenge?)

    You, like Allen MacNeill did before you, are still missing the point. The point is not that we can detect all design. The point is that we sometimes can. I just did it. Or do you disagree with Allen on this?

  25. BTW, Allen,

    Your coin flipping is biased. Remind me to call tails if you ever flip the coin for a football game. :)

  26. Which, as usual, brings us around once again to the origin of the genetic code. The ID argument for this is essentially that the probability of generating the code from scratch is so small as to be non-existent. However, given the foregoing analysis, this is equivalent to saying that the probability of any single set of lottery numbers winning tomorrow’s lottery is so small as to be equally non-existent. Yet, someone will win the lottery, if not tomorrow then in the following drawing (or short series of drawings). Furthermore, the probability that this set of numbers being a winner – 1 2 3 4 5 6 – is exactly the same as this set of numbers being a winner – 4 8 15 16 23 42 (but don’t buy a ticket with the second string, or you will have to share the prize money with a very large number of people if it wins).

    The common calculation of the a priori probability of any particular genetic code (i.e. vanishingly small) is fatally undermined by at least three phenomena:

    1) there may be some necessary relationship between the code and the things it specifies (i.e. a relationship that is the outcome of an as-yet-undiscovered natural law)

    2) the mechanisms by which the code originated may be something like the method with which I generated the second string in comment #2, rather than the method by which I generated the first string

    3) none of the analyses presented to date have included the fact that the genetic code is meaningful information (i.e. neither Shannon nor Kolmogorov information).

    This last point is perhaps the most important, as the meaning inherent in the genetic code (i.e. the necessary relationship between the sequences of nucleotide bases, amino acids, proteins, and phenotypic traits) is basis for all of biology. Unless one includes the meaning of the genetic code (and Drs. Dembski and Marks do not), any calculations of the probability of biological evolution are quite literally meaningless (pun intended…inevitable, even).

  27. That’s why it’s called Specified Complexity, Allen MacNeill. You need both satisfied to make the inference to design and, yes, to determine each you need to investigate and utilize background knowledge.

  28. Paul Glem in #24:

    I just flipped a different coin another 38 times and got:

    01000101100100111101111011000011110111

    Would you rather use that one?

  29. Hi Allen MacNeill,
    In your latest installment you have now attributed aboutness to matter. Do you mean to do this or are you being careless with language when you use words like “meaning” and “purpose”? Are you just using them like Dawkins uses “design” (undesigned” and “watchmaker (“blind”).
    If you do mean them the way you seem to present them how does matter achieve this meaning?

    Since you seem to equate meaning to phenotype, and draw a potentially necessary relationship from DNA to phenotype I would note that you appear then to be talking about teleology. It sounds to me as if you are claiming that the genetic code has been necessitated by phenotype, as then, would the DNA sequences.
    A phenotype causes the protein fold necessary causes the AA sequence necessary, causes the anti-codon, causes the codon, causes the splice, causes the mRNA, causes the transcription causes the base sequence causes the DNA.
    Ergo, not only the code but the sequences themselves were determined by the end product, the organism.

    It seems to me that you are admitting that the evidence all points to real meaning, real purpose and real design but you couch that finding because you disagree with the what most consider the best ultimate explanation for that design – a designer.
    What’s your preference? Forms Ideals?

  30. “What’s your preference? Forms Ideals?”

    Nope; natural laws.

  31. Allen MacNeill,

    In the first string you have equated Shannon information, that is raw complexity measured by probability, with CSI. In order to be CSI, it would have to be a functional string. It isn’t, therefore it’s complex but not specified, and a design inference is not warranted.

    In the second string, you have stipulated that the same method be used every time. No variation it possible because of this stipulation, and therefore the second string does not even constitute Shannon information.

  32. MacNeill @21:

    Which leads us to Heinrich’s comment that the detection of CSI is absolutely dependent on the observer’s prior knowledge.

    So you’re admitting then that a design inference is not an argument from ignorance? In fact, just the opposite?

    :D

  33. 33

    Allen,

    When speaking of ID complexity is not defined by the amount of tries it would take to reproduce it, I don’t think.

    The complexity spoken about in CSI has to do with functionally specified information and the non-vacuum being spoken about by Joseph, has to do — not with apriori knowledge — but with cause and effect relationships that demonstrate functional specificity in living organisms and other complex systems.

  34. 34

    Allen,
    Our inability to immediately know or recognize a design where there may be some, says nothing about our well attested ability to recognise its patterns and evidence where there is such, based on experience.

    That is like saying what does our inability to see the invisible say about the accuracy of our ability to see the visible, or similarly , our inability or weak ability to see unobvious versus our presumption that we do see the obvious.

  35. Allen MacNeill,

    Sorry, but something in the system ate my response to which #24 was supposed to be a coda. It was actually addressed to Heinrich (#20) and not you specifically, although since you have now seconded #20 I will address my reply to you as well, and expand it to cover points you raised and Heinrich did not.

    First, it is not a big deal (it is easy to make the mistake, and I have butchered your name in the past), but my last name is spelled G I E M, and not G L E M.

    Second, Heinrich seems to be making the point that we cannot always detect design, and that since background information is an essential requirement for detecting design, that design detection is subjective. He also seems to think that we have to determine a priori what patterns we are looking for, and that this is related to the underdetermination problem in the philosophy of science. In #21 you agree with him.

    I find it fascinating that both of you would argue that way right after I had been unable to detect design in one string, but was able to quite firmly detect design in the other, and you confirmed my observations. Again, as I observed in #3, just because we cannot always make a design inference when design is present, does not mean that the design inferences we do make are incorrect. In this particular case my design inference was correct. Calling it subjective has little meaning other than that everything we do is subjective. Sometimes, and commonly in the case of science, our various subjective experiences match closely enough so that we make the (warranted) inference that they are in fact objective as well. I think this is one of thse cases.

    Note also that I was able to make the detection accurately a posteriori. Apparently, the a priori criterion was overrated by Heinrich.

    You argue that the first string is more complex than the second one. In a sense you are right. A relatively simple generator will generate the second string. I use the term “relatively” for a reason. Writing a computer program to generate your second string would probably take well upwards of 32 bits of computer code. Of course, the advantage of such a program is that after it is written, one can write millions of bits of information in the same precisely sequenced arrangement. In that sense it is simple.

    On the other hand, the string that Barry started with, the famous soliloquy of Hamlet, although it can still be compressed somewhat (using “t” for “the” would be one example, and automatic capitalization would be another), is still much more complex than either, or all three, of your strings of 1′s and 0′s. And it specifies a function, namely, conveying the state of mind of someone contemplating the choice of passivity or action in the face of opposition. This passage is not compressible into a simple program. It is therefore arguably much more complex than the line of ones and zeroes you gave, and could reasonably be argued to be more complex than such a line stretched out to a million characters, for basically the reason you gave.

    The question at hand is, is the DNA code necessary for life more like the strings of ones and zeroes you gave, or more like the message of Shakespeare? As far as I know, nobody has come up with an algorithm to compress the coding sections of DNA, or a mathematical formula to reproduce it that does not include the actual coding sequences themselves. That being the case, it would seem reasonable to believe that there is no such algorithm, and that DNA code is closer to Shakespeare in this regard than it is to a simple sequence from a number generator program.

    Further observations on your “random” sequences, and on calculations regarding the genetic code, will follow.

  36. Hi Allen MacNeill,

    Q:
    “What’s your preference? Forms Ideals?”

    A: Nope; natural laws.

    That was predictable.
    So what is it about the description of the way that matter normally behaves that confers purpose and meaning upon matter?

    Since you think natural laws dictate the genetic code and genetic sequences through required phenotypes could you describe which regularity explains this and explain why probabilities are not calculable?

  37. Allen MacNeill,

    You gave me two sequences you got by flipping a coin. The first one showed an excess of tails over heads of 26/12, for a two-tailed p-value of <0.034.

    It also had 9 tails in a row, something which should happen (making allowances for the fact that it could have been 9 heads in a row instead) once every 256 tries. Even allowing for the fact that those nine could have started anywhere in the pattern except for the last 8 positions, that's still 30/256, which is stretching it, but within the two-tailed probability limits.

    Finally, the probability of switching should be roughly 0.5. You have 16/37 switches (0.43). This is actually not unexpected at all, giving a p-value of roughly 0.5.

    These results, of course, are interrelated. If one has an excess of 0's, one can expect to have more 0's in a row, and a decreased likelihood of switching from 1 to 0 or back. (The obverse is not necessarily true, but can be.)

    Since the first result is in fact statistically significant at the p=0.05 level (a standard limit for statistics), it is reasonable to conclude, at least tentatively, that the numbers are not random. However, the numbers are close enough to the line to suggest that a repeat experiment be done. You have kindly done this, and the repeat experiment moved closer to the norm. This time, the number of tails is 16/38, the number of switches is 17/37, and the longest string is 4 (of which we have 4 strings). I could not say for sure, but without your telling me I could easily attribute this string to chance. Since you have told me, I have no reason not to believe you. If you then tell me that the first string is also random, I can more easily attribute it to Type I error, that is, rejecting the null hypothesis when one should really accept it, because the deviation from the mean is in fact caused by chance. For a p-value of <0.05, one is expected to make this error once every 20 times.

    One thing to keep in mind is that detecting non-randomness is not the same as detecting design, at least in the strong sense that ID is discussing. For example, it is theoretically possible that the first string was caused by a weighted coin, or that your flipping technique tended to give you the same case you got the last time, in which case once you got stuck on tails you would continue to obtain them. The latter possibility is not completely ruled out, and some people in fact have some "skill" at this, which is why before a football game it is traditional to flip the coin onto the ground, rather than catch it in mid-air.

    But it is important to notice that even when this happens, one is unlikely to get complex specified information. Even with a bias towards the right percentage of 1's is present, and a bias for getting the right number of changes is present, the probability for getting the ASCII code for "To be, or not to be–that is the question:", let alone the entire soliloquy, is so small that I would again be willing to vigorously reject the null hypothesis. In fact, I think one could safely reject the null hypothesis for any equivalently long English sentence. And it wouldn't be at the p < 0.05 level either.

  38. Allen MacNeill,

    You gave me two sequences you got by flipping a coin. The first one showed an excess of tails over heads of 26/12, for a two-tailed p-value of <0.034.

    It also had 9 tails in a row, something which should happen (making allowances for the fact that it could have been 9 heads in a row instead) once every 256 tries. Even allowing for the fact that those nine could have started anywhere in the pattern except for the last 8 positions, that's still 30/256, which is stretching it, but within the two-tailed probability limits.

    Finally, the probability of switching should be roughly 0.5. You have 16/37 switches (0.43). This is actually not unexpected at all, giving a p-value of roughly 0.5.

    These results, of course, are interrelated. If one has an excess of 0's, one can expect to have more 0's in a row, and a decreased likelihood of switching from 1 to 0 or back. (The obverse is not necessarily true, but can be.)

    Since the first result is in fact statistically significant at the p=0.05 level (a standard limit for statistics), it is reasonable to conclude, at least tentatively, that the numbers are not random. However, the numbers are close enough to the line to suggest that a repeat experiment be done. You have kindly done this, and the repeat experiment moved closer to the norm. This time, the number of tails is 16/38, the number of switches is 17/37, and the longest string is 4 (of which we have 4 strings). I could not say for sure, but without your telling me I could easily attribute this string to chance. Since you have told me, I have no reason not to believe you. If you then tell me that the first string is also random, I can more easily attribute it to Type I error, that is, rejecting the null hypothesis when one should really accept it, because the deviation from the mean is in fact caused by chance. For a p-value of <0.05, one is expected to make this error once every 20 times.

    One thing to keep in mind is that detecting non-randomness is not the same as detecting design, at least in the strong sense that ID is discussing. For example, it is theoretically possible that the first string was caused by a weighted coin, or that your flipping technique tended to give you the same case you got the last time, in which case once you got stuck on tails you would continue to obtain them. The latter possibility is not completely ruled out, and some people in fact have some "skill" at this, which is why before a football game it is traditional to flip the coin onto the ground, rather than catch it in mid-air.

    But it is important to notice that even when this happens, one is unlikely to get complex specified information. Even with a bias towards the right percentage of 1's is present, and a bias for getting the right number of changes is present, the probability for getting the ASCII code for "To be, or not to be–that is the question:", let alone the entire soliloquy, is so small that I would again be willing to vigorously reject the null hypothesis. In fact, I think one could safely reject the null hypothesis for any equivalently long English sentence. And it wouldn't be at the p < 0.05 level either.

  39. Allen MacNeill,

    You gave me two sequences you got by flipping a coin. The first one showed an excess of tails over heads of 26/12, for a two-tailed p-value of <0.034.

    It also had 9 tails in a row, something which should happen (making allowances for the fact that it could have been 9 heads in a row instead) once every 256 tries. Even allowing for the fact that those nine could have started anywhere in the pattern except for the last 8 positions, that's still 30/256, which is stretching it, but within the two-tailed probability limits.

    Finally, the probability of switching should be roughly 0.5. You have 16/37 switches (0.43). This is actually not unexpected at all, giving a p-value of roughly 0.5.

    These results, of course, are interrelated. If one has an excess of 0's, one can expect to have more 0's in a row, and a decreased likelihood of switching from 1 to 0 or back. (The obverse is not necessarily true, but can be.)

    Since the first result is in fact statistically significant at the p=0.05 level (a standard limit for statistics), it is reasonable to conclude, at least tentatively, that the numbers are not random. However, the numbers are close enough to the line to suggest that a repeat experiment be done. You have kindly done this, and the repeat experiment moved closer to the norm. This time, the number of tails is 16/38, the number of switches is 17/37, and the longest string is 4 (of which we have 4 strings). I could not say for sure, but without your telling me I could easily attribute this string to chance. Since you have told me, I have no reason not to believe you. If you then tell me that the first string is also random, I can more easily attribute it to Type I error, that is, rejecting the null hypothesis when one should really accept it, because the deviation from the mean is in fact caused by chance. For a p-value of <0.05, one is expected to make this error once every 20 times.

    (continued)

  40. Allen,

    Maybe further observations will not follow. The system has now eaten my comments sent three different ways.

  41. Barry Arrington has brought up an important point about design. Between his post and the comments here, there are concepts which need to be sorted out. Some of them are: design, non-design, randomness, complexity, natural law and intelligence.

    The words “Intelligent Design Theory” may actually be a bit of a stumbling block in the clear thinking the advocates are attempting. Design, as “lastyearon” says, is everywhere. However, the words at least provoke thought upon the subject.

    It is amazing to me that different numbers of the same particles can make such a difference in the properties of each atom, and the elements they comprise. And, of course, atoms combine to make even more interesting molecules. To me, they all look designed. The only non-design I can think of is the nothingness before God designed all things, seen and unseen.

    Though randomness may look useless in a typed string, there are many uses for randomness in the movement of atoms and molecules. The thermal energies of atoms make them move in a zigzag way called “Brownian Motion.” This motion is what led Einstein to prove the reality of atoms in his paper, “Investigations on the Theory of Brownian Movement.” If it were not for this motion, atoms would not mix in the atmosphere or diffuse in liquids. Imagine if oxygen did not diffuse in the air—we’d be running around looking for pockets to breathe (of course, in that case we wouldn’t be here at all). Therefore, I think what is often called random movement is itself designed. There is confusion when “random” is equated with “non-design.”

    Kolmogorov felt compelled to call random strings “complex.” I prefer Websterian complexity, defined as, “Complicated in structure; consisting of interconnected parts.” For more information, see: Webster’s Dictionary.

    http://www.websters-online-dic.....on/complex

    Complexity, in this understanding of it, can set apart the biological realm from other physical phenomena.

    Natural laws, such as gravity, are of course necessary for galaxies and planets to form, etc. Some of us believe these are also designed.

    The binary code is a product of intelligence, whether we detect the code or not. So are atoms and DNA products of intelligent design, in my opinion. I agree that there are levels to design. Michael Polanyi pointed this out in “Life Transcending Physics and Chemistry” in Chemical and Engineering News (1967). That is where ID theory is important: to point out the differences between the physical and chemical laws and the biological reality.

  42. You have well said.

  43. Heinrich — The problem in this case is the specification: how do you a priori specify the patterns that you are looking for.

    With design detection it’s not so much that you looking for a specific pattern but looking for a pattern that has specificity.

    Dembski specifically — no pun intended — addresses the point here (a pdf file)

    He defines specifications as “patterns delineating events of small probability whose occurrence cannot reasonably be attributed to chance.”

  44. If design can be seen in the fundamental constants that are responsible for the formation of atoms, molecules stars, galaxies and planets with oceans and atmospheres, why is an additional layer of design needed to produce life? What is the objection to seeing those same intelligently designed natural laws as responsible for life? If the glory and power of God can be attested to by observing the harmony and order of the natural world, who’s laws are not random but constant, why can’t it be attested to by observing those same laws as acting to produce us?

  45. Hi lastyearon,

    That is just what many people believe, including those called Theistic Evolutionists. It is just that right now, scientifically, it doesn’t look like He did it that way. The problem comes about when the Theistic Evolutionists and those who believe in complete, total materialism (philosophical materialists) do not even want to hear about the science which shows layers (levels), nor let anyone else hear about it. I am generalizing here—I don’t want to say this pertains to everyone in these categories, but certainly many. It affects what is taught in our school and university systems.

    To follow ID arguments is to learn about the science that shows these layers.

  46. lastyearon @40

    You make a good point. I don’t think there is any pre-requisite to add an additional layer of intelligent design. However, you would have to explain how those laws could give rise to highly specified information pertaining to biology. I don’t think anyone has even begun to answer how complex information could be obtained by laws governing physics and chemistry. ID is not adverse to such a notion, it’s just that it would seem unlikely as an explanation.

  47. womanatwell

    right now, scientifically, it doesn’t look like He did it that way

    If you are referring to the science of Intelligent Design, I reiterate: Intelligent Design sees design in certain objects only by distinguishing them from other objects that are the result of natural law, which is frequently referred to by IDers as random or ‘undirected’. But if the universe itself was designed, then it is not random or undirected. How then is it possible to distinguish between Intelligently Designed objects and objects resulting from an Intelligently Designed universe?

  48. To be more precise and concise, it seems to me that design detection in specific objects can be valid only under the assumption that natural law is indeed random and undirected.

  49. lastyearon,

    As I said previously, I think “design” is the wrong word to use to distinguish the layers of chemical and physical laws from biological reality. In other words, I think I am agreeing with you that both show design (I am not in agreement with ID people in the use of the term “design detection”).

    However, I do think there are different levels of design. The levels come in because the designed laws of physics and chemistry do not seem to lead scientifically to the formation of organisms, or to a seamless flow from lower to higher organisms. The organisms also seem designed. We are observing the difference scientifically.

    Someone asked on another thread something like, how can we say everything is designed if there is nothing else to compare it with? I think God gives us an ability to sense all of Creation, a sense we can either develop or ignore. It is OK to think you can prove all nature is at only one level, but not OK to refuse to listen to the other side.

  50. Thanks for your quick response. It sounds as though we are agreeing that one can see that the universe was designed.
    My frustration is with the common argument for Intelligent Design, which by definition assumes that natural law is random or undirected (hence the distinction between natural objects and Intelligently Designed objects).

    The idea that there are multiple layers of design is intriguing, but I see that as a very different argument than (and incompatible with) ID theory, which does not mention anything about multiple layers of design, but instead simply posits that certain objects are clearly designed because they could not have been created via undirected natural law.

  51. womanatwell

    the designed laws of physics and chemistry do not seem to lead scientifically to the formation of organisms, or to a seamless flow from lower to higher organisms

    Putting aside for a moment wether this is true on not. From a strictly theological perspective, doesn’t that limit the power of God? As an analogy, when we witness with awe, the power of God as we look at a beautiful sunset, we don’t say God created the Sun and the Earth’s atmosphere but that color of purple is just too beautiful to be an indirect cause of his creation so he must’ve specifically applied it via paintbrush onto the sky. That is limiting Gods power. So to with life. It seems limiting to Gods power to say that the laws of nature he designed aren’t capable of producing complexity on the scale of living organisms.

  52. aqeels

    I don’t think anyone has even begun to answer how complex information could be obtained by laws governing physics and chemistry. ID is not adverse to such a notion, it’s just that it would seem unlikely as an explanation

    Just to be clear, are you saying that it would seem unlikely that the laws God created would allow complex life to arise out of physics or Chemistry? Or that it is unlikely that we will ever discover those specific laws?
    If its the former, then 2 questions: Why do you think it’s unlikely? And what gives you the right to say what God likely would have done?
    If it’s the latter, then that is an entirely different question. There are plenty of things that aren’t, and probably never will be understood by us. That doesn’t mean they aren’t governed by natural law.

  53. lastyearon:

    My frustration is with the common argument for Intelligent Design, which by definition assumes that natural law is random or undirected…

    You are incorrect. There are three causal possibilities for any event, and only three. Law, contingency (chance), and agency (intelligence). Please refer to just about any of Dembski’s books or Meyer’s books for more detail.

  54. tragic

    There are three causal possibilities for any event, and only three. Law, contingency (chance), and agency (intelligence)

    Are each of these possibilities mutually exclusive? Are all events that result from contingency, or law by definition not the result of agency?

  55. lastyearon,

    Are all events that result from contingency, or law by definition not the result of agency?

    Good question. Cannot physical laws, for example those related to the constants we see in a fine-tuned universe, be produced by agency? I was thinking from our discussion that a better term than “design detection” might be “design level detection.”

    As to what limits God—I think the discussion for this could be limitless ;-). I could ask you if you are limiting God by not allowing Him to design on various levels. If I remember CS Lewis correctly, he dismisses the types of arguments that get close to asking whether God can make a rock larger than He can lift.

  56. lastyearon — why is an additional layer of design needed to produce life?

    That’s the wrong question. It’s not “why is an additional layer of design needed” but “is there an additional level of design”

    With regard to why” questions, why should one object if there should be an additional layer of design?

    wWhat is the objection to seeing those same intelligently designed natural laws as responsible for life?

    ID does not object. ID simply describes an observable trait in biological objects.

  57. lastyearon:

    Are each of these possibilities mutually exclusive? Are all events that result from contingency, or law by definition not the result of agency?

    Short answer: Yes. This is the crux of Dembski’s Explanatory Filter. After law and chance can be ruled out, agency is the logical conclusion.

    waw,

    C.S. Lewis was an atheist from age 9 to about 30. Like most young atheists, he thought that those types of “gotcha” questions actually counted as an argument. “Can God make a rock so big he can’t lift it? Hahahaha.” I actually had an adult atheist friend ask me that question. I looked at him and said, “No.” And your point is?

    Lewis’ point was that the question itself is nonsense. It’s a logical impossibility. Being unable to perform logical impossibilities does not impinge on omnipotence. It’s no different from asking if God can be both God and not God at the same time. Obviously not, because that’s a logical impossibility.

  58. tragic

    Short answer: Yes. This is the crux of Dembski’s Explanatory Filter. After law and chance can be ruled out, agency is the logical conclusion.

    So by Dembski’s own definition of Intelligent Design the universe cannot be the result of Agency. Some things are the result of law and chance (and by definition not Agency) and other things (presumably life) are the result of Agency. This argument is completely incompatible with the idea of a Fine Tuned universe. Does anyone disagree? If so, please elaborate.

  59. womanatwell

    I was thinking from our discussion that a better term than “design detection” might be “design level detection.”

    Detecting levels of design may be an intriguing path that could lead to something. But it would have to use some formula for detecting a level of design other than the ones IDers use, because the ones IDers use (ie Dembski’s Explanatory Filter) explicitly rule out any Design in the creation of the laws of the universe (see tragic mishaps post #53).

  60. tragic mishap @53,

    Are each of these possibilities mutually exclusive? Are all events that result from contingency, or law by definition not the result of agency?

    Short answer: Yes. This is the crux of Dembski’s Explanatory Filter. After law and chance can be ruled out, agency is the logical conclusion.

    Why is it not “possible” for an agent to cause events via contingency or law?
    An agent may not be concerned with a specific outcome.

    For example, I can deal a set of cards without caring about their distribution even though the person I deal them to certainly will.

    If I don’t deal them at all though, they’ll just sit on the table.

  61. lastyear,

    What is the logical prohibition of using designed materials in designed objects?

  62. tragic mishap @53,

    Being unable to perform logical impossibilities does not impinge on omnipotence.

    I think it does since what limits us should not limit an omnipotent being.
    For instance, by making a rock big enough to hold the universe inside it, I nullify the only mass that can hold it immobile. By not having any mass outside of it though, I can no longer lift it off anything.

    It is your logic that is limiting your omnipotent being, not his power.

  63. I think that what I am trying to say at 58, is that we are raising the act of performing logic up to the level of the evidence that drives it.

    The logic can be flawless, but by not properly choosing the data we input, we can get any output we want.

    I think it is wrong to point at any conclusion and say that it was the logic that proved it.

  64. What is the logical prohibition of using designed materials in designed objects?

    Upright BiPed, you are missing the point. my point is that it is impossible for us to distinguish an object as having been designed if everything in the universe was designed. So it may be possible for god to specifically design some things, and let the laws of nature take its course everywhere else. But if the laws of nature are themselves designed, there is no way for us to know which objects are specifically designed. Dembski’s EF states that plainly. Only by ruling out law and chance as causation can we infer Agency (design). If the laws of the universe were caused by Agency then the Explanatory Filter breaks down.

  65. So, if the material of a object was designed, then the design of the object itself will be somehow masked by that material?

    So, as an example of the logic, if I see a synthetic rubber tire, I cannot discern the pattern of the tread because of the material used to build it.

    Got it.

  66. Not quite, but you’re getting there Upright BiPed. Let me help you out…
    In your example, we know that a synthetic rubber tire was designed because we can go to a synthetic rubber tire plant and see people designing and manufacturing them. In the case of natural objects like living organisms, the only method ID uses to detect design is by ruling out chance and law (Dembski’s EF, Behe’s IC). Therefore chance and law are mutually exclusive to design, and thus ID theory is incompatible with a Fine Tuned universe.

  67. The heavens declare the glory of God;
    The skies proclaim the work of His hands.

    Psalm 19:1

    This gets a little deeper than I have time for today. I’ll try to be back tomorrow.

  68. —lastyearon to Upright Biped

    —”Not quite, but you’re getting there Upright BiPed. Let me help you out…In your example, we know that a synthetic rubber tire was designed because we can go to a synthetic rubber tire plant and see people designing and manufacturing them. In the case of natural objects like living organisms, the only method ID uses to detect design is by ruling out chance and law (Dembski’s EF, Behe’s IC). Therefore chance and law are mutually exclusive to design, and thus ID theory is incompatible with a Fine Tuned universe.”

    Let me help you out. ID does not declare that Law and Chance are “mutually exclusive to design” in the sense of claiming that they were not, or could not, have been designed; it declares only that law and chance as causes, are distinct from agency in terms of what they produce.

    You seem to think, mistakenly, that since ID allows that natural laws were designed, it must also allow that their effects are designed. In effect, you are confusing the idea of natural laws as an effect of designer’s act of creation, which they are, with the idea of natural laws as causal producers of events, which they also are.

  69. Toronto,

    tragic mishap:

    Being unable to perform logical impossibilities does not impinge on omnipotence.

    Toronto:

    I think it does since what limits us should not limit an omnipotent being.

    Nonsense doesn’t cease to be nonsense because we add the words “God can” to it.

  70. Clive Hayden @65,

    Toronto:

    I think it does since what limits us should not limit an omnipotent being.

    Nonsense doesn’t cease to be nonsense because we add the words “God can” to it.

    I don’t follow.

    Are you saying an omnipotent being has some sort of limits?

  71. StephenB

    Let me help you out. ID does not declare that Law and Chance are “mutually exclusive to design” in the sense of claiming that they were not, or could not, have been designed; it declares only that law and chance as causes, are distinct from agency in terms of what they produce.

    Let’s take a closer look at that statement. You say that ID claims to be able to differentiate between Law, Chance and Agency, but that does not mean that Law and Chance weren’t themselves designed (ie a product of Agency).
    But if Law and Chance are themselves a product of Agency, then nothing in our universe is not the product of Agency, which invalidates the argument for ID. So I reiterate, the only way to claim that it is possible to detect design in specific things is by claiming that the universe is not itself designed.

    Let me make a different argument. You say that “law and chance as causes, are distinct from agency in terms of what they produce.” If we say that Law and Chance were produced by Agency (the fine tuned universe) and we also say that human beings were produced by Agency, then given that human beings design things, why cannot Law and Chance also design things (evolution). In other words, how does one come to the conclusion that Law and Chance don’t have the same ability to produce complex things as we do, given that we are both the direct product of Agency.

  72. Toronto,

    Nonsense is not a limit, God can do anything, nonsense is not a thing.

  73. Clive Hayden @68,

    tragic mishap:

    Being unable to perform logical impossibilities does not impinge on omnipotence.

    I still don’t follow.

    Are you saying that God cannot do anything we consider logically impossible ?

  74. lastyearon:

    But if Law and Chance are themselves a product of Agency, then nothing in our universe is not the product of Agency, which invalidates the argument for ID. So I reiterate, the only way to claim that it is possible to detect design in specific things is by claiming that the universe is not itself designed.

    You are assuming that an “event” or “thing to be explained” is equal to “the entire causal chain leading up to that event or thing”. That is not the case. An event or thing can be evaluated by itself. In fact, that’s really all science can do, since we don’t have a way to observe the distant past.

  75. In other words, how does one come to the conclusion that Law and Chance don’t have the same ability to produce complex things as we do, given that we are both the direct product of Agency.

    ID defines complexity as low probability. Perhaps you are working with a different definition? According to the probability definition, Chance and Agency can both produce things of high complexity, while Law cannot since Law can only produce things with a probability of one.

  76. tragic

    You are assuming that an “event” or “thing to be explained” is equal to “the entire causal chain leading up to that event or thing”. That is not the case. An event or thing can be evaluated by itself. In fact, that’s really all science can do, since we don’t have a way to observe the distant past.

    Don’t you see that in this very statement you are conceding that it is possible that Law and Chance are capable of producing complex things like life. Evolutionary biologists study the causal chains. It is ID that says the entire causal chain of Chance and Law is not capable of producing life, hence Agency.

    ID defines complexity as low probability. Perhaps you are working with a different definition? According to the probability definition, Chance and Agency can both produce things of high complexity, while Law cannot since Law can only produce things with a probability of one.

    Hmm…I wasn’t aware that that was the definition of complexity. Is that how it’s used throughout?

  77. —–lastyearon: “Let’s take a closer look at that statement. You say that ID claims to be able to differentiate between Law, Chance and Agency, but that does not mean that Law and Chance weren’t themselves designed (ie a product of Agency).”

    Right.

    —-“But if Law and Chance are themselves a product of Agency, then nothing in our universe is not the product of Agency, which invalidates the argument for ID.

    ID can detect that the products from the first Agency cause [God if you like] that manifest themselves as law-like regularities [and its cooperation with chance] are different from the products of the first Agency cause [God] that manifest themselves as designed objects [DNA patterns] and [human agents] by examining the design patterns IN the DNA and those left BY the humans and recognizing [a] that they are similar and [b] that natural laws have never been known to produce anything like them. Once the nature of those patterns have been established, ID can then distinguish between the law like regularities designed by the first Agent, which have no such patterns, and the designed entities from the first Agent which do.

    —-The argument from ID is that the effects of law and chance are distinguishable from the effects of agency.

    Right.

    —-“So I reiterate, the only way to claim that it is possible to detect design in specific things is by claiming that the universe is not itself designed.”

    That is incorrect for the reasons just stated.

    —-“Let me make a different argument. You say that “law and chance as causes, are distinct from agency in terms of what they produce.” If we say that Law and Chance were produced by Agency (the fine tuned universe) and we also say that human beings were produced by Agency, then given that human beings design things, why cannot Law and Chance also design things (evolution)”

    Because innovation or creative design requires a choice among alternatives, and laws can neither innovate, choose nor be creative. They can only repeat what they do. If they could do anything else, they wouldn’t be laws.

  78. LYO (and others):

    Just passing by, noticed this thread.

    I suspect you would benefit from looking at the diagram and discussion here on (and from actually pausing to summarise accurately what your interlocutors are saying instead of re-framing it in your own context; which is ending up in erecting and knocking over strawmen).

    I note,in step by step points:

    1 –> Objects, processes and events are indeed complicated, and are known — per massive experience — to manifest interactions of chance [stochastic or happenstance patterns], predictable forces that give rise to natural regularities [law], and actions of intelligence.

    2 –> My capital example for this is that (i) heavy but unsupported objects drop, (ii) if they are fair dice they tumble to positions at random, (iii) the tossed dice may be part of an intelligent game that uses structured random elements to help fulfill a functional, complex, specific purpose. (And of course a loaded die is itself going to take advantage of lawlike regularities to provide a biased outcome where the naive might expect a fair distribution.)

    3 –> Similarly, a typical scientific experimental or observational study will as a rule reflect law and chance, in a context that may be artificially contrived to manifest significant patterns, or it may be selected for observation for similar reasons. (Think of particle physics experiments in a bubble chamber vs astronomical observations of say a supernova.)

    4 –> Magic step: we are looking at ASPECTS of the objects or events, and we are thinking about the DIRECT and OBSERVATIONALLY DISTINGUISHABLE causal factors that are or may be at work.

    5 –> BTW, the word “observationally” highlights that all human knowledge is inherently subjective, but may also be objective, i.e. we see a self-evident truth here, that empirically based knowledge is possible.

    6 –> So, if we are loking at an interstingly shaped functional object (say a putative car part) we may specify a grid-net of points, and note how the variablity affects function.

    7 –> Such a net of specified points [and of associated factors such as materials] can be converted into a bit pattern, and the island of function may be inferred from the degree of tolerance permissible.

    8 –> Once that bit pattern passes the rule of thumb threshold of 500 – 1,000 bits, at he upper end we are beyond ten times the square of he number of Planck-time quantum states the observed comsos’ atoms will go through across their lifespan.

    9 –> That is, we have a credible inference that the whole observed universe, per argument, acting as a random search engine would not be able to scan enough configurations to have a search that would not round down to zero.

    10 –> With one exception: if there is a precise law at work that under specific starting conditions, would cause the part to tumble into a functional config (i.e we have dramatically cut down the config space), we see law and chance together as immediate source.

    11 –> Howbeit, the functional specificity of the law and the initial circumstances are suspicious. [That is they would strongly point to an additional factor at work: art.]

    12 –> And we here see that we have looked at various aspects, and are assigning causal factors per aspect: (i) law constrains contingency, (ii) chance manifests stochastic patterns that may be complex but are unlikely to be functionally specific [islands of function effect], (iii) art may make use of the above but injects intelligence to achieve a purpose that would otherwise be unlikely on the assumption of no intelligent constraint or structuring.

    13 –> Thus we see that he commonsense observation that the design filter as is commonly used in statistical studies, is credible for what it does. (And, Mr MacNeill, your strings were not 500 – 1,000 bits long, so they are irrelevant to the design inference.)

    14 –> As a first relevant context, we see the putative ocean or pond chemical soup or volcano hot vent. There is no reason to infer that any chance factors beyond those studied under statistical mechanics would be at work, which would tend to rapidly reduce the soup to equilibrium, not the construction of complex information rich molecules and integration of same into functional life forms as observed. The laws of necessity would affect some physical or chemical processes, but the dynamics would be dominated by the sort of chemical patterns just described.

    15 –> That is why OOL studies is in the perplexity we can so easily observe, e.g. in the recent sharp exchanges between Orgel and Shapiro.

    16 –> Per argument, we take a putative early unicellular life form, and propose that it creates novel body plans by chance variation, horizontal gene transfers [but one has to make the functional genes before transferring them, and one has to have a common code and algorithms for that to work . . . ] , and selection forces on niches. The problem here is that we are looking at 10′s – 100′s of millions of bits worth of new functional, integrated, code based information, which is again only going to come from fine tuning of law and chance, or from chance.

    17 –> So, we have good reason to explain both the OOL and the OO body plan level biodiveristy on design.

    18 –> Worse, we see that the c-chemistry, cell based life we observe rests on a cosmos that creates galactic habitable zones with life-friendly terrestrial planets [earth not venus!] in circumstellar habitable zones.

    19 –> General Relativity leads to the implication that we have a finely tuned cosmos for that to happen, a degree of finetuning that would specify a considerable number of bits. (And multiverse models, the proposed alternative, boil down to a save the phenomena for evolutionary materialism exercise in empirically unconstrained metaphysical speculation.)

    20 –> So, even through the EF’s biasing that defaults to law for regularity and chance for contingency, we can be confident that inference to design on conservative thresholds of complexity and functional specificity is reliable.

    21 –> it also accords well with our experience and observation: we routinely — and without serious exception — directly observe FSCI coming from art, and we simply do not see repeatable cases of law + chance giving rise to same. We have a good search of config space reason for that. So we can be highly confident inthe observation.

    22 –> Why, then, is it hat this fairly simple and obvious empirically anchored inference is so desperately resisted? ANS: because it cuts across a currently dominant school of thought.

    23 –> Finally, we note that by highlighting the direct causal factors on aspects of objects and events, we are able to see that, indeed, there may be levels of design at work in ways that do not vitiate the distinction being made at any given level.

    24 –> So, we may assign the falling of a heavy item to law, the resulting tumbling of a fair die to chance, and the tumbling of a loaded one to law and chance.

    25 –> From that simple case, we may infer to he direct causal factors on a peculiarly shaped metal object vs say a stone from a field, and we may extend to the origin of c-Chemistry, information based cellular life and body plans, and we may also do the same to the observed cosmos that facilitates such life.

    26 –> And, as has just been demonstrated, we can easily do so — unlike in the strawman-framed cases above — without hesitancy or confusion.

    ___________

    I trust this is helpful.

    G’night

    GEM of TKI

  79. F/N; In point 24 I needed to say we assign the behaviour of a loaded die to law and chance constrained by art!

  80. Mr Arrington:

    I note that the rhetorical underpinnings of LYO’s arguments show that (especially from now on) the overall origins science design inference issue has to be dealt with as a whole, step by step.

    I believe we therefore need to first highlight that the focus here is on the empirical inference per what we can directly observe, and not on metaphysically loaded assumptions.

    (BTW, I suspect that is where LYO’s line of rhetorical framing heads, i.e. it is a novel form of the old “You’re smuggling in a God- of- the- gaps”/ “Creationism in a cheap tuxedo” argument. If so, it is inter alia meant to rhetorically blunt the perceived force of the point that the materialist neo-magisterium [e.g. NAS, NCSE, NSTA, Judge "Copycat" Jones, etc etc], through imposing methodological naturalism, is building in a priori Lewontinian materialism into origins science.)

    So, you are fundamentally right to emphasise that we directly and routinely observe and distinguish empirically grounded characteristics of chance, mechanical necessity, and design. CJY et al are right to point out that all three or two of the three may interact significantly in any given situation, but as I have stressed for some time now, once we focus on ASPECTS that we study, we may often readily distinguish these directly acting causal factors.

    (This last comes from my experience of doing experiments and observations in Physics, starting with school level physics where one distinguishes the pattern due to law of necessity from that due to the usual experimental scatter and to bias imposed by the procedure or instrumentation, or even by Astronomy’s infamous “personal equation.” [In the famous case of the surveys used to ground the metre, lack of awareness of these factors led one of the scientists involved to take desperate measures.] )

    On this foundation, we may fairly easily validate the general design filter per signs of necessity, chance and intelligence and show how well it integrates into the generic scientific method. We can see from this that there are some well-tested, reliable signs of intelligence — and observe, LYO, the focus is on empirical observations and validated patterns of DIRECT causal factors.

    In particular, CSI — esp. in its functional form [and note my recent extension through the nodes and arcs, wiring diagram/ mesh of points approach] — is a reliable sign of the art-ifical. So, per equally massive observation, is irreducible complexity of multi-part systems. (And, using the classic “exploded view” to generate a “wiring diagram” plus point-mesh components view allows us to digitise the degree of complexity involved in an IC system: how many points have to be specified to get a workable system, and what happens if we drop out core parts or plug them back in?)

    Algorithms and associated linguistic codes and required physical implementing machinery are another case, and there are doubtless other credible signs of intelligence acting through art that creatively uses the forces and materials of nature to achieve purposeful ends.

    And, LYO et al, I am deliberately echoing the classical definition of engineering. Here is the ABET official definition:

    Engineering design is the process of devising a system, component, or process to meet desired needs. It is a decision-making process (often iterative), in which the basic science and mathematics and engineering sciences [I add: i.e. preferably quantitiative -- but just as validly intuitive -- knowledge of the laws, forces, chance-based processes and materials of nature] are applied to convert resources optimally to meet a stated objective. Among the fundamental elements of the design process are the establishment of objectives and criteria, synthesis, analysis, construction, testing and evaluation . . .

    I here confidently assert on a vast body of experience, that such signs of intelligence, per massive observation, are reliable. And, on such reliability, it is normal for science to infer to a general pattern. That is, we see here the classic, provisional [but empirically reliable] inductive scientific and/or common- sensical generalisation that grounds confident inference from sign to signified.

    Therein lieth the rub.

    For, once we move from the operational, going-concern world of the directly observable present, to investigate deep time origins based on signs in the present, we run into the implications of the Lewontinian a priori materialistic imposition. It is this imposition and not any defect in reasoning from sign to signified, that is the basis for rejecting design inferences from signs of intelligence in C-chemistry, cell based life, which abundantly manifests all three signs of intelligence as just described.

    Remove the a priori, and the inference in this case is at once blatantly obvious.

    But also, once we accept the premise of inference from sign to signified, we also look at the observed cosmos that facilitates C-chemistry, cell based life. It too manifests multi-part integrated complex functionality that is exceedingly fine-tuned — thus, specific — for the observed function. That is, we can construct a complex nodes and arcs “wiring diagram” of laws and parameters that drive the cosmological processes that evidently gave rise to galaxies with habitable zones, and stars with life-friendly terrestrial planets, including of course a certain G-2 star of our close acquaintance.

    So, we have a cluster of signs that point to intelligence as their best, empirically anchored explanation.

    (And LYO, kindly notice, we are here arguing by inference to best explanation anchored on empirical observation in the present, using the logic of abduction. That is, we are accepting the counter-flow between the chain of logical implication and the locus of empirical support: We have facts F1, F2, Fn, and we note candidate explanations E1, E2, . . . En. Which best accounts for ALL the material facts, most coherently and with explanatory elegance as opposed to being either simplistic or an ad hoc patchwork? On signs of intelligence, we contend that design is the best explanation for C-chemistry cell based life, and for the observed credibly fine tuned cosmos that facilitates it. This is NOT a deductive “proof,” which can be no stronger than its assumptions, and is also irreducibly uncertain in a post Godel world, even for mathematics.)

    So, we see levels of design, and a stepwise progression from direct observaiton and identificaiton of signs of design, to acceptance of these signs, to use of such signs in origins science starting with cell based life,a nd onward to cosmological design inferences.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

    PS: StephenB, I note that in science laws can be laws of mechanical necessity a la the Newtonian laws of motion and gravitation, or statistical or probabilistic laws a la those of statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics. So, one could enfold both chance and necessity under “law,” and therefore we should use necessity, chance and design or synonyms to mark the relevant distinctions. (In Plato’s The Laws Bk X, he uses accident, phusis [= nature], techne [= art]. Monod spoke of chance and necessity, and that is probably the best vocabulary to use. I sometimes stress mechanical necessity. Before I forget: a programmmed process that acts by an algorithm — whether explicitly linguistically coded or implied by an implicit or explicit mechanical sequencer [e.g. cams] — is plainly an act of art.)

  81. 81

    kairosfocus, thank you for your insights. Your observation is, as always, cogent and well nigh logically unassailable.

  82. lastyearon,

    Detecting levels of design may be an intriguing path that could lead to something. But it would have to use some formula for detecting a level of design other than the ones IDers use, because the ones IDers use (ie Dembski’s Explanatory Filter) explicitly rule out any Design in the creation of the laws of the universe

    I’d like to add one more comment if I may to our discussion (lastyearon). I think many ID ideas are sound because of general principles.

    The microbiological systems that Behe calls irreducible are made of interlocking parts which are made of molecules such as amino acids. The molecules have certain chemical properties outside of biological life. The chemical laws are the same whether you call them designed or not. The atoms are the same, and the systems inside the organism are the same. Irreducible complexity still could be taken as a good argument.

    And William Dembski, in The Design Inference, sets out to find patterns that eliminate chance (see Preface). Physical nature makes random patterns whether it is designed or not. There are still probabilistic resources such as Dembski describes. He compares chance with specified complexity, which is helpful in evaluating DNA and other biological structures.

    IMO a problem arises because Dembski uses examples in his descriptions such as random card, coin and letter arrangements. That is all right for demonstration, but when you move from these metaphors to the real situation of atoms and molecules, you have entities which are controlled by physical and chemical laws. Now, as I said, the laws are the same whether you call them designed or not. BUT IF these laws are designed, then you are not proving design when you compare them to biology, you are comparing designs. This seems true to me no matter what they cause.

    And, many people believe that the fine-tuning of the universe, including just the right strength of gravity, just the right forces and charges to make planets and people, do demonstrate design.

  83. lastyearon:

    Usually an IDer who knows the subject means “low probability” when they say “complexity” yes. In fact we usually mean an event whose probability is so low it lies outside the Universal Probability Bound (UPB) which is 10^-150.

    So as I said before, Law is incapable of producing complex things by definition because Law can only produce things or events with a probability of one, which means that given the corresponding caveats the same thing will happen every time. Chance can produce complex things, but it cannot reasonably be expected to produce complex, specified things. This is Dembski’s specified complexity, which when used in informatics terms is Complex Specified Information (CSI) and the UPB corresponds to about 500 bits of information.

    Dembski’s further work on the subject, and he has published papers on this, shows that when given a string such as the one MacNeill suggested the “method” or program needed to generate the string through a process governed by Law must contain at least as much information as the string itself. In other words, the string can be said to have no information, but the method which produced it is now the real information and can be evaluated by ID theory. So ID theory can be applied to Law and come to the same conclusion as the fine tuning argument.

    Perhaps it would clear things up if you explained the fine tuning argument and why you believe it. If you do so, I will show you that the argument is a percursor to the basic ID argument from specified complexity.

  84. —-kairosfocus: ” StephenB, I note that in science laws can be laws of mechanical necessity a la the Newtonian laws of motion and gravitation, or statistical or probabilistic laws a la those of statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics. So, one could enfold both chance and necessity under “law,” and therefore we should use necessity, chance and design or synonyms to mark the relevant distinctions. (In Plato’s The Laws Bk X, he uses accident, phusis [= nature], techne [= art]. Monod spoke of chance and necessity, and that is probably the best vocabulary to use. I sometimes stress mechanical necessity. Before I forget: a programmmed process that acts by an algorithm — whether explicitly linguistically coded or implied by an implicit or explicit mechanical sequencer [e.g. cams] — is plainly an act of art.)”

    Agreed. And you have characterized the situation very well. Also, I note that we are dealing with two strawmen here, [a] Darwinistic “God of the Gaps” and [b] TE’s Everything-is-designed [God's creative activity]-therefore-design-cannot-be -distinguished-from-non-design. I was addressing the second straBoth arguments fail, but the answer to the atheist strawmen is of a slightly different texture than the answer to the TE strawman. However, I think your answer addresses both.

  85. Kairosfocus @74 & 76. Well said.

  86. WAW

    That is why I and others here at UD have emphasised functionally specific complex information [cf the weak argument correctives], and it is why I have discussed the significance of wiring diagrams comprising arcs and nodes, for such entities.

    the practical upshot is that once you have a system that credibly stores 1,000+ bits of functional info, and where modest perturbation will destroy function, you have excellent reason to conclude design. Life-functional DNA starts at well north of 100 k bits, i.e two orders of magnitude beyond the threshold. And it is credible that for body plans of multicellular complex organisms, you are needing 10′s to 100′s+ M bits of novel functional, integrated DNA. that is four or more orders of magnitude beyond the threshold.

    Also, to cover self-replicaiton, per von neumann, we are looking at need to store a digitsed blueprint that easily surpasses the same threshold, plus codes, algorithms, data structures and implemeting machines that have to work together in aco-ordinated way.

    Absent imposition of a priori materialism a la Lewontin, it is blatant that these systems are best explained as designed.

    And so we come to Philip Johnson’s Nov 1997 rebuttal to Lewontin’s notorious article:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. 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.] When the public understands this clearly, Lewontin’s Darwinism will start to move out of the science curriculum and into the department of intellectual history, where it can gather dust on the shelf next to Lewontin’s Marxism. [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    GEM of TKI

  87. Stephen:

    Thanks.

    Been buzee . . .

    I think we need to stress that we are starting with empirical observation not metaphysical a prioris.

    It is on induciton that we ground signs of intelligence, necessity and chance. And it is on inference to best explaantion that we then take the step of going to other instacnes where we do not directly observe teh creative or origin process.

    And, we have a toolbox that is credible and tells us some very significant things.

    So, TE’s should note that we are distinguishing the direct signs of design, in relevant systems, not imposing metaphysical a prioris.

    We are using signs to distinguish which causal factors are responsible for relevant aspects of an object or event, and in that context, design enters stage right as a candidate to be tested vs observables, not as an a priori assumption.

    And when it moves on to the issue of the cosmos as a whole, it is the same credibly trusty signs of design that are at work.

    GEM of TKI

  88. Mr Arrington

    Thanks

    GEM of TKI

  89. Stephen

    On looking above I sre I am hoist on my own petard, boom, I go flying.

    I too have used Law as I should not have!

    GEM of TKI

  90. kairosfocus @82,

    But the whole point of the Evo argument is that life evolved from , and got incrementally more complex.
    In other words, “(state 0)” to
    “(state 1)” to ….”(state 2^x)” to …”(state current)”.
    Your argument hinges on an immediate transition from “(state 0)” to “(state current)”.
    A public panel will ask, what is the probability of going from “(state n)” to “(state n+1)”?

    Here we are talking about not even 1 bit, but one single state transition.

    The public forum will expect you to address that, not attempt to discount it.

    What is your reply to the improbability of a single state transition?

  91. Noone answered my objections to ID (specifically that it is incompatible with a Designed universe).

    The only plausible solution is that there are levels to design. But the argument for Intelligent Design says that we distinguish designed objects from objects that are a result of Law or Chance, because Law and Chance are undirected, and cannot design things. If you believe that the universe (and its laws) were designed by God, you cannot also believe its possible to detect specific examples of design.
    Either God has designed a universe that gives rise to the complexity of life, or he did not design the universe, only specific objects within the universe.

  92. The ID argument uses human designers as an analogy, but heres a simple statement that shows how ID is self contradictory if the universe was designed:

    When we look at our world we see that only human beings (as opposed to nature) produce complex specified information.
    So, we determine that only intelligent agents produce complex specified information.
    But…
    Human beings are complex specified information.
    Therefore…
    Intelligent Agents produce things that produce complex specified information.
    So…
    Since Intelligent Agents produce things that can produce complex specified information, and an Intelligent Agent produced nature, then nature can produce complex specified information.
    Done.

  93. lastyearon @88,

    That was well said.

    That’s the kind of statement we can bring before a Board of Education that wants to debate bringing ID into schools.

  94. LYO — If you believe that the universe (and its laws) were designed by God, you cannot also believe its possible to detect specific examples of design.

    That’s a pretty silly thing to write.

  95. tribune7 @90,

    LYO — If you believe that the universe (and its laws) were designed by God, you cannot also believe its possible to detect specific examples of design.

    That’s a pretty silly thing to write.

    I think the statement by “LYO” is the type of statement a Board of Education would want clarified if ID wanted to be taught.

    What are 5 examples of intelligent design and 5 examples of natural design for students to compare?

  96. tribune7,
    Tell me how you would detect specific examples of design if the entire universe was designed.

  97. Toronto @ 69
    “Are you saying that God cannot do anything we consider logically impossible?”

    Sorry for barging in but I’d say that God cannot do anything that IS logically impossible. Since logic or reason IS part of His essence. Or so He says in Exodus 3:14.

  98. LYO, you are saying because the universe is designed we are unable to detect specific examples of design.

    So, this impersonal designer writes a program, set things in motion that gives rise to life, which increases in complexity as programmed.

    So, Man appears, as directed, and one day one of these men approach a counter and sees an iPhone.

    On the basis of your philosophical premise, this man would not be able to determine that the iPhone was designed.

    IOW, it’s a pretty silly premise.

  99. tgpeeler @93,

    Toronto @ 69
    “Are you saying that God cannot do anything we consider logically impossible?”

    Sorry for barging in but I’d say that God cannot do anything that IS logically impossible. Since logic or reason IS part of His essence. Or so He says in Exodus 3:14.

    Toronto, Ontario is a port city. We welcome barges. :)

    I agree with you.

    My reply was to a comment that simply because an omnipotent being could not do something logically impossible, he was still omnipotent.

    This being would have to be able to do things we might consider to be illogical in order to appear omnipotent.

    They might not be illogical to him even though they appear to be to us.

    By taking the viewpoint that he can’t do certain things, he is no longer omnipotent by definition.

    So regardless of what we consider logically or physically limiting, we have to take it on faith that they in no way constrain him.

  100. tribune7 @94,

    On the basis of your philosophical premise, this man would not be able to determine that the iPhone was designed.

    IOW, it’s a pretty silly premise.

    The problem is that the phone, the man, the counter, the wooden floor under his feet, the ground, the bacteria, the water molecules, the fine-tuned nuclear force holding atoms together, gravity and the light reflecting off the phone are all designed in a designed universe.

    What non-designed thing is distinct from these?

    Nothing.

    So you can’t detect a designed thing from being different than anything else since nothing exists that wasn’t designed.

    That’s the problem of the fine-tuned universe theory.

  101. 101

    Lastyear,

    Your logic is simply hopeless. I’m convinced this is why you keep having you go off into the weeds in order to support it.

    The laws of the universe (designed or not) can only accomplish certain things. This is a matter of our universal experience with the laws that govern the universe in which we live. You are suggesting that if the laws of the universe are designed, then they will be necessarily capable of anything.

    What part of Newtonian Mechanics, Einstein’s Relativity, Maxwell’s Electromagnetic Field, or Quantum Mechanics are responsible for the existence of a golf ball? If you cannot provide a direct answer to that, (i.e. the existence of a golf ball is due to the Law of X) then your argument utterly fails.

    Our universal experience tells us that something more is necessary to explain the existence of certain things in the Universe. An additional input is needed above just the laws of, say, electromagnetism and gravity.

    This entire scenario holds true whether you are an ID supporter or not. Laws act like Laws (designed or not). It is at the very heart of scientific exploration.

    I tried to illuminate the issue with as few words as possible in comment #21.

    So, if the material of a object was designed, then the design of the object itself will be somehow masked by that material?

    So, as an example of the logic, if I see a synthetic rubber tire, I cannot discern the pattern of the tread because of the material used to build it.

    Yet, your reply went out into the weeds.

    Perhaps, if you’ll just return to the answers you’ve been given and deal directly with them, you might lead yourself out of (what seems to be) a self-imposed fog.

  102. Allen @ 2
    “How about these two strings:

    Is there any detectable design or pattern in either one?”

    I’m always late to the party but may I suggest that this question doesn’t really even address the issue that needs to be addressed. The interesting question, the one that MUST BE answered, is WHY do either of these strings of symbols (or this string for that matter) mean ANYTHING? The reason is that there is an externally imposed pattern on the symbols that has been recognized by another intelligent being. There is a CODE. In the case of the 1s and 0s a simple code and in the case of English a much more complicated code and in the case of life an unknown order of magnitudes more complex code (or language, if you please).

    In the case of the string of letters, or symbols, I am using to type this reply, the English language is being used. The reason these symbols mean something (grant me the assumptions that I should make here but would be tedious to enumerate) is the readers recognize the symbols of the English alphabet and they understand the rules that govern the use of those symbols. Therefore, communication can take place. But the problem for the naturalist is that there is no accounting for the symbols and rules of language with the ONLY explanatory tools they have, the laws of physics and eons of time. And since mind is specifically denied causal power in “nature” by the a priori commitment to naturalism, well one can obviously see that naturalism can never, ever explain language and therefore information, and therefore life.

    The problem is philosophical. It is the ontology of naturalism that is slavishly adhered to with a fervor and devotion that defies reason that is the problem. How can any rational human being not understand that it is irrational to deny the existence of certain things (mind, design, purpose, agency, etc…) prior to any evidence being examined and THEN say that the conclusions that follow from this premise are true… because the premise is true? Can anyone say circular reasoning? Well, “we” all can say that but apparently the naturalists cannot. Go figure.

  103. LYO:

    I observe, at 89: Tell me how you would detect specific examples of design if the entire universe was designed.

    And at 87: Human beings are complex specified information.
    Therefore…
    Intelligent Agents produce things that produce complex specified information.
    So…
    Since Intelligent Agents produce things that can produce complex specified information, and an Intelligent Agent produced nature, then nature can produce complex specified information.

    In steps:

    1 –> First, as was carefully pointed out to you already, the design inference makes no a priori assumption that the cosmos is designed, so no 89 is a fallacy of the complex, loaded question. (That strawman problem again.)

    2 –> Second, we do in fact observe patterns of causal factors in the experienced world, that show:

    (i)predictable natural regularities [e.g. a heavy unsupported object falls at 9.8 m/s^2],

    (ii) high contingency fitting stochastic probability distributions [if said object is a fair die, its uppermost face comes from a flat random distribution],

    (iii) hight contingency fitting patterns of information-rich functionality towards evident purposes. [If the die is loaded, its uppermost face is strongly biased towards advantageous values]

    3 –> The first we call mechanical necessity showing itself in natural regularity, the second chance, the third design.

    4 –> And in the case of he excerpted text from 89, as BarryA pointed out above, we readily see it as different from a random text string of equal length. Precisely because it fulfills a linguistic function in a one- dimensional nodes and arcs pattern known as a string. (Relatively few 93 element 128-state ASCII characters will form contextually responsive text in English by purely random chance, from the sea of 9.344 * 10^195 possible configs.)

    5 –> We do know per expereince and observation that intelligences exist and that hey do produce such strings rotuinely, so in inference to best explanation on the FSCI involved, we confidently infer to the design of the text string cited. (Mechanical necessity is simply not a credible explanation for a text string of such variability per element, and chance is utterly unlikely to produce the sort of string observed.)

    6 –> Now, by fairly direct extension of this process, we have an empirically anchored best explanation for FSCI, not a mere happenstance of analogy. (Though in fact analogy is deeply embedded in all significant empirical, inductive thought. Selective hyperskepticism on cases you do not like is self-referentially inconsistent.)

    7 –> We also have fairly good reason to see that we credibly do not exhaust the list of possible intelligent designers. indeed, animals plainly show limited intelligence and capability to design.

    8 –> More relevantly for 50 – 60 years, we have known that digital, string based information lies in the heart of the living cell, the genetic code. Indeed, March 19, 1953, Crick wrote his son Michael as follows: “Now we believe that the DNA is a code. That is, the order of bases (the letters) makes one gene different from another gene (just as one page of print is different from another).”

    9 –> In short, linguistic, algorithmic information antedates cell based life, and we are plainly derivative designers. (This gives me hope that we may in turn design derivative intelligent designers, i.e robots, real ones.)

    10 –> You also tried to make a big and ID-rtefuting deal out of that above, but the argument fails:

    a] First, derivative designers are: designers.

    b] Of the main causal factors, mechnaical necessity is irrelevant to the aspects of an object or process that exhibit the signs of deign, as these ahve to have high contingency. Chance and/or design are the only relevant factors for the origin of such.

    c] Performance may discriminate but function has to be present for superiority to be selected for at population level.

    d] As, before we get to differential reproduction, we have to get to self-replication, and this — per Von Neumann — is based on complex algorithmic function requiring the embedding of quite specific information on how to wire the self-replicating entity.

    e] On the same grounds that the sentence above is not credibly the fruit of lucky noise, such algorithmic coded information and associated data structures and implementing machinery are not credibly the result of blind chance plus necessity.

    f] front loaded designs may use a random element to generate variety to populate niches, but this too is design.

    g] So, we see that “nature” in the sense of undirected necessity and/or chance are not credible sources of design.

    h] In short, you begged the question by imposing a priori Lewontinian methodological naturalism.

    11 –> And as was already discussed, we have identified causal forces/factors that affect apsecvts of objects and events. Such leave reliable signs.

    12 –> We can trace these in origin of life and biodiversity and of mind for that matter.

    13 –> We also see them in the physics that grounds a fine tuned cosmos that facilitates C-chemistry cell based life.

    14 –> So, we have good reason to infer that design is empirically detectable, and that on reliable signs of design, we can see that posts in this blog are intelligently designed.

    15 –> So also by extension per inference to best explanation on known causal patterns and signs, we see that the digital strings in DNA in our bodies are similarly designed [and that is not a mere analogy: we see discrete state algorithmically functional data strings -- it is an instance], i.e life and body plans are designed.

    16 –> beyond that, the cosmos that is fine tuned and complexly integrated so that it facilitates c-chemistry based life is also evidently designed.

    17 –> To resist the compelling pattern of empirically based evidence, we see finally, the question-begging resort to a priori materialism.

    18 –> That is to a basic fallacy backed up by institutional power of a neo-magisterium dressed in lab coats rather than traditional priestly robes and collars.

    ____________

    Perhaps, then, a rethink is in order on your part?

    GEM of TKI

  104. kairosfocus@99,

    1 –> First, as was carefully pointed out to you already, the design inference makes no a priori assumption that the cosmos is designed, so no 89 is a fallacy of the complex, loaded question. (That strawman problem again.)

    That means that the ID side can no longer claim a fine-tuned universe as evidence of design.

  105. —-lastyearon: “If you believe that the universe (and its laws) were designed by God, you cannot also believe its possible to detect specific examples of design.
    —-Either God has designed a universe that gives rise to the complexity of life, or he did not design the universe, only specific objects within the universe.”

    So, it is your judgment that if I find a mound of sand on the beach formed in the image of a Corvette Sting Ray, I cannot really conclude that it was designed because God created the universe?

  106. 106

    LYO:

    Tell me how you would detect specific examples of design if the entire universe was designed.

    I don’t know dude. Tell me how you would detect a specific red ball if the entire universe was composed of red balls.

  107. tragic mishap @102,

    LYO:

    Tell me how you would detect specific examples of design if the entire universe was designed.

    I don’t know dude. Tell me how you would detect a specific red ball if the entire universe was composed of red balls.

    It is the ID position that design can be detected from non-design.

    How would you do that if everything is designed?

    The only way to have anything that is not designed, is for the universe itself, to be not designed, so you can have a comparison for things that are.

    This means the universe cannot be fine-tuned by a designer.

  108. Toronto,

    Are you saying that God cannot do anything we consider logically impossible ?

    Yes, now do you follow? God cannot do “lkjihdfiousdh”, God cannot do nonsense because it is nothing to be done.

  109. 109

    Toronto,

    It is the ID position that design can be detected from non-design.

    How would you do that if everything is designed?

    You have taken lastyear’s incapacity and made it your own. This is conversation is both silly and remarkable at the same time.

    Instead of the patently obvious attempt at a “gotcha” moment, why don’t you display a sliver of intellectual independence and at least try to process the answers already given. For starters, try to comprehend StevenB’s question in comment 101:

    So, it is your judgment that if I find a mound of sand on the beach formed in the image of a Corvette Sting Ray, I cannot really conclude that it was designed because God created the universe?

  110. Clive Hayden @104,

    Toronto,

    Are you saying that God cannot do anything we consider logically impossible ?

    Yes, now do you follow? God cannot do “lkjihdfiousdh”, God cannot do nonsense because it is nothing to be done.

    I think you might have been to quick to agree here.

    Let’s rewrite my statement.

    If we, members of the human race, believe there is something that is logically impossible for God to do, have we accurately identified the limits of his powers?

    Now here’s the original.

    Toronto,

    Are you saying that God cannot do anything we consider logically impossible ?

    Note the we.

    He may not be able to do anything that ..He.. considers impossible, but I don’t think that we should believe in any way, that simply because ..we.. think something is logically impossible, that we have somehow defined the limitations of a timeless being that can bring a universe into existence.

  111. Upright BiPed @105,

    You have taken lastyear’s incapacity and made it your own. This is conversation is both silly and remarkable at the same time.

    If called upon to present a case in front of a Board of Education on why ID should be taught in school, and you make emotional statements like this, you will lose.

    For starters, try to comprehend StevenB’s question in comment 101:

    So, it is your judgment that if I find a mound of sand on the beach formed in the image of a Corvette Sting Ray, I cannot really conclude that it was designed because God created the universe?

    You can conclude that it, the sand, you, the air you breathe and the photons illuminating the beach are all designed. In a designed universe, everything is designed, which creates a problem in finding something that isn’t.

    ID would become a a process of trying to detect a white image on a white background.

    You can’t distinguish good without having evil to measure it against.

    In order for design detection to work, you have to have non-design to measure it against.

    We are discussing a serious topic, not just here, but in other blogs, and public forums.

    If I believe someone is being flippant with me or condescending, I’m going to stop taking them seriously.

    So will a court.

  112. kairosfocus,

    1 –> First, as was carefully pointed out to you already, the design inference makes no a priori assumption that the cosmos is designed, so no 89 is a fallacy of the complex, loaded question. (That strawman problem again.)

    Aren’t you making an a priori assumption that the cosmos is not designed? Can’t you take data from physics about the constants that we understand as fine-tuned to make a different analysis?

    I am not a TE. I think there are two (at least) layers of design. I clearly believe that random movements of atoms do not lead to DNA. But I think things like gravity, the strong and weak nuclear forces, the ratio of charges to each other and on and on are also designed. See some fine-tuned physical constants (although I know you know them) here: http://www.godandscience.org/a.....M3yT9KQL9m

    Even though you say you are not analyzing metaphysically, there is something that does not fit logically.

  113. Toronto:

    What you are saying is that in a universe where only red balls exist, it is impossible to detect a red ball. Give me a break.

    You would have me believe that the difference between being able to detect a red ball and not being able to is the existence of a blue ball somewhere in the universe. You wouldn’t even have to have seen it, it just has to be there, then suddenly we can detect red balls and identify them as such. But no blue ball? No red ball either.

    Ridiculous.

  114. tragic mishap @109,

    Toronto:

    What you are saying is that in a universe where only red balls exist, it is impossible to detect a red ball. Give me a break.

    You would have me believe that the difference between being able to detect a red ball and not being able to is the existence of a blue ball somewhere in the universe. You wouldn’t even have to have seen it, it just has to be there, then suddenly we can detect red balls and identify them as such. But no blue ball? No red ball either.

    Ridiculous.

    I am serious about the ID/Evo debate and I make statements that I believe make sense.

    It is quite possible that I am wrong and I can accept that.

    What I can’t accept is being treated in a flippant disrespectful manner when I have been civil.

    Thanks for the reply.

  115. Toronto,

    He may not be able to do anything that ..He.. considers impossible, but I don’t think that we should believe in any way, that simply because ..we.. think something is logically impossible, that we have somehow defined the limitations of a timeless being that can bring a universe into existence.

    You’re welcome to remain agnostic about logic, but that shouldn’t compel you stop others who are identifying what is logical and what is nonsense.

  116. 116

    Toronto,

    If called upon to present a case in front of a Board of Education on why ID should be taught in school, and you make emotional statements like this, you will lose.

    Show up in court with your logic in #103, then let’s talk.

  117. Upright BiPed @112,

    I am firmly on the ID side when it comes to getting a hearing on the ID/Evo debate.

    I think this issue needs to be resolved in the public eye one way or another.

    It won’t be resolved by emotional arguments that try to ridicule one side’s position, only logical fact-driven arguments will decide the outcome.

    If I lose to a better case presented by the other side, I could live with decision.

    If we make this seem like an emotional cultural issue though, neither side will even get into a forum that would decide it.

    My point in coming here, is to try and do whatever I can to get this thing heard in public, which is also I believe, what you want.

    Let’s work together to make this happen by not deriding each other, or the statements we make.

  118. WAW:

    Re 108: the design theoretic investigation is starting from empirical observations of objects and events, and the known observed causal factors that affect them, thence the signs they leave behind.

    In short, it is open to he way the evidence leads. It so happens tha ton particular evidence it leads to design, sometimes inconveniently for the evolutionary materialists.

    Tor, 103:

    It is the ID position that design can be detected from non-design.

    How would you do that if everything is designed?

    The only way to have anything that is not designed, is for the universe itself, to be not designed,

    Yet another strawman misreading.

    Go back above, and see the actual procvess at work, not the one you are projecting onto design theory. We are dealign with direct observations inthe first insrtance,a nd so it should be fairly easy to see tha there are tyhigs that att he direct level in question are effectivley acting with natural regularities, in others there is stochastic contingency that fits randomness distribution, and in others there is purposeful functionally specific complexity not credibly the product of chance [on search space reasons.]

    From such we can identify reasonable signs, and we then see that the signs are reliable. From that we may then observe other cases where similar signs appear and draw conclusions.

    You will notice that the reasoning is abductive — which it seems you are utterly unfamiliar with. (Oddly, as it is the core method in science.)

    Note, the issue is to identify candidate explanations, then to test which is best on reasonable grounds.

    And, in a designed universe, chance/ randomness may well play a role [e.g. random molecular motion associated with temperature, which underlies diffusion, osmosis, electronic junction behaviour, etc etc] , as also already discussed and overlooked or ignored.

    So, pardon a few direct words: please show me that you have done some basic homework, before repeating already corrected errors and distortions.

    GEM of TKI

  119. 119

    By the way Toronto,

    If called to court, I’d want you to explain how to falsify the mandated assumption that only unguided processes are at work in the cosmos.

    Any ideas?

  120. Tor, 103:

    It is the ID position that design can be detected from non-design.

    How would you do that if everything is designed?

    The only way to have anything that is not designed, is for the universe itself, to be not designed,

    Yet another strawman misreading.

    I don’t understand.

    Let’s do this one single step at a time.

    Is it the position of the ID movement, that design can be detected as being destinct from non-design?

    If so, you have to be able to make a statement of this type; “That is designed but that other thing is not”.

    The ID movement, at this point, tries to determine the FSCI of the “Unit Under Test”, which may be biological or chemical, etc.

    If the “UUT” exceeds a level that ID refers to as the UPB, it is defined as being designed.

    In the “Privileged Planet”, the universe, the Earth’s position in it, and the forces holding everything in place, are considered to be so finely-tuned that it is unlikely to have happened by chance.

    This means that the forces of physics and the entire universe have FSCI beyond the UPB.

    If this is the case, then the ID side is right about evolution.

    However, that means that nothing with a FSCI below the UPB would be discoverable by an algorithm that correctly measures FSCI content.

    Please explicitly show me the strawman here because I haven’t tried to make one.

  121. Upright BiPed @115,

    By the way Toronto,

    If called to court, I’d want you to explain how to falsify the mandated assumption that only unguided processes are at work in the cosmos.

    Any ideas?

    There may very well be forces guiding what goes on in the universe.

    If that’s the case, I’d like to be one of the first ones to accept and maybe even prove it.

    What I’m looking for is positive evidence.

    Consider the positions of earth-like planets that have been found recently.

    If they are evenly distributed, that would raise suspicions in me as you would expect them to cluster in areas like ours.

  122. Toronto: “He may not be able to do anything that ..He.. considers impossible, but I don’t think that we should believe in any way, that simply because ..we.. think something is logically impossible, that we have somehow defined the limitations of a timeless being that can bring a universe into existence.”

    We CAN know what is logically impossible. The details are for another day and another thread but the rules of logic are the rules of logic and they apply to God as well as us in the sense that they are part of His essence or character. Like righteousness. He can’t sin, either. He can’t be irrational because He IS Rational.

    So we can say, for example, that even God can’t make a 1 a 2. That would violate the law of identity. (I AM WHO I AM) A 1 is a 1 and a 2 is a 2. By the way, there is an OT verse that warns us in the strongest possible terms not to violate the law of identity. It’s Isaiah 5:20 – Woe to you who call evil good and good evil.

    Reason is our ultimate epistemological ground for knowing anything. Reason (properly done) always leads us to the truth. Our senses deceive us but reason never does. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it unless you can provide a better argument.

  123. tgpeeler @118

    We CAN know what is logically impossible. The details are for another day and another thread…

    I predict 1000 posts in three days!

    Our senses deceive us but reason never does. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it unless you can provide a better argument.

    I’m working on it.

  124. I was looking at The Design Inference tonight and I think I realized an answer to the problem we are having. At least it helps me in my own understanding. The explanatory filter is on page 37. On page 36, Dembski explains, “To attribute an event to a regularity is to say it will (almost) always happen.

    The explanatory filter has “reg” for the category in which high probability events fall. The “reg” is really an abbreviation for ascribing an event to a regularity. So the event within the regularity is high probability, but the occurrence of the regularity, such as a very fine-tuned physical law, may be itself very low probability. This means the regularity itself would be filtered down into the “design” category. Ironically, the event within a regularity is more probable (once the regularity occurs) than the regularity itself.

  125. kairosfocus @114

    You will notice that the reasoning is abductive — which it seems you are utterly unfamiliar with. (Oddly, as it is the core method in science.)

    Given that pre-school children perform abduction without even realizing that a term exists for it, what was your purpose in asking this particular question?

    I treat people with respect and expect the same.

  126. Tor:

    A few notes.

    But first, through I regret any offence it may have caused you, I think it would have been more material for you to actually address the substantial point that the design inference is an excercise in abductive reasoning in a scientific context, rather than the a priorism on theism you would straight-jacket on it.

    Now on other points:

    1] 116: Is it the position of the ID movement, that design can be detected as being destinct from non-design?

    The formal design theory position, per def’n in this blog, is that:

    The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. . . . .

    In a broader sense, Intelligent Design is simply the science of design detection — how to recognize patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. Design detection is used in a number of scientific fields, including anthropology, forensic sciences that seek to explain the cause of events such as a death or fire, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). An inference that certain biological information may be the product of an intelligent cause can be tested or evaluated in the same manner as scientists daily test for design in other sciences.

    The specificity and anchorage to empirical observation of signs of intelligence in the definition mark key distinctions from the strawman your own statement is setting up.

    That is, first, there is no claim of a universal design detector.

    Nor, is there any claim of absolute proof, but rather the level of warrant commonly used in scientific and other responsible fields of praxis: inference to best, empirically anchored explanation.

    Thirdly, once teh direct causla facrtors in a situaiton are say nartural, mechanical forces leading to nautral regularieies, or random processes leading to statisticallly distributed contingencies, the EF will detect such DIRECT causes as being necessity or chance, without any onward direct implication of the ontology of the cosmos as a whole. Similarly, on test cases, teh ID apprach sees distinct marks of design, e.g. FSCI, and infers to the direct involvelent of intelligent cause without any direct inference to the origins of intelligence.

    We then look at the signs that mark such distinctives and see how reliable they are. Certain highly reliable signs [e.g. FSCI] — when they rule “design” — are then taken, per inductive gneralisation, as fingerprints of design wherever we see them, until and unless we can show that chance and/or necessity are able to come up with a good and repeatable counterexample.

    That is how science works.

    That we can then find such signs in the cell, and in body plan diversity, or similar signs in the physics of the cosmos that is fine tuned to facilitate such c-chemistry cell based life then leads tot he inference to the best explanation being: design. Hence the initial statement in the cited definition.

    2] The ID movement, at this point, tries to determine the FSCI of the “Unit Under Test”, which may be biological or chemical, etc. If the “UUT” exceeds a level that ID refers to as the UPB, it is defined as being designed.

    Another subtle misunderstanding.

    The practical procedure in explanatory filters is to look at he known patterns of behaviour, then to allocate aspects across the direct causal factors. natural regularieis are best explained by mechanical necessity. Stochastic contingency by chance, FSCI and erelated things by intelligence, all per an empirical evidence base.

    The actual inference is that we isolate necessity first by its pattern of regularity, i.e. we are looking for lo vs hi contingency. high contingency has two credible sources, chance and design,a nd we look in that context at he distinguishing features that mark randomness, accidents of arbitrary initial conditions, and intelligent action. This, BarryA exemplified in the original post, and I have exemplified in the case of dropped objects vs fair vs loaded dice.

    In particular,t eh mark of intelligence is specified complexity, especially funcitonally specific complexity beyond a threshold where teh quantum state resources of our observed cosmos render a search of he implied config space to get to the islands of function rather unlikely on a chance hyp.

    Hence the inference to BEST explanation aspect. Which provides provisional but often reliable warrant.

    Notice, an inference to best explanation from empirical facts, not an a priori deduction from an assumed principle.

    3] However, that means that nothing with a FSCI below the UPB would be discoverable by an algorithm that correctly measures FSCI content.

    WWhy that “however”?

    It is the very definition of a conservative inference to best explanation, that one is stringent on a test that is in effect statistical. So, if it is within reason that on the quantum state gamut of our observed cosmos that we could search through an appreciable fraction of the relevant config space, we will default to chance. This, so that we will not be likely to make a mistake when inferring that design is the best explanation.

    In short, you have here followed those who have rhetorically sought to twist a principle of caution and conservativism in inference to momentous conclusions, into an alleged weakness.

    The design inference is not intended to be a detector of any and all designs [note the subtle but loaded strawman misrepresentation!], but instead a cautious method for detecting when design is — per generally accepted principles and procedures of scientific reasoning — the best explanation.

    (And in so doing, what we do at ontological level is to refuse to exercise the Lewontinian a priori materialist censorship that is usually “sold” under the label “methodological naturalism, and is nowadays being smuggled into definitions of science by the materialist high priesthood in lab coats.)

    _____________

    I trust his helps make clear where there are several strawmannish caricatures — many tracing to hostile advocates at the top level of public advocacy on this issue — at work. You are not blameworthy for being taken in by them [and "taken in" is unfortunately apt in too many cases], but that also imposes a duty of hearing from us what we are actually saying, not what we have been misrepresented as saying. (Have a look at the weak argument correctives linked top right.)

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  127. kairosfocus @122,

    [Toronto]
    1] 116: Is it the position of the ID movement, that design can be detected as being destinct from non-design?

    There is nothing in the above statement that mandates any sort of minimum or maximum scope, or degree, of design detection.

    Since I don’t qualify the level or scope of design at all, you could safely answer with an unqualified yes or a qualified yes.

    I see no strawman in the above statement at all.

    If we’re going to have an exchange of information, and maybe understanding, we have to trust each other that our goal is not to trick the other side, but to have a real conversation.

    Going step by step means that you should not respond to any single point of the other side as if it was his complete argument.

    If you trust me and allow me to lead you through a step by step process to make my point, I’ll do the same for you, without debating each point along the way.

    [Toronto]
    3] However, that means that nothing with a FSCI below the UPB would be discoverable by an algorithm that correctly measures FSCI content.

    [kairosfocus]
    WWhy that “however”?

    The “however” refers to these lines above it.

    [Toronto]
    In the “Privileged Planet”, the universe, the Earth’s position in it, and the forces holding everything in place, are considered to be so finely-tuned that it is unlikely to have happened by chance.

    This means that the forces of physics and the entire universe have FSCI beyond the UPB.

    If this is the case, then the ID side is right about evolution.

  128. Tor:

    I will be give a hint, got to go right away. See you later.

    The design methodology is about inference to best explanation that does not rule out a priori any of the causal factors commonly observed to operate.

    It is about direct causal factors, not about global metaphysics. I tis limited to the issue of emopirical data as a basis for detection of design in particular cases, and does not essay to provide a global design detection method guaranteed to detect any and all cases of design. indeed, to an extentt his is deliberate, i.e the explanatory filter cheerfully sets teh default to “chance,” once high contingency is observed. Only under fairly strignent conditions on which the quantum state resources of the cosmos would be swamped by the config space, do we see that complexity + specificity –> design.

    It also happens to be very relevant in a world that was designed, as part of he design may well use chance-based processed; as I already identified — diffusion, osmosis, and other processes that exploit random molecular behaviour.

    On cosmological signs of design, again, this is inference to best explanation.

    So, design may operate at comsological level and that is consistent with lawlike natural regularities of mechanical necessity and of statistical patterns at a lower level.

    Such manifestations will be empirically discernible form cases where contingency rules out necessity, and complex specificity rules out chance as a credible explanation.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  129. 129

    Toronto, your reply at #117 has doesn’t actually address the issue raised in #115.

    There is absolutely no way to falsify the assumption that only unguided processes are at work in the cosmos (which is why no one ever reads or hears anything about its falsifiability).

    Of course, this non-falsifiability renders the assumption itself unscientific – if we are to apply the “rules of science” imposed against the strawmen misrepresentations which materialists routinely manufacture against ID.

    Yet, here we are.

    Materialist ideologues raise the issue of non-falsifiability against a strawman claim that ID does not and cannot make. By doing so, they immediately insulate themselves from addressing the issues that ID actually does raise. And to accomplish this strategic sleight-of-hand, they set up a mandate that all truly scientific theories must accept a priori assumption that is – completely non-falsifiable.

    And there sits the good judge over there, dutifully nodding his head… “Let us act now to save the grand institution of Science from those who cannot bind themselves to the splendor of our logic…”

  130. Tor:

    RE:

    Since I don’t qualify the level or scope of design at all, you could safely answer with an unqualified yes or a qualified yes.

    I see no strawman in the above statement at all.

    If we’re going to have an exchange of information, and maybe understanding, we have to trust each other that our goal is not to trick the other side, but to have a real conversation.

    I suggest that you pause and read the Weak Argument Correctives above.

    This — unfortunately — is a high misunderstanding, high-hostility, strongly rhetorically manipulated, ideologically loaded issue [with much of the manipulation being by strawmannish, question-begging, misrepresenting framing of design thought; notoriously the "ID is [Biblical] Creationism in a cheap tuxedo” or “ID is the thin edge of a right-wing theocratic wedge” type of slur], most of the trouble coming from the ID-skeptical or objecting side. Sadly, up to the level of repeated unjustified career-busting and outright slander. (Some of which I have personally felt, especially once I was identified with a specific contribution to this blog.)

    There simply is no basis for naive responses to potentially loaded remarks.

    Please try to understand that.

    It is in that context that we have to be very specific about just what kind and degree of design detection the design inference carries out.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  131. I asked: So, it is your judgment that if I find a mound of sand on the beach formed in the image of a Corvette Sting Ray, I cannot really conclude that it was designed because God created the universe?

    —-Toronto [in care of LYO] “You can conclude that it, the sand, you, the air you breathe and the photons illuminating the beach are all designed. In a designed universe, everything is designed, which creates a problem in finding something that isn’t.”

    I do thank you, at least, for making your position clear.

    You honestly believe that a mound of sand formed into the image and likeness of a Corvette Sting Ray [human design] cannot be distinguished from sand formed by water and wind [natural causes] because God also designed the universe.

    Remarkable, truly remarkable.

  132. StephenB @127,

    You honestly believe that a mound of sand formed into the image and likeness of a Corvette Sting Ray [human design] cannot be distinguished from sand formed by water and wind [natural causes] because God also designed the universe.

    If I saw that Corvette, I would agree with you 100%, that it was designed.

    After many posts, the original context of a statement gets lost.

    I made that statement in the context of the “Privilged Planet” hypothesis, that the universe is fine-tuned for life.

    In that context, everything has FSCI, including the physical constants of the universe.

    If the universe is fine-tuned for life, there is no dividing line between the physical forces of the universe and life itself, as suggested by “The Privileged Planet”.

    No one has suggested however, that the universe has been fine-tuned for art.

    You could take any complex material with a very high level of FSCI, and shape a Corvette out of it. The Corvette’s FSCI however, is distinct from it’s original material.

    By accepting “The Privileged Planet” hypothesis, that dividing line is not there.

    That’s why I say, if the universe is fine-tuned for life, you could not come up with a mathematical proof that necessitated the use of FSCI.

  133. kairosfocus @126,

    I appreciate the response, but it doesn’t explain to me specifically why the following statement is an attempt at building a strawman.

    [Toronto]
    1] 116: Is it the position of the ID movement, that design can be detected as being destinct from non-design?

    Where in the above am I attributing to the ID movement a claim it doesn’t make.

    We can’t make any headway at all, you and I, if neither of us can say to the other, “What do you mean”?

    While I believe that the ID answer to my above statement should be yes, why is it not acceptable to ask it?

    Please specifically parse my above statement and show me what’s wrong with it.

    If you do that, I will be able to frame future questions to better address your concerns.

  134. Toronto, as I wait for your discourse on how reason can deceive us, that I expect will be well-reasoned… hee hee

    Here is the UNIVERSAL method of detecting design. It never, ever fails. Whenever a code is involved, design is present. Period. It’s as simple as that. The whole business of detecting design can be boiled down to that. I’d make it into a book but who would publish a one paragraph book?

    Anytime a code (or a language, same thing, really) exists, you KNOW it cannot be explained by physical laws. And if you think it can you either haven’t read my posts on the subject or you just haven’t thought it through. At any rate, language is the universal indicator of design. My claim is easily falsified. Just create information in some way without recourse to a language. In other words, just using physical laws or even algorithms based on physical laws. You will quickly see that it cannot be done. It’s logically impossible. Therefore, “we” win and the naturalists lose. And I for one, am finding this argument ever more tedious since the “non-design” side has be so decisively refuted. But maybe you’ll have a novel counter-argument. (You won’t but I will wait and see…)

  135. “has been so decisively refuted” oops

  136. —Toronto: “If I saw that Corvette, I would agree with you 100%, that it was designed.”

    You are avoiding the issue. Your position is that a mound of sand formed into the image and likeness of a Corvette Sting Ray [human design] cannot be distinguished from sand formed by water, wind, and erosion [natural causes] on the grounds that, since God designed everything, the Corvette’s design cannot be distinguished from other clusters of sand or even the the beach itself. Suffice it to say, such a position is not reasonable. If you don’t believe me, ask a friend.

  137. —Toronto: “In that context, everything has FSCI, including the physical constants of the universe.”

    Where did you ever get such an idea? Neither the formless clusters of sand or the sand beach itself contains FSCI. In my example, only the mound of sand formed into the image and likeness of a Corvette Sting Ray contains FSCI. Do you even know what FSCI is?

    —-If the universe is fine-tuned for life, there is no dividing line between the physical forces of the universe and life itself, as suggested by “The Privileged Planet”

    I don’t remember saying anything about “life.” We are not ready for that discussion until you show me that you understand how a design inference operates at the most basic level, which is why I chose my example.

    Obviously, there is a dividing line between the physical reality which manifests itself as the model of a Corvette Sting Ray and the physical reality that manifests itself as a formless sand beach. In any case, none of that has anything at all to do with the hypothesis of a Privileged Planet.

    Here is another example:

    If you come home and find your house ransacked, you will quickly discern that a tornado [natural cause] did not go through your dresser drawers looking for jewelry and attribute it to an agency cause [a burglar]. In other words, you will make a design inference from a natural cause to an intelligent agent.

    What you are trying to argue is that the “Privileged Planet hypothesis” conflicts with the logic by which we distinguish the act of a tornado from the act of a burglar. Seriously, please tell me where you get this stuff.

  138. StephenB @132,

    Here’s me saying the Corvette was designed:

    —Toronto: “If I saw that Corvette, I would agree with you 100%, that it was designed.”

    Here’s you claiming I didn’t say that.

    You are avoiding the issue. Your position is that a mound of sand formed into the image and likeness of a Corvette Sting Ray [human design] cannot be distinguished from sand formed by water, wind, and erosion [natural causes] on the grounds that, since God designed everything, the Corvette’s design cannot be distinguished from other clusters of sand or even the the beach itself. Suffice it to say, such a position is not reasonable. If you don’t believe me, ask a friend.

    -Do you even know what FSCI is?

    -Seriously, please tell me where you get this stuff.

    I didn’t come here to argue, I came to debate.

    I don’t see how you and I are going to do that.

    I have already thanked you, Lock, Upright Biped, tgpeeler and kairosfocus in another thread for replying to me, but due to the moderation delay, you may not have read it.

    I also said I’m going back to lurking because due to that delay I cannot reply in a decent time-frame to anything you guys may put together for me.

    Thanks again.

  139. —-Toronto: “I didn’t come here to argue, I came to debate.”

    If you can detect design in a Corvette made of sand apart from the globs of sand formed by natural causes, then the fact that God may have designed everything does not, as you try to argue, preclude the design inference. If you don’t address that argument, then you are not debating.

    —-”I have already thanked you, Lock, Upright Biped, tgpeeler and kairosfocus in another thread for replying to me, but due to the moderation delay, you may not have read it.”

    I am sorry that you have had that experience.

    —-”I also said I’m going back to lurking because due to that delay I cannot reply in a decent time-frame to anything you guys may put together for me.

    Thanks again.”

    For my part, you are welcome back anytime.

  140. StephenB @135,

    For my part, you are welcome back anytime.

    Thank you.

    The original comment by “lastyearone” pertained to a mathematical model demonstrating that if the universe was fine-tuned, you could not detect foreground FSCI from background FSCI.

    You changed that math model to an analogy that contained a human observer comparing a human made object, a “real” Corvette, to a “facsimile” of a Corvette rendered in sand.

    I want to go on record as saying that if I saw any object on the beach made out of sand, that resembled something designed by humans, it was probably also designed by humans.

    In a fine-tuned universe, none of the properties of matter, energy, or even Earth’s position in the Universe have been left to chance, meaning the Universe before the existence of life but prepared for it, already contains an extreme amount of design.

    IsFSCI returns true if FCSI is larger than the UPB.

    One item is foreground while another is background.

    if( IsFSCI(&Item1) )
    {
    printf(“Designed”);
    }
    else
    {
    printf(“Random”);
    }

    if( IsFSCI(&Item2) )
    {
    printf(“Designed”);
    }
    else
    {
    printf(“Random”);
    }

    If ID used a scalar value for FSCI instead of a Boolean, we could possibly use regular mathmematical operators to establish a baseline FSCI for a fine-tuned universe, but ID has no such list of standard FSCI values.

    Until they do, statements such as,
    “..you could not detect foreground FSCI from background FSCI”
    , have not been refuted.

  141. —Toronto: “The original comment by “lastyearone” pertained to a mathematical model demonstrating that if the universe was fine-tuned, you could not detect foreground FSCI from background FSCI.”

    Evidently, the math model was wrong, inasmuch as I showed that it is easy to detect designs other than the original design of the universe. I can provide plenty of other examples.

    —-”You changed that math model to an analogy that contained a human observer comparing a human made object, a “real” Corvette, to a “facsimile” of a Corvette rendered in sand.”

    You still do not understand the example. It was a facsimile of a Corvette designed with sand compared to all the other mounds of sand made by natural forces, NOT a facsimile of a Corvette compared to a real Corvette.

    —-”I want to go on record as saying that if I saw any object on the beach made out of sand, that resembled something designed by humans, it was probably also designed by humans.”

    How do you know that water, wind, and erosion didn’t do it? Once you understand that significance of and the answer to that question, you will have finally arrived at a basic understanding of what we are talking about.

    —-”In a fine-tuned universe, none of the properties of matter, energy, or even Earth’s position in the Universe have been left to chance, meaning the Universe before the existence of life but prepared for it, already contains an extreme amount of design.”

    If that was true, you could not distinguish the Corvette designed from sand from all the other mounds of sand.

    —-”If ID used a scalar value for FSCI instead of a Boolean, we could possibly use regular mathmematical operators to establish a baseline FSCI for a fine-tuned universe, but ID has no such list of standard FSCI values.”

    You are getting way ahead of yourself.

    —-”Until they do, statements such as,
    “..you could not detect foreground FSCI from background FSCI”
    , have not been refuted.”

    Both your thesis and LYO’s thesis has been refuted. Both of you claim that a universe designed by a creator precludes the possibility of detecting other designs is obviously false. Go back to another one of my examples. If you find your house ransacked, you rule out natural causes [tornado] and draw an inference to design [burglar]. That is a design inference, plain and simple.

  142. StephenB @137,

    —Toronto: “The original comment by “lastyearone” pertained to a mathematical model demonstrating that if the universe was fine-tuned, you could not detect foreground FSCI from background FSCI.”

    Evidently, the math model was wrong, inasmuch as I showed that it is easy to detect designs other than the original design of the universe. I can provide plenty of other examples.

    Dembski is using math to try and prove ID concepts because, once algorithms are refined, they can be used as tools for further work.
    That is where the war will be fought, not with analogies that appeal to laymen.

    An analogy is useless for any sort of work except for debating purposes.

    If what you say is true, you should be able to refute my example functions.

    You should be able to tell me why, using FSCI as defined by ID, why my examples aren’t valid.

    That would refute my argument.

    If you feel like it, come up with your own example, if necessary with a friend, but I want detail, not assertions.

    Your argument would allow me to refute Galileo by saying, “Look, the sun clearly goes around the Earth, we can see it with our eyes”.

    Any scientist on either side of this debate won’t buy that argument.

    It’s just not enough.

    Tell me specifically, what is wrong with them.

  143. That should read, “Both of your claims that a universe designed by a creator precludes the possibility of detecting other designs is obviously false.”

  144. —Toronto: “An analogy is useless for any sort of work except for debating purposes.”

    You labor under the burden of several false assumptions and logical errors, and with each new post you add to the list. That is why I asked you to stay with a concrete example so that you can follow the arguments being made:

    [A] My arguments and examples do not depend on mathematics. Do you need mathematics to differentiate a burglar from a tornado?

    [B] My examples were just that, they were not analogies. [Where did you get that talking point?]

    [C] Further still, as I pointed out, I was not comparing a real Corvette with a model made of sand; I was comparing a model made of sand with the natural forces of nature. [You have not demonstrated that you understand the example even at this point.]

    [D] Further still, you assume that the entire designed creation contains FSCI. [Where did you get that talking point?]

    [E] Further still, you assume that if FSCI always indicates design, design also always indicates FSCI. [IF A, then B does not translate into IF B, then A.]

    [F] I asked you how you know that the model was designed and explained that in answering that question, you would understand the topic under discussion, which you promptly ignored.

    [G] You made the claim that design inferences cannot be made in the context of an overall mega design. I refuted that claim with two examples. You admitted that the examples were true and then turned right around and tried to deny the principle that informs them, namely that inferences to agency can be made by eliminating law and chance.

    [H] Indeed, you completely contradicted yourself first by admitting that the Corvette model was designed by man, followed by the opposite argument that such inferences cannot be made at all on the grounds that background FSCI makes it impossible to detect other FSCI.

    Apparently, you do not understand the argument that is being made, so you ignore my examples and revert back to your talking points which has nothing to do with the argument. That is why I asked you where you are getting them.

  145. StephenB @140,
    Please understand that I am not ignoring your examples, I am trying to explain why I don’t believe they apply to this particular argument.

    [E] Further still, you assume that if FSCI always indicates design, design also always indicates FSCI.

    FSCI is a result of the design process, and thus anything that is not the result of a random process, must contain FSCI.

    [IF A, then B does not translate into IF B, then A.]

    That logical statement means that B does not mandate A, but it doesn’t preclude it either.

    [D] Further still, you assume that the entire designed creation contains FSCI. [Where did you get that talking point?]

    That is the point of this OP, at the very beginning of the article.

    Design Operates at Multiple Levels
    Barry Arrington

    In a comment to a prior post lastyearon writes:

    I’m simply not understanding how it is possible to detect that certain things were the result of design if everything is the result of design.

    That is why your Corvette example doesn’t serve as a good example in this particular thread.
    I notice that you haven’t touched on the Boolean/Scalar issue for FSCI. If FSCI had magnitude, in other words if it could assume analog values instead of a digital YES/NO, you could build a model that could detect the background from the foreground.

    Lastyearone’s argument is closer to that of niwrad’s OP on fractals rather than mine.

  146. —Toronto: “Please understand that I am not ignoring your examples, I am trying to explain why I don’t believe they apply to this particular argument.”

    My examples served their purpose very well because they refuted the objection that design cannot be detected in the context of a mega design, a point that you acknowledged yourself by agreeing that a designed mount of sand can be distinguished from natural causes in a designed universe.

    Appealing to Boolean/Scalar issues as a means of showing that the same inference to design that you first agreed can be made, cannot now, as it turns out, be made after all, is illogical. You must either deny that the inference can be made or affirm it; you cannot have it both ways.

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