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Evolution’s Religion Revealed

Did you know evolution is a religious theory? If this seems strange then read on. In this post I will explain one way that evolution is contingent on religious reasoning. Such reasoning is a constant thread running through the evolution genre, but it can be subtle. If you are familiar with the evolution literature you may have noticed this underlying theme, but exactly how does it work?

Enter evolutionist and philosopher Elliott Sober. In his new paper, Sober continues his work in analyzing the arguments for evolution. He has done much work which is particularly helpful in showing (i) the premises built into the arguments and (ii) the relative strengths of the different arguments evolutionists use. And strong arguments are needed for evolution, as Sober writes:

Continue reading here.

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224 Responses to Evolution’s Religion Revealed

  1. I have read the article, and I am not sure I am following the argument.

    It seems to be saying that since mutations, and mutation rates cannot be observed, evolution is religious.

    Am I missing something, or is this an accurate description of the position of the autor?

  2. Yet more abject nonsense, on the same theme, from Cornelius Hunter. Follow his argument to its logical conclusion and you’d have to assume that finding plagiarism in student exam papers was also a religion.

    Hunter says:

    “But Darwin and evolutionists ever since have argued that evolution must be a fact because creation is obviously false.”

    That is a complete and utter fabrication. It’s not the fact that creation is false that most scientists, and indeed most of the public in the Western world, accept evolution as being established – it’s the fact that the evidence for evolution (from the fossil record and observations of life today and increasingly from molecular biology) overwhelmingly points towards it. If “creation science” had never ever existed – let alone been demonstrated to be false by the overwhelming evidence that its claims such as the age of the Earth being 6000 years old are ludicrously wrong – then we would STILL accept evolution as being the most likely explanation SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THE EVIDENCE. And that is one reason why evolution is not a religion. Another, of course, is that we would drop evolution in an instant if better evidence demonstrated it to be false – hardly a religious trait.

    The only religion in Cornelius Hunter’s blurb is his own private religion that evolution is a religion – all faith, no evidence, and blind refusal to see the evidence that his faith is wrong.

  3. 3

    BVZ,

    “It seems to be saying that since mutations, and mutation rates cannot be observed, evolution is religious.”

    But…mutations and mutation rates have been observed (see EoE). The problem is that the observations simply don’t fit the way the circus is being sold.

    If I understand Mr Hunter correctly, closing ones eyes to this fact is the “religious” part.

  4. 4
    Cornelius Hunter

    BVZ:

    It seems to be saying that since mutations, and mutation rates cannot be observed, evolution is religious. Am I missing something?

    Yes, I think you clicked on the wrong link. The post says nothing about mutation rates, observed or otherwise.

  5. The article doesn’t use the word ‘mutation’. But I can quote the part where mutations are mentioned:

    While all of this may sound scientific, it in fact hinges on subtle but crucial religious assumptions. First consider the term paper analogy. It is true that we can scientifically determine the likelihood of whether or not the two students worked independently. We can do this because we understand very well the process of writing term papers. And if need be we could even measure the rate at which students make mistakes, so the probability of the shared errors could actually be calculated fairly accurately. In other words, we have an accurate and reliable model for the creation of term papers and their errors.

    But what about those shared biological errors? How many of us have created different species? And what researcher can measure the rate at which these errors arise when species are created? Of course we cannot measure such data–they come from our religious beliefs.

    The words ‘biological errors’ are used, which are of course mutations.

    And like you pointed out, mutations are observed, so why does the author claim “we cannot measure such data–they come from our religious beliefs” ?

  6. “…evolution must be a fact because creation is obviously false”

    If I understand correctly you are saying that because some evolutionists consider the idea of common descent to undermine the idea of special creation that evolution is therefore a religious idea?

  7. BVZ,

    How many mutations did it take to go from a quadaped to an upright walking biped?

    How many mutations did it take to go from a reptilian ear to a mammalian ear?

    By trying to answer those questions you will understand the author’s point.

  8. The religion that the article tries to bring up is called ‘common sense’ in other circles, and I’d have been intrigued by the article if alternate methods could have been suggested.

    What are the scientists doing wrong? How could they do it better? What would have been more reasonable assumptions to make?

    Joseph @ 5 :
    You ask how many mutations did it take, but I ask you what is the point of asking the question? If we can never be 100% sure of anything, and we cant, what are you trying to show? Also, how would one discover how many mutations it took?

    AS always, I tell you I’m opened minded, I’m searching for answers, I’d like to know the truth (so I read all sides), but evolution-bashing is not ID-building.

    Do some science! (please)

    Love you all.

  9. How many mutations did it take to go from a quadaped to an upright walking biped?

    How many mutations did it take to go from a reptilian ear to a mammalian ear?

    By trying to answer those questions you will understand the author’s point.

    Ah ok, I think I get it now. However, your position is only valid if you can show that evolution relies on the exact amount of mutation being known.

    Can you support your position?

    In other words, can you answer the following question: In what way does the current theory of evolution rely on the exact amount of mutations needed to change one phenotype into another being known?

  10. Nnoel:

    You ask how many mutations did it take, but I ask you what is the point of asking the question?

    Measure-ability. You know science!

    It all pertains to BVZ’s response.

    And BTW if it can be shown that undirected processes cannot account for something what is left?

    The point being is that if you have two choices and one is shown to be pure nonsense, then you have only one left.

    ID is a double-edged sword- so to speak.

    It is based not only on the positive evidence but also the negatives against the opposing PoV.

  11. BVZ:

    However, your position is only valid if you can show that evolution relies on the exact amount of mutation being known.

    ID is NOT anti-evolution.

    In what way does the current theory of evolution rely on the exact amount of mutations needed to change one phenotype into another being known?

    The theory of evolution needs something that would demonstrate an accumulation of mutations can do what the theory requires.

    For example no one knows if any amount of mutational accumulation can allow for the changes required to go from a quadraped to an upright walking biped.

    And no one knows if mammalian ears could evolve from reptilian ears.

    As I said the theory of evolution relies on our ignorance.

  12. 12

    BVZ:

    In what way does the current theory of evolution rely on the exact amount of mutations needed to change one phenotype into another being known?

    Not knowing exactly what you mean by the “current theory of evolution” (just a terminology problem,) if we are to to claim that mutations and selection lead to phenotype change, how can we not quantify it?
    How can we say that a phenotype change came from small mutations if we have no idea how many mutations it would take?
    It’s a hypothesis, and answering that question would be a first step toward testing it. Accepting the explanation is premature.

  13. 13
    William J. Murray

    Fundamentally, by what premise does one call any mutation an “error”, unless one knows the intent of, or is ascribing intent to the process being observed?

    When one claims that the intent of the process is to “copy” a string of proteins, how is that evaluation of “intention to copy” arrived at? If, during the observed process, a variant string of proteins is produced, why is it an “error”? How can it empirically be known to be an error, unless one uses a design and intent framework by which to judge such “errors”?

    Furthermore, how exactly would one evaluate the “error rate” of a hypothetically designed process, unless one knows the intent of the designer? If the designer designed in a random variable process, or is accumulating variant proteins for a future project, how then are we to establish an “error”?

    Unfortunately, there cannot be an examination of evolution without invoking design, because without design there is nothing but chaos and disorder to observe, or to observe with.

  14. Dr. Hunter – Yes, evolutionists are so enamored of their belief system, that they seem to be unwilling to admit how many changes would it take to go from a thalycine to a wolf.

  15. Cornelius,

    Thanks for the link to the article. As a Protestant Christian, however, I do have reservations about using the word “religious” in a derogatory manner toward ToE. Perhaps the word “dogmatic” would work just as well, without offending the faithful.

  16. Joseph : 8 @
    The point being is that if you have two choices and one is shown to be pure nonsense, then you have only one left.

    Haha, thanks for providing me with a good laugh. ‘The point’ is, as I said, bashing the ToE doesn’t create [the only other option available], if fact, you assume there are only 2 choices, that’s absurd! you haven’t considered the flying spaghetti monster.

    I am being slightly facetious here, but I challenge your ‘only alternate theory’ theory, ID is not doing science, it is not a testable hypothesis, therefore not a viable alternative. Perhaps it may be one day, but ID proponents need to actually do some science first!

    Joseph : 9 @
    As I said the theory of evolution relies on our ignorance.

    Umm, you are missing the bit where we start from knowing nothing and then slowly accumulate knowledge. That is science, pure and simple. But history has coined the term ‘god of the gaps’, and it appears to me that you are inserting ID into the gaps.

    Be wary when the gaps start to shrink!

    William J. Murray : 11 @
    Fundamentally, by what premise does one call any mutation an “error”, unless one knows the intent of, or is ascribing intent to the process being observed?

    [snip]

    Unfortunately, there cannot be an examination of evolution without invoking design

    We can know that the errors are errors cause the ‘intent’ is too survive. If it doesn’t help survival, then it is an error. That may sound like a over simplification, but that is the ‘intent’ boiled down.

    The word design may be used in evolution frequently, but as I’ve said, the intent is to survive, and all talk of design is simplified language to make the concepts understandable. ‘this part of organism x is DESIGNED to allow y’, could be written as ‘this part of organism x has arisen and been selected by natural selection because it gave organism x the advantage of y’

    This stuff seams elementary to me, please, inform me where I’m going wrong or what my misconceptions are!

    Love you.

  17. 17
    William J. Murray

    We can know that the errors are errors cause the ‘intent’ is too survive.

    Life has no such intent. One might as well claim tha the intent of gravity is to form planetary systems. Without a goal, there is no intent.

    If it doesn’t help survival, then it is an error.

    Unless there is a goal, there can be no “errors”. Evolution is blind. It has no goals, not even survival; that it survives is just a brute fact, a chance occurrence. It can equally, or more likely, have “not survived”.

    That may sound like a over simplification, but that is the ‘intent’ boiled down.

    No, it’s just a demonstration that unless evolutionists borrow concepts from their design counterparts, they have nothing to talk about, and no way to frame their discussion.

    …. ‘this part of organism x is DESIGNED to allow y’, could be written as ‘this part of organism x has arisen and been selected by natural selection because it gave organism x the advantage of y’

    That’s an interesting claim. How is it that “natural selection” selects in a way that allows life to continue at all,or allows it to continue in a way where it doesn’t entirely destroy itself in very short order? In other words, how did the parameters of “natural selection” get set to such a precise point so that very slow-reproducing, highly complex and easily-terminated entities like humans were even a possibility?

  18. 18
    William J. Murray

    Sorry about the double post, I forgot to differentiate via quotes – the prior one can be deleted by moderators:

    Nnoel said:”We can know that the errors are errors cause the ‘intent’ is too survive.”

    Life has no such intent. One might as well claim tha the intent of gravity is to form planetary systems. Without a goal, there is no intent.

    Nnoel said:”If it doesn’t help survival, then it is an error.”

    Unless there is a goal, there can be no “errors”. Evolution is blind. It has no goals, not even survival; that it survives is just a brute fact, a chance occurrence. It can equally, or more likely, have “not survived”.

    Nnoel said:”That may sound like a over simplification, but that is the ‘intent’ boiled down.”

    No, it’s just a demonstration that unless evolutionists borrow concepts from their design counterparts, they have nothing to talk about, and no way to frame their discussion.

    Nnoel said:” ‘this part of organism x is DESIGNED to allow y’, could be written as ‘this part of organism x has arisen and been selected by natural selection because it gave” organism x the advantage of y’

    That’s an interesting claim. How is it that “natural selection” selects in a way that allows life to continue at all,or allows it to continue in a way where it doesn’t entirely destroy itself in very short order? In other words, how did the parameters of “natural selection” get set to such a precise point so that very slow-reproducing, highly complex and easily-terminated entities like humans were even a possibility?

  19. ID is a double-edged sword- so to speak.

    It is based not only on the positive evidence but also the negatives against the opposing PoV.

    And yet in the next message from the same person:

    ID is NOT anti-evolution.

    I find the statements difficult to reconcile using the principles of right reason.

  20. William J. Murray : 15 @
    Life has no such intent. One might as well claim that the intent of gravity is to form planetary systems.

    I see what you did there! Very clever! But you were the one using the word ‘intent’, and I was extrapolating on your vocabulary. I’d glad you see how inappropriate it is too continue thinking in the ‘design’ paradigm.

    No, it’s just a demonstration that unless evolutionists borrow concepts from their design counterparts…

    Excuse me? Counterpart implies equal, and the theory of ID hypothesis of ID idea of ID is no where near the equal of Theory of Evolution.

    If the ‘ID movement’ is not just a propaganda machine, why wont anyone just admit that it is not science yet? When will stop attacking other theories and just begin formulating their own hypothesis and gathering their own evidence.

    I was surprised to see Cornelius been referred to as ‘Dr.’ by one of the posters, but I see it has been earned, so I’m not complaining, but I think that makes my call to ‘Do some science’ even more poignant, as I know the average reader on here has not the time or the means to ‘Do some science’, but this is the second blog post from the Dr that has demonstrated a lack of ‘doing science’.

    Especially when the attacks are of such a low quality as these! He is basically calling reasonable assumptions ‘a religion’, and not providing examples of his definition of ‘reasonable’. As I said above, it would have proved a valuable use of my time reading his article if he had put forward some idea of how he thought it should be done, but instead…

    Again, I’m am here to hear both sides, I might sound a little harsh towards ID, but as always, it’s for ID’s own good to hear these things. :) lol.

    Love you.

  21. 21
    William J. Murray

    Noel,

    You might familiarize yourself with the faq (which directly addresses your rhetoric), and actually respond to the points made in the discussion.

  22. 22
    Cornelius Hunter

    Folks: This discussion highlights the subtlety of evolution’s religion foundation.

    BVZ (#4):

    The words ‘biological errors’ are used, which are of course mutations.

    And like you pointed out, mutations are observed, so why does the author claim “we cannot measure such data–they come from our religious beliefs” ?

    Sorry, perhaps the term “error” can be misleading. It comes from evolutionist’s term paper analogy. The biological “errors” are any non adaptive structure (can be mutations, but not necessarily). For example, Sober uses the human and monkey tail bones as an example.

    Joseph (#5):

    How many mutations did it take to go from a quadaped to an upright walking biped?

    How many mutations did it take to go from a reptilian ear to a mammalian ear?

    By trying to answer those questions you will understand the author’s point.

    No, that is not the point. Mutations are irrelevant to evolution’s religious views on why divine creation is so unlikely.

    Herb (#13):

    Thanks for the link to the article. As a Protestant Christian, however, I do have reservations about using the word “religious” in a derogatory manner toward ToE. Perhaps the word “dogmatic” would work just as well, without offending the faithful.

    Sorry, but Protestantism is primarily where evolution comes from (with some help from Roman Catholicism). Sorry, but the word “religious” is precisely the right word.

  23. Cornelius,

    Sorry, but Protestantism is primarily where evolution comes from (with some help from Roman Catholicism). Sorry, but the word “religious” is precisely the right word.

    First, thank for replying. However, given that most of us pro-ID folks here are religious Protestants or Catholics, isn’t it odd to criticize evolutionists for being religious as well? Perhaps you could elaborate a bit on your Worldview and tell us if you consider yourself to be religious?

  24. 24
    Cornelius Hunter

    Herb (21):

    First, thank for replying. However, given that most of us pro-ID folks here are religious Protestants or Catholics, isn’t it odd to criticize evolutionists for being religious as well?

    I don’t think so. I suppose most people are “religious” in some sense. I certainly don’t criticize evolutionists (or anyone else) for being religious. My criticism is directed at problematic theories, and at people only insofar as they hold to the theory. The problem with evolution is that while it is not a good scientific theory, it is nonetheless mandated by religion, and so is declared to be a fact. Yet evolutionists claim it is all “just science.”

    Perhaps you could elaborate a bit on your Worldview and tell us if you consider yourself to be religious?

    I am not anti religion. In fact I am a Christian. The problem with evolution is not that it entails religious assumptions, per se, but that it is in denial about it.

    Of course the religious assumptions need to be defended as well, but first things first.

  25. Cornelius,

    Thanks again for the reply. We might end up having to agree to disagree here, but I’m still getting the sense that “religion” in your view includes holding to assumptions despite the lack of supporting evidences (or even the existence of contradictory evidences).

    That would be a very bad thing, IMHO. As a Christian, I feel that my beliefs are rational and based on evidences—the Bible and writings of apologists such as Josh McDowell or even Chesterton and Lewis if I want something a little more highbrow. And if I cling to any false doctrine, I would pray that God would cleanse me of them.

  26. Dr Hunter,

    No, that is not the point. Mutations are irrelevant to evolution’s religious views on why divine creation is so unlikely.

    I think you overstep twice in that last sentence. The first time by ascribing positions of individuals to an abstract concept. This is somewhat akin to being angry at a crack in the sidewalk when you stub your toe (not ToE). The second time by over-generalizing the challenge of evolution as “divine creation”. The only story of divine creation seriously challenged by evolution is recent creation of separate kinds. (Oh, and that whole thing about spontaneous generation from meatballs left on the table overnight that they tell in Vacation FSM School. ;) )

  27. 27
    Cornelius Hunter

    Herb (25):

    Thanks again for the reply. We might end up having to agree to disagree here, but I’m still getting the sense that “religion” in your view includes holding to assumptions despite the lack of supporting evidences (or even the existence of contradictory evidences).

    No, evolution’s religious premises are theological. You might reread the post. Sober’s paper is important because he confirms that the important evolution arguments, which raise the likelihood of common ancestry, are powerful not because they show common ancestry to be feasible or even reasonable, but because they show how the alternative has ridiculously low probability. Thus the species / kinds barrier is essentially falsified. Of course all this depends on how one models divine creation, and that is where the crucial religious premises come in.

  28. 28

    Cornelius,

    The problem with evolution is that while it is not a good scientific theory…

    I’m not sure what you mean here. Evolution makes and continues to make scientific predictions. Is this not the mark of a good theory?

    it is nonetheless mandated by religion, and so is declared to be a fact.

    So…. the reason astronomers say that the earth revolves around the sun is due to… religion?

  29. 29
    Cornelius Hunter

    SingBlueSilver (28):

    The problem with evolution is that while it is not a good scientific theory…

    I’m not sure what you mean here. Evolution makes and continues to make scientific predictions. Is this not the mark of a good theory?

    Not necessarily. For instance, one way to evaluate a theory is on how well does on its predictions. In the case of evolution, it does quite poorly on its predictions.

    it is nonetheless mandated by religion, and so is declared to be a fact.

    So…. the reason astronomers say that the earth revolves around the sun is due to… religion?

    No, I was referring to evolution, not heliocentrism.

  30. Nnoel

    you wrote:

    if fact, you assume there are only 2 choices, that’s absurd! you haven’t considered the flying spaghetti monster.

    I’m *not* being facetious – if the FSM did it, that *would* be ID – ID doesn’t *CARE* who/or what the designer is. Just that it’s a reflection of *any* degree of intent, vs “purely natural – law + chance etc” – being discussed in the Barbara Forrest thread

  31. Cornelius,

    No, evolution’s religious premises are theological. You might reread the post. Sober’s paper is important because he confirms that the important evolution arguments, which raise the likelihood of common ancestry, are powerful not because they show common ancestry to be feasible or even reasonable, but because they show how the alternative has ridiculously low probability.

    Ah, pardon my denseness. Is this a reasonable paraphrase: ToE is religious because its arguments are aimed at refuting religious conceptions of creation. That makes more sense to me!

  32. 32
    Cornelius Hunter

    Herb (31):

    Is this a reasonable paraphrase: ToE is religious because its arguments are aimed at refuting religious conceptions of creation.

    Close, but I would reword a bit:

    ToE is religious because its original development, and continued justification, is based on religious claims. It is from these religious claims, rather then empirical evidence, that evolutionists conclude that evolution is a fact. Everytime you hear the claim that evolution is a fact, you are hearing a religious proclamation.

  33. Thanks, Cornelius. With that in mind, I’ll take a closer look at the paper.

  34. 34

    Mr Hunter, are you saying that TOE is religious (or religiously based) because it is not primarily tied to evidence, but instead, uses whatever evidence can be surmised in order to attack the religious premises of its founders?

  35. 35
    CannuckianYankee

    Nnoel,

    “We can know that the errors are errors cause the ‘intent’ is too survive. If it doesn’t help survival, then it is an error. That may sound like a over simplification, but that is the ‘intent’ boiled down.”

    I’ve always had some difficulty with this, because it seems to me that “survival” is a value. We’ve had this discussion elsewhere, but I think I’m able to articulate it better now than then. If organisms are driven to survive, whey are they not also driven to not survive? Why does evolution choose one over the other? I understand that some evolutionsists answer this by saying that evolution does allow both – non-survival and survival, and the ones that survive are selected. This however seems somewhat tautological to me: things survive because they are selected for survival based on their fitness for survival.

    It still does not address the whole issue of the value of survival, nor the value of “fitness.” Where does that come from? If evolution is driven by random mutations acting on natural selection, then what within a biological system tells that system it must survive, or that it has acquired the necessary fitness to survive? Certainly a mutation does not lead to the information: “ah, I’m an organism, and organisms must survive and evolve,” or more directly natural selection: “ah, I’m the mechanism for evolution, I must select certain systems for survival based on their drive to survive.

    Now an evolutionist would probably say to me: “well you don’t quite understand the theory, because the organism or the mechanism” don’t have to ask these questions. It just happens that way. The fit survive, while the unfit do not (as a general rule)” But that still does not address the overall problem with the value of survival and evolution.

    It seems to me that in current biology organisms do not survive, but die out – all of them. They all develop unfitness, which causes them to die out. It is the not the individual organism, but the species Which survive (or rather evolve). Why does evolution care either way?

    How can you explain evolution without bringing up the value of survival? It would appear to me more accurate to say “evolution of the fittest,” but that too seems tautological: things that evolve are selected to evolve.

    You stated: “it is the ‘intent’ to survive,” as if evolution really is purposeful and directed by something outside of the actual process of evolution. I realize that you put the word intent in quotes so as not to suggest this, but I can’t help looking at it that way despite your insistence that it is not.

    And then you state that the “errors” are true errors because they violate the “intent” to survive, while still trying to escape the ramifications of purposeful intent. Let’s face it and call intent what it is. Intent suggest purpose and purpose suggests a plan. I’m not saying that you couldn’t argue it in another way, but that’s the point; Darwinists seem caught somehow in using design terms to explain evolution. They don’t seem to be able to escape that. Of course they also can’t escape the fact that biological organisms also appear to be purposefully designed.

    Bottom line is that you can’t escape intentional design, no matter how much you leave things to undirected evolution.

    Why not rather just say it. Evolution requires something outside the system to purposefully intend the goal of survival and evolution? I understand why not, but it doesn’t seem to be a scientific answer, but a metaphysical one.

    I can’t help thinking of evolution with some sort of goal in mind: the goal to survive and evolve. Why, if there is not some higher purpose to survive and evolve? Yet I don’t hear evolutionists really addressing this, and it used to puzzle me until I came to understand that there are metaphysical assumptions going on.

  36. Hey CanYankee,

    Good points. I wonder where complexity falls into the whole “intent” thing as well. The analogy of climbing Mt. Improbable always struck me as a bit strange. Why climb at all when it is easier to roll down Mt. Improbable? Is a human somehow more fit than bacteria? Yet for some reason (that suposedly has nothing to do with intent), evolution seeks out the improbably complex peak. Why?

  37. Cornelius, you made the following statement in 32:

    ToE is religious because its original development, and continued justification, is based on religious claims. It is from these religious claims, rather then empirical evidence, that evolutionists conclude that evolution is a fact.

    Can you give me an example of evidence the ToE relies on that is NOT observable?

  38. 38
    CannuckianYankee

    Phinehas,

    Also good points. I should have added that “fitness” seems to be value driven as well, which seems to contradict randomness. But Dawkins goes to great lengths to explain that the randomness is really not random; I guess in the same way as the “appearance” of design is not “real” design. I can’t quite figure out what he means by that. The sophistication of his argument does not seem to escape the tautologies, nor the contradictions.

    BTW, your argument gives “a rolling stone gathers no moss” new meaning.

  39. 39
    Cornelius Hunter

    BVZ (37):

    Can you give me an example of evidence the ToE relies on that is NOT observable?

    I did not say ToE relies on unobservable evidence. I said the claim that evolution is a fact entails religious claims. It cannot be derived from the empirical evidence (far from it).

    So rather than following the empirical evidence, ToE interprets the evidence according to religious assumptions. IOW:

    ToE is religious because its original development, and continued justification, is based on religious claims. It is from these religious claims (rather than simply from the empirical evidence), that evolutionists conclude that evolution is a fact.

    Sober’s new PNAS paper is helpful because it highlights the structure of one of the important religious arguments (though the paper does not explore the penetration of religion, it is more focused on the structure of the argument) that has been crucial to proving the “fact” of evolution.

  40. 40
    CannuckianYankee

    Phinehas,

    “Yet for some reason (that suposedly has nothing to do with intent), evolution seeks out the improbably complex peak. Why?”

    And on top of that (no pun intended), there really is no “peak” to Mt. Improbable. Evolution continues until that last meteor comes along and destroys the whole system, or until supernova, whichever comes first. It seems such a waste that evolution should go to such an “intentional” extent only for the inevitable to disprove it all – that no matter how fit, no matter how selective, no matter how randomly creative, the end result is annihilation, not survival.

    The Darwinist would argue that evolution has no knowledge of that end, and so it continues. But aren’t we a part of evolution, with our evolved brains and evolved minds? And haven’t we figured out that this is our fate? No wonder they put intent in quotes. Hmmm.

  41. 41
    CannuckianYankee

    Upright Biped,

    “Mr Hunter, are you saying that TOE is religious (or religiously based) because it is not primarily tied to evidence, but instead, uses whatever evidence can be surmised in order to attack the religious premises of its founders?”

    Did you mean “in order to DENY the religious premises of its founders?”

  42. 42
    CannuckianYankee

    William,

    “Unfortunately, there cannot be an examination of evolution without invoking design, because without design there is nothing but chaos and disorder to observe, or to observe with.”

    Sorry I missed this earlier. I think you said it better than I said it in #35. You stated “or to observe with.” Another excellent point. Here we are with ordered intentional minds, diminishing our intellect with notions of random chaos. If Darwinian evolution were consistently true, we could never actually know it.

  43. Joseph @ 7:”How many mutations did it take to go from a quadaped to an upright walking biped?

    How many mutations did it take to go from a reptilian ear to a mammalian ear?

    By trying to answer those questions you will understand the author’s point.”

    Has anyone ever noticed the curious asymmetry between science and ID?

    ID demands that science list every mutation required to turn a single cell into an aardvark.

    But if someone asks ID to explain how aardvarks come to be, we get either the sounds of crickets chirping or claims that “ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories…”

    If ID would try to answer those questions, it would be the first step towards turning ID into a science.

  44. Cornelius

    It appears that you think certain religious assumptions are required to believe in common ancestry. Many of the ID supporters on this forum also accept the evidence for common ancestry. So presumably they share the same religious assumptions as Richard Dawkins et al?

  45. Cernelius (39).

    Ah ok.

    So basically what you are saying is that supporters of evolution claim that evolution is based on observable evidence like dna analasys, fossils, the examination of extant phenotypes, and the fact that the nested hierarchy can be derived from all of the above (and so on), but in reality, these things does not really point to evolution.

    So you are not disputing the evidence, or that they are observable, you are simply saying that the evidence does not lead us to evolution.

    In order for me to understand your position better, I have to ask the following: Do you think evolution is compatable with the observable evidence, even though you do not think the evidence leads to evolution?

  46. 46
    CannuckianYankee

    Mark Frank,

    “Many of the ID supporters on this forum also accept the evidence for common ancestry. So presumably they share the same religious assumptions as Richard Dawkins et al?”

    I think the point is that we are all influenced by the assumptions of evolution, whether we accept ID or not.

    If you read the article, which is at points difficult to understand, pay attention particularly to the point about the human “tailbone,” compared to the plagiarism example. You should be able to dicipher that we couldn’t know that the human tailbone is deleterious (sp?) without having prior examples of this – as in the analogy from mistakes left over from plagiarism. Thus we know something is deleterious or a mistake because we are familiar with what is not a mistake.

    Mr. Sober seems to be arguing (and I may have this all wrong, because Sober is a difficult read) that Darwin presented common ancestry from the top down in this matter due to a prior religious commitment. And again, Sober does not really spell this point out explicitly. Anyway, that we have this mistake (without having any example of such a mistake from nature), and more importantly from not having an example of a more perfect or “evolved?” human without the “tailbone” – based on that, we can determine that humans share a common ancestry with monkeys, which also have this tailbone.

    The problem is that why is the monkey’s tailbone not deleterious, while ours is? The conclusion does not follow proper inferretial logic. It assumes it’s conclusion to make the argument for common ancestry, because it had no way to tell that the human “tailbone” is in fact a mistake. Apparently Darwin thought that eventually via evolution humans would no longer have this “tailbone.”

    That’s how I understand it.

    What this means then is that Darwin’s thesis is formed out of a religious assumption that the designer left mistakes in the creation, and we can follow the mistakes through and find common ancestrty between species.

    But what Darwin did not say is that the common traits among humans and monkeys, such as our bipedal similarities, our basic body structures were necessarily evidence for common descent. It was the mistakes that were the evidence.

    What would cause someone to look at an assumed mistake, rather than at the obvious similarities in order to determine common ancestry?

    Because Darwin was a theist, and he had certain theological views about God – that he made things imperfect – or at least that he left behind evidences of imperfection. This is not a naturalistic assumption, because a naturalist would not recognize mistakes in evolution – only a theist making certain theological assumptions would. The naturalist would simply recognize the obvious similarities between species’ body structures and so forth as evidence for common ancestry.

    So beginning from this theological commitment, Darwin assumed that the human tailbone was a mistake, or a leftover from a prior evolutionary step. Did I get it right, Dr. Hunter? If not, I tried.

  47. 47

    Dr. Hunter:

    I said the claim that evolution is a fact entails religious claims.

    This is debatable. It’s true that Darwin was motivated by some theological reasoning, and today reasoning such as “why would God make something that way” is used to persuade non-scientists.
    But if we entangle the scientific views of evolutionists with their religious beliefs (even the ones they don’t confess to,) then how can we not view ID the same way?
    I’d rather argue that ID is science and not religion than that ID and evolution are both religion.

  48. ScottAndrews,

    But if we entangle the scientific views of evolutionists with their religious beliefs (even the ones they don’t confess to,) then how can we not view ID the same way?

    Good point, and I think that’s a valid concern. What if someone tries to apply the argument to the ID side? ID makes assertions of the form “Nature, operating freely, could not have produced the bacterial flagellum, therefore ID is true”. IOW, we do not show directly that a designer probably created these structures, but rather that the alternative (unguided evolution) is extremely unlikely. Does this make ID an evolutionist theory? I’ll need some more coffee before I tackle that one. :D

  49. 49

    herb:
    That’s mind-bending, but it makes sense to me.
    I think that if one attacks ID on the basis of its theological implications, it’s fair game to return the same.
    But the objective should be to neutralize religion on both sides, as neither science can embrace religious beliefs. (Did I say “neutralize religion?” My faith means infinitely more to me than ID.)

  50. 50
    Cornelius Hunter

    Mark Frank (43):

    It appears that you think certain religious assumptions are required to believe in common ancestry. Many of the ID supporters on this forum also accept the evidence for common ancestry. So presumably they share the same religious assumptions as Richard Dawkins et al?

    I can only go by what people write. The overriding consensus amongst evolutionists is that evolution and common ancestry is a fact, as much as gravity is a fact. And when they explain why, they use religious arguments (not surprisingly). These religious arguments were not contrived by Darwin. They came primarily from Christians in the centuries leading up to Darwin. Darwin didn’t even need to defend them, or define his terms. He just used them. Often times creationists and IDers agree with some of these religious premises (and as a consequence, sometimes the debate glosses over crucial points).

    BVZ (44):

    So basically what you are saying is that supporters of evolution claim that evolution is based on observable evidence like dna analasys, fossils, the examination of extant phenotypes, and the fact that the nested hierarchy can be derived from all of the above (and so on), but in reality, these things does not really point to evolution.

    Correct, the evidence raises substantial problems for evolution. The theory itself is not well supported by the evidence. The only way to conclude it is a fact is to falsify the alternatives. Such contrastive reasoning (as Sober puts it) is abundant and crucial in evolutionary thought. Sober’s work helps to make this point that contrastive reasoning is the crucial step (though it is obvious from just reading the literature).

    In order for me to understand your position better, I have to ask the following: Do you think evolution is compatable with the observable evidence, even though you do not think the evidence leads to evolution?

    It depends on what you mean by “evolution.” It seems that practically any theory can be made compatible with any evidence, if one is willing to sufficiently alter the theory, by adding “epicycles” or whatever. You might want to read the introduction at http://www.DarwinsPredictions.com.

    So there is a tradeoff between parsimony and accuracy. Evolution, because it is not a good model of biology, must either accept low accuracy or low parsimony. Evolutionists have opted for the latter. So yes, it certainly can be made to be compatible with the available evidence (and it has been), but the theory is constantly being patched, and is more of a tautology than a description of how nature works.

    CannuckianYankee (45):

    Mr. Sober seems to be arguing (and I may have this all wrong, because Sober is a difficult read) that Darwin presented common ancestry from the top down in this matter due to a prior religious commitment.

    Sober does not explore the religious penetration into science. He focuses more on the structure and power of the arguments.

  51. 51
    Cornelius Hunter

    ScottAndrews (46):

    I said the claim that evolution is a fact entails religious claims.

    This is debatable.

    It wouldn’t be a very interesting debate. The claim that evolution is a fact, though ubiquitous in the evolution genre, is always explained with non scientific claims.

    It’s true that Darwin was motivated by some theological reasoning, and today reasoning such as “why would God make something that way” is used to persuade non-scientists.
    But if we entangle the scientific views of evolutionists with their religious beliefs (even the ones they don’t confess to,) then how can we not view ID the same way?
    I’d rather argue that ID is science and not religion than that ID and evolution are both religion.

    ID (right or wrong) is an inference from empirical data. There are no religious assumptions in the inference. Evolutionists argue it is religious because it fails to exclude supernatural causation from the list of possibilities.

    Herb (47):

    Good point, and I think that’s a valid concern. What if someone tries to apply the argument to the ID side? ID makes assertions of the form “Nature, operating freely, could not have produced the bacterial flagellum, therefore ID is true”.

    ID does not say it could not have. It says it is unlikely. This is an inference from the data. Right or wrong, there is no religious assumption in the inference.

    IOW, we do not show directly that a designer probably created these structures, but rather that the alternative (unguided evolution) is extremely unlikely.

    Contrastive reasoning is not, itself, religious. In the case of evolution it is because religious assumptions are involved.

  52. 52
    Cornelius Hunter

    ScottAndrews (48):

    But the objective should be to neutralize religion on both sides, as neither science can embrace religious beliefs. (Did I say “neutralize religion?” My faith means infinitely more to me than ID.)

    I don’t think the problem with evolution lies in the fact it uses religious reasoning, so much as in the denial of such reasoning.

  53. Cornelius,

    ID does not say it could not have. It says it is unlikely.

    Agreed, of course. I was abbreviating there a little for the sake of clarity.

    This is an inference from the data. Right or wrong, there is no religious assumption in the inference.

    ***

    Contrastive reasoning is not, itself, religious. In the case of evolution it is because religious assumptions are involved.

    I guess I’m still unclear on what the religious assumptions of ToE are then. Would you be able to spell out very explicitly some particular examples (accessible to the layperson, like me)?

  54. 54
    William J. Murray

    I’ve often wondered about the whole “common descent” concept; I mean, if it is possible for inert material to generate life once, why not several times? In Darwin’s day, a cell was thought to be nothing ore than a lump of jelly; surely a lump of jelly can be easily invented multiple times all over the world by natural forces.

    Why then invoke common descent at all? It seems to me that the idea of common descent would only be utlized to directly, conceptually, contradict the idea that each animal was created seperately, and that humans were signifcantly different from the rest of animals.

    If life spontaneously generated many different times, and formed the differnt phyla we see on their own, it’s too much like the current theistic account of god creating each creature seperately.

    It seems that “common descent” was an idea manufactured specifically to contradict theistic beliefs.

  55. 55
    Cornelius Hunter

    Herb (52):

    I guess I’m still unclear on what the religious assumptions of ToE are then. Would you be able to spell out very explicitly some particular examples (accessible to the layperson, like me)?

    Well the religious assumptions can be subtle. But often they are quite obvious. Take a look at the PZ Myers’ religion here, and how they mandate his conclusion for evolution. Or take a look at Ken Miller’s and Gould’s religion here. Do you see it now?

    Notice that evolution’s religion transcends the “atheist vs believer” canard. If you want more detail, you can look here.

    William Murray (53):

    Good points, however, you write:

    It seems that “common descent” was an idea manufactured specifically to contradict theistic beliefs.

    Slight (but significant) correction. “Common descent” was an idea manufactured specifically to contradict support theistic beliefs.

  56. Cornelius,

    RE my post #52, based on the elephant example you cite, one example of a religious assumption of ToE is:

    “The Designer would not separately create a large number of very similar organisms over a relatively brief span of time.” (my interpretation of Ken Miller’s view)

    Am I correct here?

  57. Sorry, Cornelius—cross-posted there. I’ll check out your links.

  58. 58
    Cornelius Hunter

    Herb (55):

    based on the elephant example you cite, one example of a religious assumption of ToE is:

    “The Designer would not separately create a large number of very similar organisms over a relatively brief span of time.” (my interpretation of Ken Miller’s view)

    Am I correct here?

    Terrific question. You are asking about the underlying theology at work. What exactly are these religious premises? Yes, you are correct about the above Miller quote, but of course that sentiment derives from more general theological concerns that Christians raises in the 17th and 18th centuries.

    It is too much to type here, so I’ll have to refer you to Section 7 of http://www.DarwinsPredictions.com. WARNING: If you read this, you will be opening a box of truth from which you may not escape.

  59. 59

    William J. Murray,

    ——”If life spontaneously generated many different times, and formed the differnt phyla we see on their own, it’s too much like the current theistic account of god creating each creature seperately.

    It seems that “common descent” was an idea manufactured specifically to contradict theistic beliefs.”

    I agree. There is no reason, given a “common descent” explanation that life spontaneously originated once, why it couldn’t happen twice, or more.

  60. Cornelius,

    Thanks—I’m pretty sure I understand now. I like your post on Myers, as it clearly shows where his expectations of the Designer’s intent and methods come from. From your blog, with my comments:

    Myers’ conclusion depends on what he believes about God.

    1. God wouldn’t make life difficult. [Life is difficult; Myers therefore assumes God would not tolerate such a state of affairs, hence "God does not exist".]

    2. God wouldn’t create patterns in the fossil species. [There are patterns in fossil species, repeat above reasoning.]

    3. God wouldn’t create similarities between species. [There are similarities between species, etc, etc, etc.]

  61. 61
    Cornelius Hunter

    Herb (60):

    Yes, correct. However, note that Myers belief in atheism is not required by evolution. Evolution merely requires that the species arose via strictly naturalistic processes. Beyond that, anything goes. Each man, believe what he can.

  62. 62
    William J. Murray

    So, is deism the religious belief that informs evolutionary thought and lies hidden under materialist terminology?

  63. 63
    William J. Murray

    IOW – no personal, active, conscious god would allow/do this, but since they have made no case that “nature” should exist at all, or that it should allow anything resembling life to exist or reason to meaningfully correspond to the world, they have stolen the “god” concept and re-labeled it with the impersonal term “chance”.

    The deistic god has a new name, it seems.

  64. Cornelius,

    Thanks for the patient explanations. It’s good to have this insight into our opponents’ tactics. I wonder, though, whether there are some instances in which evolutionists can justifiably say a Designer wouldn’t have done things in a certain way. And if so, do you have any examples?

  65. 65

    Dr. Hunter:
    Perhaps I should reformulate what I’m saying entirely.
    To claim that a divine creator wouldn’t design a thing a certain way appears religious on the surface.
    But one could also argue that Miller is simply interspersing mockery of religion with his other statements.
    It could still be construed as religious, but it’s very, very thin. The choir will hear it preached, but no one will be converted.

  66. 66
    Cornelius Hunter

    William (62-3) and ScottAndrews (65):

    Deism is an important tradition in the theological mandate for naturalism that set the foundation for evolution, but it is by no means the only tradition. And many of these traditions are very much with us today.

    Advocates of those traditions would not view their use of theological premises as in any way disingenuous. It is true that sarcasm or other rhetorical devices may be employed (as in the Miller quote I supplied), but do not mistake that for mere mockery or disingenuous belief.

    Herb (64):

    Thanks for the patient explanations. It’s good to have this insight into our opponents’ tactics. I wonder, though, whether there are some instances in which evolutionists can justifiably say a Designer wouldn’t have done things in a certain way. And if so, do you have any examples?

    The question of whether theological mandates for naturalism (what I refer to as theological naturalism — TN) are justified is, not surprisingly, fairly complicated. It involves some pretty deep theology and philosophy.

    I’ll just mention one TN premise which seems reasonable to me, and that is that God would not create the world in such a way so as to make it appear to have evolved via the same natural laws we can deduce from the experimental sciences.

    But given how badly evolution fails scientifically, this concern doesn’t seem to be in play. Here’s one recent example.

  67. Gaz wrote: “…the fact that creation is false that most scientists, and indeed most of the public in the Western world, accept evolution as being established…”

    Not really. Public opinion surveys indicate that fully half of all Americans affirm that God separately created the first humans within the past 10,000 years. Polls from western Europe reveal that 40% believe in naturalistic evolution, 21% in theistic evolution, 20% in recent special creation, and 19% were undecided.

  68. Cornelius Hunter:

    “Take a look at the PZ Myers’ religion here, and how they mandate his conclusion for evolution.”

    Didn’t you read the P.Z. Myers L.A. Times article that you link to from your blog?

    If you do read it carefully, you’ll see that he refers to more than one of the popular characterizations of the Christian god, and that nothing he says about these gods mandates his views on biology.

    I think that you miss the obvious reason that biologists often refer to gods, which is the sustained religious attack on their subject by people who feel threatened by the idea of natural origins of species and life.

    It’s because cultures that have traditionally believed in a creation myth made up to explain origins are shifting slowly towards a more realistic point of view, creating a culture war.

    Strongly creationist religions, like the Abrahamic ones, are threatened by this shift, and will probably not survive it in significant strength (although they’ll still be around well into the next century, for sure).

  69. 69
    Cornelius Hunter

    iconofid (68):

    Didn’t you read the P.Z. Myers L.A. Times article that you link to from your blog?

    Yes, I did. You should read it carefully.

    … he refers to more than one of the popular characterizations of the Christian god, and that nothing he says about these gods mandates his views on biology.

    No, you need to read it all the way to the end (better yet, just read my blog, again, all the way to the end). Myers clearly states his religious belief, and it mandates a naturalistic origins narrative.

    I think that you miss the obvious reason that biologists often refer to gods, which is the sustained religious attack on their subject by people who feel threatened by the idea of natural origins of species and life.

    That’s quite a rewrite of history. In fact, contrastive arguments are not in response to “religious attacks.” They date back centuries, and are the mandate for naturalism. Sober helps here in explaining the relative strengths of the different arguments.

    But in any case, the causes of religious belief do not change the fact that the religious belief is there, and it carries with it certain implications. Myers is entitled to his religious beliefs just like anyone else, but his particular belief mandates a naturalistic origins. We can argue all day about why people such as Myers holds to such beliefs, but they do. They openly express their beliefs, and the beliefs mandate evolution, one way or another. Evolutionists use the term “fundamentalist” to describe someone who has such strong religious beliefs.

  70. Cornelius,

    I’ll just mention one TN premise which seems reasonable to me, and that is that God would not create the world in such a way so as to make it appear to have evolved via the same natural laws we can deduce from the experimental sciences.

    Well, that would provide a clear target for evolutionists to go after. If they could show that life was reducible to necessity, matter, chance, and energy, then their job would be done. I won’t hold my breath though.

    But given how badly evolution fails scientifically, this concern doesn’t seem to be in play. Here’s one recent example.

    Wow. From the ScienceDaily article:

    In the simplest, most primitive cheilostomes, the soft feeding organ is squeezed out of the box by muscles pulling on a flexible membrane. The next step in diversification was calcified spines around the membrane, then fusion of the spines, then reduction of the fused spinal shield and membrane and invention of a water sac inside the box to provide enough volume to squeeze out the feeding organ. Lineages showing each of these stages are alive today. Then as now, these steps are seen as evolved defenses against small predators and parasites on the colony surface.

    So they figure these very specific steps occurred repeatedly in different organisms over millions of years. Seems like a rational person would conclude a Designer was at work.

  71. 71
    Cornelius Hunter

    Herb (70):

    Seems like a rational person would conclude a Designer was at work.

    Well I wouldn’t say evolutionists are not rational. Their argument that evolution must be a fact is perfectly valid. It entails religious premises, but given those premises, the conclusion follows.

    Therefore the scientific evidence is inconsequential. When the evidence contradicts the theory (as it often does), they just modify the theory to accommodate.

  72. Cornelius quotes Myers on his blog:

    “We go right to the central issue of whether there is a god or not. We’re pretty certain that if there were an all-powerful being pulling the strings and shaping history for the benefit of human beings, the universe would look rather different than it does.”

    And says:

    That is a religious argument. Myers’ conclusion depends on what he believes about God. God wouldn’t make life difficult. God wouldn’t create patterns in the fossil species. God wouldn’t create similarities between species. It makes no difference that evolution does not explain how life, in all its incredible forms, actually arose. It does not matter that evolution is consistently wrong–it must be right. Our religion depends on it.

    Evolutionists such as Myers have been duped by religion. They use it and they depend on it, but they imagine they are free of it.

    What Myers does there is describe one of the types of Christian gods that some Christians believe in, and then give his opinion that observations of the universe don’t fit it. Elsewhere in that L.A. Times, he describes the creator god of ~6,000 years ago, the god of some Christians, and some observations that don’t fit that one. Then he describes a third type of god who manipulates things subtly on the atomic level, and gives an opinion on why he thinks it’s silly to believe in an undetectable god (or something like that). He’s being an atheist and an anti-theist, and he isn’t talking about biology, which only gets one mention along with physics, geology and history in relation to the young earth god.

    As he believes in none of these gods, he’s not being religious in any conventional sense of the word.

    If you want to describe Myer’s naturalism as religion, you need to define religion for us, and define philosophy. The history of the last few centuries, during which we have increasingly identified natural causes for a growing number of the phenomena of the universe would argue that naturalism is an observation based philosophy. Hinduism, Christianity and Scientology are not believed in due to observation. They are religions, by the conventional use of the word, but naturalism is only by the Cornelius Hunter preferred use.

    What you seem to be pretending to yourself is that people think evolutionary theory is a strong scientific theory because of their interpretations of what your god should or shouldn’t be.

    Actually, it’s because of the evidence. The theory of evolution is an inevitability in cultures of a certain level of scientific development, and would exist if Christianity had never been invented and Darwin had never been born, once human cultures reached that level. Surely you’re being a bit parochial if you think that the many Japanese and Chinese “evolutionists” have their views of biology because of anything to do with your god?

    I think you’re perhaps making this mistake because you see the history of theological/philosophical ideas as central; as what drives change.

    Try looking at those things as symptoms or products of other factors, and see if it makes a difference (as if scientific, technological and socio-economic change create the changes in philosophy, rather than the other way around).

  73. 73
    Cornelius Hunter

    Folks and iconofid (72):

    One of fascinating aspects of evolutionary thought is its denial. The constant religious claims followed by the constant stream of denials is fascinating. Here we have Myers saying this:

    We’re pretty certain that if there were an all-powerful being pulling the strings and shaping history for the benefit of human beings, the universe would look rather different than it does.

    From what scientific experiment did that finding about all-powerful beings come? That is unequivocally, unambiguously, a religious claim (it is amazing we even have to spell this out!). It has been around for centuries, and not surprisingly is still a popular belief today. And yet, here is the response:

    he’s not being religious in any conventional sense of the word

    Amazing. What is it about “all-powerful being” that people don’t understand. Why do they think they can make religious pronouncements and then hide behind science?

    Then we have this:

    What you seem to be pretending to yourself is that people think evolutionary theory is a strong scientific theory because of their interpretations of what your god should or shouldn’t be.

    Pretending? I’m pretending that evolutionists have religious beliefs?? My god? Amazing.

    Actually, it’s because of the evidence.

    Actually, it is not because of the evidence. If that were the case, then evolutionists would not be claiming it is a fact and then providing religious arguments to prove their case.

    Surely you’re being a bit parochial if you think that the many Japanese and Chinese “evolutionists” have their views of biology because of anything to do with your god?

    Now it’s “my god.” Evolutionists make the religious claims and then pin in on you. Amazing. As for the “Japanese and Chinese,” what makes you think their metaphysics are any different? The particular religious premises that promoted evolutionary thinking in modern science were first advocated by protestants and some roman catholics, but more generally these premises are quite universal. You can find them in ancient thought, in today’s atheists, and pretty much everywhere in between.

    Furthermore, evolutionists in general today have little concern with proving evolution. Why? Because it is assumed to be a fact. The “fact” of evolution was proclaimed back in the 19th century.

    I think you’re perhaps making this mistake because you see the history of theological/philosophical ideas as central; as what drives change.

    Try looking at those things as symptoms or products of other factors, and see if it makes a difference (as if scientific, technological and socio-economic change create the changes in philosophy, rather than the other way around).

    That would be great advice if (i) the fact of evolution was supported by scientific evidence, and (ii) evolutionists did not use religious arguments. As it stands, neither (i) nor (ii) are the case. So this raises the questions: how does the scientific evidence bear on the theory, and where are these religious arguments coming from?

    The answers are that evolution is not well supported by the evidence, and that this is inconsequential because strictly naturalistic explanations have been religiously mandated for centuries (long before Darwin). This is anything but, as you suggest, a case of philosophical / theological conclusions, resulting from scientific findings. In fact, it is exactly the opposite.

    What is truly amazing is the lengths to which evolutionists will go to remain in denial. Evolutionary theory, and its claim to be a fact, is perfectly rational and logical. But here it becomes irrational.

  74. 74

    CannuckianYankee

    “Did you mean “in order to DENY the religious premises of its founders?””

    To be honest I am not sure which wording is better suited. I was simply exploring Dr Hunter’s post in terms of the psychological observation that sometimes children are unable to balance the selectively bonded individual (or collective) traits of their parents.

    For instance (simplifying here) a child may grow up with an exceptionally well-disciplined parent. If that particular parental trait becomes an emotional attachment for the child, then he/she may grow up to either mimic that trait in their own lives, or may become the direct opposite (by being distinctly irresponsible about their finances, or time, or bodies, or whatever). The opposite can be true as well. A completely irresponsible parent may engender a child to be the same, or that child may react exactly the opposite and be as responsible as anyone could imagine, even hyper-responsible.

    More often than not, if that person then finds themselves later in life sitting across from a therapist or close friend, these unresolved (and often hidden) attachments come to light.

    Anyway, I realize I am way off topic. I was just reflecting on this in relation to Dr. Hunter’s thoughts about a-theism being a direct product of theism. Perhaps a case could be made (has been made) that theism is the default position of human existence, and that a-theism is simply one of the ways humans deal with it. In any case…

    (…by the way Yankee, I have very much enjoyed your post over the past days. Very nicely done!)

  75. Cornelius,

    The answers are that evolution is not well supported by the evidence, and that this is inconsequential because strictly naturalistic explanations have been religiously mandated for centuries (long before Darwin).

    As usual, excellent points. Just don’t get drawn into that thread on the origin of methodological naturalism! :D

  76. 76
    CannuckianYankee

    “More often than not, if that person then finds themselves later in life sitting across from a therapist or close friend, these unresolved (and often hidden) attachments come to light.”

    Interesting. I think that attachments to parental influence in psychotherapy, while valid, is often overblown. You mentioned in an earlier paragraph that a child can end up either following in thier parent’s footsteps characteriologically, or going in the opposite direction.

    Despite all the studies that could be done in this area, and I imagine that there probably are many, although I’m no aware of any specific ones; I think a lot of this is based on determinism. Now some aspects of determinism might seem logically valid, and to an extent they are, but I have some misgivings based on my own experience.

    I think determinism tends to overlook the fact that we are social “animals,” and that our choices are not entirely influenced by nurture of course, but neither by our genes, but by choice, based on attraction and other influential factors.

    What I mean by attraction is that some things are more alluring to us than others, and often we make choices based on gaining what is most alluring.

    But “choice” is the big word here. Determinism relegates choice to something in our biological makeup, rather than something outside; at least if you look at it from it’s logical premise. I think it’s of course a combination of our biological makeup and other factors.

    Now here is something interesting when it comes to Darwinism, because much of what we experience in our culture regarding Darwinism is the influence of “social Darwinism,” whereby our collective choices are aimed at the survival of the species.

    I can’t help but see a contradiction between the arguments for determinism and the arguments for social Darwinism, when they seem to come out of the same assumptions: namely, that our choices are determined, and free will is illusory. If that were an actuality, then how could cultures determine the moral pathways that lead towards the survival of the species?

    Anyway you look at it, we must have an element or degree of choice made freely in order to make moral choices, which collectively made, affect the larger culture. We are not simply acting on what is instinctive or what is “survival friendly.” In deed, at times we are capable of acting on pure altruism, which the Darwinists seem to reject.

    I mentioned in an earlier post (and I thank you for your compliment on my posts – I too have enjoyed yours) … anyway, in an earlier post about Darwinian paradoxical tactics I mentioned the folowing:

    Paradoxical tactics are intended to force the other side or the intended target to either “shut up,” or produce, with the expectation that they will not produce. They in-fact require the other side to make a choice, without acutally expecting the desired choice to be made.

    When I illustrated this by a practice that is employed where I work (in behavioral health) involving patients who threaten dangerous behavior for a secondary gain, the paradoxical “intervention” is to say “go ahead and do the harmful behavior.” This intervention works for a very important reason:

    These people have keenly figured out a game they can play with current understandings about free will and determinism. They understand that their behavior is not determined by anything apart from their own choice, but they also see that others believe that they truly have no choice. We call them “Borderline Personality Disorders,” but I doubt if there is really any kind of a true disorder going on apart from perhaps a sort of intentionally prolonged PTSD. If you worked with them you would know what I mean.

    The reality is, what they are essentially doing is playing the game of having a pseudo-mental illness because of the secondary gain – attention from nurses and hospitals, pampering, not having to work on the real issues of life, while remaining hospitalized for their “safety.” Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that they don’t require hospitalization at this crucial juncture, because they do; but it is not because they have a valid and verified mental illness that can be treated (in fact most phsycho-pharmacological interventions do not work on Borderlines). They need hospitalization because of the dangerous behavior they exhibit by their own choice – and the mental health system placates to the behavior by not recognizing the chosen game that is going on.

    And this is precisely why the paradoxical intervention works; We challenge them to actually do what they say they are going to do, because they don’t expect it. What they expect is sympathy, and counseling to the effect that it’s not their fault because of their “mental illness.” (i.e., the voices or the flashbacks are making them do harmful things – when in fact they don’t exhibit the common signs that a person who is hearing voices or having “flashbacks” would exhibit). You see where free-will comes in here.

    Of course, we work in a controlled environment, and so we can take measures to protect them and others if they end up following through with their threats of harming themselves or others.

    Darwinian social and phsycho-social determinism is what I view as the deep social-historical cause of this kind of behavior. I’m not saying that they haven’t experienced traumatic events in their lives – most of them have, and we are sensitive to this fact. But the common practice among therapists is to feed into the behavior by assuming a deterministic cause, without factoring in choice in the matter.

    This is why “Borderline Personality Disordered” adults rarely get better. It’s not that the disorder is so ingrained that nothing can affect it. It seems to be that our current Phsychology is based more on determinism and less on free choice.

    But I mentioned in a post from a few weeks ago that this is changing in mental health practice as evidenced by the “Recovery Model.”

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

    The Recovery Model essentially supports a choice-based framework for mental health practice. As such, MH patients are encouraged and supported in making their own choices for recovery, rather than depending on the system. In other words, we continually train and encourage mental health patients to make the choices necessary to recover from their debilitating symptoms.

    So the trend now is away from expensive and ineffective institutionalization, and towards setting up a community framework of support outside of the institution. This will be a tremendous help for the characteriologically based disorders in particular; because it gets these people out of the constraints and dependency of the institution, and requires them to make real choices.

    But I think there is another application here: We have to get away form social Darwinism in order for this approach to be truly effective.

  77. 77
    CannuckianYankee

    Dr. Hunter,

    “Sober does not explore the religious penetration into science. He focuses more on the structure and power of the arguments.”

    Ah, yes. That makes sense. I didn’t sense that he was making an analysis of Darwin’s religious views per se; but he seems to have set it up such that by his analysis, you can percieve the religious assumptions coming from Darwin.

    I earlier stated that Darwin was a theist. Perhaps he was more of a desit (as others have pointed out); which was a very common religious philosophy at the time.

    I wonder what Thomas Jefferson would have thought of Darwin’s theory. Were there evolutionist elements in Jefferson’s philosophy?

  78. Can you give examples of religios concepts that evolution relies on?

    I think thats what it boils down to. You claim evolution relies on religios ideas, can you give me an example of such a religios idea?

  79. 79
    CannuckianYankee

    “Can you give examples of religios concepts that evolution relies on?”

    Thanks, BVZ. I was about to ask the very same question.

    I think I have an idea – one would be belief in a deity who is not present, but who acted in the past, then allowed evolution to take care of the rest. So we have an initial creation, but without intentional design. It’s essentially the same as theistic evolution.

  80. 80
    CannuckianYankee

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03.....ion.t.html

    Here’s an interesting 11 page article from the New York Times: “Darwin’s God,” about anthropoligists studying religion from a Darwinian perspective.

    I couldn’t help noticing as I started reading this article, the assumption that viewing religion from a Darwinian perspective is rational, while religion itself is not. Hmm.

  81. 81
    Cornelius Hunter

    BVZ (78):

    Can you give examples of religios concepts that evolution relies on?

    I think thats what it boils down to. You claim evolution relies on religios ideas, can you give me an example of such a religios idea?

    See Post 55 (Or Origin).

  82. 82

    Yankee,

    My post was far more narrow than your reply, and there is nothing in your reply I take particular issue with – with one minor exception.

    The psychological observation I was speaking of has nothing whatesoever to do with determinism as I understand it.

  83. 83
    CannuckianYankee

    UPB,

    Yes, I know, but I was sort of rambling. Sorry, I get that from my Dad (JK). :) The point I was making was in relation to Psychotherapy, which you mentioned. Connections to parental influences is often used as an excuse for chosen bad behavior. Perhaps I didn’t make that clear.

  84. 84
    CannuckianYankee

    Dr. Hunter,

    I’ve read all of your links in #55. Excuse my ignorance, as I’m not accostomed to this particular argument for why Darwinism is religious – that a God would not create the world as it is. I’ve of course heard of this before, I just have not thought it out to any extent. I’m more accostomed to the argument that Darwinism requires faith (which I guess stems from this), and therefore is religious.

    Question: Is the basis for this belief that “a God would not create the world as it is” stemming from a previous Christian heresy in your view?

    I’ve been reading about Marcion and how he rejected the Old Testament God (The “Demiurge”) because he saw him as a cruel, genocidal deity, who created a cruel and hostile world.

    Marcion saw the demiurge as a lower deity from the benevolent God of the New Testament. I know that Marcionism pretty much died out in the 4th Century, and his ideas are primarily found in the writings of Tertullian. However, his idea of a lesser creation seems to be similar to what led up to Darwinism. Also, I find a connection to his views of the Old Testament God and some of the arguments against God’s existence coming from the “new atheists;” – the cruel genocidal god, for example.

  85. Cornelius Hunter:

    One of fascinating aspects of evolutionary thought is its denial. The constant religious claims followed by the constant stream of denials is fascinating. Here we have Myers saying this:

    We’re pretty certain that if there were an all-powerful being pulling the strings and shaping history for the benefit of human beings, the universe would look rather different than it does.

    I’ve already pointed out that Meyer’s is talking about a type of god that some theists believe in, and expressing his opinion that observations of the universe do not fit a god of that particular description.

    From what scientific experiment did that finding about all-powerful beings come?

    None. It comes from direct observation that the universe is not ideal for our benefit therefore presenting evidence against that particular invention of theists, not other gods

    Remember, that particular god is supposed to be both omnipotent and pulling the strings of history for our benefit. It is not an argument against all gods, because that god is not the god of deists, for example, or of genesis literalists who explain all imperfections and evil by the “fall”, or of many other theists.

    That is unequivocally, unambiguously, a religious claim (it is amazing we even have to spell this out!).

    No, not coming from an atheist. It could be coming from a religious person who is debating the character of god, and arguing against the “all powerful being pulling the strings and shaping history for human benefit” concept in favour of another, but even that’s debatable, because the actual argument is based on observation.

    It has been around for centuries, and not surprisingly is still a popular belief today. And yet, here is the response:

    (icon)
    “he’s not being religious in any conventional sense of the word”

    (Cornelius)
    Amazing. What is it about “all-powerful being” that people don’t understand. Why do they think they can make religious pronouncements and then hide behind science?

    You could, perhaps, consider the difference between making observations about a particular religious belief, and religious pronouncements.

    A clear example of a religious pronouncement:

    “The world was created by an omnipotent being who guides its history for human benefit”.

    A clear example of an observation about that pronouncement that requires no religious belief:

    “The world cannot be described as perfect for human beings, which is evidence against a god who is both omnipotent and desires it to be so.”

    That observation is not an argument against other gods, nor an argument against unknown designers of life, just against one particular god that some theists claim to believe in. It certainly does not positively support evolutionary theory, obviously.

    (Cornelius)
    Then we have this:

    (icon)
    “What you seem to be pretending to yourself is that people think evolutionary theory is a strong scientific theory because of their interpretations of what your god should or shouldn’t be.”

    Pretending? I’m pretending that evolutionists have religious beliefs?? My god? Amazing.

    “Pretending” can mean pretending to yourself. You’re the expert on confirmation bias and denial, things you’re happy to claim exist in others.

    Religious people who are also evolutionists have religious beliefs (obviously) and non-religious people who are also evolutionists do not have religious beliefs. You seem to be claiming that being an “evolutionist” requires some specific belief, which means that all evolutionists must a religious belief in common that you can describe.

    So, tell me what religious belief I have in common with a Japanese Buddhist evolutionist and a Chinese evolutionist who practises no religion, and a Catholic evolutionist, and a Jewish evolutionist.

    (Icon)
    “Actually, it’s because of the evidence.”

    Actually, it is not because of the evidence. If that were the case, then evolutionists would not be claiming it is a fact and then providing religious arguments to prove their case.

    I think, at this stage, you need to provide a description of the religious belief that you claim is being used by all evolutionists. A quote from an anti-theist attacking one specific god is certainly not that. So, let’s have it.

  86. “So, let’s have it.”

    I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting.

  87. 87
    CannuckianYankee

    Here’s an interesting quote from the NYT article I linked in #80.

    “Richard Dawkins had a history of spirited arguments with Gould, with whom he disagreed about almost everything related to the timing and focus of evolution. But he reserved some of his most venomous words for nonoverlapping magisteria. ‘Gould carried the art of bending over backward to positively supine lengths,’ he wrote in ‘The God Delusion.’ ‘Why shouldn’t we comment on God, as scientists? . . . A universe with a creative superintendent would be a very different kind of universe from one without. Why is that not a scientific matter?’”

    And right after that there’s this gem:

    “The separation, other critics said, left untapped the potential richness of letting one worldview inform the other. ‘Even if Gould was right that there were two domains, what religion does and what science does,’ says Daniel Dennett (who, despite his neo-atheist label, is not as bluntly antireligious as Dawkins and Harris are), ‘that doesn’t mean science can’t study what religion does. It just means science can’t do what religion does.’

    The idea that religion can be studied as a natural phenomenon might seem to require an atheistic philosophy as a starting point. Not necessarily. Even some neo-atheists aren’t entirely opposed to religion. Sam Harris practices Buddhist-inspired meditation. Daniel Dennett holds an annual Christmas sing-along, complete with hymns and carols that are not only harmonically lush but explicitly pious.”

    Both quotes are from page 10 of the article here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03.....ewanted=10

    The very last page of this article made me blink, as I think it will most others here. I won’t quote any of it here, because there’s just too much of it that is very relevant to this discussion.

    Let me just give you a hint here: the article covers some Darwinian explanations for religious belief, and ends as close as it can get to the idea that religious belief is so prevelant among us because perhaps; there is a God – although the author does not ultimately commit to that notion. He seems to stay firmly inline with the Darwinists – not surprising for the NYT.

    The denial of the obvious is so overwhelming in this article that you almost anticipate a contrary conclusion, but sadly, while it almost hits the nail on the Darwinian assumptions, it simply ends in a faith-confirmation of the Darwinian religion.

    Interesting read though – I found a wealth of useful material here.

  88. 88

    iconofid:

    you need to provide a description of the religious belief that you claim is being used by all evolutionists

    If understand correctly, iconfid is looking for a statement such as “all life descended from single-celled organisms” (just thinking of anything) which is accepted by evolutionists in general and isn’t perceived as a rhetorical argument. I think that would be useful.

  89. 89
    William J. Murray

    The problem is that evolutionists have never shown that such a series of steps can be done even once, much less twice, relying on law and chance to accomplish it.

    Evolutionists like Iconofid assert that such changes are evidence of convergent or parallel evolution without even having demonstrated that natural evolutionary forces are sufficient to generate even one such lineage, much less two.

    How can they be “evidence” of a duplicate of a process that has never even been demonstrated possible in the first place?

  90. 90
    William J. Murray

    Sorry, wrong thread.

  91. 91
    Cornelius Hunter

    iconofid (85):

    At this point I can see I won’t be able to explain this to you. For the sake of others, let me point out (what I would think should be obvious) that religious beliefs can be held hypothetically. IOW, an atheist can say that if an all-powerful god created the world, then the world would have these properties. I don’t happen to believe such a god exists, but I do believe that if such a god did exist and did create the world, then the world would have these properties.

    The fact that the atheist does not believe that such a god exists does not remove the religious belief about the god. Myers’ belief that an all-powerful creator would not likely create this world is a religious claim, not a scientific observation, regardless of what his ultimate beliefs are.

    Nor does the fact that {none/one/some/all} other {theists/baptists/libertarians/Spaniards} share this belief change the fact that it is a religious belief.

    It is astonishing that evolutionists think this is a scientific observation. In fact, the scientific observations are the properties of the world. The claim that an all-powerful creator would create such a world is a religious claim. Evolutionists are in denial about this.

    The religious claims of evolutionists are interesting, but their denial is really interesting.

    CannuckianYankee (84):

    Question: Is the basis for this belief that “a God would not create the world as it is” stemming from a previous Christian heresy in your view?

    Well no, but of course exploring that question would take us off in another direction.

  92. Cornelius:

    “IOW, an atheist can say that if an all-powerful god created the world, then the world would have these properties.”

    Correct, Cornelius, but Myers was talking about an all-powerful god who is pulling the strings of history in to our benefit, not an all powerful god who is doing nothing specific. The implied results (a perfect world for humans) are in the description of the god (all powerful string-puller for human benefit).

    It is not a religious opinion to point out the obvious problem with that particular god, which doesn’t fit observations if the world is not perfect for us. There’s little point in quoting from Myers if you don’t understand what he’s saying.

    To clarify with a more obvious example, if a theist were to propose the existence of an all powerful god who was pulling the strings of history in favour of the Dodo, someone describing the belief as ridiculous would not be expressing a religious opinion, but an observation based one.

    Got it?

  93. 93

    Excuse me for interjecting but I would like to observe if the world were perfect God would not have to die on a cross?

    Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science. William Dembski

    We started a fire in consenting to evil. God permits this fire to rage. He grants this permission not so that he can be a big hero when he rescues us but so that we can rightly understand the human condition and thus come to our senses. In rescuing us by suffering on the Cross, God does end up being a hero. But that is not the point of his suffering. The point is to fix a broken relationship between God and humanity.

    http://www.designinference.com.....of_xty.pdf

    Colossians 1:15-16
    Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
    For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

  94. One thing I’ve been pondering is the following: We all know classical ID simply proposes the existence of an Intelligent Designer, Who may or may not be a God. I just reread the Ken Millar quote concerning the 10 elephant-like species on Cornelius’ original blog post, and it appears he is referring to an unknown Designer, not a God in particular. So is Millar still making religious claims?

  95. 95

    William

    The problem is that evolutionists have never shown that such a series of steps can be done even once, much less twice, relying on law and chance to accomplish it.

    Have you demonstrated anything whatsoever about this “designer” of yours?

    No?

    Glass house/stones much?

  96. 96

    Levy,

    Your misunderstanding of ID is evident in the content of your post, and your willful misrepresentation of it is explicit in your tone.

    Your suggestion that there is some sort of equivalence in the claims of materialism and ID is ridiculous.

    Materialists don’t simply argue that they may be correct; instead they demand that they’ve been proven correct, and they do so to the point that the rules of rationality within science must therefore be re-written to arbitrarily exclude all inferences to agency in natural causes. At the same time they ignore the evidence against them, and they belittle anyone who suggests that materialism may not be true after all.

    Have you demonstrated anything whatsoever about this “designer” of yours?

    Sure have. ID is about detecting the artifacts of design. And I am more than willing to debate the evidence right here right now. It’s your call.

  97. —Cornelius Hunter: “They openly express their beliefs, and the beliefs mandate evolution, one way or another. Evolutionists use the term “fundamentalist” to describe someone who has such strong religious beliefs.”

    I once listed to a youTube discussion between PZMyers and Abbie Smith. Both went on and on about how “beautiful” evolution is, yet both believe that it was undesigned. How can anyone think undesigned evolution is beautiful except through worship?

  98. 98

    Materialists don’t simply argue that they may be correct

    Indeed they do not. They provide evidence.

    they do so to the point that the rules of rationality within science must therefore be re-written to arbitrarily exclude all inferences to agency in natural causes.

    It’s not that the rules have been re-written it’s just that the current “rules” provide results. Don’t forget for the past several thousand years your side has had it all. Everybody was a theist. You had your chance. Now look what has happened in the last 100 years alone – you have a computer!

    And in any case, there are many countries around the world where this is not true. Turkey for example has a strong belief in theism. Are the scientists there also oppressed by “the materalists?”

    If not, why no ID positive research going on?

    At the same time they ignore the evidence against them, and they belittle anyone who suggests that materialism may not be true after all.

    That’s because ID proponents refuse to publish in the peer reviewed literature. That’s where the debate is. That’s where you provide the evidence.

    For example, Atom made a claim recently that Nature and Science refuse papers submitted for publication simply on the basis that they support ID. When asked for some proof of that he simply ignored the question. You got a single example of a ID supporting paper that was rejected from such a journal soley on the grounds that it supported ID?

    Books? Fine for the layman, but you can’t make your scientific case with them to other scientists. Why should they bother to read work that has not been vetted? There are too many cranks out there for people to read every book claiming things that are simply too complex to condense into a suitable paper.

    Sure have. ID is about detecting the artifacts of design. And I am more than willing to debate the evidence right here right now. It’s your call.

    Can you name two biological entities, one which was designed and one which was not and explain how you came to that determination?

  99. StephenB,

    LOL—I’m glad I missed that youtube video. On the other hand, I think lots of things which are undesigned are beautiful—I do a little rockhounding and the plume agate, obsidian, etc that I find are very beautiful. Some of the amethyst crystals in my collection are spectacular. And of course, by no means do I worship these rocks!

  100. 100

    StephenB

    How can anyone think undesigned evolution is beautiful except through worship?

    You might think a sunset is beautiful but do your worship it?

    A rainbow? Your statement is illogical.

    Tell me, do you think your “designed evolution” is beautiful then?
    What about Ampulex Compressa? The wasp that gives roaches brain surgery? Is that beautiful to you?

    StephenB, do you believe in ghosts?

  101. 101

    Echidna.Levy,

    ——”StephenB, do you believe in ghosts?”

    Why is this question relevant?

  102. 102

    Clive,
    I believe it’s relevant because StephenB has made claim after claim after claim along these lines

    The idea that we have immaterial minds and immaterial wills that allow us to live a self-directed life-style is a far more plausible world view than the notion that we are nothing more than clanging molecules, that our existence is meaningless, and that we have no inherent dignity.

    It cuts to the heart of his argument. His “immaterial minds and immaterial wills” sound exactly like the classic description of ghosts to me and I want to understand where StephenB draws the line with is “immaterial minds”. If “immaterial minds” can only exist in a material brain (i.e. he does not believe in ghosts) then that’s some coincidence.

    I have asked him this on several threads but he has not responsed, hence my reptition of it here.

  103. 103

    Echidna.Levy

    ——”Tell me, do you think your “designed evolution” is beautiful then? What about Ampulex Compressa? The wasp that gives roaches brain surgery? Is that beautiful to you?”

    On the grounds of undesigned evolution, do you the Ampulex Compressa is beautiful? Do you sympathize with Myers in praising the beauty of the Ampulex Compressa as a result of evolution? Is the notion of beauty itself ever in flux given that it is also a product of evolution?

  104. 104

    Echidna.Levy,

    ——”It cuts to the heart of his argument. His “immaterial minds and immaterial wills” sound exactly like the classic description of ghosts to me and I want to understand where StephenB draws the line with is “immaterial minds”. If “immaterial minds” can only exist in a material brain (i.e. he does not believe in ghosts) then that’s some coincidence.”

    An immaterial mind doesn’t necessitate ghosts. And so what if he did believe in ghosts? Would that be absurd to you? I believe in ghosts, am I absurd? You would be begging the question if you said yes, for you reject them, and immaterial minds, philosophically, not empirically. And this is the crux of the question, and it simply will not due to say that you’ve come to the conclusion of the question at hand.

  105. 105

    Is the notion of beauty itself ever in flux given that it is also a product of evolution?

    It’s well known that what makes up “beauty” has changed over the years, in previous times a much fuller figure was considered beautiful. Perhaps because it indicated ample food for any children (stored fat).

    And yes, Ampulex Compressa is beautiful – an intricate dance of predator and prey in a battle that’s lasted perhaps hundreds of thousands if not millions of years. Whereas if you consider it as designed it takes on a rather different aspect.

    Clive, do you think Ampulex Compressa is beautiful or not?

  106. 106

    Clive,
    Before we get to “absurd or not” another question. Indulge me.

    Do you believe it’s possible to communicate with the dead? In any way whatsoever?

  107. 107

    Echidna.Levy

    ——”Clive,
    Before we get to “absurd or not” another question. Indulge me.

    Do you believe it’s possible to communicate with the dead? In any way whatsoever?”

    Nah, I’d rather you answer me before you lead me down this rabbit trail.

  108. 108

    ——”And yes, Ampulex Compressa is beautiful – an intricate dance of predator and prey in a battle that’s lasted perhaps hundreds of thousands if not millions of years. Whereas if you consider it as designed it takes on a rather different aspect.

    Clive, do you think Ampulex Compressa is beautiful or not?”

    Whatever man….intricate dance of labotomizing and being eaten alive. Of course I don’t think it’s beautiful.

  109. 109

    Levy,

    Such oblique questions.

    Here is one for you, would the existence of anything not explained by material acted upon by chance negate the ability of material and chance to explain everything?

  110. —-herb: “LOL—I’m glad I missed that youtube video. On the other hand, I think lots of things which are undesigned are beautiful—I do a little rockhounding and the plume agate, obsidian, etc that I find are very beautiful. Some of the amethyst crystals in my collection are spectacular. And of course, by no means do I worship these rocks!”

    Fair enough, but you can see the rocks and crytals. You don’t need to resort to worship to believe they are beautiful, because they are already beautiful to your senses. But PZ Myers and Abbie Smith stated that “evolution was beautiful,” even though it can neither be seen or, from their point of view, be designed. So, the perception of beauty can’t come from sensual appeal. Nor can it come from an appreciation of a non-material entity, since neither accept the reality of non-matter. From where, then, can their perception of beauty come except from the worship of an idea.

  111. StephenB,

    From where, then, can their perception of beauty come except from the worship of an idea.

    Thanks for the reply. That could be, but is worship necessarily involved? I can only refer to my experience—I was formerly an atheist/materialist, and I don’t feel my ability to appreciate the beauty in abstract ideas has been affected much by my conversion to Christianity.

  112. 112
    Cornelius Hunter

    iconofid (92):

    Correct, Cornelius, but Myers was talking about an all-powerful god who is pulling the strings of history in to our benefit, not an all powerful god who is doing nothing specific. The implied results (a perfect world for humans) are in the description of the god (all powerful string-puller for human benefit).

    It is not a religious opinion to point out the obvious problem with that particular god, which doesn’t fit observations if the world is not perfect for us. There’s little point in quoting from Myers if you don’t understand what he’s saying.

    To clarify with a more obvious example, if a theist were to propose the existence of an all powerful god who was pulling the strings of history in favour of the Dodo, someone describing the belief as ridiculous would not be expressing a religious opinion, but an observation based one.

    Got it?

    It is always preferable to use conventional English to communicate, but that obviously is not working. We’re going to have to switch over to logic. Nothing fancy, just premises and a conclusion. Here is Myers’ argument which entails a religious premise:

    Premise 1: god is a god that exists.
    Premise 2: god is a god that is all-powerful (throw in all-knowing and all-good if you like)
    Premise 3: god is a god that “pulls the strings and shapes history” for our benefit
    Conclusion: god is a god that would not likely create the universe that we observe

    Now, it is impossible, repeat impossible, to arrive at Myers’ conclusion from the stated premises. Break out your logic books, evaluate the argument, you cannot get to the conclusion from the premises.

    The conclusion necessarily entails additional non scientific premises. You can easily imagine what could work. For example, “The universe we observe is a universe that is not to our benefit” which is not a scientific premise. The evolutionary response is typically to scoff at such a caution because, after all, this premise is so obviously true. Wars, destruction, disease. Nature, as Hume put it, seems to have been designed to embitter the life of every living being.

    But of course all of this relies on non scientific premises about what benefits us, what doesn’t benefit us, and so forth. That is why it is a religious argument. It is not merely a hypothetical test. Evolutionists can throw sand in all directions, but it doesn’t alter the fact that they use religious arguments.

    The tragedy here is that these identical claims have been made over and over in the history of thought. Myers’ religion can be found in the 20th c, 19th c., 18th c., 17th c., 16th c., … We’ve been over this ground over and over. It’s fine to hold the view and make the argument, but let’s not fool ourselves that it is something new and not religious.

  113. —herb: “Thanks for the reply. That could be, but is worship necessarily involved?”

    Maybe not. I am just speculating—thinking out loud, as they say.

  114. I have read the links in 55. I can’t find anything evolution RELIES on that is religios in nature.

    I could find examples of people claiming that the world would look different if a deity created it, but since evolution doesn’t rely on this claim being true, it doesn’t answer my question.

    So, here is my question again: Can you please provide me with SPECIFIC examples of religios concepts that evolution relies on?

    Please don’t give me a link. Just give me a quick example. It should not be hard.

    Alternatively, you can explain why evolution relies on the claim that the world would look different if a deity created it. I am not aware of any part of the ToE that references this claim in any way. Sure, there are proponents of evolution who make this claim. Sure, it is debatable wether this claim is scientific or not. But it has no bearing on evolution at all.

    All that is needed for evolution to occur is imperfect replicators competing for resources. Both are observable, and non-religios.

  115. 115
    Cornelius Hunter

    BVZ (114):

    All that is needed for evolution to occur is imperfect replicators competing for resources. Both are observable, and non-religios.

    Yes. Evolution’s hypothetical mechanisms do not entail religious claims. The religious claims are entailed by the motivation and subsequent justification of the theory, and its epistemological claims (e.g., evolution is a fact). That should clear up 55 for you. The Sober paper should also help, or read here. As Sober discusses in his book, Evidence and Evolution, it’s all about contrastive reasoning. There’s no way to conclude evolution is a fact without it.

    Sure, there are proponents of evolution who make this claim. Sure, it is debatable wether this claim is scientific or not. But it has no bearing on evolution at all.

    It has tremendous bearing on evolution. We would not say evolution is a fact without it.

  116. Yes. Evolution’s hypothetical mechanisms do not entail religious claims.

    Well then there you go. If the mechanisms of evolution does not entail religios claims… then it is not religios.

    It really is that simple.

    It has tremendous bearing on evolution. We would not say evolution is a fact without it.

    What bearing does it have on evolution? Can you be more specific? How does the fact that people claim that the world would look differently if a creator existed change the fact that population change over time?

    If every religion suddenly disapeared from the face of the earth in the blick of an eye, do you seriously think that populations will STOP adapting to thier surroundings?

  117. 117
    William J. Murray

    Levy said: “Can you name two biological entities, one which was designed and one which was not and explain how you came to that determination?”

    You might read the faq. ID theory cannot make the claim that anything is not the product of ID, nor can it assert that something definitely is; it can only reach a conclusion that it is the best current explanation for a particular phenomena.

  118. 118
    William J. Murray

    Levy said: “For example, Atom made a claim recently that Nature and Science refuse papers submitted for publication simply on the basis that they support ID. When asked for some proof of that he simply ignored the question. You got a single example of a ID supporting paper that was rejected from such a journal soley on the grounds that it supported ID?”

    Your particular requested examples are unnecessary; the NAS has stated that ID is a non-scientific endeavor, and is a disguise for creationism. Mainstream science journals “refuse to publish” – as a matter of policy – articles and papers that are not scientific and/or are creationist in nature. Therefore, it is a matter of policy that such journals do not publish ID research.

    Do you believe that ID researchers should submit their work to journals that are operating under the policy guidelines that their work is not science in the first place?

    Levy said: “If not, why no ID positive research going on?”

    Read the faq. Such research is going on.

  119. The religious claim underlying Darwin’s theory is that there is no God. All of his arguments flow from this supposition. And if that’s not religious, then what is it?

  120. Cornelius Hunter:

    Yes. Evolution’s hypothetical mechanisms do not entail religious claims. The religious claims are entailed by the motivation and subsequent justification of the theory, and its epistemological claims (e.g., evolution is a fact). That should clear up 55 for you. The Sober paper should also help, or read here. As Sober discusses in his book, Evidence and Evolution, it’s all about contrastive reasoning. There’s no way to conclude evolution is a fact without it.

    Let me se if I can get this straight.

    Is the argument that Evolution is on a par with creationism? Unless I’ve missed something, the ID position is that ID creationism is a fact.

    I can only say I find changing the statement to

    “The religious claims are entailed by the motivation and subsequent justification of the theory, and its epistemological claims (e.g., ID is a fact)”

    makes it more true.

    What is the purpose of making an issue of whether Evolution is religious or not? If the “motivation, justification of theory and epistemological claims“ make Evolution non-scientific, surely the same must be true for ID as well?

    I am afraid the entire exercise only serves to confirm the common belief that religions depend on faith and beliefs that may not necessarily be true.

  121. allanius (119),

    “The religious claim underlying Darwin’s theory is that there is no God. All of his arguments flow from this supposition. And if that’s not religious, then what is it?”

    Nonsense. There is no religious claim underlying evolution. The basis of the theory is descent with modification acted on by natural selection. One could claim that it’s God that does the modifications and/or the selection -it wouldn’t be science, but you could claim it. And that is why all this talk of evolution involving religion is garbage – it is entirely silent on the matter.

  122. 122

    Dr. Hunter @112,
    You’ve described atheist reasonings which are often mixed with explanations of evolution. It’s regrettable that they may do so freely while ID must take greater care to separate its science from the religion of its scientists. Materialism isn’t fighting an uphill battle, and they have that luxury.
    When pressed, however, I think that most Darwinists could formulate their so-called evidence without an appeal to opinions about God. Such statements are typically strawman arguments to contrast Darwinism with the supposed simple-mindedness of belief in God.

  123. allanius:
    “The religious claim underlying Darwin’s theory is that there is no God. All of his arguments flow from this supposition. And if that’s not religious, then what is it?”

    Darwin makes no such claim, neither does the modern evolutionary synthesis. It is a myth dreamt up by religious fanatics to try and persuade people that evolution is ‘anti god’.

    The only thing that Evolution undermines are a subset of creation stories, just as geology or cosmology undermine YEC’ism.

    You are confusing the people who use scientific theories to support their beliefs (like Dawkins) with the theories themselves.

    Evolution is neutral on the topic of gods existence.

  124. ScottAndrews:
    “When pressed, however, I think that most Darwinists could formulate their so-called evidence without an appeal to opinions about God.”

    the MET is formulated without reference or appeals to god in any form, just like any other modern scientific theory. I think most ‘evolutionists’ only bring up god when debating with creationists or ID’rs.

  125. 125

    Excession @123:
    Yes, that’s roughly what I’m saying.

  126. 126
    William J. Murray

    I think the more subtle picture is being missed; forming a theory to account for a phenomena “as if a god does not exist” is in itself a theistic position; the hypothesis must accommodate that metaphysical position, which is why the the heuristic “it appears to be designed”, and any hypothesis derived from that heuristic is regarded as non-scientific.

    IOW, if one was free to implicate design in any accounting of how a giraffe’s neck became so long, then one is free to use that heuristic in their epxlanation or research protocol. I.E. “Okay, if one is designing an elongated neck for a purpose, what else must be simultaneously designed, and what is the cost/benefit rations apparent in the design? If such a thing is being designed, there must be a reason why it is being designed at that time; can we find any environmental challenges or needs that would facilitate the need for such a design?

    What would be the most efficient mechanism for achieving this design? What kind of pre-existing tools or devices, structures or materials exist to facilitate the design’s implementation? What kind of check and safety mechanisms are used? Etc.

    As long as one is formulating their theory/heuristic to accomodate the metaphysical guideline “as if no god exists”, it is a religious method.

  127. 127
    William J. Murray

    If evolutionary theory was not religious, then scientists would be free to utilize the design framework from which to conduct their research and explanations.

  128. “forming a theory to account for a phenomena “as if a god does not exist” is in itself a theistic position;”

    And surely so is forming a theory to account for a phenomena as if a god does exist.

    Your picture isn’t subtle, it is fairly crude. In reality scientific theories are formulated “As if god doesn’t interfere” because if we assume god is always interfering then it gets very hard to do science. – ‘Did I just get a confirmation of X or is god pulling my chain?’

  129. Cornelius Hunter says:

    “It is always preferable to use conventional English to communicate, but that obviously is not working. We’re going to have to switch over to logic. Nothing fancy, just premises and a conclusion. Here is Myers’ argument which entails a religious premise:

    Premise 1: god is a god that exists.
    Premise 2: god is a god that is all-powerful (throw in all-knowing and all-good if you like)
    Premise 3: god is a god that “pulls the strings and shapes history” for our benefit
    Conclusion: god is a god that would not likely create the universe that we observe

    Now, it is impossible, repeat impossible, to arrive at Myers’ conclusion from the stated premises. Break out your logic books, evaluate the argument, you cannot get to the conclusion from the premises.”

    Myer’s is not claiming to come to any conclusion from any premises, but from observation (which is certainly scientific and which you mention in your “conclusion”) in relation to that particular proposed god (which is not his proposal).

    For example, observation of the universe would tell you that just one large asteroid occupies a greater area of space-time than we humans, but would we seriously consider the proposition that the entire universe was created for the benefit of asteroid B1348?

    Then, even when we look at the tiny dot of space-time that we occupy, and at the life system we are part of, we see that most of its history and biomass consists of micro-organisms, and there would certainly be no reason to come up with the idea that Dodos or Apes were the objective of such a system.

    Then, by any normal understanding of beneficial, in English (which you mention above) disease is not beneficial to us, and detrimental mutations, by definition, are the opposite of beneficial, and would be optional for an omnipotent god who can, by definition, pull the strings of history whichever way he wants.

    The conclusion necessarily entails additional non scientific premises. You can easily imagine what could work. For example, “The universe we observe is a universe that is not to our benefit” which is not a scientific premise. The evolutionary response is typically to scoff at such a caution because, after all, this premise is so obviously true. Wars, destruction, disease. Nature, as Hume put it, seems to have been designed to embitter the life of every living being.

    “The universe that we observe does not appear to be created for us any more than for anything else that exists in it, and cannot be described as perfectly beneficial to us” is a scientific observation. It comes from observation, not philosophy, and certainly not theology. The “perfectly” is there because of omnipotent benevolence in the described god.

    It does not require religious belief to make an observation about a religious belief (try it with Scientology!).

    But of course all of this relies on non scientific premises about what benefits us, what doesn’t benefit us, and so forth. That is why it is a religious argument.

    It is a scientific observation that distant galaxies do not seem to be constructed for our benefit. As to whether or not cancer and leprosy are to our benefit, we just need to go with the understood definition of the word.

    It is not merely a hypothetical test. Evolutionists can throw sand in all directions, but it doesn’t alter the fact that they use religious arguments.

    Saying “evolutionists use religious arguments” is meaningless in this discussion. Do you mean all of them? Of course a religious evolutionist might make a religious argument for or against something. Theologian John Polkinghorne makes a religious argument about evolution, claiming it is his god’s way of giving us free will. But you seem to be implying that the statement “biological evolution is a fact” requires religious arguments, and also, you seem to make another (very different) claim, that the theory of evolution depends on religious arguments.

    For the first claim, look up definitions of biological evolution, and you’ll see that you’re obviously wrong.

    For the second claim, I’d like to hear just one religious argument that all evolutionists make and that the ToE depends on.

    The tragedy here is that these identical claims have been made over and over in the history of thought. Myers’ religion can be found in the 20th c, 19th c., 18th c., 17th c., 16th c., … We’ve been over this ground over and over. It’s fine to hold the view and make the argument, but let’s not fool ourselves that it is something new and not religious.

    Of course those obvious arguments are not new, and of course they have been made for centuries, both by theists debating the role of their god, and by non-theists.

    Neither evolution (the fact), nor evolutionary theory require them, and even when they are made, religious belief is not required to make them.

    We see “god” arguments so much in relation to biology because we come from a traditionally creationist culture which is shifting (painfully!) to a more naturalistic view. Also, because no-one has come up with a strong naturalistic alternative explanation for the origin of species other than some form of evolution, so the traditional argument from design is the only thing to compare it to, which is why people from Darwin to Dawkins have done this sometimes when explaining their ideas.

  130. 130
    Cornelius Hunter

    BVZ

    the fact that population change over time?

    The claim that evolution is a fact entails more than merely “change over time.” It entails all the species arising from blind, natural processes, a claim that is not motivated by the scientific evidence alone.

  131. 131
    William J. Murray

    Excession,

    No, it doesn’t get hard to do science from a “god exists” perspective, because your example is a straw man. While one must conduct science as if god isn’t actively interfering in the process, they don’t have to conduct science as if no god exists.

    One could similarly appeal to chance as an explanation for any test results they didn’t like or couldn’t explain.

  132. William J. Murray:

    “If evolutionary theory was not religious, then scientists would be free to utilize the design framework from which to conduct their research and explanations.”

    Are you implying that religion automatically entails restrictions on freedom? :)

  133. “While one must conduct science as if god isn’t actively interfering in the process, they don’t have to conduct science as if no god exists.”

    Which is exactly what I just said:

    “In reality scientific theories are formulated “As if god doesn’t interfere” …”

    Proceeding on the assumption that god doesn’t interfere renders the question of whether god exists redundant as far as science goes because if god doesn’t interfere then it should make no difference to an observation or experiment.

    “One could similarly appeal to chance as an explanation for any test results they didn’t like or couldn’t explain.”

    This is why scientists prefer multiple sources of confirmation for hypotheses – because it helps to exclude errors. In more general terms if you want to appeal to ‘chance’ then scientifically you need to appeal to a known mechanism for generating ‘chance’, otherwise your source of chance is indistinguishable from an interfering deity.

  134. Onlookers,

    You even see these religious statements from the larger secular culture, apart from evolutionist scientists. An example would be those “Darwin fish”, which are of course a crude parody of an authentic Christian symbol. I guess there is some room for interpretation here, but I would conclude that atheism is therefore a religious view.

  135. 135
    William J. Murray

    Excession said: “Proceeding on the assumption that god doesn’t interfere renders the question of whether god exists redundant as far as science goes because if god doesn’t interfere then it should make no difference to an observation or experiment.”

    Not true. If there is evidence of design, that perspective can guide one’s methodology. That would be a big difference.

  136. 136

    Clive

    I believe in ghosts, am I absurd?

    It depends. Many people believe many things, not all of which can be proven.

    Simply believing in ghosts does not automatically make you “absurd”.

    What you do with that belief, maybe.

    For instance, do you believe that children should be taught that ghosts exist? That then would make you “absurd” in my mind.

    Now, given that you believe in ghosts and I have answered your question do you believe that the dead can be contacted? In a similar vein, what are ghosts? Dead people? Something else?

  137. 137

    William

    Do you believe that ID researchers should submit their work to journals that are operating under the policy guidelines that their work is not science in the first place?

    Yes.

    If the rejection letter consists of “your work is not science” rather then actual reasons why the work has been rejected then I think everybody, Darwinist or ID supporter would agree that that would be unfair. And there are many respected journals, they don’t all share the same “policy guidelines” that you seem to think somehow apply across the board.

    If an ID supporter never submits their work to such a journal then it will never appear. That’s a fact.

    Can you give me a single example of such a rejection? A rejection not on the basis of the content of the paper, but simply because it supported ID?

    A single one?

  138. 138

    Levy, as long as you are back. Please coinsider answering the question I posed to you earlier. Thanks.

    Would the existence of anything not explained by material acted upon by chance negate the ability of material and chance to explain everything?

  139. 139

    Upright Biped

    Here is one for you, would the existence of anything not explained by material acted upon by chance negate the ability of material and chance to explain everything?

    Evolution is not “chance”. There is a random component, of course. But the clue is “selection”. It’s not selection by chance, it’s selection by success.

    Nobody thinks that “chance and material explain everything”, that’s the strawman you’ve built simply to knock down with your absurd probability 747 calculations.

  140. 140

    William

    You might read the faq. ID theory cannot make the claim that anything is not the product of ID, nor can it assert that something definitely is; it can only reach a conclusion that it is the best current explanation for a particular phenomena.

    I’ll take that as a “no” then, that you can’t give me an example of something biological that is designed and something that is not and explain how you came to that determination.

    We have moved to “phenomena” now have we? Are flagellum phenomena? Does ID not note that it was designed then?

  141. 141

    William

    If evolutionary theory was not religious, then scientists would be free to utilize the design framework from which to conduct their research and explanations.

    Who’s stopping them? Do you think there is an army of people watching every scientist in the world making sure they follow the “rules”? There are plenty of countries around the world that don’t have secular goverments. Another strawman.

  142. 142

    William

    Not true. If there is evidence of design, that perspective can guide one’s methodology. That would be a big difference.

    Yet you cannot give me an example of a designed biological entity and an example of one that is not.

    And in any case, can you give a specific example of how assuming design would guide research?

  143. 143

    Echidna.Levy,

    ——”For instance, do you believe that children should be taught that ghosts exist? That then would make you “absurd” in my mind.”

    The don’t, but don’t presume to tell me how to raise my own children. That would be absurd.

  144. “Yet you cannot give me an example of a designed biological entity and an example of one that is not. ”

    Designed – the cell

    not designed – color of polar bear fur

    “And in any case, can you give a specific example of how assuming design would guide research?”

    Not appropriate – You do not assume design, you conclude it. Design remain a possible conclusion of certain research studies but not others. For example, if I was doing research on microbe changes over time relevant to certain disease, I would not conclude design had any element in it unless there was some unknown element I am not aware of. But if I was doing research on aves genomic structure, I might conclude that certain elements may have been designed while others were not. Notice I said “might” and there may not be any conclusion about design at all. But the possibility remains.

    ID embraces all naturalistic explanations but adds a potential layer on top of these explanations when the situation calls for it. It expands on not ID science, not restricts it.

  145. 145

    Clive,

    Let me put it another way, would you vote for a goverment who indicated that teaching children that ghosts exist would be taught in school?

    I have answered your question, and you agreed that you would answer my next question if I did so.

    Do you believe the dead can be communicated with?

  146. 146

    Jerry

    not designed – color of polar bear fur

    A question then.

    Fur is made of keratins. Keratins are proteins, i.e., polymers of amino acids.

    I understand from reading comments on this site that useful proteins are not obtainable via chance mechanisms (i.e. they have to be designed due to the large configuration space of proteins).

    So how then are the specific properties of polar bear fur not designed?

  147. 147

    Levi “

    Webster-
    Materialsim: a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter

    Encarta-
    Materialism: in philosophy, doctrine that all existence is resolvable into matter or into an attribute or effect of matter. According to this doctrine, matter is the ultimate reality, and the phenomenon of consciousness is explained by physiochemical changes in the nervous system.

    Wiki-
    The philosophy of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter, and is considered a form of physicalism. Fundamentally, all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions

    Columbia-
    Materialism: The theory that physical matter is the only reality and that everything, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena.

    Nobel Laureate
    Biologist Jaques Monod-
    “We say that these events are accidental, due to chance. And since they constitute the only possible source of modifications in the genetic text, itself the sole repository of the organism’s hereditary structures, it necessarily follows that chance alone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution: this central concept of modern biology is no longer one among other possible or even conceivable hypotheses. It is today the sole conceivable hypothesis, the only one compatible with observed and tested fact. And nothing warrants the supposition (or the hope) that conceptions about this should, or ever could, be revised.”

    – - – - – - –

    Your comments in #139 are demonstrably wrong, but it was a valiant effort. Materialism is not my “strawman”, it is the very center of your position. There should be no reason for you to run from its implications if it is true, nor should you be able to label it as an opponent’s strawman in order to shield it from scrutiny.

    Now I ask again: Would the existence of anything not explained by material acted upon by chance negate the ability of material and chance to explain everything?

  148. 148

    Upright,
    Ask your question in a different form. Give an example if possible.

    Your comments in #139 are demonstrably wrong,

    Then demonstrate that they are wrong rather then just stating such. Or is your copy and paste that in your mind?

    But as far as your question goes, as I understand it, the answer is “no”. No because the existence of anything not currently explanable by “chance” (as you use it) would not cause me to think “oh, thing X (or it’s origin) is not well understood therefore the designer did it”.

    Look around you! Science is very young. We did not even know that DNA existed 100 years ago. So what if some things are unexplained. You’ve had thousands of years of opportunity for your religion to explain the world, and look how that worked out!

  149. 149

    Echidna.Levy,

    ——”Let me put it another way, would you vote for a goverment who indicated that teaching children that ghosts exist would be taught in school?”

    No I would not, for spiritual matters, and education in general, is the job of the parents, not the schools.

    And yes, ghosts can be communicated with, I am communicating with one right now who happens to be a spirit living inside a body whom I call Echidna.Levy. And when you die you’ll “give up the ghost” as scripture says.

  150. “So how then are the specific properties of polar bear fur not designed?”

    It could be that the original gene was part of a design but the specific allele does not have to be. One of the concepts that is completely consistent with ID is that mutations, recombination, natural selection, genomic variability and genomic resistance to change (no they are not contradictory) are all good design that allows genomes to adapt to new environments while not allowing the genome to wander too far from what was originally there.

    There is an example in Behe’s book of the fish that developed a mutation to a gene that enabled its blood to have an anti freeze component and allow it to inhabit sub freezing temperatures of the South Atlantic (salt water can be colder than fresh water.)

    The question is the origination of new proteins and ID says it is very rare but not impossible. The reason ID says it is very rare is first, the lack of many examples and second the inability of normal mutation procedures to effectively explore protein space for possible new functional proteins. ID says most of it is useless and any random process that creates variations of a gene is essentially exploring for a new protein island.

    Some here have disputed that and that is one of the questions as far as I am concerned that is uncertain. ID says these protein islands are rare and others say they are not. There will be a lot of research in the next 30 years that will explore this in detail and maybe find a lack of them or a plethora of them.

  151. 151

    Jerry

    It could be

    Many things could be. It’s what is supported by evidence that matters.

    I asked for an example of something biological that was not designed. You now say that the design included the ability to “wander” to find local optimums.

    Therefore the colour of polar bear fur is designed – it comes about because of a designed mechanism.

    So, can you try again to give me an example of a biological entity that is not designed?

  152. 152

    Clive

    I am communicating with one right now who happens to be a spirit living inside a body whom I call Echidna.Levy.

    Here you seem to be saying that these immaterial entities are in fact what most people would call a “soul” and that you in fact are now distancing yourself from your original statment of believing that “stand alone” ghosts exist.

    Don’t you find it odd that these “spirits” can only exist inside physical bodies and once those bodies die these “spirits” are nowhere to be seen?

    Occams razor suggests that they don’t exist. After all, it’s not like you have any evidence for them (or do you?)

    So, perhaps we should concentrate on my follow up question then.

    Can the dead be comminucated with?

  153. 153

    Levy,

    “Ask your question in a different form.”

    I clearly take your response to mean that you wish to not answer the question. Given the direct simplicity of the question, it would be hard to perceive it any other way.

    “Then demonstrate that they are wrong rather then just stating such.”

    That is certainly not hard to do – which I did.

    “But as far as your question goes, as I understand it, the answer is “no”. No because the existence of anything not currently explanable by “chance” (as you use it) would not cause me to think “oh, thing X (or it’s origin) is not well understood therefore the designer did it”.”

    This is pure obfuscation in place of a direct answer to a direct question.

    “So what if some things are unexplained.”

    The question at hand does not emanate from our ignorance, but from what we empirically and rationally know. To the contrary, the more we find, the more pressing the question becomes.

    “You’ve had thousands of years of opportunity for your religion to explain the world, and look how that worked out!”

    The question you have repeatedly evaded did not ask your opinion of religion.

    If that was my concern, I would start posting the bios of religious scientists throughout the past 200-300 years who contributed to your ability to sit at a computer in the lap of comparative luxury and spit in their faces.

    I simply asked you if the existence of anything not explained by material acted upon by chance would negate the ability of material and chance to explain everything?

    It seems you have answered my question after all. Ciao

  154. 154

    Upright

    I clearly take your response to mean that you wish to not answer the question. Given the direct simplicity of the question, it would be hard to perceive it any other way.

    Your question was stated in a unclear manner, too many negatives to sort through. Claim victory if you wish because of that.

    That is certainly not hard to do – which I did.

    No, you did not.

    This is pure obfuscation in place of a direct answer to a direct question.

    What part of “no” is difficult for you to understand?

    To the contrary, the more we find, the more pressing the question becomes.

    Publish or perish.

    I would start posting the bios of religious scientists throughout the past 200-300 years who contributed to your ability to sit at a computer in the lap of comparative luxury and spit in their faces.

    You can have religious scientists, you can have spagetti monster scientists. Yet once you mix religion and science they stop being scientists. Yes, you can name plenty of religious scientists but you cannot give a single example of “science” that includes god in the answer to a question.

    Newton was a believer yet god is not part of his laws of motion. He may have been inspired by his belief, but it did not intrude into his scientific work.

    Prove me wrong. A single example will do.

    I simply asked you if the existence of anything not explained by material acted upon by chance would negate the ability of material and chance to explain everything?

    Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

  155. 155

    Echidna,

    You should use Occam’s razor on yourself if you really want to know if ghosts exist. Just kidding, don’t do that. Yes, some dead, but not all, can be communicated with, but we are not supposed to do that. This question has been answered for me since I was a kid. My grandparent’s house was haunted, and my whole family, including cousins, including myself, had encounters with this ghost. Including actually seeing it. Unless we grant perpetual hallucinations of entire groups of people all seeing the same thing, Occam’s razor dictates that the simplest explanation was that a ghost was what they indeed saw. If you deny this, that’s your business, but you do so to a prior commitment to materialism, and actual observation doesn’t much matter to you if observation competes with your world view. If you are not an embodied spirit, then there is no “you” to begin with.

  156. 156

    Clive

    If you are not an embodied spirit, then there is no “you” to begin with.

    Why?

  157. 157

    Echidna.Levy,

    Because you’ve reduced yourself to being just as vacuous as the trees. I refer you to this essay,

    http://scientificintegrity.blo.....verse.html

  158. 158

    Clive

    Unless we grant perpetual hallucinations of entire groups of people all seeing the same thing, Occam’s razor dictates that the simplest explanation was that a ghost was what they indeed saw

    Then presumably you believe in witchdoctors and penis theft?

    KINSHASA – Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men’s penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

    Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

    Rumors of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo’s sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

    Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

    “You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We’ve had a number of attempted lynchings. … You see them covered in marks after being beaten,” Kinshasa’s police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.

    Police arrested the accused sorcerers and their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs. The 27 men have since been released.

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/04.....107774.htm
    ? Under you scheme it must be real!

  159. 159

    Echidna.Levy,

    ——”Then presumably you believe in witchdoctors and penis theft?”

    Why would you presume that nonsense? Really, I really want to know why you would.

  160. 160

    Clive

    you’ve reduced yourself to being just as vacuous as the trees.

    From you I take that as a compliment of the highest order.

    What is it you want me to take from that essay?

    There is some truth in it however

    . We must go back and begin over again: this time with a better chance of success

    This has happened. Theism dominated the world since recorded history began. We are overthrowing it and beginning again, this time with a much better chance of success. Your side had thousands of years to prove it’s case. Move over. Your time is passing.

  161. 161

    Echidna,

    ——”This has happened. Theism dominated the world since recorded history began. We are overthrowing it and beginning again, this time with a much better chance of success. Your side had thousands of years to prove it’s case. Move over. Your time is passing.”

    This tells me that you didn’t really take anything from that essay. Your materialism will reduce yourself to nothing, and this is throwing the baby out with the bathwater, it is an error, and an error that you don’t seem to get.

  162. 162

    Clive

    Why would you presume that nonsense? Really, I really want to know why you would.

    A simple case of logic.

    You believe ghosts exist because

    A) you have seen them
    B) other people around you have seen them

    People believe that penis theft happens because

    A)They have had their penis stolen
    B) other people around them have had their peni stolen.

    Why are the two things different please?

    As you said

    Occam’s razor dictates that the simplest explanation was that the men indeed had their penis stolen as that was what they indeed saw. If you deny this, that’s your business, but you do so to a prior commitment to materialism, and actual observation doesn’t much matter to you if observation competes with your world view.

  163. 163

    Clive,

    Your materialism will reduce yourself to nothing

    Not at all. The diffence is that I won’t put any effort into paving the way for my “afterlife”, I’ll put my effort into leaving a legacy in this world.

    Are you more worried about your afterlife then your actual life? What if you are wrong about it? Then what will your legacy be?

  164. 164

    Echidna,

    Your analogy is an attack on Occam’s razor, not on me.

  165. 165

    Echidna,

    I’m not interested in a legacy. A legacy is for people who want their name in lights. That’s a poor reason for doing anything, for it makes the legacy the goal, and whatever you pour yourself into the means, which is doing something not for the sake of the thing itself, but for a different reason, that makes the doing insincere. You should put first things first, and do something for its own sake, and if a legacy comes out of it, wonderful, but if you make legacy your goal, the means will always be secondary, and therefore busy work towards a different end or goal.

    “Aim for heaven and you will get earth thrown in.
    Aim at earth and you will get neither. ”
    — C.S. Lewis

  166. 166

    Clive,
    How are the two situations different then?

    It is your opinion that “unless we grant perpetual hallucinations of entire groups of people all seeing the same thing, Occam’s razor dictates that the simplest explanation was that a ghost was what they indeed saw.”

    I gave an example of entire groups of people all seeing the same thing, just as you did. Yet you deny one example and not the other without saying why they are different. As you say, the simplest explanation was simply that what the people saw was real. I’m just using your logic, as stated by you.

  167. 167

    Clive

    I’m not interested in a legacy. A legacy is for people who want their name in lights. That’s a poor reason for doing anything.

    Who said anything about names in lights? Does “legacy” to you mean “fame and fortune?”

    What is *your* reason for doing anything then? Why bother doing anything at all when the infinte afterlife awaits?

  168. 168

    Echidna,

    Because some supernatural things may be admitted, doesn’t mean that it all is. There is this nifty thing called discernment. I know that to you it’s all ruled out, so you cannot see the difference, and therefore all is the same, or else you wouldn’t have brought up such a ridiculous example. Witchcraft is not the same as seeing ghosts. I can’t really believe I have to explain that. Your sense of discernment is entirely nonexistent because to you there is no supernatural. So you lump everything together. But as soon as you can explain existence itself, and all of the mysteries of the universe, in other words, once our knowledge of nature is complete without remainder, then I will have an example to compare with regard to the supernatural. But, since you cannot, I have no reason to consider the supernatural any more strange than the natural, given that we do not know the fundamentals of either, and therefore cannot make a comparison. This sobering bit of wisdom should be perpetually kept in mind by you.

  169. 169

    Echidna,

    ——”Why bother doing anything at all when the infinte afterlife awaits?”

    We’re already in an infinite life, death is just a change of perspective.

  170. 170

    I have to say, I’m a little disappointed that you believe in ghosts, Clive. Echidna has pointed out that other incredible ideas are also believed, with just as much empirical evidence, yet you simply choose to prefer one supernatural story over another.

    Do the current house owners still see the ghost? Do you still see ghosts? Do your cousins still think they saw a real ghost as children?

    Honestly, if you and your cousins had gotten together to fight the ghost, you might well have forced it to say “I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids.” (Explanatory link for the non-American audience.)

  171. “Therefore the colour of polar bear fur is designed – it comes about because of a designed mechanism.

    So, can you try again to give me an example of a biological entity that is not designed?”

    My guess is that you do not understand all the issues or else you would not make the comments you do. I didn’t try, I gave you an entity that was not designed.

    If a system is designed based on initial conditions and boundary conditions and then let to play out, is every event in this playing out a designed event. I guess you might say that but the specific events could be the result of random conditions that are not predicted or even expected so the individual events are unknown ahead of time. Are these events designed? Most would say no but if you wish to think so then there is nothing we can do with the question.

    If an intelligence of immense proportions designed our universe and the laws under which it operates and then walked away, are all the events that subsequently happen, designed or not designed? If life arose as a result of this design, was this a designed outcome or an undesigned outcome.

    So again, the fur of a polar bear is an undesigned event within a designed frame work. Capice?

  172. Echidna

    “Unless we grant perpetual hallucinations of entire groups of people all seeing the same thing, Occam’s razor dictates that the simplest explanation was that a ghost was what they indeed saw.”

    The key word here is perpetual (this makes its not all inclusive).

    You twisted this to mean we MUST ALWAYS believe all mass sightings. Clive never says this. The implied context is ghost sightings which are very common compared to the penis stealing. This will make it clear:

    Suppose around the entire world for centuries, penis stealing was reported. In every culture every day, all on the same magnitude as ghost sightings. Also this persisted in the US despite science’s efforts to stop it. THIS is the context which he was talking about. The only context was ghost sightings.

  173. 173

    Perhaps we can develop a science of ghost detection.

  174. David is this sarcasm or an olive branch or you never had such a narrow paradigm as I thought, which one?

  175. 175

    lamarck, sarcasm, I suppose. I don’t believe in ghosts; sorry if that seems narrow. :-(

  176. BVZ, yes it is easy, like you said.

    An a priori commitment to the irrational idea of spontaneity as responsible for molecular development of organisms is a religious idea since spontaneity is not an empirical observation but an appeal to ignorance.

    Given enough time, science will confirm what theologians have claimed for centuries; that the forces of Nature are embedded with the Word (information) and the embedding of the Word is what animates matter/energy.

    That was the reason Christ chastised Thomas. He revealed that He was the Word, but Thomas as the embodiment of the skeptical scientist, just had to touch Christ’s wounds to believe that He as the Eternal Word, had the power of Ressurrection within Himself.

    Well, guess you’ll have to wait in the airport lounge for a couple of thousand years (if Man makes it that far) waiting for confirmation that the airplane’s safe to board.

    P.S. there’s a limited supply of beer at the bar, so think hard about your need for confirmation.

    So, here is my question again: Can you please provide me with SPECIFIC examples of religios concepts that evolution relies on?

    Please don’t give me a link. Just give me a quick example. It should not be hard.

  177. Mr. Kellogg,

    Why wait for thousands of years for science to invent a machine that can detect what our minds can detect now?

    See 176.

  178. 178

    David Kellogg,

    I’m disappointed that you’re a closed minded materialist who doesn’t even believe in his own soul.

  179. 179

    David Kellogg,

    And it was my dad’s cousins, who were all adults, including my grandparents, my dad himself, my mom, my brother, and my uncle. Over and over. If this disappoints you, I’m sorry, the truth is difficult when you’re fettered to materialist chains.

  180. 180

    David Kellogg,

    It is narrow, it is so narrow, that you dismiss your own soul my friend. That’s about as narrow as it gets, when a person denies the existence of their very self.
    I’m sorry that your materialist cosmos is not a large as my grandparent’s living room.

  181. 181

    Oramus:

    An a priori commitment to the irrational idea of spontaneity as responsible for molecular development of organisms is a religious idea since spontaneity is not an empirical observation but an appeal to ignorance.

    So the defining characteristic of religious ideas is that they are appeals to ignorance? That sounds like an own goal, Oramus.

  182. Clive Hayden @ 155

    Occam’s razor dictates that the simplest explanation was that a ghost was what they indeed saw. If you deny this, that’s your business, but you do so to a prior commitment to materialism, and actual observation doesn’t much matter to you if observation competes with your world view. If you are not an embodied spirit, then there is no “you” to begin with.

    One version of Occam’s Razor is entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem which is roughly translated as “entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity”. There are others but all make the same recommendation. In other words, when explaining something, base it on what is known, at least to begin with. Only introduce something as yet unknown when you have exhausted all known causes.

    In the case of ghosts, we have evidence that the human visual system is prone to malfunctions like hallucinations but none that such things exist outside human imagination. That means that they don’t make the cut as a scientific explanation for now.

  183. 183
    William J. Murray

    Seversky said:

    “In the case of ghosts, we have evidence that the human visual system is prone to malfunctions like hallucinations but none that such things exist outside human imagination. That means that they don’t make the cut as a scientific explanation for now.”

    Please support your assertion that we have no evidence that such things exist outside of human imagination.

  184. 184
    William J. Murray

    Levy, in #137 said:

    “Can you give me a single example of such a rejection? A rejection not on the basis of the content of the paper, but simply because it supported ID?

    A single one?”

    How would you define or discern the difference between being rejected because of content, and being rejected “simply because it supported ID”, when ID implication as content is considered a flawed scientific argument?

    If the reviewer that advocated rejection of the submission made a lengthy argument against the whole idea of “intelligent design” as a meaningful claim or scientific philosophy, and the editor stated that the content was controversial and unorthodox in his rejection, and that it would displace material that extended the current paradigm .. would that count?

    http://www.trueorigin.org/behe07.asp

  185. 185
    William J. Murray

    Levy,

    Example of biological phenomena best explained by ID: the successful, physical organism-generating digital code contained in DNA. The eye. winged flight.

    Example of biological phenomena best explained by law & chance: genetic entropy. The color one’s eyes. The specific patterns or markings on an individual bird.

    Design is claimed to work with, or through, natural laws and processes to achieve specific goals. In that process, law & chance can generate many unforseen, additional, and specific phenomena.

  186. Willam J Murray @ 183

    Please support your assertion that we have no evidence that such things exist outside of human imagination.

    The evidence for my claim that ghosts have no existence outside human imagination lies in the lack of evidence for ghosts existing outside human imagination. Please feel free to to refute that claim by providing compelling evidence for ghosts existing outside human imagination, unless that is too inconvenient, of course.

  187. Willam J Murray @ 183

    Example of biological phenomena best explained by ID: the successful, physical organism-generating digital code contained in DNA. The eye. winged flight.

    Best by what measure?

    The human visual system undoubtedly provides us with an excellent image of the world around us but, in some ways, that is in spite of, rather than because of, the “design’ of the human eye which is far from perfect.

  188. 188
    William J. Murray

    Seversky,

    Your argument about the “perfection” of the design of the eye is a theistic argument, not a scientific one.

    Design is the better explanation of the two, because (1) natural law and chance have not provided a sufficient explanation for the development of the eye, and (2) design does, and (3) we have examples of design generating similar such structures (regardless of how “perfect” they are) in human-designed and engineered mechanisms.

    So, we have one theory which offers no significant explanation via a process known to construct such a feature (natural law and chance), and for which evidence contraindicates the potential of the theorized process to produce such a feature, and another theory that offers a process that is known to construct such a feature.

    The theory that utilizes the process known to produce similar features – design – is thus the better explanation.

  189. 189
    William J. Murray

    Seversky says in 186:

    “The evidence for my claim that ghosts have no existence outside human imagination lies in the lack of evidence for ghosts existing outside human imagination. Please feel free to to refute that claim by providing compelling evidence for ghosts existing outside human imagination, unless that is too inconvenient, of course.”

    That’s not what I asked you to support. I asked you to support the claim that there is no such evidence. You made the assertion; you can either support it, or you cannot.

    Second, a positive claim of fact based on a lack of evidence to the contrary is a classic argument from ignorance. Lack of evidence of a thing is not evidence the thing doesn’t exist. So, not only have you not supported your assertion that no such evidence exists, even if you could support it, you would be committing a logical fallacy in claiming such a lack of evidence supported your assertion that ghosts do not exist.

    Third, asking me for evidence that ghosts exist is “shifting the burden”; you are the one making assertions; back them up if you can.

  190. Seversky, Evolution can’t explain the human eye or even the single celled euglena’s eye.

  191. 191

    William,

    It’s a classic example of a supposed refutation based on a belief in scientism. The method of scientism cannot even bring about belief in scientism, so….some things aren’t hard to calculate, it’s an absurd system. And secondly, we believe in the testimony of our loved ones, of the news, of our teachers, doctors, etc. without subjecting them to the lab and gathering evidence and controlled vs. uncontrolled experiments etc. But, when something comes along that clashes with their precious scientism and materialism, they’ll reject it out of hand, claiming scientific grounds as their reason for rejecting it (which they say science cannot even study), when it is actually a philosophical rejection masquerading as a scientific position.

  192. Clive:

    Including actually seeing it. … If you deny this, that’s your business, but you do so to a prior commitment to materialism, and actual observation doesn’t much matter to you if observation competes with your world view.

    I don’t understand the distinction between material and immaterial, but I would think that something that emits or reflects photons would be considered material.

  193. 193

    R0b
    Indeed. There are also many claimed photographs of ghosts. Why have people come to the conclusion that they are immaterial? They can see (I suppose), be seen and even make sounds (clanking chains come to mind). What connection to the non-material realm do they have exactly?

    Why are they being talked about as non-material entities? Just because they can walk through walls? As walls are mostly empty space, it’s not inconceivable that an advanced technology could enable that. Perhaps ghosts are the aliens we’ve been searching for with S.E.T.I?

  194. 194

    Levy,

    Well…you get points for effort in trying salvage your ideology, even if you loose points for style. When asked a simple up/down question which would confirm whether or not you approach the issues with obvious rationale, you run around in circles a bit, then close your comments with the following statement:

    Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

    This comment is supposed to infer that I have asked you an unjustifiable “gotcha” question. Unjustifiable “gotcha” questions are those that when merely uttered, the respondent is to become so tainted by the question that the answer hardly matters. This, of course, has nothing to do with the question I posed. I was asking you if your conclusions were falsifiable, and your answer was “no”. In fact, I believe you were rather emphatic about your answer. Your exact words were:

    What part of “no” is difficult for you to understand?

    Expressing such certainty that your worldview cannot be falsified is a rather interesting position to take, particularly on an ID website where you pepper the regulars here with sarcasm.

    Your comments represent the central core of the average materialist’s attitude on UD. Whether you intended it or not, you could easily become something of a spokesperson for the paradigm.

    Let’s take a short walk back through the exchange between us and I’ll show you what I mean. And do me a favor – in your mind’s eye, imagine you are carrying a box along the way. When an issue in our exchange is resolved, we’ll put it in the box and move on to the next. Fair enough?

    First let’s start with the question I asked: “Would the existence of anything not explained by material acted upon by chance negate the ability of material and chance to explain everything?”

    This is a rather important but simple question. The structure of the question is central to scientific understanding, and indeed to most rational pursuits. If an explanation can be shown to be incapable of explaining what it must explain, then the validity of the explanation is brought into doubt.

    Your responses to this question were as expected. Your immediate response was to answer a different question, one that had no bearing whatsoever on the question I asked. You said:

    Evolution is not “chance”. There is a random component, of course. But the clue is “selection”. It’s not selection by chance, it’s selection by success.

    You then added:

    Nobody thinks that “chance and material explain everything”, that’s the strawman you’ve built simply to knock down with your absurd probability 747 calculations.

    Of course, none of this has anything to do with the question. I didn’t ask you about the Theory of Evolution, nor did I ask you about the power of selection. And I certainly didn’t ask about aircraft. But, in fairness I tried to get at the core of what you were suggesting – that my characterization of materialism is incorrect (a strawman) because “nobody thinks that chance and material explain everything.”

    To this I responded with the definition of “materialism” provided by several sources including Merriam-Webster, Encarta, Columbia, and even Wiki. To that I added a verifiable quote from a famed Nobel Laureate who confirmed in the strongest possible terms that chance is the central mover in the biological production on this planet. He stated it in such strong terms that “nothing warrants the supposition (or the hope) that conceptions about this should, or ever could, be revised.”

    Now is an appropriate time to get out our box and judge whether this part of our exchange has been put to rest. If we can take four dictionary sources as sufficient to understand the core meaning of the word “materialism” and if we can further accept the unequivocal testament of a Nobel Laureate on the subject, then I say “yes” this issue is resolved. You are incorrect here; my question did not represent a strawman, and indeed “material acted upon by chance” is the core explanation in the materialist paradigm you defend. In the box it goes.

    We can now move on to another exchange.

    I responded that your comments were “demonstrably wrong” about materialism and chance, to which you said that I should then “demonstrate that they are wrong rather than just stating such.” This is a comment you made after I posted the definitions and the quote.

    It’s time to get out the box again. In the box it goes.

    Next you say your answer to the question I asked is “no”. You commented:

    “No because the existence of anything not currently explainable by “chance” (as you use it) would not cause me to think “oh, thing X (or it’s origin) is not well understood therefore the designer did it”.

    This comment is interesting for two reasons: on one hand you are trying to obfuscate the issue by introducing phenomena that we simply have no explanation for into a question that deals with what materialism insists we already have explanations for. Materialism does not say that there is the possibility of agency involvement is nature; materialism (as presented by the repeated definitions I gave earlier) suggest that no other cause may be considered except matter and chance – whether we fully understand the phenomena or not. In other words, materialism places its conclusion above, beyond, and before the evidence.

    You may in turn say that Theism does the same thing, however I would remind you that Theism is not part of the scientific hypothesis of Design. Even more damning is the fact that scientific hypothesis of Design does not demand that material explanations of natural phenomena cannot be studied or considered in any observation – that particular position (of self-referring exclusivity) is reserved solely for materialism alone.

    Secondly, you attempt to take a swipe at a competing explanation by mischaracterizing it. ID proponents do not say “thing X is not well understood therefore the designer did it”. Michael Denton made quantitative studies of homology, the fossil record, embryology, and such. Michael Behe studied mutation rates and presented (and supported) the concept of irreducible complexity. Bill Dembski focused on rational mathematical probabilities. David Abel presented a qualitative profile of the mechanisms involved in nucleic sequencing. Even agnostics like David Berlinski, who is a harsh critic of materialism, uses material rationale to support design as a legitimate point of inquiry. Literally no one says anything like “X is not well understood therefore the designer did it”. In other words, your representation is nothing less than a petty mischaracterization of a competing paradigm – a strawman.

    Get out the box. These comments of yours should definitely go in with the others.

    Finally moving on to your last post, after the obfuscation and strawmen, you say:

    Your question was stated in a unclear manner, too many negatives to sort through.

    Too difficult to understand? The question was “Would the existence of anything not explained by material acted upon by chance negate the ability of material and chance to explain everything?” What are the negatives that you suggest are untenable? Is it that you cannot understand the word “not” in the sentence? Is it the word “negate” that is throwing you off? I find it odd that you didn’t ask for a clarification of these words, nor did you seem to misunderstand the sentence in such a fashion that you could not react to it in your previous two posts. In short, it is simply not convincing to suggest you cannot understand the sentence. In the box it goes.

    Incredibly, you then say yet again that I have not demonstrated the central tenant of materialism, nor the role that materialism assigns to chance. You quip:

    No, you did not.

    It is as if the dictionaries I quoted are as untrustworthy as Nobel Laureate Jaques Monod. This is nothing short of a denial of reality. Get out the box again.
    This is the third time for this to be put in the box. I should be the last.

    Then, in response to my comment (that “the more we know” then the more that agency is inferred by the observable evidence) you simply state:

    Publish or perish.

    This is an oldie but goodie. Against all odds, a portion of the rationale for agency has been published in peer review. A case for agency has become part of the scientific record. And as expected, people were trashed and slandered for allowing it to happen. This was done to send a signal. (Anyone who has seen the private emails knows this to be true). The old “ID never publishes” retort is now a thing of the past – even though it has been made clear to all concerned that it is never to happen again, never to be expanded upon, and never to be cited.

    This comment goes in the box as well.

    Finally, coming to the end of your comments you gain steam and start feeling boisterous. You state:

    Yes, you can name plenty of religious scientists but you cannot give a single example of “science” that includes god in the answer to a question.

    Newton was a believer yet god is not part of his laws of motion. He may have been inspired by his belief, but it did not intrude into his scientific work.

    Prove me wrong. A single example will do.

    Clearly, you really, really want ID to posit the intervention of a God in place of making rational observations of the empirical evidence (Polanyi, Behe, Denton, Abel, Durston, Dembski, Meyer, etc). In complete denial of the obvious, you are asking for a single example of something that does not represent the hypothesis of agency involvement in the natural world. The reason that it is not part of ID is already been told to you. There is nothing in the observational evidence that provides any information whatsoever about the existence of a God, or Gods, or any particular God, if any God at all. The evidence only supports the empirically rational conclusion is that Life is the result of an act by an agent. Nothing more.

    Now look in your box Levy, every single thing you’ve posted has been met with simple clarity – not obfuscation, not strawmen, and not misrepresentation. And the thing you really need to understand is this:

    This conversation cannot be turned around. We cannot switch positions and have the same conversation. You cannot ask me anything that I must obfuscate upon. You cannot ask me anything that I must build a strawman to avoid. You cannot force me into any rationale that I must misrepresent your position in order to avoid my own.

    (Perhaps you should consider what that suggest)

  195. Upright BiPed,

    Very late response to you over yonder.

    Agency, agency, agency. “I think you should be more explicit here in step 2.”

    The operation of agency is fundamentally miraculous. I mean, we’re talking about mind creating information out of nothing, right? However real miracles may be, they are of no utility in scientific explanation. Imagine if, in my original discipline of experimental psychology, researchers “explained” behavior with statements like “The subject just up and did it.” That is the essence of agency, after all.

    If agency is a nonstarter in scientific explanation of human behavior, why should it be considered in explanation of biological organization? “Something just up and made it that way.”

    You vastly overrate empirical science and rationalism. To say that something comes out of nothing is patently absurd — and this is not at all to say that it is patently false. My point is that to believe in our own agency, we must embrace the irrational. My knowledge of creation comes from direct, private experience, and is not something I can prove by logic or support with empirical evidence.

    One of the reasons I gave up creationism long ago was that it struck me as sacrilegious to make unwarranted declarations about the Creator. Since reading Chapter 1 of Bill Dembski’s new book on theodicy, God’s appearance to Job (Chaps. 38-41) has been much on my mind. God tells Job in no uncertain terms that he is ignorant of the particulars of creation and the workings of the world. We should be very humble in our claims as to what we can learn by science.

  196. 196
    William J. Murray

    TM English:

    The operation of gravity is also fundamentally miraculous. Where did it come from? What sets it value? The existence of gravity – whatever it is – is fundamentally miraculous; it is what it is. It does what it does. The same with entropy. Time. The strong and weak nuclear forces.

    Is agency somehow more miraculous, and less scientific when it is revealed by the presence of complex specific information, than when gravity is revealed by the orbit of planets around the sun?

    The reason agency is regarded differently is because of the religious convictions of those who require that it be removed from the table of consideration.

  197. 197

    R0b,

    —–”I don’t understand the distinction between material and immaterial, but I would think that something that emits or reflects photons would be considered material.”

    Nor do you understand the distinction between natural and supernatural, for no one really does.

  198. 198

    Mr English, I do hope you are feeling better.

    I began reading your chapter with great anticipation, but immediately understood why you left Trevors and Abel out of it. Why you rant about Abel is just as clear. Clear as a bell. It makes me smile.

    Also, in case you did not catch my drift in our previous exchange, I am not subject to being shaken by your disdain. And, you needn’t worry about my identity. If you insist that this is about personalities, then I would just say I’m your worst nightmare, and leave it at that.

    I look forward to reading your chapter. Perhaps tomorrow or Monday.

  199. Re #196

    The reason agency is regarded differently is because of the religious convictions of those who require that it be removed from the table of consideration

    I can’t speak for the the motives of others but I treat hypotheses that include agency like any other hypotheses. The trouble is that “agency” without any further definition adds nothing to the explanation. It is on par with saying that outcome X has a natural cause and calling that an explanation.

    Note that CSI is not a result of agency. It is simply another way of expressing the perceived improbability of one particular alternative hypothesis that does not include agency. That is how it is defined. It completely ducks the issue of other natural hypotheses and by defining “agency” in a completely generic way evades any comparable assessment of the probability of hypotheses including agency. I could assess the improbability of the Christian God having created such a cruel living world, take the logarithm to the base 2 which will help obscure its meaning, give that number some pseudo mathematical name (theospecificity?) and then announce that high theospecificity was an effect of natural causes.

  200. 200
    William J. Murray

    Mark Frank said: “The trouble is that “agency” without any further definition adds nothing to the explanation. It is on par with saying that outcome X has a natural cause and calling that an explanation. ”

    Who claims that one should stop the investigation with the discovery of agency? This is an old canard; does science stop because “chance” is used to describe the manner in which certain specific aspects of a phenomena develop? Of course not.

    Mark say: “It completely ducks the issue of other natural hypotheses and by defining “agency” in a completely generic way evades any comparable assessment of the probability of hypotheses including agency.”

    I’m afraid you have it backwards;a finding of “agency” is arrived at by a process of first discounting the natural explanations as sufficient, discounting chance as sufficient, and examining the feature to see if agency as we know it (the human variety) is known to produce similar phemonena; and examining it for complex, specified information. I could similarly claim that “chance” is just a means of “ducking” the ID explanation.

    If we found a very strange phenomena in space that didn’t seem to be generated by any known natural law, combination thereof, or chance, the best alternative answer may not be ID, because the phenomena may not contain any CSI, or exhibit any signs of havin been designed. We may not be aware of all of the natural laws or forces that operate in the universe, or of all the kinds of materials and subsequent natural behaviors. All of the known natural laws, and chance, may be entirely insufficient to generate the phenomena (say, a pulsing gas cloud that disappears in one area of space and randomly appears in another, changes color (apparently randomly) and then disappears again.

    Unless this cloud of gas is issuing a specified message in this pattern, it is probably just in the grip of some as-yet unknown natural process, perhas a quantum fluctuation that affects the macro world more than we are accustomed to obseving, in a random way.

    ID as a hypothesis, and a finding of ID, is no more a non-starter, or a science stopper, than gravity or chance. IT simply takes one down a different track than insisting that the CSI evidence “must be” the product of nature and chance, even if one has no meaningful idea how it could have been accomplished, other than insistent ideology.

  201. #200

    Who claims that one should stop the investigation with the discovery of agency? This is an old canard; does science stop because “chance” is used to describe the manner in which certain specific aspects of a phenomena develop? Of course not.

    I not claiming that you have to stop with generic “agency”. I am just saying you haven’t started. I look forward to hearing an actual hypothesis.

    I’m afraid you have it backwards;a finding of “agency” is arrived at by a process of first discounting the natural explanations as sufficient, discounting chance as sufficient,

    My point is that this process is faulty reasoning. All that is dismissed is a specific chance hypothesis. That is not evidence for any other hypothesis – intelligent or otherwise.

    and examining the feature to see if agency as we know it (the human variety) is known to produce similar phemonena; and examining it for complex, specified information.

    But no human has ever created life. All they have ever achieved is creating DNA by copying the process that already exists. YUou will probably claim that humans have created CSI. But CSI is just another phrase for “this outcome is highly unlikely given this specific chance hypothesis”. This is after all how Dembski defines it. So you can’t “examine” something for CSI. You need to have a hypothesis in mind first.

    I could similarly claim that “chance” is just a means of “ducking” the ID explanation.

    And it would be similarly inadequate to put forward “chance” as an explanation. Luckily evolutionary biologists don’t do that. They put forward actual hypotheses.

  202. 202

    Upright

    Against all odds, a portion of the rationale for agency has been published in peer review. A case for agency has become part of the scientific record. And as expected, people were trashed and slandered for allowing it to happen. This was done to send a signal. (Anyone who has seen the private emails knows this to be true). The old “ID never publishes” retort is now a thing of the past – even though it has been made clear to all concerned that it is never to happen again, never to be expanded upon, and never to be cited.

    And you agree with that then? If that all happened then don’t your people have the courage of your convictions? Are you simply going to give up? Never try again because of a single bad experence?

    What specific paper are you refering to exactly? Sternberg? Perhaps you are refering to his work in the Baraminology Study Group, a “young Earth” group? Sure, he was critical of them but who would give creationists serious consideration anyway?

    So, If it’s true that “people were trashed and slandered for allowing it to happen” and “this was done to send a signal” then I agree. It should never be tried again. ID should never again try to get taken seriously and be published. Why should you when only trouble awaits?

    If that’s your attitude then no, ID will never be published, will never be taken seriously. If it was me and I had a belief and evidence that it was true and better explained the observed data then the current ideas then I would not rest until my view was taken seriously. And that does not mean I’d write books for the lay person and never attempt to engage the scientific community. Timecube has thousands of words written in support of, well, whatever it’s about. But no real scientist will hear about it in via a peer reviewed journal.

    If the Steinberg situation did not happen you would have had to invent it.

    There is nothing in the observational evidence that provides any information whatsoever about the existence of a God, or Gods, or any particular God, if any God at all.

    So “the designer” could be an alien then? You disagree?

    At the start of this thread you said

    But…mutations and mutation rates have been observed (see EoE). The problem is that the observations simply don’t fit the way the circus is being sold.

    If I understand Mr Hunter correctly, closing ones eyes to this fact is the “religious” part.

    If “the observations” don’t fit then you know what to do right? Write it up, and publish it. Get people to listen via good, solid, fact checked work and do something about it

    Presumably you can make your case for a better way to understand “the observations” then is currently the case? Presumably you can make that case without invoking a god, or gods?

    Then what exactly is stopping you doing so? Or do you prefer to make your pronouncements from the safety of a blog when you don’t have to hold to any level of rigour and can simply say ” the problem is that the observations simply don’t fit”

    If you can make a scientific argument out of that and get it published in the peer reviewed journal network then you might be onto something. Or would you prefer to publish a book and complain about the fact ID papers have been banned from publication because of a single example (which I don’t even accept anyway as if you read the back story it’s far far different to what’s made out here. Tell me, what were the other papers published in the journal in question about?)

    and never to be cited.

    Yep, there is a global consipiracy stopping people citing that paper. Sometimes papers don’t get cited for other reasons you know!

    I was asking you if your conclusions were falsifiable, and your answer was “no”.

    And I asked you to ask your question another way. And I then tried to answer it as I understood it in any case. Yes, claim victory if you want. Do whatvever you want. It does not matter a whit.

    in fairness I tried to get at the core of what you were suggesting – that my characterization of materialism is incorrect (a strawman) because “nobody thinks that chance and material explain everything.”

    Very well. If “chance and material” does not explain “everything” then what does?

    What do you invoke to explain what “chance and material” does not?

    And remember

    There is nothing in the observational evidence that provides any information whatsoever about the existence of a God, or Gods, or any particular God, if any God at all.

    So it seems to me you’ve already ruled out non-material entities in your answer. Therefore the answer must lie in the observable, material realm. And we come to an agreement.

  203. 203

    William

    and examining it for complex, specified information.

    Can you give me an example of how you would go about this? You can pick the object in question or I can supply an example if you prefer.

    because the phenomena may not contain any CSI

    Here is a list of variable star types
    * Cepheid variables
    * W Virginis variables
    * Delta Scuti variables
    * RR Lyrae variables
    * Mira variables
    * Semiregular variables
    * Irregular variables
    * Beta Cephei variables
    * Alpha Cygni variables
    * RV Tauri variables

    Can you say whuch contain CSI, how much and how did you determine that?

    For RV Tauri types Wikipedia notes

    RV Tauri variables are supergiant variable stars. They exhibit changes in luminosity which are tied to radial pulsations of their surfaces. Their changes in brightness are also correlated with changes in their spectral type. While at their brightest, the stars have spectral types F or G. At their dimmest, their spectral types change to K or M. The formal period of brightness fluctuations is typically around 30 to 150 days, and exhibits alternating primary and secondary minima, which can change relative to each other. Difference between maximum and minimum brightness can be as much as four magnitudes. RV Tauri stars are further subclassified into two types:

    * RVa variables: these are RV Tauri variables which do not vary in mean brightness
    * RVb variables: these are RV Tauri variables which show periodic variations in their mean brightness, so that their maxima and minima change on 600 to 1500 day timescales

    The prototype of these variables, RV Tauri is a RVb type variable which exhibits brightness variations between magnitudes +9.8 and +13.3 with a formal period of 78.7 days.

    RV Tauri stars may be post-AGB objects. They are thought to be mostly binaries with dust possibly confined to a disc.

    Based on that, does that type have

    A) No CSI
    B) Some CSI
    C) Lots of CSI

    And can you put a number on any of those options?

  204. 204

    Clive

    Nor do you understand the distinction between natural and supernatural, for no one really does.

    Then how can you claim that, for example, the origin of life required a supernatural intervention?

    Or that ghosts are supernatural?

    Or that souls/spirits exist and are non-material?

  205. 205

    Perhaps this is off-topic: Marsh Chapel at Boston University has a series of sermons this summer on “Darwin and Faith.” I heard the first one last Sunday and am listening to the second one now. They are excellent for those of us on the far liberal side of Christianity. Apparently links to the sermons will become available (the first sermon was preached last week but the link is not up yet).

  206. 206

    I was wrong: last week’s sermon is posted (both text and audio). It’s called “Narnia’s Aslan, Earth’s Darwin, and Heaven’s God.” I liked it, though I can see why lots of folks will not.

  207. 207
    William J. Murray

    Levy:

    We’ll use a very easy example, the following three lines of text:

    1. on[oehrqnd9p02umd&*H)@ohpfpe
    2. 0101010101010101010101010
    3. The spaghetti here is excellent.

    The first line is an example of random information. The second is an example of simple repeating information that a natural law might predict. The third is an example of complex, specified information that is generally called by the shorthand FSCI or sometimes just “information”.

    This kind of information is independent of medium, meaning it doesn’t rely on the medium, or the particular matter, to be understood or transmitted. That sentence can be spoken, written on paper, or carved in rock and it the specified message is the same. The message transcends the material that carries it, as long as the message can be understood by that which is sending it, and that which is decoding it.

    FSCI is not just a shorthand way of saying “we don’t understand how chance or law produced this”.

  208. William J. Murray:

    We’ll use a very easy example, the following three lines of text:

    1. on[oehrqnd9p02umd&*H)@ohpfpe
    2. 0101010101010101010101010
    3. The spaghetti here is excellent.

    The first line is an example of random information. The second is an example of simple repeating information that a natural law might predict. The third is an example of complex, specified information that is generally called by the shorthand FSCI or sometimes just “information”.

    Whence the conflation of CSI with FSCI?

    Dembski has used alternating binary values as an example of high specificity several times. Why would you say that (2) doesn’t have CSI just because it might be predicted by natural law(s)? Isn’t the same true for biological structures?

    In my experience, attempts to pin down allegedly rigorous mathematical ID concepts are usually met with vague examples like this. Why not provide a technical account rather than assuming that non-IDers need a hand-holding primer?

  209. Upright Biped:

    Why you rant about Abel is just as clear. Clear as a bell.

    I agree. I can’t image someone with English’s background having a positive opinion of Abel’s work.

  210. 210
    William J. Murray

    Rob,

    My bad, my acronyms got mixed up.

    01010101010 is specified, but not complex.

    j[2-i0ejkqnf03un4[ is complex, but not necressarily specified.

    The spaghetti here is excellent. = complex, specified information.

    The binary example lacks CSI because it is not complex, not because it “might” be created by natural forces.

  211. 211
    William J. Murray

    Rob says: “In my experience, attempts to pin down allegedly rigorous mathematical ID concepts are usually met with vague examples like this. Why not provide a technical account rather than assuming that non-IDers need a hand-holding primer?”

    I’m sorry, i’m not a mathmetician, so I can’t make such rigorous arguments. However, I have noticed that such math models are available easily on the internet; here’s one at Wiki:

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

  212. 212

    William,
    Thanks for the lesson.

    Now, I understand that 500 bits of “CSI” or “FSCI” indicates intelligence was involved in the creation of those bits.

    Could you give me an example (or could anyone) of an object of any type with

    A) 499
    B) 500
    C) 501

    bits of CSI/FSCI?

    I’m very interested to see what sort of object is but a bit away from “intelligence required”.

  213. 213

    William,
    Have you gone to the link you gave?

    Thus far, Dembski’s only attempt at calculating the specified complexity of a naturally occurring biological structure is in his book No Free Lunch

    ..

    However, Dembski says that the precise calculation of the relevant probability “has yet to be done”,

    ..

    These methods assume that all of the constituent parts of the flagellum must have been generated completely at random, a scenario that biologists do not seriously consider.

    ..

    When Dembski’s mathematical claims on specific complexity are interpreted to make them meaningful and conform to minimal standards of mathematical usage, they usually turn out to be false. Dembski often sidesteps these criticisms by responding that he is not “in the business of offering a strict mathematical proof for the inability of material mechanisms to generate specified complexity”.

    If the good Dr will not offer a strict mathematical proof for the inability of material mechanisms to generate specified complexity, then why is it claimed over and over, mainly by Kariosfocus but by plenty of others too, that this is exactly what has been done? That the onus is on the evolutionists to prove that evolution can create the complexity that stawmen such as the 747 example attempts to blow down?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoyle%27s_fallacy

    According to Ian Musgrave in Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations:

    These people, including Fred, have committed one or more of the following errors.

    1. They calculate the probability of the formation of a “modern” protein, or even a complete bacterium with all “modern” proteins, by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.
    2. They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.
    3. They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather than simultaneous trials.
    4. They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.
    5. They seriously underestimate the number of functional enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences.[1]

    Again, thanks for the link.

  214. William J. Murray @ 188

    Design is the better explanation of the two, because (1) natural law and chance have not provided a sufficient explanation for the development of the eye, and (2) design does, and (3) we have examples of design generating similar such structures (regardless of how “perfect” they are) in human-designed and engineered mechanisms.

    Yes, we have evidence of the human capacity for design. But that is all we have. We have no evidence that human beings were involved in the “design” of any of the various eyes found in living creatures on Earth. We have no evidence of extraterrestrial designers at all. Saying something looks designed because it looks like things we design is unadulterated Paleyism.

    And we do have a better alternative, as I am sure you know, in the form of Nilsson and Pelger’s mathematical modeling of how the human eye could have evolved in what is a relatively short period of time by geological standards.

    It is better, by the way, because it offers an explanation of ‘how’ not just a claim of ‘who’. If someone watches a David Copperfield illusion and asks “How on Earth did he do that?”, replying “David Copperfield did it” is not likely to be thought a satisfactory answer.

    The theory that utilizes the process known to produce similar features – design – is thus the better explanation.

    Design, in this case, does not exist apart from an extraterrestrial designer, the existence of which has yet to be demonstrated.

  215. William, how do you figure that “The spaghetti here is excellent” is complex, but “0101010101010101010101010″ is not?

  216. 216

    Echidna-Levy,

    ——”Then how can you claim that, for example, the origin of life required a supernatural intervention? Or that ghosts are supernatural? Or that souls/spirits exist and are non-material?”

    By keeping an open mind.

  217. William J. Murray @ 189

    That’s not what I asked you to support. I asked you to support the claim that there is no such evidence. You made the assertion; you can either support it, or you cannot.

    I have searched for compelling evidence for the existence of ghosts and found none. I have, in effect, provided you with a hostage to fortune in that claim. If you have evidence to the contrary, not only can you prove me wrong before all these “onlookers” but you can enable science to take a massive step forward. Can you do that?

    Second, a positive claim of fact based on a lack of evidence to the contrary is a classic argument from ignorance. Lack of evidence of a thing is not evidence the thing doesn’t exist. So, not only have you not supported your assertion that no such evidence exists, even if you could support it, you would be committing a logical fallacy in claiming such a lack of evidence supported your assertion that ghosts do not exist.

    My claim was that we have evidence that the human visual system is prone to errors like hallucinations but none for ghosts that exist outside our imagination. If I am right then, by Occam’s Razor, we should prefer the simpler explanation that ghosts are a phenomenon that exists only inside our heads not outside.

    Third, asking me for evidence that ghosts exist is “shifting the burden”; you are the one making assertions; back them up if you can.

    The burden of proof is usually held to rest with the claimant, although that only holds if the claimant is concerned with persuading his or her audience of the merits of the claim.

    For me to prove the claim that there are no published research papers which find evidence for the existence of ghosts as a phenomenon that exists independent of the human mind is possible. It would however require something like a joint search of all available research databases to verify for you that no such research exists, an exercise which I do not feel inclined to undertake. It would be much easier, if you know of research which has found evidence for the objective existence of ghosts, to lay it before us. It would only require one such paper to demolish my position entirely.

  218. Re #207 and #210

    William – your examples illustrate one of the many problems with the concept of CSI. Presumably you rate (3) as specified because it makes a meaningful sentence in the English language. But this is context dependent. For all we know (1) is a cipher for a meaningful sentence or has some other significance we don’t appreciate.

    Dembski tries to get round this by defining “specified” in terms of Kolmogorov complexity – low Kolmogorov complexity means the outcome can be produced with a low number of rules and initial information. Then the “information” in an outcome is the probability of obtaining an outcome with equal of lower Kolmogorov complexity. The problem is that string 2 has a lower Kolmogorov complexity than string 3. So using Dembski’s definition the information in string 3 should be based on the probability of obtaining string 3 plus numerous other strings including string 2! So it is less complex than string 2.

    You say you are not a mathematician. It is worth getting to the grips with the detail of the definition of CSI. You will find it is not as clear a concept as it first appears.

  219. The claim that evolution is a fact entails more than merely “change over time.” It entails all the species arising from blind, natural processes, a claim that is not motivated by the scientific evidence alone.

    Well, at least we have discovered where your confusion lies. Also, it is easy to remedy. Allow me to do so now: Change over time is all evolution requires. If there is any change in a population, and those changes are acted on by natural selection, there is nothing stopping evolution from happening.

    A more technical way of saying this is by saying: Imperfect replicators competing for resources will evolve. This disconnects the concept from biology into a more mathematical form, which can be implemented in the form of genetic algorithms for example. This has been done, and the concept has been shown to be mathematically sound.

    We can OBSERVE populations adapting to thier environments. This IS evolution. Nothing more is required.

    So now that I have explained to you why the process of evolution is observable in nature, can you explain why you think the THEORY of evolution that explains this phenomenon is religios?

    I ask again, what EXACTLY do you think evolution relies on that is religios in nature?

    So far you have only replied with the links in 55, which I have adressed, and shown to be irrelevant.

    Is there anything else you can use to support your position, or is your position unsupported? I am beginning to suspect the latter is true.

  220. 220
    William J. Murray

    Seversky;

    I have already provided the evidence that ghosts exist. William Crookes published such evidence in the Journal of Science; a recent NDE published in the Lancet study provided evidence, and reiterated that it should be a part of future research, that a transcendent nature of consciousness (i.e., not dependent on the brain) should be considered.

    Other evidence of ghosts, or disembodied consciousnesses (as we currently understand the term “embodied”), has been accumulated through other scientfic research carried on by various programs at various institutes, such as the Veritas Research Program, The Sophia Research Program, rigorous scientific reserach carried out by Dr. Julie Bieschel at the Windbridge Institute, the Scole Experiment, and the Afterlife Experiments.

    Whether or not you personally find this evidence compelling is not the issue; you claimed “In the case of ghosts, we have evidence that the human visual system is prone to malfunctions like hallucinations but none that such things exist outside human imagination.”

    Such evidence does, in fact, exist, and it has, in fact, been published in major journals as well as in non-mainstream journals and books; such research has been carried out for about 150 years by various scientists and accepted by many eminent scientists as convincing evidence.

    That you personally don’t find the evidence “compelling” is besided the point that such evidence exists.

    YOur claim about visual errors is specious, unless you wish to further claim that cameras and other recording equipment – including audio – present at the time of much of the modern research are similarly prone to errors which match what the individuals claim to be observing (as in the Scole Experiment and the Afterlife Experiments).

    While I am happy to provide you with the evidence you seek that disproves your claim, because it would “be easier” for me to disprove your claim, than for you to support it, perhaps makes an argument that you should be more careful about your claims of fact.

    Stating that you are personally unaware of such evidence is one thing; stating that no such evidence exists is another. Stating that you are unconvinced by the evidence is not the same as claiming that such evidence simply doesn’t exist.

  221. 221
    William J. Murray

    #215:

    Because a binary system has two components; 0, and 1. This means that in every position, there are only two possible states; 0, or 1. The only simpler system would be one possible state.

    With the sentence (or even the random letter and punctuation noise), there are @ 90 (the number of distinct, different symbols my keyboard can produce, including small case and upper case letters, sybmols, numbers, etc).

    If there are about 30 symbols in a string (including spaces), then the complexity of the string is about 90^30, compared to 2^30 (if we use 30 binary digits).

    For any string of 30 symbols, the least complex string is 1^30 in terms of potential complexity; that’s the lowest complexity available, as far as I know (and I’m not a mathematician. The next simplest would be 2^30.

    I think its entirely reasonable to call the binary string simple, and the other string complex. Even if we limit the sentence to letters, spaces, and punctuation, it’s still incredibly more complex than the binary string.

    Please correct my math if my math is wrong.

  222. William J. Murray, as far as I can tell, your math is impeccable.

    Of course, complexity is always relative to a chance hypothesis. Apparently your chance hypothesis for #3 is that it was randomly typed on a standard keyboard, and your chance hypothesis for #2 is that the bits were randomly selected from the set {0,1}. For those chance hypotheses, the complexity is 30 bits for a 30-bit binary string, and 195 bits for #3.

    If, instead, our chance hypothesis is that the characters were chosen from the Unicode set, the complexity of #3 is much bigger. Or, if we hypothesize that the characters were selected from the set of alphabetical letters and spaces, the complexity is much smaller. Or we could hypothesize that the words were randomly selected from a small dictionary. And why restrict ourselves to sample spaces that consist of 30 characters or 5 words? Maybe the sentence was chosen from the set of all sentences of any length. The complexity of the binary sequence can likewise be arbitrarily increased or decreased.

    According to Dembski, we must take into account all relevant chance hypotheses. As there is no end to the chance hypotheses we can invent, complexity calculations seem pretty arbitrary.

    And hey, we also get to choose whether our calculation takes into account specificational resources or not. CSI is a pretty malleable metric.

  223. 223
    William J. Murray

    R0b:

    Is there, in your opinion, a definite, substantive difference between 1, 2, and 3 above?

  224. William,
    Certainly. #2 can be generated by a trivial program, and #3 is an English sentence.

    I have no problem seeing that #3 is typical of sentences that humans produce. But I don’t believe that I use Dembski’s eliminative logic to infer that it’s human-made, nor do I believe that design can be coherently categorized outside of necessity and chance. So I reject Dembski’s methods and attendant measures, contrary to his claim the specified complexity is how we all detect design.

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