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Fired for Being Irrelevant

In shocking news this morning, johnnyb was fired from his job for being irrelevant. When asked about why he was fired, ABC Co. gave the following response — “We looked at the operation of the company, and, while there were many programs attributed to him, and some people claimed that the network worked because of him, we ultimately decided that philosophically, these were all johnnyb-of-the-gaps arguments. In each case, someone from management was able to conceive of a way that these systems would be functional without a johnnyb.”

Another member of management went on to say, “yeah, there are a few spots where we don’t know the details of what happened. For example, at 8:03 AM, the network was down, and at 8:45 it was back up with a replaced switch and several systems rebooted. Now, we have observed systems self-rebooting all the time (after all, we run Windows). Therefore, we know that we need not suppose a johnnyb in order for the necessary systems to be rebooted. That means that all that’s left to account for is the new switch. As with every johnnyb-of-the-gaps argument, as you look into the situation, the gap just gets smaller. Previously we could not account for either the rebooting or the new system, now it is only the new system we can’t account for by naturalistic means.”

However, some other employees had other ideas. “I know he is responsible for programming many of our core systems. I even have in my hand an install disk for one of our core systems, which was made by johnnyb. I know of no other way in which software develops except by a programmer.”

It would seem to some that having such a complex coding would require a programmer, but the CEO of ABC Co. had this to say about it: “We have a number of InstallShield-installed software components which we know were not made by johnnyb. Yet they all exhibit surprising amounts of code sequence homology. In fact, in many of the experiments we’ve been doing, we find that when we copy a CD, on occasion one or two of the bits go bad. With the amazing homology between some portions of this software, it is perfectly conceivable that our core software systems were writable by copying our old software revisions several times.” When asked about the improbability of that happening, the CEO said, “well, you just have to conceive of each change being slightly beneficial. If the change was deleterious, we would have just thrown the CD away and never used it again. However, as long as each modification was slightly beneficial, it could conceivably be done. Those who think it requires a johnnyb are simply being overtaken as new knowledge comes in. The idea that there is some gap in knowledge requiring a johnnyb just means you aren’t being scientific about it.”

Some coworkers claim to have observed johnnyb typing. “Yes, I saw him code Widget 2.3 personally. I saw him sitting there, typing on the keys. Without johnnyb, we would not have Widget 2.3.” This would appear to be a fairly convincing argument in favor of a johnnyb. But it turns out weaker than expected. “We set up a camera and numerous physical measuring devices. While he was programming, we did not detect anything that could not be explained in principle from physics and chemistry. In fact, most of the processes observed — moving fingers, looking at a screen, making grumbly noises, are equally accomplishable by any 3-year-old. There is no reason to suppose that a johnnyb was required for any of this.”

One coworker of johnnyb’s was particularly impressed with johnnyb’s work. “His newest tool is amazing. When you install it, it detects how much memory and disk space you have, and modifies it’s operation to work with the resources available. It can also auto-detect useful plugins and use them without the user having to manually configure them.”

The CEO of ABC Co. responded that “this just goes to show the great lengths some people will go to in order to prop up a failing argument. Here you have software that is clearly adaptable. When your software can adapt like this, why do we suppose it requires a designer to get any software? If the software can adapt to changing memory requirements, it’s not a very big stretch to think that it could also adapt to run on OSX or Linux given enough time. Likewise, there’s no reason, given an appropriately selective advantage, that it could not one day become a Word Processor. Obviously we don’t see these thing presently being made because the timescales are so small. People have trouble thinking in timescales this large, that’s why they don’t buy the argument.”

Finally, another manager said, “Every time someone makes a johnnyb-of-the-gaps argument, we know that they are just doing that because they are friends of johnnyb. The ‘gap’, if it could be called that, gets narrower with every new piece of information we have.”

Following shortly after johnnyb’s firing was the firing of Gerald, a middle manager who had relayed a message to a management meeting from another staff member suggesting that johnnyb might in fact be required for some software events. “Gerald was immediately fired. You can’t be a middle-manager if you suppose that programmers might in fact be programming. Unless you believe, like we do, that software comes from nothing and that programmers are just a useless budget item, you are simply a gullible fool. I mean, it’s okay if some of our middle-managers keep programmers on the payroll. It’s a long-standing tradition, and I understand the sentimental nature of the thing. It’s just that if you assume that they have intervened on the network or the computers, well, we know the road that can take us down. It’s anti-computing.”

[note to friends -- in real life, johnnyb remains gainfully employed]

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26 Responses to Fired for Being Irrelevant

  1. 1
    sagebrush gardener

    That’s wonderful, johnnyb! It sounds like a day at my job. Except that I have worked remotely for the past six years. So none of my clients, and only a few old-timers at my company, have ever seen me in person. My clients just pray – I mean email me – and their problems are miraculously solved. It truly requires a leap of faith to believe in my existence.

  2. 2
    sagebrush gardener

    PS…

    … could also adapt to run on OSX or Apple …

    OSX == Apple

    You might want to say “Linux or Apple” instead.

  3. Thanks sagebrush. Fixing now…

  4. I love it. Good concept…always helps to place the argument in a different context and it becomes painfully obvious who is being irrational.

  5. Amazing analogy! Did you come up with that all by yourself? *applause*

  6. Johnnyb: I’m passing along this information to our executive management team so our company can benefit from the cost reductions associated with removing irrelevent programmers. Also, since we design VLSI chips here, and most of the design is based on synthesizable code, we can probably rid ourselves of the chip designers too and just let nature take her course on the coded database. I’m excited to see what new functions emerge on our chips just through RM+NS on existing chip designs. It might take a little longer, but I’m sure our customers and shareholders will be understanding.

    Don’t you need a source of random variation? May I humbly suggest taking a stack of e-size paper plots of various metal layers to your local pub, hanging them on the wall over the dartboard, then while consuming copious quantities of adult beverages, throw some darts. Red feathered darts could be designated as a new connection between metal layers while blue feathered darts a broken trace. Let me know how that works out for you and remind me to avoid buying any products your company produces in the future. ;-) -ds

  7. 7

    This would be a viable argument if the existence johnnyb were a little less verifiable. Say, if no one alive had physically ever seen him, never heard his voice, never seen his handwriting. If he had no parents, there was no house where he had lived, no friends, no family, no school, no goldfish, no one had never seen him shopping or eating lunch. Then, yes, positing his existence to explain computer code (or anything else) for which you have no current explanation might qualify as johnnyb-of-the-gaps. This is especially true if discoveries continue to be made explaining the existence of code you previously attributed to johnnyb. For example, we find that maryd or jimmyq wrote a particular program, rather than the never-actually-verified-but-inferred-from-lack-of-better-information johnnyb.

    By your logic, I’d best believe that Thor creates the thunder, because I don’t want to use the “god-of-the-gaps” fallacy the wrong way and assume that they only attributed thunder to a god because they didn’t understand the physics behind thunder. If I’m not careful, I’d come to the conclusion that we don’t invoke Thor (or Jehovah) every time it thunders only because our scientific knowledge has advanced, shrinking the “gaps” in our knowledge that we were forced to fill in with a supernatural entity. If I were really reckless I’d attribute the trendy “germ theory” to an advance in scientific knowledge that made people abandon the idea that illness was caused by demonic posession or out-of-sorts “humours.” But the germ theory is still a theory, and we know what that means.

  8. misanthrope101:

    The problem, you see, is that you are assigning a category-level difference in mistake where there isn’t one. You are assuming that, say, assigning thunder to the godhead is a different level of mistake than, say, alchemy. But the fact is that people make mistakes all the time in assigning causation. This doesn’t make the general search for causitive forces less valuable. Having a mistake of assigning X to God when it does not belong is no different than assigning X to anything else where it does not belong. The point of science is to analyze these from multiple perspectives and determine, as best we are able, what are the appropriate causes for the given effects. It may turn out that cause A is not responsible for effect X, but it is responsible for effect Y which was previously attributable to B.

    The problem with naturalism is that it removes categories of explanation simply because it doesn’t like them. The fact that a category has been misassigned by a person or a group does not mean that such a category is for all times wrong and unusable. It just means *gasp* that it requires analysis. The problem is that materialist philosophy has essentially forbid the study of intelligent causes, so much to the extent that practitioners of science have started to deny reality in a way that borders on the mentally insane.

    Theology is a study of another set of causes as well. I take Paul Nelson’s advice: “Science will have to deal with theological problems if science is a truth-seeking enterprise; theology must confront the patterns of scientific experience if it hopes to speak to all of reality.”

    The fact that you know who I am is irrelevant, especially in the way you put it: “if no one alive had physically ever seen him”. If the Intelligent Designer is God (which I believe it is), then while he hasn’t been seen physically except in the person of Jesus Christ, he is evident to many people throughout multiple cultures in miracles, but also most importantly in transformed lives. If you see the transformation that people can go through in an instant when the know God, you would know that God exists.

    Now, let’s take your example further, though. Let’s say that I find some code posted to Freenet or something, which does not have an author, and noone claims authorship. Is it _then_ reasonable to assume that it had no author? Or is the effect (a well-running computer program) not itself evidence enough of a designer? Or, if you want something self-replicable, how about an Internet virus? Those _are_ subject to random mutation and natural selection, and yet the only evolution we see in them is that which was coded for by the programmers (of course, if we don’t know who they are, then they probably never existed).

  9. 9

    “The problem with naturalism is that it removes categories of explanation simply because it doesn’t like them.”

    Actually, it rejects categories that cannot be studied by physical, verifiable means. That’s pretty clear, and not much of a secret, much less a “gotcha!” Science that tries to investigate the supernatural (or astrology, or ESP) isn’t science anymore. This doesn’t denigrate those other fields of human enquiry, but they do fall outside the scientific method.

    Would you be willing to accept ‘the evidence of things not seen’ as evidence at a murder trial? What if someone looked and sounded sincere, and they assured the jury that Jesus told them that the defendant was innocent? Would you lament the prosecution’s dependence on “naturalistic methodology” when he presented DNA evidence showing guilt? Would you take your loved one to a physician who didn’t believe in the “germ theory,” but wanted to explore “other avenues?” I have met many ID proponents and creationists, but not one who would ever accept this expanded definition of science in any area of their lives OTHER than when talking about evolution and the origin of life. You probably wouldn’t want medicine, legal investigations, or bridge-building conducted via mental models other than naturalistic methodology. Personal relationships, the meaning of life, the questions of conscience, yes, but do you want to fly in an airplane built with deep spiritual conviction, but not with knowledge of naturalistic physics and metallurgy?

    The latter part of your post is still asking me to assume the existence of not just individuals, but entire classes of individuals of which I have no experience. A usenet message is typed on a computer with fingers by someone with fingers (well, there are exceptions for paralytics, etc, but you get the idea). We know the mechanism, we have experience with organisms who do these things, etc. We disagree on a fundamental point, though I understand your decision to characterize the disagreement as denial on my part. Explain to me who or what designed life, how they did it, how long it took, etc, in a way that makes sense and doesn’t invoke faith in the supernatural, and we can talk about that. But there are natural explanations for life that I find credible. The natural world exists, has processes that can create genetic diversity from pre-existent life, and we know that organic molecules (lipids, etc) can develop spontaneously under the correct conditions. It may seem improbable if it hadn’t already happened, but the outcome of a dealt deck of cards was also staggeringly improbable before they were dealt, too. However, we don’t invoke divine intervention every time we deal the cards.

  10. 10

    Secondarily, truth is not the province of science. Truth is the domain of philosophy, art, and if you’re so inclined, religion.

    Science is not about the truth? What’s it about then, lies? I’ll agree with you in the case of neoDarwinian evolution but in the general case science is about seeking the truth – following the evidence wherever it leads. -ds

  11. 11

    Science is about understanding the phsyical world around us, to the extent that this is possible. So accuracy, consistency, perhaps thoroughness. By “truth,” I meant more than mere accuracy or, well, truthfulness. I see your point, strictly speaking, but I was seeing the word in more philosophic, Emersonian way. That, and I can’t get the scene from the Indiana Jones movie out of my head. “Science is about fact. If you’re looking for Truth, philosophy is down the hall.” …or something like that.

  12. misanthrope101:

    “it rejects categories that cannot be studied by physical, verifiable means”

    Everything ID studies that I can think so does so by physical means. I’m not sure what you mean in the context of “verifiable”, especially as evolutionary theory is not “verifiable” by any common sense of the term.

    “Would you lament the prosecution’s dependence on “naturalistic methodology” when he presented DNA evidence showing guilt?”

    It depends on the state of the evidence. If the current evidence points to DNA as being a worthwhile method of showing guilt, then I would have no problem with it. You are doing the very thing that you think that I am doing. The best evidence we have right now indicates a non-material origin of these systems. Yet you refuse to say that this is what is indicates because of your materialism.

    “Would you take your loved one to a physician who didn’t believe in the “germ theory,” but wanted to explore “other avenues?””

    Most definitely. The current science is pointing out that the idea of bacteria and viruses as necessarily problematic is almost wholly false. Most microbes are symbiotic, and actually form the substrate of life on earth. The people who equate microbes with “germs” suffer from an outdated, simplistic view of life. Modern medicine attempts to kill all microbes regardless, which I can only see as being a bad thing, and perhaps screwing up many natural symbionts that would be viewed as “germs” by most doctors.

    “I have met many ID proponents and creationists, but not one who would ever accept this expanded definition of science in any area of their lives OTHER than when talking about evolution and the origin of life.”

    I think that’s because you’re asking bad questions. Why don’t you ask them if consciousness has its roots in material physics. Consciousness is the most universally-experienced phenomena. Yet, as the link I pointed to above shows, materialists are saying it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t mesh with their theories. ID’ers believe in BOTH intelligent and material causes. You seem to think that it proves us wrong because many things have fully material causes. That is simply false. We agree with material causes FOR THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO HAVE A MATERIAL CAUSE, and even perhaps as a default assumption. However, FOR THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO NEED AN INTELLIGENT CAUSE, we posit intelligent causes. How is this difficult to grasp? How is this special pleading (not your words, but what you were suggesting)?

    “You probably wouldn’t want medicine, legal investigations, or bridge-building conducted via mental models other than naturalistic methodology.”

    If legal investigations DON’T entail intelligent causes, then there’s a big problem there. In fact, that was one of Philip Johnson’s main points of “Reason in the Balance”. I also hope that bridge-building and medicine both focus on their _purpose_ as much as the _mechanics_, and purpose is a study in intelligent agency. A medical study divorced from the purposes of medicine would be grave indeed.

    “The latter part of your post is still asking me to assume the existence of not just individuals, but entire classes of individuals of which I have no experience.”

    How do you know? If humans manage to create a living object, then you would no longer have to assume the existence of a new class of individual.

    “Explain to me who or what designed life, how they did it, how long it took, etc, in a way that makes sense and doesn’t invoke faith in the supernatural, and we can talk about that.”

    You are assuming your conclusion. In order to talk about them rationally, you have to be willing to allow for the possibility of the existing of who designed life.

    “But there are natural explanations for life that I find credible.”

    So what? You have no evidence, and a lot of counter-evidence. There were a lot of people who found alchemy credible on the SAME TYPE OF GROUNDS that you find origin-of-life credible (in fact I think that’s what Dembski’s post is on today, though I have not read it yet).

    “The natural world exists, has processes that can create genetic diversity from pre-existent life, and we know that organic molecules (lipids, etc) can develop spontaneously under the correct conditions.”

    In case you missed it, that’s the same kind of humongous leap I alluded to in my allegory. We _know_ intelligent agents can create symbolic codes. We have _never_ seen anything unintelligent create codes. Period.

    “It may seem improbable if it hadn’t already happened, but the outcome of a dealt deck of cards was also staggeringly improbable before they were dealt, too. However, we don’t invoke divine intervention every time we deal the cards.”

    That’s silly logic. Patterns of improbability is the ENTIRE BASIS of science. Have you ever heard someone like Carl Sagan go on and on about error bars? Without error bars, we would have no basis for doing empirical research. Invoking impossibly improbable scenarios is silly. I could say that all of science is false, but only by happenstance we managed to have our data fall in these equations over and over again. Why wouldn’t someone believe that? You can’t prove it’s false. They don’t believe it because the chances are impossibly against it! But for the origin of life, you are asking us to forget all of that, just because it fits in better with materialism.

    “Secondarily, truth is not the province of science.”

    This is silliness. Let’s presume it is true. Then what does science tell us? It would tell us ABSOLUTELY NOTHING EXCEPT EQUATIONS, NUMBERS, AND OTHER DATA POINTS. It would not tell us the mechanism for anything. That would ALL have to fall outside science’s domains. That includes evolution and the origin-of-life, too. Unless you have data or a mathematical model that allows it, then it would be excluded as well.

    Meyer has already done a good job on demarcation arguments (and this is just the tip of the iceberg from him). I suggest you read up on him.

  13. 13

    “science is about seeking the truth – following the evidence wherever it leads”

    And is it possible for the evidence to lead out of the natural world? I can fully understand the evidence being inconclusive, or the answer being “we just don’t know right now,” but what evidence would lead to Zeuss or Shiva? What evidence would lead a studier of the stars to re-evaluate his skepticism of astrology? Is astrology science? Palm reading? Divination? What evidence would lead us to rely on these fields for useful, viable knowledge? See, it isnt’ that I have iron-clad “faith” in evolution, rather that I consider science to be the only flashlight we have to look around and try to understand the world in which we live. It’s either science, or people saying “it was magic!” or variations on that theme. Science is slow, awkward, can be bumbling and wrong, and it subject to the same vanities, hubris, and other sundry mistakes that plague all human endeavor, but the catch is that it’s the only mental model that made air conditioning and penicillin.

    The internal combusion engine, LCD panels, eyeglasses, and the HPV vaccine weren’t built by prayer, but by science. Evolution is the best theory science has right now to explain biodiversity. I’m siding with science because it works. Could it be wrong? Yep. I follow their arguments the best I can, but part of my credulity comes from the vast and varied fruits of science with which I am surrounded. When it comes to the meaning of life, or why we should be good people, or why I love my kids, then yes, give me poetry, the KJV, Milton, Shakespeare, etc. But if you’re building an airplane or designing a new antibiotic, naturalistic methodology is what works. Evolutionary theory is used right now in antibiotic research. Right now, in designing new drugs, new immunizations. It works. Does that mean that every speculation by every evolutionary biologist on what happened in the primordial soup 3.x billion years ago is 100% on-target? No. But who are you going to trust? You have a mental model that creates scientific advancements but admits fallibility, vs a religious model that could never come up with air conditioning or eyeglasses, but claims infallibility–who are you going to side with? Granted, not everyone thinks it’s an either-or proposition. Many Christians pretty happy being theistic evolutionists, but that doesn’t seem to be your bag.

    And is it possible for the evidence to lead out of the natural world?

    No. But it is possible for the evidence to expand the domain we call the natural world to include things we once thought supernatural. If ghosts are found to be real and composed of a form of energy heretofore unknown to us would ghosts still be supernatural or would they then become an understood part of nature? History is littered with supernatural things that science eventually explained in natural terms. -ds

  14. Misanthrope101! Think you hit a nerve there with this group. There are those who obfuse science is all about “useful fictions”—but if that’s the case then there is no difference between science and technology. My guess is that few university ensconced scientists—at least those who thought about it for a few seconds—would concur that science is not about the truth. But then have you ever noticed the knowing looks when the word “truth” is mentioned? I think most of the folks were indoctrinated in ways that escapes me.

  15. 15

    I just find “truth” to be one of those emotionally loaded terms, like “justice” or “morality.” Science certainly doesn’t tell you what kind of person you should be, the meaning of life, or whether or not there is a God. I guess I was thinking of Truth with a capital T. I was trying to distinguish between the sort of truth you may find in The General Theory of Relativity and, say, in Wordsworth’s Prelude. The word can be used in different ways, no?

    It seems I did strike a nerve. Hopefully this will clarify my meaning.

  16. 16

    “Modern medicine attempts to kill all microbes regardless, which I can only see as being a bad thing, and perhaps screwing up many natural symbionts that would be viewed as “germs” by most doctors.”

    Are you suggesting that “most doctors” are ignorant of commensalism, or of normal flora? That’s a pretty bold statement. False, but bold. E. coli in your intestine is normal, but in your eye is rather a bad thing. Are you positing that modern medicine is ignorant of the difference? I’m fairly sure that doctors are aware that killing off all the microbes in your body “regardless” would kill you. This is why they try not to use broad-spectrum antibiotics unless they have to. They kill off normal flora, which, in modern medicine, is known to be a “bad thing.”

    “Consciousness is the most universally-experienced phenomena. Yet, as the link I pointed to above shows, materialists are saying it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t mesh with their theories.”

    Are you suggesting that materialists are denying the existence of consciousness? They are denying the existence of self-awareness? That’s another bold statement. How could they speak? Were they vegetative? How did you interact with them? I understand that they may disagree with you on the origin and nature of self-awareness, but to say that they repudiate its very existence is pushing it a bit far, no?

    “I also hope that bridge-building and medicine both focus on their _purpose_ as much as the _mechanics_”

    Well, yes, that seems to be a given. To build a bridge, you must first come to the conclusion that your purpose is to build a bridge. The purpose of medicine seems to be the cure of disease. We’re talking about the methodologies, not the purposes of actions.

    I’m not big on abiogenesis, which you seem to focus on. The field is, as I’ve said already, very sketchy and speculative. It also is tangential to Darwinian theory, which involves the genetic change in populations that exist, not the question of where that life came from originally. I find Dawkins’ theories intellectually plausible, but, as I’ve said, I can’t say how well that maps to reality. His theories do have the virtue of relying on natural, known processes. Yes, you could spring out of the shrubbery and yell out “It was a leprechaun, you fool! Can’t you see!” and to you, that may represent a cogent, exhaustive analysis, but to me it’s just invoking magic. You could also invoke space aliens, magical green men, or even God. Science deals with this world, the natural world in which we live. Try to expand it outside that, and you have astrology and tea-leave-reading being taught instead of science. We disagree on this, which is not in itself an astounding turn of events.

    It also is tangential to Darwinian theory, which involves the genetic change in populations that exist, not the question of where that life came from originally.

    This is like saying that aircraft are tangential to wings because airplanes already have wings. Non sequitur. Final warning. More thought, less volume. Capisce? -ds

  17. 17
    sagebrush gardener

    misanthrope101 wrote:

    If I were really reckless I’d attribute the trendy “germ theory” to an advance in scientific knowledge that made people abandon the idea that illness was caused by demonic posession or out-of-sorts “humours.”

    It is interesting that misanthrope101 brings up germ theory in support of the view that “[Science] rejects categories that cannot be studied by physical, verifiable means.”

    Germ theory was first proposed millenia before Leeuwenhoek’s invention of the microscope allowed micro-organisms to “be studied by physical, verifiable means”. And it was another 200 years after Leeuwenhoek before germ theory began to be generally accepted due to the work of Pasteur.

  18. OSX == Apple

    You might want to say “Linux or Apple” instead.

    But then again, you might want to say Linux and Apple.

    “UNIX users will feel at home in Darwin, the robust BSD environment that underlies Mac OS X.”

    Apple – Mac OS X – UNIX

    Darwin provides the underlying foundation for Mac OS X.”

    MacDevCenter.com — What Is Darwin (and How It Powers Mac OS X)

    OpenDarwin

  19. Mung –

    It’s the same but different, which is the reason I finally left Linux. It’s much more BSD-ish, though. I’m not a big BSD fan, but having OSX made all parts of my life easier.

  20. 20

    “We have _never_ seen anything unintelligent create codes. Period.”

    I see no reason to infer that there is a code “created” by anything. Something created the genetic code and it IS a code. You’re about one stupid argumentative statement away from being invited to leave this blog. -ds for Self-replicating molecules exist, and the mental model has already been proposed to explain how they could bootstrap into more complex structures. If you come in and say that science’s explanations are inadequate, fine, but that in itself is not an argument for any alternative. If you are making an argument for a designer, let’s hear something about it. What is your theory? Panspermia? God? Who created the aliens, or God, and so on? What theories can you propose? Your entire position can’t be “science doesn’t know.” Even if science is 100% wrong, what have you proposed as an alternative? Have you formulated any tests by which we might begin to examine your hypothesis? Do you have a hypothesis? I’ve said outright that the science behind abiogenesis is conjectural–what else can you give me that makes more sense?

  21. 21
    sagebrush gardener

    misanthrope101 wrote:

    If you are making an argument for a designer…

    Um… I’m sort of new to all this, and I’m not nearly as smart as the others around here. But I have read a little and I know that ID is about detecting design – not identifying the designer. That is why it is called the Intelligent Design movement – not the Intelligent Designer movement.

    The software and hardware I am using to type this message were quite certainly designed, though I don’t have the faintest idea who the designers were. And I am very sure that the house I live in, the clothes I am wearing, and the car in my driveway were all designed though again I do not know, nor do I feel it necessary to determine, the identity of the designers.

    Personally I believe the designer to be God, though I think the identity of the designer is outside the realm of science. You can believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster if you want. ID, as the name implies, is about detecting design, not identifying the designer.

  22. “If you come in and say that science’s explanations are inadequate, fine, but that in itself is not an argument for any alternative.”

    Except that the argument is _for_ a specific alternative — design. We _know_ designers are capable of generating symbolic codes, and our _only_ experience of codes coming about are from designers, therefore, in light of our current knowledge of causation, design is the best explanation that we have for the existence of a code. To argue otherwise would be just as foolish as to look at a thermometer at 96 degrees and say “yes, but how do you know there is not some other cause besides heat that makes the thermometer act that way?” (and in fact, we do know more causes for a thermometer to behave otherwise than we do for the existence of codes, yet still we are able to reasonably assess that the reason for the thermometer saying 96 degrees is that it is _actually_ 96 degrees).

    “Your entire position can’t be “science doesn’t know.” ”

    This is disingenuous for anyone who has paid more than 10 minutes attention to ID.

    “Have you formulated any tests by which we might begin to examine your hypothesis?”

    Very simple. Get a designer to develop a symbolic code. Get an undesigned physical object to develop a symbolic code.

    “I’ve said outright that the science behind abiogenesis is conjectural–what else can you give me that makes more sense?”

    You are supposing that design is an invalid answer. The fact is that in design, while you may be able to answer the “how” (you also may not), the more important questions are the apobetic ones — “why?” and “what purpose?”

    “What is your theory? Panspermia? God? Who created the aliens, or God, and so on? What theories can you propose?”

    I believe in God creating. God is not necessarily in need of being created, because God exists outside of causation (one might say that God created causation itself). I identify the creator with the God of the Bible. However, the need for a designer would continue even if that were to be in error (though I don’t believe that it is). God created, man sinned, the earth was cursed, God judged the earth, God redeemed creation through Jesus, and will restore it to its original glory.

  23. 23

    “You are supposing that design is an invalid answer.”

    No, I’m only asking for more meat to the theory. Darwinian theory, and even the tangential abiogenesis theories, propose a pathway using known, witnessed processes with known chemical reactions, even though the specific pathways from A to B are unknown. At least the framework is intelligible and communicates something, as opposed to a theory about something which cannot, by its very nature, be specified. The need for causal specificity would lead one to favor an explanation with more, not less, specificity. ID proponents demand a complete explanation from the very first self-replicating molecule all the way to Greta Garbo, with every single variation and selection explained in toto, but they’ll readily accept that “the designer need not be specified, as long as we see the need for design?” I’ll take imperfect knowledge over a position that deliberately embraces unknowability.

    propose a pathway using known, witnessed processes with known chemical reactions

    This is simply wrong and I’m sick of correcting you over and over about it. You are imagining chemical reactions that do not exist. Go find another blog. You’re done here. -ds

  24. Completely aside, I find the idea that the ancients invented myth primarily to provide explanations for natural phenomena almost insulting to the ancients. Someone who claims that the Greeks invented Zeus to explain away lightning demonstrates only that they haven’t actually read any Greek myth.

  25. Misanthrope: “ID proponents demand a complete explanation from the very first self-replicating molecule all the way to Greta Garbo, with every single variation and selection explained in toto”

    We’d be happy with a single complete “natural” chemical pathway from the basic constituents for a single mid-sized protein. Strange that one has never been proposed, despite the labour of thousands of true-believers in the god of chance. In every other field (and I think of geochemistry as an excellent example) the “gaps” indeed do fill in. We can look at a rock, it’s crystals and inclusions, and do a thermal/chemical model to explain how it got the way it is. We can often duplicate important parts of orogenesis in the laboratory. In biochemistry, however, the “gaps” just keep getting bigger, the laboratory is no help in retracing origins, because tar seems to be about all you can produce from amino acids once you remove all the extra controls and intelligence from the process.

    “God of the gaps?” Yeh, God owns those gaps and he’s getting mighty ticked off at those who deny the obvious when they stare it in the face. (Like denying that the genetic code is a code – then what the heck is it!?)

    Misanthrope is no longer with us for that and many similarly uninformed and unreasoned statements. I suspect he/she has been here before using a different name and was booted out then too for the same cause. -ds

  26. SCheesman: because tar seems to be about all you can produce from amino acids once you remove all the extra controls and intelligence from the process

    Your statement reminded me of this quote from Fred Hoyle:

    “If there were a basic principle of matter which somehow drove organic systems toward life, its existence should easily be demonstrable in the laboratory. One could, for instance, take a swimming bath to represent the primordial soup. Fill it with any chemicals of a non-biological nature you please. Pump any gases over it, or through it, you please, and shine any kind of radiation on it that takes your fancy.

    Let the experiment proceed for a year and see how many of those 2,000 enzymes [proteins produced by living cells] have appeared in the bath. I will give the answer, and so save the time and trouble and expense of actually doing the experiment. You would find nothing at all, except possibly for a tarry sludge composed of amino acids and other simple organic chemicals.

    How can I be so confident of this statement? Well, if it were otherwise, the experiment would long since have been done and would be well-known and famous throughout the world. The cost of it would be trivial compared to the cost of landing a man on the Moon…….In short there is not a shred of objective evidence to support the hypothesis that life began in an organic soup here on the Earth.”

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