Home » Intelligent Design » FOLLOW UP: Have we profoundly misunderstood Harvard Evolutionary Biologist Richard Lewontin in his Jan 1997 NYRB article, “Billions and Billions of Demons”?, PART 2

FOLLOW UP: Have we profoundly misunderstood Harvard Evolutionary Biologist Richard Lewontin in his Jan 1997 NYRB article, “Billions and Billions of Demons”?, PART 2

On October 16, in response to a comment by frequent UD commenter Dr Liddle to the effect that we have misunderstood Harvard prof Lewontin in the infamous 1997 NYRB article snippet, I did a markup of the snippet highlighting fourteen points of concern:

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>> . . . to put a correct view of the universe [1 --> a claim to holding truth, not just an empirically reliable, provisional account] into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out [2 --> an open ideological agenda] . . . the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations [3 --> a declaration of cultural war], and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [ 4 --> this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [5 --> a self evident claim is that this is true, must be true and its denial is patently absurd. But actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question, confused for real self-evidence] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [6 --> Science gives reality, reality is naturalistic and material], and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [7 --> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim: if you reject naturalistic, materialistic evolutionism, you are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, by direct implication] . . . .

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world [8 --> redefines science as a material explanation of the observed world], but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [9 --> another major begging of the question . . . by imposition of a priori materialism as a worldview that then goes on to control science as its handmaiden and propaganda arm that claims to be the true prophet of reality, the only begetter of truth] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. [10 --> In short, even if the result is patently absurd on its face, it is locked in, as materialistic "science" is now our criterion of truth!] Moreover, that materialism is absolute [11 --> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [12 --> Hostility to the divine is embedded, from the outset, as per the dismissal of the "supernatural"] The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. [13 --> a slightly more sophisticated form of Dawkins' ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, certainly, irrational. This is a declaration of war! Those who believe in God, never mind the record of history, never mind the contributions across the ages, are dismissed as utterly credulous and irrational, dangerous and chaotic] To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen. [14 --> Perhaps the second saddest thing is that some actually believe that these last three sentences that express hostility to God and then back it up with a loaded strawman caricature of theism and theists JUSTIFY what has gone on before. As a first correction, accurate history -- as opposed to the commonly promoted rationalist myth of the longstanding war of religion against science -- documents (cf. here for a start) that the Judaeo-Christian worldview nurtured and gave crucial impetus to the rise of modern science through its view that God as creator made and sustains an orderly world. Similarly, for miracles -- e.g. the resurrection of Jesus -- to stand out as signs pointing beyond the ordinary course of the world, there must first be such an ordinary course, one plainly amenable to scientific study. The saddest thing is that many are now so blinded and hostile that, having been corrected, they will STILL think that this justifies the above. But, nothing can excuse the imposition of a priori materialist censorship on science, which distorts its ability to seek the empirically warranted truth about our world.]

[[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997.] >>

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On Oct 22, Dr Liddle has made a main response, which I now present below, and insert markups in dark red, continuing my enumeration from 15 on:

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>> First of all, the NYRB article was a review of a book by Carl Sagan, called The Demon-haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. It is very important, I would argue, to keep this in mind as you read the review. [ 15 --> Yes, it is a review; it is also an article in its own right, as many NYRB articles are.]

Lewontin starts off by contrasting Sagan with Gould: Gould, he says, was concerned to explain how knowledge is constructed; Sagan’s project, he says, is “more elementary” – simply to disseminate a “knowledge of the facts”. But he then says:

But Sagan realizes that the project of merely spreading knowledge of objective facts about the universe is insufficient. First, no one can know and understand everything. Even individual scientists are ignorant about most of the body of scientific knowledge, and it is not simply that biologists do not understand quantum mechanics. If I were to ask my colleagues in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard to explain the evolutionary importance of RNA editing in trypanosomes, they would be just as mystified by the question as the typical well-educated reader of this review.

This paragraph is vital as it puts your first quotation into perspective. Let me emphasise: Lewontin is emphasising the ignorance of scientists, and the fact that “no one can know and understand everything”. [16 --> Far more, he is emphasising genuflection of science and scientists before a priori materialism, and of the public before all three] This is important, because what follows is that in some respects, we have no choice but to accept an expert view. [17 --> Not at all, we have no reasonable choice but to test and indeed audit experts to see that they are expert, and that they have got their facts straight, their reasoning correct, and use assumptions that do not beg big questions before the facts are allowed to speak; no expert is better than his or her facts, assumptions and reasonings. Genuflecting before a new Magisterium in the holy lab coat is no better than doing he same before a magisterium dressed in ecclesiastical robes.] We cannot afford simply to disbelieve a scientific proposition simply because we personally do not understand the evidence and reasoning that went behind it. [18 --> A big question is being set up to be begged here, the issue is not whether we have no capacity to understand, as an assumption, but whether we do understand the key logic of an imposed censoring a priori all too well] In order to do this, clearly, it is important, Lewontin goes on to say, that we establish a “social and and intellectual apparatus” that can, on our behalf, establish truth. [19 --> Sorry, we have no duty to surrender out minds and blindly genuflect before any  social and intellectual apparatus that presents itself to us as the prophet of truth]  This “social and intellectual apparatus” he says, is Science. [20 --> You have neatly sidestepped the key, self-refuting slipup at this point that causes the whole exercise to crash in flames:  Lewontin actually writes " to put a correct view of the universe  into people’s heads [this is the PUBLIC he speaks of not scientists bowing with professional deference before other fields] we [the new magisterium of scientists] must first get an incorrect view out  . . . the problem is to get them [ordinary people] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations , and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth.” But, patently, this is a PHILOSOPHICAL not a scientific assertion — and a gross blunder in phil at that, which is not even a field of expertise of scientists, and it refutes itself. Crash! In addition, it is a worldview agenda, and people have a democratic right to demand an explanation and accountability.] Now I am convinced, although I may be wrong, that when Lewontin talks about “truth” he is not talking about philosophical or moral truths, but simply about what causes what – the truth about how tornados form; what makes thunder and lightning; where mountains come from; why we get smallpox; why some children are born with Down Syndrome; why we get cancer – this becomes very clear as we go through the review. [21 --> Nope, this is the terms on which he discusses truth and reality: "To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality". A self-evident truth is one that is necessarily true and patently necessarily true on pain of reduction to absurdity, and "reality", "physical reality" to a materialist is all of reality. So, he IS claiming to have cornered the market on truth, and he is claiming that the truths of science are what puts us in contact with reality.]  On that assumption [22 --> So, everything beyond this point is error carried forward] I will proceed: However, Lewontin next says, that to ready ourselves for reception of the propositions that science will present us with, but which most of us will be ill-equipped to check personally, first we have to rid ourselves of erroneous ideas. [23 --> He says much more, he in effect dismisses anything outside the materialist circle of self evidently reliable scientific/materialistic truth as irrational, from the outset. That is, he has massively begged the question.] So here is your first commented quotation:

[Second] to put a correct view of the universe
[1 --> a claim to holding truth, not just an empirically reliable, provisional account] into people’s heads
we must first get an incorrect view out
[2 --> an open ideological agenda]

Which you comment amounts to “a claim to holding truth, not just an empirically reliable, provisional account into peoples heads”, and “[opening an] ideological agenda”. (I hope I have parsed your comments correctly). No, I don’t think he is doing this at all,  and he certainly doesn’t say so [24 --> As just shown again, that is exactly what he did and did say, cf the above marked up cite]. In the context I have just given, it seems to me he is quite clearly saying: we need to construct a “social and intellectual apparatus”, namely Science, which will reliably tell us the truth about things we ourselves cannot be equipped to check, but in order to receive such knowledge, we must first rid ourselves of what has been shown to be false. [25 --> He does so by blundering unbeknownst into self referential absurdity] This interpretation is to my mind supported by the immediately following passage, that ends immediately before your next quote:

People believe a lot of nonsense about the world of phenomena, nonsense that is a consequence of a wrong way of thinking. [26 --> PEOPLE, not scientists, and the next point is that we already have seen a self-refuting claim at the outset for the scientists; a self-refuting claim is necessarily irrational, and irretrievably fails the very first test of rationality: coherence] The primary problem is not to provide the public with the knowledge of how far it is to the nearest star and what genes are made of, for that vast project is, in its entirety, hopeless.

[ [Rather, ] the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations
[3 --> a declaration of cultural war],
and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth.
[ 4 --> this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting] [27 --> We have gone in a circle, but this shows the basic point, science is being turned into an ideology held by a magisterium of materialistic priests dressed in the holy lab coat, before whom the ignorant and incompetent unwashed masses are to genuflect humbly.]

As I see it “explanations” for natural events (lightning-bolt-hurling gods; disease-causing witches; fiery horses pulling the chariot of the sun across the sky), and delegate the task of explaining these things to a social and intellectual apparatus (i.e. system of methodologies) we call “Science”. [28 --> You have ducked out on the first major problem, self referential absurdity, as was there from step one.]You, on the other hand, read it as a “declaration of cultural war” and a “self-refuting” philosophical claim. [29 --> I did not just declare, I  SHOWED. A claim to ground knowledge and to be the only reliable ground of knowledge is not a scientific claim, but properly belongs to the field known as epistemology. AmHD: "The branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity."] I think this is quite wrong. On the assumption that I have made that Lewontin is talking about “factual” truth, not “moral” or “philosophical” truth, which may of course be wrong, but I don’t think so, I think that all he is saying is something with which you would probably agree [30 --> Nope, he is making a claim about the grounds of knowledge, and the validity of knowledge claims, i.e. and epistemological statement, and one that denies to epistemological statements -- which are not scientific but actually prior to science --  the possibility of being valid] : that post-Enlightenment, instead of resorting to “superstitious” explanations of natural phenomena, and consulting oracles, or witch-doctors, or even priests about how the universe works, we delegate the task of finding out those explanations to the “social and cultural apparatus” of Science. [31 --> Nope, he has made a far stronger claim than this, and in so doing he has set up a new materialist priesthood before whom he expects the unwashed masses to mindlessly genuflect.]
He then sets up his argument that “the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality” [32 --> Again, you skip over the key point, the claim to SELF-EVIDENCE, i.e to necessary and patent truth on pain of immediate absurdity; this is an extremely strong epistemological and logical assertion]  thus confirming btw, my interpretation that what he is talking about is, merely “physical reality” not moral or philosophical truth. [33 --> To the self-confessed materialist,there are no other truths than physical truths, for there is no reality beyond the material] To do so he says:

The reason that people do not have a correct view of nature is not that they are ignorant of this or that fact about the material world, but that they look to the wrong sources in their attempt to understand…Sagan’s argument is straightforward. We exist as material beings in a material world, all of whose phenomena are the consequences of physical relations among material entities. The vast majority of us do not have control of the intellectual apparatus needed to explain manifest reality in material terms, so in place of scientific (i.e., correct material) explanations, we substitute demons. As one bit of evidence for the bad state of public consciousness, Sagan cites opinion polls showing that the majority of Americans believe that extraterrestrials have landed from UFOs. The demonic, for Sagan, includes, in addition to UFOs and their crews of little green men who take unwilling passengers for a midnight spin and some wild sex, astrological influences, extrasensory perception, prayers, spoon-bending, repressed memories, spiritualism, and channeling, as well as demons sensu strictu, devils, fairies, witches, spirits, Satan and his devotees, and, after some discreet backing and filling, the supposed prime mover Himself. God gives Sagan a lot of trouble. It is easy enough for him to snort derisively at men from Mars, but when it comes to the Supreme Extraterrestrial he is rather circumspect, asking only that sermons “even-handedly examine the God hypothesis.”

The fact that so little of the findings of modern science is prefigured in Scripture to my mind casts further doubt on its divine inspiration.

But of course, I might be wrong.

I doubt that an all-seeing God would fall for Pascal’s Wager, but the sensibilities of modern believers may indeed be spared by this Clintonesque moderation.

Although Lewontin doesn’t think much of Sagan’s “But of course I might be wrong” in regard to God, in no way does he contradict it. On the other hand, he thorough approves (as presumably you would too) the rejection of “to UFOs and their crews of little green men who take unwilling passengers for a midnight spin and some wild sex, astrological influences, extrasensory perception, prayers [34 --> No5tice how prayers are discredited by invidious association, as I pointed out repeatedly before; in fact there is serious evidence known to millions that prayers are heard and answered; of course there are those who insist on dismissing the evidence without a fair or serious hearing], spoon-bending, repressed memories, spiritualism, and channeling, as well as demons sensu strictu, devils, fairies, witches, spirits, Satan and his devotees”. And he also approves that fact that:

Most of the chapters of The Demon-Haunted World are taken up with exhortations to the reader to cease whoring after false gods and to accept the scientific method as the unique pathway to a correct understanding of the natural world.

Again we see, supporting my assumption, that all Lewontin is talking about is “a correct understanding of the natural world”, [35 --> Nope, as shown above he is saying a LOT more than that, and he is saying it in a way that builds on major worldview question-begging and self-referentially absurd assertions] and commends the Scientific Method as the unique pathway to that understanding. [36 --> there is no one THE scientific method, nor do scientific methods have any hope of being THE only begetter of truth; a point you conveniently failed to seriously come to grips with] Now you may disagree that the Scientific Method is a good pathway to understanding the natural world [37 --> Projection, scientific investigations are capable of providing empirically reliable results, that we may use, but they are incapable of guaranteeing truth or of being the ONLY begetter of truth] , in which case you not only disagree with Sagan and Lewontin but with me! And, I suggest, with a good many ID proponents as well. [38 --> Strawman, laced with ad hominems, cf discussion here that you have been pointed to ever so many times] You then quote what follows:

[To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident
[5 --> a self evident claim is that this is true, must be true and its denial is patently absurd. But actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question, confused for real self-evidence]
that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality
[6 --> Science gives reality, reality is naturalistic and material],
and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test.
[7 --> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim: if you reject naturalistic, materialistic evolutionism, you are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, by direct implication] . . . .

You interpret Lewontin as saying that reality is natural. [39 --> To a materialist, self confessed,as is in the clip, reality is: material, or physical. That is a matter of definition. AmHD again: "1. Philosophy 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."] I think he is saying exactly what he says explicitly, namely that physical reality (why would he add that adjective otherwise?) is “natural”. [40 --> to the materialist, and he explicitly acknowledges this view even as an ABSOLUTE, physical reality constitutes reality] What else would physical reality be? Why else would physics be called Natural Science? We even talk about the laws of physics as “the laws of nature” which, some claim, are occasionally suspended for Divine purposes. [41 --> Strawman, off on a red herring] In contrast, he says, explanations that invoke demons and sprites and naiads and dryads and nereids – the pantheon of “nature spirits” that served for “explanations” of natural phenomena and had to be appeased in order that the world would continue to turn and the rains arrive “fail every reasonable test”. And they do. Don’t they? [42 --> And, pray tell what was the frame of thought in which Newton penned his General Scholium to Principia, or Query 31 to Opticks? Did he appeal to "demons and sprites and naiads and dryads and nereids" or to "an intelligent and powerful Being . . . . Lord God pantokrator , or Universal Ruler" and even "the Counsel of an intelligent Agent"? Is the epistemic, evidentiary  status of God the same as sprites etc? (Onlookers, cf here on) Is this not patently an utterly unworthy strawman misrepresentation?]

So he then asks [43 --> Building on a strawman caricature]:

So why do so many people believe in demons? Sagan seems baffled, and nowhere does he offer a coherent explanation of the popularity at the supermarket checkout counter of the Weekly World News, with its faked photographs of Martians. …
Nearly every present-day scientist would agree with Carl Sagan that our explanations of material phenomena exclude any role for supernatural demons, witches, and spirits of every kind, including any of the various gods from Adonai to Zeus. …

Sagan believes that scientists reject sprites, fairies, and the influence of Sagittarius because we follow a set of procedures, the Scientific Method, which has consistently produced explanations that put us in contact with reality and in which mystic forces play no part. For Sagan, the method is the message, but I think he has opened the wrong envelope.

And here is where Lewontin gets interesting. Sagan, he says, thinks it is the Scientific Method that leads scientists to reject the “demons” of pre-Enlightenment. Lewontin begs to differ, and, indeed, goes on to say a great deal that you probably agree with!

First of all, having noted that Sagan doesn’t actually describe the Scientific Method, but attempts to show that it works. Lewontin demolishes each of these claims in turn:

First, we are told that science “delivers the goods.” It certainly has, sometimes, but it has often failed when we need it most. Scientists and their professional institutions, partly intoxicated with examples of past successes, partly in order to assure public financial support, make grandiose promises that cannot be kept.

and he goes on to note various failures of science to deliver on big promises. Then he says:

Second, it is repeatedly said that science is intolerant of theories without data and assertions without adequate evidence. But no serious student of epistemology any longer takes the naive view of science as a process of Baconian induction from theoretically unorganized observations. There can be no observations without an immense apparatus of preexisting theory. Before sense experiences become “observations” we need a theoretical question, and what counts as a relevant observation depends upon a theoretical frame into which it is to be placed. Repeatable observations that do not fit into an existing frame have a way of disappearing from view, and the experiments that produced them are not revisited. In the 1930s well-established and respectable geneticists described “dauer-modifications,” environmentally induced changes in organisms that were passed on to offspring and only slowly disappeared in succeeding generations. As the science of genetics hardened, with its definitive rejection of any possibility of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, observations of dauer-modifications were sent to the scrapheap where they still lie, jumbled together with other decommissioned facts.

A man after my own heart! He agrees with me that “facts” at one levels are merely “models” at another, and must themselves be subject to scrutiny, and their provisional nature borne in mind.

Then he says:

Third, it is said that there is no place for an argument from authority in science. [44 --> cf what has already been pointed out] The community of science is constantly self-critical, as evidenced by the experience of university colloquia “in which the speaker has hardly gotten 30 seconds into the talk before there are devastating questions and comments from the audience.” [45 --> Within the materialist circle . . . that is the issue, all of this is distractive] If Sagan really wants to hear serious disputation about the nature of the universe, he should leave the academic precincts in Ithaca and spend a few minutes in an Orthodox study house in Brooklyn.

In other words, a religious organisation can put scientists to shame when it comes to self-criticism!
And he adds, amplifying his earlier point, that while

within each narrowly defined scientific field there is a constant challenge to new technical claims and to old wisdom

He readily concedes that outside

….the bounds of their own specialty they have no choice but to accept the claims of authority, even though they do not know how solid the grounds of those claims may be. Who am I to believe about quantum physics if not Steven Weinberg, or about the solar system if not Carl Sagan? What worries me is that they may believe what Dawkins and Wilson tell them about evolution.

Eat that, Dawkins :)

He then re-frames his question: why do scientists believe the propositions of science? Not because those propositions are, intuitively, credible, he says:

Many of the most fundamental claims of science are against common sense and seem absurd on their face. Do physicists really expect me to accept without serious qualms that the pungent cheese that I had for lunch is really made up of tiny, tasteless, odorless, colorless packets of energy with nothing but empty space between them? [46 --> No, we don't, we invite you to look at the chain of evidence that led to that conclusion, which is open to public inspection, and which is actually largely comprehensible by an intelligent 12 year old, starting from say Rutherford's alpha particles fired at Gold foil experiments: why do some of these heavy and fast moving particles bounce right back. He said it was like firing a 15 inch naval shell at a sheet of tissue paper and having it bounce back and hit you.]  Astronomers tell us without apparent embarrassment that they can see stellar events that occurred millions of years ago, whereas we all know that we see things as they happen. [47 --> He is mixing in a big chain of inference here, the astronomers are inferring on the distance metrics for the cosmos [from parallax to Delta Cepheid variables to supernovae as standard candles etc etc], which are a deep ladder of inference, and then on the conditions and assumptions about the past of light. There is a telling jump from the present to the deep, unobserved past that is done without explanation.] When, at the time of the moon landing, a woman in rural Texas was interviewed about the event, she very sensibly refused to believe that the television pictures she had seen had come all the way from the moon, on the grounds that with her antenna she couldn’t even get Dallas. [48 --> this is of course the key point where he tellingly omits to mention that the man who sent the rocket to the moon was a Christian and a Creationist, von Braun] What seems absurd depends on one’s prejudice. [49 --> it also depends on what one may know of logic and epistemology, which Lewontin et al failed at he outset] Carl Sagan accepts, as I do, the duality of light, which is at the same time wave and particle, but he thinks that the consubstantiality of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost puts the mystery of the Holy Trinity “in deep trouble.” Two’s company, but three’s a crowd.

In other words: why are scientists prepared to accept such unlikely propositions as wave-particle duality, which comes from scientists, yet balk at the Holy Trinity, which does not?

This is the question that Lewontin attempts to address in the passage you take most vigorous exception to. He starts by saying:

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural.

So what is this key?

He answers:

We [i.e.scientists] take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories,because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

[ It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world
[8 --> redefines science as a material explanation of the observed world],
but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes
[9 --> another major begging of the question . . . by imposition of a priori materialism as a worldview that hen goes on to control science as its handmaiden and propaganda arm that claims to be the true prophet of reality, the only begetter of truth]
to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.
[10 --> In short, even if the result is patently absurd on its face, it is locked in, as materialistic "science" is now our criterion of truth!]
Moreover, that materialism is absolute
[11 --> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ],
for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
[12 --> Hostility to the divine is embedded, from the outset, as per the dismissal of the "supernatural"]

To which you object that he redefines science as a material explanation for the observed world. [49 --> He actually does so right before our eyes. Are you arguing to "Don't believe yer lyin eyes?]

No, he doesn’t “redefine science” thus. Science is thus already defined. [50 --> On the contrary, this is one of the classic points where we see a redefinition in progress, and we get to see the materialist cat let out of the science bag.] The entire scientific project is, as he points out, set up to find out what, rather than nature-spirits and demons, cause the phenomena we observe in the observed world. There is no scientific method for testing a supernatural hypothesis, as we have been discussing on the “miracles” thread [51 --> And as has been conveniently neglected, there IS a sci9entific method for distinguishing nature from art, and there is a valid scientific way to see that something is beyond the explanations of science, e.g if we have good observational evidence and/or testimony that leads us to see that a resurrection from death has occurred, that is beyond scientific forces or explanation.] , because scientific methodology involves deriving predictive hypotheses, and miracles, by definition, cannot be predicted. As you seemed to agree when you dismissed (rightly IMO) the big study that showed no effect of prayer. Science operates entirely in the domain of the predictable – it seeks to derive general laws that allow us to make predictive models of the observed world. [52 --> No, there are many explanations in science that do not pivot on natural law, especially when we turn to explaining the unique, unobserved deep past of origins] This is not a “redefinition”. As Galileo allegedly said: “eppur si muove” [53 --> he actually did not say this, and the whole Galileo episode as popularly understood is seriously historically distorted.] – our models need to predict data, so that they can be tested against data.

You also claim that he advocates that science be the “handmaiden” of materialism. [54 --> Do you not notice his pretty direct statements on this? "It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world , but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes  to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.  Moreover, that materialism is absolute . . ." Do you not see why I therefore marked this up as follows:

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world [8 --> redefines science as a material explanation of the observed world], but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [9 --> another major begging of the question . . . by imposition of a priori materialism as a worldview that then goes on to control science as its handmaiden and propaganda arm that claims to be the true prophet of reality, the only begetter of truth] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. [10 --> In short, even if the result is patently absurd on its face, it is locked in, as materialistic "science" is now our criterion of truth!] Moreover, that materialism is absolute]

No, he does not. What he says that having set out to discover natural explanations of phenomena our methodology must be such that natural explanations are what it produces, no matter how counter-intuitive those explanations turn out to be. [55 --> by a long shot, that is NOT all he says.] That is not making science the handmaiden of any “ism” at all – it is devising a methodological “apparatus” that will generate explanations that deliver reliable predictions, no matter how counter-intuitive those explanations may be. [56 --> This is, simply counter factual] To which of course you object! [57 --> Also, it is NOT about reliable predictions, it is about MATERIAL EXPLANATIONS and a MATERIALISM that is ABSOLUTE]

This is not surprising, given what I consider a misreading of his intention. [58 --> taking time to go through, it is increasingly evident that the problem is that I and others have read Lewontin all too accurately] But what you are reading as the forcing of the improbable at the expense of the supernatural is, I would argue something quite different: what he is saying is that by rigorously insisting that our models deliver reliable predictions [59 --> He is simply not talking in terms of reliable predictions, but in terms of material explanations, and indeed say the FSCI criterion, Chi_500 = I*S - 500 bits beyond the solar system threshold, is quite reliable where we can test it. It is unacceptable to the a priori materialists because it points to life as being designed, not because it is unreliable.] even when they are counter-intuitive, we can trust what they deliver, unbiased by any a priori ideas about what is, and is not, likely. [60 --> Notice, we have an explicit declaration of a priori materialism that is here bei9ng dismissed as though it is not there right out in public for all to see.] For example, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics are both extremely counter-intuitive – nonsense, on face value. Yet they deliver reliable predictions that other previous models did not. [61 --> Strawman] That insistence on reliable predictions [62 --> Drumbeat repetitions of a demonstrably false declaration in the teeth of the actual fact on record for direct inspection, do not transmute the politically correct version into the truth in place of the evident but unwelcome truth] is what guarantees even the most counter-intuitive of claims. But by insisting on reliable predictions [63 --> Drumbeat repetition] , by the same token, we must exclude causal mechanisms that posit a “demon” [64 --> Strawman] – or, rather, in less fancily poetic terms, we must assume that the universe obeys its own laws. [65 --> the universe is an inanimate object, it is incapable of legislating laws for itself; it follows a set of laws, parameters and physics that are credibly massively finely tuned to facilitate C-chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based life. What best explains that?]That is the price of our confidence in counter-intuitive propositions. This is why he says the “adherence is absolute”. [66 --> Not at all, as we can simply inspect from the actual text, he has set up a materialist a priori, and he censors explanations to fit it.] Not because he has a “fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind” nor because of “hostility to the divine” but because scientists (remember he is talking about scientists) can only uncover predictive models. [67 --> Strawman. He is setting up an a priori constraint on especially deep past origins that forces scientists to infer to materialistic miracles, of digital codes and algorithms as well as underlying languages writing themselves out of molecular noise even though the number of Planck Time Quantum states of the observable universe are nowhere near sufficient for that to be remotely plausible, and to infer to an unobserved -- metaphysical speculative -- quasi-infinite multiverse with sub cosmi so scattered in parameter space that we got lucky. This is the result of an a priori and it ends up wedging in essentially philosophical speculations that have as their principal merit that they fit with a materialist picture of the origin of the cosmos, not because they fit with what we know reliably from empirical investigations on the origin of functionally specific complex organisation and/or information: this, reliably; comes form intelligent design.] What he is saying – and it’s a somewhat subtle point – is that it is only because scientists know that in non-predictive models (as non-material models must be) are rigorously excluded [68 --> Strawman. Intelligence can reliably be detected form traces as just outlined, and this is known and routinely relied on in many scientific fields, jut it is suppressed though materialist a prioris in origins studies, because there is a controlling, censoring worldview: materialism] that can they have any grounds for believing the hugely counter-intuitive models they may be presented with. [69 --> False. Scientific models as a norm,  stand for their footing on empirically tested reliability, and on inference to best current explanation in light of the observed facts. Except where the materialistic a priori prevails]  To take the quantum example – if we thought that scientists could posit mischievous pixies [70 --> Double strawman. First, this is a case of explanation by mechanical forces and chance variations. Second, the issue to be explained in the cases of origin of life and related major body plans is FSCI, which is KNOWN to be explained on intelligence, with high reliability, similarly the issue on the origin of the cosmos is FSCO which is similarly reliably explained. Save, where the a priori is acting.] to account for quantum weirdness, we’d have no reason to prefer science over pixies. [71 --> appeal to ridicule by strawman caricature]  But because we know they can’t, however pixie-like their propositions are, we can grant them credibility [72 --> Begging the question, and resting on a strawman. In my Quantum physics studies,the issue pivoted first on explaining a direct observable: the spectrum of cavity radiation. The models could not explain the peaked curve until Planck used quanta, and he could not reduce to infinitesimals. Then Einstein came along and won a Nobel Prize for explaining the photoeffect on quanta. This was inference to best explanation without any appeal to materialistic a prioris whatsoever. ].
Which is why Lewontin then quotes Beck:

[The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything.
[13 --> a slightly more sophisticated form of Dawkins' ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, certainly, irrational. This is a declaration of war! Those who believe in God, never mind the record of history, never mind the contributions across the ages, are dismissed as utterly credulous and irrational, dangerous and chaotic]

No it isn’t. Nothing like, though it is certainly provocative. It is explained by his next sentence:

[To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

He is saying that in science appeals to a deity are in effect to allow that science is useless – [73 --> he is saying MUCH more than that, he is dismissing those who believe in God as utterly irrational and chaotic. Again, you are clouding the actual direct, cat-out-of-the-bag  words] that none of our data can be trusted, that statistically “significant” effects may be “non-significant” and “non-significant” effects may be “significant”, and there is no way to tell, because at any time, the omnipotent deity may be monkeying with the laws we are trying to retrieve. [74 --> Strawman and appeal to ridicule. Of course this dodges the very reason why on theistic worldviews miracles will precisely be rare, and the course of nature will be reliable. THE VERY NATURE OF MIRACLES AS SIGNS THAT POINT BEYOND THE USUAL COURSE OF THE WORLD TO A SUPERVENING ORDER REQUIRES IT. I notice, you ignore what was said in response and reply to yet another strawman.] That is why science cannot “appeal to an omnipotent deity”. It doesn’t mean that God can’t exist, or must be denied; it does mean that supernatural hypotheses have no place – and can have no place – in science. [75 --> Material misrepresentation: the issue is not supernatural hypotheses but he abuse of imposing a materialistic a priori to censor out inferences that may point to an inconvenient intelligence on known and reliable signs of intelligent activity. This, backed up by misrepresentation of the theistic view of the nature and incidence of miracles.]
I’m sure you disagree, but what I am trying to explain is that this is not a “declaration of war” but a perfectly standard view of science[76 --> Kindly see just above, how would you take it if you were misrepresented, caricatured, ridiculed, and dismissed as we just saw?] , held by theist and non-theist scientists alike, and even by many theist non-scientists – and expressed by Gould in his phrase “non-overlapping magisteria”. [77 --> Which is actually a similar trick. Since "science" is the only begetter of truth, then theology is a fading appeal to superstition and rubbish, to be of no account and to be locked out of serious thinking. It is safe to invidiously compare it to superstition that no one takes seriously, and it is reasonable to impose a prioris to lock it out of interfering with serious thinking. Never mind the philosophical blunders involved, all is safe because it is a material universe anyway. See the big begged questions? And, of course the scientific issue is not theology but locking out inconvenient inference to intelligence as cause on inconveniently reliable sins like FSCO/I.]
Finally you say:

[ [14 --> Perhaps the second saddest thing is that some actually believe that these last three sentences that express hostility to God and then back it up with a loaded strawman caricature of theism and theists JUSTIFY what has gone on before. As a first correction, accurate history -- as opposed to the commonly promoted rationalist myth of the longstanding war of religion against science -- documents (cf. here for a start) that the Judaeo-Christian worldview nurtured and gave crucial impetus to the rise of modern science through its view that God as creator made and sustains an orderly world. Similarly, for miracles -- e.g. the resurrection of Jesus -- to stand out as signs pointing beyond the ordinary course of the world, there must first be such an ordinary course, one plainly amenable to scientific study. The saddest thing is that many are now so blinded and hostile that, having been corrected, they will STILL think that this justifies the above. But, nothing can excuse the imposition of a priori materialist censorship on science, which distorts its ability to seek the empirically warranted truth about our world.]

There is no “censorship” of science, kairosfocus, at least not in the manner you seem to think [78 --> this is a case of: "don't believe yer lyin eyes." Sorry, Dr Liddle, we SAW for ourselves what was said by Lewontin, in support of Sagan, and we see for ourselves what backs it up from the US NAS, NSTA etc.], and Lewontin IMO is not advocating censorship. [79 --> he plainly is: " we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes  to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute . . . "]What he is saying is that the Scientific Method necessarily excludes supernatural hypotheses, not ideologically but methodologically. [80 --> Switcheroo. Sorry, as just cited again, the MATERIALISM is a priori, the created apparatus of investigation censored by it so it conforms to it is secondary and derivative] The project of Science is to retrieve the natural laws that underpin the universe. [81 --> Misconception, the project of science seeks top progressively discover the truth about our world based on observation, unfettered inference to best explanation, prediction, testing and reasoned discussion among the informed. Some of that traces to lawlike patterns of forces of necessity, some of that traces to chance circumstances and factors, and some of it traces to intelligence.]  It cannot retrieve any causal agency that is not subject to those natural laws. [82 --> Intelligence leaves empirically reliable traces that can be studied empirically and seen as reliable. that gives us the epistemic right to use these traces as signs of intelligence, as signatures if you will. That is how we can come across a strangely shaped or arranged rock and decide if it is natural or artificial. It is how we can see a coded object, machine language program and identify it as designed without directly seeing the author in action or knowing what method he used to write it, and it is how we see code in the living cell and have every reason to infer that it is designed. Absent a priori materialism waring the lab coat with the label: methodological naturalism forbids . . . tut tut] If it adjusts its methods in order to accommodate such hypotheses, we are back in the situation of being unable to distinguish between Quantum Weirdness and mere Woo. [82 --> Strawman and ridicule] Science cannot illuminate the supernatural – it can’t even illuminate the Divine. [83 --> Strawman and red herring, the real issue is to identify on empirically reliable signs what traces to chance, necessity and intelligence as causal factors.]For that you need theology, or philosophy, or, indeed, a pure heart. But not science!>>

_______________

Having spent a fair bit of time working through the above, I can best conclude by pointing to Philip Johnson’s apt rejoinder to Lewontin in Nov 1997:

For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original, colour added] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”
. . . .   The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

All the above has done is to underscore that Johnson saw though the problem of fatally begged questions, right from the beginning. let us hope that we can learn from that. END

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67 Responses to FOLLOW UP: Have we profoundly misunderstood Harvard Evolutionary Biologist Richard Lewontin in his Jan 1997 NYRB article, “Billions and Billions of Demons”?, PART 2

  1. Even if Lewontin is a dogmatic, a priori philosophical materialist, which may or may not be true — the article is rather rambling and confusing when read in toto — he appears to be *disagreeing* with Carl Sagan, who took an empiricist approach. Thus at best you’ve got one guy in the scientific community disagreeing with another guy, not some kind of proof about anything about the scientific community or science in general.

  2. Dr Matzke,

    You are wrong, and you know or should know you are wrong; this is no mere idiosyncratic, minority, personal view — as Lewontin himself says when he notes “To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists . . . ”

    As the four clippings here document, this is representative of the US NAS, NSTA and of course the NCSE which you were the PR person for.

    This is particularly evident from the interventions the NSTA and NAS made — with NCSE hovering in the background of the whole sorry episode [and with the local affiliate fronting . . . ] — in Kansas. I don’t take holding the children of Kansas HOSTAGE lightly.

    And that was what was clearly done in that letter, through a threat that has no basis but institutional power of ideological materialism.

    A priori materialism is in the driver’s seat of current institutional science, and it does not shun to wield the censor’s pen, or to crack the whip.

    What Lewontin did was to let the materialist cat out of the bag clearly labelled “Science.”

    GEM of TKI

  3. Well, we will just have to agree to differ, kf.

    My own view, whatever we both make of Lewontin, is that the reason science can’t test supernatural hypotheses is because the methodology simply doesn’t cover supernatural hypotheses, the reason being that testable hypotheses require predictions, and the supernatural is, by definition, unpredictable.

    There we will have to leave it.

    Cheers

    Lizzie

  4. But of course, I might be wrong.

    Of course! That’s the reason why the Scientific Method (singular title, multiple methods – not going to say that again) was developed, to reliably test ideas against reaality regardless of the observer’s bias. And it’s why ID theorists used the Scientific Method to develop Intelligent Design’s scientific theories, and the foundation from which it draws like Shannon’s theory of information. So unless this discussion leads to some new kind of science ID is about to reveal, what can be said of Science can be equally said of Intelligent Design’s scientific theories. As I commented before, when ID proponents denigrate science, it’s as if their cutting of their nose to spite their face.

  5. Dr Liddle:

    Pardon, but you are repeating a strawman argument.

    The proper issue in contrasting hypotheses is not natural vs supernatural [at best a rhetorical contrast], but — as has been on the table ever since Plato — nature vs art. Where, nature embraces chance and/or necessity, and art, the intelligent.

    As has been repeatedly pointed out, and in particular to you, chance, necessity and art do leave distinct empirical traces that are reliable signs.

    These signs are in fact routinely used in scientific work, as is noted above.

    The only place where this is even controversial is in origin of life and related origin of body plan level biodiversity studies, where imposed a priori materialism warps the conclusions that would otherwise be obvious to the point of being glorified common sense.

    Certainly, no plausible means acting on the gamut of the solar system or the observed cosmos [500 - 1,000 bits of FSCI as a conservative limit] has been shown to credibly be able to produce the relevant digitally coded, functionally specific, algorithmic, complex information coded into the living cell [100,000 = 1 mn bits], and as would be required to account for novel, embryologically feasible body plans [10 - 100 mn bits, dozens of times over].

    The ONLY known source for such information that is demonstrated to be capable of bridging the config space to arrive at islands of function is intelligence. And that, for reasons very close to those that undergird the statistical form of the second law of thermodynamics.

    GEM of TKI

  6. RH7

    Strawman and manifestly false assertion.

    Let’s put it directly: no one is denigrating science.

    What is being challenged, for good reason as explained, is an ideological a priori that has been imposed under the false colours of science. And, the improper contrast natural vs supernatural, where ever since Plato, the contrast has been natural [chance and/or necessity] vs art or intelligence.

    There is absolutely no good historical warrant for imposing a priori materialism on science, under the name methodological naturalism or otherwise.

    But, unfortunately, that is what has been done in some very significant quarters in our time.

    As has been documented in the above and onward linked.

    What is being called for is that empirically based warrant of knowledge claims should not be so censored, whether the fields in which investigations are undertaken are called science or not. (You and others have already been pointed to Laudan’s very wise observations on the matter.)

    I invite you to look, again, at the summary I have presented, and will clip again on methods:

    Part of the reason for the complexity of Origins Science studies lies in how it sits at the intersection of several distinct disciplines: science, forensics, historiography, education, philosophy, theology, and maybe more. That means that if one carries out a research or field investigation project, particular attention needs to be paid to methodology and related grounding/ warranting of knowledge [[epistemology] issues.

    So, let us give a working definition of science as it should be (recognising that we will often fall short):

    science, at its best, is the unfettered — but ethically and intellectually responsible — progressive, observational evidence-led pursuit of the truth about our world (i.e. an accurate and reliable description and explanation of it), based on:

    a: collecting, recording, indexing, collating and reporting accurate, reliable (and where feasible, repeatable) empirical — real-world, on the ground — observations and measurements,

    b: inference to best current — thus, always provisional — abductive explanation of the observed facts,

    c: thus producing hypotheses, laws, theories and models, using logical-mathematical analysis, intuition and creative, rational imagination [[including Einstein's favourite gedankenexperiment, i.e thought experiments],

    d: continual empirical testing through further experiments, observations and measurement; and,

    e: uncensored but mutually respectful discussion on the merits of fact, alternative assumptions and logic among the informed. (And, especially in wide-ranging areas that cut across traditional dividing lines between fields of study, or on controversial subjects, “the informed” is not to be confused with the eminent members of the guild of scholars and their publicists or popularisers who dominate a particular field at any given time.)

    As a result, science enables us to ever more effectively (albeit provisionally) describe, explain, understand, predict and influence or control objects, phenomena and processes in our world.

    You show where in the just clipped and linked, there is anything that is hostile to or denigratory of genuine scientific investigations.

    You will not be able to, for there is nothing there like that.

    So, please stop making false assertions like you just did.

    GEM of TKI

  7. On another thread, I demonstrate a tractable process that generated more than 500 bits of functional information. That metric seems flawed.

    That said, no one has observed millions of bits of new information emerging at once. Therefore ID has no empirical basis.

    Evolution proceeds by incremental changes, perhaps none of which ever exceeds the probability bond (however it is you calculate it).

  8. Speculative, highly implausible and unobserved reconstructions that are based on assuming what was to be proved do not constitute OBSERVATION of 500+ bits of functionally specific info originating by blind chance and mechanical necessity. The challenge to do so under OBSERVATION is just that, we must see the process, not speculate how this or that may have happened.

  9. “Speculative, highly implausible and unobserved reconstructions”

    Well, it is a reconstruction based on an observation-that of modern sequences. It is ridiculous to reject the reported sequence comparisons out of hand, with no analysis. They are quite good. Behe and others use sequence data-seems ID can’t decide when it likes sequence comparisons, and when it doesn’t.

    “blind chance and mechanical necessity.”

    The proposed processes are mechanistically understood, and are random with respect to need.

    “The challenge to do so under OBSERVATION is just that”

    How would that help? A designer could still influence the process. BTW, you rule out directed evolution as “designed,” so we’re looking at very long observations here. And the attempts to calculate fCSI here seem quite poor, so I’m not sure what meets the challenge, and what doesn’t.

    You didn’t answer the second part of my question-what is the maximum number of bits you’ve observed to arise in biology? Is ID, then, a theory that explains no observation?

  10. 10

    Oops, you’ve just nuked your own case. Your quote in context:

    To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test. So why do so many people believe in demons? Sagan seems baffled, and nowhere does he offer a coherent explanation of the popularity at the supermarket checkout counter of the Weekly World News, with its faked photographs of Martians. Indeed, he believes that “a proclivity for science is embedded deeply within us in all times, places and cultures.” The only explanation that he offers for the dogged resistance of the masses to the obvious virtues of the scientific way of knowing is that “through indifference, inattention, incompetence, or fear of skepticism, we discourage children from science.” He does not tell us how he used the scientific method to discover the “embedded” human proclivity for science, or the cause of its frustration. Perhaps we ought to add to the menu of Saganic demonology, just after spoon-bending, ten-second seat-of-the-pants explanations of social realities.

    Nearly every present-day scientist would agree with Carl Sagan that our explanations of material phenomena exclude any role for supernatural demons, witches, and spirits of every kind, including any of the various gods from Adonai to Zeus. (I say “nearly” every scientist because our creationist opponent in the Little Rock debate, and other supporters of “Creation Science,” would insist on being recognized.) We also exclude from our explanations little green men from Mars riding in space ships, although they are supposed to be quite as corporeal as you and I, because the evidence is overwhelming that Mars hasn’t got any. On the other hand, if one supposed that they came from the planet of a distant star, the negative evidence would not be so compelling, although the fact that it would have taken them such a long time to get here speaks against the likelihood that they exist. Even Sagan says that “it would be astonishing to me if there weren’t extraterrestrial life,” a position he can hardly avoid, given that his first published book was Intelligent Life in the Universe3 and he has spent a great deal of the taxpayer’s money over the ensuing thirty years listening for the signs.

    Sagan believes that scientists reject sprites, fairies, and the influence of Sagittarius because we follow a set of procedures, the Scientific Method, which has consistently produced explanations that put us in contact with reality and in which mystic forces play no part. For Sagan, the method is the message, but I think he has opened the wrong envelope.

    Sagan and “most scientists” think that the paranormal/supernatural should be rejected because of the success of the scientific method. Lewontin, though, *disagrees* with this, and (on your interpretation) says that these things are rejected on the basis of a priori materialism, instead.

    Thus, even on Lewontin’s own essay, Lewontin himself says that most scientists, including Sagan, take a different view from the one Lewontin takes.

    Oops.

    “Game over, man! Game over!”

    – Aliens

  11. Dr Matzke:

    Nice strawman.

    Since it is now quite clear that Lewontin DOES advocate a priori materialism, the attempt is to isolate him in our perceptions. But, this will not wash for those familiar with the way the elites and the politically correct who expelled Gonzalez and others think. Don’t forget the current raft of cases.

    Again, the following is what is actually advocated by Lewontin and many others. Onlookers, note the highlights, focussing on basic grammar, as in what does the first person plural signify:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe [1 --> a claim to holding truth, not just an empirically reliable, provisional account] into people’s heads we [the scientists] must first get an incorrect view out [2 --> an open ideological agenda] . . . the problem is to get them [the public] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations [3 --> a declaration of cultural war], and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [ 4 --> this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [as in the majority of the scientific elites, what is is 90% of the NAS are atheists? as opposed to a much smaller percent of general working scientists and sci-trained people] [5 --> a self evident claim is that this is true, must be true and its denial is patently absurd. But actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question, confused for real self-evidence] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us [scientists] in contact with physical reality [Notice, grammar: the first person plurals -- Lewontin is here identifying with Sagan and the majority of the elites, regardless of his particular personal points] [6 --> Science gives reality, reality is naturalistic and material], and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [7 --> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim: if you reject naturalistic, materialistic evolutionism, you are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, by direct implication] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us [the sci elites] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world [8 --> redefines science as a material explanation of the observed world], but, on the contrary, that we [the sci elites] are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [9 --> another major begging of the question . . . by imposition of a priori materialism as a worldview that then goes on to control science as its handmaiden and propaganda arm that claims to be the true prophet of reality, the only begetter of truth] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. [i.e those not in OUR circle of the sci elites] [10 --> In short, even if the result is patently absurd on its face, it is locked in, as materialistic "science" is now our criterion of truth!] Moreover, that materialism [the dominant ideology of the elites] is absolute [11 --> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [12 --> Hostility to the divine is embedded, from the outset, as per the dismissal of the "supernatural"] The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. [notice the distancing from and sneering dismissal of anyone who believes in God] [13 --> a slightly more sophisticated form of Dawkins' ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, certainly, irrational. This is a declaration of war! Those who believe in God, never mind the record of history, never mind the contributions across the ages, are dismissed as utterly credulous and irrational, dangerous and chaotic] To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen. [14 --> Perhaps the second saddest thing is that some actually believe that these last three sentences that express hostility to God and then back it up with a loaded strawman caricature of theism and theists JUSTIFY what has gone on before. As a first correction, accurate history -- as opposed to the commonly promoted rationalist myth of the longstanding war of religion against science -- documents (cf. here for a start) that the Judaeo-Christian worldview nurtured and gave crucial impetus to the rise of modern science through its view that God as creator made and sustains an orderly world. Similarly, for miracles -- e.g. the resurrection of Jesus -- to stand out as signs pointing beyond the ordinary course of the world, there must first be such an ordinary course, one plainly amenable to scientific study. The saddest thing is that many are now so blinded and hostile that, having been corrected, they will STILL think that this justifies the above. But, nothing can excuse the imposition of a priori materialist censorship on science, which distorts its ability to seek the empirically warranted truth about our world.]

    [[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997.]

    Notice, Lewontin here speaks for “we” and “us.”

    Now, here is the US NAS, the elites of the scientific establishment, in the 2008 version of a long running pamphlet [which is one of the four linked clips I keep pointing to], showing that this has been going on for about 20 – 25 years:

    In science, explanations must [that's OUR rule!] be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. [--> This is of course a question-begging dichotomy: natural vs supernatural, they are not going to tell you about the real alternative ever since Plato, nature vs art, where nature is that which is of chance and necessity in our material world and art is from purposeful choice and skill leading to things that often show FSCO/I] Any scientific explanation has to be testable — there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it. Unless a proposed explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially count against it, that explanation cannot be subjected to scientific testing. [--> Deliberately left out: FSCO/I is empirically observable, tested and reliable as a sign of intelligent cause, despite what the likes of Dr REC et al wish to assert] [[Science, Evolution and Creationism, 2008, p. 10 Emphases added.]

    The NSTA is in like vein, but brings out the materialistic commitments more explicitly and repeatedly; remember, in Kansas, the NAS and NSTA acted jointly, and this shows how they are singing off the same hymn sheet:

    The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts [--> i.e. materialism controls science in their view, utterly contrary to sound history and phil of sci] and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . .

    [[S]cience, along with its methods, explanations and generalizations, must be the sole focus of instruction in science classes to the exclusion of all non-scientific or pseudoscientific [--> a strawman, as Laudan long ago pointed out the issue is warrant for empirical claims not rhetorically loaded labels, and in fact the inference to design on key signs (a main target) is patently not fraudulent] methods, explanations, generalizations and products . . . .

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

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations [--> radical materialism-loaded redefinition] and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge. [[NSTA, Board of Directors, July 2000. Emphases added.]

    So, we can see the context in which the NAS and NSTA JOINTLY intervened in Kansas to enforce a radical, tendentious redefinition of science, threatening to hold the students of that state hostage if the Board of Education did not comply, with the NCSE hovering in the background and acting though a local front organisation.

    All of this goes to underscore how in our time a radical, materialist redefinition of science is being imposed through institutional dominance by a priori materialists, and is presented as though it is the longstanding standard for doing real not fraudulent science. of course, those who object to the radical coup are being tagged as pseudoscientific, i.e. we see here atmosphere poisoning that sets up and knocks over strawmen as pointed out above.

    Those who are doing this should take warning from how the public is waking up from the spell imposed by the manipulators of climate science, in the aftermath of the Climategate revelations, and correct themselves before the public has to act in its own interests.

    GEM of TKI

  12. Dr REC:

    Precisely, you are using the assumed chance and necessity mechanism — despite its utter implausibility — to “reconstruct” an imagined past in which the forms you observe came to be.

    This is exactly not an actual observation of FSCI beyond 500 bits arising by blind chance plus mechanical necessity. Speculative reconstruction on an assumed speculative past is NOT the same as actual observation using your eyes, ears, and instruments in the here and now.

    There is an entire Internet full of observations on the point that FSCI is reliably the product of design, and there are precisely zero cases where FSCI is observed — not speculated — to be produced by blind chance plus mechanical necessity.

    The most credible exercises to date, in random text generation, show us searchability of spaces of order 10^50 possibilities, but not spaces of order 10^150 – 300 possibilities.

    GEM of TKI

  13. Well, it is a reconstruction based on an observation-that of modern sequences. It is ridiculous to reject the reported sequence comparisons out of hand, with no analysis. They are quite good. Behe and others use sequence data-seems ID can’t decide when it likes sequence comparisons, and when it doesn’t.

    It is called an a priory commitment to design.

  14. So, please stop making false assertions like you just did.

    KF, I didn’t see anything false about the assertion, just an opinion being expressed.

    That is a really nasty rhetorical device you seem to like to use almost everyday – instead of accepting that others may have different opinions to you, and may interpret things differently, you just imply that anyone who disagrees with you is a liar.

    (your apparent belief that you are infallible means you cannot accept that you could ever be wrong)

    Your whole debating style smacks of fascism, you prefer to dictate rather than debate.

    I really wish you would actually practice the things you preach to others about civility, then most of the debates that take place here wouldn’t end up so badly poisoned.

    And before you start complaining, it won’t do any good – I will continue to try and correct you behavior whenever I see it has slipped below the bar for civilized debate.

    You have been warned. Please do better.

  15. ‘a priori’ not ‘a priory’ (not an intentional pun)

  16. rhampton7:

    “As I commented before, when ID proponents denigrate science, it’s as if their cutting of their nose to spite their face.”
    ====

    And yet this is NOT what they do. They actually want the “Scientific Method” to be employed. The problem is that when articles are published and papers referencing scientific experiments are made available, we often find much of the material doing nothing more than making big assumptions, assertions and giving biased speculative opinions and what Evolutionist’s attempt to do is merely accept these stories as facts as opposed to the reality that these are just religious fables created from the religious metaphysical imagination of a philosopher who has need of FAITH insertion.

    It is the Evolutionist’s themselves under the heat of debate that will always claim that the IDers or Creationists are against ‘ALL’ science and that is a flat out lie pimped during the heat of combat. ALL Science is not evolution and just because an IDer may disagree with that particular dogma inserted into science does NOT make the IDer against ALL Science.

    On that very subject of genetic information & DNA, Science doesn’t know enough about it to make some of the disasterous decisions in many of the technolgies that are presently bastardizing are planet’s natural world ecosystems. I keep harping on this, but when it comes to GMO Bio-Technologies, they have no business throwing these Franken-Organisms out into the natural world without researching harmful effects. Canadian Geneticist(and Evolutionist) David Suzuki said it best when admitting that “science doesn’t know enough about how DNA works to make decisions about taking one gene from an organism and inserting it into another completely different organism. In otherwords breaking species boundaries or barriers. Yet even when doing this and observing the consequences later as a result of releasing too early something they created into the public because they(Publically Traded Bio-Tech Companies) are being held to account by profit seeking share holders and boards of directors, it does never the less lend a huge measure of credit to the Biblical expression/terms of things replicating “according to their kinds”. Apparently there are purposed restrictions and other natural laws that should be respected, but they’re not. And why should they, moral laws are made fun of and rejected, but that’s another issue.

    Although I don’t see much of the I.D. crowd championing such respect for ‘Natural Laws’(“according to it’s kind”) in these particular cases, they never the less should as it makes a stricter case for just what checks and balances have been put into all genetic system.

    But back to the lie that I.D. is against ‘ALL’ science because they don’t accept evolution, is the exact same perverted tactic being used by the GMO companies fighting against their critics. This same lie is pimped by the patrolleum Industries fighting against their critics who are against Fracking. Not only do GMO companies use this same cowardly tactic against their opponants, but also Pharmaceudical companies,
    Plastics industries along with the chemical Industries combined. The list is endless when it comes to irresponsible science. And labling oppoants as Anti-Science appears to be the only way they can give answer to the charges of corruoption against the. Mainly because they don’t have a truthful responsible answer to give in the first place.

    I.D. is more open to “scientific evidence” as an unbiased source of information if that information is truly unbiased. And that goes for all the issues where we see competing “conclusions”. At one time Science could more or less be relied on to give us unbiased answers to the use of new ideas and products. Unfortunately, as industry realized that the general public were willing to blindly believe science and based there will or ill will towards a product or process, the science world became corrupted by selling research capabilities and findings to the corporations.

    So science and it’s practitioners have no one to blame but themselves when there is distrust and skepticism expressed as to their personal biased findings.

    So the Anti-Science claim continues to be lame and rings hollow and is more illustrative of a side’s position as having NOTHING when it comes to debating the issues. It’s simply an old comfortable warm and fuzzy fall back for a complete coward to nestle into.

  17. I guess the thing that really sticks out here for me is that you are making an unjustified inference.

    >>We observe humans designing.

    >>We observe that humans are made of matter, and operate according to and within the laws of physics.

    The claim is that we can detect design in life, but the only example of designers we have are material beings, operating within the laws of physics.

    Why then should we alter the methodology of science to allow for non material (non observable or predictable) causes when your own inference is to a cause that we observe to be based in matter?

  18. DrBot:

    It is human consciousness that designs.

    That humans are made of matter is only your arbitrary assumption. Humans have a body, which is certainly made of matter. But there is no evidence that their consciousness is generated by the material body. Nor that consciousness operates “according to the laws of physics”. That is at least ambiguous.

    While I could agree that consciousness usually operates “in respect of the laws of physics”, its workings are certainly not “explained by the laws of physics”. Those are completely different concepts.

    As it is the consciousness that designs (because design is the imprinting of a form, represented in an intelligent conscious being, to an outer material support), then there is no evidence that the process of design is a material process.

    It is certain, instead, that it is a process connected to consciousness. So, as we cannot explain cosnciousness, we can just leave the definition there, without introducing assumptions about the material or non material character.

    I must also object to some incorrect semantic assumptions in your post.

    “Material” is an ambiguous word and concept (I usually avoid to use it), but I really doubt that a good definiton may be: “observable” or “predictable”.

    And again, there is no reason to believe that the design process is “based in matter”.

  19. DrSock[Bot]:

    “The claim is that we can detect design in life, but the only example of designers we have are material beings, operating within the laws of physics.”
    ====

    Correct and that is why we have something called ‘inference’ when we weren’t around to observe an actual intelligent designer of something who we may not personally know. Therefore, if all codes we know the origin of come from an intelligent designer, then we have 100% inference that DNA had an intelligent designer and 0% inference that blind undirected purposeless physics and toxic chemcial cocktails make any codes.
    —-

    DrSock[Bot]:

    “Why then should we alter the methodology of science to allow for non material (non observable or predictable) causes when your own inference is to a cause that we observe to be based in matter?”
    ====

    Are blind undirected unguided invisible impersonal forces material ??? Are purposelessness and lack of goals material ??? Is blind undectable purposeless ‘Natural Selction’ material ??? Dump the double standards and Pot Calling Kettle Black and start actually using real naturalistic explanations minus the metaphysical storytelling and maybe your side will be taken seriously.
    —–

    gpuccio:

    “And again, there is no reason to believe that the design process is “based in matter”.
    ====

    Let’s be further honest here. They often fall well short of naturalistic material explanations where none are to be found by inserting metaphysical storying into their science papers and when you call them on it they react with self-righteous indignation.

    ONCE AGAIN: Gerald Joyce who is inteligent and has goals and purpose for proving his imaginary RNA-World Virtual Fantasy, uses Intelligently Designed Enzymes and inserts them into an Intelligently Designed device for which he and fellow intelligent researchers have a Patent for creating. This device acts as an imagined early ecosystem created from the minds of Gerald Joyce and fellow Lab Coats. Forcing the molecules to carry out what Gerald Joyce thoughts and ideas want is a computer programmed to select and separate according to Gerald Joyce’s Selection criteria.

    Now insert fable story telling using incredbile amounts of personification fallacies of lifeless molecules becoming self-awareness of their existance, competing and outcompeting each other for food resources, having sex with each other and having babies. Then have the grapefruit sized gonads to lie and boldly state:

    “Evolution is not a theory for us chemists,” Dr. Joyce said.
    “This is evolution at the level of molecules as a fact, not a theory,” says the study’s senior investigator, Gerald Joyce, Scripps Research professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Molecular Biology.

    And before any of the evolutionary Sock-Puppet defenders of this fraud insist evolutionary forces were proven to be at work in this experiment, here’s what this con-artist says in the very same breath. It doesn’t get any more materialistically plainer than this of just how much the role of FAITH INSERTION is necesary to believe in this lame Dogma:

    GERALD JOYCE:

    “This is what it looks like when a computer controls conditions that ‘push’ molecules to adapt in order to thrive–survival of the fittest on the smallest scale possible.”
    —–

    Oh, and all of this came right off the Scripts Research Institute’s own website.

    ED: Eo, please refrain from using tags that can be taken derogatorily.

  20. The idea that consciousness is (or even can be) generated by “matter” is a 19th century view that, like Darwinism, has left behind a cult of fanatical adherents that refuse to incorporate current knowledge into their worldview because it would contradict their dogmatic beliefs.

    According to quantum physics, “matter” is nothing more than a information matrix that represents potential qualities and locations for subatomic quanta until it is observed, which collapses the quanta into specific states and locations.

    Mind is not reducible to being the product of that which it is a necessary causal factor in generating. Specific sequences of atomic cause and effect do not “occur”, but rather only “exist” as probabilistic matrices until observed; one cannot get to an observer caused by specific material sequences without the existence of an observer to interact with the matrices and collapse them into specific sequences.

    Mind cannot be caused by matter when it is a necessary causal contributor to the specified structure of what we call and experience as matter.

  21. Dr Bot:

    Pardon, but there is a difference between an actual observation and an inference deeply embedded with assumptions.

    AmHD:

    ob·serve (b-zûrv)
    v. ob·served, ob·serv·ing, ob·serves
    v.tr.
    1. To be or become aware of, especially through careful and directed attention; notice.
    2. To watch attentively: observe a child’s behavior.
    3. To make a systematic or scientific observation of: observe the orbit of the moon.

    in·fer (n-fûr)
    v. in·ferred, in·fer·ring, in·fers
    v.tr.
    1. To conclude from evidence or premises.
    2. To reason from circumstance; surmise: We can infer that his motive in publishing the diary was less than honorable.
    3. To lead to as a consequence or conclusion: “Socrates argued that a statue inferred the existence of a sculptor” (Academy).
    4. To hint; imply.
    v.intr.
    To draw inferences.

    It is that pivotal difference that I am highlighting.

    When one looks at genome and/or protein etc sequences in present life forms, then adduces an explanatory model based on the presumed descent with modification in a branching tree pattern from a hypothetical common ancestor, one is only observing what one sees in the present. All else is inference, with increasing degrees of implicit assumptions that are deeply embedded with that which was to be demonstrated.

    The attempt to project unto me a prori commitment to a design view, then, is improper. I am simply pointing out the logic at work, and how that logic cannot warrant the claim, as it is deeply embedded with it as an underlying assumption.

    Unfortunately, there is a tendency in arguments regarding evolution, to conflate and confuse inferences and observations [cf. another example highlighted in the IOSE here, in a textbook setting, HT Cornelius Hunter], a distinction that we need to keep firmly in mind.

    If you look in the original post, comment point 47 responds to a similar (but less problematic) case, in an attempt to draw on astronomy by Lewontin:

    Astronomers tell us without apparent embarrassment that they can see stellar events that occurred millions of years ago, whereas we all know that we see things as they happen. [47 --> He is mixing in a big chain of inference here, the astronomers are inferring on the distance metrics for the cosmos [from parallax to Delta Cepheid variables to supernovae as standard candles etc etc], which are a deep ladder of inference, and then on the conditions and assumptions about the past of light. There is a telling jump from the present to the deep, unobserved past that is done without explanation.]

    Parallax observations are something we do in the present, and until a few years back that allowed us to reach out about 300 LY. That has recently been extended to about 3,000 LY, by the Hipparcos satellite. This depends on trigonometry, and is genuinely observational.

    Beyond this and a few extensions of this, we are forced to use increasingly inferentially loaded techniques. The Delta Cepheid variable star observations are based on a class of oscillating star that has a characteristic sawtooth magnitude oscillation, e.g. with Polaris the North Star. Originally [c. 1908], statistical studies were done on such stars in the Magellanic clouds [rounded off as at a common distance] that allowed an estimate that there is a relation between period and absolute luminosity, thence a possibility to use these as a standard candle. Various problems emerged with the resulting metrics, and the picture is now much more complex. But, already we see how we are moving away from actual observation to inferences.

    We should be always careful to mark the distinction.

    (I guess the old way of teaching about Ohm’s Law on O level Physics that highlighted the circularity involved in using meters calibrated on the law in doing the experiment, had a point. They taught us the subtle distinction between observation and inference, and the way in which circularity could creep in unawares and end up in a self-reinforcing circle of thought that was based on “turtles in a circle.” I now hereby publicly recant — kindly note a second public admission of error on my part at UD in recent weeks, Dr Bot — my going along with the idea that we should not overmuch emphasise that, lest we cause confusion problems with students in the current era.)

    I again note, my point is that we must not confuse observations and inferences, especially where controlling assumptions may inadvertently embed circularities.

    Closely related, is the tendency to announce that EXPLANATIONS are viewed as “facts” by scientists, especially that explanation widely known as the modern evolutionary synthesis. This is a violation of the basic logic of abductive inference to best explanation:

    1. Observations of the natural (or human) world produce facts, F1, F2, . . . Fn; some of which may seem strange, contradictory or puzzling.

    2. However, if a proposed law, model or theory, E, is assumed, the facts follow as a matter of course: E is a scientific explanation of F1, F2, . . . Fn. [This step is ABDUCTION. E explains the facts, and the facts provide empirical support for E. In general, though, many E's are possible for a given situation. So, we then use pruning rules, e.g. Occam's Razor: prefer the simplest hypothesis consistent with the material facts. But in the end, the goal/value is that we should aim to select/infer the best (current) explanation, by using comparative tests derived from the three key worldview tests: explanatory scope, coherence and power.]

    3. E may also predict further (sometimes surprising) observations, P1, P2, . . . Pm. This would be done through deducing implications for as yet unobserved situations. [This step, obviously, uses logical DEDUCTION.]

    4. If these predictions are tested and are in fact observed, E is confirmed, and may eventually be accepted by the Scientific community as a generally applicable law or theory. [This step is one of logical INDUCTION, inferring from particular instances to -- in the typical case, more general -- conclusions that the instances make “more probable.”]

    5. In many cases, some longstanding or newly discovered observations may defy explanation, and sometimes this triggers a crisis that may lead to a scientific revolution; similar to Thomas Kuhn’s paradigm shift.

    6. Thus, scientific knowledge claims are in principle always provisional: subject to correction/change in light of new evidence and analysis.

    7. But also, even when observations are accurately covered/predicted by the explanation, the logic involved has limitations: E => O, the set of current and predicted observations[F/N 2: "That is, O = { F1, F2, . . . Fn, P1, P2, . . . Pm}."], does not entail that if O is seen then E follows: “If Tom is a cat then Tom is an animal” does not entail “Tom is an animal, so he must be a cat.”[F/N 3: "This is a fallacy, Affirming the Consequent, and is based on confusing implication with equivalence; i.e. double implication: P ó Q means (1) P => Q AND (2) Q => P, but (1) obviously does not always imply (2) as the Tom the cat example shows."]

    In short, scientific knowledge claims, at best, are provisional; though they are usually pretty well tested and have across time helped us make considerable technological, health and economic progress.

    In short, in inference to best explanation, since there is a counterflow between the direction of logical implication and empirical support, there is an inescapable provisionality that current empirical reliability cannot overturn. This is the underlying issue that Newton had in mind when in Opticks, Query 31 [in which he more or less presented what is now commonly called THE Scientific Method] he noted:

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations.

    I think we need to update and teach that stipulation on limitations of scientific warrant for knowledge claims, to our students today. In particular, we also need to make it clear to students that here is a significant difference between cases where we can directly observe and those where we may only infer to a deep, unobserved past of origins. That would go a far way to properly balancing science education and even science.

    GEM of TKI

  22. Onlookers and participants:

    Please take note of the remarks just put up here above, on the abductive nature of scientific explanations, and the resulting limitations on scientific methods. (As a bonus, the key extract from Newton’s Opticks, Query 31, is discussed].

    GEM of TKI

  23. Dr Bot: warranted correction to a damaging and demonstrably false assertion — whether or not it is a genuinely held opinion — is not uncivil. GEM of TKI

  24. Elizabeth:

    My own view, whatever we both make of Lewontin, is that the reason science can’t test supernatural hypotheses is because the methodology simply doesn’t cover supernatural hypotheses, the reason being that testable hypotheses require predictions, and the supernatural is, by definition, unpredictable.

    Well blind and undirected processes are by definition unpredictable also. So by YOUR “logic” your position is not science as it cannot be tested.

  25. PS: AmHD:

    as·sert (-sûrt)
    tr.v. as·sert·ed, as·sert·ing, as·serts
    1. To state or express positively; affirm: asserted his innocence.

  26. Red herring. Intelligence, we have no reason to identify as necessitating embodiment. Taking in the issue of cosmological design per best explanation of fine tuning, we have reasonable warrant not to do so.

  27. Intelligence, we have no reason to identify as necessitating embodiment.

    The only examples of intelligence we have are embodied, you use these examples (of observed intelligences) to make an inference to design but then claim that we have no reason to infer that intelligence must be embodied?

  28. J: In fairness, I think there are a great many cases where chance based processes are characterised and predictable up to a distribution, though of course chaos gives a non-linear feedback effect that leads to radical unpredictability. Even that may lead to a predictable result, e.g. with a standard, fair die, the 8 corners and 12 edges lead to the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, and thence unpredictability apart from the classic odds of 1/6 per face. But, that noted, you still have a fairly telling point. G

  29. Well extrapolation again- do you know how that works?

  30. That humans are made of matter is only your arbitrary assumption.

    I guess so. I mean it’s not like we are able to study them in the way we can study things that we know are made of matter ;)

    Humans have a body, which is certainly made of matter. But there is no evidence that their consciousness is generated by the material body.

    There is plenty! If you interfere with the material body you affect, suppress, and even destroy consciousness. You might claim that the consciousness is unaffected or not really destroyed, but you need evidence if you want to make this claim.

    And again, there is no reason to believe that the design process is “based in matter”.

    I believe it is called an inference to the best explanation – all empirically observed acts of intelligence are produced by beings made of physical matter.

  31. 31

    DrBot:

    It is a hasty generalization (logical fallacy) to conclude that because all currently observed cases of X are Y, that all actual cases of X are Y.

    Additionally, it is especially hasty when there is evidence of non-local conscious interaction via quantum events, and OOBEs (as reported in the Lancet, among other publications) during complete brain inactivity, as well as scientific research going back over a hundred and fifty years that supports the existence of non-embodied consciousnesses, the denial of such evidence by mainstream science notwithstanding.

  32. DrBot:

    If you interfere with the material body you affect, suppress, and even destroy consciousness.

    Trivial and wrong. That interfering with the material body affects consciousness has been known for millennia: simple sensations are evidence of that. It is obviosuly in no way evidence that consciousness is generated by the body.

    The interface model, where a conscious I interacts both ways with the brain, perfectly explains that.

    You should define better what you mean with the words “suppress” and “destroy”. Consciousness is never destroyed. It can exist in different states, that are called, indeed, “states of consciousness”. So, please specify your terms, and give examples of what you mean. And please, take into account that in no way I equate “consciousness” with “waking consciousness” (waking consciousness is only one of the states).

    You might claim that the consciousness is unaffected

    Why should I? Consciousness is continuously affected. It’s what makes it cosnciousness. It’s called: representation. Consciousness represents different contents in itself, and therefore it is certainlt affected by them.

    or not really destroyed

    I would say, not destroyed at all.

    but you need evidence if you want to make this claim

    You start. You were the first to claim.

    I believe it is called an inference to the best explanation

    What a pity that strong AI it is not even an explanation, least of all “the best”.

    all empirically observed acts of intelligence are produced by beings made of physical matter

    No. All empirically observed acts of intelligence are traceable to conscious representations in human cosnciousness. Again, that humans are “made of physical matter” is an unwarranted assumption. Their body certainly is.

    But again, the “acts of intelligence” empirically originate in consciousness, not in the body.

    Therefore, unless you want to dogmatically impose your personal views about what is called by all “the hard problem of consciousness”, certainly one of the most fundamental unsolved problems in human thought, you cannot ask that others share your subjective ideology.

    And you cannot base a “best explanation” on an unwarranted assumption, based on a subjective ideology.

  33. 33

    The evidence that consciousness cannot be destroyed by destroying the body (or halted via brain death) exists in vast amounts, dating back over 150 years of scientific research and publication.

    It is relatively easy to locate such research via simple google searches.

  34. F/N: Once you are looking at origin of discrete state, functionally specific information by chance processes, you are no longer doing biology, you are doing informatics and also statistical thermodynamics. (Oddly, this is implied by those who want to use Weasel and kin to computationally demonstrate “evolution.”)

    So, the stipulation of biology just above is irrelevant.

    Indeed, the very claim being advanced is that across eons of time, biological info originates by blind chance and mechanical necessity, in some warm little pond or similar environment in the first instance, in genomes that change enough to radically modify body plans in the second.

    This sort of claim is — absent time travel — inherently unobservable to us, it must be inferred based on observations of forces and circumstances in the present that are causally sufficient to account for the class of phenomenon.

    (This is yet another case where design and descent turn out to be methodologically substantially equivalent, and an objection to the one or an acceptance of the other, on the principle of consistency in epistemology, requires treating the other in the same way. This was highlighted by Meyer in his demarcation paper.)

    Now, here is how we may address the real issue:

    1 –> We can reasonably estimate the scope of Planck-time Quantum state resources of the solar system [our effective universe] and the observed cosmos, i.e about 10^17 s, and 10^57 or 10^80 atoms.

    2 –> That gives an upper limit to the scope of events that can plausibly be observed: 10^150 – 10^300.

    (Speculations on multiverses are just that, phil not sci. if you go that route, the methods shift and any serious option sits to the table of comparative difficulties as of RIGHT, not sufferance; and whole classes of evidence come into play that may surprise you, e.g. the roots of our sense of being under moral government, and the millions who have met and been transformed by meeting God personally in the face of the risen Christ, risen with 500 eyewitnesses. And, in that wider context, for a dominant party such as the evolutionary materialists to censor out live options has serious freedom of conscience legal consequences.)

    3 –> Now, even the simplest, fastest chem rxns take about 10^30 PTQS’s. So, the realistic limit is 10^120 possibilities. Resemblance to the Dembski upper bounds is not coincidental.

    4 –> This takes us to the conservativeness of the log-reduced Chi metric as a threshold to infer to design on FSCI:

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

    5 –> For our solar system scope, 500 bits has about 10^150 possibilities, and the PTQS’s are about 10^102. 1 in 10^48 of possibilities, to order of mag.

    6 –> The resulting sample size is comparable to taking a one-straw sized sample blindly from a hay bale 3 1/2 light days across [this is the other correction I recently made in public].

    7 –> Without having to get into rabbit-trail disputes about specific probability models, well established sampling theory tells us that a sample of that relative scope can only reasonably be expected to pick up the overwhelmingly dominant cluster of configs in a population.

    8 –> In other words, even if a whole solar system was lurking in the bale, we would by overwhelming likelihood only get straw. So, once we are dealing with a specific, unrepresentative cluster of states — blatantly true for algorithmic, digital, coded states — we are unlikely at all to hit on them by blind chance and necessity, on the gamut of our solar system or cosmos.

    9 –> Now, the actual genetic info for observed cell based life are observed to start at about 100,000 to 1 mn bits. That is so far beyond the threshold that the conclusions are amplified.

    10 –> However, direct tests are possible, of the ability of chance variation and trial and error to get to functional coded states, i.e. the infinite monkey tests. These come out about as expected: spaces of up to about 10^50 are searcheable for such states by trial and error, but of course that is 1 in 10^100 of the threshold range we are using.

    11 –> The only known causal force able to successfully surpass the threshold is intelligence, which uses knowledge, skill and imagination to design functionally specific complex organised systems that use similarly specific information.

    12 –> So strong is this, that we may confidently identify that FSCO/I is an empirically reliable sign of intelligent design. The objections to this inference, as we can see above, are rooted in a priori commitment to materialism, not in empirical observation of blind chance and necessity being observed to have a similar capacity.

    _________

    And this has been pointed out, over and over and over again in one form or another, through the course of years.

    Consistently, the objections come from a priori materialism, and/or from confusing inference with observation, or even making outright errors of injecting design into claimed cases of chance and necessity giving rise to dFSCI.

    GEM of TKI

  35. Humans are embodied. That they are ONLY bodies, is a huge and unwarranted assertion or assumption.

  36. Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – (YES!) Stuart Hameroff
    http://vimeo.com/29895068

  37. F/N: Please cf a very important credible case of intelligence in action that produced the very matter you appeal to. Let’s cite just from Sir Fred Hoyle on it . . .

    From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? . . . I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. [F. Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.]

    I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars. [["The Universe: Past and Present Reflections." Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12]

    Remember, this particular subset of the fine-tuning case looks at the prevalence of the key atoms H, He, C, O. It turns out that these atoms, the central ones for cell based C-chemistry, aqueous medium life, are the four most abundant in the observed cosmos, and have some pretty impressive finely balanced properties. In particular H2O, the key molecule, has a raft of properties that are utterly unexpected and very special. Properties that tie pretty directly into the core physics of the cosmos.

    Here then is a reasonable argument, at worldviews level: if there is good reason to think that the cosmos is fine tuned (and that this carries through even multiverse speculaitons) then we have good reason to see mind as prior to and creative of matter.

    Bye by materialism and imagined difficulties on how mind can affect matter.

    GEM of TKI

  38. GP: Spot on, as usual. G

  39. Exactly, kf.

    This is extremely important. “Chance” and “necessity” are not separate. Very few events are contingent on so few conditions that given those conditions they can be predicted with a probability of 1.

    If you have a bag of 100 blue balls, and draw one at random, you will necessarily draw a blue ball. If one of the balls is red, we say that there is a .99 chance of drawing a blue ball. If 50 of the balls are red, you say there is an even chance of drawing a blue or red ball – you might even say it is “chance” which ball you draw.

    But nonetheless, the chance that you will draw a yellow ball is zero.

    This is why it is vital to know (or have an estimate of) the probability distribution of an event before you can say how unlikely it is to have occurred.

    And that is what is fundamentally wrong with the Explanatory Filter, and related ID inferences.

    It’s also the reason that scientific methodology cannot test supernatural hypotheses.

  40. Design inferences do not say chance and necessity are separate.

    But yes in order to have an estimate of the probability there has to be a demonstrated feasibility. IOW the EF and design inferences give your position the benefit of the doubt (because you haven’t even demonstrated a feasibility).

    That said we cannot predict what any given designer will design next. However we can predict that whatever it is it will have the hallmarks of design- the presence of counterflow and work.

    And either the supernatural exists or it doesn’t- so either it can be detected or it can’t because it doesn’t exist.

  41. Dr Liddle:

    You will see that I have consistently pointed out how chance, necessity and agency can all act together in a given case.

    But, because of their signature characteristics, we can separate them for analytical purposes, by looking at aspects of an object or phenomenon or process, then synthesising the overall causal account. This is what you just did in your urn of balls thought exercise.

    It is worth pausing to focus the key term, aspects; Collins dict:

    aspect [?æsp?kt]
    n
    1. appearance to the eye; visual effect the physical aspect of the landscape
    2. a distinct feature or element in a problem, situation, etc.; facet to consider every aspect of a problem
    3. the way in which a problem, idea, etc., may be considered to consider a problem from every aspect

    Going beyond that, I note:

    1 –> Sampling theory does not rest on needing to know the precise probability distribution at work in a given situation, indeed, it is what leads us to pick particular conceptual distribution models that give particular mathematical models used to estimate probabilities.

    2 –> That same theory tells us what is the overwhelmingly likely result when we take a very small but statistically valid sample of a distribution of possibilities: if the sample is blind, it is highly likely to be representative of the BULK of the distribution. (Indeed, that is the basis of the still very common Fisherian elimination testing used for evaluating hypotheses: much more likely to be in bulk, not far tails, so of two relevant hyps the one that has the observed result in the bulk is the more likely, to whatever level of confidence you wish.)

    3 –> In short the common complaint that design theorists are not properly calculating probabilities is selectively hyperskeptical, as has been repeatedly pointed out.

    4 –> The sort of conservative order of magnitude sampling approach outlined again today is more than adequate for the sort of conclusions being drawn. And, they are backed up by the relevant empirical results.

    5 –> In addition, I must note AGAIN that the common attempt to project an imagined dichotomy natural vs supernatural is a strawman mischaracterisation of the relevant alternative for design theory. (this correction actually sits in the Weak Argument Correctives, it is so longstanding!)

    6 –> From the days of Plato, 2350 years ago, it was well known that the relevant dichotomy is natuere [chance and/or necessity] vs ART i.e. intelligent purposeful choice contingency.

    7 –> Chance, necessity and art all leave characteristic empirical traces that cna be tested and found reliable. Mechanical necessity comes into play when we see low contingency under similar initial conditions, high contingency is chance and/or choice. Chance comes in statistical distributions that follow the sampling theory issues already pointed out. Chpoice can often lead to highly unusual and evid3ently purposeful configuraitons that would otherwise be highly implausible.

    8 –> by looking at the diverse aspects of an object, phenomenon or peocess etc, we may then comose an overall causal account in light of empirical investigaitons on well-warranted inference to best explanation.

    9 –> As has been pointed out to you over and over and over again ad nauseum now, this is exactly what the design theory explanatory filter does, and it is what the log-reduced Chi metric eqn does also.

    10 –> The supernatural can be identified as a candidate or actual intelligence that is beyond the physical order and acts beyond the laws of physics that we know. In that case, we have already had credible detection of such by scientific means, i.e the cosmoslogical design inference that sees “monkeying” as involved in the setting up the physical universe we observe. And that’s Sir Fred Hoyle’s word, not mine.

    11 –> Once we see that, it is then reasonable to accept the possibility thsat other cases of such may act. The design theory method detects design as a causal factor, that tweredun. whodunit, of what ontological nature, is as yet a matter that is not specifically scientific, but as Laudan has wisely told us, we should be far more concerned with whether a finding or belief is adequately grounded than whether or no it bears a prestigious label.

    12 –> So if you want to see what a serious minded investigation of a possible case of the supernatural looks like, in that broader approach, cf the resurrection of Jesus with 500 eyewitnesses and record within 25 years of the event while half or more were still alive.

    13 –> This case, obviously, has aspects that are scientific, some that are historical-forensic and aspects that are philosophical. Some, even deal with the question of prophecy and with the issue of the credibility of the millions all around us who testify to a living encounter with God in the face of the risen Christ that has transformed their lives. (The implications of dismissing THAT many people as delusional, are surprisingly stringent, as it then raises rather sobering questions on the general reliability of mind that skeptics usually brush aside rather than face squarely.)

    14 –> As just one facet, the matter raises a case where there is a just possible supernatural artifact that has been unquestionably studied scientifically, quite intensely. The Shroud of Turin. turns out the C14 RA sample that led to confident dismissals as Medieval, are based on questionable cloth that seems to have been repaired some hundreds of years ago. A clear C14 sample on good cloth would falsify, but a result that puts the cloth back some 2,000 years would have extremely interesting results. In either case, we see that a possibly supernatural aspect of an object, the famous image IS subject to scientific investigation. In short the “science cannot investigate the supernatural” meme is falsified by counterexample. Similarly, if GP — our resident med practitioner here at UD — had been there in the upper room, he surely could have done a bit more than put his hand in the side and fingers in the nail holes, or pass over a bit of fish and unleavened bread. And should GP be present at the 2nd coming, surely our Lord would not mind a bit of medical examination! Such an examination would be obviously feasible, and would be unquestionably a scientific investigation of a d=supernatural case. As are the medical examinations of a great many healings that beyond reasonable doubt have happened. (I suggest, again, that we will all find Rex Gardner’s discussion in BMJ December 1983 useful, start with the case of that bleeding post-partum woman in hospital in Pakistan.) The confident skeptical assertion collapses once we put it to even a modicum of scrutiny.)

    GEM of TKI

  42. I’m curious about how far you take this. Do chimps have minds? Dogs? Cats? Birds? Snakes? insects? Where and how do you draw the line?

    Do you have a complete and final understanding of “matter?

    Or are you getting your understanding of the matrix from Hollywood movies?

  43. Meleager, I think there is serious equivocation going on here!

    For a start, when people say that mind is generated by material processes, they include energy, not just, strictly, matter.

    And while quantum models of matter are seriously weird, I don’t think any physicist proposes that mind creates matter.

    And your allegation that:

    The idea that consciousness is (or even can be) generated by “matter” is a 19th century view that, like Darwinism, has left behind a cult of fanatical adherents that refuse to incorporate current knowledge into their worldview because it would contradict their dogmatic beliefs.

    is simply false. People think it is true because it is well supported by neuroscientific evidence. It is probably that quantum effects play a role, but that does mean that minds are creating the quantum effects.

  44. Petrushka:

    Why not look here on & in context at the Smith model and onward?

    Address the Leibniz challenge, and let us see your answer, in light of your answer to the hard problem of consciousness and the issue of self-referential absurdity confronting materialist models of mind.

    GEM of TKI

  45. Dr Liddle

    Pardon, but the issue of the fine tuned cosmos does put on the table the challenge as to whether mind makes matter and its underlying laws, as for instance Sir Fred Hoyle highlighted with his monkeying with physics remark already cited in-thread to you.

    BTW, great thinkers from Plato to Newton have also focussed on that same cosmological origins issue and with that same inference to mind as its best explanation, i.e. it is not a novel issue put up by a few dimwits from half-baked diploma mills.

    GEM of TKI

  46. 46

    Elizabeth,

    For a start, when people say that mind is generated by material processes, they include energy, not just, strictly, matter.

    What would matter “strictly” be, other than collapsed probabilistic characteristicis of quanta that is interpreted by mind as what is commonly called “matter”?

    And while quantum models of matter are seriously weird, I don’t think any physicist proposes that mind creates matter.

    That’s not what I said. What I actually said comes straight from the Copenhagen interpetation of quantum mechanics. From Wikipedia:

    The Copenhagen interpretation is the “standard” interpretation of quantum mechanics formulated by Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg while collaborating in Copenhagen around 1927. Bohr and Heisenberg extended the probabilistic interpretation of the wavefunction proposed originally by Max Born. The Copenhagen interpretation rejects questions like “where was the particle before I measured its position?” as meaningless. The measurement process randomly picks out exactly one of the many possibilities allowed for by the state’s wave function in a manner consistent with the well-defined probabilities that are assigned to each possible state. According to the interpretation, the interaction of an observer or apparatus that is external to the quantum system is the cause of wave function collapse, thus according to Heisenberg “reality is in the observations, not in the electron”.

    Do you disagree that many physicists endorse/have endorsed the Copenhagen interpretation?

    So, I ask you again: if the characteristics of subatomic quanta are non-definite until observed, existing only as probabilistic information matrices, how can any series of specific events lead to the evolution of a “mind” from “matter” that does not even exist as such (in specific locations with specific interactive, cause-and-effect characteristics) except in the presence of an observing mind?

  47. KF,

    The Shroud of Turin. turns out the C14 RA sample that led to confident dismissals as Medieval, are based on questionable cloth that seems to have been repaired some hundreds of years ago. A clear C14 sample on good cloth would falsify, but a result that puts the cloth back some 2,000 years would have extremely interesting results.

    But you refuse to believe that the generally accepted age of the earth is accurate?

    Why do you put your trust (faith?) in radiocarbon dating when you talk about the shroud but not when the subject is the age of the earth itself?

    Why is radiocarbon dating accurate sometimes but not other times? Perhaps it’s accurate when it supports something you believe in and not so much when it supports something you do not believe in? Not much of a scientist are you, yet you think somehow to criticize those who are…

  48. KF,

    He is simply not talking in terms of reliable predictions, but in terms of material explanations, and indeed say the FSCI criterion, Chi_500 = I*S – 500 bits beyond the solar system threshold, is quite reliable where we can test it.

    Really? Where can you test the FSCI criterion?

    The funny thing about FSCI is that, as others have noted, you have essentially made it up to support your argument.

    Yet in the last month or so you are the only person who has talked about it, really, at all. It’s not exactly setting the ID world on fire so how can it possibly be expected to make headway in the reality based community?

    For example, in the last month or so (give or take) FSCI has been mentioned by the following people other then you:

    Upright Biped (once)
    DrRec (once)
    William J Murrary (once)
    rhampton7 (three times!)
    And you’ve used it around 25 times in that time.

    Nobody cares about your fake metrics which can’t actually be applied to anything anyway because you stole the whole idea from some protein paper anyway and point to that when you are asked to calculate it. You don’t need to calculate it because they already have, right?

    Pathetic.

    Anyway, see for youself who has mentioned FSCI and any other words you like by reading this blog post I stumbled over:
    ID Searcher Tool thing

  49. KH:

    Please report accurately, instead of making up and knocking over ad hominem-laced strawmen, driven by a biased, superciliously and snidely dismissive view of what others “must” think.

    I have indeed highlighted the inherent methodological limitations in geodating methods, here. Those need to be honestly faced, not swept under the table in a rush to indoctrinate impressionable young minds; at least if educators have any regard to duties of care.

    If you had paused to look higher on the page — to see context and comment responsibly, under duties of care — you will see that the relevant page in IOSE LEADS with what I consider the best example of origins science done right, over the past 100 years. As in, can you tell us why it is I take the open star cluster H-R diagram branch points as giving us a significant and strong OBSERVATIONAL sign on a reasonable date for the observed cosmos? (And why I in that general context have noted on how Young Earth Creationists are seeking to reconcile a 10 kY earth with a 15 BY cosmos?)

    As for radiocarbon dating, it has many limitations and is in fact not really relevant to age of earth determinations. Out to about 3000 BC we have reasonable records that can be used to cross-check dating schemes, and enhance our confidence in their validity. Beyond that point, FYI, the witness of records dries up. And the cumulative issues of sample isolation, want of equilibrium for C14 in the atmosphere and related issues and concerns make C14 dates troubling — out to the theoretical 50 kY or s. Dendrochronology dates sometimes used to cross-correlate have an audit access problem, and more.

    So, an honest and sober assessment of timelines often presented as though they are indisputable facts of observation, will instead underscore the degree to which they depend on chains of inference and assumptions, resulting in many cases in circles of argument.

    And if you cannot face those challenges and limitations, then you are not interested in being truthful or well-warranted, but in presenting an ideology, the dominant myths of our time.

    Just remember, I have already lived to see Marxism collapse and to see the ideologues locked into that formerly seemingly invincible system of thought scrambling to explain themselves or dodging for any cover they could find.

    So, let’s be straight: I take dates out to about 3000 BC [as an order of magnitude] fairly seriously, noting that even these are subject to correction. Beyond that, I note the increasing reliance on ladders of inference and potentially circular assumptions, even with the vaunted isochrons. I have a much stronger respect for cosmological time estimates, especially those connected to the stellar physics of the HR diagram.

    But in none of these cases do I take such timelines as anything near absolute truth. (That exalted status, I reserve for self-evident truths.)

    After all, the big lesson of science across 2000+ years, is that its major theories and detailed claims are provisional. (Don’t forget that my home discipline, Physics, has had two major revolutions in 350 years, and if the current neutrino speed estimates hold up, may well have a third in our lifetime. [That, BTW, is why the investigators are being so cautious with their claims, they know how much is at stake.])

    GEM of TKI

  50. KH:

    I see you continue in a very familiar sounding line of supercilious, superficial, ill-informed dismissiveness.

    First, you need to look up a little phrase used by Abel, Trevors et al called FUNCTIONAL SEQUENCE COMPLEXITY [and the Durston et al metric on it based on Shannon's H as extended], which is closely related, and you need to examine the context of discussions of Complex Specified information out to the original use by Orgel and Wicken in the 1970′s, then recognise that in biology specification is by function, as Dembski noted in NFL.

    (The IOSE summary page here on will help you get started.)

    Once you have done that homework, you may then examine the Internet for the billions of cases of digitally coded functionally specific complex information that are of known provenance, and pass the 500 bits or 1,000 bits thresholds [72 or 143 ASCII characters]. Go into any good university library, and examine books with at least 72 or 143 characters in them. Let us know if you can identify a case where a book or web page in a known alphabetic language [just for simplicity] has had a coherent intelligible message of more than these limits and has been produced by blind chance and mechanical necessity. (If you want to play at the GA produces FSCI game, note they are designed, start in a target zone and move to defined peaks on designed functions that allow for hill climbing in the Mt Improbable sense.)

    You will find none.

    Test case base: billions.

    After that, kindly go here to the useful, testimony against interest Wiki page on the infinite monkeys theorem. Notice what they have to say about random document generation:

    The theorem concerns a thought experiment which cannot be fully carried out in practice, since it is predicted to require prohibitive amounts of time and resources. Nonetheless, it has inspired efforts in finite random text generation.

    One computer program run by Dan Oliver of Scottsdale, Arizona, according to an article in The New Yorker, came up with a result on August 4, 2004: After the group had worked for 42,162,500,000 billion billion monkey-years, one of the “monkeys” typed, “VALENTINE. Cease toIdor:eFLP0FRjWK78aXzVOwm)-‘;8.t” The first 19 letters of this sequence can be found in “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”. Other teams have reproduced 18 characters from “Timon of Athens”, 17 from “Troilus and Cressida”, and 16 from “Richard II”.[21]

    A website entitled The Monkey Shakespeare Simulator, launched on July 1, 2003, contained a Java applet that simulates a large population of monkeys typing randomly, with the stated intention of seeing how long it takes the virtual monkeys to produce a complete Shakespearean play from beginning to end. For example, it produced this partial line from Henry IV, Part 2, reporting that it took “2,737,850 million billion billion billion monkey-years” to reach 24 matching characters:

    RUMOUR. Open your ears; 9r”5j5&?OWTY Z0d…

    Due to processing power limitations, the program uses a probabilistic model (by using a random number generator or RNG) instead of actually generating random text and comparing it to Shakespeare. When the simulator “detects a match” (that is, the RNG generates a certain value or a value within a certain range), the simulator simulates the match by generating matched text.

    I hope the above is enough as a lesson in the importance of focussing on the relevant facts and reasoning behind a case, instead of on polarising and superficially dismissive, supercilious rhetorical talking points.

    After that, return from the cluster of tangential red herrings lead away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems and ignited through such rhetoric, and actually deal with the key matter on the table for this thread: the Lewonin, NAS and NSTA a priori materialism agenda for science and science education.

    Good day

    GEM of TKI

  51. F/N I suggest the serious onlooker would find it useful to read the UD ID found’ns posts here (on FSCO/I) and here (On the log reduced CSI metric; which, far from being “fake,” is a log reduced, simplified version of the Dembski Chi metric published in NFL, and adapted to the Planck time quantum state resources of our solar system’s 10^57 atoms across 10^17 s reasonable age estimate; then used to give a criterion beyond which is ti reasonable to infer that blind chance and mechanical necessity could not plausibly arrive at a special, unrepresentative zone of the relevant config space).

  52. KF,

    (If you want to play at the GA produces FSCI game, note they are designed, start in a target zone and move to defined peaks on designed functions that allow for hill climbing in the Mt Improbable sense.)

    Can you provide a list of the types of “maps” that you have that show these “islands of functionality” you claim provide support for your claim that evolution could not have happened?

    {Ed: Notice the projection that puts words in my mouth that do not belong there. My objection, as a design thinker, is to a very specific claim made by supporters of Darwinian macroevo: that chance variation plus natural selection can write the complex digital code required to produce novel body plans. Evolution being a very slippery term with several meanings, I make no assertion that no evo happened or even no body plan evo happened. I, along with many design thinkers, object to the proposed Darwinian mechanism as utterly implausible and credibly impotent to write the required code for proteins and for regulating their expression to build body plans. Intelligently directed evolution and/or creation of body plans with built in adaptation mechanisms to fit ecological niches or be robust in response to variable and challenging environments, is entirely reasonable. To get a proper idea of an island of function map — notice, BTW, how this has all become ever so tangential to the serious issue on the table for the thread — take the usual representations of fitness functions, and then reckon that these sit in vast seas of non-functional configs for the relevant informational elements involved, not just the much narrower set allowed to vary by the intelligently designed algorithm.}

    Please iterate through the entirety of configuration space for all possible proteins and draw this map you claim you have intimate knowledge of, so much so that you can say confidently that evolution cannot traverse it.

    After that, kindly go here to the useful, testimony against interest Wiki page on the infinite monkeys theorem. Notice what they have to say about random document generation:

    Only you are claiming that randomness at that level has anything to do with evolution. It’s just you!

    It’s a strawman.

    {Ed: The darwinian mechanism is chance variation plus natural selection leading to descent with modification. The selection part does not actually add information, it culls out some variations that are supposedly less fit. So, the source of info is: chance variation, in its various forms. Chance is of course another word for randomness. Randomness filtered by trial and error then competitive degree of success. The required info for a new body plan is of order 10 – 100 Mbits, starting from a unicellular organism or even another form of multi. The only available source is chance variation, and the fact of codes and complex integrated function means that we are looking at islands of deeply isolated function, well beyond the 1,000 bit limit for the observed cosmos. To give an idea of what that is about, two or three typical proteins put us well beyond the limit, where as Axe has long since empirically showed, the proportion of AA sequence space that folds and may function is like 1 in 10^70. So, we have islands of function only credibly bridgeable by intelligence, which is exactly what Darwinian, materialistic evolution forbids.}

    Find me a biologist that says that the possibility of a cell coming together randomly is relevant in any way to biology please.

    {Ed: Strawman. The barrier does not begin at the level of say an E coli assembled by chance, but at the level of a coded self replication, metabolising entity with a protective membrane to preserve the contents form a hostile external environment. These irreducibly complex requisites quickly push you well beyond the FSCI threshold. And tha tis just OOL. We have already seen the problem beyond OOL, for OO body plans.}

    After that, return from the cluster of tangential red herrings lead away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems and ignited through such rhetoric, and actually deal with the key matter on the table for this thread: the Lewonin, NAS and NSTA a priori materialism agenda for science and science education.

    You don’t even live in the same country as those people or organisations, so why don’t you just quit your whining about other peoples problems and do some of the science that you claim is not being done instead?

    {Ed: of course, what is happening here is that the US NAS, NSTA etc and similar institutions across especially the dominant North of the planet, are imposing a radical redefinition of science as applied materialistic ideology. That has serious implications for our whole civilisation and world, and so I do have an interest as a scientific person in my own right, who has as well interest in education. In particular, the a priori imposition of materialism as noted above, is a serious breakdown of the core integrity of science.}

    You’d be much more productive. All you are doing here is repeating the same arguments over and over, literally for years. And who have you convinced so far, in all that time? What headway has FSCI made in all that time? If you google it it does not even come up at all!

    The first hit I get for FSCI is to a small fuel supplier. Ten links would probably be sufficent to get your version to the top but where are they? It’s only you that uses, cares knows about FSCI.

    WRITE A PAPER!
    MAN UP! BRAVE THE SLINGS AND ARROWS, PUBLISH OR PERISH!

    {Ed: Irrelevant, save that of course there are published papers on CSI and FSC which are the underlying concepts. FSCI is of course CSI where — as is true for biosystems — the specification is on function. And, we can take it that from the harsh tone and stridency of objections, there is a reason why this is not being simply ignored. Namely, it is indeed having impact.}

  53. The serious onlooker might consider the serious lack of content at those links.

    The lack of a way to calculate, beyond the most trivial “how many possibilities” this thing called FSCO.

    {Ed: This is dismissive, misleading and ill-informed, defiantly so. A main linked of course contains an explanation of exactly how the Dembski Chi metric from his 2005 paper can be reduced and simplified, turned into a simpler to use threshold metric; and BTW, it is hardly dismissively trivial to outline a method of going from functionally specific complex, Wicken wiring diagram organisation, to a structured breakdown into yes/no decisions that draws out the implicit functionally specific complex information in the organised object, etc. It then proceeds to use the Durston et al [peer-reviewed] table of results for 35 protein families, on the analysis of H as average info per symbol, to deduce values for three examples — and thus demonstrating a generally applicable procedure, all beyond the threshold whereby we are for excellent reason connected to sampling theory as explained, confident that we are seeing a reliable sign pointing to design. Design of the protein families of life. Other linked materials set the design theory issue in context of the rise of a priori materialism as a censoring constraint on origins science, and explain why it is significant and important enough that the monopoly of the a priori materialists over origins science education should be broken.}

    8 –> Even at 398 bits that makes sense as the total number of Planck-time quantum states for the atoms of the solar system [most of which are in the Sun] since its formation does not exceed ~ 10^102, as Abel showed in his 2009 Universal Plausibility Metric paper. The search resources in our solar system just are not there.
    9 –> So, we now

    What mechanism are you using to search the configuration space?

    What specific mechanism?

    And once you have identified the mechanism, please identify the analog of that mechanism in biological terms.

    {Ed: This willfully ignores the precise issue at stake. Any chance and necessity mechanism is constrained by the space of possible configurations of in this case digital strings; and the accessible atomic resources of our solar system or the observed cosmos. Intelligence, routinely, is known to be able to create FSCI using the knowledge, skill, imagination and purposefulness of mind. It is known that for OOL, the root of the Darwinian tree of life, appeal is being made to the chemistry — thus thermodynamics and statistical thermodynamics — of warm little ponds, and/or volcano vents undersea, or comets etc. The search space issues immediately apply. In already living cells, it is known that especially animals propagate by creating embryos of one kind or another from a fertilised egg cell. That first cell has to unfold a body plan step by step from that first cell. So, the digital — discrete state — genetic and regulatory info that governs that process is at focus. And, the body plan variation mechanisms proposed have been known since Darwin to be based on chance variation plus natural selection leading to descent with modification, later modified to highlight genetic mutations expressed as accidents in DNA of various kinds. Natural selection is a culling out of the less fit or the unfit, so it subtracts rather than adds information; a point you would not pick up from the habitual tendency to explain evolutionary change on “natural selection. ” That habit reflects the deeply problematic nature of the remaining possible source of novel info: chance, non-foresighted variations expressed through mutations of various kinds. Common sense will tell us that chance is unlikely to write significant quantities of information, even when filtered by trial and error — the key fallacy in Genetic Algorithms when they are viewed as models of body plan origin macroevo, is that they substitute trial and differential success along a generally well-behaved trend pointing up to Mt Improbable, for trial and error. Body plans form early in embryonic development so we know the class of mutations we are looking at: chance variations in a tightly integrated, critical process, which are maximally likely to be damaging or fatal. As Meyer noted in his well-known PBSW article:

    >> In order to explain the origin of the Cambrian animals, one must account not only for new proteins and cell types, but also for the origin of new body plans . . . Mutations in genes that are expressed late in the development of an organism will not affect the body plan. Mutations expressed early in development, however, could conceivably produce significant morphological change (Arthur 1997:21) . . . [but] processes of development are tightly integrated spatially and temporally such that changes early in development will require a host of other coordinated changes in separate but functionally interrelated developmental processes downstream. For this reason, mutations will be much more likely to be deadly if they disrupt a functionally deeply-embedded structure such as a spinal column than if they affect more isolated anatomical features such as fingers (Kauffman 1995:200) . . . McDonald notes that genes that are observed to vary within natural populations do not lead to major adaptive changes, while genes that could cause major changes–the very stuff of macroevolution–apparently do not vary. In other words, mutations of the kind that macroevolution doesn’t need (namely, viable genetic mutations in DNA expressed late in development) do occur, but those that it does need (namely, beneficial body plan mutations expressed early in development) apparently don’t occur.6 >>

    So, we can see that the objection is specious and strawmannish. The specific issues on the table are well known, and have long been known.}

  54. BTW: FSCO:

    KF: 11
    Joseph: 4
    GinoB: 12
    William J Murray: 14

    Doing a little better on that one.

  55. If you interfere with the material body you affect, suppress, and even destroy consciousness.

    Trivial and wrong. That interfering with the material body affects consciousness has been known for millennia: simple sensations are evidence of that. It is obviosuly in no way evidence that consciousness is generated by the body.

    It is an inference based on observation. It is also evidence – but not in any way conclusive. Single pieces of evidence rarely are.

    The interface model, where a conscious I interacts both ways with the brain, perfectly explains that.

    So does the model where consciousness is generate by the brain – Your model requires an extra entity – the immaterial I. Which one is less parsimonious in not positing an unmeasurable and unobserved entity?

    Consciousness is never destroyed.

    That is a big claim – care to back it up with empirical evidence?

    You might claim that the consciousness is unaffected or not really destroyed

    I would say, not destroyed at all.

    but you need evidence if you want to make this claim

    You start. You were the first to claim.

    No – you made this claim:

    Consciousness is never destroyed.

    There is no empirical evidence I know of where a consciousness persists or returns after the death of the brain and body. I’m making an inference based on observation – you are making a claim. Back it up!

    What a pity that strong AI it is not even an explanation, least of all “the best”.

    ?? was that relevant in any way ??

    all empirically observed acts of intelligence are produced by beings made of physical matter

    No. All empirically observed acts of intelligence are traceable to conscious representations in human cosnciousness. Again, that humans are “made of physical matter” is an unwarranted assumption. Their body certainly is.

    Actually yes – all observed acts of design are traceable to a physical entity. The claim you are making is that those entities require some non physical attributes to function. That humans are made of physical matter is not an assumption – it is a direct observation. What is not observed is anything (yet) that operates outside the laws of the known universe. Notice that I am not actually denying the idea of some, as yet unmeasured, entity lying at the root of consciousness – I am just making an inference from observation.

    Therefore, unless you want to dogmatically impose your personal views about what is called by all “the hard problem of consciousness”, certainly one of the most fundamental unsolved problems in human thought, you cannot ask that others share your subjective ideology.

    I’m not imposing my views, just giving my opinion – are you imposing your personal views about what is called by all “the hard problem of consciousness”? (and I agree that it is a hard problem and not understood – I have friends who work directly in the field) My own attitude is ‘we don’t know’ and from that I look to the little that we do know.

    And you cannot base a “best explanation” on an unwarranted assumption, based on a subjective ideology.

    Exactly – you summarized the problems many people have with ID ;)

  56. KF,

    If you want to play at the GA produces FSCI game, note they are designed, start in a target zone and move to defined peaks on designed functions that allow for hill climbing in the Mt Improbable sense.

    Yes, I’d like to play that game.

    I’d like you to identify a GA. Your choice. And then I’d like you to tell me:

    When it is generating FSCI?
    How much FSCI it’s generating?
    What the maximum amount of FSCI it can generate is?
    Can you predict how much FSCI it will generate in a given time?
    Can you predict when it will stop generating FSCI?

    {Ed: GA’s start as intelligently designed FSCI, and by virtue of the program and its execution on an equally intelligently designed machine, they make the built in FSCI explicit. This has been gone over again and again in recent months so, just do a google search of UD for Genetic Algorithms.}

    As presumably not a GAs are alike in their ability to generate FSCI.

    So, we have the FSCI level at the “starting zone”. Please calculate that. Then please show the FSCI level as it moves towards defined peaks on designed functions and hill climbs.

    Please demonstrate that the FSCI (if it does, you tell me) rises while hill climbing and falls when moving towards the bottom of a valley.

    {Ed: The entire GA exercise is FSCI from the beginning, it simply blindly executes and algorithm to make explicit what was implicit from the beginning, preloaded by the intelligent programmer.}

    Please support your claim with specific answers to my specific questions, or note them down for use later in future research pointers – I’m good like that you see.

  57. ED: KH has now resorted to outright rudeness and willful patently false accusation, and is asked to apologise or leave this thread. He now stands at strike two.

  58. As a starting point it would be good to have the FSCI of a GA without the fitness function because they are easily separable and fitness functions of different complexities can be used with the same GA.

    {Ed: please see comment on GAs and FSCI just below.}

  59. KF, you are frequently as rude and you owe plenty of people apologies already!

  60. KF,

    ED: KH has now resorted to outright rudeness and willful patently false accusation, and is asked to apologise or leave this thread. He now stands at strike two.

    Sigh. Why then don’t you just make me out to be a fool simply by answering my questions, questions that to me you must be able to answer in order to confidently make the factual assertions that litter your comments. Which if in fact you can’t answer. Well…

    {Ed: There is a reasonable level of tone appropriate for this blog, which KH has circumvented, reaching the point of patently false and reckless accusation of fakery. In an internet age where one can go over to Blogger or the like and blog away to heart’s content, the balance of responsibility and judgement on basic reasonableness of tone shifts; as I suspect KH full well knows.}

    If you did answer them, that would show me, right?

    I mean, what specifically have I done to offend you? Was it the radiocarbon dating comment? But I’ve read your own words where you detail how the earth cannot be dated to any reasonable degree of accuracy. Yet the shroud can be dated to within a single year! Is my offense simply to ask a question that logically flows from your own statements?

    {Ed: It seems KH does not know the difference between C-14 dating within the window of historical document cross checking and geodating beyond the 5500 y BP cutoff that this provides. As already noted his comment too far was the point where he falsely accused me of fakery, in a context where he could easily enough follow the links that would show just how the Chi_500 eqn was derived and how it addresses the relevant issues. That is gross disrespect and it is beyond the pale. I know all too well where tolerance for deteriorating tone goes in blog exchanges on topics like this, so I have cut off this discussion.}

    Can’t you draw me a few maps of islands of functionality?

    I’m dissapoint!

    Don’t want to tell me that all biologists thinks cells came together in a tornado in a junkyard?

    I’m dissapoint!

    {Ed: Alinskyite rhetoric of ridicule instead of dealing with a serious issue seriously, but KH apparently does not know that the imagery of islands of function arises from a simple extension of the concept of Mt Improbable style hill-climbing on a fitness function to the vastly larger set of configs where no function is present. Commonsense , really.}

    Pick a GA. Pick your starting point. Tell me the FSCI.

    {Ed: Apparently KH is unaware that GA’s have to be written in a code, based on algorithms and using data structures that are all intelligently designed. In addition, the GA uses a carefully tuned set of parameters and nice trendy fitness function all set to vary within a constrained zone of search, i.e we see Mt Improbable style hill climbing WITHIN an island of function. All of this is FSCI. Now of course the parallels to adaptation within a body plan are acceptable, and irrelevant to the issue highlighted by the design theory issues: origin of body plans as embryologically feasible units of function in the genome and associated regulatory systems in the zygote}

    Last warning, or please leave this thread and take your randomness strawmen with you.

    {ED: A typical empty turnabout accusation attempt. Further proof of the problem I am addressing.}

  61. KF,

    And should GP be present at the 2nd coming, surely our Lord would not mind a bit of medical examination! Such an examination would be obviously feasible, and would be unquestionably a scientific investigation of a d=supernatural case.

    So in all these years when you’ve been asked what the measurable actual thing is that you’d do when the materialistic veil is lifted from science this was what you had in mind all along?

    {Ed: Red herring led away to a strawman, with onward hostility hinted at. The example given, in context, was clearly an illustration that there is a definite class of possible supernatural occurrences that are subject to direct medical examination, i.e. to scientific investigation. So, the mantra that science cannot or must not investigate the supernatural, is directly shown to be false.}

    Really, the single, sole reason you can think of to give as an example in your multi year campaign that has attempted to besmirch the name of scientists all over the world and it’s all about the second coming?

    {Ed: Patently false accusation. I have taken time to identify a major distortion that has led to a problem in science, a priori materialism. I have not set out to besmirch scientists as such. Notice the immediate projection of hostility through motive mongering on KH’s part. And, if the “no true scientist” appeal is being made, that is self-refuting, i.e. if being a genuine scientist is being defined on acceptance of a priori materialism, that is exactly the point of the original post: science ought not to be subjected to a priori worldview control and censorship by materialism.}

    I already gave you permission to investigate the non-material. I’ve asked you already several times what you are planning to do. And yet nothing. And it was here all along.

    As are the medical examinations of a great many healings that beyond reasonable doubt have happened. (I suggest, again, that we will all find Rex Gardner’s discussion in BMJ December 1983 useful, start with the case of that bleeding post-partum woman in hospital in Pakistan.)

    So, it’s miracle healing is it? But we can investigate those. And we do investigate those. And each and every time there is no miracle. No succor for the faithful.

    {Ed: First, note: investigation of healings is a positive, direct demonstration that science can investigate the candidate supernatural, refuting the “science cannot investigate the supernatural” mantra we so often hear in connexion with the attempt to cast the origins science issues raided by design theory as nartu5ral vs supernatural instead of the actusl: chance and or necessity vs the ART-ificial, per empirically tested reliable signs. The blanket dismissals, in the teeth of a BMJ article that documents cases of healings in the current era that are reported by even named medical practitioners [esp the case of the postpartum bleeding woman in a hospital in Pakistan], bespeak the underlying closed minded hostility that KH manifests. Notice, he has not investigated these cases that appeared in a Medical Journal, but simply dismisses them. They do not fit his worldview so they did not happen regardless of evidence. on to the personal attacks. Fallacy of the mind closed and hostile to credible but contrary evidence. Sad.}

    Just a few tiny examples where the edges of the bell curve intersected with peoples lives.

    {Ed: H’mm, KH is willing to believe statistical miracles but not real ones of credible answers to prayer, even cases where, as Dr Ruth Coggan in Pakistan reports from Pennell Memorial Hospital NWFP Pakistan to Dr Gardner in the UK on follow up inquiry, which makes it through the editorial and presumably peer review of the BMJ — not News of the World or the like — that Kamro, due to a clotting defect, had 48 hours of heavy blood loss on childbirth, with a two pint transfusion. In Gardner’s considered estimate as an experienced medical practitioner, “[Kamro probably] lost more than her total blood volume during the 48 hours before clotting occurred.” [pp. 1929 - 30.] There are no tails to the bell curve for such cases, they die absent a miracle, which — thank God — is exactly what happened in this case, in answer to prayer. It is clear from this case, that NO reasonably accessible evidence will ever amount to enough to make KH or the likes seriously reconsider a position plainly arrived at on a priori grounds. Classic fallacy of the closed and hostile mind.}

    For every one of your “miracle” healings I can tell you 10 million dead of starvation.

    {Ed: Notice the distractor. Yes, it is sad that in a world where there is ever so much wealth and prosperity, many are malnourished and some starve, when instead of having to deal with wars and corruption and diversion of aid relief and kidnapping ans slaughter of aid workers, we could work to transform many parts of the world. But such is what happens in a world where men would rather use their God-given capabilities for self rather than service like both Drs Coggan and Gardner. [And, serious onlooker, if the underlying problem of evils is a burden to you, I suggest a look here. And this is freely made available to help you deal with a serious issue that is working to eat the heart out of our civilisation.]}

    So, KF, given the link you provided how can you say such things are being prevented from investigation? Who was the resident Darwinist at the hospital that stopped the investigation going past the material?

    {Ed: Notice the sarcastic turnabout attempt. In fact, the case is a direct refutation to the confident declarations of the US NAS and the NSTA with the NCSE hovering in the background that scientific investigations may not look at the supernatural or take it seriously. This is a corrective to a major and important movement in our civilisation — Science, that seems to have lost its way and has evidently been taken captive to a priori materialist ideology. But instead of dealing seriously with an exposed and corrected error, a distractive turnabout is resorted to.}

    The confident skeptical assertion collapses once we put it to even a modicum of scrutiny.

    Assertion? You’ve not even made a case! Your premise seems to be “because some people survived things we’d normally expect them to die from and we can’t explain how that means that the supernatural exists and somebody is intervening in reality to change the course of events, but I can’t tell you anything other then that but it’s true it is it is it is!”.

    {Ed: Notice the repetition of the closed minded dismissal that fails to even cursorily address the facts in evidence on credible record reported in a serious venue. This should tell us the damaging impact of the sort of censorship that has been imposed on education in science by the sort of materialistic dominance exposed in the original post and above.}

    An ago old question is what does your god have against amputees? http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

    I remember you being asked this before and somebody linked you to an claimed case hundreds of years ago. You seized that as immediate proof that it does in fact happen. Likewise presumably you believe in Dragons and that the Aztec people were visited by Aliens many many times.

    {Ed: Notice, the continued attitude. Also, the projection that if one believes miracles are possible, one is not sufficiently critical to distinguish myths and legends and urban legends from well warranted cases of, e.g. healing. As to God’s healing power, that some are not healed is painful, that some are credibly healed gives us hope and is positively transformative on our understanding of the world and what may be possible in and beyond it. All of this is being missed due to the closed minded hostility we are seeing laid out before us. Sad.}

    Tell me KF, do you believe that rosaries sometimes turn to gold at Lourdes?

    {Ed: Over the line. This is bigotry.}

  62. KH, I just wanted to add a possible correction (something which I didn’t actually know until a few years ago) Radio carbon dating only works back to about 65,000 years (because the half life of carbon 14 is about 5.5k years) So it isn’t ever used for geological dating and never features in estimates of the earths age.

    {Ed: Correct, at about 10 half lives, the result begins to fade into the general background count, though mass spectrometer methods make some difference, problem with these is they give a non infinite, sigtnificant age value for e.g. coal samples from the carboniferous layers. Long before that timeline point arrives, issues of leaching in/out, C-14 equilibrium in the atmosphere etc come into play.}

  63. KF has in the past said:

    For, first, events claimed to have happened 50 to 35 million years in the deep past are simply not open to direct observation; as, we were not there to see for ourselves, nor do we have generally acceptable and credible record of the true facts from those who were.

    {Ed: This is in response to a textbook which claims to have OBSERVED macroevolution in the time window 35 – 50 MYA, which is plainly impossible. That textbook passed editorial and peer reviews, and was widely issued. This is strong evidence that something is seriously wrong. [I wish I had saved the illustration when I first saw it, it is a classic of misleading iconography.]}
    And

    Now, we may argue that, notwithstanding such concerns, there is a general consensus that the dating scientists are dating something real. But, that is also an inference, not a direct observation or record of it by a competent and credible eyewitness. Radioactive dates, index fossil dates and stratigraphic dates however plausible they may seem to form a model timeline within the general origins science theoretical framework; they are not an extrinsic, independent cross-check on it.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....is-a-fact/

    {Ed: you will observe that this is actually an observation on the limitations of the geodating methods, as is appropriate if we are willing to look at strengths and limitations of scientific theories and claims objectively. That such an observation is cited as evidence against speaks sad volumes for how KH is approaching the matter.}

    And also

    If this were not so saddening, it would be amusing.

    Most of the calibration and ballpark thinking that phase locks results is happening long before we ever see formally reported results.

    Recall, what happened to the 212 230 MY result for the strata on lake Rudolf. Didn’t match the fossils, so out it goes. Next, cherry-pick samples subjectivity and plenty of opportunity to silently toss results. Then, when the evo narrative on the fossils demand a younger age, use fossils from over 100 miles away to recalibrate again.

    Presto, we have the required 1.9 MYA. And Wiki dismissed the older 2.6 MY age as an error.

    The difference is, in this case, it took years to get to the consensus, and the results in stages were published in Nature etc. In significant part, thanks to Richard Leakey’s theory.

    So, we can see the sausage factory in action.

    Do you understand why I am no longer so eager for sausage for lunch?

    GEM of TKI

    {Ed: This is of course the notorious case of the dating of the KBS tuff and the associated KNM-ER 1470 skull, which led to a major controversy across several years. Again, I am reporting the actual history, but this is seen as unacceptable to the indoctrinated. Onlookers, cf here for the history in summary.}
    plus

    And, maybe the reason for my declaring myself a geochronological agnostic is clearer. Isn’t the revealed inconsistency in standards of warrant ever so telling. For me, all I am saying is that the models and timelines of the past are just that, not practically certain fact.

    Nobody claims they are “fact”. That’s not what science does. But you are unable to credably dispute the findings so I suppose claiming they are “fact” and you don’t have to believe those “facts” is all you can do.

    {Ed: Geochronological timelines are quite often presented as practically unquestionable fact, and it is the fact that I am showing that they are models with strengths and limitations not actual observed reality that is stirring the ire of this objector.}

    Lastly:

    Putting that another way: Indium were you there? Did you see the deep past of origins? If not, do you have the record of those who were? Are we then dealing with that which is testable based on observation? So, then are not our results inherently tentative and untestable against reality, i.e. necessarily circular?

    Where you there KF? Were you?

    {Ed: it should be quite plain that my point is that we are at best reconstructing a remote, unobserved past, in response to someone who IIRC, was objecting to the idea that these have serious limitations that should be taught to the public.}

    KF thinks that scientists act like this:

    cherry-pick samples subjectivity and plenty of opportunity to silently toss results

    {Ed: neatly snipped out of context. The KNM-ER 1470 case is a definite case in point where the results were in the end cherry picked, and the “outliers” were silently tossed. In context I have noted and others have noted that he tossed results are often sincerely seen as “wrong” due to the impact of ballpark thinking.}

    When in fact he’s really subconsciously telling us how he’d act if he were in their shoes.

    {Ed: I am cautioning on the problem. But this is unacceptable, so I am smeared with a false accusation.}

  64. DrBot:

    Your model requires an extra entity – the immaterial I. Which one is less parsimonious in not positing an unmeasurable and unobserved entity?

    No. My model requires only an observed entity: the subjective I. Please note that I have not said “immaterial”. And my model describes its observed relations with perceived objects, through an interface that all of us can observe (the interaction between subjective states and objects, in both directions, as perceptions and actions).

    Your model assumes, without any reason or empirical support, that the subjective I (an observed entity) is explained by other completely different entities (objects and their relations). That is not parsimonious: it is simply arbitrary.

    There is no empirical evidence I know of where a consciousness persists or returns after the death of the brain and body. I’m making an inference based on observation

    You must be kidding. That would be an observation?

    Let’s see. We have a consciousness expressing itself through a body. OK.

    Then we observe the body stop and die (disintegrate, degenerate, whatever you want to call it).

    We obviously don’t see anymore the consciouness expressing through that body. How could it? The body is no more there.

    And you say that this is “observing” that the cosnciousness does not persist? Or “return”?

    What are you observing of the consciousness? Only the dying conscious being can observe its consciousness. Not you.

    And all the evidence from NDEs tells us that consciousness does survive, even in states of absent brain function.

    You are strangely ready to consider “observation” whatever imagination suits your ideas.

    ?? was that relevant in any way ??

    Sure. Strong AI is the foolish idea that some form of objective organization of matter can generate a conscious I. And that’s exactly the basis of your argumentations. It’s strong AI that pretends that the hard problem of consciousness has been solved by modern science, one of the biggest lies in human thought.

    all observed acts of design are traceable to a physical entity. The claim you are making is that those entities require some non physical attributes to function.

    No. You don’t understand my position at all. I have not made discussions of “physical” or “material”. Indeed, many times I have refused to use those terms, and when I do it’s only because my interlocutor uses them.

    What I claim is empirical. Subjective representations are a basic part of my map of reality. Consciosuness and the subjective I are a basic part of it. Why? Because they exist, and are perceived in the personal experience of each of us.

    I am not saying what consciousness is. I don’t pretend to have solved the hard problem of cosnciousness. But I call things with their names. The I is the I. It is not explained by anu objective theory. So it remains the I, for me.

    Please, read again more carefully my previous statement:

    “All empirically observed acts of intelligence are traceable to conscious representations in human cosnciousness. Again, that humans are “made of physical matter” is an unwarranted assumption. Their body certainly is.”

    It is simply true. All empirically observed acts of intelligence are traceable to conscious representations in human consciousness. Can you deny it?

    I am not saying that cosnciousness is not material. Obviously, I am not saying that ity is material. I am saying two very specific things:

    1) All acts of intelligence are traceable to conscious representations in human consciousness. A simple empirical fact.

    2) That humans are “made of physical matter” is an unwarranted assumption. Their body certainly is. A simple judgment about one of your gratuitous statements.

    This is what I have said.

    In rersponse, you give an amazing series of false statements:

    a) “All observed acts of design are traceable to a physical entity”.

    Not true. They are traceable to the conscious representations of an agent, expressed through a physical brain and body. Please note that I am not saying if those representations are “physical”. I don’t want to impose my ideas about the hard problem of consciousness to anyone. But it is certainly correct to call conscious rfepresentations “a separate entity”. They are perceived as a different part of reality, with specific properties which are different from the properties of so called objective entities.

    b) “The claim you are making is that those entities require some non physical attributes to function”.

    Simply not true. I have not made that claim. I have denied that consciousness can be explained by purely objective models. And I don’t like the ambiguous concepts of “physical” or “material”.

    c) ” That humans are made of physical matter is not an assumption – it is a direct observation.”

    Not true. That human bodies are made of physical matter is, perhaps, an observation. But humans are also a cosnciousness, with subjective experiences. Stating that consciousness is “made of physical matter” is the silly and unwarranted assumption of stron AI. Nobody in his mind should accept such a nonsense blindly.

    Your statement that “humans are made of physical matter” implies the truth of the strong AI assumption. Far from being a direct observation, it is indeed a gross attempt to present a silly theory as a fact.

    d) What is not observed is anything (yet) that operates outside the laws of the known universe.

    Obviously not true. Scientism at its lowest levels.

    What are you saying? That we know all the laws of the known universe? What about dark energy? What about consciousness? What about the many uncertain and contradicting intepretations of many aspects of quantum mechanics?

    What about the many unsolved observations in astrophysics? What about NDEs?

    And so on, and so on…

    Notice that I am not actually denying the idea of some, as yet unmeasured, entity lying at the root of consciousness

    Fine for me.

    I am just making an inference from observation

    False, as shown above.

    I’m not imposing my views, just giving my opinion

    You can give your opinion, and still recognize that the hard problem of consciousness is not solved. To state that it is solved scientifically is imposing a subjective view in the form of a scientific achievement (another way to define scientism).

    are you imposing your personal views about what is called by all “the hard problem of consciousness”?

    Not at all. I fully agree that it is not scientifically solved. And I have definite opinions about it, that I can freely share.

    and I agree that it is a hard problem and not understood – I have friends who work directly in the field) My own attitude is ‘we don’t know’ and from that I look to the little that we do know

    That looks like a healthy attitude :)

    But are you practicing what you preach?

    Exactly – you summarized the problems many people have with ID

    Similar feelings, but very different cognitive choices, it seems :)

  65. Anyway, see for youself who has mentioned FSCI and any other words you like by reading this blog post I stumbled over:

    Hahaha! I tried a couple of randomisations, and a significant number of the words popping up were my very own … I’ve only been here a week! Made much more sense post-mangling though! ;0)

    Best of a random bunch:

    you won’t be able to test that claim against another on a random walk, and therefore are essentially useless and don’t explain anything

    Hee hee!

  66. Au contraire, it seems you have engaged in enabling behaviour, with quite obvious consequences, as seen.

  67. KH:

    You have picked several remarks on the limitations of geodating out of context.

    This is plainly part of an attempt to drag the thread away from focus.

    I will not reward that behaviour, so I will now shut down comments, and add responses in brief overnight to what requires a reasonable comment for record, as editorial notes.

    GEM of TKI