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Fuller vs. Ruse: some thoughts on the controversy

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I have just been reading two articles on Intelligent Design which appeared in The Guardian recently: Science in God’s image (May 3, 2010) and
Intelligent design is an oxymoron (May 5, 2010). After reading the articles, I decided to write a detailed commentary on them both.

The first article is by Professor Steve Fuller and represents his personal view. Although his personal “take” on intelligent design is a controversial one in ID circles, Professor Fuller certainly has a clear grasp of what ID is and where it is heading.

The second article is by Professor Michael Ruse. Professor Ruse has previously debated ID proponents, including Professor William Dembski, so one might reasonably expect him to write a well-informed critique. However, after reading his latest article, I regret to say that Professor Ruse never seems to have understood the nature of the Intelligent Design project in the first place.

1. My comments on Professor Steve Fuller’s article

The most interesting paragraph of Professor Fuller’s article is also the most controversial one. It warrants careful analysis.

The most basic formulation of ID is that biology is divine technology. In other words, God is no less – and possibly no more – than an infinitely better version of the ideal Homo sapiens, whose distinctive species calling card is art, science and technology. Thus, when ID supporters claim that a cell is as intelligently designed as a mousetrap, they mean it literally. The difference between God and us is simply that God is the one being in whom all of our virtues are concentrated perfectly, whereas for our own part those virtues are distributed imperfectly amongst many individuals.

Before I comment on this paragraph, I’d like to recall what I wrote in a post entitled In Praise of Subtlety (22 April 2010), on the philosophy of John Duns Scotus, a medieval theologian known as the Subtle Doctor:

Scotus held that since intelligence and goodness were pure perfections, not limited by their very nature to a finite mode of realization, they could be predicated univocally of God and human beings. To be sure, God’s way of knowing and loving is altogether different from ours: it belongs to God’s very essence to know and love perfectly, whereas we can only know and love by participating in God’s knowledge and love. Also, God’s knowledge and goodness are essentially infinite, while our knowledge and goodness are finite. However, what it means for God to know and love is exactly the same as what it means for human beings to know and love.

However, God is not a Superman. Speaking as a Christian who professes the Catholic faith, and who happens to admire certain aspects of Duns Scotus’ philosophy, I would reverse Professor Fuller’s statement that God is an infinitely better version of the ideal Homo sapiens, for two reasons: first, it exposes believers to the charge of anthropomorphism, and of making God in our own image; second, the ideal Homo sapiens is still an embodied being, whereas God is a spirit. What I would say instead is that human beings possess intelligence and moral goodness to a finite degree, precisely because they are made in the image and likeness of the infinite God. But whereas God is Intelligence and Goodness personified, humans can only know and love by participating in God’s intelligence and love.

What about Professor Fuller’s statement that “biology is divine technology”? This is a statement which no scientist or theologian needs to fear, if by “technology” we simply mean the generation of things whose creation requires skill. By “skill” I mean an activity performed by an intelligent agent acting intentionally, and resulting in information that generates a specific pattern or form. Skill, as I define it here, does not have to include the physical activity of assembling the parts of a thing, piece by piece. God is perfectly free to create as He chooses, using either natural or supernatural means. The term “divine technology” therefore refers to God’s intentional activity of creating certain patterns in nature which embody a very specific kind of information.

As I see it, the main point of the ID program is that certain identifiable features of living things had to have been explicitly specified by the Creator of the biosphere – whether directly (through an act of intervention), or indirectly (either by fine-tuning the initial conditions of the universe, or by building highly specific laws into the fabric of the cosmos, in order to generate the desired features). How God specified these features is unimportant; the question ID attempts to answer is: which features of the biosphere can be shown to be specified? Did God specify the design of the okapi? I have no idea. But ID proponents can confidently claim that the design of the first living cell, the body plans of the 30+ phyla of animals living today, and numerous irreducibly complex systems found in the cells of organisms (including the bacterial flagellum and the blood clotting system) were explicitly specified by the Creator of the biosphere. And the list of specifications is likely to keep growing.

Of course, religious believers are right to point out that even in the absence of any identifiable specifications, the cosmos, and every thing in it, would still need to be kept in being by God. For the cosmos is contingent; it cannot explain its own existence. This is a metaphysical fact, which believers (including many in the ID camp) will assent to. But ID itself is not a metaphysical project, but a scientific one. The question it seeks to answer in the biological arena is: are there any empirically identifiable features of living things that had to have been explicitly specified by their Creator, and if so, which ones?

The other paragraph I’d like to highlight from Steve Fuller’s essay is the following:

But the basic point that remains radical to this day is that, in important ways, the divine and the human are comparable. Notwithstanding Adam’s fall, we are still created “in the image and likeness of God”. From this biblical claim it follows that we might be capable of deploying the powers that distinguish us from the other animals to come closer to God. Such is the theological template on which the secular idea of progress was forged during the scientific revolution.

I agree with the theological point Fuller is making here. Of course the divine and human are comparable, despite the vast differences that separate them: even to say that God’s intelligence is infinite while that of humans is finite is to make a comparison, as it involves predicating intelligence of both God and human beings. The human intellect, which scientists use whenever they do science, is made in God’s image. Fuller’s modest statement that we “might be capable” (emphasis mine) of coming closer to God by using our intellects, which distinguish us from the other animals, is a worthy and pious hope. It is an historical fact that the pioneers of the scientific revolution thought they were thinking God’s thoughts after Him, and the contemporary scientific quest for a mathematically elegant “theory of everything” has a strong mystical streak: at heart, it reflects an endeavor to second-guess the way in which God, the Supreme Intelligence, would have designed the fundamental parameters of the cosmos.

This mysticism at the heart of science explains why Albert Einstein, although not a believer in a personal God, felt impelled to make declarations such as these: “I maintain that the cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research,” and “What I am really interested in is knowing whether God could have created the world in a different way; in other words, whether the requirement of logical simplicity admits a margin of freedom.”

Not being an historian of science, I do not wish to take issue with Professor Fuller’s assertion, which he makes later on his article, that ID “is no more anti-science than the original Protestant reformers were atheists,” or with his view that the Scientific Revolution was to a large degree inspired by Protestant thinking. I will simply point out in passing that the scientific revolution is commonly considered to have begun with the publication of two ground-breaking works in 1543: Nicolaus Copernicus’s De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) and Andreas Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human body). Both of these works were written by Catholics. On the whole, I believe Christianity – whether Catholic or Protestant – to be a science-friendly religion.

In my opinion, however, Fuller’s observation that people today are taking science into their own hands, just as they took religion into their hands in the 16th and 17th centuries, is sociologically accurate, and he is surely right to draw parallels between the role of the Internet as the means by which people are now calling into question assertions made by experts in various scientific fields (think of global warming, for instance), and the role of the printing press in the 16th and 17th centuries as the vehicle through which statements by authority figures in the religious domain were brought into question.

2. My comments on Professor Michael Ruse’s article

I am very sorry to say that Professor Ruse’s article, Intelligent design is an oxymoron, contains about as many factual and logical inaccuracies as it contains statements. These inaccuracies relate to science, philosophy and religion. To illustrate my point, I shall quote excerpts from the article and briefly comment on each.

At the heart of Steve Fuller’s defense of intelligent design theory (ID) is a false analogy. He compares the struggles of the ID supporters to the travails of the Protestant Reformers. Just as they stood against the established Catholic church, so the ID supporters stand against establishment science, specifically Darwinian evolutionary theory. Where this comparison breaks down is that the Protestants were no less Christians than the Catholics. It was rather that they differed over the right way to get to heaven. For the Protestants it was justification through faith, believing in the Lord, whereas for Catholics, it was good works. Given that Saint Augustine, some thousand years before, had labeled the Catholic position the heresy of Pelagianism, the reformers had a good point.

The first paragraph of Professor Ruse’s article is riddled with factual errors. Where to begin?

(1) Full marks to Professor Ruse for acknowledging that Protestants and Catholics are both Christians. At least he got that right.

(2) Professor Ruse is quite wrong in claiming that Catholics believe good works will get you to Heaven. Indeed, the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares the contrary: “We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved” (paragraph 2005). Paragraphs 1987-2029 of the Catechism explain what the Catholic Church actually teaches on grace and justification. Readers will be pleasantly surprised to learn that Catholics and Protestants are a lot closer on these issues than is popularly assumed.

(3) Pelagius, according to the same catechism, “held that man could by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God’s grace, lead a morally good life” (paragraph 406). As the catechism mentions in a footnote, Pelagius’s teachings (including a watered-down version of his views, called Semipelagianism) were officially condemned by the Catholic Church at the Second Council of Orange in 529 A.D.

(4) Saint Augustine did not label the Catholic position “Pelagianism.” On the contrary, he did everything in his power (including lobbying two Popes) to get the Catholic Church to condemn Pelagius’ errors – an endeavor in which he was finally successful.

(5) The Catechism of the Catholic Church approvingly cites St. Augustine no less than six times in its article on Grace and Justification (paragraphs 1987-2029). Which is a pretty odd thing to do if St. Augustine said the Catholic Church was in “heresy,” don’t you think?

Not a good start. And I’m afraid it doesn’t get better. Here’s another excerpt:

In the ID case, whatever its supporters may say publicly for political purposes – in the USA thanks to the First Amendment you cannot teach religion in state-funded schools – the intention is to bring God into the causal process. ID claims that there are some phenomena (like the bacterial flagellum and the blood-clotting cascade) are so “irreducibly complex,” that to explain them we must invoke an “intelligent designer.” As they admit among themselves – the philosopher-mathematician William Dembski is quite clear on this – the designer is none other than our old friend the God of Christianity.

(1) “Bring God into the causal process”?? The notion makes absolutely no sense. According to religious believers, no causal process could exist without God in the first place. God sustains the universe in being; it would not exist, even for a second, without Him.

(2) Irreducibly complexity doesn’t come in degrees; either a system is irreducibly complex or it isn’t. Professor Ruse’s phrase “so irreducibly complex” (emphasis mine) betrays a misunderstanding of this point.

(3) Professor Dembski’s views on the identity of the intelligent designer form no part of Intelligent Design theory, as contained in ID textbooks. Intelligent Design as such is a scientific project.

(4) Professor Dembski’s religious views and motives are no more germane to the scientific merits of Intelligent Design theory than the atheistic views and motives of most neo-Darwinists are of relevance to the scientific merits of neo-Darwinism.

Professor Ruse opens his third paragraph with the following jaw-dropper:

The trouble for the Fuller analogy is that science simply does not allow God as a causal factor.

Now, if Professor Ruse had claimed that science does not explicitly invoke God as a causal factor, he would have been on strong argumentative ground. But to say that science does not allow God as a causal factor is patently absurd. Or does Ruse really think that scientists can legislate God out of existence?

Professor Ruse goes on to cite a nineteenth-century Anglican divine, William Whewell, on the limits of science:

“The mystery of creation is not within the range of her [science's] legitimate territory; she says nothing, but she points upwards.”

Three points in reply:

(1) Whewell’s view on the limits of science is a venerable and respected one; but that does not make it right. In the end, science is the quest for the best explanations of the phenomena we observe. In the last few decades, modern science has encountered certain highly specified phenomena, within the domains of both physics (finely tuned constants of nature) and biology (specified complexity within the cell). Maybe methodological naturalism needs to be questioned.

(2) Intelligent Design theory does not specify the identity of the Designer, as Professor Ruse is well aware.

(3) Even if ID proponents were to reason like Professor Fuller would like them to do, and try to reverse-engineer the cell, assuming it to have been designed by an infinitely intelligent Being (God), the modus operandi of the Creator would still remain a mystery. Thus even if scientists were to abandon methodological naturalism and embrace theism, creation would retain an aura of mystery for them.

Professor Ruse continues:

In the 20th century, two of the most important Darwinian biologists – Ronald Fisher in England and the Russian-born Theodosius Dobzhansky in America – were deeply committed Christians.

Now, Fisher was indeed a devout Anglican, despite his rather Darwinian views on eugenics; but Dobzhansky’s religious views were anything but Christian, according to this interesting article by Denyse O’Leary. A eulogy published by Dobzhansky’s pupil Francisco Ayala in 1977 described the content of his religion thus: “Dobzhansky was a religious man, although he apparently rejected fundamental beliefs of traditional religion, such as the existence of a personal God and of life beyond physical death. His religiosity was grounded on the conviction that there is meaning in the universe. He saw that meaning in the fact that evolution has produced the stupendous diversity of the living world and has progressed from primitive forms of life to mankind. Dobzhansky held that, in man, biological evolution has transcended itself into the realm of self-awareness and culture. He believed that somehow mankind would eventually evolve into higher levels of harmony and creativity.” [Ayala, F.J., "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution," Journal of Heredity, Vol. 68, January-February 1977, p. 9.]

Professor Ruse goes on to accuse ID proponents of being defeatists, and hence no true scientists:

As Thomas Kuhn pointed out repeatedly, when scientists cannot find solutions, they don’t blame the world. They blame themselves. You don’t give up in the face of disappointments. You try again. Imagine if Watson and Crick had thrown in the towel when their first model of the DNA molecule proved fallacious. The very essence of ID is admitting defeat and invoking inexplicable miracles. The bacterial flagellum is complex. Turn to God! The blood clotting cascade is long and involved. Turn to God! That is simply not the way to do science.

(1) Contrary to what Ruse claims, ID proponents are eternally grateful to Watson and Crick for persevering in their quest to identify the structure of DNA. Without their persistence, scientists would never have known that DNA is a digital code, which contains a large amount of specified information. It was precisely this feature of DNA that Dr. Stephen Meyer highlighted in his recent book, Signature in the Cell, in which he argued that only the intentional activity of an intelligent agent could adequately explain the occurrence of DNA.

(2) ID proponents would never urge a scientist to give up trying to understand a process that is already known to occur, such as heredity. We should never give up trying to understand what things are; that’s science. The question that preoccupies ID is where they came from, or what process generated them in the first place.

(3) ID invokes an Intelligent Designer only when it has established that the probability of a specified biological feature arising as a result of the laws of nature coupled with random processes, falls below a well-defined threshold. Thus if evolutionary naturalism is true, then the emergence of this feature would be astronomically improbable. In a situation like this, invoking an Intelligent Designer is not “giving up”; on the contrary, it simply amounts to a rational decision to stop flogging a dead horse (evolutionary naturalism).

(4) As a scientific project, Intelligent Design does not equate the Designer with God, even if many ID proponents happen to believe that the Designer is in fact God.

In any case, there’s no need to worry, Professor Ruse assures us: science has succeeded in explaining away the very phenomena that gave rise to ID theory.

And as it happens, both the flagellum and the cascade have revealed their very natural, law-bound mysteries to regular scientists who keep plugging away and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

(1) Regarding the flagellum: curious readers may like to click here to hear Professor Michael Behe explain why, in his view, the flagellum is irreducibly complex, on Intelligent Design the Future. Behe also examines the two currently proposed evolutionary explanations for the assembly of the flagellum, co-option and homology, showing why both proposals fall short in uncovering the origins of this molecular machine. See also Behe’s recent blog post, “Reducible complexity’ in PNAS, which debunks claims that the evolution of the flagellum has now been explained in naturalistic terms, without the need for a Designer.

(2) As regards the blood clotting cascade, readers might like to begin with In Defense of the Irreducibility of the Blood Clotting Cascade: Response to Russell Doolittle, Ken Miller and Keith Robison (July 31, 2000), by Professor Michael Behe, as well as Casey Luskin’s recent recap, Kenneth Miller, Michael Behe and the Irreducible Complexity of the Blood Clotting Cascade Saga (January 1, 2010), which has links to eleven follow-up articles on the blood clotting cascade.

I am not a scientist; but my impression is that Professor Behe acquits himself well in this dispute.

Professor Ruse has argued robustly, if erroneously, up to this point. But suddenly his tone changes from aggressive to wounded:

ID is theology – very bad theology. As soon as you bring God into the world on a daily creative basis, then the theodicy problem – the problem of evil – rears its ugly head. If God works away miraculously to do the very complex, presumably in the name of goodness, then why on earth does God not occasionally get involved miraculously to prevent the very simple with horrendous consequences? Some very, very minor genetic changes have truly dreadful effects, causing people life-long pain and despair. If God thought it worth His time to make the blood clot, then why was it not worth His time to prevent Huntingdon’s Chorea?

(1) ID as such does not claim that God interacts with the world on a daily basis. Another possibility, for those who accept ID, is that God fine-tuned the initial conditions of the cosmos at the beginning of time, so as to bring about the eventual emergence of irreducibly complex systems, such as the blood clotting cascade. No supernatural intervention is required on this scenario.

(2) Repairing mutations which occur in millions of individuals, and relate to thousands of different diseases, would demand a lot more Divine intervention than the single act of creating an irreducibly complex system.

(3) “What about preventing these mutations from happening in the first place?” I hear you ask. Easier said than done, and until we know the biological cost associated with doing that, it’s premature to complain about God not doing so. Some of these mutations might be beneficial in certain circumstances; removing them might not be a good idea.

(4) Religious believers would add that the Fall of our first parents might well have prevented God from intervening to prevent human suffering as often as He would have liked, during human history. Perhaps God’s hands are tied to some extent, by His promise to respect our freedom.

(5) The rhetorical argument proves too much, and could be used against any kind of personal religion: “If God thought it worth His time to [answer a prayer or work a miracle], then why was it not worth His time to prevent Huntingdon’s Chorea?”

Professor Ruse concludes:

Keep God out of the day-to-day functioning of things. If, like the archbishop of Canterbury, you absolutely must have God do law-breaking miracles – apparently he would give up and become a Quaker if the tomb had not been empty on the third day – then at least restrict His activities to the cause of our salvation.

Three short comments in reply:

(1) God conserves everything in being. Like it or not, God is involved in the “day-to-day functioning of things.”

(2) As the Creator of the cosmos, God is entitled to work miracles as rarely or as often as He wishes, and for whatever reason He wishes.

(3) Professor Ruse should not try to tell God what to do.

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171 Responses to Fuller vs. Ruse: some thoughts on the controversy

  1. A couple of years ago I attended a debate between Michael Ruse and Paul Nelson. My takeaway from Michael essentially boiled down to: “God wouldn’t have done it that way, and what about the problem of evil?”

    I have noticed a consistent pattern in such debates. It is fascinating that ID opponents almost always focus on theological issues, while ID proponents almost always focus on science: information theory and computational algorithms, probabilistic resources, systems engineering principles, error-detection-and-repair mechanisms and the difficulty associated with implementing such machinery, genetic entropy, and much more.

    The obvious conclusion is that anti-ID Darwinists are the real religious fanatics who are unwilling to objectively evaluate the empirical evidence and apply basic scientific and mathematical reasoning to the problem.

    The bottom line is that Ruse, Dawkins, et. al., are poorly educated concerning hard science and basic mathematics, and have no experience in the real world demonstrating that their wishful daydreams and speculations have any relevance to reality.

  2. “Dawkins, et. al., are poorly educated concerning hard science and basic mathematics, and have no experience in the real world demonstrating that their wishful daydreams and speculations have any relevance to reality.”

    But what do you expect from someone whose only tool is brute anti-intellectualism?

    After reading his pretentiously titled book, I was surprised by his limited (practically none) understanding of philosophy and formal logic.

    For one thing though, I am very glad I got to read it.

  3. Gil: ID opponents almost always focus on theological issues, while ID proponents almost always focus on science

    Um Gil, this blog is saturated in God. Its nothing but metaphysics/theology, all the way down. One thread after the other, you guys are obsessed with it.

    While Im at it, I am frequently admonished for claiming the designer is god. Perhaps this is bacause the ID crowd come up with stuff like the following:

    ID proponents can confidently claim that the design of the first living cell … were explicitly specified by the Creator of the biosphere

    So, is the designer God or not ?

  4. Whewell’s view on the limits of science is a venerable and respected one; but that does not make it right. In the end, science is the quest for the best explanations of the phenomena we observe.

    Yet, in the end, ‘science,’ as science, cannot tells us which of the potential explanations is the correct/true one. It can’t even tell us that we’ve discovered/considered all the potential explanations; so, of course, it cannot even tell us which is “best.”

    In truth, modern science is a petty little thing, of little import.

    Modern science is a toy for little boys; men do philosophy/theology … which, oddly enough, perhaps, may explain why the poseurs for scientism are always trying to pass off their childish metaphysical assertions and speculations as ‘Science!

  5. I always find the theodicy discussions so irrelevant because I have not found anyone here or anywhere else who can define evil. I have asked several times here and there have not been any takers yet.

    A couple have said something along the line of perverting or frustrating God’s will but that has nothing to do with disease, earthquakes and other natural tragedies. Maybe someone should take a shot at whatever the worse natural outcome imaginable and why it would be evil. It was the Lisbon earthquake that accelerated all this God is the cause of evil discussion but I find it all irrelevant.

    Any takers this time? Because if there are none then Ruse’s and many other’s arguments are pointless.

  6. 6

    I once watched a debate between Stephen Meyer and Ruse. Meyer went into as much detail as he could, given the time constraints, regarding his argument as presented in Signature in the Cell, and Ruse’s entire response boiled down to a statement of his belief about the motives of the ID proponents (to promulgate religion, etc.). Although Meyer gave a lengthy explanation of the intellectual process that led, ultimately, to his book, which had nothing to do with promoting religion, I was a little annoyed that he didn’t point out that motives are irrelevant to a scientific argument. The only counter to an argument based on scientific facts is an argument based on scientific facts, and this was entirely missing from anything that Ruse said.

  7. 7

    To Jerry:

    I can give you a definition of evil–it is whatever the person speaking or writing regards as evil. The truth, as I see it, is that we humans lay our own perceptions of evil on God.

    My own personal metaphysics/spirituality is pretty much that which is presented in Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsch. In it, God states quite clearly that nothing is evil in His eyes. In order to understand this, however, one has to understand the purpose of earthly experience in the first place.

    I’m not going to try to give a summary of that purpose as presented in those remarkable books. If you are interested, I highly recommend your reading them. Suffice it to say that the problem of evil pretty much goes away when one stops taking the physical plane so seriously. This is a world of illusion, not reality, and not our true home. It’s just a place where we come to learn and grow, and it is perfectly suited to its purpose, exactly the way it is.

  8. Bruce David-

    That goes well with what William Lane Craig says. He says that this world is not meant for happiness, but for knowing God.

  9. As soon as you bring God into the world on a daily creative basis…

    This is quite disappointing coming from someone who writes about these issues as much as Ruse does—he either knows better, or should. No ID advocate anywhere claims that God personally intervenes each time someone’s blood clots, or personally builds each bacterial flagellum “on a daily creative basis.”

    The fact that the most well educated ID opponents consistently misrepresent ID arguments is one of the facts that leads me to believe that the ID crowd just might be on to something. Why not respond to the actual claim instead of trotting out the same old straw men again and again?

  10. So far no takers. There are now five undefinable concepts associated with the evolution debate. They are

    science
    life
    intelligence
    species

    and now

    evil

    Even the term evolution is hard to pin down as the official definition in biology is a useless one when one considers what is the essence of the debate. So maybe there should be a sixth.

    Curious.

  11. 11
    cd_Proponentizier

    This is a remarkable new article in PNAS on the topic of “God wouldn’t do it that way”.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/ea.....7.full.pdf

    Interesting theological opinions put forth as peer-reviewed science here. If there were reasonable Darwinian explanations for the origin of molecular machines and genetic information, then articles like this would be irrelevant. But instead, this is the fall-back position. When the science fails, it’s time to attack creationism.

    Mr. Avise’s summary statement offers this scientific assessment:

    Intelligent design (ID)—the latest incarnation of religious creationism—posits that complex biological features did not accrue gradually via natural evolutionary forces but, instead, were crafted ex nihilo by a cognitive agent.

    He seeks to disprove this in his article by observing evidence in the molecular world and measuring that against what he considers to be “optimal design”. If he determines that there are flaws in the structures, then this means that there is no evidence of influence of an intelligent agent at work.

    This, of course, is science of the highest caliber. Certainly, PNAS would give us nothing less. ID, however, is “not science”, and everybody knows that.

  12. Off topic; I just loaded this short video, for anyone who is interested:

    Human Evolution or Human Entropy? – Dr. John Sanford – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4585582

  13. Here is the song Dr. Sanford referenced:

    who am i : casting crowns
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7gfTYyLEHg

  14. Graham

    You asked:

    So, is the designer God or not ?

    Short answer: I certainly believe He is, but my grounds for that belief are philosophical, rather than scientific. Scientific arguments alone cannot establish that the Intelligent Designer of life and the cosmos is: (a) a necessary Being; (b) completely transcendent; and (c) infinitely intelligent and loving. You need philosophical arguments to establish those conclusions.

  15. @ilion

    - “Modern science is a toy for little boys; men do philosophy/theology … which, oddly enough, perhaps, may explain why the poseurs for scientism are always trying to pass off their childish metaphysical assertions and speculations as ‘Science!’”

    Although a bit harsh, I’d say it’s a fairly accurate representation of the state of affairs. What I sometimes wonder is how far scientism needs to go in order for people to start waking up and realizing that it has effectively become the new religion of our times.

  16. 16

    Bruce David, if evil doesn’t exist, than what do you call rebellion against God? If evil doesn’t exist, than why did Christ have to die? If evil doesn’t exist, isn’t salvation universal, since as soon as everyone dies they are no longer tied to the physical world and thus cannot be evil?

  17. @bornagain

    Regarding the genetic entropy video. The only issue I have with analysis presented relates to the graph i.e. the biblical life span graph. Avg. life span is dependent on a few things but lets say it something like 70 years now in Western countries. The graph ends with Jesus who obviously did not die of natural causes and at age 33 give or take. This combined with a few other points give this nice curve which actually looks like it has a limit – above 0:) – so I think if you had to add better sampling of points and extend the graph to today e.g. just add a few famous christians who died natural deaths I think the graph would not look very convincing.

    Again not to discount the idea of genetic entropy but I also thing the graph rate of change of the chart is the wrong way round it would rather accelerate than decelerate surely. I mean it should start very flat and then gradually drop off a cliff.

  18. Professor Ruse goes on to cite a nineteenth-century Anglican divine, William Whewell, on the limits of science:

    “The mystery of creation is not within the range of her [science's] legitimate territory; she says nothing, but she points upwards.”

    It occurs to me that Ruse’s approving citation of Whewell proves too much. Per Whewell, to whom/what/where is science directing us when she ‘points upwards’ if not to someone/something/somewhere outside of nature? If this not be so, why does she stand mute?
    And is this not exactly what ID does? The evidence is examined and evaluations are made; the conclusion reaching being that a deliberate intelligence was involved. That’s it, as far as the science goes. At that point metaphysics/philosophy/theology must pick up the baton and run with it, for that is the direction in which science points – more accurately, pushes – us.

    So, in his flailing attemtpt to refute ID as he imagines it to be, Ruse ends up endorsing ID as it actually is.

    Indeed, contrary to the evolution lobby’s propaganda, has not Ruse hereby sanctioned the notion that science is capable of pointing to something outside of her purview? That being the identity, methods & motives of the designer.

    And as Vjtorley points out, this is not the problem Ruse imagines it to be:

    3) Even if ID proponents were to reason like Professor Fuller would like them to do, and try to reverse-engineer the cell, assuming it to have been designed by an infinitely intelligent Being (God), the modus operandi of the Creator would still remain a mystery. Thus even if scientists were to abandon methodological naturalism and embrace theism, creation would retain an aura of mystery for them.

  19. Jerry, in my judgment, evil has to be approached in two ways. It’s very tricky because evil [a] is real, [b] has no substance, [c] exists inside people, and [d] exists outside of people.

    I submit, therefore, that evil has two definitions: First, it is a “privation of the good” with respect to its conditions outside people, especially its effects, and second, it is a “perversion of the will” with respect to what goes on inside people in the sense that it reflects an abuse of the power of volition. I just don’t think that a singular definition can do justice to the subject.

  20. andrewjg,
    I agree with you 100% on the curve being somewhat disingenuous to the actual evidence. As well, I found a few other points I disagree with Dr. Sanford on with his calculation for rate of Decline from Genetic Entropy, such as I don’t think he accounts for potential “compensatory mutations” that could be the result of unknown data recovery programs within the genome that would offset the rate of decline. But as you also correctly pointed out, the objections, to his somewhat biased reading of the data, do not negate, in the least, the overriding principle of Genetic Entropy itself being true for biology.

  21. jerry wrote:

    I always find the theodicy discussions so irrelevant because I have not found anyone here or anywhere else who can define evil. I have asked several times here and there have not been any takers yet.

    jerry,

    If God is omnipotent and benevolent, and if evil exists, then the problem of evil is a real problem. This is true regardless of which definition you adopt.

  22. bornagain77,

    I have a question which you may be able to answer. I have read that the male Y chromosome is getting smaller relatively quickly. Could this be a result of genetic entropy since the Y chromosomes come from the male exclusively “bad” mutations cannot be corrected because there is only one copy.

    Just an idea.

  23. Well andrewjg; you have to be careful of the evolutionary spin that is put on this evidence from the Y chromosome. Let me just lay out the evidence I have collected so far and let you judge where it is going:

    Do Human and Chimpanzee DNA Indicate an Evolutionary Relationship?
    Excerpt: the authors found that only 48.6% of the whole human genome matched chimpanzee nucleotide sequences. [Only 4.8% of the human Y chromosome could be matched to chimpanzee sequences.]
    http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2070

    Recent Genetic Research Shows Chimps More Distant From Humans,,, – Jan. 2010
    Excerpt: “many of the stark changes between the chimp and human Y chromosomes are due to gene loss in the chimp and gene gain in the human” since “the chimp Y chromosome has only two-thirds as many distinct genes or gene families as the human Y chromosome and only 47% as many protein-coding elements as humans.”,,,, “Even more striking than the gene loss is the rearrangement of large portions of the chromosome. More than 30% of the chimp Y chromosome lacks an alignable counterpart on the human Y chromosome, and vice versa,,,”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....shows.html

    Chimp and human Y chromosomes evolving faster than expected – Jan. 2010
    Excerpt: “The results overturned the expectation that the chimp and human Y chromosomes would be highly similar. Instead, they differ remarkably in their structure and gene content.,,, The chimp Y, for example, has lost one third to one half of the human Y chromosome genes.
    http://www.physorg.com/news182605704.html

    The evolutionary scientists of the preceding paper offered some evolutionary “just so” stories of “dramatically sped up evolution” for why there are such significant differences in the Y chromosomes of chimps and humans, yet when the Y chromosome is looked at for its rate of change we find there is no evidence for any change at all, much less the massive changes they are required to explain:

    CHROMOSOME STUDY STUNS EVOLUTIONISTS
    Excerpt: To their great surprise, Dorit and his associates found no nucleotide differences at all in the non-recombinant part of the Y chromosomes of the 38 men. This non-variation suggests no evolution has occurred in male ancestry.
    http://www.reasons.org/interpr.....lutionists

    I find it extremely interesting that the Y chromosome (male chromosome) would have such a pronounced “signature of individuality” in the human genome since it is clearly one of the primary chromosomes directly involved in overseeing human reproduction of males. A “reproductive individuality” for human men which, of course, has direct and severe contradictory implications to the Darwinian scenario since only the “reproductive mutations/variations” that manage to “slip thru” actually count in any Darwinian scenario.

  24. tragic mishap,

    Why don’t you define evil. Or anyone else for that matter. I personally believe some things are evil but I have yet to see anyone really define what it means. The argument brought up all the time is the theodicy argument and I happen to think it is a meaningless argument. A lot of people have written on this topic but I have not seen anything yet to make me believe it has any meaning.

    Ruse uses it. Steve Fuller uses it. Lots of theistic evolutionists use it. It is used by many here over the last five years to undermine ID. So what is evil and does it really have any significance to evolution.

  25. “Could this be a result of genetic entropy since the Y chromosomes come from the male exclusively “bad” mutations cannot be corrected because there is only one copy.”

    The problem with such an argument as this is that there are 3 billion male Y chromosomes out there and if some of them went bad or defective they would not reproduce as well as those with ok chromosomes. Theoretically selection would preserve the Y chromosome unless for some strange reason a mutation or a shortening would be beneficial.

  26. I just noticed StephenB in 19 made an attempt to define evil and he is the one person here who has proffered one before. Let me say thank you for the suggestion but I am not sure the dual definition gets at it. I really do not think the “exists outside of people” is meaningful. I would rather use the term “will” instead of “person.”

    What is a privation of the good? I can only think of one “good” that would rise to the level of evil and it is not disease, pestilence, earthquakes, maiming etc. So if God does not set in motion anything that leads to a privation of the “good” how could he ever be evil or responsible for evil? Hence the theodicy issue over the centuries has been a waste of time.

    Now is there another type of evil that is reflected in the term “perversion of the will” and are they somehow related to the other evil or the privation of the “good.” Is this perversion of the will only applicable to the privation of the “good” or can it have other domains?

    Where am I going in all this. Namely the instant dismal of the theodicy argument in any context and especially to the discussion of evolution.

  27. Jerry, speaking of the role of natural selection, I just finished uploading a video on it:

    Natural Selection Falsified – Dr John Sanford – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4587204

  28. I think this video comes as close to truly defining evil as I have ever seen:

    Does God Exist? – Finding a Good God in an Evil World
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4007708

    further notes:

    William Dembski’s New Book “The End Of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World” Is available at Amazon here:
    http://www.amazon.com/End-Chri.....038;sr=1-1

    Excerpt here: Finding a Good God in an Evil World – William Dembski
    http://www.designinference.com.....of_xty.pdf

    Thermodynamic Argument Against Evolution – Thomas Kindell – Part 1 of 3
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI1RiTOQ4do

    Theodicy Without God?
    What Ive never understood about theodicy is this: why do atheists ponder the Problem of Evil?
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2......html#more

    Little do most atheists realize that the existence of evil itself necessitates the existence of Good. i.e. you cannot disprove God by pointing to evil. All a atheist does when he points to evil in this world is to point out the fact that this world is not perfectly good, Yet Christianity never claimed we were in heaven in the first place. i.e. by pointing to evil (the absence of good), the atheist actually affirms the Christian belief that we are in a fallen world.

  29. link fix for:

    The Thermodynamic Argument Against Materialism and Evolution – Thomas Kindell
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4168488

  30. off topic: a very good paper just came out in Nature that is featured on ENV:

    Nature Reports Discovery of “Second Genetic Code” But Misses Intelligent Design Implications
    Excerpt: A summary of this article also titled “Breaking the Second Genetic Code” in the print edition of Nature summarized this research thusly: “At face value, it all sounds simple: DNA makes RNA, which then makes protein. But the reality is much more complex. … The code is likely to work in a cell-autonomous manner and, consequently, may need to account for more than 200 cell types in mammals.” So what we’re finding in biology are:

    # “beautiful” genetic codes that use a biochemical language;
    # Deeper layers of codes within codes showing an “expanding realm of complexity”;
    # Information processing systems that are far more complex than previously thought (and we already knew they were complex), including “the appearance of features deeper into introns than previously appreciated”

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....of_se.html

  31. 31

    jerry my definition of evil is extremely simple, and no it probably has nothing whatsoever to do with evolution.

    Evil is rebellion against God. It cannot exist without reference to good, but it certainly does exist.

  32. If a man were killed by being hit by a rock dislodged from a cliff by an earthquake, we would think it a tragedy but not evil. On the other hand, if the rock were thrown down by someone with the intention of killing the victim we would consider that evil. In both cases, the man is killed by a rock but in the second, it is the act of an intelligent agent.

    From this we could argue that, in some cases at least, evil lies in the purpose and act of causing harm to others, deliberately, recklessly and without just cause.

  33. “As I see it, the main point of the ID program is that certain identifiable features of living things had to have been explicitly specified by the Creator of the biosphere…”

    so, vjtorley, if this is in your view the theory of ID, how do you suggest it belongs in the realm of science? A theory is only scientific if it is testable and falsifiable – do you know of any hypotheses and predictions you can derive from this theory than can actually be tested with scientific methods? I have yet to find a single article in any kind of peer reviewed scientific format that presents any such hypotheses and predictions, let alone results. And I am NOT talking about evidence that might weaken a different theory (in this case evolution), because that in and off itself does nothing to support ID, since there is an infinite number of equally untestable and thus unscientific theories available for alternative explanation.

    “(2) As regards the blood clotting cascade, readers might like to begin with In Defense of the Irreducibility of the Blood Clotting Cascade: Response to Russell Doolittle, Ken Miller and Keith Robison (July 31, 2000), by Professor Michael Behe, as well as Casey Luskin’s recent recap, Kenneth Miller, Michael Behe and the Irreducible Complexity of the Blood Clotting Cascade Saga (January 1, 2010), which has links to eleven follow-up articles on the blood clotting cascade.”

    not surprisingly, not a single one of the quoted “articles” defending the alleged irreducible complexity of the blood clotting cascade are actual scientific articles published in any kind of peer reviewed format. see above…

  34. How God specified these features is unimportant; the question ID attempts to answer is: which features of the biosphere can be shown to be specified? Did God specify the design of the okapi? I have no idea.

    :)

    I’m just quoting this for posterity. It’s adorable.

    When ID becomes an actual science, with fresh discoveries made each day, it can look back on the days when it naively thought so little of its own descriptive abilities.

    Or… maybe this gear is where it will always be stuck. After all, it was all the way back in 2002 that Dembski said “ID is not a mechanistic theory“. In the eight years since then, it’s amazing how much progress ID and UD haven’t made. You promised not to take the bait, Dembski, and that’s a promise ID has kept!

    If it’s correct to say, as some of this blog’s posts have, that Kepler (for example) was not a methodological naturalist because he felt he was thinking God’s thoughts after him… then it would be great for IDists to start thinking some of God’s thoughts, because (assuming God exists) that Kepler guy actually managed to figure out some of it!

    Many, perhaps most, of the world’s greatest scientists felt they were investigating the manner(s) in which God brought reality about. IDists are not their intellectual heirs, because this way of looking at origins — that causes can not only be labeled, but described in detail — is that unspeakable methodology called naturalism.

    Just imagine a quote along the following lines:

    How these features evolved is unimportant; the question biology attempts to answer is: which features of the biosphere can be shown to have evolved?

    Or, a more “ID-friendly” equivalent:

    How the Nazca created these geoglyphs is unimportant; the question archaeology attempts to answer is: which features of the world can be shown to be created?

    I’d love to be an archaeologist if it were that simple.

    ID proponents can confidently claim that the design of the first living cell, the body plans of the 30+ phyla of animals living today, and numerous irreducibly complex systems found in the cells of organisms (including the bacterial flagellum and the blood clotting system) were explicitly specified by the Creator of the biosphere. And the list of specifications is likely to keep growing.

    Since “specification” has, up until now, been defined only in very subjective terms (based the number of concepts it takes to describe something), I do not doubt this in the slightest. :)

  35. Seversky,

    We are talking about God and if one does not believe in God then the theodicy argument is meaningless. I don’t believe most of the ardent Darwinists believe in God so for them to bring it up is essentially an admission of defeat. If one believes in God, then one has to consider the purpose for His creation. If it is the Christian God, then there is an end for humans which is salvation. Anything else, pleasant or unpleasant, is of little consequence in such a scenario. That does not mean that one is to lead an ascetic life of denial though many have done so but it means that what happens in this life, while extremely pleasant or unpleasant, pales next to the end of God’s creation.

    If you do not believe in a God that offers salvation and only this life here on earth then one can possibly argue that the frustration of the experience while on earth is of concern and then the intention of the Creator is an issue. But like the unbeliever what one does to another becomes an issue and one can call it what you want. If you want to use the term evil, that is your prerogative. But in your example, what you call evil lies not in the end result but in the intent of a will. No matter how the person was hit by the rock, the end result is the same for the person being hit. So evil lies not in the result but in the intention of a will. But for a God that does not offer salvation, what happens in this life whether by intent or not is an issue. Since theoretically He could design the system so one would not get hit by a rock through natural causes. Anything less than pure ecstatic joy would seem to be a shortcoming and evil for such a God. And we are getting to a world where many are demanding such things as a right.

    But as I said for Christians this is not an issue. And evil whatever form it takes shouldn’t be a consideration for evolution. What I am trying to do here is not start some elaborate theological discussion but eliminate an objection people have for God because of the unpleasantness that occurs in this world whether to humans or for one animal to another and then insist that evolution must then be totally naturalistic because no Creator would sanction such a process by intent. For the Christian God, that objection is irrelevant.

  36. jerry:

    We are talking about God and if one does not believe in God then the theodicy argument is meaningless.

    Hardly. The argument from evil is a strong argument against the existence of an omnipotent, benevolent God.

  37. 37

    Seversky:

    …evil lies in the purpose and act of causing harm to others, deliberately, recklessly and without just cause.

    What is “just cause”?

  38. Jerry:

    We are talking about God and if one does not believe in God then the theodicy argument is meaningless.

    Not exactly. It is entirely reasonable, even meaningful, to debate whether or not it is plausible for a proposed entity to have all the attributes given to it. One does not need to agree that ball lightning exists in order to debate its ability to cause house fires, or that unicorns exist in order to discuss whether their horns might cure poison; likewise with God and omnibenovolence/potence.

    (Perhaps the most apt example: One does not need to believe that evolution happens in order to argue, as IDists do, that hypothetical evolutionary events are improbable.)

    As for the particular theodicy you suggest here… well, you know what they say about justice delayed.

  39. Although a bit harsh, …

    My middle name is ‘Harsh’ ;)

  40. … if evil doesn’t exist …

    Evil, whether we’re talking about wickedness (moral evil) or about suffering (natural evil) exists analogously to the way darkness exists, as privation of good — evil isn’t a thing in itself.

  41. … I have read that the male Y chromosome is getting smaller relatively quickly. Could this be a result of genetic entropy since the Y chromosomes come from the male exclusively “bad” mutations cannot be corrected because there is only one copy.

    In fact, the Y chromosome contains “palindromes” — regions which mirror the coding regions of the Y — and thus effectively serve as the “second copy.”

  42. 42

    Tragic Mishap:

    You said, “Bruce David, if evil doesn’t exist, than what do you call rebellion against God? If evil doesn’t exist, than why did Christ have to die? If evil doesn’t exist, isn’t salvation universal, since as soon as everyone dies they are no longer tied to the physical world and thus cannot be evil?”

    Your questions are steeped in Christian dogmatism, which I for the most part don’t accept. I’ll take them one at a time.

    “If evil doesn’t exist, than what do you call rebellion against God?”

    In my theology, there is no such thing as rebellion against God. God has given us not only free will, but actual freedom. The Christian idea that a totally self-sufficient God would need anything from us is an anathema to me. God loves us unconditionally and will never punish us. Why would he? (Punishment is not the same as consequences, by the way. There are consequences. What goes around, comes around.)

    “If evil doesn’t exist, than why did Christ have to die?”

    He didn’t. But who wants to hang around this plane of existence forever? The idea that Christ died for our sins is totally ridiculous to me. God, the creator and sustainer of the Universe, can do whatever He wants. If he wants to forgive us, all He has to do is forgive us. He doesn’t need anyone to suffer in order to do that.

    “If evil doesn’t exist, isn’t salvation universal, since as soon as everyone dies they are no longer tied to the physical world and thus cannot be evil?”

    This is correct. Salvation is universal. Every single one of us is going Home (even Hitler, even, dare I say it, Richard Dawkins). Would an infinitely loving God set it up any other way? The only thing at issue is how long it will take each of us. But that is in our own hands.

  43. 43

    Phaedros:

    You said, “That goes well with what William Lane Craig says. He says that this world is not meant for happiness, but for knowing God.”

    Yes, and I would add that knowing oneSelf is intimately tied up with knowing God, since we are One with Him and since we are made in His image and likeness. I would also add that the joy, love, peace, wonder, and wisdom that is experienced when we finally come know ourSelves and God compared with mere happiness is like the sun compared to a candle.

  44. @Ilion

    Thanks for the information. Thats actually quite interesting. So does this duplication only exist in the Y chromosome? If so that is quite amazing.

  45. @Bruce David

    You said there is really no such thing as good and evil. What would you categorise a lie as. I mean evil is a strong word but lets I believe a lie is wrong or a mild evil for all people at all times in all but the most extreme circumstances e.g. were sheltering a Jew during WWII.

    If someone lies to you is there any external basis or a universal basis for saying what they did was wrong other than your own thoughts and feelings?

  46. Whats with the infatuation with the meaning of ‘evil’ ?

    Who cares ?

    If you did manage to agree on a definition (which I doubt), what difference would it make ?

  47. 47

    Wow, Bruce. You are totally off the deep end. Why are you even a Christian at all?

    I’m not even going to respond to this crap, because a lot of people already have. The authors of the Bible.

  48. @Bruce #7

    I find your perspective very interesting to be honest although I have my reservations.

    I know you said, you’re not going to provide a summary of walsch’s book but I was hoping that you might elaborate a little more.

    Also Bruce:

    -”The only thing at issue is how long it will take each of us. But that is in our own hands”

    What exactly do you mean ‘how long it will take each of us’?

  49. AndrewJG:Thanks for the information. Thats actually quite interesting. So does this duplication only exist in the Y chromosome? If so that is quite amazing.

    I’ve not read of “palindromes” on any chromosome but the Y (nor would it be biologically necessary). Here’s a discussion of the Y “palindromes” written for the popular audience.

  50. I think that Christ did have to die so that people could learn about God even more. If I’m not mistaken, before Christ people were simply afraid of God and didn’t really think about God’s love or anything like that.

  51. Isn’t it just the coolest thing how “evolution” came up with the elegant dual-solution of differentiating the X from the Y, such that recombination between the two chromosomes cannot happen (lest we all end up male), and also endowing the Y with “palindromes” so that it can still persorm copy-edit correction? ;)

  52. 52

    Show me where the Bible supports any of this, Phaedros and Bruce. Till then, I got nothing to say to you.

  53. Tragic mishap-

    I’m not sure where the problem is with what I said. It’s pretty standard to say god is love or infinitely loving. How do we know this? We know this because jesus died for all of our sins past and future because man is imperfect and the cause of much of his own suffering. Only a loving God would do such a thing. I was simply building off the idea that C.S. Lewis had that God had written Jesus into history.

  54. @Ilion 45/47

    Thanks. I thought not. Your point in 47 is what I was thinking of when I asked it. A blind process determining a special case where a different kind of duplication is needed seems impossible.

  55. Well, you know the old saying: “With “evolution,” all things are possible.

  56. Lenoxus (#34)

    Just a quick comment in response to your post.

    Believing that a feature of the natural world was intelligently designed does not preclude scientifically investigating its origin. It just means we should avoid dogmatic commitments such as: “It had to have originated by a law-governed process.” We need to keep an open mind about the modus operandi of the Designer.

    If you want to read something by a scientist who takes ID very seriously and who also believes we can empirically investigate the origin of life, then I’d recommend this article by Dr. Robert Sheldon at http://procrustes.blogtownhall.....logy.thtml .
    It reports on several recent eye-opening discoveries, and also discusses avenues for future scientific research.

    Comparing the origin of life to Kepler’s laws is like comparing apples and oranges. Kepler’s third law is mathematically simple. It can be written in one line: T^2 = K.r^3.

    Life is not that simple. The DNA in the cell contains a very large amount of information that is in a highly specific sequence. Figuring out how such an order-specific sequence arose is likely to be far, far harder than figuring out how the planets move. Still, I would agree with you that that’s no reason why we shouldn’t try.

  57. madbat089 (#33)

    Thank you for your post. If you’re looking for testable predictions, try this page:

    http://www.angelfire.com/linux.....ent-design

    and scroll down to “Scientifically Testable Predictions.” Others might like to add more.

  58. vjtorley:

    I checked out all the posts for “testable predictions” on the page you suggested (a meager total of 3):

    Only one of them actually led me to a scientific article. That article introduced a very interesting theory on a common ancestor for all metazoa, that might have already contained a lot of the genetic coding used for various functions in later, more complex metazoa. The article does not only not raise a single argument in favor of ID, it actually rests on the foundation of evolutionary theory (common ancestor, development of more complex organisms over time, functional re-assignement of genetic coding and morphological features for new purposes);
    so, how exactly is any of this giving ID scientific credibility?

  59. MB:

    Strawman.

    Why not start with the Weak Argument Correctives top right this page?

    As an example of testability with one reference but many billions of instances, try the test of the origin of web pages on the internet. It is known that communication networks suffer noise and that they can in principle generate any signal pattern. So, why not generate some noise and thereby make a coherent web page with text and images etc, properly formatted in html or whatever?

    An easy way to try would be to use a zener source and an amplifier to spew noise on a disk at random. See if you ever will get a page with at least 125 bytes of coherent information, about a 20 world paragraph.

    This illustrates the real point: it is empirically very well tested indeed, that FSCI is the product of intelligence.

    So much so that under normal circumstances we routinely infer from FSCI to intelligence. (And if you care to check, at 1,000 bits or 125 bytes of info, the number of possible configs exceeds the number of states the observable cosmos can have over its lifespan by something like a factor of 10^150. That’s why we can be highly confident you will not see such a text originating by lucky noise. As this thread shows, intelligent agents routinely generate such.)

    So, when we see codes, programs, data structures and step by step processes in the living cell, we have very good reason to infer that the best explanation is what we know is the routine source of such things. DESIGN.

    Cf here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related

    GEM of TKI

  60. kairofocus:

    Strawman? GEM? TKI? FSCI?
    how about english?

    Reviewing the “weak argument correctives” and links therein you pointed to will take me a little bit, but thanks to you and the authors of those for a few actually scientific sources… so there might actually be something to discuss here… I shall be back!

    To your example: you obviously have no idea what the theory of evolution actually entails. Neither Darwin, nor any of the thousands of evolutionary biologists after him ever claimed that any biological system ever came to be by random “spewing” (to emulate you vocabulary) of chemical substances. You might want to read up on the principles of “natural & sexual selection”, so your next example can actually make a qualified contribution to the discussion.

  61. kairosfocus @59,

    So much so that under normal circumstances we routinely infer from FSCI to intelligence. (And if you care to check, at 1,000 bits or 125 bytes of info, the number of possible configs exceeds the number of states the observable cosmos can have over its lifespan by something like a factor of 10^150. That’s why we can be highly confident you will not see such a text originating by lucky noise. As this thread shows, intelligent agents routinely generate such

    I have yet to receive a response whenever I question this form of argument from the ID side so I hope you will step up and answer it.

    The Evo position is that evolution is a process that works by transitioning from (state_N) to (state_N+1).

    Here is an example:

    StateN = 10110010
    StateN + 1 = 10110011

    If ony one bit mutates every generation, how many generations might it take to get to StateN + 1?

    I calculate the likely amount of generations to be 8.

    The ID side usually responds with 2^8 or 256.

    Your 1000 bits, would likely take only 1000 (lifeforms or generations) to transition from StateN to StateN + 1, not 2^1000 (lifeforms or generations).

    Are we in agreement?

  62. KF

    An easy way to try would be to use a zener source and an amplifier to spew noise on a disk at random. See if you ever will get a page with at least 125 bytes of coherent information, about a 20 world paragraph.

    Of course, you have provided a source to model variation, but have forgotten evolution also includes selection.

    You are probably unaware of it, but Richard Dawkins created a throwaway piece of code that models both random variation and selection. It takes a random series of alphabetic characters, produces offspring, measures their fitness, and repeats the cycle with the most fit offsping. With a surprisingly low number of generations, the program produces the sentence “Me thinks it is like a weasel.”

    You should look into it. HTH.

  63. madbat is acronym challenged. Everyone should speak slower and louder.

    KF, you must not understand evolution.

    Once there exists a complex, functional, self-replicating nano-machine of staggering technological sophistication and complexity, with the ability to decipher and process stored instructions beyond any other code ever seen or written, then Darwinian mechanisms take over from there.

    You also need to understand that early in life’s development, organisms that had the ability to translate and process massively complex coding instructions had a survival advantage over those that didn’t, and won out in the end. Obviously, that’s why we see them today.

  64. ET:

    You, sadly, are playing at strawman caricature and question-begging games.

    As Apollos aptly points out.

    I am — and have long been — very aware that darwinian evolutionism, from the beginning in 1859, speaks to chance variation [of various kinds] and environmental, probabilistically filtered culling of existing competing sub-populations [aka natural selection, etc]. Indeed, this is an idea that more traces to Wallace than Darwin. Yes, him of the idea of Intelligent Evolution — check out his remarks on say feathers.

    But, that RV + NS –> origin of novel species is precisely the begged question.

    For, until one has a functional body plan — from the first one on — which is capable of self-replication, one cannot have competing populations.

    Functionality must come first in other words. And such functionality requires origin of significant functional, complex, specific information by chance/happenstance processes; of whatever type.

    Or, as I have said over and over, one has to get to the shores of islands of function in the midst of an overwhelmingly large sea of non-functional configurations, before one may hill-climb to optimal function by differential environmental success of competing sub populations.

    In short the problem with the fitness landscape models so often used is that the vast majority of the landscape isn’t.

    It is a sea of non-function, without capability of rewarding non function that is closer to function. For, non-function means non-existence or inability to replicate.

    For instance for simple unicellular life we are looking at at least 100′s of k bases of DNA, and to get multicellular body plans similar to those we see in say the Cambrian revo, we are looking at moving up to 10′s to 100′s of k bases or bits. But, just 1,000 bits specifies a number of possible configurations that exceeds the number of possible atomic states of the 10^80 or so atoms of our observed cosmos, by a factor of 10^150.

    In short, our observed universe does not have a sufficient gamut to credibly search the config space of the sort of scope for life forms.

    But, routinely, intelligences produce entities with that sort of quantum of functionally specific complex info, e.g. this blog thread.

    So, ET, pardon a few direct words: why not at least look through the weak argument correctives and the always linked notes through my handle, before asserting such strawman arguments again.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  65. oops 10′s to 100s of million bases to get the Cambrian life revo from unicellulars.

  66. kairosfocus,

    Efren is right. The experiment you describe completely omits the mechanism of cumulative selection:

    An easy way to try would be to use a zener source and an amplifier to spew noise on a disk at random. See if you ever will get a page with at least 125 bytes of coherent information, about a 20 world paragraph.

    Because your scenario lacks selection, it is irrelevant to discussions of evolution.

  67. @efren ts

    Have a look at http://evoinfo.org/weasel.

    The “Weasel Algorithm” relies on a “oracle” to tell it if it is getting closer or further away from the target in order to greatly improve the time it takes to find the solution. Evolution is not like that it is blind. It cannot know if a mutation provides an intermediate step to something beneficial until that happens. It simply wont get selected because it provides no fitness benefit.

    So evolution is more like a blind search.

  68. kairosfocus @64,

    For, until one has a functional body plan — from the first one on — which is capable of self-replication, one cannot have competing populations.

    Are you saying that from this point on, evolution as proposed by modern evolutionary theory, is accurate?

    It seems that you are mainly contesting origins of life.

    As far as origins of life, if stars can produce hydrogen and helium without any sort of ID input, why can’t the elements of life begin the same way?

  69. madbat089,

    I don’t expect to get a clear response from you on this question, but maybe it’s worth a try.

    Could you give me a definition for what you would consider to be “positive evidence?”

    I notice you characterize ID as solely negative arguments, and it would be nice to see what kind of evidence it would need to bring about to have a positive case in it’s favor.

  70. 70

    Tragic Mishap,

    First, I am not a Christian.

    Second, you obviously regard the Bible as a (the?) source of truth. I have two questions for you:

    1. Which interpretation of the Bible? Catholic dogma? Martin Luther’s? William Dembski’s? Your own?

    2. How do you know? This is my question for anyone who is certain they know the truth, be they Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist materialist, or any other brand of certainty. How do you know?

  71. 71

    To above, #48:

    I really don’t want to try to summarize the theology presented in Conversations with God, because I don’t believe that I can do it justice in the space available. If you’re interested, I strongly recommend that you read the first book. Then if it calls to you, you will read the rest of them, as I did (over and over).

    To answer your question, “What exactly do you mean ‘how long it will take each of us’?”, I believe that we experience many of physical existences (lives) before we have finally exhausted the possibilities here. The purpose is, ultimately, spiritual growth, and we each progress at our own speed. Some of us move through rapidly, and some hang around to savor all the types and nuances of experience we can have, for example.

  72. @Bruce

    I actually started reading the first chapter already and it sounds very interesting.

    I hope you don’t mind me asking, but you seem to believe in both reincarnation as well as personal God? Is that correct? So something between the Western tradition of monotheism and the Eastern tradition of Hindu/Buddha?

    Forgive me if my question(s) is/are inapropriate, I just found some of the things you said interesting like I said and wanted to hear more. I think that one of the many ways we learn in life.

    You don’t have to answer if you don’t want.

  73. 73

    To above:

    I don’t mind your questions at all, and I really appreciate your politeness. It’s something often lacking in posts like these.

    To answer, yes, I believe in what is commonly known as reincarnation, although I don’t subscribe to the often held Eastern belief that our next life is a kind of reward for our goodness or badness in this one. As to whether God is personal or not, my belief is that He/She/It is kind of both. I agree with what is written in Conversations with God, that we are One with God, an actual part of Her, made in His image and likeness. But everything is also part of It; there is nothing that is not God.

    It is my conviction that every religion, Eastern and Western, embodies part of the Truth, but not all of it. Each contains error, partly the result of the interpretations of those who came after the original founder, partly due to the fact that even as highly evolved beings as Jesus, Mohammad, and the Buddha are still imperfect filters, partly due to the inability of language to convey the Truth accurately and completely, partly due to translation errors, and partly due to the fact that original founders were delivering their messages to people in a particular time and place, and it was tailored to what their listeners were capable of hearing.

    I think that a huge amount of the mischief abroad in the world today is the result of the conviction on the part of so many people that words written centuries ago (the Bible, the Koran, the Buddhist scriptures, etc.) are the complete and only Word of God, that no new information on the subject of religious truth is possible.

  74. andrewjg,

    So evolution is more like a blind search.

    I’ve done my best to learn and understand the theory of evolution for more that fifty years and I still find I have a lot to learn.

    I learn something new almost every day. Have you really tried to fathom the vastness of the evolutionary enterprise? It is complex; it is complicated; it relies on a humongous amount of detail, and the project is far from finished yet. Another 150 years will do very much to improve and refine our understanding. Whereas, if I may say so, twenty years have not done anything for ID. As far as I am concerned, twenty years have convinced many that ID is a lost cause. Something that never was and never will be except a lame attempt at resurrecting creationism.

    WRT Weasel, it is not the only game in town. Computer simulations are a very important scientific as well as industrial/commercial tool, and generic algorithms are proving their value every day.

    I do not understand mathematics, but I understand how and why computer simulations are such powerful tools.

  75. @Cabal

    There may be some evolutionary process which is yet unknown which is not like a blind search so perhaps I should rather limit it to mutation and natural selection. I believe mutation and natural selection is akin to a blind search in the same way I believe a polygon where all the side are right angles and equal length are squares i.e. no amount of additional knowledge can change that. In fact just the opposite more data more information can confuse the argument as we are distracted by knowledge which is not relevant.

    I agree with you about Weasel and Avida etc and the value of genetic algorithms etc. Ironically I see Weasel and Avida as compelling proof that blind evolution simply won’t work as they cannot do without some internal “knowledge” to draw upon.

    Lastly I think there is a good chance that in 150 years we may realise we never knew as much as we thought we did. Sort of like what has happened over the last 50 years. Seems like in absolute terms we know more but we find out that things are much more complicated than we thought and that as a percentage we know less than what we thought we do. Its sort of comforting to me that there will always be some mystery and therefore some adventure in the discovery.

  76. Toronto:

    By contrast with ET’s onward deceptove strawman attacks in anotehr thread, you are positively civl:

    Are you saying that from this point on, evolution as proposed by modern evolutionary theory, is accurate?

    It seems that you are mainly contesting origins of life.

    As far as origins of life, if stars can produce hydrogen and helium without any sort of ID input, why can’t the elements of life begin the same way?

    1 –> OOL is a point of concern as the first majo4r body plan whose origin beyond the FSCI rthreshold needs to be explained.

    2 –> Origin of every major body plan is also implicated, whereby unless a certain threshold of functionally specific, complex organization is achieved, and associated genetic and regulatory information is created, we do not have a viable organism or a reproducing population.

    3 –> Per observations of genomes and the progress towards von Neumann replicators, we see that this implies information origin at a level that chance processes — all that is available for high contingency once agency is ruled out ex hypothesi — is a credible source on.

    4 –> Thus, my target is macroevolution. The very term species is ill defined so I have no commitment to fixity of so-called species.

    5 –> And BTW even current young earth creationists accept rapid diversification to fit niches [mostly through genetic loss of diversity due to multiple genes giving riser to blended characteristics, e.g. dog variability across domestic dogs and wolves etc], targetting the family level as the likely threshold of the biblical Kind in many cases.

    6 –> SWo, now, wher eis your explanation how, on chance plus necessity only we get to body plans stwrting weiththe first?

    7 –> By contrast we see where once we have a big bang, and fairly fine tuned conditions, we can get to galaxies, stars and terrestrial planets in circumstellar habitable zones in galactic habitable zones. (Mind you such cases will be rather rare, as the hot jupiters in odd orbits points to)

    8 –> But to get form that to chem evo or to get to ist life thence major body plans is a different order of problem.

    GEM of TKI

  77. kairosfocus,

    Could you address my comment at 61?

    Thanks.

  78. PS: Pardon the rush and typos as a result. Linking to where I had to correct ET further, here.

    PPS: Toronto, Origins science needs to cogently address what Mrs O’Leary has aptly called the four big bangs: origin of a fine tuned for life complex cosmos, origin of life, origin of biodiversity, origin of mind with morality. Intelligent agency has no in principle problems with any of the four, though mechanisms used is an interesting exploration; materialist views run into trouble with all four. On the last, materialism reveals itself to be self-referentially incoherent and amoral — thus necessarily false.

  79. madbat089 (#58)

    Here are some more links relating to falsifiable predictions of ID:

    1. On the Eye

    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....tinas.html

    (“Evolution gave flawed eye better vision” – article in “New Scientist,” 7 May 2010. After reading this article, I’d say the ball’s in the Darwinians’ court now. They can still say that evolution made the best of a bad design. However, they no longer have any empirical evidence that the design of the eye is bad. Now the only argument they have to fall back on is the aesthetic argument: the design of the eye looks ugly, so God couldn’t have made it.)

    2. On the Human Genome

    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....ious_molec

    (“Does the Human Genome Have ‘Serious Molecular Shortcomings’?” by David Tyler. The article comments on recent claims by Dr. John Avise that it does.)

    Incidentally, Dr. John Avise certainly believes ID is falsifiable, or he would not have written a scientific paper purporting to do just that.

    In my last post, I referred you to a page with three links to scientific articles. One of these dealt with the origin of the metazoa. (See here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/si.....d_RVDocSum .) You commented as follows:

    That article introduced a very interesting theory on a common ancestor for all metazoa, that might have already contained a lot of the genetic coding used for various functions in later, more complex metazoa. The article does not only not raise a single argument in favor of ID…

    Surely you jest. Ancestral life-forms with genetic coding for functions that won’t appear in their descendants for hundreds of millions of years are not evidence for ID?

    “Ah, but the code may have served some other function in the past,” I hear you say. Well: there’s your testable prediction, isn’t it? ID would predict: no, not in all cases. Neo-Darwinian evolution would predict: yes, in all cases.

    Here’s another falsifiable prediction of ID: just adding water to peptides won’t get you a living thing, or even a functional protein.

    Finally, Dr. Michael Behe’s 2007 book, The Edge of Evolution, contains dozens of falsifiable ID claims, as he lists no less than 22 different kinds of features of the natural world, which he claims were fine-tuned:

    1. Laws of nature
    2. Physical constants
    3. Ratios of fundamental constants
    4. Amount of matter in the universe
    5. Speed of expansion in the universe
    6. Properties of elements such as carbon
    7. Properties of chemicals such as water
    8. Location of solar system in the galaxy
    9. Location of planet in the solar system
    10. Origin and properties of Earth-Moon
    11. Origins and properties of functioning biochemicals, such as DNA
    12. Origin of life
    13. Cells
    14. Genetic code
    15. Multi-protein complexes
    16. Molecular machines
    17. Biological kingdoms
    18. Developmental genetic programs
    19. Integrated protein networks
    20. Phyla
    21. Cell types
    22. Classes

    Debunk the evidence of fine-tuning for any of the above, and you’ve demolished at least one plank of the case for ID.

  80. vj thanks for the links:

    Your challenge to falsify any of these 22 features will of course go unmet. Moreover, so far as I have seen, this will not preclude the Darwinian evolutionist from offering mountains of evidence for evolution. Yet when asked to actually produce this evidence the evidence always turns out to be,,,,

    ,,,Heavy Clouds, No Rain – Sting
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiTM2O2CQxc

    Proverbs 25:14
    As clouds and wind without rain, so is one who takes credit for an offering he has not given.

    Sting – Heavy Cloud No Rain – Lyrics
    Excerpt: Back in time with Louis XVI
    At the court of the people he was number one
    He’d be the bluest blood they’d ever seen
    When the king said hi to the guillotine
    The royal astrologer was run out of breath
    He thought that maybe the rain would postpone his death
    He look in sky but he look in vain
    Heavy cloud but no rain
    http://www.lyricsfreak.com/s/s.....32071.html

  81. vjtorley @79,

    Finally, Dr. Michael Behe’s 2007 book, The Edge of Evolution, contains dozens of falsifiable ID claims, as he lists no less than 22 different kinds of features of the natural world, which he claims were fine-tuned:

    1. Laws of nature
    2. Physical constants
    3. Ratios of fundamental constants
    4. Amount of matter in the universe
    5. Speed of expansion in the universe
    6. Properties of elements such as carbon
    7. Properties of chemicals such as water
    8. ………

    Systems such as the universe are dynamic.

    We can’t treat it as a collection of static relationships between objects.

    If you change one characteristic, you have indirectly changed another.

    For instance, a 1% drop in the speed of light might result in photons striking matter on Earth with less energy, but may also result in photons packed closer together in streams of particles, resulting in a larger amount of them striking their targets resulting in absolutely no change in energy transfer at all.

    I don’t see the ID side addressing these type of dynamic relationships when they raise the fine-tuning argument.

    They treat the universe as if any characteristic is independently variable.

  82. 82

    Toronto,

    Systems such as the universe are dynamic.

    We can’t treat it as a collection of static relationships between objects.

    If you change one characteristic, you have indirectly changed another.

    Then the universe is static, not dynamic. For by your assessment, they wouldn’t be called “constants” if they were dynamic, but they are indeed constant in reality, not dynamic. Which is part of the point, that they are how they are, and that they do not swing radically.

  83. toronto states:

    ;’For instance, a 1% drop in the speed of light might result in photons striking matter on Earth with less energy, but may also result in photons packed closer together in streams of particles, resulting in a larger amount of them striking their targets resulting in absolutely no change in energy transfer at all.”

    And yet Dr Bradley directly addresses the fine tuning of light here:

    Fine Tuning Of Universal Constants, Particularly Light – Walter Bradley – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4491552

    Visible light is also incredibly fine-tuned for life to exist. Though visible light is only a tiny fraction of the total electromagnetic spectrum coming from the sun, it happens to be the “most permitted” portion of the sun’s spectrum allowed to filter through the our atmosphere. All the other bands of electromagnetic radiation, directly surrounding visible light, happen to be harmful to organic molecules, and are almost completely absorbed by the atmosphere. The tiny amount of harmful UV radiation, which is not visible light, allowed to filter through the atmosphere is needed to keep various populations of single cell bacteria from over-populating the world (Ross; reasons.org). The size of light’s wavelengths and the constraints on the size allowable for the protein molecules of organic life, also seem to be tailor-made for each other. This “tailor-made fit” allows photosynthesis, the miracle of sight, and many other things that are necessary for human life. These specific frequencies of light (that enable plants to manufacture food and astronomers to observe the cosmos) represent less than 1 trillionth of a trillionth (10^-24) of the universe’s entire range of electromagnetic emissions. Like water, visible light also appears to be of optimal biological utility (Denton; Nature’s Destiny).

    Fine Tuning Of Light, Atmosphere, Biological Life, and Water – illustrations
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....aGh4MmdnOQ

    Further notes:

    GRBs Expand Astronomers’ Toolbox – Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: a detailed analysis of the GRB (Gamma Ray Burst) in question demonstrated that photons of all energies arrived at essentially the same time. Consequently, these results falsify any quantum gravity models requiring the simplest form of a frothy space.
    http://www.reasons.org/GRBsExp.....ersToolbox

    Anthropic Principle – God Created The Universe – Michael Strauss PhD. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4323661

  84. Clive Hayden @82,

    In one way you are correct.

    Consider an NPN transistor in a circuit.

    The base is biased to 5V so the emitter will be 4.4V.

    You could put a wide range of resistors from the emitter to ground and you will always have 4.4V, but the current through the resistor will change.

    That was my point, that changing one constant, (the resistor), may change current but it will not change the voltage.

    The fine-tuning claim is that changing any of the universal constants changes everything, and this circuit is an example that this is not necessarily the case.

    As kairosfocus and many others here have done, we design circuits that tend to be stable and self-bias themselves to a narrow range of values that we wish to hold constant.

    If there is a designer of the universe he may have done the same.

    The fine-tuning argument is not valid since we ourselves manage to design systems that can accept a wide amount of leeway.

  85. toronto to draw your attention to this;

    “GRBs Expand Astronomers’ Toolbox – Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: a detailed analysis of the GRB (Gamma Ray Burst) in question demonstrated that photons of all energies arrived at essentially the same time.”

    Please explain to me exactly why the transcendent information constant of the speed of light should always remain steady even though the ultimate material basis of the universe (the photon) varies greatly in energy level? Tell me exactly why should a transcendent information constant exercise universal dominion of energy if materialism were actually true toronto?

  86. bornagain77 @83,
    I don’t understand what your reply is supposed to address.

    If the total amount of energy is identical, what has changed?

    While you haven’t mentioned it, the speed of light is actually particle speed so the fabric of matter would change, but that means so would the matter that filters light.

    As far as the particular wave-lengths that are friendly to our lifeforms, there is nothing that says if it were a different bandwidth that was most prevalent, we might have a different type of life on Earth.

    My point is that these issues are never addressed when making the fine-tuning argument.

  87. bornagain77 @85,

    toronto to draw your attention to this;

    “GRBs Expand Astronomers’ Toolbox – Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: a detailed analysis of the GRB (Gamma Ray Burst) in question demonstrated that photons of all energies arrived at essentially the same time.”

    If the speed of light was different, the photons should probably all still arrive at the same time.

    That again, is my point, that you can change one value but that does not drastically alter everything else.

    See my reply to Clive @84.

  88. yes, call me acronym-challenged, if you wish, I for my part consider it polite to hold a discussion in a widely discernible language. Which also pertains to kairofocus’ post #76; despite all the garbled mumbling therein, I discern mostly what Toronto already pointed out: you, and as it turns out, most everybody on this discussion thread, seems to accept evolution as the mechanisms that lead from an earliest living ancestor to the variety of species we observe today, but dispute particular theories on the origin of life. It seems necessary to point out again: Evolutionary theory is not concerned with the origin of life itself, so, discussing it in that context makes no sense.
    Now, with that confusion hopefully cleared, it is important to establish: Which particular scientific theory of the origin of life are any of you discussing/disputing?

    vjtorley:
    “Surely you jest. Ancestral life-forms with genetic coding for functions that won’t appear in their descendants for hundreds of millions of years are not evidence for ID?

    “Ah, but the code may have served some other function in the past,” I hear you say. Well: there’s your testable prediction, isn’t it? ID would predict: no, not in all cases. Neo-Darwinian evolution would predict: yes, in all cases.”

    this is exactly the kind of pervasive reliance on negative evidence, on gaps in current knowledge, that I have pointed out earlier: let’s go with your so-called testable prediction: the only part of that prediction that is provable is the one that supports evolution: if, bit by bit, over continuous research, an alternative function for each single one of the pieces of code is discovered; however, the current (or future – how far in the future shall we go? none of the theories make predictions on when something shall be discovered – which, I hope we can agree on that, would be absurd) absence of evidence for an alternative function for one or more of such pieces of code is far from proof that it doesn’t exist – it just as likely means we haven’t found it yet… from an evolutionary perspective, it is actually an amazing and exciting feat to discover any significant number of such likely alternative functions. We are talking here about organisms that have lived millions of years in the past, had no skeletal structures and are therefore practically absent in the fossil record, and any currently living organisms, that we can make inferences from is a distant relative at best…
    And could anybody explain to me why ID should be compatible with the idea that ANY of those pieces of code would fulfill alternative functions in ancestral organisms, when it rejects evolutionary theory, and thus the idea of an ancestral organisms?

    F2XL:
    This would be an example of what I mean by positive evidence: if ID had an actual hypothesis why there would be alternative functions in a genetic code that HASN’T evolved…
    or, to use a simple and general one: why there are groups of organisms that are more similar to each other than to organisms in other groups.

    back to vjtorley:
    the argument of the fine-tuned universe is not really a scientific argument either, it is actually a philosophical one, but let’s adress it briefly. It is basically an argument from an upside-down point of view, as has been pointed out by a number of scholars. The universe appears fine-tuned to us as the observers, because no other kind of universe could have produced us as we are. Well, that’s the point: if the universe were different, we would either not be here at all to observe anything, or we would be different. Our universe as it is has SHAPED the emergence and evolution of life to its current point. Life has adapted to the universe as it is, not the other way around. As the beings we currently are, carbon-based life is the only one we know and can make any measurements/hypotheses/predictions about. We can’t experience and thus not fathom or make any kind of scientific inferences about life different from our own kind of life, that might have been the product of a different universe. There actually are some interesting theories in current astro-physics that black holes might be the origin points of “budding” universes on the other end, and that each one of those universes is likely to have its very own set of physical and chemical rules… while this illustrates the misled nature of the fine-tuning argument, it’s going a little far off track in the ID / evolution discussion, so I’ll stop here for now.

  89. I myself consider it polite to hold a discussion with polite language…for my part.

  90. Onlookers:

    Since ET propagated a slander against me in another thread, I have given a more detailed response on natural selectionism there.

    Toronto:

    I see your 61, now you draw my attention to it. For simplicity I insert comments on arrow points:

    __________________

    T, 61: The Evo position is that evolution is a process that works by transitioning from (state_N) to (state_N+1).

    1 –> Out the starting gate, you are ignoring the questions of complexity and body function and the need to originate an initial von Neumann replicator, then preserve a viable replicator from generation to generation. [Cf the remarks in the next thread as just linked.]

    Here is an example:

    StateN = 10110010
    StateN + 1 = 10110011

    If ony one bit mutates every generation, how many generations might it take to get to StateN + 1?

    2 –> You are implicitly assuming that every variation is functional.

    3 –> Do you have evidence that every variation of every base in a DNA organism creates viable function, and that simply extending DNA at random creates viable novel function, not in a simulation but in the real world?

    I calculate the likely amount of generations to be 8.

    4 –> In the real world, a novel body plan would have to sufficiently emerge to be functional, starting with the first, and then with complexification on the order of 10′s or more of megabits to get to novel body plans [where 1 base pr = 2 bits basic info storage capacity]

    5 –> Worse, on evidence the initial range of viable body plans for biological von Neumann replicators is of order 100′s of k bits.

    The ID side usually responds with 2^8 or 256.

    6 –> 8 bits or even 256 bits or even 1,000 bite would be far too small to have a viable von Neumann replicator, so the answer is infinity; i.e. it will never happen.

    Your 1000 bits, would likely take only 1000 (lifeforms or generations) to transition from StateN to StateN + 1, not 2^1000 (lifeforms or generations).

    7 –> A 1,000 bit functional change will be immediately beyond the resources of our observed cosmos, once we recognise that the vast majority of possible configs are going to be non-functional; that is why it was chosen

    8 –> This is because, a cosmos of ~ 10^80 atoms, changing state every Planck time, for 10^25 s will yield but 10^150 states, i.e.effectively no search of the config space

    9 –> This gets far worse for DNA of realistic length, 100,000 bases or more. (And I am ignoring the thermodynamically unfavourable reactions needed to chain DNA of required length, as well as associated working machine molecules and the protective sac.)

    10 –> Even granting an initial life form, to get to major novel body plans similar to those seen in say the Cambrian fossil revolution, would take in credibly 10′s of millions of new functional bases.

    11 –> Observe my comments and excerpts in the other thread on what it takes to get tot he sort of coordinated, embryologically early mutations and coordination to get to novel body plans.

    12 –> And, observe my note on the Blythian as opposed to Darwinian character of natural selection in light of the problem of say a forelimb becoming a wing: we get a bad forelimb long before we get a good enough wing, and the variation would be selected against.

    13 –> In short, Darwin’s tree of life is not just unconfirmed by an almost unmanageably rich fossil record, but is refuted by it: sudden appearance, stasis and disappearance predominate, not gradual shading off from one body form to the next, each and every variation being incrementally advantageous.

    14 –> And, that error is what is implicitly assumed in your simplified model. So, I must beg to disagree.

    Are we in agreement?

    15 –> Not at all. You have assumed the answers to the real questions and so have inadvertently begged the question.
    ___________________________

    I trust this helps.

    GEM of TKI

  91. short question for kairofocus: is all the math you present your math, or are there other sources?

  92. kairosfocus @90,

    [Toronto], 61: The Evo position is that evolution is a process that works by transitioning from (state_N) to (state_N+1).

    [kairosfocus]1 –> Out the starting gate, you are ignoring the questions of complexity and body function and the need to originate an initial von Neumann replicator, then preserve a viable replicator from generation to generation. [Cf the remarks in the next thread as just linked.]

    I am not ignoring anything at my layer of abstraction. You however have claimed that I have not satisfied detail at a layer I have never claimed my example requires.

    That sir, is a strawman.

  93. MB:

    FYI, math is math.

    One of the beautiful things about it is that it is either right or wrong, and being right is a matter of the logic and calculations;not whodunit. (And as one with an undergrad major in math, and p/g in applied physics, I will be usually able to read and understand more or less basic college level math.)

    If you think I am wrong [here or in my always linked], go check.

    But since the math in this thread you are challenging is of the order of for n p-state elements, there are p^n possible configs, and that log a/log b = logb(a), I think you may need a refresher on basic scientific notation and the like.

    And with Toronto, IT IS NOT CALCULATIONS BUT UNDERLYING LOGIC AND MODELS THAT HAVE PROBLEMS.

    GEM of TKI

  94. PS: If you do find real errors of calculation or logic, I would welcome correction. To err is human. But, looking back I think much of what you may object to is numbers, the sources of which are in the linked, or else in fairly standard works, like the Planck time or number of atoms [I am being slightly generous], etc.

  95. MB:

    Following up on another point, if 76 sounds garbled to you you lack familiarity with the issues being discussed.

    GEM of TKI

  96. Vjtorley:

    “evolution gave flawed eye better vision” – well the title of this article already suggests what you then admit yourself: the recent finding is a discovery of a coping mechanism with an inherently suboptimal structure. That’s exactly what the article goes on to talk about, so I really don’t know why anyone would chalk this as a point in the ID court. But, to start a lot earlier in that entire discussion: evolutionary theory suggests a scenario, supported by evidence from eye- and eye-like structures in living and fossil organisms, how and why the human eye came to be what it is today through a gradual process. Is there any useful scientific hypothesis from an ID perspective that addresses the same how and why? Or the phenomenon that there SEEM to be gradual improvements through phylogenetic history to structures such as eyes? Or why, just as a random example, any creature that needs to see would have anything less than the supposed “optimal” structure of the human eye to accomplish that task with?

    The “human genome” example you link is not a scientific article, it is a blog commenting on a scientific article that is strongly in agreement with evolutionary theory as it pertains to the origin and structure of the human genome. So I don’t see any points for ID here either, and a blogged opinion certainly does not constitute science.
    To your point that Dr. Avise must think that ID is falsifiable: as becomes evident from the blog opinion-piece, the only clearly formulated arguments against ID (as opposed to evidence presented in support of evolutionary theory) made by Avise are pertaining to a merciful god as the designer, which the blogger accurately assigns to the realm of theology/philosophy, not science. That’s because there is no clear concept or hypothesis of what structures/organisms produced by ID would look like if you take the designer out of the discussion. Whether the designer is Zeus or Loki or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Christian God has profoundly different implications on the idea of design we expect to detect… And no one can make clear arguments about an unspecified hypothesis.

    Taking up the suggested trail of scientific evidence, I followed the “weak arguments” link to the Discovery Institute website and found a “complete list of peer-reviewed scientific publications”. Out of this list, there is an entirety of 11 articles published in reputable scientific journals. I read 6 of them, and scanned the remaining 5, which were concerned with mathematical problems at a level that is beyond me to adequately address (that have in most cases, however, been addressed and criticized by mathematicians). Each single one of these articles are concerned with problems that evolutionary theory has NOT YET adequately addressed. Which brings us back to the negative arguments, which are insufficient to make any case FOR ID. Not a single article actually presents any kind of model or hypothesis of how and why things are what they are in the natural world. On top of that, all these articles distinguish themselves by a remarkable amount of self-referencing, which is the benchmark of either poor knowledge or intentional omission of relevant literature.

    Kairofocus:
    I apologize for imprecision in the formulation of my question. I am not questioning the accuracy of the numbers or calculations you presented. I am interested if your application of these numbers and calculations to the processes you apply them to is based on scientific publications legitimizing these applications.
    To adequately address this, however, I need to also return to the issue of garbled language, which leaves it somewhat foggy what exactly you are actually calculating. Statements like:
    “Per observation of genomes and the progress towards von Neumann replicators, we see that this implies information origin at a level that chance processes – all that is available for high contingency once agency is ruled out ex hypothesi – is a credible source on.” or “SWo, now, wher eis your explanation how, on chance plus necessity only we get to body plans stwrting weiththe first?” do not qualify as English sentences where I come from. And as a published scientist I might have little bit of an edge on you when it comes to familiarity with the issues discussed. So, maybe, if you are interested in a real discussion, you could type a little slower and clearly state what and why you are calculating what you are calculating. If not, that’s fine by me too.

  97. side note on the whopping 11 published articles supporting ID: for the 6 articles I looked at more closely even a very brief and superficial search on scientific search engines produced a minimum of roughly 100-200 articles each, contradicting the evidence for the alleged explanatory shortcomings of evolutionary theory presented in those 6 articles.
    Moreover, the most prominently celebrated article (Meyer, 2004) was retracted by the journal that originally published it because it turned out that it actually didn’t pass peer-review after all.

  98. MB:

    Pardon, your attempt to dismiss ID thought on appeal to the authority of the same sort of magisterium that has been cooking the books on climate science, is telling.

    Kindly observe, again, Lewontin’s admission on the imposition of a priori materialism. (And BTW, it took just one powerful but non-peer reviewed article to found relativity; in Annalen der Physik.)

    On the eye, you need to reflect on design trade-offs across various factors, and in particular on flexible robustness vs optimisation. Balanced performance is far more important than peak performance under one set of defined circumstances. Worse, we may only properly judge sub-optimality when we know the objective function and constraints acting. (Cf. here for a few insights posted by Cirus.)

    As to your attempts to question and dismiss basic mathematics of digital elements in chains, and the implied configuration spaces of n p-state elements, with onward import on search on the gamut of our observed cosmos; what is on display – sadly – is selective hyperskepticism, rather than any serious examination of the matter on the merits. If you have identified an error, correct it. As to the fact that 8 bits enfold 2^8 = 256 configs and extensions thereof, that is a commonplace, based on 2 x 2 x . . . x 2 possibilities eight times over, etc. My linked presentation of basic information theory is standard. The basic thermodynamics I have summarised can be cross checked in standard works. My summary of Jaynes and Robertson can be examined on the terms that I have pointed out: this is one school of thought with a significant view. That you might not like where such analyses point does not give you a right to sneer and dismiss without doing the spade work to detect and correct error. Mathematics does not rest on the vote or views of the individual or the school of thought, but on the substance of eh analysis.

    And, my earlier remarks on cosmological issues and the import of the von Neumann replicator in cell based life were a compressed summary. You have to date shown no signs that you have the relevant basic familiarity to address seriously on the merits; though I do admit that on occasion I will miss typos or miss a grammatical feature.

    The bottomline, however, is all too sadly plain: attacking the man or the style to dismiss the argument; rather than addressing serious issue seriously.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

    PS: FYI, I happen to be dyslexic, and will (esp. if tired) miss typos and things like subject-verb agreement.

  99. kairosfocus @93,

    And with Toronto, IT IS NOT CALCULATIONS BUT UNDERLYING LOGIC AND MODELS THAT HAVE PROBLEMS.

    Agreed.

    The model you use for evolution is not the model evolutionists use.

  100. kairofocus:

    “Pardon, your attempt to dismiss ID thought on appeal to the authority of the same sort of magisterium that has been cooking the books on climate science, is telling.”

    authority of some sort of magisterium? Looks like we are aptly gliding into the realm of mythology here, which shouldn’t surprise me, since we are talking about ID. And wow, I’d love you show me a publication of a climatologist on evolution!

    “Kindly observe, again, Lewontin’s admission on the imposition of a priori materialism. (And BTW, it took just one powerful but non-peer reviewed article to found relativity; in Annalen der Physik.)”

    not sure what’s supposed to be wrong with a priori materialism – ID after all works on a priori theology;
    and yeah – the first article on relativity was indeed published in Annalen der Physik – I kindly suggest to do a search on a scientific search engine to witness the landslide of peer-reviewed publications on relatitivity that followed…

    “On the eye, you need to reflect on design trade-offs across various factors, and in particular on flexible robustness vs optimisation. Balanced performance is far more important than peak performance under one set of defined circumstances. Worse, we may only properly judge sub-optimality when we know the objective function and constraints acting. (Cf. here for a few insights posted by Cirus.)”

    Guess what, ‘reflection’ is the business of philosophy, whereas science is in the business of hyphothesis-testing. And I absolutely agree with you on the point of balanced performance – which is exactly what ID has failed to produce any useful hyptheses, tests and results about: why the curious inside-out structure of the eye would provide a better performance (balanced or optimized or anything) than any other structure.
    And I concur even more strongly with you on the point that we need to know the constraints on a mechanism to judge it’s performance. Which is exactly what the suggested evolutionary pathway of phylogenetic development does! If you have any suggestions on the constraints imposed by an all-powerful designer, I would be absolutely delighted to hear them!!!

    “As to your attempts to question and dismiss basic mathematics of digital elements in chains, and the implied configuration spaces of n p-state elements, with onward import on search on the gamut of our observed cosmos;”

    It seems I have to repeat myself: I am NOT questioning basic mathematics, I am trying to figure out WHAT it is you are calculating? Are you calculating the likelyhood of a wing emerging by chance? of a wing evolving out of a dinosaur-forelimb? of a protein changing it’s function? of a base-pair being replaced? The likleyhood of what EVENT are you calulating? And why is the amount of states that the atoms in the universe can take on important for any of this? You seem to use that number as some sort of upper probability bound if an event can or cannot objectively happen?
    So maybe you can enlighten me to the actual purpose of your calculations before you keep accusing me in cryptic and non-helpful ways of “dismissing” any alleged truths. And a referral to some other blog of yours is utterly useless, since you surely do not suggest to use that as an original, reliable source for anything.

    “And, my earlier remarks on cosmological issues and the import of the von Neumann replicator in cell based life were a compressed summary. though I do admit that on occasion I will miss typos or miss a grammatical feature.”

    mhm, well, if you are so sure any of those issues are relevant to the discussion, I am sure you don’t mind repeating them in a style that has helpful spelling and grammatical features that make them into intelligible statements.
    By the way, on the risk of repeating myself: evolutionary theory falls into the realm of biological science. Cosmology falls into the realm of physical science. Evolutionary theory is not relevant in the science of cosmology.

  101. kairofocus:
    hmmm, I guess I should know better than to take your word at face-value:
    I just checked your claim that Einstein’s publication of the theory of relativity in “Annalen der Physik” was not peer-reviewed. Well, here are the facts: as was the practice for any scientific publication in 1905, the article was indeed reviewed by the publishers of the journal, in this case by Max Planck and Wilhelm Wien (two extremely prominent scientists in his field, in case anyone didn’t know), undoubtedly Einstein’s peers. The practice of having an article reviewed by scientists other than the publishers came into practice after WWII, because the sheer volume of submitted publications made the old practice of publisher-review impractical.

  102. another sidenote for kairofocus:

    just to make this clear, since you make such a big deal out of it: I don’t give a hoot about typos. Typos happen to everybody, me included. However, what I am trying to address are typos and grammatical errors to the extent where they obscure the meaning of a sentence. And I did so by asking you to repeat garbled statements in a generally intelligible manner. I really don’t get why you call this a “dismissal” of your statements, when it was simply a question to repeat them?

  103. MB:

    You know full well that you are not talking about review by the publisher or publishing committee when you talk about peer review in eh relevant sense.

    By the standard you just cited, all the ID papers and books you and your ilk were previously so dismissive of were reviewed at the same level, by knowledgeable peers.

    And in fact you know full well that the modern secret panel of three review system — what I obviously contrasted Einstein’s 1905 papers to — is largely a post WW 2 phenomenon; and largely grew out of the US Govt’s desire for a criterion of funding science projects and scientists. It was not just a matter of oh, there were too many papers.

    And, we have the ongoing Climate scandal that shows a key defect of the system: once ideologised, it can be used to lock in an orthodoxy and lock out those who challenge it.

    You are beginning to sound like you need to look seriously at your attitude, which plainly assumes that those who come from the other side of disputes in which you are a party, are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.

    Indeed, looking back over the past few days, I am more and more suspecting that your evident intent is to derail, not to seriously address serious centrally important matters on the merits, then to try to drag discussion down into the fever swamp of distortions and personalities.

    I take great offense to your citing facts that amount to the same thing as I have said, then twisting them to try to pretend that somehow this justifies you in a contemptuous dismissal; after without evidence you tried to cast aspersions against fairly simple calculations on fairly accessible data; and after you pounced on me over a matter that is minor at best.

    Shame on you!

    All you have managed to do in the end is to inadvertently draw attention tot he fact that you and your ilk have nothing to say on the merits to the origin of complex, algorithmically functional digital information and associated processing systems in the heart of cell based life.

    Especially, to the known fact that such digital information systems have one observed commonly known source: intelligence.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  104. Toronto #87:

    So you think we can play around with the universal constants and still have a universe suitable for life? well these experts beg to differ:

    “If we modify the value of one of the fundamental constants, something invariably goes wrong, leading to a universe that is inhospitable to life as we know it. When we adjust a second constant in an attempt to fix the problem(s), the result, generally, is to create three new problems for every one that we “solve.” The conditions in our universe really do seem to be uniquely suitable for life forms like ourselves, and perhaps even for any form of organic complexity. Gribbin and Rees, “Cosmic Coincidences”, p. 269″

    If you would have watched this video you would not have made that mistake of reasoning toronto:

    (The quote is at the 6:24 min. mark)
    Anthropic Principle – God Created The Universe – Michael Strauss PhD. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4323661

    But then again toronto it doesn’t seem you are much interested in the truth judging from your garbled attempt to refute the constancy of the speed of light by appealing to energy levels only to have you throw up obfuscation when you realized I has already addressed that. Don’t you find that reprehensible toronto?

  105. Toronto the point I want you to clearly realize is that the material basis of this universe, energy, is constrained on several sides by “invisible walls” of transcendent information constants. Yet this fact of reality should not be so if materialism were true. i.e. if the basis of reality, from which everything else “emerges”, truly is material particles why should the foundational particle of all particles, the photon, be subject to non-varying constraints at all. Clearly transcendent information, as postulated by Theism, is demonstrating dominion of the foundational material particle of the universe. i.e. this is further confirmed in quantum teleportation experiments.

  106. kairofocus:

    “You know full well that you are not talking about review by the publisher or publishing committee when you talk about peer review in eh relevant sense.”

    I recall to have said the following: peer review in Einstein’s day was not the same thing as it is today; so it’s basically meaningless to compare the review process that his publications received to the current process. According to the standards of his day, Einstein’s publications were reviewed by his peers.

    “By the standard you just cited, all the ID papers and books you and your ilk were previously so dismissive of were reviewed at the same level, by knowledgeable peers.”

    Which papers and books are you referring to? And no, because that standard is the standard of 1905, which does not apply today. Which should be obvious.

    “And in fact you know full well that the modern secret panel of three review system — what I obviously contrasted Einstein’s 1905 papers to — is largely a post WW 2 phenomenon; and largely grew out of the US Govt’s desire for a criterion of funding science projects and scientists. It was not just a matter of oh, there were too many papers.”

    and how is this a bad thing?

    “And, we have the ongoing Climate scandal that shows a key defect of the system: once ideologised, it can be used to lock in an orthodoxy and lock out those who challenge it.”

    sources, please (and no, I don’t mean somebody’s blog…)?

    “Indeed, looking back over the past few days, I am more and more suspecting that your evident intent is to derail, not to seriously address serious centrally important matters on the merits, then to try to drag discussion down into the fever swamp of distortions and personalities.”

    the merits of what? distortions of what? whose personalities?
    you are getting more and more agitated in what is obviously an attempt to avoid making any clear, precise statements that anyone actually COULD have a discussion about.

    “I take great offense to your citing facts that amount to the same thing as I have said, then twisting them to try to pretend that somehow this justifies you in a contemptuous dismissal;”

    that’s a really cute way of stomping off hurt, which appears to be a strategy to hide the fact that you have nothing to offer in response to my questions on the matter of 1) why the curious inside-out structure of the eye would provide a better performance (balanced or optimized or anything) than any other structure. 2) if ID provides any kind of model for constraints imposed on morphological structures.

    “after without evidence you tried to cast aspersions against fairly simple calculations on fairly accessible data; and after you pounced on me over a matter that is minor at best.
    All you have managed to do in the end is to inadvertently draw attention tot he fact that you and your ilk have nothing to say on the merits to the origin of complex, algorithmically functional digital information and associated processing systems in the heart of cell based life.”

    wow – apparently we don’t speak the same language. Again, my questions were an attempt to get clarification on what kind of “data” you are talking about, what kind of data you are applying these calculations to. The term “algorithmically functional digital information” is not data. Math cannot be applied to it. An actual algorithm is data. you got one that we can discuss? like one on the evolution of wings? or on the evolution of whatever you like???

    I am getting the impression that you are running out of things to discuss, and are retreating into the realm of gratuitous mud-tossing.

    If I am wrong, it would be really awesome if you (or anyone else lurking about, for that matter), would care to address any of the many very precise questions I have been trying to discuss throughout.

  107. bornagain77 @104,

    Why are you getting angry with me?

    kairosfocus, myself and many others on this site can design an electronic circuit that biases itself to specified values despite temperature or input power changes.

    Why can’t the universe be like that?

    If there is an intelligent designer, he’s at least as good as we are at designing self-adjusting systems.

    That means that if there is a designer, it’s probably likely that the universe is NOT fine-tuned. If there is no designer at all, then for sure the universe is NOT fine-tuned.

  108. 108

    Toronto,

    That means that if there is a designer, it’s probably likely that the universe is NOT fine-tuned.

    ummmmm……. :)

  109. Toronto:

    you bring up a really important point in the fine-tuning discussion: why should the presumed existence of a designer necessitate fine-tuning in the universe?
    In other words: why should fine-tuning be an argument FOR ID?
    I already argued in #88 that it is not a particularly useful argument AGAINST any theories on the origin of life by naturalistic means (and there are several), because it is not a scientific, but a philosophical argument…

  110. madbat089 (#96)

    Thank you for your post. I only have time for a few quick responses.

    (1) Regarding the eye: ID makes no assumptions about the identity of the Designer, but for the purposes of doing science, I think it is fair to assume that at the very least, the Designer would have wanted to a good job, whatever constraints He/She/It may have been working under. (Of course, the exact nature of those constraints would depend on whether the Designer is a transcendent Creator, a Demiurge or a visiting alien.) So the question we need to ask is: how bad is the eye?

    (a) “I can imagine a better one,” says the village skeptic. But being able to imagine something doesn’t make it possible. I can imagine a winged horse, or a horse that turns into a purple triangle. That doesn’t make them possible.

    (b) “I can build a better one,” says a more sophisticated skeptic. Fine; well, by all means do. Let’s see your better eye and test it out in the lab. Can you engineer one genetically, in a vertebrate? Now that would impress me.

    Looking at the “New Scientist” articles on the eye (see http://www.uncommondescent.com.....the-blind/ ), it is remarkable that they contradict each other. One says, “It looks wrong, but the strange, ‘backwards’ structure of the vertebrate retina actually improves vision.” The other says, “It still creates a blind spot. It would make much more sense to put Muller-like cells in front of the sensors, with the wiring behind.” Well, get your story straight!

    For me, the first question I’d want to answer is: starting with the genes of a vertebrate ancestor living 530 million years ago, and taking into account its biological (anatomical and habitat-related) constraints, what could a hypothetical engineer have done better, when designing the vertebrate eye?

    The second question I’d want to answer is: starting with the first living thing 4 billion years ago, how could a hypothetical engineer have designed its genes better, to make a better vertebrate eye, given the habitat-related and anatomical constraints imposed by the vertebrate lifestyle?

    One totally unintelligent question that I would NOT attempt to address is: how could a magician have built a better vertebrate eye, while neglecting the other biological constraints that vertebrates live under? That’s just fairyland stuff, not science. “But a transcendent God could wish away those constraints,” say the village skeptics. Yes, He could, but then what you’d be left with wouldn’t be a vertebrate. It would be something else.

    (2) Regarding the blog by Avise: I don’t care whether you agree or disagree with its argument; what concerns me more is that Avise took the claims of ID seriously enough to examine the question of how the genome could have been better designed. By doing so, he implicitly agreed that the claims of ID are falsifiable, which is precisely my point.

    (3) If you don’t like kairosfocus’ style, you are perfectly free not to respond to his posts, but please don’t resort to personal criticisms.

  111. Clive Hayden @108,
    Let me change some of the bolding.

    That means that if there is a designer, it’s probably LIKELY that the universe is not fine-tuned. If there is no designer at all, then for SURE the universe is not fine-tuned.

  112. Dr Torley,

    The second question I’d want to answer is: starting with the first living thing 4 billion years ago, how could a hypothetical engineer have designed its genes better, to make a better vertebrate eye, given the habitat-related and anatomical constraints imposed by the vertebrate lifestyle?

    The differences between vertebrate and invertebrate eyes don’t seem to stem from constraints of anatomy or habitat (they lived in the same pre-Cambrian oceans, after all) but rather a quirk of development.

  113. Toronto, have I never built an electronic circuit? In college I had to build a PID controller, among other things, from scratch, in order to pass a course. As well I was an electronic technician in a chemical factory, as well I was a Instrumentation technician in the building of chemical factories. I had gained much respect as a lead off instrument technician in one particularly large project for making instruments “jump through hoops” that nobody thought they could go through. But this is all beside the point of you ignoring what the experts are saying about the finely-tuned conditions of this particular universe we live in. If I am mad at you, which I really don’t feel mad at you any more than I feel slightly annoyed at your willful ignorance, it is in the fact that you presuppose everything to be true for the atheistic position and refuse to listen to these experts, I presented, who know far more than you about the overwhelming evidence for universal, and transcendent, constants that are extremely finely tuned, as well as being dramatically irreducibly complex in their interdependent relations to one another. I can present several more lines of evidence to dramatically strengthen this particular line of inquiry, but what is the point toronto, from all I have seen of your postings no evidence for design matters to you whatsoever. You are more than willing to ignore all evidence and to let your preconceived philosophical bias drive your conclusions in spite of the blatant unreasonableness of your position. do you think me unfair in my observation of your reasoning? Well fine prove me wrong and show me that you can be fair.

  114. vjtorley:

    “(1) Regarding the eye: ID makes no assumptions about the identity of the Designer, but for the purposes of doing science, I think it is fair to assume that at the very least, the Designer would have wanted to a good job, whatever constraints He/She/It may have been working under. (Of course, the exact nature of those constraints would depend on whether the Designer is a transcendent Creator, a Demiurge or a visiting alien.) So the question we need to ask is: how bad is the eye?”

    why do we need to ask that question, if we can’t even assume that the designer wanted to do a good job, if we don’t know anything about the motivations of the designer, since he/she/it remains unidentified?

    “(a) “I can imagine a better one,” says the village skeptic. But being able to imagine something doesn’t make it possible. I can imagine a winged horse, or a horse that turns into a purple triangle. That doesn’t make them possible.”

    I concur. I don’t remember ever disputing this.

    “(b) “I can build a better one,” says a more sophisticated skeptic. Fine; well, by all means do. Let’s see your better eye and test it out in the lab. Can you engineer one genetically, in a vertebrate? Now that would impress me.”

    So, do I glean from this statement that you would consider the successful genetic engineering of an eye that is structurally superior to the human eye as evidence against ID?

    “Looking at the “New Scientist” articles on the eye (see http://www.uncommondescent.com…..the-blind/ ), it is remarkable that they contradict each other. One says, “It looks wrong, but the strange, ‘backwards’ structure of the vertebrate retina actually improves vision.” The other says, “It still creates a blind spot. It would make much more sense to put Muller-like cells in front of the sensors, with the wiring behind.” Well, get your story straight!”

    No, those statements you just cited don’t contradict each other at all, when you take them in context: the strange, ‘backwards’ structure of the vertebrate retina actually improves vision (which refers to existence of Muller-cells), but it still creates a blind spot. It would make much more sense to put Muller-like cells in front of the sensors, with the wiring behind (which by inference would likely lead to the same, improved, vision, minus the blind spot).

    “For me, the first question I’d want to answer is: starting with the genes of a vertebrate ancestor living 530 million years ago, and taking into account its biological (anatomical and habitat-related) constraints, what could a hypothetical engineer have done better, when designing the vertebrate eye?

    The second question I’d want to answer is: starting with the first living thing 4 billion years ago, how could a hypothetical engineer have designed its genes better, to make a better vertebrate eye, given the habitat-related and anatomical constraints imposed by the vertebrate lifestyle?”

    so, both these questions bring us back to the point that you are apparently not disputing the evolutionary idea of a common ancestor? Which components of evolutionary theory are you disputing, then?

    “One totally unintelligent question that I would NOT attempt to address is: how could a magician have built a better vertebrate eye, while neglecting the other biological constraints that vertebrates live under? That’s just fairyland stuff, not science. “But a transcendent God could wish away those constraints,” say the village skeptics. Yes, He could, but then what you’d be left with wouldn’t be a vertebrate. It would be something else.”

    and why would a transcendent god not want to create a vertebrate, with or without constraints? what would he/she/it want to create, instead?

    “(2) Regarding the blog by Avise: I don’t care whether you agree or disagree with its argument; what concerns me more is that Avise took the claims of ID seriously enough to examine the question of how the genome could have been better designed. By doing so, he implicitly agreed that the claims of ID are falsifiable, which is precisely my point.”

    Well, my point is that he demonstrably only addressed falsifiable PHILOSOPHICAL claims of ID.

    “(3) If you don’t like kairosfocus’ style, you are perfectly free not to respond to his posts, but please don’t resort to personal criticisms.”

    Ahh, so I guess kairofocus descent into language like “you and your ilk” and denunciation of my statements as “fever swamp” must be considered somehow distinct from personal criticism hereabouts?

  115. bornagain77 @112,
    Then you understand that humans have designed circuits that bias themselves.

    Some tube guitar amplifiers are designed the same way so that you don’t have to be picky about hand-matching output tubes and adjusting any pots yourself.

    If I want to prove that a circuit I designed works, I turn the power supply up and I measure. Then I turn it down and measure again.

    If my circuit voltages are constant despite different supply voltages, my design works.

    Where are the measurements from your experts?

    You can’t slow down the speed of light and make any measurements and you can’t try different values of gravity because we don’t have that control over the universe.

    Where is the empirical evidence that allows the experts to conclude they are right about fine-tuning?

    I do have test evidence for my circuit that says the universal constants for my little transistor’s universe can change, yet it will still run fine.

    I believe a designer of the universe has to be at least as capable as I am.

  116. —Toronto: “If there is an intelligent designer, he’s at least as good as we are at designing self-adjusting systems.

    —”That means that if there is a designer, it’s probably likely that the universe is NOT fine-tuned. If there is no designer at all, then for sure the universe is NOT fine-tuned.”

    Why not go all the way? Perhaps the designer, who wasn’t really a designer after all, fine-tuned the universe at the first level to adjust itself at the second level which would, in turn, fine-tune itself at the third level, so that it could adjust itself at the fourth level, prompting it to fine-tune itself at the fifth level (continue on for as long as needed.)

    I think that formulation would be sufficiently impervious to any kind of reasoned interpretation of the evidence to serve your purpose.

    Think big. Don’t just stop at two levels. Once we abandon causality, there is no reason to limit our imagination.

    Speaking of irrational universes, try this formulation out for size:

    –madbat089: “There actually are some interesting theories in current astro-physics that black holes might be the origin points of “budding” universes on the other end, and that each one of those universes is likely to have its very own set of physical and chemical rules…

    Yes, and perhaps these “budding” universes generate little baby universes that grow up to be big strong universes just like daddy. Perhaps these various universe types get together and have universe conventions, wondering if someone, say a designer, actually created the conditions in the black hole that serves as the “origin point” that causes the universes to “bud.” Or, perhaps, they form a consensus and decide that they just didn’t need any cause at all.

  117. StephenB, On black holes:

    Penrose commenting on the initial entropy setting of the Big Bang (1 in 10^10^123) comments in comparison to Black Holes

    “But why was the big bang so precisely organized, whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? It would appear that this question can be phrased in terms of the behaviour of the WEYL part of the space-time curvature at space-time singularities. What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities-but not at final singularities-and this seems to be what confines the Creator’s choice to this very tiny region of phase space.”

    How special was the big bang? – Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123. (from the Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose, pp 339-345 – 1989)
    http://www.ws5.com/Penrose/

    contrary to speculation, Black Hole singularities are completely opposite the singularity of the Big Bang in terms of the ordered physics of thermodynamics. i.e. Black Holes are singularities of destruction and disorder rather than singularities of creation and order(R. Penrose, S. Hawking).

    Entropy of the Universe – Hugh Ross – May 2010
    Excerpt: Egan and Lineweaver found that supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to the observable universe’s entropy. They showed that these supermassive black holes contribute about 30 times more entropy than what the previous research teams estimated.
    http://www.reasons.org/entropy-universe

  118. Toronto-

    Why can’t the universe be like that?

    Why can’t I be a flying hippopotamus?

  119. StephenB @115,

    Perhaps the designer, who wasn’t really a designer after all, fine-tuned the universe at the first level to adjust itself at the second level which would, in turn, fine-tune itself at the third level, so that it could adjust itself at the fourth level, prompting it to fine-tune itself at the fifth level (continue on for as long as needed.

    I don’t understand what you are trying to say here or what you mean by levels of fine-tuning.

    There is no step-wise quantum characteristic associated with self-biasing as it is basically linear feedback, if that is what you are getting at.

    My point is that a designer of the universe would probably be better than us and we have already discovered that it is beneficial to design systems that self-adjust to a changing environment.

    My comment at 114 which hasn’t yet appeared, is actually directed to bornagain77 at 112, and should clarify what I am trying to point out.

  120. —Born again: “How special was the big bang?

    ––”Roger Penrose
    —Excerpt: “This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123. (from the Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose, pp 339-345 – 1989)”

    Isn’t cause and effect a beautiful thing? A finely tuned universe requires a fine-tuner. What a novel idea.

    —”contrary to speculation, Black Hole singularities are completely opposite the singularity of the Big Bang in terms of the ordered physics of thermodynamics. i.e. Black Holes are singularities of destruction and disorder rather than singularities of creation and order(R. Penrose, S. Hawking).”

    It kind of spoils the party for the black-hole-as-innovator advocates doesn’t it?

  121. StephenB,

    “It kind of spoils the party for the black-hole-as-innovator advocates doesn’t it?”

    Yes it does.

  122. Has anyone ever done a study concerning the similarities between atheism and paganism? I’d really like to know. I think that basically atheism is paganism in denial.

  123. “It kind of spoils the party for the black-hole-as-innovator advocates doesn’t it?”

    not really: theories on budding universes that include black holes (there are others based on theories of chaotic inflation and fractal structure) address the conditions on the OTHER end of the black hole – not the one we are observing; I thought this was kind of obvious, but it doesn’t seem to be to the present audience.

  124. 124

    madbat,

    Aren’t there turtles on “the other end” of black holes?

  125. F/N re MB:

    Onlookers, my point was and is that peer review in the sense so vaunted by evolutionary materialist advocates, is demonstrably not a necessary or sufficient condition of breakthrough science. As Einstein so aptly showed.

    In other words, it is on canons of logic, strictly irrelevant to the issue of the merits of the case. So, the proper focus for our attention is: the merits of fact and logic, and of inference to best explanation in light of the actual empirical data.

    Moreover, I also have noted that as the current climate scandal documents, the behind the scenes smoking gun emails show how once a field of science has become ideologised, peer review is gamed to become the gatekeepers of the dominant factions.

    And, anyone who can look at origins science in recent years and not see that the fields of study have become ideologised along the lines of Lewontinian a priori materialism, and has further become enmeshed into the sort of amoral agenda driven culture war Plato described 2300 years ago in The Laws, Bk X, is either brain dead or is so locked into the partyline himself that he is willfully blind.

    So, it is time to stop the ideological games, and address the issues on the merits.

    No prizes for guessing why the evo mat advocates here and elsewhere are ever so eager not to do that.

    GEM of TKI

  126. —madbad 089: “not really: theories on budding universes that include black holes (there are others based on theories of chaotic inflation and fractal structure) address the conditions on the OTHER end of the black hole – not the one we are observing; I thought this was kind of obvious, but it doesn’t seem to be to the present audience,”

    You missed my broader point. I never took seriously even for one moment the proposition that a black hole can cause a universe to “bud.” Black holes deal in chaos not order.

    But even granting such a wild notion arguendo, a black hole, a big bang, or any other alleged “point of origin” must be explained. Even such an irrational notion as infinite multiple universes begs the question because infinite multiple universes need a generator. Points of origin, however they are characterized, do not bring themselves into existence. It’s back to the cause effect thing. Materialists abandon causality in order to sustain their atheism. Atheism is not an intellectual position; it is an emotional/spiritual/religious position because it militates against reason’s first principles and clings to the notion that something can come from nothing.

  127. madbat089; seeing as Stephen Hawking has shown that all the mass that enters a black hole will eventually evaporate out by hawking radiation, thus showing that conservation of mass is not violated, how exactly is it you propose to “fuel” your conjectures of budding universes at the OTHER end of the black holes? It seems like the ultimate free lunch to me in which you get infinite universes with no price save the unfettered imagination you have used to suggest as such.

  128. Upright BiPed:

    there are turtles on the other end of black holes? cool! that would mean that turtles, not humans, are obviously some sort of teleological endpoint of your creator’s wisdom!

    It is really fasciniating how you folks alternately ridicule astrophysicists as fairyland-lunatics (#113, #120) or revere them as credible authorities (#114, #116), depending on what serves the purpose of the moment. :)

    kairofocus:

    “Onlookers, my point was and is that peer review in the sense so vaunted by evolutionary materialist advocates, is demonstrably not a necessary or sufficient condition of breakthrough science. As Einstein so aptly showed.”

    Your argument is pointless, because it simply shows that Einstein published his scientific discoveries under the respected standards of his time. Which was publisher-review. If he would live today, he would publish under the respected standards of our time. Which is blind review by two or three experts in the field. It sounds like you are doubting that Einstein would be able to publish his findings under today’s standards?

    No presentation of source material on the “climate scandal”, so this point is going nowhere.

    And you have yet to justify what should be wrong with a priori materialism, if ID rests upon a priori teleology.

    I would be delighted to address issues on the merits of the case of ID vs. evolutionary theory. It seems to me I have been trying to do excatly that in each single one of my posts by bringing up and debating specific issues that allow comparison of the merits of the two concepts. I have even taken up examples that YOU brought up, to refute the possible criticism that I am just bringing up points that somehow give me an advantage. At which point I received the bizarre accusation from you that my application of deductive reasoning and the logic of evolutionary theory to concepts that you brought up is somehow “offensive”.

    You want to have a discussion on the merits of ID? Well, by all means, let’s have one! Go ahead and pick the example you want to discuss, since you seem unable or unwilling to address any of the ones I brought up.

  129. bornagain77:

    “how exactly is it you propose to “fuel” your conjectures of budding universes at the OTHER end of the black holes? It seems like the ultimate free lunch to me in which you get infinite universes with no price save the unfettered imagination you have used to suggest as such.”

    what makes you think that this is MY theory or MY imagination? Do you want me to send you the scientific papers on those subjects? Then, I assume, you’ll want to go through the physics and math presented there and tell the scientists in question why they are wrong? Be my guest! :)

  130. madbat089, but since you fully purchase, on appeal of authority, into these conjectures of these “scientists” which have no empirical support, and you have need to reject the hawking radiation which has such empirical verification, why should it be any less their theory or imagination than theirs? If you want to show me anything, besides wordy storytelling dressed in scientific garb, please show me the direct empirical evidence that I should grant you such speculation anything more than fairy tales.

  131. correction:
    why should it be any less their theory or imagination than yours?

  132. bornagain77 @126,

    madbat089; seeing as Stephen Hawking has shown that all the mass that enters a black hole will eventually evaporate out by hawking radiation, thus showing that conservation of mass is not violated,..

    But that’s dependent on the size of the black hole. A small black hole loses mass over time, a really big one sucks in more mass than it loses.

    The radiation that’s emitted is also not really mass from the black hole as it is one half of a particle pair. One appears to us as radiation, the other disappears into the black hole, where maybe on the other side it is emitted as what they, (the other side people!), might see as their side of a particle pair, i.e., THEIR emitted radiation.

    I would really like to see a discussion of this between you and some of the Evos who have a much better grounding in physics than I do.

  133. Onlookers

    MB continues to play at twisting and turning in a way that shows the deeply truth-challenged nature of evo mat, atheistical radical relativism.

    If peer editing of an article could publish a vital but controversial paper in 1905 that proved ultimately revolutionary [relativity continued to be controversial for quite some years] then plainly we see that this can happen again.

    And, if standards for publication changed once they can change again.

    Especially, when we see the rising tide of evidence that the current secret panel peer review process has been abused to enforce party line orthodoxies. Indeed, peer review is in flux currently, with ideas such as open review being on the table. [Open review is of course a kissing cousin of the older review by a panel of editors.]

    And in any case MB is plainly rushing off on one tangent after another, helping to distract this thread from a very important expose of the willful misrepresentations of design theory by Ruse, a major ID opponent.

    The best correction is therefore to draw attention back to the original remarks:

    ______________

    >> PROF TORLEY: Here’s another excerpt:

    [RUSE] “In the ID case, whatever its supporters may say publicly for political purposes – in the USA thanks to the First Amendment you cannot teach religion in state-funded schools – the intention is to bring God into the causal process. ID claims that there are some phenomena (like the bacterial flagellum and the blood-clotting cascade) are so “irreducibly complex,” that to explain them we must invoke an “intelligent designer.” As they admit among themselves – the philosopher-mathematician William Dembski is quite clear on this – the designer is none other than our old friend the God of Christianity.”

    TORLEY: (1) “Bring God into the causal process”?? The notion makes absolutely no sense. According to religious believers, no causal process could exist without God in the first place. God sustains the universe in being; it would not exist, even for a second, without Him.

    (2) Irreducibly complexity doesn’t come in degrees; either a system is irreducibly complex or it isn’t. Professor Ruse’s phrase “so irreducibly complex” (emphasis mine) betrays a misunderstanding of this point.

    (3) Professor Dembski’s views on the identity of the intelligent designer form no part of Intelligent Design theory, as contained in ID textbooks. Intelligent Design as such is a scientific project.

    (4) Professor Dembski’s religious views and motives are no more germane to the scientific merits of Intelligent Design theory than the atheistic views and motives of most neo-Darwinists are of relevance to the scientific merits of neo-Darwinism. >>
    _______________

    That — though quite diplomatic about what has to be a willful pattern of projecting what one wishes ID were like onto it, in the teeth of correction and protest — is a very important expose of the ways in which opponents of designt theory typically make up srtrawman versions and knock them over, pretending that design thinkers are higing a destructive theocratic hidden agenda. {Cf the UD weak argument correctives, top right this and every UD page on this.]

    So, let’s not allow ourselves to be dragged down into the fever swamp of distractions, distortions, and denigrations by those who are only too happy to do that as it distracts attention form their need to correct their now habitual willful misrepresentation of design theory.

    remember, in the past few days, another major public misrepresentation, by Ayala, had to be corrected.

    For shame!

    GEM of TKI

  134. There are two logical possibilities for the genesis of the UCA, the putative Universal Common Ancestor (a functional self-replicating single-celled organism):

    1) It was designed — specified and brought into existence by an intelligent agent.

    2) It came about as a result of chance in concert with natural laws — laws that produce observable, repeatable, decipherable patterns.

    madbat, either you accept that both of these logical possibilities exist, or you’ve ruled out design a priori. If it’s the latter, then you’re wasting everyone’s time here, including your own.

  135. by the way, why is everybody all of a sudden so interested in this issue of budding universes? They might or might not exist – it is an interesting, relatively novel theory in astrophysics, that I mentioned in passing in #88, when I was addressing the argument of fine-tuning. But if they actually exist or not has no bearing whatsoever on the scientific merits of ID or evolutionary theory, for the reasons laid out in #88. So if you want to challenge me on anything that has actual significance to the ID-discussion, I suggest you challenge the reasoning on fine-tuning itself…
    Apart from the fact that I doubt anyone on this forum is qualified enough to challenge astrophysical algorithms and inferences – but I might be wrong, so if there are any astrophysicists out there: raise your hand! And if you are not qualified to lead a challenge yourself, then you need to find scientific papers that prove or at least argue why finding x of scientist A is not compatible with finding y by scientist B. Sorry, but your “belief” that a particular finding of Stephen Hawking is incompatible with what you want it to be incompatible with is not cutting it.

  136. Apollos @133,

    1) It was designed — specified and brought into existence by an intelligent agent.

    2) It came about as a result of chance in concert with natural laws — laws that produce observable, repeatable, decipherable patterns.

    I accept both possibilities.

    I see evidence for 2, but have seen no evidence for 1.

    If anyone has evidence FOR 1, as opposed to evidence AGAINST 2, I’d like to see it.

  137. well, kairofocus, finally you said it plainly:
    you are not actually interested in discussing the merits of ID as a scientific theory, you are interested in talking about Michael Ruse’s take on it. So, I am indeed wasting my time.

    Apollos, #129:

    I do indeed accept that both those logical possibilities exist, along with an infinite number of alternative logical possibilities. A priori materialism, at least in the sense I am using it, does not mean I rule out other logical explanations for anything, it means that I start from ONE of those possibilities to base my models and hypotheses on. Does ID do anything different here?

  138. madbat089 @125

    Please do. I am very doubtful that any of the actual physics and math will not have as a premise something based entirely on “unfettered imagination”.

    Fortunately we don’t need to understand the math or much of the physics at all to examine the premises. I look forward to it.

  139. madbat, thanks for your response at #131, but could you expand upon your statement regarding infinite logical possibilities?

    I have put forward the two that I believe reasonably exhaust all others, and would be interested if even a third category exists that does not encroach on the logical territory of the other two.

    1) The UCA was designed by an intelligent agent.

    2) The UCA was the practical inevitability of chance acting with respect to natural laws.

    On a lesser note, considering the possibility of design as a cause in nature doesn’t preclude any other type of natural cause.

  140. Those recurring references to ‘design’, most often in conjunction with ‘intelligent’, what do they actually mean? They only raise huge ?’s in my mind; what is the content, the meaning behind the use of those words? “Something/some/body/bodies did something(s) sometime(s)?

    What is missing from the – as far as I can tell, very consistent, well researched and documented scientific theory of evolution?

    How many designers are there? Have they been operating for billions of years? It is not like the design hypothesis is full of holes like the ToE, ; it is more like a void.

  141. Cabal, putting aside motive mongering for a moment: the presence of design (or lack thereof) is logically a category of cause unto itself; and while it may produce a flurry of questions when considered by the human intellect, there’s nothing about it specifically that can’t be independently considered, apart from the reasonable but completely separate and subsequent questions about identity, purpose, etc.

    While it may seem convenient to lump all these questions into one giant super-question about the ultimate purpose of the cosmos and everything in it, there exists no necessity to do so, other than to the satisfaction of our quite natural curiosity.

    I don’t think you can make a believable case that we need to determine the precise nature and motive of a (any) designer before we can appropriately detect the presence of design.

    If design is a logical possibility as to ultimate causes of any artifact, then there shouldn’t be any issue with accepting that it may very well be objectively detectable.

  142. Apollos, #133:

    I think what you are talking about is plausibility, rather than logic.

    To give you a third logical possibility outside of the logical framework of #1 and #2:

    3) The UCA was the product of random processes acting outside observed natural laws.

    This is a perfectly logical statement – is it plausible? We can probably both agree: not very much.

    What we probably disagree upon is the relative plausibilities of statement #1 vs. statement #2. Which is why you operate on a priori teleology and I operate on a priori naturalism. I don’t see anything wrong with either of these premises, as long as meaningful concepts can be derived from them.

    And I really appreciate the currently respectful manner in which you conduct this discussion! Thanks for showing that not everybody here is solely riding on cynicism and ridicule, and that you make meaningful points about meaningful issues!

    Vjtorely:

    my thanks to you on the same issue – I appreciate the respectful and meaningful exchange of arguments, and look forward to the next round!

    andrewjg, re #132:

    I am working on putting together the requested list – you may expect it within the next day or two!

  143. madbat089:

    “andrewjg, re #132:

    I am working on putting together the requested list – you may expect it within the next day or two!”

    Oh goody another creation without a Creator story,,,

  144. madbat089,

    while your digging through papers to explain to us how extremely ordered universes order can arise from utter chaos, could you also find the paper that falsifies Abel’s null hypothesis:

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag

  145. —madbat089: “what makes you think that this is MY theory or MY imagination?”

    Are you not the one who is posting? Are you not the one who is challenging the evidence for a designed universe in the name of self adjusting mechanisms, budding multiple universes, and creative black holes?

    —”Do you want me to send you the scientific papers on those subjects? Then, I assume, you’ll want to go through the physics and math presented there and tell the scientists in question why they are wrong? Be my guest!”

    The mathematics and physics are there to support the argument and not the other way around. If you cannot summarize these scientists’ findings and present a well-reasoned argument on their behalf, then perhaps their thinking is too muddled to be summarized.

    When all else fails, try a simple declarative sentence which characterizes your position.

    Example1: The universe may not be designed because black holes can crank out infinite multiple universes, only one of which just happens to fit our needs. If that is your position, I have a few questions about the creative powers of black holes and the origin of those powers.

    Example2: The universe may not be finely-tuned because self adjusting matter can create the illusion of fine-tuning. [Toronto's extravagent and liberating formulation which you enthusiastically endorsed]. If that is your position, I have a few issues about how science would be possible in such a cosmic madhouse.

    Example3: The universe can fine-tune itself; it has no need of a fine-tuner. Again, if that is your argument, I would like to explore your peceptions about how such things are possible if we are to take causality seriously.

    Of course, you could always go with the rational alternative.

    Example4: The fundamental physical constants in the universe are finely tuned to such an extent that an intelligent agent must have conceived and established them.

  146. madbat at #136,

    I believe that your third category could be considered a variation on my second; chance acting apart from natural law could arguably be a logical impossibility.

    And certainly plausibility should be considered; your third category is at least implausible (if not impossible), from both of our standpoints. ;-)

    However in my view, firstly that which is possible should constrain that which is plausible (or implausible).

    Either the UCA has design in the causal chain of its existence — as a partial or complete cause — or it came about unaided, strictly as some proportion of law and chance (material cause only). In a sense this is two sides of a very thin coin. I would again submit that a third sort of category does not exist. If it does, we should get it out in the open.

    (That we can mix different proportions of design/law or law/chance shouldn’t be too big an issue at this point.)

    As long as we agree that design is logically possible as an explanation for observed effects, then I believe there is a basis for discussion.

    As you pointed out, the discussion moves to plausible explanations. This is based on our knowledge of things observed, with allowance made that future discoveries could very well change how we view data in evidence today.

    Thank you for the exchange.

  147. re #138:

    thanks for posting this argument, bornagain77, it is another example of a negative argument, that rests on challenging naturalistic science to demonstrate something it has not yet demonstrated. Which in and of itself is great, and exactly what the scientific process is all about. There might or might not be any papers addressing this issue as of now, but that is not really relevant to the merit of ID, because the argument contains no logical positive connection why ID would be true if H0 is true.

  148. madbat089:
    what is absolutely hilarious is that you gave “positive” evidence for the ID position, in that only intelligence can generate functional information, when you typed your post stating I was giving negative argumentation against materialism. You see madbat089 we know of 100% certainty that intelligence can and does generate functional information, yet we have ZERO evidence for your position that purely material processes can do as such. Moreover seeing as how the entire universe is reducible to transcendent information, i.e. the universal constants, the photons themselves, and the mathematical equations (functional information) that governs how particles will behave in this universe, and seeing as how the double slit-quantum erasure has demonstrated that consciousness must precede the “uncertain” 3-D material reality, It really isn’t a question of if materialism is true anymore but it is a question of when atheistic materialists will wake up and realize their philosophy is dead and their science is bankrupt:

    Evanescence – “Bring Me To Life” – Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3ORuIBjjBU

    Wake Me O Lord

    Wake me O Lord from this sleep of mine
    To the living wonders of creation that are so fine
    With a “Oh, that’s nice” I shall not content
    NO, only when You speak shall my heart be spent
    Others may suffice their cravings of Awe
    With an “Oh Well” shrug of the wonders they saw
    But I know You are in each piece of reality
    Yes, in the wind, the stars, and even the sea
    So this vow to You I make
    No rest in me my heart will take
    Till Your face and hands again I see
    In the many waters of reality
    For the truth be known to You indeed
    That if I see You not with my heart and head
    I’m not really born again, but instead am dead

    ————–

    materialism compared to theism:
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc....._5fwz42dg9

    Intelligent Design – The Anthropic Hypothesis
    http://lettherebelight-77.blogspot.com/

  149. Link fix:

    Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpmSHb-aRB0

  150. madbat089 (#114)

    Thank you for your post. A few quick points in reply.

    (1) I entirely agree with your point about personal criticisms – politeness is something that should be expected from everyone.

    (2) Avise’s aim was to show that the genome was poorly designed. I’d call that a scientific claim, although obviously it has philosophical implications.

    (3) It’s impossible to imagine a vertebrate or any other creature that’s completely free from constraints. Our limitations are what defines us – for example, as animals, we need food and oxygen.

    (4) I accept common descent. However, I believe that unintelligent processes alone could not have generated the first living thing, or the complex animal body plans that appeared in the Cambrian. I also think that many structures we see in the cell were designed, and I’m inclined to think the same holds true for some larger complex structures such as the eye.

    (5) I would indeed consider the successful genetic engineering of an eye that was structurally superior to the human eye as evidence against one version of ID – the hypothesis that the eye was designed by a Transcendent Being. However, the genetic engineering would have to take place in a vertebrate, and without causing detriment to it in any other respect.

    (6) For a follow-up on the eye, I suggest you have a look at the following recent ID posts:

    Why Ken Miller is right about our backward retina
    The eyes have it .

    Thank you for the interesting exchange of views.

  151. Bornagain77, #148:

    “You see madbat089 we know of 100% certainty that intelligence can and does generate functional information,…”

    If you really believe that statement to be a valid “positive proof” for ID, then the simple fact that we know with 100% certainty that naturalistic processes govern every single currently observable phenomenon in the biological realm (e.g. in physiology, behavior, genetics, ecology,…) would be “positive proof” for naturalism.

    “Moreover seeing as how the entire universe is reducible to transcendent information, i.e. the universal constants, the photons themselves, and the mathematical equations (functional information) that governs how particles will behave in this universe,”

    Not sure why you think that the assumption that the entire universe can be explained by the universal constants (and photons and mathematical equations, which both are governed by the universal constants) is supposed to contradict, instead of support naturalism?

    “and seeing as how the double slit-quantum erasure has demonstrated that consciousness must precede the “uncertain” 3-D material reality,”

    Ah, look, there is a perfect opportunity for you (or StephenB, if he wants to jump in) to step up to the plate: if it is so easy to translate astro-physics, or in this case particle-physics into common language, I would like to see you explain, in an unbroken string of logic, how “the double slit-quantum erasure has demonstrated that consciousness must precede the uncertain 3-D material reality.” And please enclose reference to the original publications, so a sceptic can see how well you are representing the scientists’ actual science. Because at this point I feel inclined to reject your reasoning, based on the point that my 3-D material reality is not in the least uncertain. Which might serve to illustrate the point that ridiculing a scientific concept based on the ignorance of the factual meaning of the concept serves nothing but to expose said ignorance of the ridiculer. Common language does not easily deal with phenomena in physics. Which is why the language of physics is math.

    StephenB, #145:

    If you are interested in my position on fine-tuning, you might have just looked under #88; but let me rephrase it for you:

    The interpretation that the universe is fine-tuned for the emergence and organization of life as we see it today (in particular human life, since this argument usually goes with the anthropic principle) only is meaningful from a teleological perspective (i.e. the assumption that human life in it’s current form is the ultimate goal of the universe). I do not operate under a teleological frame work, which means I do not believe that the universe has any “goal” or “purpose”. The universe simply exists, and we observe it having a particular set of rules that governs which sets of events will or will not eventually occur. Under that particular set of rules life as we observe it today has eventually occurred, and, governed and constrained by that very same set of rules, evolved into the currently observable multitude of shapes and relationships. Life has adapted to the universe’s rules, not the other way around, as the teleological perspective assumes. The universe could have started out with a different set of rules. Under a different set of rules, life in the form as we know it today is quite unlikely. We would either not be here to observe anything at all, or we would be different, enabled and governed by said different set of rules, and observing said different set of rules. We have no empirical starting-point to make any models, hypotheses or predictions on forms of life different from our current carbon-based state, which is why the investigation stops here.

    Apollos, #146:

    Well, I still disagree with you on several grounds that there would only be 2 alternative logical explanations for the existence of a UCA, but as long as that point remains irrelevant to the discussion, it seems most efficient to ignore it for now.

    So yes, we both do agree that ID is a logically possible explanation!

    thanks!

    Vjtorley, #150:

    To (3): I agree, life as we know it operates under a large set of constraints. Which, especially from your perspective, does not logically imply that any kind of imaginable being operates under constraints, since you are already postulating the existence of a being (your omnipotent god) that is free of constraints. Am I right? But, besides that, we were not talking about presumed constraints upon the creatures, but upon the creator. You assumed that the creator would be constrained in his choices of how to create an eye. I don’t understand why that would be true for the omnipotent being you assume to be the creator?

    To (4): Thanks much for that clarification! It shows me that our perceptions on the evolution of life are not fundamentally different at all. It comes down to a number of specific, detailed events that you and I assume different explanations for to bridge the gap in current understanding. I don’t have a reason to assume that our continuing inquiry into naturalistic mechanisms cannot close such gaps as it has closed so many before, whereas you assume that an intelligent designer was necessary to bridge those gaps. I can respect that perspective! If you are interested in continuing the discussion on a specific point, for example the appearance of complex animal body plans in the Cambrian, and how big the gap in actual knowledge is that we are trying to span with our separate perspectives, I’d be happy to. Otherwise, I am perfectly content to leave it at that, and thank you very much for a good discussion!

  152. Onlookers

    Ah boy . . .

    I passed by again, and saw MB’s latest sad denigratory caricature [as though I do not have always linked to every post I make at UD a monograph length note on the range of issues linked to design theory; including the issue of multiverse speculations].

    I note on this point that the topic for the thread is the topic for the thread, and it is plain above where the distractions have come from, and why.

    On the latest tangent, we need to observe something very simple:

    multiverses — by budding or otherwise — are not observed entities.

    So, regardless of mathematical dressing, we are not discussing science but speculative philosophy to be taken with a very large grain of salt.

    Meanwhile, even more sadly, those only too happy to indulge speculations whose main rhetorical purpose is to imagine a vast expansion of the perceived cosmos — without empirical warrant — are utterly unwilling to examine the plain, observable evidence of codes, data structures, algorithms, programs and executing machinery in the cell, and the only known or credible source of such.

    In short, inconsistent, selective hyperskepticism, in service of a priori metaphysical evolutionary materialism.

    So, let us put the matter in proper proportion and context, form the greatest of all metaphysicians, Aristocles, known as Plato:

    [The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . . these people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them . . . These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [here, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . . [The laws, Bk X, 360 BC]

    Nor is this just an ancient speculation. Here is Provine, in the 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day keynote:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent. . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them . . .

    [ . . . ]

  153. And, as to where the roots of that agenda came from, let us again hear Lewontin describe that in his review of Sagan, in NYRB, 1997:

    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, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [“Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis added.]

    In short, in the guise of “science,” we are being presented with a metaphysical agenda, whether in biology or in cosmology; one with destructive amoral consequences. Much is at stake, much more than issues of science, and much of it exceedingly dangerous.

    So, My first counsel is that we must insit that empty metaphysical speculation — wheter or not dressed up with mathematical apparatus — be no longer presented to us as “science,” but isntead honeslyt as what it is, specualtive discussion on origins with but little anchorage in observation. Especially, as we are unable to observe the distant past of actual origins, however we may wish to infer that certain things are traces of it. (For instance even distance estimates once we move beyonf the range of parallax, are increasingly theory-laden with greater and greater distance, from cepheid variables [the focal topic of my first ever public presentation] to supernovae and other so-called standard candles, to red shifts etc.]

    In short, let us cultivate that metaphysical humility that Job 38 upbraids us for our want of:

    Job 38
    The LORD Speaks
    1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:

    2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
    with words without knowledge?
    [Scientia is of course Latin for "knowledge," which comes from the Gk cognate gnosis]

    3 Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.

    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.

    5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?

    6 On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone-

    7 while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels [a] shouted for joy?

    8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
    when it burst forth from the womb,

    9 when I made the clouds its garment
    and wrapped it in thick darkness,

    10 when I fixed limits for it
    and set its doors and bars in place,

    11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
    here is where your proud waves halt’?

    12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
    or shown the dawn its place,

    13 that it might take the earth by the edges
    and shake the wicked out of it?

    14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
    its features stand out like those of a garment.

    15 The wicked are denied their light,
    and their upraised arm is broken . . .

    And, let us observe again on the topic in the main for this thread, the consistent pattern of strawmannish distortion and distraction, and let us observe that this is precisely the problem that Ruse unfortunately exemplified.

    Surely, we can do better than this.

    A lot better.

    GEM of TKI

  154. 154

    “…the simple fact that we know with 100% certainty that naturalistic processes govern every single currently observable phenomenon in the biological realm (e.g. in physiology, behavior, genetics, ecology,…) would be “positive proof” for naturalism.”

    You will need to seperate what is operational laws of regularity from origins. Your toaster oven operates by fully natural means, but that tells us nothing about how it came into existence. There is nothing in the atomic make-up of the materials, nor in the natural forces acting on any of the materials, that explains how they came to be organized in such a state.

    This would seem rather obvious.

    The thing that distiguishes the state of its being is the input of information.

    This would seem rather obvious as well.

    A biological system displays that same quality – it is the input of information which explains the state of its existence. Because it is a self-replicating system, it goes further to include a semiotic abstraction of itself encoded in a medium. That abstraction is taken from the medium, tranfered into another medium, transported elswhere in the organism, then decoded for replication.

    This is the “observable phenomenon” which must be explained.

  155. PS: Can we observe events beyond the event horizon of a black hole? [And BTW, is there as yet a clear and indisputable, observationally grounded candidate?]

    –> If the answer to either of these is “no,” then how seriously should we take cosmological speculations that go far beyond the sheet anchor of observation?

  156. madbat089 you state:

    “If you really believe that statement to be a valid “positive proof” for ID, then the simple fact that we know with 100% certainty that naturalistic processes govern every single currently observable phenomenon in the biological realm (e.g. in physiology, behavior (sorry madbat no go on this one unless you want to defend the “gay gene”), genetics, ecology,…) would be “positive proof” for naturalism.”

    you are correct in so far as you limit yourself to purely material processes. But the overriding principle that drives all sub-speciation events is Genetic Entropy, which is traceable as loss of genetic diversity and loss of capacity for morphological novelty as well as measurable by the loss of fitness of any particular species over long periods of time.

    then you state:

    Not sure why you think that the assumption that the entire universe can be explained by the universal constants (and photons and mathematical equations, which both are governed by the universal constants) is supposed to contradict, instead of support naturalism?

    First the mathematical equations operate within the parameters of the universal constants but are not derivable from them. Same for the photons. In fact each photon is reducible to infinite transcendent information per Duwell and Bennett:

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1) — Concept 2. is used by Bennett, et al. Recall that they infer that since an infinite amount of information is required to specify a (photon) qubit, an infinite amount of information must be transferred to teleport.
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    Whereas the universal constants themselves are not reducible to any material basis but are indeed shown to be transcendent of any of the material constraints that are placed on “uncertain 3-D particles”

    Uncertainty Principle – The Uncertain Non-Particle” Basis Of Material Reality – video and article
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4109172
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-uncertainty/

    you then state:

    I would like to see you explain, in an unbroken string of logic, how “the double slit-quantum erasure has demonstrated that consciousness must precede the uncertain 3-D material reality.” And please enclose reference to the original publications, so a sceptic can see how well you are representing the scientists’ actual science.

    In conjunction with the mathematical necessity of an “Uncaused Cause” to explain the beginning of the universe, in philosophy it has been shown that,,,

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

    I find this centuries old philosophical argument, for the necessity of a “First Mover” accounting for change occurring at each moment, to be validated by quantum mechanics. This is since the possibility for the universe to be considered a “closed system” of cause and effect is removed with the refutation of the “hidden variable” argument. i.e. There must be a sufficient transcendent cause (God/First Mover) to explain the quantum wave collapse to the “uncertain” 3D effect for “each moment” of the universe.

    Dr. Quantum – Double Slit Experiment & Entanglement – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4096579/

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    This following experiment highlights the centrality of consciousness in the Double Slit Experiment as to the wave collapse and refutes any “detector centered” arguments for wave collapse:

    Delayed choice quantum eraser
    Excerpt: Now for the weirder part. What if we manipulate the experiment so as to make it impossible to determine from which down-converter a given idler photon emerged? What if, that is, we erase the which-path information embodied by the idler photon? Well, something amazing happens: even though we’ve done nothing directly to the signal photons, by erasing which-path information carried by their idler partners we can recover an interference pattern from the signal photons[!!!!!!]
    http://onemorebrown.wordpress......um-eraser/

    of note; Consciousness must be INFORMED with local certainty to cause the wave to become a particle. We know from the Double Slit Experiment, with delayed erasure, that the simple fact of a detector being present is NOT sufficient to explain the wave collapse. If the detector results are erased after detection but before conscious analysis we see the wave form result instead of the particle result. This clearly establishes the centrality of consciousness to the whole experiment. i.e. The clear implication from the experiment is that consciousness is primary, and detection secondary, to the collapse of the wave function to a 3-D particle. Consciousness must precede 3-Dimensional material reality.

    Why, who makes much of a miracle? As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles, Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
    Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,,,
    Walt Whitman – Miracles

    then you state:

    Which might serve to illustrate the point that ridiculing a scientific concept based on the ignorance of the factual meaning of the concept serves nothing but to expose said ignorance of the ridiculer.

    I could not have said it better myself madbat089.

    further reading:
    http://lettherebelight-77.blogspot.com

  157. further notes:

    The Mental Universe:
    Excerpt: The Universe is immaterial — mental
    and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.
    Richard Conn Henry is a Professor in the
    Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics
    and Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins
    University, Baltimore, Maryland
    http://webcache.googleusercont.....#038;gl=us

    This following study solidly refutes the “hidden variable” argument that has been used by materialists to try to get around the Theistic implications of this instantaneous “spooky action at a distance” found in quantum mechanics.

    Quantum Measurements: Common Sense Is Not Enough, Physicists Show – July 2009
    Excerpt: scientists have now proven comprehensively in an experiment for the first time that the experimentally observed phenomena cannot be described by non-contextual models with hidden variables. http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142824.htm

    (of note: hidden variables were postulated to remove the need for “spooky” forces, as Einstein termed them—forces that act instantaneously at great distances, thereby breaking the most cherished rule of relativity theory, that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.)

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Wigner

    Madbat if you continue to insist reality has a “material basis” please explain the origination of the entire universe with no space-time energy-matter to do so with:

    Inflationary spacetimes are not past-complete – Borde-Guth-Vilenkin – 2003
    Excerpt: inflationary models require physics other than inflation to describe the past boundary of the inflating region of spacetime.
    http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0110012

    “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can long longer hide behind the possibility of a past eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” Alexander Vilenkin – Many Worlds In One – Pg. 176

    The Scientific Evidence For The Big Bang – Michael Strauss PhD. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4323668

    Evidence Supporting the Big Bang
    http://www.astronomynotes.com/cosmolgy/s7.htm

  158. —madbat 089: “The interpretation that the universe is fine-tuned for the emergence and organization of life as we see it today (in particular human life, since this argument usually goes with the anthropic principle) only is meaningful from a teleological perspective (i.e. the assumption that human life in it’s current form is the ultimate goal of the universe).”

    The finely-tuned physical constants are not interpretations, they are SCIENTIFIC FACTS. The argument that a finely-tuned universe requires a fine-tuner is a slam-dunk philosophical argument. So, [a] you ignore the scientific facts until you can ignore them no more, at which time you label them as “teleology” and [b] misinterpret the facts that you mischaracterized as philosophical arguments by implying that a universe can fine tune itself, abandoning causality.

    —-madbat 089“The universe simply exists, and we observe it having a particular set of rules that governs which sets of events will or will not eventually occur. Under that particular set of rules life as we observe it today has eventually occurred, and, governed and constrained by that very same set of rules, evolved into the currently observable multitude of shapes and relationships.”

    You simply take everything for granted and offer that as a rational argument.

    Where did the rules come from? [They're just there]

    How did the universe come into being? [It just did].

    How and why did life appear? [It just happened].

    WHY investigate the universe if there is no rational order to it? [We just do].

    HOW can we investigate it if there is no rational order to it? [Don’t ask].

    WHAT can we use to investigate it with if we have no rational minds to correspond with the ordered universe? [Matter investigates itself].

    This is intellectual sophistication?

  159. StephenB:

    TOUCHE!
    http://www.bgassociates.com/im.....TOUCHE.jpg

    kariofocus:

    Hawking radiation renders the budding universes conjecture moot since all the mass going into black holes is now shown to eventually evaporate. i.e. the mass of the black hole is not going anywhere it is just stored up just as a battery is stored up that will eventually leak away. Though we can’t see past the event horizon because of speed of light concerns, which the gravitational acceleration of the black hole exceeds, this does not prevent us from concluding that since no mass is leaving the black holes. then no hypothetical parallel universes are being created. i.e. you can’t get something from nothing.

    notes:

    Hawking radiation
    Hawking radiation (also known as Bekenstein-Hawking radiation) is a thermal radiation with a black body spectrum predicted to be emitted by black holes due to quantum effects. It is named after the physicist Stephen Hawking who provided the theoretical argument for its existence in 1974, and sometimes also after the physicist Jacob Bekenstein who predicted that black holes should have a finite, non-zero temperature and entropy. Hawking’s work followed his visit to Moscow in 1973 where Soviet scientists Yakov Zeldovich and Alexander Starobinsky showed him that according to the quantum mechanical uncertainty principle, rotating black holes should create and emit particles.[1] The Hawking radiation process reduces the mass of the black hole and is therefore also known as black hole evaporation.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_radiation

    Properties of black hole radiation from tunnelling – 2008
    We consider the spacetime associated with the evaporation of a black hole by quantum mechanical tunnelling events. It is shown that the surface through which tunnelling occurs is distinct from the global event horizon, and that this has consequences for the radiation reaching future null infinity. A spherical collapse process is modelled, and the radiation expected to be observed at future null infinity is calculated. It is shown that external observers witness an evaporation process that begins as the tunnelling surface is exposed, and ends as the collapsing object passes behind its event horizon. The sensitivity of emitted radiation to the collapse process is illustrated.
    http://iopscience.iop.org/0264.....DF218BC.c3

    Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun – music video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiSkyEyBczU

  160. Materialists must adopt an unscientific standpoint in order to maintain their position. Let’s start from the top. They must deny teleology, causality, AND ontology, i.e. The argumenta for (evidences) God’s existence. Thus, they must deny reason. Next, they must deny vast arrays of independent and interdependent evidence. They must first deny history, i.e. the historicity of Jesus Christ. They would have us throw out any history that is not recorded on film because we “cannot know history”. Then they must deny the martyrs of early christianity who died horrible deaths because they would not renounce their knowledge, not just belief, in the ressurection of Jesus Christ. Then thy have to deny the experience of billions. In doing so they also deny the basis for their philosophy, i.e. Perception. One had to ask, would a materialist be willing to hold on to their belief under threat of death? I doubt it entirely. This is only the tip of the iceberg really.

    Now, I dont know why Christians, and others,
    mince words with talk of “belief” in God’s being and dont just call it what it is, knowledge. This reminds me of two passages, Matthew 4:4  ”But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” and John 1:3 “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” the first speaks to this superstitious, unscientific belief called materialism and the second reminda us that nothing, not even science, was made without God, or the logos known as Jesus Christ.

  161. BA:

    Appreciated.

    Actually, there are issues on net evaporation (a Q-tunnelling effect where by potential barriers in Q-th are never perfect) with the theoretical equilibrium being a BH about mass of the moon at 2.7K. Beyond, they currently eat more than they give up.

    However, my core point is that we are dealing with theory beyond any significant body of actual observations. The EH is a window that locks us out observationally and a BH being a net black body radiator through Q-tunnelling evap is uninformative of its internal state. (One of Planck’s key breakthroughs with cavity radiator analysis, was that he worked out that there was no dependence of BB radiation on the specific material inside.)

    And, frankly, I don’t trust theorising that is not checkable at multiple points, the more directly the better. And even then the theory can still be wrong — as happened with Newtonian Physics 100 years ago.

    For, epistemologically and logically, science affirms the consequent: If THEORY, then Observation; observation so THEORY. We add, so far, and put faith in it if multiple tests are there. But the logical error is plain: If cat then animal, Animal so cat is plainly a fallacy. Science is a faith-venture.

    In the case of BH models, there is no definitive direct observation, though there are hopes including the large hadron collider, and the chain of inference for a supermassive BH at the heart of our galaxy is compelling to many.

    So, to go on to speculate on black holes about budding universes or other forms of multiverses is quite similar to debates on how many angels can dance on the point of a pin. Though even that had a legitimate logical point: distinguish location from extension.

    Rhetorically, the notion that this is well founded science, complete with mathematical apparatus and simulation models and artist;s impressions shores up a specualtion that we suddently have more and more space so we can get around they sort of probabilisticv barraiers thsat jump out on fine tuning of physical parameters and on the complex integrated informasiton rich organisaiton of cell based life. But, if the truth in labelling law were applied, this would be acknowledged metaphysics.

    So other metaphysical frames have equal rights at the table off comparative difficulties analysis, including design of the cosmos by an extracosmic, powerful and wise necessary being [necessary as a contingent cosmos with a beginning necessitates a begin-ner], intent on creating a cosmos habitable for life.

    [ . . . ]

  162. Going beyond that UB is dead right to mark the difference between the laws of operation of an entity and the causal forces that set it up. My computer’s operations are wholly described by laws of mechanical necessity and chance processes [that good old Johnson noise and shot noise etc], but that has nothing to do with its origin, which is by intelligence that exploited the forces, laws and materials of nature, economically, to achieve a purpose for the benefit of humanity. (And if you don’t recognise it, I just gave the ABET standard definition of engineering.)

    The characteristic sign of that engineering is that the computer reflects complex, functional organisation and associated information. In J S Wiken’s words:

    Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems. Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms [i.e. “simple” force laws acting on objects starting from arbitrary and common- place initial conditions] and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an [originally . . . ] external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’ [“The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. (Emphases and notes added. Nb: “originally” is added to highlight that for self-replicating systems, the blue print can be built-in.)]

    Of course, as I had to point out in another thread today, natural selection is not an information source, it is an information filter: it selects the most functional sub population for survival, among reproducing populations. And since it depends on existing functionality up to the level of the population, it cannot explain the origin of said reproductive capacity and required organisation and information. That organisation has to fulfill the requisites of a von Neumann self replicator, which is irreducibly complex and beyond the credible reach of darwinian mechanisms, whether for the first life form or for the dozens of major body plans.

    The requisites, of which ii to iv are an irreducibly complex core and i and v are underpinning requisites, are:

    (i) an underlying code to record/store the required information and to guide procedures for using it,

    (ii) a coded blueprint/tape record of such specifications and (explicit or implicit) instructions, together with

    (iii) a tape reader that reads and interprets the coded specifications and associated instructions, and

    (iv) implementing machines (and associated organisation and procedures) to carry out the specified replication (including that of the constructor itself); backed up by

    (v) either:

    (1) a pre-existing reservoir of required parts and energy sources, or

    (2) associated “metabolic” machines carrying out activities that provide required specific materials and forms of energy by using the generic resources in the surrounding environment.

    No wonder the now “almost unmanageably rich” fossil record definitively shows islands of functionality, not Darwin’s expected smoothly varying pattern of populations from first life to the many different major body plans of the fossil record and today.

    And no wonder the Lewontin a priori materialists are consistently reduced to strawman distortions and denigratory tactics, as sadly Ruse himself showed in the original post.

    GEM of TKI

  163. Oh, and thanks to bornagain i found this song…

    Phil Wickham- True Love

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UGqSW_eeHI

  164. Phaedros, that was a way cool video,, You may like this one:

    When You Know – Inspirational Song
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4209342

    kairofocus:

    this video may interest you:

    Virtual Particles, Anthropic Principle & Relativity
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4554674

    There are a few other lines of evidence outlining constraints on black holes that preclude them from ever being considered “singularities of creation”. Mainly the entropic considerations from Penrose in his piece “How special was The Big Bang?”

    How special was the big bang?
    http://www.ws5.com/Penrose/

    Creative black holes are constrained as well by the fact that as far as the interrelational gravitational effect of mass to space-time is concerned the mass is still there in reality though space-time has collapsed for the mass for the gravitational effect produced by the black hole is still proportional to the amount of mass the black hole has engulfed,,, i.e. the materialist is stuck in a trying to get “something for nothing” scenario even if the Hawking radiation ultimately fails empirical considerations.

  165. 165

    madbat089,

    Goodbye.

  166. BA:

    Thanks for the video and excerpt links. (I think you will find Bradley’s lecture excerpt here also useful as a summary on some key fine tuning constraints and how they tie to our existence, though a bit spoiled by frame rate.)

    I appreciate your point on how BH’s are entropy-rich long term [if big enough] but only metastable entities that eventually evaporate through quantum tunnelling out of the potential barriers. [VERY long times for the big boys . . . way beyond time for universe as a whole to become effectively sterile. Now that there is fair confidence in a flat cosmos, there would be enough time plausibly available, i.e. no big crunch is likely. And of course big crunches add up entropy so infinite oscillating universes are not really on the cards anymore.]

    My point above, though, was about worldviews and what we view as plausible/ “extraordinary” [in the Sagan sense]; not BH science as such.

    BH’s for decades were strongly believed in though not observed, as implications of relativistic physics and cosmology. There have been candidates ever since I heard of Cygnus X-1 in the mid 70′s, and now it5 is argued that there is “compelling” evidence that we have a biggie at the heart of our galaxy, out in the direction of Sagittarius. Also, the point of the very term BH, is that once an event horizon forms, the escape velocity exceeds the speed of light, so we have a defined unobservable zone.

    For decades, an elaborate physics of BH’s was worked out, without strident demands for direct observation to justify accepting them as credible.

    Similarly, the remote past of origins (of the cosmos, of life and of body plan level biodiversity) is an unobservable. Indeed, the timelines we commonly see for these things are deeply inferential, as is the scale of space. That is, inferred as opposed to observed quantities and entities are routine in science.

    Now, pivot a bit, and reflect on our experience and observation of our selves as minded, enconscienced, intelligent creatures.

    Immediately, the controversy level shoots up by orders of magnitude. There are entire fields of study predicated on the assumptions and assertions that such central experiences of ourselves are illusory, and must be wholly explicable in terms of matter and energy evolving purposelessly across time, through the forces of chance and necessity. Never mind the patent self-referentially inconsistent absurdities that flow from that.

    And, if you are so impertinent as to suggest that intelligence leaves observable traces that can be empirically tested and found sufficiently reliable to be seen as signs of intelligence [never mind the actual fact that this is a routine practice on common sense and in many unquestionably scientific fields], you are threatened with expulsion from the halls of science, as you are allowing a divine foot in the door.

    In short, selective hyperskepticism is afoot, and reveals itself in teh agenda serving inconsistencies in standards of evidence demanded.

    Sagan’s assertions notwithstanding:

    “extraordinary claims require extraordinary [ADEQUATE] evidence.”

    1 –> There is more than adequate evidence that we can think, decide and reason for ourselves, not simply as the result of neuronal networks firing away as the happenstance outcome of genetic and social conditioning.

    2 –> That demands that we recognise realities that go beyond the chance and mechanism driven grinding away of the matter-energy wheels of the physical chemical and biological worlds.

    3 –> There is more than adequate reason — just think of how we quarrel by asserting generally recognised principles of right and wrong — to infer that we are morally obligated creatures.

    4 –> And yes, that lets a lot more than a mere divine foot in the door: it demands a good and just Creator God as the ground of a cosmos in which there is an IS that can adequately ground OUGHT.

    5 –> There is more than adequate evidence that intelligent actors often leave empirically reliable signs of intelligent action behind them. [The FSCI in the many posts in this thread are direct cases in point, among gazillions.]

    6 –> So, we have a perfect epistemological and scientific right to see the inference from signs of intelligence to the signified intelligence as warranted.

    7 –> Thus, when we see the digital codes, algorithms, information storage and transmission, encoding and decoding, translation and step by step processing in the heart of the living cell, we have every right to infer from such signs of intelligence to the intelligent design of the cell.

    8 –> When we see the sort of extraordinary coordinated fine tuning that sets up a cosmos in which we can have such cells and the life that is based on them, we have every further good reason to infer on scientific evidence at least as good as that for he existence of BH’s and their significance, that the cosmos as a whole was designed for life, indeed for intelligent life.

    9 –> And, when we see that body plan level biodiversity [including that required to make us] incorporates FSCI beyond the 500 – 1,000 bits that marks a threshold where the observed — as opposed to speculative — universe does not have credible resources to search out he configuration space implied by the number of bits, then it is also reasonable to infer that such body plans were designed.

    10 –> So, pace the strawmannish distortions of Ruse et al down to MB and others of like ilk, the inference to design is reasonable and empirically at least as well warranted as many constructs that are taken seriously in contemporary science.

    11 –> Also, we see that the chain of inference that points to a good creator God in part uses the inference to a credible designer of the cosmos, of life and of body plans, but draws far more strongly on our first fact of experience: we are minded, enconscienced, deciding and thinking creatures. [Even those who would argue from the fact of evil to challenging the reality of God are acknowledging the reality of morality, and what that entails in a world where only a Creator God who is good as to essential character can ground OUGHT in an IS. So, while evil is a challenge, it has to be reckoned with within a view of reality that accepts the only credible ground for morality. And, on that, Job
    38
    ff has never been bettered.]
    ________________

    GEM of TKI

  167. PS: Those needing to find a model framework for thinking about minds and bodies, could find it helpful to start with Eng Derek Smith’s two-tier controller cybernetic loop here, in which a front end i/o controller in the loop is supervised by a higher order creative controller that interacts with the loop informationally and perceptually, providing creative and decisional inputs.

  168. @Phaedros #122:

    -”Has anyone ever done a study concerning the similarities between atheism and paganism? I’d really like to know. I think that basically atheism is paganism in denial”

    That is correct. A study on the matter would definitely be a step in the right direction in exposing the real face of atheism, its superstition and absurdities.

  169. Above and Phaedros,
    Though not a study on the direct linkage of paganism and atheism, this following video does highlight some stunning similarities with scholarly depth:

    The Ancient Pagan Root Of Evolution
    http://edinburghcreationgroup.org/roots.xml

    ————

    cool song:

    MercyMe- “You Reign” Music Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-bxXEqGFqg

  170. @madbat 151

    -“……the simple fact that we know with 100% certainty that naturalistic processes govern every single currently observable phenomenon in the biological realm (e.g. in physiology, behavior, genetics, ecology,…) would be “positive proof” for naturalism.”

    I ‘m sorry, but how did you come to such an absurd conclusion?

    First, can you please explain to us your methodology of attaining 100% certitude? I’m dying to know this model you’ve developed!!!

    Second, what exactly is your 100% proof that all behavior is governed by naturalistic processes? And please do not reference the pseudo-science of evolutionary psychology. We’re trying to have a serious discussion here.

  171. 171

    above, madbat can’t answer you. He got banned by Clive @ One Six Five:

    Clive Hayden

    05/13/2010

    2:26 am

    madbat089,

    Goodbye.

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