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How Future Scholars Will View Evolution

Centuries from now, here is how a history book is likely to describe the theory of evolution:

As with many new paradigms, evolutionary thought developed over a lengthy period. Within the period known as Modern Science, which had its beginnings in the middle of the second millennium, evolutionary thought began to emerge in the mid seventeenth century. At that time theologians and philosophers from various traditions strenuously argued that the world must have arisen via strictly naturalistic processes. These schools of thought contributed to what became known as The Enlightenment period in the eighteenth century which marked a major turning point in Western intellectual thought.

In The Enlightenment period theological and metaphysical positions became codified in Western thought. These positions became sufficiently accepted and familiar so as to be no longer in need of justification. Instead, Western thinking rapidly incorporated these positions as new truths. This new theology made strong commitments in the area of divine intent, action, and interaction with creation. The impact on science was profound as this theology mandated that God’s interactions with the world was to be strictly via secondary causes (i.e., natural laws), and that all of history must be governed solely by such causes. This paradigm later became known as Evolutionary Thought.

In Evolutionary Thought, science implicitly incorporated these theological and metaphysical commitments. Western, and by now worldwide, thought entered a dark age of anti intellectualism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In this period all findings were described as evolutionary. Needless to say this was cause for ever more strained explanations of the evidence. Nonetheless, a rigid social and financial structure enforced adherence, complete with implicit penalties and harassment of dissenters.

Continued here

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125 Responses to How Future Scholars Will View Evolution

  1. Wow! A fantasy in which methodological naturalism is confused with metaphysical naturalism and then mislabelled Evolutionary Thought – have you thought of sending this to the textbook committee in Texas?

  2. Nakashima,

    Did you read the last paragraph beyond the “Continued here”? If you did, I would have expected a rebuttal instead of a cheap shot.

  3. Nakashima,

    Who holds the difference between methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism? Certainly not any of the anti ID people who come here. So what are you trying to say, that you have a fantasy that there is a difference for a lot of people.

    Hunter has written a couple books on this topic so to satisfy your fantasies you should read more about it.

  4. 4
    Granville Sewell

    Cornelius,

    Nice to see that you are posting at UD now, hope you keep doing this.

    Your “history” is pretty accurate, but do you REALLY believe this is what will be written? It’s hard to predict the future, I think it’s entirely possible you are right, it’s also possible you are overly optimistic (especially “its demise in the early 21st century”!). Discredited ideas have an amazing ability to hang around, when enough people want to believe them.

  5. 5
    Cornelius Hunter

    Nakashima:

    Reread the post, asking yourself this question: Why do I believe this historical review describes Evolutionary Thought as entailing metaphysical naturalism?

  6. Mr Jerry,

    I’m not the one publishing fantasy. But even a fantasy of a scholarly history can make the appropriate distinctions.

  7. Dr Hunter,

    You are on much safer ground expressing the opinion that evolutionary thought entails metaphysical naturalism than relabelling all post-Enlightenment science as “Evolutionary Thought”. Exactly what part of condensed matter physics deserves the label “Evolutionary Thought”? What part of organic chemistry? What part of meteorology would be done differently if it was all done by Hasidic Jews?

    What would Gregor Mendel have concluded differently about genetics if he had been a monk, and not blinded by the implicate metaphysical naturalism of all post-Enlightenment science?

  8. I like the prediction of a demise in the early 21st century. It reminds me of this:

    “Today, at the dawn of the new century, nothing is more certain than that Darwinism has lost its prestige among men of science. It has seen its day and will soon be reckoned a thing of the past. A few decades hence when people will look back upon the history of the doctrine of Descent, they will confess that the years between 1860 and 1880 were in many respects a time of carnival; and the enthusiasm which at that time took possession of the devotees of natural science will appear to them as the excitement attending some mad revel.”
    Eberhard Dennert, At the Deathbed of Darwinism, 1904.

    Religious people have been prophesying the death of evolutionary thought since its existence.

    In reality, the percentage of the U.S. population describing themselves as having no religion has doubled since 1990, and the support for purely naturalistic evolution is higher amongst the young than the old.

    Could there be an element of wishful thinking in such predictions?

  9. What would Gregor Mendel have concluded differently about genetics if he had been a monk, and not blinded by the implicate metaphysical naturalism of all post-Enlightenment science?

    Excellent point! To which I might add: I’ve been following this blog for months now, and I’m still not sure exactly which “old mainstream” evolutionary premises will be replaced by which “new mainstream” design premises. For example, will the laws of inheritance be modified to include saltation or front-loading?

    Time and time again, I get the sense that all the various ID people have in common is a nebulous notion that evolution is wrong and design is right, but disputes always emerge when it comes to the specifics (common descent, mechanism of design, etc). Whereas even as evolutionists debate punk eek versus gradualism, they all agree on the details about mutations.

  10. —-”We now understand that a key enabler of Evolutionary Thought was the denial of its very foundation. In its Delusion of Objectivity, evolution denied any theological or metaphysical influence or commitment. Indeed, the very term Enlightenment is an anachronism. We still use this historical term, even though it was meant to convey the idea of objectivity and independence of religious assumption and authority. Indeed, The Enlightenment period was precisely the opposite. As with so many periods of history, The Enlightenment was strongly influenced by theology and metaphysics. The difference in The Enlightenment was its denial of such influence. This Delusion of Objectivity was the source of much of the justification for Evolutionary Thought, until its demise in the early twenty first century.”

    Brilliant! And absolutely true. The biggest mistake is in believing that science can or ever has operated without metaphysical assumptions.

  11. Mr StephenB,

    Yes, and it is the profound failure of the metaphysical assumptions of the Atomic Theory of Matter that explain the status of that theory today. And likewise, the failure of the Atomic Theory explains the status of those assumptions in the scientific world.

    If it weren’t for Newton’s metaphysics guided alchemy we would no nothing of the true nature of the world.

  12. Nakashima,

    I thought Dr. Hunter’s fictional future was about failed Darwinism, not science. I’ve never seen anyone here have problems with science, only the fascist-like dogmatism of some Orwellian thought-minders who police evolutionary scientist from using words like “design” and prevent any critical thought. Except of course when it comes to SETI, then by all means, teach the children.

    By the way, you never said if you exist or not. Which is it?

    You certainly debate with passionately satiric wit as if you exist. ;-)

  13. Lenoxus:

    disputes always emerge when it comes to the specifics (common descent, mechanism of design, etc). Whereas even as evolutionists debate punk eek versus gradualism, they all agree on the details about mutations.

    mechanism of design? You don’t get it. Design is the mechanism, molecules are the parts – DNA contains the information and meta information for assembly of the parts. Thus your question doesn’t even make sense.

    “they all agree on the details of mutations”? Surely you jest! No? Well then dream on, dream on…

    However, have you never heard of genetic entropy? Do yourself a favor and pick up some knowledge on that.
    Mutations – which are almost always deleteroius and damaging to genetic information – are the very thing that brings about all 10+ million life forms on earth? The things that cause so many diseases are also the things that make new body plans and organs…? I guess you’ve never heard of statistical mechanics either huh. Or combinatorial dependencies in complex machines?

    Still don’t understand that code = intelligence so the genetic code had to have been built by an intelligent of vast intellect? No intelligence = no code. Code, by definition, requires intelligence.
    The genetic is not analogous to code it IS code. Molecular machinery is not analogous to machinery it IS machinery.

    Complex inter-cooperating machines working concurrently cannot arise by random processes. Period.

    The line up of facts now working against the neo Darwinian ToE is getting so large that the truly amazing thing is that Darwinists either can’t or refuse to see it.

    Yet you all go on merrily imagining that “somewhere out there” someone has the real evidence for this ‘modern synthesis’ – when in fact no one has.

  14. Lenoxus:

    disputes always emerge when it comes to the specifics (common descent, mechanism of design, etc). Whereas even as evolutionists debate punk eek versus gradualism, they all agree on the details about mutations.

    mechanism of design? You don’t get it. Design is the mechanism, molecules are the parts – DNA contains the information and meta information for assembly of the parts. Thus your question doesn’t even make sense.

    “they all agree on the details of mutations”? Surely you jest! No? Well then dream on, dream on…

    However, have you never heard of genetic entropy? Do yourself a favor and pick up some knowledge on that.
    Mutations – which are almost always deleterious and damaging to genetic information – are the very thing that brings about all 10+ million life forms on earth? The things that cause so many diseases are also the things that make new body plans and organs…? I guess you’ve never heard of statistical mechanics either huh. Or combinatorial dependencies in complex machines?

    Still don’t understand that code = intelligence so the genetic code had to have been built by an intelligent of vast intellect? No intelligence = no code. Code, by definition, requires intelligence.
    The genetic is not analogous to code it IS code. Molecular machinery is not analogous to machinery it IS machinery.

    Complex inter-cooperating machines working concurrently cannot arise by random processes. Period.

    The line up of facts now working against the neo Darwinian ToE is getting so large that the truly amazing thing is that Darwinists either can’t or refuse to see it.

    Yet you all go on merrily imagining that “somewhere out there” someone has the real evidence for this ‘modern synthesis’ – when in fact no one has.

  15. —-nakashima: “Yes, and it is the profound failure of the metaphysical assumptions of the Atomic Theory of Matter that explain the status of that theory today. And likewise, the failure of the Atomic Theory explains the status of those assumptions in the scientific world.”

    The Atomic Theory of Matter is not a metaphysical assumption, it is a scientific theory, which was rightly displaced by another scientific theory. Please don’t confuse it with “atomism,” a pre-Socratic philosophy that took far too long to die.

    The two current metaphysical assumptions are these: [A] Nature is all there is, and [B] Nature is not all there is. The former is a science stopper; the latter is not.

    —-”What would Gregor Mendel have concluded differently about genetics if he had been a monk, and not blinded by the implicate metaphysical naturalism of all post-Enlightenment science?”

    Mendel was not an enlightenment type thinker. Quite the contrary, he believed that since God created the universe, then physical laws exist not only in physics and chemistry, but in biology as well. He was one of those scientists who believed that he was “thinking God’s thoughts after him.”

  16. 16
    Cornelius Hunter

    Nakashima:

    “You are on much safer ground expressing the opinion that evolutionary thought entails metaphysical naturalism than relabelling all post-Enlightenment science as ‘Evolutionary Thought’.”

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  17. oops sorry – it got posted twice :-O

  18. Mr DATCG,

    Yes, it seems that Dr Hunter’s little parable was aimed at evolution, but somehow hit all of science. You’ll have to ask him how that happened.

    Certainly I exist! After all, error exists, and I am in error.

  19. 19
    Cornelius Hunter

    Lenoxus:

    “I’m still not sure exactly which “old mainstream” evolutionary premises will be replaced by which “new mainstream” design premises.”

    I can help you with that Lenoxus. The religious premises need to be replaced with scientific ones, like following the data.

  20. Cornelius Hunter @19

    I’m still not sure exactly which “old mainstream” evolutionary premises will be replaced by which “new mainstream” design premises.

    I can help you with that Lenoxus. The religious premises need to be replaced with scientific ones, like following the data.

    Could you please point out the specific empirical evidence that contradicts modern evolutionary theory? I’m sure some Ph.D. candidates who are looking for a way to make a name for themselves would benefit from your suggested areas of research.

    JJ

  21. Nakashima,

    I think maybe you are projecting your own fears of what might be in the future if we allowed open scientific debate in universities and possible implications.

    What I read and gain from Dr. Hunter’s story is limited to the Darwinian cult, not all of science. So I do not share your fears. Science goes on discovering new insights and functions about digital code, signals, intricrate mult-layered meta data of formerly assumed “junk” DNA. The future is bright having taken off the blinders of Darwinism.

    So good to know you err, as we all do at times. And that you exist!

    I was worried that simultaneously you did not exist. Then I’d possibly be in error talking to a non-existent, very intelligent being.

    My day seems somehow more evident now…

    I’ll be off to pick up a Loropatelum Chinensis Purple Diamond and some Floribunda.

    Enjoy the day that exist for now. :)

  22. Mr StephenB,

    Didn’t you just say that there is no science without metaphysical assumptions? Leaving aside atomism, John Dalton’s Atomic Theory of Matter must, under your assertion, have metaphysical assumptions. What are they?

    Sadly, I cannot read Mendel’s work in the original. But if I read a translation, would I be able to see either of your assumptions [A] of [B] in his work?

    I am shocked, shocked I say, to hear that Dr Hunter’s future history might have cracks in the facade. Mendel wasn’t an atheist? Faraday wasn’t a metaphysical naturalist? Well, at least they were expelled from the rigid social structure and implictly penalized. Who would have promoted a Mendel, or named a prize or medal after a Faraday!

  23. “And that you exist! ”

    I wonder Nak do you hold your position that you exist provisionally?

    Vivid

  24. Mr DATCG,

    You should have not had any concerns over my existence. As a large ensemble of particles (too large around the middle) my existence is quite definite.

    If I was a sub-atomic particle, I would have both told you and not told you immediately! ;-p

  25. Cornelius Hunter

    I can help you with that Lenoxus. The religious premises need to be replaced with scientific ones, like following the data.

    “Following the data” is a premise?

    Be that as it may, I’ll take your sentence to mean that the supernatural should be kept out of science because there is no data to support its existence.

    I agree.

  26. Borne:

    code = intelligence so the genetic code had to have been built by an intelligent of vast intellect? No intelligence = no code. Code, by definition, requires intelligence.

    So there’s no real disagreement about the facts on the ground, just whether they should be interpreted as being “from design”. If I wanted, I could describe the laws of physics as “information” or “code”, and even if the entire community of physicists agreed with me that they were designed, the practices and conclusions of physics would not be modified in the slightest. The difference isn’t even one of cosmology, but of philosophy. Until “design” becomes a specific, observable, mechanical phenomenon, calling something “designed” seems no different scientifically than calling it “pretty”.

    “they all agree on the details of mutations”? Surely you jest! No? Well then dream on, dream on…

    What I mean is that as far as I can tell, evolutionary scientists basically agree on what mutations physically are, that they occur, how they occur, and even the general ratio of positive to negative to neutral mutations. Where things get complicated is things like the role of sexual selection, the rate of change to the allele frequency, etc. Whereas IDers don’t seem to agree on whether the designer uses cosmic rays to cause mutations, or have any similar agreed-upon mechanism.

    have you never heard of genetic entropy? Do yourself a favor and pick up some knowledge on that.

    Indeed, I have. I’m afraid that the concept has yet to enter mainstream biology even slightly, however. There simply is no evidence that “genetic information” (however we want to define that) experiences some measurable rate of “entropy” over time.

    You say “Mutations… are almost always deleterious and damaging to genetic information”. Depending on the definition of “genetic information”, this could mean a lot of things. I suppose one could argue that all mutations “damage” the genome, even if they help the organism, simply because the genome is different from what it was before. Ultimately, though, evolution is unaffected how “informationally pure” DNA is, so long as the available DNA gets the job done.

    Having read your post, I’m now curious what you make of the old evolutionary concept of “selection”. Why, despite all evidence to the contrary, do you think it is actually powerless to filter out those harmful mutations?

    The things that cause so many diseases are also the things that make new body plans and organs…?

    Yes, and the substance that we all drink to live can also make us drown.

  27. —-Nakashima: “Didn’t you just say that there is no science without metaphysical assumptions? Leaving aside atomism, John Dalton’s Atomic Theory of Matter must, under your assertion, have metaphysical assumptions. What are they?”

    We have already covered that ground. The assumption is that “nature is all there is,” one of the bitter fruits of the enlightenment. I made this point very explicitly.

    —-”Sadly, I cannot read Mendel’s work in the original. But if I read a translation, would I be able to see either of your assumptions [A] of [B] in his work?”

    When you write something in error, and someone corrects that error, the proper response is, “Thank you, I didn’t know that. I stand corrected.”

    —-”I am shocked, shocked I say, to hear that Dr Hunter’s future history might have cracks in the facade.”

    So far, no cracks have been identified. So, I don’t understand your response here.

    —-Nakashima: “Mendel wasn’t an atheist? Faraday wasn’t a metaphysical naturalist? Well, at least they were expelled from the rigid social structure and implictly penalized. Who would have promoted a Mendel, or named a prize or medal after a Faraday!”

    The institutional mechanism for persecution did not appear overnight. If Mendel had been practicing science today, and, if he was equally forthcoming with his views, he would indeed have been expelled from the scientific community. Michael Behe, who has been slandered and disfranchised by that same scientific community, is much less of a “creationist” than Mendel was.

  28. —-Nakashima: “You should have not had any concerns over my existence. As a large ensemble of particles (too large around the middle) my existence is quite definite.”

    Do you hold that as a self-evident truth that can be denied only at the point of absurdity, or do you hold it “provisionally?”

  29. I’ve previously said I reject the concept of “self evident”.

  30. —-”iconofid Dr. Hunter: I’ll take your sentence to mean that the supernatural should be kept out of science because there is no data to support its existence.”

    —-I agree.”

    You are reading something into Dr. Hunter’s words something that he did not say. To follow the data wherever it leads means to follow it wherever it leads. That would include following it to supra-natural (not necessarily supernatural) causes if the evidence suggests it. According to the DOGMA of “methodological naturalism,” the analyst may not follow the evidence if it could lead to that destination.

  31. StephenB

    “To follow the data wherever it leads means to follow it wherever it leads. That would include following it to supra-natural (not necessarily supernatural) causes if the evidence suggests it. According to the DOGMA of “methodological naturalism,” the analyst may not follow the evidence if it could lead to that destination.”

    Exactly. I said that “the supernatural should be kept out of science because there is no data to support its existence”.

    I did not say that it should be kept out as a point of principle.

  32. Mr StephenB,

    John Dalton’s Atomic Theory of Matter must, under your assertion, have metaphysical assumptions. What are they?”

    We have already covered that ground. The assumption is that “nature is all there is,” one of the bitter fruits of the enlightenment. I made this point very explicitly.

    And yet that assumption has served all of the science that has flowed from the Atomic Theory of Matter ever since Dalton. No angels pushing the planets either. No results from Newton’s alchemy either. Why? Suppression of metaphysically contingent results? Or were Newton’s metaphysics wrong?

  33. According to the DOGMA of “methodological naturalism,” the analyst may not follow the evidence if it could lead to that destination.

    Who was the Science Pope when this was published ex cathedra? How far is the false analogy of science and religion going to be pushed?

  34. —-Nakashima: “And yet that assumption has served all of the science that has flowed from the Atomic Theory of Matter ever since Dalton.” [Methodological Naturalism]

    —-Nakashima: “Who was the Science Pope when this was published ex cathedra? [Methodological naturalism]. How far is the false analogy of science and religion going to be pushed?”

    You cannot, on the one hand, reaonably tell me that there is no “rule,” and, on the other hand, tell me that this rule has worked very well.

    So, decide which one of these two conflicting positions that you hold and I will respond to it.

  35. —-Nakashima: “And yet that assumption has served all of the science that has flowed from the Atomic Theory of Matter ever since Dalton.” [Methodological Naturalism]

    You also need to be aware that “methodological naturalism” is only about twenty five years old, so it could not have served science in the way that you claim.

  36. Mr StephenB,

    Why are you sticking tags like [methodological naturalism] on quotations?

    We are discussing the position of Dr Hunter, which is that metaphysical naturalism underlies all science performed since the Enlightenment, and should be called “Evolutionary Thought”. If you dislike the equation of methodological and metaphysical naturalism, and this mislabelling, take it up as I have with Dr Hunter.

    has your DOGMA suddenly become a ‘rule’? Please tell me you’ve given up on the absurdity of trying to paint science as a religion that so obsesses some people.

  37. 37
    Cornelius Hunter

    Folks:

    We are discussing the position of Dr Hunter, which is that metaphysical naturalism underlies all science performed since the Enlightenment, and should be called “Evolutionary Thought”. If you dislike the equation of methodological and metaphysical naturalism, and this mislabelling, take it up as I have with Dr Hunter.

    This is a good case study. Most evolutionists are in denial about their own religious premises. When you point it out they invert your point and set up a strawman to knock down. What we are seeing here is typical.

    Note that skeptics sometimes do the same to evolutionists. The lesson here is to *listen* to what the critic is saying and address it head on, rather than respond to something you would have liked him to say. That is a sign of weakness (which you can see in spades amongst the evolutionists — e.g.: ID is creationism).

  38. Dr Hunter,

    Here is how I’ve read your fantasy:

    evolutionary thought began to emerge in the mid seventeenth century. At that time theologians and philosophers from various traditions strenuously argued that the world must have arisen via strictly naturalistic processes. These schools of thought contributed to what became known as The Enlightenment period in the eighteenth century which marked a major turning point in Western intellectual thought.

    These positions … incorporated these positions… This new theology made strong commitments … this theology mandated … This paradigm later became known as Evolutionary Thought.

    Now it is certainly possible I don’t know how to connect antecedents and relative pronouns in English. It is a complicated language! But it seems to me that you start by establishing the beginnings of “evolutionary Thought” with the beginnings of the Enlightenment (not 1859 for sure!). And then you continue a series of “positions” and “committments” to another restatement of Evolutionary Thought as the “paradigm”.

    So where is the strawman? If you think I’ve misrepresented your argument, say how. Did Evolutionary Thought start in the mid seventeenth century or not? Is all science based on a metaphysical naturalist assumption or not? Is all such science Evolutionary Thought?

  39. —-Nakashima: “We are discussing the position of Dr Hunter, which is that metaphysical naturalism underlies all science performed since the Enlightenment, and should be called “Evolutionary Thought”. If you dislike the equation of methodological and metaphysical naturalism, and this mislabelling, take it up as I have with Dr Hunter.”

    In fact, I don’t disagree with Dr. Hunter at all. Indeed, I would make the point even more forcefully. The only difference between metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism is that the latter world view provides plausible deniability for atheists and atheist sympathizers who would prefer not to show their hand. Otherwise, both approach science in exactly the same way and both facilitate anti-ID partisanship with uncompromising force and reckless disregard for the facts.

    —-Nakashima: has your DOGMA suddenly become a ‘rule’? Please tell me you’ve given up on the absurdity of trying to paint science as a religion that so obsesses some people.”

    Yes, it has. As I pointed out, methodological naturalism was established in the 1980′s. It can hardly be synonymous with science, as you would have it, because prior to that time, while naturalistic bias was certainly presen, as Dr. Hunter makes clear, it had not yet been established as an institutionalized dogma. Consult our FAQ section on methodological naturalism, which I think is covered in questions 17 and 18.

    For my part, I would characterize MN as a dogmatic metaphysical presupposition, but I have no problem with those who describe it as a religion due to its exceedingly dogmatic formulation and its zealous enforcement.

  40. In stating that metaphysical naturalism was established in the 1980′s, I do not mean to suggest that design thinkers were not persecuted up until that time in the name of naturalism. They were. The point is that the persecution intensified over time and finally became codified as official doctrine about twenty five years ago.

  41. 41
    Cornelius Hunter

    Nakashima:

    Here is how I’ve read your fantasy:

    …evolutionary thought began to emerge in the mid seventeenth century. At that time theologians and philosophers from various traditions strenuously argued that the world must have arisen via strictly naturalistic processes. These schools of thought contributed to what became known as The Enlightenment period in the eighteenth century which marked a major turning point in Western intellectual thought.

    These positions … incorporated these positions… This new theology made strong commitments … this theology mandated … This paradigm later became known as Evolutionary Thought.

    Now it is certainly possible I don’t know how to connect antecedents and relative pronouns in English. It is a complicated language! But it seems to me that you start by establishing the beginnings of “evolutionary Thought” with the beginnings of the Enlightenment (not 1859 for sure!). And then you continue a series of “positions” and “committments” to another restatement of Evolutionary Thought as the “paradigm”.

    So where is the strawman? If you think I’ve misrepresented your argument, say how. [...] Is all science based on a metaphysical naturalist assumption or not?

    Where is the strawman? It is here, where you wrote:

    Wow! A fantasy in which methodological naturalism is confused with metaphysical naturalism

    I suggested you reread the essay, but to no avail. So how does one respond to a strawman? I said nothing of metaphysical naturalism, you say I did, and you provide quotes which say nothing of metaphysical naturalism.

    You find a message that is not there.

    Again, this is an excellent example. Evolutionists simply cannot reckon with their religious premises. When those premises are pointed out, evolutionists do not have a category for understanding the criticism. Evolutionists must invert the criticism.

    Nakashima, the quotes you provide above say nothing about metaphysical naturalism. So let’s have a look at what the essay does say:

    At that time theologians and philosophers from various traditions strenuously argued that the world must have arisen via strictly naturalistic processes. [...]

    This new theology made strong commitments in the area of divine intent, action, and interaction with creation. The impact on science was profound as this theology mandated that God’s interactions with the world was to be strictly via secondary causes (i.e., natural laws), and that all of history must be governed solely by such causes. This paradigm later became known as Evolutionary Thought.

    In Evolutionary Thought, science implicitly incorporated these theological and metaphysical commitments. Western, and by now worldwide, thought entered a dark age of anti intellectualism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

    Evolutionary Thought did not start in 1859. Darwin’s religious arguments (and today’s evolutionists’ religious arguments) were developed in the 17th and 18th centuries.

    Why to you conflate this uncontroversial history with metaphysical naturalism?

  42. Dr Hunter,

    It must have been something about those words “the world must have arisen via strictly natural processes”. For some reason they made my mind, small as it is, wander over to metaphysical naturalism.

    So, how is it then? Is there some segment of the scientific enterprise that has not fallen under the sway of metaphysical naturalism, or is there a segment for which metaphysical naturalism is acceptable, but that doesn’t include evolution in your view?

  43. Man, I can’t wait for the rise of methodological supernaturalism.

    Chemists will guide molecular reactions by reciting incantations, biologists will successfully petition the designer to have their fruit flies produce grasshoppers, physicists will observe the effects of colliding angels. It’s going to be awesome.

  44. Lenoxus
    “You say “Mutations… are almost always deleterious and damaging to genetic information”. Depending on the definition of “genetic information”, this could mean a lot of things. I suppose one could argue that all mutations “damage” the genome, even if they help the organism, simply because the genome is different from what it was before. Ultimately, though, evolution is unaffected how “informationally pure” DNA is, so long as the available DNA gets the job done.”

    Read “Genetic Entropy and the mystery of the genome”. Information is gene info which is holding the existing organism together so it can survive. Entropy in this case is order turning into chaos in a system. This doesn’t need to be accepted by modern biology, they can just drift off into oblivion if they don’t want to confront their own findings which only point in ONE direction, entropy. There is no evidence for what’s taught in high school regarding mutations making large changes, so this isn’t exactly a “competing theory”, it’s the only one. Sanford, the author, is one of the top geneticists in the world. The Genome is only losing complex specific information, we see no macro ev, we only see small changes or changes within brackets of larger micro ev.

    The argument I’ll present isn’t complete but only read about the book I didn’t see a copy at the bookstore.

    1. Bad mutations outnumber good 10,000/1.

    2. This 10,000 includes near neutral mutations, formerly thought to be neutral but they now make small changes. This is important because all these bad phenotype changes from near neutral mutations swamp (nullify) good phenotype changes, almost always.

    3. The net effect is you have the near neutral and bad swamping the good mutations, so the good ones never have any real effect.

    4. Keep in mind that most good mutations are so small as to not have any effect on phenotype anyways, so don’t even factor most in, further changing this ratio. Also you’re going to need large complex specific coordinated mutations to make whole new limbs etc., and this isn’t observed.

    5. Some do slip through, see nylonese etc, but as predicted, the nylonese gene duplication frameshift mutation was simply a modification of existing structure.

    6. And so beneficial mutations are fighting against overwhelming forces against them.

    7. So the net effect is any beneficial macro ev will fall apart because the force of good mutations lasting is so weak, given that near silent but bad mutations will last and build up. The whole genome will fall apart is Sanfords conclusion, but I disagree. The genome is programmed it seems so maybe there’s a stop loss.

    Somebody step in and correct me on my interpretation if you want. There’s more to it, and I’m sure I have some points wrong, but the core argument is here I think.

  45. 45
    Cornelius Hunter

    Nakashima:

    So, how is it then? Is there some segment of the scientific enterprise that has not fallen under the sway of metaphysical naturalism, or is there a segment for which metaphysical naturalism is acceptable, but that doesn’t include evolution in your view?

    I’m unaware of any segment of the scientific enterprise that is under the sway of metaphysical naturalism.

  46. 46
    Cornelius Hunter

    Iconifid:

    I can help you with that Lenoxus. The religious premises need to be replaced with scientific ones, like following the data.

    I’ll take your sentence to mean that the supernatural should be kept out of science [...] I agree.

    Not if you are an evolutionist. It is easy to say “I agree.” If you are an evolutionist, then you are waist deep in theological commitment, and not following the data.

  47. 47
    Cornelius Hunter

    Chemists will guide molecular reactions by reciting incantations, biologists will successfully petition the designer to have their fruit flies produce grasshoppers, physicists will observe the effects of colliding angels. It’s going to be awesome.

    This is an example of evolution’s anti intellectualism. But beware, evolutionists don’t corner the market.

  48. Cornelius Hunter:

    If you are an evolutionist, then you are waist deep in theological commitment, and not following the data.

    Really? If I exclude the role of flower fairies in biology (they were thought to tend plants) because there’s no scientific evidence for that role, or for their existence, am I up to my waist in faireology?

    And if not, why not?

    Is it theology on my part that I think lightning is a natural phenomenon with a natural source, and dismiss the lightning god from my science on the basis that there’s no evidence for his role or existence?

    If you’re going to suggest, as I.D. supporters might, that I’m ignoring data that points to intelligent design in biology, then you must remember that I.D. claims to be science, and claims to be able to identify design, but not the designers.

    So, even if there were such evidence, theology is no more relevant to the discussion than fairiology or elfology.

    Or are you suggesting that I.D. is a theological viewpoint?

  49. 49

    Icono,

    What you need to infer is that by using the term “evolutionist” in that context, Hunter was not referring to scientific inferences but the arguments used by “evolutionists” (which I assume to mean dogmatic Darwinists) use against against an ID inference. The key here is that you were debating the role of supernatural vs supra-natural. Well if what you mean by super natural is an explanation which is incredible than that is fine- no supernaturalism in science. The problem is that IDists think it is very credible to infer design even if you cannot find the designer because there is a logical possibility that that designer could exist in a transdimensional reality- or outside of our physical reality. The big bang theory points to an information wave or source that originates all things- where the information comes from is unknown so speculative hypothesis is that intelligence is transcendental.

    Einstein believed there were dimensions beyond the ones you know of- IDists believe intelligence can possible go beyond the dimensions we are aware of. So it is a theory- which is based like all theories on presently acting causes, evidence, reasoning, a hypothesis and some predictions such as those concerning the likely hood of of evolutionary events and of there being much junk DNA.

    Personally I think supernatural is fine to have within science so long as there is evidence. As far as your faeries, where is you evidence of them? IF the evidence is of design then you have evidence of a designer but not what or who that designer is.

    You arguments are off the mark.

  50. 50

    Furthermore, I quote Kant to show the problem with a purely materialist and wholly empirically limited view of scientific inference…

    “in obedience to this advice, intellectual hypotheses and faith would not be called in aid of our practical interests; nor should we introduce them under the pompous titles of science and insight. For speculative cognition cannot find an objective basis any other where than in experience; and, when we overstep its limits our synthesis, which requires ever new cognitions independent of experience, has no substratum of intuition upon which to build.

    But if–as often happens–empiricism, in relation to ideas,
    becomes itself dogmatic and boldly denies that which is above the sphere of its phenomenal cognition, it falls itself into the error of intemperance–an error which is here all the more reprehensible, as thereby the practical interest of reason receives an irreparable injury.

    Ergo, according to Kant you cannot rule out that which you know not of- and if nature points to a designer we may infer just that- not who or what that designer is by that same token- but we can infer and hypothesize that it Is a designer of some being- perhaps as Kant realized a higher being beyond our cognitive abilities.

  51. 51

    So to rule out the supernatural simply because you don’t believe it exists is liken to a theological argument against the existence of God or thereof. Some Darwinists will flat out make the theological argument that there is no God and since God is the super natural aqnd ID is the search for God, ID is not science. This confuses the secular scientific argument of ID with a theological argument or debate. You cant define science with theological premises unless you are willing to debate those premises and parameters. We can go back to the old days if you would like and teach theology in public schools but I think your theological biases might lead you to protest.

  52. Hmm, supernatural forces can help out with this debate any time they please, just by showing themselves… hello? Chi energy? Dionysus? Designer? I’m looking at you…

  53. 53

    If you read the quote my Kant you would realize that just because we cannot congize something does not mean it does not exist and therefore we cannot rule it out. And as logic attends all reasoning we reason that it is possible to have an acting intelligence that can be inferred but the agent of which cannot be empirically seen. If you have evidence (evidence of acting intelligence) supporting such a synthetic inference, you can than correctly hypothesize about it.

  54. Dr Hunter,

    I’m unaware of any segment of the scientific enterprise that is under the sway of metaphysical naturalism.

    Srsly? How can you write as you have about evolution then?

  55. At that time theologians and philosophers from various traditions strenuously argued that the world must have arisen via strictly naturalistic processes.

    This seems to be the prevailing assumption — even among Christians — regarding the age of the earth.

  56. Frost122585

    “Personally I think supernatural is fine to have within science so long as there is evidence. As far as your faeries, where is you evidence of them? IF the evidence is of design then you have evidence of a designer but not what or who that designer is.

    You arguments are off the mark.”

    I said, further up the thread, that the reason to keep the supernatural out of science is that there isn’t any evidence for it. Cornelius Hunter posted something about evolutionists being waist deep in theology. The post you’re replying to was my response to this.

    In what way would I be waist deep in fairiology because I keep fairies out of science because there’s no evidence for their existence (as you seem to agree)?

    You continue, after quoting Kant pointing out that there may well be things the human mind cannot comprehend (something with which I agree):

    Frost:
    So to rule out the supernatural simply because you don’t believe it exists is liken to a theological argument against the existence of God or thereof.

    Which is addressed to me, after I’ve suggested that we should keep the supernatural out of science because there’s no evidence for it, certainly nothing to do with whether any of us choose believe in it or not.

    The reason scientists do not study the anatomy of unicorns is not because of some inbuilt prejudice against them, but because there’s nothing to go on; nothing to study and zero evidence.

    Now, the claim of I.D. seems to be that it has evidence of intelligent design in biology, and therefore indirect evidence of unknown supernatural beings (the nature of the I.D. arguments tend to rule out natural aliens).

    If this were the case, then there would no longer be a reason (lack of evidence) for keeping the supernatural out of science.

    When people like you and Cornelius Hunter imply that “evolutionists” are ignoring the supernatural out of some grand principle or because we are “up to our waists in theology” or that “[ruling] out the supernatural simply because you don’t believe it exists is liken to a theological argument against the existence of God or thereof”, I think you’re mistaken.

    It’s actually because we don’t think you have evidence for intelligent design in biology, and we disagree with the evidence and arguments presented.

    No theology is required.

  57. 57

    No offense Icono but I cant seem to find anyhting intelligible in your last post.

    Obviously you understand that ID is the theory that design can be detected in biology and the cosmos- and that it kind of rules out Aliens (though Francis Crick did not rule them out in biology via a inference from DNA). So it seems that ID might imply a supernatural designer. Ok we good on that. Now for some reason you can seem to understand why I bring up Kant (which whom you intelligently agreed with) showing that we cannot rule out causes that we cannot see (empiricism). Ok fine- so I ahve explained why ID is good sceince as it sceintifically detects design which in turn might imply a supernatural design – but that is ok because as Kant pointed out we can accept posits that we cannot see or fully cognize.

    So my point is your claim that science cannot involve the supernatural is wrong- unless of course there is no evidence for it- as in your examples of mystical creatures. I think you are confusing your own analogy of faeries with the subject matter of the supernatural. You see my argument that supernatural cause can be posted if there is evidence is liken to me saying that faeries could be posited if there was evidence. And I would hold this actual beliefs if there was such evidence which of course I am aware of none in this case. If you were then to say that we need to keep faeries out of science despite whether or not there is evidence then in that case you would be holding a beliefs that trumps reason. That belief is essentially one of faith and hence part of your personal philosophy against faeries. So since Hunter thinks that the evidence of deign in biology is obvious you would then have to use arguments of why faeries cant exist this is a branch of theology called apologetics which is about analytical metaphysical of reason of why God or in your case faeries would or would not be a certain way- or could exist.

    SO the point is Darwinists are going outside of reason and into a realm of argumentation about things like bad design which amount to theological criticisms- such as “why” would the designer build something that falls apart or is not perfect- and theology would answer because original sin caused the evil and degeneracy in the world – etc.

    But your faeries analogy is not perfect because to say they don’t belong is science is different as they are not known to have transcendental infinite abilities- as the designer or God may. It is impossible to rule out a God because he is basically defined as the best of all things- and you cant rule out super naturalism because it is not even a thing but a category of all things great.

    So the analogy is imperfect- you may be doing some lite faeriology and maybe not- it depends on the evidence and the claims – but to infer an ambiguous designer fallows the rules of science while to posit a faerie for which we have know known evidence does not.

    So in the original case it is theology to argue why super naturalism cannot be scientific if one appeals to things like bad design and the “why” arguments about the Designer and Hunter is saying those are the ones we always hear when one rules out super or as he calls it supra-natural causes because we think the evidence is indisputable it is just a matter of fine tuning and improving the theory of ID.

    Darwinists are always neck deep in theology and anti-God flawed reasoning. Certainly God could be behind evolution so why would you rule out a supernatural designer? There is no good reason except for theological beleifes like “God would not have designed this world because it is imperfect.”

    Ultimately we end up debating the evidence and reasoning of ID and its implied supernatural designer- and in the end us IDists are left seeing our opponents reject the theory for theological reasons or unfounded philosophical biases (that probably have closeted theological reasons behind them).

  58. 58

    Icono wrote,

    “The reason scientists do not study the anatomy of unicorns is not because of some inbuilt prejudice against them, but because there’s nothing to go on; nothing to study and zero evidence.”

    ID is not about studying the designer- if it was that would get into the theology and once again it is you and I suppose your side that is bringing in the designer (showing Hunter’s suspicion as you appeal to the God as evidence of why it is not science instead of the evidence used that might imply God) of which you claim there is no evidence for but at the same time agree with the reasoning of Kant that if ID does have evidence of design in biology then the only known designer would be supernatural and it is ok to infer things of which we cannot cognize if we use the evidence to support the reasoning thereof.

    It is prejudice against the Designer though- because unlike Unicorns we have good evidence of the designer.

  59. —-iconofid: “When people like you [Frost] and Cornelius Hunter imply that “evolutionists” are ignoring the supernatural out of some grand principle or because we are “up to our waists in theology” or that “[ruling] out the supernatural simply because you don’t believe it exists is liken to a theological argument against the existence of God or thereof”, I think you’re mistaken.”

    —-Lewontin:

    “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.”

  60. Wow. That’s some serious pwnage.

  61. 61
    Cornelius Hunter

    Iconofid:

    If you are an evolutionist, then you are waist deep in theological commitment, and not following the data.

    Really? If I exclude the role of flower fairies in biology (they were thought to tend plants) because there’s no scientific evidence for that role, or for their existence, am I up to my waist in faireology?

    And if not, why not?

    Hmm, it would be quite a challenge to teach a couple of centuries worth of history of philosophy, theology and science in the comments section of a blog. That I would even need to teach it is a sign of the profound anti intellectualism that rules today.

    Have you read Christian Wolff, Thomas Burnet, Nicolas Malebranche, John Ray, Ralph Cudworth, Leibniz, Hume, Baden Powell, Joseph Le Conte, …? These are a smattering of the men whose shoulders you are standing on.

    Now I’m not saying reading the primary literature from the 17th-19th centuries is absolutely essential. You could rely on the more contemporary evolution literature, it would just be a bit more difficult to see what it going on. In most cases you would be left ignorant of the underlying meaning.

    But either way, you are never going to understand if you are seeking confirmation rather than knowledge, as most evolutionists do.

    Like new converts into Scientology, most evolutionists have no idea what they are into. And they’re beligerent and condescending in their ignorance, and never seriously engage their own movement.

    Instead, evolutionists routinely engage in protectionism. If you are an evolutionist, you need to ask yourself: Am I genuinely open to criticism, or even the possibility of evolution being false? If not, no problem. But at least be honest with yourself (and evolution skeptics you speak with) that you have non negotiable, dogmatic, positions.

    If, on the other hand, you are open to criticism (and feel you have nothing to lose because you’re sure evolution is so empirically compelling), then you should have no problem seriously engaging the criticism. Evolutionists rarely demonstrate such a willingness (actually never in my experience).

    In that case, may I suggest my book Science’s Blind Spot. It isn’t very long. Or, if you want something on the web, you can look at http://www.DarwinsPredictions.com.

  62. No offense Icono but I cant seem to find anyhting intelligible in your last post.

    No offense taken.

    Perhaps one of the reasons for your confusion is that I’m not talking about bad design and some other arguments that evolutionists may make. My point on this thread is simple, and you’re complicating it slightly.

    I say that the supernatural should be kept out of science because there’s no evidence for it, not because of any philosophical or theological principles.

    I thought what I pointed out in the last post was clear. I do not object to I.D. on philosophical grounds, I just don’t think you have any scientific evidence for intelligent design in biology or for supernatural beings of any kind.

    You say:

    So my point is your claim that science cannot involve the supernatural is wrong….

    Which, I repeat, is not my claim. My claim was that the supernatural should be kept out of science because there’s no evidence for it. In other words, if scientific evidence for unicorns, gods or fairies turns up, then we can include them. “Cannot” is your word.

    To sum up, where we probably agree is that beings for whom there’s absolutely no evidence have no place in science. Beings for whom there is evidence can be included.

    Where we disagree is that you seem to think there is scientific evidence for the involvement of supernatural beings in this world, and I don’t.

    Supposedly, then, we’re having a scientific disagreement, not a theological one.

    Here you say:

    So the analogy is imperfect- you may be doing some lite faeriology and maybe not- it depends on the evidence and the claims – but to infer an ambiguous designer fallows the rules of science while to posit a faerie for which we have know known evidence does not.

    Both ambiguous designers and fairies are on the same status in relation to science; fine if you have evidence for them, keep them out if you don’t.

    Has it occurred to you that one of the problems with ambiguous designers is that the evidence for them would also be ambiguous. We wouldn’t know if they preferred rocks to slugs, or bacteria to diamonds, what they would want to design or how.

    Don’t claim that that’s theology, because ambiguous designers doesn’t mean gods.

    The I.D. movement must get used to people speculating about the designers. Science will not suggest a major mechanism for biology without investigating it.

    An interesting thing to me about your intelligent designers of life on this planet is that they design on the kind of time scale that naturalistic evolution would require, and they always keep within the parameters of evolutionary possibility. From this, I would infer that they must be actively trying to conceal themselves, and to give everything a natural look.

    They’ve certainly fooled tens of thousands of biologists.

    That speculation is not theology, unless I.D. is religion, and rules out supernatural non-gods (which you, Frost, as a fan of Kant, certainly shouldn’t do).

  63. lamarck: thanks for stepping in there. I think you summed it up pretty well.

    Lenoxus:

    “Man, I can’t wait for the rise of methodological supernaturalism. “

    How much more patently absurd can you get?

    “If I wanted, I could describe the laws of physics as “information” or “code””

    Actually no you could not. Demonstrates that you need to understand what coded information is. The laws of physics are not coded information.

    “Until “design” becomes a specific, observable, mechanical phenomenon, calling something “designed” seems no different scientifically than calling it .pretty’.”

    So calling an automobile designed is the same as calling it pretty?
    You need to take time to think before responding.
    Also, design detection is already a widely used method in sciences. You’re using it here to read these posts. Mechanical phenomena? Well in that case ever heard of statistical mechanics? Look it up. It applies well to the mechanical systems in the genome.

    “I’m afraid that the concept has yet to enter mainstream biology even slightly, however. There simply is no evidence that “genetic information” (however we want to define that) experiences some measurable rate of “entropy” over time.”

    So you’re saying biologists have discovered the one and only physical system in the known universe that does not experience entropy? Good luck on that. :-(

    “Ultimately, though, evolution is unaffected how “informationally pure” DNA is, so long as the available DNA gets the job done.”

    No. Evolution IS mutations. Mutations are changes of information. Like making random changes to a sentence changes or adds noise to the meaning.

    Ex.
    The dog ran out the door. – Mutated might become:
    Teh ogd ran out her tood.
    Really helps communicating the meaning eh? Well genetic info is no different. Genetic info is instructions.
    Change the instructions and you change the results. Keep changing results and you end up getting gibberish instead of viable proteins for ex. See? Most mutations are near neutral. The inheritable ones accumulate over time – sooner or later that gives an important net loss of information. You have genetic entropy and deleterious mutations in the end.

    “I’m now curious what you make of the old evolutionary concept of “selection”. Why, despite all evidence to the contrary, do you think it is actually powerless to filter out those harmful mutations?”

    Not what I said. The great majority of mutations aren’t even visible to selection. The ‘visible’ to selection bad ones will indeed tend to be weeded out. The ‘visible’ to selection good ones will tend to remain – if they survive against the much greater quantity of bad ones. Given enough bad ones plus 1 good one, selection will actually eliminate the good with the bad. That is obvious.

    The overall net result is not evolution towards more fitness and new organs but devolution towards less fitness and loss of function.

    The things that cause so many diseases are also the things that make new body plans and organs…?

    “Yes, and the substance that we all drink to live can also make us drown.”

    A very bad analogy indeed, not to mention it misses the point entirely.
    That’s like saying that poisonous food is good even though it can kill you.

  64. 64

    Icono,

    I hear you. You are saying there is no evidence “for” the supernatural designer. I say there is. I say because the design is so apparent and the comos so complex the designer must be super natural and the evidence is reveal by ID. This to me is science because we are still dealing with the natural (super) not the non-natural- and if you look at how powerful the designer would have to be- Alien or not- they would most likely be super natural.

    Now you make a faulty move in your logic. You say you are fine with ID inferring super natural design but that if the designer is “super natural” and we have no evidence “of it” (as in the actual designer) then it is off limits. But you already said ID can appeal to the super natural if the designer of ID most likely is thus. So you have contradicted yourself philosophically. You realized this later on by changing the allowance of science to appeal to a super natural designer and changed it to philosophy

    The reason why is because you have a poor philosophical grasp of “apperception” which is the objective synthesis of experience and perception. Thus you perceive no evidence “of” the super natural being, yes, but there is evidence “for” it- meaning we infer to it- Thus our experience reveals there is evidence in ID for a super natural designer- though maybe not “of” it-

    But even this is tentative and speculative, as we really know not what the designer is at all, it could be a natural law like intelligence built into the nature which if it is we would have evidence “of” it and “for” it because it is everywhere around us.

    I think you realized your contradiction mid post in post 62-

    post #62

    ” (Frost)”So my point is your claim that science cannot involve the supernatural is wrong….”

    (Icono) “Which, I repeat, is not my claim.”

    “I do not object to I.D. on philosophical grounds,..”

    as your being ok with ID as science and inferring to the supernatural (which is perfectly philosophically sound and hence from a philosophy of science stand point makes it legitimate as science) but yet not ok with the super natural being science unless you have evidence “of” that super natural entity.

    So to dismiss the super natural out of science simply because we don’t have evidence “of” it is philosophically unsound and invalid due to the contradiction in reasoning. And since you admit- as shewn by my Kant example- that inferring to a super natural explanation is scientifically ok so long as there is evidence “for” it, that is warranting that inference- (that is a synthetic inference as we both know evidence “of” it would be an analytic one).

    You cant appeal to either a sound and valid scientific reason nor a philosophical one for your dissent.

    Which leaves you with the only option of justifying your rejection of the supernatural in science which is trying a theological argument.

    Ergo, Hunter was right behind the objection is theological bias.

  65. Hi Frost,

    You said recently:

    “I hear you. You are saying there is no evidence “for” the supernatural designer. I say there is. I say because the design is so apparent and the comos so complex the designer must be super natural and the evidence is reveal by ID. This to me is science …”

    I suspect that confusion will arise because of your notion of what is science. Most scientists, when they call something science or scientific, are referring to ideas or hypotheses that are supported by the positive results of controlled and repeatable experiments. The evidence that you speak of does not flow from controlled study nor from repeatable experimentation.

    (“Controlled study” means studies that include valid positive and negative controls.)

  66. Frost

    but yet not ok with the super natural being science unless you have evidence “of” that super natural entity.

    If there was a supernatural entity interfering in this world, and you found scientific evidence for this, that would be evidence of that entity.

    You’re still getting me wrong. I have no objections to anything for which there is evidence being part of science. Those are your words in italics above, not mine.

    Where we differ has nothing to do with philosophy or theology. It is on evidence. I repeat that the reason to keep the supernatural out of science is that there is no scientific evidence that such a thing exists. Find some, and we can bring it in. There are no principles involved. It’s simple.

    So, do I make myself clear? My objections to I.D. are technical. They are that you have found no positive evidence for intelligent design in biology.

    I’ve certainly no objection to you looking for it!

  67. Stephen B. quotes:

    —-Lewontin:

    “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.”,

    Stephen, I’m not Richard Lewontin. If I rubbed a lamp, a cloud of green smoke emerged and formed into a genii and it offered me three impossible wishes which came true, I would not feel any obligation to look for a material explanation.

    I’m in agreement with I.D.ers that if there’s evidence for supernatural interference in this world, then the supernatural can be part of science.

    So far, there isn’t any IMO! That’s where we differ, presumably.

  68. I see Mr Iconofid has beaten me to the response.

    Lewontin’s remark appears in a review of Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World, in the NY Review of Books in 1997. He isn’t Science Pope, and NYRB is not Scripture, at least not outside of the 212 area code. I wonder if anyone has the google-fu to find the letters in response, it would be interesting to see if Francis Collins or any other dissenters from undiluted naturalism chimed in.

    Well, my google-fu was sufficient, here it is, the responses, and Lewontin’s response. Only one response touches on the “Divine Foot” point.

  69. Cornelius Hunter says:

    In most cases you would be left ignorant of the underlying meaning.,

    You could, perhaps, give us a summary of that underlying meaning. Do you think that there is “underlying meaning” to all scientific theories? Tectonic plate theory, for example?

    But either way, you are never going to understand if you are seeking confirmation rather than knowledge, as most evolutionists do.

    Ah, the confirmation bias of evolutionists. Tell me, have you considered the possibility that your view of evolutionists suffering from confirmation bias could itself be the product of confirmation bias? I’d guess, as a thoughtful person, you have.

    Like new converts into Scientology, most evolutionists have no idea what they are into. And they’re beligerent and condescending in their ignorance, and never seriously engage their own movement.

    Movement?

    Instead, evolutionists routinely engage in protectionism. If you are an evolutionist, you need to ask yourself: Am I genuinely open to criticism, or even the possibility of evolution being false? If not, no problem. But at least be honest with yourself (and evolution skeptics you speak with) that you have non negotiable, dogmatic, positions.

    If, on the other hand, you are open to criticism (and feel you have nothing to lose because you’re sure evolution is so empirically compelling), then you should have no problem seriously engaging the criticism. Evolutionists rarely demonstrate such a willingness (actually never in my experience).

    Well, let’s look at where the criticism comes from. In the first post I made in this thread, I quoted someone heralding the demise of “Darwinism” in 1904. We could find hundreds, probably thousands of books and articles in the same vein, including your little piece that started this thread, with the future historians noting the early 21st century demise. No scientific theory has ever been attacked in anything like this way.

    Now, Cornelius, why do you think this is? Why do so many people get upset by a naturalistic theory of the origin of species, including, most importantly, our own species? Could there be an emotional base to all this, do you think? Or is it my confirmation bias that suggests that to me?

    In that case, may I suggest my book Science’s Blind Spot. It isn’t very long. Or, if you want something on the web, you can look at [website].

    I’ll certainly have a look at your website, in the hope of finding something interesting about this “movement” I’m part of. Cheers.

  70. Dr Hunter,

    Like new converts into Scientology, most evolutionists have no idea what they are into. And they’re beligerent and condescending in their ignorance, and never seriously engage their own movement.

    While I understand what you’re saying, I think comparing evolutionists to Scientologists might be unfair. Scientology is a business created by a second-rate, drug-addled science fiction writer, and to any reasonable person it’s clearly nonsense. It would be more correct to compare evolutionism to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (not the LDS proper), or perhaps Moon’s Unification Church. These faiths, while obviously profoundly in error, at least have roots in Scriptural truth, and one can understand how a reasonable person could be drawn into them.

  71. —”Stephen, I’m not Richard Lewontin. If I rubbed a lamp, a cloud of green smoke emerged and formed into a genii and it offered me three impossible wishes which came true, I would not feel any obligation to look for a material explanation.”

    I am talking about the heavy hitters who actually have the intsitutional power to persecute ID scientist in the academy. If you are not that, then more power to you. But your were defending “evolutionists” in general and most of them hold to the philosophy in the quote that I offered to you. So, you need to decide whether you are going to speak about “evolutioninists,” in general, or whether you are going to list yourself as an exception to the rule after I refute your comments about the rule.

    —-”I’m in agreement with I.D.ers that if there’s evidence for supernatural interference in this world, then the supernatural can be part of science.”

    Again that would make you an exception to the rule. So, you need to explain that you are speaking only for yourself, not for “evolutionists,” since most evolutionists, especially those in the academy to not agree with you, holding the position of “methodological naturalism,” which, according to your comments, you disavow.

  72. —-Nakashima: “Lewontin’s remark appears in a review of Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World, in the NY Review of Books in 1997. He isn’t Science Pope, and NYRB is not Scripture, at least not outside of the 212 area code. I wonder if anyone has the google-fu to find the letters in response, it would be interesting to see if Francis Collins or any other dissenters from undiluted naturalism chimed in.”

    All of these scientists that you allude to subscribe to “methodological naturalism,” which restricts science to a searcch for “natural causes.” That was Lewontin’s point. Earlier, I alerted you to the FAQ, which explains methodological naturalism. Did you follow up on this matter?

  73. Mr StephenB,

    Yes, in the spirit of fair discussion (since I have asked others to read material also), I read 17, 18, and 19. I also looked in on the Wiki page.

  74. I said:

    —-”I’m in agreement with I.D.ers that if there’s evidence for supernatural interference in this world, then the supernatural can be part of science.”

    StephenB says:

    Again that would make you an exception to the rule. So, you need to explain that you are speaking only for yourself, not for “evolutionists,” since most evolutionists, especially those in the academy to not agree with you, holding the position of “methodological naturalism,” which, according to your comments, you disavow.

    I did say “I” in the sentence above, although you’re right that I may have used a misplaced “we” in a post further up.

    I’m all for doing methodological naturalism. It works! As there’s no evidence for the supernatural, there’s nothing else to do. Where I differ from those who state that science must be methodological naturalism is that, as in my genii example, if scientific evidence of the supernatural having any effect on our world crops up, we would have to include it. It would be pointless applying methodological naturalism to the formation of the moon if we find out that there’s a moon goddess who makes such things!

    So, science should be methodological naturalism unless positive evidence for the supernatural is found.

    IMO, it won’t be found, but good luck trying!

  75. —iconofid: “I’m all for doing methodological naturalism. It works! As there’s no evidence for the supernatural, there’s nothing else to do. Where I differ from those who state that science must be methodological naturalism is that, as in my genii example, if scientific evidence of the supernatural having any effect on our world crops up, we would have to include it. It would be pointless applying methodological naturalism to the formation of the moon if we find out that there’s a moon goddess who makes such things!”

    Well, then, either you do not know what methodological naturalism is [consult the FAQ #s 17, 18, 19,] or else you are changing your answers in mid flight to avoid refutation. MN does not permit the acceptance of anything other than natural causes and will not accept evidence that could lead to such a conclusion

    Also, either you are not familiar with basic intelligent design, which searches for “agency” in the context of law and chance [rather that "supernatural" in the context of [natural]) or else you are consciously misrepresenting the ID paradigm.

  76. 76
    Cornelius Hunter

    Iconofid:

    Ah, the confirmation bias of evolutionists. Tell me, have you considered the possibility that your view of evolutionists suffering from confirmation bias could itself be the product of confirmation bias? I’d guess, as a thoughtful person, you have.

    Yes I have Iconofid. It’s funny you should mention that because my bias was, if anything, for evolution and evolutionists, not against. When I investigated the evolution-is-fact claim, my goal was to understand the evidence and argument, not oppose it. I certainly had no incentive to oppose evolution.

    I had nothing against the theory. I understood the evolutionary claims about it being a fact, and I was curious about the evidence. I assumed it was there, and that I merely was unfamiliar with it. On the other hand, I was open minded and I wasn’t going to buy phony arguments.

    When I read the evolution literature, and talked with evolutionists, I consistently found failure in backing up the claim — the scientific evidence could not establish such a fact.

    Nonetheless, evolutionists consistently argue that is as much a fact as is gravity, and that all the evidence supports evolution and there are not contradictory evidences. It is a remarkable example of confirmation bias.

  77. iconofid

    Just a quick question. What would you consider to be good biological evidence for the existence of a supernatural realm?

  78. vjtorley

    iconofid

    Just a quick question. What would you consider to be good biological evidence for the existence of a supernatural realm?

    And a very good question. When you read critics of evolutionary theory, think of the evidential demands that they make. You’ll see that their demands are very high.

    Considering that level, it appears that direct observation of small scale evolution by mutation and selection combined with an ever growing number of fossils that illustrate transitional form combined with the molecular evidence for common descent etc. etc. still leaves the critics saying things like “evolution is a fairytale”.

    So, having set such standards, if we witnessed an angel coming to earth and practising some genetic manipulation on one species or another, evolutionists would be perfectly justified in saying “O.K., design happens, but that’s just micro-design; you have no evidence for macro-design.”

    In other words, I.D.ers and creationists will never meet their own standards, but personally, I’m liberal, and I’d be happy to infer past angel interference from direct evidence of present angel interference.

    What about you?

  79. Nakashima-San:

    Have you considered that the letters column of a magazine or newspaper is a much-winnowed, editor-controlled (thus, easily agenda-driven . . . “ignorant and stupid fundies etc need not apply . . . “) context?

    GEM of TKI

    PS: My note here may be of help on understanding more of Lewontin’s context and that of his fellow members of the US Academy of Science etc, thus the current state of C20-21 science; and, why many of us therefore think “there is something rotten in the state of Denmark,” and it’s not the fish.

  80. StephenB.

    Well, then, either you do not know what methodological naturalism is [consult the FAQ #s 17, 18, 19,] or else you are changing your answers in mid flight to avoid refutation. MN does not permit the acceptance of anything other than natural causes and will not accept evidence that could lead to such a conclusion

    I agree that what I’m saying could sound confusing. Firstly, science is methodological naturalism at the moment, because observation and experience has shown that when we do successfully explain phenomena, the explanations have always been natural, so “natural” is the evidence based default. However, that definition of science is not eternal, and if we want science to be the study of reality, then we could give it that definition as well, and consider that definition as one that would override all others if there was conflict.

    Strong positive evidence for supernatural interference in the processes of the universe would overthrow the methodological naturalism “sub-definition”, and we would be back to the days of Newton, who had his god nudging planets into place.

    So yes, methodological naturalism disallows the supernatural, but it is not necessarily an eternal definition of science and the study of reality, and could be removed.

    It would require strong direct evidence, though, for the very reason that MN has been put in place. Our species has a long and well documented record of inventing false supernatural explanations for things, which is why the current prejudice against the supernatural is based on observation and experience, not philosophy or theology.

    We are not, however, bound to MN in the way that Lewontin seems to imply. Like everything else, it should be ultimately subservient to observation.

    Also, either you are not familiar with basic intelligent design, which searches for “agency” in the context of law and chance [rather that "supernatural" in the context of [natural]) or else you are consciously misrepresenting the ID paradigm.

    You’d have to admit that one could easily become confused reading the posts of I.D. enthusiasts on this blog into thinking that the two definitions nearly interchangeable.

  81. Sorry. First paragraph above should be in italics, as its StephenB.

  82. Icon:

    Sorry, but the turnabout objection attempt just above will not work.

    1 –> We observe intelligent designers all the time, and the artifacts they produce. (Indeed, we experience being such . . . we know from inside what it is to be a designer.)

    2 –> Moreover, we see in those artifacts, [a] characteristic and reliable empirical signs of intelligence — of purposefully directed contingency — that are discernible from [b] the low contingency produced by mechanical necessity and [c] from the stochastic contingency produced by chance.

    3 –> We therefore have good inductive — specifically inference to best explanation — grounds to distinguish the natural/spontaneous [= chance + necessity] from the ART-ificial or intelligent [= purposeful contingency, often manifested in otherwise hard to achieve complex function depending on significant quantities of information].

    4 –> Circumstantial details may help us find which of the possible candidates may have been responsible for a given instance of design, as we routinely do in courtrooms, management and even in many fields of applied sciences.

    5 –> And since we have signs of intelligence, which we have reason to believe are reliable, we have as good grounds as any to reason from such signs to intelligent actors as being responsible; even in cases where such signs — under the circumstances — may point not just within the observed cosmos, but beyond it. (In the later cases we wold be justified in inferring on empirical evidence not just to ART not nature, but even to that the ART being caused by that which is beyond the observed cosmos, i.e “supernatural.”)

    6 –> By utter contrast, worldview level question-begging redefinitions of science driven by methodological naturalism — like “Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations of the world around us” — directly censor out the possibility of inferring beyond the circle prescribed by philosophical materialism. So, they censor science form being an empirically controlled search for the truth about our universe, to being a stalking horse for materialism.

    7 –> And, that question-begging imposes the real selective hyperskepticism problem in modern origins science.

    [FYI, to refute the ID contention, all you need to do is provide a good case where functioanlly specific complex information has credibly arisen spontaneously out of noise plus mechanical necessity, e.g. get an old fashioned floppy and spew noise across it repeatedly using a Zener noise circuit and check for fiunctional information. If you can get a coherent document of 1,000 bits capacity or more under appropriately controlled and audited circumstances, ID is finished. In fact, for years, I have put up the challenge to try to do so with a million retired PC's; which should be well within the reach of current science and even of the Internet anti-ID movement. Want to take it up? (Hint: cf how floppies are erased, and do a little math on the configuration space of 1,000 bits vs the search resources of the observed universe. Notice, observed life systems run into a threshold of minimal complexity at about 300,000 4-state DNA elements, i.e. about 600,000 bits. {For the math challenged: 1,000 bits specifies a config space of ~ 10^301 cells, and 600 k bits, one of 9.9 * 10^180,617. Our observed universe of about 10^80 atoms can credibly go through 10^150 or so states across its thermodynamically plausible lifespan. The core ID challenge to current evolutionary materilaist origins science, in short, is not on whether it is possible to hill-climb by cumulative selection to the peaks of Mt Improbable, but to FIRST get to the shores of the Isles of Function in The Sea of Non-Function. And, rewarding mere proximity to desired function is cheating.}) ]

    GEM of TKI

  83. PS: And, Icon, that imposition of censorship from being an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) search for the truth about our world based on empirical evidence and reasoned analysis, is what is wrong with current, methodological naturalism dominated science.

  84. kairosfocus:

    1 –> We observe intelligent designers all the time, and the artifacts they produce. (Indeed, we experience being such . . . we know from inside what it is to be a designer.)

    Yes indeed, we observe intelligent designers all the time. And every single designer we observe has “FSCI”, however you define it, as a prerequisite. And each human designer is individually unique, and therefore demonstrates that new information can arise without the intervention of external intelligent designers.

    And when we observe the fossil record, the simplest of nervous systems appear first, and brains increase in size and complexity as time goes on, until we find the large brained modern mammals.

    So, observation, which you’re keen on, indicates that it takes a long and complicated evolutionary process to produce intelligent designers.

    We have absolutely no evidence to suggest that intelligence could exist without such processes.

    We have lots of evidence of the human tendency to invent non-existent intelligent beings. (Think of all the gods of all the religions, ancient and modern, that you do not believe in, and you’ll have to agree with me there).

    By utter contrast, worldview level question-begging redefinitions of science driven by methodological naturalism — like “Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations of the world around us” — directly censor out the possibility of inferring beyond the circle prescribed by philosophical materialism. So, they censor science form being an empirically controlled search for the truth about our universe, to being a stalking horse for materialism.

    I’ve explained the reason for the prejudice against supernaturalism in a post above, and it relates to my point above. It is based on observation and experience, not some grand philosophy.

  85. 85

    Icono, I have read all that you have written and I have no idea why you are rejecting the supernatural because of lack of evidence as you admitted that the logic can support such and that the designer of ID very much can be super natural.

    You have said that science can infer the supernatural if the evidence supports it.

    You are clearly holding a contradiction in your logic. And since we agree philosophically and scientifically I am calling you out and saying your objection is most likely theological. You have not shown us your cards and why you persist in logical contradiction on this issue. I suspect that it is because you don’t want us to know why you object to a supernatural inference here- and if I am misunderstanding you further, please explicitly explain what you are contending -

    If it is merely this claim that theology is not the reason – then explain how you reach your objection without theological means of argumentation.

  86. 86

    Plus you just said again,

    “I’ve explained the reason for the prejudice against supernaturalism in a post above, and it relates to my point above. It is based on observation and experience, not some grand philosophy.”

    Hare you merely tried to ignore my Kant example again by agreeing with (as it is true) and then going right back to your objection which violates it’s rule. That is a logical contradiction because if science infers the supernatural via good evidence we must accept it as good scientific knowledge and reason. I have explained that a designer powerful enough to design the cosmos would be super- or supranatural depending on how one defines the two terms. And yes the supernatural in this case would be a part of science as it attaches to empiricism via induction to the inference based on the markers of overwhelming empirical evidence.

    And our apperception reveals this. And i think you are not understanding the mode and role that apperception plays in real investigation, reasoning and understanding, all of the scientific persuasion.

  87. iconofid:

    And when we observe the fossil record, the simplest of nervous systems appear first, and brains increase in size and complexity as time goes on, until we find the large brained modern mammals.

    And yet there isn’t any genetic data that demonstrates such changes are even possible.

    So while you are mesmerized by the fossils you don’t have any genetic data to support your claims.

  88. And iconofid:

    If you want to falsify ID all YOU have to do is to actually support YOUR position with real scientific data.

  89. Mr Kairosfocus,

    Yes, I am sure the letters of NYRB are quite selective in what they publish. I was disappointed that most of the letters published focused on other areas of Dr lewontin’s review. Even the one letter which touched on that sentence we have been discussing took a very odd approach by purposefully misunderstanding ‘matter’ as ‘mass’, rather than ‘subject’ or ‘problem’.

    But you do quote one of Lewontin’s next sentences in your FAQ, ne? Something to the effect that if we let an omnipotent God into science how can we trust any observation?

    I think what is in the mind of most bench scientists is not this concern, though rather than arguing about it, someone should just commission a survey. I think it is more like an Occam’s Razor argument – I don’t need that explanation (yet).

  90. Icon:

    Lamentably, you distracted yourself, going off on an irrelevant tangent instead of addressing the actual issue laid out in steps before you.

    Second, that humans have FSCI would only suggest that — similar to the obvious fact that we begin to exist and so are contingent (so, caused) beings — that we, too (from DNA up) exhibit characteristics that are known per reliable signs of intelligence to be signs of design. That is, on the evidence of our DNA etc, we are best explained as the direct or indirect results of design.

    Extending, from first plausible life, we have DNA of at least 600 k bits, so life is credibly designed — indeed it reflects language, code, algorithms and other known artifacts of information systems design.

    Worse, there is no good evidence that chance + necessity can spontaneously originate novel major, embryologically feasible body plans [cf. the issues over the Cambrian fossil strata, e.g. here], which require DNA increments of some 10′s – 100′s of MILLIONS of bits before we can get TO a functional organism of novel body plan.

    So, your claimed increased complexity across time sequence is also irrelevant, as increased complexity across time is a known phenomenon of technological — designed — evolution. [Observe, the body plan of aircraft goes back to the 1800's, but much complexification has gone on since it was made a practical technology in 1903. But, we rightly recognise that the crucial departure was what happened when a truly functional airplane was first built. And, we observe4t ha the many homologies amidst broad diversity and even diversification (complete with mass extinctions and minor survivals) were the product of: intelligent designs.]

    Finally, what you have had in front of you is an empirically anchored observation that there are reliable signs of design. That says nothing by itself about the ultimate nature of designers, including whether they must be physically complex entities or not. (And indeed, we have excellent reason — on examining the human body (including the brain) as a cybernetic system — to apply the empirically well-justified observation that the intelligence in a cybernetic system is not explained within the system, but on the system architecture so instantiated by the designer.)

    In short, you have been begging a few questions that you and the evolutionary materialist establishment need to address without imposing worldview level censorship on possible best explanations.

    GEM of TKI

  91. Nakashima-San:

    That next sentence is the very one that most directly reveals Mr Lewontin’s lamentable ignorance of the history of ideas origins of modern science:

    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. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

    But in fact, the very term laws of nature” reflects that the vision of the founders, e.g. Newton, was that the world is created and sustained by an orderly God, so that we expect to see general orderliness. Excerpting the just linked General Scholium to the Principia:

    . . . This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems . . . . We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause [i.e from his designs and their evident purposes] . . . Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. [i.e necessity does not produce contingency] All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing.

    And, indeed, in that context, for miracles to stand out as signposts beyond the natural world, they would have to be juxtaposed to a predictable general order of the world. A generally lawlike and orderly cosmos is a PREDICTION/ EXPECTATION of theism. (Mr Lewontin and the authority he cites confuse certain forms of animism or polytheism with theism.)

    GEM of TKI

  92. 92

    and Icono I realized another flaw in your logic,

    “If there was a supernatural entity interfering in this world, and you found scientific evidence for this, that would be evidence of that entity.”

    No. That for be evidence “for” that supernatural entity. We would not be able to see it- or have actual remants of it’s object- in other words we have evidence of it’s actions and that is all ID claims to infer. ID infers intelligent design via the effects of intelligent action. It does not infer what that intelligence is. That is a secondary question not within ID. So if you have great faith in God we may take it as evidence “of” God because you already have an ariori bias- but if you are being logically objective all you know is that an intelligece is most likely acting and therefore existent.

    So you have evidence “for” the case that an intelligent agent is there- at which point you need to compare that inference against against other modes of synthetic reasoning (theology is one) to determine if it is a true intelligence and what it may be. We cant have evidence of something that we know not what it is. ID gives evidence of “acting intelligence” ad that is it. TO infer it to be supernatural is also a secondary inference.

    So we don’t have evidence “of” this supernatural entity- we don’t have it’s glove or hand or DNA- we have a picture painted by some undefined supernatural entity and this is evidence “for” it’s existence. And that is as far as ID goes.

    If you are a Christian you may appeal to theology to answer how we know this intelligence exists for sure- or how we know “of” it’s nature. You might say my evidence of God or the designer is it acting within my spirit- that one can feel God working though them. This is not being claimed as empirical science and not a part of the theory of ID. it is incidentally beginning to step into theology though.

    But as Kant showed we need not have evidence “of” something to make a synthetic judgment of what it may be or most likely is. The discovery of DNA was not based on evidence “of” it but for it. Through putting together the clues of it’s structure Crick and Watson came up with a synthetically designed model of what is probably is. No one was looking at DNA and then deciding what it is. They synthetically reasoned to something that they could not see. Now ID may be a different case because maybe the designer i this case is non-material. But you cannot limit science to materialism because that results in an illogical apriori bias to methodological materialism.

    Intelligence is in fact a natural presently acting force within nature that we know not what it’s origin is-even going back to the beginning of time. If it is involved in the creation and design of the universe you may very well infer it to be supernatural though.

    If you seek evidence “of” God or the designer of the cosmos, you must have faith in it’s existence and possible non-material existence and then seek through acts of faith and within theology. If however you merely seek evidence “for” the designer’s existence you need only to look a little deeper into biology or cosmology and in fact more generally all around you.

    Anyone can reject the existence of something they cannot see just by avoiding reasoning. It is in the reasoning that the existence of the design becomes more apparent for many.

    This points to the idea that the objection to supernatural causes inferred by ID is not of a scientific or philosophical nature but most likely results in a theological objection.

  93. iconofid

    You wrote:

    So, having set such standards, if we witnessed an angel coming to earth and practising some genetic manipulation on one species or another, evolutionists would be perfectly justified in saying “O.K., design happens, but that’s just micro-design; you have no evidence for macro-design.”

    In other words, I.D.ers and creationists will never meet their own standards, but personally, I’m liberal, and I’d be happy to infer past angel interference from direct evidence of present angel interference.

    I can see that you’re trying to be fair-minded and generous. However, I have to say in all honesty that I think your standards of evidence are unreasonably high. Here’s why.

    The entities we’re talking about here are supernatural entities – i.e. non-physical entities.

    Now let’s have a look at your wording: “if we witnessed an angel coming to earth and practising some genetic manipulation on one species or another…”

    Why on earth should we be able to witness an angel doing anything? An angel doesn’t have a body. If it did, it wouldn’t be supernatural. It would belong in the same category as aliens (assuming they exist): super-human, physical intelligences.

    Now, to be sure, there are Biblical accounts of angels appearing to people, but these “apparitions” (however they occur) only take place if the angel wishes to manifest itself to people. But in many cases, an angel will not wish to be observed, so it will carry out its work invisibly.

    When you write that you would have to see an angel coming to earth and manipulating an organism’s genes before you’d believe in supernatural design, what you’re really saying is that no purely biological evidence would convince you of the existence of angels or other supernatural beings; you would have to see them before you could believe in their existence.

    Kairosfocus has already highlighted another way of inferring the intervention of disembodied beings in the history of life. It has to do with solving math problems.

    Embodied beings face built-in constraints as regards the kinds of math problems they can solve; disembodied beings do not. If we can find with the genes of organisms the solution to a math problem that no alien could have possibly solved, even with the aid of the best possible super-duper cosmic computers, then it would be reasonable to infer that a disembodied intelligence must have figured out the solution.

    It is the contention of many I.D. proponents that the DNA, RNA and and proteins of terrestrial organisms does indeed instantiate successful and very efficient (perhaps optimal?) solutions to problems which could never have been solved computationally during the short history (1.373 x 10^10 years) of the cosmos, whether with or without the help of natural selection. Protein folding is one example; the coding in our DNA is another.

    Not being a scientist myself, I won’t try to give you the technical details, but I will make two points.

    First, DNA is a bona fide code. Contrary to your suggestion in an earlier post, the laws of physics are not a code. The term “code” has a fairly rigorous definition. If you’d like a well-argued defense of the proposition that DNA is indeed a code and that it is therefore the product of a designer, who is also capable of solving very difficult mathematical problems, then I suggest you check out these links:

    http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/iidb.htm (article by Perry Marshall)

    http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/dnanotcode.htm

    http://www.cosmicfingerprints......ngcode.htm

    http://www.evoinfo.org/Publica.....fo_NoN.pdf (article by William Dembski)

    http://marksmannet.com/RobertM.....rt/CoS.pdf (article by William Dembski)

    http://creation.com/images/pdf.....11-117.pdf (article by Alex Williams)

    http://creation.com/astonishin.....ity-update (article by Alex Williams).

    Second, it has become apparent that the sophistication of the coding in our DNA goes far beyond anything that human beings could have come up with. (Alex Williams’ articles above illustrate this point very well.) By itself, this does not establish a supernatural designer; but it certainly makes the existence of one more plausible.

  94. Mr Vjtorley,

    Codes are actually pretty common in biology. Your retina is an example. There is a mapping between data encoded as photons and data encoded as electrical signals. The job of implementing the mapping, which tRNA molecules do for the genetic code, is done by the cells in your retina.

    By looking at a different code (which is taken by some as marvellous evidence of design) we can see (sorry, no pun intended!) that codes can evolve, there can be variation, etc. This is harder to see in the case of the genetic code, since it is older, and operates at a different scale.

    In general, it is dangerous to argue from a position of “what humans can’t do”. You don’t have to buy into Kurzweil’s Singularity powerpoint slide to know that our understanding and technology are changing rapidly. I’ve been waiting to see how UD will discuss the insertion of human FoxP2 into the mouse genome. That is a good example of what humans are now capable of.

  95. Mr. Nakashima

    I believe your comments on coding in the retina are satisfactorily addressed by Perry Marshall in the following link:

    http://www.cosmicfingerprints......ngcode.htm

    As Marshall points out, the occurrence of additional codes in an organism still presupposes the existence of DNA, without which the structures instantiating these codes could never be formed during the organism’s embryonic development. Even if the retina encodes information, we still need to explain where it comes from, and to do that, we need to account for the DNA coding which generates it in animal embryos.

    It is one thing to point out that the retina varies considerably between different organisms, as well as changing over the course of time; it is quite another thing to establish that it could have originated by purely natural processes. The problem is certainly a formidable one, as can be seen from these links:

    http://www.ac18.org/research/O.....idence.htm and http://www.detectingdesign.com/humaneye.html .

    Regarding the role of FoxP2 in mice, you might like to have a look at this article from 2007:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/8/3117.full .

  96. Mr Vjtorley,

    Wow! That cosmicfingerprints site is a wee bit over the top at times. I almost stopped reading at “infidels”. But I persevered. I think the definition Perry quotes of a code is fine, but why he spends so much energy trying to deny that other codes exist is beyond me.

    It is not true that I have to explain the genetic code to explain the retinal code. That is a reductionist argument. I don’t need to explain QM to explain everything and anything. The point was that the retinal code exists and varies significantly, that is all.

    re FoxP2, the article I was referring to is A Humanized Version of Foxp2 Affects Cortico-Basal Ganglia Circuits in Mice. HT to JLT on the Science Break thread of AtBC.

  97. vjtorley:

    Why on earth should we be able to witness an angel doing anything? An angel doesn’t have a body. If it did, it wouldn’t be supernatural. It would belong in the same category as aliens (assuming they exist): super-human, physical intelligences.

    Now, to be sure, there are Biblical accounts of angels appearing to people, but these “apparitions” (however they occur) only take place if the angel wishes to manifest itself to people. But in many cases, an angel will not wish to be observed, so it will carry out its work invisibly.

    When you write that you would have to see an angel coming to earth and manipulating an organism’s genes before you’d believe in supernatural design, what you’re really saying is that no purely biological evidence would convince you of the existence of angels or other supernatural beings; you would have to see them before you could believe in their existence.

    Well, thanks for the angeology. I especially liked the bit about what they wish and don’t wish. It seems that we can know something of the designers, although how is beyond me!

    This relates to the point I’ve been making on the thread. Science doesn’t need to exclude the supernatural on some grand principle, it can just do it on the absence of evidence.

    As for the attempts that I.D. likes to make at indirect evidence, you talk about codes.

    “First, DNA is a bona fide code. Contrary to your suggestion in an earlier post, the laws of physics are not a code. The term “code” has a fairly rigorous definition.”

    I was puzzled by the laws of physics comment, and think you might have been confusing me with another poster. As for the description of DNA containing code, I’m perfectly happy with that.

    As Mr. Nakashima points out, there are many codes in biology, and the chemical codes (including DNA) are not known to be designed. You respond, correctly, by pointing out that these codes are indirect products of DNA, to which I’ll add that this includes our codemaking ability.

    You link to Perry Marshall’s hilarious petitio principii

    Marshall:

    1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism.
    2) All codes are created by a conscious mind; there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information.
    3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind.

    If you can provide an empirical example of a code or language that occurs naturally, you’ve toppled my proof. All you need is one.

    Here’s mine:

    1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism.

    2) All intelligent designers require DNA; there is no designer known to science for whom DNA is not a prerequisite.

    3) Therefore, DNA cannot be designed.

    If you can provide an empirical example of an intelligent designer who does not have DNA as a prerequisite, you’ve toppled my proof. All you need is one.

    Fun eh? But fallacious.

  98. 98

    Icono you are just repeating your mantra. You even agreed with the Kant example- and yet you have insisted on making your so called “point about science” ambiguous enough so that no one can even address your concern without you witting the same thing again and again. You are just repeating a political mantra and probably for theological reasons.

    And I hope the moderators is taking note of this- not that i am demanding action but I hope they are taking note.

  99. Frost122585:
    Icono you are just repeating your mantra. You even agreed with the Kant example

    What I agreed with Kant on was that there may be things which our minds cannot understand. That’s all. Who wouldn’t agree?

    An example might be trying to understand cause and effect at a point where time=0.

    Other than that, I think we seem to be talking at cross purposes. That may be my fault for lack of clarity, but it may not be.

    I don’t believe in any supernatural beings, if that’s what’s upsetting you. Is there any reason why I should, and if so, which ones should I believe in and why should I choose those particular ones?

    “You are just repeating a political mantra and probably for theological reasons.”

    Are you sure that you’re not? Wouldn’t you think that people who bring gods into biology are considerably more theological than people who don’t?

    I think so.

  100. 100

    I am sure I am not. I am getting annoyed because you said you agreed with Kant- but Kant’s point is not that there might be supernatural causes- but that if the evidence supports their induction then it is correct and valid to do so. This is of course the same case for scientific reasoning- Kant never said Science needs to be the only domain where empiricism rules. No Kant showed that synthetic and analytical reasoning were both scientific so long as the synthesis is correct and the evidence supports it.

    I don’t mind you holding a personal “belief” that supernatural things must be ruled out apriori- but that is not a valid scientific approach- and saying that you think it is, is just espousing your personal “belief” system- and this Site is not for materialistic proselytizing.

  101. Iconofid,

    I believe Padre Pio’s stigmata is the top candidate among many examples of strong evidence for supernatural influence.

    How does science explain this modern example of divine influence that walked among us during the 20th century?

    It would require strong direct evidence, though, for the very reason that MN has been put in place. Our species has a long and well documented record of inventing false supernatural explanations for things, which is why the current prejudice against the supernatural is based on observation and experience, not philosophy or theology.

  102. 2) All intelligent designers require use DNA; there is no designer known to science for whom DNA is not a prerequisite. that does not use DNA in designing organisms.

    There, fixed that for you Icon.

  103. Frost122585 says:

    I am sure I am not. I am getting annoyed because you said you agreed with Kant- but Kant’s point is not that there might be supernatural causes- but that if the evidence supports their induction then it is correct and valid to do so.

    Here’s the only thing I said I agreed with Kant on:

    Iconofid says:

    You continue, after quoting Kant pointing out that there may well be things the human mind cannot comprehend (something with which I agree):

    The bit in parentheses refers to the point that “there may well be things the human mind cannot comprehend”.

    Especially with the word “may” involved, I couldn’t see how anyone would disagree with that, and later in the thread I gave an example (how can we understand cause and effect where time =0?).

    I didn’t say I agreed with him on anything else.

    Interestingly, here’s what you quote from Kant:

    “in obedience to this advice, intellectual hypotheses and faith would not be called in aid of our practical interests; nor should we introduce them under the pompous titles of science and insight. For speculative cognition cannot find an objective basis any other where than in experience; and, when we overstep its limits our synthesis, which requires ever new cognitions independent of experience, has no substratum of intuition upon which to build.

    But if–as often happens–empiricism, in relation to ideas, becomes itself dogmatic and boldly denies that which is above the sphere of its phenomenal cognition, it falls itself into the error of intemperance–an error which is here all the more reprehensible, as thereby the practical interest of reason receives an irreparable injury.

    In the first paragraph, he seems to be saying that people shouldn’t do exactly what the I.D. movement does appear to do.

    In the second paragraph, he seems to be saying that science should not be used to deny “what is above the sphere of its phenomenal cognition”, presumably meaning his god, and of course empiricism cannot disprove or deny general supernatural propositions like gods and fairies, except in certain circumstances (as in a described god who created the earth flat, for example; empirical evidence would deny that particular god’s existence).

    What it sounds like, although I can’t see the context, is a bit like the “keep religion out of science and keep science out of religion” argument that we often hear, so I’m not sure why you, as a religious I.D. supporter, would quote that particular passage.

  104. Oramus

    There, fixed that for you Icon.

    Exactly, Oramus. petitio principii.

    As I said in the post, fun but fallacious.

  105. Oramus:

    I believe Padre Pio’s stigmata is the top candidate among many examples of strong evidence for supernatural influence.

    How does science explain this modern example of divine influence that walked among us during the 20th century?

    You should see some of the Hindu claims! Ask Cornelius Hunter about confirmation bias, then consider how “miracles” always relate to the local religion, then look up schizophrenia and temporal epilepsy.

  106. Nakashima-San:

    In 94 above, you raised a technically interesting point:

    Codes are actually pretty common in biology. Your retina is an example. There is a mapping between data encoded as photons and data encoded as electrical signals.

    The interest turns on several significant distinctions (and I am aware that English is very much a second language for you, much less technical English):

    1 –> First, we must distinguish between encoding and modulating (esp. analogue modulation): in encoding, a symbolic representation of a relevant state of the world is implemented, using arbitrary symbols according to a convention. But, in modulation (esp. analogue forms, including the relevant pulse modulation forms) the signal or state of affairs triggers transducers and a mechanical, non-symbolic modulation process for an underlying carrier. [I am of course very aware of the term, pulse code modulation [PCM], but of course the distinction is the insertion of “code” therein, even in the simple uncompressed 8421 binary coded PCM.]

    2 –> Similarly, we must distinguish a code and a signal: a code is a symbolic representation, a signal is some physical variation that may carry information under suitable modulation [including simple transducer action and generation of an analogue to the relevant input].

    3 –> Next, photons as such do not ENCODE information, they simply are emitted or reflected or refracted based on circumstances in the world. (We of course use photons in opto-electronics, by manipulating beams of photons through sensor-transducer and modulation techniques. BTW, a transducer is a device or entity that passively or in some cases actively transforms energy from one form to another in a way that is amenable to onward processing, in the ideal cases linearly or logarithmically.)

    4 –> In the case of vision, images have to be formed and patterns manipulated to have information to process. And that is a matter of sensor suites. i.e. arrays of detectors and onward neuronal processing networks; which are fundamentally analogue. (BTW, a similar process occurs with hearing, where sensor hairs trigger frequency domain responses, in effect doing an analogue Fast Fourier Transform.)

    5 –> In the case of neurones, they generate puled signals, wee the neurone is either quiescent or fired. The response is by making a higher rate of pulsing when there is more intense stimulation, so that the output signal’s modulation is a matter of pulse repetition rate. As Wiki notes in its article on neurones:

    The conduction of nerve impulses is an example of an all-or-none response. In other words, if a neuron responds at all, then it must respond completely. The greater the intensity of stimulation does not produce a stronger signal but can produce more impulses per second. There are different types of receptor response to stimulus, slowly adapting or tonic receptors respond to steady stimulus and produce a steady rate of firing. These tonic receptors most often respond to increased intensity of stimulus by increasing their firing frequency, usually as a power function of stimulus plotted against impulses per second. This can be likened to an intrinsic property of light where to get greater intensity of a specific frequency (color) there has to be more photons, as the photons can’t become “stronger” for a specific frequency.

    There are a number of other receptor types that are called quickly adapting or phasic receptors, where firing decreases or stops with steady stimulus, examples include; skin when touched by an object causes the neurons to fire, but if the object maintains even pressure against the skin the neurons stop firing . . . .

    6 –> A typical model is the Weber-Fechner law, whereby response is seen as being to fractional change, i.e. the underlying signal is a more or less logarithmic pulse repetition rate signal. (And, as was noted, there are other structures that may cause the response to be differential, and non-integrating.) Such techniques of course economise on processing and allow for a wide dynamic range of real world circumstances to be sensed and responded to, with a bias to the point that it is change or difference that is often the important signal. [That is, the system is for good reason often biased towards adaptive, differential signals. BTW, pulse signals are generally demodulated by more or less integrative processes, such as low pass filtering. [And, yes I know that a LPF of form 1/(a + Ts) is not a strict integrator, but run up well beyond its frequency domain knee and tell me what is happening there . . . by comparison with the classic 1/s. Remember, too the significance of the use of signal chopping in instrumentation.] )

    7 –> By contrast, the DNA- RNA- Ribosome- Enzyme system in the cell is a digitally encoded, symbolic, algorithmic, flexibly programmed [think of how viruses can hijack the system] processing system. That is, the A, G, C, T/U monomers in sequence specify at least one (and probably more than one!) discrete code based on a four-state alphabet. And, the chaining chemistry of sugar-phosphate bonds, is more or less independent of the information encoded in side-chains. that’s why, ever since March 19, 1953, Crick observed (here, in a letter to his son Michael):

    Now we believe that the DNA is a code. That is, the order of bases (the letters) makes one gene different from another gene (just as one page of print is different from another) . . .

    8 –> Onward, the protein making code specifies assembly of proteins as informationally controlled sequenced “handed” polymers, that fold to 3-D forms (sometimes, agglomerated) that then have [a] key-lock fits at their work sites, and [b] function based on the 3-D array of side-groups and augmentational/ activating atoms or groups. (The folding space of the proteinome — even after solving the problem of why life molecules are overwhelmingly one-handed: left for proteins, right for nucleic acids — is itself a major search challenge, which easily outstrips the search resources of warm ponds or comet heads or volcano vents deep underseas.)

    9 –> And, to function they must be transported to the right work site and fit into the right process at the right time, indeed having of all things a packet switching style header system [this is similar -- NB, I here make a comparison, not a claim of identity -- to how TCP/IP, the protocol for the Internet, works] that allows them to be appropriately addressed and delivered, the headers being snipped off at the right times!

    _____________

    In short, the digital coding and associated algorithmic information systems in the cell are a highly significant issue, and should not be conflated with the signal processing networks in the body otherwise. the nature and informational complexity of this system points strongly to design.

    Of course, the intricately organised and often irreducibly complex structure of the sensors subsystems in the body considered as a cybernetic system are also pointers to design.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Icon, that we exhibit FSCI in our DNA, and irreducible complexity in our organs and systems, is an indicator that we are not the primary intelligences in the cosmos. That’s all. (It in no way undermines the significance of the tested, reliable empirical traces of intelligent action as pointers to that action.)

    We are undeniably intelligent [and one cannot apart from question-begging assume or assert that we exhaust the field of actual or possible intelligence and associated capabilities].

    However, as exemplars of that, we can be a useful sample of what intelligences do that are beyond the credible reach of undirected chance + mechanical necessity. Thence, we assess the reliable traces of intelligent action in the interesting cases of life and cosmic origins, and can infer from reliable sign to presence of intelligent action at the point of relevant origin.

    That we live in a contingent cosmos that reflects intricate fine-tuning that sets it up for intelligent, carbon-based life such as we are, suggests that the best candidate for the logically implied necessary being is a powerful and highly intelligent cosmogentic designer.

  107. Nakishima,

    The issue isn’t whether or not codes can “evolve”.

    The issue is with the ORIGINS of the code.

    Ya see we don’t have any experience with nature, operating freely cobbling together a code.

    We do have plenty of experience with agencies creating codes from scratch.

    So all you have to do is demonstrate that nature, operating freely can cobble together a genetic code and an icon of ID falls.

  108. Mr Kairosfocus,

    Mr Vjtorley was referring to Perry’s page, where a simple definition of a code is given – a mapping from points in one space to points in another. No unecessary bells and whistles. Codes are basically transductions. tRNA transduces mRNA triplets into amino acids. Retinal cells transduce light into signal trains.

  109. Mr Joseph,

    I always get an odd sense of triumphalism when you pin the validity of ID to the lack of human progress in a particular area of science. What is your back-up plan?

    Looking at my previous response to Mr Kairosfocus, we can see that codes are at base transductions, and as you point out, can evolve. This leads to a line of inquiry as to whether any of the transduction has a function that may be considered pre-symbolic.

    Another line of inquiry is whether the code can be subsetted for historical reasons. For example, was there a two codon gentic code before there was a three codon genetic code? Could new amino acids be added to an existing code without breaking to much?

  110. Nakashima-San:

    Codes are NOT transductions; the latter having to do with energy conversion through device physics effects, e.g. a dynamic microphone [love the old reliable Shure 58!] is a small, specialised DC generator.

    Ye olde 4-terminal resistor [with two take-off voltage leads) is a classic transducer much used in electronics, esp nowadays to get a current meter out of a DVM, which is usually naturally of high input impedance. (Ye just as old galvanometer is a blend of low current and low voltage actuating a coil against a spring, with a pointer running across a scale. One then fits around shunts and series resistances to get calibrated scales.)

    An active transducer would involve an amplifier element that gates energy form a power supply under the control of an input so there may be power gain. (Oddly, a classic early amplifier in this sense is the old Carbon granule mike in old fashioned telephones, that worked by causing C-granules to crush together more or less closely per the impinging compressions and rarefactions of the sound waves.)

    Codes are symbolic assignments that result in mappings from one domain to another.

    For instance, ASCII is a code mapping from the world of alphanumeric glyphs to 7-bit digital codes.

    One impinges a signal on a transducer to get the transformation process going, one modulates a signal to get a modulated signal; one assigns codes per mapping relationships to get coding or translation.

    Transduction, modulation and encoding are very different.

    GEM of TKI

  111. Mr Kairosfocus,

    Thank you, perhaps I used the term too broadly. However, I would still hold that there are some examples of codes (mappings) that are also transductions (for example from photons to electrical signals).

  112. iconofid

    First, an apology. I mistakenly imputed to you the view that the laws of physics are a code; I was wrong. It was Lenoxus (#26), not you, who made that suggestion:

    If I wanted, I could describe the laws of physics as “information” or “code”…

    … which, as I pointed out, is loose talk. Perry Marshall’s rigorous definition of “code” would exclude physical laws at the outset.

    Back to Marshall. In #97, you attempt to refute his syllogism…

    1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism.

    2) All codes are created by a conscious mind; there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information.

    3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind.

    …with one of your own:

    1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism.

    2) All intelligent designers require DNA; there is no designer known to science for whom DNA is not a prerequisite.

    3) Therefore, DNA cannot be designed.

    The first premise in your counter-syllogism is redundant. All you need are premises 2 and 3, and you can then argue as follows: All designers require pre-existing DNA, therefore no designer could have designed the first DNA.

    Oramus (#102) rightly criticized the ambiguity of your phrase “require DNA” in step 2, and re-wrote it as follows:

    2) All intelligent designers use DNA; there is no designer known to science that does not use DNA in designing organisms.

    But even if you meant “All intelligent designers contain – and hence physically require – pre-existing DNA” rather than “All intelligent designers use DNA,” there is still something wrong with your counter-syllogism. For your argument fails to distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic dependence.

    All intelligent designers may happen to contain DNA; but there is nothing intrinsic to being a designer that requires it to possess DNA, rather than some other complex biomolecule. If premise 2 is true, it is accidentally true; there is no reason for it to be so.

    Compare this with Marshall’s premise (2):

    All codes are created by a conscious mind; there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information.

    The dependence of code upon a mind is arguably intrinsic, rather than extrinsic. To see this point, let’s look at Perry Marshall’s definition of “code” in http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/dnanotcode.htm :

    Code is defined as communication between an encoder (a “writer” or “speaker”) and a decoder (a “reader” or “listener”) using agreed upon symbols.

    Perry Marshall’s point here is not that the encoder or decoder needs to be intelligent – indeed, ants can perform these functions perfectly well – but that the symbol-creator has to be intelligent. The same goes for another defintion Perry Marshall puts forward:

    I define “Coded information” as a system of symbols used by an encoding and decoding mechanism, which transmits a message that is independent of the communication medium.

    So Perry Marshall’s inference that all codes are created by a conscious mind appears reasonable, especially when we bear in mind his additional point that “there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information.” Moreover, it seems to be necessarily true; so the inference should really be from:

    (2) All codes have to be created by a conscious mind;

    to:

    (3) DNA (a code) must have been created by a conscious mind.

    In your counter-syllogism, the argument does not flow through in the same way. Instead we have:

    2) All intelligent designers happen to require pre-existing DNA.

    3) Therefore, the first DNA was not designed – but nevertheless there is no reason in principle why it could not have been designed, by a Designer with a different biochemistry – or none at all.

    In this post, I have argued that the way in which codes require conscious, intelligent creators is very different from the way in which code-creators require DNA.

    I hope that helps clarify my position.

    Best wishes,

    Vincent

  113. Kairosfocus says:

    We are undeniably intelligent [and one cannot apart from question-begging assume or assert that we exhaust the field of actual or possible intelligence and associated capabilities].

    Indeed. My question begging argument above was a parody of Perry Marshall’s. He assumes his conclusion, and so did I.

    Here’s his argument again:

    Marshall:

    1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism.
    2) All codes are created by a conscious mind; there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information.
    3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind.

    If you can provide an empirical example of a code or language that occurs naturally, you’ve toppled my proof. All you need is one.

    You see what I mean?

    So tell me, why is it you’re objecting to my satirical question begging, but not Marshall’s serious question begging? Cornelius Hunter could help you with his expertise on confirmation bias, perhaps.

  114. vjtorley:

    Moreover, it seems to be necessarily true; so the inference should really be from:

    (2) All codes have to be created by a conscious mind;

    to:

    (3) DNA (a code) must have been created by a conscious mind.

    Since you have changed Marshall’s argument from an induction to a deduction, should we assume that you agree with icon’s point that Marshall’s argument didn’t hold water?

  115. Wow, the posts that happen in a day! I’d like to re-enter the conversation to jot down some points & questions…

    First off is this: Did no one else notice the absurdity in Oramus’s rephrasing:

    2) All intelligent designers use DNA; there is no designer known to science that does not use DNA in designing organisms.

    Really? Nothing is designed except DNA? Normally IDers are pretty good at coming up with dozens of examples of non-DNA design… ;) Conversely, if you really want to stretch the definition of “use” to mean that we all “use” DNA to create these posts, um, okay… I guess by a similar argument I’m using a printing press right now. Hmm, food for thought… :)

    I also feel compelled to repond to #63 Borne.

    Lenoxus: “Until “design” becomes a specific, observable, mechanical phenomenon, calling something “designed” seems no different scientifically than calling it ‘pretty’.”

    So calling an automobile designed is the same as calling it pretty?
    You need to take time to think before responding.

    I still stand by that. Of course the fact that automobiles are designed is true, but it’s a meaningless and useless statement until some sort of mechanism of origin is proposed, or at least a reason why its being designed is relevant to us. If penguins are designed, should that change the way we treat them? (Or the way we study them? The second is of course the sort of thing I and a lot of others have kept asking over and over about ID).

    In fact, I’m sure I will be proven wrong about this, but I can’t think of a single area of science, academia, or work in general that consists of nothing but labeling a given artifact as designed and moving on to the next one. So by itself, the word “design” is meaningless, yet all IDers seem to want scientists to do is say “We consider DNA designed” and move on on the assumption that the designer is omni-everything, making that part of Official Science.

    Earlier in the same post Borne said:

    Lenoxus: “Man, I can’t wait for the rise of methodological supernaturalism. “

    How much more patently absurd can you get?

    Well, that was kind of my point. Seriously, could any of the residents IDers take a crack at explaining how methodological supernaturalism works differently than philosophical supernaturalism? The differences when it comes to naturalism are clear enough — some of us on this board are partaking of metaphysical but not methodological naturalism, because we’re defending naturalism but not doing any naturalistic science ourselves. When Harvard opens its first ID lab, what will the biologists there do differently?

  116. 116

    When Harvard opens its first ID lab, what will the biologists there do differently?

    Ask jerry. He’ll tell you they don’t need to open an ID lab.

  117. 117

    Lenoxus,

    ——”Well, that was kind of my point. Seriously, could any of the residents IDers take a crack at explaining how methodological supernaturalism works differently than philosophical supernaturalism? The differences when it comes to naturalism are clear enough — some of us on this board are partaking of metaphysical but not methodological naturalism, because we’re defending naturalism but not doing any naturalistic science ourselves. When Harvard opens its first ID lab, what will the biologists there do differently?”

    All valid questions. My own personal point of view is to withdraw the terms natural and supernatural, or at least, be open minded about how they’re used or abused. Radio waves were once considered supernatural, particle wave duality could still be considered supernatural, it depends on your philosophical presuppositions that you bring to the topic. In my own opinion, all of nature could be considered supernatural, since we have no reason to believe that we know better, given that the sample of nature, or supernature, is 1. I have other reasons for thinking so, but it would take a lot of explaining, or I could just refer you to The Ethics of Elfland in Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton, which is worth quoting in full. It must be remembered that methodological naturalism is no different from philosophical naturalism, so if methodological supernaturalism is to be dismissed because it presupposes philosophical supernaturalism, the same grounds would be in place to dismiss methodological naturalism given that it presupposes philosophical naturalism. It just depends on where you draw these lines between natural and supernatural. There have been shifts in where people have drawn these lines over the years. It would be folly to claim that nothing should exist except methodological naturalism, for that is not itself proven or even able to be demonstrated by methodological naturalism for the precise reason that it is a philosophical position.
    When Harvard opens its first ID lab, it will take these engineering principles and wed them to biological science as a way of understanding more fully how the mechanics of whatever system they’re studying works, just like Jonathan Wells did for the turbine like mechanism that he studied, and how Michael Egnor studied the stabilizing ability of the brain while pounded under heavy blood flow. Put simply, these engineering principles help in understanding what is being studied. That is, at least, one way in which ID helps even methodological naturalism. To rule it out of hand is, to me, stifling.

  118. Clive Hayden:

    When Harvard opens its first ID lab, it will take these engineering principles and wed them to biological science as a way of understanding more fully how the mechanics of whatever system they’re studying works, just like Jonathan Wells did for the turbine like mechanism that he studied, and how Michael Egnor studied the stabilizing ability of the brain while pounded under heavy blood flow.

    Sounds good to me! The question then becomes: if you want to imitate, by means of design, those forms that work well in nature, why must we assume those forms themselves were designed? By some arguments, it might seem reasonable to suppose that they were, but ultimately, we would still want to test anything we developed anyway, rather than put all our confidence in the designer’s plan. And it’s not like we would say, “Let’s make a robot with wings like a bat’s, but let’s not model this building after mountains, because we know mountains weren’t designed.” George de Mestral, the inventor of velcro, was proably a theist, but I doubt that was necessary to his being inspired by burdock.

    In any case, I largely agree with the notion that whenever you empirically confirm the supernatural, it kind of automatically becomes part of the natural. After all, it must be describable by some rules, even if those rules involve inherent unpredictability, like aspects of quantum mechanics.

    That doesn’t mean that any one supernatural concept should ever be ruled out scientifically, but rather that no unwarranted assumptions about its nature should ever be made. If a being who seemingly resembled the God of Abraham appeared before me, I wouldn’t automatically assume the total truth of the Old Testament, nor would I conclude that this being was omni-everything. I would, however, figure it most likely that this entity, or a being similar to it (an ancestor, perhaps), was indeed one who had appeared to at least one ancient Jew or Sumerian. (After ruling out the possibility of my hallucinating, of course.)

    Obviously I’m pretty much rephrasing what iconofid said earlier about observing an angel create. In fact, in keeping with this philosophy, one of my biggest issues with the ID mindset is not its acceptance of a designer, but its almost knee-jerk rejection of natural designers (such as aliens) — ironic considering how much evolutionists here are accused of close-mindedness. Again and again, we hear “Design is there for anyone to infer! It’s a hard scientific alternative to Darwin! By the way, would you mind changing what constitutes ‘science’, please, because we would really like this designer to be undetectable due to its own super-nature.” Have Dembski or Behe ever spent even a day pondering the possibility of extraterrestrial creators?

  119. Folks:

    This AM, I am more focussed on the preview candidate for Firefox 3.5, noting that when I get to threads at UD that go to about 100 comments, the background on the OP and other sections goes to black.(At first it is white as usual, then as the page loads, it switches to black.) Am I the only one seeing this? [I don't see the problem in Safari, and it was not there pre 3.5 F/f.]

    Now on some follow-up points:

    1] Nakashima-San, 111: I would still hold that there are some examples of codes (mappings) that are also transductions (for example from photons to electrical signals).

    It is probably possible to create a complex transducer that will also code [I think here especially of a transducer that would employ a complicated matrix of switches (including opto-electric switches) and associated circuits, or a complex analogue to digital converter used as a transducer], but in general coding is not the same thing as physically instantiated mapping.

    The idea is that the code maps from one domain to another, SYMBOLICALLY. That is, there is an alphabet of possible symbols that is used in clusters forming messages under certain representational and transformation rules, to represent and/or manipulate real or possible states of affairs in a real or model world; i.e. I am arguing that codes are inherently digital entities. If you will, let’s take Wiki on codes, as a useful first reference:

    In communications, a code is a rule for converting a piece of information (for example, a letter, word, phrase, or gesture) into another form or representation (one sign into another sign), not necessarily of the same type. In communications and information processing, encoding is the process by which information from a source is converted into symbols to be communicated. Decoding is the reverse process, converting these code symbols back into information understandable by a receiver.

    So, codes are distinct from signals and analogue modulations thereof, which are actually physical implementations of mathematical operations — i.e. transformations of t-domain [which enfolds space-domain here . . I am not just talking on 1-D signals] signals from one form to another, and in the first instance are thus smoothly variable, i.e. analogue. In a code, the symbols are — and must be — recognizably distinct. (of course since with appropriate choice of symbols and clusters or strings, we can in principle digitise just about any analogue signal.)

    2] . . . for example from photons to electrical signals

    I am thinking that it is possible to do a direct opto-actuated switch matrix that would sense an optical signal and immediately yield a digital, coded output. In a simple case, we could consider a string of chopped IR beams [this gets us out of major headaches on the pervasive presence of light . . . esp fluorescent, i.e. pulsed light] feeding photodiodes that will yield a bit string that locates and sizes an entity that interrupts the beams.

    But in the relevant case, the eye, the outputs of the sensor matrix are not discrete state — we are dealing with signals where pulse repetition rate is smoothly variable and is a log-compressed analogue signal. [And yes, the Brain and CNS are a sophisticated ANALOGUE computer that uses the neuron as the core element.]

    There is neural network processing back of the retina, indeed, but that is again a matter of a network of interconnected synapses that drive an analogue pulse repetition rate firing process in onward layers of the network.

    The nerves therefore carry a log-compressed, time-varying matrix signal, but it is smoothly varying not a symbolic code. [NB: the visual field is updated about every 1/8 second, hence the use of 16 - 24 frames/sec as the more or less minimum for perceiving smoothly varying motion, and of course 40 -50 or so Hz -- some of us, a very few, need up to about 60 Hz -- is the flicker fusion frequency range beyond which we perceive no flicker. Movies work by doing 24 frames/sec but double-pulsing the light, and NTSC and PAL/SECAM TV do even and odd fields that move from 25 - 30 frames to 50 - 60 Hz. Video is a very fascinating and subtly complex area of study . . . ]

    Of course other layers of processing allow the signal patterns to be “crispified” into recognition of text etc and deciphering of MEANING, at which point symbols — digitalisation – has now entered the issue. And note: this move to SYMBOLISED MEANING is an intelligent step. One we do not really understand; though we routinely do it. (Computers that do optical recognition of text etc, are programmed, int eh end by intelligences. They are simply mechanically manipulating bits, not in themselves actually thinking intelligently. Take a look at assembly or machine code and associated register transfer algebra to see what this is about.)

    So, it is possible for a complex transducer to directly encode, but this is not relevant to the biological world, which is a world of analogue signal processing on signals that are based on smoothly varying pulse repetition rate for intensity, and on network wiring with subtly adjustable intensity of interconnexions for processing to separate out patterns. Onward, there is intelligent recognition and manipulation of symbols and objects, but he intelligent processes involved — though familiar and routine — are not understood. [E.g. Have you ever seen someone and mis-recognised who it was? Or, seen a familiar face in a cloud or the like?]

    3] VJT, 112: Perry Marshall’s point . . . is not that the encoder or decoder needs to be intelligent – indeed, ants can perform these functions perfectly well – but that the symbol-creator has to be intelligent . . . . Perry Marshall’s inference that all codes are created by a conscious mind appears reasonable, especially when we bear in mind his additional point that “there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information.” Moreover, it seems to be necessarily true . . .

    Now, I ‘ent so sure ants (both individually and collectively) are not smart! (Ever tried to keep them out of sugar or chocolate by making in effect a puzzle?)

    However, in comms, many encoders are as to functional dynamics, purely mechanical, so it is plain that encoders — and decoders — need not be intelligent in themselves. But, such mechanical entities are fulfilling patterns that are set up by intelligent designers, in the cases under our direct observation as to actual cause. (And of course, we know of no cases of observed emergence of encoders or decoders of any complexity that reflect undirected contingency and mere blind mechanical dynamics of necessity.)

    So, per our world of observation, we are back at tech design inference: on massively supported induction, codes and the entities that encode or decode mechanically, or even under program control, are created by intelligences. Moreover, as we are dealing with huge configuration spaces, we know that trial and error is maximally unlikely to get to the shores of islands of function on the gamut of the observed cosmos. So, optimising through trial and error-driven hill-climbing is not a credible strategy to get to first functionality.

    So also, we have good reason to infer that the presence of complex symbolic codes and associated processing systems is an empirically reliable sign of intelligence.

    (And, of course, I am making the underlying induction explicit. Those who would reject it have the burden of showing that it is credible on empirical evidence that compex codes and associated mechanisms and systems can spontaneously originate per chance + necessity with reasonable probability on the gamut of our observed cosmos.)

    [ . . . ]

  120. 4] Icon, 113: why is it you’re objecting to my satirical question begging, but not Marshall’s serious question begging?

    It is obvious that Icon has again failed to simply examine my always linked, in which I make my chains of reasoning explicit.

    As the above shows, I make an inductive argument, and the real challenge to evolutionary materialism is as I just put it. (FYI, Icon, I have never previously heard of Mr Perry Marshall.)

    Let’s look at the argument Icon objects to as question-begging, in the light of the above:

    1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism. [True]

    2) All codes are created by a conscious mind; there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information. [the second sentence makes the inductive context of the assertion plain. An empirically anchored and well-supported induction is not a begging of the question. Such inductions are the foundation of science, which of course is provisional knowledge of our world based on observation, inference and testing.]

    3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind. [Inductively based logical inference]

    If you can provide an empirical example of a code or language that occurs naturally, you’ve toppled my proof. All you need is one. [Note the provisionality that is here explicitly stated.]

    In short, Icon has here utterly misinterpreted an inductive argument, trying to turn it into a question-begging syllogism. And instead of providing an empirical counter-example, you sutgtgest that it is an adequate rebuttal that it is logically possible that the key induction is false.

    Sure, as with any significant body of scientific reasoning.

    Now, all you have to do, Icon, is provide one clear counter-example.

    Of which, we find nowhere the faintest trace.

    5] CH, 117: My own personal point of view is to withdraw the terms natural and supernatural, or at least, be open minded about how they’re used or abused.

    CH has a point.

    I would suggest that we need to change the frame of our thought: we routinely observe (a) natural events and objects (evidently spontaneous results of chance and/or necessity) and (b) ART-ificial ones. Thus, we see that causal factors: (i) mechanical necessity leading to intelligible, low contingency regularities, (ii) credibly undirected and stochastic contingency, and (iii) directed contingency are all reasonable.

    Thence, we may apply a causal/explanatory filter as an empirically based scientific analytical tool:

    [1] examine an entity or process, by various facets or features or aspects as seems reasonable.

    [2] if the aspect is such that similar initial conditions lead to similar [and perhaps functionally related] outcomes, then [i] more or less mechanical laws of necessity are likely to be at work, leading to mechanical kinematic and dynamical models. [We move to dynamics when we postulate change-driving forces and resistances to same, relative to initial conditions. Kinematics studies change without reference to driving forces. Galilean and Newtonian studies of motion are the paradigmatic exemplars.]

    [3] If the aspect is highly contingent, seemingly similar initial conditions will give rise to dramatically different outcomes, though of course averaging behaviour and fluctuations may be also present. Such high contingency may — on our experience of the world — be [ii] credibly undirected and stochastic, [iii] credibly directed and purposeful.

    [4] On observing apparently undirected, stochastic behaviour, chance based models are appropriate, and the relevant statistics can be explored. Under certain circumstances of identifiable models, underlying structural dynamics and populations may be characterised, as in kinetic theory and statistical mechanics. [Event eh Gaussian model is based on the idea of a large cluster of factors that may shift positively or negatively by small amounts, giving an average with a scatter that yields the classic bell curve.]

    [5] in cases such as specified complexity or irreducible complexity, or code-based behaviours, we have empirically reliable sings of intelligence, so the logical inference is that ART [tekne], not NATURE is at work.

    [6] Once the list of relevant aspects has been run through, an overall explanatory model of the situation or object may be constructed, allowing description, modelling of driving forces, prediction and testing on observed or experimental conditions, thence on reliable success, technological application.

    So, we see a generic format of the scientific method.

    6] Lenoxus, 118: if you want to imitate, by means of design, those forms that work well in nature, why must we assume those forms themselves were designed? By some arguments, it might seem reasonable to suppose that they were, but ultimately, we would still want to test anything we developed anyway, rather than put all our confidence in the designer’s plan.

    The error here is to misread an inductive, empirically anchored inference to ART with an assumption. It seems to be driven by — ironically — the assumption and a priori imposition of Lewontinian materialism on science and the popular mindset:

    . . . . 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. [NYRB, 1997]

    And, as for he issue of testing, the just above point on empirically based causal factor analysis, should provide adequate answer.

    7] I largely agree with the notion that whenever you empirically confirm the supernatural, it kind of automatically becomes part of the natural. After all, it must be describable by some rules, even if those rules involve inherent unpredictability, like aspects of quantum mechanics.

    Cf again, the analysis model at 5 just above.

    Whenever one empirically confirms the ART-ificial, it becomes part of the intelligent. Candidates to be the intelligent cause may be within or beyond the cosmos, which can be addressed on circumstances. for instance, if tech cosmos is credibly fine-tuned and integrated in a complexly functional way to foster the existence of intelligent C-atom and water based life forms, then there is good reason to infer that the cosmos is grounded in an extra=-cosmic designer.

    Such a designer would by definition be beyond nature, and would not be reducible to nature.

    And, this is in fact a significant issue in cosmology, so the inference captioned just above is without warrant.

    GEM of TKI

  121. 121

    Icono just insists on ignoring all of the arguments being put forth against the position that super naturalism must not be allowed in science. NO one is saying to teach or do science about who or what the designer is- all ID does is infer to design. If you were to speculate 1000 years ago that there was a super complex coding system that is responsible for our biological existence people could have easily considered this a supernatural explanation. And to me DNA is very much super natural and that is why it requires the explanation of a designer. Kant was not saying keep religion out of science- he was saying science has limits which require empirical evidence but that if that evidence points strongly to a synthetic explanation than that explanation must be taken seriously. Kant would not have argued for some wall between science and religion. Kant considered all modes of thought part of one manifold- that is science religion and other things are all connected by the sane set of rules.

  122. 122

    The critique of pure reason was about synthesizing metaphysics and materialism.

    “But, in transcendental philosophy, it is only the cosmological questions to which we can demand a satisfactory answer in relation to the constitution of their object; and the philosopher is not permitted to avail himself of the pretext of necessary ignorance and impenetrable obscurity. These questions relate solely to the cosmological ideas. For the object must be given in experience, and the question relates to the adequateness of the object to an idea.If the object is transcendental and therefore itself unknown; if the question, for example, is whether the object–the something, the phenomenon of which (internal–in ourselves) is thought–that is to say, the soul, is in itself a simple being; or whether there is a cause of all things, which is absolutely necessary–in such cases we are seeking for our idea an object, of which we may confess that it is unknown to us, though we must not on that account assert that it is impossible.* The cosmological ideas alone posses the peculiarity that we can presuppose the object of them and the empirical synthesis requisite for the conception of that object to be given;and the question, which arises from these ideas, relates merely to the progress of this synthesis, in so far as it must contain absolute totality–which, however, is not empirical, as it cannot be given in any experience. Now, as the question here is solely in regard to a thing as the object of a possible experience and not as a thing in itself, the answer to the transcendental cosmological question need not be sought out of the idea, for the question does not regard an object in itself. The question in relation to a possible experience is not, “What can be given in an experience in concreto” but “what is contained in the idea, to which the empirical synthesis must approximate.” “

    Here he once again defends the use of reasoning to a nonmaterial unknown explanation but he points out that what that explanation is (God? or Designer) must be shewn as either a suffcient or insuffient idea based on it’s on rational nature. And this leads immeadtly to theology as then the arguemnt becmes about what the nature of that designer is and if it is rational to accept one description of it over anotehr.

    ID does not get into that all ID does is claim to infer design- and if one thinks that the designer must be a super natural one then on those grounds alone one cannot dismiss the theory simply based on a undefined inference. One must argue about why a supernatural cause “cannot” give rise to design in nature- which leads us to theology.

    Firthermore, Kant says,

    “Although, therefore, the solution of these problems is unattainable through experience, we must not permit ourselves to say that it is uncertain how the object of our inquiries is constituted.For the object is in our own mind and cannot be discovered inexperience; and we have only to take care that our thoughts are consistent with each other, and to avoid falling into the amphiboly of regarding our idea as a representation of an object empirically given, and therefore to be cognized according to the laws of experience. A dogmatical solution is therefore not only unsatisfactory but impossible. The critical solution, which may be a perfectly certain one, does not consider the question objectively, but proceeds by inquiring into the basis of the cognition upon which the question rests.”

    And so this idea of supernaturalism is not even possible to be argued against- by Kant’s observation the questions must ultimately only be about the system which points to the object being investigated of the nature of conception of the object itself.

    So your quarrel might be either with the theory of ID or the nature of the designer, but the inferred connection to the designer, which simply fallows as a necessary extension of the theory, is unwarranted. And so if we are not challenging the theory we are challenging it’s object and that leads us once again into the real domain of ID’s demurrers which is theology- and of which ID does not make any claim there of. ID’s object is intelligence/information and design which the theory claims can be inferred by it’s effects in nature. To attack the object of the design is to pose a question about the nature of the designer. So say that in inference to intelligence is “supernatural” is false as intelligence is a naturalistic acting force. For one to challenge the inference of intelligence one must make the case that there can be no intelligence great enough to design the world- and that is an attack upon the nature of the object of the theory.

  123. 123

    Interestingly enough Kant rules out ID as an explanation of things….

    “Reason affords no good grounds for admitting the existence of intelligible beings, or of intelligible properties of sensuous things, although–as we have no conception either of their possibility or of their impossibility–it will always be out of our power to affirm dogmatically that they do not exist. In the explanation of given phenomena, no other things and no other grounds of explanation can be employed than those which stand in connection with the given phenomena according to the known laws of experience. A transcendental hypothesis, in which a mere idea of reason is employed to explain the phenomena of nature, would not give us any better insight into a phenomenon, as we should be trying to explain what we do not sufficiently understand from known empirical principles, by what we do not understand at all. The principles of such a hypothesis might conduce to the satisfaction of reason, but it would not assist the understanding in its application to objects.

    So Kant is fine with possibility of supernatural causes but thought the inference to them must be supported by evidence and must useful in lending insight into the better understanding of things. He clearly thinks that just speculating a transcendental explanation is not useful- there must be evidence and reasoning supporting that inference.

    But in his time there was no scientific model being laid out for the theory of ID- one that used biology and cosmology as the object of investigation through trying to find the limits of the three rational mechanisms of empirical scientific explanation (chance, contingency, necessity). ID fallows Kant’s rules of induction and reasoning but makes the case that intelligence is a supported explanation by the evidence and such an inference to ID can lead to greater insight in how things came into being as well as there functioning nature. Newton arguably used reverse creation or reverse engineering thinking in his search for the laws of motion and cosmology. The ID template is not just inspiring but puts empirical science into a perspective where it can often more easily become illuminated. Francis Crick certainly thought DNA, due to its specified complexity, really made it clear that information is a now a fundamental force of nature and that information requires intelligence. He believed this so much so that he saw ET intelligence as being the most likely explanation for it’s origin.

    So admittedly Kant did not know all of this at his time- but overall the science has come a long way since then and there are good reasons for now inferring the role of active intelligence supported by empirical evidence- and that is all ID claims to do.

  124. kairosfocus says:

    In short, Icon has here utterly misinterpreted an inductive argument, trying to turn it into a question-begging syllogism. And instead of providing an empirical counter-example, you sutgtgest that it is an adequate rebuttal that it is logically possible that the key induction is false.

    Sure, as with any significant body of scientific reasoning.

    Now, all you have to do, Icon, is provide one clear counter-example.

    Of which, we find nowhere the faintest trace.

    Perry Marshall presents his two premises and conclusion as a “proof” of his god. If it’s supposed to be a proof, it shouldn’t be treated as an inductive argument. He assumes his conclusion in his second premise.

    That’s not your fault, obviously, so if you want it treated as an inductive argument, let’s have a look at it as you present it:

    (Kairo quoting Marshall with his own parentheses)

    1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism. [True]

    2) All codes are created by a conscious mind; there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information. [the second sentence makes the inductive context of the assertion plain. An empirically anchored and well-supported induction is not a begging of the question. Such inductions are the foundation of science, which of course is provisional knowledge of our world based on observation, inference and testing.]

    Here you say you have an empirically anchored and well supported induction. Firstly, what evidence do you have that conscious minds are not natural, and that the creation of codes by them cannot be described as a “natural process known to science”? Secondly, even if we agree for the sake of argument that “there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information”, how does it follow that all codes are intelligently designed? Why should anything not currently understood by science require intelligent design. How do you conclude that from “observation, inference and testing”?

    3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind. [Inductively based logical inference]

    Based on what?

    If you can provide an empirical example of a code or language that occurs naturally, you’ve toppled my proof. All you need is one. [Note the provisionality that is here explicitly stated.]

    Any code you care to mention fits the bill. Why should any known code be unnatural?

    If you want something specific, the spoken English language will do. Not only is it natural, it’s also not designed.

    As we’re discussing observation and inference, observation would tell us that codes always precede intelligent designers, without known exception. From that, and the English language example, we could infer that codes can exist being intelligently designed, and can be produced by evolutionary processes (English evolved and continues to evolve unpredictably).

  125. iconofid, R0b:

    My apologies for being away during the past couple of days.

    R0b, you asked me if I thought Perry Marshall’s statement of his argument was invalid. I would say that it was a little muddled, that’s all.

    Actually, I can’t see anything wrong with a deductive version of Marshall’s argument, as I proposed in #112:

    (1) DNA is a code;

    (2) All codes have to be created by a conscious mind;

    (3) DNA (a code) must have been created by a conscious mind.

    Notice that the above syllogism makes no mention of Marshall’s natural-supernatural distinction. Thus iconofid’s question, “What evidence do you have that conscious minds are not natural?” is not relevant here. Whether you regard conscious minds as natural or not, the point of premise (2) (in my recast version of Marshall’s argument) is that only a mind can create a code.

    Kairosfocus threw down a challenge to iconofid:

    If you can provide an empirical example of a code or language that occurs naturally, you’ve toppled my proof. All you need is one.

    I would re-word that slightly:

    If you can provide an empirical example of a code or language that was not designed, you’ve toppled my proof. All you need is one.

    The example offered by iconofid was a very interesting one: the English language.

    If you want something specific, the spoken English language will do. Not only is it natural, it’s also not designed.

    With the greatest respect, iconofid, I have to disagree. Spoken English is the collective creation of the people who use it – all of whom have conscious minds. The patterns that are found in the spoken English language did not spring into existence out of the blue; some individual (or individuals) created them.

    It need not concern us here what that person’s reason was – euphony, ease of use, misconstrual of an existing pattern or sheer laziness. All that matters here is that for any given pattern in the spoken English language, there was a time t in history when someone made a conscious choice to use a new pattern, either to convey a new meaning or a meaning previously conveyed by an earlier pattern. That person may not have known that he/she was creating a new pattern. However, insofar as that person intended that the new pattern be used to convey a particular meaning, what he/she did was certainly an act of design.

    As I see it, the English language is a bit like Linux. It’s a work-in-progress, whose designs (the patterns embedded in our everyday speech) are continually being upgraded. With English, as with Linux, there are absolutely no restrictions on who is allowed to generate new patterns, or “improve upon” (i.e. modify) existing patterns used by speakers. I guess you could regard it as open-source software.

    Here’s an example. In Shakespeare’s day, the question “Where does he live?” would have been asked as follows: “Where lodges he?” (see Othello, Act III, scene 4). Somewhere along the line, the pattern “Where ____s he?” changed to “Where does he ____?” Why was a modal auxiliary verb introduced? I have no idea. Most likely it was a very gradual change, which was accomplished over several decades, as more and more people came to like the new pattern. But why shouldn’t the creator of the new pattern be called a designer?

    Iconofid, you make the point that “English evolved and continues to evolve unpredictably.” But that does not entail that it is not a designed product; all it means is that the designers do not collude amongst themselves. There is no grand plan for English, because no single individual or team is in charge of it. So what’s the problem?

    As far as I can tell, my modified deductive version of Marshall’s argument still stands. I explained in #112 why I think that the principle that codes have to be created by a conscious mind, has to be true.

    If you think premise (2) of my argument is wrong, iconofid, then I’d like to ask you this question: is there anything at all which you believe that only a conscious mind can do? I’m just curious.

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