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ID and ETs: Commenter is too clever by half

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O’Leary/ Bencze

Here’s a comment to “Extraterrestrials: Looking back a decade on ‘Are we alone?’”:

Anything that is intelligent but is not living on this planet is an extra-terrestrial intelligence, and that is what Intelligent Design proponents believe is the best explanation for life on Earth. But here you present a post that concludes there probably is no such thing as extra-terrestrial intelligence! Looks like you’ve figured out that ID was wrong after all, huh?

The commenter has doubtless offered himself an award for cleverness so I won’t go there, and will only say that his is an interesting attempt to deflect discussion from genuine issues:

1. On the evidence, there is no justification for the claims about billions of habitable worlds (and lots of inhabited ones) that I have been addressing in the series linked below.

Probability calculations (“billions and billions”) are about as reliable as a claim that there must be more than one type of rational life form on Earth because there are just so many types. No matter how many, there is only one rational form.

That fact should prompt caution about mere probability calculations when we do not know basic facts such as how life forms (or how higher intelligence forms, for that matter), or the details of the supposed matrix in either case.

Such evidence as we have suggests that complex life in the galaxy is rare. Even microorganisms may not be as common as we would hope. Not if we go by our experience so far with Mars.

Granted, we do not have enough evidence. But there is no warrant for concluding the opposite of what Mars has so far shown us.

2. Intelligent design is about recognition of patterns that, so far as we know require a high level of information, typically associated with an intelligence. Extrapolations about the nature of the intelligence involve additional assumptions (theism, pantheism, the Way, etc., and—off the beaten track—advanced space aliens). These assumptions are interesting but they take us off the immediate topic, a specific manifestation of that intelligence.

The only widely accepted alternative is a Ponzi scheme known as neo-Darwinism, by which the elimination of life forms that are unfit in a given environment somehow produces over time mechanisms overwhelmingly more complex than the most sophisticated computer system known to be designed by an intelligence. If you believe that, invest with whoever replaced Bernie Madoff—provided your country has some kind of social safety net. The fact that the crowning achievement of the neo-Darwinian discipline is “evolutionary” psychology speaks for itself.

3. Discussion of all these issues is vitiated by underlying assumptions such as the Copernican Principle, whereby Earth must be a usual and normal planet, when all reason and evidence suggest otherwise. And by the undisguised dislike many cosmologists feel for the Big Bang, which accounts well enough for the evidence but violates their beliefs about what the universe should be like. Sorry guys, next universe over might suit you better. Check it out.

One problem right now is that most science writers see their job as purveying  these attitudes, assumptions, values, prejudices, and beliefs to the public, all of which I think  are overdue for a challenge.

See also: What has materialism done for science?

Copernicus, you are not going to believe who is using your name. Or how.

Behold, countless Earths sail the galaxies … that is, if you would only believe …

Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!

– O’Leary for News

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164 Responses to ID and ETs: Commenter is too clever by half

  1. Denyse:

    RDFish may have been having a little fun and may have been a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I’ll let him respond for himself.

    Again, however, this insistence on no life outside of Earth is very puzzling.

    For one thing, you keep shifting terms within your arguments (which is a sign of perhaps less-than-sound arguments). The existence of intelligent life is different from the existence of complex life, which is different from the existence of simple life, which is different from having a habitable planet, which is different from having planets in the habitable zone.

    Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing in ID that would argue there isn’t intelligent life elsewhere. What principle of ID says that we should not find life in X location? Does ID predict that we will not find life at the top of Mount Everest, or the bottom of fissures in the Earth, or in deep ocean canyons? Of course not. By the same token, does ID predict that we will not find life on Mars or on Titan or on Europa? No, it does not.

    What we have found on Earth time and time again over the last 50 years is that life exists in remarkable locations previously thought completely inhospitable to living organisms.

    ID addresses the issue: Given a life form, is the what is the best explanation for its origin?

    It says absolutely nothing about whether we should expect to find life in some particular location.

    Think of it this way: If life is eventually found on Mars, or Titan, or Europa, or in a comet, or on some exoplanet, will you then abandon ID? Of course not. Because ID has nothing to say about where a particular life form will be found.

    Therefore the animus against the very idea of extraterrestrial life must be coming from something other than ID. Some a priori philosophical/religious principle perhaps is at work?

    So please stop tying this selective hyperskepticism toward the possibility of life outside Earth to ID. It is not warranted and it taints people’s understanding of ID.

  2. Where did I ever say there wasn’t any life outside of Earth, Eric?

    I said, “Such evidence as we have suggests that complex life in the galaxy is rare. Even microorganisms may not be as common as we would hope. Not if we go by our experience so far with Mars.”

    I am talking about the balance of probabilities, based on what we know. Evidence, not assumptions.

    I dislike “billions and billions” claimed, based only on probabilities calculated on the equivalent of Drake equations. It sounds like hucksterism and it is.

    For my part, I hope there is life elsewhere in the galaxy somewhere,but not offering any evidence because there isn’t any.

    Maybe we would have better luck if we started with evidence instead of with speculations. – O’Leary for News

  3. It should be noted that if ET are intelligent they will not attempt to come to Earth, because according to special relativity they can never go back to their team!.
    If we expand the thought experiment of Twin Paradox a little bit and consider ET travelling at an acceleration of 9.8m/sec (1g) for 10 years,then de-accelerating for another 10 years and then returning to their planet by accelerating for 10 years and again de-accelerating for 10 years- all at 1g, we may think ET has travelled for 40 years according to clock on the space ship, but when they go back to their planet, their planet would have aged by staggering 59,000 years ! (Adapted from the book Why Does E=mc2? (And Why Should We Care?)
    So don’t expect ET to land on Earth, just search for message signals.

  4. News,

    I dislike “billions and billions” claimed, based only on probabilities calculated on the equivalent of Drake equations. It sounds like hucksterism and it is.

    Drake equation was just for ET discussion and not a serious attempt to solve ET probability, as such it should not be taken seriously at all. In fact ,the SETI League states:

    the importance of the Drake equation is not in the solving, but rather in the contemplation.

    Of course it doesn’t stop some from calling it Seminal and Backbone of Astrobiology Just ignore all those hyperboles.

  5. Denyse:

    When I watch videos of debates between theists and atheists, and I hear atheists say they don’t believe in God because there is no evidence, I can only shake my head. There is abundance evidence for the existence of God, both from within science and outside of it, as I expect you will agree. When atheists claim that there is none, they are simply blinding themselves to whatever doesn’t fit within their worldview.

    When you write that there is no evidence for extraterrestrial intelligent life, you are doing the same thing, actually. There are at least two classes of quite strong evidence for its existence: UFO sightings and abductions, and crop circles.

    Crop circles are particularly compelling. In the decades since the eighties, well over 10,000 formations have appeared overnight (and in some cases in broad daylight) all over the world, but mostly in England. Most of them are mathematically sophisticated and quite beautiful. Some are massive, involving hundreds of individual elements. The crop is laid down in ways that no known human technology is capable of doing, involving bending the plants while leaving them still alive and growing. In some cases the laid crop is layered, with plants bent in one direction overlaying plants bent in a different direction. There are scientifically verified physiological changes to the plants and their seeds as well.

    No known human technology is capable of producing these formations, much less in the space of the few hours of darkness available in a summer night in England.

  6. selvaRajan writes, “Drake equation was just for ET discussion and not a serious attempt to solve ET probability, as such it should not be taken seriously at all. In fact, the SETI League states: the importance of the Drake equation is not in the solving, but rather in the contemplation.”

    First I ever heard that about any equation, but never mind.

    As my many links in the series demonstrate, we are presumably intended to take seriously “‘billions and billions’ claimed, based only on probabilities calculated on the equivalent of Drake equations.” And I for one do not.

    All I can say for sure is that it is a good thing if no one’s pension is involved in this one. – O’Leary for News

  7. Red rain cells from space: extraterrestrial life replicates on Earth with no DNA:

    http://science.discovery.com/t.....d-rain.htm

  8. There is abundance evidence for the existence of God

    Some of the most prevalent evidence being the existence of everything other than God, in the absence of amy plausible materialist explanation.

  9. News:

    Where did I ever say there wasn’t any life outside of Earth, Eric?

    Oh please. If you agree with Eric just say so.

    News:

    I am talking about the balance of probabilities, based on what we know.

    What’s the sample size?

  10. Where did I ever say there wasn’t any life outside of Earth, Eric?

    My bad. I should have said “. . . this insistence that there is likely no life outside of Earth.”

    Such evidence as we have suggests that complex life in the galaxy is rare. Even microorganisms may not be as common as we would hope. Not if we go by our experience so far with Mars.

    Well, that is a pretty open question. We know that microbes survived on the Moon for years. Yes, we haven’t found anything on Mars at this point, but we’ve barely scratched the surface of exploration in our own solar system, and certainly haven’t searched the galaxy. So no, I don’t think it is a fair statement that we have evidence to suggest complex life in the galaxy is rare.

    The same thing could have been said about planets outside our solar system a mere 18 years ago. But it would have been based, not on evidence, but on a lack of evidence. And now we know they are myriad.

    Furthermore, “rare” is very maleable. If there is life on a million planets in our galaxy, is that rare or common? Of course we could call it rare, if we are looking at all the stars and all the planets in our galaxy. Not even the most breathless abiogenesis proponent would dispute that. But if we limit the parameters, as the scientists are legitimately doing, to Earth-size planets in the habitable zone, then what does our evidence say. Well, so far, we have a sample size of one. Just teeming with life in every nook and cranny.

    Is it good evidence that other planets in the habitable zone also harbor life? Of course not. But it is also not evidence that life on such planets is rare. So the fact of the matter is we have an extremely small sample size and are operating in a near informational vacuum. All I’m calling for is a bit more of an open mind toward the possibilities.

    Maybe we would have better luck if we started with evidence instead of with speculations.

    I agree. And as I’ve said, if someone assumes there must be other life out there because life arises through purely natural and material processes, then they should be called on the carpet, and forcefully so. No objections there.

    All I’m proposing is a bit more of a nuanced discussion that (i) carefully distinguishes between the legitimate scientific discoveries and certain silly press releases and doesn’t throw out the former baby with the latter bath water, and (ii) a clear acknowledgement that there is nothing in ID that would lead us to believe there is not life outside of Earth or that such life is rare.

  11. Ms. O’Leary,

    The commenter has doubtless offered himself an award for cleverness so I won’t go there, and will only say that his is an interesting attempt to deflect discussion from genuine issues:

    Uh… thank you?

    …Such evidence as we have suggests that complex life in the galaxy is rare….Granted, we do not have enough evidence….

    Well, your previous post argued that aliens probably don’t exist; now it seems you’re saying maybe they do but they are “rare”, or maybe nobody knows if they exist or not. Whatever :-)

    2. Intelligent design is about recognition of patterns that, so far as we know require a high level of information, typically associated with an intelligence. Extrapolations about the nature of the intelligence involve additional assumptions (theism, pantheism, the Way, etc., and—off the beaten track—advanced space aliens). These assumptions are interesting but they take us off the immediate topic, a specific manifestation of that intelligence.

    Well, the “immediate topic” of ID is whether or not some intelligent being(s) created life on Earth. Your previous post argued that we have no evidence for the existence of any other intelligent beings except Earthly organisms, which would make it unlikely that the central claim of ID is true.

    The only widely accepted alternative is a Ponzi scheme known as neo-Darwinism…

    I don’t believe neo-Darwinism (or any other theory) accounts for life on Earth, so this really is off-topic.

    3. Discussion of all these issues is vitiated by underlying assumptions such as the Copernican Principle, whereby Earth must be a usual and normal planet, when all reason and evidence suggest otherwise. And by the undisguised dislike many cosmologists feel for the Big Bang, which accounts well enough for the evidence but violates their beliefs about what the universe should be like. Sorry guys, next universe over might suit you better. Check it out.

    Huh?

    One problem right now is that most science writers see their job as purveying these attitudes, assumptions, values, prejudices, and beliefs to the public, all of which I think are overdue for a challenge.

    You began by criticizing my comment about ID, but (in a style of exposition very much like Sarah Palin) you seem to have wandered pretty far afield, into evolutionary biology, cosmology, and now journalism.
    Anyway, I will repeat my observation: Despite a concerted effort to find any sign of intelligence in the universe besides ourselves, there is no evidence that any such thing exists. This does not preclude the possibility that something intelligent existed somewhere, at some point in time, and created life on Earth, but if we believe your own argument in your previous post, it does make it far less likely.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  12. RDF,

    The flaw in your argument has been repeatedly pointed out to you. Your determination to cling to it anyway must be emotional.

  13. Hi, UB,

    The flaw in your argument has been repeatedly pointed out to you. Your determination to cling to it anyway must be emotional.

    Hahahahaha! I’ve never made this argument before, so your suggestion that anyone has pointed out some “flaw” is very funny. Your delusions must be emotional, or perhaps theological.

    (It’s even funnier since the last argument I made here was never rebutted either of course, unless you are one of those who want to argue that people can design things without using their brains).

    Here again is the argument I’ve made here in response to O’Leary’s previous post:

    Despite a concerted effort to find any sign of intelligence in the universe besides ourselves, there is no evidence that any such thing exists. This does not preclude the possibility that something intelligent existed somewhere, at some point in time, and created life on Earth, but if we believe your own argument in your previous post, it does make it far less likely.

    If you can point out some flaw in my argument, please do so!

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  14. RDFish:

    …the last argument I made here was never rebutted either of course, unless you are one of those who want to argue that people can design things without using their brains).

    You didn’t explain why using brains (containing FSCI) to design things invalidates ID’s paradigm. To be more precise, you didn’t explain why, in the context of a design inference, the FSCI (in brains) cannot logically and legitimately precede the FSCI in the artifact. To expose the fact that you had no argument is to rebut the argument.

  15. I’ve never made this argument before, so your suggestion that anyone has pointed out some “flaw” is very funny. Your delusions must be emotional, or perhaps theological.

    This is little more than a rehash of your previous argument, which was wholly undermined by a simple observation. You avoided responding to that observation, and instead, continued on as if nothing had happened.

    Unfortunately, no one is obligated to ignore valid observations just because you choose to. Perhaps you can understand this.

    - – - – - – - – - –

    Your entire argument (in a nutshell) is that it is completely fine to draw an inference to design from what we now universally know about modern biology (i.e. our “universal experience”). But, since our universal experience does not include any available designers at the origin of terrestrial life, then our good theory quickly becomes a bad, unsupported theory. Here are your own words:

    RDF:

    Empirical fact A: We do not observe mechanism arising without intelligent action

    Empirical fact B: We do not observe intelligent action arising without mechanism

    The problem now is the same as it was then; here is a simple example:

    >> What happened to the reclusive man?

    He was found dead in his home with a knife in the middle of his back

    >>But he was a recluse, no one has ever seen anyone come or go?!

    That’s completely true, so we may never know why he stabbed himself in the back.

    Clearly, the second observation does not alter the validity of the prior observation.

    Not being able to point to the designer of terrestrial life does nothing whatsoever to alter our universal observation that information embedded within a dimensional semiotic code only occurs from intelligent input. In our previous exchange, I commented that “Neither you, nor anyone else, can demonstrate the existence of a dimensional semiotic code that is not also the product of intelligent input.” You agreed to that comment without reservation, and indeed, physical analysis tells us that the only instances we know of where such material conditions present themselves are during a) language, b) mathmatics, and c) protein synthesis.

    You failed to demonstrate how not being able to identify a designer altered this observation.

  16. Hi StephenB,

    You didn’t explain why using brains (containing FSCI) to design things invalidates ID’s paradigm. To be more precise, you didn’t explain why, in the context of a design inference, the FSCI (in brains) cannot logically and legitimately precede the FSCI in the artifact. To expose the fact that you had no argument is to rebut the argument.

    Let’s take it one step at a time, then. Do you agree, to start, that if ID is to be consistent with (and derive from) our empirical knowledge, ID must posit that biological systems were likely designed by some complex physical organism(s) rather than some disembodied spirit(s)?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  17. Hi UprightBiPed,

    This is little more than a rehash of your previous argument…

    No, you’re wrong. It is a new argument. This one says:

    IF Denyse is correct in her reasoning that extra-terrestrial intelligence probably does not exist
    THEN ID is probably false

    Nobody has found any fault with this argument.

    Now, if you’d like, I can move on to explain why you’re wrong about my previous argument dealing with intelligence and brains.

    >> What happened to the reclusive man?
    He was found dead in his home with a knife in the middle of his back
    >>But he was a recluse, no one has ever seen anyone come or go?!
    That’s completely true, so we may never know why he stabbed himself in the back.

    What a weird argument. You are terribly confused. Why would you assume he stabbed himself in the back? Maybe he fell on his knife!

    So THAT is your killer rebuttal to my argument? HAHAHAHAHAhahahahaha ahem. Keep working, UB :-)

    In our previous exchange, I commented that “Neither you, nor anyone else, can demonstrate the existence of a dimensional semiotic code that is not also the product of intelligent input.”

    And neither you, nor anyone else, can demonstrate the existence of intelligent input that is not also the product of a CSI-rich mechanism.

    You haven’t even touched my argument, UB.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  18. Oct 22nd

    UB: Neither you, nor anyone else, can demonstrate the existence of a dimensional semiotic code that is not also the product of intelligent input.

    RDF: Yes, and I agree

    . . . .

    Nov 15th

    UB: You failed to demonstrate how not being able to identify a designer alters this observation.

    RDF: You haven’t even touched my argument, UB.

    Will I have to wait long before you tell me how it alters the observation?

  19. Hi RD

    You write,

    Let’s take it one step at a time, then. Do you agree, to start, that if ID is to be consistent with (and derive from) our empirical knowledge, ID must posit that biological systems were likely designed by some complex physical organism(s) rather than some disembodied spirit(s)?

    No. Your then does not follow from your if. Do you have an argument that would justify such a proposition?

    Peace!

  20. Hi UB,

    You failed to demonstrate how not being able to identify a designer alters this observation.

    I don’t know what you are talking about. First, what is this “identity” of which you speak? Do you mean a name? Address? Social Security number? We’re not talking about identities here, UB! We’re talking about what is the cause of biological systems. You have no idea, and neither do I.

    What I do know is that the “intelligent input” that you speak of is invariably associated with exactly the thing ID attempts to explain – complex physical mechanism. And nothing you have said contradicts this.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  21. Hi StephenB,

    RDF: if ID is to be consistent with (and derive from) our empirical knowledge, ID must posit that biological systems were likely designed by some complex physical organism(s) rather than some disembodied spirit(s)?

    SB: No. Your then does not follow from your if. Do you have an argument that would justify such a proposition?

    Not an argument, Stephen, just our shared experience of designers, who are invariably complex physical organisms of course. To imagine something could design anything without using complex physical mechanism to store and process information simply runs counter to our empirical knowledge.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  22. RDFish

    Not an argument, Stephen, just our shared experience of designers, who are invariably complex physical organisms of course.

    Yes, it is an argument and it is your argument. (IF ID is to be consistent with (and derive from) our empirical knowledge, THEN ID must also posit that biological systems were likely designed by some complex physical organism(s) rather than some disembodied spirit(s)?)

    Your THEN does not follow from your IF. The argument cannot be rationally justified.

    To imagine something could design anything without using complex physical mechanism to store and process information simply runs counter to our empirical knowledge.

    That is another argument (IF something was designed, THEN (according to our experience) a complex mechanism is required). This second argument is much easier to justify than the first argument, but it is irrelevant to ID because it doesn’t speak to the subject of causation.

    My question persists: How do you justify the first argument?

  23. RD to UB

    What I do know is that the “intelligent input” that you speak of is invariably associated with exactly the thing ID attempts to explain – complex physical mechanisms.

    So what? How is the inference to design compromised by this “association” (whatever that means). What is your argument?

  24. RDFish #20:

    What I do know is that the “intelligent input” that you speak of is invariably associated with exactly the thing ID attempts to explain – complex physical mechanism.

    No, intelligence is invariably associated with consciousness. The question what constitutes consciousness is highly debated of course. “Complex physical mechanism” is just one possible answer and is based on naturalistic belief.

  25. Upright BiPed:

    This is little more than a rehash of your previous argument

    RDFish:

    No, you’re wrong. It is a new argument. This one says:

    IF Denyse is correct in her reasoning that extra-terrestrial intelligence probably does not exist
    THEN ID is probably false

    It has the same fault as your previous argument, It’s a non-sequitur.

    Nobody has found any fault with this argument.

    It’s not an argument, so no wonder.

  26. Hi StephenB,

    Yes, it is an argument and it is your argument.

    Very well then. I say that we observe that all designers require complex physical mechanism in order to design, and you say that this is not an observation, but rather an argument. We will disagree on this point.

    But whether you think this is an argument or an observation, the question remains: Do you agree that our empirical evidence of designers indicates that all design activity requires complex physical mechanism?

    My question persists: How do you justify the first argument?

    Well, because we each encounter many designers in our experience, and each and every one of them without exception requires the use of complex physical mechanism in order to design anything, and also our knowledge of information processing indicates that complex physical mechanisms are required to store and process information. Therefore, any sort of intelligent being that ID would suggest as the designer of life would require a complex physical mechanism in order to accomplish their designs.

    RDF: What I do know is that the “intelligent input” that you speak of is invariably associated with exactly the thing ID attempts to explain – complex physical mechanisms.
    SB: So what? How is the inference to design compromised by this “association” (whatever that means)

    By “association” I mean just what I’ve explained here: designers invariably require the use of complex physical mechanism in order to design anything, and also our understanding of information processing confirms that it requires complex physical mechanism.

    My argument currently is that this empirical fact is inconsistent with any hypothesis that involves a being capable of designing things that did not itself require the use of complex physical mechanisms.

    If you agree with this, then we can explore the implications of this conclusion. If you disagree, we can explore what reason you think we have to believe that – contrary to our experience – designers might be able to design things without a complex mechanism to store and process information.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  27. Hi Box,

    RDF: What I do know is that the “intelligent input” that you speak of is invariably associated with exactly the thing ID attempts to explain – complex physical mechanism.
    BOX: No, intelligence is invariably associated with consciousness.

    You’ve made two different errors here. First, unless you provide evidence to the contrary, every designer in our experience is demonstrably reliant upon complex physical mechanism (e.g. a human brain) in order to design anything. Second, people exhibit intelligent behaviors quite routinely without conscious awareness of what they are doing.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  28. RDFish

    Do you agree that our empirical evidence of designers indicates that all design activity requires complex physical mechanism?

    I can grant that proposition for the sake of argument, but it is a trivial and meaningless observation. Design activity also requires food, air, water, space, time, and countless other factors, but none of these necessary conditions have anything to do with causation or the inference to the best explanation.

    Well, because we each encounter many designers in our experience, and each and every one of them without exception requires the use of complex physical mechanism in order to design anything, and also our knowledge of information processing indicates that complex physical mechanisms are required to store and process information. Therefore, any sort of intelligent being that ID would suggest as the designer of life would require a complex physical mechanism in order to accomplish their designs.

    No, it would not. We observe intelligence as a cause, but we do not observe complex mechanisms as a cause, even if the latter is said to be required for the cause to operate. For the same reason we do not consider air, water, or food as causes simply because these elements are also necessary for the cause to operate. None of these requirements are causally adequate for producing complex mechanisms, so we cannot legitimately draw inferences about their historical role.

    Only those things that are known to be causally adequate in the present may be considered as potential causes from the past. Intelligence is known to be causally adequate for producing complex mechanisms and is, therefore, the only thing that may be considered as a candidate for being the cause of biological design. Such things as complex mechanisms, air, water, food, space, and time, even if necessary, do not qualify as factors for inferential reasoning in the context of historical science.

    My argument currently is that this empirical fact is inconsistent with any hypothesis that involves a being capable of designing things that did not itself require the use of complex physical mechanisms.

    I have shown why this observation is trivial and irrelevant.

  29. UB: Neither you, nor anyone else, can demonstrate the existence of a dimensional semiotic code that is not also the product of intelligent input.

    RDF: Yes, and I agree

    UB: You failed to demonstrate how not being able to identify a designer alters this observation.

    RDF: I don’t know what you are talking about. First, what is this “identity” of which you speak? Do you mean a name? Address? Social Security number?

    Let’s cut past the silliness, RDF, you’ve avoided this issue long enough:

    a) no one can demonstrate a dimensional semiotic code that is not also the product of an intelligent agent.

    b) we cannot identify an intelligent agent at life’s origin.

    How does the second observation alter the first?

  30. RDFish #20: What I do know is that the “intelligent input” that you speak of is invariably associated with exactly the thing ID attempts to explain – complex physical mechanism.

    BOX #24: No, intelligence is invariably associated with consciousness.

    RDFish #27: You’ve made two different errors here. First, unless you provide evidence to the contrary, every designer in our experience is demonstrably reliant upon complex physical mechanism (e.g. a human brain) in order to design anything.

    You are confused. What you claim to be non-controversial is in fact very much so. Many philosophers hold that consciousness and reason cannot be explained by material processes (including your complex physical mechanism) – see the ‘argument from reason’.

    RDFish #27: Second, people exhibit intelligent behaviors quite routinely without conscious awareness of what they are doing.

    This observation doesn’t exclude consciousness as the source of intelligence. One could argue that intelligent behaviour without conscious awareness originates from tedious conscious (learning) behavior in the past – e.g. a piano player. Secondly ‘intelligent’ behavior in animals can arguably be traced back to the conscious mind of the designer. Lastly one could argue for the existence of consciousness without self-consciousness.

  31. Hi StephenB,

    RDF: Do you agree that our empirical evidence of designers indicates that all design activity requires complex physical mechanism?
    SB: I can grant that proposition for the sake of argument, but it is a trivial and meaningless observation.

    I understand you think it is a trivial observation, but I don’t think you mean it is literally meaningless, right? In other words, you do understand the proposition – you just don’t think it is relevant to ID. Moreover, you grant this proposition but only arguendo – does that mean that you have some reservations about the truth of this statement per se?

    Design activity also requires food, air, water, space, time, and countless other factors…

    Food, air, and water are clearly not relevant to information processing. In contrast, space, time, matter, energy, and complex physical states are. These are not irrelevant or incidental factors; everything we understand about information processing derives from these very concepts, and we cannot begin to understand how information could be stored or processed without them.

    RDF: Therefore, any sort of intelligent being that ID would suggest as the designer of life would require a complex physical mechanism in order to accomplish their designs.
    SB: No, it would not. We observe intelligence as a cause, but we do not observe complex mechanisms as a cause, even if the latter is said to be required for the cause to operate.

    And you are thereby committing the fallacy of reification. Intelligence is a property of certain entities, not a thing in itself. Intelligence is not a thing, or a cause, or a force – it is not something that can be separated from that which exhibits it. Like athleticism or beauty or courage, intelligence is a descriptive term that is applied to various beings, but it is not the being itself. When a soldier performs a heroic act, it was the human being, rather than courage, that performed the deed. And when a genius figures out a new scientific result, it is the human being, rather than intelligence, that produces the result.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  32. Hi UprightBiPed,

    Let’s cut past the silliness, RDF

    Yes, by all means! Out with the silliness!

    a) no one can demonstrate a dimensional semiotic code that is not also the product of an intelligent agent.

    If one defines “intelligent agent” as “something that can demonstrate a dimensional semiotic code”, then this statement is a mere tautology. So clearly you mean something else by “intelligent agent”, right? Would you be so kind as to clarify precisely what it is you mean by “intelligent agent” in that sentence, and how we can empirically ascertain what is and what is not an “intelligent agent”?

    b) we cannot identify an intelligent agent at life’s origin.
    How does the second observation alter the first?

    It is unlikely that an intelligent agent could possibly have been the cause of the very first complex functional mechanisms, since nothing exhibits intelligent behaviors unless it can store and process information, which requires complex functional mechanisms.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  33. Hi Box,

    Everything you said was wrong, but I don’t think it will help to go over it. Instead, I’ll just focus on this, which I find pretty amusing:

    Secondly ‘intelligent’ behavior in animals can arguably be traced back to the conscious mind of the designer.

    Can you see that begged the question?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  34. RDF,

    Would you be so kind as to clarify precisely what it is you mean by “intelligent agent”

    There was never any doubt that you’d run for the weeds.

    What do I mean by “intelligent”?

    I mean the same thing you meant here:

    UB: Neither you, nor anyone else, can demonstrate the existence of a dimensional semiotic code that is not also the product of intelligent input.

    RDF: Yes, and I agree

    Of course, you conversing in the same terms yourself without definitonal problems will mean nothing to you. Even when you use the exact same term in the very next sentence, such as:

    It is unlikely that an intelligent agent could possibly have been the cause…

    It will mean nothing, because intellectual pursuits such as consistency and/or integrity are not at issue in the defense of your argument.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - –

    Here is the answer to the question you have been avoiding:

    Not being able to identify an agent at the point of life’s origin does nothing whatsoever to diminish the universal observation that all semiotic system rise from the an act of an intelligent agent.

    Your argument is invalid.

  35. RDFish #33,

    RDFish #33: Hi Box, Everything you said was wrong, (…)

    In post #30 I have conveyed to you that – contrary to your belief – many philosophers hold that consciousness and reason cannot be explained by material processes. This should be common knowledge. Reading your reply (post #33) which states that this and other things I said is ‘wrong’ is a rather worrying experience. Are you ok?

    Box #30: Secondly ‘intelligent’ behavior in animals can arguably be traced back to the conscious mind of the designer.
    RDFish #33: Can you see that begged the question?

    There seems to be a great deal of interference in our communication … Do you still have a grasp of the context of our little discussion? And do you even understand what ‘begging the question’ means?

  36. RDF,

    Would you be so kind as to clarify precisely what it is you mean by “intelligent agent”

    There was never any doubt that you’d run for the weeds.

    What do I mean by “intelligent”?

    I mean the same thing you meant here:

    UB: Neither you, nor anyone else, can demonstrate the existence of a dimensional semiotic code that is not also the product of intelligent input.

    RDF: Yes, and I agree

    Of course, you conversing in the same terms yourself without definitonal problems will mean nothing to you. Even when you use the exact same term in the very next sentence, such as:

    It is unlikely that an intelligent agent could possibly have been the cause…

    It will mean nothing, because intellectual pursuits such as consistency and/or integrity are not at issue in the defense of your argument.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - –

    Here is the answer to the question you have been avoiding:

    Not being able to identify an agent at the point of life’s origin does nothing whatsoever to diminish the universal observation that all semiotic system rise from the an act of an intelligent agent.

  37. StephenB,

    I know you’ll appreciate this:

    RDF has been avoiding a particular question because the answer to that question empties his latest anti-ID argument.

    In his last attempt to skirt the question (comment #32), instead of answering the question, he asks me to define a term that he himself uses in his very next sentence in order to make a claim of truth.

    Ya gotta love that.

    (…and whereas having such intellectual inconsistency pointed out to the average person would probably embarrass them into altering their course of action – to RDF it will mean absolutely nothing).

  38. (sorry about the accidental double-post at 34 and 36)

  39. RDFish

    I understand you think it is a trivial observation, but I don’t think you mean it is literally meaningless, right? In other words, you do understand the proposition – you just don’t think it is relevant to ID. Moreover, you grant this proposition but only arguendo – does that mean that you have some reservations about the truth of this statement per se?

    It is not trivial in the absolute sense, but it is trivial with respect to the search for causes. While the faculty of human intelligence must, it seems, work in concert with the organ of the brain as long as humans are a composite of a material body and an immaterial rational soul, it doesn’t follow that the immaterial rational soul cannot operate outside the body. On the contrary, since an immaterial soul must, by definition, live forever, and since the brain will clearly die, it follows that the mind is even more essential than the brain. Further, it seems more likely that the mind’s capacity to think is the cause and the brains capacity to process thought is an effect. In that sense, it is highly misleading to say, without stringent qualification, that the mind “depends” on the complex mechanism of the brain. Still, I would prefer to avoid those metaphysical distraction and focus on ID and causes.

    SB: Design activity also requires food, air, water, space, time, and countless other factors…

    Food, air, and water are clearly not relevant to information processing.

    On the contrary. All those elements are essential to information processing. Without any of these factors, humans (or even animals) cannot process information or design anything. I realize that this is a trivial observation, but I am simply following your own trivial observation to the effect that intelligent agents depend on complex mechanisms. None of this has anything to do with ID or the search for causes. ID is about identifying causes, not dependencies, which are irrelevant. You have yet to provide an argument on behalf of the proposition that dependencies are relevant to ID or the search for causes.

    In contrast, space, time, matter, energy, and complex physical states are. [essential to processing information]

    Precisely. Therefore, by your logic, ID proponents should inject all of these factors into its paradigm and they are being disingenuous if they leave them out. Indeed, I could make the case that you were being disingenuous when you left them out and focused solely on complex mechanisms. Obviously, all these claims are ridiculous since neither complex mechanisms, air, food, water, space, time, energy or a million other dependency factors are relevant to the search for causes. You continue to evade that point.

    RDF: Therefore, any sort of intelligent being that ID would suggest as the designer of life would require a complex physical mechanism in order to accomplish their designs.

    SB: No, it would not. We observe intelligence as a cause, but we do not observe complex mechanisms as a cause, even if the latter is said to be required for the cause to operate.

    And you are thereby committing the fallacy of reification.

    Intelligence, like virtue, is a capacity, and capacities are real things, albeit immaterial things. One must possess the capacity of intelligence to demonstrate intelligence; one must possess the virtue of courage to act virtuous. One cannot possess something that doesn’t exist.
    Either way, you are emphasizing the positive component (what can be a cause) and ignoring the negative component (what cannot be a cause). We do not observe complex mechanisms as a cause. If you believe otherwise, explain how, when, and where complex mechanisms have been observed to cause anything.

  40. Hi UprightBiPed,

    RDF: Would you be so kind as to clarify precisely what it is you mean by “intelligent agent”
    UBP: There was never any doubt that you’d run for the weeds.

    Only an Intelligent Design proponent would respond like this to a polite request for a clear definition of a technical term. You refuse to provide a definition for the sole explanatory concept of your “theory of everything”.

    If you’d like me to define any term that I’ve used – including “intelligence” – simply ask and I will be more than happy to provide you with a specific definition. That is because I happen to understand what I’m talking about. You, on the other hand, are unable to define the central term of your understanding of everything. Kind of a crazy joke, really.

    Since you can’t even say what it is you are suggesting is responsible for creating the universe, life, and everything, there doesn’t seem to be much point continuing. If someday you are able to articulate what it is you’re talking about, we can resume our debate!

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  41. Hi Box,

    In post #30 I have conveyed to you that – contrary to your belief – many philosophers hold that consciousness and reason cannot be explained by material processes.

    You are beyond ridiculous – of course many philosophers believe this… and (when it comes to consciousness) I AM AMONG THEM. Where in the world did you ever get the idea that I thought consciousness can be explained by any known process? Jeesh.

    And do you even understand what ‘begging the question’ means?

    Very well, I shall explain this to you, since you are apparently clueless on the matter. “Begging the question” means that you have assumed what you are attempting to argue for. You are arguing that some conscious entity designed living things. I point out that not all intelligent behavior (e.g. some animal behavior) is necessarily associated with conscious awareness. You attempt to rebut the point by assuming your conclusion – that these animals were designed by a conscious entity.

    You are not very good at this I’m afraid.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  42. Hi StephenB,

    While the faculty of human intelligence must, it seems, work in concert with the organ of the brain as long as humans are a composite of a material body and an immaterial rational soul, it doesn’t follow that the immaterial rational soul cannot operate outside the body.

    I have no experience of anything outside a body that can design anything. Are you claiming that you have empirical evidence that such a thing exists? Does this form the basis of your rebuttal to my argument?

    Further, it seems more likely that the mind’s capacity to think is the cause and the brains capacity to process thought is an effect.

    I think this is utter nonsense. But I will simply ask again: Do you, or do you not, claim that there is empirical evidence that anything can design anything without complex physical mechanism?

    SB: Design activity also requires food, air, water, space, time, and countless other factors…
    RDF: Food, air, and water are clearly not relevant to information processing.
    SB: On the contrary. All those elements are essential to information processing. Without any of these factors, humans (or even animals) cannot process information or design anything.

    You are wrong on a two counts I’m afraid. First, I myself can easily process information without food, air, or water. Hold on for a few seconds and I’ll demonstrate: I am typing this sentence whilst holding my breath and refraining from eating and drinking! More seriously, of course, our understanding of how information is stored and processes has nothing whatsoever to do with food, air, and water. And quite obviously computers process information and produce novel designs without food, air, or water. These are very obvious points, Stephen.

    RDF: In contrast, space, time, matter, energy, and complex physical states are. [essential to processing information]
    SB: Precisely. Therefore, by your logic, ID proponents should inject all of these factors into its paradigm and they are being disingenuous if they leave them out.

    Nobody needs to “inject” anything into any “paradigm”. I’m simply asking if you agree that our empirical evidence of designers indicates that all design activity requires complex physical mechanism? So far, you are apparently unwilling to concede that this is the case, although you have failed to point to specific empirical evidence that contradicts our normal experience of embodied designers and supports your position.

    RDF: And you are thereby committing the fallacy of reification.
    SB: Intelligence, like virtue, is a capacity, and capacities are real things, albeit immaterial things.

    I think you’ve jumped the shark here. You are actually arguing that all of these traits and attributes – courage, beauty, humor, generosity, laziness, and so on – are real things that have causal properties. And you’re serious? So when we say “Curiosity killed the cat” you interpret this to mean that some immaterial thing killed a cat, rather than assuming the cat was curious and so exhibited some behavior that got it killed? You are really amazing me here :-)

    We do not observe complex mechanisms as a cause. If you believe otherwise, explain how, when, and where complex mechanisms have been observed to cause anything.

    Hopefully we can avoid descending into an infinite loop about causality here, and hopefully you can at least see that complex mechanisms have all sorts of causal properties in the world. The timer is a complex mechanism, and it causes the bomb to go off. The fuel injector causes the gasoline to squirt into the cylinders. And so on.

    Curiosity is just a descriptive trait about certain animals and people. It isn’t a thing, and it has no causal properties in and of itself.

    Just think about this, please: When a soldier performs a heroic act, it was the human being, rather than courage, that performed the deed. And when a genius figures out a new scientific result, it is the human being, rather than intelligence, that produces the result.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  43. Upright Biped @37,

    It seems to me that your question is a fair one and deserves a straight answer.

  44. Stephen B:

    It seems to me that your question is a fair one and deserves a straight answer.

    Did you spot UB’s question amidst all the snark? I’m having difficulty locating it.

    Can you link or quote it?

  45. RDF #40,

    There is no need to wonder what I meant by the term “intelligent agent” – I meant exactly the same thing you did when you claimed (earlier today on this very thread) that “It is unlikely that an intelligent agent could possibly have been the cause of the very first complex functional mechanisms”.

    Given the statements recorded on this thread, openly available for anyone to see…What could possibly be true here:

    a) Did you not know what you meant when you used the identical term in the same indentical context?

    b) Are you asking me to define a term in order to continue to avoid answering the question being asked?

    c) Is this yet another instance where terms can be used without problem to attack ID, but not to support it?

    Which is it RDF?

  46. The question which RDF has steadfastly refused to answer:

    a) no one can demonstrate a dimensional semiotic code that is not also the product of an intelligent agent.

    b) we cannot identify an intelligent agent at life’s origin.

    How does the second observation alter the first?

    The reason he refuses to enagage the question is because the answer evicerates his current anti-ID argument of any meaning.

  47. RDF dutifully represents the core of internet ID critics:

    Make a claim, start running, let nothing stop you … least of all, intellectual integrity.

  48. Hi Upright Biped,

    There is no need to wonder what I meant by the term “intelligent agent” – I meant exactly the same thing you did when you claimed (earlier today on this very thread) that “It is unlikely that an intelligent agent could possibly have been the cause of the very first complex functional mechanisms”.

    Splendid! Since I believe that the referents of “intelligent agent” and “biological organism” are entirely coextensive, I shall simply use “biological organism” as the definition of “intelligent agent” in the present context. If you would like me to then define “biological organism” I will happily provide a technical definition for that term as well.

    If you believe this definition is not suited to the present context, you are of course free to offer your own definition and we can use that. Otherwise, using the definition I’ve provided, my point is obviously true: The first biological organism cannot logically have been caused by an intelligent agent.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  49. Hi UB,

    The reason he refuses to enagage the question is because the answer evicerates his current anti-ID argument of any meaning.

    You are utterly delusional.

    I have answered your question repeatedly of course: If intelligent agents are complex organisms, then the first complex organism cannot have been caused by an intelligent agent. If you think intelligent agents can be something other than complex organisms, then tell me what they are, and how you know they exist.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  50. I have answered your question repeatedly of course: If intelligent agents are complex organisms, then the first complex organism cannot have been caused by an intelligent agent. If you think intelligent agents can be something other than complex organisms, then tell me what they are, and how you know they exist.

    This is not the question. Let me post it for you again:

    a) no one can demonstrate a dimensional semiotic code that is not also the product of an intelligent agent.

    b) we cannot identify an intelligent agent at life’s origin.

    How does the second observation alter the first?

  51. RDFish #44,

    Box: In post #30: I have conveyed to you that – contrary to your belief – many philosophers hold that consciousness and reason cannot be explained by material processes.

    RDFish #44: (…) of course many philosophers believe this… and (when it comes to consciousness) I AM AMONG THEM. (…).

    Good to see that you now retract your earlier statement (post #33) that I was wrong about this. You got me worried about your mental health for a moment.
    How about reason – the cradle of information and design – do you hold that it can be explained by material processes?

    Box #35: And do you even understand what ‘begging the question’ means?

    RDFish #44: Very well, I shall explain this to you, since you are apparently clueless on the matter. “Begging the question” means that you have assumed what you are attempting to argue for. You are arguing that some conscious entity designed living things. I point out that not all intelligent behavior (e.g. some animal behavior) is necessarily associated with conscious awareness. You attempt to rebut the point by assuming your conclusion – that these animals were designed by a conscious entity.

    No, I was pointing out that your observation – intelligent behaviour without self-awareness – does not exclude the possibility that consciousness is involved, because (in the case of intelligent behavior in animals) one can argue that it can be traced back to the consciousness of the designer; (see post #30). What I did you show you was that your argument does not convincingly constitute that intelligent behavior and consciousness can be unrelated.
    I did so not by implicitly assuming a consciousness designer of animals in an alleged conclusion, but by presenting her/him as a possibility which restores the relationship between intelligence and consciousness.
    Can you see the difference?

  52. Hi Upright Biped,

    This is not the question. Let me post it for you again:
    a) no one can demonstrate a dimensional semiotic code that is not also the product of an intelligent agent.
    b) we cannot identify an intelligent agent at life’s origin.
    How does the second observation alter the first?

    As I have explained to you over and over again, nobody is talking about “identifying an intelligent agent”.

    I am not claiming that there is some problem in “identifying” some “intelligent agent”.

    Rather, I am pointing out that depending upon one’s definition of “intelligent agent”, it is either logically impossible or empirically improbable that an “intelligent agent” could be the cause of biological systems.

    Try harder or give up, but don’t just keep repeating the same nonsense.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  53. Hi Box,

    How about reason – the cradle of information and design – do you hold that it can be explained by material processes?

    First, as I’ve explained many times on this forum, I believe that the concept of materialism itself is quite confused. While most people seem to consider “material processes” to be something like “particles bouncing into each other in the void”, no educated person has believed that this accurately represents physical reality for around 100 years.

    Second, there are obviously many aspects of what we call “reasoning” that are demonstrably algorithmic – most notably logico-mathematical reasoning of course. And obviously anything algorithmic can be explained by (reduced to) familiar processes that underlie information processing. It is an open question, however, whether or not all reasoning is likewise algorithmic. My own personal opinion – my hunch – is that physics that we do not currently understand is involved in some aspects of human thought (people like Roger Penrose share this opinion). I am not interested in debating the truth of this however.

    No, I was pointing out that your observation – intelligent behaviour without self-awareness …

    The observation I am pointing out is that intelligent behavior cannot arise without complex physical mechanism. I am happy to agree to disagree with you regarding the connection between consciousness and intelligent behavior.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  54. RDF,

    As I have explained to you over and over again, nobody is talking about “identifying an intelligent agent”.

    RDF, have you forgotten your own argument? You’ve argued that it is all fine and good for ID theorists to make an inference from our universal experience that all CSI systems rise from intelligent activity, but ID fails as science because it ID posits intelligent activity from an agent outside our universal experience. The lack of evidence for such an agent (ID’s inability to identify such an agent) is specifically what you suggest ID must provide in order to be taken seriously as a science. You then go on to chide ID proponents specifically for not identifying this agent.

    RDF: ID can’t propose exactly what we observe to be the cause of CSI in other contexts as the explanation of CSI in biological systems. Rather, ID hypothesizes the existence of something else – something completely outside of our uniform and repeated experience of intelligent agency. ID hypothesizes something that is not itself a complex biological system but somehow has the same sorts of abilities that we do (i.e. the engineering and construction of complex mechanisms)

    In order for ID to be taken seriously as a scientific project, then, it must provide good empirical evidence that such a thing exists, or has existed in the past, or at the very least that such a thing is possible in principle. Nobody ever attempts to provide such evidence, which is why ID is a non-starter as a science.

    So, my question to you stands just as before:

    a) no one can demonstrate a dimensional semiotic code that is not also the product of an intelligent agent.

    b) we cannot identify an intelligent agent at life’s origin.

    How does the second observation alter the first?

    Why don’t you set aside the manuevering and avoidance, and just answer the question with the same forthrightness you used to make your original claims?

  55. RDFish #55: My own personal opinion – my hunch – is that physics that we do not currently understand is involved in some aspects of human thought (..)

    ‘Own personal opinion’, ‘hunch’, hmm… so I take it that you are not claiming that our uniform and repeated experience informs us that we think with our brain? Hence you are not claiming that according to our uniform and repeated experience human thought depends on brain?

  56. RDF

    I have no experience of anything outside a body that can design anything. Are you claiming that you have empirical evidence that such a thing exists? Does this form the basis of your rebuttal to my argument?

    Yes, I have such evidence. However, I agreed to withhold that element and argue on the basis that your premise was valid. So, no, it does not form the basis of my rebuttal. I have no need of it.

    SB Further, it seems more likely that the mind’s capacity to think is the cause and the brains capacity to process thought is an effect.

    I think this is utter nonsense.

    You are pretty much alone since the whole history of Western Thought is against you. Only materialsts think that the brain leads the mind.

    But I will simply ask again: Do you, or do you not, claim that there is empirical evidence that anything can design anything without complex physical mechanism?

    Yes. There is evidence. However, you will recall that I have agreed to grant arguendo that humans require complex mechanisms in order to design artifacts, so that we can analyze the flawed argument that proceeds from your premise.

    SB: On the contrary. All those elements are essential to information processing. Without any of these factors, humans (or even animals) cannot process information or design anything.

    You are wrong on a two counts I’m afraid. First, I myself can easily process information without food, air, or water.

    No, in fact, you cannot. Without an inventory of air, food, or water, you would be dead and could not, therefore, design anything. You are totally dependent on all three elements. That you may not be breathing or eating at the moment is irrelevant since you are living off the capital of stored food and stored air.

    More seriously, of course, our understanding of how information is stored and processes has nothing whatsoever to do with food, air, and water. And quite obviously computers process information and produce novel designs without food, air, or water. These are very obvious points, Stephen.

    You are obviously wrong. Without air or food, your brain will store nothing and cannot participate in a creative act because it will not be operating.

    SB: Precisely. Therefore, by your logic, ID proponents should inject all of these factors into its paradigm and they are being disingenuous if they leave them out.

    Nobody needs to “inject” anything into any “paradigm”.

    On the contrary, it has been your argument all along that ID proponents are disingenuous for failing to to include irrelevant dependency factors such as the mind’s “dependency” on the brain. This is your gig. If you don’t like it, you shouldn’t be playing it. Indeed, it is your whole schtick.

    So now you need to explain why you left out space and energy in your criticism of ID, since you have conceded that the design inference requires both. Why did you not complain that the ID paradigm ignores its dependency on space and time just as it ignores its dependency on brains?

    I’m simply asking if you agree that our empirical evidence of designers indicates that all design activity requires complex physical mechanism? So far, you are apparently unwilling to concede that this is the case, although you have failed to point to specific empirical evidence that contradicts our normal experience of embodied designers and supports your position.

    Obviously, that is an untrue statement since I granted the point arguendo, precisely because I didn’t want you to use it as a strawman when your other argument failed, which is exactly what is happening.

    SB: Intelligence, like virtue, is a capacity, and capacities are real things, albeit immaterial things.

    You are actually arguing that all of these traits and attributes – courage, beauty, humor, generosity, laziness, and so on – are real things that have causal properties.

    I was simply correcting your error when you said that intelligence and virtue do not exist. On the subject of causation, intelligence is clearly a cause, as Plato and Aristotle explained over 2000 years ago. Recall the Art, Nature, Chance trichotomy. Did you not know that a things form, which is immaterial, is a cause? Did you not know that a things end, which is immaterial, is a cause? There are many causes other than efficient causes.

    SB: We do not observe complex mechanisms as a cause. If you believe otherwise, explain how, when, and where complex mechanisms have been observed to cause anything.

    Hopefully we can avoid descending into an infinite loop about causality here, and hopefully you can at least see that complex mechanisms have all sorts of causal properties in the world.

    The point is that you have never observed a complex mechanism causing anything because causation cannot be observed. It can only be inferred. Only sequences of events can be observed. You cannot, therefore, say that we observe complex mechanisms causing things to happen.

    Just think about this, please: When a soldier performs a heroic act, it was the human being, rather than courage, that performed the deed. And when a genius figures out a new scientific result, it is the human being, rather than intelligence, that produces the result.

    It is not quite so simple as all that. When a soldier performs a heroic act, he must first draw on his reservoir of courage, which has been developed through continued use. That developed virtue is, itself, a cause, because it affects the soldiers capacity and disposition to confront fear even before he decides to act.

    Intelligence is a cause insofar as it produces concepts and ideas, both of which must be applied through through an exercise of the will and through acts of the body. If intelligence didn’t cause the ideas, then the will would have no concept to affirm or negate and the body would have no plan to execute. So it is with design. Intelligence provides the concept and the body manifests it in the form of concrete action.

  57. Hi UB,

    RDF, have you forgotten your own argument? You’ve argued that it is all fine and good for ID theorists to make an inference from our universal experience that all CSI systems rise from intelligent activity,

    I’m the one who actually DOES remember my argument – you don’t seem to have understood it in the first place. I never argued that one can draw a well-supported inference that all CSI-rich system arise from intelligent activity. Rather, I argued these two things:

    1) In our uniform and repeated experience, CSI-rich systems invariably arise from intelligent activity, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that CSI-rich systems have arisen by other means. This does not mean that we can conlude with certainty that mechanism can never arise without intelligent activity, but it means that good evidence would be required before a contrary conjecture could be reasonably accepted. (And I do not believe such evidence exists).

    2) In our uniform and repeated experience, intelligent activity invariably arises from CSI-rich systems, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that intelligent activity can arise in the absence of such complex mechanisms. This does not mean that we can conclude with certainty that intelligent activity can never arise without mechanism, but good evidence would be required before a contrary conjecture could be reasonably accepted. (And I do not believe such evidence exists).

    The lack of evidence for such an agent (ID’s inability to identify such an agent) is specifically what you suggest ID must provide in order to be taken seriously as a science.

    Wrong again. (surprise!) For the Nth time, my argument never had anything to do with identifying some particular “agent”. Rather, what ID has to show is that it is possible that intelligent activity can arise, contrary to our experience, without the benefit of CSI-rich mechanism to store and process information.

    Why don’t you set aside the manuevering and avoidance, and just answer the question with the same forthrightness you used to make your original claims?

    Not only am I forthright, but I am exceedingly patient, explaining these simple ideas over and over to you in the faint hope that at some point you will comprehend what we are talking about.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  58. I never argued that one can draw a well-supported inference that all CSI-rich system arise from intelligent activity.

    You contradict this pointless statement later in the very same post when you argue: “In our uniform and repeated experience, CSI-rich systems invariably arise from intelligent activity, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that CSI-rich systems have arisen by other means”.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

    Rather, I argued these two things:

    1) In our uniform and repeated experience, CSI-rich systems invariably arise from intelligent activity, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that CSI-rich systems have arisen by other means. This does not mean that we can conclude with certainty that mechanism can never arise without intelligent activity, but it means that good evidence would be required before a contrary conjecture could be reasonably accepted. (And I do not believe such evidence exists).

    The question I have posed to you says nothing about absolute proofs, certainties, or otherwise. I consider this text to be more unnecessary noise, having no bearing on the issue at hand.

    2) In our uniform and repeated experience, intelligent activity invariably arises from CSI-rich systems, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that intelligent activity can arise in the absence of such complex mechanisms. This does not mean that we can conclude with certainty that intelligent activity can never arise without mechanism, but good evidence would be required before a contrary conjecture could be reasonably accepted. (And I do not believe such evidence exists).

    And so we arrive back where we started. Here it is again using your own terms:

    1) In our uniform and repeated experience, CSI-rich systems invariably arise from intelligent activity, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that CSI-rich systems have arisen by other means.

    2) In our uniform and repeated experience, intelligent activity invariably arises from CSI-rich systems, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that intelligent activity can arise in the absence of such complex mechanisms.

    How specifically does the observation made in #2 alter the observation made in #1?

    I’ll be happy to address the remainder of your post after you demonstrate the capacity/willingness to examine your position, and address this question in earnest.

  59. RDFish

    1) In our uniform and repeated experience, CSI-rich systems invariably arise from intelligent activity, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that CSI-rich systems have arisen by other means.

    2) In our uniform and repeated experience, intelligent activity invariably arises from CSI-rich systems, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that intelligent activity can arise in the absence of such complex mechanisms.

    Please define CSI-rich mechanism and tell us if the term “arises from” means “caused by” or something else. If it means something else, then what?

  60. Hi Upright BiPed,

    1) In our uniform and repeated experience, CSI-rich systems invariably arise from intelligent activity, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that CSI-rich systems have arisen by other means.

    2) In our uniform and repeated experience, intelligent activity invariably arises from CSI-rich systems, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that intelligent activity can arise in the absence of such complex mechanisms.

    There, now you’ve got it. Good! We’re making progress. Both of these statements are undeniably true (although it amazes me that some folks here actually try to deny #2 – funny, huh?)

    How specifically does the observation made in #2 alter the observation made in #1?

    You keep asking this same question no matter how many times I tell you that you are deeply confused about our conversation. Read this carefully: I have never said that either of these observations “alter” or “interfere with” the other, so each time you ask this question you are expressing nothing except your own confusion.

    Here, for the 1000th time, is what I have said:

    1) Both of these statements express the truth about our uniform and repeated experience.
    2) Neither of these statements can be taken as proof that intelligence requires mechanism nor that mechanism requires intelligence.
    3) Statement #1 means we would require good evidence of some means by which mechanism could arise without intelligent action.
    4) Statement #2 means we would require good evidence of some means by which intelligent action could arise without complex mechanism.
    5) Since we have no good evidence of any exception to either #1 or #2, then we have no good reason to believe any particular theory regarding the origin of the first CSI-rich structures. #1 contradicts any form of abiogenesis, and #2 contradicts any form of intelligent causation.

    This really is clear enough for anyone to understand, yet everything you say demonstrates that you can’t even address these simple points. You talk about “the identity of the designer”. You talk about how one true statement of our experience somehow “alters” the other true statement of our experience. None of this has anything to do with my argument.

    There is no theory of origins that is consistent with our experience-based knowledge of intelligent agency, UB, and there is nothing you can do to alter that.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  61. Hi StephenB,

    RDF: …intelligent activity invariably arises from CSI-rich systems…
    SB: Please define CSI-rich mechanism…

    By “CSI-rich mechanism” I mean a complex assembly of physical components that together perform some function. Familiar examples of CSI-rich mechanisms would be brains, eyeballs, flagella, and watches.

    If you want more detailed information about this, I believe ID folks have worked pretty hard to formalize this concept. I don’t think they’ve been very smart about it, actually, but I certainly agree that the complex form and function we see in biological systems is utterly astounding and cries out for explanation.

    …and tell us if the term “arises from” means “caused by” or something else.

    It means something else.

    If it means something else, then what?

    It means that when we observe intelligent action, we invariably are observing the behavior of a complex physical entity that critically relies on CSI-rich mechanisms in order to store and process information.

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  62. Hi StephenB,

    You are pretty much alone since the whole history of Western Thought is against you. Only materialsts think that the brain leads the mind.

    Where do you live – Mars? Virtually everyone who studies neuroscience or cognitive science would agree with my statement – even those who relatively few who believe in dualism and immortal souls. To say I am pretty much alone in believing that intelligent agents in our experience think with their brains is one of the silliest things I have heard on this forum, which is saying something.

    However, you will recall that I have agreed to grant arguendo that humans require complex mechanisms in order to design artifacts, so that we can analyze the flawed argument that proceeds from your premise.

    All right then!

    Without air or food, your brain will store nothing and cannot participate in a creative act because it will not be operating.

    We understand information processing in disciplines such as semiconductor engineering, integrated circuit fabrication, computer science, neuroscience, and the cognitive sciences in general. Everything that is known in all of these fields is predicated on the storing and processing of information by means of complex physical state machines. The descriptions of these mechanisms (memory and logic) refer to concepts that entail time, space, matter, and energy – but not food, air, or water.

    On the contrary, it has been your argument all along that ID proponents are disingenuous for failing to to include irrelevant dependency factors such as the mind’s “dependency” on the brain.

    My claim is that IF ID is going to hypothesize some intelligent being AND it’s going to claim to be consistent with our experience of intelligent agents THEN it can’t very well say this intelligent being doesn’t require some sort of complex mechanism in order to store and process information, just like every other intelligent agent.

    That is all I’m saying here, and try as you will to deny it, it is obviously and perfectly true.

    So now you need to explain why you left out space and energy in your criticism of ID, since you have conceded that the design inference requires both. Why did you not complain that the ID paradigm ignores its dependency on space and time just as it ignores its dependency on brains?

    I haven’t “conceded” anything of course. I have explained to you that everything we know about information processing entails space, time, matter, and energy. What you still don’t seem to understand is that the concept of a CSI-rich mechanism itself entails space, time, matter, and energy as well. So, I have pointed out that intelligence appears to require CSI-rich mechanisms, but that in turn entails these other concepts.

    SB: Intelligence, like virtue, is a capacity, and capacities are real things, albeit immaterial things.
    RDF: You are actually arguing that all of these traits and attributes – courage, beauty, humor, generosity, laziness, and so on – are real things that have causal properties.
    SB: I was simply correcting your error when you said that intelligence and virtue do not exist.

    Wow, now you’re really telling some whoppers! Can you find the post where I ever said that? (hint: no, you can’t). Come on, are you tired or something? It just won’t do for you to make up my part of the argument – you’re really not nearly smart enough :-)

    Seriously, of course I never said anything of the sort. Courage, beauty, humor, virtue, intelligence, curiosity, athleticism, sexuality – all of these things can surely be said to exist! They are the properties and traits of human beings and perhaps some other animals.

    On the subject of causation, intelligence is clearly a cause, as Plato and Aristotle explained over 2000 years ago.

    Aristotle also thought that the brain primarily served to cool the blood. You might consider that people have actually learned a few things in the last 2000 years, no?

    The point is that you have never observed a complex mechanism causing anything because causation cannot be observed. It can only be inferred. Only sequences of events can be observed. You cannot, therefore, say that we observe complex mechanisms causing things to happen.

    Didn’t think you’d invoke Hume, but hey sure, why not. When a human being draws up a plan for a machine and builds it, I infer that the cause of that machine was the human being. If you want to challenge that inference, be my guest – I love it when you have to resort to bizarre contortions in order to rebut me :-)

    Intelligence is a cause insofar as it produces concepts and ideas, both of which must be applied through through an exercise of the will and through acts of the body. If intelligence didn’t cause the ideas, then the will would have no concept to affirm or negate and the body would have no plan to execute. So it is with design. Intelligence provides the concept and the body manifests it in the form of concrete action.

    What we observe is that human beings design things, and it is surely true that whatever else a human being might be, it is also a very complex physical entity.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  63. RDF

    Where do you live – Mars? Virtually everyone who studies neuroscience or cognitive science would agree with my statement – even those who relatively few who believe in dualism and immortal souls. To say I am pretty much alone in believing that intelligent agents in our experience think with their brains is one of the silliest things I have heard on this forum, which is saying something.

    Your enthusiasm for attacking strawmen is becoming legendary. To say that the mind leads the brain, which most people who are not atheists believe, is not to say that people “don’t think with their brains.”

    We understand information processing in disciplines such as semiconductor engineering, integrated circuit fabrication, computer science, neuroscience, and the cognitive sciences in general.

    We were discussing humans until I refuted your indefensible claim that your personal design capabilities are not dependent on food, water, and air. This theme ties in with your claim that ID’s paradigms ought to take into account the fact that human designers depend on their brains. If so, and you insist on it day and night, then why haven’t you also insisted that ID’s paradigms ought to take into account the fact that human designers also depend on air, food, water, time, space, energy and hundreds of other factors? Meanwhile, you have not even attempted to explain what all this has to do with identifying causes, which is the main function of ID’s paradigms.

    My claim is that IF ID is going to hypothesize some intelligent being AND it’s going to claim to be consistent with our experience of intelligent agents THEN it can’t very well say this intelligent being doesn’t require some sort of complex mechanism in order to store and process information, just like every other intelligent agent.

    Yes, I know what you keep saying, but you have not explained why you think such is the case. You link the two points as if they were related, but you cannot say how they are linked. Why does the requirement of a complex mechanism preclude the hypothesis of an intelligent being? You have never made the case. If the human designer’s dependence on a complex mechanism precludes the design inference, why doesn’t the human designer’s dependency on air, food, water, space, and energy also preclude it? What does any of this have to do with intelligence as a cause? The answer is that it doesn’t have anything at all to do with it. You really don’t have a rational argument to offer here.

    That is all I’m saying here, and try as you will to deny it, it is obviously and perfectly true.

    If it was obviously true that the intelligent agent’s alleged dependence on the brain precludes the design hypothesis, how is it that you are the only living person who believes it? Can you name any expert from any field who agrees with your bizarre analysis?

    SB: I was simply correcting your error when you said that intelligence and virtue do not exist.

    Can you find the post where I ever said that?

    You are right. That was a typo. It should have read that you said intelligence and virtue do not qualify [or exist] as causes.

    SB: On the subject of causation, intelligence is clearly a cause, as Plato and Aristotle explained over 2000 years ago.

    Aristotle also thought that the brain primarily served to cool the blood. You might consider that people have actually learned a few things in the last 2000 years, no?

    You are laboring under the burden of chronological snobbery. We have progressed in science, but on the subject of causation, we have regressed. We are, after all, discussing intelligence as a cause. On the subject of causation, Plato and Aristotle were, and still are, the masters.

    SB: The point is that you have never observed a complex mechanism causing anything because causation cannot be observed. It can only be inferred. Only sequences of events can be observed. You cannot, therefore, say that we observe complex mechanisms causing things to happen.

    Didn’t think you’d invoke Hume, but hey sure, why not.

    You are getting better at accepting refutations. Thank you. Hume wasn’t wrong about everything–just most things.

    When a human being draws up a plan for a machine and builds it, I infer that the cause of that machine was the human being.

    Correct. You didn’t observe causation.

    If you want to challenge that inference, be my guest – I love it when you have to resort to bizarre contortions in order to rebut me :-)

    Why would I want to challenge the very same principle that I found it necessary to remind you about?

    SB: Intelligence is a cause insofar as it produces concepts and ideas, both of which must be applied through through an exercise of the will and through acts of the body. If intelligence didn’t cause the ideas, then the will would have no concept to affirm or negate and the body would have no plan to execute. So it is with design. Intelligence provides the concept and the body manifests it in the form of concrete action.

    What we observe is that human beings design things, and it is surely true that whatever else a human being might be, it is also a very complex physical entity.

    Your comment has absolutely nothing to do with what I said. How carelessly you sail past the subject of causality and revert back to your talking points about dependency, which really has nothing to do with anything except maybe mind/body relationships, which, as it turns out, no one knows much about anyway. After all this time, you still cannot explain why any of this is relevant to ID or the search for causes. Meanwhile, your main claim to the effect that the human designer’s dependency on the brain precludes the possibility of a legitimate design inference remains undefended. That is a pretty sad record given the extravagant amount of words you have written. Would you like to have another go at it?

  64. To say I am pretty much alone in believing that intelligent agents in our experience think with their brains is one of the silliest things I have heard on this forum, which is saying something.

    Just to confirm that RDFish is certainly not alone in holding the opinion that all intelligent entities that we know of think with their brains.

    Please carr on!

  65. or even carry on!

  66. F/N: Has it been empirically shown that by chance and necessity, a brain or other computing substrate HAS been converted into self-aware, conscious, perceiving (not merely detecting per transducer action), intentional reasoning — not merely computing per GIGO — mind?

    Where, by whom, when, resulting in what publications and prizes?

    Failing solid answers, the above by RDF is little more than an ideological creedal statement of the question-begging a priori Lewontin- Sagan style a priori materialism that is the bane of too much contemporary scientific thought, e.g.:

    SB: You are pretty much alone since the whole history of Western Thought is against you. Only materialsts think that the brain leads the mind.

    RDF: Where do you live – Mars? Virtually everyone who studies neuroscience or cognitive science would agree with my statement – even those who relatively few who believe in dualism and immortal souls.

    I suggest that this summary from Searle suffices to show the gap that is being begged through a priori materialism:

    Imagine that a person—me, for example—knows no Chinese and is locked in a room with boxes full of Chinese symbols and an instruction book written in English for manipulating the symbols. Unknown to me, the boxes are called “the database” and the instruction book is called “the program.” I am called “the computer.”

    People outside the room pass in bunches of Chinese symbols that, unknown to me, are questions. I look up in the instruction book what I am supposed to do and I give back answers in Chinese symbols.

    Suppose I get so good at shuffling the symbols and passing out the answers that my answers are indistinguishable from a native Chinese speaker’s. I give every indication of understanding the language despite the fact that I actually don’t understand a word of Chinese.

    And if I do not, neither does any digital computer, because no computer, qua computer, has anything I do not have. It has stocks of symbols, rules for manipulating symbols, a system that allows it to rapidly transition from zeros to ones, and the ability to process inputs and outputs. That is it. There is nothing else. [Cf. Jay Richards here.]

    Processing due to appropriately organised components and algorithms — and we know the empirically reliable source of such FSCO/I as is required, design — is computation, it is not thought (as we know from direct experience of being conscious minded creatures . . . as has been repeatedly pointed out to RDF and just as repeatedly diverted from).

    Until the gap between the two is bridged, it should not be brushed aside with an unmet promissory note. That is the fallacy of confident manner.

    Leibniz raises a significant issue in Monadology 17:

    [P]erception, and that which depends upon it, are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perception, we could conceive of it as increased in size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find anything to explain perception.

    Similarly, Haldane has aptly observed:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” ["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    On the wider matter of seeking to undermine the design inference by insisting on the necessity of embodiment, RDF is doing little more than indulging in drumbeat repetition of adequately answered claims while brushing aside answers due to the iron question-begging grip of an ideological a priori commitment to effective materialism.

    For instance, no one has shown that the human mind only functions in connexion with the brain. (Hence the issue of NDEs and spiritual experiences. There are too many, too detailed, too specific to be brushed aside as all delusional. Trying that brings the general reliability of human rationality and conscious mindedness into doubt.)

    But that is not the only problem, or the biggest.

    As has been repeatedly highlighted — but studiously ignored:

    a: our observed cosmos shows strong signs of very complex fine tuning to support C chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life, this

    b: tracing to the core physics that makes such a cosmos work. This is multiplied by

    c: the contingency of cosmos and material components, i.e. we have a contingent being with credibly a finitely remote beginning to explain. On the logic of cause and being,

    d: even through a speculative multiverse [it would have to be fine tuned to search the local config zone to make it credible to hit on our locally deeply isolated operating point], we see a need for adequate causal explanation, where

    e: purposeful mind is the best, most reasonable explanation of such evident contrivance. Also,

    f: the contingency points to root cause in a necessary being with intent, knowledge, skill and power to achieve the creation of such a cosmos. Where,

    g: Such a candidate necessary being is minded, powerful, purposeful, and skilled. And,

    h: where we know that it is reasonable that a serious candidate necessary being, as S5 asserts, if possible, will be actual. That is,

    i: it is a defensible position to hold that since a necessary being has no causal dependence on external enabling factors it cannot either begin or end but may be possible or — like a square circle [mutually contradictory attributes] — impossible, on pain of contradiction . . . and so

    j: if possible, then existing in at least one possible world, but as necessary existing in all possible worlds so also the actualised world.

    _______________________________________

    k: Thus, it is a reasonable view to hold in light of the evidence of fine tuning, that we live in a world designed by a minded being ontologically antecedent to matter (which is contingent).

    l: so also, it is reasonable to hold that the existence of our observed cosmos is itself evidence of immaterial mind.

    Therefore, it is unreasonable to try to insist that in our uniform experience mind is associated with or requires as a substrate a material computing substrate such as a brain or a hoped for complex silicon based processor etc.

    Predictably, however, the drumbeat roll of a priori materialist talking points will continue. (RDF, why not prove me wrong by not living down to my expectations on what has repeatedly happened?)

    KF

  67. RDFish’s premise 2:

    RDFish #57:
    2) In our uniform and repeated experience, intelligent activity invariably arises from CSI-rich systems, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that intelligent activity can arise in the absence of such complex mechanisms.

    According to premise 2, our uniform and repeated experience informs us that reason (human thought), invariably arises from CSI-rich systems – the brain.
    After many postings RDFish leaves us wondering what his definition of ‘our uniform and repeated experience’ is. When pressed he presents a naturalistic concept of human thought based on neurophysiology (post #62). But clearly naturalistic concepts are not synonymous to ‘our uniform and repeated experience’.

    I have pointed out again and again that the opposite is true: our uniform and repeated does NOT inform us (and Aristotle) that we think with our brain. Firstly we have never witnessed a single thought arise from any neuron. Secondly there are compelling arguments against the view that matter can cause reason and/or consciousness (see Kairosfocus #66).

    RDFish’ response has been the statement that he is happy to disagree on the question of whether thought originates from the brain.

    This is however a deflection and beside the point. The point is simply that his second premise is invalid. RDFish’s claims about our uniform and repeated experience are false.

    Several times I have asked him to concede this point. Every time he pretends that he doesn’t understand.

  68. RDF:

    Where do you live – Mars? Virtually everyone who studies neuroscience or cognitive science would agree with my statement – even those who relatively few who believe in dualism and immortal souls. To say I am pretty much alone in believing that intelligent agents in our experience think with their brains is one of the silliest things I have heard on this forum, which is saying something.

    Well, let’s examine your reasoning here. Does your phrase “think with the brain” mean that thoughts pass through the brain or does it mean that thoughts originate in or from the brain?

    Since you have obviously not thought this matter through, I will do some of your thinking for you. Given your history, I will assume that you mean that thoughts originate in or from the brain.

    Contrary to your illogical claim, no one who believes in an immortal rational soul and knows what that means could ever say that thoughts originate in or from the brain. Alas, you are bluffing again. I call your bluff. Produce the evidence.

  69. RDF,

    There, now you’ve got it. Good! We’re making progress.

    The only impediment to progress has been your pointless avoidance of the question asked of you. If we’ve reached the point where you stop running from the answers, then we will have indeed made progress.

    You keep asking this same question no matter how many times I tell you that you are deeply confused about our conversation.

    I’m not the slightest bit confused. Your entire project has been set to undermine the observation made in point #1 based on the observation made in point #2. That project is a bust for the simple reason that the observation in point #1 is not altered by the observation in point #2.

    Read this carefully: I have never said that either of these observations “alter” or “interfere with” the other, so each time you ask this question you are expressing nothing except your own confusion.

    Nonsense. You’ve repeatedly said that the inference to design is not supported by our universal experience because our universal experience does not include knowledge of any disembodied agents. But the design inference is not derived from experience with disembodied agents, its derived from our universal experience with CSI-rich systems. Our lack of experience with disembodied agents does not alter our universal experience with CSI-rich systems. In other words, the capacity of inanimate matter to suddenly organize itself into the semiotic state required for CSI does not magically increase just because we have no experience of a disembodied agent. The extended fact that the ID inference doesn’t logically even require even a disembodied agent only further invalidates your argument.

    So, not only do your conclusions not follow from your premises, but your premises are false from the start. With that in mind, there should be no question why you feel the need to continue to sling insults, but your insults won’t change the problems inherent in your argument, they will only highlight your frustration that those problems are being pointed out to you.

  70. Thoughts don’t originate from our brain? I’m pretty sure you are mistaken, where else would they come from?

  71. kairosfocus asks:

    Has it been empirically shown that by chance and necessity, a brain or other computing substrate HAS been converted into self-aware, conscious, perceiving (not merely detecting per transducer action), intentional reasoning — not merely computing per GIGO — mind?

    Where, by whom, when, resulting in what publications and prizes?

    Good questions, all. I wonder if RDF would care to provide the answers rather than simply make claims about the creative power of “CSI mechanisms.”

  72. PWall

    Thoughts don’t originate from our brain? I’m pretty sure you are mistaken, where else would they come from?

    How about the mind?

  73. Isn’t the mind a manifestation of an individual’s collective brain function? Your thoughts, feelings, memories, etc., altogether functioning as an individuals current mindset and all due to a massively complex, interconnected neural system.

  74. Hi StephenB,

    To say that the mind leads the brain, which most people who are not atheists believe, is not to say that people “don’t think with their brains.”

    I believe we agree (even if you are just doing so arguendo) that nothing can design anything without some CSI-rich mechanism. Let’s move on.

    This theme ties in with your claim that ID’s paradigms ought to take into account the fact that human designers depend on their brains.

    You are talking about “paradigms”, which I don’t care about. I’m talking about the hypothesis that some intelligent being produced the original CSI-rich mechanisms, and my argument is that this hypothesis contradicts our experience-based knowledge of intelligent agents (which all require CSI-rich mechanisms in order to design anything).

    If so, and you insist on it day and night, then why haven’t you also insisted that ID’s paradigms ought to take into account the fact that human designers also depend on air, food, water, time, space, energy and hundreds of other factors?

    Air, food, and water are irrelevant, as I have explained, because our understanding of information processing does not entail these concepts. Time, space, energy, and matter are essential to all of our shared experiences, not just ones having to do with intelligent activity. Intelligent activity, however, apparently depends in particular on CSI-rich structures, which is the basis of my argument.

    RDF: My claim is that IF ID is going to hypothesize some intelligent being AND it’s going to claim to be consistent with our experience of intelligent agents THEN it can’t very well say this intelligent being doesn’t require some sort of complex mechanism in order to store and process information, just like every other intelligent agent.

    SB: Yes, I know what you keep saying, but you have not explained why you think such is the case. You link the two points as if they were related, but you cannot say how they are linked. Why does the requirement of a complex mechanism preclude the hypothesis of an intelligent being?

    Before we go there, I need to you accept my current argument. We need to go step-by-step, because if we don’t you will simply try to run around in circles rather than admit my argument is correct. So currently I am arguing that ID cannot both (A) be consistent with our experience and (B) hypothesize any sort of intelligent activity that preceded CSI-rich mechanisms. If you finally concede this obvious point, we can explore the implications for ID theory.

    If it was obviously true that the intelligent agent’s alleged dependence on the brain precludes the design hypothesis, how is it that you are the only living person who believes it? Can you name any expert from any field who agrees with your bizarre analysis?

    Nope, you’re still wrong about this: As I’ve explained, virtually every scientist involved in neuroscience, cognitive science, or AI, as well as the vast majority of contemporary philosophers of mind, agrees with my argument of course: Virtually none of them (even dualists) thinks that human beings or anything else can process information and design anything without a brain or some other sort of CSI-rich mecahnism.

    How carelessly you sail past the subject of causality and revert back to your talking points about dependency, which really has nothing to do with anything except maybe mind/body relationships, which, as it turns out, no one knows much about anyway.

    We agree that nobody has solved the mind/body problem. That is exactly why I take no position on it. I do not claim that brains cause minds – that would be a metaphysical assumption that we cannot support empirically. Nor I do not claim that CSI-rich mechanisms are sufficient to produce intelligent activity, for the same reason. What I do point out is that intelligent activity is apparently necessary to produce intelligent activity, which is undeniably true.

    You, however, are so thoroughly entrenched in dualistic assumptions that you can’t even recognize that you are making them! (The idea of intelligence is a causal thing-in-itself is nothing but a dualistic assumption of course). Still, it makes no difference at all to my argument – you can assume dualism all you’d like. I remain metaphysically neutral, and claim only our shared experience as the basis for my argument.

    After all this time, you still cannot explain why any of this is relevant to ID or the search for causes.

    Then let us move on to that! Just as soon as you agree with me that if ID is going to be consistent with our shared experience, it cannot hypothesize any sort of intelligent agent that is not itself (whatever else it may be) a CSI-rich mechanism, just like every other intelligent agent in our experience. (The “whatever else it may be” means that intelligent agents may in fact be more than CSI-rich mechanisms, but that doesn’t alter the fact that without CSI-rich mechanism they cannot act intelligently).

    Hopefully you will agree with this point (it is, after all, undeniably true) so we can see what the implications are for ID theory.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  75. Hi Box,

    RDFish #57:
    2) In our uniform and repeated experience, intelligent activity invariably arises from CSI-rich systems, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that intelligent activity can arise in the absence of such complex mechanisms.

    According to premise 2, our uniform and repeated experience informs us that reason (human thought), invariably arises from CSI-rich systems – the brain.
    After many postings RDFish leaves us wondering what his definition of ‘our uniform and repeated experience’ is.

    It’s pretty simple, really. Emprical science is built on observations that everyone can share, and that independent researchers can verify. If I discover some weird quantum phenomena, say, but only people in my lab can see it and other people try to observe the same thing but fail to replicate the observation, then the phenomena cannot be considered to be part of our uniform and repeated experience.

    When pressed he presents a naturalistic concept of human thought based on neurophysiology (post #62). But clearly naturalistic concepts are not synonymous to ‘our uniform and repeated experience’.

    I have never presented a “naturalistic” concept of human thought. My arguments never rely on “naturalistic” or “materialistic” assumptions. Nice try, though.

    I merely point out that nothing can design anything without processing information, which in our experience invariably requires CSI-rich mechanism. This is something that we can all verify by our uniform and shared experience.

    RDFish’ response has been the statement that he is happy to disagree on the question of whether thought originates from the brain.

    I never said that thought “originates from” the brain – that is just your poor reading comprehension.

    This is however a deflection and beside the point. The point is simply that his second premise is invalid. RDFish’s claims about our uniform and repeated experience are false.

    I am not defending materialism – you are just pretending that I am. Try attacking the argument I am actually making instead of one that you are pretending that I’m making. You’ll find that my argument is much smarter than the one you are attempting to refute ;-)

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  76. Hi Upright Biped,

    I’m not the slightest bit confused.

    Let’s agree to disagree on this point :-)

    Your entire project has been set to undermine the observation made in point #1 based on the observation made in point #2.

    Wrong again. You have very, very poor reading comprehension. Try again.

    That project is a bust for the simple reason that the observation in point #1 is not altered by the observation in point #2.

    Nor is observation #2 altered by observation #1, of course. Both are undeniably true.

    You’ve repeatedly said that the inference to design is not supported by our universal experience because our universal experience does not include knowledge of any disembodied agents.

    Wrong again. I didn’t say the “inference to design” is not supported by our universal experience. I said the a priori probability of disembodied intelligent beings is low, and thus any hypothesis that involves such things would require good evidence in order to warrant concluding in its favor, and that we have no such evidence. I know you won’t read and understand what I just wrote – I’m doing this for others’ benefit. You will just skip over this and keep saying ridiculous things about arguments I am not making, because that is what you do.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  77. RDF:

    …intelligent activity invariably arises from CSI-rich systems…

    SB: what does “arise from” mean?

    It means that when we observe intelligent action, we invariably are observing the behavior of a complex physical entity that critically relies on CSI-rich mechanisms in order to store and process information.
    Hope that helps.

    No, sorry, that doesn’t help much. You have defined “arise from” to mean [a] observed behavior [which is illogical since arise is a verb], and [b] “relies on,” which is also illogical since it has nothing to do with either the word “arise” or “from.” Would you care to try again? I am simply asking for a rational definition of your own words.

  78. Hi StephenB,

    RDF: …intelligent activity invariably arises from CSI-rich systems…
    SB: what does “arise from” mean?
    RDF: It means that when we observe intelligent action, we invariably are observing the behavior of a complex physical entity that critically relies on CSI-rich mechanisms in order to store and process information.
    SB: No, sorry, that doesn’t help much.

    Whenever we observe intelligent behavior, that behavior is invariably exhibited by something that is – whatever else it may be – a CSI-rich physical being which cannot exhibit intelligent behavior without CSI-rich mechanism. In other words, CSI-rich mechanism is necessary, if not sufficient, for intelligent activity.

    You can continue to pretend not to understand this simple point, but it won’t help your argument – it will just make you look dense.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  79. RDFish #75: I have never presented a “naturalistic” concept of human thought. My arguments never rely on “naturalistic” or “materialistic” assumptions.

    Yes they do. Your second premise (post #57) implies that reason / human thought arises from the brain. This stems from naturalistic / materialistic assumptions about human thought. Moreover you have stated several times that people think with their brain. There is little doubt that this is an incoherent statement, but it clearly testifies to a naturalistic mindset.

    RDFish #75: I merely point out that nothing can design anything without processing information, which in our experience invariably requires CSI-rich mechanism. This is something that we can all verify by our uniform and shared experience.

    To be clear: is this an attempt to edit premise 2? Instead of ‘intelligent activity’ you know prefer to use the term ‘processing information’?
    ———
    You have again ignored the core of my critique on premise 2. I will repeat it again for you: opposite to your claim in premise 2 our uniform and repeated does NOT inform us (and Aristotle) that we think with our brain. Firstly we have never witnessed a single thought arise from any neuron. Secondly there are compelling arguments against the view that matter can cause reason and/or consciousness (see Kairosfocus #66).
    IOW only naturalistic assumptions inform us that ‘people think with their brain’.
    Please concede this point.

  80. RDF:

    Just as soon as you agree with me that if ID is going to be consistent with our shared experience, it cannot hypothesize any sort of intelligent agent that is not itself (whatever else it may be) a CSI-rich mechanism, just like every other intelligent agent in our experience.

    You are two arguments short of making your case:

    First, you must show that a CSI-rich mechanism is responsible for the observed design. That it was present at the time of production does not in any way indicate that it was responsible for the result. Something else may have been responsible, such as a non-mechanistic mind working through a CSI-rich mechanism. In other words, you must show that the brain leads the mind rather than the other way around. (Neuroscientists have never demonstrated anything like that and they never will). From a scientific perspective, and from an observational perspective, you cannot justify your claims. Any argument about what depends on what is irrelevant. The only legitimate claim that can reasonably be made, and the definitive point that we have learned from our experience, is that “intelligence” is responsible for the result. What must be explained is the source (and an accurate, non-biased description of that source) that produced the CSI.

    Second, even if you could make the former case, which you clearly cannot do, it would still not mean that ID is, therefore, committed to the proposition that CSI-rich mechanisms are responsible for biological design. The ways in which we make the transition from our observation of designed artifacts to our inference to biological design has nothing at all to do with your methods of cut and paste transfer and everything to do with the specialized methods of historical science. The problem is not so much that you have no specialized training in those methods as it is that you know nothing at all about them and don’t care to learn. Those methods, I hasten to add, do not include any kind of analysis about minds depending on brains or intelligent activity “arising out” of complex mechanisms (whatever on earth that could mean).

  81. RDFish:

    Whenever we observe intelligent behavior, that behavior is invariably exhibited by something that is – whatever else it may be – a CSI-rich physical being which cannot exhibit intelligent behavior without CSI-rich mechanism. In other words, CSI-rich mechanism is necessary, if not sufficient, for intelligent activity.

    I didn’t ask you for another round of your talking points. I asked you for a rational definition of your strategically crafted term, “arise from.”

    You wrote this:

    It means that when we observe intelligent action, we invariably are observing the behavior of a complex physical entity that critically relies on CSI-rich mechanisms in order to store and process information.
    Hope that helps.

    As I pointed out, You defined “arise from” to mean [a] observed behavior [which is illogical since arise is a verb], and [b] “relies on,” which is also illogical since it has nothing to do with either the word “arise” or “from.” Your definition is both self-contradictory and schizophrenic. It doesn’t have even a modicum of unity.

    You can continue to pretend not to understand this simple point, but it won’t help your argument – it will just make you look dense.

    Go seek out any rational person and ask him or her to evaluate your definition of the term “arise from.” Ask that person if there is anything in your screed that is reminiscent of either the word “arise” or the word “from.”

  82. F/N: just as predicted, sadly. Worse, this is doubtless being projected in certain corners as a refuting answer to the design inference.

    Onward, let us note with UB: the inference THAT (based on reliable, tested empirical sign) something was designed has no logical reference to the ontological nature or status of intelligence.

    Similarly, even were it shown that in some cases a competent designer can be created from software riding on a hardware substrate, all that shows is that it is possible to design second order designers. (And for argument, that would include us, under certain circumstances.)

    But to show that — using the Smith Model (another thing RDF does not want to touch with a 10 ft pole) — we can write a supervisory tier controller that interacts with a front end I/O in the loop controller only shows a possibility. If, for argument, that were shown.

    To (for argument) show that A is possible does not at all entail that B — which is not the denial of A — is impossible.

    That is, we have not seen evidence that forbids immaterial mind and the actual production of a strong AI emergent mind that arises from software would not change that. (Of course, no such thing has been done, that’s an obvious reason RDF et al have not pounced on the earlier questions to triumphantly announce answers.)

    Besides, even were that done, it would to practical certainty be a case of — intelligent design of an entity rich in FSCO/I. Where given the solar system and cosmos scale search space vs resources challenges beyond 500 – 1,000 bits of FSCO/I, it is simply not plausible that such FSCO/I can plausibly practically arise by blind chance and necessity.

    However, we still have some things on the table that simply have not been touched.

    Namely,

    1 –> the whole issue of the gap between blind GIGO limited computation and self-aware conscious thought.

    2 –> the self referential incoherences that arise from attempts to account for knowing, soundly reasoning mind on blind material processes.

    3 –> the empirical facts of abundant near death, deathbed (etc)transition to actual death where individuals are interacting on both sides of the “divide” and similar spiritual experiences that directly point to immaterial and very active minds.

    4 –> the problem that if just one of literally millions is true then immateriality of minds is true multiplied by that if all are delusional they call into serious question the general reliability of our conscious minded experience.

    5 –> the reality of our evidently contingent material and fine tuned cosmos calling out for explanation in a necessary being that is also a minded and powerful immaterial cosmos designer.

    Let us see if there is any serious coming to grips with such.

    And finally of course, “arises from” without explanation and empirical demonstration on RDF’s part boils down to the hoped for poof-magic of materialistic emergentism as a dogmatic article of faith.

    Let’s see if the predictable — on track record — avoidance or snipping and sniping at isolated points will continue.

    KF

  83. RDF,

    Your on-going need to sling insults will not be lessened, because the flaws formulated into your argument remain as before, and there is no obligation upon ID proponents to accept those flaws.

    Wrong again. I didn’t say the “inference to design” is not supported by our universal experience. I said the a priori probability of disembodied intelligent beings is low, and thus any hypothesis that involves such things would require good evidence in order to warrant concluding in its favor, and that we have no such evidence. I know you won’t read and understand what I just wrote.

    Understanding your argument has never been a problem, nor has it been a problem to follow along as you equivocate in the defense of it. You know very well that what is at issue is biological complexity (CSI) and that the inference to design regarding biological complexity does not stem from our experience with disembodied minds/agents, it stems from our experience with CSI systems. Yet, you equivocate and make misguided evaluations of the design inference based upon our lack of evidence for a disembodied minds/agents. Here is what you say:

    ID is nothing but an unlikely hypothesis, and would require strong evidence that disembodied minds exist.

    As already stated, the design inference is not derived from (and is not dependent on) our experience with disembodied minds/agents, its derived from our universal experience with CSI-rich systems. This fact seems to be something you intend to ignore and/or reject at all costs.

    The problem is that when ID proponents delcare that biological complexity is “best explained” by ID, they clearly mean that ID is indeed supported by good evidence and ought to be considered as a good theory. It is this I object to.

    Yes, but you don’t object on the grounds that biological complexity (CSI) always rises from intelligent action, in fact, you agree that this is always the case. Instead, you object on the grounds that we have no experience of disembodied minds/agents – which the design inference doesn’t even require.

    It’s called equivocation, and in your case it is demonstrably strategic.

  84. PS: re:

    ID is nothing but an unlikely hypothesis

    Wishful thinking multiplied by Cliffordian evidentialism. All a hyp needs is adequate evidence, and in fact the empiric al evidence is on billions of cases that FSCO/I reliably traces to design as cause. Billions of, none against, a pretty good induction if you ask me. Then multiply by the issue that blind search on chance and necessity runs into serious search space vs resources barriers in addressing 500 – 1,000 bits of FSCO/I — the threshold of interest — and beyond.

    KF

  85. PPS: re:

    I said the a priori probability of disembodied intelligent beings is low

    This comes from one who refuses to examine the case of our fine tuned contingent material observed cosmos, which points to a necessary being on the logic of cause and to one that is an intentional designer, minded and immaterial.

    In short the real problem is obviously a priori materialism — whether directly metaphysical or by the back door of methodological naturalism makes little difference — multiplied by creedal faith in materialist emergentism that fails to adequately address empirical and logical challenges to such.

    Par for the course.

    KF

  86. Hi Box,

    RDFish #75: I have never presented a “naturalistic” concept of human thought. My arguments never rely on “naturalistic” or “materialistic” assumptions.
    BOX: Yes they do. Your second premise (post #57) implies that reason / human thought arises from the brain. This stems from naturalistic / materialistic assumptions about human thought.

    You’re wrong: A materialistic assumption would be that human thought arises from nothing but the operation of the brain. I have taken care to make very clear that I make no such assumption. You have simply ignored that, because if I were a materialist it would be easier for you to dismiss my argument. As it is, I argue only the obvious: As far as our experience can tell us, nobody can think without a working brain (even if they need more than a brain in order to think).

    Moreover you have stated several times that people think with their brain. There is little doubt that this is an incoherent statement, but it clearly testifies to a naturalistic mindset.

    Let us agree to disagree here. I say people use their brains to think, and you disagree – that’s fine. Just curious though – do you believe people think with their kidneys, or their hearts, or their livers? What exactly do you think the function of the brain is?

    To be clear: is this an attempt to edit premise 2? Instead of ‘intelligent activity’ you know prefer to use the term ‘processing information’?

    No editing. I say intelligent activity requires information processing. Would you like to disagree about that too?

    You have again ignored the core of my critique on premise 2.

    If you do not believe that people use their brains to think, I do not believe any amount of discussion will change your view, and so I propose we simply agree to disagree. I will be happy to let the fair reader decide how utterly inane your view is.

    IOW only naturalistic assumptions inform us that ‘people think with their brain’.
    Please concede this point.

    Of course I will not concede this point, because I am correct and you are wrong. Again: Materialism holds that brains are sufficient for human thought; that is not my position. My position is that our experience indicates that brains are necessary for human thought.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  87. Hi StephenB

    First, you must show that a CSI-rich mechanism is responsible for the observed design. That it was present at the time of production does not in any way indicate that it was responsible for the result. Something else may have been responsible, such as a non-mechanistic mind working through a CSI-rich mechanism. In other words, you must show that the brain leads the mind rather than the other way around.

    You are simply ignoring what I say. Over and over I have explained that my argument rests only on necessity – not sufficiency, and not on whether or not brain “leads” the mind or the other way around (whatever that is supposed to mean). The only thing my arguments rests on is that design doesn’t happen unless there is a complex information processing mechanism (like a brain) operating. It doesn’t matter if some immaterial res cogitans or immortal soul is also involved, and it doesn’t matter if the brain leads the mind or the mind leads the brain. You can ponder those questions all you’d like, but they have no bearing on my argument.

    Second, even if you could make the former case, which you clearly cannot do, it would still not mean that ID is, therefore, committed to the proposition that CSI-rich mechanisms are responsible for biological design.

    Once you concede that my argument regarding our experience-based knowledge of intelligence indicates that it requires CSI-rich mechanism is correct, we can then explore the implications for ID.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  88. Hi Upright BiPed,

    You know very well that what is at issue is biological complexity (CSI) and that the inference to design regarding biological complexity does not stem from our experience with disembodied minds/agents, it stems from our experience with CSI systems.

    Our experience confirms both observations equally of course. Intelligent activity ALWAYS requires mechanism, and mechanism ALWAYS requires intelligent activity. You look really silly trying to deny this.

    ID is nothing but an unlikely hypothesis, and would require strong evidence that disembodied minds exist.

    Nope, that is not what I am saying. The reason you got that wrong might be that you don’t read what I write, or maybe you don’t actually understand English, or maybe you have a short-term memory problem… it’s hard to tell.

    Anyway, what I am arguing is that IF ID posits some designing entity that operates without a CSI-rich mechanism for information processing, then that hypothesis contradicts our experience-based knowledge of intelligence. What I say is undeniably true, and it is comical to see you try and deny it.

    As already stated, the design inference is not derived from (and is not dependent on) our experience with disembodied minds/agents, its derived from our universal experience with CSI-rich systems. This fact seems to be something you intend to ignore and/or reject at all costs.

    I’m not ignoring you, I’m telling you why you are mistaken. You, however, ignore everything I say. I am not denying “the design inference” – I am clarifying that IF your design inference posits some intelligent agent that does not require some CSI-rich mechanism for designing things, THEN your inference points to something that is contradicted by our experience-based knowledge of intelligent agents. Too bad for you, but it’s true, and everybody else can see that I keep telling you the same thing over and over, but you make up other things to respond to instead.

    Yes, but you don’t object on the grounds that biological complexity (CSI) always rises from intelligent action, in fact, you agree that this is always the case.

    In our experience that is always the case, yes. This does not guarantee that this is necessarily the case, however – there may be some other means by which CSI-rich structures come to exist that does not involved intelligent activity. We simply have no evidence of any such thing.

    Instead, you object on the grounds that we have no experience of disembodied minds/agents – which the design inference doesn’t even require.

    Which is exactly why I am not objecting to some sort of “design inference” – but I am objecting to an unqualified “design inference” that suggests the original CSI was produced by intelligent activity. That particular “design inference” would require that the intelligent activity occurred without prior CSI-rich mechanism, which contradicts our experience based knowledge of intelligent activity.

    If you would like to qualify ID’s “design inference” to be compatible with our experience-based knowledge of intelligent beings, then I would not object to it on those grounds. We could then explore what implications that qualification had for ID in general.

    However, if you refuse to qualify ID’s “design inference”, then it remains a transparent equivocation, and one interpretation (the one most ID folks actually believe) is an unsupported conjecture of some sort of being that is contrary to our experience-based knowledge.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  89. Box #79: You have again ignored the core of my critique on premise 2. I will repeat it again for you: opposite to your claim in premise 2 our uniform and repeated does NOT inform us that (…)

    RDFish #86: If you do not believe that people use their brains to think, I do not believe any amount of discussion will change your view, and so I propose we simply agree to disagree.

    I have to tell you again: we do NOT have a discussion on whether people think with their brain or not. Time and time again you are suggesting that we are, which is nothing more than a deflection. It does not matter what you or I believe. What we are discussing is whether our uniform and repeated experience informs us that reason arises from the brain (or even that ‘we think with our brain’) – as implied by your second premise.
    This is getting ridiculous: again you’ve managed to ignore the core of my critique on premise 2! I will repeat it again for you:
    Opposite to the claim in the second premise (post #57) our uniform and repeated does NOT inform us (and Aristotle) that reason arises from our brain. Firstly we have never witnessed a single thought arise from any neuron. Secondly there are compelling arguments against the view that matter can cause reason and/or consciousness (see Kairosfocus #66).
    Now concede this point.

  90. Then your argument is easily falsified.

    Man designs. He is embedded in nature. Therefore nature is the author of that design capability.

    Please locate nature’s brain.

    You are simply ignoring what I say. Over and over I have explained that my argument rests only on necessity – not sufficiency, and not on whether or not brain “leads” the mind or the other way around (whatever that is supposed to mean). The only thing my arguments rests on is that design doesn’t happen unless there is a complex information processing mechanism (like a brain) operating. It doesn’t matter if some immaterial res cogitans or immortal soul is also involved, and it doesn’t matter if the brain leads the mind or the mind leads the brain. You can ponder those questions all you’d like, but they have no bearing on my argument.

  91. RDF

    Over and over I have explained that my argument rests only on necessity – not sufficiency, and not on whether or not brain “leads” the mind or the other way around (whatever that is supposed to mean). The only thing my arguments rests on is that design doesn’t happen unless there is a complex information processing mechanism (like a brain) operating.

    The problem is that you are operating from an incomplete knowledge base. A scientific inference to the best explanation, or any scientific hypothesis for that matter, cannot stand on a necessary cause. Only sufficient causes, or adequate causes, can serve in that role. To draw inferences or conclusions based on anything else is to wallow in absurdity. One among many reasons for this (I will not bother to list the others since they will be mindlessly dismissed) is the fact that necessary causes are not predictable, either now or in the past—especially in the past. Only sufficient causes or adequate causes are predictable and useful for extrapolating or historical speculating.

  92. RDF,

    UB: You know very well that what is at issue is biological complexity (CSI) and that the inference to design regarding biological complexity does not stem from our experience with disembodied minds/agents, it stems from our experience with CSI systems.

    RDF: Our experience confirms both observations equally of course. Intelligent activity ALWAYS requires mechanism, and mechanism ALWAYS requires intelligent activity. You look really silly trying to deny this.

    I’ve never denied this fact. The first time I made this clear to you was on the 21st day of last month. I told you previously “ I do not challenge your observation that our universal experience suggests that all intelligence requires an organized entity in order to exist. I’ve also shown that the design inference is unchallenged by this universal experience. You have yet to demonstrate otherwise. You can get your foot in that door by demonstrating that the phenomenon of agency (one capable of dimensional semiosis) was impossible in the cosmos prior to its rise on earth”

    You subsequently failed to engage the point.

    RDF writes: ID is nothing but an unlikely hypothesis, and would require strong evidence that disembodied minds exist.

    RDF now says: Nope, that is not what I am saying. The reason you got that wrong might be that you don’t read what I write, or maybe you don’t actually understand English, or maybe you have a short-term memory problem… it’s hard to tell.

    RDF, your desire to insult me has taken on a new level of stupid. When you are forced to deny your own words in order to wage an insult, then perhaps it’s become time to rethink your position. (Just a thought).

    I’m not ignoring you, I’m telling you why you are mistaken. You, however, ignore everything I say.

    Good grief.

    Look – do us both a favor. Stop reacting, stop defending. Still your mind for a moment.

    I am about to cut and paste the next section of text you posted in your response. In that text I will BOLD two specific words. Let us use those two words to help you understand the issue at hand:

    I am not denying “the design inference” – I am clarifying that IF your design inference posits some intelligent agent that does not require some CSI-rich mechanism for designing things, THEN your inference points to something that is contradicted by our experience-based knowledge of intelligent agents.

    And alternatively, if your design inference is based on universal experience which remains valid without specifying the physical nature of the intelligent agent, then that inference doesn’t contradict our universal experience.

    More importantly, and with any luck, you will remember that we have already reached this point in the conversation once before.

    You might remember it because you were forced to modify your argument to include only those formulations of ID that purport to explain not just LIFE ON EARTH, but the ULTIMATE SOURCE of complexity in any context whatsoever (including the complexity of the designer of life on earth).

    The specific words you used to re-position your new limited argument were these:

    …I say that it shows that at least one version of ID (the one that attempts to explain the very first CSI in the universe) is not consistent with our universal experience.

    Obviously, it was pointed out to you at the time that the “version of ID” that your new limited argument applies to is held by virtually no one.

    Interestingly, ever since your argument had to be trimmed to apply only to a microscopic subset of ID claims, you haven’t altered your general position in any perceptible way whatsoever – in short you still act like your argument is vital to the conversation, when clearly it is not. You have over-defended your simple observation into being an overblown equivocation of failed premises and poor logic. Hence, the misplaced stubborn certainty in your position. Hence, the need to be as insulting towards me as possible in an effort to hide the fact that your argument has been resoundly defeated in debate.

    The first time we reached this point in the conversation, I suggested you to consider not making this argument any longer. You of course had no interest in such a simple correction. Unfortunately, there is no reason to believe you are any more prepared to make appropriate adjustments now.

  93. RDFish

    1) In our uniform and repeated experience, CSI-rich systems invariably arise from intelligent activity, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that CSI-rich systems have arisen by other means.

    2) In our uniform and repeated experience, intelligent activity invariably arises from CSI-rich systems, and thus there is a low a priori likelihood that intelligent activity can arise in the absence of such complex mechanisms.

    SB: What does “arise from” mean

    RDF

    It means that when we observe intelligent action, we invariably are observing the behavior of a complex physical entity that critically relies on CSI-rich mechanisms in order to store and process information.

    Now I invite the reader to plug in RDF’s own definition of “arise from” in place of his actual use of the words “arise from” in both 1) and 2) and tell me what you come up with.

    Can the phrase “arise from” mean so many different things? If it means just one of those many different things, which one is it? Are any of those meanings reminiscent of the word “arise” or the word “from?”

    Is it possible to misuse the language so egregiously that you actually torture the words to death?

  94. Hi Box,

    Opposite to the claim in the second premise (post #57) our uniform and repeated does NOT inform us (and Aristotle) that reason arises from our brain.

    It is impossibly funny that you quote Aristotle as an authority on the brain.

    It has, of course, been very well established that human thought requires the functioning of a brain. The scientific and medical evidence of this fact is available to all, and can indeed be apprehended by anyone who cares to look. This evidence is perfectly conclusive: contra Aristotle, the brain does not cool the blood (in fact it generates a fair amount of heat). Instead, the brain enables us to think. While there may also be something else required for thought (perhaps an immortal soul?), there can be no doubt that people use their brains to think just as surely as people use their stomachs to digest food.

    I understand that you disagree with this, and that in your view our experience-based knowledge has never revealed what the function of the brain is. Once again I must say that anyone who holds views such as yours is highly unlikely to be receptive to any argument to the contrary. This is why I am happy to agree to disagree with you on this point.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  95. Hi Steve,

    Then your argument is easily falsified.

    Oh good – all these other folks are certainly having a hard time trying! What’s your attempt?

    Man designs. He is embedded in nature. Therefore nature is the author of that design capability.

    You seem to be arguing against ID from a different perspective – that human beings (including our mental abilities) are the product of some unintelligent natural processes. That is certainly possible, although in our experience only intelligent activity results in complex form and function such as we see in biology.

    Please locate nature’s brain.

    Sorry, I don’t understand what this means.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  96. Hi StephenB,

    A scientific inference to the best explanation, or any scientific hypothesis for that matter, cannot stand on a necessary cause.

    Who is talking about cause? Only you. My argument has nothing to do with cause.

    Rather, my argument is simply that in order to be consistent with our experience, any sort of intelligent agent that ID posits must be (perhaps among other things) a complex physical entity, just like all the other intelligent agents in our experience.

    So please stop changing the subject. If you finally will quit dancing and misdirecting and grasping at straws and simply admit the truth of this perfectly obvious point that I’ve made, we can then move on to examine the implications of this for ID theory.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  97. Hi Upright BiPed

    I told you previously “ I do not challenge your observation that our universal experience suggests that all intelligence requires an organized entity in order to exist.

    Great – we agree!

    I’ve also shown that the design inference is unchallenged by this universal experience.

    And I have just gotten through explaining the problem with this, to no avail.

    Listen, UB: I will sincerely give it one very earnest try here, giving you my absolute most honest reading of your argument, and trying to explain as clearly as I can where you go wrong. In return I will ask you to actually read what I write here and try to understand it. Perhaps we can at least be more clear about where we disagree:

    1) We agree that our universal experience suggests that all intelligence requires CSI-rich structure
    2) You say that this fact does not challenge the “design inference”
    3) When you say “design inference”, you mean that you infer that the best explanation for the existence of something (such as biological CSI) is the action of some intelligent entity.
    4) I believe what you mean by this is that ID does not specify what sort of entity was responsible, and so this intelligent entity may have itself been a complex physical organism, which would be compatible with our experience.

    Now, if I have misrepresented your argument, then tell me concisely how and perhaps we can move forward with your clarification.

    If this is an accurate representation of your argument, however, then try to understand only this:
    1) The term “design inference” refers to the activity of an intelligent entity
    2) It does not specify if this intelligent entity is a complex physical entity or not
    3) If ID specified that the intelligent entity was a complex physical entity, then it would be consistent with our experience of intelligent agents.
    4) If ID specified that the intelligent entity was NOT a complex physical entity, then it would NOT be consistent with our experience of intelligent agents (even though this is the sort of entity that most adherents of ID Theory have in mind)
    5) This is a critical difference, and there is nothing wrong with pointing out that only one of these two types of intelligent entity that ID may be hypothesizing is consistent with our experience, while the other type is not.

    And that is what I am doing: I am simply making the perfectly obvious point that in order to be consistent with our experience-based knowledge, we must consider any sort of intelligent agency that is hypothesized to be responsible for biological systems to have itself been a complex physical entity.

    You are trying very hard to justify an equivocation here: You wish to leave it an open question whether or not ID’s Designer is a complex physical being. And of course you do, because you believe very strongly that ID’s Designer transcends corporeal form. You are loathe to accept that an incorporeal Designer would inconsistent with the empirical evidence, and so you try to prevent any discussion that would mention that inconvenient fact. You want to appeal to empirical evidence just up to a point (the part where you get intelligent agency) but then you refuse to look at what else that empirical evidence supports (the part that says intelligent agents are necessarily complex physical entities).

    Well, you can’t have it both ways. Either you drop the pretense of basing ID on empirical evidence, or you concede that the empirical evidence suggests that the Designer ID offers as an explanation of CSI would have to have been a complex physical entity, just like all other intelligent designers in our experience.

    Again, once you accept this simple, obvious point we can examine the implications for ID theory in general.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  98. Box #89: Opposite to the claim in the second premise (post #57) our uniform and repeated experience does NOT inform us (and Aristotle) that reason arises from our brain.

    RDFish #94: It is impossibly funny that you quote Aristotle as an authority on the brain.

    No, I’m mentioning Aristotle because his experience is part of our uniform and repeated experience. If Aristotle is not informed by his experience that we think with our brain then your claim that ‘our uniform and repeated experience informs us that we think with our brain’ crumbles.

    RDFish #94: It has, of course, been very well established that human thought requires the functioning of a brain.

    Is it? How does one do scientific research on this subject? How does science enter the private domain of the thinking subject? Scientific methodology committed itself to intersubjectivity, therefor first hand experiences of the thinking subject are not part of science. First hand experiences of the thinking subject – including thought – are simply not intersubjective; they are not tangible for science.

    Saying that it is well established that human thought requires the functioning of a brain is about as meaningful as saying that it has been well established that human thought requires the functioning of the heart.
    Crucial questions for science are: Did we prove that reason is caused by the brain? Did we prove that neurons think? The answer is a resounding no.

    Back to our little discussion, which centers around the question whether our uniform and repeated experience informs us that reason arises from the brain.
    Firstly, what do you mean by ‘our uniform and repeated experience’? Don’t you understand that Aristotle’s experience (or lack thereof) does constitute a breach in this alleged uniformity?
    Moreover it startles me that you speak of scientific research and subsequent naturalistic concepts of human thought as if they constitute our uniform and repeated experience.

    Dr. Stephen Meyer: “But I realized there was a cause of which we know from our ordinary experience, our uniform and repeated experience (which Darwin taught was the basis of all scientific reasoning) that is capable of generating information. And that cause is intelligence, it’s mind, it’s conscious or rational activity.”

    Our ordinary experience – uniform and repeated since it includes the experience of Aristotle (!)- informs us that the cause for information is intelligence.

    Now do you now see what is meant by ‘our uniform and repeated experience’ and how you misused the term?

    Your second premise (post #57) is invalid for several reasons.

    Do concede this point.

  99. Hi Box,

    How does one do scientific research on this subject?

    There is a gigantic scientific literature on brain function. You would do well to aquaint yourself with it.

    While of course there are plenty of ways to study subjective states (discover the physiological correlates of consciousness, interpret patient reports, and so on) that particular matter is irrelevant to my argument: I argue that intelligent behavior requires complex mechanism, and I’m not discussing conscious phenomenology per se. You are the one who introduced consciousness into the subject, not me.

    Likewise cause: You are the one who is interested in the question of what “causes reason”, not me. My argument has nothing to do with what causes reason – I merely observe that reason cannot proceed without complex mechanism to store and process information.

    And with regard to your attempt to narrowly define “uniform experience” to exclude the vast knowledge, vetted by replicable experiment, and available to all, that catalogues brain function? I’m quite happy to agree to disagree about that too of course.

    Of all of the very bad arguments that folks here have attempted to use to refute my simple point (and there have been a lot of them!), yours is among the worst I’m afraid.

    Since you apparently don’t use your brain for thinking, perhaps you might consider having it removed – you would save about 20% of your energy that way :-)

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  100. RDF:

    Who is talking about cause? Only you. My argument has nothing to do with cause.

    You are admitting your own irrelevancy since ID is about causes. You can hardly critique a theory about causes without talking about causes. Of course that hasn’t stopped you from trying.

    Rather, my argument is simply that in order to be consistent with our experience, any sort of intelligent agent that ID posits must be (perhaps among other things) a complex physical entity, just like all the other intelligent agents in our experience.

    Yes, and your reasoning is flawed because your conclusion does not follow from your premise. Repeating it over and over does not validate it. You are making comments about historical science, but you want nothing to do with its methods. Again, that doesn’t work and it isn’t logical.

    Then there is the problem that your comments often make no sense because you often, perhaps unwittingly, use words to mislead and misdirect. Then, when called on your inconsistencies, you claim to have been misunderstood.

    Recall your recent linguistic monstrosity:

    ["arise from"] means that when we observe intelligent action, we invariably are observing the behavior of a complex physical entity that critically relies on CSI-rich mechanisms in order to store and process information.

    In fact, neither the word “arise” nor the word “from” conveys any such meaning. For most people, arise from carries the clear connotation of causation. Yet you say that you are not talking about causes even though you often use words that mean that very thing.

    We have the same problem with your use of the words “thinking with the brain.” Does that mean that thoughts originate from the brain, pass through the brain, or something else. The reason you used that vague formulation was to create the false impression that I, and others, disavow the role of the brain, when, in fact, we are simply arguing for the primacy of mind.

    You continually misuse words to cover for flawed arguments, perhaps knowing that if you called things by their right name, your illogical formulations would be even more evident than they already are.

    No real problem there. We get it.

  101. Hi StephenB,

    You are admitting your own irrelevancy since ID is about causes.

    Once we agree on my simple and obvious argument, we can explore the implications for ID!

    You are making comments about historical science, but you want nothing to do with its methods. Again, that doesn’t work and it isn’t logical.

    I am saying nothing at all about “historical science”, sorry. Perhaps some other time we can discuss that. My argument is simply about intelligent agents, and how they require physical mechanism in order to store and manipulate information.

    You would love to change the subject, because you want to pretend that your views are supported by empirical observation, and I am pointing out that they are not. If it is just too psychological painful for you to admit the truth then you can simply bow out of the debate.

    If you’d like to continue, however, then please just address the argument I’ve made here. I’m not talking about sufficient causes of intelligence, or about the cause of the universe, or life, or life on Earth, or whatever else. I’m pointing out the most simple and obvious fact: In order to be consistent with our experience, any sort of intelligent agent that anyone hypothesizes in any context must be a complex physical entity, just like all the other intelligent agents in our experience.

    Once you finally stop running away from this simple truth, we can discuss the implications for ID theory.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  102. RDF

    If you’d like to continue, however, then please just address the argument I’ve made here.

    It has already been addressed many times. Our experience that designers use their brains is irrelevant to ID’s argument about causation.

  103. In order to be consistent with our experience, any sort of intelligent agent that anyone hypothesizes in any context must be a complex physical entity, just like all the other intelligent agents in our experience.

    Doesn’t follow. Just as it doesn’t follow that that our experience of designer’s possessing an immaterial mind requires that a hypothesized designer must be a pure spirit.

  104. RDFish #99: There is a gigantic scientific literature on brain function. While of course there are plenty of ways to study subjective states (discover the physiological correlates of consciousness, interpret patient reports, and so on) that particular matter is irrelevant to my argument (…)

    It is also irrelevant to my argument, so one might wonder why you brought it up. The only thing that matters is that – despite massive scientific research – no scientist has ever witnessed a neuron producing a single thought.

    RDFish #99: I argue that intelligent behavior requires complex mechanism, and I’m not discussing conscious phenomenology per se.

    We are discussing your second premise which states that “In our uniform and repeated experience, intelligent activity invariably arises from CSI-rich systems.”
    When I substitute ‘human thought’ for ‘intelligent activity’ and ‘the brain’ for ‘CSI-rich systems’ it says: “In our uniform and repeated experience, human thought invariably arises from the brain.”
    Your second premise is invalid. The opposite is true: nor our uniform and repeated experience (Aristotle included) nor science informs us that thought arises from the brain.

    RDFish #99: And with regard to your attempt to narrowly define “uniform experience” to exclude the vast knowledge, vetted by replicable experiment, and available to all, that catalogues brain function?

    In principle I do not exclude scientific findings from the domain of our uniform and repeated experience. However if scientific findings are not uniform with our (ordinary) uniform and repeated experience I don’t see how it can be incorporated without dropping the claim of uniformity. You on the other hand are not bound by the borders of rationality, I can see that now.

    For obvious reasons I see no point in any further discussion with RDFish.

  105. Box writes,

    We are discussing your second premise which states that “In our uniform and repeated experience, intelligent activity invariably arises from CSI-rich systems.”
    When I substitute ‘human thought’ for ‘intelligent activity’ and ‘the brain’ for ‘CSI-rich systems’ it says: “In our uniform and repeated experience, human thought invariably arises from the brain.

    Box makes a good point here, and I would like for RDF to take it on. Does he (RDF) or does he not claim that thoughts originate from or in the brain? Is he or is he not claiming that neuroscientists are, or have been, making this claim.

  106. Hi StephenB,

    Our experience that designers use their brains is irrelevant to ID’s argument about causation.

    And once again, the subject at hand is not ID’s argument about causation. Rather, I have pointed out that any sort of intelligent entity that is hypothesized by any empirically-based theory must be a complex physical entity in order to be consistent with our experience of intelligent agents.

    You are unwilling to accept this simple truth, and insist on changing the subject when I bring it up.

    Obviously this is a very sensitive matter for you, and you are unable to address the matter rationally. That’s OK, we can leave it at that.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  107. Hi Box,

    RDF: While of course there are plenty of ways to study subjective states (discover the physiological correlates of consciousness, interpret patient reports, and so on) that particular matter is irrelevant to my argument (…)
    BOX: It is also irrelevant to my argument, so one might wonder why you brought it up.

    Once again, I didn’t bring up the subject of consciousness, you did. (see post #24). Not only are you very confused about the argument you’re making, you can’t even keep straight who said what :-)

    The only thing that matters is that – despite massive scientific research – no scientist has ever witnessed a neuron producing a single thought.

    You are very, very funny. Nobody has witnessed a single spark plug move an automobile – does that convince you that cars do not need engines in order to propel themselves?

    I’ve never actually met anyone who has actually tried to argue that brains are not required for thinking. Please, I’m curious: What is it that you think brains do? Seriously – do you think they function to cool the blood? Where do you learn these things?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  108. Hi StephenB,

    Box makes a good point here, and I would like for RDF to take it on. Does he (RDF) or does he not claim that thoughts originate from or in the brain? Is he or is he not claiming that neuroscientists are, or have been, making this claim.

    Box makes a perfectly insane point here, Stephen.

    You can play with words all you’d like, and try to misinterpret everything I say so you don’t have to face the simple, obvious truth that I am forcing you to accept. Here it is again: Complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    It is really something to watch you folks squirm when faced with the most clear and obvious truth imaginable.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  109. blockauoteHere it is again: Complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    So you say. The designer of life will be happy to hear it. Meanwhile you slink away from my question:

    “Does he (RDF) or does he not claim that thoughts originate from or in the brain? Is he or is he not claiming that neuroscientists are, or have been, making this claim?”

  110. RDF

    Here it is again: Complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    So you say. The designer of life will be happy to hear it. Meanwhile you slink away from my question:

    “Does he (RDF) or does he not claim that thoughts originate from or in the brain? Is he or is he not claiming that neuroscientists are, or have been, making this claim?”

  111. Hi StephenB,

    RDF: Complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.
    SB: So you say.

    So says our uniform and repeated experience.

    The designer of life will be happy to hear it.

    And you wonder why everyone thinks that ID is a sham – religious folks pretending to follow the evidence where it leads EXCEPT when that evidence contradicts their religious views. What a joke!

    Meanwhile you slink away from my question:

    ME slinking away? Hahahahaha. I have watched as people attack every strawman they can think of – and as I patiently reiterate that my argument is based only on our experience, they slink away without acknowledging that my actual argument (rather than these strawmen) is obviously correct.

    Why don’t you admit that I’m correct about this? Where is your integrity?

    “Does he (RDF) or does he not claim that thoughts originate from or in the brain?

    My claim is that complex physical mechanism is necessary for intelligent action.

    Is he or is he not claiming that neuroscientists are, or have been, making this claim?”

    There are neuroscientists that make all sorts of claims, but I have never read anyone who believed that a human being could design something without using their brain.

    Are you really so terrified to follow the evidence where it leads? Why don’t you just concede this simple, obvious point, and then we can explore the implications for ID?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  112. RDFish

    ME slinking away? Hahahahaha.

    Yes, you slinking away.

    SB: Well, let’s examine your reasoning here. Does your phrase “think with the brain” mean that thoughts pass through the brain or does it mean that thoughts originate in or from the brain?

    RDF Slinks away and heads for the tall grass. No answer.

    SB” Only materialsts think that the brain leads the mind.

    RDF

    Virtually everyone who studies neuroscience or cognitive science would agree with my statement – even those who relatively few who believe in dualism and immortal souls.

    Contrary to your illogical claim, no one who believes in an immortal rational soul and knows what that means could ever say that thoughts originate in or from the brain. Alas, you are bluffing again. I call your bluff. Produce the evidence.

    RDF Slinks away and heads for the tall grass. No answer.

    Yes, you slinking away.

    It’s interesting. Each time you try to bluff your way out of a refutation, you go into your HaHaHaHaHa routine. Don’t ever try to play poker.

  113. Hi StephenB,

    Well, let’s examine your reasoning here. Does your phrase “think with the brain” mean that thoughts pass through the brain or does it mean that thoughts originate in or from the brain?

    RDF Slinks away and heads for the tall grass. No answer.

    I’ve answered you dozens of times – over and over and over again. You don’t like my answers, and so you pretend that I don’t answer. The reason you do this is because my answers are undeniably true, but they go against your religious beliefs, and that puts you into an irrational state.

    Here for the 1000th time is my answer: Nobody (neither you nor I nor anyone else) understands how brains work, whether or not they operate completely according to known physical principles, or whether or not something that completely transcends our understanding is involved in conscious thought. I therefore take no position on those questions. What is obviously true, however, is that brains are necessary for human thought. And more generally, nothing can design anything without some complex physical mechanism to store and process information.

    You know that what I say is true, but you hate it, and so you desperately try to change the subject. Then the funniest part is when you accuse ME of avoiding the topic!

    Virtually everyone who studies neuroscience or cognitive science would agree with my statement – even those who relatively few who believe in dualism and immortal souls.
    Contrary to your illogical claim, no one who believes in an immortal rational soul and knows what that means could ever say that thoughts originate in or from the brain.

    Alas, you are bluffing again. I call your bluff. Produce the evidence.

    HAHAHAHAHAHahahahahah there you go again! You want so badly for me to adopt some position that you can argue against! Too bad for you – that is not my position, so here you are arguing against a position that nobody here is taking! You are hysterical!

    For the 1001th time here is MY position. Not the position of some materialist neuroscientist, or some evolutionist, or some other person. MY POSITION, which you are terrified of, and refuse to engage:

    MY POSITION is that our shared experience confirms that human brains are necessary for human thought, and that nothing can design anything without some complex physical mechanism to store and process information.

    Once you agree with this simple, obvious, and undeniably true statement, we can explore the implications for ID theory.

    But you won’t, of course. Instead, you will try desperately to change the subject, to pretend I am saying something I am not saying.

    Hahahahahahahahaha

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  114. I guess Upright BiPed has given up too. Once I made it clear that he too was arguing against straw men that he was creating, he found he had no counter-argument, and just stopped responding. And Box too!

    Where are your good-faith concessions, people? Where is your integrity?

  115. I’ve answered you dozens of times – over and over and over again. You don’t like my answers, and so you pretend that I don’t answer.

    Wow, RD slinks away again. He says that we “think with our brain” and claims that I deny it. Yet if I ask him if that means that our thoughts pass through the brain or originate in the brain, the essential issue at stake, he runs away.

    HAHAHAHAHAHahahahahah there you go again! You want so badly for me to adopt some position that you can argue against!

    RD slinks away yet again. He says that many who believe in immortal souls also agree that the brain leads the mind. Yet when I ask him for evidence, he runs away.

    Always watch for the HaHaHaHaHa. It means RDF has been busted.

  116. I guess Upright BiPed has given up too. Once I made it clear that he too was arguing against straw men that he was creating, he found he had no counter-argument, and just stopped responding. And Box too!

    Well, not exactly. Actually RDF slinks away from UB’s questions and Box concluded that RDF is not a rational person. So, in response RDF does a victory dance. You’ve got to love it.

  117. StephenB,

    Why do you continue to attack RDF’s integrity and rationality and go off into irrelevancies instead of trying to rebut his argument?

    I’m disappointed that after all of this discussion you haven’t actually engaged his claim which, in case you’ve forgotten, is:

    Complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    Is that correct? If so, then you and he can discuss the implications for ID.

    If it is not correct, why not?

    Thank you.

  118. 118

    RDF @ 114,

    I guess Upright BiPed has given up too. Once I made it clear that he too was arguing against straw men that he was creating, he found he had no counter-argument, and just stopped responding.

    Your argument has been reduced to being valid only against an ID position that virtually no one takes (certainly not me). You were forced to acknowledge this fact, and did so.

    It is unclear to me what further action you think I am obligated to take.

  119. Danial King

    Why do you continue to attack RDF’s integrity and rationality and go off into irrelevancies instead of trying to rebut his argument?

    All my questions are based on his assertions, not mine. And they are directly related to the discussion. He just chooses to ignore them because he knows that his bluff has been exposed. I didn’t attack his integrity. I simply pointed to the fact that he dodged many of my questions and misrepresented several facts. I will let you decide whether that kind of behavior is consistent with good character.

    I’m disappointed that after all of this discussion you haven’t actually engaged his claim which, in case you’ve forgotten, is:

    Complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    Where have you been? I granted that premise arguendo–early and often. The problem is the argument that he tried to frame based on the premise, which doesn’t follow. Obviously, you are unaware of it, which prompts me to think that you are mindlessly playing the role of cheerleader for an anti-ID partisan. Never accept RDF’s summary of anything. It will always be misrepresentative of the facts.

  120. Yes, Daniel, that is precisely my argument, and quite well put! Here, I’ll repeat it yet again:

    Complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    The reason StephenB, UB, and Box refuse to engage that simple and obvious point is because they know it is, in fact, irrefutable, and this apparently conflicts with some strongly held beliefs of theirs.

    It has been pretty amazing watching these folks change the subject, erect strawmen, deliberately misinterpret my position, and simply stop posting – all because they have no response to my argument.

    Just look at UB’s last post (@118). Even now he fails to address my point! Instead, he pretends that I have made some argument about some particular version of ID, and pretends that I have been “forced to acknowledge” something about my argument, when in fact I haven’t changed it one iota since the discussion began.

    I just wish the people here were brave and honest enough to follow the evidence where it leads. If my argument turns out to have implications for ID, lets see what they are. But before that, we have to at least be able to agree on this simple and obvious point.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  121. Hi StephenB,

    I granted that premise arguendo–early and often.

    So you agree that in order to be consistent with our experience of intelligent agency, any theory that posits the activity of an intelligent agent must necessarily be positing the activity of a complex physical being. It’s been like pulling teeth just to get this far, so let’s make sure we’re on the same page before we proceed.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  122. Mr Daniel King you ask,

    Complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    Is that correct? If so, then you and he can discuss the implications for ID.

    If it is not correct, why not?

    If I may be so bold as to try to answer. It is incorrect to believe that nothing can design anything unless there is a physical mechanism present to store and process information. And the reason this is so is because (quantum) information is its own unique entity that is separate from, and indeed more primary than, matter and energy:

    Quantum Entanglement and Information
    Quantum entanglement is a physical resource, like energy, associated with the peculiar nonclassical correlations that are possible between separated quantum systems. Entanglement can be measured, transformed, and purified. A pair of quantum systems in an entangled state can be used as a quantum information channel to perform computational and cryptographic tasks that are impossible for classical systems. The general study of the information-processing capabilities of quantum systems is the subject of quantum information theory.
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-entangle/

    In fact, both matter and energy can be reduced to quantum information:

    New Breakthrough in (Quantum) Teleportation – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xqZI31udJg
    Quote from video:
    “There are 10^28 atoms in the human body.,, The amount of data contained in the whole human,, is 3.02 x 10^32 gigabytes of information. Using a high bandwidth transfer that data would take about 4.5 x 10^18 years to teleport 1 time. That is 350,000 times the age of the universe.”

    Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups
    Excerpt: In fact, copying isn’t quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable – it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can’t ‘clone’ a quantum state. In principle, however, the ‘copy’ can be indistinguishable from the original (that was destroyed),,,
    http://www.rsc.org/chemistrywo.....ammeup.asp

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....1769/posts

    Physicists set new record for quantum teleportation with matter qubits – Apr 16, 2013
    Excerpt: “The greatest significance of our work is the dramatic increase in efficiency compared to previous realizations of matter-matter teleportation,” Nölleke said. “Besides, it is the first demonstration of matter-matter teleportation between truly independent systems and constitutes the current record in distance of 21 m. The previous record was 1 m.”
    http://phys.org/news/2013-04-p.....ubits.html

    How Teleportation Will Work -
    Excerpt: In 1993, the idea of teleportation moved out of the realm of science fiction and into the world of theoretical possibility. It was then that physicist Charles Bennett and a team of researchers at IBM confirmed that quantum teleportation was possible, but only if the original object being teleported was destroyed. — As predicted, the original photon no longer existed once the replica was made.
    http://science.howstuffworks.c.....ation1.htm

    Quantum Teleportation – IBM Research Page
    Excerpt: “it would destroy the original (photon) in the process,,”
    http://researcher.ibm.com/view_project.php?id=2862

    Unconditional Quantum Teleportation – abstract
    Excerpt: This is the first realization of unconditional quantum teleportation where every state entering the device is actually teleported,,
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cont.....6.abstract

  123. Thus it is incorrect to look at information with the presumption that information cannot possibly exist unless a specific arrangement of matter and energy exist prior to it since the reality of the situation is that matter and energy are both reducible to, and therefore derived from, information in the first place. Also of note is that encoded ‘classical’ information such as what Dembski and Marks demonstrated the conservation of, such as what we find encoded in computer programs, and yes, as we find encoded in DNA, is found to be a subset of ‘transcendent’ (beyond space and time) quantum entanglement/information by the following method:,,,

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 2011
    Excerpt: No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy. Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

    ,,,And here is supporting evidence that quantum information is in fact ‘conserved’;,,,

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. This concept stems from two fundamental theorems of quantum mechanics: the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem. A third and related theorem, called the no-hiding theorem, addresses information loss in the quantum world. According to the no-hiding theorem, if information is missing from one system (which may happen when the system interacts with the environment), then the information is simply residing somewhere else in the Universe; in other words, the missing information cannot be hidden in the correlations between a system and its environment.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    Here is one, of many, references strongly indicating that quantum entanglement/information requires a non local, beyond space and time, cause in order to explain its effect:

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: To derive their inequality, which sets up a measurement of entanglement between four particles, the researchers considered what behaviours are possible for four particles that are connected by influences that stay hidden and that travel at some arbitrary finite speed.
    Mathematically (and mind-bogglingly), these constraints define an 80-dimensional object. The testable hidden influence inequality is the boundary of the shadow this 80-dimensional shape casts in 44 dimensions. The researchers showed that quantum predictions can lie outside this boundary, which means they are going against one of the assumptions. Outside the boundary, either the influences can’t stay hidden, or they must have infinite speed.,,,
    The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

    In fact, this ‘non-local’ quantum information is now found in molecular biology on a massive scale:

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – Elisabeth Rieper – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    the implications of all this for us are fairly obvious:

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness (Permanence/Conservation of Quantum Information) – Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video
    https://vimeo.com/39982578

    Music and verse:

    The Police – Spirits In The Material World – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq0KW-_48Cc

    Luke 23:43
    Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

  124. I wrote, “I granted that premise arguendo–early and often.”

    Well, now that I read RDF’s latest reframing of his own premise, things have changed. His latest version is this:

    Complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    At first, he argued that, based on our experience, no one has ever observed anything being designed without a complex physical mechanism, which I accepted arguendo.

    Now it has changed into an unqualified “nothing can design anything” without a complex physical mechanism, which is an entirely different matter.

    And so it goes.

  125. Yes, Daniel, that is precisely my argument, and quite well put! Here, I’ll repeat it yet again:

    Complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    That’s not an argument, it’s an assertion.

    Laugh away funny boy. We’re still waiting for an actual argument from you.

  126. Hi StephenB,

    At first, he argued that, based on our experience, no one has ever observed anything being designed without a complex physical mechanism, which I accepted arguendo.

    Great, thank you!

    Now it has changed into an unqualified “nothing can design anything” without a complex physical mechanism, which is an entirely different matter.

    Hahahahaha. Yes, this is called a discussion, Stephen, where we establish points of agreement and disagreement. It would get a bit boring if we just kept saying the same thing over and over, right?

    So I presented you with another statement, and you are obviously free to respond in any way you’d like. Do you agree with this statement as well? If so, we can explore other implications. If not, you can say why you disagree.

    Don’t worry, we’ll take it slowly. Here is what I’m saying at this point:


    In our uniform and repeated experience, complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    Do you agree or not?

    Give it a try – it really isn’t as hard as you think.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  127. Or, yet again, if we try to frame it as an argument we get:

    Premise: Complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information.

    Conclusion: therefore, without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    Once again, a non-sequitur. The conclusion just does not follow.

    RDFish. King of the non-sequitur. Laugh it up court jester. RDFool would be more appropriate.

  128. 128

    Just look at UB’s last post (@118). Even now he fails to address my point!

    I have already addressed your point, and have acknowledged it without reservation. However, the observation that intelligent action stems from a complex organized system does not alter or diminish the observation that CSI rises only from intelligent action.

    Instead, he pretends that I have made some argument about some particular version of ID,

    RDF your original claim stated that ID assumes “disembodied minds can produce complex physical mechanisms”. You were then disabused of this claim in more than one very effective manner. The first and most obvious of these is the fact that ID only attempts to explain the rise of complexity on earth at the origin of terrestrial life – not the rise of complexity in any context whatsoever (as your argument assumed).

    Unable to defend your position any further, you eventually altered your argument thus: “it shows that at least one version of ID (the one that attempts to explain the very first CSI in the universe) is not consistent with our universal experience.

    Please note the bolded text:

    “one version of ID” “is not consistent with our universal experience”.

    As a logical consequence, the remaining versions of ID are.

    This has been the counter-point to your argument all along, and your own recorded text agrees with it.

  129. RDFish @126
    Here’s rehash of my example from another post:
    Consider Paddy field. Its CSI is low
    Now consider Natural Crop circles on those paddy fields. The information about the geometric complexity of Crop circles were not stored in anything physical at all. Wouldn’t it be false to claim that Complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information in every situation? Of course if you meant in some situations, then I agree with you.

  130. RDFish:

    In our uniform and repeated experience, complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    Do you agree or not?

    Of course not. The conclusion does not follow from the premise. The conclusion should read, therefore, it is unlikely that anything related to our experience can design anything without a complex mechanism.

  131. Hi Upright BiPed,

    I have already addressed your point, and have acknowledged it without reservation.

    Excellent. Then we agree:

    In our uniform and repeated experience, complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    And I would presume then that you would also agree to the following without reservation:

    Any empirically-based theory that posits the activity of an intelligent agent must necessarily be positing the activity of a complex physical being.

    However, the observation that intelligent action stems from a complex organized system does not alter or diminish the observation that CSI rises only from intelligent action.

    Yes, just as I have been saying this all along.

    ID only attempts to explain the rise of complexity on earth at the origin of terrestrial life – not the rise of complexity in any context whatsoever (as your argument assumed).

    This is your version of ID. What you may not realize is that “ID” is a very big and loosely affliated tent, and not every ID proponent – not even on this very forum! – shares your vision of what ID claims to explain.

    Unable to defend your position any further, you eventually altered your argument…

    Uh, this would be in your hallucinations rather than in the real world. Here is actually what happens: As different ID proponents each insist that theirs is the canonical version of “ID”, I am forced to wade through the wildly differing views encountered here and try to address all of them. One decides that brains are not required for thinking, while another screams that it is riduculous to imagine any intelligent being without a brain. One claims that ID is the best explanation for the creation of the universe and the values of the physical constants, and another insists that ID only intends to explain the origin of terrestrial life.

    My argument is always the same, of course. It is the warring factions within ID that force me to reformulate my statements to address each different version of ID.

    “one version of ID” “is not consistent with our universal experience”.
    As a logical consequence, the remaining versions of ID are.

    Any theory that posits the existence of an intelligent being must, in order to be consistent with our experience of intelligent agents, hold that this intelligent being was a complex physical entity. Any version of ID that posits only intelligent agents with complex physical bodies is therefore consistent with our experience of intelligent agents.

    This has been the counter-point to your argument all along, and your own recorded text agrees with it.

    Of course I agree with it! I said it! It is not a “counter-point” to my argument – I have been making this point all along – which is why you have “recorded text” of it, duh. :-)

    So let us be clear on what we agree on so we may explore the implications. You and I agree (although not some others here, including Box and perhaps StephenB) that any empirically-based theory that posits the existence of an intelligent being must necessarily be talking about an entity with a complex physical body. Is that right?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  132. Hi selvaRajan

    Now consider Natural Crop circles on those paddy fields.

    Sorry, I know what crop circles are, but what are Natural Crop circles?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  133. Hi StephenB,

    RDF: In our uniform and repeated experience, complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything. Do you agree or not?
    SB: Of course not. The conclusion does not follow from the premise.

    My statement is a conjunctive proposition, not a logical inference, so there are no premises or conclusions. Have you been led astray by Mung’s delusional ramblings?

    The conclusion should read, therefore, it is unlikely that anything related to our experience can design anything without a complex mechanism.

    I actually have no serious objection to your reformulation. So now we agree on this:

    It is unlikely that anything related to our experience can design anything without a complex mechanism.

    It would seem to me, then, we should agree on the following:

    Any empirically-based theory that posits the existence of an intelligent being must necessarily be talking about an entity with a complex physical body.

    Perhaps you’d like to reformulate this to your liking, but I think the meaning does follow from the proposition we just agreed on.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  134. RDF:

    I actually have no serious objection to your reformulation. So now we agree on this:

    It is unlikely that anything related to our experience can design anything without a complex mechanism.”

    Good.

    It would seem to me, then, we should agree on the following:

    Any empirically-based theory that posits the existence of an intelligent being must necessarily be talking about an entity with a complex physical body.

    No, it doesn’t follow. But thank you for playing.

    Notice, by the way, that I cheerfully continue to answer all your questions and you conveniently continue to evade all my questions.

  135. i StephenB,

    RDF:Any empirically-based theory that posits the existence of an intelligent being must necessarily be talking about an entity with a complex physical body.

    SB: No, it doesn’t follow. But thank you for playing.
    Notice, by the way, that I cheerfully continue to answer all your questions …

    Yes, you are nothing if not cheerful, Stephen. Would you be so kind, then, as to say why you don’t agree with that statement? Or perhaps offer some sort of corrected version? How about this for example:

    No theory that claims to be consistent with our experience can posit an intelligent being that is not itself a complex physical being

    …and you conveniently continue to evade all my questions.

    As always I’ll be happy to answer all your questions, Stephen. What would you like me to answer?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  136. RDFish

    You can’t infer the “necessarily” because you granted the “unlikely” (@133).

    If *nothing* in our empirically-based experience can intelligently design absent complex mechanism, then any empirically-based theory of intelligent design must necessarily posit a designer with a complex mechanism.

    Seems right to me but something tells me StephenB won’t agree …

  137. Hi Clavdivs,

    You can’t infer the “necessarily” because you granted the “unlikely” (@133).

    If *nothing* in our empirically-based experience can intelligently design absent complex mechanism, then any empirically-based theory of intelligent design must necessarily posit a designer with a complex mechanism.

    Seems right to me but something tells me StephenB won’t agree …

    The assumption here is that theories would necessarily refrain from offering unlikely explanations, but yes, you’re right, Stephen will undoubtedly disagree.

    Here it is more clearly (it feels like I’m crafting a legal document here, with SB trying to find any possible loophole!):

    Any theory that claims to be (1) probably true and (2) consistent with our experience of intelligent agency must not posit the existence of an intelligent agent that is not a complex physical entity.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  138. RDFish

    “Any theory that claims to be (1) probably true and (2) consistent with our experience of intelligent agency must not posit the existence of an intelligent agent that is not a complex physical entity.

    No, it doesn’t follow. Actually, the earlier version was cleaner. “It is unlikely that anything related to our experience can design anything without a complex mechanism.”

    No doubt you would like to know why this doesn’t work. Since I have explained the reason numerous times, I should probably not bother with it. But just to show you what a good sport I am, I will step up one more time. However, this time, I am going to leave out the last step so you can figure it out for yourself.

    [a] “It is unlikely that anything related to our experience can design anything without a complex mechanism.”

    True statement

    [b] “It is unlikely that anything related to our experience can design anything without an immaterial mind.”

    True statement

    Pertaining to [a], it does not follow, however, that any theory consistent with our experience of intelligent agency must posit and intelligent agent that is a complex physical entity.

    Pertaining to [b], it does not follow, however, that any theory consistent with our experience of intelligent agency must posit an intelligent agent that is a pure spirit.

    Have you got it yet?

  139. 139

    RDF, all of the issues you raise in 131 have already been dealt with.

    You were asked to explain exactly how observation “B” (that any intelligent act requires an organized agent) alters or diminishes observation “A” (that CSI always arises from an intelligent act). When the question was asked over and over and over and over and over again, you finally answered that observation “B” didn’t alter or diminish observation “A” in any way whatsoever.

    Given the fact that the ID inference is based on observation A, and that observation B does not alter observation A, and the number of potential scenarios where observation A and B co-exists, one wonders if you might bring yourself to express even the slightest bit of intellectual discipline over your treatment of these facts.

    Thus far (like your sophomoric mistreatment of “universal experience”) you haven’t demonstrated much of a capacity for discipline.

  140. Hi StephenB,

    [a] “It is unlikely that anything related to our experience can design anything without a complex mechanism.”

    True statement

    [b] “It is unlikely that anything related to our experience can design anything without an immaterial mind.”

    True statement

    I’m not sure what you mean, actually, by “immaterial mind”, but perhaps “conscious mind” would make sense to both of us, OK? In that case yes, both of those statements are true, if a bit awkwardly expressed.

    Pertaining to [a], it does not follow, however, that any theory consistent with our experience of intelligent agency must posit and intelligent agent that is a complex physical entity.

    Well, you told me that you were going to explain why you think that; I guess you must have forgotten. Is it because a theory may still posit a disembodied designer even though it is unlikely to exist given our experience-based knowledge?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  141. Hi Upright BiPed,

    You were asked to explain exactly how observation “B” (that any intelligent act requires an organized agent) alters or diminishes observation “A” (that CSI always arises from an intelligent act). When the question was asked over and over and over and over and over again, you finally answered that observation “B” didn’t alter or diminish observation “A” in any way whatsoever.

    I see you have very funny debating trick where you pretend your opponent is forced into various concessions when in fact they have kept the exact same argument throughout. Does anyone ever actually fall for that? I guess it was funny the first time, anyway; now it’s just a stupid time-waster.

    Anyway, as I have said from the very beginning, both statements of our experience are true, and neither “diminishes” or “alters” the other, so we needn’t revisit that yet again.

    Given the fact that the ID inference is based on observation A, and that observation B does not alter observation A, and the number of potential scenarios where observation A and B co-exists, one wonders if you might bring yourself to express even the slightest bit of intellectual discipline over your treatment of these facts.

    The problem with your argument is that when when you say “The ID Inference is based on observation A”, you are equivocating on the term “ID Inference”. If that inference refers to a complex embodied designer, then ID is consistent with our experience; otherwise it is not.

    I went to some effort to explain all of this to you, but you neglected to respond. The reason you won’t respond is because you don’t actually want to debate this (because you know you will lose). Otherwise, simply concede that what I say is correct, and let’s see where the evidence leads us!

    Once again:

    1) The term “design inference” refers to the activity of an intelligent entity
    2) It does not specify if this intelligent entity is a complex physical entity or not
    3) If ID specified that the intelligent entity was a complex physical entity, then it would be consistent with our experience of intelligent agents.
    4) If ID specified that the intelligent entity was NOT a complex physical entity, then it would NOT be consistent with our experience of intelligent agents (even though this is the sort of entity that most adherents of ID Theory have in mind)
    5) This is a critical difference, and there is nothing wrong with pointing out that only one of these two types of intelligent entity that ID may be hypothesizing is consistent with our experience, while the other type is not.

    And that is what I am doing: I am simply making the perfectly obvious point that in order to be consistent with our experience-based knowledge, we must consider any sort of intelligent agency that is hypothesized to be responsible for biological systems to have itself been a complex physical entity.

    You are trying very hard to justify an equivocation here: You wish to leave it an open question whether or not ID’s Designer is a complex physical being. And of course you do, because you believe very strongly that ID’s Designer transcends corporeal form. You are loathe to accept that an incorporeal Designer would inconsistent with the empirical evidence, and so you try to prevent any discussion that would mention that inconvenient fact. You want to appeal to empirical evidence just up to a point (the part where you get intelligent agency) but then you refuse to look at what else that empirical evidence supports (the part that says intelligent agents are necessarily complex physical entities).

    Well, you can’t have it both ways. Either you drop the pretense of basing ID on empirical evidence, or you concede that the empirical evidence suggests that the Designer ID offers as an explanation of CSI would have to have been a complex physical entity, just like all other intelligent designers in our experience.

    Again, once you accept this simple, obvious point we can examine the implications for ID theory in general.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  142. RDFish:

    Well, you told me that you were going to explain why you think that; I guess you must have forgotten.

    By all means.
    Your analysis is, and always has been, too constricted and is, therefore, unreasonable. In fact, we can logically go directly from this: “It is unlikely that anything related to our experience can design anything without a complex mechanism” –to this: “Still, it is entirely possible that something outside of our experience can design something without a complex mechanism.” Our repeated and uniform experience allows for and even anticipates things outside of our experience. Everything turns on the quality of the evidence and the reliability of the methods used. Your methods are unreliable because they have not been tested and the methods of historical science are reliable because they have been tested. It’s really no more complicated than that.

  143. Hi StephenB,

    Your analysis is, and always has been, too constricted and is, therefore, unreasonable. In fact, we can logically go directly from this: “It is unlikely that anything related to our experience can design anything without a complex mechanism” –to this: “Still, it is entirely possible that something outside of our experience can design something without a complex mechanism.”

    Yes, of course, Stephen.

    We could also say something like “It is entirely possible that something outside of our experience that has no conscious mind or intelligence at all can result in CSI-rich structures such as we observe in biological systems”.

    Nobody can predict what sorts of things that are entirely outside of our experience currently may be uncovered someday. For example, quantum physics was entirely beyond our experience – and even our imagination – until it was discovered only a hundred years ago.

    So perhaps we now finally agree: The only things in our experience that can design and build complex structures are all embodied as complex physical entities. Any other sort of intelligent agent that any theory might posit is not consistent with our experience-based knowledge. Once one begins to make conjectures about intelligent agents that are not themselves complex physical entities, one needs to provide actual evidence that such things might exist; otherwise, one might as well just point to some unknown aspect of nature that is entirely outside of our experience and understanding that somehow promotes the formation of complex form and function. It’s really no more complicated than that.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  144. 144

    I see you have very funny debating trick where you pretend your opponent is forced into various concessions when in fact they have kept the exact same argument throughout.

    Oh no, you’ve become confused about what your concession entailed. But I assure you it’s no trick. It’s what happens when someone makes claims they cannot defend, so their claim becomes whittled down to a splinter of its former glory, but because the person has no intention of actually conceding their losses, you are obligated to watch carefully for the point in the conversation where they reposition their argument. And that is exactly what you did, RDF. You started off claiming that ID (all ID) must assume an immaterial designer, then after losing your shirt, you re-constituted your claim to involve only a version of ID that claims to explain complexity in any context whatsoever. Hence, the subtle re-positioning of your argument to “show that at least one version of ID (the one that attempts to explain the very first CSI in the universe) is not consistent with our universal experience”. Those are your words Skippy. Get over it.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

    Anyway, as I have said from the very beginning, both statements of our experience are true, and neither “diminishes” or “alters” the other, so we needn’t revisit that yet again

    That’s really rich. Your observation (regarding the physical nature of the designer) does nothing whatsoever to alter or diminish the observation that enables the design inference. So you’d like to set that fact aside and not talk about it any further. Hilarious.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

    The problem with your argument is that when you say “The ID Inference is based on observation A”, you are equivocating on the term “ID Inference”. If that inference refers to a complex embodied designer, then ID is consistent with our experience; otherwise it is not.

    You just keep getting better and better. Now you want to re-define what the design inference is. Not a chance. The design inference (with regard to CSI) is derived solely from the fact that CSI is universally found to result from the action of an intelligent agent. End.

    Your entire shtick here has been to build a talking point where you can say “the ID hypothesis does not conform to our universal experience”. That is all you are after, and it would have been difficult for you to have been more transparent about it. However, for you to accomplish your goal, you must force the design inference to include an immaterial designer as a necessity in reaching the inference to design.

    But here’s the deal, the inference is made complete and valid without any reference whatsoever to the physical nature of the designer, and you know it. Not only that, but you were specifically challenged to provide some rationale that made the nature of the designer indivisible from reaching the inference itself – but all your rational follows the inference; none of it was indivisible. Not only did you fail this challenge, but as you have now stated several times yourself; the physical nature of the designer does not alter or diminish the observation that CSI rises from design.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

    Beyond this noted fatal flaw, your argument has two serious problems. The first is in regards to your rather useless conception of “universal experience” and the other is in regards to your assumptions about ID and immateriality.

    As for “universal experience”, we can immediately agree on the value of using our universal experience as a measure of reliable knowledge. There is no question about that value. Unfortunately, you seem to want to use universal experience as a billyclub to beat square pegs into round holes. You’ve spent a great deal of time on UD talking about how the very proposition of something beyond our universal experience makes ID a “BAD THEORY”. You’ve repeated this position over and over again. Apparently, it has never occurred to you that under this rubric, the only ”good theory” of life’s origin would be one that is already a part of our universal experience. This doesn’t leave much room for the investigation of a historical event from the unobservable past – does it? In fact, one has to wonder if your idiosyncratic naming convention for historical theories makes one bit of sense at all. In any case, I think we can say with complete confidence, that if any of us were to suddenly be given the knowledge of how life on earth came into being, we would be coming into the possession of knowledge BEYOND OUR UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE. This should be rather obvious, but here again; you seem to lack any rational perspective on such things. It’s as if you’ve never really thought things through.

    And finally is the problem with your charge of immateriality within ID. You throw out the supposed “immaterial hypothesis” of ID, as if the mere accusation itself will insulate your argument against all reproach – but your position is just flat mistaken. It is entirely conceivable that we could come to know that life on earth began as an act of design, and at the same time, violate absolutely nothing of our universal experience of what is physically possible or not possible in the universe. But let us continue to be forthright; the real target for your “immaterial” bullet is the ID theist who believes in a Supreme Being as the originator of life. But yet here again, your position simply never achieves its goal. You’ve completely failed to demonstrate that such a class of being must necessarily be “immaterial”. To the contrary, it is entirely conceivable our conception of immaterial is useless, and that such a Supreme Being is just as physical as the energy that originated the universe in the first place.

    So once again, even in the extreme, your argument simply falls short.

    However, you have made it clear that none of this matters to you in the least. You clearly intend on going on with your “BAD THEORY” schtick regardless of the fact that the design inference doesn’t rely on the nature of the designer, or that the only “good theory” in your world is a solution you already have – one with no hypothetical element and no provisional nature. So what’s the point of the conversation?

    good luck…

  145. Hi UprightBiPed,

    Oh no, you’ve become confused about what your concession entailed.

    No, you are of course the one who is confused: I am making exactly the same arguments now as I’ve made all along. Once you finally agree to the simple and obvious points I make regarding our experience-based knowledge of intelligent agents, you will see how the rest of the implications for ID (that we discussed some weeks ago in other threads) will play out.

    The reason I have to do this in simple steps is because (1) none of you ID folks agree on what “ID Theory” is supposed to explain, and so I have to formulate these arguments differently for different versions of ID; and (2) none of you ID folks are able to follow any sort of subtle or conditional argumentation, and so unless I break it down into simple steps we just go in endless circles of evasion.

    Let me repeat some of these problems for you (you apparently require a great deal of repitition before you can actually comprehend these things):

    Some ID folks here argue that brains are not required for thinking, while others insist that it is riduculous to imagine any intelligent being without a brain!

    Some ID folks here argue that ID is the best explanation for the creation of the universe and the values of the physical constants, and while others (like you) insist that ID only intends to explain the origin of terrestrial life.

    Since you ID folks can’t even decide what this “ID Theory” is supposed to mean, or to explain, I hope you can see why no single formulation of my simple arguments can address the wide range of ideas that supposedly comprise this “scientific theory” of yours.

    Your observation (regarding the physical nature of the designer) does nothing whatsoever to alter or diminish the observation that enables the design inference. So you’d like to set that fact aside and not talk about it any further. Hilarious.

    If you were able to read and understand language a little better, you would find that I have been adamant since the very beginning that both of these statements are true summaries of our shared experience. Therefore, your bizarre notion that one was supposed to “diminish” or “alter” the other is simply nonsensical – our experience is what it is, and both statements are true descriptions of our experience.

    What you fail to understand (among other things) is how our experience relates to our explanations of various phenomena we might be interested in explaining. But we need to work through that step-by-step, so you don’t get confused.

    The design inference (with regard to CSI) is derived solely from the fact that CSI is universally found to result from the action of an intelligent agent. End.

    You have put your fingers in your ears, and you are screaming for me to stop telling you what the truth is, because you don’t want to hear it. “END!” you cry. “Stop, please, don’t say any more about the designer because I can’t stand to hear it! My precious beliefs in transcendent mind are too fragile to discuss, and so I forbid any discussion that might make me evaluate my beliefs against the evidence!”

    That is simply pathetic. You are pretending to base your religious beliefs on scientific evidence, but when it doesn’t go your way, all you do is shout out “END! YOU CAN’T TALK ABOUT THAT!”

    If you aren’t willing to take the evidence where it leads, then stop pretending to care about evidence, and just admit your beliefs are faith-based like all of those good old-fashioned religious people used to do.

    However, for you to accomplish your goal, you must force the design inference to include an immaterial designer as a necessity in reaching the inference to design.

    Oh good grief – can’t you read? I have written this to you four times now:


    1) The term “design inference” refers to the activity of an intelligent entity
    2) It does not specify if this intelligent entity is a complex physical entity or not
    3) If ID specified that the intelligent entity was a complex physical entity, then it would be consistent with our experience of intelligent agents.
    4) If ID specified that the intelligent entity was NOT a complex physical entity, then it would NOT be consistent with our experience of intelligent agents (even though this is the sort of entity that most adherents of ID Theory have in mind)
    5) This is a critical difference, and there is nothing wrong with pointing out that only one of these two types of intelligent entity that ID may be hypothesizing is consistent with our experience, while the other type is not.

    I know you won’t respond to that – you’ll just ignore it again, your fear and loathing preventing you from understanding these simple points. You have no response to my arguments (but your behavior is pretty interesting from a clinical point of view).

    Apparently, it has never occurred to you that under this rubric, the only ”good theory” of life’s origin would be one that is already a part of our universal experience.

    You are just grasping at straws here. The Big Bang is one example of a well-supported empirical theory of events in the past that we cannot experience, but that is consistent with our uniform experience of physical laws. This counter-argument – like all the others you’ve tried – fails (this one is a total non-starter).

    But let us continue to be forthright; the real target for your “immaterial” bullet is the ID theist who believes in a Supreme Being as the originator of life.

    I have never had any problem at all with people that hold theistic views of course!

    The real targets of my arguments are people like you who attempt to co-opt the imprimatur of science in order to push their own particular religious beliefs upon others, but then are afraid to actually subject their views to the sort of critique that all scientific results must be subjected to. You want to claim that science shows your religious views are correct, but then refuse to discuss all of the empirical evidence that may be inconsistent your beliefs. “End!” you cry! “No more evidence, please!”

    Theists who are honest about their faith have my full respect. Theists who pretend that their particular views about religion are based on empirical science, like you, do not.

    To the contrary, it is entirely conceivable our conception of immaterial is useless, and that such a Supreme Being is just as physical as the energy that originated the universe in the first place.

    I’m not talking about what is “entirely conceivable” of course – I’m talking about the things ID folks pretend are supported by our experience-based knowledge. We have no experience-based knowledge of anything that can design things – nothing that can perceive, reason, plan, predict, solve problems, or any task that involves storing and processing information about the world – unless it is a complex physical entity. If you want to make some scientific theory of origins that involves some being that can do these things, just be honest about what you’re talking about and we can see how likely it is that such a thing might have existed.

    Just stop pretending, and hold your beliefs with integrity and honesty. It really is a much better way to live.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  146. 146

    :)

    a complete loss of control, right off the deep end

  147. Upright BiPed @146,

    That is not a cogent rebuttal. It is a rude thumb in the eye.

    Please try to behave in a civil manner or retire from the discussion.

  148. RDF:

    So perhaps we now finally agree: The only things in our experience that can design and build complex structures are all embodied as complex physical entities.

    Finally agree? I granted the point arguendo in 1980. (A small exaggeration). Those strawmen are so darned useful aren’t they?

    Any other sort of intelligent agent that any theory might posit is not consistent with our experience-based knowledge.

    Well, no, not hardly. It was not in vain that I said, “Our repeated and uniform experience allows for and even anticipates things outside of our experience.” That means, of course, that any ID inference to design that allows for a disembodies designer, is indeed, consistent with our experience. Naturally, you cut those definitive words out of your recapitulation, you rascal you. That is so unlike you (insert smiley face).

  149. StephenB, responding to RDF’s argument that I quoted:

    The problem is the argument that he tried to frame based on the premise, which doesn’t follow. Obviously, you are unaware of it, which prompts me to think that you are mindlessly playing the role of cheerleader for an anti-ID partisan.

    As someone might have said in another thread, when you accuse people who disagree with you of bad faith, ignorance, mindlessness or irrationaliy merely for disagreeing, it does you no credit. Nor does it advance the discussion.

  150. 150

    Daniel at #149: As someone might have said in another thread, when you accuse people who disagree with you of bad faith, ignorance, mindlessness or irrationaliy merely for disagreeing, it does you no credit. Nor does it advance the discussion.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - –

    RDF: No, you are of course the one who is confused … none of you ID folks are able to follow any sort of subtle or conditional argumentation … you apparently require a great deal of repitition before you can actually comprehend these things … If you were able to read and understand language a little better … your bizarre notion … is simply nonsensical … What you fail to understand (among other things) … we need to work through that step-by-step, so you don’t get confused … You have put your fingers in your ears, and you are screaming for me to stop telling you what the truth is, because you don’t want to hear it. “END!” you cry. “Stop, please, don’t say any more about the designer because I can’t stand to hear it! My precious beliefs in transcendent mind are too fragile to discuss, and so I forbid any discussion that might make me evaluate my beliefs against the evidence!” … That is simply pathetic. You are pretending to base your religious beliefs on scientific evidence, but when it doesn’t go your way, all you do is shout out “END! YOU CAN’T TALK ABOUT THAT!” … If you aren’t willing to take the evidence where it leads, then stop pretending to care about evidence, and just admit your beliefs are faith-based like all of those good old-fashioned religious people used to do … Oh good grief – can’t you read? … I know you won’t respond to that – you’ll just ignore it again, your fear and loathing preventing you from understanding these simple points … The real targets of my arguments are people like you who attempt to co-opt the imprimatur of science in order to push their own particular religious beliefs upon others, but then are afraid to actually subject their views to the sort of critique that all scientific results must be subjected to. You want to claim that science shows your religious views are correct, but then refuse to discuss all of the empirical evidence that may be inconsistent your beliefs. “End!” you cry! “No more evidence, please!”

    UB: a complete loss of control, right off the deep end

    Daniel: That is not a cogent rebuttal. It is a rude thumb in the eye.

    Please try to behave in a civil manner or retire from the discussion.

    Ya can’t make this stuff up.

  151. Daniel King should apply for discussion supervisor here at uncommondescent.

  152. UB,

    Just as I predicted: Even when you have no more room to run, you still won’t actually engage the argument.

    Anyone – like you – who wants to leave the question open of whether or not ID’s “designer” is a complex embodied entity is disingenuous, pure and simple. It’s been ID’s ploy from the very beginning.

    You refuse to discuss the very explanation you believe ought be accepted by all as the best scientific explanation of life, the universe, and everything. You refuse to discuss any scientific evidence that discredits your theory.

    Your only rebuttal is “Oh, you have gone off the deep end!”

    That is not an argument – that is a surrender.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  153. Upright Biped @144, you write,

    You’ve repeated this position over and over again. Apparently, it has never occurred to you that under this rubric, the only ”good theory” of life’s origin would be one that is already a part of our universal experience. This doesn’t leave much room for the investigation of a historical event from the unobservable past – does it? In fact, one has to wonder if your idiosyncratic naming convention for historical theories makes one bit of sense at all. In any case, I think we can say with complete confidence, that if any of us were to suddenly be given the knowledge of how life on earth came into being, we would be coming into the possession of knowledge BEYOND OUR UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE. This should be rather obvious, but here again; you seem to lack any rational perspective on such things. It’s as if you’ve never really thought things through.

    This is well stated and dramatizes three important aspects of RD’s confusion. First, he characterizes repeated and universal experience solely in terms of our accumulated sense experience without taking account of the improved judgment that arises from that experience. Second, he doesn’t link his analysis with ID’s claims or the historical methods that support them–the same historical methods that are derived from our experience. Third, he rules out, in principle, any future designer that we might discover that could fine tune the knowledge we have already acquired through experience. In the most ironic fashion conceivable, RD feigns fidelity to the standard of uniform experience even as he disdains the scientific wisdom and cause-detection methodology that we have acquired through that same experience. It doesn’t get any better than that.

  154. Daniel King,
    From others’ comments here I am assuming you are actually an ID supporter, which makes me even more grateful for your even-handed comments. Thank you!
    Cheers,
    RDFish

  155. Hi StephenB,

    First, he characterizes repeated and universal experience solely in terms of our accumulated sense experience without taking account of the improved judgment that arises from that experience.

    You have already agreed that our universal experience is that design is impossible without complex physical mechanism, so this is irrelevant.

    Second, he doesn’t link his analysis with ID’s claims or the historical methods that support them–the same historical methods that are derived from our experience.

    Your allusion to these “non-negotiable methods” are simply a way to detour aware from the simple and obvious points I am making. There is no need for elaborate methodology in order to evaluate the simple arguments I am making. You are simply trying to derail the discussion – otherwise, you would explain which of these rules of historical science you believe I have somehow violated.

    Third, he rules out, in principle, any future designer that we might discover that could fine tune the knowledge we have already acquired through experience.

    Three pitches, three strikes. I just got through saying the exact opposite to you, but of course you ignored it (post #143): Nobody can predict what sorts of things that are entirely outside of our experience currently may be uncovered someday. Wow, that was a blatant error even for you.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  156. No, RD, actually, you dissembled as usual. The fact that you feel the need to do that is instructive. But thank you for playing.

  157. Daniel King,

    As someone might have said in another thread, when you accuse people who disagree with you of bad faith, ignorance, mindlessness or irrationaliy merely for disagreeing, it does you no credit. Nor does it advance the discussion.

    You seem to forget that some people really do argue in bad faith and the signs are fairly evident when it happens. How, in your opinion, should one respond to that trait. I would be interested in your opinion.

  158. All,

    Both UB and StephenB respond with nothing except dismissals at this point. I responded clearly and in good faith to each of SB’s three points, and he has no rebuttal at all (except to say “thanks for playing”).

    This is very bad form indeed.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  159. RDF writes

    Daniel King,
    From others’ comments here I am assuming you are actually an ID supporter, which makes me even more grateful for your even-handed comments. Thank you!

    RD, you are a regular riot. Really, you are. Next you will be thanking Alan Fox for his disinterested and thoughtful support.

  160. Hi StephenB,

    First, he characterizes repeated and universal experience solely in terms of our accumulated sense experience without taking account of the improved judgment that arises from that experience.

    You have already agreed that our universal experience is that design is impossible without complex physical mechanism, so this is irrelevant.

    Second, he doesn’t link his analysis with ID’s claims or the historical methods that support them–the same historical methods that are derived from our experience.

    Your allusion to these “non-negotiable methods” are simply a way to detour aware from the simple and obvious points I am making. There is no need for elaborate methodology in order to evaluate the simple arguments I am making. You are simply trying to derail the discussion – otherwise, you would explain which of these rules of historical science you believe I have somehow violated.

    Third, he rules out, in principle, any future designer that we might discover that could fine tune the knowledge we have already acquired through experience.

    Three pitches, three strikes. I just got through saying the exact opposite to you, but of course you ignored it (post #143): Nobody can predict what sorts of things that are entirely outside of our experience currently may be uncovered someday.

    Wow, that was a blatant error even for you.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  161. RDF, I am surprised you didn’t comment on these words of StephenB’s:

    “Well, no, not hardly. It was not in vain that I said, “Our repeated and uniform experience allows for and even anticipates things outside of our experience.” That means, of course, that any ID inference to design that allows for a disembodies designer, is indeed, consistent with our experience.”

    Effectively, what StephenB has just said is that absolutely everything is consistent with our experience, even things that aren’t.

  162. RDFish:

    My statement is a conjunctive proposition, not a logical inference, so there are no premises or conclusions. Have you been led astray by Mung’s delusional ramblings?

    You mean the delusional rambling where I clearly said the same thing you say now, that your statement is not an argument?

    Mung @125:

    That’s not an argument, it’s an assertion.

    And yet you also plainly stated:

    Yes, Daniel, that is precisely my argument, and quite well put! Here, I’ll repeat it yet again:

    Complex physical mechanism is required to store and process information, and without such a mechanism, nothing can design anything.

    So were you lying then, or are you lying now?

    It’s precisely your argument, but it’s not an argument. Sure. Whatever you say.

  163. RDFish:

    Both UB and StephenB respond with nothing except dismissals at this point.

    By your own admission you don’t have an argument, all you have so far is a “conjunctive proposition.” No wonder people are dismissive.

    Arguments compel assent. Conjunctive propositions don’t.

  164. 5for: RDF, I am surprised you didn’t comment on these words of StephenB’s (…)

    I would be surprised if RDF would ever address the issues stated by SB – or anyone else.

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