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Keep Your Eye on the Cause Ball

In his post below Clive Hayden quotes Dr. Bruce Gordon: “spontaneous creation” minus “any cause illustrates the lack of an explanation rather than scientific comprehension.”

nikkipolya objects: “The popular interpretation of Quantum Mechanics is also anything but comprehensible. Yet, it correctly explains most of the phenomena at the atomic level. Comprehensibility is a problem that only exists in the brain. You are trying to correlate two unrelated problems.”

nikkipolya does not appear to understand Gordon’s basic point. The equations of quantum mechanics describe certain regularities (i.e., “laws”) of sub-atomic phenomena. In no sense do the equations of quantum mechanics explain how or why those regularities came into existence in the first place

Thus, at its base, nikkipolya’ objection depends on an equivocation on the word “explain.” “Explain” can mean to describe how something came into being and it can also mean to describe why something came into being. Nikkipolya uses the word in the former sense, while Gordon is using it in the latter.

Here is a rough analogy: Say we can go back in time and videotape Leonardo da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa. We could then analyze that videotape and write a description of everything Leonardo did to create the painting. That description would read something like this: “The painter stretched a canvas on a frame. The then painter dabbed his brush into the blue paint and applied it in four light downward strokes to sector 15 of the canvas. The painter then dapped his brush in green paint and applied two heavy horizontal strokes in sector 23 of the canvas, and so on.” Our detailed account of the painting process would describe how the painting came into being. It would not explain why the painting came into existence (i.e., Leonardo needed to make a living and he was commissioned to paint a portrait and he decided to do so).

In terms of Aristotelian causation, our account of the painting is an account of the material and efficient causes of the painting. It is not an account of the final cause of the painting.

Hawkings runs off the rails when he forgets the first principles of science laid down by Francis Bacon in 1605 when he noted that science takes account of only material and efficient causes. It does not take account of final or formal causes.

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89 Responses to Keep Your Eye on the Cause Ball

  1. It’s very simple and does not deserve a whole lot of thought.

    Hawking is replacing the old materialist paradigm of eternal matter with a new paradigm of eternal law. Neither viewpoint entails a “something from nothing” claim, whatever Hawking says.

  2. Ah see the issue is that Hawkins is just doign the same old crap that “religious” agnostics and atheists have been doing forever. He trys to play it cool and make his proposed theory sound honest by conceeding the basic inadequecy of a materialistic world view ( just like Darwin did by appealing to mechancial determinstic and random mechanisms) but in this case Hawkins is appealing directly to the metaphyscial. To Hawkins laws need not imply a legislator- just like to Darwin selection need not imply a intelligent selector- except netheir can explain the origin of where the mechanisms of their own theories arises from. Both Hakins and Drawin are taking the liberty of special pleeding for their theories- because we do not see unintelligent seletion in nature producing anything novel from scratch- and nor do we ever know of one case where a natural law capable of designing complex functional phenomea “came” into being. We do however know of many cases where productive laws have been inacted via “intelligent agents”…

    Darwins theory at the least fails to account for first life and enviornemntal landscapes. Hawkins fails to deomstrate any check whatsoever for his imcomplete postulated theory.

    Hawkin’s God is simply natual laws themselves- and Darwin’s God was random events and evviornmental/sexual selection. Netheir of these individuals saw the need for any “personal” origin or explanation of complexity- nor did they see anyhting in nature supporting the existence of their incomplete Gods.

  3. I don’t see how a “paradigm of eternal law” is any more problematic than a paradigm of an eternal being. Neither paradigm is testable, and has been mentioned in other threads recently, both represent possible metaphysical explanations for the core nature of the world.

  4. Aleta;

    Just what ‘eternal law’ is it that allows us to create energy and violate the first law of thermodynamics. Please do supply Hawking’s missing empirical confirmation so that he may at least have a speck of observational evidence to support his conjecture,, Personally I feel he may have a bit of a hard time doing that since it takes a infinite amount of specified information to create a photon:

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1)
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    ——-

    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://www.research.ibm.com/qu.....portation/

    But to reflect just a bit more on the teleportation experiment itself, is interesting to note that scientists can only ‘destroy’ a photon in these quantum teleportation experiments. No one has ‘created’ a photon as of yet. I firmly believe man shall never do as such, since I hold only God is infinite, and perfect, in information/knowledge.

    Job 38:19-20
    “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings?”

    Further reflection on the quantum teleportation experiment:

    That a photon would actually be destroyed upon the teleportation (separation) of its ‘infinite’ information to another photon is a direct controlled violation of the first law of thermodynamics. (i.e. a photon ‘disappeared’ from the ‘material’ universe when the entire information content of a photon was ‘transcendently displaced’ from the material universe by the experiment, when photon “c” transcendently became transmitted photon “a”). Thus, Quantum teleportation is direct empirical validation for the primary tenet of the Law of Conservation of Information (i.e. ‘transcendent’ information cannot be created or destroyed). This conclusion is warranted because information exercises direct dominion of energy, telling energy exactly what to be and do in the experiment. Thus, this experiment provides a direct line of logic that transcendent information cannot be created or destroyed and, in information demonstrating transcendence, and dominion, of space-time and matter-energy, becomes the only known entity that can satisfactorily explain where all energy came from as far as the origination of the universe is concerned. That is transcendent information is the only known entity which can explain where all the energy came from in the Big Bang without leaving the bounds of empirical science as the postulated multiverse does. Clearly anything that exercises dominion of the fundamental entity of this physical universe, a photon of energy, as transcendent information does in teleportation, must of necessity possess the same, as well as greater, qualities as energy does possess in the first law of thermodynamics (i.e. Energy cannot be created or destroyed by any known material means according to the first law). To reiterate, since information exercises dominion of energy in quantum teleportation then all information that can exist, for all past, present and future events of energy, already must exist.

    notes,,,

    The First Cause Must Be A Personal Being – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4813914

    Light and Quantum Entanglement Reflect Some Characteristics Of God – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4102182

    “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.”
    Albert Einstein
    http://www.rd.com/your-america.....176-2.html

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.” – Richard Swenson

    Aleta that definitely is NOT a materialistic prediction, but fits extremely well into the Theistic framework.

    Special Relativity – Time Dilation and Length Contraction – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSRIyDfo_mY

  5. I don’t see how a “paradigm of eternal law” is any more problematic than a paradigm of an eternal being. Neither paradigm is testable, and has been mentioned in other threads recently, both represent possible metaphysical explanations for the core nature of the world.

    Sure. If you are content with both viewpoints being equal, that’s fine with us. We’d prefer to be allowed to participate in science right alongside you though, but only if that’s ok with you.

  6. This is a metaphysical belief, and there is no empirical evidence (other than the fact that a lawful universe does exists), nor do I, or anyone else, have any idea, or way of finding out, what the eternal law is (or laws, or Platonic world, or whatever it might be).

    But positing such a concept is no different than positing an eternal being who somehow created a universe out of nothing.

    That is my main point – we can’t know, and we ought to recognize our speculations as just that.

  7. Post 6 was to ba – I hadn’t seen tragic mishap’s. And I should have quoted: the “this” in the first sentence referred to “a paradigm of eternal law.”

    So to tragic – Sure, participate away (as if I had much say about the matter.) Let’s study how the world works in science, realizing its limitations, and let’s share our religious and metaphysical speculations, and recognize their limitations.

  8. Aleta,

    Don’t you find it even a little bit ‘confirming’ to the Theistic postulation that the universe was created by the Infinite Mind of Almighty God, to find that all of reality reduces to information, and to specifically find that mathematical definition of a photon is infinite information, Shoot a photon can ‘hypothetically be encoded with infinite information;

    Single photons to soak up data:
    Excerpt: the orbital angular momentum of a photon can take on an infinite number of values. Since a photon can also exist in a superposition of these states, it could – in principle – be encoded with an infinite amount of information.
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/7201

    notes:

    “It from bit symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom – at a very deep bottom, in most instances – an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that things physical are information-theoretic in origin.” John Archibald Wheeler

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.” Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum teleportation:
    http://www.metanexus.net/Magaz.....fault.aspx

    ,,,

    It is very compelling to find that the only things capable of producing functional information that we know of are our minds. Thus it is only logical to infer that the source of this infinite functional information, which specifies each photon comes from a infinite mind!

    Shoot even the foundational equations which govern this universe are ‘functional information’ in their character, and what are the universal constants save for transcendent information parameters the the material components, which are themselves made out of infinite information, must obey? The whole shooting match is information, and we know from our uniform repeated experience that information always comes from a mind!

  9. Aleta,
    to postulate some inflexible law as ‘creator’ of the universe with no supporting evidence whatsoever, as I have partially presented the compelling case for Theism, simply is not science, but is merely the stating of your philosophical preference.

    Just curious, do you still believe material processes can create the staggering levels of information we find in life though you have never seen material processes create any information whatsoever?

  10. ba77 (#9) – I would agree with you except material processes do create some information. It’s just not functional, complex, specific information. The order of grains of sand on a beach is information completely explicable by natural processes, except when it is in the shape of a sea turtle or spells out the phrase “Mark loves Betty”. Then the only possible explanations are an electrochemical kludge shaped by the blunt hammer of natural evolution, or an actual, intelligent, conscious mind.

  11. 11

    Hello uoflcard,

    May I make a suggestion? The number of grains of sand on the beach does not exist until it is first percieved and brought into existence. Until that point, the sand on the beach is just the sand on the beach.

    Information is the product of perception, it must be abstracted from reality in order to exist.

  12. 12

    Casting aside the principle of cause and effect, it is now perfectly acceptable to invoke “nothing” as the cause for the origin of the universe, the unguided spontaneous self-assembly of a cell, and the unguided
    spontaneous self-assembly of multicellular organisms (common descent):

    “The universe is flat. It has zero total energy and it could have begun from nothing …
    If you have nothing in quantum mechanics, you’ll always get something. It’s that simple.”

    Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, “A Universe From Nothing”, October 21, 2009, Atheist Alliance International event. (Selected quote begins 40:33 into video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....AD452EDB98

    “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”

    Professor Stephen Hawking, ”Stephen Hawking says universe not created by God”, September 2, 2010, The Guardian Online. http://www.guardian.co.uk/scie.....ng-creator

    “We proposed that the genetic material could drive the growth of cells just by virtue of being there.”
    Jack W. Szostak, “Battle of the Bubbles May Have Sparked Evolution”, September 03, 2004, Howard Hughes Medical Institute: Research News. http://www.hhmi.org/news/szostak4.html

    “Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good,
    I am better off than he is; for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows.”
    - Socrates

  13. uoflcard,

    When I state Information, I am specifically referring to the type of functional information that is only known to come from a mind and am not referring to the broad definition of Shannon information which can take practically anything to mean information:

    The Evolution-Lobby’s Useless Definition of Biological Information – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: By wrongly implying that Shannon information is the only “sense used by information theorists,” the NCSE avoids answering more difficult questions like how the information in biological systems becomes functional, or in its own words, “useful.”,,,Since biology is based upon functional information, Darwin-skeptics are interested in the far more important question of, Does neo-Darwinism explain how new functional biological information arises?
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....ss_de.html

    Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information – Abel, Trevors
    Excerpt: Shannon information theory measures the relative degrees of RSC and OSC. Shannon information theory cannot measure FSC. FSC is invariably associated with all forms of complex biofunction, including biochemical pathways, cycles, positive and negative feedback regulation, and homeostatic metabolism. The algorithmic programming of FSC, not merely its aperiodicity, accounts for biological organization. No empirical evidence exists of either RSC of OSC ever having produced a single instance of sophisticated biological organization. Organization invariably manifests FSC rather than successive random events (RSC) or low-informational self-ordering phenomena (OSC).
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....MC1208958/

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    Can We Falsify Any Of The Following Null Hypothesis (For Information Generation)
    1) Mathematical Logic
    2) Algorithmic Optimization
    3) Cybernetic Programming
    4) Computational Halting
    5) Integrated Circuits
    6) Organization (e.g. homeostatic optimization far from equilibrium)
    7) Material Symbol Systems (e.g. genetics)
    8) Any Goal Oriented bona fide system
    9) Language
    10) Formal function of any kind
    11) Utilitarian work
    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag

    As I am fairly weak in this area for making myself clear as to exactly what type of information I specifically mean, I am looking forward to reading Dr. Johnson’s new book on the subject so that I may be able to better defend myself in this area and to hopefully apply the proper definitions I learn of information in the cell to parallels of information in the universe at large so as to bring clarity to this important area of consideration:

    Programming of Life
    http://scienceintegrity.net/ProgrammingofLife.aspx

    I highly recommend this book.” David L. Abel, Director, The Gene Emergence Project, Department of ProtoBioCybernetics and ProtoBioSemiotics, The Origin of Life Science Foundation, Inc.

  14. uoflcard,

    I do have one more piece of evidence that is very suggestive to the fact that the infinite Mind of God was the ’cause’ of this universe:

    According to esteemed British mathematical physicist Roger Penrose (1931-present), the odds of one particular individual constant, the ‘original phase-space volume’ of the universe, required such precision that the “Creator’s aim must have been to an accuracy of 1 part in 10^10^123”. This number is gargantuan. If this number were written out in its entirety, 1 with 10^123 zeros to the right, it could not be written on a piece of paper the size of the entire visible universe, even if a number were written down on each sub-atomic particle in the entire universe, since the universe only has 10^80 sub-atomic particles in it.

    Roger Penrose discusses initial entropy of the universe. – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhGdVMBk6Zo

    The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them? Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).”
    http://www.pul.it/irafs/CD%20I.....enrose.pdf

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

    This 1 in 10^10^123 number, for the time-asymmetry of the initial state of the ‘ordered entropy’ for the universe, also lends strong support for ‘highly specified infinite information’ creating the universe since;

    “Gain in entropy always means loss of information, and nothing more.”
    Gilbert Newton Lewis

    ———

    further note:

    “The Big Bang represents an immensely powerful, yet carefully planned and controlled release of matter, energy, space and time. All this is accomplished within the strict confines of very carefully fine-tuned physical constants and laws. The power and care this explosion reveals exceeds human mental capacity by multiple orders of magnitude.”
    Prof. Henry F. Schaefer

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

  15. 15

    Nice post Whois…

  16. Upright writes, “May I make a suggestion? The number of grains of sand on the beach does not exist until it is first percieved and brought into existence. Until that point, the sand on the beach is just the sand on the beach. ”

    Are you serious? And since no one can perceive all the grains of sand on the beach, does that mean the number of grains of sand doesn’t exist? Does that mean the center of the earth doesn’t exist because no one can perceive.

    I doubt any reasonable philosophy holds this view,

  17. Remember that what Hawking is saying contradicts what Stephen Meyer says in Signature In The Cell. Meyer explicitly states that there is NO explanation for the origin of life which can reduce the emergence of the original informational code down to purely natural laws and perhaps random changes. This also brings up another objection to what Hawking is proposing- which is “if you can say that the origin of the universe and all that is in it can be explained by appealing to laws which have the power to bring forth order than how do you explain the origin of random or seemingly random events? It strikes me that if something is random than at some level it goes against natural laws of order- and that perhaps those random events are not random but the result of a deeper intelligent causation.

    As Godel showed logically we shall never have an explanation of the universe which is totally complete. However as ID postulates you are not limited to appealing to only laws themselves to explain order- as order to ID is best understood as a manifestation of mind and intelligence- which includes both the allowance of random variables- in the same way that a designed game of black jack uses chance- as well as virtually predictable events ie laws- and most importantly totally improbable planned events as well- like those needed to explain the emergence of the super complex specified code of DNA.

    If you cannot reduce the origin of DNA to chance and law then you certainly cannot reduce the origin of the universe to only laws themselves. And once again even if you choose to believe everything is reducible to eternal self emerging laws- you STILL have no empirical or testable example of a law arising by itself ex nihilo and being able to produce functional specified complexity. We DO however know of many examples of where laws come into being via INTELLIGENT AGENTS.

    The crux is in the primal cause, and in all known examples laws come from legislators – not the other way around.

  18. Aleta,

    I think this quote from the Gordon article is exactly what the Dr. ordered to counter your metaphysical point of view:

    GORDON: Hawking irrational arguments
    “This transcendent reality cannot merely be a Platonic realm of mathematical descriptions, for such things are causally inert abstract entities that do not affect the material world. Neither is it the case that “nothing” is unstable, as Mr. Hawking and others maintain. Absolute nothing cannot have mathematical relationships predicated on it, not even quantum gravitational ones. Rather, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them. This is what “breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe.” Anything else invokes random miracles as an explanatory principle and spells the end of scientific rationality.”
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

  19. ba, doesn’t seem that your post was in response to what I said to Upright Biped at all. Do you think the number of grains of sands on the beach exists even if there has never been anyone around to perceive them, or not?

  20. Aleta, UB is quite big enough to take care of himself on this matter,, As for myself, since this post is about final and formal causes, I was specifically addressing your stated position for causal metaphysics in quoting the Gordon article, at least as I have gathhered your metaphysical position to be. Since I agree with Dr. Gordon’s, well elucidated, quote 100% and since it directly contradicts your position, I felt you might want to either admit your error of logic in the matter or, more likely, maybe offer up some meaningless rationalizations so as to at least justify your incoherent position to yourself.

  21. I see. I’ll buy that. I’ll respond tonight.

    However, it is hard to want to discuss something with someone who writes, “I felt you might want to either admit your error of logic in the matter or, more likely, maybe offer up some meaningless rationalizations so as to at least justify your incoherent position to yourself.” I think you could stand to have some manners – it makes discussion much more civil.

  22. 22

    Aleta,

    The grains of sand exist themselves, but the number that decribes how many grains of sand there are, however, does not exist.

    That piece of information would have to be perceived (in some fashion) before it could exist.

    If you suggest otherwise, then please tell me where it exist?

  23. Aleta,

    The day I see a atheist be fair with the evidence, perhaps then my years of dealing with the violent abuse of logic from them will heal a bit, and afford me the luxury to have more refined ‘manners’ so as to not be so jaded as to your position, or any other atheists (strong agnostics) position. Until then I am rather fond of stating the truth of the matter rather bluntly. I’m sorry if you mistake my bluntness with rudeness but I prefer clarity of point over flowery language when dealing with egregious errors of logic.

  24. Hmmm. And since there is no way to perceive, much less count, the number of grains, what are we to say? That we don’t know the number, or that there is no number? I’m sure almost everyone would say the former.

    The number of grains exists whether we count them or not. The word or symbol for that number doesn’t exist until we employ it. The difference is between the reality and our ability to symbolize it.

  25. 25

    Aleta,

    In Claude Shannon’s famous paper of Information Theory, he sets out what the definition of “meaningful information” is (meaningful, as in the number of grains of sand on a beach).
    He says “Frequently the messages have meaning; that is they refer to or are correlated according to some system with certain physical or conceptual entities.”

    That correlation is what must exist before the information regarding the number of grains of sand on a beach can exist.

    That correlation cannot exist without perception bringing it into existence.

  26. Yes, I can see that “information” about the number of grains depends on a symbol system and upon there being someone to perceive: information is about something that we have about the world. The world itself does not have information: the world just is. All information is about how we perceive the world: if there were no sentient beings, the color red would be a meaningless concept, but the wave lengths of light would still exist.

    So if that’s what you mean, fine, but it doesn’t seem like a very useful point. It would really slow things down to preface everything we say with the disclaimer that what we say is based on the world as perceived by human beings.

  27. 27

    #24

    “The number of grains exists whether we count them or not.”

    The grains of sand exist whether we count them or not, but not the number.

    If you feel otherwise, then again, where does that number exist?

  28. 28

    Aleta #26

    “So if that’s what you mean, fine, but it doesn’t seem like a very useful point. It would really slow things down to preface everything we say with the disclaimer that what we say is based on the world as perceived by human beings.”

    The correlation through perception is what must exist for the production of information. Humans have nothing to do with it. In other words, the point is not about humanity, but about the nature of information (which existed long before mankind ever walked on this planet).

  29. 29

    BA and Aleta,

    I apologize for interruping your conversation.

  30. Aleta,

    I don’t think the grains of sand exist unless someone knows it.

    I’ll take a leaf from BA’s book: Matthew 10:30 –”But the very hairs of your head are numbered.”
    Can something exist without an observer?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....dy_problem

  31. Collin,

    Can something exist without an observer?

    Will a cat or a monkey do as an observer, or must it be mankind?

  32. I did not “mistake [your] bluntness with rudeness” – I can recognize rudeness when I see it.

  33. Frost122585,

    It strikes me that if something is random than at some level it goes against natural laws of order- and that perhaps those random events are not random but the result of a deeper intelligent causation.

    Care to relate that to car accidents?

  34. Hi upright – no need to apologize – threads often have multiple sub-threads.

    Anyway, you write, “The correlation through perception is what must exist for the production of information. Humans have nothing to do with it. In other words, the point is not about humanity, but about the nature of information (which existed long before mankind ever walked on this planet).[/quote]

    I am confused: if information depends upon perception, but existed long before mankind, then who or what was doing the perceiving that produced the correlation that is necessary for information?

  35. Collin,

    Matthew 10:30 –
    ”But the very hairs of your head are numbered.”

    appropriate!

    also fine tuning of mass density equals 1 in 10^60 = approx. 1 grain of sand!

    MercyMe Beautiful
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hth7GzAoXos

    caption of song: You were made in His likeness. He looks down on you with love. You are treasured. You are sacred. You are His. You’re beautiful!

  36. Aleta:

    I apologize for sub-threading :)

    You say:

    I am confused: if information depends upon perception, but existed long before mankind, then who or what was doing the perceiving that produced the correlation that is necessary for information?

    Why not God’s consciousness?

    The belief that humans are the only conscious intelligent agents in reality is a belief, but not a universal one. I would say that most people have believed for centuries, and probably still believe, differently. It’s a rather fundamental choice in our worldview, and I hope that, whatever modern priests of scientism may say, it remains open.

  37. About randomness:

    I would say that there are two different kinds of randomness.

    The randomness we directly experience (that of a flipping coin or similar systems) is in no way a “violation” of necessity, but just an output which cannot be described realistically in terms of necessity because too many variable are implied. I don’t think anybody really believes that such randomness violates any order: indeed, the simple fact that these rendom events anyway obey to mathemathical laws of probability could be a strong argument in favour of a mathematically ordered reality.

    The second kind of radnomness is that imlied in quantum mechanics, the essentail randomness which gets measured results from the values of the wave function through a probabilistic law. In this case, the probabilistic interpretation seems to be integral part of reality, and has nothing to do with hidden variables (at least according to most interpretations).

    But QM interpretation is really an open problem.

    What is really a “violation” of what we observe in unguided events is complex pseudorandomness with a meaning or function. That is the certain mark of design.

  38. 38

    Hello again Aleta,

    Thanks for the question. If there s any confusion perhaps I can help clarify it with a couple of very simple observations. I may very well be the only one here that views this as I do, but I will answer as best I can.

    You say “I am confused: if information depends upon perception, but existed long before mankind, then who or what was doing the perceiving that produced the correlation that is necessary for information?”

    I am a human, so I have to answer that question through the eyes of a human being. Yet although I am a human being, I am able to recognize some patterns of reality that must exist outside of me being a human being. For instance, if I perceive something (a dog walking across the yard) that does not mean that I then have a dog in my head, walking across a yard in my head. Even though we may not know how the system actually works, it seems to me logically obvious that I have some neural representation correlated to what I saw. This suggests to me that perception must require some system of symbolic chemical representation in order to create the correlation that defines what information is (a dog just walked across my yard).

    If that is the case for me as a human, then I am bound by the same logic that it is the case for other living things as well. If an antelope perceives a wolf passing in the valley below, I must assume the antelope doesn’t then have a wolf in its head either. Despite the various theories or controversies there may be regarding the extent to which other life forms process the information gained through sensory perception, it seems rather obvious that the same general pattern of perception (followed by symbolic representation) must exist in some form throughout the living kingdom.

    So to answer your question, I would say that the life forms that had the capacity to sense and perceive their surroundings were producing information prior to the onset of mankind. They were producing symbolic representations correlated to their environment, and those correlations were providing them information. If there was no life, there would be no information. Inanimate matter cannot perceive itself.

    The real question for me is this: How did information come to be recorded into matter, causing life?

  39. 39

    May I also say, I have a great repsect for many of the regs here, GP, StephB, BA, Null, VJ, CY and many others.

    I would Appreciate any feedback.

  40. Good post, Upright. I agree that information involves representations of reality, and that even animals can have information even though they don’t have verbal or written symbol systems.

    And to gpuccio – yes, I assumed that for a theist the perception of God would make information something that always existed: the number of grains of sand exists because God perceives, and knows, this number even though we can’t. Not being a theist, I don’t find this very useful: I prefer Upright’s discussion of information as a representation of some kind in a living thing as a response to perception.

  41. UB, all will say is what I can verify with certainty. Photons are known to travel as uncollapsed waves in the universe. As well I can say this with certainty, Photons will universally collapse to each unique point of observation in the universe giving a ‘unique point of centrality’ in the universe for each unique point of observation in the universe.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-365083

    note:

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.

  42. 42

    BA,

    I enjoy reading your perspective, and admire the resource you provide to this forum.

    I will read your attached link.

  43. 43

    Aleta,

    I am not so sure you (as an atheist) would appreciate the conclusions that naturally flow from the perspective I gave above. :)

  44. Ba, you quote Gordon as writing the following. Since Gordon is not here to discuss this, I will redirect my response to you.

    Gordon writes, “This transcendent reality cannot merely be a Platonic realm of mathematical descriptions, for such things are causally inert abstract entities that do not affect the material world.”

    How in the world (which is an appropriate phrase, because where else can we find our knowledge) does he know this? It may very well be that transcendental reality is a Platonic realm of mathematical and logical realities that in fact are causally active, and can impress themselves upon a material reality. We really can’t know, and to state categorically that transcendental reality can or cannot be such and such is to merely elevate our own worldview to the status of a universal truth.

    Gordon writes, “Neither is it the case that “nothing” is unstable, as Mr. Hawking and others maintain. Absolute nothing cannot have mathematical relationships predicated on it, not even quantum gravitational ones.”

    We really don’t know where “nothing” really exists, or can exist, although there may be aspects of transcendental reality that appears as nothing to the material universe but are in fact something in the transcendental realm itself.

    The broader, and recurring issue here, is that we can’t take our logical, abstract categories and expect them to completely apply to all aspects of a world which, even in the part that we can experience, has proven to be beyond our imagination. To many people throughout history, the deepest explanations of the universe are mystical ones which embrace fundamental paradoxes.

    For instance, as I and others here at times have explained, one such view is the Taoist notion of an unknowable and undifferentiated Oneness – the Tao, through which and out of which the two complementary forces of yin and yang – the passive and the active, bring the known universe into existence. Is the Tao nothing or something? This is an unanswerable, and in fact meaningless question: the Tao comes before somethingness and nothingness.

    I know, ba, that you dismiss this kind of talk, but it, and the extended philosphy which accompanies it, does just as good of a job of explaining things as a theisic explanation. And, in my opinion, it is more realistic in terms of us recognizing the limits of our own own ability to know.

    Gordon then writes, “Rather, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them. This is what “breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe.” Anything else invokes random miracles as an explanatory principle and spells the end of scientific rationality.”

    No, scientific rationality does not rest on any particular metaphysic: irrespective of why we think the universe is as it is, or why we think we are as we are, we can do science by accepting the world as we find. Believing that some being necessarily brought the universe into existence is not a prerequisite for scientific rationality – a fact amply demonstrated by the cross-cultural consensus that is built by the world-wide scientific community.

  45. Hi upright – I’m sure it’s OK that we agree on some things and not on others – the things you wrote seemed reasonable irrespective of where stands on the existence of God, even though you might go on to make theistic connections, as gpuccio did.

  46. Aleta, this time instead listing the overwhelming evidence supporting the Theistic position for Almighty God both creating and sustaining this universe, this time I just want to impress upon you that though God is evidently, and clearly, far more powerful than we can imagine, yet He has humbled Himself from His awesome power in order to have a personal relationship with us, and deals with us much more intamately, at this present time, through His grace He has wrought through Christ. The relationship, yes the eternal personal relationship, that God humbly offers to us through Christ is truly a gift greater than we can anything we can possibly imagine right now, but this priceless gift of a eternal loving relationship with Almighty God will do you no good unless you accept this priceless gift.

    Shoot Aleta I can tell you with 100% certainty that the priceless gift is real from little personal miracles I’ve seen in my life, but alas you cannot attain that certainty I have unless you open you heart and give Him a chance in your life,,, Something about ‘Seek and you shall find’, or maybe more like, ‘I stand at the door and knock’.

    Aleta, Here is one story of one ‘little miracle’ that I’ve seen,

    Strange But True
    https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AYmaSrBPNEmGZGM4ejY3d3pfNTNocmRjZGtkdg&hl=en

    ———

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

  47. Cabal @33,

    What I was trying to say was that the random variable is one which goes against laws- and a law like view of creation.

    In the case of a car crash it is the sign of a “malfunction” in the “intended” design plan. If all things were acting based on some predictable laws, then the car crash would seemingly be in violation of those laws IF it was truly random. You see a law is by its very nature not random- what is what a law is- something that is predictable. Anything beyond that is some form of quantum ratio probability reasoning- which will NOT result in complete predictability – and hence it cannot claim the domain of a primal explanation of causality and creation.

    However I think that if one take the ID perspective we can fit the car crash within a design framework and pretty easily see what forces were at work.

  48. Proselytizing and witnessing doesn’t really advance the discussion, ba. I don’t believe in God, even of the generic eternal being variety, and I certainly don’t believe in a divine Jesus on whom my salvation depends, and especially in respect to the latter, neither do billions of religious people all over the world.

    The absolute certainty that you continually display flows from your faith, but for those who don’t believe that certainty does not pertain. Other people have other beliefs, and you ought to at least try to understand, and live with, those other beliefs just as you would have others understand and live with yours. That doesn’t mean that either of us needs to believe what the other does, or should try to convert the other, but it does mean that no one – this is my opinion, should think that they have the one true religion, and everyone else is wrong.

  49. Aleta my certainty comes from my rigorous investigation of these matters, not from my ‘blind’ faith.

  50. I didn’t use the word “blind”, ba. I think we all have knowledge, experiences, intuitions, feelings, etc. which help support those things we take on faith. But it is important to know what is taken on faith and what is more empirically supported.

    And it is an open question as to whether your investigation has been rigorous or not, and to what extent it has been truly an investigation rather than a search for things that support your faith.

    Two things to consider:

    1) I, and many other people, feel like we too have rigorously investigated metaphysical and spiritual matters, and have come to different conclusions than you.

    2) If the evidence was really overwhelming for the “theistic position for Almighty God both creating and sustaining this universe,” there wouldn’t be so many people that don’t accept that position. If lots of people see flaws in the position, and more appealing alternatives, then there must be something about it that is not overwhelming.

  51. UB, Aleta:

    UB, I appreciate your #38, which is very interesting. I would say that I agree with you, with the only further concept that IMO all life, consciousness and information is possible because a universal life, consciousness and oinformatioon exists, and that is God’s.

    To Aleta I would say that I agree with her about the absolute right of each individual to cherish his own worldview. I have often argued that I respect all sincere worldviews. That’s not only a statement of “good feelings”. The reason why I respect other’s worldviews is that I really believe that the only way anyone can pursue truth is to build his own sincere map of the world, and to test it in his own personal life. That’s the only way to truth. And, as for me truth and God are not different, that’s IMO also the only way to God.

    So, Aleta, I was offering here my suggestion of God as fundamental perceiver not as a religious belief, which you are absolutely free noit to share, but as a possible cognitive model in our discussion, which I hope you can at least take into consideration.

    UB’s model is extremely interesting, but again it does not explain how consciousness, perception and information could arise “spontaneously” in a truly non conscious reality, where perception and information never existed and, IMHO, never would come into existence.

    Unless you really believe in the bizarre myth of “emergent properties”…

  52. Aleta:

    Just a thought. Your concept of the Tao has many of the characteristics of my concept of a transcendent God. You say:

    For instance, as I and others here at times have explained, one such view is the Taoist notion of an unknowable and undifferentiated Oneness – the Tao, through which and out of which the two complementary forces of yin and yang – the passive and the active, bring the known universe into existence. Is the Tao nothing or something? This is an unanswerable, and in fact meaningless question: the Tao comes before somethingness and nothingness.

    You are in fact describing the Tao as the origin of reality, its “creator”. And even if you say that “Is the Tao nothing or something” is an unanswerable question, I would argue that such a statement could be considered correct even for a transcendent God: in the sense that it is a well known concept in many religious traditions that we must not really “speak” of the transcendent Absolute, because no human category really applies to It. Even existence is after all a human category. So, while it is correct, and often useful, for us humans to wonder if God exists, in the ultimate sense I would agree that he is real “before somethingness and nothingness” came into existence from Him.

    So, I would consider your position (and the taoistic position in general, with all its variants) as a form of theism.

    I understand that there may be many substantial differences if we extend the concept of the existence of an Eternal, Transcendent Principle to Its possible manifestation in reality.

    But again I would encourage you to consider, as a possible subject of discussion, the following: if everything thaty exists, including consciousness, perception and intelligence, came from such an Eternal, Transcendent Principle, and even accepting that, in Its fully transcendent form, that Principle cannot be appropriately described by any limited human category, don’t you think that in some way, in the process through which everything that exists comes into existence, that original Principle must in some way have generated what we humanly call consciousness, intelligence and information, and partaken of those things?

    Because, even if we believe in an absolute origin which is transcendent (be it the Tao or God), and I would say that you do have defined the Tao as a transcendent origin with your own words, we still have to “explain” in some way the definite immanent principles which we do observe in reality: of which consciousness, intelligence and information are certainly a fundamental example.

  53. Aleta:

    From Tao Te King (Chapter 21):

    “The grandest forms of active force
    From Tao come, their only source.
    Who can of Tao the nature tell?
    Our sight it flies, our touch as well.
    Eluding sight, eluding touch,
    The forms of things all in it crouch;
    Eluding touch, eluding sight,
    There are their semblances, all right.
    Profound it is, dark and obscure;
    Things’ essences all there endure.
    Those essences the truth enfold
    Of what, when seen, shall then be told.
    Now it is so; ’twas so of old.
    Its name–what passes not away;
    So, in their beautiful array,
    Things form and never know decay.

    How know I that it is so with all the beauties of existing things? By this (nature of the Tao). “

  54. Aleta, though I hate the ‘consensus card’ that you have played here:.

    ’1) I, and many other people, feel like we too have rigorously investigated metaphysical and spiritual matters, and have come to different conclusions than you.’

    “2) If the evidence was really overwhelming for the “theistic position for Almighty God both creating and sustaining this universe,” there wouldn’t be so many people that don’t accept that position. If lots of people see flaws in the position, and more appealing alternatives, then there must be something about it that is not overwhelming.”

    since you played it, I will also play a ‘consensus card’:

    (CNSNews.com) May 06, 2010 – Just two weeks after a federal judge in Madison, Wis., ruled that the annual National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, 92 percent of Americans told the USA Today/Gallup poll that they believe in God and only 5 percent said they oppose the National Day of Prayer.
    http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/65396

    Thus using your very rules of reason that truth is decided by finding a consensus of those who agree with us (or at least finding a consensus that disagrees with your point of view) then since a majority of adults who have investigated these matters believe in God and agree with my conclusion, then therefore you ought to believe in God! :) ,,, But why do I feel that consensus will not matter this time for you?

  55. Aleta, even if we expand to the entire world, ‘The consensus’ believes in God:

    World Population Percentages by Religious Group
    religious 86%, non-religious and anti-religious 14%.

    Religious Groups
    monotheists 54%, reincarnationists 20%, ethno religions 10%

    Monotheists
    Christians 33%, Muslims 21%

    Reincarnationists
    Hindu 13%, Buddhist 6%

    Ethno Religions Chinese 6.3%, tribal 4%

    Non-religious groups
    Non-religious and agnostic 11.9%, anti-religious and atheist 2.3%
    http://richleebruce.com/mystat.html

  56. Are there any ID-ists who believe that the designer was not God? I mean that they have a positive belief that it was not God, not that it “might” not be God, but that it was probably aliens or angels or something?

  57. Collin @ 56:

    Good question. I am very interested in the answer. Are there any ID supporters here who have a genuine and serious belief that the designer is something other than God?

  58. I’ll go out on a limb and declare myself the official “angels did it” faction.

  59. Don’t they work for God? – Dembski once called them “surrogate intelligences.” Do they have free will, or are they just vehicles for God’s will. And if so, why does God need them?

  60. Well, sorry if this is way off topic. But clearly angels have free will if Lucifer was an angel and he rebelled against God.

    I think that the case for angels is good. God often delegates His work to man, why not the Creation to angels?

  61. Angels would explain common descent. While God knows all, angels would learn over time to improve and expand their designs. They are brilliant, but might make an imperfect or limited design sometimes.

  62. Why would angels necessarily explain common descent? Can they not create ex nihilo? Or can they only fiddle around with genes?

  63. Aleta:

    the above discussion reminds me how beautiful it is that ID reamins empirical. I will go on speaking of designer or designers, and trying to derive any information on the designer from empirical data, instead of just embarking in purely speculative hypotheses, whatever my religious convictions may be.

  64. Probably just fiddle. Angels would explain common descent like humans explain the evolution of automobiles, their move from pre-auto organisms (wagons) to simple autos (horseless carriages) to winged varieties, sports cars, trucks, each adapting to a different niche in the environment.

  65. gpuccio,

    But can ID determine if it is more likely that there was more than one designer? Walter Remine thinks so. (his conclusion is in the negative).

  66. steveO you ask,

    Flawed?

    Yes, severely,

    when I read that article this morning the first thing I noticed, as I was looking for the empirical evidence of them actually ‘evolving’ greater levels of functional complexity in the laboratory, is that they in fact did not evolve anything in a laboratory but instead,,,

    ‘Using a database of the molecular sequences, functions, and atomic structures of hundreds of modern-day receptor proteins, the researchers reconstructed the biochemical characteristics of the ancestral nuclear receptor, which existed before the last common ancestor of all animals on earth — as much as a billion years ago.’

    Thus the crushing problem, as elucidated by Behe in the Edge of Evolution of the severe limits for Darwinian evolution ,are completely ignored, evolution is taken to be true as a first step with absolutely no evidence from the laboratory that greater levels of functional complexity may be evolved,,, but none-the-less, despite this stunning lack of empirical support, they get their computers out and prove it all true for the audience,,, Yes folks,, I can hear them saying,,, ‘nothing up my sleeves’.

  67. Steve O, I just loaded a video, with references in the description, in which Michael Behe talks of the sheer poverty for experimental evidence for evolution in the scientific literature:

    Michael Behe – No Scientific Literature For Evolution of Molecular Machines
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5302950

  68. Back in 2002, over at the Discussion forum at Dembski’s ISCID site, Richard Hoppe wrote a lengthy and substantial essay on Multiple Designers Theory, and I, writing under a different name, contributed some additional comments.

    See http://www.iscid.org/ubb/ultim.....172#000000 for the whole thing.

    Here are a few excerpts.

    From Richard’s post:

    The observation that stimulated my thinking on this topic was of a humble grammatical phenomenon. In reading an array of ID works over the last several months, I realized that virtually without exception, the hypothesized entity responsible for the designs is referred to in the singular. Whether called an “intelligent designer,” an “intelligent agent,” or an “intelligent agency,” it is always in the singular. …

    The central message of Multiple Designers Theory is that the unwarranted assumption of a single designer is not only unnecessary, it is an unjustifiable constraint that puts artificial and arbitrary limits on theory and research in ID. Therefore, with the help of a few colleagues I have prepared an introductory outline of Multiple Designers Theory, MDT, to stimulate thinking and discussion. …

    As its name implies, the central tenet of Multiple Designers Theory is that if intelligent design is implicated in the properties and structure of life of on earth, then multiple designers are implicated, not merely a single designer. As I will sketch below, the evidence that is interpreted to be supportive of the design hypothesis almost universally implicates multiple designers rather than just one designer. …

    C. The multiple designers are not perfect designers. That follows from the fact that they are different from one another. Perfect designers would by definition be identical to one another, and their designs would be indistinguishable. Therefore MDT posits that the multiple designers are imperfect in the sense that they do not produce the ideally optimized design, the highest peak on the ‘goodness of design’ landscape. Moreover, they differ from one another in their very imperfections, and those differences provide cracks into which one can drive MDT research wedges. …

    III. Some Evidence Consistent with Multiple Designers Theory …

    A. Design-versus-design: The design-vs.-design pattern is a ubiquitous phenomenon in biology. In fact, it is fair to say that some of the most impressive designs in biology appear to have as their primary purpose the defeat or subversion of other designs. Designs engage in various kinds of arms races with one another. Some examples are:

    1. Predator/prey arms races.
    2. Parasite/host arms races.
    3. Male/female arms races.
    4. Disease-causing bacteria/drug companies arms races.

    Each of these is an example of design pitted against design, directly implicating multiple designers. … [And so on - there is much more]

  69. And now from my comments immediately following Richard’s post:

    I [have] pointed out that one of the things it seemed the ID movement lacked was active attempts to offer hypotheses about the details of ID: when did it happen, and particularly how did it happen. The emphasis has been on the theory of design detection as opposed to a more full-fledged attempt to describe the details of ID.

    One argument has been that this is the proper order of things, for until we can determine if in fact design has happened, hypothesizing about further details is a moot point. Obviously, ID critics who believe that arguments for the detection of design are invalid might not believe that further discussion is relevant.

    Others have argued that while a design inference is scientifically valid, further inferences about the designer are invalid.

    I believe that both of these arguments are wrong. I definitely believe that if we accept inferences about the existence of design, we can equally accept inferences about the nature of the designer. This is standard science – we offer hypotheses about the nature of an entity (think quarks, or black holes) based on the consequences that we observe. We work backwards from observed consequences to testable hypothesis about the nature of the source of the phenomena which produces the consequences. If design is detectable, then inferences about the nature of the designer are valid.

    2) Secondly, I think the imperfections we see in design are because the designers are in fact limited in the way they interact with the world. RBH mentions Dembski’s idea that design information might enter the world through an undetectable “infinite-wavelength zero-energy signal.” I believe the mechanism I described in my thread on evolution and design is more likely: the designers manipulate quantum probabilities at the molecular level in genetic events. These manipulations have a limited ability to affect the world – once a design event is attempted, the designer has little impact on how the design plays out. Part of the reason for this is that for macro-phenomena the statistical effects of large numbers of events overwhelm the effect of any small number of discrete quantum interventions.

    My second point is that I hypothesize that the designers only interface with the world at the level of genetic molecular activity. For the most part the world (all of physics and chemistry, natural selection, comets hitting earth, etc.) are fully explainable by naturalistic causes and are not subject to design. However, the universe, according to design theory in general, does require, and shows evidence for, intervention at the level of genetic change. Therefore it is reasonable to hypothesize that it is precisely at molecular genetic change, and nowhere else, where intelligence intervenes.

    Third point on this topic of imperfection: The evidence clearly shows that the progression of changes in life forms on earth the past 3 billion years or so has been sequential and slow – we see an orderly development as opposed to extremely abrupt new creations. There are no creatures of mammalian complexity in the Cambrian, dinosaurs aren’t recreated suddenly after the great extinction 65 millions years ago, and so on. I think this evidence shows that the designers are fairly limited in their powers. They cannot create whole genomes independently, but can only make small adjustments to existing genomes, and once they introduce a change, the rest of that organism’s life plays out according to naturalistic forces….

    3) RBH points out that to some extent our grammar causes a unconscious bias towards the singular (much as it causes a bias towards the masculine when we use “he” to refer to people in general.) I think there are cultural reasons why this is so, the most obvious one being the monotheistic tradition in the Western world.

    But I offer as food for thought the idea that the animistic notions of primitive people (who were in much closer experiential contact with living things than we are) are closer to the truth: the world is inhabited by a vast pantheon of life forces, each expressing itself through the interface of it’s particular kind of creature. The wolf, the bear, the eagle, the flower, and so on each have their own “spirit”, so to speak, in an animistic tradition. This seems to be a primitive expression of MDT…. [and more at the same link as above]

  70. One argument has been that this is the proper order of things, for until we can determine if in fact design has happened, hypothesizing about further details is a moot point

    It has always struck me as odd that evolution can be ruled out due to insufficiency of means, but ID is given an automatic pass.

    I would think that before making the assumption that a designing entity has been at work, one should be able to describe the work involved, perhaps giving an example of how one would arrange to have populations adapt to changing environments or to changing competitors or predators.

    We require this of archaeologists who assert that some objects are man made and other objects are natural.

  71. Well Aleta, here are some fairly strong points for inferring the designer of the universe is also the designer of life on earth:

    Evidence for design is displayed on every size scale of the universe that we look at:

    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236

    The earth is apparently designed to support advanced life:

    Privileged Planet Principle – Michael Strauss – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318884?

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

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

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

    The ‘miracle’ of carbon formation in stars supports a singular Creator:

    The delicate balance at which carbon is synthesized in stars is truly a work of art. Fred Hoyle (1915-2001), a famed astrophysicist, is the scientist who established the nucleo-synthesis of heavier elements within stars as mathematically valid in 1946. Soon after Sir Fred discovered the stunning precision with which carbon is synthesized in stars he stated:

    “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

    The ‘miracle’ of sequence of creation of the elements by nucleosynthesis and element balance for life also points to a singular creator:

    Michael Denton – We Are Stardust – Uncanny Balance Of The Elements – Fred Hoyle Atheist to Deist/Theist – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4003877

    Even uranium the last naturally occurring element on the period table of elements is necessary for life. The heat generated by the decay of uranium is necessary to keep a molten core in the earth for an extended period of time, which is necessary for the magnetic field surrounding the earth, which in turn protects organic life from the harmful charged particles of the sun. As well, uranium decay provides the heat for tectonic activity and the turnover of the earth’s crustal rocks, which is necessary to keep a proper mixture of minerals and nutrients available on the surface of the earth, which is necessary for long term life on earth. (Denton; Nature’s Destiny).

    The match of vital life functions to the maximum limits allowable by physics points to a singular Creator:

    Evidence for wavelike energy transfer through quantum coherence in photosynthetic systems. Gregory S. Engel, Nature (12 April 2007)
    Photosynthetic complexes are exquisitely tuned to capture solar light efficiently, and then transmit the excitation energy to reaction centres, where long term energy storage is initiated.,,,, This wavelike characteristic of the energy transfer within the photosynthetic complex can explain its extreme efficiency, in that it allows the complexes to sample vast areas of phase space to find the most efficient path. —- Conclusion? Obviously Photosynthesis is a brilliant piece of design by “Someone” who even knows how quantum mechanics works.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17429397

    Quantum Mechanics at Work in Photosynthesis: Algae Familiar With These Processes for Nearly Two Billion Years – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: “We were astonished to find clear evidence of long-lived quantum mechanical states involved in moving the energy. Our result suggests that the energy of absorbed light resides in two places at once — a quantum superposition state, or coherence — and such a state lies at the heart of quantum mechanical theory.”,,, “It suggests that algae knew about quantum mechanics nearly two billion years before humans,” says Scholes.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....131356.htm

    William Bialek – Professor Of Physics – Princeton University:
    Excerpt: “A central theme in my research is an appreciation for how well things “work” in biological systems. It is, after all, some notion of functional behavior that distinguishes life from inanimate matter, and it is a challenge to quantify this functionality in a language that parallels our characterization of other physical systems. Strikingly, when we do this (and there are not so many cases where it has been done!), the performance of biological systems often approaches some limits set by basic physical principles. While it is popular to view biological mechanisms as an historical record of evolutionary and developmental compromises, these observations on functional performance point toward a very different view of life as having selected a set of near optimal mechanisms for its most crucial tasks.,,,The idea of performance near the physical limits crosses many levels of biological organization, from single molecules to cells to perception and learning in the brain,,,,”
    http://www.princeton.edu/~wbialek/wbialek.html

    DNA Optimized for Photostability
    Excerpt: These nucleobases maximally absorb UV-radiation at the same wavelengths that are most effectively shielded by ozone. Moreover, the chemical structures of the nucleobases of DNA allow the UV-radiation to be efficiently radiated away after it has been absorbed, restricting the opportunity for damage.
    http://www.reasons.org/dna-soaks-suns-rays

  72. Let me add one more note from Hoppe’s post.

    I am known to be an ID critic, and readers may therefore believe that this description of Multiple Designers Theory is presented as a parody of ID. It is not. It is a logical extension of a dominant stream of thought in current ID. MDT takes the ID thesis at face value and explores an obvious question implied by it. That question is completely legitimate and, as I point out, MDT accounts for patterns of evidence that current ID theory cannot comfortably handle, leads to the kind of research program that current ID has been unable or unwilling to provide, and blunts at least one significant criticism of current ID. It is the kind of theoretical structure and research that ID must build if it is to make good on its claims to scientific utility. Rather than a parody, read it as a challenge to IDists to make good on their promises.

    This was eight years ago, and yet is just as true today as it was then.

  73. 74

    Hoppe must have really enjoyed writing that. Rather like a fish that gets to walk around in a dream. The greatest discomfort in science is a materialist having to deal with the information in the genome.

    Thanks for sharing your viewpoint, Aleta

  74. gpuccio,

    he above discussion reminds me how beautiful it is that ID reamins empirical. I will go on speaking of designer or designers, and trying to derive any information on the designer from empirical data, instead of just embarking in purely speculative hypotheses, whatever my religious convictions may be.

    Funny you should say that; critics of ID have regularly been told how inappropriate it is to ask for any information about the designer and his methods. Sort of like “If we infer design it is design, and that’s that.”

    Wishing you good luck with your empirical research and looking forward to some stunning results.

  75. Re. #70,

    Is there anything in the universe or in this world that is not fine-tuned by the designers?

    Just take chemistry, the exquisite design of atoms enabling them to assemble themselves perfectly into the most intricate designs required to make and sustain life. And they are doing it on an everyday basis, year in year out, without fail. Amazing. They even do it without having to be told, they just keep doing it with no apparent outside help.

    Where are the designers today? Dead, or just taking a nap?

  76. Cabal you ask,

    ‘Where are the designers today? Dead, or just taking a nap?’

    God is not a uncaring deistic god. God not only created the universe but God also sustains the universe.

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

    I find this centuries old philosophical argument, for the necessity of a ‘First Mover’ accounting for change occurring at each moment, to be validated by quantum mechanics. This is since the possibility for the universe to be considered a self-sustaining ‘closed loop’ of cause and effect is removed with the refutation of the ‘hidden variable’ argument in entanglement experiments. As well, there also must be a sufficient transcendent cause (God/First Mover) to explain quantum wave collapse for ‘each moment’ of the universe.

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    Max Planck – The Father Of Quantum Mechanics – (Of Note: Max Planck was a devout Christian, which is not surprising when you realize practically every, if not every, founder of each major branch of modern science also ‘just so happened’ to have a deep Christian connection.)

    Cabal, in fact Quantum Mechanics is infamous for bringing indeterminacy back to physics. Thus what will you postulate for the ’cause’ of quantum wave collapse if not for the living God? Will you also choose to believe the absurdity of infinite parallel universes so as to do away with quantum wave collapse ‘problem’?

  77. Cabal this article from a few days ago is relevant:

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: The physical universe is causally incomplete and therefore neither self-originating nor self-sustaining. The world of space, time, matter and energy is dependent on a reality that transcends space, time, matter and energy. This transcendent reality cannot merely be a Platonic realm of mathematical descriptions, for such things are causally inert abstract entities that do not affect the material world. Neither is it the case that “nothing” is unstable, as Mr. Hawking and others maintain. Absolute nothing cannot have mathematical relationships predicated on it, not even quantum gravitational ones. Rather, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

  78. Cabal:

    Thank you for the wishes.

    It’s not so funny that I say that. I have always said that.

    The point is very simple: no information about the designer is necessary to infer design by the ID method. The ID method works exactly to detect design when we have no information about the designer and the design process.

    But that does not mean that we cannot try to infer informations about the designer and the design process from the design, after we have inferred that design is present. That is absolutely appropriate. Obviously, our present knowledge does not probably allow us to solve the fundamental questions (who is the designer(s), what it its nature, how and when was the design implemented, what are the higher level motivations of the design), but hypotheses can certainly be made, at least on some of those points.

    I have discussed some of those hypotheses many times.

  79. Collin:

    I think ID can certainly try to answer the question if the designer is one or many. But we probably need more data for that.

    How can data help? It’s simple. We must analyze the design patterns, try to understand when and how specific designs were implemented, and is possible different levels of purpose in them. Finally, we must try to infer if the data are best explained by a single designer theory or by a many designers theory.

    I suspect that you are in some way concerned by the problem that, if we hypothesize that the only designer is an omnipotent God, then it is difficult to explain many patterns we observe (common descent, gradually evolving design, errors, and so on).

    I understand that aspect, but I don’t think that it necessarily points to multiple and limited designers. An alternative is a single designer acting in a context (possibly initially created by himself), and accepting the “rules” of that context.

    Another possibility is: two designers with different purposes (according to main traditional religious views, that could be one main “good” designer, God, and one relatively subordinate antagonistic designer, an “evil one”).

    I am not sponsoring any of these views. I am only saying that we cannot start from our philosophical or religious ideas. We have to start from facts, and follow them.

    Our philosophical and religious ideas remain supreme for us, and we remain loyal to them. But when we do science, we do science. At the best of our ability. I do believe that the best religious way to do something is to do it well.

    Is it so difficult to accept this simple attitude?

  80. Aleta:

    When I wrote my previous post, I had not yet read your posts about Hoppe. As you can see, my thought are rather in accord with both Hoppe and you.

    I don’t agree that MDT is necessarily the best hypothesis, but I do agree that there are good arguments for it, and I think Hoppe has summarized them well enough.

    To be clear, I definitely disagree with any position (in ID) which starts from an explicit or implicit premise that the designer must be an omnipotent God. That is a valuable hypothesis, but it has to be treated empirically exactly as all other valuable hypotheses. There must be no compromise about that.

  81. Cabal:

    Where are the designers today? Dead, or just taking a nap?

    Who says that design is not going on today? That is certainly one possible and valuable hypothesis.

    As I have already told, we can have no arbitrary assumptions. Only facts will answer our appropriate questions.

  82. OT, ,, It seems that now not only do Darwinists have to deal with (ignore) the 3 to 5 million time frame that the basis of the Cambrian explosion has been narrowed down to, but now they have to deal with (ignore) the the fact that Dinosaurs abruptly appear in the fossil record 1 to 2 million years after the greatest mass extinction on earth:

    Oldest Evidence of Dinosaurs in Footprints: Dinosaur Lineage Emerged Soon After Massive Permian Extinction – October 2010
    Excerpt: The oldest evidence of the dinosaur lineage — fossilized tracks — is described in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Just one or two million years after the massive Permian-Triassic extinction,,,, This fossilized trackway places the very closest relatives of dinosaurs on Earth about 250 million years ago — 5 to 9 million years earlier than previously described fossilized skeletal material has indicated,,, “We see the closest dinosaur cousins immediately after the worst mass extinction,”,,,

  83. Aleta:

    I have read more thoroughly your points at #69. They are very good, and I can say that I agree with most of what you say.

    I would probably have some slightly different points of view on some aspects, but in general I agree. You are really a very good contributor to ID theory.

    Some points I specially liked:

    “If design is detectable, then inferences about the nature of the designer are valid.”

    Absolutely so.

    I think many IDists are forced to wrong statements about that by the equivocal position of many ID critics that “design cannot be detected unless we have information on the nature of the designer”.

    That is simply false. But it is true that, once design is detected, “inferences about the nature of the designer are valid”.

    Some more very good points:

    “Secondly, I think the imperfections we see in design are because the designers are in fact limited in the way they interact with the world. ”

    “the designers manipulate quantum probabilities at the molecular level in genetic events.”

    “Therefore it is reasonable to hypothesize that it is precisely at molecular genetic change, and nowhere else, where intelligence intervenes.”

    I agree on almost all. We have to consider, anyway, that ID critics often consider “imperfections” many things which probably are not imperfections at all. We cannot accept that. It is very difficult to decide, in each specific case, if design is “optimized”.

    I have many reasons to believe that most examples we observe in biology (see proteins, for example) are truly very much optimized. So it is of many engineering solutions in living beings.

    Limits are not the same things of errors. Limits are determined by the context, and by the initial rules. In any context, a designer can obtain optimization according to the existing reality.

    I am not saying that biological design has always to be otpimal, or that it may not contain errors. That is not a requisite for me. I am only saying that much of what we observe is really optimized, given the context.

    And I absolutely agree that the designer(s), in the context, is limited. He cannot do anything. But he can do much, given the necessary time and resources.

    Finally, a comment on that “and nowhere else”. I would leave that open. Biological design is certainly a supreme and powerful expression of design in reality. It is like nothing else we observe in the material universe. But design may have a role, even if different, also elsewhere. First of all there is the problem of initial fine tuning, which brings to the cosmological argument. It is a valid field of speculation. And second, I am not sure that our present understanding of “natural” laws will be able to explain everything, even in the non living world. Let’s wait and see. Dark energy, in these recent years, is a good example of “scientific mystery”. Maybe others are waiting…

    You say, finally:

    “But I offer as food for thought the idea that the animistic notions of primitive people (who were in much closer experiential contact with living things than we are) are closer to the truth: the world is inhabited by a vast pantheon of life forces, each expressing itself through the interface of it’s particular kind of creature. The wolf, the bear, the eagle, the flower, and so on each have their own “spirit”, so to speak, in an animistic tradition. This seems to be a primitive expression of MDT….”

    Why not? As I have already said, I am potentially interested in any convincing form of “neo-vitalism”. Would you like to contribute more on that?

  84. Aleta,

    Thanks for those interesting comments. Thanks, gpuccio, too.

    I would add that limits or errors in design are sometimes explained as degradation from a previous, more optimal design. A hypothesis that I wish I could test is whether or not viruses once had a beneficial role to play in biology. Maybe some viruses still do?

  85. gpuccio, though I haven’t read this whole paper yet, the paper seems to deconstruct many of the 12 alternative models for QM that you alluded to:

    The Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics
    http://www.reasons.org/resourc.....-mechanics

  86. collin,

    somewhere on line, a few years ago I found a published paper suggesting viruses were degraded from full life forms.
    It may still be out there.
    if I find it, I’ll send a link.
    If you see it, please do same.

    The approach was that as each new, “smallest” genome life form was discovered, it was eventually discovered that it had actually degraded from a more complex form discovered later.

    Thanks

  87. es58,

    that’s great. Next time you see me comment on a thread, give me that link if you find it. I think this thread is dying out…

  88. Collin, you were talking about angels the other day. Coincidentally this weeks ‘Prophecy in the News’ program is on the role of angels in human affairs:

    Ordained by Angels
    http://www.prophecyinthenews.c.....v-program/

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