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Metaphysics and ID

I have just been re-reading R. G. Collingwoods “Essay on Metaphysics”, and am now more that ever convinced that Collingwood’s perspective is incredibly important to the ID debate.

Collingwood was a mid-20th Century British Philosopher who was WaynFlete Professor of Metaphysical Sciences at Oxford University, and who worked himself to death. He published many works – all of them in style that is incredibly easy to read, but very challenging to the reader. Unlike many philosophers he was very interested in the natural sciences, and documented the course of Western science in his “Idea of Nature”. Yet, in his last days he warned that natural science, as now conceived in the West, will ultimately destroy Western Civilization. And this would be because of metaphysics.

Now, metaphysics has had a bad two centuries, and in the popular culture it is simply ridiculed. But there is no escape from it. Rather than argue about particular metaphysical ideas, Collingwood introduced the idea of metaphysics being absolute presuppositions. An absolute presupposition is a proposition that cannot be proven or disproven – it can only be accepted or rejected. Absolute propositions are the foundation of all of our thinking. If we even question one of them that we hold, then all our thinking collapses like a house of cards. For instance, the US Declaration of Independence says “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”. This is not anything that can be proven scientifically – you either accept it or reject it. It is an absolute presupposition. Don’t imagine you can prove – or disprove it – scientifically. You cannot – you accept it or reject it and build from there.

Collingwood, having established absolute presuppositions, went on to show how absolute presuppositions have varied with time in Western civilization (meaning there is no such thing as “human nature”), and how they probably vary across cultural lines. From this he referred metaphysics to history and said that the function of metaphysics is to discover the absolute presuppositions at any point in time in every culture. He then went on to say that the set of absolute presuppositions you hold will determine the questions you ask, and that in turn will determine the answers you get. And that, he said, will determine the answers you get from your science.

Collingwood was very big on science being the capacity to formulate questions for which you could get answers. In the Baconian tradition, he saw the scientist acting as the prosecutor would never be allowed to act – torturing Nature to get answers from her. But you will never ask questions that question your absolute presuppositions – the very act of doing so destroys them. Your absolute presuppositions dictate the answers you will get from your science because they constrain the questions you will ask.

From this we can see how evolutionary biology is moribund. You cannot ask why cockroaches have remained unchanged since the Carboniferous, or why dinosaurs have not evolved multiple times, or why men don’t have babies. Just to ask these questions calls into question the absolute presuppositions – the metaphysics – that underlie evolutionary biology. And not asking these questions guarantees the answers that evolutionary biology does give. Therefore, ID should boldly ask precise scientific questions that challenge the established orthodoxy. It is questions, far more than their answers, that matter.

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82 Responses to Metaphysics and ID

  1. OP:

    From this we can see how evolutionary biology is moribund. You cannot ask why cockroaches have remained unchanged since the Carboniferous, or why dinosaurs have not evolved multiple times, or why men don’t have babies. Just to ask these questions calls into question the absolute presuppositions – the metaphysics – that underlie evolutionary biology.

    What absolute, metaphysical presupposition prevents evolutionary biologists from asking why men don’t have babies?

    The question pertains to the origins of sexual reproduction, an area of active investigation within evolutionary biology.

  2. I’ll have to read more Collingwoods, though these same ideas are what motivated Cornelius VanTil in 1929 to argue about presuppositions being essential to science and theology alike. There’s been a long tradition in the seminaries at both Old Princeton (Charles Hodge) and Westminster discussing the need for presuppositions (metaphysics).

  3. No doubt there are times where we’d all like to trust our own thoughts.

    When it comes to metaphysical presuppositions of what isn’t true, one can’t ignore the ultimate assumption of them all.

  4. Collingwood, having established absolute presuppositions, went on to show how absolute presuppositions have varied with time in Western civilization (meaning there is no such thing as “human nature”), …

    The parenthetical does not follow … and is, in fact, a presupposition.

  5. Presuppositions, at least some of them, can be tested indirectly, using the method of “proof by contradiction” or redictio ad absurdum.

    For instance, we can conclude that the presupposition “God is” is sound/true and that the presupposition “God is not” is unsound/false because treating “God is not” as true generates absurdity.

  6. [of course, that's a typo; I meant "reductio ad absurdum"]

  7. Sirs:

    Pardon a few remarks.

    1 –> Metaphysics, definition (and of course philosophical definitions are also philosophical questions . . . ):

    1. (used with a sing. verb) Philosophy The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value. [Am H Dict]

    2 –> In that context, Aristotle’s common-sense based definition in Metaphysics 1011b, that truth “says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not” is profoundly wise and deeply challenging once we move beyond immediate and uncontroversial facts at the level of “who stole the cookie from the cookie jar.”

    3 –> Thus, we see the importance of warranted, credible truths in developing and testing credible worldviews, and the related value of the philosophical method of comparative difficulties on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power, across live option worldviews.

    4 –> In this context, Ilion is right: key foundational worldview claims/commitments are subject to challenge based on reductio ad absurdum. And indeed, that is the fate of the brain in a vat type of proposal linked by F2XL: it entails so wholesale a rejection of our experience of the world that only if we have positive evidence of its truth should we be willing to accept it. (Like,in the Matrix, discovering the apparatus of manipulation; or more profoundly, being released from the physical and mental chains in Plato’s Cave.)

    5 –> In that context, I must note on self evident truth: truths that, on pain of reduction to obvious absurdity, we see as true once we understand what is being claimed in light of our experience of the world we live in. OFr first instance, I usually use a version of Josiah Royce: error exists. (Such truths form a cluster of key facts that test the adequacy of worldviews. For instance if error exists, truth exists as what is there to err about, and knowable truth exists as what is warranted as credibly true. Immediately, no worldviews that depend on presuppositions that deny the objectivity of truth and knowledge are viable.)

    6 –> I also note that science is not at all a matter of proof, at least not in the deductive sense of that term. For, scientific claims on facts and explaining laws or theories are always subject to correction in light of further investigation. Scientific knowledge bases are thus inescapably provisionally warranted, and are subject to future correction.

    7 –> In that context, Lakatos can be adapted to highlight that major research programmes in science comprise a worldview-embedded core, with a belt of auxiliary hypotheses, models and constructs that both tie the core ideas to the world of observables and partially insulate the core from simple empirical falsification. For, since the core ideas are seldom on directly observable things, when a prediction is disconfirmed, it is as a rule much easier tro adjust the belt.

    8 –> So, the path to empirical discredit of major research programmes is indirect and cumulative, via ending up with a degenerative paradigm that is forced to make ever more ad hoc, after the fact adjustments and explanations to fit observations; instead of easily and accurately predicting them on the strength of core postulates. (Thus too, we see the key mark of a progressive paradigm.)

    9 –> Arguably, evolutionary materialism is now increasingly degenerative, and design (though the phoenix has just been reborn) is progressive.

    ______________

    GEM of TKI

  8. KairosFucus:… key foundational worldview claims/commitments are subject to challenge based on reductio ad absurdum. And indeed, that is the fate of the brain in a vat type of proposal linked by F2XL: it entails so wholesale a rejection of our experience of the world that only if we have positive evidence of its truth should we be willing to accept it. …

    Also, the brain-in-a-vat hyper-skeptical hypothesis actually presupposes the very worldview it’s designed to call into question.

  9. What absolute metaphysical presuposition prevents evolutionary biologists from asking why dinosaurs have not evolved multiple times?

    The question pertains to the role of contingent events in the history of life, a central topic and an area of active investigation in evolutionary biology and paleontology.

  10. Mr Russel,

    So Collingwood took what mathematicians had been calling an ‘axiom’ since Euclid, renamed it “absolute presupposition”, and sold it as a new idea to the metaphysics academic community? Remarkable.

    I agree with Ilion, the parenthetical is an example. I think you meant it to be an example, not a conclusion, but your text is unclear.

    I’ll also agree that your presuppositions will guide your questions (though not completely), but the idea that they will also determine the answers is po-mo horse hockey. The Aristotleian who beleives that all things move towards their natural place will get the same value as a modern scientist in an experiment determining the gravitational acceleration of the Earth. If you could find one experiment whose results vary consistently based on the belief system of the scientist running the experiment, you would go a long way towards supporting your position. I don’t know of one.

    I agree with Mr Zolar Czakl that none of your examples is particularly germane. Cockroaches have changed since the Carboniferous, even New York City cockroaches don’t grow that big any more!

    Now the question “How can we reliably detect the intervention of agency into the natural order?” seems to me to rest very much on the presuppositions about agency. Choosing to ask that question about Carboniferous cockroaches vs. asking it about a virus that suddenly apears in Times Square can be driven by presuppositions.

  11. Ilion:

    That is one way to show the absurdity.

    Well, who can but say we are computer programs in a cloud, led to perceive we are brains in vats led to think that we are say girls paddling away in canoes on a lake?

    And so on to infinite regress.

    In short, at some point we have to accept the general credibility of our senses, rationality and conscious awareness; or we end up in an infinite regress absurdity of doubts and disputes with no escape. So, absent good reason to understand that we live in a Plato’s cave world of contrived shadow shows, we accept the testimony of our senses and common sense; while keeping an open mind.

    An infinite regress world is madness, not reason. So, we make the Jamesian choice to will to accept that our senses and common sense reasoning in general speak to us credibly.

    We all must live by faith, and it is best to accept a faith that is not patently absurd by means of plain self-referential incoherence!

    GEM of TKI

  12. semi-off topic:

    This article may be of interest to start a thread on:

    Of microorganisms and man: First large-scale test confirms Darwin’s theory of universal common ancestry
    http://www.physorg.com/news192882557.html

    The author made some very interesting assumptions in his model that caught my eye:

    Theobald’s study rests on several simple assumptions about how the diversity of modern proteins arose. First, he assumed that genetic copies of a protein can be multiplied during reproduction, such as when one parent gives a copy of one of their genes to several of their children. Second, he assumed that a process of replication and mutation over the eons may modify these proteins from their ancestral versions. These two factors, then, should have created the differences in the modern versions of these proteins we see throughout life today. Lastly, he assumed that genetic changes in one species don’t affect mutations in another species—for example, genetic mutations in kangaroos don’t affect those in humans.

    I thought real special of him to assume to be true what needs to be proven to be true.

    National Geographic got on board to:

    All Species Evolved From Single Cell, Study Finds
    http://news.nationalgeographic.....-ancestor/

    It turns out the author is so bold as to actually put a probability on humans being created and not evolving:

    The statistical analysis showed that the independent origin of humans is “an absolutely horrible hypothesis,” Theobald said, adding that the probability that humans were created separately from everything else is 1 in 10 to the 6,000th power.

    This is just so special that a evolutionist would all of the sudden find room for a probability calculation when evolutionists are notorious in their ability to ignore all probabilities that have been put forth.

    Just one example:

    In Barrow and Tippler’s book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, they list ten steps necessary in the course of human evolution, each of which, is so improbable that if left to happen by chance alone, the sun would have ceased to be a main sequence star and would have incinerated the earth. They estimate that the odds of the evolution (by chance) of the human genome is somewhere between 4 to the negative 180th power, to the 110,000th power, and 4 to the negative 360th power, to the 110,000th power. Therefore, if evolution did occur, it literally would have been a miracle and evidence for the existence of God. William Lane Craig

    William Lane Craig – If Human Evolution Did Occur It Was A Miracle – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUxm8dXLRpA

    Along that same line:

    Darwin and the Mathematicians – David Berlinski
    “The formation within geological time of a human body by the laws of physics (or any other laws of similar nature), starting from a random distribution of elementary particles and the field, is as unlikely as the separation by chance of the atmosphere into its components.”
    Kurt Gödel, was a preeminent mathematician who is considered one of the greatest to have ever lived. Of Note: Godel was a Theist!
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....cians.html

    “Darwin’s theory is easily the dumbest idea ever taken seriously by science.”
    Granville Sewell – Professor Of Mathematics – University Of Texas – El Paso

  13. KF,

    For instance if error exists, truth exists as what is there to err about, and knowable truth exists as what is warranted as credibly true.

    That is still working within an axiomatic system, not across all possible axomatic systems. The assertioin that the sum of the angles of a triangle equals 180 degrees is true in one axiomatic system and an error in two other axiomatic systems. You are no closer to establishing the idea of an absolute truth across all possible systems, or above all possible systems.

  14. 14

    OP:

    From this we can see how evolutionary biology is moribund. You cannot ask why cockroaches have remained unchanged since the Carboniferous, or why dinosaurs have not evolved multiple times, or why men don’t have babies. Just to ask these questions calls into question the absolute presuppositions – the metaphysics – that underlie evolutionary biology.

    What absolute metaphysical presuposition prevents evolutionary biologists from investigating cockroach evolution?

    There are thousands of species of cockroach. That diversity indicates that “the cockroach” has not remained unchanged. The evolution of that diverisity is the subject of active research. For example:

    Adaptive radiation within New Zealand endemic species of the cockroach genus Celatoblatta Johns (Blattidae): a response to Plio-Pleistocene mountain building and climate change. Molecular Ecology, Vol. 13, Issue: 6, June 2004. pp. 1507-1518 Chinn, Warren G.; Gemmell, Neil J.

    The evolutionary transition from subsocial to eusocial behaviour in Dictyoptera: Phylogenetic evidence for modification of the “shift-in-dependent-care” hypothesis with a new subsocial cockroach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Vol. 43, Issue: 2, May, 2007. pp. 616-626 Pellens, Roseli; D’Haese, Cyrille A.; Belles, Xavier; Piulachs, Maria-Dolors; Legendre, Frederic; Wheeler, Ward C.; Grandcolas, Philippe

    Evolution of a novel function: nutritive milk in the viviparous cockroach, Diploptera punctata. Evolution and Development, Vol. 6, Issue: 2, March 2004. pp. 67-77 Williford, Anna; Stay, Barbara; Bhattacharya, Debashish

    Wood-feeding cockroaches as models for termite evolution (Insecta: Dictyoptera): Cryptocercus vs. Parasphaeria boleiriana. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Vol. 46, Issue: 3, March, 2008. pp. 809-817 Klass, Klaus-Dieter; Nalepa, Christine; Lo, Nathan

    CONSTRAINTS ON EVOLUTION AND POSTCOPULATORY SEXUAL SELECTION: TRADE-OFFS AMONG EJACULATE CHARACTERISTICS. Evolution, Vol. 58, Issue: 8, August 1, 2004. pp. 1773-1780 Moore, Patricia J.; Edwin Harris, W.; Tamara Montrose, V.; Levin, Daniel; Moore, Allen J.

    Evidence for Cocladogenesis Between Diverse Dictyopteran Lineages and Their Intracellular Endosymbionts. Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vol. 20, Issue: 6, June 2003. pp. 907-913 Lo, Nathan; Bandi, Claudio; Watanabe, Hirofumi; Nalepa, Christine; Beninati, Tiziana

    Evidence from multiple gene sequences indicates that termites evolved from wood-feeding cockroaches. Current Biology, Vol. 10, Issue: 13, June 1, 2000. pp. 801-804 Lo, Nathan; Tokuda, Gaku; Watanabe, Hirofumi; Rose, Harley; Slaytor, Michael; Maekawa, Kiyoto; Bandi, Claudio; Noda, Hiroaki

    Genetic variation and asexual reproduction in the facultatively parthenogenetic cockroach Nauphoeta cinerea: implications for the evolution of sex. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 14, Issue: 1, January 8, 2001. pp. 68-74 Corley, L. S.; Blankenship, J. R.; Moore, A. J.

    Phylogenetic analysis of the endemic New Caledonian cockroach Lauraesilpha. Testing competing hypotheses of diversification. Cladistics, Vol. 24, Issue: 5, October 2008. pp. 802-812 Murienne, J.; Pellens, R.; Budinoff, R. B.; Wheeler, W. C.; Grandcolas, P.

  15. From this we can see how evolutionary biology is moribund. You cannot ask why cockroaches have remained unchanged since the Carboniferous, or why dinosaurs have not evolved multiple times, or why men don’t have babies. Just to ask these questions calls into question the absolute presuppositions – the metaphysics – that underlie evolutionary biology. And not asking these questions guarantees the answers that evolutionary biology does give. Therefore, ID should boldly ask precise scientific questions that challenge the established orthodoxy. It is questions, far more than their answers, that matter.

    I think the examples you give do not support your argument because, in Collingwood’s terms, they are relative not absolute presuppositions. For example, the entry on Collingwood in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes them thus:

    In <i<An Essay on Metaphysics Collingwood sought to show that, contrary to the prevailing neo-empiricism of the new philosophical climate, there are indeed meaningful propositions which are neither empirically verifiable nor merely analytic. To this end he distinguished between relative and absolute presuppositions. Absolute presuppositions are presuppositions which govern a form of enquiry and make it possible in the first place. Relative presuppositions are presuppositions that are internal to a particular form of enquiry. To illustrate: the statement that the cause of malaria is the bite of a mosquito would be a relative presupposition, but the statement that we can prevent or produce certain effects by preventing or producing their causes is an absolute presupposition of medical science. Relative presuppositions are empirically verifiable since they may be found to be either true or false. Absolute presuppositions are not empirically verifiable because they are neither true nor false, yet must necessarily be presupposed in order to engage in a particular form of enquiry. Absolute presuppositions are neither analytically true, nor are they empirically true or false, and yet they are meaningful.

    In any event, even if your interpretation of Collingwood were true, it would make no practical difference. A science could only be described as moribund when it ceases to be fruitful, when it no longer inspires new ideas, no longer stimulates new research, no longer makes new discoveries, no longer generates new papers. Hmmm, now what else would fit that description?

  16. 16
    Sooner Emeritus

    Alfred Russel,

    Would you please compare and contrast the absolute presuppositions of ID and modern evolutionary theory?

    Therefore, ID should boldly ask precise scientific questions that challenge the established orthodoxy. It is questions, far more than their answers, that matter.

    I challenge you to name any leading philosopher of science who agrees with you.

  17. 17

    So I did a google search for the specific phrase “every age gets the science it wants” and I got exactly three hits. How often does that happen? And two of them were posts by me on this blog. I may have the quotation wrong, since if it was correct I would probably be able to find it elsewhere in a google search, but the idea is the same.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ment-58147

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-316146

    These links seem to take you to a point somewhat below my actual comment, so you may have to search the page for the phrase to find it.

    The actual quote is:

    “But probably every age gets, within certain limits, the science it desires.”

    From “Funeral of a Great Myth” in “Christian Reflections” by C.S. Lewis

  18. 18

    Here’s a good theory: If a google search for a quotation only generates three hits and two of them are by yourself, then it’s probably an inexact quotation. The same search with the correct quotation generated 58 hits.

    :D

    Ain’t the internet great?

  19. Nakashima-San:

    If one tries to deny that error exists, one immediately sees that either (a) the claim “error exists” is an error [inadvertently confirming it], or else, (b) one’s denial is itself an error. Thus, we see immediate reductio ad absurdum and (b) is thus true: the denial that error exists is itself an error.

    Denying the parallel lines axiom as Gauss etc found out, creates a consistent field of non_euclidean geometry.

    The two are utterly incomparable.

    GEM of TKI

  20. PS: Perhaps I should explicitly add that while it is possible to set up any number of worldviews and associated first plausibles or presuppositions, when such a view leads one to deny a self evident truth like the undeniably true claim “error exists,” then that is a sign of deep incoherence and factual inadequacy of that view. So, it lacks warrant.

  21. KF-san,

    As I understand the presentation of Collingwood’s ideas, I can’t see a difference between an axiom, an absolute presupposition, and what you are calling a self evident truth.

    You can construct a theory in which error does not exist, but it won’t be very interesting. It certainly won’t be related in many useful ways to reality. However, I think warranted theories contain degrees of error and truth, confirmation and disconfirmation.

    I doubt in Collingwood’s view if it is ever possible to escape Plato’s Cave. At best, we can exchange one set of fire and shadow for another. The scientists working at the LHC know they are looking at shadows on the wall. Likewise, a biblical literalist is very clear about their absolute presupposition.

  22. The Rational Metaphysical Foundations For Science:

    —The Universe is orderly and rational, we have rational minds to comprehend the rational universe, and there is a correspondence between the two. [Both the investigator and the object of investigation exist and each is in logical harmony with the other]

    —The law of identity exists [A thing cannot be and not be at the same time]

    —The law of causality, which is a corollary to and is derived from the law of identity, also exists.

    [a] Anything that begins to exist must have a cause [Universes cannot just pop into existence].

    [b] Anything that was in the effect must have been in the cause [Life cannot come from non-life, mind cannot come from matter.

    [c] The cause cannot give something it does not have to give.

    [d] Because of a, b, and c, science can search for causes. [We can track down causes because we know that there are no uncaused physical events].

    The Irrational Metaphysical Foundations For Science: [embraced by Materialist/Darwinists]

    —We do not have rational minds, the universe may or may not be ordered, and there is no such thing as a correspondence of mind to reality because there are no minds and, therefore, nothing with which the universe can come into correspondence. [Matter investigates itself.]

    —The law of identity is not really a law because it does not really apply to the real world. It is just something humans constructed. Anything that is socially constructed can be deconstructed.

    —There is no law of causality because there is no law of identity.

    [a] Things can begin to exist without a cause [Universes can just pop into existence--quantum events need no causes--movement itself needs no cause--theoretically, a cement wall could come from out of nowhere and appear in front of a moving vehicle. There is nothing in principle to prevent it, nor can the materialist Darwinist claim that such an event is impossible. He can only say that we have not observed it.]

    [b] Things can be in the “effect” that were not present in the cause. [Life can come from non-life, mind can come from matter—physical events can come from out of nowhere].

    [c] The cause can give things it doesn’t have to give. [Even if intelligence or consciousness never existed, matter can produce it out of nothing—indeed, matter can cause itself. The universe may have caused itself]

    [d] Because of a, b, and c, science cannot search for causes. [We cannot track down the causes of events because, since some things can be uncaused, we have no way of knowing which events were caused and which events were not caused. Thus, when we have finally tracked down the cause of a certain event, the Darwinist can simply say, (and often does say) “sorry, but this was one of those events that was uncaused. Under the circumstances, science and rational discourse is impossible.

    (That is why it is futile to talk science with a materialist Darwinist or even attempt a rational discussion with him. It is far better to simply call attention to his irrational orientation. Rationality is a choice, and materialist/Darwinists have chosen not to be rational. Our task is not to debate them but rather to persuade them that rationality is the better choice.]

  23. Ilíon: “Also, the brain-in-a-vat hyper-skeptical hypothesis actually presupposes the very worldview it’s designed to call into question.

    KairosFocus: “That is one way to show the absurdity.

    And so on to infinite regress.

    .
    Well, while I’m confident that you (KF) understood what I was getting at, I probably ought to have said more than I did, for the sakes of those to whom “proof by contradiction” and/or reductio ad absurdum are novel concepts.

    As I said, the brain-in-a-vat hyper-skeptical hypothesis presupposes the very worldview it’s designed to call into question — much as a reductio ad absurdum does. However, with this hyper-skeptical hypothesis:
    1) the presupposition is hidden, rather than explicit;
    2) and the the hypothesis doesn’t lead us to see a self-contradiction in the presupposition itself;
    3) rather, if we are paying attention, we see that the hypothesis is worthless with respect to reason.

    KairosFocus: “In short, at some point we have to accept the general credibility of our senses, rationality and conscious awareness; …
    .
    We all must live by faith, and it is best to accept a faith that is not patently absurd by means of plain self-referential incoherence!

    .
    The brain-in-a-vat and all other such hyper-skepticism are tools that some persons, who almost invariably claim to be rationalists, use as a means to escape the destination to which reason takes us.

  24. Well, shoot! I can’t even *delete* a mis-formatted post (one more thing I didn’t recall from when I used to post here).

  25. StephenB:[(That is why it is futile to talk science with a materialist Darwinist or even attempt a rational discussion with him. It is far better to simply call attention to his irrational orientation. Rationality is a choice, and materialist/Darwinists have chosen not to be rational. Our task is not to debate them but rather to persuade them that rationality is the better choice.]

    Indeed!

    At the same time, one must be aware that in doing this — which is all that one can do rationally — one will become a target for those who, whether out of a misguided understanding of Christianity (*), or whether out of a duplicitous “throw out any charge that might distract them” mindset, will seek to change the topic from the irrationality one is opposing to one’s “meanness” in opposing it.

    (*) Some of the most vicious and personal attacks one will encounter for one’s “meanness” in pointing out the irrationality of the materialist position and refusing to back down on the point will come from persons claiming to be Christians. I call the religion such folk follow “Nice”-ianity, in contrast to Christianity.

  26. StephenB:The Irrational Metaphysical Foundations For Science: [embraced by Materialist/Darwinists]
    .
    [b] Things can be in the “effect” that were not present in the cause.
    [c] The cause can give things it doesn’t have to give.

    .
    This is covered by the magic-word “emergence.” Or: “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” — there are are persons whom adamantly oppose explicit materialism (a philosopher, even), but who will not see that a whole can never be greater than the sum of its parts.

  27. @ilion

    I’m a little confused as to what you mean with that last paragraph. Have you been the subject of abuse by Christians because you are not a materialist? I’m not sure I follow…

    In my experience, the worst insults and irreverence I’ve encountered on the matter came from materialists, militant atheists and nihilists. There is no word to describe how such types react once you reject their belief system. It truly is disgusting.

  28. Above,
    I’ve been the object of intense personal (and, really, self-contradictory) abuse by “nice” persons who choose to conflate bluntly stating logically inescapable truth with “meanness”– in their world, the fact that the materialists tend to get bent out of shape when certain inescapable truths are uttered is the proof that one should not utter these truths.

    In my experience, the worst insults and irreverence I’ve encountered on the matter came from materialists, militant atheists and nihilists.

    These “nice” persons tend to call themselves Christians, and tend, on the basis of my “meanness,” to denigrate my claim to be a Christian. These “nice” persons tend to insist that one is required by Christianity to *not* tell intellectually dishonest persons (i.e. ‘fools’) that they are behaving as fools. Though, of course, the “nice” person is always free to attack me (or you) in any way that he desires.

    “Nice”-ianity values “niceness” over truth.

  29. In my experience, the worst insults and irreverence I’ve encountered on the matter came from materialists, militant atheists and nihilists. There is no word to describe how such types react once you reject their belief system. It truly is disgusting.

    Right. The worst is that they won’t even abandon their false belief system even when faced with a superior belief system.

    It might be a better strategy not to reject their system, just present evidence for your own system and show why it is superior.

  30. Ilion,

    “…but who will not see that a whole can never be greater than the sum of its parts.”

    This sounds like reductionist nonsense. I guess it depends what are we talking about.

  31. 31

    All very interesting. But I’m still hoping to learn the following, vis this passage in the opening post:

    From this we can see how evolutionary biology is moribund. You cannot ask why cockroaches have remained unchanged since the Carboniferous, or why dinosaurs have not evolved multiple times, or why men don’t have babies. Just to ask these questions calls into question the absolute presuppositions – the metaphysics – that underlie evolutionary biology.

    What absolute metaphysical presuppositions prevent evolutionary biologists from asking why men don’t have babies?

    What absolute metaphysical presuppositions prevent evolutionary biologists from asking why dinosaurs have not evolved multiple times?

    What absolute metaphysical presuppositions prevent evolutionary biologists from investigating cockroach evolution?

    Does not investigation of the origin of sexual reproduction, the role of contingent events in the history of life, and the causes of stasis vs. diversity count as asking those questions, and as efforts to answer them?

    Thank you.

  32. StephenB,

    Rationality is a choice, and materialist/Darwinists have chosen not to be rational. Our task is not to debate them but rather to persuade them that rationality is the better choice.

    You have won me over.

    While I don’t agree with your conclusions, your methods are the only ones that work, mine don’t

    I’m going to take the position that Christians are irrational.

    My message to voters will be exactly your message with your arguments, that there is no debating with these people.

    Let’s just simply muzzle them.

  33. —Toronto: “While I don’t agree with your conclusions, your methods are the only ones that work, mine don’t.”I’m going to take the position that Christians are irrational.”

    First, you must know of what rationality consists. Do you know anything about the rules of right reason? Or do you lampoon those who remind you that such standards exist? Do you agree with those standards, allowing them to inform your philosophical and scientific conclusions. If not, then you are hardly in a position to declare that others are not following them. The difference would be that my charges are true and your charges would be bogus. Of course, I understand that Darwinists are less interested in truth and more interested in remaining on offense.

    Darwinist hate being put on defense or being asked to defend their indefensable positions. If you put them on defense, they will go back on offense rather than explain why they deny first principles or give any indication that they have ever even heard of them, as is evident in your response.

    —”My message to voters will be exactly your message with your arguments, that there is no debating with these people.”

    Inasmuch has you will have no record of Christians denying the law of non-contradiction and the law of causality, your message will be the equivalent of blowing smoke.

    —”Let’s just simply muzzle them.”

    That is already being done to Christians via the political correcntess established by your atheist colleagues. It is always the irrational ones, the Darwinisrts, who do the muzzling–who “expel” those in the academy who disagree with them–who establish hate crime laws to suppress free speech.

  34. That should read, “Darwinist hate being put on defense or being asked to defend their [indefensible] positions.”

  35. StephenB @33,

    —”My message to voters will be exactly your message with your arguments, that there is no debating with these people.”

    Inasmuch has you will have no record of Christians denying the law of non-contradiction and the law of causality, your message will be the equivalent of blowing smoke.

    Please understand why I came here and invested time in trying to defend my position.
    It was because I believed that if I put forth some reasonable arguments, they would be taken into consideration.

    You however, believe this:

    Rationality is a choice, and materialist/Darwinists have chosen not to be rational.

    Since in your words I am irrational, then there is no rational argument you can present to me or any of us.

    You’ve given me permission to treat you in the same manner you treat me.

    Should I instead give your arguments more merit than you give mine?

    Everyone who has read your declarations regarding the reasoning ability of our side, at some point will come to the same conclusion I have.

    1) You don’t take us seriously.

    2) We are under no obligation to treat you any differently than you treat us.

  36. —Zolar Czakl: “What absolute metaphysical presuppositions prevent evolutionary biologists from asking why dinosaurs have not evolved multiple times?”

    Did you not read the post. The Darwinist academy has decided that no aspect of evolutionary theory may be questioned, and that includes any questions that may indirectly challenge the paradigm. The defining presupposition is that Darwinism should be elevated to the level of a metaphysical truth.

  37. [Remedial education for Darwinists.] A metaphysical truth is one that we reason FROM so that we can reason our way TO other truths. It is not a product of evidence but rather a tool by which we evaluate evidence.

  38. 38

    Mr. StephenB:

    The Darwinist academy has decided that no aspect of evolutionary theory may be questioned, and that includes any questions that may indirectly challenge the paradigm. The defining presupposition is that Darwinism should be elevated to the level of a metaphysical truth.

    This is far more general, and devoid of metaphysical content, than the sort of presuppositions I would have taken Collingwood as describing.

    Help me out with one of Mr. Russel’s examples. Would you describe the way in which this purported presupposition bars evolutionary biologists from asking why men don’t have babies? Also, can you explain why investigation into the evolutionary origins of sexual reproduction does not, in effect, ask the question of why men don’t have babies?

  39. 39

    There’s an interesting topic. Maybe we can just talk about the evolutionary origins of sexual reproduction. That should be fun.

  40. @Ilion

    Now I understand what you mean. Basically some Christians (or nice-ians) as you call them object to blatantly stating certain things that upset the materialist/atheist and consider it to be unacceptable.

    I actually had an atheist recently try to play that trick on me. After exposing him for lying and pointing out his ignorance and circularity of logic – although I must admit I took no great measures to sugar-coat it for him, but neither was I rude – he turned around and called me hateful.

    You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t, basically.

  41. —Zolar Czakl: “This is far more general, and devoid of metaphysical content, than the sort of presuppositions I would have taken Collingwood as describing.”

    Materialist metaphysics is not devoid of metaphysics and it drives the arbitrary and tyrannical policy euphemistically labeled “methodological naturalism,” which declares that scientists must study nature “as if nature is all there is.” Without the materiaist metaphysics, there would be no such rule.

    —”Would you describe the way in which this purported presupposition bars evolutionary biologists from asking why men don’t have babies?”

    I cannot speak for Collingwood. I suspect what he might of meant was this: To ask why men do not have babies is to probe the possibility that some things are unnatural to the extent that they militate against the designed order of reproduction.

    However, if you don’t like the example, then throw it out and just acknowledge the principle: The Darwinist academy has ruled that its version of evolution is an unassailable fact which must be elevated to the level of metaphysical truth. As you may know, all scientific theories are based on higher or lower degrees of probability. Thus, when any group insists that they have discovered a incontestable truth, say on the level of the law of non-contradiction, then they are doing metaphysics. Science doesn’t make those kinds of declarations.

  42. That should read as follows: “Materialist metaphysics is not devoid of [metaphysical content] and it drives the arbitrary and tyrannical policy euphemistically labeled “methodological naturalism,” which declares that scientists must study nature “as if nature is all there is.” Without the materiaist metaphysics, there would be no such rule.

  43. —Toronto: “Please understand why I came here and invested time in trying to defend my position. It was because I believed that if I put forth some reasonable arguments, they would be taken into consideration.”

    If someone from your side advances a reasonable argument, I promise that I will give it every consideration.

    —Since in your words I am irrational, then there is no rational argument you can present to me or any of us.”

    Since Materialist/Darwinists embrace irrationality by choice, they can unmake that choice and begin to accept [and advance] rational arguments at any time of their own choosing.

    —”You’ve given me permission to treat you in the same manner you treat me.”

    Why would I voluntarily agree to such a inequitable set of conditions. I accept the law of identity and its derivative law of causality. Materialist Darwinists do not. We are not, therefore, on the same rational plane.

    —”Should I instead give your arguments more merit than you give mine?”

    At the moment, Yes. You can, however, change all that.

    —”Everyone who has read your declarations regarding the reasoning ability of our side, at some point will come to the same conclusion I have.

    —”1) You don’t take us seriously.”

    I will take anyone seriously who honestly seeks the truth or anyone who makes a reasoned argument.

    2) “We are under no obligation to treat you any differently than you treat us.”

    Like everyone else, your side has a moral obligation to follow the light of truth to the extent that you are able.

  44. StephenB,

    Rationality is a choice, and materialist/Darwinists have chosen not to be rational.

    The only way I would accept YOUR side as being rational is if you accepted that OUR side is rational.

    I don’t need your agreement or permission to treat you the same way you treat me.

  45. 45

    Thank you StephenB:

    Materialist metaphysics is not devoid of metaphysics and it drives the arbitrary and tyrannical policy euphemistically labeled “methodological naturalism,” which declares that scientists must study nature “as if nature is all there is.” Without the materiaist metaphysics, there would be no such rule.

    The essential constraint governing science, including evolutionary biology, is the exclusion of explanatory entities that have no specific required empirical implications. As Collingwood intends his use of “metaphysical” to denote methodological rather than ontological commitments, that constraint certainly does qualify as a metaphysical (as he defines it) presupposition of science generally and evolutionary biology specifically. Collingwood argues that it is such commitments that make inquiry of all kinds possible. You may be committed to other methods of inquiry and means to knowledge that are grounded in other presuppositions.

    I cannot speak for Collingwood.

    It was Mr. Russel who stated that evolutionary biologists can’t ask why men don’t have babies, not Collingwood. Did you not read the post?

    I suspect what he might of meant was this: To ask why men do not have babies is to probe the possibility that some things are unnatural to the extent that they militate against the designed order of reproduction.

    I doubt that is what he intended. Perhaps he’ll return to clarify.

    However, if you don’t like the example, then throw it out and just acknowledge the principle: The Darwinist academy has ruled that its version of evolution is an unassailable fact which must be elevated to the level of metaphysical truth.

    I’ll happily embrace the presupposition that science generally, and evolutionary biology specifically, require the exclusion of explanatory entities that have no necessary empirical implications. I don’t see how you can make it do any work otherwise.

  46. StephenB @ 22

    The Rational Metaphysical Foundations For Science:

    —The Universe is orderly and rational, we have rational minds to comprehend the rational universe, and there is a correspondence between the two. [Both the investigator and the object of investigation exist and each is in logical harmony with the other]

    We have to assume that the Universe is orderly and rational otherwise the scientific enterprise is impossible and that is the way it appears to be for the most part. The quantum bit appears to be a bit trickier.

    —The law of identity exists [A thing cannot be and not be at the same time]

    That sounds similar to the law of non-contradiction and both sound suspiciously like truisms.

    —The law of causality, which is a corollary to and is derived from the law of identity, also exists.

    It appears to be true, subject to Hume’s reservations and the tricky quantum bit.

    [a] Anything that begins to exist must have a cause [Universes cannot just pop into existence].

    Does that include God? Or, if God’s eternal, why can’t the Universe be the same? I know there is the Big Bang but that could just be one in an eternal sequence.

    [b] Anything that was in the effect must have been in the cause [Life cannot come from non-life, mind cannot come from matter.

    If I start my car, I am the cause of it starting but I don't supply the electric charge from the battery or the fuel or the air the fuel needs to burn.

    [c] The cause cannot give something it does not have to give.

    Again, that would appear to be a truism.

    [d] Because of a, b, and c, science can search for causes. [We can track down causes because we know that there are no uncaused physical events].

    Except, maybe, for the tricky quantum thing.

    The Irrational Metaphysical Foundations For Science: [embraced by Materialist/Darwinists]

    —We do not have rational minds, the universe may or may not be ordered, and there is no such thing as a correspondence of mind to reality because there are no minds and, therefore, nothing with which the universe can come into correspondence. [Matter investigates itself.]

    Pretty much a complete strawman, I’d say. I’ve never seen it argued by any Darwinist or materialist or atheist.

    —The law of identity is not really a law because it does not really apply to the real world. It is just something humans constructed. Anything that is socially constructed can be deconstructed.

    That sounds more like postmodernism or deconstructionism and no self-respecting Darwinist/materialist/atheist would touch those with a bargepole.

    —There is no law of causality because there is no law of identity.

    See above under the Rational heading.

    [a] Things can begin to exist without a cause [Universes can just pop into existence--quantum events need no causes--movement itself needs no cause--theoretically, a cement wall could come from out of nowhere and appear in front of a moving vehicle. There is nothing in principle to prevent it, nor can the materialist Darwinist claim that such an event is impossible. He can only say that we have not observed it.]

    You do realize that you are talking about physics here not biology? I don’t see why this should be a particular problem for Darwinists.

    [b] Things can be in the “effect” that were not present in the cause. [Life can come from non-life, mind can come from matter—physical events can come from out of nowhere].

    This is an interesting one.

    Imagine observing the newly-born Universe shortly after the Big Bang had gone ‘Bang!’ assuming you could without being instantly vaporized. You would see an incredibly hot quark soup. If we has been able to study it then could we have predicted the the Universe we see now would eventually emerge? I doubt it. Let’s make it a little easier and come back later when things have calmed down somewhat. The Universe is now filled with drifting hydrogen gas subject to the nuclear forces, electromagnetism and gravity which have all condensed out of the earlier maelstrom. Would there have been any way to forecast the current state of the Universe based on what we would have seen then? Again, I doubt it. It is still pretty much a complete mystery which is good because it gives us another puzzle to try and solve.

    Thus, when we have finally tracked down the cause of a certain event, the Darwinist can simply say, (and often does say) “sorry, but this was one of those events that was uncaused. Under the circumstances, science and rational discourse is impossible.

    I have never heard any Darwinist arguing that anything in biology was uncaused.

    (That is why it is futile to talk science with a materialist Darwinist or even attempt a rational discussion with him. It is far better to simply call attention to his irrational orientation.

    Well, of course you are not going to get much of a conversation from strawmen. And dismissing your opponents arguments as irrational in advance is a neat way to avoid having to engage them. The best solution is to avoid getting enmired in metaphysical quicksands altogether. Indulge in all the speculation and just-so stories you like as long as you remember that is all they are. For anything more definite, stick with the evidence as far as possible but be prepared to live with a lot of ‘I don’t know’ until the evidence comes along.

  47. —Zolar Czakl: “The essential constraint governing science, including evolutionary biology, is the exclusion of explanatory entities that have no specific required empirical implications.”

    Meaning no disrespect, but I cannot extract your meaning from that paragraph.

    —”I am Collingwood argues that it is such commitments that make inquiry of all kinds possible. You may be committed to other methods of inquiry and means to knowledge that are grounded in other presuppositions.”

    Yes, all science is governed by metaphysical assumptions. To be sure, I am committed to a number of such presuppositions.

  48. —Seversky: “We have to assume that the Universe is orderly and rational otherwise the scientific enterprise is impossible and that is the way it appears to be for the most part. The quantum bit appears to be a bit trickier.”

    If micro marvels are not subject to the law of causation then other elements of the cosmos may also be exempt from that law. That leaves us with having to guess which events are caused and which ones are not, which would be the end of science. The universe cannot be almost orderly, or selectively orderly, or orderly in some ways and not other ways. Neither science nor reason could grasp such a cosmic madhouse.

    —“That sounds similar to the law of non-contradiction and both sound suspiciously like truisms.”

    Is that your way of saying that you only tentatively accept the law of non-contradiction or that you have reservations about it? That would mean it isn’t a law, which would be a denial of the law.

    —“It appears to be true, subject to Hume’s reservations and the tricky quantum bit.”

    Reservations about the law of causality is a denial of the law of causality.

    —Does that include God?

    No, God did not begin to exist. —

    —“Or, if God’s eternal, why can’t the Universe be the same? I know there is the Big Bang but that could just be one in an eternal sequence.”

    Most scientists accept the proposition that the Big Bang points to a contingent universe, which would require a first cause outside of itself. Under those circumstances, the first cause must be immaterial. It cannot be otherwise. A material first cause is impossible of the universe if contingent.

    —“Pretty much a complete strawman, I’d say. I’ve never seen it argued by any Darwinist or materialist or atheist.”

    It’s not a strawman. Materialist atheists do not believe in minds as defined in any rational sense. They simply allude to extensions of brains and call them minds. It is a trick of language—a way of using reason’s rhetoric [yes there are minds] while arguing on behalf of non-reason [but they aren’t really minds at all].

    —“Imagine observing the newly-born Universe shortly after the Big Bang had gone ‘Bang!’ assuming you could without being instantly vaporized. You would see an incredibly hot quark soup. If we has been able to study it then could we have predicted the the Universe we see now would eventually emerge? I doubt it. Let’s make it a little easier and come back later when things have calmed down somewhat. The Universe is now filled with drifting hydrogen gas subject to the nuclear forces, electromagnetism and gravity which have all condensed out of the earlier maelstrom. Would there have been any way to forecast the current state of the Universe based on what we would have seen then? Again, I doubt it. It is still pretty much a complete mystery which is good because it gives us another puzzle to try and solve.”

    At any rate, the conditions described must be set up. Causal conditions do not create themselves; they must be caused by something other than themselves.

    —“I have never heard any Darwinist arguing that anything in biology was uncaused.”

    That’s true. They don’t explicitly argue that events were uncaused. They simply provide explanations that offer some explanation in lieu of causality and then carry on as sleek as ever. So, to the question, “How does life come from non-life, when non-life has no life to give,” the Darwinist answers,—“it didn’t need to come from life—it simply emerged.”

    —“For anything more definite, stick with the evidence as far as possible but be prepared to live with a lot of ‘I don’t know’ until the evidence comes along.”

    Rational investigation doesn’t begin with evidence. It begins with reason’s first principles through which evidence is interpreted. Evidence cannot interpret itself.

  49. 49

    StephenB:

    Meaning no disrespect, but I cannot extract your meaning from that paragraph.

    Explanatory entities = the objects, phenomena, relationships etc. one takes as causal or explanatory in one’s theory.

    Specific, required empirical implications = required empirically observable differences.

    Ergo:

    The essential constraint governing science is the exclusion of explanatory objects, phenomena, relationships etc. that make no required empirically observable differences.

  50. ZC:

    Intelligence, through art, leaves quite characteristic empirically observable traces. (if you can read this text, you are seeing one of these signs in action.)

    Among which, we find functionally specific, complex information as marks the differences between:

    [a] hw9ry3uigjergihvhvuhbs

    [b] aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    [c] organised text in contextually responsive English

    DNA exhibits strings of characters from class c, which function in an algorithmic environment to produce the biofunctional proteins of life, cf here.

    We have no good reason to infer on observation, that either chance [a] or necessity [b] can produce such, but routinely agents do. Indeed, such complex specified functional information just use 125 bytes as a useful threshold for complexity and look at the implied space of possible configurations vs the state-transformation capacity of the observed universe across its lifespan to date] is an excellent and reliable sign of intelligent action, on a vast body of experience.

    GEM of TKI

  51. —Zolar Czakl: “I’ll happily embrace the presupposition that science generally, and evolutionary biology specifically, require the exclusion of explanatory entities that have no necessary empirical implications. I don’t see how you can make it do any work otherwise.”

    If you are saying that science must rule out any explanation that is not consistent with empirically verifiable observations, I would wholeheartedly agree.

    On the other hand, your comment was a response to my comment which read as follows:

    “The Darwinist academy has ruled that its version of evolution is an unassailable fact which must be elevated to the level of metaphysical truth.”

    The Darwinist academy protects this world view by means of “methodological naturalism,” the unwarranted presupposition that science may not study empirically observed design patterns in nature. Such a rule is arbitrary and self-serving, calculated to preserve the crumbling Darwinist paradigm. Historically, it has no precedent. Its purpose is to suppress counter explanations, which is the very antithesis of science.

    The metaphysical foundations for science are based on reason alone, i.e. the ordered universe, the law of non-contradiction, the law of causality, etc. There is no legitimate metaphysical principle that dictates to scientists which methods they should use. No one can rationally elevate a procedural rule to the level of metaphysics, declaring, in effect, that a scientist must study nature “as if nature is all there is.” That many do, in fact, make that declaration and attempt that elevation is a sign that reason has been abandoned and apriori commitments to materialist metaphysics are in play.

  52. 52

    StephenB:

    If you are saying that science must rule out any explanation that is not consistent with empirically verifiable observations, I would wholeheartedly agree.

    That isn’t a wholly accurate restatement of this particular presupposition. Rather, what is presupposed is that that explanatory entities that have no necessary empirical consequences are scientifically useless. Evidence can neither be inconsistent nor meaningfully consistent with an explanatory entity/process/relationship that leaves no necessary empirical footprint at all. Therefore your statement of the principle is too weak.

    This is the most important fork of “methodological naturalism,” shorn of unnecessary and debatable definitions of what counts as “natural.” The bottom line isn’t that explanatory entities in science must be natural, but rather that they must have necessary and practically observable empirical consequences.

    There is no legitimate metaphysical principle that dictates to scientists which methods they should use. No one can rationally elevate a procedural rule to the level of metaphysics, declaring, in effect, that a scientist must study nature “as if nature is all there is.”

    FWIW, as I understand it, that is essentially the opposite of what Collingswood argues. He defends the reality of metaphysical statements, but argues that the only metaphysical statements that continue to have value are those that specify a commitment to a certain method of inquiry. Such commitments can neither be derived empirically, nor analytically, and hence (he argues) stand as surviving examples of metaphysical utterances. They don’t establish anything metaphysically ontological, however (e.g. the existence or non-existence of “mind”). However, once one has embraced particular presuppositions, one can proceed with one’s inquiry “as if” the resulting ontology were true.

    The Darwinist academy protects this world view by means of “methodological naturalism,” the unwarranted presupposition that science may not study empirically observed design patterns in nature.

    Study any pattern you please to your heart’s content. However, if the explanatory entities you invoke to explain those patterns predict no further unique empirical footprint, your explanation will remain scientifically hollow. That is because it is circular to infer your explanatory entity from the observed phenomenon, then explain the phenomenon in terms of that inferred entity.

  53. Zolar Czakl @52,

    That is because it is circular to infer your explanatory entity from the observed phenomenon, then explain the phenomenon in terms of that inferred entity.

    That was very nicely stated.

  54. —Zolar Czakl: “That isn’t a wholly accurate restatement of this particular presupposition. Rather, what is presupposed is that that explanatory entities that have no necessary empirical consequences are scientifically useless. Evidence can neither be inconsistent nor meaningfully consistent with an explanatory entity/process/relationship that leaves no necessary empirical footprint at all. Therefore your statement of the principle is too weak.”

    You will not be surprised to learn that I prefer my account. At any rate, neither your interpretation of methodological naturalism nor my interpretation of methodological naturalism defines science. Methodological naturalism is anti-science by anyone’s definition.

    Debatable definitions of the word “natural” is, indeed, one of the problems with methodological naturalism. Its proponents insist that a scientist may not study anything other than natural causes even thought they cannot define the word “natural.” That is a bizarre set of circumstances to say the least. The historical facts are easy to verify. Darwinist bureaucrats conceived an arbitrary rule called “Methodological Naturalism” in order to discredit any evidence that would threaten their crumbling paradigm.

    On Collingswood, I haven’t read the work in question nor do I have easy access to it, so I will happily accept your account for his take on metaphysics. At this point, I would rather argue on my own behalf rather than defend Collingswood, who, from what I have read recently, is not someone I would care to defend in any case, or Mr. Russell, at least until he reappeareds to explain his examples.

    —”Study any pattern you please to your heart’s content. However, if the explanatory entities you invoke to explain those patterns predict no further unique empirical footprint, your explanation will remain scientifically hollow. That is because it is circular to infer your explanatory entity from the observed phenomenon, then explain the phenomenon in terms of that inferred entity.”

    Your description fails to capture the reality of a design inference. An inference to the best explanation, or “abduction,” is not circular by any stretch of the imagination. Once we leave the world of abstract descriptions and apply the concrete ID paradigms, the point becomes evident.

    On the other hand, the Darwinist approach is indeed circular. Through the principle of methodological naturalism, the stultified scientist rules out design patterns in nature on the grounds that they may indicate “supernatural entities (also undefined). Then, in the next breath, he declares that he can find no evidence for design. That’s quite an irony.

  55. 55

    StephenB:

    You will not be surprised to learn that I prefer my account.

    Of course.

    Nevertheless, science generally and evolutionary biology specifically take the standard I articulate as their Collingwoodsian starting points. As you have often said, scientists themselves should be left to select the presuppositions and hence the methodologies appropriate to their discipline. Evolutionary biology certainly chooses to hold to the quite basic standard I articulate above. I for one can’t see how anything resembling science can be accomplished by means of theoretical entities that can make no empirical difference.

    Debatable definitions of the word “natural” is, indeed, one of the problems with methodological naturalism. Its proponents insist that a scientist may not study anything other than natural causes even thought they cannot define the word “natural.”

    The requirement that one’s Explanatory entities/processes/relationships have necessary empirical consequences makes no reference to a definition of “the natural” (nor to Robert Redford).

    On the other hand, the Darwinist approach is indeed circular. Through the principle of methodological naturalism, the stultified scientist rules out design patterns in nature on the grounds that they may indicate “supernatural entities” (also undefined). Then, in the next breath, he declares that he can find no evidence for design.

    The presupposition I describe doesn’t concern itself with definitions of either “natural” or “supernatural,” and is therefore guilty of neither this circularity nor its associated irony.

  56. —“Evolutionary biology certainly chooses to hold to the quite basic standard I articulate above. I for one can’t see how anything resembling science can be accomplished by means of theoretical entities that can make no empirical difference.”

    The language you use differs from the terms found in the official documents offered by the Kansas science standards and by such Darwinist luminaries such as Eugenie Scott, Francis Ayala, Ken Miller, and a good number of others. They all have different ways of expressing the same point. For them, the scientist must study nature as if nature is all there is. It is not necessary to use your exact formulation, especially since it is, from my perspective, unnecessarily abstruse. Even if it resonates among a small group of evolutionary biologists, though I have no reason to believe that it does, it would not be relevant to the discussion on methodological naturalism because it is not the formulation used to discredit intelligent design.

    —“The requirement that one’s Explanatory entities/processes/relationships have necessary empirical consequences makes no reference to a definition of “the natural” (nor to Robert Redford).”

    In each case that I alluded to (I can provide dozens more if you like), the word natural is absolutely essential. The reason for this should be clear. In order to discredit the design inference, the Darwinist academy must associate it with the “supernatural,” and exempt itself from the same charge by associating itself exclusively with the “natural,” which, of course, they cannot define. Your account is worth considering as a singular example, to be sure, but its legitimacy must be weighed against all the other examples which resound with consistent clarity.

    —“The presupposition I describe doesn’t concern itself with definitions of either “natural” or “supernatural,” and is therefore guilty of neither this circularity nor its associated irony.”

    If your presupposition does not fall into circularity, then it allows for a design inference and there should be no problem. Does it? In fact, Darwinism as an approach to science, is circular by virtue of the fact that is assumes its conclusion prior to examining the evidence. It decides, in advance, which evidence it will accept or reject. We know, for example, that Darwinism simply rejects all evidence for design apriori. Dawkins defines biology as the study of organisms that appear to be designed but are not. That definition rules out all counter evidence, which makes it unscientific.

  57. dawkins’ definition sounds so circular and arbitrary it’s laughable.

    Let’s play with it:

    Original formulation – Biology is the study of organisms that appear to be designed but are not

    Parody 1 – Biology is the study of organisms that appear to be designed but are not but in fact are actually are designed

    Parody 2 – Biology is the study of organisms that appear to be designed but are not but in fact they actually are designed… but truly they are not

    Parody 3 – Biology is the study of organisms that appear to be designed but are not but in fact they actually are designed… but truly they are not… even though they are designed (seriously this time)

    Ad infinitum.

  58. 58

    StephenB:

    It is not necessary to use your exact formulation, especially since it is, from my perspective, unnecessarily abstruse.

    My formulation simply requires that explanatory hypotheses be “defeasible on the basis of new evidence” (see below). That, in turn, requires that one’s hypothesis specify necessary/inevitable empirical consequences. Otherwise it cannot be tested. There is nothing obscure or difficult to understand about that.

    Even if it resonates among a small group of evolutionary biologists, though I have no reason to believe that it does…

    I’d say the opposite is the case: the vast majority of working evolutionary biologists (and working scientists generally) are busy with the business of formulating hypotheses that are amenable to empirical test and then testing them, guided by the constraint I describe above. Most are otherwise not particularly interested in philosophical issues, or this debate.

    The language you use differs from the terms found in the official documents offered by the Kansas science standards and by such Darwinist luminaries such as Eugenie Scott, Francis Ayala, Ken Miller, and a good number of others. They all have different ways of expressing the same point. For them, the scientist must study nature as if nature is all there is.

    Here is a description of MN from Robert Pennock, one of its more ardent advocates:

    The Naturalist view of the world has become coincident with the scientific view of the world, whatever that may turn out to be. Many people continue to think of the scientific world view as being exclusively materialistic and deterministic, but if science discovers forces and fields and indeterministic causal processes, then these too are to be accepted as part of the Naturalistic world view. The key point is that Naturalism is not necessarily tied to specific ontological claims (about what sorts of being do or don’t exist); its base commitment is to a method of inquiry….The Methodological Naturalist does not make a commitment directly to a picture of what exists in the world, but rather to a set of methods as a reliable way to find out about the world – typically the methods of the natural sciences, and perhaps extensions that are continuous with them – and indirectly to what those methods discover. An important feature of science is that its conclusions are defeasible on the basis of new evidence, so whatever tentative claims a Methodological Naturalist makes are always open to revision or abandonment on the basis of new, countervailing evidence.

    As I read the above, the term “natural” resolves to the non-negotiable methodological constraint (absolute presupposition, if you like) that both defines and makes possible contemporary science, namely that one limit one’s explanatory entities and relationships to those that have necessary empirical consequences. One needn’t become bogged down with a formal demarcation between the “natural” and the “supernatural,” although many entities colloquially understood to be “supernatural” (e.g. an omnipotent deity) will be excluded. Hewing to the constraint I describe above is enough.

    If your presupposition does not fall into circularity, then it allows for a design inference and there should be no problem. Does it?

    Well, let’s see. Would you describe an application of the design inference that specifies necessary empirical consequences? Better yet, identify an empirical investigation motivated thereby, its findings, and questions raised for future research suggested by those findings?

  59. —Zolar Czakl: –”explanatory entities that have no necessary empirical consequences are scientifically useless.”

    Define “explanatory entity” and “necessarily empirical consequences” in terms of the “big bang.” Who or what is playing each role. Describe each role in the language of your definitions.

    —”Would you describe an application of the design inference that specifies necessary empirical consequences? Better yet, identify an empirical investigation motivated thereby, its findings, and questions raised for future research suggested by those findings?”

    Is that a no?

  60. 60

    StephenB:

    Define “explanatory entity” and “necessarily empirical consequences” in terms of the “big bang.” Who or what is playing each role. Describe each role in the language of your definitions.

    OK. I’ll play. Then you play too. OK?

    “Explanatory entity.” From time zero forward we have quite precise models of the unfolding of events in quantum and relativistic terms, and you may insert that account here.

    The “necessary empirical consequences” are abundant: the CBR, the abundance and ratios of light elements, the large scale distribution and evolution of galaxies, etc., all predicted by the model. The failure to observe any one of these would have been sufficient to disconfirm the model.

    It is by means of a recursive conversation between the evolving model, the predicted empirical observations, and the actual very hard work required to make the required observations that we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that the big bang occurred. That is an astonishing scientific accomplishment, and a beautiful illustration of how the natural sciences work.

    Of course, you are pulling for the ultimate origins (a contradiction in terms?) of the large noisy event.

    Vis that, well, tarnation StephenB. Beats me. I’m quite sure I’ll never know.

    Fortunately for my argument, it does not follow from “I don’t know” that one is licensed to advance, in the context of scientific inquiry, explanations that have no empirical consequences. Nor would there be any point in doing so. Try as you might, you can’t make such postulates do any scientific work.

    Is that a no?

    That was a “let’s see.” Whether or not we do see is contingent upon whether you play too.

    Would you describe an application of the design inference that specifies necessary empirical consequences? Better yet, would you identify an empirical investigation motivated thereby, its findings, and questions for future research suggested by those findings?

    Such is the daily bread of scientific inquiry.

  61. —“Explanatory entity.” From time zero forward we have quite precise models of the unfolding of events in quantum and relativistic terms, and you may insert that account here.” [I had asked what ZC to explain the role of the “explanatory entity” in terms of the big bang.]

    So a proposed model is an entity? Perhaps you had better define “entity.” What is its role? Can an intelligent agent be an entity? Why or why not?

    —“Of course, you are pulling for the ultimate origins (a contradiction in terms?) of the large noisy event. [Big Bang]

    No, I am trying to get you to define your terms, which is a little like pulling teeth. Why cannot an intelligent agent qualify as an explanatory entity?

    Further, you have ignored all the other scientists I listed who define methodological naturalism differently than you do, that is, using the “natural/supernatural” dichotomy. Why should I accept your minority account rather their majority account, especially in light of the fact that Darwinists say science should be defined by majority opinion?

    Further still, the one person on the planet who uses the language that you are using is on record at Dover insisting that science is the search for natural causes and that ID is a foray into the “supernatural.” When he testified at Dover, Pennock, when he was not trying to create a fog with the language, stated clearly that the natural/supernatural dichotomy was the line of demarcation between science and non-science.

    Thus, it is now evident that the purpose of his new formulation is to retain “naturalism,” [to study nature as if nature is all there is] while creating the illusion that methodological naturalism is more flexible than it really is.

    —“That was a “let’s see.” Whether or not we do see is contingent upon whether you play too.

    I asked you a yes or no question, which means that I was not inviting another question. It is not my task to take your definitions, which I and a long list of scientists [even your Darwinist colleagues] do not agree with and make sense of them. That is your gig. Still, I understand why you didn’t answer the question, so will answer the question for you.

    Using the very quote you provided earlier, the answer would be “yes.” Pennock writes, ….”so, whatever tentative claims a Methodological Naturalist makes are always open to revision or abandonment on the basis of new, countervailing evidence.” Thus, when the ID scientist presents new evidence, the Methodological Naturalist is, by this definition, bound to accept it as countervailing evidence. But, of course, we know that Pennock does not mean what he says because the word “naturalism” in methodological naturalism, means exactly what it says—no intelligent agent need apply.

    His point, and yours, is to make methodological naturalism APPEAR to be flexible while rigidly holding to the same old naturalist paradigm. That is the basic Darwinist message” a thing can be true and false at the same time and under the same formal circumstances. “We are flexible, but we are not.” “We admit countervailing evidence, but not really.” I prefer Lewontin’s expression informed by his honest metaphysical commitment, which speaks for all methodological naturalists. As he put it, “we cannot allow a “Divine foot in the door.” If only all Darwinists were as honest and forthcoming as he. If only Pennock would be as clear and honest as he was at Dover. If only you would follow his earlier example.

  62. Zolar Czakl,

    That is some of the most beautiful, elegant, and concise language I have seen on this topic. Thank you. I am really enjoying the conversation you are having with StephenB.

    StephenB, I think it is clear from what ZC is saying that the ID inference would definitely be accepted if, as an explanatory entity, it specified empirical consequences that could then be searched for and studied.

    I find it curious that you are criticizing ZC for (allegedly) ignoring other scientists and coming up with his own formulation. As you say, darwinists are frequently criticized on this site for doing precisely the opposite.

  63. 63

    StephenB:

    So a proposed model is an entity? Perhaps you had better define “entity.” What is its role?

    I’ve stated a simple notion: That one’s causal/explanatory terms (entities, relationships, processes) must have necessary empirical consequences. Otherwise one’s theory isn’t amenable to empirical test, and therefore cannot claim to be scientific.

    A few brief examples should make this clear.

    - In the germ theory of disease the causal, hence explanatory entities are microorganisms and their pathogenic properties. The necessary empirical findings included the detection of pathogenic organisms in persons who suffer the corresponding disease, the occurrence of that disease following the introduction of that pathogen into healthy persons, and so forth (i.e. Koch’s postulates.)

    - In the theory of plate tectonics the causal, explanatory entities are plates that move in relationship to one another, and the dynamics of that movement. Predicted empirical consequences included a spreading sea floor (confirmed by the magnetic striping of the Atlantic sea bed), the subduction of seafloor crust, close geological relationships between now separated continental areas that were once joined, as well as contrasting geological features in areas composed of once separated terranes that are now fused to one another.

    - In operant learning theory the causal explanatory relationship (a relational entity, in this case) is that between behaviors and the contingent occurrence of reinforcers. The required empirical outcome is a predictable relationship between reinforcement schedule and the frequency and persistence of those behaviors upon which those reinforcers are contingent.

    And so forth. Each exemplifies a scientific model. The entities, relationships, processes within each model specifies necessary empirical consequences by means of which we can test the applicability/fit of that model.

    Can an intelligent agent be an entity?

    Sure, so long as the agent is postulated/modeled/described (etc.) in such a way that necessary empirical consequences flow therefrom, rendering the theory testable.

  64. What you are describing is the same classic methodological naturalism introduced in the mid 1980′s, dealing solely with naturalistic causes and predictable effects. We already know how those things work, so using three more examples to emphasize the point does not illuminate.

    What everyone is fussing over is the methodological naturalist’s presumptive declaration that science must be limited to that which you describe. Describing it over and over does not answer that question. In effect, you are are straining at gnats and swallowing camels. To impose materialist metaphysics by another name, using the language of “empirical inevitability” and “explanatory entity” does nothing to justify the imposition. What is not clear is whether or not you recognize that fact.

  65. 65

    StephenB:

    What you are describing is the same classic methodological naturalism introduced in the mid 1980’s, dealing solely with naturalistic causes and predictable effects.

    Scientific theories must be testable by means of empirical evidence. To be testable, they must specify predicted empirical findings that flow from the theory.

    I gather from your responses that ID does not meet this standard. Hence your only move is to reject the standard.

    “If the shoe fits,” as they say.

  66. 66

    zeroseven:

    That is some of the most beautiful, elegant, and concise language I have seen on this topic.

    Thank you zeroseven.

  67. —Zolar Czakl: “I gather from your responses that ID does not meet this standard. Hence your only move is to reject the standard.”

    My how quickly you catch on. The entire debate is centered around the self-serving nature of that standard.

    As I pointed out earlier, probing through your Pennock-inspired fog, materialist metaphysics informs methodological naturlism. Because both methodological naturalism and your novel formula are designed to rule out ID in principle, it follows as surely as night follows day, that ID would not meet its arbitrary qualifications.

    If you lift your head of of the fog, you will discover that repeating your own definition of science does not speak to the question of who has the right to define it. Much less does it address the point about one group of bureaucratic busybodies imposing it definitions on everyone else.

  68. Steve

    Just for kicks, here is my own semi-popular “definition” of what science at its best should be, in terms of the sort of a generic, popular level:

    The unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible progressive, open-ended pursuit of the truth about or world, by observation, hypothesis, experiement, induction, theorising and modelling, simulation, logico-mathematical analysis and discussion by the informed, in light of inference to the best current explanation on empirically credible causal factors and dynamics.

    Now, where did I get such weird ideas from, and who ever set me up with a “right” to try to define science? (Apart from: it helps when you have to teach it . . ., and the part about ethical responsibility says not only :no cheating,” but also “no help to future would be Hitlers.” )

    Well, let’s try this fella for starters:

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses [in the sense of unsupported guesses] are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations. [Opticks, Query 31]

    Y’know, that weirdo Called Isaac, who wrote a couple of books that never saw the light of peer review, called himself a mathematician of sorts, said he was doing something called Natural Philosophy, spent a lot of time speculating on apocalyptic Bible texts, dabbled in alchemy, and went on to play at detective to catch counterfeiters.

    Nobody of any account. Especially by comparison with a certain C. Robert D. who came along a hundred and more years later.

    NOT!

    What he summed up is an obvious root source of many pre-”methodological” a priori materialist attempts to redefine science in ways that twist it away from being an open-minded open-ended pursuit of the truth about our cosmos [never mind how often we will err --Newton knew that too], into applied materialistic atheism, enforced by a new magisterium in lab coats in the name of claims that “it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [which to such minds is in practice even if not in theory all of reality].”

    So, a couple of dictionaries of some note:

    science: a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe. [Concise Oxford, 1990]

    scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge [”the body of truth, information and principles acquired by mankind”] involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. [Webster's 7th Collegiate, 1965]

    When instead we see the sort of radical attempted redefinition as was tried out in Kansas in 2001, and which was endorsed by the US National Academy of Sciences [which -- surpise [NOT] — just happens to have an over-representation of atheists and fellow travellers in it] — “Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations of the world around us.” — we can be sure that a hidden agenda game is in play.

    But, that builds in the a priori that he only explaining factors that will be tolerated lo and behold are those that just happen to sit well with materialism. And as for the excuse that such is the centuries old practice of science over the past 300 – 500 years, that is a lie, a lie because those who make it or repeat it know they should do their homework first. One that can easily be countered by looking at what major scientists have had to say (why not read the whole of Query 31 as linked?]. And it imposes an implicit censoring constraint on what would otherwise be a credible candidate explanation: intelligence [i.e. art, as opposed to the ever so convenient strawman: "the supernatural" -- which BTW, if intelligent could conceivably leave traces of intelligent action . . . ], wherever that is inconvenient for materialism.

    GEM of TKI

  69. 69

    Speaking of shoes that fit: what is the test to verify the materialist’ assumption that only unguided processes are at work in the cosmos?

    Given that this is the core of the arbitrary rule, will there be an equivocation?

  70. 70

    …and…if there is an equivocation (and there will be because there must be) then “rejecting the standard” as a non-falsifiable assumption within an empirical framework of investigation is the only proper thing to do.

    ID does not impose one non-falsifiable standard in place of the current one, it simply rejects ther current one because it is 1) arbitrary, 2) political, 3) historically invalid, and 4) does not comport to the evidence.

    Instead, ID seeks to inject the professional discipline to say what can actually be said of the evidence – the material evidence of design – and reject the politically imposed (and non-falsifiable) assumption that there is no evidence of design in the cosmos.

  71. kairosfocus: Your well-thought out contributions on this site are both illuminating and indispensable.

  72. Upright Biped: Congratulations on your well-worded summary @70.

  73. KF:

    in light of inference to the best current explanation on empirically credible causal factors and dynamics.

    That rings like “If it looks designed, it is designed” to me. But how do we establish “empirically credible causal factors”?

    Instead, ID seeks to inject the professional discipline to say what can actually be said of the evidence – the material evidence of design – and reject the politically imposed (and non-falsifiable) assumption that there is no evidence of design in the cosmos.

  74. Sorry, premature.

    KF:

    Instead, ID seeks to inject the professional discipline to say what can actually be said of the evidence – the material evidence of design – and reject the politically imposed (and non-falsifiable) assumption that there is no evidence of design in the cosmos.

    “Material evidence of design”? Does that translate to “If I think it looks designed, it is designed – and that is evidence“?
    I also wonder, is the assumption that there is design in the universe falsifiable?

  75. Cabal (#74),

    You are attacking a straw man. You have been around this site long enough so that you should know better. But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are really ignorant of what you are doing.

    You imply that the ID case is ‘If I think it looks designed, it is designed – and that is evidence”. Usually we get the opposite accusation; that ID is simply based on the absence of any known evolutionary pathway (or naturalistic pathway if you prefer, that is if you are willing to define nature as excluding intelligence). But in fact, ID is based on both those ideas; that some phenomena look remarkably like designed objects (and after Venter, life in particular looks this way), but that after considerable searching there is no known pathway to life in particular that does not involve intelligence. Therefore one may draw a warranted, if tentative, conclusion that life required intelligence.

    Now you may protest that this is not proof, and in the absolute sense I would agree. But we reach warranted tentative conclusions, that we are willing to act upon and base further theories on, all the time without absolute proof. You probably (at least I hope you do) presume that I am a real person, and that this communication is not coming from static or white noise in some telephone line, even thought you cannot prove it. And you might even consider answering this comment based on that tentative conclusion based on fallible but presently persuasive evidence. You certainly have done that in the past for a presumed entity calling him/her/itself kairosfocus (It’s himself, but never mind how I reasonably concluded that).

    So do you really challenge the reasonableness of that tentative conclusion?

    You ask, is the assumption that there is design in the universe falsifiable? That is not the right question. The question on which ID stands or falls is, is there reasonably detectable design in the universe? If we draw the tentative conclusion that life is designed, then the answer is yes.

    Will that new, revised question meet Zolar Czaki’s criterion in #63?

    Can an intelligent agent be an entity?

    Sure, so long as the agent is postulated/modeled/described (etc.) in such a way that necessary empirical consequences flow therefrom, rendering the theory testable.

  76. Paul Giem,
    I’d need a little more time to dig into your argument but right now I can only say it was the term ‘material evidence of design’ that caught my attention.

    My reasoning us that we have no material evidence for design; only an inference that I translate to “if it looks designed, it is designed”. That may be too terse; “Some things are too complex to be the result of natural causes; they must be designed.” is closer.

    I am afraid my problem is that I can’t get beyond that fundamental tenet of ID; I’d like to see more meat on the bones. Isn’t that the #1 complaint from scientists too?

  77. Cabal:

    Strawman, on a red herring.

    You live in a world where you are surrounded by designs.

    There are patterns that are reliable well tested signs of design. Many of them. Signs that are routinely recognised on a day by day basis.

    Inferential knowledge on good warrant is jut that: warranted, credibly true belief i.e knowledge. (And strictly, we infer the external world from the information of our senses, but only a fool would use that to dismiss its reality or the confidence with which we know that inferred external world outside our heads.)

    What you really mean is that, not having a good case to show how chance + necessity can routinely spontaneously produce functionally specific complex information, you want to sow doubt that we can reliably infer to design on empirically tested signs.

    Reduction — sadly — to selective hyperskepticism, in short.

    GEM of TKI

  78. PS: Onlookers, notice how Cabal inserts the objection that inference to design in the universe is an assumption. Of course he probably lives in a house, drives a car, on roads in a country with cities etc. All o these brim over with that functionally specific complex “wired” organisation of elements and components that is the main sign of design. Cabal et al have never shown that such signs are the routine spontaneous product of chance + necessity in our observation; he knows they are routinely produced by intelligent agents. But, he wants to seize the default in the teeth of the evidence so he casts a loaded word: assumption. Sad.

  79. Cabal (#76),

    Take your time. I’d appreciate your digging into the argument.

    It will help if you understand it. Your first hurried pass was somewhat inaccurate:

    My reasoning us that we have no material evidence for design; only an inference that I translate to “if it looks designed, it is designed”. That may be too terse; “Some things are too complex to be the result of natural causes; they must be designed.” is closer.

    You have a hodgepodge here, badly describing both premises for design, and then confusing them. So let me restate them.
    A) Some things, now including the DNA code, as far as we know, required for life (in the sense that if you remove the code, the life ceases to exist), strongly resemble objects which we reasonably know are produced by intelligent agents (never mind how intelligence operates, or whether it requires more than material entities, it exists; the denial of this fact has certain negative self-referential consequences). This point is quite apart from point B, and would be true even if B were false. It is reasonable to postulate that intelligent agents can be a cause of many objects, including the DNA code that is currently necessary for life.

    B) There is currently no known pathway from non-life to multiple objects, specifically including the DNA code currently necessary for life, that does not include intelligence as an essential ingredient.

    C) Therefore, it is reasonable to tentatively reach the warranted conclusion that some structures are the product of intelligent design, specifically including the DNA code that is necessary for life as we know it.

    The logic seems sound, and the premises seem sound, at least to me. Feel free to challenge them. But do tackle them in their strongest form. Otherwise, you are creating and knocking down a straw man, and I hope better of you.

    If you understand this logic, maybe you can “get beyond that fundamental tenet of ID” and find “more meat on the bones.”

  80. 80
    Sooner Emeritus

    Paul Giem,

    There is no empirical evidence of incorporeal intelligence. The experience of scientists is that Occam’s Razor — “entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily” — gives a good, clean shave.

    You can conceivably offer testable hypotheses that embodied entities who preceded us made life on Earth. You do not have license to multiply entities unnecessarily when trying to account for past events.

    Detaching our abstraction of “intelligence” from the embodied makers we observe publicly and our abstraction of “design” from the made objects we observe publicly, and then granting the abstractions physical existence as unobservable entities, is just a way of smuggling spirits into discourse.

    And if intelligence should be “really real,” so what? That gives you no warrant to say that intelligence can exist apart from a body. Any scientific inference that life is designed is an inference that something with a material manifestation made it.

  81. Sooner Emeritus (#60),

    Thank you for clarifying the discussion. You have not challenged the logic in #59, which is based on repeatable observations. You apparently concede (like Dawkins in a frank moment) that embodied entities are a reasonable hypothesis, at least in principle. And I agree that ID implies the power to make as well as to design. Your real objection is that you do not believe that intelligence can exist apart from a body. If there is someone with vastly superior intelligence to us, he/she/it must have a material manifestation. “God is a spirit” is not an option. That would be smuggling spirits into discourse. Your objection is not so much to design as such. It is rather that you are afraid of where this might go.

    ID is about scientific evidence and its explanation. It does not identify the designer or the method of design, except as that can be determined empirically. Your objections are metaphysical if not religious. This is science versus religion, or at least science versus philosophy. That’s fine, as long as we’re clear about it.

    But with that attitude, your first statement (“There is no empirical evidence of incorporeal intelligence.”) is not surprising, and not particularly helpful. If you start by ruling out incorporeal intelligence, how could you ever recognize any evidence for it?

  82. Paul Giem @81: Very nice!

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