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METHODOLOGICAL NATURALISM, REVISIONIST HISTORY, AND MORPHING DEFINITIONS

Whenever I tune in to any discussion on the subject of “methodological naturalism,” I often marvel at the extent to which Darwinists will rewrite history and manipulate the language in their futile attempt to defend this so-called  “requirement” for science. In order to set the stage, we must first try to understand what methodological naturalism could possibly mean.

First, we have what one might call the “soft” definition, characterized as a preference for identifying for natural causes, a position which makes no final judgment about a universal  line of demarcation between science and non-science. Second, we have the “hard” definition as used by all the institutional Darwinists. In the second context, methodological naturalism is an institutional “rule” by which one group of researchers imposes on another group of researchers  an arbitrary, intrusive, and non-negotiable standard which states that scientists must study nature as if nature is all there is.

Ah, but that is where things start getting interesting. “How can you say that we are imposing arbitrary rules, Darwinists protest, when we are simply explaining the way that science has always been done?” Notice the deft change of cadence by which they shift from the concept of an unbending rule, which is the matter under discussion, to the notion of an often used practice, smuggling in the soft definition in the middle of a debate about the hard definition.  With respect to the latter, keep  in mind that no universally binding rule for scientific methods existed prior to the 1980’s, so there really isn’t much to argue about on that front. Rather than address the argument or  concede the fact, however, Darwinists simply evade the point, reframe the issue, and carry on a sleek as ever, hoping that no one will notice that the terms of the debate have been rewritten on the fly.

For that matter, not even the soft definition always applied to the earlier scientists, who simply used whatever methods that seemed right for the multi-varied research projects they were investigating. Some studied the law-like regularities of the universe, and it was in that context that they formulated their hypotheses. Others, more interested in outright design arguments, established their hypotheses on exactly that basis. Kepler’s laws of motion, for example, stemmed from his perception of design in the mathematical precision of planetary motion. Newton, in his classic work, Optics argued for the intelligent design of the eye and, at other places, presented something like the modern “anthropic principle” in his discussion on the positioning of the planets. No one, not even those who “preferred” to study solely natural causes,  would have dared to suggest that no other kind  of research question should ever be asked or that no other hypothesis should ever be considered.

What they were all trying to avoid was the commonplace and irrational  element of superstition and the notion that God acts capriciously, recklessly,  or vindictively,  without purpose or  thought. What they most decidedly were not doing was arguing that design cannot be a cause. On the contrary, they wanted to know more about the design that was already manifest—or to put it in the most shocking and offensive language possible—they wanted to know more about how God made the world so they could give him praise and glory, as is evident from the title page of many of their works.

If the universe wasn’t designed to be comprehensible and rational, they reasoned, there is no reason to believe that it is comprehensible and rational. Thus, there would be no reason to try to comprehend it or make rational statements about it. What would be the point? One cannot comprehend the incomprehensible or unravel the reasonableness of that which is not reasonable—nor can anything other than a reasonable being do the unraveling. They believed that the Creator set it up, as it were, so that there was a correspondence between that which was to be unraveled [the object of investigation] and the capacity of the one doing the unraveling [the investigator]. It would have gone without saying that the investigator and the investigation cannot be one and the same thing, meaning that both realms of existence are a given.  In order for [A] to correspond with [B], both [A] and [B] must exist. Thus, these scientists were 180 degrees removed from the idea that nature, one of those two realms, must be studied, as MN dictates,  as if it is the only realm. That would be tantamount to saying that nature must be investigated as if there is there is no such thing as an investigator–as of nature could investigate itself.

Returning to the present, methodological naturalists do not even have a coherent formulation with which to oppress their adversaries. Notice, for example, how selective they are about enforcing their petty rule, applying it only to ID scientists, and exempting all other researchers who violate the principle, such as searchers for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence and Big Bang Theorists.  Of course, what they are refusing to enforce in these cases are the hard definition, since ID qualifies under the soft definition.

Once this is pointed out, they morph the argument again, holding that MN, that is, the hard rule, is the preferred method for science because “it works.” But what exactly does “it” mean. Clearly, what works is not the rule because the rule, which presumes to dictate and make explicit what is “required” for science, is only about twenty-five years old. On the contrary, all real progress comes from the common sense approach of asking good questions and searching for relevant answers, using whatever methods that will provide the needed evidence and following that evidence wherever it leads.   For most, that means looking at law-like regularities, but for others it means probing the mysteries of information and the effects of intelligence. For some, it means conducting experiments and acquiring new data, but for others it means looking at what we already know in different ways. That is exactly what Einstein and Heisenberg did. We experience the benefits of science when we sit at the feet of nature and ask it to reveal its secrets, not when we presume to tell it which secrets we would prefer not to hear.

It gets worse. In fact, methodological naturalists do not even know what they mean by the two words they use to frame their rule. On the First Things blog, I recently asked several MN advocates to define the words, “natural” and “supernatural. After a series of responses, one of the more thoughtful commentators ended the discussion by writing, It seems that defining what is “natural” is one of the tasks before us.”

Indeed.  Now think about this for a moment. Entrenched bureaucrats, who do not know what they mean by the word “natural,” are telling ID scientists, who do know what they mean by the word, “natural,” that science can study only natural causes.  In effect, here is what they are saying: “You [ID scientists] are restricted to a study of the natural world, and, although I have no idea what I mean by that term, which means that I have no idea of what I mean by my rule, you are, nevertheless, condemned if you violate it.

There is more. This natural/supernatural dichotomy on which MN stands plunges Darwinists [and TEs, for that matter] in intellectual quicksand on yet another front, leaving them only one of two options:

[A] Methodological naturalism conflates all immaterial, non-natural causes, such as Divine intelligence, superhuman intelligence, and human intelligence, placing them all in the same category. Using that formulation, the paragraph I just wrote, assuming that I have a mind, was a supernatural event, which means I am a supernatural cause, —yet if I have no mind, that would mean that my brain was responsible, which would suddenly reduce me to a natural cause. This is where the Darwinists take the easy way out by simply declaring that there are no immaterial minds, while the TE’s split their brains in two pieces trying to make sense of it.

Or,

[B] Methodological naturalism defines all things that are not “supernatural” as natural, placing human cognition, human volition, earthquakes, and tornadoes in the same category. Indeed, everything is then classified as a natural cause—everything. So, whatever caused Hurricane Katrina is the same kind of cause that generated my written paragraph because, as the Darwinists instruct us, both things occurred “in nature,” whatever that means. So, if all causes are natural, then there is no way of distinguishing the cause of all the artifacts found in ancient Pompei from the cause of the volcano that buried them.  Indeed, by that standard, the archeologist cannot even declare that the built civilization of Pompei ever existed as a civilization, since the apparent evidence of human activity may well not have been caused by human activity at all.  The two kinds of causes are either substantially different or they are not. If they are different, as ID rightly insists, then those differences can be identified. If they are not different, as the Darwinists claim, then those differences cannot be identified, which means that whatever causes a volcano to erupt is comparable to whatever caused Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to erupt.

By contrast, ID scientists point to three causes, all of which can be observed and identified: Law, chance, and agency. Once we acknowledge that point, everything falls into place. It would be so much easier to avoid all this nonsense, drop the intrusive rule of methodological naturalism, and simply concede the obvious point: Since only the scientist knows which research question he is trying to answer, only the scientist can decide which method or methods are appropriate for obtaining that answer.

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514 Responses to METHODOLOGICAL NATURALISM, REVISIONIST HISTORY, AND MORPHING DEFINITIONS

  1. Mr StephenB,

    I know this is a much beloved topic of yours, and it is nice to see that you’ve been given thread to put together many of the points you have made previously in separate places.

    I have to say that I don’t follow the intellectual quicksand part that you finish with. It is not at all clear to me how a process of inquiry or a dichotomous definition necessarily leads to either of the two positions you outline. Even if you go beyond methodological naturalism to philosopical naturalism (which you appear to have done) the position you construct is as silly as saying that we can’t distinguish blue light from red light because its all just photons.

    But I am also interested in your coda that everything is so clear to the ID scientist because of law, chance and agency. Can you be clearer how these three relate to a process of inquiry? Having recently read Mr Hayden’s thoughts on Law, how do you define it? Are Law, Chance, and Agency like Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, in the sense they are elemental but can be compounded, or do inquiries into cause always find that the answer is purely one or another of these? If compounded, how does a scientist resolve the explanation into the parts. Perhaps you could use your example of Pompeii and Vesuvius to clarify how these three categories lead to better explanations than MN.

  2. “keep in mind that no universally binding rule for scientific methods existed prior to the 1980’s”

    Could you give a citation establishing that?

  3. StephenB,

    “…defend this so called “requirement” for science.”

    Since you’re emphasizing this as just a ‘so called’ “requirement” in which you imply is not for science, but for evolutionary theory, what other domains of science do not, or haven’t ever used, such a requirement of methodological naturalism as part of demarcation?

    “…Extra Terrestrial Intelligence and Big Bang Theorists”

    Despite saying that such realms of science use the softer version on MN, where has these domains in science asserted a supernatural agency is involved w/ either? Both refer to nature to explain itself.

    Where in history of science has ever it occurred that not using nature to explain nature (methodological naturalism) resulted in a measureable, objective verifiable increase in knowledge? What are its (supernatural explinations) fruits?

    “…declaring that there are no immaterial minds”

    How would an immaterial mind work? Any measurable testable ways of narrowing down what this entails?

    “whatever caused Hurricane Katrina is the same kind of cause that generated my written paragraph”

    In the sense that both events have natural cause & effect relationships, yeah, they’re similar in that regard. But these events have originated from different natural causes.

  4. Kepler’s laws of motion, for example, stemmed from his perception of design in the mathematical precision of planetary motion. Newton, in his classic work, Optics argued for the intelligent design of the eye and, at other places, presented something like the modern “anthropic principle” in his discussion on the positioning of the planets.

    Ahhh, scientific originalism! If it’s good enough for Kepler and Newton, by Jove, it’s good enough for us! (Fun fact: Newton was also an alchemist and numerologist, which is why we talk about “seven” colors in the rainbow.)

    Notice, for example, how selective they are about enforcing their petty rule, applying it only to ID scientists, and exempting all other researchers who violate the principle, such as searchers for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence and Big Bang Theorists.

    SETI has not claimed knowledge of ETs, just the possibility — a possibility which could indeed be verified naturalistically. As for the Big Bang… um, huh. I guess it’s supposed to be supernatural because it connotes the First Cause argument? Or because quantum mechanics is, like, really bizarre, and therefore supernatural?

    Look, lots of supernatural effects could be empirically demonstrated, they just plain haven’t been. For example, the concept of homeopathy flies in the face of medicine and chemistry, but that alone isn’t sufficient grounds to reject it — the sufficient grounds are that it doesn’t work. (In a logically possible universe, homeopathy does work, and in a logically possible universe, life looks exactly as though it were designed, down to the last gene, no accidents whatsoever.)

    Why, oh why, hasn’t Dembski’s explanatory filter — the crux, if I’m not mistaken, of “law-chance-design” — been tested in double-blind trials, or used by any other mathematician? Is it testable or usable, or isn’t it? If not, the best one can respond to the claim of design is “Oh, that’s nice.” There’s simply nothing left to work with.

  5. StephenB,

    Congrats on the post.

    The willfull obfuscation and denial of history has already begun.

  6. Is it possible to use a prophecy to test for a supernatural agent?

  7. —-Lenoxus: “Ahhh, scientific originalism! If it’s good enough for Kepler and Newton, by Jove, it’s good enough for us! (Fun fact: Newton was also an alchemist and numerologist, which is why we talk about “seven” colors in the rainbow.)

    The issue is whether or not they practiced methodological naturalism, which they didn’t.

    —-“SETI has not claimed knowledge of ETs, just the possibility — a possibility which could indeed be verified naturalistically. As for the Big Bang… um, huh. I guess it’s supposed to be supernatural because it connotes the First Cause argument? Or because quantum mechanics is, like, really bizarre, and therefore supernatural?”

    What would an unintelligent, naturalistic, yet responsive ET look like? Yes, BB it is supposed to be supernatural because it connotes a First Cause argument. That what all the scandal and fuss was about when it first became known.

    —–“Why, oh why, hasn’t Dembski’s explanatory filter — the crux, if I’m not mistaken, of “law-chance-design” — been tested in double-blind trials, or used by any other mathematician? Is it testable or usable, or isn’t it?

    What does the question of the EF’s testability have to do with the fact that ID scientists have defined their definition of natural causes and MN advocates have not?

  8. 8

    StephenB,

    Phenomenal post. Nothing frustrates me more (concerning methodological naturalism) than revisionist history portraying scientists (such as Newton, Faraday – the list is extensive) as practitioners of MN. As your essay demonstrates, this is clearly not the case.

    On a side note, I’m glad to see you have author/posting status.

  9. —–Agentorange:“Where in history of science has ever it occurred that not using nature to explain nature (methodological naturalism) resulted in a measureable, objective verifiable increase in knowledge? What are its (supernatural explinations) fruits?”

    Medical scientists sometimes provide evidence for and against miraculous healings. That violates the principles of methodological naturalism.

    —–“How would an immaterial mind work? Any measurable testable ways of narrowing down what this entails?”

    What does the question about how minds work have to do with MN’s assumption that they may not, under any circumstances, be considered as a possible cause?

    —–In the sense that both events have natural cause & effect relationships, yeah, they’re similar in that regard. But these events have originated from different natural causes.

    How do you know that those events [the building of Pompei and its destruction by a volcano] originated from different natural causes? How do you know that humans were involved at all? That is precisely the point. If you rule out agency, you can’t distinguish one natural cause from the other. Methodological naturalism allows for the possibility that humans had nothing to do with it— that wind, rain, snow, erosion, and perhaps an earlier valcano eruption may have built Pompei, and that a later valcano buried it. Once scientists acknowledge the obvious fact that human agency is the only reasonable explanation for the existence of Pompei, they have transcended methodological naturalism and returned to the community of reasonable people.

  10. #6 StephenB:

    The issue is whether or not they practiced methodological naturalism, which they didn’t.

    Well… it is certainly true, in a quibbling sort of way, that Newton “didn’t” practice MN — but also that he did. Speicifically, when he was doing numerology, or theology, he was not practicing MN, but when formulating his physics, he was. God is nowhere to be found in the Principia Mathemathica. There is simply nothing non-naturalistic about planetary or other motion, and naturalism is quite sufficient to discover and describe them.

    In the years after developing gravitation, Newton held fast to a notion that the ultimate source of the mysterious force, taking part in every interaction, and making sure the stars didn’t all collapse into one another, was Jesus. Years after famously saying “hypothesis non fingo”, he actually worked out detailed, scientific-sounding systems involving the Father and Son (he happened to dispute the Trinity, interestingly. His theological views are very hard to pin down, and in some lights, he looks more like an agnostic than a believer.)

    Despite such advances as relativity, the force remains (in many ways) as mysterious today as then. So why that isn’t Jesus being held as a serious hypothesis in modern physics, which is instead looking for Higgs bosons and gravitons? Is it merely because the religious argument now sounds “silly” — or is it due to unrelenting curiosity and a refusal to stop at supernatural “explanations”?

    What would an unintelligent, naturalistic, yet responsive ET look like?

    Well, SETI isn’t really about how aliens “look”, although some biologists have dealt with that question. (One of them was justly ripped on this very blog for his suggesting that aliens would “walk on two legs” and “look like us”, which would of course contradict evolution). Wait a minute… “unintelligent”? What do you think the I in SETI stands — oh, I get it. This old straw…

    Hey, like it or not, naturalists really, really do believe that “intelligence” exists, even though they disbelieve in what you think must be its ultimate source. Before Pasteur, people didn’t “believe” in germs — did they therefore not believe disease existed? Was it irrational for them to even talk about disease?

    Yes, BB it is supposed to be supernatural because it connotes a First Cause argument. That what all the scandal and fuss was about when it first became known.

    Suddenly, I wonder what Aquinas would have thought of the Big Bang, seeing how the evidence for it automatically requires a very old universe… but that’s obviously neither here nor there.

  11. —-rorydaulton: “Could you give a citation establishing that? [No universally binding rule for scientific methods existed prior to the 1980's].”

    That would be like asking me to give a citation establishing the fact that there was no Miranda rule in the 1600′s or that there was no law against drunken driving in the 1200′s. The burden of proof falls on those who say the reverse.

  12. StephenB:

    —-rorydaulton: “Could you give a citation establishing that? [No universally binding rule for scientific methods existed prior to the 1980's].”

    That would be like asking me to give a citation establishing the fact that there was no Miranda rule in the 1600’s or that there was no law against drunken driving in the 1200’s. The burden of proof falls on those who say the reverse.

    No it doesn’t. You have made the claim that something didn’t exist before the 1980′s and then apparently did exist after that period. rorydaulton is asking (reasonably) for evidence behind this assertion – do you have minutes from meetings, citations to papers, articles, book quotes, etc. to show that the entire range of scientific effort changed during that period? What drove this change? Who was involved? Something this large would be noticeable, and I don’t recall it, so I too am naturally curious about it.

  13. To StephenB: Its true that scientists may be motivated by the divine etc, and they often wax eloquent about greater things, but in the end, the explanation that is written in text books sheets the entire explanation home to purely natural explanations. I dont recall ever seeing an explanation in a text book that said ‘god did it’. We may not understand the cause but there are lots of things we dont understand. We dont understand what causes MS (I think?) but we observe that it exist and may understand it some day. In the merantime we dont attribute it to supernatural causes. Ditto the big bang etc. The evidence suggests a big bang took place, and we are trying to understand it.

    The reason the supernatural is not invoked is because it is unproductive. Declaring ‘god did it’ is not an explanation, it is a dead end.

    If you really think the supernatural could be helpful, could you cite an example of where it has been employed and has given us some useful knowedge of how the world works. Just one example.

  14. StephenB at 8:

    Agentorange:“Where in history of science has ever it occurred that not using nature to explain nature (methodological naturalism) resulted in a measureable, objective verifiable increase in knowledge? What are its (supernatural explinations) fruits?”

    Medical scientists sometimes provide evidence for and against miraculous healings. That violates the principles of methodological naturalism.

    That doesn’t answer the question. Granting for a moment that medical science would state that a specific case of healing was miraculous, where is the increase in knowledge? What medical therapies were derived from the observation, and replication, of miraculous healing?

  15. —-mikev6: “No it doesn’t. You have made the claim that something didn’t exist before the 1980’s and then apparently did exist after that period.”

    That’s right. Eugenie Scott, the state of Kansas, the NAS and other scientific associations began defining the “non-negotiable” standards of science at that time.

    Here is a typical example:

    “Methodological naturalism is the label for the required assumption of philosophical naturalism when working with the scientific method. Methodological naturalists limit their scientific research to the study of natural causes, because any attempts to define causal relationships with the supernatural are never fruitful, and result in the creation of scientific “dead ends” and God of the gaps-type hypotheses. To avoid these traps scientists assume that all causes are empirical and naturalistic — which means they can be measured, quantified and studied methodically.”

    Nothing like that ever existed prior to the late 20th Century. If you think it did, then find it and cite it.

    Also, you are missing the point in the post. The whole idea was to pretend that there was nothing new about it—that it was historical. Why would the Darwinists advertise the fact that they were establishing an arbitrary rule for the first time? They just did it and, when called on it, rewrote history to make it appear legitimate.

  16. —-”Granting for a moment that medical science would state that a specific case of healing was miraculous, where is the increase in knowledge? What medical therapies were derived from the observation, and replication, of miraculous healing?”

    That misses the point. Any scientist who dares to approach the subject of a miraculous healing in the name of science is violating the rule of methodological naturalism.

    Also, what do medical therapies, which depend on law-like regularities, have to do with miraculous healings, which defy law-like regularities. If a miracle could be replicated, it wouldn’t be a miracle.

  17. StephenB at 14:

    That misses the point. Any scientist who dares to approach the subject of a miraculous healing in the name of science is violating the rule of methodological naturalism.

    Well, no, not exactly. If a scientist attempts to determine a naturalistic explanation for what would otherwise appear to be a miracle, he is most definitely working within methodological naturalism. MN doesn’t preclude investigating miraculous events. Nor does it prelude stating that no natural explanation can be found for what might be a miracle. It does, however, preclude miracles as a scientific explanation.

    Also, what do medical therapies, which depend on law-like regularities, have to do with miraculous healings, which defy law-like regularities. If a miracle could be replicated, it wouldn’t be a miracle.

    Exactly true and, therefore, puts paid to the idea you are advancing that methodological naturalism somehow is restricting the growth of scientific knowledge. And so, we return to agentorange’s original question, which you still have not answered, regarding “[w]here in history of science has ever it occurred that not using nature to explain nature (methodological naturalism) resulted in a measureable, objective verifiable increase in knowledge?

    Alternately, I suppose you could provide an example of fruitful scientific research from the 1970s (or earlier) that would not be allowable today due to the restriction that MN presumably placed in the 1980s.

  18. StephenB quoted Eugenie Scott,

    “To avoid these traps scientists assume that all causes are empirical and naturalistic — which means they can be measured, quantified and studied methodically.”

    And then remarked,

    Nothing like that ever existed prior to the late 20th Century. If you think it did, then find it and cite it.

    According to Wikipedia,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N.....hilosophy)

    By the late Middle Ages the search for natural causes had come to typify the work of Christian natural philosophers. Although characteristically leaving the door open for the possibility of direct divine intervention, they frequently expressed contempt for soft-minded contemporaries who invoked miracles rather than searching for natural explanations. The University of Paris cleric Jean Buridan (a. 1295-ca. 1358), described as “perhaps the most brilliant arts master of the Middle Ages,” contrasted the philosopher’s search for “appropriate natural causes” with the common folk’s habit of attributing unusual astronomical phenomena to the supernatural. In the fourteenth century the natural philosopher Nicole Oresme (ca. 1320-82), who went on to become a Roman Catholic bishop, admonished that, in discussing various marvels of nature, “there is no reason to take recourse to the heavens, the last refuge of the weak, or demons, or to our glorious God as if He would produce these effects directly, more so than those effects whose causes we believe are well known to us.”

    That’s just a sample from the Middle Ages.

  19. Perhaps I may also be forgiven if I immodestly refer any interested readers to the pioneering work of my illustrious relative Adelard of Bath, (c.1080-c.1160)

  20. Agentorange asserts in 2 that:

    Despite saying that such realms of science use the softer version on MN, where has these domains in science asserted a supernatural agency is involved w/ either? Both refer to nature to explain itself.

    Where in history of science has ever it occurred that not using nature to explain nature (methodological naturalism) resulted in a measureable, objective verifiable increase in knowledge? What are its (supernatural explinations) fruits?

    As I explained in earlier thread science works by method of induction and by inferring best explanations. So Agentoranges assertions: “Both refer to nature to explain itself, …using nature to explain nature” are invalid because stating set A = A is not an explanation of A. Theories are formulated by finding patterns in the induced data set and also by finding whether hypotheses pattern corresponds to induced data. The pattern that corresponds most closely = best explanation.

    Also Agentoranges question: “What are its (supernatural explinations) fruits?” cannot be answered because as StephenB said difference between natural and supernatural is not defined. Is string theory, ghosts, miracles, BigBang, multiverse etc. natural or supernatural and whats the difference?

  21. —-Adel: “That’s just a sample from the Middle Ages.”

    Adel, Pandas Thumb has been clinging to that quote for years, and it comes up on this site regularly as a last ditch effort to rescue a failed proposition. It doesn’t even come close to speaking to the issue, much less does it refute my point. Indeed, right there in the quote are the words, …”Although characteristically leaving the door open for the possibility of direct divine intervention,”…..

    The door was either open to non-natural causes [design thinking] or it was not [methodological naturalism]. As that quote makes clear, the door was open.

    In fact, it simply confirms what has already been said. The earlier scientists were attempting to triumph over superstition and so many came to “prefer” natural causes to indicate that God does not act frivolously, but even those who took that approach did not assert that science must always proceed in that way, nor did they, as you suggest, argue against design.

    Translation: The superstition of an irrational, vindictive, angry God was out; the rationality of a purposeful, rational, designer God was in. It was not about natural causes trumping design; it was about rationality trumping superstition.

    Even if the quote meant what you think it means, which it doesn’t, it would hardly qualify as counterweight to the hundreds of unrepentant design thinkers of that era and later. They all have biographies and the record is clear. If methodological naturalism had been in force, they would have all been disfranchised and discredited. They were not intruded upon in that fashion because there was no bureaucratic rule to do the intruding.

  22. StephenB,

    “Medical scientists sometimes provide evidence for and against miraculous healings. That violates the principles of methodological naturalism.”

    No, I don’t think so; such inconclusive studies aren’t evidence for the supernatural at all. If the effects are only *sometimes* then it would follow that it’s more likely that there is a natural explanations to them for which we can’t yet in all cases fully explain. Many of those in the past there were attributed to divine intervention have been naturally explained. Cancer going into remission happens; it’s not miraculous, nor evidence for the supernatural.

    But since you advocate they do happen & are measurable, why don’t we see such miraculous healings in which amputees get their arms back? Why don’t we see burn victims who’ve suffered whole body burns or significant comparisons have their whole body skin refreshed to new?

    Here comes the apologetics answers: ‘god doesn’t work that way (e.g. he can’t heal such things)!’ ‘They didn’t pray enough!’ ’they’re not of the correct faith!’

    Though I can see why one in your persuasion who on the one hand is asking for methodical naturalism to lower its bar of scrutiny just for your pet idea, would find such inconclusive studies as marked evidence for the supernatural.

    As you indicated yourself the results are a ‘mixed bag’ & there appears to be no definitive way of determining if the supernatural was actually involved or not in a given instance, it mostly comes down to a matter of faith in presupposing that is the case.

    “What does the question about how minds work have to do with MN’s assumption that they may not, under any circumstances, be considered as a possible cause?”

    How would an immaterial mind work? Any measurable testable ways of narrowing down what this entails? My question is trying to see what supportive evidence or logic *you* have on your side to claim that a mind/brain is something else besides being foundational based on material & thus can exist despite its absence.

    “How do you know that those events [the building of Pompei and its destruction by a volcano] originated from different natural causes”

    B/c we understand the natural causes behind each to the degree to comprehend that they’re not mutually arrived from the same causality.

    I don’t really have to explain that volcanoes, so far we know through all of our collective knowledge, do not form villages w/ people petrified under ash, do I? Yes they arrived through different causality, but in both cases the cause was a natural one.

  23. Hi Steve:

    Great job!

    GEM of TKI

    PS: My own take on all this has long been that the best answer if to create a framework in which we can credibly address all causes known to leave reliable empirical markers:

    1 Lawlike regularity is a signature of mechanical forces;

    2 high contingency under more or less similar initial conditions that is credibly undirected [i.e. follows probabilistic, statistical patterns] is by default seen as chance

    3 high contingency under more or less similar initial conditions that is credibly functionally specific and complex beyond the available search resources of the system in view, points to intelligence. [And there is not one of the MN advocates out there who would be willing to bet that this and all other posts above are the result of random noise on the net!]

    And look, we have seen the trichotomy of factors and aspects of phenomena: mechanical necessity, chance, intelligence or art.

    And if you think that especially applied scientists from forensic fire investigators to drug action investigators do not routinely study art vs nature, you are blowing blue smoke and mirrors.

    What is really going on here is that when the assertions and assumptions of the materialistic magisterium are under challenge, an arbitrary authoritarian rule is being trotted out to impose censorship under the false colours of science.

    Fraud in the name of science/ knowledge, in one word.

    Sorry if that hurts, but that is the plain and now all too well warranted truth.

    We must not allow ourselves or our kids to be taken in by it.

  24. —-efren ts: “If a scientist attempts to determine a naturalistic explanation for what would otherwise appear to be a miracle, he is most definitely working within methodological naturalism.”

    Yes, I agree with that. Insofar as he assumes that the explanation must be natural, or insofar as he looks exclusively for natural causes, he is working within the MN paradigm. He has already drawn his conclusion prior to conducting the investigation, which sums up the MN approach.

    —”MN doesn’t preclude investigating miraculous events.”

    That’s right. As long as the researcher refuses to consider the evidence for a non-natural event, he can investigate a non-natural event.

    —-quoting agentorange: “[w]here in history of science has ever it occurred that not using nature to explain nature (methodological naturalism) resulted in a measureable, objective verifiable increase in knowledge?”

    I have already provided two examples with Newton and Boyle. Both increased scientific knowledge by working within a design paradigm. More to the point, it was the design paradigm that informed and gave rise to the knowledge. I could provide many other examples, but the main point is that, in those days, there was no rule to forbid design thinking. Thus, MN was not in force.

  25. PPS: BTW, it looks like another welter of frauds in the name of science are coming unglued as awe watch. So, maybe 2010 is the year for frauds to crash and burn!

  26. PPPS: And since lawyers are experts on exposing fraud, that may help explain why BarryA brings very relevant expertise to the table!

  27. StephenB @ 14,

    “If a miracle could be replicated, it wouldn’t be a miracle.”

    I think you mean if miracles actually occurred via prayers or not & could be distinguished as a part of reality in the first place, that all the worlds hospitals would shut their doors. There would simply be little to no need for much of today’s medical practices if prayers & miracles translated into effective results.

  28. Innerbling @ 18,

    “The pattern that corresponds most closely = best explanation”

    Ok then Mr. Bling, I’ll rephrase my question for you. Where in history of science has ever it occurred that the use of the supernatural to explain the natural has resulted in a measureable, objective verifiable increase in knowledge? For bonus points, in the historical context what are its (supernatural explanations) fruits?

    “cannot be answered… difference between natural and supernatural is not defined”

    I agree my question can’t be answered by your stance, though not b/c you say it’s either term has even been defined, or have been attempted to be thoroughly defined. Pleading that such terms or one of the terms are forever beyond comprehension, undefined, or exist in such ambiguity are stated only as means to save face that others haven’t tried to define them.

    StephenB as his source of this statement uses but a single blog, but alas such a way is not a fully representation of the terms. Instead opting for a dictionary type definition is more applicable.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernaturalism

    Theologians & philosophers at least since the pre-Socratic era & for millennia following have posited all the possible qualities which the supernatural (gods) consist of. If either of the terms is ill defined, it’s the one which is said to exist outside of this natural one for which there is zero testable evidence of in the first place.

    Thus, it’s not that nature isn’t or can’t be adequately defined, it is, it’s that none have given to the extent which, nor is it likely to be given, a satisfactory definition of what the supernatural consists of in order for it to be adequately measured, quantified & tested to begin with.
    Further, the issue isn’t that the terms haven’t been or can’t be qualified, it’s more in that as further investigation of the nature has occurred the domain of the supernatural has been in steady retreat of explaining reality.

  29. StephenB @ 22,

    “I have already provided two examples with Newton and Boyle. Both increased scientific knowledge by working within a design paradigm.”

    Respectfully, no you didn’t StephenB. No one here has. All you did is equivocation of supernatural with design thinking by humans. Humans using a method of analysis & reflection of ‘how would I design X ?’ isn’t evidence at all for the supernatural let alone evidence that the supernatural is able to explain nature more accurately that nature itself can.

    My question referred to the efficacy of using the untestable supernatural as an explanation for the natural world, in your case, you stated miracles. When has appealing to the supernatural to explain the natural ever occurred in history which has resulted in new knowledge about reality?

    I never said past scientists didn’t have an affinity of design for describing the world, some as Newton clearly did, but as Lenoxus mentioned, he doesn’t appeal to the supernatural to explain the natural in science. It’s an unnecessary addition that itself requires an explanation as to how, why, when, it did was it’s purported to have done. They used Natural explanations to explain the natural, not supernatural.

    “As long as the researcher refuses to consider the evidence for a non-natural event, he can investigate a non-natural event”

    Good grief StephenB, you pretend as if theologians & scientists in the past hadn’t been investigating to find divine evidence involved? Kepler’s chief motivation was in finding such an implication. Just b/c the act of trying to find a supernatural source hasn’t translated to actual knowledge is no reason to deplore the alternative natural method which gets results.

  30. StephenB:

    I have already provided two examples with Newton and Boyle.

    You will need to be more specific, since this isn’t helping me. We have already agreed that a scientist can legitimately work within methodological naturalism to investigate what appears to be a non-natural event. We also agree that methodological naturalism does not allow the conclusion that a non-natural event or cause was observed. So, you will need to explain to me what non-natural event/cause that Newton and Boyle provided scientific proof of. I would certainly agree that their religious beliefs may have provided inspiration to their investigations, but I am pretty sure that the explanations that resulted were completely naturalistic. Which would keep them working within the outline of methodological naturalism, even though the term wasn’t coined at the time. So, please humor me and go into a little more detail.

    More to the point, it was the design paradigm that informed and gave rise to the knowledge.

    I suppose that might be true in a very narrow fashion. But, I think you are conflating two different things. What may have inspired the work is not the same as the product of that work. So, what may have informed their investigation is not the same thing as what their investigation concluded. Kepler didn’t find the need for angels to keep the planets in their orbit. So, while they may very well have been inspired by their religious beliefs to investigate how the world works, but their explanations did not necessarily rely on non-natural causes. The knowledge derived from Newton and Boyle’s work was purely naturalistic.

  31. To StephenB: You may delete my posts, but could you at least provide an example of where the supernatural has worked ?

    efren @29, expresses it best. Just one example, OK?

  32. StephenB, when Oresme said,

    there is no reason to take recourse to the heavens, the last refuge of the weak, or demons, or to our glorious God as if He would produce these effects directly, more so than those effects whose causes we believe are well known to us

    he stated a preference for natural explanations to supernatural ones, including his “glorious” God. That God was nothing like the irrational god that you have imagined and was not to be conflated with “demons”:

    The superstition of an irrational, vindictive, angry God was out; the rationality of a purposeful, rational, designer God was in. It was not about natural causes trumping design; it was about rationality trumping superstition.

    Rationality trumping superstition is precisely the point of methodological naturalism. When supernatural beings are introduced into the explanatory compass, malign beings, such as devils and demons, must also be entertained as part of the mix.

  33. —agentorange: “Good grief StephenB, you pretend as if theologians & scientists in the past hadn’t been investigating to find divine evidence involved?”

    I have said little else. Much of the early science was about precisely that—celebrating the designer’s handiwork. Methodological naturalism will no permit any such approach, insisting that the scientist must study nature as if nature is all there is.

  34. —-efren ts: “The knowledge derived from Newton and Boyle’s work was purely naturalistic.”

    The knowledge derived is not the issue. What is at issue are the methods allowed in order to arrive at that knowledge. It is not MN that is responsible for our current storehouse of scientific knowledge, but rather the freedom to follow evidence wherever it leads. MN compromises that freedom in the name of ideology.

  35. —agent orange: “Humans using a method of analysis & reflection of ‘how would I design X ?’ isn’t evidence at all for the supernatural let alone evidence that the supernatural is able to explain nature more accurately that nature itself can.”

    I think you are missing the defining mindset of that era. They weren’t really trying to prove the existence of a designing creator. Rather they allowed their apriori convictions about the existence of a designing creator to fuel their research, giving them the courage to carry on in the face of multiple failures and the reassurance that the creator had purposefully left clues that could be found. Further, they held that the mathematical precision inherent in the design indicated that nature could be reverse engineered, so to speak, generating useful knowledge. They were right. Methodological naturalism would have had none of it.

  36. —Adel: “he stated a preference for natural explanations to supernatural ones, including his “glorious” God. That God was nothing like the irrational god that you have imagined and was not to be conflated with “demons”:”

    He established a “preference” for natural causes. Everyone thinks science is “primarily” about natural causes, including me. The issue is whether or not science is “exclusively” about natural causes, as MN would insist.

    —-Rationality trumping superstition is precisely the point of methodological naturalism.”

    No. That was the philosophy of the earlier scientists. MN is about natural causes trumping design.

    —-”When supernatural beings are introduced into the explanatory compass, malign beings, such as devils and demons, must also be entertained as part of the mix.”

    Define natural. Define supernatural.

  37. StephenB @ 31,

    “the methods allowed in order to arrive at that knowledge.”

    Clearly by this statement & others, if not by affiliation alone, you think it’s not fair that science only allows for natural explanations, so please don’t hold back; please inform us what the track record is for using the supernatural to explain the natural in science & thus why it should based on this record should be included.

    If using the supernatural is equal, or as you likely would believe is superior at explaining the natural world, by all means explain some of its track record in this regard to better bolster your stance that the current position in science in which only natural explanations are allowed is unfair.

    “Define natural. Define supernatural.”

    Oh get off it already, I only listed both in easy terms for Mr. Bling earlier. The least either of you could have done is to use such terms & make an attempt to answer my question as to when the supernatural has been used to explain something in the natural world which resulted in actual new knowledge.

  38. StephenB @ 32,

    “they held that the mathematical precision inherent in the design indicated that nature could be reverse engineered, so to speak, generating useful knowledge.”.

    When doing so they did so in using natural terms to explain the observations in nature. Where do they invoke the supernatural (spirits, angels, demons, holy trinity, etc.) to explain observations in nature?

    Where is that, & when has it translated to knowledge about the nature?

  39. To StephenB: This really is becoming tedious. Could you just answer agentorange?

    Just give us an example. Just one example.

  40. StephenB:

    The knowledge derived is not the issue. What is at issue are the methods allowed in order to arrive at that knowledge.

    Whatever their motivation, Newton, Kepler, and Boyle all sought natural explanations for what was observed in nature. By their fruits, you shall know them. Thus, the knowledge derived is what matters. Kepler, to follow my previous comment, wasn’t looking for angels holding the planets in their orbits. Nor was Newton looking for God’s hand on the apple as it fell to the ground. They looked for, and found, natural explanations for what was observed. That is the definition of methodological naturalism.

    It is not MN that is responsible for our current storehouse of scientific knowledge, but rather the freedom to follow evidence wherever it leads.

    The current storehouse of scientific knowledge is completely and totally based on the discovery of natural explanations for what is observed in nature. It was added by many scientists who take their motivation from their faith. Both before and after the 1980s.

    Rather they allowed their apriori convictions about the existence of a designing creator to fuel their research, giving them the courage to carry on in the face of multiple failures and the reassurance that the creator had purposefully left clues that could be found.

    And how is that different than the motivation of innumerable theistic scientists today? There are plenty of professing scientists who have added much to the body of scientific knowledge. Francis Collins, for one. Francisco Ayala, for another. Ken Miller makes the case for something like the Anthropic Principle in his books.Their motivation is exactly the same as the eminent scientists you mention. Yet they have done most or all of their scientific work after the time in which you state methodological naturalism purged such theistic motivations from the scientific community. They are completely out about how their faith motivates them and don’t seem to have any issues with the Methodological Naturalism Gestapo.

  41. —-agent orange: “Clearly by this statement & others, if not by affiliation alone, you think it’s not fair that science only allows for natural explanations, so please don’t hold back; please inform us what the track record is for using the supernatural to explain the natural in science & thus why it should based on this record should be included.”

    I have already explained that it was design thinking that launched modern science in the first place, and I have already explained that methodological naturalism, if it had been around, would not even bothered to investigate nature since it would not have believed that nature was designed to be investigated. You just weren’t listening.

    —-”Oh get off it already, I only listed both in easy terms for Mr. Bling earlier.” [Define natural and supernatural].

    If you don’t know the meaning of the terms you are using, how do you expect me to know what you mean by them? One of the major points of my post was that Darwinists use the term “supernatural” to discredit the design inference, while not even knowing what they mean when they use the term. Since you seem so fond of the word, I would like to know how you are using it. If all causes are “natural,” then how do you distinguish the cause of all the artifacts found in ancient Pompei from the cause of the volcano that buried them. How do you even know that Pompei existed as a civilization. Maybe natural forces only made it appear that way. Maybe natural forces built all the archives.

    The causes the built and destroyed Pompei are either substantially different or they were not. If they are different, as ID rightly insists, then those differences can be identified. If they are not different, as the Darwinists claim and MN advocates claim, then those differences cannot be identified, which means that whatever causes a volcano to erupt is comparable to whatever caused Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to erupt.

    So, what do you mean by a supernatural cause and what do you mean by a natural cause. When I use the term, “natural cause,” I mean law and chance, plain and simple. When I use the term agent cause or non-natural cause, I mean intelligent innovation apart from law and chance.

    The question is, what do you mean by your terms? Was a natural cause responsible for the building of Pompei’s artifacts, or was it not? Was a natural cause also responsible for the valcano that buried those artifacts or was it not? Was a natural cause responsible for Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or was it not? Is there any substantial difference between any of those causes?

    I can answer all those questions very easily with my terms, but neither I nor anyone else can make sense of it with your terms.

  42. —-efren ts: “The current storehouse of scientific knowledge is completely and totally based on the discovery of natural explanations for what is observed in nature.”

    That is not true at all. We know about the information found in a DNA molecule, for example, and many scientists believe that a natural explanation will not suffice.

    Even if you were right, however, that would not justify the MN intrusion and the oppressive policy of forbidding the search for non-natural causes. There simply is no intellectual or moral justfication for that practice. None at all.

  43. —”They are completely out about how their faith motivates them and don’t seem to have any issues with the Methodological Naturalism Gestapo.” [Miller & Collins]

    They, too, are incapable of defining “natural” and “supernatural,” though, they too, happily and recklessly use the terms.

  44. StephenB @ 37,

    “that it was design thinking that launched modern science in the first place”

    Yes, & I and others have already pointed out (4 times?) it makes no difference as to my question regarding demonstrating if the supernatural can explain natural observations better than using nature can.

    They in their science writings don’t refer to the supernatural, regardless if they’re use ‘design thinking’, in order to explain the natural observations. They’re not invoking ‘angel did it!’ or ‘demons cause gravity’, no, they explain their observations in only terminology only applicable to nature itself.

    “”They, too, are incapable of defining “natural” and “supernatural,” though, they too, happily and recklessly use the terms.“

    Foul. You’re no better than Mr Bling pretending as if these terms haven’t already been defined, though, admittedly since the evidence for the supernatural is quite limited, trying to objectively pin down what it does & doesn’t entail is something theologians still argue over.

    I’ve stated earlier that there are applicable terms for each & they’ve been around for as long as the concept of ontology & existence has been discussed back to pre-Socratic era. Here are some modern ones.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernaturalism

    There, you have your terms squared away, start showing how we can use the supernatural to explain nature & how it’s more accurate at doing so then using nature to explain nature.

  45. StephenB @ 37,

    “Darwinists use the term “supernatural” to discredit the design inference….. forbidding the search for non-natural causes.”

    Hey StephenB, you’re the one pleading for *other* non natural explanations (that would be Supernatural) to be used in science, so it’s up to you to demonstrate 1) how the supernatural can be effectively tested & result in actual knowledge, better yet show a track record for its presenting new knowledge & 2) how using the supernatural can explain more so accurately then when using natural explanations.

    “When I use the term, “natural cause,” I mean law and chance, plain and simple. When I use the term agent cause or non-natural cause, I mean intelligent innovation apart from law and chance.”

    Living material based agents like us humans would still consist of actions which are consistent w/ the known laws & operate from the natural world for we cannot break them, thus, still natural.

    As opposed to say, how Behe would say a non natural being like god, shoot, I mean The Desiger, ‘helped along the Flagella’ beyond natural applicable laws (that would be supernatural).

  46. Tp StephenB: How long can this go on ?

    Just give us an example. AgentO has defined the terms, now go for it. Give us an exmple & end it all.

  47. Onlookers:

    Observe the consistent failure of advocates of methodological naturalism above to cogently address:

    1: The easily observed fact that many unquestionably scientific disciplines of quite high importance do in fact routinely apply scientific methods to distinguish “natural” and “artificial” causal factors and influences.

    2: The related fact that while their favoured rhetorical contrast is “natural”/ “supernatural — which they have a deep problem actually satisfactorily defining, as SB has highlighted! — the actual relevant contrast is nature vs art (as has been so ever since Plato’s The Laws, Bk X, c. 360 BC).

    3: The further fact that one can fairly easily identify, structure and define a methodology that can reasonably and empirically investigate and characterise aspects of objects and phenomena by a trichotomy of causal factors: [a] mechanical necessity, [b] stochastic, credibly undirected contingency, [c] credibly purposefully directed contingency. Or, in short: [a] necessity, [b] chance and [c] art or intelligence.

    4: The fact that for the past year or so, this point has been a major feature of the weak argument correctives prominently featured at this blog [cf WAC 17 on . .. ], one of the leading ID discussion fora.

    5: The further fact that on origins matters, scientific investigations are seeking to reconstruct a temporally distant, unobserved, unique, non-repeatable past, i.e. a fundamentally historical reconstruction based on present observations and comparative discussdions of possible causal explanations on inference to best explanation across relevant causal factors.

    6: The fact that in that context, the insistence on injecting the rhetorical distinction natural vs supernatural exerts a known and intentional censoring effect, i.e. it leads the evolutionary materialist magisterium and those who are influenced by it to a priori exclude possible explanations pointing to artificial or intelligent cause, breaking down the power of inference to best explanation through injecting censorship on explanations.

    7: The fact that such a priori materialism has long been documeted by prominent scientists, e.g. Lewontin in his infamous 1997 NYRB article:

    . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . .

    8: The onward fact that the scientific school of thought known as design theory investigates not supernatural causes [i.e. we are dealing with a strawman distortion here, with malice aforethought to namecall ID thinkers as stealth religious bigots and censors --never mind the "if you live in a glass-house . . ." implications of the sort of a priori materialism just described . . . ], but intelligent ones and their credibly characteristic empirical traces, such as [functionally] specified complex organisation or information.

    9: the linked fact that ID thinkers consistently highlight that on evidences pointing to design on observed cell based life on earth, the evidence is adequate to implicate intelligence, but cannot on its own identify whether the relevant designer[s] were within or beyond the observed cosmos. (In short, the rhetorical inference to the supernatural and associated namecalling on the part of materialists in the teeth of easily accessible facts, is disrespectful and dishonest.

    10: The yet further fact that it is on the design inference from the evident complex organisation of the observed cosmos and its underlying physics, that inference has been made to intelligent cause beyond the cosmos; which also shows how specific circumstances can make a literally super-natural [i.e. beyond the observed cosmos] intelligent cause a scientifically plausible explanation.

    I tis that cluster of failures to address facts in evidence that in the end is so telling.

    And while most propagators of the materialist agenda here and elsewhere are themselves caught up in the web, it is plain that at the heart of what we see above there lies willful, agenda-serving falsehood.

    And, the modern notion that we may never “scientifically” infer to art or intelligence as a credible cause where the assumptions of evolutionary materialism are in question, is a striking instance of that imposition of willful, truth-suppressing censorship.

    G’day.

    GEM of TKI

  48. PS: AO needs to pause from his motive mongering and aspersions-casting above, then reflect on the fact that the relevant theory and school of thought is known as INTELLIGENT Design, not Supernatural Design.

  49. StephenB:

    That is not true at all. We know about the information found in a DNA molecule, for example, and many scientists believe that a natural explanation will not suffice.

    Except, of course, it was those darn “materialist” scientists looking for natural explanations that discovered DNA and continue to add to the knowledge of DNA. Now, I know that ID scientists are fond of critcising the materialist scientists over junk DNA, but I don’t see them adding anything to the knowledge of DNA. They appear, for all purposes, as armchair quarterbacks. It is those operating under the supposed strictures of MN that are making all the advances.

    Even if you were right, however, that would not justify the MN intrusion and the oppressive policy of forbidding the search for non-natural causes. There simply is no intellectual or moral justfication for that practice. None at all.

    You mean besides that it is the only scientific process that actually produces results? Let’s come full circle to the question that you still haven’t answered. You still haven’t shown how scientific knowledge has progressed by discovery of supernatural (or non-natural, if you prefer) causation. You started out by offering the medical sciences offering proof of miraculous healing, but quickly backpedaled when pressed as to what useful knowledge was discovered. So, here is your chance to try again.

  50. They, too, are incapable of defining “natural” and “supernatural,” though, they too, happily and recklessly use the terms.

    You know, I am rather amused by the idea of you criticising some of the most prominent scientists of the age. I realize that this may be uncharitable of me, so I would hope you would do me the honor sharing with me your scientific background. It would help me understand where you are coming from.

    I promise, no arguments from authority. I am just intrigued by what your background is. I realize it is hard to guage tone in the written word, but you coney a sense of bitterness that leads me to wonder if the need to conform to MN has restricted your particular scientific research.

  51. Onlookers

    A couple of quick notes:

    1] AO,45: it’s up to you to demonstrate 1) how the supernatural can be effectively tested & result in actual knowledge, better yet show a track record for its presenting new knowledge & 2) how using the supernatural can explain more so accurately then when using natural explanations.

    Strawman.

    AO knows or should know that the real issue is inference to design — so, to art or intelligence — not to “the supernatural” as such.

    And, such inferences to intelligent cause are a significant and routine part of science.

    In certain contexts, circumstances could point to a super-natural intelligence, e.g. on the evident design of the cosmos that has led many serious scientific thinkers to infer just such an extra-cosmic designer as the cause of our fine-tuned observed cosmos.

    So, we see here how a bait and switcheroo game works rhetorically to serve the materialistic agenda as already exposed.

    2] RT, 49: it was those darn “materialist” scientists looking for natural explanations that discovered DNA and continue to add to the knowledge of DNA.

    A subtler error, but another strawman.

    First, let us reflect on just what one of the co-discoverers of DNA, Crick, had to say from the outset in a March 19, 1953 letter to his son Michael:

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

    Now, could ET kindly tell us what we all know or should know per massively reliable empirical evidence, about the source of complex, algorithmically functional text?

    And secondly, the structure and function of DNA is a case of operational sceince — i.e. observatinally and empirically anchored, repeatable phenomena are under study. This type of “the world as a going concern” work is largely independent of worldviews.

    By contrast, the issue at stake on say the origin of informational molecule-based cellular life, is one in origins science. That is, scientific investigators are trying to reconstruct — strictly, to model — a unique, unobserved past based on inferences form evidence in the present. In so doing, they have to use inference to best explaation across all reasonably possible causes; which plainly includes intelligence when it comes to say DNA (as Crick hemself implied all the way back to 1953). And so, to abuse the word “supernatural” to rule out a very relevant set of possible causes a priori, is censorship and misleading.

    For, science at its best is still . . .

    an unfettered (but intellectually and ethically responsible) pursuit of the truth about our world, based on observation, analysis and discussion among the informed.

    __________

    In short, we see much of rhetoric, and little of substance from evolutionary materialism advocates, yet again.

    G’day again

    GEM of TKI

  52. GEM:

    Now, could ET kindly tell us what we all know or should know per massively reliable empirical evidence, about the source of complex, algorithmically functional text?

    What we know, or what you assert we know?

  53. ET:

    Above, you inferred, correctly, from the sign of functionally specific complex textual information, to the source in art or intelligence.

    This is a routine common sense inductive exercise on inference to best empirically anchored explanation, and it is embedded in the foundational concept signal to noise ratio, in information theory.

    Moreover, we have an Internet full of cases in point.

    So, let us now reverse the turnabout accusation rhetorical tactic you just resorted to:

    Can you identify a case of say syntactically and semantically and contextually and/or algorithmically functional ASCII text of length at least 130 characters [i.e. more than 1,000 bits], where we do know the source independently based on observation, and that source is chance ["lucky noise"] or a combination of chance and blind mechanical forces?

    (You can always try the updated million monkeys experiment in outline here . . . )

    We would be very interested to see such.

    [And you will see that this is a case of straight, directly empirically testable scientific inductive generalisation on massive easily accessible observable examples, not insertion of the sort of imposed a priorism that evolutionary materialism uses to censor origins science.]

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  54. Agent orange, I am still waiting for answers to all my questions @41.

  55. Agentorange, Wikipedia’s description of nature is useless because it cannot address my questions @41. I have already been there and done that.

  56. Agentorange answers to me in 26 by stating:

    “Thus, it’s not that nature isn’t or can’t be adequately defined, it is, it’s that none have given to the extent which, nor is it likely to be given, a satisfactory definition of what the supernatural consists of in order for it to be adequately measured, quantified & tested to begin with.
    Further, the issue isn’t that the terms haven’t been or can’t be qualified, it’s more in that as further investigation of the nature has occurred the domain of the supernatural has been in steady retreat of explaining reality.”

    Even tough you seem to believe that nature has been adequately defined I am afraid that no one can adequately define what nature is because nobody can logically define a seemingly unlimited and growing body of data. As I tried to explain previously the next inductive event or better correlating pattern can always change the definition. So purely in logical basis we don’t even know are we moving any closer to “adequate” explanation of nature.

    Also in logical terms difference between natural and supernatural is meaningless because what is simply IS. Even in semantic terms the word supernatural doesn’t seem to make any sense. How can you observe supernatural event if not in nature through natural means? If an event is observed in nature wouldn’t that make it an natural event? Or if supernatural explanation is found to be true wouldn’t that make it an natural explanation?
    As we are not omniscient we cannot be sure what truly IS. That is why I have found that I can personally only hope to find what IS through belief in rational reality, best explanations for that reality, careful observations, humility and through belief in God.

  57. The quote is in 28 not in 26 as I incorrectly stated.

  58. —-efren ts: “You know, I am rather amused by the idea of you criticising some of the most prominent scientists of the age. I realize that this may be uncharitable of me, so I would hope you would do me the honor sharing with me your scientific background. It would help me understand where you are coming from.”

    If a scientist makes an egregiously logical error, I see no reason to ignore it on the grounds that he has achieved a certain measure of fame. In fact, the title of Collins’ book, “The Language of God,” which implies that God communicates to us through nature, contradicts his Darwinistic philosophy and the contents of his book, which hold that design is an illusion and that the language of God cannot be apprehended at all. Scientists who know nothing about philosophy are just as dangerous as philosophers who know nothing about science.

    —”I promise, no arguments from authority. I am just intrigued by what your background is. I realize it is hard to guage tone in the written word, but you coney a sense of bitterness that leads me to wonder if the need to conform to MN has restricted your particular scientific research.”

    Instead of questioning my character, wouldn’t it be more productive to have a go at my questions for AO @41,

  59. Above, you inferred, correctly, from the sign of functionally specific complex textual information, to the source in art or intelligence.

    I am not even sure how to parse that sentence to make it comprehensible.

    You assert that DNA can only be the product of intelligent design, but despite your prolific output, have not backed up that assertion except by weak analogy (or perhaps, more appropriately, innuendo.) I am almost tempted to assert my habeas corpus rights and ask you to produce the designer. But, of course, that is strictly frowned upon hereabouts. And, having observed, back in my onlooker days, your utter refusal to concede any point in the face of incontrovertible proof (even that provided by none other than your UD confederates, like Atom), I am led, sadly, to the unfortunate conclusion that there is nothing to be gained by engaging with you. I speak, of course, to the latching discussion as it pertains to Dawkin’s Weasel program, upon which, you would have us believe, the entire edifice of evolutionary hegemony over the life sciences rests. I trust that there is sufficient other fora within this website to which you’re voluble presence can help bring to satisfactory climax.

    So, I am going to go ahead and soak a strawman in the oil of ad-hominem, lighting it afire to provide the smoke of obfuscation that will allow me to return unmolested to an interesting discussion with Stephen.

  60. StephenB:

    Instead of questioning my character,

    Actually, as I stated above, I am interested in you as a person. Where you come from, what your experience are, and how that brings you to this discussion. But, if you are uncomfortable sharing details of your scientific career, I will respect your privacy.

    wouldn’t it be more productive to have a go at my questions for AO @41

    Perhaps, but I am still waiting for your answer to the question presented to you in comment 3 above: Where in history of science has ever it occurred that not using nature to explain nature (methodological naturalism) resulted in a measureable, objective verifiable increase in knowledge? All the eminent scientists that you mention proceeded in their work by searching for natural explanations for phenomenom observed in nature. Kepler didn’t look through a telescope looking for angels. You reference work performed by scientists who rejected philospophical naturalism and presume that means that their work process did not conform to methodological naturalism.

    When pressed on that point, you back up a few steps to saying that their work was informed by design thinking that presumes that the universe was set up by a rational designer who left clues to his handiwork. But that really isn’t much of an answer either since the modern scientific enterprise that you are attacking also proceeds from the belief that the universe operates according to rational, and descernible, laws. Modern scientists proceed in their work just as Newton and Boyle did; looking for natural explanations to what they observe around them. The only difference, then, is that many (though not all) modern scientists find your unnamed (and yet undiscovered) designer superfluous to their motivation for understanding the world. And, without the context of your personal history with modern science, I am left to wonder what your real beef is.

    So, in the end, I am not going to be thrown off the track by answering your questions until you answer agentorange’s.

  61. —-efren ts: “So, in the end, I am not going to be thrown off the track by answering your questions until you answer agentorange’s.

    Your earlier question, drawn from someone else’s quote, was phrased as follows: “Where in history of science has ever it occurred that not using nature to explain nature (methodological naturalism) resulted in a measureable, objective verifiable increase in knowledge?”

    I have already answered that question. First of all, the person who asked the question doesn’t know what he means by the word, “natural,” so his inquiry [and yours] is meaningless until I define the word for him [and you]. So, using my definitions, here is the answer: Forensic scientists acquire knowledge from a crime scene by doing that very thing, detecting the presence of non-natural intelligent agents apart from the laws of nature. When they enter a crime scene at a home that has been ransacked with the dresser drawers left open, for example, they know, by virtue of a design inference, that it was caused by a vandal [intelligent agent] and not by a tornado [natural cause]. Of course, methodological naturalism’s irrational formulation forbids that calculation because the investigation in question transcends the search for law-like regularities, violating the rule that only law-like regularities are open for discussion. Fortunately, not everyone is buying that routine. Further, methodological naturalism can’t even distinquish the vandal from the tornado since it mindlessly classifies both as natural causes. So even if it wasn’t hampered by its own ideology, it would, nevertheless, be helpless to reason its way through to the obvious conclusion.

    In any case, this post is about methodological naturalism, the fact that its advocates rewrite history and fail to define their terms. All your responses have confirmed the point, and your failure to answer my questions @41 seal the deal. Clearly, neither you nor agent orange can provide a rational defense for your own position, nor will you even try.

  62. I have already answered that question.

    Actually, you haven’t. You started off by conflating the personal beliefs and motivations of famous scientists and the process by which they conducted their scientific work and have generalyy held to that equivocation ever since.

    So, using my definitions, here is the answer: Forensic scientists acquire knowledge from a crime scene by doing that very thing, detecting the presence of non-natural intelligent agents apart from the laws of nature. When they enter a crime scene at a home that has been ransacked with the dresser drawers left open, for example, they know, by virtue of a design inference, that it was caused by a vandal [intelligent agent] and not by a tornado [natural cause].

    Except, of course, that the intelligent agent that the forensic scientist is looking for is a natural agent. So, those investigators are conforming with methodological naturalism in all it’s supposedly restrictive glory. Unless, that is, you are referring to ghostbusters or any of the various paranormal researchers infecting cable TV these days. If you are, it would be helpful for you to clarify that point.

    In any case, this post is about methodological naturalism, the fact that its advocates rewrite history and fail to define their terms. All your responses have confirmed the point, and your failure to answer my questions @41 seal the deal. Clearly, neither you nor agent orange can provide a rational defense for your own position, nor will you even try.

    The only defense I have and, indeed, the only defense I need is the vast increase in knowledge of the universe that has resulted when scientists stopped looking for angels holding the planets in the orbits and started looking for natural explanations to the phenomenom they observe in nature. That you think that methodological naturalism, as a process, is a recent construct stands you in opposition to the entirety of the scientific community that knows the term is a recent construct for the centuries-old process of looking for natural explanations for observed phenomenom. So asked and answered.

    Now, I won’t preclude the possibility that you are right and the entire scientific community is wrong about that. But, you haven’t made your case that the idea that scientists can only look for natural explanations is a recent construct. Indeed, you have consistently failed to even offer a perfunctory defense that Newton, et al were engaged in anything other than looking for natural explanations for the world about them.

    So, to summarize, you have conflated historical scientist’s motivations with their process and when the error in that assertion was pointed out you shifted your statement to the idea that they were engaged in design thinking. Of course, your definition of “design thinking” was a distinction without a difference when compared with the current scientific enterprise, as I pointed out in 60 above. You have failed to make a compelling case in either attempt to answer agentorange’s question in comment 3, and trying to throw the monkey (heh) on someone else’s back is not going to disguise that fact.

  63. StephenB,

    Outstanding post. I am halfway through the inane criticisms and they really have no good objections yet.

    Good work. Is Agentorange, Voice Coil? Or whatever he called himself.

  64. “The only defense I have and, indeed, the only defense I need is the vast increase in knowledge of the universe that has resulted when scientists stopped looking for angels holding the planets in the orbits and started looking for natural explanations to the phenomenom they observe in nature. ”

    That is nonsense. A more logical correlation is freedom. When men are free to speculate and to test, then that is where knowledge takes off. It has nothing to do with methodological naturalism. At first nearly everyone thought they were revealing the hand of God. Then some said we do not need God as an explanation but that did not stop people like Faraday, Maxwell, Lord Kelvin and many others. The increase in knowledge had nothing to do with forsaking an idea that what we are seeing is the handiwork of God.

    Good try though but not one showing any insightful thinking. More knee jerk adherence to the party line. Stripes or spots, it all the same.

  65. Jerry,

    Upright Biped,

    House Street Room,

    Thanks for the kind words.

  66. efren ts, you seem to labor under the opinion that a long, rambling post will camouflage your evasions. I have answered all your questions in detail and you have avoided mine like the plague.

  67. StephenB: “When they enter a crime scene at a home that has been ransacked with the dresser drawers left open, for example, they know, by virtue of a design inference, that it was caused by a vandal [intelligent agent] and not by a tornado [natural cause]. ”

    Human beings are not considered as being ‘natural’?

    I would also add that your statement is a bit naive in that dependent on where the home/cabin/apartment/shack were located would dictate how the forensic scientists would proceed. I will grant you that the forensic scientists would probably immediately eliminate, or at least place far down the list of probable causes, tornados, demons, angels, ghosts, and a host of other potential, yet unlikely, causes. The forensic scientist doing his/her job correctly would not immediately look for signs of an intelligent agent( I assume you mean human being) but look for other probable causes which may not be considered as being an intelligent agent.

    For example I, and some of my friends as well, own homes in somewhat wild areas, i.e. more natural, than most people live in. Over the last 15 years or so my home has been broken into 5 times and ransacked much as you describe. However, in each and every case there was no intellegent agent responsible for the breakins and ransacking. The cause, determined via MN, was hungry black bears looking for food (presumably) or perhaps doing it in an attempt to drive humans from their habitat. The important point being that there are other causes outside of intelligent agent (humans) that can ransack a home and falsely give the appearence of design.

  68. —-Jerry: “Is Agentorange, Voice Coil? Or whatever he called himself.”

    Good question. Clive is the real master at connecting the dots. To be sure, the style is similar [refusing to answer questions and trying to reframe the issue].

  69. Whenever I tune in to any discussion on the subject of “methodological naturalism,” I often marvel at the extent to which Darwinists will rewrite history and manipulate the language in their futile attempt to defend this so-called “requirement” for science.

    This persistent attack on methodological naturalism (MN) is a curious phenomenon. The science which employs MN has taken images of individual atoms and seen almost to the edge of the observable Universe. Engineers, some of whom are outspoken critics of the naturalistic theory of evolution, would not dream of using anything else when designing, for example, the cars, aircraft and buildings to which we entrust our lives. Mathematicians rely on the unchanging nature of numbers. They do not assume that there is some mysterious, undetectable agency that can magically transform 2 into 9 when they are not looking. The very computers on which we write these posts and the networks which link them are all products of methodological naturalism. So why the carping? If MN is so successful – and the evidence for that is, dare I say it, overwhelming – the reason must be found by looking at the nature of the critics and I will return to that at the end.

    First, we have what one might call the “soft” definition, characterized as a preference for identifying for natural causes, a position which makes no final judgment about a universal line of demarcation between science and non-science

    Methodological naturalism is a lot more than some vague “preference” for natural causes. It follows from the assumption that there is an objective Universe out there which is ordered, contingent, consistent and comprehensible. If it were not so, not just science but any form of reliable knowledge about anything would be impossible. In this article the philosopher Barbara Forrest quotes geologist Arthur Strahler:

    [S]upernatural forces, if they can be said to exist, cannot be observed, measured, or recorded by the procedures of science–that’s simply what the word “supernatural” means. There can be no limit to the kinds and shapes of supernatural forces and forms the human mind is capable of conjuring up “from nowhere.” Scientists therefore have no alternative but to ignore the claims of the existence of supernatural forces and causes. This exclusion is a basic position that must be stoutly adhered to by scientists or their entire system of evaluating and processing information will collapse…. To find a reputable scientist proposing a theory of supernatural force is disturbing to the community of scientists. If the realm of matter and energy with which scientists work is being influenced or guided by a supernatural force, science will be incapable of explaining the information it has collected; it will be unable to make predictions about what will happen in the future, and its explanations of what has happened in the past may be inadequate or incomplete

    Suppose that not just Newton but two other natural philosophers observed the apocryphal apple fall and were inspired to hypothesize about the cause. Newton proposed his theory of an attractive force operating between any objects possessing mass, the second proposed a vortex of ethereal energy flowing down from the sky, the third, even more religious than the other two, proposed that flights of invisible angels drag base matter away from the heavens and down to the Earth from whence it came. How should we decide between them? Can we decide between them? Remember that the assumption that we can relies on an ordered Universe in which there is only one explanation for phenomena, that they have consistent and apprehensible “natures”. The methodical attempt to find the best explanation of those natures is what science does.

    Second, we have the “hard” definition as used by all the institutional Darwinists. In the second context, methodological naturalism is an institutional “rule” by which one group of researchers imposes on another group of researchers an arbitrary, intrusive, and non-negotiable standard which states that scientists must study nature as if nature is all there is.

    That’s not a definition, it’s a paranoid conspiracy theory. It is the claim that there was – and presumably, still is – a cabal of hardline, doctrinaire naturalists, centred in biology, who declared MN to be the One True Method to be followed by all scientists, regardless of discipline, field or nationality on pain of banishment from university cafeterias. It is absurd on its face. There is no global scientific body that has such authority let alone any individual scientist. You might as well fantasize that benign Richard Dawkins is secretly the evil Dark Lord of the Myth of evolution and that Osama bin Laden is actually a disgruntled biologist in a black beard who resents being told how to do science and is allied with the Intelliban Design resistance in an attempt to bring down the whole rotten edifice of evolution.

    For that matter, not even the soft definition always applied to the earlier scientists, who simply used whatever methods that seemed right for the multi-varied research projects they were investigating. Some studied the law-like regularities of the universe, and it was in that context that they formulated their hypotheses. Others, more interested in outright design arguments, established their hypotheses on exactly that basis. Kepler’s laws of motion, for example, stemmed from his perception of design in the mathematical precision of planetary motion. Newton, in his classic work, Optics argued for the intelligent design of the eye and, at other places, presented something like the modern “anthropic principle” in his discussion on the positioning of the planets.

    Kepler and Newton may well have been deeply religious men who believed their work was revealing the glory of God’s creation in all its detail. That God created the world was not in doubt in their minds. What concerned them, though, was not the ‘who’ but the ‘how’ and the ‘how’ in their explanations was strictly naturalistic. If we see a magic trick and are told “David Blaine did it” we have been offered a cause but not an explanation of how and it is the ‘how’ that concerns science.

    Nor should there be any surprise that these scientists practised a form of MN, albeit not under that name. The roots of the method can be traced back at least as far as the ancient Greeks. Adel DiBagno has already quoted 14th century philosopher Nicholas Oresme. Is it necessary to remind onlookers that Ockham’s Razor is a central principle of MN, that William thereof set it down also in the 14th century although earlier versions can be found as early as the 900s? All that happened in the 1980′s was that when philosopher Paul de Vries coined the term “methodological naturalism” to distinguish the practice from the philosophy of naturalism, he was really only articulating what was by then a long-established methodology.

    The whole point of what we now call methodological naturalism is to provide a means of discovering knowledge whose accuracy is demonstrable to anyone and is not dependent on the religious or political beliefs of the observer. While Newton or Boyle or Kepler may have been inspired by their faith, their work is valuable regardless not because of it.

    If the universe wasn’t designed to be comprehensible and rational, they reasoned, there is no reason to believe that it is comprehensible and rational. Thus, there would be no reason to try to comprehend it or make rational statements about it. What would be the point?

    The point is that rather than speculating fruitlessly about the nature and purposes of some Creator, you start with what is right in front of your eyes. If you see order and regularity and apparent causality then you try to understand it.

    As a species, we are inveterate story-tellers. Stories or narratives are a process of linking objects and events in cause and effect chains. They are a means of modeling the world we observe, in some cases to entertain, in some cases to educate and in others to explain. The number of possible narratives is limited only by the power of human imagination so, in the case of explanatory narratives, there needs to be some means of distinguishing between them, of testing them to see which, if any, is the more accurate. Hence, the scientific method or methodological naturalism.

    In his book The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan told a story in the form of the parable of the Westminster Project. Set in Great Britain in the mid 19th century when the British Empire was at the height of its power, it imagined Queen Victoria tasking the best scientists and engineers of the day finding a means of bring her image and spoken words into every home in the land – in other words, creating television. However, at this time the telegraph had only just been invented and the best they could come up with was to install a telegraph key in every home and train everyone in Morse code. What they did not know, what they could not have known, was that in Scotland there was a young man called James Clerk Maxwell…

    Sagan’s point was to highlight the need for investment in pure research that might not have any immediate benefit, that targeting finance in science is very difficult because there is no way to forecast where the next groundbreaking discovery will occur. However, indirectly, it also illustrates the value of an accurate narrative or why, in science, a well-founded theory is much more highly-prized than mere facts. Not only does it provide a new insight into how nature works but that knowledge, for good or ill, gives us power over nature to that extent. All of today’s commonplace technology, such as TV, radio, radar, that exploits electromagnetic phenomena exists in part because a 19th century Scottish nerd was curious about the nature and relationship of electricity and magnetism and eventually constructed a theory to explain it. It should be noted that he was also a religious man but you will not find those beliefs figuring anywhere in his equations.

    Returning to the present, methodological naturalists do not even have a coherent formulation with which to oppress their adversaries. Notice, for example, how selective they are about enforcing their petty rule, applying it only to ID scientists, and exempting all other researchers who violate the principle, such as searchers for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence and Big Bang Theorists.

    SETI assumes that there are civilizations similar to our own on other planets who use radio waves for communications just as we do. There is nothing immaterial or supernatural involved and they do not even ask that we make allowance for such. Cosmologists theorize that the Universe began as a singularity around 13.75bn years ago because all the material evidence points in that direction. No one knows what happened at the moment of the Big Bang, what caused it or what, if anything, there was before it. It is a gap in our knowledge and that is all science can say about it at present. The only “petty rule” being applied to ID is the same as applies to all science. If your belief aspires to achieving the status of a fully-fledged theory then it needs to explain what is already observed, provide the evidence to support that explanation, predict where to find what we have not yet observed and, if it is to supplant its rivals, do it all better then they do. Those are the standards that any contender is expected to meet and any that can’t do not make themselves any better by trying to rig them.

    Now think about this for a moment. Entrenched bureaucrats, who do not know what they mean by the word “natural,” are telling ID scientists, who do know what they mean by the word, “natural,” that science can study only natural causes. In effect, here is what they are saying: “You [ID scientists] are restricted to a study of the natural world, and, although I have no idea what I mean by that term, which means that I have no idea of what I mean by my rule, you are, nevertheless, condemned if you violate it.

    So what you are proposing is that a mysterious cabal of unnamed scientists has the power to enforce a rigid, dogmatic adherence to methodological naturalism as a practice and philosophical naturalism as a metaphysical belief. There are two problems with such a claim. The first is that, as far as we know, there is no scientific body with anything like that power. Can you imagine how scientists in Muslim countries would react if a group of American biologists tried to tell them what to do or believe? How do you think American scientists would react to attempts by scientists from Arab countries trying to dictate what they should do or think? The second is that, as you have just admitted, there is no dogmatic version of methodological naturalism etched in tablets of stone. There is no clear agreement even over the definition of “natural” and “supernatural”. How can you enforce a dogma when there is no dogma? As you imply, the notion is absurd.

    The simplest way around the natural/supernatural dilemma is to define the natural as anything about which we can obtain information, however indirectly. Anything which acts in the natural world, which can be observed directly or whose existence can be inferred from collateral or residual effects is a natural phenomenon. If ghosts can be detected by EM disturbances or by infra-red cameras, they are natural phenomena. If verifiable evidence of a god’s handiwork could be found then that deity would be a natural phenomenon. By this definition, the supernatural is irrelevant. All that need concern us is what can be observed, what has been observed and what has not been observed. This means, of course, that any observable phenomenon is a potential candidate for being explained to the “pathetic level of detail” that ID, unwisely, would prefer to avoid.

    By contrast, ID scientists point to three causes, all of which can be observed and identified: Law, chance, and agency. Once we acknowledge that point, everything falls into place. It would be so much easier to avoid all this nonsense, drop the intrusive rule of methodological naturalism, and simply concede the obvious point: Since only the scientist knows which research question he is trying to answer, only the scientist can decide which method or methods are appropriate for obtaining that answer.

    Are you seriously suggesting that ID scientists – however many they might be – are the only ones to have noticed the existence of law, chance and agency and that the millions of other scientists around the world have all been completely ignorant of them? Are those millions all now throwing up their hands and gasping “Why didn’t we think of that?” Of course, they are not and it would be both arrogant and presumptuous of ID scientists to suggest that is the case – which, I should add, I am sure they do not.

    In fact, what really concerns proponents of ID is, not unnaturally, the question of agency and this brings me back to the question of why there should be so much animosity towards a procedure or method for doing science which, in itself, says nothing one way or the other about the existence of gods or other supernatural entities.

    If we look at the list of signatories to the Dissent from Darwinism statement we find they are drawn from a wide range of fields and disciplines not just the biological sciences. The same is true for the non-academic critics since we have lawyers, dentists, engineers, doctors, veterinarians to name but a few. The question then becomes, if MN is demonstrably successful and productive as a scientific methodology, what is that all these opponents of MN have in common that might unite them against it? There may be a few who are naturally contrarian, who refuse to run with the herd on principle, but in most other cases it would seem that the objections are based on religious sentiments. Certainly, most of the ID proponents on this group have expressed strong religious convictions and, while I accept the proposition that it is possible to investigate the hypothesis of non-human design without recourse to any personal beliefs, the inference must be that ID is viewed as a means of finding evidence that might utimately be adduced as support for those beliefs.

    The problem for creationists and ID proponents is that they want it both ways. They would like material evidence for non-human intelligent design that could only be provided by MN scientific research but they also want to protect the integrity of their personal beliefs by insisting on a kind of diplomatic immunity which would prohibit any such research in those areas. Failing that, the only other way round is to argue that the methods that would be used in such research are incompetent for the task for various reasons which, of course, is what we see in the attacks on MN. This puts anti-MNers in the unfortunate position of having to adopt a postmodernist position of arguing there is no reason to privilege any particular narrative, not even a scientific one, over all the others. I say unfortunate because this always backfires on whoever makes the argument since it is self-referential in that it can be employed against itself.

    Put simply, Darwinism is attacked because it is perceived by some Christians as posing a threat to their faith. Since the theory of evolution is a product of methodological naturalism then that is also a threat because, even if Darwinism were overthrown, the methodology which produced it would still be available to create more materialistic horrors and that is why, for some believers, MN must be discredited.

  70. —-Acipenser: “For example I, and some of my friends as well, own homes in somewhat wild areas, i.e. more natural, than most people live in. Over the last 15 years or so my home has been broken into 5 times and ransacked much as you describe.”

    Since you seem to miss the point, substitute the word “burglar” for the word “vandal.” Do you think your bears were looking for jewelry? The forensic scientist knows that the open drawers and the selective rummaging rules out the tornado. Tornados, Hurricanes, and snowstorms do not go looking for valuables. Is that clear enough?

  71. Obviously, I meant tornadoes.

  72. Seversky, you just invested 2958 words without addressing my question @41. You did venture forth a definition so you definitely get points for that, but filling up cyberspace with an unduly long post will not suffice as a demonstration that your definition is usable.

    Begin with this:

    If all causes are “natural,” then how do you distinguish the cause of all the artifacts found in ancient Pompei from the cause of the volcano that buried them. How do you even know that Pompei existed as a civilization. Maybe natural forces only made it appear that way. Maybe natural forces built all the archives.

    The causes that built and destroyed Pompei are either substantially different or they are not. If they are different, as ID rightly insists, then those differences can be identified. If they are not different, as the Darwinists claim and MN advocates claim, then those differences cannot be identified, which means that whatever causes a volcano to erupt is comparable to whatever caused Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to erupt.

  73. Onlookers:

    Brief follow up points:

    1] ET does not seem to realise that Weasel is a case of targetted, intelligently designed search, and worse, a case where the distance to target metric works off the existence of the known target and a metric of distance to it; which BTW were actually conceded in Dawkins’ — well, weasel . .. — words in his book right from the beginning. (FYI ET, this is the blog where Weasel was outed and the smoking gun credible code was put up for all to see. Dawkins’ 1986 – 7 bait and switch is dead, dead, dead. And, given that the real issue with the sort of scale of configuration spaces we address is not hill-climbing within islands of function, but to get to the shores of such islands in the first place, GA’s — which, again, are intelligently designed and do not fall under creating FSCI out of undirected chance + blind necessity! — do little better. But then, this is yet another all too well known Darwinist tangential red herring led away to a strawman.)

    2] He pretends not to know that a long enough text in readable, contextually responsive English is a case where the functional specificity and complexity are such that it is maximally improbable on the gamut of the observed cosmos across its lifespan, to get to such by chance or chance and mechanical necessity. But, intelligence readily produces such. So, when we see text meeting the FSCI criteria, we reasonably and confidently and reliably explain it by intelligence.

    __________

    These obfuscations and errors — in the teeth of easily accessible corrective information in the WAC’s above and elsewhere –tell us a lot about what is really going on.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  74. efren ts, you seem to labor under the opinion that a long, rambling post will camouflage your evasions.

    My evasions? First I point out your conflation of method with motivation and then I noted how your definition of “design thinking” was so milquetoast to be universally applicable to both theistic and atheistic scientists. You offer no rebuttal to either of those points, but only criticize the length of my post? Fine. Here is my succinct defense of MN: It works.

    Now having disposed of that with extreme parsimony, could you now please address the fallacies I pointed out and enumerated above?

  75. StephenB:”Since you seem to miss the point, substitute the word “burglar” for the word “vandal.” Do you think your bears were looking for jewelry? The forensic scientist knows that the open drawers and the selective rummaging rules out the tornado. Tornados, Hurricanes, and snowstorms do not go looking for valuables. Is that clear enough?

    Adding more qualifiers to your superficial analogy only underlines the weakness of the analogy in the first place, post hoc fallacies and all they entail.

    However, I doubt that burglery consists of the theft of jewelery only and that other items of value might also be stolen by a burgler dependent, of course on the motives.

    A forensic scientist would be a poor one at that if they were to immediately assume that a ransacked house were the result of an intelligent agent looking for jewelery. For example the breakin/burglery may have been the result of a hungry intelligent agent (human) or a hungry bear. The end result is the same, i.e., a ransacked home and theft of food. The question is how (what methods) would a forensic scientist use to determine which it might be considering it might also be the workings of demons set out to make life miserable for the absentee home owner.

    Another question is how do you rule out the possibility that every piece of published research (since the 1980′s of course) is not the product of ‘design thinking’ as you claim was prevalent in all of science pre-1980′s?

    What criteria was present in the works of ‘design thinkers’ that is obviously absent in the post 1980′s since the implementation of the ‘rule of MN” and how do we know this?

  76. I think StephenB may misunderstand the difference between primary and secondary causation as construed by such medieval thinkers as the Angelic Doctor (ca. 1225-1274):

    God works sufficiently in things as First Agent, but it does not follow from this that the operation of secondary agents is superfluous.

    One action does not proceed from two agents of the same order. But nothing hinders the same action from proceeding from a primary and a secondary agent.

    S.Theol.I,105,5,ad 1 and ad 2

    Like other thinkers of the high middle ages, Aquinas is saying that secondary (i.e., natural) causes can adequately explain the flotsam and jetsam of creation without denying or disparaging in any way the primary causative role of God in the whole shebang.

    You can, without sin or blasphemy, study nature in its own right while leaving God out of the details. Indeed, God’s dignity is honored thereby.

  77. —-”A forensic scientist would be a poor one at that if they were to immediately assume that a ransacked house were the result of an intelligent agent looking for jewelery. For example the breakin/burglery may have been the result of a hungry intelligent agent (human) or a hungry bear. The end result is the same, i.e., a ransacked home and theft of food.”

    If you don’t understand that the distinction is between the forces of nature and purposeful behavior I cannnot help you.

  78. StephenB:’If you don’t understand that the distinction is between the forces of nature and purposeful behavior I cannnot help you.”

    If your sole point is that the weather is not likely responsible for the ransacked home in your analogy you would probably be correct and get little argument from most folks. Your assertion of forensic scientists solving the crime via design inference is quite a bit weaker as my simple example demonstrated.

    You could, however, help me, and perhaps others, by addressing the question(s) put to you about your claim. Specfically (from my viewpoint) these:

    Another question is how do you rule out the possibility that every piece of published research is not the product of ‘design thinking’ as you claim was prevalent in pre-1980’s science?

    What criteria/aspect was present in the published works of ‘design thinkers’ that is obviously absent in post 1980’s publications since the implementation of the ‘rule of MN”?

  79. —-Adel DiBagno: “I think StephenB may misunderstand the difference between primary and secondary causation as construed by such medieval thinkers as the Angelic Doctor (ca. 1225-1274):”

    You think wrongly. I know all about St. Thomas and his position on Divine causality, just as I know that your attempt to link it to this discussion reflects a superficial understanding of it. How remarkable it is that Darwinists will go to such lengths to evade issues and duck questions.

  80. —”If your sole point is that the weather is not likely responsible for the ransacked home in your analogy you would probably be correct and get little argument from most folks.”

    You are starting to show signs of life.

  81. StephenB:”If you don’t understand that the distinction is between the forces of nature and purposeful behavior I cannnot help you.”

    Are you saying that there are no natural forces guided by any divine forces or beings? Which could possibly mean that there is no divine retribution behind natural forces like volcanism, earthquakes (and the tsunamis they produce),hurricanes, lightning, ect. The ramifications of this, as I see it, would be that it should logically follow that by disavowing divine retribution as a cause then logically, and reasonably, divine intervention to save some folks from a natural force would be out as well.

    Otherwise, perhaps an intelligent agent, acting via snowstorm or tornado, could be the responsible agent for the ransacked home. What is the forensic scientist supposed to do in this case?

  82. Acipenser:—”If your sole point is that the weather is not likely responsible for the ransacked home in your analogy you would probably be correct and get little argument from most folks.”

    stephenB:”You are starting to show signs of life.”

    I’ll take that as an affirmative then but wonder why you introduced the faulty ‘design inference’ module to that single point you were trying to make. Dependent, of course, on your answers posed to you in #81 which might really throw a wrench into the works.

  83. I am a bit late to the party but I just got through reading the 82 posts preceding this one. What is glaring is that no one will answer the questions Stephen asked in #41!!!!

    Please anyone?

    Vivid

  84. 84

    agentorange re: 44

    It might be a good idea to carefully read the articles that you cite. In the Wikipedia article on ‘supernaturalism’ we find this in the section headed ‘Controversy:’

    “One complicating factor is that there is no universal agreement about what the definition of ‘natural’ is, and what the limits of naturalism might be.”

    The point being that we have not in our limited understanding of the universe, discovered just what are the limits of the natural world. It has been argued here before that if God is real, He has an affect on the natural world. As such, his actions could best be described as natural (but perhaps on a higher plain) than simply as ‘supernatural.’

    Therefore, to object to the interpretation of what appears to be purposful and intelligent agent in nature as design, simply because it does not fit the current limits of what we know to be natural, is to blind oneself to the possibility that science may one day discover more light on the issue. Methodological Naturalism as it is now insisted upon in popular science circles, is in all respects of its use in avoiding design arguments, a science stopper.

  85. 85

    agentorange (PS)

    Perhaps this is why Darwinists insist on talking about the appearance of design as if there is no actual design. MN insists that all appearances of design in nature cannot be actual design. As the evidence for design mounts, Methodological Naturalism appears more and more delusional – a strongly-held belief despite evidence to the contrary.

    Speaking of delusional thinking, it may get to the point where the similarities between design inferences in nature and in human construct will be epistemologically skewed such that a committed naturalist may not be able to tell that Beethoven’s 5th Symphony was purposefully composed.

  86. C.Yankee@85″MN insists that all appearances of design in nature cannot be actual design.”

    That would be incorrect. MN would insist that the evidence for a claim of design must be supported by the evidence, reproducible by others, and the claim must not overreach the limitations of the data. MN makes no positive or negative affirmations about any conclusions but MN does have a bar that must be cleared and that is the data and those conclusions that are supposted by the data.

  87. Vivid,

    I would not hold my breath for any real answers to post 41. This is the point where materialist ideologues must face the canyon-like distinction between the “soft” and “hard” definitions of methodological naturalism. They are only willing to go so far, they cannot allow themselves to be fully invovled in definitions that are what they really are (as Allen MacNeil has hesitatingly demonstrated on more than one occasion).

    When naturalism is a method by which we use observations to understand the natural world, then it is what it should be (and it is certainly no invention of materialists, as has been duly noted throughout history).

    However, when naturalism becomes a rule to be wielded at those who do not bow down to the materialistic philosophy that “material is all there is”, then it is no longer a just a method. It becomes a philosophical assumption prior to the evidence. The first definition is a method targeted at observing the evidence, the other is an arbitrary rule targeted at protecting conclusions. The second definition is simply an assertion which cannot be falsifiable. In other words, we could never know if it is true or not.

    What we end up with are ideologues thumping their Book of Materialist’s Rules, while they conveiniently hold a completely non-falsifiable assumption prior to the observable evidence (while pretending its all sciencetific and not really full of holes).

    One might think that if theories themselves must face falsification (as we have been told repeatedly) then surely any assumptions held prior to even looking at the evidence must face at least as high a critical limit.

    One might even wonder why ANYTHING (but reason itself) can be held prior to the evidence.

    Yet, with materialists that is not the case. They want to be able to play the same sleight of hand with the definitions (contributions and history) of meth-nat as they play with the term “evolution”.

    Even more interesting is this conversation in light of the fact that ID theory does not posit anything supernatural. Why? Simple…because it is not in the evidence.

    The materialist side of the argument constantly badgers the other side about bringing into science a metaphysical assumption (which is not even there), while they themselves hold a non-falsifiable assumption from the outset prior to any evidence.

    Hilarious.

  88. Couple things I’ve noticed while following this thread:

    1. I can’t find any ID critics who have provided a clear and useful definition of “natural” and “supernatural” as it relates to methodological naturalism. The closest is Acipenser, who states that methodological naturalism deals with, data, evidence, and reproducibility. In other words there is a reproducible method involved in the collection and interpretation of data. But of course, ID Theory is all about discovering which reproducible methods can be used to interpret data and discover the effects of previous intelligence.

    However, this still doesn’t bring us anywhere closer to defining the “naturalism” part of MN. It could just as well be labeled methodological “whateverism” so long as the methodology briefly explained by Acipenser above is followed.

    But, as StephenB has pointed out, there is definitely something different between that which causes events such as a burglary and that which causes events such as tornadoes. This separation of natural and supernatural is the separation of law+chance from agency and it is useful since there is no evidence that law+chance (absent intelligence) can produce intelligence, yet intelligence can at least harness law and can generate algorithms/laws(rules). This helps us to determine when only law is at work vs. when agency and law are at work.

    Even though I think that the separation is artificial in the sense that all that exists (including intelligence) is part of “nature”, if there was a separation between natural and supernatural, StephenB has provided the best explanation of that separation which is actually useful.

    2. Acipenser’s statements in #81 and 82 show that he does not seem to understand [or maybe just realize] that the methodology for discovering intelligence will not catch every instance of intelligence, especially if those instances can be described solely in terms of law+chance (absent previous intelligence), however every instance that the methodology does catch is necessarily a result of previous intelligence. This does work since there are events which are not defined by law, not best explained by chance, yet are routinely observed to require foresight.

  89. I would not hold my breath for any real answers to post 41.

    Indeed you shouldn’t, for a couple of reasons. First, Stephen still hasn’t provided an answer to agentoranges question in comment 3 that doesn’t involve equivocation (in his conflation of means and motives) or terms so poorly defined they are rendered essentially meaningless (i.e. design thinking).

    Second, by setting himself up as final arbiter of the definitions of natural and non-natural, Stephen has telegraphed that he doesn’t intend to treat any answers to his question fairly. Heads he wins, tails everyone else loses.

    The real test is out in the marketplace of scientific ideas. Despite his protestations, the notion of limiting science to natural explanations has paid innumerable dividends over the centuries. Stephen is either free to participate in that marketplace or regaled us with his own Expelled story. That he seems unwilling to do either speaks volumes.

    So, vivid or Upright Biped, do you want to take a crack at AO’s question in comment 3 or, alternatively, Acipenser’s in comment 78?

  90. efren ts:
    “So, vivid or Upright Biped, do you want to take a crack at AO’s question in comment 3 or, alternatively, Acipenser’s in comment 78?”

    Those questions are meaningless without a useful definition of “natural.” That is basically the unanswered question that StephenB is asking (#41).

    If anyone is going to use the terms natural and supernatural, they better have useful definitions which are relevant to how they are utilizing the terms.

    So far, the critics are busy just throwing around assertions containing terms that they haven’t bothered to define. How is anyone to provide a useful response? StephenB is the only one who has provided a useful definition of the terms as I mentioned above in comment #88.

    If I am wrong, just define the terms natural and supernatural in a manner consistent with how they are being used in those questions you are referring to.

  91. CJYman”In other words there is a reproducible method involved in the collection and interpretation of data.”

    I’m off to bed but thought I would address this before retiring. The above is only partially true. The other criteria that must be met is that the results are experimentally reproducible by others.

    CJYman:”But, as StephenB has pointed out, there is definitely something different between that which causes events such as a burglary and that which causes events such as tornadoes.”

    Well certainly I would think that the break-ins by bears or people would be different than the actions of weather. The above does not presume a belief that an intelligent agent could use anything in any manner it saw fit. That may be an incorrect assumption but a difficult one to deal with in data interpretation.

    CJYman:”Acipenser’s statements in #81 and 82 show that he does not seem to understand [or maybe just realize] that the methodology for discovering intelligence will not catch every instance of intelligence, especially if those instances can be described solely in terms of law+chance (absent previous intelligence), however every instance that the methodology does catch is necessarily a result of previous intelligence. This does work since there are events which are not defined by law, not best explained by chance, yet are routinely observed to require foresight.

    The question is has it caught any instances that can/will/might be presented to the scientific literature in published form?

  92. re 89

    “So, vivid or Upright Biped, do you want to take a crack at AO’s question in comment 3 or, alternatively, Acipenser’s in comment 78?”

    And the beat goes on. Still no answer forthcoming regarding 41.

    Vivid

  93. Still no answer forthcoming regarding 41.

    I lurked here for quie a while before signing up to comment. Many of the regular commenters have their own techniques for avoiding uncomfortable questions. Jerry, by his own admission, refuses to commit to any unequivocal statement. KF writes paragraph after paragraph of inpenetrable prose. StephenB’s favorite technique is to refuse to answer the uncomfortable question until his interrogator answers other questions in a manner Stephen finds acceptable. Of course, Stephen never finds such answers acceptable.

    Well, I am not playing that game. Or perhaps I should say I am not playing it on his terms. He needs to answer AOs question in comment 3 without resorting to hamhanded rhetorical tricks. Althernately, he could answer Aci’s question in 78, which does not require a commonly agreed to definition of natural.

    So, I wait.

  94. I think that StephenB regards intelligence as the product of a non-material process, that is, it is not the product of purely material processes in the brain.

    Am I right here ? If so, it explains most of the confusion that seems to blight these discussions.

  95. StephenB answers questions repeatedly. His sin is that he is thorough, and susses out exactly what is being asked – which typically involves exposing unspoken assumptions (such as the natural v supernatural distinction). Exposing these and asking for clarification and justification tends to make some original lines of questioning fall apart. That’s the cost of rational discourse.

    Calling his questioning “hamfisted rhetorical tricks” is – surprise – a hamfisted rhetorical trick. When the subject is “methodological naturalism”, I think asking someone to give a rigid definition of what is natural and what is not natural is entirely fair. That so many people are squirming on this point while apparently striving to defend “methodological naturalism” speaks volumes.

    Incidentally, I have my own deep disagreements with StephenB. In fact, I’ve gone toe to toe with him over MN in the past – defending it, insisting that it is a necessity of science, etc. And I’ve done so on this site. I have since changed my mind, in a big way. And the considerable amount of squirming, equivocation, and nonsense we’re seeing in this thread on behalf of MN-defenders played more than a small role in the changing of my mind.

  96. I too am interested in the definitions of natural and supernatural. Please enlighten me all ye evolutionists. :)

  97. The ‘evilutionists’ regard ‘natural’ causes, as those that can be observed, measured, etc and ‘supernatural’ as all the rest: gods, spirits, all that. Thus intelligent causes are just a sub-set of natural causes. One is blind and undirected, the other a result of an intelligent agent, but both are explainable in purely materialistic terms, ie: neither require gods, spirits, etc.

    However, I think StephenB regards Intelligence as a process that cannot be explained in purely materialistic terms, and this is what catches the evilutionists off guard. I think agentorange didnt get this (but I may be wrong).

    So, how am I going ? Is this a reasonable assesment so far ?

    If we cant agree on such a basic idea we had better give it away.

  98. Here is my proposal:

    Natural = non man-made, ie. opposed to ‘artificial’.

    Non-natural = man-made.

    ‘Supernatural’ = ‘unknown’ (for all intents and purposes).

    Question to ponder: are spiderwebs, beaver dams and termite mounds natural or non-natural? Under the scheme above they are obviously natural. Anyone wants to take a different view?

    fG

  99. Clive:

    I too am interested in the definitions of natural and supernatural. Please enlighten me all ye evolutionists.

    I am sure you are, but that still doesn’t change the fact Stephen has yet to answer several questions regarding his putative indictment of methodological naturalism.

  100. Faded Glory:

    Non-natural = man-made.

    In that case, someone better warn the anthropologists that they are violating methodological naturalism and it is only a matter of time before the biologists, with Eugenie Scott at the fore, expel them from the academy.

  101. Folks:

    I will not essay to once aqnd for all define “natural” and “supernatural,” but I can point out that we do routinely observe a pattern of sometimes interacting causal factors:

    1: mechanical necessity expressing itself in predictably lawlike deterministic physical forces and dynamics [e.g. newtonian dynamics and the like]

    2: High contingency exhibiting stochastic patterns that fit with one or other of the many random process statistical models, and tracing to chance [e.g. statistical mechanics and links to thermodynamic quantities such as temperature, pressure etc],

    3: Contingency tracing to purposeful intelligent cause [e.g. the highly contingent pattern of characters in ext as in this and other posts is credibly purposeful and not merely a manifestation of random statistical patterns]

    Different aspects of a given situation can in principle trace to one or more of these factors, and so it makes a lot of sense to create a general framework for empirically based explanatory investigations — AKA science — that can address the three in a balanced and straightforward fashion.

    (My modest proposal along these lines is here. Maybe someone can figure out how to post the image of the flowchart for me . . . but if so please do not link to the freebie site and overload its resources! [Would UD be willing to put up a copy and link from it?])

    With that framework in hand, I would propose that “natural” is most objectively and coherently used to imply that which traces to factors 1 and 2 separately or in combination, especially when we speak of spontaneous processes tracing to initial conditions that could as well have been that way as any other within a range of possible values with little material difference to the outcome.

    And, the most fruitful contrast to “natural” is then factor 3: art-ificially — i.e. intelligently — caused phenomena.

    This makes no metaphysical commitment, but enables us to address the legitimate question of the most credible causal factors at work objectively and empirically.

    The issue of the “supernatural” then comes up as a set of logically possible candidates for intelligent cause, per worldviews that suggest such [theism etc] and those that do not [materialism etc].

    Under certain circumstances it may then be more or less plausible that certain credibly or arguably intelligently caused phenomena — so identified by empirically tested and reliable signs of intelligence — are caused by agents that are beyond the material cosmos that we observe.

    It may even become relevant to discuss whether our minds exhibit the patterns that are characteristic of matter in motion solely under blind stochastic chance and deterministic laws from arbitrary initial conditions. (I think that evolutionary materialist accounts of the mind run into serious self referential incoherence, and here, in part, is why.)

    A good candidate for supernatural cause — in the sense of a powerful and very wise intelligence beyond the observed fine tuned cosmos — would be the creator of our observed cosmos.

    I also think that we may be able to eventually create artificial secondary intelligences [at least in a functional sense] using advanced computer technology. But notice, I am speaking here of an intelligently caused process carrying out creative information rich syntheses far beyond the capacity of chance + necessity alone on the gamut of our observed cosmos.

    Steve, does this help?

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

    PS: nullasalus, welcome aboard.

    PPS: FG, I would adjust:

    Natural = non man-made, ie. opposed to ‘artificial’ [or intelligently and purposefully caused].

    Non-natural = man-made [or caused by a comparable intelligent, purposeful cause . . . room for Kzinti, Treecats and R Daneel Olivaw etc . .. ].

  102. ET:

    MN as exclusionary rule is ONLY brought to bear when assertions and assumptions of evolutionary materialism are directly under challenge.

    G

  103. KF:

    MN as exclusionary rule is ONLY brought to bear when assertions and assumptions of evolutionary materialism are directly under challenge.

    Take it up with Stephen who, in the third paragraph of the OP, refers to it as a “universally binding rule.” Or do you all have a different definition for “universal”, as well.

    This is for you, Clive:

    When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

  104. ‘Supernatural’ = ‘unknown’ (for all intents and purposes).

    That one doesn’t work, FG.

    If it’s unknown it’s unknown. In fact, to declare the unknown as supernatural would end science as we know it.

    Supernatural means not bound by the laws of physics.

    The smart thing to do is to take the existence of the Judeo-Christian God as axiomatic and work from there.

  105. kairosfocus @ 101

    MN as exclusionary rule is ONLY brought to bear when assertions and assumptions of evolutionary materialism are directly under challenge.

    What MN refuses to accept, as you should, are unsubstantiated claims.

  106. tribune7 @ 103

    The smart thing to do is to take the existence of the Judeo-Christian God as axiomatic and work from there.

    The smarter thing to do is to start with what we can observe and work from there. Unfortunately, we do not observe a god, Judeo-Christian or otherwise.

    103

    tribune7

    01/31/2010

    9:50 am

    ‘Supernatural’ = ‘unknown’ (for all intents and purposes).

    That one doesn’t work, FG.

    If it’s unknown it’s unknown. In fact, to declare the unknown as supernatural would end science as we know it.

    Supernatural means not bound by the laws of physics.

    The smart thing to do is to take the existence of the Judeo-Christian God as axiomatic and work from there.

  107. nullasalus:
    “Incidentally, I have my own deep disagreements with StephenB. In fact, I’ve gone toe to toe with him over MN in the past – defending it, insisting that it is a necessity of science, etc. And I’ve done so on this site. I have since changed my mind, in a big way. And the considerable amount of squirming, equivocation, and nonsense we’re seeing in this thread on behalf of MN-defenders played more than a small role in the changing of my mind.”

    nullasalus, your views seem to be quite close to mine, except that I see the difference between “natural” and “supernatural” (as StephenB has defined the terms) as artificial, yet useful as I’ve briefly mentioned above in #88.

    There seems to still be no useful definition of “natural” and “supernatural” other than what StephenB has offered? How are the critics to impose MN if they can’t even tell us what it means in a useful, non-contradictory manner?

    BTW, during this discussion of MN, I have become more agnostic towards the use of MN in science. I still see the division between natural and supernatural as artificial, since “nature” includes all that exists. Our knowledge keeps expanding and thus what used to be “supernatural” (ie: not-understandable) in the future becomes “natural” as we understand it. Yet, there are patterns and events which are not defined by law, however still exist within nature. StephenB’s example of the burgler vs. the tornado as causal explanation is a great example. So those patterns and events are natural in the sense of existing, and existing in nature, yet those patterns and events are supernatural in the sense of not being defined by law. So I’m back at the distinction between natural and supernatural as being artificial yet useful to distinguish law+chance from agency.

    So, does science require MN? It sure does require an objective and repeatable methodology, and one that investigates that which is “real” — “natural” — yet there is no good reason for only including explanations that boil down to law+chance since there do objectively exist patterns and events which are neither defined by law, nor best explained by chance, yet have been observed to require the application of foresight (agency). Furthermore, if intelligence is indeed not attainable from a random set of laws (law+chance absent previous intelligence), then it is indeed supernatural if one defines nature as “law+chance.” And then, these comments we are writing become partly “supernatural.” As seen here, the supernatural doesn’t have to be spooky and include “gods and demons” or angels pushing around spheres. What’s more, the “supernatural”, as defined by StephenB, can be investigated through objective, repeatable, probabilistic measurements and inference from observation.

    That is my answer to this conundrum so far.

  108. Folks:

    First, I have already put down a far more reasonable analytical framework that is not burdened with a priori metaphysical commitments that there either must not be or are specific entities beyond the world of material objects. (Though, I must note that the properies of mind to ground the enterprise of reason, are radically different from those of material objects in space-time. So, if one imagines that there are no pointers that art least arguably beyond the matter-energy space-time, force and inertia dynamics and parameters of the physicalist view, one is doing so a priori and in the teeth of some serious evidence; by exerting self-referentially inconsistent selective hyperskepticism.)

    It seems I need to cite two key notes on the matter:

    First, Lewontin in his infamous Jan 1997 NYRB review:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [“Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis added.]

    And here is Johnson’s richly deserved corrective, November 1997:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” 

    . . . .   The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. When the public understands this clearly, Lewontin’s Darwinism will start to move out of the science curriculum and into the department of intellectual history, where it can gather dust on the shelf next to Lewontin’s Marxism. [The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77, pp. 22 – 25.]

    So, who is begging questions now, and who is grounded on the world of experience as minded en-conscienced creatures — our first and only direct empirical datum! — I ask you.

    Remember, science at its best should be . . .

    the unfettered (but intellectually and ethically responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, based on observations, inferred explanations/ modelling/ theorising and analytical discussion among the informed

    the problem with imposing a priori materialism — what motivates and in fact defines what methodological naturalism in the relevant sense since the 1980′s is about — is that it censors origins sciecne from eing able to be an unfettered pursuit of the truth about origins, and is intellectually and ethically irresponsible. once the public understands that clearly, it does not matter wehatthe magisterium tries, they will have lost all credibility.

    And that is why every effort is being bent above to cloud the issue or distract attention from it. Moreover, that is why the idea and question of what “nature” is and whether it is equivalent to reality, are so centrally important.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  109. CJYman:”StephenB’s example of the burgler vs. the tornado as causal explanation is a great example. ”

    The example presented by StephenB only works if we can agree that control of natural forces are beyond the scope of an intelligent agent responsible for creating the universe. If the intelligent agent is, however, capable of controlling and influencing natural forces, i.e., tornados, ect, then we cannot rule out the possibility that the ransacking of the house was caused by this intelligent agent and not bears or humans.

    We will need to establish how we would go about ruling this possibility out, i.e., how do we detect this type of design and how do we deal with the data/information if we cannot rule out this designer.

    So can we agree that intelligent agents cannot influence (and control) natural forces and thus rule out this possibility?

  110. KF:

    And that is why every effort is being bent above to cloud the issue or distract attention from it.

    Indeed. A perfectly legitimate question was posed in comment 3 that has not been answered except with rhetorical devices, which were laid bare in my comment 60 above, or by attempts to divert the discussion to ancillary ground. One might say that Stephen has soaked a strawman in the oil of ad nauseum and set ablaze, generating the smoke of obfuscation.

  111. PS: I will set aside, for the moment, another reasonable question posed in comment 78, which should be trivially answered if the proposition advanced in the OP is to be believed.

  112. PPS: I will also note, KF, that you have failed to address the disparity between Stephen’s assertion of MN being a “universally binding rule” and your assertion that it applies only to biology.

  113. Acipenser #109:
    “The example presented by StephenB only works if we can agree that control of natural forces are beyond the scope of an intelligent agent responsible for creating the universe. If the intelligent agent is, however, capable of controlling and influencing natural forces, i.e., tornados, ect, then we cannot rule out the possibility that the ransacking of the house was caused by this intelligent agent and not bears or humans.

    We will need to establish how we would go about ruling this possibility out, i.e., how do we detect this type of design and how do we deal with the data/information if we cannot rule out this designer.”

    So can we agree that intelligent agents cannot influence (and control) natural forces and thus rule out this possibility?”

    I already dealt with this in my comment #88, point 2, which you even quoted in your comment #91, but apparently forgot already.

    Basically, the Explanatory Filter flows from chance and law to intelligence, so there is possibility for false negatives, but so far no one has shown any false positives. So the methodology for detecting design is akin to a filter in which, when it does catch something, we can be reasonably certain that a previous intelligence was responsible. However, when law+chance can explain said event, we defer to law+chance.

  114. Seversky — Unfortunately, we do not observe a god, Judeo-Christian or otherwise.

    There are a lot of things some don’t observe but whose existence they infer, well, like evolution from a single common ancestor :-).

    Regardless, reason tells us that something operating outside of nature caused nature to come to be — how can the laws of nature create nature? –; that the order that exists in nature indicates this cause to be intelligent and purposeful; and that this creator does not arbitrarily violate the laws of nature as the gods of the Romans and perhaps the god of Islam.

    So, the smartest thing to do is to take the existence of the Judeo-Christian God as axiomatic and work from there.:-)

  115. So, does science require MN?
    OK everyone, ponder this: would positing a demon interacting with the material world be science?

  116. efren ts:
    “A perfectly legitimate question was posed in comment 3 that has not been answered except with rhetorical devices, which were laid bare in my comment 60 above, or by attempts to divert the discussion to ancillary ground.”

    There can be no answer to those questions until “nature” and “supernatural” are usefully defined, so that they can be utilized in a non-contradictory manner in context of the critics definition of methodological naturalism as used in those questions, which is exactly what StephenB is asking for in #41. As I’ve already explained in #90 and #107 above, StephenB has been the only one here to provide a useful (although ultimately artificial) definition of natural and supernatural.

    Your comment #3 and #60 also requires you to define nature — you state “using nature to explain nature (methodological naturalism).” So, what exactly do you mean by those terms. You are using them, so you must have a good definition of “nature” so that you can apply it to “using nature to explain nature (methodological naturalism).” However, if that is indeed your definition of MN (“using nature to explain nature”), which your quote seems to imply then that is merely more circular, ill-defined, “gobeldegook” as they say. There can be no answer to your questions until you provide a useful and non-contradictory definition of “nature” as opposed to “super-nature.” It seems that this post of StephenB’s is right on the money.

    … And you accuse StephenB of obfuscation??????? At least he has usefully defined the demarcation between natural and supernatural, which is something you have yet to do. You merely make assertions and ask ill-formed questions while refusing to define the relevant terms.

    efron ts:
    “PS: I will set aside, for the moment, another reasonable question posed in comment 78, which should be trivially answered if the proposition advanced in the OP is to be believed.”

    The answer to that question I believe is blatantly obvious … the possible inclusion of intelligence as a causal factor.

    efron ts:
    “PPS: I will also note, KF, that you have failed to address the disparity between Stephen’s assertion of MN being a “universally binding rule” and your assertion that it applies only to biology.”

    Did StephenB state that MN is a universally binding rule, or did he state that many scientist believe that MN is a universally binding principle? I’m not sure I follow the question. Could you clear that up for me please.

  117. CYJman:”The answer to that question I believe is blatantly obvious … the possible inclusion of intelligence as a causal factor.”

    In the case of the existence of of an intelligent agent the answer to all of the questions posed in #41 would be that they are all possibly events directed by an intelligent agent.

    CYJman:”I already dealt with this in my comment #88, point 2, which you even quoted in your comment #91, but apparently forgot already.

    Basically, the Explanatory Filter flows from chance and law to intelligence, so there is possibility for false negatives, but so far no one has shown any false positives. So the methodology for detecting design is akin to a filter in which, when it does catch something, we can be reasonably certain that a previous intelligence was responsible. However, when law+chance can explain said event, we defer to law+chance.”

    I didn’t forget your answer but felt that the answer was so vague as to have little defining power. For example the arbitrary assignment of something to the realm of law and chance while ignoring the possibility of an intelligent agent may certainly generate a lot of false negatives which detracts from any ability to make any meaningful predictions. I also don’t know of any examples of positives let alone false postives made from any analysis or predictions.

    tribune7:Regardless, reason tells us that something operating outside of nature caused nature to come to be — how can the laws of nature create nature? –; that the order that exists in nature indicates this cause to be intelligent and purposeful; and that this creator does not arbitrarily violate the laws of nature as the gods of the Romans and perhaps the god of Islam.”

    Where would events like those claimed for Fatima fit in if not in the arbitrary violation of the laws of nature?

    tribune7″So, does science require MN?
    OK everyone, ponder this: would positing a demon interacting with the material world be science?”

    Only if we can definitively seperate the influences of demons from ghosts and fairies on the material world. Once we can do this the hypothesis testing can begin but until we can we can only speculate with a distinct inability to perform any tests of our hypotheses.

  118. Acipenser–would positing a demon interacting with the material world be science?” . . .Only if we can definitively seperate the influences of demons from ghosts and fairies on the material world.

    The demon would not be part of the material world. It cannot be measured nor be subject to a controlled experiment. It would, however, be able to affect the material world.

    Is considering the possibility of such a thing science? :-)

  119. Sorry Acipenser, I missed this.

    Where would events like those claimed for Fatima fit in if not in the arbitrary violation of the laws of nature?

    Or the Resurrection. They would not be arbitrary but violations of the laws of physics done with a specific point, namely to show that the temporal laws are temporal, and that we must not forget the more important thing which is the eternal.

    You can still believe in Fatima (and the Resurrection) as you design a new airplane or plan a road through the woodlands without being afraid of invoking the wrath of God, at least as far as the science and engineering go. Now, if you are stealing the land or using shoddy materials that would be a different subject, but even there the wrath would not come via a failure of physics.

  120. tribune7:”The demon would not be part of the material world. It cannot be measured nor be subject to a controlled experiment. It would, however, be able to affect the material world.

    Is considering the possibility of such a thing science?

    If the effects on the material world are observable then you can measure and quantify those effects on the material world so it would be fairly easy for you to generate hypotheses to test your premise. You would still, however, have to be able to determine how to seperate/assign those effects to demons while not mistaking the actions of fairies, ghosts, leprechans, angels, ect. from those of the demon(s). Can you do this?

  121. tribune7 @ 114

    There are a lot of things some don’t observe but whose existence they infer, well, like evolution from a single common ancestor :-) .

    Quite true, and our confidence in the accuracy of those inferences depends on the material evidence we can find to substantiate them.

    Regardless, reason tells us that something operating outside of nature caused nature to come to be — how can the laws of nature create nature? –; that the order that exists in nature indicates this cause to be intelligent and purposeful; and that this creator does not arbitrarily violate the laws of nature as the gods of the Romans and perhaps the god of Islam.

    Honesty compels us to admit that as yet we simply don’t know why the Universe is as it is, who or what caused it to be this way or what, if anything, preceded it.

    Yes, it is a large gap in our knowledge and if you want to plug a god into it, you can. It is still an argument from ignorance, though.

    So, the smartest thing to do is to take the existence of the Judeo-Christian God as axiomatic and work from there.:-)

    The scientific thing to do is to be guided by Ockham’s Razor and accept that we are far from the point where we have identified all naturalistic possibilities let alone exhausted them so we have no need yet to invoke a deity as an explanation.

  122. tribune7:”Or the Resurrection. They would not be arbitrary but violations of the laws of physics done with a specific point, namely to show that the temporal laws are temporal, and that we must not forget the more important thing which is the eternal.”

    You are presuming to know the motives of the intelligent agent but you cannot know if your musings are true or not. It is just as likely that the event was an arbitrary act perhaps after a bout of hiccups or such. We have no way of knowing one way or the other.

    tribune7:”You can still believe in Fatima (and the Resurrection) as you design a new airplane or plan a road through the woodlands without being afraid of invoking the wrath of God, at least as far as the science and engineering go.”

    That doesn’t logically follow. If the laws may be suspended at any moment you would have no idea if your design would work since the premises on which that design were made may change at any point in time. It would be of little comfort to the passengers of the plane to know that the engineers designed the aircraft based on laws that are flexible and known to change.

    Using Occam’s razor a better explanation for Fatima is the well known and documented effect on staring into the sun and its effect on visual hallucinations. Or we can believe that the billions of other people in the world just happened to miss the sun spinning around, moving and changing colors.

  123. 123

    Yesterday, StephenB said:

    —-Adel DiBagno: “I think StephenB may misunderstand the difference between primary and secondary causation as construed by such medieval thinkers as the Angelic Doctor (ca. 1225-1274):”
    You think wrongly. I know all about St. Thomas and his position on Divine causality, just as I know that your attempt to link it to this discussion reflects a superficial understanding of it. How remarkable it is that Darwinists will go to such lengths to evade issues and duck questions.

    I would enjoy being as confident as you claim to be that I knew all about St Thomas and his position on a subject. But thankfully you have a deeper understanding of God’s relationship to secondary causality. It would be a kindness that I could not easily repay if you would correct my ignorance in some detail – if possible without resorting to irrelevant ad hominems. And tell me why that subject is not relevant to the topic of your OP.

  124. tribune7 @ 15

    OK everyone, ponder this: would positing a demon interacting with the material world be science?

    You can posit whatever you like but, to be useful as an explanation in science, you must describe what it is intended to explain, show that it explains the phenomenon under investigation better than competing explanations and provide means of testing it so that we can decide which is the best.

  125. Acipenser:
    “In the case of the existence of of an intelligent agent the answer to all of the questions posed in #41 would be that they are all possibly events directed by an intelligent agent.”

    First, the question in #41 has to do with how the critic is going to define his terms — “natural” and “supernatural” — in a useful way so that MN can then be imposed. That has yet to happen on this thread.

    Second, sure theoretically all events could be directed by an intelligence, but apart from mere possibilities (in which the cause could be either intelligence or law+chance, 50-50), which events allow us to arrive at a reasonably certain design inference?

    Acipenser:
    “I didn’t forget your answer but felt that the answer was so vague as to have little defining power.”

    Well, then you “felt” wrong.

    Acipenser:
    “For example the arbitrary assignment of something to the realm of law and chance while ignoring the possibility of an intelligent agent may certainly generate a lot of false negatives which detracts from any ability to make any meaningful predictions.”

    What arbitrary assignment? Did I post these explanations for you:
    -http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/polanyi-and-ontogenetic-emergence/#comment-337588
    -http://www.uncommondescent.com/philosophy/what-is-intelligence/#comment-341828
    -http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/id-and-common-descent/comment-page-5/#comment-345511

    How do false negatives hinder us in making predictions such as “if life is the results of intelligence it will contain CSI” or “law+chance absent intelligence will not generate CSI” or “there is a definite correlation between foresight and organized, specified, events which are neither defined by law nor best explained by chance.”

    Acipenser:
    “I also don’t know of any examples of positives let alone false postives made from any analysis or predictions.”

    Merely generate CSI (as I’ve shown how to calculate above) from law+chance absent intelligence. Random.org will come in handy for the random generation of parameters for the laws. There will be your false positive if you … er … the randomly generated set of laws succeed in forming these events which are neither defined by law nor chance, yet are observed to require foresight in their generation.

    Acipenser:
    “If the effects on the material world are observable then you can measure and quantify those effects on the material world so it would be fairly easy for you to generate hypotheses to test your premise.”

    Already done. I’m wondering, how much have you read on ID Theory? Anything by Trevors and Abel or Dembski or Dembski and Marks?

    Acipenser:
    “You would still, however, have to be able to determine how to seperate/assign those effects to demons while not mistaking the actions of fairies, ghosts, leprechans, angels, ect. from those of the demon(s). Can you do this?”

    I’m sorry, but I might not be following along your reasoning here. Why would we have to separate such things? What would a potential lack of separation do to effect the reliability of detecting intelligence? How do we know these other things actually exist and how are you defining them?

  126. [QUOTE]Acipenser:
    “You would still, however, have to be able to determine how to seperate/assign those effects to demons while not mistaking the actions of fairies, ghosts, leprechans, angels, ect. from those of the demon(s). Can you do this?”

    CYJman:”I’m sorry, but I might not be following along your reasoning here. Why would we have to separate such things? What would a potential lack of separation do to effect the reliability of detecting intelligence? How do we know these other things actually exist and how are you defining them?” [/QUOTE]

    My answer was in response to tribunes query about the study of demons and the effects they have on the material world. If you are collecting data on some observable and quantifiable events and you are going to attribute those findings to demons then you do need to not only establish their (demons)existence but define how we assign those effects to demons to the exclusion of angels, ghosts, and all the others I listed and did not list. Otherwise you would be in error in atributes to the demons since many other entities may have been responsible for the observations.

    I would agree with your asking how we know that any of these things exist in the first place.

    [QUOTE}Acipenser:
    “If the effects on the material world are observable then you can measure and quantify those effects on the material world so it would be fairly easy for you to generate hypotheses to test your premise.”

    Already done. I’m wondering, how much have you read on ID Theory? Anything by Trevors and Abel or Dembski or Dembski and Marks?[/QUOTE]

    you are taking my answers out of context and trying to fit them into something other than they were intended to address. When are the publications coming out with the results of the hypotheses testing? I am assuming that these are actual calculations for actual biological entities and not probability calculations of the tornado in a junkyard form.

    [QUOTE]Merely generate CSI (as I’ve shown how to calculate above) from law+chance absent intelligence.[/QUOTE]

    How do we calculate the CSI of a intelligent agent created tornado given that intelligent agents, of the sort we are discussing, have the admitted capability of creating tornados? What characteristics would an intelligently created tornado possess that a tornado generated from law and chance would not have or is there no way to identify design for something as simple as a tornado?

    [QUOTE]First, the question in #41 has to do with how the critic is going to define his terms — “natural” and “supernatural” — in a useful way so that MN can then be imposed. That has yet to happen on this thread.[/QUOTE]

    There were a number of questions @41 and the answer to pretty much all of them would be possible intelligent agent involvment in all cases. Unless we have the methodology to rule intelligent agency actions out we must include it in all of our considerations.

    [QUOTE]Second, sure theoretically all events could be directed by an intelligence, but apart from mere possibilities (in which the cause could be either intelligence or law+chance, 50-50), which events allow us to arrive at a reasonably certain design inference?[/QUOTE]

    The answer would have to be both all and none. If the possibility exists of intelligent agent acting then we have no rational reason to rule that out over what you call law and chance but it jsut as likely to be nothing more than due diligence on the part of an intelligent agent.

  127. CYJman”How do false negatives hinder us in making predictions”

    Using a methodoogy that generates many false negatives demonstrates that there are problems with the method and brings into direct question the possibility of its accuracy in making positive predictions as well.

    New chemicals and drugs entering into commerce are required to be tested for reproductive toxicity. Would you be comfortable in having a method used for this testing if it generated many false negatives?

  128. meant to add this to #127:

    If a method generates many false negatives it is important to know how many false negatives are generated to calculate the probability of a correct prediction. If the method is only correct half the time or less it is not of much value as a tool for doing anything. Guessing would give equal or perhaps better odds in that case. What percentage of false negatives are generated when this method is applied?

  129. —-Adel Dibagnio: “I would enjoy being as confident as you claim to be that I knew all about St Thomas and his position on a subject. But thankfully you have a deeper understanding of God’s relationship to secondary causality. It would be a kindness that I could not easily repay if you would correct my ignorance in some detail – if possible without resorting to irrelevant ad hominems. And tell me why that subject is not relevant to the topic of your OP.

    Sorry, if I rattled your cage, but you rattled mine first. Inasmuch as you began your comment speculating that I did not know what St. Thomas means by secondary causes, which is not the case, and without explaining how that ties in to the present theme, which would seem to be in order, I don’t think my response was inappropriate. You are, after all, among that happy throng that continues to inject new irrelevancies without answering my old questions or even confronting them. Still, I will try to be a kindler, gentler, blogger.

    It is not my task, though, to explain why secondary causality doesn’t tie in to the present discussion; it is your task to explain why it does, tying it in with my criticism of MN, using my examples [Pompei vs. Valcano], [Tornado vs. Burglar]. It will not do to just throw it out there with the claim that I don’t understand that subject, which, as it turns out, is not in play here—unless, of course, you think God used secondary causes to produce Pompei and the burglar.

  130. Acipenser:
    “When are the publications coming out with the results of the hypotheses testing?”

    When people start applying the hypothesis. What does asking for a timeline have to do with defining “natural,” “supernatural,” and imposing the rule of MN against ID Theory?

    Acipenser:
    “How do we calculate the CSI of a intelligent agent created tornado given that intelligent agents, of the sort we are discussing, have the admitted capability of creating tornados?”

    The tornado is definable in terms of law+chance. We thus defer to law. From a scientific viewpoint, there is no need to invoke an intelligence. You can discuss the options philosophically or religiously, however this thread is about science and its relation to what some people have called “methodological naturalism” as well as requiring critics of ID, who rule out ID on account of MN, to define “natural” and “supernatural” so that it can be utilized in the term “methodological naturalism.”

    Ancipenser:
    “What characteristics would an intelligently created tornado possess that a tornado generated from law and chance would not have or is there no way to identify design for something as simple as a tornado?”

    There is no method for identifying intelligence in such an event.

    Acipenser:
    “There were a number of questions @41 and the answer to pretty much all of them would be possible intelligent agent involvment in all cases. Unless we have the methodology to rule intelligent agency actions out we must include it in all of our considerations.”

    First, the main question was for those who “impose” MN as a way of disqualifying ID Theory from science to usefully define “natural” and “supernatural” in such a way that it can be used in the term “methodological naturalism.” So far this has not been done. I can see the reason why StephenB has written this thread.

    Second, the purpose of ID Theory is not to rule out intelligence. From a scientific and parsimonious viewpoint, intelligence as a *required* cause is already ruled out if law+chance can define an event. The purpose is to rule out law+chance while detecting a previous *required* intelligence. If there is no need for parsimony, and one is willing to consider metaphysics, theology, and philosophy, then yes our investigation can proceed in a different direction but the purpose of this thread is to look at ID Theory from a scientific viewpoint, which is how it is indeed formulated. That is why we are dealing with the definitions of “nature,” “supernatural,” “MN” and how these terms relate to ID Theory.

    Acipenser:
    “The answer would have to be both all and none. If the possibility exists of intelligent agent acting then we have no rational reason to rule that out over what you call law and chance but it jsut as likely to be nothing more than due diligence on the part of an intelligent agent.”

    Yet, when we can rule out law and chance and infer intelligence, there is no scientific reason not to do so. Agreed, or no?

    Acipenser:
    “Using a methodoogy that generates many false negatives demonstrates that there are problems with the method and brings into direct question the possibility of its accuracy in making positive predictions as well.”

    Incorrect. A filter that is meant to only catch intelligence is working perfectly fine as long as it only catches intelligence.

    Acipenser:
    “New chemicals and drugs entering into commerce are required to be tested for reproductive toxicity. Would you be comfortable in having a method used for this testing if it generated many false negatives?”

    What are the problems of false negatives with the EF? The only “problem” is that events which are definable in terms of law+chance, from a scientific viewpoint, don’t require intelligence and indeed are the result of law+chance. From a scientific viewpoint I’m perfectly fine with that, are you? Why wouldn’t you be? Remember, we are dealing with this from a scientific viewpoint, since ID Theory is formulated as a scientific theory. The purpose of the EF is to catch previous intelligence through the examination of events which are neither defined by law nor chance. Does this work? Is that a scientific question?

    So still no useful definition of “natural” and “supernatural?” Does StephenB have a point in stating that MN does not rule out ID Theory from being considered scientifically since the critics can’t usefully and in a non-contradictory manner define “natural” and “supernatural?”

  131. “Jerry, by his own admission, refuses to commit to any unequivocal statement”

    I have no idea where such an assessment could come from. I am not even sure what this statement means.

    I made a joke a couple weeks ago about avoiding questions after answering several and in great detail. Something I have never found any anti ID person do. I was trying to illustrate absurdity with absurdity. I go to great lengths to answer questions and often in great detail. So my statement was an obvious absurdity meant to emphasize the lack of such a response from anyone who it anti ID.

    When I do not respond to something it is because these things have been answered several times in the past so sometimes I do not bother repeating the obvious.

  132. StephenB @ 72
    My apologies for not replying sooner. In skimming through the posts earlier I overlooked your reply

    Seversky, you just invested 2958 words without addressing my question @41. You did venture forth a definition so you definitely get points for that, but filling up cyberspace with an unduly long post will not suffice as a demonstration that your definition is usable.

    My apologies again for the undue length of that post. I had no idea it was that many words. In my own defense I should point out that it must have been the longest post I have ever written and that there are a few contributors here, such as Kairosfocus, who routinely write much longer posts than I would normally.

    If all causes are “natural,” then how do you distinguish the cause of all the artifacts found in ancient Pompei from the cause of the volcano that buried them. How do you even know that Pompei existed as a civilization. Maybe natural forces only made it appear that way. Maybe natural forces built all the archives.

    The problem here lies in the confusion of two usages of the word “natural”: natural as opposed to supernatural and natural as opposed to artificial.

    We recognize the ruins of Pompeii as artificial by their similarity to other products of human artifice. We recognize the volcanic debris at Pompeii as natural by its similarity to that of other volcanoes and its dissimilarity to anything human beings routinely design.

    The first problem for ID lies not in recognizing human design, we can all do that quite easily, but in reliably identifying design regardless of the designer. The second problem is that, given you have some proposal for a method of identifying all design reliably, how do you prove it? You can test it here on Earth to see if it can discriminate between designed-by-humans and not-designed-by-humans but, until you have a range of alien technology to test it on, there seems to be no way to determine if it can reliably detect non-human design.

  133. CYJman:”When people start applying the hypothesis. What does asking for a timeline have to do with defining “natural,” “supernatural,” and imposing the rule of MN against ID Theory?”

    Any idea when that will be? Asking for forecast publication dates is only for my personal knowledge and has nothing to do with definitions and was never intended to address any question.

    It hasn’t been demonstrated that anything has been imposed on ID via MN in any form. If ID can provide the methods of research, the results derived from experiments utilizing those methods, and formulates their conclusions based on their evidence without overreaching/overstating what those results mean then there are a multitude of journals that would publish the research.

    If anyone from any field comes up short on any of those counts they will be told to try again and do better next time. ID can step up to the plate anytime it wishes and there were agencies willing to fund such research but no one bothered to submit any proposals.

    CYJman “The tornado is definable in terms of law+chance. ”

    It is also definable as agency created and the question is how would you detect the design, or not detect the design to rule out that possibility.

    CYJman”From a scientific viewpoint, there is no need to invoke an intelligence.”

    That only applies if you insist that no one can use design thinking in conducting their science.

    CYJman”Yet, when we can rule out law and chance and infer intelligence, there is no scientific reason not to do so. Agreed, or no?”

    That would depend soley on the methods used to rule out law and chance before any inferences could ever be drawn. You would also have to address other possible contigencies and rule them out as well before inferring an unknown intelligence as a default.

    CYJman:”Incorrect. A filter that is meant to only catch intelligence is working perfectly fine as long as it only catches intelligence.”

    You don’t know that is the case in real-world application of the proposed filter. You are making a prediction that the filter only catches intelligence but there is nothing that demonstrates this with a collection of data. That is the next step that needs to be taken which I suppose encompasses someone actually stepping up and testing the hypotheses mentioned earlier.

    I’ll have to address your other points later I’m off to a dinner out with friends.

  134. Seversky– The scientific thing to do is to be guided by Ockham’s Razor and accept that we are far from the point where we have identified all naturalistic possibilities (with regard to the existence of the universe etc.)

    Name one naturalistic possibility that has not been identified.

  135. Seversky

    would positing a demon interacting with the material world be science? . . .You can posit whatever you like but, to be useful as an explanation in science, you must describe what it is intended to explain, show that it explains the phenomenon under investigation better than competing explanations and provide means of testing it so that we can decide which is the best.

    OK, you seem to be agreeing that positing the demon can be science. But how would that not be the anti-thesis of meth-nat?

  136. Acipenser —

    If the laws may be suspended at any moment you would have no idea

    The idea is that the laws would not be, which is the same as saying the laws of physics won’t arbitrarily not be.

    Why do you believe the laws of physics can’t change on a whim?

    And this is why the axiomatic assumption of the existence of a God who follows that rule is important. Fatima, The Resurrection etc. would not be “any moment” but specific moments to teach people that living solely for material expediency is a fruitless thing.

  137. Acipenser:
    “It hasn’t been demonstrated that anything has been imposed on ID via MN in any form.”

    So you are stating that no one has ever contended that ID is not science because it does not follow the rules of methodological naturalism?

    Acipenser:
    “If ID can provide the methods of research, the results derived from experiments utilizing those methods, and formulates their conclusions based on their evidence without overreaching/overstating what those results mean then there are a multitude of journals that would publish the research.”

    The research as to methods of detecting design have already been published, although recently. In a bit of time, these methods will be applied to actual systems. Actually, Trevors and Abel have already discussed formal organization, within published papers, as it applies to living systems.

    Acipenser:
    “If anyone from any field comes up short on any of those counts they will be told to try again and do better next time. ID can step up to the plate anytime it wishes and there were agencies willing to fund such research but no one bothered to submit any proposals.”

    Which ID research have you looked through again? I’m not sure you answered this question when I asked you earlier. I only ask again, since it seems you are completely unaware of published material relevant to ID Theory. ID Theory has indeed already stepped up to the plate.

    CYJman “The tornado is definable in terms of law+chance. ”

    Acipenser:
    “It is also definable as agency created and the question is how would you detect the design, or not detect the design to rule out that possibility.”

    Actually, as I already explained, science is parsimonious so in this case, there is no need to invoke intelligence when intelligence is not *required* since chance+law can define said phenomenon. Did you miss that part of my last comment? ID Theory is about finding causal factors which are *required* to explain a given phenomenon.

    CYJman”From a scientific viewpoint, there is no need to invoke an intelligence.”

    Acipenser:
    “That only applies if you insist that no one can use design thinking in conducting their science.”

    How?!?! When chance+law define an event we state that law+chance causes that event. Why invoke *unnecessary* causal factors, especially when involved in a parsimonious investigation such as science? Furthermore, when an aspect of intelligence, such as foresight is *required* to explain an event and law+chance can be negated, we state that intelligence was *required* as a causal factor.
    How would that be possible if we weren’t allowed to use design thinking in conducting science?

    CYJman”Yet, when we can rule out law and chance and infer intelligence, there is no scientific reason not to do so. Agreed, or no?”

    Acipenser:
    “That would depend soley on the methods used to rule out law and chance before any inferences could ever be drawn.”

    Of course that would depend on the methods. I’m assuming, for the sake of the statement, that there is a reliable methodology. So, if there were such a methodology, you would agree with the statement it appears.

    So you seem to have no problem in principle with a properly formed ID Theory being a part of science, correct?

    Acipenser:
    “You would also have to address other possible contigencies and rule them out as well before inferring an unknown intelligence as a default.”

    You do realize that by saying “other contingencies” you are stating nothing more than “other chances?” Chance is chance. High contingency on its own is indicative of chance.

    Furthermore, intelligence isn’t just the default once law+chance are ruled out. Intelligence is inferred based on observation of the effects of foresight.

    CYJman:”Incorrect. A filter that is meant to only catch intelligence is working perfectly fine as long as it only catches intelligence.”

    Acipenser:
    “You don’t know that is the case in real-world application of the proposed filter. You are making a prediction that the filter only catches intelligence but there is nothing that demonstrates this with a collection of data.”

    Again, ID Theory is an inference — an extrapolation of observation — just as evolutionary theory.

    First, I only provided a response to your fallacious claim that false negatives were a problem in dealing with a filter that is supposed to catch only intelligence. The filter is used in such a way that false negatives do not matter within the context of a scientific investigation which proposes to catch instances where intelligence is a *necessary* cause. That is all that ID THeory as presently formulated is interested in — catching instances where intelligence is *required;* a *necessary* cause. If you wish to provide a method whereby a non-necessary intelligence can be detected then go ahead and do so, but there is as of yet none out there and, based on the idea of scientific parsimony, I have reason to suspect that such a methodology can not exist.

    Second, I’ve provided the hypothesis and yes I have made a prediction. Merely show a collection of law+chance+whatever you want (absent intelligence) and show it generating CSI, and you will have falsified an ID hypothesis. So long as a collection of data run through the EF, reliably pulls out only those patterns which *require* intelligence as a *necessary* cause, then it works. This can be tested via computer simulations, where random sets of laws with random parameters are run. Will this produce CSI, further information processing systems, evolutionary algorithms, or any type of highly improbable formal organization?

    Have fun, and I’ll catch up with you here later, hopefully.

  138. Seversky, I offer you a tip of the hat. Among all your colleagues, you are the only one willing to address the issue. I will be respectful of that effort.

    You wrote: “The problem here lies in the confusion of two usages of the word “natural”: natural as opposed to supernatural and natural as opposed to artificial.”

    Here we come to the first difficulty. Splitting the word in two sections, “natural-natural” vs “natural-artificial simply compounds the problem. Now we have three undefined words, natural-natural, natural-artificial, and supernatural.

    Also, take note of the fact that MN does not use those differences in its official definition:

    “Methodological naturalism is the label for the required assumption of philosophical naturalism when working with the scientific method. Methodological naturalists limit their scientific research to the study of natural causes, because any attempts to define causal relationships with the supernatural are never fruitful, and result in the creation of scientific “dead ends” and God of the gaps-type hypotheses. To avoid these traps scientists assume that all causes are empirical and naturalistic — which means they can be measured, quantified and studied methodically”

    You will notice that there is no division here. The assumption of philosophical naturalism contains nothing like natural natural vs natural artificial. That only comes later when things start breaking down.

    Changing their strategy, Darwinists then introduce the word “artificial” to deemphasize and, if possible, camouflage the fact that a substantially different kind of cause other than a natural cause is in play. By clinging to the word “natural,” while introducing a modifying adjective such as [artificially] natural, they implicitly pay tribute to the design element without actually explicitly acknowledging its existence, maintaining the word natural for both kinds of causes and hoping that no one will notice. Even they recognize that the causes are different, but they must trivialize that difference by implying that difference is not substantial, otherwise their game is over. In effect, they are trying to have it both ways, saying that the two causes are the same, reflected by the consistent use of the word “natural, but different, reflected by the use of a modifying adverb,

    —-“We recognize the ruins of Pompeii as artificial by their similarity to other products of human artifice. We recognize the volcanic debris at Pompeii as natural by its similarity to that of other volcanoes and its dissimilarity to anything human beings routinely design.”

    Unfortunately, that begs the question. How did we recognize the first human artifacts with which to compare all the others? In fact, we not only recognized the patterns as being similar to other human patterns, we recognized the patterns as distinct from natural causes which have no such patterns. Further, and this is key, we can also perceive that natural-natural causes, as you put it, could not have produced those patterns, a point that you seem to recognize.

    —-“ The second problem is that, given you have some proposal for a method of identifying all design reliably, how do you prove it?”

    Again, we are not talking about ID or its methods, which really have little to do with the present discussion. We are talking about MN’s definitions, or rather the lack of them and its inability to explain itself rationally. It is MN’s burden because MN has presumed to make the rule. We still have no definition for the word, “natural.”

    In any case, congratulations! You are the only Darwinist who was willing to enter the arena.

  139. You are the only Darwinist who was willing to enter the arena.

    This may be true but only of that subset of darwinists (themselves a subset of biologists) who are aware of Uncommon Descent and read the contributions, who consider a particular contribution incisive enough to be worth refuting, and who are able to navigate through the moderation.

    (The appearance of this comment may be delayed as it has to pass moderation.)

    ;)

  140. Kairosfocus said:

    ———————

    FG, I would adjust:

    Natural = non man-made, ie. opposed to ‘artificial’ [or intelligently and purposefully caused].

    Non-natural = man-made [or caused by a comparable intelligent, purposeful cause . . . room for Kzinti, Treecats and R Daneel Olivaw etc . .. ].
    ———————

    I can’t quite parse your first suggestion, could you clarify your definition of ‘Natural’ for me? To augment my definition of ‘non man-made’, are you proposing ‘non man-made or not intelligently and purposefully caused’? If so, that seems to lead to difficulties because I can easily think of not intelligently or purposefully caused artefacts that yet nobody would consider natural. Human footprints for instance.

    I am open to the expansion of non-natural to include other intelligent, purposeful causes but suggest we wait with including those until they have actually been established to exist. Kzinti are fictitious, it is therefore incorrect to consider them natural because clearly they are the product of a man, Larry Niven.

    As I said, we need to consider things like spider webs, termite mounds etc – I would consider those natural and that fits well with my definition. Under what definition of natural would such things be considered non-natural?

    fG

  141. Tribune7 said:

    ——————
    That one doesn’t work, FG.

    If it’s unknown it’s unknown. In fact, to declare the unknown as supernatural would end science as we know it.

    Supernatural means not bound by the laws of physics.

    The smart thing to do is to take the existence of the Judeo-Christian God as axiomatic and work from there.
    ————————————-

    You read me the wrong way round, I am not saying that unknown equals supernatural, I am saying that supernatural equals unknown. By calling something ‘supernatural’ we don’t add anything whatsoever over saying it is unknown. The word ‘supernatural’ conveys zero information about something, nor does it add anything to our knowledge about its cause. It is effectively vacuous.

    Talking about things not bound by the laws of physics is just theoretical musing until such time we actually know of real things that are not bound by the law of physics. I hesitate equating ‘supernatural’ with ‘fantasy’ because I don’t want to exclude the possibility that some day we might obtain some knowledge of something not bound by the laws of physics, so I equate it with ‘unknown’ instead.

    I have no idea why you suddenly bring the Judeo-Christian god into this discussion. My axioms are straightforward: I exist; there exists a reality outside of me; I can gain some knowledge of that reality through the use of my senses and reason. I suspect you won’t disagree with these axioms? I see no need to include anything more in the way of unprovable assumptions.

    fG

  142. Steve:

    First, a small corrective.

    I believe it was I who first brought up the issue that there is a suppressed alternative dichotomy which promises to be far more fruitful of empirical investigation: natural vs artificial (or, intelligent).

    That Sev accepts it is a step of progress, however slight.

    But, Sev has played the strawman game again: given you have some proposal for a method of identifying all design reliably, how do you prove it?

    That little word ALL is a marker of a rhetorical strawman that distorts the known Design view, set up to be knocked over.

    Sev knows or should know full well that the design filter empirical analytical approach is deliberately based to be conservative in its rulings; so it cheerfully accepts that in many cases it will rule chance where design is the actual underlying cause [the so-called false negative].

    But as anyone familiar with hyp testing will know, when the issue is to make sure you are confident that your POSITIVE rulings are solid, you often have to accept an incidence of false negatives. (A good parallel case is in criminal court cases, where the rule that guilt must be shown beyond reasonable doubt will let off guilty people who are clever or lucky enough, but the alternative of locking up a lot of innocents is intolerable.)

    In our case, because of the momentous significance of the key design inference cases, a conservative rule is more than enough to build a scientific revolution on.

    And besides, on a simple approach, once we see functional organisation or information that amounts to 1,000 elementary yes/no decisions at least, i.e. info capacity at least 1 k bits, we have something like ten times the square of the number of possible configs of the 10^80 atoms of our observed cosmos, across its thermodynamically plausible lifespan. Something as complex as that that is specifically functional — i.e. modest perturbation of information elements or of the organisation breaks functionality — is directly and routinely observed to be produced by intelligence or art, but is NOT observed to be spontaneously produced by chance and blind mechanism from arbitrary start points.

    With many millions of test cases in point.

    To see what that means practically, let us look at Denton’s classic description of one of the key objects of interest, teh living cell:

    The intuitive feeling that pure chance could never have achieved the degree of complexity and ingenuity so ubiquitous in nature has been a continuing source of scepticism since the publication of the Origin . . . . To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometers in diameter [so each atom in it would be “the size of a tennis ball”] and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometer in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules [ 500 k - 3 bn 4-state bases typically . .. i.e. we effectively start at an order of magnitude beyond 1 k bits just for DNA]. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell.

    We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines . . . . We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices used for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction . . . .

    However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equaled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours . . . . Unlike our own pseudo-automated assembly plants, where external controls are being continually applied, the cell’s manufacturing capability is entirely self-regulated . . . .

    [T]he complexity of biological systems in terms of the sheer number of unique components is very impressive; and it raises the obvious question: could any sort of purely random process ever have assembled such systems in the time available? [Evolution: a Theory in Crisis, 1986, pp. 327 – 331]

    Plainly, we are well beyond 1,000 bits wrth of functionally specific complex information and organisation.

    So it is highly material to note that on a masive empirical base, we have never seen a single case where an object using as few as 1,000 functionally specific bits has spontaneously come from undirected chance and mechanical necessity, starting from an arbitrary initial configuration that “just happened to be so.”

    And, going back to your theme, it is a reasonable use of “natural” to include the product of [credibly or presumptively] undirected chance + necessity dynamically working out spontaneously from initial conditions that were how they happened to be at some initial point that could just as easily have been significantly otherwise without making a material difference to the kind of outcome we see.

    In that context, we can see the artificial and its signs in functionally specific complex organization and/or associated information.

    Which is empirically observable.

    And, in turn, it raises the point that the observed material world and many key items in it bear sitgns tha tpoint to intelligent design.

    But within that ambit of design, we can profitably use “nature” to speak of the aspects of creation that are governed by mechanical necessity and/or statistical processes; which is what most science tries to reduce to laws and dynamics.

    In short, we are not locked up tot he worlde view of evolutionary masterialism if we need to practice science. And tha tis a major lesson fromthe founders of ever so many sceintific disciplines.

    So he censoring magisterium’s propaganda that we have to be practical materialists to do science is a falsehood, and one tha these people at he top of hte heap have the resourcesto easily correct, if they wanted to be truthful.

    So, pardon my conclusion: too many of such are willfully lying to us, to promote a materialist civlisational agenda. And too many others are betraying their duty to truth in science and elsewhere, by letting them get away with this lie.

    (Oh, I “forgot”: materialism is inherently and foundationally amoral, so the party of Dawkins et al does not acknowledge a morally binding duty to the truth or to justice or to fairness or to decency; as opposed to the sort of pragmatic prudent rules you play by when you don’t have enough power to arrogantly do as you please with those in your power. Something we all need to realise when we debate with them. Or, as Plato warned against in 360 BC — the example of Alcibiades plainly in mind, when we put them in charge of educating our children.)

    GEM of TKI

  143. CJYMan said:

    ——————-
    As I’ve already explained in #90 and #107 above, StephenB has been the only one here to provide a useful (although ultimately artificial) definition of natural and supernatural.
    —————————-

    I’m disappointed, why do you think my definitions are not useful? To remind you, ths is what i propose:

    ‘natural’ equals ‘non man-made’

    ‘supernatural’ equals ‘unknown’, in the sense that anytime someone uses the word ‘supernatural’ about a thing, event or cause one can substitute ‘unknown’ without the loss of any knowledge or information whatsoever regarding that thing, event or cause.

    fG

  144. FG:

    Mind, the premise of all science and mathematics, is radically different in its rational behaviour from matter-energy and forces of chance and mechanical necessity. In short, logical inference is not a matter of atoms being pushed around willy nilly.

    G

  145. FG, II:

    Artificial cannot reasonably be per definition constrained to man.

    And supernatural, per a lot of evidence across much of history and culture, is hardly to be equated a priori per definition to “unknown.”

    In short your proffered definitions are reflective of an evolutionary materialistic view, assumed a priori. That is what we need to avoid.

    And that is why I start instead from our observations of the world in which we see somethings that spiring from art, and others that, per our direct observations, do not. thence we see mechanical necessity, stochastic chance and intelligence as three identifiable, characterisable causal factors.

    And onward, we may profitably discuss the supernatural by starting from the case of an evidently contingent, fine tuned cosmos that shows every sign of being a product of art, a creation. Such an extra-cosmic creator is reasonably “super-natural.”

    G

  146. CJY at 116:

    There can be no answer to those questions until “nature” and “supernatural” are usefully defined

    Fien, nature is the physical world which can be studied, tested, and understood through sensory observation. Now can we get back to the question in comment 3? I would hope so, but I predict that several people, Stephen among them, will only argue over the definition and never get back to that question.

    The answer to that question I believe is blatantly obvious … the possible inclusion of intelligence as a causal factor.

    Science studies the effects of intelligence all the time. Archeology, anthropology, psychology, and I am sure a few other ologies too. Of course, the intelligence that those fields study is associated with a physical body.

    Did StephenB state that MN is a universally binding rule, or did he state that many scientist believe that MN is a universally binding principle?

    In the third paragraph, he states “keep in mind that no universally binding rule for scientific methods existed prior to the 1980’s”. The implication is clear that he believes there was a univesally binding rule after the 1980s. Or, I suppose, an poor writer.

  147. Kairosfocus said:

    ——————
    Artificial cannot reasonably be per definition constrained to man.

    And supernatural, per a lot of evidence across much of history and culture, is hardly to be equated a priori per definition to “unknown.”

    In short your proffered definitions are reflective of an evolutionary materialistic view, assumed a priori. That is what we need to avoid.
    ———————

    I think it is eminently reasonable to constrain ‘artificial’ to man until the day we establish the existence of another entity that produces things not normally found in nature. What is the point of including hypotheticals in a definition? I am certainly willing to expand the definition as soon as new information requires it. Until then, ‘natural’ equates to ‘non man-made’. Simple, elegant and eminently useful.

    If you think ‘supernatural’ conveys any information over and above ‘unknown’, please give some examples of what knowledge we have obtained from things/events/causes that some people call ‘supernatural’. Since you refer to a lot of evidence that shouldn’t be difficult? Personally I am not holding my breath, because whatever one may think about various claims of the supernatural, the fact remains that even people who firmly believe in it have no actual knowledge about it.

    I am in fact quite relaxed about this point: the moment we do get actual knowledge about the supernatural we can change the definition to include this knowledge. Unfortunately, as it stands today, we are in nomposition to do so (yet).

    Finally, I have no idea why my definitions are ‘evolutionary’ or ‘materialistic’. You are reading too much into them. Nowhere do they exclude the possibility of the non-materialistic, and evolution doesn’t even come into it at all. These definitions are purely limited to things we actually know to exist. And what is wrong with that? What is the point of lumbering definitions with loads of stuff that as far as we can tell may be entirely fictitious?

    fG

  148. sTephenB:

    Changing their strategy, Darwinists then introduce the word “artificial” to deemphasize and, if possible, camouflage the fact that a substantially different kind of cause other than a natural cause is in play. By clinging to the word “natural,” while introducing a modifying adjective such as [artificially] natural, they implicitly pay tribute to the design element without actually explicitly acknowledging its existence, maintaining the word natural for both kinds of causes and hoping that no one will notice.

    Umm, no. We just aren’t buying into your assertion that the product of intelligence is non-natural. You are assuming your conclusion and, as Seversky points out, playing word games with different definitions of natural to try to build some edifice around an otherwise unsupported conclusion.

    The natural-natural vs. natural-artificial definition is not a new construct, despite your assertion otherwise. It has existed as an integral part of the sciences for centuries.

  149. FG — The word ’supernatural’ conveys zero information about something,

    Unless the supernatural exists then in conveys very significant information.

    Talking about things not bound by the laws of physics is just theoretical musing until such time we actually know of real things that are not bound by the law of physics

    But we do know of real things not bound by the law of physics such as the creation of the universe unless you want to claim the laws of physics are changeable which is even sillier than a whimsical God.

    Which is why I brought in Judeo-Christianity and a consistent loving God who demands we reject idolatry whether it be nature or man-made things including ideas the denial of His existence and moral code.

  150. FG– I exist; there exists a reality outside of me; I can gain some knowledge of that reality through the use of my senses and reason.

    All of which is true, but “some knowledge” is not all knowledge, or even necessary knowledge; and your senses can provide inaccurate data; and your reasoning can be mistaken.

    Ultimately we all live by faith, so it’s important to make sure we have faith in the right things.

  151. faded_Glory said in 140:

    “My axioms are straightforward: I exist; there exists a reality outside of me; I can gain some knowledge of that reality through the use of my senses and reason.”

    Lets look at the first axiom within materialist worldview. As materialism states all complexity emerges from laws of physics including human existence and consciousness. If materialistic worldview is right it necessarily follows that you in fact do not exist because you are only an emergent property of matter and only matter exists. Within materialistic worldview it seems to me that your existence is an illusion a ghost in the machine.

  152. Question asked in comment #3:
    “Where in history of science has ever it occurred that not using nature to explain nature (methodological naturalism) resulted in a measureable, objective verifiable increase in knowledge? What are its (supernatural explinations) fruits?”

    CJYman:
    “There can be no answer to those questions until “nature” and “supernatural” are usefully defined.”

    efron ts:
    “[...] nature is the physical world which can be studied, tested, and understood through sensory observation.”

    First, “physical” and “natural” can be used interchangeably, which means that the first part of your definition gives us no understanding of that which is natural since it could just as easily be written ” … nature is the natural world …”

    Remember the reason why “nature” needs to be defined. It needs to be defined so that “supernatural” can be defined and excluded from science through the ruling of methodological “naturalism.”

    As to the second half of your definition, I’m assuming that you are referencing both direct and indirect sensory observation since things such as the Big Bang, past evolution, and ‘e’ and ‘b’ fields are not amenable to direct sensory observation.

    If that is the case, then you are stating that “natural” includes everything which can be established by at least indirect inference. In that case, it seems you would agree with me that the distinction between between natural and supernatural is artificial as I’ve commented on in earlier comments. By your definition of “natural,” “supernatural” merely becomes “that which we have not yet discovered.”

    So, if I use the definition that you’ve just provided to answer the question in #3 above, I arrive at the answer that the question is meaningless in a scientific context because methodological naturalism merely becomes either meaningless or a science stopper.

    So, by both your definition of “natural” and supernatural,” and the definition of MN which follows, and by StephenB’s definition and demarcation of those terms, the “naturalism” part of methodological naturalism becomes absolutely useless in science because its negation only means that we can’t study what we don’t know about with methods that we aren’t aware of. That is only blatantly stating the obvious and has no bearing on ID Theory, unless you wish to argue that we don’t have any understanding of the existence of intelligence (foresight), and that the methods that ID Theory uses — that of observation, inference, and probabilistic measurements — are not understandable (we are not aware of such things).

    efron ts:
    “Now can we get back to the question in comment 3? I would hope so, but I predict that several people, Stephen among them, will only argue over the definition and never get back to that question.”

    Well of course people are going to argue over the definition, since your definition does nothing to help the case of those people who wish to us MN as some sort of rule to exclude ID Theory from science.

    A straight forward answer to the question in #3 is that new ways of looking at problems — things we didn’t previously know, such as new ways of using math, new dimensions, new disciplines, etc — (supernatural things according to your definition above) are constantly needed in order for science to progress. So, do you see now how your definition of “natural” creates an artificial (and only temporary) separation between “natural” and “supernatural” and thus renders MN useless in science?

    In fact, the reason why StephenB’s definition of “natural” and “supernatural” are the only definitions that work in a useful manner, is because he treats the terms as their structure suggests. “Super” is not the negation of “natural,” it merely means above, so that “natural” is subordinate to “supernatural.” This works as he uses the terms, since intelligence can harness and even generate laws/algorithms yet no one has shown even a theoretical foundation for law defining intelligence, especially since intelligence is composed of patterns which are not even defined by law. Read through the following for an explanation of law, chance, and organization:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-337588

    CJYman:
    “The answer to that question I believe is blatantly obvious … the possible inclusion of intelligence as a causal factor.”

    efron ts:
    “Science studies the effects of intelligence all the time. Archeology, anthropology, psychology, and I am sure a few other ologies too. Of course, the intelligence that those fields study is associated with a physical body.”

    Well since ID Theory is only about objectively discovering signs of previous intelligence, then we are good to go.

    Then you had better give this information to those that use MN as a means of stating that science can’t allow intelligence as a causal factor, thus ID Theory is pseudoscience, and can rightly be ignored. Maybe we can both do some blog hopping together and argue for the inclusion of ID Theory in science as a team.

    CJYman:
    “Did StephenB state that MN is a universally binding rule, or did he state that many scientist believe that MN is a universally binding principle?”

    efron ts:
    “In the third paragraph, he states “keep in mind that no universally binding rule for scientific methods existed prior to the 1980’s”. The implication is clear that he believes there was a univesally binding rule after the 1980s. Or, I suppose, an poor writer.”

    No, I’d say that you are a poor reader, or “understander.”

    StephenB also stated in the para directly before that: “methodological naturalism is an institutional “rule” by which one group of researchers imposes on another group of researchers an arbitrary, intrusive, and non-negotiable standard which states that scientists must study nature as if nature is all there is.”

    He never stated that he personally believes that MN is a universally binding rule, which it seems was someone’s original contention.

    The first time I read through those paras it was plainly obvious to me that he was speaking of a rule that before the 1980s was never imposed by one group of scientists upon another group.

  153. agentorange (#22)

    Thank you for your post. You write:

    But since you advocate they [miracles - VJT] do happen & are measurable, why don’t we see such miraculous healings in which amputees get their arms back?

    I guess you’ve never heard of the Miracle of Calanda, have you? You might like to try these links:

    Miracle of Calanda – Letter by Dom Antoine Marie, of St. Joseph Abbey

    Miracle of Calanda – Wikipedia article

    The ‘Miracle of All Miracles’ in Calanda

    For an amputee healing miracle in the New Testament, see Luke 22:49-51.

    You might also like to have a look at this article, entitled “The Flying Saint” by Renzo Allegri, in The Messenger of St. Anthony, January 2003, available online at http://www.messengersaintantho.....171IDRX=55 . An excerpt:

    He has entered history as the ‘flying saint’. One of the characteristics of his extraordinary mystic experiences was his ecstasies. All he needed to see was an image of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Saint Francis or another saint, or hear their names spoken aloud, and he went into ecstasy. He let out a cry and floated into the air. He remained there, suspended between the earth and the sky for up to even an hour, two hours, three hours… while people ran to see this phenomenon. Crowds of the devoted and curious thronged around him, all amazed and moved, while doctors and scientists attempted to reach him using ladders and ropes in order to subject him to tests and try to understand how such a thing was possible… ‘To doubt is understandable,’ Fr. Giulio Berettoni, rector of the Shrine of St. Joseph of Cupertino in Osimo tells me ‘but it isn’t justifiable. If we take a serious look at the saint’s life from a historical point of view, then we see that we cannot question his ecstasies. There are numerous witness accounts. They began to be documented in 1628, and this continued until Joseph’s death in 1663, i.e. for 35 years. In certain periods, the phenomenon is recorded to have taken place more than once a day. It has been calculated that Joseph’s ‘ecstatic flights’ took place at least 1,000 to 1,500 times in his lifetime, perhaps even more, and that they were witnessed by thousands of people. They were the phenomenon of the century. They were so sensational and so public that they attracted attention from curious people from all walks of life, Italians and foreigners, believers and unbelievers, simple folk, but also scholars, scientists, priests, bishops and cardinals. They continued to occur in every situation, in whatever church in which the saint prayed or celebrated Mass. It is impossible to doubt such a sensational and public phenomenon which repeated itself over time. It is also worth noting that these events occurred in the seventeenth century, the time of the Inquisition. Amazing events, miracles and healings were labelled magic and the protagonists ended up undergoing a trial by the civil and religious Inquisition. In fact, St. Joseph of Cupertino underwent this very fate because of his ecstasies. But he was subjected to various trials without ever being condemned; final proof that these are sensational events, but also real, extraordinary and concrete facts.’

    For a New Testament example of levitation, see John 6: 16-21.

    I invite you to put aside your preconceptions and follow the facts, wherever they lead.

  154. Here’s what the atheist philosopher Dr. Bradley Monton has to say on the subject of methodological naturalism:

    In my (by now somewhat infamous) discussion of the Dover trial (which occurs here , and in Chapter 2 of my book), I took issue with Judge Jones (and with Robert Pennock) for endorsing methodological naturalism, understood as the claim that science can’t in principle investigate supernatural phenomena. I was happy to come across an article by physicist Sean Carroll where he endorses the same anti-methodogical-naturalism point that I do:

    There’s no obstacle in principle to imagining that the normal progress of science could one day conclude that the invocation of a supernatural component was the best way of understanding the universe. Indeed, this scenario is basically the hope of most proponents of Intelligent Design. The point is not that this couldn’t possibly happen — it’s that it hasn’t happened in our actual world.

    I’ve been given a hard time for saying this, so I’m happy to see smart people agreeing with me.

  155. StephenB @ 37,

    “Agent orange, I am still waiting for answers to all my questions @41.”

    Ok, I am still waiting on your reply to my question I posted in agentorange @ 3.

    StephenB : “…declaring that there are no immaterial minds”

    How would an immaterial mind work? Any measurable testable ways of narrowing down what this entails?

  156. StephenB @ Since you’re adamant about keeping score on answered questions, here’s another you haven’t tried to answer.

    [Regarding the efficacy of miracles as indications of suspension of natural laws (supernatural events) ]

    But since you advocate they (miracles) do happen & are measurable, why don’t we see such miraculous healings in which amputees get their arms back? Why don’t we see burn victims who’ve suffered whole body burns or significant comparisons have their whole body skin refreshed to new?

  157. Where in history of science has ever it occurred that not using nature to explain nature (methodological naturalism) resulted in a measureable, objective verifiable increase in knowledge?

    If the requirement to explain a cause while articulating an observation of nature was the rule of science very little increase in knowledge would have resulted from science.

  158. tribune7 @ 157, can you elaborate a little on that? Some examples perhaps.

    Perhaps indicate the ‘where’ in the ‘where in the history of science’ in which non natural (supernatural) explinations were used to explain natural observations which resultd in actual new knowledge?

  159. agentorange — Perhaps indicate the ‘where’ in the ‘where in the history of science’ in which non natural (supernatural) explinations were used to explain natural observations which resultd in actual new knowledge?

    Are you saying that meth-nat should not/must not require a explanation as to a cause when articulating an observation? If so we would basically be in agreement.

  160. —agentorange: “Ok, I am still waiting on your reply to my question I posted in agentorange @ 3.”

    As I pointed out, your question was not answerable as long as you failed to define your terms. Given that deficienty, I went above and beyond the call of duty, defined your terms for you, and answered the question several times from the outside in and from the inside out. Both the archeologist [searching for non-natural causes in Pompeii's artifacts] and the forensic scientist [identifying the burglar] go beyond natural causes to draw their conclusions.

    Unless you define the word “natural,” you can’t make a case for methodologial naturalism, which, as this thread has made clear, cannot be defended. At least seversky, to his credit, gave it a try and didn’t hide behind phony excuses.

    —”How would an immaterial mind work? Any measurable testable ways of narrowing down what this entails?”

    Your question is irrelevant. One need not know how something works to posit it as a possible cause.

  161. Jerry @64,

    “A more logical correlation is freedom. When men are free to speculate and to test, then that is where knowledge takes off”

    Jerry, in the past millennia ago people had all the freedom they wanted to explore natural observations, & in doing do routinely used non testable assertions that they claimed originated in some other plane, realm or reality, for which is often termed ‘the supernatural’.

    The consequence of using such a technique is that doing so is counterproductive to understanding reality as it never lead to actual knowledge about how the universe worked. Demons cause disease & plague you say? Oh, ok then according to this book just pray & you’ll be cured.

    Such was the rhetoric offered of that era, such an endeavor is not logical at all.

  162. —agentorange: “But since you advocate they (miracles) do happen & are measurable, why don’t we see such miraculous healings in which amputees get their arms back?”

    Your question is irrevant. That some miracles have been not known to occur does not mean other miracles have not occurred. It should be evident that science cannot explain the why of a miracle or the priorities of the one who dispenses them.

    Perhaps you should cease from asking irrelevant questions, which are easy to answer, and start answering the relevant ones, which are hard to answer.

  163. 162. Your question is [irrelevant.]

  164. CJYMan at 152:

    Since you have fufilled my prediction about diverting the conversation away from substantive questions into infinite parsing of definitions (Dictionarys! All the way down!), I really have nothing more to add except to point out again that Stephen’s definition, which you seem rather fond of, assumes his conclusion that intelligence is not natural. That is an assertion that has yet to be proven and, therefore, is unwarranted.

    Well since ID Theory is only about objectively discovering signs of previous intelligence, then we are good to go.

    In principal, it could be. In practice, not by a country mile. As I stated, the only intelligence we can conclusively identify and study is that which is tied to a physical form. Now, I suppose you I have opened to door for you to protest that I have not sufficiently define “physical”, but I trust that you are not so obstinate to debate that humans have a physical form and exist in the physical world.

    The problem with ID is that posits a presumed designer that is outside of nature (using any definition). Sure, some will occasionally agree that the designer could be a space alien (wink! wink!), but no one in the ID community actually believes that. So, by being outside of nature the designer is not amenable to study like the more mundane forms of intelligence that we are familiar with.

    To get around this problem, Stephen tries to redefine (by fiat) nature such that human intelligence is now not natural. But, until such time as you can demonstrate that human intelligence can operate independent of the ugly bag of mostly water it is associated with, you are, to repeat, assuming your conclusion.

    So, to your statement, ID could become scientific. All that it needs to do is produce the designer. But, alas, any question of the means, motives, or identity of the designer is strictly forbidden.

  165. StephenB @ 37,

    “failed to define your terms”

    Puleaase. I at least offered defined terms in using Wiki; you could at least have tried based on those terms to explain the efficacy in history of science in asserting a supernatural explanation for a natural one. Oh you did try, sort of, (miracles!) but you moved away from that promptly & continue to distance yourself from it.

    “defined your terms for you”

    You defined your own terms which you’re only willing to accept. Ya, that’s awefully cordial of you.

    There is little reason for you to placate the dialog by pretending you don’t have some idea of what the supernatural term involves, as clearly since you advocate a non-material based mind can exist in absense of physical brain, more on your lacking evidence later, this stance of holding that non material minds can exist is indicitive of your stance of suspension of known physical laws of nature. So, yeah, you do have some loose concept of what you consider the supernatural to consist of, but alas when it comes to showing how explinations from this realm work you stonewall.

    “Your question is irrelevant. One need not know how something works to posit it as a possible cause.“

    Well if you posit X is the cause of Y, you necessarily have to explain how X functions as a non material mind, which for all science evidence shows is impossible. Since you can’t explain how a non material mind works (c’mon please try, we’d all love to see this), on what reasons on evidence should we accept your declaration that indeed non material minds exists, but also that they work in how you say they do?

    Why should we accept your axiom of non material minds exsiting, where is your evidence?

    You’re asking the observer to ignore all the evidence we have about how the physical brain & mind/self identify works & instead take your non evidence based assertion that it works just as you assert? Where/how do you even arrive at this conclusion that this is even remotely possible?

  166. Agentorange at 161:

    “Jerry, in the past millennia ago people had all the freedom they wanted to explore natural observations, & in doing do routinely used non testable assertions that they claimed originated in some other plane, realm or reality, for which is often termed ‘the supernatural’.

    The consequence of using such a technique is that doing so is counterproductive to understanding reality as it never lead to actual knowledge about how the universe worked. Demons cause disease & plague you say? Oh, ok then according to this book just pray & you’ll be cured.”

    It doesn’t logically follow that if I for example say that universe was made by God that somehow I also assert at the same time that I know how to universe was done.

    Logical premises:

    1. This was made by being X

    != (does not follow from the first premise)

    2. So I know how it was done

    As Seversky explained HOW and WHO are different questions.

  167. Tribune,

    Perhaps indicate the ‘where’ in the ‘where in the history of science’ in which non natural (supernatural) explinations were used to explain natural observations which resultd in actual new knowledge?

  168. Jerry,

    “As Seversky explained HOW”

    Of course they are, they address different properties. So perhaps you’d like to take a stab at the ‘how’ a non material based mind would work? The best I got was a stone wall of ‘it’s irrelevant’, so as to rationalize that their assertion need not be substantiated with evidence at all. Such a stance is, well, contemptible, as it might as well be held b/c some magical pixies told him so that a non material mind can exist.

  169. —efren ts: “To get around this problem, Stephen tries to redefine (by fiat) nature such that human intelligence is now not natural. But, until such time as you can demonstrate that human intelligence can operate independent of the ugly bag of mostly water it is associated with, you are, to repeat, assuming your conclusion.”

    You are very confused. The purpose of a definition is to explain what one means and what one doesn’t mean. To say that natural causes does not mean intelligence is to define one’s terms. If only you would do that.

    Also, the definition precedes the analysis and not the other way around. The purpose for defining terms is not to argue but to clarify and makes sense of what it is that you are about to argue. That, by the way, explains why you cannot defend MN and will not even try.

  170. StephenB:

    You are very confused. The purpose of a definition is to explain what one means and what one doesn’t mean. To say that natural causes does not mean intelligence is to define one’s terms.

    More parsing of words. But, fine I will reword the sentence.

    In the absence of any proof that intelligence can operate independently of the physical form it is associated with, your definition is wrong.

  171. agentorange — regarding to post 167 (and 158 for that matter) you seem to be reading something into my post 157 that isn’t there, and for some reason, failed to address my post 159 which included a question for you.

    Are you saying that meth-nat should not/must not require an explanation as to a cause when articulating an observation?

    Now regarding post 158 I was inclined grant the point that “non-natural explanations” don’t lead to a better understanding of nature — which is not related, btw, to the point I was making in the post to which you responded — but upon reflection the acceptance of objective truth and a divine order on creation would be examples of “non-natural explanations” being used to explain natural ones furthering our objective understanding of nature.

  172. “Of course they are, they address different properties. So perhaps you’d like to take a stab at the ‘how’ a non material based mind would work? ”

    One of the more pathetic comments. No one knows the nature of such a being and what it means to be non material. Maybe it is some substance we are completely unaware of. If we could answer such a question then we would suit up for our Nobel Prize in something. But to say that because we do not know how it would work is equivalent to postulating it does not exist, is essentially a stupid statement. But what else is new and this is to be expected by the anti ID people here. As I frequently say, there has been only one anti ID person ever to come here that made sense.

    I am not following this thread but occasionally check in and there is whole spectrum of stupid comments. I don’t envy StephenB having to deal with them.

  173. Jerry @1 72,

    “No one knows the nature of such a being and what it means to be non material”

    Great, let’s placate ignorance!

    So….then why do StephenB, & presumably you, both accept the concept that a non material mind can work (any explanations?), & moreover claim to know how it works? In absence of evidence you find such a concept tenable, why? The mere fact that neither you, nor him can even begin to define or describe what a ‘non material mind’ entails much less how they can demonstrate such details objectively is evidence enough that such an assertion amounts to wishful thinking.

    C’mon, ID guys, you’re the ones championing all this ‘we can infer the evidence for how a mind w/ intelligence works’, why doesn’t this premise follow to when it comes to all the evidence we know regarding the physical connections between the brain to the self/mind that in the absence of a physical brain the mind cannot exist?

    “Maybe it is some substance we are completely unaware of.”

    Or, maybe it’s rubbish. Propositions are only believed to the extent to which they adhere to known testable evidence & are congruent w/ experience. All of our experiences with physical brains suggest that the self identity/mind is linked to the physical brain, & when it’s gone so is the organized pattern known as the self.

    Yeah, I guess such a question of how a non material mind works is too much to swallow, best to sum it up as ‘One of the more pathetic comments’ rather than having to actually think & considering how such a claim is tenable.

  174. 174

    agentorange,

    Great, let’s placate ignorance!

    It is ignorant to placate your assumption of knowledge when it is not real knowledge. It is wise to admit what you don’t know. The non-material mind can work because it wouldn’t be a mind independent of the material otherwise, it would be material movements, which have speed and velocity, weight and distance, but can never be something we call “eternal truth” outside and apart from its movements, nor can it produce an “ought” from an “is”. This has to firmly grasped. The laws of logic and reason do not follow the laws of physics and chemistry, they are immaterial, and not vice versa.

    Yeah, I guess such a question of how a non material mind works is too much to swallow, best to sum it up as ‘One of the more pathetic comments’ rather than having to actually think & considering how such a claim is tenable.

    What’s too much to swallow is the assumption that your mind is the movements of irrational atoms, for that thought is, itself, a movement of atoms, and so is every other thought, including all thoughts of ID advocates, and all standards that would be used to judge between thoughts, so there exist no escape from the torrent of material events, no “truer” judgment between contradictory thoughts that is not itself on trial as being the result of the same material process that is in question. The judge cannot also be the one on trial, or else the verdict is invalid. But on the assumption of a material mind, there is no escape, and if any thought is invalid, they’re all invalid by the same process that produced the invalid one. This is why materialism is wrong, it breaks down with the theory of knowledge. It defeats its own credentials. By wanting too much it will get nothing.

  175. Seversky (#69)

    You have alleged that while the term “methodological naturalism” was not coined until the 1980s, it was accepted scientific practice long before then – indeed, as far back as the Middle Ages. I intend to show in this post that you have misconstrued the development of science. Scientists in times past did not hesitate to draw inferences to an intelligent Designer of nature, in the name of science. Indeed, James Clerk Maxwell, whom you mention in your list of scientific heroes, did just that, as I will show.

    First of all, let’s get some terminology out of the way. I would define philosophical naturalism as the view which says that that for every entity that exists, EITHER (a) the entity’s behavior conforms to regularities, which may be uniform and exceptionless (e.g. all electrons have the same rest mass) or statistical (e.g. radioactive decay); OR (b) the entity is made up of components which conform to these regularities. Something which is either (a) or (b) may be defined as natural. So-called natural forces are simply those forces whose mode of operation can be described by a (uniform or statistical) regularity. Human agency cannot be described in this fashion at the “macro” level; but a methodological naturalist would say that human actions supervene upon microscopic processes which can be described in this way.

    I would define methodological naturalism as the scientific endeavor to describe the behavior of all observed entities in accordance with the principles of philosophical naturalism – i.e. as falling under uniform or statistical regularities, at some level.

    Regarding methodological naturalism, you write:

    Methodological naturalism is a lot more than some vague “preference” for natural causes. It follows from the assumption that there is an objective Universe out there which is ordered, contingent, consistent and comprehensible. If it were not so, not just science but any form of reliable knowledge about anything would be impossible.

    I would reply: science cannot explain what science presupposes. Science simply assumes that the universe is comprehensible, but as Einstein (who belonged to no religion)famously remarked: “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.” (“Physics and Reality” in Journal of the Franklin Institute (March 1936) as quoted in Einstein: A Biography (1954) by Antonina Vallentin, p. 24.)

    Why are there any laws of nature at all? The only rational answer is that the world is not just a collection of facts, as Wittgenstein envisaged in his “Tractatus”; if we believe in causal powers, then there are normative states of affairs too. (“Ought” is just as much a part of the world as “is.”) When an apple falls to the ground, that is what it is supposed to do. Were this not so, it would be unreasonable to expect the next apple to fall. In other words, we live in a world where things behave as they should behave. Laws of nature are not mere regularities; they are prescriptive, as well as descriptive. But in the end, the notion of things in nature behaving as they should, or conforming to norms, even though they lack minds, can only be made sense of by positing a Transcendent Intelligence that makes them do so (i.e. God). Thus from the mere existence of causal powers (which make the laws of nature normative and not just descriptive statements), we can reason our way to God.

    But if methodological naturalism is true, then your postulate that the cosmos is intelligible is just that: a postulate. It may be proven wrong tomorrow, and in the mean time, you are just whistling in the dark.

    The only thing that can reliably guarantee that the reality we perceive is and always will be intelligible is a Transcendent Intelligence – but not just any old Intelligence. It has to be one whose nature is essentially rational, thereby preventing it from engaging in whimsical or quixotic actions.

    You quote Arthur Strahler as saying: “There can be no limit to the kinds and shapes of supernatural forces and forms the human mind is capable of conjuring up ‘from nowhere.’” That may be so, but we can certainly rule out whimsical, pint-sized Zeusian deities with ad hoc attributes, as a matter of course. Such deities could not support the scientific enterprise, as you rightly point out. What I propose instead is a God whose essence is to know and love in a perfect fashion. That means that God cannot break a promise, for instance. Such a God can be trusted and relied on. I should add that the Divine attributes of knowledge and love do not contain any inherent limitations.

    You then mention the nineteenth-century scientist James Clerk Maxwell:

    All of today’s commonplace technology, such as TV, radio, radar, that exploits electromagnetic phenomena exists in part because a 19th century Scottish nerd was curious about the nature and relationship of electricity and magnetism and eventually constructed a theory to explain it.

    While noting that he was privately religious, you contend that he did not let his religion affect his science.

    Well, I beg to differ. I’ve just been having a look at a biography of Maxwell, entitled The Life of James Clerk Maxwell by Lewis Campbell and William Garnett. Here’s an excerpt from p. 176 (emphases mine – VJT):

    While speaking of his work in lecturing, it may be well briefly to advert to the famous “Discourse on Molecules,” delivered before the British Association at Bradford in September 1873, which has been more often quoted than, perhaps, any other of his writings. This address was extremely rich in scientific matter, but its chief interest lay in the concluding paragraphs, which may be said to indicate more clearly than any other of Maxwell’s writings the position of his mind towards certain doctrines maintained by scientific men: -

    In the heavens we discover by their light, and by their light alone, stars so distant from each other that no material thing can ever have passed from one to another; [359] and yet this light, which is to us the sole evidence of the existence of these distant worlds, tells us also that each of them is built up of molecules of the same kinds as those which we find on earth. A molecule of hydrogen, for example, whether in Sirius or in Arcturus, executes its vibrations in precisely the same time.

    Each molecule therefore throughout the universe bears impressed upon it the stamp of a metric system as distinctly as does the metre of the Archives at Paris, or the double royal cubit of the temple of Karnac. No theory of evolution can be formed to account for the similarity of molecules, for evolution necessarily implies continuous change, and the molecule is incapable of growth or decay, of generation or destruction. None of the processes of Nature, since the time when Nature began, have produced the slightest difference in the properties of any molecule. We are therefore unable to ascribe either the existence of the molecules or the identity of their properties to any of the causes which we call natural.

    On the other hand, the exact equality of each molecule to all others of the same kind gives it, as Sir John Herschel has well said, the essential character of a manufactured article, and precludes the idea of its being eternal and self-existent.

    Thus we have been led, along a strictly scientific path, very near to the point at which Science must stop,—not that Science is debarred from studying the internal mechanism of a molecule which she cannot take to pieces, any more than from investigating an organism which she cannot put together. But in tracing back the history of matter, Science is arrested when she assures herself, on the one hand, that the molecule has been made, and, on the other, that it has not been made by any of the processes we call natural.

    Science is incompetent to reason upon the creation of matter itself out of nothing. We have reached the utmost limits of our thinking faculties when we have admitted that because matter cannot be eternal and self-existent it must have been created. [360] It is only when we contemplate, not matter in itself, but the form in which it actually exists, that our mind finds something on which it can lay hold.

    What Maxwell is proposing here is an interesting design argument, on scientific grounds: the fact that molecules are perfectly identical to one another suggests that they were manufactured according to an intelligent plan. What he had in mind was a “uniformity intended and accomplished by the same wisdom and power of which uniformity, accuracy, symmetry, consistency, and continuity of plan are … important attributes…” as he wrote in a letter to a friend. (See E.Garber, S.G.Brush, and C.W.F.Everitt, (Eds) Maxwell on Molecules and Gases, p. 242. (1986) MIT press, Cambridge Massachusetts.) [Emphases mine - VJT.]

    Note that the dividing line between science and religion is quite different for Maxwell than it is for modern scientists. For Maxwell, science could not explain the modus operandi of the Creator (especially the creation of matter out of nothing). In the 21st century, ID admits the same thing. But Maxwell felt quite confident in pronouncing, as a scientist, that certain entities (hydrogen atoms) did not have a natural origin. Today, proponents of cosmological ID have refined Maxwell’s position somewhat: they would argue that the laws of nature describing the behavior of hydrogen atoms do not have a natural origin.

    In addition, the modern intelligent design movement claims to be able to identify patterns in the biological realm which can only have been made by some Intelligence. Science can take us this far, by ruling out the alternative explanations of chance and/or necessity. However, philosophy (not science) is required for us to draw the inference that this Intelligence must be totally Transcendent and hence supernatural.

    If you’re curious about Maxwell, I would also recommend this highly readable article, entitled James Clerk Maxwell and the Christian Proposition by Ian Hutchinson, for a history of Maxwell’s religious views, and how they influenced his science.

    I submit that the modern ID movement, and not the National Academy of Sciences (which espouses methodological naturalism) is the legitimate intellectual heir of James Clerk Maxwell’s approach to science.

  176. 176

    StephenB,

    I know that you are busy attending to other commenters here, so I appreciate the attention you have given to my thoughts.
    You wrote:

    Sorry, if I rattled your cage, but you rattled mine first. Inasmuch as you began your comment speculating that I did not know what St. Thomas means by secondary causes, which is not the case, and without explaining how that ties in to the present theme, which would seem to be in order, I don’t think my response was inappropriate. You are, after all, among that happy throng that continues to inject new irrelevancies without answering my old questions or even confronting them.

    It surprises me that you should not see how the subject of secondary causes ties in with the subject of this post, which begins its title with the words METHODOLOGICAL NATURALISM. As I said earlier when introducing the subject of secondary causation:

    Aquinas is saying that secondary (i.e., natural) causes can adequately explain the flotsam and jetsam of creation without denying or disparaging in any way the primary causative role of God in the whole shebang.
    You can, without sin or blasphemy, study nature in its own right while leaving God out of the details. Indeed, God’s dignity is honored thereby.

    Inasmuch as methodological naturalism consists in the study of natural (secondary) causes, naturalism received a philosophical and theological warrant from Aquinas and other eminent theologians and natural philosophers of the Medieval period such as Adelard of Bath (c. 1080 – c. 1152), Robert Grosseteste (c. 1175 – 1253), and Thomas’ mentor Albertus Magnus, (1193/1206 –1280
    Orasme is another one, and the quotation that I gave earlier is consistent with this view:

    there is no reason to take recourse to the heavens, the last refuge of the weak, or demons, or to our glorious God as if He would produce these effects directly, more so than those effects whose causes we believe are well known to us.

    I understand that you are defending the claim that methodological naturalism did not exist until the late 20th century. I am challenging that claim by providing evidence that the practice of methodological naturalism has a pedigree at least as far back as the twelfth century in Western Europe.
    You wrote further concerning the relevance of secondary causes to this discussion:

    …unless, of course, you think God used secondary causes to produce Pompei and the burglar.

    What else would I think? What else would Aquinas think? What do you think?

  177. agentorange (#172)

    If you’d like some answers to your questions about the mind and the brain, try here:

    http://www.angelfire.com/linux/vjtorley/soul.html

  178. Adel di Bagno (#176)

    The quotations which you cite have been addressed previously on this blog. I refer you to the following post:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-344239

    I would also add that defining methodological naturalism as “the study of natural (secondary) causes” is not accurate. Methodological naturalism is more than the investigation of secondary causes; it is the total exclusion of the Primary Cause (God) from the domain of science. As I have argued in the above-cited post, it is a total mis-reading of the medieval philosophers to argue that they upheld such a view.

    On thsi thread, I’ve already shown that James Clerk Maxwell was no methodological naturalist.

    I should add that methodological naturalism would have been utterly foreign to Rufus Porter, the founder of Scientific American, the first issue of which has been removed from that magazine’s Web site. (I wonder why!) Here’s an excerpt from his article, “Rational Religion,” which appeared in the first issue, in 1845:

    First, then, let us, as rational creatures, be ever ready to acknowledge God as our Creator and daily Preserver; and that we are each of us individually dependant on his special care and good will towards us, in supporting the wonderful action of nature which constitutes our existence; and in preserving us from the casualties, to which our complicated and delicate structure is liable. Let us also, knowing our entire dependence on Divine Benevolence, as rational creatures, do ourselves the honor to express personally and frequently, our thanks to him for his goodness; and to present our petitions to Him for the favours which we constantly require. This course is rational, even without the aid of revelation: but being specially invited to this course, by the divine word, and assured of the readiness of our Creator to answer our prayers and recognize our thanks, it is truly surprising that any rational being, who has ever read the inspired writings should willingly forego this privilege, or should be ashamed to be seen engaged in this rational employment, or to have it known that he practices it.

    Does that sound like a methodological naturalist to you? I think not.

  179. InnerBling @151,

    “If materialistic worldview is right it necessarily follows that you in fact do not exist because you are only an emergent property of matter and only matter exists.”

    This isn’t correct; consider this analogy of other emergent property. If take a storm apart and examine it atom for atom will we find a storm anywhere? Certainly not. The storm only exists as an aggregate concourse of those atoms-it only exists as a whole, not within its parts.

    Just as a storm has no single ‘location’, nor even any constant or distinct measurements at all, yet clearly exists as a solely physical phenomenon fully explicable by science, so does our consciousness lack any such single location within the brain, or any constant or distinct mass or energy content, much less length or breadth, yet it is solely a physical phenomenon explainable by science. In this same way, the you, the self does exist.

  180. Clive, @ 174

    “It is ignorant to placate your assumption of knowledge when it is not real knowledge. It is wise to admit what you don’t know.”

    Right Clive, but don’t tell Jerry or StephenB that in the absence of evidence for such an assertion of a non material mind being real that they admit to not knowing. Let’s not create needless double standards okay?

    I’m trying to be as generous with my question regarding how a non material mind works, i would prefer some good examples explaining the evidence, logic, examples, & how it’s as well supported & explains more than the concept of a mind being directly linked to the physical brain. Explain the A to Z if you will.

    “non-material mind can work because it wouldn’t be a mind independent of the material”

    And what evidence is there that a non material mind works, let alone in this way? All you’ve said is what StephenB decried ‘it can work!’, But when it comes to explaining the details on how it works, & moreover how we can objectively know it works in the way you claim it does, then you come up short big time.

    “assumption that your mind is the movements of irrational atoms”

    Who said atoms move irrationally? Even were this the case, the higher levels of aggregate chemicals reactions in the brain which translate to our actions & modes of thought aren’t irrational, they’re quite observable & predictable in neurological studies in which we find correlation between specific sections in the brain in which injury has occurred & how this physical change impairs the observers ability to process sensory input. We find direction corelation between chemical drugs & the changes in the perception.

  181. —effrents: “In the absence of any proof that intelligence can operate independently of the physical form it is associated with, your definition is wrong.”

    Again, you misunderstand the purpose of definitions, which is not to be right or wrong, but to allow others to know exactly what you mean so that they can judge your facility to use them and draw reasonable conclusions in the process. I define my terms so that reasonable people can discern whether or not my arguments make sense. You and agent orange, on the other hand, refuse to define your terms because you simply don’t want to be held accountable for what you think. Both of you hope that by hiding behind such vague notions as “natural” and “supernatural,” the fog of non-definition discourse will hide the fact that you have no argument. It doesn’t. No intellectually respectable person refuses to define his terms.

  182. Adel Dibagno

    Adel, excuse me, but you have not yet explained why secondary causes relate to this discussion. You have simply provided more quotes to confirm what we already know, namely that secondary causes exist. That has nothing to do with the fact that tornados do not go looking for jewelry or that nature doesn’t build artifacts. Only intelligent agents do those things.

    Secondary causes are not related to this discussion. One could try to make a case that the patterns in a DNA molecule were produced via secondary causes, but you cannot rationally make that same argument about Pompeii’s artifacts or the evidence for a Burglars activity. That is why I chose those examples. Methodologial naturalism cannot study them, which means that it cannot hold itself up as a rule for science.

    That is why agentorange and effrents keep dodging the issue and refusing to provide their definition of “natural,” a word they use consistently and recklessly without having any idea about what it could mean.

  183. Stephen:

    Again, you misunderstand the purpose of definitions, which is not to be right or wrong, but to allow others to know exactly what you mean so that they can judge your facility to use them and draw reasonable conclusions in the process. I define my terms so that reasonable people can discern whether or not my arguments make sense.

    Any argument that proceeds from a fatally flawed definition is stillborn. Your definition is more than a definition because it sneaks in the assumption that human intelligence is not part of the natural world. An assumption yet unsupported. But I am a generous soul. Just demonstrate that human intelligence can operate in the absence of the physical form it is associated with and I will gladly accept your definition.

    You and agent orange, on the other hand, refuse to define your terms because you simply don’t want to be held accountable for what you think.

    Actually, I did in comment 146. Now scroll back and read that, so that you can quibble over my definition and avoid having to support that human intelligence can operate in the absence of the physical form it is associated with.

  184. 184

    agentorange,

    Right Clive, but don’t tell Jerry or StephenB that in the absence of evidence for such an assertion of a non material mind being real that they admit to not knowing. Let’s not create needless double standards okay?

    No double standards here, okay?

    But when it comes to explaining the details on how it works, & moreover how we can objectively know it works in the way you claim it does, then you come up short big time.

    Objectivity relies on something other than material movements producing thoughts, okay big time? If your thoughts were the product of material movements, no thoughts would be objectively true outside of their physical parameters and movements, and the laws which govern all thoughts would be the laws of physics and chemistry, not laws of objective reason and logic which are metaphysical and immaterial. I guess you don’t see it this way because you have no choice in the matter, and your matter isn’t giving you a choice. ;) Atoms move, whether it be rational in their movement we can never say, for we do not understand the laws of nature as we understand immaterial laws of reason and logic. We can see the reasonableness of the law of non-contradiction, we cannot see the reasonableness (that is, we cannot perceive with our reason) the laws of physics. All we can do is describe them, but we cannot explain them. But we can explain the law of non-contradiction, because we understand it with our reason, but we have no equivalent understanding with an explanation of nature. But what I said was that atoms, themselves, are irrational, how they move makes no difference on this score. If you take all thoughts to be the result of chemical stimuli, then that thought is itself a result of chemical stimuli, but so would wrong thoughts be also, and no objective or independent thought will get you out of this box of material causation, no “truer” standard of thought would exist by which to compare the efficacy of other thoughts, for they are all on trial, and cannot also be the judge.

  185. 185

    agentorange,

    “I am not going to maintain that what I call Transposition is the only possible mode whereby a poorer medium can respond to a richer, but I claim that it is very hard to imagine any other. It is therefore, at the very least, not improbable that Transposition occurs whenever the higher reproduces itself in the lower. Thus, to digress for a moment, it seems to me very likely that the real relation between the mind and body is one of Transposition. We are certain that, in this like at any rate, thought is intimately connected with the brain. The theory that thought therefore is merely a movement in the brain is, in my opinion, nonsense, for if so, that theory itself would be merely a movement, an event among atoms, which may have speed and direction, but of which it would be meaningless to use the words “true” or “false.” We are driven then to some kind of correspondence. But if we assume a one-for-one correspondence, this means that we have to attribute an almost unbelievable complexity and variety to events in the brain. But I submit that a one-for-one relation is probably quite unnecessary. All our examples suggest that the brain can respond—in a sense, adequately and exquisitely respond—to the seemingly infinite variety of consciousness without providing one singly physical modification for each single modification of consciousness.

    I have tried to stress throughout the inevitableness of the error made about every transposition by one who approaches it from the lower medium only. The strength of the critic lies in the words “merely” or “nothing but. He sees all the facts but not the meaning. Quite truly, therefore, he claims to have seen all the facts. there is nothing else there, except the meaning. He is therefore, as regards the matter at hand, in the position of an animal. You will have noticed that most dogs cannot understand pointing. You point to a bit of food on the floor; the dog, instead of looking at the floor, sniffs at your finger. A finger is a finger to him, and that is all. His world is all afct and no meaning. And in a period in when factual realism is dominant we shall find people deliberately inducing upon themselves this doglike mind. A man who has experienced love from within will deliberately go about to inspect in analytically from outside and regard the results of this analysis as truer than his experience. The extreme limits of this self-binding is seen in those who, like the rest of us, have consciousness, yet go about the study of the human organism as if they did not know it was conscious. As long as this deliberate refusal to understand things from above, even where such understanding is possible, continues, it is idle to talk of any final victory over materialism. The critique of every experience from below, the voluntary ignoring of meaning and concentration on fact, will always have the same plausibility. There will always be evidence, and every month fresh evidence, to show that religion is only psychological, justice only self-protection, politics only economics, love only lust, and thought itself only cerebral bio-chemistry.”

    excerpts from C.S. Lewis’ essay Transpositions

  186. —agentorange: “Right Clive, but don’t tell Jerry or StephenB that in the absence of evidence for such an assertion of a non material mind being real that they admit to not knowing. Let’s not create needless double standards okay?”

    Once again, you fall into a serious logical lapse. I didn’t say that we don’t have evidence that minds “exist,” which we clearly do, I said that we don’t know how they work, which we clearly don’t.

    But I suppose anything that will distract attention away from the main theme of the thread and your consistent refusal to define “nature” is productive from your point of view.

  187. StephenB:

    I didn’t say that we don’t have evidence that minds “exist,” which we clearly do, I said that we don’t know how they work, which we clearly don’t.

    Yet you are absolutely certain that they are outside of nature. Good jump, Stephen. I thought for a moment the shark was going to get you. But you pulled it off with nary a hair out of place.

  188. —effrents: “But I am a generous soul…..

    If you were a generous soul, you would do me the courtesy of defining “nature.”

  189. 189

    Stephen B,

    Adel, excuse me, but you have not yet explained why secondary causes relate to this discussion.

    It seems obvious to me, but I am not communicating on your wavelength, so I will retire. Thanks for your time and good efforts.

  190. StephenB,

    “agentorange and effrents keep dodging the issue”

    We’ve both repeatedly held that nature/natural is that which is physical, measurable, & testable, while the immaterial, ethereal world which doesn’t follow according to natural laws which you espouse consists of non material beings, aptly known as the supernatural which isn’t testable.

    Also, we’ve both held that physical natural beings like us using intelligence to build/create isn’t supernatural/non natural/non material, as such actions in nature so as for we know are restricted to natural laws.

    I asked for evidence of how a non material mind works, or how could it work as you describe it, or as efren ts put it, in the absence of any proof that intelligence can operate independently of the physical form (do you have such evidence?) you persist that a non material mind is tenable.
    Certainly non material/non physical is defined, but regrettably rather than demonstrating how it works, we get told such a question as to how it works, & how you know it works is as you eloquently put it – irrelevant.

  191. 191

    agentorange,

    We’ve both repeatedly held that nature/natural is that which is physical, measurable, & testable,

    Is this philosophy of naturalism itself physical, measurable, and testable? It’s metaphysical, so how would you measure it as physical? How would you so measure dignity or free will or music theory, to name a few immaterial things that must be supernatural to you?

  192. StephenB, @186

    “I didn’t say that we don’t have evidence that minds “exist,” which we clearly do, I said that we don’t know how they work, which we clearly don’t.”

    Indeed we do have evidence that minds exist, but regrettably for you the only evidence is of the physical sort. Saying we don’t have a fully comprehensive understanding for the self is not sufficient to claim that in the absence of the physical holder it can remain. If anything all the evidence is to the contrary to the notion of a non material mind, humans or otherwise, as the ‘self’ is an aggregate emergent property.

    At any rate you’re advocating that the self/mind which is physically bound to the brain can (somehow?) exist despite the material which constitutes it is non existent or has ceased to exist in the same organized pattern that previously existed. Your position is that in the absence of the physical brain the mind/self can exist, (can you please detail this?) & you appear to make some claims as to knowing how it non materially works, this is an interesting claim, but it demands some extraordinary evidence.

  193. 193

    vjtorley,

    Thanks for your comment. I read the post that you referenced and while it contains some interesting information that was new to me, I regret that I don’t agree with your opinions about what the Medieval theologians were driving at. I think that you, like StephenB, have a different view of history that comports with your notion of an interventionist deity along the lines of your further comment:

    I would also add that defining methodological naturalism as “the study of natural (secondary) causes” is not accurate. Methodological naturalism is more than the investigation of secondary causes; it is the total exclusion of the Primary Cause (God) from the domain of science.

    I submit that the Medieval theologians whom Seversky and I cited excluded God’s intervention from the communis cursus naturae centuries ago.

  194. I have a question. What has a non material mind have to do with ID or methodological naturalism? Isn’t this the usual claptrap used to get religion into the discussion.

    I haven’t been following the discussion just the inane replies to my few comments and then the recent comments of the anti ID people which are also fatuous. So it is quite possible I missed something

  195. Clive @191,

    “Is this philosophy of naturalism itself physical, measurable, and testable?”

    Are you saying, is the Scientific method itself testable? I trust I don’t have to go into how, why it’s among the most historically accurate methods of investigation of reality we’ve ever concieved.

  196. Clive @184,

    “If your thoughts were the product of material movements, no thoughts would be objectively true outside of their physical parameters and movements, … If you take all thoughts to be the result of chemical stimuli, then that thought is itself a result of chemical stimuli, but so would wrong thoughts be also, and no objective or independent thought will get you out of this box of material causation””

    Yes Clive I am familiar with this ‘we can’t trust our thought’s premise. Here, I have a little thought experiment for you & anyone else who holds this position to see if you can trust your thoughts.

    1) Go & find a nice metal hammer. Got one? Good. Now while it make look like a hammer, & feel like a hammer, those are only thoughts, which you can’t trust. So it probably isn’t a hammer.

    2) Lay your left hand down on table. Don’t worry knowledge that your hand is on the table is merely a thought, which you obviously can’t trust.

    3) Now take the hammer in the right hand & smash your left hand, & do so repeatedly. For those of you stupid enough to proceed with this experiment don’t worry that sensation you’re felling ‘pain’, it’s just a thought in your head & you really can’t trust it.

    But I am pretty sure the majority of you refused to play along. Why? Simple. You know as well as I that our thoughts are reliable & can be trusted. You didn’t hit your hand with the hammer b/c you trusted your thoughts. The consistency of our senses within & between individuals is all anyone needs to know we can trust our thoughts.

    But science has gone further in recording neurons within brains we can study what causes them to fire, how they communicate, what information they carry & transmit, & how reliable they are. Our thoughts are a product of the collective activity of neurons, & our neurons reliably transmit information about the world around us. Therefore our thoughts can be trusted.

  197. agentorange — did you miss post 171?

  198. 198

    agentorange,

    Therefore our thoughts can be trusted.

    I agree. The entire purpose is that they can’t be trusted on the grounds of materialism. If you ask me why, I will suspect that you don’t understand the last three or four comments I have made to you.

  199. 199

    agentorange,

    Are you saying, is the Scientific method itself testable? I trust I don’t have to go into how, why it’s among the most historically accurate methods of investigation of reality we’ve ever concieved.

    Of course you’re welcome to this philosophy, but it cannot be tested nor measured in the same way that the philosophy demands, so it becomes self-referentially incoherent when applied to itself.

  200. Stephen at 188:

    —effrents: “But I am a generous soul…

    If you were a generous soul, you would do me the courtesy of defining “nature.”

    I did. And I even told you where to find it in the exact same comment that you quoted above. Good googly moogly, Stephen, it was two paragrap comment and you managed to completely miss one of them.

  201. —-agentorange: “We’ve both repeatedly held that nature/natural is that which is physical, measurable, & testable, while the immaterial, ethereal world which doesn’t follow according to natural laws which you espouse consists of non material beings, aptly known as the supernatural which isn’t testable.”

    I am going to be respectful here, because you are beginning to address the issue. Using my example of the burglar and the tornado, are you saying that the tornado is a natural cause and the burglar is a supernatural cause?– and that the valcano that buried pompeii was a natural cause, while the humans that built Pompeii were supernatural causes?

    —-“Also, we’ve both held that physical natural beings like us using intelligence to build/create isn’t supernatural/non natural/non material, as such actions in nature so as for we know are restricted to natural laws”

    Or, are you saying here that human beings are natural causes? Are human beings, acting as causal agents, natural causes or supernatural causes?

  202. “We’ve both repeatedly held that nature/natural is that which is physical, measurable, & testable,”

    This means that what you hold to be nature/natural is supernatural!!!

    Vivid

  203. —effrents; “Fien, nature is the physical world which can be studied, tested, and understood through sensory observation.

    Yes, but we have to define a “natural cause,” because MN studies natural causes. We know that a tornado is a natural cause. What I need to know is if my infamous burglar, who was differentiated from that tornado due to his purposeful activity, is also a natural cause–that is–are the tornado and the burglar the same kind of cause.

    If so, would that mean that if the burglar’s choice is motivated by an immaterial mind, and not his brain, he then becomes supernatural cause, but if his choice is motivated by a material mind/brain, then he is a only a natural cause after all? Similarly, I need to know if the agents that built Pompeii’s are the same kind of cause as the valcano that buried it. Or is it the case that if the agents who built Pompeii were motivated by immaterial minds, they would then be supernatural causes, but it they were motivated by material brains/mind, they would be, under those circumtstances, natural causes.

  204. Steven:

    Yes, but we have to define a “natural cause,” because MN studies natural causes. We know that a tornado is a natural cause. What I need to know is if my infamous burglar, who was differentiated from that tornado due to his purposeful activity, is also a natural cause–that is–are the tornado and the burglar the same kind of cause.

    Your question is poorly constructed, but I think we can get past it if you answer one simple question. Do you agree that humans have a physical form and exist in the physical world? Yes or no.

  205. —agentorange: “Indeed we do have evidence that minds exist, but regrettably for you the only evidence is of the physical sort.”

    Once again we have the same problem. You are not defining your terms. Except for epiphenominalists, who seek to have it both ways, everyone knows that a mind is thought to be an immaterial entity, as is the soul, as is the will, and everyone knows that the brain is a material physical organ. So, when you hear me speak of mind, be sure that I am referring to an immaterial faculty of the soul, which, as long as it is housed in a body, cannot function in the absence of a physical brain, but can, nevertheless do things that the brain cannot do, indeed, can do nobler things than the brain can do and, to some extent, can control the brain’s impulses. Outside the body, that may be a different matter. Note that I am not arguing for the existence of these things, I am telling you what I mean when I use the term. This is the point that effrents doesn’t seem to understand. To define is not to argue or prove the existence of anything. It is to explain what you mean when you use the language so people can know what you are talking about. It is the immaterial mind that I say reason provides much evidence for.

    When you say “we do have evidence that minds exist,” what do you mean when you use the word, mind. Everyone knows we have a physical organ in our head; that is no revelation.

  206. We have to define a “natural cause,” because MN studies natural causes. We know that a tornado is a natural cause. What I need to know is if my infamous burglar, who was differentiated from that tornado due to his purposeful activity, is also a natural cause–that is–are the tornado and the burglar the same kind of cause.

    —effrents: “Your question is poorly constructed, but I think we can get past it if you answer one simple question. Do you agree that humans have a physical form and exist in the physical world? Yes or no.”

    You didn’t way why it was poorly constructed, which probably means that it was not poorly constructed.
    It seems rather that you are not predisposed to answering it.

    —”Do you agree that humans have a physical form and exist in the physical world? Yes or no.”

    Yes.

    Do you see how easy it is to give a straight answer to a straight question?

    Go thou and do likewise, beginning with the one above.

  207. StephenB:

    This is the point that effrents doesn’t seem to understand. To define is not to argue or prove the existence of anything.

    Oh, I understand perfectly what is going on. As is typical, you are trying to game the system by slipping unwarranted assumptions in unnoticed at the beginning so that the subsequent discussion can only end up where you want it to. And your protestations notwithstanding, you are still trying to sneak an as-yet unsupported assertion into the discussion via the seemingly innocuous definition.

    I certainly understand that is your definition and your whole grand proof rests on that definition being true. But, if you wish anyone other than Jerry or Clive to accept your definition, you first have to support the embedded assertion. So, again I offer to accept your definition once you prove that human intelligence can operate independently of the physical body it is associated with. With that small matter out of the way you can go on to dazzle me with your brilliance.

    ”Do you agree that humans have a physical form and exist in the physical world? Yes or no.”

    Yes.

    Do you see how easy it is to give a straight answer to a straight question?

    Go thou and do likewise, beginning with the one above.

    Not quite yet. We have a few other matters yet to come to a meeting of the minds with regard to. Based on my definition of nature as “the physical world which can be studied, tested, and understood through sensory observation,” please state unequivocally how you think what is classically defined as “artificial” comports itself with that definition.

  208. [Answer my question.]

    —efren ts: “Not quite yet.”

    Not quite ever. You will never answer my questions. Nor will agent orange.

    I think the theme of this post has been more than confirmed.

    Have a great week everyone—including the MN advocatees.

  209. agentorange (#196)

    Thank you for your post. You write:

    Our thoughts are a product of the collective activity of neurons, & our neurons reliably transmit information about the world around us. Therefore our thoughts can be trusted.

    On your account, our thoughts can’t really be trusted to do much at all. To be sure, they can transmit information of the “red-patch-here-now” variety. But why should we trust them to formulate speculative hypotheses (e.g. Darwinism, or the Big Bang theory) in an intellectual effort to make sense of that information? On a Darwinian account, all we can be sure of is that whatever hypothesis we eventually come to adopt, it’s not likely to be one that reduces our biological fitness. But that doesn’t make it true – nor its negation false. Come to think of it, where do Darwinists get the notion of “true” from? “Truth” cannot be reduced to reproductive success – or any other kind of success.

    To see what’s really wrong with Methodological Naturalism and why it undermines thought, you might like to have a look at these two well-argued posts by Professor Edward Feser:

    Rosenberg on naturalism

    Rosenberg responds to his critics

    Happy hunting!

  210. StephenB said:

    —————–
    The purpose of a definition is to explain what one means and what one doesn’t mean. To say that natural causes does not mean intelligence is to define one’s terms. If only you would do that.

    Also, the definition precedes the analysis and not the other way around. The purpose for defining terms is not to argue but to clarify and makes sense of what it is that you are about to argue.
    —————–

    Nice. Let’s try this approach. Say we want to debate the existence of God. I define the term ‘God’ as ‘an imaginary all-powerful being that created the universe’. Next, I claim that God doesn’t exist, and not surprisingly I comfortably trash you in the debate.

    Do you really not see why this is a pointless approach to debating?

    fG

  211. StephenB at 208:

    efren ts: “Not quite yet.”

    Not quite ever. You will never answer my questions. Nor will agent orange.

    Yes I will, Stephen, but first we need to establish a few foundational understandings. Surely, you won’t quibble with that given your earlier insistence that we clearly define our terms.

  212. Clive and StephenB:

    The question if we can trust our thoughts is not settled by what we assume as explanation for their origin, but by how well our thoughts and their fruits correspond to the reality that exist outside ourselves. That empirical correspondence is the actual basis for science and its methodology – not philosophical musings that an immaterial mind may cause our thoughts. The moment we can’t examine this correspondence we abandon the only criterion we have for considering our thoughts true or false.

    Since we have no way to examine the correspondence between our thoughts and the ‘supernatural’ we will never know if our thoughts about that relate to reality or are mere illusions. This is why I personally equate ‘supernatural’ with ‘unknown’ and why science, the business of establishing what is true and false in the external reality, has no use for the concept.

    fG

  213. Ah yes:

    At length, we now have more or less a clear view of what ET and AO et al seem to mean when they use the term “nature.”

    Turns out, they are thinking — surprise [not!] — in the well-known, physicalist, evolutionary materialist school of thought, in which mind reduces to neuronal networks and their action potentials and pulse patterns.

    Thus, “nature” to them is in effect that familiar, commonly experienced entity which can be observed or measured in some ideal form of the sciences, especially the physical sciences: matter, energy, space, time and combinations and interactions thereof. So, for them, it starts with a big bang and proceeds through chance circumstances and mechanical forces through hydrogen, supernovae, galaxies and solar systems to life originating by chemical evolution, then diversifying through Darwinian [or similar] macro-evolutionary mechanisms to form body plans up to and including our own.

    This comfortable Lewontinian picture, however, rhetorically glides over a few gaps, causing it to reduce to absurdity (as Feser highlighted):

    1 –> Lewontin’s core problem is the imposition of a priori materialism, i.e. mere methodological naturalism has now become full blown a priori philosophical materialism. (If you assume that only matter, energy, space and time are possible or credible objects of investigation, then it is no surprise that you will only find and observe or measure such in your investigations and proffered explanations and causal chains.)

    2 –> This grand question begging exercise under the name “methodological naturalism” also subverts science from being an unfettered investigation into the truth of the cosmos based on empirical data, especially when the direct control imposed by observation in the present is removed when we try to practice origins science.

    3 –> As Philip Johnson therefore aptly rebuked Lewontin:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” 

    . . . .   The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. When the public understands this clearly, Lewontin’s Darwinism will start to move out of the science curriculum and into the department of intellectual history, where it can gather dust on the shelf next to Lewontin’s Marxism. [The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77, pp. 22 – 25. November 1997.]

    4 –> Underlying is the prestige/ appeal to authority issue. For, “science” in our day is often regarded as the golden key to all knowledge, wisdom and progress. However two fatal errors lurk.

    5 –> First, the categorical error, from Lewontin’s 1997 NYRB remarks:

    the problem is to get [ordinary people] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . . . 

    6 –> But isn’t that “obvious”? Not at all: it is an unrecognised self-refuting claim. For, “science [is] the only begetter of truth” is not a claim of science or within science or the product of its methods, but instead a philosophical assertion, a claim about epistemology. So, it necessarily refers to and contradicts itself, as it is a philosophical knowledge claim that asserts that only scientific knowledge claims are possible. Oops.

    7 –> Moreover, there is a massive quesiton-begging at work, once we see that the remote past is inescapably unobservable: we simply were not there, so we can only infer to it, and compare alternative explanations or narratives, to see which is the best explanation in light of trends, traces and processes in the present that seem to be relevant. But, if one rules out ahead of time that the fine-tuned delicately balanced and evidently complex and organised cosmos could have been the product of art, one has subverted the inference to best explanation process by spectacularly begging the question.

    8 –> And if such question-begging has become institutionally entrenched, then the reason why “To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality” becomes painfully obvious: the scientists in question are living in a materialistic hall of mirrors and are seeing reflections of their philosophical assumptions, not the patent truth about the world.

    9 –> And for that, the use of loaded language is a telling sign: “demons.”

    10 –> As a result, the materialist magisterium has subverted origins science into a mythology enforced by power and by manipulative rhetoric, now to be imposed on the general public through misinformation-laced miseducation and even indefensible redefinitions of science.

    11 –> When it comes to accounting for the origin of man, mind and morals, the problems with self-referential incoherence become painfully plain. For instance, neuronal action potentials are in terms of millivolts and pulse repetition rates are in pulses per second, not terms of”true” or “false” or “rational” or “just.” that is physical instantiation of organised information processing systems and the meaningful, conscious mental processes associated therewith are radically diverse as to core characteristics.

    12 –> Nor is this news. Leibniz long ago wrote this in his reflections on the mill as an analogy of brain vs mind:

    17. It must be confessed . . . that perception [i.e. the conscious experience], and that which depends upon it [mental thinking], are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perception, we could conceive of it as increased in size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find anything to explain perception. It is accordingly in the simple substance [i.e. what he termed a monad, a fundamental entity of as yet unidentified nature . . . a common enough exercise in the sciences by the way where unobserved core concepts and objects are routinely used, e.g. in physics], and not in the compound nor in a machine that the perception is to be sought. Furthermore, there is nothing besides perceptions and their changes to be found in the simple substance. And it is in these alone that all the internal activities of the simple substance can consist.

    13 –> But also, there is a serious dynamical problem on explaining the origin of a credible, reasoning mind on evolutionary materialist premises:

    [evolutionary] materialism [a worldview that often likes to wear the mantle of "science"] . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature [from hydrogen to humans]. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance.

    But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, what we subjectively experience as “thoughts” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (These forces are viewed as ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance ["nature"] and psycho-social conditioning ["nurture"], within the framework of human culture [i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].)

    Therefore, if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them. And, if our materialist friends then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!

    Thus, evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? And, should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze?

    In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic . . . .

    14 –> For years, I have noted materialists at UD and elsewhere trying to evade or dismiss this, or even to say nihilistically that this is “the truth” that we have to live with [as Prof Feser notes], but they have never come up with a cogent answer that implies that on evolutionary materialist premises we can solidly GROUND the credibility of the minds — of whatever ultimate nature, we definitely reason, perceive, are conscious and en-conscienced, so we might as well use this term — that we have to use to think materialist thoughts.

    15 –> And so, we come back to the imposition of methodological naturalism as a censoring rule on science and its damaging consequences.

    16 –> Plainly, in its own right, it is censoring out live option possible explanatory and causal factors on origins [too often, in service to a materialist ideology in not only the institutions of science and education but the civilisation as a whole . . . which brings up the inherent and radically destructive amorality and relativism of evolutionary materialism] , and so subverts origins science from being able to exercise an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible), progressive search for the truth about our world based on observation, credible empirical evidence and reasoned discussion and analysis among the informed.

    17 –> But also, such impositions and associated ruthlessly amoral rhetorical and institutional politics tactics are corrupting of science as an institution, and that is a critical issue given the importance of science to our survival and thriving in the C21.

    18 –> in particular, as functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information have emerged as key concepts and objects over the past sixty years, we have come to see that science is poised to go through another revolution, the design revolution. but, the materialist old guard are fighting tooth and nail to preserve their privileged position.

    19 –. So, let us lastly ponder the implications of Wicken’s remarks:

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

    ___________

    So, StephenB has obviously put his finger on a vital issue.

    Great opening post as a contributor at UD!

    GEM of TKI

  214. PS: FG, once you have made clear that your definition of “God” is idiosyncratic , then it becomes a simple exercise to correct the error.

    But if instead one wanders all over the world of ideas refusing to be clear and distinct in his or her terms, that simply invites confusion and deadlock. Worse, in the case of deceptive rhetors trying to defend an established order that has passed tis sell-by date on the merits, such obfuscation is a well known cynical resort. So, to make sure we are neither deceivers ourselves not taken in by them, the pursuit of clarity becomes doubly important.

    So, Wiki on definition is vital and apt:

    A definition is a formal passage describing the meaning of a term (a word or phrase). The term to be defined is the definiendum (plural definienda). A term may have many different senses or meanings. For each such specific sense, a definiens (plural definientia) is a cluster of words that defines it . . . .

    An intensional definition, also called a connotative definition, specifies the necessary and sufficient conditions for a thing being a member of a specific set. Any definition that attempts to set out the essence of something, such as that by genus and differentia, is an intensional definition.

    An extensional definition, also called a denotative definition, of a concept or term specifies its extension. It is a list naming every object that is a member of a specific set.

    So, for example, an intensional definition of ‘Prime Minister’ might be the most senior minister of a cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. An extensional definition would be a list of all past, present and future prime ministers.

    One important form of the extensional definition is ostensive definition. This gives the meaning of a term by pointing, in the case of an individual, to the thing itself, or in the case of a class, to examples of the right kind. So you can explain who Alice (an individual) is by pointing her out to me; or what a rabbit (a class) is by pointing at several and expecting me to ‘catch on’. The process of ostensive definition itself was critically appraised by Ludwig Wittgenstein.[2]

    An enumerative definition of a concept or term is an extensional definition that gives an explicit and exhaustive listing of all the objects that fall under the concept or term in question. Enumerative definitions are only possible for finite sets and only practical for relatively small sets . . . . Traditionally, a definition consists of the genus (the family) of thing to which the defined thing belongs, and the differentia (the distinguishing feature which marks it off from other members of the same family). Thus triangle is defined as a plane figure (genus) bounded by three straight sides (differentia)

    But, in the end, you have here shown why it is important — and functional in serious discussions — to first treat definitions as expressing meaning clearly, THEN ask whether they make sense on being examined closely as to what hey really mean, and as to how that relates to credible facts and issues. A praxis that is as old in philosophy as the Socratic Dialogues. This is part of why no educated person should be unacquainted with these works. (The exchange in The Laws, Bk X — and note the pivotal definitional discussion on soul vs life therein — is especially relevant to the issues being dealt with above.)

  215. PPS: Ostensive definition is in fact the foundational one: we form a CONCEPT based on examples, then infer to characteristics and express them verbally and hopefully precisely. In effect we are using here something rather like the old set builder notation for mathematical sets, modified by the family resemblance principle: we recognise new examples form how they are more or less analogous to old accepted ones — and BTW this brings out how the current schools programming to dismiss analogies out of hand is wrongheaded — at some point we have to mark a border, however roughly and provisionally.

    It is worth citing fromt he just linked on analogy:

    Analogy is a cognitive process of transferring information from a particular subject (the analogue or source) to another particular subject (the target), and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process. In a narrower sense, analogy is an inference or an argument from one particular to another particular, as opposed to deduction, induction, and abduction, where at least one of the premises or the conclusion is general. The word analogy can also refer to the relation between the source and the target themselves, which is often, though not necessarily, a similarity, as in the biological notion of analogy.

    Analogy plays a significant role in problem solving, decision making, perception, memory, creativity, emotion, explanation and communication. It lies behind basic tasks such as the identification of places, objects and people, for example, in face perception and facial recognition systems. It has been argued that analogy is “the core of cognition”.[1] Specific analogical language comprises exemplification, comparisons, metaphors, similes, allegories, and parables, but not metonymy. Phrases like and so on, and the like, as if, and the very word like also rely on an analogical understanding by the receiver of a message including them. Analogy is important not only in ordinary language and common sense, where proverbs and idioms give many examples of its application, but also in science, philosophy and the humanities. The concepts of association, comparison, correspondence, mathematical and morphological homology, homomorphism, iconicity, isomorphism, metaphor, resemblance, and similarity are closely related to analogy. In cognitive linguistics, the notion of conceptual metaphor may be equivalent to that of analogy.

    And, note how I am making sure to . . . clarify terms, ideas, concepts, views etc.

  216. PPPS: Collins English Dictionary:

    nature [?ne?t??]
    n
    1. the fundamental qualities of a person or thing; identity or essential character
    2. (often capital, esp when personified) the whole system of the existence, arrangement, forces, and events of all physical life that are not controlled by man
    3. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Biology) all natural phenomena and plant and animal life, as distinct from man and his creations

    4. a wild primitive state untouched by man or civilization
    5. natural unspoilt scenery or countryside
    6. disposition or temperament
    7. tendencies, desires, or instincts governing behaviour
    8. the normal biological needs or urges of the body
    9. sort; kind; character
    10. the real appearance of a person or thing a painting very true to nature
    11. accepted standards of basic morality or behaviour
    12. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Biology) Biology the complement of genetic material that partly determines the structure of an organism; genotype Compare nurture [3]
    13. Irish sympathy and fondness for one’s own people or native place she is full of nature
    against nature unnatural or immoral
    by nature essentially or innately
    call of nature Informal, euphemistic or humorous the need to urinate or defecate
    from nature using natural models in drawing, painting, etc.
    in (or of) the nature of essentially the same as; by way of
    [via Old French from Latin n?t?ra, from n?tus, past participle of nasc? to be born]

    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

    Notice, how this definiiton carefuly avoids excessive metaphysical commitments, by contrast with how Wikipedia — which si aof course dominarted by materialistic ideology — stumbles badly:

    Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical universe, material world or material universe. “Nature” refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. Manufactured objects and human interaction are not considered part of nature unless qualified in ways such as “human nature” or “the whole of nature”. Nature is generally distinguished from the supernatural.

    Note, too, how Wiki mentions then glides over the nature/art distinction, rushing to the nature/ supernatural one.

  217. While I stand by my previous decision to not carry on a discussion with KF, I would note that, despite honoring us with a 3420 word tome (and Stephen has the nerve to mock Seversky for a mere 2958 word comment), he has yet to offer any proof that human intelligence can operate independently of the physical form it is associated with. Clear that small hurdle and accept your definition of natural.

  218. Onlookers:

    It is a sadly familiar materialist’s debate tactic to dismiss on style or length etc that which they have no cogent answer to on the merits.

    So, the ball is definitely in ET’s court; to show that s/he has a sound answer to the issues already raised by not only the humble blog commenter as undersigned, but by serious thinkers all the way up to a Plantinga etc in the current era — and dating back to Plato in the Laws, Bk X.

    On seeing that,we notice the rede herring led away to a strawman distortion of the issue, and that ET of course is being question-begging, within a demonstrably self-referentially incoherent system of thought.

    As to the distractive issue of human mental functioning being “independent” of the body, the inference ET invites pivots on a key ambiguity in the concept of cause: sufficient vs necessary vs necessary and sufficient.

    (In a nutshell: Air, heat and fuel are each necessary for and jointly sufficient to trigger or sustain a fire under ordinary circumstances. Presence/absence of each factor influences outcomes, but does not wholly determine it. Just so, mind and body [this last including Brain and CNS] are jointly involved in human bodily function. But hat has no evidential value in deciding that mind cannot act independent of or is wholly emergent from or is simply a manifestation of body, a la “the brain secretes thoughts as the liver secretes bile.” ET is wishing to smuggle in materialism as default by the back door, but we see on separate grounds that it is a logical non-starter, being inescapably self-contradictory. )

    Human bodily functioning of course is influenced by the body, including the brain and CNS as in-built i/o controller with considerable storage. But to go on from that to infer that it is wholly reducible to/ nothing but a manifestation such is a horse of a decidedly different colour. One that runs into the problem of Crick’s patently absurd nothing buttery:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing. [The Astonishing hypothesis, 1994]

    To that, Johnson’s rebuke in his Reason in the Balance, 1995, is apt: Sir Francis should have been therefore willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”  Johnson then acidly commented:  “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”

    That is, Johnson is arguing that IF self-evident “fact no 1″ — that we are conscious, mental creatures who at least some of the time have freedom to think, intend, decide, speak, act and even write based on the logic and evidence of the situation  – is false, THEN the science and rationality are dead.

    Put in other words, it is quite plain that self-referential absurdity is the dagger pointing to the heart of any such reductionistic evolutionary materialistic determinism as seeks to explain “all” — including mind — by “nothing more than” natural forces acting on matter and energy, in light of chance initial and intervening circumstances. (This is as opposed to restricted explanations that explain (i) natural regularities by reference to (a) underlying mechanical necessity, and explain (ii) highly contingent situations by reference to (b) chance and/or (c) intelligent action. We then distinguish b and c by identifying and applying reliable signs of intelligence; similar to what obtains in statistical hypothesis testing and in control-treatment experiment designs and related factor analysis.)

    Notwithstanding such sharp exchanges, on either approach, through the Derek Smith two-tier controller robotics model and related possibilities for the supervisory controller for the i/o controller sub-system, we have potentially fruitful frameworks of thought on which we can investigate the nature of mind and its interaction with the body and brain, within both materialistic and non-materialistic worldviews. (And, by the way, it is not beyond the realm of the reasonably possible that BOTH fully material and dualistic mind-body intelligent cybernetic systems may prove to be feasible!)

    _______________

    Coming back to the main topic, it is clear that the effective function of MN is to smuggle in philosophical a priori materialism into science by the back door. And to do that, it distorts the history and proper — historically warranted [Do you want to imply that say a Newton or a Pascal or a Maxwell or a Kelvin were not practising science? Let's just say that the very fact that units of measure go by those names is a refutation in itself!] — definition of science.

    And ends up subverting science — especially origins science — from being:

    an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, based on observation, evidence and reasoned analysis and discussion among the informed

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  219. KF:

    Onlookers:

    Friends, Romans, Countrymen!

    It is a sadly familiar materialist’s debate tactic to dismiss on style or length etc that which they have no cogent answer to on the merits.

    Actually, I only commented on length, not style. But that said, you might have a word with the author of comment 72, who seems to have also criticized another commenter on the same grounds.

    As to having no answer to your comments, well that is certainly true, but only because I didn’t read them at length. I did scan them to see if you were stepping up to the challenge at hand and finding that you hadn’t, I moved on.

    ET is wishing to smuggle in materialism as default by the back door

    Actually, no. I came in through the front door, loud and proud. We know that there is a significant physical component of human cognition. The impact of traumatic brain injury and the relative efficacy of modern medication in treating various mental disorders such as depression or schizophrenia stand as testament. That is all established science, thus the “materialist” position is our starting point.

    Now if you wish to assert that it is more than just really complex biochemistry, have at it. I’m open to the assertion that we are more than that. We all want to feel special, now don’t we? But, I would note, in your additional 870 words you have provided no proof of a mind working independent of it’s physical form. Oh, you shared some fine words about self-referential absurdities, but you have yet to rise above the level of deus ex machina.

  220. FG–I define the term ‘God’ as ‘an imaginary all-powerful being that created the universe’.

    Here’s an exercise: define rojo as white, tener as to speak, hablar as to have, then have a debate with a Mexican.

    You will comfortably trash him, I’m sure :-)

  221. efren ts: “Yes I will, Stephen, but first we need to establish a few foundational understandings.”

    No, you will not. You, and agentorange have been given plenty of room and rope. You cannot and will not defend your position and everyone knows it. All rational people know that a burglar is a different kind of cause than a tornado; all rational people know that the builders of Pompeii were a different kind of cause than the valcano that buried it. Anyone who does not know that, or who will not own up to it, is either irrational or intellectually dishonest. I have no more time to dance. Sorry.

    —-”Actually, I only commented on length, not style. But that said, you might have a word with the author of comment 72, who seems to have also criticized another commenter on the same grounds.”

    I commented on another blogger using 3000 words to evade the issue and conduct a seminar on that which we already know, not for simply using 3000 words. Any long post that contains relevant and instructive content is welcome.

  222. Stephen, all rational people know that burglars are people and tornados are not. All rational people know that people built Pompeii and do not build volcanoes. People and tornados/volcanoes are different categories of entities. Nobody disputes this.

    What is disputed is that the category that includes people also includes other, altogether unspecified and never observed entities that share certain characteristics with people (intelligence, volition etc.). Nothing in any of your examples or definitions supports that inclusion. It is certainly not reasonable to insist that such entities exist without presenting a lot more evidence for them than you have done so far.

    fG

  223. FG:

    All rational people also know that people are intelligent and volcanoes and tornadoes are not.

    Further, all intelligent people know that people cannot be reasonably claimed to exhaust the list of possible intelligent agents.

    Cf the excerpt from Wicken for the implied issues:

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

    And now, let us remember, from Michael denton, just what sort of system we are directly interested in addressing:

    The intuitive feeling that pure chance could never have achieved the degree of complexity and ingenuity so ubiquitous in nature has been a continuing source of scepticism since the publication of the Origin . . . . To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometers in diameter [so each atom in it would be “the size of a tennis ball”] and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometer in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules [ 500 k - 3 bn 4-state bases typically . .. i.e. we effectively start at an order of magnitude beyond 1 k bits just for DNA]. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell.

    We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines . . . . We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices used for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction . . . .

    However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equaled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours . . . . Unlike our own pseudo-automated assembly plants, where external controls are being continually applied, the cell’s manufacturing capability is entirely self-regulated . . . .

    [T]he complexity of biological systems in terms of the sheer number of unique components is very impressive; and it raises the obvious question: could any sort of purely random process ever have assembled such systems in the time available? [Evolution: a Theory in Crisis, 1986, pp. 327 – 331]

    Muy interesante.

    So, is this order or organisation?

    What does that strongly suggest or may well imply, about the ultimate source of the cell?

    On what grounds?

    And, would it make a dime’s worth of difference to the empirically anchored seeking of the truth about the cosmos, if the cell were indeed conclusively seen as an artifact of intelligence?

    If so/ if not so, what does that tell us about methodological naturalism?

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Onlookers, note too the silence on the nature definitions front . . .

  224. Stephen at 221:

    No, you will not.

    Yes, I will. But, we need to get a few definitions and foundational understandings out of the way first in order to allow others to know exactly what I mean so that they can judge my facility to use them and draw reasonable conclusions in the process.

    You, and agentorange have been given plenty of room and rope.

    Rope? I am shocked (shocked!) to find that you are not in this discussion to understand how other people approach this problem, but rather are here to conduct a rhetorical lynching of your presumed opponents. (On a slightly tangential note, I have heard that there is gambling taking place at Rick’s Café Américain.)

    All rational people know that a burglar is a different kind of cause than a tornado; all rational people know that the builders of Pompeii were a different kind of cause than the valcano that buried it

    I suppose that is true. Depending, of course, on how you define “different.” Fear not, though, I have no intention of parsing that word any further than to ask if you agree that there are multiple shades of different up to, and including, mutually exclusive.

    Anyone who does not know that, or who will not own up to it, is either irrational or intellectually dishonest.

    Well, I intend to prove both my rationality and my honestly. Come now, let us reason together.

    I have no more time to dance. Sorry.

    Probably just as well, Sam just started playing “As Time Goes By.” Nice song, but not much of a beat.

    Any long post that contains relevant and instructive content is welcome.

    Well, I’d ask you to point me to where in KF’s comments he provided the proof that the human mind can operate independently of the physical body it is associated with. But, that would be putting the cart before the horse until we get our heads together on a few other matters first.

  225. PPS: Kick the issue up a notch by addressing the origin of a fine-tuned, cell based life facilitating cosmos. Can one — apart form a priori materialism — eliminate the possibility that such was intelligently designed by an extra-cosmic creator? Can one postulate another causal explanation that is beyond reasonable dispute superior on factual adequacy, coherence, and explanatory elegance and power? [And since this is the ONLY context in which ID qua science suggests a super-natural (i.e. extra-cosmic and grounding the cosmos) inference as the prime possibility, to play ate strawman games as above, is irrelevant and distractive. It might even fall afoul of the issue of selective hyperskepticism . . . ]

  226. Clive, @ 198

    You conceded you can trust your thoughts, & this came as the conclusion through a materialistic realization & understanding (per my example w/ the hammer no less) that they are linked to your physical brain. Odd how on one hand you say you can trust them when it comes to you having to bash your hand with a hammer, but then you do a 180’ and assert the materialism on which that premise is founded on you say it can’t be trusted. Oh dear…

    @ 199

    Is the philosophy itself reducible to physical, observed, measureable reality? As mentioned earlier the law of non contradiction is among some of the rules of logic used in the method, & this method is reducible to the physical world around us in which we cannot necessarily be moving in opposing directions simultaneously.
    Though I am not sure how valid a logical rule is it, as it fails to accurately explain some of the movements at the subatomic level where sub atomic particles are not only moving in multiple directions but doing so apparently at once.
    The scientific method currently used is the end product of many years of analyzing what philosophy is able to most accurately able to described reality & make corrections to further refine the view of reality as new evidence is found & tested. I would think all the fruits of science would be indicative that the method is reliable, is accurate, & allows for continual accommodation of new data. I guess to you such fruits aren’t evidence of the method itself being even remotely accurate.

  227. StephenB @201,

    “I am going to be respectful here:”

    Next time you’re feeling respectful, get up the gumption, ( dare I say courage?) & take it upon yourself to describe your op ed assertions. 1) How a non material mind works, & 2) how you know it works as how you describe it does.

    “are you saying that the tornado is a natural cause and the burglar is a supernatural cause?–“

    No. I stated earlier quite clearly, as did efren ts, that nature, & thus natural causes would include not only natural events like earthquakes, tornadoes & the like, but also actions in which a physical being, like us, or your bears, are altering the physical makeup (cabin) of something in nature. Are such things detectable? Yes. These changes would be measurable, testable, & determinable with known applicable natural laws.

    As I alluded to earlier, the supernatural, would consist of, in part, ethereal non material things (god, angels, etc), & for reasons that I don’t think I have to describe, both physical reality & us, including our brains, are part of material reality.

    “are you saying here that human beings are natural causes? Are human beings, acting as causal agents, natural causes or supernatural causes?”

    Their actions are consistent with known applicable natural laws, that is they cannot supersede them or act outside of them as supposedly supernatural things/agents can.
    I earlier in comment 45 explained how Behe holds that in certain steps where the known natural physical laws are considered, he contends that no natural process could have allowed for the flagella to form, thus he’s saying some non material (wink* wink*) agent whom he calls ‘the designer’ acted in forming this system for the bacterium.

    So yes, humans & bears & other physical beings are part of the possible natural causes that physical reality involves, as they can’t supersede them, they can’t magically out of nowhere create the flagella for instance.

  228. efron ts, I apologize in advance for the length of this post, yet apparently I need to explain myself better than I have been since you seem to be ignoring my previous explanations.

    efron ts:
    “Since you have fufilled my prediction about diverting the conversation away from substantive questions into infinite parsing of definitions (Dictionarys! All the way down!), I really have nothing more to add except to point out again that Stephen’s definition, which you seem rather fond of, assumes his conclusion that intelligence is not natural. That is an assertion that has yet to be proven and, therefore, is unwarranted.”

    I am actually becoming fond of StephenB. In fact, before this conversation, I was a strict methodological naturalist. I’m now more agnostic and leaning away from both it and materialism.

    Second, I both dealt with the fact that your definition does not work to usefully separate the natural from the supernatural, since it is akin to stating that the supernatural = “that which we can’t *yet* measure,” and thus causes MN to be a gap maker and science stopper.

    Then, I actually did answer the question, given your definitions. Why are you ignoring the answer? Do you not “like” the answer.

    Furthermore, StephenB didn’t “assume” that intelligence is not natural, he first defined natural as law+chance, then he noticed that there is a difference between things that can be defined by only law+chance and events that require intelligence. Then, I added the fact that law is subservient to intelligence (since intelligence can indeed design laws/algorithms and sets of laws/algorithms), and there is no reason to suppose that law+chance can generate intelligence on its own (absent previous intelligence), and I already linked to a previous explanation of mine on this very subject. This places intelligence in a position above/superior to the subservient category of law+chance, and thus “super” to law+chance/nature — “supernatural.” This categorization is useful in a discussion of MN and makes the “MNer’s” position useless as it realtes to science. You have yet to counter any of this if you believe that there is any contradiction or incorrect reasoning.

    Did you miss all that the first time I explained it?

    Third, StephenB has gone over that over and over and over again now, and you seem to not “like” what he is saying as well, since you seem to either flail around without addressing any supposed inconsistency in his position as it relates to MN and science. Or you just ignore him almost as well as you are ignoring my answers to your questions.

    CJYman:
    “Well since ID Theory is only about objectively discovering signs of previous intelligence, then we are good to go.”

    efron ts:
    “In principal, it could be. In practice, not by a country mile. As I stated, the only intelligence we can conclusively identify and study is that which is tied to a physical form. Now, I suppose you I have opened to door for you to protest that I have not sufficiently define “physical”, but I trust that you are not so obstinate to debate that humans have a physical form and exist in the physical world.”

    The only requirement for intelligence is that a sufficiently organized information processing system exist. Thus, intelligence can indeed reside in a human brain, an animal brain, a silicon computer, a computer made of material that we humans have not yet utilized for computation, in sufficiently organized information processing events, in sufficiently organized quantum events, in the structure of the foundation of the universe itself, etc.

    In fact, I don’t see how your statement addresses, or in any way negates, my statement. ID Theory in its present scientific and quantifiable form can only detect the existence of previous intelligence in an events causal chain. If you disagree, then please show me what more ID Theory can do. That would be most interesting and, I’m sure, enlightening for all ID proponents.

    efron ts:
    “The problem with ID is that posits a presumed designer that is outside of nature (using any definition).”

    I think that the distinction between natural and supernatural is artificial yet useful to distinguish law+chance from intelligence, and show the one way subservience of law+chance to intelligence. The reason I see the distinction as artificial is because, according to the definition of “nature” being that which can be measured, tested, and observed at least indirectly (by observing effects), I actually see intelligence as perfectly natural. Yet, the point of this thread of StephenB’s is that no matter which way you define it, MN becomes useless in science (as opposed to the “ground rule” which some scientists wish to impose on others). But, of course I’ve already explained this above and you’ve done quite well ignoring my explanations.

    So, actually, the definition does make a tremendous difference. Yet, either way, MN is rendered useless from a scientific vantage, which again, is the whole point.

    efron ts:
    “Sure, some will occasionally agree that the designer could be a space alien (wink! wink!), but no one in the ID community actually believes that.”

    And what does this have to do with the subject of this thread, or the ID argument again? Since I am a panentheist, I actually think that it is the universe itself, or the quantum mechanical foundation of the universe which is the foundational/ultimate intelligence. This is consistent with Penrose and Hameroff theory referencing consciousness being a fundamental quality alongside matter/energy.

    efron ts:
    “So, by being outside of nature the designer is not amenable to study like the more mundane forms of intelligence that we are familiar with.”

    So long as that intelligence leaves effects, that intelligence is able to be studied in the same manner that the aliens who transmit a message to us would in theory be able to be studied based on the signal that they send. However, this is wondering more into psychology of intelligence rather than ID proper. So intelligence (no matter where it resides — beyond, at the foundation, or within out universe) becomes perfectly natural in the sense of producing effects which are measurable, detectable, etc, yet is still supernatural in the sense of being “over” nature (law+chance).

    That is why I see the distinction as artificial yet useful. I have merely combined both your and StephenB’s definitions and utilize them where appropriate. And again, on topic with the original point of this thread, no matter which way the terms are defined, this does nothing to help the “MNer’s” assertions that ID is not science as per the rules of MN.

    efron ts:
    “But, until such time as you can demonstrate that human intelligence can operate independent of the ugly bag of mostly water it is associated with, you are, to repeat, assuming your conclusion.”

    Computers are already intelligent, in the sense of AI (lacking consciousness). Do you have any theoretical reason to suggest that computers can not also become conscious?

    efron ts:
    “So, to your statement, ID could become scientific. All that it needs to do is produce the designer. But, alas, any question of the means, motives, or identity of the designer is strictly forbidden.”

    ID already is scientific. By your “rational” here, neither the big bang, a study of e and b fields, nor past evolution would be scientific until you produce such things.

    Means, motives, and identity are part of psychology and further “forensic type” research. Perfectly useful, yet with limitations, and not part of the mathematics and inference of ID Theory proper.

  229. StephenB, @ 203

    “burglar’s choice is motivated by an immaterial mind, and not his brain, he then becomes supernatural cause”

    Oh dear Steve, could you at least show some evidence that the identity of mind/self is not linked to the physical brain? Here’s your chance, explain how a non material mind works, & moreover how you know it works as it claim it does.

    @205

    “I am referring to an immaterial faculty of the soul, which, as long as it is housed in a body, cannot function in the absence of a physical brain, but can, nevertheless do things that the brain cannot do”

    Ok, I got you, in this the ‘mind’ is interchangeable with ‘soul or ‘conscious’, we don’t disagree with that much. But your statement isn’t only that the mind exists, as I would agree with you there, but your claim is that a non material based mind is possible, that is in the absence of the physical brain for which the mind is apparently reliant on, you claim that the mind/soul can exist outside of this somehow.

    So what evidence is there that the physical matter (brain) that the mind apparently relies on, & in the absence of, that a mind/soul/consciousness of identity can exist?

    Further, can you elaborate on what other ‘things’ (kinda vague there) the mind can do, that the brain cannot? With this statement you’re making a distinction that the mind (somehow?) isn’t contingent on having a brain as you alledge that some things it can do that the brain can’t, in affect you’re saying certain functionality isn’t reducible to the physical brain, but something else. Ok, then what is this you attribute these things to?

    This statement itself would appear to be self-contradictory as it asserts that the brain is not at all linked to the self identity of the soul/mind & that the function of the mind/soul isn’t dependent upon at any level of the physical brain.

    “can control the brain’s impulses.”

    Would this be simpler to just say it’s the brain regulating itself? I agree that we have some control over the functional aspects in our lives, but no matter how hard we try to fight the urge of having to use the restroom, it will happen, no matter how hard one tries to will it away.

    “Outside the body, that may be a different matter”

    May be this, may be that….I really don’t care for endless conjecture. Evidence?

    “Note that I am not arguing for the existence of these”

    In your article you say: “This is where the Darwinists take the easy way out by simply declaring that there are no immaterial minds”.

    In such a statement & the rest of your article it becomes clear you’re advocating for an immaterial mind (non material mind). So where’s the evidence that minds can exist in absence of material?

    “It is the immaterial mind that I say reason provides much evidence for”

    StephenB, I don’t question that the mind/soul/consciousness is real, where we part is that you says it’s not reducible to a physical material brain, where I think it is. I’ll take a page from your book, do you think the mind is reducible to physical brain, or not?
    But is the mind/consciousness reducible to immaterial? No, not really, for if it were it would follow that in the absence of the physical material brain that the conscious/mind could exist, but alas this is evidence we’re all still waiting for…

  230. 230

    CJYman at 226,

    Nice to read you again! I’ve been reading this thread during lunch and was just going to lurk, but since you’re here there’s a good chance of a productive conversation.

    I’d like to comment on just one small part of your message:

    Furthermore, StephenB didn’t “assume” that intelligence is not natural, he first defined natural as law+chance, then he noticed that there is a difference between things that can be defined by only law+chance and events that require intelligence.

    You’ve just pointed out exactly where StephenB assumes his conclusion. The trichotomy of “law”, “chance”, and “intelligence” implicitly assumes that the three are disjoint. Whether deliberate or not, this is an attempt to avoid having to demonstrate that intelligence is not the result of natural processes (which I presume is what is meant by “law and chance”, a term I find more obfuscating than enlightening).

    Thus far in this thread, I haven’t seen anyone support this implicit claim. Failing to do so leaves the definitions incoherent and useless.

    I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

  231. 231

    agentorange,

    You conceded you can trust your thoughts, & this came as the conclusion through a materialistic realization & understanding (per my example w/ the hammer no less) that they are linked to your physical brain. Odd how on one hand you say you can trust them when it comes to you having to bash your hand with a hammer, but then you do a 180’ and assert the materialism on which that premise is founded on you say it can’t be trusted. Oh dear…

    Of course you’re arguing in a circle aren’t you. I said on the premise of materialism our thoughts cannot be trusted, we cannot assert our thoughts as trustworthy as evidence of materialism unless we argue in a circle, for materialism is what is in question and cannot also be the answer to the question. Answer me on your materialistic philosophy being measured, tested, and quantified, in the same way that it wants to measure, test, and quantify other thoughts, or do you concede that thoughts can never be so measured, tested, and quantified by any material process? If thoughts can be so measured, tested, and quantified, then show me a physical thought, not a physical description of the brain, but an actual explanation of the brain’s movements producing thoughts by describing the movements. In other words, show me what thoughts are being produced without asking the person what thoughts they are having. Show me the thoughts that are determined based solely on material movements without any input from the person being studied, I’d like to see how material movement can be discerned to what thought is occurring, such as “This movement of neurons occurred in the brain, which means that thought X is occurring”, and all being done and explained without reference to asking the patient what they were thinking. You cannot, for the thing is impossible, it is trying to get an ought from an is.

  232. CJYMan at 227:

    efron ts, I apologize in advance for the length of this post, yet apparently I need to explain myself better than I have been since you seem to be ignoring my previous explanations.

    Not ignored, forgotten. I was so excited about having a discussion with Stephen that you completely slipped my mind. I have read your lengthy comment and perhaps I have judged you unfairly. You seem to be taking the discussion head on (Apply directly to forehead!), so I will respond to your comments. However, I want to do so thoughtfully and will not be able to do so over my lunch break. I will respond later tonight or in the morning. Contrary to Stephen’s opinion, I am a man of my word.

  233. VJtorely @ 209,

    “why should we trust them”

    I guess the consequences of not trusting them is fair, anyone game to try my hammer thought experiment & let me know if they still trust their thoughts?

    Asking why thoughts are warranted to be trusted, at least in some respects, is to ignore many of the subconscious’s thoughts we have which are unique & geared towards our own survival. Many would call such thoughts ‘phobias’, but they’re a legacy of survival in which the thoughts are true to the degree that they matter for our survival.

    “speculative hypotheses:”

    Any method of analysis which involves for multiple tests of evidence & for independent objective verification of results is about as accurate a method as we can hope for. Beyond I think therefore I am, anything is up for debate, but the method of science & its requirements of verification dictate that only the most resolute models endure. It’s a pursuit of truth, but alas it might not be possible that we will know everything about everything, & that which we know a great deal about we only know mostly to a degree.

    Let’s suppose we dump science (darwinism as you put it) though for a moment, what shall we use in its place? What method of analysis has shown historically to yield more fruits & more accurate representation of reality? I don’t ask this for sake of asking, I ask b/c other methods were & have been used in the past & the largest downfall was the method itself wasn’t sufficient enough.

    Let’s suppose we use the bible, or one of the other many holly books which claim revealed truth. It would seem that if we can’t trust our thoughts, that this would also impact our ability to read any possible revealed truth.
    Additionally any claimed truth by this means would not be the result of our own investigation, but rather assertions from on high which itself is found to vary with respect to the cultural form which it was spawned.

    In short asking for a method like science to reveal absolute Truth with a capital T is to ignore how the process works. The practice is as much about the journey as it is the destination. It’s not rational on the one hand to say the method is invalid or insufficient at describing reality to any degree whilst using the very technology spawned from its research. Such a stance is quite hypocritical.

  234. 234

    agentorange,

    In short asking for a method like science to reveal absolute Truth with a capital T is to ignore how the process works. The practice is as much about the journey as it is the destination. It’s not rational on the one hand to say the method is invalid or insufficient at describing reality to any degree whilst using the very technology spawned from its research. Such a stance is quite hypocritical.

    Do you think that anything ever invented by humans is a result of science? Do you think that all human ingenuity is a result of science? I’m really curious to know what you think humans are, and what you think science is, and how humans must rely on something external to themselves as if science were a physical artifact, like the philosopher’s stone, and which without we would be paralyzed. Or is it the other way around? Is science reliant on humans and the ingenuity that we possess, quite independent of any process we may label? I mean, if all technology is the result of science, does science also tell us what to think? Is it a process that which without we wouldn’t think correctly about anything?

  235. 235

    Sorry to pop in again when I promised to shut up, but some recent posts about Pompei and burglars have reminded me that I answered the question that StephenB posed in #129:

    unless, of course, you think God used secondary causes to produce Pompei and the burglar.

    My answer, in #176 was:

    What else would I think? What else would Aquinas think? What do you think?

    Maybe that answer wasn’t clear enough for StephenB to critique it. Let me try this: Yes, secondary causes would apply in both cases, by the rule: secondary causes are natural causes.

  236. 236

    agentorange #233, speaking of scientific empiricism, reminded me of the following statements by that theistic naturalist Aquinas:

    Reasoning may be brought forward for anything in a two-fold way: firstly, for the purpose of furnishing sufficient proof of some principle, as in natural science, where sufficient proof can be brought to show that the movement of the heavens is always of a uniform velocity. Reasoning is employed in another way, not as furnishing a sufficient proof of a principle, but as showing how the remaining effects are in harmony with an already posited principle; as in astronomy the theory of eccentrics and epicycles is considered as established, because thereby the sensible appearances of the heavenly movements can be explained; not however as if this proof were sufficient, since some other theory might explain them.

    S. Theol., I, 32, I, ad 2.

    For although, when such hypotheses have been made, they appear to account for the phenomena, it is still not necessary to say that these hypotheses are true; because possibly the appearances of the stellar movements may be explained according to some method not yet understood by men.

    In Li De Caelo, 17

    Here’s a 13th century theologian explaining the nature of scientific hypotheses with an example that foreshadows the overthrow of Ptolemaic astronomy in the 16th century!

  237. —agentorange: “Oh dear Steve, could you at least show some evidence that the identity of mind/self is not linked to the physical brain? Here’s your chance, explain how a non material mind works, & moreover how you know it works as it claim it does.”

    Oh, dear agentorange, please try to grasp the distinction of a hypothetical as opposed to an argument. IF the human cause is a non-material mind, then, by your standards, it is a supernatural cause. IF the human cause is a material brain, then it is a natural cause. If, therefore, you don’t know which is the case, you cannot establish the texture of the cause, which means you cannot apply to it the rule of methodological naturalism, or else you must declare apriori that there are no minds.

    —”Ok, I got you, in this the ‘mind’ is interchangeable with ‘soul or ‘conscious’, we don’t disagree with that much.”

    Lets say interactive. Interchangeable sounds as if one will suffice for the other. By my definition, a mind is an immaterial faculty of an immaterial soul. A brain is a physical organ, without which the mind cannot function. At the same time, the mind is not “grounded in, nor an extension of, the brain.” By my definition, the individual literally lives in two worlds–the world of spirit and the world of matter, each of which influences the other. Plainer than that I cannot be. If I go into any greater detail, I will have to abandon the theme of the post, which while attractive to the methodological naturalists, does not serve rational discourse.

    “But your statement isn’t only that the mind exists……….

    As I recall, I asked you to tell me what you mean by “mind.” This is our pattern. I tell you exactly what I mean, and you ask for more clarification while withholding your own views.

    Also, I am still waiting for your definition of a natural cause.

  238. Clive @ 231,

    “do you concede that thoughts can never be so measured, tested, and quantified by any material process?”

    No, not really. Admittedly the science is still young but there is ample evidence in neurology which demonstrates the correlation between the distinct physical parts in the brain which are responsible for controlling specific modes of thoughts. We see specific correlation between chemicals being used & changes in neurochemistry in the brain which leads to differences in modes of thought & perception of reality itself.

    Certain parts of the brain, like the temporal lobes, correlate to the ‘core consciousness’, generally this is similar in how thoughts are associated with our perception, while other sections correlate to the extended consciousness for which we don’t actively think about, but can refer back to if needed.

    This is further supported in how people like Terri Shivo who had PVS which was the result of damage to a specific section (TL) of the brain responsible for such aspects of consciousness. Thus it could be concluded she lacked any meaningful mode of thought, if she could even refer to past reality at all. We know of other studies in how strokes can affect aspects of consciousness, another would be anterograde memory loss. Not only are whole memories of ones past impacted, but the whole process of identifying oneself as unique, & thus forming thoughts, is degraded or lost in many of these studies. At the very least such thoughts are reducible to the physical medium in which they depend upon.

    “In other words, show me what thoughts are being produced without asking the person what thoughts they are having”

    Thoughts in themselves are subjective experience, we don’t operate as a hive brain where we’re all sharing a vast neural network, & regrettably we cannot perform ESP, or telepathic thought, so you asking for such a thing ignores the component involved in expressing thoughts to others – communication.

    Even if we examine the computer in its limited intelligence, it’s mode of thought (if we can call it that) in processing data are limited to its own container, only if they’re linked to other computers can they comprehend other instructions & information from them, so even in a network such as this, the data is communicated first, comprehended second.

    If you were take ’thoughts’ as being the same as neural activity (which I doubt), then surely you’d say this we can & have measured & can identify to parts of the brain. But can we measure the act of a person thinking, or processing sensory input, yes, & this is not even a matter of question as studies on people sleeping demonstrate the changes in brain activity as the brain emulates a virtual reality. Surely they are thoughts of some sort, real or not, but narrowing down the specifics of the dream (what are they specifically thinking?) is something we can’t do yet accurately yet.

    There are studies in which people who are performing a given activity during the day will very likely have a dream incorporating many properties of that activity, the brains way of virtualizing the event in order to have better improved results the next time around. The brain is always working, & this explains why activities in which we dream of them (playing piano) we often better results the following day.
    In this way we could somewhat predict what a person’s thoughts in their dreams will consist of, but likely not to the degree of which you’re asking for in which we can at any given moment in their dream say they’re having X thought. We can I think at the moment give a probabilistic educated measurement of their modes of thought.

  239. I also must say that, from a scientific perspective, I make no distinctions between material intelligence and an immaterial intelligence. ID and the design inference can logically apply in a monistic world. Thus, my comment above is only a definition of an immaterial mind from the a dualists perspective, it does not, by any means, suggest that the design inference is dependent on that perspective, as CJYman has made clear.

    It does become an issue for methodological naturalism, however, because someone has to nail down the texture of the human cause. Is it natural or supernatural. By MN standards, if the human’s design activity is generated by an immaterial mind, that means that he/she is a supernatural cause. If, however, the human’s design is generated by a material brain, then it is material cause. So, how do we know whether the human agent is a supernatural or a natural cause until we ascertain the origin of that agents thought process.
    Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

    Also, let’s face it. It is truly ridiculous to suggest that a burglar is the same kind of cause as a tornado, and then, when called on it, weasel out by saying, “well yes, they are both natural causes, yet they are, at the same time, different: The burglar is of the Natural 1 variety while the tornado is natural 2 variety. Please!

  240. Clive @ 231,

    “Do you think that anything ever invented by humans is a result of science?”

    No, not at all, never mind all the inventions prior to the use of science, I don’t think it’s fair to use categorical statements such as this. My view is that it is as a method is the most robust & accurate one we have at our current disposal, so like it or not, for good & for bad, it’s hands down the best method of understanding reality.

    “ingenuity is a result of science?”

    As before, no, but not b/c science doesn’t offer genuine utility, but rather b/c such a categorical statement isn’t applicable. The method of science helps to reveal reality as it is so we can be more creative & it helps to express genuine ingenuity as such accurate creativity stems from empirical facts & knowledge & not wishful thinking based on misconceptions of reality. One can as creative & imaginative as they want, but if it’s not congruent w/ reality then it really doesn’t offer much.

    “how humans must rely on something external to themselves as if science were a physical artifact”

    I would liken it to a tool Clive, it has its uses & when appropriately used yields fruits, & that is what all methods of philosophy aspire towards.

    “which without we would be paralyzed”

    Please let’s not conflate here. Our current infrastructure, from the amount of food we can produce, to the medicines we make to fight diseases, to methods to cleaning water, to predictions of weather & so on stem from a method of science understanding. You’re not seriously saying you’d rather go back to the stone age in which the method & its fruits were absent.

    “Is science reliant on humans and the ingenuity that we possess”

    To a degree yes, I mean a person can be imaginative all they want, but at the end of the day in order to convince their peers their results are accurate they have to demonstrate its results.

    “does science also tell us what to think”

    At the very least it should inform our views of reality by which we can alter what we think. Performing rain dances seem rational in the absence of knowledge about meteorology, but as science opens up the consciousness to how the material world operates we can refine our thinking so it’s more accurate. Ditto for astrology & other debunked notions, but such beliefs are generally held b/c we are attribute so much of the world revolving around us, which is comforting, but wrong. Sadly many would rather believe in something wrong & be happy, then believing in something correct & deal with the emotional consequence of not being as happy.

  241. ANd in your buglar anology it is important to note that only the burgalr has the ability to produce vast amounts of specified complxity. The tornado would have a lot fo touble putting together useful purposeful tools by chance while moving through a junk yard- but the man has the potential to make many specified combinations. And the division of mathematics which is called combinatorics sheds a light on the magnitude of how improbable the effects of true SC intelligence are- hence the complexity of the human brain is alone extremely complex- but what it can actually do makes it even more so. Hence the notion that an ape and a man can both swing a golf club sharing man of the same genes and complexity from the physical standpoint- but only the man has a chance of making a hole in one- say every 50 thousand shots while the ape may never make one. Ever.

    The tornado on the other hand has not even a “sense” of a golf club.

    And what separates these three is that the man has perception- and perception – or self referential knowing – consciousness- is the hall mark of SC.

    No one is making a hole in one without knowing they should want to try- 50 thousand times or what have you.

    Thus, the issue of “Purpose” is at the forefront of the naturalistic questions concerning origins and SC.

    A man and a tornado are no more the same than are gravity and time.

  242. StephenB,

    “IF the human cause is a non-material mind, then, by your standards, it is a supernatural cause.”

    I suppose so, but again the one holding the premise that the mind is not bound to any physical medium (you) must first be demonstrated to be verified & done so to the extent to explain *more* natural phenomena than the current premise that the mind is physically bound to the material brain. Where is your evidence that a mind can exist in absence of the physical material it requires?

    You have done neither, nor offered any reasonable method for establishing how a non materially bound brain which results in a mind/soul ought to work. As it stands, most (all?) the empirical evidence suggests the mind/soul cannot exist without the physical brain. Get to explaining how a non material mind works absent the physical brain & then we can move onto following premises.

    I don’t use your distinction that the ability to self identify, or the consciousness isn’t materially bound, you do, so my claim is that the physical brain, & the emergent property we call mind/self/soul is the byproduct of material in the brain. Thus, it’s still a natural cause.

    “IF the human cause is a material brain, then it is a natural cause.”

    The mind/soul cannot exist without the physical brain, its contingent on the material being there in the first place, so in affect both (the material brain & the emergent mind) are natural causes. I tried to build an analogy earlier with regards to the storm being an aggregate effect of all the atoms it’s made of, in this same sense the mind/self/soul is an aggregate extension of such natural material.

    “a mind is an immaterial faculty of an immaterial soul”

    Great, immaterial coming from
    immaterial, awfully nebulous, nice…Ok, so then explain where the immaterial soul comes from to form the faculty of the immaterial mind, & how it does this please.

    “the mind is not “grounded in, nor an extension of, the brain”

    Then finally explain some evidence for where a non material based mind can exist, anywhere, any studies? This should be very easy for you since you contend the mind isn’t an extension of the brain at all.

    “By my definition, the individual literally lives in two worlds–the world of spirit and the world of matter, each of which influences the other”

    So the spirit would be non material right? So where is the evidence for it? This ‘spirit’ as you put it, since its non material & purported to explain a natural phenomenon is why it’s considered not science. The moment you understand why invoking an unfalsifiable non physically reducible thing/spirit to effects in the world is when you see it for what it is. Where’s your evidence it exists is, let alone that it influences the other, or such as you say?

    “If I go into any greater detail, I will have to abandon the theme of the post, which while attractive to the methodological naturalists, does not serve rational discourse.”

    Wow, that is some admission. IF only you could provide some actual evidence on this front, then MN would consider it….. Of course it serves a rational discourse, we’ve been hammering away at where & what evidence you use for your claims, & at last it’s laid down that you couldn’t supply any which would suffice per the requirements of science. No wonder you want to change science.

  243. StephenB,

    “I am still waiting for your definition of a natural cause.”

    Go back to comment 227, it’s all there.

  244. StephenB, @239

    “I make no distinctions between material intelligence and an immaterial intelligence.”

    But where is the evidence intelligence can exist in absence of a material brain? This is about as reasonable as saying the mind/soul can exist devoid of material brain.

    “Please!”

    What’s wrong Stephenb? You’re asking us to investigate the evidence & determine the qualitative differences between a natural occurrence as under a ‘law’ & a being building something. They both foundationally are explainable & reducible according to natural physical material understanding. The human form is a physical natural thing, in which its mind & identify of ‘self’ is the byproduct of a physical brain. Neither extends to some external of some immaterial ‘spirit’ which itself needs an explanation of how it works & doesn’t work.

    There is no need to assert that the physical effects of a building were caused by some non physical ‘spirit’ thing which causes/works with a (your words) non material mind which isn’t an extension of a physical brain.

    In essence, to explain the natural phenomenon of X, you’re claiming Y is immaterial which works with Z (you don’t say how it does this though) which is also immaterial. You wont (can’t?) explain nor demonstrate how 1 immaterial works with or causes another immaterial.

  245. 245

    Also, let’s face it. It is truly ridiculous to suggest that a Boston cream pie and a banana are both desserts, and then, when called on it, weasel out by saying, “well yes, they are both desserts, yet they are, at the same time, different: The Boston cream pie is of the baked variety while the banana is of the fruit variety. Please!

  246. Sorry, Adel, but it doesn’t work. Everyone knows what a dessert is. On the other hand, no one knows what a Darwinist means by a natural cause. There hilarity comes from watching them trying to categorize that which has not yet been defined. But thank you for playing.

    In keeping with that point, would you care to rescue your comrades and explain what you mean by a natural cause.

  247. Agentorange objects to my argument by providing an analogy in 179.

    So let me give more rigorous premises of my argument. In materialist worldview:

    1. Consciousness is made of matter and physical laws C = A + B

    2. Nothing is greater than sum of its parts C !> A + B

    3. Neither A or B has rationality, love , free will or consciousness as an attribute

    4. Therefore A+B != C
    5. Or if A+B = C, C is an empty set in regards to rationality, consciousness, free will or love because 0 + 0 = 0.

    Even though this is not an directly related to MN could other UD readers comment as well because I am trying to form as rigorous logical axioms as I can thanks.

  248. Hey Mustela, nice to read you too again!

    Mustela:
    “You’ve just pointed out exactly where StephenB assumes his conclusion.”

    Ummm … not really. He observed that there is a fundamental difference between events which are defined by law and those which are defined by intelligence. Hence his tornado vs. burglar or volcano vs. citizens of Pompei analogies. He observed a fundamental difference between two basic categories of cause and the resulting effects, he didn’t merely assume such a difference.

    Mustela:
    “The trichotomy of “law”, “chance”, and “intelligence” implicitly assumes that the three are disjoint.”

    Well, not so much for law and chance, but yes ID proponents usually discuss the issue as law+chance vs. intelligence. Although, a better description would be that some patterns are best explained by chance, some best explained by chance+law, and others by chance+law+intelligence. IT is the later that ID proponents claim *requires* intelligence by necessity.

    ie:

    - uweb gifbp[09un n — defined as statistically random, and lacking correlation, thus caused by chance (although, technically “chance” is a lack of cause or correlation).

    - afgafgafgafgafgafgafg — defined by periodicity, algorithmic compressibility, with an element of chance (which letters were randomly selected to be repeated), and thus caused by chance+law

    - “Can you understand this?” — defined by algorithmic complexity, lack of mere regularity, not defined by physical properties of the units, and meaningfully specified, and thus caused by chance+law+intelligence. There is room for chance+law as joint causal factors along side the necessary causal factor of intelligence, since language was fashioned partly by chance processes (civilization and culture splits and convergence, etc.).

    Mustela:
    “Whether deliberate or not, this is an attempt to avoid having to demonstrate that intelligence is not the result of natural processes (which I presume is what is meant by “law and chance”, a term I find more obfuscating than enlightening).”

    Is there any reason at all to suppose that law+chance can produce intelligence, when intelligence is founded upon patterns neither defined by law nor chance. How do you suppose we get something (intelligence) from nothing (lack of intelligence).

    The foundation for my thoughts on the matter can be found in my comments here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-337588

    And, how do you find the terms “law” and “chance,” as utilized within science to be more obfuscating than enlightening?

    Mustela:
    “Thus far in this thread, I haven’t seen anyone support this implicit claim. Failing to do so leaves the definitions incoherent and useless.”

    … and I have never seen anyone provide even theoretical support for the assertion that law+chance can give rise to intelligence. I have also provided the beginnings of reasons why law+chance won’t generate intelligence in the above link. Basically, intelligence arising from only law+chance doesn’t make sense on an intuitive much less on a technical/theoretical level since intelligence is composed of patterns which aren’t even defined by law+chance.

  249. InnerBling, @247

    It should be noted that my comment in 179 was in regards to yours in which you stated: “If materialistic worldview is right it necessarily follows that you in fact do not exist because you are only an emergent property of matter and only matter exists.”

    For the record, I stated we do as a self, as an emergent property exist. But this identity of ‘self/mind’ is contingent on the material existing, & further that this pattern isn’t damaged to the extent to inhibit the required neural interactions which culminate ultimately in this perception.

    Such a perception of ‘self/consciousness’ can be impacted by drugs or severe brain trauma, even old age which effects neural connections from firing effectively can impact ones consciousness. Ever seen Momento? Such people w/ such brain trauma are very much the same physical person they were prior to the accident, but b/c of their brain injury they can no longer build upon their self identity, so while their extended consciousness remains, their core consciousness is different.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.....sciousness
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Core_consciousness

    We have studies of people on hallucinogenic drugs which altered their perception to where they not only think they’re talking & listening to god, some go as far to claim they’re god. Others still swear to be fictitious characters, or celebrities, so at the very least, with studies in general brain function correlation, specific brain function correlation, positive evidence mapping the mind to the brain, brain chemistry & mental function, & comparative anatomy & explicability there appears to be some connection between the physical brain & the how other physical chemical or structural changes can impact ones ongoing consciousness/self.

    As for your axiomatic description…

    Shouldn’t it be Consciousness is an effect, not just from mere inanimate matter, but rather from of a given structural pattern of matter & physical laws?
    To suggest it’s merely reducible just simply to ‘matter’ as is, regardless of its structural pattern, is to ignore that a material pattern (brain) & laws are required for this expression to occur, not just the material itself.

  250. HouseStreetRoom

    On a side note, I’m glad to see you have author/posting status.

    I thought due formulating the FAQ pages and the Glossary kairosfocus would be promoted to the author/posting status first. I hope you received banning rights as well?

  251. CJYman at 227 :

    efron ts, I apologize in advance for the length of this post, yet apparently I need to explain myself better than I have been since you seem to be ignoring my previous explanations.

    I am not ignoring you. I forgot about you completely. I am not sure if that makes the hurt feelings go away, or rubs salt into the wound. Either way, I do hope you will forgive my grievous oversight. But since you have approached the issue head on (Apply directly to forehead!), I’ll work from the assumption that you are approaching this in a forthright manner and won’t engage in diversionary word parsing games, like others who will remain nameless. As you said, your post was very long. I am going to edit heavily in order to keep my response as short as possible, although it will still be fairly lo ng. I will admit to chopping off, and not addressing the latter parts of your post, which start to go beyond issues directly relevant to the discussion of methodological naturalism

    I both dealt with the fact that your definition does not work to usefully separate the natural from the supernatural, since it is akin to stating that the supernatural = “that which we can’t *yet* measure,” and thus causes MN to be a gap maker and science stopper.

    Well, we haven’t worked all the way through the definition yet, but that is what we are doing here. But, I think your paraphrase is flawed in one way. I would define the supernatural as something that exists outside the physical world and is therefore will never be amenable to measurement. But, I recognize that, for all practical purposes, it is a distinction without a difference and I am not sure if it affects my point anyways.

    Furthermore, StephenB didn’t “assume” that intelligence is not natural, he first defined natural as law+chance, then he noticed that there is a difference between things that can be defined by only law+chance and events that require intelligence.

    By defining law and chance as mutually exclusive of intelligence, he has most certainly made that assumption. There is clearly a difference between the products of nature (using the classical definition for a moment) and the products of intelligence (classically defined as artificial). There is one significant commonality, though. Namely, both exist within the physical world, have material and measureable interactions with the physcial world, and are amenable to study. By defining natural as solely “law and chance”, Stephen waving off that inconvenient fact. He is essentially frontloading his conclusion (that intelligence is not natural) into his definition. That is unwarranted because it ignores much of what we empirically know of human cognition and assumes as fact that which is not in evidence.

    I have addressed the latter problem with his definition ad nauseum, but let me ask you one question regarding the former flaw: Is biochemistry part of law and chance?

    Then, I added the fact that law is subservient to intelligence (since intelligence can indeed design laws/algorithms and sets of laws/algorithms)

    That statement is false. I can think of no gentle way to say this, but you are also assuming your conclusion and, for good measure, playing fast and loose with the word law. In the context of the laws which govern the natural world (on a lark I decided to name two of them Physics and Chemistry. Aren’t they just darling?) all forms of known intelligence are subservient to law. I invite anyone who thinks differently to put there hand on the table while I go borrow agentorange’s hammer.

    and there is no reason to suppose that law+chance can generate intelligence on its own (absent previous intelligence)

    I will certainly agree that the study of abiogenesis has a long, long way to go to generate a complete origins story. The ID movement merely sees the current state of the field and exclaims “Design!” In contrast, those nasty materialist scientists are not sitting back and exclaiming “Chemistry!”. They are engaged in the far more mundane activity of lab work.

    Third, StephenB has gone over that over and over and over again now, and you seem to not “like” what he is saying as well, since you seem to either flail around without addressing any supposed inconsistency in his position as it relates to MN and science.

    You are correct that I don’t like what he is saying. And I have repeatedly said why. I am quite sure that Stephen’s arguments will flow quite logically from definition to denouement. But, any defect in the definitions will irrevocably taint any conclusions that are built upon them. So, Stephen can not just say that definitions are what they are and brush off any objections. Right or wrong matters because wrong is propogated. Stephen’s definition is, at best, empirically unwarranted and, at worst, fatally flawed. And they will remain flawed until such time that he can demonstrate that human intelligence can operate independently of the physical body it is associated with.

    The only requirement for intelligence is that a sufficiently organized information processing system exist.

    Do you agree that all the sufficiently organized information processing systems that we empirically know about reside within the physical world and are associated with a physical form?

    ID Theory in its present scientific and quantifiable form can only detect the existence of previous intelligence in an events causal chain.

    ID isn’t specifically detecting the existence of previous intelligent. What it is doing is looking for things that seem impossibly complex, exclaiming that evolution can’t do that, the (always) forthcoming CSI calculation (I will gladly pay you tomorrow for a cheeseburger today) will prove it, and shoving it’s designer into breach . At the risk of being accused of playing word games, I would amend your statement to say that ID Theory may present itself as scientific and quantifiable, but it achieves that to the same extent that Kabuki theatre is an accurate representation of the real events it may be based on.

    If you disagree, then please show me what more ID Theory can do.

    It isn’t anything that hasn’t been stated eleventy bazillion times before. Search for the designer. Suss out the means by which he implemented his design. Heck, I’d be tickled pink if someone actually tried to do a CSI calculation that correctly interprets how evolution presumably works rather than a using a clearly fallacious de novo model.

    I actually see intelligence as perfectly natural. Yet, the point of this thread of StephenB’s is that no matter which way you define it, MN becomes useless in science (as opposed to the “ground rule” which some scientists wish to impose on others).

    Well, to ground ourselves in the practical, science seems to be doing quite fine, thank you very much. Scientific knowledge has grown in the centuries since many of the eminent personalities mentioned above began searching for natural explanations for what they observed about them. And even if we accept, for the moment, Stephen’s assertion that methodological naturalism wasn’t imposed on the sciences until 1986, I think you’ll find that Science ™ has not ground to a halt in the subsequent decades. Quite the opposite.
    But, let’s look at the flip side of that coin. There are in existence a number of scientific organizations who ought not be constrained by methodological naturalism, like the Biologic Institute and the home organization of UD contributor Dr. Hunter, Biola University. Has being freed from the shackles of MN lead to a proliferation of scientific discoveries from these eminent institutes?

    So long as that intelligence leaves effects, that intelligence is able to be studied in the same manner that the aliens who transmit a message to us would in theory be able to be studied based on the signal that they send. …becomes perfectly natural in the sense of producing effects which are measurable, detectable, etc, yet is still supernatural in the sense of being “over” nature (law+chance).

    The problem is that we know about human agents. We know what they look like, how the behave, techniques and tools they use to create affects, we even know where they live and what they had for lunch yesterday. It is presumptuous to assume that your hypothetical designer acts and works in a corollary fashion. And no one, but no one, in the ID movement is trying to figure any of that out. And without that type of program, the contemporary ID movement is indistinguishable from a case of group apophenia.

  252. Sorry, this should have read:

    I thought due to formulating the FAQ pages and the Glossary kairosfocus would be promoted to the author/posting status first. I hope you received banning rights as well?

  253. agentorange (#233)

    Thank you for your post. In a previous post, I asked you why we should trust our thoughts, if the Darwinian account of thought which you propose is correct. Notice that I was arguing hypothetically.

    In your response, you wrote:

    It’s not rational on the one hand to say the [scientific] method is invalid or insufficient at describing reality to any degree whilst using the very technology spawned from its research. Such a stance is quite hypocritical.

    But I wasn’t criticizing the scientific method. I endorse it too. My point is that the scientific method only works in a universe where both natural objects and the minds that try to understand them have the right kinds of properties – which is what we’d expect only in a universe designed by a Transcendent Mind whose nature made it want any other minds it created to be capable of discovering truth too. Such a Mind would make a universe which was amenable to scientific investigation and discovery – e.g. one in which things had stable properties that were amenable to scientific investiagtion, behaved in accordance with laws which intelligent creatures could figure out, and in which the planets on which these intelligent creatures dwelt were reasonably resilient against unexpected changes (allowing civilizations to survive, for the most part).

    However, the scientific method could never work in a Darwinian universe, where minds had evolved purely to meet survival challenges. Any minds that appeared in such a universe would have been finely honed to discriminate between hypotheses with harmful or fatal consequences, and hypotheses with beneficial consequences. But that’s quite a different thing, conceptually, between discriminating between truth and falsehood.

    Some of your post was taken up with irrelevant comments. For example, you wrote:

    Let’s suppose we dump science (darwinism as you put it) though for a moment, what shall we use in its place? What method of analysis has shown historically to yield more fruits & more accurate representation of reality?

    and in a similar vein,

    Let’s suppose we use the bible, or one of the other … books which claim revealed truth. [I]f we can’t trust our thoughts, … this would also impact our ability to read any possible revealed truth.

    Additionally any claimed truth by this means would not be the result of our own investigation, but rather assertions from on high which itself is found to vary with respect to the cultural form which it was spawned.

    Now, I certainly agree with you that if a Darwinian account of the mind were true, it would be extremely unwise to place anny trust in the alleged revelations contained in any book. However, even if the scientific method is better than every alternative proposed to date (e.g. religion, astrology, voodoo), that doesn’t make it a good method of discovering truth. Nor does it mean that we should trust it.

    If you had two compasses, one of which pointed north only 2% of the time and the other of which pointed north 5% of the time, would you trust either of them, or would you jettison both and maybe try to build a new compass?

    Or, if you couldn’t do that, why not just give up trying to find your way north? In other words, abandon speculation about the past. For the fact is, our survival as a species doesn’t depend on the results of our speculations about the beginning of the Universe or the origin of life on Earth, let alone the pros and cons of methodological naturalism. If a Darwinian account of mind is correct, we don’t have to engage in these pursuits; they won’t make us any happier, after all.

    But let’s return to science. In defense of the scientific method, you wrote:

    … the method of science & its requirements of verification dictate that only the most resolute models endure. It’s a pursuit of truth, but alas it might not be possible that we will know everything about everything, & that which we know a great deal about we only know mostly to a degree.

    In a Darwinian world, even under the best conditions you could ask for, the scientific method would only be good for eliminating bad hypotheses (i.e. empirically falsified ones). It would not be a valid method for arriving at correct hypotheses. For any finite set of observations, the number of explanatory hypotheses which is compatible with those observations is infinite. Given that (on a Darwinian account) our hypotheses are generated by our very finite primate brains, the vast majority of possible hypotheses that could explain a given set of observational data will forever lie beyond the reach of our imagination. That means we’ll never dream them up in the first place, and hence never get round to testing them. Even if technological advances give us the power to dream up a greater variety of explanatory hypotheses than we could before (say, a trillion hypotheses, as opposed to only a million, prior to the technological advance), one trillion divided by infinity (the number of possible hypotheses) is still zero.

    There are other problems with the Darwinian model too. What about our cognitive blind-spots, which sometimes lead to mistaken judgements on our part? On a Darwinist account, we’re likely to have lots of these blind spots – and they will still crop up, even if we attempt to resort to a more abstract level of cognition, to circumvent the limitations of “picture-thinking” (which is what someone who believed that abstract thinking is an immaterial process might do, when caught in a similar cognitive trap). If (as a Darwinist might expect), cognitive blind spots pervade our thought processes, that doesn’t augur well for the scientific method, does it? (By contrast, a theistic account of the mind would predict that cognitive blind spots we suffer from are not pervasive, and that they arise as a consequence of the physical limitations of our brains – e.g. working memory overload – and that errors we make occur because of, rather than in spite of, the nature of our intelligence. For a scientific paper which illustrates how this kind of approach might work, see this 2008 article, “The Collapsing Choice Theory: Dissociating Choice and Judgment in Decision-making” by J.M.Stibel et al., in Theory and Decision: http://users.ecs.soton.ac.uk/i.....dgment.pdf .)

    And there’s another problem with the scientific method, on a Darwinian account of mind. How do we know when to abandon a bad hypothesis? It’s not an open-and-shut affair. For instance, should we jump ship regarding the hypothesis of dangerous anthropogenic global warming (i.e. more than 2 degrees Celsius), in the light of Climategate, doubts about the reliability of historical weather data from around the globe, and the problems with the IPCC’s computer models? Or should we sit tight until a better model comes along? On a purely Darwinian account of mind, the way in which you react in this situation will depend not largely, but entirely on your personality characteristics, such as your need to conform to the thinking of the dominant power group, your inclination (or disinclination) to change your opinion in the light of new data, and your aversion to perceived risk (e.g. whether you accept the Precautionary principle). On a Darwinian account, our brains evolved to confront short-term, present dangers, not long-term or absent ones. That’s bound to skew the way in which we reject bad hypotheses. On a Darwinian account, we simply may not be capable of thinking straight about certain kinds of dangers: we may either magnify them or ignore them, depending on which of our emotional buttons is pushed. (Did you notice how TV commercials featuring icebergs falling into the sea triggered a panic reaction among a certain section of the public?)

    Another problem you ignore is that hypotheses are seldom proved wrong immediately. What about hypotheses whose false consequences take generations or even centuries to become apparent? For a couple of practical examples, take the hypothesis, accepted by scientists and entrepreneurs alike during the Industrial Age, that the burning of fossil fuels was beneficial to society in the long run, and posed no danger to the earth’s climate; or the naive social science hypothesis, propounded by well-meaning “experts” and adopted by legislators in the sixties and seventies, that the introduction of no-fault divorce would not harm children. What if these hypotheses are wrong? By the time we find out, it may be too late to change, and entrenched interests are likely to fight change, if it is attempted. The scientific method would then “work,” but only over the very, very, long run. But in the long run, as Keynes used to say, we are all dead. And even as a species, we might easily wipe ourselves out in the short run.

    You might argue that in the very long run, as we continue to pursue the scientific method, we’ll get closer to the truth, even if we never quite reach it. But when there is an infinite space of possible hypotheses, what does “closer” mean? The most we can hope for is that the hypotheses we come up with will have a slower turnover – that is, they’ll take longer to get disproved, precisely because they are, as you put it, more “resolute.” But that’s a bad thing, not a good thing. It simply means that as we “progress,” we’ll move more slowly from one false model to a slightly better one. This is not a cheery prospect.

    Now, none of this would matter if your definition of “truth” were a purely pragmatic one – as it should be for every card-carrying Darwinist. And at one point you did indeed suggest that at bottom, you adhere to a pragmatist account of truth – for instance, when you wrote:

    In short asking for a method like science to reveal absolute Truth with a capital T is to ignore how the process works. The practice is as much about the journey as it is the destination.

    Even this is not a remark worthy of a pragmatist, for it suggests that our hypotheses are approximations to an unattainable ideal: Truth with a capital T. A real pragmatist would reject the ideal altogether, and say that truth is simply what works, over the time period that concerns us (be it seconds, days or centuries). In any case, as I have argued earlier, if there is an infinite space of possible hypotheses, then the notion of coming closer to the right answer makes no more sense than the notion of arriving at it.

    All right. Suppose you decide to become a consistent pragmatist. Fine. You could still engage in pure sciences like chemistry, so long as you accepted unobserved entities like “atoms” as nothing more than working hypotheses. I suppose you might even do physics – although I wouldn’t bother building a Hadron Collider, if I were a pragmatist. But you could not make any absolute statements about past events that no-one had observed. In particular, you could not say that the Darwinian account of the human mind (i.e. that the human mind is a survival machine, produced by natural selection) was true “with a capital T.” After all, how could you be sure? Ditto for philosophical naturalism.

    “OK,” you might answer. “I’ll be a provisional Darwinian. Maybe the human mind is not a survival machine. Maybe it’s something else, for all I know.” But the problem with this stance is that the pragmatist account of truth (which you still adhere to) stands or falls on the proposition that the human mind is unable to discern any other kind of truth, apart from “what works” – which makes sense only if the human mind is a survival machine. If you allow that it may not be, then your pragmatist approach to truth should be provisional too.

    Which brings us back to my earlier remark, which you failed to address:

    Come to think of it, where do Darwinists get the notion of “true” from?

    Sometimes it’s better to re-examine your assumptions. If the Darwinian account of truth gets you in such a metaphysical bind, maybe it makes sense to consider the alternative, that the universe is the creation of a supernatural Deity whose nature precludes it from deceiving us. Such a Deity could be trusted, and a world created by such a Deity would be a science-friendly one.

  254. Adel diBagno (#236)

    Thank you for your post. You cite St. Thomas, writing about scientific hypotheses used in his day to explain the movement of the heavens:

    For although, when such hypotheses have been made, they appear to account for the phenomena, it is still not necessary to say that these hypotheses are true; because possibly the appearances of the stellar movements may be explained according to some method not yet understood by men.

    Then you comment:

    Here’s a 13th century theologian explaining the nature of scientific hypotheses with an example that foreshadows the overthrow of Ptolemaic astronomy in the 16th century!

    St. Thomas appears to adopt an “anti-realist” approach to scientific hypotheses here. He has an interesting ally: I believe Steve Hawking puts forward a similar view in A Brief History of Time.

    Ptolemaic astronomy was badly discredited by the appearance of more elegant hypotheses (the heliocentric hypothesis of Copernicus and later, the geo-heliocentric hypothesis of Tycho Brahe) in the 16th century, as you correctly write.

    Now let’s fast-forward to the 17th century, and talk about Galileo. One objection put forward by Pope Urban VIII to the heliocentric hypothesis defended by Galileo was that it need not be true in an absolute sense; it might simply be better able to account for the apparent movement of celestial bodies than any other hypothesis we could propose. Galileo ridiculed the Pope’s view mercilessly in his famous Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, published in 1632, putting the words of Urban VIII into the mouth of Simplicio, the simpleton in the dialogue. (I should add that at that the heliocentric hypothesis favored by Galileo actually failed to account for stellar observations as well as Tycho Brahe’s theory, at that time, as stellar parallax was not observed until 200 years later.)

    I’m just curious. Galileo was the realist here, insisting that the heliocentric theory was the absolute truth. Whose side do you take in this affair?

  255. All right. Let us make a slight modification to Schrödinger’s famous ‘experiment’:

    The output of the detector is connected to a light bulb on the outside of the box. When/if the bulb lights I push a button that will activate the cat killing device.

    My question is: Is that event, the demise of the cat caused by intelligence?

  256. Quick note:

    Cabal,

    You are making a decision (under certain specified conditions), to push the button, so the cause of the cat’s death is plainly and even trivially intelligent.

    Why did you ever wonder about that?

    GEM of TKI

  257. On causal trichotomies:

    I find it interesting that there is an attempt to disparage the empirical observation that we see three common causal patterns:

    (i) mechanical forces that act in predictable fashion once initial conditions are specified [e.g. a dropped heavy object reliably falls, and with a certain rate of acceleration, e.g. 2, formation of orderly crystalline structures on precipitation of a salt from aqueous solution],

    (ii) highly contingent outcomes that follow statistical/ probabilistic distribution patterns, under similar starting conditions [e.g. a dropped fair die distributes its outcomes --here regarded as uppermost side -- across the set {1, . . . 6}, also: formation of a tar in an organic reaction -- a combination of random polymers etc]

    (iii) highly contingent outcomes that reflect, not statistical randomness, nor highly simple and specific repeating patterns of order, but purposeful and complex patterns [e.g. sequences of glyphs constituting text sentences in English, and underlying ASCII code strings]

    Now, what we commonly observe is that such patterns are mixed and matched in the real world. E.g. even fairly simple experiments in physics will have “noise” and show a scatter of results, so that we infer to lawlike regularities by abstracting out the high-frequency noise component. Similarly, when we monitor wind distributions, they usually exhibit a cluster of interesting patterns — predominant direction, which may be seasonal, fluctuations in speed and direction from moment to moment that sometimes fit Weibull distributions, the rise in speed with height that the one-seventh power law often models, the power goes as cube of speed law [tracing to basic mechanics], the Betz power law on maximum energy extractable form a given wind of speed v [59.3%] etc.

    These exhibit law plus chance. And, as Wicken has highlighted [and as Trevors and Abel have further described aptly for sequences of symbols or the like, cf fig here], we may discuss intelligent cause, using ourselves as exemplars:

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

    Let us observe: we have not made any major metaphysical commitments or assumptions: we are simply describing by classifying observations in an interesting and convenient way. (Is anyone out there prepared to argue that Wicken has not aptly described a real phenomenon as commonly accessible as buildings, cars and computers?)

    The key step is to abstract the point that each of he major causal forces has characteristic, empirically observable signs. So, we then will identify that so long as we have reason to see that he patterns are reliable, they can serve as identifying signs — even as one routinely and with significant utility infers to diseases from their symptoms. And in all cases of such complex functional organisation where the chain of basic yes/no decisions required exceeds 1,000 [i.e. there is a 1,000 bit lower bound for practical purposes] we not only see that hwre we directly observe teh source it is intelligent, but on good configuration space grounds, we have reason to believe [the number of possible but non functional configs vastly overwhelms the number of relevantly functional ones] that such configs will only happen in the real world through intention and intelligent action.

    Further, we have no good grounds for asserting or inferring that we only are intelligent and capable of producing functional organisation. So, if we see such organisation we can credibly and confidently identify it as tracing to intelligent cause.

    But now, the censors come in: since there are two key cases — organisation of cell based life, and organisation of a finely tuned cosmos to facilitate such life — that an inference to intelligence is repugnant to the materialists, there is a strident objection on the pretence that there is a rule that science can only properly infer to chance + law.

    But, what is really going on is that there is a worldview level challenge and a power move is being played.

    As to the assertion or inference that chance + ne3cessity can /do give rise rto inelligence unaided, we simply note that [i] this has not been directly observed, [ii] the chief observed example of intelligence exhibits the precise sort of functional complex organization in view, [iii] in every case where we do observe the source of such FSCO/ FSCI directly, it traces to intelligence, and [iv] on mathematical grounds ther eis good reason for this.

    So, the inference from FSCI to design is strong inductively and based on DIRECT observations in the present world, and it is the objectors who properly have a burden of proof to meet. And whre rthe imaginative reconstruciton of a claime4d past of life is concerned, this is not a mat6ter odf direct observaiton but deeply worldview commitment linked inference.

    Direct observation trumps just so stories under materialist control any day.

    And so again we see MN is of no real use.

    GEM of TKI

  258. KF:

    “The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. (Emphases and note added.) HT: VJT]

    Would that be by the same Jeffrey Wicken who wrote in his book Evolution, Thermodynamics, and Information: Extending the Darwinian Program:

    “In a universe where cosmic expansion maintains a disequilibrium between potential and thermal forms of energy, this means that putting smaller entities together to form larger entities will generate entropy through the conversion of potential energy to heat. Hence, the potential energy wells into which natural processes tend to flow are correlated with the buildup of structure … Dissipation is the driving force of the universe’s building up or integrative tendency. Entropic dissipation propels evolutionary structuring; nature’s forces give it form.”

    Sounds like another dogmatic materialist to me.

  259. Crud, I screwed up blockquoting. Let me try again.

    KF:

    “The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. (Emphases and note added.) HT: VJT]

    Would that be by the same Jeffrey Wicken who wrote in his book Evolution, Thermodynamics, and Information: Extending the Darwinian Program:

    “In a universe where cosmic expansion maintains a disequilibrium between potential and thermal forms of energy, this means that putting smaller entities together to form larger entities will generate entropy through the conversion of potential energy to heat. Hence, the potential energy wells into which natural processes tend to flow are correlated with the buildup of structure … Dissipation is the driving force of the universe’s building up or integrative tendency. Entropic dissipation propels evolutionary structuring; nature’s forces give it form.”

    Sounds like another dogmatic materialist to me.

  260. And so?

    He is there stating his faith, not his observation.

    In the cite I made [HT CJY, sorry . . . ] he is speaking of observations.

    Dissipative structures in nature — vortices, etc — produce order not complexity of organisation, much less ALGORITHMIC, language based functionality like we see in the cell.

    G

  261. 261

    CJYman at 243,

    “You’ve just pointed out exactly where StephenB assumes his conclusion.”

    Ummm … not really. He observed that there is a fundamental difference between events which are defined by law and those which are defined by intelligence.

    He asserted a difference, just as he implicitly asserts that intelligence is not a result of natural processes. That’s a claim, not a definition. It requires evidence in support of it.

    Hence his tornado vs. burglar or volcano vs. citizens of Pompei analogies. He observed a fundamental difference between two basic categories of cause and the resulting effects, he didn’t merely assume such a difference.

    That’s not quite accurate. Volcanoes and tornadoes, for example, have very different results, but both are natural phenomena according to most people in this thread. Human beings, with their intelligence, cause still other results, but no evidence has yet been presented to suggest that humans are anything other than natural. No violations of known physics or chemistry have been documented to occur in our brains.

    “The trichotomy of ‘law’, ‘chance’, and ‘intelligence’ implicitly assumes that the three are disjoint.”

    Well, not so much for law and chance, but yes ID proponents usually discuss the issue as law+chance vs. intelligence.”

    And that is exactly where the conclusion is assumed in the definition. Unless and until it can be demonstrated that human (or animal) intelligence is not a product of natural processes such as known physics and chemistry, any definitions that assume that conclusion are incoherent and useless.

    “Whether deliberate or not, this is an attempt to avoid having to demonstrate that intelligence is not the result of natural processes (which I presume is what is meant by ‘law and chance’, a term I find more obfuscating than enlightening).”

    Is there any reason at all to suppose that law+chance can produce intelligence, when intelligence is founded upon patterns neither defined by law nor chance.

    What patterns are those?

    We know that mental processes can be disrupted or changed through injury, we know the same about certain drugs, we can scan brain activity during particular activities and isolate the areas responsible, we’ve observed the formation of memories in animal brains, and there are even devices that allow people to control computers solely through thought. The link between intelligence and a physical brain is pretty well established.

    It is the claim that intelligence is somehow immaterial or in violation of known physics and chemistry that requires support. Thus far in this thread, no such support has been forthcoming.

  262. agentorange,

    Thoughts in themselves are subjective experience, we don’t operate as a hive brain where we’re all sharing a vast neural network, & regrettably we cannot perform ESP, or telepathic thought, so you asking for such a thing ignores the component involved in expressing thoughts to others – communication.

    This is your problem, not mine, just as you showing that zero and the square root of two is physical is your problem, not mine. It is the difficulty of the committed materialist, not mine. You can never understand thought unless you ask the person what they were thinking, movement in brain matter will not produce an understanding of what thought is occurring by itself, and this gets right to the heart of the impossibility of naturalism to account for consciousness. Besides, it reduces all thoughts to movements, which cannot be either true or false movements, but only describable by geometrical relations. It is a category mistake to claim that a thought measured at “one inch plus a certain speed and velocity” produced a “true thought”, which can only be measured against other geometric measurements, which is exactly like saying that the thought is “true” because it wasn’t measured at “two inches plus a certain speed and velocity”. None of these descriptions of geometry will get you any closer to seeing or understanding an actual thought, much less of it being true or false by geometrical relations. You always, and in every case, have to ask the person what they were thinking, so it is always, and in every case, a matter of one mind asking another mind, and the tools of physical measurements never explain, they can only describe, but they don’t have any way of explaining by describing. You cannot get an ought from an is, but you can help make sense of the is from the ought, but not the other way around.

  263. Mustela

    Don’t you see that you are reversing a burden of proof improperly?

    It has been shown that we may distinguish chance, law and intelligence per empirical characteristics of events.

    It turns out that the characteristic features of intelligently caused events or objects — especially organised, functionally specific complexity — are radically diverse from what one reasonably expects of the other two, in empirically observable ways.

    From being intelligent ourselves, we see as well that issues of imagination, creativity, purpose, and worse, of truth, of zero, of good, etc are hallmarks of intelligent action and of associated consciousness.

    A neural excitation is in so many pico-moles of ions moving, and it reflects so many millivolts of potential. this is simply not the same sort of entity as truth or false, good or evil etc.

    So, you cannot simply assert that somehow they “must” reduce to matter and energy acted on by blind chance and mechanical necessity for so long. You have to SHOW that.

    Which has simply not been done.

    Worse, we have seen that the assumption that such produce and control thought end up undermining the credibility of thought, i.e the assumption undergoes reductio ad absurdum.

    Trying to reverse the burden of proof simply will not cut it.

    Professor Feser says it well:

    A reader writes to inform me of Alex Rosenberg’s very interesting essay “The Disenchanted Naturalist’s Guide to Reality.” Rosenberg’s thesis? That naturalism entails nihilism; in particular, that it entails denying the existence of objective moral value, of beliefs and desires, of the self, of linguistic meaning, and indeed of meaning or purpose of any sort. All attempts to evade this conclusion, to reconcile naturalism with our common sense understanding of human life, inevitably fail. Naturalism, when consistently worked out, leads to a radical eliminativism. Says my informant: “Why, it sounds shockingly similar to some things you once wrote in a book that was all about sperm, does it not?” Indeed, except that when I said it I was a “religiously inspired bigot,” whereas when Rosenberg says it he gets a respectful link, complete with a fanboyish exclamation point. Odd, no?

    Not really. Because in The Last Superstition I argue that the implications in question constitute a reductio ad absurdum of naturalism, whereas Rosenberg (who is himself a naturalist) regards them instead as a set of depressing truths we must learn to live with. As you’ll see from Rosenberg’s combox, not all naturalists agree with him. But naturalist religionists are an ecumenical bunch. They’ll allow you to draw any absurd conclusion you wish from naturalist premises, as long as (naturally enough) you never under any circumstances question the premises themselves.

    As TLS argues at length, the position Rosenberg rightly takes to follow from naturalism is not only depressing; it is incoherent. Therefore, naturalism is false. Furthermore (and as I also argue at length in TLS) there are no non-question-begging arguments for naturalism in the first place. Its hegemony over contemporary intellectual life owes entirely to a mixture of philosophical muddleheadedness, ignorance of philosophical history, and anti-religious animus. (Again, see TLS for the details.) . . . .

    Suppose (as I argue in TLS) that Rosenberg is right about what naturalism implies. In that case there are no beliefs or desires, nor is there any such thing as the “original intentionality” or meaning that common sense says thoughts have, and which it takes to be the source of the derived intentionality exhibited by language. But then, Rosenberg rightly concludes, there’s no such thing as “the” real or actual meaning of a work of art, a human action, or indeed of anything else. There is simply no fact of the matter about what anything means. So far so good, and so far what Rosenberg is doing is simply noting that Quine’s famous thesis of the indeterminacy of meaning is not some eccentricity on Quine’s part, but follows from the naturalistic assumptions Quine shares with most contemporary academic philosophers.

    The trouble is that if this is correct, then there is in particular no fact of the matter about what Rosenberg or any other naturalist means when he puts forward a naturalistic thesis. Objectively speaking there is no more reason to think that their utterances express a naturalistic position than that they express a Cartesian one or an Islamic one, or indeed that they are anything more than empty verbiage. The choice is purely pragmatic, or determined by social or economic forces or toilet training, or by Darwinian selection pressures, or by whatever it is this year’s clever young naturalistic philosophers are saying determines it.

    Now this is absurd enough, but naturalists have already long inured themselves to accepting such nonsense. Writers like John Searle have been pointing out the paradox for years, to no effect. It doesn’t phase the average naturalist, any more than the hardened criminal feels even a twinge of guilt upon committing his 345th felony. The mental calluses are too thick. You see, if naturalism leads to absurdity, then it must not really be absurdity; because, kids, naturalism just can’t be wrong. Only those dogmatic religious types think otherwise.

    But it’s worse than all that. For it won’t do for the naturalist to say: “OK, so we’ve got to swallow some bizarre stuff. But we’re just following the argument where it leads!” What argument? There’s no fact of the matter here either – no fact of the matter about which argument one is presenting, and in particular no fact of the matter about whether one’s arguments conform to valid patterns of inference. In the case at hand, there is simply no fact of the matter about whether Rosenberg’s own arguments (or those of any other naturalist) are sound or entirely fallacious. So why should we accept them? I suppose Rosenberg could always do what any serious philosopher would when dealing with those who stubbornly disagree with him – start a petition to pressure the APA to settle the question in his favor. But until that happens, we’ll just have to wait on pins and needles . . .

    In short, there is plainly something very wrong in the state of materialism.

    g’day

    GEM of TKI

  264. Mustela:
    “You’ve just pointed out exactly where StephenB assumes his conclusion.”

    CJYman:
    “Ummm … not really. He observed that there is a fundamental difference between events which are defined by law and those which are defined by intelligence.”

    Mustela:
    “He asserted a difference, just as he implicitly asserts that intelligence is not a result of natural processes.”

    Eh?!?!?! You have never observed a difference in the types of events that say a volcano makes and the citizens of pompei themselves made, or a difference in a tornado’s effects vs. a burglar’s effects? Serious?? I’m sorry, but if that is the case, you’d make a lousy archaeologist, forensic scientist, SETI researcher, cryptologist, etc.

    As to intelligence not being the result of natural processes, that depends on which definition of “natural” you are using, as I’ve explained earlier in my comments above.

    Are you asserting that law+chance can give rise to intelligence? How can that happen if law+chance can’t even define the functional organization of the brain upon which you seem to imply is necessary for intelligence to exist. Did you read through the link I posted in my last comment?

    Mustela:
    “That’s a claim, not a definition. It requires evidence in support of it.”

    It’s a claim, based on observation, which is then utilized to explain a distinction between two concepts — “nature” and “supernature.”

    CJYman
    “Hence his tornado vs. burglar or volcano vs. citizens of Pompei analogies. He observed a fundamental difference between two basic categories of cause and the resulting effects, he didn’t merely assume such a difference.”

    Mustela:
    “That’s not quite accurate. Volcanoes and tornadoes, for example, have very different results, but both are natural phenomena according to most people in this thread.”

    Natural by what definition? I agree that they are both “natural” according to the definition: “that which is able to be measured at least indirectly.” That is the only definition of “natural” that the critics have provided. However, there is a fundamental difference between the two referenced causes in terms of both operation and results, thus the utility of using “natural” and “supernatural” to show the one way subservience of law+chance to intelligence. Thus, the distinction between “nature” and “supernature” is artificial yet useful to show fundamental differences. Yet, either way you define the terms, methodological naturalism becomes a useless concept for use as a “ground rule” in science, which is the main point of this thread. Did you miss my explanation of this in my previous comments?

    Mustela;
    “Human beings, with their intelligence, cause still other results, but no evidence has yet been presented to suggest that humans are anything other than natural.”

    Again, it depends on the definition. Which definition are you using?

    Mustela:
    “No violations of known physics or chemistry have been documented to occur in our brains.”

    Not one single ID proponent here has ever argued for a violation of law. If they have, I will argue with you against that position. So, I’m really not sure what your getting at here. You seem to be slightly confused about what we ID proponents think.

    Mustela:
    “The trichotomy of ‘law’, ‘chance’, and ‘intelligence’ implicitly assumes that the three are disjoint.”

    CJYman:
    “Well, not so much for law and chance, but yes ID proponents usually discuss the issue as law+chance vs. intelligence.”

    Mustela:
    “And that is exactly where the conclusion is assumed in the definition. Unless and until it can be demonstrated that human (or animal) intelligence is not a product of natural processes such as known physics and chemistry, any definitions that assume that conclusion are incoherent and useless.”

    What conclusion? What definition? Did you not read the rest of my comment below that portion that you quoted. I explained how the observation that intelligence can generate law/algorithms and set’s of law/algorithms that harness chance processes, and the observation that intelligence requires patterns which aren’t even defined by law+chance, forms the basis for the understanding that law+chance is subservient to intelligence. Thus the distinction between “nature” and “supernature” as used by StephenB. Notice, also that in this way, “natural” and “supernatural” are not defined as being the negatives of each other. The distinctions merely show the heirarchy of one over the other, based solely on observation as already explained.

    Furthermore, I also explained how the “trichotomy” is also not really a “trichotomy” since the causal factors of patterns are as follows:
    -ahdMAET05935VNJF: chance
    -asdasdasdasd: law+chance
    -”can you understand this” law+chance+intelligence

    Until you provide any evidence that law+chance can generate patterns that it can’t even define, such as the functional organization which lies at the root of the human brain, then there is no reason to suppose that intelligence can result from only law+chance. Also, this is consistent with Penrose and HAmeroff’s hypothesis that places consciousness at a fundamental position alongside matter/energy — in the quantum structure of our universe.

    Mustela:
    “Whether deliberate or not, this is an attempt to avoid having to demonstrate that intelligence is not the result of natural processes (which I presume is what is meant by ‘law and chance’, a term I find more obfuscating than enlightening).”

    CJYman:
    “Is there any reason at all to suppose that law+chance can produce intelligence, when intelligence is founded upon patterns neither defined by law nor chance.”

    Mustela:
    “What patterns are those?”

    Essays, patterns of material in automobiles, information processing systems, coded language, strings of DNA, molecular machines, etc — basically all patterns neither defined by mathematical descriptions of regularities that emerge from the physical/material/measurable properties of matter and energy, nor best explained by chance.

    I explained that in the link I provided in my last comment. Did you read through it? Or did I only include that link in my comment to someone else?

    Mustela:
    “We know that mental processes can be disrupted or changed through injury, we know the same about certain drugs, we can scan brain activity during particular activities and isolate the areas responsible, we’ve observed the formation of memories in animal brains, and there are even devices that allow people to control computers solely through thought. The link between intelligence and a physical brain is pretty well established.”

    Yes it is. The discontinuity between consciousness (pure subjectivity) and matter (that which is objective) is also quite obvious.

    Furthermore, the only thing necessary for intelligence as we know it is a sufficiently organized information processing system. Thus, intelligence can reside in the human brain, an animal brain, a computer, a computing system made from materials that we don’t presently use for computing, in a quantum computer, in quantum events, in the structure of the universe itself, etc. You seem to wish to constrain intelligence beyond what is reasonable — to only the human brain.

    Mustela:
    “It is the claim that intelligence is somehow immaterial or in violation of known physics and chemistry that requires support. Thus far in this thread, no such support has been forthcoming.”

    That is because none of those things need to be supported in order for the argument against MN as a ground rule of science, and thus disqualifying ID from being considered as science, to be negated. That is the whole point of this thread.

    … but yes, the conscious aspect of intelligence is definitely immaterial since it is a subjective experience and matter is purely an objective phenomenon.

    Oh, and why are you asking for someone to defend as assertion that intelligence violates physics and chemistry? No one has said any such thing here that I’ve seen.

  265. 265

    kairosfocus at 263,

    Don’t you see that you are reversing a burden of proof improperly?

    On the contrary, it is StephenB who is failing to meet the burden of proof. He is asserting, implicitly within his definition, that human intelligence is not the result of natural processes. That positive claim requires evidential support.

    It has been shown that we may distinguish chance, law and intelligence per empirical characteristics of events.

    No, it has not. It has been shown that in some cases it is possible to distinguish between the results of actions of humans and the results of non-intelligent processes (e.g. volcanoes).

    ID proponents have claimed to be able to reliably distinguish between some abstract notion of “intelligence” and non-intelligent processes, but no one has come forward with an actual calculation of CSI (the intelligence metric most often mentioned) for a real biological artifact, taking into account known physics, chemistry, and evolutionary mechanisms. This has been covered in other threads; in none of those was such evidence produced.

  266. KF at 263:

    It has been shown that we may distinguish chance, law and intelligence per empirical characteristics of events.

    Not to answer for Mustela, but at issue here isn’t that we can distinguish one from the other. The issue is whether they are mutually exclusive categories as you and Stephen assert.

  267. Vtorley @ 253,

    “the scientific method only works in a universe where both natural objects and the minds that try to understand them have the right kinds of properties”

    Quite tautological VJ. It apparently has been & is working quite fine (again all those fruits), if we’re not quibbling over the efficacy of the method, then what is your point?

    “which is what we’d expect only in a universe designed by a Transcendent Mind whose nature made it want any other minds it created to be capable of discovering truth too”

    B/c you’re appealing to an ever greater level of complex intelligence & mind, one which b/c it is external to this physical world & thus untestable in principle it immediately ceases to be science at all, what might we ask ordered it such that this ‘trancesedent mind’ was able to act as you claim?

    You see, you can’t in one hand claim that our intelligence required a transcendent mind without explaining how the transcendent mind you appeal to itself obtained its intelligence.

    You’re claim is roughly that only a transcendent mind could put the nature as such to allow for beings to understand itself & the world its in, but what then put the pieces in place for this transcendent mind to operate at such as you claim?

    “the planets on which these intelligent creatures dwelt were reasonably resilient against unexpected changes”

    Yes, let’s not for a moment consider the vastness of the cosmos in terms of space & time, & how many 100’s of billions of galaxies are known in just the observable universe. Lets utterly think that the whole thing was built for little ol us. Honestly now. What part of black holes, quasars, or gamma ray burst, say nothing of all the earthly disasters which keep life on a knifes edge which are utterly hostile to life bespeak any such plan? Are such facts as the collision between the milkway and andromeda galaxies bespeak something a mind would clamor for?

    “Any minds that appeared in such a universe would have been finely honed to discriminate between hypotheses with harmful or fatal consequences, and hypotheses with beneficial consequences. But that’s quite a different thing, conceptually, between discriminating between truth and falsehood.”

    No not really. Again I can use the hammer thought experiment, if you think your thoughts aren’t reliable at least to the degree to be trusted get w/ it and pick up the hammer. We have natural phobias which help in our survival. In our relative sense these are truths as they’re meaningful to us. Further if you don’t trust such a thought, then see what happens when you jump off a 10 story building.

    “Nor does it mean that we should trust it”

    Ok, we’ve already established that the SM is the best we currently have; you’re not questioning its fruits so it would appear you do grant that on some level what is does say about reality is accurate.
    As mentioned before it’s not a perfect method but in for what it allows in being robust & able to include new evidence & continually allow for refinement it’s hands down the best method we have. So like it or not, even it’s still the preferred method.

    “one of which pointed north only 2% of the time and the other of which pointed north 5% of the time”

    This is an obvious question; any reasonable person would take the one w/ by its method allowed for the lowest margin for error & further allowed for new evidence to refine & hone its accuracy. In this sense it would be like asking, which compass would you prefer, the one which points north 90% of the time, or the other which points north 95% AND allows for further accuracy as its method is able to refined based on evidence.

    Even a child can understand that an answer which incorporates more consistent evidence & thus is based on a higher probability more likely to be congruent with reality would opt for that method over one in which is less probable & doesn’t allow for refinement.

    Again, it comes down to ‘we have a method, & it works fairly well, look at the fruits’, so I ask you what is the alternative method you have for discovering reality more accurately? Better to have some method which describes reality even to a degree accurately over none, yes? If you don’t have a plan B, then why the issue?

    “why not just give up trying to find your way north?”

    Ha – give up the pursuit of knowledge of reality? Not a chance. Again, I don’t have to go over all the fruits of science which have improved the quality of life for humans, so obtaining such knowledge is useful, if not integral to our continued survival as a species. As you know, there are many massive extinction events associated with life on earth, & understanding this & the mostly likely method for avoiding such fates stem from the result of science.

    “In other words, abandon speculation about the past”

    No, all evidence in physical reality is fair game. You may not like that science attempts to learn the answers, but that says more about you then the method itself. Past is prologue, so in order to comprehend how to survive when our sun goes supernova stems from understanding that the sun operates this way which leads us back to the past occurrences of this.

    “If a Darwinian account of mind is correct, we don’t have to engage in these pursuits; they won’t make us any happier, after all”

    I disagree. Many find the discoveries of science to be quite humbling (hubble deep field, mapping of the human genome, for instance). These answers not only address fundamental questions about who we are, where we come from, & our place in the cosmos. Again, I must stress, science isn’t about in the end making people happy, it’s about accurate knowledge. If you find some meaning or hapiness in such discoveries, great, if not, well that’s sad. So, despite the overwhelming evidence that such an appealing concept like Astrology is absolute bunk, some prefer it b/c it makes them happy & feel special. This is not a deficiency of the science method, it’s a deficiency of the person who’d rather live in the Matrix of make believe rather than having to face the cold hard facts.

    “For any finite set of observations, the number of explanatory hypotheses which is compatible with those observations is infinite”

    Yes, but as you know all the consistent evidence cannot be pointing towards mutually exclusive models. This consistency is why we reasonably hold to such tentative models as they become refined further to become theories as they incorporate more independent levels of evidence. Again, to suggest such a method is fatally flawed one need only to look at the fruits of the method & how much it’s grown over the centuries & then digest how such a flawed method could produce such fruits in the first place.
    “cognitive blind-spots, which sometimes lead to mistaken judgements on our part?”

    Such cognitive blind spots exist regardless of if we’re to assume a darwinian premise or not, so it’s not exclusive to investigation of reality in using the method of science, it would of course extend towards any other possible methods or revelations. The method of science requires objective testing of evidence & that all results be testable by others & further that they’re done in a impartial way.

    “a theistic account of the mind would predict that cognitive blind spots we suffer from are not pervasive”

    Interesting in how your contradict your statements earlier, only earlier you commented that: “which is what we’d expect only in a universe designed by a Transcendent Mind whose nature made it want any other minds it created to be capable of discovering truth too”.

    It’s odd that you’d contend that our minds were formed in such a way so as to understand all of reality whilst limiting us to the middle ground in which we commonly live. I guess the transcendent mind you appeal to didn’t give us the operative ability to comprehend such spectrums easily. Design fail?Fancy that one.

    Theistic account or not, we do have some blind spots, we’re not equipped/evolved to comprehend the very large or small scales of the universe, nor are our brains great at crunching vast numerical equations as quickly as computer device. There are evolutionary accounts & valid reasons for why such concepts we have a hard time of grasping aren’t those which would be favored for in our evolutionary past.

    But is there any account as to why a transcendent mind would set it up in such a way? And if so, explain how it’s done.

    “How do we know when to abandon a bad hypothesis?”

    When it’s been falsified, or when it doesn’t fit in with the existing consistent data. Any such conclusion is contingent ultimately on the evidence & data, so when there is enough data to rule out X hypothesis or being related or accurate, then it’s pushed aside like astrology & the like were.

    Again, if this process of rejecttion isn’t valid, we shouldn’t expect legitimate fruits from the method as it would be aimlessly wandering in the dark, but we don’t find that, we find it works.

    “On a Darwinian account, our brains evolved to confront short-term, present dangers, not long-term or absent ones”

    I disagree. Part of what makes us special is that we have a good ability to remember past events & much our ability to see it through such future harsh times is learning from the past & virtualizing possible future scenarios in which we plan ahead in order to mitigate their impact. Part of this involves preparation of events that are expected to occur based on past evidence; such that when they occur we’re less affected & more likely to survive. In this sense it’s more sensible to ones survival to prepare for such events, even if they’re unlikely or less serve than forecasted, as the consequences of not acting are harsh. One could equate this with how we work in detecting agency & how in the past in both instances it was better to be safe than sorry. Such long term planning ahead is quite unique.

    “that the burning of fossil fuels was beneficial to society in the long run, and posed no danger to the earth’s climate”

    This is early on as new evidence is being formed, so the hypothesis, if it was even ever stated wouldn’t have been supported by a lot of data in the first place. The other issue is ‘whom’ in society in this hypothesis specifically is benefiting from such actions?

    “no-fault divorce would not harm”

    I’d be interested in where this supposed hypothesis was even ever made let alone the studies which support the conclusions as you say they do. ‘Harm children’, can you specify some details in how & studies to support it? I trust I am not being unreasonable.

    “You might argue that in the very long run, as we continue to pursue the scientific method, we’ll get closer to the truth”

    Yes, that’s in part why it’s called a pursuit of knowledge/truth, it’s not a declaration of truth or absolute knowledge. The journey is important, not just the destination. The method is one of refinement, take for instance how relativity was incorporated into physics, in where continual progression is the norm, & one need only refer to the past centuries to get a feeling of its headway of discovery.

    “that our hypotheses are approximations to an unattainable ideal: Truth with a capital T”

    Yes, this is correct, but again these approximations must be fairly accurate if they bear fruits, right? The method allows for great increases of knowledge, but it’s hard to suggest any such model or theory is beyond reproach, they’re tentative, however they explain a great deal about reality that any reasonable person can see that their fruits are indicative of how reality works & that they’re congruent that asking for it to be any such absolute final for all time is missing the point of what the method delivers & continues to do so, just as you do now.

    “could not make any absolute statements about past events that no-one had observed”

    Absolute, no, but accurate based on evidence YES VJ we can. I must stress, it’st not a position of absolute, refer to method and you’ll see it plain.

    We do so in the very same way of analysis of direct & indirect observations which lead to a conclusion. Keep in mind, the evidence of atoms is based on indirect evidence as we’re not directly witnessing the atoms themselves but rather how they interact w/ other particles around them & the maths used to predict their movements accurately to such a high degree is used to infer their existence.

    By your logic just b/c no one directly witnessed a murder, we’re not allowed to use the DNA evidence, or the finger prints on the gun, or the caliber of the gun, & so on in incriminating the person in the murder.

    “that the universe is the creation of a supernatural Deity whose nature precludes it from deceiving us, Such a Deity could be trusted”

    Here’s where you derail & go away from the method of science, but I guess that would explain why you’d want us to abandon it. What part unfalsifiable is beyond you?

    Ok, how does one for instance attribute such design to deity X over deity Y? Where is the objective evidence we can test that only deity X operates according to such, & not deity Y? You see, not only can you not offer either, but you couldn’t distinguish from either in any meaningful way so to claim X deity was responsible for design Z & not deity Y. In this you’d have no way to determine which supposed deity was responsible let alone if they’re being deceptive or not. It becomes all fluff & hand waving.

    Consider for a moment the evidence of Human Chromosome 2 Fusion. How could this evidence be used in your manner in which you claim the designer isn’t being deceiving? Is this from deity X or deity Y, 7 further how can you objectively show this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPp0c_5_m6Q

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-WAHpC0Ah0

    By the way, I noticed through all your talk, that you haven’t you offered any other philosophical method which could possibly be more accurate than the one which you rally against, now why is that?

  268. 268

    CJYman at 264,

    “He asserted a difference, just as he implicitly asserts that intelligence is not a result of natural processes.”

    Eh?!?!?! You have never observed a difference in the types of events that say a volcano makes and the citizens of pompei themselves made, or a difference in a tornado’s effects vs. a burglar’s effects?

    I never said that. I even pointed out that the types of events caused by a volcano are different from the types of events caused by a tornado which are different again from the results caused by a human or animal. There are a wide variety of results possible from natural processes. That’s not really the point.

    The point is that, thus far in this thread, no one has provided any evidence that humans are anything but natural.

    Are you asserting that law+chance can give rise to intelligence?

    If by “law + chance” you simply mean natural processes such as the physics and chemistry we observe, there is no evidence that intelligence is a product of anything but. If anyone wants to provide evidence that something else is required, I would be very interested in seeing it.

    How can that happen if law+chance can’t even define the functional organization of the brain upon which you seem to imply is necessary for intelligence to exist.

    Do you have any proof that natural processes cannot, in principal, evolve a brain? Alternatively, do you have any objective, empirical evidence that something other than natural processes actually did result in a physical brain?

    “That’s a claim, not a definition. It requires evidence in support of it.”

    It’s a claim, based on observation, which is then utilized to explain a distinction between two concepts — “nature” and “supernature.”

    The problem there is the enormous potential for equivocation. The word “supernatural” has a lot of baggage associated with it. I suggest that it is much more effective to speak in terms of natural processes, human intelligence, and similar specific terms, if one’s goal is to communicate the underlying concepts clearly.

    Skipping a bit, to get to the core of the issue. . . .

    Oh, and why are you asking for someone to defend as assertion that intelligence violates physics and chemistry? No one has said any such thing here that I’ve seen.

    From the OP:

    Methodological naturalism conflates all immaterial, non-natural causes, such as Divine intelligence, superhuman intelligence, and human intelligence, placing them all in the same category. . . . This is where the Darwinists take the easy way out by simply declaring that there are no immaterial minds, while the TE’s split their brains in two pieces trying to make sense of it.

    From StephenB at 9:

    “How would an immaterial mind work? Any measurable testable ways of narrowing down what this entails?”

    What does the question about how minds work have to do with MN’s assumption that they may not, under any circumstances, be considered as a possible cause?

    And again at 205:

    Except for epiphenominalists, who seek to have it both ways, everyone knows that a mind is thought to be an immaterial entity, as is the soul, as is the will, and everyone knows that the brain is a material physical organ. So, when you hear me speak of mind, be sure that I am referring to an immaterial faculty of the soul, which, as long as it is housed in a body, cannot function in the absence of a physical brain, but can, nevertheless do things that the brain cannot do

    The claim on the table is clearly that the mind (and other entities claimed to exist) are immaterial. That certainly isn’t supported by any peer-reviewed data or the known laws of physics.

    In fact, I’m not sure how one would distinguish between immaterial and non-existent.

  269. PS: KF states at 263:

    o, you cannot simply assert that somehow they “must” reduce to matter and energy acted on by blind chance and mechanical necessity for so long. You have to SHOW that.

    It doesn’t work that way. Mustela and I have made two assertions, one positive and one negative. The positive assertion is that there is a significant (and perhaps exclusive) natural/physical component to human cognition. The negative statement is that there is no evidence of anything beyond the natural aspects of human cognition. As far as the positive statement, we point to the extensive body of scientific knowledge in fields of psychiatry and neuroscience, to name but two.

    But, you are asking Mustela to prove the negative statement. Surely, a classically trained individual such as yourself understands that you can’t prove a negative. So, since you and Stephen are the ones making the positive statement that there is more to human cognition than the physicl/natural, the burden is on you to provide proof that human intelligence can operate independently of the physical form it is associated with.

  270. 270

    CJYman at 264,

    I want to pull out one point so that it doesn’t get lost in an already too long post.

    CJYman:
    “Is there any reason at all to suppose that law+chance can produce intelligence, when intelligence is founded upon patterns neither defined by law nor chance.”

    Mustela:
    “What patterns are those?”

    Essays, patterns of material in automobiles, information processing systems, coded language, strings of DNA, molecular machines, etc — basically all patterns neither defined by mathematical descriptions of regularities that emerge from the physical/material/measurable properties of matter and energy, nor best explained by chance.

    If you’re claiming that the human-generated artifacts in that list are a result of something other than natural processes, you’ve first got to demonstrate that humans are the result of other than natural processes. If humans are the result of natural processes, as all available evidence suggests, then so are artifacts created by humans (unless you have evidence of humans violating the laws of physics).

    With respect to the items on the list not created by humans, your final sentence ignores emergent properties. Just because strict reductionism fails to explain a phenomena does not mean that the phenomena is other than natural.

  271. Clive @ 262,

    “never understand thought unless you ask the person what they were thinking”

    I wouldn’t use such categorical statements Clive, science has a history of showing them to be dead wrong.

    I don’t think we can, yet, accurately know what one is thinking as a thought is occurring, as in ‘they are thinking about shaving’, however we do have evidence of when a person is thinking in certain modes of thought, e.g love, disgust, hatred, etc. so these thoughts are readily identifiable in neural scans. In this sense thoughts of fairly specific things are & have been measured.

    As for you asking for some way of performing mind reading as a fault of science is laughable, there is no need sir, all that is needed is to show a definitive correlation of cause & effect between the chemical reactions in the physical brain & how they translate to modes of thought. This is sufficient to conclude that physical reactions in the brain translate into our perceptions & thoughts, which is after all what you were trying to demonstrate otherwise.

    It’s not a coincidence that such neural scans indicate brain activity is specific areas when one is shown a picture of something they have an affinity (love) for or where they’re introduced to a strong smell they have strong memory about. It’s a chemical brain reaction that much is clear.

    “it reduces all thoughts to movements, which cannot be either true or false movements, but only describable by geometrical relations”

    I don’t understand your dilemma. The movements of chemicals in the brain are involved in thought, it’s not even up for debate, and this is known empirically as we can measure how the brain chemically responds to certain external stimuli. So you have geometrical relations in which neurons are transmitting information in which we call ‘thoughts’, and what’s so incomprehensible there?

    “It is a category mistake to claim that a thought measured at “one inch plus a certain speed and velocity” produced a “true thought”

    Well of course it is Clive, just as it’s a category mistake to claim that a tornado storm is measured “one inch plus a certain speed and velocity” at the atomic level, such natural phenomena of tornado’s & consciousness occurs only as an aggregate. Only as an end result of the aggregate pattern does either occur. This is why when a person suffers PVS their consciousness is changed as the neurological pattern is disrupted, clearly you wouldn’t say Teri Shivo is having the same thoughts as she was prior to the accident as she’s barely even responsive to external stimuli much less can she identify herself in a mirror. Notice how in all the attributable causes of PVS, they are, without exception always reducible to the physical brain, and moreover specific sections in the brain that are responsible for these associated aspects of core consciousness. Now why might that be?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.....tive_state

    “You always, and in every case, have to ask the person what they were thinking,”

    On the most minutia of the details, so far yes. But we can in neural studies determine the mode of thought, which is ‘is this person having a thought about love, or anger, or empathy, or confusion, etc. etc. These are very easy to recognize as they specifically correlate to certain sections in the brain & without variance across age, race, gender, etc.

    I’m sorry Clive, but you’re bearing down for science not having all the answers right now, whilst ignoring the obvious physical brain’s chemical reactions to thinking/thought/consciousness is unreasonable. The brain is very complex structure

  272. CJYman @ 264,

    “That is the only definition of “natural” that the critics have provided.”

    I don’t think so CJ, both efren ts and I further qualified natural as being only that which is congruent with known physical laws. That is, both we and bears can act as part of nature, but only so far as the natural laws allow us to.

    The distinction between the posited supernatural here is that, as Behe said in Dover & others in ID movement have stated, the bacterium flagella couldn’t possibly by any known applicable natural laws have evolved its motor system. That is he says not only can it not be naturally explained, but only that a transcendent supernatural agent which can suspend & work outside of & beyond such natural laws, could create the flagella.

    “Not one single ID proponent here has ever argued for a violation of law. If they have, I will argue with you against that position.”

    I could be wrong, but I think it’s all there in which Behe comments that only a sort of transcendent being could go beyond the natural laws to produce something that natural laws itself wouldn’t allow for. I don’t recall the other 2 whom where there defending ID, but they too I think held the same sentiment that only a trancendent being could act above natural laws.

    http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/k.....er_342.pdf

  273. Mustela:
    “The point is that, thus far in this thread, no one has provided any evidence that humans are anything but natural.”

    Thus far in this thread, no critic has provided a useful definition of “natural” that can be used in the term “methodological naturalism” in such a way as to remove ID Theory from being considered as science.

    Furthermore, I have shown that law+chance is subservient to intelligence and that there are reasons why law+chance on its own will never produce intelligence. In fact, this is one of the hypothesis that naturally arises out of ID Theory.

    CJYman:
    “Are you asserting that law+chance can give rise to intelligence?”

    Mustela:
    “If by “law + chance” you simply mean natural processes such as the physics and chemistry we observe, there is no evidence that intelligence is a product of anything but.”

    … except that intelligence is founded on patterns not defined by physics and chemistry, just like this essay or an automobile, which I already explained to you.

    Mustela:
    “If anyone wants to provide evidence that something else is required, I would be very interested in seeing it.”

    The evidence is in the fact that law+chance do not define intelligence, intelligence can generate law/algorithms and set of laws to control chance, so far intelligence is required to produce further intelligence, intelligence generates patterns that law+chance (absent intelligence) do not generate — refer to tornado vs. burglar which you agreed with–, and consciousness is purely subjective whereas matter is purely objective.

    Where is your evidence that chance+law (absent previous intelligence) can produce even CSI, much less intelligence?

    Read through the link I provided for you and you will see the definition of law+chance as it is used in science.

    CJYman:
    “How can that happen if law+chance can’t even define the functional organization of the brain upon which you seem to imply is necessary for intelligence to exist.”

    Mustela:
    “Do you have any proof that natural processes cannot, in principal, evolve a brain?”

    Define “natural.”

    Mustela:
    “Alternatively, do you have any objective, empirical evidence that something other than natural processes actually did result in a physical brain?”

    Again, define “natural.” I have already answered these questions with the definitions I have provided. If your definition of “natural” is merely “that which can be measured at least indirectly” (which is the only definition provided so far by the critics here), then since intelligence can be detected (as per your agreement with the tornado vs. burglar scenario) then intelligence is natural. But, then your question becomes meaningless, since anything other than “natural” merely becomes “that which we can not *yet* measure.” If we used that definition as any sort of standard, science would grind to a halt.

    However, since there is a distinction between the effects of law+chance and law+chance+intelligence, there is usefulness in the distinction between “nature” as law+chance and “supernature” as intelligence, especially since as I keep reminding you, law+chance are subservient to intelligence and there are reasons (which I have already explained) why law+chance (absent previous intelligence) will not produce intelligence.

    That is exactly why I have stated over and over again that I see the distinction between “natural” and “supernatural” as artificial yet useful. There are two basic ways of defining the terms and both support the use of ID Theory in scientific investigation and make “methodological naturalism” a useless standard for excluding ID Theory from science.

    Mustela:
    “That’s a claim, not a definition. It requires evidence in support of it.”

    CJYman:
    “It’s a claim, based on observation, which is then utilized to explain a distinction between two concepts — “nature” and “supernature.””

    Mustela:
    “The problem there is the enormous potential for equivocation. The word “supernatural” has a lot of baggage associated with it.”

    Exactly, and that is why StephenB and I are very clear in our definitions and how we are applying them. However, the critic … not so much. Why? Because no matter how “nature” is defined, it becomes absolutely useless when used as a standard (MN) to exclude ID Theory as science. I began to explain this above in comment #152.

    Mustela:
    “I suggest that it is much more effective to speak in terms of natural processes, human intelligence, and similar specific terms, if one’s goal is to communicate the underlying concepts clearly.”

    But we aren’t speaking of merely intelligence associated with a specific looking bag of meat (human intelligence). Instead, we are speaking of the class of phenomenon known as intelligence, which we are already seeing in computers AI and as I’ve already explained there is no way to restrict intelligence to humans.

    Furthermore, as can be seen, nature can be defined in different ways. That is one of the points of this thread. It is the ID critic who usually refuses to provide an exact definition of the terms so that they can weasel around with the terms int he hope of showing that ID Theory violates the “ground rule of science” — methodological naturalism.

    So, how are you defining “natural processes” and how are these processes related to MN, ID Theory, the term “supernatural,” “materialism,” and science?

    CJYman:
    “Oh, and why are you asking for someone to defend as assertion that intelligence violates physics and chemistry? No one has said any such thing here that I’ve seen.”

    Mustela:
    “From the OP:

    Methodological naturalism conflates all immaterial, non-natural causes, such as Divine intelligence, superhuman intelligence, and human intelligence, placing them all in the same category. . . . This is where the Darwinists take the easy way out by simply declaring that there are no immaterial minds, while the TE’s split their brains in two pieces trying to make sense of it.”

    What does this have to do with violating law of physics and chemistry?

    Mustela:
    “The claim on the table is clearly that the mind (and other entities claimed to exist) are immaterial. That certainly isn’t supported by any peer-reviewed data or the known laws of physics.”

    Depends on how one defines “material.” AS I’ve already stated, consciousness is subjective, so if material — matter/energy — is objective, we have two completely different classes of phenomenon. Conscious/subjective/immaterial and matter/energy/objective/material.

    Mustela:
    “In fact, I’m not sure how one would distinguish between immaterial and non-existent.”

    It is quite a conundrum and it depends entirely on how one is defining the relevant terms. Is everything that exists even material — in the sense of little balls of matter — or is everything “merely” the result of probability waves and their interactions? Is consciousness “real.” Are thoughts “material.” Do thoughts “exist?” Can things exist and not be material? Can you sense someone else’s thoughts or consciousness? If not, are thoughts “real?” Are electromagnetic fields “real/material” or are they merely a mathematical way of envisioning/representing something we will never really understand. Also, if Penrose and HAmeroff are right about their theory of consciousness, then consciousness is fundamental *alongside* matter and energy and is thus not derived from matter and is thus “immaterial.”

    However, and here is the interesting thing, ID Theory does not require the mind to be immaterial by any of the definitions of material that I’ve seen. It could be that the foundation of reality is an eternally existent set of laws which are sufficiently organized so that they are intelligent. ID Theory, as the ability to reliably identify previous intelligence would still work and it would still follow that law+chance on their own (absent intelligence) will not produce certain events.

  274. CJYman:
    “Is there any reason at all to suppose that law+chance can produce intelligence, when intelligence is founded upon patterns neither defined by law nor chance.”

    Mustela:
    “What patterns are those?”

    CJYman:
    “Essays, patterns of material in automobiles, information processing systems, coded language, strings of DNA, molecular machines, etc — basically all patterns neither defined by mathematical descriptions of regularities that emerge from the physical/material/measurable properties of matter and energy, nor best explained by chance.”

    Mustela:
    “If you’re claiming that the human-generated artifacts in that list are a result of something other than natural processes, you’ve first got to demonstrate that humans are the result of other than natural processes.”

    Those patterns above are the same type of patterns which are foundational to intelligence, and thus we have a closed loop which requires intelligence. Law+chance wont start the loop, since they produce neither those patterns which require intelligence nor those patterns which are foundational to intelligence.

    Mustela:
    “If humans are the result of natural processes, as all available evidence suggests, then so are artifacts created by humans (unless you have evidence of humans violating the laws of physics).”

    1. What does “violating the laws of physics” have anything to do with it?

    2. Define “natural.”

    3. What evidence suggest that law+chance (absent intelligence) will generate organized CSI, patterns not defined by law+chance, much less intelligence? You stated that there is evidence, so please show me it.

    Mustela:
    “With respect to the items on the list not created by humans, your final sentence ignores emergent properties. Just because strict reductionism fails to explain a phenomena does not mean that the phenomena is other than natural.”

    Again, define “natural.” If emergent properties won’t explain essays or automobiles, why would emergent properties explain other events which are neither defined by law nor chance? If emergent properties do explain events not defined by law+chance, then they should be able to explain these comments of ours as well as automobiles, computers, etc.

    All examples of emergent properties which don’t require intelligence are still definable by law+chance.

    Would you care to address the point and answer the question at the end of my comment here, since it is extremely relevant:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-337588

  275. 275

    StephenB wrote:

    Sorry, Adel, but it doesn’t work. Everyone knows what a dessert is. On the other hand, no one knows what a Darwinist means by a natural cause. There hilarity comes from watching them trying to categorize that which has not yet been defined. But thank you for playing.

    On the contrary, my little satire makes once again a point that has been repeatedly made by others on this thread: a given entity can have more than one property. A dessert can be a baked item or a fruit. A natural cause can be a human being or a volcano eruption. There is nothing unnatural about human beings.

    In keeping with that point, would you care to rescue your comrades and explain what you mean by a natural cause?

    I agree with Aquinas. In his view, God is the one and only primary cause, the Creator of the Universe and everything in it.*

    God’s created Universe is what we call nature. As Aquinas said, there is true causal power in nature, but it is secondary to God’s primary causal role in the whole scheme. Human beings are creatures and are therefore part of nature. Volcanoes are creatures and are therefore part of nature. Both have secondary causal power.

    *I part company with Aquinas in viewing such entities as devils and angels as part of creation, because I can’t verify their existence or causal power.

  276. CJYman, @273

    “no critic has provided a useful definition of “natural” that can be used in the term “methodological naturalism” in such a way as to remove ID Theory from being considered as science”

    They did in Dover, & eferen ts & I mentioned (I just earlier In 272 did!) how what is considered as natural is in part not just what is measureable & testable, but also that which acts & works within the confines of known natural laws.

    This is precisely why to explain the flagella Behe says that natural laws + chance are insufficient to explain it, but rather a transcendent super being which can act above & beyond the know natural laws is required.

    “except that intelligence is founded on patterns not defined by physics and chemistry”

    C’mon pal, come back off the deep end, the physical brain clearly works within the bounds of chemistry and physics.

    “What does this have to do with violating law of physics and chemistry?”

    One could reason as others & I did, that the OP ed is of the opinon that the physical medium of the brain, or something physically comparable like a super CPU isn’t required for the mind, nor intelligence. Still waiting on that one…

    Well, for one it’s to assume that 1) such violations of such laws are possible despite zero evidence of it. 2)That such violations occurs via a super being which isn’t material, nor testable or measurable by science itself at any level. This would be how Behe explained the formation of the flagella in that no known natural law(s) nor w/ chance could provide a reasonable conclusion that it’s possible, thus a transcendent being is introduced. In this sense, it’s an assertion that non material beings are involved in the world & that science has to incorporate untestable notions of this sort.

  277. Mustela to CJYman

    “The claim on the table is clearly that the mind (and other entities claimed to exist) are immaterial. That certainly isn’t supported by any peer-reviewed data or the known laws of physics.”

    No, it is not on the table, at least not as an argument. A “mind,” which by any rational definition, is immaterial, is not synonymous with “Intelligence,” which as CJYman has tried to point out more than once, may well be material. Try to read for context. I was providing a definition of “mind” for agentorange and effrents, who, like yourself, timidly refuse to provide their own definitions for any of their arguments, which means, of course, that neither you nor they are even making arguments–or, for that matter, following arguments. I was not saying that the design inference to agency requires a mind, which it doesn’t. Contrary to effrent’s and agentorange’s confusion, a definition is not an argument. From a scientific perspective, ruling out natural causes does not lead to or imply claims about the existence of a “mind.”

    What becomes clear is that none of you understand either the process of a design inference or the implications of your own standard of methodological naturalism.

  278. 278

    vjtorley @246,

    What a delightful post. You wrote:

    St. Thomas appears to adopt an “anti-realist” approach to scientific hypotheses here. He has an interesting ally: I believe Steve Hawking puts forward a similar view in A Brief History of Time.

    And then you brought up the Galileo case, and asked:

    I’m just curious. Galileo was the realist here, insisting that the heliocentric theory was the absolute truth. Whose side do you take in this affair?

    I am on the side of the Church. Urban VIII was well within the Thomistic tradition in adhering to a phenomenological view of scientific understanding. Galileo appears to have been carried away by his own brilliance in making an absolute claim that was not fully supported by evidence. The fact that he was shown to be right by history does not excuse his overreach.

  279. Obviously, the Darwinists will never answer my questions, they never do. So, I will provide their answers for them.

    Question: What is a natural cause?

    Answer: Anything I want it to be depending on how the argument is going. Or it can be anything and everything you can think of. Come to think of it, there are no other kinds of causes.

    Question: What is a mind?

    Answer: A mind is a material brain with a new name. I give it a new name to create the illusion of reasonableness and to muddy the debate waters because, in truth, I believe only in brains.

    Question: What is intelligence?

    Answer: If I am arguing against ID, it is synonymous with a mind, but if I am covering my anatomy as a MN advocate, it is an extension of a material brain.

    Question: Is a tornado and a burglar the same kind of cause?

    Answer: It is the same kind of cause unless someone points out the difference, in which case it suddenly becomes a different kind of cause, except that it really is the same kind of a cause.

    Question: If a burglar is motivated by an immaterial mind, is he, then, a supernatural cause?

    Answer: Yes, of course. Anything non-material is classified as Supernatural.

    Question: If a burglar is motivated by a material brain, does he then, become a natural cause?

    Answer: Yes, of course. There are many kinds of natural causes, and a burglar is just one of many,

    Question: Are you saying that a burglar could be either a natural or a supernatural cause?

    That is correct,

    Question: But how can a thing both be and not be at the same time.

    Answer: For Darwinists, TEs, and MN advocates, all things are possible. Besides, you can’t really hold me to that because I have never really defined a natural cause. I prefer to shift the discussion to ID definitions already in place. It is a lot easier to criticize someone else’s definition rather than provide your own, especially after having been asked to do so.

    Question: Were the builders of Pompeii’s artifacts the same kind of cause as the valcano that buried them?

    Answer: Yes and no. See above answer for the tornado and the burglar.

    Question: How can you decide whether or not a burglar is a natural or a supernatural cause until you discern whether or not his creativity comes from a mind or a brain?

    Answer: I don’t worry about things like that.

  280. StephenB:

    Obviously, the Darwinists will never answer my questions, they never do.

    Actually, I did offer to do just that and we had taken a first step in that direction, but you indicated that you would be very busy this week and wouldn’t have time. I hope that your presence here now indicates that whatever was keeping you busy has passed. If so, we can pick up where we left off at comment 207.

  281. —Adel Dibagno: “I agree with Aquinas. In his view, God is the one and only primary cause, the Creator of the Universe and everything in it.*”

    Thank you for trying, but that doesn’t even come close to working. If God is the definition of “natural cause,” which is the definition I asked for, and if methodological naturalism studies only natural causes, which is its rule, that would mean that Methodological naturalism studies God.

    Please try again. At least you are trying, which separates you from you MN bretheren.

  282. —efren ts: “Actually, I did offer to do just that and we had taken a first step in that direction, but you indicated that you would be very busy this week and wouldn’t have time.”

    You are always offering but never producing. Seversky and Adel have already made an unsuccessful run at it, but I was very appreciative of their effort and followed with a gentle response with suggestions for improvement. You will notice that, to their credit, they felt no need to buy time or chart out a series of “steps” through which they would eventually disclose their definitions.

    In any case, it is no longer necessary for you to respond, because, as you may have noticed @275, I provided your answer and agentorange’s response for both of you. However, my door is always open.

  283. CJYman:”Depends on how one defines “material.” AS I’ve already stated, consciousness is subjective, so if material — matter/energy — is objective, we have two completely different classes of phenomenon. Conscious/subjective/immaterial and matter/energy/objective/material.”

    Wuick point before I have to dash out….Conciousness can, and is, objectively measured everyday across this country and the world. The Glasgow coma scale is a reliable measure, and assessment of conciousness. To say that conciousness is subjective is incorrect.

  284. StephenB at 278:

    You are always offering but never producing.

    Well, to be fair, I am still waiting on you to answer the question I posed in comment 207. Once we have that matter out of the way we can proceed on our way.

    You will notice that, to their credit, they felt no need to buy time or chart out a series of “steps” through which they would eventually disclose their definitions.

    A slight meta-comment. When arguments are laid out in great detail in a single comment, the subsequent discussion usually goes horribly awry. Selective editting, veering off into side issues, and so on. Going step-wise makes sure that we stay on task and know exactly what we mean and draw reasonable conclusions in the process. But, if you don’t have time for such an effort, I certainly understand. With this awful winter weather, I have chores stacked up like cordwood.

    However, my door is always open.

    Well, there is one thing you could clear up for me. In comment 273, you said:

    “Intelligence,” which as CJYman has tried to point out more than once, may well be material.

    But, in the OP, you state:

    Methodological naturalism conflates all immaterial, non-natural causes, such as Divine intelligence, superhuman intelligence, and human intelligence, placing them all in the same category.

    I am struggling to reconcile the two. Are you using different definitions of (im)material in the two statements, or did you mean the “mind” when you wrote “intelligence” in the OP?

  285. agentorange,

    I don’t think we can, yet, accurately know what one is thinking as a thought is occurring, as in ‘they are thinking about shaving’, however we do have evidence of when a person is thinking in certain modes of thought, e.g love, disgust, hatred, etc. so these thoughts are readily identifiable in neural scans. In this sense thoughts of fairly specific things are & have been measured.

    Do you not understand that any conclusion that thoughts of love or disgust having any bearing on anything in the brain came as a result of asking the person what they were thinking of? This knowledge wasn’t gained by any other way. This is a mind communicating with another mind, not a geometrical assessment that obtained this knowledge, even by categories such as love or disgust, much less individual thoughts within those categories. I’m going to ask you again, how do geometrical measurements obtain knowledge of thoughts, with no regard and no reference to asking the subject what they were thinking? If “is” can produce “ought” tell me how. Please, no obfuscation and no category mistakes here, tell me how geometrical measurements tell us what thoughts are occurring? And tell me how geometrical measurements can produce truth, and can do so by comparison to other geometrical measurements? Your feeble attempt at showing brain damage doesn’t prove what you want it to prove, just as if i throw a brick at my stereo speakers it will not broadcast the news properly, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a broadcaster for goodness sakes. It amazes me that you think the speakers are the voice broadcasting the news.

  286. —efren ts: “Well, there is one thing you could clear up for me.”

    —”In comment 273, you said…’Intelligence,” which as CJYman has tried to point out more than once, may well be material.’”

    —But, in the OP, you state:

    —’Methodological naturalism conflates all immaterial, non-natural causes, such as Divine intelligence, superhuman intelligence, and human intelligence, placing them all in the same category’”

    —”I am struggling to reconcile the two. Are you using different definitions of (im)material in the two statements, or did you mean the “mind” when you wrote “intelligence” in the OP?

    The comment in 273 says that intelligence can be material or non-material, which it can. So, it couldn’t possibly conflict with anything either way.

    The comment in the OP refers to “immaterial/non natural causes.” That speaks for itself. For a human, that would be a mind, since a brain would be a material/natural cause.

    Intelligent agency, as a scientific construct, is non-natural, but it may be either material or non-material. Mind is a more specific kind of intelligence, being both non-natural and immaterial. Thus, both intelligence in the general sense and “mind” in the specific sense, are non-natural causes. Hence, the critical importance of definitions.

  287. —-Clive Hayden: “Your feeble attempt at showing brain damage doesn’t prove what you want it to prove, just as if i throw a brick at my stereo speakers it will not broadcast the news properly, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a broadcaster for goodness sakes. It amazes me that you think the speakers are the voice broadcasting the news.”

    Excellent! Illumniating! Concise! Look what can be done with 59 words.

  288. Adel DiBagno (#272, #276)

    Thank you for your posts.

    I was interested to read your comment in #276:

    I am on the side of the Church. Urban VIII was well within the Thomistic tradition in adhering to a phenomenological view of scientific understanding.

    If your view of scientific understanding is a phenomenological one, then does that mean you hold the same view of the theory of evolution? Please note that I’m using the word “evolution” here to mean the hypothesis that all living things diverged from a common ancestral stock as a result of natural processes which are still at work in the world today, especially – but not exclusively – through natural selection.

    Is the theory of evolution, for you, merely a useful hypothesis which explains the appearances (i.e. the variety we find in the natural world), without being true in an absolute sense? I’d be interested to hear your answer to this question.

    In #272, I thought you summarized your views on the relation between God and nature very clearly:

    I agree with Aquinas. In his view, God is the one and only primary cause, the Creator of the Universe and everything in it.*

    God’s created Universe is what we call nature. As Aquinas said, there is true causal power in nature, but it is secondary to God’s primary causal role in the whole scheme. Human beings are creatures and are therefore part of nature. Volcanoes are creatures and are therefore part of nature. Both have secondary causal power.

    I therefore take it that you would argue that God is not a natural cause, but a supernatural one, and that methodological naturalism doesn’t study God. This would fit in with your earlier comment in #32:

    You can, without sin or blasphemy, study nature in its own right while leaving God out of the details. Indeed, God’s dignity is honored thereby.

    Now, if you want to study nature while leaving God out of the picture, then I have no quarrel with that – and neither would Aquinas. For instance, Aquinas’ Commentary on Aristotle’s Meteorology does not mention the word “God” or “gods,” although I found two hits for the word “faith,” where Aquinas asserts that the eternity of the world is contrary to faith. Of course, Aquinas says a lot more about God in his commentary on Aristotle’s work, The Heavens (De Caelo).

    I would however strongly disagree with the view that there is something procedurally illicit about using known scientific facts to reason one’s way to God’s existence – and so would St. Thomas. For as you are undoubtedly aware, Aquinas thought that God’s existence could be established from the mere fact that things change (this was his famous First Way).

    I presume you would reply, however, that the First Way was not a scientific but a philosophical argument. In this respect, Intelligent Design offers an approach to God which contrasts with, but in no way conflicts with, Aquinas’ Five Ways. Aquinas reasons his way to God on the basis of everyday empirical facts combined with very reasonable metaphysical assumptions; whereas ID attempts to provide a “metaphysics-free” argument to the existence of a Higher Intelligence, using purely mathematical and scientific premises.

    It seems to me, though, that you are possibly unaware that for Aquinas, God is not just a primary cause, but also a concurrent cause, acting in conjunction with each and every secondary cause in a causal chain. In other words, God’s action is not like this:

    God -> X -> Y -> Z

    but like this:

    God -> X
    God + X -> Y
    God + Y -> Z

    Here, God occupies not one but three roles: primary cause (of X, Y and Z), concurrent cause (with X) of Y, and concurrent cause (with Y) of Z. For Aquinas, then, God is no remote, hands-off Deity. He is actively involved in each causal process in the world.

    But why did Aquinas envisage God’s activity in this way? And how can I claim to be sure that my interpretation of Aquinas is correct here? I’ll explain in my next post.

  289. Adel DiBagno (#272)

    I’d like to continue with the argument of my revious post, which is that for Aquinas, God is not just a primary cause but a concurrent cause acting in co-operation with every secondary cause in a chain. The importance of this claim is that it weakens the case for leaving God out of science – which is the stated aim of methodological naturalism. After all, why should we leave God out of science, if He has His finger in every pie?

    I’ll begin by directing you to a very interesting little review by Professor Alfred Freddoso, of the Christian philosopher Peter van Inwagen’s work, The Place of Chance in a World Sustained by God.

    For the benefit of readers, I’ll quote a couple of paragraphs to set the scene. The name “Peter” refers to Dr. van Inwagen throughout the quote, and the bold type is mine, but the italics are Professor Freddoso’s:

    On Peter’s simplified model of the universe, God creates and sustains (or conserves) the basic entities and their causal powers. This is the extent of His causal contribution to the ordinary course of nature. Like the power generator in the example involving the two pieces of iron, God is at most a remote or mediate (as opposed to immediate or direct) cause of the changes that the basic entities immediately cause in one another. More simply, God supplies the power, and the created entities then move one another. Their movements are not the immediate effects of God’s action.

    Anyone familiar with the medieval debates over secondary or creaturely causation will realize that the position Peter propounds here is stigmatized as (in effect) a form of deism by almost every important medieval Christian philosopher. To be sure, this brand of deism, which I will label weak deism is much more benign from a theistic perspective than that strong deism which limits God’s causal role in nature to creation alone. Nonetheless, medieval religious thinkers agree almost unanimously that a central element of orthodox theism is the doctrine that God is an immediate cause of every effect brought about in the created universe, that every such effect results directly from an action of God’s. Some of these thinkers go so far in the opposite direction as to claim, astonishingly, that God is the only genuine efficient cause (as opposed to merely “occasional” cause) of such effects – this is the position called occasionalism, and it numbers among its advocates such luminaries as al-Ghazali, Gabriel Biel, and, later on, Malebranche and Berkeley. Most of the scholastics, however, endorse what I will call concurrentism, according to which natural effects derive immediately from both God and creatures. That is to say, in addition to conserving natural entities and their causal powers, God must act with or co-operate with those entities in order for them to bring about their characteristic effects. These effects thus result from God’s action and from the action of the relevant created things.

    However, outside of perhaps a few Latin Averroists, the only medieval Christian thinker I know of who holds the weak deism Peter advocates here is the 14th century Dominican Durandus, whose name came to be the one and only proper name associated with weak deism by later thinkers – among whom I have in mind both concurrentists (e.g., the 16th century Jesuits Luis de Molina and Francisco Suarez), who cite him with mild disapproval, and the occasionalists (e.g., Malebranche and Berkeley), who contemptuously dismiss him. So it is only perhaps by chance, so to speak, that Peter escaped being vilified by Malebranche and Berkeley.

    The Christian theological tradition, then, is by and large not sympathetic to Peter’s account of God’s causal role in the ordinary course of nature.

    Notice that for the medieval philosophers, including Aquinas, “God is an immediate cause of every effect brought about in the created universe, that every such effect results directly from an action of God’s.” In other words, when it rains, God directly makes it rain, working in conjunction with natural causes such as clouds. So much for meteorology not needing God! Even if we can do meteorology without adverting to God, there is a very real sense in which every weather change is an act of God.

    But why should we prefer the concurrentist view, when the weak deist view appears more parsimonious? One very powerful reason is that it makes far better sense of many miracles than weak deism, which requires God to over-rule things’ natures when working a miracle. As Professor Freddoso puts it:

    The occasionalists and concurrentists are convinced that there are certain miracles recorded in Scripture that weak deism cannot construe other than as events God was able to bring about only by overpowering certain creatures.

    Think of Shadrach sitting in the fiery furnace. Here we have real human flesh exposed unprotected to real fire, and yet Shadrach survives unscathe – even though the fire is so hot that it consumes the soldiers who usher him into the furnace. How, on the weak deist view, can God save Shadrach? Only, it seems, by either (i) taking from the fire its power to consume Shadrach, which is inconsistent with the soldiers’ being incinerated but in any case amounts (or so the anti-deists all claim) to destroying the fire and in that sense overpowering it; or (ii) endowing Shadrach’s clothing and flesh with a special power of resistance, in which case God is opposing His creature, the fire; or (iii) placing some impediment (say, an invisible heat-resistant shield) between Shadrach and the flames, in which case God is yet again resisting the power of the fire. By contrast, on the occasionalist and concurrentist models, God accomplishes this miracle simply by withholding His own action. The (real) fire is, as it were, beholden to God’s word; He does not have to struggle with it or overcome it or oppose it. The fire’s natural effect cannot occur without God’s action, and in this case God chooses not to act in the way required. An elegant account, and one that does not in any way give any creature a power that God must oppose.

    So, the weak deism which underlies the theistic version of methodological naturalism is not a parsimonious but an awkward theory, when it attempts to account for facts (e.g. miracles) which both you and I acknowledge.

    Not only that, but even if there were no miracles, there would still be another more parsimonious theory than weak deism: occcasionalism (I don’t espouse it myself). For Professor Alfred Freddoso’s explanation of why occasionalism is simpler, I’ll refer you to this link:

    http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/macasin.htm

    Enjoy!

  290. agentorange

    You wanted to know how immaterial thoughts could cause bodily movements. Well, here goes. The Thomistic account I’m putting forward here is not a Cartesian dualist account. On the Thomistic hylomorphic account, the soul is not an immaterial thing that pushes the body round. Rather, its whole identity is bound up with the body. The human soul is simply the defining attribute (substantial form) of the human body – i.e. it is that by virtue of which a human body is human (and not bovine, for instance), and that by which it is a body, rather than a mere aggregation of particles, as a sandpile is.

    Humans are animals. Thus every act of a human being is an animal act. This is also true of our rational acts: for rationality is simply a human being’s distinctive way of being an animal.

    For Thomists, all of our acts are animal acts, but not all of our acts are bodily acts. In particular, acts of the intellect and free will are not bodily acts.
    Reasoning and choosing are immaterial processes: they are actions that involve abstract, formal concepts. For rigorous philosophical arguments against materialism, you can go here. (By the way, computers don’t perform formal operations; they are simply man-made material devices that are designed to mimic these operations. A computer is no more capable of addition than a cash register, an abacus or a Rube Goldberg machine.)

    Reasoning is an immaterial activity. This means that reasoning doesn’t happen anywhere – certainly not in some spooky soul hovering 10 centimeters above my head. It has no location. Ditto for choice. However, choices have to be somehow realized on a physical level, otherwise they would have no impact on the world. So how can acts of the intellect and the will make the body move, if they are not physical acts?

    Here’s how. The soul doesn’t push neurons, as Cartesian dualists think; instead, it selects from one of a large number of quantum possibilities thrown up at some micro level of the brain (some philosophers, including Roddy Doyle, refer to this as the “micro mind”). This doesn’t violate quantum randomness, because a selection can be non-random at the macro level but random at the micro level.

    1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 1
    0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1

    The above two rows were created by a random number generator. Now suppose I impose the macro requirement: keep the columns whose sum equals 1, and discard the rest. I now have:

    1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
    0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0

    Each row is still random, but I have imposed a non-random macro-level constraint. That’s how my will works when I make a choice.

    For Thomists, a human being is not two things – a soul and a body – but one being, capable of two radically different kinds of acts – material acts (which other animals are also capable of) and formal, immaterial actions, such as acts of choice and deliberation. In practical situations, immaterial acts of choice are realized as a selection from one of a large number of randomly generated possible pathways.

    On a neural level, what probably happens when an agent decides to raise his/her arm is this: the arm goes through a large number of micro-level muscular movements (tiny twitches) which are randomly generated at the quantum level. The agent tries all these out over a very short interval of time (a fraction of a second) before selecting the one which feels right – namely, the one which matches the agent’s desire to raise his/her arm. This selection continues during the time interval over which the agent raises his/her arm. The wrong (randomly generated quantum-level) micro-movements are continually filtered out by the agent.

    The agent’s selection may indeed reflect his/her character, values and desires – but then again, it may not. We can and do act out of character, and we sometimes act irrationally. Our free will is not bound to act according to reason, and sometimes we act contrary to it (akrasia, or weakness of will, being a case in point).

    I hope that helps.

  291. Clive at 285:

    Your feeble attempt at showing brain damage doesn’t prove what you want it to prove, just as if i throw a brick at my stereo speakers it will not broadcast the news properly, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a broadcaster for goodness sakes. It amazes me that you think the speakers are the voice broadcasting the news.

    Except, of course, that we can empirically measure the the electical signal in the tuner and the speaker wire. We can empirically measure the RF signal between the radion station and our stero tuner. If we are intrepid enough we could actually locate the physical radion station. We could even shake hands with, and get the autograph of the the disk jockey.

    I guess I am going to have to ask you the same question that has been posed to Stephen, CJYMan and Kairosfocus. A question which has not been answered yet. Can you prove that human intelligence can operate independently of the body it is associated with.

  292. StephenB:

    The comment in 273 says that intelligence can be material or non-material, which it can. So, it couldn’t possibly conflict with anything either way.

    Okay.

    The comment in the OP refers to “immaterial/non natural causes.” That speaks for itself. For a human, that would be a mind, since a brain would be a material/natural cause.

    Well, in the OP you gave human intelligence as an example of an immaterial non-natural cause. So, I will just conclude that the OP was worded poorly, since you really meant the human “mind.”

    One other question. Do you agree that material intelligence must necessarily comply with the laws of nature (heretofore referred to as “law”)?

  293. Onlookers (and ET and MN et al):

    The above would be amusing if it were not so sad in the end:

    KF, 263: Don’t you see that you [ET et al] are reversing a burden of proof improperly?

    It has been shown that we may distinguish chance, law and intelligence per empirical characteristics of events.

    It turns out that the characteristic features of intelligently caused events or objects — especially organised, functionally specific complexity — are radically diverse from what one reasonably expects of the other two, in empirically observable ways . . .

    MN, 265: it is StephenB who is failing to meet the burden of proof. He is asserting, implicitly within his definition [NB: an implication is the opposite of an assertion . . . ], that human intelligence is not the result of natural processes. That positive claim requires evidential support . . . .

    It has been shown that in some cases it is possible to distinguish between the results of actions of humans and the results of non-intelligent processes (e.g. volcanoes).

    ID proponents have claimed to be able to reliably distinguish between some abstract notion of “intelligence” and non-intelligent processes, but no one has come forward with an actual calculation of CSI (the intelligence metric most often mentioned) for a real biological artifact, taking into account known physics, chemistry, and evolutionary mechanisms.

    ET, 266: at issue here isn’t that we can distinguish one from the other [i.e. chance and law from intelligence]. The issue is whether they are mutually exclusive categories as you and Stephen assert.

    Now of course, in step by step points:

    1 –> It was shown above (and in the linked) that diverse aspects of phenomena show empirical — observable — consequences of chance, law and intelligence; which have specific, diverse characteristics.

    2 –> On that empirical fact, it was concluded that we have good grounds for a scientific inductive generalisation to trusting certain signs or empirical patterns as reliable signposts of chance, law and intelligence. (The last being exemplified by a common known case, humans like ourselves.)

    3 –> So, without reference to or excessive dependency on or assumptions drawn from any particular metaphysical theory on the nature of intelligence, as noted above, we have identified certain signs, which signs are in fact a commonplace.

    4 –> For example:

    functionally specific, complex organisation and underlying information [a la Wicken] that on the gamut of available resources are not reasonably likely to have emerged as a result of a stochastic process, are credibly works of intelligence.

    5 –> So strong is this sign, that on thousands of millions of test cases provided by the Internet as a handy ongoing test, there are no known counter-examples. All web pages of 1,000 or more bits length where we see text in functional English etc, [130 - 150 ASCII characters depending on 7- or 8- bit] are known to have been produced by intelligent action.

    6 –> As an aside, MN is also wrong as WAC no 27 (” The Information in Complex Specified Information (CSI) Cannot Be Quantified”) shows: we have published in the peer review literature from Durston Chiu, Trevors and Abel, a list of 35 published metrics (based on Shannon’s H) and values of FSCI — I use the easiest term to understand in our context — for biological entities [and in fact for much more than that as the numbers are for families of proteins]. So much for the fallacy of confident assertion of a false, misleading and outdated claim!

    7 –> And BTW, that proteins and underlying DNA and cellular machinery and algorithms and language per reliable empirical sign credibly trace to intelligence is still not yet an assertion on the ultimate nature or identity of the relevant intelligences. Just, we know that such language-using, algorithm-designing, automated, self-replicating machinery implementing intelligence plainly antedates cell based life on earth.

    8 –> So far, we see that intelligence as a causal factor is empirically observed and experienced, that such intelligence — whatever its ontological status and possible forms — is empirically detectable through scientific means [as has been DONE], and that — through a relevant case — humans credibly do not exhaust the list.

    9 –> Further to this, and given the facts that are on the ground and in Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling (etc., etc.), to impose vague — willfully undefined (it is nearly 300 posts!) — concepts of “nature” and “science” then to imagine that “the supernatural” cannot be investigated by science so we can dismiss such results is plainly a back-door censoring imposition of an unexamined metaphysics of demonstrably self-referentially incoherent evolutionary materialism by a de facto, oppressive magisterium.

    10 –> By contrast, we can clearly see that to acknowledge that relevant, observed causal factors trace to one or more of (a) natural regularities rooted in mechanical forces [law], and/or (b) credibly undirected stochastic contingency [chance], and (c ) credibly directed contingency [intelligence acting through design] is scientifically fruitful.

    11 –> Especially, if science is understood to be progressively seeking the truth about the ways of our world in light of observation and analysis of same. (And ideologically censoring science from seeking the truth by imposing evolutionary materialism a la Lewontin et al is anti-science, not science.)

    12 –> Further to this, the distinctions drawn between material (chance and/or law) and intelligent (art or design) causes has long since been shown to be empirically based. It is not MN’s mere “assertion.”

    13 –> Also, it has been shown (long since and again in the above from cases in point: a dropped die that tumbles and comes up with a 5 is a case of all three factors in action . . . ) that in a specific case, all three causes may be at work, but we may distinguish aspects tracing to each, for useful analytical purposes. Most notably, in physics work, we routinely have to abstract out random error and bias from underlying patterns we are interested in.

    14 –> Of course as “we” illustrates, intelligence is the cause of the relevant abstracting out and this is inescapably a part of the work of this vital and foundational science.

    15 –> So, to distinguish natural causes from art or intelligent cause and to seek means of isolating aspects tracing to relevant factors are scientifically reasonable actions.

    16 –> When we turn the signs of intelligence principle to the origin of a credibly fine-tuned, life facilitating cosmos [note again the new empirically based astronomical and cosmological context, and that this next step has routinely been ignored by evolutionary materialism supporting critics above and elsewhere . . . no prizes for guessing why], we see the next level of the issue.

    17 –> For, the underlying physics and the observed objects in the cosmos show a pattern of functionally specific complex organisation that supports the existence of C-chemistry, cell based, intelligent life. In short, it is now credible that the cosmos itself is the product of art, not chance and a higher “law” in an assumed wider domain. (And, as Leslie showed so powerfully in the wayback machine form of the onward link from the just linked, this breaks through even the assumed multi-verse models.)

    18 –> So now we are looking beyond the observed, credibly contingent cosmos, to the logically necessitated ground for such an entity. And, a very credible candidate for such is an extra-cosmic, intelligent, and powerful designer. [Note the common d; I am not hereby implying personality or specific worldview.]

    19 –> Such a designer would be logically and causally prior to — I here make no assertions on temporality as time itself as we observe it is an object of the origin of our cosmos — the observed matter and energy space-time cosmos we inhabit.

    20 –> And, we have seen how by empirically based means (so long as we do not indulge in a priori imposition of materialism as confessed by Lewontin and others . . . i.e. again, there is an attempted rhetorical turnabout of burden of proof in the intersts of trying to set materialism up as default “scientific” worldview; never mind its self-referential absurdities) we are pointing to something that in a very legitimate sense would be immaterial, intelligent and yet able to act on and into a matter-energy space-time world.

    21 –> Thus, we have an empirically based, scientifically meaningful context for seeing as a candidate for cosmological origins, a First Mind that is immaterial and in a very literal sense “super-natural.” [That is, beyond the created matter-energy world we inhabit, but capable of acting into it, starting with bringing it into existence.]

    22 –> In that context, and as the Derek Smith two-tier controller model (as already linked) helps us conceptualise, we can see how a higher order creative, volitional supervisory controller can supervene informationally on a lower order servo-contoller serving as i/o and memory front-end processor.

    23 –> Such a higher order supervisory controller could be in some cases a programmed Artificial Intelligence (here conceived as being able to project various strategies, scenarios and paths and select alternatives using built in heuristics). Thence R Daneel Olivaw and co.

    24 –> In other cases, given the credibility of a First Mind, we can see the possibility of an immaterial and even conscious Mind that supervenes on a brain-body system, perhaps even using the sort of quantum selection computer scheme that was suggested above in the thread.

    25 –> In support of immateriality of mind, we note that qualia, intensionality, logical abstractions such as propositions and numbers, etc etc are credibly real but radically different from physical, material entities and processes.

    26 –> Nor, can we coherently try to reduce mind to matter-configurations produced by and under the control of chance and necessity only. For, the resulting self-referential contradictions end up undermining the life of reason itself, a premise of science. (Onlookers, observe how evo mat advocates never have a truly cogent answer to this.)

    27 –> So, we have exposed methodological naturalism as a back-door attempt to smuggle in a censoring constraint on science that blocks it from the free pursuit of the empirical evidence and its best explanation, especially on origins of life, mind, man and cosmos.

    28 –> And in that context, evo mat advocates are forced to obfuscate and equivocate on key concepts such as nature, super-nature, intelligence, mind etc. By contrast, design thinkers — and note the range of actual worldviews across design thinkers and sympathisers in the thread above — can happily accept and extend the sort of definition we find in hihg quality dictionaries such as Collins [cf. 216 above]:

    nature

    1. the fundamental qualities of a person or thing; identity or essential character

    2. (often capital, esp when personified) the whole system of the existence, arrangement, forces, and events of all physical life that are not controlled by man

    3. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Biology) all natural phenomena and plant and animal life, as distinct from man and his creations

    4. a wild primitive state untouched by man or civilization . . .

    29 –> We see here a clear and unforced, common-sense contrast between [a] the natural (which reflects he primordial condition of the cosmos and its onward spontaneous unfolding through forces and associated mechanical laws and stochastic processes), and [b] the artificial or intelligent and purposeful.

    30 –> Moreover, by dint of the existence/ prospect of AI (which is a secondary intelligence tracing to Techne, art!), and by dint of evidence pointing to a First Mind, we can see that such intelligence can be embedded in material objects, but that we must also keep our minds open to the possibility of non-embodied, immaterial intelligence that can be detected through its signs and the contexts of those signs. (NB: oddly, when ID, “the science that studies signs of intelligence,” looks at such signs in Biology, it highlights that the observed and inferred circumstances of life on earth do not allow us to infer that the intelligence implicated by such signs is within or beyond the cosmos. And that has been explicitly so since the very first technical ID work, Thaxton et al’s The Mystery of Life’s Origin, 1984. So, a willful [they have often been corrected but have as a rule insisted on a misrepresentation], sustained well-poisoning misrepresentation by Evo Mat advocates is a part of the problem.)

    _____________

    So, onlookers, we can now see a way forward.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  294. PS: The onlooker (“standing in the Clapham bus stop”) is again invited to look at the always linked [cf my handle] presentation on chance, law and intelligence as distinguishable causal factors here, following up with the immediately following flowchart of how such may be distinguished and investigated scientifically.

    (Indeed the flowchart documents what we routinely do in science, including when the target of our investigation is to identify useful natural regularities, but also when it is important to identify and distinguish stochastic chance and intentional acts. Consider on classic agricultural or medical treatment/control group experiment designs and associated use of ANOVA and factor analysis etc.]

  295. Considering the things that have been said in this thread I have come to realise that many people fail to properly distinguish processes from entities. You can call me a materialist in that I don’t believe in the existence of non-material entities, but I most certainly believe in the reality of non-material processes. (for clarity: non-material, because one cannot take the size or weight of a process. What is material are the entities that do the processing, not the process itself).

    So for me a mind is just as real as the weather – both are immaterial processes, not physical entities.

    The ‘mind’ is a process of the physical brain, and it exists in most living people. ‘Intelligence’ is a particular category of processes of the physical brain, and these processes take place to various degrees in many living entities. Neither ‘mind’ not ‘intelligence’ is a material entity yet both definitely exist, and neither is supernatural (which, as I said earlier, is a vacuous word for all intents and purposes synonymous with ‘unknown’).

    However, it is unwarranted to claim that such processes exist without something physical that actually does the processing. Without atmospheric molecules there won’t be any weather. Without brain molecules there won’t be any minds, nor intelligence. That is in fact the conclusion where all our available evidence actually leads to.

    fG

  296. KF:

    And in that context, evo mat advocates are forced to obfuscate and equivocate on key concepts such as nature, super-nature, intelligence, mind

    And still you haven’t produced empirical evidence that human intelligence can operate independently of the physical body it associated with. Given that both your desired definition of the scientific process and your inferences to the as-yet-undiscovered designer, I would think that would be the first matter on the agenda. But, everyone seems more interested in sneaking that conclusion in through frontloaded definitions or other rhetorical maneuvers.

    I will agree with you on one matter. It is truly sad.

  297. FG:

    Is zero [0] a process or an entity? 1? 2? 3? . . .

    Is the proposition: “Socrates is a Man” an entity or a process?

    If the former, what is its mass, size and location?

    If the latter, what is undergoing the process, and what is the process specifically? On what evidence?

    What about the truth or falsity it expresses?

    Is: “All men are mortal” an entity or process?

    Is: the entailed proposition, “Socrates is mortal”?

    Is the intensionality of the above statements an entity or process?

    Is the conscious awartenessthat I am thinking the syllogism above an entity or a process? On what grounds?

    Given that we have at least arguable reason to cosnider the possibility that he observed cosmos is the product of an extra-cosmic intelligence [as already discussed in this thread and elsewhere] is it fair to say that: Without brain molecules there won’t be any minds, nor intelligence. That is in fact the conclusion where all our available evidence actually leads to?

    And more.

    But all of this is largely besides the main focus of this thread: it is plain that the imposition of methodological naturalism is only of ideological use, not genuine scientific use.

    GEM of TKI

  298. What research has been done on the interface between the immaterial mind and the material brain?

    For the immaterial mind to have any connection with the manifest, material world, there must be a connection somewhere? The output of the immaterial mind needs a connection, an interface with the material world, to set the vocal chords vibrating to make word ‘four’ as an answer from the immaterial mind to the question ‘what is 2 + 2?’

    I am very interested in the immaterial mind and hope more information can be given. Has any ID research has been performed to learn the details?

    I can see many interesting lines of research, like how and when the immaterial mind enters the brain, or is there a communication channel between the brain and a universal mind in another dimension?’

    Why do only mankind have access to immaterial main, why don’t the other apes have immaterial mind?

    The questions are legio, where can I find any relevant ID literature?

    Or is the immaterial mind not bound by the laws of cause and effect, like a magical device?

    IIRC, experiments with brain scanning have shown that more blood goes to the brain while a person is doing calculation in his head. So the brain needs more power when communicating with the immaterial brain? But if that is the case, that also means that there must be energy flow from the brain to the immaterial mind. How can immateriality receive or absorb energy?

    I could go on and on, as far as I can tell there must ba a huge field of scientific and/or ID research waiting for its Newton, Darwin or Einstein there?

  299. ET:

    You are setting up a strawman, in effect prove to me that human ghosts exist; on arbitrary standards of proof you decide. Others may be interested in telling you duppy stories, but I am not. (Onlookers, pardon the many of us who have therefore chosen to ignore the matter as irrelevant.)

    On the real issue to be addressed, you have a much bigger “ghost” to deal with than that, and you face a serious inference to best explanation challenge across comparative difficulties of worldview.

    Especially since your evidently favoured candidate, evolutionary materialism, is demonstrably self-referentially incoherent AND destructively amoral.

    Going further, the acts of mind are radically divergent from and out of the credible reach of the behaviour of material objects under the influence of chance and mechanical necessity, as has already been highlighted to you by others who have taken more time than I am wont to take just now given that you have either ignored or distorted and dismissed.

    To top tis off, we are self-aware, intelligent, en-conscienced creatures. And tha tis empirical datum no 1, through which we gain access to te world of molecules and mountains that you have blown up into encompassing all of reality in a materialistic frame.

    But, on such a frame, all phenomena including reasoning and observing are accounted for on chance + mechanical necessity, which is simply irrelevant to truth, logic or validity ["it works" not being a good criterion of logical correctness or truth]. Consequently, evolutionary materialistic views — however mediated through genetic inheritance and cultural conditioning etc — cannot ground the credibility of reasoning that they have to assume to think and argue materialistic thoughts. Indeed, it spectacularly undermines it and self-destructs in a reductio ad absurdum. (Cf the last link above but one for a simple presentation of how that happens.)

    Worse yet, all this is a red herring led out to a strawman: the real issue is that we have been discussing is the empirical chain of evidence that points to and differentiates the major causal factors: chance, law, intelligence.

    In that context we have a good (cogent) inductive argument [the standard of WARRANT used in science!] — repeatedly presented to you among others but just as repeatedly obfuscated, distracted from or ignored — that shows us how to reliably ans scientifically identify intelligence from its signs.

    That is the context in which it is evident per good inductive warrant that life is intelligently caused, and the observed cosmos is intelligently caused.

    Imposing methodological naturalism to impose a priori philosophical evolutionary materialism by the back door is therefore exposed as an ideological power play, not a cogent response.

    And, onlookers, notice that in trumpeting on how science can only explain by natural causes, the materialists have not been able to give us a coherent account for what “nature” means, and for what the supernatural — whichthey despise — means by contrast. but, once we look at he chain of evidence that allows us to study signs of law, chance and intelligence in due proportion, we soon enough see that an extension of the common-sense meaning of “nature” is quite good enough to deal with what is legitimate: natural [material causal chain tracing to forces of necessity and chance] vs artificial [intelligent cause that may use chance and necessity but imposes -often, complex -- functional organisation to achieve its purposes].

    The evasiveness and incoherence leading to reductio ad absurdum on the evo mat side and the readiness with which the design approach can address the matter should tell us something important on the real balance of the case on the merits.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  300. Cabal;

    First, such mind-brain research exists.

    One famous example is the investigator who used a probe to excite the motor area controlling an arm, telling the patient that he was moving the arm. the person moved over the other arm and held down the moving arm, saying no, YOU are moving my arm [i.e. through electrically exciting it as an electrically controlled mechanism].

    But this is all besides the point.

    the issue in design thory is the distinction between material and intelligent causes per empirical evidence, whatever nature[s] intelligence may turn out to have. (Kindly observe above how I have highlighted that BOTH AI-type programed intelligences and minds beyond matter (starting with the First Mind designing the observed cosmos and implementing it) may be possible.]

    What is decisive is that through an empirical chain of reasoning first to and then from signs of intelligence — as opposed to chance and/or law, we can identify intelligence with high confidence. And when we do look at the relevant cases of such signs, they point to design of cell-based life on earth and to design of the cosmos we live in.

    Those points of empirical data may have onward metaphysical import, but that is a secondary issue on what worldview best explains the scientifically grounded facts of signs pointing to design for certain crucial cases.

    ID, qua scientific project and school of thought, is first and foremost about the grounding of those facts on empirical data and scientific reasoning by well tested induction, and the attempt to use methodological naturalism to cut it off and dismiss it is becoming ever more plainly manifestly an ideological agenda driven imposition.

    GEM of TKI

  301. KF:

    You are setting up a strawman, in effect prove to me that human ghosts exist; on arbitrary standards of proof you decide.

    Well, after having watched a dear family member try to overcome severe clinical depression for years through prayer and increasingly strident faith in The Designer; only to finally find relief in medicine provided to us by materialist researchers who apparently didn’t get the memo stating that methodological naturalism was a science stopper. So, yeah, I suppose I do have a higher set of standards of proof.

    Others may be interested in telling you duppy stories, but I am not.

    I am not surprised. Assuming your conclusion allows you skip going down alot of the dead-end alleys of scientific hypothesis testing and continue marching up the broad boulevard towards the ramparts at the front line of the culture war.

  302. ET:

    Pardon that I have to say this on an emotionally laden subject, but this is more strawman argumentation.

    There are cases of depression that are linked to brain chemistry imbalances, and there are those that are induced by guilt over one’s own misbehaviour. There are those that are induced by having been the victim of physical, verbal or sexual abuse or misinformation.

    And more.

    To anecdotally infer from one case to all cases and jump to a whole worldview level assumption — when there is good evidence on the table that shows demonstratively that the worldview is inescapably self referentially incoherent — is a gross error.

    Not to mention, a surprising number of not only physicians but scientists are card-carrying heists, so you are mistaken to infer that the scientists in question are invariably materialists. (And that is before we look a the history of founding scientists and their worldviews; like say that incompetent named Pasteur with his silly germ theory.)

    Finally, you are using a carefully selected strawman case to distract from and dismiss a significant body of real evidence and issues.

    On the table is a clear case of evidence pointing to an immaterial First mind responsible for creating the observed cosmos. (As in: this mind is credibly or at minimum arguably antecedent to and the cause of the molecules and mountains you look to for the extent of reality. And as long as science is allow3ed to study origins without materialist blinkers, that will be there as an issue to be faced. After the First Mind, then we see that the material realm does not necessarily exhaust reality, and can look at evidence of the underlying nature of human minds [notice, I am on record above that intelligence may find embodiment and expression in various ways, e.g. conceivable AI systems which are programed . . . I would love a genuinely smart computer!] without the distorting effect of a priori materialism, and with a much more relaxed attitude.)

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  303. PS: And on the behalf of greats like Newton [oh ghost of Newton, forgive me . . . ], I resent you inference to scientific laziness on the part of design thinkers, especially in a context where what is on the ground is PERSECUTION of such scientists. Sorry. On cosmological origins, the momentum is with the inference to fine tuning, and that momentum is being backed up by serious research.

  304. Well, after having watched a dear family member try to overcome severe clinical depression for years through prayer and increasingly strident faith in The Designer; only to finally find relief in medicine provided to us by materialist researchers who apparently didn’t get the memo stating that methodological naturalism was a science stopper.

    Now, THAT’s a strawman.

    Quick quiz: any lives ever been screwed up by therapists/psychologists/psychiatrists working dogmatically from meth-nat principles?

    Think courts should accept repressed memories as evidence? How do you feel about lobotomies? Think we should start doing them again?

    And what mainstream Christian religion opposes the use of psychiatric medicine?

  305. KF:

    There are cases of depression that are linked to brain chemistry imbalances, and there are those that are induced by guilt over one’s own misbehaviour. There are those that are induced by having been the victim of physical, verbal or sexual abuse or misinformation.

    And more.

    Indeed, and what then? Having invested much time researching and learning about the disease, I am quite confident in stating that the efficacious therapies were empirically studied and tested under the assumption that humans are a physical actor in a physical world.

    Not to mention, a surprising number of not only physicians but scientists are card-carrying heists, so you are mistaken to infer that the scientists in question are invariably materialists.

    Indeed, and yet there is no groundswell of cries to dispense with methodological naturalism, even by scientists in for-profit corporations who’s only doctrinal dogma is that of Adam Smith. Science marches on.

    Further, where we do see organizations that openly reject MN, but two of which are mentioned above, we do not see the explosion of scientific knowledge that you would have us believe MN is holding back.

    And on the behalf of greats like Newton [oh ghost of Newton, forgive me . . . ], I resent you inference to scientific laziness on the part of design thinkers, especially in a context where what is on the ground is PERSECUTION of such scientists.

    My old college calculus book indicated that Newton was referring to Leibniz, but okay. That said, you will need to share with me your definition of design thinkers. Because, as I pointed out in comment 60, Stephen’s definition of design thinking wasn’t sufficiently differentiated from the thinking of any modern scientiest, theist or atheist.

  306. StephenB @281:

    —Adel Dibagno: “I agree with Aquinas. In his view, God is the one and only primary cause, the Creator of the Universe and everything in it.”
    Thank you for trying, but that doesn’t even come close to working. If God is the definition of “natural cause,” which is the definition I asked for, and if methodological naturalism studies only natural causes, which is its rule, that would mean that Methodological naturalism studies God.

    Sorry if I didn’t make that clear. God, the primary cause of nature, cannot be a natural cause. That would mean that nature caused itself. As I said, natural causes are secondary causes:

    God’s created Universe is what we call nature. As Aquinas said, there is true causal power in nature, but it is secondary to God’s primary causal role in the whole scheme. Human beings are creatures and are therefore part of nature. Volcanoes are creatures and are therefore part of nature. Both have secondary causal power.

    I mentioned God in my answer to you, because I wanted to emphasize that His causal power is of an entirely different category from the causal power of his creatures. Moreover, God’s causative power is incomprehensible, whereas secondary causes are comprehensible. If secondary causes were not comprehensible, we couldn’t have science. If God’s causative power were comprehensible, science could study Him.

  307. vjtorley @288:

    If your view of scientific understanding is a phenomenological one, then does that mean you hold the same view of the theory of evolution? Please note that I’m using the word “evolution” here to mean the hypothesis that all living things diverged from a common ancestral stock as a result of natural processes which are still at work in the world today, especially – but not exclusively – through natural selection.
    Is the theory of evolution, for you, merely a useful hypothesis which explains the appearances (i.e. the variety we find in the natural world), without being true in an absolute sense? I’d be interested to hear your answer to this question.

    Yes, I take all scientific explanations to be hypothetical and useful insofar as they explain the world we experience. Absolute empirical truth is something I can’t even imagine. But I’m confident (meaning I think that there is a very high probability) that tomorrow will bring another sunrise.

    I therefore take it that you would argue that God is nota natural cause, but a supernatural one, and that methodological naturalism doesn’t study God. This would fit in with your earlier comment in #32</blockquote
    Yes, yes! See my reply above to StephenB (who does not seem to understand me as well as you do.)

    I would however strongly disagree with the view that there is something procedurally illicit about using known scientific facts to reason one’s way to God’s existence – and so would St. Thomas.

    I don’t believe that I expressed such a view, and I don’t hold it. Reason away. But don’t call it science, which is the study of God’s creation. Theology is the proper study of God.

  308. Haste makes waste. Here, reformatted, is the middle section of my previous post to vjtorley:

    I therefore take it that you would argue that God is nota natural cause, but a supernatural one, and that methodological naturalism doesn’t study God. This would fit in with your earlier comment in #32

    Yes, yes! See my reply above to StephenB (who does not seem to understand me as well as you do.)

  309. Vjtorley @289,

    Please see again my latest reply to StephenB. If God’s causal power is incomprehensible, how would taking it into account add to our understanding of His creation?

  310. StephenB, @ 286

    “says that intelligence can be material or non-material, which it can. So, it couldn’t possibly conflict with anything either way”

    Really? Please StephenB, don’t hold back now, show us all wrong and demonstrate how intelligence comes from non material! Show us a single non material being, non material animal, what have you, which has intelligence.

    “Mind is a more specific kind of intelligence, being both non-natural and immaterial”

    Don’t stop there StephenB, you have to go further and explain your earlier stance that some non material ‘spirit’ thing for which you haven’t defined or explained you assert works along with the non material mind in which neither are an extension of the physical brain.

  311. Kairosfocus:

    Is zero [0] a process or an entity? 1? 2? 3? . . .

    zero is a concept in the minds of men, therefore it is a process of the brain. Are you suggesting ‘zero’ would exist if there were no people to contemplate it?

    Same for the other numbers.

    Is the proposition: “Socrates is a Man” an entity or a process?

    Again, this is a statement, a thought, therefore a process in your brain (and now one in mine, too)

    If the former, what is its mass, size and location?

    If the latter, what is undergoing the process, and what is the process specifically? On what evidence?

    Your and my brains, and the readers of this, are undergoing this process, and the process is the brain activity we normally call ‘thinking’. Evidence for thinking can be seen all around you, if you take the trouble to look. The grounds for claiming that a mind is what a brain does have been amply presented already here by several others, I don’t need to go over that again.

    Same for all your other questions – they are thoughts, processes of our brains. Are you suggesting all of these statements have some kind of independent existence outside our brains? I would find that incomprehensibly bizarre. Where, pray, would such statements exist? In what form, shape or kind?

    Given that we have at least arguable reason to consider the possibility that he observed cosmos is the product of an extra-cosmic intelligence [as already discussed in this thread and elsewhere] is it fair to say that: Without brain molecules there won’t be any minds, nor intelligence. That is in fact the conclusion where all our available evidence actually leads to?

    And more

    But all of this is largely besides the main focus of this thread: it is plain that the imposition of methodological naturalism is only of ideological use, not genuine scientific use.

    A lot of things are possible. It is possible we conceive (brain process) of many things that have no actual existence outside the process of thinking them. Dreams spring to mind (pun intended), a nice example of concepts and thoughts that are quite clearly merely brain processes yet can sometimes deceive us in thinking there is some reality there. Or do you think our dreams too have an independent existence somewhere, somehow, outside our brains?

    Now, science is the business of weeding through all the ‘possibles’ and casting aside those possibilities that can be shown to be at odds with empirical reality. As it so happens, there appear to be limits to this business: some possibilities can neither be proven nor disproven against what we humans can experience of reality. ‘Extra-cosmic intelligence’ is one such. Present it to science, science will shrug, and move on to consider other possibilities that it can actually do something with, given its tools and techniques. This behaviour of science is not imposed on it – it simply has no choice in the matter.

    fG

  312. Vjtorely, @ 290

    “the Thomistic hylomorphic account, the soul is not an immaterial thing that pushes the body round”

    I want to first thank you for being thorough in your response & in addressing the question head on regarding the mind, immaterial or not, & its physical connection & what you make of it. I don’t think at this moment it’s reasonable that any of us have any sort of absolute knowledge in this arena & was hoping that with some genuine dialog regarding known empirical studies & correlation between chemical reactions in the brain & thoughts that this could be flushed out.

    This quality is preferable to those who act like Bill Clinton in questioning more self evident definitions & terms in order to avoid trying to answer the critical questions. Further when asked to substantiate their claims of how an non material bound mind works, it becomes a series of shell games in which they assert as if were fact that some *other* non-material spirit helps to direct both the non material bound mind/consciousness. This isn’t science based on any empirical level of facts or knowledge; this is magical hand waving that the Wizard of Oz would be proud of.

    Ah, yes, well perhaps someone here who contends that the mind & intelligence isn’t bound to physical matter & is thus immaterial will take this opportunity to show you otherwise.

    “The agent’s selection may indeed reflect his/her character, values and desires – but then again, it may not. We can and do act out of character, and we sometimes act irrationally. Our free will is not bound to act according to reason, and sometimes we act contrary to it (akrasia, or weakness of will, being a case in point”

    I hope this statement helps Clive in how the aught from is dilemma.

  313. fG @ 295,

    “it is unwarranted to claim that such processes exist without something physical that actually does the processing”

    Anyone objecting to this needs to explain how such a non physically bound intelligence/mind can even operate, let alone operate according to the ways they insist it does. And no shell games, let’s stick with what empirical evidence & reason (science) can conclude.

  314. Are you suggesting ‘zero’ would exist if there were no people to contemplate it?

    God would still exist to contemplate it, you agree?

  315. agentorange,

    I hope this statement helps Clive in how the aught from is dilemma.

    Yo mean “ought”? This page might help you:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic_fallacy

  316. efen ts,

    A question which has not been answered yet. Can you prove that human intelligence can operate independently of the body it is associated with.

    I need not prove any such thing, it is enough to prove that the intelligence that uses the body is not subjected to the body in its intelligence.

  317. Materialism is the “common wisdom” of the intelligentsia. To smugly and complacently deny that a large number of phenomena established as real by many researchers exist. It could not possibly exist, so all the data is invalid regardless of quality. This conveniently relieves the materialist from any need to actually look at the data.

    This thinking assumes that the physical brain neuronal data processing literally produces or itself constitutes subjective states (consciousness including qualia), and ignores Chalmers’ “hard problem” of understanding consciousness.
    If brain processing is consciousness, materialist neuroscience is right, there is no spiritual or immaterial basis to consciousness, and psi is impossible. However, examples of such phenomena having a mountain of evidence that they undoubtedly do exist are telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis and precognition. Other examples include many veridical NDEs, mediumistic communication with the dead (or at least where this is the best explanation, followed by “super psi”), at death appearances (ADAs), and evidence best explainable through reincarnation. Look at the data before scoffing at psi and the more extreme phenomena. The physical brain is certainly computer-like in many ways, subject to innumerable faults and damages, and intimately involved with the expression of consciousness and personality through thought, memory and emotion. But experimental evidence and many veridical experiences point clearly to it being ultimately controlled by an entity that is partly outside the body or interpenetrates the body.

    These areas constitute an entire dimension of data including innumerable human experiences that is conveniently dismissed in the common materialist belief system.

  318. Clive @ 316:

    “I need not prove any such thing, it is enough to prove that the intelligence that uses the body is not bound and subjected to the body in its intelligence.”

    I am really not sure what you are trying to say here. Is it your contention that human intelligence is an autonomous entity? When you say that it is “not bound” to the body, it makes it sound like human intelligence can wander about.

    Or is God the intelligence to which you refer?

    Also, I have tried to read through the thread, and I may have missed the part where someone proved your statement to be true. Where was this accomplished?

  319. tribune7:

    God would still exist to contemplate it, you agree?

    Not necessarily – would God still exist if there are no people to contemplate him? How can we know?

    fG

  320. Tribune @ 304,

    “what mainstream Christian religion opposes the use of psychiatric medicine?”

    Jevoha’s Witness would be one… Christian Scientists would be another…Mormons to some degree would be yet another…

    Well, with such a qualifier of ‘mainstream’, one is left to likely think only major branches of Christendom, Orthodox, Catholicism, & Protestantism, are what you consider ‘mainstream’. Fill me in on what you think mainstream means & doesn’t mean in this context.
    I don’t think this is too much to ask as even the later larger groups; Protestantism & Orthodox were once not mainstream at all but rather splinter cults. Where does the arbitrary line of a cult become mainstream, that needs to be define first, as there are plenty of smaller sect Christian & other religious groups which not only deplore science & its mechanistic methods of analysis, but further don’t allow its members to use fruits of such a method.

  321. Clive at 316:

    I need not prove any such thing, it is enough to prove that the intelligence that uses the body is not bound and subjected to the body in its intelligence.

    I have to agree with Muramasa here. I am not having much luck teasing out what you are trying to say. To say that intelligence is not bound by, or subjected to, the body looks to be saying that intelligence can act independent of the body. Which is the request of mine you are taking exception to.

  322. How can we know?

    You can know :-)

  323. Clive @ 315,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic_fallacy

    I don’t gather your point Clive. Not once have I attested anything to do with this dilemma of getting an ought from an is.

    Rather my contention, like others here, plainly put is that the identify of oneself, consciousness, mind, soul, however you want to label it, they’re effectively the same thing & ultimately are the aggregate expression of the physical patterned brain on which it depends.

    No physical container in the required pattern, no self identify, no consciousness. This is the very reason why the examples of brain studies I mentioned earlier in which the physical external stimuli do have an impact on our conscious perception, thoughts, & the like, & like how in Terri Shivo’s case her PVS prevented her from even acknowledging others existing let alone herself. You don’t doubt the efficacy of neural inhibitors, or hallucinogenic drugs in which they alter ones perception of their conscious identity & their thoughts, do you? Why do you suppose they’re called antidepressant drugs?

    Because of all this empirical evidence & all its consistency in linking physical sections of the brain to very specific aspects we associate with consciousness, thoughts, how we can visually see the sections light up like Christmas tree as one if having certain modes of thought, one is left to think that if anything, any mode of thought, sub consciousness or not, is foundationally based in the physical medium form which it originated.

    For all practical purposes all the evidence indicates that the ability to conceive oneself (mind) is explicitly physically linked, & not just to matter, but more critically to that such a specific pattern of brain material that allows for the neural connections.

    In short, if you’re of the opinion that all such evidence is bogus, you have all your work ahead of you as not only do you explain them from a non physical brain connection, but further must provide positive supportive evidence for your claims that the physical brain isn’t foundational to consciousness, thoughts, self identify, loosely here called ‘mind’.

    This is why in comment # 3 I asked for modest description of how a non physically bound mind works, & how the person making this claim knows it works in the manner they claim.
    So far the one attempt involved statements not of science, nor of any empirical evidence at all but rather an appeal to another untestable non material spirit, basically amounting to a shell game. (see my comment #244) Such a shell game is not science, it shouldn’t be any more convincing to the one proposing it either as equally in absence of evidence another could assert another non testable non material shell to replace the other.

  324. FG:

    I will just start up with the following observation from Aristotle, in Metaphysics 1011b:

    (Metaphysics 1011b25): “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true

    In short, reality is antecedent to perception, beliefs and coding/processing states whether in neural networks in brains or in PC ALU’s and registers etc. (here are such things as inaccurate or incorrect programs, just to start . ..)

    And numbers, propositions and such like are [potentially] expressions of realities: five 25c coins put in a drawer, followed by removal of two ten of three leaves ZERO coins in said drawer, whether or not you are there to perceive or calculate it.

    When our mental state is truthful, it accurately reflects reality. But, as a rule reality — as opposed to perceptions and beliefs etc — does not depend on nor is it created by our particular mental state.

    One of those realities just happens to be zero.

    And that is just a “pre- beginning . . .”

    More anon, DV.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: ET, you have simply distracted attention from not only the original points at stake [it is plain that you have no constructive understanding of nature to offer, and that the evo mat through the back door, meth nat censoring imposition on the praxis of science has no proper warrant], but even from the corrective point that evo mat is in serious reductio ad absurdum trouble as a worldview [regardless of how many scientists may think it is a sound basis for doing science while they do not understand that there are other legitimate aspects of empirically based investigations that go beyond the mechanical necessity and stochastic aspects of our common world . . . ] or even that a depressive state is a whole person system state, in a context where the elements of the mind-body system interact, and where the individual relates and interacts with others. Again, some depressions — and I know pretty directly whereof I speak — are primarily chemically induced, others through negative thought patterns will allow recovery once chemical interventions reduce bodily symptoms secondary to the mental anguish [thinking yourself into sickness], and others are relieved through prayer and counselling, others by forgiveness, others yet require counsellor-guided working through damaged relationships and mutual forgiveness, others will require resolving one’s overall spiritual state and relationship with God, and more. Competent pastoral care [cf a quick guide here, a summary note here and a more extensive discussion here] will consider all these options and more. (One bit of advice: major depression is not a self-cure operation, and is at risk of suicide due to the debilitating impact of emotional pain. If one has death ideation or “wish I were not born” ideation or begins to “hear” destructive voices/suggestions, or the like, it is time to get help; competent help.)

  325. PPS: Take warning that sometimes death ideation is so strong that it can become obsessive and compulsive, sweeping up the whole focus of one’s thought patterns with an almost overwhelming urge to end the pain through death. But, our feelings and perceptions are lying — self-induced death is not the only way out!

    PPPS: The longer discussion (in full form here) has a very good examination of he Johnnie- one- noter, one- side- of- a- multi-sided- story- of- a- systemic disease perceptions on causes and cures of depression, both “spiritual” and physiological. (And ET, pardon: you seem to have been taken in by the latter ons sided school of thought. The just linked is a useful balancing corrective.)

  326. KF:

    nd ET, pardon: you seem to have been taken in by the latter ons sided school of thought. The just linked is a useful balancing corrective.

    Actually, there is nothing in that article that I was unfamiliar with and very little that I take exception to. I see no need to argue over what I think was wrong in that article and I really have no interest in a discussion of theodicy. I will merely thank you for your generally good advice to people who might be suffering from depression or know someone who is.

    That said, since you have engaged in ad hominem against me, I will close by pointing out two things. First, the challenge to support the assertion of intelligence operating independent of form remains unmet.

    Second, you have neither addressed why organizations with no apparent stake in the methodological naturalism debate (like for-profit corporations) see no need to abandon it, nor why organizations which doctrinally reject MN are not more productive (indeed, they are less so) then there so constrained counterparts.

  327. 327

    agentorange,

    I don’t gather your point Clive. Not once have I attested anything to do with this dilemma of getting an ought from an is.

    This is exactly what you’re doing in attempting to explain thoughts by virtue of movements of atoms. “Oughts” are what make up our thoughts.

  328. Clive @327,

    “This is exactly what you’re doing in attempting to explain thoughts by virtue of movements of atoms.”

    C’mon Clive, that is just disingenuous. Just as I am not attempting to explain or describe the other higher level aggregated natural phenomena of a tornado storm at the smallest scale of the atom. Neither can be examined in such a way. You won’t find a storm in any single atom within a storm system nor will you find consciousness in any single atom within a brain.

    For once & for all, will anyone in this thread definitively explain how a non physically bound mind works & empirically how they know it works as they say it does?

  329. agentorange and acipenser …

    CJYman, @273
    “no critic has provided a useful definition of “natural” that can be used in the term “methodological naturalism” in such a way as to remove ID Theory from being considered as science”

    agentorange:
    “They did in Dover, & eferen ts & I mentioned (I just earlier In 272 did!) how what is considered as natural is in part not just what is measureable & testable, but also that which acts & works within the confines of known natural laws.”

    So then everything that works and operates under natural (measureble and testable — according to your definition) laws which are yet to be discovered, is not science? Science thus comes to a stop as discovery of the unknown is not allowed. Try again. Your definition is quite obviously a science stopper.

    agentorange:
    “This is precisely why to explain the flagella Behe says that natural laws + chance are insufficient to explain it, but rather a transcendent super being which can act above & beyond the know natural laws is required.”

    No … only a previous intelligence is required. Intelligence acts above law+chance continuously as is shown right here in our discussion. What’s the problem?

    BTW: “above” = in a manner not able to be copied by …

    CJYman:
    “except that intelligence is founded on patterns not defined by physics and chemistry.”

    agentorange:
    “C’mon pal, come back off the deep end, the physical brain clearly works within the bounds of chemistry and physics.”

    When did I ever state that the physical brain doesn’t work (operate) within the bounds of chemistry and physics?

    I said “Intelligence is founded on patterns not *defined* by physics and chemistry.” [asterix added for clarification]

    Strings of DNA, computer code, etc, are not defined by law+chance in the same why that law+chance do not define, and thus do not explain, our comments here on this thread. The organization of the letters is not due to a mathematical description of regularity caused by the physical properties of the letters themselves, nor is chance a good explanation since chance is a “lack of correlation” and the organization of the letters correlates with meaning/the English language.

    CJYman:
    “What does this have to do with violating law of physics and chemistry?”

    agentorange:
    “One could reason as others & I did, that the OP ed is of the opinon that the physical medium of the brain, or something physically comparable like a super CPU isn’t required for the mind, nor intelligence. Still waiting on that one…”

    OK, wait away, but I still want an answer as to why someone stated that my comments referred to “violating the laws of physics and chemistry?”

    agentorange:
    “Well, for one it’s to assume that 1) such violations of such laws are possible despite zero evidence of it.”

    What violations?

    agentorange:
    ” 2)That such violations occurs via a super being which isn’t material, nor testable or measurable by science itself at any level.”

    1. What violations?

    2. Consciousness isn’t material. In fact, are e and b fields material? Well, then again, how are you defining “material?”

    3. ID Theory states that the effects of intelligence are measurable — just as the effects of previous evolution, the big bang, or e and b fields are measurable — so I’m not sure what you are addressing here.

    agentorange:
    “This would be how Behe explained the formation of the flagella in that no known natural law(s) nor w/ chance could provide a reasonable conclusion that it’s possible, thus a transcendent being is introduced.”

    1. I’m not Behe.

    2. Nope. No known combination of law+chance can explain the falgellum. In fact, law+chance don’t even define the flagellum. The type of pattern in which category the falgellum is contained is so far known to require intelligence in its contruction and intelligence has been observed constructing such patterns. So, if law+chance don’t even defined that type of pattern, and intelligence is observed creating that type of pattern, where is one option (so far the best option) we should be looking as we begin our investigation?

    agentorange;
    “In this sense, it’s an assertion that non material beings are involved in the world & that science has to incorporate untestable notions of this sort.”

    The whole “non-material” thing is not a requirement of ID Theory. StephenB and myself have already stated and explained this. However, I’ve also provided evidence that, depending on how one defines “material,” there could very well exist “immaterial” things — things which contain a quality that matter does not contain and which are fundamental alongside matter and energy. I’m thinking consciousness ala Penrose and Hameroff. More below in my respose to Acipenser.

    Acipenser:
    “Wuick point before I have to dash out….Conciousness can, and is, objectively measured everyday across this country and the world. The Glasgow coma scale is a reliable measure, and assessment of conciousness. To say that conciousness is subjective is incorrect.”

    Excellent, then since it can be measured, Conscious Intelligence is natural (according to the defintion you’ve provided) and thus ID Theory is not disqualified from science on the basis that it does not satisfy the rules of MN. In fact, CSI is another way of measuring conscious intelligence.

    However, intelligence is still “supernatural” in the sense that law+chance are subservient to it as I’ve already explained over and over again. That is how StephenB has defined “natural” vs. “supernatural.”

    Furthermore, there is still something that consciousness possess that matter does not — subjectivity. I didn’t check out your link, but I already believe that the strength of a conscious moment can be measured (E=h/t — as per Penrose and Hameroff) and I also believe that its effects can be measured (CSI). Just because the effects of consciousness can be measured, does not mean that consciousness isn’t a subjective experience. Heck, probabilities can be measured, but does that mean that there is such thing as an objective material “probability” floating around somewhere?

    Moreover, I am not sure how you can say that consciousness is not subjective, when it is the epitome of subjective experience. We are still at the point were we must recognize that there is a fundamental difference between matter and conscious intelligence. That difference can still be summed up as conscious/subjective/immaterial vs. matter/energy/objective/material. Again, if Penrose and Hameroff’s theory turns out to be correct, then consciousness is on a level alongside matter and energy, fundamental to the structure of our universe, rather than “emerging” (I love that magic word) from matter and energy. This is consistent with what I have stated above.

    And, yes consciousness is real and it exists. If it did not, then our awareness of that which is merely objective would not exist, and thus science would not exist. We look *through* consciousness/subjectivity at that which is merely objective/material.

  330. vjtorley @ 175
    My apologies for the late reply but there were some coments I wanted to make in response to yours.

    Regarding methodological naturalism, you write:
    Methodological naturalism is a lot more than some vague “preference” for natural causes. It follows from the assumption that there is an objective Universe out there which is ordered, contingent, consistent and comprehensible. If it were not so, not just science but any form of reliable knowledge about anything would be impossible.

    I would reply: science cannot explain what science presupposes. Science simply assumes that the universe is comprehensible, but as Einstein (who belonged to no religion)famously remarked: “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.” (”Physics and Reality” in Journal of the Franklin Institute (March 1936) as quoted in Einstein: A Biography (1954) by Antonina Vallentin, p. 24.)

    It is true that science has nothing other than speculation to offer for the origins of the Universe but then neither does anyone else. Christianity has the creation story in Genesis but the number of other creation myths around the world must run into the hundreds. Why should we regard the Biblical account as anything more than just one amongst many?

    Besides, the inability of science to explain how the Universe began has no more bearing on theories of how it has worked since the Creation than does biology’s lack of a theory of abiogenesis affect the robustness of the theory of evolution.

    Why are there any laws of nature at all? The only rational answer is that the world is not just a collection of facts, as Wittgenstein envisaged in his “Tractatus”; if we believe in causal powers, then there are normative states of affairs too. (”Ought” is just as much a part of the world as “is.”) When an apple falls to the ground, that is what it is supposed to do. Were this not so, it would be unreasonable to expect the next apple to fall. In other words, we live in a world where things behave as they should behave. Laws of nature are not mere regularities; they are prescriptive, as well as descriptive. But in the end, the notion of things in nature behaving as they should, or conforming to norms, even though they lack minds, can only be made sense of by positing a Transcendent Intelligence that makes them do so (i.e. God). Thus from the mere existence of causal powers (which make the laws of nature normative and not just descriptive statements), we can reason our way to God

    Here I think you are in danger of conflating, perhaps unwittingly, two different meanings of words such as “ought” and “prescriptive”.

    In the case of the apple falling from a branch you can certainly say that, if there is a phenomenon called gravity then, if no other influence intervenes, when the stalk breaks the apple ought to fall to the ground. You can even say, although it is stretching the meaning of the word, that the theory of gravity prescribes what the apple should do in those circumstances. Those are different meanings, though, from a pastor telling his congregation the religious beliefs they ought to hold as good Christians or the moral codes the Bible prescribes for all Christians to follow.

    Scientific explanations are essentially descriptive and predictive. The describe what is observed and make predictions about the behavior of what we observe. Newton’s theory of gravity describes an attractive force operating between any objects having mass and in concert with other laws or theories of motion can predict how planets will orbit a parent star. We say the theory tells us how the planets ought to move but the moral imperative that is also denoted by “ought” is not usually intended in this usage. Equivocation is a significant risk in these cases and we all have a duty to be as clear as possible in our usages to guard against it.

    But if methodological naturalism is true, then your postulate that the cosmos is intelligible is just that: a postulate. It may be proven wrong tomorrow, and in the mean time, you are just whistling in the dark.

    Exactly so. That is the risk we run. As a species we found ourselves, how we do not yet know, developing an awareness of the strange and mysterious Universe in which we live with nothing but our wits to help us understand it. We made up stories of how it might work because the better we understood it the better our chances of survival would be. Many if not most of those stories were wrong. How did we know? We compared them with each other and with what they were trying to explain and tested them in any way we could think of. In other words, we did science. Sure, it may all be wrong but we have found some stuff that seems to work pretty well so we may as well keep on using it until something better comes along.

    You then mention the nineteenth-century scientist James Clerk Maxwell:

    All of today’s commonplace technology, such as TV, radio, radar, that exploits electromagnetic phenomena exists in part because a 19th century Scottish nerd was curious about the nature and relationship of electricity and magnetism and eventually constructed a theory to explain it.

    While noting that he was privately religious, you contend that he did not let his religion affect his science.

    Well, I beg to differ. I’ve just been having a look at a biography of Maxwell, entitled The Life of James Clerk Maxwell by Lewis Campbell and William Garnett. Here’s an excerpt from p. 176 (emphases mine – VJT):

    Thank you for the excerpt from the biography – I may have to read that – and for the link to the essay. What they illustrate for me is that Maxwell was a deeply religious man who drew enormous strength and comfort from his faith in times of great personal trial, a faith which also supplied him with answers to the great questions of origins. But, as far as I know, there are no terms in his equations for “God’s influence” or “Here there be miracles”. He constructed a purely naturalistic account of the phenoma he was studying and I would argue the same is true of other great scientists or natural philosophers who also held strong religious beliefs.

  331. Adel DiBagno (#306, 307, 309)

    Thank you for your posts, in which you raised two interesting issues: the problem of induction and the question of whether God is comprehensible to the human mind.

    Regarding the problem of induction, you write (#307):

    Absolute empirical truth is something I can’t even imagine. But I’m confident (meaning I think that there is a very high probability) that tomorrow will bring another sunrise.

    I share your confidence. The only point I want to make here (and I think you would agree with me here) is that our confidence would be misplaced if we lived in a godless universe. For then we would have no reason to believe that things had a stable character, which makes them behave in a reliable fashion.

    To illustrate this point, think of the “grue” problem. Or imagine a world occupied by things but by “shmings” – objects that behaved like things, except that they “flip” to an alternative mode of behavior every 13.74 billion years. (The universe is believed to be 13.73 billion years old.) For instance, snow suddenly turns black, stars and planets suddenly change into gold and silver spheres, and so on. There is an infinite number of ways in which the universe could have a history identical with ours, and then change completely tomorrow – or the day after, or the day after that. Stars, such as the sun, might suddenly explode, dissolve into the void, turn into black ink, spin around in the sky, and so on. And these changes wouldn’t have to be lawless either – we can all imagine a set of universal regularities identical to the laws of nature, except that they only hold for a certain length of time and are then suddenly replaced by a new set of regularities.

    In short: the laws of nature could break down in an infinite number of possible ways, at any one of an infinite number of future times (tomorrow, the next day, and so on). Yet the “default expectation” under which we all live our lives is that laws of the universe never change – or that if they do, they change only within the framework of some higher-level set of laws which doesn’t change. But this belief of ours is merely a superstition, if we live in a godless world: the real reason why people believe it is that they’d go out of their minds if they didn’t. Talk about wishful thinking!

    In a world made by a personal, essentially loving Being who was incapable of lying, on the other hand, tomorrow’s sunrise would be a pretty good bet.

    You also wrote (#306):

    Moreover, God’s causative power is incomprehensible, whereas secondary causes are comprehensible. If secondary causes were not comprehensible, we couldn’t have science. If God’s causative power were comprehensible, science could study Him.

    I don’t think God is altogether incomprehensible. I think God must be to some degree comprehensible to the human mind. Like Duns Scotus, I believe that the verbs “know” and “love” (which denote pure perfections that of themselves admit of no inherent limitation) have exactly the same meaning when applied to God as they do when applied to us – the only differences being that the way in which God knows and loves is altogether different from ours, and well as the extent to which God does so (as He is infinite and we are finite). In other words, God differs from us in His mode and degree of knowledge and love, but the words “know” and “love” have the same meaning for God as they do for us.

    Why is this important? Well, back in the eighties I was reading Professor Paul Davies’ book, God and the New Physics, and there I came across a passage in which he wrote that while it may be tempting to ascribe the laws of Nature to God, that wouldn’t explain anything. Davies wanted to know why we lived in this kind of world, with these laws. If such an explanation were not forthcoming, God would be an unhelpful hypothesis for physicists – what we might call a science-stopper today.

    When I read that passage by Davies, I thought to myself: “He’s right.” I realized that if religious believers want to be taken seriously by scientists rather than laughed off as relics of the past, they would have to come up with a very specific model of God’s action in the world, allowing scientists to predict future discoveries. That’s a risky course of action, of course: predictions can often be wrong. Yet it has to be done. It’s better to be wrong than to be irrelevant. Somehow, we have to second-guess God’s motives in making the cosmos, and imagine how we would make it if we were in God’s shoes – all the while keeping in mind that we are merely thinking God’s thoughts after Him, as Newton put it.

    For instance, one of the reasons why I’m interested in Garrett Lisi’s “Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything” (see here for a discussion) is a famous remark he made in an interview, that his model is based on the most mathematically beautiful geometrical structure: E8. That impressed me. I thought to myself: that would be the geometry I’d expect God to use, if He were making the cosmos. So I’m very interested to see if Lisi’s predictions are borne out or not.

    Can there be a science of God? There cannot be a science of Infinite Being as such, but there can be a science of intelligence and a science of love. In both these sciences, the ability to put oneself in the other person’s shoes is of vital importance. (Just ask any spy – or for that matter, any great humanitarian.) If intelligence and love are what explains the cosmos, then there can be a branch of science that deals with how God made the cosmos.

    You also write:

    …[S]cience … is the study of God’s creation. Theology is the proper study of God.

    Theology is the study of God as such. But I believe science can attempt to discover what God had in mind when creating the world.

    Got to rush now. Hope that helps.

  332. FG:

    Since it is so revealing on an underlying major error in our day, let us follow up further, from your 311, starting with: zero is a concept in the minds of men, therefore it is a process of the brain. Are you suggesting ‘zero’ would exist if there were no people to contemplate it?.

    (And BTW StephenB, looks like your opening knock is about the most active thread at UD currently. Well done!)

    At 324,I noted from Aristotle:

    (Metaphysics 1011b25): “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true . . .”

    1 –> In short, we need to discern the crucial difference between real states of affairs in the world, and our perceptions or statements about them.

    2 –> For, notoriously and undeniably (on pain of immediate reduction to absurdity), we sometimes err [and in certain cases do worse than merely erring: lie or willfully obfuscate].

    3 –> it is worth expanding slightly on the just linked:

    WCT [Warranted, Credible Truth] 1: Error exists, so we should recognise that truth exists as what is there that we may be in error about; truth saying of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not.

    –> From this, we may immediately see that we can know that truth exists, so knowledge — warranted, credible truth — exists.

    –> Thus also, we may make mistakes about it so we need and OUGHT to be open to well-warranted correction.

    4 –> Thus, immediately, perception or presence of particular states in processors, whether hard-wired PC’s or biological wetware, will not do. For error conditions are undeniably possible in both cases.

    5 –> Thus, the reality of zero-ness would exist whether or not any particular men or even all men collectively, perceived or conceived it in their minds.

    6 –> By direct parallel, let us conceive of a time prior to the days of Aristotle, Eratosthenes and co, c 300 – 400 BC, where all men conceived the earth as flat. Did that mean that in reality the earth was then flat, and has now inflated itself into roundness once Aristotle saw that the shadow it casts on the moon in a lunar eclipse was always round so it MUST be more or less a ball? And did it acquire its particular diameter and circumference when Eratosthenes hit on the idea of measuring the angles of shadows at Alexandria and Syene [now Aswan]?

    7 –> Such is manifestly immediately absurd. Thus, plainly, reality is antecedent to our discovery or conception of it. And in the sense of truth where it is synonymous to reality, truth is antecedent to our statement of it.

    8 –> Thus, we see a vast realm of propositions: the primary bearers of truth-value . . . the meanings of [states of affairs-declarative] sentences, which are real in the sense of being true/false independent of our particular conceptions. As the just linked helpfully defines:

    Propositions, we shall say, are the sharable objects of the attitudes [believing, doubting etc] and the primary bearers of truth and falsity. This stipulation rules out certain candidates for propositions, including thought- and utterance-tokens, which presumably are not sharable, and concrete events or facts [in the sense of realities], which presumably cannot be false.

    8 –> So also, while zero-ness, one-ness, two-ness etc are instantiated or exemplified in particular sets that match the cardinality of the sequence of sets {},{*}, (*, *), {*, *, *} . . . — which we may symbolise with the numerals 0, 1, 2, . . . [or I, II, III . . . , etc, etc] and then invent counting as a shorthand algorithm to target the set with the relevant cardinality — the reality of natural numbers and zero is independent of our particular concepts and beliefs.

    9 –> Indeed, we may then discover and even demonstrate additional realities, such as the transfinite number of the set of such sets, Aleph-null, by putting the even subset in one to one correspondence with the original set, etc. But the reality/ truth of such properties was there prior to our discovery and conceptualizations.

    10 –> In short, we have here specified two transfinite realms of realities that are independent of, prior to and even corrective of our concepts and beliefs. Realms that are simply not dependent on material instantiation for their reality (though such instantiations help us form the concepts — don’t forget, I am a Richard Skempian, moderate constructivist!).

    11 –> The cases also show us the divergence between the material operations with say toothpaste tube tops [one of my mom's favourite realia for teaching basic mathematics . . . yup; I inherited chalkdust in the blood, from both sides] and the abstract concepts, properties and operations that we are thus invited to discover by generalisation into the abstract, logical realm.

    12 –> For instance [notice the invitation to "see" the abstraction], we recognise from the ellipsis above that we have identified a process that can be extended indefinitely to successively specify members of the set of naturals; eventually discovering that the set is transfinite. [And the relationship between aleph null and c the continuum transfinite is an example of a reality that is though as yet its specific nature is not identified; indeed, this may be a case of undecidable propositions relative to Gödel's incompleteness principles: there are always true mathematical propositions that are unreachable by any consistent set of axioms.]

    13 –> So, now we face a whole realm of realities/truths that are immaterial, and that we know we are unable to fully fathom. Truth is plainly independent of our ability to conceive [worse, demonstrate] true claims.

    14 –> Digging in deeper, truth is mental rather than material, in its characteristics: we understand it, believe (or disbelieve) it; which has precisely nothing to do with being caused by how our brains and CNS’s may represent or code relevant information in action potentials and neural network interconnexions. (The reality of the music on a CD has nothing to do with the precise coding structures and algorithms used.)

    15 –> Moreover, to accurately process such signals, our brains had to be wired correctly, per a very precise basic wiring diagram coded into the self-replicating, self-modifying and developmental system that develops a baby from a zygote. (By contrast, e.g. LSD reportedly in part acts by re-wiring the brain so you may hear colours and see sounds . . . youch. No wonder such drugs are called “hallucinogenic.”)

    16 –> Such an information-rich wiring diagram [tracing to DNA and the epigenetic structures of the cell that regulate how DNA information is used] is antecedent to the brain and to proper function in its environment. Indeed, it greatly exceeds the 1,000 bit/ yes-no decision chain threshold beyond which with great confidence we may conclude that intelligence is the source of functional complex organisation.

    17 –> Further, as a self-replicating system, we see here that we are dealing with the Von Neumann architecture/ requisites [1949] for such entities:

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

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

    (iii) a tape reader [[called “the constructor” by von Neumann] that reads and interprets the coded specifications and instructions, and

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

    (v) either: (1) a pre-existing reservoir of required parts and energy sources, or (2) associated “metabolic” machines carrying out activities that provide required specific materials and forms of energy by using the generic resources in the surrounding environment.

    18 –> Now, too, parts (ii), (iii) and (iv) are each necessary for and together are jointly sufficient to implement a self-replicating von Neumann universal constructor. That is, we see here an irreducibly complex set of core components that must all be present in a properly organised, mutually matched fashion for a successful self-replicator to exist.

    19 –> This is compounded by the requirement (i) for codes, requiring organised symbols and rules to specify both steps to take and formats for data structures to organise and store information, and (v) for appropriate material resources and energy sources.

    20 –> Thus, multiply, we see on empirically well tested induction, that brains are credibly the product of prior art that uses already codes, blueprints, and complex functional organisation to achieve its purposes.

    21 –> Thus also, brains and associated brain states do not create linguistically expressible realities, but are dependent upon such.

    22 –> In short, the mental, abstract world is ontologically prior to and a causal ground for the human brain. Or, Mind comes before physical processor — as we know from the history of invention of the computer. And, truth is mental rather than material in essence, though it may be instantiated physically, as my mom’s toothpaste tube cap arithmetic operations so vividly demonstrated. [BTW, in comms theory and praxis, AM radio works by physically implementing the multiplication of sinusoids. And that is how I used to introduce radio theory, discussing the parallel between physical and mathematical operators. Electronics is the art and science that seeks to implement desired mathematical operations physically, exploiting the relevant electrical laws and properties of materials and certain carefully organised structures. But, ALU's are not conceiving ideas or thinking, they are simply processing i/p's to yield o/p's per how they are wired together internally and per the pre-loaded linguistically coded instructions that become chains of 1's and 0's that flexibly control successive, step by step [algorithmic] arrangements of circuits and how they process linguistically structured signals. Get your wiring or programming wrong and the PC will happily produce garbage.]

    23 –> This is also directly consistent with the observation that the complex, fine-tuned functional organisation of the physics of the cosmos raises the point that it shows strong signs of being a product of prior art; i.e. design.

    24 –> And so the truly destructive nature of the imposition of methodological naturalism as a censoring constraint on science and education etc begins to be evident:

    a –> It arbitrarily blocks us from seeing truths and connexions between them that are there to be seen

    b –> It arbitrarily blocks fruitful critical integration of ideas from hitherto diverse fields of study. (It is the interfaces between ideas that usually stir up truly creative insights and syntheses. E.g. Newton was thinking about apples falling, moons swinging by in the sky and the mathematics of flow and change: voila, calculus, gravitation, and Mechanics, as well as modern astronomy and modern science more generally.)

    c –> It stirs up prejudices and hostility, bringing in the destructive dynamics and distortions of dirty power and rhetorical games, frustrating science in the unfettered pursuit of the truth of our world based on observation, analysis and collegial discussion.

    d –> It thus becomes the ultimate unrecognised science stopper. (Few tyrannies are as effective and sinister as that of an unexamined metaphysics. Precisely because they are invisible, the chains of mental slavery are the strongest, and subtlest of all. [Please read the parable of Plato's cave.])

    e –> Since science is the perceived paragon and repository of epistemic virtue, reliable ways to find out the truth and resulting objectively well- warranted knowledge, it corrupts education and related policy, thus also the wider community and civilisation.

    25 –> So, echoing Garvey and the song Marley wrote in tribute: “None but ourselves can free our minds.”

    _________

    It is time to break the chains of imposed materialism’s mental slavery!

    GEM of TKI

  333. PS: Pardon a try to load the song:

  334. PPS: Loads to preview but not to the page. Okay, go here.

  335. CJYman at 328:

    agentorange:
    “They did in Dover, & eferen ts & I mentioned (I just earlier In 272 did!) how what is considered as natural is in part not just what is measureable & testable, but also that which acts & works within the confines of known natural laws.”

    So then everything that works and operates under natural (measureble and testable — according to your definition) laws which are yet to be discovered, is not science?

    It becomes science once a measureable and testable hypothesis is generated. I remember watching a documentary on string theory and clearly remember a scientist (though not which one) saying that string theory has not risen to the level of science because a testable hypothesis has not been generated.

    Science thus comes to a stop as discovery of the unknown is not allowed. Try again. Your definition is quite obviously a science stopper.

    Neither Stephen nor KF have stepped up to address this point. Maybe you will. Even if we accept Stephen’s asertion that methodological naturalism wasn’t imposed on science until 1986, we see that the pace of science discovery has only increased in the intervening years. And organizations with no apparent commitment to MN, like for-profit corporations,have not seemed inclined to dispense with it. Further, privately funded science enterprises like the Biologic Institute, or science departments within religious organizations which have a commitment opposed to MNlike Biola and Liberty University’s have not shown any productivity advantage. Indeed, they have hardly shown any productivity at all.

    When did I ever state that the physical brain doesn’t work (operate) within the bounds of chemistry and physics?

    I said “Intelligence is founded on patterns not *defined* by physics and chemistry.”

    Strings of DNA, computer code, etc, are not defined by law+chance in the same why that law+chance do not define, and thus do not explain, our comments here on this thread.

    We know who the designers of these comments are, and they are physical beings, working on physical computers. You, or anyone at all in the ID movement, have yet to demonstrate that DNA was designed. Oh, sure, you assert it all the time, with reference to the incredible amounts of CSI (or FCSI). Yet no one has bothered to actually do any of those calculations. So by saying that DNA conforms to the laws of chemistry and physics, but is not “defined” by it, you are, in the absence of a useful definition of what you mean by defined, again assuming your conclusion.

    Consciousness isn’t material.

    Assuming your conclusion. We have a large body of work in neuroscience which refutes, at least in part, this statement. And no such body of work to support it.

    Nope. No known combination of law+chance can explain the falgellum. In fact, law+chance don’t even define the flagellum.

    Classic gap argument. That science has yet to produce a step-wise description of the evolution of the flagella (although it’s relation to the TTSS is compelling), is hardly sufficient grounds close the book on the effort and shove your designer into the breech. Talk about science-stopping!

    The type of pattern in which category the falgellum is contained is so far known to require intelligence in its contruction and intelligence has been observed constructing such patterns.

    You mean outboard motors? The fact that there is a company called Evinrude is hardly sufficient grounds on which to conclude that some disembodied entity designed the flagella.

    Excellent, then since it can be measured, Conscious Intelligence is natural (according to the defintion you’ve provided) and thus ID Theory is not disqualified from science on the basis that it does not satisfy the rules of MN. In fact, CSI is another way of measuring conscious intelligence.

    Awesome. Now someone has to actually do a CSI calculation. No one else has stepped up to that challenge. Maybe you are the one?

    However, intelligence is still “supernatural” in the sense that law+chance are subservient to it as I’ve already explained over and over again.

    As you have *asserted* over and over again. The fact that humans can produce legislation is hardly proof that physics and chemistry are subservient to intelligence. We only empirically know of human intelligence, which we know cannot violate the laws of phsyics and chemistry by an act of will. So you are left assuming some other form of intelligence which can, but has not been demonstrated to exist.

  336. Now:

    Re ET, 326:

    there is nothing in that article that I was unfamiliar with and very little that I take exception to. I see no need to argue over what I think was wrong in that article and I really have no interest in a discussion of theodicy . . . . since you have engaged in ad hominem against me, I will close by pointing out two things. First, the challenge to support the assertion of intelligence operating independent of form remains unmet.

    Second, you have neither addressed why organizations with no apparent stake in the methodological naturalism debate (like for-profit corporations) see no need to abandon it, nor why organizations which doctrinally reject MN are not more productive (indeed, they are less so) then there so constrained counterparts.

    I of course must first pause to challenge the claim that I have personally attacked ET — as opposed to corrected him, and in that context provided general advice to sufferers from depression (on the reasonable presumption of its prevalence) — as can be seen above. (Onlookers, observe how a loaded charge is given at 326 with no substantiation . . .)

    On key points:

    1 –> We first note: there is nothing in that article that I was unfamiliar with and very little that I take exception to [no details provided] . . .

    2 –> So, we can presume that ET on being presented with details accepts or is unwilling to show why he objects, that:

    there has not been a corresponding level of understanding and clarity in regards to the causes and treatment of depression. Much noise has been generated through endless articles, books and opinions of our neighbors. For those seeking to help themselves or others suffering from depression, the overwhelming amount of material and opinions can be daunting and lead to further frustration. Many of the voices are either wholly incorrect or are one-sided in their approach . . . .

    A useful definition of depression must take into account the complex nature of the illness. Depression is both a distinct disease and a symptom of other illnesses. Regarding the nature of depression, on the one hand, “Scientists, researchers, and mental health practitioners erroneously insist on rigidly viewing depression as either a psychological illness or a biological one.”11 On the other, “many well-meaning [Christian] writers have caused a lot of unnecessary emotional pain by condemning depression as sin.”12 Depression cannot be seen in only spiritual terms, because humans are not only souls, but also have bodies which directly affect one another; and it cannot be seen in purely psychological or biological terms for the same reason . . . .

    A useful definition of depression must take into account the complex nature of the illness. Depression is both a distinct disease and a symptom of other illnesses. Regarding the nature of depression, on the one hand, “Scientists, researchers, and mental health practitioners erroneously insist on rigidly viewing depression as either a psychological illness or a biological one.”11 On the other, “many well-meaning [Christian] writers have caused a lot of unnecessary emotional pain by condemning depression as sin.”12 Depression cannot be seen in only spiritual terms, because humans are not only souls, but also have bodies which directly affect one another; and it cannot be seen in purely psychological or biological terms for the same reason . . . .

    the symptoms of depression are fairly well-defined and identifiable. But identifying the root cause of those symptoms is more difficult. This is due to several problems. First, many biases exist on toward depression at both the popular and clinical levels. Second, because depression is a mental illness, it tends to be much more complex than non-mental illnesses. Third, depression can sometimes be caused by other conditions and at other times should be considered a separate disease. Fourth, at this time there are no consistent testing methods to determine whether or not someone has a chemical imbalance.

    Bias is also a problem in identifying the causes of depression. Depending on whether one is trained in medicine, psychiatry, or Christian counseling, one may have acquired biases that assume certain causes are more likely than others. Those that support a particular theory of the depression causes often support their theories with self-authenticating “case studies.” Many authors present their method as the method that worked when all the others failed.

    3 –> In short, as I noted earlier (324):

    a depressive state is a whole person system state, in a context where the elements of the mind-body system interact, and where the individual relates and interacts with others. Again, some depressions — and I know pretty directly whereof I speak [i.e. I there alluded to my own experience of dealing with depression in myself and others with whom I have had close relationships] — are primarily chemically induced, others [clarifying: induced] through negative thought patterns will allow recovery once chemical interventions reduce bodily symptoms secondary to the mental anguish [thinking yourself into sickness], and others are relieved through prayer and counselling, others by forgiveness, others yet require counsellor-guided working through damaged relationships and mutual forgiveness, others will require resolving one’s overall spiritual state and relationship with God, and more. Competent pastoral care . . . will consider all these options and more.

    4 –> That “and more” includes directly spiritually induced depression and the ministry of scripturally based inner healing through redemptive release of painful memories based on a structured walk-through of the past in light of the healing dimension of redemption in Is 53. [In my own case, this was the point of decisive breakthrough.]

    5 –> The astute onlooker will also see that I am here implying that we must look at the human being as a whole, not as only this or that, or predominantly this or that: we are complex, integrated wholes in which interactions and aspects of our being are all equally important. (The hylomorphic dualists have a point, whether or not they have the full correct view.)

    6 –> As well, you will see that I point to the causal pattern from negative thought patterns in the mind to chemical imbalances etc in the body, which is illustrative of how the mental may affect the physical. [And of course in the case where someone unwisely gives in to the urges, perceptions and painful feelings and unfortunately destroys himself, destruction to body horrendously affects mind and/or soul.]

    7 –> In short, in dealing with depression, we must avoid simplistic one-dimensional analyses and proffered one- size- fits- all “solutions,” whether chemical, or “spiritual,” or cognitive/ conversational (talking your way out of depression) etc.

    8 –> In that context, we may then see that insofar as analyses of the biochemistry of neurotransmission help desing drugs that reduce chemical effects and causes of depression, that is all tot he well. And, since this is a case of operations science checkable against the here and now world of observations, deleterious impacts of materialist worldview impositions will have relatively little impact on this particular point.

    9 –> But so soon as this is absolutised and made into the be all and end all of depressive illness — even being folded and cast into its definition in some cases — then the distorting effect of evolutionary materialism has again entered the picture.

    10 –> In short, we can again see how imposition of materialism is again a science stopper.

    ____________

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

    PS: i wonder where rthe notion of theodicies came in, as I have had no need to raise such. I will say that I advocate first that the Plantinga style free will defense — as opposed to theodicy — cogently addresses the problem of evil by breaking its deductive form [showing that the theistic set is not logically incoherent] and setting up a context for setting a due proportion to the inductive form so that it can be addressed in the context of the balance of worldviews on comparative difficulties. Beyond that, Koukl shows how the existence of evil is a case of an accepted reality that is evidently immaterial, and how this sets up a cogent rebuttal of materialist pretensions, here.]

  337. PPS: I see that ET is trying to imply that the4 presence of scientific inquiry proves that MN is not a science stopper. But, this is yet another strawman, as he issue is that MN distorts especially origins science inquiries, but also other fields such as the study and treatment of depression as just discussed. Science, again, at its best is:

    the unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about or world based on observation, measurement [wherre possible -- not always possible!], analysis and discussion among the informed.

    Imposition of materialism by MN etc, blocks that unfettered pursuit of the truth, so we note that quantity cannot substitute for quality.

  338. PPPS: The ongoing Climategate scandal — how they try to hush up; in the same breath as he has to announce that the “spectacular” finding that would turn Asia into a desert in the next generation was false, we hear assurances on BBC as to how the IPCC report of 2007 is still “solid”; never mind the serious questions attaching to the integrity of not only the infamous hockey stick curves, but the whole trend line data on temperature [cf. this . . . ] and the behaviour of those responsible for it is another illustration of he dangers of ideologically blinkered science dominated by manipulators of the process of research, analysis and publication; this time with a trillion dollar price tag.

  339. P4S; And this is an example of how the unwitting public gets misled by the ideologues who dominate key institutions.

  340. KF:

    On key points:

    1 –> We first note: there is nothing in that article that I was unfamiliar with and very little that I take exception to [no details provided] . . .

    2 –> So, we can presume that ET on being presented with details accepts or is unwilling to show why he objects, that:

    For goodness sakes, man, I said I was un-interested in carrying on that discussion. You are certainly free to assume anything you want about my willingness or ability to respond. I do not share your burning desire to debate every minutia and dominate every point. So, congratulations, you win 5 internets and strike a grand blow against the dogmatic materialists. Now what? Are you going to go to Disneyland?

    Imposition of materialism by MN etc, blocks that unfettered pursuit of the truth, so we note that quantity cannot substitute for quality.

    While that is certainly true, it doesn’t really address my point on several fronts. First, you fail to recognize the distinction between work and productivity. Words have meaning, as you are elsewhere inclined to lecture. Second, you fail to address why for-profit companies continue to hew to methodological naturalism if dispensing with it. Third, you fail to address the almost complete non-existence of any output from organizations predisposed to reject MN.

    As a final note, I would also like to point out that in comment 326 I offered you a compliment which you not only failed to acknowledge, but even purged from the quoted text in your response. Now, I don’t require your approbation on any point whatsoever, so I am hardly upset. But, I do find it curious that you seem incapable of stepping outside the debate and acknowledge even the simple pleasantries. Odd.

  341. 341

    vjtorley@330,
    I had said,

    Absolute empirical truth is something I can’t even imagine. But I’m confident (meaning I think that there is a very high probability) that tomorrow will bring another sunrise.

    You commented,

    I share your confidence. The only point I want to make here (and I think you would agree with me here) is that our confidence would be misplaced if we lived in a godless universe. For then we would have no reason to believe that things had a stable character, which makes them behave in a reliable fashion.

    No, I disagree. My confidence in the revolution of the Earth is not based on a belief in a deity. It is based on experience, personal and communal. Ditto for all empirical hypotheses. People of all religious persuasions, including polytheists, pantheists, and atheists experience regularities in nature. Otherwise they would not know when to wake up in the morning and could not plant crops or plan many other critical elements of their life’s activities.
    You concluded,

    You also write:

    …[S]cience … is the study of God’s creation. Theology is the proper study of God.

    Theology is the study of God as such. But I believe science can attempt to discover what God had in mind when creating the world.

    If what you discover is useful to science, it will be adopted. However, there is at present nothing that Natural Theology can bring to the table that is comparable to scripture and tradition for learning about what God had in mind. And I bet you agree with that.

  342. the fact that ID scientists have defined their definition of natural causes and MN advocates have not?

    Please forgive my ignorance but I’d like to read the ID scientists definition of the definition of natural causes.

  343. agentorange,

    You won’t find a storm in any single atom within a storm system nor will you find consciousness in any single atom within a brain.

    Notice that I’ve said all along “movements of atoms” which is not a single atom, nor is it relevant to your continued misapplied analogy of a single atom in a tornado. A tornado is a movement of atoms in your reductionist view, exactly like consciousness is in your view. “Movements” of atoms, say it with me “movements” of atoms….emphasis on “movements” of more than one atom. Neither can explain complexity or information, a tornado cannot build a house, nor movement in a muscle cannot build a thought out of itself. It is enough to show that our minds are not reducible to material movements, we need not show that a mind can exist outside of the brain in order for the former to be true. So, the reason no one has bothered to answer your question is because the answer is obvious, just as music needs a medium in an instrument, communication needs a medium in a piece of paper, thoughts need a medium in our brain, but to say that the medium is the thought, is like saying that the piece of paper is the communication, the stereo is the music, which is obviously false, but which a committed materialist cannot allow into their immaterial philosophy of materialism.

  344. KF,

    Sorry, but I am not really going to plow through your excessively long posts. Just skimming over them, I find it mildly amusing that you are telling me that reality exists independently from our minds – of course it does, isn’t that actually one of the points that ‘our side’ is trying to make? Minds don’t make reality, reality makes minds!

    The business about ‘zero’ is very interesting actually. I am firmly convinced that zero is a concept invented by man, to relate a hypothetical state of affairs to an actual one. If there are no coins in a drawer, reality is not in the least concerned with coins. Reality is just the molecules, the matter, the stuff that actually is in the drawer. It is not the infinite amount of things that could be in the drawer but are not. None of these are real – because they don’t exist.

    It is just our mind (= brain process!) that conceives of the purely hypothetical situation where there would be coins in the drawer, and then makes the observation that this hypothetical does not correspond to reality. We then go on and say that there are zero coins in the drawer. Hypothetical coins are not actual entities – they are processes in our brains. In this sense an actual coin and the concept of a coin that you refer to when you say that there are ‘zero coins’ are two fundamentally different things. One is a real physical entity, the other is a concept, a thought, a brain process.

    If you don’t see that all of this ‘zero coins’ business purely plays out inside our heads I am afraid we won’t be able to communicate much more about this.

    fG

  345. faded_glory,

    Minds don’t make reality, reality makes minds!

    “Reality” is sensory perception specially arranged, that is, inferred, as something external to us, unless you start with the powers of inference, there can never be any “reality” for the external world is an inferred world. You have to start with a mind, otherwise there will be no reality.

  346. The problem with the transceiver model of the human mind is that it creates more problems than it solves.

    If all our thoughts do not originate in our brain but are beamed in from outside then we have to ask who or what is doing the beaming and why?

    More unsettling is the possibility that if every thought we think, our sense of self, everything we believe makes us unique individuals, is beamed in from outside by who-knows-what then what confidence can we have in anything we think or experience?

    Transceivers do not originate the information they receive or transmit, they are just conduits, entirely under the control of those who use them. If the transceiver model is true then we could be no more than helpless and unwitting puppets of whoever are our true masters.

    Is that model really preferable or in any way superior to the model of the mind as a property of the physical brain?

  347. @208 StephenB to efen ts
    “You ,will never answer my question.” [define "natural cause"]

    @211 efen ts,
    “Yes I will, Stephen [followed by an excuse]

    @221 StephenB
    “No, you will not.”

    @224, efren ts,
    “Yes, I will.” [followed by an excuse]

    @232 efen ts:
    “Contrary to Stephen’s opinion, I am a man of my word.” [followed by an excuse]

    @347 StephenB
    efen ts will never define “natural cause.”

    @347 + efen ts will provide a non-answer [followed by an excuse]

  348. efron ts:
    “It becomes science once a measureable and testable hypothesis is generated. I remember watching a documentary on string theory and clearly remember a scientist (though not which one) saying that string theory has not risen to the level of science because a testable hypothesis has not been generated.”

    I agree. Of course, observation is also essential. Intelligence is observed generating patterns neither defined by law not chance (refer tohttp://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/polanyi-and-ontogenetic-emergence/#comment-337588). CSI, as I’ve explained many times is one such measurement of the effects of intelligence and the testable and falsifiable hypothesis is that law+chance (absent intelligence) will neither generate intelligence nor the organized CSI it is founded upon nor the organized CSI it produces. We can be sure that this will never be falsified since law+chance don’t even define such patterns (organized CSI — FSCI). Again refer to the discussion following http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-337588 for explanation of how law+chance explain phenomenon once law+chance define the phenomenon.

    CJYman:
    “Science thus comes to a stop as discovery of the unknown is not allowed. Try again. Your definition is quite obviously a science stopper.”

    efron ts:
    “Neither Stephen nor KF have stepped up to address this point. Maybe you will.”

    What point? I was responding to your definition that science must include reference to already existing (known) laws. That is a blatant science stopper, though, since new laws are always being created to define events that were not previously understood. That is the progress of science.

    efron ts:
    “Even if we accept Stephen’s asertion that methodological naturalism wasn’t imposed on science until 1986, we see that the pace of science discovery has only increased in the intervening years. And organizations with no apparent commitment to MN, like for-profit corporations,have not seemed inclined to dispense with it.”

    The problem with using MN as the “ground rule” for science is that no critic here can define MN in a scientifically useful way that also serves to exclude ID Theory. That is one of the main points of this thread.

    efron ts:
    “Further, privately funded science enterprises like the Biologic Institute, or science departments within religious organizations which have a commitment opposed to MN like Biola and Liberty University’s have not shown any productivity advantage. Indeed, they have hardly shown any productivity at all.”

    What is your point in relation to anything I’ve stated?

    Furthermore, there has been much productivity re: ID Theory, especially from EVOINFO labs and the work of Trevor and Abel. I can’t speak of Biologic since I haven’t looked into it much.

    CJYman:
    “When did I ever state that the physical brain doesn’t work (operate) within the bounds of chemistry and physics? I said “Intelligence is founded on patterns not *defined* by physics and chemistry. Strings of DNA, computer code, etc, are not defined by law+chance in the same why that law+chance do not define, and thus do not explain, our comments here on this thread.”

    efron ts:
    “We know who the designers of these comments are, and they are physical beings, working on physical computers.”

    Remember that there is no necessity for intelligence to be non-physical (depending on the definition of “physical”) for ID Theory to work. All that is required is that law+chance (absent intelligence) will not produce intelligence and law+chance will not produce CSI.

    So, in reply to your statement, the originators of these comments (which are neither defined by law nor by chance) are intelligence beings.

    efron ts:
    “You, or anyone at all in the ID movement, have yet to demonstrate that DNA was designed.”

    By that same token, no one has “demonstrated” that the big bang took place, that there exist electromagnetic fields, or that past evolution occured, or that consciousness exists. These are all inferences and extrapolations of observed effects — indirect observations. In fact, electromagnetic fields may be little more that a mathematical description of something which we truly can’t envision or show or “demonstrate.”

    efron ts:
    “Oh, sure, you assert it all the time, with reference to the incredible amounts of CSI (or FCSI).”

    No, we hypothesize it all the time since the patterns under consideration are neither defined by law nor best explained by chance and are of the type of events observed to be generated by the application of foresight (intelligence). Furthermore, the hypothesis is falsified if it can be shown that law+chance (absent intelligence) will produce organized CSI or intelligence. Of course I have stated above and within this very comment the reasons why we don’t expect law+chance to generate those patterns. This creates a type of no-go theorem akin to that which does not “allow” perpetual motion free energy machines. Its an extrapolation of our understanding of how law, chance, and intelligence operate.

    efron ts:
    “Yet no one has bothered to actually do any of those calculations.”

    Check out:
    -http://www.uncommondescent.com/philosophy/what-is-intelligence/#comment-341828
    -http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/id-and-common-descent/comment-page-5/#comment-345511
    -http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-odds-that-end-stephen-meyers-rebuttal-of-the-chance-hypothesis/comment-page-2/#comment-343151

    efron ts:
    “So by saying that DNA conforms to the laws of chemistry and physics, but is not “defined” by it, you are, in the absence of a useful definition of what you mean by defined, again assuming your conclusion.”

    I’ve already linked to my explanation of all of the relevant terms probably about 7 times:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-337588

    The basic thing to understand is that an organized system can operate within a set of laws yet its organization will not be defined by those laws. The organization controls and harnesses the laws, while at the same time containing a structure not defined by those laws.

    Polonyi explained it well:
    “A shaping of boundaries may he said to go beyond a mere fixing of boundaries and establishes a ‘controlling principle.’ It achieves control of the boundaries by imprinting a significant pattern on the boundaries of the system. Or, to use information language, we may say that it puts the system under the control of a non-physical-chemical principle by a profoundly informative intervention.”

    –Michael Polanyi, “Life Transcending Physics and Chemistry,” Chemical & Engineering News (21 August 1967): 64.

    CJYman:
    “Consciousness isn’t material.”

    efron ts:
    “Assuming your conclusion.”

    I didn’t assume it. I explained in based on two different definitions of “material.” Did you miss that?

    efron ts:
    “We have a large body of work in neuroscience which refutes, at least in part, this statement. And no such body of work to support it.”

    Really?!?!? Then you’ll guide me to the most recent work that explains how to “squeeze” subjective moments of experience from non-subjective matter and energy — essential how to get something from nothing?

    You are quite incorrect in your assertion above. The most coherent, testable, and falsifiable hypothesis about consciousness comes from Penrose and Hameroff and their model requires that consciousness be fundamentally arising from the quantum structure of the universe, thus placing consciousness fundamentally alongside matter and energy, so that consciousness does not emerge from matter and energy.

    CJYman:
    “Nope. No known combination of law+chance can explain the falgellum. In fact, law+chance don’t even define the flagellum.”

    efron ts:
    “Classic gap argument.”

    Not at all. There is no gap. There is a complete negation. Law+chance don’t even define that type of pattern. There is a no-go theorem, not merely a gap. To state that in terms of a gap, would be akin to stating that the impossibility of creating a perpetual motion free energy machine is only using the classic gap argument.

    efron ts:
    “That science has yet to produce a step-wise description of the evolution of the flagella (although it’s relation to the TTSS is compelling), is hardly sufficient grounds close the book on the effort and shove your designer into the breech. Talk about science-stopping!”

    Huh???? Not sure who you are addressing here, since I have absolutely no problem in principle with either abiogenesis or even a darwinian type of evolution.

    CJYman:
    “The type of pattern in which category the falgellum is contained is so far known to require intelligence in its contruction and intelligence has been observed constructing such patterns.”

    efron ts:
    “You mean outboard motors?”

    I mean the types of patterns which I have been discussing this whole time. Those patterns who’s organization is neither defined by law nor by chance. IOW, can be calculated as organized CSI.

    CJYman:
    “Excellent, then since it can be measured, Conscious Intelligence is natural (according to the defintion you’ve provided) and thus ID Theory is not disqualified from science on the basis that it does not satisfy the rules of MN. In fact, CSI is another way of measuring conscious intelligence.”

    efron ts:
    “Awesome. Now someone has to actually do a CSI calculation. No one else has stepped up to that challenge. Maybe you are the one?”

    I’m sure others have (didn’t Dembski do a preliminary sketch on the bac flag in NFL?), but yes so have I:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-341828

    CJYman:
    “However, intelligence is still “supernatural” in the sense that law+chance are subservient to it as I’ve already explained over and over again.”

    efron ts:
    “As you have *asserted* over and over again. The fact that humans can produce legislation is hardly proof that physics and chemistry are subservient to intelligence.”

    Huh??? By “legislation” you mean law — as in compression algorithms — right? And you missed the other half of my argument which is essential to complete the argument. Are you the one who accussed StephenB of obfuscation?

    efron ts:
    “We only empirically know of human intelligence, which we know cannot violate the laws of phsyics and chemistry by an act of will.”

    Uhuh, so?!?!? I have never discussed violation of physics and chemistry. You are the one who keeps bringing that up.

    efron ts:
    “So you are left assuming some other form of intelligence which can, but has not been demonstrated to exist.”

    That’s like saying that we can’t know that past evolution (from simple chemistry to conscious intelligence) has ever occurred because we’ve only seen present evolution occur (simple frame shifts, loss of function causing benefit, antibiotic resistance, etc.)

    Or that’s like telling SETI (in the following hypothetical scenario), “you can’t know that ET sent us those instructions on how to build a time machine because you don’t know that ET (other forms of intelligence) exists based solely on an investigation of the pattern received.”

    Furthermore, what do you mean by “other form of intelligence?” Intelligence is intelligence. It is a class of phenomenon. Sure it can be measured by its effects, however the effects are still defined as resulting from intelligence (foresight). You seem to wish to artificially constrain intelligence to the human form — human brain and meat bag.

    AI has already been seen in computers and there is no reason to suppose that conscious intelligence can not be generated in a computer — that’s all the human brain is right — a computer. Unless you are saying there is something “extra special” about a human brain in particular, as opposed to any other type of computer.

    The only requirement for intelligence is a sufficiently organized information processing system. So, intelligence can reside in a human brain, an animal brain, a computer, a computing machine which is made of material that we do not yet utilize for computation, in a quantum computer, in quantum events, in the quantum structure of the universe, etc.

  349. Onlookers (and ET and FG):

    If it were not so sad in the end, the above would have been amusing.

    __________

    FG:

    I am sorry to have had to take time and space, step by step, to show why you are wrong on the root of first mathematical realities [from zero on up], and on empirical realities such as the roundness of the earth etc.

    Recall, your core remark on the reality of zero was:

    zero is a concept in the minds of men, therefore it is a process of the brain. Are you suggesting ‘zero’ would exist if there were no people to contemplate it?

    On the observation that this reflects a major subjectivist error of our day, set out point by point to show why the reality of zero etc is antecedent to our forming the concept and going through associated mental and brain electro-chemistry etc processes. The resulting length does not change the cogency of the argument.

    I note too your updated dismissal:

    I find it mildly amusing that you are telling me that reality exists independently from our minds – of course it does, isn’t that actually one of the points that ‘our side’ is trying to make? Minds don’t make reality, reality makes minds!

    The business about ‘zero’ is very interesting actually. I am firmly convinced that zero is a concept invented by man, to relate a hypothetical state of affairs to an actual one. If there are no coins in a drawer, reality is not in the least concerned with coins. Reality is just the molecules, the matter, the stuff that actually is in the drawer. It is not the infinite amount of things that could be in the drawer but are not. None of these are real – because they don’t exist.

    Of course, if it so happens that here are no — i.e. zero! — molecules in the particular form of coins in a drawer, that too would be a real state of affairs in the world.

    And that is not a mere concept or process deriving from brain electro-chemistry.

    So also, as to the realities of molecules and mountains, one of the points being made — but obviously passed over dismissively — is that the physics that forms a cosmos in which terrestrial, C-chemistry life friendly planets form, is exquisitely finely balanced, complex and functionally organised.

    Further to this, the systems of cell based life (the foundation of creatures with brains) are based on algorithmic, coded information and executing machinery in cells.

    So, the evidence is that Mind credibly antedates matter and C-chemistry cell-based life, not the other way around.

    (Onlookers: Note FG’s dismissal as excerpted, without attending and responding to the evidence on point.)

    On fair comment, FG, you would do well to study carefully and respond to — rather than skim over dismissively — the difference between having or forming a concept and/or going through associated brain processing operations, and the reality that is the context in which we may form such a concept.

    (Remember, one of the classic problems at UD with Darwinist commenters is that instead of acknowledging serious correction, they shift grounds of complaint to style or something of that order, or some fresh tangent.)

    ____________

    ET:

    Let me first repair a defect in my previous comment: thank you for your compliment on my “generally good” advice to those suffering from serious depression.

    Similarly, I must take the remarks at 340 — “I do not share your burning desire to debate every minutia and dominate every point. So, congratulations, you win 5 internets and strike a grand blow against the dogmatic materialists. Now what? Are you going to go to Disneyland?” — as an acknowledgement (partly back-handed and obviously sarcastic) that the basic case I put up at 336 is cogent. [And, ET, you may be uninterested in discussing/ correcting your assertions on the merits -- which will involve specific points and presentation of matter in evidence -- but the record needs to be corrected, and I am fairly sure that there are appreciative onlookers, present and future.]

    Your diversion from substance to personalities (and you have yet to substantiate your former “ad hominem” accusation . . . ) is similarly all too telling on the balance on the merits.

    Also, you would do well to heed CJY’s remarks at 348 on specific points.

    I note, again [cf. 293 point 6 supra], that WAC 27 — for a year now — has documented every day at UD that Durson, Chiu, Trevors and Abel have published in Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling no less than 35 specific values for what is effectively biological CSI, per their FSC metric, using an extension of Shannon’s H, in the peer reviewed scientific literature. (Table of values obtained here.)

    ____________

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  350. StepehnB at 347″

    @347 + efen ts will provide a non-answer [followed by an excuse]

    So, to pick up where we left off, you had just agreed that humans have a physical beings which exist in the physical world, correct?

  351. PS: I see that CJY has provided a live “rough” CSI calculation for a particular protein, December 2nd here at UD. It seems to have been — predictably — ignored by those wanting to assert a talking point. That is very tellingly sad.

    –> It also goes to the point that even where indubitable cases of progressive contributions to science have been made under the ID paradigm (Durston et al, Dembski et al), we see that the MN enthusiasts are unable to accept the facts staring them in the face

    –> This is rather similar to Judge Jones, who having in hand a list of peer reviewed ID-supportive literature, chose to assert instead that it does not exist.

    –> Similarly, when we point out the actual history of science that shows that major, even epochal contributions, have been made outside the MN paradigm, and by design thinkers, this too is dismissed.

    –> De Nile is a river in Egypt . . .

  352. Seversky (#330, 346)

    Thank you for your reply to my earlier post (#175).

    I can see that you’re a consistent methodological naturalist. You acknowledge that the scientific postulate that the universe is comprehensible is merely a postulate, which may be proved wrong tomorrow. Fair enough.

    I have to disagree with your assertion that science aims to offer a purely descriptive and predictive account of reality. For my point is that the prior behavior of objects notwithstanding, science cannot tell us what we ought to expect, unless it makes assumptions about how objects ought to behave. In other words, a purely descriptive account of reality (all “is,” but no “ought”) cannot generate norms for rational beings such as ourselves. If we want to say that someone is being irrational in not accepting scientific explanatory norms, then we must assume that the behavior of objects conforms to norms. There can therefore be no “norm-free” or “ought-free” account of reality.

    Of course, there is a big difference between the behavior of an apple, conforming to the law of gravity, and the behavior of an individual consciously following a moral norm (or a scientific norm, for that matter – for I think that holding manifestly irrational beliefs is a character vice, too). It is very odd that objects can follow norms, and in the end, I would argue that the only way to make sense of this fact is to suppose that the cosmos of the creation of a Higher Intelligence.

    You ask why you should believe the Biblical account of creation. All I will say in response is that ID does not aim to establish the truth of such an account. Its aims are far more modest. All it aims to show is that there are some patterns in the cosmos which can be reliably identified as being the work of an intelligence, simply by virtue of a combination of two facts: their specificity and their astronomically low probability.

    Regarding the transceiver model of the mind: I can understand your unease with this metaphor, as it assumes that thought originates from outside the brain. But what I am proposing is simply that thinking is something that a person does. There are some things that a person does with their brain (e.g. imagining) and some things that a person does without it (e.g. understanding and choosing). When I decide to move my arm, my thought (or decision) does not move my brain; rather, my decision is an immaterial act which is then “realized” or “instantiated” on a lower, material level as an arrangement of neurons in the brain, which causes my arm to go up. This is top-down causation.

    I hope that helps.

  353. CJYMan at 348:

    I have read your response and we have much to discuss. I have a busy weekend ahead (a digital photography class and hauling my spouse around the area with various accoutrements for her personal pursuits.) I will respond at length as time permits and assuming I survive my closing comment to KF.

    I will note a couple of things in preview. There are a number of points in your response where you are inserting into your argument as fact the very points under contention. Second, the CSI calculation you pointed me to assumes a de novo creation, which is clearly fallacious. Further, there are a number of other defects, as pointed out by commenters on that, and associated, discussions that remain unresolved. I will certainly congratulate you on attempting such a calculation. You stand ahead of many of your peers, in that regard.

  354. KF at 349:

    Similarly, I must take the remarks at 340…as an acknowledgement (partly back-handed and obviously sarcastic) that the basic case I put up at 336 is cogent.

    As I said, you may take it anyway you want. It matters not to me. I labor under no illusions regarding the import of my participation here. Commenting here has proven to be a generally entertaining diversion. But, I am quite confident that the modern scientific enterprise will continue to chug away completely unaffected, and blissfully unaware, of our efforts here. The fate of methodological naturalism does not rest on my response to you. We are but poor players, strutting and fretting our hour upon the stage.

    Conversing with you is just not all that entertaining. Your style of writing is really inappropriate for the forum. It is unnecessarily long and quite impenetrable at times. I just don’t find much interesting wading through it all to boil it down to the one or two salient points. And, in light of my observations in comment 59, any such effort is ultimately unfruitful. So, if you wish to view this as acquiescence, please do. I just hope my retirement from this stage is not the final straw that breaks the back of methodological naturalism. I’d hate to think my hard-earned hegemony over the physical sciences is lost because I was bored.

  355. PS: KF at 351:

    PS: I see that CJY has provided a live “rough” CSI calculation for a particular protein, December 2nd here at UD. It seems to have been — predictably — ignored by those wanting to assert a talking point. That is very tellingly sad.

    Ignored? You may want to read a little further down the thread. There were a number of critiques offered by now-banned commenters Zachriel and R0b, along with Mustela Nivalis (who may or may not be banned). CJY’s response was first to suggest those offering the critique should redo the analysis (which I take as evidence that he was unsure how to revise the calculation himself) and then, finally, retirement.

  356. It appears that I have muddled up the html tag for the link above. The retirement may be seen here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-343213

  357. Onlookers:

    Observe how ET ignores the peer-review published table of 35 empirically based FSC values, by Durston et al, since I believe 2007, i.e. coming on three years.

    This is rather like Judge Jones having in hand a list of (and I believe actual copies) peer reviewed ID-supportive literature then finding one excuse or another to assert that the literature does not exist.

    As to the dismissal of CJY’s calculation of CSI per reasonable estimates and measurements, all I will say is that selective hyperskepticism will find a way to object to any and every thing it is not inclined to accept, by selectively and inconsistently requiring a standard of proof that it would not apply to cases it is inclined to accept.

    As the “de novo creation” objection, in fact the work that CJY did applies the search resources of the cosmos to the problem. This automatically takes into account all credibly possible mechanisms — including possible antecedents and co-optation. the problem is that there are just too many alternatives, so the sea of possible configs is unsearchable on the gamut of accessible resources, on an observed cosmos scale; much less on a cell based life on earth [~ 6 * 10^ 24 kgs, ~ 4.6 BY, per arguments commonly made on size and dates] scale.

    The problem ET will not face is that once we see a degree of specific complex function beyond a reasonable threshold [which is measurable in one form or another of functionally specific bits],

    [1] necessity is out of the picture as we are dealing with high contingency, and

    [2] law plus chance is out of he picture as the sea of non-function makes it ever so hard to find a shore of function from which we may hill climb to optimal functions step by step to our heart’s content; but

    [3] We routinely observe intelligence — and ONLy observe intelligence routinely producing such items exhibiting FSCI.

    So, per empirically anchored inference to best explanation, the best current explanation for complex functional proteins and the cells in which they appear, is: art, i.e intelligently directed contingency.

    And, to overturn such inference, all that is required is to produce a case where say 1,000 bits worth of information capacity, in a functional message [say, ASCII code for a program module or a sentence in English, etc . . . ] has credibly been produced by law + chance without intelligent direction. (And — forestalling a typical objection — Dawkins’ Weasel and GA’s etc do not meet this criterion, as they are intelligently designed tightly constrained targetted searches based on already functional, complex organised systems.)

    That no such counter-example is forthcoming is utterly revealing on the balance of the case on the merits.

    And, the underlying a priori materialism (and its “winsome” and so persuasive — as opposed to sound — handmaiden, methodological naturalism) distorts science from being able to freely pursue the truth on the evidence problem is that which has been aptly summed up by Johnson in his Nov 1997 reply to Lewontin:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” 

    . . . .   The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. When the public understands this clearly, Lewontin’s Darwinism will start to move out of the science curriculum and into the department of intellectual history, where it can gather dust on the shelf next to Lewontin’s Marxism. [The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  358. Onlookers (as ET seems to be on his way out the door . . . ):

    You will observe that CJY has put up a reasonable calculation per measurements and reasonable estimates. In this thread, the (obvious) relevant context for my remark on it being ignored, it has been cosnitently ignored by Darwinist objectors.

    As to the successfully objected to then “retirement” at post 94 as ET linked, in the very next post, 95 [15 or so minutes later], CJY continues, aptly:

    … all I have time to say right now, is that the data for any equation is affected by human ignorance and gaps in our knowledge. Garbage in, garbage out. This is what I have been trying to explain to Zachriel in “The Odds That End: ….” thread. Yet this doesn’t effect bringing the age and size of the universe into scientific territory, so for that reason, a measurement of CSI is definitely in scientific territory.

    CSI, like any equation (such as those used to calculate the age and size of the universe) relies on estimations of presently available data. And, as already explained, I gave the extreme benefit of the doubt to the skeptic in my assumptions … so yes, the measurement of CSI could easily be updated in either direction in the future. The question is: “what direction will be the overall trend” or will we see the measurement(s) over time and given the error values of each variable stabilizing around an average value? With everything that we know can we even attempt to get a non-CSI value for the protein Titin? If someone can go back to my measurement and find the -log 2 of the end measurement, that would be great so that we can see the size of the value for CSI that we are presently dealing with. And then, how far up the hierarchy of protein multiple protein complexes can we go until there is no reasonable way to even fudge data to get a non-CSI value? Excellent questions for further ID research. In fact, I offer the invitation to the ID critics to help out with this research. I have provided an explanation of how to calculate for CSI above.

    that sounds like cogently addressing hyperskeptical objecitons to me.

    And an hour and fifteen or so minutes thereafter, he comes back AGAIN, cogently, point to point with the objectors. (I see the thread cuts off after one more comment.)

    So much for the implied “CJY retired, defeated” in ET’s last comment.

    So also, we now know that we cannot rely on ET’s summary statements and bland declarations or onward implications form such.

    Meanwhile, the peer-review published set of 35 values is ignored, as I ALSO drew attention to.

    As to the by now typical resort to stylistic critique [and recall, this is a fairly serious design theory blog in which major announcements and discussions on key issues have taken place over several years . . . ],we can take that as a sure sign that the matter on the merits has not gone the way the Darwinist objector has hoped. So, he distracts from and makes light of that.

    Meanwhile at nearly 360 comments, after tangent after tangent, we still do not see a coherent definition of nature form the materialists that can round on reasonable bases, the attempt to use methodological naturalism to exclude form science that which assesses the presence of signs of intelligence in contexts inconvenient for philosophical materialists.

    And, if there is no cogent definition of nature from that side, we can therefore see that the commonly seen sneering dismissal of “the supernatural” [and ignoring of the relevant contrast between the natural (i.e undirected chance + mechanical necessity) vs the artificial (or intelligently directed contingency) is plainly without merits.

    Telling . . .

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  359. PS: As for homochirlaity [Zachriel's objeciton no 1], there is a reason why in a non-biological context, racemic mixtures [more or less 50-50] are usually formed when reactions occur: the difference between left and right handed molecules is a matter of geometry, not energy. In biological molecules, the homochiral forms occur because they are assembled that way per informationally controlled reactions. It is not credible that in any reasonable prebiotic soup or volcanic vent, we would find the rather specialised [and investigator directed] controlled circumstances thatt he investigators in teh PNAS paper suggest. not least the big problem is that he relevant components would be broken down just about as fast as they form, so contexts in which crystallisation would occur, as is a part of their cahin of homochiralisation, would be most unlikely in the real world. Claims to biologically credible circumstances notwithstanding. Here is Robert Shapiro on the key issue, from his 2006 Sci Am article:

    . . . inanimate nature has a [thermodynamically driven] bias toward the formation of molecules made of fewer rather than greater numbers of carbon atoms, and thus shows no partiality in favor of creating the building blocks of our kind of life . . . I have observed a similar pattern in the results of many spark discharge experiments . . . . no nucleotides of any kind have been reported as products of spark discharge experiments or in studies of meteorites, nor have the smaller units (nucleosides) that contain a sugar and base but lack the phosphate.

    To rescue the RNA-first concept from this otherwise lethal defect, its advocates have created a discipline called prebiotic synthesis. They have attempted to show that RNA and its components can be prepared in their laboratories in a sequence of carefully controlled reactions, normally carried out in water at temperatures observed on Earth . . . .

    Unfortunately, neither chemists nor laboratories were present on the early Earth to produce RNA . . . .

  360. One note before I am off for the day:

    Onlookers:

    Observe how ET ignores the peer-review published table of 35 empirically based FSC values, by Durston et al, since I believe 2007, i.e. coming on three years.

    Onlookers, note how KF introduces a fundamentally different concept, functional sequence complexity, in place of Complex specified information. FSC is calculated much differently than CJY’s CSI calculation. As to KF;s claim this paper supports ID, well I will defer to the experts and note that it doesn’t appear on the authoritative list of peer reviewed articles supporting ID found here or:

    http://www.discovery.org/a/2640

    As the “de novo creation” objection, in fact the work that CJY did applies the search resources of the cosmos to the problem. This automatically takes into account all credibly possible mechanisms — including possible antecedents and co-optation. the problem is that there are just too many alternatives, so the sea of possible configs is unsearchable on the gamut of accessible resources, on an observed cosmos scale; much less on a cell based life on earth [~ 6 * 10^ 24 kgs, ~ 4.6 BY, per arguments commonly made on size and dates] scale.

    All that by raising 1/2 to the power of the number of amino acids? There is a saying around here you would be well to ponder, my prolix friend. You can put your boots in the oven, but that don’t make ‘em biscuits.

    But, far pleasanter company awaits me. CJY, if my posting privileges survive intact, we shall talk.

  361. Onlookers:

    For further, less snarky reference (though I doubt that the moderators will allow this comment to remain) on CSI and other such calculations, This useful corrective, from the talk origins archive may be of interest.

  362. Old Business:

    [A] I have already pointed out numerous times that methodological naturalism doesn’t know what it means when it insists that scientists must study only natural causes. Methodological naturalists do not know what they mean by the term “natural cause,” nor do they even appear curious about what it could mean. Thus, it is unreasonable to try to enforce an incomprehensible rule. As I pointed out, the MN’s will never define a natural cause, because if they go through the intellectual exertion necessary to do so, they will discover ID has already provided the only rational definition, and, fearful of joining that team, they prefer to remain ambiguous.

    [B] Is spite of that glaring deficiency, two MN advocates have insisted, in effect, that I should answer questions about what natural causes [as they conceive them] can and cannot do even though they do not know what they mean by the term. In some cases, I have gone the extra mile and provided a definition for them and answered the question anyway. Incredibly, those who have fathered those incomprehensible conceptions claim that it is I who have not formed my questions properly, thus projecting their own vagueness on me. I have been accused of many things, but lack of clarity is not one of them.

    New Business:

    [C] To add insult the injury, these bloggers, after failing to provide their own definitions, refuse to accept the perfectly reasonable and clearly written definitions of their adversaries on the grounds that the ID formulations prematurely smuggle in the preferred conclusion. This is beyond ridiculous. A definition cannot smuggle in a conclusion because a definition is not an argument; it is linguistic description of a concept.

    A defined entity need not conform to truth or even exist at all. If I define a unicorn as a horse with a horn on its forehead, I am not assuming its existence; I am distinguishing it from a horse or a rhinoceros so everyone will know what I am talking about. Efren ts would insist that I may not define a unicorn because there is no evidence that unicorns exist, and that I am, therefore, smuggling in a conclusion. That is, of course, an illogical proposition. I must first define the unicorn in order to discern whether or not it is likely to exist, and, finding no evidence for it, assume that it does not.

    On the matter of ID definitions, CYJman and kairosfocus have made some illuminating comments about the relationship between natural and supernatural that are well worth reading. Both have dramatized the ironies in involved and the artificial nature of a supernatural construct, and each has something to say about the “usefulness” of the term. For my part, the term “supernatural” is a metaphysical concept and should be replaced by scientific constructs. Thus, we could define the various kinds of causes as NATURAL [law, chance, or a combination of the two] and INTELLIGENT [(a) Animal, (b) Human, (c) Superhuman [including the possibility of immaterial angels (good and bad) and the possibility of a material principle], and finally (d) Divine God]. This would seem to cover all the bases and everyone would know exactly what is being alluded to.

    By this standard, we can easily make sense of one of the many questions that the methodological naturalists cannot answer or even dare approach.

    For the MN’s, a burglar [or an ancient hunter constructing a spear, or an ancient engineer building Pompeii] that is motivated by a material brain is a natural cause, while a burglar/hunter/engineer motivated by an immaterial mind is a supernatural cause, except of course that, for them, immaterial minds don’t exist, so never mind the supernatural cause after all. How can those who embrace such a proposition keep a straight face?

    For ID, everything falls into place. A burglar, by definition, is simply an example of an intelligent agent of the human variety.

    —efren ts: “CJY, if my posting privileges survive intact, we shall talk.”

    I have no idea where that is coming from.

  363. For me, the burglar is a natural entity born of natural forces, His physical brain is also a natural entity whose combined properties we label mind. That mind is damaged or lost forever when the physical brain is damaged or destroyed. From that we infer that the mind is a function of the brain and hence natural.

    Effects or products of the mind are regarded as artificial or man-made to distinguish them from things that are not man-made.

    That seems to be fairly simple.

  364. On my way back from photography class, I find an choice little nugget from Stephen:

    A definition cannot smuggle in a conclusion because a definition is not an argument; it is linguistic description of a concept.

    And any conclusions that are drawn from a faulty definition are similarly faulty as I shall demonstrate.

    A defined entity need not conform to truth or even exist at all. If I define a unicorn as a horse with a horn on its forehead, I am not assuming its existence; I am distinguishing it from a horse or a rhinoceros so everyone will know what I am talking about. Efren ts would insist that I may not define a unicorn because there is no evidence that unicorns exist, and that I am, therefore, smuggling in a conclusion.

    You can define any word any way you want all day long. The problem comes in when you try to build to any conclusions based on that definition. Observe how this works:

    I accept your definition of a unicorn as a horse with a horn. And due to the extreme morphological similarities between unicorns and horses, along with the application of the idea of genetic entropy which states that mutation can only lead to a loss in function, I conclude that the unicorn is an evolutionary predecessor of the modern horse.

    Of course, my conclusion is fatally flawed since unicorns don’t exist and, therefore, cannot be an evolutionary ancestor of the modern horse. Your definition of intelligence as mutually exclusive of law and chance is similarly flawed. There is no way to get from your definition to the potential conclusion that there is a completely naturalistic, evolutionary basis for the development of human cognition. If there is no way to there from here, then it is clear you have frontloaded the conclusion into the answer.

    CJY, since your recent comment requires a thoughtful response that will take time to compose, it still won’t be immediately forthcoming. My wife has claims on the rest of my day, as well as a good bit of tomorrow. I think you will understand if I pay heed.

  365. 365

    The dichotomy between NATURAL causes and INTELLIGENT causes renders the latter UN-Natural. Does StephenB consider human beings to be unnatural?

  366. —efren ts; “Of course, my conclusion is fatally flawed since unicorns don’t exist and, therefore, cannot be an evolutionary ancestor of the modern horse.”

    You entire analysis is flawed because you didn’t reason properly from the definitions that you were given and because you injected irrelevant subject matter into the discussion.

  367. —Adel DiBagno: “The dichotomy between NATURAL causes and INTELLIGENT causes renders the latter UN-Natural.”

    How would you know what a natural cause does if you do not know what a natural cause is?

    —”Does StephenB consider human beings to be unnatural?”

    Human agency is a “non-natural” cause not an “unnatural” cause, the latter meaning referring to an aberration or an anomaly.

    Of course your confusion is similar to efren ts’s difficulty in the sense that you want to argue with a word without knowing what it means.

  368. —efren ts: “You can define any word any way you want all day long. The problem comes in when you try to build to any conclusions based on that definition.”

    Everyone knows what the word Extra Terrestrial Means as it pertains to intelligence, because the word has been well defined, yet we have no way of knowing whether Extra Terrestial intelligence exists at all.

    By your reasoning, the term “Extraterrestial intelligence” cannot be defined because it is not yet been shown to exist. You really need to give up this line of reasoning, because it makes no sense. Apparently, you are motivated to discredit ID definitions, so you attempt to argue that the elements in those definitions must be proven to exist before they can be used as scientific constructs. That is simply not true.

    The irony is that while you set impossible and unreasonable standards for your adversary’s definitions, you consider yourself exempt from the intellectual task of providing definitions for your own position.

  369. Onlookers:

    Stephen, as we approach 400 posts, is proving exactly right in his initial observation:

    Now think about this for a moment. Entrenched bureaucrats, who do not know what they mean by the word “natural,” are telling ID scientists, who do know what they mean by the word, “natural,” that science can study only natural causes. In effect, here is what they are saying: “You [ID scientists] are restricted to a study of the natural world, and, although I have no idea what I mean by that term, which means that I have no idea of what I mean by my rule, you are, nevertheless, condemned if you violate it.

    It being painfully plain that the evolutionary materialist skeptical objectors will never provide a clear and cogent definition of what they mean by “nature” by contrast with “the supernatural,” a good example of what is really going on comes from the 2008 version of the US National Academy of Sciences pamphlet against “Creationism,” which on p. 10 provides a handy little loaded definition of “Science”:

    The use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process. [US NAS, 2008, p. 10. H'mm, given that such a thing as scientific study of information exists, complete with a theoretical framework, is such to be considered a "natural" phenomenon? How can that be done without begging some pretty big questions? And if you think that the NAS authors were ignorant of the existence and relevance of the field of Information theory and its applications, I have some first class commercial property in Plymouth Montserrat to sell you -- just dig out from under 20 ft of ash and mud flows.]

    Now comes the tickler, when we look at the lead-up paragraph to the definition:

    In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. Any scientific explanation has to be testable — there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it. Unless a proposed explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially count against it, that explanation cannot be subjected to scientific testing.

    At no point do the NAS’ authors pause to actually provide a clear, well substantiated statement of what they mean by — i.e. a definition of — “nature.”

    That, too is no accident.

    Howbeit, by the implication that every observable, and in principle repeatable phenomenon is “natural” — does this include, say the production of long functional code strings by software engineers? — they are plainly implicitly assuming philosophical naturalism in the form of evolutionary materialism.

    Shades of Lewontin, in that notorious NYRB article from January 1997:

    The vast majority of us do not have control of the intellectual apparatus needed to explain manifest reality in material terms [i.e. the brilliant scientists explain materialistically, and the rest of us "must" depend on and implicitly trust the New Magisterium . . . ], so in place of scientific (i.e., correct material) explanations, we substitute demons [note the extremely loaded term] . . . . Most of the chapters of The Demon-Haunted World [the Sagan book being reviewed] are taken up with exhortations to the reader to cease whoring after false gods and to accept the scientific method as the unique pathway to a correct understanding of the natural world. To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science [= making materialistic explanations of "natural" phenomena] provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . . .

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    It is entirely proper therefore to charge the NAS with willful obfuscation of a key point of a priori commitment and worldview level question-begging; and with refusal to address so simple an alternative as the one suggested by a good dictionary: nature vs art.

    That is, it is far less philosphically loaded to observe that we routinely see that there are phenomena that are rooted in undirected chance and mechanical forces of necessity, and there are artificial events that trace to known cases of intelligence.

    Once we see that such an alternative would then allow us to coherently study signs of intelligence and then make up our minds as to which of possible candidates is the best explanation in a given case, then the bogeyman category supernatural (notice the circumlocution used by the NAS!) intelligence is not a “no go” because “non-observable.” Instead, on a level playing field, we may examine the signs of intelligence and if warranted infer to the presence of a cause beyond the observed physical cosmos.

    Indeed, that is precisely what the fine-tuned physics of the observed physical cosmos is held to point to by many competent practitioners.

    In short, the NAS — att he highest level of the naturalistic school of science that is plainly institutionally dominant but currently beginning to be scandal-plagued [Climategate is just the beginnings of the lavalas!] has indulged in censorship by question begging, backed up by refusing to specifically and cogently address the meaning of the term “natural.”

    GEM of TKI

    PS: It is almost laughably predictable that the same parties who cannot — after nigh on 400 posts — provide a cogent definition of “natural” are trying to split definitional hairs to wedge apart complex specified information [CSI] and functional sequence complexity [FSC], which is precisely a form of complex specified information found in linear strings that function in biological contexts, And in particular, proteins, the case where 35 published values of FSC have been published, are linear, bio-functional strings that when folded and agglomerated take part in the complex organised functionality of the cell. And, given that we have a great many useful metrics for say cubic capacity, it should come as no surprise that when we look at different aspects of he underlying matter, we can come up with various useful metrics. So also, if the next objection is that the hyperskeptics demand a biological value of Dembski’s CSI metric as described, let us note that he provided a rough value long since, and that the Durston et al FSC metric pivots in part on a way to identify the class of similar function for the particular cases of interest. (While I am at it, functionally specified complex information [FSCI] is a linking concept between the two: CSI where the specification is based on the criterion of required function.) Bottomline: if selectively hyperskeptical objection is your game, any particular feature that strikes your fancy can be turned into a dismissive argument. the problem is that such selective hyperskepticism is inherently self-referentially inconsistent and in some cases outright hypocritical.

  370. PPS: By contrast, let us reflect briefly on a better path:

    Science, at its best, is the unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive and fearless pursuit of the truth about our world, based on empirical observation, evidence, analysis and discussion among the informed.

    And of course, the “informed” are not to be equated to the self-selecting guild of “peers” that produced the sort of a priori materialistic censorship on truth-seeking we have just highlighted, and which lies at the heart of the distorted pseudo-consensus that is now unravelling thanks to the Climategate scandal.

  371. PPPS: Let’s do a little editing:

    The use of evidence to construct [ever more adequate, empirically] testable explanations and predictions of natural [observable] phenomena, as well as the [resulting inherently provisional and progressive body of] knowledge generated through this process.

    Sounds familiar? It should:

    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]

    And, the KSES 2005 definition of science so derided and dismissed by the NAS, NSTA, NSCE etc and their propagandistic, Plato’s Cave shadow show media amplifiers, aptly reads:

    Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.

    We been had, folks . . .

  372. StephenB:

    You entire analysis is flawed because you didn’t reason properly from the definitions that you were given and because you injected irrelevant subject matter into the discussion.

    Sigh. It is not irrelevent, it is an example, Stephen. It is meant as a figurative representation used to illustrate a point in such a way to make the point more easily comprehensible. But, I suppose you are right that I have failed in that regard, though not quite in the manner you believe.

    By your reasoning, the term “Extraterrestial intelligence” cannot be defined because it is not yet been shown to exist. You really need to give up this line of reasoning, because it makes no sense.

    That is not what I am saying, Stephen. That is not even close to what I am saying. It isn’t in the ballpark. It ain’t the same league, it ain’t even the same sport. Let me try again, going slower this time.

    What I am saying is that any definition used in a scientific inquiry needs to be neutral vis-a-vis any eventual conclusion of that inquiry. If it is not neutral then the investigator runs the risk of drawing improper conclusions.

    Here comes another example, Stephen. Defining extra-terrestrial as “an intelligent life form not native to our planet” is reasonably neutral. Defining extra-terrestrial as “an intelligent, non-humanoid life form not native to our planet” is definitely not neutral. The investigator has front-loaded the conclusion that extra-terrestrials are not humanoid into his definition. And that may come back to bite him later when presented with a curious humanoid life form. Again, that was an example illustrate my point. I am not trying to debate the proper definition of extra-terrestrial, okay? I’m not suggesting extraterrestrials may be humanoid. It is an example. No need to be literal here.

    What Mustela, Adel, and I have been trying to show is the same flaw exists in your definitions.

    The irony is that while you set impossible and unreasonable standards for your adversary’s definitions, you consider yourself exempt from the intellectual task of providing definitions for your own position.

    Actually, I did, as did Mustela and Adel. I even agreed to work through it with you, but you walked away from that conversation. However, I can see now that discussion was premature. There is an even more fundamental issue we need to work through. So, before we move on, let’s do that. Do you agree, Stephen, that a definition should be neutral and not bias the course of the inquiry?

  373. —efren ts: “Actually, I did, as did Mustela and Adel. I even agreed to work through it with you, but you walked away from that conversation.”

    No, you agreed to ask a series of irrelevant questions as a strategy for avoiding the intellectual task of defining a “natural cause.” There is, therefore, nothing to work through. You cannot defend methodological naturalism nor nor will you even try. As I have stated countless times, all your promises to do so in the future are empty and are obviously calculated to buy time.

    Indeed, you have wasted a great deal of everyone’s time by trying to take control of a discussion and reframe the issue of the post.
    In the meantime, why would I or anyone else be interested in your perception of what constitutes a good definition when your are not capable of providing one when called upon to do so?

  374. vjtorley @290 said:
    “On a neural level, what probably happens when an agent decides to raise his/her arm is this: the arm goes through a large number of micro-level muscular movements (tiny twitches) which are randomly generated at the quantum level. The agent tries all these out over a very short interval of time (a fraction of a second) before selecting the one which feels right – namely, the one which matches the agent’s desire to raise his/her arm. This selection continues during the time interval over which the agent raises his/her arm. The wrong (randomly generated quantum-level) micro-movements are continually filtered out by the agent.”

    Thank you for this explanation. I have often wondered if my pets would go with me to heaven, and your answer suggests to me that perhaps they will. For their minds surely also go through the same steps you outline here, say, for example, when they choose to go from one place to another and have to move their limbs to achieve this aim. So they must have souls, too – which I think anyone who has a pet would agree with.

    Anyway, thank you very much. I am comforted this night, and will sleep well.

  375. Onlookers:

    Now we see very clearly from 372 what ET means when he says that a definition improperly loads in an assumption:

    Defining extra-terrestrial as “an intelligent life form not native to our planet” is reasonably neutral. Defining extra-terrestrial as “an intelligent, non-humanoid life form not native to our planet” is definitely not neutral. The investigator has front-loaded the conclusion that extra-terrestrials are not humanoid into his definition.

    Now, let us first notice: when a REAL case of question-begging definition is at stake — albeit one ET had to manufacture — he is perfectly capable of contrasting a reasonable definition with an unreasonable one.

    But, surprise: when it comes to his assertion that Design thinkers define nature in a question-begging way, we find nowhere the faintest trace of a cogent alternative definition, save for the US NAS’ plainly question-begging and loaded definition as discussed in 369.

    Thus, the evidence strongly points to the truth being that the real question-begging on defining what “nature” is, is on the part of evolutionary materialism advocates.

    Up to and including the US National Academy of Sciences.

    So, let’s cut this here as a short and sharp part 1, summary response

    [ . . . ]

  376. Going further, part 2:

    Translation: if a definition goes where ET would not (with the hidden background agenda: evolutionary materialism, as shown in 369) then ET [et al] will assert that it is question-begging.

    So, to correct:

    Let us first revisit the Collins English Dictionary definition (e.g. 216 above) that ET et al clearly seem ever so eager to avoid:

    naturen

    1. the fundamental qualities of a person or thing; identity or essential character

    2. (often capital, esp when personified) the whole system of the existence, arrangement, forces, and events of all physical life that are not controlled by man

    3. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Biology) all natural phenomena and plant and animal life, as distinct from man and his creations

    4. a wild primitive state untouched by man or civilization

    For the record:

    a –> It is clear above that natural is distinguished from artificial, and that that which is natural traces to the spontaneous playing out of chance and mechanical necessity on creation in its undisturbed, pristine or even unspoilt state (or at least on aspects of the behaviour of observable objects and processes that trace to the action of such laws of chance and necessity).

    b –> By contrast, the artificial is contrasted with the natural, here illustrated by intelligent human action.

    c –> That such contrasting patterns tracing to the spontaneous unfolding of the world around us going “of its own accord” and to the intervention of purposeful intelligence occur (as long since highlighted above) is plainly a matter of empirical fact; not question-begging assumptions or assertions.

    d –> Intelligence, in this context, can be defined (with reference to the UD Glossary and thence its source, materialism-leaning Wikipedia) as:

    Intelligence: “capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn.”

    e –> This, too, is a massively empirically supported summary of what we all know or should know.

    f –> Moreover, it is well known that natural regularities tracing to mechanical necessity, undirected contingency tracing to stochastic random processes, and art tracing to purposefully directed contingency leave characteristic signs, which may be identified and studied; i.e. the project of design theory as “the science that studies signs of intelligence” is scientifically legitimate, empirically rooted, non-question-begging and in fact fruitful. [As any forensic fire investigator will tell you, or as the owners of Las Vegas' gaming establishments will tell us, or the pharmaceutical researchers, or agriculturalists studying treatment vs control plots, or even Seti researchers.]

    g –> Now, too, let us see the same dictionary on the term preferred by evo mat advocates in their contrast natural vs supernatural:

    b>supernaturaladj
    1. of or relating to things that cannot be explained according to natural laws

    2. characteristic of or caused by or as if by a god; miraculous

    3. of, involving, or ascribed to occult beings

    4. exceeding the ordinary; abnormal

    n the. supernatural forces, occurrences, and beings collectively or their realm

    h –> In each case, we see that the supernatural relates to the miraculous, i.e. wondrous signs that point to the possibility or reality of actions by intelligent beings of an order of existence beyond the physical cosmos.

    i –> But if such supernatural beings exist and can act intelligently and effectively into the world, then their actions would at least some of the times leave empirical traces that would reflect signs of intelligence, and which under the relevant circumstances would point to intelligences beyond the familiar physical realm.

    j –> In short, once we can see such traces, we can study the signs of intelligence and then adddress the identification of the intelligences in question on inference to best explanation in light of circumstances.

    (And as for the notion in the NAS’s discussion as cited at 369, that science can only study the repeatable, let us just say that: so long as the Big Bang theory, the origin of life and the origin of biodiversity and the world on which we live in the deep and unobserved past are acceptably legitimate objects of scientific study, science can and does address the non-repeatable and non-observable, in light of observable traces.)

    k –> On functionally specific complex organisation and underlying information as a credible sign of intelligence, we can see that cell based life with its DNA digitally coded information storage system and associated algorithmic, language based processes and molecular machines, is a strong sign that cell based life was designed.

    l –> Similarly, the fine-tuned, C-chemistry, cell based life supporting physics of the observed cosmos point to intelligent design as a serious — and arguably the best — candidate explanation, per empirical traces and signs of intelligence.

    m –> And on the obvious link between the two, it is at least plausible to suggest that he intelligences involved are closely linked.

    n –> BANG: Methodological Naturalism weighs in — how dare you infer to the “supernatural”! Verboten! Out! You are expelled, your reputation is ruined, and we will see to it that you cannot get funding, you fundy dummy!

    o –> But, why? ANS: We cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    p –> Why? ANS: “anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.”

    q –> Why, then did Newton — that fundy dummy — write as follows in his general Scholium to the Principia in which he presented Gravitation theory, his laws of motion and the first major scientific application of the Calculus [though he often hid this under a geometrical guise]? Namely:

    . . . This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One . . . .

    This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God pantokrator , or Universal Ruler . . . from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being . . .

    r –> In short, the actual founders of modern science saw themselves as “thinking God’s thoughts after him,” and had confidence in the existence of an intelligible, orderly cosmos precisely because they believes in the Creator-God who is the God of reason and order not confusion. (Indeed, one of the relevant terms for the Creator-God is “Logos,” reason and/or Communication Himself.)

    s –> So, Lewontin et al are simply ignorant of the history of science, and indeed of the actual concept of the miraculous. As, for a miracle to stand out as a sign pointing beyond the physical cosmos to an act of a different order, it has to occur in a generally predictable and orderly cosmos.

    t –> That is, this is a strawman distractor.

    u –> And, of course, once someone has mentioned God or the like from our side, evo mat advocates will jump to their favourite strawman on how we are building in the supernatural as a question-begging assumption, fists balled up to pummel away. (Never mind the blatant hypocrisy of shouting that while plainly and demonstrably improperly building in atheism into the very definition of science. Motive mongering cuts both ways, so the only real answer is to address the merits . . . )

    v –> But the accusation is nonsense. Above, we have been careful to anchor explanations on the empirically observed pattern of material [chance + necessity] and intelligent [design] causal factors and their reliable empirical traces.

    w –> From that, we can see that in key case no 1, cell based life and its origins, the signs point to intelligent causes, but do not allow us to discern the likely causes as physical [intra-cosmic] or extra-cosmic [supernatural]. And this has been noted explicitly since the very first modern design theory technical work, Thaxton et al’s the Mystery of Life’s Origin, in 1984. (So we have been dealing with a slanderous strawman all along.)

    x –> It is when we come tot he implications of the evidence that points to a finitely old observable cosmos, and the fine-tuned physics it exhibits as a context that supports C-chemistry, cell based intelligent life, that we see that the circumstances of the observed signs of intelligence point beyond the observable physical cosmos to a powerful extracosmic, deeply intelligent creator. One who seems rather friendly to the project to create such life.

    y –> And indeed, when the Big bang theory was first proposed, one of the objections to it boiled down to the repugnance felt at the point where a beginning might just point to a Begin-ner.

    z –> The big problem with that? It was unacceptable to the materialists (who have laboured long and hard to blunt that invitation since the evidence pointed decisively to it in the 1960′s).

    ___________

    The more things change, the more they remain the same . . .

    GEM of TKI

  377. StephenB”

    o, you agreed to ask a series of irrelevant questions as a strategy for avoiding the intellectual task of defining a “natural cause.” There is, therefore, nothing to work through.

    How would you know they are irrelevant since you refused to answer any of them,thus ending the discussion? You are many things, Stephen, but I am pretty sure clairvoyant is not one of them.

    Indeed, you have wasted a great deal of everyone’s time by trying to take control of a discussion and reframe the issue of the post.
    In the meantime, why would I or anyone else be interested in your perception of what constitutes a good definition when your are not capable of providing one when called upon to do so?

    Actually, I provided a definition of nature on Monday and we could have built other definitions and on to conclusions from there. We could have been done by now, except for your unwllingness to answer.

    In the meantime, why would I or anyone else be interested in your perception of what constitutes a good definition when your are not capable of providing one when called upon to do so?

    There is flaw in your definition that will taint any conclusion any definition that is built upon it. If the day comes that you take your argument beyond the confines of Uncommon Descent, you will here about that flaw over and over and over again. You might say I am trying to do you a favor.

    Do you agree, Stephen, that a definition should be neutral and not bias the course of the inquiry?

  378. Onlookers:

    Meanwhile, a REAL case of important question-begging definition is studiously ignored in the rush to accuse StephenB of question-begging definition. . . .

    Just to remind us, let us again edit that NAS definition of Science for “neutrality”:

    The use of evidence to construct [ever more adequate, empirically] testable explanations and predictions of natural [observable] phenomena, as well as the [resulting inherently provisional and progressive body of] knowledge generated through this process.

    Sauce for the goose . . .

    GEM of TKI

    PS: I tracked down ET’s definition of nature in 146 supra:

    Fien, nature is the physical world which can be studied, tested, and understood through sensory observation.

    In short, ET is clearly building in an assumption that all that happens in “the physical world” — which, let us be generous, and infer from his following that he means the observed common world of experience of material objects in action [as phusis means, "nature" i.e. his terms are strictly circular] — is in principle reducible to law and chance in an evolutionary materialistic context. Otherwise, he would have no objection to highlighting that signs of intelligence are observable and testable as distinct from those of chance and/or necessity. 9he seems to be of the ill-founded opinion that we cannot differentiate such signs, and/or that intelligence will reduce to chance + necessity. Of course, that has to be SHOWN not merely assumed or asserted; and MN has the — plainly intended — effect of ducking that intellectual duty.)

  379. PPS: Stephen, in the original post, observed by contrast:

    This natural/supernatural dichotomy on which MN stands plunges Darwinists [and TEs, for that matter] in intellectual quicksand on yet another front, leaving them only one of two options:

    [A] Methodological naturalism conflates all immaterial, non-natural causes, such as Divine intelligence, superhuman intelligence, and human intelligence, placing them all in the same category. Using that formulation, the paragraph I just wrote, assuming that I have a mind, was a supernatural event, which means I am a supernatural cause, —yet if I have no mind, that would mean that my brain was responsible, which would suddenly reduce me to a natural cause. This is where the Darwinists take the easy way out by simply declaring that there are no immaterial minds, while the TE’s split their brains in two pieces trying to make sense of it.

    Or,

    [B] Methodological naturalism defines all things that are not “supernatural” as natural, placing human cognition, human volition, earthquakes, and tornadoes in the same category. Indeed, everything is then classified as a natural cause—everything. So, whatever caused Hurricane Katrina is the same kind of cause that generated my written paragraph because, as the Darwinists instruct us, both things occurred “in nature,” whatever that means. So, if all causes are natural, then there is no way of distinguishing the cause of all the artifacts found in ancient Pompei from the cause of the volcano that buried them. Indeed, by that standard, the archeologist cannot even declare that the built civilization of Pompei ever existed as a civilization, since the apparent evidence of human activity may well not have been caused by human activity at all. The two kinds of causes are either substantially different or they are not. If they are different, as ID rightly insists, then those differences can be identified. If they are not different, as the Darwinists claim, then those differences cannot be identified, which means that whatever causes a volcano to erupt is comparable to whatever caused Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to erupt.

    By contrast, ID scientists point to three causes, all of which can be observed and identified: Law, chance, and agency. Once we acknowledge that point, everything falls into place. [That is, we have material causes tracing to one or more of chance and necessity, and intelligent causes that trace to design or art, so we need only contrast the "natural" in the law and or chance sense with the "artificial"] It would be so much easier to avoid all this nonsense, drop the intrusive rule of methodological naturalism, and simply concede the obvious point: Since only the scientist knows which research question he is trying to answer, only the scientist can decide which method or methods are appropriate for obtaining that answer.

    Seems that what is going on here is that in defense of an imposed question-begging agenda of materialism, the magisterium and its advocates down to blog commenters are indulging the well-known tactics of turnabout accusation and burden of proof shifting. Which fallacies, sadly, are often effective. So, let us mark the contrast again shown in 369 above, in which an EMPIRICALLY based ladder of reasoning is made, which clearly shows that to start from the observation of law, chance and intelligence, then see how far that goes without assuming more than that whatever intelligence is it is similar to what we know from our own human experience. (And note, only on the subject that the evo mat advocates simply will not take up is there an inference that definitively points beyond the observed physical cosmos. But since the observed cosmos credibly had a beginning and shows strong signs of fine tuned complex functionally specific organisation, it has an intelligent cause; which obviously is antecedent to the matter we see in the cosmos.)

  380. Pardon: 375 – 6 not 369.

  381. StephenB:

    Thus, we could define the various kinds of causes as NATURAL [law, chance, or a combination of the two] and INTELLIGENT [(a) Animal, (b) Human, (c) Superhuman [including the possibility of immaterial angels (good and bad) and the possibility of a material principle], and finally (d) Divine God]. This would seem to cover all the bases and everyone would know exactly what is being alluded to.

    The problem here is that the way you define them, NATURAL and INTELLIGENT are mutually exclusive, whereas many others take the view that INTELLIGENT is in fact a subset of NATURAL. If this is indeed the case, your definitions and the arguments following from them are fatally flawed.

    Legions of philosophers have argued about this very point for thousands of years without having reached a consensus, or even agreement on a possible method by which consensus could be reached even in principle. I am sure you know this as well as we all do, so pretending that these questions are settled in any way is rather disingenious. Why don’t you propose definitions that are acceptable to all parties in the discussion, irrespective of their pre-existing philosophical disposition?

    One established way of doing that is to offer operational definitions. I have offered the operational definition that NATURAL = ‘anything not made by man’. This is an easy one to use: if we can establish that an entity is made by man it is non-natural; If we can establish that it is not made by man it is natural. If we don’t know for certain if it is man-made or not, we could assign a probability of it being natural or not, depending on its likely provenance.

    Operational definitions of INTELLIGENT come in many forms, reflecting the fact that the concept is quite fuzzy and may not be a single simple phenomenon at all. Point is, until we understand its origins it really won’t do to define it as something different from ‘law, chance or a combination of the two’

    fG

  382. Oh yes:

    In 375, I highlighted how ET is fully capable of showing a contrast between a question-begging and a non question begging definition.

    And that makes SB’s point: definitions provide explanations of what is meant by a term, and so are properly antecedent to argument about the quality of the relevant definition.

    However, when called on to clearly identify what he MEANS when he says “natural” and “natural cause” etc, ET has been very coy indeed.

    (Notice how I had to track back up to 146 to find the closest thing to a definition, which was rather incomplete — apart from in context of his objections to the design inference etc, strongly suggesting that he is advocating evolutionary materialism (but is not confident he can explicitly defend it) — and which could easily enough have been quoted or restated any number of times.)

    The obvious explanation of that is that a rhetorical agenda is afoot, to try to twist the thread around to try to suggest that the design inference is ill-founded without having to sit down fairly and squarely at the table of comparative difficulties on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

    (For instance observe how there is no serious addressing of the point that we do routinely observe chance, law and design in action, and that there are strong, well tested empirically warranted signs of design. [the failure to see that Durston et al’s 35 published values of functionally specified complex information for protein families is a particular case of complex specified information is an apt example.)

    All of this comes across as the rhetorical tactics of an established order that is confident in its power and ability to dominate means of persuasion, but not at all so confident on the merits of its case.

    And judging by the NAS’ loaded definition of science and failure to elucidate fairly what they mean by “nature” as they impose methodological naturalism to counter the possibility that — horror of horrors — some students or teachers or scientists might want to do science in a worldview similar to that of Newton, Pascal, Maxwell, Linnaeus, Pasteur etc — the rot goes all the way to the top.

    Or is it that as the Caribbean folk saying goes: fish does rot from de head.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  383. FG:

    You have it exactly the wrong way around. That is it is you — not StephenB — who are unfortunately begging the questions.

    We OBSERVE law, chance and intelligence in action as causal factors. So, we can identify characteristic signs that mark each, as they affect aspects of objects or phenomena.

    Then, once we have reasonably well tested, empirically credible signs, we may then recognise the signified from its reliable sign in fresh cases where we do not have direct observational access. (Similar to how this morning I recognised a cat’s track in the fresh volcanic ash from yesterday evening’s deposits.)

    So far one has not made ANY metaphysical commitments on the origins or essential nature of any of the signs. (And, believe me, there are many possibilities.)

    Then, once we see that for instance signs of intelligence include functionally specific complex information we can see that at the heart of cell based life, we have FSCI, e.g. in the DNA. So, we know — or should know — per reliable sign [lucky noise does not credibly create upwards of 500 k bits of functionally specific, algorithmic information and the executing machinery, due to overwhelming lack of probabilistic resources, on the gamut of the observed cosmos], that cell based life is designed.

    One can construct elaborate evasive arguments to blunt that inference to best explanation, but on a fair comparison they will collapse.

    Now, that has not implied that such life is the product of God or the Devil or some Yadabaoth etc for that matter. It is possible that it is the product of a prior physically based life form in our observed cosmos.

    However, once we look to the cosmos itself, we see that the observed universe shows signs of functionally specific, fine tuned, organised complex functionality.

    Onsigns of intelligence that points to an intelligent designer of the cosmos, one obviously beyond the matter-energy world we inhabit.

    But the reasoning is by inference to best explanation across competing possibilities — material cause [per chance + mechanical necessity and associated natural regularities and stochastic patterns and dominance of the statistical weight of non functional microstates in the configuration spaces of interest] vs intelligent cause [per signs of intelligence] — not by a priori assumption of God the Creator then deducing the consequences and trying to see which one fits.

    indeed, the only metaphysical assumption of consequence is one that any fair minded person will acknowledge: intelligence is a possible causal factor [as opposed to a priori ruled out ahead of time by Lewontinian fiat], and so we can trust signs to point to it.

    G’day.

    GEM of TKI

  384. PS: We need to correct: NATURAL = ‘anything not made by man’ [intelligent design].

  385. OOPS: NATURAL = ‘anything not made by man’[intelligent design]. (We have no grounds for inferring that we exhaust the list of intelligences.)

  386. efren ts (353):
    “I will note a couple of things in preview. There are a number of points in your response where you are inserting into your argument as fact the very points under contention.”

    Ok, I will await patiently for you to point those out.

    efrents:
    “Second, the CSI calculation you pointed me to assumes a de novo creation, which is clearly fallacious.”

    This, as well as almost every other argument against CSI that I can think of, as argued by Mustela at the time, has been addressed (quite adequately I believe) in the links to my other comments that I included in that comment that you are kind of responding to. I hope I just made sense there. IOW, just check the links that I posted and you’ll see where I’ve already responded to “arguments against CSI.”

    Or, more simply, you could just refute the ID hypothesis that law+chance won’t produce CSI by merely pointing to a computer simulation that generates CSI absent any intelligent input — programming in the present to set up for results in the future.

    Or just show that organized CSI (as I’ve explained in that link I’ve posted about 9 times now) such as the sequence of nucleotides in DNA or the sequence of letters in this comment can be defined by either law or chance.

    Until then, that particular ID hypothesis re: CSI is standing just fine.

    efren ts:
    “Further, there are a number of other defects, as pointed out by commenters on that, and associated, discussions that remain unresolved.”

    Not that I could find. Care to bring any specific defect forward. BTW I hate having to repeat myself so if you could point to the comment that refutes my position, I’ll see if I can find a comment of mine which adequately addresses the point and then we can go from there.

    However, again, even if there were “defects” with CSI, it is still a straight forward calculation, it is observed to be generated by intelligence, and no one has yet to show that it can be generated by law+chance. That alone, is adequate for an hypothesis — observation, potential falsifiability, testability with computer simulation, foundation in mathematics.

    efron ts:
    “I will certainly congratulate you on attempting such a calculation. You stand ahead of many of your peers, in that regard.”

    I sincerely thank you, however, like I mentioned Dembski already provided a similar rough calculation of the bac flag in NFL, and KF has posted another group of researchers who have made a list of calculations of biological material utilizing calculations which are extremely similar to CSI.

    Unfortunately, though, I’m going to have to point out that you still have not provided a definition of “natural” that allows “methodological naturalism” to be useful in science while excluding ID Theory from being considered as scientific. That is one of the main points of this thread after all — and we are almost 400 comments in.

  387. —-efren ts: “How would you know they are irrelevant since you refused to answer any of them,thus ending the discussion?

    That statement is obviously not true.

    @206 you asked,”Do you agree that humans have a physical form and exist in the physical world? Yes or no.”

    I answered, “Yes. Do you see how easy it is to give a straight answer to a straight question?”

    Do you contend that “yes” is not an answer?

    Rather than follow up on that question, you started a new round, ignoring my request for the definition of a “natural cause,” choosing to define “nature,” conspicuously leaving out the causal element. You have been leaving it out ever since.

    Your second question read: “Based on my definition of nature as “the physical world which can be studied, tested, and understood through sensory observation,” please state unequivocally how you think what is classically defined as “artificial” comports itself with that definition.”

    How do I know what you mean by the classic definition of “artificial?” If it means, not natural, then the question answers itself: Artificial = not natural, so I will say unequivocally that Artificial = not natural. In any case, the definition of nature is not helpful since, as CYJman pointed out long ago, it relegates science to that which we already know, which is a science stopper. Further, it fails to address the real issue which is the definition that I asked for @203, namely, a “natural cause.”

    So, my two answers to your questions do not take us any closer to a “resolution” because there seemed to be no place for them to go in the first place, which would explain why the second was not related to the first.

    In the spirit of ending this thread on a positive note, however, I will answer two more follow up questions if you will provide your definition of a “natural cause.” I give one answer, you provide your definition, and then I will follow with my second answer. Do we have a deal?

  388. StephenB:

    So, my two answers to your questions do not take us any closer to a “resolution” because there seemed to be no place for them to go in the first place, which would explain why the second was not related to the first.

    Well, you have apparently not detected the design of my questions. Fret not, though, none other than our gracious host, Dr. Dembski, has stated that false negatives are a problem for the Explanatory Filter.

    The reason that the second question didn’t follow logically from the first is because it wasn’t intended to rest on top of it. No, it was intended to lay next to it as another part of the foundation I was trying to build.

    As we have progressed through this discussion, it has become obvious to me that you were only hearing what you wanted to hear, not what we were saying. Your petulant response at comment 279, which failed as both a serious synopsis and as humor, only reinforced that notion.

    It is my opinion that only by a step-wise, where we are clear that we understand each other before moving on to the next step, would progress be made. I had tried to start in that direction, when it occurred to me that you really didn’t understand how problematic your definitions were. Thus, the need to retrench some.

    In the spirit of ending this thread on a positive note, however, I will answer two more follow up questions if you will provide your definition of a “natural cause.” I give one answer, you provide your definition, and then I will follow with my second answer. Do we have a deal?

    No. In the interest of ending the discussion at a place of mutual understanding, I believe I need four questions (possibly five, if you continue to be peevish) just to demonstrate the problem with your definition. Only then can we get back to the definition I started with in comment 146. How long it will take from there is anyone’s guess.

    Honestly, at this point I don’t think we will ever get there. I am apparently late to the party and didn’t realize that all this ground had been covered before. So, since I cannot agree to your terms, I guess we are done here. If you wish to interpret my retirement as acquiescence, you are certainly welcome to. However, I would again caution that, should the day come that you take this argument beyond the borders of this blog, to the scientific community you revile so, you will here the same objections over and over again.

    In the interest of fairness, there is one matter where I think you may be onto something:

    the definition of nature is not helpful since, as CYJman pointed out long ago, it relegates science to that which we already know, which is a science stopper.

    Just the other day, on my way back from the grocery store, I saw a disheveled man at a busy intersection holding a sign that said “Will do Microbiology for food.” I am led to wonder if the NAS is desperately trying to cover up the fact that science has stopped.

  389. efren ts:
    “I am led to wonder if the NAS is desperately trying to cover up the fact that science has stopped.”

    Not at all. The reason science has not stopped is because no scientist is sticking to methodological naturalism *as you have defined it in this thread.* Simple as that. The main part of my explanation can be found at my comment #348.

  390. 390

    StephenB @367:

    —Adel DiBagno: “The dichotomy between NATURAL causes and INTELLIGENT causes renders the latter UN-Natural.”
    How would you know what a natural cause does if you do not know what a natural cause is?

    But I have explained to you that I know what a natural cause is. I have recounted the Thomistic distinction between God as Primary Cause and God’s creation as possessing Secondary Causal Power. That understanding of natural causes at least has some history behind it. Whereas your idiosyncratic dichotomy is a fabrication out of imagination. (See also faded_Glory @381.)

    —”Does StephenB consider human beings to be unnatural?”
    Human agency is a “non-natural” cause not an “unnatural” cause, the latter meaning referring to an aberration or an anomaly.
    Of course your confusion is similar to efren ts’s difficulty in the sense that you want to argue with a word without knowing what it means.

    I have checked two dictionaries for the meaning of “unnatural” and both give, as the primary meaning, “contrary to the laws or course of nature.” So you have nothing to complain about in light of your dichotomy between NATURAL and INTELLIGENT. (See again faded_Glory @381.)
    (It has been noted by others that your rhetorical style involves assertions that a person who doesn’t agree with your argument doesn’t know what the disagreement is all about – or worse, is not rational. Baseless assertions like that add not a scintilla of support for an argument.)

  391. —-efren ts: “The reason that the second question didn’t follow logically from the first is because it wasn’t intended to rest on top of it. No, it was intended to lay next to it as another part of the foundation I was trying to build.”

    Since you have stated that this is your last response, I will try to be gracious with all my answers—and brief.

    As a rule, logical order works best.

    —-As we have progressed through this discussion, it has become obvious to me that you were only hearing what you wanted to hear, not what we were saying. Your petulant response at comment 279, which failed as both a serious synopsis and as humor, only reinforced that notion.”

    I thought it was quite accurate.

    —-“It is my opinion that only by a step-wise, where we are clear that we understand each other before moving on to the next step, would progress be made. I had tried to start in that direction, when it occurred to me that you really didn’t understand how problematic your definitions were. Thus, the need to retrench some.”

    Definitions have borders, which means that good ones not only capture the essence of what one means but also what one does not mean.

    [Will you provide your definition if I answer two more questions]

    —-“No. In the interest of ending the discussion at a place of mutual understanding, I believe I need four questions (possibly five, if you continue to be peevish) just to demonstrate the problem with your definition. Only then can we get back to the definition I started with in comment 146. How long it will take from there is anyone’s guess.”

    No comment necessary.

    —-Honestly, at this point I don’t think we will ever get there. I am apparently late to the party and didn’t realize that all this ground had been covered before.

    This ground has not been covered before.

    —–“So, since I cannot agree to your terms, [what it will take to get him to provide his definition of natural cause] I guess we are done here.”

    You didn’t agree to provide the definition even on your terms [where you get to ask me five or more questions]

    —-“If you wish to interpret my retirement as acquiescence, you are certainly welcome to.”

    I have no intention of piling on. The purpose of the post was to show that there is no intellectual justification for methodological naturalism, and that the rule which informs it is incoherent. As the story goes, the scientist may study only natural causes, yet no one can tell me what “natural cause” means. My examples about Pompeii and the Burglar dramatized the point. Earlier commenters picked up on the point right away and others, such as CJYman and kairosfocus, have developed the argument very well. I encourage everyone to read their comments carefully. Methodological natururalism just doesn’t hang together.

    —-“However, I would again caution that, should the day come that you take this argument beyond the borders of this blog, to the scientific community you revile so, you will here the same objections over and over again.”

    I don’t revile the scientific community, [nice try at a strawman], but I do disdain institutional bullies who try to impose a rule that they cannot even define. In any case, we are not talking about the scientific community’s objections about ID; we are talking about my objections to MN. Emphasis on the former has been used as a means of avoiding debate about the latter.

  392. —Adel: “But I have explained to you that I know what a natural cause is. I have recounted the Thomistic distinction between God as Primary Cause and God’s creation as possessing Secondary Causal Power.”

    I have already explained that such a definition makes no sense. You have attributed a “natural cause” to God’s activity, yet methodological naturalism, which limits itself to natural causes, forbids any reference to that which you have defined as a natural cause.

    —”That understanding of natural causes at least has some history behind it.”

    I am not asking for your unique perception of history, I am asking for a reasonable definition of a natural cause that relates to the rule of methodological naturalism. No one, most notably any advocate of methodological naturalism, characterizes God’s activity as a natural cause.

    I have checked two dictionaries for the meaning of “unnatural” and both give, as the primary meaning, “contrary to the laws or course of nature.”

    Without even consulting the dictionary, I can tell you that the word natural has at least fourteen definitions.

    (It has been noted by others that your rhetorical style involves assertions that a person who doesn’t agree with your argument doesn’t know what the disagreement is all about – or worse, is not rational.)

    I have been very careful not to characterize the irrational responses on this thread as irrational.

  393. Stephen B

    In #392, you wrote to Adel:

    Yo