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Nazca lines in Peru (circa 200 BC)

Given enough time…

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110 Responses to Nazca lines in Peru (circa 200 BC)

  1. Ok, now that is definitely NOT designed …

  2. Absolutely the result of random geo-mutations and unguided natural selection.

    How? Easy! Imagine a monkey shape sensitive spot on the ground.
    Or, could have been formed by natural causes – worms + gophers + wind + random artifacts of ancient plant growth + time. It’s a designoid (Dawkins). Remember to keep reminding yourself that it isn’t designed, it evolved. (Crick)

    So there’s my just-so story and it’s a fact!!

    No intelligence is allowed, and if you don’t like it you’re a stealth religious nut creationist wacko promoting pseudo-science and trying to force religion into the classroom!!

  3. Given enough time… people will draw lines and pictures in the ground?

    Given enough time… populations will develop culture and agriculture?

    I understand, humans are intelligent, and we design things, but what exactly does this have to do with the “Theory of Intelligent Design”?

    Proof that humans are intelligent and capable of designing complicated things is not proof that all complicated things are designed by something.

    …or did you guys think God drew this picture of a monkey by reaching down to the earth with a big stick and raking it through the mud?

  4. [3]:
    Proof that humans are intelligent and capable of designing complicated things is not proof that all complicated things are designed by something.

    Have you not read the thread from yesterday, where some evo biologist is calling for the term “design” to be abandoned?

    (BTW I can turn around and attack the I.D. position as well and will do so in a moment).

    But it seems to me that evolution advocates will often implicitly accept design as being transcendent and metaphysical and yet still a valid concept, in an argument like the one you’ve just made. If this is not the case then the argument you’ve made is meaningless. If design is just a physical process describable by laws, then its really no different from any other physical process such as evolution.
    Evolutionary theorists will more than occasionally talk abouth natural laws and evolution “designing” things. So the term “design” is not applicable to evolution only if design is a metaphysical concept.

    But to return to human design, in the case of this big monkey what we know is that the designer had something equating to the image of a monkey stored in his brain previously. Think of an equivalent scenario where some graphical image is stored in a computer’s memory as perhaps a compressed or encrypted binary file. Such a file would bear no superficial or obvious relationship to the graphical image, and yet nevertheless it is algorithmically equivalent to that image. So a designed object implies the existence of something directly correlating to it that prexisted it, perhaps in a human’s brain.

    But for any object, if there was a deterministic physical process of any sort that created it, then of necessity that process (together with all necessary prexisting conditions) would be a preexisting form of the object in question, would algorithmically equate to the resulting object, i.e. f(x) = y, so f(x) is just an alternate form of y that in fact equates to y.

    But lets look at design in an evolutionary context. First a riddle: How do you make an object of an elephant? Answer: Get a block of stone and carve away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant. So a block of stone is random raw material. The intelligent designer is the carver. In an evolutionary context the block of random material would be mutations. The carver would be natural laws and the environment. But at any rate, if design is not a metaphysical process, there seems to be no reason that we cannot accurately characterize what evolution is said to do as “design” as well. So why some evolutionary theorists would implicity accept design as being a valid metaphysical concept (which they do when they distinguish it from evolution) is beyond me.

    Now to I.D. –

    At several points in the last few days I’ve seen I.D. advocates assert in this forum that we’ve move beyond CSI, and that the only thing relevant now is FCSI. However the monkey drawing and the other previous example today from DaveScot are only examples of CSI. And furthermore, just to remind everyone of what the problem with CSI is, it is that a very very long string of all 1′s would also be CSI, actually exhibit very high CSI. The reason is that it couldn’t be generated by coin flips. So the rings of Saturn also for example exhibit high CSI. And also let me remind everyone that CSI is inversely proportional to the complexity of the pattern.

  5. @3 DallanCashley:I agree this doesn’t prove anything. However you reading this proves humans are capable of design detection.

    Can somebody please tell me what this drawing represents? I see a monkey with a stick in his *** floating over a pyramid while making music with a string. The monkey is missing some fingers and toes and his tail is way to long.

    This was designed, but not by someone very intelligent.

  6. [4]: First a riddle: How do you make an object of an elephant? Answer: Get a block of stone and carve away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.

    Upon reflection, I think what evo theorists would say is that evolution isn’t design because the process did not have a plan for a human in advance for example.

    The above riddle is instructive at least to me:

    Think about a sculptor that only knows about trunks. So give him a block of stone for example and he’ll automatically carve a trunk on the end of it. Is it ruled out he couldn’t carve an elephant by chance (i.e. without any forsight of creating an elephant?) No. What if the block of stone he was given already had everything comprising an elephant (just by chance) excluding the trunk, and our sculptor without any awareness of that fact stuck a trunk on the end of this (elephant-shaped) piece of stone. So here is one way a sculpture of an elephant occurs without foresight.

    However, what if reality is such that wildly fantastic things can be stumbled upon by blind chance. That tells you something about the nature of reality, and if you subsitute the term “reality” with “God” it tells you something about the nature of God.

    The above seems profound to me, but maybe because I wrote it.

  7. Correction:
    How do you make a sculpture of an elephant? Answer: Get a block of stone and carve away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.

  8. How about posting a picture of a magnified snowflake.

    Designed by the snow gods or happened by chance?

  9. alaninnont

    How about posting a picture of a magnified snowflake.

    Designed by the snow gods or happened by chance?

    Snow flakes are algorithmically simple – they do not contain semantic information and contain no information but that which describes what they are. Snowflakes carry no functional information. They just are what they are. There are no coded instructions in a snow flake – or crystals, or rocks, or …
    DNA however, as an example of something designed, is orders of magnitude more specific and contains high algorithmically complex information. In fact mathematically equal to that of human language.
    Using snowflakes and the like is what shallow thinking folks tried to do years ago when attempting to refute design. Doesn’t work at all for very obvious reasons.

  10. JT :

    And furthermore, just to remind everyone of what the problem with CSI is, it is that a very very long string of all 1’s would also be CSI, actually exhibit very high CSI. The reason is that it couldn’t be generated by coin flips. So the rings of Saturn also for example exhibit high CSI.

    Actually no. A long string of 1′s is not CSI at all. It can be described with a very small set of instructions.
    The rings of Saturn are not CSI either. Not in the least. They are entirely describable with a small instruction set. Random spreading of whatever they are actually made of being subjected to the laws of gravity and inertia.

    That is not CSI at all. There is no mathematical equivalent to language, there are no instructions designating the steps for the assembly of anything.
    There is no coded information. There is no functionality. There are no transport, transcription, translation, cut/copy/paste, corrective mechanisms or anything at all of the kind that fit the CSI content of biological organisms. There are no machines insuring correct system state. See where this leads?
    I’m sort of describing what CSI isn’t so you can better grasp what it is.

    You need to refine your notion of what CSI is before trying to describe things that don’t contain any using it.
    Strings of 1′s don’t fit CSI anymore than the rings of Saturn, snowflakes or rocks.

  11. Borne:

    Actually no. A long string of 1’s is not CSI at all. It can be described with a very small set of instructions.

    Borne, whatever you’re describing, it is not the concept of CSI that Dembski invented.

    As JT said, Dembski’s CSI measure is inversely, not directly, proportional to the complexity of the pattern. All else being equal, a string of all 1′s has more CSI than a more complicated string. The “C” in CSI refers to the improbability of the pattern occurring (under some null hypothesis(es)), not the complexity of the pattern.

    There is no mathematical equivalent to language, there are no instructions designating the steps for the assembly of anything.
    There is no coded information. There is no functionality. There are no transport, transcription, translation, cut/copy/paste, corrective mechanisms or anything at all of the kind that fit the CSI content of biological organisms. There are no machines insuring correct system state. See where this leads?
    I’m sort of describing what CSI isn’t so you can better grasp what it is.

    You need to refine your notion of what CSI is before trying to describe things that don’t contain any using it.

    None of those are requirements for Dembski’s CSI. Your well-intentioned criticism is better directed at yourself.

  12. The monkey is poorly designed, therefore there is no designer.

  13. Snow flakes are algorithmically simple – they do not contain semantic information and contain no information but that which describes what they are. Snowflakes carry no functional information. They just are what they are. There are no coded instructions in a snow flake – or crystals, or rocks, or

    I was trying to point out that the message implied in the originally posted picture is not an absolute. There are instances such as the snowflake where organization is not the result of design.

  14. alaninnont,

    We know what you were trying to point out and we are pointing out that it’s a poor argument.

    Snowflakes contain no information. This picture does contain information. Though it may be simple it is still saying something. No one who sees it thinks it happened by itself.

  15. It wasn’t chance at all. The monkey was drawn by some of Dawkin’s intelligent aliens when they seeded earth with life billions of years ago.

  16. Yeah, yeah. Okay, I concide. But if you had been any less astute, you would have been impressed by my clever allegory.(tongue in cheek)

  17. Rob: “Your well-intentioned criticism is better directed at yourself.”

    Thanks for the ill-intentioned criticism.
    I don’t claim to be a world class expert on CSI.

    However there is nothing complex about a string of 1′s. And, while the rings of Saturn are complex they are not specified.

    There is no coded information in a string of 1′s, nor is there any algorithmic information.
    Also, did it never occur to you that other definitions of CSI exist? Where do you think Dembski got the term from? He did not invent it.

    Btw, CSI, by any definition, is not the end-all design detector. Design detection requires more than one tool.

  18. Borne:

    However there is nothing complex about a string of 1’s.

    If the string is long enough, then according to Dembski’s definition of the “C” in “CSI”, and under a uniform null hypthosis, it’s complex.

    And, while the rings of Saturn are complex they are not specified.

    “Ring” is a simple description, and it’s an identifiable shape. According to Dembski’s definition, it’s a specification.

    There is no coded information in a string of 1’s, nor is there any algorithmic information.

    CSI doesn’t require coded information, and it’s inversely proportional to the amount of algorithmic information. If you don’t like this, you should take it up with Dembski.

    Also, did it never occur to you that other definitions of CSI exist?

    What definition were you using? And why weren’t you using the definition published by the inventor of the term? JT was correct according to Dembski’s definition of CSI. Why does he need to refine his notion of CSI just because your definition doesn’t match Dembski’s?

    Where do you think Dembski got the term from? He did not invent it.

    Yes he did. Obviously, the terms complex, specified, and information pre-existed Dembski’s work, but the ID term CSI, with “complex” meaning improbable and “specified” meaning simply describable, is Dembski’s invention.

    Btw, CSI, by any definition, is not the end-all design detector.

    Tell that to Dembski. He claims that it’s the sole means for detecting design.

  19. —–Rob: “As JT said, Dembski’s CSI measure is inversely, not directly, proportional to the complexity of the pattern. All else being equal, a string of all 1’s has more CSI than a more complicated string. The “C” in CSI refers to the improbability of the pattern occurring (under some null hypothesis(es)), not the complexity of the pattern.”

    Rob, is it clear to me that you do not even begin to grasp the concept of CSI, let alone it’s subset FSCI. I don’t think it is fair for you to continue throwing thumbtacks along the highway hoping that someone will get a flat time. Somehow, you labor under the misconception that persistent mindless criticism of a proposition constitutes a refutation. It doesn’t

  20. AT 18. Call that a flat “tire”

  21. Here is another interesting little quote from Intelligent Design 101.

    “For example we know that intelligent agents use funcitonal components to work in different systems. An everyday example might be the use of wheels on both cars and airplanes. This is explained by design theorists Jonathan Wells and Paul Nelson. “An Intelligent Cause may resuse or redeploy the same module in different systems, without there being any material or physical connection between those systems. Even more simply, intelligent agents can generate identical patterns independently. Intelligent Design may lead us to expect that functioning parts, such as genes, might appear in different organisms.”

    INTELLIGENT DESIGN 101

  22. StephenB:

    Rob, is it clear to me that you do not even begin to grasp the concept of CSI, let alone it’s subset FSCI.

    I’m glad that the UD glasnost is such that everyone can offer their opinion. I mean that sincerely.

    Unfortunately, StephenB, everything I said about CSI comes straight from Dembski, as you can readily verify by reading his work. Who’s going to break the bad news to him that he doesn’t understand CSI?

  23. BTW, StephenB, this paper, which Dembski calls his “most up-to-date treatment of CSI”, is all you need to read. If, after reading it, you think that I’ve mischaracterized Dembski’s ideas in any way, then please quote the offending statement from me.

  24. Rob @21 and 22, there must be some misunderstanding. I said nothing at all about your references about Dembski, nor did I comment about your grasp of CSI. With as much humility as I can muster, I can only say that I don’t know what you are talking about? I have written no posts today.

  25. [22]

    I’ve had that same paper out this morning. I have not intention of labelling Dembski and idiot or charlatan which would certainly not be accurate.
    In other posts I believe I clarified where the paper seems to me to have value. I continue to look at the paper from time to time, with the thought, that somehow, I truly am missing something crucial , and that buried deep in some piece of text that I perused to quickly is the one sentence that is going to open my eyes.

    But on the subject of a string of all 1′s for example:

    On page 16 begins the formal section of the paper: “This intuitive characterization of specification now needs to be formalized…” The very first example he alludes to in this formal section of the paper, on the very next page, is a binary string of all 1′s. The next example given is the bacterial flagellum, i.e. “bidirectional rotary motor driven propeller”. The next examples are of card hands, “single pair” “full-house” “royal-flush” etc.

    Then in the 1st addendum he makes the following remark: “With specifications, the key to overturning chance is to keep the descriptive complexity of patterns low.”

    There is another question (unrelated to others expressed in this thread) reagrading the above. What if a royal flush for example wasn’t recognized as anything special in poker. Then there would be no simple term for it (as it had no meaning to humans) and thus no simple description. Its description would be presumably something like 25 words not 2. So how could whether or not it occured by chance be contigent on whether it had a simple description to speakers of the English.”

  26. JT:

    I have not intention of labelling Dembski and idiot or charlatan which would certainly not be accurate.

    And just to make my position clear, I don’t have that intention either. I described CSI exactly in accord with Dembski’s writings, and StephenB said that I don’t even begin to grasp CSI. So I completed the syllogism by concluding that Dembski doesn’t understand CSI either. Reductio ad absurdum.

    Being the honorable fellow that he is, I’m sure that StephenB will tell me what I said that he disagrees with, or retract his charge of “mindless criticism”.

  27. Rob:

    “And just to make my position clear, I don’t have that intention either.”

    Quite right.
    My comments were directed more at the general audience here rather than you specifically.

    The way I tend to restate his ideas makes them seem kind of stupid, (because simple patterns are all over nature) and I do hold out hope occasionally that I’m missing something.

    The core problem, is his uncritical acceptance of a third category of causality which can be appealed to. Just that category by itself is invoking the supernatural, which makes large portions of his presentation superfluous (if everyone already agrees this supernatural category of causality exists as he implies).

    But I think all of the above has been generally understood for a long time.

    But that there are certain things that pure randomness simply cannot achieve it seems to me he has made a pretty coherent case for.

  28. —-Rob: “Being the honorable fellow that he is, I’m sure that StephenB will tell me what I said that he disagrees with, or retract his charge of “mindless criticism”.

    I agree that the charge of “mindless criticism” is grossly unfair and borderline rude. As it turns out, though, I did not make that charge nor did I write that post @18. I noticed those comments as well, but I have no idea how they appeared there or how they arranged themselves into such an insulting formulation. Please stop accusing me of that which I did not do.

  29. StephenB, the thread is still young, so you have plenty of time to justify my faith in your integrity.

  30. StephenB,

    How you win a argument is if you have the last comment. Then the author of the last comment can say to himself that they have no answer to my latest mindless dribble so I have won this argument. They can go proudly off to where ever it is they proclaim their victory and celebrate.

    Their only problem is that the other commentators know that there are external judges of the contest who will decide who has won.

    StephenB, you seldom lose.

  31. Their only problem is that the other commentators know that there are external judges of the contest who will decide who has won.

    Like Judge Jones? :-)

    I’ll gladly cede StephenB the victory in any blogging debate. How is ID doing in the forums that matter? On which basis are funding and curriculum choices made: the blogosphere or the scientific literature?

  32. —-Rob: “StephenB, the thread is still young, so you have plenty of time to justify my faith in your integrity”

    Rob, let me assure you that I think those comments @18 were nothing short of outrageous. For my part, your comments about CSI on this thread have reflected a careful reading of Dembski’s latest foray into CSI and you have every right to assess the value of his arguments.

    It is in that spirit that I assure you that I don’t know what happened @18. I can only conclude that natural forces generated the posting and arranged the texture and sequence of the words. I truly regret that it worked out that way, and, frankly, I don’t understand why you don’t believe me.

  33. OK Rob, here is your retraction. I am not one to extend an exercise beyond its normal life expectancy. I did not mean those things I said @18, which, of course, means that I did not consider your comments to be mindless in any sense of the word. For my part, your comments are always welcome.

    My purpose was to take you through an exercise of CSI detection, nothing more. JT and I went through the same exercise last night, and I prodded him with about the same degree of irritation. He was a good sport, and I hope you will be too. The point of it all should be clear: We can easily distinguish between natural events and human agency, and we all do it every day.

    Two things are clear: The post cannot be explained either by “natural causes,” nor does it make any sense to characterize it as a “supernatural” event. It was what is was—a human agent generating design, causing things to happen that could not have happened otherwise. The CSI was there complete with about 700 bits of complex specified information. You separated the agent cause from natural causes, drew an inference to design, and called me to task.

  34. JT: What gives @26.

    You write, “The core problem, is his (Dembski) uncritical acceptance of a third category of causality which can be appealed to. Just that category by itself is invoking the supernatural, which makes large portions of his presentation superfluous (if everyone already agrees this supernatural category of causality exists as he implies).”

    That comment is so misguided, that it is hard to believe that you are not doing a Darwinist parody. Every prepositional and participial phrase contains an error. How did you do it?

    [A] Dembski does not accept the third category “uncritically.” Quite the contrary, he has made allowances for the possibility that “he could be wrong” using those exact words. Have you ever heard Darwinists qualify their remarks that way? Of course not. It isn’t in their “selfish genes.”

    [B] The possibility that a fourth category exists is so remote that it is scarcely worth considering, except in the spirit of admitting that science is always provisional. Plato’s commentary in the “laws” contains the first reference to the law/chance/agency paradigm. For over two thousand years philosophers and scientists have assumed that no other possible cause is likely, making it one of the safest best in the history of Western thought. Indeed, it is humorous to watch Darwinists deny agency, which is obvious, and affirm a fourth mystery category as an alternative that has no basis in anything and which can’t be imagined with sufficient clarity to be described even as a fantasy.

    [C] Once again, you invoke the “supernatural,” characterizing all agency independent of law and chance as “supernatural,” as if a human agent could not produce CSI, a typical Darwinist blunder. That you would make such a statement at all is problematic, but to do it immediately after the FAQ on the natural/supernatural dichotomy suggests a firm resolve on your part to misrepresent the ID paradigm for as long as you can get away with it.

  35. R0b and others:

    Again the discussion about CSI and FSCI, and again the Denbski paper! Well, R0b, I think that the concept of FSCI must be really uncomfortable for you and for all darwinists, if you insist to find refuge in the usual useless criticism of the concept of CSI.

    Let’s try to be simple, and leave Dembski out of this discussion for a moment. I have already stated that many darwinists seem to be more Dembski dependent than any of us in the ID field.

    The fundamental concept is very simple: specification is any pattern which can be recognized by a conscious intelligent being as a possible product of design, of the teleological activity of another conscious intelligent being. Can we agree on this very simple and universal concept?

    So, let’s go to the sequence of 1s. Can that be a specification? Yes, because that kind of compressibility is easily recognized by a conscious intelluigent agent, but that kind of specification can seriously be considered as a mark of design only if we can exclude that a law of necessity is its cause, and if we are sure that it came out in a system where only true randomness or design could have created it. In a system which seems truly random, only a conscious intelligent agent who interferes with the system could create a very long sequence of 1s. But a very long sequence of 1s can well be generated by a system based on necessity: if a coin is such that it can only give 1, and not 0, than any sequence will be a sequence of 1s. That would be the result of necessity.

    The same is true for Saturn’s rings: if theìr form can be explained by laws of necessity, there is no reason to think of design. It is very simple.

    Let’s go to analogic specification, like specific forms in drawings, Mount Rushmore, and so on. Nobody has ever denied that those analogic forms can be specifications. If they are well recognizable as specific forms, they are specifications. But the analogic nature of the form makes more difficult both the strict definition of the specification (how defined the form should be) and the computation of the complexity. That’s the main reason why here wqe are not so interested in analogic specifications. Another important reason is that analogic specifications are not so important in biology.

    In biology, as we all know, the important case is functional specification. I cannot understand why you and all other darwinists go on avoiding that concept. Indeed, I think I understand even too well. That concept is comnpletely simple and powerful, and that’s why you don’t like it.

    Go to Uniprot, or to any other protein database, and look at the section: “Function”, for any known protein. You will find one, or more than one function, listed for each protein which has been studied enough to know it. Functions. Proteins have functions. And it’s not IDists who say that. We are not the authors of Uniprot. It’s biologists who say that. Functions.

    And functions are specifications. They are easily recognized by conscious intelligent agents, and they can easily be conceived as the teleological product of a design process by another conscious intelligent agent. That’s what functions are in the world of human artifacts: machines, language, software programs. Except… except, it seems, in living beings, in the biological world: we see a lot of functions there, but just thinking that they are really intended as functions is not allowed, it is a fundamental sin. Better avoid even the word “design”: it is corruption personified.

    And so, better not discuss the obvious FSCI that is everywhere in the biological world: in DNA, in proteins, in biological machines, and so on. Because, you see, that information has too many simple characteristics: it is digital, it is symbolic, it is functional, it is computable… so, why discuss it? It is probably an abstute trick created by religious fanatics, better avoid discussing it.

    So, let’s go back to the safer discussions about sequences of 1s, and compressibility, and mathemathics, and so on: after all, even if we reach no final certainty, those issues are by far more comfortable, regarding things which have no immediate relationship with biology.

    After all, protein genes are not sequences of one nucleotide, and they are not compressible. So, let’s just forget that they are functional and complex, and the trick is done.

  36. StephenB:
    Dembski does not accept the third category “uncritically.” Quite the contrary, he has made allowances for the possibility that “he could be wrong” using those exact words.

    I have never seen anywhere him make such a statement. You’re going to have to provide the full context.

  37. Plato’s commentary in the “laws” contains the first reference to the law/chance/agency paradigm

    The example Dembski always uses is that French philosopher. I would have remembered if I had seen the Plato example, so chapter and verse on that would be great as well. But then Plato probably believed in humours and blood-letting too.

  38. JT and ROb.

    I wish that you would please give me the context that these 1s are coming from. One of you (I think JT) mentioned that if it were from a penny then it would probably be evidence of design. But where in nature do you find this long series of 1s?
    Maybe having a long series of 1s is evidence of design.

  39. I think that one of StephenB’s mistakes is assuming that a long series of 1s and the rings of Saturn could not be evidence of design. I mean, I don’t know, but if it does fit the definition of CSI then maybe there is a chance they are evidence of design. I would like to know more about this FCSI concept too

  40. Collin [37]:

    You were the first one to mention the word “penny” in this thread and I can’t remember ever having an occasion to mention that term in the entire time I’ve been posting here. But you certainly find very long repetitive patterns in nature (along with other types of patterns) as any I.D. advocate would agree.

    I do remember a couple of weeks ago pointing out that the design inference says that if you see a long series of 1′s and no mechanism is apparent to you to have caused this, then you were justified in infering design, and it seems clear it does imply that, not that I agree with it (Nor do I agree with an ontological distinction between design and any other physical process.)

  41. —-JT: “The example Dembski always uses is that French philosopher. I would have remembered if I had seen the Plato example, so chapter and verse on that would be great as well. But then Plato probably believed in humours and blood-letting too.”

    JT, your statements are getting sillier and sillier. Now read the statement that I made in the previus post word for word:

    “Plato’s commentary in the “laws” contains the first reference to the law/chance/agency paradigm. For over two thousand years philosophers and scientists have assumed that no other possible cause is likely, making it one of the safest best in the history of Western thought.”

    Do you see Dembski’s name in there anywhere?

  42. Colin,

    FCSI or FSCI depending on how you spell it is complex information that specifies something else that has a function.

    The best example is language where the letters and words, complex information, specifies something else that has a function. Namely the concept in your head as you read or hear the words. Nouns specify objects or actions etc. Verbs specify actions or states etc. Adjectives, adverbs and other parts of speech modify the actions and objects etc.

    Another example is computer software, where a line of code, the complex information, specifies a hardware and software step, that has a function. For example, print this page of information causes an electronic stream of data to go to the printer and cause the printer to create an image on a piece of paper..

    The third example is DNA, the complex information, that specifies a protein through a transcription and translation process. And these proteins have a function.

    These are the only three examples known to us. The first two are of human origin. The third is of unknown origin.

    No place in nature does this phenomena happen except for life and the two human examples. So what is the origin of the FCSI of the DNA? Nature does not exhibit the power to generate this type of information. Intelligence does have the capability and has done this for probably millions of years. So the conclusion is that the origin of DNA likely has an intelligent origin.

    The Darwinist claim that the origin of DNA absolutely has a natural origin and that an intelligent origin is impossible. Something they might justify if there was just one example of this happening in nature. But there isn’t any. Such an absolute claim seems unwarranted given the lack of empirical evidence.

    I am sure this could be expressed better but it is a simple and easily understood concept. As I type this FSCI is happening both in terms of language and computer software which creates the image on the screen.

    As gpuccio says, the Darwinist don’t like it because of what it means and they have no answer for it. The dumb ID rubes have got the super smart Darwinists boxed into a corner with logic and facts and they don’t know how to get out of it.

  43. StephenB [40]:

    Here’s Plato’s Laws.

    Now go find what it is you’re talking about. The term “agent” doesn’t appear in it except a couple of times in a strictly legal context.

    Also do a search on blood-letting, humours and ancient greeks.

    And don’t call me silly as I’m not the one engaging in inane behavior.

    You have a lot to live up to – Jerry thinks you’re the greatest debater at UncommonDescent.

  44. Jerry & Colin:

    FSCI is discussed in the glossary, and in the WACs linked at the top of the column on the right of this page.

    In the case of Saturn’s rings [and those of Jupiter . . . ] they are a known effect of gravitation, and especially the implications of the Roche limit.

    Thus, most of what is in such rings is a matter of known mechanical forces in action either breaking up or preventing accretion to form satellites, leading to discs in orbit around the main planet. There is variation in density, probably due to accident of particular circumstances, and the major gaps are “policed” by moons.

    Thus, on the gross structure level, this is a low contingency situation [I exclude here the accidents of the trajectory of each and every rock as irrelevant to the issue.]

    CSI — and the relevant subset, FSCI — only applies where there is high contingency, per the explanatory filter.

    high contingency may be credibly either directed or undirected, and it is the former, when the information capacity is sufficiently high, that is CSI. in the case of FSCI, the specification is by function, especially information content related function.

    GEM of TKI

  45. JT:

    Re Plato’s Laws, Book X, relevant lines:

    Ath[enagoras]. . . . we have . . . lighted on a strange doctrine.

    Cle[anthes]. What doctrine do you mean?

    Ath. The wisest of all doctrines, in the opinion of many.

    Cle. I wish that you would speak plainer.

    **************

    Ath. The doctrine that all things do become, have become, and will become, some by nature [phusis, i.e. natural regularities tracing to in-built forces; cf below {**} ], some by art [i.e. design], and some by chance [I think this may be rendered "accident" in other translations].

    ***************

    Cle. Is not that true?

    Ath. Well, philosophers are probably right; at any rate we may as well follow in their track, and examine what is the meaning of them and their disciples.

    Cle. By all means.

    Ath. They say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art, which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . . . fire and water, and earth and air, all exist by nature and chance . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and {**} some inherent force according to certain affinities among them . . . After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .

    Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [i.e. mind], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body? . . . . if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise. [Emphases added]

    In short,JT, it would be wise to learn a lesson of humility from the Greeks, who often said in effect: “as we go out in any direction, we meet Socrates, Plato and Aristotle on the way back.”

    notice, Plato here sees these ways of thinking as immemorial in his day; including the idea that chance + necessity accounts for the creation around us, and that art then is only that which rearranges what has long since been put there by phusis and chance. he then posits that in fact the soul is before the body, and sets up the following context for discussion — for 2350 years now.

    Quite a respectable achievement for someone thinking circa 350 BC, nuh?

    GEM of TKI

  46. Okay:

    The long series of 1′s argument.

    In context, a 1/0 is a binary choice, with one state demnoted 1. So, a long series of 1′s would be — under normal circumstances — a case where a highly contingent system, say n > 1,000 per argument, has 1,000+ 1′s in succession. this is a simple specification, on a contingent system that has 2^1,000+ configs. Since rthe statistical weights of the non-1′s set and the 1′s set are obviously rather divergent, then irt would be reasonable to infer tha tif we saw a physical situation with 1,000+ 1′s, it is most likely by agency; not chance.

    Why is that?

    not because of logical impossibility or physical impossibility, but by the overwhelming probability of unconstrained contingency settling about the 50-50 point; i.e. the utter bulk of hte binomial distribution near 50-50 overwhelms the set of outcomes on no direction.

    At risk of re-opening that long back -forth — this is in fact the root of the discussion on the infamous Caputo case.

    If I encountered a highly contingent 1/0 situation of considerable scope, and saw an outcome of all 1′s, I would — for excellent reason — infer to CSI and to agent action as the most credible explanation.

    GEM of TKI

  47. PS: On encountering a long series of 1′s in nature.

    1 –> If i were to see a large pattern of “1′s” that is repeated strongly in a credibly “natural” context, I would first suspect a force, similar to crystallisation.

    2 –> I would hen try to experimentally replicate that aspect of the phenomenon, and if I see that there is a mechanical framework that reliably triggers the chain of 1′s, I would seek explanation per the underlying 4 dynamical forces of nature. (Cf the story of Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, and the conclusion that this is columnar jointing of basalt. BTW, on the N side of the former E-W central corridor road here in M’rat, between SH volcano and Centre Hills, i recall seeing similar columnar jointed basalt, now covered by eruptive deposits since 1995. Yet another parallel from the emerald island of the Caribbean . . .)

    3 –> But if I see instead that the pattern is contingent, i.e. under similar triggering circumstances diverse outcomes are possible, then I would have to look to directed vs undirected contingency if I see an all-1′s case of sufficient info-bearing capacity [about 1,000 bits worth].

    4 –> Once I see that the contingency is high, and the outcome under similar circumstances therefore largely unconstrained absent direction, the observed all- 1′s outcome would count as CSI and would be inferred as most likely by intelligence.

    5 –> And this shows how the explanatory Filter and FSCI or CSi are closely linked.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Rob, JT, and/or JayM: your arguments against FSCI are already addressed in several previous, recent threads. Why are you insisting on repeatedly raising answered arguments in different contexts without first cogently addressing the serious answers where they are to be seen? [Repetition of assertions and argumentum ad Dembski circa 1998 on EF etc does not constitute a cogent answer. And yes, I believe SB made an error on his remarks on CSI in the case of a long string of 1's.]

  48. Kairosfocus and all:

    I have said nothing at all about long strings of 1′s. Please make a note of that. Someone attributed another’s remarks to me, so I let it go. But since the error is compounding, I must call attention to it. I will accept apologies gracefully.

  49. —-JT: “Now go find what it is you’re talking about. The term “agent” doesn’t appear in it except a couple of times in a strictly legal context.”

    JT, If you don’t understand that art/chance/necessity=

    agency/chance/necessity=

    innovation/chance/necessity=

    then I can’t help you.

    Further, this whole mess got started because you seemed to think that this triparte explanation begain with Dembski, or at least you demanded to know where it could be found in his work.

    I explained that the concept was over two thousand years old and could be found in Plato’s laws. Rather than acknowledge your error, you simply shift the goalposts and start questioning the meaning of equivalent terms.

    All: I have decided that I am no longer going to go out of my way to honor Darwinists’ requests for quotes unless the references are readily available. The exception to that rule will be for those who truly want information and are not playing games (an unlikely event since few Darwinists can resist the temptation).

    Since I have been on this site, I have never lied, made anything up, or tried to bluff my way through anything. So, when I state something as fact and I don’t have a ready reference, I will ask onlookers and readers to accept my word based on my record of honest correspondence. If, as it turns out, I err, I will acknowledge the point and render an apology. Sometimes this is necessary because I can’t always associate an important point with authors I may have read years back.

    In this age of the search engine, books still matter. Indeed, one problem we have is that too many of our adveraries are trying to build their education on Googling alone. That doesn’t work. To amass thousands of facts without acquiring the means to process those facts into a hieracrhy of truths, is to fall prey to sophistry.

  50. gpuccio [34]:

    The fundamental concept is very simple: specification is any pattern which can be recognized by a conscious intelligent being as a possible product of design, of the teleological activity of another conscious intelligent being. Can we agree on this very simple and universal concept?

    No. Its circular, vague, presumptive and useless (IMO).

    So, let’s go to the sequence of 1s. Can that be a specification? Yes, because that kind of compressibility is easily recognized by a conscious intelluigent agent, but that kind of specification can seriously be considered as a mark of design only if we can exclude that a law of necessity is its cause, and if we are sure that it came out in a system where only true randomness or design could have created it. In a system which seems truly random, only a conscious intelligent agent who interferes with the system could create a very long sequence of 1s

    Imagine a moment in dinosaur history. Let 1 correspond to a live dinosaur and 0 to a dead one. Now the asteroid hits. All 0′s.

    The same is true for Saturn’s rings: if theìr form can be explained by laws of necessity, there is no reason to think of design. It is very simple.

    This is where this argument from ignorance enters in I.D. “If you know about a mechanism that caused something, then the cause is a mechanism. If you don’t its design.”

    In biology, as we all know, the important case is functional specification. I cannot understand why you and all other darwinists go on avoiding that concept.

    Not speaking for Darwinists, but to use a term employed by Dembski, FCSI is “pretheoretic”. (That’s how he described the creationist concept of “organized complexity” in his response to Morris). Dembski would say his own work in CSI was not pretheoretic, and I think most would agree. Dembski’s latest work involves Evolutionary Algorithms, and has nothing to do with FCSI. You can ask yourself why not.

    It is patently obvious to everyone (Darwinists included) that biological organisms encode information in a way we haven’t seen elsewhere. How does giving it a new label (FCSI) establish the I.D concept of intelligent agency as the explanation.

    ———————-

    kairosfocus [44]:
    Re: Plato and agency: Thanks for taking the trouble to hunt down those quotes from the Laws.

    I had previously done the google search ‘Plato site:http://www.designinference.com‘, and Dembski does mention Plato in passing on numerous occasions.(Ironically at one point he puts Plato in a list of I.D. supporters down through history, but then elsewhere says the early Christian fathers thought Plato’s concept of the cosmos was inconsistent with their concept of God.)

    But nowhere does he associate the concept of Agency with Plato. Nowhere does he say anything remotely like, “Even Plato understood the legitimacy of the concept of intelligent agency.” It would seem apparent to me why he would not. He would be scoffed at.

    We can read Plato for the purposes of understanding sociology and culture. But no one in science today would appeal to any ancient Greek as an authoritarian spokesman. That’s what they did in the Middle Ages:

    The history of medieval philosophy is traditionally divided into three main periods: the period in the Latin west following the Early Middle Ages until the twelfth century, when the works of Aristotle and Plato were preserved and cultivated…” -wikipedia

    IOW, the modern era began when we quit relying on these guys.

    Up until maybe a year and half ago, you use to refer to some ancient greek as the father of I.D. I pointed out to you where in his own writings he said that the only reason that planets could stay precisely in their orbits is that they were sentient beings. I haven’t seen you quote him sense, so maybe you at least remember who it was.

    But agency is what Dembski has sought to legitimize in science. But he hasn’t done so through arguments that were intended for scientists. (Other aspects of The Design Inference are, but not agency.) On agency his argument is basically, “Everybody already agrees that agency exists.” (He doesn’t do this by referring to Plato, because the medieval connection would be to blatant, IMO.) Point out to me any where a logical or scientific argument for agency exists in his works. There is none. He just says its the traditional viewpoint. And for the general public, that would be true. But science doesn’t hold such a view of agency. So all he’s trying to do on agency is pit the public against scientists – not actually make a case to science. (I’m referring to his treatment of agency specifically – not his entire work.)

    Just think about it – how is “Agency” some sort of immutable obvious sacrosanct, unassailable abstract concept to you all? Why should this just be obvious to everyone? (KF these most recent comment on agency are not directed specifically at you.)

    KF:

    In the case of Saturn’s rings [and those of Jupiter . . . ] they are a known effect of gravitation, and especially the implications of the Roche limit .
    Thus, most of what is in such rings is a matter of known mechanical forces in action either breaking up or preventing accretion to form satellites, leading to discs in orbit around the main planet. There is variation in density, probably due to accident of particular circumstances, and the major gaps are “policed” by moons…

    Yes, we know there is a mechanism that causes Saturn’s Rings. For the record a lot of us could google “How are Saturn’s Rings formed”. What if you didn’t know the mechanism (or couldn’t find it in google)? I.D would say you would be justified in saying design. Does that sound right?

    And furthermore, that mechanism did not sound all that simple at all. There were alot of physical contingencies involved.

    In context, a 1/0 is a binary choice, with one state demnoted 1. So, a long series of 1’s would be — under normal circumstances — a case where a highly contingent system, say n > 1,000 per argument, has 1,000+ 1’s in succession. this is a simple specification, on a contingent system that has 2^1,000+ configs. Since rthe statistical weights of the non-1’s set and the 1’s set are obviously rather divergent, then irt would be reasonable to infer tha tif we saw a physical situation with 1,000+ 1’s, it is most likely by agency; not chance.

    O.K. You’re on record – a very long series of 1′s was caused by agency.

    the infamous Caputo case .

    What about my dinosaur case (in response to gpuccio above)?

    PS: On encountering a long series of 1’s in nature.

    1 –> If i were to see a large pattern of “1’s” that is repeated strongly in a credibly “natural” context, I would first suspect a force, similar to crystallisation.
    2 –> I would hen try to experimentally replicate that aspect of the phenomenon, and if I see that there is a mechanical framework that reliably triggers the chain of 1’s, I would seek explanation per the underlying 4 dynamical forces of nature. (Cf the story of Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, and the conclusion that this is columnar jointing of basalt. BTW, on the N side of the former E-W central corridor road here in M’rat, between SH volcano and Centre Hills, i recall seeing similar columnar jointed basalt, now covered by eruptive deposits since 1995. Yet another parallel from the emerald island of the Caribbean . . .)

  51. StephenB [48]:

    Respectfully, that’s a cop out.

    I’m looking up quotes continually.

  52. JT (#49):

    Briefly:

    “No. Its circular, vague, presumptive and useless”

    I will leave out presumptive and useless (you are entitled to your opinions), but why circular? and why vague? What is circular and vague in

    “any pattern which can be recognized by a conscious intelligent being as a possible product of design, of the teleological activity of another conscious intelligent being”?

    We recognize those patterns all the time. And what is circular in a recognition? Sometimes it seems that darwinists just want to pretend that they live in a completely imaginary world, where things which in the true world happen every day should not exist. And you are always ready to label as circular things which are not circular at all. This is not the first time, and it will not be the last.

    “Imagine a moment in dinosaur history. Let 1 correspond to a live dinosaur and 0 to a dead one. Now the asteroid hits. All 0’s.”

    And so? If you choose to attribute 0 or 1 to dead or living dinosaurs, it’s your choice. And if all dinosaurs die for a mechanism of necessity, they are dead. What has that to do with

    “In a system which seems truly random, only a conscious intelligent agent who interferes with the system could create a very long sequence of 1s”?

    Could you please stick to more conventional examples, like the toss of a coin? This is the first time I hear of dinosaurs as a random system. Compliments for your creativity, but I still can’t see your point.

    “This is where this argument from ignorance enters in I.D. “If you know about a mechanism that caused something, then the cause is a mechanism. If you don’t its design.”

    I am really tired of such trivial (and I am being very respectful and polite) arguments about arguments from ignorance. To say that in an apparently random system like the toss of a coin a long sequence of 1s is extremely unlikely unless there is some mechanism of necessity at work is not an argument from ignorance: it is just a true statement.

    To be more clear, there is no reason in the world to believe that the laws of biochemistry, as we know them can in any way give rise to the sequence of a functional protein in a non random way, that is by necessity. You can say that maybe sometime we can discover new laws of biochemistry which could do exactly that: such a statement, while not strictly impossible, is completely unlikely and unsupported by any current knowledge. For all practical reasons, it can and must be dismissed. It is, in other words, just an argument from blind and silly hope.

    “It is patently obvious to everyone (Darwinists included) that biological organisms encode information in a way we haven’t seen elsewhere. How does giving it a new label (FCSI) establish the I.D concept of intelligent agency as the explanation.”

    I am happy that darwinists can still see, occasionally, some obvious things. The problem is not with labels. FSCI is a subset of CSI. The only difference is that the specification is functional: the target is defined as the set of proteins which have a specific, measurable function, with a specific, quantitative threshold. That said, all other considerations about CSI and the reason why it is a mark of design apply to FSCI as well. The difference is only in the kind of specification, which is the function, and not some intrinsic formal property of the sequence, like compressibility. Is that so difficult to understand?

  53. Well, Dembski did not invent the CSI term.

    I don’t trust wikipedia on anything related to origins; nevertheless they have this to say,

    “The term “specified complexity” was originally coined by origin of life researcher Leslie Orgel to denote what distinguishes living things from non-living things:
    In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity.[7]

    The term was later employed by physicist Paul Davies in a similar manner:
    Living organisms are mysterious not for their complexity per se, but for their tightly specified complexity”

    Orgel saw it one way, others see it differently – a question of definitions and understanding.

    Understanding a given definition is far more important. Any discussion depends on all parties agreeing on one definition for the sake of that discussion.

    In any case. A string of 1′s has no complexity in statistical terms. You cannot calculate the probability of a string of 1′s separate from a given context (sample space). A string of ones does not point to design (as it always must if you’re interpretation were right) any more than a string of anything – unless we have a specified context (sample space) against which to measure the probability involved.

    What I don’t like most though is your tone of arrogant self-assurance and condescendence, and that without evidence or clear data.

    Also, Dembski’s a great scientist imo, but that doesn’t mean he has understood CSI himself completely. It’s still clear to the mind because it’s intuitive, but put it in mathematically form is not easy.

    For the future I suggest we all stick to the basics as described by DaveScot here : http://www.uncommondescent.com.....nderstand/

    Whatever.

  54. gpuccio [51]:

    “No. Its circular, vague, presumptive and useless”

    I will leave out presumptive and useless (you are entitled to your opinions), but why circular? and why vague? What is circular and vague in
    “any pattern which can be recognized by a conscious intelligent being as a possible product of design, of the teleological activity of another conscious intelligent being”?

    If it were circular it would not be a matter of opinion that it was useless. Its presumptive in that it presumes the existence of what really is most open to question, “conscious intelligent being” as a seperate ontological category from other physical phenomenon. It is vague because of the usage of the term “possible”.

    But let me just try to parse it further:

    According to you, a specification would be any pattern where its possible that some being with some unspecified level of intelligence might identify it, correctly or not, as being something created by some other being of unspecified level of intelligence.

    You might as well say, “I am a conscious intelligent being and something is a design because I say it is.” “Whatever I say might be designed is a specification.”

    Or possibly your defintion implies that “conscious intelligent beings” is an exclusive club with their own secret language. And that language is designs and one person in this club can merely look at something and know intutively it is a design, i.e. created by one of his kind, and people in this club don’t have to justify to outsiders their secret language of design and how they can identify designed objects, they just can and consensus within this special club is unanimous, and outsiders just won’t get it.

    I guess what I meant by circular is that the most relevant attribute of the design arguement is the idea that there might be entities manfiesting special non-physical types of casuality, “intelligent agents”. And by assuming their existence to begin with it seems circular. (Circular is something of a vague term itself admittedly)

    ————————–

    Just as a side note, there are classes of algorithms where no known implementation for them exists without an “oracle” postulated to magically provide the correct answer for some crucial portion of the problem before the algorithm terminates.

    So one approach to identifying humans as “intelligent agents” would be to show how they routinely solve one of these types of intractable problems, which would imply they can only do so by virtue of a magical oracle. (Just a thought).

    I read your other points. (re: Dinosaurs, arguments from ignorance) I don’t have anything to respond at the moment. I would say if you think about what I was saying a little longer you might come to see what I was saying.
    Regards

  55. “It is patently obvious to everyone (Darwinists included) that biological organisms encode information in a way we haven’t seen elsewhere. How does giving it a new label (FCSI) establish the I.D concept of intelligent agency as the explanation.”

    The answer is that it doesn’t and no one ever says it does. The label does not make the concept but the concept as you say is unique is not correct. We see it elsewhere in two places both with humans. Language and computer software are similar. In each patterns of information which is complex specify something else which is functional.

    So you are wrong in that it is unique. Now the two instances that are similar to DNA are human based or intelligence based. No where in the universe has anyone seen anything similar arise from nature.

    So ID says that the origin of DNA could have been by an intelligent source and as I said elsewhere last night the construction of life or something similar from scratch may be within the capability of humans shortly. Therefore humans or intelligence could be a source for the origin of DNA. Nature has never produced anything similar as far as we know but we could eventually find something. So the logic says the explanation could be intelligence and is probably not natural.

    That is the ID position. It is not an absolute position and could change with new information. Is this so hard to understand and it is definitely not an argument from ignorance but an argument from reason and logic.

    Why you do not understand this is amazing because it has been all over this site in the last two weeks.

  56. JT (#54):

    “It is vague because of the usage of the term “possible””

    The usage of the word “possible” has a very definite meaning here, just the opposite of a vague one: it means that a conscious intelligent being can recognize patterns which “appear” as designed, but still needs a definite methodology to be reasonably sure that they are. That’s one of the fundamental premises of the science of design detection, which you seem to ignore. Therefore, “possible” is exactly the word which makes the statement precise.

    “According to you, a specification would be any pattern where its possible that some being with some unspecified level of intelligence might identify it, correctly or not, as being something created by some other being of unspecified level of intelligence.”

    Why unspecified level? I was obviously thinking of intelligence as we see it in human beings. I understand not all human beings are equally intelligent, and maybe I am not intelligent enough to understand your arguments, but let’s consider human intelligence as a mean, as an order of magnitude if you want.

    “You might as well say, “I am a conscious intelligent being and something is a design because I say it is.” “Whatever I say might be designed is a specification.””

    No, I say: I am a conscious intelligent being and something “can be” a design if I recognize in it the same formal properties as in the things that I (and my fellow beings) design: “apparent” organization, “apparent” purpose, “apparent” symbolic functionality, and so on (you see, don’t you, that I am insisting on the “possible”?

    “Or possibly your defintion implies that “conscious intelligent beings” is an exclusive club with their own secret language.”

    It’s a club in a sense, or at least a very definite set. And they do have their language, which is secret only to those who do not understand it, which is apparently a prerogative of all languages.

    “And that language is designs and one person in this club can merely look at something and know intutively it is a design, i.e. created by one of his kind,”

    Let’s say that intelligent agents have many languages, and that all of them are designed. And yes, the recognition of one language lets us know (maybe intuitively, but that would require further discussion) that what appears as a language we know “can” have been created by one of our kind (in the sense of one who understands that language as we do). What is difficult in that? Please, note that the concept of “design” is broader than the concept of any specific language, being applicable to anything which exhibits the above cited properties (organization, purpose, functionality). But all languages are designed.

    “and people in this club don’t have to justify to outsiders their secret language of design and how they can identify designed objects”

    Why they don’t have to justify? they have and they can do it. I am exactly trying to do that with you here. If I am insisting in the role of the concept of function, it’s because I am trying to justify with you how specification patterns can be recognized. But it is obvious that I cannot justify that to unintelligent beings, who have no idea of what a function could be, or just have no ideas. The concept itself of “justifying” implies that we are dealing with conscious intelligent beings.

    “they just can and consensus within this special club is unanimous, and outsiders just won’t get it”

    That is a good description of how we know things through thoughts and representations logic and inference and so on: consensus is unanimous, and outsiders (non intelligent things) just won’t get it. How would you explain principles like identity and non contradiction to a rock?

    “I guess what I meant by circular is that the most relevant attribute of the design arguement is the idea that there might be entities manfiesting special non-physical types of casuality, “intelligent agents”. And by assuming their existence to begin with it seems circular.”

    From Wikipedia:

    “”That begs the question” is an appropriate reply when a circular argument is used within a syllogism. That is, when the given argument depends on what it is trying to support, and as a result, the proposition is being used to prove itself.”

    And it is interesting to cite here one of the examples of circular reasoning which are given there in the wikipedia page:

    “”The impossibility of evolution is irrelevant; you’re here, so obviously it happened.”"

    On other words, the concept of circular reasoning is a very definite logical fallacy, and applies to any argument which appears to be a logical argument, but is not. So, in no way it applies to my statement, which was not a logical argument, but only an empirical definition of functional specification.

    Moreover, I am not supporting “the idea that there might be entities manfiesting special non-physical types of casuality, “intelligent agents”. I am simply saying that intelligent agents exist (are you denying even that?) and that they use to originate designed things by a process called design. Are you denying that? Maybe I miss your point here: again, probably, lack of intelligence on my part.

    “And by assuming their existence to begin with it seems circular. (Circular is something of a vague term itself admittedly)”

    I can’t see how acknowledging the existence of conscious intelligent agents (a very well established empirical fact) may be circular in any possible way. And yes, your use of “circular” is certainly vague. And this is not a vague statement at all.

    Finally, your “side note” appears very interesting, but I am not sure to understand exactly what you are speaking of. Could you please elaborate on that? I am sincerely interested.

  57. Ah:

    A target rich environment this morning!

    But first: Stephen, my apologies on misattribution . . .

    Now:

    1] JT, 50: Its [the concept of "specification" in CSI or FSCI] circular, vague, presumptive and useless

    Does DNA fulfill as function? Does contextually responsive ASCII text in English? Do source code and object code in computers? Does an engineer’s written or drawn description of a design?

    The answer is obvious, and so your objection is plainly specious, and sadly revealing.

    2] Imagine a moment in dinosaur history. Let 1 correspond to a live dinosaur and 0 to a dead one. Now the asteroid hits. All 0’s.

    This is simply your ex-post facto assignment of 1 = live and 0 = death.

    In short, you have painted the target after the fact. And, you are refusing to address the Explanatory Filter (as addressed to aspects of a situation), an integral part of the framework: the situation, if the reconstruction of the past circa 65 mn years ago is basically correct — is evidently a product of chance + necessity.

    Moreover, your example cites a case in which the assignment of 1/0 fulfills no information-functional role — and FUNCTIONAL specification is the one that is relevant. (Algorithmic compressibility is also useful, cf. Trevors and Abel on OSC, RSC and FSC; cf App 3 my always linked.)

    Contrast, too, the Caputo case, as identified and linked. In that case, R and D are inherently functional and are not an after the fact target painting exercise.

    3] This is where this argument from ignorance enters in I.D. “If you know about a mechanism that caused something, then the cause is a mechanism. If you don’t its design.”

    Not at all. You have fallen into selecticve hyperskepticism, as the design inference is doing nothing beyond the ordinary for scientific explanations; which are inherently (but often implicitly) provisional.

    For, we already KNOW per massive experience that chance, necessity and agency are three possible and well-known causal factors. So, if we infer on best current explanation, that a particular aspect is best explained by intelligence per reliable signs thereof, that is an empirically based explanation in light of an empirically established pattern.

    Scientific inferences aim to be empirically anchored, reasonable and reliable, not to be true beyond all possible future revision.

    4] FCSI is “pretheoretic”.

    In scientific reasoning, descriptions of observed facts and key features of the world are — for excellent reason — prior to and even more important than the theories or models that seek to explain them through abduction [cf above linked].

    So, why are you trying to rhetorically turn an epistemic virtue into a perceived epistemic vice?

    FSCI is a key fact of our world, one that per empirically based explanation has one observed cause: intelligence. (Onlookers, observe how despite much struggle, the objectors to the concept cannot find a reasonable counterexample.)

    5] Dembski’s latest work involves Evolutionary Algorithms, and has nothing to do with FCSI.

    Not so! [Marks and Dembski in their recent work are further refining the challenge of finding targets in large configuration spaces, and have introduced the idea that effective search requires active information, e.g. the use of oracles that broadcast warmer/colder messages.)

    And, this ignores the works of Durston, Chiu, Trevors and Abel etc, as published 2005 - 2007. Look up OSC, RSC and FSC, starting with the article linked at WAC no 27 above.

    Onlookers: observe, the number of researchers EXPLICITLY working on ID is growing, including an emerging new generation of researchers whose qualification is in ID. The attempt to kill ID before it can so reproduce itself, has failed.

    Durston, I predict, will join the top tier of ID researchers.

    (All that NCSE et al have managed to do is to push that out of the US -- KD is studying in Canada. So, since ID has fairly obvious implications for cryptology and for reverse engineering, that is suggestive that the evo mat magisterium has done American science a grave disservice that will come back to haunt your nation on security and economic progress.)

    6] It is patently obvious to everyone (Darwinists included) that biological organisms encode information in a way we haven’t seen elsewhere

    Grossly false.

    DNA encodes digital data strings that are implemented in an algorithmic, physically instantiated, code-based process. Such is routinely instantiated, and is as close as your friendly local PC and Internet.

    And, that familiar example also illustrates aptly the known source of such entities.

    Multiply by the search-space challenge to get to functional configurations in such entities and you will see why the other main source of highly contingent outcomes, chance, is not a credible explanation.

    So, on inference to best explanation, the best explanation for the DNA-ribosome-enzyme system, and thus also the proteins of life function, therefore cell-based life itself is design.

    7] nowhere does he [Dembski] associate the concept of Agency with Plato . . . , no one in science today would appeal to any ancient Greek as an authoritarian spokesman

    Twisted and caricatured beyond recognition, then knocked over with a convenient reference to medieval [hints of "fundy dummy . . ."] scholasticism’s alleged blind following of “authorities.”

    JT — as you know or SHOULD know — Plato is cited to show that the chance/ necessity/ intelligence trichotomy of causal factors was immemorial 2,350 years ago.

    Thus, we see that if after over 2,000 years no clearly identified “fourth factor” (as materialistic Darwinists under pressure often appeal to) has emerged, we can be fairly confident that the three factors are a reliably useful way to look at causal factors. And, that the burden of proof to show otherwise rests on those who object — one they are plainly unwilling to take up. (Onlookers, no prizes for guessing why.)

    Moreover, this trichotomy as presented by Plato already explicitly shows that 2350 years ago, the materialistic account of origins was already on the table, and (cf Democritus’ and Lucretius’ failure) lost the battle on the merits for preferred explanation of the cosmos, as Plato outlined:

    [the philosophers hold that] The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them . . . After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .

    Why did it lose?

    Let Wiki’s summary of Lucretius’ The Nature of Things tell us why:

    The poem opens with a magnificent invocation to Venus, whom he addresses as an allegorical representation of the reproductive power, after which the business of the piece commences by an enunciation of the great proposition on the nature and being of the gods, which leads to a grand invective against the gigantic monster religion, and a thrilling picture of the horrors which attends its tyrannous sway. Then follows a lengthened elucidation of the axiom that nothing can be produced from nothing, and that nothing can be reduced to nothing (Nil fieri ex nihilo, in nihilum nil posse reverti); which is succeeded by a definition of the Ultimate Atoms, infinite in number, which, together with Void Space (Inane), infinite in extent, constitute the universe . . . .

    The problem that arises from an entirely deterministic and materialistic account of reality is free will. Lucretius maintains that the free will [My NB: which includes freedom to reason, communicate and decide for oneself] is possible through the random tendency for atoms to swerve (Latin: clinamen).

    But, as the ancients well knew, randomness is no more rational than blind mechanical forces acting on matter that happens to be as it is.

    So, on the grounds that we all know — pre-theoretically even — that we are rational animals, Lucretian materialism [which more than anticipates the modern evolutionary materialistic view on its key points . . .] is patently self-referentially absurd.

    Just so, we are not citing Dembski or Plato as blanket authorities, but to show the history of ideas, and to show why the materialism of our day has always been an explanatory failure. [It is dominant today only because we have not learned to think as clearly as men thought 2,350 years ago! Regress, not progress . . . ]

    8] Up until maybe a year and half ago, you use to refer to some ancient greek as the father of I.D. I pointed out to you where in his own writings he said that the only reason that planets could stay precisely in their orbits is that they were sentient beings

    An unworthy ad hominem, and based on tendentious distortion of the facts in an exchange not accessible to the casual onlooker.

    I still cite — it still heads my online note that is linked in every comment I make here at UD — and have cited the Roman, Cicero, on the subject that he inferred that the random shuffling of digital characters is unlikely to get to an intelligible communication. Namely:

    Is it possible for any man to behold these things [the complex and orderly cosmos], and yet imagine that certain solid and individual bodies move by their natural force and gravitation, and that a world so beautifully adorned was made by their fortuitous concourse? He who believes this may as well believe that if a great quantity of the one-and-twenty letters, composed either of gold or any other matter, were thrown upon the ground, they would fall into such order as legibly to form the Annals of Ennius. I doubt whether fortune could make a single verse of them. How, therefore, can these people assert that the world was made by the fortuitous concourse of atoms, which have no color, no quality—which the Greeks call [poiotes], no sense? [Cicero, THE NATURE OF THE GODS BK II Ch XXXVII, C1 BC, as trans Yonge (Harper & Bros., 1877), pp. 289 - 90.]

    In short, Cicero was addressing the same issue that we find in Plato, and used the case of getting to intelligible digital information of sufficiently complexity by chance as his example of the absurdity of the concept of chance + necessity spontaneously creating the cosmos as we see it.

    In short, his diagnosis of the problem is spot-on. His suggested alternative explanation, shaped by his pagan environment, was wrong. But that is irrelevant to the force of the above cited.

    Namely, that 2050 years ago, it was well understood that a search space challenge as evolutionary materialists today assume can be easily surmounted, was known to be insuperable to the point of absurdity.

    An absurdity that JT evidently rejects, as the JT seems to be short for “Junkyard Tornado” — a reference to Hoyle’s point that a tornado in a junkyard in Seattle is utterly unlikely to assemble a 747.

    (JT, do you seriously believe that on the gamut of the observed cosmos, the 21 letters of Roman script assembled by randomly dropping on the ground (= chance + necessity) will get to a verse of Ennius, and/or that a tornado in Seattle will get to a 747 assembled by forces of chance + necessity? Why?)

    8] On agency his [Dembski's] argument is basically, “Everybody already agrees that agency exists.” (He doesn’t do this by referring to Plato, because the medieval connection would be to blatant, IMO.) Point out to me any where a logical or scientific argument for agency exists in his works.

    Fallacious argumentum ad Dembski, AGAIN.

    JT, assuming you are not lucky noise mimicking intelligible signals — cf Cicero’s rebuke to such as think that chance gets us to functional text strings — YOU are the counter-example that shows that agency is real.

    Are you or are you not a rational, verbalising, deciding animal?

    Onlookers: in short, we are here at reductio ad absurdum on the part of evolutionary materialism: its advocates cannot consistently reason their case while adhering to their premises. (Even the pagan thinkers of 2,000+ years ago knew better than that.)

    9] Saturn and physically instantiated LONG strings of 1′s.

    Now, onlookers, JT has been here long enough to know that I am a physicist. So he knows or should know that I would be aware of something as significant as the Roche limit for satellites.

    His dismissive remark on googling is out of order.

    Next, again by implicit fallacious argument to Dembski, he presistently refuses to engage the fact that the explanatory filter is a key part of the design inference. For instance, in the form that explicitly addresses aspects of phenomena [cf my discussion here] i.e. . . .

    (i) it first asks about the case of lawlike necessity, then . . .

    (ii) asks on chance then finally

    (iii) on design.

    (iv) then, having examined the cluster of key aspects and their credible causes/explanations,

    (v) it synthesises an overall narrative account of the phenomenon in question.

    In 1998, Dembski (understandably) directly focussed on the aspect at stake without specifically addressing the need to first isolate relevant aspects of a phenomemon for particular study, a key step in all scientific work. (Do you worry about the colour of the bob or the string on a pendulum when you do a conical pendulum timing experiment, providing the same are visible?)

    In so doing, as can be seen from the discussions in WAC nos 29 – 31 [and in the linked UD thread], he did not fully appreciate how the integration of diverse aspects in a common situation accounts for how chance, necessity and agency all can appear as causal factors in a given situation.

    This oversight has been exploited rhetorically by ID opponents, who have been too busy trying to discredit ID to take time to see that Dr Dembski has here addressed a significant point.

    But, with rather minor tweaking, the EF approach very powerfully allows the generic scientific method to explicitly address the full range of known causal factors [cf the above glossary item on scientific methods in light of the design approach].

    Similarly, when we see a strong of at least 1,0000 physically instantiuated 1′s, we are dealinfg with a specified, complex outcome that is so utterly improbable on the scope of our observed cosmos, that the best explanation is intelligence, absent specific disconfirming EMPIRICAL data.

    And, onlookers: note how we search in vain for such empirically observed counter-examples.

    All we see are thought experiments that address what is not in doubt: it is logically possible for 1,000 coins to be tossed at random and end up all heads. Just, the relative statistical weight of macrostates is such that the utterly most likely outcome of a random toss is a cluster nearish to 50-50 in no particular meaningful order. (We don’t expect to see a string of coins tossed at random giving binary code for the ASCII text for an 18 word English sentence either.)

    10] 54, it presumes the existence of what really is most open to question, “conscious intelligent being” as a seperate ontological category from other physical phenomenon. It is vague because of the usage of the term “possible”.

    JT, that there are conscious intelligent beings who reason and decide is not a presumption: it is an observation.

    What is open to discussion is the source and nature of that rational animality. (And it is to be addressed on inference to best explanation without censoring possibilities as the Lewontinian materialists in the NAS etc do.)

    One way to initially address that is to ask: what are reliable signs of intelligence at work. this is what ID has done. FSCI, an observed phenomenon, is in all known source cases, traceable to intelligence,and it is further known that chance + necessity are utterly unlikely to get to FSCI. So, we have a well-grounded, but provisional inductive inference.

    Next, we see that in the heart of cell-based life, FSCI is present, starting with DNA and associated molecular processing machinery. So, we have good — but of course falsifiable in principle — grounds to infer that DNA-based cellular life is the product of intelligence.

    Going further, we see that the cosmos in which such cell-based life exists, is fine-tuned to facilitate the particular kind of FSCI-rich life we observe. So, it i is further quite reasonable to infer that the cosmos was designed to be a home for cell based life, up to and including ourselves.

    Onlookers: observe, that no a prioris on what the cosmos is or where it comes from have been made. We are simply building an inferential ladder based on empirical observation and reliable observations on the well-known sources of FSCI and fine-tuned functional physical systems. And, we have refused to allow Lewontinan materialism and the NAS as magisterium to block us from thinking for ourselves across all live options.

    The conclusion is that it is consilient with current science to believe in light of say having personal, life-transforming encounter with God in the face of Christ, that an intelligence formed the cosmos to facilitate cell based life, and then formed life within it, up to and including intelligent life such as we manifest.

    In any era but our own that would have been not only a reasonable but a welcome conclusion.

    In short, we have smoked out the problem: the evidence does not point in the way that our friendly local materialistic magisterium wants to go.

    Too bad for them.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: GP great as usual. SB, good stuff, Jerry adn Borne, significant points too.

  58. gpuccio and KF,

    I was going to jump in as I started reading this thread, but as usual you two cut straight to the point and answered the criticisms soundly. No need to correct anyone, as you’ve already pointed out what I was going to (contingency vs. necessity.)

    Anyway, good work you two.

    Atom

  59. BTW,

    I’ve been to Nazca, Peru (in spanish, spelled Nasca) and seen the lines first hand.

    Amazing thing is that we don’t know the Designer(s), only that they belong to a group of people we’ve called the “Nazca Civilization.” But their culture is surrounded by questions and the little that we know about them we have had to gather from physical artifacts, which lead us to infer the existence of a designing civilization from relics.

    In much the same way, ID doesn’t need to identify the Designer(s) of biological systems to infer design or know much about them, other than what group they belong to (Intelligent Agents) and we can then infer their existence from relics (similar to how we infer the existence of the Nazca culture by what they left behind.)

    And yes, we have Nazca mummies and bones, but this is a side issue. Bones would only tell us that Nazca people existed. They would not tell us that Nazca CULTURE existed; only relics that bear signs of intelligence can do that.

    Atom

  60. borne:

    Well, Dembski did not invent the CSI term.

    Yes he did. If you don’t believe me, ask him.

    CSI and “specified complexity” are not the same term, although the the terms are used interchangeably. Furthermore, Dembski’s concept that he labels “specified complexity” is not the same concept that Orgel previously labeled with the same term. Dembski invented both the concept and the term CSI, unless you count the prior “Crime Scene Investigation” usage.

    In any case. A string of 1’s has no complexity in statistical terms.

    How do you measure complexity in statistical terms, and what does that measure have to do with the complexity measure in CSI?

    You cannot calculate the probability of a string of 1’s separate from a given context (sample space).

    Absolutely, and I’m assuming, perhaps wrongly, that the sample space in question is any binary string. We also need to know the distribution conferred by the null hypothesis, which is why I’m careful to state “under a uniform null hypothesis”. But the fact is that Dembski and other ID proponents often talk about CSI quantities without stating the distribution, and a uniform distribution is almost always assumed.

    What I don’t like most though is your tone of arrogant self-assurance and condescendence, and that without evidence or clear data.

    If I sound condescending, I apologize. I’ve certainly been on the receiving end of much worse on this forum. (Evidence available on request.)

    I’m happy to back up anything I’ve said with evidence and clear data. All you need to do is challenge something specific.

    Also, Dembski’s a great scientist imo, but that doesn’t mean he has understood CSI himself completely. It’s still clear to the mind because it’s intuitive, but put it in mathematically form is not easy.

    So much for the supposed rigor of Dembski’s work.

  61. —-JT: “Respectfully, that’s a cop out.

    —-I’m looking up quotes continually.”

    So, do I. That doesn’t mean I won’t share a fact with someone even if I can’t find immediate references. Quotes are important, but understanding what they mean and placing them in a fair context matters more. I will be kind to you here and refrain from alluding to some recent events.

    On another front, I recently had to point out to someone that 95.8% of evolutionary biologists are atheist/agnostic. At the time, I didn’t have access to the study. Since I knew I was telling the truth, I didn’t hesitate to share the information. I read at least one book every week, and most of them are not on my shelf. Should I hesitate to pass along information found in them simply because I can’t provide a page number? I don’t think so. Only those who have built their entire education through Googling can provide references for everything they know.

    On yet another occassion, a Darwinist alluded to the language in the “Treaty of Tripoli” as evidence that the Founding Fathers did not accept and promote Christian principles in government. I knew that this treaty was an anomaly because it was written in decidedly diplomatic language to appease Muslims and avoid a crisis, meaning that they expunged some of the triniatrian references that they normally used.

    So, I went ahead and listed five other treaties from memory knowing that all of them contained Christian references and, as best I could, summarizine what was said.
    Darwinists are very good at uncovering novel facts and applying them out of context in order to promote falsehoods. I try not to let them get away with it. (I now have those treaties on record, but I needed to make the point in a timely way even though I didn’t have the references available.)

    Reading books provide benefits that Googling on the internet cannot match. Most of us don’t keep every book we have ever read in our library. Does that mean that we shouldn’t draw from their wisdom? In that same spirit, I have read Dembski’s own words to the effect that he admits he could be wrong about some aspects of ID science, and he has said that more than once.

    That was a display of humility that I thought worth sharing. Your reaction was that I would have to provide the quote word for word before I could be believed. I was not and am not inclined to take extra time out to track it down. Onlookers know that I always tell the truth. That is good enough for me.

    If you are going to go after my credibility, you will have to do better than that.

  62. —-Rob: “If I sound condescending, I apologize. I’ve certainly been on the receiving end of much worse on this forum. (Evidence available on request.)”

    Why should that be an issue. If you received any abuse, it undoubtedly happened as a result of “natural forces.” As you have taught us, there is no way to know whether intelligent agencies can be distinquished from the forces of nature. So, why would you be offended at the prospect of those same natural forces playing out as they will. Surely, you don’t think intelligent agents can use the electronic forces of nature to design insults or to rearrange the letters so as to cause offense. That would be the same as conceding the reality of a design inference and the possibility of distinguishing the agent from law and chance.

  63. @62 make that, “rearrange the letters [of the alphabet].”

  64. Surely, you don’t think intelligent agents can use the electronic forces of nature to design insults or to rearrange the letters so as to cause offense. That would be the same as conceding the reality of a design inference and the possibility of distinguishing the agent from law and chance.

    Actually, I do think that intelligent agents can design insults and rearrange letters. And I have no problem detecting that the comments on this site are written by intelligent agents, namely humans. And I have never disputed the reality of inferring design. Can you quote anybody who has?

    But that is not “the same as conceding … the possibility of distinguishing the agent from law and chance.” As we’ve been over many times, that begs the question of whether intelligent agents are reducible to law+chance.

  65. jerry [55]:

    The label [FCSI] does not make the concept but the concept as you say is unique is not correct. We see it elsewhere in two places both with humans. Language and computer software are similar. In each patterns of information which is complex specify something else which is functional.

    I remember reading once before that even a rock is describable by a Turing machine. So everything in nature is characterizable as a program. But the contention would presumably be that DNA is itself a program, encoding symbolic information, and is also very complex. Are there any other programs like this in nature aside from human artifacts (and DNA)? Well there are sets of instructions bees give other bees, right? Their dances signify that the pollen is in this or that position relative to the sun, or whatever. That’s symbolic information. Its a set of instructions, a program. No one’s claiming its as complex as human programs can be, and here we’re back to the degree vs. kind debate. Of course ID, would want to say its different in kind. But it seems the nature of science is to always search for some set of metrics by which we can quantify differences.

    Even grass itself can be a program. To a hungry cow, its not just some meaningless green matter. Seeing the grass elicits some sort of emotional response in the cow – excitement, relief, anticipation. That grass has a symbolic meaning to that cow
    .
    But I guess we should try to think of programs that are more complex than grass. I would say a program is any complex physical object P that effects some other object C in some complex way. It is important that C and P be generally considered as different distinct objects. Such a distinction would be a matter of convention, but nevertheless crucial. Object P would have to be something that could assume a number of possible different states, such that these different configurations elicited different sort ofs behaviors in C. But P would be symbolic in that the states that it could be in did not have some sort of intrinsic connection to P. So for example think about a tornado C, and the sorts of things that could be external to it, not properly considered part of the tornado itself, things that could exhibit a number of different configurations and effect how the tornado behaved. So landmasses, bodies of water etc would would be a “program” that caused the tornado to behave in a certain way. Stated in another way, landmassed and bodies of water would serve to program how the computer behaved. Of course in this last statement we’re using “program” as a verb implying action on the part of these entities external to the tornado.

    Would it be the contention in I.D. that a computer program could itself not write another program? Clearly that’s not the case. If you tell a program ” I want to go to the closest Pizza Hut in DesMoines Iowa, and it gives you a complex series of directions, That’s a program it just wrote [If it hasn't been clear previously I'm interpreting FCSI as "complex symbolic program"].

    Therefore humans or intelligence could be a source for the origin of DNA. Nature has never produced anything similar as far as we know but we could eventually find something.

    But once again this begs this question that humans and intelligence or whatever caused them shouldn’t be considered part of nature.

    I will grant you this: The complexity of a program says something about the complexity of whatever program created it. Usually the creating program will be much much more complex. So imagine the most complex series of directions the program mentioned above might be called upon to provide. We can bet that the program itself is much more complex than that.So it would seem that the complexity of humans says something about the complexity of nature.

    If the term intelligence is applicable to a physical process based on the sort of behaviors it exhibits, or the sort of output it can produce, then anyone that wants to call nature intelligent go right ahead.

  66. correction
    “But P would be symbolic in that the states that it could be in did not have some sort of intrinsic connection to P.”

    should read

    But P would be symbolic in that the states that it could be in did not have some sort of intrinsic connection to C.

  67. correction
    “So everything in nature is characterizable as a program. ”

    should read

    “So everything in nature is characterizable by a program. “

  68. kairosfocus [57]:

    [JT]: Imagine a moment in dinosaur history. Let 1 correspond to a live dinosaur and 0 to a dead one. Now the asteroid hits. All 0’s.

    This is simply your ex-post facto assignment of 1 = live and 0 = death.
    In short, you have painted the target after the fact.

    [KF 50]: If i were to see a large pattern of “1’s” that is repeated strongly in a credibly “natural” context, I would first suspect a force, similar to crystallisation. I would hen try to experimentally replicate that aspect of the phenomenon, and if I see that there is a mechanical framework that reliably triggers the chain of 1’s, I would seek explanation per the underlying 4 dynamical forces of nature.

    So please explain why you wouldn’t apply the same vague dismissive asessment to your own example above. (Wait… Please don’t explain.)

    Moreover, your example cites a case in which the assignment of 1/0 fulfills no information-functional role — and FUNCTIONAL specification is the one that is relevant.

    Functional information as vaguely conceived of late in I.D. circles plays no part in Dembski’s work, the context in which the illustration of a long series of 1′s originated.

    Are you saying a long series of 1′s in your crystal are functional? Would you likewise ascribe functional information to the atomic weight of various natural elements. As far as crystals, I guess this implies that snowflakes are intelligently designed.

    ] This is where this argument from ignorance enters in I.D. “If you know about a mechanism that caused something, then the cause is a mechanism. If you don’t its design.”.

    Not at all. You have fallen into selecticve hyperskepticism, as the design inference is doing nothing beyond the ordinary for scientific explanations; which are inherently (but often implicitly) provisional.
    For, we already KNOW per massive experience that chance, necessity and agency are three possible and well-known causal factors. So, if we infer on best current explanation , that a particular aspect is best explained by intelligence per reliable signs thereof, that is an empirically based explanation in light of an empirically established pattern.

    Whatever explanation anyone has come up with for anything at any time in history, is the best they could evidently come up with.

    (I have to say here, that if I don’t answer something of KF’s its likely because it was not worthy of comment. Whatever his virtues may be, everyone must admit that in all cases he favors quantity over quality.)

    <5] Dembski’s latest work involves Evolutionary Algorithms, and has nothing to do with FCSI.

    Not so! [Marks and Dembski in their recent work are further refining the challenge of finding targets in large configuration spaces, and have introduced the idea that effective search requires active information, e.g. the use of oracles that broadcast warmer/colder messages.)

    Yes, that's not FCSI.

    Also I think you're just invoking the word oracle because I used it previously. Furthermore, Dembski has not shown oracles are necessary to accomplish natural processes.

    [JT:] nowhere does he [Dembski] associate the concept of Agency with Plato . . . , no one in science today would appeal to any ancient Greek as an authoritarian spokesman

    Twisted and caricatured beyond recognition, then knocked over with a convenient reference to medieval [hints of "fundy dummy . . ."] scholasticism’s alleged blind following of “authorities.”
    JT — as you know or SHOULD know — Plato is cited to show that the chance/ necessity/ intelligence trichotomy of causal factors was immemorial 2,350 years ago.
    Thus, we see that if after over 2,000 years no clearly identified “fourth factor” (as materialistic Darwinists under pressure often appeal to) has emerged, we can be fairly confident that the three factors are a reliably useful way to look at causal factors. And, that the burden of proof to show otherwise rests on those who object — one they are plainly unwilling to take up. (Onlookers, no prizes for guessing why.)

    You must throw a torrent of verbiage out even when you don’t actually have an argument. Notice you did not refute my contention that Dembski does not invoke Plato to defend the concept of Agency. Basically all you done is affirm that because Plato said it “we can be fairly confident” its true.

    [JT:]Up until maybe a year and half ago, you use to refer to some ancient greek as the father of I.D. I pointed out to you where in his own writings he said that the only reason that planets could stay precisely in their orbits is that they were sentient beings

    An unworthy ad hominem, and based on tendentious distortion of the facts in an exchange not accessible to the casual onlooker.
    I still cite — it still heads my online note that is linked in every comment I make here at UD — and have cited the Roman, Cicero, on the subject that he inferred that the random shuffling of digital characters is unlikely to get to an intelligible communication. Namely:

    Is it possible for any man to behold these things [the complex and orderly cosmos], and yet imagine that certain solid and individual bodies move by their natural force and gravitation, and that a world so beautifully adorned was made by their fortuitous concourse? He who believes this may as well believe that if a great quantity of the one-and-twenty letters, composed either of gold or any other matter, were thrown upon the ground, they would fall into such order as legibly to form the Annals of Ennius. I doubt whether fortune could make a single verse of them. How, therefore, can these people assert that the world was made by the fortuitous concourse of atoms, which have no color, no quality—which the Greeks call [poiotes], no sense? [Cicero, THE NATURE OF THE GODS BK II Ch XXXVII, C1 BC, as trans Yonge (Harper & Bros., 1877), pp. 289 - 90.]

    Evidently you aren’t even able to parse the above correctly. He says he can’t image solid and individual bodies moving by their natural force and gravitation.

    I did find my previous comment on this:

    So according to Cicero, it is impossible that planets move merely by the force of gravity.

    More words of wisdom from Cicero:

    the world has virtue, and it is also wise, and consequently a Deity.
    XV. The divinity of the world being now clearly perceived, we must acknowledge the same divinity to be likewise in the stars
    I cannot, therefore, conceive that this constant course of the planets, this just agreement in such various motions through all eternity, can be preserved without a mind, reason, and consideration;and since we may perceive these qualities in the stars, we cannot but place them in the rank of Gods

    His fourth cause, and that the strongest, is drawn from the regularity of the motion and revolution of the heavens, the distinctness, variety, beauty, and order of the sun, moon, and all the stars, the appearance only of which is sufficient to convince us they are not the effects of chance; as when we enter into a house, or school, or court, and observe the exact order, discipline, and method of it, we cannot suppose that it is so regulated without a cause, but must conclude that there is some one who commands, and to whom obedience is paid. It is quite impossible for us to avoid thinking that the wonderful motions, revolutions, and order of those many and great bodies, no part of which is impaired by the countless and infinite succession of ages, must be governed and directed by some supreme intelligent being.
    The first point, then, says Lucilius, I think needs no discourse to prove it; for what can be so plain and evident, when we behold the heavens and contemplate the celestial bodies, as the existence of some supreme, divine intelligence, by which all these things are governed? Were it otherwise, Ennius would not, with a universal approbation, have said,
    Look up to the refulgent heaven above,
    Which all men call, unanimously, Jove.

    This is Jupiter, the governor of the world, who rules all things with his nod…

    [JT:]On agency his [Dembski's] argument is basically, “Everybody already agrees that agency exists.” (He doesn’t do this by referring to Plato, because the medieval connection would be to blatant, IMO.) Point out to me any where a logical or scientific argument for agency exists in his works.

    Fallacious argumentum ad Dembski, AGAIN.
    JT, assuming you are not lucky noise mimicking intelligible signals — cf Cicero’s rebuke to such as think that chance gets us to functional text strings — YOU are the counter-example that shows that agency is real.

    I notice that again, you respond with some sort of heated verbiage, but don’t challenge the actual point: Dembski makes no actual logical or scientific argument for the existence of Agency.

    Are you or are you not a rational, verbalising, deciding animal?
    Onlookers: in short, we are here at reductio ad absurdum on the part of evolutionary materialism: its advocates cannot consistently reason their case while adhering to their premises. (Even the pagan thinkers of 2,000+ years ago knew better than that.)

    Yet again, this idea that agency, distinct from law or mechanism, as defined by Plato, is necessary for rational thought to take place.

  69. —–Rob: “And I have never disputed the reality of inferring design. Can you quote anybody who has? But that is not “the same as conceding … the possibility of distinguishing the agent from law and chance.” As we’ve been over many times, that begs the question of whether intelligent agents are reducible to law+chance.”

    One again I am not begging the question, you are avoiding the question. Explain to me how you know that an intelligent agent wrote the paragraph and how you know that the paragraph did NOT happen as a result of law and chance.

  70. JT:

    About your #65: interesting post.

    A few brief comments:

    1) “even a rock is describable by a Turing machine”. Correct, but as you say immediately after, one thing is to be “describable”, another thing is to “describe”. Symbolic information describes.

    2) “Well there are sets of instructions bees give other bees, right? Their dances signify that the pollen is in this or that position relative to the sun, or whatever. That’s symbolic information. Its a set of instructions, a program.”

    Correct, but the point is that we usually assume that such kinds of information (like all instinctive behaviours in animals) are in some way coded in the genome of the species. In that sense, they are further astounding evidence of the FSCI in biological beings. I can agree that the instinctive behaviour of animals is really astounding. But the point is that it is repetitive, and does not change. It can be FSCI, but it is always the same FSCI, and that points to some kind of information written somewhere (although I could not say how and where). On the contrary, humans generate new FSCI all the time, and it changes all the time. That’s one of the main differences between animals and humans, and, I suppose, the cause of what we call human cultures.

    3) “Even grass itself can be a program. To a hungry cow, its not just some meaningless green matter. Seeing the grass elicits some sort of emotional response in the cow – excitement, relief, anticipation. That grass has a symbolic meaning to that cow”

    Partially correct. Again, you switch the program and the thing described. There is a program here, but it is in the cow. The instinctive program in the cow gives a symbolic meaning to the grass, and connects it to feeding. So, we are again in the scenario of point 2.

    4) “I would say a program is any complex physical object P that effects some other object C in some complex way.”

    Partially correct. You are, meaningfully, avoiding the functional aspect. Programs, like machines, are functional. It is not enough that P effects C in a complex way: it is necessary that such effect be functional, in other words, that it may be recognizable as connected to some definable purpose. Your approach is typical of all those who, in order to stick to a purely materialistic view of reality, purposefully ignore all the conscious aspects of it. But consciousness and purpose are observable facts: you cannot ignore them.

    5) “Would it be the contention in I.D. that a computer program could itself not write another program?”

    Absolutely not. But the computer program is just utilizing the information which was inputted in it, including the information about how to elaborate that information. The program has no purpose in doing that, but it is passively effecting the purpose of the intelligent agent who designed it.

    6) “If you tell a program ” I want to go to the closest Pizza Hut in DesMoines Iowa, and it gives you a complex series of directions, That’s a program it just wrote [If it hasn't been clear previously I'm interpreting FCSI as "complex symbolic program"].”

    Have you noticed that programs do not create any new significant language? If they answer you in english, you may be sure that those words are already there, maybe a little bit reshuffled. It is not the program which is answering you, but its programmer. When you play at a digital soccer game, and hear the recorded (and variously reshuffled) comments to what happens, do you really believe that it’s the program which is speaking and commenting?

    7) “But once again this begs this question that humans and intelligence or whatever caused them shouldn’t be considered part of nature.”

    I am completely neutral abou the word “nature”: it means everything one wants it to mean. I have no problem to consider humans and intelligence as part of nature, or as supernatural: it just depends on how you define “nature”. Let’s say here that they are part of nature. That just means that they are real and observable, but it does not mean that you can explain them by the same principles which you successfully use for other parts of nature, like matter. If you believe you can do that, you have to show us how you can do it. Otherwise, you have to accept them as unexplained parts of nature, or define other kinds of principles in nature (which is exactly what ID does with the concepts of conscious intelligent agent and of design).

    8) “I will grant you this: The complexity of a program says something about the complexity of whatever program created it. Usually the creating program will be much much more complex. So imagine the most complex series of directions the program mentioned above might be called upon to provide. We can bet that the program itself is much more complex than that.So it would seem that the complexity of humans says something about the complexity of nature.”

    Here you are, IMO, mistaken. It’s not programs which write programs, but conscious intelligent agents (let’s call them CIAs). A program written by a CIA can be complex enough to be able to write another, simpler program, but that’s not the point. You imply that:

    a) CIAs can write programs because they are more complex than the programs they write.

    b) Nature (whatever it is) can write CIAs because it is more complex than them.

    Well, I don’t agree with a): as I have stated many times, humans IMO can generate CSI because they are conscious and intelligent, and consciousness and intelligence cannot be explained only as a product of the complexity of the program (brain). But, obviously, that’s debatable and would bring us to discuss strong AI theory, which is probably not appropriate here.

    But b) is obviously false. Even if you are a strict darwinist, you cannot believe that the complexity of, say, humans, is the product of a higher complexity in nature, as though it were “embedded” in nature somewhere somehow. Darwinists and materialists indeed do believe in the astounding theory that the complexity in humans arises “of itself”, through RV and NS, and did not exist before. Now, those mechanisms can be in some way embedded in nature, but not certainly the complexity they supposedly create.

    But, obviously (at least for me), the point is that the complexity in biological beings is not created by those mechanisms: like all other designed things, it is the product of a conscious intelligent agent (that’s, indeed, the ID theory, which we are debating here).

    However, if you believe that nature is so complex that it can administer that complexity to less complex things like living beings through a simple mechanical process of reshuffling information, then you are not a materialist, but a TE. No problem if you are, but I have little hope that I can really discuss constructively with a strict TE; they just believe in things which are completely beyond my ability even to conceive.

    But in the end, I suppose, I will try to discuss just the same, even if with little hope.

  71. Just a note: the smile in the previous post was not intended: it just had to be number 8) of the list. :-) (this smile is intended)

  72. Well, I have just discovered that number 8 plus a “)” becomes a smile with black glasses… I will remember that for my long lists!

  73. Following up:

    First, let me paraphrase Jefferson, echoing Socrates, on debate:

    >>. . . that wicked art, that makes the worse appear the better case; being therein abetted by rhetoric, the art of [deceptive] persuasion, not demonstration>> >>

    That — and it saddens me to have to highlight it — is precisely what we do not need, JT.

    So, let us — reluctantly — start with the issues raised by Plato and Cicero. For, while it will not do to let the thread get utterly distracted by running after all of JT’s red herrings dragged out to strawmen soaked in oil of ad hominem and ignited to cloud and poison the atmosphere for discussion, enough needs to be exposed that the reasonable reader may see for him-/her- self just why the evo mat advocates are now forced to resort to fallacies instead of addressing the matter on the issues, and relying on the strength of their case on the merits:

    1] Causal factors as a trichotomy

    It has been aptly said that when we go in any direction, we meet Socrates, Plato and Aristotle on the way back. (This is because when really core questions are at stake, the reasonable major worldview options in light of our conscious mental and moral existence are few and the implications are evident. The issue is, which basic answer makes for the most reasonable view, in light of comparative difficulties.)

    Now, JT has decided to try to discredit it the quite evident reasonableness of the trichotomy of causal factors across [a] chance, [b] law- like mechanical force of necessity and [c] intelligence or art as first seriously documented by Plato, by pretending that to advert to that history and to the associated remarkable anticipation of current debates 2350 years later — and I use that word with its full negative connotations in mind — is to advert to discredited medieval scholasticism.

    So, JT wishes to squeeze my remarks in 57, point 7 into the strawman, “because Plato said it “we can be fairly confident” its true.” [68] (Onlookers may easily confirm that this is grossly false and at minimum utterly irresponsible, by simply scrolling up.)

    What I actually have said is:

    Plato is cited to show that the chance/ necessity/ intelligence trichotomy of causal factors was immemorial 2,350 years ago . . . .we see that if after over 2,000 years no clearly identified “fourth factor” (as materialistic Darwinists under pressure often appeal to) has emerged, we can be fairly confident that the three factors are a reliably useful way to look at causal factors. And, that the burden of proof to show otherwise rests on those who object — one they are plainly unwilling to take up. (Onlookers, no prizes for guessing why.) Moreover, this trichotomy as presented by Plato already explicitly shows that 2350 years ago, the materialistic account of origins was already on the table, and (cf Democritus’ and Lucretius’ failure) lost the battle on the merits for preferred explanation of the cosmos . . .

    Now, too, we can think about the inner logic involved (which would be more profitable than futile exchange with one who resorts to strawman tactics), AGAIN using the familiar dropped and tumbling die example that JT and Rob so obviously struggle to understand:

    a –> Sometines, events unfolding under fairly similar initial circumstances happen in [a] a regular, predictable way; and at other times, [b] they may vary considerable and even strikingly.

    b –> Under the first, and as exemplified by classic Newtonian dynamics and associated calculus of differential equations, we speak of natural, law-like mechanical forces of necessity that once initial conditions are set up, produce a naturally regular outcome due to forces of change, inertia and rates and accumulations of change. For instance, a dropped heavy object naturally falls. On earth at its surface, under a force of 9.8 N/kg.

    c –> Now, too, in the latter case of quite dissimilar outcomes, sometimes the contingent outcome is credibly undirected and stochastic; i.e. it may be seen as fulfilling the terms of mathematical randomness in alignment with models of such chance behaviour. E.g. if the just dropped object is a fair die, it tumbles and spins upon edges and sides [i.e. sensitive dependence on initial conditions] and unpredictably [that starts with tiny divergences in initial conditions . . .] coming to rest reading 1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6 with probability 1 in 6 per side. (Note, too that the mechanism of getting to this classic illustration of chance is to make multiple, uncorrelated chains of cause-effect collide unpredictably. Rather like how in my dad’s day, statistics departments used to use telephone directories — most definitely NOT a random matter — to generate random numbers,)

    d –> But perhaps the die is loaded instead, i.e. it has been art-fully manipulated to shift away from those fair dice odds. That is, we deal now with DIRECTED contingency, i.e. design. [Observe too, how this shows that both chance and design may be at work in a situation, on different aspects -- a clever cheat will not make the die give the "right" outcome all the time . . . .]

    e –> Thus we see observation/decision forks:[i] lo/hi contingency, and [ii] directed [i.e. controlled] vs undirected contingency. In the low contingency, natural regularity case, we infer to necessity. In the case of credibly directed contingency, we infer to design. In the case of credibly undirected contingency, we infer to chance. under the EF, we revert to chance if in doubt, to make sure that when we do infer to design, it is with high reliability.

    f –> And since such and investigation is of course empirical, the assignment is more or less well-warranted but provisional. As is all serious scientific work.

    It will be a bit hard to squeeze in a fourth causal factor there, I think. As to the idea that we may “reduce” design to chance + necessity, and perhaps onward chance to necessity, that would have to be SHOWN, not assumed or simply brazenly asserted. In any case,w e see that C, N and D are established as empirically well warranted.

    This brings us to the second stage, and to the cite from Cicero raised in 57, point 8, in response to an ad hominem laced strawman:

    2] FSCI as a sign of design, per the needle in a haystack challenge

    Now, as I pointed out above, Cicero raised the thought experiment that >>a great quantity of the one-and-twenty letters, composed either of gold or any other matter, were thrown upon the ground>> then suggested a physically and logically possible outcome where such could spontaneously form FSCI: >> they . . . fall into such order as legibly to form the Annals of Ennius [a classical Latin poem]>>

    He then retorted: >> I doubt whether fortune could make a single verse of them. >>

    Thus, he has posed from 50 BC a classic — and unanswered to this day — challenge to materialists who incorporate Lucretius’ random swerve to account for non-deterministic outcomes: how do you find the needle of FSCI in the haystack of non-functional configurations, within the reasonable search resources of our observed cosmos?

    And, how does JT answer that challenge?

    By trying to change the subject, to make out that Cicero proposed ideas that are not credible today so we can dismiss all that he had to say. He did that months ago, and he is now citing that again. So, let my answer from 57 stand in first rebuttal:

    Cicero . . . used the case of getting to intelligible digital information of sufficiently complexity by chance as his example of the absurdity of the concept of chance + necessity spontaneously creating the cosmos as we see it.

    In short, his diagnosis of the problem is spot-on. His suggested alternative explanation, shaped by his pagan environment, was wrong. But that is irrelevant to the force of the above cited.

    Namely, that 2050 years ago, it was well understood that a search space challenge as evolutionary materialists today assume can be easily surmounted, was known to be insuperable to the point of absurdity.

    Onlookers will note that after the smoke of burning strawmen clears, we find that I have not signed up to Cicero’s worldview or his use of whatever is translated as “gravitation” but on the material issue, nowhere a serious engagement of the challenge that Cicero posed to those who would extract serious information from lucky noise, and which is still on the table; unanswered.

    3] But FSCI is not a clear, coherent, measurable etc concept . . .

    There is a certain agitprop tactic, by which a falsehood, trumpeted repeatedly, is perceived as if it were the truth.

    Its refutation – once we have equal access to the forum of discussion [and the tactics of censorship and expulsion against ID are thereby exposed for what they are . . . ] — is quite simple. Contrast:

    [a]jwehgiqwyht8024wjtfgq3uihjioawehgasbnfgvq239rfh3hiq2gfwrfu9wrfio0ery9fghqwruofgiowuyhfg9qwrhfgioweryht80guw3rtgrertyejdowujrshlkdckshfwpf4i9jejgyp

    [b] gggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg

    [c] This is a coherent, complex sentence with sufficient number of ASCII characters that a reasonable observer will see that it is an example of FSCI; i.e. it exceeds 143 ASCII characters of contextually responsive English.

    As has been discussed previously, a text string of ASCII characters in excess of 143 has in it 2^1000+ configs of binary digits. that is more than ten times the SQUARE of the number of quantum states of the atoms of our observed cosmos, across its credible lifespan. So, the cosmos acting as search engine would not be able to sample as much as 1 in 10^150 of the config space. (And BTW, Dembski and Marks in their latest work are further exploring the needle in the haystack search problem that is a key component of the FSCI concept. The insistently reiterated falsehood that “Dembski has abandoned CSI and functionally specified CSI” mantra is another willful distortion in service to an agenda that cannot stand on the merits. So is the fallacious argumentum ad Dembski. [FYI, evo mat advocates, as my always linked page will show; I am an independent ID thinker, and have come to my own views in light of fairly obvious implications of even basic level information theory and related statistical thermodynamics].)

    Now, too, unicellular life forms capable of independent existence, start out at 300 – 500 DNA base pairs, or 600,000 bits. Such DNA has an observed function that is vulnerable to perturbation, i.e is functionally specified; and, per deep isolation in an enormous config space, is complex. Since it is the heart of an info storage and processing system, it is information.

    Thus, to a high degree of confidence we may conclude that DNA, as FSCI, is a designed object. And, with that conclusion, the Darwinian evolutionary materialist account of origins of life and body-plan level biodiversity, collapses.

    Never mind the Darwinist rhetorical distractions and obfuscations designed to confuse the issue.

    GEM of TKI

  74. PS: Let’s boil it down.

    Some days back, i had occasionto go to the Wikipedia articles on ID, there finding an icon of a pocket-watch, doubtless on the strawmannish accusation that ID is simply Paley’s argument recycled.

    Well: WE HAVE FOUND AN AUTONOMOUS, NANOMACHINE-BASED COMPUTER AT THE HEART OF THE CELL.

    We are being told that his is the product of chance + necessity, never mind what we know about searching for needles in haystacks, and what we know about the routine cause of such information- rich functional organisation.

    Where do computer architectures ROUTINELY come from? information for operating and applying them? Algorithms? Data structures? Coded programs? Computer languages? Interfaces?

    Has it ever been observed that such originate by chance + necessity, with no directed contingency, i.e without design?

    Why then is it suddenly “un-/ anti- scientific” to infer — as, say, Newton did — that “like causes like”?

    Could this imposed worldview have something to do with it:

    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. [Lewontin, 1997, cf recent pronouncements by the US National Academy of Sciences, etc., that seem o have made this "official" now]

    We the “sheeple” had better wake up fast!

    GEM of TKI

  75. kairosfocus:

    I have reviewed most of your most recent comments but I don’t have time to debate them at the moment. It would be easier however, (or rather it would be more productive at this juncture I believe) for me to briefly review my own personal philosophical stance for you. If possible I would hope to disabuse you of the notion that I am a secular humanist, a “sock-puppet” for Panda’s Thumb (I’ve only been there a few times – so now I’ve alienated a whole other group), or engaging in a cynical and devious ruse to undermine the True and Right view of the cosmos, reality, nature, and God (O.K. that last part was rather snide).

    First of all I do not think randomness is an explanation for anything. I do not think you will get the works of Shakespeare by rolling dice, typing Monkeys, etc. HOWEVER, Darwinists are also quick to point out that they ALSO do not subscribe to chance or randomness alone as an explanation. THEREFORE, the challenge is not to make people understand the randomness does not accomplish anything. RATHER, it is to show how various mechanisms proposed by evo theorists largely EQUATE to randomness, IF INDEED THIS IS THE CASE. (OK, getting carried away with the caps, I’ll stop that.)

    Consider random mutations and natural selection. If someone had proposed, “I believe humans evolved through mutations.” You might respond, “OK, Mutations… and what else?”, Response “Nothing else: – just random mutations.”

    That person would be espousing pure randomness as an explanation. Of course it wouldn’t be an explanation at all.

    The added ingredient to make it all seemingly work for evolution is natural laws (and also the environment). So its mutations plus natural laws. (Not saying you don’t realize this, but for the sake of clarity…)

    Now there has always been a lot of handwaving regarding exactly what those natural laws are and how complex they are. Many presume and imply that those laws are extremely simple. We can of course envision simple laws that would simply not work at all. Imagine if these simple laws equated (in some sense) to “If the next mutation makes the binary string B an even number then accept it, else reject it.” Obviously such natural laws would be powerless to do anything and would for practical purposes be no better than random. However what if the natural laws were, “If the next mutation gets me closer to an eye, then accept else reject”. Obviously such natural laws could accomplish quite a lot. And please let us all understand: Regardless of what Plato said or believed, it would not require an “Intelligence” or Agency operating outside of law to discern whether or not a mutation got you closer to an eye. All it would require is some internalized template of what an eye was.

    But of course the idea of Natural Laws having a goal of an eye would be an anaethema to evo theorists. But it was merely to point out that we can imagine some set of laws at work that could accomplish quite a lot with mutations.

    In regard to agency:

    I am a Christian, that’s for starters. I believe that would be relevant to you. I do not believe the concept of Agency as something distinct from Law and chance is a coherent idea. I sincerely do NOT believe that humans are agents in this sense. I think that we operate via complex physical and chemical processes. However unsettling the determinism of such a scenario is to you or anyone and however threatening it is too someone’s sacrosanct concept of “Free-Will is irrelevant. It is ironic how many people who claim to believe the Bible COMPLETELY DISREGARD its clear and continual teachings regarding the sovereignty of God. It talks about people who “are born to be caught and destroyed.” I could list 100 passages here if it were appropriate. But I mention all this because of the number of I.D. advocates who think somehow that they’re getting the idea of “Free-will” from the Bible.

    This is just to emphasize for you: I sincerely do not believe in your concept of Agency. I don’t care what Plato thought. Why is invoking Plato in this forum any more relevant than invoking the Bible?

    But back to natural law and mutations-

    First a digression:

    Imagine some primitive culture that said, “Clearly a baby was intelligently designed” And they did not have the technology to pursue that subject further. But someone came along said, “You know, I think that a baby came into existence via a gradual mindless mechanical process.” I think the applicability of this scenario to the current debate should be evident. Both sides in the above could be correct. And yet, it would only be the second point of view that could potentially lead to actual knowledge of the process.

    Why could not conditions in the prelife universe equate in a logical sense to an embryonic human cell.

    Of course the complicating factor for evo-theorists is that according to them at least a substantial percentage of the genome came into existence by blind chance. Let me return to my elephant riddle: “How do you create a statue of an elephant? Answer: Get a block of stone and carve away everything that does not look like an elephant.” Suppose the “natural laws” (i.e. the carver or the “intelligent designer”) were quite extensive. Suppose that whatever piece of stone (mutations) you gave the carver (the natural laws) the carver would carve a trunk, big floppy ears, and a ridiculously small tail on that piece of stone. So the rule employed as cuts were being made to the stone would be, “If a cut gets me closer to a trunk (and so on) accept, else reject. (I’m starting to be inconsistent a little with the analogy, admittedly.) (And once again, it does not require “Agency” to recogize a trunk, floppy ears or a small tail.) But even with such very complex natural laws, to get an actual eleplant, then we’re still leaving A LOT for the random mutations by themselves (that is the piece of stone) to accomplish on its own. To get an an elephant the stone would already have to have correct elephant legs and feet, correct elephant toenails, correct elephant eyes and mouth and so on.

    So it seems that evo-theorists as well will always be requring A LOT for random chance to accomplish on its own. And if we accept there are inherent and true limitations to what randomness can accomplish (which I believe everyone does), than evolution is in a real bind it would seem. Dembski talks about compressible strings being an incredibly minute perecentage of all strings. I think everyone understands you’re never ever going to get some describable pattern characterizing a string of 1000 coin flips. Everyone understands you won’t get a 1000 heads, or any other kind of discerenable pattern (much less Romeo and Juliet). You could conceivably get it, but the chances of doing so are absurdly small and can be ruled out (So needless to say, WE AGREE on that point.)

    So this would imply that the designer, that is the natural laws, the carver, had an extremely large percentage of elephant knowledge to begin with. “But wait a minute,” the evo-theorists would counter, “The carver has to have an encoding as well. You have to consider the probablity of the carver occuring by chance.” Not exactly. The carver could have ALWAYS EXISTED, and did not have to be created. Mutations OTOH are DEFINED as coming into existence at a point in time for no reason at all. [At this point, I may be affriming what many of you in I.D. already believe, which is good I guess.]

    So it looks bad for the evo-theorists at the moment. But let me take a direction which may change that picture.

    There is another well-known prominent scientist who takes a decidely different approach to I.D. than what is typically espoused in this forum. I am unfortunatly pretty bad with names, but everyone will know who I’m talking about in a moment. This particular individual has an extremely long list, thousands of items actually, of all the requirements for life. It is quite ridiculously and minutely detailed: “Life requires x% of nickel in the planets crust, it requires a sun that is x miles from the planet surface, etc. The list goes on and on and on. First of all, Let me note in passing that he is giving what amounts to a detailed phyisical spefcification for life, and more specifically human life. For those of you who fail to note this, the approach he is taking directly implies that human themselves are a complex physical process. (This isn’t my main point which I will get to in a moment). The idea of a human being being a complex physical process flys directly in the face of all esoteric notions of nonmaterial agency. What is the point of life being a complex physical thing, if it isn’t really relevant to what is special about humans.

    But anyway, to my main point: The next step for this individual is to go through the ridiculously long list of physical elements and assign a probability to each of them. He is quite vague about how he has actually derived these enormous numbers of probabilities. Furthermore, the probabilites are constantly changing (and new items are being constantly added to the list). Well the point of this whole exercise is to show that the probablity for getting a human being ostensibly exceeds the probabilistic resources of the physical universe. This to him indicates a nonmaterial intelligence is responsible to magically make up for the probablisitic deficit.

    It is not a compelling argument to me at all. The planet earth is an incredibly minute portion of the universe -ridiculously small. Let’s assume that man does assume a supreme position in creation. I am taking a drastic turn admittedly to talk in these terms, but for a large percentage of I.D. advocates (for example those that believe the Bible) this should be a natural point of view. The question would be, why would a humongous universe be created if its really good for nothing? What seems intuitive to me is that the universe is as large as it is and contains as much energy as it does, so that its probablistic resources COULD be exploited. If no one in I.D. can truly see the inherent reasonablenss in such an assumption, then I am truly at a loss. The self-serving efforts to compute probabilites with a foregone conculusion in mind (that there had to be something outside of the universe to account for life) completely dodges the obvious question as to why then does the universe even exist.

    So, from that vantage point, it seems clear how randomness MUST HAVE played a large role in our creation. The way I personally tend to look at of late, is that God ultimately would be an infinite source of passive information, but creation (i.e. the universe and life) would have been tapping into this source of information in a completely random and chaotic fashion. Some configurations resulting from such a process (for example some of those in biological life) do not prove to be ultimately viable. They exist for a while, then go extinct, and are never heard from again. But some do not die off – some in fact eventually attain immortality. I would personally tie Jesus into the whole picture at some point. And I think how the randomness of the universe eventually results in man and then immoratality, has something to do with God making a point to demons concerning His own Sovereignty. That is, God is ultimately sovereign over the seemingly random affairs of nature, just as the Bible says he is Sovereign over the affairs of men. (I’ve left a lot of question unanswered, and probably lost people on both sides of the argument now.)

    But to return specifically to the domain of science. If Man is a complex physical process, then the reasonabless of seeing him as resulting from complex physical processes in the universe becomes much more apparent. And this would be the appropriate domain of science -an explanation for man in terms of things that could be physically observed and quantified. To look at that vast universe out there and not be able to see how there could be preexisting phyiscal conditions that correlated to man, seems to me an incredible form of blindness. And to reiterate what I’ve said multiple times, that shouldn’t be a threat to anyone because you’re just pushing back what needs to be explained. IOW, if f(x) results in man, then f(x) is just man in a previous form. Just einstein as a baby is pretty incedible, or einsein as an embryonic cell, or take the physical picture back as far as you care to.

    So, now it should be apparent how my own views start to converge with many of those here at I.D., except on this concept of nonmaterial agency, which from a standpoint of science, I will continue maintain is an incoherent notion.

  76. A couple of other things:

    Even if theories of evolution and lifes’s origin are still woefully incomplete and only isolated bits and pieces of the process have been identified, is beside the point. It doesn’t turn agency into a coherent alternative from a scientific standpoint, IMO.

    Also I haven’t been able to reconcile absolutely everyting I said in the previous post with the Bible yet, nor that is something I’m comfortable with, so everything is tentative.

  77. everything

  78. StephenB:

    One again I am not begging the question

    Your talk of “distinguishing the agent from law and chance” only makes sense if agents are not themselves instances of law and chance. Do you agree?

    Since the phrase “distinguishing the agent from law and chance” is premised on an assumption that I don’t accept, how is it not begging the question?

    StephenB:

    Explain to me how you know that an intelligent agent wrote the paragraph and how you know that the paragraph did NOT happen as a result of law and chance.

    That’s two requests. The latter begs the question: Where did I say that I know that “the paragraph did NOT happen as a result of law and chance”?

    In regards to the former, I infer that coherent, responsive English text is written by humans because I know of lots and lots of humans who can write such text, and I know of no non-human object that can do so. (Nothing has passed the Turing Test, as far as I know.) The inference to intelligent agents follows because humans fall into that category, as I understand it.

  79. —–Rob: “Where did I say that I know that “the paragraph did NOT happen as a result of law and chance”?”

    I was hoping that you would clarify that point. Either you think that [A] the paragraph happened solely by law and chance, [B] it did not happen solely by law and chance. Which position do you take?

    —-“ I infer that coherent, responsive English text is written by humans because I know of lots and lots of humans who can write such text, and I know of no non-human object that can do so. (Nothing has passed the Turing Test, as far as I know.) The inference to intelligent agents follows because humans fall into that category, as I understand it.”

    So, do you believe that these human agents who write the paragraphs are “natural causes?”

    Did these paragraphs generated by humans happen by necessity, by chance, or by choice?

    If all “non-supernatural” causes are “natural causes,” including humans, how do you differentiate between those natural causes that can generate paragraphs and those that cannot.

  80. JT, I thank you for your honest and straghtforward exposition at @75. It is my policy to reward frankness and transparency by refraining from issuing heavy challenges asking lots of pointed questions. In any case, I don’t think I have ever heard of a belief system composed of such an amalgamation. Would it be fair to classify you as a Christian materialist?

    ——@76: “Also I haven’t been able to reconcile absolutely everyting I said in the previous post with the Bible yet, nor that is something I’m comfortable with, so everything is tentative.”

    You do indeed have a lot of tweaking to do, especially on the matter of free will.

  81. In any case, I don’t think I have ever heard of a belief system composed of such an amalgamation. Would it be fair to classify you as a Christian materialist?

    No, I’m working with a marketing team on names.

    You do indeed have a lot of tweaking to do, especially on the matter of free will.

    That isn’t where the problem lies. I was thinking about Hell for example.

    Angels to me could in fact be humans from the future, or at least from a timeless dimension. I’m thinking people that are dead now are really dead – they don’t have a spirit living in heaven somewhere. Nothing happens until the resurrection. And then people are essentially resurrected as sons of God – immortal beings (or end up in the other place.) Just a cursory overview, because you enquired.

  82. JT:

    First, I appreciate, like SB, that you have taken time to lay out your thoughts.

    Now, too, I have but little concern that you — or the undersigned, for that matter — will be able to undermine the truth, as the truth is independent of our ideas and arguments. It is as it is: that which says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not. [Cf. Ari, Metaphysics 1011b]

    I do however think that something has gone far amiss with origins science in our day, on multiple grounds. Things that are damaging our civilisation. And, that is what I have set out to respond to, as we may harm ourselves in ways that will cost our children especially, a lot.

    So, you will understand why I in turn will take up some points from your remarks, for my own comments. (Take the below as a bit of a markup on points of interest.)

    My thoughts are premised on the unexpected discovery starting in 1953, that in the heart of cell-based life is a nanotech-based computer, using DNA and its interface molecules as a core information store that is used as the data-base for algorithmically implemented life processes tied especially to expression and application of proteins. That means that evolutionary biology has opened itself to empirical test based on the findings of information theory and computer science, with statistical thermodynamics lurking in the background of both, as the components in view are molecular scale:

    1] JT, 75: Darwinists are also quick to point out that they ALSO do not subscribe to chance or randomness alone as an explanation. THEREFORE, the challenge is not to make people understand the randomness does not accomplish anything. RATHER, it is to show how various mechanisms proposed by evo theorists largely EQUATE to randomness, IF INDEED THIS IS THE CASE.

    Darwinists [e.g. Monod] make much of how the blend of chance and necessity is capable of the magic that either alone cannot. In particular, they think that a combination of random variation and natural selection [with some additional odds and ends] is capable to accounting for body-plan level biodiversity up to and including man, with mind and morals.

    Now, let us look at the two halves. First,t he one that is usually stressed as non-random, NS, On that, let us note from that ever so humble and reliably pro-Darwinist source, Wiki:

    Natural selection is the process by which favorable heritable traits become more common in successive generations of a population of reproducing organisms, and unfavorable heritable traits become less common, due to differential reproduction of genotypes. Natural selection acts on the phenotype, or the observable characteristics of an organism, such thatindividuals with favorable phenotypes are more likely to survive and reproduce than those with less favorable phenotypes. The phenotype’s genetic basis, the genotype associated with the favorable phenotype, will increase in frequency over the following generations. Over time, this process may result in adaptations that specialize organisms for particular ecological niches and may eventually result in the emergence of new species.

    Observe the highlights: “more likely” and “frequency,” i.e. NS boils down to being a proposed, non-foresighted probabilistic culler of already expressed — i.e. functional — variations. hence, “differential reproduction” claimed to account for not only speciation but across time origins of novel body plans. At best this accounts for the survival of the fittest, not their arrival. So, to get to the arrival of the novelties, we have to get engines of genotype variation that are expressed in phenotypes across populations. And, at each stage of phenotype expression, that has to be immediately functional and advantageous, thus selectable across time on a population basis.

    This leads to the core challenge, which starts with the required arrival of the first reproducing population of all: observed required DNA information to sustain life forms and to innovate body plans is of initial order 600 k bits – 1 Mbits for OOL, and on body plans, 10′s – 100′s of Mbits. So, whether you get to metabolism first or R/DNA world models, you are over two orders of magnitude of bits beyond the 1,000 bit threshold where the entire probabilistic resources of the observed cosmos across its lifespan are inadequate to scan 1 in 10^150th part of the config space. And, on body plan origination, it is far worse than that. So, on empirical evidence, there is no good reason to infer that our observed cosmos is capable of scanning the config space to get us to the islands of bio-functional configurations, per blind variations in genotypes or molecules. And, in the pre-biotic world, the thermodynamics strongly favour moving away from complexity towards low- potential energy, simple molecules.

    Now also, observed biofunction relates to molecules implicating hundreds of molecules that are of the order of 100′s – 10,000′s of atoms big; and if earlier biofunction did not, there is no good thermodynamic reason to expect that the trend thereafter would be towards higher complexity, but he opposite.After all, in observed life we see that the chemical reactions are carefully programmed, sequenced and controlled, with tightly managed energy feed-ins, all using molecules produced by earlier phases of the same process. That does not sound like a self-starting process.

    But, we know that intelligences routinely create systems that do that sort of thing. So, on inference to best explanation, core biofunctions and body plans are intelligently programmed. On mechanisms to do that, I have no need to speculate at the moment.

    2] The added ingredient to make it all seemingly work for evolution is natural laws (and also the environment). So its mutations plus natural laws. (Not saying you don’t realize this, but for the sake of clarity…)

    Now, of course, natural laws have a characteristic signature: once the initial conditions are set up, the dynamics will reliably play out, and will in general produce outcomes of low contingency, i.e there will be a reliable pattern. Now, apart from NS [already addressed -- and note Behe's edge of observed evolution . . .], what is the pattern observed?

    The Cambrian fossil life revolution answers: major body plan innovation comes first, then variations within the pattern. Top-down, not bottom up, on the generally accepted model of natural history. but, that immediately poses a challenge [as Darwin recognised, and hoped that the missing links would be found to resolve; 150 years later, they have not and with 100's of thousands of fossil species as classified and millions of fossils in museums after intense global search, the statistical odds of such emerging are now very low]:

    The Cambrian explosion represents a remarkable jump in the specified complexity or “complex specified information” (CSI) of the biological world . . . One way to estimate the amount of new CSI that appeared with the Cambrian animals is to count the number of new cell types that emerged with them (Valentine 1995:91-93) . . . the more complex animals that appeared in the Cambrian (e.g., arthropods) would have required fifty or more cell types . . . New cell types require many new and specialized proteins. New proteins, in turn, require new genetic information. Thus an increase in the number of cell types implies (at a minimum) a considerable increase in the amount of specified genetic information. Molecular biologists have recently estimated that a minimally complex single-celled organism would require between 318 and 562 kilobase pairs of DNA to produce the proteins necessary to maintain life (Koonin 2000). More complex single cells might require upward of a million base pairs. Yet to build the proteins necessary to sustain a complex arthropod such as a trilobite would require orders of magnitude more coding instructions. The genome size of a modern arthropod, the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, is approximately 180 million base pairs (Gerhart & Kirschner 1997:121, Adams et al. 2000). [Meyer, 2004]

    In short, we see sharp discrete jumps — and even 10 – 20 bn years on the gamut of the observed cosmos not just one planet would make no practical difference — that go far beyond the reasonable reach of random mutations as mechanisms to originate bio-information. However, we do know that inventors often produce sharp discrete jumps in functional information of the required orders of magnitude.

    Perhaps, your intent is that there are ordering laws that waft drifting rafts on the config sea towards islands and archipelagos of function, or else that there are oracles that somehow broadcast warmer/colder signals even before function emerges by landing on the beach of an island. [I am perfectly willing to accept that hill-climbing mechanisms will allow one to go to optimum performance once one is on an island. but eh issue is to get tot he islands and archipelagos.]

    Such laws, of course, have never been observed, but that is not all. For, if such were observed they would immediately imply that our cosmos was set up to create life and to diversify it into a multitude of body-plans. Thus, we would face a massive increment in cosmological fine-tuning, which points straight to a powerful a nd intelligent designer beyond the cosmos. but equally, we have no direct observation of such laws — which should by now have manifested in OOL experiments on plausible pre-biotic scenarios. [Miller-Urey type experiments -- apart from being predicated on questionable atmospheric conditions -- in the end show that we get not to incremental complexity, but would most likely produce tars, random arrangements of organic molecules.]

    And, given that we now see that planets are fairly common in our galactic neighbourhood — which is a galactic habitable zone per Gonzalez et al — then we should expect that we would find sings of such intelligent life in that neighbourhood. For, it is a characteristic of natural law that it acts reliably once conditions are right. the failure to observe signs of independent intelligent life in our near-space neighbourhood [starting with the solar system], is not a hopeful sign for such suggested laws.

    3] what if the natural laws were, “If the next mutation gets me closer to an eye, then accept else reject”. Obviously such natural laws could accomplish quite a lot. And please let us all understand: Regardless of what Plato said or believed, it would not require an “Intelligence” or Agency operating outside of law to discern whether or not a mutation got you closer to an eye. All it would require is some internalized template of what an eye was.

    In short, you are speaking of built-in oracles that broadcast warmer-colder signals to as yet non-functional variations in DNA molecules. This requires front-loaded information [e.g. Platonic Forms . . .], and would imply design; precisely as Marks and Dembski are now investigating and have forthcoming publications on. [Have you seen the preprintes at their site?]

    4] I do not believe the concept of Agency as something distinct from Law and chance is a coherent idea . . . I think that we operate via complex physical and chemical processes. However unsettling the determinism of such a scenario is to you or anyone and however threatening it is too someone’s sacrosanct concept of “Free-Will is irrelevant.

    First, just how is the observed distinction between chance, natural regularity and design “incoherent,” given that it is a routine observation — as routine as the text in long enough ASCII strings constituting contextually responsive English communications vs a simple repeating pattern or a typical at- random string? Or, the falling of a die, its tumbling to a value, and whether or no that die is fair or loaded [Notice, I am not using AGENT just now. In short, you are projecting a conclusion back into a logically prior observation. (In short, agency is a conclusion in this context, not a term of observation.) I am not committing the circular argument you think I am.]

    Now, from the other direction: we observe and experience ourselves as deciding, reasoning and acting by our own responsible volition; and in fact community life and our entire civilisation are premised on that understanding. The abandonment of the concept of agency therefore is one we should take only with extreme care, and on very good warrant. But therein lieth the rub, as. e.g. Reppert points out — and NB I give the source on the principle of not plagiarising, not as an fallacious appeal to blind adherence to authority [I have to say that in light of certain remarks by Rob . . . ]:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    a –> Considering the brain-body system as a cybernetic machine or a “meat robot” [cf here Derek Smith], we can see that there are cause-effect chains around the loops, including in brain-processing. Such loops are based on the internal state of the modules in the system, and the forward path, feedback path and comparator sensor, comparison and actuating signals they exchange with one another. That is how cybernetic or control loops work.

    b –> But also, such loops are highly sensitive to architecture, processing laws [transfer functions], interfaces, and to degree of tuning — even in adaptive or learning systems. The intelligence resides not in the mere physical processing or transfer of signals, but in the competently managed structured integration of the loop and especially in how it is made to be robust against drift, noise and perturbations. (That is what we pay — handsomely — Instrumentation and Control engineers to do. And the level of responsibility they must undertake for serious designs is crushing. never mind what happens when we look at somewhat analogous managerial “control loops,” where people are “components” . . . )

    c –> Thus, Reppert’s point: rationality lieth not in signal- system module interactions, but in the inferential process tied to cognitive content. A process that is radically different from mere cause-effect processing of signals and the symbols that they encode.

    d –> in fact the Derek Smith model gives us a way forward. The two-tier controller. In such a system, level 1 is the loop controller, but level 2 is a supervisory and creative entity that does the real designer level work: creative imagination, projections, planning of paths, judgements. It then feeds into the cybernetics,and interacts with it towards goals, dynamically. In short, wee see that modelling in terms of a mind-brain interface makes a lot of sense of the data and our internal experience of being conscious, deciding, reasoning, morally constrained creatures. There is a cybernetic subsystem, but it is not autonomous, it interacts with a higher order system that has the capacities that are not to be found in the nature and interaction of material components and associated signals.

    e –> That is, we are not locked up to a materialist a priori, with the absurdities it implicates, Absurdities that Reppert (duly multiplied by Plantinga et al,)points towards: whatever triggers brain states and such like will drive the process, so if this is completely internal to matter, rationality is at an end. My simple summary os why is:

    . . [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. 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 . . . . In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic . . .

    f –> In short, the real issue is not whether agency is a coherent view of humanity, but whether evolutionary materialism is. And the clear answer is NO.

    5] I think everyone understands you’re never ever going to get some describable pattern characterizing a string of 1000 coin flips. Everyone understands you won’t get a 1000 heads, or any other kind of discernable pattern (much less Romeo and Juliet). You could conceivably get it, but the chances of doing so are absurdly small and can be ruled out (So needless to say, WE AGREE on that point.) . . . . What seems intuitive to me is that the universe is as large as it is and contains as much energy as it does, so that its probabilistic resources COULD be exploited . . . . from that vantage point, it seems clear how randomness MUST HAVE played a large role in our creation

    The FIRST problem is not the coin flips to get to 1,000; but the equivalent of getting to 600,000; for OOL.

    Then onwards, dozens of times over 10 – 100 millions, for body-plan level evolution as proposed. Such are well beyond the probabilistic resources of the observed cosmos. A cosmos whose physics is BTW, exceedingly fine-tuned for the existence of a world in which C-based cellular life is possible. On many, many dimensions. [As you will note from above, fine tuning is a sign of serious engineering work.]

    ___________

    JT, now that you have articulated your view in some details, I think it is clear that you are being pulled by your own reasoning towards a design oriented view of the cosmos and of life in it.

    GEM of TKI

  83. R0b (#78, to StephenB):

    “Your talk of “distinguishing the agent from law and chance” only makes sense if agents are not themselves instances of law and chance. Do you agree?”

    I certainly don’t. I think you are missing the important point: conscious intelligent agents are observable entities, not at all rare, and their behaviour can be well observed. The design process and designed objects can all be observed. These are facts. Why do you think there are words of common use like “design”, “intelligence”, “consciousness” and similar in all human languages? Like many other univeral words, they have been created to describe what we routinely experience, both subjectively and objectively.

    On the contrary, the concept which you refer to, that “agents are themselves instances of law and chance”, is a specific philosophy, certainly not universal or self-evident, which has only recently generated a scientific theory, strong AI. One can accept those positions or not. I certainly don’t, and so many others, both here and in the whole world.

    That’s why to speak of agents is perfectly legitimate, because it is based on universally shared facts, while criticizing the concept of agents in name of a minority philosophy and of a bizarre and controversial (and I am being very kind) scientific theory is a rather peculiar cognitive attitude.

  84. KF [82]:
    (I’ve pared down my comments because I was just repeating myself from previous posts.)

    The Cambrian fossil life revolution answers: major body plan innovation comes first, then variations within the pattern. Top-down, not bottom up, on the generally accepted model of natural history…

    In short, we see sharp discrete jumps — and even 10 – 20 bn years on the gamut of the observed cosmos not just one planet would make no practical difference — that go far beyond the reasonable reach of random mutations as mechanisms to originate bio-information. However, we do know that inventors often produce sharp discrete jumps in functional information of the required orders of magnitude.

    So your observation about “sharp discrete jumps” in the Cambrian explosion would appear to be irrelevant because to you even 10 – 20 billion years and the entire universe at our disposal is too sharp and discrete a jump for life to occurs without the magic of intelligence. I do not necessarilly mean to riducule by using the term magic. But intelligence as your conceiving it is a black box that all we know about it is that it does marvelous miraculous things by some unknown and actually indescribable process. We know its indescribable because its asserted to operate outside of law. And we cannot describe things without laws. (Furthermore, the Cambrian Explosion was 70 million years – is that what they say?)

    I would say a human inventor works by long hours of observation and then simulating multiple scenarios in his mind. He’ll think about one configuration and say, “That won’t work” He’ll think about another and say, “That won’t work” and so on. He’s using his brain as an alternate to the external world and can simulate alternate scenarios of physical reality in his brain. Eventually though he’ll have to start building prototypes. The first prototype won’t work. So he’ll have to figure out why not, ususally starting with a visual inspection. He may then take a part out to see what effect that has on the system. The part won’t be chosen at random obviously but the potential problem areas will be narrowed down by eliminating those components which through experience have proven to be reliable. So the human creation process is a laborious process of trial and error.

    That part of the labor is simulated in a mind does not make it a nonphysical process. Furthermore the brain is always an error prone tool. It is just such an inescapable and frustrating reality in programming for example that no matter how carefully you’ve planned and thought out some augmentation to some process, after you’ve made all the changes, there will ALWAYS be compiler errors – ALWAYS. And then after you’ve elimated compiler errors there will ALWAYS be runtime errors that have to be hunted down and eliminated. And then weeks later some situation will come up that you did not forsee and then you will have to go back and make changes again. Its a never ending process of errors being discovered and eliminated. I could almost see the phyiscal universe as a big brain, running through multiple scenarios and then sticking with what works.

    But my point would be, how could “Intelligence” be a magical black box operating outside of laws that makes physical improbabilites vanish? This is exactly how its is being treated in I.D. Intelligence as we know it is actually a physical process (IMHO). If God somehow has to step in and materialize major forms instantaneously, without causal precursors, thats not at all how our intelligence functions. So if that’s how God works then it seems unjustified to label it intelligence in an attempt to equate it to what man does. Furthermore it takes society operating over millinea to create the complex artifacts we enjoy. Human creativity is a long contigent process involving numerous human elements operating completely independently with contingent causal precursors at every step of the way.

    Perhaps, your intent is that there are ordering laws that waft drifting rafts on the config sea towards islands and archipelagos of function, or else that there are oracles that somehow broadcast warmer/colder signals even before function emerges by landing on the beach of an island. [I am perfectly willing to accept that hill-climbing mechanisms will allow one to go to optimum performance once one is on an island. but eh issue is to get tot he islands and archipelagos.]

    I am definitely not imagining oracles operating actively like that to monitor a process and broadcast hints. It seems that “Intelligence” as conceived in I.D is the ultimate oracle, invoked whenever we don’t know how something works. I can imagine reality itself as the oracle though, but operating in a passive sense.

    And, given that we now see that planets are fairly common in our galactic neighbourhood — which is a galactic habitable zone per Gonzalez et al — then we should expect that we would find sings of such intelligent life in that neighbourhood. For, it is a characteristic of natural law that it acts reliably once conditions are right.

    But its not just sufficient to have a planet. As I said previously there are thousands of known requirements for life, so it would not be surprising if life were extremely rare in the universe.

    [JT:]It would not require “Intelligence” or Agency operating outside of law to discern whether or not a mutation got you closer to an eye. All it would require is some internalized template of what an eye was.

    In short, you are speaking of built-in oracles that broadcast warmer-colder signals to as yet non-functional variations in DNA molecules.

    NO, I am NOT speaking of built-in oracles. If you wrote a program that could discern an eye, (which you could ) that would NOT be an oracle. An oracle is something that operates outside of law. A set of program instructions would be laws not an oracle.

    [I do not believe the concept of Agency as something distinct from Law and chance is a coherent idea . . . I think that we operate via complex physical and chemical processes. However unsettling the determinism of such a scenario is to you or anyone and however threatening it is too someone’s sacrosanct concept of “Free-Will is irrelevant.

    First, just how is the observed distinction between chance, natural regularity and design “incoherent,” given that it is a routine observation — as routine as the text in long enough ASCII strings constituting contextually responsive English communications vs a simple repeating pattern or a typical at- random string?

    You talk about natural regularity and your intention is some reductioniist notion of what law can accomplish or what natural laws must be in your mind. (E.g. wind, erosion, etc.) But the only way to accurately characterize any phenomenon is through a series of laws - that is what a program is. What is in DNA is laws. Contingent states of affairs can also be characterized as laws.

    –> Considering the brain-body system as a cybernetic machine or a “meat robot” [cf here Derek Smith ], we can see that there are cause-effect chains around the loops, including in brain-processing. Such loops are based on the internal state of the modules in the system, and the forward path, feedback path and comparator sensor, comparison and actuating signals they exchange with one another. That is how cybernetic or control loops work.
    b –> But also, such loops are highly sensitive to architecture, processing laws [transfer functions], interfaces, and to degree of tuning — even in adaptive or learning systems. The intelligence resides not in the mere physical processing or transfer of signals, but in the competently managed structured integration of the loop and especially in how it is made to be robust against drift, noise and perturbations. (That is what we pay — handsomely — Instrumentation and Control engineers to do. And the level of responsibility they must undertake for serious designs is crushing. never mind what happens when we look at somewhat analogous managerial “control loops,” where people are “components” . . . )

    I wouldn’t say that a Robot functions by means of the laws of electricity for example, or “the mere physical processing or transfer of signals”. It operates on the basis of the program instructions that define it. Those instructions are laws. You say that the robot has to be “competently managed ” the implication being that there has to be the continual ongoing involvement of human intelligence for that robot to function. Rhetorically it seems that’s what you would like the implication to be. You apparently want the implication to be that the Robot functions via the magic of human intelligence, not on the basis of its program.
    The same suggestive rhetoric is employed in the following:

    d –> in fact the Derek Smith model gives us a way forward. The two-tier controller. In such a system, level 1 is the loop controller, but level 2 is a supervisory and creative entity that does the real designer level work: creative imagination, projections, planning of paths, judgements. It then feeds into the cybernetics,and interacts with it towards goals, dynamically.

    (So I’ll end it somewhat abruptly here).

  85. gpuccio:

    I certainly don’t.

    So you think it makes sense to talk about distinguishing X from Y when X is an instance of Y? Does it make sense to talk about “distinguishing my pine tree from trees”?

    I think you are missing the important point: conscious intelligent agents are observable entities, not at all rare, and their behaviour can be well observed.

    Nope, I haven’t missed that point at all. I’ve never disputed the existence of intelligent agents.

    On the contrary, the concept which you refer to, that “agents are themselves instances of law and chance”, is a specific philosophy,

    Absolutely! So is the concept that “agents are not instances of law and chance”. Unless, of course, “law and chance” are defined mathematically or operationally. Has the ID community done so, or is it content with premising its arguments on a metaphysic?

    That’s why to speak of agents is perfectly legitimate, because it is based on universally shared facts, while criticizing the concept of agents in name of a minority philosophy and of a bizarre and controversial (and I am being very kind) scientific theory is a rather peculiar cognitive attitude.

    Who criticized the concept of agents? I speak of agents all the time.

    As for Strong AI, I see it as a philosophical position, not a scientific theory. It probably depends on how you define it.

    As I’ve mentioned before, the laws of physics are at least Turing equivalent. To show that human-like intelligence cannot be implemented with the laws of physics, you would have to at least show that such intelligence exceeds the capabilities of a Turing machine. Nobody has done so. And that would only be one step toward ruling out the entire category of “law+chance”, whatever that entails, as a basis for intelligence.

  86. R0b wrote:

    Does it make sense to talk about “distinguishing my pine tree from trees”?

    Yes it does. “Pine tree” is more specific than “tree”, and pine trees have things (like pine cones and needle-like leaves) that other members of the set “trees” may not have.

    So it is absolutely correct and helpful to mark a distinction between “pine tree” (subset) and just “tree” (the larger set), or between “intelligent object” and “object” (with “intelligent objects” being a subset of “objects”.)

    It amazes me that you’d waste gpuccio’s time with such a trivial objection.

    Atom

  87. Atom:

    So it is absolutely correct and helpful to mark a distinction between “pine tree” (subset) and just “tree” (the larger set), or between “intelligent object” and “object” (with “intelligent objects” being a subset of “objects”.)

    To get some context, StephenB’s statement was:

    “That would be the same as conceding the reality of a design inference and the possibility of distinguishing the agent from law and chance.”

    Of course “the agent” is distinct from “law and chance” in the sense that they don’t refer to equivalent sets, regardless of whether agency is a proper subset of or disjoint with law+chance. But I don’t think that StephenB was referring to such a trivial distinction.

  88. R0b,

    With due respect (since I haven’t followed the discussion), I’ll submit to you that StephenB’s distinction between the “agent” and “law and chance” sets was functional (in the sense that members of the “agent” set can do things not expected of all members of the “law and chance” set, even if “agent” is a subset.)

    Furthermore, if Agents can do things that we don’t expect part (or likely most) of Nature to do, then it is possible, at least in principle, to see if there is anything that distinguishes the set “agent” from “law + chance” (even if this second set is merely the complement of the first, rather than a disjoint set, and our label “law + chance” only refers to those parts of nature that are “not agent.”) Once you can draw a distinction between the powers of Agents from the powers of subsets of Nature (which could in principle include an early earth free of life), then we need to develop a science to figure out how we can sort items into their proper sets (“Agent” vs. “Law + Chance”/”Not Agent”.)

    This is ID at its core. We distinguish between intelligent Agents and blind forces, because Agents can demonstrably do certain things that blind forces (at least the ones we’re familiar with) have not been able to demonstrably do. For example, an Agent can construct an intel-based computer in one week whereas blind forces (for the time begin, anything “not agent”) have not been shown capable of doing so. ID investigates why this is the case and why we don’t see FSCI (or complex machines) created in nature all the time, when we’re cognizant of the cause.

    Anyway, the point is that we can draw a useful distinction between “Agent” and “Law+Chance” based on a functional definition even if the first set is a subset of the second.

    Atom

  89. StephenB:

    I was hoping that you would clarify that point. Either you think that [A] the paragraph happened solely by law and chance, [B] it did not happen solely by law and chance. Which position do you take?

    I’ll say first that my position on this is irrelevant to any of the my points, but I’ll answer as best as I can.

    (1) If law=determinism and chance=non-determinism, then I have no logical choice but to choose [A].

    (2) If, on the other hand, “law” includes only known laws of nature, then my position, with no scientific justification whatsoever, is [B].

    (3) If “law” includes all law-like behavior that is yet to be discovered, then it seems that (1) applies, so the answer is [A].

    So, do you believe that these human agents who write the paragraphs are “natural causes?”

    It depends entirely on what you mean by “natural”. If, as Barry says, ID uses the term in the same way that archeologists use it, then human agents are, by definition, not natural causes.

    But when we speak of “naturalism”, we’re obviously not referring to a view that denies the existence of humans. My sense is that scientists use the term “methodological naturalism” loosely to mean “assume that the correct hypothesis, whatever it is, is in principle testable”. (This might be more aptly named “methodological empiricism”.) Under this sense of “natural”, the paragraph was certainly generated by a cause that’s natural, simply by virtue of the fact that we can in principle test the hypothesis that a human wrote it.

    I’ll answer your last two questions as I get time.

  90. ROb,

    You’ve been at this same line of reasoning so long. Please do a charitible favor for the good of all who have ever held a thought in their heads.

    Please state what you are arguing in a short distict sentence.

  91. Rob, Gpuccio, Atom, Kairosfocus:

    I am fussing over terms because I want everyone concerned to understand that, in my judgment, all these long discussions about quantifying CSI are totally futile until everyone concerned will concede basic facts about ID definitions and stop misunderstanding (or abusing) the language of “natural causes.”

    Put another way, it seems unfitting to discuss analytic geometry with anyone who disputes the proposition 2+2=4. When you are at that point, all the advanced discussions are shaped by the initial minsunderstanding. As Aristotle pointed out, a little error in the beginning becomes a large error in the end.

    Our task at the moment, it would seem, is to address the little error in the beginning, which seems like an attempt to reframe ID’s clear definition of “natural” (law+chance only) and therefore create a linguistic barrier which no amount of logic or scientific reasoning can overcome.

    Pay close attention to these two paragraphs by Rob, (not to pick on him, they could just as easily have been written by JayM or JT:)

    The subject is about detecting the cause of the written paragraph. Notice especially how definitively the word “natural” is being used Case #1 and how equivocally it is being used in Case #2: (Almost as if meanings are being shifted to serve one purpose and then another).

    Case #1

    —-”But when we speak of “naturalism”, we’re obviously not referring to a view that denies the existence of humans. My sense is that scientists use the term “methodological naturalism” loosely to mean “assume that the correct hypothesis, whatever it is, is in principle testable”. (This might be more aptly named “methodological empiricism”.) Under this sense of “natural”, the paragraph was certainly generated by a cause that’s natural, simply by virtue of the fact that we can in principle test the hypothesis that a human wrote it.”

    Case #2 (answering this question by me: Either you think that [A] the paragraph happened solely by law and chance, [B] it did not happen solely by law and chance. Which position do you take?

    —-”I’ll say first that my position on this is irrelevant to any of the my points, but I’ll answer as best as I can.

    —-”(1) If law=determinism and chance=non-determinism, then I have no logical choice but to choose [A].

    —–”(2) If, on the other hand, “law” includes only known laws of nature, then my position, with no scientific justification whatsoever, is [B].”

    —–”(3) If “law” includes all law-like behavior that is yet to be discovered, then it seems that (1) applies, so the answer is [A].”

    Now I realize that science must allow for the remote possibility of a possible fourth cause, (something other and law/chance/agency,) but I don’t think that is the hang up here. This seems to me a clear cut case of refusing to allow ID to define itself and its operating definition of “natural causes.” Am I being unfair or otherwise diagnosing the problem improperly?

  92. Upright BiPed:

    Please state what you are arguing in a short distict sentence.

    No problem: ID assumes that design is irreducible to chance+necessity, but they have never made a scientific case for this.

  93. Atom, perhaps I’m misunderstanding you, and maybe I’m misunderstanding StephenB and gpuccio as well, but I still don’t think that StephenB was talking about distinguishing something from the entire category of law+chance. It’s pretty trivial to look at a human and say, “That is not the entire category of law+chance,” or look at an artifact and say, “That was not caused by the entire category of law and chance.” Maybe StephenB can clarify for us. I apologize if I’ve misinterpreted anyone.

    Atom:

    For example, an Agent can construct an intel-based computer in one week whereas blind forces (for the time begin, anything “not agent”) have not been shown capable of doing so.

    By the same token, human-made computers can do things that nothing else has been shown capable of doing. And yet we know for a fact that the execution of computer programs reduces to natural law (regardless of who or what designed the computer and wrote the program).

    Human intelligent is undisputably striking and unique within the observed universe. But I don’t know that its uniqueness constitutes a scientific case that it’s irreducible to the stuff that makes up the rest of the universe.

    As you brought up, the speed with which human intelligence works might provide a basis for such a case. Nobody has shown that humans can compute things that the laws of physics cannot, but we could conceivably show that humans can compute things faster than the laws of physics can in principle.

    That would make for an interesting argument, but as far as I know, nobody has been able to put a limit on what physically-based non-linear systems are capable of. We’re not even sure that they’re limited to Turing equivalence.

  94. StephenB, in Case#2, I said “known laws of nature” because I didn’t want to say simply “known laws”, which might have been interpreted to include man-made laws. Perhaps I should have said “descriptive laws, as opposed to prescriptive laws”. I thought that “known laws of nature” would be understood to mean known laws of physics, chemistry, etc.

    Of course I shifted meanings between Case#1 and the paragraph that preceded it, as I was contrasting two different usages of the term. My whole point was that the term is equivocal, and I explicitly said that the answer to your question depended on the usage.

    (Almost as if meanings are being shifted to serve one purpose and then another).

    I’m sorry that you didn’t understand my single usage of the term in Case#2, but I sincerely thought that it would be obvious. What do you think my purposes were?

  95. R0b wrote:

    By the same token, human-made computers can do things that nothing else has been shown capable of doing. And yet we know for a fact that the execution of computer programs reduces to natural law (regardless of who or what designed the computer and wrote the program).

    I am not arguing that human intelligence is not ultimately reducible to a (designed) arrangement of matter operating on the laws of physics alone; I have a hunch that it isn’t the case, but for the sake of the current argument, I’m pointing out that this is irrelevant for drawing distinctions between Agents and blind forces (the “non-agent” part of nature.) We can draw the distinction functionally, regardless of the underlying metaphysical basis.

    And once we make that distinction, the science of ID becomes incredibly relevant and in need of further exploration/development.

    Atom

  96. P.S. StephenB:

    So, do you believe that these human agents who write the paragraphs are “natural causes?”

    Did these paragraphs generated by humans happen by necessity, by chance, or by choice?

    If all “non-supernatural” causes are “natural causes,” including humans, how do you differentiate between those natural causes that can generate paragraphs and those that cannot.

    Why did you put “natural causes” in quotes if you intended your own usage?

    I can think of at least relevant definitions of the term natural:

    (1) Law+chance
    (2) Not human-made (independent of whether humans reduce to law+chance
    (3) Testable

    I interpret Barry’s FAQ to indicate (2), but you say that the ID definition is (1). No problem. I answered your question according to all three usages, and explicitly indicated the usage for each answer. I did this to untangle the terminology, not to tangle it. Since ID proponents don’t use the term consistently, and since you put it in quotes, how else was I supposed to answer?

    (Are you under the impression that ID proponents use the term consistently? If so, would you like a boatload of counterexamples?)

  97. I am not arguing that human intelligence is not ultimately reducible to a (designed) arrangement of matter operating on the laws of physics alone; I have a hunch that it isn’t the case, but for the sake of the current argument, I’m pointing out that this is irrelevant for drawing distinctions between Agents and blind forces (the “non-agent” part of nature.) We can draw the distinction functionally, regardless of the underlying metaphysical basis.

    And once we make that distinction, the science of ID becomes incredibly relevant and in need of further exploration/development.

    I agree completely. But I don’t see any evidence that these terms are being defined functionally by the ID community. When I see ID leaders like Dembski contrasting ID to materialism and speaking of the irreducibility of design, it sure seems that the terms are being used metaphysically.

  98. Meanings have been superceded by terms.

    Argument for argument’s sake.

  99. —-I wrote: If all “non-supernatural” causes are “natural causes,” including humans, how do you differentiate between those natural causes that can generate paragraphs and those that cannot.

    —-Rob: “Why did you put “natural causes” in quotes if you intended your own usage?”

    To highlight the counterpoise between supernatural and natural. Once again you answer a question with a question. The question still stands. I didn’t ask for three definitions. I asked:

    If all “non-supernatural” causes are “natural causes,” including humans, how do YOU differentiate between those natural causes that can generate paragraphs and those that cannot.

    (For all concerned: I hope this makes it clear that we should not be discussing CSI, mathematical patterns or anything else that presupposes a common usage of basic terms.)

    —-”(Are you under the impression that ID proponents use the term consistently? If so, would you like a boatload of counterexamples?)”

    It depends on the context. It also depends on whether ID proponents are responding to arguments and double meanings such as those you are presenting.

    On the other hand, if you have an example of someone discussing the explanatory filter who uses any other formulation other than law, chance, agency, I would like to be informed about that. Can you point to any such case?

  100. —-Rob: “But I don’t see any evidence that these terms are being defined functionally by the ID community. When I see ID leaders like Dembski contrasting ID to materialism and speaking of the irreducibility of design, it sure seems that the terms are being used metaphysically.”

    Have you ever heard of Dembski using those metaphysical terms while discussing CSI or the explanatory filter? What you may hear about is Dembski discussing ID science in a metaphysical context, in which case meatphysical terms are appropriate. He is, after all, a philosopher as much as a scientist. Are you taking the context into account? Is this what you mean when you suggest that ID proponents are using terms “inconsistently?”

  101. R0b:

    “Absolutely! So is the concept that “agents are not instances of law and chance”. Unless, of course, “law and chance” are defined mathematically or operationally. Has the ID community done so, or is it content with premising its arguments on a metaphysic?”

    Your answers are very to the point, so I will try to be brief and clear in my counter argument.

    You still ignore that agents have one important feature (consciousness and all its properties, including intelligence and purpose) which is never observed in non conscious agents.

    Unless and until someone can demonstrate that such properties can be expressed by objects working merely by deterministic laws, known or not, it is perfectly correct to consider them a special set of observables, and to study their behaviour and properties as separate form that of non conscious objects. That is not metaphysics, but simple empiricism.

    To do that, I have no need to show that “agents are not instances of law and chance”. The problem if they are of if they are not can very well remain unsolved, for the moment. The only thing I need to do is prove what is under the eyes of all, that agents have properties and abilities which are not shared by other classes of things for which the law and chance paradigm can be tested.

    I can eprfectly agree with Atom when he says:

    “I am not arguing that human intelligence is not ultimately reducible to a (designed) arrangement of matter operating on the laws of physics alone; I have a hunch that it isn’t the case, but for the sake of the current argument, I’m pointing out that this is irrelevant for drawing distinctions between Agents and blind forces (the “non-agent” part of nature.) We can draw the distinction functionally, regardless of the underlying metaphysical basis.”

    Indeed, I have more than a “hunch” that “it isn’t the case”, but again we do not need a metaphysical consensus about that for our discussions. Our discussions can stay perfectly empirical.

    You too seem to agree with Atom. You say:

    “I agree completely. But I don’t see any evidence that these terms are being defined functionally by the ID community. When I see ID leaders like Dembski contrasting ID to materialism and speaking of the irreducibility of design, it sure seems that the terms are being used metaphysically.”

    Isn’t being conscious or not a functional definition? Isn’t displaying recognizable purposes a functional definition? Isn’t being able to generate ever new FSCI a functional definition? What is metaphysical in all that? I am very careful never to use any metaphysical assumption in my ID reasoning.

    You say:

    “By the same token, human-made computers can do things that nothing else has been shown capable of doing. And yet we know for a fact that the execution of computer programs reduces to natural law (regardless of who or what designed the computer and wrote the program).”

    You know all too well that a fundamental point of ID is that computers can do that exactly because they are designed, and they already have a lot of FSCI in them. While the execution of computer programs can certainly be explained in terms of necessity (and maybe, even too often, chance), the process of designing a new computer program requires a conscious intelligent agents (except for cases where a computer program has been instructed in passively generating or modifying other programs, but you are well aware that in that case the program is justv using the information given it form its programmer). In no case a computer program has been shown able to consciously build another program for a purpose. Indeed, in no case a computer program has been shown to be conscious, as I believe you agree. And in no case a computer program can creatively use language (creating new specifications, new meanings, and so on).

    You say:

    “As I’ve mentioned before, the laws of physics are at least Turing equivalent. To show that human-like intelligence cannot be implemented with the laws of physics, you would have to at least show that such intelligence exceeds the capabilities of a Turing machine. Nobody has done so. And that would only be one step toward ruling out the entire category of “law+chance”, whatever that entails, as a basis for intelligence.”

    I have to show nothing. Consciousness, purpose, all subjectibe experience, and easy generation of new FSCI all exceed the capabilities of a Turing machine, according to both our empirical experience and our theoretical reasoning. To believe the contrary is to believe in strong AI. But you say:

    “As for Strong AI, I see it as a philosophical position, not a scientific theory. It probably depends on how you define it.”

    Well, strong AI is certainly bad philosophy, but it is also a scientific theory: the assumption that the complexity of the software can generate consciousness and all its properties is certainly a scientific theory, although IMO a completely false one. And indeed, strong AI is constantly trying to build models of how software could do that, without ever showing a software which can do it.

    You could object that strong AI is not scientific because it cannot really be falsified. That could have some truth in it, but I am not completely sure of it, and moreover I am not a strict Popperian, and I can allow even theories which cannot be falsified, provided that we agree that, until they are verified, we have no reason to give them our attention.

    So, to sum up: the hard problem of consciousness remains one of the biggest problem in scientific knowledge, maybe the biggest. Our definition of agents relies critically on it. Unless and until that problem is scientifically solved by a satisfying scinetific theory, it is necessary to consider conscious agents as an empirical category, without superimposing any philosophical concept to them. ID, for its purposes of design detection, only needs to define agents empirically. There is no need to go beyond that.

  102. Atom, Stephen and GPuccio:

    Very well said.

    It seems we are here bringing the issues into sharp focus: we are thinking empirically, and tasking things from what we see and how different things are best explained in that light, and then taking them how far they can go.

    I find it instructive that when we do that, the rhetorical — and I am using that word advisedly — counter is to assert that metaphysics is being smuggled in.

    Why?

    Well, in effect because the assumed default “scientific” position of those who object to the design school of thought is, by and large: materialism.

    So, we invite such to the worldview level table of comparative difficulties, to address this on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power. And, lo, they now impose a criterion of in effect demonstration on their [question-begging]terms, for what is an empirical investigation that — per the nature of science itself — is only reasonably warranted per best current explanation. Worse, when we point that out, and show the empirical ladder from . . .

    [a] agents exist per observation and experience, to

    [b] such agents often leave characteristic signs of intelligence (not at all reasonably attributable to chance and/or necessity in cases where we can observe the origin process, i.e the empirical base . . . ) , to

    [c] FSCI is one of these, to

    [d] FSCI is exemplified by contextually responsive ASCII English text of 143 or more characters, to

    [e] Similarly, source or object code of more than 1,000 bits is clearly also FSCI, to

    [f] DNA is a functional, digital data string well in excess of 1,000 functional bits, so

    [g] DNA is credibly — per inference to best current explanation — designed . . .

    [h] they assert that we must show that designers are not the products of chance + necessity.

    But in fact, we have here shown that on warrant by inference to best explanation, we have a case of design that is not reasonably attributable to humans. No metaphysical implications are then pulled out of the hat; indeed, from the beginning of the Design Theory in modern times, Thaxton et al have led the way in highlighting this.

    Nor has this changed since 1984.

    Where there IS a design inference that points to an extra-cosmic agent, that is on cosmological design, which is not even usually a subject for point by point discussion on ID. That is the fine-tuning of the cosmos that facilitates life is seen as pointing to an intent to create a suitable habitat for cell-based, Carbon chemistry anchored life. And on that, some pretty serious cosmological thinkers fully agree with the design view. Even Sir Fred Hoyle spoke of how the parameters of physics seem to have been “monkeyed with.”

    Why, then is there the insistent, now routine inference or accusation that biological ID is about unwarranted injection of metaphysics [etc] into the sciences?

    Simple: “metaphysical” is here plainly a rhetorical stand-in for “religious” in the sense of “Judaeo-Christian theistic,” often with onward hints or outright accusations of imposition of theocratic anti-science tyranny.

    But in fact there is plainly another side to the story, especially, since ID thinkers have — for over two decades — been at pains to underscore that the biological ID inference is NOT metaphysically decisive.

    So, any inference to unwarranted metaphysical assumption plainly falls of its own weight. But that has not prevented the loaded accusation from being a now “standard” rhetorical resort used by objectors to ID.

    That is, sadly, we are now plainly in one of those prudential cases where an examination of the motives and agenda of a party to a dispute are now legitimate, not a distracting fallacy.

    So, let us start here, and please pardon some words that will have to be painfully frank, if serious error and worse wrong are to be corrected:

    1 –> First, what is going on is a plain case of selective hyperskepticism; i.e. inconsistent standards of warrant are used to reject what one does not wish to accept; while the objected to standards are routinely accepted for other similar and important cases.

    2 –> To wit, it is routine to reason empirically in science, and to infer on best current explanation; with the obvious implication that further evidence can change the verdict. (Onlookers, cf the above . .. )

    3 –> On those terms, we are plainly dealing with a well-warranted inference to see that in the case of DNA and associated entities and processes in the cell, we have stumbled on a COMPUTER in the living cell.

    4 –> And on “like causes like” [as Newton and other founding scientists taught us, so that we can infer from observation and experiment to general causes and patterns] we see that a computer implicates a designer.

    5 –> This very simple and empirically well-anchored chain of thought is objected to in the end in service to Lewontinian a priori imposition of evolutionary materialism on science:

    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. ,b>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. [NY review of Books, 1997; now embedded in US National Academy of Sciences edicts etc.]

    6 –> So, the case — sadly — is in too many instances rather plain. (Of course,t eh degree of responsibility for leaders in this attack like Ms Barbara Forrest is very different from that of those who unwisely have trusted the claims of such, and the talking points that stem from their work.)

    Now, we cannot force such rhetoricians as Ms Forrest to be coherent or open-minded or charitable or even reasonable, but we can expose the fact of such unjustified and uncharitable false accusations, fallacies, inconsistencies and self-referential incoherence for all to see.

    And, we can highlight that science is here being subverted from what it should be: an empirically anchored, unfettered (but intellectually and ethically responsible) search for the truth about the world in which we — conscious, intelligent, and at least sometimes rational agents — live.

    Worst of all, such subversion is then too often projected to the public as a “consensus of THE EXPERTS” that is true or tantamount to truth for all practical purposes.

    So, finally, we need to re-read Plato’s parable of the cave . . .

    GEM of TKI

  103. Rob [and onlookers]:

    I also need to respond on select specific points:

    1] Rob, 84: to you even 10 – 20 billion years and the entire universe at our disposal is too sharp and discrete a jump for life to occurs without the magic of intelligence. I do not necessarily mean to ridicule by using the term magic. But intelligence as your conceiving it is a black box that all we know about it is that it does marvelous miraculous things by some unknown and actually indescribable process.

    Now, onlookers: WE INSTANTIATE INTELLIGENT AGENTS, and conscious intelligent agency is the means by which we access the world of experience, observation, and yea even discussion and debate. So, whether or no there is mystery — and I amt he last to deny that — there is also strong empirical warrant for intelligence, design and agency. As well, for the signs of intelligence we leave behind when we act. So, since we do not have any good reason to infer that th we exhaust existing or possible intelligences, we can use the signs of intelligence to infer to the action of intelligence even where we were not present.

    Once we do that, the computer in the heart of the cell strongly implies that the cell, i.e life, is a product of design.

    This is not metaphysically decisive, as the designers of observed life could well be within the cosmos. i tis only when the design of life is set in the context of the further evident design of the cosmos we live in to facilitate life, that we see that one credible candidate for designer of cosmos and life is God. And, for those who are3 apt to try to use science to lead away from god to object to those who would use well-established scientific principles and facts to show that the evolutionary materialist scheme is not as well warranted as its proponents imagine is well within one’s worldview rights.

    2] its indescribable because its asserted to operate outside of law. And we cannot describe things without laws.

    Sorry, we and routinely do can describe actions of chance, necessity and design. Cf the case of a falling die that tumbles to rest. Then repeat enough times and see that in one case we see a fair die and in another a loaded one. Have we not thus described what goes beyond law, in light of empirical data?

    3] to you even 10 – 20 billion years and the entire universe at our disposal is too sharp and discrete a jump for life to occurs without the magic of intelligence . . . the Cambrian Explosion was 70 million years – is that what they say?

    More like 5 – 10 MY.

    And, observers, note: nowhere is there a serious addressing of the needle- in – haystack implications of islands of function in vast config spaces, to be scanned by chance before we can get to the beach of an island of function. Hill-climbing based on variations and differential reproductive success, are premised on getting to at least minimal function first — the “beach.”

    4] He’s [the human inventor] using his brain as an alternate to the external world and can simulate alternate scenarios of physical reality in his brain.

    Of course, do you know that he is ONLY using his brain? On what grounds apart from Lewontinian presumption of materialism? especially, given the radical divergence between what mind does and what matter is like: neuronal impulses are in mVolts; “Socrates is a Man” is a proposition, a claim to truth. A completely different order of issue.

    5] But my point would be, how could “Intelligence” be a magical black box operating outside of laws that makes physical improbabilities vanish?

    Let’s see: the post no 84 is a contextually relevant composition in ASCII text, of much more than 143 characters. the ASCII config space for just 143 characters — about 18 words — is 10^301, or ten times the SQUARE of the number of quantum states of the atoms of the observed universe across its reasonable lifespan: the universe acting as random string generator could not sample as much as 1 in 10^150 of the config space across its lifespan, so the odds of getting there by chance alone are minimal. Similarly, by the very nature of text, the matter is contingent: you DECIDED to produce that text and no other. (And the determinism that in effect says this message was writ in the initial conditions of the cosmos, ends up undercutting all reason.)

    And yet, you, an intelligent agent — I assume you are not lucky noise mimicking a signal — composed it in a matter of minutes. So, it is an empirical fact of observation to be accounted for by any credible explanation, that intelligences exist hat can do that. How, we may not fully know — though you describe the process of human invention so you do know some of how — but the point is not to know how first, but to simply know and acknowledge that.

    6] If God somehow has to step in and materialize major forms instantaneously, without causal precursors, thats not at all how our intelligence functions. So if that’s how God works then it seems unjustified to label it intelligence in an attempt to equate it to what man does.

    If God manifests creative purpose and so directs contingent entities and processes that they lead towards his goals, then he is intelligent. The same holds for other candidate intelligences: humans, nymphs, sprites, devils, angels, gods, Kzinti, or future R Daneel Olivaaw complete with positronic brain.

    7] I am definitely not imagining oracles operating actively like that to monitor a process and broadcast hints. It seems that “Intelligence” as conceived in I.D is the ultimate oracle, invoked whenever we don’t know how something works.

    Onlookers, such broadcasting oracles are as close as Mr Dawkins’ favorite “Weasel” program that the held was an example of how evolution proceeds.

    He succeeded only in showing that intelligently directed, purposeful evolution is in principle possible. Which is not in doubt.

    Similarly, I spoke also of winds or currents imagined to waft rafts of search resources [i.e. our observed cosmos] towards islands of function in the config spaces. i pointed out that a cosmos with such winds, currents or oracles is an obviously designed cosmos.

    As for the assertion that intelligence is pulled in when we don’t know how something works, it has already been answered, and so Rob needs to reckon with the fact that he is himself an example of intelligence, however he may imagine that the world so came to be. We are reasoning from he fact of intelligence to the signs thereof to the presence of such in cases, not by inferring to what we do not know.

    8] its not just sufficient to have a planet. As I said previously there are thousands of known requirements for life, so it would not be surprising if life were extremely rare in the universe.

    This was in response to my pointing out that we are in a neighbourhood where we are in a galactic habitable zone and now know that planets are fairly common in star systems in that neighbourhood. So, if there is a written in program for life on circumstellar habitable zone planets in such GHZ’s, life should be quite common in our neighbourhood, including on next door r mars [apart form life wafted there form earth]. So, on the principle that if there is a program that moves such situations towards life and onward intelligent life, it should be so common that our neighbourhood shooed be abundant with signs of life.

    It is not. And the silence raises serious questions on the idea that life is written into the physics of the cosmos.

    This is also the same message that OOL research tells us, and it is the same message that statistical thermodynamics tells us: we do not see laws of spontaneous algorithmically functional organisation — not mere order — and complexification, but of conservation and breakdown.

    9] But the only way to accurately characterize any phenomenon is through a series of laws – that is what a program is. What is in DNA is laws. Contingent states of affairs can also be characterized as laws.

    Your own post refutes this, as you describe invention not as law but intelligent action, including that of program development. Programs are not laws, they are highly contingent and intelligently directed purposeful contingency at that.

    Second, when we do experiments, we routinely have to distinguish the natural regularity from he noise caused by accidental contingencies, i.e we have to apply the theory of experimental error. So, we see intelligence, natural regularity and undirected stochastic contingency all playing a part in a reasonable accurate exploration and description of a situation.

    10] It [a robot as an exemplar cybernetic system] operates on the basis of the program instructions that define it. Those instructions are laws . You say that the robot has to be “competently managed ” the implication being that there has to be the continual ongoing involvement of human intelligence for that robot to function.

    Now, of course, the context for competent management was the design, development and commissioning process, especially where the servo loops have to be tuned. Robots, too, usually need to be maintained.

    Programs, again, are precisely not laws, but intelligently designed instructions and associated data structures and interfaces such that a programed entity operates successfully in a given environment.

    And in the heart of the cell is just such a programmed entity.

    GEM of TKI

  104. StephenB:

    To highlight the counterpoise between supernatural and natural. Once again you answer a question with a question.

    I wasn’t attempting to answer your last question. As I said, I haven’t gotten to it yet. I was simply pointing out that you put “natural causes” in quotes and asking why. We still haven’t gotten past your first two questions.

    Let’s recap. You asked:

    Either you think that [A] the paragraph happened solely by law and chance, [B] it did not happen solely by law and chance. Which position do you take?

    And I answered this, which required some disambiguation of the word “law”.

    Then you asked:

    So, do you believe that these human agents who write the paragraphs are “natural causes?”

    Here’s my thinking on reading this question: If “natural causes” = “not C+N”, then this question is redundant with the question above. Furthermore, if agency, by your definition, is not C+N, then the question is tautological. So now I’m confused. Should I be using your definitions or mine?

    But wait, you put “natural causes” in quotes, so maybe you’re referring to “natural causes” as I use the term. (I’m not sharp enough to realize that you’re highlighting the counterpoise between this term and “non-supernatural”, which occurs two paragraphs later.) Just to be safe, I’ll point out that the answer to the question depends on the definition of “natural”, and I’ll try cover all the bases. If “natural”=”non-C+D”, then I’ve already answered it. So I’ll also give the answers that follow from two other definitions, namely “not man-made” and “testable”, explicitly stating my usage for each answer.

    Now, which part of my answers did you not understand?

    I didn’t ask for three definitions. I asked:

    If all “non-supernatural” causes are “natural causes,” including humans, how do YOU differentiate between those natural causes that can generate paragraphs and those that cannot.

    Does the emphasized YOU indicate that I should answer in terms of my own definitions, not yours?

    (For all concerned: I hope this makes it clear that we should not be discussing CSI, mathematical patterns or anything else that presupposes a common usage of basic terms.)

    Amen. If you want to have a scientific discussion, then you need to leave your metaphysical definitions at the door.

    It depends on the context. It also depends on whether ID proponents are responding to arguments and double meanings such as those you are presenting.

    If anything I’ve said is not understandable from the context, then please point it out and I’ll correct it. I’m trying to be as clear as I can, given that we speak different languages.

  105. gpuccio and Atom,
    I have little to dispute in your comments. Understand that in this conversation, I’m challenging StephenB’s version of ID, not yours. According to him, ID attaches metaphysical significance to terms like intelligence, design, etc. His philosophy co-opts the English language to such an extent that he can claim, with a straight face, that academia teaches that nothing is man-made. And he is so insistent on his own usage of terms that even when I explicitly refer to other people’s definitions, he still acts like I’m talking about his own.

    The conversation centers an assumption inherent in his (and Dembski’s) version of ID, namely that intelligence/design/agency is irreducible to law and chance. Even after pressed by myself, JayM, JT, and others before us, neither StephenB nor kairosfocus has come up with anything resembling a scientific case for this claim. Of course, we didn’t expect them to, but I was curious whether they would deny that ID is premised on this claim, or admit that the premise is not scientifically supported. As far as I can recall, they’ve done neither.

  106. —-Rob: “According to him,(StephenB) ID attaches metaphysical significance to terms like intelligence, design, etc. His philosophy co-opts the English language to such an extent that he can claim, with a straight face, that academia teaches that nothing is man-made.”

    Rob, you are making me laugh. Rob, Atom, and Gpuccio vs. StephenB. What’s wrong with that picture? There is a coalition for the ages.

    In any case, you ought to be prepared to provide every ounce of context if you are going to summarize my position on any previous discussion. The point that I made, which is perfectly logical, is this: If matter is all there is, then matter explains all that is “created.” That means, that, in the final analysis, human agents are simply obeying the laws of matter. That point should be clear enough.

    On to substance;

    If you think that intelligent agents can be included in the (C+N) formulation, meaning that they have no more to say about their operation than any other formulation of molecules, then just say so. If you believe that the written paragraphs are nothing more than matter obeying physical laws and that the writer had no choice in the matter since he too, as matter, must obey the laws of matter, and therefore cannot act as a difference- making causal agent or redirect matter’s activity, then say so, and we can disengage. JT acknowledged as much and I expressed gratitude for his clarity, even though I obviously don’t agree with his position.

    My position is that an intelligent agent can act as a causal agent insofar as he/she can cause physical laws to do something differently than they would have done if the agent had not intervened. Further, I submit that the agent can choose to intervene or not intervene.

    Please be forthcoming on this matter, since we have all invested a lot of time in our discussions with you.

    —–“But wait, you put “natural causes” in quotes, so maybe you’re referring to “natural causes” as I use the term.

    I will call for an immediate moratorium on the use of italics.

    If all “non-supernatural” causes are “natural causes,” including humans, how do YOU differentiate between those natural causes that can generate paragraphs and those that cannot.

    —-“Does the emphasized YOU indicate that I should answer in terms of my own definitions, not yours?”

    Since you have been gracious enough to give me a choice, I will choose the ID definition. Thanks!

    —–“Amen. If you want to have a scientific discussion, then you need to leave your metaphysical definitions at the door.”

    In keeping with that point, I was hoping that you would provide an example of how Dembski uses metaphysical concepts in a scientific context. I submit that he has not. My position, to return temporarily to the scientific mode, is falsifiable.

  107. R0b:

    “The conversation centers an assumption inherent in his (and Dembski’s) version of ID, namely that intelligence/design/agency is irreducible to law and chance.”

    I really don’t think there is all that difference between what Atom, kairosfocus, StephenB, Dembski or I think. We may have slight differences of attitude, sometimes maybe even of substance, but I am sure that we agree on most important things.

    We certainly agree on the fact that conscious intelligent agents have to be treated as a special set of beings and of causal principles. If you ask me for my personal philosophical opinion, I will answer that I do believe that “intelligence/design/agency is irreducible to law and chance”.

    But in my last post I have tried to show that such a philosophical assumption, while IMO true, is not necessary for ID theory, and that ID theory can be completely expressed in purely empirical terms, if we accept the simple fact, on which you seem to agree, that we “don’t know” if intelligence/design/agency is reducible or not to law and chance, and on the further proposition that, unless and until there is a satisfying theory capable to reasonably show how such a reduction can be made, we have the cognitive duty to scientifically study the properties of agents independently of any philosophical preconception. I am sure that StephenB would agree on that (Steve, can you confirm?). I hope that you can agree too.

    Such an agreement would be a very good start to seriously consider ID theory for what it is. Are you willing to do that?

  108. gpuccio:

    I am sure that StephenB would agree on that (Steve, can you confirm?). I hope that you can agree too.

    I agree wholeheartedly.

  109. gpuccio: “I am sure that StephenB would agree on that (Steve, can you confirm?). I hope that you can agree too.”

    Yes, without the slightest hesitation. It is not essential to ID that we assume or agree to the proposition that agency cannot be reduced to law/chance. So, we have the common ground that everyone has hoped for.

    I happily grant the point, and I hope that I have not said anything that would lead anyone to believe otherwise. Further, if Gpuccio wants to follow through with that approach as only he can, I salute him.

    However, I now ask everyone to attend to my point as well:

    None of this should be necessary.
    The philsophical principles of right reason (not metaphysics) are still in force, and I don’t think we should forget about them. If agency could be reduced to law/chance, then it would no longer be agency. Agency, by definition, means the capacity to redirect law and chance in innovative ways. To reduce agency to law/chance is, in effect, is to strip it of its defined capacity to be what it is, an alternative causal force. It’s like saying, “let’s consider an agency that really is not an agency at all. The last time I checked, a thing cannot be and not be at the same time under the same formal circumstances.

    Indeed, one of the reasons we coined the term “agency” in the first place was to distinquish it from law and chance. So, if someone wants to know how we can be sure that agency cannot be reduced to law and chance, there is only one logical answer: When we use the word “agency,” we mean something different than law and chance.”

  110. Rob ( with Stephen, also GP):

    There is a question on the table as to whether intelligence [and agency] are reducible to forces of chance + necessity acting across time.

    To address that, evidence has to be heard, especially empirical evidence. that raises the problem that Lewontinian a priori materialism is distorting the ability of the evidence to be heard. [Rob, pardon a note: I find that assertions that to speak of design or intelligence -- in light of what has been put into touch above repeatedly by SB, GP, and others, including the undersigned -- begs the question, comes across as a turnabout and distraction from that far more material point.]

    As Stephen has summarised, we have an empirically observed distinction between entities routinely capable of producing say ASCII text strings in contextually responsive English and exceedign 143 characters, and those that we have no observation that they can do that.

    We also have good reason to note that such digital, multistate text strings are highly contingent, not merely determined by natural law. That leaves undirected, stochastic contingency — chance — as one alternative causal force triggering the strings. But, per needle in the haystack reasons, such is not a reasonable source.

    Now, as conscious, intelligent entities, and observing other similar entities, we assign the term design to the observed or experienced purposeful act that routinely produces such strings.

    So, Rob, we have a sign of intelligence — FSCI, and a term for the acts of such: design.

    We also observe a similar contextually functional complex digital string in the heart of the cell, i.e DNA. We see it works in an algorithmic context to produce e.g proteins. We infer to a similar process of design, and note that we have no reason to infer that no designers were present at the time of origination of DNA, i.e of life on earth. But, we see we only may infer to design, not to the nature of the designer(s) beyond the obvious: intelligent and even expert.

    Where is there any question-begging metaphysical commitment in that process? [Notice, I have not adverted to agents, just designers and intelligence, viewed by family resemblance to our own known intelligence.]

    We make a further step: the observed cosmos is fine-tuned for the existence of such cell-based life. that suggests a designer capable of designing and implementing the physical cosmos. And it raises the issue that such a possible designer might also be the designer of life on earth. but, noticve how the chain has gone, not from presumption of an extracosmioc designer, but to in effect asking whether such is a reasonable candidate for the designer of life as well.

    Now, per argument, do you have observations that show that chance + necessity is — within the search resources of our planet or the observed cosmos — probabilistically plausibly capable of generating digital strings that must function algorithmically or linguistically, of 1,000+ bit capacity?

    Plainly not.

    We have observed intelligences, observed signs of intelligence,a nd cases that go from this blog’s posts to DNA and onward to the fine tuned cosmos we live in. Do you see why on inference to best explanation in light of OBSERVED evidence, we will accept the design explanation in preference to the chance + necessity one?

    And given that our observed cosmos seems to have had a beginning, and one that shows signs of intelligence, do you not see why we are inclined to see that intelligence and design are not necessarily embodied bodies based on C, H, O, N, S, P, etc atoms?

    Indeed, Rob, do you not see that physical cause-effect processes and associated forces of necessity and/or stochastic undirected contingency are simply not congruent to the rational logic of ground and consequent reasoning?

    GEM of TKI

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