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Reality: The Wall You Smack Into When You’re Wrong

I’ve been in trial the last couple of weeks, and I am just now coming up for air.  I see the debate has continued in my absence.  Alas, yet another confirmation (as if another were needed) that I am not indispensible.  Thank you to all of our posters, commenters and lurkers, who continue to make this site one of the most robust stops on the internet vis-à-vis the intelligent design debate.

 We live in a post-modern world, and the defense position at trial last week brought that dreary fact forcefully to mind. 

Without going into detail, the trial was about a contract my clients (the plaintiffs) signed in 1996.  The defendant received the benefits of his bargain and was content for 11 years.  Then, when the contract turned to my clients’ benefit in 2007, the defendant refused to pay.  Instead, he hired one of the largest law firms in the world (over 600 lawyers) to get him out of the contract, and these last several months his team of lawyers and paralegals (six strong at last count) have submitted literally hundreds of documents to the court in a feverish effort to convince the judge that – though the defendant said nothing for 11 years – the contract was unenforceable from the beginning. 

Well, that is not entirely accurate.  I should say this is the position on which the defendant finally settled after various other theories failed.  At first he claimed the contract was valid, but my clients’ calculations were wrong, and they owed him money.  When that didn’t work he claimed the entire transaction was a sham, and he knew it from the beginning.  When it came to light he had certified the transaction to the IRS in 1997, his position changed yet again.  Now, his position was that he thought the transaction was valid in the beginning, but after he reviewed the documents in connection with this case he learned he had been hoodwinked.  The transaction was always a sham, but he just hadn’t known it all these years. 

 In golf a “mulligan” is the friendly practice of letting a player get a “do over” if his tee shot goes awry.  I suppose the defendant’s lawyers thought I was going to give them a mulligan and not mention at trial the varied and inconsistent positions they had taken.  But over a million dollars was at stake, so I decided I would pass on the mulligan, and when I had the defendant on the stand the cross went something like this:

 Q.  So if I understand what you’re saying, you didn’t know there was any irregularity with the transaction when you certified it to the IRS in 1996.

 A.  That’s right.

 Q.  In fact, you’re telling me that you never knew there was the slightest problem with this transaction until you reviewed the documents produced in connection with this case.

 A.  That’s right.  I never knew.

 Q.  I have just placed in front of you the sworn affidavit you signed last September.  Do you see paragraph three there?  It says, “I believe [here I raised my voice for effect], AND HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED, the transaction was a sham.”  My question for you is this:  Just now you testified under oath that you NEVER believed there was anything wrong with the transaction.  But last September you swore out an affidavit in which you said you ALWAYS believed the transaction was a sham.  Help me out here.  How can both of those sworn statements be true at the same time?

 This, of course, is the trial lawyer’s dream scene.  He has caught the other party making statements that simply cannot be reconciled.  Both may be false (which is the case here), but there is no way both can be true.  Needless to say, my clients are happy today.

What does this have to do with post-modernism?  Just this.  Over the last few months I have often wondered if the other side really believed they would be able to get away with just “making it up.”  That question was answered by an incident that occurred on the second day of trial.  My paralegal was in the back of a crowded courthouse elevator.  One of the defendant’s lawyers and his paralegal were in the front, and apparently they did not know my paralegal was there, because she overheard them talking about the case.  The lawyer said, “They are presenting their version of reality and we are presenting a competing version of reality.  The case will come down to which version the judge finds compelling.” 

I never thought of myself as “presenting a version of reality.”  My goal was to just get the facts out about what happened, because I have always believed that if the judge knew what actually happened we would win.  It turns out that I am hopelessly old-fashioned about these things.  In our post-modern world there are no immutable “facts” for the judge to know.  There are only competing “narratives,” and she will make her decision based upon which narrative she finds most “compelling.”  And in developing his “narrative,” a lawyer need feel no obligation to quaint outdated notions such as “what actually happened.”  There is no “what actually happened,” because reality is not fixed, objective and immutable.  No, reality is malleable, subjective and constructed. 

I like to say that reality is the practical wall you smack into when you’re theory is wrong.  And thankfully trials are nothing if not practical endeavors.  No matter what a post-modernist might say about “all reality is subjectively constructed,” the truth of the matter is they all look both ways before crossing the street.  And it turns out that judges really do try to determine “what actually happened,” and another name for “presenting a competing version of reality” is “lying under oath,” which judges tend to frown on (as the defendant found out to his dismay).

I hope our opponents who post comments on this site will keep this story in mind.  I hope they think about it the next time they are tempted to write in response to one of the arguments an ID proponent makes, “Well, that’s your reality.  My reality is different.”  It is such a hackneyed, trite and dreary expression.  Worse, it is based on a self-evidently false premise, and, as the defendant found out, it will get you in trouble if you take it seriously.

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314 Responses to Reality: The Wall You Smack Into When You’re Wrong

  1. I hope our opponents who post comments on this site will keep this story in mind. I hope they think about it the next time they are tempted to write in response to one of the arguments an ID proponent makes, “Well, that’s your reality. My reality is different.”

    Barry,

    Could you give us some specific examples of ID critics who have made such statements on this site?

    Thanks.

  2. … And it turns out that judges really do try to determine “what actually happened,” and another name for “presenting a competing version of reality” is “lying under oath,” which judges tend to frown on (as the defendant found out to his dismay).

    But do the lawyers attempting to present a post-modernist case ever pay a price?

  3. @ilion

    -”But do the lawyers attempting to present a post-modernist case ever pay a price?”

    Self-denial, purposelesness, despair and nihilism would imply that the answer to your question is yes. :)

  4. 4

    sorry off-topic:

    Futuyma and Ayala sign on to defend the virtuous climate scientists from the angry mob:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/envi.....pen-letter

  5. Barry,

    One word: Dover.

  6. I hope our opponents who post comments on this site will keep this story in mind. I hope they think about it the next time they are tempted to write in response to one of the arguments an ID proponent makes, “Well, that’s your reality. My reality is different.”

    I am not aware of any opponent of ID who has written anything close to this. I think we mostly just think you guys are wrong. Did you have someone in mind?

  7. If there is no objective reality, then all of this is pointless, isn’t it? Everything becomes just an opinion, and all opinions are equally valid.

    I’m not sure how to argue for an objective reality (the only “version” of reality that counts is the true one?), but if I were pressed to, I probably wouldn’t waste my time.

  8. off topic
    Just wanted to thank you for editing this blog, at least we ECs no longer get kicked off. On Biologos I hear ID partisans complain of their treatment but that treatment does not seem commensurate with what has been aimed at me on this site by some writers of the main posts.

  9. jpg564-

    There is an interesting line in the Passion of the Christ (i know some may not like the movie and I don’t even know if this conversation ever really took place, but I found it rang true)

    Pilate-How do you know truth, Claudia?
    Claudia- If you will not hear truth, no one can tell you.

  10. off topic Barry:

    I found this following video very strange for “how to deal with our opponents”:

    Darren Wilson on Sid Roth – video
    http://www.sidroth.org/site/Ne.....38;id=9223

    I found this video very strange also:

    Finger of God (Film) part 1 of 10 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkxF8eHePzs

  11. 11
    Jack Golightly

    Barry, I guess when a lawyer knows his client is wrong, he doesn’t have many alternatives.

    Not trying to be cute here, just wondering – how do lawyers defend people that they know are guilty? Decline the case?

    Maybe I watch to much TV.

  12. Re Phaedros at #9:

    Exactly!

  13. 13
    Sooner Emeritus

    Barry,

    Legal institutions blind judges of the facts to certain sorts of evidence. The primary objective is administration of justice, not determination of reality. Amateur court-watchers fallaciously conclude that the legal system has failed when it yields just decisions that are, by whatever criteria they choose ad hoc for particular cases, “wrong.”

    Scientific institutions blind scientists to certain sorts of evidence. The primary objective is to generate explanations that are of utility in prediction and control of the material world, not to determine what is real in any metaphysical sense. Amateur science-watchers fallaciously conclude that science has failed when it yields useful explanations that are, by whatever criteria they choose ad hoc for particular cases, “wrong.”

    No matter how many people report their intuitive sense of using intelligence to create information that serves their purposes, such godlike activity is not publicly observable. The reports are “hearsay evidence,” inadmissible in the “court” of science. An immaterial, purposive, creative intelligence is as unpredictable and uncontrollable as a demon in the chemistry lab, and is just as useless in scientific explanations.

    ID advocates are upset with the institution of science because its “rules of evidence” exclude their intuitions. No matter that scientific explanation has extended our capabilities of prediction and control fabulously, they complain that it deviates from what they believe to be “real.” The problem is not in the science, but in their unwillingness to acknowledge that science needs blinders, much as justice needs a blindfold.

  14. Sooner, especially now with the transcendent origin of the entire universe being firmly established, as well as quantum mechanics showing a “mental universe”, it is simply ludicrous for you to insist only materialistic answers (your implied “rules of science” i.e methodological naturalism) is allowed in science. The logical truth is that you must scientifically demonstrate that reality conforms to the materialistic premise, you so blindly cling to, before you can claim it as the “only” answer allowed for questions of origins. Do you care to provide this proof that materialism is true? i.e. You know, the little thing of you explaining the origin of the material universe with no material whatsoever to refer to in your explanation?

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington

    Sooner Emeritus: “The problem is not in the science, but in their unwillingness to acknowledge that science needs blinders.”

    Well, at least you acknowledge that your brand of science is willfully blind to certain kinds of evidence. That admission is great progress. The next step is for you to justify that willful blindness. The justification is not, as you seem to believe, self-evident to those of us who wish to look into the corners of the universe into which you refuse to peer.

  16. Barry-

    I was speaking to a friend of mine about the nature of science, she is one taken in by people like Dawkins and Shermer, and I said science is the freedom to examine any question or problem one can imagine or want. She said, flat out, “No it isn’t.” Shouldn’t this be a warning sign to someone who herself is graduating with a degree in chemistry soon?

  17. Bornagain77-

    Off-topic, I wonder if you’ve seen this,

    http://akiane.com/gallery.html

  18. Barry – science needs to be repeatable. If I read a paper, I need to know how to repeat the work (or at least I need to be convinced that the work could be repeated). This is how we try to get over the subjectivity of the human condition.

    Of course, there is also interpretation of evidence, but again everything should be on the table, so even the subjective aspect of an argument is open to criticism.

    I wonder – what other forms of knowledge would you want to allow in science?

  19. Thanks Phaedros, I actually have a quote from her, her homepage, and a music video of Akiane’s work, all referenced:

    “An illusion can never go faster than the speed limit of reality”
    Akiane – Child Prodigy

    Artwork homepage http://www.artakiane.com/

    Music video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4204586

  20. Phaedros, Here are some references you might find helpful for your chemistry friend:

    Carbon is the first of the “heavy” elements that is exclusively formed in the interiors of stars. The delicate balance at which carbon is synthesized in stars is truly a work of art. Fred Hoyle (1915-2001), a famed astrophysicist, is the scientist who established the nucleo-synthesis of heavier elements as mathematically valid in 1946. When Sir Fred discovered the stunning precision with which carbon is synthesized in stars he stated:

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

    Every class of elements that exists on the periodic table of elements is necessary for complex carbon-based life to exist on earth. The three most abundant elements in the human body, Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, “just so happen” to be the most abundant elements in the universe, save for helium which is inert. A truly amazing coincidence that strongly implies “the universe had us in mind all along”. Even uranium the last naturally occurring element on the period table of elements is necessary for life. The heat generated by the decay of uranium is necessary to keep a molten core in the earth for an extended period of time, which is necessary for the magnetic field surrounding the earth, which in turn protects organic life from the harmful charged particles of the sun. As well, uranium decay provides the heat for tectonic activity and the turnover of the earth’s crustal rocks, which is necessary to keep a proper mixture of minerals and nutrients available on the surface of the earth, which is necessary for long term life on earth. (Denton; Nature’s Destiny).

    The Elements: Forged in Stars – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4003861

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

    The Role of Elements in Life Processes
    http://www.mii.org/periodic/LifeElement.php

    Periodic Table – Interactive web page for each element
    http://www.mii.org/periodic/MIIperiodicChart.html

    Finely Tuned Big Bang, Elvis In The Multiverse, and the Schroedinger Equation – Granville Sewell – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4233012

  21. Sooner:

    Pardon, your radical relativism is on painfully glaring display, with horrible potential real-world implications (as Plato pointed to ever so long ago in The Laws, Bk X c 360 BC):

    Re 13: Legal institutions blind judges of the facts to certain sorts of evidence. The primary objective is administration of justice, not determination of reality . . . .

    Scientific institutions blind scientists to certain sorts of evidence. The primary objective is to generate explanations that are of utility in prediction and control of the material world, not to determine what is real in any metaphysical sense . . . .

    No matter how many people report their intuitive sense of using intelligence to create information that serves their purposes, such godlike activity is not publicly observable. The reports are “hearsay evidence,” inadmissible in the “court” of science. An immaterial, purposive, creative intelligence is as unpredictable and uncontrollable as a demon in the chemistry lab, and is just as useless in scientific explanations.

    ID advocates are upset with the institution of science because its “rules of evidence” exclude their intuitions. No matter that scientific explanation has extended our capabilities of prediction and control fabulously, they complain that it deviates from what they believe to be “real.” The problem is not in the science, but in their unwillingness to acknowledge that science needs blinders, much as justice needs a blindfold.

    1 –> First, I hardly need to more than pause to note that Mr Arrington (a practising attorney at law)) is hardly an amateur court watcher! And, that the case in view in the original post, the issue was truth: that which says of what is, that it is, and of what is not that it is not, as Aristotle ever so aptly put it long ago.

    2 –> Barry’s case aptly shows the vital importance of truth to justice, and why injustice is ever so often built on willful denial or distortion of the truth, with intent to mislead, i.e. LYING.

    3 –> Of course, in courts, there are rules of evidence and procedures of appeal etc that are designed to as far as possible protect the weak and the innocent in a world in which error is possible and fraud or false accusation a too common reality.

    4 –> That is important, but a secondary issue that you have exploited rhetorically to project the destructive, radically relativist, cynical idea that Justice is not concerned to find out the credible truth as a basis for sanction of the guilty and protection of the innocent; in light of what credibly really happened.

    5 –> In short, your attempt to drive a wedge between justice and truth fails, and is utterly revealing. (Onlookers, would you [as an innocent person] want to be judged in a system that made no serious and fair effort to find out whether or not you really did the crime?)

    6 –> Next, there is a fast glide over to science: “Scientific institutions blind scientists to certain sorts of evidence . . . . science needs blinders, much as justice needs a blindfold.”

    7 –> Not so fast! Science, like justice, may err, but the foundation of credibility for science is that it makes a fair and serious effort to identify the true facts of observation and to explain them, however provisionally, in a way that seeks to discover the truth about what is happening in our common world. Failing that, science soon becomes little more than a myth-manufacturing apparatus, no better than a tool for materialist magicians and high priests, who impose their favoured stories by the power of the new de Facto Magisterium.

    8 –> And, indeed, that is precisely what your allusion to “demons” implies. For, the reference is to Sagan’s book, The Demon haunted World; and by extension Lewontin’s well known review in the Jan 1997 NYRB:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . .   the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . . . 

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

    [ . . . ]

  22. 9 –> Of course, to “justify” the notion that science is the only begetter of truth, Lewontin asserted a philosophical claim, in a plainly metaphysical worldview level claims context. Worse, by using the loaded word “demons: he and Sagan were loading the language and poisoning the atmosphere. Further, ever since Plato, it should be obvious that we are not locked up tot he direct contrast: natural vs supernatural, but we may profitably on an empirical basis assess the signs of chance, necessity and art or intelligence. Indeed, to deny that we ourselves are intelligent and leave signs of intelligence is self-refuting and absurd. Finally, the outright hostility tot he idea of a Divine Foot in the door, and the open declaration of a priori materialism show that we are dealing with an agenda here, not with openness to correction in the way of truth. With — pardon a few frank words — arrogant and dismissively insulting closed mindedness imposed by the power of a materialistic magisterium, in short.

    10 –> But, 13 years have now passed, and Lewontin’s article has been a staple for well-justified criticism, so a more subtle approach has to be used.

    11 –> So, we see this, from someone who EXPERIENCES being an intelligent, deciding, thinking creature, observes other similar creatures who behave like that, and who routinely observes functionally specific, complex information such as posts in this thread, as reliable signs of such intelligence:

    No matter how many people report their intuitive sense of using intelligence to create information that serves their purposes, such godlike activity is not publicly observable.

    14 –> The selective hyperskepticism and a priori materialism lurk just under the surface, as does the loading of language and polarising of the atmosphere. For instance, we publicly, routinely, experience and observe that intelligent creatures produce FSCI, and only such creatures do so in our observation. But since the sausage factory is not obvious, dismissive and prejudicial language is used to distract from the observable signs of intelligence and their massively established empirical reliability.

    15 –> And, Sooner, to speak of intelligent activity as “godlike” may well be far closer to the truth than you are willing to admit. “For, in his image God made man.” When you take off your lab coat tonight to go to bed, think on that a bit.

    16 –> And, since we personally experience being intelligent, this is not hearsay evidence at all. Indeed, we have a massive and plainly inconvenient body of eyewitness testimony going on around us all the time. [Hearsay, FYI, is deprecated because it is second hand and the reporter may not be able to directly affirm the truth from his or her experience. Thus, we see that the very term you used points to the primacy of experience as a source of and qualification to report the truth.]

    16 –> Going beyond that, you very conveniently refused to identify the specific “blinders” you would put on science: evolutionary materialism as an a priori, that filters the evidence that one is willing to accept, i.e biased, worldview level a priori question-begging.

    17 –> Sorry, we will not accept that defective, self-referentially incoherent and self-refuting lot of goods; return to vendor.

    18 –> By contrast, let us see that science, at its best, is an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our common world, based on experience, observation, analysis, theorising and uncensored [but respectful] discussion among the informed.

    19 –> To do science, one has to be intelligent, and one has to communicate in language, using symbols, rules and processes that generate functionally specific, complex information. Indeed, no scientific experiment report or properly formatted peer reviewed paper has ever been observed to be produced by chance circumstances and blind forces of mechanical necessity. Such manifestations of FSCI are uniformly observed to be the product of art, i.e. design.

    20 –> So, ther very processes of science underscore the significance of intelligent design as a commonly observed causal foce in our world, and indeed, in many fields that are unquestionably scientific, whether pure or applied, we routinely infer to intelligent causes from signs of intelligence.

    21 –> And so, on evidence not emotion, it is not a mere tantrums or wishful thinking that make adherents of design theory object to the imposition of materialist blinkers on science!

    CONCLUSION (PER FAIR COMMENT): The sort of specious objections and sophistical rhetoric we see above only turn up when the a priori assertions and assumptions of evolutionary materialism are under threat of rejection or refutation.

    _________________

    Sooner, surely, you can do better than this.

    GEM of TKI9 –> Of course, to “justify” the notion that science is the only begetter of truth, Lewontin asserted a philosophical claim, in a plainly metaphysical worldview level claims context. Worse, by using the loaded word “demons: he and Sagan were loading the language and poisoning the atmosphere. Further, ever since Plato, it should be obvious that we are not locked up tot he direct contrast: natural vs supernatural, but we may profitably on an empirical basis assess the signs of chance, necessity and art or intelligence. Indeed, to deny that we ourselves are intelligent and leave signs of intelligence is self-refuting and absurd. Finally, the outright hostility tot he idea of a Divine Foot in the door, and the open declaration of a priori materialism show that we are dealing with an agenda here, not with openness to correction in the way of truth. With — pardon a few frank words — arrogant and dismissively insulting closed mindedness imposed by the power of a materialistic magisterium, in short.

    10 –> But, 13 years have now passed, and Lewontin’s article has been a staple for well-justified criticism, so a more subtle approach has to be used.

    11 –> So, we see this, from someone who EXPERIENCES being an intelligent, deciding, thinking creature, observes other similar creatures who behave like that, and who routinely observes functionally specific, complex information such as posts in this thread, as reliable signs of such intelligence:

    No matter how many people report their intuitive sense of using intelligence to create information that serves their purposes, such godlike activity is not publicly observable.

    14 –> The selective hyperskepticism and a priori materialism lurk just under the surface, as does the loading of language and polarising of the atmosphere. For instance, we publicly, routinely, experience and observe that intelligent creatures produce FSCI, and only such creatures do so in our observation. But since the sausage factory is not obvious, dismissive and prejudicial language is used to distract from the observable signs of intelligence and their massively established empirical reliability.

    15 –> And, Sooner, to speak of intelligent activity as “godlike” may well be far closer to the truth than you are willing to admit. “For, in his image God made man.” When you take off your lab coat tonight to go to bed, think on that a bit.

    16 –> And, since we personally experience being intelligent, this is not hearsay evidence at all. Indeed, we have a massive and plainly inconvenient body of eyewitness testimony going on around us all the time. [Hearsay, FYI, is deprecated because it is second hand and the reporter may not be able to directly affirm the truth from his or her experience. Thus, we see that the very term you used points to the primacy of experience as a source of and qualification to report the truth.]

    16 –> Going beyond that, you very conveniently refused to identify the specific “blinders” you would put on science: evolutionary materialism as an a priori, that filters the evidence that one is willing to accept, i.e biased, worldview level a priori question-begging.

    17 –> Sorry, we will not accept that defective, self-referentially incoherent and self-refuting lot of goods; return to vendor.

    18 –> By contrast, let us see that science, at its best, is an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our common world, based on experience, observation, analysis, theorising and uncensored [but respectful] discussion among the informed.

    19 –> To do science, one has to be intelligent, and one has to communicate in language, using symbols, rules and processes that generate functionally specific, complex information. Indeed, no scientific experiment report or properly formatted peer reviewed paper has ever been observed to be produced by chance circumstances and blind forces of mechanical necessity. Such manifestations of FSCI are uniformly observed to be the product of art, i.e. design.

    20 –> So, ther very processes of science underscore the significance of intelligent design as a commonly observed causal foce in our world, and indeed, in many fields that are unquestionably scientific, whether pure or applied, we routinely infer to intelligent causes from signs of intelligence.

    21 –> And so, on evidence not emotion, it is not a mere tantrums or wishful thinking that make adherents of design theory object to the imposition of materialist blinkers on science!

    CONCLUSION (PER FAIR COMMENT): The sort of specious objections and sophistical rhetoric we see above only turn up when the a priori assertions and assumptions of evolutionary materialism are under threat of rejection or refutation.

    _________________

    Sooner, surely, you can do better than this.

    GEM of TKI

  23. Sorry, something weird seems to have happened.

  24. My understanding has been that, in an adversarial system of trial such as we have in the US and the UK, lawyers are not employed to find the truth but to win an argument or, more precisely, to persuade a jury that they have a better case than their opponent. The underlying assumption is that the truth will emerge from such a process of intense examination and debate.

    There are some similarities between the legal and scientific processes but one area where they differ is that science does not rely on a single test of the arguments and evidence to decide the issue. If the available evidence is inconclusive then it can afford to suspend judgement until such time as more data and better explanations emerge.

    The fact that biology and chemistry do not yet have an explanation of how life began or that physics cannot yet explain what caused the Big Bang does not mean that they have lost their case and the opposition wins by default as might happen in court. It simply means we have to be patient and wait for the results of further investigation.

    In that context Phaedros’s friend is right. Science is not about “the freedom to examine any question or problem one can imagine or want” – that is assumed – it is about the methods employed to investigate an issue. Science subsists in the scientific method or methodological naturalism. It is the gathering of observational data, the construction of explanations of that data and the testing of those explanations. It requires its practitioners to be patient, meticulous, thorough and scrupulously honest. It insists on replication because, being human, individual scientists can make mistakes or otherwise fall short of the ideal like anyone else. If the results of a piece of research cannot be duplicated by other investigators then there was probably something wrong with the original.

    As for some sort of relativist defense, personally, I have never seen it used here. In fact, my impression is that if there is one view that is common to both sides of the debate it is an undisguised contempt for postmodernism.

    Nor are there any corners of the Universe forbidden to science. The only aspects or domains of existence that cannot be investigated are those that are beyond the reach of any of us, even in principle. We can imagine, for example, some detached deity who, having created our Universe, retreated to some entirely discrete dimension or realm where it watches its creation without further interference. But if that deity and that dimension are entirely inaccessible to us and have no effect on what happens in our Universe then, for all intents and purposes, they might as well not exist. If, on the other hand, we have something like vjtorley’s god who is actively sustaining the Universe from one instant to the next then there is at least the possibility of investigating its existence. It all depends on the nature of your proposed god.

  25. Seversky:

    The adverserial system is intended to use motivated advocates to seek the truth, by using the common sense of the proverbial man in the Clapham Bus stop to assess what clever competing advocates have to say.

    If you take time to look here you will see the point of evidence from a founder of themodern theory of evidence whose major work on the subject stills ells for US$300+.

    If evidence towards truth is irrelevant to courts, what you have is a reign of terror, at the whim of the ones who control the judges.

    And when arbitrary rules such as materialim as an a priori by the back door are allowed to corrupt science, it too becomes simply a tool to advance a dangerous agenda. Notice here, onlooker,s that the objectors are unable to show that intelligent action is not a relevant causal factor that leaves signs behind that cannot credibly be mimicked by chance and/or necessity. They are trying to rule out examining the evidence when it does not fit their preeconceoptoions on what “must” have happened.

    Sev, we DO have well known easily observed explanaitons for programs, codes, data structures and implementing machines for same. Designers.

    Just, a designer of the codes, programs and machines in cell based life seems to open the door just a crack for the Foot of someone you are most anxious not to meet. At least, if Lewontin’s honest admission is to be believed.

    That sounds very familiar, and telling.

    Please, think again.

    GEM of TKI

  26. PS: Seversky, radical relativism is exactly what Sooner has advocated, and it is precisely what Barry had to deal with in the court. As Plato long ago pointed out in trhe already linked The Laws Bk X, the rise of such radical relativism in our civilisation is directly connected to the implications of evolutionary materialism, with its scanting of truth and morality:

    [The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. 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 . . . . these people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them . . . These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [cf sooner above and what you are trying to back up!], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [here, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . .

    PPS: This is a classic strawman:

    We can imagine, for example, some detached deity who, having created our Universe, retreated to some entirely discrete dimension or realm where it watches its creation without further interference. But if that deity and that dimension are entirely inaccessible to us and have no effect on what happens in our Universe then, for all intents and purposes, they might as well not exist.

    Seversky, that is inexcusable in one who has been here at UD for many months and could easily correct his views by looking at the weak argument correctives. ID studies not a deistic god beyond observation, but very observable, empirically reliable signs of intelligence. Signes such as funcitonally specific complex informaiton that we coomonly see, and just as commonly can observe are routinely produced by intelligent action. Further, in our observation, it is not seen to be produced by the alternatives to such intelligence, i.e. chance and/or mechanical necessity. So, we have every right to infer form empirically reliable signs to what they signify: intelligent action.

    So, the correct contrast to examine is nature vs art in light of empirical signs of art. And, I am sure you have been informed of this over and over, so the issue is willful closed-mindedness.

    Why the issue of closed mind comes up, is that you routinely accept the inference form sign to signified intelligence with say posts in this thread; but where similar signs point strongly to the design of life (and of a cosmos fine-tuned for such life) you suddenly impose irrelevant and censoring philosophical a prioris as though science = materialism.

    So, when I see persistent strawman distortions like I have had to cite, in the teeth of specific and easily accessible correction, it raises very serious questions.

  27. Oops, this is one of those high typo days, Sorry.

  28. Oh yes, since it can be a bit hard to find online, here is a 101 on the fallacy of the closed mind. (It may be painful reading, but sometimes to alternative to lancing an abscess is blood poisoning.)

  29. Off topic: This woman has just stretched my view of reality dramatically:

    Heidi Baker: Intimacy for Miracles – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgGu782dNX0

    Finger of God (Film) part 8 of 10 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ru4DuA8m3Fk

  30. F/n: In 24 I am pointing out to Sev that the lawyers present competing arguments before a Jury, with a Judge as umpire. (Mind you, in this dumbed down media manipulated radical secularist, radical relativist age, juries may be gradually losing their grip on common sense . . . )

  31. Barry,

    You seem to be ignoring the question I raised in comment #1:

    I hope our opponents who post comments on this site will keep this story in mind. I hope they think about it the next time they are tempted to write in response to one of the arguments an ID proponent makes, “Well, that’s your reality. My reality is different.”

    Barry,

    Could you give us some specific examples of ID critics who have made such statements on this site?

    Thanks.

    Can you supply some examples? Or have you, to borrow your metaphor, smacked into the wall of reality?

  32. Great stuff kairsfocus and bornagain

    The materialist cannot see the inherent contradictions in his flawed world view because his mind is handicapped by an acute cognitive dissonance engendered by his initial rejection of absolutes.

    Materialism necessitates relativism and relativism incapacitates the minds ability to reason correctly -because it generates powerful cognitive dissonance.

    As Hoyle stated Darwinists are

    “in a sense mentally ill or, more precisely, either you became mentally ill or you quitted the subject of biology, as I had done in my early teens. The trouble for young biologists was that, with everyone around them ill, it became impossible for them to think they were well unless they were ill, which again is a situation you can read all about in the columns of Nature [magazine].”

    Hoyle, F., “Mathematics of Evolution”

    It takes something akin to a mental shock to mend such a mind.

    But while that mind subconsciously seeks to avoid all such shocks, it remains blinded to simple realities such as those so often discussed here.

    i.e. No one can reason with a determined materialist – logic drops off them like water off a ducks back.

    That’s why the materialists here remain dull and incapable of seeing their error, in spite of the multitude of times where that error has been shown to them in clear and simple terms (as you’ve done above).

    The only remedy is that they themselves, from their innermost will, decide to open their mind to the possibility that they may be wrong.

    In biblical terms this is akin to opening up to the conviction of the Holy Spirit which if accepted leads to regeneration of ones whole life and raison d’être.

  33. Borne

    Thanks for the kind words. It helps us realise we are not just beating the air.

    BTW, this work on fallacies is sobering reading.

    Pelagius:

    Just look above in this thread and you will see more than enough cases in point of materialism advocates resorting to radical relativism, though not using Barry’s specific language. (Cf how some arguments put forth by those of that ilk have had to be deconstructed. For instance, would you like to be on trial [as an innocent] in a courtroom where truth was not seen as an integral part of justice, and truth was confused with persuasiveness?)

    GEM of TKI

  34. kairosfocus wrote:

    Just look above in this thread and you will see more than enough cases in point of materialism advocates resorting to radical relativism, though not using Barry’s specific language.

    I don’t see anyone in this thread resorting to radical relativism.

    Here’s what Sooner Emeritus actually wrote about the justice system:

    Legal institutions blind judges of the facts to certain sorts of evidence. The primary objective is administration of justice, not determination of reality.

    He is not denying the existence of objective reality, so this is not radical relativism.

    In fact, though you seem to have missed this entirely, Sooner is stating an objective fact about the legal system: it does rule certain evidence inadmissible, even when doing so impedes the court’s ability to determine the truth.

  35. Anyway, I’m interested in hearing Barry’s response to my question. Remember, he wrote this:

    I hope our opponents who post comments on this site will keep this story in mind. I hope they think about it the next time they are tempted to write in response to one of the arguments an ID proponent makes, “Well, that’s your reality. My reality is different.”

    He must have had someone specific in mind. After all, he wrote this:

    Over the last few months I have often wondered if the other side really believed they would be able to get away with just “making it up.”

    After scolding his opponents this way, surely he wouldn’t try to get away with making stuff up himself, would he?

  36. Mr Arrington,

    You seem to be using a version of the classic aphorism by Phillip K Dick – “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

  37. 37
    Barry Arrington

    kairosfocus: Never think you are just beating the air. Your arguments are devastating. The materialists rarely answer them because they are unusually unanswerable. Your friends do not answer them, because after you have spoken, little else need be said. You are strong ally and a daunting opponent. Thank you for your posts.

  38. @Phaedros #16
    -”I was speaking to a friend of mine about the nature of science, she is one taken in by people like Dawkins and Shermer, and I said science is the freedom to examine any question or problem one can imagine or want. She said, flat out, “No it isn’t.” Shouldn’t this be a warning sign to someone who herself is graduating with a degree in chemistry soon?”

    This is precisely the problem with modern scientists (or “scientists” if you like). They are simply not trained to be pursuers of knowledge, but rather they are merely trained in the very specific and limited methodology of their respective field. This is one of the criticism Feyeraband made of modern science and I even think he criticized people like richard faynman, saying while he was a smart guy he lacked depth of knowledge and understanding.

  39. kairosfocus @ 25

    If you take time to look here you will see the point of evidence from a founder of themodern theory of evidence whose major work on the subject stills ells for US$300+.

    If I ever have the misfortune to be called before a court to defend some action or words the lawyer representing me will undoubtedly cost considerably more than $300.00. I do not want that man or woman to be pre-occupied with lofty notions of truth, I want them to be doing their damnedest to win my case by any legal means. I have no doubt that Barry Arrington’s clients feel the same.

    If evidence towards truth is irrelevant to courts, what you have is a reign of terror, at the whim of the ones who control the judges.

    If truth were so easy to unearth we would have little need of courts. There are undoubtedly some criminal cases where the evidence of guilt is so overwhelming that the defendant’s only realistic option is to throw himself on the mercy of the court. More often than not, though, the evidence is not so clear cut. This means that lawyers are able to offer competing explanations for the evidence and, in practice, the jury decides, not which is true, but which of them is the more persuasive. This is not a retreat into relativism. It is a recognition of the fact that the available arguments and evidence do not warrant any higher degree of certainty.

    And when arbitrary rules such as materialim as an a priori by the back door are allowed to corrupt science, it too becomes simply a tool to advance a dangerous agenda.

    Name one scientific advance or product of human technology in the last two hundred years which has not been founded on a materialist assumption. Materialism is not some arbitrary a priori, it is a warranted inference from observation and empirical testing. Put simply, it works. That is why it is used.

    Sev, we DO have well known easily observed explanaitons for programs, codes, data structures and implementing machines for same. Designers.

    True, but what we do not have is a good reason for thinking that cherry-picking functional similarities between human artefacts and biological organisms is anything other than weak analogising.

  40. Borne @ 32

    As Hoyle stated Darwinists are
    “in a sense mentally ill or, more precisely, either you became mentally ill or you quitted the subject of biology, as I had done in my early teens. The trouble for young biologists was that, with everyone around them ill, it became impossible for them to think they were well unless they were ill, which again is a situation you can read all about in the columns of Nature [magazine].”

    Hoyle, F., “Mathematics of Evolution”

    Clarke’s First Law:

    When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

  41. #35 Barry on kairofocus

    kairosfocus: Never think you are just beating the air. Your arguments are devastating. The materialists rarely answer them because they are unusually unanswerable.

    I don’t answer Kairofocus’ arguments because I don’t read them and I don’t read them because they are too long. I suspect this is common to a lot of other materialists. I used to read vjtorley with interest but, sadly, he too is starting to write items of several thousand words. In most universities undergraduates are expected to work to a strict word limit. This is a great discipline. Maybe UD should introduce something similar?

  42. 42
    Sooner Emeritus

    Barry (37):

    You’ve prompted me to read an entire GEM gallop for the first time in two years. He put many more words into my mouth than had come out of it, as well as his beloved Divine Foot. The reason I don’t interact with him is that it provokes an exponential increase in verbiage.

    In a comment kairosfocus responded to in another thread, I wrote:

    It genuinely distresses me to see people who understand themselves to be children of God, made in the image of God — in this world, but supposedly not of it — assimilate a sick zeitgeist in which everything real is knowable by public science, and anything that is not knowable by public science is not real.

    By private experience, which I will not allow anyone to discount, I understand myself to be a god, and a child of God. My sense of my own agency is ineluctable.

    Now he writes:

    15 –> And, Sooner, to speak of intelligent activity as “godlike” may well be far closer to the truth than you are willing to admit. “For, in his image God made man.” When you take off your lab coat tonight to go to bed, think on that a bit.

    I’d say he’s smacked into the wall you’re talking about. Do you actually admire this behavior?

  43. Oookay . . .

    Mr Arrington:

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Mr Frank:

    You rather underscore Mr Arrington’s point, when you say you choose to ignore rather than correct.

    (I am fairly sure that if you and others of like ilk had cogent replies, you would pounce triumphantly. As it is I now recommend that you take a read of the opening remarks in this online version of an interesting survey on how we usually think and what to do about it.)

    Senor Seversky (and Pelagius):

    The fatal — and utterly revealing –flaw in your argument is that, just as those before you, you assume and/or try to drive a wedge between justice and truth, while confusing advocacy of one party to a dispute with the overall intent of the justice system.

    The premise of the adversarial justice system is that with the different parties being given fairly broad ambit to present their cases, and with an umpire to enforce rules of process and evidence etc based on long experience, a jury of ordinary reasonably intelligent people will be able to sift and conclude on what the true facts are, whether on preponderance or beyond reasonable doubt.

    As Barbara Gloudon of Jamaica’s airwaves so often said: “there are three sides to a story: my side, your side; and, the truth.”

    So, when you Seversky dismiss the truth and try to drive a wedge between truth and justice in such a tone, and when you Pelagius cannot discern the implications of such a dismissal of truth in so vital a context, that underscores the point Mr Arrington is making. namely, that he rise of evolutionary materialism is doing in our time precisely what it has always done since 400+ BC: radically relativise and rhetoricise the community, denigrating truth in favour of opinion, agendas and power games.

    Down that road lie reigns of terror, and down that road lies the death of science in any sense worth having. For, if the courts are not constrained by truth, there is no reason to protect the powerless innocent, if the powerful suspect or wish to be rid of them. And, if the institutions of science are not concerend with credible truth then they are betraying a core purpose of science:

    scientia [Latin] = knowledge [English, rooted in Gk gnosis] = warranted, credibly true belief [per the balance of the case on epistemology].

    In this regard, when pelagius says “I don’t see anyone in this thread resorting to radical relativism . . . ” that may itself be a clue pointing to the influence of precisely that radical and radically flawed view. Truth is not merely perception.

    Also, some specific points require correction:

    a] Sev, 39: Name one scientific advance or product of human technology in the last two hundred years which has not been founded on a materialist assumption. Materialism is not some arbitrary a priori, it is a warranted inference from observation and empirical testing. Put simply, it works. That is why it is used.

    Utterly, outrageously, false.

    Just taking two points of history, most of the technical advances in the past 200 years have been based on the rise of electromagnetism [even relativity and quantum theory rose up out of EM!], and the development of thermodynamics. The relevant founders — e.g. Faraday, Maxwell and Kelvin — most plainly worked in the classic paradigm that science is thinking God’s creative thoughts about him. Indeed,the concept of electromagetic waves was rooted in reflections on the Triune nature of God. So, the first problem with this claim is tat it is not only patently false but a lie. For, any competent examination of the roots of modern science will at once show that that enterprise is inextricably rooted in Biblical, Judaeo-Christian soil, as for instance this article will document at 101 level. And, it is plain that scientists work best by unfettered but ethically and intellectually responsible inference to best current [and progressive] explanation of credible empirical data, not by imposing evolutionary materialism as a censoring a priori grid.

    In addition, as we have seen from Lewontin et al and the US National Academy of science et al, Seversky is trying to deny and dismiss the unwelcome truth. Let us hear Lewontin again, to underscore the point:

    Most of the chapters of The Demon-Haunted World are taken up with exhortations to the reader to cease whoring after false gods and to accept the scientific method as the unique pathway to a correct understanding of the natural world. To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . . .

    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.

    Materialism is plainly being imposed by ideologised scientific institutions as a censoring a priori, especially on origins science. Indeed, they are even trying to redefine science in materialist terms, to better enmesh and indoctrinate young and impressionable students in schools, threatening to hold such students hostage to ram through their agenda in the teeth of understandably reluctant boards of education.

    Worse, this is an attempt to excuse outrageous imposed censorship on origins especially, premised on a system of thought that is inescapably and inherently self-refuting [onlookers, notice the studious silence in the face of this link and others like it]; thus, per logical necessity, definitively false. Excerpting tghe key part of the just linked:

    . . . [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. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? And, should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze?

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

    [ . . . ]

  44. b] Sev, 39: we do not have is a good reason for thinking that cherry-picking functional similarities between human artefacts and biological organisms is anything other than weak analogising we do not have is a good reason for thinking that cherry-picking functional similarities between human artefacts and biological organisms is anything other than weak analogising

    A dismissive slanderous strawman, sadly reflective of the fallacy of the closed indoctrinated mind, and based on dismissively loaded language in the teeth of patent facts, facts known ever since in 1953 Crick wrote to his son thusly:

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

    In the following decades, the protein making component of the DNA code was elucidated as a three-letter, 64 state code that uses start and stop codes [so it integrates data and instructions], and in recent years, we have been making progress on identifying the other regulatory codes that work with the protein recipes to step- by- step assemble and operate cells, organs, systems and organisms.

    As the DNA –> mRNA –> Ribosome + tRNA procedure shows beyond reasonable doubt [video], we see in the heart of the cell and cell based life:

    i –> digital, 4-state code [DNA]

    ii –> transcription to a step-by-step control tape [mRNA], transmitted to a processing unit [Ribosome]

    iii –> Initialisation procedure in that unit [getting to the start codon]

    iv –> Step by step assembly of a product and associated translation from a symbolic code to its functional meaning: anticodon recognition and release of the associated specific amino acid to chain with the growing polypeptide,using tRNAs and the A and P sites in the ribosome

    v –> algorithmic terminaiton using a specific stop code [actually a cluster of them, with associated failsafes, as about 5% of random codons will be stops]

    vi –> coordinated teardown of the process unit, recycling of key elements, and transfer of product [protein] to use-sites (often using the same technique the Internet uses: headers)

    and more . . .

    This is not weak analogy or mere cherry-picking, this is instantiation of key aspects of the mathematically worked out requisites of the von Neumann universal constructor self-replicating automaton.

    (Which analysis BTW predates the discovery of DNA. And, here biology bridges to other fields of study,and so Darwinian theory is suddenly open to cross tests from other well-established fields, of cybernetics, controls, communications, information theory etc. It does not fare well, but institutional power has been abused to deflect the implications and consequences, for decades. The challenge raised by Design Theory is just the first set of ripples from the tidal waves that are coming. But, you see the relevant experts on these issues are n0ot biologists, generally speaking. Cyberneticists, mathematicians, engineers, applied physicists and the like are far more likely to understand the key issues, and to come to the question without institutionalised ideological bias and control.)

    Namely:

    (i) an underlying code to record/store the required information and to guide procedures for using it,

    (ii) a coded blueprint/tape record of such specifications and (explicit or implicit) instructions, together with

    (iii) a tape reader [called “the constructor” by von Neumann] that reads and interprets the coded specifications and associated instructions, and

    (iv) implementing machines (and associated organisation and procedures) to carry out the specified replication (including that of the constructor itself); backed up by

    (v) either:

    (1) a pre-existing reservoir of required parts and energy sources, or

    (2) associated “metabolic” machines carrying out activities that provide required specific materials and forms of energy by using the generic resources in the surrounding environment.

    Also, parts (ii), (iii) and (iv) are each necessary for and together are jointly sufficient to implement a self-replicating von Neumann universal constructor. That is, we see here an irreducibly complex set of core components that must all be present in a properly organised fashion for a successful self-replicator to exist. [Take just one core part out, and function ceases: the replicator is irreducibly complex (IC).] This irreducible complexity is compounded by the requirement (i) for codes, requiring organised symbols and rules to specify both steps to take and formats for storing information, and (v) for appropriate material resources and energy sources.

    The notion that blind chance and undirected mechanical necessity would even once construct such an entity on the gamut of our observed cosmos is patently absurd. The only credible source of sch integrated functional information and design is advanced technology, beyond what we can as yet achieve.

    And, when we see that the finetuned cosmos is also plainly set up to facilitate the circumstances for c-chemistry cell based life to be made and to thrive, which suggests even more advanced art backed up by unimaginable power, we begin to get a view of why it is that the materialists so fear “a Divine Foot” in the door to their dolly-house.

    c] MF, 41: I don’t answer Kairofocus’ arguments because I don’t read them and I don’t read them because they are too long.

    This, from someone doing a Masters on Science in Society who has asked for help on the debate over embryonic stem cell debates.

    He knows, or should know, that university libraries brim over with long papers, essays and books that are typically many thousands of words in length, to deal with major topics at responsible length.

    So, for instance, above, Seversky raised several key issues, which require significant length to address responsibly. A length that is far shorter than the dozens of books and papers that could have simply been referred to. But we already know that since Sev et al have been previously engaged and corrected by linking relevant correctives, such are typically unresponsive to mere reference; e.g. on the inherently self refuting nature of evolutionary materialism.

    That is, MF — sadly — is being distractive and dismissive, while refusing to engage the substantial issues.

    ________________

    Looks like some “my reality vs yours” materialist spinning has again suffered a mischief after it has yet again smacked into the wall of credible scientifically grounded reality . . .

    Smack!

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  45. #43

    KF

    You wrote:

    Mr Frank:

    You rather underscore Mr Arrington’s point, when you say you choose to ignore rather than correct.

    (I am fairly sure that if you and others of like ilk had cogent replies, you would pounce triumphantly.

    I am afraid you flatter yourself. I have no idea whether I have a cogent reply to your comments because I don’t have the time to read them.

    Your comments #43 and #44 above are both over a 1000 words long. A typical length for an undergraduate essay is 2000 words. A tutor who is doing a decent job would take at least 30 minutes to mark an essay. I need a very good reason to give up 30 minutes of my time to read your comments – particularly as the result is likely to be another comment of similar length. After all I could spend the time reading a Dembski or Behe paper.

  46. PS: Since further discussion needs to be in light of the themes and insights from von Neumann’s universal constructor, I give some background links — Wilkipedia is sadly deficient on this one (no prizes for guessing why):

    1] Review, with a focus on a software simulation. (NB: I am not impressed with simulations, we need a machine to do it physically, and at both molecular scales and ordinary scales — which would transform our global technological basis. BTW, Jakubowski et al with their Open Source Ecology paradigm for Industrial Society 2.0, especially the resilient community construction set are onto something. Indeed, I intend to use a lot of heir ideas in my onward consultancies on 3rd world Caribbean focussed sustainable development. Including on my advice on post Haiti quake redevelopment. [Now you know some of what I have been busy about in recent months . . . cf esp the timeline chart with links in the pdf.])

    2] Nasa Study, towards advanced automation of space missions. [And, do you see where the "reverse engineering" view of science points?]

    3] Scanned copy of von Neumann’s book courtesy Web Archive.

    4] Tempesti’s summary and his description of the Tom Thumb Algor

    5] A scoop from Merkle:

    Von Neumann’s proposal consisted of two central elements: a Universal Computer and a Universal Constructor (see figure 1). The Universal Computer contains a program that directs the behavior of the Universal Constructor. The Universal Constructor, in turn, is used to manufacture both another Universal Computer and a Universal Constructor. Once finished, the newly manufactured Universal Computer was programmed by copying the program contained in the original Universal Computer, and program execution would then begin.

    . . . . This is rather an abstract proposal and covers a wide variety of specific implementations. Furthermore, both the design of the system and the environment in which it is intended to operate must be specified. The range of systems that would successfully operate on the ocean floor would be different from those that would operate in either deep space or an abstract mathematical space that had no physical existence. Von Neumann worked out the details for a Constructor that worked in a theoretical two-dimensional cellular automata world (and parts of his proposal have since been modeled computationally[13]). The Constructor had an arm, which it could move about; and a tip, which could be used to change the state of the cell on which it rested. Thus, by progressively moving the arm and changing the state of the cell at the tip of the arm, it was possible to create “objects” that consisted of regions of the two-dimensional cellular automata world which were fully specified by the program that controlled the Constructor.

    While this solution demonstrates the theoretical validity of the idea, von Neumann’s kinematic constructor (which was not worked out in such detail) has had perhaps a greater influence, for it is a model of self replication which can more easily be adapted to the three-dimensional world in which we live. The kinematic constructor was a robotic arm which moved in three-space, and which grasped parts from a sea of parts around it. These parts were then assembled into another kinematic constructor and its associated control computer.

    An important point to notice is that self replication, while important, is not by itself an objective. A device able to make copies of itself but unable to make anything else would not be very valuable. Von Neumann’s proposals centered around the combination of a Universal Constructor, which could make anything it was directed to make, and a Universal Computer, which could compute anything it was directed to compute. This combination provides immense value, for it can be re- programmed to make any one of a wide range of things. It is this ability to make almost any structure that is desired, and to do so at low cost, which is of value. The ability of the device to make copies of itself is simply a means to achieve low cost, rather than an end in itself.

    Of course, those who imagine that random chance program changes — which notoriously would overwhelmingly tend to destroy existing function rather than create new function — would allow such to evolve rapidly to ever more complex machines [which then compete in an environment to select the superior technology], have latched on to that idea

    –> But, they are overlooking the functional specificity, complex organisation and informational requisites of such. [For good reason, complex software does not write itself by lucky noise!]

    –> And, that is the issue that design theory points to.

  47. kairosfocus @43,

    The relevant founders — e.g. Faraday, Maxwell and Kelvin — most plainly worked in the classic paradigm that science is thinking God’s creative thoughts about him.

    None of the science they did could not have been done by a Hindu, a Buddhist or an atheist.

    Please show me any Christian scientific formula or algorithm.

    Show me any formula or algorithm that could only be used by a Christian.

  48. Barry Arrington @37,

    kairosfocus: Never think you are just beating the air. Your arguments are devastating. The materialists rarely answer them because they are unusually unanswerable.

    If the Evos on this site actually answered every single point made by kairosfocus in a single post, each opinion piece would have comments the size of a book.

    Nothing kairosfocus says is unanswerable except to kairosfocus, who constantly retreats into charges of strawmanism.

    There are many here, StephenB and yourself included, who tend to give short and to-the-point responses.

    If kairosfocus did the same, most of us would take the time to read and respond.

    As an experiment, kairosfocus should try that.

  49. Barry Arrington @37,

    Point 2, the big one:

    How can you say this,

    kairosfocus: Never think you are just beating the air. Your arguments are devastating. The materialists rarely answer them because they are unusually unanswerable.

    to the people like me, who thanks to the moderation policies of this site, cannot respond in a timely manner?

    Why are you afraid to give us the same access to the floor that kairosfocus has?

  50. MF to KF:

    I am afraid you flatter yourself.

    Hammer, meet nail.

    our comments #43 and #44 above are both over a 1000 words long.

    2,402 to be exact. Followed by another 763 in post script at comment 46. Length is but one problem. That he proposed a (supposed) analog for evolution in another thread that completely ignores selection leads me to the conclusion that there is not a pony buried in amongst all those words.

  51. MF:

    How about:

    (a) you are standing up in public here at UD, in front of 10 – 15 thousand people on a daily basis, to advocate a position that is credibly self-referentially incoherent, and

    (b) on a serious line of not only history of ideas but also history, has been associated with amorality [i.e. the notorious is-ought gap of materialism and similar skepticisms], thus

    (c) undermining key values and virtues [cf below on the stem cells debates], serving repeatedly as a pre-cursor to tyranny, as

    (d) the sad history of the last century shows all too vividly. As 100 million ghosts warn us on.

    Just for a point of departure, here is Plato on the issues, in The Laws, Bk X:

    [The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. 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 . . . . these people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them [i.e. radical relativism traces directly to evolutionary materialistic thought] . . . These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [here, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them [and down that road lie chaos and tyranny] . . . [Jowett translation. Emphases and explanatory parentheses added.]

    In short, if responsibility in a momentous context does not move you in your advocacy, it says a lot, and not happily.

    Pardon, if my words come across sharpishly.

    But, much is at stake.

    Indeed, let me build a bridge to the embryonic stem cell issue you are concerned with in your Masters in Sci and Soc [i.e. largely ethics of sci]:

    a] From avant garde evolutionary materialism, we move to the concept that human life is not sacred, reflective of Imago Dei, and to the further notion that there is life of lesser worth than that of the avant garde superior supermen

    b] Thence we arrive at the Nazi-like notion that there is human life unworthy of being lived in liberty, justice and equality of opportunity, or even that there is human life unworthy of being lived at all.

    c] Thereafter, it is but a step to the Schaeffer-Koop cascade of amorality and tyranny: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, genocide.

    d] On embryonic stem cells, today’s supermen tell us that this is embryonic life of inferior value and worth, thus should not be protected from high tech cannibalisation to “help” their superiors.

    e] Thence, we see attempts to kill and harvest human embryos in the hopes of getting stem cells of great flexibility to “heal.”

    f] Meanwhile those who would cannibalise on the helpless do not tell us that pluripotent stem cells that do not come from morally questionable sources – i.e. so-called adult and cord blood etc stem cells – are already achieving dozens of treatments, while embryonic cells are giving serious problems

    g] Instead, they willfully poison the atmosphere by changing the subject to science vs religion, with strawman attacks on an imagined right wing theocracy conspiracy, thus poisoning, confusing and polarising the public discussion of policy issues with very serious implications for us all.

    In short, what is going on in this thread, from the original post on, is highly relevant and vitally important, with potentially appalling consequences if evolutionary materialism further triumphs.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: MF I am no sophomore student trying out his shiny new intellectual wings, and you are not my course tutor sitting in serene judgement on superior knowledge. In short, your analogy is utterly revealing.

  52. ET:

    You obviously are addicted to strawman distortions of those you discuss with.

    I, 3:10 pm yesterday specifically pointed out — and I seem to need to follow up on a couple of other points there later today DV — why the first issue [cf above on the vN replicator] is the origin of functionally specific complex information in a working body plan, and why until you have a functional and self-replicating life form natural selection through competing sub populations is irrelevant and question-begging.

    But then, that sort of manipulative strawman denigratory and dismissive rhetoric is sadly par for the evolutionary materialist course; as this thread is highlighting.

    GEM of TKI

  53. ET

    On a further look at your above remarks, it seems the matter is worse: you are plainly lying, at minimum by refusing to check out relevant facts in the interests of truth and fairness. (For instance, onlookers, why not look at the briefing note that is automatically linked to EVERY post I have ever made at UD? As well as the weak argument correctives that appear on every page at UD?]

    Just as Bary A pointed out in the original post as a characteristic problem of today’s radically relativist evo mat advocates.

    ET, you owe me an apology — not that I am holding my breath,

    G’day sir

    GEM of TKI

  54. 54
    Sooner Emeritus

    Barry,

    It’s more than a little sad that I’ve been describing pragmatism and instrumentalism — elementary topics in the philosophy of science — and get branded with [yawn] materialism.

    pragmatism (uncountable)
    3. (philosophy) The idea that beliefs are identified with the actions of a believer, and the truth of beliefs with success of those actions in securing a believer’s goals; the doctrine that ideas must be looked at in terms of their practical effects and consequences.

    There’s pragmatism manifest in the different burdens of proof for criminal and civil cases.

    From the article on Scientific Progress in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
    A major controversy among philosophers of science is between instrumentalist and realist views of scientific theories (Leplin 1984; Psillos 1999; Niiniluoto 1999). The instrumentalists follow Duhem in thinking that theories are merely conceptual tools for classifying, systematizing and predicting observational statements, so that the genuine content of science is not to be found on the level of theories (Duhem 1954). Scientific realists, by contrast, regard theories as attempts to describe reality even beyond the realm of observable things and regularities, so that theories can be regarded as statements having a truth value.[...]An instrumentalist who denies that theories have truth values usually defines scientific progress by referring to other virtues theories may have, such as their increasing empirical success.

    I see most working scientists as pragmatists — what is “real” for them is what they can make “work” — and then speaking as though they are scientific realists. Scientists are often very bad philosophers (and that’s why philosophers of science always think they know better than scientists what science is).

    My instrumentalism is rooted in my understanding that I have no way to say how my percepts are connected to reality. What is the “proof” of my sensory apparati? A. S. Eddington suggested that what we believe about nature might be a consequence of our instruments of measurement, and I fully agree. I cannot imagine how one would ever demonstrate that we have extended our native senses to instruments of measurement that permit us to “see” everything that is real.

    A bigger problem I have with all of this is that it is all about outward exploration. My inward experience is real, and giving credence to my sense of my own creation, as well as my intimation of the Creation, is valid. Presumably everybody reading this has access to the same inward experience. They may choose to discount it because it is unscientific. It seems to me that the ID program is a muddled attempt to foist intrinsically private experience onto public science, and to make science “tell the truth” in terms of private belief. I see ID as a devaluation of, and a distraction from, the inward exploration that really will get one to the Truth.

  55. Mark Frank –I think we mostly just think you guys are wrong.

    And that is fine. Now, just for curiosity’s sake do you recognize that ID is not creationism and can you articulate the difference?

    KF, great job as always.

  56. kairosfocus writes of Mark Frank:

    He knows, or should know, that university libraries brim over with long papers, essays and books that are typically many thousands of words in length, to deal with major topics at responsible length.

    KF,

    The key phrase is “responsible length”. I am quite willing to read articles or essays that have a high content to length ratio, even if they are long. The problem is that your posts are far longer than necessary, and the repetition is mind-numbing.

    To take just one example, look at the results of a Google search for ‘kairosfocus “Divine Foot” site:uncommendescent.com’. Even assuming (generously) that about half of those hits are false, you have still quoted Lewontin 150(!) times at UD. And not just a phrase or a sentence, but entire paragraphs. And you’ve done it again in this very thread!

    Please, kairosfocus, give us a break. Our time is valuable.

    Returning to the topic at hand, you have accused Sooner, Seversky and me of ‘radical relativism’ in this thread, yet you haven’t been able to cite a single instance in which any of us has made an argument akin to “Well, that’s your reality. My reality is different.”

    Barry has been unable to provide examples of anyone making such an argument at UD.

    What was the point of this thread, again?

  57. #48

    KF. I think you overestimate the influence of UD. I am surprised by the figure of 10-15,000 people a day. Where did you get it?

    But in any case only a complete addict would have time to read every post by every commenter. However important the issues, we all have to pick and choose and make a decision as to where our time is best spent.

    I only draw the analogy with a tutor marking an undergraduate essay because a similar effort is required to read comments and do them justice. I am not saying that I see myself as the tutor and you as the undergrad. I would expect you to expend a similar effort should you choose to read and comment on something I wrote.

    Nor am I criticising the content or style of what you write. I have already said I don’t read it (except for this exchange of course). I am just telling you that if other readers are like me (and I think a lot of materialists are) then you are missing a large proportion of your potential audience because your comments are so long. Bear in mind that the vast majority of arguments on UD have been recycled hundreds of times.

  58. I, 3:10 pm yesterday specifically pointed out

    It would seem your inability to admit error does, indeed, latch.

  59. #52
    Tribune

    Now, just for curiosity’s sake do you recognize that ID is not creationism and can you articulate the difference?

    I recognise that ID is different from schools of thought that are specific about how a God or Gods made the universe and earth e.g. YEC, OEC, Muslim, Greek Myths and all the many other creation stories. So if you restrict “creationism” to refer to these specific accounts then ID is different. Nevertheless many of the problems with creationism apply to ID. ID entails a teleological explanation of the creation of the universe and life – even if it avoids the details. And for me all teleological explanations have problems – but that is a long story.

  60. Mark,

    At #55 you miss the important differences.

    Creationism is faith that is cites revelation as authority and hence is something that cannot be objectively falsified, while ID is science that draws conclusions from observations of nature, which means that it is potentially falsifiable and hence must not be considered a dogma.

    teleological explanation of the creation of the universe and life – even if it avoids the details.

    How is a non-teleological explanation of the creation of the universe not a matter of faith?

  61. 61

    Toronto,

    How can you say this,

    kairosfocus: Never think you are just beating the air. Your arguments are devastating. The materialists rarely answer them because they are unusually unanswerable.

    to the people like me, who thanks to the moderation policies of this site, cannot respond in a timely manner?

    Why are you afraid to give us the same access to the floor that kairosfocus has?

    You should be addressing that to me, given that I put you into moderation. Your comments are approved timely, which, even if they weren’t, has nothing to do with whether they actually adequately answer kairosfocus. You have the same access to the floor, given that your comments get approved, so don’t pretend otherwise. Now, down to business, after your red herring has been removed, feel free to answer kairosfocus.

  62. #58 Tribune

    Mark,

    At #55 you miss the important differences.

    Creationism is faith that is cites revelation as authority and hence is something that cannot be objectively falsified, while ID is science that draws conclusions from observations of nature, which means that it is potentially falsifiable and hence must not be considered a dogma.

    Funnily enough for me it is the other way round. It seems to me that, for example, YEC gives enough detail that it can be falsified (and is). While I believe that ID if looked at deeply enough, is not falsifiable. But that is a long and often repeated discussion.


    How is a non-teleological explanation of the creation of the universe not a matter of faith?

    I don’t think I mentioned faith. I don’t think the key problem with teleological explanations is they require faith. But this threatens to start a long and much repeated discussion.

  63. Sooner:

    FYI, no need to get in a tizzy; we at UD are very aware of the phil of sci debate between realists and anti-realists in the sciences. (Don’t forget Wm A Dembski’s 2nd PhD, after Mathematics, is in phil, and that several others associated with ID are deeply trained in phil and/or history of sci.)

    [NB: It's not just instrumentalists, there is a broad spectrum of antirealists. All the way out to Feyerabend's at first outrageous "anything goes," which then comes across as a pardonable colourful statement by one of he most colourful of modern philospohers, once we see that his more prosaic point is that good science has been done in violation of just about every canon of sci cited by demarcationists or realists etc. And if you want to know who in particular I take most seriously, it is Lakatos, whose essay here is a classic. Especially, his point about how research programmes are deeply embedded with worldview aspects in their cores, and how such cores are surrounded by armour belts of auxiliary ideas and constructs that insulate the core form direct challenge from reality. In which context we look at progressive and degenerative research programmes; with ability to elegantly [as opposed to ad hoc patchworkery], coherently and adequately account for facts as they come in being a key test.)

    We are also aware that a chastened provisional realism is wise, one with eclectic elements on particular areas where scientific findings are particularly open to challenge. And in particular, when we look at the scientifically informed reconstruction of the remote, unobserved and unobservable deep past, that is a main candidate for localised antirealism!

    As to the issue over materialism, you know full well that a priori materialism, usually in the sheep’s clothing of a methodological constraint, is the imposed censoring filter on origins science.

    So, we have a perfect right to point that out above, and to point out just how it distorts the ability to see what would otherwise be patent given the routinely observed source of codes, algorithms, programs, and executing machines, i.e. intelligence. Especially when we can easily see that the implied or explicit functionally specific complex information greatly exceeds a threshold where happenstance, undirected, statistical contingency [ = chance] is a reasonably plausible candidate explanation.

    GEM of TKI

  64. Clive Hayden @61,

    You have the same access to the floor, given that your comments get approved, so don’t pretend otherwise.

    My comments sometimes don’t appear until the next day when the debate has moved on.

    A Dawkins-Dembski debate would not be fair if Dembski had even a 20-minute delay on his microphone.

    Why not just put everyone on moderation, that way all comments would have equal visibility.

  65. @Sooner #51

    -“ I see most working scientists as pragmatists — what is “real” for them is what they can make “work” — and then speaking as though they are scientific realists. Scientists are often very bad philosophers (and that’s why philosophers of science always think they know better than scientists what science is).”

    You hit the nail on the head sooner. This is in fact the root of the entire controversy and the fundamental flaw that lies at the heart of scientism. Neither most practicing scientists nor the “scientific laymen” (society) understand this, hence why we often see science at odds with many.

    -“ My instrumentalism is rooted in my understanding that I have no way to say how my percepts are connected to reality. What is the “proof” of my sensory apparati? A. S. Eddington suggested that what we believe about nature might be a consequence of our instruments of measurement, and I fully agree. I cannot imagine how one would ever demonstrate that we have extended our native senses to instruments of measurement that permit us to “see” everything that is real”

    That is another good point and indicative of the element of faith in the scientific enterprise. We often forget that the methods of science are human constructs and like to assume that they are in some sense infallibly correlated to reality. Even without instruments, we still cannot conclusively prove that our senses are able to provide us with an accurate representation of what is real.
    The question that first needs to be answered is whether science represents merely an instrumentalist method (or variety of methods) or whether it is a search for truth. Problems arise when the two are conflated.

    Seversky above is a good case in point, who appears to conflate methodological and ontological materialism and consequently rewards the latter (which is an a priori assumption) with the phenomenal success of the former. Kairosfocus rightly objected to that and showed how such assumption is false.

    What cannot be denied is that the methodologies we have developed in trying to manipulate the material world have provided some impressive results in the fields of technology for example (iPhones, cars, irrigation systems, computers!!! etc). But it’s a long stretch and an unwarranted leap of faith to go from the pragmatic results of said manipulation to an attempt at proselytizing a priori metaphysical materialism, such in the case of lewotnin and every other materialist/atheist.

    Are you a Theistic evolutionist? Like I said in my initial post on this forum some weeks ago, I am open to both ID and evolution but I am more interested in seeing where the discussion between the two will go.

  66. Please show me any Christian scientific formula or algorithm.

    The last serious attempts were by Isaac Newton. His alchemy and Bibliomancy failed. His three laws of motion suceeded, but contain no term for God. F = ma.

  67. Seversky:

    Clarke’s law?

    1. It isn’t a law
    2. Science fiction isn’t science

  68. Mark Frank — Funnily enough for me it is the other way round. It seems to me that, for example, YEC gives enough detail that it can be falsified (and is). While I believe that ID if looked at deeply enough, is not falsifiable. But that is a long and often repeated discussion.

    Since YEC cites revelation as authority, evidence showing its tenets to be incorrect will eventually be refuted according to the faith, and science attempting to refute faith is trying to prove a negative. You can only infer the Earth to be 4.5 billion years old from observations of nature, you can’t definitively show it.

    ID, otoh, reports observations of nature. DNA has characteristics that are only found in known objects of design. You can falsify it by showing that DNA does not have the characteristics claimed or by showing that those characteristics are found in things known not to be designed.

    How is a non-teleological explanation of the creation of the universe not a matter of faith? . . . I don’t think I mentioned faith.

    You didn’t. ‘Twas I that pointed out that belief in a non-teleological cause requires faith :-)

  69. Toronto

    Barry Arrington @37,

    If the Evos on this site actually answered every single point made by kairosfocus in a single post, each opinion piece would have comments the size of a book.

    Nothing kairosfocus says is unanswerable except to kairosfocus, who constantly retreats into charges of strawmanism.

    If at least you understood what kairos said that would help.
    You claim its all answerable?

    Duh, let’s see; go to the typical atheist forum and try to find valid answers for what kairos wrote and what do you find? Tons of strawman arguments, tons of mere denial tons of answers that actually prove his points of course and tons of blatant ignorant, stupidity -a la Dawkins, Harris et al..

    The only way to even attempt to refute the points against atheism’s obligatory relativism is by assuming that atheism is false, that relativism is false.

    But they try anyway while never even realizing their self contradictions!!

    Amazing blindness.

  70. Onlookers:

    ET, sadly, continues to put his incivility on display.

    Actually, this is a good opport5unity to show juswt how a false view of relity is being set up aws a convenient strawman intended to pull the wool over the yes of onlookers. As Mr Arrington highlighted in the original post.

    The question-begging and diastractive strawman games over “natural selection” are a capital example.

    So, let us now address the issue of origin of life forms by alleges application of chance variation and natural selection.

    1 –> An excellent place to begin is with Darwin’s introductory remarks and his closing words in Origin [citing 6th edn for convenience]:

    . . . the Struggle for Existence amongst all organic beings throughout the world, which inevitably follows from the high geometrical ratio of their increase, will be considered. This is the doctrine of Malthus, applied to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms. As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurrent struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.

    This fundamental subject of Natural Selection will be treated at some length in the fourth chapter; and we shall then see how Natural Selection almost inevitably causes much Extinction of the less improved forms of life, and leads to what I have called Divergence of Character.

    . . . . It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life and from use and disuse [and yes, Darwin could be more lamarckian than Lamarck]: a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved. [[Origin, Ch 15. Emphasis added.]

    2 –> Did you notice the vital questions being begged or fudged?

    3 –> Namely:

    (a) where did variability come from, and what are its realistic limits in a generation, and between generations?

    (b) where did the first fully functional life form come from, how, on what evidence?

    4 –> On the latter, the core problem arises in concentrated form. For, until life forms, we can have no reproduction, so no differential success of sub-populations and no survival of the “fittest’ or whatever modern euphemism you choose.

    5 –> In Origin, Darwin fudges by introducing a god as an actor on stage; diverting attention from the single biggest hole in his theory then and its derivatives today. (Of course, knowing by then that his letters would be collected and published, he later wrote his still warm pond letter. Thence Oparin et al to today.)

    6 –> By the late 1940′s thanks to von Neumann, we knew the logico-mathematical requisites for a self replicating entity capable of the sort of things life forms are capable of. Pardon a bit of repetition, but we need to hammer this home solid:

    (i) an underlying code to record/store the required information and to guide procedures for using it,

    (ii) a coded blueprint/tape record of such specifications and (explicit or implicit) instructions, together with

    (iii) a tape reader [[called “the constructor” by von Neumann] that reads and interprets the coded specifications and associated instructions, and

    (iv) implementing machines (and associated organisation and procedures) to carry out the specified replication (including that of the constructor itself); backed up by

    (v) either:

    (1) a pre-existing reservoir of required parts and energy sources, or

    (2) associated “metabolic” machines carrying out activities that provide required specific materials and forms of energy by using the generic resources in the surrounding environment.

    6 –> Now, parts (ii), (iii) and (iv) are each necessary for and together are jointly sufficient to implement a self-replicating von Neumann universal constructor. That is, we see here an irreducibly complex set of core components that must all be present in a properly organised fashion for a successful self-replicator to exist. [Take just one core part out, and function ceases: the replicator is irreducibly complex (IC).]

    7 –> This irreducible complexity is compounded by the requirement (i) for codes, requiring organised symbols and rules to specify both steps to take and formats for storing information, and (v) for appropriate material resources and energy sources.

    8 –> Immediately, we are looking at islands of organised function for both the machinery and the information in the wider sea of possible (but mostly non-functional) configurations.

    9 –> In short, outside such functionally specific — thus, isolated — information-rich target zones, want of correct components and/or of proper organisation and/or co-ordination will block function from emerging or being sustained.

    10 –> So, once the set of possible configurations is large enough and the islands of function are credibly sufficiently specific/isolated, it is unreasonable to expect such function to arise from chance, or from chance circumstances driving blind natural forces under the known laws of nature.

    11 –> Now, too, a tape of 1,000 bits (= 125 bytes) is plainly insufficient to specify the parts and instructions for a von Neumann replicator. But, the number of possible configurations of 1,000 bits is 1.07 * 10^301, more than ten times the square of the 10^150 states the 10^80 atoms of our observed universe would take up across a reasonable estimate of its lifespan.

    12 –> So, viewing our observed universe as a search device, it would scan less than 1 in 10^150th part of even so “small” a configuration space. That is, it would not carry out a credible “search” for islands of function, making such islands sufficiently isolated to be beyond the reasonable reach of a blind search.

    [ . . . ]

  71. 13 –> But, while our technology has not been able as yet to create such a self-replicator, in fact such devices are common: the living cell. In those cells DNA strands of typically 100,000 to 4,000,000,000 four-state elements provide a “tape” that is read by molecular machines in the cell and used to create and organise the proteins and other molecules of life, which carry out its functions. And the configuration space specified by just 100,000 four-state elements has 9.98 * 10^60,205 possible states.

    14 –> So, it is at least plausible that cell based life is just what Darwin was in the end forced to put on the table: an artifact of design — a conclusion that is very unwelcome in the Lewontinian evolutionary materialist camp. (indeed, when we survey the sorry state of origin of life modelling on evolutionary materialist premises, without starry-eyed naivete, we at once see that her eis no better explanation than this.)

    15 –> Moreover, the underlying physics of our observed cosmos shows that the cluster of parameters, circumstances and laws required to make a cosmos suitable for intelligent cell-based life is balanced on a knife’s edge. So, it is also plausible that the observed cosmos exhibits significant signs of design. That is even less welcome in the Lewontinian camp, as that may well point to an extra-cosmic, rather powerful intelligence as the designer of our cosmos.

    16 –> But, we need to move on to the issue of claimed origin of body plans by chance variation and natural selection.

    17 –> Now, of course, it was notorious in Darwin’s day that in Cambrian fossil beds, we find an explosive diversification of animal body plans; so much so that he was forced to plead rhe incompleteness of the state of exploration, and his expectation that precursors would turn up.

    18 –> But, after 150 years, many explorations, over 1/4 million identified fossil species and millions to billions of actual fossils [between those collected and those still in known beds] the observed pattern of the Cambrian and the wider record is still sudden appearance, stasis, disappearance and/or continuaiton into the modern world. [The Coelecanth shows us how vanishing for a projected several dozen million years is consistent with showing up in the modern era.]

    18 –> Meyer, in his famous critical review article of 2004, which despite much slander to the contrary passed proper peer review by “renowned scientists”; has given us a handy summary on estimating the number of base pairs to get to a novel body plan, and on constraints associated with getting to such a plan:

    One way to estimate the amount of new CSI [complex specified information] 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). Transitions from a single cell to colonies of cells to complex animals represent significant (and, in principle, measurable) increases in CSI . . . .

    In order to explain the origin of the Cambrian animals, one must account not only for new proteins and cell types, but also for the origin of new body plans . . . Mutations in genes that are expressed late in the development of an organism will not affect the body plan. Mutations expressed early in development, however, could conceivably produce significant morphological change (Arthur 1997:21) . . . [but] processes of development are tightly integrated spatially and temporally such that changes early in development will require a host of other coordinated changes in separate but functionally interrelated developmental processes downstream. For this reason, mutations will be much more likely to be deadly if they disrupt a functionally deeply-embedded structure such as a spinal column than if they affect more isolated anatomical features such as fingers (Kauffman 1995:200) . . .

    19 –> So,to get to a viable novel body plan requires significant coordinated adjustment of body plan, through embryologically early changes; i.e. major rewrite of the embryological development program. And given the size of rhe required programs, this is well beyond the FSCI threshold of 500 – 1,000 bits.

    20 –> REMEMBER, THIS IS TO GET TO A VIABLE ORGANISM THAT CAN SURVIVE AND LIVE. So, unless spontaneous changes well beyond the Abel universal plausibility threshold are happening, we don’t get far enough to get a novel sub population to have competition for resources and environmental culling of the relatively unfit, aka “natural selection.”

    21 –> in short, the cybernetics issues strongly point out that natural selection is overwhelmingly Blythian not Darwinian in effect: conservative, eliminating chance variations that disrupt the functionality of a body plan.

    22 –> BOTTOM-LINE: Minor changes in phenotype and leading to niche specialisation and variations are possible, by various mechanisms, but sudden origin of novel body plans by chance variation [CV] + natural selection [NS] is utterly implausible.

    23 –> Now, too, as we saw, the question of variation to get to novel body was on the table for the past 150 years, and the claimed gradual variation across the span of a tree of life — the only illustration in Origin [facing p. 90] — cuts across the fossil record. Indeed, if we take the example of a wing, we get a bad leg long before we get a functional wing, and a wing form requires considerable neurological and muscular organization and programming to control it.

    22 –> So, we are back to Blythe again: since CV is non-foresighted, future potential advantage cannot block present elimination of a hindering characteristic. The animals with bad limbs get eaten or fall out of trees they cannot cling to properly [and then get eaten . . .] — depending on cursorial or arboreal models of protobirds — and don’t reproduce.

    23 –> And, that holds for a host of novel body plans.

    24 –> So the diversion from the issue of origin of functionally specific complex biological information to the assumption of convenient variation and natural selection is question-begging.

    25 –> And, after 150 years, we cannot accept promissory notes and just so stories any more.

    26 –> Nor is playing at anti-theology, the better to smuggle in an a priori materialist magisterium dressed in lab coats acceptable. On this Philip Johnson has said it well in reply to Lewontin:

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

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [Emphasis added.] [The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    _______________________

    And, of course there will be the now usual attempt to dismiss on “length,” as an excuse to ignore substance; but we, looking on will know better.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  72. Borne @ 65

    Clarke’s law?

    1. It isn’t a law
    2. Science fiction isn’t science

    3. Fred Hoyle wasn’t a biologist

  73. Efren ts:

    Toronto:

    Pelagius

    After witnessing all these complaints about the length of kairosfocus’ posts, I have to ask the obvious question: How sour can grapes get? It is, indeed, comical to watch those who have nothing to say, except to challenge what others say, complain about the number of words an author uses. If you are overwhelmed by two or three pages of substantive prose, choose a paragraph or two that you can handle and then try to refute the points. It is not necessary to comment on every word that someone puts on the public record.

    Every writer has a different style, and some go into more detail than others, depending on his overall objective. If you are going to insinuate that some of kairosfocus’ information is irrelevant or extraneous, please provide evidence of that fact. Your time would be better spent dealing with the substance of what has been said to the extent that you can absorb it. Be thankful that ID proponents have a theme and a wide variety of thought stimulators that you can attack because without them your options would be severely limited. Cynics who sneer at the prospect that some kind of truth exists generally make for very poor authors when they have to create their own context. Having nothing to say, they survive only by leeching off the substance of those who do have something to say.

    On the matter of continuity, I contend that kairosfocus’ strategic use of repetition is a very good thing. Lewontin’s famous comment about not “allowing a Divine foot in the door,” really does summarize the position of most Darwinist bureaucrats. As far as I am concerned, we can’t say it often enough because new lurkers appear here daily and need to be informed of this fact in a timely way. The materialist/Darwinist mind is not open to evidence except as something to be used and, if necessary, twisted. Note the number of times that atheists have told me that reason’s rules do not apply to the “real world”— that causality is not a “rule”—that the rational mind does not correspond to the rational universe—that the law of non-contradiction applies only to the investigator and not to the object of investigation. For them, evidence can be interpreted any way at all if that interpretation will advance their materialist agenda. Atheists do not sit at the feet of nature and ask to be instructed; they seek to instruct nature about how it must be.

    Interestingly, Pareto, the great economist, discovered long ago that 80% of most problems are generated by about 20% of the causes. As I have pointed out many times on this site, your position, atheism, is not a reasonable position, which means that you must abandon reason to maintain it. It has become a part of your strategy for everyday living that you don’t want to arrive at the destination that a reasonable interpretation of the evidence will take you. So, you try to destroy the vehicle of reason that threatens to take you on that journey. I don’t mind repeating that point because it is part of those vital few causes [the 20%] that inform most of the discussions [about 80% of them] on this web site.

    Heaping more and more evidence on closed minds is a strategy that fails more often than it succeeds. It is far better, in my judgment, to call attention to the closed mind. Since that fact remains hidden from most observers, I don’t scruple even for a moment about raising the issue and repeating it often. In keeping with that point, it is not uncivil to tell commentators that they are not reasoning properly, especially when that flaw endangers them and the society of which they are a part. On the contrary, such a disclosure is a corporal work of mercy.

  74. PS: I am not retreating into emptyu charges of strawmannism T, as you can see above I substantiate a cleqr case in point. And, as for it taking a book-length rebuttal to respond to what I have had to say, why not check out the short book-length statement that is always linked to every post I make here? For, i believe that is the basic length required to address the range of issues responsibly — i.e. every comment here is in effect a footnote to the always linked briefing note. [If you had a cogent, coherent statement of the case for evolutionary materialism that had solid empirical evidence on the key issues, you would not have a Design Theory Movement to deal with. FYI, I originally tried out ID ideas as a for argument position, but then saw that they made a lot of sense, of things that did not make sense otherwise. And, as one familiar with 741's 4000 B's and 7400's, you will know the routine source of the complex functional organisation of these entities, and of their proper function in circuits; and what it takes to organise those circuits, starting with the rail power supplies. FF/N: I used to read 6800 and 6809 hexcode, too. I still think the latter was the best 8 bitter out there. Or counting Intel 8088 style, with minor exaggeration, 16/8!]

  75. Stephen

    Thanks.

    As you know, for months I have contributed zero words at UD, even when I passed by and followed threads.

    This past week, I decided to step back in for a few days, to see if there had been progress on the other side.

    Plainly, not.

    And when ET decided to slander and strawmannise me through begging the priority question of origin of information [which even Darwin knew comes before selection of variants], I felt it necessary to address his claims step by step.

    Of ocurse, making a methodical answer is often dismissed these days, as a sneer or a quip will do if reality boils down to perceptions and persuasion.

    But, that radical relativist folly is just what Barry exposed in the original post.

    So, evolutionary materialism advocates: can you address the von Neumann replicator on the merits? The need to get to funcitonally specific complex information before biological organisms can work, ab initio or in novel body plans? And more? Can you show that lucky noise is a credible source of such functional info, and on what empirical evidence? [It is not in serious dispute that intelligence can create codes, languages, algorithms, programs, data structures etc.]

    GEM of TKI

  76. @borne #67

    Duh, let’s see; go to the typical atheist forum and try to find valid answers for what kairos wrote and what do you find? Tons of strawman arguments, tons of mere denial tons of answers that actually prove his points of course and tons of blatant ignorant, stupidity -a la Dawkins, Harris et al..

    Has kairosfocus ever presented his challenges on a materialist/atheist forum? I would be interested in reading the responses he got because here on UD, I haven’t seen any compelling answers to his challenges. Kairosfocus, have you had this discussion elsewhere?

    Borne, what exactly are you referring to with: “The only way to even attempt to refute the points against atheism’s obligatory relativism is by assuming that atheism is false, that relativism is false. But they try anyway while never even realizing their self contradictions!!”

    I too find materialism/atheism to be internally incoherent. I am interested in hearing what *your* reasons are and why. Do you mind elaborating a little bit more on that if you have the time?

    @seversky
    If I am not mistaken, Hoyle’s rejection of darwinism is based on mathematics, of which he was very knowledgeable of. Unless you want to claim that mathematics is irrelevant in biology then Borne’s point is not undermined by your response. Not in the least.

  77. kairosfocus @73,
    I’ll raise a friendly disagreement, as the best 8-bit was the Zilog Z80!

    I would like to engage more of your points but how can I justify writing something you won’t see.

    My comment @64 still hasn’t appeared.

    When it does, it will magically appear back there at position 64, and to be fair, I don’t think anybody is going to go back to look for it since you won’t see any indication in recent comments that it’s there.

  78. Above:

    We have Darwinists aplenty here at UD, and the above has been presented in one form or another for years.

    Though the further details on the von Neumann architecture and the remarks on Plato are relatively new, as were remarks on nodes and arcs diagrams as a way to get from complex spatial organisation to bit depth a few weeks ago.

    Indeed some of it is now in our UD weak argument correctives and glossary.

    I have not gone to the usual atheist web sites because of their major civility and rationality problems.

    So, I have chosen where there would be a reasonable and sufficiently regulated exchange not to become the sort of personally abusive mess I describe here.

    If Darwinists had a serious answer, they could post it here or simply link to it here. (And when I have seen links to places like True Origin and Antievo [which often tracks and tries to rebut what happens here], the precise pattern of fallacies I have come to call the trifecta has been characteristic.

    What usually happens here, under threat of expulsion or moderation for persistent nastiness and irrelevance, is a milder form.

    For years, by and large, they have not.

    No prizes for guessing why.

    Plato put his finger on it 2,300 years ago.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  79. PS: Sir Fred Hoyle, one of my personal scientific heroes, holds a Nobel Equivalent Prize, for his work in Astrophysics, much of which elucidated fundamental issues in universe [he started the ball rolling on finetuning, and the term "big bang" is his, but of course he was trying to dismiss it, as he championed the now dead Steady State model], galaxy, star and planetary system formation [e.g. his magnetic braking ideas on how we get the apparently conflicting angular momentum and mass distributions in our solar system]. In the course of that he had to address what is now spoken of as exobiology. Much of the above is live donkeys kicking a safely dead lion.

  80. kairosfocus @ 76

    PS: Sir Fred Hoyle, one of my personal scientific heroes, holds a Nobel Equivalent Prize, for his work in Astrophysics…

    No one is denying Hoyle’s stature or accomplishments in astronomy but to cite his opinions as authoritative in the field of biology is to commit the fallacy of appealing to inappropriate authority.

  81. Seversky:

    Strawman, again.

    The aspects of exobiology that Sir Fred addressed in his writings at the turn of the 1980′s were well within the ambit of a highly knowledgeable phsyicist.

    Remember, once we look at origin of life issues and related concerns, we are looking at chemistry, polymer dynamics, thermodynamics, cybernetics, and information issues. Physicists and related scientists are routinely qualified to speak to any and all of these, most biologists are not.

    That is the can of worms that was opened once DNA was identified as a complex, polymer based, digital informational macromolecule.

    In short, biology and relatged biochemistry opened up a doorway to other provinces of science, and the dominant theories of biology have not fared well in light of the cluster of insights form such fields. For a useful survey by Thaxton et al at about the same time, cf here. This book is the technical start point for the modern Design theory. Hoyle’s work was somewhat tangential but he raises interesting points and issues.

    To get a flavour for what he had to say, let us excerpt his 1982 Omni Lecture at the Royal Institution, London, entitled “Evolution from Space,”Omni Lecture at the Royal Institution, London, entitled “Evolution from Space,” and later printed as a book:

    Once we see that life is cosmic it is sensible to suppose that intelligence is cosmic. Now problems of order, such as the sequences of amino acids in the chains which constitute the enzymes and other proteins, are precisely the problems that become easy once a directed intelligence enters the picture, as was recognised long ago by James Clerk Maxwell in his invention of what is known in physics as the Maxwell demon. The difference between an intelligent ordering, whether of words, fruit boxes, amino acids, or the Rubik cube, and merely random shufflings can be fantastically large, even as large as a number that would fill the whole volume of Shakespeare’s plays with its zeros. So if one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design [my emphasis]. No other possibility I have been able to think of in pondering this issue over quite a long time seems to me to have anything like as high a possibility of being true.” (27-28)

    See my point?

    Until you can answer cogently to the information, statistical thermodynamics and related issues, you cannot claim the blanket authority of evolutionary materialist biologists to dismiss these issues.

    In fact, you comment above begins to come across as a turnabout false accusation fallacy, not just a strawman.

    GEM of TKI

  82. @kairosfocus

    -”I have not gone to the usual atheist web sites because of their major civility and rationality problems”

    That has been my experience as well at some of those sites. The lack of civility is certainly a major problem. A few months ago I was browsing the dawkins.net site and two materialists/atheist were arguing on a darwinist issue that they both agreed on but proposed different explanatory models.

    The viscousness and vitriol with which they were attacking each other was profound. That is the exact same way I have seen non-atheists being treated on that site. It’s just one insult after another. If they can’t be civil among themselves, while holding the same beliefs, how is one to expect them to be civil to others?

    Of course, I have also seen sensible individuals posting there and trying to be civil, but the general impression I got was a rather negative one.

  83. PS: I would of course distinguish complex, functionally specific organisation from order. Like J S Wicken put it in 1979:

    Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems.  Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms [i.e. “simple” force laws acting on objects starting from arbitrary and common- place initial conditions] and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an [originally . . . ] external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’ [“The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. (Emphases and notes added. Nb: “originally” is added to highlight that for self-replicating systems, the blue print can be built-in.)]

  84. Above: yup. Sadly. DaveScot played a very important role in setting up a forum that was reasonable; loo. . . oong story. G

  85. Sir Fred’s rationale for his panspermia:

    “If at our present level of sophistication we were to attempt a new material representation of ourselves, doubtless we would try for a grandiose solution all in one shot, an explicit new creature complete in itself, like the Greek story of Pygmalion, or like novices with a computer who almost invariably get themselves into a tangle by attempting to write a large complex program all in one go. The practised expert on the other hand, builds a large complex computer program from many sub-units, subroutines as they are called. Microorganisms and genetic fragments are the subroutines of biology, existing throughout space in prodigious numbers, riding everywhere on the light pressure of the stars. Because the correct logical procedure is to build upwards from precisely formed subroutines, we on the Earth had to evolve from a seemingly elementary starting point.” (p.34)

  86. 86
    Sooner Emeritus

    above (64):

    I am open to both ID and evolution but I am more interested in seeing where the discussion between the two will go.

    I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of the theory of ID without taking its origins into account. Now I feel somewhat offended, because I did my best to be fair, and see clearly that everything about the theory makes sense only in the context of the “culture war.”

    If we watch as an engineer working with a pad and pencil generates a good solution to an engineering problem, we do not see “intelligence” and we do not see purpose. We certainly do not see immaterial intelligence. We see pencil marks on paper, not information, though we may be informed in various ways by the marks, depending on our various understandings of what the engineer is doing. The information is not “out there,” as a particular communal observation.

    There is not a basis in our communal observation for saying that immaterial intelligence created information. And, left to your own expression of your intuition of what would have allowed you to do what we saw the engineer do, you would never say it that way. Chances are good that you say that that the engineer used her intelligence to solve the problem. (This intuition, like many others, is worthless in scientific investigation.)

    The fancy claim of what “we” saw is presented to you by people who are trying to salvage the notion that science can address creation by immaterial entities. Their argument hinges on getting you to accept that their elaboration on your intuition is what “really” goes on when you solve a problem, and that our communal observation is equivalent to your “properly understood” intuition. Everyone who watched the engineer should “just know” that they observed going on with someone else what you’re now convinced goes on inside you. But to force a communal observation to comport with an elaborate intuition is a mighty strange kind of science — especially when members of the community are not allowed to object that a spirit is being planted in the engineer.

    I don’t claim infallibility. But I do claim honesty. No rhetorical games here.

  87. 87
    Sooner Emeritus

    above (64):

    We often forget that the methods of science are human constructs and like to assume that they are in some sense infallibly correlated to reality.

    Going further (from the SEP article I linked to previously):

    Hanson, Popper, Kuhn, and Feyerabend agreed that all observation is theory-laden, so that there is no theory-neutral observational language. [emphasis original]

    Those guys are all over the place, philosophically, so that’s quite a remarkable statement. IDers are constantly calling on us just to look at the evidence, and the point is that there is no way to look without bias. Even their beloved Popper says so.

    Seversky above is a good case in point, who appears to conflate methodological and ontological materialism and consequently rewards the latter (which is an a priori assumption) with the phenomenal success of the former.

    I agree that successes of science (and technology) under the assumption of materialism are not evidence for ontological materialism. But I thought Seversky might have been saying something a bit more subtle than that with his particular wording. He referred to warrant of the assumption.

  88. —sooner emeritus: “I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of the theory of ID without taking its origins into account. Now I feel somewhat offended, because I did my best to be fair, and see clearly that everything about the theory makes sense only in the context of the “culture war.”

    Yes, it sounds like you were really sweating blood in your heroic attempt to differentiate between the ID movement, which has everything to do with the culture war, and ID science, which has nothing to do with the culture war. That you failed to make that distinction really isn’t very important. What matters most is that you spent a lot of time trying “to make sense of it” and, as we all know, it is if effort that counts, not the final result. As anyone who cares knows, one cannot extract a social movement from “specified complexity” and “irreducible complexity,” but you may be excused for thinking so because you did, after all, give it your all.

  89. @Sooner #83
    I understand your concern regarding human ability and design detection as it pertains to intelligence. I also understand your concern regarding the method(s) of science.

    I don’t want to speak on behalf of everyone, but my understanding is that ID advocates maintain that intelligence can be inferred, much like other inferences made in science, by introducing a specific design hypothesis. And I think that’s what they are in fact proposing with the concept of FCSI. I also understand the nature of the problem revolving ID and the complexities involved but at the same time, as it has been said here by Kairosfocus and many others, there are significant problems with the materialistic account as well.

    Going back to your engineer example, you can argue, like you have, that it’s not easy to detect intelligence, nevertheless, the problem solving undertaken by the engineer was done intelligently by an intelligent agent. The truth is the truth. To say that it was not the case would be to hold an obscurantist attitude. So like I said earlier we (all sides) need to address the question of whether whether science represents merely an instrumentalist method (or variety of methods) or whether it is a search for truth. I think that’s where the issue lies and so long as that remains unanswered there will always be a problem.

    #84

    -“Those guys are all over the place, philosophically, so that’s quite a remarkable statement. IDers are constantly calling on us just to look at the evidence, and the point is that there is no way to look without bias. Even their beloved Popper says so”

    I agree. But that is the case with all sides is it not? IDers are biased, materialists are biased… What’s new? Anyways, I seem to agree with some of the things you are saying and appreciate the honesty.

    I’m not sure if you chose not to answer or forgot, but I asked you what your position was on the matter. From reading some of your posts I could not decipher if you’re supporting a materialistic or a Theistic perspective on evolution. Do you mind clearing that up? I’m just curious. You don’t have to answer if you don’t feel comfortable.

  90. 90

    Sooner at 83,

    The semiotic arrangement of cytosine-thymine-adenine in DNA results in the addition of Leucine during protein synthesis.

    That s almost the exact same thing as a “culture war”. Its no wonder you find it hard to seperate the two.

  91. 91
    Sooner Emeritus

    above:

    Going back to your engineer example, you can argue, like you have, that it’s not easy to detect intelligence, nevertheless, the problem solving undertaken by the engineer was done intelligently by an intelligent agent. The truth is the truth. To say that it was not the case would be to hold an obscurantist attitude.

    I told you that casual talk about intelligence would not hold up in rigorous explanation, and you’ve dived right into circularity: “was done intelligently by an intelligent agent.” Now how do you know the engineer was intelligent? It behaved intelligently. And how do you explain the intelligent behavior? The engineer was intelligent.

    If you cut open an animal, you will no more find its intelligence than you will its love. Intelligence and love are both well known examples of hypothetical constructs. They are abstractions that are sometimes useful, with careful definition, in scientific definition. Now, you may want to stamp your foot and declare, “Oh, yes, intelligence is real. You’re just an obscurantist. All my friends say so, too.” Then I’m going to start taking you down a list of hypothetical constructs, starting with love, and ask you why they are not real.

    The reason it’s so easy to get people to buy into the notion that intelligence is immaterial is that hypothetical constructs are abstractions.

    You’ve neglected to speak at all to the notion that intelligence creates information for a purpose. That is crucial to ID, as Dembski and Marks acknowledge.

    =======
    There’s no neat, little category for my belief system.

  92. I agree with Aleta @85. I generally enjoy following the discussions here, but I always give up when kairofocus and BA77 and others resort to those long winded link-laden posts. I’ve tried reading some of them but they don’t hold the attention. A site like this needs to be thought of as a discussion, not a series of connected lectures. It just gets boring otherwise. That’s my opinion as an interested follower.

  93. 93

    above,

    You asked me on a previous thread about the willful capacity for denial by the opponents of ID.

    You now have your answer.

    Intelligence and information are used to deny that intelligence and information are real/useful/relevant/causal/etc (insert whatever context is necessary at the moment).

    What more could one ask for?

    - – - – - –

    Well don’t even ask, because there is plenty more:

    Sooner deciphered

    Intuition is worthless in scientific investigation (apparently Kepler, Maxwell, Pasture, Newton, Crick, and Einstein were just flat wrong. None of them needed to conceive of possible answers prior to finding them. Such crutches are quite obviously unnecessary to good science. Wisdom has been spoken).

    Abstractions of reality (ie. perhaps like language written on a paper by an engineer solving a problem) may inform us, but its not information. (Of course, anyone searching for information on this topic needn’t read this written conclusion, it contains no information).

    An engineer solving a problem by working through constraints and generating a solution is not an example of purpose (for the completely obvious reason that we cannot actually see purpose. Purpose, like gravity, and the new car behind door number three do not exist because they are not seen).

    There is no observable basis for saying that intelligence creates information. (This is of course completely obvious as an unassailable fact. Just name one example of information which was created by intelligence).

    How do you know the engineer was intelligent? It behaved intelligently. And how do you explain the intelligent behavior? The engineer was intelligent. (So how do you know the engineer was alive? It moved. And how do you explain the movement? It was alive).

    If you cut open an animal, you will no more find its intelligence than you will its love. Intelligence and love are both well known examples of hypothetical constructs. (Of course, not looking for its intelligence, you will not find its mother either. This leads to a great axiom regarding cadavers in general: what is not found inside exist only as a conditional concept).

    - – - – - – -

    “There’s no neat, little category for my belief system”

    /snort

  94. Onlookers (and Above and SE):

    I will say little on the attempt to commit a well-poisoning genetic fallacy against design theory, save to endorse Stephen’s remarks. Let’s juts add, that the Barbara Forrest narrative is a willful, subject5-switching, red herring and strawman based smearing slander — sadly, par for the evolutionary materialist course.

    Design theory as a scientific movement dates to the turn of the 1980′s, and with precursors to the 1950′s and beyond [e.g. the von Neumann replicator analysis which none of the evolutionary materialist advocates above have been willing to address on the merits, is late 1940's], so it is not an attempt to circumvent US Supreme Court rulings a la 1987. Indeed, the foundational technical work of design theory, TMLO by Thaxton et al, dates to 1984.

    But, there is a matter that needs some clarification.

    Re: SE, 85: If we watch as an engineer working with a pad and pencil generates a good solution to an engineering problem, we do not see “intelligence” and we do not see purpose. We certainly do not see immaterial intelligence. We see pencil marks on paper, not information, though we may be informed in various ways by the marks, depending on our various understandings of what the engineer is doing. The information is not “out there,” as a particular communal observation.

    There is not a basis in our communal observation for saying that immaterial intelligence created information.

    1 –> As I cited above from J S Wicken, a sketch, let’s say of a circuit design [and associated calculations, e.g. how to bias an amplifier ckt or arrange voltage stabilisation for a power supply!], will exhibit functionally complex and specific organisation, as well as the use of symbols according to certain conventions or rules; i.e. language. (The same would hold for say the process layout diagram for an oil refinery. Which makes a very interesting comparison to the metabolic reaction network for a living cell, which is far more functionally integrated, specific and complex.)

    2 –> That is, it will fit a rather specific “wiring diagram,” and selection of components; using coded symbols according to relevant conventions.

    3 –> And BTW, this immediately demolishes the rhetorical distraction of pointing to squiggles on paper and saying “We see pencil marks on paper, not information.” For, what we see are symbols arranged according to very definite rules, i.e. codes and modulation of carriers, which are in fact information-rich. Thus, we are “informed by” such because we use our active, learning minds to help us understand the relevant language, whether verbal or graphical. (And immediately, we see how information points beyond the concrete to the reality of the symbolic, the abstract and the mental; cutting sharply across and exposing the self referential incoherence of evolutionary materialist reductionism. The evo mat thinker, to try to deny significance tot he mind beyond matter, must appeal to the validity of language and reasoning, which on his terms may only reflect the blind fortuitous outcomes of chance plus mechanical necessity. More later, from Leibniz.)

    4 –> From that engineering sketch, we generate a table of nodes and connexions, which naturally defines the amount of related semantic, functional information in bits. For a surprisingly simple circuit, that quantum of information will soon race well beyond 1,000 bits. That is, well beyond a threshold where the random walk search capacity of the observed universe becomes hopelessly inadequate.

    5 –> So, just as we routinely infer to design from sufficiently long text strings in contextually responsive English are artifacts of intelligence, we easily see that design sketches are just that, i.e. designs. And we do so, not on emotions whipped up in a debate or rhetorical tactics of persuasion or appeals to blind recognition of a body of authorities, but on objective, observable, factual signs of design and principles of inference to best, empirically anchored explanation.

    6 –> Notice, onlookers, how evolutionary materialist, Darwinist advocates repeatedly duck and divert from this specific issue of FSCI as a reliable empirical sign of intelligence and of art.

    7 –> Now, too, we see the characteristic, self-referentially incoherent materialistic reductionism at work: “we do not see purpose. We certainly do not see immaterial intelligence . . .”

    [ . . . ]

  95. 8 –> Do we see time? Energy? Mass? Temperature? Luminous flux? Electric potential difference? Electrons? Or, any other number of highly important physically or instrumentally manifested and credibly very real quantities, factors, forces or entities? Plainly, no.

    9 –> In short, the objection is plainly selectively hyperskeptical. And, self-refuting. For, if purpose’s invisibility is a proof of its non-existence, then the purposeful selection of the symbols SE used to make his post is mere happenstance of lucky noise and blind mechanical force, without any basis in evidence, truth, or rationality.

    10 –> Leibniz put his finger on the problem aptly, nearly 400 years ago, in his well known analogy of the Mill:

    The Monadology, 17. It must be confessed, however, that perception, and that which depends upon it, are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perception, we could conceive of it as increased in size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find anything to explain perception. It is accordingly in the simple substance, and not in the compound nor in a machine that the perception is to be sought. Furthermore, there is nothing besides perceptions and their changes to be found in the simple substance. And it is in these alone that all the internal activities of the simple substance can consist.

    11 –> In short, the attempt to reduce reasoned thought to ever evolving mechanical chains of force and interaction and survival of the fittest for the moment, on whatever accident of circumstances setup the initial conditions, ends up in wheels grinding away, i.e it does not explain the organisation that makes the grinding away of the wheels serve a goal or fulfill a requisite of logical ground and consequent, with grounds being well-warranted facts. Mechanism qua mechanism, is utterly irrelevant to and cannot ground reason, warrant validity and purposeful decision; all of which are requisites of reason.

    12 –> Updating to modern computer, cybernetics and mechatronics, the logic of a program and the correctly organised functionality of a required set of physical circuits in an Arithmetic and Logical Unit are not explained by the voltages in circuits or the orientation of magnetic particles.

    13 –> Indeed, Eng Derek Smith of Wales provides a good cybernetic model, by envisioning a multiple input, multiple output control loop.

    14 –> In the loop we have a two-tier controller: (i) an i/o controller that manages the mechanical interactions, and (ii) a supervisory controller that provides a direction, a creatively imagined path to the goal, and a moment by moment expectation of internal states and perceptions of external circumstances.

    15 –> This, so that efference copy action on sensing actual observation and proprioception of internal states will adapt the actual path to the intended one.

    16 –> That is, we have not just a logic controller but a creative, imaginative, knowledgeable input of the intended path. And, the interaction between the observed and experienced state and the desired one along the path, is INFORMATIONAL AND PERCEPTUAL.

    17 –> That is, we have an architecture that opens up room for BOTH R Daneel Olivaaw the programmed positronic robot and for a mind that needs not be material, so long as it can exert quantum-level influences on the i/o controller.

    18 –> The general testimony of our experience [think of how we try to exert moral suasion one on the other, even atheists such as SE has declared himself to be, IIRC (and Toronto, etc))] is that we are not pre-programmed, but significantly — though not absolutely — free creatures, under moral government.

    19 –> That is, we are men and women capable of true love, not robots programmed to obey somebody’s laws of robotics. With all the responsibility that that entails.

    20 –> And, we have no good reason to infer that wheels grinding against one another in a mill cannot generate such real choice. Similarly, we have no good reason to conclude that chance plus mechanical necessity without intelligent direction can generate functionally specific complex organisation and information, whether programs, or linguistic communication, or diagrams, or fine-tuned universes that set up the conditions for carbon-chemistry life, or the functionally complex oranisation and algorithms and codes involved in such cell based life.

    21 –> But, we have abundant reason to see that intelligence routinely produces such FSCI, and whether an engineer’s design sketch, or the information systrems in the cell, or the fine tuning of the cosmos, we have every reason to infer to intelligence and art.

    22 –> In the latter case, we have very good reason indeed to further infer — on the grounds that what begins has a cause and that something cannot cause itself as a direct result — that the cause of matter was not material.

    23 –> That is, mind — indeed, as Plato put it in The Laws Bk X, Soul — is before matter, and its causal ground; indeed, its Creator.

    _________________

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Tut, tut; that web search was revealing, on what has now moved to the top of the search list for The Laws. Why are you all looking for The Laws as discussed on Wikipedia — what your friendly local anonymous materialist has to say — when you could actually read what one of the greatest minds ever had to say? (Or, are you all trying to find some sort of rebuttal . . . lotsa luck, given the career of Alcibiades.)

  96. PPS: Evidently 07 and Aleta prefer the entertainment of manipulate rhetoric to the relatively ponderous step by step systematic laying out of mere facts and logical inferences on the merits, with linked further substantiation. I simply note in response, that I have not set out to entertain or persuade by distractive rhetorical devices, but to lay out what responsible thinking must engage. (Cf. Barry’s remarks in the original post.)

    PPPS: I seem to have forgotten to link a layout diagram of an oil refinery.

  97. Ah, well. Dyslexia and insomnia are not a good mix this morning.

  98. KF at 53:

    On a further look at your above remarks, it seems the matter is worse: you are plainly lying, at minimum by refusing to check out relevant facts in the interests of truth and fairness.

    There are two main issues embedded in my statement. First, my judgement on the absolute length and relative signal to noise ratio of your posts. Inasmuch as that is a judgement (one that I am apparently not alone in holding), it obviously cannot be a lie.

    So, I can only conclude the charge of lying is related to my statement that you proposed a model for evolution in another thread that failed to include selection.

    In comment 59 in the Fuller vs. Ruse thread you wrote:

    An easy way to try would be to use a zener source and an amplifier to spew noise on a disk at random. See if you ever will get a page with at least 125 bytes of coherent information, about a 20 world paragraph.

    As onlookers can plainly see that paragraph introduces only a source of variation, but not selection. So, whether or not you have referenced selection in one of your other epic tomes is quite irrelevant. The comment referenced was correctly characterized.

    Protestations to the contrary coupled with an attack on my honesty are clearly a red herring soaked in the oil of ad hominem and set ablaze to obscure the discussion in the acrid smoke of burning fish oil.

    So, it would seem that *you*, sir, owe *me* an apology. However, I neither expect nor request such an apology. I am more amused than aggrieved. However, far be it for me to leave on such a note. Let me offer an olive branch to you by forgiving you for your slight on my character.

  99. Clive,

    Why did you delete my last comment?

  100. ET:

    I am sorry, but you have managed to provide a capital example of what Mr Arrington was objecting to in the original post.

    So, the pretence at an olive branch in the midst of further propagation of a strawman fallacy based slander is not good enough. (Especially as those who make adverse comment have a plain duty of care to be accurate and fair.)

    In that duty, you failed and continue to fail.

    First, you know or should know that the model of evolution proposed by CRD et al “worked” in the main by chance variation driving variability which then allows room for natural selection;and that subsequent developments follow that basic pattern. Selection does not explain the ORIGIN of information.

    In short, the [functional] variation comes first, the selection after that, and by consequence of function or failure to function adequately, by contrast with other sub-populations and absolutely. So the proper first question is indeed the one I asked in posing a test of the capacity of chance to generate coded complex information as a general test of the design theory. (And the wider context was testability of design theory. Hence my proposing of a test of the capability of chance to generate FSCI, and of course we need to have FUNCTION before we can credibly select on function, instead of the sort of weaselly tactics of selecting for mere increment in proximity to a target or the like.)

    Now, if we are to have a cogent theory of biological origins, we must answer credibly on the source of coded, algorithmic complex bioinformation; starting with the very first body plan [OOL] and extending to the wide variety of major body plans.

    Which is what I addressed in what you artfully excerpted a misleading piece of above and proceeded to wrench beyond all reasonable recognition, the better to build a slander-soaked strawman and ignite it.

    In short, you are first and foremost guilty of:

    Q-U-O-T-E M-I-N-I-N-G.

    Let us prove that. First, look at the relevant part of the comment 59 from the Fuller vs Ruse thread:

    As an example of testability [of design theory claims] with one reference but many billions of instances, try the test of the origin of web pages on the internet. It is known that communication networks suffer noise and that they can in principle generate any signal pattern. So, why not generate some noise and thereby make a coherent web page with text and images etc, properly formatted in html or whatever?

    An easy way to try would be to use a zener source and an amplifier to spew noise on a disk at random. See if you ever will get a page with at least 125 bytes of coherent information, about a 20 world paragraph.

    This illustrates the real point: it is empirically very well tested indeed, that FSCI is the product of intelligence.

    So much so that under normal circumstances we routinely infer from FSCI to intelligence. (And if you care to check, at 1,000 bits or 125 bytes of info, the number of possible configs exceeds the number of states the observable cosmos can have over its lifespan by something like a factor of 10^150. That’s why we can be highly confident you will not see such a text originating by lucky noise. As this thread shows, intelligent agents routinely generate such.)

    So, when we see codes, programs, data structures and step by step processes in the living cell, we have very good reason to infer that the best explanation is what we know is the routine source of such things. DESIGN.

    Cf here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related

    So, the primary and obvious reference of the excerpt and linked video is to origin of complex FUNCTIONAL information in general [hence the reference to a zener noise source].

    This,in its context relates first to the informational macromolecules of the very first body plan [DNA, Ribosomes, RNA etc], i.e. origin of life.

    As I pointed out yesterday, at this point Darwin introduced a god as designer in public, saving speculations on warm ponds for a letter that would only be published after his death. So, on fair comment he begged the big question.

    And, indeed, if a god was responsible for the first life form, why should not a god be responsible for the rest, i.e. relevant major variation is by design not by chance?

    Thereafter, too, each new body plan will face a similar challenge to first get to the shores of an island of function, in the midst of a beyond astronomically large sea of non functional possible configurations of the informational macromolecules. Again, as I and others have repeatedly highlighted over literally years at UD, until you can credibly reach the shores of an island of function, you cannot then talk about variations among functional forms that allow for differential success of sub populations thence hill climbing to optimal performance at peaks of function.

    By pretending — in spite of an always linked discussion that specifically addresses natural selection here, and a set of UD weak argument correctives that address the wider context of simplistic objections — that the discussion I made does not address the context in which NS arises, and in fact addresses the key question commonly begged in such contexts, you have been sadly, willfully misleading and denigratory.

    Let me excerpt the just linked:

    . . . we should observe in passing that there is also an underlying problem with the commonly encountered natural selection model, in which small variations confer significant cumulative advantages in populations,and cumulate to give the large changes that would constitute body-plan level macroevolution. To see this, let us excerpt a typical definition of natural selection:

    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. Natural selection acts on the phenotype, or the observable characteristics of an organism, such that individuals with favorable phenotypes are more likely to survive and reproduce than those with less favorable phenotypes. The phenotype’s genetic basis . . . will increase in frequency over the following generations. Over time, this process can result in adaptations that specialize organisms for particular ecological niches and may eventually result in the emergence of new species. In other words, natural selection is the mechanism by which evolution may take place in a population of a specific organism. [Wikipedia. Emphases added.]

    From this, we may immediately observe that natural selection is envisioned as a probabilistic culler of competing sub-populations with varying adaptations coming from another source [usually some form of chance-based variation]. That is, it does not cause the actual variation, it is only a term that summarises differences in likelihood of survival and reproduction and possibly resulting cumulative effects on populations across time. So, when innovations in life-forms require the origin of functionally specific, information-rich organised complexity, we are back to some form of chance variation to explain it, and soon run right back into the FSCI-origination barrier.

    In short, a very big question has been begged for the past 150 years.

    And my remarks on it have been sitting there for many, many months or even years; linked in EVERY post I have made.

    ET, you have been insistent in the teeth of correction, and have scooped remarks out of context, in a situation where to begin with, you could easily have cross-checked to see what my frame of thought [and that of many other design thinkers] is.

    Instead, you irresponsibly scooped out of context and made a handy, slanderous denigratory caricature.

    Then, you have ignored step by step correction and have tried to twist around your problem to make it seem to the naively trusting onlooker that it is the undersigned who is at fault. This is willful deception.

    This is sad, but not atypical behaviour of evolutionary materialist advocates.

    What it tells the astute onlooker is that you do not have a credible case on the merits so you try to make one on the red herrings, strawmen and ad hominems.

    Surely, you can do better than that.

    Good day, sir.

    GEM of TKI

  101. kairosfocus @99, efren ts

    An easy way to try would be to use a zener source and an amplifier to spew noise on a disk at random. See if you ever will get a page with at least 125 bytes of coherent information, about a 20 world paragraph.

    Where is your step-wise mutation and selection process?

    You have your random generator, but nothing else.

    You are misrepresenting evolution.

    It is you who have built a strawman, not efren ts.

  102. PS: Onlookers, in my always linked, I address the OOL here and the origin of body plan level biodiversity here. Note here on the sharpish exchange between Shapiro and Orgel on getting to a first functioning life form.

  103. KF:

    Once again, you have avoided the issue on the table. I stated that your comment 59 on the Fuller-Ruse failed to mention selection within the model of natural evolution. In response, you level the charge of quotemining. However, a fuller reading of the comment, which you provide, does not resolve the issue in your favor. Indeed, I summarize your comment as follows: Set up a source of random input (zener/amp) and write to a disk. You won’t get a coherent webpage, therefore only intelligence can do it.

    Again, your comparison is intelligence to a system consisting solely of a random input without selection (or reproduction for that matter). There is nothing in the fuller comment that discusses applying a selection mechanism to your zener-amp system. So, in short, your accusation of quotemining is, at best, incorrect.
    But, I again forgive you for leveling such scurrilous charges against me.

    As for the rest of your comment, it is irrelevant to the discussion of comment 59 on the Fuller-Ruse thread, so I will give it all the attention it deserves in light of the issue at hand. Which is none.

  104. re: sooner #86 culture war:

    Awake and Alive” – Skillet
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw20o0gOorI

  105. ET:

    Above I posted the full comment and showed just how you quote-mined, took out of context and inserted a typical darwinist talking point; twisting into a strawman.

    You now want to change subject to personalities, instead of accepting a correction that you need.

    I note to you again: until one has complex information-rich function at origin of life, thus FSCI, one cannot have life and reproduction and selection, artificial or natural. No function, no life; and on evidence, such function requires not 1,000 bits but in excess of 100,000 bits of information.

    Similarly, yesterday, I showed in details that you refuse to examine, how until one has a functional new body plan, credibly requiring 10′s to 100′s of millions of bits of novel FSCI [starting with the Cambrian fossil revolution], one cannot select for superior performance among competing populations.

    What is being exposed here is the implicit assumption of the Darwinian tree of life: initial function is easy to get to, and tee is a continuous continent of function that joins initial life to the multi-branched forms we see in the fossil record and today.

    But in fact the fossil record, with over quarter million species and millions of samples, overwhelmingly shows gaps not smoothly varying transformations. Similarly, molecular reconstructions show contradictory “trees” and evidence of libraries and reuse of structures, e.g the platypus has molecules that come from all over the tree of life, i.e. it is a mosaic animal at molecular not just gross anatomical levels.

    The empirical data, in short, points very plainly to islands of function in a sea of non-function.

    Which is precisely what we should expect of codes, programs and data structures: one cannot credibly get form one program to another by random shifts of bits. Such an approach, starting from an initial program will corrupt the information, and starting from random noise will never get to a first island of function. Not with 1,000 bits or 125 bytes, and not on the gamut of the observed universe.

    So, the point is that natural selection presupposes existing functions to select from, and selection is by differential performance. But, that presupposes having function in the first place. And that function plainly rests on functionally specific complex information.

    Which, you plainly cannot accept as it would make the whole Darwinian house of cards collapse spectacularly. (But you see he was 100 years too early to know the degree to which life in the cell rests on a digital information system. Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related )

    Onlookers can therefore see well enough for themselves how you have quote-mined, distorted and strawmannised as you have sought to change the subject, imagining in the frst instance that you caught out one of those ignorant, stupid, insane or wicled anti darwinists. (The subtext of contempt and overconfidence is, sadly, all too plain.)

    But instead, you only succeeded in showing that you have not paid careful attention to the issues, and that you resorted to strawman tactics by playing at quote-mining.

    SMACK!

    Your Darwinian alternate reality has run into the real reality: life in the cell is based on a complex digital, algorithmic information system.

    I think I can fairly leave it at that.

    Good day, sir.

    GEM of TKI

  106. I wonder,,, are these freshman are senior evolutionary biology students:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYis-I_YdOY

    ————

    Creed – One Last Breath HQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6aCpKOVyWM

  107. KF:

    Above I posted the full comment and showed just how you quote-mined, took out of context and inserted a typical darwinist talking point; twisting into a strawman.

    I have pointed out that your analog for natural evolution only contained reference to the source of random input. Reproducing the comment in full doesn’t change that conclusion. So your charge of quotemining is specious.

    But, I am a generous sort. All you just need to do one simple thing. Point out where your comment 59 in the Fuller-Ruse thread (also reproduced in it’s entirety above)where you discuss selection and reproduction relative to your zener/amp system. Until you do that, all the rest of your comments are affecting high dudgeon as haute couture.

  108. Toronto:

    I will grant that the Zilog Z80 was an improvement on the 8080 and its predecessor the 8008. Relative to the 6800 or 6809 [remember, a cut-down DEC PDP-11], that is a very different question. And of course the 6502 was a real race horse too.

    I looked at no 64, and see where you complain about being in mod. I am not sure why, but am willing to be patient.

    On the matter in the main for the thread, I am of the rather firm opinion that Aristotle got it right 2300 years ago:

    That the most certain of all beliefs is that opposite statements are not both true at the same time, and what follows for those who maintain that they are true, and why these thinkers maintain this, may be regarded as adequately stated. And since the contradiction of a statement cannot be true at the same time of the same thing, it is obvious that contraries cannot apply at the same time to the same thing . . . .

    Nor indeed can there be any intermediate between contrary statements, but of one thing we must either assert or deny one thing, whatever it may be. This will be plain if we first define truth and falsehood. To say that what is is not, or that what is not is, is false; but to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true; and therefore also he who says that a thing is or is not will say either what is true or what is false. But neither what is nor what is not is said not to be or to be. Further, an intermediate between contraries will be intermediate either as grey is between black and white, or as “neither man nor horse” is between man and horse. [Metaphysics, 1011b]

    On the general matter, discounting the strawmannising I have been subjected to above, you will see that I have laid out the basic issue of origin of functionally specific complex information in 70 – 71. (Bet you didn’t know about Darwin’s lamarckism. You may have known about his inference to a god at the close of origin. but I’ll bet you have never had to answer to the issue that once such a god is in the picture, then you cannot simply confine him to one convenient spot. So, if the evidence points to discrete origins of body plans, you have a candidate explanation that, since you admit it for the first body plan uncle Charlie, you cannot dispense with so easily thereafter.)

    Going farther, analogue info processing is info processing. (And of course anyone who claims to be doing digital info processing but not analogue, is in a state of mortal sin: we are working with analogue components . . . which is where 90% of the hardware headaches come from. I still do not know why a certain power supply leg to a certain chip in one of my ckts required ~ 300pF silvered mica caps to clean up the power supply and prevent PS glitch-triggered switching. Ordinary ceramic caps would not do. Silver and mica or nothing. And since it was a lab environment, it got silver and mica, never mind the cost. Cheaper than the waste of time to work around.)

    GEM of TKI

  109. ET:

    You are now carrying on like a stuck record, sadly.

    I have pointed out to you that the origin of information that is functionally specific and complex is the causally prior issue, and that unless you have function, you cannot get to selection (whether artificial or natural); first for initial life in the cell, then later for body plans.

    Credibly the info required in both cases greatly exceeds 125 bytes, or 1,000 bits: 100 k+ bits, and 10s of millions of bits or more. Cf 70 – 71 for specifics, above.

    Or, in terms of Darwin’s tree of life and descendants to today: we have no credible root for the tree — no means to get the digital info system that characterises cell based life, apart form the known source of such FSCI: intelligence.

    And, the trunk and branches are being done on a connect the dots basis, with mutual contradictions between the traditional fossil and comparative anatomy based tree and the various molecular trees. In short, the fossil and current world evidence is that life comes in discrete islands of function, with strongly conserved molecular basis.

    So, the problem with headlining natural selection is that it begs the prior question I pointed out as a key point: origin of complex, code based, functionally specific information in cell based life. And, my main point was and is what you are trying very hard not to address: the only known, routinely observed source of such FSCI is intelligence, and when we look at the other main source of contingency, chance, a random walk search will be overwhelmed by the number of possible configs that are non-functional. In short the problem is to get to shores of function in the config space.

    So, to try to jump all over me for not specifically mentioning NS in a context where NS is by implication a secondary quesiton once you hav eto first get to initial life function and then to the increments in bio-information to have novel body plans, is a strawman tactic.

    Worse, it is in the context where, one or two clicks away you could easily have sen my specific discussion of the point.

    Multiplying that, when I elaborated in 70 – 71 above, you have made every excuse to duck the duty to be fair or to address issues on the merits.

    All of this speaks very strongly to what Mr Arrington highlighted above.

    GEM of TKI

  110. KF:

    So, to try to jump all over me for not specifically mentioning NS in a context where NS is by implication a secondary quesiton once you hav eto first get to initial life function and then to the increments in bio-information to have novel body plans, is a strawman tactic.

    While I applaud your attempt at brevity, you should nonetheless strive for an argument that is self-contained. I will accept this as your acknowledgement that the comment in question was incomplete and could be misleading with someone not initimately familiar with your expensive body of prose.

    you have made every excuse to duck the duty to be fair or to address issues on the merits.

    I have forgiven you twice for libelous statements made against me. I am not sure how much more fair I am required to be. As far as the other issues you wish to turn to, I really don’t have the time, like others, to tax the gourd which sits upon my shoulders, mulling over (apparently) every word you have ever written.

  111. ET

    It is absolutely — and, sadly — plain that you have no intention to address the primary matters on the merits.

    In particular, onlookers can see that you have no intention to address the plain fact that until functional information of great specificity and complexity is created — coded, algorithmic information — selection of relatively good performers through that relative success is moot.

    And, this applies with great force to the context I directly addressed, OOL, with direct extensions to the origin of body plans. As the now notoriously systematic gaps and contradictions surrounding the Darwinian style tree of life demonstrate.

    In short you — and many darwinists before you all the way back to Darwin himself — have distractively majored on a point that begs the primary question, because you have no good answer to the point that the only credible, empirically observed source of functional, coded digital information, as is required for the sort of function we may see in this video is intelligence.

    However, by now it is equally plain to the onlooker that when you resorts to distractors, caricatures and personalities, it is because you plainly have little confidence in your case on the merits.

    For good reason, as I have laid out above.

    So, I will note on these points on the merits, and ignore the further personalities and turnabout false accusations.

    After all the main audience is not you, but the onlookers, the reported 10 – 15,000 per day.

    I am quite sure they can easily see who has addressed the merits, and who has ducked and begged first questions, using an out of context, quote-mined excerpt to make a strawman.

    Good day, sir.

    GEM of TKI

  112. 112

    pelagius,

    Why did you delete my last comment?

    It was rude.

  113. Not at all — and certainly not by the standards you apply to ID supporters on this site.

  114. kairosfocus @ 81

    The aspects of exobiology that Sir Fred addressed in his writings at the turn of the 1980’s were well within the ambit of a highly knowledgeable phsyicist.

    Exobiology may be “with the ambit” of an astronomer in the sense that it is a related field in which he or she is interested. But being interested in exobiology does not make an astronomer an exobiologist.

    I remember that in the 1980′s – although not just then – there was concern that the explosive growth in the amount of data being gathered by science meant that researchers were having difficulty keeping up with developments in their own fields, let alone what was happening in neighboring fields.

    Remember, once we look at origin of life issues and related concerns, we are looking at chemistry, polymer dynamics, thermodynamics, cybernetics, and information issues. Physicists and related scientists are routinely qualified to speak to any and all of these, most biologists are not.

    Chemistry, polymer dynamics, cybernetics and information theory are all complex fields in their own right. Hoyle was a great scientist but to expect someone who is a master in his own field to equal the knowledge of masters in a number of other fields is asking too much of even the greatest genius.

    In short, biology and relatged biochemistry opened up a doorway to other provinces of science, and the dominant theories of biology have not fared well in light of the cluster of insights form such fields.

    You, along with others here, have perpetuated the calumny that evolutionary biology is devoid of ancillary knowledge or skills. That is simply wrong. Within that field there are those with skills in mathematics, computation and information theory, for example, that are fully the equal of anyone posting to this blog. Of course, you will never be confronted with any challenge to your own knowledge or beliefs while sheltering behind the heavy moderation shielding of this blog.

    No other possibility I have been able to think of in pondering this issue over quite a long time seems to me to have anything like as high a possibility of being true.”

    In other words, here we have the great astronomer resorting to the standard argument from incredulity.

    Until you can answer cogently to the information, statistical thermodynamics and related issues, you cannot claim the blanket authority of evolutionary materialist biologists to dismiss these issues.

    These issues have been dealt with but apparently you prefer to pretend those arguments were never advanced.

  115. KF

    It is absolutely — and, sadly — plain that you have no intention to address the primary matters on the merits.

    Well, I will say this for you: you do have an uncanny knack for grasping the obvious.

    I do not have the good fortune of having found employment as a professional blog commenter. So, as I have said, I have neither the time nor inclination to wade through volumes of your turgid prose in hopes of finding the proverbial pony.

    In short you — and many darwinists before you all the way back to Darwin himself — have distractively majored on a point that begs the primary question, because you have no good answer to the point that the only credible, empirically observed source of functional, coded digital information, as is required for the sort of function we may see in this video is intelligence.

    You know, you really should go forth from the confines here into the broader world. There are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of scientists working away discovering more and more about the life sciences, blissfully deluded by their own productivity to the empty shell of an choice they have made. Only you, sir, can save their souls!

    After all the main audience is not you, but the onlookers, the reported 10 – 15,000 per day.

    Indeed, not only am I aware of that, I am counting on it.

  116. 116

    “You know, you really should go forth from the confines here into the broader world. There are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of scientists working away discovering more and more about the life sciences, blissfully deluded by their own productivity”

    Interesting. Very interesting.

    Have any of them produced even a conceptual idea of how chemical compounds formed an abstraction of themselves, and then instatiated that into a material medium?

    The only reason I ask, is well, for two reasons: 1) becuase they have artificially limited themselves to the assumption that chemicals can do it, and 2) because that is what is necessary to explain how life as we see it came to be as we see it.

  117. Onlookers:

    It is rather clear that ET is acting in the role of a distractive troll, having injected a matter form another thread here, and then proceeded to –now explicitly (with personalities) — refuse to address mattrers on the merits, instead seeking to play the crocodile lurking in a lab coat that tres to drag the unwary down into the secular humanist evolutionary materialist fever swamp of distraction, distortion and denigration, trying to turn serious discussion into polarising quarrels.

    Upright, very appropriately, has called him out on the merits, yet again.

    So, let us draw the bottomline:

    [a] the evo mat advocates plainly have no answer on the merits as to how chemicals in a Darwinian swamp could write themselves into 100+ k bits of codes, algorithms, data structures, programs and implementing machinery, i.e. the living cell. Worse,

    [b] they have no cogent explanation of how such a living cell could elaborate itself in a window of 5 – 10 MY into dozens of major body plans that each require increments of 10 – 100+ mns of bits of bio-functional information. But,

    [c] They wish to put on the lab coats of science and rtell us that the only known, empirically well-warranted source of codes, algorithms, data structures and programs plus implementing machinery — in the name of “Science” — MUST not ever be allowed in the door. Lest

    [d] the dreaded Divine Foot open the door to what they so plainly fear to the point of routinely resorting to distractive, distorting, deceptive and disrespectful rhetoric to subvert.

    But, all in pursuit of the evo mat agenda that Plato warned us against the amorality of 2300 years ago, for good reason [the sad example of Alcibiades and co being fresh in his mind]. So, let us give a later genius, the greatest mind but one of the C1, a voice in rebuke to such:

    Rom 1:18For (A)the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who (B)suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

    19because (C)that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

    20For (D)since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, (E)being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse . . . .

    28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, (P)God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

    29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are (Q)gossips,

    30slanderers, (R)haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, (S)disobedient to parents,

    31without understanding, untrustworthy, (T)unloving, unmerciful . . . [NASB]

    Grimly, sadly familiar.

    GEM of TKI

  118. Now, Seversky:

    Re: Chemistry, polymer dynamics, cybernetics and information theory are all complex fields in their own right. Hoyle was a great scientist but to expect someone who is a master in his own field to equal the knowledge of masters in a number of other fields is asking too much of even the greatest genius. . . . You, along with others here, have perpetuated the calumny that evolutionary biology is devoid of ancillary knowledge or skills. That is simply wrong. Within that field there are those with skills in mathematics, computation and information theory, for example, that are fully the equal of anyone posting to this blog. Of course, you will never be confronted with any challenge to your own knowledge or beliefs while sheltering behind the heavy moderation shielding of this blog.

    Of course, first of all, the disgraceful episode of ET’s misbehaviour in recent days shows the reason why fairly strict moderation is necessary here. For, he has repeatedly ducked discussion on the merits, and has skirted the limits of the discipline imposed in this blog to restrain the full force of the typical secularist trollish agenda or distraction, distortion and denigration. The selfsame agenda and associated Alinskyite tactics that are now wreaking such havoc in the body politic of our civilisation at large.

    Next, it is plain that you do not see the ironic contradiction in your remarks just above. While you want to trash the reputation of a Nobel Prize winner who is addressing the issues on the merits that come up as he focussed on requisites for the emergence of life in the cosmos — he could not have known enough to bridge fields — you then proceed to declare how the biologists of today can bridge the fields ever so well.

    But in fact the problem was never at core the mere technical issues. Absent indoctrination and ide3ologisation of the disciplines, it would at once have been plain as we moved across the 1950s and 60;s, that the origin of life stories being told in biology and related fields did not add up informationally and thermodynamically, nor cybernetically. For, the actual chemistry of polymerisation, the statistical and general thermodynamics tied to such reactions, and the issues of searching large configuration spaces are not particularly difficult topics for one who has a reasonable undergraduate exposure to the topics in physics, chemistry and linked fields. Absent one thing: indoctrination, resulting ideologisation of a field and its blinding effects.

    So, it is no surprise to see that across the 70′s into the 80′s, the questions were asked, and the answers were forthcoming, as TMLO so aptly sums up. But, as we moved across the 1980′s into the 90s the magisterium closed ranks, and explicitly imposed the a priori agenda of materialism as Lewontin described so clearly in 1997:

    Sagan’s argument is straightforward. We exist as material beings in a material world, all of whose phenomena are the consequences of physical relations among material entities. The vast majority of us do not have control of the intellectual apparatus needed to explain manifest reality in material terms, so in place of scientific (i.e., correct material) explanations, we substitute demons . . . .

    To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality . . . . 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.

    That “few” of course included Sir Fred Hoyle; who all along his career had the native Cockney independence of thought that so often mad him a colourful figure, willing to buck the system and march to the beat of his own drummer, guided by his scientific integrity and independence of mind.

    Getting back to the scientific issues, what happened is that across the 1950′s – 60′s, it became clear that biochemistry and molecular biology had established that the cell in core processes operates as a digital information system. One that uses key information rich polymers assembled using other such polymers [esp. enzymes, RNA, DNA etc] to carry out this pattern of step by step algorithmic processes.

    (Notice, onlookers, how none of the evo mat advocates above have been able to cogently address the import of the video I keep linking, as a basic demonstration of this key point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related )

    Now, for excellent reasons repeatedly described above — and just as repeatedly distracted from by evo mat advocates [who while loudly complaining about censorship and the like, and while making sweeping dismissive remarks, have never yet produced a cogent response on the merits] — we routinely observet hat such things are made by intelligent agents. And, we have just as good reason to note that we have never seen such an entity produced by chance and blind mechanical forces. Similarly, we have excellent reason to see that once we are dealing with functionally specific complex information, the search capacity of the cosmos would be fruitlessly exhausted without being able to scan an appreciable fraction of the possible configurations.

    So, we know that we have an argument by inference to best empirically and mathematically backed explanation — NOT an appeal to personal incredulity. And, we see that the counters are as a rule distractive from rather than addressing of the merits.

    Furthermore, once we move up tothe level of novel body plans and major organs such as wings or eyes, etc, we see that further large increments in bio-functional information are required to get a body plan or an organ that is functional, before we can even begin to talk about differential reproductive success of sub populations.

    No wonder the actual record of the fossils and modern observation is that life forms overwhelmingly come in discrete islands of functional forms, with very very few credible bridging forms; if any. This — never mind the so often repeated, headlined stories of missing links now found — utterly contrasts with the smoothly varying, branching tree that would be required to demonstrate Darwinian evolution as an empirically credible account of the origin of life. (So much is this the case that at about the same time theories of punctuated equilibria were brought forth to try to explain the persistent gaps and stasis in the fossil record.)

    That should tell us the plain balance on the merits, once the artificial censoring imposition of a priori evolutionary materialism is removed.

    So, Sev, can you kindly tell us, preferably in a points form summary or excerpt [with onward links as necessary], just what the cogent rebuttal is that you claim “[t]hese issues have been dealt with”?

    For — setting aside a priori imposition of materialism, just so illustrative stories and ducking and dodging on the subject of the credible origin of bio-information and information systems by chance plus necessity — we have not found a serious, cogent, empirically backed naturalistic, evolutionary materialistic account of origins of either life or body plan level biodiversity of life.

    We would welcome a summary of such a cogent account that does not beg the questions at stake and provides material empirical warrant.

    So, let’s hear it . . . and BTW, on the OOL side, I think there is an unclaimed US$ 100,000 prize awaiting your account.

    GEM of TKI

  119. Toronto:

    I see above what seems to have been a moderated comment on the remarks that ET quote mined and wrenched into a strawman distortion.

    That is a regrettable impact of moderation, but the exchange with ET shows what unmoderated exchanges would all too soon deteriorate into. (Strong moderation at UD seems to have come out of having to deal with trollishness.)

    I will pause to point out that I focussed in my original comment on the issue that it is a good empirical test point [with potential falsification] of design theory to show that one can, say using a zener noise generator — now a standard approach used by the lottery industry and others who need a credible real random number source [often by using such to seed a Johnson style ring counter with feedback or similar pseudorandom generator, to flatten off the distribution] — generate at least 1,000 bits worth of cogent information.

    In that context, I connected it using words and videos to the origin of cell based life with the relevant digital information system being shown in action. Surely, you are aware that until self-replicating life forms emerge one cannot appeal to natural selection of competing populations?

    And, that as I have several times summarised, von Neumann showed how self replication involves:

    (i) an underlying code to record/store the required information and to guide procedures for using it,

    (ii) a coded blueprint/tape record of such specifications and (explicit or implicit) instructions, together with

    (iii) a tape reader that reads and interprets the coded specifications and associated instructions, and

    (iv) implementing machines (and associated organisation and procedures) to carry out the specified replication (including that of the constructor itself); backed up by

    (v) either:

    (1) a pre-existing reservoir of required parts and energy sources, or

    (2) associated “metabolic” machines carrying out activities that provide required specific materials and forms of energy by using the generic resources in the surrounding environment.

    Until components ii to iv are in place with i and v in the background, we cannot have a viable self-replicating cell based life form. Thus, OOL — the context I EXPLICITLY had primarily in view — cannot properly appeal to natural selection as a part of the process of creating the required information, as without reproduction of organisms and replication of cells, there can be no differential reproductive success of sub populations in environments.

    Similarly, given the factors I discussed in 70 – 71 above, novel body plans cannot compete reproductively until they are there in functional form.

    With the Cambrian fossil revolution and the usual timeline of 5 – 10 MY in mind, could you let us know on what empirically backed basis, you can show that it is credible that:

    1: 10′s – 100′s of millions of bits/bases worth of relevant bio information to form tissues, organs, systems and novel organisms with dozens of different body plans could emerge by accumulation of minor mutational steps, then

    2: dominate ecological niches by competing for survival of slightly diverse populations in ecological environments? Witrhout:

    3: leaving behind a clear and massive fossil record of the gradually transitional populations?

    –> On what grounds would your explanation be superior to the inference that such advanced tech digital information systems are best explained as he artifacts of design, per the common experience on the source of codes, algorithms and physical implementing systems for same?

    –> Do you now see why I have found that ET has consistently played at quite mining and abusive strawman tactics?

    GEM of TKI

  120. Onlookers:
    Lastly for now, let us remind ourselves of just what Sir Fred Hoyle had to say, in his 1982 Omni Lecture at the Royal Institution, London, entitled “Evolution from Space,”Omni Lecture at the Royal Institution, London, entitled “Evolution from Space,” and later printed as a book:

    Once we see that life is cosmic it is sensible to suppose that intelligence is cosmic. Now problems of order, such as the sequences of amino acids in the chains which constitute the enzymes and other proteins, are precisely the problems that become easy once a directed intelligence enters the picture, as was recognised long ago by James Clerk Maxwell in his invention of what is known in physics as the Maxwell demon. The difference between an intelligent ordering, whether of words, fruit boxes, amino acids, or the Rubik cube, and merely random shufflings can be fantastically large, even as large as a number that would fill the whole volume of Shakespeare’s plays with its zeros. So if one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design [my emphasis]. No other possibility I have been able to think of in pondering this issue over quite a long time seems to me to have anything like as high a possibility of being true.” [pp. 27-28]

    Until evolutionary materialist advocates can answer cogently to the information, statistical thermodynamics and related issues, they cannot claim the blanket authority of evolutionary materialist biologists to dismiss these issues.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  121. UB:

    Have any of them produced even a conceptual idea of how chemical compounds formed an abstraction of themselves, and then instatiated that into a material medium?

    Are actually asking if there is a community of scientists executing a research program into abiogenesis? SRSLY?

    You know, I get that you aren’t a wporking scientist. So, I don’t expect you to be intimately familiar with the current state of the art, so to speak. Heck, it is hard enough for working scientists to do so. But, this question is so….so….you know, I can’t even think of a nice way to characterize this question.

  122. kairosfocus @118,

    I see above what seems to have been a moderated comment on the remarks that ET quote mined and wrenched into a strawman distortion.

    That is a regrettable impact of moderation, but the exchange with ET shows what unmoderated exchanges would all too soon deteriorate into.

    I am on that special moderation list that results in any of my comments being buried 12-24 hours behind the comments I am responding to.

    There was a post of mine I directed you to that you didn’t know even existed.

    It results in shorter and shorter responses on my part since I can’t afford to invest time in something that won’t be read.

    This is bad training for your side when the debate hits public forums as your experience here will not prepare you for the type of responses and questions you will get in an open exchange.

    It is like a boxer who prepares for a championship fight with sparring partners who aren’t allowed to hit back, and that is the impact of moderation on your side, an unprepared ID proponent.

    In my opinion, which differs from yours, efren ts has been civil and fair.

  123. KF

    Do you now see why I have found that ET has consistently played at quite mining and abusive strawman tactics?

    You might want to consult a Dictionary. It isn’t a quote mine to edit for brevity, so long as the original point is not changed. It is only a quotemine when the edit changes the meaning of what was trying to be conveyed.

    I would note that you have again neglected to show where in the full comment (59 on Fuller-Ruse) you referenced selection or reproduction. (Onlookers, note!) Until you do, I submit that my editting of your comment for brevity was not a quote mine, but an accurate representation. And I find myself, yet again, in a place where I have to forgive you for your libel against me.

  124. 124
    Sooner Emeritus

    BiPed,

    Your distorting, sneering, and \snort-ing brings to mind a DaveScot stripped of white box and bannination power.

    You boldly proclaim “Sooner Deciphered,” and italicize phrases to suggest that they come from me, when you’ve actually made them up.

    I write:

    If we watch as an engineer working with a pad and pencil generates a good solution to an engineering problem, we do not see “intelligence” and we do not see purpose. We certainly do not see immaterial intelligence. We see pencil marks on paper, not information, though we may be informed in various ways by the marks, depending on our various understandings of what the engineer is doing. The information is not “out there,” as a particular communal observation.

    There is not a basis in our communal observation for saying that immaterial intelligence created information.

    You “decipher”:

    There is no observable basis for saying that intelligence creates information. (This is of course completely obvious as an unassailable fact. Just name one example of information which was created by intelligence).

    I stepped through the scenario clearly. You can’t deal with it, so you ignore it and return to blatant appeal to intuition. How would a group of observers reach consensus that the engineer had created information? Are you going to pound your “common sense” into them with a sledgehammer?

    I write:

    And, left to your own expression of your intuition of what would have allowed you to do what we saw the engineer do, you would never say it that way ["immaterial intelligence creates information"]. Chances are good that you say that that the engineer used her intelligence to solve the problem. (This intuition, like many others, is worthless in scientific investigation.)

    You “decipher”:

    Intuition is worthless in scientific investigation

    I’m having trouble connecting this “decipherment” to what I wrote:

    An engineer solving a problem by working through constraints and generating a solution is not an example of purpose (for the completely obvious reason that we cannot actually see purpose. Purpose, like gravity, and the new car behind door number three do not exist because they are not seen).

    We can explain entities as serving a purpose in a physical system, but that does not mean that purpose itself is physically real. It is an abstract relation, not something we literally observe. As for the engineering having a purpose, that’s a different sense of purpose, and it’s again abstract. When door number three is opened, the audience either observes a physical car or it observes something else physical.

    Here you actually quote me, and haplessly make for me a point I was saving for later:

    How do you know the engineer was intelligent? It behaved intelligently. And how do you explain the intelligent behavior? The engineer was intelligent. (So how do you know the engineer was alive? It moved. And how do you explain the movement? It was alive).

    Hooray for your resurrection of vitalism. And welcome to the dormative principle:

    … a story in Molière’s Le Malade Imaginaire, retold by Gregory Bateson (1979): “We see on stage a medieval oral doctoral examination. The examiners ask the candidate why opium puts people to sleep. The candidate triumphantly answers, ‘Because, learned doctors, it contains a dormative principle.’”

    Why do some things behave intelligently? Because they have intelligence. Brilliant.

  125. 125
    Sooner Emeritus

    BiPed,

    The semiotic arrangement of cytosine-thymine-adenine in DNA results in the addition of Leucine during protein synthesis.

    Yes, and stars mean carbon. If you don’t understand that, get bornagain77 to explain.

  126. Sooner, and just what is it that bornagain77 finds so special about carbon, which can be argued to be the MOST important chemical in life, and stars?

    Sooner don’t you find it even a little peculiar that carbon is found to be the first “heavy” element that was formed exclusively in the interior of stars after the big bang? Or are you content to merely imply in a very subtle, thinly veiled, way that this is not mysterious at all. I find your lack of engagement of the matter at hand to be very disingenuous to the profound wonder of it all. A wonder that rightly should be brought into the light of reason so that we may know with certainty the why it is as it is.

    notes:

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

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

    What could make a scientist who was such a staunch atheist, as Hoyle was before his discoveries, make such a statement? The reason he made such a statement is because Hoyle was expertly trained in the exacting standards of mathematics. He knew numbers cannot lie when correctly used and interpreted. What he found was a staggering numerical balance to the many independent universal constants needed to synthesize carbon in stars. These independent constants were of such a high degree of precision as to leave no room for blind chance whatsoever. Materialism had presumed blind chance of natural laws, generated from some material basis, was the ultimate cause for the entire universe coming to be in the first place. Thus, with no wiggle room for the blind chance of materialism, Fred Hoyle had to admit the evidence he found was compelling to the proposition of intelligent design by a infinitely powerful, and transcendent, Creator.

    The Elements: Forged in Stars – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4003861

    The Role of Elements in Life Processes
    http://www.mii.org/periodic/LifeElement.php

    Periodic Table – Interactive web page for each element
    http://www.mii.org/periodic/MIIperiodicChart.html

    “Information is information, not matter or energy. No materialism which does not admit this can survive at the present day.”
    Norbert Weiner – MIT Mathematician – Father of Cybernetics

  127. ET:

    Re, 121: It isn’t a quote mine to edit for brevity, so long as the original point is not changed.

    Prezactly.

    (Onlookers, kindly cf 100 above, where I show just how ET snipped out of one context, shifted to another, and attacked me by begging the question addressed in the original context, and 70 – 71, where I addressed his specific issue on teh merits in details starting from Darwin himself.)

    ET has plainly shown that he is playing the trollish crocodile, lurking to drag down whomever he can into a death roll in the fever swamp of distractions, distortions and denigration, towards so polarising and poisoning the atmosphere that the real issue is forgotten in the quarrel he hopes to provoke.

    All, just as Saul Alinsky — cultural/ institutionalist marxist patron saint of community organisers and other change agents, so called — taught as the way to facilitate change.

    In short, as the weak arguments correctives show, it’s all a cleverly developed evo mat con, folks; one championed by the NCSE and ilk, and duly trumpeted to the unwary masses by the “education” and mass media agit prop spin doctors, who can’t and/or won’t tell the plain unvarnished truth on origins science.

    For, fellow sheeple waiting to be shorn (or worse) the truth would be fatal to their agenda.

    So, let’s do a little agenda exposing again:

    1] Lewontin, NYRB Jan 1997:

    >> 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 . . . >>

    –> A priori, anti-theistical (not merely atheistical) imposition of materialism on science

    –> This blocks science from being an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, based on empirical observation, theoretical analysis and modelling, and reasoned discussion among the informed.

    –> Notice, onlookers, how over many months evo mat advocates have never dared to try to contradict that description of what science should be. So why then did we see them fighting t6ooth and nail to impose a definition of science like this, from Kansas 2001, denigrating the corrective definition of 2005:

    2] Kansas State Boards of Edu, defining Sci:

    >>2001 Definition: “Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations of the world around us.”

    2005 Definition: “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.”>>

    –> Guess why the US NASA described the 205 definition as “distorting the definition of science, in a letter to the KS BoE . . .

    3] US NAS, 2008 version of their pamphlet against “creationism,” p. 10:

    >> In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. Any scientific explanation has to be testable — there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it. Unless a proposed explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially count against it, that explanation cannot be subjected to scientific testing. >>

    –> notice the loaded language, and the failure to recognise that the proper contrast to nature [ = chance + necessity] is art [= intelligent, purposeful, often skilled action].

    –> But, just try to suggest to the members of the NAS that the art of scientific investigation and publication can be carried on by blind chance and natural, forces, without intelligent, skilled scientists. Or, that the work of these scientists is undistinguishable from what chance and necessity can do ever so easily.

    –> See the blatant contradiction, just like Mr Ar4rington exposed in open court?

    4] Plato’s scoop on the con, c 360 BC, 2350 years ago:

    >>[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. 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 [evolutionary materialism has always been a philosophical a priori, and is imposed as a censoring constraint on what will be acknowledged as knowledge] . . . . these people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them [notice the amoral, radical relativism and how it easily leads to tumults, rebellion and tyranny by the amoral radical relativists] . . . These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [here, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . . . [Jowett translation. Emphases and explanatory parentheses added.] >>

    –> No prizes for guessing why this classic passage is so little known.

    ____________

    GEM of TKI

  128. PS: Onlookers, go over to the ID uncensored thread, at 77 and 78, point 4, in which last I expose how WH blunders into a self contradiction by trying to project natural selection into the OOL context, and also how this bleeds over into the context of body plan origin. ET is implicitly in the same contradiction through his quote mining attempt.

  129. Sooner if I get you right in your post to Upright you are arguing that transcendent information is not even “real” in the first place. Yet this presupposition of yours is now shown to be false since transcendent information is shown to be “real” in quantum experiments. Moreover it is shown that transcendent information exercises dominion of energy in these quantum experiments. and Since transcendent information exercises dominion of energy, energy which we know by the first law cannot be created nor destroyed by any material processes, then we find that all transcendent information which can exists for all events of energy, past, present and future, already must exist. (Conservation of Transcendent Information) Thus sooner you are correct to say the engineer did not create information in so much as he revealed transcendent information that was already present within reality. Moreover Sooner, It can now be shown, by double slit quantum erasure, that consciousness must precede “uncertain” 3-D material reality and reside within the transcendent information framework/dimension.

    further notes:

    “I discovered that nature was constructed in a wonderful way, and our task is to find out its mathematical structure”
    Albert Einstein

    Further reflections on the “infinite transcendent information” framework:

    Mass becomes infinite at the speed of light, thus mass will never go the speed of light. As well, distance in direction of travel will shrink to zero for mass at the speed of light (i.e. the mass would disappear from our sight if it could go the speed of light.). For us to hypothetically travel at the speed of light, in this universe, only gets us to first base as far as quantum teleportation is concerned. That is to say, traveling at the speed of light only gets us to the place where time, as we understand it, comes to complete stop for light, i.e. gets us to the eternal, “past and future folding into now”, framework/dimension of time. This higher dimension “eternal” inference for the time framework of light is warranted because light is not “frozen within time” yet it is shown that time, as we understand it, does not pass for light.

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

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

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

    Also, hypothetically traveling at the speed of light in this universe would be instantaneous travel for the person going at the speed of light. This is because time does not pass for them, but, and this is a big but; this “timeless” travel is still not instantaneous and transcendent to our temporal framework/dimension of time, i.e. Speed of light travel, to our temporal frame of reference, is still not completely transcendent of our framework since light appears to take time to travel from our perspective. In information teleportation though the “time not passing”, eternal, framework is not only achieved in the speed of light framework/dimension, but also in our temporal framework/dimension. That is to say, the instantaneous teleportation/travel of information is instantaneous to both the temporal and speed of light frameworks/dimensions, not just the speed of light framework. Information teleportation/travel is not limited by time, nor space, in any way, shape or form, in any frame of reference, as light is seemingly limited to us. Thus “pure information” is shown to be timeless (eternal) and completely transcendent of all material frameworks/dimensions. Moreover, concluding from all lines of evidence we have now examined; transcendent, eternal, infinite information is indeed real and the framework in which It resides is the primary reality (highest dimension) that can exist, (in so far as our limited perception of a primary reality, highest dimension, can be discerned). Logic also dictates “a decision” must have been made, by the “transcendent, eternal, infinite information” from the primary timeless (eternal) reality It inhabits, in order to purposely create a temporal reality with highly specified, irreducible complex, parameters from a infinite set of possibilities in the proper sequential order. Thus this infinite transcendent information, which is the primary reality of our reality, is shown to be alive. The restriction imposed by our physical limitations of us ever accessing complete infinite information to our temporal framework/dimension does not detract, in any way, from the primacy and dominion of the infinite, eternal, transcendent, information framework/dimension that is now established by the quantum teleportation experiment as the primary reality of our reality. Of note: All of this evidence meshes extremely well with the theistic postulation of God being infinite and perfect in knowledge.

    “An illusion can never go faster than the speed limit of reality”
    Akiane – Child Prodigy – Artwork homepage – http://www.artakiane.com/ – Music video – http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4204586

    As a side light to this, leading quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger has followed in John Archibald Wheeler’s footsteps (1911-2008) by insisting reality, at its most foundational level, is “information”.

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

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

    Psalm 19:1-2
    The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

  130. Sooner,

    I think you would profit by looking at the UD glossary’s defn on intelligence, a cite of wikipedia [i.e admission against interest by an ideologically materialist source]:

    “capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn.”

    GEM of TKI

  131. KF:

    (Onlookers, kindly cf 100 above, where I show just how ET snipped out of one context, shifted to another, and attacked me by begging the question addressed in the original context, and 70 – 71, where I addressed his specific issue on teh merits in details starting from Darwin himself.)

    You introduce a model made from a source of variation and neglect to include selection and reproductions. Onlookers will note that the parts of the comment I dropped (for brevity) do nothing to include the latter two elements in the model. So, the charge of quotemining is inaccurate at best. Further, onlookers will note that not only does my challenge in comment in 107 remain unanswered, it also remains unacknowledged.

    ET has plainly shown that he is playing the trollish crocodile

    Well, I will admit to being curious how long you will persist, and how much concomitant text you will generate, in avoiding acknowledgement of a simple (but significant) error in a model you proposed. You are certainly free to ignore me, allowing the discussion to stand as is. Or perhaps, you could prevail upon Clive to intervene on your behalf to exclude me from the conversation.

  132. ET:

    One last time, before I sent you to Coventry: You have clearly refused to read and heed 100, and 70 – 71.

    I originally spoke to how generating FSCI by random noise would be a refuting test of ID as a theory, in the context of challenges to testability, with origin of life as the extension of that to the bio-world.

    OOL of course is before differential reproductive success is a possible culling mechanism. As WH found out this morning by trying to inject NS into the pre life chemicals in a small pond etc situation. The same blunder that you imply by trying to take something that in the first and explicit instance speaks to the origin of life situation, and comnplaining that I have left out natural selection.

    Let’s excerpt, so the blunder of imagining that NS explains origin of info or helps do so will be plain for all to see:

    ___________________

    ID Uncensored thread no 78, point 4:

    >>4] WH, 71: The fact that you believe that only intelligence can create information is one of the reasons I believe you don’t half understand what information even is. We’ve been telling you where the information found in living things comes from for years – mutations create the information and natural selection sieves out the useless information and keeps what works.

    Now, of course, this begs the question bigtime. It thus inadvertently exposes the circularity and incoherence of the a priori evolutionary materialist story on origin of life and of body plans.

    For, natural selection is about the differential success of already reproducing populations [i.e. they have to embed von Neumann replicators]. As a logical consequence, origin of cell based life cannot be explained on random generation of information with natural selection.

    That is, WH, you here commit a logical blunder that unravels the whole story.

    Next, we observe that the quantum of information required for a von Neumann type replicator greatly exceeds 500 – 1,000 bits, as his analysis and subsequent work to date have shown. So it is not unexpected that in the smallest simplest organisms we find DNA covering in excess of 100 k bits.

    But, just 125 bytes, or 1,000 bits, implies a configuration space of 1.07 * 10^301.

    This — as we at UD have pointed out over and over for years now — is over ten times the square of the number of Planck-time quantum states of our observed universe of ~ 10^80 atoms, across its thermodynamic potential lifespan [~10^25 s, or about 50 million times the 13.7 BY generally said to have elapsed since the big bang]. In short, if the whole universe we observe were to be viewed as a search engine as it develops from the initial singularity forward, it could not scan through an appreciable fraction of the config space for just 1,000 bits worth of storage capacity.

    That is, we have an excellent reason to see that a random walk based process would not credibly arrive at the shores of ANY island of functionality in the von Neumann sense.

    In short, blind chance plus undirected necessity are utterly incapable of credibly originating bio-information, not to mention the underlying codes and algorithms or the coordinated implementing machines. All of which have to be in place at one and the same time for a von Neumann replicator based entity to be self replicating. That is, on entities ii to iv, it is irreducibly complex, and i and v are background requisites as well.

    No self-replication, no reproduction, and no differential success of competing reproducing populations.

    In short WH, you have committed a confident declaration of an absurdity. >>

    ___________________

    You, ET, snipped my remarks out of that explicit, OOL linked context, and supplied a novel one, in which you objected to my failing to address NS in the CV + NS –> Darwinian evo claim.

    I pointed out at 70 – 71 that inter alia NS is not the information SOURCE, but the eliminator of variants that are less fit.

    Chance — undirected contingency uncorrelated with purpose etc — variation remains the only relevant info source, in whatever form.

    By removing from one context to another and begging he relevant question, you have quote mined.

    Plainly, you are unwilling to acknowledge that sad truth.

    I am sure onlookers will take due note, and remember when you next make an assertion.

    In any case, you have now made yourself into a capital example of the reality challenged nature of atheistical, amoral radical relativism rooted in evolutionary materialism; so there is at least some relevance to the topic of the thread.

    For, evidently, you think that merely asserting that which is manifestly false, again and again, makes it true. I will give you this: asserting a false accusation without it having been corrected can often mislead onlookers into thinking it true.

    But, abundant correction is on the table, so onlookers, we can see the tactic for what it is: scoop out of one context, strawmannise, refuse to deal with the key issue [on any handy excuse, here length], twist the out of context quote mined excerpt into an accusation of incompetence and/or misbehaviour. Dismiss correction, while pounding away at repeating the false accusation based on the half truth of an out of context citation.

    Let us remember, onlookers: to date, evo mat advocates have never been able to show empirically that FSCI can come about by chance + necessity (including natural selection!). And, they have never been able to show that the functionally specific complex organisation and associated information in cell based life came about/ plausibly came about by chance + necessity in some still warm pond, or the equivalent. Life forms at cell level incorporate codes, algorithms, programs, executing machines and the like all of great complexity and coordination. This pattern we know and only know to be produced by intelligence so we have an excellent basis for inferring on best known cause that cell based life is the product of intelligence.

    But, that does not sit well with the materialist worldview, so any and every dirty tactic of distraction, distortion, and denigration is used to draw us away form looking at the issue on the merits squarely and fairly.

    This we have seen over and over at UD for years.

    Now we know more of the materialist plays from their book of rhetoric.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: ET knows that if he steps sufficiently over the line into incivility, CH or whoever will be more than justified to put him on moderation and even to exclude him altogether.

  133. kairosfocus @131,

    PS: ET knows that if he steps sufficiently over the line into incivility, CH or whoever will be more than justified to put him on moderation and even to exclude him altogether.

    Why are you trying to get efren ts banned?

    Disagreeing with you should not be grounds for banning.

    Why would you even want him banned?

    If he is so obviously wrong, he’s the perfect person for you to make an example of.

    People will think you got him banned because he got the better of you.

    I believe that looking at it as objectively as possible, his arguments have been clearer and more to the point.

    All of the onlookers, 10-15 thousand according to you, are going to evaluate the performance of both of you and I believe he will get the majority of positive votes.

    A perceived loss on one of your own sites is not something the ID movement needs if you want to be taken seriously in public and in schools.

  134. KF, thanks for your post #130.

    1) Invoking Darwinian mechanisms prior to the first self-contained, self-replicating organism is circular reasoning — invoking as an explanation the thing to be explained.

    2) Pure chance is wholly inadequate as an explanation for the first self-replicator. This leaves natural law, which thankfully is universal, uniform and observable. We need to see the discovery of the law of spontaneous generation of functionally specified complex information, or a cascade of laws which account for it.

  135. Apollos:

    If there are laws of the universe that progr5am in the emergence of C-chemistry, cell based life and its onward development into complex body plans, we might as well give up and call these “laws” what they would be.

    Programs.

    The ultimate form of fine tuning.

    And already we have reason to be suspicious on how our cosmos is finely balanced to set up life-friendly galaxies and solar systems, with the most common elements being the elements that just happen to make the foundational molecules of life: H, O, C etc.

    If I were an evo mat advocate, I would be rooting for chance, not law. And we can see just how poor an explanation chance is.

    Design is looking stronger and stronger.

    GEM of TKI

  136. KF

    On reading Toronto’s comment #133 I see another mention of 10-15 thousand onlookers. Where did you get this figure from? It seems most unlikely.

    Mark

  137. Mr Frank:

    I find it a little sad that your interest, given the issues above, is so tangential and trivial.

    I will answer as follows:

    1 –> Some time back [1+ yrs IIRC], the Blog owner if I recall, observed that readership was in the 9,000/diem ballpark.

    2 –> In one of the threads I monitored recently a generally informed commenter observed that the numbers currently are 10 – 15 k.

    3 –> Given the baseline,general web trends and the typical pattern of surges of interest, those numbers are credible for one of the leading design theory blogs worldwide. (And you can see how often UD threads will pop up fairly high in Google searches.)

    4 –> So, I am not speaking irresponsibly or without basis.

    GEM of TKI

  138. Toronto:

    Don’t be ridiculous.

    I have simply given fair warning to ET on the publicly available UD comment policy [top, right, every UD page], in light of his pattern of behaviour. Quote mining, strawmannising and false accusation are not civil behaviours. Or, if you want me to cite the judicious Richard Hooker, in the place from Ecclesiastical Polity where Locke cited in ch 2.5 of his 2nd Essay on civil Govt, when he set about grounding liberty and principles of democratic polity:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant.

    What I have now done is to “send ET to Coventry,” in light of his persistently manipulative and rhetorically abusive, irresponsible behaviour in the teeth of correction. Or, in case you do not understand the two-tier allusion [first level, British; second level NT], here is St Paul’s counsel:

    Titus 3: 9But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him . . .

    Of course, one still has the duty of prayer for those failing the test of life, that they wake up before it is too late.

    Not to mention, that of counselling others on how to avoid the traps set by such people.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  139. MF:

    Secondly, since you are now at least dipping into comments I have made [you previously and repeatedly said you do not read what I write . . . ] could you kindly square the circle of explaining to us:

    1] How (given the requisites of a von Neumann replicator) natural selection by differential reproductive success applies to the pre-life situation studied as origin of life

    2] How, similarly, novel body plans achieve NS on differential reproductive success, given that integrated irreducibly complex mechanisms are beyond the plausible reach of darwinian evolution.

    a –> On the first, I have forgotten who it is warned that such natural selection on differential reproduction before reproduction exists is an outright contradiction in terms.

    b –> On the second, I again excerpt from Meyer’s 2004 paper, as noted in 70 – 71 above, point 18:

    In order to explain the origin of the Cambrian animals, one must account not only for new proteins and cell types, but also for the origin of new body plans . . . Mutations in genes that are expressed late in the development of an organism will not affect the body plan. Mutations expressed early in development, however, could conceivably produce significant morphological change (Arthur 1997:21) . . . [but] processes of development are tightly integrated spatially and temporally such that changes early in development will require a host of other coordinated changes in separate but functionally interrelated developmental processes downstream. For this reason, mutations will be much more likely to be deadly if they disrupt a functionally deeply-embedded structure such as a spinal column than if they affect more isolated anatomical features such as fingers (Kauffman 1995:200) . . .

    c –> In short, the evolutionary materialist must provide a plausible chance + necessity mechanism that credibly gets chemicals in a still warm pond to the first fully functional life form that is empirically warranted, including codes, data structures, algorithms, programs and implementing machines, as this video illustrates:

    d –> Thereafter, you need to justify getting to islands of function with dozens to hundreds of significantly diverse and tightly integrated body plans and associated specialist organs; reckoning seriously the potential for disruption of embryologically early mutations.

    e –> All, with the point in mind that it is not credible that as little as 1,000 bits of functionally specific, complex information would ever be generated by chance processes required to drive unintelligent variation.

    f –> Alternate realities where chemocals magially defy thermodynamics and spontanously assemble replicators that invent codes that write proteins and then set up cells, or where coordinated mutations that give rise to hopeful monsters need not apply.

    g –> And if you wish to argue for the continuity of the tree of life from roots to tips of branches in a continent of function, you will have to justify it, including with relevant fossils in sufficient numbers to make continuity reasonable.

    _____________

    Otherwise, you are just spinning ideological stories to fit a priori metaphysical commitments to materialism, as Lewontin admitted.

    G’day.

    GEM of TKI

  140. Oops, video on digital storage and processing of information in the cell, from transcription to protein synthesis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related

  141. Onlookers:

    Observe, carefully: while we see much dismissal and denigration, we find little addressing ofteh issues on the merits, from the evolutionary materialist advocates.

    Let us see if that will change with the — again repeated — explicit challenge to summarise the plausible, empirically well warranted mechanisms of chance + necessity that get us to first life and thence to major body plans and associated integrated systems of specialised organs.

    In this context, let us refresh our memories with Philip Johnson’s reply to Lewontin’s notorious 1997 NYRB article:

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

    . . . .   The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    GEM of TKI

  142. #137 KF

    Sorry that my interest makes you sad. As you say the data for UD readership is a bit tenuous. There is a world of difference between an unique IP address getting a hit somewhere on UD and someone actually reading something, much less a specific item. My guess is that if you or I write a comment then no more than 500 people read it.

    I am sorry but I really don’t have time to read your comments in enough detail to do them justice. It is not just the length of your comments. For example, your comment #139 the second paragraph is:

    1] How (given the requisites of a von Neumann replicator) natural selection by differential reproductive success applies to the pre-life situation studied as origin of life

    I may be dim – but to me this is a meaningless sentence. It would take me a least 30 minutes to understand what you were getting at and then I might well misinterpret it. And that’s only one paragraph!

  143. Onlookers:

    This — sadly — is now plainly getting to be yet another “foolish” and distractive argument in the Pauline sense.

    At least, it is an opportunity to expose the rhetorical tactics so often resorted to by evolutionary materialists to make their version of [on] “reality” seem plausible to the naive. In that sense, it is relevant tot he original post, and so I will take time to highlight the fallacies surrounding the concept of natural selection as used by evolutionary materialist advocates, step by step.

    (Where natural selection is valid, it is so in the sense Blythe pointed out long before Darwin: largely conservative, eliminating unfit mutants. For instance, most fancy goldfish would not survive in the wild; they are maintained by ARTIFICIAL selection.)

    It is by now quite sadly plain that the evolutionary materialist advocates have no serious intent to address key holes in their theories.

    No surprise, for, as Johnson pointed out, they hold those theories on a priori materialism, which makes darwinian style evolution seem true by logical necessity.

    MF is highly educated and intelligent, and has been a long time advocate for evolutionary materialism here and elsewhere.

    He knows or should know:

    1 –> The von Neumann replicator of 1949 plays a significant role in my comments above in this thread.

    (But of course he makes the excuse that he has no time to read what I say and/or finds it hard to understand. If so, he should kindly refrain from joining in quote mining and denigratory strawman attacks.)

    2 –> He knows full well that natural selection is about how varied sub-populations are held to have differential rates of reproduction, so that there will be “survival of the fittest.”

    3 –> He knows full well that in the pre-life situation, there being no self replicating mechanism, differential reproductive success of sub populations is not applicable. Which is precisely what I said above, his pretences not to understand what I wrote notwithstanding.

    4 –> That is why I pointed out that it is an outright self-contradiction to propose such NS as a means for generating bio-information in the pre-life setting.

    5 –> Thus, there is no credible materialistic account of origin of life, as the sad state of OOL studies amply underscores.

    6 –> This was of course the actual context of the remarks I made which ET snipped out of their context [cf. 100 above] and carried here in an attempt to derail the thread by presenting a denigratory strawman.

    7 –> In 70 – 71 above, I took up the point that, even where reproduction is present, NS is a CULLER of existing functional forms [by competition of sub populations], i.e it is still not the source of functional bio- information.

    8 –> In fact, when WH made the blunder of naively blurting out the full absurd evo mat position, as I noted on in 132 above, this is how he summed up the role of NS, over in the ID uncensored thread:

    We’ve been telling you where the information found in living things comes from for years – mutations create the information and natural selection sieves out the useless information and keeps what works.

    9 –> Got that?

    a] “>mutations create the information,” and

    b] “natural selection sieves out the [relatively or absolutely] useless information and keeps what works [best]” [clarifying parentheses added]

    10 –> In short, we clearly see the inadvertently revealing acknowledgement that mutations — chance driven, non purposeful change of one form or another — are the source of information, and natural selection is only a culling filter.

    11 –> Nor is this exactly news. As my remarks on Natural Selection in my always linked (cited above at 100) excerpt from Wiki:

    individuals with favorable phenotypes are more likely to survive and reproduce than those with less favorable phenotypes. The phenotype’s genetic basis . . . will increase in frequency over the following generations.

    11 –> And of course MF artfully ducked explaining how body-plan level mutations that have to occur early in embryological development and — to produce a successful function — have to be coordinated with other required changes, are going to occur.

    12 –> That is, we have strong reason to see that body plans occur in islands of function that lie well beyond the FSCI threshold of information that would have to come from co-ordinated chance changes that get astonishingly lucky.

    13 –> Worse, we know that even after 150 years of diligent searching [with over a 1/4 million species and millions of specimens including many soft bodied ones], Darwin’s tree of life with smoothly grading changed populations has not found empirical support.

    14 –> In short natural selection is NOT a credible engine of creating bio- functional information, whether for first life or for novel body plans.

    15 –> Where it does work, it is largely conservative — weeding out defective mutations; or, allowing specialisation from exisitng gene mixes, to fit niches; or, preserving single point mutations that happen to work well relatively speaking (e.g. for bacteria subjected to antibiotics etc).

    ______________

    So, we see again how the real root of the apparent plausibility of darwinian mechanisms of macroevolution, is PHILOSOPHICAL. That is, the a priori imposition of evolutionary materialism. For this leads those who accept it — usually in the guise of so-called methodological naturalism — to inferthat some form of chance variation and natural selection and linked mechanisms MUST be responsible for life forms across time.

    But, evolutionary materialism is itself inescapably self-refuting and by logical necessity, false.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  144. PS: And so, we come back full circle to the information generation challenge that evo mat advocates even more consitently duck:

    1: Since NS cannot be the engine of actual variation, and

    2: since purposefully directed contingency — design — is ruled out as the engine of variability at first life and at origin of body plans thereafter, then:

    3: Chance — statistical, undirected contingency — remains as the only engine of variability that evo mat theorists can appeal to. Thus,

    4: They have to account for how functionally specific, algorithmic, complex digital information originated by chance in the prelife world, and led to the sort of step by step code based translation and synthesis systems we observe in even the simplest unicellular life forms: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related

    5: Similarly, they have to account for how a first life form, credibly involving 100 k bits or more of bio-functional information in its DNA or RNA etc, then proceeded to BY CHANCE VARIATION generate 10+ million bits of further functional information dozens of times over to generate body plans.

    GEM of TKI

  145. PPS: Onlookers, observe carefully how, for about a week, NONE of the evo mat advocates have taken time to explain to us how the sort of digital mechanisms in the videos like the one repeatedly linked above originated by chance and mechanical necessity. Indeed, in this and other threads, apart from an attempt to assert that the processes on display are analogue not digital and that hey therefore do not process information [so, T, what does a logging amplifier or an integrator do, or what happens when we patch up a set of integrators, pots, diode function generators, etc to set up and run a solution to a differential equation?] they have consistently ignored the videos of what happens in the cell. That,too, is telling.

  146. 146

    Effy,

    The question I asked deals with what has to be explained. It has to be explained because that is the way we find life today.

    You suggest that science has had “blissful productivity” in this area. I challenge that.

    Synthesizing organic parts does no more to explain the living organism than a bucket of transistors explains the program running on your computer.

    That you fail to see that is hardly my problem. Perhaps you should spend some time with the primary data.

  147. 147

    Sooner,

    You showed up on UD with a full load of condescending arrogance. That in itself is not all that particularly unusual. But you cloaked yourself in this false garb of a hyper-intellect. Since then you’ve done little to show anything but hyper-baffoonery – well-insulated from evidence.

    So yes Sooner, I do intend to keep poking you in the chest. When you are ready to pull off the mask and deal with the evidence, you let me know.

  148. Uppity Biped,

    You suggest that science has had “blissful productivity” in this area. I challenge that.

    There are many scientists engaged in studying abiogenesis. You know, forming hypothesis, designing and running experiments, analysing and publishing results. It may be *faster* to assert design, allude to as-yet uncalculated probabilities, and knock out a few blog comments rather than dealing with boring lab work that could take months or years, but speed and productivity are not the same thing.

  149. Onlookers:

    FYI, re ET’s latest misrepresentations and putting up of unbacked evo mat promissory notes, here is the net result of the many scientists working away at OOL, as excerpted from the recent exchange between Shapiro and Orgel. (Sources are given at the linked.]

    Since he is unfortunately unlikely to follow the link, let me cite:

    __________________

    >> [Shapiro:] RNA’s building blocks, nucleotides contain a sugar, a phosphate and one of four nitrogen-containing bases as sub-subunits. Thus, each RNA nucleotide contains 9 or 10 carbon atoms, numerous nitrogen and oxygen atoms and the phosphate group, all connected in a precise three-dimensional pattern . . . .  [S]ome writers have presumed that all of life’s building could be formed with ease in Miller-type experiments and were present in meteorites and other extraterrestrial bodies. This is not the case.

    A careful examination of the results of the analysis of several meteorites led the scientists who conducted the work to a different conclusion: inanimate nature has a bias toward the formation of molecules made of fewer rather than greater numbers of carbon atoms, and thus shows no partiality in favor of creating the building blocks of our kind of life . . . .

    To rescue the RNA-first concept from this otherwise lethal defect, its advocates have created a discipline called prebiotic synthesis. They have attempted to show that RNA and its components can be prepared in their laboratories in a sequence of carefully controlled reactions, normally carried out in water at temperatures observed on Earth . . . .

    Unfortunately, neither chemists nor laboratories were present on the early Earth to produce RNA . . . 

    [Orgel:] If complex cycles analogous to metabolic cycles could have operated on the primitive Earth, before the appearance of enzymes or other informational polymers, many of the obstacles to the construction of a plausible scenario for the origin of life would disappear . . . .

    It must be recognized that assessment of the feasibility of any particular proposed prebiotic cycle must depend on arguments about chemical plausibility, rather than on a decision about logical possibility . . . few would believe that any assembly of minerals on the primitive Earth is likely to have promoted these syntheses in significant yield . . . .  Why should one believe that an ensemble of minerals that are capable of catalyzing each of the many steps of [for instance] the reverse citric acid cycle was present anywhere on the primitive Earth [8], or that the cycle mysteriously organized itself topographically on a metal sulfide surface [[6]? . . .  Theories of the origin of life based on metabolic cycles cannot be justified by the inadequacy of competing theories: they must stand on their own . . . . 

    The prebiotic syntheses that have been investigated experimentally almost always lead to the formation of complex mixtures. Proposed polymer replication schemes are unlikely to succeed except with reasonably pure input monomers. No solution of the origin-of-life problem will be possible until the gap between the two kinds of chemistry is closed. Simplification of product mixtures through the self-organization of organic reaction sequences, whether cyclic or not, would help enormously, as would the discovery of very simple replicating polymers. However, solutions offered by supporters of geneticist or metabolist scenarios that are dependent on “if pigs could fly” hypothetical chemistry are unlikely to help. >>

    ___________________

    No wonder science writer Robinson [2005] observed: “significant problems persist with each of the two competing models that have arisen—usually called “genes first” and “metabolism first”—and neither has emerged as a robust and obvious favorite.”

    Basic problem?

    The evo mat advocates, a priori ideologically exclude the only credible, observed source of organised functional, information rich complexity: intelligence.

    The resulting absurdities such as appealing to the sort of natural selection that can only happen AFTER self-replicating life has formed, to explain its origin reveal that the enterprise is intellectually bankrupt. (See why SB keeps pointing out the central importance of the logic of cause?)

    GEM of TKI

  150. —upright biped: “You suggest that science has had “blissful productivity” in this area. I challenge that.”

    —efren ts: “There are many scientists engaged in studying abiogenesis. You know, forming hypothesis, designing and running experiments, analysing and publishing results. It may be *faster* to assert design, allude to as-yet uncalculated probabilities, and knock out a few blog comments rather than dealing with boring lab work that could take months or years, but speed and productivity are not the same thing.”

    You are missing UB’s point: activity does not equal accomplishment. The issue is less about whether Darwinists spend a lot of time in the lab and more about the fact that nothing significant ever comes of it. In keeping with that point, many government employees spend a lot of time on the computer watching porn, but that doesn’t mean that they accomplish anything.

  151. StephenB @150,

    You are missing UB’s point: activity does not equal accomplishment.

    You are missing efren ts’s point.

    Our side is actually in the lab trying to scientifically determine something you claim you already know without performing any activity at all.

    Please show us step by step, how the designer put together the first life form.

    Since it is design work and we humans design things all the time, it should be easy for you to work backwards and tell us.

  152. StephenB ,,, I’ve been told that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    http://rlv.zcache.com/insanity.....v8_400.jpg

  153. 153

    ets,

    “It may be *faster* to assert design…”

    I think it has become completely obvious there are facets of OOL that you simply do not comprehend. It is just as clear that you do not wish to.

  154. —bornagain77 StephenB ,,, I’ve been told that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    When a Darwinist applies for a senior position as a researcher, he cannot reasonably say that he has accumulated 25 years of experience in the lab. He must say that he had one year’s experience 25 times.

  155. 155
    Sooner Emeritus

    Big, Bad BiPed taunts from the pleats of mama’s skirt:

    So yes Sooner, I do intend to keep poking you in the chest.

    It will redound upon you, and evidence a double standard in blog moderation.

    You showed up on UD with a full load of condescending arrogance.

    In fact, I did not. You evidently have in mind a couple of cases in which I reacted angrily to claims about papers in a particular area — an area in which, as one of the principals of the Biologic Institute has pointed out, I was almost solely responsible for making connections to information theory. The last time I spoke at a conference — that was essentially the end of my career — I was introduced as a pioneer of the field. People lined the walls and spilled into the hallway. A past president of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society later remarked, as we had a beer together, that I’d surpassed him with my math skills. The difference between the first and the last of my papers in the field is indeed enormous, and I worked extremely hard to develop as I did.

    You often refer to me as a fool, and I will be the first to say that much of the work in my field, including my own, does seem rather silly in retrospect. Everybody missed a formulation that hugely simplifies arguments. What I can say is that I struggled honestly to learn, and that others learned from me. Most senior researchers are similarly humble — they do not preserve the cruft and trumpet that it is “right up there with sliced bread.”

    I worked for ten years to clarify a topic, and I do take it personally when “maverick geniuses” with an agenda step in and make mud of it. The very first sentence they published contains three or four substantive errors, depending upon how you tease them out. One of the “mavericks” — the one who may actually be a genius, but who has never figured out that adorning a preconception with formalism is not mathematics — has gloated that he uses feedback he gains in Internet debate to adapt his arguments. I used to give him feedback, but now I’m just letting him run into the wall you smack into when you’re wrong.

    Now, as for my arrogance, “hyper-baffoonery,” and imperviousness to “the evidence,” I’ll say first that the height of arrogance is to to drag into any thread, irrespective of the topic, the particular evidence you believe must be addressed.

    I first put on a lab coat and conducted experiments in learning 35 years ago. I’ve studied machine “intelligence” for 27 years, and I’ve lectured on the question What is intelligence? about 30 times. I thought carefully about the scenario of a group of people observing an engineer I gave above. You did not address it, but instead changed what I wrote, and sneered. That comes precious close to a concession that you’re at a loss.

  156. StephenB,,, HA HA HA

  157. 157

    Sooner, I’m happy to match you in years. But my 30 years were spent standing toe to toe with people who have every inch of your arrogance – having them back their bias out of the data.

    Like I said Sooner, when you are ready to loose the mask and deal with the evidence, you let me know.

  158. sooner, you sound like you have some pretty impressive credentials but look at this from our angle, the simplest life on earth is vastly more complex than even teams of specialized scientists can understand:,,,,

    First-Ever Blueprint of ‘Minimal Cell’ Is More Complex Than Expected – Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: A network of research groups,, approached the bacterium at three different levels. One team of scientists described M. pneumoniae’s transcriptome, identifying all the RNA molecules, or transcripts, produced from its DNA, under various environmental conditions. Another defined all the metabolic reactions that occurred in it, collectively known as its metabolome, under the same conditions. A third team identified every multi-protein complex the bacterium produced, thus characterising its proteome organisation.
    “At all three levels, we found M. pneumoniae was more complex than we expected,”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....173027.htm

    ,,,,

    “No man-made program comes close to the technical brilliance of even Mycoplasmal genetic algorithms. Mycoplasmas are the simplest known organism with the smallest known genome, to date. How was its genome and other living organisms’ genomes programmed?” – David L. Abel and Jack T. Trevors, “Three Subsets of Sequence Complexity and Their Relevance to Biopolymeric Information,” Theoretical Biology & Medical Modelling, Vol. 2, 11 August 2005, page 8 http://www.biomedcentral.com/c.....2-2-29.pdf

    and yet sooner even though this simplest cell on earth has programming information in it that we can’t even fully understand because of sheer complexity of it,,, we find that material processes can’t even account for the origination of even the simplest of coded information,,,,

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity – David L. Abel – 2009
    Excerpt: “A monstrous ravine runs through presumed objective reality. It is the great divide between physicality and formalism. On the one side of this Grand Canyon lies everything that can be explained by the chance and necessity of physicodynamics. On the other side lies those phenomena than can only be explained by formal choice contingency and decision theory—the ability to choose with intent what aspects of ontological being will be preferred, pursued, selected, rearranged, integrated, organized, preserved, and used. Physical dynamics includes spontaneous non linear phenomena, but not our formal applied-science called “non linear dynamics”(i.e. language,information).

    to top that off Sooner quantum mechanics shows 3-D material reality is secondary to “consciousness” reality. and we know for 100% certainty that consciousness can produce coded information. Shoot I’m doing it right now though you may rightly argue as to the quality of my information.

    The point being Sooner is that despite absolutely crushing evidence like this for design coming from all fields we care to examine, be it cosmology, or be it molecular biology, or be it quantum mechanics. Nothing seems to matter to evolutionists such as yourself. Why is this Sooner? you claim to be above average intelligence. so why is it that overwhelming evidence like this is continually ignored and the public is relentlessly sold this claptrap of pseudo-scientific hodgepodge called neo-Darwinian evolution?

  159. STephenB:

    activity does not equal accomplishment. The issue is less about whether Darwinists spend a lot of time in the lab and more about the fact that nothing significant ever comes of it.

    When it comes to scientific experimentation, there is knowledge even in failure. That notwithstanding, even if professional scientists never completely unravel abiogenesis they are still adding to the canon of scientific knowledge. If you wish to consider that insignificant, so be it. You are entitled to your opinion. But, as a person who’s sole interaction with the scientific world is to criticize it from behind the skirt of moderation on a blog, you would do well to ponder your own activity vs accomplishment balance sheet.

    In keeping with that point, many government employees spend a lot of time on the computer watching porn, but that doesn’t mean that they accomplish anything.

    And some folks spend large amounts of time commenting throughout the day on intelligent design blogs. Do you think their employer would be any less disturbed at the misuse of organization assets merely because it doesn’t involve images of naughty bits?

  160. 160

    Toronto,

    Our side is actually in the lab trying to scientifically determine something you claim you already know without performing any activity at all.

    Who is “our side”? Do you honestly think that all of “your side” thinks the way you do and would consider themselves to be on “your side”? As if you think it justifiable to group anyone who has ever done anything on “your side”…. Please… What you think is “your side” is so variant that there is no “your side”.

  161. 161

    efren ts,

    Don’t call Upright Biped Uppity.

    There are many scientists engaged in studying abiogenesis. You know, forming hypothesis, designing and running experiments, analysing and publishing results. It may be *faster* to assert design, allude to as-yet uncalculated probabilities, and knock out a few blog comments rather than dealing with boring lab work that could take months or years, but speed and productivity are not the same thing.

    ID has nothing to do with speed or being thrifty. It is a logical conclusion based on calculations and the running of experiments and formation of hypotheses you mention. And as you said, a lot can be learned by failure in the lab.

  162. 162

    Sooner,

    I worked for ten years to clarify a topic, and I do take it personally when “maverick geniuses” with an agenda step in and make mud of it.

    You’ll have to keep what you take personally to yourself, and just argue the merits. This sort of thing won’t fly here: “Most senior researchers are similarly humble — they do not preserve the cruft and trumpet that it is “right up there with sliced bread.” and “I used to give him feedback, but now I’m just letting him run into the wall you smack into when you’re wrong.”

    If you think him wrong, then show it with whatever you’ve got, but no personal opinions of the man will be tolerated here. Are we clear?

  163. 163

    efren ts,

    You are entitled to your opinion. But, as a person who’s sole interaction with the scientific world is to criticize it from behind the skirt of moderation on a blog, you would do well to ponder your own activity vs accomplishment balance sheet.

    You’re entitiled to your opinion, But, as a person whose sole interaction with the scientific world is to criticize those of us who pay attention to science behind the mask of efren ts on a blog, you would do well to ponder your own activity vs accomplishment balance sheet.

  164. … despite absolutely crushing evidence like this for design coming from all fields we care to examine, be it cosmology, or be it molecular biology, or be it quantum mechanics. Nothing seems to matter to evolutionists such as yourself. Why is this Sooner? you claim to be above average intelligence. so why is it that overwhelming evidence like this is continually ignored and the public is relentlessly sold this claptrap of pseudo-scientific hodgepodge called neo-Darwinian evolution?

    Rings like a tv-commercial in my ears. How about some hard evidence?

    How can the concerted effort of thousands upon thousands of serious, top-notch, qualified and merited scientists over 150 years default to a pseudo-scientific hodgepodge?

    While at the same time ID still has not (yet?) emerged from it’s just around the corner, ‘- the future’ position? Let’s not forget that science needs a definition allowing for astrology as a science in order to make ID workable.

  165. —efren ts: “But, as a person who’s sole interaction with the scientific world is to criticize it from behind the skirt of moderation on a blog, you would do well to ponder your own activity vs accomplishment balance sheet.”

    Nice try but I need no help from administrators to refute the arguments of my opponents. Your attempt to discredit those refutations by implying that I receive some special kind of special protection smacks of the usual sour grapes and wounded pride.

    On a related matter, you know nothing of my interaction with the scientific world, and your wild speculations about the extent of my accomplishments really does smack of desperation. I have written a book and developed a new theory in my own field. Can you say the same? In any case, I am amused when my opponents resort to personal attacks, so I am not like some other bloggers. It doesn’t bother me at all.

    On the other hand, If you are sensitive about the fact that Darwinism has accomplished nothing of any lasting value in 150 years, you will just have to live with that reality.

    —”And some folks spend large amounts of time commenting throughout the day on intelligent design blogs. Do you think their employer would be any less disturbed at the misuse of organization assets merely because it doesn’t involve images of naughty bits?”

    So you think that blogging on the UD website constitutes a moral and intellectual equivalent to wallowing around in pornography do you? I guess that would fit in with the Darwinist world view, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

  166. Onlookers:

    If it were not so sad, the above desperate clinging to a patently failed paradigm for research on origins would be amusing.

    Simply observe the tip toeing around the already linked and excerpted summary from Robert Shapiro and Leslie Orgel — at 149 above — as the metabolism first and RNA/genes first schools of thought committed mutual destruction.

    That should tell you that what is driving the process is an a priori commitment to he sort of evolutionary materialism outlined by Lewontin, and which Plato skewered 2,300 years ago.

    Lewontin, NYRB 1997:

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

    Plato, The Laws, Bk X, 360 BC:

    Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. 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. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view!] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others, and not in legal subjection to them.

    Just think about the implications [and the echoes all around us as today's heirs of Alcibiades reach for an even achieve power . . . ],in light of Cornell history of biology prof William Provine’s all too telling, utterly chilling remarks at Darwin Day 1998, University of Tennessee:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent. . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    But of course, these conclusions are not the result of unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our universe absed on observation, analysis, modelling and free but respectful discussion among the informed. [Onlookers, observe how none of the evo mat advocates have dared attack this definition of science as it ought to be.]

    No, they are the result of a priori imposition of evolutionary materlalism as a censoring constraint on science, thought and policy more generally.

    So, maybe the much caricatured and despised former US Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan has something to tell us from beyond the grave, in his much overlooked 1921 book, The Menace of Darwinism:

    Darwinism leads to a denial of God. Nietzsche carried Darwinism to its logical conclusion and it made him the most extreme of anti-Christians . . . . As the [[First World] war [[of 1914 - 1918] progressed I [[Bryan was from 1913 - 1915 the 41st US Secretary of State, under President Wilson] became more and more impressed with the conviction that the German propa-ganda rested upon a materialistic foundation. I se-cured the writings of Nietzsche and found in them a defense, made in advance, of all the cruelties and atrocities practiced by the militarists of Germany. [[It didn't start with the Nazis!] Nietzsche tried to substitute the worship of the “Su-perman” for the worship of God. He not only re-jected the Creator, but he rejected all moral standards. He praised war and eulogized hatred because it led to war. He denounced sympathy and pity as attributes unworthy of man. He believed that the teachings of Christ made degenerates and, logical to the end, he regarded Democracy as the refuge of weaklings. He saw in man nothing but an animal and in that animal the highest virtue he recognized was “The Will to Power”—a will which should know no let or hin-drance, no restraint or limitation . . . . His philosophy, if it is worthy the name of philos-ophy, is the ripened fruit of Darwinism — and a tree is known by its fruit . . . .

    The corroding influence of Darwinism has spread as the doctrine has been increasingly accepted. In the American preface to “The Glass of Fashion” these words are to be found: “Darwinism not only justifies the sensualist at the trough and Fashion at her glass; it justifies Prussianism at the cannon’s mouth and Bol-shevism at the prison-door. If Darwinism be true, if Mind is to be driven out of the universe and accident accepted as a sufficient cause for all the majesty and glory of physical nature, then there is no crime or vio-lence, however abominable in its circumstances and however cruel in its execution, which cannot be justi-fied by success, and no triviality, no absurdity of Fash-ion which deserves a censure: more — there is no act of disinterested love and tenderness, no deed of self- sac-rifice and mercy, no aspiration after beauty and excel-lence, for which a single reason can be adduced in logic.” [[pp. 52 - 54. Emphases and explanatory parentheses added.]

    Similarly, as he opened his innings, he raised the crucial policy question:

    If [[atheists and agnostics] desire to teach that there is no God and therefore no Bible and no Christ, why do they not build their own col-leges and support them? Christians do not deny to atheists the right to dispute the existence of God or to agnostics the right to declare themselves without an opinion on the subject; Christians do not deny the right of atheists and agnostics to teach their views; Chris-tians would put all on the same level. The question in dispute is whether atheists and agnostics have a right to teach irreligion in public schools — whether teachers drawing salaries from the public treasury shall be permitted to undermine belief in God, the Bible, and Christ by teaching not scientific truth but unproven and unsupported guesses . . . [[ pp. 5 - 6. Emphases added.]

    So, it looks like the reality being smacked into by a priori darwinist evolutionary materialist ideologues is a bit harsher and consequential for our civilisation than we might think.

    Do we really want to get into the out-of-control runaway train with them?

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Sooner et al, has it ever dawned on you that my coming back and spending a week or so testing your current state of rhetoric to back up your a priori evolutionary materialism in light of, say, what Plato or the author of Job had to say, and in light of the requisites of a von Neumann replicator in the heart of the cell and its observable mechanisms (onlookers, notice the utterly revealing silence in the face of the videos that have been linked multiple times . . . ), might have a specifically productive purpose? [Especially, as it is patently plain that you and your ilk have no cogent response to such on the merits but have yet again resorted to distractions, distortions and atmosphere-poisoning denigration?]

  167. Clive Hayden @160,
    I didn’t decide I was on a side at all, “your side” did.

    Barry Arrington:Over the last few months I have often wondered if the other side really believed they would be able to get away with just “making it up.”

    kairosfocus:The evo mat advocates,…

    StephenB:When a Darwinist applies for a senior position as a researcher, he cannot reasonably say that he has accumulated 25 years of experience in the lab. He must say that he had one year’s experience 25 times.

    kairosfocus:So, it looks like the reality being smacked into by a priori darwinist evolutionary materialist ideologues…

  168. 168

    KF said:

    ——————–
    I think you would profit by looking at the UD glossary’s defn on intelligence, a cite of wikipedia [i.e admission against interest by an ideologically materialist source]:

    “capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn.”
    —————————–

    Fine, let’s go with this.

    By this definition, to establish if the designer is intelligent we need to investigate the designer (not the product) and test if (s)he possesses these capacities. If so, hurrah, we raise our glasses and celebrate that we finally all agree.

    Mind you, we might actually be celebrating that the chess computer that produced the winning game is intelligent, but never mind that for now.

    But this is not what ID does at all! ID investigates an entity with an unknown causal history, and then proclaims that it detects intelligent design. Not because it tests the known designer against the properties from the definition, but only because ‘it is the best inference’.

    In other words, the Wikepdia definition of intelligence has nothing to do whatsoever with ID as proposed on this blog. This, onlookers, is just bait and switch.

    fG

  169. 169

    Faded,

    Lets look and see what you ignore:

    DNA is an encoded abstraction of the organism.

    DNA uses the semiotic rules and context of language in order to store and transfer data

    DNA by virtue of the specified information it contains, solves issues of bio-function (the effect in question), it could not exist without it (ie. iron and oxygen do not transfer information to form rust)

    DNA has an unquestionable purpose.

    DNA is undeniably the plan of an organism

  170. FG (and onlookers):

    Take a few moments to watch this video, then this one. (No lengthy reading, just a video or two.)

    After that, compare the definition you objected to, your remarks and UB’s rebuttal.

    Then, come back to us without a priori materialist blinkers on.

    GEM of TKI

  171. 171
    jon bailey good

    StephenB at 165:

    I mostly lurk on the sidelines in this controversy. But, I get awfully tired of the Darwinists claiming ID advocates don’t ever publish anything. Uncommon Descent has to be the intellectual center of the ID universe because here, not only the contributors like Dr. Dembski are prolific authors, but many of the commenters, like you. I’d love to check out your book and place it up there on the shelf with Dr. Dembski and Dr. Behe’s works. What is it’s title?

  172. 172

    jonny-b-good,

    Can you point me to a publication that demonstrates chemcials forming a semiotic abstraction of themselves and instantiating that into a medium?

    Wow that would sure be interesting.

  173. 173
    jon bailey good

    Mr. Biped, while I am pleased you got the joke on my username (I think Chuck Berry is highly underrated), I am confused by your question. I am no Darwinist and I am not sure why you are challenging me as if I was one. I am just an interested observer who unlurked to get a lead on another book on intelligent design.

  174. Faded,

    Lets look and see what you ignore:

    DNA is an encoded abstraction of the organism.

    DNA uses the semiotic rules and context of language in order to store and transfer data

    DNA by virtue of the specified information it contains, solves issues of bio-function (the effect in question), it could not exist without it (ie. iron and oxygen do not transfer information to form rust)

    DNA has an unquestionable purpose.

    DNA is undeniably the plan of an organism

    That somehow strikes me as a gross over-simplification.

    It would take more words than I am capable of assembling here as well as requiring more space than appropriate for a blog like this.

    But let me try the ‘encoded abstraction.’ I know there are people much better equipped than me to address the subject, but I suspect that DNA is nowhere near being an encoded abstraction.

    If that was be the case, shouldn’t it be possible to work backwards from a developed organism to recover the source DNA?

    To me, the workings of DNA in creating a body seems more like a miracle: cells dividing and by means of communication with the surrounding cells happen to assume a role making them members of a functioning body. With each cell in succession itself becoming a member of the team, contributing in its own way to the process leading to a fully developed body.

    There isn’t any master plan, no top-down design. Things just happen because that’s the way the dice rolls all the way down.

    I hope an expert, and I tend to think that would have to be a so-called evolutionist, might care to comment on my interpretation of the function of DNA in the perspective of embryology.

    If what I’ve tried to say makes any sense.

  175. Cabal states:

    “There isn’t any master plan, no top-down design. Things just happen because that’s the way the dice rolls all the way down.”

    Oh Really???, and just where did the Boltzmann equation upon which the randomness of the dice is based come from???

  176. jbg, my book is an extension of a thesis, though it has not yet been edited or even finalized. In any case, it is more about communication theory in general and less about intelligent design in particular.

  177. 177

    Cabal,

    If DNA is not an abstraction, then evolution as we know it would be impossible.

  178. Cabal

    Re yr: let me try the ‘encoded abstraction.’ I know there are people much better equipped than me to address the subject, but I suspect that DNA is nowhere near being an encoded abstraction.

    If that was be the case, shouldn’t it be possible to work backwards from a developed organism to recover the source DNA?

    DNA of course has a cluster of abstractions in it: regulatory codes as well as the well known protein code. Also, there is additional bio information that goes above and beyond protein code segments, however the existence of this indubitable code is enough to make the point. (And it is a lot easier to read from DNA to the thousands of proteins involved in a complex life form, also we have not really fully decoded the regulatory components yet, though there are strong indicators of how significant they are.)

    But, a code is by definition a symbolic abstraction.

    UB’s challenge holds good, and you need to address the code at work in this video, as transcribed to mRNA and translated with the aid of tRNA and Ribosomes, chaining proteins.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Onlookers, if it were not so sad in the end, it would be almost funny to see just how hard the issue that DNA is a molecular memory storing at least one very specific functional code — often [ht BA] with overlaps and even two way codes — is being ducked or distorted.

  179. PPS: A good listen. (The slides are also useful.)

  180. PPPS: The video top right this page, over at YouTube.

  181. 181
    jon bailey good

    Okay, thank you. I’ll go back to lurking now.

  182. @#Sooner # 91

    First and foremost, I already made it clear to you that I am not here to argue for ID. So I don’t understand why you state: “You’ve neglected to speak at all to the notion that intelligence creates information for a purpose. That is crucial to ID, as Dembski and Marks acknowledge”

    Kairosfocus and other have made cases for that and as of yet I have not seen any of you refute them.

    Second, the only one here suffering from circularity of logic is you. This is evident in your following statement: “If you cut open an animal, you will no more find its intelligence than you will its love”. You can try and disguise your materialistic presuppositions all you like, but soon they will spill over into your language like they just did. If that statement implies what I think it does, that only materialistic constructs have ontological status then you are sadly mistaken.

    You play semantics with the engineer example all you like, but do you have the audacity to deny that engineers, scientists, humans in general are intelligent agents? If not, your argument fails.

    Finally, your false dichotomy in meaning relies on the Kantian notions of phenomenon and noumenon where you apparently chose to treat the latter as unreal. You still have not provided a single reasonable explanation why that is so [other than your materialistic assumptions] and more importantly, why your opinion, which assaults intelligence and reason, should even be taken seriously in the first place.

    It seems to me that you are begging the question here and anything that does not fall within the rigid and overly simplistic notions of materialism and scientism (not science) you deny.

  183. Quote:

    “Sagan’s argument is straightforward. We exist as material beings in a material world, all of whose phenomena are the consequences of physical relations among material entities. The vast majority of us do not have control of the intellectual apparatus needed to explain manifest reality in material terms, so in place of scientific (i.e., correct material) explanations, we substitute demons . . . .”

    It seems like Sagan has made himself to be something akin to a scientistic caricature. In light of that, I wanted to amend the assertion from the above quote to something that better reflects the reality we find ourselves in:

    “Sagan’s argument is straightforward. He assumes without proof that we exist solely as material beings in a solely material world, all of whose phenomena are the consequences of blind chance. The vast majority of us do not comport to such unwarranted and simplistic worldviews, believe that while the apparatus of modern science used to explain some physical phenomena – namely those that amenable to human investigation – is helpful, it does not and should not limit one’s inquiry to materialistic “explanations” alone as a means to gain a holistic understanding of reality. To impose such restrictions on mankind is the equivalent of placing the demon of materialism as the gatekeeper of knowledge. As such, in order to salvage science from such demon(s) we choose to not to reject the aspects of reality that cannot be subjected to the shackles of the materialistic demon.

    Thanks Carl!

  184. Cabal states:

    “How can the concerted effort of thousands upon thousands of serious, top-notch, qualified and merited scientists over 150 years default to a pseudo-scientific hodgepodge?”

    Dang cabal that sounds quite impressive…. What to do??? What to do??? Hey I know Cabal can you or any of those thousands of scientists falsify Abel’s null hypothesis for information generation.

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag

    Cabal, I think you may want to reevaluate your reliance on “consensus science” to try to establish a scientific point.,,,,,,,,,,,

    I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

    Let’s be clear: The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

    There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period…

    I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.
    http://onlyaliberal.com/blog/2.....l-warming/

  185. bornagain77 @184,

    In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results.

    Where are your reproducible results that prove that life is designed?

    According to you, if ID is science, you should have some.

  186. —Toronto: “Our side is actually in the lab trying to scientifically determine something you claim you already know without performing any activity at all.”

    You have it exactly backwards. It is your side that claims to know the final answer [life wasn't designed] having crafted a non-scientific methodology [methodological naturalism] that rules out the alternate answer.

    ID hypothesizes that life was LIKELY designed and establishes paradigms to measure that likelihood; Darwinism rules that life was DEFINITELY NOT designed and defines orgins science accordingly.

    —Richard Dawkins: “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    See how that works? So, tell me then, what is the point of the Darwinist’s research in origins science, when the results have aleady been decided apriori.

    —”Please show us step by step, how the designer put together the first life form.”

    ID doesn’t claim to know. This is news to you?

    —”Since it is design work and we humans design things all the time, it should be easy for you to work backwards and tell us.”

    What makes you think that? Can you work backwards and tell us how an ancient hunter constructed his spear? Since you said that such an answer is easy to obtain, you should have no difficulty providing a step by step process, extracting that information by studying the effects of the design. I await your answer to that “easy” question.

  187. 187
    Sooner Emeritus

    bornagain77 [and Clive],

    you sound like you have some pretty impressive credentials…

    The “Emeritus” in my handle is ironic self-deprecation. My output was low due to medical problems. But I had my moments.

    Fun fact to know and tell: Almost all fitness functions, as mathematical entities, are algorithmically random. It is meaningless to speak of designing an algorithm for optimization of an algorithmically random function f — there’s no regularity in f to exploit in design. Furthermore, almost all algorithms for sequential optimization of f correspond to decision trees that are algorithmically random, and there’s no useful sense in which they are designed. Thus it is doubly fallacious to infer merely from the high performance of an algorithm in optimizing f that it was designed for f.

  188. StephenB @186,

    [Torornto]—”Please show us step by step, how the designer put together the first life form.”

    [StephenB] ID doesn’t claim to know. This is news to you?

    But students need to know.

    That’s why we’re in the lab trying to determine processes so that we have something to teach in a classroom.

    While I’m not claiming you need to know everything absolutely from the get-go, you have to have some form of framework to build on.

    If you don’t work at trying to find out, what will you teach them?

    If evolution is removed as a subject of study, something must replace it.

    You can’t leave a void so you have no choice but to go in a lab and find the processes that resulted in what you call designed life.

    Until you have a process ready to teach, we have the only available option.

  189. [Toronto]—”Since it is design work and we humans design things all the time, it should be easy for you to work backwards and tell us.”

    [StephenB]What makes you think that? Can you work backwards and tell us how an ancient hunter constructed his spear?

    Yes, it’s done all the time.
    Pottery, metal-working, architecture, boat-building, etc., are all studied to find out how ancient cultures functioned.

  190. Sooner, the only place I have heard the use of fitness function is in this video around the 7:00 minute mark:

    Mathematically Defining Functional Information In Molecular Biology – Kirk Durston – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995236

    Durston states that the fitness function itself falls under the Szostak equation and if it exceeds the functional information capable to be generated by Inat (UPB) then that it also must be made up by Intelligence. Or as Abel states (paraphrase) “there is a monstrous ravine that divides the material processes of the universe from the functional information we find encoded within life.”

  191. toronto states,

    “If (neo-Darwinian) evolution is removed as a subject of study, something must replace it.”

    Hey toronto I have a novel idea, let’s replace it with the truth.

    starting with:

    i.e. all beneficial adaptations of a sub-species away from a parent species will always come at a cost of the optimal functional information that was originally encoded in the parent species genome.

  192. bornagain77 @191,

    Hey toronto I have a novel idea, let’s replace it with the truth.

    starting with:

    i.e. all beneficial adaptations of a sub-species away from a parent species will always come at a cost of the optimal functional information that was originally encoded in the parent species genome.

    Why don’t we replace it with an ID theory based on this:

    bornagain77 @184,
    “In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results.”

  193. 193
    Sooner Emeritus

    BiPed,

    Bias? Read your own “evidence”:

    The semiotic arrangement of cytosine-thymine-adenine in DNA results in the addition of Leucine during protein synthesis. [emphasis added]

    Now that’s what I’d call a theory-laden observation.

    People working in machine learning know, as a result of mathematical analysis, that inductive learning requires bias. Scientific learning is predominately inductive, and the most famous of its biases is the principle of parsimony (Occam’s razor): “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.”

    If we interpret communal observations — what all observers agree to have seen — as directly and simply as possible — in a way that leads to consensus, rather than endless poking of one another in the chest — what we may say of some observed entities is that they look as though people might have made them. We, together, have seen people make things, but we have never seen an immaterial intelligence make anything. “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.”

    The question of whether something that looks human-made was in fact made by something human-like (i.e., something with a material body) is in the purview of public science. Note that I have not ruled out the possibility of eventually explaining humans in terms of more than material. But no communally observed maker is without a material body.

    Here’s a question I genuinely want you to answer: How did the notion of “unembodied intelligence” make its way into ID theory? I say again that there’s no way to understand ID theory without reference to its origin. Clearly a science in which humans are conscious and creative would not satisfy IDers. Their “renewal” of science is a failure unless it makes room for the incorporeal to act in nature.

    Explaining nature in terms of incorporeal cause clearly gains us nothing in prediction and control. A number of IDers want science to “tell the truth” about the incorporeal, however. If you are one of them, please explain how to build consensus among scientists, who have found it quite useful to resist multiplying entities unnecessarily, that such things exist. (Poking people in the chest is not consensus-building.)

  194. 194
    Sooner Emeritus

    Upright BiPed (169):

    DNA is an encoded abstraction of the organism.

    Hardly. Reproduction is transmission of a cell, and not just transmission of DNA. The mitochondria of a cell, essential to survival, are not encoded in the DNA. They are transmitted directly in reproduction. In multicellular, sexually reproducing organisms, differential deposition of chemicals in the ovum largely determines the body plan of the offspring. Transcripts of DNA regulate the deposition, but there’s not an abstract representation of the body plan in the DNA.

    DNA uses the semiotic rules and context of language in order to store and transfer data

    DNA does not use anything. It is more-or-less chemically inert. That is what makes it good for…

    DNA has an unquestionable purpose.

    It serves as a durable store of data. It is used, not using. The majority of transcripts are not translated, so your linguistic model is irrelevant to much of what goes on in the genetic regulatory network (a misnomer). Perhaps there was no translation at all in an early stage of life.

    DNA is undeniably the plan of an organism

    The falsity of this is particularly evident in bacteria reproducing by fission. A bacterium grows big, and splits into two smaller bacteria. There’s no making according to a “plan” in the DNA.

  195. bornagain77 @ 190

    Hey toronto I have a novel idea, let’s replace it with the truth.

    starting with:

    i.e. all beneficial adaptations of a sub-species away from a parent species will always come at a cost of the optimal functional information that was originally encoded in the parent species genome.

    That sounds like a plan. So why don’t you start us off.

    First, tell us what you mean by “truth”, preferably in your own words, not through references to other articles or videos.

    Second, Tell us what you mean by “information”, again preferably in your own words.

    Third, what reasons are there for thinking that information is a property of the genome?

    Fourth, assuming that information of some sort is present in the genome, what reasons are there for thinking that in the parental genome is optimal?

    Fifth, what reasons are there for thinking that all beneficial adaptations are at the cost of parental information?

  196. I have a better idea seversky, why don’t you falsify Abel’s null hypothesis so as to give evolution a empirical basis to be considered scientifically valid at all.

  197. I have a theory about why some people just won’t get it. For myself, I have too much respect for reality, being the true blue coward (and selfish bstrd) that I am, to want to know anything other than what is actually true.

    But some people, you know who you are, persist in rejecting reason to a, well, unreasonable degree. I think there must be a mental cancer that is analogous to physical cancer.

    If one detects the physical cancer early enough it can be killed and the body can live. But let it go for too long and it’s game over. There is simply nothing that can be done. The damage is too extensive.

    In the same way, I think there is a mental version of this. At some point the rejection of reason, the mental cancer, becomes untreatable. There are no sound arguments that will cure this. There isn’t enough data in the world, apparently, to cure this. It’s painful to watch, though. I can tell you that.

  198. tgpeeler-

    It seems to me that atheism/materialism is largely an emotional position. Perhaps reason is the wrong tactic here.

  199. toronto you asked for reproducible results, frankly toronto every experiment ever conducted is proof of intelligent design since to conduct an experiment you must have faith that there is an underlying order to be discovered, This faith in a “hidden order to be discovered”, whether admitted to or not by a practitioner of science, arises from the Theistic worldview and not from the materialistic worldview since the materialistic world, by necessity, has chaos built into its premise.

  200. Phaedros – that does have explanatory power… :-)
    Because how can one NOT KNOW???

  201. @bornagain #195

    -”toronto you asked for reproducible results, frankly toronto every experiment ever conducted is proof of intelligent design since to conduct an experiment you must have faith that there is an underlying order to be discovered, This faith in a “hidden order to be discovered”, whether admitted to or not by a practitioner of science, arises from the Theistic worldview and not from the materialistic worldview since the materialistic world, by necessity, has chaos built into its premise”

    And the Truth shall set you free. :)

  202. Onlookers (And Seversky, with BA)

    With Seversky at 191, we have plainly now reached reductio ad absurdum for the evolutionary materialists.

    Let us take up his five questions:

    1] Sev, 191: First, tell us what you mean by “truth”, preferably in your own words, not through references to other articles or videos.

    Of course, Aristotle long ago aptly summed up what the truth is, in Metaphysics 1011b:

    TRUTH: THAT WHICH SAYS OF WHAT IS, THAT IT IS, AND OF WHAT IS NOT, THAT IT IS NOT.

    Most of us learned that lesson for life the first time we were smacked by our parents for fibbing to get out of trouble.

    But, as Mr Arrington pointed out in the original post, the radical relativism rooted in the impacts of evolutionary materialist worldviews denigrates truth in favour of competing, rhetorically manipulative narratives.

    So, when you hate and dismiss the truth, that tells us all that we need to know. For, reality is the wall that you smack into when you are stubbornly wrong.

    2] Second, Tell us what you mean by “information”, again preferably in your own words.

    Notice the ever so telling scare-quotes.

    This is a case of stubborn refusal to acknowledge the relevance of what has been sitting in our handy dandy UD short glossary of key terms all along, courtesy Wikipedia in the guise of an admission against interest, and that has been cited as apt already:

    [information:] “ . . that which would be communicated by a message if it were sent from a sender to a receiver capable of understanding the message . . . . In terms of data, it can be defined as a collection of facts [i.e. as represented or sensed in some format] from which conclusions may be drawn [and on which decisions and actions may be taken].”

    In short, information is the substance found in messages, and has a use in making decisions, including automatically programmed ones. It is typicfally expressed as symbols used according to rules, such as those for text in English and for the underlying ASCII code used to put up text in comments appearing in this blog thread; including those of Seversky.

    Very similar strings of symbols are also of course found in DNA, mRNA and tRNA, most familiarly in the form of patterns of three-letter genetic codons, used in the manufacture of proteins.

    As this video that Sev et al tellingly repeatedly refuse to respond to, shows.

    3] Third, what reasons are there for thinking that information is a property of the genome?

    H’mm, what about the just linked video summary? The codon table — again so often linked and so often willfully ignored as inconvenient truth — that sets out the rules for starting protein manufacture, for translating DNA or RNA symbol sequences into successive amino acids of a protein, then stopping when it is complete? The resulting informational, functional set of protein molecules that carry out so much of the cell level functions of life?

    4] Fourth, ASSUMING that information of some sort is present in the genome, what reasons are there for thinking that in the parental genome is optimal?

    See that key word, “assuming”?

    In short, after 60 years of DNA studies, Sev cannot bring himself to face the reality of the digital code based information in the DNA.

    That is utterly telling, and sad.

    And, on the issue of optimality of the observed code of life, he might want to look here in my always linked notes for a quick 101.

    5] Fifth, what reasons are there for thinking that all beneficial adaptations are at the cost of parental information?

    Sev of course leaves out some significant context and discussion. We are discussing here the OBSERVED mutations that confer some benefits, and which are often highlighted as a proof of how random mutations can create benefits that are then selected for by environmental pressures.

    As the classic example of the mutation that triggers sickle cell anaemia shows, these are overwhelmingly a matter of breakdowns of function, and loss of functional genetic information, but which under certain circumstances are relatively advantageous.

    What has NOT been shown, is that chance genetic variations are realistically capable of introducing new body plans, the foundation of macroevolutionary claims. (As I had to point out yesterday, the tendency to speak of “natural selection” begs the question of where the genetic information and phenotypes came from to select from. Chance — undirected — variation is the only answer permitted by evolutionary materialists.

    But they have yet to show us a case that supports the idea that 10′s to 100′s of millions of bits worth of info [2 bits per base pair] could credibly be added to a primitive unicellular ancestral life form dozens of ties over, to from the major body plans in the fossil record of the Cambrian and onward up to today’s world.

    Without the chance variation credibly creating novel function, there is no basis for environmental pressures preserving “favoured races” in Darwin’s “struggle for life.” Worse, given that body plans are expressed early in embryological development and require co-ordinated changes across many characteristics, we have no good reason to infer that chance variation is capable of creating enough functional infor4maiton to land us at the shores of islands of function in the configuration space of the DNA sequences, which are vastly beyond the reach of random walks on the scope of the observed universe. Until you have at least primitive function for a new organ, limb or body plan, there is nothing for environmental pressures to select from.

    No wonder, then, that after 150 years of diligent search, over 1/4 million fossil species and millions of specimens, the fossil record still does not support Darwin’s picture of a smoothly varying pattern of body plans in the tree of life as he imagined it from 1837 on. Instead — despite 150 years of often repeated headlines on missing links — the record consistently shows sudden appearances, stasis of basic form, and disappearance and/or continuation into the modern world. (The coelecanth shows that disappearance for an inferred dozens of millions of years is consistent with being present in the modern world.)

    ____________

    In short, we clearly see the patterns of a priori evolutionary materialism, with rings of rhetorical fences designed to fend off unwelcome realities.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  203. kairosfocus @202. Very Nice!

  204. kairosfocus @ 202

    With Seversky at 191, we have plainly now reached reductio ad absurdum for the evolutionary materialists.

    For many onlookers, preferable to the argumentum Lewontin ad nauseam I think.

    1] Sev, 191: First, tell us what you mean by “truth”, preferably in your own words, not through references to other articles or videos.

    Of course, Aristotle long ago aptly summed up what the truth is, in Metaphysics 1011b:

    TRUTH: THAT WHICH SAYS OF WHAT IS, THAT IT IS, AND OF WHAT IS NOT, THAT IT IS NOT.

    [...]

    But, as Mr Arrington pointed out in the original post, the radical relativism rooted in the impacts of evolutionary materialist worldviews denigrates truth in favour of competing, rhetorically manipulative narratives.

    So, when you hate and dismiss the truth, that tells us all that we need to know. For, reality is the wall that you smack into when you are stubbornly wrong.

    We appear to agree that there is an objective reality beyond each of us whose existence is not dependent on our being aware of it. We appear to agree that truth, per Aristotle, lies in our words. It subsists in the extent to which our claims or narratives about that reality correspond to what we can observe.

    The data we have gathered about the world thus far is incomplete. We try to make sense of the fragments we have by constructing explanatory frameworks – stories, narratives, hyptheses, theories, what you will – into which they are fitted. If the data is sparse, yes, it will admit of a number of competing explanations but it is one of the tasks of science to try to decide between them. That there can be a number of narratives is not a failure but is both a measure of our ignorance and a means of reducing it.

    Truth is not so easy to come by if you have to find it out for yourself. That is why atheists, far from hating it, value it so highly. What they hate, to put it bluntly, is when some religious group tries to assert a claim that their truth is the only truth based on a compilation of incongruous narratives culled from ancient texts of dubious historicity whose authority depends entirely on a God whose existence cannot be substantiated.

    In short, information is the substance found in messages, and has a use in making decisions, including automatically programmed ones. It is typicfally expressed as symbols used according to rules, such as those for text in English and for the underlying ASCII code used to put up text in comments appearing in this blog thread; including those of Seversky.

    Information has a number of different meanings. The most common refers to that which is exchanged between intelligent agents through the medium of a shared language such as we are doing now. The question is, however, what exactly do we mean by information?

    In a previous post I drew on an example from an article by Richard Dawkins in which he was discussing the Shannon meaning of information. The example was of a telegram sent from the UK to a recipient in the US advising that the author would be arriving at JFK in New York on a Concorde flight at a certain time and on a certain date. I used the example to make a slightly different point about information:

    I understand from the illustration about the Concorde flight how a message can be stripped down to its bare essentials in terms of information and that Shannon expressed this in a mathematical form in which the meaning was irrelevant but what, exactly, is information?

    The question I asked myself is this, the message about the Concorde flight would have told the recipient something they didn’t know before, namely, when and where the traveller’s flight was due to arrive. But suppose the sender was uncertain whether the message had been received so sent it again just to be safe, would it still contain information? Suppose the recipient had read the first message, they would no longer be surprised or informed by the second message, yet it was exactly the same as the first, so what is the information it contained?

    It seems to me that information is not so much a property of the message as it is a description of the relationship between the message and the recipient or, more precisely, the change the message causes in the state of the recipient. In a sense, it’s a process rather than an attribute. In the case of the Concorde flight message, the first one changed the state of the recipient by adding new knowledge, the second did nothing because the knowledge was already there.

    This meaning of information, that it subsists in the effect or change produced in the mind of an intelligent observer by incoming sensory data, has the advantage that it can encompass the information observers are able to abstract from natural systems such as weather or tree-rings or rock strata. What we are describing is not an attribute of the observed system but a consequence of the observation of the system. Inasmuch as it resides anywhere, it is in the mind of the observer rather than the observed.

    This is why I believe it is misleading to treat information, certainly in the sense I have described above, as a property of the genome. What we observe in our genes are process and function, unquestionably highly complex and ordered, but nothing that contains meaning sent by an intelligent sender to inform an intelligent recipient because, as far as we know, there is neither. Yes, we can abstract a great deal of information by observing the genome and, yes, we can see analogies between processes in the genes and properties of human technology but they are not sufficient for us to infer that our genes contain information that must have been placed there by an intelligent designer.

    Sev of course leaves out some significant context and discussion. We are discussing here the OBSERVED mutations that confer some benefits, and which are often highlighted as a proof of how random mutations can create benefits that are then selected for by environmental pressures.

    As the classic example of the mutation that triggers sickle cell anaemia shows, these are overwhelmingly a matter of breakdowns of function, and loss of functional genetic information, but which under certain circumstances are relatively advantageous.

    Describing mutations as “breakdowns of function” reveals a classic misunderstanding of random mutation and natural selection. The mutation in the hemoglobin gene which causes sickle cell disease is an iconic illustration of how the same mutation can be beneficial or detrimental according to the environmental context. In the absence of malaria it is detrimental but where malaria is endemic it confers a degree of resistance to the disease which is beneficial.

    Mutations certainly can be harmful by crippling or disabling an important function and, given that there are many ways for some thing to go wrong but only one or perhaps a few ways for things to go right, they are the more common. But it is also possible, although far less frequent, for a mutation to add a new function whose advantages outweigh the partial or complete loss of a previous function which was no longer so useful. If you add in the possibility of copying errors and duplications then we have potential sources of new functions

    No wonder, then, that after 150 years of diligent search, over 1/4 million fossil species and millions of specimens, the fossil record still does not support Darwin’s picture of a smoothly varying pattern of body plans in the tree of life as he imagined it from 1837 on. Instead — despite 150 years of often repeated headlines on missing links — the record consistently shows sudden appearances, stasis of basic form, and disappearance and/or continuation into the modern world. (The coelecanth shows that disappearance for an inferred dozens of millions of years is consistent with being present in the modern world.)

    Darwin emphasized the gradual, incremental nature of evolution through natural selection in part because he needed to persuade his 19th century audience that great changes could be wrought by many small steps given sufficient time. Nonetheless, he also acknowledged that it need not proceed always at the same rate, that there could be short periods of rapid change interspersed with long periods of stasis or very little change, a concept that was later taken up and expanded on by Gould and Eldredge to account for unevenness in the fossil record.

    In short, we clearly see the patterns of a priori evolutionary materialism, with rings of rhetorical fences designed to fend off unwelcome realities.

    Reality is only unwelcome where it contradicts a cherished but ultimately false belief about the world. The fossil record may be more unwelcome to ID proponents and creationists because it provides better evidence for evolution than it does for their beliefs.

    The slightly odd thing is why so many believers have such a problem with materialism when it is clear to all but solipsists that there is a material reality out there, even if it is not all there is, and, if their God exists, then He created that material reality which makes it a proper subject of investigation by Christian scientists and not to be denied.

  205. Seversky:

    Perhaps the most telling point in your remark just above is:

    The slightly odd thing is why so many believers have such a problem with materialism when it is clear to all but solipsists that there is a material reality out there, even if it is not all there is . . .

    That there is a material reality is plain and indeed self-evident; that the world of matter-energy, space-time and the four forces is ALL there is is a self-referentially incoherent and amoral philosophical assertion.

    The two ought not to be confused.

    And, in fact most of the major domains of modern science were founded by those who were practising science in theistic frames of thought, the list being headed by men like Copernicus and Newton.

    Now, on other points of note:

    1 –> You will observe that the very first warranted, credibly true fact of reality that I typically cite is that error exists. This is undeniably true on pain of immediate reductio ad absurdum, and entails that knowable truth exists. It also implies that we need to have an open-mindedness about our overall systems of thought.

    2 –> DNA, as a coded, informational macromolecule stores functional linguistic algorithmic information [which goes beyond what strictly we should call information storing capacity, which is what Shannon's paper focussed on]. As such it is well beyond the credible reach of chance on the gamut of our observed cosmos, and strongly points to intelligence as the source of life and major body plans.

    3 –> The fossil record shows appearance, stasis, disappearance and/or continuity intot he mod3ern world, as its overwhelming pattern. This is inconsistent with any reasonable gradualist view of origins, and even with punctuated equlibria models as the vast number of transitionals that would have had to have happened if life and biodiversity came about largely by chance variation plus natural selection should be such as to dominate the fossil record. Obviously, such do not, and so punctuarted equilibria is in effect an ad hoc patch to explain why the predicted evidence was not found. More and more epicycles to patch holes point to a degenrative paradigm.

    4 –> Natural selection, as was pointed out step by step above, is a probabilistic culler of existing bio-information, not an information generator. It eliminates the genetic info held by the “less fit,” it does not innovate. The source of novel functional bio-information — as a highly contingent outcome — chance mutations (etc) and/or intelligence. Chance has no credible capacity to searchthe config spac es specified by first life and/or novel body plans, on the gamut of our observed universe. So, design is the best explanation of such FSCI in life forms.

    5 –> Overwhelmingly, observed mutations that have effects cause loss of bio-information and breakdown of function. Sickle cell trait is a capital example, as the health authorities all across the Caribbean know full well. And when it gets to the full anaemia, it is an outright killer. Under the pressure of endemic malaria parasites, it may have selection advantages in a population, but it certainly is not adding novel and improved function. Much the same holds across the many mutations that are known to have a significant impact.

    6 –> Finally, unless you can show credible empirical cases of body plan level innovations caused by chance variation mechanisms, the best explanation for body plan level biodiversity remains the only observationally known source of functionally specific complex information: intelligence. And, the presence of FSCI in the heart of the living cell therefore strongly points to life as the product of such intelligence.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  206. The real killer for Darwinian evolution or any naturalistic process as a valid theory for life changes over times is as kairosfocus points out the lack of confirmatory information. The fossil record is not the only data base that is empty. The genome record is also bare.

    Where do we see all the arguments for Darwinian processes in the accumulation of new patterns in genomes over time. Where did all these tens of thousands of unique proteins come from? How did they assemble over time? Where are all the pathways and dead ends that must exist if the process was indeed random? How did all the complex control networks arise that control the higher level activities of complex organisms? So while the fossil record is fallow so is the genomic records showing all the pathways leading from simple to more complex capabilities. You would expect some, but none.

    I say none because if there were at least one does anyone think we would not be overwhelmed by the Darwinists touting just this one single example

  207. Overnight:

    I should add that Seversky’s persistent inability to hold a balanced view of the Judaeo-Christian tradition and its contribution to our civilisation is sadly telling.

    Observe, again, how — even after warnings and corrections –he apparently simply cannot bring himself to acknowledge the force or many positive contributions over the long centuries of the actual core moral teachings as cited above.

    I suggest that onlookers may find it profitable to look at Vox Day’s The Irrational Atheist, to begin to understand what is driving that patent hostility of the so-called new Atheism; and where, on long sad history, it will end if it prevails in our civilisation.

    Plato spotted it 2,300 years ago, in The Laws, bk X, and every time we forget the warning on what destroyed Athens and where it ends: might makes right, we get our fingers burned yet again.

    And in trying to get onlookers to dismiss the inadvertent warning of Lewontin on he implications of imposing a priori evolutionary materialism under false colours of science [by today's magisterium in lab coats], this is the threat of atheocracy that Seversky would distract us from:

    Sagan’s argument is straightforward. We exist as material beings in a material world, all of whose phenomena are the consequences of physical relations among material entities. The vast majority of us do not have control of the intellectual apparatus needed to explain manifest reality in material terms, so in place of scientific (i.e., correct material) explanations, we substitute demons . . . . 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. [NYRB, Jan 1997.]

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  208. PS; Pardon some unexplained cross threading. Cf exchanges from 34 on here.

  209. 209

    Wow, you really, really love that Lewontin quote, don’t you?

  210. As if Lewontin somehow was the spokesperson for all of science, and that one sentence by one person somehow was the definitive and binding position for everyone.

    However, I notice that when people offer quotes by Johnson or Dembski or Wells or others about how ID is about proving that “‘In the beginning was the Word’ is as true scientifically as it is Biblically”, we get all sorts of replies about context, and about the difference between science and personal opinions about metaphysics.

    So there’s a double standard here, I think.

  211. DS and Aleta:

    Can you show that the quote is substantially incorrect, or that it is not the case that the evolutionary materialism it highlights does not in fact shape a lot of what goes on in the name of origins science, including by say the US National Academy of Sciences?

    The same NS who in their 2008 version of their booklet on Creastionism said . . .

    In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. Any scientific explanation has to be testable — there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it. Unless a proposed explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially count against it, that explanation cannot be subjected to scientific testing. [US NAS, Science, Evolution and Creationism, 2008, p. 10 Emphases added.]

    . . . adroitly side-stepping, strawmannising and using loaded language to demonise the real alternative to chance and mechanical necessity that is scientifically studied: ART-ificial causes, i.e. intelligent ones and the reliable empirical traces they often leave behind.

    In short, even so august a body as the NAS is here seen setting up and knocking over a convenient creationist strawman; in attempted defence of what is plainly exactly the a priori evolutionary materialism Lewontin described.

    In short, if something says the revealing truth very well, it is entirely in order to use it to make the point. Especially when the point is an inconvenient truth that all too many are so plainly wanting to duck.

    And, BTW, here is Johnson’s reply to Lewontin, Nov 1997:

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

    . . . .   The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    ________________

    So, we can chalk the last couple of remarks down to trying to dismiss the significance of what plainly cannot be addressed and truly justified on the merits: Lewontin let the a priori materialism cat out of the bag labelled “science.”

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  212. PS: Aleta you need to read the weak argument correctives on the quotes you want to cite as though they are substantially parallel to the above, e.g. the well known logos theology cite. I think that by now materialists should be embarrassed by the abusive quote mining that such rhetorical tactics represent. Your turnabout, immoral equivalency rhetorical attempt fails.

  213. PPS: WAC 7:

    [WEAK OBJECTION:] 7] Because William Dembski once commented that the design patterns in nature are consistent with the “logos theology” of the Bible, he unwittingly exposed his intentions to do religion in the name of science

    [CORRECTION:] In general, personal beliefs and personal views about the general nature of reality (be they religious, atheistic, or of any kind) should not be considered directly relevant to what scientists say and do in their specific scientific work: that’s a very simple rule of intellectual respect and democracy, and it simply means that nobody can impose a specific model of reality on others, and on science itself.

    Moreover, Dembski is qualified as a theologian and a philosopher-scientist-mathematician (one of a long and distinguished tradition), so he has a perfect right to comment seriously on intelligent design from both perspectives.

    Further to this, the quote in question comes from a theologically oriented book in which Dembski explores the “theological implications” of the science of intelligent design. Such theological reframing of a scientific theory and/or its implications is not the same thing as the theory itself, even though each may be logically consistent with the other. Dembski’s point, of course, was that truth is unified, so we shouldn’t be surprised that theological truths confirm scientific truths and vice versa.

    Also, Dembski’s reference to John 1:1 ff. underscores how a worldview level or theological claim may have empirical implications, and is thus subject to empirical test.

    For, in that text, the aged Apostle John put into the heart of foundational era Christian thought, the idea that Creation is premised on Rational Mind and Intelligent Communication/Information. Now, after nineteen centuries, we see that — per empirical observation — we evidently do live in a cosmos that exhibits fine-tumed, function-specifying complex information as a premise of facilitating life, and cell-based life is also based on such functional, complex, and specific information, e.g in DNA.

    Thus, theological truth claims here line up with subsequent empirical investigation:a risky empirical prediction has been confirmed by the evidence. (Of course, had it been otherwise – and per track record — many of the same critics would have pounced on the “scientific facts” as a disconfirmation. So, why then is it suddenly illegitimate for Christians to point out from scientific evidence, that on this point their faith has passed a significant empirical test?)

  214. From the “weak objections:”
    “In general, personal beliefs and personal views about the general nature of reality (be they religious, atheistic, or of any kind) should not be considered directly relevant to what scientists say and do in their specific scientific work: that’s a very simple rule of intellectual respect and democracy, and it simply means that nobody can impose a specific model of reality on others, and on science itself.”

    I basically agree with this, and disagree with Lewontin if his quote means that science as a whole (as opposed to Lewontin’s personal belief) proceeds from an a priori commitment to philosophical materialism. However the NAS statement does not say that – it just says that science as a working enterprise explains the natural world in terms of other naturally occurring phenomena, because that is the only way to have testable explanations that are not based on philosophical speculations.

    As you yourself recently wrote (I can’t find the quote), that which cannot be investigated by empirical observation is nothing but metaphysical speculation, which is all the NAS statement is saying.

    For me, limiting science to searching for natural explanations is not because of an a priori commitment to materialism, but rather to an a posteriori conclusion that such a limitation works in a way that investigating additional metaphysical speculations doesn’t.

    Lewontin is a philosophical materialist. Most scientists are not. Continually quoting Lewontin as if his personal views are a statement binding on all scientists, or all of science, is wrong. As the correction quote says, “nobody can impose a specific model of reality on others, and on science itself,” and that goes for Lewontin. However, science has been seeking natural explanations for a lot longer than Lewontin has been around, and science doesn’t do so because of an a priori commitment to philosophical materialism, but rather to an a posteriori reasoned consensual conclusion over the centuries that such an approach works very well within the scope of its domain. It is useful to understand this distinction.

  215. Aleta:

    I am glad that when Lewonting put the a priori materialism baldly, you see that such an a priori imposition is ultra vires.

    However, the NAS is simply being subtler; knowing full well that as Aristotle said ever so long ago, enthymemes [which leave certain terms in an argument implicit] are ever more convincing rhetorically than a baldly stated argument. To see that, let’s draw out some implications of your rephrasing of their assertion:

    the NAS statement . . . just says that science as a working enterprise explains the natural world in terms of other naturally occurring phenomena, because that is the only way to have testable explanations that are not based on philosophical speculations.

    As you yourself recently wrote (I can’t find the quote), that which cannot be investigated by empirical observation is nothing but metaphysical speculation, which is all the NAS statement is saying . . .

    1 –> Notice the emphasis? The two highlighted phrases are not at all equivalent.

    2 –> For instance, posts in this thread are capable of being subjected to “empirical observation.” When we do so, we will see that a characteristic sign of such posts is functionally specific, complex information, tracing to the action of ART, i.e, intelligence.

    3 –> Now, there is a certain science known as Information Theory, that investigates such functional, information bearing symbol strings, which in a very important sense are not “natural phenomena,” nor are they properly explicable only in terms of “other naturally occurring phenomena.” As, they can be explained in terns of art and its empirically reliable signs.

    4 –> Indeed, in information theory, signal to noise ratio — a key concept — is based on precisely our ability to routinely distinguish noise caused by random chance and mechanical necessity, from signals caused by intelligent action.

    5 –> And, we routinely do so on “empirically observable” signs that we often build in to the signals when we code them, using controlled redundancy techniques. (BTW, the doubling up of DNA is useful for error correction, on similar principles.)

    6 –> More broadly, in a lot of scientific experimental work, we routinely distinguish the lawlike natural regularity we may be investigating, from the random statistical scatter caused by any number of disturbance, from bias caused by experiment design. And, if we did not, we would have serious problems with accuracy and precision in scientific work.

    7 –> In short, it is routine in science to distinguish causes that are natural [tracing to chance and mechanical necessity] from causes that are artificial, i.e intelligent.

    8 –> So, pardon a few direct words: the NAS is not being straight with us. They know, or should know that it is simply not the case that in science we are locked up to explaining natural effects by natural causes only; nor are natural phenomena or causes the only empirically observable or repeatable ones.

    9 –> What is happening, is that when we look at the world as a going operational concern, we are often interested in discovering the natural and statistical regularities and dynamics that occur, which do trace from natural effects to natural causes.

    10 –> But, when we are studying origins, we are looking at causal histories, and such histories are matters of inference to best explanation on known causal patterns and their empirically reliable traces. (An accidental fire quite often has different signs from arson, for instance, and arson convictions on circumstantial evidence are based on the contrast in patterns.)

    11 –> What the NAS has unfortunately done is to inject a censoring constraint, often termed “methodological naturalism” — but boiling down to metaphysical a priori naturalism by the back door, that prevents scientific investigations of origins from freely seeking the truth about the past based on empirical signs of different causal factors at work.

    12 –> For instance, we see an implicit a priori ban on examining DNA and explaining it in light of the only directly and routinely observed cause of coded, digital, algorithmic functional complex information: art. Design thinkers look at the empirically well warranted point that such complex, functionally specific information is a reliable sign of design, and make the obvious inference, However, that just might allow Lewontin’s dreaded “Divine Foot” in the door, so it is controversial beyond what would otherwise be a no brainer inference.

    13 –> So, NAS is subtler, but what hey are doing is in effect what Lewontin said in pretty plain words:

    Sagan’s argument is straightforward. We exist as material beings in a material world, all of whose phenomena are the consequences of physical relations among material entities. The vast majority of us do not have control of the intellectual apparatus needed to explain manifest reality in material terms, so in place of scientific (i.e., correct material) explanations, we substitute demons . . . . Most of the chapters of The Demon-Haunted World are taken up with exhortations to the reader to cease whoring after false gods and to accept the scientific method as the unique pathway to a correct understanding of the natural world. To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality . . . . 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. [NYRB, 1997]

    14 –> Of course, first, the claim that science puts us in touch with reality and the linked claim that science is the “only begetter of truth,” are metaphysical claims, not scientific claims, i.e. we see yet again the self-referentially incoherent nature of evolutionary materialism. And,that which is self-contradictory like that cannot ever be “self-evident.” (But if you believe and think in a circle of thought, it may lead you to think that it is self-evident when it is actually just question-begging.)

    15 –> Likewise, it is to be established on evidence — not assumed at he outset of investigation or imposed by subtle rules that censor out inconvenient causal explanations — that “[w]e exist as material beings in a material world, all of whose phenomena are the consequences of physical relations among material entities.” (In fact, this is the credo of materialism!)

    16 –> Philosophers and historians of science, on long investigation, will tell us that there is no one universal unique “scientific method,” and insofar as we may construct a crude generic description of scientific methods as a collective, it is by no means clear and indisputable that “the scientific method as the unique pathway to a correct understanding of the natural world.” (Compare the all too revealing assertions and threats made by the NAS and NSTA to the Kansas Board of Education in 2005, here. This letter makes the a priori materialism being imposed by the NAS acting as magisterium in lab coats, starkly plain.)

    17 –> Nor is it at all a given that “it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality”; where we note that the argument was premised on the question-begging assertion that “[w]e exist as material beings in a material world.” That is patent question-begging, and sadly it is question begging that is backed by the US NAS and “all but a few scientists.”

    18 –> Remember: here, Lewontin speaks as the Agassiz professor at Harvard, on the predominant views of the members of his profession. A claim that is in fact backed by statistical studies on the worldviews of eminent American Scientists, including surveys of the membership of the NAS. (In short, Lewontin, a Marxist [similar to his colleague Gould], is describing the partyline ideology of a power elite class.)

    19 –> And so, we see the naked agenda: 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.

    _________________

    I contrast to this a modest proposal. Namely, science, at its best is an unfettered (but intellectually and ethically responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, in light of observation, experiment, theorising explanations, logico-mathematical analysis and free but mutually respectful discussion among the informed.

    Time for a revolution!

    (Science is far too important to be left to ideologised elites with agendas.)

    GEM of TKI

  216. kairosfocus @b 205

    That there is a material reality is plain and indeed self-evident; that the world of matter-energy, space-time and the four forces is ALL there is is a self-referentially incoherent and amoral philosophical assertion.

    All we have observed thus far is a “world of matter-energy, space-time and the four forces”. For all Plantinga’s metaphysical contortions, the science and technology we have developed founded on the materialistic or naturalistic assumption has proven to be far more successful than any alternative. The amorality of science is irrelevant since it is investigating what is not what should be.

    And, in fact most of the major domains of modern science were founded by those who were practising science in theistic frames of thought, the list being headed by men like Copernicus and Newton.

    Yes, we know, that has already been acknowledged. They believed the were exploring and revealing God’s creation but what you have not acknowledged is that nowhere in their scientific theories, equations or calculations is there any reference to the immaterial or God or angels.

    1 –> You will observe that the very first warranted, credibly true fact of reality that I typically cite is that error exists. This is undeniably true on pain of immediate reductio ad absurdum, and entails that knowable truth exists.

    The existence of error does not necessarily entail the existence of knowable truth. If I am playing a game of darts and I miss the board on one throw, that is an error – an error of execution or function – but it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a knowable truth.

    What we have already agreed, however, is that there is beyond each of us an objective reality whose existence is not dependent on our awareness of it. We believe we can learn about it but what is not clear is the extent of the knowledge we can acquire.

    2 –> DNA, as a coded, informational macromolecule stores functional linguistic algorithmic information [which goes beyond what strictly we should call information storing capacity, which is what Shannon's paper focussed on].

    I disagree. There is function and process in the genome but information, in the commonly-accepted sense, exists only in the mind of the observer. That we can model what happens in the genome using information theory does not, in itself, warrant an inference that there is a message which implies an intelligent sender intended for an intelligent recipient expressed in a common language, for example.

    3 –> The fossil record shows appearance, stasis, disappearance and/or continuity intot he mod3ern world, as its overwhelming pattern.

    Darwin himself, as has already been noted, allowed for great variations in the rate of gradual change. The fossil record bears that out and the theory of evolution fits that record better than any other model. And “degenerative paradigms” – whatever that might mean – do not make successful predictions such as the location of the Tiktaalik fossils.

    4 –> Natural selection, as was pointed out step by step above, is a probabilistic culler of existing bio-information, not an information generator.

    It was never claimed to be anything else. The source of your new ‘information’ lies in the errors from which you infer knowable truth, namely, mutations, duplications, transpositions and so on. That is what natural selection filters.

    Chance has no credible capacity to searchthe config spac es specified by first life and/or novel body plans, on the gamut of our observed universe. So, design is the best explanation of such FSCI in life forms.

    That claim is based on estimates of probability and methods of calculating same which have been heavily criticized. FCSI is an invented metric which has yet to be shown to measure anything useful, let alone calculated and validated.

    5 –> Overwhelmingly, observed mutations that have effects cause loss of bio-information and breakdown of function. Sickle cell trait is a capital example, as the health authorities all across the Caribbean know full well.

    I hope it will not be necessary to keep repeating this à la Lewontin. Whether a mutation is beneficial, detrimental or neutral depends entirely on the environmental context. Sickle ell disease is unquestionably harmful to its victims in an environment where they are not challenged by malaria. Where malaria is endemic, however, it confers sufficient resistance to the disease that it has persisted in the populations affected.

    Mutations can cause loss of function which can be catastrophic for the organism but, occasionally, as in the case of the nylon-eating Flavobacterium it can add a new function, even if that it is at the expense of some other function.

    The nature of that mutation is interesting to us because of what we can learn from it but you should be very wary about inferring that it was the handiwork of an Intelligent Designer or God because of the implications for free will.

  217. kairosfocus @ 207

    I should add that Seversky’s persistent inability to hold a balanced view of the Judaeo-Christian tradition and its contribution to our civilisation is sadly telling.

    We haven’t been discussing “the Judaeo-Christian tradition and its contribution to our civilisation”. We have been discussing evolution and materialistic or naturalistic science.

    We have not been discussing morality in science but we can if you want. For example, we all agree that rape is an immoral act but does that mean the the psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists and forensic scientists who study it are immoral just because they study it? Do their studies imply that they approve of it? Of course, it doesn’t! Any more than Darwin necessarily approved of what he foresaw happening to the more ‘primitive’ races at the hands of the more “advanced’ ones. Describing something does not imply approval.

  218. Seversky:

    I have just a moment.

    You need to reckon with the inescapable self-referential incoherence of evolutionary materialism, and its resulting inability to ground either a credible mind or morality.

    I doubt that will faze you as you are evidently a committed materialist.

    However, it will be clear to onlookers that you are staring at a reductio ad absurdum and riding it off the cliff into self-referential incoherence and amorality.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  219. —Aleta to kairosfocus: “I basically agree with this, and disagree with Lewontin if his quote means that science as a whole (as opposed to Lewontin’s personal belief) proceeds from an a priori commitment to philosophical materialism. However the NAS statement does not say that – it just says that science as a working enterprise explains the natural world in terms of other naturally occurring phenomena, because that is the only way to have testable explanations that are not based on philosophical speculations.”

    Yes, the NAS statement does say that. It is another way of saying exactly the same thing as Lewontin. “We may not allow a Divine foot in the door” is the exact equivalent to “methodological naturalism,” which rules that scientists “MUST study nature as if nature is all there is.”

    —”For me, limiting science to searching for natural explanations is not because of an a priori commitment to materialism, but rather to an a posteriori conclusion that such a limitation works in a way that investigating additional metaphysical speculations doesn’t.”

    It may be that way “for you,” but it is not that way in fact. The religious commitment to metaphysical naturalism drives the tyrannical set of rules euphemistically labeled, “Methodological Naturalismm,” the purpose of which is to PROTECT the Darwinist paradigm from any semblance of counter evidence. Without that commitment there would be no rule.

    —”Continually quoting Lewontin as if his personal views are a statement binding on all scientists, or all of science, is wrong.”

    I hope kairosfocus continues to use that quote until all interested parties come to understand and acknowledge the facts in evidence.

    Lewontin is speaking honestly for the Darwinist community. I know of no Darwinists who would change or modify the arbitrary and tyrannical rule of methodological naturalism. Do you support the right of an ID researcher to investigate the hypothesis that life was “designed” AS A SCIENTIST. I seriously doubt it.

    —However, science has been seeking natural explanations for a lot longer than Lewontin has been around, and science doesn’t do so because of an a priori commitment to philosophical materialism, but rather to an a posteriori reasoned consensual conclusion over the centuries that such an approach works very well within the scope of its domain. It is useful to understand this distinction.”

    What scientist have been doing for centuries has nothing to do with a 25 year old rule that never existed prior to 1980. Before that time, no one group of scientists EVER presumed to declare which methods were and were not off limits for other scientists.

  220. KF writes, “Aleta: I am glad that when Lewonting put the a priori materialism baldly, you see that such an a priori imposition is ultra vires. … However, the NAS is simply being subtler; …”

    Nope, and it’s not your right to impose your prejudices into the NAS statement. The NAS statement makes reasonable and consensually supported statements about what science is. It does not say that the material world is all there is (which would be philosophical materialism), it just says relationships between different components of the material world is what science can study.

    The rest of your lengthy post is about two points: First you summarize why you think that there is something immaterial about intelligence and information, and that some non-material something called intelligence somehow has functioned and does interact with the material world as a cause. This, however, is not established consensual science. I know it is what you guys fervently believe is the case, but the general opinion in the scientific world is that you haven’t come close to make a convincing case: ID is either philosophy and religion, and thus speculation outside the domain of science, or, to the extent it makes empirical claims about the world, it is wrong. Maybe someday you will convince more people, but as of now, given the pervasive entanglement of ID with religious belief, it will be hard to do that even if there is some way of testing hypotheses about the existence of a non-material cause that can create a material effect.

    And then you bring up Lewontin’s quote again, but since I’m not defending Lewontin I’ll not respond to that.

    And last, kf ends with “Time for a revolution! (Science is far too important to be left to ideologised elites with agendas.)”

    This strains my irony meter a bit: my experience is that generally those who call for a revolution are ideologues with agenda.

  221. Aleta:

    First, recall — as I pointed out — that Agassiz prof Richard Lewontin of Harvard was speaking as a card-carrying member of the scientific elites, and stating his analysis of the dynamics that drive the perceived “self-evident” consensus of “all but a few” of the scientific elites of our age. This, in review of Cornell professor and evolutionary materialism publicist Carl Sagan’s last book, The Demon-haunted World.

    Note especially these remarks:

    To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [which to such materialists is ALL of reality, as Seversky underscored yesterday] . . . .

    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.

    In short, a priori, ideological materialism and anti- supernaturalist prejudice dominate the scientific elites of our day [by utter contrast with say Newton's remarks in his General Scholium to Principia, and Query 31 to Opticks: Newton and other founders of modern science by and large were confident of and saw the intelligible organisation of nature as reflecting the intelligence of its Architect]. Nor is this a surprising or idiosyncratic view; it is supported by surveys of the worldviews and by the actual actions of those elites over the past 25 or so years.

    That is how Lewontin came to hold up the bogeyman of “a Divine Foot” in the door, and it is why the US NAS resorted to such loaded language when they derided “purported forces that are outside of nature.” It also blinded the NAS to the patently plain actual contrast in causal factors that has been immemorial ever since Plato: nature [chance + necessity] vs art [purposeful, skillful intelligence].

    As Stephen pointed out, that which the NAS states subtly, by means of the ideologically censoring implications of the imposed rule of so-called methodological naturalism (one “must” do science as though matter and energy and forces of chance plus mechanical necessity are all that there are) in the context that science is often seen as the premier window on the truth about our world, Lewontin states openly, even baldly. (Awareness of power elite dynamics and resulting exploitations of the marginalised is perhaps the one useful thing that Marxism gives its adherents.)

    In that context, look as how the NAS intervened in Kansas in response to the re-introduction of the more or less traditional, popular level definition of science that:

    “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena”

    . . . which sought to correct the blatantly loaded definition of 2001 championed by the materialists, that “Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations of the world around us.”

    It is a matter of vicious and calculated spin tactics that the corrective to what was truly agenda-loaded was turned in the public’s mind into exactly what Lewontin highlighted as the materialist bogeyman: a Divine Foot in the door.

    And, THAT materialist bigotry is why those who studied science in Kansas under what is in fact pretty much the traditional popular level understanding, were threatened with being black listed as ill educated. For, for ideological materialists, science, rationality, rationalism and materialism — ironically — are seen as one and the same thing.

    So, it is time for a corrective. And, not all revolutions, Aleta are radical. Some are corrective of out of control, destructive radicalism.

    Just ask the Poles and other Eastern Europeans since about 1980.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  222. Seversky:

    First and foremost, I must again correct you.

    You spent several posts above using typical New Atheist rhetoric [which is a recycling of long since past sell-by date traditional outrageous village atheist rhetoric] to try to indict the God of Judaeo-Christian Theism as a genocidal moral monster, and those who follow such a God as “accomplices.”

    As such, it was therefore entirely in order for me to repeatedly correct you by pointing out from the acknowledged main texts the solemnly declared core of Biblical Morality [which at no point have you cogently addressed or assessed in a balanced way], and to call your attention to one of the major texts that shows the attitude of that God to acting in judgement of the nations, namely Jonah 4, where he rebukes his own prophet for want of concern for those who are subject to judgement; even if they are — for horrific reason — the dreaded enemies of his own people who very predictably would within a matter of decades set out on conquest of Israel.

    All this, in defence of the notion that there is no objectively binding morality, that there is no IS that can ground OUGHT,and the pious hope that “we” can find common ground to negotiate a reasonable agreement on what we should do or not do.

    As the descendant of slaves and the spiritual heir of the Gospel-driven reformers who spent fifty years fighting the interests, rhetoric and agendas that propped up that institution, I can only shake my head at your naivete about the games played by morally benumbed, willfully blind power elites who live by the premise that might makes right. (And by the way, one of the first objections to Wilberforce was that things had come to a sad pass in England when considerations of Gospel driven morality were being used to try to shape British policy. Wilberforce’s journal of course summarised his sense of mission, that God had put before him the objectives of breaking the slave trade and reforming the “manners” [i.e. morals] of the British nation.

    The former was the strategic key to breaking slavery as a system, and in pursuit of the latter, he was involved in something like sixty-nine reformation initiatives as leader or eminent sponsor, from child labour, to the treatment of the mentally ill to the Bible Society, to the society for the prevention of cruelty to animals.

    His famous book, A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, in the Middle and Higher Classes in this Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity., will make for interesting reading, even today.

    Seversky, I hope you will now reconsider your intemperate rhetoric.

    GEM of TKI

  223. Seversky:

    There are several matters from your post at 216 that I now wish to address on points.

    In particular, your opening paragraph in reply to my earlier remarks is utterly an inadvertently revealing:

    1] Sev, 216: All WE have observed thus far is a “world of matter-energy, space-time and the four forces” . . .

    And, who are the grand “we” doing the observing, an act on intensional mind, just what evolutionary materialism forbids by its reductionism to matter, energy, space, time and blind forces of necessity and chance?

    In short, you have again failed to address the implications of the self-referential incoherence of evolutionary materialism as it affects the grounding of the credibility of mind. It seems I need to again point out the basic chain of implications [which by the way do not trace to Plantinga, though his own thought is similar]. For, derisory labelling and dismissing do not constitute a cogent reply, but instead a fallacious negative form appeal to authority — tag and dismiss:

    . . . [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. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? And, should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze?

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

    The issue, Seversky, is the chain of cause and underlying forces and factors that you would assume and assert, and its logical consequences. That is what you need to address, and it is what you patently spectacularly ducked behind a cloud of dismissive ad hominems.

    2] the science and technology we have developed founded on the materialistic or naturalistic assumption has proven to be far more successful than any alternative.

    Modern science’s main streams, of course, were founded by men setting out to think God’s thoughts after him, Newton being the chief case in point. You are projecting a latterday coup of ideological materialists unto the founders of science.

    And, the technologies that you would trade on, were based on the intelligent and purposeful application of the forces and materials of nature as a going concern to the needs of humanity. That is, their very complex functional organisation shows how such organisation and associated information are empirically observable, reliable signs of design.

    So, when we turn to questions of origins, thus of attempted historical reconstruction of the roots of our being, we observe similar information rich complex organisation in carbon chemistry, cell based life, and we obse4rve that the cosmos that facilitates such life shows carefully organised fine tuning to do so. These empirically support the inference that life and the cosmos are the products of design.

    3] The amorality of science is irrelevant since it is investigating what is not what should be.

    This is precisely the opposite of the hard lessons delivered by the past century, in which elite scientists, due to the amorality of their a priori materialist worldview commitments, lent the name of science to the agenda of might makes right, and supported horrific behaviour; costing over a hundred millions their lives.

    You may not wish to look too closely at this issue, but I am sure onlookers take due note that evolutionary materialism is amoral, and that amorality is utterly destructive, lending its support tot he agenda that might makes right and that the only practical limit on behaviour is what one can get away with, with the suitably dumbed down and/or intimidated sheeple.

    4] what you have not acknowledged is that nowhere in their scientific theories, equations or calculations is there any reference to the immaterial or God or angels.

    Actually, a read of say Newton’s general Scholium to his Principia — in which he presented his three laws of motion and his law of gravitation, i.e. the is is the most pivotal and indeed revolutionary technical work of modern science — will show that the opposite is the case, as he held that:

    . . . This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being . . . .

    We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause [i.e from his designs]: we admire him for his perfections; but we reverence and adore him on account of his dominion: for we adore him as his servants; and a god without dominion, providence, and final causes, is nothing else but Fate and Nature. Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. [i.e necessity does not produce contingency] All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing. [That is, implicitly rejects chance, Plato's third alternative and explicitly infers to the Designer of the Cosmos.] But, by way of allegory, God is said to see, to speak, to laugh, to love, to hate, to desire, to give, to receive, to rejoice, to be angry, to fight, to frame, to work, to build; for all our notions of God are taken from. the ways of mankind by a certain similitude, which, though not perfect, has some likeness, however. And thus much concerning God; to discourse of whom from the appearances of things, does certainly belong to Natural Philosophy. [In Newton's day, wisely, they understood the process of science to be applied philosophy with a particular eye to epistemological issues of warranting knowledge claims; the resulting well-warranted conclusions were described as knowledge, i.e. scientia in Latin.]

    Had we the wisdom to keep scientists in training in formal touch with the issues of the philosophical, ethical and historical underpinnings of scientific investigation, much of the attempted materialist ideologisation of science would have at once been dismissed as patently absurd and historically ignorant.

    And, of course, Sev, on the content of empirically based scientific investigations, you are diverting attention and appealing to ignorant prejudice.

    For,the proper scientific contrast in our investigations is not natural vs supernatural, but the difference between natural [chance and necessity] and artificial [intelligent] causes. Each of which leaves well known, identifiable and routinely studied empirical signs.

    5] The existence of error does not necessarily entail the existence of knowable truth.

    Oops!

    Do you really mean to suggest that the fact that we can warrant the truth-claim that “error exists” to the level of undeniability on pain of immediate and patent absurdity, does not provide an instance of known truth?

    I would consider that instantiation is proof of existence.

    6] There is function and process in the genome but information, in the commonly-accepted sense, exists only in the mind of the observer. That we can model what happens in the genome using information theory does not, in itself, warrant an inference that there is a message which implies an intelligent sender intended for an intelligent recipient expressed in a common language, for example.

    Onlookers, take time to look at the discrete-state (thus, digital) genetic code, and reflect on this often linked (and just as often studiously ignored) video showing the algorithmic, step by step process that transcribes genetic information, then translates it into sequenced amino acid bases and uses it to manufacture the proteins that carry out so much of the work of cell based life. (A medically oriented description of the process is here.)

    In short, we see here rhe instantiation of precisely the same general type of codes, instructions, string data structures and algorithms to use such data expressed using implementing machinery that we are familiar with from the world of computer technology, and in that context we see the source, encoding, transmission, decoding and application of digital messages, in exact accord with the principles and prime communication system model of information theory.

    In that context, we would do well to observe again the excerpted Wiki definition of information used [per credibility of a damaging acknowledgement of a fact that cannot credibly be denied] in the UD glossary:

    “ . . that which would be communicated by a message if it were sent from a sender to a receiver capable of understanding the message . . . . In terms of data, it can be defined as a collection of facts [i.e. as represented or sensed in some format] from which conclusions may be drawn [and on which decisions and actions may be taken].”

    Messenger RNA of course is a transcribed message, transferred to the ribosome and with the aid of transfer RNA, step by step translated into a protein, towards the purpose of fulfilling the requisites of functional cell based life.

    The only known observed source and causally capable source of systems that do that sort of thing, is intelligence. We know that forces of necessity do not create organisation but instead order like the atoms in a crystal. We know that chance can create complexity but once we need organisation that is functional, the islands of function rapidly become deeply isolated in the vast configuration spaces implied by the number of variable elements that are in an organised system.

    So, we find it unsurprising that complex organised entities are routinely the product of intelligence. So much so that it is well warranted — though hotly denied by those whose worldview this plainly threatens — to infer that such functionally specific, complex organisation is a reliable, empirically well warranted sign of design.

    [ . . . ]

  224. 7] Sev, 216: the theory of evolution fits that [fossil] record better than any other model. And “degenerative paradigms” – whatever that might mean – do not make successful predictions such as the location of the Tiktaalik fossils.

    Really!

    Post-hoc reasoning, with a bit of appeal to weasel words tracing to Darwin.

    The tree of life prediction expected that we would see overwhelmingly, a smooth process of branching transition from original forms of life tot he body plan level diversity in the world today and he fossil record. A tree, of course, is not a ladder, i.e when we see systematic body plan and molecular gaps, and islands of function, the basic pattern of the theory has failed, That is why punctuated equilibria models were advanced to explain away the want of the evidence of gradual transitions.

    Degenerative research programmes [cf Imre Lakatos et al on this] find themselves repeatedly having to play catch-up to the evidence, and overstraining such points as they can find to support their theory. So, to your Tiktalik, I can cite Pakicetus, where on evidence of a partial skull, a whale was built, only to find something more or less as aquatic as a tapir, when post cranial bones were found; and a long list of abandoned missing links over the course of 150 years.

    Worse, mosaic animals such as the platypus, which is a mosaic in gross anatomy and at molecular level, far better fit the model of suing ands adapting a library of components, than common derivation. So, commonality of design is at least as good an explanation for such branching as we can see form taxonomy, and has the further strong support of the underlying complex information system and digital information used to implement life forms.

    8] It [natural selection] was never claimed to be anything else. The source of your new ‘information’ lies in the errors from which you infer knowable truth, namely, mutations, duplications, transpositions and so on. That is what natural selection filters.

    First, as a matter of patent fact, natural selection is routinely stressed as the source of biological innovation of information and function. So, the above is little more than the acknowledgemnt of a correction without accepting that it is a correction.

    Further, as just outlined, chance errors are not credibly able to generate functional complex organization, as the islands of function are deeply isolated in the configuration spaced of overwhelming non-function. But, that will be taken up more under:

    9] That claim is based on estimates of probability and methods of calculating same which have been heavily criticized. FCSI is an invented metric which has yet to be shown to measure anything useful, let alone calculated and validated.

    Wrong.

    Apart from the fact that all metrics are “invented,” metrics of functionally specific complex info0rmation, eg the Durston, Chiu et al metric [cf 27 in the weak argument correctives and onward links]is in fact a useful calculation and a validated one [peer review published, 35 families of proteins measured], based on well established information theory. (And simpler heuristics are in fact useful in highlighting the underlying issue of the known source of functionally specific complex information.)

    Returning to the simple FSCI metric, functional bits are of course a useful commonplace as near to hand as the hard drive of your PC. And, it is an undeniable mathematical fact that 1,000 functional bits cover a phase space of 1.07 * 10^ 301 states, on simple expansion of 2^1,000.

    It is a further commonplace that our cosmos has ~ 10^80 atoms, and that its expected thermodynamic lifespan is ~ 10^25 s, about 50 mn times the usual estimate for the current age of the observed cosmos. Similarly, the Planck time measures how long a photon takes to cross a tiny fraction of the diameter of a proton, and specifies the shortest reasonable amount of time for an interaction which is conservatively rounded down to 10^-45 s [it is more like 5 * 10^-44 s]. Simple multiplication shows that the atoms of ou4r observed universe would go through about 10^150 Planck time states in 10^25 s. [This is a genrous upper estimate for he number of bit operations that are possible in our observed universe across its lifespan.]

    That is so small a fraction of 10^301 states that it is evident that the whole observed universe, developing across its lifespan, could not scan more than a negligible fraction of the possible states for just 1,000 bits. So, chance is not a plausible explanation for any case of complexity of at least 1,000 bits, or 125 bytes. Especially when we know that routinely intelligence produces that sort of bit depth worth of organization. So, we are infinitely better warranted to infer to intelligence to explain such FSCI than chance. (And, onlookers, we saw above how natural selection is not a credible source of information; but instead a filter that eliminates the genetic information in organisms that have sufficiently inferior ecological performance.)

    A careful examination will at once reveal that the just above is not a probability calculation [not that the objections to such calculations -- premised on the principles of statistical thermodynamics -- amount to more than selective hypeskepticism]. Instead it is a search resource calculation. Chance does not have enough search resources on the gamut of our observed cosmos to credibly toss together the sort of complex function we are discussing.

    To find a needle in a haystack, you ave to search, and the point is that chance cannot do a search of adequate scope.

    But, as we have noted, this post and others in this thread provide abundant proof by instantiation of how intelligence can routinely provide cases of FSCI beyond that threshold. (And the convoluted rhetoric of the materialist objectors boils down to ways to try to work around the embarrassing fact that none of them can show a case where,credibly, undirected chance and necessity produced say a contextually responsive web message in English of more than 150 characters length. The overall size of the internet is now measured in Zettabytes.)

    10] Mutations can cause loss of function which can be catastrophic for the organism but, occasionally, as in the case of the nylon-eating Flavobacterium it can add a new function, even if that it is at the expense of some other function.

    In fact, “Mutations can</strike [overwhelmingly] cause loss of function which can be catastrophic for the organism." Further, no cases have been identified where such mutations produced say 500 bases worth of novel, functional bio-information. In fact, the studies on malaria show that two-to-three co-ordinated mutations is an effective practical upper limit for mutational innovations. (And the implication of this for mutations as the claimed source of bio-information and novel body plans is that we see how despite more reproductive events than all of the vertebrate line can have had, malaria has been unable to surmount so "simple" a barrier as the sickle cell trait causing mutation.)

    As for nylonase, this is a gross exaggeration. A first clue is this remark from the Wiki article: "There is scientific consensus that the capacity to synthesize nylonase most probably developed as a single-step mutation that survived because it improved the fitness of the bacteria possessing the mutation.” Thus, immediately, nylonase is irrelevant to the proposed issue of step by step producing a novel body plan embracing 10′s of millions of new bases and specifying a whole new body architecture; by cumulative small variations and natural selection.

    That is why, as long ago as 2005, Dembski here at UD remarked:

    Miller fails to show that the construction/evolution of nylonase from its precursor actually requires CSI at all. As I develop the concept, CSI requires a certain threshold of complexity to be achieved (500 bits, as I argue in my book No Free Lunch). It’s not at all clear that this threshold is achieved here . . . . Nylonase appears to have arisen from a frame-shift in another protein. Even so, it seems to be special in certain ways. For example, the DNA sequence that got frame-shifted is a very repetitive sequence. Yet the number of bases repeated is not a multiple of 3 (in this case, 10 bases are probably the repeating unit).

    What this means is that the original protein consisted of repeats of these 10 bases . . .

    10 bases in a repeating frame is a whole order of magnitude below the threshold for FSCI, and it has nothing to do with innovation of a body plan that has to be embryologically viable.

    This also shows up the strawman tactic resorted to by the sort of materialism advocates who argue . . .

    that this research would seem to refute claims made by creationists and intelligent design proponents, specifically, the claim that random mutation and natural selection can never add new information to a genome [LIE: CSI implies a threshold, and 500 - 1,000 bits is a useful measure of where it kicks in], and the claim that the odds against a useful new protein such as an enzyme arising through a process of random mutation [LIE, 2: the issue raised by Hoyle was the ab initio origin of the cluster of enzymess required for life, not the odds against a frame shift mutation in already existing and functional bacteria] would be prohibitively high . . .

    See the problem of materialist rhetoric of distraction, distortion and denigration that I and others have had to keep pointing out?

    __________________

    GEM of TKI

  225. PS: Pardon the format error on the close strike and the odd typo.

  226. PPS: X Ray crystrallography study results on EII nylonase:

    6-Aminohexanoate-dimer hydrolase (EII), responsible for the degradation of nylon-6 industry by-products, and its analogous enzyme (EII?) that has only ?0.5% of the specific activity toward the 6-aminohexanoate-linear dimer, are encoded on plasmid pOAD2 of Arthrobacter sp. (formerly Flavobacterium sp.) KI72. Here, we report the three-dimensional structure of Hyb-24 (a hybrid between the EII and EII? proteins; EII?-level activity) by x-ray crystallography at 1.8 Å resolution and refined to an R-factor and R-free of 18.5 and 20.3%, respectively. The fold adopted by the 392-amino acid polypeptide generated a two-domain structure that is similar to the folds of the penicillin-recognizing family of serine-reactive hydrolases, especially to those of d-alanyl-d-alanine-carboxypeptidase from Streptomyces and carboxylesterase from Burkholderia. Enzyme assay using purified enzymes revealed that EII and Hyb-24 possess hydrolytic activity for carboxyl esters with short acyl chains but no detectable activity for d-alanyl-d-alanine. In addition, on the basis of the spatial location and role of amino acid residues constituting the active sites of the nylon oligomer hydrolase, carboxylesterase, d-alanyl-d-alanine-peptidase, and ?-lactamases, we conclude that the nylon oligomer hydrolase utilizes nucleophilic Ser112 as a common active site both for nylon oligomer-hydrolytic and esterolytic activities. However, it requires at least two additional amino acid residues (Asp181 and Asn266) specific for nylon oligomer-hydrolytic activity. Here, we propose that amino acid replacements in the catalytic cleft of a preexisting esterase with the ?-lactamase fold resulted in the evolution of the nylon oligomer hydrolase.

    In short, relatively minor change to an existing enzyme, with resulting more generic activity (and I gather reduced activity on the original target).

  227. PPPS: Excerpt 10, fixed:

    ____________

    10] Mutations can cause loss of function which can be catastrophic for the organism but, occasionally, as in the case of the nylon-eating Flavobacterium it can add a new function, even if that it is at the expense of some other function.

    In fact, “Mutations can [overwhelmingly] cause loss of function which can be catastrophic for the organism.” Further, no cases have been identified where such mutations produced say 500 bases worth of novel, functional bio-information. In fact, the studies on malaria show that two-to-three co-ordinated mutations is an effective practical upper limit for mutational innovations. (And the implication of this for mutations as the claimed source of bio-information and novel body plans is that we see how despite more reproductive events than all of the vertebrate line can have had, malaria has been unable to surmount so “simple” a barrier as the sickle cell trait causing mutation.)

    As for nylonase, this is a gross exaggeration. A first clue is this remark from the Wiki article: “There is scientific consensus that the capacity to synthesize nylonase most probably developed as a single-step mutation that survived because it improved the fitness of the bacteria possessing the mutation.” Thus, immediately, nylonase is irrelevant to the proposed issue of step by step producing a novel body plan embracing 10’s of millions of new bases and specifying a whole new body architecture; by cumulative small variations and natural selection.

    That is why, as long ago as 2005, Dembski here at UD remarked:

    Miller fails to show that the construction/evolution of nylonase from its precursor actually requires CSI at all. As I develop the concept, CSI requires a certain threshold of complexity to be achieved (500 bits, as I argue in my book No Free Lunch). It’s not at all clear that this threshold is achieved here . . . . Nylonase appears to have arisen from a frame-shift in another protein. Even so, it seems to be special in certain ways. For example, the DNA sequence that got frame-shifted is a very repetitive sequence. Yet the number of bases repeated is not a multiple of 3 (in this case, 10 bases are probably the repeating unit).

    What this means is that the original protein consisted of repeats of these 10 bases . . .

    10 bases in a repeating frame is a whole order of magnitude below the threshold for FSCI, and it has nothing to do with innovation of a body plan that has to be embryologically viable.

    This also shows up the strawman tactic resorted to by the sort of materialism advocates who argue . . .

    that this research would seem to refute claims made by creationists and intelligent design proponents, specifically, the claim that random mutation and natural selection can never add new information to a genome [LIE: CSI implies a threshold, and 500 - 1,000 bits is a useful measure of where it kicks in], and the claim that the odds against a useful new protein such as an enzyme arising through a process of random mutation [LIE, 2: the issue raised by Hoyle was the ab initio origin of the cluster of enzymess required for life, not the odds against a frame shift mutation in already existing and functional bacteria] would be prohibitively high . . .

    See the problem of materialist rhetoric of distraction, distortion and denigration that I and others have had to keep pointing out?

    _____________

  228. kairosfocus @227,

    “There is scientific consensus that the capacity to synthesize nylonase most probably developed as a single-step mutation that survived because it improved the fitness of the bacteria possessing the mutation.”

    So single-step evolution works.

    From this you conclude the following,

    Thus, immediately, nylonase is irrelevant to the proposed issue of step by step producing a novel body plan embracing 10’s of millions of new bases and specifying a whole new body architecture; by cumulative small variations and natural selection.

    that it doesn’t.

  229. kj, there are many, many scientists, and educated people in general, who are not materialists and who accept science as the search for natural explanations. Those clamoring to do otherwise have not shown how searching for non-natural causes is possible – rather, those clamoring to do otherwise have been shown to be primarily interested in introducing philosophical and religious speculations into science, which basically is asking us to go back about 500 years. Most people would rather stick with what has worked.

  230. “PS: Pardon the format error on the close strike and the odd typo.”

    Oh, man! That’s even worse than my slip-up the other day.

    You did that just to make me feel better, didn’t you? ;-)

  231. Aleta you state:

    “Most people would rather stick with what has worked.”

    Though this statement is chuck full of hidden false assumptions, let’s suffice it to say,,,

    Definition of Insanity:
    Repeating the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.

  232. Aleta:

    Non materialists who accept the attempt to censor the scientific investigation of origins in accord with materialistic presuppositions are trying to accommodate to the balances of power in the elite circles [in a context of a long, growing and shameful list of the expelled].

    I repeat, science at its best is an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of teh truth ablut our cosmos, based on evidence and analysis. When entire categories of possible explanation [intelligence working by art and leaving signs of intellfgence such as complex functional organisation and information) are a priori ruled out by imposing a rule on an ideology, that censorship corrupts science.

    Which is what Lewontin, in his own way, was talking about.

    GEM of TKI

  233. Ilion, almost as bad as forgetting what Mr Smith drummed into my head about the integral of a polynomial term, de4cades ago! [Aleta thanks for the correction] G

  234. Aleta that quote on insanity is real popular in AA:

    Definition of Insanity:
    Repeating the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.

    Tubthumping(i get knocked down) by Chumbawamba
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS-zK1S5Dws

  235. Kairosfocus writes, “I repeat …”

    True.

    Kf also writes, “Non materialists who accept the attempt to censor the scientific investigation of origins in accord with materialistic presuppositions are trying to accommodate to the balances of power in the elite circles.”

    This is an insult to the beliefs of millions of people – how can you be so arrogant as to ascribe these motives to people rather than to accept what they themselves say about the issue?

  236. Actually, I know the answer to that question (“how can you be so arrogant as to ascribe these motives to people rather than to accept what they themselves say about the issue?”): to accept that people with different religious and philosophical viewpoints do not see the issues about science and ID that you do underscores the fact that ID is a religious and philosophical viewpoint that doesn’t really add anything to the science itself. Rather than enter into a positive discussion with the world about the value of your belief system in contrast with other belief systems, you feel like you have to hijack science in order to add credibility to your view. It would be far better, and more honest, in my opinion, to accept that these are religious and philosophical issues, and engage the public on that basis.

  237. Aleta @236,
    Well said.

    Science should be concerned with naturally describing the natural world we live in.

  238. Aleta:

    I am sorry, but this will have to be painful reading.

    I am black, with a name that reminds me of the man who was hanged in my native land, in reminder of just how dangerous it is to be right when the power brokers are wrong. I come from a colonialised country and went to a university that was at the time marxist — largely in rage over the unquestionably outrageous sins of the colonialists.

    Marxism got a lot of things wrong, and I was one of their strongest, most outspoken critics on campus [not least, on the campus they became a small scale mirror image of what they objected to in our history and ongoing experience -- it is harder to get the plantation mindset out of you than to get off of the plantation!]; but their point on dominant elites and how they operate and how people are intimidated or indoctrinated and adapt to survive and in some cases thrive is too close for comfort. (Why not read this parable by Plato, from such a third world viewpoint.)

    In science and science education, we now have a dominant, ruthlessly amoral a priori materialist elite that is threatening kids in school for studying science outside their materialist imprimatur. Frankly, for learning the truth about the difference between observationally supportable operational and origins sciences that are trying to reconstruct a remote unobservable past, and for understanding that science should be open minded and humble about what it knows or can know, to what degree of confidence, in pursuing the truth about our world. (And, some years ago, we had it out at length in UD threads with some of those who were playing those power games while imagining that all was hunky dory. So, we know from experience, eyewitnesses and documents not hearsay.)

    For decades, they have manipulated evidence, history, policy debates and more. [For instance, when I learned the truth about former US Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, I was by degrees astonished then outraged: this man has been slandered and lied on, in situations where he was far more nearly right than those who have so viciously caricatured him, e.g.in the wretched Inherit The Wind stereotypes.]

    Scientists who do not line up with the elite agenda get stomped on, overtly and covertly. (You should see the slanderous blame the victim working over that some have been through, sometime, like a certain Richard Sternberg.)

    Under those circumstances, sustained for decades, people are unconsciously pulled to accommodate their views to the views of the dominant elites. Worse if he education and media systems are manipulated. in extreme cases the Stockholm Syndrome kicks in, and people begin to identify with their oppressors.

    I do not dispute the sincerity of people, and their attempts to accommodate their views to what they were led to think is fact, is as near to truth as makes no difference. Just, something was not adding up. And there is a magisterium in lab coats running things, many of whom were themselves raised and educated to think the same. Many of whom have major vested interests in the system as it now is.

    Just think: how many are willing to sacrifice not just the comforts of an easy life but career, reputation, how history will look back on you, and maybe more, in pursuit of something that the learned power brokers and august bodies assure us is heresy without warrant?

    And no, I am not talking about Europe circa 1517, but the state of origins science and science education today.

    That is how ideologies too often dominate civilisations and institutions. It is also how the infamous march of folly gets us to collectively head over the cliff. Tie after time after time.

    So, please take time to seriously look at the matter on the merits instead of playing the shoot the messenger if you don’t like the message card.

    Pardon if this is a painful read, but I do not take easily to rhetorical bullets headed my way like that.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  239. KF, I am sorry about the political things you have experienced, but I think you are quite wrong to draw a strong parallel between such experiences and the nature of science and those who practice it.

    Sentences like “In science and science education, we now have a dominant, ruthlessly amoral a priori materialist elite that is threatening kids in school for studying science outside their materialist imprimatur” are hyperbolic exaggerations, and do injustice to lots of good people.

    Thank you, however, for clarifying the connection between politics and science that you think is true, because it does help me understand a bit where the strength of your emotions about these topics come from.

  240. Aleta:

    Please, go check the facts, as already linked.

    The issue is not emotions but facts, facts with very, very serious and sobering import.

    Read what was done to Richard Sternberg, not for supporting ID [which he did not] but for being an honest journal editor. (He won’t tell you about being accused of being a thief and a fraud etc by co-workers, but the congressional staff report and its Appendix A will fill in some truly ugly details. Have a look at the attempts to discredit and blams the victim and attack the messenger in response to the substance of the investigations. When you have done this, look hard in a mirror, and ask yourself if this is a pattern of ideologised behaviour you want to associate yourself with.)

    Then look at what the US NAS tried to threaten school kids in Kansas with.

    Then, think through the implications of the ideologisation of Science Lewontin — remember, a member of the said same scientific elite, testified to. And which the NAS underscored.

    Go haunt a few Darwinist sites [including those led by Darwinist academics], and see the shrill, even rabid ideologised tone, and how they so often view and treat those who differ with them with contempt and hostility: “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” is just he beginning. Especially observe how they routinely distract from issues on the merits, distort the views of those who differ with them [cf the Weak Argument Correctives on this] and soak such strawmen with ad homiem attacks, igniting them to cloud, confuse and poison the atmosphere.

    Then, having paused to absorb the implications of the self-referential incoherence of evolutionary materialism and its inescapable is-ought gap driven amorality [which I have seen in action up close and personal], come back here and tell me that I am over-reading the implications of the pattern of behaviour and the dangers it portends.

    And show me why you draw that conclusion, on what evidence.

    GEM of TKI

  241. —aleta: “there are many, many scientists, and educated people in general, who are not materialists and who accept science as the search for natural explanations.”

    That a number of non-materialsits have naively signed on to the materialist agenda does not mean that it is not a materialist agenda.

    —”Those clamoring to do otherwise have not shown how searching for non-natural causes is possible – rather, those clamoring to do otherwise have been shown to be primarily interested in introducing philosophical and religious speculations into science, which basically is asking us to go back about 500 years.”

    The burden if proof falls on those who arrogate unto themselves the right to define science for themselves and everyone else. In fact, no one has the right to set down arbitrary rules for the purpose of ruling out inconvenience evidence or suppressing controversial theories. Only the scientist knows which problems and questions he/she is trying to address and, therefore, only the scientist can choose the appropriate methods.

    —”Most people would rather stick with what has worked.”

    What has always worked is freedom. What never works is tyranny. Almost all of the great scientists of the past were design thinkers and were free to develop their own paradigms, many of which included specific references to God. They were, as they put it, “thinking God’s thoughts after him. Methodological naturalism is an arbitrary rule established in the 1980′s for the sole purpose of discrediting intelligent design. These are the facts.

  242. PS: And, I think it is fair comment to note that above, and elsewhere including in the always linked, I have dealt with the issues surrounding Design on the merits, in responsible details. I do not appreciate being misrepresented on that as you did just above.

  243. Stephen, Thanks. G

  244. I never understood what the big deal with ID was. Why so many materialists hate it so much…

    What stephen said above reminded me of that and the inevitable answer I got to my question from eugenie scott in one of the interviews.

    I am paraphrasing here but her position was:

    Freedom of speech (1st amendment) is a great thing but it has no place in science. But isn’t science supposed to built on the freedom of rational inquiry? Is this what science has been reduced to?

    *Anyone interested in the interview, you can see an excerpt of it in the icons of evolution.

  245. Above, Like this video? G

  246. Yes, that’s the one.

  247. kf: “Then look at what the US NAS tried to threaten school kids in Kansas with.”

    No, the NAS didn’t “threaten” anyone. The Kansas science committee included the exact same definition of science that had been in the previous standards (the one about seeking natural explanations), but the ID minority changed it, and then the NAS wrote a letter supporting the majority position. That’s all.

    Science standards for high school kids are meant to describe the mainstream view, which the Kansas standards certainly do. Public school science standards should not be the battleground for these philosophical and cultural battles.

    kf: “Go haunt a few Darwinist sites [including those led by Darwinist academics], and see the shrill, even rabid ideologised tone, and how they so often view and treat those who differ with them with contempt and hostility:”

    How you can you possible write this after yourself writing innumerable “shrill, even rabid ideologised” posts on this site, a site whose members often “view and treat those who differ with them with contempt and hostility.” This is the pot calling the kettle black.

    kf: “PS: And, I think it is fair comment to note that above, and elsewhere including in the always linked, I have dealt with the issues surrounding Design on the merits, in responsible details. I do not appreciate being misrepresented on that as you did just above.”

    I do not see where I wrote anything “above” that implied that you didn’t at times discuss the issue of Design on its merits, despite that fact that you wrap it all up in an excessive amount of rhetoric (“oil-soaked strawman” et al). I don’t think you are right, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think you don’t discuss details. Therefore, I’m not sure what you are referring to when you say I misrepresented you.

    And Stephen writes, “That a number of non-materialsits have naively signed on to the materialist agenda does not mean that it is not a materialist agenda.”

    I will repeat what I said to kairosfocus:

    This is an insult to the beliefs of millions of people – how can you be so arrogant as to ascribe these motives to people rather than to accept what they themselves say about the issue?

    Actually, I know the answer to that question: to accept that people with different religious and philosophical viewpoints do not see the issues about science and ID that you do underscores the fact that ID is a religious and philosophical viewpoint that doesn’t really add anything to the science itself. Rather than enter into a positive discussion with the world about the value of your belief system in contrast with other belief systems, you feel like you have to hijack science in order to add credibility to your view. It would be far better, and more honest, in my opinion, to accept that these are religious and philosophical issues, and engage the public on that basis.

  248. Note: my response to kairosfocus that I quoted to Stephen doesn’t exactly fit, as kf accused non-materialists of kow-towing to the “materialist elite”, and Stephen accuses them of being naive.

    But it’s the same thing: not being willing to accept the genuineness of other people’s differing view, ascribing some defective factor (cowardice, naivete, confusion or whatever) in order to bolster one’s conviction that one alone is right. It’s still indefensible. I think most of us agree that we should treat others as we would like to be treated, and I don’t think you folks would accept it if others told you that, despite your beliefs to the contrary, you believed what you did out of cowardice, naivete, or confusion. I for one am glad to argue that you are wrong, but I wouldn’t stoop, I don’t think, to trying to tell you that you are kidding yourself about why you believe what you do.

  249. —Aleta: “Science standards for high school kids are meant to describe the mainstream view, which the Kansas standards certainly do. Public school science standards should not be the battleground for these philosophical and cultural battles.”

    I just explained to you that no one held the view that science must limit itself to the study of natural causes until the 1980′s. Those who introduced that intrusive rule started the war, not those who challenged it. Have you no respect for historical facts?

  250. Aleta states:

    “but the ID minority changed it, and then the NAS wrote a letter supporting the majority position.’

    Eugenie Scott states:

    “Science is not a democratic process”

  251. aleta states:

    “Science standards for high school kids are meant to describe the mainstream view, which the Kansas standards certainly do.”

    Mainstream view? (drumroll please)

    Happy Birthday, Mr. Darwin:
    According to the poll, Democrats (82%) and liberals (86%) are even more likely than Republicans (73%) and conservatives (72%) to support the academic freedom of teachers and students to discuss the “strengths and weaknesses of evolution.”
    The poll also shows a dramatic 9-point increase over 2006 in the percentage of likely voters who agree that “Biology teachers should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.” Support for that position has jumped to 78%, up from 69% in 2006. The percentage of likely voters who favor teaching only the evidence for evolution suffered a corresponding decline of 7 points, from 21% in 2006 to just over 14% this year.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....0Final.pdf

  252. Aleta,,, please tell me that conclusive evidence for evolution again I can’t seem to remember it,,, fossil record,,,No,,, Genes,,, No,,,proteins,,,No,,,morphology,,,No,,, geographical distribution,,,no,, mutations,,,No,,, dang aleta can you help me?

  253. Aleta:

    I have just a moment.

    Let me point out to you a sampler of the definitions of science that you will find in high quality dictionaries from before the imposition of materialist censorship under the name methodological naturalism:

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

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

    Now, let us compare the definitions put up by the different KS boards of education in 2001 and 2005 (noting that he 2007 version is essentially the same as the one from 2001):

    2001 Definition: “Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations of the world around us.”

    2005 Definition: “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.”

    Do you see the ideological, worldview assumption-driven loading in the 2001 definition? And how the 2005 one seeks to reinstate a less loaded definition?

    And, as for the threat I spoke of, did you read the NAS-NSTA statement of 2005, which I excerpt in the crucial part:

    . . . the members of the Kansas State Board of Education who produced Draft 2-d of the KSES have deleted text defining science as a search for natural explanations of observable phenomena, blurring the line between scientific and other ways of understanding. Emphasizing controversy in the theory of evolution — when in fact all modern theories of science are continually tested and verified — and distorting the definition of science are inconsistent with our Standards and a disservice to the students of Kansas. Regretfully, many of the statements made in the KSES related to the nature of science and evolution also violate the document’s mission and vision. Kansas students will not be well-prepared for the rigors of higher education or the demands of an increasingly complex and technologically-driven world if their science education is based on these standards. Instead, they will put the students of Kansas at a competitive disadvantage as they take their place in the world.

    Let’s see: students who learn a more traditional, less ideological definition of science will be ill equipped. To point out that say operational science with a direct check by direct observation is not on the same epistemic level of warrant as origins sciences that try to reconstruct an unobservable past is to distort the claim that all scientific theories are in effect as close to the truth as we can get, i.e. they are “verified”"? And, such students will be ill prepared to go on to higher studies or sci-tech type desirable jobs? [Or, is it that with our refusal of the imprimatur, they will be blacklisted?]

    I think you need to take a second look overnight.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Verified: “To prove the truth of by presentation of evidence or testimony; substantiate.” [AmHDict, 1st meaning]

  254. Stephen at 249: I believe this subject got adequately sometime with you sometime in the past year or so, and I’m not going to get involved in that. Seeking natural explanations has been what science has been about for 500 years. I know what your position is, and I don’t agree with you. But it is a fact – not prescribed by an elite but just a fact about how people behave – that science seeks natural explanations. A very small minority of ID advocates want to change this, but that is not a sufficient reason for saying that things have changed.

  255. Oops – replying too quickly:

    “Stephen at 249: I believe this subject got adequately discussed with you sometime in the past year or so, …” is what I meant to write

  256. to GEM: No, the 2001 and 2007 definitions do not presume any worldview. I know many religious people who support that definition. If one examines the supporting documents behind the ID minority definition, it is clear that opening science up to supernatural explanations was the purpose of their definition, and it would have been quite wrong to tell high schools students that that was acceptable in science.

    Nor to I see the “threat” in the NAS statement. They pointed out that students would be poorly prepared to understand the nature of science under these circumstances, which would have been true if in fact teaching to that standard would have become widely implemented.

    And I don’t think my views are going to change overnight.

  257. PPS: Remember, the 2001KS standards were a novelty injected by an ideological materialism dominated board. (Compare contemporary state level definitions of science here and you will clearly see that KS 2001 is distinctly and jarringly out of step in the direction of materialist ideologisation of science, as was being pushed att hat time. To correct ideological imposition is not to reverse “the” correct definition of science. In short the NAS was using the fallacy of turnabout accusation; and to identify fallacies and show why such are fallacies is not an improper move in discussion. Sorry, it happens to be true that routinely, evolutionary materialist ideologues use red herring distractors to change the subject to what they prefer [notice how far we are form the actual focus for this thread . . . though we are seeing side-lights on the construction of alternative "realities"], they routinely then distort the position of those they oppose using strawmen caricatures and they often soak those caricatures in oily, flammable ad hominems that they ignite with incendiary rhetoric [start from "ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked and go down the scale of uncivil invective and name-calling etc from there . . .], clouding, polarising and poisoning the atmosphere. Just go to any of dozens of popular evolutionary materialist advocacy sites to see such in action.)

  258. PPPS: Onlookers, cf the c. 2001 Ohio standard as just linked and the KS 2005 standard.

  259. Aleta @ 229

    “kj, there are many, many scientists, and educated people in general, who are not materialists and who accept science as the search for natural explanations.”

    This is part of the problem. We are careless with the philosophy you disparage later in this post. IF science is defined as the search for natural explanations (a deficient characterization in my view) on the one hand but on the other hand the natural world is declared to be all that exists (the prevailing view), I think one can see the circularity of this line of thinking. On the other hand, IF there is more than nature and science is really interested in causes, then it seems to me that science would be amenable to any line of rational inquiry that could shed light on this subject. But this is not what we see. We see a rabid refusal to even consider RATIONAL arguments when it comes to origins that point to something outside of nature.

    “Those clamoring to do otherwise have not shown how searching for non-natural causes is possible – rather, those clamoring to do otherwise have been shown to be primarily interested in introducing philosophical and religious speculations into science, which basically is asking us to go back about 500 years.”

    This is simply not true. We have explained until blue in the face about how “non-natural” i.e. intelligent causes are possible. But since you may not be familiar with, in my view, the most devastating critique of naturalism, let me state it briefly one more time.

    If naturalism (the idea that all that exists is nature – the ontological piece, and the idea that nature is causally closed, that is, everything can be explained by reference to the laws of physics – the epistemological piece) is true, then naturalism (physics) can explain language. But physics cannot explain language because physics has nothing to say about symbols and rules, i.e. language. Therefore, naturalism cannot explain everything and its claim to be able to do so is false. You will recognize modus tollens, a valid form of argument.

    There is no part of physics that has a thing to do with why one set of symbols and rules means something and why another language can say the same thing using different symbols and rules. It is raining. Es regnet. For example. Note that I am not making this about genetic language and biological information, although that is exactly what the argument is about, but for this I keep the argument in the realm of human language which is undeniably real and yet which cannot ever be explained by physics. Naturalism is kaput. It should be abandoned as quickly as possible by all thinking people.

    “Most people would rather stick with what has worked.”

    I can only speak for myself but I would rather stick with what is true, whatever that turns out to be. The problem for the naturalist, if we want to be rigorous in our thinking, is how to get from quarks, leptons, and the four fundamental forces to the symbols and rules of a language which are able to encode, transmit, and decode information. When you or anyone can do that simple task then it will be POSSIBLE for you to be right. Until then, anybody can see that intelligence/mind precedes language and information.

    The denial of intelligence as a cause in nature would actually be funny if it weren’t so damaging (as aptly noted by kf time and again). Think of it, when looking at a thread like this, who among us thinks, “oh, look, another amazing display of the power of quantum physics!” No. We think that someone, an intelligent being, assembled the letters of the English language and arranged them according to the conventions or rules of English in order to communicate a message. It takes a mind to do this. If you have another way that a language can be explained I’m sure we would all be interested to hear it.

  260. Hi tg. You write,

    “IF science is defined as the search for natural explanations (a deficient characterization in my view) on the one hand but on the other hand the natural world is declared to be all that exists (the prevailing view), I think one can see the circularity of this line of thinking.”

    The belief that the natural world is all that exists is not the “prevailing view” of all scientists world-wide: if you look at all the scientists world-wide, I am virtually certain that a large majority believe in some kind of non-material aspect of the universe – spirit, soul, God, the Tao, whatever, and that most of all these are satisfied that science as seeking natural explanations defines what they do as scientists. No one here seems to want to address this fact, other than declaring that all such people are cowards or naive, which I am sure is false.

    tg says,’On the other hand, IF there is more than nature and science is really interested in causes, then it seems to me that science would be amenable to any line of rational inquiry that could shed light on this subject. But this is not what we see. We see a rabid refusal to even consider RATIONAL arguments when it comes to origins that point to something outside of nature.”

    I don’t think it is a rabid refusal – I think it is reasoned conclusion that the arguments given are not compelling, and do not add anything to science, although some of them are reasonable philosophical or religious speculations for people to consider (although some have considered those and rejected them also.)

    For instance, I don’t think your arguments about how language invalidates naturalism is at all compelling. The ability to attach meanings and understandings to sounds is a skill embedded in our biology, with a long evolutionary history.

  261. kairosfocus @ 218

    You need to reckon with the inescapable self-referential incoherence of evolutionary materialism, and its resulting inability to ground either a credible mind or morality.

    You need to find something more effective than Plantinga’s labored arguments if you want to dent materialism. So our “cognitive faculties” are “unreliable” when it comes to forming “true beliefs”, are they? Well, this may come as a shock to both of you but science is actually aware of the problem. That’s why there is that emphasis on replication in case you hadn’t realized. As for the degree of unreliability, Quine put it succinctly when he wrote:

    Creatures inveterately wrong in their inductions have a pathetic but praise-worthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind.

    Now, we’re still here and we’ve done quite well for ourselves thus far, so we must be getting something right in spite of Plantinga’s dog-in-the-mangerism.

    However, it will be clear to onlookers that you are staring at a reductio ad absurdum and riding it off the cliff into self-referential incoherence and amorality.

    You know, we could save an awful lot of space if you could resist these unnecessary rhetorical flourishes.

  262. 262

    Checking back in, I see that Sooner attempted a rebuttal that DNA is not an encoded abstraction. After reading his post, I was wondering if it could have been more trivial.

    For instance, I say that DNA uses the context and rules of language in order to contain encoded information about the organism. He objects to the word “uses”, replying that “DNA does not use anything”. This is a powerful observation, of course. Just this morning I was leaving the dry cleaner and as I was walking out the door the clerk told me to “Take Care”. I had to step back in and tell him I was unsure how to “take” care, or how to leave it.

    (I suppose if Nirenberg used poly-u to decipher the encoded information for adding phenylalanine during protein synthesis, then I can be forgiven for saying that DNA uses UUU to code for phenylalanine during protein synthesis).

    The core of Sooner’s objection seems to be that DNA is not a complete abstraction of the organism, and therefore perhaps, isn’t one at all. He notes “there’s not an abstract representation of the body plan in the DNA” as if one might be looking for a little drawing of a bunny with a bushy tail along with the requisite parts lists and assembly instructions.

    The fact that a daughter organism requires a parent (for various reasons) has been covered repeatedly on this website at several different levels, and is generally well known. I myself have talked about it, quoting the physiologist Peter Macklem on the subject from an essay he wrote regarding Schrodinger’s challenge. Why Sooner would believe that this somehow negates the role of DNA as an abstracted information source is a mystery. It doesn’t negate it one bit. In fact, it is easily seen as a further problem for a purely materialistic account, given that it raises once again the chicken and egg dilemma from a physiological perspective (see Polanyi).

    Bottom line: The organism’s proteome and transcriptome are generated by the information contained among the sequencing of nucleotides in its DNA.

  263. Upright BiPed @262,

    The core of Sooner’s objection seems to be that DNA is not a complete abstraction of the organism, and therefore perhaps, isn’t one at all. He notes “there’s not an abstract representation of the body plan in the DNA” as if one might be looking for a little drawing of a bunny with a bushy tail along with the requisite parts lists and assembly instructions.

    I think what he means is that there is no support mechanism for handling the level of indirection implied when calling DNA a code.

    A computer for example, which is usually used by the ID side as an analogy, contains that support mechanism in the form of registers, a program counter, an ALU, D/A converters and so on.

    This support mechanism is required to take encoded information and turn it into some sort of physical output.

    The ID side has never identified or described this mechanism that would support the decoding of DNA or any claimed life information.

  264. kairosfocus @ 222

    You spent several posts above using typical New Atheist rhetoric [which is a recycling of long since past sell-by date traditional outrageous village atheist rhetoric] to try to indict the God of Judaeo-Christian Theism as a genocidal moral monster, and those who follow such a God as “accomplices.”

    I have no need of rhetoric. The stories are all there in the Bible for anyone to read and I would invite anyone who’s interested to do just that; read it and judge for yourself.

    As for God’s words in Jonah, they stand in stark contrast to His and His people’s actions elsewhere in the OT which exposes Him to the charge of hypocrisy.

    Neither Wilberforce’s eminence as a social reformer nor that it was inspired by his faith is in question. I have acknowledged repeatedly that many Christians have done good work for the same reasons but I think that, if you look around the world, you will find other people who have been inspired to to good works by their faith in Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism. You may even find some atheists if you look very hard.

    Purely as an aside, I found this interesting post arguing in passing that that there were economic forces in play at the time which also contributed to the abolition of slavery.

  265. 265

    Toronto:

    “This support mechanism is required to take encoded information and turn it into some sort of physical output.

    The ID side has never identified or described this mechanism that would support the decoding of DNA or any claimed life information.”

    The mechanisms of protein synthesis (output) are not unknown.

    What is unknown is how matter can create a semiotic abstraction of itself and instantiate that into a medium (while at the same time creating a translation appartatus which can decode the information and create function).

    And by the way, TTT is a semiotic representation for phenylalanine in DNA. Is it not? Is there some material evidence that three nucleobases of thymine should represent phenylalanine prior to translation?

    There is nothing whatsoever you can do to thymine to result in phenylalanine. One thing actually stands for the other (and does so only in the context of a living organism).

    No analogies are needed.

  266. Aleta @ 260

    “For instance, I don’t think your arguments about how language invalidates naturalism is at all compelling. The ability to attach meanings and understandings to sounds is a skill embedded in our biology, with a long evolutionary history.”

    Why is that? I mean other than saying it’s not compelling, but that isn’t much of an argument. I don’t find your lack of compulsion compelling, let’s say. Would that impress you? For one thing, the ability to “attach meanings and blah blah blah…” looks for all the world to me like circular reasoning. In other words, you assume what you try to prove. Language isn’t anything other than an evolutionary thing, doncha know, and since the evolutionary thing is true, well then, there you have it, language is an evolutionary artifact. Not quite.

    But I’m a fair guy so let me help you with the strategy you must use to attack the argument.

    The argument is of the form modus tollens. If P. Q. ~Q. Therefore, ~P. It’s a valid form which means if the premises are true then the conclusion is necessarily true. Since it’s valid, all you can do is attack my premises. So what are those?

    If naturalism is true (If P), then physics, or natural laws, can explain everything (then Q). (This is actually true by definition. That’s what naturalism means. That’s what causal closure means.) But physics, or natural laws, cannot explain language, i.e. “everything” (~Q). This is true by reason of the previous discussion. Languages are sets of symbols governed by rules. Physics has nothing to say of this. Ever. I know. I asked a physicist. A real one. Of course, he could have been pulling my leg but I did some other looking around and I don’t think he is. I mean, physics is about fundamental particles in energy fields and it’s about general and special relativity, and the Standard Model, and thermodynamics, and maybe string theory, you know, stuff like that – matter and energy. But oddly enough, none of the equations of physics (written in the universal language of mathematics – and the natural laws are, I love this part, supernatural – the laws of nature are outside of nature because they are not physical) that reveal those truths of nature have a thing to say about why “cat” means a certain kind of mammal and why “act” means something done, or to do something, or a segment of a play. Therefore, the conclusion is that naturalism is not true (~P). It can’t be any other way. Ironically enough, not even God can make this not true, that naturalism is false.

    You have to show that one of my premises is false in order to defeat the argument. But you can’t do that. No one can. Because they are (almost) trivially true. No one can argue that naturalism allows for non-natural causes because everybody knows that naturalism means only natural causes. No one can argue that physics explains language because language involves symbols and rules and not sub-atomic particles in energy fields.

    Naturalism is so patently false that I am continually astonished that otherwise intelligent and educated people (not that I’m either of those) can’t see that in a second. Especially when it’s so clearly set forth in the form of a valid argument.

    So the naturalist has a serious problem here whether you want to realize it or not. You cannot explain language, any language, given the explanatory resources of naturalism. Which are, again, the laws of physics. However, if you can show me how one of the premises is false, then I’ll change my mind about this.

    p.s. The really cool thing about this particular argument is that language cannot be denied. To deny language is to use language which creates a self-contradiction. Thus, the typical naturalist move, which is to deny that which they cannot explain (design becomes “apparent design” and so on) is not available here because of the internal contradiction the denial of language generates. If for example, we were arguing about how physics has nothing to say about why it’s wrong to be rude to a waiter someone could merely deny the existence of real morality. They do it all the time. But they cannot deny language. Checkmate.

  267. Seversky @ 264

    I have a question for you, Sev. Why is being a hypocrite (not that God is, but for the sake of argument…) morally offensive to you? If you ground all explanations for everything in natural laws (physics) then which one of those physical laws tells us it’s wrong to murder, steal, lie, or do anything? Just curious.

  268. 268

    Seversky,

    I have no need of rhetoric. The stories are all there in the Bible for anyone to read and I would invite anyone who’s interested to do just that; read it and judge for yourself.

    I judge that the stories show God as a just God. Do you have a standard to disagree with my judgment other than your own personal whim? Would you also tell me that I am wrong, and wrong in the same subjective way, for not liking cheese?

  269. Mr BiPed,

    Specifically related to TTT and phenylanaline, this article on the stereochemical hypothesis argues no, while at the same time arguing that there is considerable evidence for other sections of the genetic code being determined by chemical affinities.

  270. Onlookers:

    A lot of the above would be funny, if the import were not so sad and damaging to our future as a civilisation.

    Let’s go back for a moment to the original post, in which Mr Arrington had a case of a client having to deal with someone who had an “alternative” reality, and sought to operate by the judicial philosophy that truth is a matter of persuasive power of different narratives and talking points.

    Truth, friends, is utterly different from that. Let us remind ourselves from Aristotle in Metaphysics 1011b: truth says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not.

    (Y’know, that basic definition we learned the hard way when our parents smacked us for fibbing. Yup, it is still true.)

    Okay, now, let us deal with several cases of artful talking points that are being touted so strongly above, on a priori evolutionary materialist “alternative reality.”

    1] Redefining science as a search for naturalistic explanations

    In his second major work, Opticks, Query 31 [the same in which he spoke of the origin of nature by the work of an intelligent Creator and how having so been created natural laws and forces would act to keep it going for many ages], Newton discussed the core method of natural philosophy [i.e science as epistemic process]:

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

    From this we can easily see the historical root of the traditional simple dictionary or high school level “definition” of science, and its methods as I cited earlier (and as was studiously ignored):

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

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

    In this we can easily see the root of the sort of definitions of science that dominate the list I linked earlier [notice how it has been passed over in silence], and especially of the best of them, the Ohio definition that was correctively adopted by the whistle-blowing sub-group of the special committee on science issues to the KS Board in 2005, and which that Board accepted:

    “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.”

    Q: So, why the alternative reality definition of science as a search for natural[istic] causes?

    A: Ideology, as Lewontin pointed out. In more details:

    a –> It is a longstanding and empirically well supported observation that some things show reliably consistent patterns of behaviour. For instance [cf the exchange above on this], if we drop a heavy object like a rock, reliably it falls at 9.8 N/kg.

    b –> Such behaviour, we attribute tot he causal factor of natural law, rooted in forces of mechanical necessity. In this case, a certain falling apple while the moon swung by in orbit led Newton to see the law of Gravitation.

    c –> But also, some aspects of phenomena are quite variable. E.g. if the dropped heavy object is a fair die, it tumbles to read from 1 to 6 in a highly variable fashion, i.e it exhibits high contingency.

    d –> This, we commonly attribute to chance circumstances and/or forces, leading to credibly undirected, statistical, probabilistic patterns. (We may define chance as undirected stochastic contingency, ad commonly study it, not least for its impact on errors of observation in science.)

    e –> The astute reader will note that above we mentioned a FAIR die. This, because there is another type of contingency, DIRECTED CONTINGENCY, or design. So, as the gaming houses of Las Vegas know all too well, there are loaded dice, which show observable patterns of behaviour that reflect intelligently directed, purposeful actions. As wiki observes in the just linked, by way of damaging admission by a hostile witness:

    A loaded (or gaffed or cogged or weighted or crooked or gag) die is one that has been tampered [intelligent act] with to [purposeful act] land with a selected side [willful act] facing upwards more often than it otherwise would simply by chance [empirically distinguishable from what we expect from chance, exploiting the forces and materials of nature, e.g. "in the case of a wooden die, this can be done by carving the die around a heavy inclusion, like a pebble around which a tree has grown"].

    f –> So, again (and from yet another angle), we see the underlying basis for analysing and distinguishing aspects of observable outcomes, objects, processes or phenomena in terms of the classic causal factors: natural ones tracing to chance and necessity, and artificial ones tracing to intelligence.

    g –> That is, we see why the explanatory filter is quite relevant and important, if science is to be the unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, based on observation, experiment, analysis and theorising, testing and discussion among the informed.

    h –> In particular, we may use the filter to identify certain reliable signs of art working by intelligence. For instance, functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information in our observation reliably traces to art, not chance and not mechanical necessity.

    i –> As a case in point, we may readily distinguish alphanumeric character strings tracing to chance [i38febhwsjufvhu9w] from those tracing to necessity and set initial circumstance [aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa] from [those tracing to purposeful intelligent action].

    j –> This last category – as TGP so often points out — uses defined symbols in accord with rules of meaning, communication and/or function.

    k –> The associated FSCI leads to a configuration space that is so large that the set of meaningful, contextually responsive strings is too deeply isolated on islands of function to allow chance driven processes to scan enough of the space to make it credible that one could have hit on such a string by chance. [Highly contingent outcomes are not traceable to necessity.]

    l –> So, we have excellent reason to see that scientific investigations may (and in fact routinely do; e.g. we isolate law-like regularities on a graph from random scatter due to chance errors, and from biases introduced by procedures and instrument calibration) explain causal patterns by factors tracing to chance, necessity and intelligence.

    m –> And, that such is done based on empirically observable, reliable signs of each main causal factor and how it may affect an aspect of the object or process or phenomenon under study.

    n –> So, we have no credible, objective basis for trying to redefine science as “the human activity of seeking natural explanations of the world around us.”

    o –> For, this a priori rules out investigation of a known causal factor that affects objects we may study scientifically, and which may be of interest, if we seek to learn the truth about our world scientifically.

    p –> As to why this rule has been imposed in recent decades by evolutionary materialism dominated institutions, we may best understand it by consulting the well known remarks of the Harvard Agassiz professor, Lewontin in his NYRB article of 1997:

    To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [which to materialists is all of reality] . . . . 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 . . .

    p –> That is why such materialists can look at the digitally coded complex functional information and algorithmic, step by step transcription, processing and translation of it into the workhorse protein molecules of cell based life using specialised molecular nanomachines, and tell us with a straight facethat even though they have no credible model of origin of cell based life, it must have happened only by chance and necessity, and that to suggest that our experiences of codes, programs and execut6ing machinery suggests a different source — art — is improper injection of religion into sicnece. (After all, science has been redefined as materialist atheism by the back door route of excluding all other possibilities; on the false claim that this is how modern science has worked for centuries. [As we saw above, Newton knew better, and the procedures he identified -- which not only work well but are the basis of the classic high school level "definitions" of science and its methods, were definitely rooted in theistic soil])

    [ . . . ]

  271. 2] Recirculating already answered but now buried objections

    One of the rhetorical stratagems I have seen over the years with evo mat advocates is how often they recirculate already answered, fallacious objections, refusing to engage in real progressive dialogue. In thread after thread the same weak objections come up, and no matter how cogently they are answered in thread or by weak argument correctives, after a pause, they will be trotted out again. And again.

    Sometimes, even within the same thread.

    This happened with the issue of the materialist definition of science, and, in the cross-thread form, it has also happened with:

    3] Trying to indict the God of the Bible as moral monster and those who follow Him as “accomplices”

    Just above, Seversky has again tried to rebut my having pointed out to him [May 11 Bad theology thread, no 36] the actual definitive core of Biblical morality, its significance in many reformation and liberation movements across long centuries, by diverting the discussion to a longstanding village atheist atmosphere-poisoning objection now latterly taken up by the new atheists:

    I have no need of rhetoric. The stories are all there in the Bible for anyone to read and I would invite anyone who’s interested to do just that; read it and judge for yourself.

    a –> This first neatly side-steps the inherent amorality of evolutionary materialist atheism, as CH has pointed out again (and as was repeatedly pointed out).

    b –> The appeal to “judge for yourself” implies that moral obligations are binding, i.e. there must be an IS that grounds OUGHT.

    c –> Again [as has been repeatedly dismissed or studiously ignored, not answered on the merits], the only such adequate is, is a good and wise Creator God, who makes a cosmos in accord with his nature, and in creating creatures capable of moral self-government and of love, are able to choose to love and act on love. Such creatures, even if they sometimes choose wrongly, bring a whole new order of good in the cosmos.

    d –> By contrast, evolutionary materialists are forced to appeal to “consensus” or such like relativist terms. But, when the consensus of a society is that say blacks or Jews are subhumans and may be enslaved or eliminated, then by definition that is “moral.” And, would be reformers trying to “judge for [them]selves” are by definition immoral and unjust. (This is just one of many ways in which relativist amorlaity fails to provide a sound basis for moral reasoning.)

    e –> In short, radical relativists are either muddle headed on morality, parasiting off the remaining bits of traditional views they accept [for now], and/or they are manipulators trying to cast bits and pieces of moral reasoning against one another, to stir up our emotions and discredit the whole to get through their particular agenda of the moment.

    f –> For after all, if morality is merely the “consensus” of a community, whatever the power brokers are willing to fight for is by definition “right”: i.e. might makes right.

    g –> So, when such an evolutionary materialist, radical relativist makes a moral objection, we need to first challenge him to ground OUGHT, or else sit by in silence, instead of allowing him to twist our hearts and minds into whatever agenda he is currently pursuing. here, trying to indict God and those who may follow him as moral monsters.

    h –> We may then send him to examine the actual core of Biblical Morality, demanding that he not only ground the force of oughtness on a morally sound worldview foundation, but that he respect the core heritage of our civilisation by first simply acknowledging that it exists, right there in the text as the declarative primary principles of morality:

    (1)Matt. 7:12 . . . in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

    (2) Matt 22:37 – 40: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

    (3) Rom 13:8 – 10: “8 . . . he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,”[a] and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

    (a) Deuteronomy 6:1 – 18: These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe . . . Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey . . . . Hear, O Israel, the LORD your God is one [Heb., echad: complex, rather than simple, unity. (This verse is the Shema, the great prayer/creed of Judaism.)]. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them . . . . When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers . . . then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery . . . Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you . . .

    (b)Leviticus 19:15 – 18: Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favouritism to the great, but judge your neighbour fairly. Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbour frankly so you will not share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the LORD.

    i –> For many days now, Sev has been utterly unable to simply acknowledge that these texts exist or that they are the declarative core of Biblical morality, not to mention that they have played a key role in many reformation and liberation movements in our civilisation across the long centuries.

    j –> As, I know full well as the descendant of slaves and the spiritual heir of the gospel-driven reformers who fought for fifty years to end that institution. Which, I brought to Sev’s attention only to be studiously ignored. (And of course this reflects yet another biblical principle, the hardness of hearts principle and how reforms have to reckon with what is feasible at a given stage of civilisation.)

    k –> So, Sev needs to know that until I can see evidence of balance and dialogue on his part, I have to view him as an agenda-driven advocate, seeking to object, twist and manipulate to overthrow, and in a context of an amoral radically relativist worldview that is a proven threat to civlisation; as the ghosts of 100+ million victims of atheistical or evolutionary materialism-dominated regimes over the past 100 years moan out to us in grim warning.

    l –> Now, too, in the other thread, I cited the dialogue between God and his prophet over the warned but averted destructive judgement of Assyria, a cruel predatory regime that was a plague on the earth in those days. Hear Jonah’s objection to God’s relenting in Judgment as the leaders and people sought forgiveness and mercy:

    Joh 4:1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

    m –> If God was simply the capricious, homicidal maniac and moral monster that Sev would portray, why is it that Jonah — who plainly wanted the Assyrian threat against Israel wiped out — why then did Jonah know right off that God was likely to treat the Assyrians with compassion and forgiveness?

    n –> The answer is that his words and deeds across the centuries of relationship with Israel and the nations, even where he was acting as Judge, showed that God was gracious and compassionate. So, while indeed there is a severity of the God of the Bible that is at times a painful challenge [a healthy sign that principles of morality are influencing us], at the same time, he is compassionate and relents in destructive national judgement [in effect a war of containment and breaking up of power centres of spreading destructive evil: oh Jamaica, oh America . . . ]where even a tiny fraction will turn in repentance. (Cf Gen 19.)

    o –> So, radical relativist, evolutionary materialism influenced objectors to the God of the Bible and biblical morality should understand that informed theists of the Judaeo-Christian tradition see that first principles of morality are first principles, and recognise that while the God of the Bible may indeed act with severity in national judgment [including against Israel many, many times], such is tempered by compassion and may often be averted if a people will repent, even at the last.

    p –> And, we recognise that the magistrate’s duty of wielding the sword of justice in defense of the civil peace of justice, likewise calls for due severity on the part of people who need to simultaneously be of the highest character and compassion. This is a tension, and is utterly painful for the men and women who make our best civil authorities; but in a world in which there are determined evildoers [individual and collective] who cannot be reasoned with, the power of the sword of justice is an ugly necessity.

    q –> And, from this, we can see a little bit of how the same extends to the God of the Bible as supreme judge and magistrate of the world.

    r –> So, onlookers, you are invited to look on the alternatives in light of comparative difficulties. (Note, this includes examining this cluster of evidence that points to the reality of the God of the Bible in light of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, as attested to by the 500+ witnesses at the core of the church’s foundation.)

    [ . . . ]

  272. 4] Trying to dismiss the issue of the evident self-referential incoherence of evolutionary materialism by tagging it with the name “Plantinga” and dismissing without further serious consideration

    Alvin Plantinga is of course a leading philosopher, whose arguments have cogently addressed q broad range of serious issues; so they should not be dismissed out of hand by a negative appeal to authority: I do not listen to that one.

    Letus again observe teh actual issue onthe evidence tha tshows that evoutionary marteilaist reducitonism reduced mind to brfain conrrolled by forces of genetic and socio-cultural conditioning etc, thus is self referential and incoherent. For, if reasoning, deciding, choosing etc are indeed subjective choices but those choices are in turn wholly produced and controlled by chance and necessity independent of logical ground and consequent — i.e. I here show my actual chain of intellectual debt to C S Lewis — and the force of ought, then even such materialism is determined by forces that have nothing to do with logic, truth, evidence or reasonableness.

    Citing history of biology prof William Provine at he 1998 University of Tennessee Darwin Day keynote speech:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . . humans are locally determined systems< that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    So, prof Provine made choices to speak and what to say, but the actual substance was causally determined by forces that trace to chance circumstances and mechanically necessary forces. So, there is no ground on such premises for the truth or falsity of claims, or for the logical consequents of such truths to lead a willing mind to a true and sound conclusion. The feeling that we are reasoning, in short, reduces to an illusion, on such premises. Thus, reduction to self-referential absurdity as was pointed out above:

    . . . [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. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” . . . . In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic.

    Materialists typically dismiss, but cannot cogently reply to this. For the cogency of an attempted reply depends on appeal to the minds and to the freely willed logical reasoning process that such a worldview so confidently dismisses.

    As a way out of the materialist trap, I have long since drawn attention to what Eng Derek Smith suggests: we may profitably view the brain-body system as a supervised i/o MIMO control loop, with the mind acting as a supervisory controller, that interacts informationally and perceptually. Perhaps, Penrose and Hameroff’s microtubules are a suitable site for quantum level influence of mind on body and sensing of body-brain state by mind.

    In any case, we are far more directly conscious of ourselves as minded, enconscienced,conscious creatures, than we are of any experiences of he world we have via this primary experience of ourselves as beings.

    I join with the millions who for excellent common sense reason, hold that any worldview that brings this prime reality into question, decisively undercuts its own credibility.

    For it is self-referentially absurd, even if it is labelled “science.”

    _______________

    GEM of TKI

  273. Upright BiPed @265,

    No analogies are needed.

    But it is ID’s analogy I am addressing.

    In order for DNA to be considered a “digital” code, as has been stated many times by kairosfocus and others, there must be a “digital” decoding support mechanism.

    If you cannot show me that “digital” decoding mechanism, then you have not shown that DNA is “digital code” and kairosfocus and others who think that are clearly wrong.

  274. –Aleta: “I believe this subject got adequately sometime with you sometime in the past year or so, and I’m not going to get involved in that.”

    Is this another case of a Darwinist believing that a thing can both be true and false at the same time, that is, “you are not going to get involved,” yet you are going to get involved.

    –”Seeking natural explanations has been what science has been about for 500 years.”

    The issue is not about whether science is or has been “primarily” about natural explanations. The issue is about whether science is or has been “exclusively” about natural explanations. To the first point, the answer is yes; to the second point, the answer is no.

    —”I know what your position is, and I don’t agree with you.”

    Apparently, you don’t know my position, because you always fail to make the critical distinction that I just made.

    –”But it is a fact – not prescribed by an elite but just a fact about how people behave – that science seeks natural explanations.”

    It is a fact that you continue to miss the distinction, as is evident in that comment.

    –”A very small minority of ID advocates want to change this, but that is not a sufficient reason for saying that things have changed.”

    What has changed is the fact that one group of scientists have tried to establish a rule that others must follow. That is a change and that is a fact.

    But since you are not getting involved, I will, nevertheless, look forward to your uninvolved response.

  275. 275

    Nakashima,

    [W]hile at the same time arguing that there is considerable evidence for other sections of the genetic code being determined by chemical affinities.

    What would those chemical “affinities” be, reckon? It wouldn’t be their chemical interactions. What do you mean by “affinities”?

  276. Nakashima,

    Correct me if I am wrong, but are you stating with the article that you linked that DNA is not coded information?

  277. Mr Hayden,

    Yes, it would be their chemical interactions. The 3D shape of the RNA and its pattern of positive and negative charges, and how that fits (or doesn’t) with the shape and charge distribution of the amino acid. For some parts of the genetic code, the stereochemical hypothesis holds that codon XXX means amino acid Y because they have some chemical affinity to each other.

    Such an affinity isn’t the same as forming a long term bond to each other as part of the same molecule. If you were looking at a mix of RNAs and amino acids in a test tube, the affinity might be characterized as the two molecules staying close to each other for longer than you would expect based on probability alone. As a made-up example, UUU and phenylalanine (which don’t have a great affinity for each other according to this research) might typically hang around each other for one bazillionth of a second, while CGG and arginine might hang around near each other for two bazillionths of a second. As has been mentioned before by several people on both sides of the OOL debate, being in the same place at the same time is the first prerequisite for any association to form.

    (Note that while Mr BiPed was speaking about thymine (T) and phenylalanine, the actual genetic code is an association of uracil and phenylalanine – U being substituted for T when passing from DNA to RNA.)

    Other parts of the code might be frozen accidents or preferred for error reducing reasons over competing codes. Research in this area proceeds on the hypothesis that the code did not form all at once, or necessarily quickly.

  278. 278

    Nakashima,

    Biochemical Predestination has grown out of favor with the growing knowledge of what is required.

  279. Toronto (and Nakashima-San):

    Kindly look — yet again — at the long since well known genetic code table here, noting 4 states per base by 3 bases per codon yields 4^3 – 64 states. Number of discrete states per digit: G/C/A/T (or U for RNA), i.e. four.

    Next, observe the step by step, finite [start and stop codes!] –i.e. algorithmic — procedure of transcription, transmission/ translocation, reading and translation — which implies decoding — to form a discrete state sequence of 20-state per position amino acids in a chain, i.e. an informationally specified protein, here.

    In short we see finite purposeful digital information processing using stored digital data transcribed, transferred to a processing unit and then used to form a useful entity under step by step control, from start to finish.

    (Note this video is of the simpler version, for prokaryotes; we are not dealing with eukaryotes with introns and exons and assembling segments, a further informationally controlled step.)

    _______________

    Onlookers:

    When you can look at something as directly and patently evident as the above, time after time, and still find yourself in denial and in twisting and turning to find a strained, specious objection, that is telling.

    It is very plain, that the sort of complex information and programmed information processing in the cell point strongly to the most credible source of such an entity: art, not blind chance and undirected mechanical necessity.

    That is why there are plainly selectively hyperskeptical and insistent objections that a coded discrete sequence is not a digital code that bears or transfers information or processes it in a step by step finite sequence.

    If objections are that strained, then the objectors are plainly on the back foot trying to stave off a clean bowl.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  280. PS: This video spells it out simply.

  281. PPS: Above was translation to chain AAs. Here NDSU spells out transcription (though it does not detail the DNA unzipping and the sequential addition of mRNA bases).

  282. PPPS: Splicing; note the use of headers and markers to signal where to cut and paste together the mRNA strand that is then passed over to the Ribosome for AA chaining.

  283. kairosfocus @279,
    Take a CD and put it on a turntable.

    Now lower the arm and with the turntable spinning and the needle contacting the CD, listen.

    Repeat the same experiment with a vinyl record.

    You will hear a song being played by the vinyl record, but not the CD.

    The vinyl record is the song, while the CD contains digital code that represents the sound.

    You say the DNA is like a CD and I say it is like a vinyl record.

    There is no level of indirection with DNA as you see with digital music.

    Claiming that analog processing is proof of digital decoding doesn’t fly.

    Where is the “digital” decoding of the DNA, as opposed to the analog processing, done?

  284. P4S: Observe, kindly [Wiki has a nice diagram here], that in the tRNA, the anticodon that matches [key-lock style] to the codon triplet [AUG etc] framed in the A site of the ribosome, is on the opposite end to the amino acid, a significant number of nanometres away. And, the AAs are released from the tRNA and attached to one another in a sequenced, controlled chain, forcing chemical bonding in a digitally specified, functional pattern. That onward functionality depends on 3-d folding [which may have to be chaperoned, nb prions as mis-folded proteins . . . mad cow disease, scrapies etc], often on agglomeration of clusters of AA chains, and on incorporation of activating atoms etc.

  285. @StephenB

    In regards to methodological naturalism, I think you will find this article rather interesting.

    http://www.metanexus.net/Magaz.....fault.aspx

  286. Mr Hayden,

    Biochemical Predestination has grown out of favor with the growing knowledge of what is required.

    I don’t think it is appropriate to conflate Kenyon’s idea of protein assembly with a theory on the emergence of the genetic code. Kenyon and others failed to find strong AA to AA constraints. It is also true that nucleotide to nucleotide constraints are weak, though they exist. Neither of those addresses AA to nucleotide relationships, which is what the stereochemical hypothesis is investigating.

  287. Above, interesting. G

  288. KF-san,

    Thank you for the review of where we are now, after 3.something billion years. Ask yourself, is it at all possible this system was different or simpler in the past? Staring in wonder at the current system is not going to help answer that question.

  289. Toronto:

    A vinyl record stores a processed analogue of a song [often with RIAA pre-emphasis, and sometimes, stereo channels in physical quadrature], in wavy grooves in a spiral path.

    A digital CD stores the discretely coded information for a song or a picture or computer data and instructions etc.

    DNA stores the coded genetic data that when transcribed, transmitted, and processed codon by codon, a 64 state process, chains a protein, based on essentially a 20-state amino acid system.

    This process is plainly discrete state and is digital. It is also an algorithmic, step by step controlled process.

    Have you taken time to simply look at the standard codon translation table?

    If so answer this, what are the defined states between the 64 tabulated codes?

    By contrast, to high resolution, between any two points on a vinyl record track, there is another valid position, i.e the record varies smoothly as the wax allows.

    Discrete state, digital; continuous state, analogue.

    Think: ladder vs climbing rope.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  290. kairosfocus @287,
    What I am trying to point out is that a vinyl record does not require a level of indirection to operate, while a CD does.

    When you and other ID supporters use the computer analogy, you are implying that at least one level of indirection exists between the symbolic code, (in this case DNA), and cellular operation.

    If this is true, then we should clearly see the support mechanism for this indirection, for example, an ALU, address decoder, program counter, etc.

    If we don’t see a clearly defined support mechanism that is completely separate from what you have called “digital code”, then DNA is not a “symbolic representation” of a part of the process, it would actually “be” a part of the process.

    So if DNA is like a CD instead of a vinyl record, show me the support mechanism for a level of indirection.

    Analog processes won’t do since it is you who have claimed it is “digital code”.

  291. PS: Moreover, frame slips or shifts [including a class of mutations], reversed codes, and the like speak to how the DNA coding is discrete state.

  292. tgpeeler @ 267

    I have a question for you, Sev. Why is being a hypocrite (not that God is, but for the sake of argument…) morally offensive to you?

    First, I find it offensive when someone presumes to pontificate to me about their morality and then they ignore it when it suits them.

    Second, it demonstrates a clear double standard: in effect, it is saying ‘I think these moral prescriptions should be binding on you not but not on me’ which invites the obvious counter ‘if they are not good enough for you, why should they apply to me?’

    Third, when asserted in practice by God, it establishes the primacy of power. We know God is omnipotent and can do anything He chooses. The only thing that could possibly restrain Him is if He were to voluntarily accept moral constraints on His exercise of power. By refusing to do that He is saying might is right.

    Fourth, if anyone, God included, cannot or will not abide by their own morality then why should anyone else?

    If you ground all explanations for everything in natural laws (physics) then which one of those physical laws tells us it’s wrong to murder, steal, lie, or do anything? Just curious.

    None of them. There is no logical way to ground moral prescriptions in nature. The Universe cares nothing about what we do do to one another. But we do. I would like to live out my life without someone stealing my property and I would like to die of natural causes at a ripe old age rather than being murdered before my time. So, I’m sure, would you. So would most people. So it shouldn’t be too hard for people to get together and agree on some basic rules of social behavior which keeps everybody happy, should it?

  293. sev @ 289

    “First, I find it offensive when someone presumes to pontificate to me about their morality and then they ignore it when it suits them.”

    Agreed. But not on point.

    “Second, it demonstrates a clear double standard: in effect, it is saying ‘I think these moral prescriptions should be binding on you not but not on me’ which invites the obvious counter ‘if they are not good enough for you, why should they apply to me?’”

    Again, agreed. Again, not on point.

    “Third, when asserted in practice by God, it establishes the primacy of power. We know God is omnipotent and can do anything He chooses. The only thing that could possibly restrain Him is if He were to voluntarily accept moral constraints on His exercise of power. By refusing to do that He is saying might is right.”

    Perhaps a fine point here that you do not grasp. God is omnipotent but He cannot do “anything He chooses.” He can only do what is consistent with His essence. For example, He cannot be irrational since He is pure Reason (I AM). He cannot sin since He is perfectly righteous. He cannot terminate His existence since He is a Necessary Being. And so on.

    So He does not wield power capriciously or arbitrarily. He always acts in accordance with His essence/character. All of it. I’ve noticed that when I’m the aggrieved party I’m more interested in God being Just. When I’m the offender I’m all about His grace and mercy. :-)

    “Fourth, if anyone, God included, cannot or will not abide by their own morality then why should anyone else?”

    Why indeed? Are you setting yourself up to judge God? Personally, I have enough trouble of my own trying to not be an a$$hole without fretting over God’s behavior. I find that His doings are generally not the problem in the circles where I hang. When I want to see where the problem lies I have found that the mirror is usually a good place to start my search.

    “None of them. There is no logical way to ground moral prescriptions in nature. The Universe cares nothing about what we do do to one another. But we do.”

    The question on the table is “WHY?” If there is no logical ground, then there is no ground at all. If we want this, then there must be a reason why we want it. You rightly say it cannot be found in physics. So where? I say it’s grounded in the character of God.

    “I would like to live out my life without someone stealing my property and I would like to die of natural causes at a ripe old age rather than being murdered before my time. So, I’m sure, would you. So would most people. So it shouldn’t be too hard for people to get together and agree on some basic rules of social behavior which keeps everybody happy, should it?”

    Indeed it should not. The problem is not God, it’s people. The rules have been given to us again and again – see kf’s excerpts from Hebrew Bible and New Testament. When we rebel we not only disobey we also often turn on our Creator as we survey the wreckage in our lives and say “how could You let this happen?” I think at that point God says “are you talking to Me? I did this???? I don’t think so…”

    And speaking of those basic rules, how about the 10 commandments or their summary in Matthew 7:12 which says it all? If I want grace from others, I should be gracious to them. If I want love, kindness, forgiveness, patience, etc.. ditto. And who among us doesn’t want those things? It’s so simple even a Marine can understand it.

    It would be an interesting exercise, I’d bet, for you to come up with your rules for getting along. I’ll bet they would end up looking a lot like the Biblical prescriptions.

    Best…

  294. Seversky:

    I have further responded to you over in the other thread.

    I endorse TGP’s remarks just above. (Well done, Marine!)

    However, perhaps you need to look here at a remark by Koukl, to start your own reflections on evil and its import for worldviews vs realities:

    Evil is real . . . That’s why people object to it. Therefore, objective moral standards must exist as well [i.e. as that which evil offends and violates] . . . . The first thing we observe about [such] moral rules is that, though they exist, they are not physical because they don’t seem to have physical properties. We won’t bump into them in the dark. They don’t extend into space. They have no weight. They have no chemical characteristics. Instead, they are immaterial things we discover through the process of thought, introspection, and reflection without the aid of [though informed by experiences acquired through the use of] our five senses . . . .

    We have, with a high degree of certainty, stumbled upon something real. Yet it’s something that can’t be proven empirically or described in terms of natural laws. This teaches us there’s more to the world than just the physical universe. If non-physical things–like moral rules–truly exist, then materialism as a world view is false.

    There seem to be many other things that populate the world, things like propositions, numbers, and the laws of logic. Values like happiness, friendship, and faithfulness are there, too, along with meanings and language. There may even be persons–souls [thus minds], angels, and other divine beings.

    Our discovery also tells us some things really exist that science has no access to, even in principle. Some things are not governed by natural laws. Science, therefore, is not the only discipline giving us true information about the world. [a great error of contemporary education, and one ever so convenient tot he Lewontinian a priori materialists] It follows, then, that naturalism as a world view is also false.

    Our discovery of moral rules forces us to expand our understanding of the nature of reality and open our minds to the possibility of a host of new things that populate the world in the invisible realm.

    Also, I am distinctly troubled by your insistence on the notion that there is no worldview that can provide an IS that logically grounds OUGHT.

    For, your substitutes, “consensus” and your own feelings, are grossly inadequate to ground moral behaviour — e.g. the point of temptation is that it subverts moral reason through arousing strong emotions [guess who is the true "patron saint" of advertising?]. And, by definition, a moral reformer challenges the “consensus” of his day; consensus being little more than a euphemism for the balance of power of the power elites, i.e. the plainly arbitrary and absurd premise: “might makes right.”

    Nope, you need to think about how the objectionable reality we call evil is real, and entails that moral principle is real and binding as a well-grounded ought that is inbuilt in our consciences. Thence, we see that the only IS that soundly grounds ought is a good, wise Creator God who has made us equally in his image. No wonder your founding fathers wrote thusly, when they sought to make a truly free and just state, however flawed the initial and onward steps were and would be:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 - 21, 2:14 - 15, 3:1 - 10], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

    And, I beg to remind you that the principal — but not sole — author of this, also said that he trembled for his native land when he reflected on the proposition that God is Just. Indeed, it is appropriate to draw your attention to the call to prayer of May 1776, by that same Continental Congress that issued the above declaration in July:

    May 1776 [over the name of John Hancock, first signer of the US Declaration of Indpependence]:

    In times of impending calamity and distress; when the liberties of America are imminently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive administration, it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publickly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of freedom, virtue, and posterity. [Cf Jonah, esp chs 3 - 4] . . . Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God’s superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely, in all their lawful enterprizes, on his aid and direction, Do earnestly recommend, that Friday, the Seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies; . . . that it may please the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, to animate our officers and soldiers with invincible fortitude, to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown the continental arms, by sea and land, with victory and success: Earnestly beseeching him to bless our civil rulers, and the representatives of the people, in their several assemblies and conventions; to preserve and strengthen their union, to inspire them with an ardent, disinterested love of their country; to give wisdom and stability to their counsels; and direct them to the most efficacious measures for establishing the rights of America on the most honourable and permanent basis—That he would be graciously pleased to bless all his people in these colonies with health and plenty, and grant that a spirit of incorruptible patriotism, and of pure undefiled religion, may universally prevail; and this continent be speedily restored to the blessings of peace and liberty, . . .

    [Cf Preamble and conclusion, US Constitution, 1787:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America . . . . [Main Body, Arts I - VII] . . . . Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth. In Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names. . . . . [AMENDMENTS].]

    . . . and enabled to transmit them inviolate to the latest posterity. And it is recommended to Christians of all denominations, to assemble for public worship, and abstain from servile labour on the said day.

    Yes, that was an official decreee of the founding Congress of the USA, one that plainly reveals the mindset of the Declaration of Independence I cited above; and thence throws considerable light on the true foundations of modern liberty and democracy. One of many of like ilk . . . no prizes for guessing why such are NOT commonly cited in today’s school history textbooks. Indeed, you may find it profitable to look at an online display by the Library of Congress, starting from here. Excerpting:

    The Continental-Confederation Congress, a legislative body that governed the United States from 1774 to 1789, contained an extraordinary number of deeply religious men . . . both the legislators and the public considered it appropriate for the national government to promote a nondenominational, nonpolemical Christianity . . . . Congress was guided by “covenant theology,” a Reformation doctrine especially dear to New England Puritans, which held that God bound himself in an agreement with a nation and its people . . . The first national government of the United States, was convinced that the “public prosperity” of a society depended on the vitality of its religion. Nothing less than a “spirit of universal reformation among all ranks and degrees of our citizens,” Congress declared to the American people, would “make us a holy, that so we may be a happy people.”

    I trust this also helps to rebalance your views on practical Christian morality in the course of our Civilisation’s history, and in light of the core teachings I have cited. In particular, it will show the real, informed Christian view on the Judgements of God over the nations.

    I also suppose that the above will help us see the difference between truth as that which says of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not; and the “alternative reality” view that seeks to twist truth into the radically relativist notion of which story is most persuasive.

    Smacking into reality . . .

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  295. I would also like to add to this discussion about moral standards, the idea introduced by Hasker (if I am not mistaken) of the absurdity of moral relativism.

    What he says in a nutshell is that the moral relativist/materialist will doubt the existence of objective morality (behavioral as it pertains to humans) to accomodate his worldview. However, what we never see is the same principle applied to other (non-behavioral areas) such as the scientific enterprise. Whether one is aware of it or not, the scientific enterprised in grounded in ethical standards, which attempt to differentiate good science from bad/pseudo-science. So Hasker asks, why is it that the moral relativist rejects objective standards in regards to human behavior but upholds them in the case of the scientific enterprise?

    The point being, whether we like it or not, objective ethical standards are not only actual but they are inescapable and necessary in practically most if not all realms of human existence.

  296. 296

    above,

    So Hasker asks, why is it that the moral relativist rejects objective standards in regards to human behavior but upholds them in the case of the scientific enterprise?

    The point being, whether we like it or not, objective ethical standards are not only actual but they are inescapable and necessary in practically most if not all realms of human existence.

    Exactly. Well put.

  297. Clive Hayden @ 268

    I judge that the stories show God as a just God. Do you have a standard to disagree with my judgment other than your own personal whim? Would you also tell me that I am wrong, and wrong in the same subjective way, for not liking cheese?

    I disagree with you for the reasons I have given before. My point has always been that there is no empirical way to decide between our two perspectives. If you have such a test then let’s hear it.

  298. tgpeeler @ 293

    Perhaps a fine point here that you do not grasp. God is omnipotent but He cannot do “anything He chooses.” He can only do what is consistent with His essence. For example, He cannot be irrational since He is pure Reason (I AM). He cannot sin since He is perfectly righteous. He cannot terminate His existence since He is a Necessary Being. And so on.

    In other words, God is constrained by his nature – those properties which make Him God and not something else or just chaos – just like any other being. That is all naturalism meant in one sense, the study of the nature of things. The problem for Christians is that God is also presumed to be perfect. That implies two properties: first, that He does not change because any change away from perfection must be towards imperfection, something a perfect being cannot do and, second, that He cannot create imperfection because that, in itself, would be imperfection.

    So He does not wield power capriciously or arbitrarily. He always acts in accordance with His essence/character. All of it. I’ve noticed that when I’m the aggrieved party I’m more interested in God being Just. When I’m the offender I’m all about His grace and mercy. :-)

    We are all human with all-too-human weaknesses and strengths. If we are charitable, and we don’t need to be Christian to be that, we make allowances for others and hope they will do the same for us.

    The only evidence we have for God’s nature is from the Bible. Unfortunately, the evidence in the Old Testament does suggest a God who is, on occasion, capricious, arbitrary, vengeful, etc. Maybe He has decent motives and sound, logical reason for doing what He does. The problem is He seems reluctant to share them with the rest of us. Apparently, He prefers to rule by decree and threats – and acts – of retribution. It could all be just a misunderstanding but that’s something He could easily have corrected – and still could.

    Why indeed? Are you setting yourself up to judge God? Personally, I have enough trouble of my own trying to not be an a$$hole without fretting over God’s behavior. I find that His doings are generally not the problem in the circles where I hang. When I want to see where the problem lies I have found that the mirror is usually a good place to start my search.

    I’m sure you have moral standards like most other people. I’m also sure that there are acts described in the Old Testament which, if they had been perpetrated by anyone other than God, you would condemn as much as I do. So why not when God does them?

    The question on the table is “WHY?” If there is no logical ground, then there is no ground at all. If we want this, then there must be a reason why we want it. You rightly say it cannot be found in physics. So where? I say it’s grounded in the character of God.

    It depends on what you mean by “grounded”. If you mean some sort of incontrovertible, axiomatic base from which all else flows deductively then you will not find it outside formal systems like logic or mathematics. If you want dogmatic certainty then religion can provide it but how do you choose between all the different ones available? Hence my view that the only reasonable ground is our collective interests as human beings.

    One further point: everyone wants certainty. That’s part of human nature. Unfortunately, in one sense, that is the reason for much of the evil in the world. People who commit terrible crimes and atrocities in the name of their chosen faith or political ideology do so because they believe they are acting in the cause of some Ultimate Truth. They have found the certainty they sought and believe that almost any acts are justified in promoting it. If you believe that the only way to save someone’s immortal soul is to kill them then you do it. That is why you will find religious fanatics flying planes into buildings or blowing themselves up with explosive vests but you won’t find agnostics doing the same thing.

    And speaking of those basic rules, how about the 10 commandments or their summary in Matthew 7:12 which says it all? If I want grace from others, I should be gracious to them. If I want love, kindness, forgiveness, patience, etc.. ditto. And who among us doesn’t want those things? It’s so simple even a Marine can understand it.

    The Ten Commandments are fine as far as the go, especially when coupled with the Golden Rule, but you have to wonder why there are prohibitions against idolatry and swearing but not against, say, rape or child abuse which most people would say are much more serious offenses. Still, I’m sure Marines are much better at covering their neighbor’s ass than coveting it.

  299. Onlookers:

    After hundreds of posts, Seversky is still unfortunately unable to take a balanced view of the moral precepts, context and concerns of the Bible, OT and NT.

    At least, he has now acknowledged this much:

    The Ten Commandments are fine as far as the go, especially when coupled with the Golden Rule, but you have to wonder why there are prohibitions against idolatry and swearing but not against, say, rape or child abuse which most people would say are much more serious offenses . . .

    Let’s note, that as an evolutionary materialist atheist, he has no worldview-foundational IS that grounds OUGHT. But, even at one remove, he is making moral judgements, however flawed. Such a sense that ought is real, as we discussed above, points tot he reality of an IS Who can indeed ground OUGHT: the good, just God who is also our Creator and Saviour.

    As to his concerns on the relative merits and significance of the ten commandments, let us note briefly from Wikipedia’s surprisingly helpful summary of traditional Jewish teaching.

    I add remarks on arrow points:
    ___________________

    >> According to the Medieval Sefer ha-Chinuch, the first four statements concern the relationship between God and humans, while the next six statements concern the relationships between people. Rabbinic literature holds that the Ten Statements in fact contain 14 or 15 distinct instructions; see listing under Yitro (parsha).

    1. “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me…”

    This commandment is to believe in the existence of God and His influence on events in the world [33], and that the goal of the redemption from Egypt was to become His servants (Rashi). It prohibits belief in or worship of any additional deities.

    –> Our ultimate loyalty and gratitude is to the One who is our Creator, Lord and deliverer, who enters into covenant with us

    –> No one and nothing should be allowed to usurp that priority

    2. “Do not make an image or any likeness of what is in the heavens above…”

    This prohibits the construction or fashioning of “idols” in the likeness of created things (beasts, fish, birds, people) and worshipping them.

    –> The making of idols is the first step to worshiping them, and marks the substitution of creature for Creator that Rom 1 denounces:

    19 . . . what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

    –> Note the significance of the joint testimony of the world without and the heart and mind within

    3. “Do not swear falsely by the name of the LORD…”

    This commandment is to never take the name of God in a vain, pointless or insincere oath.[34]

    –> More deeply and broadly, we are not to misuse the Name of God, e.g. by claiming to act in his name, while serving selfish or even wicked or empty ends that do him no glory

    4. “Remember [zachor] the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (the version in Deuteronomy reads shamor, “observe”)

    The seventh day of the week is termed Shabbat and is holy, just as God ceased creative activity during Creation. The aspect of zachor is performed by declaring the greatness of the day (kiddush), by having three festive meals, and by engaging in Torah study and pleasurable activities. The aspect of shamor is performed by abstaining from productive activity (39 melachot) on the Shabbat.

    –> Time to rest, restore oneself and primary relationships, with God and others, through worship and reflection and prayer

    5. “Honor your father and your mother…”

    The obligation to honor one’s parents is an obligation that one owes to God and fulfills this obligation through one’s actions towards one’s parents.

    –> respect the first authorities placed over you under God

    [ . . . ]

  300. 6. “Do not murder”

    Murdering a human being is a capital sin.[35]

    –> Man is made in God’s image and is of eternal worth. Murder is a defiance of and hateful disrespect to both God and one’s neighbour,issuing in the stealing of his life.

    –> But murder does not start with gun, sword, knife, club, rock or poison etc, it starts with destructive false words, thoughts and hate

    –> This Jesus brings out with great force in the Sermon on the Mount.

    7. “Do not commit adultery.”

    Adultery is defined as sexual intercourse between a man and a married woman who is not his wife.[34]

    –> But also, the problem is far broader than this, and starts with the look of lust.

    8. “Do not steal.”

    According to the Talmud,[36] this commandment refers to kidnapping and not to theft of material property, as theft of property is forbidden elsewhere,[37] and it is not a capital offense. In this context it is to be taken as “do not kidnap.”

    –> I think the Talmud is wrong on the general force

    –> Matthew Henry, as usual is wise and apt:

    The eighth commandment concerns our own and our neighbour’s wealth, estate, and goods: Thou shalt not steal, Exo_20:15. Though God had lately allowed and appointed them to spoil the Egyptians in a way of just reprisal, yet he did not intend that it should be drawn into a precedent and that they should be allowed thus to spoil one another. This command forbids us to rob ourselves of what we have by sinful spending, or of the use and comfort of it by sinful sparing, and to rob others by removing the ancient landmarks, invading our neighbour’s rights, taking his goods from his person, or house, or field, forcibly or clandestinely, over-reaching in bargains, nor restoring what is borrowed or found, withholding just debts, rents, or wages, and (which is worst of all) to rob the public in the coin or revenue, or that which is dedicated to the service of religion.

    –> Rape [by force or fraud or taking advantage of the young or simple -- and yes I include what we excuse as seduction here; especially when aided by alcohol or drugs], of course, is a peculiarly horrible and personally damaging variety of theft

    –> So is murder, but murder is so heinous that it is in a class of its own

    –> And the theft of another person’s life begins with slanderous words that unjustly damage his or her reputation and livelihood

    9. “Do not bear false witness against your neighbor”

    One must not bear false witness in a court of law or other proceeding.

    –> This speaks particularly to proceedings of justice, but he commandment carries the general force that one should not willfully deceive or slander those who are fellow members of the civil peace of justice

    –> This includes saying things that one does or should know better than to say {No prizes for guessing why I take today’s sadly typical politicised rhetorical trifecta fallacy pattern of distraction, distortion, denigration and polarisation very very seriously]

    10. “Do not covet your neighbor’s wife [etc]“

    One is forbidden to desire and plan how one may obtain that which God has given to another. Maimonides makes a distinction in codifying the laws between the instruction given here in Exodus (You shall not covet) and that given in Deuteronomy (You shall not desire), according to which one does not violate the Exodus commandment unless there is a physical action associated with the desire, even if this is legally purchasing an envied object.

    –> The coveting or envious lust of the eyes that sees and wants that which it has no proper right to is utterly forbidden.

    –> Matthew Henry is again apt:

    The tenth commandment strikes at the root: Thou shalt not covet, Exo_20:17. The foregoing commands implicitly forbid all desire of doing that which will be an injury to our neighbour; this forbids all inordinate desire of having that which will be a gratification to ourselves. “O that such a man’s house were mine! Such a man’s wife mine! Such a man’s estate mine!” This is certainly the language of discontent at our own lot, and envy at our neighbour’s; and these are the sins principally forbidden here. St. Paul, when the grace of God caused the scales to fall from his eyes, perceived that this law, Thou shalt not covet, forbade all those irregular appetites and desires which are the first-born of the corrupt nature, the first risings of the sin that dwelleth in us, and the beginnings of all the sin that is committed by us: this is that lust which, he says, he had not known the evil of, if this commandment, when it came to his conscience in the power of it, had not shown it to him, Rom_7:7. God give us all to see our face in the glass of this law, and to lay our hearts under the government of it!

    –> Thus in a strange sense the last is in some ways the most important commandment, but until one has worked through the first nine, it becomes hard to see that!

    –> For, one does not get rid of a noxious weed until one has dug down to its last roots and pulled them up.

    –> And of course just because a woman or girl is not yet another man’s wife gives us no excuse to lay a trap for and exploit her.>>
    ____________________

    Rom 13 of course sums up the principle: do no harm to one’s neighbour.

    But, with the greatest significance, vv. 8 – 10 are in the context of 1 – 7, in which the servant of God responsible to defend the civil peace of Justice is established, armed and charged to bear the sword in that defence; holding the power of just and due taxation — not thieving in the name of doing the public good — in that prime context.

    It is in that light that we should read Jonah 1 – 4 and the May 1776 proclamation of the Founding US Congress [cf. 294 above], and understand how they saw the nascent US in significant part as in the position of Assyria; looking to the plank in their own eyes even as they spoke to the speck in England’s eyes.

    That should sober us and call us to a properly balanced view of the goodness and severity of God. Oh, Jamaica [now being publicly shamed before the world for national sins of decades standing], oh America, oh world.

    GEM of TKI

  301. I think we owe kairosfocus a vote of thanks for such a fine, impassioned sermon but, bearing in mind that God loves truth, it behoves his followers to take a balanced view of the role of Christianity in the founding and growth of the United States.

    The sad truth is that the early English colonists had imported some of the religious and social divisions and oppressions they had sought to escape by traveling to the New World. We have only to look at the treatment of Quakers by the Puritans in New England for evidence that human beings do not escape their natures so easily. The Founding Fathers were well aware of the problem which is why they wanted to keep government right out of religion and vice versa.

    The Founding Fathers themselves were unquestionably Christian and wholehearted in their faith. But it was also a wise thing to be in those days, at least in public. Remember that Edinburgh medical student, Thomas Aikenhead, was hanged for the blasphemy of expressing atheist views in private as late as January 8th 1697. The philosopher David Hume was also believed to be atheist but was tolerated because he was smart enough to keep his views to himself.

    The Founders, although Christian as previously noted, certainly did not all follow the same version of Christianity. The Wikipedia entry summarizes as follows:

    Lambert (2003) has examined the religious affiliations and beliefs of the Founders. Some of the 1787 delegates had no affiliation. The others were Protestants except for three Roman Catholics: C. Carroll, D. Carroll, and Fitzsimons. Among the Protestant delegates to the Constitutional Convention, 28 were Church of England (Episcopalian, after the Revolutionary War was won), eight were Presbyterians, seven were Congregationalists, two were Lutherans, two were Dutch Reformed, and two were Methodists, the total number being 49. Some of the more prominent Founding Fathers were anti-clerical or vocal about their opposition to organized religion, such as Thomas Jefferson[12][13] (who created the “Jefferson Bible”), and Benjamin Franklin[14]. However, other notable founders, such as Patrick Henry, were strong proponents of traditional religion. Several of the Founding Fathers considered themselves to be deists or held beliefs very similar to those of deists.[15]

    We know that some expressed strong views about religion. For example, Thomas Paine:

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    and

    Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.

    and

    It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.

    Thomas Jefferson’s views are better known:

    Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.

    or

    Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.

    or

    History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

    or

    The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.

    There is, I think, no question that the Founders wanted church and state kept entirely separate. Thomas Jefferson’s views, again, are well known:

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.

    He was not alone, though. James Madison also wrote:

    Nothwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Gov’ & Religion neither can be duly supported: Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded agst.. And in a Gov’ of opinion, like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Gov will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together;

    and

    That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some; and to their eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of impas for such business…”

    It was the Universal opinion of the Century preceding the last, that Civil Government could not stand without the prop of a religious establishment; and that the Christian religion itself, would perish if not supported by the legal provision for its clergy. The experience of Virginia conspiciously corroboates the disproof of both opinions. The Civil Government, tho’ bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success; whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the TOTAL SEPARATION OF THE CHURCH FROM THE STATE.

    Small wonder then that Congress found itself able to ratify the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797 which included Article 11:

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

    The role of Christianity in the history of the US has always been ambivalent. On the one hand, there have been sectarian impulses towards bigotry and oppression, on the other, a struggle for tolerance and diversity. Christianity was both invoked to justify slavery and in the vanguard of the fight against it.

    I have been reading recently about the boarding schools, run by Christians, to which Native Americans were sent in a misguided effort to enforce cultural assimilation:

    “Native America knows all too well the reality of the boarding schools,” writes Native American Bar Association President Richard Monette, who attended a North Dakota boarding school, “where recent generations learned the fine art of standing in line single-file for hours without moving a hair, as a lesson in discipline; where our best and brightest earned graduation certificates for homemaking and masonry; where the sharp rules of immaculate living were instilled through blistered hands and knees on the floor with scouring toothbrushes; where mouths were scrubbed with lye and chlorine solutions for uttering Native words.”

    And this was happening after the emancipation of the slaves with all its fine intentions and rhetoric.

    I would imagine those words quoted above would resonate with kairosfocus, given the history of slaves in the Caribbean. Whatever the benefits or noble intentions or high moral purpose of religion, history has shown it is practiced by fallible human beings, some of whom are all too easily corrupted by power.

    I do not believe in the Christian God, either just of vengeful. I believe we are the authors of the problems we face and we must look to ourselves for the solutions. I also believe that people should be free to follow whatever faith they choose or follow no faith at all without fear of oppression and I would hope all practice the same toleration and charity to their fellows.

  302. Seversky @ 301,

    Nicely said.

  303. Onlookers:

    Re Seversky (and Toronto, who endorsed him) . . .

    We again see the sadly manifest underlying imbalance, obvious bitterness and intemperateness that have led Seversky — after hundreds of posts — to be still unable to acknowledge the definitive core of Biblical morality. And, harking back to the focal point of the original post, we see how the construction of an alternative radically relativist perceived reality (“my truth”) sets up a collision with reality.

    First and foremost, Seversky has now several times over admitted that his evolutionary materialism can provide no ground for morality, other than one’s feelings [which, notoriously, are utterly unreliable as a guide to serious action] and “consensus,” which last boils down to the political and rhetorical balances among the power brokers of a given time and place. In short, his morality boils down to what Plato skewered as utter amorality in his The Laws Bk X 2,350 years ago: the highest right is might.

    The root of such historically blood-drenched amorality, of course is that Seversky’s worldview has in it no foundational IS that has any power to ground OUGHT. The only such IS who can ground ought is the good Creator God.

    But, as we have seen, Seversky is hard-bent on indicting our civilisation’s candidate for that job description, YHWH, as a genocidal, capricious moral monster, and those who believe in him as “accomplices.” That is, he is championing the agenda of the sophomoric new atheists, and echoing the intemperate, polarising behaviour of the village atheists of yore.

    So, though sad, it is not particularly surprising to see him trot out a litany of the sins of Christendom [including America] and complaints against those sins, without being able to find it in himself to acknowledge the key balancing truths and facts that I pointed out. As though the fact of national sins and need for repentance and reformation do anything but underscore the significance of the call to penitence as a condition of restoration of the blessings of liberty in the May 1776 proclamation by the founding Congress of the USA:

    Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God’s superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely, in all their lawful enterprizes, on his aid and direction, Do earnestly recommend, that Friday, the Seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies; . . . that it may please the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, to animate our officers and soldiers with invincible fortitude, to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown the continental arms, by sea and land, with victory and success: Earnestly beseeching him to bless our civil rulers, and the representatives of the people, in their several assemblies and conventions; to preserve and strengthen their union, to inspire them with an ardent, disinterested love of their country; to give wisdom and stability to their counsels; and direct them to the most efficacious measures for establishing the rights of America on the most honourable and permanent basis—That he would be graciously pleased to bless all his people in these colonies with health and plenty, and grant that a spirit of incorruptible patriotism, and of pure undefiled religion, may universally prevail; and this continent be speedily restored to the blessings of peace and liberty, and enabled to transmit them inviolate to the latest posterity . . .

    [Note the clear, direct echo in the structure of the US Constitution, which set about delivering on the promise of sound new government under God:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America . . . . [Main Body, Arts I - VII] . . . . Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth. In Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names. . . . . [AMENDMENTS].

    In short, the first documents the context in which we should understand the second.]

    But, a half-truth is often a key means to a whole deception.

    So, as a first corrective to the above unbalanced litany of sins of American Christendom, let us notice how in particular Seversky resolutely ignored the import of the true birth certificate of the USA, the just cited May 1776 call to penitent prayer under the weight of the judgement of consequences on America’s sins, that set up the context for the much better known declaration of independence six weeks later.

    (Notice, especially, how he is unable to overturn the credibility of the document or the trove of related documents that make the point clear, or the echo of the May 1776 vision in the core structure of the US Constitution of 1787; instead, he seeks to distract, to distort and to denigrate, thence divide and dismiss. How sad.)

    As a second corrective, let us recognise how the July 1776 Declaration is explicitly framed on and historically rooted in the Bible-rooted Reformation championed concept of the double-covenant of nationhood and government under our common good, Creator God who made us all in his image and appointed government as the defence of the civil peace of justice.

    Thus, separation from a previous regime and establishment of new government is grounded in material breach of covenant manifested in “a long train of abuses and usurpations” and the resulting need for legitimate representatives of a nascent people — however flawed in themselves as finite, fallible, morally fallen human beings — to stand up for justice under God. Let us observe key facets of that declaration, on these insights:

    When . . . it becomes necessary for one people . . . to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God [a phrase that echoes, inter alia, the 1581 Calvinist Dutch declaration of Independence from Spain and the Inquisition, cf. previously linked; also cf the Divinely sanctioned separation of the northern tribes of Israel in 1 Kings 12:1 - 24, over precisely a question of unjust taxation and claimed absolute power] entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 - 21, 2:14 - 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.That to secure these [NB: God-given] rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . . .

    We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions [Cf. Judges 11:27 and discussion in Locke, in light of the national day of penitence on May 17 previous, reflecting the import of Jonah 3 - 4 on how God looks at a penitent nation even on the brink of utter destruction for being a plague upon the earth . . . ], do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States . . . And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence [cf petitions of May 17], we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

    Now, I know this is — nowadays — a very unfamiliar way to understand the context and dynamics of the American founding. Given the rise in recent decades of radical evolutionary materialist, amoral, radically relativist secular humanism that seeks to substitute persuasiveness of a cleverly devised narrative for accuracy to reality as the criterion of received truth, that is (sadly) not surprising.

    With these reflections in mind, let us now turn to several inadvertently instructive points from Seversky’s impassioned diatribe against God and his “accomplices” just above at 301:

    1] The sad truth is that the early English colonists had imported some of the religious and social divisions and oppressions they had sought to escape by traveling to the New World.

    Precisely.

    That is why they saw themselves as justly under the judgement of God and in need of penitence if they were to turn the corner and set a foundation for a new day in which they could enjoy the blessings of peace and liberty with abundance and justice.

    Indeed, a telling echo of this sentiment is found in Abraham Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural address of 1865, scarce six weeks before he was murdered by a bitter-ender:

    On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war–seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

    One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

    With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

    In this, we see the true Christian spirit, and the true balance in the appreciation of the justice, severity, sovereignty, providence and goodness of God. What a contrast to the scarce-veiled rage, ingratitude and one sided litany in 301 above!

    Also, let us carefully note how Lincoln understands that through the hardness of men’s fallen and fallible hearts sometimes offenses must be tolerated or gradually ameliorated in a culture [on pain of imposing even worse evils in the attempt to suppress an admitted evil -- i.e the wisdom in the saying that "one cannot legislate morality but had better regulate behaviour" which BTW is apparently NOT due to Franklin]. But if men are stubborn in clinging to such hardness even in the teeth of the general heart-softening impact of the gospel, there comes a day of reckoning.

    [ . . . ]

  304. 2] The Founding Fathers themselves were unquestionably Christian and wholehearted in their faith. But it was also a wise thing to be in those days, at least in public. Remember that Edinburgh medical student, Thomas Aikenhead, was hanged for the blasphemy of expressing atheist views in private as late as January 8th 1697 . . .

    Notice how Seversky artfully tries to indict Christians with violence and tyranny through guilt by one-sided association, thus refusing to acknowledge the balance of the record and the teachings that have led Christians time and again across the long centuries to be leaders in reformation, amelioration and liberation.

    Of course, the point of this excerpt is that there is an imagined insincerity in the professed Christianity of the Founders, for fear of being hounded to death. This is veiled slander.

    While Aikenhead was the last man to be executed for blasphemy under Anglosaxon Jusrisprudence, there was plainly a reason why in a polity that was in 1697 overwhelmingly Christian, it was felt that such needed to be reformed and was reformed; correcting one of he sins of Christendom.

    Namely, while amorality is indeed a threat to the good order of society and often expresses itself in willfully disrespectful impiety — notice, Seversky did not tell us the story of Alcibiades whose evident impieties and threatened trial led to his defection to Sparta and betrayal of his home city — mere words are not just grounds for judicial action.

    As well, over the next 150 years, the general excessive severity of penalties was sharply curtailed, with for instance Thomas Foxwell Buxton trying to abolish the death penalty in the 1820s.

    3] The Wikipedia entry summarizes [religious affiliation [of the American founders] as follows: Lambert (2003) has examined the religious affiliations and beliefs of the Founders. Some of the 1787 delegates had no affiliation. The others were Protestants except for three Roman Catholics . . .

    Talk about the telling significance of the first item in a list.

    What Wiki did was to stress the status of perhaps 2 – 3 delegates, de-emphasising the actual balance of fact that, credibly, over 50 of 55 framers were demonstrably Christian in their commitments.

    [Wiki, after considerable verbiage, finally acknowledges at least 49. This of course immediately implies that the overwhelming majority of the founders and framers were acknowledged Christians, and all were deeply influenced by a Bible-anchored cultural milieu, for all its failings to fully live up to its ideals and values. Which is exactly what the May 1776 call to penitence shows.]

    4] We know that some expressed strong views about religion. For example, Thomas Paine: . . . . “Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man” . . . . “It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.”

    Seversky, first, neatly omits that even his fellow Deist, Ben Franklin, sought to correct Paine’s intemperateness in his The Age of Reason:

    were you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life, without the assistance afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantages of virtue, and the disadvantages of vice, and possessing a strength of resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great point for its security. And perhaps you are indebted to her originally, that is, to your religious education, for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent talents of reasoning upon a less hazardous subject, and thereby obtain a rank with our most distinguished authors. For among us it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots, that a youth, to be raised into the company of men, should prove his manhood by beating his mother.

    I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person; whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification by the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it . . . [over 100 million ghosts from the century just past, and the hundreds of millions more of innocent victims of abortion on demand moan out to us just how much more so]

    As the cited texts and general substance of the Scriptures demonstrate, Paine — a notorious skeptic — is simply willfully slandering the God of the Bible. A path that is sadly familiar in the tactics of today’s new atheists; who would do well to heed the warning of Franklin and the moans of a hundred million ghosts.

    5] Thomas Jefferson’s views are better known: Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.

    Notice the locus of Jefferson’s concern: abusive institutions that build awry, rather than underlying spiritual foundation.

    Millions is of course a gross exaggeration, but it is indubitably true that thousands were abused in the name of their being heretics and threats to the community. A sad fact of the sins of Christendom. But equally, one matched by the sins of any number of other movements, not least secularist evolutionary materialist and neo-pagan ones in the past hundred years.

    For, evil is most successfully done in the name of a cause that men perceive as good, thence “let us do evil that good may come.”

    The scriptures are firm in rebuke to this Machiavellianism [who BTW, rejected the ethic of love, mercy and forbearance in the gospels and sought inspiration in the "manliness" of pagan times], in the voice of prophet and apostle alike:

    Isa 5:7 The vineyard of the LORD Almighty
    is the house of Israel,
    and the men of Judah
    are the garden of his delight.
    And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
    for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

    8 Woe to you who add house to house
    and join field to field
    till no space is left
    and you live alone in the land.

    9 The LORD Almighty has declared in my hearing:
    “Surely the great houses will become desolate,
    the fine mansions left without occupants [Oh, Jamaica, oh America, o world in this day of financial crisis and mortgage institution collapse!] . . . .

    12 They have harps and lyres at their banquets,
    tambourines and flutes and wine,
    but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD,
    no respect for the work of his hands . . . .

    18 Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit,
    and wickedness as with cart ropes . . . .

    20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
    who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.

    21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.

    Rom 3:8Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—”Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is deserved.

    It is hardly fair to the Scriptures to suggest they are the fault when those who did admitted evils in the name of good, did so in explicit defiance of the same scriptures. Instead, let us acknowledge the fault in our own deceitful too often willfully evil hearts, and let us penitently heed the correction that calls us to the right.

    6] Question with boldness even the existence of a god [God]; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.

    How telling is the substitution of a lower case letter!

    Jefferson, of course is saying little more than that blind faith is of little intellectual merit, a sentiment that a great many educated Christians will at once agree with. Where he errs, is to suggest and encourage by rhetorical flourish, that bold hyperskepticism that is actually the very opposite of the “reason” that it professes. This, Simon Greenleaf of Harvard Law School aptly called “the error of the skeptic.”

    Far better would be a basic respect that reckons fairly with the evidence from C1 – 21 that not only is the gospel faith not founded on “cleverly invented stories,” but that quite literally millions of penitent sinners from all walks of life up to and including leading lights in our Civilisation have met and known God in the face of the Risen Christ, and in so doing have found blessed relief, healing and transformation of life, including the courage and vision to lead in reformation and liberation.

    As the call to penitence of May 1776 exemplifies.

    7] History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.

    Of course, this is an objection to undue establishment of religious denominations such that a magisterium in effect dictates to civil authority. It is a demonisation- laced strawman attack to then twist this into the notion that gospel ethics are an underpinning of tyranny, especially if multiplied by the further intellectual crime of suppressing the balance of the history of the positive contribution of gospel ethics to liberation and the roots of modern democracy.

    And, the history of the past 100 years underscores that evolutionary materialist secularism is the functional equivalent of a religious view, and can provide the ideological anchor for tyranny in the academy, the state, the courtroom or the nation alike.

    A man looking to his right on being warned to “look out!” is all too vulnerable to a fell blow from his now blind side, the left.

    [ . . . ]

  305. 8] The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine.

    While such selective hyperskepticism has been popular and supported by certain skepticism-driven schools of theology ever since the late C18, it is manifestly and utterly unwarranted.

    On evidence that any reasonably educated or Internet savvy person can fairly easily access.

    9] There is, I think, no question that the Founders wanted church and state kept entirely separate.

    Of course, this is a secularist distortion of the true position of the Framers and the public who passed the Constitution in referenda, as expressed in the first amendment to the US Constitution, passed with it as the first cluster of rights in the bill of rights:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    In effect, the Framers adapted the cuius regio, eius religio concept enshrined in treaties signed after much bloody conflict at Augsburg in 1555 and Westphalia in 1648 to federal-republican circumstances, by stipulating:

    [1] there would be no federal church of the USA (contrast, say, the Anglican Church in Britain, and Lutheran, Calvinist/Reformed and Catholic churches in Europe) — in fact

    [2] Congress and associated federal bodies have no proper jurisdiction on establishment, so can make no law on that subject;

    [3] Congress may not prohibit the free exercise of religion and commonly associated behaviours: speech, publication, assembly, petition for redress.

    Thus, in a republican context, the right of the local state to establish its own state church was protected [nine of thirteen states has just such state churches at the time], and the rights of dissenters were protected. Backing this up, the 10th Amendment reserves rights not explicitly delegated to the Federal Government to the states and their people. The intended effect would be that in the local community, the majority sentiment would shape its general religious tone, but the minority down to the individual would be heard and protected.

    Liberty, in short.

    Sadly, this wise balance has long since been materially subverted through clever advocacy, distortions of history, and activist courts imposing and in effect establishing decidedly minority secularist opinions on matters where the courts strictly have no proper jurisdiction.

    10] Nothwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Gov’ & Religion neither can be duly supported . . . in a Gov’ of opinion, like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance.

    See how Madison is being misread and wrenched into saying what he plainly did not intend to say?

    His objection is to the potentially tyrannical establishment of a denomination, not to the worldview underpinnings of morality, virtue among the people at large and just government.

    In our day, of course, the denomination most likely to be de facto established is: evolutionary materialist secular humanism.

    Which is (as Seversky has been forced to admit): amoral.

    11] Small wonder then that Congress found itself able to ratify the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797 which included Article 11 . . . . As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion . . .

    This particular ill-founded distortion of history has long since passed its sell-by date.

    To begin with, it was evidently not present in the Arabic version [!!!], and was not in the second version of the treaty [once the balance of power had shifted after American naval and military campaigns . . . ], nor are similar clauses to be found in treaties with other of the Barbary Coast states.

    But, more directly on point, it is best understood in its context as affirming that the US is not a Nation with a state-church, parallel to the more traditional European nations or the islamic ones.

    By sharpest contrast, it is not at all irrelevant to note that as late as a century later, the US Supreme Court, in its 1892 Trinity decision, in making a supportive historical and legal point on the nature of American civilisation, prior to ruling on the matter of striking down the application of an anti-cheap labour law to forbid a church in NY from hiring an overseas minister, commented that based on historic legal documents — from Columbus to the Colonial Charters to the US Founding era to the state constitutions and legal rulings — and the free and abundant popular expressions of the American people:

    “These and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”

    In short, there is a world of difference between a de facto or institutionalised alliance between a denomination and a state, and the moral-spiritual underpinnings of its culture that finds organic expression in its historical documents, events, sentiments of the people, and the associated flow of its culture.

    12] I take out of order: I have been reading recently about the boarding schools, run by Christians, to which Native Americans were sent in a misguided effort to enforce cultural assimilation

    And, what these schools show is a failure to understand and help in a way that appreciates the impact of cultural roots. Well-intentioned but mistaken and sometimes abusive.

    Sort of like how all too many science teachers are currently pumping evolutionary materialism down the throats of students in schools in the mistaken view that this is what science education requires. A view aided and abetted, unfortunately by a great many leading members of no less an institution than the US National Academy of Science, acting as de facto magisterium.

    13] I would imagine those words quoted above would resonate with kairosfocus, given the history of slaves in the Caribbean. Whatever the benefits or noble intentions or high moral purpose of religion, history has shown it is practiced by fallible human beings, some of whom are all too easily corrupted by power.

    True enough, but also at least as true of ever so many who are advocating evolutionary materialist secular humanism across our civilisation.

    With this crucial difference. As William Provine asserted in the now notorious 1998 Darwin Day speech at the University of Tennessee [!!!]:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent. . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them . . . humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    Such ill-founded, self-refuting, and utterly amoral notions promoted in the name of science are utterly destructive to the vital moral fabric of civil society.

    As we have been warned in no uncertain terms, ever since the days of Plato’s The Laws, Bk X, in 360 BC.

    14] The role of Christianity in the history of the US has always been ambivalent. On the one hand, there have been sectarian impulses towards bigotry and oppression, on the other, a struggle for tolerance and diversity. Christianity was both invoked to justify slavery and in the vanguard of the fight against it.

    In short, the Christian people of the United States have historically been what people are in all ages: finite, fallible, fallen and prone to willful hard-hearted sin. And, in just those times that most needed it, brave men and women stood up, Bibles in hand, to rebuke and call the nation to repentance and reformation, thence liberation and positive transformation.

    Which is precisely what Seversky needs to lay aside his rage and addiction to one sided advocacy, so he can see clearly.

    =============

    Instead of all the above having to rebut a litany of one sided hyperskeptical rhetorical points designed more to polarise and alienate, why not let us instead address the Warranted, Credible Truths approach to soundly grounding a worldview?

    GEM of TKI

  306. kaiorosfocus @ 305,
    Humans have walked the Earth without Christianity for hundreds of thousands of years and yet have survived and built prosperous and scientific nations.

    Why was Christianity not required?

    Why if there is a God, did he deny humans Christ for hundreds of thousands of years?

    The majority of people on this planet are not Christians and yet behave with the same good intentions to one another as Christians.

    Why?

    How is it possible for a non-Christian nation, i.e. China, to be growing faster than the Christian nations as if God somehow favoured a country not based on Christianity?

    I am not enraged as you claim Seversky is, I am simply asking questions, as I believe he is.

    When you answer people in this fashion, some may get intimidated and stop asking questions.

    Do you want that to happen?

  307. Toronto:

    Pardon, but I first need to respond with some questions of my own.

    Do you know what you endorsed above? What Seversky has been doing for weeks now? What the moral and cultural implications of evolutionary materialism, its amorality and radical relativism are, and have been known to be for millennia?

    If so, why it is that you have seen it fit only to try to hop on me?

    I think you need to realise what I have been dealing with, and thus why I have felt it necessary at length to point out to onlookers just what Seversky has been saying in aggregate, correcting imbalances and misleading claims. The rhetoric of the New Atheists, which he has been championing, is utterly one- sided, and too often inaccurate, hatefully denigratory and destructive.

    So, “you are hitting back first” does not cut it, especially where what I have had to say in correction has been well warranted, as shown again step by step today.

    Now, you have listed a series of questions above. I will comment on several of them, in an order that seems to make sense to me:

    1 –> Actually, today China may be the nation with the most Christians in it, or close. Certainly it is the outstanding case of the gospel rapidly spreading from within. (And, if things remain on track, China, with a critical mass of Christians, will take over world leadership within 30 – 50 years.)

    2 –> I am not prepared to assert so confidently on the deep past of humanity, as we were not there and are reconstructing a past before record. We should be humble and open minded about the limitations of, circularities involved in, and extremely inferential and at best provisional — at worst, outright mythical — nature of our claimed knowledge of the deep past (whether or not we want to label it “science”). [The ongoing climate scandal is a good paradigm for the difficulties, institutional politics and issues involved.]

    3 –> In any case the issues of moral choice, power to love or be indifferent or selfish, thence sin and redemption are primordial, and the Biblical teaching is that all along God has made a way for men and nations to find reconciliation with him by the light they have had. (Cases like Job, Melchizedek and Abraham are there for a reason. So are cases of nations and cities that willfully defied God, became plagues on the earth and were destroyed.)

    4 –> The pivotal point was the coming of Christ in accordance with the prophecies of the scriptures, centuries ahead of time; who made up the “paid in full” on the access to reconciliation with God for all men everywhere, and a release of spiritual power under that name that has been transformational for 2,000 years. Here is the NT key teaching on this general access to God issue:

    Rom 2:6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”[a] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

    5 –> So, the pivotal issue is not whether you specifically know about Jesus by name, but whether you have responded to the light and the truth you have had, seeking and persisting penitently in the path of he good, despite your failings. “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”

    6 –> But equally, “for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” So, the decisive question, whether for me or you, or for any men of any time and place is this: what have you done about the light you have had, and the truth you know or should know, starting with the pricking voice of conscience? The warning is this:

    Jn 3:19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

    7 –> And so, plainly God did not “deny humans [the benefits of] Christ for hundreds of thousands of years.” For those benefits have always been accessible as long as men were willing to heed the truth and light they have had, penitently turning to and persisting in the way of truth and right; by voice of conscience, by dint of the import of the deciding and knowing mind and by dint of the testimony of the world around us to its Root.

    8 –> Similarly, the issue is not whether your culture is labelled “Christian,” today, but how you respond to the truth and the right you do or should know under God.

    9 –> Of which the breakthrough of Jesus is widely accessible today, and is a challenge to those who have access to this level of liberating, breakthrough truth.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  308. kairosfocus @ 307,

    5 –> So, the pivotal issue is not whether you specifically know about Jesus by name, but whether you have responded to the light and the truth you have had, seeking and persisting penitently in the path of he good, despite your failings. “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”

    I agree with this.

    If there is a god, you will get your just reward regardless of whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, etc.

    It will be your behaviour, not group affiliation that determines your worth.

    If there is a heaven, it’s open to all, not just those who believe in an absolute truth.

  309. Toronto-

    “Humans have walked the Earth without Christianity for hundreds of thousands of years and yet have survived and built prosperous and scientific nations.”

    What prosperous AND scientific nations are you talking about? What’s your definition of prosperous, how do you quantify it? I have never heard serious people talk about any nations being both prosperous and scientific pre A.D. Are you talking about Atlantis?

  310. Toronto-

    “If there is a god, you will get your just reward regardless of whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, etc.

    It will be your behaviour, not group affiliation that determines your worth.”

    It has nothing to do with group affiliation it has to do with the Truth of salvation through grace which Jesus alone brought.

  311. 311

    It has nothing to do with group affiliation it has to do with the Truth of salvation through grace which Jesus alone brought.

    Those who worship Brahma might think that you are being a wee bit sectarian.

  312. Seversky-

    “I do not believe in the Christian God, either just of vengeful. I believe we are the authors of the problems we face and we must look to ourselves for the solutions. I also believe that people should be free to follow whatever faith they choose or follow no faith at all without fear of oppression and I would hope all practice the same toleration and charity to their fellows.”

    No one is saying we aren’t the authors of the problems we face.

  313. Toronto:

    It is true that our behaviour is critically important, our behaviour — by thought, words and deeds — towards others [and God] in light of the truth and right that we know, or should know.

    For instance, when he began his essay on human understanding Locke noted a few pungent observations that don’t usually appear in discussions of his ideas [as should by now be sadly familiar onlookers; we been had . . . ], but which plainly strongly shaped his views:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2, Ac 17, etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Introduction, section 5]

    Every educated person in the modern west should — as a matter of plain intellectual integrity — seriously and fairly address on the merits not only the implications of the obviously binding nature of ought [and the closely related issue of the reality of evil], but also the core evidence surrounding the person, claims and life of Jesus of Nazareth, as well as the wider issues on grounding his or her worldview in light of a reasonably wide cluster of key warranted, credible truths.

    To do less than that is utterly inexcusable, especially in one who stands up in public on issues linked to these matters.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  314. 314

    Seversky,

    I disagree with you for the reasons I have given before. My point has always been that there is no empirical way to decide between our two perspectives. If you have such a test then let’s hear it.

    Then you have no argument that God is unjust, other than your own personal whims, which amount to nothing real or actual.

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