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Richard Dawkins Makes a Fool of Himself

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78 Responses to Richard Dawkins Makes a Fool of Himself

  1. “Richard Dawkins Makes a Fool of Himself”

    In other news, the sun came up today . . .

  2. That Birdieupon on youtube sure has Dawkins squarely in his sites. This old one from Birdieupon, where he completely disassembled Dawkins’ logic, is still a favorite of mine;

    Richard Dawkins Lies About William Lane Craig AND Logic! – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1cfqV2tuOI

  3. Looks like the stress of having the curtain pulled back on the darwinian myth is getting to ol’ Dickie Dawkins ;-)

  4. Here’s a little background as to what prompted the exchange in the video that Mr. Arrington listed:

    Richard Dawkins’s English Inquisition
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....56371.html

  5. OK, very funny! It proves a point, but at the? same time, we can’t just write off Dawkins’ point either.

    It is sad, but the data support what Dawkins is saying. It is slowly leaving it’s Christian heritage in the dust.

    Look, not knowing the name of the first book of the NT is one thing, but not believing that Jesus is the Son of God? They don’t compare! That’s totally different!

    Whether a person thinks of themselves as a Christian or not makes absolutely no difference here – unless we change the definition of a Christian. (I guess there are differing opinions on what a Christian is.)

    But as I understand it, no one can be a Christian according to God’s standards if they don’t believe Jesus is God’s Son. I mean, that is the crux of Christianity unless you redefine the term.

    In other words, self-identifying as a believer is meaningless if you don’t believe!

  6. Good points, Tjg, but I doubt if Dawkins’ “scientific” survey aimed to determine exactly what people believed. It seemed to be more concerned with basic Christian knowledge than belief. The point being made, that most people who say they believe in evolution don’t have the basic knowledge. Also, belief isn’t a “know-all instantly” commitment. I know when I had just made my decision to be a Christian, I didn’t understand everything with regard to Christology. That did not make me any less a Christian. God gave me understanding eventually, but I think we all have a long way to go on a scale from ignorance to enlightenment.

  7. Darwin’s Origin has a very long full title.

    The people in the survey were given 4 possible responses,? each a one word name.

    The people in the survey were not in an on-air debate.

    This whole vid is about a childish triviality. How could it be relevant compared to what Christians say about their own church attendance, their jesus-belief and their bible knowledge?

  8. The Ipsos MORI survey concluded that: “UK Christians are overwhelmingly secular in their attitudes on a range of issues from gay rights to religion in public life”. This is not surprising, as alarm bells have been ringing about this for years in many church gatherings. Last year, a survey by the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life put secularism as the biggest threat to Christianity.
    So the stance taken by Giles Fraser was not a strong one. Nevertheless, he came out the victor, because Richard Dawkins over-reached himself.
    Fraser threw out a challenge to RD: “If I were to say to you ‘What is the full title of the “Origin of Species”‘? – I am sure you can tell me that”.
    RD: “Yes I could”.
    GF: “Go on then”.
    That seems to be a perfectly reasonable challenge: to make the point that human beings should not be labelled by instant responses to survey questions.
    But the survey does show that legitimate questions should be asked about self-labelling. Not all who call themselves Christians are Christians (I seem to remember similar words that were said by Jesus Christ). Perhaps more emphasis should be given to actions (“if you love me, keep my commandments”).
    Labeling is a major problem today in all sorts of contexts. Notice how advocates of intelligent design are lumped in with advocates of biblical creation. Notice how people who believe in design because of the biblical witness are limped in with design advocates who develop their thinking using the methods of science. Maybe this humbling experience for Richard Dawkins will help us get beyond attaching labels!

  9. Neil Schipper writes, “This whole vid is about a childish triviality. How could it be relevant compared to what Christians say about their own church attendance, their jesus-belief and their bible knowledge?”

    So, in other words, Dawkins makes a mistake and all is forgiven. But if a Christian makes a mistake, then all of Christianity is false.

    There’s a logical fallacy here somewhere…

  10. Neil Schipper, but underneath all this ‘childish triviality’ is, really, the ONLY important question that matters to all of Christianity,,, Indeed it is really the only important question to all of mortal humanity, to each of us personally, since everyone of us must face death eventually. That question is of course, ‘Did God really raise Jesus Christ from the dead?’,, Though many, many, people can testify to a ‘personal witness’ in their conversion experiences to Christianity, I think that now, more than any time in the past, that now more than enough ‘scientific’ evidence has been brought forth for the unbiased man to come to the ‘reasonable’ conclusion that this foundational precept of Christian belief, that Jesus actually did defeat death, is in fact true:

    here are some of my notes to that effect:

    Many solid lines of evidence pointed to the Shroud’s authenticity back in the 1980’s, yet the carbon dating of 1989 indicated a medieval age. In spite of many other, more reliable, lines of evidence establishing the Shroud as authentic, many people unquestionably accepted the carbon dating as valid and presumed the Shroud to be a medieval fake.

    THE SHROUD AS AN ANCIENT TEXTILE – Evidence of Authenticity
    http://www.newgeology.us/presentation24.html

    Shroud Of Turin – Sewn From Two Pieces – 2000 Years Old – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4109101

    The Sudarium of Oviedo
    http://www.shroudstory.com/sudarium.htm

    Here is a interesting video interview with Bruno Barberis, director of the International Center of Sindonology in Turin, Italy, who states that the Shroud is the ‘actual burial cloth of Jesus’;

    Expert: Shroud ‘actual burial cloth of Jesus’ – interview with video
    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?f.....eId=151025

    In a fairly recent breakthrough, the carbon dating question has been thoroughly addressed and refuted by Joseph G. Marino and M. Sue Benford in 2000. Their research, with textile experts, showing the carbon testing was done with a piece of the Shroud which was subject to expert medieval reweaving in the 1500’s had much historical, and photographic, evidence behind it. Their historical, and photographic, evidence was then scientifically confirmed by chemical analysis in 2005 by Raymond Rogers. Thus, the fact that a false age was shown by the 1989 carbon testing has been accepted across the board as far as the scientific evidence itself is concerned.

    New Evidence Overturns Shroud Of Turin Carbon Dating – Joseph G. Marino and M. Sue Benford – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4222339

    Discovery Channel – Unwrapping The Shroud of Turin New Evidence – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWyiZtagxX8

    The following is the main peer reviewed paper which has refuted the 1989 Carbon Dating:

    Why The Carbon 14 Samples Are Invalid, Raymond Rogers
    per: Thermochimica Acta (Volume 425 pages 189-194, Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of California)
    Excerpt: Preliminary estimates of the kinetics constants for the loss of vanillin from lignin indicate a much older age for the cloth than the radiocarbon analyses. The radiocarbon sampling area is uniquely coated with a yellow–brown plant gum containing dye lakes. Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry results from the sample area coupled with microscopic and microchemical observations prove that the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original cloth of the Shroud of Turin. The radiocarbon date was thus not valid for determining the true age of the shroud. The fact that vanillin can not be detected in the lignin on shroud fibers, Dead Sea scrolls linen, and other very old linens indicates that the shroud is quite old. A determination of the kinetics of vanillin loss suggests that the shroud is between 1300- and 3000-years old. Even allowing for errors in the measurements and assumptions about storage conditions, the cloth is unlikely to be as young as 840 years.
    http://www.ntskeptics.org/issu.....oudold.htm

    Rogers passed away shortly after publishing this paper, but his work was ultimately verified by the Los Alamos National Laboratory:

    Carbon Dating Of The Turin Shroud Completely Overturned by Scientific Peer Review
    Excerpt: Rogers also asked John Brown, a materials forensic expert from Georgia Tech to confirm his finding using different methods. Brown did so. He also concluded that the shroud had been mended with newer material. Since then, a team of nine scientists at Los Alamos has also confirmed Rogers work, also with different methods and procedures. Much of this new information has been recently published in Chemistry Today.
    http://shroudofturin.wordpress.....s-of-time/

    This following is the Los Alamos National Laboratory report and video which completely confirms the Rogers’ paper:

    “Analytical Results on Thread Samples Taken from the Raes Sampling Area (Corner) of the Shroud Cloth” (Aug 2008)
    Excerpt: The age-dating process failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area or population must necessarily be representative of the whole. The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case……. LANL’s work confirms the research published in Thermochimica Acta (Jan. 2005) by the late Raymond Rogers, a chemist who had studied actual C-14 samples and concluded the sample was not part of the original cloth possibly due to the area having been repaired. – Robert Villarreal – Los Alamos National Laboratory

    Shroud Of Turin Carbon Dating Overturned By Scientific Peer Review – Robert Villarreal – Press Release video of preceding paper
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041193

  11. Here is a fairly good ‘unbiased’ article on the ‘laser’ test which undermined the credibility of the carbon dating from a completely different angle;

    Scientific tests of Shroud point to supernatural – December 2011
    Excerpt: The Italian scientists found they could achieve a Shroud-like coloration of linen yarns in a narrow range of irradiation parameters, using ultraviolent lasers that were completely unknown in the Middle Ages.
    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?f.....eId=380633

    Now that the flawed carbon dating is finally brought into line, all major lines of evidence now converge and establish the Shroud as authentic. This rigidly tested, and scrutinized, artifact establishes the uniqueness of the Shroud among all ancient artifacts of man found on earth. I know of no other ancient artifact, from any other culture, which has withstood such intense scrutiny and still remained standing in its claim of divine origin. It is apparent God thought this event so important for us to remember that He took a “photograph” of the resurrection of Jesus Christ using the Shroud itself as a medium. After years of painstaking research, searching through every materialistic possibility, scientists still cannot tell us exactly how the image of the man on the Shroud was imprinted.

    How Did The Image Form On The Shroud? – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045581

    “The shroud image is made from tiny fibres that are (each) 1/10th of a human hair. The picture elements are actually randomly distributed like the dots in your newspaper, photograph or magazine photograph. To do this you would need an incredibly accurate atomic laser. This technology does NOT exist (even to this day).”
    Kevin Moran – Optical Engineer

    Scientific hypotheses on the origin of the body image of the Shroud – 2010
    Excerpt: for example, if we consider the density of radiation that we used to color a single square centimeter of linen, to reproduce the entire image of the Shroud with a single flash of light would require fourteen thousand lasers firing simultaneously each on a different area of linen. In other words, it would take a laser light source the size of an entire building.
    http://www.30giorni.it/articoli_id_22597_l3.htm

    “the closest science can come to explaining how the image of the Man in the Shroud got there is by comparing the situation to a controlled burst of high-intensity radiation similar to the Hiroshima bomb explosion which “printed” images of incinerated people on building walls.”
    Frank Tribbe – Leading Scholar And Author On Shroud Research

    This following video and articles give fairly deep insight into what the image formation on the Shroud signifies for us, indeed for all the universe:

    General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy, and The Shroud Of Turin – updated video
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    Centrality of Each Individual Observer In The Universe and Christ’s Credible Reconciliation Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/17SDgYPHPcrl1XX39EXhaQzk7M0zmANKdYIetpZ-WB5Y/edit?hl=en_US

    THE EVENT HORIZON (Space-Time Singularity) OF THE SHROUD OF TURIN. – Isabel Piczek – Particle Physicist
    Excerpt: We have stated before that the images on the Shroud firmly indicate the total absence of Gravity. Yet they also firmly indicate the presence of the Event Horizon. These two seemingly contradict each other and they necessitate the past presence of something more powerful than Gravity that had the capacity to solve the above paradox.
    http://shroud3d.com/findings/i.....-formation

    Particle Radiation from the Body – M. Antonacci, A. C. Lind
    Excerpt: The Shroud’s frontal and dorsal body images are encoded with the same amount of intensity, independent of any pressure or weight from the body. The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image. Radiation coming from the body would not only explain this feature, but also the left/right and light/dark reversals found on the cloth’s frontal and dorsal body images.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/19tGkwrdg6cu5mH-RmlKxHv5KPMOL49qEU8MLGL6ojHU/edit?hl=en_US

    A Quantum Hologram of Christ’s Resurrection?
    http://www.khouse.org/articles/2008/847

    Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age – Front and Back 3-D images – articles and videos
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg

  12. continued Schipper;

    This following recent video revealed a very, very, surprising holographic image on the Shroud:

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words ‘The Lamb’ – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041205

    Even with the advantage of all our advanced space-age technology at their fingertips, all scientists can guess is that it was some type of electro-magnetic radiation (light) which is not natural to this world.

    Shroud Of Turin Is Authentic, Italian Study Suggests – December 2011
    Excerpt: Last year scientists were able to replicate marks on the cloth using highly advanced ultraviolet techniques that weren’t available 2,000 years ago — nor during the medieval times, for that matter.,,, Since the shroud and “all its facets” still cannot be replicated using today’s top-notch technology, researchers suggest it is impossible that the original image could have been created in either period.
    http://www.thegopnet.com/shrou.....ests-87037

    Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – December 2011
    Excerpt: After years of work trying to replicate the colouring on the shroud, a similar image has been created by the scientists.
    However, they only managed the effect by scorching equivalent linen material with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax.
    Such technology, say researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea), was far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, whom most experts have credited with making the famous relic.
    “The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” they said.
    And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/n.....79512.html

    Press release Video on preceding paper:

    Scientists Claim ‘Shroud of Turin’ Could Not Have Been Faked – video
    http://www.5min.com/Video/Scie.....-517232561

    Also of note as to providing a viable ‘mechanism’ for the apparent laser-like ‘burst of light’ emanating from the body of Christ:

    Cellular Communication through Light
    Excerpt: Information transfer is a life principle. On a cellular level we generally assume that molecules are carriers of information, yet there is evidence for non-molecular information transfer due to endogenous coherent light. This light is ultra-weak, is emitted by many organisms, including humans and is conventionally described as biophoton emission.
    http://www.plosone.org/article.....ne.0005086

    Biophotons – The Light In Our Cells – Marco Bischof – March 2005
    Excerpt page 2: The Coherence of Biophotons: ,,, Biophotons consist of light with a high degree of order, in other words, biological laser light. Such light is very quiet and shows an extremely stable intensity, without the fluctuations normally observed in light. Because of their stable field strength, its waves can superimpose, and by virtue of this, interference effects become possible that do not occur in ordinary light. Because of the high degree of order, the biological laser light is able to generate and keep order and to transmit information in the organism.
    http://www.international-light.....hotons.pdf

    Are humans really beings of light?
    Excerpt: “We now know, today, that man is essentially a being of light.”,,, “There are about 100,000 chemical reactions happening in every cell each second. The chemical reaction can only happen if the molecule which is reacting is excited by a photon… Once the photon has excited a reaction it returns to the field and is available for more reactions… We are swimming in an ocean of light.”
    http://viewzone2.com/dna.html

    Coast to Coast – Vicki’s Near Death Experience (Blind From Birth) part 1 of 3
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e65KhcCS5-Y

    Quote from preceding video: ‘I was in a body and the only way that I can describe it was a body of energy, or of light. And this body had a form. It had a head. It had arms and it had legs. And it was like it was made out of light. And ‘it’ was everything that was me. All of my memories, my consciousness, everything.’ -
    Vicky Noratuk

    Kevin Moran, a scientist working on the mysterious ’3D’ nature of the Shroud image, states the ‘supernatural’ explanation this way:

    “It is not a continuum or spherical-front radiation that made the image, as visible or UV light. It is not the X-ray radiation that obeys the one over R squared law that we are so accustomed to in medicine. It is more unique. It is suggested that the image was formed when a high-energy particle struck the fiber and released radiation within the fiber at a speed greater that the local speed of light. Since the fiber acts as a light pipe, this energy moved out through the fiber until it encountered an optical discontinuity, then it slowed to the local speed of light and dispersed. The fact that the pixels don’t fluoresce suggests that the conversion to their now brittle dehydrated state occurred instantly and completely so no partial products remain to be activated by the ultraviolet light. This suggests a quantum event where a finite amount of energy transferred abruptly. The fact that there are images front and back suggests the radiating particles were released along the gravity vector. The radiation pressure may also help explain why the blood was “lifted cleanly” from the body as it transformed to a resurrected state.”
    http://www.shroudstory.com/natural.htm

  13. If scientists want to find the source for the supernatural light which made the “3D – photographic negative” image I suggest they look to the thousands of documented Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s) in Judeo-Christian cultures. It is in their testimonies that you will find mention of an indescribably bright ‘Light’ or ‘Being of Light’ who is always described as being of a much brighter intensity of light than the people had ever seen before. All people who have been in the presence of ‘The Being of Light’ while having a deep NDE have no doubt whatsoever that the ‘The Being of Light’ they were in the presence of is none other than ‘The Lord God Almighty’ of heaven and earth.

    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045544

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The NDE of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045560

    It should be noted: All foreign, non-Judeo-Christian culture, NDE studies I have looked at tend to have a extreme rarity of encounters with ‘The Being Of Light’ and tend to have very unpleasant NDE’s save for the few pleasant children’s NDEs of those cultures that I’ve seen (It seems there is indeed an ‘age of accountability’). The following study was shocking for what was found in some non-Judeo-Christian NDE’s:

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Bill Wiese – 23 Minutes In Hell – 2010 video
    http://vimeo.com/16155839
    Entire Video:
    http://www.vimeo.com/16641462

    Another very interesting point about the Shroud is, since the Shroud had to be extremely close to the body when the image was made, and also considering the lack of any distinctive shadow patterns on the image, it is apparent the only place this supernatural light could have possibly come from, that made the image on the Shroud, was directly from the body itself ! Yes, you read that last sentence right:

    THE SOURCE OF LIGHT WAS THE BODY ITSELF !!!

    God’s crowning achievement for this universe was not when He created this universe. God’s crowning achievement for this universe was when He Himself inhabited the human body He had purposely created the whole universe for, to sanctify human beings unto Himself through the death and resurrection of his “Son” Jesus Christ. This is truly something which should fill anyone who reads this with awe. The wonder of it all is something I can scarcely begin to understand much less write about. Thus, I will finish this article with a scripture.

    Hebrews 2:14-15
    “Since we, God’s children, are human beings – made of flesh and blood – He became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could He die and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in that way could He deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread.”

  14. David Tyler

    Notice how advocates of intelligent design are lumped in with advocates of biblical creation.

    Both are correctly lumped into the group “believers in supernatural unevidenced events”.

  15. Neil,

    The Atheist Doctor – video cartoon
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRQzQpnYhKI

  16. #14

    supernatual?

    ID is not about natural versus the supernatural, it is about natural versus artificial.

    unevidenced?

    Hardly. The recorded information that makes life possible (and that which evolution is 100% dependent upon) has physical entailments which must be met in order to exist. As an observable fact, it requires a) an arrangement of matter that contains a pattern which is irreducible to its material properties, b) an arrangement of matter that is coordinated to that non-materially-reducible pattern, but yet cannot interact with it, and c) that these two physical objects result in an isolated material effect that causes bio-function.

  17. Barb

    Dawkins makes a mistake and all is forgiven. But if a Christian makes a mistake, then all of Christianity is false.

    As I tried to make clear, a thousand people answering clear short untricky survey questions is not like a person making a mistake. It provides evidence about what the members of the group know (like a geography test).
    Can you think of any question that could be asked of someone who self-identifies as Christian, the wrong answer to which would suggest that the person is so completely unaware of Christian stories, claims, beliefs and practices, that the label “Christian” should not apply?

    If every day for years you say to your child “I’m a Christian. You’re a Christian. We’re Christians.” but they are taught no other thing about Christianity, how meaningful is it that later they call themselves Christian? If you can’t come up with an answer to the earlier question then you are OK with willing to

    And what if it was “I’m a Zeusian. You’re a Zeusian. We’re Zeusians.”

  18. Upright BiPed

    ID is not about natural versus the supernatural

    ID says there was a designer — that’s what the D is about. ID says there was something outside material natural processes, a supernatural agent or actor with intent.

  19. Fixing my bungled sentence:

    If you can’t come up a question that can fairly identify a Christian then you are OK with “Christian” being a rather meaningless term.

  20. Neil at 18

    ID says there was a designer — that’s what the D is about.

    Correct, but ‘what, how, who, when, why’ are not part of the material evidence available to us. Like deducing the Big Bang without a shred of knowledge as how such a thing could come into being, the accessible artifacts of it nonetheless stand on their own.

    ID says there was something outside material natural processes, a supernatural agent or actor

    An individual ID proponent is completely within his/her right to conclude such a scenario, but that conclusion is not achieved by the material evidence itself, no more so than concluding that evolution says Life was the product of unguided material processes. If you insist otherwise, then we are obligated by that reasoning to also conclude that the Big Bang was a supernatural event.

    - – - – - –

    I noticed that your original comment made claims about evidence, yet when challenged, your follow-up was silent on the matter. Are you not interested in material evidence, or is it your preference not to dabble in issues which you see as possibly extraneous to your conclusion.

  21. Neil,

    ID implies a designer in the same way that Big Bang cosmology implies a designer. Whether by either of these one prefers it to be a supernatural agent or not is quite beside the point. One is free to either accept or reject a supernatural agent, or to modify what is meant by “supernatural” based on the new information. ID does not insist on it, but is focused on the evidence for purposeful design as opposed to chance.

    Materialists’ rejection of anything “supernatural” (whatever they mean by the term) just because of the implications of there possibly existing a supreme intelligence to the universe, is just silly.

  22. Neil writes, “As I tried to make clear, a thousand people answering clear short untricky survey questions is not like a person making a mistake. It provides evidence about what the members of the group know (like a geography test).
    Can you think of any question that could be asked of someone who self-identifies as Christian, the wrong answer to which would suggest that the person is so completely unaware of Christian stories, claims, beliefs and practices, that the label “Christian” should not apply?”

    I can think of a couple: “What did Jesus say would identify his true followers?” (The answer is found at John 13:35). Or, “What was the first miracle Jesus performed?” (Turning water into wine at a wedding reception).

    This is less about atheism and Christianity than it is about a smug, self-righteous blowhard (Dawkins) humiliating himself during a debate.

    “If every day for years you say to your child “I’m a Christian. You’re a Christian. We’re Christians.” but they are taught no other thing about Christianity, how meaningful is it that later they call themselves Christian?”

    Your strawman argument is noted. However, you mistakenly think that all Christians teach their children this, and nothing could be further from the truth.

    “And what if it was “I’m a Zeusian. You’re a Zeusian. We’re Zeusians.”

    Logically, the syllogism would state:
    A. Dawkins is a Zeusian.
    B. I am a Zeusian.
    C. Therefore, all people are Zeusians.

    This would lead to an invalid conclusion as premises A and B might be true, but they certainly wouldn’t lead to premise C. Knowledge of two people does not equal knowledge of all people.

    Also, Dawkins did this via a survey, which may or may not be biased by the responses received. He might have had too small of a sample to be statistically meaningful.

  23. Barb,

    Also the questions could have been intentionally formed in a certain way as to bias the interpretation of the responses.

    I have some experience with the way surveys are written. Good surveys/polls don’t allow for any ambiguity in the questions. Bad surveys will make the questions so general that they open up a higher probability of gross misinterpretation by the surveyor.

    Frankly, any survey conducted by Richard Dawkins and his anti-Christian ilk (particularly on the subject of Christian belief) is in my thinking immediately suspect.

  24. I was thinking along those lines as well, Cannuckian Yankee. Closed-ended questions or complex questions are going to lead to biased responses.

    I’m beginning to wonder what exactly Dawkins seeks to gain from this. Why the survey? Why the vitriol? He’s not making any converts to atheism, from what I can see.

  25. Upright BiPed:

    evolution says Life was the product of unguided material processes

    No, not the “the product of”. It says some primitive living things reproduced (following unguided material processes) with changes over time to make all the living things we observe. Because evolution is so fully evidenced, those who accept it are also likely to surmise that the first living thing was also the product of unguided material processes, but we don’t claim this is proven.

    A big part of the history of science is elimination of supernatural (non-)explanations, even when the discovering genius was an outright supernaturalist. (And the proportion of discovering geniuses that are supernaturalists is converging to zero.)

    As to your larger point, that ID makes no claims about supernatural agency, well this is disingenuous, right? If it is possible to weasel a statement of ID that excludes claims of supernatural origin, that does not alter the fact that it exists to defend supernaturalism. It’s like a statement of Leprechaunian-Guided Evolution that’s exactly the same as mainstream evolution except every molecular wiggle is said to not be unguided, but intended by the (supernatural) Leprechaun on the moon. Thanks to the Leprechaun could be included in every biology textbook and every genetics research journal. Now evolution would no longer be a purely materialist theory. Americans would be happy!

    As for the stuff about entailments and “non-materially-reducible patterns” in your #16, I didn’t speak to it because it makes no sense to me. This may be because I’m dim, but maybe the argument is nefarious.

    Speaking to ID & evidence generally, I’ve been made to believe that since first slithering into the world (as a marketing plan to disguise old earth creationism, in turn as part of a lawyerly scheme to salvage a shrinking mythology that obstructs human understanding of reality) ID has made zero successful predictions in zoology or botany or microbiology. Have I been misinformed?

  26. CannuckianYankee,

    Materialists’ rejection of anything “supernatural” (whatever they mean by the term) just because of the implications of there possibly existing a supreme intelligence to the universe, is just silly.

    Claims about reality with supernatural content was indistinguishable from science long ago. Hypothesizing, speculating, a bit of observing: it was all natural “philosophy”. That’s getting fixed, and a supreme intelligence never comes up in the explanations with staying power.

  27. Barb,

    The questions you propose seem to me to be fair questions. They might be harder than the ones in the survey. Careful!

    I take issue with your calling my argument strawman! It hurts so bad! (I was making no claim about how anyone raises their children. I was trying to illuminate the idea that contentless self-labels can happen.)

    But sounds like you agree that we can in principle discriminate “Christian as empty label” vs. “Christian as adherent to some variant of Christian belief system.”

    So we can use a survey to learn something tangible about a population (even if some respondents “make a mistake”).

    (btw, they used a prof. polling org, and these orgs know a thing or two about crappy leading questions, and these orgs do not want crappy reputations.)

    And politicians and policymakers can take into account the survey results when some in the community make demands claiming that they represent a large number of citizens with strong attachment to a particular point of view.

    So it seems we’re on the same page, now.

  28. A bunch of born-again evangelicals defending an obscure catholic relic from the Medieval days when every monastery claimed to have some shards of the cross or spleen of John the Apostle or whatever? Weird.

    Remember Scott Minnich? DI fellow, ID proponent? Even he is skeptical:

    http://www.wnd.com/2005/02/29124/

  29. Neil Schipper,

    Intelligent design pleads to intelligence; the purposeful, intentional, goal-driven, foresighted, matter-manipulating well-known force operating inside of nature.

    Intelligence is not “supernatural,” although I can see why it would seem that way to the Darwinist. ;)

    You can say that many I.D. proponents believe God was that intelligence, thus it qualifies as supernatural. My reply to that would be… so?

    The knock against bringing the so-called supernatural into science is that the supernatural isn’t subject to empiricism or falsification. Yet, the reason for believing in I.D. is based on empiricism, and it is, in fact, falsifiable.

    The empiricism is the observation that the foundation of life is a semiotic language/code/software, which, based on innumerable observations over thousands of years, overwhelmingly points to an intelligent source. If design-deniers can demonstrate that nature (physics + chemistry), completely unguided by intelligence, can create such a system, then they will have refuted I.D. As Joseph would say, you refute I.D. by demonstrating the validity of the design-free position.

    Every single design-denying origin of life researcher, who’s research is attempting to demonstrate an intelligence-free origin of life, is attempting to falsify I.D. That means many brilliant people have spent thousands of hours attempting to refute I.D., and they’ve all failed miserably.

    This is why design-deniers must resort to such laughably bad arguments. They don’t want to accept I.D. for personal reasons, yet they have no valid scientific objections it, so they’re forced to concoct as many silly excuses as possible.

    Conflating artificiality (intentional designs) with the supernatural is one of those silly excuses. “Who designed the designer?” is another. Motive mongering is another: “Michael Behe is religious, therefore, I.D. is false!”

    I.D. denialism is anti-science, anti-reason, and a major threat to science literacy throughout the world.

  30. Neil,

    Can you think of any question that could be asked of someone who self-identifies as Christian, the wrong answer to which would suggest that the person is so completely unaware of Christian stories, claims, beliefs and practices, that the label “Christian” should not apply?

    That’s a clever question. Not answering implies that “Christian” is meaningless. A broad answer (There was once a person names Jesus and we should do what he says) doesn’t help any. Any meaningful, specific answers (all Christians do or don’t do [something]) lead to disagreement.

    If your intent is to show that there is abundant disagreement, you have done so. I didn’t know that it was a secret.

    But Christianity doesn’t (or shouldn’t) argue that there is a consensus with which to agree. I think we can agree on that much. But that is a specific evolutionary argument. It’s reasonable to ask what it is that all these biologists supposedly agree on.

    Have you heard of the Steve Project? (Google it.) In response to lists of scientists who question some aspect of evolution, the NCSE responded with a list of their own of over 1100 scientists named Steve supporting evolution.

    This is the text of what they agreed to:

    Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to “intelligent design,” to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation’s public schools.

    That’s it? Natural selection is a major mechanism? Does everyone even agree on that?

  31. Let Christ himself redefine the term for you, tjguy:

    Matt 25:31-46 “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

  32. As usual Nick, you should do your homework before you go making claims that fall apart upon scrutiny! (At least you are consistent in being wrong! :) )

    What is wrong with the Shadow Shroud Hypothesis?
    Excerpt: Simple Chemistry Proves the Shadow Shroud Wrong

    One need only turn to many articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals to find out about the chemistry of the image. Wilson should have done some basic research before writing his shadow shroud theory. Christianity Today’s editors should have sought out scientific opinion before publishing a pseudo-scientific article on the shadow shroud. The same can be said for ABC News. The papers in the peer-reviewed scientific journals don’t explain for certain how the images were created and they don’t opine on the Shroud’s authenticity. They only present scientific fact. (See list at right).

    The image on the Turin Shroud, the very thin layer of caramel-like substance, 180-600 nanometers thick, is thinner than most bacteria . The layer can be seen by phase-contrast microscopy. And with a scanning electron microscope the fine crystalline structure of the carbohydrate layer can be discerned. The image resists normal bleaching by chemicals or by sunlight. If the image were formed by a bleaching process, particularly an absence of bleaching as Wilson’s proposes, it would bleach out.

    The image on the Shroud of Turin can be scraped from the cloth, pulled away by adhesive and reduced with a diimide reagent, leaving colorless, undamaged linen. That cannot be the case with Wilson’s image.

    The picture on the right is a close up some Shroud of Turin fibers. The brown color is the caramel-like product, a melanoidin; the same stuff that gives beer its color, toasted bread its brown, and bodies their tan from sunless tanning lotions.

    Wilson’s proposed chemistry contradicts the scientific evidence. (See image-bearing coating picture in the right-hand column).

    The Problem with Blood for the Shadow Shroud

    There is the matter of the bloodstains. There is no image underneath the bloodstains. This means that wherever there was blood on the cloth it inhibited image formation. This cannot work in reverse. Wilson has failed to comprehend this problem.

    The Problem of the Second Face and the Shadow Shroud

    The simple fact that a second face has been discovered on the backside of the cloth is a major problem for Wilson’s Shadow Shroud. He was unaware. But when he found out about it he responded: “So, for now, I am undaunted by Fanti’s findings [=the second face], though I am aware that my confidence could yet vanish, as they say, like the morning dew.”

    It is not possible to superficially and selectively not bleach both sides of a cloth and bleach the inner fibers between both surfaces with sunshine. Period.

    The Issue of the Shroud’s Age for the Shadow Shroud

    Wilson is assuming that the cloth is medieval, created sometime in the 13th to 14th century, a timeframe based on carbon 14 dating in 1988. He is aware, that the date was challenged by by Raymond N. Rogers, a Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of California, scientist. He wrote: “but those objections [=Rogers' findings] have only just gained definite credibility.”

    What in the world does he mean by “only just gained?”

    He went on to write: “I have no desire to defend the carbon-dating performed on the Shroud, particularly after Rogers’ recent findings. Regardless, such artistic argumentation proves nothing.”

    Artistic argumentation? It is nothing of the sort. Rogers’ findings are purely scientific, published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. It is pure chemistry; pure science. Rogers not only proved that the carbon 14 samples, used in 1988, were invalid, but showed that the cloth was at least 1300 years old and possibly much older. This puts Wilson’s artistic method of painting on glass plate well beyond the time when glass plate suitable for his creation was available.

    ABC cited the 1988 carbon 14 tests and seemed unaware of the new findings. Did they not catch the news from Associated Press, BBC, Reuters, CNN and the New York Times? Did they not check their facts?

    Glass – Shadow of Doubt

    Shadow ShroudThe type of glass needed for Wilson’s proposed shadow shroud process did not exist in 1357, the latest possible date for the Shroud of Turin if it was a fake-relic. No one questions that the Shroud existed by then.

    Yet, it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that glass suitable for Wilson’s shadow shroud could be produced. The first flat plate glass wasn’t produced until 1688. Before then, plate glass was blown plate, which was rare, very limited in size and very distorted. Glass, very rare in 1356, was poor quality with many imperfections. According to the PPG Industries website:

    Flat glass for windows was still rare during much of the 17th and 18th centuries. Small panes were made by blowing a large glob of glass, removing it from the blowing iron and then rotating the glass quickly so it would spread and flatten. Such glass had a dimple in its center, many air bubbles and a pattern of concentric circles, but it was transparent and effective in keeping out the weather. At the end of the 17th century, the French learned how to grind and polish cast glass to produce plate glass, but only the rich could afford it.

    Great strides were made in the manufacture of flat glass during the 19th century. Compressed air technology led to flatter, better glass panes. Controlled amounts of air were used to blow a large glass cylinder, which was slit lengthwise, reheated and allowed to flatten under its own weight. Large, relatively inexpensive lites (panes) of glass were produced in this manner.

    What Wilson proposes, a shadow shroud, on a cloth that is 14 feet long and 3 feet wide is simply preposterous.
    http://shroudstory.wordpress.c.....ypothesis/

  33. Had the Dawk been just a little more docile (teachable), instead of a bombastic gadfly, it would have occurred to him immediately to reply to the effect that, well, there’s just a wee bit of difference between remembering a title of one word, and a discursive, even descriptive, title running to twenty-one words – all but the first few of which are invariably omitted as superfluous.

    But I think he knows in his heart that he has never had any kind of original intelligence, and has been found out in spades. He found a niche market in disaffected adolescents, who wouldn’t recognise the scientific method from a hole in the ground, and plied it for all it was worth, while it lasted. He probably dreads waking up in the morning, for fear of digging himself into a deeper and deeper hole. Isn’t he even an embarrassment now to most of his atheist confreres, ducking out of debate after debate?

  34. So wait- one can be a christian without having any understanding what it even means?

    Well one can be an American just by being born here…

    But still color me flabergasted.

  35. From the Steve Project:

    Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence.

    In other words, we all agree that everything got here somehow. We debate how it happened, but agree that whatever it may or may not be shall be named “evolution.” And by the way, just because we don’t know how it happened that doesn’t mean we can’t rule out any intelligent involvement.

    Red flags should go up when someone says that they know how something happened except they’re not sure how it happened but they can rule one really good possibility because it’s supernatural, except they can’t say why it’s supernatural, but that’s all okay because lots of people agree, so get on board or you’re a science-denier.

    What’s that warning about abusive jerks? They demand commitment when you hardly know them?

    That alarm is your inner BS detector. Listen to it.

  36. Scott,

    Just think what they are saying- “natural selection is a major mechanism” but natural selection doesn’t do anything.

    You also have to remember that project Steve and just about all evos insist that ID and creation argue against evolution of any kind, meaning we argue for a fixity of species.

  37. Neil at 25,

    Well, what a complete disappointment. Lets us take a moment and boil your comments down to their essentials.

    [Evolution] says some primitive living things reproduced (following unguided material processes) with changes over time to make all the living things we observe. Because evolution is so fully evidenced, those who accept it are also likely to surmise that the first living thing was also the product of unguided material processes, but we don’t claim this is proven.

    Translation: Because I personally believe them, it’s okay for materialists to publically conflate the issues of evolution with design. It is also okay that they then use this misrepresentation to justify the willful assumption of their conclusion - because after all - when they are pressed for evidence outside of the public forum, they will eventually admit they cannot prove their claims.

    This therefore appears entitrely reasonable.

    A big part of the history of science is elimination of supernatural (non-)explanations, even when the discovering genius was an outright supernaturalist. (And the proportion of discovering geniuses that are supernaturalists is converging to zero.)

    Translation: I need to sell my worldview, so I will abuse recorded history, then justify my ends by making over-reaching statements which are silly but self-serving.

    As to your larger point, that ID makes no claims about supernatural agency, well this is disingenuous, right?

    Translation: Even though I allow materialists to draw an inference I believe in, I shall chastise anyone else as “disingenuous” for doing the same thing.

    As for the stuff about entailments and “non-materially-reducible patterns” in your #16, I didn’t speak to it because it makes no sense to me.

    Translation: I am disinterested in any material evidence which may impact my certainty about those to whom I disagree, even if I am presented a perfect opportunity to understand their data.

    Speaking to ID & evidence generally, I’ve been made to believe that since first slithering into the world (as a marketing plan to disguise old earth creationism

    Translation: I intend to maintain my closed mind, by deploying mankind’s oldest form of political control – I shall demonize those to whom I disagree, and I shall misrepresent what they say.

    Have I been misinformed?

    Answer: Yes, to the extent that you’ve become convinced that your position has anything to do with being informed in the first place.

  38. Because I personally believe them, it’s okay for..

    I am indeed personally persuaded that the best minds that have been genuinely curious about life past and present — the yeast cells, algae, pterydactyls and raccoons — have hobbled together a robust explanatory framework supported by many different lines of evidence, molecular biology being particularly astounding in recent years (because of what it tells about relationships between now diverged species and the probable time the divergence would have taken).

    This broad understanding of the origin of the species of life is an amazing triumph of the human mind.

    That it has unsettling consequences for, indeed contradicts, legacy versions of human explanatory frameworks is just how things turned out: No designer/leprechaun needed.

    ID comes from marshaling human intelligence to defend the legacy versions, and not from any curiosity about nature; indeed it finds most sympathy where there is hostility to that curiosity. From Alabama to Saudi Arabia, it finds its home where the people most yearn for imagined redemption experiences augmented by regular and frequent performance of ritual.

    When we understand the processes more fully, perhaps this experience will be available as a pill; perhaps the hunger for these reality-denying experiences will be available by a genetic manipulation of the zygote.

    If you badly want a designer/leprechaun — and you badly do — then go ahead and claim it. But don’t be surprised when the people who are filling in the gaps of ignorance ignore you… except, that is, when we catch you trying to sneak your designer/leprechaun into the classrooms of the nation.

    There are no practitioners pushing forward the many crafts of the life sciences who have any use for ID in practice or in theory, including many who are up on information theory.

    (And btw, I am not. And I said I couldn’t make sense of what you wrote, suggesting to you the opportunity to restate it. Or link to something readable by a layman. I’ve been around the block with neo-creationist apologists, and by golly they do have a penchant for trying to drown people in dense intellectualized poo-poo, so sticky and stinky. But let me concede a non-zero probability to your paragraph about non-materially-reducible patterns constituting the most significant transformational leap in the understanding of nature in the last 50 or 150 years; and a website for religious apologists is precisely where one would expect to find such a canon-shattering reformulation, isn’t it?)

    ID helps nothing when you want to know why a new strain of disease is hitting some plant, or why some elephant has weird foot bones, or why human brains do some things quickly and automatically and other things slowly. ID says: “you can’t falsify the leprechaun”.

  39. Neil,

    “Claims about reality with supernatural content was indistinguishable from science long ago. Hypothesizing, speculating, a bit of observing: it was all natural “philosophy”. That’s getting fixed, and a supreme intelligence never comes up in the explanations with staying power.”

    If you are arguing that the more we know, the more we know that a god or gods didn’t do it, you are merely begging questions. It seems to me that you equate expanding consensus among scientists as scientific truth. How wrong you would be if that is your assessment.

    But the real cleverly disguised big point in all of this is that you have already determined what “supernatural” means and that you’ve decided not to believe in it or accept it as ever being legitimately in the realm of scientific inquiry. Therefore, anything that might appear close to what “supernatural” means to you is safely ignored without actually looking at the arguments. “Supernatural” is that magic word that means legitimate ignorant dismissal, and you get to label what you don’t like with the magic word.

  40. perhaps the hunger for these reality-denying experiences will be available by a genetic manipulation of the zygote
    perhaps the elimination of the hunger for these reality-denying experiences will be available by a genetic manipulation of the zygote

  41. 41

    There is a bit of the flavor here of conflict between “best-fit pending better evidence” explanations of what we observe, and “Absolute Truth” explanations. And some of this conflict results from semantic issues with the ambiguity of words. The theory of evolution, as it currently stands, assigns major importance to the interaction between biology and environment – BOTH of which are constantly in a state of change, so they are moving targets with respect to one another.

    So from what we are able to observe of the history of this interaction, do we see evidence of design? Well yes, absolutly! The environmental constraints limit, direct, and largely control the essentially limitless efforts of biology to keep changing. And in fact, many engineering design challenges today are soloved with basically evolutionary processes – that is, with trial-and-error-and-modification approaches embodying the essence of the environmental process.

    So was life designed? If we regard evolution as a design process (and Dembski’s definition allows this), then life was designed. The problem arises when one insists that a MIND designed it. And this is a problem for two reasons – because no mind emerges from the evidence, and because the evidence does not require a mind to do the designing. Evolutionary solutions to engineering problems invariably surprise the engineers – it was never something they’d have thought of. No mind was involved in the solution, but the solution WAS designed.

    So the problem I’m seeing here isn’t one of natural/artificial. Nature designs, and does so naturally. Instead, the problem is the religious one of force-cramming a Divine Intelligence into a process that doesn’t need one and shows no evidence of involving one. ID is a religious notion, not an attempt to explain natural processes. THOSE are already explained, and have the major, indeed fatal, flaw of not needing or involving any Divine Intelligence.

    So ID isn’t an attempt to re-explain the already well-understood. ID is an attempt to insert the Christian God into a process where this notion contributes nothing useful, other to pacify those who need to do so. And this is really a shame, because there’s no real relationship between the origin of life and the meaning of life. The origin questions are well handled by appropriate approaches, and the meaning questions are well handled by THEIR appropriate approaches. There’s no reason for either approach to claim territory to which it’s not entitled.

  42. you equate expanding consensus among scientists as scientific truth

    moon landings: truth or hoax?

    like it or not, all of our knowledge is probabilistic — knowledge of whether we are presently wearing socks, whether we love our mommies, whether we’re presently alive (tho i admit i’m having trouble with that last one)

    a claim about something that happened far away in time or space gets a truth rating according to the degree of consensus among smart, curious people i have reason to trust and who “get out a lot”

    you have already determined what “supernatural” means

    there’s ambiguity even here? (no end to the creative cunning of the apologist.)

    outside nature; something in violation of the best confirmed laws of nature; akin to a fictional character which may have a sort of existence as neural stuff in the head but which is always absent on the outside

    i used to believe in supernatural stuff like the abrahamic deity; i also remember thinking ghosts were possible (and cool!)

  43. My goodness! Why dont you people ever bother to read to resources page on UD? Always bringing up the same old tired objections to the table.
    Sheesh!

  44. Neil at 38

    I am indeed personally persuaded that the best minds that have been genuinely curious about life past and present — the yeast cells, algae, pterydactyls and raccoons — have hobbled together a robust explanatory framework supported by many different lines of evidence, molecular biology being particularly astounding in recent years (because of what it tells about relationships between now diverged species and the probable time the divergence would have taken).

    This broad understanding of the origin of the species of life is an amazing triumph of the human mind.

    That it has unsettling consequences for, indeed contradicts, legacy versions of human explanatory frameworks is just how things turned out: No designer/leprechaun needed.

    You seem to be having difficulty confronting the actual content of ID. Instead of me bothering you by shuffling around English text that you don’t appreciate, why don’t you just tell me how I should get it across to you that ID does not challenge the observation that organisms have common operating systems and have changed over time. In other words, you are swinging at a boogieman that doesn’t exist. Once you provide me with an example of text that will convince you of this now-legendary fact, I will repeat it back to you, then you can stop with this elegant but pointless defense of evolution.

    ID comes from marshaling human intelligence to defend the legacy versions, and not from any curiosity about nature; indeed it finds most sympathy where there is hostility to that curiosity. From Alabama to Saudi Arabia, it finds its home where the people most yearn for imagined redemption experiences augmented by regular and frequent performance of ritual.

    Ah yes, the “stupid people” defense. Forget about it being the last vestige of a lost argument, could there be anything more appealing than to vanquish your opponents with no more than an insult. I am quite certain you get a palpable sense of relief from it. Perhaps even more so if you could engage the arguments on the material evidence instead.

    And I said I couldn’t make sense of what you wrote, suggesting to you the opportunity to restate it. Or link to something readable

    I gave you a link to an argument that uses no more than easily accessible Queen’s English (common language) to explain one of the instances of observable evidence, and it does so in no more than a seven-to-eight minute read. I shall assume you didn’t follow the link, unless you tell me that even that text was confusing. If that should be the case, then I suggest you lurk for a while, until your prepared to defend your position against people who know it better than you do. Since you registered in order to engage, what do you have to lose?

  45. David,

    Evolution requires recorded information in order to operate. One is solely dependent upon the other. The phenomena of recorded information has observable physical entailments which themselves must be satisfied in order for it to exist.

    The Theory of Evolution does not provide a mechansism for those entailments to come into being.

  46. 46

    Upright BiPed,

    I’m afraid I don’t understand your objection, so I can address it usefully. What do you intend by “recorded information”, which is different from the genetic code itself, which is what is inherited? Are you saying the genetic code is not physical? Or not inherited? Or that inheritance of this physical code is not a mechanism?

    Or (forgive me, I’m guessing here) you’re saying that the observed mechanisms of the physical process of inheritance, and the theory explaining these observations, fails to explain how these mechanisms got started?

    If that’s the case, then I really don’t understand. That would be like saying the theory of gravity explaining why the moon orbits the earth fails to explain where the moon came from in the first place. And to me, that sounds like quite a different question.

  47. me: “you equate expanding consensus among scientists as scientific truth…”

    Neil: “moon landings: truth or hoax?”

    Pardon, but I doubt that those scientists and others who accept the moon landings as truth do so primarily because a majority of others do, but because of the evidence.

    Again, expanding consensus among scientists is not scientific truth. Heck, not even the evidence itself is truth; it’s what one does with the evidence; regardless of what a majority does with it. Sometimes the consensus will be correct, and sometimes not.

    me: “you have already determined what “supernatural” means…”

    Neil: “there’s ambiguity even here? (no end to the creative cunning of the apologist.)”

    I wouldn’t call it ambiguity; I would call it failure to define what is meant by “supernatural.” That’s why I believe the term is inadequate with relation to reality.

    I look at the Big Bang event as “supernatural” so far as we can adequately understand what “supernatural” means. In other words, while we can determine that the Big Bang event actually happened to a reasonably satisfying degree, how it happened seems to defy a natural explanation, as something that ultimately begins outside the realm of contingency.

    What one does with the fact that if there is contingency, there must also be necessity at the beginning (not necessarily in time, but outside of time and space). “Something” that exists but has no beginning, or is uncaused. If you want to call it “supernatural,” I think you can see how the term itself is inadequate. It might not be natural in the sense of contingent nature, but it is no less a part of reality in order for anything else that we view as reality to be meaningful. What you’re trying to suggest is that every phenomenon must necessarily be contingent; and then you end up with the absurdity of either an infinite regress of contingent causes, or an infinite regressive web of contingent causes.

    If you do what Stephen Hawking has done, you simply substitute what one would normally and reasonably deduce as “supernatural” (however you want to define it) with law, and declare that it is law itself that is the necessary framework or basis for contingent causes. But laws are descriptive, and not active or creative. Either way, you’ve acknowledged that there is something outside of or beyond contingency, which is necessary for the genesis of anything else.

    So I fail to see how a denial of “supernatural” adequately addresses these issues in a scientific manner. It sounds more like an avoidance of what is perceived as religious for the sake of maintaining an a priori worldview of materialism; but it doesn’t work. And that’s precisely why I would say that the endless cunning apologist is more the materialist than the theist or non-materialist.

  48. Hello David,

    I certainly did not intend to evoke the questions you asked. Simply enough, the genetic code describes the system or method used to record the information which is passed from parent to daughter.

    The link I offered explains issue, if you are so interested.

    Since you asserted several times the engineering prowess of evolution in your previous post, I simply wanted to highlight that evolution itself is entirely dependent on physical requirements which it offers absolutely no solution for.

    :)

  49. 49

    Upright BiPed,

    Frustratingly, I still don’t understand. The genetic code describes the attributes of the organism, and provides the instruction set for constructing these attributes.

    But you say that evolution is “entirely dependent on physical requirements it offers absolutely no solution for”, and I simply cannot guess what this means. A tree is entirely dependent on soil to grow in. But the tree “offers no solution” for soil. I don’t even know what a “solution for soil” might even consist of. It’s not a tree’s requirement to “explain” the ground.

    So maybe you could explain what you think evolution is required to explain. Give an example or something. Evolution is a biological process by which organisms reproduce slightly different organisms, different in many different ways, combined with variation in the capacity of these subsequent organisms to survive to produce more. What needs to be “solved” here?

  50. Evolutionary solutions to engineering problems invariably surprise the engineers – it was never something they’d have thought of. No mind was involved in the solution, but the solution WAS designed.

    No mind? I suppose if you don’t count the decades of computer science to design the processors and advance software development, and then someone analyzing a requirement and deciding that a genetic algorithm would be a good fit, designing it and executing it, all to design a single component imagined by someone else to add to a system designed by someone else, all of which is manufactured by equipment purposefully designed for that purpose, then yes, no mind is involved.

    And what do they invent so that they should be an example of what similar biological processes might produce? Nothing. They produce exactly what they were purposed, designed, and implemented to produce. A GA can improve on your antenna design. It does not start with raw materials and a fitness function and design from scratch the communication system and accompanying protocols that require the antenna.

    They make the opposite of the case you wish by demonstrating the limitations of evolutionary processes rather than their capabilities. That such a poor example is used over and over to support what evolution can “design” should make anyone wonder why a better one isn’t available.

    Why does anyone ever bring up GAs?

  51. Neil,

    Sorry, I have to correct something in here:

    “What one does with the fact that if there is contingency, there must also be necessity at the beginning (not necessarily in time, but outside of time and space). “Something” that exists but has no beginning, or is uncaused. If you want to call it “supernatural,” I think you can see how the term itself is inadequate. It might not be natural in the sense of contingent nature, but it is no less a part of reality in order for anything else that we view as reality to be meaningful. What you’re trying to suggest is that every phenomenon must necessarily be contingent; and then you end up with the absurdity of either an infinite regress of contingent causes, or an infinite regressive web of contingent causes.”

    I would correct this by saying : what you’re trying to suggest is that every state of being in what we call reality must be contingent…..

    “phenomenon” is the wrong term.

  52. CannuckianYankee, in all your verbiage you don’t acknowledge once that by supernatural I’m clearly referring to superdude gods and angels and devils, agents with intelligence and intention, stuff billions of people believe and teach their kids.

    You can’t even make a fair reply about the moon landing hoax: nearly all scientists, just like layfolk, only “know” what they know indirectly from media reports, and individuals ascribe lesser or greater amounts of trust to these sources.

    I’m surely done with you.

  53. Neil,

    “in all your verbiage you don’t acknowledge once that by supernatural I’m clearly referring to superdude gods and angels and devils, agents with intelligence and intention, stuff billions of people believe and teach their kids.”

    I know exactly what you meant by it. You have a very narrow non-functional definition or idea of what “supernatural” means. This is the basic and typical avoidance of materialism.

    I didn’t acknowledge it because I don’t believe it’s simply a matter of dismissing what is necessary for anything to exist – the “superdude” if you will, and expecting it to magically go away. I believe it’s the height of irrationality to believe that everything we call “nature” simply poofed itself into existence without a necessary first cause.

    Regarding the moon landing hoax; the key word you stated is “nearly all.” The fact is that there are eyewitnesses still living who can attest to the fact of the moon landing, and there is enough documentation outside of the media that attests to that fact. It’s not simply a matter of media reports, although many of us get much of what we consider as fact from the media.

    If you were to follow your argument to its logical conclusion, you could not depend on any documented evidence for any historic event, because it’s all disseminated from some form of media. My view is that documented evidence can be evaluated along with other evidences to determine if it is true or not, without any input from consensus.

    But lets get back to the real issue here; you have basically stated that consensus science is truth, and since the consensus is drifting away from the idea of God, there is therefore, no god, gods or “supernatural” in general. Fine. I’m inclined to disagree, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the moon landing.

  54. David W Gibson:

    The genetic code describes the attributes of the organism, and provides the instruction set for constructing these attributes.

    Evidence please.

    BTW David ID is not anti-evolution. ID argues against blind and undirected processes having sole dominion over evolution.

  55. To Neil Schipper,

    ID does not require the supernatural- period, end of story.

  56. Update:

    Dawkins STILL Gets “Origin” Title Wrong AFTER the Interview! – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCtifNoIsJ4

    And if it is a memory test that is required for being a ‘true’ Christian, instead of the ‘gift of grace’ from God,,,

    Ephesians 2:8
    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–

    ,,,Then is this following guy the only guy in the whole world who is actually a Christian???

    The Gospel According to Luke,, recited from memory – Bruce Kuhn – video – University of California, Santa Barbara
    http://vimeo.com/35834513

    Verse and Music:

    Ephesians 2:9
    not by works, so that no one can boast.

    Sarah McLachlan – Answer –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8B1ai25lUo

  57. Frustratingly, I still don’t understand.

    Well David, (#49)

    The frustration is apparently something we share. I provided a link to explain the issues I am raising with you. In that link, I provide a fairly comprehensive explanation, and then very plainly say …

    “So here we have a series of observations regarding the physicality of recorded information which repeat themselves throughout every form” … “There is a list of the physical entailments of recorded information that can therefore be generalized and compiled” … “That list includes the four material observations as discussed in the previous paragraphs …”

    …and it then goes on to summarize those physical requirements for a second time. Yet you return with this statement:

    ”you say that evolution is “entirely dependent on physical requirements it offers absolutely no solution for”, and I simply cannot guess what this means.”

    I would have imagined at this point it would be crystal clear that the physical requirements which you “cannot guess” are those being explained to you, but apparently I was mistaken. This leaves me no alternative than to simply concede that you flat out have no understanding of the issue – even after being given a coherent explanation.

    Instead of thinking of you as disingenuous, I will simply leave it at that.

    cheers

  58. Joe,

    “ID does not require the supernatural- period, end of story.”

    While this is exactly right, I think the hangup with many materialists with regard to the legitimacy of ID is “supernaturalism.” While ID does not require the supernatural, it allows for a supernatural cause. Some materialists will not even consider ID because of that one hangup; yet they have no problem considering Big Bang cosmology despite it allowing also for a supernatural cause. Materialists have been able to deal with the Big Bang’s theistic implications, but at present they haven’t been able to deal with ID. They believe ID supporters are being disingenuous by not identifying the designer.

    With Big Bang theory I don’t hear anybody really identifying the “Big Banger,” so the objection seems to be a bit disingenuous itself.

    I think it’s helpful to deal with the supernatural hangup, not because we want to insist on who the designer is, but because it is a hangup; and I don’t believe most materialists have any idea what they mean by “supernatural.”

    As a theist myself, I don’t end any inquiry into the supernatural or the existence of God with incredulity along the lines of what Neil terms “superdude,” or angels, devils, etc. I’m able to go beyond that and to rationalize how anything can exist without a very specific and necessary first cause that begins to look a lot like God as we narrow down the criteria based on issues of causation, contingency and necessity. So with that, the hangup essentially disappears for me.

    So while I wouldn’t insist that by ID a materialist accept the “supernatural,” whatever they mean by it, I would insist that they get over their anti-supernaturalism hangup, because it’s a clear question-begger.

  59. Upright BiPed, i originally visited the link in your #16 briefly, and saw it’s a continuation of a conversation, and there isn’t even a link to what went prior. So your suggesting this to someone as a start point to wrap his head around new ideas seems faulty or disingenuous.

    I have now read it. Sloppy meandering, loosely defined terms. Waste of my time. Word salad.

    It’s written not to illuminate, but to obscure and confound. Complexity as a weapon.

    A work of deception.

    Work of the devil, for which hell waits.

    Along the way we encounter these gems:

    for one thing to represent another thing within a system, it must be separate from it, and if it is truly a separate thing, then there must be something to establish the relationship that exist between the representation and the effect it is to represent (within that system)

    .. the immaterial relationship between a physical representation and its physical effect ..

    In the dynamics of information transfer, the operative observation is that each of these physical things (the representations, the protocols, and their resulting effects) always remains discrete.

    the dynamic property that they each remain discrete
    is a material observation

    This has the stench of the worst crank philosophy. If scientists wasted their time with every crank argument like this the whole project of discovery would freeze.

    And this is what you propose to unseat a theory that over 150 years, despite having undergone refinements, is daily supported empirically, and has been contradicted in its core claims never?

    ID does not challenge the observation that organisms have common operating systems and have changed over time

    Very forward thinking indeed. This site takes for its name opposition to descent from a common ancestor; common ancestry is what all observation and investigation supports.

    And every third article here takes juvenile swipes at Darwin, or something called “Darwinism” (which, like “Mendelism” or “Schrodingerism”, is an inanity, and something no one subscribes to).

    Why do you exist? To feed thousands of loudmouth preachers, and the likes of Santorum, Bachmann and Perry, with a steady stream of distortions. That’s why you exist.

    Thou shalt not lie, but yet lie dost ye.

  60. Cannuckian Yankee-

    As science only cares about reality, it too allows for the supernatural.

  61. To Neil Schipper-

    It is true that some or even most IDists do not accept common ancestry as in fish->amphibian->reptile-> mammal type common ancestry, but tta does not mean ID argues against it. ID doesn’t care and IDists say if that happened then it happened by design not via filtered willy nilly.

    As for 150 years of evidence, well strange there still isn’t anything that demonstrates a prokaryote can evolve into something other than a prokaryote.

  62. #59,

    I have now read it. Sloppy meandering, loosely defined terms. Waste of my time. Word salad.

    It’s written not to illuminate, but to obscure and confound.

    Complexity as a weapon.

    A work of deception.

    Work of the devil, for which hell waits.

    This has the stench of the worst crank philosophy. If scientists wasted their time with every crank argument like this the whole project of discovery would freeze.

    I hate to break it to you Skippy, but empiricism isn’t conducted by running through the halls, waving your hands above your head, yelling “Stop It, Stop It, Stop It”

    As threatening as it may appear to you, one actually has to engage arguments and data in order to refute them. We live in a material universe, where the existence and transfer of information has material consequences which we can observe. If those material observations cause you some sort of particular emotional distress, you can always forego empiricism and become something else.

    And this is what you propose to unseat a theory that over 150 years…

    Ah yes. Unable to confront the argument in front of you, a surrogate is required for the beating. Yet again.

    Why do you exist? To feed thousands of loudmouth preachers, and the likes of Santorum, Bachmann and Perry, with a steady stream of distortions. That’s why you exist.

    Thou shalt not lie, but yet lie dost ye.

    Yes, I understand you are upset. My elder grandmother use to tell me that Calgon made some nice bath products. Perhaps you can give them a try.

  63. Neil: “I’m surely done with you.”

    UBP: “Unable to confront the argument in front of you, a surrogate is required for the beating. Yet again.”

    He’ll probably be done with you shortly. :-(

  64. 64

    Cannuckian Yankee,

    While this is exactly right, I think the hangup with many materialists with regard to the legitimacy of ID is “supernaturalism.” While ID does not require the supernatural, it allows for a supernatural cause.

    But if we regard evolution as being designed by the feedback constraints of mutation and environment, we have no need to rename “evolution” to “ID”. We seem to have devised new nomenclature to include the possibility of the supernatural, which evolution does not. So there really IS a nod to the supernatural in this verbiage.

    Some materialists will not even consider ID because of that one hangup; yet they have no problem considering Big Bang cosmology despite it allowing also for a supernatural cause. Materialists have been able to deal with the Big Bang’s theistic implications, but at present they haven’t been able to deal with ID. They believe ID supporters are being disingenuous by not identifying the designer.

    No cosmologists I’ve ever heard of, has allowed for any theistic implication of the big bang. Instead, they present a model based on current observations. Since observations at that early time are indirect and highly limited, the range of allowable models is of course quite large – to the point where some of them do not involve a big bang at all. None of these models have any supernatural component. I suppose the problem is if the models are sufficiently unconstrained as to allow supernatural “explanations”, they have abandoned any pretense of the relevance of evidence, in favor of “anything goes”. I think it’s important to understand that there are no theological implications to any cosmological model of the big bang. None.

    With Big Bang theory I don’t hear anybody really identifying the “Big Banger,” so the objection seems to be a bit disingenuous itself.

    No, the problem here is, you’re creating a poor analogy. You seem to be confusing “unknown” with “theistic”, and these are quite different things. I should repeat, perhaps: NO cosmological models have ANYTHING supernatural anywhere in them. Even models that have a big bang simply do not allow for a supernatural cause. All such models rest on genuine observational evidence, and ringing in the supernatural to fill in blanks in the evidence is outside the bounds of cosmology.

    I think it’s helpful to deal with the supernatural hangup, not because we want to insist on who the designer is, but because it is a hangup; and I don’t believe most materialists have any idea what they mean by “supernatural.”

    A good point, I think. My reading is, most materialists think of “supernatural” as meaning “in violation of well-established principles by which our universe operates.” This is perhaps more subtle than it sounds. Quantum mechanics is based on the observation of quite a few violations of the understandings at the time. But they were never regarded as supernatural – we simply expanded our understanding. Quantum mechanics is now viewed as operating under well-defined rules. There never was any all-purpose “wastebasket” of unexplainable stuff.

    As a theist myself, I don’t end any inquiry into the supernatural or the existence of God with incredulity along the lines of what Neil terms “superdude,” or angels, devils, etc. I’m able to go beyond that and to rationalize how anything can exist without a very specific and necessary first cause that begins to look a lot like God as we narrow down the criteria based on issues of causation, contingency and necessity. So with that, the hangup essentially disappears for me.

    Hopefully, you can understand what this looks like to Neil. It LOOKS like you are saying “here is something I can’t explain or understand, so I’ll attribute it to God, and this satisfies me, so I don’t have a problem anymore.” And to Neil, all you’ve done is created a LABEL. You might as well have said “I believe in the Great Green Arkleseizure, I can’t find a first cause here, therefore the GGA did it, and I’m good with that.” But making up a label isn’t explanatory. It’s like the joke where the psychiatrist tells the patient “You suffer from nameless fears? No problem, we have a name for everything!” But unfortunately, giving the fear a label doesn’t make it go away.

    So while I wouldn’t insist that by ID a materialist accept the “supernatural,” whatever they mean by it, I would insist that they get over their anti-supernaturalism hangup, because it’s a clear question-begger.

    I think this is a misunderstanding. The materialist, following the established rules of science, seeks some sort of positive evidence for ID. Claiming it’s supernatural is fine, if you have positive evidence for the supernatural, otherwise it’s an empty label substituting for missing knowledge. And arriving at ID by an attempt at elimination (“I can’t believe evolution could have done it, therefore it must have been God”) presents logical problems, because there are many possibilities. This approach to ID sounds a lot like “I proved that 4+2 doesn’t equal 42, and THEREFORE it equals 17 by default!” If ID embodies the claim that an intelligent designer was involved, the materialist wishes evidence of this. Without such evidence, all we have is “golly, this sure looks designed to me.” For those who do not already assume design, this approach is unsatisfying.

  65. David Gibson,

    There is a website called wiley online library. The contents there are not free since you have to purchase the article you want to read. Anyway, the website includes whole books, but you have the option to purchase single chapters. There is a book archived there called the blackwell companion to natural theology. One of the chapters is written by a physicist and a philosopher. The chapter is called The kalam argument. I suggest you invest a couple of bucks and inform yourself. As for quantum mechanics, you should read Bruce Gordon’s essay A quantum theoretic argument against naturalism, in the book The nature of nature.

  66. David,

    “But if we regard evolution as being designed by the feedback constraints of mutation and environment, we have no need to rename “evolution” to “ID”. We seem to have devised new nomenclature to include the possibility of the supernatural, which evolution does not. So there really IS a nod to the supernatural in this verbiage.”

    That would be fine if it was a position consistently held across the board by TE’s, Darwinists, etc.., but it is not. It sounds like the soft sell to get everyone to abandon any religious inklings for no good reason.

    Don’t forget also that Darwin did not start with bare reason, but intended to find a formula that required no “supernatural.” I believe he failed, and his initial inquiry was a religious commitment to materialism. That’s a world-view commitment and not a scientific one.

    “No, the problem here is, you’re creating a poor analogy. You seem to be confusing “unknown” with “theistic”, and these are quite different things. I should repeat, perhaps: NO cosmological models have ANYTHING supernatural anywhere in them. Even models that have a big bang simply do not allow for a supernatural cause. All such models rest on genuine observational evidence, and ringing in the supernatural to fill in blanks in the evidence is outside the bounds of cosmology.”

    I don’t know how much more clear it could be that when we have evidence (not limited to Big Bang cosmology) that the universe (space and time) began, it allows for a theistic inference. While a theistic inference is not immediately demanded and one could (though I believe not rationally) look for an explanation elsewhere; a theistic inference becomes even more reasonable than had we come up with evidence for an eternal universe. We have no evidence for an eternal universe and the very notion defies logic. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to infer theism without necessarily going any further and insisting on it.

    “My reading is, most materialists think of “supernatural” as meaning “in violation of well-established principles by which our universe operates.” This is perhaps more subtle than it sounds.”

    I don’t read it as subtle at all. It’s an in-your-face statement that there can be no god or gods. It is an apology for atheism. It’s a religious statement more than it is scientific. I think you’ve illustrated the point quite well. There is absolutely nothing in scientific evidence, which demands that kind of commitment.

    “It LOOKS like you are saying “here is something I can’t explain or understand, so I’ll attribute it to God, and this satisfies me, so I don’t have a problem anymore.”

    Quite the contrary. What I’m saying is that there’s nothing in science that would cause me to reject any theistic inference from material evidence. I don’t believe I’m alone in that. The supernatural hangup of materialists stems from their a priori commitment to materialism, and not from the science alone.

    “Claiming it’s supernatural is fine, if you have positive evidence for the supernatural, otherwise it’s an empty label substituting for missing knowledge.”

    I agree that it’s an empty label. And as such, anti-supernaturalism is also empty. It attempts to assert materialism as the default position of science when it is not.

    Bottom line for science should be: there could be a God, or there could not. We currently do not know by science that there is or is not. If there is a God, it is reasonable to accept that there could be some evidence for his existence. If there is no God, there would be none.

    The materialists seem to be afraid of finding such evidence, and as such, they either have ruled out anything that allows a theistic inference (as in ID), or they find a quick fix to theistic inferences by suggesting such things as multiverses (as in cosmology).

  67. David,

    I concur with Kuartus that you look into the Kalam Cosmological argument; since, as I pointed out, we all have metaphysical world-view commitments, and materialists are not immune.

  68. 68

    Don’t forget also that Darwin did not start with bare reason, but intended to find a formula that required no “supernatural.” I believe he failed, and his initial inquiry was a religious commitment to materialism. That’s a world-view commitment and not a scientific one.

    Why does this matter? Darwin’s biography might be interesting, but his science must withstand rigorous testing by biologists, not biographers. And perhaps, if we could go back and time and read Darwin’s mind, we might discover he was really convinced it was Martians or Leprechauns. And it STILL wouldn’t make any difference to the science.

    I don’t know how much more clear it could be that when we have evidence (not limited to Big Bang cosmology) that the universe (space and time) began, it allows for a theistic inference.

    Yes, this is very clear. Indeed, a theistic inference can be drawn from everything conceivable, and some theists believe that their personal God is driving the actions of every subatomic particle and everything else known and unknown in the universe, and enforcing all the laws of reality everywhere in realtime. Who knows, maybe they’re right. Nonetheless, cosmological models have no supernatural components.

    While a theistic inference is not immediately demanded and one could (though I believe not rationally) look for an explanation elsewhere; a theistic inference becomes even more reasonable than had we come up with evidence for an eternal universe. We have no evidence for an eternal universe and the very notion defies logic. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to infer theism without necessarily going any further and insisting on it.

    I respectfully suggest that you are assuming your conclusions as your arguments. Certainly the materialists I know find no reason for anything supernatural in any of this. They concede that a great deal about the universe, including its origin, are essentially unknown. But unknown does NOT mean supernatural. You’re right that the evidence we have suggests that our universe had a start. I’ve seen at least a dozen models of such a start, all of them consistent with the evidence we have. None of them involve anything theistic at all. And certainly there are also theistic models, but these are proposed by theists.

    I don’t read it as subtle at all. It’s an in-your-face statement that there can be no god or gods. It is an apology for atheism.

    Then I guess I didn’t explain very well. To the materialist, “supernatural” means “magical”, and materialists reject magic.

    It’s a religious statement more than it is scientific. I think you’ve illustrated the point quite well. There is absolutely nothing in scientific evidence, which demands that kind of commitment.

    Again this strikes me as a bit subtle. Certainly there is nothing in the scientific evidence that precludes the supernatural. As one wag put it, if you hold up a brick and drop it, you can’t rule out “intelligent pushing”, but gravity is more testable. So I agree with you here. There is a philosophy of science which is taken on faith. Among other things, this philosophy holds that if it can’t be tested, it can’t be science. It also holds that the universe is internally consistent, and inherently knowable. No way to prove any of this.

    Quite the contrary. What I’m saying is that there’s nothing in science that would cause me to reject any theistic inference from material evidence. I don’t believe I’m alone in that. The supernatural hangup of materialists stems from their a priori commitment to materialism, and not from the science alone.

    Ah, now I understand, and I agree with you again. The scientific method is not competent to rule out the supernatural. As I said earlier, God may be deliberately managing every particle and force in the universe, and there would be no way to know. What the materialist might argue here is, so far no theistic or supernatural component has been required to explain anything so far explained. Layering on a superfluous supernatural offends Occam’s Razor. It adds no explanatory power to anything. But it might be true, and there’s no way to show it’s not.

    I agree that it’s an empty label. And as such, anti-supernaturalism is also empty. It attempts to assert materialism as the default position of science when it is not.Oh no! Science ASSUMES, as an inherent part of the scientific method, that all things in the universe are natural, that they all arise from natural causes, and that they can all be explained in natural terms. In fact, this set of presumptions DEFINES the boundaries of science as we know it.

    Bottom line for science should be: there could be a God, or there could not. We currently do not know by science that there is or is not. If there is a God, it is reasonable to accept that there could be some evidence for his existence. If there is no God, there would be none.

    The materialists seem to be afraid of finding such evidence, and as such, they either have ruled out anything that allows a theistic inference (as in ID), or they find a quick fix to theistic inferences by suggesting such things as multiverses (as in cosmology).

    Yes and no. Mostly no, I would guess (but I don’t know). Yes, there could be a god. But my best understanding of any gods are, they are by definition not testable by the scientific method. If they were, they could not be gods!

    Now, the theistic evolutionist regards reality as we know it as God’s Works, and the process of evolution as scientifically understood as God’s chosen method of making His will happen. But materialists (and science generally) rules out a theistic inference simply because it is inherently NOT testable, and thus falls outside the competence of science to investigate.

    (And I’ve read about multiverses, but I have yet to see anyone NOT a religious apologist claim that they are proposed to address anything theistic in any way. They simply arise as implications of some cosmological models. But once again, I agree that a theological interpretation can be applied to anything conceivable.)

  69. Heya CY, #63

    He’ll probably be done with you shortly. :)

    On the contrary, I think he was ‘done with me’ from the very moment I presented a material argument that didn’t match up with any of the readily available talking points he had memorized. As very clearly demonstrated, neither he nor David Gibson want to engage actual evidence. It serves neither of their purpose. Consequently, both played their own individual cards. Neil’s was to wear condescension as a shield against a superior position, and David’s was to pretend not to know what the hell I could possibly be talking about. From a strategic perspective, both are easily identifiable as flanking maneuvers. A flank is a action to take when one cannot mount a frontal assault on a position; it’s a calculated move into uncontested territory, one small enough to defend. In both of their cases it was entirely reactionary, but certainly served their purposes until they could gain the one thing they both needed most – disengagement.

    What is interesting is to recall the strategic principles which go along with their choice of maneuver. There are actually three which have been well-established in writing for well over a thousand years. The first is to the most obvious; to force an immediate change in the engagement (away from the strength of the defended position). You’ll notice that neither came even close to touching on the argument I presented (again, it doesn’t serve their purpose). The second and third principles are based more on a sober recognition of the situation, a sort of introspection; a realistic view of one’s strength against the defended position. Both of them fail here miserably, not necessarily because they are terrible actors, but merely because their positions suck so bad in the face of the argument against them. (However, in the end it doesn’t really matter because neither of them had anything to lose – having wagered nothing, certainly not their pursuit of truth, empirical or otherwise). The first of these two principles talks about immediacy, or as it is typically understood, the need for an element of surprise. And the second talks about pursuit (ie: flanking maneuvers only open a window for a moment at best against a superior position, better to rush in quickly with whatever strength you have to offer).

    These two principles themselves are truly about creating a successful and authentic flank, but it is important in this instance to know what “success” actually was. It certainly wasn’t defeating my argument. That would be way too ambitious given the rather monumental differences in the strengths of our three positions, so “success” for both of them was no more glamorous than just simply getting the hell away from the argument being presented. In that regard, they both accomplished their goal.

    On the other hand, I have like many others here, have literally gasped at the astonishing way some people will gladly prostrate themselves in defense of their empirically failed ideology, against all evidence to the contrary. In this instance I would have been debating one actor who was ready to vent his spleen over the evils of religion, and another staring at his shoes pretending not to understand the language.

    Not today.

    :|

  70. me: “Don’t forget also that Darwin did not start with bare reason, but intended to find a formula that required no “supernatural.” I believe he failed, and his initial inquiry was a religious commitment to materialism. That’s a world-view commitment and not a scientific one.”

    David: “Why does this matter? Darwin’s biography might be interesting, but his science must withstand rigorous testing by biologists, not biographers. And perhaps, if we could go back and time and read Darwin’s mind, we might discover he was really convinced it was Martians or Leprechauns. And it STILL wouldn’t make any difference to the science.”

    While I agree that it shouldn’t matter, the thing you should really ask yourself is why it should matter that we try to find a formula that leads us in a direction away from theistic implications. If there is no god or gods, then such a formula would be essentially meaningless anyway. It would be sort of like saying, “while we believe bicycles don’t require a car transmission, we’ve finally invented a formula whereby we can prove that bicycles don’t require a car transmission.” If they didn’t require it in the first place the determining that they don’t is meaningless.

    It seems to be the same with Darwinism. If there is no god or gods, then the universe does not require one. The real issue then is obviously that the atheistic materialist who raises the issue of there not needing to be a god or gods, would like there to be such a formula (again, beginning with the metaphysical commitment); and while Darwin believed that formula could be found in the natural sciences, he forgot all about metaphysical assumptions; which is why Kuartus’ suggestion is important. Deal with the metaphysical assumptions first, and then we can begin to discuss what the scientific evidence says or does not say.

    So I would argue that it most definitely makes a difference to the science if the conclusions of the scientist are based on his/her a priori metaphysical assumption and not on the raw data itself coupled with reasonable scientific methodology.

    “To the materialist, “supernatural” means “magical”, and materialists reject magic.”

    Yes, I agree. That’s the reason why they reject it. But I would argue that materialists have very good reasons for rejecting magic. I actually like “The Amazing Randi’s” exposing of magic frauds, for example. But how do they get “magical” from “supernatural?” Would they necessarily be the same thing? Magic seems to be a defying of the laws of nature by an entity who is him/herself confined to the laws of nature, while if we limit “supernatural” to a deity who created everything, and exists before anything else that exists, then that deity would therefore be the author of those laws. It would then make no sense that such a deity could not defy those laws, or in effect act above those laws. So in that sense, “supernatural” is not the same as “magic,” and the materialists are wrong from the very start.

    Again, it’s to the metaphysics we must go. And the metaphysics require certain basic self evident assumptions like the LNC, or we won’t get anywhere.

  71. 71

    While I agree that it shouldn’t matter, the thing you should really ask yourself is why it should matter that we try to find a formula that leads us in a direction away from theistic implications.

    But of course. And the answer is, such formulas allow for empirical testing, for falsification, for making predictions which can be tested.

    If there is no god or gods, then such a formula would be essentially meaningless anyway. It would be sort of like saying, “while we believe bicycles don’t require a car transmission, we’ve finally invented a formula whereby we can prove that bicycles don’t require a car transmission.” If they didn’t require it in the first place the determining that they don’t is meaningless.

    I’m not sure I understand this. This isn’t a statement of belief, it’s a statement about bicycles. DO bicycles need transmissions? By trial and error, we find that they do not. CAN bicycles have transmissions? Indeed they do (not car transmissions, but transmissions suitable for bicycles). And the question of a transmission for a bicycle is a very good one, because it leads to the invention of various approaches to bicycle transmissions. But the utility of such devices seems unrelated to the existence of god or gods.

    It seems to be the same with Darwinism.

    What does “Darwinism” mean in this context? I am interpreting it as the hypothesis that individual variations lead to differential breeding success, causing favorable variations to be more common in subsequent generations. Is this your understanding of “Darwinism”?

    If there is no god or gods, then the universe does not require one. The real issue then is obviously that the atheistic materialist who raises the issue of there not needing to be a god or gods, would like there to be such a formula (again, beginning with the metaphysical commitment)

    I don’t see why. I agree that if there is no god or gods, clearly the universe is doing fine without them. But your atheistic materialist then simply drops the issue as irrelevant, and goes about examining the universe to see how it works. And I would argue that if this materialist in his investigations encountered any god or gods, and was able to determine that (and how) they affect the universe in important ways, he’d be a fool not to include them in his explanation of how things work.

    while Darwin believed that formula could be found in the natural sciences, he forgot all about metaphysical assumptions; which is why Kuartus’ suggestion is important. Deal with the metaphysical assumptions first, and then we can begin to discuss what the scientific evidence says or does not say.

    Granted, Darwin (and all other scientists) examine the data to extract conclusions from observation. They don’t deal with metaphysical assumptions, because within the scope of their research there is no real need to do so.

    Gould relates a story wherein Darwin attended a meeting of the London Geological Society. This organization, like any scientific organization, suffered from often violent disagreements as to the interpretation of the evidence. So they resolved not to theorize until they had enough data! Darwin scoffed that they might as well go down to the nearest quarry and describe every pebble. Darwin argued that no evidence is meaningful outside the context of some hypothesis, theory, or model.

    So I’m not quite sure what you’re saying here. Science makes the metaphysical assumptions that the universe is knowable, that it is consistent, that every aspect of it is ultimately understandable, and that it contains nothing “unnatural”, and thus lying beyond investigation.

    So I would argue that it most definitely makes a difference to the science if the conclusions of the scientist are based on his/her a priori metaphysical assumption and not on the raw data itself coupled with reasonable scientific methodology.

    By the very concept of science, this is backwards. You do not START by assuming your conclusions and then seek whatever supports them. You START with the raw data, from which you form testable hypotheses. Test them, reject the failures, refine the hypotheses, test again. Each test generates more data, helping to refine the hypotheses. The result is an explanation of how things work. Science can never address WHY things work, because within the scientific method such questions have no referent – they don’t make sense.

    But how do they get “magical” from “supernatural?” Would they necessarily be the same thing? Magic seems to be a defying of the laws of nature by an entity who is him/herself confined to the laws of nature, while if we limit “supernatural” to a deity who created everything, and exists before anything else that exists, then that deity would therefore be the author of those laws. It would then make no sense that such a deity could not defy those laws, or in effect act above those laws. So in that sense, “supernatural” is not the same as “magic,” and the materialists are wrong from the very start.

    This I understand. What you would SEEM to be saying, in the ears of the materialist, is that if we have a magical entity, then we can permit this entity to perform magic. But this just adds another layer of turtles. Once again, one of the tenets of science is that the rules of the universe are consistent. And therefore all entities capable of influencing the universe, are themselves bound by the laws of that universe. It’s considered “no fair” for some entity to reach in from “outside” (a non-operationalized concept), diddle with reality as we know it, and then slip back and hide where we are in principle forbidden from looking.

    Science holds that while the universe can be endlessly subtle and devious, it is NEVER mendacious. Science works by observing SOME of what happens (half-truths), and trying to figure out what it means and where to look next. But the universe does not present falsehoods, only half-truths from our perspective, and whole truths as our perspective broadens. In this formulation, a god or gods would be regarded as whimsically introducing falsehoods, violations of the basic rules. If this DOES happen, science would have been fatally crippled from the start.

  72. David,

    “But unknown does NOT mean supernatural. You’re right that the evidence we have suggests that our universe had a start. I’ve seen at least a dozen models of such a start, all of them consistent with the evidence we have. None of them involve anything theistic at all. And certainly there are also theistic models, but these are proposed by theists.”

    I think most of the theists I know of who deal with cosmology rely on the current “non-theistic” models. Those models do lend themselves to theistic interpretations, though.

    As far as the unknown; yes I think that is the best position when one simply does not know. It’s being honest. But there’s a lot that many materialists claim to know that they don’t really know by the science, yet quite often they will insist that they do know by science. I would say the same about some theists as well.

    So to say that since science can’t tell me, it must remain an unknown strikes me as false. If it’s strictly a scientific question, then I would agree, but the existence of a deity, while it might touch on science, goes far beyond science in my view, and I believe that such a deity’s existence can be known. Science can lend itself to theistic implications, but does not give us all of the knowledge we need to have to be able to say and know “there is a God.”

    Now to deal with the supernatural:

    David: “But unknown does NOT mean supernatural.”

    I don’t believe I’ve ever made the claim that what is unknown by science is necessarily supernatural. But neither would I rule it out – that it could be. What I happen to believe is that the universe is natural, not supernatural. Therefore, everything that operates within the universe does so within the confines of nature’s laws; with very limited exceptions (those being when the deity acts above or before nature as in miracles and the universe’s genesis event). I’m quite open to the idea that what ID theorists call design was “front-loaded” first as a thought or plan and then into the very fabric of nature; such that we could have a very reasonable natural explanation for how complex biological systems arose; while still not limited to materialistic Darwinian explanations. We aren’t currently required by any of the evidence to believe that, but it’s perfectly reasonable to accept it as possibly true even if the evidence shows that there’s intricate design. But the other exception is when the deity acts above nature as in a miracle of history or in the here and now. Again, these would be very rare exceptions. I don’t believe I’ve ever witnessed anything that could be called a true miracle that did not at the same time have a natural explanation, but I don’t rule them out. I do have a natural and reasonable skepticism of many claims of miracles, because I just don’t believe they are as normative as many theists believe they are – I’m talking broken limbs being instantly repaired, etc.

  73. 73

    But there’s a lot that many materialists claim to know that they don’t really know by the science, yet quite often they will insist that they do know by science. I would say the same about some theists as well.

    Since I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to here, I must speculate. And my speculation is that this area can get tricky, because at the margin we encounter the problem of knowledge – how do we know that we know what we know, and such. Science never claims to offer proof of anything, only some level of support for a proposed explanation. Now, the level of support offered may be sufficient for one person to call it scientific knowledge and for another to disagree. Even discounting theistic interpretations (which strike me as infinitely malleable), raw data commonly support (or aren’t inconsistent with) different interpretations. And science really is in the business of interpreting raw data. “Scientific knowledge” IS a body of interpretations.

    So to say that since science can’t tell me, it must remain an unknown strikes me as false. If it’s strictly a scientific question, then I would agree, but the existence of a deity, while it might touch on science, goes far beyond science in my view, and I believe that such a deity’s existence can be known.

    This is somewhat convoluted. If we are dealing strictly with science, then if science doesn’t know, it’s unknown. And certainly materialists would argue that deities are invisible to science, except insofar as scientific explanations of phenomena are testable and theistic explanations generally are not. I’d argue that the existence of anything “outside nature” (whatever that means) is not knowable via the scientific method.

    Science can lend itself to theistic implications, but does not give us all of the knowledge we need to have to be able to say and know “there is a God.”

    I disagree. These are ships in the night. A theist sees theistic implications in everything, and there is in principle no scientific way to demonstrate otherwise. The statement “there is a god” cannot in principle rest on scientific knowledge.

    What I happen to believe is that the universe is natural, not supernatural. Therefore, everything that operates within the universe does so within the confines of nature’s laws; with very limited exceptions (those being when the deity acts above or before nature as in miracles and the universe’s genesis event).

    This strikes me as an inconsistent belief, kind of like saying “I believe gravity always operates, except when it doesn’t.” But current understandings, based on really countless experiments, is that gravity is not whimsical – it ALWAYS operates. “Miracles” are what I meant by a “dishonest universe” – a universe that is occasionally inconsistent, paradoxical, breaks its own laws. Science in such a world would not be possible. No exceptions can be permitted. So if you accept a natural universe, you must reinterpret apparent exceptions accordingly. Perhaps we’re dealing with figures of speech or some such.

    I’m quite open to the idea that what ID theorists call design was “front-loaded” first as a thought or plan and then into the very fabric of nature; such that we could have a very reasonable natural explanation for how complex biological systems arose; while still not limited to materialistic Darwinian explanations.

    Um, well, I would have no problem with the notion that the universe’s contents, forces, principles, etc. PERMIT the advent of life. Clearly this is the case. And given this, evolution as understood by biologists is a permissible and indeed observable ramification of these initial conditions. So from a scientific perspective, nothing non-material is required, nor observable in scientific terms. To the materialist, the need to superimpose an unnecessary theistic component onto a fully self-sufficient understanding is an aspect of psychology, not an aspect of the operation of the universe.

    But the other exception is when the deity acts above nature as in a miracle of history or in the here and now. Again, these would be very rare exceptions. I don’t believe I’ve ever witnessed anything that could be called a true miracle that did not at the same time have a natural explanation, but I don’t rule them out.

    I think we can take it as a tenet of the “faith of science” that such exceptions do not happen, because this would violate the presumption of the internal consistency of the universe. We’re back to saying “gravity fully explains the falling brick, but we can’t rule out intelligent pushing”.

    Good discussion, by the way. Thank you.

  74. “What does “Darwinism” mean in this context? I am interpreting it as the hypothesis that individual variations lead to differential breeding success, causing favorable variations to be more common in subsequent generations. Is this your understanding of “Darwinism”?”

    Yes, partly, but more like (or in addition) that undirected natural selection acting on random mutation (variation) is the process by which organisms evolve. I think you will find that while many of those who accept and/or posit Darwinian explanations will leave out the “undirected” part of the equation, “undirected” is implied. It is the “undirected” part that most ID theorists reject. There is no evidence that it is undirected, and in fact, the evidence is lacking in demonstrating any real example of that specific Darwinian process beyond the very limited and unremarkable examples of micro-evolution.

    “I don’t see why. I agree that if there is no god or gods, clearly the universe is doing fine without them. But your atheistic materialist then simply drops the issue as irrelevant, and goes about examining the universe to see how it works. And I would argue that if this materialist in his investigations encountered any god or gods, and was able to determine that (and how) they affect the universe in important ways, he’d be a fool not to include them in his explanation of how things work.”

    But the atheistic materialist is in effect moving the goalposts such that if there is a god or gods, his/their existence is entirely outside scientific enquiry. While I believe that the existence of a god or gods would be above scientific knowledge, if such a god or gods exist(s), he or they would touch on scientific evidence. Materialists believe that the scientific method excludes what they call “supernaturalism,” again, without defining what they mean by it other than labeling it as “magic.” Not only is that a category error, it’s telling of their a priori metaphysical commitments and not of their commitment to the scientific method. As such, they aren’t looking, and have not allowed themselves to look.

    “Granted, Darwin (and all other scientists) examine the data to extract conclusions from observation. They don’t deal with metaphysical assumptions, because within the scope of their research there is no real need to do so.”

    I absolutely disagree with this. First of all, they are not “extracting conclusions from observation” alone. If their metaphysical assumptions are driving their interpretation or research (which is quite legitimate in itself), then there is definitely a need to examine their metaphysical assumptions.

    “So I’m not quite sure what you’re saying here. Science makes the metaphysical assumptions that the universe is knowable, that it is consistent, that every aspect of it is ultimately understandable, and that it contains nothing “unnatural”, and thus lying beyond investigation.”

    David, science makes absolutely no metaphysical assumptions. Metaphysical assumptions (and even if it did, you would seem to have made a contradiction in your claim that metaphysical assumptions don’t need to be examined in science); but they come from someplace else beyond the science. It’s those metaphysical assumptions that allow us to do science in the first place. As such, they could not derive through science alone. We don’t get that the universe is knowable, consistent, understandable, etc… through science. These are all concepts that developed long before science developed to it’s current state. They stem from philosophy. Science may contribute to them and help them to evolve or to be substantiated, but science is not their generator.

    Me: “So I would argue that it most definitely makes a difference to the science if the conclusions of the scientist are based on his/her a priori metaphysical assumption and not on the raw data itself coupled with reasonable scientific methodology.”

    David: “By the very concept of science, this is backwards. You do not START by assuming your conclusions and then seek whatever supports them. You START with the raw data, from which you form testable hypotheses.”

    I don’t see how you derived that I said you start by assuming your conclusions. My very argument is that quite often materialists start with their conclusions; their a priori commitment to materialism, and then work backwards.

    “Science holds that while the universe can be endlessly subtle and devious, it is NEVER mendacious. Science works by observing SOME of what happens (half-truths), and trying to figure out what it means and where to look next. But the universe does not present falsehoods, only half-truths from our perspective, and whole truths as our perspective broadens. In this formulation, a god or gods would be regarded as whimsically introducing falsehoods, violations of the basic rules. If this DOES happen, science would have been fatally crippled from the start.”

    Science does not hold anything of the sort, David. Science is simply modeling, observation, testing and either confirming or revising the model in order to get a more refined idea of how things work. It does not tell us how the universe is supposed to behave. We interject our own preferred ways of looking at the universe to determine how it is supposed to behave. That is called metaphysics. While some metaphysical ideas are definitely informed by science and they may or may not be helpful for how we do science, but it isn’t the science itself that tells us. A great many theists would argue that the universe is knowable, consistent and understandable precisely because above and behind it all there is a reasonable creator. It is this belief – and it can be well argued and confirmed – that led to scientific methodology in the Western world in the first place. The reason such a creator would be beyond our finding out merely by science alone is not because he intentionally deviates from our finding out, but because we are limited by our finite abilities to find out.

    But I see that we’re getting quite beyond where we began. I would emphasize that you take Kuartus’ advice at 65 and read up on the Kalam. The kalam pretty much clarifies a lot of these issues; while I anticipate that there will still remain some disagreement, as well as some issues that are still not yet clarified.

  75. Neil,

    I have now read it. Sloppy meandering, loosely defined terms. Waste of my time. Word salad.

    It’s written not to illuminate, but to obscure and confound. Complexity as a weapon.

    A work of deception.

    Work of the devil, for which hell waits.

    It was nothing of the sort. The post included several understandable examples of information and its transfer, and highlighted four material observations that apply in each case. After explaining all four observations and succinctly summarizing them in a single paragraph, it then points out that information transfer in the genome requires those same four characteristics, following the same pattern as the previous examples.

    Read the comments. No one seemed to have a hard time following it.

    I would also like to see it addressed head-on, not sidestepped and then buried. Or if that’s too much, then to call attention to the evasion, as UB already has.

    I would like to see even the vaguest hypothetical idea of how any chemical processes possessing no forethought or intent can, in any order or employing any intermediate steps, can arrange molecules in sequences which are processed by an intermediate protocol which produces even a simple functional output, which in turn bears no resemblance to the arrangement used to produce them.

    To avoid moving the goalposts on “simple functional output,” let’s say that the only required functions are that the resulting construct is able to reproduce by replicating the original arrangement and withstand the disruptive effects of even the most hospitable environment.

    (UB, hopefully I’m not misrepresenting any of this. I don’t want to butcher it, just to re-request as response to it.)

    It would seem that for this to exist and self-perpetuate, multiple elements must co-exist simultaneously – the arrangement of matter as representation and the protocol. And that arrangement must be so specific as to have as its end result the replication of itself and protection for that process. Am I wrong to think that, missing any of one of these elements, no replication would ever occur? (One could substitute a perfectly hospitable, non-interfering environment for protection, if any such environment would permit the presence and interactions of necessary elements.)

    I said “co-exist,” referring to the present nature of life. Your argument (to help you out) must be that if all did not appear simultaneously, then there must be one or more intermediate steps, each able to exist and somehow be modified, without reproduction or intent, that somehow led to the current state.

    Once you have that, you can wave the magic wand of variation and selection. But what first magic wand do you wave to obtain the second?

  76. Scott,

    Way back, the daily appearance of the sun seemed like magic. Hence all those sun gods. Magic no longer needed.

    Snowflakes and sand dunes provide examples of apparently unguided novelty and complexity. (This is not a “proof” of anything, but it fairly informs my outlook.)

    Now, there are savants who can multiply 6 digit numbers in the blink of an eye. Seems like magic. I have “faith” that at some point neuroscientists are going to get a handle on it.

    If UB’s argument is the slam-dunk argument y’all are suggesting, it will surely in due time takes its high place alongside the laws of thermodynamics and the work of Shannon.

    But I only see it being hauled out to try to bludgeon opponent-visitors as was done with Larry Moran.

    And like LM, I have some idea when I don’t have the background to fairly assess a technical argument that relies on specialized language and concepts.

    There are info-theory and microbio guys and gals out there who are deeply immersed in their subjects, and I’m happy to let them battle things out.

    In the meantime, I don’t see much discussion of “entailed objects” and “representational arrangements” and “semiotic systems” and “physical protocols” over at the Disco Inst, nor even much substantial discussion right here.

    And I have noticed that the internet is a place that grows a lot of wannabe philosophers.

    And I believe the tactics of deception and obfuscation by your team are ubiquitous.

  77. Neil,

    Way back, the daily appearance of the sun seemed like magic. Hence all those sun gods. Magic no longer needed.

    ??? !!! ???

    If UB’s argument is the slam-dunk argument y’all are suggesting, it will surely in due time takes its high place alongside the laws of thermodynamics and the work of Shannon.

    That’s a whole lot of post for not addressing any of the arguments.

    And like LM, I have some idea when I don’t have the background to fairly assess a technical argument that relies on specialized language and concepts.

    He illustrated using a music box and the word “apple.” The wording is necessarily precise, but the the concepts are not all that technical.

  78. Neil at 76

    Way back, the daily appearance of the sun seemed like magic. Hence all those sun gods. Magic no longer needed.

    Neil, there is no need to appeal to a visualization of olden people’s misconceptions. Biological ID is not based upon what we do not know; it’s based upon what we’ve found out over the past century or so, particularly what has been discovered in the past 50-75 years.

    Snowflakes and sand dunes provide examples of apparently unguided novelty and complexity. (This is not a “proof” of anything, but it fairly informs my outlook.)

    As you already well recognize, neither of these are examples of anything substantive in the debate. One is based upon order, and the other randomness. What each lacks (which would be germane to some of the issues at hand) is specificity.

    Now, there are savants who can multiply 6 digit numbers in the blink of an eye. Seems like magic. I have “faith” that at some point neuroscientists are going to get a handle on it.

    I agree with you that neuroscientist will likely tell us much more tomorrow than they can tell us today, and certainly there are many extremely interesting and difficult issues surrounding human cognition, but I can assure you, no one here sees “magic” in these examples you’ve offered.

    If UB’s argument is the slam-dunk argument y’all are suggesting, it will surely in due time takes its high place alongside the laws of thermodynamics and the work of Shannon.

    I have not characterized it in those terms. The semiotic argument is an evidence-based piece of a puzzle. Its strength is tied to the fact that it’s entirely coherent with what is demonstrated and observed. If it can be characterized in such terms, then that characterization is only validated by the reaction it has evoked in others. Otherwise, those terms are likely useless.

    But I only see it being hauled out to try to bludgeon opponent-visitors as was done with Larry Moran.

    I am not entirely sure it is possible to bludgeon Dr Moran with anything, least of which is material evidence from an IDiot. If you are speaking here of me putting Dr Moran on display (as a scientist) repeatedly placing his personal ideology above the material evidence, then I agree with you. I intended to do just exactly that, and did so.

    And like LM, I have some idea when I don’t have the background to fairly assess a technical argument that relies on specialized language and concepts.

    Being natural born symbol-makers, as human beings are, the semiotic argument is hardly difficult to understand. The only difficulty, it seems, is getting some of the critics to remove themselves from the observations when they attempt to attack it.

    There are info-theory and microbio guys and gals out there who are deeply immersed in their subjects, and I’m happy to let them battle things out.

    You are probably selling yourself short here, even if reasonably so, but in any case there are also experts who will tell you that there is design evident is the artifacts of nature’s workings. One can simply believe Paul Meyers and Richard Dawkins, or they can believe Michael Denton and Michael Polanyi, or they can do the work to try and inform themselves as best they can. You have chosen for yourself whom to believe, but that choice does not need to include the institutional demonization and misrepresentation of those who have valid material evidence to the contrary. That is a purely political response, not a scientific one. After all, those who deny design cannot support that denial through empirical science (otherwise, we wouldn’t be having this conversation).

    In the meantime, I don’t see much discussion of “entailed objects” and “representational arrangements” and “semiotic systems” and “physical protocols” over at the Disco Inst, nor even much substantial discussion right here.

    The semiotic argument does not emanate from the Discovery Institute, so perhaps that explains it. As for seeing it here, it has been put in front of a range of qualified scientists who (ostensibly) would like to challenge its validity. None have been successful to date, so additional challenges are what is called for.

    And I have noticed that the internet is a place that grows a lot of wannabe philosophers.

    If I have stepped outside my ability to articulate a coherent argument, then that will be evident in the argument itself. If the data presented is incorrect, then someone should be able to point it out. So far, having been specifically presented to several specialists, with hundreds or perhaps thousands of others looking over their shoulders, that has not happened.

    And I believe the tactics of deception and obfuscation by your team are ubiquitous.

    I know you are directing that comment to Scott, but I can assure you, there is nothing deceptive in what was presented – and I willing to bet that you know it.

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