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Someone please send Barbara Forrest a thesaurus

Barbara Forrest responds to David DeWolf in The News Star.

Early in the article Forrest puts forth a false dichotomy which undermines all that follows. My emphasis:

DeWolf’s portrayal of ID as scientific is falsified by his defining it as involving the “actions of an intelligent agent as the cause of phenomena that natural processes are unlikely to produce.” If phenomena are not naturally caused, they are supernaturally caused. There is no other alternative.

Not only are there other alternatives but supernatural isn’t even an antonym for natural. If we go to a thesaurus and look up the word natural we find listed among the antonyms the words technological and artificial. Notably we do not find the word supernatural listed as an antonym.

Maybe Babs should spend more time improving her vocabulary and less time disproving the assertion that ID is science.

Of course there’s an alternative explanation here. Perhaps Forrest is well aware that natural/supernatural is a false dichotomy and she’s just an unapologetic liar. In fact that makes more sense as you usually can’t get a PhD without at least a college entrance-level vocabulary.

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222 Responses to Someone please send Barbara Forrest a thesaurus

  1. To Forrest, a thesaurus is just another type of dinosaur- most likely an ancestor of the birds.

    So don’t tell her it is a thesaurus that would only confuse her.

  2. Funny thing is, I would say that the ID community should ignore her due to the poor quality of her arguments but somehow she’s managed to get a position of authority.

  3. And while “Babs” is looking up the word natural in her thesaurus, she might also take the trouble to explain how it is she knows scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that it is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect where matter and energy can only be affected by chance and/or necessity. Perhaps she would be good enough to cite some research studies in the relevant scientific journals where this hypothesis is confirmed and also provide some suggestions as to how it might be falsified and what direction further research into this completely scientific question might go. And she (or any of her fellow anti-ID mavens) needs to do all this without introducing any philosophical, theological or mataphysical speculations into the discussion. How about Dr. Forrest…can you help us out here?

  4. “actions of an intelligent agent as the cause of phenomena that natural processes are unlikely to produce.” If phenomena are not naturally caused, they are supernaturally caused. There is no other alternative.

    And since when is “intelligent agent” a synonym for “supernatural”?

    I’m an intelligent agent. I guess that makes me The Leprechaun!!!!

  5. I would say that the ID community should ignore her due to the poor quality of her arguments

    No way!!!!

  6. Dave, the problem is that the term natural is often used in the ID debate in ways that clearly do not mean non-technological or non-artificial.

    For instance, when naturalism is decried, which it often is on this board and by Discovery fellows, obviously they aren’t referring to a philosophy that denies the existence of technology and artifacts.

  7. Davescot: So you’re saying you believe that there is no supernatural component to the human mind. That’s good, but I don’t think O’Leary is going to agree with you!

  8. So you’re saying you believe that there is no supernatural component to the human mind.

    BaaWAHAHAHAHAH

  9. “What’s another word for thesaurus?” – Steven Wright
    ;-)

  10. Dave, the problem is that the term natural is often used in the ID debate in ways that clearly do not mean non-technological or non-artificial.

    Natural, as IDists use the word, pertains to nature, operating freely. Meaning no agency involvement.

    For instance, when naturalism is decried, which it often is on this board and by Discovery fellows, obviously they aren’t referring to a philosophy that denies the existence of technology and artifacts.

    No just the philosphy that denies the fact that natural processes cannot account for the origin of nature because natural processes only exist in nature.

  11. 11

    Harville,

    What ID is saying is that input of intelligence is indicated by the actual evidence, but there is nothing in the actual evidence that points to anything acting outside of natural law.

    Therefore it would be incorrect for ID to follow the current paradigm by imagining things that are not infered by rational observation.

    Being the materialist I assume you are, I am certain that you will be pleased to see that someone is finally relying solely on the material evidence for their conclusions.

  12. Again, if we go to a dictionary for a definition of supernatural we find:

    1: of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe ; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil

    2 a: departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature b: attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit)

    Let’s apply this to the flagellum and ask when and where an ID proponent ever said that the design or construction of a flagellum requires transcending the laws of nature.

    Surely Babs knows none did and she surely knows the definition of supernatural. She uses the term solely to foster a false equivalency between ID and religion. That makes her a candidate for inclusion in a leftist version of the book Lies (And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them). A sequel named “Lies (And the Gullible Chumps Who Believe Them)” should include Judge John Jones who presided over the Kitzmiller trial where Forrest perjured herself on the witness stand.

  13. DaveScot @12

    . . . the Kitzmiller trial where Forrest perjured herself on the witness stand.

    This is the first I’ve heard of this. I followed the Kitzmiller trial while it was going on, but didn’t read the transcripts in any depth. How did she perjure herself?

    JJ

  14. Dave:

    Let’s apply this to the flagellum and ask when and where an ID proponent ever said that the design or construction of a flagellum requires transcending the laws of nature.

    I wouldn’t blame Forrest or anyone else for interpreting Dembski’s work as saying exactly that. For instance:

    The complexity-specification criterion demonstrates that design pervades cosmology and biology. Moreover, it is a transcendent design, not reducible to the physical world.

    And lest we interpret that as Dembski’s religious view:

    Demonstrating transcendent design in the universe is a scientific inference, not a philosophical speculation.

  15. DaveScot: Perhaps Forrest is well aware that natural/supernatural is a false dichotomy and she’s just an unapologetic liar.

    Or, maybe she’s been watching Christian TV, listening to Christian radio, or reading Christian books. This “false dichotomy” is ubiquitous in current religious thinking.

  16. riddick:

    Or, maybe she’s been watching Christian TV, listening to Christian radio, or reading Christian books. This “false dichotomy” is ubiquitous in current religious thinking.

    How is this comparison relevant?
    Its true that Christian theology holds that there is a supernatural realm that impinges upon the natural realm in many ways. However, it does not follow from that that the only alternative to ‘natural’ is ‘supernatural’, which is main point of Dave’s OP.

  17. Dave:

    Notably we do not find the word supernatural listed as an antonym.

    Unless we look up “supernatural” in the same thesaurus.

    Perhaps Forrest is well aware that natural/supernatural is a false dichotomy and she’s just an unapologetic liar.

    To say that natural/supernatural is a false dichotomy because natural has more than one meaning is to say that die/live is a false dichotomy because we can die shirts.

  18. 18

    R0b, any perceived dichotomy is irrelavent to ID, as has been explained ad nauseum, including by me in #11.

    Barbara Forrest was scoring points of her ideology, her comment has nothing to do with the material evidence, and nothing to do with ID.

    Bait, anyone?

  19. DonaldM: Its true that Christian theology holds that there is a supernatural realm that impinges upon the natural realm in many ways. However, it does not follow from that that the only alternative to ‘natural’ is ’supernatural’, which is main point of Dave’s OP.

    So, do I understand you correctly to say that it’s okay for a pastor to use this dichotomy, but it’s not okay for Barbara?

  20. 20

    So, do I understand you correctly to say that it’s okay for a pastor to use this dichotomy, but it’s not okay for Barbara?

    From the material evidence they make the same mistake……by the way, whose mistake has been used to set public policy and sought to be codified into law?

    Is it the one we seek (as a public) for our society’s understanding of material evidence, or the one we seek for the personal understanding of a spiritual existence?

  21. Most dictionary/thesaurus sites seem to include natural as the opposite of supernatural as one meaning of the word “natural”.

    What’s the antonym of supernatural? (Hint look it up in Encarta).

  22. My [21]. I should have read all the comments before commenting. I just saw half the world already said the same thing.

  23. 23

    Mark,

    Step back from the keyboard. Relax. Realize. There is no need to conduct a comparitive analysis of on-line dictionaries.

    The energy spent trying to lend support or justify Barbara Forrest’s perrenial attack on ID is wasted…Why?…because her point doesn’t matter (its not in the material evidence).

    The question quickly becomes: In order to prolong the debate, should we ignore the material evidence?

    If the answer is yes, then by all means continue.

  24. 24

    Mark #22 (I then retract my coment as well).

  25. FWIW, I agree that Forrest seems to be interpreting the term natural in a way that benefits her argument, but I think we’d have to see the context of DeWolf’s statement to know for sure that Forrest’s interpretation is not the natural one – pun intended. Unfortunately, DeWolf’s article doesn’t seem to be available online.

    I do find it ironic that Dave would make the strange claim that “supernatural isn’t even an antonym for natural” in the same post that he disparages Forrest’s vocabulary.

  26. Forrest is logically challenged but there is a perverse method to her madness.

    ID says that there are not two categories, but three, [A] intelligence, which is defined as a non-natural cause, [B] Law, which is defined as a natural cause, and [C] chance, which is defined as a natural cause. That means, of course, that either a human agent, a superhuman agent, or even a Divine agent can be a “non-natural” cause for an event. Thus, if innovation occurs, whether it comes from the mind of God, the mind of a superhuman, or from the mind of man, ID says that the patterns involved will be of a similar texture. It is those very patterns that help us to detect the presence of intelligence from any source at all, Divine or human, and to know that natural forces did not cause the event.

    Darwinists, however, would like to reframe the issue and change terms so that ID can no longer make its case. By displacing the three-part ID formulation (Law, Chance, Agency) with their own two-part dichotomy (natural-supernatural) they hope to radically divide intelligence, which in a singular non-natural category, into two categories, Divine, and human, thus placing the effects intelligence in radically different categories and rendering ID impossible. If the effects of Divine intelligence must be radically separated from the effects of superhuman or human intelligence, then there can be no way to measure all three with a common denominator and all ID paradigms are rendered useless.

    A Darwinist once tried to convince me that an ancient hunter’s spear emerged from “natural causes,” because, in his judgment the hunter was “in” nature, which is another way of saying that his “mind,” or at least his power of agency, is also “in” nature. If that were the case, then the mind (or agency power) could not alter nature because it is all part of that which is being altered by something else, namely, natural laws. If any designing agent is “in” nature, then it obviously cannot also be what it is defined to be, namely non-natural.

    That is why the proper categories should be listed as [A] Intelligence (Divine, superhuman, and human) [B] law, and [C] chance. The terms Supernatural and natural muddy the debate waters and forces ID to enter the debate having already conceded that non-material entities, if they exist are “supernatural” and that all material entities are natural. To concede that is to concede the debate before it begins. It means that the effects of Divine intelligence are defined as being radically different from the effects of human intelligence, which means, of course, that we are out of business because, under the circumstances we cannot measure the effects of both with the same method.

    So, the solution is simple. We should replace the word “supernatural” with the words “superhuman” or Divine. If we allow our adversaries to frame our issues and define our terms, we lose.

  27. Rob

    You need to get a dictionary yourself.

    You don’t die a shirt. You dye a shirt. What grade are you in, anyway?

    Everyone arguing with the thesaurus:

    Babs used the definition of natural in a biological context and its antonyms in that context are technological or artificial. She used supernatural in the only context it can be used in – religious or mystical. Its antonym in that sole context is thus natural. A take home lesson here is that that the antonyms of antonyms are not necessarily synonyms. Artificial and technological are not even close to synonymous with supernatural.

  28. DeWolf’s portrayal of ID as scientific is falsified by his defining it as involving the “actions of an intelligent agent as the cause of phenomena that natural processes are unlikely to produce.” If phenomena are not naturally caused, they are supernaturally caused. There is no other alternative.

    Perhaps there is an historian of science around who can give a better explanation but my understanding is that the concept of ‘naturalism’ traces its roots back to classical Greece. The idea was that everything has its ‘nature’, in other words, those intrinsic and distinguishing properties which make something itself and not something else. The belief was that by studying these natures we could come to understand how the world works. And these natures were not chaotic or random. They embodied law-like regularity which could be observed, studied, measured, tested, explained and predicted.

    On this understanding the scope of the natural world is vast. Anything which has a nature, from quantum fluctuations to God, is a part of it and can be studied, at least in principle. Most people think of things like ghosts or spirits as supernatural but, for a scientist, if they exist at all, they have a regular form which can be studied and understood. They may be, like the neutrino, very difficult to detect and observe but they are not ‘supernatural’ in that they do not stand outside that class of things which have a ‘nature’. The only limits to this natural world are our own, the boundaries of our powers of observation. There may be phenomena which we do not yet have the means to observe directly but, if they influence what we can observe then, given time, we should be able to detect that effect.

    Again, on this understanding, we can see what Barbara Forrest meant. Any intelligent agent has a ‘nature’ and is thus a part of the natural world and falls, at least in principle, within the domain of scientific study. Any means used by that agent to influence the world will be part of that same natural world and, again, are phenomena which can be studied by science. What DeWolf and others that refer to supernatural causes are trying to do is have their cake and eat it. They want to posit a cause that has a ‘nature’, that exists within and influences the natural world but is shielded from scientific scrutiny by being called “supernatural”. The problem is that “natural” and “supernatural” are not so much antonyms as discrete domains or sets or, to borrow a phrase, Non-Overlapping MagisteriA. There may, indeed, be supernatural phenomena or entities but they are of no relevance to us because they have absolutely nothing to do with this world.

  29. That means, of course, that either a human agent, a superhuman agent, or even a Divine agent can be a “non-natural” cause for an event.

    SB, but don’t forget the words she is being quoted as using:

    DeWolf’s portrayal of ID as scientific is falsified by his defining it as involving the “actions of an intelligent agent as the cause of phenomena that natural processes are unlikely to produce.” If phenomena are not naturally caused, they are supernaturally caused. There is no other alternative.

    If she is saying everything designed by an intelligent agent has a supernatural cause she has either joined our side at its edgiest or dived into the deep end without water being in the pool.

  30. re; Dembski’s use of transcendent design

    Again, if we look up the defintion of transcendent (from my handy dandy Princeton Wordweb online dictionary) we get:

    1. Exceeding or surpassing usual limits especially in excellence

    2. Beyond and outside the ordinary range of human experience or understanding

    Other definitions are religious in nature. Since Dembski clarified it was a non-religious context we can safely assume he meant one of the above. Also, since he mentioned cosmology along with biology in the former case transcendent is particularly apt. I doubt Dembski would argue that the flagellum is beyond human understanding. The human mind may transcend biology but I personally wouldn’t bet on it.

  31. Since ID offers no methodology to distinguish the technological or artificial from the divine or supernatural, this is a distinction without a difference. Forrest could have been more precise, but her criticism of the introduction of supernatural causes by ID is legitimate, if disputed.

    Does anyone here on the ID side really want to argue that intelligent design excludes the supernatural – e.g. an almighty creator? Does anyone here even think the designer (and by necessity the creator) is anything other than the God of Abraham?

    If evolution actually didn’t happen, it isn’t even necessary to resort to the design hypothesis. Either evolution can be falsified within the strictures of methodological naturalism, or it can be exposed as an unscientific – i.e. unfalsifiable – hypothesis. And if you claim that intelligent design actually does demonstrate a creative intelligence naturalistically — you’ve actually falsified Christianity!

    I’m appealing directly to intelligent design’s Christian supporters: watch Uncommon Descent’s equivocation carefully – like the faith healers and televangelists that have exploited your good will in the past, intelligent design cannot produce the goods they’ve offered for sale.

  32. Dave:

    You need to get a dictionary yourself.

    You don’t die a shirt. You dye a shirt. What grade are you in, anyway?

    Touche’. I’m sure my “die” flub left my face a lot redder than your “supernatural isn’t even an antonym for natural” left yours. You win hands down.

    Babs used the definition of natural in a biological context and its antonyms in that context are technological or artificial.

    Actually, she was simply talking about “phenomena” when she used the term. I don’t see anywhere that she used it in a biological context.

    re; Dembski’s use of transcendent design

    Fortunately, we don’t need to ask Webster what Dembski meant, since Dembski himself clarified it nicely. He also made it clear that transcendent design applies to both cosmological and biological specified complexity, and we know that the flagellum falls in the latter category. Dembski:

    The complexity-specification criterion demonstrates that design pervades cosmology and biology. Moreover, it is a transcendent design, not reducible to the physical world.

    When applied to the fine-tuning of the universe and the complex, information-rich structures of biology, it demonstrates a design external to the universe. In other words, the complexity-specification criterion demonstrates transcendent design.

    (Emphasis mine)

    Quotes aside, I realize that ID proponents eschew the term supernatural, but some people may see ID’s characterization of design and intelligence (irreducible to chance and necessity, immaterial) as falling under that category.

  33. Since ID offers no methodology to distinguish the technological or artificial from the divine or supernatural, this is a distinction without a difference. Forrest could have been more precise, but her criticism of the introduction of supernatural causes by ID is legitimate, if disputed.

    Imagine for a moment that these kind of questions had been answered a thousand times over.

  34. Does anyone here on the ID side really want to argue that intelligent design excludes the supernatural – e.g. an almighty creator? Does anyone here even think the designer (and by necessity the creator) is anything other than the God of Abraham?

    I’d be happy to.

    ..you go first.

  35. Does anyone here on the ID side really want to argue that intelligent design excludes the supernatural – e.g. an almighty creator?

    Does anyone here think that natural processes can account for the ORIGIN of nature seeing that natural processes only exist in nature?

    Does anyone here even think the designer (and by necessity the creator) is anything other than the God of Abraham?

    Me.

    If evolution actually didn’t happen, it isn’t even necessary to resort to the design hypothesis.

    But ID is NOT anti-evolution.

    The debate is about the MECHANISMS.

    And if you claim that intelligent design actually does demonstrate a creative intelligence naturalistically — you’ve actually falsified Christianity!

    Just stating something does NOT make it so.

  36. Seversky (#28),

    Perhaps you could clarify:

    Again, on this understanding, we can see what Barbara Forrest meant. Any intelligent agent has a ‘nature’ and is thus a part of the natural world and falls, at least in principle, within the domain of scientific study.

    Is it your contention that since presumably God has what the classical Greeks would call a nature, that God is thus a part of the natural world and falls within the domain of scientific study? Or do you contend that God does not exist, and that therefore any nature of God is purely hypothetical? Or does God not qualify as an intelligent agent? Which of those alternatives would you attribute to Dr. Forrest?

    tribune7 (#29)

    I agree with you. Let’s look at that quote again:

    DeWolf’s portrayal of ID as scientific is falsified by his defining it as involving the “actions of an intelligent agent as the cause of phenomena that natural processes are unlikely to produce.” If phenomena are not naturally caused, they are supernaturally caused. There is no other alternative.

    DeWolf apparently is contrasting an intelligent agent with natural causes. Forrest is saying that the proper contrast to natural causes is supernatural causes. That means that humans must be supernatural, as they obviously have intelligence. Somehow, I don’t think she quite meant that.

  37. Paul Glen @36

    DeWolf apparently is contrasting an intelligent agent with natural causes. Forrest is saying that the proper contrast to natural causes is supernatural causes. That means that humans must be supernatural, as they obviously have intelligence. Somehow, I don’t think she quite meant that.

    My reading of Forrest’s words, being as generous in interpretation as possible, is that humans are natural causes. By this reasoning, intelligent human causes are not qualitatively different from unintelligent natural phenomena but the intelligent agent posited by ID theory is not natural.

    The two possible responses to this are to show that human intelligence is not explainable by natural mechanisms or to show that the intelligent agent of ID theory is so explainable.

    JJ

  38. After reading some of the comments, it is evident that Barbara Forrest is not the only ID critic who has trouble reasoning in the abstract.

  39. StephenB @38

    After reading some of the comments, it is evident that Barbara Forrest is not the only ID critic who has trouble reasoning in the abstract.

    I make a point of reading your posts because they generally make me think, but this is just gratuitously insulting to the other participants, with no support for your claims.

    We should be welcoming disagreement — it shows that people are taking our arguments seriously.

    JJ

  40. —-seversky: “Again, on this understanding, we can see what Barbara Forrest meant. Any intelligent agent has a ‘nature’ and is thus a part of the natural world and falls, at least in principle, within the domain of scientific study.”

    I gather, then, that you think that “having” a nature is synonymous to being “in” nature. Here is a quick tip: The two formulations are not even being close to the same thing.

    In any case, let’s get to the bottom line. Are you prepared to argue that the same forces that form mountains and streams also designed the paragraph that you just wrote. According to Barbara Forrest, they both occurred “in” nature, so they can both be explained by the same cause. Since that is her argument, I assume that is also your argument.

  41. —-JayM: “I make a point of reading your posts because they generally make me think, but this is just gratuitously insulting to the other participants, with no support for your claims.”

    OK, I’ll try to behave with a bit more judicious restraint. Perhaps the most diplomatic approach would be to begin with a couple of questions:

    [A] I “have” a Canon printer. Do you think that I am also “in” it?

    [B] I once made a sand castle. Barbara Forrest tells me that this act occurred “in” nature. Under the circumstances, do you think that the same forces that formed the beach also caused the sand castle?

  42. Daveb –Does anyone here on the ID side really want to argue that intelligent design excludes the supernatural – e.g. an almighty creator?

    Dave, I’m waiting for someone on the ID’s-not-science-because-it-won’t -address-the-cause side, to explain why Big Bang Theory or thermodynamics is not science because they don’t excludes the supernatural with regard to cause.

    Neither theory nor laws, of course, invoke the supernatural. They merely describe traits of observed events.

    But Big Bang Theory does not say what caused it and thermodynamics does not say what caused energy and matter to come into being, just as ID does not say what caused DNA and proteins to come about.

    So, if ID is not science because it avoids addressing cause, then neither is the conservation of energy.

  43. ROb

    Forrest claimed there is no alternative to “natural” other than “supernatural”. Do you at least agree that statement is false because there are indeed alternatives like “technological” and “artificial”? If you don’t agree to at least that much then we have no common ground for further discussion.

    Your quotes from Dembski are 11 years old and the presentation was about the act of creation. His position was that creativity is transcendent. That is an open question which I acknowledged earlier. ID is about design detection. It distinguishes between what can be reasonably produced by law & chance and what is better explained by the action of an intelligent agency. It is not about the nature of the intelligent agency itself. That’s not to say various ID proponents don’t have opinions about the nature of the agency but those are personal views. We can sometimes infer minimal capabilities of the agency from the designed object. Design and construction of a bow and arrow requires some set of skills and abilities. Design and construction of a flagellum requires substantially different skills and abilities although it doesn’t appear to be beyond conceivable human technology. I’ve asked many times what exactly about living things requires a designer to violate the laws of physics (i.e. supernatural agency). The only answer I get, which is vague and arguable, is the human mind. If we restrict the discussion to prokaryotes there is nothing that’s been pointed out to me. If we ask about cosmological ID – the fine tuning of the physical laws of the universe – then we run into a brick wall as we have no concept of what kind of skills and abilities are required to design and construct a universe and the laws that govern it. That, at least at this point in time, appears as transcendent.

  44. JayM (#37),

    It’s almost like Forrest is, and you are, deliberately being dense. Forrest is refusing to recognize the qualitative difference between humans and non-living natural causes. StephenB (#41) asked if a sand castle on a beach was created by wind, waves, and other unintelligent forces. What’s so hard about answering “No”? What’s so hard about allowing DeWolf to point out the contrast between intelligent and unintelligent natural forces and their abilities, without constantly asking whether the intelligent force is supernatural? This smacks of spin control.

    You say,

    My reading of Forrest’s words, being as generous in interpretation as possible, is that humans are natural causes. By this reasoning, intelligent human causes are not qualitatively different from unintelligent natural phenomena but the intelligent agent posited by ID theory is not natural.

    The two possible responses to this are to show that human intelligence is not explainable by natural mechanisms or to show that the intelligent agent of ID theory is so explainable.

    But it is plain then that this reasoning is extremely faulty. For intelligent human causes are qualitatively different from unintelligent natural phenomena. To refuse to admit this is to say that all of archaeology is bunk. For the pottery we find in mounds could just as easily be caused by “unintelligent natural phenomena.”

    You will note that this response is not either of “the two possible responses”. Are you so imaginatively challenged that you could not anticipate this response? Or were you just hoping that your spin control would make us overlook the obvious response?

  45. StephenB @41

    I once made a sand castle. Barbara Forrest tells me that this act occurred “in” nature. Under the circumstances, do you think that the same forces that formed the beach also caused the sand castle?

    Isn’t this, broadly speaking, the point of contention between ID proponents and methodological naturalists?

    I won’t presume to speak for Forrest, but I suspect that her position is that human intelligence is a natural phenomena, just as are the waves that formed the beach. With respect to the Forrest quote that anchors this thread, I believe she is distinguishing between human intelligence, which we can observe, and the intelligence postulated by ID theory that many ID proponents claim is the Christian God.

    (Yes, I know that isn’t part of ID theory. It is a common perception, though, because of those claims.)

    JJ

  46. Paul Glem @44

    My reading of Forrest’s words, being as generous in interpretation as possible, is that humans are natural causes. By this reasoning, intelligent human causes are not qualitatively different from unintelligent natural phenomena but the intelligent agent posited by ID theory is not natural.

    The two possible responses to this are to show that human intelligence is not explainable by natural mechanisms or to show that the intelligent agent of ID theory is so explainable.

    But it is plain then that this reasoning is extremely faulty. For intelligent human causes are qualitatively different from unintelligent natural phenomena. To refuse to admit this is to say that all of archaeology is bunk. For the pottery we find in mounds could just as easily be caused by “unintelligent natural phenomena.”

    That conclusion doesn’t follow from your premises. Not all natural causes have the same effects. If human intelligence is natural, that doesn’t mean that the results of actions by that intelligence will be indistinguishable from other natural events, any more than the result of tidal forces from the Moon is the same as the result of plate tectonics or any more than either are similar to the result of temperatures dropping below the freezing point of water. Waves, earthquakes, and snow are the result of natural causes, but those causes are distinguishable.

    If human intelligence is a natural phenomena, which appears to be Forrest’s view, it’s effects can be equally distinguishable.

    We can’t simply assert that human intelligence is qualitatively different from natural forces, we must demonstrate it. That involves demonstrating that we are unique, possessed of some transcendent quality, which strays close to the line of theology.

    JJ

  47. Since ID offers no methodology to distinguish the technological or artificial from the divine or supernatural, this is a distinction without a difference. Forrest could have been more precise, but her criticism of the introduction of supernatural causes by ID is legitimate, if disputed.

    ID does not offer a methodology to make this distinction because nothing in science offers a methodology to make this distinction. ID does not introduce supernatural causes. Neither does it exclude them. ID is not the study of the cause of design. It is the study of the difference between artifacts and accidents.

  48. And if we follow all the scientific data and observations back to a supernatural agent, so what?

    Do we then have to deny’s its existence because it won’t submit to our poking and prodding?

    Science is a tool to help us gather knowledge to figure out the reality behind what it is we are observing and questioning.

    “How did it come to be this way?” is one of the main questions science asks.

    IDists then ask “By design or not?”

    Determine that first and then set out to find the other answers to the questions raised by that inference.

  49. JayM: I asked, “Under the circumstances, do you think that the same forces that formed the beach also designed my sand castle?”

    —-You wrote, “I won’t presume to speak for Forrest, but I suspect that her position is that human intelligence is a natural phenomena, just as are the waves that formed the beach.”

    I was hoping that you would respond to these two questions: Do you think that there is any qualitative difference between the cause of the formation of the beach and the cause of formation of my sand castle?

    If you saw a sand castle on the beach, how would you explain its existence? (Assume that it is five stories tall, contains three garages [each of which shelters a sport car], and tops out with a perfectly shaped dome.

  50. Riddick

    So, do I understand you correctly to say that it’s okay for a pastor to use this dichotomy, but it’s not okay for Barbara?

    Yes..because, as Dave S has already pointed out, the only antonym for supernatural is natural, but supernatural is not the only only antonym for natural. As Dave said, antonyms of antonyms are not necessarily synonyms. Forrest clearly uses the term “natrual” in a scientific context, so we need to look for its antonyms there…instead she sets up the false dichomoty with religion we’ve been discussing in this thread.

  51. Dave:

    Forrest claimed there is no alternative to “natural” other than “supernatural”. Do you at least agree that statement is false because there are indeed alternatives like “technological” and “artificial”?

    Certainly, in the sense that each usage of the term natural has its own complement.

    I’ve asked many times what exactly about living things requires a designer to violate the laws of physics (i.e. supernatural agency). The only answer I get, which is vague and arguable, is the human mind.

    Of course we’re on the same page here. But Dembski’s method of design detection hinges on the assumption that design is not reducible to chance and necessity. Doesn’t that put design outside the laws of physics?

  52. DonaldM
    Yes..because, as Dave S has already pointed out, the only antonym for supernatural is natural, but supernatural is not the only only antonym for natural. As Dave said, antonyms of antonyms are not necessarily synonyms. Forrest clearly uses the term “natrual” in a scientific context, so we need to look for its antonyms there…instead she sets up the false dichomoty with religion we’ve been discussing in this thread.

    Well. Then please tell me whether John Morris uses the dichotomy in an acceptable fashion. Is he speaking in the following essay merely as a Christian teacher or as a scientist?

    http://www.icr.org/index.php?m.....038;ID=352

    I’ll freely admit that perhaps I completely misread Dembski’s argument concerning the S-word in Chapter 25 of his The Design Revolution. Please enlighten me.

  53. ROb

    Your computer is designed. It has specified complexity. Does that put it outside the laws of nature?

  54. Dave, yes my computer is designed, it operates according to the laws of nature, and I don’t see any scientific reason to think that the design process operates outside the laws of nature either.

    So if the design process is reducible to the laws of physics, doesn’t that mean that it’s reducible to chance and necessity?

  55. Paul Giem @ 36

    Is it your contention that since presumably God has what the classical Greeks would call a nature, that God is thus a part of the natural world and falls within the domain of scientific study? Or do you contend that God does not exist, and that therefore any nature of God is purely hypothetical? Or does God not qualify as an intelligent agent? Which of those alternatives would you attribute to Dr. Forrest?

    I would contend that, if God exists, He has a nature, is thus a part of the natural world and consequently falls within the domain of science.

    In fact, when I looked up the entry on “supernatural” in Wikipedia, I found this entry which comes pretty close to what I believe:

    This is a view largely held by monists and process theorists. According to this view, the “supernatural” is just a term for parts of nature that modern science and philosophy do not yet properly understand, similar to how sound and lightning used to be mysterious forces to science. Materialist monists believe that the “supernatural” consists of things in the physical universe not yet understood by modern science, while idealist monists reject the concept of “supernatural” on the grounds that they believe “nature” is the non-material. Neutral monists maintain that “nature” and “supernature” are artificial categories as they believe that the material and non-material are both either equally real and simultaneously existent, or illusions that stem from the human mind’s interpretation of reality.

    I haven’t decided whether I’m a material or a neutral monist yet, though.

  56. StephenB @ 40

    I gather, then, that you think that “having” a nature is synonymous to being “in” nature. Here is a quick tip: The two formulations are not even being close to the same thing.

    The Greeks believed that the world could be investigated and understood by studying the natures of things. On that basis the world of natures is the same as the natural world.

    The problem is that, as this discussion shows, one word can have many meanings and these meanings can drift over time. There is no one ‘right’ meaning. All that is required is that, when we use a word, we try to be clear about which meaning we intend and that we use it consistently.

    In any case, let’s get to the bottom line. Are you prepared to argue that the same forces that form mountains and streams also designed the paragraph that you just wrote. According to Barbara Forrest, they both occurred “in” nature, so they can both be explained by the same cause. Since that is her argument, I assume that is also your argument.

    I would say that the forces that formed mountains and streams and the forces that formed the people who contribute to these blogs are part and parcel of the one natural world. What the original cause of all that was I have no idea.

  57. —-Seversky: “I would say that the forces that formed mountains and streams and the forces that formed the people who contribute to these blogs are part and parcel of the one natural world. What the original cause of all that was I have no idea.”

    Ah, but what about the immediate design of the written paragraph.

  58. Dave, yes my computer is designed, it operates according to the laws of nature, and I don’t see any scientific reason to think that the design process operates outside the laws of nature either.

    The laws of nature programmed your computer?

    I doubt that.

    Ya see computers operate according to their design and the programs they can run.

    And the design process does not operate outside the laws of nature.

    If the design was implemented before nature existed then there was nothing to be outside of.

    And all designs implemented after obey those laws.

    So if the design process is reducible to the laws of physics, doesn’t that mean that it’s reducible to chance and necessity?

    But the design process is not reducible to the laws of nature.

    Those laws can only constrain the design.

  59. StephenB @49

    I was hoping that you would respond to these two questions: Do you think that there is any qualitative difference between the cause of the formation of the beach and the cause of formation of my sand castle?

    There is certainly a quantitative difference in the level of complexity of both the creation process and the result. By this I mean Kolmogorov complexity. Whether or not there is a qualitative difference is the exact issue under dispute. If, as methodological naturalists assume, humans are the result of billions of years of evolution through purely mechanistic, “natural” processes and, further, that human intelligence is simply an emergent phenomena arising from our complex but natural physical brains, then in that sense there is no qualitative difference between the two. Both are the result of causes that can be explained in purely mechanistic terms.

    If we want to claim that there is a qualitative difference, we must provide an objective way to measure or specify that difference and demonstrate that intelligence meets that criteria. We can’t simply beg the question.

    If you saw a sand castle on the beach, how would you explain its existence? (Assume that it is five stories tall, contains three garages [each of which shelters a sport car], and tops out with a perfectly shaped dome.

    I’d explain it by recognizing that even six-year-olds are better at building sand castles than I am.

    JJ

  60. Joseph @58

    So if the design process is reducible to the laws of physics, doesn’t that mean that it’s reducible to chance and necessity?

    But the design process is not reducible to the laws of nature.

    Why not? I am sympathetic to your view, which makes me want to see it supported all the more. Unfortunately, I have yet to see such support.

    If we take the methodological naturalist point of view, humans are the result of billions of years of evolution via purely natural processes. Intelligence is simply a result of having a complex, physical brain with many interconnections. Thought is purely chemical and electrical in nature.

    Unless we can show that those natural physical processes cannot account for intelligence, claiming that “the design process is not reducible to the laws of nature” is an empty assertion.

    JJ

  61. If we take the methodological naturalist point of view, humans are the result of billions of years of evolution via purely natural processes.

    That PoV is not based on science.

    So why should I care about it?

    IOW claiming that design is reducible to law and chance is an empty assertion.

    As I said we have tried and true techniques for determining design or not.

    We have a word “artifact” tta is used to differentiate between designed and not designed.

    So perhaps we shpuld get rid of that word as well as archaeology.

    No more murder because all deaths are natural.

    If someone can demonstrate the power of non-telic processes- that is demonstrate non-telic processes can account for CSI then you would have a point.

    Until then all you/ they have are empty assertions.

  62. And if a scientist goes into a lab and designs a flagellum, would that “prove” ID?

    Science has demonstrated that only life begets life.

    Why doesn’t THAT count against MN?

  63. JayM,

    “Unless we can show that those natural physical processes cannot account for intelligence, claiming that ‘the design process is not reducible to the laws of nature’ is an empty assertion.”

    Even if you believe that intelligence IS reducible to the laws of nature, it still constitutes a unique phenomenon. Or should we say that NOTHING exists except laws and fundamental particles? Clearly, this is problematic.

    Whether intelligence is reducible to natural law, is a stand-alone property, or is an emergent property, it *exists*. If we know it exists, we must be able to observe it. And if we can observe it, we can study it.

    All of this blather about where it comes from is beside the point.

  64. Joseph @61

    If we take the methodological naturalist point of view, humans are the result of billions of years of evolution via purely natural processes.

    That PoV is not based on science.

    That point of view is a common definition of part of the scientific method. See the National Academy of Sciences and other similar mainstream organizations if you don’t believe me.

    IOW claiming that design is reducible to law and chance is an empty assertion.

    So is claiming that design is not reducible to law and chance. We need evidence.

    As I said we have tried and true techniques for determining design or not.
    . . .
    If someone can demonstrate the power of non-telic processes- that is demonstrate non-telic processes can account for CSI then you would have a point.

    It’s not my point, I’m trying to present the methodological naturalist point of view fairly so that we can address it directly.

    I have yet to see a calculation of CSI for a real world biological organism or component such as the bacterial flagella. Until one is provided, the claim that CSI is too vague to be useful in the detection of design is pretty strong. Do you have such a demonstration?

    JJ

  65. QuadFather @63
    (Love the nym, by the way.)

    Unless we can show that those natural physical processes cannot account for intelligence, claiming that ‘the design process is not reducible to the laws of nature’ is an empty assertion.

    Even if you believe that intelligence IS reducible to the laws of nature, it still constitutes a unique phenomenon. Or should we say that NOTHING exists except laws and fundamental particles? Clearly, this is problematic.

    Whether intelligence is reducible to natural law, is a stand-alone property, or is an emergent property, it *exists*. If we know it exists, we must be able to observe it. And if we can observe it, we can study it.

    I agree completely. However, if intelligence is reducible to natural law then it is not qualitatively different than other results of natural law, in the sense of being above, beyond, or transcendent to nature. If natural processes can produce something as complex as intelligence, why shouldn’t they be able to produce something as complex as the bacterial flagellum?

    JJ

  66. That PoV may be part of some definition, but it is NOT based on science.

    Now if someone wants to claim that my car is reducible to law and chance, let them have at it.

    It is mainstream science tat has provided us with the tried-n-true design detection techniques.

    Now people cry “foul” when they are applied equally across the board.

    And what about those “laws”? Are they also reducible to “law and chance”?

    The BEST explanation “they” have is “they just are (the way they are)” Hawking in “A Briefer History of Time”.

    But you are right, if nature, operating freely, can produce a living organism from non-living matter, then the bacterial flagellum is off the table by BEHE’s criteria.

  67. As R0b(17) points out, natural is the antonym of supernatural in the Encarta thesaurus DaveScot evidently regards as definitive. Anybody who knows anything about thesauri knows that they serve to lead a writer to words that have a meaning s/he already has in mind.

    Thesauri do not presume to define, but dictionaries do. And to get an idea of the latitude in dictionary definition, go to the Dictionary.com entry for supernatural, which includes definitions from multiple dictionaries.

    Anyone who knows anything about research into natural language processing by computers knows that when machinable dictionaries first became available, AI programs immediately discovered that they were full of circularity and inconsistency.

    The distinction of natural and non-natural (synonymous with supernatural in one of its senses) in the ID literature goes back to Phillip Johnson, IIRC. I can cite chapter and verse in the case of Bill Dembski. The fact that ID writers have avoided the religious connotation of supernatural does not mean that Forrest is incorrect in her use of the term.

    Anyone who regards a dictionary, let alone a thesaurus, as authoritative has not outgrown grammar-school indoctrination. What is truly remarkable here is the psychology of putative “question authority” types who in fact love to appeal to the “proper” authorities.

  68. Principled (not Rhetorical) Reasons Why ID Doesn’t Identify the Designer (Part 1):

    ID Does Not “Require Supernatural Causation”
    ID as a scientific theory does not attempt to address religious questions about the identity or metaphysical nature of the designer. This has been the consistent view of ID proponents for the last two decades, and Judge Jones was presented with extensive documentation of this fact in amicus briefs filed by the Discovery Institute and FTE, which the text of his opinion seemed to have ignored. Judge Jones also ignored—or misinterpreted—key passages from the Pandas textbook that addressed this issue. For example, the published version of Pandas used in Dover schools explained that ID merely seeks to infer “intelligent causes” and is compatible with a wide variety of religious viewpoints, including pantheism and agnosticism:

    The idea that life had an intelligent source is hardly unique to Christian fundamentalism. Advocates of design have included not only Christians and other religious theists, but pantheists, Greek and Enlightenment philosophers and now include many modern scientists who describe themselves as religiously agnostic. Moreover, the concept of design implies absolutely nothing about beliefs normally associated with Christian fundamentalism, such as a young earth, a global flood, or even the existence of the Christian God. All it implies is that life had an intelligent source.

    That said Forrest claims that the ONLY alternative to “natural” is “supernatural”.

    That has been proven to be false.

    And yes, dictionaries are an authority when it comes to defining words. THAT is their purpose.

    Without that authority communication would be pretty complicated.

    So those who disregard the authority of dictionaries don’t have a clue when it comes to communication. And that disregard is a sure sign of deception.

  69. JayM [65],

    Ah, I think we may be getting somewhere.

    It seems to me that there is a disconnect between your premise (intelligence is reducible to natural law) and your conclusion (intelligence is not qualitatively different from other results of natural law).

    In the first place, how does it follow that all effects resulting from a common cause are qualitatively identical? As a kid, I used to play with K’Nex and with Legos. Are you telling me that the rubber band gun I made with K’Nex is qualitatively identical to the castle I made with Legos? That these are qualitatively identical to the PB&J sandwhich I made for lunch? To the spreadsheet that I compiled for work? Are you really saying that none of these things are qualitatively different from each other, simply because *I* am the common cause of them all?

    I think it’s important to remember that transcendence is not a necessary property of intelligence. I do not believe that my intelligence transcends nature or natural law, but I *still* maintain that I can create things that nature cannot without my intelligent assistance. It is true that natural law simultaneously constrains and makes possible my ability to create, but my intelligence is *required* for certain things nonetheless. Otherwise, my company could save a lot of money by relying on, say, wind (creative)power rather than hiring me to validate their data.

    It also seems that you are caught up on complexity (very common), but the issue is much more about relating what we observe with our prior knowledge about what effects are uniquely the product of intelligent activity. Is it not true that *SIMPLE* elements, that do NOT occur naturally, are produced by scientists in laboratories? You see, it really has EVERYTHING to do with our knowledge about the unique products of intelligent activity – complexity be darned!

    Now, just because something relies upon a medium does not mean that this medium has the ability to produce it. I record data to a jump drive, but the jump drive cannot produce the data itself. Here, I am acknowledging that the medium of intelligence may very well be matter and natural law – But that does not qualify as an explanation for the existence of intelligence. To explain an effect, you need prior experience with a cause – Knowledge of how an effect is sustained once it appears does NOT count.

    Thus, we do NOT have an explanation for the origin of intelligence, even conceding, for the sake of argument, the premise that intelligence is reducible to nature.

    A probable point of confusion is the jump in logic you made between your premise that [intelligence is reducible to natural] and your conclusion that [intelligence is the *result* of natural law]. Just because I accept that intelligence is reducible to natural law does not mean I accept that intelligence is the *product* of natural law (for reasons just stated). In order to say that the flagellum can be the product of natural law on grounds that intelligence is the product of natural law, you would have to move beyond saying that intelligence requires a medium, which is ALL we have established thus far.

    The origin of intelligence remains completely unresolved, and thus the origin of “similarly complex” phenomena also remains unresolved – not that complexity even matters in the first place! :-p

    Now, why couldn’t intelligence be a fundamental property of nature? Or, why couldn’t intelligence have always existed, just as matter, energy, laws, or the multiverse – or whatever materialistic notion of historical reality – has always existed?

    Bah, I digress …

    The important point is: Intelligence is a REAL phenomenon that can be studied and quantified.

    Just because intelligence relies on the same matter and laws as the keyboard I’m typing on does not mean that intelligence cannot affect my keyboard in unique and quantifiable ways. Am I to believe that I cannot study the difference between the effects of bathing my hands in hand sanitizer and bathing my hands in mud, simply because these things rely on the same natural laws?

    Of course not.

    Thus, we can study the effects of intelligence, regardless of whether or not it is reducible to nature.

    Natural or supernatural – it matters not. Intelligent design cannot be categorically excluded from science.

  70. BTW JayM,

    “No Fee Lunch” has that demonstration you are asking for- starting on page 292.

  71. However, if intelligence is reducible to natural law then it is not qualitatively different than other results of natural law, in the sense of being above, beyond, or transcendent to nature.

    Once again, ID is about EVIDENCE, not debating definitions (see Popper).

    A rational interpretation of the EVIDENCE shows that an input of organization at the nucleic level is a virtual necessity, and is (far and away) the explanation of living tissue that carries the greatest parsimony with all other evidence on the matter.

    Further, it is fully supported by associated biological evidence, the fossil record, qualitative data, and even those crazy human experiences such as noticing that specified functionality has never been recorded coming from anything but an act of volitional agency, intelligence, and foresight. And the good just keep on coming – ID fits perfectly with genetics, embryology, physics, cosmology, and even Charles Darwin’s special Theory of Evolution.

    So what is not being addressed?

    1) Natural Law did not create Joseph’s car, even if Joeseph’s car was created within Natural Law

    2) Quad’s separate phenomenon is natural, yet seperate at the same time.

    3) ID is only about evidence

    “Never let yourself be goaded into taking seriously, problems about words and their meanings. What must be taken seriously are questions of fact, and assertions about facts: theories and hypotheses; the problems they solve and the problems they raise“
    - Karl Popper

  72. Natural or supernatural – it matters not. Intelligent design cannot be categorically excluded from science.

    And yet it is and here we are…

  73. Sal Gal,

    I think the problem is that “supernatural” cannot be defined in a way that is not identical to “natural” or “intelligent”. The ONLY unique thing that it has to offer is the stigma of witches and ghouls.

    I strongly suspect that Barbara Forrest chose the word “supernatural” for the STIGMA rather than as a synonym for “intelligent” or as a mode of natural processes.

  74. Joseph,

    It cannot JUSTIFIABLY be categorically excluded, then. ;-)

  75. Upright BiPed [71],

    Exactly, and I think this is the point I’m ultimately trying to get at:

    All of this talk about all of these poorly defined terms is patently absurd.

    We should instead invest our energies into what it plainly before our eyes: That intelligent activity is a REAL phenomenon that causes UNIQUE effects, and as such can be observed, studied, quantified, and inferred.

    Period.

  76. Seversky (#55),

    I agree with you. If God exists, then He does at least partly fall within the domain of science, if science is suitably defined. BTW, that would seem to rule out a God Who works undetectably, as TE would have it.

    I rather think Barbara Forrest would agree. Given that she is an atheist, she would probably simply go with the option that God is not detectable because He does not exist.

    I think that there are evidences for intelligence before human intelligence, which makes me an ID adherent. I think this intelligence point strongly towards a God, which makes me a theist (okay, a theist-leaning agnostic, but for practical purposes a theist). This is true even though, in the case of life, we cannot be certain that the intelligence that created life is in fact God. Thus, the origin of life on earth could be natural in the sense of not requiring the direct action of God, while nature in the sense of physical reality could still point to something outside itself. But your definition of nature is simply all-inclusive.

    JayM (#46),

    I’ll try it one more time. Try not to get hung up on the word “qualitatively”. Humans make things that are not found in nature without humans, things like airplanes, automobiles, and computers. Humans can also make rounded stones indistinguishable from those made by nature without humans. This is true whether humans are deterministic machines or not.

    Furthermore, there are other entities that have a similar, although arguably lesser, ability, again whether they are deterministic or not. For example, beavers build dams, and birds build nests. If we come across a log dam, we may not be able to be certain whether it was created by beavers or humans, but we can be certain that it was not created by a tornado.

    To extend further, if we visit a planet orbiting Proctyon and come across an automobile, and turn a switch (with or without a key) and it starts an engine moving and we are able to drive it uphill, it would be entirely reasonable to assume that some kind of human-like intelligence had once been on that planet. This is true whether or not the proposed intelligence was deterministic. In fact, we would be unreasonable not to strongly suspect the existence of such intelligence.

    It seems to me that once certain thresholds of ability or complexity are passed, one can then speak fairly of a qualitative difference. Computers and the internet can enable communications like this one which could never happen with more primitive equipment. That, it seems to me, is a qualitative difference.

    But if you don’t like that word, just answer the substantive question behind it. Can humans do things that nature without humans is for all practical purposes incapable of doing?

  77. QuadFather @69
    (My apologies for the delay in replying. Real life has a habit of getting in the way sometimes.)

    Ah, I think we may be getting somewhere.

    It seems to me that there is a disconnect between your premise (intelligence is reducible to natural law) and your conclusion (intelligence is not qualitatively different from other results of natural law).

    In the first place, how does it follow that all effects resulting from a common cause are qualitatively identical? As a kid, I used to play with K’Nex and with Legos. Are you telling me that the rubber band gun I made with K’Nex is qualitatively identical to the castle I made with Legos? That these are qualitatively identical to the PB&J sandwhich I made for lunch? To the spreadsheet that I compiled for work? Are you really saying that none of these things are qualitatively different from each other, simply because *I* am the common cause of them all?

    That’s a very interesting point. I think the issue is contextual and probably related to the definition of “qualitative.” In the context of materialistic versus non-materialistic explanations, there is no qualitative difference between the result of a non-intelligent process and a process in which human intelligence was involved because both processes are “natural.” In other contexts, and with respect to other criteria, the results of the two processes can, of course, be qualitatively different.

    I think it’s important to remember that transcendence is not a necessary property of intelligence. I do not believe that my intelligence transcends nature or natural law, but I *still* maintain that I can create things that nature cannot without my intelligent assistance.

    If human intelligence is completely explainable by materialistic means, you cannot create things that nature cannot because your act of creation is an act of nature, by the original premise.

    Thank you for taking the time to go through this in detail — I think that this is the essence of the issue, rather than semantic issues about what a “qualitative” difference really is.

    It is true that natural law simultaneously constrains and makes possible my ability to create, but my intelligence is *required* for certain things nonetheless.

    I don’t dispute that human intelligence can accomplish things that non-intelligent processes cannot. However, if we accept the premises of methodological naturalism, processes that involve human intelligence are still “natural.”

    . . .

    A probable point of confusion is the jump in logic you made between your premise that [intelligence is reducible to natural] and your conclusion that [intelligence is the *result* of natural law]. Just because I accept that intelligence is reducible to natural law does not mean I accept that intelligence is the *product* of natural law (for reasons just stated).

    I’m afraid I don’t see the distinction. If it can be demonstrated that human intelligence is an emergent property of the complex interconnections of the human brain, that shows that it is a naturally occurring system. “Result” and “product” are synonyms in this case.

    . . .
    The important point is: Intelligence is a REAL phenomenon that can be studied and quantified.

    I would qualify that by saying that “human intelligence” is a real phenomena that can be studied and quantified. Any science fiction buff has been exposed to the idea that not all intelligence may be similar to ours.

    Just because intelligence relies on the same matter and laws as the keyboard I’m typing on does not mean that intelligence cannot affect my keyboard in unique and quantifiable ways.

    True, but the question in the context of ID is whether or not examples like writing can be used to create standards of measurement that can be applied to systems of unknown provenance. This is the problem with CSI.

    JJ

  78. Joseph @70
    (As with my response to QuadFather, I apologize for the delay in replying.)

    “No Fee Lunch” has that demonstration you are asking for- starting on page 292.

    I’m afraid this isn’t an demonstration of how to objectively, qualitatively measure CSI for biological systems, taking into account known MET mechanisms.

    If CSI is to be rigorous enough to be used as proof of intelligence in systems known not to be the product of human intelligence, it must be possible for anyone to calculate it for a given construct, such as an entire cell or a component like the bacterial flagellum, and come up with the same value in the same units as anyone else with the requisite mathematical expertise to perform the calculation.

    Further, the algorithm itself must reflect known biological mechanisms. In particular, since MET mechanisms do not create full genomes ex nihilo, any CSI computation that uses the length of the genome to reduce the result to below some probability bound is suspect.

    I would very much like to see such an algorithm because it would make design detection significantly easier. At this point in time, no such algorithm exists (to my knowledge, after considerable research). This is exactly why I think that Dr. Behe’s approach of looking for the limits of MET mechanisms is more likely to be fruitful in the short to medium term.

    JJ

  79. Upright BiPed @71

    However, if intelligence is reducible to natural law then it is not qualitatively different than other results of natural law, in the sense of being above, beyond, or transcendent to nature.

    Once again, ID is about EVIDENCE, not debating definitions (see Popper).

    I don’t see how this is debating definitions.

    A rational interpretation of the EVIDENCE shows that an input of organization at the nucleic level is a virtual necessity, and is (far and away) the explanation of living tissue that carries the greatest parsimony with all other evidence on the matter.

    I suspect that this is what the evidence will show when more research is done into the “edge of evolution” but I am unaware of any significant evidence that shows intelligence is a “virtual necessity.” I would be interested in seeing the cites to published research that show that.

    We also need to be careful with claims of parsimony, since adding an intelligent agent run afoul of Occam.

    JJ

  80. Paul Giem @76
    (More apologies for the delay in replying.)

    But if you don’t like that word, just answer the substantive question behind it. Can humans do things that nature without humans is for all practical purposes incapable of doing?

    Well summarized. Clearly the answer is yes, although the quibble is that “nature without humans” isn’t all of nature if one accepts the assumptions of the methodological naturalists.

    The issue, however, is that we currently don’t have a way of quantifying the uniquely intelligent behaviors in such a way that they can be applied to systems not known to have arisen from human (or other) intelligence.

    JJ

  81. JayM,

    In #80 you agree that humans can do things that nature without humans is for all practical purposes incapable of doing. Good.

    The quibble that “nature without humans” isn’t all of nature if one accepts the assumptions of methodological naturalism is truly a quibble. Nature without humans exists now on Saturn and all of its moons besides Titan. Except for a few localized spots (which will stay localized if we sterilized the probes properly), it exists on Mars. Six million years ago, by anyone’s reckoning, it existed everywhere. So yes, this is definitely whining over details that are irrelevant.

    We know that humans can produce genetic novelty. We do not just change the genome of yeast to produce human insulin; we get yeast to produce new varieties of insulin that have never, to our knowledge, been produced by nature without humans. So we know how to manipulate genetic code, and only our imagination (and money) stops us.

    Nature without humans, however, seems to be practically limited to 2 neutral mutations at a time. That is what the Behe-Snokes paper calculates, and that is what The Edge of Evolution argues for on observational grounds. And it fits the Lenski experiment as far as we know.

    So large-scale evolution appears to require an intelligence at least equal to that of humans. This is completely leaving alone the question of the origin of life. Again, we will not consider the question of whether that intelligence is natural or not; we just need it to be intelligent.

    You are right that most of the time we do not have a good way to put numbers on the requirement for this intelligence. We can’t put numbers on Stonehenge, either. That doesn’t make the conclusion any less true or obvious for those who don’t have an ax to grind. For those who do, it’s Monty Python argument time.

  82. JayM #79

    I don’t see how this is debating definitions.

    Yes, Jay, your support for the cause of arguing over definitions has been duly noted – by the way, did you see Popper?

    You suggest a debate (one lasting since the time of antiquity, when we thought the heart made blood and the sun traveled around the world) is not a debate over definitions. I think it is.

    People do what profits them. Arguing over definitions is profitable when you can’t support your claims from the evidence. This is the point that has been made. You simply ignore it by ignoring the questions asked of you from the evidence. You do this repeatedly. You had previously said:

    However, if intelligence is reducible to natural law then it is not qualitatively different than other results of natural law, in the sense of being above, beyond, or transcendent to nature.

    To which you were repeatedly asked “what built Joseph’s car, was it natural law? You argue that it is, yet, from what part of Maxwell’s electromagnetic field theory we get an armrest or an accelerator pedal – or even an electric starter – you are not willing to say.

    If someone refuses to submit to the qualitative difference between the existence of an electric motor and the non-existence of an electric motor, then arguing over definitions is certainly better than answering the question of what causes the electric motor to exist at all. You can loosely refer to this as common sense.

    As far as your caveat of being “above, beyond, or transcendent to nature”, this is just a continuation of the same argument, and should be expected. You have already been told that ID is not supported by anything that suggests something outside of natural law took place.

    So in the first part of your comment you ignore the evidence that there is a qualitative difference between the existence and non-existence of artifacts of intelligence, and in the second part you willfully misrepresent the evidence in order to avoid it. This is hardly a new position.

    I suspect that this is what the evidence will show when more research is done into the “edge of evolution” but I am unaware of any significant evidence that shows intelligence is a “virtual necessity.”

    Again, everyone is happy that research into ID will continue, but to use this acknowledgment as an excuse to put off accepting the differences cited above, is simply more of the same. Instead of ignoring the evidence, or misrepresenting it, you now want to ask of its significance. I would then ask again: what is the significance of the evidence that Josephs car exist? The only intellectually honest answer you can give is “nothing”, which is of course, absurd.

    As far as you not having seen any published works suggesting that intelligent input is a virtual necessity, it certainly wouldn’t be because it’s not available. After all, if you ignore the self-evident need for intelligent input in order to create Joseph’s car, then why would you seek information otherwise? In any case, I would point you to
    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.g.....id=1208958

    …but there are others.

    I would be interested in seeing the cites to published research that show that.

    Have at it.

    We also need to be careful with claims of parsimony, since adding an intelligent agent run afoul of Occam.

    Really, please. Then establishment quietly buried Occam with the advent of the microscope, if not, then certainly by the unraveling of genetic instructions for living tissue.

    As far as parsimony is concerned, if you can make an argument that ID is less supported by the fossil record than the materialist’s accounting, then by all means make it. If you can’t, then consider accepting the rather self-evident conclusion that follows.

  83. Paul Giem @81

    Nature without humans, however, seems to be practically limited to 2 neutral mutations at a time. That is what the Behe-Snokes paper calculates, and that is what The Edge of Evolution argues for on observational grounds. And it fits the Lenski experiment as far as we know.

    Your “at a time” observation is crucial. MET mechanisms preserve beneficial, and even neutral, mutations. As long as the number of possible simultaneous mutations is greater than zero, MET mechanisms can work. (The question of how far such mechanisms can go is separate, and more interesting.)

    So large-scale evolution appears to require an intelligence at least equal to that of humans

    That doesn’t follow. In fact, if we accept the methodological naturalist assumptions, for the sake of argument, the ability of natural processes to produce something as complex as human intelligence suggests that other forms of complexity, such as biological constructs, are well within the capabilities of those same processes.

    Just because intelligence is sufficient to create such results doesn’t mean that intelligence is necessary to create them. Demonstrating that is why we need more research into Behe’s edge of evolution.

    JJ

  84. Upright BiPed @82

    However, if intelligence is reducible to natural law then it is not qualitatively different than other results of natural law, in the sense of being above, beyond, or transcendent to nature.

    To which you were repeatedly asked “what built Joseph’s car, was it natural law? You argue that it is, yet, from what part of Maxwell’s electromagnetic field theory we get an armrest or an accelerator pedal – or even an electric starter – you are not willing to say.

    You really seem to have difficulty with the simple statement that if human intelligence is a natural phenomena then the products of that intelligence are also natural phenomena.

    Personally, I don’t believe that ID theory requires intelligence to be non-natural. While there is currently no theory of mind that demonstrates that human intelligence is of natural origin beyond a reasonable doubt, considerable work is being done in this area by neuroscientists and I’m not aware of any conceptual brick walls being encountered.

    Unless ID researchers can demonstrate that intelligence clearly cannot be explained in materialistic terms, or until a robust, objective definition of CSI or a similar measurement unique to intelligence is created, Forrest and others are not being unreasonable in maintaining the natural/supernatural dichotomy because their position is that intelligence is natural.

    JJ

  85. You really seem to have difficulty with the simple statement that if human intelligence is a natural phenomena then the products of that intelligence are also natural phenomena.

    How are you defining “natural”?

    Is it “produced by nature”?

    Because that is what is being debated. So it cannot be used as evidence.

    So Forrest et al, can make all the claims they want. They are empty claims.

    That is what we have been trying to tell you.

    Once it is observed that nature, operating freely, can create CSI from scratch, then either ID is falsified, CSI needs to be tossed out as an indicator or CSI needs to be redefined.

    As for brick walls and neuroscience- as long as imagination passes for science- no, there won’t be any.

  86. JayM,

    You skirted the question yet again – what part of electromagnetic field theory created the electric starter on Joseph’s car?

  87. According to JayM,

    If there are say an almost infinite number of universes such that any particular combination of events is bound to happen, then the following scenario is possible:

    In one of these almost infinite subset of universes life will form in some form and have the properties similar to what we now see. So it will happen an almost infinite number of times if can happen just once. Now in those almost infinite number of universes the level of life in terms of neural activity or what we call intelligence will happen an almost infinite number of times.

    And in this almost infinite subset of these universes where neural activity has reached a level of what we call intelligence, an almost infinite number of subset of universes will have intelligences far in excess of what we are today or even what we can imagine. And in one of these almost infinite number of universes from this subset there will be an intelligence that can understand and interact with the other universes.

    And one of these extremely massive intelligences will then say “Let there be Light.”

    So all things are natural except where the first instance of natural came from. That wasn’t natural. Why does anything exist will always be the ultimate question.

    And if JayM denies an almost infinite number of universes then there will be a problem of explaining the fine tuning, ool and evolution, all of which defy any probabilities we can imagine.

  88. Joseph @85

    You really seem to have difficulty with the simple statement that if human intelligence is a natural phenomena then the products of that intelligence are also natural phenomena.

    How are you defining “natural”?

    Is it “produced by nature”?

    Because that is what is being debated. So it cannot be used as evidence.

    Exactly! And yet, that’s what some ID proponents are trying to do by distinguishing “intelligent” causes from “natural” causes without supporting the claim that they are different.

    Note that my statement you quoted includes the phrase “IF human intelligence is a natural phenomena…” (additional emphasis added). That is a core assumption of methodological naturalism. If we want ID theory to be taken seriously as science, we can’t simply claim that intelligence is separate from nature in some way. That would be assuming our conclusion, as you point out.

    JJ

  89. Upright BiPed @86

    You skirted the question yet again

    I did no such thing and, frankly, I don’t care for your tone. I am attempting to participate in a collegial discussion. Your insinuations that I am being somehow disingenuous are unwarranted and rude.

    – what part of electromagnetic field theory created the electric starter on Joseph’s car?

    Where did I ever make a silly claim like that? Try to follow the simple syllogism:

    IF human intelligence is the product of natural processes

    THEN the product of human intelligence is also the product of natural processes.

    If ID theorists want to make the claim that the products of human intelligence are unique among all other natural processes, that’s a potentially legitimate argument but requires significantly more empirical support than is currently available.

    If ID theorists then want to go further and claim that the unique characteristics of human intelligence are found in biological systems not known to have human origins, that requires a rigorous, objective measurement criteria. CSI is nowhere near that level yet.

    JJ

  90. JayM: Upright Biped is not the only one who has noticed you skirt issues. Your incredibly evasive answer to me at @59 is a case in point.

  91. that should be…. “noticed [that] you skirt issues, but you get the drift.

  92. StephenB [90]:

    Can only speak for myself, but [59] did not seem like evasion to me. He says there is most definitely a quantitative difference, and from his other comments its clear his working assumption is that there is no qualitative difference. An explicit personal affirmation to this effect would have been irrelevant for the purposes of establishing truth.

  93. JT, the question on the table is this: If you see a sand castle on the beach, how do you explain its existence? Everyone knows that answer to that question, so anyone who refuses to answer it is evading the issue.

  94. I don’t see how JayM is evading anything. On the contrary, he’s pointing out the elephant in the living room.

    Sand castles are made by humans. The question is whether human activity is reducible to natural processes.

  95. JM:

    Re 89:

    “IF . . .”

    We have observed intelligences originating function-specifying complex information [of at least 1,000 functional bits capacity], and we have never observed FSCI originating by chance + necessity only.

    Further to this, we know that he islands of function are credibly incredibly sparse in the config space, o much so that 1,000 bits specifies ten times the SQUARE of the number of quantum states of the 10^80 atoms of the observed universe across its credible lifespan.

    In short, for such a 1,000 bit sample of FSCI, the entire universe would search less than 1 in 10^150 of the space. So, i tis credible that — per sparseness — chance + necessity on the gamut of our universe lacks the resources to reach islands of function.

    Intelligent agents routinely produce examples of FSCI >> 1,000 functional bits; so that FSCI is a reliable empirical sign of intelligence. (And the precise digitalised description of a sand castle would easily top 1,000 bits.)

    So, now, where do you justify your “IF” in 89?

    And, why do so many insist that they can impose a priori, Lewontinian materialism on questions tied to origins, and say that if it does not explain by chance + necessity only, it is not science?

    is that not question-begging worldview-level censorship? Censorship that frustrates science from being an unfettered search for the truth about our world based on empirical evidence?

    GEM of TKI

  96. kairosfocus:

    We have observed intelligences originating function-specifying complex information [of at least 1,000 functional bits capacity], and we have never observed FSCI originating by chance + necessity only.

    First, you’re again begging the question of whether “intelligences” are reducible to chance + necessity. What you’re really saying (without any published data to support it) is that only humans have been observed to produce FSCI. The intelligences vs. chance+necessity dichotomy is not an observation — it’s an assumption on your part.

    Second, is the complexity/information in FSCI measured only against a uniform null hypothesis, or against all chance+necessity hypotheses? If the latter, then isn’t it tautological to say that chance+necessity doesn’t produce FSCI?

  97. Rob:

    I have confined my premises to what is observed: [1] intelligences, [2] designs made by same, [3] characteristic signs of such designs.

    I have also refused to censor the possible explanations of FSCI observable in say cell-based life, including our own.

    Now, as to the assertion or inference that C + N is a credible source of FSCI, I have in essence asked a thermodynamic, search-space question.

    On the search space and search resource — needle in haystack — grounds, I have no better reason to expect C + N to make FSCI than I do to get a macroscopic result that runs counter to the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    So — just as I accept 2nd LOT, stat form, pending counter-example — I accept that FSCI is reliably the product of intelligence [provisionally but confidently], indeed, diagnostically so.

    And, your empirical grounds — no Lewontinian a priori Materialism please — for inferring seriously that C + N could produce FSCI is . . . ?

    [Kindly provide a clear countrer example within the province of our observation -- the proper province for scientific evidence.]

    As to whether FSCI metrics presume uniform null hyp spaces; the most common one does not, ROB. The programs in your PC are FSCI and they are measured in [functionally specific] bits and bytes. And, if such a pgm has at least 1 k BITS of info in it, the search space is such that the entire resources of he observed cosmos, across its entire lifespan, could not search out 1 in 10^150 of the space. intelligence routinely finds such targets within human scale search resources.

    So, on inference to best explanation, if I see FSCI, I am entitled to infer to design, absent COMPELLING reason otherwise. And that is not begging questions, it is inference to best, empirically credible explanation. (And recall, mechanical forces cerate regularities not contingencies. If you with to say the cosmos is PROGRAMMED to generate intelligent life such as ours, then that is going to be a most impressive program indeed. Such would have a very logical source: design of the cosmos.]

    The only Q-begging I see here is the Lewontinian a priori materialism that is blocking the obvious explanation for the pervasive appearance of design in our world!

    GEM of TKI

    _____________

    PS: DS, I did not think to look in a thesaurus, but that’s a six to the stands . . . No, it’s a Gary Sobers to the parking lot!

    PPS: Set up a paypal for the Barbara Forrest Thesaurus collection fund, pleeeze.

  98. —-Rob: Sand castles are made by humans. The question is whether human activity is reducible to natural processes.

    No, the question about human activity being reducible to natural processes PRECEDED the example about sand castles. The wind and the ocean waves are “natural processes.” They cannot make sand castles; they never have and never will. Once one admits that humans made the sand castles and that the ocean and wind did not make the sand castles, the conversation is over for all rational people. The sand castles were designed by human agency and did not form randomly through natural causes. That is why JayM refused to answer the question. The bigger question is, why are you still laboring over it?

  99. I said, “You skirted the question yet again”

    I did no such thing and, frankly, I don’t care for your tone. I am attempting to participate in a collegial discussion. Your insinuations that I am being somehow disingenuous are unwarranted and rude.

    I don’t set out to be contentious, but (considering your claim) I can certainly imagine you feeling somewhat provoked by being asked to address the actual evidence. In the end, neither your emotions nor mine matters in the least, the only thing that matters is what the evidence tells us.

    IF human intelligence is the product of natural processes
    THEN the product of human intelligence is also the product of natural processes.

    The carelessness of your claim is exactly what I have been trying to get you to address.
    Natural law brings order to the Universe. Without that order – if iron did not act like iron – then Joseph’s car would simply not exist. But the order within the universe, which can be described as natural law, cannot account for what can be made of iron. That requires intelligence.

    In other words, natural law is necessary but not sufficient to account for the artifacts of intelligence.

    You then want to argue that indeed it is; if intelligence can arise by natural law then the artifacts of intelligence also arose by natural law. So lets take your claim in its parts; the first part (beginning with “IF”) being pure speculation without a shred of empirical evidence. (Ahem)…now lets move to the second part of your claim (beginning with “THEN”) which is nothing more than a conclusion based on the first part.

    It can be clearly seen why materialist ideologues wish to avoid the actual evidence.

    If ID theorists then want to go further and claim that the unique characteristics of human intelligence are found in biological systems not known to have human origins, that requires a rigorous, objective measurement criteria. CSI is nowhere near that level yet.

    So let’s get this straight: materialist ideologues can make claims to the public without a shred of empirical evidence to back up there claims, and also, their conclusions must be adhered to by anyone who wishes to be received with any support whatsoever within the scientific, academic and political establishment, oh, but if ID proponents make claims based on nothing BUT the observable evidence then they will not be allowed in the door.

    I can readily see your sense of balance on the issue.

  100. kairosfocus, thanks for your quick response.

    I have confined my premises to what is observed: [1] intelligences, [2] designs made by same, [3] characteristic signs of such designs.

    So in which of those three categories does the following premise fall: “we have never observed FSCI originating by chance + necessity only”?

    Now, as to the assertion or inference that C + N is a credible source of FSCI, I have in essence asked a thermodynamic, search-space question.

    I didn’t assert, infer, or imply that C+N is a credible source of FSCI, and I couldn’t even begin to take a position on that until you tell me what FSCI and C+N mean in scientific, preferably operational, terms. (Lest you point me to what you’ve written on the subject, I’ve read it.)

    The programs in your PC are FSCI and they are measured in [functionally specific] bits and bytes. And, if such a pgm has at least 1 k BITS of info in it, the search space is such that the entire resources of he observed cosmos, across its entire lifespan, could not search out 1 in 10^150 of the space.

    If by “1kbits of info” you mean that it takes up 1kb of computer storage, then you’re faced with the following problem: It’s a fact of coding theory that anything can be encoded in as few or as many bits as you please. Nothing in the real world comes to us pre-encoded, so how do we non-arbitrarily measure the amount of information in real world phenomena?

    If you want to measure information in terms of probability, how do you decide what distribution(s) to use? In classical info theory, the distribution depends, in general, on the receiver. If a receiver has no prior knowledge, we could assume a distribution based on the observed frequency of the various symbols, or use some other algorithm. If the receiver has prior knowledge, then correctly modeling the uncertainty may be very complicated.

    And again, if the information measure is based on a null hypothesis that includes the whole of C+N, then C+N can’t produce FCSI by definition.

    intelligence routinely finds such targets within human scale search resources.

    I would love to see evidence of that. Let’s give it a try. Who can use their intelligence to factor the following number? 66371577530824009051. The search space is many many magnitudes of order smaller than 2^1024.

    That’s a little tongue-in-cheek, but it raises the question of what targets intelligent humans are able to find, and how they do it. Ascribing it to an irreducible, inscrutable phenomenon called “intelligence” explains nothing — it’s just a label.

    And recall, mechanical forces cerate regularities not contingencies.

    Mechanical processes are stochastic, in the general sense. They can be very regular, chaotic, or even ultimately random.

    The term “contingencies” has always confused me. Dembski says that the mess created by a spilled ink bottle is contingent. Barry Arrington says that the mess created by a bomb explosion is not contingent. Who’s correct?

    The only Q-begging I see here is the Lewontinian a priori materialism that is blocking the obvious explanation for the pervasive appearance of design in our world!

    The question-begging was your presumed C+N/intelligence dichotomy. You haven’t attempted to support that premise, so it’s still question begging.

    And I agree that scientists like Lewontin and Dawkins tend to stray way outside the purview of science with many of their comments. Are you of the opinion that Lewontin’s comments have some effect on the direction of scientific research? If so, do you have any specific examples?

  101. Rob wrote [100]:

    It’s a fact of coding theory that anything can be encoded in as few or as many bits as you please. Nothing in the real world comes to us pre-encoded, so how do we non-arbitrarily measure the amount of information in real world phenomena?

    How would you resolve the above statement with the following by JayM in 59:

    StephenB @49

    I was hoping that you would respond to these two questions: Do you think that there is any qualitative difference between the cause of the formation of the beach and the cause of formation of my sand castle?

    There is certainly a quantitative difference in the level of complexity of both the creation process and the result. By this I mean Kolmogorov complexity.

  102. JT:

    How would you resolve the above statement with the following by JayM in 59:

    Kolmogorov complexity is relative to the reference UTM. Some UTMs produce sand castles with a zero bit program, and some require humongous programs.

    But we still speak of some patterns having more KC than others. One way to make sense of this is to imagine scaling up the patterns to the point that the differences in UTMs are negligible. For instance, the pattern 111111111111 may require a larger program than a sand castle does for a certain UTM. But as we extend the sequence of 1s and simultaneously expand the sand castle, at some point the sand castle will require a bigger program than the sequence of 1s, regardless of the UTM.

    At any rate, the information measure in FSCI is not Kolmogorov complexity. Every account of ID that I’ve seen measures information in terms of probability, possible configurations, or simply the lengths of sequences.

  103. Rob:

    At any rate, the information measure in FSCI is not Kolmogorov complexity. Every account of ID that I’ve seen measures information in terms of probability, possible configurations, or simply the lengths of sequences.

    I would agree with that, but on the subject of Kolmogorov complexity, are you saying that observations about for example earthworm behavior being less algorithmically complex than a human’s – that such observations are a matter of subjectivity no different than talking about qualitative differences.

    You could compare two complex computer simulations or games, and observe that one had a much larger program utilized more memory and processor speed, and say it was a more complex simulation with higher fidelity I assume. Its possible that a larger program could be ineffeciently coded of course. But that doesn’t mean that things don’t vary in complexity or that our ability to informally discern such differences is meaningless.

    The fact that you derive an encoding scheme that assigned very short binary sequences to complex programs and long ones to simple programs, wouldn’t negate the fact that the former was actually more complex.

    Also admittedly you could say the probability of everything that exists now is 1, but only if you assume some process that created it, a process that must be equal in complexity to what exists now, and in fact equates algorithmically to what exists now.

    Now go ahead and shred this or disabuse me of of my ignorance.

  104. Rob:

    Sorry, I should have considered more carefully your following comment.

    For instance, the pattern 111111111111 may require a larger program than a sand castle does for a certain UTM. But as we extend the sequence of 1s and simultaneously expand the sand castle, at some point the sand castle will require a bigger program than the sequence of 1s, regardless of the UTM.

  105. 105

    Smile, it’s a Kodak moment.

  106. Rob:

    On select points:

    1] @ 100: in which of those three categories does the following premise fall: “we have never observed FSCI originating by chance + necessity only”?

    Rob, you presumably know science and logic well enough to know that I have given an EMPIRICAL datum. One tha tyou cannot overturn on that basis, so you substitute the idea that it is a presumed premise.

    You and I both know thart routinely we do observe FSCI produced by intelligence, and tha tit is a reliable sign of it, pending only a good counter-example. Such is not forthcoming, so I still have the right to use FSCI as a sign of intelligence.

    End of argument, unless you can provide EMPIRICAL counerinstance.

    2] I didn’t assert, infer, or imply that C+N is a credible source of FSCI, and I couldn’t even begin to take a position on that until you tell me what FSCI and C+N mean in scientific, preferably operational, terms.

    Rob, kindly stop playing old selectivley hyperskeptical rhetorical games. We BOTH know per abundant example what fucntion-specifying complex info is.

    For instance, [1] this post as contextually responsive English text, as opposed to [2] a random text string:fuiwfwrhfwhfwfwfhjdgb or [3] a simple repeating one: dddddddddddddd. And you are doubtless familiar with the peer-review published categories OSC, RSC and FSC.

    Also, as you claim to have read my online note, you will know that the concept traces to Orgel, Yockey, Wickens et al trying to understand the difference between organisation of life systems and the simple order of crystals or random arrangements of discrete elements.

    There is now also a whole set of Weak arguments correctives [WACs, I suggest BarryA] that you seem to need to look up.

    FSCI is addressed in one of them.

    As a matter of fact — as we all know — the whole evo mat paradigm in origins science is premised on the concept that Chance + necessity can account for FSCI, thus also us as intelligent life forms. And that is what you did put up as your alternative in a context that suggested that it was question-begging to nor DISPROVE that first before suggesting that FSCI is a sign of intelligence.

    [ . . . ]

  107. 3] It’s a fact of coding theory that anything can be encoded in as few or as many bits as you please. Nothing in the real world comes to us pre-encoded, so how do we non-arbitrarily measure the amount of information in real world phenomena?

    Rob, I pointed out that we have a common metric of functional bits, e.g a CD comes with the stamp 600 – 800 MBytes on it.

    When we put in programs or data, we put in so many MB of that is functionally specific bits — they do an observationally recognisable job [are functionally specified] and are in bits [take up a storage space], and if they pass the 1,000 bit threshold the functional bits take up enough space that no search based on C + N alone on the gamut of the universe can reasonably be expected to arrive at it.

    As to the idea that we can bring down any code to any level of conciseness, you are simply implicitly pushing back the info up one level: for such a sophisticated code to work, somewhere there has to be the storage of that many functional bits: in the library or the database so keyed or instance, or the compiler or the record otherwise. Not to mention the algorithms, programming language [another code!],and physical implementation machinery to recognise the concise code then fetch the meaning from where it is stored.

    All of this is abundantly empirically supported.

    4] If you want to measure information in terms of probability, how do you decide what distribution(s) to use?

    We are not forced to do that in advance; H = – SUM pi log pi allows us to take in any arbitrary distribution of probabilities across the space of outcomes; as I discussed under the link between thermodynamic and informational entropy. (Indeed, in App 1, there is a discussion from Bradley on Cytochrome C, that precisely is non-uniform, and we see a calculated value of Icsi in that case. likewise, in the KD paper on measuring FSC in fits, no presumption of uniformity is made, just the opposite.)

    even with the Dembski metric, the probability on the chance hyp is not bound to uniform distributions.

    But, having said that, for DNA we have good physical-chemical reasons to see that chaining does not constrain in any major way the sequence. Similarly, for AA’s. So, a quasi-uniform distribution is good enough a lot of gov or uni work!

    In short, red herring.

    5] I would love to see evidence of that [of intelligence producing FSCI]

    Reduction to self-referential absurdity driven by selective hyperskepticism, folks.

    The post containing that is 3524 ASCII characters of contextually responsive English long, specifying a contingency space of 128^3524 ~ 6.43*10^7425 cells.

    The search resources of the observed cosmos over their lifetime could not plausibly by C + N only find this or any other contextually responsive text of that length. but, in a few minutes, rob, and intelligent agent, produced and posted this.

    [ . . . ]

  108. 6] Ascribing it [FSCI] to an irreducible, inscrutable phenomenon called “intelligence” explains nothing — it’s just a label.

    So, to infer that Rob, at 100 above, was acting as an intelligence is “just a label”?

    So, is post no 100 jut lucky noise and necessity in action? So, then, we have no good grounds to take it as serious or meaningful.

    The absurdities get even more evident.

    7] Mechanical processes

    Note, I spoke of mechanical FORCES.

    Such forces act in lawlike ways, as is well known: f = ma, F = G m1m2/r^2, etc.

    Thus, we see natural regularities and precisely low contingency. A heavy and unsupported object, reliably, falls under ~ 9.8 N/kg worth of force.

    That is not suitable for storing info.

    But, for many objects, under similar initial conds, outcomes vary significantly. If a die falls and tumbles, the uppermost face is contingent. if a fair die, by chance, if not, by intelligent direction, i.e design.

    And, this specific simple and clear example is there in that linked note and in the WACs. It is also instantly familiar to anyone who has ever played a board game using dice.

    This sounds, pardon, like willful obtuseness.

    7] The question-begging was your presumed C+N/intelligence dichotomy. You haven’t attempted to support that premise, so it’s still question begging.

    Really now.

    This is relabelling of an observed fact of human experience as an “assumption.” the better to dismiss evident fact pursuit of an agenda unsupportable otherwise.

    Go get a die, and toss it a few times [necessity and chance]. Then set it up to read 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6 in succession [intelligent direction].

    Case proved.

    8] I agree that scientists like Lewontin and Dawkins tend to stray way outside the purview of science with many of their comments.

    Glad you agree.

    9] Are you of the opinion that Lewontin’s comments have some effect on the direction of scientific research? If so, do you have any specific examples?

    Try, National Academy of Sciences of the US, 2008:

    In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. [[Science, Evolution and Creationism, p. 10. (NAS, 2008.)]

    Translating: on origins, one may only infer to chance plus necessity acting on matter plus energy in space- time.

    Or, the friendly local Magisterium is gonna get you, you supernaturalist theocratic creationist fundy dummy! [And there is a long list of cases in point.]

    Or, science is being q-beggingly redefined — cf Ms Forrest above (and the fruit of her work at Dover, PA, etc] — as being under methodological naturalism. that boils down to science is the best evo mat account of the world, from hydrogen to humans. Forget such little niceties as that science should be unfettered/ uncensored and should seek the truth about the cosmos without imposing dogmatic blinkers.

    if the Magisterium that suppressed Galileo was wrong [and I know the politics and he- brought it- down- on- himself by ridiculing the pope issues . . .], so is the new one that supresses ID.

    And, the evidence on that is plain for all to see who will but look.

    ____________

    GEM of TKI

  109. StephenB @90

    JayM: Upright Biped is not the only one who has noticed you skirt issues. Your incredibly evasive answer to me at @59 is a case in point.

    I directly answered both your questions. I invite anyone to read the post and verify that.

    JJ

  110. kairosfocus @95

    We have observed intelligences originating function-specifying complex information [of at least 1,000 functional bits capacity], and we have never observed FSCI originating by chance + necessity only.

    This is exactly the point under contention, so simply claiming it to be fact is begging the question.

    Leaving aside for the moment the fact that CSI is not rigorously enough defined, at this point, to serve as an objective measurement, I agree that we have seen human intelligence produce complex information.

    We have also seen complex information in biological systems. If we work from the assumptions of methodological naturalism, we conclude that human intelligence is the result of natural processes (“chance and necessity” in your words) so the products of human intelligence are, by definition, the products of natural processes.

    We also conclude that the complexity in biological systems is the result of natural processes because the assumptions of methodological naturalism allow no other conclusion. Scientists then research possible natural mechanisms to explain the observed complexity.

    Unless and until we can demonstrate that either:

    a) The complexity we observe in biological systems can only come from intelligence

    or

    b) There are limits to the capabilities of all possible natural processes that generate biological complexity

    then the methodological naturalists like Forrest are justified in framing the discussion in terms of natural and supernatural rather than the three options preferred by ID proponents.

    Again, I personally think that Dr. Behe’s work on option (b) is likely to lead to more support for ID in the short to medium term. CSI and similar measurements are still too subjective and fail to directly address MET mechanisms that funnel information from the environment into the genome.

    JJ

  111. Upright BiPed @99

    I said, “You skirted the question yet again”

    Yes, and you were wrong.

    I did no such thing and, frankly, I don’t care for your tone. I am attempting to participate in a collegial discussion. Your insinuations that I am being somehow disingenuous are unwarranted and rude.

    I don’t set out to be contentious, but (considering your claim) I can certainly imagine you feeling somewhat provoked by being asked to address the actual evidence. In the end, neither your emotions nor mine matters in the least, the only thing that matters is what the evidence tells us.

    I completely agree. Thus far you have presented none.

    IF human intelligence is the product of natural processes
    THEN the product of human intelligence is also the product of natural processes.

    The carelessness of your claim is exactly what I have been trying to get you to address.

    Your baseless claims are what I’ve been objecting to. There is nothing “careless” about my syllogism. If you can’t address it you should simply admit that.

    Natural law brings order to the Universe. Without that order – if iron did not act like iron – then Joseph’s car would simply not exist. But the order within the universe, which can be described as natural law, cannot account for what can be made of iron. That requires intelligence.

    Let’s stop right here. Prove that statement (or at least support it). You are blatantly begging the question by asserting, without any evidence, that intelligence distinct from natural processes is required. You have completely ignored the issue that, if the premises of methodological naturalism are accepted, even just for the sake of argument, then human intelligence is a natural phenomena and any results of that intelligence are therefore also natural phenomena.

    If ID theorists then want to go further and claim that the unique characteristics of human intelligence are found in biological systems not known to have human origins, that requires a rigorous, objective measurement criteria. CSI is nowhere near that level yet.

    So let’s get this straight: materialist ideologues can make claims to the public without a shred of empirical evidence to back up there claims,

    Not at all. Neuroscientists and others are actively researching the nature of intelligence. There are numerous peer-reviewed journals dedicated to the topic.

    and also, their conclusions must be adhered to by anyone who wishes to be received with any support whatsoever within the scientific, academic and political establishment, oh, but if ID proponents make claims based on nothing BUT the observable evidence then they will not be allowed in the door.

    Where is the observable evidence that human intelligence is a product of anything but natural processes?

    I can readily see your sense of balance on the issue.

    It’s not my sense of balance, it’s the reality of what is required to be taken seriously by mainstream scientists.

    JJ

  112. JM:

    In re 110 (as, if this is not resolved no further reasonable discussion is possible):

    [GEM, 95:] We have observed intelligences originating function-specifying complex information [of at least 1,000 functional bits capacity], and we have never observed FSCI originating by chance + necessity only.

    [JM, 110:] This is exactly the point under contention, so simply claiming it to be fact is begging the question.

    1 –> JM, are you intelligent within the meaning of this, from our glossary [and onward Wikipedia]?

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

    2 –> Have you been observed producing strings of ASCII text in contextually responsive English; of length at least 143 characters, inclusive of spaces etc? [128^143 ~ 2^1,000]

    3 –> Now, “your” post at 110 is 1,827 characters, well beyond 143. Does seeing a post at UD under your handle as a registered user count as a production of FSCI by an intelligent agent?

    4 –> If not, kindly explain, and do so in a way that shows that you are not appealing to lucky noise or the like probabilistic absurdity. 9And, if you think that it is enough to claim your intelligence reduces to chance + necessity acting through materialistic evolutionary mechanisms across time, you will need to ground the credibility of your mind under such circumstances. Dismissive arguments will not be taken as a serious response.]

    +++++++++++++

    Now, the point I made was simply this: intelligences as we observe and experience, do produce FSCI, and in all cases where we observe the cause, we see such intelligences at work. So, per induction, we can posit that — pending a god counter-example, FSCI is a reliable sign of intelligence. this is reinforced by the needle in the haystack issue as the complexity rises well beyond 1,000 bits of capacity. And, I have defined FSCI by concrete example and family resemblance, which is a more fundamental level of definition than statements of description or taxonomies on genus-difference.

    In so doing, I have made no assumptions about the onward nature of reality or its roots. I am simply observing in our world and remarking on it based on glorified common sense. On those grounds, those who would assert or imply that chance + necessity are adequate to produce instances of FSCI in our observation, have some warranting to do.

    Accusations of question-begging such as above — that to my common sense view begin to reduce to absurdity — do not begin to address such a challenge.

    GEM of TKI

  113. kairosfocus, thanks for your responses. The discussion has expanded beyond my bandwidth, so I need to go back to the fundamental issue: You continue beg the question of whether intelligence is reducible to C+N. For instance:

    The search resources of the observed cosmos over their lifetime could not plausibly by C + N only find this or any other contextually responsive text of that length. but, in a few minutes, rob, and intelligent agent, produced and posted this.

    I appreciate you finally trying to provide support for this premise, as follows:

    Go get a die, and toss it a few times [necessity and chance]. Then set it up to read 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6 in succession [intelligent direction].

    Case proved.

    As you seem unaware that this continues to beg the question, I doubt that anything I say can make a difference.

  114. Rob:

    not so fast, pardnuh.

    Neat little rhetorical trick: assert Q-begging then do not substantiate, announce victory and go home.

    Let’s look back at the example in Question:

    [Rob] Go get a die, and toss it a few times [necessity and chance]. Then set it up to read 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6 in succession [intelligent direction].

    1 –> Do you consider yourself an intelligent agent? (If not, why not?)

    2 –> Does a tossed or dropped die fall by a natural regularity, one commonly known as gravity?

    3 –> Do such dice then usually tumble to a value that is generally held — e.g. by game makers — to be essentially a matter of chance? [Per a bit on edges and corners and sensitive dependence on initial conditions leading to an unpredictable result in the long?]

    4 –> Is the outcome of so tossing a die then not reasonably a matter of chance + necessity?

    5 –> If you set up a die on a table to states 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in succession, is that not directed contingency? [or for that matter is the message you typed up and posted above not similarly directed contingency?]

    If you cannot answer a common-sense “yes” to all five Q’s, I think that shows a very different problem, Rob: reductio ad absurdum on your part.

    GEM of TKI

  115. kairosfocus, first of all, you haven’t even stated any logic to connect the steps of your experiment to your conclusion. Until you do (and, I suspect, even after you do), your “case proved” is a non sequitur.

    Second, what’s this about common sense? I thought that ID was supposed to be science. One huge benefit of science is that it shows us where our common sense is wrong. If you think that your approach to ID is scientific, then I encourage you to publish it.

    Do you think that terms like intelligent agent, chance + necessity, and directed contingency have established meanings? If you have scientifically usable definitions for the above, then by all means, share. That would be a good first step in bridging the chasm between the ID and science communities.

    When I asked for a scientific definition of FSCI, you accused me of hyperskepticism, as if I’m being unreasonable. But in order to do science, we need measures that can be reproduced independently. If students in an ID class were given the assignment of measuring the FSCI in, say, a mousetrap, would most of them come up with the same answer?

    Do you understand how science attempts to minimize subjectivity? Where are the FSCI studies? Can’t the DI spare some of their millions of research $ to perform a cheap and simple study where subjects independently measure CSI or FSCI?

    The so-called data you’ve presented is nothing of the sort, at least not in the scientific sense.

    Now to answer your questions:
    (1) yes, according my usage of the term “intelligent agent”
    (2) yes
    (3) yes, game-makers and most other people consider dice rolls to be “chance” as they’re unpredictable. The output of a pseudo-random number generator is also “chance” according to this usage.
    (4) yes
    (5) yes, if you define “directed contingency” such that the answer is yes.

  116. kairosfocus @112

    We have observed intelligences originating function-specifying complex information [of at least 1,000 functional bits capacity], and we have never observed FSCI originating by chance + necessity only.

    This is exactly the point under contention, so simply claiming it to be fact is begging the question.

    First I’m going to quickly answer your questions:
    1) Yes.
    2) Yes.
    3) I have no idea what the precise meaning of FSCI is or how to explicitly measure it.
    4) See (3)

    Now here’s the real issue: Nothing that you speak about in those four questions has anything whatsoever to do with whether or not human intelligence is a natural phenomena. That entire section of your post is a non sequitur.

    Now, the point I made was simply this: intelligences as we observe and experience, do produce FSCI, and in all cases where we observe the cause, we see such intelligences at work.

    You continue to beg the question. Leaving aside for the moment the definition of FSCI and whether or not it is applicable in the biological domain, you are saying “We see human intelligence creating these kinds of artifacts, we see these kinds of artifacts in biological systems, therefore biological systems are intelligently designed.”

    You’ve skipped the important bits of demonstrating that human intelligence is unique in its ability to create FSCI. You’ve merely claimed it is, then assumed that other instances of FSCI indicate intelligence. The alternative explanation, again assuming for the sake of argument that FSCI is rigorously defined, is that FSCI being present in biological systems indicates that it is not a unique identifier of intelligence.

    That is precisely how you are begging the question.

    JJ

  117. BTW, kairosfocus, when I ask “Do you understand how science…”, I am not questioning your credentials. I’m just pointing out that your arguments and “data” seem to fall far short of the bar.

  118. Rob:

    There comes a point where an absurdity has been sufficiently shown.

    The root issue is whether you can [a] recognise yourself as an existing intelligence [however you got there], and [b] identify a case that can be described as directed contingency caused by such an entity.

    Your inability or unwillingness to combine the two in light of basic common-sense on a case as simple as getting a die on a table to show variation of the uppermost side by chance or design, is all I need to see that something has gone very wrong with the Evo Mat case indeed.

    (And BTW, def’n by example and family resemblance is PRIOR to precising descriptions or taxonomies. We accept the latter when they show themselves adequately capable of identifying cases and counter-cases per examples. [Try out the UD glossary by that test . . . including defns of FSCI, CSI and Sci Method, etc.])

    FYFI, I think you will see that common sense is epistemically prior to articulation of arguments of warrant too.

    Okay, onlookers, I think we see enough to see what is going on.

    GEM of TKI

  119. JM:

    You seem, sadly, to be pretty much in the same boat as Rob.

    You have to act as an intelligence, but are unwilling to recognise yourself as one, and in particular to accept that intelligences — however they got here — do create artifacts that function based on complex information. All the while, while using a . . . COMPUTER on the INTERNET, and producing digital strings that greatly exceed 1,000 bits, and that are functioning as contextualy responsive, creative text in English.

    Then the onward chain of reasoning is simple: we have abundant evidence that intelligent agents do produce FSCI, and we have no good cases where we observe chance + necessity doing so. [try an updated form of the monkeys at typewriters example.)

    So, i tis reasonable, per provisonal induction, to identify FSCI as a sign of intelligent action. So, since we jhave no good reason to infer that we exhaoust actual or possible intelligences, when we see FSCI in the DNA molecule -- digital, fucntional, complex text strings -- we have excellent empirical [non- Q begging . .. ]reason to infer to intelligent design per best and provisional explanation. the burden of proof is on those who assert that FSCI, in the simple case of 1,000+ bit capacity digital strings that function in a context, can resasonably — per needle in haystack issues — originate by C + n but not design. [This is like the 2 LOT, under statistical forms.]

    You have thus undercut any reasonable basis for a serious discussion. But, in so doing, you have inadvertently exposed for us to see for ourselves the absurdities that evidently so deeply lurk in evolutionary materialism as a position that you cannot acknowledge plain simple facts that you are a participant in.

    Onlookers, the issue should be clear enough now.

    Sad, but we have to see the truth before we can fix what’s so plainly broken.

    GEM of TKI

  120. kairosfocus:

    The root issue is whether you can [a] recognise yourself as an existing intelligence [however you got there], and [b] identify a case that can be described as directed contingency caused by such an entity.

    Your inability or unwillingness to combine the two in light of basic common-sense on a case as simple as getting a die on a table to show variation of the uppermost side by chance or design, is all I need to see that something has gone very wrong with the Evo Mat case indeed.

    On the contrary, I did both [a] and [b] in #115, and I have made no objection to your dice example. But even after being pressed, you still haven’t tried to logically connect this to your conclusion that intelligence is irreducible to C+N.

    Maybe one of your onlookers will step up and tell us what your logic is.

  121. —-Jay: “Now here’s the real issue: Nothing that you speak about in those four questions has anything whatsoever to do with whether or not human intelligence is a natural phenomena.”

    In truth, your objection is little more than a refusal to make distinctions. So, if I ask if you just wrote the previous paragraph, you can say no, not really, it occurred “in” nature and was the result of a “natural process.” Or, you say, yes, I am part of nature and nature caused me to do it. Or, you can say, yes, I am part of nature and nature allowed me to do it.

    If I ask if the aforementioned paragraph just happened as a result of chance, you can say, yes, it just emerged from “natural processes.” If I ask you if it was the inevitable result of physical laws, you say, yes, nature made it happen. So, the answer to all questions is yes and no.

    So, for you, a radical materialist, posing as an ID sympathathizer, everything is “in” nature; everything is defined by nature; and everything can be explained by nature. For all that, you have not defined nature.

    In truth, “nature” is just a catch all term you use to refer to something without ever really explaining it. At least ID defines “natural causes” to mean law and chance. You, on the other hand, offer no definition of the word. You simply refuse to accept IDs explcit definition, revise it into an all inclusive term that means nothing, and then wonder why ID can’t explain things in those terms.

    That is why you equivocate so much over my little sand castle. The question still stands by the way: If you think a six year old made the sand castle, how to you arrive at that conclusion? What is it about the sand castle that causes you to suspect that the wind and ocean waves did not form it. I am still waiting for a reasonable answer.

  122. Rob, my question at the end of #121 applies to you as well.

  123. Rob (#120):

    The statement that intelligence is irreducible to C + N is a part of the intelligent design hypothesis. Easily falsifiable by showing that C + N absent previous intelligence does indeed produce intelligence. (Back to my much repeated and consistently ignored “take some background noise [chance] and an arbitrarily chosen set of laws [law absent any consideration for future results] and see if they will produce intelligence.”

    Why do some (many) people think that C + N will not produce intelligence? Excellent question. If intelligence is mainly equated with foresight, and if there are certain effects which foresight does indeed aid in producing yet are not described by law (as mathematical descriptions of regularity) nor best explained by chance because of extreme improbability [using up of all probabilistic resources], and if C + N do not intrinsically possess foresight, why would we expect C + N to produce these effects of foresight? Moreover, if C + N do not possess foresight, why would we expect them to produce foresight in the first place?

  124. 124

    Jay, if you are going to cut and paste my arguments, please don’t ignore the passage that adresses your arguyment by 1) restating it hjust as you have, and 2) dismantles it for what it is. namely…

    You then want to argue that indeed it is; if intelligence can arise by natural law then the artifacts of intelligence also arose by natural law. So lets take your claim in its parts; the first part (beginning with “IF”) being pure speculation without a shred of empirical evidence. (Ahem)…now lets move to the second part of your claim (beginning with “THEN”) which is nothing more than a conclusion based on the first part.

    So my question to you is “IF intelligence can arise….” a speculative comment or is it not?

  125. If you think a six year old made the sand castle, how to you arrive at that conclusion? What is it about the sand castle that causes you to suspect that the wind and ocean waves did not form it. I am still waiting for a reasonable answer.

    Speaking for myself, that’s a pretty easy one. We humans have a widely observed ability and custom of making sand castles. Wind and waves don’t.

    Even if I didn’t know this, I know that we humans have a mental store of information that includes what castles look like, and the ability to use our hands to fashion things according to our mental images. That would account for the similarity between the sand formation and castles. I can’t think of any aspect of wind and waves that would explain this similarity.

  126. 126

    Jay, if you are going to cut and paste my arguments, please don’t ignore the passage that directly addresses your claim by 1) stating it just as you have, and 2) dismantles it for what it is.

    You then want to argue that indeed it is; if intelligence can arise by natural law then the artifacts of intelligence also arose by natural law. So lets take your claim in its parts; the first part (beginning with “IF”) being pure speculation without a shred of empirical evidence. (Ahem)…now lets move to the second part of your claim (beginning with “THEN”) which is nothing more than a conclusion based on the first part.

    So my questions to you:

    1) Is “IF intelligence can arise…” a speculative comment or is it not? True or False?

    2) Is “THEN intelligence arose…” a conclusion based on the prior speculation. True or False?

    - – - – - – - –

    You see JayM, you can’t ask me a question that I must ignore (as you repeatedly do)

    WHY? Because I am sticking only to the EVIDENCE.

    You want me to justify that an “intelligence distinct from natural processes is required” to build Joseph’s car?

    Of course, the answer you are trying to sell is that the intelligence necessary (to act on materials and create the car) is itself a result of natural causes. Settting aside the lack of any observational evidence to back up this conclusion in any way whatsoever, I would just like to know the falsifiability of your claim – or does that not matter anymore?

    The sad part is that (S)cience goes out to the public that it must serve, and continually says that these matters are resolved. That is a lie, one that will come back to haunt science some day. Enjoy your public funding.

    - – - – - – - -

    Oh, and why is it that you have not addressed the paper I referred you to?

  127. 127

    Moderators, my errant half-post at 124 is a mystery to me…it can be removed for page loading sake if you wish.

    my apologies…

  128. CJYMan, good to see you again.

    The statement that intelligence is irreducible to C + N is a part of the intelligent design hypothesis. Easily falsifiable by showing that C + N absent previous intelligence does indeed produce intelligence. (Back to my much repeated and consistently ignored “take some background noise [chance] and an arbitrarily chosen set of laws [law absent any consideration for future results] and see if they will produce intelligence.”

    Assuming that “intelligence” is well-defined and is something akin to human mental abilities, and assuming that the hypothesis is indeed false, I would guess that such an demonstration would be quite intractable, rather than “easily” achieved.

    And I find your “absent previous intelligence” qualifier interesting. Is it your position that, for instance, computers can be intelligent if a previous intelligence programs them to be so?

    If intelligence is mainly equated with foresight

    Okay, how do we operationally define foresight? In other words, given some phenomenon X, how do I determine whether X has foresight? I can think of some approaches, but I don’t want to make presumptions about your argument.

    and if there are certain effects which foresight does indeed aid in producing yet are not described by law (as mathematical descriptions of regularity)

    “Mathematical descriptions of regularity” can describe any effect. Gettysburg Address? No problem. Define a mathematical function f whose co-domain consists solely of the Gettysburg Address.

    By “law” to you mean all known laws of physics? All known and unknown laws? All conceivable laws?

    nor best explained by chance because of extreme improbability

    Improbability under what distribution(s)? Improbability of the hypothesis given the event, or the event given the hypothesis? If the latter, by what logic is the hypothesis a poor explanation? (How do we apply modus tollens to probabilistic arguments?)

    and if C + N do not intrinsically possess foresight

    I’m not sure how to parse this, and it’s partly because of ambiguity surrounding the terms chance and necessity. Do you mean, “If no C+N-reducible phenomenon can possibly have foresight”, or “If the laws of physics cannot give rise to foresight”, or “If the laws of physics are not guaranteed to give rise to foresight”, or “If the abstract concepts of chance and necessity do not themselves have foresight”, or something else?

    Moreover, if C + N do not possess foresight, why would we expect them to produce foresight in the first place?

    See above.

  129. —-Rob: Even if I didn’t know this, I know that we humans have a mental store of information that includes what castles look like, and the ability to use our hands to fashion things according to our mental images. That would account for the similarity between the sand formation and castles. I can’t think of any aspect of wind and waves that would explain this similarity.

    That means, then, that you can distinguish human agency from natural causes, which is the point that JayM denies. He maintains that we cannot know the difference, meaning that we cannot differentiate between [A] a sand castle that was formed by the ocean and the wind from [B] one that was designed by human hands.

  130. 130

    R0b, using your hands to create a sand castle is “foresight” in that you expected the technique to end in a result that served the function of creating a facsimile of a castle.

  131. StephenB:

    That means, then, that you can distinguish human agency from natural causes, which is the point that JayM denies.

    I know that you don’t intend to put words in my mouth, StephenB, but your questions and my answers said nothing about “natural causes”, an ambiguous term. You previously defined “natural causes” to mean “law and chance”. I cannot distinguish human agency from law and chance.

    He maintains that we cannot know the difference, meaning that we cannot differentiate between [A] a sand castle that was formed by the ocean and the wind from [B] one that was designed by human hands.

    Anyone reading this would think that, if true, then JayM must be a nutcase. The same is true of your claim from the other thread that the academy teaches that nothing is man-made. Those professors need to stop sniffing their dry-erase markers.

    The problem is that you load the terms “designed” and “man-made” with the metaphysical assumptions like libertarian free will and maybe dualism. In my experience, most people use these words in a way that’s independent of any metaphysical baggage. When archeologists say that arrowheads are man-made, they mean that they were formed by humans. Whether human activity is reducible to C+N is a separate question.

  132. R0b, using your hands to create a sand castle is “foresight” in that you expected the technique to end in a result that served the function of creating a facsimile of a castle.

    The term foresight is usually used in connection with humans, but in order to be useful to ID, a generalized and operationalized definition is needed. Can computers have foresight? How about animals that gorge themselves before hibernating? Or ants that dig tunnels? Or a dog that salivates when a bell is rung? How about an electromagnetic force vector that points to a position that’s linearly-extrapolated from a particle’s previous position? Does linear extrapolation count as foresight?

  133. —-Rob: “I know that you don’t intend to put words in my mouth, StephenB, but your questions and my answers said nothing about “natural causes”, an ambiguous term. You previously defined “natural causes” to mean “law and chance”. I cannot distinguish human agency from law and chance.”

    If you can distinguish between a sand castle that was made from human hands from anything that forms from ocean waves and wind, then you can distinguish between human agency and law/chance as defined by ID. Did you have another definition of “natural causes” in mind?

    —–”When archeologists say that arrowheads are man-made, they mean that they were formed by humans. Whether human activity is reducible to C+N is a separate question.”

    How do you think that archeologists know that the arrowhead is not a rock? What quality does it have?

    –”Anyone reading this would think that, if true, then JayM must be a nutcase. The same is true of your claim from the other thread that the academy teaches that nothing is man-made. Those professors need to stop sniffing their dry-erase markers.”

    The academy, for the most part, promotes naturalism/materialism. Materialists insist that there are no minds or wills, and most Darwinists are materiaists in that same sense. You seem to disapprove of what I wrote on that thread, but you do not take up the issues that I presented, either then or now. So, why allude to it without responding to the points made?

    In any case, materialistic philosophy as a foundation for science causes the entire rational enterprise to break down. The investigator cannot be distinguished from the investigation, or the subject from the object. I wouldn’t call materialists “nut cases,” I would simply point out that they are not rational because they acknowedge neither [a] rational minds [b} the rational universe or [c] the decisive correspondence between the two. They are trying to dialogue about ID, without first acknowledging the first principles for right reason. This compromises their ability to reason in the abstract.

    Rational people know immediately what to say when confronted with the question, “Is a written paragraph designed?” Irrational people immediately begin looking for ways to sidestep the issue or make it more complicated than it is. It is not their fault. The academy has instilled in them a neglect and horror of the obvious.

  134. kairosfocus @119

    Then the onward chain of reasoning is simple: we have abundant evidence that intelligent agents do produce FSCI, and we have no good cases where we observe chance + necessity doing so.

    You keep repeating this, but have never supported it. Unless you can demonstrate that human intelligence is non-natural in some sense, then the results of human intelligence are the results of natural processes.

    Unless you can demonstrate that FSCI is uniquely an indicator of intelligence, there is no reason to assume that FSCI in biological systems must be the result of intelligence.

    Unless you can rigorously define FSCI, explain how it can be calculated for biological systems, and show how it incorporates the mechanisms observed to occur by biologists working within modern evolutionary theory, any claims that rely on FSCI are literally meaningless.

    You can write as much as you want, but until you address these issues you are clearly begging the question.

    JJ

  135. StephenB @121

    In truth, your objection is little more than a refusal to make distinctions. So, if I ask if you just wrote the previous paragraph, you can say no, not really, it occurred “in” nature and was the result of a “natural process.” Or, you say, yes, I am part of nature and nature caused me to do it. Or, you can say, yes, I am part of nature and nature allowed me to do it.

    And your reasoned objection to any of those conclusions is . . . ?

    In fact, I accept responsibility for my actions. I act as though I have free will. That doesn’t change the fact you have not addressed the issue of whether or not human intelligence is the result of natural, materialistic processes.

    If I ask if the aforementioned paragraph just happened as a result of chance, you can say, yes, it just emerged from “natural processes.” If I ask you if it was the inevitable result of physical laws, you say, yes, nature made it happen. So, the answer to all questions is yes and no.

    “Inevitable result” is assuming facts not in evidence.

    So, for you, a radical materialist, posing as an ID sympathathizer,

    On what do you base this insulting assertion? I could just as easily claim that you are attempting to undermine ID by presenting easily refuted, often nonsensical claims while posing as an ID proponent.

    Why don’t we just assume good faith and attempt to come to some conclusions that will advance the ID cause?

    everything is “in” nature; everything is defined by nature; and everything can be explained by nature. For all that, you have not defined nature.

    It is some ID proponents who are claiming that Forrest’s natural/supernatural distinction is invalid. In order to substantiate that claim, human intelligence must be proven to be non-natural by the claimants, not by me.

    In truth, “nature” is just a catch all term you use to refer to something without ever really explaining it. At least ID defines “natural causes” to mean law and chance. You, on the other hand, offer no definition of the word.

    “Law and chance” seems to be a term that obfuscates rather than illuminates. It assumes that intelligence is different without demonstrating why that must be so. Perhaps it is, but you have certainly not shown why.

    You simply refuse to accept IDs explcit definition, revise it into an all inclusive term that means nothing, and then wonder why ID can’t explain things in those terms.

    It is you who are equivocating. If human intelligence is a natural phenomena, then the results of it are a natural phenomena. Calling the same thing, natural phenomena, by two different names and acting as though the names make a difference is nonsensical.

    That is why you equivocate so much over my little sand castle. The question still stands by the way: If you think a six year old made the sand castle, how to you arrive at that conclusion?

    “Equivocate.” You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    I know that people make sand castles. Big deal.

    JJ

  136. Upright BiPed @126

    Jay, if you are going to cut and paste my arguments, please don’t ignore the passage that directly addresses your claim by 1) stating it just as you have, and 2) dismantles it for what it is.

    You seem to have an overinflated sense of the merit of your attempted refutation.

    You then want to argue that indeed it is; if intelligence can arise by natural law then the artifacts of intelligence also arose by natural law. So lets take your claim in its parts; the first part (beginning with “IF”) being pure speculation without a shred of empirical evidence. (Ahem)…now lets move to the second part of your claim (beginning with “THEN”) which is nothing more than a conclusion based on the first part.

    So my questions to you:

    1) Is “IF intelligence can arise…” a speculative comment or is it not? True or False?

    You need to read far more carefully. Methodological naturalism is the basis of modern science. In my comments in this thread I have been accepting that assumption for the sake of argument.

    2) Is “THEN intelligence arose…” a conclusion based on the prior speculation. True or False?

    If methodological naturalism is assumed, this is true. If you don’t believe it to be true, then you need to provide some evidence of how the assumptions of methodological naturalism either don’t allow an explanation of the phenomena or demonstrate how they result in a contradiction.

    The rest of your post is based on your complete misunderstanding of this simple syllogism.

    JJ

  137. StephenB @129

    That means, then, that you can distinguish human agency from natural causes, which is the point that JayM denies.

    No, it means that you can distinguish one type of natural cause from another. Don’t put words in my mouth.

    He maintains that we cannot know the difference, meaning that we cannot differentiate between [A] a sand castle that was formed by the ocean and the wind from [B] one that was designed by human hands.

    That’s not true. Please either provide evidence for this claim or retract it.

    JJ

  138. —-JayM: “It is you who are equivocating. If human intelligence is a natural phenomena, then the results of it are a natural phenomena. Calling the same thing, natural phenomena, by two different names and acting as though the names make a difference is nonsensical.”

    There is only one person in this discussion that thinks human intelligence is a natural phenomenon and that is you.

    —-”On what do you base this insulting assertion? (Darwinist posing as an ID sympathizer.) I could just as easily claim that you are attempting to undermine ID by presenting easily refuted, often nonsensical claims while posing as an ID proponent.”

    I base that comment on your earlier assertion that you are a Fuller/Behe type ID advocate. That clearly is not that case. Further, the only time you have ever defended any propostion by an ID proponent was on the occassion of agreeing with Steve Fuller that ID needs to define the activity of the designer, the only point of contention between Fuller and other ID advocates. Further, You don’t seem to believe even in the principle of design inference since you question it at every turn. Further, you argue that “intelligence” is, or can be, a natural phenonenon, the very antithesis of ID. Further, you claim that the words “law” and “chance” obfuscate. I’ll stop there and add more to the list the next time we dialogue, or, I should say, the next time you express doubts about some aspect of intelligent design.

    You have refuted nothing because you have said nothing. You simply wax skeptical over what others say.

    —-”I know that people make sand castles. Big deal.”

    The big deal is that you claim not to be able to distinguish sand castles from grains of sand formed by the wind and the ocean. That is the big deal.

    —-“Equivocate.” You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    This is the only correspondence in which I have used it. So, I don’t know what you mean when you say, “keep using the word.”

    I know very well what the word means. The question is, do you know how to avoid doing it?

    —-“Law and chance” seems to be a term that obfuscates rather than illuminates. It assumes that intelligence is different without demonstrating why that must be so. Perhaps it is, but you have certainly not shown why.

    Everyone knows what “law” and “chance” means given the context of the discussion. Plato’s first introduced the law/chance/agency triparte explanation in his “Laws.” If the terms were meaningless, ambiguous, or non-definitive, I am sure he or someone in the two millenia that followed would have picked up on that problem. The only person who claims not to understand the meaning is you.

  139. StephenB:

    If you can distinguish between a sand castle that was made from human hands from anything that forms from ocean waves and wind, then you can distinguish between human agency and law/chance as defined by ID.

    Does anyone else here think that this logic is valid?

    An analogous argument would be “You can tell Jack from Bob, so you can tell Democrats from Republicans.” First, if the arguer can’t establish Bob’s affiliation, then his argument is dead. Second, if he can’t show that Jack and Bob were distinguished on the basis of their party, then the argument is likewise dead.

    You haven’t shown that human activity is non-C+D, nor have you shown that my reasoning, which I stated explicitly, works because one is C+D and the other not. That’s two levels of fallacy.

    Did you have another definition of “natural causes” in mind?

    There are certainly other definitions, but I’m aware of your definition. The fact is that I answered a question about sandcastles, humans, waves, and wind, not “natural causes” or C+D (which are synonymous under your definition).

    How do you think that archeologists know that the arrowhead is not a rock? What quality does it have?

    Chip marks.

    Materialists insist that there are no minds or wills,

    No, they insist that minds and wills emerge from material phenomena.

    You seem to disapprove of what I wrote on that thread, but you do not take up the issues that I presented, either then or now. So, why allude to it without responding to the points made?

    I told you exactly what my point was in alluding to it: You’re attaching metaphysical baggage to your terms. I don’t know how else to respond to the claim that the academy teaches that nothing is man-made.

    In regards to the rest of your post, do you really think that your argument is helped by your repeated claim that true Scotsmen — I mean, rational people — think like you do?

  140. JayM (#83),

    A lot of water has gone under the bridge since I was able to respond to you last.

    First, it might be helpful to review what we agreed on. In #79 I asked,

    “Can humans do things that nature without humans is for all practical purposes incapable of doing?”

    You replied (#80)

    Well summarized. Clearly the answer is yes, although the quibble is that “nature without humans” isn’t all of nature if one accepts the assumptions of the methodological naturalists.

    I pointed out the invalidity of your quibble in #81:

    The quibble that “nature without humans” isn’t all of nature if one accepts the assumptions of methodological naturalism is truly a quibble. Nature without humans exists now on Saturn and all of its moons besides Titan. Except for a few localized spots (which will stay localized if we sterilized the probes properly), it exists on Mars. Six million years ago, by anyone’s reckoning, it existed everywhere. So yes, this is definitely whining over details that are irrelevant.

    You did not reply in #83. Does that mean that you accept my reasoning regarding the quibble? Or do you wish to challenge it?

    I commented that

    Nature without humans, however, seems to be practically limited to 2 neutral mutations at a time. That is what the Behe-Snokes paper calculates, and that is what The Edge of Evolution argues for on observational grounds. And it fits the Lenski experiment as far as we know.

    You replied,

    Your “at a time” observation is crucial. MET mechanisms preserve beneficial, and even neutral, mutations. As long as the number of possible simultaneous mutations is greater than zero, MET mechanisms can work. (The question of how far such mechanisms can go is separate, and more interesting.)

    This is inaccurate. MET mechanisms do not preserve neutral mutations, without using a strained meaning of “preserve”. Natural selection is the only MET mechanism that can be said to preserve anything (mutations and genetic drift change neutral mutations if they do anything to them). MET simply sometimes allow neutral mutations to lie unchanged. And neutral mutations are invisible to natural selection. But probably some sources claim that MET mechanisms “preserve” neutral mutations, so you may have come by that mistake reasonably honestly.

    The next statement, “As long as the number of possible simultaneous mutations is greater than zero, MET mechanisms can work.” suggests a profound misunderstanding. If you had phrased it “might theoretically work”, it would have been accurate. But the problem is not a theoretically possible pathway. The problem is that, in the case of higher animals, the pathway needs to be advantageous at each step, as even one neutral mutation will cause the process to stall out. For bacteria, more than one disadvantageous mutation will cause the process to stall out.

    The Behe and Snokes paper demonstrated that. That is why it passed the peer-review process. The criticism that has been leveled at it is that it did not explore “Darwinian processes”. This is not true (this discussion has been covered before). It did explore Darwinian processes; it just did not explore Darwinian pathways, where each step is beneficial. So the criticism does not invalidate their conclusions; it only claims that Darwinian pathways are always present, so that the difficulties pointed out by Behe and Snokes are only theoretical.

    The problem is that we know of some non-Darwinian pathways. One of them leads to chloroquine resistance in malaria parasites, and is documented in The Edge of Evolution. One of them involves the HIV virus, and was rubbed in Behe’s face (unjustly, IMO). Another one is apparently the Lenski citrate transport mechanism. And another one is apparently the nylonase enzyme (I’m still looking at this last one). Thus the experimental evidence backs up the theoretical calculations.

    Now, you may insist that we have not proven our case. But we have at least showed some evidence that can be fairly interpreted as supporting it. It does seem like there should be some obligation for those who believe that virtually all proteins can be reached by Darwinian processes to give some either theoretical or experimental evidence that such pathways exist. But as I noted before, color vision is the only pathway I have seen offered, and this reportedly involved only 3 steps, nowhere near the tens to hundreds of steps typically needed to get a new protein.

    You quote me,

    So large-scale evolution appears to require an intelligence at least equal to that of humans

    and say,

    That doesn’t follow. In fact, if we accept the methodological naturalist assumptions, for the sake of argument, the ability of natural processes to produce something as complex as human intelligence suggests that other forms of complexity, such as biological constructs, are well within the capabilities of those same processes.

    The bland denial (“That doesn’t follow”) makes no attempt to explain why. If humans, and therefore presumably human-like intelliigences, are capable of creating genetic changes at will, and nature without humans appears to be stymied at 3 neutral/deleterious mutations for microorganisms and 2 neutral/deleterious mutations for large mammals, and evidence for Darwinian (no neutral mutation) pathways to new proteins appears to be lacking after careful search, then the idea that large-scale evolution appears to require intelligence does seem to be justified, at least as a tentative conclusion given the presently available evidence. Could you please explain why it doesn’t follow in this sense?

    Your next sentence is a recipe for surrender, and phrased incorrectly. The assumption that you are suggesting that we take “for the sake of argument” is not methodological naturalism; it is philosophical naturalism. Methodological naturalism means that we assume naturalism and see how far we go. When one assumes that methodological naturalism can explain all the data, then one has shifted into philosophical naturalism.

    And that assumption means that all one has to do to argue that something is possible by natural means is to show that it happened. It then must, almost by definition, have happened naturally, and thus be possible naturally. There is no need to prove that it actually happened naturally, or even could have happened naturally. The mere fact of its happening is taken as proof that it can happen naturally. That kind of “logic” is totally impervious to any disproof, and therefore, in the Popperian sense, is not science. It fits better with what some think of religion.

    You say,

    Just because intelligence is sufficient to create such results doesn’t mean that intelligence is necessary to create them. Demonstrating that is why we need more research into Behe’s edge of evolution.

    I agree that more research into Behe’s edge of evolution would be helpful. What I think you failed to realize is that for some of us the preponderance of evidence is already in favor of ID, and that for some, the considerations in the paragraph before your last-quoted one one mean that no matter how well we delineate the edge of evolution or show that present-day organisms are beyond it, they will not give up their belief in MET, because for them it never was about the science anyway.

    You will note that no assumptions are being made about the ability to explain human minds on the basis of combinations of chance and natural law. The only requirement for the argument in this regard is the assumption that human intelligence exists and is not widespread in nature as we know it outside of humans.

  141. JayM

    You seem to have an overinflated sense of the merit of your attempted refutation.

    Properly inflated I would say. You setup a proposition based on speculation and then draw a speculative conclusion from it. I set up a proposition based on observable evidence and draw an empirical observation from it. You then insist that I must meet your challenge.

    You need to read far more carefully. Methodological naturalism is the basis of modern science.

    Is this supposed to be informative? Methodological naturalism has been an incredibly useful tool for mankind, but if it is used (as it is today) to rule out rational observation, then it becomes nothing more than establishment cover (philosophy) for unending speculation – all in order to not face the fact that an organized information code exists as the basis of living tissue. The simple globule thing didn’t work out. Neither did the fossil record. Neither did easy consciousness. Neither did the attack on irreducible complexity. Neither did chemical evolution. Neither did junk DNA. Neither did homologous structures equating to homologous genetics. Shall I go on?

    If methodological naturalism is assumed, this is true. If you don’t believe it to be true, then you need to provide some evidence of how the assumptions of methodological naturalism either don’t allow an explanation of the phenomena or demonstrate how they result in a contradiction.

    Okay. Chance and necessity are causal mechanisms that have been studied carefully from a variety of disciplines. It isn’t that we nothing of their footprint. Chance provides an independence from any one given result to the next. It does not organize, and it does not coordinate. Necessity brings periodic order. Neither periodic order nor independence of result is what is seen in nucleic sequencing. Nucleic sequencing is characterized by functional organization that is both intricate and pervasive. Unfortunately, only chance and necessity are allowed by doctrine as the answer to nucleic sequencing.

    What we end up is: Chance and necessity have never been observed (in any circumstance whatsoever, or under any scientific discipline) that can account for the highly organized and selective functionality observed in nucleic sequencing. Both fail as appropriate mechanisms based on qualitative and quantitative studies, therefore, only chance and necessity can account for such nucleic sequencing.

    The rest of your post is based on your complete misunderstanding of this simple syllogism.

    Let’s see what you’ve chosen to ignore:

    1) The ability to falsify your claim.

    2) Science not being upfront with the public it is to serve

    3) A research papers that fundamentally impacts the questions you pose.

  142. Rob, Let’s zero in a little bit and trim things down.

    I wrote, “if you can distinguish between a sand castle that was made from human hands from anything that forms from ocean waves and wind, then you can distinguish between human agency and law/chance as defined by ID.”

    You interpretet that as an analogy, but it was not meant as an analogy. The point is that once you have discerned that human hands are responsible, then human agency has been established.

    We can make the same statement about a written paragraph. You can easily distinguish between gibberish and an organized paragraph. The organized paragraph is a function of agency. Are you saying that you cannot discern the fact that an intelligent agent is responsible for a written paragraph?

    (Also, please state explicitly what you mean by C + D since I am not following your discussion with others nor am I making any references to measurement at the moment.)

    I wrote, How do you think that archeologists know that the arrowhead is not a rock? What quality does it have?

    ——You respond, “Chip marks.”

    Are you saying that natural forces cannot create chip marks?

  143. No, they (materialists) insist that minds and wills emerge from material phenomena.

    That is incorrect. Materialists make no provision for minds or wills. You are talking about epiphenominalism. Epiphenominalists posit a kind of emergence, but in the end, mind and will are, for them, totally grounded in matter anyway. Epiphenomiliasts, strictly speaking do not believe in minds as causal agents. For them, matter is the only substance, which hearkens back to my comment on human agency. Materialists and epiphenominalists both must, in the end, deny free will and intellect. That is because all mental events are caused by brain events, which in turn are caused by outside material events. Under the circumstances, free will is impossible as well. So, in the end, materialism and epiphenominalism amount to the same thing.

  144. 143 is a response to Rob.

  145. —–Rob: “In regards to the rest of your post, do you really think that your argument is helped by your repeated claim that true Scotsmen — I mean, rational people — think like you do?”

    It is not a case of the “true Scotsmen syndrome.” In fact, there really are objective standards for rationality and some people do not meet them.

  146. JM (And Rob):

    re JM @ 134:

    [Cites GEM, 119:] Then the onward chain of reasoning is simple: we have abundant evidence that intelligent agents do produce FSCI, and we have no good cases where we observe chance + necessity doing so.

    [JM, responds, 134:] You keep repeating this, but have never supported it. Unless you can demonstrate that human intelligence is non-natural in some sense, then the results of human intelligence are the results of natural processes . . .

    This is why I have pointed out that we are at reductio ad absurdum:

    1 –> The very topic for this thread is proof enough that intelligence and its artifacts “in some sense” are opposites to the “natural.”

    2 –> Namely, natural = chance + necessity acting on material objects etc, while intelligence produces artificial or technical items when they act on same objects; as my dropped die vs set up die example illustrates as a simple thought or practical expt.

    3 –> Indeed, Wiki — no fan of ID — on TECHNE, ever since Plato, is apt:

    Techne, or techné, as distinguished from episteme, is etymologically derived from the Greek word ????? . . . which is often translated as craftsmanship, craft, or art. It is the rational method involved in producing an object or accomplishing a goal or objective. The means of this method is through art. Techne resembles episteme in the implication of knowledge of principles, although techne differs in that its intent is making or doing, as opposed to “disinterested understanding.”

    4 –> So, when you — self reference — put up posts containing thousands of ASCII characters and constituting functionally specific, complex information as a known product of intelligence — and in a context where no such text produced by chance + necessity is forthcoming — we have a clear indication of an empirical sign of intelligence. Thus, your actions undercut your claims and reduce your argument to absurdity.

    5 –> ALSO, THE APPEAL TO EXISTING OBSERVED INTELLIGENCES AND ARTIFACTS THEREODF IS INDEPENDENT OF DEBATES AND SPECULATIONS ON THE REMOTE UNOBSERVED ORIGIN OF SAID INTELLIGENCE. So, to anchor inferences in what we can all observe and test/confirm empirically is not to beg questions.

    6 –> Now, that is also relevant to the origin of said intelligence and its sign, information. (All of which we can observe through existing examples and cases, i.e concrete, repeatable, observable,and reliably characterised.)

    7 –> For, our existence is biologically based on cells that embed DNA and associated implementing machinery that implement algorithmic, coded, digital data strings of length sufficient that on needle- in- haystack grounds, it is not plausible that C + N on the gamut of the observed cosmos could plausibly — as opposed to logically possibly — produce. [Just as the stat form of the laws of thermodynamics are based on the same needle in a haystack issues.)

    [ . . . ]

  147. 8 –> So, on inference to best current, empirically anchored explanation, DNA and its associated structures and software, are artifacts of intelligence. That is not a deductive proof [which is subject to rejection of axioms . . . ], it is empirically anchored, provisional warrant, i.e the same standard we use for science , forensics, history etc.

    9 –> So, the core design inference is warranted, and that without begging questions, on inference to best among competing explanations as controlled by evidence and logical coherence.

    10 –> On the specious objection that we must provide definitions, I have pointed out already that [1] we have done so, cf.glossary as linked top of page, [2] definition by concrete exemplar and family resemblance is more fundamental than precising or taxonomical statement.

    10 –> As a further to this, [3] biology is no less science because it has no definition of life beyond examples and family resemblance thereto.

    11 –> As to the further specious objection that there is no effective quantification of FSCI, I refer you to your PC, and to the files on it: they are measured in functionally specific bits: bits that do the work of a program or provide the data for a text or image etc.

    12 –> Once the total of such bits exceeds about 1,000 [143+ ASCII characters . . . ], not even if the observed cosmos were converted to a search machine would the configs be likely to be found by chance + necessity. But, intelligences routinely produce same.

    13 –> And, there are more sophisticated quantisations, including this one in the recent peer reviewed literature, for proteins, with a table of no less than 35 values. (BTW, linked at Weak Arguments Corrective, no 27, above.)

    ______________

    BOTTOMLINE: Sadly, endless materialist objectionism, carried to the point of self-referential absurdity.

    GEM of TKI

  148. SB:

    Well said.

    Looks like our evo mat interlocutors need some basics on critical thinking:

    1] PPT, in PDF, 15 minutes.

    2] 101 level Phil toolkit, 2 hrs.

    3] Good online tutorial, requiring a few days. [Maybe we should add to the quick reference section, BarryA?)

    But, then, there is a longstanding issue on the rational coherence of evolutionary materialism that -- though often hotly dismissed -- is a serious and (on the merits) unanswered challenge.

    Laying the usual strawman to rest, first of all:

    The issue is not

    [a] whether evo mat thinkers can reason, subject to the same finitude and fallibility we all have, but

    [b] whether they can ground the credibuiiity of the mind on their premises . . .

    [c[ and that has been so since Lucretius' attempt to use a random swerve to get around the implications of determinism ruled by blind lawlike forces; for

    [d] randiomness is no better at being rational than blind force.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Rob JM: it is not q-begging or No true Scotsman, to point out fallacious reasoning and even reductio ad absurdum, with warrant.

  149. StephenB @138

    It is you who are equivocating. If human intelligence is a natural phenomena, then the results of it are a natural phenomena. Calling the same thing, natural phenomena, by two different names and acting as though the names make a difference is nonsensical.”

    There is only one person in this discussion that thinks human intelligence is a natural phenomenon and that is you.

    Your willingness to leap to assumptions based on your biases is showing. I have never claimed that human intelligence is either natural or non-natural. I am discussing the original post at the top of this thread, namely the claim by some ID proponents that Barbara Forrest is making a false dichotomy between natural and supernatural.

    Methodological naturalists such as Forrest, by definition, claim that human intelligence is the result of natural processes. If you want to demonstrate that Forrest’s arguments are invalid, you must show that human intelligence is not a natural phenomena. You keep asserting it, but have provided absolutely no support for your assertions.

    —-”On what do you base this insulting assertion? (Darwinist posing as an ID sympathizer.) I could just as easily claim that you are attempting to undermine ID by presenting easily refuted, often nonsensical claims while posing as an ID proponent.”

    I base that comment on your earlier assertion that you are a Fuller/Behe type ID advocate. That clearly is not that case.

    Prove it or retract it. I can support my claim that you are attempting to undermine the ID movement by posting easily refuted arguments by reference to any number of your posts here. Where is your evidence that I am other than what I say I am?

    Further, the only time you have ever defended any propostion by an ID proponent was on the occassion of agreeing with Steve Fuller that ID needs to define the activity of the designer, the only point of contention between Fuller and other ID advocates.

    As noted in that discussion, I find the refusal to discuss the nature of the designer scientifically indefensible and ethically questionable. I would like to see the ID movement take the high ground. That’s far more supportive of the goals of ID than your preference for us to be disingenuous.

    Further, You don’t seem to believe even in the principle of design inference since you question it at every turn.

    This is supposed to be a scientific discussion. Belief doesn’t come into it. For the record, I do think that design can be detected in principle, but CSI and other measurements currently being suggested are not sufficiently rigorous to do so. Again, I am supporting ID by encouraging the improvement of these tools, not just whining about how the real scientists won’t take us seriously.

    Further, you argue that “intelligence” is, or can be, a natural phenonenon, the very antithesis of ID.

    Excellent, we’re finally back on topic. Please provide the proof, or at least support for the idea, that human intelligence is not a natural phenomena. The methodological naturalists have thousands of peer reviewed papers published annually regarding new discoveries of the natural mechanisms underlying intelligence. We need to do more than simply claim “No, it isn’t.”

    JJ

  150. StephenB:

    You interpretet that as an analogy, but it was not meant as an analogy.

    Where did I do that? Please provide a quote.

    The point is that once you have discerned that human hands are responsible, then human agency has been established.

    Your point was, “If you can distinguish between a sand castle that was made from human hands from anything that forms from ocean waves and wind, then you can distinguish between human agency and law/chance as defined by ID.”
    It’s the “you can distinguish between human agency and law/chance” part that’s in dispute. Have you abandoned that now, trading it for a weaker and undisputed point?

    Are you saying that you cannot discern the fact that an intelligent agent is responsible for a written paragraph?

    When did I say or imply that? Please quote me.

    Also, please state explicitly what you mean by C + D since I am not following your discussion with others nor am I making any references to measurement at the moment.

    Sorry, that was a brain cramp on my part. I meant C+N.

    Are you saying that natural forces cannot create chip marks?

    Okay, I’ll be more explicit: chip marks that are characteristic of human flintknapping.

  151. Paul Giem @140

    A lot of water has gone under the bridge since I was able to respond to you last.

    Thanks for re-engaging. I’m going to try to address the highlights and essential comments in your long post. If you feel I’ve elided something important, please let me know.

    First, it might be helpful to review what we agreed on. In #79 I asked,

    “Can humans do things that nature without humans is for all practical purposes incapable of doing?”

    You replied (#80)

    Well summarized. Clearly the answer is yes, although the quibble is that “nature without humans” isn’t all of nature if one accepts the assumptions of the methodological naturalists.

    I pointed out the invalidity of your quibble in #81:

    The quibble that “nature without humans” isn’t all of nature if one accepts the assumptions of methodological naturalism is truly a quibble. Nature without humans exists now on Saturn and all of its moons besides Titan. Except for a few localized spots (which will stay localized if we sterilized the probes properly), it exists on Mars. Six million years ago, by anyone’s reckoning, it existed everywhere. So yes, this is definitely whining over details that are irrelevant.

    I don’t understand how this addresses the issue at all. My primary point in this whole thread has been that, if we want to refute Barbara Forrest’s natural / supernatural dichotomy, we need to be able to clearly and objectively demonstrate that human intelligence is not a natural phenomena. Talking about “nature aside from human intelligence” avoids that core issue.

    Nature without humans, however, seems to be practically limited to 2 neutral mutations at a time. That is what the Behe-Snokes paper calculates, and that is what The Edge of Evolution argues for on observational grounds. And it fits the Lenski experiment as far as we know.

    You replied,

    Your “at a time” observation is crucial. MET mechanisms preserve beneficial, and even neutral, mutations. As long as the number of possible simultaneous mutations is greater than zero, MET mechanisms can work. (The question of how far such mechanisms can go is separate, and more interesting.)

    This is inaccurate. MET mechanisms do not preserve neutral mutations, without using a strained meaning of “preserve”.

    Actually, they do. Some biologists argue that this is more influential in the resulting organisms than is positive selection. Look up “genetic drift” and related topics for more detail.

    The next statement, “As long as the number of possible simultaneous mutations is greater than zero, MET mechanisms can work.” suggests a profound misunderstanding. If you had phrased it “might theoretically work”, it would have been accurate. But the problem is not a theoretically possible pathway. The problem is that, in the case of higher animals, the pathway needs to be advantageous at each step, as even one neutral mutation will cause the process to stall out.

    As noted above, this is not an accurate statement.

    For bacteria, more than one disadvantageous mutation will cause the process to stall out.

    Nor is this.

    The Behe and Snokes paper demonstrated that.

    In fact, the Behe-Snoke paper showed that, even with the pessimistic assumptions that they made, the probability of multi-residue features arising is relatively high. There are numerous discussions of this paper on the Web that point out this result.

    The problem is that we know of some non-Darwinian pathways.

    I’ve been careful to refer to modern evolutionary theory (MET) mechanisms rather than Darwin’s original theory. What non-MET pathways, if any, are you referring to?

    One of them leads to chloroquine resistance in malaria parasites, and is documented in The Edge of Evolution. One of them involves the HIV virus, and was rubbed in Behe’s face (unjustly, IMO). Another one is apparently the Lenski citrate transport mechanism. And another one is apparently the nylonase enzyme (I’m still looking at this last one).

    How are these the result of non-MET mechanisms?

    You quote me,

    So large-scale evolution appears to require an intelligence at least equal to that of humans

    and say,

    That doesn’t follow. In fact, if we accept the methodological naturalist assumptions, for the sake of argument, the ability of natural processes to produce something as complex as human intelligence suggests that other forms of complexity, such as biological constructs, are well within the capabilities of those same processes.

    The bland denial (”That doesn’t follow”) makes no attempt to explain why.

    I beg to differ. I pointed out in the very next sentences, which you quoted, exactly why your claim doesn’t follow from your premise.

    If humans, and therefore presumably human-like intelliigences, are capable of creating genetic changes at will, and nature without humans appears to be stymied at 3 neutral/deleterious mutations for microorganisms and 2 neutral/deleterious mutations for large mammals, and evidence for Darwinian (no neutral mutation) pathways to new proteins appears to be lacking after careful search, then the idea that large-scale evolution appears to require intelligence does seem to be justified, at least as a tentative conclusion given the presently available evidence.

    First, you haven’t demonstrated that nature is “stymied” at any of these points. MET mechanisms have been shown both in the lab and in the real world to exceed these limits.

    Second, you are assuming your conclusion. If, as assumed by methodological naturalism, human intelligence is a natural phenomena, then natural processes are sufficient to create the levels of complexity we observe in nature. To support the idea that natural processes cannot generate intelligence, we need real scientific evidence. To support the idea that the complexity we observe in biological systems requires intelligence, we need to show where the edge of evolution lies.

    I believe it is a rich area for research, but we haven’t made the case yet.

    JJ

  152. StephenB:

    No, they (materialists) insist that minds and wills emerge from material phenomena.

    That is incorrect. Materialists make no provision for minds or wills.

    Can you cite a materialist who denies the existence of minds and wills? (As they define the terms, not as you define them.)

    It is not a case of the “true Scotsmen syndrome.” In fact, there really are objective standards for rationality and some people do not meet them.

    Yes, the objective standard is formal logic, which you have not presented. Your accusations of irrationality are directed to those who don’t share your metaphysic. If you could formally prove your beliefs, then they would fall under math/science rather than metaphysics.

  153. Upright BiPed @141

    Chance and necessity have never been observed (in any circumstance whatsoever, or under any scientific discipline) that can account for the highly organized and selective functionality observed in nucleic sequencing.

    Once again you go back to begging the question.

    You are still saying, in effect, “Human intelligence generates complex functional systems, we observe complex functionality in biological systems, therefore biological systems require intelligence to arise.”

    Can you honestly not see how illogical this is?

    The quick response that a methodological naturalist like Forrest would make to your claim is “Of course we have an example of natural processes creating complex functionality. Just look at any biological system.” They then go and research how that happens.

    We need to do the same, to show the real limits of natural mechanism and, hopefully, determine the mechanisms used by the designer.

    JJ

  154. kairosfocus:

    Namely, natural = chance + necessity acting on material objects etc, while intelligence produces artificial or technical items when they act on same objects

    By contrasting chance+necessity with intelligence, you’re again begging the question. Are you honestly not able to see this?

  155. kairosfocus @146

    Then the onward chain of reasoning is simple: we have abundant evidence that intelligent agents do produce FSCI, and we have no good cases where we observe chance + necessity doing so.

    [JM, responds, 134:] You keep repeating this, but have never supported it. Unless you can demonstrate that human intelligence is non-natural in some sense, then the results of human intelligence are the results of natural processes .

    KF, you responded at great length, but nowhere in your post did you simply address the question. You claim is unfounded and constitutes begging the question. You can’t simply say “Human intelligence generates complexity, there is complexity in the genome, therefore the genome is a product of intelligence.”

    If you could, please, briefly provide any references to any empirical evidence that supports your claim, then we could discuss it seriously. Until then, it is simply a logical fallacy.

    JJ

  156. JayM

    “Can you honestly not see how illogical this is?”

    Neither chance nor necessity have never been observed creating FSCI – trying to push into evidence that we can see it in biology is assuming your conclusion.

    …yet

    The methodological naturalists have thousands of peer reviewed papers published annually regarding new discoveries of the natural mechanisms underlying intelligence.

    Philosophical materialism allows no other conclusions. Can you honestly not see how illogical this is?

    You assume your conclusions without a moment of pause.

    - – - – -

    By the way, do you intend to continue to ignore the research paper I posted. You had made the comment that you knew of no such research, so I was just wondering about the integrity of your claim.

  157. JayM (#151),

    Thanks for your response.

    You avoided commenting on what you called a “quibble” earlier. The question which I asked still stands. Once we reach agreement on it, we can move on. Can humans do things that nature without humans is for all practical purposes incapable of doing?

    The question is not intended to assume any judgments about whether humans are or are not a part of nature in some technical sense. Nor is it intended to assume the nature of intelligence, or, for that matter, even its existence. Nor does it assume methodological or philosophical naturalism or their negations. All it assumes is that (a) humans exist and (b) nature without humans exists. As I noted, at a maximum of some 6 million years ago, the latter was universal. It is still true for much of the solar system. So neither (a) nor (b) is hypothetical.

    Now just a yes or no answer without quibbling, and we can proceed.
    _________

    Your comment

    My primary point in this whole thread has been that, if we want to refute Barbara Forrest’s natural / supernatural dichotomy, we need to be able to clearly and objectively demonstrate that human intelligence is not a natural phenomena.

    avoids the real issue of the post. DeWolf was contrasting “natural” and “intelligent”. Forrest immediately stated that the only valid contrast that could be made is between the natural and the supernatural, strongly implying if not stating that DeWolf was in error. This is valid only if you answer “no” to my previous question. If you say “yes”, then it seems clear that Forrest made an error, precisely the one DaveScot identified. A simple statement to that effect by you would clarify the issue. Then we could pursue all the side issues, or further implications, we wanted.

    Right now there seems to be a lot of spin. One exception is KF (#146) who points out in paragraph 5 that he is not assuming anything in his arguments about the ultimate origin of human or any other intelligence. I hope you can be as clear about your dependence or lack thereof on philosophical naturalism, and the distinction, if any, in your mind between philosophical and methodological naturalism.

    Once we get the spin out, we can discuss the evidence. Until then, there is no point in giving evidence. I can point out that MET (which I interpreted as mechanistic evolutionary theory, although there probably isn’t any difference) mechanisms do not preserve neutral mutations, without using a strained meaning of “preserve”. You simply deny it, and ask me to look up genetic drift and related topics, as if I were not familiar with them. Other than natural selection, no preservation as I defined it takes place. The other mechanisms are strictly laissez faire, and can only be said to preserve genetic variants in a passive, as opposed to an active, role. But you’re so busy spinning that you can’t agree with this simple concept.

    You may object to the word “spin”. But I don’t know how else to characterize the egregious series of statements you made near the end:

    Second, you are assuming your conclusion. If, as assumed by methodological naturalism, human intelligence is a natural phenomena, then natural processes are sufficient to create the levels of complexity we observe in nature. To support the idea that natural processes cannot generate intelligence, we need real scientific evidence. To support the idea that the complexity we observe in biological systems requires intelligence, we need to show where the edge of evolution lies.

    You accuse me of assuming my conclusion, and as evidence (I guess; it’s the only evidence you give), assume the conclusion of “methodological naturalism”, in actuality philosophical naturalism, as a rebuttal. That’s chutzpah. Of course, if they are right, then they are right. The question is, are they right in the first place?

    You then tell me that we need real scientific evidence to support the idea that natural processes cannot generate intelligence. It is possible this that idea can be supported. But that was not what I was trying to do. Rather, I was focusing solely on your second statement, that “To support the idea that the complexity we observe in biological systems requires intelligence, we need to show where the edge of evolution lies.” The fact that you could not see this suggests poor reading and comprehension skills. I would prefer to think that these are remediable.

    You have more denials, all easily accounted for by spin, none backed up well. If we are to reach any kind of agreement, we will need to go very slowly.

    First, have you personally read the Behe-Snoke paper? Do you understand what it says? Do you understand the criticisms of it? Do you understand the response of Behe and Snoke to the criticisms? What I am basically asking is whether you are thinking your own thoughts, as opposed to simply repeating what someone else says without personally checking it out. If you are, then we can discuss. If you are not, then you need to indicate whether you want to. If so, original links can be found here (comments 60—the original article–and 22–Lynch’s reply and Behe and Snoke’s response). If not, then we’ll just have a spin contest, in which I have no desire to partake.

  158. I find this discussion fascinating. I ask that Paul Giem and JayM please ignore me if I am intruding on their dialog, but I was wondering what issue was at stake in Paul’s question:

    The question which I asked still stands. Once we reach agreement on it, we can move on. Can humans do things that nature without humans is for all practical purposes incapable of doing?

    To me, for the little that it may be worth, the answer is obviously ‘yes.’ I doubt that nature without humans is capable of producing an aircraft carrier or a Honda Accord.

    I hope that helps.

  159. 159

    Adel,

    JayM is in complete disagreement with you. He states that IF intelligence comes from natural causes (chance + necessity), THEN human intelligence is the result of natural causes. He draws no distinction between a circuit board and a sand dune.

    He is not expected to refine his argument.

    What he fails to respond to is: 1) that the premise is speculation, 2) that the conclusion of the premise is based on the previous speculation, 3) that it is not falsifiable

    Apparently he is also quite comfortable with a system of inquiry – one that only allows a single answer – to surprisingly come up with that answer, and to have that answer form the basis of all further inquiry.

  160. Adel (#158),

    Thanks for your input. It is to be hoped that JayM follows suit.

    Upright BiPed (#159),

    Let’s not judge JayM before he makes his comment. Once before, a long time ago in posts (#80), he was almost ready to give an unqualified “yes”. I am giving him another opportunity and don’t want it foreclosed unless and until he chooses to do so.

  161. —–Rob: “It’s the “you can distinguish between human agency and law/chance” part that’s in dispute.

    When you distinguish the sand castle from the other elements on the beach, you have distinguished agency from law and chance. Just as when you separate the written paragraph from lucky noise, you have distinguished between human agency and law/chance. I can’t imagine why you would call that a dispute.

    I wrote, Are you saying that you cannot discern the fact that an intelligent agent is responsible for a written paragraph?

    —-You wrote, “When did I say or imply that? Please quote me.”

    I asked you a question. A question is not an assertion. The question persists. I will rephrase it: Do you believe that you can discern intelligent agency from a written paragraph?

    “Sorry, that was a brain cramp on my part. I meant C+N.”

    No problem. I don’t fuss over typos. I want to know what you mean with your abbreviations.

    —–“Okay, I’ll be more explicit: chip marks that are characteristic of human flintknapping.

    Fine. So, do you accept that fact that human “flintknapping” constitutes human agency?

  162. 162

    Paul Giem, I am happy to step out of the way.

    Regards

  163. —–JayM: “Your willingness to leap to assumptions based on your biases is showing. I have never claimed that human intelligence is either natural or non-natural.”

    Well, we can certainly clear that up right now. Do you assert that human intelligence is natural or non-natural?

    —–“Methodological naturalists such as Forrest, by definition, claim that human intelligence is the result of natural processes. If you want to demonstrate that Forrest’s arguments are invalid, you must show that human intelligence is not a natural phenomena. You keep asserting it, but have provided absolutely no support for your assertions.

    ID defines human intelligence as a non-natural phenomenon, so I hardly need to prove that ID’s definition is ID’s definition. Barbara Forrest’s breach is in refusing to honor ID’s definition, revising it, and the criticizing ID for not verifying it.

    —–”As noted in that discussion, I find the refusal to discuss the nature of the designer scientifically indefensible and ethically questionable. I would like to see the ID movement take the high ground. That’s far more supportive of the goals of ID than your preference for us to be disingenuous.”

    There is nothing disingenuous about making a design inference. On the other hand, asking ID to provide a mechanistic model for an innovative phenomenon is misguided.

    —–“For the record, I do think that design can be detected in principle. but CSI and other measurements currently being suggested are not sufficiently rigorous to do so. Again, I am supporting ID by encouraging the improvement of these tools, not just whining about how the real scientists won’t take us seriously.”

    Why do you think that design can be detected?

    —–“Excellent, we’re finally back on topic. Please provide the proof, or at least support for the idea, that human intelligence is not a natural phenomena. The methodological naturalists have thousands of peer reviewed papers published annually regarding new discoveries of the natural mechanisms underlying intelligence. We need to do more than simply claim “No, it isn’t.”

    Let’s start with the written paragraph and the sand castle. Do you agree that (either) or both are the product of human agency? What do you think of the 500 or more information bits in this paragraph and the probability that it could be a chance event? Do you think that 300 information bits would be less likely or more likely to occur by chance? What do you think of the idea that a 2,000,000 grain sand castle is less likely to occur from natural forces that say, a 1,000,000 grain sand castle?

  164. —-Rob: “Can you cite a materialist who denies the existence of minds and wills? (As they define the terms, not as you define them.)”

    Try these:

    From Daniel Dennett: “The mind is somehow nothing but a physical phenomenon. In short, the mind is the brain…”

    From Steven Pinker: “Nothing in the mind exists except as neural activity” (1997b, emp. added).

    From B.A. Farrel: “A human being is a modulator of pulse frequencies, and nothing more”

    From: Jerome Elberta: “I do maintain that ‘mental events can be reduced to brain events’

  165. Rob and JM:

    Please, please. Stop playing at turnabout rhetoric; it only implicates you both further in self-referential absurdity.

    1–> We have certain facts in hand that are puzzling. Alternative explanations are on offer,and we need to see which is best,a cross factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

    2 –> In this case, we know, per direct observation and experience, that intelligence [cf Glossary] exists. And, that intelligence produces artifacts, which often manifest characteristic signs, e.g. FSCI, IC, oracular and algorithmically active information, etc.

    3 –> We also know that three categories of causal factors exist and may affect a given situation, chance, necessity, design. [The example of a dropped, tumbling then settling die that you both made such heavy weather of, simply and familiarly shows this. The situation of the dropped die also shows that C, N, D are not simply and directly reducible the one to the other.]

    4 –> We are dealing with directly and reproducibly observable situations and facts now. No assumptions or assertions have been made on ultimate origins, so no Q’s have been begged. (And, have you built Johnson counters and the like and played with feedback networks to get PRBS’s? I have. they are a case of directed contingency, so, design. yes, if of sufficient length and if the tests of randomness are not on sufficiently long strings to see the repeat or the pattern, they will look random, and can be used as random for a lot of useful pruposes. but that has to do with focussign on a specific aspect,and the point that the ID EF will — by its design — give false NEGATIVES, but is reliable when it rules positively, i.e. this is an irrelevancy.)

    5 –> So far we have the idea that: [a] necessity produces natural, low-contingency regularities, [b] undirected contingency or chance produces randomness (which can be tested within reason), [c] intelligence can mimic a and b but often produces certain signs, e.g. FSCI. (And, this post is an example of FSCI. Cf glossary and WAC list for more.)

    6 –> Now, let us shift frame, from [i] natural philosophy producing well-warranted though provisional knowledge of the present per inference to best explanation across competing hyps on C, N, D, to (ii) models of natural history, i.e from operations to origins science.

    7 –> Key shift: we were not there, so we do not directly observe, and the past is unrepeatable as well. Warrant shifts in its strength, downwards. Explanations of the remote past of origins, are inherently less well warranted than models of the present, where we can do predictions and tests with observations at will.

    [ . . . ]

  166. 8 –> Building a model of the past. If we use Newton’s uniformity principle — a nice, Creationist Principle at the heart of his Principia in the General Scholium) i.e. God’s universal dominion leads to universal LAWS of nature (mechanical and moral like . . . ) — we expect that C,N, D are also all possible causal factors in the past. So, we naturally look to the EF to discern where aspects of the past that leave traces in present objects and processes were shaped by C, N, D.

    9 –> But, Bible-thumping Creationists — Newton too? — are “theocratic, terroristic, deceitful fundy dummies who are anti-science”; so let’s look instead to Lewontin and the US NAS adn NSTA for guidance. For we want to be “well-prepared for the rigors of higher education or the demands of an increasingly complex and technologically-driven world”:

    [KSES, 2001 and 2007:] “Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us.”

    10 –> H’mm: So, can we consider all three empiriclaly established causal factors on origins, to try to find the uncensored truth about the cosmos’ origin?

    11 –> A: Not unless you can show ahead of time that designers came about by C + N, i.e., in a materialistic world!

    12 –> Q: But, what if we have presently observed signs of intelligence in the origin of life [DNA code and code-executing machinery and algorithms etc] and in the fine-tuned physics and the cosmos to facilitate C-chemistry based life? [Doesn't that on inference to best explanation point to design, per our experience of such FSCI and function-enabling IC?]

    13 –> A: the opposite of “natural” is “supernatural” and you have tried to inject the supernatural into science, you creationist in a cheap tuxedo, you!

    14 –> Q: But, doesn’t Mr Dave Scot’s thesaurus that he wants to send to Ms Forrest tell us that “If we go to a thesaurus and look up the word natural we find listed among the antonyms the words technological and artificial. Notably we do not find the word supernatural listed as an antonym”? Doesn’t that mean that artificial or technological or intelligent or design are empirically observed alternatives to natural in the sense of “tracing to chance + necessity spontaneously acting in our world”?

    15 –> A: here is the ruling of the official NAS-approved Magisterium: “You are hereby expelled!

    ____________

    See my point, gentlemen?

    GEM of TKI

  167. Upright BiPed @156

    Neither chance nor necessity have never been observed creating FSCI – trying to push into evidence that we can see it in biology is assuming your conclusion.

    You keep repeating this, without ever addressing the core problems with your claim:

    1) FSCI is not a rigorously defined concept.

    2) If human intelligence is a natural phenomena (note carefully the word “if” — you frequently overlook it) then FSCI has been observed to be the result of natural phenomena (“chance and necessity” in your words).

    3) Even if you manage to rigorously define FSCI, and demonstrate that it exists in biological systems, you still need to prove that it is uniquely the product of intelligence. The fact that it, supposedly, is generated by humans and exists in the genome suggests that it is not unique to human intelligence.

    You are assuming your conclusion, again.

    By the way, do you intend to continue to ignore the research paper I posted. You had made the comment that you knew of no such research, so I was just wondering about the integrity of your claim.

    Thank you for the reference. My original request for a cite was based on your claim that:

    A rational interpretation of the EVIDENCE shows that an input of organization at the nucleic level is a virtual necessity, and is (far and away) the explanation of living tissue that carries the greatest parsimony with all other evidence on the matter.

    I suspect that this is what the evidence will show when more research is done into the “edge of evolution” but I am unaware of any significant evidence that shows intelligence is a “virtual necessity.”

    The paper you cite doesn’t provide any evidence whatsoever to support that claim. In fact, I found the paper to be full of unsupported assertions and precious little math. The authors even admit that quantifying their information measures is difficult, and they make no effort to address this difficulty.

    Frankly, that paper makes me question the peer review process at Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling. I also noted that, even though this article was published in August of 2005, it has only one cite by other articles in the PubMed database, and that by Kirk Durston. Clearly it hasn’t had any real impact.

    You mentioned when you provided the reference that “there are others.” Could you please provide those others? This one is unimpressive.

    JJ

  168. Paul Giem @157

    The question which I asked still stands. Once we reach agreement on it, we can move on. Can humans do things that nature without humans is for all practical purposes incapable of doing?

    The question is not intended to assume any judgments about whether humans are or are not a part of nature in some technical sense. Nor is it intended to assume the nature of intelligence, or, for that matter, even its existence. Nor does it assume methodological or philosophical naturalism or their negations. All it assumes is that (a) humans exist and (b) nature without humans exists. As I noted, at a maximum of some 6 million years ago, the latter was universal. It is still true for much of the solar system. So neither (a) nor (b) is hypothetical.

    In fact, though, your question as phrased does make some metaphysical assumptions. It cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. I will attempt, again, to explain my view.

    Please note that I am trying to address the issues raised by the original post in this thread, namely Barbara Forrest’s natural / supernatural dichotomy. In order to do that, I am accepting methodological naturalism for the sake of argument, since that is her world view. This thread is already long enough without getting into a separate debate on that issue.

    So, can humans do things that nature without humans cannot? The two possible answers in this metaphysical context are “No.” and “I don’t know.” The first comes from the fact that human intelligence is presumed to be a natural phenomena, so there is no reason to presume that other natural phenomena, or other forms of intelligence, that can accomplish the same goals as human intelligence do not exist.

    The “I don’t know.” answer is based on the fact that we don’t know of any other natural phenomena that produce the same results as human intelligence, but such phenomena are not ruled out a priori by methodological naturalism. After all, we have one example of human-like intelligence, why should there not be more?

    Now, if your question were “Can we detect the results of human intelligence, even if that intelligence is purely a natural phenomena?” then the answer is, of course, yes. Anthropologists do this all the time by drawing on their understanding of humans to distinguish between natural rocks and arrowheads, for example. It is obviously possible to distinguish between the results of natural phenomena like earthquakes and volcanos as well.

    We’ll make more progress in this discussion if you drop the pseudo-Socratic approach you’re attempting and just state your case. That approach is fun for the person playing Socrates (until the hemlock moment) but in practice it is a rhetorical trick to attempt to assume a position of authority. Let’s instead treat one another as colleagues discussing interesting ideas. What, exactly, are you trying to get at here? How do you refute Forrest’s dichotomy?

    JJ

  169. Paul Giem @157

    I can point out that MET (which I interpreted as mechanistic evolutionary theory, although there probably isn’t any difference) mechanisms do not preserve neutral mutations, without using a strained meaning of “preserve”. You simply deny it, and ask me to look up genetic drift and related topics, as if I were not familiar with them.

    With all due respect, if you were familiar with them you would not have made the incorrect claim you did. Further, I did not simply deny it, I pointed you to the correct search terms to rectify your misunderstanding. I also suggest the term “fixation of neutral mutations” which brings up some good references.

    JJ

  170. Adel DiBagno @158

    I find this discussion fascinating. I ask that Paul Giem and JayM please ignore me if I am intruding on their dialog,

    Jump in, the water’s fine!

    but I was wondering what issue was at stake in Paul’s question:

    The question which I asked still stands. Once we reach agreement on it, we can move on. Can humans do things that nature without humans is for all practical purposes incapable of doing?

    To me, for the little that it may be worth, the answer is obviously ‘yes.’ I doubt that nature without humans is capable of producing an aircraft carrier or a Honda Accord.

    I hope that helps.

    I went into this in more detail in my response to Paul, but the short version is that of course some results of human intelligence can be distinguished from other natural processes. That does not mean that human intelligence is somehow non-natural (although it may be), nor does it mean that human intelligence is the only way to achieve those results. Within the strictures of methodological naturalism, human intelligence is assumed to be a natural phenomena, so there is no reason to assume that other natural phenomena couldn’t result in other forms of intelligence.

    This is why none of the claims regarding human intelligence thus far refute Forrest’s natural / supernatural dichotomy.

    JJ

  171. StephenB @163

    Methodological naturalists such as Forrest, by definition, claim that human intelligence is the result of natural processes. If you want to demonstrate that Forrest’s arguments are invalid, you must show that human intelligence is not a natural phenomena. You keep asserting it, but have provided absolutely no support for your assertions.

    ID defines human intelligence as a non-natural phenomenon, so I hardly need to prove that ID’s definition is ID’s definition. Barbara Forrest’s breach is in refusing to honor ID’s definition, revising it, and the criticizing ID for not verifying it.

    The fact that some ID proponents simply define human intelligence non-natural is the problem that Forrest is pointing out. Whether or not human intelligence is non-natural is a fact, not a matter of definition. From Forrest’s methodological naturalism point of view, human intelligence is clearly a natural phenomena. If you want to refute her natural / supernatural dichotomy, you need to show the difference, not merely repeatedly assert it.

    JJ

  172. H’mm:

    Re JM @ 167: FSCI is not a rigorously defined concept . . .

    of course, LIFE is not a rigorously defined concept, which does not prevent us from recognising, working with and even scientifically sudying cases thereof, but . . .

    1 –> OOL research circa 1970′s – 80′s:

    Living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; mixtures of random polymers [i.e. tars] fail to qualify because they lack specificity.6 [Source: L.E. Orgel, 1973. The Origins of Life. New York: John Wiley, p. 189.]

    Yockey7 and Wickens5 develop the same distinction, that “order” is a statistical concept referring to regularity such as could might characterize a series of digits in a number, or the ions of an inorganic crystal. On the other hand, “organization” refers to physical systems and the specific set of spatio-temporal and functional relationships among their parts. Yockey and Wickens note that informational macromolecules [e.g. DNA] have a low degree of order but a high degree of specified complexity. In short, the redundant order of crystals cannot give rise to specified complexity of the kind or magnitude found in biological organization; attempts to relate the two have little future. [TBO, TMLO Ch 8, 1984, summarising OOL researchers

    2 --> Trevors & Abel, 2005 -- BB peer-reviewed:

    Three qualitative kinds of sequence complexity exist: random (RSC), ordered (OSC), and functional (FSC). [Cf TA's fig 4] FSC alone provides algorithmic instruction. [e.g. DNA, text strings in a blog post . . . ] Random and Ordered Sequence Complexities lie at opposite ends of the same bi-directional sequence complexity vector. Randomness in sequence space is defined by a lack of Kolmogorov algorithmic compressibility. A sequence is compressible because it contains redundant order and patterns. Law-like cause-and-effect determinism produces highly compressible order. Such forced ordering precludes both information retention and freedom of selection so critical to algorithmic programming and control. Functional Sequence Complexity requires this added programming dimension of uncoerced selection at successive decision nodes in the string . . . FSC is invariably associated with all forms of complex biofunction, including biochemical pathways, cycles, positive and negative feedback regulation, and homeostatic metabolism. The algorithmic programming of FSC, not merely its aperiodicity, accounts for biological organization. No empirical evidence exists of either RSC of OSC ever having produced a single instance of sophisticated biological organization. Organization invariably manifests FSC rather than successive random events (RSC) or low-informational self-ordering phenomena (OSC).

    [ . . . ]

  173. 3 –> Durston et al, 2007:

    The measure of Functional Sequence Complexity,denoted as Z, is defined as the change in functional uncer-tainty from the ground state H(Xg(ti)) to the functional state H(Xf(ti)), or

    Z = [delta]H (Xg(ti), Xf(tj)) . . . Eqn 6 [Using Z for zeta] [P. 4] . . . .

    Consider that there are usually only 20 different amino acids possible per site for proteins, Eqn. (6) can be used to calculate a maximum Fit value/protein amino acid site of
    4.32 Fits/site [NB: - log2 (20) = 4.32]. We use the formula log (20) – H(Xf) to cal-culate the functional information at a site specified by the variable Xf
    such that Xf corresponds to the aligned amino acids of each sequence with the same molecular function f [putt he chains in parallel with aa codes laid out in cols by corresponding sites]. The measured FSC for the whole protein is then calcu-lated as the summation of that for all aligned sites. The number of Fits quantifies the degree of algorithmic chal-lenge, in terms of probability, in achieving needed meta-bolic function . . . .

    A high Fit value for individual sites within a protein indicates sites that require a high degree of functional information. High Fit values may also point to the key structural or binding sites within the overall 3-D structure. Since the functional uncertainty, as defined by Eqn(1) is proportional to the -log of the probability, we can see that the cost of a linear increase in FSC is an exponential decrease in probability.

    note, this table gives 35, empirically based FSC measurements in Fits; in a peer-reviewed context.

    4 –> Simple approach (KF):

    a] Let contingency [C] be defined as 1/0 by comparison with a suitable exemplar, e.g. a tossed die. [If 0, you have an ordered not a random or functional sequence, e.g. a crystal.]

    b] Let specificity [S] be identified as 1/0 through functionality [FS] or by compressibility of description of the information [KS] or similar means. [A functionally specified sequence will be OBSERVED as functioning, e.g. text in English, DNA coding for protein. If 0, observed as non-functional.]

    c] Let degree of complexity [B] be defined by the quantity of bits to store the relevant information, with 500 – 1,000 bits serving as the threshold for “probably” to “morally certainly” sufficiently complex to meet the FSCI/CSI threshold. [How many bits info storage capacity are used in carrying out the observed function? E.g. DNA in life sysrtems that are independent, 300 - 500 k bases up, or minimum 600 k bits. if less t5han the suitable threshold, say 1,000 bits, set B = 0, otherwise B = no of functional bits.]

    d] Define the vector {C, S, B} based on the above [as we would take distance travelled and time required, D and t], and take the element product C*S*B [as we would take the ratio D/t to get speed].

    e] Now we identify: C*S*B = X, the required FSCI/CSI-metric in [functionally] specified bits.

    –> this crude but practical metric in effect will have to be functional and non-contingent, and above 500 – 1,000 bits to count.

    –> A post in this thread of more than 143 ASCII characters will qualify as relevantly functionally specific and complex. A fgreat many cases of such that are produced by intelligence exist; nil have been seriously put that arte known not to be produced, directly or indirectly by intleligence, and are of KNOWN origin.

    –> FSCI is both sufficiently well defined to be measured in several ways, and it is a known artifact of intelligence.
    ______________

    BOTTOMLINE: repeated insistence on denial does not turn a fact into a falsehood, JM. Same for the FACT that “natural vs artificial” is at least as reasonable a contrast as “natural vs supernatural.”

    So, to insist that FSCI is insufficiently defined to be useful is selective hyperskepticism. And, to insist that by claiming that the only “real” contrast to “natural” is supernatural, is to impose materialist censorship on science.

    That LEWONTINIAN MATERIALIST CENSORSHIP subverts origins science from being an unfettered investigation of the truth on origins based on empirical evidence and well-warranted inductions applied to inferences to best explanation — no questions are being begged, just we refuse to allow improper censorship of factors — in light of the known relevant causal factors: chance, lawlike necessity, design.

    GEM of TKI

  174. When you distinguish the sand castle from the other elements on the beach, you have distinguished agency from law and chance. Just as when you separate the written paragraph from lucky noise, you have distinguished between human agency and law/chance. I can’t imagine why you would call that a dispute.

    So we’re still at square 1.

    Do you believe that you can discern intelligent agency from a written paragraph?

    Yes, according to my understanding of “intelligent agency”, which to me entails the ability to make choices and act on them. Note that this definition is functional, not metaphysical. That is, it’s independent of any materialism vs. immaterialism and liberatianism vs. compatibilism issues. I imagine that your usage of the term is different — thus the impasse.

    So, do you accept that fact that human “flintknapping” constitutes human agency?

    Absolutely. Again, that’s according to my understanding of the term “human agency”.

  175. PS: On TA’s Fig 4:

    1] X-Axis — complexity — OSC is low-end, RSC is hi end, FSCi s neasr but less than RSC.

    2] Y-Axis — Algorithmic compressibility: OSC — HIGH, RSC v low, FSC — intermediate, but nearer to RSC.

    3] Z-Axis — Algorithmic function: OSC & RSC low, FSC — by observation, high.

  176. I’m going to rudely butt into JayM’s conversation, and make a few comments.

    StephenB:

    Do you assert that human intelligence is natural or non-natural?

    Given the statement below, that question is analytic rather than synthetic.

    ID defines human intelligence as a non-natural phenomenon, so I hardly need to prove that ID’s definition is ID’s definition.

    If ID has its own definition of human intelligence, then that explains a lot of miscommunications.

    Barbara Forrest’s breach is in refusing to honor ID’s definition, revising it, and the criticizing ID for not verifying it.

    Perhaps Barabara Forrest’s definition of supernatural includes non-natural phenomena. Most people don’t restrict the term to include only the divine, as ID does. So will you honor Forrest’s definition?

  177. Rob:

    Re: according to my understanding of “intelligent agency”, which to me entails the ability to make choices and act on them. Note that this definition is functional, not metaphysical.

    Now, let’s add a few steps and see where that takes us:

    1 –> Such observed intelligent choices impose a directed contingency on finite arrangements of matter.

    2 –> Where the choices make a functional difference to an entity, they identify islands [and archipelagos] of function in a config space. (E.g. ASCII text in a para in English, not either a single letter of short sequence recycled, or a random text string.]

    3 –> When sufficient storage capacity is required to hold this, that the config space explodes to a point where the islands of function are v. hard to find on random search [per needle in a haystack], it is reasonable to accept that the routine ability of intelligence to get to the islands is a sign of intelligence at work.

    4 –> Thus, we see that FSCI is a sign of intelligence, one that is in fact per test cases, routinely exemplified by known intelligences and NOT exemplified by random search strategies or deterministic laws. (Take this as a testable hyp, a point of potential but not actualised so far falsification.)

    5 –> Now, we have no reason to believe that we exhaust actual or possible intelligences, or that other intelligences would never produce FSCI.

    6 –> Now, consider cases where we see FSCI, e.g. DNA digital data strings, but for which humans are not possible creators.

    7 –> per inference to best explanation as described in outline above, ID thinkers conclude provisionally that DNA is an artifact of intelligence, but note that we do not have sufficient data otherwise to infer who, what or whether within or beyond the physical cosmos. [This last has ALWAYS been true of ID thought on this, ever since TBO in 1984.]

    9 — On another candidate case, ID thinkers observe that the physics of the cosmos is so structured on multiple dimensional fine-tuning that there is a fine-tuned, complex and evidently intelligent order to set up a C-chemistry based life facilitating cosmos. this is also in a context where on evidence that cosmos has had a beginning.

    10 –> So, it is reasonable to infer to an extra-cosmic designer of a cosmos in which life in general is possible. (Observe, this is an INFERENCE, not an assumption, and it is an inference per inductively identified signs of intelligence.)

    So, it seems your apparent inference that there is an a priori metaphysical assumption of the nature and existence of intelligence is a mischaracterisation of the design inference and of the process of reasoning used by design thinkers. In short, you have put up a strawman and have been insisting that it is the real man, despite our many corrections and explanations of why it is not accurate, above.

    GEM of TKI

  178. PS: on a misunderstanding: When SB says that intelligence of humans is non-natural he means in effect that our minds REASON, they are not driven by blind deterministic forces and/or random chance that cause ands control the neural networks in our brains in such a way that the PHYSICS or CHEMISTRY not the reasoned logic and/or personal, active decisions control outcomes. [Recall here Sir Francis Crick's blunder on the point.]

  179. —-JayM: “The fact that some ID proponents simply define human intelligence non-natural is the problem that Forrest is pointing out. Whether or not human intelligence is non-natural is a fact, not a matter of definition. From Forrest’s methodological naturalism point of view, human intelligence is clearly a natural phenomena. If you want to refute her natural / supernatural dichotomy, you need to show the difference, not merely repeatedly assert it.”

    I have pointed out the illogical texture of that comment in the past. Reasserting it does not make it any less logical. If Forrest changes the definition of “natural,” then intelligent design is already ruled out in principle.

    With regard to showing the difference, I have done it several times with the example of the written paragraph and the sand castles. I didn’t choose those examples because of their sophistication, I chose them to illustrate the point that you would reject even the most obvious facts rather than submit to a reasoned argument. That is why you avoid them and that is why I keep bringing them up.

  180. I wrote, So, do you accept that fact that human “flintknapping” constitutes human agency?”

    —-Rob: “Absolutely. Again, that’s according to my understanding of the term “human agency”.

    Well, then you are able to distinquish intelligent agency from law and chance, which is the point of contention.

  181. I ask, Do you assert that human intelligence is natural or non-natural?

    =—Rob, (speaking for JayM:)

    —-”Given the statement below, that question is analytic rather than synthetic.”

    You have been reading too much Kant. Burn the book and start reading G. K. Chesterton.

    —–”If ID has its own definition of human intelligence, then that explains a lot of miscommunications.”

    No, it explains that a scientist or, for that matter, a philosopher needs to define his terms prior to making statements about them. That way everyone can follow his arguments.

    —-”Perhaps Barabara Forrest’s definition of supernatural includes non-natural phenomena. Most people don’t restrict the term to include only the divine, as ID does. So will you honor Forrest’s definition?”

    You misunderstand the entire point. ID’s whole argument is that non-natural CANNOT be restricted to the Divine. Human intelligence is “non natural” by definition. I cannot honor Barbara Forrest’s definition because it was conceived as a redefinition for purposes of confusion and obfuscation. Either that, or she is very dull of mind. I have no way of knowing which is the case.

  182. —-Rob: “Can you cite a materialist who denies the existence of minds and wills? (As they define the terms, not as you define them.)”

    Try these:

    From Daniel Dennett: “The mind is somehow nothing but a physical phenomenon. In short, the mind is the brain…”

    From Steven Pinker: “Nothing in the mind exists except as neural activity” (1997b, emp. added).

    Are you saying that Dennett believes that brains don’t exist, and Pinker believes that neural activity doesn’t exist? Those guys certainly are wacko.

    I ask, Do you assert that human intelligence is natural or non-natural? …

    Let me just ask you straight up: Are you asking him to assert a definition or a belief?

    So, do you accept that fact that human “flintknapping” constitutes human agency?

    —-Rob: “Absolutely. Again, that’s according to my understanding of the term “human agency”.

    Well, then you are able to distinquish intelligent agency from law and chance, which is the point of contention.

    And how do you know that the category of law and chance does not include human agency according to my understanding of the term?

    No, it explains that a scientist or, for that matter, a philosopher needs to define his terms prior to making statements about them. That way everyone can follow his arguments.

    Did DeWolf define the word “natural” before using it so that Forrest would know that supernatural is not its complement?

    I confess that I still don’t know exactly what ID proponents mean when they say natural, material, law+chance, and contingency. I’ve read pretty much all of Dembski’s ID work and I have yet to find anything approaching rigorous definitions for the above. Maybe you can refer me to some literature that provides such definitions?

    To complicate it even further, the words are used inconsistently by different people, and sometimes by the same person at different times. Dembski switches back and forth between different usages of the word “chance”. Barry Arrington insists that contingency means something different than Dembski’s usage.

    You misunderstand the entire point. ID’s whole argument is that non-natural CANNOT be restricted to the Divine. Human intelligence is “non natural” by definition.

    By your definition. How is Forrest supposed to know that? Where, even in the ID literature, is that stated as a definition rather than an assumption?

    I cannot honor Barbara Forrest’s definition because it was conceived as a redefinition for purposes of confusion and obfuscation.

    “Conceived as a redefinition”? Are you saying that Forrest redefined the word ad hoc? Do you think that nobody uses the term supernatural as a complement for natural?

  183. attn: Moderators

    My posts are being delayed for some reason, despite them being far more polite and on topic than DaveScot’s latest screeds. Since I am actively involved in several discussions, I would appreciate you letting me know wh this is the case and the expected length of the delay.

    At a minimum, please make a note in the threads to which I’m contributing so that my correspondents don’t think I’m being deliberately rude.

    Thank you,

    Jay

  184. StephenB:

    Human intelligence is “non natural” by definition.

    I’m going to ask more questions about this, because it cuts to the heart of the quagmire we’re in.

    1) Where did you get this definition?
    2) Do all ID proponents define human intelligence and non-natural this way? Most of them?

    The questions also apply to Barry’s definitions of non-natural and supernatural in the FAQ.

  185. kairosfocus:

    When sufficient storage capacity is required to hold this, that the config space explodes to a point where the islands of function are v. hard to find on random search [per needle in a haystack], it is reasonable to accept that the routine ability of intelligence to get to the islands is a sign of intelligence at work.

    Hardly. Just because a target is hard to find with a random search doesn’t mean that it’s hard to find with a nonrandom or partially random process. A river would have a hard time finding the sea if it randomly sampled the universe, but it has no problem when gravity directs it.

    4 –> Thus, we see that FSCI is a sign of intelligence, one that is in fact per test cases, routinely exemplified by known intelligences and NOT exemplified by random search strategies or deterministic laws. (Take this as a testable hyp, a point of potential but not actualised so far falsification.)

    Ah, there’s the crux.

    First of all, I could just as easily say that we’ve never observed anyone intelligently design complex biological features like brains and life itself, and challenge the ID community to come up with a falsifying counterexample.

    More importantly, at what point does “we’ve never observed X” justify the tentative conclusion that “X never happens”? That’s subjective, and there’s usually lots of data besides “we’ve never observed X” that can be taken into account.

    I personally disagree with the ID community’s implicit assumption that we understand the limits of nature well enough to say that intelligence is irreducible to “C+N”. I don’t think we can say that with any degree of confidence from a scientific standpoint.

    Even if we restrict ourselves to known natural laws*, nature is certainly Turing equivalent, and nobody has ever made a reasonable (IMHO) case that human intelligence is non-computable.

    * The issue really starts to dissolve when we realize that “natural laws” are descriptive, not prescriptive. They are nothing more than compressed descriptions of data from observations. In that sense, everything we observe falls under natural law, by definition. So Dembski’s term “unbroken natural laws” is both redundant and exhaustive.

    I have yet to see an ID proponent come up with a rigorous definition of “nature” or “chance+necessity” that leaves room for anything else. Dembski defines natural causes thusly:

    Natural causes, as the scientific community understands them, are causes that operate according to deterministic and nondeterministic laws and that can be characterized in terms of chance, necessity, or their combination (cf. Jacques Monod’s Chance and Necessity).

    Given that scientific laws are descriptive, and that determinism and nondeterminism are logically exhaustive, the idea of “non-nature” is logically incoherent.

  186. Rob:

    THIS is an example of how the materialist concept of being “natural” is used in this general context, by a leading evolutionary mateialist:

    “You,” your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules . . .[Sir Francis Crick, 1994, The Astonishing Hypothesis]

    Do you see the self-referential incoherence problems here? [Cf discussion here & onward.]

    As to the question of natural vs supernatural, vs natural vs artificial [i.e intelligent], it is sufficient to note that the former is notoriously being used by Lewontinian a priori materialists — including the US’s NAS — to carry through a programme of censorship on origins science; in the further context that, immemorial, we OBSERVE that three main causal factors act in our world: [1] chance, [2] mechanical law, [3] design.

    We have no good reason to exclude any such possibility on origins, and so the trend a la Barbara Forrest to slanderously project inference to supernatural cause where it is easily seen that the actual inference is a differential, inference to best explanation, one across mechanical ones [chance +/or necessity] vs intelligent ones, should be terminated.

    If in a particular context the empirical evidence points to intelligence and a supernatural intelligence is a candidate for the whudunit aspect, that is no business of science qua science.

    So, let us have done with loaded language like the following:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen. [Lewontin, 1997]

    In fact, Lewontin here shows his utter ignorance of say Newton’s views on why there is an intelligible natural order, shown in the laws — meant quote literally by N — emplaced by Pantokrator, in his General Scholium in his epochal Principia.

    GEM of TKI

  187. Rob:

    Kindly examine the logic of the explanatory filter. While you are at it, do so for the logic of the statistical form of the second law of thermodynamics — why it is that we confidently predict a trend towards higher entropy per comparative statistical weights of accessible microstates.

    And, there are two known classes of non-deterministic processes, leading to [a] undirected contingncies [chance and resulting statistical distributions], and [b] directed contingency [design].

    If you want to argue in context that there are laws of nature that channel the chemistry of prebiotic environments towards origin of life, and onward towards the body-plan level biodiversity thereof, what you are saying is that nature is front-loaded and programmed on the grandest level.

    The best explanation for that is . . . design.

    Finally, while we have not seen the origin of life forms, we HAVE seen the origin of the parts of life forms that are of relevant interest — i.e. digital information systems and storage subsystems as are in the heart of the cell.

    They are — per massive observation — the known product of intelligence.

    So, on inference to best, empirically anchored explanation . . .

    GEM of TKI

  188. —-Rob: “Are you saying that Dennett believes that brains don’t exist, and Pinker believes that neural activity doesn’t exist? Those guys certainly are wacko.”

    Rob, first, I explained that materialists don’t believe in “minds,” and then you ask for examples. So, I followed up with examples of four materalist/Darwinists, all of whom reduce mental activity to brain activity. That means, of course, that they are saying that brains exist and minds don’t.

    Still, you ask this: “Are you saying that Dennett believes that brains don’t exist, and Pinker believes that neural activity doesn’t exist?”

    These men, mistakenly I belive, are saying that brains and neural activity not only exist, but that they can explain all mental activity. That is another way of saying that there are no “minds,” which is the original point that I made and the one you chose to contest.

    Question: Are you aware of the distincion between the “brain” as a physical organ and the “mind” as a non-material faculty? Are you acquainted with the mind body/problem in any of its formulations? Are you aware of the larger but related problem of dualistic theism and atheistic monism?

  189. StephenB @180

    I wrote, So, do you accept that fact that human “flintknapping” constitutes human agency?”

    —-Rob: “Absolutely. Again, that’s according to my understanding of the term “human agency”.

    Well, then you are able to distinquish intelligent agency from law and chance, which is the point of contention.

    You assume too much. If we reason from the methodological naturalist perspective, Rob has simply shown that he can distinguish between the results of one natural process and another, in some instances.

    You still haven’t even begun to make your case that human intelligence is “non-natural”, whatever that may mean.

    JJ

  190. Onlookers:

    THIS, stripped of prettyfying, is the “Meth Nat” perspective:

    We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. ,b>It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [Lewontin, 1997, NY Review of Books]

    In case you didn’t get the memo that this is now official dogma, courtesy the US NAS acting as friendly local magisterium, let me cite:

    In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. Any scientific explanation has to be testable — there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it. Unless a proposed explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially count against it, that explanation cannot be subjected to scientific testing. [Science, Evolution and Creationism, 2008, p. 10]

    Translating: (i) explanations must either be in terms of chance + mechanical deterministic forces or else reducing on origin (through materialistic, unguided evolutionary models) to the spontaneous action of such, and (ii) the only possible contrast to “natural” is “supernatural” — strictly verboten!

    And, that of course comes right back, full-circle, to DaveScot above in the original post:

    supernatural isn’t even an antonym for natural. If we go to a thesaurus and look up the word natural we find listed among the antonyms the words technological and artificial. Notably we do not find the word supernatural listed as an antonym.

    Maybe Babs should spend more time improving her vocabulary and less time disproving the assertion that ID is science.

    Of course there’s an alternative explanation here. Perhaps Forrest is well aware that natural/supernatural is a false dichotomy and she’s just an unapologetic liar. In fact that makes more sense as you usually can’t get a PhD without at least a college entrance-level vocabulary.

    So, JM, what do you have to say to that observation by DS?

    GEM of TKI

  191. StephenB:

    Rob, first, I explained that materialists don’t believe in “minds,” and then you ask for examples.

    I asked, as you quoted in your response: “Can you cite a materialist who denies the existence of minds and wills? (As they define the terms, not as you define them.)”

    Are you seriously asserting that Dennett and Pinker are denying the existence of minds as they define the terms, not as you define them?

  192. —JayM: “You still haven’t even begun to make your case that human intelligence is “non-natural”, whatever that may mean.”

    Sorry, but I have made it. You simply shrug it off possibly because you prefer not to accept the testimony of reason. That is why you continually avoid my references to the written paragraph. If you saw the words, “JayM rejects the obvious for ideological reasons,” written in the sand on the planet Mars, you would know that it was a function of human agency.

  193. —-Rob: “Are you seriously asserting that Dennett and Pinker are denying the existence of minds as they define the terms, not as you define them?”

    No, I don’t think that Pinker and Dennett would deny their own definitions. Why would anyone define their terms and then proceed to negate that which they just defined. That is not a well-thought-out question. Originally, I wanted to spare you from that fact, but, since you insist, there it is.

    So, back to business. Do you understand the difference between the brain as a physical organ and the mind as an intellectual faculty?

  194. 1) Where did you get this definition? (Intelligence is “non-natural”)

    ID defines “natural causes” to mean law and chance. Over and above that, they refer to “agency” as the third possible kind of cause. I refer to human agency as “non-natural” to distinguish it from Divine agency, which some call “supernatural,” and “natural,” which refers to law and chance.

    —- Do all ID proponents define human intelligence and non-natural this way? Most of them?

    Most in the ID community don’t need the word “non-natural” to know that human intelligence is neither a “supernatural” cause nor a “natural” cause. So, I use the word “non-natural” to express that category for Darwinists who think that all non-natural causes must also be supernatural causes.

  195. —-JayM: “If we reason from the methodological naturalist perspective”……

    Why would an alleged sympathizer of ID want to reason from the anti-ID position of “methodological naturalism.”

  196. No, I don’t think that Pinker and Dennett would deny their own definitions.

    I didn’t ask whether they denied their own definitions. I asked whether they deny the existence of minds as they define the term. The question still stands.

    I asked for quotes in which materialists do that, and you supposedly provided such quotes. Are you now backpedaling?

    Do you understand the difference between the brain as a physical organ and the mind as an intellectual faculty?

    Yes. Are you acknowledging the validity of defining the mind as an intellectual faculty? Are you willing to interpret the word “mind” that way when other people use it?

    You consider people who don’t share your metaphysic to be irrational. Can you supply quotes that demonstrate their irrationality without applying your own metaphysical definitions to their words?

  197. StephenB:

    1) Where did you get this definition? (Intelligence is “non-natural”)

    ID defines “natural causes” to mean law and chance. Over and above that, they refer to “agency” as the third possible kind of cause.

    You didn’t answer my question. Can you show me where in the ID literature “intelligence” is defined as being non-C+N. Note that I’m not asking where it is asserted to be non-C+N. I want to know if IDists generally define intelligence to be non-C+N.

    So, I use the word “non-natural” to express that category for Darwinists who think that all non-natural causes must also be supernatural causes.

    Whether “all non-natural causes must also be supernatural causes” depends on how one defines “supernatural”. I’ll ask you again, do you think that nobody uses the term as a complement for “natural”?

  198. kairosfocus, #187: I really don’t care about Lewontin’s or Crick’s metaphysical opinions. Sorry. In fact, I don’t care much about metaphysics at all, other than the fact that ID is premised on a specific metaphysic that it tries to pass off as science. And the question of whether the term supernatural includes ID’s non-C+D characterization of intelligence is a one of semantics.

    Kindly examine the logic of the explanatory filter.

    Done. The problems with the EF are a whole other can of worms. But here’s one of them:

    Dembski’s EF logic is premised in the mutual exclusivity of regularity, chance, and design. (See TDI page 49). Dembski repeatedly and explicitly claimed that the three are mutually exclusive. Then, a few months ago, he did an about-face and explicitly said that they are not mutually exclusive, and that he had dispensed with the EF.

    If regularity, chance, and design are well-defined, then why can’t we answer a simple question like whether they’re mutually exclusive?

    And, there are two known classes of non-deterministic processes, leading to [a] undirected contingncies [chance and resulting statistical distributions], and [b] directed contingency [design].

    If undirected contingency and directed contingency are known classes of processes, please point me to the scientific literature that defines them.

    If you want to argue in context that there are laws of nature that channel the chemistry of prebiotic environments towards origin of life, and onward towards the body-plan level biodiversity thereof, what you are saying is that nature is front-loaded and programmed on the grandest level.

    The best explanation for that is . . . design.

    I share your awe, but you need to convert that to a scientific argument if you want it to be considered science.

    Finally, while we have not seen the origin of life forms, we HAVE seen the origin of the parts of life forms that are of relevant interest — i.e. digital information systems and storage subsystems as are in the heart of the cell.

    They are — per massive observation — the known product of intelligence.

    I’m having a hard time thinking of a physical system that can’t be modeled as a “digital information system” or a “storage system”. So you’re going to have narrow your criteria for systems that are “known products of intelligence”.

  199. 199

    Just a reminder….

    There is nothing in any physical evidence supporting ID that anything happened outside of any natural law.

    Try to keep that in mind.

  200. Upright BiPed:

    There is nothing in any physical evidence supporting ID that anything happened outside of any natural law.

    My understanding is that ID defines intelligence to operate outside of natural law. Can you help me out here, StephenB?

  201. We’ve hit the 200-mark, so I’m guessing that this thread will become passe’ pretty soon. I just want to summarize the point that I’ve been trying to make about the supposed irreducibility of intelligence. (Note that I’m not talking about the origin of human intelligence.):

    Dembski’s “specified complexity”, which he claims is our sole means for detecting design, is premised on the belief that design is irreducible to C+N (chance+necessity). As far as I know, this premise is not taken seriously in science. Here are some problems that I see with it:

    1) ID proponents haven’t come up with scientifically or mathematically usable definitions for the categories of chance and necessity that leave room for anything else. If we interpret them to mean respectively non-deterministic and deterministic, then we’ve logically exhausted all of the possibilities. And immaterialism doesn’t provide an out, unless immaterial phenomena are unbeholden to logic.

    2) Nature is uncontroversially Turing equivalent (at least). Nobody has made a reasonable case that human mental activity is noncomputable, so there is no theoretical reason that a human-like thinking engine cannot be implemented with natural materials.

    3) We don’t have a good grasp of the limits of nature. JayM compares human activity to wind and waves, and kairosfocus compares it to dice rolls. “Case proved,” says kairosfocus, as if C+N consists of nothing more than simple processes like dice rolls. Even if we focus on strictly deterministic rules, we cannot in general predict the behavior of non-linear systems. And not all such systems are characterized by simple regularity or chaos — many interesting and surprising behaviors are found inbetween. Before computers came along, who would have guessed that the set of points in which z => z^2+C is bounded would be so complicated?

    Conclusion: Nobody has made a decent case for the intelligence/C+N dichotomy. If ID is to be taken seriously, then somebody needs to do so. And it needs to be published, not presented in blog comments.

  202. —–Rob: “ID proponents haven’t come up with scientifically or mathematically usable definitions for the categories of chance and necessity that leave room for anything else. If we interpret them to mean respectively non-deterministic and deterministic, then we’ve logically exhausted all of the possibilities. And immaterialism doesn’t provide an out, unless immaterial phenomena are unbeholden to logic”

    I am afraid that I cannot quite untangle the meaning of that paragraph. Can someone interpret if for me?

    —-Rob: “Nature is uncontroversially Turing equivalent (at least). Nobody has made a reasonable case that human mental activity is noncomputable, so there is no theoretical reason that a human-like thinking engine cannot be implemented with natural materials.”

    I seem to be struggling with the meaning of that comment as well. Could this be one of those paragraphs that Rob and JayM believe can occur spontaneously from law and chance alone?

    —–“We don’t have a good grasp of the limits of nature. JayM compares human activity to wind and waves, and kairosfocus compares it to dice rolls. “Case proved,” says kairosfocus, as if C+N consists of nothing more than simple processes like dice rolls. Even if we focus on strictly deterministic rules, we cannot in general predict the behavior of non-linear systems. And not all such systems are characterized by simple regularity or chaos — many interesting and surprising behaviors are found inbetween. Before computers came along, who would have guessed that the set of points in which z => z^2+C is bounded would be so complicated?”

    Alas, I have failed yet a third time to uncover the mystery. I am beginning to understand what Richard Dawkins means by the term, “climbing mount improbable.” Can anyone else perform the requisite exegesis?

  203. StephenB [202]:

    1) Necessity and chance is another way of saying ‘law’ and ‘not law’. I.D. says intelligence is neither necessity nor chance. That’s the same as saying intelligence its not law, and also not ‘not law’. Does that make it clearer?

    2) (TM Computability) Basically he’s saying nature is a mechanism and that no one has shown why the mind isn’t a mechanism either.

    Think about weather. Someone could say “here’s how weather works”, and then maybe spend a couple of minutes or so giving you a verbal description. Of course, any such description would be absurdly incomplete, but you would nevertheless presumably walk away with an understanding of nature better than you had before. In fact whereas any predictions you made about the weather previously might have been no better than random, with that two-minute overview, you might conceivably have enough knowledge to say on a certain day, “You know I think it might rain” and actually be correct (Who knows.)

    But someone could say “here’s how weather works”, and throw a 700 page textbook on the table in front of you. Both the two minute description and that 700 page textbook are examples of theories, in this case one more complete than the other. The worth of a theory is gauged by how accurately it predicts the future behavior of some phenomenon it is intended to characterize.

    As a final example, someone could say “here’s how weather works” and throw a 500,000 line long program on the desk in front of you – the source code for the most accurate weather simulation program in existence. This would also be a theory, in precisely the same sense as the previous two were. It would also presumably be the most accurate of the three.

    Most people think of a program as a set of instructions to perform some task, but it can also be thought of as a description of something. A program is the most formalized and systematic notion of a description. And somewhat unintuitively a computer itself is a very simplisitic device. One expression of such a device is the Turing Machine but there are others equivalent to it such as the Unlimited Register Machine. A URM only understands 3 instructions “move zero into register N” “increment register N” and “if the values in register n and m are equal jump to instruction i”. So you could have a program that very accurately described the weather with nothing but a very, very long sequence of nothing but the aforementioned three instructions. And the “computer” it ran on would be an absurdly simple little device that could just step from one line of the program to another (always only encountering one of those three instructions). But the point is to keep the actual computer simple so you don’t have to imagine some complex machine like an IBM computer on which nature actually runs for example.

    Whenever you have a description or a theory to accurately describe something you simulatenously have a mechanism or program. IOW if someone says, “such and such thing can really be understood, and here’s a description for you. However what I’m describing is not a mechanism” Essentially that is a lie.(Somewhat extreme, but tha’ts what came to me). I forgot where I was going from here but hopefully this helped you to understand the concept better.

    3)THe result of a dice throw is usually taken to be reasonably illustrative of pure randomness (even though technically it isn’t). I think that KF will sometimes (or maybe usually) present a dice throw as an example of randomness and necessity acting together. But it should represent pure randomness because the forces acting on the dice do not act in such a way to cause the sides to fall with any easily describable pattern.

    Here’s the problem with using dice throws to represent nature: We know from Dembski that pure randomness will not generate compressible or describable patterns of any kind. Just to use coin flips as an example, we know with a thousand coin flips we wouldn’t get a thousand heads, we wouldn’t get a head-tail combination repeated 500 times sequentially, we wouldn’t get a binary number representing the digits of pi, we would not get ANY sort of describable pattern to characterize those 1000 coin flips collectively. But in nature we see all sorts of patterns that could never be generated by pure randomness, and in fact they are not because they are generated, or describable, by laws – the movement of planets, the rings of saturn are just trivial examples. How can dice throws be used to illustrate nature when there are laws at work in nature that produce discernable patterns of the type that dice throws could never accomplish? So that’s why dice rolls cannot be used to illustrate the workings of nature.

  204. JT: You don’t catch on too quickly do you. I no longer take Rob seriously, so I didn’t bother to wade through his nonsense. So, your entire post was a total waste of time.

    By the way, what are you responding to. I did not write that post at 202. Why are you suggesting that I did?

  205. StephenB [204]:

    By the way, what are you responding to. I did not write that post at 202. Why are you suggesting that I did?

    Because it has your name on it.

  206. JT at 205. I can’t help it if it has my name on it. I didn’t write it. Please don’t be so presmumptuous.

  207. StephenB: At 202 I see a post with your name on it politely asking for clarification on Rob’s 3 points. What are you seeing?

    Furthermore no one had responded for over three hours when I did.

    I thought you might say, “Thanks.” not “Screw you.”

  208. I don’t like the profanity there either now that I see it.

    Mods, please remove everything from 204 onwards.

    Thanks.

  209. JT: @207. What are you talking about? I didn’t say anything or write anything, much less did I write “Screw you.” Where do you get all this stuff?

  210. Incidentally, a computer would have no problem generating the responses you’re making now – Random denials and expressions of incredulity.

  211. I agree. That may well be what happened. But please don’t attribute the rudeness to me because I did not write the posts.

  212. Hey no probs, bro. Sorry I was so slow on the uptake.

  213. JT, you have been a good sport, but I fear something like this may happen again tomorrow with someone else. I have this terrible notion that several other bloggers will start claiming that I wrote posts that I didn’t write. In fact, I am almost sure of it.

  214. Oh well . . .

    Rob, @ 198: I really don’t care about Lewontin’s or Crick’s metaphysical opinions. Sorry. In fact, I don’t care much about metaphysics at all, other than the fact that ID is premised on a specific metaphysic that it tries to pass off as science. And the question of whether the term supernatural includes ID’s non-C+D characterization of intelligence is a one of semantics.

    1 –> First, a little note on your need to responding to the real person addressing you: I am not speaking of WmA D’s incomplete formulations of the Ef circa 1998. I am speaking of the one you find at the already linked [complete with a distinct flowchart], which in response to the sort of objections you make and in light of much experience with analysis of experimental data [signal vs noise due to errors of observation etc], focusses on the specfific ASPECTS [look up the meaning . . . ] of an entity or situation; and as is discussed in steps at WAC nos 29 – 31 as linked above. Did you even look at the flowchart and think about why it speaks to aspects then elaborates onward actions at each decision alternative?

    2 –> Similarly, you have strawmanised me without good justification on the die example. I have long since shown that a dropped die (i) follows in part the lawlike regularity that makes it fall. On a second aspect, (ii) it tumbles to a contingent outcome. If it is fair, (iii) that aspect of the overall o/come is driven by chance in effect, i.e undirected, stochastic contingency [cf flowchart]. If it is loaded, (iv) the contingent aspect of the o/come is driven by intent not chance, i.e it is DESIGNED. And, any las Vegas Casino can tell you all about that set of distinctions.

    3 –> So, in this present world, based on common and important experiences, we see good reason to distinguished [a] lawlike regularity tracing to blind mechanical forces, from [b] chance (credibly undirected, stochastic contingency) and from design (credibly directed contingency).

    4 –> YOUR FIRST PROBLEM IS THAT YOU ARE BEING SELECTIVELY HYPERCRITICAL. The concepts of causal factors tracing to chance, necessity and design is not on trial, sir; YOU are. And, sadly, you are abjectly, even insistently failing. indeed, you come across to this observed as one who has long since made up his mind, composed his arguments and is simply spewing them forth yet again, regardless of the actual issues and evidence in play. (Again: did you even look at the revised Ef flowchart I composed? If so, why are you responding to an incomplete description of the logic of the EF process by Wm A D dating to a decade ago?)

    [ . . . ]

  215. 5 –> Now, whether or no you care about the imposition of evo mat as a metaphysical, a priori, the fact is, that the US NAS has so imposed,and is abusing its credibility to push this, so begging the world-view question at the outset; indeed, even short-circuiting the historical and phil work required to make a responsible decision on what is or is not science. And, the further fact is that both you and JayM strongly reflect that imposition in what you have said above.

    6 –> You will see that I have spoken to “worldviews” just now. That is central, as whether or no we recognise it, we ALL have worldviews, the question being whether they have been critically examined on comparative difficulties, i.e the proper project of metaphysics as the hard core of philosophy.

    7 –> That is why Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living, and that is why Plato in his parable of the cave, showed how conventional wisdoms are often grossly in error. IN OUR DAY, EVO MAT IS HE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM OF THE INSTITUTIONS OF SCIENCE, THUS IN MANY DOMINANT QUARTERS IN OUR CIVILISATION. (So, we should demand the right of critical examination, instead of meekly accepting the dogmatic rulings of today’s materialistic magisterium.)

    8 –> You have indulgesd in a turnabout, imomral equivalency false accusation when you have asserted: ID is premised on a specific metaphysic that it tries to pass off as science. I will substantiate:

    a –> s has been repeatedly shown, Lewontinian a priori materialism is now the dogma imposed by the evo mat magisterium under false colours of science. thus, science, science education and public policy are being routinely subverted as we speak.

    b –> By sharpest contrast, the design inference is based on empirical observation that is a commonplace: causes tracing to chance and/or necessity and/or design.

    c –> And, equally routinely, we are able to isolate aspects of events and objects that trace to these factors. (For instance, a 1/2 inch bolt is designed, takes advantage of inter alia the natural regularities of an inclined plane [wrapped around a metal shaft], and has an unavoidable tolerance due to chance factors that cause variations in its dimensions and materials.)

    d –> Now, too, we instantiate intelligent agents who design and in so designing, make artifacts that show cahracteristic traces of that intelligent action. E.g. FSCI, functionally specific, complex information; of which this post is an example: ASCII digitally coded text in English that responds to a context and in so doing functions.

    e –> As onlookers can verify, we can easily find any number of examples of FSCI that are produced by intelligent agents; but not even the most ardent objectors have been able to put up a single counter instance of say ASCII ext of at least 143 haracters — about 18 standard words in English — that is similarly functional but is known to be caused by undirected stochastic contingency.

    f –> This is because of the needle in the haystack problem: islands of function on that scale of complexity are utterly sparse in the implied 1,000 bit config space; well beyond the reasonable reach of the entire observed universe acting as a search engine.

    g –> So, on scientific induction, we confidently conclude that FSCI — and it is plainly measurable, starting with the simple cases just given — is a reliable [as opposed to beyond correction] sign of intelligence.

    h –> hen, we simply look to a key case: DNA is a similar data string, coded with data and procedures, and is in life forms storign typically 600 kilo bits to 6 – 8 giga bits of info, well beyond the 1,000 bit threshold.

    i –> So, ID thinkers on empirical bases, scientifically infer DNA is designed. BUT THAT SAYS NOTHING ABOUT THE ONTOLOGICAL NATURE OF THE DESIGNERS — as has been explicit ever since Thaxton et al in 1984. Whodunit is a question to be addressed after the first conclusion is that “something were dun.”

    j –> So,the accusation by Rob above on metaphysical a prioris is false, and in the face of abundant, easily examined evidence to the contrary.[Even my online note as linked through my handle which Rob says he has read, is a case in point.]

    k –> So, the real issue is whether the false accusation is willful or based on utter misunderstanding and misperception based on what R et al “know” is “really” there; i.e utterly closed and improperly suspicious minds.

    [ . . . ]

  216. 9 –> As to whether the issue of the contrasts “natural vs supernatural” and “natural vs artificial” is a matter of “semantics,” obviously — and importantly — it is:

    se·man·tics (s-mntks)
    n. . . .
    1. Linguistics The study or science of meaning in language.
    2. Linguistics The study of relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent. Also called semasiology.
    3. The meaning or the interpretation of a word, sentence, or other language form

    10 –> So, if meaning and the relationship between symbols and what they represent are important, semantics is important.

    11 –> In this case, the key point is that there is a false and uncharitable accusation championed by Ms Forrest et al, that spins off the fallacious false choice between only natural and supernatural into conspiracy theories over anti-science attacks and imposition of imagined theocracy; all done by an establishment that is demonstrably busily imposing an evo mat secularist establishment functionally equivalent to establishment of dogmatic denominational religion. Turnabout false accusation, again.

    12 –> But in fact, as DS and others, including the undersigned have repeatedly pointed out and shown, ever since Plato, we have known that we are not locked up like that!

    13 –> Per direct observation, we know that mechanical forces, chance and intelligence all act into our world, as a rule leaving characteristic traces.

    14 –> So, we may quite properly make the distinction natural vs artificial instead, and do so without implying that the “art” — techne — in question is or is not supernatural (magic, miracle, demons, gods, god, etc . ..) or merely non-natural (e.g. human).

    15 –> Such a “whodunit” question comes properly ATER it has first been reasonably shown that “twere dun.” If no arson or murder is properly suspected, it makes no sense looking for suspects.

    16 –> So, Rob, it seems that you have no good grounds for the accusations that lurk in the above cited words.

    ______________

    Please, correct your misperceptions and address the real ID case, not a ‘Creationism in a cheap tuxedo” strawman.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Onlookers, over in the Message Theory thread, I have stated my reasons for inferring that much of what has been going on recently boils down to obfuscatory rhetoric, including on the FSCI is not measurable mantra; cf. from bFast’s response to JayM at 132 on.

  217. PPS: to SB and JT — the wonders that lucky noise can do!

    For, of course, it is often assumed that it creates minds from brains, and meaning from variability in milli-Volt action potentials triggered by ion flows in nerves. (As if the longstanding challenge ever since Lucretius has not been that neither blindly deterministic mechanical forces nor random swerves of the atomos are credibly rational as grounds for such reasoned thought and decision . . . )

    Well did David Chalmers has warn us: “”

    The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect. As Nagel (1974) has put it, there is something it is like to be a conscious organism. This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field. Other experiences go along with perception in different modalities: the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothballs. Then there are bodily sensations, from pains to orgasms; mental images that are conjured up internally; the felt quality of emotion, and the experience of a stream of conscious thought. What unites all of these states is that there is something it is like to be in them. All of them are states of experience.

    Information may be processed through physical manipulation of symbols in organised and integrated IT entities, but whence cometh such organization? How do symbols take up meanings, and thus subjective understanding and inference?

    How can such become credible per materilaistic metaphysics,and even vitally important?

    Especially in light of . . .

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion [my nb: e.g. NS is about behaviour not beliefs and known false belief scan give rise to effective action, cf. modelling which uses 'simplifications of reality" -- i.e strictly false and sometimes arbitrary constructs], and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions. [Reppert, on Lewis' AFR]

    GEM of TKI

  218. Well did David Chalmers has warn us: “”

    The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect. As Nagel (1974) has put it, there is something it is like to be a conscious organism. This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field. Other experiences go along with perception in different modalities: the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothballs. Then there are bodily sensations, from pains to orgasms; mental images that are conjured up internally; the felt quality of emotion, and the experience of a stream of conscious thought.

    I would say that all these sensations are caused by the complex chemical stew of which we are comprised. IOW, I do not think you could create a robot out of metal that could have all of the above sensations.

    Of course, there is way that it feels like to hear a clarinet or whatever.

    If possible please limit all such observations regarding consciousness to animals, if indeed such observations apply to them as well. If they do not, then please explain why man is unique in the animal kingdom in his ability to experience bodily sensations, etc. Or if you think that animals as well have a nonmaterial intelligence, soul or some such which is necessary for them to function, please make that clear as well.

    let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion [my nb: e.g. NS is about behaviour not beliefs and known false belief scan give rise to effective action, cf. modelling which uses 'simplifications of reality" -- i.e strictly false and sometimes arbitrary constructs], and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions. [Reppert, on Lewis' AFR]

    Rational thought does not require a human language.

    And Octopus I believe would recognize that if A is behind B and B is behind C then A is behind C, even though he did not have an abstract symbol system to map such a thought to. Nor would he necssarily break it down or understand it as a logical deduction.

    In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    I’m having a hard perceiving the process he’s describing from his mystical vantage point, e.g. “not by being, but by being seen to be”, It seems to me that the objective in philosophy is often conundrum and obfuscation, not clarification, IMO.

    Furthermore, superimposing some abstract symbol system on a process and then theorizing how such a system works in terms of that symbol system, often does not clarify how the system is actually functioning.

    I’m more or less just acknowledging I read the above, we don’t necessarly need to tack a completely unrelated discussion on to the end of this thread though.

    Regards

  219. correction:
    “I’m having a hard time perceiving the process he’s describing from his mystical vantage point”

  220. JayM,

    Again, I apologize for the delay. I have a rather demanding job at times. I’d say “day job” but it isn’t really.

    In #168 you address my most fundamental question:

    Can humans do things that nature without humans is for all practical purposes incapable of doing?

    I’ll try to condense your answer, and you can tell me if I got it mostly right.

    The obvious answer, as Abel noted, is “yes”. You give two possible answers; “No.” and “I don’t know.” At first glance this would seem to be an evasion, but IIUC it actually is not. The reason you give is that there may be other forms of intelligence, or other “natural phenomena”, that can do some of the same things that humans can. I’m glad you used the term “forms of intelligence”, as it obviates the need to ask why humans can do things that nature without humans cannot, for practical purposes, do. In the case of humans, it is obviously somehow related to intelligence.

    I gather that you threw in the other natural phenomena as a hypothetical to be complete, as, in your words “we don’t know of any other natural phenomena that produce the same results as human intelligence”. Thus your answer to your own question,

    “Can we detect the results of human intelligence, even if that intelligence is purely a natural phenomena?”

    should really be “I don’t know” rather than “yes”, as you actually answered it. Maybe an alien intelligence or an unknown force can make aircraft carriers or Honda Accords, to take two examples of Abel, or arrowheads, to take yours. But I would agree that this would be quibbling,

    It would appear that we can divide up nature (several ways, but in particular) into humans, non-human intelligences (of which we may not know any), unknown forces, and nature without any of these. And human activity can sometimes (although not always) be distinguished from nature without any of the others. I think that is what you meant when you said “yes”. Do I have it right?

    You want me to just drop the “pseudo-Socratic approach” and state my case. But I stated that “intelligent human causes are qualitatively different from unintelligent natural phenomena” way back in #44, and it was what sounded like a denial of this that launched our present exchange, or at least that continued it. Now it looks like you recognize the difference between artifacts produced by humans and those produced by nature without humans, other intelligences (if any), and unknown forces. You already know how I characterize the differences, as qualitative. How would you characterize the differences? Qualitative? Quantitative? Some other adjective? Granted that we know that there is a difference, as we can tell at least some archaeological artifacts from ordinary dirt, how would you characterize that difference? We may find a surprising amount of agreement.

  221. Onlookers:

    An interesting silence from those who were so busily saying that FSCI is an incoherent and non-quantifiable concept; especially now that they made open accusations of our assuming “metaphysical” designers. That allowed us to answer clearly and directly on the root issue.

    Let us wait further for their answers.

    Now, too, we see just above from JT, 218:

    I would say that all these sensations [i.e. our conscious, first person, "from the inside" awareness of experiences] are caused by the complex chemical stew of which we are comprised . . . . superimposing some abstract symbol system on a process and then theorizing how such a system works in terms of that symbol system, often does not clarify how the system is actually functioning.

    1 –> It is our direct experience that we are conscious,a d that in so being conscious we are operating at a certain level of personhood; which BTW, embraces thinking and inferring and concluding and deciding.

    2 –> Now, we have a fair degree of insight into the workings of molecules and chemistry, and underlying physics. JT is simply asserting the materialist view, ipso facto. Chalmers’ still standing challenge has been that we have no good ability to move per detailed and credible explanations, from phys-chem to consciousness, assertions as above notwithstanding. JT’s faith statement above is simply an implicit acknowledgement of the point.

    3 –> It also begs a serious qn; as posed by Reppert. Namely, that physical-chemical causal chains are insufficient to ground rational thought or response; as phys=chem determinism is not demonstrably correlated to logical grounding or epistemic warrant. [Unless one wishes to assert or assume a sort of front-loading of physics and chemistry that would have astonishing implications.]

    4 –> Further to this, per basic logic: sentences are not propositions. That is, an asserted/ implied/ assumed truth/falsehood claim or belief about a real or possible state of affairs, is not equivalent to the verbal language in which it is often phrased.

    5 –> So, semantics does not REDUCE to syntax, though it is often expressed in some form of symbol and/or signal or other; and it is then often useful to process stgnals per rules imposed on machinery to carry out mechanical inference; e.g. in a PC or calculator or control system.

    6 –> Which, precisely focuses the question posed by such FSCI and IC: origin, per experience-based inference to best explanation. In short, per massive experience, we know that a calculator, PC or control system [e.g. a robot] do not work from physics and chemistry back to logic, but from logic back to design and thence to physical implementation.

    7 –> Thus, Reppert’s challenge is not mere metaphysical assertion; as we LIVE as conscious reasoning creatures; so we know the difference between inference and physical cause-effect chains. And, per Plantinga and modeling theory, as well as much of the hisrtory of ideas, we know that adequacy of function does not correlate to accuracy of belief or reasoning process.

    8 –> So, those who would reduce reasoning and rationality to matter and law and chance “swerves” are after 2,000 years, still facing the un resolved challenge of Lucretius’ materialism: unable to account for the very first fact of all — we are rational, conscious animals. [The phrase is adapted from Aristotle.]

    9 –> Would it not be wiser, therefore, to start FROM our rational animality, and ask, what makes best sense of that, in light of our experience of what it takes to get to information-rich systems, in light of the radical divergence between physical cause-effect chains and rational ground-consequent ones?

    10 –> And, would it not be simple justice to demand cessation of the current materialist censorship against such inference? (But then, per evolutionary materialism and “nature red in tooth and claw, do materialists have a god ground for justice, which is after all a rational-moral issue?]

    GEM of TKI

  222. kairosfocus:

    An interesting silence from those who were so busily saying that FSCI is an incoherent and non-quantifiable concept; especially now that they made open accusations of our assuming “metaphysical” designers. That allowed us to answer clearly and directly on the root issue.

    As one of your fellow ID proponents remarked on another thread:

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

    As I said to StephenB, I’ll gladly cede the victory to you in any blog-based debate, so feel free to celebrate. I’m here for the fun of it, and I move on when it gets boring. If I thought that debates on UD had any impact on the direction of scientific research and curricula, it would be a different story.

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