Home » Books of interest, Intelligent Design, science education » Textbook wars: The fact that something evolved does not mean that Darwinism caused it

Textbook wars: The fact that something evolved does not mean that Darwinism caused it

A blog repeats a whole lot of stale stuff about Americans not believing in evolution, in support of a 2013 textbook, whose cover shows insects that look like leaves.

It’s a great cover, but what does it show? That Darwinism is true? Almost everyone crabbing about the fact that Americans do not believe in evolution means that Americans do not believe in Darwinism – the only theory of evolution ever developed explicitly to destroy the idea of design.

Somehow or other, looking five percent like a leaf was supposed to prevent the original forebears of these insects from getting eaten as often as their own forebears did. And the Darwinist’s usual response to any doubt about this explanation has been ridicule – and court cases, if ridicule doesn’t work.

Normal people push back.

By the way, an equally interesting example is the praying mantis that looks like dropped petals. It’s amazing. But it is not evidence for Darwin’s theory either.

Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

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123 Responses to Textbook wars: The fact that something evolved does not mean that Darwinism caused it

  1. Well until IDists go on an all-out campaign to tell the people that Intellgent Design is NOT anti-evolution, this is the type of stuff we can expect because right now most people who are not involved do not understand that ID is not anti-evolution and will be easliy swayed by such tripe.

  2. Joe:

    I actually disagree; let’s not forget that Young Earth Creationists accept what seems to be evolution up to the level of the family or thereabouts, and that the co-founder of evolutionary theory believed in intelligent evolution, and wrote publicly and at length to that effect.

    It is no accident that his major book was recently republished by a publisher called Forgotten Books.

    We are dealing with people who reject easily accessible evidence to the contrary of ever so many new atheist talking points, because they are locked up in an ideology.

    The issue is not whether Creationism or Theistic Evolution or ID accepts that there is some degree of evolution, even up to universal common descent — why, Behe, one of the top two ID supporting scientists, believes that.

    WHAT HAPPENS IS THAT WE ARE DEALING WITH A PRIORI MATERIALISM IMPOSED AS A DEFINITION OF SCIENCE AND AS A CRITERION OF BEING ACCEPTABLY RATIONAL.

    Until that is sufficiently exposed and broken based on its multiple reductions to absurdity, the radical ideologues we are dealing with will not back off.

    Which, is what happened with the Marxists 20 years past.

    KF

  3. Joe,

    I have read a lot of ID-ists trying to make just that point. The very definition of intelligent design practically makes that point. The Discovery Institute only has so much money. It can’t go into every home and make sure everybody is 100% clear on this issue.

  4. Well guys, whatever it is we are doing the point is not getting across- I have seen Bill Nye, the science guy, on CNN talking about how anti-biotic resistance is proof of evolution and evidence against ID, which he thinks = creationism = fixity of species

    2005, Dover, PA- take a look at the anti-ID signs saying evolution happens.

  5. Certainly a mixed message appears to be going out from the ID side.

    Just a quick browse around UD shows many posts where “evolution” or “Darwinism” is criticised, and where it is not clear (to me) that what is really being criticised is an atheistic/philosophical materialist gloss on the science of biology and evolution.

    Matthew 12:25 — A city or house divided against itself shall not stand.

    Cheers

  6. Joe,

    And you really think that those people are actually listening to ID talk? Or do they plug their ears?

  7. Regular folk listen to people like Bill Nye and my bet is Nye is informed by the NCSE.

    Here’s the plan, Collin- get a textbook disclaimers stating that Intelligent Design is not anti-evolution, rather it is an alternative theory of evolution- and have the disclaimer explain that ID argues against blind and undirected processes being a designer mimic- and see what happens.

  8. This YEC insists there is biological change.
    People quickly changed upon entering new lands within years or decades after the biblical flood.
    Marine mammals only adapted to the seas after flood and that quick dramatic.
    Marsupials are adapted creatures who first were placentals and so why they look exactly alike despite the pouch.
    I think biological change can be and was profound but not from slow selectionism on mutation.

    In fact evolution has never been fueled on evidence for its mechanism but on the conviction things did change in their bodies.
    they simply couldn’t figure out another reason how.
    Darwin was most convinced creatures were not fixed because close island had different looking ones of the same type.
    The conviction for biological change came first and then the idea.

    I believe in retrospect this is what will be said when evolutionism is overthrown.

  9. The problem is that “evolution” is one of the most slippery words in all of language. There are numerous definitions used in the literature and the popular press, ranging from, as I like to say, ‘the obvious and well-supported to the outrageous and wildly-speculative.’

    Is ID anti-evolution?

    Depends.

    What do you mean by evolution?

    It is clear that in the popular press, in textbooks, in most of the literature, “evolution” is used in a sense that assumes, if not explicitly expressing, that everything happened through purely natural and material processes with no intelligent guidance or input. (As shorthand, most of the folks on this blog also use “evolution” in that sense, except when we are specifically discussing what the word means, such as in this thread.) In that sense ID is most definitely anti-evolution, at least insofar as the discussion relates to complex specified information.

    However, that is not the only meaning of evolution, and if we peel away the materialist gloss, then ID is not anti-evolution in nearly all other senses of the word, up to and including universal common descent.

    There is certainly much confusion in the public mind regarding what ID really is and how it is defined. However, in many ways the problem is not with the understanding of ID, but with the wildly-shifting definition of “evolution” — and the materialist gloss that almost always accompanies its use.

  10. Yes, Eric- one can define evolution in such a way as to make ID be anti-evolution. However by doing so will expose it as atheistic/ materialistic and as such fall under the separation of Church and State.

  11. Hi Joe,

    We discussed this briefly on Elizabeth’s blog.

    You wrote: “Intellgent Design is NOT anti-evolution.”

    There I raised the topic of ‘unevolvability’. You agreed, that Behe posits it, but only wrt ‘Darwinian unevolvability.’

    Would you please help by parsing this? How is ‘Darwinian unevolvability’ still not an example (just drop the qualifier) of the broader term ‘unevolvability’ and thus in a clear sense, ‘anti-evolution’?

    Here’s the premises: ‘unevolvable’ = ‘anti-evolution.’

    Thanks,
    G.

  12. Hi Gregory,

    If memory serves you “raised” a bunch of something, not sure if it was even relevant. Something about your name, oh well.

    But anyway-

    If something evolves because it was designed to do so, then it is ID, not Darwinian evolution. The qualifier is there because Darwinian evolution, and NDE, refer to blind and undirected processes. Intelligent Design evolution refers to directed and designed processes.

    So behe puts the limit of Darwinian evolution at two new protein-to-protein binding sites. Anything more than that would require IDE or even FLE

  13. Joe,

    How could ‘unevolvability’ not be relavant to your claim that “ID is NOT anti-evolution”?

    Are you suggesting that ‘intelligently designed evolution’ (IDE) or ‘front-loaded evolution’ (IDE) is NOT in fact ‘anti-evolution’?

    If so, then how could IDE or FLE qualify as ‘unevolvability’ as Behe sees it. Is ‘unevolvability’ empty without the qualifier? Do you have an explanation for this, i.e. how ID-evolvable or FL-evolvable could qualify as ‘unevolvability’?

    Sounds like a GUT so far…

  14. Gregory- all I remember about you is your whining- but anyway:

    Are you suggesting that ‘intelligently designed evolution’ (IDE) or ‘front-loaded evolution’ (IDE) is NOT in fact ‘anti-evolution’?

    why would they be anti-evolution?

    How are YOU defining “evolution”?

    If so, then how could IDE or FLE qualify as ‘unevolvability’ as Behe sees it.

    It wouldn’t- Behe refers to darwinian evolution when he speaks of unevolvbility- anything requiring more than two new protein-to-protein binding sites is beyond darwinian evolution.

  15. ‘Darwinian unevolvability’ is still ‘unevolvability.’

    Black and white television or colour television is still a kind of ‘television.’

    ‘Unevolvable’ means ‘not capable of evolving.’ I equate this with ‘anti-evolution.’ Don’t you?

  16. ‘Darwinian unevolvability’ is still ‘unevolvability.’

    Nope. If it evolves by design it still evolves.

    ‘Unevolvable’ means ‘not capable of evolving.’

    In a SPECIFIC CONTEXT- unevolvable in a darwinian context does not = unevolvable in a design context- Behe is referring to unevolvable in a darwinian context.

    That is the third time I have said that- apparently you have other issues.

  17. “Unevolvable by Darwinian means” does not equate to “unevolvable, full stop”. Even outside of ID, not every kind of evolution is Darwinian evolution.

    You can have two people argue over whether natural selection or neutral drift was responsible for some particular trait X, with one side saying the other side’s view is extremely unlikely. You don’t end up with two people accusing each other of saying X couldn’t have evolved at all.

    Seems like a pretty easy distinction to get.

  18. “. . . one can define evolution in such a way as to make ID be anti-evolution . . .”

    The word “evolution” — as used in the popular press, scientific articles, by the NCSE, in general when used by most people — assumes a fully naturalistic and materialistic process. I fully agree with you that we shouldn’t let the materialists get away with taking what was a perfectly useful word and turning into a materialist stick to beat everyone over the head. I further agree that it would be preferable if every time the word “evolution” were used there were a footnote explaining which of the many definitions is being used and whether the definition in that particular case is carrying materialistic baggage.

    But it isn’t going to happen in ordinary discourse. As a result I don’t get too exercised when people ask about whether ID is anti-evolution, or whether I believe in evolution, and so on. I simply say: “Depends. What do you mean by ‘evolution’?”

  19. EA:

    See why, on years of exchanges, I use the descriptive term, “evolutionary materialism”?

    I notice too, there is a pretence that terms like macro-/micro- evolution and darwinism are just used by critics.

    The weak argument correctives speak to that.

    KF

  20. The problem is, of course, is that when the NCSE sez Intelligent Design is anti-evolution, they want people to believe Intelligent Design is against all change- meaning that anti-biotic resistance, peppered moth variation, finch beak variation, etc. refute ID, case closed, nothing to see.

    Chris Matthews asked Santorum about “evolution” and he said it all depends on what you mean by the word and provided a little explanation.

    The meanings of evolution, from Darwinism, Design and Public Education:

    1. Change over time; history of nature; any sequence of events in nature

    2. Changes in the frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population

    3. Limited common descent: the idea that particular groups of organisms have descended from a common ancestor.

    4. The mechanisms responsible for the change required to produce limited descent with modification, chiefly natural selection acting on random variations or mutations.

    5. Universal common descent: the idea that all organisms have descended from a single common ancestor.

    6. “Blind watchmaker” thesis: the idea that all organisms have descended from common ancestors solely through an unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material processes such as natural selection acting on random variations or mutations; that the mechanisms of natural selection, random variation and mutation, and perhaps other similarly naturalistic mechanisms, are completely sufficient to account for the appearance of design in living organisms.

    ID is good with 1-5

  21. Joe: “ID is good with 1-5.”

    Agreed.

    I think we could add a couple more definitions to the list, but that list is a good example of the wide range of definitions and it is really only the blind watchmaker thesis that ID is necessarily in conflict with on that list. The only other use of ‘evolution’ that I would say ID is definitely in conflict with is when ‘evolution’ is used to describe abiogenesis, sometimes called “chemical evolution.” The blind watchmaker thesis in that instance is not just implied, it is explicit, so I would include naturalistic abiogenesis or “chemical evolution” as something with which ID is in conflict.

    Otherwise, agreed, everything from “change over time” on up to and even including “universal common descent” can be accommodated within an ID framework. As long as the blind watchmaker thesis doesn’t try to come along for a free ride.

    —–

    Maybe the more proper way to look at this is to focus on what ID argues, namely that complex specified information is a reliable indicator of intelligent activity. Thus, any use of the word “evolution” that denies this argument and claims that complex specified information can arise without intelligent input is in contradiction to ID. The two categories in which this is obvious are (i) the blind watchmaker thesis itself, because that is what it means, and (ii) abiogenesis.

    ID can accommodate all the other concepts of evolution to a greater or lesser degree, partly because we know so little about them. For example, can universal common descent be accommodated within ID? Sure, as long as we posit either some kind of frontloading or intermediate intervention. But if someone were to assert that universal common descent happened by random mutations plus differential survival rates, I would have to argue that ID is against such an idea.

    What Behe is trying to do is find the “edge of evolution” in terms of what evolution can accomplish. Others have looked at probabilistic resources and argued that any increase in specified information content above a certain boundary, say 500-1000 bits, requires intelligent input. To the extent that universal common descent, new body plans, descent of man, or any other concepts of evolution require informational infusion above that amount, they would argue it is against ID.

    You are right, of course, that ID is fine with the historical concept of these things coming about; it is the how that can give rise to conflict.

  22. “I don’t get too exercised when people ask about whether ID is anti-evolution, or whether I believe in evolution, and so on. I simply say: “Depends. What do you mean by ‘evolution’?” – Eric Anderson

    That sounds like a pretty good approach to me. Most IDists accept what I call ‘limited evolution.’ The main question is where or how they limit it and what they count as ‘evolvable’ or ‘evolutionary’ change.

    Many sides are guilty of obfuscation wrt one of the most interdisciplinary concepts (i.e. ‘evolution’) in use today. E.g. Behe’s “The Edge of Evolution” does not qualify itself by saying “The Edge of Darwinian Evolution” or “The Edge of Materialistic Evolution.” By leaving out the Darwinian (or naturalistic, materialistic) qualifier, Behe leaves his main argument open for mis-/re-interpretation. What/where is the end of which evolution? Just Darwinian evolution is of course only a partial view of the field.

    Can I assume people here agree by definition that ‘Darwinian unevolvability’ is still ‘unevolvability’ and that thus if and when ID is against Darwinian evolution it is at the same time anti-evolution?

    “one can define evolution in such a way as to make ID be anti-evolution…”

    One can also define ID in such a way as to make evolution anti-ID…one way which is simply by speaking only of Darwinian evolution.

    “Even outside of ID, not every kind of evolution is Darwinian evolution.”- nullasalus

    Yes, sure. So what NAME do you use to call the non-Darwinian evolution (not the content of the theory, but its NAME)? Iow, who is far enough beyond Darwin to enable an alternative NAME (e.g. are you suggesting ‘Dembskian evolution,’ ‘Behean evolution’ or ‘Margulisian evolution’)? (Don’t worry, nullasalus, I haven’t forgotten the other thread and will return to it when time permits.)

  23. So what NAME do you use to call the non-Darwinian evolution (not the content of the theory, but its NAME)?

    What’s wrong with “non-Darwinian evolution”? Seems rather accurate to describe “evolutionary theories that are not Darwinian”.

    Iow, who is far enough beyond Darwin to enable an alternative NAME

    As much as I love – and I mean this, I sincerely love – to argue over details, naming conventions, concepts, etc… this is edging right into “who cares?” territory. And don’t tell me that straightening out the terms would help end confusion, because I’ve watched this debate long enough to know that most ID critics couldn’t care less about accuracy. Technically, everything from GE Salmon to what goes on in Craig Venter’s lab to AVIDA are all or involve instances of Intelligent Design. No one but ID proponents will ever call those things that, because to do so would make a lot of ID critics freak out at the implications.

  24. E.g. Behe’s “The Edge of Evolution” does not qualify itself by saying “The Edge of Darwinian Evolution” or “The Edge of Materialistic Evolution.”

    Earth to Gregory- Behe has always made it clear that he is talking about Darwinian evolution-

    Look at the cover of the book “The Edge of Evolution”- right below that title are 7 words- “The Search for the Limits of Darwinism”

    What gives Gregory? Do you really think you can waltz around here with obvious nonsense?

    Really??!

    BTW in 1997 Dr Spetner posited his “non-random evolutionary hypothesis”- then there is Dr Davison’s Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis, Mike Gene’s Front-loaded evolution and I like evolution by design.

  25. “I’ve watched this debate long enough to know that most ID critics couldn’t care less about accuracy.” – nullasalus

    Luckily I’m not your usual ID critic, eh, nullasalus?! Only a decade for me, including outside of the ‘western’ framework. And gladly I agree with your view of ID re: not qualifying as ‘science.’

    “What’s wrong with “non-Darwinian evolution”?” – nullasalus

    Yes, that’s a fine description in my books too. Likewise, what would have been wrong with Behe naming his book “The Edge of Darwinian Evolution” instead of “The Edge of Evolution”? Surely you’ll acknowledge that the difference of omitting a qualifier to evolution is not trivial, if you do indeed love arguing over details?

    Perhaps I have more hope than nullasalus to think that, yes indeed, “straightening out the terms would help end confusion.” Unfortunately, I imagine he is dealing in far fewer academic disciplines than is needed for a holistic approach to the topic.

    It may not be catholic/Catholic to think that distinguishing ‘design’ from ‘Design’ is ultimately important, but then again there are those like Margaret Archer (Vatican council) who make it their life’s work to distinguish ‘agency’ from ‘Agency.’ In this context, mere USAmerican anti-evolutionsists are little worth taking seriously.

  26. Gregory:

    Likewise, what would have been wrong with Behe naming his book “The Edge of Darwinian Evolution” instead of “The Edge of Evolution”? Surely you’ll acknowledge that the difference of omitting a qualifier to evolution is not trivial, if you do indeed love arguing over details?

    Dude- the subtitle of The Edge of Evolution is:

    The Search for the Limits of Darwinism

    Chapter 1- “The Elements of Darwinism”

    Chapter 3- The Mathematical Limits of Darwinism

    Chapter 4- What Darwinism Can Do

    Chapter 5- What Darwinism Can’t Do

    “Hello (hello (hello))
    Is there anybody in there?
    Just nod if you can hear me
    Is their anybody home”

    Which one’s Pink…

  27. Luckily I’m not your usual ID critic, eh, nullasalus?!

    Doesn’t matter. You’re talking about the importance of using these particular terms for ‘clarity’ and suggesting that this is why critics call ID anti-evolution. I’m suggesting that the reason why critics call ID anti-evolution has far more to do with the usual marketing and politics.

    Do you really think the controversy over ID boils down to confusion over definitions and book titles? Pull the other one.

    Surely you’ll acknowledge that the difference of omitting a qualifier to evolution is not trivial, if you do indeed love arguing over details?

    As I said, my love of arguing over details has a limit. I am entirely in favor of ID proponents clarifying their points. To suggest that ID critics repeatedly call ID “anti-evolution” because (for example) of Behe’s book title, despite the actual content of the book, despite Behe being a common descent proponent, etc, is just silly. You may as well be saying ID critics are all a pack of idiots, easily confused by vague titles. Also, shiny objects.

    Stephen Hawking called his book The Grand Design. Let me guess: plenty of ID critics think that’s a book showing how the universe is designed, right? I mean he called it The Grand Design, and it’s a book about the universe. Surely Barbara Forrest is that much of an idiot, yeah?

    In this context, mere USAmerican anti-evolutionsists are little worth taking seriously.

    In that context. But then again – who cares about that context? For that matter, who cares about Margaret Archer’s life work? Dare I suggest, in the context of ID discussions, Margaret Archer is – particularly in a practical sense of the term – damn near irrelevant.

    Let me be clear: while I don’t think ID is science, I do think ID asks some very important questions, and makes inferences I have great sympathy with. I admit the ID movement for making ‘design’ a subject, not to mention a possible inference, for people within the ‘circles’ they reach. Rather average people, in fact, who – while they may have picked up or pursued degrees – aren’t otherwise academically noteworthy. I really don’t care what some particular academic cabal thinks or judges worthy or not, except insofar as it affects we plebes in the greater public.

    In fact, one contribution to culture ID has made is that it has encouraged people to take such academics less seriously. I look forward to the day when (say) Jerry Coyne’s proclamation of what does or does not exhibit design is given, by the public at large, as much weight as a janitor’s insight on the same topic.

  28. Hi Gregory

    Just curious. You say:

    ID can accommodate all the other concepts of evolution to a greater or lesser degree, partly because we know so little about them. For example, can universal common descent be accommodated within ID? Sure, as long as we posit either some kind of frontloading or intermediate intervention. But if someone were to assert that universal common descent happened by random mutations plus differential survival rates, I would have to argue that ID is against such an idea.

    If we grant frontloading at the origin of life, couldn’t it be that subsequent mutations *look* random to us, although they are actually constrained by the complex front-loaded programming?

    Cheers

  29. Clavdivs:

    If we grant frontloading at the origin of life, couldn’t it be that subsequent mutations *look* random to us, although they are actually constrained by the complex front-loaded programming?

    Absolutely agree. That’s why I reference frontloading as a possible way ID can accommodate to universal common descent. If there is front loading, then the only way we can ultimately distinguish between what is random and what is constrained is to understand the parameters of the front loading.

    Thus, the idea of mutations leading to complex specified information is between a rock and a hard spot: either (i) the mutations are constrained/directed by some kind of front loading, thus allowing them to achieve something meaningful, or (ii) the mutations really are “random” or undirected, in which case they can’t really do anything meaningful.

    (I think you were referencing my comment.)

  30. Incidentally, I’m struggling to understand why ID would not be considered science, unless someone is trying to make a hypertechnical distinction between: (i) the general idea of design existing in the universe (which could be contrasted with the non-scientific idea that design doesn’t exist), and (ii) the actual work that goes on using a design paradigm. (I’m not sure there is such a distinction; I’m just trying to understand why the idea of being able to detect design would not be viewed as scientific.)

    Design detection as a basic undertaking is absolutely a scientific exercise. It happens all the time in lots of fields and is every bit as objective, quantified, and scientific as many other things that are considered science.

    Further, in the area of historical sciences (of which origins is one), we are dealing with inferences to the best explanation, which are a perfectly valid form of scientific reasoning in historical sciences. Design is on absolutely the same scientific footing with any other explanation (Darwinism or otherwise) in that regard.

    Additionally, if origin of life research in general is a scientific endeavor, then surely analyzing the parameters of abiogenesis — the available materials, locations, alleged mechanisms, timeframes available and so on — is a scientific endeavor. And drawing a reasonable inference as to what the best scientific evidence shows and what the most likely explanation is for the origin of life, would certainly be a scientific undertaking.

    Yet again, the research that Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, Doug Axe, and Scott Minnich are doing is certainly scientific in nature. The fact that a design paradigm influences their thinking doesn’t make it not science.

    Finally, if we compare what prominent ID proponents are doing with some of the other stuff that passes as “science,” like the papers Matzke often refers us to (Pross’ idea of “life as a kinetic state” being just the latest example), or other papers that purport so show some kind of new mechanism for OOL, or Gould’t punctuated equilibrium idea (we don’t see evolution happening because it is generally happening where we can’t see it), or (worse yet) papers that are wildly subjective about how and why a particular biological feature came along, then it seems any fair assessment would have to conclude that the work ID proponents are doing is at least as objective and scientific as any of that stuff.

  31. Eric — Sorry, yes it was your comment I was referencing.

  32. Eric,

    Some comments.

    Further, in the area of historical sciences (of which origins is one), we are dealing with inferences to the best explanation, which are a perfectly valid form of scientific reasoning in historical sciences.

    While I think what are usually called “historical sciences” are valid forms of knowledge and reasonable on their own, I’m not as comfortable with calling them “science”. Or at least, I think it starts to get messier than most people can accept – similar to the questions of “social sciences”.

    Not everything that leads to reasonable or empirically supported conclusions are necessarily rightly called science. I’ll admit my view on this is my own, not any mainstream one.

    Yet again, the research that Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, Doug Axe, and Scott Minnich are doing is certainly scientific in nature. The fact that a design paradigm influences their thinking doesn’t make it not science.

    Absolutely agreed. When I say that I don’t think ID is science, I’m not dumping every observation Behe or others make. For instance, Behe’s attempt to find an ‘edge of evolution’, or argue that there are certain things Darwinian processes cannot be expected to accomplish, seem entirely scientific to me. But those critiques in and of themselves don’t involve inferring the presence or lack of design whatsoever.

    Finally, if we compare what prominent ID proponents are doing with some of the other stuff that passes as “science,”

    Here’s where it gets complicated for me. I think quite a lot of what gets passed off as “science”, isn’t science. Particular when it comes to the opposite of ID, that “non-design detection”. I know Jerry Coyne and Dawkins and company often strongly suggest that “science shows us that humans aren’t designed” and such – that’s not science either. It’s an abuse of science. On the flipside, if someone digs in their heels and says that ID inferences that Coyne and Dawkins make really are science after all, then so too is ID. One or the other, all or none.

    But I think the more proper approach is to regard any question of design, certainly design on the scales ID tends to make inferences about, as outside of science – whether detecting its presence, or lack.

  33. Hi Eric

    … I’m struggling to understand why ID would not be considered science…

    In my view, for an idea to be scientific, it must clearly and unequivocally entail some consequences that we can empirically test; and the entailment of these consequences should be such that, if they are not found to obtain, the original idea is considered false, at least in part.

    It appears many feel that, so far, ID proponents have not not met this standard. To be sure, they are facing worldview bias and prejudice, but do these factors alone explain ID’s almost complete lack of traction in science?

    That is not to say ID proponents are not doing science at the “micro” level e.g. Douglas Axe is doing perfectly fine biochemical science. But the argument is that such work does not directly put an entailment of ID to empirical test.

    My feeling is that ID is still at the “proto-science” stage. It’s certainly not an unscientific idea in principle, but it is not yet ready to be subjected to the scientific method.

    Cheers

  34. CLAVDIVS:

    Pardon an intervention, re your:

    for an idea to be scientific, it must clearly and unequivocally entail some consequences that we can empirically test; and the entailment of these consequences should be such that, if they are not found to obtain, the original idea is considered false, at least in part.

    It appears many feel that, so far, ID proponents have not not met this standard. To be sure, they are facing worldview bias and prejudice, but do these factors alone explain ID’s almost complete lack of traction in science?

    If you were to empirically show that complex, specified information, especially functionally specific, complex info, can actually originate within the resources of our solar system, by blind chance and mechanical necessity — no intelligent intervention or direction — ID would be dead.

    A classic, simple test would be to generate a meaningful text of 500 bits by such processes, the million monkeys tests. (Such tests have been done and are ongoing, they have reached 24 or so ASCII characters, i.e. 1/4 or so of the relevant length, 73 characters. But the challenge is that config spaces go as exponential of string length. Spaces of 10^ 50 possibilities have been successfully searched; that is a factor of 10^100 short of the relevant scope.)

    Similar tests apply to many other design theory constructs.

    Going beyond, we have literally billions of observed cases of FSCI in hand. in every instance, they are known to be produced by intelligent action. This is backed up by an analysis of the search challenge on the config space for 500 – 1,000 or more bits; relative to the atomic resources of our solar system and observable cosmos. What that analysis shows is that there is a good reason why FSCI will all but certainly only come from design. That is we have good warrant to see it as a tested, empirically reliable sign of design.

    The problem is not the validation, it is the implications, which cut across the canons of the dominant evolutionary materialist (that’s a description) school of thought. Namely, once we look at the FSCI in DNA etc, it strongly points to the design of life.

    BTW, if you want one, a log reduced, simplified metric for such FSCI that draws on Dembski’s metric (but stands on its own merits) is:

    Chi_500 = Ip*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold, where S is a binary, dummy variable on specificity that defaults to 0, not-specified. (That is one needs a positive4, observable reason to assign S = 1.)

    Similarly, irreducible, co-ordinated, key-lock complexity — with its all-or-none functionality — poses a serious challenge to claimed darwinian type mechanisms, especially once Angus Mengue’s criteria C1 – 5 are brought to bear:

    For a working [bacterial] flagellum to be built by exaptation, the five following conditions would all have to be met:

    C1: Availability. Among the parts available for recruitment to form the flagellum, there would need to be ones capable of performing the highly specialized tasks of paddle, rotor, and motor, even though all of these items serve some other function or no function.

    C2: Synchronization. The availability of these parts would have to be synchronized so that at some point, either individually or in combination, they are all available at the same time.

    C3: Localization. The selected parts must all be made available at the same ‘construction site,’ perhaps not simultaneously but certainly at the time they are needed.

    C4: Coordination. The parts must be coordinated in just the right way: even if all of the parts of a flagellum are available at the right time, it is clear that the majority of ways of assembling them will be non-functional or irrelevant.

    C5: Interface compatibility. The parts must be mutually compatible, that is, ‘well-matched’ and capable of properly ‘interacting’: even if a paddle, rotor, and motor are put together in the right order, they also need to interface correctly.

    ( Agents Under Fire: Materialism and the Rationality of Science, pgs. 104-105 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004). HT: ENV.)

    IC systems are routinely produced by intelligence, starting with say Berlinski’s Dixie cup example: waxed cylinder plus disk stuck together to hold water. There are a great many candidate IC systems in life forms, and none of the attempted darwinian pathway explanations have shown a sound answer in the teeth of C1 -5 and actual observational evidence.

    In short, you have swallowed strawman mischaracterisations, serving as excuses for what is really going on: imposition of a prioi materialism on science, especially on origins.

    Philip Johnson, replying to Lewontin, is apt:

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

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

    You may find the UD Weak Argument Correctives, on the resources tab at the top of this and every UD page, helpful. The glossary and definition of ID will also be helpful. The NWE survey on ID may also prove helpful — the Wikipedia article is a blatantly propagandistic hit piece.

    GEM of TKI

  35. CLAVDIVS

    What would be the consequences should natural selection not, in fact, be the principle mechanism in evolution? How, for example, could it be distinguished from a demon artificially selecting everything from random variations? Or from successful variations that were produced purposefully by evolved cellular mechanisms?

    In fact, can natural selection be defined closely enough to be refuted at all, and if so what is that precise definition?

  36. Null:

    I think Feyerabend et al had it right, science is not a monolithic whole, but a conventional term.

    So, there is no one algorithm of scientific warrant, just a collection of methods that on success have been accepted in relevant fields.

    Inference to best explanation looks, to me, to be the closest I can come to an overarching framework for epistemic warrant. In that context, we have to recognise that theories etc define webs of thought that often embed unobserved or unobservable entities.

    The degree of warrant never approaches absoluteness, starting from the problem of affirming the consequent on Theory => Observations, Observations [perhaps as predicted], so Theory. But, it may be empirically so reliable that we would be foolish to treat it as false. In cases where we find ourselves going in circles of thought, we need to be extra cautious, e.g. in reconstructing the deep past of our planet.

    But we should not fool ourselves that the label “science” is a seal of truth and practically certain knowledge, starting with physics.

    We ought not to genuflect before the holy lab coat.

    That will just attract power-hungry ideologues and charlatans to use the name to extract blind adherence.

    GEM of TKI

  37. Hi Jon Garvey

    In fact, can natural selection be defined closely enough to be refuted at all, and if so what is that precise definition?

    Let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that natural selection can’t be defined and thus can’t be refuted.

    The question still remains: What consequences are clearly and unequivocally entailed by ID, and how can we empirically test them?

    Cheers

  38. KF-

    Please read the following for a morning laugh:

    Creating CSI with NS

    Elizabeth Liddle really thinks she has refuted something Dembski said….

  39. Hi kairosfocus

    If you were to empirically show that complex, specified information, especially functionally specific, complex info, can actually originate within the resources of our solar system, by blind chance and mechanical necessity — no intelligent intervention or direction — ID would be dead.

    A classic, simple test would be to generate a meaningful text of 500 bits by such processes, the million monkeys tests.

    Imagine this scenario: An intelligent designer intervened at certain points in the history of life of earth to produce CSI, but at other times blind mechanisms produced CSI. In this scenario, the intervention of an ID is not refuted by demonstrating blind mechanisms can produce CSI. This is because the hypothesis that an ID intervened in natural history does not logically entail the incapacity of blind mechanisms to produce CSI — both might be true.

    Further, are “million monkeys tests” truly testing the origination of CSI by blind chance and mechanical necessity, when they are simulations running within pre-existing, intelligently designed computer systems?

    And by the way, I’ve not swallowed a priori materialism.

    Cheers

  40. To kairosfocus @ 36

    I think Feyerabend et al had it right, science is not a monolithic whole, but a conventional term.

    Inference to best explanation looks, to me, to be the closest I can come to an overarching framework for epistemic warrant. In that context, we have to recognise that theories etc define webs of thought that often embed unobserved or unobservable entities.

    The degree of warrant never approaches absoluteness, starting from the problem of affirming the consequent on Theory => Observations, Observations [perhaps as predicted], so Theory. But, it may be empirically so reliable that we would be foolish to treat it as false. In cases where we find ourselves going in circles of thought, we need to be extra cautious, e.g. in reconstructing the deep past of our planet.

    But we should not fool ourselves that the label “science” is a seal of truth and practically certain knowledge, starting with physics.

    We ought not to genuflect before the holy lab coat.

    That will just attract power-hungry ideologues and charlatans to use the name to extract blind adherence.

    You should be aware I am in 100% agreement with your comments here.

    Cheers

  41. CLAVDAVIS- if there were any evidence that blind and undirected processes could produce CSI you would have a point.

    ID makes the claim that blind and undirected processes cannot produce CSI

  42. CLAVDIVS
    Let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that natural selection can’t be defined and thus can’t be refuted.
    The question still remains: What consequences are clearly and unequivocally entailed by ID, and how can we empirically test them?

    Let’s assume, also for discussion, that ID like natural selection could not be unequivocally tested: then the consequence would be that there are two competing, non-scientific theories of origins.

    But since falsification as a strict requirement of science is not universally agreed, it’s a bit academic. Whatever predictions natural selection makes could also be produced by, say, a tricksy designer. A label in a cell declaring “Designed and built by Slartibartfast” could be explained by chance (a message being no more unlikely than a non-message, in retrospect). So we’re necessarily reduced to accepting less rigorous criteria, like inference to best explanation.

  43. Hi Joe

    if there were any evidence that blind and undirected processes could produce CSI you would have a point.

    ID makes the claim that blind and undirected processes cannot produce CSI

    OK, so what science would call for, in my view, are unambiguous definitions of blind/undirected processes and CSI, and a procedure to test the claim that the former can’t produce the latter — Or is it “originate CSI” rather than “produce CSI”? This would need to be clearly defined as well.

    Cheers

  44. All — forgive me its a bit late here in Sydney; I will have to go to bed now and attend to any followup comments in about 8 hours.

    Thanks for your responses.

  45. Clavdavis-

    Hey I have a siter-in-law in Sydney- but anyway “No Free Lunch” puts it all on the line….

  46. KF- perhaps you could write a post describing all that is wrong with Ms Liddle’s claim about NS producing CSI- she ain’t listening to me

  47. clavdavis- blind and undirected processes refers to being reducible to matter, energy, necessity and chance

  48. “the reason why critics call ID anti-evolution has far more to do with the usual marketing and politics.” – nullasalus

    Yes, of course. There is much to discuss about ID as a kind of social epistemology. That would fundamentally change the perspective that says persons don’t matter in ‘doing science.’ I believe they/we do matter.

    Margaret Archer could only be considered ‘irrelevant’ by someone who reduces a gigantic conversation about agency, purpose, teleology and plan down to simple biology, botany or sound bytes. Reality is much wider than that, which is why scholars get paid to study it/us.

    Reading Herman Dooyeweerd’s modal aspects might help here, though of course nullasalus’ anti-intellectual attitude might deem him irrelevant too. A simple USamerico-centric approach to this topic is quite obviously insufficient when presented with alternative superior resources.

    I’m pleased to see KF’s appeal to Feyerabend. If only more people would study PoS with some rigour, we’d probably have less of a controversy.

    “Let me be clear: while I don’t think ID is science, I do think ID asks some very important questions, and makes inferences I have great sympathy with.” – nullasalus

    Sure, we are playing on the same card here. Do you not wonder, nullasalus, what motivates the IDM’s leaders to persist then in saying “ID *is* science”? Is this what resists you from being an ID proponent?

    As for taking academics less seriously, well, you should read Steve Fuller’s notion of Prot-Science because that is exactly what you’re suggesting about scientists in your comments. It is the Protestant Reformation with biblical vernacular for the Internet age. Just as Internet enables people to self-generate opinions about ‘science’ it thus allows them/us to challenge the experts (priests). This is what makes uneducated folks feel they can ‘compete’ with PhDs!

    But since you denigrate social sciences as ‘unscientific,’ nullasalus, likely never will ‘intelligence’ or ‘design’ be/become topics worthy of study at a high level.

    “Not everything that leads to reasonable or empirically supported conclusions are necessarily rightly called science. I’ll admit my view on this is my own, not any mainstream one.” – nullasalus

    Actually, as someone who studies this topic in depth, I can say that is the mainstream Anglo-American view; by far it is not just your own.

  49. Joe

    Please give me a link so we can see what is going on.

    But, there is no good reason to believe we can do more than correct for record.

    G

  50. Creating CSI with NS

    She is taking the results of virtual coin tosses, mutating them and seeing if she can get some specification as defined in Dembski’s 2005 paper on specification and chi:

    Imagine a coin-tossing game. On each turn, players toss a fair coin 500 times. As they do so, they record all runs of heads, so that if they toss H T T H H H T H T T H H H H T T T, they will record: 1, 3, 1, 4, representing the number of heads in each run.

    At the end of each round, each player computes the product of their runs-of-heads. The person with the highest product wins.

    In addition, there is a House jackpot. Any person whose product exceeds 10^60 wins the House jackpot.

    There are 2500 possible runs of coin-tosses. However, I’m not sure exactly how many of that vast number of possible series would give a product exceeding 1060. However, if some bright mathematician can work it out for me, we can work out whether a series whose product exceeds 10^60 has CSI. My ballpark estimate says it has.

    That means, clearly, that if we randomly generate many series of 500 coin-tosses, it is exceedingly unlikely, in the history of the universe, that we will get a product that exceeds 10^60.

    However, starting with a randomly generated population of, say 100 series, I propose to subject them to random point mutations and natural selection, whereby I will cull the 50 series with the lowest products, and produce “offspring”, with random point mutations from each of the survivors, and repeat this over many generations.

    I’ve already reliably got to products exceeding 10^58, but it’s possible that I may have got stuck in a local maximum.

    However, before I go further: would an ID proponent like to tell me whether, if I succeed in hitting the jackpot, I have satisfactorily refuted Dembski’s case? And would a mathematician like to check the jackpot?

    I’ve done it in MatLab, and will post the script below. Sorry I don’t speak anything more geek-friendly than MatLab (well, a little Java, but MatLab is way easier for this).

  51. Hello again Gregory-

    Intelligent Design can be tested and either confirmed or falsified. The design inference is based on our knowledge of cause and effect relationships.

    What else does it need before people outside of ID accept it as being scientific?

  52. “However, starting with a randomly generated population of, say 100 series, I propose to subject them to random point mutations and natural selection, whereby I will cull the 50 series with the lowest products, and produce “offspring”, with random point mutations from each of the survivors, and repeat this over many generations.”

    How does having a high product make a sequence self-reproducing so that natural selection is a valid thing to simulate?
    How does multiplying random runs of heads make the result in any way specified? A product of 10^60 would be complex, but hardly specified.

  53. Joe

    Thanks.

    From your clip, at most we have here another hill climber, within an island of function.

    Not an explanation for how you get the relevant function, with reproductive capacity from an arbitrary initial point. Someone needs to tell Dr Liddle et al, that the first issue is to get to the first life form with metabolism and self-replication. Until you can show that on chance plus necessity, all you have is something that says that a designed reproductive capacity can support hill climbing if you have a selection filter. Within an island of function in short.

    Which was never in dispute or doubt.

    She may have complexity indeed, any string of 500 bits is complex, but there is no specification there independent of the string.

    But of course that is probably the point, to try to break down the idea that here is such a thing as a definable specification that is independent of the series of bits in the string and in relevant cases will function in a way dependent on the specific pattern.

    Unfortunately, we are not really dealing with a serious discussion, just something to get to a point where the concept of specification will be dismissed by those disinclined to follow where it points.

    To see how pointless it is, let us suppose she manages to obtain a string that when the runs of H’s are multiplied the product exceeds 10^60 or whatever. Let’s say it actually fits some definition of a “specification.” Would that have shown that by chance and blind necessity, we can generate functional codes that carry out relevant life function, especially by incremental changes?

    Patently not.

    The purpose is rhetorical not serious.

    At most it may tell us we need to tighten the way we talk about a specification.

    And, coming back to the real world, we are dealing with functionally specific complex organisation and associated information. The sort of thing that makes a key fit a lock and open it, but not another apparently similar key. Likewise, the way certain strings of two-bit elements code for proteins that work, and fairly slight disruptions tend to lead of non-function. Where also, we have that protein fold domains are isolated in the space of protein sequences to something like 1 in 10^70.

    Similarly, for the evolutionary materialist narrative to gain traction, they have to account for the origin of a metabolising entity with a code based replication facility.

    And what is happening here is that the relevant config spaces are huge, beyond astronomical, and the co-ordinated complexity of what works, makes sure things are pretty unrepresentative of the field of possible strings. So, chance and blind mechanism do not have capacity to successfully search the space.

    If you are moving around in an island where neighbours are selected and rewarded incrementally, you are within an island of function and have failed to address where the problem begins. Back to the Weasel “misleading” — Dawkins’ admission — example, in yet another guise.

    Disappointing, but not surprising.

    GEM of TKI

  54. Thanks KF-

    I have tried and tried to tell her that she needs to explain the self-replicators- which we already know didn’t exist.

    Also what she is calling “CSI” is just some specification, ie something that can be algorithmically compressed. I told her that computer programs, for example, are CSI and cannot be algorithmically compressed.

    Now her point is once you have replication with variation then CSI just spills out- again I am not sure of her version of CSI but she says chi > 1 has been accomplished, over and over.

    I told her that yeah, if you design a program to produce CSI then it should.

  55. Nullasulas:

    Not everything that leads to reasonable or empirically supported conclusions are necessarily rightly called science. I’ll admit my view on this is my own, not any mainstream one.

    Yes, it does get down to fundamentals, doesn’t it? He who defines terms and frames the issue wins the debate. Everything turns on whether you grant our definition of science or whether we grant your definition of science. All further analysis is redundant.

    I accept the traditional (and ID compatible) definition:

    “science: a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe. [Concise Oxford, 1990]

    scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge [”the body of truth, information and principles acquired by mankind”] involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. [Webster's 7th Collegiate, 1965]”

    It seems reasonable to me, then, that anyone who holds a different view should, in the spirit of good-faith dialogue [a] provide his own definition of science and [b] support that formulation with a coherent rationale.

  56. kf,

    But we should not fool ourselves that the label “science” is a seal of truth and practically certain knowledge, starting with physics.

    We ought not to genuflect before the holy lab coat.

    That will just attract power-hungry ideologues and charlatans to use the name to extract blind adherence.

    Well, I agree with much of what you say in your entire reply, and particularly here. Really, I would expand the problem from “science” to “academia” in general – the problems with “scientists” are often problems with “professors” as well.

    I agree that there’s no simple formula for determining “this is science, and this is not”. My own definition is conditional and qualified. But I think the best way to avoid the problems you highlight is to recognize that science as a field has some severe limitations, and that “inference to the best explanation” is not at all identical to the scientific method.

    StephenB,

    Yes, it does get down to fundamentals, doesn’t it? He who defines terms and frames the issue wins the debate. Everything turns on whether you grant our definition of science or whether we grant your definition of science. All further analysis is redundant.

    Well, hold on now. I’m not debating anyone here, at least not at this moment. I’m just frankly saying that I think “science” is rightly defined in a far more limited way – a way that’s not only more limited than what ID proponents want, but a way that’s more limited than what many ID *opponents* want. Trust me – promoting a view of science where design’s presence *or lack* are non-scientific questions, where scientific theories are neither teleological or non-teleological but utterly silent on the question of teleology, will tick off Jerry Coyne far more than Michael Behe.

    But either way, I’m not debating this here. Just stating my view frankly.

    It seems reasonable to me, then, that anyone who holds a different view should, in the spirit of good-faith dialogue [a] provide his own definition of science and [b] support that formulation with a coherent rationale.

    Ugh. Dialogue. Frankly, I’ll pass. I have not been “debating” this. My position on ID was pretty tangential to the discussion so far, and I’ve discussed this here more than once. I probably will again in the future. But not every time I happen to state my position.

    Loosely, I think science is best defined as dealing with primary qualities and certain core metaphysical assumptions (PSR, for example), and not dealing with secondary qualities or more extraneous metaphysical assumptions (denial of causation, for example). I’m sure you know the distinction. The more central secondary qualities become to the theorizing and investigation, the less it has to do with science.

    Want to infer a bacterial flagellum is designed? You may well have great reason to. Indeed, your reasoning may be compelling. I’m just not going to consider it “science”. Which shouldn’t be much of an issue if your main concern is whether or not your conclusion is warranted. Along KF’s lines, I’m no fan of genuflecting before the holy lab coat, and I think one reason for all the genuflecting is that people seek out the blessings of scientists in areas that are not science, rather than properly telling them to put a sock in it and treating their opinions as equivalent to any other person’s.

  57. Gregory,

    Margaret Archer could only be considered ‘irrelevant’ by someone who reduces a gigantic conversation about agency, purpose, teleology and plan down to simple biology, botany or sound bytes. Reality is much wider than that, which is why scholars get paid to study it/us.

    To be dead frank, “scholars” often get paid to study complete nonsense, and quite a lot of their pay comes in the form of government subsidization. You really don’t want to use an argument which amounts to “Of course it’s worth doing. Otherwise why would the government pay for it?”

    That said, yes, reality is much wider. Archer may have some valid insights. But you’re the one who brought up ‘context’ and how ID proponents “don’t matter” in them. And I’m pointing up how, rightly or wrongly, practically irrelevant your context of choice is. I’m probably, out of everyone on UD, the least impressed by the trends in deeper academia.

    Reading Herman Dooyeweerd’s modal aspects might help here, though of course nullasalus’ anti-intellectual attitude might deem him irrelevant too. A simple USamerico-centric approach to this topic is quite obviously insufficient when presented with alternative superior resources.

    I’m not “anti-intellectual” in the sense of disregarding intellectual pursuits. I support them. I’m anti-intellectual insofar as “intellectual” refers to people, ie, “the leading intellectuals happen to say…” Last I saw, a pack of “intellectual bio-ethicists” were suggesting that there’s nothing really wrong with infanticide. I think they should be fired and shamed. If that makes me anti-intellectual, git me mah tractor ‘n mah pig.

    Sure, we are playing on the same card here. Do you not wonder, nullasalus, what motivates the IDM’s leaders to persist then in saying “ID *is* science”? Is this what resists you from being an ID proponent?

    What motivates them? The belief that ID is science, I imagine. The desire to be able to speak with the authority of science, just as Dawkins does whenever he goes off on some half-assed jag about God being a scientific hypothesis. And frankly, they have every right to demand as such, because “science” is abused more often by the anti-teleology crowd, and has been for a long time, without the “science defenders” saying much of anything.

    Just as Internet enables people to self-generate opinions about ‘science’ it thus allows them/us to challenge the experts (priests). This is what makes uneducated folks feel they can ‘compete’ with PhDs!

    They very often can “compete” with PhDs, precisely because PhDs so often talk outside of their field, while pretending they have some particular authority to do so. Once again: Richard Dawkins’ thoughts on God have as much intellectual weight as a plumber’s. Or to paraphrase George Carlin, “I have as much authority on theological subjects as Dawkins has. I just have fewer people who believe it.”

    But since you denigrate social sciences as ‘unscientific,’ nullasalus, likely never will ‘intelligence’ or ‘design’ be/become topics worthy of study at a high level.

    Wait a second. I thought they were already worthy of study – hence Archer and Dooyeweerd. ;)

    Yeah, this type of thinking is part of the problem. You equate “worthy of study” with “being scientific”. I happen to disagree, strongly.

    You tell me, Gregory. Is something only worth studying – can it only lead to reasonable conclusions – if it is “science”?

  58. “You tell me, Gregory. Is something only worth studying – can it only lead to reasonable conclusions – if it is “science”?” – nullasalus

    If it is knowledge – going back to Latin for ‘science’, nullasalus. We now live in a knowledge society, within the electronic-information age. McLuhan is more powerful than Bacon, by far, and for you a fellow Catholic at that.

    “The belief that ID is science, I imagine. The desire to be able to speak with the authority of science…” – nullasalus

    Yes, it is a ‘belief,’ rather than knowledge, isn’t it, based usually on a desire?

    “PhDs so often talk outside of their field” – nullasalus

    Yes, as Behe and Einstein have said (same breath!?). Then I will do my best here to speak only inside or within my field.

    As it happens, I’m one of very few who has studied and actually defended theses in front of academic committees on the topic of ‘intelligent design’ and the IDM. The IDM may or may not wish to admit this, but I’ve studied them from inside the DI at their Summer Program. Thus there’s a difference between a ‘pink’ steak and one that is by experience/experiment ‘well-done.’

    ‘Joe’ can go eat a tasty crackerjack now, if his babysitter allows him.

  59. If it is knowledge – going back to Latin for ‘science’, nullasalus. We now live in a knowledge society, within the electronic-information age. McLuhan is more powerful than Bacon, by far, and for you a fellow Catholic at that.

    Not all knowledge is science, and “going back to the latin” isn’t decisive here. Otherwise you’d be telling me that astrology is science. Not all warranted belief and reasoning is science either.

    Yes, it is a ‘belief,’ rather than knowledge, isn’t it, based usually on a desire?

    Based on arguments and evidence and some presuppositions. Man, I really suggest you don’t play the “cute manipulation of words” game with me. I’ll frankly say I’ll do it better. Right now, not interested.

    Yes, as Behe and Einstein have said (same breath!?). Then I will do my best here to speak only inside or within my field.

    Why? How about speaking outside your field, but qualifying yourself appropriately? The problem isn’t that a physicist talks about theology or has theological views and ideas. The problem is when the physicist confuses those views with, and presents those views as, science – worse, science that he’s an authority regarding.

    As it happens, I’m one of very few who has studied and actually defended theses in front of academic committees on the topic of ‘intelligent design’ and the IDM.

    Oh boy, an actual academic committee? Did they wear fancy hats, by chance? That’s how you can tell they’re authorities you know. And you attended the summer program? Congratulations.

    Look, you’re an interesting guy with interesting thoughts. But you’re pretty damn insufferable when your comments are just namedropping of books you’ve read or people you think should be more influential, or assertions that you’re quite knowledgeable. No harm done – I’m pretty insufferable too most of the time. But I kindly suggest, since you have the potential to do so, that you start giving actual input on these topics. And “everyone should take sociology more seriously!” doesn’t count for input.

  60. “Not all knowledge is science” – nullasalus

    Yes, that’s precisely the point and also why you differ from IDM leaders who insist that ‘intelligent design’ is ‘scientific.’ You say it isn’t, but seem to be hedging your bets, as a good Catholic might.

    Let me reiterate your thoughts, regarding the IDM with which I concur: why? “The desire to be able to speak with the authority of science…”

    This is a great problem with the IDM’s claims. Legitimacy.

    “How about speaking outside your field, but qualifying yourself appropriately?” – nullasalus

    Yes, of course. Well requested. I’m trained in 3 fields. How about you, nullasalus. Which field(s) would you say you can speak authoratatively in? Do you have specialized (scientific) knowledge? Are you qualified or seeking qualification?

    “The problem is when the physicist confuses those views with, and presents those views as, science – worse, science that he’s an authority regarding.” – nullasalus

    Goodness, yes. That’s why I often hark upon the quote by G.B. Shaw about ‘specialist idiots.’

    If you are not defending ID as ‘science,’ then as ‘what’ do you defend or promote ID? As a story? As a meta-narrative? As a myth?

  61. Yes, that’s precisely the point and also why you differ from IDM leaders who insist that ‘intelligent design’ is ‘scientific.’ You say it isn’t, but seem to be hedging your bets, as a good Catholic might.

    Hedging how? The only “hedge” I have is this: when it comes to policy (as much as I can affect them, lone meager citizen-nobody that I am), if the it’s considered “science” for Dawkins to say that God’s existence is a scientific hypothesis, or for Victor Stenger to say science shows God doesn’t exist, then for practical purposes I’ll consider ID as science after all, and be quite content with it being treated as such.

    This is a great problem with the IDM’s claims. Legitimacy.

    It’s not a “problem with the IDM’s claims”. It’s a problem with many, many claims, of which the IDM is just the latest iteration. I refuse to endorse a double standard where Behe is treated as some kind of science-harming monster for speculating about the limitations of Darwinian evolutiton or even inferring design (in the most qualified sense imaginable), but similar excesses on the part of Dawkins or even Darwin himself are forgiven or encouraged.

    Yes, of course. Well requested. I’m trained in 3 fields. How about you, nullasalus. Which field(s) would you say you can speak authoratatively in? Do you have specialized (scientific) knowledge? Are you qualified or seeking qualification?

    Have you missed the part where I said I really don’t care about academic standards, particularly with regards to who can “speak authoritatively”? Or that I don’t care if someone speaks outside of their field, so long as they don’t pretend they’re an authority on what they’re therefore speaking about?

    As for your training in three fields (whatever they are), they don’t seem to be seeing much use in this conversation. But it could have been worse – you could have majored in english.

    If you are not defending ID as ‘science,’ then as ‘what’ do you defend or promote ID? As a story? As a meta-narrative? As a myth?

    The fact that you apparently think that, if something is not science, then it must therefore be “a story, a meta-narrative, or a myth” is telling. I think ID asks legitimate questions – is nature designed? Are physical laws designed? Is the universe at a certain level designed? Are living things designed? I think the IDM sometimes makes some legitimate criticisms of current evolutionary theory, though that’s not the same as an ID inference. I think ID inferences can be reasonable, even if they’re not properly called science. And I think ID serves as a fantastic counterbalance to popular abuse of science – maybe it will one day be less appealing to men like Jerry Coyne to abuse science if their actions indirectly legitimize ID.

    I answered your question, Gregory. Now maybe you’ll answer mine: exactly what is your problem with ID? And please, for the love of God, I hope it’s not something like “they fail to take seriously or sufficiently include the work of prominent sociologists” or something like that.

  62. Hi Joe

    J: if there were any evidence that blind and undirected processes could produce CSI you would have a point.

    ID makes the claim that blind and undirected processes cannot produce CSI

    C: OK, so what science would call for, in my view, are unambiguous definitions of blind/undirected processes and CSI, and a procedure to test the claim that the former can’t produce the latter — Or is it “originate CSI” rather than “produce CSI”? This would need to be clearly defined as well.

    J: …“No Free Lunch” puts it all on the line…

    I don’t think No Free Lunch gives an unambiguous definition of CSI because he acknowledges that the specification is subjective:

    Nothing is ever specifiable as such but only in relation to a subject that does the specifying. … Is specification therefore subjective? Yes, but not in a way that limit’s specification’s usefulness to science. It is important here to grasp John Searle’s distinction between ontological subjectivity and epistemic objectivity. … Specifications are ontologically subjective but epistemically objective.
    — Dembski, W. A., No Free Lunch (2007), p.66 (emphasis added)

    Dr Dembski tries to rescue specification from subjectivity by appealing to John Searle. This rescue doesn’t really work: Dembski glosses over Searle’s requirement that epistemic objectivity must be based upon some objective criteria for evaluating claims about subjective phenomena. But the specification is part of the evaluation criteria, not the phenomenon!

    Empirical tests call for objective criteria, not subjective ones. This may be a significant reason why CSI, as described in No Free Lunch, has not enjoyed acceptance in the sciences.

    Cheers

  63. Hi Jon Garvey

    C: Let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that natural selection can’t be defined and thus can’t be refuted.
    The question still remains: What consequences are clearly and unequivocally entailed by ID, and how can we empirically test them?

    J: Let’s assume, also for discussion, that ID like natural selection could not be unequivocally tested: then the consequence would be that there are two competing, non-scientific theories of origins.

    But since falsification as a strict requirement of science is not universally agreed, it’s a bit academic. Whatever predictions natural selection makes could also be produced by, say, a tricksy designer. A label in a cell declaring “Designed and built by Slartibartfast” could be explained by chance (a message being no more unlikely than a non-message, in retrospect). So we’re necessarily reduced to accepting less rigorous criteria, like inference to best explanation.

    I agree, and this echoes my comments above. Inference to the best explanation, aka abduction, requires establishing that A entails B, so that if we observe effect B, we can infer cause A.

    Without clear and unequivocal entailments of an ID hypothesis that can be empirically tested, ID will be unlikely to gain recognition as sound science.

    Cheers

    PS: It’s been a long time since I read Hitchhiker’s Guide. Your reference brought back fond memories.

  64. Hi Joe @ 47

    C: … what science would call for, in my view, are unambiguous definitions of blind/undirected processes and CSI, and a procedure to test the claim that the former can’t produce the latter — Or is it “originate CSI” rather than “produce CSI”? This would need to be clearly defined as well.

    J: … blind and undirected processes refers to being reducible to matter, energy, necessity and chance

    But is that definition of blind/undirected processes able to be operationalised so it can be empirically tested?

    If human intelligence is not reducible to matter, energy, necessity and chance, then it would seem any test performed by humans would be automatically “contaminated” by intelligent design, and would not be a true test of blind/undirected processes.

    Cheers

  65. C: Passing through. Are you familiar with random walks, monkeys art keyboards and the like? Similarly, with typical situations in a vat of mixed up chemicals that may react at will? Chance based blind searches are commonplace, so I wonder why you are trying to raise the issue of getting a chance based search process to be an obstacle. KF

  66. Hi kairosfocus

    k: I wonder why you are trying to raise the issue of getting a chance based search process to be an obstacle.

    Because Eric Anderson said(at 30) “I’m struggling to understand why ID would not be considered science” and we’re exploring that issue.

    If a proposed test for ID involves testing blind/indirected processes, but blind/undirected processes cannot be clearly and unambiguously operationally defined for empirical testing, then that’s one possible reason why some ID concepts are not considered science.

    Cheers

  67. Clavdivs @64 and 66:

    It is true that many experiments which allegedly show complex specified information arising through natural processes actually incorporate through the back door the information the experimenter alleges is arising through natural processes. In that sense, those experiments could be considered “contaminated.” In addition, it is true that human intelligence often intervenes to help the result along toward the desired path (e.g., Miller-Urey and other OOL experiments).

    However, that does not mean that it is impossible to design an appropriately blind or undirected experiment. Further, as a practical matter, particularly in the chemistry area, some aspects of the experiment must often be controlled and directed. That is OK, as long as they are clearly identified as such, the limitations are acknowledged, and the results are appropriately tempered and accurately described.

    There is no fundamental obstacle to creating an appropriately blind/undirected experiment. It just has to be carefully done and scrupulously described when reporting the results.

  68. CLAVDIVS

    Re:

    If a proposed test for ID involves testing blind/indirected processes, but blind/undirected processes cannot be clearly and unambiguously operationally defined for empirical testing, then that’s one possible reason why some ID concepts are not considered science.

    Pardon me but that is rubbish, and given that there is reasonably accessible corrective material out there, you should know that.

    With all due respect, you are sounding uncomfortably like you are of the prior conviction that design thinkers do not know what they are talking about, so it is only a matter of finding where the big blunders lie, i.e. you seem to be assuming such big blunders MUST be there. (Has it ever dawned on you that maybe we do know what we are talking about and just maybe, it is the a priori materialism driven critics of design theory who just may have the real problem?)

    Problems, similar to the following from Lewontin (and there are many more like this, cf here on):

    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 . . . [This is such a cat out of the bag clip that all sorts of assertions are made to try to pretend that it is quote mining, kindly read the just above linked to see for yourself that this is NOT quote mining, then read the other four quotes in succession thereafter to see that this is a pervasive problem, not an idiosyncrasy.]

    (Let me suggest, further, that you may find the wider context here on a useful, 101 level first read on how design theory operates, including addressing your underlying issue.)

    Okay, let’s deal with the basics.

    If you want to generate an absolutely random source of bits that is “easy” to do, indeed here is a whole industry out there that does it, e.g. by setting up a Johnson counter that would drive a pseudorandom sequence by itself, and then coupling it to a sky noise or a Zener noise source to generate a white noise spectrum source that gives genuinely flat-random numbers. (This flattens off the natural random noise sources.)

    Such a source can then be used to drive genuinely random searches of a config space, the classic example being million monkeys at the keyboards type exercises.

    Here is the result, citing wiki testifying against known ideological interest:

    A website entitled The Monkey Shakespeare Simulator, launched on July 1, 2003, contained a Java applet that simulates a large population of monkeys typing randomly, with the stated intention of seeing how long it takes the virtual monkeys to produce a complete Shakespearean play from beginning to end. For example, it produced this partial line from Henry IV, Part 2, reporting that it took “2,737,850 million billion billion billion monkey-years” to reach 24 matching characters:

    RUMOUR. Open your ears; 9r”5j5&?OWTY Z0d…

    Due to processing power limitations, the program uses a probabilistic model (by using a random number generator or RNG) instead of actually generating random text and comparing it to Shakespeare. When the simulator “detects a match” (that is, the RNG generates a certain value or a value within a certain range), the simulator simulates the match by generating matched text . . .

    So, we see the result of such random text generation exercises, which is well short of the 73 ASCII character threshold (500 bits) for the solar system resources threshold for FSCI or more broadly CSI. You may wish to see the derivation (here) of the simple metric:

    Chi_500 = Ip*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold.

    Going back to Wiki, we can now see a very revealing immediately following passage:

    More sophisticated methods are used in practice for natural language generation. If instead of simply generating random characters one restricts the generator to a meaningful vocabulary and conservatively following grammar rules, like using a context-free grammar, then a random document generated this way can even fool some humans (at least on a cursory reading) as shown in the experiments with SCIgen, snarXiv, and the Postmodernism Generator.

    But of course, what is now happening is that a whole lot of intelligently directed active information is now at work. This is precisely NOT random document generation, but intelligent document generation with controlled randomness.

    And the difference is not at all that hard to spot, but of course we see Wiki’s bias at work.

    Going on to the algorithmic simulation of evolutionary mechanisms, so-called evolutionary algorithms, this is exactly the pattern that plays out: if you stick with the genuinely random, you get nowhere interesting, and — from Weasel on — the exercises that do generate interesting looking results invariably are loaded with intelligent inputs. As a rule, they start within an island of function and indulge in some species of hill climbing or other. That’s why famed mathematician Gregory Chaitin, in a recent paper, Life as Evolving Software (Sept. 7, 2011), has observed:

    . . . we present an information-theoretic analysis of Darwin’s theory of evolution, modeled as a hill-climbing algorithm on a ?tness landscape. Our space of possible organisms consists of computer programs, which are subjected to random mutations. We study the random walk of increasing ?tness made by a single mutating organism. [[p.1]

    In short, the simulations address how to climb hills in an island of function; design theory — by contrast — is about the challenge to get to the shorelines of such islands of function in config spaces that are beyond the random search capacity of the solar system [500 bits] or the observed cosmos [1,000 bits]. Until you have function, your fitness function must have value zero, so you have no differential success to ratchet off with a hill-climbing algorithm. And until you have an adequate theory of getting to shores of such islands of function, you have a theory of micro-evolution, not macro- evolution.

    The only known, empirically observed source of functionally specific complex information is design, as the posts in this thread — being digital strings — exemplify.

    What is the relevance of all of this to life forms?

    Observed life forms are based on metabolic automata with built in self-replication facilities, that use DNA codes. Those codes per observation, start out in the range of 100 – 1,000 k bits. In short we are 100 – 1,000 times the observed cosmos threshold for FSCI already, for the simplest observed cell based life forms, which use a digital code (actually, it seems several codes). Worse, the very existence of specific codes doing specific algorithms and the like, implies a tight restriction on the particular case, something which is confirmed by the results from sufficient random perturbation. The islands of function in a sea of non-function effect is real. (For the Darwinian smoothly varying and branching tree of life to have happened instead, there would have to be in effect a vast continent of function that starts out at a level of simplicity sufficient for there to be a plausible access on the gamut of available cosmic resources, and then leading on by increments to the diversity and complexity we see. After many decades of trying, starting with OOL studies, there is nowhere the faintest trace of that continent of function, only a lot of evidence for the reality of the expected islands. To see why, look above at the random text generation exercises.)

    What design theory suggests is that this is an example of a feature of the natural world that exhibits a known phenomenon, a phenomenon that on empirical observation and related analysis, is a reliable sign of intelligent design.

    To break that conclusion, all that would be required is to show that FSCI can be credibly created by chance plus necessity without undue intelligent intervention. The threshold of undue intervention is not too hard to spot, as was shown above.

    Nor is this a new challenge, it has been on the table since the 1970′s and 80′s, once the concept that cell based life shows functionally specific complex organisation and associated information had been fully worked out.

    What has happened over the past 30 – 40 years, is that it is increasingly clear that the prevailing evolutionary materialist paradigm has not got a clue as to how to solve the problem. That is why we see ever so many tangential discussions and exercises presented as though they were real answers, of which Weasel of course is the most notorious.

    The problem is not that the key ID concepts or proposals are not amenable to empirical test, but that the tests strongly point where the materialist establishment does not want to go.

    GEM of TKI

  69. Null:

    Pardon if I communicated an EQUATING of IBE and Sci Method, that was not intended.

    Sci methods — plural is deliberate — at their best — identification of a not always achieved ideal is also deliberate — infer to best current, empirically based explanatory constructs, such as models, laws and theories; through a social and rational process of observation, pattern recognition, abduction of hyps etc, elaboration of consequences (brings in predictions), empirical testing and discussion among the informed.

    That qualifies and restricts considerably.

    Am I clearer to you now?

    KF

  70. F/N: Once we keep the ball in view, i.e. function, it is fairly easy to have objectively recognisable or even measurable cases of specification. That a particular key fits a specific lock and opens it is quite objective, thank you. Also, subjectivity is not the opposite of objectivity, no more than the personal aspect of knowledge undermines its objectivity as well warranted. KF

  71. Hi kairosfocus

    Going on to the algorithmic simulation of evolutionary mechanisms, so-called evolutionary algorithms, this is exactly the pattern that plays out: if you stick with the genuinely random, you get nowhere interesting, and — from Weasel on — the exercises that do generate interesting looking results invariably are loaded with intelligent inputs.

    And this is exactly my point — there does not in principle appear to be a way to put blind/undirected processes to the test where both ID proponents and ID opponents can agree that blind/undirected processes are in fact being tested.

    At 47 above, blind/undirected was defined as “being reducible to matter, energy, necessity and chance“. In my view (and Eric’s it seems) it’s possible in principle to model and test such processes in silico, with careful controls.

    But it appears you have a different definition of blind/undirected processes than given at 47 i.e. that they may only behave like “million monkeys” tests, involving random sampling based of a search space with full replacement every iteration.

    The problem with this, as I see it, is that as a test it is trivial and uninformative. Everybody agrees that “million monkey” processes cannot create specified complexity in reasonable timeframes. Such is not entailed specifically by ID, but its just common sense and as such is entailed by pretty much every concept of origins imaginable, including atheistic ones. A test that provides equal to support to all competing hypotheses is not really a useful test.

    I believe ID proponents need to generate some clearer entailments of their hypothesis that are empirically testable, so the results of the test actually make a difference to what we know about the world. Until then, ID may struggle to find acceptance in the sciences.

    Cheers

  72. Clavdivs: “. . . there does not in principle appear to be a way to put blind/undirected processes to the test where both ID proponents and ID opponents can agree that blind/undirected processes are in fact being tested.”

    You may be right, but that is a philosophical/psychological issue, not so much a scientific one. I think the processes can be tested. And when they have been tested, they have been found wanting.

    Now if the question is whether ID opponents are willing to acknowledge that evolutionary algorithms and similar exercises actually incorporate the information through the back door, that is quite a different question. That acknowledgement may require an admission that the alleged creative mechanism of the materialist creation myth is not really able to do much; or at the very least that there still hasn’t been a good example found and that more searching is required; or perhaps it just takes too long and we’ll never be able to find it; or perhaps it usually doesn’t work, but we just got lucky in our particular universe. Lots of fallback positions available, to be sure, but acknowledging the failed test is a hard pill for many to swallow.

    So they keep coming up with games about how this or that process or this or that algorithm has produced specified complexity, only for the more careful thinkers to have to point out that the process doesn’t actually do much. A couple of years later when everyone has quietly lost interest in the prior “demonstration,” someone comes up with a new algorithm or a new example that is (fingers crossed this time) going to demonstrate that blind material processes can do all that work of creating.

    You’re right, though. It would be great if everyone across the board could agree on a once-and-for-all test and then accept the results dispassionately. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to happen . . .

  73. And this is exactly my point — there does not in principle appear to be a way to put blind/undirected processes to the test where both ID proponents and ID opponents can agree that blind/undirected processes are in fact being tested.

    1- That is YOUR position’s issue

    2- I am sure you are mistaken

    To elab:- We observe nature, operating freely, ie blind and undirected processes. We observe leaves being blown by the wind, erosion from wind and water, storms forming and things like that which do not require agency involvement.

    ID’s entailments are the same as for archaeology and forensics-> namely that when intelligent agents act within nature they tend to leave traces of those actions behind. Then we come along, find and evaluate those traces.

  74. Hi Eric

    C: … there does not in principle appear to be a way to put blind/undirected processes to the test where both ID proponents and ID opponents can agree that blind/undirected processes are in fact being tested.

    You may be right, but that is a philosophical/psychological issue, not so much a scientific one. I think the processes can be tested. And when they have been tested, they have been found wanting.

    You’re right, though. It would be great if everyone across the board could agree on a once-and-for-all test and then accept the results dispassionately. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to happen . . .

    A depressing thought indeed. If the issue is a philosophical one, then this is a straightforward explanation for why ID is having trouble being recognised as science. If something can’t be objectively defined and empirically tested – for whatever reason – then it can’t really be called science.

    Cheers

  75. Hi Joe

    To elab:- We observe nature, operating freely, ie blind and undirected processes. We observe leaves being blown by the wind, erosion from wind and water, storms forming and things like that which do not require agency involvement.

    You’ve highlighted various processes that have chaotic outcomes. But we also observe natural processes that result in orderly outcomes, like the sorting of grain size by sedimentation, or the selection of stable orbits for planets via removal of bodies with unstable orbits. Such processes do not appear to involve agency.

    Do you exclude natural sorting and selecting mechanisms from being blind/undirected?

    Cheers

  76. Clavdivs:

    A depressing thought indeed. If the issue is a philosophical one, then this is a straightforward explanation for why ID is having trouble being recognised as science. If something can’t be objectively defined and empirically tested – for whatever reason – then it can’t really be called science.

    I presume you understand the philosophical issue is on the materialist side, and you aren’t trying to twist my statement to make it sound like the design inference is philosophical?

  77. But we also observe natural processes that result in orderly outcomes, like the sorting of grain size by sedimentation, or the selection of stable orbits for planets via removal of bodies with unstable orbits. Such processes do not appear to involve agency.

    Of course not. They involve law. And don’t generate complex specified information.

  78. Hi Eric

    C: But we also observe natural processes that result in orderly outcomes, like the sorting of grain size by sedimentation, or the selection of stable orbits for planets via removal of bodies with unstable orbits. Such processes do not appear to involve agency.

    Of course not. They involve law. And don’t generate complex specified information.

    Well, I assume you’re not defining blind/undirected processes to be those that do not generate complex specified information. That would be begging the question.

    So, if we grant that selecting stable planetary orbits by culling unstable orbits is a blind/undirected process, then what is so different about an algorithm that culls via a mechnistic, lawlike fitness function? Based on my reading, it does not appear that ID advocates accept the latter as valid instance of blind/undirected processes.

    I think the reasoning is that a fitness function imports information from the surrounding fitness landscape, so therefore the function is directed. But isn’t that exactly what’s happening with the planets – they import information about which orbits are stable via a lawlike rule that removes them from the orbital system if their orbits are unstable; whatever is left after N orbits is stable. In both cases, the “culling” rule is a lawlike mechanism with no intelligence, agency or intentionality.

    What in your view are the significant differences between these two scenarios that makes one directed, and the other blind and undirected?

    Cheers

  79. Clavdivs:

    No, I’m not defining the processes that way. I’m using the standard concepts of chance and necessity.

    We can talk about planetary orbits and evolutionary algorithms, but you mentioned “information” in a general sense, so I think we might need to step back to a basic starting point just to make sure we are using the same terminology and are on the same page.

    Do you think there is any difference in the information contained in a pile of rocks versus the same rocks arranged to spell “to be or not to be”? I’m not being facetious. This is a basic issue we need to agree on or the rest of the discussion is meaningless.

  80. Do you exclude natural sorting and selecting mechanisms from being blind/undirected?

    No, however I have never seen nature select.

  81. So, if we grant that selecting stable planetary orbits by culling unstable orbits is a blind/undirected process, then what is so different about an algorithm that culls via a mechnistic, lawlike fitness function?

    What is a stable planetary orbit? Any orbit that exists unimpeded?

    Do you have a rigorous mathematical definition for a “stable planetary orbit”? ;)

  82. “Do you think there is any difference in the information contained in a pile of rocks versus the same rocks arranged to spell “to be or not to be”?” – Eric Anderson

    The latter is an example of human intelligence, specifically, it is a phrase originally attributable to the British poet and author/creator/designer/composer/writer named William Shakespeare (though there are some people who think such a singular man in human history didn’t really write many or all of the things attributed to him).

    Whoever (meaning a person) hypothetically arranged those rocks to spell ‘to be or not to be’ in the second example either them-self read or else somehow knew about Shakespeare’s phrase. That is, without the historical Shakespeare phrase (precedent), the specific ‘intelligence’ in the well-known phrase would be unknowable (cf. anonymous), ‘un-designed’ or else a neologism.

    When CLAVDIVS says “there does not in principle appear to be a way to put blind/undirected processes to the test,” I’m wondering what Eric would/could offer as an example/explanation that the former ROCK PILE is ‘not designed information’ while at the same time he believes the latter ‘is designed information’? A pile of rocks *could* be ‘planned’ to be next to impossible to detect as a ‘pile:’ what guarantees that no ‘intelligence’ was involved in the ‘piling?’

    One of my challenges, to begin to address nullasalus’ open (problem) question to me above, is that ‘un-designed information’ seems not to be part of the IDM’s scope, just as ‘unevolved’ things are not part of evolutionism’s scope as a universal ideology. Thus, designism demonstrates the same ‘type’ of ideology that evolutionism does when there are no limits placed/acknowledged on design/Design.

    “A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him [sic] the image of a cathedral.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    Does ‘imago Dei’ really have absolutely nothing to do with ‘intelligent design theory’?

  83. Gregory: –’A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him [sic] the image of a cathedral.’ – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    What is your interpretation of that passage? How does it relate to ID theory?

    –“Does ‘imago Dei’ really have absolutely nothing to do with ‘intelligent design theory’?”

    Why do you think “image Dei has something to do with ID theory?

  84. Yes Gregory, intelligent agencies can mimic nature, operating freely, ie leave no trace of their involvement behind. So what?

  85. Gregory @82:

    I’m trying to keep us focused on the very narrow issues addressed by ID, not get off on a discussion about the ‘image of God’ or whatever, as interesting as that may be.

    Intelligent design does not attempt to identify all things designed. There can be things designed that appear to have been caused naturally, such as the faux texture I applied to my wall when I painted my office or the “riverbed” of rocks in my front yard. ID cannot, and has never claimed to be able to, confirm that something wasn’t designed.

    ID does, however, claim to be able to identify that some things are designed.

    ID is a very limited enterprise. It isn’t a theory of everything.

    Incidentally, your response and questions confirm and underscore the very point I was making: you acknowledge that the rocks laid out to spell a phrase is an example of intelligent activity. While the pile of rocks only could be.

    This distinction is basic. And quite critical.

  86. Hi Joe @ 80

    C: Do you exclude natural sorting and selecting mechanisms from being blind/undirected?

    No, however I have never seen nature select.

    That’s the point of the planetary orbit example — it’s a blind/undirected selecting process.

    A sieve is a similar example – it selects only objects small enough to fit through the holes, in a blind and undirected manner. There are naturally occurring sieves e.g. zeolite.

    Cheers

  87. Hi CLAVDIVS-

    What is a stable planetary orbit? Any orbit that exists unimpeded?

    Do you have a rigorous mathematical definition for a “stable planetary orbit”? ;)

  88. Hi Joe @ 81

    C: So, if we grant that selecting stable planetary orbits by culling unstable orbits is a blind/undirected process, then what is so different about an algorithm that culls via a mechnistic, lawlike fitness function?

    What is a stable planetary orbit? Any orbit that exists unimpeded?

    Do you have a rigorous mathematical definition for a “stable planetary orbit”?

    Yes, you have it exactly – it’s very difficult to provide a rigorous mathematical definition of a stable orbit in an N-body system.

    However, over the course of many orbits, the blind process of gravitational acceleration selects certain planets for removal from the planetary system — they either collide with other objects and are destroyed, or fall into the sun, or are flung away into interstellar space. The ones that remain behind are in “stable orbits” … for now.

    One very abstract way to look at this is that the planets are attempting to maximise their number of orbits before being removed from the system. Those that remain after many orbits exhibit a high fitness relative to this goal, due to the shape of their orbit, their distance from the sun, their mass, their position relative to cometary orbits etc. etc.

    Cheers

  89. So a stable planetary orbit for one system may not resemble a stable planetary orbit for another system.

    Is there any way to predict what orbit will be the stable planetary orbit? Or it just is what it is?

    And now you have planets attempting to do things. What happens when planets attempt to knock out other planets? That’s right- we end up with super jupiters with tight orbits and no other planets around- sometimes there can be only one stable orbit…

    But anyway, go ahead-> planetary selection via the stable orbit fitness function….

  90. fitness landscape, not function…

    But anyway, go ahead-> planetary selection via the stable orbit fitness landscape

  91. Hi Eric @ 79

    We can talk about planetary orbits and evolutionary algorithms, but you mentioned “information” in a general sense, so I think we might need to step back to a basic starting point just to make sure we are using the same terminology and are on the same page.

    Do you think there is any difference in the information contained in a pile of rocks versus the same rocks arranged to spell “to be or not to be”? I’m not being facetious. This is a basic issue we need to agree on or the rest of the discussion is meaningless.

    Yes, there is a difference in information between a pile of rocks and rocks arranged into an English sentence. However, the information I am referring to is semantic i.e. it has meaning only to an intelligent agent.*

    Accordingly, such information is inherently subjective. This means there are some situations where it may not be possible to tell whether the pile of rocks has more or less information content than the rocks arranged into a sentence – for example, to an alien intelligence with no clue about human semiotic conventions, the pile of rocks may appears as a famous line of poetry in their language, whilst Shakespeare looks like a random jumble. Or, as another example, one could say a pile of rocks arranged as a grave marker has more semantic content than the sentence.

    Cheers

    * I’m assuming you’re not referring to information measures like Shannon’s or Kolmogorov’s which can be objectively computed, although I wouldn’t know how to do so in this scenario.

  92. Hi Joe @ 89

    So a stable planetary orbit for one system may not resemble a stable planetary orbit for another system.

    It may not, but my understanding — as a non-astrophysicist — is that there are relatively few orbital patterns that remain stable over long periods under a wide variety of conditions, out of a very, very large “space” of all possible orbital patterns.

    Is there any way to predict what orbit will be the stable planetary orbit? Or it just is what it is?

    In principle, you can predict what orbits will be stable for any system, and this has been proved for 2 and 3-body systems. The problem is purely a practical one in that the calculation is too complex to perform in a realistic timeframe for systems with more than 3 gravitationally bound bodies.

    And now you have planets attempting to do things. What happens when planets attempt to knock out other planets? That’s right- we end up with super jupiters with tight orbits and no other planets around- sometimes there can be only one stable orbit…

    But anyway, go ahead-> planetary selection via the stable orbit fitness [landscape]

    It was just a metaphor, Joe, to try to explain things more clearly. Obviously I don’t mean that planets are agents.

    My point was, there is a blind, undirected and lawlike “selection mechanism” at play in orbital mechanics, that progressively removes planets from the system if their orbits are not stable. The result, after many orbits, is an orderly and stable arrangement of planets.

    What I’m interested in is: What’s the in-principle difference between the planetary scenario and an evolutionary algorithm applying a fitness function in a computer program, such that that former is an example of blind/undirected processes, and the latter is not?

    Cheers

  93. “There can be things designed that appear to have been caused naturally, such as the faux texture I applied to my wall when I painted my office…”

    Are you saying that ‘faux texture’ (which I’ve also experienced myself applying) could be said to have been ’caused naturally’? I’d challenge you to find three 10yr-olds out of a thousand or one 20 yr-old out of 500 with higher education who would say that. Most people know that faux texture is by definition not a ‘naturally caused’ thing, so this appeal is to the vast majority, to ‘common sense’.

    The difference between human design and extra- or non-human design is significant here, wouldn’t you say?

    The point is that “the very narrow issues addressed by ID” are only so if and when they are totally un-reflexive. But 20th century sociology of science has shown that is an impossible or ‘unreal’ scenario.

    ‘Recognizing’ or ‘detecting’ intelligible patterns necessarily involves human reflexivity and cannot escape it in a dialogue between people. This may be a different point than what CLAVDIVS is making (‘inherently subjective’), but it is nevertheless relevant to the question of whether or not something is naturally evolvable. So perhaps it can be said that I’m drawing limits around ‘evolution’ that ID is not when it claims that “ID cannot…confirm that something wasn’t designed”?

  94. Clavdivs:

    However, the information I am referring to is semantic i.e. it has meaning only to an intelligent agent.
    Accordingly, such information is inherently subjective.

    Having meaning to an intelligent agent does not mean it is inherently subjective. We don’t have to use Shakespeare; we could have a mathematical equation, or the first 10 digits of Pi or something less subjective if that helps. It is possible that the recipient of the information doesn’t understand it (which we’ll address in a moment), but the fact that the information has meaning to an intelligent agent does not make the information inherently subjective.

    The more critical point here, however, is that you acknowledge the information exists. We can debate about how on top of things the recipient needs to be to recognize it; we can come up with less ‘subjective’ messages, more mathematical constructs, even drawings, pictures, whatever example is more comfortable. Regardless, the information exists. That is the important fact.

    —–

    This means there are some situations where it may not be possible to tell whether the pile of rocks has more or less information content than the rocks arranged into a sentence – for example, to an alien intelligence with no clue about human semiotic conventions.

    Two things:

    First, with a sufficiently long message, it is exceedingly unlikely that it would not be seen as information. Every time we’ve discovered an ancient language before we knew anything about what it meant, it was quite clear that it was some kind of information. SETI is founded on the idea that we can recognize an intelligent signal, even if we haven’t a clue what it means. Cryptography uses the same principle every day.

    Second, notwithstanding the foregoing, yes, it is true that a recipient may not understand the information they see. Further, with a sufficiently short message they recipient may not even realize they are seeing information.

    ID does not attempt, it has never claimed, to be able to identify everything that is designed. So, yes, it is possible that something may be designed and not recognized as such. By limiting the design inference to complex specified information, there are of course designed things that will not be picked up.

    To those who have a personal wish that ID could detect everything designed, this fact will appear as an unfortunate limitation. To those who prefer to focus on clear signals of design and avoid false positivies, requiring both complexity and specificity is an important safeguard against false positivies. It does mean that some stuff may fall through the cracks and will not be recognized as designed even though it is. So be it.

  95. “the fact that the information has meaning to an intelligent agent does not make the information inherently subjective.” – Eric

    It is not the information that is ‘inherently subjective,’ but the agent that (who) is ‘inherently reflexive.’ Without this key, ID falls apart.

    “The more critical point here, however, is that you acknowledge the information exists…the information exists. That is the important fact.” – Eric

    Yes, of course, because ID needs ‘information’ to posit mind. What kind of mind? A reflexive one.

    Subjective vs. Objective doesn’t cut the Gordian knot here.

  96. Gregory-

    If you don’t like the design inference, if you think it is subjective, then all YOU have to do is step up and demonstrate that nature, operating freely can account for what we say is designed, ir required a designer.

    IOW your position has all the power as the design inference arises by going through materialism.

    So if materialism could cut it, there wouldn’t be any ID

  97. CAVDAVS:

    What’s the in-principle difference between the planetary scenario and an evolutionary algorithm applying a fitness function in a computer program, such that that former is an example of blind/undirected processes, and the latter is not?

    In a computer scenario there is an active search for a target. Genetic algorithms, for example, are designed to solve a problem. So when they indeed do solve it they solve it by design, not willy-nilly.

  98. CLAVDIVS-

    About your stable planetary orbits- this “selection” process reduces the amount of complexity in its system and it removes parts from the system.

    So unless you are starting with a living organism that has it all and then losses parts, your scenario isn’t going to create a more specified and complex system. More specified, yes.

  99. Gregory @95:

    Glad to know we agree that (i) the information exists, and (ii) it need not be subjective.

    As for ‘reflexive,’ it sounds like you are saying there must be some kind of intelligent agent who is (what?) conscious, aware, able to exercise cognition? Yeah, information arises from intelligent agents. Agreed.

    Not sure if you had a separate point you were making . . .

  100. Hi Joe @ 97

    C: What’s the in-principle difference between the planetary scenario and an evolutionary algorithm applying a fitness function in a computer program, such that that former is an example of blind/undirected processes, and the latter is not?

    In a computer scenario there is an active search for a target. Genetic algorithms, for example, are designed to solve a problem. So when they indeed do solve it they solve it by design, not willy-nilly.

    So it appears you agree that — regardless of whether the selection mechanism or fitness function are completely lawlike and mechanistic — the fact that the overall experiment was set up by an intelligent designer means it’s not a test of blind/undirected processes.

    This was exactly my point (at 62): “… any test performed by humans would be automatically “contaminated” by intelligent design, and would not be a true test of blind/undirected processes.” Thus, the proposed test is not, in principle, possible for humans to perform.

    And that’s why such a test is not scientific.

    Cheers

  101. Joe – The reference above to post 62 should instead be post 64.

    Cheers

  102. Hi CLADIVS-

    If someone takes RNA nucleotides and places them in some solution 9water), then heats it, any resulting RNA sequences would be the result of blind and undirected processes.

  103. Eric Anderson: The more critical point here, however, is that you acknowledge the information exists. We can debate about how on top of things the recipient needs to be to recognize it; we can come up with less ‘subjective’ messages, more mathematical constructs, even drawings, pictures, whatever example is more comfortable. Regardless, the information exists. That is the important fact.

    Let’s say I write a book in a language that I invented. Nobody else knows the language but myself. When I die, what information does the book contain now that my brain has ceased functioning? (Laying aside such “Platonic” twists such as “God knows what information is there”, etc.)

  104. Clavdivs @100:

    Evolutionary algorithms typically smuggle in design through the back door. It is in the programming.

    The fact that these algorithms fail to appropriately lay out a true test, yes, means they are problematic. We could even say in that sense they are “not scientific” as you do. This is the point that several of us have been making for some time about evolutionary algorithms to those who think they demonstrate the ability of natural processes to create complex specified information.

    This does not mean that an appropriate test cannot be constructed. It does not mean that it is impossible “in principle” to ever perform a valid test.

    I’ll let Joe respond, but it appears to me that you are trying to twist Joe’s words to say that: (i) evolutionary algorithms perform their functions in a manner that is “completely lawlike and mechanistic” and (ii) because evolutionary algorithms are designed to solve a problem it means they are not a test of a blind/undirected process. What you are missing is the logic between the two. Namely, an evolutionary algorithm that is designed to solve a problem is not necessarily functioning as a system that is “completely lawlike and mechanistic.” It is performing a function as it was programmed to perform.

    Just to make sure we understand your point, are you seriously taking the position that it is not possible for a researcher to set up a test that is consistent with natural processes? Not in physics, or in medicine, or astronomy, or chemistry, or anything else? All those tests, performed every day around the world are not really testing natural processes, because the tests were set up by intelligent beings? I truly hope you are not taking that position. Tests have to be carefully, scrupulously, properly set up to avoid slipping intelligence in through the back door (this is a problem with most evolutionary algorithms and with much OOL research, for example). But there is no reason to think a proper scientific test cannot be set up to test the outcome of a natural process.

  105. Hi Eric @ 94

    C: However, the information I am referring to is semantic i.e. it has meaning only to an intelligent agent. … Accordingly, such information is inherently subjective.

    Having meaning to an intelligent agent does not mean it is inherently subjective.

    In my view, semantic information has meaning only to intelligent agents, and therefore it’s inherently subjective i.e. the phenomenon in question, “meaningfulness” of information, does not exist in the absence of intelligent agents. Dr Demsbki agrees – see post 62.

    That this phenomenon is subjective does not diminish it’s significance; but it does make it kind of ineffable and difficult to test empirically. Your example with the rocks makes this clear — different agents may perceive radically different amounts of meaningful information from the same physical signs; or perhaps none at all.

    First, with a sufficiently long message, it is exceedingly unlikely that it would not be seen as information. Every time we’ve discovered an ancient language before we knew anything about what it meant, it was quite clear that it was some kind of information.

    What I understand you to be saying is that there are some signals (i.e. arrangements of matter and energy) that every conceivable intelligent agent would recognise as having semantic content. I believe this would be very difficult to establish and I suspect it’s not true.

    But even if we grant that this is true, you still have the problem that intelligent agents are known to infer semantic content from signals that were generated by purely blind/undirected processes e.g. the face on Mars — in other words, false positives. This is a much bigger worry than false negatives, in my view.

    Cheers

  106. Hi Eric @ 104

    For my part I feel this has been a thought-provoking and productive discussion; please do not accuse me of trying to twist anyone’s words – nothing could be farther from the truth.

    Just to make sure we understand your point, are you seriously taking the position that it is not possible for a researcher to set up a test that is consistent with natural processes?

    No, I don’t take that position.

    At 30 you said you were struggling to understand why ID would not be considered science. I was interested in discussing that issue.

    My suggestion is that the proposed test — show blind/undirected processes producing specified complexity — has not been defined rigorously and objectively such that it can be empirically tested.

    In this thread we’ve discussed the definition of blind/undirected processes and also discussed information. There has been little agreement and we have started to wade into rather deep philosophical waters along the way. I think this alone lends a little support to my suggestion.

    For me it’s not a matter of blaming or finding fault with one side or the other. I’m looking at the broader picture where quite a number of people claim to have empirically tested blind/undirected processes and shown the development of specified complexity, and a lot of other people claim that these were not really tests of blind/undirected processes or that they did not produce specified complexity. To my mind the obvious solution to this situation is for all sides to establish mutually agreed definitions of these things. This has not yet occurred.

    I would like for ID to find support in the empirical sciences. However, I strongly suspect such support will not occur without precursor support in areas like philosophy of mind, neuroscience, and biosemiotics, to name a few. Your comments in this thread have tended in this direction so I think that’s a positive sign.

    Cheers

  107. Hi Joe @ 102

    If someone takes RNA nucleotides and places them in some solution 9water), then heats it, any resulting RNA sequences would be the result of blind and undirected processes.

    We all agree heating things and “million monkeys” tests are blind and undirected and won’t produce anything interesting like specified complexity.

    What I’m interested in is testing a selection process that ratchets up specification or complexity. If you have selection you have to have a selecting rule, such as what we observe in nature in planetary orbits or natural sieves. If humans are conducting the test then we have to put the selecting rule in our test system. However, we can put a rule in place that mirrors a selecting rule we see in nature, and operates in a strictly mechanistic way e.g. with a computer function that removes an iteration from the test based on a calculated value.

    My question is – if we implement a test where a selection rule operates strictly mechanistically – are we testing a blind and undirected process? Or does the mere fact that an intelligent designer put the rule in place initially “contaminate” the test so it’s not really a test of a blind/undirected process?

    Cheers

  108. Hi Eric @ 104

    This does not mean that an appropriate test cannot be constructed. It does not mean that it is impossible “in principle” to ever perform a valid test.

    My feeling is that — if ID proponents do not believe a valid test of blind/undirected processes has been conducted yet (due to “smuggling in” information) — then that is precisely what they should be working on.

    Whatever you may think of James Randi (pompous gasbag in my opinion) one thing he attempted to get right in his “million dollar challenge” is, before the test was conducted, he always got written agreement from contenders what would consitute a valid test, what would count as success, and what would count as failure; there was to be no subjective “judging”, the success or failure should be visible and obvious to any observer.

    Accordingly, in order to move into the realm of science, ID proponents need to specify an empirical test in objective and unambiguous terms, such that a specific ID hypothesis would be falsified if the results of the test met particular critera. I’m sure there would be many outside the ID camp who would take up the challenge to try to meet the falsification critera.

    I do agree there are likely philosophical issues to overcome before this can be achived, as mentioned in my comment above.

    Cheers

  109. CLAVDIVS-

    With natural selection there isn’t any selecting- it is just a result. Whatever works “good enough” gets through the sieve.

    So how can we simulate that?

  110. Hi Joe

    With natural selection there isn’t any selecting- it is just a result. Whatever works “good enough” gets through the sieve.

    So how can we simulate that?

    Yes, you’re right Joe. “Selection” is just a metaphor: we aren’t talking about an agent actually consciously selecting anything; we’re talking about the application of mechanical rules.

    There has to be a definition of “good enough” for any system with selection, otherwise there wouldn’t be any selection. Once “good enough” is defined, it can be “set in stone” and enforced by a blind, undirected process.

    Simulating a sieve in silicois easy. Create a virtual population of, say, 1000 pebbles with a random diameter from 1mm to 10mm. Create a virtual sieve with a hole diameter of 5mm. Then iterate through each pebble, and discard the ones whose diameter exceeds the sieve’s hole diameter.

    It’s the same with the planets (although computationally more complex). Create a virtual solar system with N planets. Allow them all to gravitationally accelerate through one orbit. Calcuate if any planets crash into the sun or another planet, or attain escape velocity from the sun, and discard them. Repeat the process until you are no longer discarding planets. Easy peasy – just the mechanical application of blind rules.

    Cheers

  111. There has to be a definition of “good enough” for any system with selection, otherwise there wouldn’t be any selection.

    OK let’s see this mathematically rigorous definition of “good enough”- also rememeber that via copperation that not good enough will also get through.

    And your simulations demonstrate a LOSS of complexity. Not exactly the type of thing to call upon when you need an increase in complexity.

  112. Time is short this week for dialogue at UD…

    “Yeah, information arises from intelligent agents. Agreed.” – Eric

    I wouldn’t say ‘arises from’ but rather ‘is perceived by’. Note please the difference in ontology and epistemology by saying this. The information exists to be perceived vs. by personal perception information appears.

    The only way ID could be currently called ‘scientific’ is in a reflexive, rather than a (neo-classical) positive sense. Meyer demonstrates this regularly with his analogies to human minds and ‘effects of intelligence.’ What he hasn’t proven is that a non-human mind originated ‘biological information,’ including when, where and how.

    People see patterns, people have minds that perceive patterns (& maybe this is so because people are made imago Dei and thus created to see patterns)…therefore patterns ‘reflexively’ display design/pattern/plan/purpose/teleology/etc. We know this from experience (experiment).

    It seems one difference between us, Eric, is that you are not asking for humanistic science, but for objectivistic science ‘in nature’. This seems to be partly why CLAVDIVS is harping on ‘subjectivity’ and ‘agency’ as they interfer with supposedly blind/undirected processes. His position, whether or not he knows it, expresses what sociology, psychology and anthropology of science have discovered. Mind is unavoidably involved in doing science; however, that does not mean all science is done ‘intelligently.’

  113. The only way ID could be currently called ‘scientific’ is in a reflexive, rather than a (neo-classical) positive sense.

    Well the only way materialism can be called “scientific” is to totally redfone “scientific”.

    But let’s take a look- The design inference is based on our knowledge of cause and effect relationships-> it can be tested and either confirmed or refuted.

    What else does it require before you consider it to be scientific?

  114. 114

    The only way ID could be currently called ‘scientific’ is in a reflexive, rather than a (neo-classical) positive sense. Meyer demonstrates this regularly with his analogies to human minds and ‘effects of intelligence.’ What he hasn’t proven is that a non-human mind originated ‘biological information,’ including when, where and how.

    Gregory, if I may add something here.

    You are completely equivocating on the term “information” as it relates to biological systems. The type of information you are referring to is physical information which is a completely anthropic entity requiring a human observer in order for it to even exist. It has no place outside of a physics classroom, where even there its limitations must be understood. But the information contained in DNA does not exist as physical information, it demonstrably exist as recorded information using arrangements of matter (codons) to operate as representations of effects within a system. That recorded information is decoded by a set of physical protocols (aminoacyl synthetases) which physically establish the arbitrary relationships between the representations and the effects they are to represent within that system. This is precisely the same objects and material dynamics as demonstrated in any other form of recorded information ever observed.

    One type of information is entirely an anthropomorphic invention created for the purposes of making matter calculable to human investigators, and the other is demonstrably semiotic which has nothing to do with human systems – other than the fact that human systems are also semiotic.

    Also, to suggest that such observations do not rise to the level of being “scientific” is absolutely absurd. If you don’t believe that a valid material case has been made regarding these observations, then I ask you to review the link given and please indicate where those observations do not follow the observable evidence.

    Thanks…

  115. Hi Joe @ 111

    OK let’s see this mathematically rigorous definition of “good enough”- also rememeber that via copperation that not good enough will also get through.

    And your simulations demonstrate a LOSS of complexity. Not exactly the type of thing to call upon when you need an increase in complexity.

    No, Joe, I think I’ll pass. I’ve just read through the thread at Elizabeth Liddle’s blog that you referenced above. Her coin tossing simulation seems like a perfectly okay test of blind/undirected processes to me.

    But I see you do not accept it as such, because – if I understand correctly – it does not deal with the origin of specified complexity.

    And this is what I’ve been saying all along: the fact that an experiment is set up by humans means it is “contaminated” by the intelligent design inherent in human activity, which was presumably bootstrapped into all living things at the origin of life. So any such test is either not a test of blind/undirected processes or it’s not a test of the origin of specified complexity.

    Returning to Eric’s question, this is why I believe ID is not regarded as scientific yet: there’s currently no way to objectively and empirically test it. You state the test is to show blind/undirected processes producing specified complexity, but it appears at present such a test is both practically and in-principle impossible to perform. A pity, yes, but there it is.

    Cheers

  116. Hi ClAVDIVS-

    Tell me, when have you ever seen a result of X number of coin tosses replicate with variation on its own?

    As I told Elizabeth, the specified complexity Dembski is referring to is that which allows for reproduction and therefor the passing down of genes.

    That said Dr Behe has said exactly what type of experiment would do- and so have I.

    As for testing it- yes we can. If materialism cannot explain it and it meets our criteria, we infer design.

    IOW if you are saying ID is untestable you are saying that materialism is untestable- a pity yes, but there it is.

    The following is the Dembski reference which Elizabeth ignores- please pay attention to what Dawkins wrote:

    Biological specification always refers to function. An organism is a functional system comprising many functional subsystems. In virtue of their function, these systems embody patterns that are objectively given and can be identified independently of the systems that embody them. Hence these systems are specified in the same sense required by the complexity-specification criterion (see sections 1.3 and 2.5). The specification of organisms can be crashed out in any number of ways. Arno Wouters cashes it out globally in terms of the viability of whole organisms. Michael Behe cashes it out in terms of minimal function of biochemical systems. Darwinist Richard Dawkins cashes out biological specification in terms of the reproduction of genes. Thus, in The Blind Watchmaker Dawkins writes, “Complicated things have some quality, specifiable in advance, that is highly unlikely to have been acquired by random chance alone. In the case of living things, the quality is specified in advance is…the ability to propagate genes in reproduction.”

    Therefor when she starts with reproducing coin toss results she is starting with the very thing she needs to explain- the specified complexity that allows for reproduction.

  117. Hi Joe @ 116

    Tell me, when have you ever seen a result of X number of coin tosses replicate with variation on its own?

    As I told Elizabeth, the specified complexity Dembski is referring to is that which allows for reproduction and therefor the passing down of genes.

    Joe, you keep making my point for me.

    You made the claim (at 41) that “ID makes the claim that blind and undirected processes cannot produce CSI”. we’ve discussed a bit about blind/undirected and CSI as per Dembski’s No Free Lunch. Now you’re talking about the test involving the origin of reproducing entities. No wonder ID struggles to be recognised as science! As I said before, nobody’s providing any clear, unambiguous, objective, empirically testable definitions of key terms in the proposed hypothesis, like “blind/undirected” and “CSI”.

    IOW if you are saying ID is untestable you are saying that materialism is untestable- a pity yes, but there it is.

    I absolutely agree — materialism, like ID, is not currently testable. There are many, many deep issues in the philosophy of science to be worked out before such profound questions can be resolved.

    Which is why I believe it’s futile, at present, for ID proponents to claim ID is empirically testable, or has been tested. Scientific empirical methods at present are based on a reductionist/materialist methodology – of course this methodology cannot test for things that are not known to be reducible to matter and energy, things like consciousness, qualia, intentionality, semantics, etc.

    In my opinion ID proponents should be seeking to make headway in areas like the philosophy of science and philosophy of mind, rather than “jumping the gun” straight into empirical sciences like biology.

    Cheers

  118. Now you’re talking about the test involving the origin of reproducing entities.

    That is what ID wrt bilogy is all about.

    I absolutely agree — materialism, like ID, is not currently testable.

    Strange that IDists have said how to test the design inference.

    As I said if we put RNA nuleotides in some warm solution (water) and see what forms- you can even heat and cool the solution to act like day and night.

    But anyway according to you the theory of evolution and abiogenesis need to be taken out of science classrooms- and I agree.

  119. “In my opinion ID proponents should be seeking to make headway in areas like the philosophy of science and philosophy of mind, rather than ‘jumping the gun’ straight into empirical sciences like biology.” – CLAVDIVS

    Yes we are agreed. But moreso into anthropology, even philosophy of anthropology (human minds included). It’s not as if ‘empirical sciences like biology’ exist as a funnel into which all legitimate research flows, is it? Or is that what authenticity makes CLAVDIVS?

    So many times, on multiple sides of the predominantly USAmerican ‘debate’ about ID, have I heard the ‘natural/empirical-science-means-legitimate’ perspective offered.

    It had seemed that CLAVDIVS was interested in agency, reflexivity, mindful interference in ‘blind/undirected processes.’ If it were only into ‘biology’ that his thoughts flowed, as if biology could carry any legitimate meaning for the most important features of human life, that would be a disappointment.

    It would be totally un-reflexive and uninspiring, as Eric Anderson has thus far preferred by his ID technique.

  120. —-Gregory: “The only way ID could be currently called ‘scientific’ is in a reflexive, rather than a (neo-classical) positive sense.”

    ID IS science and is NOT “reflexive” according to the traditional definitions of those terms.

    1. “science: a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe. [Concise Oxford, 1990]

    scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge [”the body of truth, information and principles acquired by mankind”]involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.” [Webster's 7th Collegiate, 1965]

    2. “Reflexivity refers to circular relationships between cause and effect. A reflexive relationship is bidirectional with both the cause and the effect affecting one another in a situation that does not render both functions causes and effects.” [Wikipedia]

    If you mean something different when you use these words, then you need to tell us exactly which meanings you have in mind. If nothing else, it will provide discipline, focus, and clarity to your thought process.

    –”Meyer demonstrates this regularly with his analogies to human minds and ‘effects of intelligence.’ What he hasn’t proven is that a non-human mind originated ‘biological information,’ including when, where and how.”

    Does an ID inference to the best reasonable explanation constitute an attempted “proof?” If so, then explain why Meyer’s inference is not a reasonable conclusion based on the evidence. If not, then why do you use the word “proof” so recklessly? Moreover, given your failure to define science, you have no rationale for assuming that ID theory is required to demonstrate the “when” and “how” of information’s origins.

    –”People see patterns, people have minds that perceive patterns (& maybe this is so because people are made imago Dei and thus created to see patterns)…therefore patterns ‘reflexively’ display design/pattern/plan/purpose/teleology/etc. We know this from experience (experiment).”

    There is a difference between [a] a top-down, apriori assumption of a non-human mind as a psychological motive for doing science (as was the case with the early modern scientists) and [b] drawing an bottom up, aposteriori inference from data to the presence of intelligence (as is the case with ID methodology). If [a] and [b] were understood as part of a singular reflexive process, no such thing as a scientific inference would even be possible, ruling out such things as big bang cosmology. Indeed, even the Thomistic proofs for God’s existence would become meaningless and trivial.

    Sociological paradigms, such as social constructivism or “reflexivity,” do not illumimate the scientific discussion about life’s origins to any appreciable degree.

    “If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.?”–Abraham Maslow.

    You need new tools.

  121. Let it be noted that it was at UD that someone actually quoted Wikipedia against me on the topic of ‘reflexivity.’

    The above post is not in any way ‘illumimating’ about life’s origins. Instead it reflects ‘the scandal of the evangelical mind’ (1994), though that surely cannot be discussed here as this is a non-theological forum.

    You need new…

  122. —”Let it be noted that it was at UD that someone actually quoted Wikipedia against me on the topic of “reflexivity.”

    Since you labor under the misconception that ID is science only in a “reflexive way,” I thought that you would benefit by knowing what the word “reflexive” actually means. The tone of my refutation was rather on the gentle side given the nonsensical nature of your affirmation and the number of times it was affirmed.

    —”The above post is not in any way ‘illumimating’ about life’s origins. Instead it reflects ‘the scandal of the evangelical mind’ (1994), though that surely cannot be discussed here as this is a non-theological forum.”

    This site does not shy away from theological discussions. In any case, I suggest that you familiarize yourself with some of the more basic elements of ID science by reading our Frequently-Raised-but-Weak-Arguments-Against- ID-section, found under “resources.”

  123. 123

    Hi Gregory.

    Should I take your non-response to mean that you concede my critique of your comments, or just that you don’t want to pursue the matter? Perhap you simply didn’t notice them.

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