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The common sense law of physics

I was discussing the second law argument with a scientist friend the other day, and mentioned that the second law is sometimes called the “common sense law of physics”. This morning he wrote:

Yesterday I spoke with my wife about these questions. She immediately grasped that chaos results on the long term when she would stop caring for her home.

I replied:

Tell your wife she has made a perfectly valid application of the second law of thermodynamics. In fact, let’s take her application a bit further.

Suppose you and your wife go for vacation, leaving a dog, cat and a parakeet loose in the house (I put the animals there to cause the entropy to increase more rapidly, otherwise you might have to take a much longer vacation to see the same effect). When you come back, you will not be surprised to see chaos in the house. But tell her some scientists say, “but if you leave the door open while on vacation, your house becomes an open system, and the second law does not apply to open systems…you may find everything in better condition than when you left.”

I’ll bet she will say, if a maid enters through the door and cleans the house, maybe, but if all that enters is wind, rain and other animals, probably not.

This is an application of the main point in chapter 5 of my new book : “If an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is closed, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering that makes it NOT extremely improbable.”

For a slightly more technical version of this story, complete with a mathematical analysis of the equations for entropy change, see my video .

(For those who don’t watch the video, or give up on it before the end, and thus don’t understand what this story has to do with evolution, I should include the punch line):

If we found evidence that DNA, auto parts, computer chips and books entered through the Earth’s atmosphere at some time in the past, then perhaps the appearance of humans, cars, computers, and encyclopedias on a previously barren planet could be explained without postulating a violation of the second law here. But if all we see entering is radiation and meteorite fragments, it seems clear that what is entering through the boundary cannot explain the increase in order observed here.

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130 Responses to The common sense law of physics

  1. Would you mind putting this video on a page with a proper title and description so we can share this around facebook please.

  2. I love the simplicity of this argument.

  3. 3
    Granville Sewell

    I quoted in the book and video from “College Physics”, a typical attempt to argue that evolution does not violate the second law:

    It is true that evolution of life from inert matter to its present forms represents a large decrease in entropy for living systems. But it is always possible for the entropy of one part of the universe to decrease, provided the total change in entropy of the universe increases.

    Some other authors appear to feel a little silly implying that increases in entropy on other planets can compensate for decreases on Earth, so they are careful to explain that compensation only works locally; for example in “Order and Chaos” the authors write (also quoted in the book):

    In a certain sense the development of civilization may appear contradictory to the second law…Even though society can effect local reductions in entropy, the general and universal trend of entropy increase easily swamps the anomalous but important efforts of civilized man. Each localized, man-made or machine-made entropy decrease is accompanied by a greater increase in entropy of the SURROUNDINGS [my emphasis], thereby maintaining the required increase in total entropy.

    Of course the whole idea of compensation, whether by distant or nearby events, makes no sense whatever, the correct interpretion is illustrated by this quotation from my book:

    The fact that order is disappearing in the next room does not make it any easier for computers to appear in our room—unless this order is disappearing INTO our room, and then only if it is a type of order that makes the appearance of computers not extremely improbable, for example, computers.

    And of course I go on to look at the usual equations for entropy change and show that they support this last, common sense, interpretation, not the absurd “compensation” interpretation.

    There’s a Youtube version at:

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

    which is identical except the intro and postscript have been deleted.

  4. So Granville: When/how do you think we lost our faith in common sense? When/how do you think it can be restored?

  5. I suppose that if the door were open, then rats could come into the house. They would be attracted by the dog food. The dog would eat the rats forming a symbiotic relationship.

    I know that is far fetched, but I do suppose that some order could enter the system. It just wouldn’t be the order that one would desire.

    Despite that, I doubt that there could be a net increase in order over time.

  6. Keep in mind that allowing sentient beings to be in the system at t=0 is an extremely gracious assumption as far as the analogy to abiogenesis theory is concerned.

    The most common response to the 2nd Law objection to abiogenesis I’ve heard is: “Ancient Earth wasn’t a closed system! There was radiation from the sun!” This never made sense to me. I’m not a thermodynamics expert, but when I studied it in school my understanding of the 2nd Law was that a system could only decrease in entropy if it were open to a source that directly reduced the entropy of the characteristic in question. For example, the entropy of an internal combustion engine (inverse of Potential Energy, PE) can decrease only if fuel (or a source of PE) is supplied.

    What makes most materialist responses (including the obligatory “Heil! Darwin!” on the wikipedia entry of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics) irrelevant is that we aren’t talking about just order developing. As argued in Meyer’s Signature in the Cell, order is not unique to life, and it is not what defines life; it is functionally specified, complex information (FSCI) that is required for any level of life that we know of, and it is that that must have been produced at the beginning of life. The only way the open/closed system argument applies to this situation is if it is open to an input of FSCI! Radiation from the sun is irrelevant, as are demonstrations of ice crystals forming in non-equilibrated systems. If FSCI can produced via only law and chance (without pre-programmed intelligence, as every attempt at demonstrating this has used) OR if we can produce life without FSCI, then these objections will have merit. Until then, they are a waste of time.

  7. I’m having a hard time understanding what the definition of order is here. Complexity does not equal order as I understand it. I had a professor in college says that the second law does not preclude evolution because the earth is being constantly bathed in “high-order energy.” Radiation from the sun is high on the order scale, as opposed to heat which is at the bottom.

    Was he wrong?

  8. 8
    Granville Sewell

    Collin,

    In my book I define “order” to be the opposite of “entropy”; when entropy has a quantitative meaning, I define order to be the negative of entropy; where it is more vague (such as in my story above), “order” is equally vague. So with my definition, order is exactly as scientific a concept as entropy, I just prefer to talk about order increasing rather than entropy decreasing, etc, because it is more intuitive.

    In any case, a precise definition of order or entropy is not necessary here (and difficult, because there are many types of entropy and thus many types of order, and each has to be defined). But every application of the second law involves using probability at the microscopic level to predict macroscopic change. And the laws of probability apply to open systems as well as to closed system, the only difference is you have to take into account what is entering (or leaving) the open system before applying the laws of probability.

    So will the house be more ordered or chaotic when the family returns? You just have to consider the laws of probability, and if the door is open, first take into account what goes through the door!

  9. Collin,

    Did your professor empirically showed you what the difference between high order energy and low order energy is?

    I think Granville’s argument is as elegant as it gets. From his argument it should be clear that you just need to ask for an empirical analysis of what effects can be achieved by “high order sunlight” entering a pre-biotic earth. Here we can ask, based on empirical observation, does it make it more or less probable for order to increase (i.e. entropy to decrease)?

  10. 10

    uoflcard at 7

    Nice

  11. 11
    Granville Sewell

    I’m surprised no one has pointed out yet that with the door open, the dog and cat and parakeet may escape, resulting in a slower rate of increase of entropy in the house! :-)

    When I first stated (2001) the tautology quoted in my post, I thought, to be correct I really should say “unless something is entering OR LEAVING which makes it NOT extremely improbable,” but decided that didn’t sound as elegant and it’s usually what is entering that is of interest. But here is an example where what is leaving is significant!

  12. Collin,

    I’m having a hard time understanding what the definition of order is here. Complexity does not equal order as I understand it. I had a professor in college says that the second law does not preclude evolution because the earth is being constantly bathed in “high-order energy.” Radiation from the sun is high on the order scale, as opposed to heat which is at the bottom.

    Was he wrong?

    You should really read Signature in the Cell. Or are you just confused about the definition of order in this analogy (unattended house)?

    I’m not sure what high and low order energy means, but in any case, what does it matter with regards to evolution or abiogenesis (with the latter, to my knowledge, generally being the focus of this type of debate)? A law-like process (like radiation) does not help produce the information needed to create even the simplest life we have ever witnessed. And that is assuming there was a trial-and-error process in place that was generating the “pre-life” (random, functionless) information, which appears doubtful (at the moment) if you don’t require abiogenesis to be true.

    It appears to me that the only natural phenomenon that would increase the likelihood of generating life-forming information is increasing the probabilistic resources of the trial-and-error process. Meyer argues that even the most preposterously generous assumptions for the probabilistic resources of our universe leave the first life woefully short of being stumbled upon. His probabilistic analysis is undeniable. What could be debated is his assumption of what it took to produce the first life.

    I’ll say it again: the only way materialists can dent this argument is if they can demonstrate that a law-like process can generate FSCI or if life can be formed without FSCI (i.e., with very little information). Similarly, my stance towards natural evolution is that I would be inclinced to believe it if it could be shown to be at least somewhat reasonable to believe there was a smooth function/fitness gradient for a complex biological feature, especially on the cellular level, requiring only 1 or 2 mutations per selectable step.

  13. Order goes beyond biology. And in fact the theory of the origin of our universe (from the materialist perspective) contradicts the 2nd law doesn’t it? I was watching “Through the Worm Hole” on the sci channel and they were saying how after the big bang there had to have been a moment when the energy from the bang was slowed down. As a result the ordered galaxies and universes came to be. But wouldn’t just more disorder come from an already disordered explosion?

    Be nice, I’m not a scientist, just a regular guy. :)

  14. Be nice, I’m not a scientist, just a regular guy.

    So you live in a very disorderly environment? Or are you married?

  15. “If we found evidence that DNA, auto parts, computer chips and books entered through the Earth’s atmosphere at some time in the past, then perhaps the appearance of humans, cars, computers, and encyclopedias on a previously barren planet could be explained without postulating a violation of the second law here. But if all we see entering is radiation and meteorite fragments, it seems clear that what is entering through the boundary cannot explain the increase in order observed here.”

    Granville,

    Anyone with an IQ above room temperature should be able to figure this out, unless, of course, his reasoning powers in this arena have been completely inactivated by Darwinian anti-logic.

  16. Off Topic:

    I’ve recently made my chef-d’œuvre artificial-intelligence computer program available for free download at my website:

    http://www.WorldChampionshipCheckers.com

    It is a 6.8-gigabyte compressed download that requires 12 gigs of disk space when unzipped.

  17. 17
    Granville Sewell

    Gil,

    Anyone with an IQ above room temperature should be able to figure this out, unless, of course, his reasoning powers in this arena have been completely inactivated by Darwinian anti-logic.

    This is an example of how the corruption of Darwinism has reached beyond biology into physics! The whole idea of “compensation”, that a decrease in entropy in an open system can be compensated by an increase outside the system is completely “anti-logical” (imagine trying to tell my friend’s wife that the fact that entropy is increasing outside her house means that she might find things inside the house in better condition than she left them!), and was invented solely to avoid the obvious conclusions with regard to evolution.

    To be fair, this idiotic interpretation of the second law was also abetted by the minor difficulties in interpreting the boundary integral, discussed in the last part of my video. But I was (as also documented there) certainly not the first to recognize that this integral represents the rate that entropy is crossing the boundary.

  18. I sometimes wonder if part of the problem — I mean, aside from the general disinclination of DarwinDefenders to admit *anything* which might tell against Darwinism — is that people tend to use the both words ‘order’ and ‘chaos’ in mutually contradictory manners, sometimes simultaneously. I don’t mean that ‘order’ and ‘chaos’ are used contradictory to one another, but rather that (at least) two different contradictory meanings are attached to each word.

  19. GilDodgen:… unless, of course, his reasoning powers in this arena have been completely inactivated by Darwinian anti-logic.

    It’s amazing what can be done with DarLogic™ modules these days!

  20. I thought this old chestnut (the 2nd law) was buried.
    The 2nd law (of thermodynamics) does NOT refer to order/disorder on a macroscopic scale. It refers to the qty of unnusable heat energy which is lost in an imperfect process. Basically it is saying that heat flows down hill, but any concept of order/disorder is a statistical thing that emerges from the microscopic, ie: an average behaviour of a large no. of small particles.

    Perhaps order (of the sort you are describing) is unlikely to appear on its own, but it has no relation to the 2nd law (of thermodynamics).

    The units of (thermodynamic) entropy are energy/temp. Are you suggesting that disorder in the house has these units ?

  21. 21
    San Antonio Rose

    (imagine trying to tell my friend’s wife that the fact that entropy is increasing outside her house means that she might find things inside the house in better condition than she left them!),

    Doesn’t that happen everytime someone takes out the trash? LOL

  22. San Antonio Rose,

    You err as do most Darwinian zealots and leave off the important point.

    What was brought into the house for increasing order?

    Was it Random mutations?

    Or was there an intelligent being that bought an intelligently designed garbage bag, produced by a multitude of designers and intelligently made machines?

    What is your answer?

    An open system does not lead to a materialist “only” interpretation.

  23. 23
    San Antonio Rose

    I’m a Darwinian zealot? LOL. Don’t be so serious all the time. I was just making a little joke. No need to get on my case.

  24. What I wonder about is this:

    On one hand, it seems from our experience that order (functional specified complex information, FSCI) invariably comes from intelligence (conscious, sentient beings). Of course we could imagine that FSCI could emerge from something else, and many people believe it emerges in open systems via the ratchet of selection, but this remains theoretical and cannot be observed to occur.

    On the other hand, it seems from our experience that intelligence invariably comes from FSCI. Of course we could imagine that intelligence could exist independently of complex, functional organisms, and many people believe that spirits, gods, or other beings might be intelligent without the complex, functional, physical mechanisms that all known intelligent agents require to support intelligent behavior – but this remains theoretical (or theological) and cannot be observed to occur.

    So the mystery of how FSCI originates remains, and the notion that some unspecified type of conscious thing might have been the first cause is no more grounded in our experience than the notion that some unspecified type of unconscious thing was responsible – notwithstanding all this about the 2nd law and common sense.

  25. A few quotes From the paper: The Universal Plausibility Metric (UPM) & Principle (UPP), by David Abel…

    “Not even a Universal Probability Bound [6-8] seems to establish absolute theoretical impossibility. The fanatical pursuit of absoluteness by finite subjective knowers is considered counterproductive in post modern science. Open-mindedness to all possibilities is encouraged [9]. But at some point our reluctance to exclude any possibility becomes stultifying to operational science [10]. Falsification is critical to narrowing down the list of serious possibilities [11]. Almost all hypotheses are possible. Few of them wind up being helpful and scientifically productive. Just because a hypothesis is possible should not grant that hypothesis scientific respectability. More attention to the concept of “infeasibility” has been suggested [12]. Millions of dollars in astrobiology(and SETI) grant money have been wasted on scenarios that are possible, but plausibly bankrupt. The question for scientific methodology should not be, “Is this scenario possible?” The question should be, “Is this possibility a plausible scientific hypothesis?” One chance in 10**200 is theoretically possible, but given maximum cosmic probabilistic resources, such a possibility is hardly plausible”

    That seems a reasonable assessment. What again are the odds of blind search and random selection in evolutionary scenarios? The favorite subjective application by Darwinist zealots are that yes, objectively the possibility of increasingly higher order systems of specific informationally organized systems have an almost infintesimally low probability, but still, the “possibility” exist given “enough time” anything can happen.

    How is that science?

    Abel continues…

    “The human epistemological problem is kept in its proper place through a) double-blind studies, b) groups of independent investigators all repeating the same experiment, c) prediction fulfillments, and d) the application of pristine logic (taking linguistic fuzziness into account), and e) the competition of various human ideas for best correspondence to repeated independent observations.”

    Question, can Darwinian zealots make any observational, double-blind studies of Macro-evolution from the past? Most reasonably objective people would say “No” today, understanding that Historical Sciences are an interpretative study at best. Thus, best practices normally used for operational scientific evidence for modern day evidence is ruled out for any model. At best, only inferences can be made of the past. Neither a telic or non-telic process can be observed for macro-evolution today. Yet, this is not taught as a primary truth to students. Instead, a subjective, biased, materialist-only view is taught. And the real truth is oppressed. We live with a fascist education system for young minds being manipulated by a minority of atheist zealots.

    His conclusion:

    “Mere possibility is not an adequate basis for asserting scientific plausibility. Indeed, the practical need exists in science to narrow down lists of possibilities on the basis of objectively quantifiable plausibility.”

    Full Paper here:

    Notice that far from Design Theory going the way of randomly created dinosaurs, it is a valid point of reference.

    Excellent paper.

  26. ooops, the above comment w/quotes includes a set of Parens. My own emphasis on extraterrestial search.

    The point being, if “serious” scientist can search for signs of intelligent life in the universe, then certainly, scientist can and must search for signs of intelligent design on earth.

    If for example, intelligent life formed a billion years ago, it is “theoretically possible” that they have seeded our own planet(ie. Panspermia – see co-discoverer of DNA double-helix structure; Francis Crick).

    Thus, for a materialist or Darwinist zealot like PZ Meyers or Moran to rule out apriori guided evolution, is not an objective opinion based upon scientific research, but a subjective bias based upon their anti-theist worldviews. The power of Design Theory is that is allows for any type of Designer, plus the ability of both guided and unguided evolutionary combinations. Whereas the atheistic Darwinian zealot approach remains subjectively close-minded and closed to authentic and open research.

    Based upon their own subjective criteria of “possible” and “plausible” “scientific” history, we are left with the case of opinion on either side thus far.

    With a nudge of priority to Design by the application of objective UPM and UPP.

  27. Rose,

    I did not call you a zealot. Don’t be so over-reactive yourself :). I have no idea what your opinion is on the subject. It was a reference to zealots, not you personally.

    Will you now answer my question?

  28. The power of Design Theory is that is allows for any type of Designer, plus the ability of both guided and unguided evolutionary combinations. Whereas the atheistic Darwinian zealot approach remains subjectively close-minded and closed to authentic and open research

    The problem here is this:

    Yes, ID allows for both living designers (the kind familiar to us, in which the intelligent behavior invariably arises from FSCI-rich physical bodies) and for other kinds of designers (which are completely unknown to us). But neither of these possibilities can explain the origin of FSCI in a way that is supported by our empirical experience: The first option doesn’t explain the origin of FSCI, and the second option isn’t grounded in our experience.

  29. Another paper of Abel’s I wish I had access to, co-written with Trevor in The Physics of Life Review…

    Self-organization vs. self-ordering events in life-origin models

    A partial abstract…

    “Self-ordering phenomena should not be confused with self-organization. Self-ordering events occur spontaneously according to natural “law” propensities and are purely physicodynamic. Crystallization and the spontaneously forming dissipative structures of Prigogine are examples of self-ordering. Self-ordering phenomena involve no decision nodes, no dynamically-inert configurable switches, no logic gates, no steering toward algorithmic success or “computational halting”. Hypercycles, genetic and evolutionary algorithms, neural nets, and cellular automata have not been shown to self-organize spontaneously into nontrivial functions. Laws and fractals are both compression algorithms containing minimal complexity and information. Organization typically contains large quantities of prescriptive information. Prescriptive information either instructs or directly produces nontrivial optimized algorithmic function at its destination. Prescription requires choice contingency rather than chance contingency or necessity. Organization requires prescription, and is abstract, conceptual, formal, and algorithmic. Organization utilizes a sign/symbol/token system to represent many configurable switch settings”

    Thus, again, the Open System does not give any advantage to the materialist only view.

  30. aiguy,

    It seems we agree.

    Neither does materialist, unguided evolution. My point is, since neither side has authority, why is only one-side represented to young minds as FACT in textbooks?

    What we do know by scientific observation today, is that genetic entropy takes place, a downward spiral of disease, dysfunctional breakdowns and failure due to random mutations. At best, what we see is a cost of survival, not an increase in order. Nor do we see self-organization on a Marco Level.

    Design Theory is just that. Theory. And it does not attempt to solve the Origins problem. But the paper I quoted shows that far from solving an origins issue, an unguided process cannot solve increasing order problems of complexity. In fact, the origins problem for blind, materialist problems is a huge problem for Darwinist.

    Yet, blind, materialist, Darwinian zealots will say that Macro-Evolution is a fact. That biology cannot be done without unguided evolution.

    That is simply not true. It is a big fat lie. Macro Evolution is a historical science, not based upon scientific methodology of observed test and repeated outcomes. As Abel shows above, true scientific methods are thrown to the wind when it comes to Darwinism.

    Attempting to build a robust theory is an arduous process. Design Theory has a long way to go. But, as Engineering Sciences gain momentum each day across the Biological creative process in all areas of research, what will we find?

    Will we find an unguided creation? Or, a guided creation? Will future scientist guide outcomes of genetic programs? Will they be able to do so rapidly in time for scientific observation?

    As Darwinist are quickly to opine, only Time will tell.

    But, to rule out apriori one side of the debate is to be disingenuous, close-minded, fanatical, and objectively bad science.

  31. DATCG,

    I guess we agree then. Contrary to many ID authors (and in particular Stephen Meyer in “Signature in the Cell”) there is no known cause in our experience that could account for the existence of the FCSI in biology. There is only speculation about something foreign to our experience which was not itself an FCSI-rich physical organism but could somehow exist and create living things. There seems to be no science at all there.

    And yes, I agree there is no reason to rule things out a priori. Still, we need to be careful about what is claimed to be known from experience and what isn’t. I have dozens of quotes from ID authors who claim that “intelligent agency” is a known cause capable of creating FSCI, when in fact all known things capable of producing FSCI already have FSCI.

  32. 32
    San Antonio Rose

    I did not call you a zealot. Don’t be so over-reactive yourself

    No, but comparing me to one isn’t exactly much better, is it? :<

    Will you now answer my question?

    I just make a little joke. I am just here trying to figure stuff out, not to peform for you.

  33. Just because the entropy of part of a system can decrease does not mean that it must happen, so the example of a house with the doors open getting messy is irrelevant. A better example is a fridge. Putting left overs in the fridge reduces the entropy of the left overs but of course this does not violate the 2nd law.

  34. aiguy,

    Apologies for coming in a bit late, but I disagree with your second paragraph at #25:

    On the other hand, it seems from our experience that intelligence invariably comes from FSCI. Of course we could imagine that intelligence could exist independently of complex, functional organisms, and many people believe that spirits, gods, or other beings might be intelligent without the complex, functional, physical mechanisms that all known intelligent agents require to support intelligent behavior – but this remains theoretical (or theological) and cannot be observed to occur.

    Intelligence has only been observed as being manifested through FSCI, but that does not mean that FSCI is the source or origin of the intelligence. I also don’t believe it has been shown that we cannot observe a non-material source for intelligence; rather, scientists refuse to consider such possibilities. There certainly is evidence that consciousness can exist independently of matter. The question is “what is the source of intelligence?” That question is outside the debate about ID.

    In reference to #32:

    I have dozens of quotes from ID authors who claim that “intelligent agency” is a known cause capable of creating FSCI, when in fact all known things capable of producing FSCI already have FSCI.

    Name one material thing known to be capable of producing FSCI that doesn’t have FSCI.

    The point is that intelligence is the only known source for FSCI. Random natural forces do not produce FSCI – that is what the 2nd law of thermodynamics is telling us. There is no alternative theory to the 2nd law, so the only option available to Darwinists is to purposely misinterpret it.

  35. @aiguy

    I too have thought of this question to be honest and I think it all comes down to building a coherent metaphysic through which one interprets reality. While I do share your concerns, I do disagree slightly with the way you present the following statement:

    “I have dozens of quotes from ID authors who claim that “intelligent agency” is a known cause capable of creating FSCI, when in fact all known things capable of producing FSCI already have FSCI”

    The first part of the statement is an observable fact: Intelligence is a known cause capable of creating FSCI. That is not something anyone can deny and this post (along with yours and the entire website for that matter) attests to that.

    The second part of the statement is simply an additional concern that we seem to share but does not in any way invalidate the first. Furthermore, depending on one’s metaphysical position it may become more or less troublesome as a concern. I believe this will be a huge problem specifically for materialists and logical positivists but not so much for others who emrbrace a different metaphysic/epistemology.

    So in conclusion, while I do think that your concern is a valid one, I think whether ot not it proves to be burdensome for any given thinker will very much depend on the thinker’s metaphysical inclinations/committments.

  36. I understand the basic argument here. It is that given the second law of thermodynamics, order cannot have a net increase. Since evolution essentially posits an increase in order, it cannot be a correct theory.

    My question is, can intelligent produce a net increase of order? I know that it can increase order locally, but can it increase it universally? We have grand cities, but we also have environmental decay. We have better medicine than we used to, but we also seem to have an increase in genetic disorders (I don’t know the science on that, its just what seems to be true based on what I’ve heard). If evolution is a “free lunch” is intelligence also a “free lunch?”

  37. 37

    aiguy at 25,

    I think you have provided a brilliant rebuttal to one of ID’s many arguments, even if I think it is incorrect. I have a couple of observations.

    Living things operate from a semiotic (correlated) mapping of chemical structures in the abstract (within DNA), to other chemical structures which result from that abstraction after it is transcribed by cellular machinery (resulting in proteins and regulatory networks, etc). This is the “FSC” part of the information transcribed by the cell. FSCI is a subset of information. Beyond whatever more strict definitions it may have, it certainly has semantic meaning, and is not simply random noise, nor is it an object of chemical necessity.

    This lays end to end with Claude Shannon, who in his famous work on information theory made the only distinction he needed to make about different types of information, that is, in the second sentence of the second paragraph he acknowledges the semantic nature of information. He separated out that meaningful information is distinct from noise. He comments “Frequently the messages have meaning; that is they refer to or are correlated according to some system with certain physical or conceptual entities.”

    Shannon made the distinction (at least partly) because he was working from an engineering perspective of information transfer, i.e. the communication of information which may introduce noise by means of its transmission.

    He developed this idea further with a schematic diagram, Fig 1, with five individually-named boxes. From left to right there is as arrow which passes through four of the five boxes in a specific order to indicate the flow of information. The flow begins at “Information Source” then passes through “Transmitter” to “Receiver” and finally to “Destination”. The fifth of the five boxes is tangentially tied to the flow of information between the “Transmitter” and the “Receiver”. The fifth box in entitled “Noise Source”.

    It is the Information Source that I wish to draw your attention to if I may, but first a thought about information itself.

    The history of the word deals with the idea of “giving form to”. To in-form by giving form to a subject of interest. This is exactly what Shannon meant by “correlated according to some system with certain physical or conceptual entities”.

    For instance, we know the number of particles in an atom of carbon because we have “looked” and discovered them – we have informed ourselves by making an abstraction of reality that correlates with our observations of the carbon atom, and we have recorded this as “information” which may be transferred and used to inform others. And as with all information, it requires (semiotic) symbols and rules in order to be transferred (i.e. the round red fruit that falls from trees and is white inside with little black seeds is called an “apple” in the English language, but only because we all agree to call it that. Otherwise we could call it an eggplant – just as long as we all agree to the rule).

    The concept I wish to approach you with is the idea that this information about the carbon atom – indeed, any information whatsoever about anything in the cosmos – would not exist at all without an agent to create it. Information requires perception from an agent in order to exist (be it from an ant or an astronaut). (I believe this observation may play into your post above at #25).

    I recently asked two questions on this forum which Bio Prof Allen MacNeil picked up on. I asked if DNA contained “meaningful information”, and also if “meaningful information” required perception in order to exist. His conclusions to both questions were tempered with qualifiers. For instance, for “meaningful information” to exist in DNA it would have to be actually transcribed by the cell and lead to a cellular function. He also commented that information is a separate phenomena which is not reducible to matter or energy, but requires either matter or energy as a carrier. I generally accept his qualifiers, and I also accept that the answers were affirmative for both questions.

    Now as a student of reasonable explanations, one might observe:

    1. Information is a non-material abstraction of reality

    2. Information is a phenomenon as tangible as matter and energy.

    3. Information requires perception by an agent in order to exist.

    4. Life operates from information instantiated (encoded/transcribed) within living tissue.

    5. The only absolute distinction between the material in an inanimate object and in a living object is the presence of information (infused with meaning and the rules by which to decode it)

    6. Information is not a human concept or invention, as it existed prior to the onset of human life.

    Given that there is no observable evidence that inanimate matter has the slightest bit of tendency to start recording “its” structural existence (as biological entities) by means of semiotic abstractions of itself, encoded and embedded in an chemical information carrier – indeed, there isn’t even a plausible conceptualization how such a thing could occur – I believe it’s completely warranted to conclude that an agent instantiated into matter the information that creates life. This conclusion is based upon our universal experience with that which is at the center of living things.

    My question to you is this; do you think someone is more or less warranted in this conclusion than someone who believes that, in fact, at some point in the remote past, inanimate chemicals did by some miraculous unknown means stumble upon the organizational principles that would lead to the onset of cell compartmentalization, the intake of energy, the metabolization of energy, the distribution of energy within the parts of the cell that require it (when they require it), the feedback networks to know when they need it, the respiration of waste, etc, etc, and by yet another unknown miraculous event also stumbled upon a semiotic system of information transfer, and did indeed begin to record “their” existence in just that fashion, and were able to encode these processes by means of embedded abstractions and then decode them in their subsequent offspring.

    I would like to know your thoughts either way, but if your answer is that the former is less warranted, then on what specific observation(s) do you make that assessment? If you do not wish to address this question, that is fine as well.

  38. @Upright Biped

    I think you did a fantastic job of framing the issue.

  39. jpg564,

    Intelligence has only been observed as being manifested through FSCI, but that does not mean that FSCI is the source or origin of the intelligence.

    I didn’t say that FSCI was observed to be sufficient to produce intelligent behavior (although I actually do think that is the case). Mine was simply the obvious point that in our experience FSCI is necessary to produce intelligent behavior.

    I also don’t believe it has been shown that we cannot observe a non-material source for intelligence; rather, scientists refuse to consider such possibilities. There certainly is evidence that consciousness can exist independently of matter.

    I believe that the evidence for consciousness existing independently of FSCI (complex physical mechanism) is very weak indeed, and evidence that our brains are required (again, even if not sufficient) for us to think is quite compelling. If ID researchers would like to make a scientific case, they need to do some actual research in paranormal psychology (where this sort of thing is investigated). Until then, claims that intelligence occurs independently of physical mechanism are far from the “known cause” that Meyers et al would have us believe.

    The question is “what is the source of intelligence?” That question is outside the debate about ID.

    Either the intelligent thing that ID hypothesizes is a complex physical organism or it is not. If it is, then ID fails to explain the origin of complex physical organisms. If it is not, then ID fails to show that such a thing (a non-living intelligence) exists or even can exist in prinicple.

    AIGUY: I have dozens of quotes from ID authors who claim that “intelligent agency” is a known cause capable of creating FSCI, when in fact all known things capable of producing FSCI already have FSCI.

    JPG564: Name one material thing known to be capable of producing FSCI that doesn’t have FSCI.

    Please read what I said again: There is NOTHING in our experience that can be observed to create FSCI which does not already have FSCI.

    The point is that intelligence is the only known source for FSCI.

    Name one thing that can produce FSCI which is not a complex physical living organism.

    Random natural forces do not produce FSCI – that is what the 2nd law of thermodynamics is telling us. There is no alternative theory to the 2nd law, so the only option available to Darwinists is to purposely misinterpret it.

    As I said, many people believe that the ratchet of natural selection (not a “random natural force”) can produce FSCI. I do not take a position on that proposition myself. However, it is clearly true that in our experience there is nothing that can produce FSCI which is not itself an FSCI-rich physical organism (or one of our creations like a computer).

    above,

    I too have thought of this question to be honest and I think it all comes down to building a coherent metaphysic through which one interprets reality.

    I’m actually not interested discussing metaphysics here; my concern is the claim of some ID proponents that we have in our experience something known to be able to originate FSCI. This claim is simply false, because all intelligent beings in our experience are themselves complex physical beings.

    AIGUY: I have dozens of quotes from ID authors who claim that “intelligent agency” is a known cause capable of creating FSCI, when in fact all known things capable of producing FSCI already have FSCI

    above: The first part of the statement is an observable fact: Intelligence is a known cause capable of creating FSCI.

    There is a problem with clarity here. The known cause of FSCI is physical organisms; we use the adjective of “intelligent” to describe many (or all) living things. There is nothing that is not a physical organism that we have observed creating FSCI. It is a mistake to reify “intelligence” as something that exists apart from living organisms and claim it is a scientifically grounded observation.

    So in conclusion, while I do think that your concern is a valid one, I think whether ot not it proves to be burdensome for any given thinker will very much depend on the thinker’s metaphysical inclinations/committments.

    Again, I’m talking only about things we know from experience – not metaphysics. If Stephen Meyer wants to provide metaphysical arguments for ID I would have no objection. When he claims we have a known cause that can explain the origin of FSCI I do object.

    Upright,

    I think you have provided a brilliant rebuttal to one of ID’s many arguments, even if I think it is incorrect.

    Gee, thanks (I think).

    Living things operate from a semiotic (correlated) mapping…

    The problem of intentionality (how symbols mean things) is a difficult and contentious area of philosophy. I’m not concerned with philosphical arguments here; only the claim that we have empirical knowledge of a cause that could account for the origin of FSCI.

    The concept I wish to approach you with is the idea that this information about the carbon atom – indeed, any information whatsoever about anything in the cosmos – would not exist at all without an agent to create it.

    Agents may transcend physical cause, and they may not. This is a philosophical question and it cannot currently be answered by appeal to observation. If they do not (i.e. if dualism is false) then all this is saying is some sorts of things in nature produce FSCI and some other sorts of things don’t. I will not argue here if dualism is true or false – I merely point out that science has not (yet) yielded the answer.

    Information requires perception from an agent in order to exist (be it from an ant or an astronaut)….

    I understand what you are saying here, but yet again I will simply say that we are deep into very muddy philosophical waters, which is far outside of the argument I am making about experience-based knowledge.

    My question to you is this; do you think someone is more or less warranted in this conclusion than someone who believes that, in fact, at some point in the remote past, inanimate chemicals did…

    My view is that we have no inkling what was responsible. To say “inanimate chemicals” did it makes the mistake of pretending we understand all of physical phenomena, which is most clearly false. To say “intelligent agency” did it makes the mistake of pretending we have reason to believe that something with a mind like our human minds was responsible, which in my view is an obvious anthropomorphic projection that has always been invoked to explain any phenomenon (tides, lightning, whatever) we don’t understand and has always been shown to be wrong whenever we do come to understand it. I am very comfortable in believing the answer is outside of our comprehension.

    But what I am arguing here is simply that we lack experience-based evidence for anything that could have been responsible for the original FSCI.

    Thanks for the interesting posts!

  40. -“ I’m actually not interested discussing metaphysics here; my concern is the claim of some ID proponents that we have in our experience something known to be able to originate FSCI. This claim is simply false, because all intelligent beings in our experience are themselves complex physical beings”

    From Popper to Khun to Lakatos, it has been demonstrated that science is theory laden and ridden with metaphysics. That is an observable fact, so I don’t know how you can go about claiming that you have no interest in metaphysics. Science is not something we do in suspended animation. Sorry.

    -“There is a problem with clarity here. The known cause of FSCI is physical organisms”

    No, actually there is no problem with clarity here. There is however a problem with circular logic on your part. It’s fairly evident that you’re presupposing materialism in you objection, hence why you try to submerge intelligence under the domain of the so called physical. Like I said before, the objection is valid if and only if one is a materialist or a positivist. Even a simple commonsense dualism overcomes your objection, let alone the numerous and more sophisticated substance ontologies.
    Now if your objection is a methodological concern and seeing how you are content in not knowing or believing we may not know, I can surely sympathize, but beyond that the objection simply begs the materialistic question.

    -“To say “intelligent agency” did it makes the mistake of pretending we have reason to believe that something with a mind like our human minds was responsible, which in my view is an obvious anthropomorphic projection that has always been invoked to explain any phenomenon (tides, lightning, whatever) we don’t understand and has always been shown to be wrong whenever we do come to understand it. I am very comfortable in believing the answer is outside of our comprehension.”

    First I want to note that it’s a caricaturism to compare ID to Zeus and lightning bolts. I think you went a little too far there. If that wasn’t your intention then ignore the previous statement.

    Finally, strictly speaking, every explanation we give or will ever give will be an anthropomorphism in one way or another – and of varying degrees – for the simple fact that our experiences are filtered through that which we are, anthropoi (Greek for humans). The notion that we can ever construct a worldview devoid of the human element in our theories is simply a delusion.

  41. 41

    Aiguy,

    Thanks for the response. I am somewhat dismayed by the disconnect between what I wrote and your response. For instance you respond:

    Living things operate from a semiotic (correlated) mapping…

    The problem of intentionality (how symbols mean things) is a difficult and contentious area of philosophy.

    Yet the mapping to which I am referring to is hardly a philosophical question. It is entirely observable; in fact, our entire understanding of biochemistry surrounds it being elucidated.

    You go on to say:

    I’m not concerned with philosphical arguments here; only the claim that we have empirical knowledge of a cause that could account for the origin of FSCI

    The claim is exactly that, we have a cause that could be the origin of FSCI. Not only that, we have a cause that is the only known originator of FSCI. That is not a conclusion; it is an empirical observation – one that is both valid and correct when judged by our universal experience.

    If you are then suggesting that our universal experience is not valid because we ourselves require FSCI in order to be alive and make conclusions, then I will ask if there are any other physical phenomena that we require to be alive, which we cannot know about because we require them in order to be alive and think about them. If such is the not the case, may I ask for a logic flow in order to fully understand your argument which invalidates any understanding of FSCI but not the other physical realities required to study physical realities?

    The concept I wish to approach you with is the idea that this information about the carbon atom – indeed, any information whatsoever about anything in the cosmos – would not exist at all without an agent to create it.

    Agents may transcend physical cause, and they may not.

    Again, I see an obvious disconnect. My comment was not about the transcendence of agents to physical cause; it was about the observational reality that information is not a material particle orbiting within the interior of atoms, but is instead an abstraction that requires perception in order to exist. This observation would hold true whether an agent transcended physical causes or not.

    You go on to say:

    This is a philosophical question and it cannot currently be answered by appeal to observation.

    To the extent of my actual question, I would say that is most certainly an observational issue, and that my observation is most certainly valid. As far as moving into a conclusion on dualism, I agree, I haven’t any desire to go there. I’ve already been and have the T-shirt, but that has nothing to do with my question.

    Information requires perception from an agent in order to exist (be it from an ant or an astronaut)….

    I understand what you are saying here, but yet again I will simply say that we are deep into very muddy philosophical waters, which is far outside of the argument I am making about experience-based knowledge.

    Actually I would have preferred you simply affirmed the obvious, as opposed to acknowledging it but saying it doesn’t weigh in. Of course it does – for the exact reasons I stated above.

    In any case, I appreciate all your responses, although I would have liked to hear your direct answer to my direct question.

  42. 42

    Above at 39

    Thank you!

    (but you will notice I got no answer to the question, so be it)

  43. above,

    From Popper to Khun to Lakatos, it has been demonstrated that science is theory laden and ridden with metaphysics. That is an observable fact, so I don’t know how you can go about claiming that you have no interest in metaphysics. Science is not something we do in suspended animation. Sorry.

    ID proponents such as Meyer go to great lengths to distinguish philosophy and theology from science, and insist their “ID Theory” is the latter. It is this to which I object.

    No, actually there is no problem with clarity here. There is however a problem with circular logic on your part. It’s fairly evident that you’re presupposing materialism in you objection,

    It will be obvious to any fair reader of my posts that your statement is deeply confused. For example, I say “Agents may transcend physical cause, and they may not. This is a philosophical question and it cannot currently be answered by appeal to observation.” For you to mistake me for a materialist is a revealing error. I am not a materialist.

    Like I said before, the objection is valid if and only if one is a materialist or a positivist. Even a simple commonsense dualism overcomes your objection, let alone the numerous and more sophisticated substance ontologies. Now if your objection is a methodological concern and seeing how you are content in not knowing or believing we may not know, I can surely sympathize, but beyond that the objection simply begs the materialistic question.

    I beg no question nor make any ontological assumptions at all. I simply point out the most obvious fact, which is that in our uniform and repeated experience (these are Meyer’s words!) there is no such thing as an intelligent agent which is not a complex physical organism.

    Finally, strictly speaking, every explanation we give or will ever give will be an anthropomorphism in one way or another – and of varying degrees – for the simple fact that our experiences are filtered through that which we are, anthropoi (Greek for humans). The notion that we can ever construct a worldview devoid of the human element in our theories is simply a delusion

    What I meant by “anthropomorphic” was explanations that employ mentalistic concepts (thought, consciousness, sentience, intent, volition, etc).

    upright,

    The claim is exactly that, we have a cause that could be the origin of FSCI.
    Not only that, we have a cause that is the only known originator of FSCI. That is not a conclusion; it is an empirical observation – one that is both valid and correct when judged by our universal experience.

    We observe that complex physical organisms produce FSCI, and nothing else.

    If you are then suggesting that our universal experience is not valid because we ourselves require FSCI in order to be alive and make conclusions, then I will ask if there are any other physical phenomena that we require to be alive, which we cannot know about because we require them in order to be alive and think about them. If such is the not the case, may I ask for a logic flow in order to fully understand your argument which invalidates any understanding of FSCI but not the other physical realities required to study physical realities?

    I am talking about our universal experience, which is that the production of FSCI invariably comes from FSCI-rich mechanism. Thus, if ID wishes to posit a known cause as an explanation of FSCI in biology, it must be talking about an FSCI-rich mechanism, and not some hypothetical sort of entity that somehow can produce FSCI without itself already being FSCI-rich. I’m not saying that hypothesis is false; I’m saying that we do not observe such things to exist.

    The concept I wish to approach you with is the idea that this information about the carbon atom – indeed, any information whatsoever about anything in the cosmos – would not exist at all without an agent to create it.

    This is not a statement that can be empirically tested because it is analytic rather than synthetic. You are defining information as something that requires agency (which by the way you haven’t bothered to define). If you define information differently (e.g. any set of measurable, discrete physical states) then your statement is not true. You can also define “agency” such that it has nothing to do with mind (e.g. as docoherence theories replace conscious observation with mindless processes in quantum mechanics).

    Again, I am not interested in debating philosophy of mind, epistemology, or ontology here. I am making no claims about the truth of any particular metaphysics. I am simply pointing out that the conclusion of ID cannot be said to rest on our uniform and repeated experience, as Meyer claims it does.

    AIGUY: Agents may transcend physical cause, and they may not.
    UPRIGHT: Again, I see an obvious disconnect. My comment was not about the transcendence of agents to physical cause; it was about the observational reality that information is not a material particle orbiting within the interior of atoms, but is instead an abstraction that requires perception in order to exist. This observation would hold true whether an agent transcended physical causes or not.

    You use the term “agent”, which is a term from philosophy and not science (i.e. we have no operationalized definition of what it means to be an “agent”). You say you are unconcerned if agency is free or ontologically distinct from physical cause (as opposed to Dembski, for example, who concedes his version of ID entails dualism and libertarian free will); in that case the thing you posit as a cause may be an unknown process that has nothing at all in common with human mentality.

    I’m trying to make this very simple; I’ll take one more crack at it but then I must bow out of this interesting discussion for reasons of time.

    1) Meyer claims that our uniform and repeated experience confirms that FSCI originates only via intelligent agency, and so offers that as a known cause to explain FSCI in biology.

    2) The intelligent agent Meyer posits must either be a complex physical organism, or not.

    3) If the designer is a complex physical organism, then ID fails to explain the origin of complex physical organisms. (And by the way, once we posit the existence of extra-terrestrial life forms as our designers, a simpler explanation would be that we are descendents of these life forms rather than the products of their bioengineering!).

    4) Otherwise, if the designer is not a complex physical organism, then what Meyer is positing is clearly not something known to our uniform and repeated experience.

    5) Either way, then, Meyer is wrong: There is nothing in our uniform and repeated experience that could be responsible for the origin of FSCI in biology.

  44. (typo above: docoherence => decoherence)

  45. aiguy,

    I fail to see the relevance of your objection to ID hypothesis. All you did, is frame question “Who designed the designer?” in terms of FSCI.

  46. AiGuy, 33:

    Contrary to many ID authors (and in particular Stephen Meyer in “Signature in the Cell”) there is no known cause in our experience that could account for the existence of the FCSI in biology

    1 –> I have struck the complex question words, to emphasise the basic point where questions are being begged.

    2 –> In scientific work we distinguish between the present where direct observation is possible, and he remote past, where such is not. One terminology is that now-sci is “operational” and deep past of origins science is “origins science.”

    3 –> As Lyell and Darwin pioneered, the concept is that we observe patterns active in the present and use them as explanatory models for the past, per a ladder of inferences on that past.

    4 –> This has obvious limitations, and we should never confuse the model past with actual reality as it happened. But it does allow us to peer into the past using scientific methods and come up with more or less plausible models.

    5 –> In the case of causal factors, we observe routinely that:

    a) mechanical necessity is associated with low contingency lawlike regularities (e.g. a dropped heavy object reliably falls at a given rate on earth’s surface)

    b) chance is associated with statistically distributed contingent patterns, e.g. the bell type curve for say lengths of a bolt made in a factory, or the flat random distribution of a fair die, etc.

    c) Functionally specific, complex information (especially the case of coded digital [discrete state]algorithmically functional complex information) is just as routinely associated with intelligent causes.

    d) In addition, the algorithmic functionality of the discrete state information, the codes and the like are maximally implausible products of chance processes; the other observed source of highly contingent outcomes.

    6 –> So, we have good reason to infer from dFSCI to design as its credible and empirically warranted cause.

    7 –> In addition, we have no good, empirically anchored grounds to rule out the possibility of other language using, algorithm-creating intelligences. So, we have no good grounds to a priori rule them out as possibilities.

    8 –> So, we turn to the relevant case, the living cell. There we see coded, algorithmically functional digital complex information, i.e. dFSCI. It is in the context of a metabolising entity with a self-replicating facility that depends crucially on string data structure stored coded information, in DNA, RNA and proteins.

    9 –> Such a system is irreducibly complex and functionally organised.

    10 –> So, we have excellent empirical warrant to infer to design as its best explanation, so soon as we do not allow imposition of ideological a priori evolutionary materialism to censor out possibilities.

    11 –> So, the real problem is not the scientific status of inference to design, but the a priori imposition of evolutionary materialism on origins science. And, if a dominant Magisterium in ecclesiastical robes telling us how to think and what not to think was unacceptable, so is one in lab coats.

    _____________

    And that becomes a big problem in an age when scientific institutions have become captivated by that ideology in a lab coat.

    GEM of TKI

  47. @aiguy

    -“ID proponents such as Meyer go to great lengths to distinguish philosophy and theology from science, and insist their “ID Theory” is the latter. It is this to which I object.”

    Well that is a question pertaining to the demarcation of science. Not an issue exclusive to ID alone.

    -“It will be obvious to any fair reader of my posts that your statement is deeply confused. For example, I say “Agents may transcend physical cause, and they may not. This is a philosophical question and it cannot currently be answered by appeal to observation.” For you to mistake me for a materialist is a revealing error. I am not a materialist.”

    Actually, Sir John Eccles along with many others had much to say about the matter of transcendence based on observation. But I do agree that the question is also to an extend a philosophical one, a quality that is shared by just about most if not all of our human inquiries/theories.

    I am not calling you a materialist or that was not my intention anyway. What I am saying is that the objection is based on a materialistic presupposition, as seen in your following statement: “We observe that complex physical organisms produce FSCI, and nothing else.” So not only is materialism presupposed – for you are treating the material as primary – you are also now employing reductionism, which as Quine puts it a ‘metaphysical article of faith’. I said this before several times and I will say it again, the objection is a valid one if and only if one is committed to that specific metaphysic.

    -“I simply point out the most obvious fact, which is that in our uniform and repeated experience (these are Meyer’s words!) there is no such thing as an intelligent agent which is not a complex physical organism.”

    A more accurate phrasing of the above statement would have been: “in our uniform and repeated experience we currently have no direct way of observing an intelligent agent that is not a physical organism”. That of course could simply a be human epistemological limitation. But that still does not undermine ID. All ID needs to operate is the observable fact that in our uniform and repeated experience we know that the only known origin of FSCI is an intelligent agent. That is why ID makes no claims as to the identity of the designer.

    -“What I meant by “anthropomorphic” was explanations that employ mentalistic concepts (thought, consciousness, sentience, intent, volition, etc).”

    That’s precisely what I was addressing actually. Most current theories in science not only employ such mentalistic concepts but presuppose them as well. So according to your previous post, all these should be consider failures then.

    -“ You are defining information as something that requires agency (which by the way you haven’t bothered to define). If you define information differently (e.g. any set of measurable, discrete physical states) then your statement is not true.”

    Actually it is true and is in fact hidden in your own words. For any set of physical states that are MEASURABLE, one requires observation, consciousness and evidently agency. Also, I don’t think you can define decoherence or any mindless material interaction as agency and I can’t even see the logic behind doing such a thing.

  48. kairofocus: I’m not sure what you mean by ‘maximally implausible’ in

    “d) In addition, the algorithmic functionality of the discrete state information, the codes and the like are maximally implausible products of chance processes; the other observed source of highly contingent outcomes.”

    I have been thinking about the inference to design a lot; it comes up in archaeology all the time. And, in archaeology, if an object is found to have designed aspects BUT was created before any known designers existed then the design inference becomes far less likely. I’m not saying a very clear case wouldn’t be able to create a new paradigm but it would have to be damn good. There would have to be confirmatory evidence that made the design inference more likely.

    I think this is part of the problem I’m having understanding ID. Those who support modern evolutionary theory point to multiple, converging lines of evidence. The existence of an intelligent designer seems to rest on an argument based on improbability.

    I’m not trying to be ‘snarky’, I’m just trying to get at the heart of the argument.

  49. Does ‘maximally implausible’ mean a probability of zero? I’m not too sure of algorithmic functionality either. If you could provide some background I’d be happy to pursue it.

  50. 50
    CannuckianYankee

    ellezimm,

    “I think this is part of the problem I’m having understanding ID. Those who support modern evolutionary theory point to multiple, converging lines of evidence. The existence of an intelligent designer seems to rest on an argument based on improbability.”

    I trust you had time to look up some of the sources we provided you on another thread.

    I’m not certain what you mean by “The existence of an intelligent designer seems to rest on an argument based on improbability.” I think we have made clear that ID does not argue the specifics of a designer, but for the specifics of design. I know this sounds confusing, but it’s an important distinction. If you break it down, there’s either chance plus necessity or there is design (or a combination of the two). While design implies a designer, we are addressing the two options (RV + NS or design – or a combination of the two); which are really the only issues we can answer scientifically. Yes, ID can be answered scientifically. If chance and necessity can be demonstrated, design becomes the less probable.

    When you keep this perspective, you avoid invoking a metaphysical assumption.

    Based on this clarification, probability is a very legitimate and valid exercise in scientific verification. Meyer committed several chapters to this very issue in his book. The issue is not that chance and necessity alone in the origin of life are highly improbable. The issue is that chance and necessity are so astronomically improbable as to make them alone essentially impossible. We can’t really say that they are definitely impossible, but the odds are indeed astronomical. Darwinists will charge that this is an argument from incredulity, or that it is “god-of-the-gaps.” One has to ask “How improbable does an explanation need to be for Darwinists to capitulate?” Another related question would be: “Is ‘god-of-the-gaps’ a legitimate charge, or is it indicative of the Darwinist commitment to not allowing ‘a divine foot in the door?’”

    It becomes quite clear that Darwinists are quite satisfied with the astronomical improbability of chance and necessity to account for FSCI in the first life forms, because they have an apriori commitment to chance and necessity; a materialist assumption. They continue to fail in showing that it can work. And a really revealing observation is that they admit they can’t show how it works. Current theories of abiogenesis are riddled with conjecture. In fact, there are so many current theories of abiogenesis based on chance and necessity, that it is quite difficult to get a handle on all of them. Parsimony has left the building on the question of abiogenesis.

    Now you point to “multiple converging lines of evidence.” In this you appear to imply that evidence belongs to those who discover it. It does not. Evidence belongs to all of us. The evidence belongs to ID as much as it belongs to Darwinian evolution. I think you are conflating evidence with explanation. They have multiple converging lines of explanation, but quite often the evidence, which belongs to all of us, conflicts with their apriori metaphysically based explanations.

    Now back to ID. If we consider other possibilities other than chance and necessity due to abandoning apriori materialist metaphysics, it becomes quite clear that intentional and purposeful design is the best option given the improbability that you pointed out. Is it only an explanation from improbability? Not quite. It also employs a reasonable account for how FSCI CAN come about based on what we already know from other disciplines, like engineering. It also employs a comparative framework for methodology based on other disciplines such as archeology and SETI science.

    As Above pointed out: “All ID needs to operate is the observable fact that in our uniform and repeated experience we know that the only known origin of FSCI is an intelligent agent. That is why ID makes no claims as to the identity of the designer.”

    So I think we are really forced to ask ourselves if chance and necessity is the best option given what we already know about how designers operate, given the calculated improbability factor, and given the apriori commitment to material causes necessary to make such an extrapolation. I think you will find that if you take a hard look at the evidence (which belongs to all of us), ID is the best option. In that, you are not obligated to infer a supernatural designer.

  51. 51
    CannuckianYankee

    ellazimm,

    I forgot to point out also that Darwinists will object to: “we know that the only known origin of FSCI is an intelligent agent.” The only basis for such an objection is the question-begging emphasis on chance and necessity, which has not been demonstrated.

  52. EZ:

    I think you will find the video at top right this and just about every UD page gives an idea.

    DNA stores 4-state [G/C/A/T] information in strings of nucleotides, a string data structure. RNA copies it [substituting U for T], and it is ported out of the nucleus to the ribozomes. There, step by step proteins are coded using the 3-letter codons and matching tRNA’s that match then are tipped over to lock the carried amino acid to the growing protein. A stop codon then terminates, and of course the protein is folded [sometimes with help of a chaperone molecule], activated and put to use. Algorithms are step by step finite [halting] sequences that achieve results.

    Much more is going on in the background to support this process, with something like 75 helper molecules involved.

    The protein’s folded and activated structure depends on the sequence of amino acids, which is coded in the DNA. Observe the anticodons in the tRNA that match the mRNA codes are at the opposite end to the carried amino acids. [TRNA is like a tool-arm that has to key-lock fit to be right [obviously there are 20 tRNAs, to match the 20 AAs], then it is tipped to add its AA to the protein chain.)

    So, as a key part of the metabolic functional processes in the cell is a digital information system, only it uses 4 states not the 2 we are used to in electronics. To put that information to work, there are dozens of coordinated molecules that work as nanomachines, starring the RNA, Ribosomes and enzymes.

    For the simplest organisms, we see DNA of order 100 000 to 1 million bases, or twice that many in bits. Just 1,000 bits specifies so many possible configurations that the atoms of the observed universe, changing state every 10^-45s or so, will only sample 1 in 10^150 of that number in its lifespan. So it is not reasonable to see a chance based search [and chance is what makes for contingency where intent is not at work] can scratch the space of possibilities. The islands of fucntion are too isolated to be credibly found by thermodynamics and chemistry in Darwin’s warm little pond or the like. That is, the search boils down to no search, and chance is not a plausible source.

    The natural selection so vaunted by darwinists then has the problem that until the system we are talking is in place it is not possible, i.e. we do not have a self-replicating, metabolising entity — notice the double functionality [extrapolations of self-catalysing reactions need not apply] — so no reproduction is happening. No reproduction, no differential success across sub populations so no culling out of less fit forms.

    Origin of life is a roadblock to the darwinian mechanisms.

    But FSCI is known to be routinely made by intelligences, as to origin. By direct observation — no metaphysical speculation there, dFSCI as we see in cells is known to come from intelligence.

    When we come to novel body plans, we are looking at needing to get 10s of millions of base pairs, and tightly co-ordinated systems, dozens of times over, and this has to be ebryologically feasible or the organism does not survive the transformation. Nor is it credible that such changes can happen one small step at a time. No way do you move from hello World pgms to WordPress that way, working each tiny step of the way.

    Absent a priori commitment to evolutionary materialism, the issue would be a no-brainer. The signs in they cell may not say whodunit, but they clearly strongly point out that twerdun.

    Hope that helps.

    G

  53. CY: thanks for taking the time to reply.

    I feel I do understand the ID position better but I don’t think I can ever adopt it. I won’t keep popping up here asking questions because I think I now see the basic split between the camps.

    Since design requires a designer then the probability of design must also, in my way of thinking, take into account the probability and/or evidence of there being a capable designer at the required time (not getting into the dating issue, that I really don’t want to approach). I think not doing this will always seem disingenuous to me. As you say, the probability of some of what we observe in nature coming about via random mutation and natural selection is very, very low. (Although the probability of SOMETHING coming about via random mutation and natural selection is not as low.) The probability of there being design and a designer (since design cannot exist without a designer) is even more improbable without other evidence of the existence of a designer. Which, as has been pointed out, cannot be established, for a supernatural designer anyway. Now, if the designer was from an alien species then I don’t see why material evidence would not exist. I suspect that, considering Dr Behe’s edge of evolution notion, most ID proponents believe that design has been implemented every time a new genus or family or species has emerged. Since some of that has happened fairly (geographically) recently and no material evidence of another species with our intelligence or above has ever been found then I doubt that the alien designer option is seriously considered by anyone.

    Also, just to clarify what I meant (even though I’m sure you’ve heard it many times): The imperfect fossil record is consistent with common descent with modification. The DNA evidence (including protein functional redundancy, DNA functional redundancy, transposons, redundant pseudogenes and endogenous retroviruses) is consistent with common descent with modification. The morphological evidence is consistent with common descent with modification. The geographic distribution of species is consistent with common descent with modification. That’s part of what I meant by multiple converging lines of evidence.

    Thanks for your time, I really do appreciate it. I will do my best to not misrepresent the ID position even though I can’t agree with it. I can see that many people who do accept the tenets of ID are intelligent and caring people so I shall eschew name calling and other forms of derision. And I won’t waste your time.

    All the best.

  54. Sorry kairofocus for not including you in my thanks, I think we were writing at the same time and I didn’t see your post ’til after I finished mine. I guess by maximally implausible you meant extremely, highly, improbable. It was the use of the word maximally that confused me.

  55. 55
    CannuckianYankee

    ellazimm and others:

    “Since design requires a designer then the probability of design must also, in my way of thinking, take into account the probability and/or evidence of there being a capable designer at the required time (not getting into the dating issue, that I really don’t want to approach).”

    First of all, thanks for giving us the last word on this. I appreciate that you have considered our thoughts without the usual insinuations we get from others on this board who defend Darwin.

    However, let me just point out a few problems I see with your approach to answering your questions, which really should be framed beyond Darwinian metaphysical assumptions; but sadly, you have shown that you simply cannot escape Darwinian reasoning.

    How so? Well first of all, your first paragraph I quoted above is riddled with metaphysics. What you’re essentially inferring here is that empiricism apart from reason is the only valid purveyor of truth (particularly as it relates to the existence of a designer of life). We’ve already had this discussion on another thread, which lasted quite some time, and amounted to over 600 posts. I refer you to the thread concerning a short video that was posted on Youtube several weeks ago, in which Stephen Meyer discusses the question regarding ID’s “scientific bona fides.” In that discussion, several Darwin supporters asserted in no uncertain terms, that evidence is evidence, without any interpretation or metaphysical assumptions needed. In so doing, they reached the absurd notion that evidence trumps the law of non-contradiction particularly with regard to the apparent counterintuitive properties of quantum phenomenon. Hence, their belief that a thing can exist and not exist at the same time; or that a thing can be two places at one time.

    So our metaphysical assumptions are important in this question of our origins. And good metaphysics are bound by first principles and right reason.

    As several others have stated in other threads as well, the evidence for a designer is not only a question that seeks empirical evidence, but is also a question at the primary level of metaphysical reasoning. This is why I referred you to William Lane Craig’s presentation of the Kalam Cosmological Argument for the existence of God.

    I think the issue still stands that if you aren’t prepared to deal with the metaphysics, you aren’t prepared to have a satisfactory basis for what you believe – be it Darwinian evolution, ID, or some other metaphysical or scientific position.

    What does it take to understand that requiring evidence for a designer solely based upon an apriori materialist metaphysic, informs itself by that metaphysic alone? Thus, It is self-defeating. ID, on the other hand, strives to avoid self-referential logic. IDists don’t say as they are accused: “Darwinian evolution does not make sense, therefore God dunnit.”

    So self-referential materialism then becomes not an issue of empirical evidence, but an issue of fuzzy logic.

    As I stated before, Darwinian metaphysics are teeming with absurdities, which cannot be overcome. I mentioned the issue of causation and the problem of an infinite regress of causes. Must I spell this out?

    OK, I will:

    There are two parts to the Kalam Cosmological argument, which Craig addresses. The first part is the causation issue, and the second part is the infinite regress issue.

    The causation issue can be summed up as follows:

    A) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
    B) The universe exists.
    C) Therefore, the universe has a cause.

    That’s the logic behind the argument, and now here is the rub:

    A cause of everything that exists cannot itself be caused.

    This leads to the implication that there must be a first cause, which itself was not caused.

    Now the second part of the argument is essentially a proof that actual infinites cannot exist. This includes in our case infinite material causes and infinite time.

    Without going into much detail, we arrive eventually to the understanding that a necessary first cause, that was not caused, and is not bound by the constraints of time and material; thus is transcendent, created everything that exists.

    Therefore, it becomes quite reasonable to infer a designer based on metaphysics alone. But this is an issue, which few Darwinists feel comfortable dealing with.

    Why not? Well first of all, if you consider these issues seriously enough, you come to certain conclusions. One is that a materialist metaphysic is highly insufficient and incomplete in consideration of causation and infinite regresses. Materialism asserts that matter is all there is. But it becomes necessary somewhere down the line that matter came into being. If matter has always existed, then we have two problems that cannot be overcome.

    The first problem is that matter changes (it’s interesting that evolution should be founded on this fact). Change requires the passage of time. If time is infinite, then what part of that infinity is the span of time in which we have lived? Is it in the middle of that infinity, towards the beginning, or towards the end? You see where this leads? Furthermore, how can we think to start at the present time and count backwards to the point of infinity? You can see by this that if time is infinite, there was an infinite amount of time before our time, and there will be an infinite amount after. So we would not have arrived at our present time if time was in fact infinite.

    Darwinists fail to deal with these absurdities in their assertion that matter is all there is. If matter is all there is, then matter has always existed. It did not have a cause. It could not have had a cause apart from some entity, which was not itself matter or which was caused.

    So you can infer anything you want by this, but one thing you cannot infer is that a designer needs to be shown to exist by the physical evidence alone.

    But the present physical evidence alone is apparently sufficient to some very thoughtful people (although I would also point out that their metaphysic is also involved).

    I mentioned Antony Flew before, but I think that his case requires further inspection.

    Flew stated in an interview not long ago that he was never impressed by the cosmological arguments for God’s existence. As an atheist, he reasoned that the cosmological argument presents its own absurdities, and I can imagine that for him this was the question of “who designed the designer?”

    But what is interesting is that the design argument persuaded Flew that God exists. It’s interesting because for even one of the world’s most staunch yet very thoughtful atheists, the design argument was enough. It’s also interesting because while Flew may not have been completely committed to a materialist metaphysic, he did have a keen understanding of how that metaphysic operates – with it’s self-defeating inferences to only material causes; which is why he emphasized that one must “go where the evidence leads,” and leave behind metaphysical assumptions. So while he may not have been impressed by the cosmological argument, he apparently utilized some of the issues of causality and infinite regresses to form his conclusions.

    For me it’s the opposite. I’m more persuaded by the cosmological argument than with the design argument; however, design has solidified for me what intuitively came to be a part of my own reasoning.

    Now in light of all this, let’s deal with your second statement:

    “As you say, the probability of some of what we observe in nature coming about via random mutation and natural selection is very, very low. (Although the probability of SOMETHING coming about via random mutation and natural selection is not as low.)”

    The glaring question here is: “how can SOMETHING come about via natural processes at the beginning – at the proposed singularity? You first have to deal with the singularity and what caused it before making assumptions about nature and causality. You have no more evidence that SOMETHING can come about via natural processes alone than that living systems can come about by the same processes. It is a self-defeating assumption in light of the issues of causation and infinite regresses.

    And furthermore, you’ve restated what we already made quite clear – me in my initial discussion of the probability issue in post #50, and Kairosfocus in his much more elaborate discussion on this issue in post #52; which as I mentioned, is an issue, which Meyer addresses even more in depth in his book. It’s not that natural selection has a very very low probability. The issue may not even be (and probably isn’t) natural selection, but simply some form of chance and necessity in the origin of life, which presents (to use KF’s term) a “maximally implausible” scenario for how life began through abiogenesis.

    I know you understand the difference between Darwinian evolution and abiogenesis, so I fail to see why you conflate the two here. Natural selection is not at issue at least here. Natural selection is like a combustion engine. It operates only after the initial spark required for it’s continuation. What is at issue is the initial spark – the ability of natural processes acting alone to account for the origin of life; which is inexplicably an issue of how FSCI arose, and what we invariably assert based on all available evidence and without conjecture, that FSCI does not arise apart from intelligence.

    So when you assert: “The probability of there being design and a designer (since design cannot exist without a designer) is even more improbable without other evidence of the existence of a designer.”

    The key word here is “other.” What other evidence is required apart from a metaphysical appeal to right reason; that nothing comes about without a cause, and the present physical evidence, which appears to confirm that natural processes alone cannot account for first of all existence, and second of all, life?

    You continue: “Which, as has been pointed out, cannot be established, for a supernatural designer anyway.”

    Where has it been pointed out apart from a position of materialism? Second – what is your definition of “supernatural?” Where does that fit in? If the designer exists, then such a designer is more real than simply “supernatural,” whatever we mean by that. So such an argument is informed solely by the metaphysical assumption, and not by any real appeal to logic or reason. It is again a self-referential argument, which is self-defeating.

    I have no qualms, nor defense for your alien designer argument.

    More metaphysical assertions in your next paragraph:

    “Also, just to clarify what I meant (even though I’m sure you’ve heard it many times): The imperfect fossil record is consistent with common descent with modification. The DNA evidence (including protein functional redundancy, DNA functional redundancy, transposons, redundant pseudogenes and endogenous retroviruses) is consistent with common descent with modification.”

    The key word here is “redundancy.” While this may be true, it is formed from the typical Darwinian metaphysical argument that “God would not have done it this way.” See, like I said, you cannot escape your metaphysical assumptions.

    The common descent argument is as we discussed earlier, informed by the metaphysical assumption. If you abandone that assumption, the fossil record can mean something quite different.

    Here’s a thought experiment for you: how would the evidence you suggested above not be so if design were at play – without appealing to any metaphysical assumptions about a designer? See, it’s not IDists who talk about designers, so much as it is Darwinists. They insinuate that a designer would not do things the way they appear by the evidence. Yet their insinuations are very subtle. Your above quote is an example of a subtle Darwinian insinuation; which over the past several years, I’ve learned to detect.

    So based on that, I stand by my earlier observation that Darwinists have multiple converging lines of explanation; but the evidence remains for our purposes here, neutral until the Darwinist can without his/her metaphysical assumptions, draw a reasonable argument from it. They have not done so.

    Lastly, while we disagree on many things here; I don’t think these discussions are a waste of time. They are fruitful in our attempts to help others to understand ID. I think we all appreciate your conduct on this board, and many of us have been impressed by the way you presented your arguments without the most common Darwinist insinuations of our position, which we see all too often – especially outside of this board in other forums. That said though, I think it’s important for us all to consider that what we view as evidence does not escape the filter of our own metaphysical outlook. The real question is: what metaphysic fits better with right reason?

  56. I don’t think the discussions are a waste of time either! They need and should be going on. But I don’t think I’ve got anything else to contribute. You’ve heard everything I’ve got to say before and I don’t need to make you go through all the explanations again. If I think of something I will toss it into the mix and trust you will continue to be kind.

    Thanks again for your time and consideration and for letting me ask some questions.

  57. 57
    CannuckianYankee

    ellazimm, (slightly off topic)

    One thing I just remembered, and it concerns arguments from incredulity.

    Richard Dawkins has been known to make statements to the effect that the existence of God is highly improbably. Now we here have ascertained that he makes such statements based solely on his apriori commitment to materialism.

    This is an example of what I referred to in the other thread as the Darwinist double standard. Darwinists are allowed to make arguments from incredulity, but non-Darwinists are not; even if such non-Darwinian arguments are based on evidence, and not merely from apriori metaphysical assumptions.

  58. EZ:

    CY has raised several points that are food for thought for thoughtful materialists.

    If you want to see a part of why I spoke in terms of implausibility, cf the [peer reviewed] paper by Abel here.

    GEM of TKI

  59. @CY

    -”Lastly, while we disagree on many things here; I don’t think these discussions are a waste of time. They are fruitful in our attempts to help others to understand ID.”

    That’s precisely why I joined this community. It’s the only one that I have been a part of that I can say I enjoyed interracting with both believers as well as atheists/materialists.

    You just don’t see the usual angry mob mentality and extreme narrow-mindedness that you see on other sites. Not to mention the insults.

  60. inunison,

    I fail to see the relevance of your objection to ID hypothesis. All you did, is frame question “Who designed the designer?” in terms of FSCI.

    No, that isn’t even close, really. What I point out has nothing to do with the origin of the designer. Rather, I point out that in our uniform and repeated experience, all designers (i.e. producers of FSCI) are complex physical organisms. Thus the claim by Stephen Meyer that there is cause which is known to our uniform and repeated experience which could account for the origin of life is false (because obviously the first complex physical organism could not have been created by another complex physical organism, and no other type of intelligent agent is known in our uniform and repeated experience).

    above,

    AIGUY:
    -“ID proponents such as Meyer go to great lengths to distinguish philosophy and theology from science, and insist their “ID Theory” is the latter. It is this to which I object.”
    ABOVE: Well that is a question pertaining to the demarcation of science. Not an issue exclusive to ID alone.

    The point you seem reluctant to address is that it is ID Theorists themselves who insist on making this demarcation, whether or not you believe there is a demarcation to be made. If ID Theorists did not insist that theirs was a scientific rather than a theological view, I would have nothing to discuss here.

    I am not calling you a materialist or that was not my intention anyway. What I am saying is that the objection is based on a materialistic presupposition, as seen in your following statement: “We observe that complex physical organisms produce FSCI, and nothing else.” So not only is materialism presupposed – for you are treating the material as primary – you are also now employing reductionism

    You insist I assume both materialism and reductionism, based on statements which imply neither. You merely have to give me some counter-example to show where my observation might fail to hold, rather than impute metaphysical stances to me that I do not hold. So please: Tell us how to observe something which is not itself a complex physical mechanism rich in FSCI but which produces FSCI. We have countless observations of complex organisms creating FSCI, but we have no observations of anything else creating FSCI. Nothing could be more clear, more obvious, more true. No reasonable person could possibly disagree, (unless you turn to paranormal phenomena which have been discussed upthread).

    This has absolutely nothing to do with metaphysical commitments. This has to do with you and I agreeing that we can observe complex physical organisms (like human beings) creating FSCI, and then agreeing that neither of us can observe anything else which has this ability. Even if dualism was true, that does not change the fact that we cannot observe anything but complex physical entities creating FSCI.

    A more accurate phrasing of the above statement would have been: “in our uniform and repeated experience we currently have no direct way of observing an intelligent agent that is not a physical organism”.

    Thank you so much for conceding this obvious point. In our repeated and uniform experience, every intelligent agent we observe is invariably a complex physical organism.

    But that still does not undermine ID. All ID needs to operate is the observable fact that in our uniform and repeated experience we know that the only known origin of FSCI is an intelligent agent. That is why ID makes no claims as to the identity of the designer.

    The “designer” that ID posits is either a complex physical organism, or it is not (I presume you will agree with that).

    If the designer is a complex physical organism, then ID fails to explain the origin of complex physical organisms. If the designer is not a complex physical organism, then it is something outside of our uniform and repeated experience.

    That is my argument. It rests on no materialist or reductionist assumptions. You may attempt to retreat into hyper-skepticism (how do we even know what is real? every belief is based on metaphysics! maybe we’re all living in a dream!) but this would be disingenuous, because when Stephen Meyer claims that he has scientific evidence that points to a known cause as the best explanation of FSCi in biology, he isn’t making caveats about science resting on metaphysics or the impossibility of knowledge.

    Actually it is true and is in fact hidden in your own words. For any set of physical states that are MEASURABLE, one requires observation, consciousness and evidently agency.

    No, an instrument can measure things, and we have no reason to believe a thermometer is conscious. If you disagree, then again we are merely disagreeing about definitions and not about facts about the world.

    Also, I don’t think you can define decoherence or any mindless material interaction as agency and I can’t even see the logic behind doing such a thing.

    You misread my post. I used decoherence as an analogy, not to define it as agency. One can interpret waveform collapse as the result of conscious observation, or as the result of unconscious interaction with the environment – decoherence).

    In summary, Meyer makes a distinction between science and philosophy, and clearly claims that his theory if fully scientific. If you wish you wish to deny my argument because there is no such thing as metaphysics-free science, then you’ll need to deny Meyer’s argument on the very same basis. Otherwise, you should concede that Meyer is mistaken when he claims that we have a cause which is known to our uniform and repeated experience which could account for the origin of life.

  61. RE 60 aiguy,

    I think your position as you frame it is pretty airtight. Is it your position that only that which can be empirically confirmed through repeated observation and experience defines what is and is not scientific?

    Vivid

  62. -“If ID Theorists did not insist that theirs was a scientific rather than a theological view, I would have nothing to discuss here.”

    Well in the same spirit you should also say that: “If materialistic darwinists did not insist that theirs was a scientific rather than a philosophical view, I would have nothing to discuss here”
    If that’s your measuring stick for scientific demarcation then we need to be fair.

    -“ We have countless observations of complex organisms creating FSCI, but we have no observations of anything else creating FSCI”

    Maybe you’re not aware of it when you do it but the above statement is exactly what I am referring to when I speak of materialistic presuppositions. Simply put, the concept of intelligence (the ‘I’ in the ID) is replaced with ‘complex [physical] organism’. That is false equivocation. Furthermore, it’s semantics we are now getting into and the way you phrase your statement begs the materialistic question. Like I said before, you try to subsume intelligence under materialism in a typical reductionist manner and finally get to the statement ‘complex [physical] organism’. I don’t know how else to explain it to you.

    -“ Even if dualism was true, that does not change the fact that we cannot observe anything but complex physical entities creating FSCI”

    Under dualism humans are not JUST complex physical entities and that in fact changes everything. That’s the difference and that is why materialism needs to be presupposed in order for your objection to stand.

    Your stance also depends on what I call naïve empiricism (naïve in this case is not a demeaning term). I too use to think like that and it’s not something that can be easily overcome simply because we are just so predisposed to it. But I think further analysis into the issue would go more into even more semantics and definitions pertaining to ‘observation’, ‘evidence’, ‘physicality’ and the like.

    -“ The “designer” that ID posits is either a complex physical organism, or it is not… [etc]”

    Like I said before, the identity of the designer is not an issue for ID, so the remainder of that argument is frankly irrelevant.

    -“ No, an instrument can measure things, and we have no reason to believe a thermometer is conscious. If you disagree, then again we are merely disagreeing about definitions and not about facts about the world.”

    The thermometer is designed specifically by a human to aid in his/her measurements. A thermometer does not measure anything. Mercury just expands in a glass cylinder. It’s a human being that does the measuring via his consciousness with the assistance of the given apparatus.
    But I do agree with you that a lot of our disagreement on the entire subject is very much an issue of semantics.

    -“ In summary, Meyer makes a distinction between science and philosophy, and clearly claims that his theory if fully scientific. If you wish to deny my argument because there is no such thing as metaphysics-free science, then you’ll need to deny Meyer’s argument on the very same basis.”
    I have no problem with that actually!
    I’m not an IDist by the way.

    Finally, for the sake of argument let’s just say that I decide to put all my objections to your argument aside. If one were to follow your argument to its logical conclusion, a significant part of evolutionary theory would fall outside of real science. While many examples have been given, the most obvious one would be that we simply cannot observe the past. We can only infer the past from the present. So even if I agree with you for the sake of argument it seems like you are now in a dilemma. You either acknowledge that logical inference is a reality and a necessity for the scientific enterprise or reject any claims evolution makes that depend on the unobservable past, which themselves are not inferred or are extrapolated postulates.

  63. RE 60

    “obviously the first complex physical organism could not have been created by another complex physical organism…”

    Why is this so obvious?

    Vivid

  64. vivid,

    AIGUY: “obviously the first complex physical organism could not have been created by another complex physical organism…”

    VIVID: Why is this so obvious?

    If the first complex physical organism was created by another complex physical organism, then it couldn’t actually have been the first complex physical organism after all, could it?

  65. “If the first complex physical organism was created by another complex physical organism, then it couldn’t actually have been the first complex physical organism after all, could it?”

    And that is my point. You do not know this from a scientific experiment you know this by invoking reason, specifically the LNC.

    Vivid

  66. above,

    Well in the same spirit you should also say that: “If materialistic darwinists did not insist that theirs was a scientific rather than a philosophical view, I would have nothing to discuss here” If that’s your measuring stick for scientific demarcation then we need to be fair.

    I’m not talking about “Darwinists” – materialistic or not. I’m talking about ID theory. I don’t really understand what “Darwinism” has to do with “materialism”, but that is another discussion entirely, and I’d like to stick to one topic here.

    AIGUY: “ We have countless observations of complex organisms creating FSCI, but we have no observations of anything else creating FSCI”
    ABOVE: Maybe you’re not aware of it when you do it but the above statement is exactly what I am referring to when I speak of materialistic presuppositions. Simply put, the concept of intelligence (the ‘I’ in the ID) is replaced with ‘complex [physical] organism’. That is false equivocation.

    I really think you are misconstruing my remarks pretty dramatically. I am not equating “intelligence” with “complex physical organism” at all, and none of my comments suggest otherwise. Rather, I am saying while it would be imaginable for something which is not a complex physical organism to be intelligent, there is no such thing in our uniform repeated experience. So no matter how hard you try, you cannot dismiss my argument by saying it rests on materialistic presuppositions – it does not.

    Furthermore, it’s semantics we are now getting into and the way you phrase your statement begs the materialistic question. Like I said before, you try to subsume intelligence under materialism in a typical reductionist manner and finally get to the statement ‘complex [physical] organism’. I don’t know how else to explain it to you.

    I don’t know how else to make my point to you either, but I trust the fair reader will see that I make no assumptions about ontology in my argument. Let’s say I reject materialism and believe instead that the mind is ontologically distinct, irreducible, and causal, and that human beings have immortal souls. That doesn’t change my argument here one iota: It would still be the case that in our repeated and uniform experience, every single thing which we would call “intelligent” would also be a complex physical organism (a human being or other living thing).

    Under dualism humans are not JUST complex physical entities and that in fact changes everything. That’s the difference and that is why materialism needs to be presupposed in order for your objection to stand.

    Sorry, but you just could not be more confused on this point. Of course under dualism humans are not just complex physical entities, but that does not change the fact that they are indeed complex physical entities!!! Under dualism, we have dual natures – one is our material body and one is our immaterial mind. That means that we are spiritual entities AND ALSO material entities! Not just one or the other.

    Now, one more time: There is nothing in our experience that exhibits intelligence except things which are (whatever else may be true of them) complex physical entities! Even if they have immaterial minds or immortal souls, that does not mean they do not ALSO have complex physical bodies! You may imagine that something could remain conscious and intelligent without any sort of body, but (except for paranormal research) these sorts of entities are outside of our uniform and repeated experience. (And if you’d like to rely on paranormal research to salvage your position, you need to make that explicit).

    …So even if I agree with you for the sake of argument it seems like you are now in a dilemma. You either acknowledge that logical inference is a reality and a necessity for the scientific enterprise or reject any claims evolution makes that depend on the unobservable past, which themselves are not inferred or are extrapolated postulates.

    I am in delimma whatsoever. Who ever said I would defend evolutionary theory?

  67. Vivid,

    And that is my point. You do not know this from a scientific experiment you know this by invoking reason, specifically the LNC.

    My point is that ID theorists such as Stephen Meyer claim that our repeated and uniform experience includes a cause that can account for the origin of biological FSCI, but this is not the case. So it is not about experiments, but rather it is about our uniform and repeated experience.

  68. “My point is that ID theorists such as Stephen Meyer claim that our repeated and uniform experience includes a cause that can account for the origin of biological FSCI, but this is not the case. So it is not about experiments, but rather it is about our uniform and repeated experience.”

    I know what your point is and as I said as you framed it it is pretty airtight. However my point, which you made for me, is that you cannot scientifically state

    “If the first complex physical organism was created by another complex physical organism, then it couldn’t actually have been the first complex physical organism after all, could it?”

    This is a statement that is not the result of any scientific experiment.

    Also neither is this claim

    “My point is that ID theorists such as Stephen Meyer claim that our repeated and uniform experience includes a cause that can account for the origin of biological FSCI, but this is not the case”

    You do not know that this is not the case by any scientific experiment. See #65.

    Vivid

  69. FYI if you prefer you can replace “scientific experiment” with “uniform and repeated experience”

    Vivid

  70. Vivid,

    However my point, which you made for me, is that you cannot scientifically state

    “If the first complex physical organism was created by another complex physical organism, then it couldn’t actually have been the first complex physical organism after all, could it?”

    This is a statement that is not the result of any scientific experiment.

    This is a statement that true by virtue of the meaning of the word “first”. I hope we do not start doubting the meaning of every word. All I mean is that if X is the first complex organism, then no other complex organism could by definition have existed prior to P.

    And so once again we see that as far as our uniform and repeated experience goes (which is what Meyer explicity appeals to!) there are no intelligent agents who could have created the first complex organisms. What Meyer and ID folks in general are positing is something quite outside of our experience, which is something with some sort of mind (according to Meyer it would be a conscious mind) and which has the ability to do the sorts of things that human beings can do (viz. design and build complex mechanisms) without the benefit of a complex physical brain or body. Maybe such a thing could exist, and maybe not, but there are certainly no such things in our unform repeated experience.

  71. “This is a statement that true by virtue of the meaning of the word “first”. I hope we do not start doubting the meaning of every word. All I mean is that if X is the first complex organism, then no other complex organism could by definition have existed prior to P.”

    Of course why repeat what has already been said? However if we are going to limit science to our uniform and repeated experience is it to much to ask for consistency on your part?

    Vivid

  72. Vivid,

    I’m having trouble understanding your point. How am I being inconsistent?

  73. “I’m having trouble understanding your point. How am I being inconsistent?”

    If you insist Meyers should only make scientific claims, science being defined “uniform and repeated experience” you should also. I have already given two claims by you that are not scientific as per your definition.

    I would also ask you if you frequent Darwinist sites to tell them how unscientfic their theories are? After all that is the dominant paradigm, I mean ID is small potatoes compared to Darwinism.

    While you are at it would you answer my question in #61?

    Vivid

  74. @aiguy

    -“I really think you are misconstruing my remarks pretty dramatically. I am not equating “intelligence” with “complex physical organism” at all, and none of my comments suggest otherwise. Rather, I am saying while it would be imaginable for something which is not a complex physical organism to be intelligent, there is no such thing in our uniform repeated experience. So no matter how hard you try, you cannot dismiss my argument by saying it rests on materialistic presuppositions – it does not”

    I’m not dismissing your concern I am merely dismissing it as an adequate argument against ID. In my very first post I stated that I too thought of that so I do acknowledge it. However, I also said that the force of such concern and whether or not it can be a valid argument against ID depends on one’s prior assumptions.

    -“Sorry, but you just could not be more confused on this point. Of course under dualism humans are not just complex physical entities, but that does not change the fact that they are indeed complex physical entities!!! Under dualism, we have dual natures – one is our material body and one is our immaterial mind. That means that we are spiritual entities AND ALSO material entities! Not just one or the other.”

    No, I’m not confused at all. I know exactly what dualism entails. Like you said, under dualism the human being is comprised of both a material and an immaterial substance. Now, when a software engineer for example, creates FSCI for a program, which of the two parts is it that acts as the author of such FSCI? The immaterial mind of course. So when I sit next to the engineer and observe him create the program, I am observing both the body AND the mind in action. Now since the body without the mind would not be able to author FSCI it’s logical to conclude that it’s the intelligence of the person that is the cause of FSCI.

    Now, unless one holds the naïve empiricist position I mentioned earlier and denies logical inference, I don’t see how the objection to ID can be sustained. Basically, the difference between you and me is that I address the matter as a simple concern whereas you utilize it as an objection. That’s the part where we disagree on.

    -“I am in delimma whatsoever. Who ever said I would defend evolutionary theory?”

    The reason I bring up the example of the past which you refused to address is not because I think you should defend darwinism but rather to show that if you were to use your objection against ID then the same objection would apply to other areas of science, from physics to biology. Along with the example I gave of the inability to observe the past, here is another one: Chance. Have you or anyone else ever observed chance? No, and yet it has become part of orthodox darwinism.

    Logical inference is a necessary pillar of science without which it would collapse to the ground. That is what I think Vividbleau is addressing in his posts. So if one were to follow your lead then a big part of modern science is in trouble.

    We can continue this for the remainder of the day if you like (doubt I will be able to continue this after today though) or we can simply agree that we disagree on the degree of the force of your objection/concern. If that’s something you think you are ok with then we’re good!

  75. above,

    Have you ever seen a mind that didn’t have a body attached create software?

    Given that you state both the body and the mind are in action when the engineer creates a program, why do you go on to assume that the mind could do it on its own? From your example it is just as valid (invalid) to say since the mind could not exist without the body (certainly no evidence of such a thing), it must be the body that does it.

  76. Vivid,

    If you insist Meyers should only make scientific claims,…

    I have never said any such thing. Rather, I have said that if Meyer claims to offer a cause known to our experience, it should indeed be known to our experience.

    science being defined “uniform and repeated experience” you should also. I have already given two claims by you that are not scientific as per your definition.

    I have not defined “scientific” at all, so I’m afraid you are again mistaken. My argument is not about what is “scientific” and what is not. Rather, my argument is about what Meyer calls “a cause known to our uniform and repeated experience”.

    I would also ask you if you frequent Darwinist sites to tell them how unscientfic their theories are? After all that is the dominant paradigm, I mean ID is small potatoes compared to Darwinism.

    I do often point out that scientists in all fields are likely to underestimate the likelihood that their theories are fundamentally incomplete; this has been famously the case in physics for example. I think the same is true of evolutionary biology.

    While you are at it would you answer my question in #61?

    (“Is it your position that only that which can be empirically confirmed through repeated observation and experience defines what is and is not scientific”)

    I am adopting Meyer’s notion of what commends his own theory as being scientific, and have no interest in submitting my own definition. Meyer’s theory fails by his own criterion.

    above,

    I’m not dismissing your concern I am merely dismissing it as an adequate argument against ID. In my very first post I stated that I too thought of that so I do acknowledge it. However, I also said that the force of such concern and whether or not it can be a valid argument against ID depends on one’s prior assumptions.

    No, it doesn’t. It’s just the facts of our experience.

    Like you said, under dualism the human being is comprised of both a material and an immaterial substance. Now, when a software engineer for example, creates FSCI for a program, which of the two parts is it that acts as the author of such FSCI? The immaterial mind of course.

    Now THAT is an ontological assumption!!! Can’t you see you are projecting onto me exactly what you are doing yourself? As far as I’m concered, it may be the immaterial mind and it may be purely physical cause – I take no stand either way on these questions!!!. It is you, and only you, who is making these assumptions and insisting that one answer (dualism) is true!

    The reason I bring up the example of the past which you refused to address is not because I think you should defend darwinism but rather to show that if you were to use your objection against ID then the same objection would apply to other areas of science, from physics to biology.

    I disagree, but I am not arguing about that here, and I don’t want to change the subject.

    Along with the example I gave of the inability to observe the past, here is another one: Chance. Have you or anyone else ever observed chance? No, and yet it has become part of orthodox darwinism.

    Also not germain to my argument (but it is confused to believe that evolutionary biologists – or anyone else – considers “chance” to be a cause, rather than a description of the independence of effects).

    We can continue this for the remainder of the day if you like (doubt I will be able to continue this after today though) or we can simply agree that we disagree on the degree of the force of your objection/concern. If that’s something you think you are ok with then we’re good.

    .

    Oh, I think we still disagree pretty fundamentally :-)

    (and zeroseven #75 – quite right)

  77. “I have not defined “scientific” at all, so I’m afraid you are again mistaken. My argument is not about what is “scientific” and what is not. Rather, my argument is about what Meyer calls “a cause known to our uniform and repeated experience”.

    Got it.

    Vivid

  78. I let the ID Theorists themselves define what scientific reasoning is all about. Here is what Stephen Meyer himself says:

    HERE

    The central argument of my book is that intelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past.

    …In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question.

    So at this point are we all in agreement here that Meyer is wrong about this?

  79. Perhaps it would be helpful to include the whole paragraph which includes the second of the “two things” which are the basis of his argument.

    “The central argument of my book is that intelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past. First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form). Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power. Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question”

    Vivid

  80. AIG (and Vivid):

    First, what we are discussing is not first life in absolute, but first life on earth in light of the observed life forms in the world around us and the record of the fossils.

    The inference from observation of dFSCI to design, based on its routinely observed cause and the known search resources challenge faced by chance-driven stochastic processes to find islands of function in the relevant configuration spaces, does not entail anything about the originators of cell-based life on earth; than that they were evidently intelligent.

    How that intelligence was based or in what form it appeared is a further and plainly separable question.

    When we move up to the level of the evident finetuning of the observed cosmos, and its resulting adaptability to C-chemistry, cell based life, then that raises and tends to warrant the inference that the cosmos too is designed. That points to something or someone beyond the cosmos that is very powerful and highly intelligent and purposeful. Something that is beyond matter as we know it.

    So, the objections about complex embodied intelligences above are revealed as resting on reasoning in a materialistic circle. Circular reasoning has always seemed entirely logical to those taken in by its assumptions.

    I suggest therefore that AIG take a look here and in the immediately following comment(in a parallel thread), to begin to understand how evolutionary materialism begins to fall apart into self-referential incoherence and amorality.

    Evolutionary materialism is inescapably self-referentially incoherent and whatever else is true, it cannot be.

    GEM of TKI

  81. “First, what we are discussing is not first life in absolute, but first life on earth in light of the observed life forms in the world around us and the record of the fossils.”

    Yes. I was going to get around to this in response to this from AIG

    “Either the intelligent thing that ID hypothesizes is a complex physical organism or it is not. If it is, then ID fails to explain the origin of complex physical organisms”

    I was not aware that ID has claimed that we can scientifically explain the origin of information. The origin of information in an absolute sense would seem to me to transcend science. Then again I am no ID theorist.

    Vivid

  82. Vivid,

    Perhaps it would be helpful to include the whole paragraph which includes the second of the “two things” which are the basis of his argument.

    (which was “Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power.”)

    Well, if we know of nothing that could account for the creation of FSCI in biology, then we ought to just say so and keep looking. That’s what research is all about – trying to figure out what might be behind all of the phenomena we don’t understand.

    So I don’t see how this is relevant to my argument at all. It remains the case the Meyer tries to tell us there is a cause known to our experience which could account for the first living cell, but he’s wrong.

    Kairos,

    First, what we are discussing is not first life in absolute, but first life on earth in light of the observed life forms in the world around us and the record of the fossils.

    Perhaps you’d like to talk about that, but Meyer is talking about “the first living cell”, period.

    The inference from observation of dFSCI to design, based on its routinely observed cause and the known search resources challenge faced by chance-driven stochastic processes to find islands of function in the relevant configuration spaces, does not entail anything about the originators of cell-based life on earth; than that they were evidently intelligent.

    I don’t understand this. If there were other living things in the universe before life came to exist on Earth, then the simplest hypothesis would be that we are the descendents of these prior life forms rather than the products of their advanced bioengineering efforts. After all, the only known cause of complex living things is biological reproduction! People (like Crick, or the Raelians) have been talking about that for a long time, but nobody pays much attention because there is no evidence that extra-terrestrial life forms ever existed, much less that their offspring came to Earth.

    So, the objections about complex embodied intelligences above are revealed as resting on reasoning in a materialistic circle. Circular reasoning has always seemed entirely logical to those taken in by its assumptions.

    Wow – you folks have a very hard time understanding that not all criticisms of ID are materialist! I am not a materialist, and I have never made an argument based on the assumption of materialism, but the only recourse you seem to be able to find when faced with my simple argument is to accuse me of materialism and reductionism! Curious.

    All in all, I’ve yet to see anyone who can refute the simple argument that I’ve made here, which is that when Meyer refers to a cause known to our uniform and repeated experience which could account for the first living cell, he is mistaken.

  83. “which was “Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power.”)

    Followed by

    “Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals”

    For the record AI I have not accused you of being a materialist.

    Vivid

  84. Vivid,

    “Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals”

    Yes – this is the just part where he’s wrong (since no causally adequate explanation exists in our uniform and repeated experience).

    For the record AI I have not accused you of being a materialist

    Quite right – thank you!

  85. AIGuy,

    I am not what you would call an ID theorist and I know there are others who are more qualified than I to dialog with you on this subject. However I do want to see this thread continue since I do not think you have received an adequate rebuttal to your objections. So in the spirit of keeping things going I will put my head on the chopping block.

    Let me summarize Meyers central argument.

    1) The activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell.

    2) He argues for this because of two things.

    a) We know from our uniform and repeated experience that intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form).

    b) No undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power.

    3) Hence ( using reason to inform the evidence) he concludes intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question.

    Your position is

    That in our uniform and repeated experience, all designers (i.e. producers of FSCI) are complex physical organisms. Thus the claim by Stephen Meyer that there is cause which is known to our uniform and repeated experience which could account for the origin of life is false (because obviously the first complex physical organism could not have been created by another complex physical organism, and no other type of intelligent agent is known in our uniform and repeated experience).

    AIGuy anything else you would like to add?

    Vivid

  86. Vivid:

    AIG is simply refusing to note that he explanation for the acts of intelligence and FSCI is not our physicality but our intelligence; as has been pointed out over and over, with adequate reasons.

    Beyond that, the root issue is not a physical one but a worldview one, as already addressed. Evolutionary materialism is inherently incoherent.

    G

  87. “AIG is simply refusing to note that he explanation for the acts of intelligence and FSCI is not our physicality but our intelligence; as has been pointed out over and over, with adequate reasons.

    KF I hate to disagree with you but I think what AIG is saying is that to say that intelligence is “non physical” is a metaphysical position not something we know scientifically.

    Vivid

  88. The conversation will probably have already passed me by, by the time this gets out of moderation, but anyway….

    KF, he has already said on a number of occasions that he is not a materialist, so what has your second para got to do with anything?

    And surely your first para is a tautology? The explanation for our acts of intelligence is our intelligence??

    And yes I agree with you Vivid, what he is simply saying is that we have no experience of intelligence/complexity – call it what you will – being produced by a non-physical entity.

  89. Hey everyone,

    Sorry I’m butting in a little late in the discussion, and I apologize but I won’t be able to hang around for long. With that said, here is my two sense.

    IMO, both sides to this discussion have a point. It is true that in our uniform and repeated experience we observe that FSCI arises from intelligence (systems utilizing foresight) and that intelligence is itself founded upon FSCI. But this is not a problem for ID Theory as aiguy seems to imply. There is no problem with intelligence requiring a foundation built upon FSCI. I have been using that understanding to argue for ID Theory for quite some time now.

    Basically, it is in our uniform and repeated experience that we observe a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence (both requiring each other), with no room for only law+chance to produce either FSCI or intelligence. The logical conclusion IMO, is simply that this places both FSCI and intelligence at a level at least as fundamental alongside matter and energy. So, the fundamental fabric of our universe consists of matter, energy, FSCI, and intelligence. This interpretation of what we observe is consistent with what both Granville and aiguy are stating and provides an excellent “diving board” into ID Theory.

    Furthermore, that interpretation also fits very well with Penrose and Hameroff’s theory of consciousness which places a type of proto-consciousness at a level at least alongside matter and energy and possibly fundamental to matter and energy.

    That’s all I’ve got for now. Education calls.

  90. Vivid,

    I am not what you would call an ID theorist and I know there are others who are more qualified than I to dialog with you on this subject. However I do want to see this thread continue since I do not think you have received an adequate rebuttal to your objections. So in the spirit of keeping things going I will put my head on the chopping block.

    I appreciate your interest, Vivid. I agree I have not received an adequate rebuttal.

    Let me summarize Meyers central argument.
    1) The activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell.
    2) He argues for this because of two things.
    a) We know from our uniform and repeated experience that intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form).
    b) No undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power.
    3) Hence ( using reason to inform the evidence) he concludes intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question.

    Yes, that is Meyer’s argument.

    Your position is

    That in our uniform and repeated experience, all designers (i.e. producers of FSCI) are complex physical organisms. Thus the claim by Stephen Meyer that there is cause which is known to our uniform and repeated experience which could account for the origin of life is false (because obviously the first complex physical organism could not have been created by another complex physical organism, and no other type of intelligent agent is known in our uniform and repeated experience).

    AIGuy anything else you would like to add?

    That’s my position exactly. It really is hard for me to imagine anyone finding anything to argue against in my position, except perhaps to say that ghost sightings or religious visions ought to count as valid observations which indicate intelligent agents needn’t have complex physical bodies. But since Meyer chooses that phrase explicitly – “repeated and uniform experience” – I really don’t think he’s relying on paranormal phenomena to make his case.

    KF: AIG is simply refusing to note that he explanation for the acts of intelligence and FSCI is not our physicality but our intelligence
    VIVID: KF I hate to disagree with you but I think what AIG is saying is that to say that intelligence is “non physical” is a metaphysical position not something we know scientifically.

    Thank you, Vivid – again, that is precisely what I’ve argued. I am not a materialist, but I don’t pretend that I can support any particular ontological stance by appeal to our uniform and repeated experience. Dualism may be true, physicalism may be true, or maybe the truth is that the ultimate nature of reality is still unknown or even unknowable. These are ancient and profound philosophical conundrums which have not yielded to scientific inquiry.

    CJYMan,

    Basically, it is in our uniform and repeated experience that we observe a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence (both requiring each other), with no room for only law+chance to produce either FSCI or intelligence.

    By saying that law+chance is incapable of producing intelligence you are saying that intelligence (mind) transcends physical causality. In other words, you are denying the metaphysics of physicalism. You may be right, and you may be wrong, but it is not a question that can be resolved by appeal to our experience.

    The logical conclusion IMO, is simply that this places both FSCI and intelligence at a level at least as fundamental alongside matter and energy. So, the fundamental fabric of our universe consists of matter, energy, FSCI, and intelligence. This interpretation of what we observe is consistent with what both Granville and aiguy are stating and provides an excellent “diving board” into ID Theory.

    Yes, of course it does. That is precisely why ID Theorists like Dembski concede that ID requires an expanded ontology. In other words, ID only makes sense if you adopt a particular metaphysical stance – one which denies physicalism.

    (As an aside, at this point most people make the mistake of complaining that evolutionary theory rests on materialism the way ID rests on non-materialism. But this isn’t true at all: Evolutionary theory is perfectly compatible not only with physicalism, but also with dualisms of all flavors as well as the various non-physicalist monisms).

    Furthermore, that interpretation also fits very well with Penrose and Hameroff’s theory of consciousness which places a type of proto-consciousness at a level at least alongside matter and energy and possibly fundamental to matter and energy.

    That’s all I’ve got for now. Education calls.

    First let me say that I’m both interested in an sympathetic to Penrose/Hameroff’s ideas (and others like them).

    The difference between what they are doing and what ID does is important, though: Penrose characterizes this fundamental proto-thought-stuff in a way that does not assume characteristics extraneous to his theory. He is not talking about a thinking, feeling, conscious being who thinks about how to build a platypus and has the wherewithall to make it (and anything else) happen. Rather, he describes a realm of platonic logic – a mathematical structuring of the fabric of reality – that could interact with particular complex physical properties of the brain to produce what humans experience as consciousness.

    Anyway, all that is fun and speculative stuff. But it is miles removed from something we know by virtue of our uniform and repeated experience!

  91. 91
    CannuckianYankee

    aiguy re: 89

    To be fair to Meyer, he is not saying that we have a uniform and repeated experience with non-physical entities, which produce information; but with physical entities (namely humans- ourselves); which produce the kind of information we also find present in DNA. This part of Meyer’s argument does not require any commitment to a metaphysical assumption at all.

    I’m not aware of where Meyer makes the duality distinction you refer to. In my understanding, having read his book, as well as having seen several interviews on video, he simply talks about designers, and how they operate, and then compares their intellectual product – designed mechanisms containing FSCI to something very similar in biology.

    So it’s not in that very argument where one must forfeit physicalism. Physicalism may need to be forfeited in the particulars of the argument – given the factors of the amount of complexity, time, as well as the lack of parsimony in current theories of abiogenesis.

    I think Meyer knows what he is doing when he essentially begins with an argument, which does not force a committal to any particular metaphysic.

    But you can’t throw out the entire argument based on a perception (a false one, I believe) that he’s interjected dualism without first understanding where he’s coming from. I realize that you don’t reject dualism per se, but that’s neither here nor there.

    It all boils down to an observable phenomenon – humans making complex things from the collected efforts of their rational thinking. Whether you believe that our ability to be rational developed through Darwinian evolution, or that it is a separate non-physical consciousness, makes little difference to the strength of his argument. We simply have experience with this, and in our experience, it is our intelligence and will of purpose, which allows us to be designers.

    We have no verifiable experience with our ability to design outside of these factors (namely via chance and necessity). In fact, we find that when we do depend on chance, we limit our ability to be precise enough to arrive at the kind of complexity required for the development of machines capable of complex tasks (and I mean machines like computers, automobiles, and others, wich depend upon precision engineering). And this is a gross understatement. If we can’t throw things together and expect them to work, why should we expect that an unseen process such as Darwinian evolution can simply throw things together and expect them to work?

    Now remove any apriori metaphysical assumptions, and Meyer has a very valid argument based on a very solid premise.

    I think your problem actually arises out of the particulars. DNA contains FSCI. How did it get there?

    This is where one is forced to examine his/her metaphysical assumptions.

  92. Vivid:

    I see your summary of AIG: I hate to disagree with you but I think what AIG is saying is that to say that intelligence is “non physical” is a metaphysical position not something we know scientifically.

    I note also his immediate agreement with your summary:

    Thank you, Vivid – again, that is precisely what I’ve argued. I am not a materialist, but I don’t pretend that I can support any particular ontological stance by appeal to our uniform and repeated experience. Dualism may be true, physicalism may be true, or maybe the truth is that the ultimate nature of reality is still unknown or even unknowable. These are ancient and profound philosophical conundrums which have not yielded to scientific inquiry.

    But, I have not said any such thing as is being asserted, that is a misreading of my remarks.

    I was simply pointing out, rather, that our mere possession of physical bodies as such is not the grounds of the intelligent behaviour of said bodies.

    It is not the chance-patterns or the mechanical necessity that we — unless we happen to be a priori extreme materialists of the self-refuting Crick or Provine sort — revert to to explain say posts in this thread, but our intelligence. And, we know on the direct implications of the vast configuration spaces involved that the letter strings that make up a post are not credibly produced by lucky noise and mechanical necessity.

    Just so, the motion of my fingers to type this is a physical, bodily act, but it is not a result of just mechanical necessity of the tendons that pull on the bones and the hands being in particular start positions by happenstance [i.e. they could just as easily have been in any other], but it is intelligently directed. As we know from direct experience and observation. Indeed, we take courses in the art of correctly positioning and moving fingers on keyboards, whether to type or to play music.

    Intelligent behaviour, in short — and on routine observation — is radically distinct from what we routinely see caused by undirected chance and/or mechanical necessity, as this post demonstrates by contrast with:

    (a) what a stuck key does: kkkkkkkkkkkkkk . . ., or

    (b) what at-random keystrokes do: fhafgwr23i3fhfceiuerkdoeuytndxhyfrtoekxbhvdoedufxslpsiehfn . . .

    Anyone who cannot or will not see the decisive difference is being blinded by his own a priori commitments.

    So, AIG is wrong, and wrong in a fundamental way; one that has been long pointed out, by Liebniz in his discussion of the analogy of the windmill.

    I excerpt, from The Monadology:

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

    In short, the organised and purposeful structure and specific functionality of a mill does not consist in the gears grinding and shafts and wheels turning by happenstance of co-location and mere mechanical necessity. The composition of organised physical parts into a complex functional whole in the shape of a wind or water driven mill is not self-explanatory, nor is it credibly explained by a tornado or the equivalent assembling it by chance. Nor, do we need to have directly observed the assembly to know that, nor do we need to have ever seen a mill beforehand to see that.

    Instead, and on RELIABLY REPEATED EMPIRICAL OBSERVATION, COMPLEX FUNCTIONALLY SPECIFIC ORGANISATION AND ASSOCIATED INFORMATION ARE THE RESULT OF INTELLIGENCE AT WORK. That is a routine fact of our experience when we look around us at the directly observed origin of complex, functionally organised objects, especially those that have in them digitally coded functionally specific complex information. That is, we are here following the method of making a well-tested inductive inference on causal factors across the observed triad, chance, mechanical necessity, and intelligence, and we are explaining like by like per reliable sign; even in cases where we did not directly observe the causal events. This is of course precisely the approach used by Lyell and Darwin when they sought to explain the remote past on analogy to directly observed causal patterns in the present; and that inescapable methodological equivalence is key to answering many objections that are made.

    We explain the fact that a heavy object if unsupported routinely falls by the mechanical necessity of gravity. We explain the face that it shows uppermost if it is a fair die by the chance circumstances that could as easily have been otherwise so that it rests from 1 to 6 in a statistically flat distribution. But, for good reason, we explain a string of 200 or so dice counting 1 to 6 in succession over and over again (or expressing a coded pattern) by intelligent organisation.

    And, we recognise intelligence not on a metaphysical a priori but on direct experience and define it by summarising that experience in a concept, similar to how we address any other major concept used to describe our world.

    Using the UD glossary, from Wiki:

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

    Further, for intelligence as just summed up to affect the material world we observe — by virtue of our intelligence that gives us conscious perception — does not imply material embodiment or constitution; but only the ability to interact with the material, i.e. that is how we observe it, from its acts. To infer to intelligence from its actions sand their observable signs closely similar to known cases of intelligence is an empirically based endeavour, not argument on a metaphysical a priori.

    Now, I am very aware that objectors tot he design inference are eager to try to turn it into a metaphysical a priori, in a de facto turnabout rhetorical tactic, as they know or should know full well that so-called methodological naturalism IS based on implicit a priori imposition of materialism, as Lewontin so directly confesses:

    To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . . .

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

    Observe the a priori, and the motive for it, which obtains even in cases where we see nominal theists who decide to “play the game of science” by the prevailing rules, on whatever excuse. Such metaphysically loaded rules are inherently unjustifiable, though, as they compromise the ability of science to be an unfettered (but intellectually and ethically responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our cosmos based on observation & experiment, inference, analysis, and logical discussion among the informed.

    That is, by injecting a materialist a priori by the back door, science as a serious pursuit of the truth about our world is compromised, and turned into the handmaiden for an evolutionary materialistic ideological agenda.

    The real, and hitehrto unmet burden of proof is for evolutionary materialists, of whatever stripe — metaphysical materialists or accommodators of so-called methodological naturalism — to provide us with directly observed cases where especially digitally coded, complex and specifically functional information and associated algorithms, codes and effecting machinery originate by chance and mechanical necessity without intelligent direction.

    Then, they will have an empirically anchored base for suggesting that the digitally coded information and associated implementing machines in the cell originated by chance and necessity without intelligent direction. Until and unless that happens, the reasonable inference from present observed patterns of causdation to similar effectsin the deep past that we did not diorectly observe being caused, is by the routinely observed cause of such dFSCI.

    Intelligent action.

    Of course, since the relevant configuration spaces are so vast for the information entities — 1,000 bits of capacity has 1.07 *10^301 possible configs, more than the square of the number of Planck time atomic states of the 10^80 or so atoms of our observed cosmos across its thermodynamically credible lifespan — we have high confidence that spontaneous undirected emergence of such codes from chance and mechanical necessity is utterly implausible [on the same grounds routinely used in statistical thermodynamics to ground the credibility of say the 2nd law of thermodynamics]; not just un-demonstrated so far.

    It is precisely because of that unmet empirical challenge that we see so much reversion to attempts to imply unjustified metaphysical a prioris on our part while suppressing challenges to the a prioris on their part. If we want to discuss a prioris, that needs to be on a level playing field, and on comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power. On those grounds the existence and action of intelligence will be a far superior answer to undirected chance plus necessity on the topic of explaining the dFSCI in say the living cell.

    That is why the turnabout tactic is what we meet, instead of either a serious inductive methodology or a level playing field discussion of comparative difficulties of metaphysical alternatives.

    In short, in our day, science has been taken ideological hostage to evolutionary materialism. Which is inherently and inescapably self-refuting.

    GEM of TKI

  93. PS: Vivid, if you want, you may look here to see how I address the issue of the mind in more details than a blog comment warrants. AIG, you may also want to look into it, starting with the implications of the Welcome to Wales thought experiment as adapted from Taylor.

    PPS: CY, well said.

  94. F/N: Excerpting the appendix 8 of my always linked note:

    ____________________

    >>
    As at April 2008, a thread at UD has drawn out an interesting link between the inference to design and the origin and nature of mind [and thence, of morality]. The heart of that connexion may be seen from an adapted form of an example by Richard Taylor:

    . . . suppose you were in a train and saw [outside the window] rocks you believe were pushed there by chance + necessity only, spelling out: WELCOME TO WALES. Would you believe the apparent message, why?

    Now, it is obviously highly improbable [per the principles of statistical thermodynamics applied to, say, a pile of rocks falling down a hill and scattering to form randomly distributed patterns]. But, it is plainly logically and physically possible for this to happen.

    So, what would follow from — per thought experiment — actually having “good reason” to believe that this is so?

    1 –> We know, immediately, that chance + necessity, acting on a pile of rocks on a hillside, can make them roll down the hillside and take up an arbitrary conformation. There thus is no in-principle reason to reject them taking up the shape: “WELCOME TO WALES” any more than any other configuration. Especially if, say, by extremely good luck we have seen the rocks fall and take up this shape for ourselves. [If that ever happens to you, though, change your travel plans and head straight for Las Vegas before your "hot streak" runs out! (But also, first check that the rocks are not made of magnetite, and that there is not a magnetic apparatus buried under the hill's apparently innocent turf! "Trust, but verify.")]

    2 –> Now, while you are packing for Vegas [having verified that the event is not a parlour trick writ large . . . ], let’s think a bit: [a] the result of the for- the- sake- of- argument stroke of good luck is an apparent message, which was [b] formed by chance + necessity only acting on matter and energy across space and time. That is, [c] it would be lucky noise at work. Let us observe, also: [d] the shape taken on by the cluster of rocks as they fall and settle is arbitrary, but [e] the meaning assigned to the apparent message is as a result of the imposition of symbolic meaning on certain glyphs that take up particular alphanumerical shapes under certain conventions. That is, it is a mental (and even social) act. One pregnant with the points that [f] language at its best refers accurately to reality, so that [g] we often trust its deliverances once we hold the source credible. [Indeed, in the original form of the example, if one believes that s/he is entering Wales on the strength of seeing such a rock arrangement, s/he would be grossly irrational to also believe the intelligible and aptly functional arrangement of rocks to have been accidental.]

    3 –> But, this brings up the key issue of credibility: should we believe the substantial contents of such an apparent message sourced in lucky noise rather than a purposeful arrangement? That is, would it be well-warranted to accept it as — here, echoing Aristotle in Metaphysics, 1011b — “saying of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not”? (That is, (i) is such an apparent message credibly a true message? Or (ii) is any observed truth in it merest coincidence?)

    4 –> The answers are obvious: (i) no, and (ii) yes. For, the adjusted example aptly illustrates how cause-effect chains tracing to mechanical necessity and chance circumstances acting on matter and energy are utterly unconnected to the issue of making logically and empirically well-warranted assertions about states of affairs in the world. For a crude but illuminating further instance, neuronal impulses are in volts and are in specific locations in the body; but the peculiarly mental aspects — meaningfulness, codes, algorithms, truth and falsehood, propositions and their entailments, etc — simply are not like that. That is, mental concepts and constructs are radically different from physical entities, interactions and signals.

    5 –> So, it is highly questionable (thus needs to be shown not merely assumed or asserted) that such radical differences could or do credibly arise from mere interaction of physical components under only the forces of chance and blind mechanical necessity. For this demonstration, however, we seek in vain: the matter is routinely assumed or asserted away, often by claiming (contrary to the relevant history and philosophical considerations) that science can only properly explain by reference in the end to such ultimately physical-material forces. Anything less is “science-stopping.”

    6 –> But in fact, in say a typical real-world cybernetic system, the physical cause-effect chains around a control loop are set up by intelligent, highly skilled designers who take advantage of and manipulate a wide range of natural regularities. As a result, the sensors, feedback, comparator, and forward path signals, codes and linkages between elements in the system are intelligently organised to cause the desired interactions and outcomes of moving observed plant behaviour closer to the targetted path in the teeth of disturbances, drift in component parameters, and noise. And, that intelligent input is not simply reducible to the happenstance of accidental collocations and interactions of physical forces, bodies and materials . . . >>
    _______________________

    AIG, these are some of the challenges that lurk on the topics you have broached. Onward, there are many more . . .

  95. AIG:

    Lastly for the moment, let us look at a slice of the cake that has in it all the ingredients, in an exchange with CJY:

    CJY: Basically, it is in our uniform and repeated experience that we observe a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence (both requiring each other), with no room for only law+chance to produce either FSCI or intelligence.

    AIG: By saying that law+chance is incapable of producing intelligence you are saying that intelligence (mind) transcends physical causality. In other words, you are denying the metaphysics of physicalism. You may be right, and you may be wrong, but it is not a question that can be resolved by appeal to our experience.

    1 –> Obviously, CJY has SAID no such thing, as the highlighted words underscore.

    2 –> CJY has instead emphasised that we reliably OBSERVE a certain routine causal pattern and sign of it at work.

    3 –> When you refer to it, this is transmuted — per your own worldview assumptions and perceptions of what others say in its light — into CY asserting an impossibility [one presumes, physical or logical or both].

    4 –> But in fact, CJY has asserted a commomplace thing in this scientific era: he summarises an observational pattern and its routine result. Namely, when we directly see FSCI being actually caused, it is routinely and only seen to result from actions that are intelligent.

    5 –> BTW, it seems that there is now a commonplace confusion about the meaning of to observe, so let’s cite Sense 1 from AmHD: “1. To be or become aware of, especially through careful and directed attention; notice,” which we can augment by adding in measurements and action of instruments that extend our senses. Observations produce relevant credible facts, which we then infer to best explanation to account for.

    6 –> So, you have erected and knocked over a metaphysical strawman, instead of addressing the empirical fact of our routine observation on the source of FSCI.

    7 –> Your proper challenge is to address instead the observable empirical connexion between intelligence as acting cause and FSCI as a characteristic sign of it.

    8 –> Show that there are cases where 1,000 or more bits worth of functionally specific coded information comes about by undirected chance and mechanical necessity only [remember, GAs are intelligently designed constrained searches in islands of function] and you have an adequate answer that empirically rebuts the empirical claim that FSCI is per observation reliably the product of intelligence.

    9 –> But the root of that challenge is a thermodynamics issue, as we know on both experience and analysis that when contingency spaces explode beyond astronomical size [as the 1,000 bit threshold guarantees] undirected trial and error by happenstance configurations and mechanical necessity are hopelessly inadequate mechanisms for finding islands of function. (cf here.)

    10 –> So, you need to address what was actually said, not what you substituted for it to your rhetorical advantage.

    ___________

    GEM of TKI

  96. CannuckianYankee,

    To be fair to Meyer, he is not saying that we have a uniform and repeated experience with non-physical entities, which produce information; but with physical entities (namely humans- ourselves); which produce the kind of information we also find present in DNA. This part of Meyer’s argument does not require any commitment to a metaphysical assumption at all.

    Well that’s the point exactly. It really is this bit of semantic sleight-of-hand employed by ID that is the basis of my objection. Yes, human beings build complicated machines, and that fact is very much known to our experience. But Meyer (and ID in general) replaces “human beings” with “intelligent agents” (a term from philosophy, not science) and pretends there is this whole class of things known to our experience that can build machines, and humans are just one member of that class.

    All I’m doing is pointing out that there is no such class of things. Human beings (and perhaps other living animals) are the only thing known to our experience that can build machines. Thinking observably requires the operation of a complex physical mechanism (and this is true whether not it also requires interaction with immaterial mind-stuff). To imagine something could exist prior to life (i.e. that didn’t have a complex physical body) which could also think is an unsupported speculation that is contrary to our uniform and repeated experience. It may be true of course, but it is not known to our experience.

    I’m not aware of where Meyer makes the duality distinction you refer to. In my understanding, having read his book, as well as having seen several interviews on video, he simply talks about designers, and how they operate, and then compares their intellectual product – designed mechanisms containing FSCI to something very similar in biology.

    Here the equivocation is on the word “designers” rather than “intelligent agents”. Same thing.

    It all boils down to an observable phenomenon – humans making complex things from the collected efforts of their rational thinking. Whether you believe that our ability to be rational developed through Darwinian evolution, or that it is a separate non-physical consciousness, makes little difference to the strength of his argument.

    In fact I believe neither of these things – the ID debate is chock-full of these false dichotomies! (Like Penrose I believe that physics is tied to mentality in a way we don’t understand, but that the human mind and consciousness is quite specific to the structure of the human brain; and I also believe that the brain’s structure emerged according to processes we do not understand, not just Darwinian evolution).

    But it is quite obviously central to Meyer’s argument that his metaphysics is right, and mind can exist independently of complex mechanism. That’s his philosophical stance that he wrongly presents as a truth confirmed by experience.

    We simply have experience with this, and in our experience, it is our intelligence and will of purpose, which allows us to be designers.

    But once again you are making a statement that is metaphysical. Most neuroscientists believe that “intelligence” and “will of purpose” is nothing more than the action of neurochemistry. You already know that I am not taking that position myself, and I remind us all that we have no scientific way of resolving this ancient puzzle. So if you and Meyer are wrong and “will of purpose” is nothing but the action of physical mechanism, then without physical mechanism there can be no designer.

    We have no verifiable experience with our ability to design outside of these factors (namely via chance and necessity).

    And this is just another metaphysical claim. You may be right, but you may be wrong, and nobody knows the answer. Perhaps neuroscientists are correct when they say that our thinking proceeds according physical processes (chance+necessity) in our brains.

    If we can’t throw things together and expect them to work, why should we expect that an unseen process such as Darwinian evolution can simply throw things together and expect them to work?

    I don’t want to discuss Darwinian evolution here – I’m not defending evolutionary theory.

    Now remove any apriori metaphysical assumptions, and Meyer has a very valid argument based on a very solid premise.

    Without a priori metaphysical assumptions, Meyer makes a claim that is utterly unsupportable: Something that was not itself a complex living organism could somehow manage to perceive and process information (and act upon the world to build things) like a living, physical human being can.

    I think your problem actually arises out of the particulars. DNA contains FSCI. How did it get there?

    As I said, I don’t know. But Meyer doesn’t either! (none of us do of course)

    KF,

    I was simply pointing out, rather, that our mere possession of physical bodies as such is not the grounds of the intelligent behaviour of said bodies.

    So you say, but this is a metaphysical claim that can’t be settled by appeal to experience. If you disagree, please tell us what sort of experiment we can conduct to settle the matter (you will become very famous if you can do that!)

    It is not the chance-patterns or the mechanical necessity that we — unless we happen to be a priori extreme materialists…

    And on and on, KF. Maybe dualism is true, or physicalism, or any of dozens of flavors of metaphysical positions on the mind/body problem is true… I don’t know which is true. You think you know what is true, and you might be right, but there is nothing we observe in our uniform and repeated experience that will answer the question.

    You insist that your metaphysics is true, while I say maybe you are right and maybe you are wrong. You are the one who is committed to a specific a priori metaphysical stance, not me. Meyer is also committed to the same metaphysics that you are.

    So the right thing for you and Meyer to do is to own up to your committments and argue for them! You want to argue that mind is fundamentally more than (and ontologically distinct from) physical cause – that’s fine. You can join all of the philosophers who have been arguing this position for the past five thousand years or so… and against all of the philosophers who have been arguing the opposite the whole time! Today there are plenty of philosophers who argue on your side (dualism, basically) – and there are even more philosophers who argue the contrary.

    That’s all good. Just don’t pretend that the answer is known to our uniform and repeated experience the way Meyer does!

  97. AIG:

    Not at all.

    Your insinuation of semantic sleight of hand is out of order, patently rude, and beyond the pale of civil discussion, especially in this context.

    You have had more than enough evidence to see why there is an empirically based inference from empirically grounded sign to signified action of design, and without a priori metaphysical assumption.

    The nature of the implied designer — on grounds that designs on experience we have of and as designers come from designers — is a further and separable issue.

    In particular, ans as has been discussed at length at UD and elsewhere ever since the foundational works of ID in the 1980s, inferred design of life on earth standing by itself has not further direct implication that the designer — individual or collective — is in or out of the cosmos.

    In fact where ID inferences have a more profound pointer in such a direction is another issue: inferred design of the observed universe on its finetuned functional specificity.

    Even there the design inference is to DESIGN, not designer. It is the context of the design that would point beyond he observed cosmos to a powerful, intelligent extra-cosmic designer.

    GEM of TKI

  98. KF,

    Your insinuation of semantic sleight of hand is out of order, patently rude, and beyond the pale of civil discussion, especially in this context.

    I certainly don’t mean to be rude, much less patently so. Forgive me if I put the charge indelicately. Would it be beyond the pale of civil discourse to suggest that some ID authors may be unintentionally equivocating on the meaning of the term “designer”?

    You have had more than enough evidence to see why there is an empirically based inference from empirically grounded sign to signified action of design, and without a priori metaphysical assumption.

    May I point out that you are using the term “design” here without specifically noting if you are referring to the actions of a complex physical organism? If so, then you are talking about something in our experience, but also something that logically could not be responsible for creating the first complex physical organisms. If not, then you are talking about something that is unknown to our experience.

    The nature of the implied designer — on grounds that designs on experience we have of and as designers come from designers — is a further and separable issue.

    I would submit that by the law of the excluded middle, ID’s designer must either be a complex living organism or not. I merely point out that neither possibility represents a known cause which could account for the creation of the first complex living organism.

  99. aiguy:
    “Most neuroscientists believe that “intelligence” and “will of purpose” is nothing more than the action of neurochemistry. You already know that I am not taking that position myself, and I remind us all that we have no scientific way of resolving this ancient puzzle. So if you and Meyer are wrong and “will of purpose” is nothing but the action of physical mechanism, then without physical mechanism there can be no designer.”

    1. If Penrose and Hameroff’s theory — the most coherent one out there with an actual theoretical, testable, and potentially falisifiable construct — about consciousness is correct, then this brings the status of the study of consciousness out of philosophy and into science while at the same time placing consciousness at a level at least as fundamental as matter and energy.

    2. I’ve already explained how even though our uniform and repeated experience shows physical complexity to be associated with consciousness (possibly required for the expression of consciousness) this provides no problem for ID Theory as Meyers argues for it based on uniform and repeated observations. The only addition we need to realize is that in our repeated and uniform experience we observe a closed loop from intelligence to FSCI and back to intelligence.

    And since, neither FSCI nor intelligence are defined by law (as mathematical descriptions of regular patterns) nor best explained by chance (based on correlations and improbabilities required for FSCI and intelligence) then we have a closed causal loop between FSCI and intelligence, each requiring the other, with no room for chance and law *on their own* to account for either. Furthermore, we have no repeated and uniform observations associated with only law+chance generating either FSCI or intelligence.

    aiguy:
    “Just don’t pretend that the answer is known to our uniform and repeated experience the way Meyer does!”

    Eh?!?!?! You’ve never used your foresight (intelligence) to produce FSCI? Is there any foresight in these comments of yours?

    aiguy:
    “May I point out that you are using the term “design” here without specifically noting if you are referring to the actions of a complex physical organism? If so, then you are talking about something in our experience, but also something that logically could not be responsible for creating the first complex physical organisms.”

    That is completely correct, and the simple resolution is to identify the fact, from a scientific vantage point, that life may not be the *first* complex physical organism. The universe itself may be a complex physical organism and if Penrose and Hameroff are correct, may contain a type of proto-consciousness, detectable through the mathematics and experiments that would support their theory. However, this does nothing to detract from what we *do* regularly experience — a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence. Thus, FSCI requires intelligence and intellgience requires FSCI. The two can not exist without each other — akin to the relationship between matter and energy — and neither FSCI nor intelligence are defined purely by law+chance without reference to FSCI or intelligence.

    aiguy:
    “I merely point out that neither possibility represents a known cause which could account for the creation of the first complex living organism.”

    The first living thing is the first occasion of a self-replicating computational machine within our universe (not including the universe itself — read Seth Lloyd and Lee Smolin). As such, it can be defined in terms of FSCI. This brings us back to the question: “In our repeated and uniform experience, what generates FSCI?” I don’t see how you can say that there is no known cause, accessible to our uniform and repeated experience, regardless of whether that known cause (foresight utilizing system) is above natural law or not from either a scientific or a metaphysical perspective.

  100. aiguy:
    “May I point out that you are using the term “design” here without specifically noting if you are referring to the actions of a complex physical organism? If so, then you are talking about something in our experience, but also something that logically could not be responsible for creating the first complex physical organisms. If not, then you are talking about something that is unknown to our experience.”

    One other note. That quote of yours above is akin to stating that we can’t discuss the Big Bang, or past evolution as a scientific hypothesis because then we would be talking about something that is unknown to our experience. I’ve never experienced anything remotely akin to either the Big Bang or past evolution. Have you or anyone else? Yet, we have all experienced, first hand, the generation of FSCI when we write comments like this. Thus, the connection between FSCI and foresight (regardless of the mode of operation of whatever produces foresight) is based on stronger evidence than anything that the Big Bang or past evolution from mud to consciousness or anything we can’t presently experience is based on.

  101. KF,

    1. If Penrose and Hameroff’s theory — the most coherent one out there with an actual theoretical, testable, and potentially falisifiable construct — about consciousness is correct, then this brings the status of the study of consciousness out of philosophy and into science while at the same time placing consciousness at a level at least as fundamental as matter and energy.

    Their theory is interesting but entirely speculative, and it is perhaps testable but not yet tested. Moreover, it most certainly does NOT make phenomenological consciousness (i.e. as experienced by humans) at a fundamental ontological level. Rather, it posits a “realm of universal platonic logic” which interacts with brain mechanisms to produce consciousness in the human mind.

    2. I’ve already explained how even though our uniform and repeated experience shows physical complexity to be associated with consciousness…

    You may continue to explain things, but forgive me if I do not take your explanations to be settled science. As far as most people are concerned, the mind/body problem has not yet been resolved by appeal to empirical evidence, and the philosophers who continue to debate these issues (as they have been for thousands of years) would be quite surprised to be informed that someone has figured it all out scientifically. Again, if you could actually explain how to empirically verify that mentality transcends physical cause you would be a very, very famous person.

    That is completely correct, and the simple resolution is to identify the fact, from a scientific vantage point, that life may not be the *first* complex physical organism. The universe itself may be a complex physical organism and if Penrose and Hameroff are correct, may contain a type of proto-consciousness, detectable through the mathematics and experiments that would support their theory.

    All very fine philosophical speculations, KF. These ideas are fun and interesting to talk about. None of this has anything to do with what we can know according to our uniform and repeated experience.

    However, this does nothing to detract from what we *do* regularly experience — a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence. Thus, FSCI requires intelligence and intellgience requires FSCI. The two can not exist without each other — akin to the relationship between matter and energy — and neither FSCI nor intelligence are defined purely by law+chance without reference to FSCI or intelligence.

    And again and again you claim to know that intelligence cannot arise from physical cause, which is a metaphysical claim that cannot be demonstrated within our uniform and repeated experience. This must be the ninth time we’ve gone through this particular exchange.

    The first living thing is the first occasion of a self-replicating computational machine within our universe (not including the universe itself — read Seth Lloyd and Lee Smolin). As such, it can be defined in terms of FSCI. This brings us back to the question: “In our repeated and uniform experience, what generates FSCI?”

    In our uniform and repeated experience, only complex physical organisms generate FSCI.

    I don’t see how you can say that there is no known cause, accessible to our uniform and repeated experience, regardless of whether that known cause (foresight utilizing system) is above natural law or not from either a scientific or a metaphysical perspective.

    I take no stand on whether or not the generation of FSCI requires faculties that transcend physical cause. My position is that the answer to that question is currently not amenable to scientific inquiry.

    If the designer of ID is a living thing (and I mean a physical entity rich in FSCI) then obviously it cannot be said to be the creator of the original living things.

    If the designer of ID is not a living thing, then obviously it cannot be said to be known to our repeated and uniform experience.

    There are no other possibilities, so ID fails to offer a cause which is capable of accounting for the creation of the original living things and is also known to our experience.

    CJYMan,

    One other note. That quote of yours above is akin to stating that we can’t discuss the Big Bang, or past evolution as a scientific hypothesis because then we would be talking about something that is unknown to our experience.

    Actually it is Meyer who invokes this concept of “uniform and repeated experience” – but he got it from Darwin himself. Meyer agrees with Darwin that in order to investigate historical events we must rely on our uniform and repeated experience of the present.

    Cosmologists appeal to our experience of things in the present – such as the red shift and cosmic background radiation – in their quest to understand the history of the universe. Maybe they’re wrong in their analysis, but their evidence is well known to our uniform and repeated experience.

    Likewise, Darwin looked at three things in our experience that we can all clearly observe: variation, heredity, and competition. He may have been wrong to argue that these three things account for biological complexity (I think he was wrong) but again the causes he posits are well known to our experience.

    Meyer looks at “intelligence” as something we can all observe, but there is where his mistake occurs. We do not observe “intelligence” to be a thing-in-itself acting on the world; we observe instead that human beings (and other living organisms) act on the world, and we describe their abilities as “intelligence”. Some people (metaphysical dualists) believe that “intelligence” (or “mind” or “res cogitans”) exists as a thing-in-the-world apart from physical reality, but that is not a fact of our experience. Rather, it is a metaphysical speculation. What we know from our experience is that physical living things can create FSCI.

    I’ve never experienced anything remotely akin to either the Big Bang or past evolution. Have you or anyone else? Yet, we have all experienced, first hand, the generation of FSCI when we write comments like this. Thus, the connection between FSCI and foresight (regardless of the mode of operation of whatever produces foresight) is based on stronger evidence than anything that the Big Bang or past evolution from mud to consciousness or anything we can’t presently experience is based on.

    We experience conscious awareness of our “foresight”. It may be that this is the result of neural processes in our brains that proceed according to the laws of physics. Or, it may be that something else (res cogitans? Penrose’s universal realm of Platonic logic? who knows!) is involved. It may be that our consciousness causes our ability to think, or it is our ability to think, or it may be that our consciousness is our perception of the physical processes in our brain which is what thought really is.

    I have been thinking about these questions my entire long life, and I do not know the answers, and nobody else does either. People believe they know the answer, but if so they really haven’t thought about the questions very much. Philosophers know that these questions do not have answers in our experience. Maybe someday we will answer them, but not yet. People like Penrose and Wegner and Libet and Stapp and many others are trying very hard to bring empirical science to bear on these ancient questions, and I anxiously await progress. Until then, I will point out that we do not know.

    And so I do not discount ID because of my ideology or my metaphysics. Rather, I point out that it rests on metaphysical assumptions that may or may not be true, but certainly cannot fairly be said to be known to our experience, as Meyer and other ID advocates claim.

  102. aiguy,

    Again, if you could actually explain how to empirically verify that mentality transcends physical cause you would be a very, very famous person.

    If I’m interpreting you right, your prime criticism of intelligent design is that it cannot help but rest on metaphysical speculations.

    You further argue that A) Metaphysical speculations cannot be decided by science, and therefore any explanations which rely on this or that particular metaphysical premise is not scientific, and B) That ID specifically argues to a disembodied and immaterial agent.

    Am I getting you right? If not, by all means, clarify. It’s been a long thread – lots of twists and turns to throw me off.

  103. But the root of that challenge is a thermodynamics issue, as we know on both experience and analysis that when contingency spaces explode beyond astronomical size [as the 1,000 bit threshold guarantees] undirected trial and error by happenstance configurations and mechanical necessity are hopelessly inadequate mechanisms for finding islands of function.

    I keep hearing about “islands of function” as if this is an established fact rather than a research topic.

    It doesn’t seem to have any ties to reality at all, in the world of biology.

    http://www.plospathogens.org/a.....at.1001005

  104. Petrushka:

    Reflect on why you cannot keep on substituting letters in a message or parts in a car at random, and on why people fear exposure to mutation-inducing radiation.

    In the case of metabolising, self-replicating cell based life, you need all not some of the key elements of a von Neumann replicator, and they have to be matched to each other, i.e there is a metaphorical island of coordinated function in the space of possible configurations — some variation will work, but not beyond a rather restricted limit:

    (i) an underlying storable code to record the required information to create not only (a) the primary functional machine [[here, a Turing-type “universal computer”] but also (b) the self-replicating facility; and, that (c) can express step by step finite procedures for using the facility;

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

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

    (iv) position-arm implementing machines with “tool tips” controlled by the tape reader and used to carry out the action-steps for the specified replication (including replication of the constructor itself); backed up by

    (v) either:

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

    (2) associated “metabolic” machines carrying out activities that as a part of their function, can provide required specific materials/parts and forms of energy for the replication facility, by using the generic resources in the surrounding environment.

    Islands is a metaphorical, descriptive term, but it speaks to a pretty serious reality, just as how we see talk of configuration and phase spaces etc. which is equally metaphorical.

    _____________

    AIG:

    Some of your above stuff is misdirected to me.

    Beyond that, kindly note that the empirical ladder of inferences from patterns of cause to the empirically reliable signs of design has been pointed out to you and others more than adequately.

    You may insist on projecting a claimed metaphysical a priori all you want, but that simply underscores that you are exerting a fixed notion that makes up a convenient, caricatured strawman.

    Recall, the design inference is from empirical sign to its signified, design; on induction from well known patterns of cause and their resulting characteristics. No a priori commitment to the nature of a designer is involved in such an inference save that design is viewed as possible and designers are held to act purposefully and intelligently on empirically observable objects thus leaving markers of design as a cause; by way of definition based on observed exemplars.

    Sorry, enough has already been said to provide correction for those willing to listen, and I am not in the business of trying to correct fixed notions. And, your insinuations above are still very much out of order, lacing the strawman with an ad hominem; as I already observed.

    What I will say is that if you insist on such an ad hominem laced strawman caricature of design theory, you will in the end only discredit yourself and mislead those who look to you for intellectual leadership.

    __________

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  105. If I’m interpreting you right, your prime criticism of intelligent design is that it cannot help but rest on metaphysical speculations.

    You further argue that A) Metaphysical speculations cannot be decided by science, and therefore any explanations which rely on this or that particular metaphysical premise is not scientific, and B) That ID specifically argues to a disembodied and immaterial agent

    Sounds like a fair summary of what I might say if I could write as well as aig.

    The search for the absolute beginning of life might lead to some history that predates earth, but the search for a physical designer having less than omniscience is just pushing the problem back.

    And the same large numbers that ID proponents toss out to argue that evolution can’t find gradients in fitness space are the same large numbers that make design impossible by any means other than evolution.

    Chemistry is and always will be faster than computation. Protein folding will always be faster than simulations of folding.

    Just as weather and climate will always unfold faster than simulations.

  106. Hi null,

    If I’m interpreting you right, your prime criticism of intelligent design is that it cannot help but rest on metaphysical speculations.

    No, I argue that Stephen Meyer’s claim that ID offers a cause that is known to our uniform and repeated experience as the explanation for the first living things is untrue.

    You further argue that A) Metaphysical speculations cannot be decided by science,

    No, I argue that many metaphysical problems have not (yet) been decided by science. The mind/body problem is one of these (i.e. if mentality transcends physical cause, or if something which did not itself have a complex physical body could still have consciousness and interact with the world).

    …and therefore any explanations which rely on this or that particular metaphysical premise is not scientific,

    No, I haven’t argued about what is scientific and what isn’t. I am using Stephen Meyer’s criterion for what is scientific – that any inferred cause must be known to our repeated and uniform experience.

    …and B) That ID specifically argues to a disembodied and immaterial agent.

    No, I argue that ID posits a cause of life which must either itself be a complex physical life form or not (so much is true by the excluded middle). Further, I argue that if ID’s designer is a complex physical life form, then Meyer is wrong to claim that ID explains how the first complex physical life forms came to exist. And if ID’s designer is not a complex physical life form, then the cause ID posits is clearly not known to our uniform and repeated experience.

    QED

  107. Reflect on why you cannot keep on substituting letters in a message or parts in a car at random, and on why people fear exposure to mutation-inducing radiation.

    Your objections are specifically addressed by the article, with some eloquence (and some actual data).

  108. PS: AIG, on a specific correction. Kindly observe that what I and many others have said is that intelligence causes things that are distinct from the causal patterns of undirected chance and mechanical necessity.

    In that observation, I am summarising something very commonly encountered: necessity leads to natural regularities, chance to stochastic distributions and intelligence often — though not necessarily — leads to functionally specific complex organisation and information that move so far away form the bulk of statistical norms that they are recognisable as purposeful; and/or to other signs of intelligence — which has nothing to do with the actual possible natures of intelligence [and if you would have paused to examine my discussion of the Derek Smith model in the always linked before commenting, you would see that I am in fact open to all sorts of ultimate natures of intelligences: including both software/electronic AND spiritual . . . ].

    I would appreciate it if you would kindly refrain from putting words that do not belong there, in my mouth.

  109. AIG:

    You are again distorting, I am afraid.

    There is a routine experience with design by intelligence which is a known causal pattern.

    And, to infer to design on signs of design is an inference within the empirical.

    Further, Inference to a designed origin of cell based life on earth, as was already pointed out, is not inference onthe ultimate origin of life.

    GEM of TKI

  110. Petrushka:

    I will be just as terse: the link, on RNA viri, is utterly irrelevant to the phenomenon whereby in a given environment only a certain fairly narrow range of tolerance is viable. That holds for cars, for text and for mutagenic radiation alike.

    GEM of TKI

  111. I will be just as terse: the link, on RNA viri, is utterly irrelevant to the phenomenon whereby in a given environment only a certain fairly narrow range of tolerance is viable.

    I suppose that is why all the ID journals die after a couple of postings. ID is allergic to actual research and actual data.

    Too bad, because this article directly addresses genetic entropy, even suggests it as a possible route to treating viral infections.

    http://www.plospathogens.org/a.....at.1001005

    But despite all your bloviating, the issue of fitness space and its alleged sparseness will be settled by research, not by armchair philosophising.

  112. It’s a fun article. It addresses genetic entropy in actual biologically reproducing things, and compares observed population genetics to simulations.

    It discusses the effects of changing mutation rates in real biological replicators.

    Worth at least 3228 words of assertions not based on data.

  113. aiguy,

    Thanks for the clarifications.

    No, I argue that ID posits a cause of life which must either itself be a complex physical life form or not (so much is true by the excluded middle). Further, I argue that if ID’s designer is a complex physical life form, then Meyer is wrong to claim that ID explains how the first complex physical life forms came to exist. And if ID’s designer is not a complex physical life form, then the cause ID posits is clearly not known to our uniform and repeated experience.

    Some comments.

    1) Say Meyer replies, “Sure, let’s accept your criticisms for the sake of argument. In that case if it’s determined life arose on earth, then a complex physical life form is best inferred as the cause of that arising. Even accepting your criticisms, the strong ID inference still goes through. Research continues: Maybe life has been present from the Big Bang, maybe the Big Bang itself was created by a complex physical life form. That’s an area for further research.”

    What would your reply be?

    2) You say…

    No, I argue that many metaphysical problems have not (yet) been decided by science. The mind/body problem is one of these (i.e. if mentality transcends physical cause, or if something which did not itself have a complex physical body could still have consciousness and interact with the world).

    But among those “metaphysical problems science has not decided yet” would be whether anything “physical” really exists – whether idealistic monism is right, whether the universe is at base physical or not, etc. Just yesterday I was reading yet more claims that our universe is at heart information, not “material”.

    In other words, if you’re arguing that basing an idea on a contestable metaphysical concept makes the idea illicit scientifically, you’re not just wiping out ID. You’re wiping out one hell of a lot of science (well, “science”) in the process. Unless you have a double standard, which I doubt.

  114. null,

    Say Meyer replies, “Sure, let’s accept your criticisms for the sake of argument. In that case if it’s determined life arose on earth, then a complex physical life form is best inferred as the cause of that arising. Even accepting your criticisms, the strong ID inference still goes through. Research continues: Maybe life has been present from the Big Bang, maybe the Big Bang itself was created by a complex physical life form. That’s an area for further research.”

    What would your reply be?

    In that case, I would say

    1) Contrary to Meyer’s claims, his theory then fails to explain the origin of FSCI, or the origin of the first living cell, because the cause he is positing already contains FSCI and is already a life form.

    2) The theory that life on Earth comes from other life forms has been around for a long time, but has never generated much interest, mainly because we have no evidence that extra-terrestrial life forms have ever existed.

    3) Once Meyer posits the existence of life forms which pre-existed life on Earth, the most parsimonious explanation for life on Earth would be that we are the descendents of these prior life forms rather than the products of their advanced engineering efforts. After all, the only cause of complex life forms known in our experience is biological reproduction.

    So all in all, if that was Meyer’s response, I would say it would leave his theory without any adherents at all.

    But among those “metaphysical problems science has not decided yet” would be whether anything “physical” really exists – whether idealistic monism is right, whether the universe is at base physical or not, etc. Just yesterday I was reading yet more claims that our universe is at heart information, not “material”.

    In other words, if you’re arguing that basing an idea on a contestable metaphysical concept makes the idea illicit scientifically, you’re not just wiping out ID. You’re wiping out one hell of a lot of science (well, “science”) in the process. Unless you have a double standard, which I doubt.

    Once again I remind you that I am not proposing any particular criterion for what is scientific and what is not. Rather, I am adopting the criterion proposed by Meyer. Meyer does not question whether or not an objective material reality exists and which we can study, and neither do I.

  115. aiguy,

    1) Contrary to Meyer’s claims, his theory then fails to explain the origin of FSCI, or the origin of the first living cell, because the cause he is positing already contains FSCI and is already a life form.

    My hypothetical reply from Meyer takes that into account – it was admitting expressly that an origin for all FCSI in total was not being offered, but an origin for FCSI on earth. So this is uninteresting.

    2) The theory that life on Earth comes from other life forms has been around for a long time, but has never generated much interest, mainly because we have no evidence that extra-terrestrial life forms have ever existed.

    No evidence? That’s news to the panspermia crowd, the Bostrom crowd, and others. Not to mention, Meyer’s modified argument would arguably count as a strong inference itself if it’s claimed that life originated on earth – if that’s the case, we know of one and only one thing that can do the job.

    3) Once Meyer posits the existence of life forms which pre-existed life on Earth, the most parsimonious explanation for life on Earth would be that we are the descendents of these prior life forms rather than the products of their advanced engineering efforts. After all, the only cause of complex life forms known in our experience is biological reproduction.

    Sure thing, you can go the panspermia route – that’s entirely on the table. But that pushes the question back to the Big Bang. And a strong inference that life in some form has been present from the Big Bang onward is one hell of a thing.

    Not to mention that your “only cause of complex life forms” claim runs into serious trouble the moment life is created in the laboratory, or arguably the moment a proper simulation of life is made. Either development would bolster the modified view even further.

    Even if your claims are accepted for the sake of argument, Meyer’s arguments still have force. Speculative talk about how many adherents are left is uninteresting (If it was, then Meyer wins by default – ID in the broad sense has the numerical adherents.)

  116. Petrushka:

    You will first kindly observe that the issue of islands of function — i.e. specificity of function on closely matched parts and/or on particular codes in a particular context — so that chance perturbation soon enough disrupts function, is logically independent of and causally prior to the concept of genetic entropy.

    Though, GE builds on the implications of islands of function:

    organisms reproduce whole individuals, in a context where the majority of mutations are deleterious or neutral; so across generations, the cumulative impact is to add more and more noise-burden to the genome, leading to breakdown of function and extinction.

    That is GE builds on the well-known point that as signal to noise ratio falls, communication breaks down; in a context where genetic information is functional in the information systems of the cell.

    Communication across generations by genetic transmission is communication, and it is in fact true that beneficial mutations are rare; indeed, beneficial mutations of the order required to innovate a novel body plan HAVE NEVER BEEN OBSERVED.

    This is related to the observation that functional specificity and integrated organisation comes in specific zones of the relevant configuration space, but it is not equivalent to it.

    Now, you have played the old game of hurling the elephant, citing a paper as a whole by link and title as though it is a refutation to a cluster of key ideas. When I have pointed to the tangency of the paper to the issue , you have then resorted to ad hominems.

    Let me observe a few points in response:

    1 –> Viri are dependent on and thus causally derivative of already existing and self-replicating life forms, but

    2 –> we are dealing first with the origin of the first such forms [requiring 100_ k bases], then the production of novel integrated and embryologically feasible body ploans requiring leaps in excess of 10 mn bases; dozens of times over.

    3 –> So, extreme extrapolations from viri and their impacts on living forms,regardless of “eloquence” [a euphemism for rhetoric] are simply irrelevant and tangential.

    4 –> On looking into the paper, one soon finds that the discussion is on extrapolating fitness functions as though they spread across the configuration space of say a genome of 1 Million bases as a whole (typical of a simple unicellular organism).

    5 –> But such a space has 9.8 *10^602,059 cells.

    6 –> It is blatantly obvious that the vast majority of such a space is non-functional [just try out the at-random frequency of stop codons, where 3 of 64 codes mean stop . . . function critically depends on stops being in the right place, i.e. the issue of algorithmic halting -- which is directly tied to empirical knowledge not armchair philosophizing or bloviating -- utterly ad hominem loaded and uncivil language], i.e.

    7 –> the figures in question in the paper plainly focussed on islands of existing function near the genomes of already existing organisms. Yes, viri can manipulate organisms, but they are thus varying near the genomic space location of the organism.

    8 –> For instance right in the abstract we can see:

    “diversity [of RNA viri] allows a viral population to rapidly adapt to dynamic environments and evolve resistance to vaccines and antiviral drugs. For the last 30 years, quasispecies theory has provided a population-based framework for understanding RNA viral evolution.”

    9 –> left out of the reckoning: viri work by living off existing cells, and so the viral evolution is on something that is a dependent quasi-organism [are viri alive in any meaningful sense, beyond being rogue programs in nature?], largely isolated from the challenge of getting to and sustaining a self-replicating metabolising entity.

    9 –> So, the entire discussion is tangential at best, and is obviously part of the well known darwinist rhetorical tactic of red herrings drawn away to strawmen soaked in ad hominems ignited to confuse, cloud, poison and polarise the atmosphere, as can already be seen from the loaded language you are resorting to.

    10 –> Going deeper we see subtle equivocations of key terms playing a key role:

    The genetic organization of populations is often depicted using the concept of sequence space, a geometric representation of all possible sequences where physical distance reflects genetic similarity. For example, a given viral genome will undergo replication and generate hundreds of progeny that differ at roughly one position (Figure 1). Subsequent rounds of replication will generate a more complex mutant distribution with variants lying farther away from each other in sequence space. This ensemble of mutants forms a “cloud” of variants, or quasispecies, in which mutation generates a swarm of candidate genomes that is pruned by natural selection.

    11 –> Whoa there. Viri are NOT self-replicating, they work by hijacking existing functional organisms, and in so doing they depend on the fact that something is stabilising the DNA-based systems of the living cells — error correcting mechanisms and pretty harsh constraints on viability with modest variation.

    12 –> That is, precisely the islands of function that you wish to dismiss. And, we can note how “clouds” is fairly similar to islands, but evades the issue of first having to get to thresholds of initial function on the beaches before climbing by variation and selection culling forces to reach optimal function.

    13 –> It is therefore no surprise to see that the discussion then functions on starting from an island of function, completely missing the key issue of getting to such islands from arbitrary start-points, first in Darwin’s warm pond, then from a unicellular ancestor that needs to move to multiple integrated body plans:

    Viral populations evolve within a fitness landscape where the “ground level” is a representation of the range of genotypes in sequence space. The “altitude” at any given location is the fitness associated with that particular genotype. The environment and its selective pressures determine the contours of the corresponding landscape, and adaptation to an environment involves a mutational walk from one point in the fitness landscape to another (Figure 2A). In quasispecies theory, a network of mutationally coupled variants will span the corresponding peaks and valleys of the fitness landscape. A fast replicating population well suited to a given environment will inhabit a high and narrow peak in the fitness landscape, while a less fit but more genetically diverse population will occupy a lower, broader one.

    14 –> This is of course precisely the same idea as the island of function, but it falls into circularity by reasoning from the island, instead of to it in the context of the actual broader config space dominated by the sea of non-function.

    15 –> Thus, the key question is being begged again and again.

    16 –> When it comes to genetic entropy issues [a secondary point], the article profits by focussing not on metabolising, self-replicating organisms, but on quasi-organisms that depend on and hijack species that are far more tightly constrained.

    ___________

    One could go on and on; but the point should already be clear enough to the open-minded onlooker.

    Wheel and tun and get it right and come again (but lose the loaded language and ad hominems) . . .

    GEM of TKI

  117. CJYman:
    “2. I’ve already explained how even though our uniform and repeated experience shows physical complexity to be associated with consciousness…”

    aiguy:
    “You may continue to explain things, but forgive me if I do not take your explanations to be settled science.”

    Aiguy, I just took your argument as granted and then argued that even if you are correct re: our uniform and repeated experience as it pertains to the relation between FSCI and intelligence, ID Theory does not end up lacking in any way at all. But apparently you completely missed that twice now.

    IOW, you were the one who did the explanation of the association that I am referring to and I merely explained how that association does not negate ID Theory as extrapolated by Meyers. It appears to me that you aren’t really reading what I’m saying.

    aiguy:
    “As far as most people are concerned, the mind/body problem has not yet been resolved by appeal to empirical evidence, and the philosophers who continue to debate these issues (as they have been for thousands of years) would be quite surprised to be informed that someone has figured it all out scientifically. Again, if you could actually explain how to empirically verify that mentality transcends physical cause you would be a very, very famous person.”

    I am completely agnostic on the issue and I hope I explained well enough that it doesn’t matter to ID Theory what side of the metaphysical fence one takes. I merely pointed to Penrose and Hameroff as an example of bringing the study of consciousness or proto-consciousness (platonic qualities being as fundamental as matter and energy) into the realm of science as a possibility. Again, although I tend to side with Penrose and Hameroff and am completely unconvinced that mere complexity causes consciousness to emerge, this does not effect the ID debate as Meyers is presenting it.

    CJYman:
    “However, this does nothing to detract from what we *do* regularly experience — a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence. Thus, FSCI requires intelligence and intellgience requires FSCI. The two can not exist without each other — akin to the relationship between matter and energy — and neither FSCI nor intelligence are defined purely by law+chance without reference to FSCI or intelligence.”

    aiguy:
    “And again and again you claim to know that intelligence cannot arise from physical cause, which is a metaphysical claim that cannot be demonstrated within our uniform and repeated experience. This must be the ninth time we’ve gone through this particular exchange.”

    When did I ever state that intelligence can not arise from physical cause? In fact, I’m not even sure how you are defining “physical” and according to one definition, I see intelligence and FSCI as perfectly physical. I am not even, in principle, against intelligence being purely mechanistic. In fact, I lean more to that side.

    Do you mind responding to my actual argument re: the loop between intelligence and FSCI which is actually built upon the argument that you are providing here?

    aiguy:
    “In our uniform and repeated experience, only complex physical organisms generate FSCI.”

    Yes, I have been agreeing with that the whole time. I have shown how this closed loop, based on our repeated and uniform experience, between FSCI and intelligence contributes to the ID argument. I’ve went over this a couple times already and you seem to be simply ignoring me or misunderstanding what I am saying.

    CJYman:
    “I don’t see how you can say that there is no known cause, accessible to our uniform and repeated experience, regardless of whether that known cause (foresight utilizing system) is above natural law or not from either a scientific or a metaphysical perspective.”

    aiguy:
    “I take no stand on whether or not the generation of FSCI requires faculties that transcend physical cause. ”

    Neither do I, which is why I explained the ID argument that Meyers utilizes works *regardless* of one’s stance on the metaphysics of intelligence.

    aiguy:
    “If the designer of ID is a living thing (and I mean a physical entity rich in FSCI) then obviously it cannot be said to be the creator of the original living things.”

    Of course not. And this does nothing to negate our repeated and uniform experience that FSCI requires intelligence and that intelligence required FSCI. The designer of ID could only potentially be the creator of physically complex FSCI rich systems that exist after that particular designer has already been in existence.

    The designer of ID may have required a previous designer or it may be eternal alongside matter and energy or some quantum structure, but that is a metaphysical issue (with the potential for some scientific investigation, IMO) which does nothing to influence our repeated and uniform experience of a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence in terms of causation.

    The main point that you need to address, based on our repeated and uniform experience is that either FSCI requires intelligence and vice versa or FSCI does not require intelligence and/or vice versa.

    aiguy:
    “Meyer agrees with Darwin that in order to investigate historical events we must rely on our uniform and repeated experience of the present.”

    Do you, aiguy, agree that we must rely on our uniform and repeated experience of the present in order to investigate historical events in a scientific format?

    aiguy:
    “Cosmologists appeal to our experience of things in the present – such as the red shift and cosmic background radiation – in their quest to understand the history of the universe. Maybe they’re wrong in their analysis, but their evidence is well known to our uniform and repeated experience.”

    Of course, just as ID Theory appeals to our experience with utilizing our own foresight and inference of foresight being used by others to generate FSCI. This evidence is well known to our repeat and uniform experience.

    But you may disagree, so I ask again: “Have you ever used your foresight to produce FSCI? Is there any foresight in these comments of yours?” Can you point to FSCI arising out of a system where it is known that there is no foresight in operation in that instance of FSCI’s causal chain. IE: coherent blog comments arising from random number generators.

    CJYman:
    “I’ve never experienced anything remotely akin to either the Big Bang or past evolution. Have you or anyone else? Yet, we have all experienced, first hand, the generation of FSCI when we write comments like this. Thus, the connection between FSCI and foresight (regardless of the mode of operation of whatever produces foresight) is based on stronger evidence than anything that the Big Bang or past evolution from mud to consciousness or anything we can’t presently experience is based on.”

    aiguy:
    “We experience conscious awareness of our “foresight”. ”

    Agreed. And FSCI does not occur absent this foresight, and I utilize my foresight, or my foresight just does what it does, on a regular basis in order to generate FSCI.

    In order to provide further clarification, here is a link to a comment I’ve left for you a while back on Telic Thoughts:

    aiguy:
    “And so I do not discount ID because of my ideology or my metaphysics. Rather, I point out that it rests on metaphysical assumptions that may or may not be true, but certainly cannot fairly be said to be known to our experience, as Meyer and other ID advocates claim.”

    Again, how is the connection [between a system utilizing its foresight and the FSCI it generates] not known to our uniform and repeated experience. Do you not utilize your foresight to generate comments on this blog? Does an engineer not utilize foresight to envision a future goal that does not yet exist and then harness matter and energy, law and chance to generate a route to that goal (FSCI)? Agreed or not?

    And I’m showing that ID Theory can be completely metaphysically neutral on the operation of foresight. All that needs to exist, for ID Theory to work, is a correlation between FSCI and foresight which you seem to have agreed exists as a causal loop earlier — at least based on our repeated and uniform experience. I’ve shown that FSCI appears to require intelligence and you’ve shown that intelligence appears to require FSCI and I’ve agreed with you and shown you a metaphysically neutral argument, based on the aforementioned causal loop, for ID Theory based on Meyers and Darwin’s criteria.

  118. PS: maybe you would like to work out the implications of this, from the paper:

    lethal mutagenesis could be an effective therapeutic strategy for RNA virus infections . . .

  119. Null,

    My hypothetical reply from Meyer takes that into account – it was admitting expressly that an origin for all FCSI in total was not being offered, but an origin for FCSI on earth. So this is uninteresting.

    The reason it is interesting to me is that in our hypothetical debate, Meyer has been forced to concede that ID theory cannot explain what Meyer claims it explains. In particular, it cannot identify a known cause of the origin of FSCI, and the origin of FSCI is the basis upon which he (and Dembski and others) argue for ID in the first place.

    aiguy: The theory that life on Earth comes from other life forms has been around for a long time, but has never generated much interest, mainly because we have no evidence that extra-terrestrial life forms have ever existed.
    null: No evidence? That’s news to the panspermia crowd, the Bostrom crowd, and others.

    Calling proponents of panspermia a “crowd” is a bit of a stretch, no? These are interesting hypotheses, but they have indeed languished for lack of any evidence at all. If you disagree, please reveal the evidence that we have for the existence extra-terrestrial life (and I hope it does not include reference to “area 51″ or links to “alien autopsies” on YouTube). :-)

    Not to mention, Meyer’s modified argument would arguably count as a strong inference itself if it’s claimed that life originated on earth – if that’s the case, we know of one and only one thing that can do the job.

    What?

    Sure thing, you can go the panspermia route – that’s entirely on the table. But that pushes the question back to the Big Bang. And a strong inference that life in some form has been present from the Big Bang onward is one hell of a thing.

    Like I said, none of these “life comes from other life” theories have ever been much of a draw to anyone outside of Crick (for a while at least) and the Raelians I suppose. Anyway, if ID wants to switch to this sort of theory I will stop criticizing ID for equivocation and hidden metaphysical assumptions, and let it die a natural death due to (1) lack of evidence and (2) everybody who is behind ID in order to push their theological ideas will lose interest.

    Not to mention that your “only cause of complex life forms” claim runs into serious trouble the moment life is created in the laboratory, or arguably the moment a proper simulation of life is made. Either development would bolster the modified view even further.

    Even if we create life, then the ET-descendent theory will still be more parsimonious than the ET-ancestor theory… but it doesn’t matter anyway. Once ID concedes that disembodied intelligence runs counter to our experience rather than represents a “known cause”, and ID becomes mixed up with panspermia and the Raelians, I don’t believe there will much left to debate.

    Even if your claims are accepted for the sake of argument, Meyer’s arguments still have force. Speculative talk about how many adherents are left is uninteresting (If it was, then Meyer wins by default – ID in the broad sense has the numerical adherents.

    ID has the masses because the masses want ID to put the imprimatur of science on their (Christian) theism. Once that’s off the table and ID becomes the study of extra-terrestrial aliens, they will all abandon ID and return to good old fashioned Creationism.

  120. One could go on and on; but the point should already be clear enough to the open-minded onlooker.

    I’m sure you could and I’m sure it is.

  121. lethal mutagenesis could be an effective therapeutic strategy for RNA virus infections . . .

    Yes, I believe I called your attention to that.

  122. aiguy,

    The reason it is interesting to me is that in our hypothetical debate, Meyer has been forced to concede that ID theory cannot explain what Meyer claims it explains. In particular, it cannot identify a known cause of the origin of FSCI, and the origin of FSCI is the basis upon which he (and Dembski and others) argue for ID in the first place.

    Actually, given this hypothetical reply, ID theory would still be doing exactly what Meyer aimed to do: Showing the inadequacy of accepting a non-intelligent, non-living cause for life on earth. I’m pointing out Meyer can go right ahead and accept your criticisms, and his argument still retains force and accomplishes much of what he wants it to. As for Dembski, he explicitly accepts numerous possible explanations for FCSI, included “complex physical” intelligent agents. I can quote him saying this explicitly if you wish, right on this site.

    Calling proponents of panspermia a “crowd” is a bit of a stretch, no? These are interesting hypotheses, but they have indeed languished for lack of any evidence at all. If you disagree, please reveal the evidence that we have for the existence extra-terrestrial life (and I hope it does not include reference to “area 51? or links to “alien autopsies” on YouTube). :-)

    Here, among other places. Do you think “panspermia” means “omg spock”? If so, you don’t have a clue about the subject. Sorry to get mocking, but hey, just replying in kind.

    What?

    Huh?

    Like I said, none of these “life comes from other life” theories have ever been much of a draw to anyone outside of Crick (for a while at least) and the Raelians I suppose.

    The fact that you’re falling back to “Well, okay, but I bet that would be unpopular!” screams that you don’t have a real response here. What’s more, every ID major ID proponent – Dembski, Behe, etc – concedes straightaway that ID doesn’t prove the existence of God or such, so the crack about people pushing their “theological ideas” is based on a misconception anyway. Explicit embracing of metaphysics has always been required to get anyone from ID to their theological ideas, so the modified argument would change nothing.

    Even if we create life, then the ET-descendent theory will still be more parsimonious than the ET-ancestor theory… but it doesn’t matter anyway.

    I disagree on both counts – it would be one more way for life to originate and spread in the cosmos, and it would be an explicitly ID method. And the fact that both methods would be much stronger and more rational inferences than what Meyer is arguing against would itself be quite a development.

    ID has the masses because the masses want ID to put the imprimatur of science on their (Christian) theism. Once that’s off the table and ID becomes the study of extra-terrestrial aliens, they will all abandon ID and return to good old fashioned Creationism.

    ID’s proponents have always been justifiably restrictive with regards to what the success of ID could possibly show, as well as what it could not show. Neither Dembski, nor Meyer, nor Behe nor most of the others say that ID as ID gets one to God, much less the Christian God. I’m pointing out here that Meyer could accept your claims for the hell of it, and *still* his inferences go through. For those who accept given metaphysics, the options are even more broad – but they’re no longer purely scientific. I have the sneaky suspicion few will care.

    But like I said – if this is all about secret hopes and fantasies for sociological trends, it’s pretty uninteresting. I’m interested in the arguments, not numbers.

  123. CJYman,

    Aiguy, I just took your argument as granted and then argued that even if you are correct re: our uniform and repeated experience as it pertains to the relation between FSCI and intelligence, ID Theory does not end up lacking in any way at all. But apparently you completely missed that twice now.

    IOW, you were the one who did the explanation of the association that I am referring to and I merely explained how that association does not negate ID Theory as extrapolated by Meyers. It appears to me that you aren’t really reading what I’m saying.

    I apologize if I missed your point or confused speakers here. My point remains that the designer of ID must either be a life form or not. If it is, then ID cannot claim to explain the first life form, as Meyer claims it does. Otherwise if the designer is supposed to be intelligent but not a life form, then ID cannot be offering a known cause as Meyer says it does. Either way, Meyer is wrong.

    I am completely agnostic on the issue and I hope I explained well enough that it doesn’t matter to ID Theory what side of the metaphysical fence one takes. I merely pointed to Penrose and Hameroff as an example of bringing the study of consciousness or proto-consciousness (platonic qualities being as fundamental as matter and energy) into the realm of science as a possibility.

    Yes, it is a possiblity.

    Again, although I tend to side with Penrose and Hameroff and am completely unconvinced that mere complexity causes consciousness to emerge, this does not effect the ID debate as Meyers is presenting it.

    I agree with you – on both counts (I’m not convinced of the details of Penrose/Hameroff but I’ve long thought something along those lines anyway).

    “However, this does nothing to detract from what we *do* regularly experience — a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence. Thus, FSCI requires intelligence and intellgience requires FSCI. The two can not exist without each other — akin to the relationship between matter and energy — and neither FSCI nor intelligence are defined purely by law+chance without reference to FSCI or intelligence.”

    aiguy:
    “And again and again you claim to know that intelligence cannot arise from physical cause, which is a metaphysical claim that cannot be demonstrated within our uniform and repeated experience. This must be the ninth time we’ve gone through this particular exchange.”

    When did I ever state that intelligence can not arise from physical cause?

    That is how I interpreted “neither FSCI nor intelligence are defined purely by law+chance”. Materialists believe that the brain operates purely by law+chance and produces intelligent behavior and consciousness as a result.

    In fact, I’m not even sure how you are defining “physical” and according to one definition, I see intelligence and FSCI as perfectly physical. I am not even, in principle, against intelligence being purely mechanistic. In fact, I lean more to that side.

    OK then – I stand corrected regarding your position, apologies again. (My position is called “neutral monism”, tending toward “mysterianism”, which entails that I think that we don’t know what we mean when we talk about “physical” or “material”).

    Do you mind responding to my actual argument re: the loop between intelligence and FSCI which is actually built upon the argument that you are providing here?

    OK: I think “intelligence” is too ill-defined in this context to have a useful discussion about. Meyer talks about “conscious, rational thought”, which I think is much more meaningful and specfic. I think consciousness requires particular physical mechanisms in order to exist. I have no theory about how those mechanisms came to exist in the first place, but I see no reason to suppose it had anything to do with the sort of conscious experience that human beings have. And finally I believe that consciousness is not causal. So that’s what I think about all this… but none of my arguments here depend on the truth of any of that.

    Yes, I have been agreeing with that the whole time. I have shown how this closed loop, based on our repeated and uniform experience, between FSCI and intelligence contributes to the ID argument. I’ve went over this a couple times already and you seem to be simply ignoring me or misunderstanding what I am saying.

    I think ID requires that mind preceeds FSCI, which seems to violate your “closed loop” idea. It would appear you need to figure out a way for this loop to bootstrap?

    And this does nothing to negate our repeated and uniform experience that FSCI requires intelligence and that intelligence required FSCI. The designer of ID could only potentially be the creator of physically complex FSCI rich systems that exist after that particular designer has already been in existence.

    The designer of ID may have required a previous designer or it may be eternal alongside matter and energy or some quantum structure, but that is a metaphysical issue (with the potential for some scientific investigation, IMO) which does nothing to influence our repeated and uniform experience of a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence in terms of causation.

    The main point that you need to address, based on our repeated and uniform experience is that either FSCI requires intelligence and vice versa or FSCI does not require intelligence and/or vice versa.

    I don’t think that we have good reason to believe that extra-terrestrial life forms were involved in consciously designing life on Earth. Nor do I think we have good reason to believe that something which is not a life form could consciously design life either. These are the only two possibilities ID presents, and so I don’t think there is good reason to believe ID in any form at all.

    I have no theory as to how it got started.

    Do you, aiguy, agree that we must rely on our uniform and repeated experience of the present in order to investigate historical events in a scientific format?

    Yes.

    Of course, just as ID Theory appeals to our experience with utilizing our own foresight and inference of foresight being used by others to generate FSCI. This evidence is well known to our repeat and uniform experience.

    I have studied artificial intelligence for more than three decades, and what we have learned is that we do not understand how human beings think. You call it “foresight”, and you think you know what that means, but you don’t know what that means. Our ideas come to us, somehow, and we become conscious of (some of) them. But is it our consciousness that causes these ideas to form? Perhaps huge numbers of ideas are constantly being generated at random in our brains, and through a selection process only certain ideas enter our conscious perception. In other words, our thoughts arise via “blind”, random generation and selection. If this were true (and various scientists included Nobel-award-winning Gerald Edelman believe so) then reifying “foresight” as something which created FSCI is clearly mistaken; in this view, foresight is no more “intelligent” than Darwinian evolution!

    But you may disagree, so I ask again: “Have you ever used your foresight to produce FSCI? Is there any foresight in these comments of yours?” Can you point to FSCI arising out of a system where it is known that there is no foresight in operation in that instance of FSCI’s causal chain. IE: coherent blog comments arising from random number generators.

    Again, perhaps “foresight” is our name for physical processes operating via random generation & test – purely law+chance. Maybe so, maybe not… we don’t know.

    And I’m showing that ID Theory can be completely metaphysically neutral on the operation of foresight. All that needs to exist, for ID Theory to work, is a correlation between FSCI and foresight which you seem to have agreed exists as a causal loop earlier — at least based on our repeated and uniform experience. I’ve shown that FSCI appears to require intelligence and you’ve shown that intelligence appears to require FSCI and I’ve agreed with you and shown you a metaphysically neutral argument, based on the aforementioned causal loop, for ID Theory based on Meyers and Darwin’s criteria.

    Again,I think Meyer’s theory is completely counter to your idea regarding this closed loop. In his view, intelligence is something that stands outside of law+chance and creates FSCI, and so he claims that intelligence is a known cause of FSCI. In your view, intelligence may be nothing more than law+chance, and so any sort of law+chance process may be capable of producing FSCI – even law+chance processes that are not associated with conscious awareness.

    Do I have you right now?

  124. KF:

    I suppose it would be uncivil to point out that evolution and common descent require that offspring not vary much from the parent.

    No squirrels evolving directly from fish.

    But everyone already knows that.

    But while we’re waiting to have all the gaps filled, it’s interesting that the evolution of an actual self-replicating biological population can be modelled by software.

    And that the error catastrophe is a function of population size and mutation rate, not something inevitable in all populations.

    I find these things interesting.

  125. Null,

    Actually, given this hypothetical reply, ID theory would still be doing exactly what Meyer aimed to do: Showing the inadequacy of accepting a non-intelligent, non-living cause for life on earth.

    Oh, no, this isn’t true at all. What Meyer says he wants to show is that conscious mind is the best explanation for the first living cell, and he says so explicitly, over and over again. If you doubt me I will provide a dozen citations… but only if you promise to concede the argument totally once I go to the trouble.

    I’m pointing out Meyer can go right ahead and accept your criticisms, and his argument still retains force and accomplishes much of what he wants it to.

    In that case you’ve just changed his goal for him. What I’ve demolished is Meyer’s argument, not yours. Meyer argues that ID presents a known cause that could account for the first living cell. I’ve shown he is mistaken, which is what I set out to do.

    As for Dembski, he explicitly accepts numerous possible explanations for FCSI, included “complex physical” intelligent agents. I can quote him saying this explicitly if you wish, right on this site.

    I know he does, but he’s in the same boat. Meyer and Dembski lump life forms & gods into one big ambiguous “intelligent agency” basket, so they can equivocate on what they mean… and then refuse to provide an operational definition that would allow us to identify what things actually belong in that basket and what things do not. All I’ve done is to unmask their equivocation. Either they’re talking about life forms (which are known, but can’t be the cause of the first living cell) or they’re not (in which case their cause isn’t known).

    QED

    Here, among other places. Do you think “panspermia” means “omg spock”? If so, you don’t have a clue about the subject. Sorry to get mocking, but hey, just replying in kind.

    Hey, null – I hope you know I like your thinking and respect your arguments. I was just trying to keep it light with you!

    The fact that you’re falling back to “Well, okay, but I bet that would be unpopular!” screams that you don’t have a real response here.

    No, my response is that “life on Earth comes from pre-existing life” is not just an unpopular theory, but it is a bad theory because we have no evidence that it is true. As I’ve said, that is why these old ideas have never garnered much support.

    What’s more, every ID major ID proponent – Dembski, Behe, etc – concedes straightaway that ID doesn’t prove the existence of God or such, so the crack about people pushing their “theological ideas” is based on a misconception anyway.

    I know both what major ID authors say and also what is true of the vast readership of their books. But let’s just drop that part, OK?

    aiguy: Even if we create life, then the ET-descendent theory will still be more parsimonious than the ET-ancestor theory… but it doesn’t matter anyway.
    null: I disagree on both counts – it would be one more way for life to originate and spread in the cosmos, and it would be an explicitly ID method.

    I misspoke – what I meant to write was “ET-ancestor theory is more parsimonious then ET-designer theory”.

    ET-ancestor theory is distinctly not an ID method, because biological reproduction is not “design”, right (in the sense that organisms are not consciously designing their offspring). So if ET-ancestor theory is true, then ID is wrong. And if we imagine that ET life existed prior to life on Earth, why would ET-designer theory be commended over ET-ancestor theory?

    I’m pointing out here that Meyer could accept your claims for the hell of it,…

    For him to deny my argument would require him to claim that the first living organism could have been designed by another living organism (a logical impossibility) or that disembodied intelligence is part of our uniform and repeated experience (which isn’t true).

  126. aiguy,

    Oh, no, this isn’t true at all. What Meyer says he wants to show is that conscious mind is the best explanation for the first living cell, and he says so explicitly, over and over again. If you doubt me I will provide a dozen citations… but only if you promise to concede the argument totally once I go to the trouble.

    And you’ll concede the argument totally to me if I provide a dozen citations of Meyer explicitly arguing against an unguided, unintelligent abiogenesis event? To hear you explain it, Meyer would regard powerful or successful arguments against an unguided abiogenesis event on earth as a defeat. I’m calling that ludicrous.

    In that case you’ve just changed his goal for him. What I’ve demolished is Meyer’s argument, not yours. Meyer argues that ID presents a known cause that could account for the first living cell. I’ve shown he is mistaken, which is what I set out to do.

    Changed his goal? I offered an argument that I explicitly said was a hypothetical response from Meyer – I at no time said Meyer was making the response. No surprise moves here. I pointed out Meyer could grant your criticisms for the hell of it, and still he’d be accomplishing much of what he wants to. You are the one saying that Meyer would regard successful arguments on the front mentioned as a defeat for him. I’m pointing out that’s ridiculous.

    Either they’re talking about life forms (which are known, but can’t be the cause of the first living cell) or they’re not (in which case their cause isn’t known).

    And again, Dembski & company don’t argue what the “Designer” is – and by their measure, they do not have to, because the particular identity (This or that particular designer) is irrelevant for their purposes.

    No, my response is that “life on Earth comes from pre-existing life” is not just an unpopular theory, but it is a bad theory because we have no evidence that it is true. As I’ve said, that is why these old ideas have never garnered much support.

    “No evidence”? Baloney. I went ahead and provided some – or are you going to say that tests regarding bacterial viability in space aren’t evidence? Or possible empirical results indicating the possibility of simple/bacterial life on comets or on other planets aren’t evidence?

    Insufficient evidence? Sure. No evidence? That’s fantasy.

    ET-ancestor theory is distinctly not an ID method, because biological reproduction is not “design”, right (in the sense that organisms are not consciously designing their offspring). So if ET-ancestor theory is true, then ID is wrong. And if we imagine that ET life existed prior to life on Earth, why would ET-designer theory be commended over ET-ancestor theory?

    First, it’s not that simple: Crick’s directed panspermia – which I’m not arguing for here – relied on ET-ancestors as a method. That would be a midway point between the two. But that’s just a technical point.

    Second, if ET-ancestor theory is true, ID isn’t necessarily wrong. There are ID proponents who rely on panspermia and ET-ancestor theories – it would be partial confirmation of their views. And again with Meyer, it would be partial confirmation of his own views – even if life didn’t originate on earth, it would skunk the abiogenesis views he has in his sights.

    Third, it would depend on what we uncovered about the earliest life on earth, or on there being no way to discern created life from ancestral life. To say nothing of the fact that putting panspermia on the table as an explanation for life on earth would have some serious repercussions across the board, since there’s no way to accept it while at the same time regarding earth as a kind of hermetically sealed off environment where biological development takes place.

    For him to deny my argument would require him to claim that the first living organism could have been designed by another living organism (a logical impossibility) or that disembodied intelligence is part of our uniform and repeated experience (which isn’t true).

    That’s an oversimplification, like saying that providing powerful reasons to believe that Neo-Darwinism is false/inadequate wouldn’t be an ID success on the grounds that a negative argument itself doesn’t demonstrate or strongly infer a designing agent. But there are arguments ID proponents sign on with that are negative arguments, just as there are positive arguments.

  127. I see aiguy has kept every busy here!
    @aiguy

    -“ Now THAT is an ontological assumption…[etc] is true!”

    I went to great lengths to specify that one’s prior assumptions serve as the underpinning of their perspective. For you to come here and accuse me of doing otherwise is just disingenuous. And it’s you that is doing the projection, not me. Sorry.

    And here is why… You said: “Under dualism, we have dual natures – one is our material body and one is our immaterial mind.”

    So I used that as a hypothesis. A typical “for the sake of argument” proposition(i.e. if this then that). There is a difference. So your accusations are undue and irrelevant. All that for what? So that you can divert attention elsewhere and refrain from commenting on the plethora of examples I gave you? What is to become of science without logical inference? Without abstract theorizing? Tell us.

    No, you should address it if you disagree then because the criticism applies to both paradigms (ID and darwinism). You can’t berate on ID and then refuse to comment on darwinism, especially since you disagree. Tell us then, when did your uniform and repeated experience observe randomness or a mindless materialistic cause giving rise to FSCI?

    - but it is confused to believe that evolutionary biologists – or anyone else – considers “chance” to be a cause, rather than a description of the independence of effects”

    What exactly do you mean by that? Independence of effects from what? And how does this fit into a materialistic ontology? Can you elaborate?

    -“ ID only makes sense if you adopt a particular metaphysical stance – one which denies physicalism.”
    More accurately: “ID makes sense if you adopt one of a plethora of metaphysical stances, namely those which deny materialism”

    Now let’s go back to what I said days ago in my first response to your objection: “I believe this will be a huge problem specifically for materialists and logical positivists but not so much for others who embrace a different metaphysic/epistemology.”

    Funny isn’t it?

  128. *every=everyone

  129. @aiguy

    One last thing. You keep talking about science proving this and that. What is your operational definition of science? The more I follow this discussion, the more I feel I am vindicated in asserting in my very first (maybe 2nd) post that science is not free of metaphysics and is theory laden. Is your definition of science free of metaphysics? If it isn’t – and I’m confident it probably isn’t – then your criticism applies to your own notion of science as well.

  130. @nuallasalus #112

    -“Just yesterday I was reading yet more claims that our universe is at heart information, not “material”.”

    Can you provide me with a link to that? I would very much like to read it.

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