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The Psychology of Blinding Obedience to a Paradigm

In church on Sunday the sermon was about Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead.  What does this have to do with the ID/Darwinism debate?  Nothing, of course.  But the story does contain a remarkable illustration of what I will call the “psychology of blinding obedience to a paradigm.” 

 

The central claim of ID can be illumined by a very simple illustration from the movie 2001, a Space Odyssey.  After the opening sequences, the plot of the movie shifts to a scientist journeying to the moon to investigate an “anomaly” that has been discovered buried under the moon’s surface.  Here is a picture of the anomaly.  The scientists immediately reach an obvious conclusion – the anomaly was created by an intelligent being.  In other words, they make a “design inference.”  Why do they make such an inference?  Because the anomaly exhibits complex specified information (“CSI”) that cannot reasonably be attributed to chance, mechanical necessity or both acting together.  Therefore, the commonsense conclusion reached by the scientists is that “act of an intelligent agent” is the most reasonable explanation for the existence of the anomaly. 

 

NASA plans to resume its moon missions in the mid teens.  Now suppose that the next time we visit the moon, an astronaut actually finds an “anomaly” like the one in the film.  Can there be any doubt that scientists would make the same design inference?  Would such an inference be even the least bit controversial?  Obviously not.

 

Lets return to earth.  If you have not already done so, click on the video in the upper right of UD’s home page.  This is an excerpt from “Expelled” called  “Complexity of the Cell.”  After watching this video you can see why the cell has been called a “nano-city.”  It has a library (DNA molecules); it has streets; it has walls that open and close; it has specialized molecules that move other molecules up and down the streets as required.  And the marvelous thing about all of this is that it is completely automated.  The cell is, quite simply, a marvel of nano-technology that exhibits CSI vastly greater than the “anomaly” in 2001, a Space Odyssey. 

 

There is no known natural source of CSI.  In fact, all of the CSI that anyone has ever observed has been the product of purposeful actions by intelligent agents.  Accordingly, ID proponents make an inference – that the CSI in a cell is also the result of purposeful acts by an intelligent agent.  But unlike the anomaly on the moon, this seemingly commonsense inference is not only controversial, it is vehemently denied by the proponents of neo-Darwinian Evolution (“NDE”).  Proponents of NDE vociferously and repeatedly claim that there is “overwhelming evidence” proving that Darwinian processes can account for dramatic additions to CSI.  Well, I have been following this debate for a few years now, and I am still waiting to see that evidence.

 

And that takes us back to our starting point.  Consider the last two verses of the Lazarus story (John 11:45-46).  Jesus has just raised from the dead a man who has been in his grave for four days, and in these two verses John tells us that after seeing this miracle many believed Jesus’ claims, but – and here is the remarkable part – many did not.  This last group included agents of the religious leaders who were plotting Jesus’ death, and instead of believing in Jesus, these agents went back to their masters and made their reports.

 

What can we learn about human psychology from this story?  Unfortunately, some people will always be subject to the “psychology of blinding obedience to a paradigm.”  In the Lazarus story the agents of the religious leaders had a stake in the continuance of the existing religious paradigm.  Whether their stake in the status quo was financial or psychological or some other stake, we are not told, but one thing is clear – their stake shackled them to a blinding obedience to the existing paradigm.  They were blinded even to the evidence of one of the greatest miracles that had ever been reported up until that time – a man four days in the grave raised from the dead.  Because of their blindness, they literally could not see either the flaws in the status quo they were defending or the benefits of the alternative being offered.

 

Here at UD we see the same phenomenon in operation day after day in the ID/Darwinism debate.  I am continually amazed that seemingly intelligent people, who for all I know are acting in complete good faith, simply cannot grasp even elementary principles of reasoning if to do so would require them to question the NDE orthodoxy. 

 

For example, in a recent post I used the example of Mt. Rushmore to illustrate a known instance of intelligent design.  I asked my readers to consider an investigator who knows nothing about the origin of the faces on the mountain other than their bare existence (perhaps an investigator from the far distant future after an apocalypse has erased all other records of human activity).  The investigator might conclude that the faces on the mountain were the product of chance and necessity, i.e., wind and rain and other environmental factors against all odds combined to form the exact replicas of the faces of four men.  Or the investigator could conclude from the obvious CSI exhibited by the carvings that they are the product of the purposeful efforts of an intelligent agent. 

 

I then asked my readers to consider a cell, which exhibits VASTLY MORE CSI than Mt. Rushmore.  An investigator could conclude that the CSI of a cell – this marvel of nano-technology – is the product of random replication errors (i.e., chance) culled by natural selection (i.e., mechanical necessity).  Or, as in the Mt. Rushmore example, the investigator could conclude that the CSI was the product of the purposeful efforts of an intelligent agent. 

 

Which is the more reasonable explanation for the CSI in the cell, I asked my readers.  One Darwinist, an obviously intelligent person acting in what I trust was perfect good faith responded:  we have a plausible materialist explanation for the apparent design of life, whereas we don’t have such an explanation for Mt. Rushmore.”

 

It apparently never occurred to this commenter that whether the materialist explanation for the design life is more plausible than a materialist explanation for the design of Mt. Rushmore is precisely the issue in question.  And the bald unsupported assertion that one explanation is more plausible than the other solves nothing.  In other words, it did not occur to the commenter that his explanation was satisfying to him only because he assumed his conclusion simply had to be true. 

 

I would have thought that our commenter’s failure to grasp elementary principles of logic was an anomaly if I had not seen Darwinists make the same type of error over and over again these last few years.  The point of this post is that I no longer believe these people are stupid, and I am trying (yes, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, I really am trying) to be more patient with them.  I trust my fellow authors and the pro-ID commenters on these pages will join with me in this endeavor.  I am not talking about obvious trolls.  That is another category altogether, and we will continue to deal with them ruthlessly.  But with respect to people of demonstrated intelligence and good faith who, because of the “psychology of blinding obedience to a paradigm” cannot seem to grasp simple concepts, let’s try to be a little more patient and, if anything, pity those who have imprisoned themselves in self-constructed psychological towers.

 

 

 

 

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75 Responses to The Psychology of Blinding Obedience to a Paradigm

  1. Barry wrote:

    One Darwinist, an obviously intelligent person acting in what I trust was perfect good faith responded: “we have a plausible materialist explanation for the apparent design of life, whereas we don’t have such an explanation for Mt. Rushmore.”

    Thank you, Barry. I believe that’s the first time you’ve ever complimented me.

    The point of this post is that I no longer believe these people are stupid…

    Ooh, another compliment. :-)

    …and I am trying (yes, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, I really am trying) to be more patient with them. I trust my fellow authors and the pro-ID commenters on these pages will join with me in this endeavor… But with respect to people of demonstrated intelligence and good faith who, because of the “psychology of blinding obedience to a paradigm” cannot seem to grasp simple concepts, let’s try to be a little more patient and, if anything, pity those who have imprisoned themselves in self-constructed psychological towers.

    I’m glad you recognize that we’re not stupid, though I think your diagnosis of self-imprisonment is mistaken.

    One of the benefits of free, uncensored discussion is that people can learn how others think and why. The answers are sometimes surprising.

    If you continue making an honest effort to understand our arguments, you may find that they are not so ridiculous as you suppose.

    You express astonishment that ID skeptics can “fail to grasp elementary principles of logic” and “simple concepts”. Trust me — we have similar thoughts about you.

    One of my reasons for engaging at UD is a desire to understand why you — meaning ID proponents in general — think as you do. Discussions here may not result in wholesale “conversions”, but maybe we can at least go away with a better understanding of what’s going on in the minds of those on “the other side”.

  2. rib, good comment. I agree: like you, I find that it’s those on the ID side who fail to be reasonable. “The other side” is always the illogical one.

    If I can suggest a different miracle as a model, consider the first miracle story in Mark (IIRC, Jesus heals a blind man with spit and mud). Unlike every other healing story in the Gospels, this one doesn’t heal at first — it takes a while to work. So it is with the understanding.

    (Not that I believe the miracle — but I’m using it as an illustration of something. Call it a parable.)

  3. A point and a question:

    Point: This post assumes CSI is a rigorously defined and agreed concept. If it’s not, well . .

    Question: what happened to the “recent comments” on the side of the page? It’s hard to follow an active discussion without them.

  4. I have never found one person defending the Darwinian paradigm converted in my time here. A few have left without admitting their beliefs after a short time to mull it over and usually never to return. But the ones who stay and argue, never give an inch. At least I have not seen it yet, despite the inanity of many of their arguments. When they are answered they just go on to something else in the hopes they can undermine the ID position.

    I always maintain that the arguments that go on here are not directed at those who hold the Darwinian paradigm as gospel but to those who do not participate in the discussions and are honestly looking for some information on the topics. They are the target of these discussions. Most people are clueless on the issues that are really being debated and if they read enough can form their own opinions.

    A secondary benefit of having people come here and defend Darwinian processes for all evolution is to draw out just what they know and what their arguments are. Usually we get the same tired arguments.

    On the 60 minutes thread where discussions of macro evolution were going on, it was interesting to see the differences between ribczynski and Khan. Khan actually presented some examples while ribczynski just presented the usual clichés. ribczynski is not hard to refute because we have seen the same silliness before. Khan on the other hand seemed to want to engage on specifics because he thinks they may undermine ID but which should in the long run be better for us here as we make clear just what the arguments are and where their limitations are.

    Hopefully, this all can remain civil but I do not expect any of the hard core Darwinists to change their position. It is too ideologically based.

    If this sounds like I too may be ideologically committed, I like to think I am not. I once thought that Darwinian processes explained all of evolution but was intrigued when I heard some people questioning it and started to read the arguments. Since that time I am convinced that Darwinian processes can explain a lot of the trivial small changes that have happened and these changes are important for many reasons such as survival and ecology and medical reasons. I am also a thorn in the side of a lot of people here who support ID because I do not share a lot of their treasured beliefs and arguments. But I find the evidence overwhelming that Darwinian processes can not explain the complex functional changes that had to have happened. Maybe some new theory will arise in the future but gradualism does not do it.

    I too find the psychological processes that go on with Darwinists fascinating. The most amazing is the “not give an inch” mentality. When you see it, it is a sure sign of committed intransigence based on ideology and not reason, There is no reason or arguing with such a person but it is worthwhile keeping them around while they are civil because they always reveal their stripes.

  5. For interested readers:
    Barry and I (and others) discuss the Mt. Rushmore example on this thread, starting at comment 4 and continuing through comment 98.

    Barry wrote:

    There is no known natural source of CSI.

    Assuming that you’re using Dembski’s definition of CSI, I have two points:

    1. Your statement only makes sense if you think that human intelligence is not natural. Is that how you are using the word ‘natural’ here? We’ll need to agree on this definition for purposes of discussion.

    2. Assuming it is, then your statement is a tautology, because Dembski defines CSI as a function of the (im)probability of producing an outcome by purely natural means.

    I would guess that you weren’t aiming for a tautology, and that what you were really trying to say is that the cell is much more complicated than Mt. Rushmore. So if we agree that Mt. Rushmore is designed, we should agree that the cell must also be designed. Is that a fair summary of your argument?

    It apparently never occurred to this commenter that whether the materialist explanation for the design life is more plausible than a materialist explanation for the design of Mt. Rushmore is precisely the issue in question.

    Sure it did. In a comment directed to you, I wrote:

    No, I’m pointing out that we have a plausible materialist explanation for the apparent design of life, whereas we don’t have such an explanation for Mt. Rushmore. The difference? Rock formations don’t reproduce with heritable variation, so natural selection cannot operate on them.

    I realize that you don’t accept natural selection as an explanation for the complexity of life, but most skeptics of NDE will concede that natural selection has a certain logic to it, even if they think that too much is claimed on its behalf.

    You are arguing that this doesn’t matter, and that natural selection is no more plausible as an explanation of life’s complexity than some completely unspecified material mechanism, for which there are no candidates, is as an explanation for Mt. Rushmore.

    That strikes me as bizarre.

    In the other thread, you justified your contention by saying that both explanations involved “chance and necessity”. But surely you don’t think that all explanations involving chance and necessity are necessarily equally plausible, do you?

  6. jerry, I’ll give an inch on plenty of processes: adaptation, natural selection, etc. What I won’t do is open the door toward invoking non-material processes as a legitimate explanation for natural phenomena.

    Who’s being ideological? ID often reminds me of what Bertrand Russell defined as two characteristics of medieval scholasticism:

    First, it is confined within the limits of what appear to the wrter to be orthodoxy . . . Third, there is a great belief in “dialectic” and in syllogistic reasoning; the general temper of the scholastics is minute and disputatious rather than mystical

    Russell goes on:

    The defects of the scholastic method are those that inevitably result from laying stress on “dialectic.” These defects are: indifference to facts and science, belief in reasoning in matters which only observation can decide, and an undue emphasis on verbal distinctions and subtleties.

  7. Clarification: is refusing non-material explanations for science a kind of orthodoxy? IDers would say it is, and that’s where I’m being ideological. I don’t expect they’ll change their minds. But I’m not refusing a non-material explanation; I’m just refusing to grant a non-material explanation the name of science. Further, I think IDers tend to begin by presuming intelligent agency and then say “how do we show this”?

  8. RoyK,

    Suppose for some instances, there were non-material causes. Then by definition science will never find the explanations for these instances.

    I personally do not believe that science is capable of finding all that is real or true. Somethings may be beyond its capabilities. It is certainly immensely useful, but that usefulness does not mean that there is certainty that it will find all that is.

    Suppose there is no material explanation for the origin of life. Then science can not find the real explanation and all attempts to do so will come up short. This is not an argument to abandon any hypothesis but only that some may never be solved or supported. The research is not wasteful either in such a situation since there is value in failure and also in side things that are discovered as part of the scientific process.

  9. 9

    Rib, re [5], I did propose a chance/law explanation for Mt. Rushmore, three times actually. You must have missed it, which indicates to me that you did not read the posts very carefully.

    Wind, rain, etc. have been known to form sculptures that have a vague resemblance to a human face. See pictures of Old Man on the Mountain here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O.....e_Mountain.

    Thus, pace your repeated denials, there is a colorable natural explanation for sculpting Mt. Rushmore. Is it really such a stretch to suggest that our hypothetical investigator might possibly conclude that natural forces sculpted Rushmore?

    Well, yes, it is actually, but no more of a stretch than to suggest that the accumulation of random noise is responsible for the construction of the staggeringly complex nano-machinery of the cell. This is obvious, and your (and other Darwinists’) inability even to consider the possibility that the accumulation of random noise is not capable of designing nano-bots that are based on technology which we do not even understand fully – far less have the ability to replicate –fascinates me and is the subject of this post.

  10. jerry, you’re referring to what “research”? To test for a non-material explanation is to enter into the realm of scholasticism as described by Russell in my comment above. It’s not research but mutterings on the edge of research, sniping at the inadequacy of explanations provided by the people in the labs.

  11. RoyK,

    Just to paraphrase you: “Further, I think Darwinists tend to begin by presuming non-intelligent agency and then say “how do we show this”?”

    What do you think? Is this also applicable?

  12. 12

    Re the “is human intelligence natural” question. I am gaveling that discussion. We have recently gone ’round and ’round over that issue, and it is not the subject of this post. Any comments discussing that issue in this thread will be a waste of the writer’s time, because they will be deleted.

  13. AussieID [11], I presume that intelligent agency doesn’t act on its own. Observation shows that all intelligent agency we observe comes from intelligent life. Since there’s no evidence of intelligent life for most of Earth’s history, there’s no reason to think that there is intelligent agency for most of Earth’s history either.

  14. One thing is transparently obvious: DNA information encoding is only a small part of what is going on in biological systems. I suspect that living systems are encoded with a highly sophisticated, multi-parallel — indeed, multi-dimensional-parallel, essentially holographic — information system that is light-years ahead of our understanding of information encoding with digital, sequential-processing algorithms.

    There is no way this kind of technology can be explained by random changes and natural selection. It is far beyond our trivial understanding, and is obviously the product of an intelligence far beyond what we can even imagine.

  15. Well, if there’s “no way this kind of technology can be explained by random changes and natural selection,” I guess we should just give up now. Why try to explain something scientifically if it’s beyond even our imagination? (Note, though, that the computer guy imagines life in terms of a super-duper-supercomputer and the designing intelligence as a super-computer-guy.)

  16. Barry wrote:

    Wind, rain, etc. have been known to form sculptures that have a vague resemblance to a human face.

    ‘Vague’ being the operative word. Nobody thinks that Mt. Rushmore bears merely a ‘vague’ resemblance to a set of human faces.

    Thus, pace your repeated denials, there is a colorable natural explanation for sculpting Mt. Rushmore. Is it really such a stretch to suggest that our hypothetical investigator might possibly conclude that natural forces sculpted Rushmore?

    Yes. You’ve told us that Mt. Rushmore is obviously designed. If so, why would your hypothetical investigator conclude otherwise?

    And if you now disagree with yourself, then how about pointing us to someone who actually believes that “wind, rain, etc.” constitute a plausible explanation for Mt. Rushmore.

    I can point you to thousands of people who think that natural selection is a plausible explanation for the complexity of life. Can you point me to a single person who finds your natural explanation of Mt. Rushmore plausible?

    And yet you claim that both explanations are equally plausible.

    Well, yes, it is actually, but no more of a stretch than to suggest that the accumulation of random noise is responsible for the construction of the staggeringly complex nano-machinery of the cell.

    Natural selection is not the “accumulation of random noise”, as any biologist could tell you. Selection is highly nonrandom.

    Re the “is human intelligence natural” question. I am gaveling that discussion.

    For the purposes of your argument, you’d better stipulate that human intelligence is not natural. Otherwise your statement that “There is no known natural source of CSI” would necessarily mean that humans cannot generate CSI, and that they therefore could not possibly be responsible for Mt. Rushmore. :-)

  17. Well, if there’s “no way this kind of technology can be explained by random changes and natural selection,” I guess we should just give up now.

    Huh? No, we take it apart, analyze it, and figure out how it works, so we can learn from the superior design of a superior designer.

  18. No, we take it apart, analyze it, and figure out how it works, so we can learn from the superior design of a superior designer.

    You are a top-notch programmer, Gil. I bet you could write a program to really analyze DNA and figure out its design.

  19. Huh? You’re the one who said the designer was beyond our imagination. Your invocation of said designer was so referential I heard organ music while reading it.

  20. Selection is highly nonrandom.

    Selection is the result of three random processes- variation, inheritance and fecundity.

    So if the inputs are random what does that say about the output?

    And you keep ignoring the fact that NS only provides 16% of the variation observed. And in populations over 1,000 it practically disappears altogether.

    And also anything that humans make is artificial.

  21. The bottom-line is we exist and there is only ONE reality behind that existence.

    The anti-ID camp relies on cosmic collisions, atomic acidents, and chance events.

    Heck the best explanation they have for the laws that govern the physical woprld is “They just are (the way they are)” S Hawking in “A Briefer History of Time”.

    If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents – the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts – i.e., of Materialism and Astronomy – are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true?

    I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents.

    It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.–CS Lewis

  22. If you continue making an honest effort to understand our arguments, you may find that they are not so ridiculous as you suppose.

    Rib, most of us grew up with these arguments and pretty much accepted them as established fact until we started looking at them seriously.

  23. What I won’t do is open the door toward invoking non-material processes as a legitimate explanation for natural phenomena. . . But I’m not refusing a non-material explanation; I’m just refusing to grant a non-material explanation the name of science.

    Roy, if you limit “science” with the understanding that “science” is not the definitive arbiter of truth that view is merited.

    For instance, if you find a huge puddle of water on your living room floor, it would be much to investigate it methodically and materially as to the cause rather than pray for some divine revelation.

    But science is considered the arbiter of truth in our society, and it dogmatically rejects design arguments for the big questions, even when those arguments are far more rational than what it is they insist happened.

  24. Rib, most of us grew up with these arguments and pretty much accepted them as established fact until we started looking at them seriously.

    I second that.

    I accepted the theory of evolution as a solid fact. Then I read Gavin de Beer’s “Homology…” and Pierre La Grasse’s “Evolution of living organisms”. After that I began questioning my earlier conviction. So I did more investigating and came to find out that the theory of evolution is too vague to be of any use. And too vague to even be considered a theory.

    For example when I ask what varies all I get is either the DNA or allele frequency. Note the answers lack specification. And as such they don’t “answer” anything.

    And to this day that is all the answer one can expect from evos because no one has a clue as to whether or not the physical transformations required are even obtainable via selected mutations.

  25. Tribune7,

    “Rib, most of us grew up with these arguments and pretty much accepted them as established fact until we started looking at them seriously.”

    I third that. I think most people forget that Behe, Dembski, Kenyon, Myers et al were originally proponents of evolutionary theory. Even moreso Kenyon, who founded “Biological Predestination,” which accounts for alot of the darwinistic opposition in the first place. I think for the most part these guys rejected Darwinistic theory because of how far they studied into all the details, as opposed to a lack of understanding or knowledge of the broad and vague Darwin theory we see today.

  26. Barry,

    The new UD experiment in open mindedness is revealing. I will repeat what I said above

    “I too find the psychological processes that go on with Darwinists fascinating. The most amazing is the “not give an inch” mentality. When you see it, it is a sure sign of committed intransigence based on ideology and not reason, There is no reason or arguing with such a person but it is worthwhile keeping them around while they are civil because they always reveal their stripes.”

    Almost everyone of the Darwin defenders here have exhibited this behavior. There is no attempt to understand or comprehend your position but an incessant attack mode on even the smallest of points. A constant gotcha mind set. It is part of the mentality that if you get the last negative thought in about your opponents then you have won. And when their behavior elicits a negative response in others, they are ready to pounce with the person’s rude behavior or faux pas.

    There is no “I understand your position but here is where and why I disagree with you.” There is little attempt at constructive understanding and as I said they quickly reveal their stripes.

    My recommendation is engage them till they reveal their stripes and then ignore them when they become intransigent. If people here want to end up in hopeless mental cul de sacs with these people, then I hope they have a lot of time to waste.

    It is interesting that I rarely observed this type of behavior when growing up and in school but it seems that in recent years this behavior has become much more prevalent than I ever would have thought based on my own personal experiences. Maybe we are like flypaper to this type of mentality and those with this psyche feel an irresistible impulse to come here and combat us.

  27. “It is interesting that I rarely observed this type of behavior when growing up and in school but it seems that in recent years this behavior has become much more prevalent than I ever would have thought based on my own personal experiences. Maybe we are like flypaper to this type of mentality and those with this psyche feel an irresistible impulse to come here and combat us.”

    Well put Jerry, “combat” seems to be the best explanatory word for their behavior on this website. Couldn’t agree more. Instead of coming to terms with what we are trying to convey, they would rather just “return fire” with some things that have already been dealt with or things that don’t even apply to the argument.

  28. 28

    Jerry, we debate the Darwinists here not because we think we going to change their minds. We ususally do not. Don’t foget the lurkers! We now have 7,000 a day visiting the site. Most never leave a comment, but many follow our arguments. We owe it to them to do our best.

  29. Although we may have different viewpoints, we’re all looking for the trut – so we’re united in that sense. Also, if you don’t challenge your own beliefs, how sure can you be? This applies to me as much as everyone else.

  30. Gil (#14):

    “One thing is transparently obvious: DNA information encoding is only a small part of what is going on in biological systems. I suspect that living systems are encoded with a highly sophisticated, multi-parallel — indeed, multi-dimensional-parallel, essentially holographic — information system that is light-years ahead of our understanding of information encoding with digital, sequential-processing algorithms.”

    You are, as usual, absolutely right and absolutely pertinent. It is incredible how much “mysterious” information we are gathering about living systems: they appear, day after day, as ever more challenging “miracles”. And it is incredible, indeed utterly unbelievable, the daily arrogance and dogmatism with which these wonderful universes of mystery are routinely ignored or, even worse, easily “explained away” in the name of flat and cognitively depressing views of reality which have absolutely no support from experience and no epistemological dignity. In such a grey “waste land”, it is a pleasure to hear spontaneous words of humble wisdom form people like you.

  31. Barry Arrington:

    “We owe it to them to do our best.”

    Absolutely. there is perhaps no more “sacred” duty than to humbly suggest and defend, without any arrogance or abusive authority, what we deeply believe to be true.

  32. IDskeptic:

    “Also, if you don’t challenge your own beliefs, how sure can you be? This applies to me as much as everyone else.”

    And it certainly applies to me. Thank you for reminding a deep, but often overlooked, truth.

  33. I third that.

    I fourth that. To be fair when the “single-gene-single-function and microevolution adds up to macroevolution” paradigm reigned I believe that accepting Darwinism was reasonable. It’s only when an increase in knowledge showed that paradigm to be false that Darwinism became unreasonable. Never mind the observed limitations of Darwinian mechanisms based upon experimentation involving many, many generations and also computer simulations. Then the lack of raw data to back up the story-telling.

    Almost everyone of the Darwin defenders here have exhibited this behavior. There is no attempt to understand or comprehend your position but an incessant attack mode on even the smallest of points. A constant gotcha mind set.

    I was surprised to see even Prof Olofsson engage in this, claiming that the EF “does not work” which as I pointed out was a gross distortion of Bill’s quick comment.

    Rib, I find it surprising you say this:

    If you continue making an honest effort to understand our arguments, you may find that they are not so ridiculous as you suppose.

    When asked directly, “And what are these stepwise pathways?” the reply from you was “We don’t know them, and Dembski didn’t either.”

    How can they honestly insist that we should presume an unknown law or chance hypothesis is actively at work? That we should somehow incorporate into calculations something we know nothing about?

    Even on the CBS thread you had nothing to say in regards to my long post on natural selection, instead choosing to make arguments that I’ve seen refuted before on this very website.

    Do you now see why we view such arguments as ridiculous? How can we make “an honest effort to understand” when you’re supplying nothing?

  34. Gil wrote:

    No, we take it apart, analyze it, and figure out how it works, so we can learn from the superior design of a superior designer.

    What if the “superior designer” turns out to be a power-mad life form from another planet (or, given your earlier comment, perhaps from another dimension)? Will you be OK with learning at the feet of our evil alien overlord?

  35. It seems to me that the title of Barry Arrington’s post is just an inelegant word for “ideology.” And if I may be so bold, can I say that we all hold to ideologies? Everybody’s ideas seem reasonable to them.

    Example: several times in the original post, and later in a comment, Barry refers to evidence as “obvious.” Gil’s comment says that design is “obvious” twice in a single comment.

    Things that we feel to be obvious aren’t usually arrived at by reason and experiment. Things that are obvious don’t need defending. What we feel to be “obvious” is usually the result of ideology.

  36. Patrick asks:

    How can they honestly insist that we should presume an unknown law or chance hypothesis is actively at work?

    We don’t. Natural selection doesn’t require the existence of any unknown laws. And the chance hypothesis is natural selection — a known process.

    Even on the CBS thread you had nothing to say in regards to my long post on natural selection

    Patrick, I’m responding to about ten different people here. Don’t expect instant responses from me for everything you post.

    …instead choosing to make arguments that I’ve seen refuted before on this very website.

    If they’re easy to refute, then why don’t you refute them for the benefit of the lurkers?

  37. What if the “superior designer” turns out to be a power-mad life form from another planet (or, given your earlier comment, perhaps from another dimension)?

    Isn’t that your problem too? :-)

    If that’s the reality pretending we are here by accident isn’t going to help you. Unless, of course, by doing so you think you might be appeasing this “power mad” life form, kind of like as a form of worship.

    Fortunately, we know God to be loving, wise and kind, so we don’t have to worry about that.

  38. Natural selection doesn’t require the existence of any unknown laws. And the chance hypothesis is natural selection — a known process.

    Bzzt. Wrong. Your lack of basic knowledge is showing. Even your fellow Darwinists would object to deterministic natural selection being defined as a “chance hypothesis”. The chance component is largely relegated to variation and potential indirect stepwise pathways.

    Don’t expect instant responses from me for everything you post.

    Instant responses?

    You said:

    Later today I will present some remarks and questions about natural selection that should address the points raised by you, jerry, Patrick, and others who are skeptical of NDE’s power.

    I responded:

    You better have some data then. I’ve been discussing observed limitations, not talking points.

    As expected you then proceeded to produce (copy and paste?) common talking points, not data.

    If they’re easy to refute, then why don’t you refute them for the benefit of the lurkers?

    Easy? They require long, time-consuming responses. I pick and choose subjects that I feel are worth my time. If lurkers want to see them refuted they have google and the archives on UD. Never mind that others felt the need to do so already.

  39. Is there a problem with this page? I had a comment that has not appeared.

  40. Well, if there’s “no way this kind of technology can be explained by random changes and natural selection,” I guess we should just give up now.

    That is equivalent to saying “Well, if there’s “no way lead can be turned into gold via chemical means,” I guess we should just give up on alchemy now.”

    Well, yes. You should, and that’s exactly the point. As far as I can tell, True Science did not end with the abandonment of alchemy, even though, I suppose, one could argue that we just didn’t try hard enough.

    Science advances when great minds are freed up from pursuing dead ends…

  41. I fourth that.

    I fifth that. Fifteen years ago I was a big fan of Dawkins and the other evolutionary materialists. A dozen years ago I became a Catholic and I was still a big fan of Dawkins and the other evolutionary materialists. It was groovy with me if God created an evolutionary universe which unpacked living potentiality via an elegant, simple process. Darwinism did not threaten my faith at all.

    Soon after it came out, I read Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box, which appealed greatly to my intuitions as a hardware/software design engineer. Reading the other primary ID books really drove home for me that Darwinism is a preposterous, unsubstantiated, hand-waving crock of a mirage of a theory.

    Note, though, that had I found it to be well-supported, it would have been no threat to my religious beliefs.

    But there is a very strong asymmetry in this debate. If Intelligent Design is likely true, then it is the atheist who is going to be having a very tough time–much, much tougher than the time I had being a theist and believing in Darwinism.

    Hence all the biased intransigence.

    Indeed, I think that Dawkins had it preciesly backwards, and that the real truth is:

    “Atheism makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled Darwinist.”

  42. Patrick wrote:

    Bzzt. Wrong. Your lack of basic knowledge is showing. Even your fellow Darwinists would object to deterministic natural selection being defined as a “chance hypothesis”.

    Like my fellow Darwinian Stephen Jay Gould, who wrote an entire book dedicated to the idea that natural selection is not deterministic?

    Or my fellow Darwinians who understand that mutations can be caused by non-deterministic quantum phenomena like cosmic rays?

    As for using the term “chance hypothesis” to describe the operation of natural selection, that is Dembski’s usage, not mine:

    Moreover, H, here, is the relevant chance hypothesis that takes into account Darwinian and other material mechanisms.

    If there is a “lack of basic knowledge” here, as you suggest, then it is Dembski’s. I’ll let you take it up with him directly.

    I pick and choose subjects that I feel are worth my time.

    If you decide not to offer refutations, that’s fine, but don’t expect us to assume that you can.

  43. Patrick, check out #16 where rib says quite clearly: “Natural selection is not the “accumulation of random noise”, as any biologist could tell you. Selection is highly nonrandom.”

    I think he just contradicted himself.

  44. I myself have had a horrible time trying to convince laymen evolution believers that natural selection is nonrandom. Just when I had hope rib understood that, he goes and mucks it up again. The problem I think is that all the propaganda says evolution is a random process. In fact, only part of it is random, and it is the first part. Random mutations and random selection of stepwise pathways happen first. Natural selection happens after that.

    Tell me if there is something wrong with this:

    Input – >
    Random operator – >
    Non-random operator – >
    Non-random output

  45. 45

    Rib: “Natural selection doesn’t require the existence of any unknown laws.” No, just the suspension of all credulity.

  46. Oops, you caught me in an error. “Deterministic” is not the word I was looking for; it was non-random. Darwinists typically object to natural selection being referred to as “random”. Which is true, it should not be since that does not tell the whole story.

    In any case, natural selection by itself cannot be a mechanism as you keep insisting with your non-answers:

    using the term “chance hypothesis” to describe the operation of natural selection, that is Dembski’s usage, not mine

    Read AND comprehend. In regards to biology, the chance hypothesis must include variation (of which there are many categories) and potential indirect stepwise pathways. Or in the case of OOL scenarios an unknown law. Dembski is NOT referring to just the “operation of natural selection”.

    You either lack basic knowledge or your writing and communication skills are lacking. The latter is excusable and I can honestly say that Dembski sometimes confuses the hell out of me. I would say that Behe and others are better communicators of their ideas.

    If you decide not to offer refutations, that’s fine, but don’t expect us to assume that you can.

    Already did several times over. Most of what you write is contained in an article called Arguments Not To Use which was created for people just like you. I suggest you read it.

  47. tragicmishap wrote:

    Patrick, check out #16 where rib says quite clearly: “Natural selection is not the “accumulation of random noise”, as any biologist could tell you. Selection is highly nonrandom.”

    I think he just contradicted himself.

    tragicmishap,

    You’re reaching. “Highly nonrandom” does not mean “deterministic”. If I had meant “deterministic”, I would have written “completely nonrandom”.

  48. I was referring to this statement of yours from #36:

    “Natural selection doesn’t require the existence of any unknown laws. And the chance hypothesis is natural selection — a known process.”

    I assume what you were trying to say was that what Dembski calls the “chance hypothesis” is not totally chance?

  49. I mean, you said yourself that the “chance hypothesis” is natural selection. I assume you merely mispoke.

  50. tragic wrote:

    I assume what you were trying to say was that what Dembski calls the “chance hypothesis” is not totally chance?

    Of course. Read Dembski again:

    Moreover, H, here, is the relevant chance hypothesis that takes into account Darwinian and other material mechanisms.

    “Darwinian and other material mechanisms” are not pure chance.

  51. So is the following an accurate picture of what you think?

    Input – >
    Random operator – >
    Non-random operator – >
    Non-random output

    Either way, please explain.

  52. Matteo wrote:

    Note, though, that had I found it to be well-supported, it would have been no threat to my religious beliefs.

    Except that your Bible quotes Jesus as having said “He who made them in the beginning made them male and female”. I don’t see how this can be construed as meaning that the creator made them in such a way that they eventually evolved (via mutations and what have you) into male and female after 100 million (pick a duration) years.

    I am not being critical of your position against Darwinism but I find it strange that you, as a Christian, insist that Darwinism does not conflict with your religious beliefs since one of the main goals of Darwinists is to remove the creator from the picture. By contrast, the Bible goes to great lengths to place the creator right at the center of it all. What gives?

    Let me add that, as a Christian, had I found that Darwinism is well supported, I would cease to believe in the accuracy of any scripture that maintained otherwise. At the very least, I would question my interpretation of scripture. Luckily, the chances of that happening are remote.

    Note also that I (along with many other Christians) am not a young-earth creationist primarily because the evidence for a very old earth is overwhelming. So I conclude that my intepretation of the word “day” in Genesis must conform to evidence.

  53. tragicmishap and rib,

    This semantics argument has taken place before. MacNeill for example prefers “non-foresighted” and I’m fine with that. Of course, it does not take into account all scenarios but I’ve already elaborated on that in the past:

    The only negative to using NFV is that it assumes Darwinism to be true if that term is used to encapsulate everything. For example, an intelligence may set conditions by which a pseudorandom function induces variation. So foresight would be involved in setting the conditions. NFV would be a subset of all mechanisms for variation, whatever that may be called.

    Also, while there’s obviously a certain level of plasticity in biology let’s say the Designer(s) designed the system to macro-evolve. As in, due to intelligently configuring the initial starting modular components NFV is all that is needed from then on. But if intelligence is initially required for NFV to begin to function how could you call the mechanisms NFV in the first place since foresight was obviously involved? BTW, this hypothetical scenario is a different type of “front-loading” in that the front-loading is concerned with “designed to evolve via (otherwise) undirected mechanisms” instead of an “unrolling of a specific front-loaded plan”.

  54. Mapou [52],

    Let me add that, as a Christian, had I found that Darwinism is well supported, I would cease to believe in the accuracy of any scripture that maintained otherwise. At the very least, I would question my interpretation of scripture. Luckily, the chances of that happening are remote.

    How remote? Beyond the UPB? Because that’s what happened with me. That would make the end of my faith a product of design!

  55. Dembski strenuously maintains that both complexity and specificity are required for the design inference to be valid. Simple probabilities, even beyond the UPB, are not sufficient.

  56. I don’t think Barry’s [i]2001[/i] analogy is a particularly good one for the ID controversy. Let me emend it as follows:

    Astronauts find a number of peculiar objects on the Moon, concerning which a controversy arises. Some say the objects were most likely produced by undirected natural processes; they say they have discovered some natural processes that they believe could plausibly have generated the objects, although they do not claim to have worked out all the specifics of how it happened.

    Others say the objects were designed and created by an unknown intelligent agent or agents, although in creating the objects the agent apparently used completely unknown technologies, and moreover the designer left no known traces other than the putatively designed objects.

    How would scientists propose to resolve the controversy?

  57. Patrick wrote:

    Read AND comprehend. In regards to biology, the chance hypothesis must include variation…

    No, because Dembski wants his “chance hypotheses” to encompass deterministic mechanisms as well as non-deterministic mechanisms. Otherwise, a certain event could give a non-zero CSI number, which would be nonsensical. In any case, a deterministic mechanism is just a chance hypothesis with a probability of 1, so there is no reason that it can’t be plugged into Dembski’s CSI formula.

    Dembski makes this same point in The Design Revolution:

    I approach chance and necessity as a probabilist for whom necessity is a special case of chance in which probabilities collapse to zero and one. (Think of a double-headed coin: what is the probability that it will land heads? What is the probability that it will land tails?) Chance as I characterize it thus includes necessity, chance (as it is ordinarily used) and the combination of these.

    So again, if you disagree, feel free to hash it out with Dembski.

  58. richard: “How would scientists propose to resolve the controversy?”

    Well maybe they could allow free and open debate on the issue and let the best idea win.

  59. So rib, show us some examples of Darwinism in action where the probability is one, but only if you prefer evidence to dialectic. Don’t let me hold you down.

  60. Patrick,

    “Bzzt. Wrong. Your lack of basic knowledge is showing.”

    &

    “You either lack basic knowledge or your writing and communication skills are lacking.”

    Is this sort of demeaning language really necessary? We can tolerate someone’s bad writing and bad arguments on this blog. Bad arguments and poor writing abilities does not mean that they should be demeaned or condescended. Please, let’s keep the conversations civil, and not belittle each other.

  61. rib,

    “If you decide not to offer refutations, that’s fine, but don’t expect us to assume that you can.”

    Do not get into your notion of what a person can or cannot do, it’s an affront on the person and not the argument. I won’t tolerate it.

  62. Clive,
    Patrick does tend to make some statements that could be considered somewhat inflammatory, for example

    Darwinists typically object to natural selection being referred to as “random”. Which is true, it should not be since that does not tell the whole story.

    Now, as we all know there is a very large non-random component to “Darwinism”. Selection is not random, it selects! So it perhaps might be no surprise when “darwinists”, all het up, call Patrick out on his, to them, outrageous statements.
    Patrick then goes onto quote himself

    Also, while there’s obviously a certain level of plasticity in biology let’s say the Designer(s) designed the system to macro-evolve.

    What level of plasticity is “obvious” in biology? Is there a correlation between a high/low plasticity with a system designed to macro evolve? These questions and more are prompted by Patricks statements and I think it’s only reasonable to allow him to answer or not, as the case may be. If by “I won’t tolerate it” you mean “I won’t allow Patrick to be called on his statements” then I’m afraid I’ll have to reconsider my participation here! Patrick has some fasinating things to say but I’d like to see him substantiate them some more, after all is he an admin and official spokesperson for this blog.

  63. PhilipBaxter,

    Your is not a valid complaint, there was nothing at all “wrong” with what you quote from Patrick–”wrong” in the sense that I mean, being rude or anything of the sort.

    Whether natural selection can do what people propose it to do, and the particulars relevant to that question, are at the heart of the matter, and that is pure argumentation, not rudeness or disrespect towards a person. If you don’t like what he has to say as far as argument goes, I’m sorry. You won’t convince me that there has been a transgression of any sort on those grounds. What I won’t tolerate is anyone making statements about another person instead of their argument.

  64. 14

    GilDodgen

    12/07/2008

    11:59 pm

    One thing is transparently obvious: DNA information encoding is only a small part of what is going on in biological systems. I suspect that living systems are encoded with a highly sophisticated, multi-parallel — indeed, multi-dimensional-parallel, essentially holographic — information system that is light-years ahead of our understanding of information encoding with digital, sequential-processing algorithms.

    highly sophisticated, multi-parallel — indeed, multi-dimensional-parallel, essentially holographic — information system?
    Something like activated DNA ?

  65. #57,

    I do not disagree with Dembski. I disagree with your misrepresentation of the subject matter, whether it be purposeful or not.

    #62,

    Now, as we all know there is a very large non-random component to “Darwinism”. Selection is not random, it selects!

    I think we agree, and I elaborated on this topic at length recently. I was taking issue with some of rib’s earlier statements, not attacking Darwinists!

    What level of plasticity is “obvious” in biology?

    Like not failing to “compile” on a single minor error in most cases. Systems retaining overall functionality with small variances in components. Body plans are not determined statically like an architect’s plan for a building but constructed algorithmically in some cases. Stuff like that.

    Is there a correlation between a high/low plasticity with a system designed to macro evolve?

    If the overall system is designed to be heavily modular the system could allow for “endless forms without end” with relatively simple changes in information. The best example that jumps to mind is the creature system in a video game called Spore. While the game is relatively simple the engineering that went into that system took many years.

  66. In any case, a deterministic mechanism is just a chance hypothesis with a probability of 1,

    What would be a design mechanism?

  67. tribune7 [67],

    What would be a design mechanism?

    How about

    Let us create man in our own image?

    Just kidding!
    But seriously, I thought ID was silent on mechanisms, and that ID worked by identifying moments where design was needed by showing that non-design pathways were inadequate or impossible.

  68. But seriously, I thought ID was silent on mechanisms, and that ID worked by identifying moments where design was needed by showing that non-design pathways were inadequate or impossible.

    Roy, I think that’s fair. So what would be a design mechanism with a chance hypothesis? It can’t be 1 because design can fail. OTOH, even a deterministic mechanism can “fail”, if some other deterministic mechanism skews the result.

    Do we conclude that chance rules and everything must be taken on faith and become fatalist?

    Or do we conclude that we never have perfect knowledge and hence must act on the most reasonable assumption?

  69. tribune7, I think the first option is incoherent, and I don’t think it boils down quite like that. Nonetheless, the second option sounds good to me. However, Barry’s original post completely conflates what is “logical” with what is “ideologically comfortable.” Given that, it seems optimistic to believe that we’ll agree on what constitutes a reasonable assumption.

  70. I think the first option is incoherent, and I don’t think it boils down quite like that.

    Of course it would if chance rules.

    Nonetheless, the second option sounds good to me.

    You and I are in agreement on this one :-)

    However, Barry’s original post completely conflates what is “logical” with what is “ideologically comfortable.”

    Roy, there are two Lazuruses in the Bible. One, of course, is the one brought back to life by Jesus as noted by Barry.

    The other is a begger who died

    Now, if someone would rise from the dead and warn you, would you listen? Read the passage to the end.

  71. tribune7, I’m not sure what you write has to do with science. In any event, I’m pretty sure the Lazarus story in John didn’t happen, because almost nothing in the Gospel of John seems historical. It’s a late Gospel and portrays a completely different figure of Jesus than the more historical synoptic Gospels. Nobody saw Lazarus rise from the dead, because the story is John’s invention.

  72. I’m not sure what you write has to do with science.

    Nothing directly, but Barry wasn’t writing so much about science but about human nature.

    It’s a late Gospel and portrays a completely different figure of Jesus than the more historical synoptic Gospels.

    You accept the other Gospels? :-)

  73. tribune7 [73], I think the Synoptic Gospels likely contain some things that happened and some things that Jesus said, but not a lot.

  74. tribune7 [73], I think the Synoptic Gospels likely contain some things that happened and some things that Jesus said, but not a lot.

    I’m guessing that some of the things you don’t think happened in the Bible are the miracles. Now, if you saw someone rise from the dead would you credit God?

    That’s one of the point of the Lazarus coming from the tomb. Many saw a clearly dead person come back to life and they still rationalized it away.

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