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The Upside of Amazon Manipulation

THE DESIGN OF LIFE is being shamelessly manipulated by the Darwinists at Amazon (go here). Not only are they posting negative reviews that give no indication that the reviewers have read the book but they are also voting up their negative reviews so that these are the first to be seen by potential buyers.

The following 1-star review, posted 8 hours ago, illustrates the Darwinists’ level of discourse at Amazon:

By E. Duran (San Jose, CA USA) – See all my reviews
I just finished reading this book without vomiting. I had to go back and read Darwin’s “Origin of Species” again to remove the bad taste out of my mouth.

This is the whole review, unedited and unabridged. Even more pathetic is that “44 of 50 people found the following review [i.e., Duran's review] helpful.” (As of 4:10pm CST, 20Dec07)

While such behavior by Darwinists may seem unjust, there are two upsides:

(1) As the saying goes, there’s no negative publicity. Sales are brisk, especially through www.thedesignoflife.net.

(2) I’ve been talking with the producers of EXPELLED (www.expelledthemovie.com) about making this book a companion volume to Ben Stein’s film.* Thanks PZ Myers, Wesley Elsberry, Peter Irons, and others for strengthening my hand in these negotiations.

———————
*Recall that Carl Zimmer’s THE TRIUMPH OF EVOLUTION was the companion to the 2001 PBS Evolution Series.

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113 Responses to The Upside of Amazon Manipulation

  1. Dr. Dembski:

    “We are bound to thank God always for you, as it is fitting… for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure… [these persecutions] are a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God [on your good work] – All who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

    1 Thes 1:3-5; 2 Tim 3:12

    And let’s not forget 1 Thes 1:6: “It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to those who trouble you.” May He trouble them enough to clear up their thinking!

    Gerry

  2. PS.

    I think it also helps to remember that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” There’s no point in getting mad at the pawns.

    Eph 6:12

    Put on your armor.

  3. 3
    EndoplasmicMessenger

    Well, I just added my own (5 star) review.

    But I hope that by now Amazon shoppers know that you can’t take the start rating seriously for any type of controversial book. I always look at the 1-star reviews to see if there are any intelligent, well-reasoned critiques. There are usually none. I have found that the number of 1-star trolls is proportional to the impact that the book is having.

    So Drs Dembski and Wells, you should be proud of the trashing that you are getting on Amazon. It means your book is getting people’s attention!

  4. Amazing to see the Amazon.com Sales Rank: at #6,013 with such negative reviews! Les Miserables are apparently taking notice. Whats news from the barricades?

  5. Any word on a UK release?

  6. 6
    sagebrush gardener

    I laughed out loud when I saw the tally of reviews on Amazon — 17 5-star reviews, 21 1-star reviews, and nothing in between! I have never seen such a polarized bunch of reviews.

  7. Trying to engage in discourse about of this polarization is like trying to argue with a drunk. There is little common ground on which to reason with a committed Darwinist. And among those that I have known, very few know why they are so committed, other than its socio-political status.

    If some Darwinist buys the book and ACTUALLY READS IT perhaps it will open his/her eyes. Otherwise the book sits on the shelf under the pretense of having been read – even if only thirty or so pages. Colleagues, seeing it on the shelf while at a cocktail party, inevitably assume it has been digested and discarded. How pathetic the game is. Their reviews are then considered authoritative.

    And so it goes.

  8. So I guess we can say that they are running scared :-)

    But, the truth has nothing to fear, right?

  9. I didn’t find the negative reviews funny in the least. I found them sick and twisted. One spoke of co-option, as if the case for IC is closed. Most just dismissed ID with frightening ignorance. Terrible! How can people be so insecure in their beliefs yet continue to believe in them???

  10. Considering what type of people that are criticizing the book Prof Dembski, you should consider the book a smashing success. Anything those critics like could only be the vilest distortions of truth. For the vast majority of reasonable people you have made an important contribution to science and the more important question about who we are. Thank you Prof Dembski.

  11. Thank God for our enemies.

    It certainly can’t be chance that they are so consistently unpersuasive :-)

  12. Pretty obvious most of the dolts on Amazon didn’t read the book. And anyone stupid enough to be swayed by their comments probably has no business buying the book anyway.

  13. Amazon should probably institute a policy that if you claim to have read a book, it should ask for the first few words on a random paragraph on a random page to verify the claim.

  14. I’ve submitted the following to Amazon’s customer discussions team.

    A huge spam Amazon “book review” campaign has been organized in the last 24 hours in an attempt to discredit the book, “The Design of Life.” It is clear that almost none of these people have read the book. Furthermore, they have violated Amazon’s published posting policies.

    Amazon needs to implement a policy of requiring all reviewers to use their real names and provide proof of having personally purchased the book, otherwise, Amazon book reviews will lose all credibility in the future.

  15. Gil says, “Amazon needs to implement a policy of requiring all reviewers to… provide proof of having personally purchased the book…”

    I think you’re falling into the trap of trying to legislate morality, Gil — with the usual, unexpected side-effects. What if, for example, someone borrowed the book from a library but wanted to encourage others to purchase it with a positive review?

  16. I think you’re falling into the trap of trying to legislate morality…

    Um, what else can you legislate, Gerry? That is what rules do isn’t it?

  17. I particularly enjoyed Matzke’s Amazon review, entitled “Worthless,” which goes as follows:

    ID has proven to be a religiously motivated psuedoscience. This book offers not testable hypothesis of the theory and therefor is worthless.

    That’s the entire review, and 251 out of 297 people found this review helpful.

    You’d think the dude would have at least fixed the typos before publishing such profound insight.

  18. I wrote a review on Amazon which should appear within the next 48 hours. It’ll be easy to spot. It’s the ONLY review that is neither 1 star or 5 star. I’ll leave y’all in suspense about what I wrote. You can read it when it gets posted there.

  19. 19

    A lot of Amazon.com readers do not understand that the question “Was this review helpful to you?” is supposed to mean “did the review tell you something about the book?” and not “do you agree with the reviewer’s views?”.

    So far, 941 of 1010 people found the following review by C. Kerstann (this is the entire review) to be “helpful” –

    Mindless drivel from the Discovery Institute. The book contains debunked creationist propaganda designed to please those who are to intellectually stunted to be able to understand the difference between science and magic.
    The reader will find no signs of intelligence in either biological systems or the author while reading this waste of what could have been fine toilet paper.

    Such a score on the question “Was this review helpful to you?” shows that these scores cannot be taken seriously. Amazon.com should stop its practice of posting high-scoring reviews as “most helpful customer reviews.”

    Because I thought that the book “Monkey Girl” was well written and well researched, my Amazon.com review of the book gave it four stars even though I disagreed with the book’s conclusions.

  20. #13

    Amazon should probably institute a policy that if you claim to have read a book, it should ask for the first few words on a random paragraph on a random page to verify the claim.

    That’s a very very good idea. It’s not possible to accept a situation where 5 stars reviews do reasonably follow reading and 1-star reviews do quite certainly follow nothing.

  21. What a pity. All those negative reviews have driven the Amazon.com Sales Rank from #6,000 up to #2,220!

    Les miserables must be reading those negative reviews. I wonder what would happen if we placed “The Design of Life” on a list of banned books?

  22. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

    Congratulations, Dr. Dembski. You’re making us all proud!

  23. What amazon ought to do is have a rule that if there is x ammount of 5 and 1 stars the outliers get thrown out- No book should be gettin half 5s and half 1s unless the movtivations are political-

    also the idea that you cn rate a review is shown here as an bvious waste of time- Im ok with rating reviews but that should not earn them a place at the prime review- I have always said – that the last review that is made should be the firs one up for the book- for god or bad- that allows honest people to post thwat they think and an almost fair shot for all- If i post a review 5 years ago why should what i said be on page one? Mkes no sense to me.

    On this web blog it is a differnt story though because you are often responding to the last post on the page and with the dialouge box at the bottom (where it should be) it is helpful to have that post right above the box – for easy reference-

    but amazon I have always thought and continue to think has a bad system-

  24. [...] UD complains of Amazon review fraud. Anyone with a book at Amazon criticizing Darwin knows the rigged game that goes on. I can understand the frustration at Uncommon Descent over Design of Life. [...]

  25. I have just ordered myself a new copy of this book. Hint: Do not under any circumstances order a “used” copy!!..

    “..while reading this waste of what could have been fine toilet paper.” — C. Kerstann – Amazon reviewer.

  26. funny, i wonder how many e.durans there are in sj, ca, cause i live there and happen to have grown up with one.

  27. 27

    Amazon.com offers a choice of two different orders of listing the reviews: “Most Helpful First” and “Newest First.” The order pre-selected by Amazon.com is “Most Helpful first.” Amazon.com is obviously placing too much faith in the scores on answers to the question, “Was this review helpful to you?”.

  28. I believe controversy and the resulting publicity tends to boost sales more than it hurts sales, especially if people sense that the negative/positive reviews are given more because it conficts with the reviewer’s personal beliefs than any serious attempt to evaluate the work in question.

  29. H’mm:

    I took a follow-up look at the reviews.

    The story is still the same as before: reactive negative reviews on one side, substantial ones that are recognisably actually book reviews — cf old Ms Green or whoever was your favourite English teacher — [and some responses to the reactions] on the other.

    Telling.

    ID Critic, IDC, tries to take opportunity to make a “devastating” case against ID.

    Let’s take up a few excerpts, as — though it does not actually address a review of the book, it is the closest to a substantial addressing of the book by a critic that I came across before giving up on the noxious smoke from burning strawmen:

    1] Intelligent Design (ID) starts with an unfounded assertion that design is that which remains once natural processes of regularity and chance have been eliminated.

    H’mm. IDC, kindly tell us whether or not what we routinely and generally observe stems from one or more of the causal factors: [a] chance, [b] natural regularity tracing to mechanical, law-like necessity, [c] agency?

    Or, did Plato et al or in more modern times, Monod et al get it wrong?

    2] available empirical evidence and logic suggests that there is nothing necessarily supernatural about intelligence. In fact, intelligent behavior seems quite well reducible to regularities and chance . . .

    The first part is right: empirically based inference to intelligence in action is not inference to the supernatural.

    H’mm, didn’t Dr Dembski say something like that, somewhere, sometime . . .

    Intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause? . . . Proponents of intelligent design, known as design theorists, purport to study such signs formally, rigorously, and scientifically. Intelligent design may therefore be defined as the science that studies signs of intelligence.

    Unfortunately, the second statement is not at all an empirically anchored fact, but an unproved core worldview level assumption, that of the self-refuting system of thought known as naturalism, or more descriptively evolutionary materialism. [Cf the discussion on this in the Darwin Thread, Aug 20, from 48 on. See how the materialist scheme of thought becomes dynamically impotent to account for a credible mind, and thence self-refutes.]

    We can simply ignore — as obviously inane — IDC’s reference in the rest of the second sentence to “polling, profiling, advertising and many other arenas.”

    3] Intelligence is in other words predictable and since intelligence has the ability to make choices given multiple options, there will be a certain level of variation or uncertainty present.

    H’mm I always thought Napoleon used to say that when you have an opposing general pinned down to one of two options, each bad, he will “predictably” choose the third one. That is the unpredictable option.

    IDC, FYI, the essence of intelligence is that it is rational, and so will follow logic in general, but also creative, and so is able to do the utterly unexpected and unforeseen.

    4] Since Dembski also argues that science as it exists right now rejects the design inference a-priori, it seems clear that Dembski’s design is different from the design detected by the sciences.

    A neat but futile attempt at the rhetoric of turnabout.

    In fact, IDC, inference to design is — as my own discussion identifies, as common as inference to signal/message in the face of noise. Where things get interesting is when the otherwise obviously valid inference to intelligence may cut across the agenda of the evo mat advocates. They they impose a radical, philosophically unjustifiable and historically ill-founded attempted redefintion of sicnece that says that in effect only entities compatible with the evo mat view may be adverted to in scientific work.

    In short, they are begging worldview level questions — as you exemplify.

    5] Dembski argues that if something can be explained as a regularity, its probability becomes close to 1 and the information goes to 0. But the same applies then to intelligent design. If something can be explained as intelligently designed, the amount of information is zero.

    This simply reflects the erroneous assertion already addressed under 3. In short the “contradiction” IDC sees in WD is of his own making, and reflects on his own erroneous logic, misunderstandings and evident disconnect from the real world of intelligent actors, especially those of us who have had to design complex things that have to WORK.

    [ . . . . ]

  30. 6] perhaps we can define the amount of information as the likelihood that the item arose under uniform probability? Under that scenario, something is `designed’ if it has a function and if its pure chance probability is too low. But then we still do not know if designed means `designed by regularity/chance’ or `designed by an intelligence’

    IDC, please, first of all, read some basic materials on information theory, perhaps even my modest summary in my always linked, section A, as just linked. If you had submitted something like the just excerpted in my Comms classes, you would have been given 0. [Let's just say my students had a saying when I turned up in class: "More work, sir!" I freely confess to being of the heavy workload school of thought on learning in college.]

    In the bolded part, IDC sets the essence of the EF in a context that is confused, the better to dismiss it. So, let us disentangle:

    –> We see an object which is functional, and evidently information-bearing.

    –> We ask, 1: is it contingent or the product of law-like natural regularity tracing to mechanical necessity of nature? If not contingent, then obviously necessity explains it and the object is not designed.

    –> On the alternative that the object manifests contingency [multiple possible outcome states for a given event], we ask 2: Is the object complex, i.e does the configuration space taken up by the set of possible outcomes require at least 500 – 1,000 bits to store? If so, it is complex in the sense relevant to the ID inference.

    –> We ask, 3: is the outcome specified, especially in a message-oriented or information-processing, functional sense. If so, the object exhibits functionally specified, complex information [FSCI, a relevant subset of CSI, and the subset IDC addresses] beyond the reasonable reach of chance acting alone on the gamut of the observed cosmos.

    –> We conclude, provisionally (as is true of all scientific reasoning) but confidently (and IMHCO, reliably):

    SINCE:

    [p] in all cases of directly observed origin of such FSCI the cause is intelligent agency,

    AND

    [q] on excellent grounds tracing to the principles of statistical thermodynamics [cf my always linked, app 1 section 6], this is likely due to the impotence of random-walk searches [including those functionally filtered before moving on to the next stage] on the gamut of the cosmos to find such islands or archipelagos of functionally specified complexity,

    THEN

    [r] We are well-warranted, on solid empirical and logical bases, to infer that such FSCI is the result of intelligent agent action, even in cases where we do not see the causal process in action directly.

    7] if chance alone does not explain it and if regularities cannot explain it (yet) then we have to accept `design’ as the default explanation. So `design’ includes anything from `intelligent designer’ to `an unknown regular process’.

    Let’s see: on this proposal, there is an unknown regularity of nature at the cosmic level that forces the emergence of FSCI-based life.

    That sounds like a very serious bit of organised, fine-tuned complexity at cosmogenetic level to me. What sort of agent could possibly be responsible for such?

    [And if the alternative chance across a quasi-infinite multiverse of proffered, we note that this is now an unobserved, empirically unanchored inference, at worldview level. So it has no right to censor out the alternative that an agent has made the cosmos as a fit habitation for life.]

    More seriously, we note that all scientific inferences are provisional. So, we will observe that we KNOW that agents routinely produce such FSCI. The inference to agents as the best, current, empirically anchored explanation for the nanotech of life as we see it, and thus also for the macro-level biodiversity as we see it, is an inference based on what we do know.

    What then, does IDC offer as a better explanation?

    A hypothetical natural regularity that forces the emergence of life. Without any empirical warrant.

    What sort of desperation in defence of a worldview-level commitment does this sort of blind faith and promissory note reveal?

    8] given Dembski’s logic, natural selection matches his definition of an intelligent designer. Once again we notice how ID fails to distinguish between apparent and actual design

    Of course, NS is in effect the fact that certain already functioning organisms survive and differentially reproduce better on average in their environment than competitor organisms.

    That explains the survival of the fittest, but not their arrival, which was the key issue in the first place. NS simply cannot be the DESIGNER. [Has IDC ever had to design and develop a serious system that used say a machine-language programmed microcontroller at its core?]

    9] since ID refuses to propose positive hypotheses, it is thus doomed to be unable to deal with the issue of apparent versus actual design in any scientifically relevant manner

    In fact, the design inference is a positive hypothesis,and provides a step by step process for inferring to agent action that is familiar to anyone who has ever had to do even a first course in statistical inference testing.

    Such as, say, those having at least a first degree in biology. So, the ever so prevalent willful obtuseness on this topic is inexcusable.

    But, perhaps, IDC means here that ID so far does not allow us to infer to the identity of the designer.

    The best away to look at that is to go back to IDC’s cite of Nichols’ excerpt from Dembski.

    WD: “even though in practice inferring design is the first step in identifying an intelligent agent, taken by itself design does not require that such an agent be posited. The notion of design that emerges from the design inference must not be confused with intelligent agency” (TDI, 227)

    In short, we use the design inference to recognise the credible existence of design.

    Now, in our background knowledge, design comes form the action of intelligent agents, without exception where we directly know the cause. But, epistemically, we are first inferring to design, then inferring onward to the agents that are the observed cause of the designs that exhibit FSCI.

    And, we may then onward ask about the candidates to be the designer, and what intents such candidates may have had.

    We could go on and on ad nauseum, but let’s cap off with this stunning bit of turnabout rhetoric:

    10] science has shown that information can in fact increase in a cell under purely natural processes of regularity and chance. Unable to eliminate chance and regularity, the design inference remains quite powerless. But all hope should not be abandoned, one can always move the origin of `information’ to an earlier time in history, such as the `first cell’ or if that does not work, to the origin of the universe.

    Here IDC first conflates mere increase of information storage capacity [easily done thought chaining of discrete state elements, e.g. a random polymer] with increments in functionally specified complex information beyond the UPB, 500 – 1,000 bits [e.g. the increment on the order of 100 mn functional DNA bases required to get the information to code for an arthropod at the Cambrian revolution, as Meyer aptly pointed out in his famous PBSW article].

    In fact, directly opposite to IDC’s second assertion in the teeth of the facts, the EF based on FSCI is fully and reliably capable of discriminating agency [as the presumed source of design] from chance and necessity on EVERY case where we do directly observe the source of the FSCI. To give just one instance, is IDC committed to the notion that this and all other posts here at UD in this thread, and in the Amazon reviews on DOL are the result of lucky noise, save of course his own?

    As my always linked, Section B shows in summary and with suitable excerpts, the third assertion here is the ultimate in chutzpah.

    For, in fact, it is notorious and plain that it is the evo mat OOL researchers who have found themselves in ever deeper despondency as they see more and more how complex the nanotech of life is, and they have not got ANY credible, robust model that passes the muster of the principles of statistical thermodynamics and information theory relevant ot the matter. [Cf also my always linked, App 1, esp. section 6.]

    CONCLUSION: Dembski wins, by a knockout.

    GEM of TKI

  31. kairosfocus:

    Great work on #29 and #30. It’s too bad that you don’t live in the United States. That way we could claim you as one of our national treasures.

  32. kairosfocus, in 29 said, “H’mm. IDC, kindly tell us whether or not what we routinely and generally observe stems from one or more of the causal factors: [a] chance, [b] natural regularity tracing to mechanical, law-like necessity, [c] agency?

    Or, did Plato et al or in more modern times, Monod et al get it wrong?”
    My first, and less important, comment is that the answer is unnecessarily overloaded with the question about Plato et al. That is, the first question isn’t right simply because Plato et al say it is, and the answer wouldn’t be more wrong simply because it conflicts with Plato et al.

    My next point, however, directly addresses your query. How can that even be answered with confidence? You specifically mentioned “routinely and generally observe”. That includes quite a lot of events that can typically explained with simple mechanics. For instance, we can see glass break when it falls. That breakage doesn’t necessarily require agency (even if mechanical explanations don’t exclude agency.) We also observe tides, diffraction, weight, color, erosion, planets, stars, etc. It is quite reasonable to claim that many (or most, depending upon how counted) don’t depend upon agency.

    What we can confidently claim is that agency isn’t excluded as a possibility, but other reasonable explanations exist for what we routinely and generally observe, barring, perhaps, some specific events.

    Did you mean something other than what I read from your point?

  33. Hi Q:

    I excerpt my linked on the observation of the three causal factors:

    _______________

    . . . the decision faced once we see an apparent message, is first to decide its source across a trichotomy: (1) chance; (2) natural regularity rooted in mechanical necessity (or as Monod put it in his famous 1970 book, echoing Plato, simply: “necessity”); (3) intelligent agency. These are the three commonly observed causal forces/factors in our world of experience and observation. [Cf technical, peer-reviewed, scientific discussion here. Also, cf. Plato's remark in his The Laws, Bk X, excerpted below.]

    Each of these forces, clearly, stands at the same basic level as an explanation or cause, and so the proper question is to rule in/out relevant factors at work, not to decide before the fact that one or the other is not admissible as a “real” explanation:

    CASE STUDY ON CAUSAL FORCES/FACTORS — A Tumbling Die: For instance, heavy objects tend to fall under the natural regularity we call gravity. If the object is a die, the face that ends up on the top from the set {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6} is for practical purposes a matter of chance. But, if the die is cast as part of a game, the results are as much a product of agency as of natural regularity and chance. Indeed, the agents in question are taking advantage of natural regularities and chance to achieve their purposes!

    This concrete, familiar illustration should suffice to show that the three causal factors approach is not at all arbitrary or dubious — as some are tempted to imagine or assert.

    However, some evidently believe, based on Kant and Hume, that in effect there is an unjustified worldview level basic assumption at work, rooted in the idea that in effect we can never know things as such [the noumenal world] but only as our senses and thought-world shapes them [the phenomenal world]:

    –> First, such a concept is self refuting; for, as F. H. Bradley aptly showed in his gentle but stinging opening salvo in his Appearance and Reality, 2nd Edn: “The man who is ready to prove that metaphysical knowledge is impossible has . . . himself . . . perhaps unknowingly, entered the arena [of metaphysics] . . . . To say that reality is such that our knowledge cannot reach it, is to claim to know reality.” [(Clarendon Press, 1930), p.1.] (The reader may also wish to peruse Mortimer Adler’s essay on “Little Errors at the Beginning,” here, on the underlying pervasive problem of such errors in modern philosophising.)

    –> Second, the idea that the design inference unwarrantedly assumes the existence of a designer at the outset is simply wrong-headed. For, we observe only that cause-effect patterns in general trace to one or more of chance, necessity, agency; i.e. the only assumption is that agents are POSSIBLE, not excluded before we look at the empirical data — we merely refuse to beg the question ahead of the facts.

    –> Then, we see that a highly contingent situation (such as: which face of a die is uppermost) is either chance or agency, not necessity. For, the outcome can take on a range of values, and we can observe the frequency distribution in that range. After that, we test for whether the observed outcome is (1) sufficiently improbable — i.e complex — and also (2) functionally specified, to warrant inference that it is caused by agency not chance. (For instance if the die in our game keeps on coming up sixes, to the benefit of one player, that strongly suggests sleight of hand and loading.)

    –> Fourth, on the broader issue of Fisherian vs Bayesian inference testing and Hume vs Reid on inference to design, Dr Dembski has presented compelling arguments here and here respectively. In desperately compressed summary, we go looking for alternative hypotheses only when we already have seen that there is reason to be suspicious [i.e Bayesian testing in effect assumes Fisherian as its context], and the explanatory filter provides a tool for objectively deciding that “suspicious enough.”

    –> Also, the inference to design is not simply a weak analogy, it is an inference to best explanation relative to what we know agents routinely do: generate FSCI, which in every observed case where we know the causal story directly is not the product of chance but of agency.

    –> For instance, DNA is a complex and functionally specified digital bit-string, just like the underlying code for this web page. The odds of getting to a functioning DNA string by chance, on the gamut of our observed universe, are negligibly different from zero. It is therefore reasonable to infer — absent imposition of arbitrary selective hyperskepticism or philosophically question-begging, historically unwarranted rules such as so-called methodological naturalism — that it is designed.

    Then also, in certain highly important communication situations, the next issue is whether the detected signal comes from (4) a trusted source, or (5) a malicious interloper, or is a matter of (6) unintentional cross-talk. (Consequently, intelligence agencies have a significant and very practical interest in the underlying scientific questions of inference to agency then identification of the agent — a potential (and arguably, probably actual) major application of the theory of the inference to design.)
    __________________

    And, Plato:

    Ath. . . . we have . . . lighted on a strange doctrine.
    Cle. What doctrine do you mean?
    Ath. The wisest of all doctrines, in the opinion of many.
    Cle. I wish that you would speak plainer.
    Ath. The doctrine that all things do become, have become, and will become, some by nature, some by art, and some by chance.
    Cle. Is not that true?
    Ath. Well, philosophers are probably right; at any rate we may as well follow in their track, and examine what is the meaning of them and their disciples.
    Cle. By all means.
    Ath. They say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art, which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . . . fire and water, and earth and air, all exist by nature and chance . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them . . . After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . . Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [i.e. mind], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body? . . . . if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise.

    ___________________

    Monod, of course, wrote a book on Chance and Necessity.

    That’ll have to be all for the moment!

    It’s Christmas Eve . . .

    GEM of TKI

  34. PS: Oops, the causal factors excerpt is here, in my always linked.

  35. PPS: In 30 above, Q, I explicitly addressed the explanatory filter, step by step. I therefore find your comment on situations commonly enountered in nature but not filtering out to exhibiting FSCI, puzzling in that light.

    Kindly, respond on the laid out logic, the OOL and body plan level biodiversity cases, the organised complexity of the physics of he cosmos as discussed in my always linked, and the parallels in [a] hypothesis testing and [b] inference to signal not lucky noise.

    Then we can move the matter forward productively in about three days — Boxing Day is my Wife’s birthday!

  36. kairosfocus:

    thank you for giving such a complete and brilliant answer to ID Critic’s posts at Amazon. I had read them, and I have read your answer and his “answers” to your answer, and my only reaction is frustration: ID Critic has at least the merit of trying to discuss, instead of just comdemning ID and an unread book out of mere arrogance. But his arguments are, indeed, mere arrogance, and they would require a long and detailed analysis which I have not the time or will to do. Luckily, you have answered the most important points.

    I want only to briefly comment about IDC’s idea of unjustified assumptions. Practically, he criticizes Dembski for assuming that agency exists, while he gives for certain that science has completely explained consciousness and intelligence as a mere combination of chance and necessity. From this “simple” assumption he derives all his absurd arguments, declaring confidently that if something is the product of agency, then it is the product of necessity and contains no information, and similar nonsense.

    I think we should inform Mario Beauregard that, as IDC states, agents are a mere combination of chance and necessity, and that science has demonstrated that, so that he can apologize for his brilliant book demonstrating the contrary. In the meantime, I will put an end to this “randon-necessary” post, and go back to my personal illusions of consciousness and why not, sometimes, intelligence.

    By the way, a merry Christmas to all!

  37. In #35, kairosfocus asks “Kindly, respond on the laid out logic,..”

    I don’t want to challenge your logic. I’m questioning your premises.

    You limited the query to what “we routinely and generally observe.” I suspect that we don’t agree on what it is that we routinely and generally observe. There was no additional scope or detail, so it is possible that we are interpreting that claim differently.

    The next premise I don’t fully agree with regards how far to drill down to gather our knowledge about causality. You asked “whether or not what we routinely and generally observe stems from one or more of the causal factors…” I claimed that many, if not most, of our observations can be explained with simple material causality.

    As you point out, and with which I fully agree, as we delve into those eplanations, we learn that our explanations are based upon assumptions that can’t be “proven” through “causal” means. In effect we learn that we don’t “know” what we know. That philosophical insight makes it clear that we can’t really claim that chance or regularity are the “true” causes of events. I also suggest that the same insight shows that we can’t know that this leaves agent as a cause either.

    In fact, the simple premise that “causality” even occurs is simply taken as faith. Philosophy shows that we can’t even prove that Descartes was right with his causality claim of “I think, therefore I am”. We are simply left with knowing that we don’t know nothin’ about nothin’.

    As you might see, once we remove the premise about how far to dig down in the philosophy, we learn that we simply can’t claim to know anything about causality. Even, I claim, whether an agent was involved.

    BTW, I wasn’t wanting to take up the mantle of arguing directly about your other points starting in post 29.

  38. Q, the idea that causality must be taken as faith is really not true. We know what the casue is that sets off the collapse of a long row of dominos for instance. The question that you claim is faith is the idea of ultimate cause- yet mondern science points to a big bang and indeed a singuar original cause. The point is that there had to be a prior entity that initiated that cause- if this conclusion is correct we can only imagine a casue that transcends the physical universe. This is not a mattr of fact it is a mater of specuation based on sound evidence- the leap towards an all mighty or intelligent God would require faith- and would require deduction in part through theology- but faith is not required to accept scienitifically the reality of causeality. All things once were- except to a point when all things ceased to exist.

  39. — call it a cause, call it an origin, but, nonetheless, at some point the laws of physics show that somthing set that chain dominos into action.

  40. Frost122585, must we assume that an intelligent designer’s existance was the result of causal actions? If not, then we have the conclusion that at least something could result without causality. If so, then we have nudged the origin, and actions, of the designer into the physical domain.

    If we are talking laws of physics, then I fully agree that causality is legitimately part of the process. But, Kairosfocus was delving beyond the laws of physics to the deeper understanding of chance, regularity, and agency, so I followed where it lead.

    Just as you indicate, and as I mentioned a few posts ago, I would prefer discussions of ID to stick with the observable laws of physics, and not invoke the philosophical arguments unless absolutely necessary. I think it unnecessary, and possibly counter productive, to build arguments of ID regarding what is happening in the real world by invoking arguments that are built upon questionable foundations. That is why I was questioning kairosfocus’ premises.

  41. All,

    I accidentally cross posted the first of these to the textbooks thread, pardon.

    I try to repost it here now, hoping the filter lets it though . . .:

    ++++++++++

    Greetings at Christmas!

    Look, today is a very special day, and I have on the sofa behind me an eager-beaver of a Little Kairosfocus (his own self-chosen title!), who is just napping and waiting for dawn to open his present from his indulgent “uncle” G. [I will be giving him and his older sister rather more pedestrian, though unusual, gifts!]

    And, the morrow is my wife’s birthday!

    So, any serious response is the day after that. (And, I think that we should all be having family time now . . .)

    I simply note briefly:

    1] I see that IDC has evidently responded to my note, over at Amazon.

    –> I will get around to it, but GP’s points are devastatingly revealing, once we apply basic principles of comparative difficulties across worldviews and address the usual selective hyperskepticism that such evo mat rhetoricians routinely use.

    2] I see Q is trying to challenge my “premises.”

    –> First, we directly observe agents in action, chance in action and natural regularities in action. So, I would love for him to analyse my case of a die tossed to say play a turn at Monopoly! (A great Christmas gift, that.)

    –> E.g., from the always linked and as already excerpted in its context:

    For instance, heavy objects tend to fall under the natural regularity we call gravity. If the object is a die, the face that ends up on the top from the set {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6} is for practical purposes a matter of chance. But, if the die is cast as part of a game, the results are as much a product of agency as of natural regularity and chance. Indeed, the agents in question are taking advantage of natural regularities and chance to achieve their purposes!

    –> I think that this illustrates just how complex cause is. And, that agent action is sigificant and qualitiatively different from chance and necessity.

    –> Think of the difference if the box has just been opened under the tree, and oops, it spills out, and the dice tumble out to a 7.

    –> That is very different from the case where in playing a game a bit later that day, that same relatively highly probable 7 would put you at Park Avenue with three hotels on it! “RENT!!!!!”

    –> Second, on in effect asserting and/or implying that agency reduces to/emerges from chance plus natural regularities in action, Q opens himself up to the major comparative difficulties challenge of the dynamical incoherence of evo mat in accounting for the origin and trustworthiness of the mind.

    –> This, I and others debated at length in the Aug 20 Charles Darwin, originally humourous, thread; cf. 48 on. So, Q cannot simply say he is challenging my premises and assume that that is good enough — or else he is simply committing selective hyperskepticism, aka intellectual suicide. [Onlookers, I think you will love the new appendix on the Lucy Pevensie school of epistemology!]

    3] In short, the issue does not go away so easily as playing selective hyperskepticism, but leads straight into a major comparative difficulties challenge for evo mat, as my note on the subject linked in the CD thread observed long since:

    materialism . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance. . . .

    –> Q, does this not fairly state your [for argument's sake?] position? If so, cf below. [If not, kindly distinguish, with at least and outline explanation. Consequences and CD issues follow.]

    –> Continuing . . .

    But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, what we subjectively experience as “thoughts” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (These forces are viewed as ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance and psycho-social conditioning, within the framework of human culture.)

    Therefore, if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence [NB my always linked, section A, on lucky noise . . .] — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them. And, if our materialist friends then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!

    –> Worldview level consequences follow:

    Thus, evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? And, should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze?

    –> Bottomline:

    In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic, and only survives because people often fail (or, sometimes, refuse) to think through just what their beliefs really mean.

    As a further consequence, materialism can have no basis, other than arbitrary or whimsical choice and balances of power in the community [aka "might makes 'right' "], for determining what is to be accepted as True or False, Good or Evil. So, Morality, Truth, Meaning, and, at length, Man, are dead.

    –> Q, methinks you have some serious answering to do, on both logic and premises.

    [. . . ]

  42. 4] Frosty has raised a very interesting point at 39:

    all it a cause, call it an origin, but, nonetheless, at some point the laws of physics show that somthing set that chain dominos into action.

    That brings up the basic worldview level issues posed in the following candidate inference to best explanation – and note this is now deep into Lakatos’ worldviews core at the heart of the way scientists working on a research programme’s belt of theories are thinking; these days, too often without having even a first base in serious phil of sci much less general phil:

    B. Cosmological inference:

    (NB: This appears out of the classical order, as IMHO it makes A far more clear if this is done, by distinguishing and rationalising “contingent” and “necessary” beings. This is an example of a cumulative argument.):

    1. Some contingent beings exist. (E.g.: us, a tree or a fruit, an artifact, the planets and stars, etc. — anything that might not have existed, i.e. is caused.)

    2. Contingent beings do not exist by themselves – that is in part what “contingent” means – so they require a necessary being as their ultimate cause. [note, here we are not committing to a finite temporal sequence, we need for instance a floor and a gravity field as well as a trigger for the chain of dominoes. Causes are at least simultaneous with the caused, and may act as sufficient conditions or necessary conditions. For the former, set them up and trigger , and the chain goes. For the latter, if they are absent, the chain cannot go. E.g. how we fight fires in light of the fire triangle: remove one or more of oxidiser, heat and fuel and the fire fails.]

    3. If any contingent being exists, then a necessary being exists.

    ________________

    4. Thus, [i,e by inference to best explanation, IBE for short]there exists a necessary being, the ultimate cause of the existence of the many contingent beings in the cosmos.

    A. Ontological:

    1. If God exists, his existence is necessary. (NB link to B.4 just above. God is here viewed as a candidate for the necessary being underlying the observed hugely contingent cosmos. This step can only properly be ruled out ahead by showing that his existence is impossible on logical grounds and/or across all possible worlds. Cf 2 immediately following.)

    2. If God does not exist, his existence is impossible.

    3. Either God exists or he does not exist.

    4. God’s existence is either necessary or impossible.

    5. But, God’s existence is possible (i.e. not impossible).

    _________________

    6. So, [on IBE] God’s existence is necessary.

    C. Teleological/design:

    1. Highly complex objects with intricate, interacting parts are produced by intelligent designers, at least so far as we can determine from cases where we do directly know the cause. [Q, kindly show us a counter example within our direct observation of its origin, where an entity exhibiting organised complexity involving functionally specified, fine-tuned, complex information [at least 500 - 1,000 bits of information storage created de novo] as a key component of its functioning has come to be by chance + necessity only without agent action. Event his thread alone is adequate to instantiate abundant illustrative cases of agent produced FSCI as a commonplace, regular observation.]

    2. The universe (and/or a specific part of it[3]) is just such a highly complex object. [Cases: the nanotechnology of cell-based life systems, the increments in FSCI required for origin of the sort of body plan diversity we see in the fossil record and currently, the organised, fine-tuned complexity of the physics of the cosmos as we observe it. Cf. my always linked for a discussion.]
    _____________

    3. Probably [i.e IBE no 1], it is the result of intelligent design.

    4. But, the scope/complexity of the universe [note this is tied to the genesis of the COSMOS, not to OOL, save by the link that the universe was set up to be a fit habitation for life so it is reasonable but a weaker inference to infer that life as we observe it on Earth probably directly traces to the Agent responsible for the cosmos] is such that only God could be its designer.
    _____________

    5. Probably [IBE no 2], there is a God.

    –> Now, this is not a claimed proof, it is a claimed inference to best explanation on comparative difficulties across competing live option worldviews. Above on the problems of evo mat shows in part why.

    –> To respond, it is not good enough to say that the premises are disputed – just about everything in phil is, starting with the definition of phil itself; one needs to point out what he credible alternatives are and how they stand up on factual adequacy, coherence [dynamical and logical] and explanatory elegance vs simplisticness or being an ad hoc patchwork.

    5] Q, at 40: I would prefer discussions of ID to stick with the observable laws of physics, and not invoke the philosophical arguments unless absolutely necessary. I think it unnecessary, and possibly counter productive, to build arguments of ID regarding what is happening in the real world by invoking arguments that are built upon questionable foundations. That is why I was questioning kairosfocus’ premises.

    As Lakatos pointed out aptly, scientific research programmes follow an architecture: a belt of theories, models and entities, surrounding a worldviews level core.

    And in a day when methodological naturalism is being used to imporoperly beg the question on inference to design, we have no responsible choice but to cogently address that phil-level core. [Cf my always linked, esp. the FAQs and primer articles at the end of the introduction.]

    Further to this point, I have at every stage in my participation in this blog, as just noted, ALWAYS linked to a regularly updated, responsible, detailed discussion of the issue across the domains of science ands onward into the phil issues, step by step.

    I therefore feel justified to state that I find it quite annoying to be dismissed as excerpted and highlighted above without a fair response on the merits to that.

    Nevermind.

    Happy Christmas to all, and a prosperous new year.

    GEM of TKI

  43. PPS: at 5:10 am LKF got up, and opened up his present from Uncle G! ;->)

  44. kairosfocus mentioned in 41 “First, we directly observe agents in action, chance in action and natural regularities in action.”

    I disagree with this statement as written. I argue that we see events, and infer that they were caused by agents, or chance, or natural regularities (or other causes, perhaps, but I’ll limit the discussion to these three.)

    We can never prove to the exclusion of all other options which is the cause of the event. Instead, we must limit the answer to that which best provides an answer, according to whatever criteria we choose to define “best”. For some scientists, the “best” answer could be that which most matches the set of data collected. For philosophers, the “best” answer may be that we will never know.

    If you instead mean that we directly see things that we infer are caused by agents in action, etc, then we could agree.

    I’m unsure why you are saying that the number on a die is somehow different if simply dropped from a box, or if rolled in a game. Aren’t you mixing the people’s interpretation of pips on the die with the actual pips on the die? Should we assume that the pips somehow change based upon the intent of the actors surrounding them?

    When you say that when the die is rolled “the results are as much a product of agency as of natural regularity and chance” aren’t you referring to the cause of the roll and not its results? I mean if the die is not loaded, and the roll is not controlled, so that the results cannot be predicted from the roll, then the agency (i.e the player’s action) is no longer relevant to the result. Random chance is all that relates to the result. Of course, it may seem nice to keep chance and agent separate, but randomness means that the results cannot be inferred from the agents actions.

    But, that is a materialistic/mechanical explanation. Philosophically they may be considered separately, and the argument made that a change in the agent’s action would have caused a different result. However, at the same time, the definition of randomness, i.e. of unbiased chance, says otherwise. If the roll is truly random, consistent arguments about agency and random chance indicate that no inference can be made on the result from the actor’s events.

    Do you want to suggest that no true randomness exists, and that the results of everything always has some bias to the chance?

    Also, I appreciate your interest in the many things you inferred from my post, i.e. your questions about worldview level consequences, hyperskepticism, origins of the mind, morality, etc. But, I don’t think that ID is so monolithic that all such topics need be addressed at the same time. Maybe we could address other points at a different time. Although you suggest that I “have some serious answering to do, on both logic and premises”, I’d rather focus on the premises about agency, chance, and regularity for now.

  45. All: (Esp. Q & ICD):

    After some fun with presents, and family time, including photo sessions, and a bit of ugly sleep, I decided to take a look here and at IDC’s attempted reply in a comment on his Dec 21 “reviuew” over at Amazon.

    I see there is considerable rhetorical overlap between Q’s and IDC’s remarks, and will make a note or two to both.

    1] Q, 44: I argue that we see events, and infer that they were caused by agents, or chance, or natural regularities (or other causes, perhaps, but I’ll limit the discussion to these three.)

    Let’s see:

    It’s Christmas Day, and LKF takes out a brand new Monopoly set, and in taking it out, out tumble the dice, rolling to a 7. Then, a little later, his Uncle G in playing with him — all of this is fictional but in principle possible, of course — and in playing tosses the dice and oops, a 7 lands him on Park Place, with three Hotels on it. Triumphantly, LKF cries out “RENT!”

    Onlookers, I contend that we have seen agents in action here as causal factors [and chance and natural regularities], on good old fashioned common sense.

    I further contend that Kantian-style stuff on phenomena shaped by our minds so that we can never access the world of things in themselves is self-contradictory and self-defeating. For, to have the claimed knowledge that we cannot access the world of things in themselves, is to immediately imply direct knowledge of that allegedly inaccesible external world. Thirdly, we plainly do see events, and in so seeing these events, we can see causal factors in action, as just described.

    Of course, as GP hinted at above, some evo mat advocates infer that our minds are in the end playthings of unconscious, material forces, ultimately tracing through chance and necessity back to the origin of the cosmos. But, as I showed in 41, that boils down to self-refutation of evolutionary materialism.

    2] . . . or other causes, perhaps, but I’ll limit the discussion to these three

    I note under a second head, that Q raises the ghostly prospect of causal factors not analysable to chance and/or necessity and/or agency. It suffices to comment, that he has not exemplified such, and to note that this is for the excellent reason that he evidently cannot do so but hopes to rhetorically cloud the analysis with vague unknowns.

    Well, it is an empirical commitment of the ID position in science, that we may reduce causal factors to chance, necessity and agency, Q. It is also a long since observed commitment of many philosophers, and in more recent times, it is an underlying framework for statistical inference. This, I have elaborated in the discussion of the explanatory filter.

    So, feel free to empirically and credibly identify a counter-example. [That is, here is a point of falsifiablility for design as a theory of inference to causal pattern!]

    3] We can never prove to the exclusion of all other options which is the cause of the event. Instead, we must limit the answer to that which best provides an answer, according to whatever criteria we choose to define “best”.

    This is true of all science, as an exercise of fallible men. Indeed, this is part of why falsifiability and more broadly testability are held to be epistemic virtues of scientific theorising, observation and experimentation.

    To cite this as a specific objection to design thought accomplishes two things: [a] it shows just of ill-founded is the commonly encountered slogan that “ID is not falsifiable/testable,” and [b] it shows Q resorting to selective hyperskepticism.

    4] Should we assume that the pips somehow change based upon the intent of the actors surrounding them?

    If this were not so sad, I would laugh.

    For, we have a simple, plain, easily observed case of chance, necessity and agents in action, and Q cannot simply and directly address what his “lying” eyes [and the mind/common sense his evo mat views tells him is a delusion] are telling him.

    Namely, that agents are capable of manipulating the natural regularities and chance processes of the world in the pursuit of their meaningful ends. In so doing, they generate meaningful patterns of data, structured into informational frameworks that fit functional patterns.

    Just think of the information stored on the board, much less inferrable from the patterns of structured behaviour and creative action of the agents playing the game! Not to mention, their reliance on the ability to accurat5ely perceive the external world and to think logically and act to one’s purposes in a coherent and logical fashion as say Game Theory will allow us to analyse.

    Here, FSCI and its source are visible in the playing of a game, including in the tossing of the dice to control how the moves are made and their consequences. Surely, this is functionally specified and complex information!

    In a more serious case, like a heat engine, the generation of motive power from the random thermal agitation of suitable gaseous molecules heated through combustion of a fuel, and fitted into the natural regularities harvested to structure an energy converter. And, in so doing, we repeatedly and routinely see FSCI showing itself as a characteristic sign of agency in action. If your car engine is giving trouble, you may also see irreducible complexity in action the expensive way. In each of these cases, we see organised complexity in action, and observe its close connexion to agents.

    So, now, ecxtend to the three main situations addressed in my always linked, and more broadly by design theorists: the highly informational nanotech of life at cellular level, the increments in such FSCI required for body-plan level biodiversity,a nd the organised, fine-tuned complexity of the observed cosmos.

    5] I mean if the die is not loaded, and the roll is not controlled, so that the results cannot be predicted from the roll, then the agency (i.e the player’s action) is no longer relevant to the result . . . it may seem nice to keep chance and agent separate, but randomness means that the results cannot be inferred from the agents actions.

    Onlookers, observe the subtle difference between what I noted and how Q cited that ‘when the die is rolled [omitted, crucial context: TO PLAY A GAME] “the results are as much a product of agency as of natural regularity and chance”’

    Let’s roll the tape, yet again:

    For instance, heavy objects tend to fall under the natural regularity we call gravity. If the object is a die, the face that ends up on the top from the set {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6} is for practical purposes a matter of chance. But, if the die is cast as part of a game, the results are as much a product of agency as of natural regularity and chance. Indeed, the agents in question are taking advantage of natural regularities and chance to achieve their purposes!

    In short, we again see selective hyperskepticism, to try to blunt the obvious: we see chance, necessity AND agency in action, and each is not reducible to the other two. In particular, here we observe that agents use chance and regularities to fit situations to their PURPOSES, i.e a functional, evidently goal-oriented pattern.

    I leave it to the astute reader to see that it should be plain that there is a very different situation when the same dice are dropped, by LKF or anyone else for that matter, “by accident.” (We can play a very old courtroom game: accident, suicide or murder . . .]

    6] randomness means that the results cannot be inferred from the agents actions. But, that is a materialistic/mechanical explanation.

    And, in context, the agents USE that randomness to fit into their own purposes. The materialistic focus on the fact of an effectively random result — as per Laplace criterion — blinds one to the otherwise obvious context, of agent action.

    With this background, let us turn to IDC . . .

    [ . . . ]

  46. 7] IDC, commenting on his post at Amazon: Kairosfocus makes the same mistake as other ID proponents, namely claiming that agency is a separate category from chance and regularity. Of course, IDers are free to make such claims but when looking at scientific applications of agency we notice how it involves chance and regularity explanations such as means, motives, opportunity, and eye-witnesses, circumstantial evidence and physical evidence to build a compelling case. In other words, agency is nothing different from chance and regularity.

    See the direct parallel failure?

    Also, observe how neatly IDC side-steps explicitly addressing the key “circumstantial evidence” and “physical evcidence” issue that agents routinely leave empirical traces of their actions, i.e. organised complexity, often seen as FSCI. For, it is precisely the presence of functional, information-bearing patterns towards credible goals that would otherwise be vastly improbable that fingers agent action in forensic, archaeological or similar scientific situations.

    In that context, motive, means, and opportunity are obviously factors relating to purpose.

    On the nanotech of the cell, we can see:

    –> MOTIVE: the goal to be acheived; creation of life.

    –> MEANS: using the forces (natural regularities and chance phenomena such as diffusion) and materials of nature [especially carbon chemistry] to design and implement the DNA- RNA- enzyme- ribosome- metabolism and associated technologies of life.

    –> OPPORTUNITY: for one instance, for the sake of argument, time — say 3.8 BYA, place: the earth.

    –> Empirical evidence: the observed resulting otherwise maximally improbable [on the gamut of the observed cosmos] nanotechnology.

    ONLOOKERS: Observe as well the highlighted question-begging at the end, and the associated failure to address the precise point of the explanatory filter, i.e that it helps us see empirically that we are dealing with FSCI which is otherwise maximally improbable on undirected chance + necessity.

    8] Ignoring the fallacious claims of materialism being impotent to account for a credible mind . . .

    Okay, then why not simply show us HOW this claim is “fallacious,”? [In short, this is a dismissal not a cogent rebuttal, and on a subject where in fact the materialists are as a matter of easily observed fact unable to account for or even in many cases simply admit to the reality of mind.]

    9] Kairosfocus understands that his position is not one of science but philosophy.

    Onlookers, observe: I have put the science in its philosophical context,and have explicitly identified that the explanatory filter is an application to a “novel” case of a well-proved, commonly applied mechanism of inference used in scientific contexts.

    In short, a red-herring, leading out to an oil-soaked strawman that is about to be ignited to cloud and poison the atmosphere . . .

    10] In other words, the claim by ID that design is that which remains once we have eliminated known (and unknown) processes of regularity and chance, fails to show that the remainder is either the empty set (when all known and unknown processes have been eliminated), or ‘false positives’ when not all unknown processes have been eliminated or ‘the supernatural’ which cannot be captured by natural processes of regularity and chance.

    –> H’mm: observe 1: the actual fact that we routinely see chance, necessity and agency in action is dodged, to try to cloud the atmosphere with the burning smoke of the philosophical strawman.

    –> Notice, 2: how we see not trace of the little die example, much less the more relevant one of the nanojets-assembly by chance plus necessity vs agency [i.e a version on Maxwell's Demon], from my appendix 1 section 6, which I explicitly and repeatedly have pointed to and even sometimes linked.]

    –> See, 3: the resort to the promissory note to subvert the inference to the best current, empirically anchored explanation, and the onward implication. Namely, that so soon as empirical evidence does not suit the evo mat cause, the threadbare claim that their reasoning is firmly anchored in science is abandoned.

    –> And see again, 4: we see the idea that nothing [i.e the empty set] is an effective causal force.

    –> Look at 5: the notion of a false positive on the explanatory filter is trotted out, without being able to give a single case in point where we directly know the causal story and can see that agency was not involved in generating FSCI. Empirical data being inadequate to support evo mat, it is hastily abandoned in favour of burning handy, favourite strawmen.

    –> Which brings us to 6: ” ‘the supernatural’ which cannot be captured by natural processes of regularity and chance.” (Oh, we cannot allow a Divine foot inthe door! Or, any sign of agency — i.e of mind.)

    –> Indeed, it seems that “mind” here neatly fits IDC’s stricture against “the supernatural” i.e irreducibility to chance + necessity.

    –> So, in effect he is forced to deny the mind and its characteristic feature, real, thinking, logical and creative AGENCY. And once we do that, we are right back at the self- stultifying nature of evco mat on accounting for the emergence of the mind evo mat advocates have to use to think evo mat thoughts and hold them to be credible not the mere noise thrown off by chance plus necessity in action.

    All this, because IDC cannot see that agency is an empirically observed cause not reducible to chance plus necessity as is easily observed and as has again been discussed by way of a very reasonable thought-experiment above.

    11] [going back to the original "review," to respond to a challenge, on no 29 above, point 5]: Dembski argues that if something can be explained as a regularity, its probability becomes close to 1 and the information goes to 0. But the same applies then to intelligent design. If something can be explained as intelligently designed, the amount of information is zero.

    Now, we have here a long blog thread, and over at Amazon, 55 or more by now reviews, that may reasonably be inferred to be the product of agents in action. So, let us analyse:

    a] Is it reasonable to infer that these constitute intelligently designed actions? YES.

    b] Is it reasonable to infer, then, on IDC’s interpretation of Dembski’s remarks, that “the amount of information is zero” in these remarks? OBVIOUSLY, NO.

    c] Indeed, we can estimate the number of bits required to store the information, and it vastly exceeds the 500 – 1,000 bits that make the information sufficiently complex that on the gamut of the cosmos, the odds that such FUNCTIONALLY specified, complex information could arise by chance + necessity only are negligibly different from zero.

    d] Thus, the “interpretation” of Dembski’s explanatory filter is obvious nonsense. And it is produced by the confusions and contradictions in IDC’s mind, not an objective ands fair reading of Dembski.

    In short, contempt is here the father of absurdity and self-refutation for IDC. His very own work reflects the precise sort of functionally specified complex information that agents routinely produce and which in ICT contexts we routinely use to infer to intelligent agent originated signal/message, not “lucky noise.” But, in his contempt for ID thinkers and haste to score rhetorical points, he cannot see that he has twisted what Dr Dembski wrote into an utterly unrealistic strawman.

    Triumphalistically and insistently burning that strawman only serves to show up the absurdity in IDC’s own position.

    And, again, that’s enough for now . . . the absurdities of the evo mat view on the inference to design are more and more apparent as they, however reluctantly, are forced to actually articulate and try to defend their position.

    GEM of TKI

  47. PS: Ironically, the head of IDC’s review at Amazon reads: 169 of 188 people found the following review helpful

  48. Q,

    must we assume that an intelligent designer’s existence was the result of causal actions?

    You are asking a very different question now. Now you have gone from ultimate and impractical skepticism of our ability to understand or infer design or agency- to – the “who the designed the designer” question.

    Here is why (and I suspect you know that you did but if not here is why) When it comes to physics you say “Ok. No problemo. I agree that causality is realistically an inevitable existing necessity” – and you are right to say this because the only other way one can explain the universes (or anything for that matter) is to say it just “is” or “has” always existed. Unfortunately the scientific evidence for the big bang and particle physics shows that all things are in a constant state of relative motion. In other words, there is no ether- no reason to suspect singularity can exist without causality some prior causality up until the big bang which is the mysterious first cause..

    Now, given that we can establish that causality is at least in this universe a necessary condition for the adequate explanation of any known event- baring hyper skepticism or the problem of induction which neither is evidence for or against agency- you have merely pushed the problem of inferring agency back by begging the unanswerable question of the causality of the designer- or the who designed the designer question-

    As in the WDTD question, there is no way of knowing unless you can specify who or what properties the designer is composed of. Design inferences (on the contrary) are based upon the physical known universe and its cause and effect structure, not the speculative or transphysical or metaphysical reality that exists solely in the mind’s conceptions of all possibilities. Thus this is the biggest problem with Darwinism, that once we leave the realm of real experience (what we know objectively or highly probabilistically) and venture exclusively into the imagination of the skeptic we loose all touch with reason.

    Now, however, instead of dodging the question- I will answer the “can we know what caused the designer” question.

    The answer is that given that all KNOWN cases of SC in the KNOWN universe are the result of greater SC and an ID – we can thus deduce that the unknown designer would more than likely have a designer- or be the result of greater SC- than to have no causality.

    To push the problem back does not eliminate our experience or our evidence.

    While the likely answer based upon direct observation is “the designer must have had a designer” the fact that that designer could or probably would (given the mystery of the big band) exist outside of the universe would then logically open the possibility that it does not obey the laws we are familiar with and is thus not held up to the same scrutiny that we apply to “interuniversal” or known physical phenomena – in which case the designer may not ever be compatible with the concept of causality.

    This is logically consistent. To posit that there is good reason to think that the known universe (or things inherent in it) are the product, ultimately, of non-causality would go against all of the evidence. ID is about what we can infer about the physical universe using our brains- not what we can infer about the unknown universe and no regress no matter how infinite is going to change it.

  49. Frost12285, if the discussion is limited to the real world, I agree with you. If the discussion expands into the philosophical domain regarding what we can “know”, as I understood the theme of kairosfocus posts, then the observation of causality must be understood to be an inference.

    I didn’t really mean to enter into the WDTD discussion. However, as you said, analysis based on real world observation leads one way, but purely philosophical analysis may allow other options that do not depend upon causality.

  50. Footnote:

    On the way back to bed . . . and seeing that insomnia has company on Christmas night . . .

    1] Who designed the designer?

    ANS: If the designer was CAUSED — i.e is a contingent being with a beginning, and exhibits FSCI, the designer was in turn designed.

    But, ANS 2: we have only addressed one class of possible being. There is an other class to be reckoned with.

    That is, . . .

    2] What about a necessary being?

    As just captioned, there is the whole issue of the chain and matrix of contingent beings in our observed cosmos pointing to a NECESSARY BEING, as discussed previously.

    Thence . . .

    3] Empirically anchored inferences on the cosmis scale . . .

    On the further issue that the observed cosmos shows empirical signs of agency in its origin, we should consider that the empirical evidence suggests that the cosmogenetic agent is just that, an agent.

    Also, since we are interested in worldview level questions, not just scientific ones, we may then look at the possibility that such an agent, may well be the necessary being pointed to by the chain and matrix of causality and contingency in our observed cosmos.

    GEM of TKI

  51. Q, terminological exactness- “an inference”

    I agree.

    Yet inferences carry as much weight when we are discussing the unknown as deductions do when we are discussing the known-

    While I agree I would only ad that calling it all an inference is moot when dealing with the unknown- in that if the weight of the total evidence heavily supports one premise or conclusion- that inference should be taken into consideration in the full weight of its importance and integrity. Just calling somthing “metaphysics” or “philosophy” of sorts is moot when a discussion has real philosophical aims (be it the seach for truth or synthesis etc).

    And this conversation is very much philosophy as just about all discussions of all things are-

    While the evidence points in one direction- I agree that a free mind has the privlege to adopt alternative perspects especially when dealing with arguments, observations or conclusions that lie in the realm of, I would say “moderate”, induction.

  52. 1] Who designed the designer?

    What was before the Big Bang? Prove it. Where did the multiverses come from? Show conclusive empirical proof.

    There is a limit to the mind of man and faith is required to function. Those who understand this are much more productive (compare Kelvin to Sagan) and more pleasant.

    “Do not be afraid of being free thinkers! If you think strongly enough you will be forced by science to the belief in God, which is the foundation of all religion. You will find science not antagonistic but helpful to religion.”
    –William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin.

    And a belated Merry Christmas, KF.

  53. Hi Trib [And Q . . .]:

    Many happy returns to you. And. a prosperous new year!

    To you all . . . [including lurkers; that includes you, IDC].

    Now, on a follow-up point:

    Q in 44: If you instead mean that we directly see things that we infer are caused by agents in action, etc, then we could agree . . .

    I must disagree, for several reasons:

    1] Agent casusation is one of our most direct experiences:

    –> Q, let’s begin with the effort you made to reply at 44 etc. Inter alia, you read and thought about what had been posted earlier, then registered to post, typed up and submitted your own reply.

    –> You acting as agent, therefore were a CAUSE of the response at 44.

    2] Indeed, the full apparatus of agent causation as analysed by say Aristotle et al, was in play:

    a] A Purpose. You wanted to reply to promote your own view. Final cause, in classical terms.

    b] You required and used material means [materials and forces of nature] to be able to do so. Namely, PC, keyboard and mouse, internet connection, etc. Material cause, a necessary but not in this case sufficient, condition. (This has in it of course, the natural regularities and the chance based processes embedded in such technological systems; e.g. the springiness required by keys for them to make temporary contact and return to rest so we can type messages, and the diffusion that is so integral to the workings of solid state transistors, diodes etc.)

    c] Actuation. The keys you pressed in sequence triggered keyboard scanning circuits and software, to feed the keystrokes into buffers, thence the wordprocessing subroutines that display on the screen, etc. Efficient cause.

    d] You, as a conscious, intelligent actor who created a message that exhibits FSCI well beyond the 500 – 1,000 bit threshold where, on the gamut of the cosmos we observe, there would be only a maximally unlikely probability that lucky noise in the PC and/or internet, or random actuation of keys, could have generated such a message. First cause.

    3] I put it to you, that this is no mere “inference” based on sensations and phenomena, it is a reliable contact with the real world as it is, one that I daresay you routinely rely on.

    –> One that, moreover, relies for its effect, that you have a decision-making mind that can trigger the natural actuators, your hands and speech centres, leading to the messages that we observe.

    4] Furthermore, you also see through the process, that you OBSERVE reliable material chains of cause-effect through the actuation required for the message to be typed in and eventually posted.

    5] Thus, considering the PC as a system tied to a network, we see inputs of energy and information-bearing messages that were processed through carefully and complexly organised, finely tuned, functional, information-bearing elements, which trace to agents also.

    [That is why you paid the agents for the privilege of licensing their software and owning their hardware. Your actions betray quite real beliefs and knowledge, which conflict with your professed ones . . .]

    6] Thus, agency and its causal power is a matter of your direct experience. So are causal patterns tracing to mechanical necessity and chance processes.

    7] In short, the experience in our little die-tossing example is not an easily brushed aside “exception,” but a part of a reliable, repeatable picture of how the world works:

    heavy objects tend to fall under the natural regularity we call gravity. If the object is a die, the face that ends up on the top from the set {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6} is for practical purposes a matter of chance. But, if the die is cast as part of a game, the results are as much a product of agency as of natural regularity and chance. Indeed, the agents in question are taking advantage of natural regularities and chance to achieve their purposes!

    8] is the inference to agency on observing other people in action [and possibly Kzinti or Vulcan or or residents of Area 51 (wondered where Uncle Sam is getting all that high tech from?) or demons or gods or God] therefore a suspect, dubious, ill-founded act of reasoning?

    –> Plainly, not.

    –> For, we have by direct experience of it, got an insight on the possibility and actuality of agency, and indeed to act into the world as reasoning entities, we rely on our own agency.

    –> When therefore we see other entities exhibiting creative, reasoning — as opposed to merely biologically or socio-culturally programmed action [cf the breakdown of evo mat on this as discussed in 41 point 3 above and in onward linked threads and web pages] — we have excellent reason to hold that the belief in their intelligent agency is sufficiently well-warranted and credibly true that we may confidently term it knowledge.

    –> In short, we KNOW cause fromt he inside out, and that chance, natural regularities and agent actions are three commonly encountered causal factors.

    9] One thing I confidently affirm we have never seen: a caused entitiy or situation that has happened based on NOTHING [no space, time, matter, energy, information, or mind etc] as a causal factor.

    10] Likewise, the ascription that there are other vague and undefined potential factors out there is a resort to counter-experiential assertion in the teeth of reliable and abundant, indeed unexceptioned experience of the three easily observed causal factors. Namely, [a] chance, [b] lawlike natural regularities tracing to mechanical necessity, [c] agents.

    11] Likewise, it is easy to confirm that organised — especailly fine-tuned — complexity, showing itself in functionally specified, complex information, is a regularly observed, reliable characteristic empirical trace of agents in action.

    12] So, to infer on best explanation to such agents on observing FSCI is not a dubious philosophical move, it is a plain and well-warranted application of a central aspect of scientific methods.

    –> Of course, that has in it philosphical issues and aspects. The same ones that obtain for any significant piece of scientific work.

    –> So to make the objection that the reasoning employed in the design inference is suspect because it infers to best current, empirically anchored explanation is selective hyperskepticism.

    –> the inconsistency in thought thus exposed, leads to self refutation of such selective skeptical objections.

    GEM of TKI

  54. PS: Passed by ID Critic’s comment thread at Amazon, for a follow-up look. It is up to “185 of 205 people found the . . . review helpful.”

    A sadly typical example was Dave Wisker’s remark:

    Excellent review, and followup comments. What truly grated on me was how, in the chapter on Irreducible Complexity, they basically admit they have no empirical evidence for the design of the flagellum specifically, then chide the Darwinists for having no empirical support for plausible Darwinian pathways to the flagellum. Yet, all the while Pallen and Matzke’s paper in Nature Reviews Microbiology last year–which provides plausible Darwinian pathways and mechanisms for the evolution of the flagellum–sits in libraries, silent testament to the scholarship of Dembsk and Wells.

    Here is the relevant abstract:

    The bacterial flagellum is a complex molecular system with multiple components required for functional motility. Such systems are sometimes proposed as puzzles for evolutionary theory on the assumption that selection would have no function to act on until all components are in place. Previous work (Thornhill and Ussery, 2000, A classification of possible routes of Darwinian evolution. J Theor Biol. 203 (2), 111-116) has outlined the general pathways by which Darwinian mechanisms can produce multi-component systems. However, published attempts to explain flagellar origins suffer from vagueness and are inconsistent with recent discoveries and the constraints imposed by Brownian motion. A new model is proposed based on two major arguments. First, analysis of dispersal at low Reynolds numbers indicates that even very crude motility can be beneficial for large bacteria. Second, homologies between flagellar and nonflagellar proteins suggest ancestral systems with functions other than motility. The model consists of six major stages: export apparatus, secretion system, adhesion system, pilus, undirected motility, and taxis-enabled motility. The selectability of each stage is documented using analogies with present-day systems. Conclusions include: (1) There is a strong possibility, previously unrecognized, of further homologies between the type III export apparatus and F1F0-ATP synthetase. (2) Much of the flagellum’s complexity evolved after crude motility was in place, via internal gene duplications and subfunctionalization. (3) Only one major system-level change of function, and four minor shifts of function, need be invoked to explain the origin of the flagellum; this involves five subsystem-level cooption events. (4) The transition between each stage is bridgeable by the evolution of a single new binding site, coupling two pre-existing subsystems, followed by coevolutionary optimization of components. Therefore, like the eye contemplated by Darwin, careful analysis shows that there are no major obstacles to gradual evolution of the flagellum.

    Of course, that “only” immediately puts one well beyond the UPB. So, this is a matter of brazening it out on just-so stories while ignoring/brushing aside the real issues at stake:

    –> Where do functional proteins and associated DNA information to cover an average of 300 20-state elements/ 900 4-state elements — i.e a config space in the relevant information string instance of ~ 7.15*10^541 cells corresponding to the fine-tuned [sensitive to random perturbation] system — come from [i.e the FIRST relevant proteins]?

    –> How can these co-adapt spontaneously to form novel functional architectures that rely on key-lock fitting mechanisms? [Ever had to assemble even a bicycle for Christmas? Would shaking up the box containing ALL the parts do it on the gamut of the observed cosmos?]

    –> more to the point, the cellular processes are of algorithmic character. Is it credible that random changes will spontaneously generate the required isolated- in- config- space adjustments to the information-processing structures and programs? [Or would they not be astronomically more likely to destroy functionality?]

    –> By contrast, we routinely see agents making up such organised, complex, fine-tuned functional entities. On inference to what we know [rather than what we can brush away and count on sympathetic peers to approve and biased post-Sternberg [or even pre Sternberg] boards of editors to rush into print in “authoritative” journals], the flagellum is designed.

    In short, this is more of the all too familiar same. [If you want more details, why not look at the relvant UD Sept 7, 2006 Flagellar Evolution thread here, and the onward linked peer-reviewed Minnich-Meyer paper on the flagellum here to see what is being papered over and a survey of the lab-based work on which Behe’s case rests.

    As to IDC’s nearby attempt to define complexity as a metric of ignorance, instead of a measure of the size of the available configuration space for a contingent, information-bearing entity so that the odds of getting to a given configuration that is functional by chance become negligibly different from zero on the gamut of the observed cosmos, one now has to call this willful misrepresentation in the teeth of easily accessible evidence to the contrary.

    And so on.

    Unfortunately, this reveals that in too many cases, we are not really up against an intellectual issue but a worldview-based agenda that is being rationalised on whatever rhetorical stratagems are convenient.

    Thus, culture warfare — with the hearts, minds and souls of men as the “prizes” in contention — is not just a metaphor, sadly.

    GEM of TKI

  55. PPS: Mike Gene’s analysis of the same Pallen-Matzke argument here is worth a look too. One key excerpt:

    A common criticism of design inferences is that they tend to boil down to the assertion of “it looks designed.” Yet it should be apparent that the major thrust of Matzke’s hypothesis is to present the bacterial flagellum in a manner where it looks like it could have evolved. To do this, Matzke offers the F0F1 ATP synthetase as something that looks like a precursor/homolog of the type III secretory machinery. However, given that the sequence data does not support this inference, Matzke turns to other data. CDART analysis succeeds in linking only one proposed example of homology (FliH/F0b), but even here, the link is extremely tenuous (as explained in the section on FliH). Thus, Matzke relies on other criteria: 1) Protein size; 2) Stoichiometry 3) Presence of TMHs; and 4) orientation of the C- and N-terminus of proteins. Yet it is not clear than these criteria, even taken together, reliably signal homology. Consider protein size. Matzke’s candidates range from 72 to 495 amino acids. And if we omit the FliI/alpha/beta group, the range is narrowed significantly, from 72 to 279 amino acids. Yet how meaningful is this range? . . . .

    the range used by Matzke draws from the most commonly sized proteins. Size might be a significant factor if we were talking about six proteins that were each over 500 amino acids in length, but not is we’re talking 70-270 amino acids. And what’s more, Matzke tolerates rather significant ranges in size where, for example, F0b is only 65% the size of FliH.

    Stoichiometry might be a suggestive clue, but the only solid connection Matzke has are the six-member rings of FliI and beta/alpha (and even there, the F1 ring is composed to two distinct members). The FliH/FliI stoichiometry remains to be established, as two monomers of FliH have been empirically detected to interact with a single monomer of FliI and not the FliI homohexamer (as explained above). Furthermore, as noted above, there is experimental evidence that indicates there are five copies of FliP (compared to one for gamma) and suggestive evidence that there are two copies of FliR (compared to one for F0a).

    The presence or absence of TMHs is not a very powerful signal for homology. It has been estimated that 20-30% of ORFs encode membrane proteins with two of more TMHs [65].

    And more, much, much more, lovingly detailed by that practising scientist who uses the nom de guerre Mike Gene as he might otherwise be Sternberged or Gonzalezed. . . .

    Clearly, Matzke and Pallen, their reviewing peers and the editorial board of the ever rreliably evo mat advocating nature, have some serious answering to do.

    GEM of TKI

  56. Kairosfocus, just above you stated “But, if the die is cast as part of a game, the results are as much a product of agency as of natural regularity and chance.”

    Now, I must suggest that you are mixing up agency with regularity and chance, if you limit the discussion to natural phenomomenon, as was done in the prior post by excluding counter-experiential assertions. Because, until you delve into the philosophical, or drop to the Heisenberg level of physics, agents are the causal results of the regularity and chance that brought them about. For instance, two adults mate, regularity and chance ensues, and eventually Kairosfocus or Q can toss a die. If that is not satisfactory, just work it backwards until an obstacle is found, like the beginning of the universe.

    In the real world agency, I state, is either the result of chance and regularity, or to be different, your use of agency must transcend the real world, and enter a non-experiential domain. That could be the philosophical domain. Or, as is used in ID, agency can be in the extra-natural domain of the designer.

    To put it back into the analogy of the die, although it may be argued that “results” on the die are originated from the actions of agency, the actions of that agent are the results of chance and regularity. Likewise, the results on the die are wholly the results of chance and regularity – “randomness” unless the die or toss are biased. By experience, the results of the unbiased die and toss are inseparable from pure chance, which leads to the conclusion that actions of the agent are the result of chance and regularity.

    This puts my position in direct opposition to your point 11. I am arguing that in the real world, agency is an emperical result of chance and regularity (keeping the discussion to your three options), and need not be considered as separable.

    I’m not sure if the claims in your point 12 are aimed at my posts, or are general in nature.

    Also, I am not at all suggesting that the toss of the die is an “exception”.

  57. PPPS: Sorry to add yet another link, but the five lead-up articles to the Mike Gene Article just linked are also worth the read, starting here, and so is the AIP analysis of the flagellum, here. But as DW over at Amazon should know, there is more than one side to a story.

  58. Hi Q:

    I se your response. My quick note on:

    until you delve into the philosophical, or drop to the Heisenberg level of physics, agents are the causal results of the regularity and chance that brought them about. For instance, two adults mate, regularity and chance ensues, and eventually Kairosfocus or Q can toss a die . . . . In the real world agency, I state, is either the result of chance and regularity, or to be different, your use of agency must transcend the real world, and enter a non-experiential domain.

    Reductionist, worldview-level question-begging.

    You need to address, instead, the issue of the origin of a credible mind on evo mat premises, as I raised above in 41, point 3. [Onlookers, notice how consistently Q and other Evo Mat advocates duck this issue, or end up in resorts to the word magic and just-so stories on "emergence" or the like. No prizes for guessing why.]

    Until you do so cogently, I can freely hold that your remarks are not the product of reason but of lucky noise in the neural networks of your brain, reducing in turn to genetic accident and associated psycho-social conditioning acting on and/or deriving from carbon chemistry.

    So, following Taylor, why should I take such lucky noise claiming to be intelligence in deliberate, designed action any more seriously than I should take a set of rocks by a train track that I believe were formed by chance and necessity only that just happen to take up the shape: “Welcome to Wales”?

    In short, it is evolutionary materialism which is imposing highly questionable phil agendas and is self-referentially incoherent — all the while trying to get a way with a free ride on our intuitions that we have useful minds that can reason effectively [and morally soundly] too.

    I am simply pointing out that I take the common sense and everyday empirical experience of a real mind seriously; unless you can show me I live in the contemporary equivalent of Plato’s Cave.

    Methinks it is you who has the — consistently unmet — burden of proof here!

    GEM of TKI

  59. Kariosfocus, I’m unsure why you have turned this into a discussion about person instead of the positions. I’m following your argument, in which you set the conditions to exclude that which are counter-experiential assertions. As a direct result of following the bounds of your argument, some amount of materialism will enter the discussion. That should not lead you to get stuck on making claims about evo-mat advocacy.

    Specifically, you assert, in what appears to be an effort to cast an aspersion on my cognitive abilities, “Until you do so cogently, I can freely hold that your remarks are not the product of reason but of lucky noise in the neural networks of your brain, reducing in turn to genetic accident and associated psycho-social conditioning acting on and/or deriving from carbon chemistry.”

    Does that not hold for both of us? That is, I could just as well hold that your analyses are the result of lucky noise. Is it not a useless form of argument for both of us?

    Besides, although many logical arguments have been provided, I look at the mechanical evidence and see mind as inseparable from brain. If we disagree on that, then no further pursuance of your issues are necessary. I would hope that your position could be backed up with evidence, and not simply Platonic, or other, logical arguments. Do you have more than logical arguments that mind must be understood as somehow separate from a causality of chance and regularity?

    Nonetheless, please review the posts. Simply challenging the premises of the argument you are making does not equate to being an evolutionary materialist.

    Note also that I haven’t challenged your conclusions. That is because I don’t think that your premises of agent, regularity, and chance are the only premises that would lead to the conclusions. I just don’t think that they are logically and evidentially correct – regardless as to the sources you used to arrive at them through logical means.

    But, then, this shouldn’t be about you or I, or the mud we could sling at each other. It should be about making and discussing various claims, hopefully about the real world.

  60. Q:

    Further remarks.

    1] In re: I’m unsure why you have turned this into a discussion about person instead of the positions.

    I have not. I am addressing the general self-referential incoherence of evolutionary materialism, as it impinges on the issue of inference to agency as a causal force.

    It so happens that on the record of what you have now said in the blog thread, it apparently reflects on your own position.

    But then, maybe you are acting as advocatus diabolicus, AD. So, henceforth, please understand all the above as referring to the implications of such views, not your own views, save as directly implied or stated to be such.

    Kindly, therefore, pardon any inaccurate personal referent and address the issue, as an issue on the merits.

    2] Q, as AD: I could just as well hold that your analyses are the result of lucky noise. Is it not a useless form of argument for both of us?

    Not at all, it simply further reflects just how damaging to rational discourse is evo mat.

    Not even AD can live with the consequence of the doctrine, here, that reasoned discourse constrained by facts and logic is impossibly ungrounded as all is lucky noise acting on the blind natural regulartities of our neural networks in our CNS. [Nor, will appeals to the word magic of emergence help AD as onlookers can see from the earlier discussion already linked for the morning.)

    And in case AD will argue that this is just ad hominem-tinged rhetoric on my part, here is Nobel Prize winner Sir Friancis Crick, in his The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    “ ‘You,’ [generic] your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

    In short, I am speaking of a general and generally unanswered issue on evo mat views. Consider, onlookers, the impact if the late Sir Francis had prefaced his works in science and popular discourse thusly, as Philip Johnson acidly pointed out:

    “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

    Onlookers, do you see why Mr Johnson immediately remarked: “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”?

    3] I look at the mechanical evidence and see mind as inseparable from brain. If we disagree on that, then no further pursuance of your issues are necessary.

    Again, question-begging, dear AD.

    For mind to work through human bodies, surely the brain is a necessary connexion into the body as currently constituted.

    But, kindly show me the empirical evidence — not evo mat worldview level assertions and assumptions — that shows that mind is INSEPARABLE from brain and/or other forms of MATTER. (Thence, SAD, one needs to revisit and cogently address the discussion above at 42, and onward also Denyse’s new book on the Spiritual Brain. The parallel discussion in the thread on Atheists, here, will also throw some light on underlying possible Kantian influences and the underlying little errors at the beginning.)

    4] I don’t think that your premises of agent, regularity, and chance are the only premises that would lead to the conclusions [of ID etc]. I just don’t think that they are logically and evidentially correct – regardless as to the sources you used to arrive at them through logical means.

    H’mm: I suppose the above on the empirical grounding of the relevant causal factors is not evidence, on your view [as AD?], then?

    If so, why not, kindly tell me?

    More seriously, it is my understanding that for instance in statistical hypothesis testing, one often observes phenomena and on seeing that contingency dominates, one asks whether it is chance or agency. That is also commonly encountered in many scientifically relevant fields, too numerous to specifically identify, save from pointing to forensics, pharmacology and archaeology. [Just think of the import of the term from this last discipline: art-i-fact.]

    Thus, it seems to me that the identification and use of these three factors is not an idiosyncracy of mine or of Dr Dembski or other asociated design thinkers.

    It — as has been long since linked on and discussed above — is, however, tied directly to the functioning of the EF.

    Also, onward to the underlying issue that a random walk — you can add on functional filtering after the random part as you wish, my dear AD; but it must not then reward closeness to a known locale of functionality if it is non-functional itself, a la so-called genetic algorithms — search in a config space starting from an arbitrary [as opposed to intelligently chosen] initial position that is beyond 500 – 1,00 bits worth of cells is such that it is maximally improbable to attain to the cells that exhibiot FSCI.

    But, intelligent agents go directy to suchy cells all the time.

    Thus there is a radical difference in the dynamics of natural regularity [low or no contingencies], and chance [high contingency but low specificity] and agency [able to routinely generate FSCI].

    That is empirical anchorage enough. Especially when we also note that in every case where we do directly see the causal story in action, intelligent agency is dynamically responsible for the origin of FSCI. But, all of this is just reiteration at this time. [Kindly, provide a counter-example to this observation.]

    Thereafter, too, the implications of detection of agency on certain cases may or may not have worldview level issues attached.

    I find further that evo mat advocates exert selective hyperskepticism through the backdoor route of asserting that methodological naturalism is an inevitable and invariable rule of science, when their worldview level assertions would otherwise be challenged.

    So it seems to me that this, my dear AD, is a turnabout argument.

    One that seeks to improperly escape a burden of warrant — we are not dealing with proofs per se here.

    5] the mud we could sling at each other

    Excuse me.

    My dear AD, I have NOT indulged in mud-slinging.

    This is an ad hominem and a turnabout accusation; utterly unworthy of the discussion above and rthe3 role of a true AD, who after all is classically the critic in the audit of the life of one being considered for recognition as a saint. A true AD is polite, and never personal.

    So, let us turn back from this rhetorical dead-end, and instead address the matter on the merits.

    First, as a scientific matter of seeking to discover the truth of how trhe observed, empirical world works.

    Second, though engaging the incidental — meta level if you will — questions that come up on the methods used, i.e that penetrate from Lakatos’ belt of theories to the core of worldview level ideas and often commitments that are at the heart of the the architecture of scientific research programmes.

    GEM of TKI

  61. Q:

    You say:

    “This puts my position in direct opposition to your point 11. I am arguing that in the real world, agency is an emperical result of chance and regularity (keeping the discussion to your three options), and need not be considered as separable.”

    I respect your position, but have to rematk that, if that is really your line of thought, it does put you the strict group of absolute determinists, who are also, usually, absolute materialists.

    I have nothing against determinists/materialists. I do believe they are completely wrong, and that their view is in no way supported by either philosophy or science, least of all by common sense. But, at least, their view is rather consostent and simple: only matter exists, and everything that exists (at least, after the big bang) is a great machine, where everything is completely determined by necessary laws. Please, take notice that, in a deterministic scenario, everything in the ultimate sense is determined by necessity, and chance is a way to evaluate phenomena where we have no possibility to reach a detailed description at the level of necessity, because we cannot know, with sufficient precision, all the variables involved.

    In such a view, the existence of living beings and of consciousness remains, in my opinion, utterly unexplainable. That is demonstrated by the ID arguments. I want to remark, here, that ID arguments have a double aspect:

    a) They falsify, on logical and empirical grounds, the current materialistic explanation for living beings (darwinist evolution)

    b) They suggest a very good explanation of the same realities by postulating design.

    Now, even those who, for philosophical reasons, don’t want to accept point b), the design inference (for instance, because they don’t believe in agency as a causal category), point a) stays true: ID arguments falsify any known materialistic explanation, based on chance and necessity, for the appearance of biological infornation. So, a sincere and honest determinist/materialist should recognize (I know, I’m being optimistic) that the existence of living beings is, from his point of view, a complete mystery.

    The same can be argued for the existence of consciousness, the other fundamental reality of the empirical world which can in no way be explained by deterministic/materialistic arguments.

    So, I respect strict determinists/materialists: they are consistent, even if they are a little bit weird.

    But, thanks God, I do believe that most people are “not” strict determinists/materialists. In particular, even most materialists, if carefully questioned, are not strict determinists.

    Strict determinism is really weird, and it creates real cognitive embarassment to anyone who sincerely tries to embrace it.

    So, again I would like to remark that, when you write: ” am arguing that in the real world, agency is an emperical result of chance and regularity”, you are indeed expressing faith in strict determinism. I cannot agree with that, and I think that most people in the world would not agree, and with good reason.

    Because strict determinism implies complete denial of any kind of free will. It implies complete denial of any kind of purpose, of responsibility, of merit or demerit, of choice. That is a heavy burden for a human being to believe.

    And, fortunately, not a necessary one. Because there is really no reason in the world to believe such absurdities. In particular, there is no scientific reason to believe them.

    Indeed, the generalized faith of modern culture in deterministic laws is utterly derived by the many successes of phisical sciences, including biology and medicine, in applying deterministic reasoning to explain observable events. That is true, and nobody can deny it.

    But I want to state here two fundamental objections to a “generalized” application of determinism to everything that exists, even from a materialistic point of view:

    1) Quantum mechanics remains a problem. Quantum mechanics is deterministic, at one important level, but not at another level. The reconciliation of these two aspects remains, at present, an unsolved problem of the interpretation and general conception of what quantum mechanics really means for our general understandin of reality. And let’s remember that nobody can doubt that quantum mechanics is really at the basic core of everything material which exists.

    2) Conscious beings are a problem. Consciousness cannoy be reasonably reduced to matter. Human beings are usually supposed to experience two specular processes which seem to be peculiar to consciousness: perception and free will. Let’s concentrate a moment on the free will – action aspect. If we believe in some kind of free will (any kind will do), then strict determinism is no more the general law of the material world. You have to consider agency as something contributing to material events, but not entirely explanable in terms of strict cause and effect. Otherwise, there is no free will, and we are in the unhappy situation described before: consitent, but really, really weird, and with a lot of mysteries unexplained, and probably unexplainable.

    So, I am just saying that, as most human beings do believe in some sort of free will, and behave accordingly, for them chance and necessity cannot be any explanation for agency. I proudly count myself in such a huge group.

    That does not mean, obviously, that chance and necessity have no role in the interpretation of the actions of agents: they have, and a very important one. Even the greatest fan of free will knows very well how much human behaviour is influenced by chance and necessity. But the secret is in that small word: “influenced”. It is not “determined”. I leave to everybody to debate how much “influenced” is neard to “determined”, but, if we have to leave some form of free will, the two things can never be the same.

    By the way, ID is indirectly a very good evidence of the real, empirical existence of free will. Indeed, as CSI is present only in the products of agency, and never in the products of chance and necessity alone (that is, when no conscious intelligent being is concerned), that means that conscious intelligent beings have indeed a way to influence events in a way which is completely out of reach for all other natural objects: that implies, with full necessity, free will.

  62. Kairosfocus, in 60, said “Not even AD can live with the consequence of the doctrine, here, that reasoned discourse constrained by facts and logic is impossibly ungrounded as all is lucky noise acting on the blind natural regulartities of our neural networks in our CNS.”

    I’m sorry kairosfocus, but I am unwilling to accept what I see as faulty premises simply because I would be uncomfortable with the conclusions, or consequences of the premises. Hence, when I saw what to me are flaws in your premises, I wanted to discuss them.

    ————–

    In 61, gpuccio observes ” if that is really your line of thought, it does put you the strict group of absolute determinists”

    Please note that my argument was that agency is inseparable from chance or regularity. That does not mean that I am a strict determinists. It might have before Heisenberg and quantum theory, as you mentioned, but those days are long gone.

    I would argue that the amount of indeterminability in the brain from the quantum effects is enough to regain the claim of free will, and any extra-natural arguments about mind are unnecessary. It is also enough to eliminate any possibility of being a strict determinist.

    Related to this, I am really uncomfortable in what I see as equivoacation of agency that is observable in the real world and the agency that is the backbone of ID. Because, it seems obvious, at least to me, that if the agency that would be the originator and tinkerer of life is fully physical, then ID becomes simply another abstraction of causality – explainable with Newtonian and Quantum arguments. I argue that the agency of ID, as ID is described, must be extra-natural. At the same time, it would be ludicrous, I suggest, that real-world agency, like actions of humans and horses and smart dogs, is anything other than an abstraction of mechanical and quantum processes.

  63. Q:

    I did a cross-thread game again. Sorry.

    Trying to fix:

    a} Quick follow up: first, I point out that indeterminacy on position-momentum or energy-time is NOT freedom of the will, which is a condition of successful moral and intellectual thought.

    b} Second, one is far more directly aware of one’s cognition and conscience than one is of any scientific finding, which one accesses through these and on the grounds of their general reliability.

    c} Thus, if a claimed “scientific” view of the world asserts that chance + necessity of material forces [NB: which BTW INCLUDES quantum states and associated indeterminacies] drive neural network activity thence the epiphenomenon of the mind, a la Crick, then it is self-refuting.

    d} And then one looks and lo, the claimed scientific theories are in fact plainly and objectively riddled with a priori philosophical, wordview commitments that filter and indeed cherry-pick which facts to attend to and which to dismiss. [Cf the parallel thread on Darwin for some side-lights.]

    e} Under such circumstance, one is perfectly in order to look at the reductio ad absurdum, and reject the a priori commitments that led up to it, namely evolutionary materialism. (In short, observe the contrast between my actual premises and the ones that you seemed to think I had.)

    f} On the issue at stake on the explanatory filter, I have simply noted that we do observe chance, necessity and agency and their diverse and distinguishable empirical traces:

    1 –> I then noted how the filter is reliable where we can check it.

    2 –> I see that it has good roots in the statistical principles of systems with large configuration spaces.

    3 –> I see no good reason to brush the filter aside simply because it yields results objectionable to a theory that is already rooted in dubious a priori commitments.

    4 –> I know agents exist today far more certainly than I can claim to know that they emerged spontaneously through chance and necessity in the primordial past — a claimed process which I know is dubious on independent grounds as already described.

    5 –> Above all, I have no good reason to assume or assert that agents were not possibly present at the origin of life, or of body-plan level biodiversity.

    6 –> I then see the organised complexity manifest in the FSCI required, which I know empirically to be a good sign of agency.

    7 –> I therefore infer that OOL and body plan level biodiversity trace to agency, on inference to best, empirically anchored explanation — the way science infers.

    8 –> Extending to cosmogenesis, where I see a fine-tuned organised complexity in the physics of a life-facilitating observed cosmos, I see good empirically anchored reason to infer that the cosmos is also designed.

    9 –> Designs imply designers, and the overall cluster of design inferences is consistent with the concept of a cosmogentic desingner who intended to implement a cosmos for life and put life in it, however s/he may have done so.

    10 –> but observe, the direction of inference is from known properties of chance, necessity and agency, to distinguishing signs and a filter that reliably separates. Thence, on cases of interest individually we see well-warranted inferences to design. Thus, we start from design and build to designer, only refusing to a priori rule out the possibility of agency before inspecting evidence.

    11 –> On the principle of simplicity, when we see the cluster of relevant designs, it is reasonable to infer that the designs fit into a common, coherently purposeful framework.

    12 –> Going beyond the domain of Science proper, but still in the spirit of seeking empirically anchored truth on worldviews, it seems reasonable to see that this inference is compatible in broad terms with the traditional view that science thinks God’s thoughts after him. And since that is precisely how some of the greatest of all scientists thought and worked, I have no problem thinking and working like that as a scientist.

    g} So, going back to the scientific inferences proper, I conclude that on well-known principles of scientific inference, and on evidence that is otherwise inexplicable, but which I know agent action routinely generates, that agents are the well-warranted explanation for these phenomena.

    Here I stand, and in a nutshell, why.

    Others are free to differ, but they are not free to then avert the implications of the alternatives they assert or imply.

    And, as the above thread abundantly shows, the alternatives are vastly inferior once their difficulties are brought out on a level playing field.

    GEM of TKI

  64. Karisosfocus, in 62, said “On the issue at stake on the explanatory filter, …”

    Please note, my discussion was not challenging the explanatory filter. It was about your premises of agency, regularity, and chance. Also, I don’t think that the conclusions of the explanatory filter that you bring up are specifically dependent upon the premises you are using.

    Also, you say “Others are free to differ, but they are not free to then avert the implications of the alternatives they assert or imply.”

    Addressing the premises can be discussed separately from the implications, unless the implications are actually the premises.

    You also point out, i.e. claim, “that indeterminacy on position-momentum or energy-time is NOT freedom of the will, which is a condition of successful moral and intellectual thought.”

    I’ll pursue this as I read the claim. If you are asserting that free-will is real (which I am not at all disputing, and which I also hold to be real), then free-will is the result of causal events – unless there are non-causal events. Which, as we have both asserted, is an absurd assertion when analysing the real world.

    Since you are saying (if I understand correctly) that free will is the source of agency, and free will is a representation of agency, then you would be forced to argue that agency is beget by agency. When logically extrapolated, that can lead to odd conclusions about the real world. Or, if the assumption that agency is beget by agency in the real world is dropped, then a logical argument can be made that real-world agencyis the result of chance and regularity (using your three categories.)

    This contrasts to discussions about the agency that is the core of ID, since that agency need not be considered as fully contained in the real world, so the above claims about agency need not apply.

    But, it seems that an impasse may have been reached in this discussion.

  65. Q:

    I understand better now what you think, but still I have to respectfully disagree. I’ll try to explain why, because the differences in our views are in themselves very interesting.

    First of all, I don’t share your formal division between what is natural and what is supernatural. I have discussed that before, in other threads. The only meaning of “natural” in our days seems to be “all that I can already explain, at least in the general lines”. That is another strange byproduct of materialism. I don’t accept it. Indeed, we have no idea of what “nature” is, and what are nature’s ultomate laws or consituents. We are only drunk of our scientific arrogance, which believes that we have all the important things set, and that matter and its laws are all that exists, at least in “nature”. That is nonsense. Even in physics, we are still on the far brim of understanding. Dark matter is a mystery, dark energy a mystery of a mustery. Quantum mechanics, although very well managed, is much less understood. And who knows home many new principles will be discovered and understood in, say, 100 years…

    Consciousness and, if you allow me a semi-religious language, the soul of man, are all but “natural”, in the sense above discussed. They are transcendent, non material. And yet theu exist in “nature”. Do you want to call the soul “supernatural”? No problem for me. Shall we call the Designer, however we conceive Him/Her/It, innatural? It is not certainly our use of words which changes reality.

    The fact is that our “I” constantly interacts with matter, through the brain and the body. It receives inputs and generates outputs, and those outputs “do” change matter and the chain of causality. Well only two scenarios are possible:

    1) Consciousness is only a passive “transition” from the inputs to the outputs, completely determined by cause and effect laws. No free will exists, and everything is totally determined. the chain of cause and effect is never broken. The univers is a huge machine, and nothing else.

    2) The relationship between inputs and outputs of consciousness is not completely described in deterministic ways. The inputs do certainly influence the outòputs in a recognizable way, but there is space for unaccountable variations, which do not respond to any law of cause and effect. The chain of cause and effect is therefore constantly broken, although in a low-level way, and at least in human beings.

    From what you write, you seem to prefer option 2. So do I. But you seem to be content in assigning the explanation of how option 2 is explained to quantum mechanincs in itselg, that is to a “natural” process (in the more restricted sense).

    I would like to remark that such an attitue, although leaving some room for a certain degree of unforeseeability (quantum mechanics allows that), leaves at the same time no room for free will, purpose and choice. Quantum mechanics in itself, indeed, does not allow any of these phenomena, which are the real markers of consciousness and humanity. Let’s see why.

    Quantum mechanics has two different levels of description. The first, and most important, is the wave function, which usually fully describes quantum systems. (Please, excuse me if I am not completely precise in language. I am not a phisicist. But I hope that the concepts are right). The important thing is that the wave function evolves completely deterministically. In that, quantum mechanics is not so much different from traditional mechanics.

    But then there is the aspect of real measures, which seem to change the “status” of quantum “objects”, and freeze some property in a specific value (position, spin, etc.). The passage from level A to level B is sometimes called “Wavefunction collapse”. That is the mysterious part of quantum mechanichs, and the one which mainly differentiates its various interpretations. And the important point is: the relationship between wave function (deterministic) and the results of the wave funtion collapse is indeed statistical, and not deterministic. Wave function values represent only the “probability” that a certain property will have a certain value “after” the wave function collapse (the measurement), but can in no way exactly predict the value.

    Now, if it were true, as you seem to say, that quantum mechanics in itself, as a natural process, can allow us not to bee strictly deterministic, we would not have concluded much: we would have, indeed, a “natural world” which is not strictly deterministic, but the parts which are not deterministic would be governed by mere statistical laws, not allowing any “intention”, free will, choice, teleology, and so on. All the cited properties of consciousness, indeed, cannot arouse from statistical random laws, any more than they can arouse from deterministic laws.

    In this sense, quantum mechanics in itself is no better that determinism in explaining the propertis of consciousness and of human behaviour. But then, why is quantum mechanics so important in our discussions?

    the fact is: quantum mechanics cannot “explain” the origin of free will, or of other properties of consciousness. But it can be a very powerful “interface” to allow thw connection between consciousness and matter. The wave function collapse, for instance, is a perfect “point” in reality which could, in principle, be manipulated by consciousness to effect a critical change in reality without apparently violating deterministic laws. Eccles and Penrose, among others, have elaborated models of neuronal activity on that concept.

    I am not saying that this kind of reasoning explains all, or that it is necessarily right. But, at present, it is the most promising way of reasoning, at the level of physics, to reconciliate the existence of conscious principles with the existence of an objective world. I am sure that, as our understanding of physical laws deepens, we will find better and more satisfying answers. But, for now, this line of reasoning is the most promising, if not the only one. And, potentially, it offers exactly the same advantages to explain the free will of humans and the design implementation in nature.

  66. gpuccio, in 65, says “All the cited properties of consciousness, indeed, cannot arouse from statistical random laws, any more than they can arouse from deterministic laws.”

    That is a bold statement, and not quite as simple as an “indeed” claim. But, that is not the fundamental point I am trying to make in the discussion with Kairosfocus.

    Claims have been made linking causality, chance, agency, and regularity. My observation about this discussion is that assertions are insisted about agency, in order to arrive at conclusions that relate to the agent of ID. My counter argument is that the agent of ID need not be bound by the same constraints as are agents in the “real world”. By “real world”, I loosely mean those agents that are fully bound by causality.

    In other words, I’m suggesting that some of the claims about agency in general are misapplied, in that they would be better if applied exclusively to the agent of ID. Otherwise, by equivocating the two types of agent – those that are bound by causality, and that which is not necessarily bound by causality – claims must be introduced for convenience to fill logical holes. My objection is that some of those claims aren’t needed, because the logical holes don’t exist, once the equivocation is dropped.

  67. Q (and GP, et al):

    Let’s follow up on a few points further, which I believe will advance the discussion towards a conclusion in light of issues brought out by some of the most recent remarks above:

    1] Q-mech:

    First, GP, you have indeed given a reasonable outline of the state of affairs with Q-mech.

    Wave functions form part of wave equations [often in an energetic context, e.g the Hamiltonian] and when suitably mathematically massaged, give rise to a statistical pattern of possible outcomes that reflect a probabilistic pattern. That is, they describe probabilistic distributions and are in effect reducible under “chance.”

    The “collapse” in question is often a matter of observational circumstances, and the outcomes are indeterminate. Position-momentum indeterminacy and energy-time indeterminacy are particularly important. In effect if you arrange things so that position is tightly pinned, say by bouncing off a photon, the impact will sharply shift momentum. You know where it was, but not where it is going, and not how fast. Similarly, if we tighten energy level [e.g. spectral] observations, we cannot specify the time of the observations precisely.

    All of this fits into the chance + necessity view. And, when it come3s to the issue of trying to use indeterminacy as a wedge to move in free will, here is a typical materialistic response, courtesy Martín López?Corredoira at Arxiv:

    Since quantum mechanics (QM) was formulated, many voices have claimed this to be the basis of free will in the human beings. Basically, they argue that free will is possible because there is an ontological indeterminism in the natural laws, and that the mind is responsible for the wave function collapse of matter, which leads to a choice among the different possibilities for the body. However, I defend the opposite thesis, that free will cannot be defended in terms of QM. First, because indeterminism does not imply free will, it is merely a necessary condition but not enough to defend it. Second, because all considerations about an autonomous mind sending orders to the body is against our scientific knowledge about human beings; in particular, neither neurological nor evolutionary theory can admit dualism. The quantum theory of measurement can be interpreted without the intervention of human minds, but other fields of science cannot contemplate the mentalist scenario, so it is concluded that QM has nothing to say about the mind or free will, and its scientific explanation is more related to biology than to physics. A fatalistic or materialist view, which denies the possibility of a free will, makes much more sense in scientific terms.

    2] Theses, conclusions and counter-theses:

    Just above, we see that the quantum indeterminacy view can be held — by informed materialists who in this case just happen to be physicists — to be reducible to the original evo mat view. [The irony of appealing to logic and reason and objectivity of observations leading to reliable conclusions in a world driven by chance + necessity only and not free to follow fact and logic by conscious choice, is lost on such.]

    Let’s repeat the core counter- theses and the inference derived thereform, in the usual structured format:

    [p]First, because indeterminism does not imply free will, it is merely a necessary condition but not enough to defend it.

    [q] Second, because all considerations about an autonomous mind sending orders to the body is against our scientific knowledge about human beings; in particular, neither neurological nor evolutionary theory can admit dualism.

    _____________________

    [r] QM has nothing to say about the mind or free will, and its scientific explanation is more related to biology than to physics.

    [s] A fatalistic or materialist view, which denies the possibility of a free will, makes much more sense in scientific terms.

    The blogger, Greg, over at Presence, has made an interesting further note (and provides an helpful onward link):

    Even if we could show some kind of connection between physical brain states and cognitive decisions, we must examine what kind of “free will” we would be left with if based on quantum indeterminacy. An indeterminate free will would be random, erratic and unpredictable. The individual exercising such a free will would not appear to us to be acting in any rational fashion. What we are looking for in free will is not the potential for any random occurrence to present itself at any time, but a reasoned, rational intellect exercising a will that can make a decision independent of antecedent conditions. Quantum indeterminism does not provide the basis for this kind of free will.

    In short, while quantum indeterminacy may make an opening for freedom of action, it is not constitutive of that freedom, and is open to the inference that the Swiss physicist cited above has made in defence of evo mat [which he muisunderstands to be "science"].

    Indeed, the onward link is helpful here:

    A popular view of the mind is that it is an epiphenomenon of the brain—something like the wake of a boat going through the water . . . . Another view is the “identity” theory which claims that the neuronal activity of our brain tissue is itself mind. The brain and mind are two aspects of one and the same biological organ. The cerebral tissue is the self structure while the cerebral activity is the mental process . . . . Frank J. Tipler, a mathematical physicist at Tulane University, tries to develop free will from quantum gravity uncertainties that, he claims, provide him with a true ontological randomizer . . . . [But] When the position of the particle becomes more certain, which is equivalent to saying that the ?x becomes smaller, then the uncertainty of the particle’s momentum, ?p, becomes larger. Hence, some would argue that, because of the determinate mathematical nature of Heisenberg’s Principle of Uncertainty, it would fail to provide the indeterminate freedom necessary for human free will.

    3] back to fixing the little error at the beginning:

    Far better is the start-point I have made: we directly EXPERIENCE, and CRUCIALLY DEPEND ON the FACT of freedom of mind and action deriving therefrom.

    That is, by daily and moment to moment experience, regardless of the implications of today’s evo mat dominated academy and popular secularised Western[ised] cultures, we empirically are agents. Thus, the just linked concludes, in part:

    Human free will decisions are self-determined decisions, and self-determined decisions are not indeterminate decisions. Hence, it is a misguided adventure to search for an indeterminate randomizer to account for free-willed decisions. The reason for this is that free-willed decisions are not indeterminate decisions; they are self-determined decisions

    Or, putting it in Stephen M. Barr’s words:

    Why not simply start with the evident fact of free will? Since free will requires a breakdown of physical determinism, and quantum theory gives us just such a breakdown, one would seem to have grounds enough for suspecting a role for quantum theory in explaining the human mind. . . . .

    In short, and here Q is making a valid contribution,we have some evidence of — frankly in the end quite mysterious — physical indeterminacy [not to be simply equated to chance; as evo mat thinkers are wont to do] AND we have the experience of free will.

    BOTH are required if we are to move to another, more factually adequate view of mind and agency. Of the two, the more important is the latter. (and evo mat views work in part by en-darkening the mind from seeing what would otherwise be obvious, only to end in multiple absurdities).

    4] Q, 64: my discussion was not challenging the explanatory filter. It was about your premises of agency, regularity, and chance.

    First, the EF is premised on the separation of causal factors by their empirical traces. Those factors, by massive observation of cases, trace to chance, necessity and agency.

    The real issue is the materialist assertion that agency is an artifact of the first two. I contend that first, we directly experience such agency, and it is radically divergent from the materialist model of its origin and what that would imply of its behaviour.

    Sufficiently so that the evo mat view of mind becomes self-stultifying.

    [ . . . ]

  68. 5] Q, cont’d, 64: Addressing the premises can be discussed separately from the implications, unless the implications are actually the premises.

    Consider, “IF ‘Tom is a cat’ THEN ‘Tom is an animal.’ ”

    It is sufficient for Tom to be an animal, that he is a cat; and it is necessary for Tom to be an animal if he is to be a cat. But, it would be sufficient for Tom to be an animal if he were a pig; and being an animal would be necessary for Tom to be a pig.

    In short, P => Q means that IF P is so, it is sufficient for Q to be so, and also that unless Q is so, P cannot be so. P is sufficient for Q and Q is necessary for P. We must never confuse implication with equivalence.

    Nor should we confuse self-evident truth or equivalence with tautology, this last in the sense of the predicate simply being an uninformative restatement of the premises. Consider the difference between: “For a finite whole, the whole is greater than the component part,” vs: “The Gostak distims the doshes” [fr a classic Sci Fi tale] where the only “explanation” of Gostak, distims and doshes is to ring the changes around the empty circle.

    Self evident truths are informative, and ones understanding of the interacting terms opens up spirally and experientially and reflectively as one explores the core truth and its ramifications. And, to reject the concepts and their relationships, leads one into the morasses of self-referential incoherence and similar absurdities.

    The almost creedal self-evident truths of the US Declaration of Independence and its working out over 200 and more years, are a classic example in point. So is the Christian understanding of God, whom we encounter in the face of Christ. And much more, correcting Kant and Hume etc on their little error at the beginning.

    Further to all this, where P => Q and Q is falsified, perhaps through reductio ad absurdum, then P is falsified. As 41 shows, that is the precise fate of evo mat, and its attempt to capture and hold hostage agency within the orbit of chance + necessity acting in a material only view of the world.

    6] free-will is the result of causal events – unless there are non-causal events. Which, as we have both asserted, is an absurd assertion when analysing the real world.

    H’mm, have you read the outline at 42? If so, you will know that “that which has a BEGINNING has a cause.” [Another self-evident truth . . . explore it and reflect on it, then see what it is saying as your understanding deepens through experience and reflection on it, leading to a coherent and factually adequate view that is elegantly simple and powerful. See, it is no mere tautology asserted blindly and closed-mindedly!]

    But, equally, the observed contingent cosmos [cf the Big Bang and the fine tuned parameters for making the observed cosmos life facilitating] points to a necessary being behind it.

    And, on further evidence, that necessary being on inference to best explanation is an Agent, not simply an extended form of the matter-energy, space-time cosmos that current multiverse proposals are so fond of. For many excellent reasons tied to the empirically routinely observed, reliably known source of organised, fine tuned, information rich complexity: agency.

    OUR free wills in our experience as beings with a beginning is indeed evidently caused — but by the free creative action of agents external to ourselves. In turn such beings point onward to the necessary being who is responsible for our life-facilitating, complexly organised and fine-tuned cosmos.

    And, plainly, such a chain of reasoning is NOT absurd in the real world.

    7] if the assumption that agency is beget by agency in the real world is dropped, then a logical argument can be made that real-world agencyis the result of chance and regularity (using your three categories.)

    This simply confuses two things: agents who have a beginning and the agent who does not: contingent agents and the necessary necessary agent.

    An argument that tries to reduce agency to the product of chance and necessity only, e.g. evo mat, ends in self-referential absurdity,a s already shown e.g. at 41.

    8] since that agency need not be considered as fully contained in the real world

    The last phrase exposes the fatal gap in the argument.

    In short, what is happening here is that the phrase “the real world” is standing in for “the material world.” But, THE (note the definite article) really “real world” — as our massive experience of agency tells us — is not the physical-material, chance + necessity world only!

    Thus, there is no impasse, as the little error at the beginning can be corrected as just noted.

    9] Q, 66: My observation about this discussion is that assertions are insisted about agency, in order to arrive at conclusions that relate to the agent of ID.

    But, one is not merely discussing assertions, but our experiential, interior world. A world in which we EXPERIENCE ourselves directly as agents, plan and think at least sometimes logically, then decide and act into the physical world to effect our plans — designs if you will — towards our intents.

    This, for instance I discussed in details in 53, in 12 points. To these, it seems now, you by and large reacted by accusing me of turning the discussion into a personal one, instead of examining what I was saying about our common experience of agency.

    Kindly revisit that exchange, and reconsider your reaction.

    10] My counter argument is that the agent of ID need not be bound by the same constraints as are agents in the “real world”. By “real world”, I loosely mean those agents that are fully bound by causality.

    Now, again, cf the previous discussion at 42. In short, you in the end agree with me.

    11] I’m suggesting that some of the claims about agency in general are misapplied, in that they would be better if applied exclusively to the agent of ID.

    Doubtless some claims about agency are unique to the cosmogenetic agent who is a necessary being. Such as, such a being is beginningless and uncaused.

    But that has nothing to do with the empirical traces of agent action: organised, information-rich — often fine-tuned or even irreducible — complexity. As this very thread abundantly and eloquently testifies, even we caused agents routinely create artifacts that exhibit that!

    And, as 42 discussed, this is amply manifested threough our experience of agency. Thus, the inference to “equivocation” is irrelevant.

    Furthermore, IMHCO, nothing in the above discussion properly leads to or otherwise warrants the conclusion that the identified cluster of causal forces, chance, necessity and agency, is a dubious, empirically unwarranted assertion or assumption.

    GEM of TKI

  69. Kairosfocus, in 68, pointed out “have you read the outline at 42? If so, you will know that “that which has a BEGINNING has a cause.””

    Let’s not dispute that, because it serves as the illustration about my claim of equivocation.

    An intelligent designer, capable of originating and tinkering with life, would by definition, be able to affect change in the real world. However, that change, being the result of actions caused by the designer, need not be manifest as the result of actions which occured in the real world. That is, there may be a real-world reaction but without a real-world action. For all intents and purposes, the event of causality could be broken in the real world.

    There is no reason why causality from the designer need ever be manifest as a causal event in the real world.

    In fact, I argue, that if the actions of the intelligent designer of ID were observable as fully causal events in the real world, the real world would then, by definition, have both the action and the reaction of the origin of life, or of the tinkering of life. That would result in a purely mechanistic model of life, and effectively, invalidate the premises of ID. If ID is sufficiently supported, then it must not be necessary for all of the causal event of ID’s intelligent designer to be manifest in the real world.

    As a result, I’m suggesting that the assertions which apply to the understanding of the agency of an intelligent designer need not apply to the same understanding of agency in the real world. There is no reason that they would operate by the same set of rules.

    As a result, I’m saying that building arguments which assume that the agency of intelligent design would operate by the same constraints as agency in the real world is an equivocation. Or, to phrase it similar to the quote you provided: To be consistent with ID, that which has a result in the real world might not have a cause in the real world.

  70. Addendum: Kairosfocus, you suggested that I am using “the real world” as a substitute for “the material world”. Not exactly, in this case. Since the topic I’m addressing is the relationship of causality, agency, chance, and regularity, I’m intending “the real world” to be the domain in which causality can be observed.

  71. All:

    Following up on “equivocation” etc.

    1] Q, 69: Let’s not dispute that . . . namely: “that which has a BEGINNING has a cause.”

    Kindly supply a counter-example. (More or less, this would require something that comes out of nothing.)

    2] Q, 70: Since the topic I’m addressing is the relationship of causality, agency, chance, and regularity, I’m intending “the real world” to be the domain in which causality can be observed.

    That is, cutting to the chase, you ARE in fact intending to confine “real world” to “material world.”

    It so happens that the observed cosmos evidently [on Hubble's work and subsequent investigations] had a beginning, at the singularity commonly known as the big bang, typically estimated as 13.7 BYA.

    Further tot his, the implication of such a beginning was strongly resisted by many scientists at the time, precisely because “that which has a beginning has a cause.” Thus, the issue over inter alia the so-called Steady-State universe model, which then ended in empirical collapse after the observation of background radiation.

    Going further, to use “real world” in such a way that in effect agency — the most commonly, directly experienced phenomenon of all for human beings [as I described above in details in 53], is disregarded in favour of in effect trying to dismiss agency as an unwarranted and dubious assertion, is obvious, though probably unintentional selective hyperskepticism.

    3] Q, 69: An intelligent designer, capable of originating and tinkering with life, would by definition, be able to affect change in the real world.

    Note the use of “real world” to denote what evo mat advocates would call the actual cosmos: the world from hydrogen to humans and associated physically-based forces so that change within the “real world” can only trace to chance + necessity.

    This sets up . . .

    4] However, that change, being the result of actions caused by the designer, need not be manifest as the result of actions which occured in the real world.

    Again, observe the use of the term “real world,” which is plainly serving to exclude MIND from being recognised as active into the “real” world. (The second shift in quotes is intended to spotlight the rhetorical effect: what is not “real” is just that — i.e held to be fictional.)

    5] That is, there may be a real-world reaction but without a real-world action. For all intents and purposes, the event of causality could be broken in the real world.

    Here the equivocation in Q’s argument emerges.

    For, “real” world chains of events are in effect redefined to be PHYSICAL chains of events.

    So, readers dominated by evo mat thinking, are in effect invited to — by equivocating “real” between “physical” and “actual” — infer that causality is “broken.” That is, one may see things begin without a “real” — physical — world cause.

    Of course, word magic like “emergence” may then substitute for a serious discussion of the capabilities and limitations of causes tracing to chance and necessity.

    But in the ACTUAL world of our common experience, mind has acted and has produced observable consequences that go beyond the credible reach of chance + necessity.

    For instance:

    The PC screen, while I am typing, shows text because the software and hardware have processed information deriving from keystrokes. Those keystrokes are not matters of chance or necessity only . The key moves because my finger hits it. My finger in turn moves because I — a MAN with a MIND — have decided to type a message and the words and letters that make it up.

    Now, I the man have acted into the real world. The message has not come out of nowhere or the indeterminacies of quantum uncertainty, it has come from my deliberate, intentional actions. just as Q’s message did earlier.

    6] There is no reason why causality from the designer need ever be manifest as a causal event in the real world.

    We just had a case study that shows how agent action based in intentional mental activity, has caused events in the ACTUAL world that exhibit FSCI, and which I know from real-world, real-time experience of my own mentality are the products of intelligent design.

    Now, such mental causation does not reduce to chance + necessity acting on material objects in space-time indeed. That was what was noted right from the beginning. That is, we see again that empirically — experientially — known causal factors can embrace chance, necessity and intelligent agency.

    But, if one is sufficiently determined to reject the self-evident, one can do so. Only, one cannot escape the resulting implications and their import: reductio ad absurdum via incoherence.

    As was just seen.

    7] I’m suggesting that the assertions which apply to the understanding of the agency of an intelligent designer need not apply to the same understanding of agency in the real world. There is no reason that they would operate by the same set of rules.

    We know that agents produce organised complexity manifesting itself inter alia in fine-tuned, functionally specified complex information.

    We observe that for instance cosmogenesis manifests this pattern. Should we therefore infer that we may not infer that such FSCI is a pointer to agency in that case?

    That is a question-begging inference tantamount to inadvertent surrender of a case if I ever saw one!

    8] As a result, I’m saying that building arguments which assume that the agency of intelligent design would operate by the same constraints as agency in the real world is an equivocation.

    But, Q, NO-ONE in this discussion has assumed that: the agency of intelligent design would operate by the same constraints as agency in the real world.

    This is a strawman.

    First because of the equivocation of “real world.”

    Second, because the ACTUAL argument is that it is a common fact of observation that agents often leave FSCI etc as markers of their action into/upon the physical world.

    Third, that on statistical principles on the capacity of random walk searches beginning at arbitrary points in configuration spaces of sufficient scale, chance driven processes are maximally unlikely to access islands of functionality. [Cf my always linked App 1, point 6.]

    Fourth, that in every case where we see FSCI and directly know the origin, it traces to agent action.

    So, plainly we are well-warranted to infer on a best explanation basis that the FSCI in life at cellular level, its elaboration through more FSCI to create body plans and the underlying fine-tuned complex organisation of the physics of the life-facilitating cosmos all credibly trace to intelligent agency.

    9] Bottomlines;

    Finally, your last statement in 69 simply reflects the morass you got in to by the equivocation on the meaning of “real”:

    To be consistent with ID, that which has a result in the real world might not have a cause in the real world.

    A more accurate statement would be: To be consistent with ID, that which has a result in the physical, observable world might not be a cause tracing to chance plus necessity only; but instead to intelligent agency.

    GEM of TKI

  72. Q you said,

    by equivocating the two types of agent – those that are bound by causality, and that which is not necessarily bound by causality – claims must be introduced for convenience to fill logical holes. My objection is that some of those claims aren’t needed, because the logical holes don’t exist, once the equivocation is dropped.

    and you also said some more,

    There is no reason why causality from the designer need ever be manifest as a causal event in the real world.

    In fact, I argue, that if the actions of the intelligent designer of ID were observable as fully causal events in the real world, the real world would then, by definition, have both the action and the reaction of the origin of life, or of the tinkering of life. That would result in a purely mechanistic model of life, and effectively, invalidate the premises of ID. If ID is sufficiently supported, then it must not be necessary for all of the causal event of ID’s intelligent designer to be manifest in the real world.

    As a result, I’m suggesting that the assertions which apply to the understanding of the agency of an intelligent designer need not apply to the same understanding of agency in the real world. There is no reason that they would operate by the same set of rules.

    As a result, I’m saying that building arguments which assume that the agency of intelligent design would operate by the same constraints as agency in the real world is an equivocation. Or, to phrase it similar to the quote you provided: To be consistent with ID, that which has a result in the real world might not have a cause in the real world.

    Q, im sorry but I have to call you out on this one. What you are basically saying underneath all of the rambling, is that there is no way philosophically to necessirly distinguish between the (so called) 2 types od designers. the one that obeys all laws of causality and the one that transcends it. Yet the humorous problem with your assertion is that when I say “well the big bang requires a transcendent casue” you say “well in physical reality I agree with you but in philosophical reality i think there need not be causality.”

    You are creating a philosophical demarcation that holds no water. You claim that you are “arguing” that no causal manifestation from the ID need exist but you back it up with no evidence! This is rediculous. I admitted to you that everyone is entitled to their own intuitions- their own opinions, beliefs or just blind faith– but if you want to engage in a philosopical “debate” through “argument”- you need to do more than just assert a circular world view.

    Now, i gave you the big bang as the prime ontological argument for ultimate ID causality. There is alos an epsitemic argument for ID causality- it is equally “pragmatic(take note)”

    If all things were to obey the universes cause and effect structure and say an infinte regress and progress- no ultimate physical cause – then how would we know if somthing is designed?

    All you are doing in essence whether you realize it or not, is taking the word “design” out of the vocabulary. But by arguing for a universe that is totally natural you have rejected the dychotomy between purposeness (matching ends to means) and purposlessness (unguided natural processes)- or orderliness and randomness.

    Dont you want to know at a casino if a card game is rigged before you play the game of cards? And, dont you want to know if DNA was planted by aliens or time travelers? Dont you want to know if the consciencounes and intellgence we expierece as human beings is reflective in the order of the universe? There is a clear differnce between teleology and natrual probability as is clearly lad out in TDI and Dembski’s Explanitory Filter. To reject probabilities is to reject logic. There is even a clearer difference between teleology and weak teleology- just go buy a cheap computer and see how long it holds up. Your implicit point is ultimatly that nature is what it is by itself and we are merely poiting ourselves into the body of the designer without good reason. You are wrong- the universe orders things and WE CAN. The unniverse makes laws and WE CAN. The universe produces order and chaos and we can. Can the universe know what it is doing? This is one of the ultimate questions that is inherent in the nature of ID.

    The question is of consciousness. Is the universe conscious? How does it unfold improbable arrangments of CSI if it cant match ends to means? Or what is it that did match ends to means? ID is about questions of origins. We have lots of good reasons to aks these questions. if you have no interest inthe questions then ID means nothing to you- in which case you ought not be be criticizing it if you cant take it and understand it on the meaning it has for those who do take it seriously.

    To put this a little more clearly- why would you want to eat a filet minoun over a mcdonalds cheeseburger? Because one tastes better to you. There are real scinetific reasons why one tastes better too. but to argue that philosophically there could be no reason to distinguish one from the other is to loose touch with reality and miss the point. And you have not eve nsuccessfully argued your point- you have merely asserted a claim. You have done the typical methodolical materialist trick and said “lets not look at scinece but just in the mind” – Yes you CAN have your philosophical view but it is merely a belief unless you can back it up with real world data- without data it is merely a belief and in the secular sense a religion(atheists think god is just a beelif or a made up idea and so should be equal to all made up beleifs and ideas) that you espouse but i submit that first you read your Einstein

    “scinece without religion is lame but RELIGION WITHOUT SCIENCE IS BLIND.”

    We cant know the answers to these questions for sure- or if we are even asking the right questions- for sure- but they are nonetheless real questions that carry as much significance, depth and weight as anyhting thought you can come up with- by simply holding another “belief” you are just ignoring the evidence and failing to grasp the whole picture or the question itself– which is “is this designed?” And I submit that “No more beautiful a question has ever been uttered.”

    It is obvious that you argument hold no water becasue you disagree with it on a scinetific basis but think it somehow holds water metaphysically. All you are doing ignoring what we know about the cause and effect structure of the world even excluding ultimate causeation.

  73. Kairosfocus, in 71, reiterates about his “begining” claim (68) of “Kindly supply a counter-example. (More or less, this would require something that comes out of nothing.)”

    Only kind of correct. Beginning is a temporal claim. Something from nothing is a claim about matter. Those two claims are mixed up.

    Are you insisting that the intelligent designer of ID experiences time? Why must “beginning” even be meaningful to the designer? Are you insisting that that the intelligent designer of ID experiences matter? Why must “something” even be meaningful to the designer?

    Why are you excluding the possibility that the “actions” of the designer are fully outside of the realm of being detected as causal events, so that only the results occur?

    Wouldn’t that simply make the intelligent designer of ID part of the material world – reasonably bound by the material laws, devolving the intelligent agency of the designer to being no more that materialism?

    Shouldn’t you explicitely include in your argument the limitation that the intelligent designer of ID cannot exist in all of space and time, or is bound by the same material limitations are we are? Your arguments of causality and agency can be supported only with that requirement.

  74. Q:

    I see your onward response, to which I will make a few comments; probably more for the record than in the hope that it will advance the discussion any more. For, sadly, some of your recent comments come across as a bit more of straining to find objections than anything else.

    Perhaps, a pause to review the thread above will be helpful?

    Anyway:

    1] Q, at 73: Beginning is a temporal claim. Something from nothing is a claim about matter. Those two claims are mixed up.

    This is put up as a response to the self-evident statement: that which has a beginning has a cause, and the challenge to find a counter-example. Sadly, it is little more than a confession that you have none.

    Now, on the substance of the objection. First, material objects are space-time, matter-energy entities, as for instance the Theory of Relativity reminds us, or even the simple Galilean kinematics of an object falling under gravitational attraction, with velocity proportionate to time of fall since it BEGAN to fall. (I cite this last because, oddly, Galileo first suspected that the rate of falling would be proportional to the distance already fallen.)

    Indeed, in much of science especially physics [and engineering], we refer to dynamical theories and models: tracing the onward path of a system to the joint action of initial conditions, forcing factors, inertial/resistive and dissipative properties, as well as feedback/memory/lag effects. Such models deeply embed the above self-evident principle, and underscore that causal factors are at least concurrent with (and can be prior to) their effects in the space-time domain.

    That is, in the actual world, matter and time cannot be so easily separated as you may imagine. There is no mix-up.

    2] Are you insisting that the intelligent designer of ID experiences time?

    Kindly, stop putting speculative words into my mouth.

    The design inference, as you should know, works FROM empirical traces to known possible causal factors [one or more of chance, lawlike regularities and agency], then filters through considering the empirically known source of organised complexity beyond the credible reach of chance-based processes on the gamut of the observed cosmos. That is the empirical facts and characteristics of the situation or entity come first, and the issue is not to foreclose causal factors ahead of evidence, which is question-begging.

    The credible existence of agency is an inference on best explanation, not an un-evidenced a priori assertion.

    The identity, purpose, technique and/or nature of the agent[s] in question are all onward issues, and are strictly irrelevant to the decisive question vis a vis current paradigms in science: can we identify reliaale traces of design?

    As the very existence of whole fields of study on this — starting with the statistics of hypothesis-testing — shows, the answer is: yes. So, once we do identify such traces in a situation of interest, then the existence of design implies the existence of designing agents at the point of origin of the entity bearing traces of design.

    This is science, not speculative philosophy. So, kindly stop trying to convert the discussion of the one into debates on the other that reek of the noxious, clarity-clouding smoke of burning strawmen.

    The string of immediately following questions is more of the same irrelevancies put in my mouth, and will be ignored until the core issue — as just again stated — is addressed.

    A few questions, though, are worth a remark or two:

    3] Why are you excluding the possibility that the “actions” of the designer are fully outside of the realm of being detected as causal events, so that only the results occur?

    We are looking at the specific, scientifically interesting and significant cases where design does leave empirically detectable (i.e. observable) traces [on the nanotech of life, on its elaboration to give us novel body plans, and on the fine-tuned factors underlying a life-facilitating cosmos such as we inhabit; cfr. the always linked which you have consistently refused to address on the merits] — and science is an empirically anchored field of study.

    FYI [or at least that of onlookers], here is Dembski on defining design theory [from my always linked, cf the online table of contents: "Defining "Intelligent Design" "], yet again:

    intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause? . . . Proponents of intelligent design, known as design theorists, purport to study such signs formally, rigorously, and scientifically. Intelligent design may therefore be defined as the science that studies signs of intelligence.

    In short, since situations where “the “actions” of the designer are fully outside of the realm of being detected as causal events” are obviously outside of the remit of science, your comment here also reeks of an attempt to change the subject to gain a rhetorical advantage.

    Onward speculation on such ill-founded assertions (e.g. the next question) simply compounds the problem. Kindly get back to the issue at stake; otherwise the red herrings and strawmen primed for burning are now strong clues that there is no credible objection on the merits, so distractions are being reverted to.

    4] Shouldn’t you explicitely include in your argument the limitation that the intelligent designer of ID cannot exist in all of space and time, or is bound by the same material limitations are we are?

    This, sadly, is more of the same distraction.

    The task of ID as a scientific investigation, is to examine empirical traces that may signal design, and then assess them on empirically anchored comparative difficulties to see if they do so reliably.

    Once design has been credibly established on certain key cases, then that credibly established FACT of design becomes an explanatory challenge to the theories and models that seek to explain such credible empirical facts.

    This has been done for certain key cases, and the real problem is that the result exposes the factual inadequacies of the popular and institutionally powerful evolutionary materialist paradigm and its handmaiden, so-called methodological naturalism. [At phil levels, evo mat has long been plainly shown to be incoherent, especially on accounting for the mind we need to think even materialist thoughts. Onlookers, observe how the quantum indeterminacy issues of a few days ago have now vanished without trace of response to the evidence presented above. Think about the implications of the rhetorical pattern of rushing on to the next objection.]

    5] Your arguments of causality and agency can be supported only with that requirement.

    Empty, selectively hyperskeptical assertion.

    All that is required, as already has been outlined just above and before, is to have a recognition of the need for a cause when we see that something had a beginning. [This rather reminds me of an incident at a vacation summer school, where in a Montserrat where we have an active volcano, a balloon went BANG! Every head instantly turned to see why. No prizes for guessing what that instinct tells us.]

    ID seeks reliable empirical traces of design.

    On criteria of reliability that are organically related to those commonly used in statistical and related inferences, we have identified several cases of interest.

    Design in turn implies designer, i.e. an act of mind.

    Mind, we know exists, from our own case. We know that mind creates purposeful, organised, complex entities that are information rich. In particular, FSCI is a known reliable sign of design, from ALL the cases of our direct observation.

    We also have good reasons, on the statistics of accessing islands of functionality in sufficiently large configuration spaces, to infer that chance cannot credibly access such islands on the gamut of the cosmos. For, once we have 500 – 1,000 bits of information storage or more, the config space so explodes beyond the merely astronomical that the observed universe does not have enough probabilistic resources.

    That is, it is maximally improbable for a random walk search starting at an arbitrary location to access the functional sub-spaces, even if augmented by functional selection at each stage.

    For, the decisive problem is to get to the FIRST functional state. Then, as Denton famously pointed out long ago now, island-hopping from one state to the next can be a further major challenge once each intermediate is sufficiently complex that a similar probabilistic resource challenge emerges.

    Thus, neither origin of life nor body-plan level bio-diversity can be explained on RV + NS etc.

    Similarly, given the organised, fine-tuned complexity of the physics of the observed, life facilitating cosmos — its operating system, if you will — we see that such a complex entity is again well beyond the credible reach of chance, absent resort to speculations about quasi-infinite arrays of sub-cosmi in an effectively infinite cosmos as a whole. That in turn raises the conundrum of the sub-cosmos making machine, not to mention the issue that this is empirically unanchored, ad hoc speculation.

    In short, the design inference meets the test of ADEQUATE evidence, and that is all that can be fairly required of it.

    GEM of TKI

  75. Kairosfocus, says when ” that which has a beginning has a cause, and the challenge to find a counter-example. Sadly, it is little more than a confession that you have none.”

    OK, since you’ve introduced religion, back in post 72, the counter example I’ve been dancing around is that the intelligent designer of ID is a God (I’ll not claim a God of a specific religion due to the political issues ID faces with regards to religion.)

    That God may be eternal – no beginning. That God may exist in all of time and all of space – all at the same time. If so, beginning may not exist for actions of the intelligent designer, and concepts of linear time may not exist for the intelligent designer. As a result, this God, i.e. intelligent designer, may produce results without causation. Or, may produce reaction before action. This intelligent designer/God may even be able to produce results in our domain of experience without any causality in our domain of experience.

    Your arguments that require causality for agency explicitely makes claims about a God that may be the intelligent designer. That is clearly overstating your argument. As such, your argument at least needs to be refined to explicitely exclude certain characteristics of a God that really may be the intelligent designer.

    If you want to debunk my claims because I don’t have evidence, well, I don’t have evidence about the properties of a God. Do you? If not, please adjust your premises to include questions about the intelligent designer / God which have not yet been excluded – and simply may be beyond any ability to exclude.

    BTW – none of what I have said impacts the design inference or the premises of ID. The purpose of my claims are to help your argument avoid false claims in the premise about the relationship of causality and agency, since the premise is not broad enough to accomodate a God which we do not yet comprehend as being the intelligent designer.

  76. PS: On IDC and the Darwinistas at Amazon . . .

    1] I went back to the Amazon page for Design of Life, to monitor.

    The Darwinista gaming the reviews campaign has now “buried” all positive reviews, so that the first “most helpful” ones that turn up are all negative and seem to come form having failed to read the book.

    Telling.

    2] IDC makes no further substantially responsive remark, other than speaking of my allegedly “failed” logic.

    Onlookers can judge for themselves just how “failed” the logic in question is, on what has now developed here, not to mention by looking at my always linked.

    My logic fails only if one gets away with selective hyperskepticism!

    But that is its own refutation, as it boils down to cherry picking cases and evidence by demanding unreasonable standards of “proof” for what one does not wish to accept on adequate evidence.

    3] I am particularly astonished to see his refusal to surrender the error of asserting that intelligent agents do not create information that is highly contingent [so improbable on chance alone as a specific outcome], as late as Dec 24:

    What I am showing is that Dembski’s reliance on probabilities fails since whether design is explained by natural processes or by an appeal to agency, both have high probabilities and thus low information.

    4] This, I will respond to:

    As a look at my always linked, section A will show, courtesy F R Connor in his classic, Signals:

    from a communication point of view it does not have its usual everyday meaning. Information is not what is actually in a message but what could constitute a message. The word could implies a statistical definition in that it involves some selection of the various possible messages. The important quantity is not the actual information content of the message but rather its possible information content.

    This is the quantitative definition of information and so it is measured in terms of the number of selections that could be made. Hartley was the first to suggest a logarithmic unit . . . and this is given in terms of a message probability. [p. 79]

    Going further, I expanded:

    To quantify the above definition of what is perhaps best descriptively termed information- carrying capacity, but has long been simply termed information (in the “Shannon sense” – never mind his disclaimers . . .), let us consider a source that emits symbols from a vocabulary: s1,s2, s3, . . . sn, with probabilities p1, p2, p3, . . . pn. That is, in a “typical” long string of symbols, of size M [say this web page], the average number that are some sj, J, will be such that the ratio J/M –> pj, and in the limit attains equality. We term pj the a priori — before the fact — probability of symbol sj. Then, when a receiver detects sj, the question arises as to whether this was sent. [That is, the mixing in of noise means that received messages are prone to misidentification.] If on average, sj will be detected correctly a fraction, dj of the time, the a posteriori — after the fact — probability of sj is by a similar calculation, dj. So, we now define the information content of symbol sj as, in effect how much it surprises us on average when it shows up in our receiver:

    I = log [dj/pj], in bits [if the log is to base 2, log2] . . . Eqn 1

    This immediately means that the question of receiving information arises AFTER an apparent symbol sj has been detected and decoded. That is, the issue of information inherently implies an inference to having received an intentional signal in the face of the possibility that noise could be present. Second, logs are used in the definition of I, as they give an additive property: for, the amount of information in independent signals, si + sj, using the above definition, is such that:

    I total = Ii + Ij . . . Eqn 2

    For example, assume that dj for the moment is 1, i.e. we have a noiseless channel so what is transmitted is just what is received. Then, the information in sj is:

    I = log [1/pj] = – log pj . . . Eqn 3

    This case illustrates the additive property as well, assuming that symbols si and sj are independent. That means that the probability of receiving both messages is the product of the probability of the individual messages (pi *pj); so:

    Itot = log1/(pi *pj) = [-log pi] + [-log pj] = Ii + Ij . . . Eqn 4

    So if there are two symbols, say 1 and 0, and each has probability 0.5, then for each, I is – log [1/2], on a base of 2, which is 1 bit. (If the symbols were not equiprobable, the less probable binary digit-state would convey more than, and the more probable, less than, one bit of information . . . )

    Thus, IDC is speaking nonsense, nonsense that takes advantage of the ignorance of his readers [and possibly reflects his own ignorance, but since he has some awareness of the definition above, and could easily have followed my link, I doubt that he is acting in innocent ignorance of the facts].

    The first issue is degree of contingency and information-storing capacity, then relative frequencies of symbols in the relevant vocabulary. Then we factor in the issue that symbols can be confused through one species of noise or another. Thus, so soon as we infer to signal not noise, we infer to intelligent message i.e. design, in the face of the issue of lucky noise [or just plain old fashioned corruption of the message].

    5] In short, information theory and communication science, as I noted above and highlighted in red in my always linked, inevitably rest on the validity of the logic of inference to design.

    6] Going yet further, we are not just interested in information storage capacity, but in actual functionality, especially where that functionality depends on a capacity of 500 – 1,000 bits or more.

    In such cases:

    we have now made a step beyond mere capacity to carry or convey information, to the function fulfilled by meaningful — intelligible, difference making — strings of symbols. In effect, we here introduce into the concept, “information,” the meaningfulness, functionality (and indeed, perhaps even purposefulness) of messages — the fact that they make a difference to the operation and/or structure of systems using such messages, thus to outcomes; thence, to relative or absolute success or failure of information-using systems in given environments.

    And, such outcome-affecting functionality is of course the underlying reason/explanation for the use of information in systems.

    –> The bottom-line is, that we know on good reasons tied to the principles of statistical thermodynamics, that such islands of functionality are excessively improbable for random-walk based strategies to reach, even on the gamut of the observed cosmos across its lifetime.

    –> And, we know that as a matter of routine observation and experience, intelligent agents commonly generate such FSCI — e.g the posts on this page and those over at Amazon.

    –> So, relative to what we KNOW, on empirical observation on the source of FSCI, reliably know, we freely and justifiably infer that similar cases that we just have not happened to see directly, are similarly designed.

    7] This leads to the cases of interest, which are so challenging to the Darwinistas and other evo mat advocates: origin of life, body-plan level biodiversity, the organised, fine-tuned complexity of the physics of the cosmos.

    On inference to best, empirically anchored explanation — the method of science — these cases are designed by intelligent agents.

    So, no claimed “scientific” theory that tries to suggest otherwise should now have any credibility, absent decisive evidence that FSCI is a known possible product of chance. (Natural regularities reflecting mechanical necessity do not produce high contingencies and indeed are low in information storage capacity.)

    So also, it is no surprise to see IDC in his insistent preference on evo mat, trying to dismiss the relevant facts and distorting the relevant body of knowledge and associated theory.

    8] What is sad and ever so revealing about the intellectual state of our civilisation, is that “201 of 222 people” found his “review” to be “helpful.”

    GEM of TKI

  77. PPS: Could someone with access to Amazon review posting kindly post some corrective remarks re IDC at the Amazon page?

    Thanks in advance.

    [BTW, is linking blocked there? If so, the date and thread here and the post number can be doubtless cited.]

  78. Typo in my post 75 above: instead of saying “is that the intelligent designer of ID is a God”, I meant to type “is that the intelligent designer of ID is possibly a God”. I don’t mean to assert that to be the exclusive possibility. I meant to show that kairosfocus’ premises exclude variations of that possibility. Unnecessarily exclude, I suggest, since it should be considered as a possibility for ID.

  79. ——-Q: writes “That God may be eternal – no beginning. That God may exist in all of time and all of space – all at the same time. If so, beginning may not exist for actions of the intelligent designer, and concepts of linear time may not exist for the intelligent designer. As a result, this God, i.e. intelligent designer, may produce results without causation. Or, may produce reaction before action. This intelligent designer/God may even be able to produce results in our domain of experience without any causality in our domain of experience.”

    Your assumption that the designer may not be subject to time and space is a fair one. So, let’s go from there. Is it not possible that God, as you explain him, is equivalent to Aristotle’s and Aquinas’ “causeless cause,” and therefore inscrutable? Is it not possible that this same God, who created and sustained the rational universe, also created and sustained the laws of cause and effect that help define its rationality—and—-created and sustained the variable of time which measures its motion—-and—–created and sustained the space and matter that make it quantifiable—–and created the big bang that started the ball rolling?

    Wouldn’t the omnipotent author of these events be capable of transcendence (existing over and above time, law, and matter) and immanence (existing in time, law, and matter) without violating the integrity of those laws? In other words, couldn’t he be a paradox without being a contradiction? Wouldn’t this same author, for that matter, be unbound by his own laws, which exist only at his pleasure, and therefore capable of suspending them temporarily for the sake of an occasional miracle?

  80. StephenB, I think the answer to your questions is Yes, all of that could be possible if the intelligent designer of ID is a God – without getting into any politically dangerous claims about a specific God. :-) However, other options may exist as well. Until the options are excluded by learning about the properties of the designer, it is improper to develop claims that make positive assertions about the designer, or exclude that which has not been excluded.

    Which ultimately gets back to Kairosfocus’ basic assertions linking causality, agency, etc.

    In post 29, specifically, he asks “whether or not what we routinely and generally observe stems from one or more of the causal factors: [a] chance, [b] natural regularity tracing to mechanical, law-like necessity, [c] agency?”

    If the intelligent designer is a God, and some of what we routinely observe stemmed from that designer, then it is quite possible – or at least not possible to exclude – that those observations don’t stem from causality. (See the points in 75 and 79 about including the possibility that a God/designer doesn’t need to exist in linear time, and need not be bound by any form of causality.) I’ve been suggesting that Kairosfocus’ premises should be expanded to accomodate that which has not been excluded, and maybe is beyond exclusion. Or at least, the arguments need to be qualified that they are limited by the various assumptions that were made with regard to the designer.

    For example, in the same post, he expands his premise to assert that “Intelligence is in other words predictable”. For intelligence that is bound by causality, I would not argue. But it is quite questionable to hold that claim about the intelligence of the intelligent designer – which may be a God. It would be quite a presumptuous claim to be able to predict the actions of a God – especially since it may exist in all of time, and hence be mutually exclusive to any sense of “predictability”. If Kairosfocus limits his argument to specifically that which is bound by causality – and recognize that the designer may not be – then his argument could make sense. As it is, the argument is incomplete.

    The assertions Kairosfocus makes about causality and agency that are independent of an intelligent designer are not really what I was challenging. The assertions that are framed in a way to make claims about all agency, including the intelligent designer, are the ones that I am saying require refinement. The same is true for assertions relating causality to the intelligent designer.

    As an aside, and not related to the overall discussion about his premises, I still suggest that his argument in 41 regarding the toss of a die in a game has the intention of making assertions about the intelligent designer. That’s why I still think his argument about the results of the die tossed in a game is overly complex, in how it links random chance with action, result, and agency.

  81. Q:

    I would have hoped that you would have recognised, first, that comment no 72 is by Frost, not by the undersigned. Thus, much of what obtains in your remarks in 75 is utterly misdirected.

    I would also have hoped that you would have noticed that there is a prior and vital issue in this thread, relating to the claims of IDC and other commenters over at Amazon.

    To a significant extent your own issues have thus been a distraction for the thread from a major point of concern that is worth a serious focus, an issue that tends to get lost in the bushes of the exchanges with yourself above. (For instance what I have had to delay up to today, at 76.)

    I will, however, make a few observations, in the hope that this thread can now return to a more helpful focus:

    1] the counter example I’ve been dancing around is that the intelligent designer of ID is [possibly] a God

    Now, if you had observed the chain of thought on “that which has a beginning . . .” all the way back to 42, you would have seen that there is a pr4ior, relevant question of contingent vs. necessary beings.

    If something has a beginning, it is contingent and does not emerge from nothing, but from a pre-existing reality, by one causal mechanism or another. Those causal mechanisms, per common observation, in turn rest on one or more of the factors: chance, necessity, agency. (The precise factors addressed by the explanatory filter.)

    But, a necessary being does not have a cause: it is beginningless and endless. And, a world of contingent beings points to such a necessary being as its causal root.

    Thence, the debates on the nature of that being, and BTW, one reason why the Big Bang implications of Hubble’s work were utterly unwelcome in many scientific quarters — it had been more or less assumed that there was a nice, handy eternal cosmos handy to serve as necessary being. But, after the collapse of the Steady-State model, a cosmos with a beginning is the only game in town — thence the resort to the metaphysics- in- the- guise- of- science known as the multiverse.

    It is a reasonable metaphysical argument that a personal cosmogenetic agent makes at least as good — and maybe better — sense than such a multiverse. Especially, when we see the fine-tuned, organised complexity of the required physics for cosmogenesis. {Thence some interesting exercises in comparative difficulties; this is phil not sci at this point.]

    2] beginning may not exist for actions of the intelligent designer, and concepts of linear time may not exist for the intelligent designer

    Once a space-time plenum exists and contingent objects exist in it, issues of before/after are relevant, and point to the cause of events and processes that play out according to relevant dynamics, with initial and boundary conditions. And, dynamical reasoning — the gold standard of scientific reasoning, ever since Newton! — is inherently causal.

    Thence, we see that what has a beginning has a cause, and that causal factors, per abundant and well-known, repeatable observation — reliably trace to one or more of chance, mechanical necessity and agency.

    BTW, a God would be an . . . AGENT.

    3] God, i.e. intelligent designer, may produce results without causation. Or, may produce reaction before action. This intelligent designer/God may even be able to produce results in our domain of experience without any causality in our domain of experience

    Let’s see, am I to interpret this as: creation is not causation? Mind is not causation? Cause based on the decision of an agent is cause! [Cf for instance the messages you have typed and posted in this thread. They are not explained by mechanical necessity or by chance forces amounting to lucky noise, but by deliberate agent action, as discussed above -- inconvenient empirical facts that, sadly, you have repeatedly ignored. Onlookers, no prizes for guessing why.]

    In short, I disagree with the highlighted from you, for excellent reason linked to our own personal experience of being able to create and cause things by using our minds.

    As to the notion of reaction preceeding action or the like — a rather crude, rhetorically loaded way of posing action based on foreknowledge of consequences, which even so finite and fallible creatures as we are, are able to do in part . . . based precisely on the power of mind to creatively anticipate situations and possibilities — that is irrelevant to the material issue of the design inference. Namely:

    –> empirical traces of design discerned in the FSCI-rich nanotech of the cell, or

    –> in the increments to such FSCI to innovate body plans, or

    –> to set up the organised complexity of he pre-requisite life-facilitating cosmos.

    I think the third cited remark is decisive evidence: causality in our domain of experience.

    We may not directly enter into another’s mind.

    But, we know the sort of things minds do, and may recognise characteristic traces of such agency, even where we do not directly observe it.

    4] your argument at least needs to be refined to explicitely exclude certain characteristics of a God that really may be the intelligent designer

    I need to speak plainly: so preoccupied are you with the presumed identity and characteristics of possible designers, that you are consistently missing the obvious, plain pattern of the actual argument and end up tilting at strawmen.

    Namely, the chain of reasoning is from the simplest of things — the empirical traces left by the action of agents, that are characteristic of the action of agents, as our experience testifies.

    To wit, manifestations of information-rich organised complexity.

    From such, we infer confidently — and by empirical test, reliably [as long since noted] — to agent action. Thus, we have no need to get into all sorts of endless speculations on what God is like or may do, in designing a reliable explanatory filter.

    No adjustments to premises are required. Nor are there false claims in the premises as shown in say 30 above.

    Excerpting and slightly adjusting for clarity the core of that design argument- in- outline:

    SINCE:

    [p] in all cases of directly observed origin of . . . FSCI the cause is intelligent agency,

    AND

    [q1] on excellent grounds tracing to the principles of statistical thermodynamics [cf my always linked, app 1 section 6 . . . observe onlookers: never addressed by either Q or IDC, though it is but a link away], this is likely due to the impotence of random-walk searches [including those functionally filtered before moving on to the next stage] on the gamut of the cosmos to find such islands or archipelagos of functionally specified complexity,

    NOTING

    [q2] that natural regularities tracing to mechanical necessity do not produce such highly contingent outcomes [that's why we speak of natural regularities!]

    THEN

    [r] We are well-warranted, on solid empirical and logical bases,

    TO INFER THAT

    [s] such FSCI is the result of intelligent agent action, even in cases where we do not see the causal process in action directly.

    –> Premises, p, q1 and q2 are well-established, credible facts. That you have not been able to address cogently.

    –> NONE of them relates to the nature or purposes or attributes of a God per se, save insofar as a God may act as an agent who leaves FSCI as a marker of such action. (Remember, the explanatory filter, due to the importance of what it does, is deliberately constructed to give false negatives in cases of less complex designs, such that it is reasonably possible that across the gamut of the observed universe, it may have happened as much as once by chance.)

    –> r is simply a statement that we are making an abductive inference to best explanation across the live option, well-known and easily observed causal factors, chance, necessity, agency. [Onlookers, observe that to date no credible fourth alternative factor has been put before us.]

    –> s is the inference to design relative to the premises and underlying empirical facts; noting that we are basing the case on the very strong general observation in p.

    –> All that would be required to overturn it is an observed, verified, credible exception.

    –> To date, after dozens of posts on all sorts of speculative issues, none has been proffered, the speculations on gods as suggested in 75 supra notwithstanding; which is why I took time to address these points even though I think them a distraction from the proper focus of this thread. That is telling, sadly telling.

    5] A few remarks:

    Now, other circumstances may lead us to infer to identity and characteristics or even intent of the relevant agents behind an observation of FSCI. Howbeit, that would in no way undermine the force of the chain of inference from observation of FSCI to reliable recognition of design to inference that agency is responsible for such design.

    Also, such further issues are neither my pre-occupation nor my current focus, nor even what [for good reason] I would prefer to address in this thread – nor is it relevant to the inference to design based on its empirical traces.

    In short, you have needlessly and persistently distracted the thread from far more serious concerns, as I have already noted. And in so doing, you have offered, repeatedly, unwarranted and adverse statements against not only my arguments but myself, that would serve rhetorically to undermine my credibility to effectively address the more important issues in the wider context of this thread. They also serve to distract the focus of the thread from what is centrally important.

    Indeed, I now believe your pre-occupations — I believe as a modern style theistic evolutionist who thinks that the design in the origin of life is indiscernible and “fits in” under NDT — led you to see what was not there: the undersigned as the person making remarks that led to this chain of comments I now have to correct.

    Even as you would be annoyed to see a Young Earth Creationist distracting the thread with his or her peculiar issues, I think it is fair comment for me to say you have done the same here.

    Please, think again about what you have done.

    GEM of TKI

  82. PS: I see more remarks, especially Q in 80:

    If the intelligent designer is a God, and some of what we routinely observe stemmed from that designer, then it is quite possible – or at least not possible to exclude – that those observations don’t stem from causality.

    But Q, a god, or God, is by definition, an agent.

    Thus, you remark intended to undermine analysing causal factors as being traceable to one or more of chance, necessity, agency, plainly self-destructs.

    And, as has been repeatedly pointed out and just as repeatedly ignored by you: we are not directly inferring to the identity of an agent, but to the act of design due sot observation of empirical traces of agency, reflected in organised complexity beyond the reasonable reach of mechanical necessity and chance on the gamut of the observed cosmos.

    In plain, direct terms — maybe this will get your attention — your remark just above is both self-refuting and based on addressing irrelevant strawmen.

    GEM of TKI

  83. Kairosfocus, in 81, pointed out a misattribution by me. He is correct, I apologize, and appreciate that he provided the correction.

    In 81, he mentions “we have no need to get into all sorts of endless speculations on what God is like or may do, in designing a reliable explanatory filter.”

    Sure. I’ve not been questioning the explanatory filter. I’ve been pointing out that your arguments are too broad, and end up making claims about the intelligent designer. Claims, I’ve shown, that are not supportable in their breadth.

    When you mention “But Q, a god, or God, is by definition, an agent.”, you are making the same point I’ve made. But, you did not address my concerns about the previous claims you’ve made regarding the relationship between causality and agency. When the claims are so broad as to make assertions about the intelligent designer of ID, it is necessary to drop the claim that all agency is related to causality the same. The agency of the designer must be expected to be wholly different than the agency of a person playing a game – that designer may be a God, but the game player isn’t.

    Your comment of “we are not directly inferring to the identity of an agent” relates to my points as well. I’ve not said that the identify of the designer is being inferred. But, the study of ID is to infer the results of a designer. Your arguments, however, do so by making claims about agency and causality, and then because your arguments aren’t sufficiently limited, they include the inference that the intelligent designer of
    ID is consistent with those claims. Your arguments need to be revised to avoid making inferences about the limitations under which the designer may operate.

    For instance you query “Let’s see, am I to interpret this as: creation is not causation?” When making claims about causation that are so broad as to include the designer, can you even safely assert that “creation” even occured? Sure, those of us that are not the intelligent designer may observe something being “created”. But a designer that exists in all of space and time? Creation to the designer may be meaningless.

    If you want to limit your arguments of causality (or creation) to that which can be observed by us – or something like that – feel free. But please don’t make statements that are so broad as to make suggestions about the designer.

    fin

  84. Q:

    Apology accepted.

    I see there are additional points that require further remarks, and I will then move back to main focus, first by outlining and linking to the key comments I have made on the Amazon Darwinista “reviews” of Design of Life.

    That is after all, the central issue of this thread, and it is an important one as it exposes the agenda and tactics that we face. So now, by way of a few (hopefully closing off) remarks on the side issues that have dominated this thread to date:

    1] Q, 83: I’ve not been questioning the explanatory filter.

    In fact, Q has been repeatedly challenging the logic of the explanatory filter — and frankly, a LOT of thought in sci and even phil or day to day common sense reasoning – which rests on recognising that causality is real and leaves detectable traces that point to its source. These traces relate to one or more of the three generic causal factors, chance, necessity and agency. Each is a logically possible (and in fact often observed) cause [which is all the metaphysical commitment that the EF needs or makes], and in many situations all act, as in the prime example I have repeatedly given:

    heavy objects tend to fall under the natural regularity we call gravity. If the object is a die, the face that ends up on the top from the set {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6} is for practical purposes a matter of chance. But, if the die is cast as part of a game, the results are as much a product of agency as of natural regularity and chance. Indeed, the agents in question are taking advantage of natural regularities and chance to achieve their purposes!

    As I noted immediately following this excerpt from Section A of my always linked: [t]his concrete, familiar illustration should suffice to show that the three causal factors approach is not at all arbitrary or dubious — as some are tempted to imagine or assert.

    2] your arguments are too broad, and end up making claims about the intelligent designer.

    Onlookers, the only commitment I have made at the outset — and Dembski before me, and statistical inference based on null hypothesis rejection etc for that matter — is that the three commonly observed causal factors may be acting into a given situation. So, the EF sets out to filter out cases that may beyond reasonable doubt be attributed to design even though we may not have been there to see the relevant agents in action.

    Inference to the specific candidate agents is a step that then may occur under whatever label is relevant, whether science, or archaeology or forensics or philosophy.

    In short, there is one thing that5 Q has NOT done, i.e. he has NOT shown that the claims I have made are unsupportable in their breadth. Indeed too often above, he has put in my mouth claims that were not there and has as a result tilted at strawmen. Sadly, even at the end, haveing had to accept that he misattributed a series of claims to me, he still seems unable to see that he has been tilting at a strawman in general.

    3] When you mention “But Q, a god, or God, is by definition, an agent.”, you are making the same point I’ve made. But, you did not address my concerns about the previous claims you’ve made regarding the relationship between causality and agency.

    First, AGAIN, the only commitment I have made is that we commonly — and without clearly identifiable exception [onlookers, observe that even after dozens of posts, Q cannot come up with a clear exception that does not fit in under one of the three factors] — observe that there are three major causal factors: chance, necessity , agency.

    In particular, I observed that gods, or God, would be agents. That is, intelligent actors capable of having purposes and creatively synthesising plans and effecting them towards those ends.

    Now, above in 75, Q identified “a God” as a proposed “exception” to thew cuausal pattern of factors, chance, necessity, agency. I simply pointed out that a god or God would obviously be an agent. Indeed, in my always linked, in addresing what intelligence is, I long since noted:

    . . . let us identify what intelligence is. This is fairly easy: for, we are familiar with it from the characteristic behaviour exhibited by certain known intelligent agents — ourselves. Specifically, as we know from experience and reflection, such agents take actions and devise and implement strategies that creatively address and solve problems they encounter; a functional pattern that does not depend at all on the identity of the particular agents. In short, intelligence is as intelligence does. So, if we see evident active, intentional, creative, innovative and adaptive [as opposed to merely fixed instinctual] problem-solving behaviour similar to that of known intelligent agents, we are justified in attaching the label: intelligence. [Note how this definition by functional description is not artificially confined to HUMAN intelligent agents: it would apply to computers, robots, the alleged alien residents of Area 51, Vulcans, Klingons or Kzinti, or demons or gods, or God.] But also, in so solving their problems, intelligent agents may leave behind empirically evident signs of their activity; and — as say archaeologists and detectives know — functionally specific, complex information [FSCI] that would otherwise be improbable, is one of these signs.

    4] When the claims are so broad as to make assertions about the intelligent designer of ID, it is necessary to drop the claim that all agency is related to causality the same. The agency of the designer must be expected to be wholly different than the agency of a person playing a game – that designer may be a God, but the game player isn’t.

    Note on the idea of God: in short, we see here the concept that God is so utterly other that a human cannot be made in his image! That may be true of Islam’s view of God, but it is certainly not the only possible position on the relationship between humans and God.

    More seriously, I have long since pointed out that the concept intelligent agency can be grounded in our own experience and observation. Once we do so, we can identify a functional pattern that we can then use to recognise an agent by his or her — or for that matter, it’s [I make no commitments on agents needing to be in sexes like we humans are] — actions and the empirically observable traces thereof. Especially, organised, functionally specified, information-rich complexity.

    Indeed, as I discussed at length in my always linked, Appendix 1 section 6, on the principles that underly statistical thermodynamics [and linked information theory] we have excellent reason to accept that this inference is highly reliable.

    5] But, the study of ID is to infer the results of a designer. Your arguments, however, do so by making claims about agency and causality, and then because your arguments aren’t sufficiently limited, they include the inference that the intelligent designer of
    ID is consistent with those claims. Your arguments need to be revised to avoid making inferences about the limitations under which the designer may operate.

    Excuse me. This is like complaining that because Cricket is not like Football it is not a legitimate game.

    To see what I mean: I have long since noted that the design inference process, per Dembski, is interested in one specific area of study — one which addresses specific cases of highly significant interest:

    intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause? . . . Proponents of intelligent design, known as design theorists, purport to study such signs formally, rigorously, and scientifically. Intelligent design may therefore be defined as the science that studies signs of intelligence.

    To study a delimited area, with significant implications, is not at all to make claims about all that agent causation can do, it is simply to provide a way to reliably identify based on characteristic traces of agents in action that may occur in such cases, that agents have acted in certain situations where we were not there to watch.

    This is not at all to constrain agents to “have” to act in such ways in all cases, nor is it a global a priori commitment on the nature of any one being that may be called a god or God, etc.

    Nor is it the case that the arguments are not “sufficiently limited.”

    They are simply studying one case of interest — given that agents are known in some cases to leave traces of their action that show characteristics of organised complexity. That we identify such a case on the nanotechnology of the cell “only” entails that the evolutionary materialist account is empirically and factually inadequate. That is, it is a paradigm in crisis in the face of the ever expanding knowledge of the complexity of the information systems and technologies now known to be operating in the cell.

    On the organised complexity of the cosmos, it is now increasingly evident as well that agency is a credible candidate explanation of what we observe.

    The resort to the ad hoc metaphysical prop of multiverses in the guise of “science,” simply reflects the broadening and deepening crisis that now engulfs evolutionary materialism as a paradigm of science and as a broader worldview. (And that is what is reflected in the desperate tactics of the Darwinistas over at Amazon.]

    [. . . ]

  85. 6] When making claims about causation that are so broad as to include the designer, can you even safely assert that “creation” even occured?

    To consider that creation — onlookers, observe my use of the lower case “c” — is a possible action of an agent is not to declare affirmatively and a priori that it has occurred. That is, to refuse to rule out agents as a possible empirically detectable causal force is to refuse to beg metaphysical level questions.

    And, that brings us back to Kant’s blunder by self-contradiction (his “little error at the beginning”) — again, as long since commented on correctively but unfortunately overlooked or ignored.

    In effect Kant asserted that we can “only” know within the circle of our minds, i.e the phenomenal world of things as they appear to us, not the actual world of things in themselves. So, our knowledge relates to a mental infrastructure of categories that we impose on sense-data that may flow in and be filtered through our senses. So, to infer to agent cause is “necessarily” to impose within our minds the category of agents and to invite all sorts of triumphantly strawman-battering rhetorical issues on how such an assumption is a priori, ill-founded, unnecessarily limiting etc, etc, etc. [All of this should by now sound quite familiar.]

    But in fact, all of this is utterly unnecessary. For as the philosphers Kreeft and Tacelli note on Kant’s philosophy in their ever so useful modern resurrection of that classic medieval genre known as the “summa” — Aquinas’ was only one of many, on many domains of learning — quite aptly:

    [Kant's] “Copernican Revolution in philosophy” was the claim that our knowledge does not conform to a real object but vice versa . . . All the form, determination, specificity or knowable content comes from the mind and is projected out onto the world rather than coming from the world and being impressed upon the mind . . . .

    Kant’s “Copernican revolution” is self-contradictory, just as simple [radical or selective] skepticism is. After all, if Kant was right, how could he possibly have known he was right in terms of his system? He couldn’t. He could never know that there are “things- in- themselves,” onto which the knowing self projects all knowable content. That would be knowing the unknowable, thinking both sides of thought’s limit.

    There is a half truth in Kantianism. Some knowledge is conditioned by our forms of consciousness(e.g. Colors by the eye, measurements by artificial scales and ideological positions by personal preferences). But even here there must be some objective content first that is received and known, before it can be classified or interpreted by the knowing subject.[Handbook of Christian Apologetics, (Crowborough, England: Monarch, 1995) pp. 372 – 373.]

    In short, Kant inescapably claims to know what he, on the premises of his system, cannot; refuting himself. So, we can freely take it that we do in fact receive objective though potentially fallible information from the external world, which we then respond to. So, for instance, as Royce pointed out: “error exists” implies that there is knowable truth. (To see that just try to deny that little claim – it is undeniably true as the attempted denial will instantiate its truth.)

    So, we ARE discussing what may objectively be in the external world not just in our perceptions considered as pre-filtered mental data, and preconceived infrastructure of ideas. So, we can experience and observe agency, and can identify recognisable empirical signs of it, at least on the provisional basis that is the inevitable constraint on scientific reasoning. Then, we can note that such agents routinely leave recognisable traces of their actions: from the digital text of messages all the way to the pyramids, cave-paintings, burials in beds of flowers and flint-knappings of ancient men.

    But in fact, all of these reflect the characteristic that agents as we observe them from our daily experience, are creative, so creation objectively occurs as a mark of agent action, as I noted all the way back to point 3 in post 29, to IDC over at Amazon:

    H’mm I always thought Napoleon used to say that when you have an opposing general pinned down to one of two options, each bad, he will “predictably” choose the third one. That is the unpredictable option.

    IDC, FYI, the essence of intelligence is that it is rational, and so will follow logic in general, but [is] also creative, and so is able to do the utterly unexpected and unforeseen.

    In short, small-c creation occurs, and is a sign of agent action based on the creative power of mind. Thus, my response to the original remark by Q, that “God, i.e. intelligent designer, may produce results without causation. Or, may produce reaction before action. This intelligent designer/God may even be able to produce results in our domain of experience without any causality in our domain of experience” was well warranted.

    That brings us to the capstone of all the above remarks by Q:

    7] those of us that are not the intelligent designer may observe something being “created”. But a designer that exists in all of space and time? Creation to the designer may be meaningless.

    On the corrective contrary:

    1 –> Once we observe that something is created, as discussed, creation occurs and is known to be a manifestation of agency.

    2 –> In the products of such creative action, we observe organised, purposeful complexity.

    3 –> In particular, the results of creative activity often show functionally specified, complex information [FSCI].

    4 –> And, in EVERY case where that happens, and we directly know the cause, FSCI is a reliable sign of agent causation.

    5 –> Thus we are well warranted to infer inductively relative to empirical evidence, that FSCI is a marker of agency.

    6 –> Thus, we are well-warranted to use the explanatory filter to identify cases of FSCI and to infer from its presence that design is present and agent action has occurred.

    7 –. Cases of interest include – as is discussed in my always linked – origin of life, body plan level biodiversity, and the fine-tuned, organised complexity of the physics of the observed cosmos.

    8 –> Thus, the evolutionary materialist paradigm and its cascade of evolutions by chance + necessity only from hydrogen tot he first humans, is plainly and objectively and credibly shown to be deeply, probably inescapably factually inadequate.

    And thereby hangs a long tale on the increasing desperation of the Darwinistas.

    GEM of TKI

  86. ALL:

    On the Darwinista “reviews” of Design of Life at Amazon:

    1] My original observation on the first four negative “reviews” of books that by and large were not read, is here at no 7 on Ms O’Leary’s original Dec 19th thread on how Darwinistas don’t believe in information.

    2] I then followed up with a summary on some of the then existing positive reviews, at no 9. By contrast the positive reviewers gave evidence of having read and trying to actually review, the book.

    3] Dec 22, Gil Dodgen followed up with a thread on how the spin campaign backfired. Larry Fafarman raised the issue of John Kwok’s “review.” I had included it as one of my four original reviews on the reviews, not realising that this was a particularly controversial case. I commented at no 15, concluding with reasons given:

    In short, this is a case of unjustified personal attack, propagation of what Mr Kwok should know is blatant and slanderous misrepresentation and associated tyrannical miscarriage of justice carried out in the teeth of easily accessible facts to the contrary, AND it is coming from a Judge who under the US Constitution as properly understood, simply has not got jurisdiction on what he claims to be ruling on.

    It is certainly NOT a well-structured, fair minded book review. . . . .

    IMHCO, the “review” should not be hosted at Amazon.
    Those who are so uncivil that they can’t see why, are telling us a lot about themselves.
    Not to mention, also about why it would be dangerous to give such evo mat- driven secularists further power over the public square and key science, education and governmental institutions.
    What was that about “long train[s] of abuses and usurpations,” again . . . ?

    4] in no 17, I followed up on what is the apparent root of Kwok’s remarks, namely:

    Mr Kwok’s core reason for rejecting the design inference on OOL and body-plan level biodiversity — and, one presumes, probably on the best explanation of the fine-tuned, organised complexity of the physics of a life-facilitating cosmos [cf my always linked for details] — is his advocacy of so-called methodological naturalism, compounded by his acceptance of Hume et al over Paley et al.
    The basic problem with this is, of course, that it in effect baldly asserts or implicitly assumes that no scientific explanation may properly infer outside or beyond the entities permitted by evolutionary materialist views of the origin of the cosmos [considered to be THE TRUTH] and what we see in it, up to and including the wholly endogenous emergence of intelligent agents such as ourselves. This is of course the same view taken by “Copycat” Jones in his notorious Dover Ruling, duly and slavishly following the ACLU’s post trial script [errors, misrepresentations and all], the NCSE’s advocacy, and the NAS’ declamations, etc. [Cf my always linked, Appendix 2.]
    But in fact, this boils down to a basic error in logic: the basic question is closed-mindedly begged at the outset, and is disguised under the alleged authority of today’s “consensus” of scientists and associated philosophers and historians of science.

    –> I then went on to explain just why I drew that conclusion.

    5] In turn that brings us to this thread, which Dr Dembski started Dec 20, by highlighting a particularly blatant case of Darwinista defensiveness and want of basic civility:

    The following 1-star review, posted 8 hours ago, illustrates the Darwinists’ level of discourse at Amazon:
    >>By E. Duran (San Jose, CA USA) – See all my reviews
    I just finished reading this book without vomiting. I had to go back and read Darwin’s “Origin of Species” again to remove the bad taste out of my mouth.>>
    This is the whole review, unedited and unabridged. Even more pathetic is that “44 of 50 people found the following review [i.e., Duran’s review] helpful.” (As of 4:10pm CST, 20Dec07)

    –> That tells us a lot, and none of it is pretty as we go into the new year – traditionally a time for good cheer and happy hopes..

    –> But, that grim prospect is what we will have to face and answer and counter if Western Civilisation is to survive in any form worth the keeping.

    6] As the above will show, my first remarks were at 29 – 30, responding to IDC’s claimed knockdown rebuttal to the design inference. I showed that he simply does not know what he is talking about. [Onlookers who want a fast look at the issue in a bit broader context may want to look at my always linked.]

    7] Of course, IDC came back to this at his review on Amazon, and in so doing further showed up his gaps in understanding and associated arrogantly dismissive hostility. [Also, at this point, Q's interventions came up . . .]

    8] I came back to IDC in 41 – 42, noting the overlap in cases made by him and Q, and using that to structure my response. This same theme of overlap came back up in 45, later that Christmas Day.

    9] In 46, I specifically took up IDC again, stareting at point 7 on IDC’s atempt to reduce agency to chance + necessity: In other words, agency is nothing different from chance and regularity.

    –> To do that, I focussed on the significance of FSCI:

    observe how neatly IDC side-steps explicitly addressing the key “circumstantial evidence” and “physical evidence” issue that agents routinely leave empirical traces of their actions, i.e. organised complexity, often seen as FSCI. For, it is precisely the presence of functional, information-bearing patterns towards credible goals that would otherwise be vastly improbable that fingers agent action in forensic, archaeological or similar scientific situations.

    In that context, motive, means, and opportunity are obviously factors relating to purpose.

    –> in point 8, I challenged IDC to come up with a well demonstrated account of his claimed fallacy on my part: the fallacious claims of materialism being impotent to account for a credible mind .

    –> Of course, he has never answered the case on the dynamical impotence and resulting logical incoherence of materialism in accounting for mind, which can be seen here for the price of a single click, but also which I laid out in 41 to Q [then I was under the impression Q was a plain simple evo mat advocate, based on the remarks he had made hitherto].

    [ . . . ]

  87. 10] In point 9, I answered to IDC’s attempted dismissal that “Kairosfocus understands that his position is not one of science but philosophy .” Namely:

    observe: I have put the science in its philosophical context,and have explicitly identified that the explanatory filter is an application to a “novel” case of a well-proved, commonly applied mechanism of inference used in scientific contexts.

    11] IDC then went out, dragging a red hering behind, to the predictable oil-soaked strawman: the claim by ID that design is that which remains once we have eliminated known (and unknown) processes of regularity and chance, fails to show that the remainder is either the empty set (when all known and unknown processes have been eliminated), or ‘false positives’ when not all unknown processes have been eliminated or ‘the supernatural’ which cannot be captured by natural processes of regularity and chance.

    –> But in fact, “the actual fact that we routinely see chance, necessity and agency in action is dodged, to try to cloud the atmosphere with the burning smoke of the philosophical strawman “

    –> Notice, too that IDC simply refuses to engage even the simple case of a tumbling die as an instance of how comprehensive and subtly sophisticated the analysis of causal factors as tracing to chance, necessity and agency is.

    –> He then reverts to blind faith in the rubber-cheques issued by evo mat advocates in the name of the promise of the progress of “Science.” Sorry, too many bounced cheques and IOUs, we ain’t taking anything but raw cash here today.

    –> How can we forget that IDC advocated NOTHING – the empty set! — as a credible causal force!

    –> The notion of false positives onteh excpanatory filter was trotted out, without a single cited instance, i.e another rubber cheque.

    –> And of course, the strawman is then ignited, clouding the air with noxious smoke: ‘the supernatural’

    12] This astonishing bit of ignorance working as rhetoric on IDC’s part has to be remembered for posterity: If something can be explained as intelligently designed, the amount of information is zero.

    –> First, the posts on this thread, and over at Amazon were plainly intelligently designed. Would IDC care to defend the thesis that the information content of these posts including his own is ZERO because they are intelligently designed?

    –> In passing, in 54 – 55 above, I addressed an attempt to dismiss the flagellum by reference to a recent dubious paper published in that now ever so compromised journal, nature. Excerpting and directly referring to and excerpting detailed technical rebuttals of the arguments used by Pallen and Matzke.

    –> Now, not only did IDC claim that intelligent agents produce no information, but in his onward comments on my comments, he kept it up. So, we see that he later said, Dec 24:

    What I am showing is that Dembski’s reliance on probabilities fails since whether design is explained by natural processes or by an appeal to agency, both have high probabilities and thus low information.

    –> I excerpted this in 76, point 3 and gave an introductory level technical response using F R Connor etc from 4 on – this is a “flunking Info theory 101”- level remark on IDC’s part, as I warned him. (In my classes on the topic if he had said something like this in a quiz answer he would have got a richly deserved 0 for the question.)

    –> The heart of the point is as F R Connor so eloquently summarised in his classic Signals:

    Information is not what is actually in a message but what could constitute a message. The word could implies a statistical definition in that it involves some selection of the various possible messages. The important quantity is not the actual information content of the message but rather its possible information content.

    This is the quantitative definition of information and so it is measured in terms of the number of selections that could be made. Hartley was the first to suggest a logarithmic unit . . . and this is given in terms of a message probability. [p. 79]

    –> As I amplified, what happens is that symbols selected from a vocabulary are transmitted and appear in messages that have relative frequencies for given symbols sj which can then be turned into an a priori probability pj, which may then be detected correctly a fraction of the time corresponding to the after the fact probability dj. So, we wuantify information as: I = log [dj/pj] , which in the case where we and more or less put dj = 1, gives us: I = log [1/pj] = – log pj , so that when we have two sub-messages i and j, Itot = log1/(pi *pj) = [-log pi] + [-log pj] = Ii + Ij .

    –> Thus, the information content of messages can be quantified, and of course we routinely observe intelligent agents giving out information, which may be so quantified say in bits as in the messages int this thread and over at Amazon.

    –> But also, and ever so tellingly,

    the question of receiving information arises AFTER an apparent symbol sj has been detected and decoded. That is, the issue of information inherently implies an inference to having received an intentional signal in the face of the possibility that noise could be present.

    –> IDC of course routinely makes that inference when he tries to rebut Dembski and Wells or even the far more humble undersigned, but to do so, he roputinely accepts that FSCI is a reliable index of agent action.

    –> Why then – apart from, e.g., selective hyperskepticism rooted in a closed-minded, question-begging commitment to evolutionary materialism — does he wish to reject the same implication when he sees say the far more information-rich, functionally specific and fine-tuned content of DNA?

    GEM of TKI

  88. Q:

    This analysis will be brief, because I am not going to try to resolve issues that, apparently, you do not want to resolve. Frankly, I am beginning to wonder if even you can make sense out of your multiple objections. I suspect that either postmodern skepticism has rendered you impervious to reason, or else you were simply creating a distraction to the main theme of the thread.

    You begin with a [who-made-God] argument, followed by an [inference-is-a-presupposition] argument, followed by a [agent-cause-could-be-a-material-cause] argument, followed by a [creator can’t be a cause] argument, followed by a [mind-is only-a-brain] argument, followed by a [cause/effect-relationship-is-unfathonable] argument, followed by a [philosophical-reality-is-different-from-physical reality] argument, followed by a [cause-is-only-an-inference] argument, followed by a [self-evident-truth-is-really-a-presupposition] argument], topped off with an [I’m-not-a-materialist-but-I-really-am] argument. I stop here not because it completes the picture, but rather because I have pity on the poor onlooker, who may not want to process any more of them in one sitting.

    Perhaps I am being unfair, and perhaps I am not. My experience has taught me that as intellectual objections increase in number, the probability that they are sincere decreases proportionally. That and the fact that all of these “distractions” run concurrently with all of these mindless reviews of Dembski’s new book causes me to be suspicious of your motives as well.

    For what it is worth, I suggest that you abandon the errors of Hume/Kant and return to the principles of right reason. Begin with Mortimer Adler and work your way back to the “little error in the beginning.” Equally important, reread kairosfocus’ well-thought-out-posts without “looking for loopholes.”

  89. StephenB, I understand your concerns about what looks like a meandering argument. The problem I had in the construction of my argument is that I was trying to avoid the explicit introduction of religious principles. But, those priniciples were in the background of my argument from the first post, where I questioned the relationship of causality and agency. I admit, my method was far less than stellar.

    To provide some context to my motivations, in another thread, I pointed out that my interest in various aspects of ID is related to my career as a high school science instructor. Essential to the classroom presentations is the message of causality – presented as action and reaction – and that an agent that causes action is at a different time, an agent on which the result of the causality acts. Essentially, at the high-school level, almost everything presented in science must be consistent with Newtonian mechanics – an agent is involved either in the cause or the effect, which leads to new causes and effects. In that regard, most of Kairosfocus’ arguments would fit in such a classroom.

    However, working causality backwards to when an intelligent designer is introduced into the process, the logic eventually fails. Astute students will immediately observe this.

    For example, I immediately expect such a discussion to be something along “Evidence suggests that life is too complex to have arisen through materialistic means. The best answer for the origin, and variation, of life is that it was the result of the actions of an intelligent designer.” With the reply, “But Mr. Q, how?”, expecting some materialistic extrapolation of cause and effect.

    Or with the reply, “Then Mr. Q, does that mean that the designer is materialistic or not?”, observing the potential conflict of the constraints on a designer vs the constraints on the “real world”.

    Or with the reply, “Mr. Q doesn’t that mean that the designer must be God?”, immediately realizing that the constraints on the “real world” need not apply to an understanding of the intelligent desginer.

    My point was meant to be that whatever arguments are used to link causality, agency, etc. in the observable world, they leave a void in how to address those student’s questions. That tells me that the arguments used to link causality, agency, etc. must have limitations applied so that they do not make false inferences about a designer.

  90. Here are three answers that you could give:

    [1] Mr. Q answers: Intelligent innovation is different from mechanical necessity. For that reason we can only detect the EFFECTS of intelligent agency. We can detect the design in an ancient hunter’s spear, but we cannot discern the process by which he constructed it.

    [2] Mr. Q answers: Intelligence is by definition non-material, but it can influence the material world. Your mind is non-material, for example, but you can design a house and build it by organizing matter in a purposeful arrangement.

    [3] Mr. Q answers: One cannot establish the identity of the designer scientifically, because it can only detect the effects of intelligent innovation. The designer may well be God, but it need not be. Our best philosophers believed that it was God, so that’s probably the best answer.

    Here is the answer I suspect that you would probably like to give:

    [1] Mr. Q answers: There is no such thing as immaterial realities, minds, or any such thing as design in nature. How can there be design when everything is in flux and by definition cannot be a product of a purposeful creator. We live in a mechanistic universe that can be explained by physical laws and determined behavior. Why complicate things by introducing such a thing as God, mind, soul, spirit, and free will. There are only brains and you are nothing but an accident of nature.

    Answer [1] will suffice for answers [2] and [3].

  91. I] StephenB:

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I hope my remarks at 86 – 87 give an adequate summary on what is in fact the main focus, proper, of this thread of discussion.

    However, I see the exchange with Q on incidental and tangential matters continues, and I see you havbe pointed out a significant summary on the core issues and objections Q has made.

    I do think a remark or two on causality additional to your clear comments, will help. So, DV I will speak to them, and then briefly turn to the Amazon “reviews” watch.

    II] Q:

    I see your:

    Essential to the classroom presentations is the message of causality – presented as action and reaction – and that an agent that causes action is at a different time, an agent on which the result of the causality acts. Essentially, at the high-school level, almost everything presented in science must be consistent with Newtonian mechanics – an agent is involved either in the cause or the effect, which leads to new causes and effects. In that regard, most of Kairosfocus’ arguments would fit in such a classroom.

    However, working causality backwards to when an intelligent designer is introduced into the process, the logic eventually fails. Astute students will immediately observe this . . . [89]

    I remark, and bearing in mind the educartional issues of the advanced High School and College contexts [having successfully taught science and related areas, as well as critical thinking (and even introductory philosophy), at both levels]:

    1–> Now, your working causality backwards to when an intelligent designer is introduced into the process reveals a key gap in your conception. Intelligent designers do not have to be “introduced” by “ working causality backwards” until we get to the remote past, they are present here and now, and their patterns of behaviour and traces of action are very experience-able and observable.

    2 –> Thus, we may properly form the first level of an empirically anchored understanding of agency by looking around us and reflecting on our own actions. For instance, as has been raised multiple times above, consider the tossing of dice to play a game, or the typing up and posting of messages on a PC to go to this blog thread. Also, an analysis of cause through even the classic material, efficient, final and first causes would help clarify the concept. In particular, cause is at least simultaneous with effect [consider a fire], but in some cases is prior to it.

    [BTW, overnight, thanks to one of those shower-time brainwaves [a manifestation of creativity beyond mere logic . . .], I added a discussion to my always linked, on how we could create an information system out of dice and so we can contrast random arrangements of dice with meaningful ones, here.]

    3 –> Once we do that, we can see that intelligent designers use mind and intelligence, which affect the material world in ways that manifest themselves informationally, as already discussed and as admirably summed up by StephenB: : Intelligent innovation is different from mechanical necessity. For that reason we can only detect the EFFECTS of intelligent agency . . . . Intelligence is by definition non-material, but it can influence the material world. Your mind is non-material, for example, but you can design a house and build it by organizing matter in a purposeful arrangement.

    4 –> In particular, functionally specified complex information is an important manifestation of intelligence in action, and is a reliable indicator – when it is present – of such agency. In particular, we have no known cases where, having observed FSCI [NB a subset of CSI that is particularly recognisable as to specification] and directly knowing the causal history of an object or event, it does not trace to agent action. So, we confidently but of course provisionally inductively generalise: FSCI is a reliable empirical, observable sign of intelligent design, thus of agent action behind that design.

    5 –> Further to this, reflection on the underlying statistical thermodynamics principles of situations with large contingency spaces and linked Information Theory [cf the always linked, App 1 section 6 for a clarifying thought experiment case study] leads us to see why. Namely, when we have a sufficiently large config space – over 10^150 – 10^300 cells [corresponding to ~ 500 – 1,000 bits of storage capacity], then a random walk based search – even with stage by stage functional filtering – that starts at an arbitrary location in the config space is maximally unlikely to find points, islands or archipelagos of relevant functionality. [BTW, given the old statistician's mnemonic, NOIR, the information storage capacity part is measurable in bits or similar units, and specification and fine-tuning can be sen through functionality and isolation in the config space. We may also rank complexity on a scale from simple to extreme complexity using the scale of the relevant configuration space.]

    6 –> In certain cases of scientific interest, we see FSCI: nano tech of the cell, increments in same to get to the body-plan level of biodiversity. The organised, fine-tuned complexity of the physics of the cosmos to get to a life-facilitating cosmos is also a case in point. (Cf my discussion in the always linked.) Thus, on empirically anchored, provisional – and classically scientific – inference to best explanation, these cases are agent-produced.

    7 –> As Thaxton et al discussed ever so long ago in their classic TMLO [the actual foundational technical level book of the modern design theory, Barbara Forrest, NCSE, ACLU and Judge “Copycat” Jones etc notwithstanding – cf Appendix 2 the always linked], the agent in the former two may, on the evidence we have, be within or beyond the observed cosmos. Of course, the former raises the onward issue of the first case of life in our cosmos – and to date we have no evidence that decisively points to life anywhere else in our observed universe. Thence, too, we face the issue of the fine-tuned, life facilitating cosmos.

    8 –> Now, the inferred cosmogenetic agent would necessarily be beyond the observed cosmos, and would be vastly powerful and intelligent, probably also – if s/he exists – being the necessary being behind our observed cosmos of contingent beings that on current scientific thought credibly itself had a beginning at the Big Bang some 13.7 BYA.

    9 –> These attributes of this agent are indeed some of the characteristics of the idea of God that is at least vaguely familiar to us from the historically important worldview known as Theism [which was the worldview of many of the founders of modern science and arguably contributed tot he birth of science], but strictly speaking, inference to such an agent while consilient with such a Deity, is not a proof of his existence beyond rational dispute. Thus, we see some of the debates over multiverses. And since those debates plainly go far beyond the reach of empirical data, they are worldview-level debates: no-one should be allowed to get away with “titular credibility” rhetorical games through labelling his thinking on such matters “Scientific,” especially if s/he is going to use that label to then dismiss alternatives without serious consideration.

    10 –> Instead, the discussion should be based on sound philosophical method: comparative difficulties across live options on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power [elegant, not simplistic or ad hoc]. That is, one has a right to his or her opinions, but should be prepared to discuss it ands alternatives on an objective, civil and fair but fearless basis among the circle of the informed. This is a requirement of sound citizenship and leadership. (Want of this is part of the reason our civilisation is in deep and rapidly deepening trouble.)

    10 –> In short, the logic of my argument, plainly, does not falter or fail; whatever Q may wish to assert. [Onlookers, follow back up the thread for details.].

    III — > Amazon “reviews” watch:

    62 reviews as of this post, 28 x 5 *, 33 x 1 * , 1 x 3 *. The 1-star “reviews” still dominate the “most helpful,” an none of the three posted are actually credibly reviews based on reading and seriously responding tot he book, DOL.

    “208 of 230” claim to find IDC’s “review” helpful. He has been unresponsive to the corrections of his gross blunders here at UD, especially his notion that intelligent agents do not create information, as was most recently addressed by me in 87, point 12. So great and fundamental is his blunder that it deserves to be again highlighted:

    If something can be explained as intelligently designed, the amount of information is zero.

    To this, my simple direct response is:

    . . . the posts on this thread, and over at Amazon were plainly intelligently designed. Would IDC care to defend the thesis that the information content of these posts including his own is ZERO because they are intelligently designed?

    Over to you, IDC.

    The unplayed ball is plainly in your court.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Would one of UD’s readers or commenters who has a customer account at Amazon care to post a summary of the correctives by myself and others as a part of a review of IDC et al?

  92. StephenB mentioned “Here is the answer I suspect that you would probably like to give: …”. I understand why you may be cynical, but that is not a fair assumption.

    I appreciate your comments – especially the comment that [1] (I assume the first [1] in post 90) would be sufficient. Specifically, you mentioned “[1] Mr. Q answers: Intelligent innovation is different from mechanical necessity. For that reason we can only detect the EFFECTS of intelligent agency. …”

    That was an essential part of the point I was trying to make – that with the intelligent designer of ID, any claims about the causality of its agency must stop at effect, and can’t extend back to cause. Which is different from other analyses of causality, in which cause and effect can be included. I apologize for being so wordy or clumsy that it wasn’t clear. Besides, in a high-school science class, that form of answer correlates to the answer of the big-bang – science can’t answer what caused it, but it can try to answer what it caused.

  93. Q:

    RE your response to StephenB’s Intelligent innovation is different from mechanical necessity. For that reason we can only detect the EFFECTS of intelligent agency. …”, i.e.:

    Q: That was an essential part of the point I was trying to make – that with the intelligent designer of ID, any claims about the causality of its agency must stop at effect, and can’t extend back to cause. Which is different from other analyses of causality, in which cause and effect can be included.

    First, here is SB’s context:

    Intelligent innovation is different from mechanical necessity. For that reason we can only detect the EFFECTS of intelligent agency . . . . Intelligence is by definition non-material, but it can influence the material world. Your mind is non-material, for example, but you can design a house and build it by organizing matter in a purposeful arrangement.

    In short, you have quote-mined SB, Q; distorting what he ACTUALLY said — a general point about agents we can observe every day in the here and now — into a strawman making a point that “supports” your agenda.

    That’s not cricket.

    Worse, had you simply and plainly addressed the point SB DID make, you would at once have seen the obvious answer to your labourious attempts to push designers as far away from recognisability as you can get.

    Namely, that we are immediately familiar with the fact that design is a mental activity that manifests itself in reliably empirically recognisable and identifiable material traces: e.g. the FSCI in a house, such as the one in which you may live. (Thus, any attempt to restructure science [and reasoning about cause-effect more generally], that — as we have now seen repeatedly in this thread — cannot account for something as familiar as the houses in which we live, is blatantly intellectually bankrupt.)

    Please, please, rethink Q; and consider what you are still diverting this thread from dealing with.

    GEM of TKI

  94. As for misquoting, Kairosfocus, I suggest that you rethink my position, if not only slightly. You mentioned to me “you would at once have seen the obvious answer to your labourious attempts to push designers as far away from recognisability as you can get.”

    My point is that I am not making claims about the designers. I am asking that claims about intelligence/agency/causality be structured so that they do not provide inferences about the designer.

    Your argument still provides inferences about the designer.

    Just like you did immediately did above in 93 when you wrote “we are immediately familiar with the fact that design is a mental activity …” How can you know or even safely infer that the designer has mental activities? (rhetorical, no additional reply needed.)

    Nontheless, I agree that this turned into a threadjack – I did not intend to, but in my interest of pursuing the topic, I lost track. I apologize for that.

  95. Q: Since we have come this far, I may as well ask the final question: If we cannot safely infer that the design is a product of mental activity (intellectual innovation?), what would the option or options be.

  96. Q:

    Re your:

    My point is that I am not making claims about the designers. I am asking that claims about intelligence/agency/causality be structured so that they do not provide inferences about the designer.

    To this, I respond:

    1 –> Kindly provide an empirical case where [1] design, or [2] traces of design such as FSCI occur and where [3] we directly know the causal story, where [4] an agent as designer is not implicated. [This you have not been able to do all along this thread. Cases of design by agents in action are routinely available, including your own posts here. More on the increasingly evident purpose of your actions below.]

    2 –> Note, too, I have explicitly and repeatedly pointed out that [on much experience and observation] FSCI is an index of design (i.e of purposeful, creative, intelligent action), not only on observation and experience but also on good grounds based on the vast improbability of chance searching out large configuration spaces to find islands of functionality. [Natural regularities trracing to mechanical necessity simply do not lead to high contingency: oxidiser + fuel + heat --> fire.]

    3 –> Also, I have separated the empirical detection of design based on a sign thereof, from the secondary inference to its known, routinely observed source: intelligent agency.

    4 –> Then, I have drawn the conclusion on inference to best explanation that even where we do not see an agent at work directly, we have good inductive reason to hold that FSCI is a reliable sign of design.

    5 –> I have then drawn atrtention to key cases: OOL, body plan level biodiversity, and the organised, fine-tuned complexity of the physics of the cosmos we observe. These all on IBE are cases of design.

    6 –> Thus, no scientific theory, research programme or worldview associated therewith that is unable to address the evidence poiniting to such design, is properly credible.

    7 –> Thus, evolutionary materialism is intellectually bankrupt and should not be foisted on pupils in our schools or students in College or the general public as “science.”

    That you, at this point, evidently insistently refuse to see the force of or respond appropriately — cogently, on the merits — to this chain of argument is telling. For, dismissals and repeated question-begging assertions in the teeth of common sense and experience [such as the cite above] are not cogent arguments.

    To wit, I am very close to concluding that your intent here is more to play rhetorical games and distract attention from a serious issue, the proper focus for this thread; than to deal with any really serious issue.

    Indeed, your last comment is precisely a classic example of the attempt to unwarrantedly push designers out of the picture, that I pointed out earlier today. You have no just cause for complaint against my fair comment to that effect.

    I would therefore caution you to pay heed to the advice of StephenB above, a Moderator.

    Meanwhile, over at Amazon: 30 x 5*, 33 x 1*, 1 X 3*. The Darwinista gamers still hold the “most helpful” reviews slots. Jurassicmark’s review is exemplary.

    In toto:

    As a biologist I read this book with much interest. And as I was very familiar with the arguments for macroevolution, both pro and con, I had a knowledge base on which to judge this book. My conclusion is, it is an excellent, very balanced, well documented review of the evidence. The authors, both PhDs in the math and science area, in this work relied heavily, not on their opinions, but on the peer reviewed literature to produce this balanced work. It will be of much use to all readers no matter which side of this now very hot and contentious controversy the reader is on. Often this controversy produces more heat than light, but this work provides much more light than heat. The authors show that an inbuilt mechanism for adaptation exists in all life and gives two excellent examples. One is people in hot, humid climates tend to be tall and thin and people in cold climates short and heavy. The authors then explain why. One reason is all life has 2 or more genes for most traits and all populations have a set of 2 or more genes for most all traits. These produce different gene combinations that can be selected, or are epigenetically influenced, resulting in the body shape differences found in different climates. These examples demonstrate that microevolution often occurs due to inborn systems that create adaptation to local environments, and often not due to classical Neo-Darwinism. This fact is support for design (this is my conclusion) not evolution, defined as time, chance, and mutations producing variations selected by natural selection, or the goo to you by way of the zoo creation story. The author shows that everyone is a creationist, the difference is disagreement over who or what did the creating. I also read all of the negative reviews and it is clear that most all of these reviewers did not read the book. One way I know this is, in the first part of the book, are several very glaring errors and not one of the negative reviewers caught them. If they even read the first few chapters they would have caught these errors. Every book that I have read has mistakes (especially textbooks, something I have learned from first hand experience).

    –> BTW, JM, could you itemise the errors you observed; so they can be corrected pronto?

    –> I agree on the issue of errors. Indeed, way back my own profs used to caution that their lectures were not perfect and students were responsible at that level to pick up and correct errors.

    Unfortunately, by sharp contrast, 210 of 232 claim to find IDC helpful, and he is still missing in action on his blunder that intelligent agents do not produce information.

    GEM of TKI

  97. StephenB – I agree with you that this diversion should be brought to an end in this thread. To do so, I’ll give the answer to your final question of “If we cannot safely infer that the design is a product of mental activity (intellectual innovation?), what would the option or options be.”

    As you suggested in [1] above, we don’t know the options with regards to the intelligent designer of ID. Because, we have no way of knowing the nature of the designer. We might infer the nature, but that is no more than a guess.

    I say a guess, even though some may argue that the guess/inference makes sense. But, identifying any of the options about the designer of ID, including its mental activities, is no more than a black-box invstigation. That is, we first make observations about our experiences that describe links between agency and causality. Then, we examine the observable results of another event, and extraplate the causality – like that the intelligent designer of ID must have mental activity. The underlying assumption is that the new situation shares similar properties as the earlier situations.

    But, we know with certaintude that the designer need not operate with the same properties – because the designer could be in all of time and space, not experiencing beginning or end, and have other differences that have been considered through history.

    This is why I’ve been insisting, but will discontinue doing so in this thread (unless others bring it up again for clarification), that the claims about agency and causality must not be phrased so broadly as to make positive assertions about the intelligent designer of ID.

    Contrary to the assertion of Kairosfocus that I want to “push designers out of the picture”, the opposite is true. I’m suggesting that options for the designer be left open – and not excluded through inferential arguments – lest the arguments unduly exclude the true nature of the intelligent designer of ID. Even logical inferences need not pan out every time.

  98. Q: Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to simply say, “You know, I just can’t think of any other options, so intelligent agency is the most likely explanation.” As G. K. Chesterton once said, “the purpose of opening the mind is to close it on something solid (truth). Somehow, you seem fearful or unwilling to do the closing—even when a ton of evidence from above and below is trying to push your jaw shut. Bless your heart.

  99. StephenB, yes, including the caveat of “the most likely” as part of the explanation makes much sense.

    Kairosfocus was making his position in more absolutes, however.

  100. kairosfocus:

    In the spirit of full disclosure I must acknowledge that I am not a moderator—only a humble blogger.

  101. I: StephenB:

    Thanks for the correction.

    Your G K Chesterton cite is spot on.

    II: Q:

    RE:

    we don’t know the options with regards to the intelligent designer of ID. Because, we have no way of knowing the nature of the designer. We might infer the nature, but that is no more than a guess.

    I say a guess, even though some may argue that the guess/inference makes sense. But, identifying any of the options about the designer of ID, including its mental activities, is no more than a black-box invstigation.

    –> The crucial error is in the highlighted: we are agents ourselves, so investigating inference to design is NOT a black-box investigation. It is an open box explanation.

    –> Then, we are able to detect reliable signs of intelligent agency in action, e.g. FSCI.

    –> Absent adverse worldview implications for the evo mat view, we would not hesitate to confidently induce that on the evidence in hand the nanotech of the cell, the increments in informatio0n to get body plan level biodiversity and the underlying organised complexity of the life facilitating cosmos are on reliable induction also designed by agents.

    –> In short, selective hyperskepticism.

    III] Re Amazon watch:

    Nos of reviews is the same overnight.

    IDC’s review is up to “211 of 234″ finding it “helpful.” I now see a page 2, up to Dec 28, and that IDC has yet to deal with his decisive blunder.

    So great and fundamental is his blunder that it deserves to be again highlighted:

    If something can be explained as intelligently designed, the amount of information is zero.

    THAT is the level of what “211 of 234″ find “helpful.”

    To this sort of Darwinista ignorance, my simple direct response is, again:

    . . . the posts on this thread, and over at Amazon were plainly intelligently designed. Would IDC care to defend the thesis that the information content of these posts including his own is ZERO because they are intelligently designed?

    Over to you, IDC and co.

    The unplayed ball is plainly in your court.

    GEM of TKI

  102. PS: Q, kindly read what I have repeatedly said, cited and linked on the inherent, inescapably provisional nature of scientific inference, here, and even here [for teachers] or here. [for students and the wider public].

    In short, your implication — even possibly insinuation — of unwarranted dogmatism on my part is in the teeth of easily available evidence to the contrary. I have pointed out that science is inherently provisional and workds by empirixcally anchored inference to best explanation — AKA abduction. The design inference is of just this order and is therefore scientific.

    What is happening, onlookers, is that well-warranted implications and explanations of evidence [cf the always linked and the above] are cutting across the expectations of a dominant worldview in the academy, and so selective hyperskepticism in the form of Cliffordian/ Saganian evidentialism is being trotted out in its defence.

    We must not let that happen.

    Happy New Year.

    GEM of TKI

  103. Kairosfocus said in 101, “The crucial error is in the highlighted: we are agents ourselves, so investigating inference to design is NOT a black-box investigation. It is an open box explanation.”

    Wow. How about this course correction: We are agents ourselves, so when we investigate ourselves and the world around us, we can consider it as an open box investigation.

    But, nothing in the known world binds the properties of the intelligent designer of ID to our properties. This alone imposes limitations on how far we can extrapolate our knowledge to make claims about the intelligent designer. The intelligent designer of ID is in a metaphorical black box, to us.

    You have no evidence – because none is physically or logically available – that the intelligent designer is or must be bound by the same laws that provide the observations about the real world. As such, your arguments that extend to make positive assertions about the intelligent designer of ID must be modified to avoid making such claims. The confidence of those claims must be reduced to that appropriate to extrapolation, a weak form of induction.

    BTW: I did read your linked information. Your comments about induction on that site even confirm that your explicit claims about the intelligent designer on this site are stated with unfounded confidence. Check here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductive_reasoning to see the limits of the inductive claims you’ve made about the intelligent designer of ID.

    Kairosfocus says “I have pointed out that science is inherently provisional and workds by empirixcally anchored inference to best explanation — AKA abduction. The design inference is of just this order and is therefore scientific.”

    I agree with you on this, and have not been arguing that point – unless the inferences are extended to make positive claims the intelligent designer of ID. You’ve made such claims several times on this thread.

    I think StephenB helped me to see the difference in our arguments. Claims about the “best” explanation have implicit limits. That is, they are constructed around some external criteria, to provide the basis of “best”. “Best”, for example, may be “that which most correlates to observation.” I don’t dispute that much of your argument includes the element of “best explanation.” But, “best” is not necessarily the same as “truth”. Your claims, when extended to the intelligent designer so that they give positive claims about the designer, are framed as though they are “truth” -i.e. this is how the designer is.

    Maybe we’re just talking past each other. Perhaps you implicitly meant that your specific and explicit claims about the intelligent designer are open to doubt, and that your best explanations don’t really extend to making claims about the intelligent designer as though they are truth. I don’t know.

    Can we delay this for a different time? I am concerned about the back and forth in a threadjack.

  104. Q: Again, you drop a rhetorical bomb and then ask for an immediate postponement of dialogue; do one or the other, but not both..

    Your comments on induction make it clear that you are still bound by the Hume/Kant imperative, which, in effect, reduces all inferences to a presupposition.. Unless, you consult Adler’s “little error at the beginning,” you will continue to doubt the integrity of your own mind.

    In approaching this problem, we have only two choices. Either we accept the paradox of theism (dualism) or we must live with the contradictions and self refuting absurdities of materialism (monism). In other words, we have a choice between truth (in the form of “virtual certainty” not apodictic certainty) and error (unreasonable uncertainly or hyper-skepticism)

    A designer’s mind is not bound to the physical laws of cause and effect, even though the designer’s body most certainly is. This is a paradox; it is not a contradiction. Our mind is independent of and can cause changes in the physical universe, while our brain is, at the same time, subject to those same laws. If you cannot understand or refuse to accept the distinction between the mind and the brain, you cannot acknowledge the connection between the immaterial agent and the material causal chain.

    Hearken back to my example about the mind as the causal agent that arranges matter in such a way that a house is brought into existence. By your logic, we cannot, without having had prior experience on the matter, safely assume that an intelligent agent started the ball rolling. In effect, you are rejecting the kind of self-evident truth the makes rationality possible in the first place. You are doing the very same thing that Hume/Kant influenced so many to do—reject the correspondence between our mind and the real world. I notice that you did not follow up on my suggestion to consult Adler and his explanation of the “little error in the beginning,” Instead you chose to visit Wikipedia, who has made it their business, either through ignorance or malice, to institutionalize this error. So why would you send us to that site for “instruction.”

    In fact, there is nothing to prevent us from reasoning our way all the way back to the first agent as an originating cause. The ultimate designer, as immaterial agent (perhaps a pure non- material spirit and not a composite of body and soul [mind] as we are), need not be “in” the causal chain to be a causal agent. Remember, the non-material can influence the material without being material. If the ultimate designer is God, then God is outside those laws even as He brings them into being and sustains them. That means that he in not bound by his own laws. If you question this argument, then you must also question Aristotle’s “prime mover” argument as well. Moving backwards in the causal chain allows us to conclude only the EXISTENCE of an intelligent agency—not its essence or its identity. The designer’s ATTRIBUTES must be a matter or philosophical speculation or religious belief, or, as in the case of human agency, prior experience, because science simply cannot take us there. We should think neither too little (Hume/Kant skepticism) nor too much (apodictic certainty) concerning what reason can do.

    There is no real disagreement between kairosfocus and myself about the level of confidence involved. I am not positing, as you suggest, that the inference is merely a best guess. My conditional language acknowledges only the line between “virtual certainty” and “apodictic certainty.” From a scientific perspective we accept virtual certainty as truth because it is the only rational way to live. Hyper-skepticism bids us to live in the twilight zone between virtual certainty and apodictic certainty. Cynics often visit that land but no really lives there. As someone once put it, “even the solipsist looks both ways before crossing the street.”

  105. Stephen B:

    VERY well said!

    I think I can let your remark stand as the final word on the substantial issues raised by Q.

    On observing that Q reportedly works in the US education system, with ACLU et al breathing over his shoulder and lawsuits or dismissals threatening at the drop of a hat or an unguarded politically incorrect remark — shades of of days and places one had thought were relegated to the darker pages of history — I think we can now understand the dilemma he faces; thanks to the Judge “copycat” Joneses et al of this world.

    –> For shame, ACLU! For shame, NCSE!

    –> For double-shame, Ms Barbara Forrest!

    –> For double-dip double-shame, US and world Media!

    –> For triple-dip, triple-shame, educators and academics!

    For quintuple-dip, five- times- five- thousand- quintillion- times over shame, educated people as a class!

    For, it is plain that the design inference is so strong that it is compelling on the merits.

    So strong in fact that the only way to resist it in the secularism-distorted educational setting of the USA is to resort to patent absurdirties stemming from rejecting self-evident truth about ourselves and other intelligent agents!

    The above thread is proof enough of that.

    Maybe, Design of Life and other similar works can help us climb out of the hole we have dug ourselves into.

    That of course brings us to the look at the state of the Amazon “reviews” mess.

    A second reasonable review has happened in recent days, though marred by an unreasonable expectation of the book, that it should be in effect a new research compilation and the dismissal of cogent arguments. But read it, the second 3* review, here.

    A flavour-giving excerpt of Mr Marshall’s effort:

    It’s actually a pretty good overview of the ID position, by and large. I was surprised to find it came in the form of a sort of textbook, with study questions at the end of each chapter — I was hoping for something more on the order of original research and arguments. Strangely, though, at times the authors explain very elementary terms, then later will use several technical terms in short order, without explaining them.

    The book is well-illustrated. The chapter on the origin of life sets the issues out particularly well. I’m wary, though, of the post hoc view of chemical evolution (230) — what’s the chance of lucky combinations of amino acids forming a certain protein, for example. The real question is, what structures would they form, and would those structures prove useful? But the authors make some good points about chemical barriers to biogenesis.

    As reflected by the reviews, it seems to me the authors often take positions that are too argumentative. “Analyzing existing species to support one or another theory of speciation, however, is not the same as observing speciation in action.” (98) Of course not, but come on — you can’t just ignore the similarities. “The fossil record doesn’t support the Darwinian claim that the major taxonomic groups are connected to one another by biological descent.” Doesn’t support at all? Such a sweeping generalization strikes me as folly. Or have they found a rabbit in the Cambrian?

    I’m also tired of the ID argument that similarity in living things could be explained just as well by a common designer as by a common ancestry (140); this seems terribly ad hoc to me. God could just as well be entirely original with each new species.

    I should note en passant, that when one is providing a balancing work and is int he context of comparative difficulties across live options, one is not making a circular argument. It is the unreasonable demand to present the evolutionary materialist view of origins as though it were established unquestionable fact doubted only by the “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” that is circular and in this context an utterly indefensible resort to indoctrination and mind manipulation in the classroom.

    A glance at the comments on the Jurassicmark review starts with John Kwok’s — obviously habitual — personal attack and name-calling, then it heads south from there.

    Brent Mortimer replied at first in kind, then after several comments presented a reasonable outline of the ID case — it was voted down just like his other comments; so that one has to explicitly request that the post be shown. [And, Mr Kwok -- a self-proclaimed libertarian! -- has the nerve to call Dr Dembski a "fascist" and advocate of censorship for objecting to Mr Kwok's own earlier personal attack in the name of a "review"???]

    Sad, and ever so telling on Mr Kwok and ilk.

    With the long train of abuses and usurpation now on repeated public view, we would be well advised to recognise the Darwinistas as would-be tyrants, and to turn back their power grabs — before it is too late.

    GEM of TKI

  106. Dr Dembski, Dr Wells and Ms O’Leary:

    I took a further follow-up look at the Darwinista “reviews” and see evidence of outright slander and possible libel. (Are not the Amazon people responsible for the contents of their web site?)

    At minimum, several of the tactics and claims exposed below need to be brought to the attention of the public so they can see for themselves what is going on on the ID issue on the part of the Darwinistas.

    Maybe the below and some previous stuff needs to become part of Expelled, as someone else suggested.

    Okay, to monitoring:

    –> The reviews count on DOL is the same this AM, 65.

    –> The Darwinista “gaming” pseudo-reviews still dominate the “most helpful” list.

    I decidewd to take a look at the Marshall, 3* review and see what happened with comments:

    1] Strike ONE . . .

    For instance, here is S Allen’s attempt to answer to Marshall’s unanswered request on “instances of mutations that produce helpful biological innovations”:

    1. Antibiotic resistance in bacteria
    2. Lactose tolerance
    3. Resistance to atherosclerosis
    4. Immunity to HIV

    Just to name a few. You can find a larger list plus details here:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/mutations.html

    –> In short, this Darwinista — duly having been misled by TalkOrigins and the like ilk of dishonest advocates — has not seen that there is a major difference between minor changes to existing biological information systems and the required evo mat mechanisms to credibly sustain origin of life and body-plan level biodiveristy.

    This alone is sufficient justification for the need for a current basic, textbook level survey of the issue of design as it pertains to biological systems that are rich in functionally specified, complex information.

    Of course, DOL is precisely such a textbook, pace all the Darwinista objections to such a presentaiton. Their own ignorance betrays their arguments!

    2] Strike TWO . . and TWO-A

    Peter Irons [of "Mr Kwok can freely personally attack Dr Dembski in the name of a review but Dr Dembski cannot properly complain about it" infamy, rated as the no 1 "most helpful review . . ."]] then weighs in with this “helpful” piece:

    David Marshall’s review provides a good place to note that the “Star Wars” battle over Dembski’s book was actually started (on Dec. 20) by Denyse O’Leary on the Uncommon Descent blog she co-edits with Dembski, who had whined on UD about the very first one-star review by John Kwok. Dembski briefly persuaded the Amazon people to remove Kwok’s review

    –> In fact, Denyse responded at Dr Dembski’s request to an already mounting Darwinista gaming of the reviews, DECEMBER 19, here.

    Opening words:

    Bill Dembski has drawn my attention to the Darwinists who vote up negative reviews at Amazon of Design of Life, his textbook supplement with Jonathan Wells, on whose behalf I blog at Design of Life blog. He writes,

    >>[WD] The Design of Life has 13 five-star reviews and 4 one-star reviews. None of the one-star reviews give evidence of the reviewer having read the book. [This, I confirmed here at comment no 7 on the Dec 19 O'Leary thread in my own first review on the "reviews."] Yet the three reviews placed front and center by Amazon are the one-star reviews and none of the five-star reviews appear there. That’s because the Darwinists keep voting up the negative reviews and voting down the positive reviews. Please go to the link right now, look at the reviews, and vote on them (toward the bottom of a review are “yes” and “no” buttons for whether a review was helpful).>>

    These naysayers may not be people who have read the book. Any more than the Darwinbots who assailed the showing of The Privileged Planet at the Smithsonian can be presumed to have seen the film. (Had they done so, they would have known that the film was not “anti-evolution”, as a New York Times reporter had incorrectly reported).

    The Darwinbot’s duty is not to see or hear or know, but merely to stupidly protest.

    –> And now there is a twisting of the truth of the narrative through this second “HE HIT BACK FIRST” complaint.

    Later in the same commen Mr Irons goes on to claim that “I caught Dembski in a case of “attempted copyright violation” in his book.”

    Namely, he claims that:

    The problem for Dembski is that the illustration (a still capture from a video) is from a pro-ID video called “Unlocking the Mystery of Life,” while the “as seen at” footnote refers to a video called “The Inner Life of the Cell.” What happened was that Dembski originally wanted to use (without permission of the “Inner Life” copyight holders) a still from their video, and put the purloined still in his book. But, after Dembski was caught using the “Inner Life” video in a lecture in September at the University of Oklahoma, prompting the copyright holders to complain loudly, Dembski stripped the “Inner Life” still from his book and substituted the “Unlocking” still. But he forgot to also strip the incriminating footnote, citing the “Inner Life” still. Not a really big deal, since Dembski aborted his intended copyright violation. But this episode, IMO, reflects poorly on his integrity and undermines the book’s credibility.

    –> As I understand it of course there is a very different side to that story, as was reported here at UD Nov 22 by Dr Dembski:

    in September of 2006 I announced at my blog UncommonDescent that a “breathtaking video” titled “The Inner Life of Cell” had just come out . . . The video was so good that I wanted to use it in some of my public presentations, but when I tried to purchase a DVD of it (I sent several emails to relevant parties), I was informed it wasn’t ready . . . .

    Although the video was at the time and remains to this day widely available on the web (YouTube has many copies — go, for instance, here), most simply have some background music that do not explain the relevant biology. A few months after announcing the video at UncommonDescent, I found on the Internet a version of the video that did add a voiceover, giving the relevant biology, and was in a format that allowed me to incorporate it into my PowerPoint presentations. I used the video a handful of times, including at a talk in Oklahoma this September. In consequence, some biologist(s) in the audience contacted the makers of the video, falsely suggesting to them and on the web:

    (1) That I myself had modified the video and given it a new soundtrack.
    (2) That I had stripped it of its copyright information.
    (3) That I had retitled it “The Cell as an Automated City.”

    Each of these allegations is false. Regarding (1), I downloaded from the Internet a version of the video with a voiceover describing the relevant biology. It seemed to me accurate and to have the best educational value for my listeners. The version I used took the original soundtrack, which simply had music, and added a voice. I had nothing to do with modifying or recrafting or authorizing the production of the video (in particular, that is not my voice on the video). The video I showed is the one I downloaded.

    Regarding (2), the version I used omitted the opening credits (a fact about which I became aware only in the last few days), beginning instead with the actual animation; however, at the end of the video that I showed, there is the following copyright notice:

    Conception and Scientific Content
    by Alain Viel and Robert A. Lue
    Animations by John Liebler / XVIVO
    Supported by the Howard Hughest Medical Institute
    Copyright (c) 2006. The President and Fellows of Harvard College . . . .

    Finally, regarding (3), the phrase “The Cell as an Automated City” was simply a caption for the video as it appeared in my PowerPoint presentation (a caption I used in context with the preceding slide). It was never meant to be a retitling of the video. Indeed, that caption never bled into the actual video but was always separate from it in my PowerPoint presentation.

    I continue to this day to think that “The Inner Life of the Cell” is the best animation illustrating cellular activity. But there are other videos that make the same point. From now on, I will no longer use it and instead go back to using a clip from “Unlocking the Mystery of Life.”

    –> this puts a very different colour on Mr Irons’ claims, and not in his favour at all.

    But also, notice the CONSISTENT rhetorical pattern: we see yet again the use of unjustified personal attack in the hope that it will distract people from looking at the case on the merits.

    –> And, if one uses a clip from a source pending permission while a book is in draft, but withdraws it from the book on failing to obtain permission [which is what the cited evidence obviously substantiates], that is NOT stealing, Mr Irons.

    –> Worse, the actual evidence of the videos is that the macromolecules of life in play in the cells information systems are of course vastly beyond the reach of chance + necessity on the gamut f the observed cosmos.

    [ . . . ]

  107. 3] Strike-out!

    Darby M’Graw then completes the Darwinista strike-out:

    You were expecting original arguments in an ID book? Dude, you have so not been paying attention for the last century and a half. IDers don’t do any research. Go read the Wedge Document and find out what ID is really about.

    –> I guess the list of peer -reviewed publications at the DI web site does not count.

    Nor, plainly, does Minnich’s research presented in open court to Judge “Copycat” Jones who then went on to deny the facts in front of him, on the advice of the dishonest advocates over at ACLU and NCSE.

    As to socio-cultural agendas, I guess the obvious evidence that the response of DI is to an existing and open secularist agenda does not count: HE HIT BACK FIRST again.

    4] On the Wedge strategy . . .

    BTW, for readers’ information, this is what the “infamous” Wedge Strategy is, in core essence [the entire document can be perused at the linked page]:

    In 1996 Discovery Institute established the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (since named the Center for Science and Culture—CSC). Its main purposes were (1) to support research by scientists and other scholars who were critical of neo- Darwinism and other materialistic theories of origins, and to support those who were developing the emerging scientific theory of intelligent design; (2) to explore the larger philosophical or world-view implications of the scientific debate about design as well other philosophically-charged issues in modern science, and (3) to explore the cultural implications of competing philosophies of science and worldviews. With respect to (2) and (3), it has been a particular interest of the Center to counter the idea that science supports the unscientific philosophy of materialism.

    From the beginning the Center has focused its attention on scientific discoveries and theories that raise larger philosophical, world-view or cultural issues.1 For this reason, Center Fellows examined theories of biological and cosmological origins as well as theories in the social and cognitive sciences that raise questions about human nature. More recently, the Center has begun to address bioethical issues arising from developments in bio-medical technology.

    It is in the context of our concern about the world-view implications of certain scientific theories that our wedge strategy must be understood. Far from attacking science (as has been claimed), we are instead challenging scientific materialism—the simplistic philosophy or world-view that claims that all of reality can be reduced to, or derived from, matter and energy alone. We believe that this is a defense of sound science.

    With this in mind, we have supported research that challenges specific theories (such as neo-Darwinism, chemical evolutionary theory and various “many worlds” cosmologies) that provide support for the materialistic vision of a self-existent and self-organizing universe.

    We also have supported research that challenges theories (such as behaviorism, strong AI (artificial intelligence) and other physicalist conceptions of mind) that have portrayed humans as completely determined animals or machines.

    Naturally, many of our scholars and scientists are also working to develop competing hypotheses and theories, including theories of intelligent design and theories that defend the reality and irreducibility of human agency, responsibility and consciousness.

    As it happens, many of these fellows think that new discoveries in science either support, or are consonant with, a “broadly theistic” world-view. The “Wedge Document” makes the philosophical significance of our work—its challenge to scientific materialism and its favorable implications for theism—known to potential supporters. Even so, the case that our scientists have made against neo-Darwinism or for design is based on scientific evidence. Scientists of various (and no) religious persuasions have formulated such arguments (see below). Their work stands on its own.

    In any case, the “Wedge Document” articulates a strategy for influencing science and culture with our ideas through research, reasoned argument and open debate. As our not-so-secret secret document put it, “without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.”

    We fail to see any scandal in this. Nor have we been able see how any fair-minded person who had actually read the “Wedge Document,” or who had any acquaintance with our actual work, could attribute to us the nefarious views and motives that Professor Forrest and others have assigned us. The “Wedge Document” articulates a plan for reasoned persuasion, not political control.

    For shame, Dr Forrest and fellow Darwinistas!

    Uncle Charlie is turning in his grave over at Westminster Abbey on what his supporters have become!

    GEM of TKI

  108. PS: For the record,and for fair-minded onlookers, here is DI’s list of ID-supportive peer-reviewed etc scientific research.

    IMHCO,this alone is more than sufficient to give the lie to the mindlessly repeated claim that ID thinkers do not do publishable professional grade research, and the associated philosophically question-begging and historically unjustified allegation that ID is “not science.” [Cf Dan Peterson's telling review on the culture war that has now exploded even into reader reviews at Amazon. Notice in particular his remarks on the contribution of design thinkers to the advance of science.]

    Moreover, in light of the notorious events over Mr Sternberg and Mr Gonzalez, we ALSO know that there is a Darwinista campaign of censorship, career busting, calumny, slander and libel to discredit such ID research and researchers.

    [Surprise, the DOL pseudo-review campaign is plainly yet another stanza on this sickening song of oppression and injustice by advocates of a world view that is in a lot of trouble on the merits: evolutionary materialism. Shades of the deceptive en-darkenment and destructive power games by the power-brokers in Plato's Cave!]

    That, too should tell us a lot, and none of it good on the evo mat agendas, which — as the pseudo-reviews at Amazon on DOL all too bluntly tell us — plainly ARE about political control by a destructive ideological agenda that has corrupted science, education and the culture at large, not free play of informed discussion on serious ideas and issues.

    Cho man, do betta dan dat!

    GEM of TKI

  109. well, I actually have the book and I love it. And yes it discusses the latest Douglas Axe’s research…the book is worth it just for this section alone.
    What else is covered: pseudogenes, therapsids, whales, panda thumbs, evo-devo, co-options, origin of life and a lot more.

  110. “I’m also tired of the ID argument that similarity in living things could be explained just as well by a common designer as by a common ancestry (140); this seems terribly ad hoc to me. God could just as well be entirely original with each new species.”

    So life should look like it was the result of multiple designers instead? Looks like somebody needs to read the Biotic Message by ReMine.

  111. KF –(Are not the Amazon people responsible for the contents of their web site?)

    As I understand it, no as pertaining to reader comments — providing the post are not edited by the website owner.

  112. Trib, Ari and onlookers:

    Thanks for the remarks.

    As I continue to review the “reviews” [and comments] at Amazon, I appreciate that Amazon disclaims LEGAL responsibility for the comments on their site. However, I suspect that does not remove moral culpability for hosting slander, personal attacks and outright BIGOTRY. (Cf below.)

    Of course if the powers that be there are unresponsive to moral suasion, maybe they deserve to suffer the loss of credibility that Wikipedia is currently suffering, and maybe they will respond when it affects their bottom-line. On track record of say the ending of the slave trade and slavery, such moral suasion will be stoutly resisted and yielding to loss of financial viability will only be a slow process.

    In short, yet another battle of financial and public opinion attrition.

    Back at Amazon, we are still at 65 reviews, and it is worth the while to feature one of the positive reviews, not least because it exposes the deceptive and contempt-driven nature of the now commonly encountered “standard” Darwinista rebuttal tactics. I guess they have no shame, but we need to understand how they argue in “live” situations, so we can anticipate and/or respond effectively.

    So, now, Techie of Kansas, Dec 30:

    He is first noteworthy for pointing to UD as a place where the other side of the story can be heard, and second for pointing to the central issue of CSI:

    Good Book – Nice summary of Evo RMNS problems, December 30, 2007
    By Techie (Kansas) – See all my reviews

    See http://www.uncommondescent.com for more details.

    I read the book.

    This review deals with the issues in the book not the heritage of it’s authors, their shoe sizes, their preference in automobiles or other irrelevant twaddle.

    This is an outstanding review of the range of issues facing the Evo RMNS disciples. The best chapter was Chapter 7 – Specified Complexity, which is the biggest issue they face. How do complex and specified things just arise?

    S Allen and IDC of course try to rebut, and — predictably — have a triumphalistic Darwinista cheering section.

    Excerpting:

    [SA] How is the refuted nonsense of specified complexity a “big issue” for anybody? Dembski doesn’t even understand the proper use of the term complexity as it applies to information theory. He mixes concepts from two different theories of information(which is like trying to build a house using standard AND metric measurements). He also conflates complex with information and improbable. Not to mention the entire thing is a tautology. According to his theory evolution can’t produce specified complexity by definition, therefore how else is his theory of “specified complexity” going to respond but by stating that life is “designed”? Dembski’s theory is little better then a quasi math version of Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on first”.

    [IDC:] How do complex and specified things ‘just arise’? The answer is trivially simple through natural processes of regularity and chance. In fact, few realize that Dembski has accepted this. For instance the work by Tom Schneider shows how the processes of variation and selection can trivially create complex specified information. Dembski ‘argues’ that this information is smuggled in, but it is not different from the information ‘smuggled in’ by the environment.

    1 –> In short, the question is distorted then begged by exploiting the ignorance and presumed disinclination of the likely audience to check out the other side of the story. [Cf my always linked, for details.]

    2 –> SA, first, FYI: as my always linked, Appendix 3 will show,WD DID NOT ORIGINATE THE CONCEPT OF COMPLEX, SPECIFIED INFORMATION. Leslie Orgel et al did, in the natural course of OOL research across the 1970′s; as they realised that living things exhibited a pattern that is not just complex in the sense of high contingency, and not just ordered in the sense that say a crystal (or a vortex) are ordered, i.e. — and as I outline for newbies in my always linked — living systems exhibit functionally specified, often fine-tuned [i.e adversely sensitive to random perturbations beyond as very limited scale], organised complexity that requires algorithmic, coded information to work:

    Living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; mixtures of random polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity.6 [Source: L.E. Orgel, 1973. The Origins of Life. New York: John Wiley, p. 189.]

    3 –> In short, CSI, originally developed as a DESCRIPTION of on- the- ground- facts to be explained by thinkers on the origin of life. FYI IT IS A LITTLE HARD TO REFUTE A MASSIVELY DOCUMENTED — not at all “refuted” — FACT.

    4 –> Next, however “complexity” may be used by other thinkers on information in other situations, it is an obviously valid use of the term to describe situations of extremely high contingency such that the configuration space taken up by all possible permutations involves significantly more “cells” than the number of possible quantum states taken up by the 10^80 or so particles in our observed cosmos across its credible lifetime. (This quantifies “complexity” by use of a greater than metric. In effect if there are more than about 500 – 1,000 bits worth of information storing capacity in a system, it is complex in the sense that is relevant.)

    5 –> Further to this, the complexity is used not just in any old random way, but to effect functionally specified, algorithmically coded — i.e. complex — information that carries out life processes that are sensitive in general to random perturbation. In short, there are well defined relatively isolated points, islands and archipelagos of relevant functionality within the config spaces in question. For instance, minimally functional cells, as Meyer reported in the PBSW article, require roughly 300 – 500,000 DNA bases in their genetic code, to cover the proteins etc for life to work. Just 300k 4-state elements sets a config space of order 9.94 *10^180,617 cells. [This is vastly more than the 10^150 or so states that the 10^80 particles of our observed cosmos will take up across its credible lifespan.] “Complexity” is a reasonable description, and the functionally specified cells are plainly going to be seriously isolated int eh relevant config space.

    6 –> Thus, a random-walk search [even with functionality filtering at each stage – aka “natural selection” of one kind or another] that begins at any arbitrary point in that space, will be maximally unlikely to EVER reach a functional configuration relevant to life, on the gamut of our observed universe.

    7 –> At the same time, we see, even routinely, a source of just such FSCI. Namely, intelligent agents. Indeed, in EVERY observed case of such – pace IDC – where we do know directly the causal story, the directly observed source of FSCI is agency. And, given what we just outlined, that is highly unsurprising [Cf here, my discussion of nanobots and microjets in a vat, to see the force of the underlying statistical thermodynamics and information theory issues and principles at work.] Thus, on inductive inference to best explanation, the most credible source for such FSCI where we just happened not to have seen it s cause directly is again agency.

    8 –> When therefore IDC attempts to “reduce” agency to chance + necessity [as has been long since addressed above, fr. Comments 29 – 30 and onward to the summary in 86 – 87, which stand unanswered by him to this date], he is whistling in the dark as he goes by the graveyard. BOO! [And, BTW, Mr Schneider over at Talk Origins, as is all too usual for that utterly untrustworthy and even at points plainly intellectually shabby site, does not know what he is talking about -- on a charitable reading.]

    9 –> In this context, IDC’s last comment at Dec 28, is all too revealing of the whistling past the graveyard in the dark mentality:

    As others have already pointed out, CSI is an incredibly UNRELIABLE indicator of design as it is an argument from ignorance which cannot even compete with the ‘we don’t know’ explanation as it proposes nothing. So why call the null hypothesis ‘design’? [NB: In the explanatory filter of course the null hyp is non-design and the filter is chosen to be so biased towards making false negatives that would affirm the nuill if a design is not sufficiently complex that it would be ridiculous in any other contexts! And, since when is the vast experience and observation of agents directly producing FSCI “nothing”?] Why should ‘design’ be granted such a privileged position? [Actually, as it is structured, the EF gives its NULL: necessity and/or chance, the privileged positions as the two successive defaults: [a] non-contingent, necessity; [b] non-specific, chance.] There seems to be no scientific reason although I can understand that there may be some strong religious motivations that would help explain such a choice . . . [he then cotes the "logos comment made by WD in a Touchstone commentary in his role as a philospher with theorlogical qualifications. IDEAs FAQs have long since answered this quote-mining distortion of ID here.]

    10 –> IDC, since when has chance + necessity alone been shown through direct observation to create FSCI in the sense described above? By whom, where, and with what credibility? [Not to mention, if there is a law of the universe that forces the emergence of cell-based life, what would that imply, given the issues raised in my always linked, section D on cosmological fine-tuning? (Hint: what would best account for the required algorithmic information written into the laws and parameters of the cosmos, given that they are exquisitely finely tuned in the aggregate? H'mm: wouldn't that count as "in the beginning LOGICALLY AND DYNAMICALLY STRUCTURED INFORMATION was . . . and WITHOUT THIS LOGOS WAS NOT ANYTHING MADE, THAT WAS MADE?) Nah . . . justa coincidence! NOT]

    11 –> And of course, IDC then (having failed to resolve the matter on the merits) improperly resorts to igniting the usual anti-theistic hostility of Darwinistas. There is a name for that IDC: BIGOTRY.

    In short, IDC: BOOO!

    GEM of TKI

  113. H’mm:

    Two more reviews over the weekend, which further underscore what is going on at Amazon on Design of Life:

    1] D Moore ["Evolutionary biologist"]:

    Another waste of trees. Chocked full of speculation and misinformation. If we survive the next thousand years, this book and others by the same author will be laughed at. Too bad publishers feel obligated to print this drivel, but maybe that’s the point…..collecting money from the ignorant fools.

    Vs,

    2] Sean McDowell “High School Teacher”:

    As a high school teacher and co-author of the upcoming Understanding Intelligent Design (Harvest House, 2008), I have been eagerly awaiting the release of The Design of Life. While there are many ID books on the market, TDOL is clearly the most up-to-date, well-researched, and eye-opening book–period. It is formatted perfectly for either individual study or university classroom use. While some may disagree with the conclusions of the book, any fair-minded reader would have to admit that TDOL is the most compelling case yet for design in biology. Despite some of the comments listed here at amazon.com (by people who clearly have not read TDOL), it deserves a fair-minded hearing by supporters and opponents alike.

    Wells and Dembski have done a stellar job of highlighting huge gaps in the theory of Darwinian evolution and making a persuasive case for ID. Anyone who is interested in the question of our origins must get a copy and read it for themselves. On the back of the book Michael Behe says, “When future intellectual historians list the books that toppled Darwin’s theory, The Design of Life will be at the top.” I couldn’t agree more.

    Now, no prizes for guessing which of these is credibly an actual review of the book by someone who has read and thought seriously about it, and which is a 1* dismissal without having seriously considered that the “reviewer” may not have exactly cornered the market on the truth.

    In short, the game continues.

    But, Darwinistas, we are watching, and we are not impressed by the calibre of arguments we have been seeing. IDC et al, this means you — the rest of the 1* crowd’s mindless ad hominems and the like don’t even rise to the level of arguments.

    [NB: I use CROWD very deliberately: the 1* dismissals plainly and objectively show a a breakdown of moral responsibility resulting from being one of an unaccountable, impulsive and easily manipulated group that can act out its aggressive impulses without regard to consequences. Think, long and hard, about what that is telling us on what you Darwinistas are liable to do if you gain the unchecked power in our civilisation that you plainly crave. Or should that be: "do AGIAN," given what your intellectual progenitors HAVE repeatedly done over the past 100 or so years, in the name of "science" and "progress" and "Darwin" . . .]

    So, if you would take time to read books such as DOL and actually seriously grapple on the merits with what they are raising, we would be more impressed. And, less inclined to view your behaviour as a warning that calls us to act in self defense before a long train of abuses and usurpations gets beyond possibility of restraint.

    As it is, it looks a whole lot like what Socrates must have felt like on coming back into the Athenian cave to try to open minds and thus liberate the denizens, only to be viciously — and in his case, fatally — attacked.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Onlookers, why not do a straight or spin test on the reviews over at Amazon, across the 5*, 1* and 3* reviews? Who passes, who fails, why? What should we do?

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