Home » Intelligent Design » Upright Biped Explains Emergence

Upright Biped Explains Emergence

In a comment to a prior post Tom quotes a Darwinist article regarding the source of information at the origin of life: “The idea is to give them enough information wherewithal [genetic building blocks] so they can start inventing their own solutions rather than just optimizing existing solutions,”

To which Tom responds:

The key word here is information. The key issue is how does a philosophy (naturalism) explain the existence of information within the confines of its explanatory resources? Since the very definition of naturalism includes the idea that the universe is causally closed (that is all causes ultimately resolve in physical laws – NOT mind) and therefore that the laws of physics ONLY have explanatory power, how then do they account for information?

They cannot. Information requires language. All languages are comprised of symbols and rules for the arrangement of those symbols. It is impossible to have information apart from a language. It is equally impossible for the laws of physics to explain either symbols or the rules that govern the use of those symbols. Therefore, naturalism can never, ever, explain information, and thus life. When darwinism succumbs to the next naturalist explanation of life (evo-devo or whatever) the new explanation will face the same insurmountable challenge. How to explain information in terms of physics and time? The game is over but we seem to still be playing. Why is that? I think it must be rebellion against Reason.

To which Upright Biped replies (tongue in cheek)

Emergence, Tom. Emergence.
Information is an emergent property of matter. Mind is an emergent property of matter. Free will is an emergent property of matter. Irreducible complexity is an emergent property of matter. Specification is an emergent property of matter. Semiosis is an emergent property of matter. Homeostasis is an emergent property of matter. Functionality is an emergent property of matter. Discontinuous coordination is an emergent property of matter. Algorithms are an emergent property of matter.

Now, exactly how this all happens, no one has even a conceptual clue, but that is precisly the beauty of its explanatory power.

Emergence is an emergent property of matter.

It’s just the kind of powerful empiricism that the unsophisticated God-of-the-Gaps crowd is literally too dense to appreciate.

Both Tom and Upright are, of course, correct. The search for a materialist source of information is futile. Undirected natural processes do not have the “right stuff” to generate the complex specified information necessary for life to exist. And the materialists’ increasingly frequent resort to the concept of “emergence” is laughable. Emergence = Materialist miracle. See my “Materialist Poofery” http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/materialist-poofery/ for an extended discussion on the topic.

Bottom line: When materialists resort to “magic” by another name, we need to call them on it.

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91 Responses to Upright Biped Explains Emergence

  1. Emergence is another name for the problem we are trying to explain, it is not the solution.

  2. absolutist @1,

    Emergence is another name for the problem we are trying to solve, not a solution.

    I’ll repeat it here.
    I think that may be the best description for the entire ID/Evo debate that I have ever seen.

  3. Dignity, freedom, all value judgments, are “emergent” properties from material. What does emergent mean? No one knows. Because, presumably, that explanation hasn’t emerged yet. ;)

  4. Information storage and processing capabilities of the cell exist because they were selected for.

    Back in the day, organisms that contained massively complex and specified information processing systems had a survival advantage over those that didn’t, and won out in the end.

    After all, that’s what we see today.

  5. If I count the fingers on my hand I get the value ’5′. Is that ‘information’ ? I presume it is. So, does this value ’5′ have some sort of independant existence ? The 2 questions I have are:

    1. Did this information exist before I did the count ?

    2. Will it exist after I die ?

  6. I think, but cannot be quite sure, that meaning and purpose are also emergent properties of matter.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-348411

  7. Oh, this is fun.

    In the multiverse, only those universes in which natural selection operated managed to survive produced beings capable of comprehending it.

    Hence natural selection was naturally selected for.

  8. SCheesman,

    Nature herself was naturally selected for against all other unnatural natures! She herself won out against competing natures and then began the multiverse! Haha. This is fun.

  9. SCheesman $@7

    It gets better…I mean, the faith of this whole emergent movement is quite revealing.

    Taken to it’s extreme far implications, the multiverse is just an emergent property of something (material, of course), that we have absolutely no evidence for. Anyone who resorts to appealing to the multiverse (which is emergent) and all that is emergent within the multiverse, is demonstrating emergent faith.

  10. 10

    And thus we have come to the real meaning of post-modern langauge, where words are used only as a means to trigger emotive and instinctive responses that get readers and listeners psychologicallly “positioned” for whatever ends one has in mind. What a word means doesn’t matter; the reaction it creates in listeners is what matters.

  11. If the ID side wants to see this ID/Evo debate get in front of a judge or any like authority, we need to define some solid terms.

  12. The key word here is information.

    As it always has been in these discussions, but which version?

    We talk blithely about information as if we are all in agreement about what it means. But is that the case? Need I remind you that Dr Dembski quoted Seth Shostak as listing some forty separate definitions of information and complexity. Which one of those are we talking about?

    There is a widespread assumption that information is a property of physical systems like the molecules of DNA but there is also a minority opinion, to which I tend to subscribe, that information is more a property of the models we construct to try and understand the world. I will quote again the example of tree-rings. A dendrochronologist can study them and extract information about the tree’s history and the climate in which it grew. I look at tree-rings and see tree-rings. So is there information in the tree-rings or is it what emerges when they are added to what the scientist already knows. In other words, is it in the mind of the observer rather than in the tree-rings themselves?

    As for emergent properties, I see it, not as an explanation in itself, but as a placeholder for a detailed explanation that we don’t yet have. We cannot deduce the many strange properties of water from a knowledge of the chemistry of hydrogen and oxygen. That does not necessarily mean an explanation does not exist. We assume that it does but we have not yet been able to string together all the links in the chain of cause and effect linking the elements to the properties of the compound.

  13. Seversky: “There is a widespread assumption that information is a property of physical systems like the molecules of DNA but there is also a minority opinion, to which I tend to subscribe, that information is more a property of the models we construct to try and understand the world….”

    Unfortunately that is itself just another model.

    …”I will quote again the example of tree-rings. A dendrochronologist can study them and extract information about the tree’s history and the climate in which it grew. I look at tree-rings and see tree-rings. So is there information in the tree-rings or is it what emerges when they are added to what the scientist already knows. In other words, is it in the mind of the observer rather than in the tree-rings themselves?”

    If it is only in the mind of the observer, then the scientist knows nothing.

    There are many ways to point out the problem. I like the way C.S. Lewis put it…

    “…Unless human reasoning is valid, no science can be true. It follows that no account of the universe can be true unless that account leaves it possible for our thinking to be a real insight. A theory which explained everything else in the whole universe but which made it impossible to believe our thinking was valid, would be utterly out of court. For that theory itself would have been arrived at by thinking, and if thinking is not valid that theory would, of course, be itself demolished. It would have destroyed its own credentials. It would be an argument which proved no argument was sound -a proof that there are no such things as proofs- which is nonsense.” ( C.S. Lewis / Miracles / Chap 3 The Cardinal difficulty of Naturalism pgs 21,22 )

    It’s like I basically just said to Toronto in the thread that spawned this one… logic is the one thing none of us can question.

    By what means would we presume to do so?

    If there is one universal, (if I may ‘Holy’), and objective format by which to cut through any subjectivity, it is logic.

  14. “If there is one universal, (if I may ‘Holy’), and objective format by which to cut through any subjectivity, it is logic.”

    The problem is that many ID critics that frequent this forum reject logic when it suites them. Just ask StephenB

    Vivid

  15. They can say whatever they wish. It is the fact they demand it of you and your responses that reveals the truth.

    —————–

    None of us at bottom really questions whether the dots (or tree rings) should match the rest of the pattern without contradiction or the least possible contradiction. There is no other way for our reasoning to be valid.

    That is why we do experiments. To see if what we think, actually works in the world external to our own theories and mind. Fortunately, our satellites do make it to their target once we truely understand better how things ‘really’ are.

    The problem we (as a species) seem to have, is that we have an idea (philosphy) that we are truely invested in. When evidence does not agree, it ‘seems’ illogical (unreasonable) to us only because there is a contradiction between genuine external reality and our theory.

    But notice that that is not the same thing as a contradiction in the external reality itself.

    What it does show, is the universal belief that contradiction equals a problem. And by extention, how much we really believe in and rely upon logic and coherence as our only objective light by whcih to see reality.

  16. And lets remember we do it ourselves far more often than we should.

  17. Lock @13,

    It’s like I basically just said to Toronto in the thread that spawned this one… logic is the one thing none of us can question.

    But it’s not logic that gets us into trouble, it’s defining the inputs.

    Here’s an example.

    A: “Chevy Camaros are better than Ford Mustangs.”

    B: “Prove it!”

    A: “Okay. Since GM makes better cars than Ford, it logically follows that Camaros are better than Mustangs.”

    It’s the data we supply to our truth tables that is important.

  18. 18

    Seversky: “As for emergent properties, I see it, not as an explanation in itself, but as a placeholder for a detailed explanation that we don’t yet have.”

    Yes of course you are correct. Another name for this is “emergence of the gaps.”

  19. The problem with “emergent” is not that it serves as a placeholder, but rather it assumes that the phenomena it stands in for are reducible to properties of matter.

    It’s handwaving in regards to the difficult aspects of materialist reductionism.

  20. Toronto: “But it’s not logic that gets us into trouble, it’s defining the inputs.”

    I agree wholeheartedly. That is most often the problem. I think most often they are called presuppositions or assumptions. They are the beliefs we bring to the issue beforehand.

    Your analogy was a very simple one, but it works beautifully: Ford or Chevy?

    So it seems to me that we need to use logic to examine our assumptions. If we agree that logic is the objective arbitor, then it ought to serve us in examining our own beliefs as well.

    If logic is valid, and truely reveals objective reality, then our pressupositions about it must also be logical or naturally they will never fit.

    Science begins with a pressuposition too. A pressumption that reason is valid. And that is a self sustaining proposition so we can trust it.

    However, if I believe there is no objective absolute truth, then I cannot logically believe the very thing I believe. It is plainly and very visibly illogical. But many do not apply logic there because that is their pressuposition.

    Methodological naturalism has the same difficulty. We are told that empirical evidence is of primary importance.

    That is just nonsense! Facts tell us nothing apart from logic.

    Of primary importance is that the evidence be arranged and complied in a logical pattern.

    So, the very definition of science itself (since the revolution) has a deep logical flaw.

    I’ll give you another… we are told by many that language cannot capture reality, or that words have no objective meaning. Those are pressupositions… And yetthey use words and language to catch us up to speed on the reality of that.

    If you really believe in logic, then you have to reject all of those contradictory beliefs and pressupositions.

  21. 21

    Emergence appears to be tautological along the lines of “It is what it is.” In other words, information is an emergent property of matter simply because, well…. that’s what matter does.

  22. 22

    William J Murray,

    “And thus we have come to the real meaning of post-modern langauge, where words are used only as a means to trigger emotive and instinctive responses that get readers and listeners psychologicallly “positioned” for whatever ends one has in mind. What a word means doesn’t matter; the reaction it creates in listeners is what matters.”

    Indeed. Recently I was reading up on Oprah Winfrey’s ‘theology,’ which she gets mainly from a new age guru named Tolle. She stated on her show that belief in Jesus is not important, what’s important is that we have ‘Christ consciousness,’ and then she proceeded to not explain exactly what she means, while the audience members nodded their heads in approval. It’s astonishing that they could be so ignorant as to escape the realization that ‘Christ consciousness’ also requires some element of belief.

    I think you hit the nail on the head with your statement. New age thinking (which is anti-science) seems to be everywhere, even (sadly) among thinking people. The belief that ID does not deal with science for example, is more an emotional appeal than a statement that is carefully squared with science itself.

    We need to continue being like the pesky child who repeatedly asks ‘but why?’ when faced with the Darwinists’ refusal to seek a solution to their infinite regress problem, while giving us tautological solutions that don’t work. Emergence doesn’t solve it, it only makes the problem more obvious.

  23. Hmmm… the assumptions with additions are…

    1) Matter emerges to lower life forms
    2) then Higher life forms

    ———–
    Additions…

    3) Higher Life forms manipulate matter
    4) Higher life forms create lower life forms
    5) Higher life forms create emergent matter?

    Matter -> Information -> Perception -> Language, Communication -> Mind -> Mind maniuplates matter -> etc.

    This would make Allen happy I think from his cyclical perspective of life(if thats what he believes).

    But, we do not know what is outside of our own universe.

    If you remove the Mind, do you have information? I think so. The matter is still there, therefore properties to be discovered by a mind are still resident.

    Language and communication disappears.

    But can “emergence” continue in a loop without a mind? Just through collisions in a universe or “multi-verse”?

    If the magical emergent property exist is it cyclical? Otherwise, its a one time event without a Mind.

    This would tie in that our universe is a cycle of boom and bust.

    But again, what is outside our known universe? Another Mind or more “emergent” matter?

    Is there any logic that can help determine this?

    Can a mind create an emergent object that recreates itself and accumulates information?

    We do this in software today. How far behind is hardware?

  24. Lock @20,

    I’ll give you another… we are told by many that language cannot capture reality, or that words have no objective meaning. Those are pressupositions…

    I think that assuming that words have an objective meaning leads to misunderstanding.

    Walk into any American restaurant and scream “duck”. Almost every single person will react by putting their hands over their heads and crouching down.

    Try that in a restaurant in China. People will look at you blankly.

    So you quickly ask someone around you for the Chinese word for duck.

    You scream it out and watch as people stare at you blankly again. A waiter walks toward you and in perfect English says, “Sir, you’ll just have to wait your turn to order food.”

    Say any sentence at all to an American while rolling your eyes up and you’ve just called him an idiot.

    Either that or you’re indicating sarcasm which means take anything I just said and assume I meant the opposite.

    If you smile at the same time, it means we’re laughing at them, but if it’s a smirk, it means I’m laughing at you.

    That’s a lot of communication for not knowing any of the words in the message.

  25. #20 – Lock:

    Toronto:

    “But it’s not logic that gets us into trouble, it’s defining the inputs.”

    I agree wholeheartedly. That is most often the problem. I think most often they are called presuppositions or assumptions. They are the beliefs we bring to the issue beforehand.

    This is the problem with most naturalists’ thinking. They bring to the table the assumption that everything is reducible. Natural evolution was a solidified “fact” long before the argument from the other side was even available (complex, specified information, etc.).

    I believe the proper thought should be that it is possible for something to not be reducible to chemistry and physics and we should accept the more favorable theory based on logic.

    Example: There is dead tree laying across a stream of water. There is both a natural and intelligent explanation. Naturally, it could have fallen there. Intelligently, it could have been placed there by people. If there is a stump right next to it (or even still partially attached) and there is no sign of human activity in the immediate vicinity, the natural solution would be the more reasonable choice. But if there is no stump next to it, there is a path leading to the tree where it appeared to be dragged and there are footprints all around it, including on the tree, it appears to have been intelligently placed for use as a bridge.

    If biological origins are in fact not reducible to natural law, this viewpoint is open to it. Naturalists eliminate this possibility from their philosophical starting point. Therefore, if there is an irreducible source of mind, they are logically incapable of accounting for it within their current worldview.

    So when statistics like “95% of the NAS are atheists” are claimed, it is no wonder that natural evolution is still accepted as fact “by most reputable scientists”. “95%” are logically incapable of any other possibility as determined by their worldview filter. That is why natural evolution has had an existence as a theory unlike any other in the history of science. Contradiction after contradiction, problem after problem have led not to rejection of the theory but to unique interpretations of the data at each step along the way. The result is a complex theory incapable of explaining complex, specified information. But while they have yet to account for this, rest assured, natural evolution is fact. We just need to figure out why.

  26. Can someone explain the existence of information ?

    Does information exist as an independant thing ? Can it be destroyed ?

  27. Toronto: I think that assuming that words have an objective meaning leads to misunderstanding.”

    Yet you agree that they do? And we work out any misunderstanding by once again, using words and being reasonable?

  28. uoflcard @25

    I agree that starting with the pressuposition that everything is reducible to matter (or ‘physicality’) is biased to the highest degree. It is an ecclesiastical proclamation, not a scientific proposition.

    It would be like saying everything is reducible to spirit or mind (the immaterial) before even investigating. Who does that? Excepting perhaps the occasional atheist scientist after investigating the quantum who was referenced in another thread.

    :)

  29. Lock @26,

    Toronto: I think that assuming that words have an objective meaning leads to misunderstanding.”

    Yet you agree that they do? And we work out any misunderstanding by once again, using words and being reasonable?

    I’ll try once more.

    We shouldn’t assume words have an objective meaning. I agree they have a subjective meaning.

    That means you may use a word differently than I. If I realize that could be the case, I can try using more neutral terms to begin with.

  30. uoflcard,

    Excellent!

  31. New age thinking is not at all anti science. The mainstream scientific world is biased and closed minded in several areas. Many new age scientists and those who follow their thought are often on the cutting edge of scientific thinking. Furthermore, these types are almost always interested in a worldview that integrates scientific knowledge with spirituality.

  32. Tor:

    Let’s observe:

    We shouldn’t assume words have an objective meaning. I agree they have a subjective meaning.

    That means you may use a word differently than I. If I realize that could be the case, I can try using more neutral terms to begin with.

    OOPS!

    In short there are indeed subjective, conventional [what "duck" means as a verb in some dialects of English, vs what he NOUN "duck" means in other dialects of English, or the equivalent nouns mean when used in a shorthand way in a restaurant in a Chinese environment, etc . . . ] AND objective components in language. And, verbal, symbolic, syntactical, meaningful language is — per massive observational — on every directly observed case of origin, a product and characteristic of intelligence.

    Programmed machines may USE linguistic information in their functionality, but they — on our OBSERVATION — do not originate it. (And this would obtain for von Neumann replicators with embedded universal constructors.]

    And so, we see yet another re-labelling of a problem and calling it a solution.

    “Emergence” as commonly used by evolutionary materialists — so long as they are unable to resolve the “lucky noise” problem — is no better than “poof-magic.”

    And, to do so they have to cogently address the points in this recent peer-reviewed Abel paper.

    Have fun trying to overcome the statistical barriers Abel highlights.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  33. Avo:

    Radical post-modern relativism and subjectivism are utterly corrosive of coherent reason, thence of mathematics, knowledge and and science.

    That individuals operating in a fundamentally irrational worldview may wall off part of their work and inconsistently smuggle in ideas that properly belong to other worldviews, and which if they were to think through would undercut their own, simply reflects their irrationality multiplied by the pragmatic criterion of going with what “works.”

    “Emergence” is in fact an apt example.

    GEM of TKI

  34. That means you may use a word differently than I. If I realize that could be the case, I can try using more neutral terms to begin with.

    OOPS!

    I’m going to assume from your OOPS response that you don’t want me to assume that you may use a word differently than I.
    If we do that, the ID/Evo debate will never get into a public debate with any hope of success.

    I’ll argue about how “tall” evolution is, and you’ll respond by providing proof that there’s no way it could “weigh” that much.

  35. Toronto @29 I’ll try once more.

    We shouldn’t assume words have an objective meaning. I agree they have a subjective meaning.

    Do you expect me to know what you mean? Am I to understand what all those words mean in the context of our discussion?

    Yes.

    As per your example, when you walk into a resturant and scream ‘Duck!’, the context is in question.

    But I wonder… do you expect me to be able to pull the correct concepts together based on the symbols you gave me to represent them?

    In the context of this discussion yes.

    But a person screaming duck is only playing word games, or having a bad day, or telling someone (perhaps everyoe) to get their heads down, or whatever. The context is uncertain.

    I understand what you want words to mean. I understand your pressuposition. But that is the subjective part you bring to the philosophical table.

    Objectively, you are wrong.

  36. Graham @26,

    Can someone explain the existence of information ?

    Does information exist as an independant thing ? Can it be destroyed ?

    I don’t believe information exists without an observer.

    For instance, I could look at a rose and note that it is red, but the color is not in the rose. It is reflecting the wavelength of light we detect and then we label as “the colour red”.

    On this site, I have seen the terms, “information”, “message” and “language” to mean the exact same thing.

    I don’t think they do.

  37. Have fun trying to overcome the statistical barriers Abel highlights.

    Does this also hold true about the assertion of the existence of a ‘designer’ prior to the appearance of all intelligent life that we know of?

  38. Lock @35,

    Objectively, you are wrong.

    No, subjectively, I am wrong, based on your subjective viewpoint.
    Subjectively, I am right, based on my subjective viewpoint.

    I could only be objectively wrong, if we both agreed that I was.

    The only other way I could be objectively wrong despite our contrary viewpoints, is if an outside entity, such as God, decided it was so.

    Is that what you mean by objective?

    I would really like to know from everyone, what’s wrong with trying to be more concise?

    Why am I getting resistance for trying to get people to think about using terms that don’t lead to misunderstanding?

    Let’s try and get this debate out into the public forums.

    We can’t do that if the public at large sees that we can’t even agree on terminology.

    They’ll tune us out faster than Jay Leno’s variety show.

  39. 39

    hrun0815 is your “I know you are but what am I” playground argument an attempt at humor?

  40. Barry Arrington @39,

    Does this also hold true about the assertion of the existence of a ‘designer’ prior to the appearance of all intelligent life that we know of?

    I take this as a serious reply to kairosfocus and I think the general public is going to ask this very question if this debate gets into a courtroom or in front of an educational board.

    Scientifically speaking, why is the improbability of life arising naturally more improbable than the existence of an omnipotent being that transcends nature.

    The reply your side gives has to sound reasonable to an audience of atheists, multiple religions and TE’s.

  41. Tor

    Did you not see what I emphasised, i.e the stuff on “more neutral” language?

    Take that strawman out of the thread please!

    GEM of TKI

  42. kairosfocus @41,

    What strawman are you taking about?

    I have no idea what post you are replying to.

  43. kairosfocus @41,

    Did you not see what I emphasised, i.e the stuff on “more neutral” language?

    Take that strawman out of the thread please!

    It may not be obvious to anyone what my goal is on this site so please let me explain.

    I would like to see this debate get in front of public panels, e.g., courts, boards of education, public inquiries etc.

    If this issue stays just under the surface, there will always be “Dovers”, where one group institutes new science standards and the next group removes.

    This is unfair to students and society.

    If you take a view of this debate where you can make demands like, “Take that strawman out of the thread please!”, we will never get a chance of debating this in a large public forum.

    You cannot censor or demand certain behaviour from your opponents, you have to appear as if you are treating them with respect.

    If Behe during Dover had simply answered in any way the issue of the books on the table in front of him instead of waving them away, your side might have allowed the judge to score some points for your side.
    It wasn’t the content of his response that hurt him, it was his dismissal of the question.

    You are trying to do that with your strawman arguments and the public won’t buy it.

    Keep it up and neither of us get our day in court.

  44. PS: And Tor, please correct yet another strawman.

    For, (1) information, (2) message and (3) language do not usually mean the same thing, and we do not use them as synonyms, but as conceptually linked terms.

    Functionally specified complex information [FSCI -- the subset of CSI on the table since Orgel et al were looking at cellular components in the early 70s] may be encoded under the symbols and rules of a symbolic language [ASCII code and related, or genetic code spring to mind] — or may be translatable into such [see my remarks on measuring information implicit in "wiring diagrams" of nodes and arcs, and related wireframes . . . ] — and can then be sent or stored as a message; but, to start with, we are here denoting a very special sub-class of information, such as is in a computer program, or in the net of an exploded view of an integrated functional system, or the process flow and piping and units and instrumentation diagram for a chemical plant or the metabolic reactions in a cell the like. (This is not at all the same as Shannon info, which is really a metric of info capacity!)

    And once we go beyond that to the encoding of info as a message in a particular coding and representing system or language, that is still more distinct.

  45. kairosfocus @44

    PS: And Tor, please correct yet another strawman.

    For, (1) information, (2) message and (3) language do not usually mean the same thing, and we do not use them as synonyms, but as conceptually linked terms.

    I’m with you.

    1. Information: A description of an observation.

    2. Message: The data content of communications between one or more end nodes. (Data content could be null)

    3. Language: A protocol for communication.

  46. PPS: I could only be objectively wrong, if we both agreed that I was.

    In steps:

    0 –> Prelim: And, Tor, on whose terms would you ever be willing to acknowledge correction? (Do you not see that your statement is an excuse for closed-mindedness in the teeth of correction?)

    2 –> Let’s start here, following Josiah Royce: error exists. (Try to deny it and you will only exemplify its truth, i.e. it is undeniably and self-evidently true and immediately grounds the point that knowable, warranted truth exists. Not least as that which says of what is, that it is and of what is not that it is not, and as that which we make errors about. Try denying that and see if it does not land you in self-referential incoherence.)

    3 –> In that context, objective truth exists as that truth which a reasonable individual — one willing to live by basic principles of reasoning in the world we share, and in particular willing to yield to correction — may discover and even warrant, as opposed to invent.

    4 –> Further to this, the unreasonable or closed minded person may reject or deny the objective truth, but that says more about his or her state of mind than about he existence of the truth or the objective truth.

    5 –> And so “inter-subjective agreement” fails as a test of objective truth. Two people or even a whole civilisation, may make the same error; indeed in former days, our civilisation did so about things like slavery and racism.

    6 –> And one person “contra mundum” may well be right. the issue is, which is saying of what is, that ti is and of what is not that it is not, and how we may reasonably test for that.

    7 –> In that context, I hope you see that mere perception or opinion are not to be equated to truth, and agreement or disagreement has nothing to do with whether or no a particular truth is objectively established.

  47. kairosfocus @46,

    0 –> Prelim: And, Tor, on whose terms would you ever be willing to acknowledge correction?

    I will accept correction from anyone if they can give me a convincing argument.

    I remember my daughter when she was 5 saying, “But Dad, ……..”, and she was right in her argument and I told her so.

    I am an atheist but you could convince me to believe in a god if you had a good enough argument.

    My atheism and any other position I hold is on the line every day and to everyone.

    As far as an objective truth that exists outside of us, I have never seen a good enough argument to warrant that.

    If an objective truth existed, one group of people would be able to cling to it more so than any other group since a real objective truth would be easier to defend than one that is false.

    Yet no group has ever wavered in the least in asserting that their truth was the right one.

    Why is that?

  48. Toronto @ 24

    Would the simple solution to this problem be to say that the first thing to be done when arguing is define one’s terms?

  49. Seversky @ 12
    “There is a widespread assumption that information is a property of physical systems like the molecules of DNA but there is also a minority opinion, to which I tend to subscribe, that information is more a property of the models we construct to try and understand the world”

    How would information be a property of physical systems? Let’s say that I have a box of cheerios as my “physical system.” Let’s further say that I accidentally knock it over on the kitchen counter. Do the cheerios lying on the counter contain information? Let’s say instead that I arrange the cheerios into a string of letters that say, “sorry Mom, I spilled the cheerios, I’ll clean them up when I get home, love, your messy son.” Do you see the difference? It’s not the physical substrate that contains the information as an intrinsic property. It’s the arrangement of the cheerios into specific symbols according to the rules of English that encode a message. The cheerios, the physical substrate, have nothing to do with the information per se.

    I’m not sure what you are saying about the minority opinion. If you are saying that intelligence accounts for information then we agree. Somehow I don’t think that’s it, though.

  50. tgpeeler @48,

    Agreed, 100%.

    Let’s do that.

  51. Toronto, I am going to throw a few things together here in response, but before I do, I just want you to notice how tolerant and liberal the moderators are here. I have been in forums where such sidebars as ours were immediately expelled.

    Toronto:“No, subjectively, I am wrong, based on your subjective viewpoint.
    Subjectively, I am right, based on my subjective viewpoint.”

    That is contradictory statement and therefore false. You said you believe in logic right?

    You are positing any objective reality within a context while denying one within the same.

    Yours is just a rebellion. That’s all. And I have some sources of our cultural rebellion to offer below. Such rebellious pressupositions are fro some reason, still quite in vogue.

    Toronto: The only other way I could be objectively wrong despite our contrary viewpoints, is if an outside entity, such as God, decided it was so.

    :) Have you forgotten the lines given you by the producer and replaced them with your own?

    These men have…

    “Refusing to assign a secret, ultimate meaning to text liberates what may be called an anti-theological activity. An activity that is truly revolutionary since to refuse meaning is, in the end, to refuse God and his hypostases—reason, science, law.” (Roland Barthes / Death of the Author)

    If only I knew what the author of that gibberish meant!

    “I’m afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.” (Nietzche)

    Dear Freidrich, can you please express the concept without using grammar.

    Sincerely, Lock

    Toronato, I would now like to juxtapose those undeniably and supremely subjective and contradictory ideas with logic that is utterly axiomatic and coherent. Especially considering that you appear to already understand (at least in theory) that only God Himself could give us the true light of objectivity. We cannot declare it on our own. On that I would agree with you. And it is why I reject what you say. And it is why you reject what I say. I suppose our only hope would be to find one who was God. No self proclaimed prophet (theistic or otherwise) need apply unless he wants to claim that he is sent by God, is God, and preferably both. At least then, it would be logical.

    John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it… 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

  52. Lock @51,

    Toronto:“No, subjectively, I am wrong, based on your subjective viewpoint.
    Subjectively, I am right, based on my subjective viewpoint.”

    The above can be reduced to;
    1) I believe I am right.
    2) You believe I am wrong.

    What is wrong with those statements?

    I included the qualifier subjective for each of us because I believe it really is your opinion that I am wrong, and I am 100% sure that it is my opinion that I am right.

    That is contradictory statement and therefore false. You said you believe in logic right?

    How is my believing I am right conflict with your belief that I am wrong?

    Whatever my beliefs are, they in no way prevent you from believing in yours.

    You are positing any objective reality within a context while denying one within the same.

    How does my explicit use of the term subjective” 4 times in 2 sentences qualify as an objective statement of any type?

  53. Correction: in #45 it should read,

    “That is a contradictory statement and therefore false. You said you believe in logic right?

    You are positing an objective reality within a context while denying one within the same”.

  54. hrun0815 is your “I know you are but what am I” playground argument an attempt at humor?

    Actually, no. ID always seems to make an argument of the style ‘it couldn’t have been anything other than design by an intelligent agent’. Yet, nobody tries to ‘overcome the statistical barriers Abel highlights’.

    Remember, Abel, who is cited by kairosfocus says: “No low-probability hypothetical plausibility assertion should survive peer-review
    without subjection to the UPP inequality standard of formal falsification (? < 1)."

  55. hrun,

    What is the probability that the universe came into being from an infinitely small, infinitely hot, infinitly dense point in the remote past?

    I’d say its pretty good judging by the evidence. But, that is because the conclusion follows from the actual evidence itself (not from a mandated non-falsifiable presupposition about what the evidence may and may not be allowed to infer).

    The inferences to design flow from the actual evidence as well.

    The entire biologial world is beset with the transfer and processing of context-specific semiotic information. Now, is the coordination of semiotic relationships observed more as the product of chance events, natural law, or agency? How many naturally occuring algothms are you aware of? How many? How about logic gates acting upon dicreet input?

    I strongly suggest that you email to Dr Abel and ask him his opinion of the matter. He will ardently refuse to become entagled in this debate, but he will likely answer that question.

    It’s about the observable evidence.

  56. Toronto @52 The above can be reduced to;
    1) I believe I am right.
    2) You believe I am wrong.

    What is wrong with those statements?

    No it cannot. Based upon your own rules, if what you say is true, then it cannot be reduced, because that would yet again be just another subjective opinion on your part.

    What you have said is meaningless, and logically absurd.

    What you have offered is an infinite regress of subjectivity; a neverending cascade of self defeating propositions by which to feign framing what is actually the case objectively. But you have already dissavowed the abiltiy to reduce anything to bare bones and objective fact.

    Please do not impose your subjective view, that all is subjective, upon me. It is your failed pressuposition, not mine.

    Should I be suprised that a man of such thought would fall so easily to the oldest trick on earth? The first thing Satan said to humanity was, “Has God really said?”

    Perhaps the woman should have asked him in reply, “have you”?

  57. Lock @56,

    What you have said is meaningless, and logically absurd.

    I’ll take that as a request that you don’t wish to have any further exchanges with me.

    I will honour that.

    Thanks for the reply.

  58. Forgive me, I meant no offense Toronto and have rarely encountered one as honest as you. So I in no way intended it as a request to have no further exchanges.

    I have also said things that are logically absurd and meaningless. Just ask my wife :) No one will call me to the mat in more uncertain terms than her! So it was not an insult, nor was it intended to be. It is just something we all do on occasion. We are not so smart as we think.

    You asked me to tell you what was wrong with your analysis and I took it that you implied I do so ‘plainly’. That is what I did.

    I thought you requested it rhetorically, as though it were inaguable and settled. I could have been insulted. But I was not. Rather, I was trying to build on that momentum, because I know that nothing educates like a shock.

    I have been shocked many times. I have even wanted to crawl in a hole and die. I have been totally and utterly wrong…

    After re-reading my last reply, I can understand why you assumed a tone which was not there. But I assure you, that it was written devoid of emotional intent. I was being logical.

    But perhaps that was the problem… I was speaking with mere logic and not sensitive to your dignity. You are not simply a machine, you are a person. I am sorry. Just be mindful of your own pride. I need constant reminding of my own…

    You said that assuming objective meaning can lead to misunderstandings, and you are correct. This last exchange is a prime example. But so can assuming subjective meaning.

    Some things are objective and absolute, and some things are relative and subjective. If we try and make everthing absolute, or everything subjective we run into logical absurdities.

    Think about it all and decide for yourself.

    Btw, the idea you posited concerning subjectivity was not yours. I once held it myself. So I was not so much rebuking you as I was the idea and spirit itself.

    It has a long history and is one of the most seductive of all temptations. That is why I am not suprised it befalls so many of us. I hope that puts things in context Toronto.

    I think we have covered this ground pretty well, and it really doesn’t even belong in Bipeds thread. But I will give you the last word if you have any, and perhaps we can discuss it again sometime in the future.

    Best regards,

    Lock

  59. Toronto,

    If I may, I’d like to offer my apologies as well.

    Best Regards…

  60. Lock @58,

    I understand now that you tend to put a lot of yourself into a discussion. :)

    I’m sure this will come up often and we’ll get a chance to have another go at understanding each other.

    Toronto

  61. Upright BiPed @59,

    Is the Internet even designed to handle this much civility at one time? :)

    Thank you,

    Toronto

  62. What is the probability that the universe came into being from an infinitely small, infinitely hot, infinitly dense point in the remote past?

    [...]

    It’s about the observable evidence.

    Ah, I see. So while it might be true that “No low-probability hypothetical plausibility assertion should survive peer-review
    without subjection to the UPP inequality standard of formal falsification (? < 1).", in some cases it can be safely disregarded.

    Seems to me that you simply are saying: In this case Abel is simply wrong.

  63. hrun-

    No, that is not what I am saying.

    What I am saying is that (based upon the observable evidence) we can accept the answer about there being a beginning to the Universe without attacking the question of whether or not that beginning has a supernatural origin (for which there is no observable evidence).

    In the same way, we can accept the answer that there is an inference to agency involvement in the origin of life on this planet (based upon the observable evidence) without attacking the question as to whether that agent is supernatural or not (for which there is no observable evidence).

    From a purely scientific perspective, the key is to have the personal and institutional discipline to seperate that which can be inferred through actual observation, from that which has implications that go beyond what pure science can discern.

    The opposite perspective is to say that mankind can have unquestionable knowledge of the entire 14 billion year history of the Universe by looking through the intruments of his creation today.

  64. Toronto, here are the definitions that I am using for the following terms: (unless otherwise noted, all definitions are from the online M-W dictionary)

    reason: the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways

    information: the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects; a signal or character (as in a communication system or computer) representing data; something (as a message, experimental data, or a picture) which justifies change in a construct (as a plan or theory) that represents physical or mental experience or another construct; a quantitative measure of the content of information; specifically : a numerical quantity that measures the uncertainty in the outcome of an experiment to be performed

    language: a formal system of signs and symbols (as FORTRAN or a calculus in logic) including rules for the formation and transformation of admissible expressions

    logic: a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration; the science of the formal principles of reasoning

    book: (this one is mine since none of the dictionary definitions are general enough for my purposes – if this is objectionable to you then I can call it something else) anything that contains information encoded in a language (in other words, I have a broader definition that includes e-books and genomes, for example)

    first principles: (from Wikipedia – not a source I usually cite but they get it right here) a basic, foundational proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption. (You will find in philosophy that there are typically four or five depending on how you count. I count five: Being, Identity, Non-contradiction, Excluded middle, and Causality. All rational thinking flows from these principles or laws.

    law: a statement of an order or relation of phenomena that so far as is known is invariable under the given conditions; a general relation proved or assumed to hold between mathematical or logical expressions

    truth: the state of being the case (Aristotle said, and I must paraphrase: to say of what is that it is not, and to say of what is not that it is, is false while to say of what is that it is, and to say of what is not that it is not, is true)

    First principles (I say) cannot be denied without creating a self-contradiction. In other words, they are necessarily true. One cannot deny a first principle and claim to have any degree of intellectual integrity. I also refer to these as the fundamental intellectual commitments one makes that form the basis (are the premises) of all conclusions that one comes to. I have often asked those espousing the naturalist/materialist view of life (currently neo-darwinian evolution) to tell me what their fundamental intellectual commitments are. Oddly enough, they never do. I hope that you will be willing to do this.

    I think that should give us a start. Now, what was the question?

  65. 65

    Toronto,

    I know that this comes rather late, and it might be off topic just a bit, but I found the discussion about the subjectivity of words that you have been engaged in with several others, quite interesting. I don’t think you are correct that words per se are subjective – rather, it is the expression that makes use of words, that can be subjective. I believe there is a scale whereby expressions using words become less and less subjective, and more objective, when they are combined with other words.

    You used the example ‘duck,’ which as an expression, you were right to point out, can be understood as subjective, in that it can have a number of meanings by itself, and not in combination with other words. It’s not the word that is subjective, but the expression with which the word was utilized, and by which it was understood.

    However, if you add words to it, it becomes more clear what you mean.

    “duck!”

    “duck”

    The scale begins with the one word expression, which is the most subjective, then we add words, making it less subjective and more objective:

    “I believe I’ll have duck.”

    “Everybody duck!”

    and further on up the scale:

    “I like foul, and so I’ve decided to order your roast duck.”

    “There’s a a guy in here with a gun, everybody duck.”

    And so on and so forth.

    The more descriptive we are in the expression, the less subjective the meaning tends to be. Yet, what we express with the words, no matter how complex and detailed, itself can be subjective:

    For example:

    “Dogs are ugly” is a subjective expression, while

    “The man said ‘dogs are ugly’” is an objective expression.

    Or more precise: “That man over there with the blue shirt and the briefcase said “dogs are ugly.”

    So subjectivity is not so much in the particular words we use to state an expression, rather, the lack of precision in the arrangement of the words used in the expression, and in the use of subjective values placed on the object of the expression.

    The first statement about dogs is subjective, because it places a subjective value on the object – the dog. The second statement about dogs is objective, because it doesn’t place any subjective value at all on the dog, because first of all, the dog is not the subject. The man is the subject, and it is an objective observation about what the man said. We give more objectivity to the expression the more we describe precisely what we mean, as in the 2nd statement about the man.

    Another point is concerning your analogy to culture and varied languages – Chinese vs. English. The analogy only works with the one word. It doesn’t work with a combination of words, precisely utilized to express something specific. If I were to translate “I like duck” into Chinese, it would probably be more clear what I mean than simply stating the Chinese word for duck. Furthermore, if I translated “I like foul, and so I’ve decided to order your roast duck” into Chinese, the message would be even more clear.

    So it’s clear that it’s not the words themselves that are subjective, but the use of them in some circumstances. The more complex the information, the tendency towards less subjectivity as long as it follows some rules about objectivity – namely refrain from placing a subjective value on the object, and so forth.

    Also, context in the use of words is also extremely important.

    For example, in air traffic control (a particular context), the statement from the control tower to the plane pilot “you’re clear for landing” means something particular, even if the expression is not precise. It doesn’t mean that you appear clear, or that you can land by dropping 20,000 feet in an instant and land in a field 20 miles from the runway. The pilot of the plane understands the context in which the statement is made, and so he/she understands that the tower is communicating that there are no planes on the runway, which would be in the way if the pilot lands the airplane. The pilot also understands that there is a time limit with this statement. It doesn’t mean that he is clear to land several hours from now, but that within a certain time constraint, and with certain conditions, it is safe to land the plane.

    Another example – a guy goes into a bar and says to the bartender, “I think I’ll have a screwdriver.” The bartender does not then ask him “a phillips or a flathead?” because within the usual context of the bar, a screwdriver is an alcoholic drink consisting of vodka and orange juice. Now one may argue that the amount of vodka and orange juice may vary, therefore, it may be unclear what the man really wants, but perhaps the man has ordered a screwdriver from this particular bartender many times before, and the bartender always gets it right. This is also an example of the importance of context. In fact, your duck example is also an issue of context and not the word itself. The man who meant for everyone to duck, because something is coming at them, really meant “duck” in that context. That it was not understood as “duck” in that particular context is simply an indication that the context was not understood, not that the word was subjective.

    So words can be used in a subjective way or in an objective way, and can be understood in context or out of context, but words themselves are not necessarily subjective.

    I hope that this helps you in further discussions where you are affirming the definitions of terms, in your attempts to understand others’ perspectives.

  66. 66

    Toronto,

    I also suggest an excellent reading on the issue of subjectivity in C.S. Lewis’ “The Abolition Of Man” – particularly in the first chapter.

  67. Thanks for the tip CY, I have a copy of ‘The Aboliton of Man’ on my shelf. I will revisit it…

  68. CannuckianYankee @65,

    Well said, I couldn’t agree more.

    Your post shows how completely a message can change with a subtle change of context.

    It would be a good idea, (and exercise), to agree on a set of definitions of terms that we can use in our debates that may not necessarily be the definitions we use within our groups.

  69. tgpeeler @64,

    That’s a good sized list you have there and I’m going to take a day or two to think about it and then offer mine.

    I was going to say I liked “book”, but how do we resolve e-book and genome becaause they are not static?

    I’m stuck with the idea that a book should be a static reference and in no way changeable.

  70. Toronto, since we have reached some understanding, I would like to respond…

    Toronto @68 to CY “Well said, I couldn’t agree more.

    Your post shows how completely a message can change with a subtle change of context.

    It would be a good idea, (and exercise), to agree on a set of definitions of terms that we can use in our debates that may not necessarily be the definitions we use within our groups.”

    It is within our groups (which really means ‘philosphical groups’) that the context often shifts. In that sense I maintain that it is rarely the definitions of the words that change, but rather the context in which we are using them.

    For example (borrowing from C.S. Lewis in spirit here), if I use the term ‘God’; philosphically, I am really only thinking of the same concept (the whole show) that a naturalist would think of when he uses the term ‘reality’.

    A naturalist generally thinks of reality in terms of impersonal matter and law. I think of reality in terms of personal living deity. Not in the pantheistic sense of course…

    To a naturalist reality ‘is what it is’, and to me, ‘I am what I am’.

    Toronto, I believe that CY is on to something. What I notice is not an inability for us to relate to where you are coming from, because we have once come from that point of view ourselves (I have at least, I only presune this to be the case for CY). CY?

    Most (but not all) of the difficulty is that you do not seem to be able to see these things through the lens we are. And in that sense it is like another language. But if you notice the simmilarities in logic, you will see that this is not the case.

    On logic and contradiction we agree. As you said, it is the ‘imputs’ or pressupositions that must be grasped.

    That is why I tried so hard to show that it does no good to question all of this as subjective. Only some of it is subjective.

    No matter which point of view we come from, the one thing that cannot be questioned is logic. that cannot be subjective. And nor can the words we use to talk about it.

    I do not think it is an accident that physicists of all stripes end up positing that reality is infinite. To the theist, God (reality) is infinite in all regards; hence His omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Likewise, for the materialist, the universe (or reality) must be some manner of infinite mulitverse.

    You have a very open and independant mind. I think you would benefit tremendously, without having to commit yourself to the view, by reading C.S. Lewis.

    As CY mentioned, for the issue of subjectivity, ‘The Aboliton of Man’ is excellent (though I personally find some of his anologies difficult but not impossible to follow).

    ‘Miracles’ is another pivotal work on the diffence in perspective I am mentioning here. And there too, the first chapters are key.

    And on the issue of judging design we had in another thread, ‘The Problem of Pain’ very much covers some of the same questions. Just why wuld God desing this world the way it is?

    Please consider it. It would go a long way toward, not so much defining the terms, but showing the common thread in them. And again, it is that thread which cannot be subjective.

  71. Please consider it. It would go a long way toward, not so much defining the terms, but showing the common thread in them. And again, it is that thread which cannot be subjective.

    I like the term “common thread” and I can live with it.

    While terms like “absolute truths” seem to imply all the thinking has been done and the results are in, “common thread” gives me something to work with.

    I’ll investigate some C.S.Lewis.

  72. tgpeeler @64,

    I’m okay with reason, language, logic and law.

    I’m having real problems though with information, first principles and truth.

    Information I believe, tries to do to much. With that definition, it’s not only data, but a message and a functional process. I think that’s way too all-encompassing to be useful. I think that it would lead to confusion if used for debating purposes.

  73. 73

    Toronto,

    “It would be a good idea, (and exercise), to agree on a set of definitions of terms that we can use in our debates that may not necessarily be the definitions we use within our groups.”

    Yes, that would be an excellent way to start any discussion on these issues.

    The OP was concerned with the Darwinian concept of ‘emergence,’ specifically as it applies to the emergence of information. The Darwinian understands emergence as the outcome of Darwinian processes. The non-Darwinian does not necessarily accept Darwinian processes to be valid on certain grounds, and so in the non-Darwinian context, emergence is meaningless. It doesn’t explain anything, it simply affirms the Darwinian process that he/she rejects on certain grounds. So if the Darwinian wants the non-Darwinian to accept emergence as an explanation, specifically as it applies to the emergence of information, he/she must demonstrate emergence as a property of evolution, and not simply assert it as though the Darwinian process is an undisputed fact. It’s not that the non-Darwinian does not understand what ‘emergence’ means in the Darwinian context – he/she knows exactly what it means, and it is rejected as being incomplete, or in fact superfluous to demonstrating the efficacy of Darwinian processes. The non-Darwinian knows that even within the Darwinian context, ‘emergence’ has to be demonstrated, not simply asserted as an explanation.

    Now this is where the disagreement seems to be between the non-Darwinian and the Darwinian with respect to the one concept of emergence.

    To further understand this dichotomy, and as you have suggested, let’s put the situation into language that we all understand. What is it about emergence, that is only meaningful within the context and affirmation of Darwinian evolution as fact?

    Well, first of all, emergence is used as a means to demonstrate the fact of Darwinian evolution, while at the same time, Darwinian evolution is used to demonstrate the fact of emergence. So you can see that within this particular Darwinian context, emergence might mean something, but outside of that context, it does not demonstrate anything, it merely shifts the burden of proof for Darwinian evolution on the new concept. It’s like saying “Well we know Darwinian evolution is true, because it is demonstrated by emergence, and we know that emergence is true because it is demonstrated by Darwinian evolution. So the non-Darwinian, who does not accept the Darwinian context on certain grounds, is able to see that the whole argument is circular. There needs to be something outside of the Darwinian context that affirms both concepts. Furthermore, the non-Darwinian is able to discern from looking at the Darwinian perspective from the outside, that there really is no difference between emergence and Darwinian evolution. Emergence simply states that certain features emerge out of unplanned, naturalistic Darwinian processes.

    In the specific case we are discussing here, we are concerned with the ‘emergence’ of CSI (complex specified information) or for that matter, any information at all. The Darwinian asserts that information emerges out of unplanned naturalistic Darwinian process. The non-Darwinian argues that information is required for even naturalistic Darwinian processes to work in the first place. So from the non-Darwinian’s understanding, information cannot be an emergent property of evolution; it must be present before evolutionary processes can work.

    Now the non-Darwinian can use this observation to either reject all Darwinian processes as an explanation, or to limit Darwinian processes as an explanation. Either position is valid, given the premise that evolution does not work without the prior information. Given that, either Darwinian evolution is limited, or Darwinian evolution is not what is happening at all. If we start there, we can then look into the data that Darwinian evolution is concerned with, and either accept or reject the processes based on the primary concern with the ‘emergence’ of information.

    Now it’s important to understand that ID supporters do not all reject Darwinian processes as an explanation for the ongoing development of complex biological organisms. The dispute is with Darwinian evolution being an all encompassing theoretical explanation for the emergence of life on the planet. ID supporters understand that Darwinian evolution is not necessarily concerned with the origin of life, but they argue that this very non-concern is the primary problem with the theory. Emergence of information is an example of a Darwinian contradiction. If Darwinian evolution is not concerned with the origin of life, then the emergence of information required for the building blocks of life from Darwinian processes, contradicts this claim.

    Furthermore, ‘emergence’ can have meaning within a non-Darwinian context as well. Many non-Darwinians are theists, and in that context, the emergence of biological information is predicated on an action of the primary first cause – the creator. This further complicates the matter. Is emergence of information the predetermined action of a first and primary cause, or is it the very property of matter? You can see, that we cannot do without a philosophical and logical perspective here. It is my view, based on what I have read over several years, that the ID position is more parsimonious to the data than Darwinian evolution. But I don’t start with ID. Science is not going to give us the answer here. As tgpeeler pointed out, we are going to have to start with first principles, and from that point, we can then get into all of the particulars.

  74. 74

    Lock,

    “Toronto, I believe that CY is on to something. What I notice is not an inability for us to relate to where you are coming from, because we have once come from that point of view ourselves (I have at least, I only presune this to be the case for CY). CY?”

    To some extent, yes, although I would have to point out that my intellectual pursuits started with my first becoming a Christian. Before that event I had very little concern with these issues. I lived as though life had no meaning, or that we create our own meaning.

  75. CannuckianYankee @73,

    One of the terms we really need to work on is Darwinism itself.

    I don’t understand why it is the label applied to all evolution theory since Darwin.

    I point this out in order to get the ID side to focus on the modern evolutionary knowledge acquired since Darwin, that he was never exposed to.

    If we were discussing the automotive industry with Asia, it would be counter-productive to point with pride to the last Packard made as the peak of North American automotive expertise.

    Darwin is a historical figure who played a part in contributing knowledge to the much larger pool that we have today, but he is not our guiding light.

  76. 76

    A further complication, Toronto is the ongoing Darwinian accusation towards ID that ID theorists are not doing any actual science. This accusation is premature, in that much of what is going on with ID is an attempt to establish a philosophical basis for origins that starts with first principles. The question of the emergence of information is tied up with this concern. Furthermore, the Darwinian paradigm appears to be predicated upon a rejection of first principles, and assumes that scientific endeavor alone can give us the answers despite any perceived contradictions with first principles. In other words, it doesn’t matter what you believe philosophically, it is pure scientific data, which drives all philosophical considerations. Yet the non-Darwinian perceives that the Darwinian is not even consistent with this precept. The Darwinian begins with naturalistic philosophy, which drives his/her conclusions.

    They have this all backwards. Scientific endeavor starts with a particular philosophical precept – that nature follows certain laws, and the laws are rational. If you were to do a study of the philosophical developments behind how humans came to this conclusion, you would see that it did not begin with science, but largely with the philosophy of the Greeks and their concern with logic and mathematics. The Greeks were not naturalists. They were polytheists for the most part.

    The naturalistic philosopher is quick to point out that naturalistic explanations work, and that we owe an allegiance to naturalism for the advancement of science and technology. Such proclamations are ignorant of the very philosophical principles, which first began the foundation for doing science. We could not do science without a foundational rational philosophy. It is logic that dictates where we go scientifically, and not the other way around. If it were scientific endeavor that dictates where we go logically and philosophically, then we have no basis for scientific endeavor in the first place.

    So when Stephen Meyer and William Dembski (for example), concern themselves with biological information, and where it comes from, they are doing science, but They also understand that their science is predicated upon first principles; you don’t get information without causality, and they are able to confirm this scientifically, through an appeal to the best explanation – weighing the alternatives.

    That explanation requires a consideration of alternative explanations – among them, the Darwinian one. So when the Darwinians make this accusation that ID theorists are not doing science, rather all they are doing is criticizing Darwinian processes as an explanation, they fail to consider that scientifically ID theorists must evaluate alternatives.

    Do you sense the inconsistency here? After all, there are many ‘scientific’ criticisms of ID, so somewhere down the line the Darwinian theorists are weighing the alternatives; yet there seems to be a notion that only Darwinists can weigh the alternatives, because anything outside of the Darwinian paradigm is not science. And so on and on we go with the question- begging based on a faulty premise.

    And it should also be pointed out that Darwin began his observations after rejecting the design inference of Paley, so clearly, he was involved with weighing the alternatives. Only he was plagued by a poverty of information, which in modern times has largely been resolved with more data concerning the complexity of the cell and the discovery of DNA.

    So Darwin began his pursuits without a concern with first principles. He did not consider causality at all. His ‘science’ was based on observation combined with a faulty philosophical assumption of naturalism, and with that, he came to some faulty conclusions, which no Darwinian theorist can deny on priniciple, because the Darwinian paradigm has evolved since Darwin’s time, and has rejected many of Darwin’s conclusions.

    That the Darwinists are concerned now with the first principle of causality is evident in the concept of emergence. The problem lies with how they deal with causality. It scares them, and so they wither causality away within the Darwinian paradigm. They can’t look outside the box, because the Darwinian paradigm dictates that they must always consider only naturalistic explanations. And so the development of methodological naturalism as the driving method of science is in itself a rejection of the first principles and methods of all philosophy, upon which the origin of science was established in the first place.

    You may be interested to know that one of the greatest atheistic philosophers of our time, Antony Flew has now rejected the Darwinian paradigm based on the causality issue, and the argument for design. By rejecting the Darwinian paradigm, he was also able to reject atheism altogether. How was he able to do this? He came to understand that evidence must be weighed on first principles. You go wherever the evidence leads, without an insistence on naturalistic presuppositions. If the evidence leads you away from naturalistic presuppositions, that is where you must go.

    This is exactly how design inferences come to fruition. It is not religious, but logical. You look outside the box of your philosophical presuppositions, and you are led to conclude that the principle of causality leads naturally to a design inference. It is no surprise then that a design inference can also be made scientifically by looking at the data in biology, and also in cosmology. It has always been this way to one degree or another throughout human history. Humans for the most part, have determined that the natural world is not all there is. Much of human religion is a response to this perception. That there are few atheists among us is an indication that naturalistic explanations do not suffice in light of the totality of human experience.
    Contrary to Darwinian perceptions, views other than naturalistic ones are not necessarily anti-science.

    Now the Darwinian for the most part (there are exceptions) rejects religious conclusions, and in many cases this is warranted. However, the basic premise and perceptions that have led to religious ideas, are in many cases logically sound and in line with first principles. Perhaps tgpeeler and Lock can discuss these issues a little better than I can. I’m learning as much from them as you appear to be. I may jump in when I feel I may have a particular insight.

  77. Cy: “To some extent, yes, although I would have to point out that my intellectual pursuits started with my first becoming a Christian. Before that event I had very little concern with these issues. I lived as though life had no meaning, or that we create our own meaning.”

    I thought so. My intelectual pursuits were there (and very muddled), but by comparison took aquantum leap after becoming a Christian.

    At some point I heard description of C.S. Lewis’ book, ‘A Pilgrims Regress’.

    I have not read it myself so I am paraphrasing; but appearently, Lewis made the observation that durring his search for the truth he entered into various worldviews for consideration and rejected them purely on intuition. All he could say was that ‘something was not right with those worldviews’ but he could not fully understand what. It was only after becoming a Christian that he could look back and see the problem and understand why he had rejected them.

    As soon as I heard that I immediately could relate. THAT probably best parrallels my own journey.

    And that reminds me of something else. I notce that Seversky cannot fully understand Christianity, or a biblical worldview. So it is the same sort of thing. BUT for me, there was always something about Christianity that ‘seemed right’ as opposed to the others. As it happens, it was the last thing I really considered with all my heart.

    So, I look back now and I see that for me, my subjectivity pulled me away from Christ, but all the while His Words were metaphorically, a kind of objective gravitational force.

    :) CY, I also was caught up in assuming we bring our own meaning into everything. But it was only after becoming a Christian that I looked back on it and said, “wait a minute! If all is subjective, then the ‘observation that all is subjective’ must be subjective also”. And then I began to study where such logically absurd ideas came from and realized that I had got those ideas from others. And believing them came with a kind of liberation. But that liberation came aslo with a cost; the inabiltiy to demand or posess coherence. At bottom, I found that it comes straight from the serpent in the garden of Eden.

    One of my favorite philosophers made the comment once that, “philosphers can write volumes on the meaningless of everything, and all you have to ask them is whether their book is meaningful”

  78. Toronto: “While terms like “absolute truths” seem to imply all the thinking has been done and the results are in, “common thread” gives me something to work with.”

    That seems very reasonable of you. How refreshing! :)

    As for ‘absolute truth’, it is rather repulsive to think that the results are in.

    Biblically speaking, over and over again, King Solomon posits that “there is nothing new under the sun.”

    Consider some things, though none of these will be perfect analogies.

    -As regards the laws of physics, are not the results in?

    One could (and sometimes must) argue that ultimately they were different in the past (before the birth of the cosmos). And they may be different in the future, but observationally, in terms of a strict methodological naturalism, they are absolute. Any discussion before or after the facts as we observe them is a metaphysical excersize be it a naturalistic extrapolation or not.

    -Or what about mathematics?

    Are you going to argue with your banker, and make the case that your account balance is actually $1,000,000 and not 10,000? Try fudging numbers with HIM!

    But there also we are dealing with something more than just numbers. There is a moral element linked to subjective interests of the individual.

    I do not want to try and discuss the whole matter here, and although we have already given you a long list of C.S. Lewis works to consider consuming, another comes to mind…

    As regards absolute truth, morality comes to the fore-front. And it is tied very much to first principles. It is also easier an issue to engage than most suppose.

    Lewis captures this beautifully in ‘Mere Christianity’. And once again, it is the first chapter.

    Though I reccomend you pick up a copy of all of these works for yourself, here is a link to that chapter and the 2nd which deals with some objections.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....7601/posts

    If nothing else it will give you a flavor of Lewis’ work.

  79. Toronto @ 72
    “I’m okay with reason, language, logic and law.”

    Then you are well on the way to becoming an ID proponent as well as (at least) a Theist.

    “I’m having real problems though with information, first principles and truth.”

    If you would be more specific about these problems I’m sure I’ll have an opinion about how to resolve them. :-) I’ll throw “truth” in for free right now. Whatever you ultimately propose as a theory of “truth” means that you think it describes the way things are. Right? Otherwise you wouldn’t put it out there as truth. Truth is complicated by philosophers who don’t want there to be truth (for personal reasons, I guess) but there is truth. It’s correspondence with reality. Simple.

    “Information I believe, tries to do to much. With that definition, it’s not only data, but a message and a functional process. I think that’s way too all-encompassing to be useful. I think that it would lead to confusion if used for debating purposes.”

    Regarding information, data only makes sense in the context of messages or processes. The very idea of data makes no sense apart from the concept of mind. But if the dictionary definition of information is too broad, by all means shorten it and we’ll go from there.

    I’ll also add this into the mix. Information cannot be created or transmitted or decoded apart from language. Tell me if you can agree, or not, with that.

    On another thread I just replied to you (discussing the detection of design that dominates much of these conversations) that the UNIVERSAL design detector, or explanatory filter, or whatever you want to call it, is the use of language. That is, the use of symbols and rules. If language and information are present, then so is mind and one of its functions, design.

  80. 80

    Toronto

    “One of the terms we really need to work on is Darwinism itself.

    I don’t understand why it is the label applied to all evolution theory since Darwin.”

    I don’t think you fully understand the term. ‘Darwinism’ is not necessarily the label applied to evolutionary theory. We use ‘ToE’ or ‘Darwinian Evolution’ for that purpose. ‘Darwinism’ describes more the philosophy that stems from the theory – The theory stresses the idea that all living things evolved from a common ancestor through a process of unguided and random mutations via natural selection. The philosophy extrapolates from this theory that therefore human beings are nothing more than the sum of their biological parts and that biological and human life have no purpose or meaning. There is no human soul or spirit, and when we die, that is the end – we are no more.

  81. 81

    Lock,

    “I thought so. My intelectual pursuits were there (and very muddled), but by comparison took aquantum leap after becoming a Christian.

    At some point I heard description of C.S. Lewis’ book, ‘A Pilgrims Regress’.”

    Lewis’s writings were something I devoured shortly after becoming a Christian, so I would have to say that I’m no expert on him, because that was 30 years ago. From time to time I revisit his writings, but only for reference to my notes.

    Lewis though, is an excellent reference, because his books are enjoyed by a large variety of Christians of differing views, and by non-Christians as well, who wish to understand the rationale behind the Christian gospel.

    Another author, whom I believe does not get enough credit these days, is the late Francis A. Schaeffer. He died in the mid 1980s so he’s more contemporary than Lewis. His foundational books are his first 3, ‘The God Who Is There,’ ‘Escape From Reason,’ and ‘He Is There And He Is Not Silent.’

    His complete works are now available in 5 volumes, although it’s rather pricey.

    I’m not sure if you are familiar with him, but his philosophical approach is very different than Lewis’, although somewhat complimentary.

    Schaeffer’s primary focus is on our basis for human rationality, morality and dignity, so it’s not surprising that he begins where he does with ‘The God Who Is There.’

  82. Locke:

    Why not try this? [As a start.]

    GEM of TKI

    PS: TGP: I had the books originally, then bought the 5-volume collection. Schaeffer, like Lewis, is misunderestimated, but very, very relevant; moreso than when they were alive — and that, because we did not listen to heir warning. (Think about Heine’s warning in 1831 on the consequences for Germany of its intellectualised apostasy. [Cf here.])

  83. Oops: CY!

  84. 84
    CannuckianYankee

    misunderestimated. I like that! :)

  85. CY, I am familliar with Schaeffer, and have watched some old videos of him. But I have not read any of his books.

    Along the same lines as Schaeffer, Ravi Zacharius is an apologist I am far more familliar with. I have listened to many of his CD messsages while driving. Most of it, as you say, shortly after becoming a Christian (and the same for my Lewis reading) only for me, that was about 10 years ago. I am 39 now.

    All of them take us back to basics, and that is where many in the intellectual class have moved on from. But we are forgetful creatures, stiff necked even ;)

    We must constantly go back to basics I think. Especially when there is a worldview misunderstanding with such honest individuals as Toronto.

    kairosfocus, Heine certainly got it! Thank you for that one… Who among us does not know the frustration of laying it out so plain while hands wave us off?

    “Christianity — and that is its greatest merit — has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered [the Swastika, visually, is a twisted, broken cross . . .], the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame. …

    The old stone gods will then rise from long ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor will leap to life with his giant hammer and smash the Gothic cathedrals. …

    … Do not smile at my advice — the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world. …

    At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead, and lions in farthest Africa will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll.”

    Since we meander, let me give you another quote from another profit. Only this time a false one. It is very relevant to science, and cuts right to the heart of the revolution that gave us methodological naturalism.

    I became aware of it by way of Ravi and I will include his analysis…

    “When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance, let us ask, ‘Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number’? No. ‘Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence’? No. Commit it then to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.” ( David Hume / An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding / sec. XII, pt 3 )

    Ravi Zacharius observed that, “Humes own statement does not contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number. Nor does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence. How do we make a meaningful statement, that is metaphysically stated, in order to tell us that metaphysics is meaningless?”

    Put another way, how do we propose a philosophy that says that philosophy is meaningless? It’s like saying, ‘English is unintelligible’, or ‘words do not have any meaning’. And later philosphers have said as much! Fascinating… It takes a spirit to deny spirit. It takes an intellect to deny intellect.

    So on that point I end with Lewis:

    “To be ignorant and simple now – not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground – would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. The cool intellect must work not only against cool intellect on the other side, but against the muddy heathen mysticisms which deny intellect altogether.”

    This is the heart of the debate gentleman. ID must have this foundation, in order to prevail.

  86. Locke:

    Ah, the tyranny of an unexamined metaphysics/ worldview!

    (Cf my current rebuttal here in another thread, of a case in point. I am often led to point us to Plato’s Parable of the Cave; duly noting on what is usually not highlighted in typical presentations — the apparatus of calculated deception/manipulation in the interests of the power-wielders and their minions who present the shadow-shows for the “benefit” of the prisoners. When there is a widespread absurdity in a civilisation posing as knowledge, you can rest assured, someone powerful is benefitting from imposing and propagating it. [And those who gain from such will of course stoutly resist exposure and correction by any means they deem necessary, while shifting blame for the conflict and chaos to those who are rocking the boat.])

    The ongoing Design revolution in science has to address worldview level implications, as the evolutionary materialistic de facto neo- Magisterium has worked to distort our understanding of what science is and should do.

    This is focussed on several issues:

    i] Science is an umbrella term that cannot be reduced to a monolith, i.e.

    ii] As Feyerabend et al remind us, there are no methods, techniques and principles that are so unique to and definitive of science that we may draw a hard, neat demarcation line between the sciences and other serious inquiries into the facts and underlying best explanation/causes.

    iii] Similarly, when sciences investigate the world as a going concern [operational science], the possibility of direct observation imposes a stronger empirical check than in cases of origins sciences, which try to reconstruct the history of the remote, unobserved — indeed, unobservable — past.

    iv] In any case, the issue is not the attaching of a prestigious label to certain findings — “science” — the meanwhile imposing a priori materialism as an atheist’s veto censoring constraint on explanations — but to study sound principles of empirically based investigation by inference to best explanation on factual adequacy, coherence, and explanatory power.

    v] Consequently, insofar as we may point to an ideal for science it is that science should seek to be an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our world based on empirical evidence, analysis, explanation and discussion among the informed.

    As you doubtless know, I — as just one of many here at UD and elsewhere — have often pointed out in this context, that scientific investigations have routinely addressed causal factors tracing to mechanical necessity [showing up in lawlike regularities], chance [showing up in brute fact initial circumstances and/or in statistically distributed contingencies, etc], and intelligence [showing up in functionally specific complexity and similar signs of intelligence]. So, there is no good reason to impose the arbitrary rule that science may only explain by the first two of these factors, once there is adequate evidence to make the signs of intelligence plain. Forensic fire investigators do that sort of thing all the time, as do archaeologists etc!

    I have then argued that the reformation of science to eliminate the ideological imposition of materialism, opens the door to considering issues and evidence that are often overlooked, which have worldview level implications. But that is very different from making an imposition of another worldview.

    Science should stick close to the empirical data and its direct explanation, in short.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

    PS: my introductory level thoughts on worldview level thinking.

  87. I sit corrected.

  88. GEM, in your discussion of the fallacy of affirming the consequent you note:

    “However, it is a common error to think that if Q is true then P must be true also, the fallacy of Affirming the Consequent. To see why it is a mistake, think about the case:

    P: “Tom is a cat”

    Q: “Tom is an animal.”

    And: Tom is an animal

    So: Tom is a cat!

    Obviously, Tom could be a pig or a goat.”

    Are you trying to tell me something???!!! :-)

  89. Lock @ 85
    “Put another way, how do we propose a philosophy that says that philosophy is meaningless? It’s like saying, ‘English is unintelligible’, or ‘words do not have any meaning’. And later philosphers have said as much! Fascinating… It takes a spirit to deny spirit. It takes an intellect to deny intellect.”

    You have, I think, put your finger on the ultimate problem. They ignore reason when it suits them even as they trumpet from the skies that they are the rational and intellectually honest ones. Anything that contains an internal contradiction cannot possibly be true (and Woe to you if you believe otherwise). Aristotle wrote on this over 2 millennia ago and Isaiah 350 years or so before him so it’s not like it’s a new idea or anything.

    There are other examples. They deny that purpose exists in the universe. Why do they do that?

    They deny that absolute truth exists. Yet that is an absolute truth claim.

    They say that reason isn’t the supreme authority in matters of truth. When asked why they are forced to … reason.

    They deny the existence of the abstract or immaterial yet claim that everything can be explained by means of the immaterial laws of physics.

    They say there are no moral absolutes yet think it is evil to teach ID in science class.

    They claim that language isn’t necessary for information but have to use language to communicate that information.

    They deny the existence of design and claim that there is only “apparent” design. Well how could they know of fake design in the absence of real design?

    The intellectual degeneracy is staggering. It’s enough to make one weep.

  90. Tgpeeler: “There are other examples. They deny that purpose exists in the universe. Why do they do that?”

    Like Forest Gump? ‘Fa no paticula reason’?

    :D

    kairosfocus, what was it I thought you had corrected me on?

    For their own purposes of course!

  91. “For their own purposes of course!”

    EXACTLY. Which statement contradicts the original claim and therefore cannot possibly be true.

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