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What if its True?

Warning:  This post is intended for those who have an open mind regarding the design hypothesis.  If your mind is clamped so tightly shut that you are unable to even consider alternatives to your received dogma, it is probably better for you to just move along to the echo chamber of your choice.

 Today, for the sake of argument only, let us make two assumptions:

 1.  First, let us assume that the design hypothesis is correct, i.e., that living things appear to be designed for a purpose because they were in fact designed for a purpose.

 2.  Second, let us assume that the design hypothesis is not a scientific hypothesis, which means that ID proponents are not engaged in a scientific endeavor, or, as our opponents so often say, “ID is not science.”

From these assumptions, the following conclusion follows:  If the design hypothesis is correct and at the same time the design hypothesis may not be advanced as a valid scientific hypothesis, then the structure of science prohibits it from discovering the truth about the origin of living things, and no matter how long and hard researchers operating within the confines of the scientific method work, they will forever fail to find the truth about the matter.

Now let us set all assumptions aside.  Where does this leave us?  No one can know with absolute certainty that the design hypothesis is false.  It follows from the absence of absolute knowledge, that each person should be willing to accept at least the possibility that the design hypothesis is correct, however remote that possibility might seem to him.  Once a person makes that concession, as every honest person must, the game is up.  The question is no longer whether ID is science or non-science.  The question is whether the search for the truth of the matter about the natural world should be structurally biased against a possibly true hypothesis.  When the question is put this way, most people correctly conclude that we should not place ideological blinkers on when we set out to search for truth.  Therefore, even if it is true that ID is not science (and I am not saying that it is), it follows that this is a problem not with ID, but with science.  And if the problem is with science, this means that the way we conceive of the scientific enterprise should be changed.  In other words, if our search for truth excludes a possibly true answer, then we should re-conceive our search for truth.

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284 Responses to What if its True?

  1. Of course the argument form

    If X were true, it would be inconvenient for science; therefore, X is false

    is at best moderately compelling. We aren’t just given that the Lord has arranged the universe for the comfort and convenience of the National Academy of Science. To think otherwise is to be like the drunk who insisted on looking for his lost car keys under the streetlight, on the grounds that the light was better there. (In fact it would go the drunk one better: it would be to insist that because the keys would be hard to find in the dark, they must be under the light.) ~ Alvin Plantinga

  2. But what is the alternative? If you can’t fall back on repeatable, observer independent, subject to verification criteria then what have you got?

    Remember too Michael Behe’s Dover testimony when he admitted that his definition of science would include astrology. Be very careful.

    In support of your thoughts, there was a mathematical theorem/hypothesis that said it’s not possible to discover everything that is true within mathematics only climbing the established framework. Godel?? I think that’s who established that.

    And I’m leaving aside all the questions that could come up given the assumption that the design hypothesis is true. :-)

  3. 3

    Bevets, actually with respect to the argument I am making here, the more applicable quote froom your collection (which I have admired for some years BTW) is: Is the conclusion that the universe was designed — and that the design extends deeply into life — science, philosophy, religion, or what? In a sense it hardly matters. By far the most important question is not what category we place it in, but whether a conclusion is true. A true philosophical or religious conclusion is no less true than a true scientific one. Although universities might divide their faculty and courses into academic categories, reality is not obliged to respect such boundaries. Behe

  4. Barry:

    What if its True?

    Or asked differently, “What if it’s not a hoax”?

    Science is often called upon to examine artifacts to determine their provenance and authenticity. Implicit in their study is that regardless of the possibility of hoax or forgery, science is ostenisibly capable and responsible to distinguish fact from fiction.

    Science does this with artwork, inscriptions, artifacts, etc, (even forensic crime evidence) purported to be authentic, and science does not shy away merely because of the possibility or even liklihood of hoax, forgery or manipulation. Rather, the entire raison d’être is to scientifically establish or reject any such hoax, forgery or manipulation.

    Surely science is equally capable of determining the authenticity of ID, regardless of perjorative and disparaging allegations that ID is not “scientific”.

    Hoaxes and forgeries are definitely not scientific either and yet science has no qualms about investigating them, because science itself does not weigh in the balance.

    But if science determines that the design hypothesis ought be accorded a modicum of scientific veracity, that in fact the design hypothesis relies on forensic observations and not “just so stories” for its evidence, then the raison d’être of Darwinism would be called into question, and we can’t have that.

  5. Could the scientific method be used to produce repeatable, observable conclusions to verify the truthfulness of “non-scientfic” categories such as philosophy, religion?

    (I do not however mean to assume that there is no truth in philosophy or religion unless science can verify it. I believe there is. I belieev there is truth that science will never be able to verify.)

  6. 6

    ellazimm asks what have we got unless we have “repeatable, observer independent, subject to verification criteria?” the implication being “we’ve got nothing.” No, we have “inference to the best explanation” which I believe should be the basis for all truth gathering activities.

    BTW, your formulation would exclude much of evolutionary biology from “science.” How do you “repeat” say, the fossil record. When they draw conclusions from the fossil record paleontologists are not performing “repeatable” experiments are they? No, they are attempting to draw an inference to the best explanation, which, of course, is the same thing an ID theorist is doing. So if you exclude the ID theorist’s inferences about the fossil record from science, why have you not also excluded the paleontologist’s?

  7. No, we have “inference to the best explanation” which I believe should be the basis for all truth gathering activities.

    How do you define “best” though?

    The problem with the design hypothesis is that it admits paranoia: The Designer designed the world to make it the way it is, just to confuse us. The problem is that the world may look the way it is even if there were no designer. So, how does one distinguish between the two?

  8. I guess it comes down to what is the ‘best’ explanation. Who decides what is best?

    You can’t repeat the fossil record, but you can repeatedly examine it with different models and see which is the most parsimonious. And the modern evolution synthesis draws on many lines of evidence, not just the fossil record. I tend to think of the fossil record as being supportive of evolutionary theory but not proof. And it has yet to contradict the basic tenets of evolution. Until they find a rabbit in the pre-Cambrian layers of course! :-)

    Remember too that Dawkins, for one, has said that the fossil record is now just icing on the cake. Even Darwin admitted that it was problematic and based his conclusions on that AND other lines of evidence.

    I remember the buzz about cold fusion in the early 90s. There were lots of reported findings and then counter findings. In the end, if we’ve come to the end, it’s not just one paper or one hypothesis, it comes down to lots and lots of data and results. (Although Bob Parks points out that there was a fundamental violation of well established laws of physics.)

    Look, I completely agree that many aspects of human experience cannot be codified and defined based on a scientific, conservative approach. But surely it is worthwhile to reserve the term science to that which has been established based on multiple lines of evidence, repeated examination and with the least appeals to unproven forces and causes? Yeah?

    Inference to the best explanation is part of the process. But, as a fallible human being, i know that my own inferences are sometimes hideously wrong. Sometimes because I am not in possession of all the data, sometimes because there isn’t enough data and sometimes because I have a preconceived notion that I am determined to uphold. I’m doing by best to examine my beliefs in light of new information. And to be prepared to accept that my own inferences can be completely off.

  9. 9

    ellazimm, have you ever stopped to ask yourself why the frosting on the cake is “problematic”? I suspect not. Otherwise you would not have written an internally contradictory sentence.

  10. BA: Yes, I have asked myself that question. I have tried really hard to examine all my beliefs and the things that I have accepted. If my trust in the modern evolutionary synthesis merely rested on the fossil record then my . . . belief would be much more tenuous. But it’s just one thread. And not a necessary one.

    Sorry if I am self contradictory; I blame my ability to express myself clearly in this forum and the lateness of the hour here in Britain.

  11. One thing makes this endeavor of yours seem more fraudulent. It’s that, if you have a reliable method of determining whether a claim is true that, currently, doesn’t fit within the definition of the word “science”, why can this method not have its own word? It seems to me that you would like your endeavor to invoke an air of credibility by simply calling it science, rather than doing the footwork to prove its worth. Science is a specific tool for a specific job, and isn’t simply empiricism. It does require logical inference.

  12. 12
    CannuckianYankee

    ellazimm,

    The fossil record is referred to by many Darwinists as a major evidential factor for evolution. Without it, none of their other lines of argumentation would work. Yet it is problematic. It seems to me that if the base is faulty, the rest of the building should fall with it. Dawkins may think it’s just “icing on the cake,” but that doesn’t seem to compute with many of the arguments for evolution.

    Darwin was more ingenuous with this. He clearly saw it as problematic, and a major stumbling block.

    I look at it like this: if Darwinian evolution is true, the fossil record would reflect that in abundance. It doesn’t, so the fossil record should be interpreted from other angles other than Darwinian evolution. If it’s truth you’re truly seeking, you owe it to yourself to consider alternatives. You may believe that Darwin proponents have other evidence, and indeed they have; however, as I mentioned in earlier posts on other threads, evidence belongs to all of us, and taking their evidence and examining it from other perspectives leaves me with doubt about the entire Darwinian enterprise. I think the ID explanation is more parsimonious to the evidence at hand. Furthermore, Darwin proponents refuse to look at some of the evidence at hand. They will only look at evidence, which they can force to confirm their hypothesis. Have you ever thought that maybe this is why Dawkins downplays the fossil record?

  13. I truly enjoyed this post. The idea expressed here is quite freeing to the mind. Thinking like this grants intellectual liberty, but not intellectual license. Here you could search for naturalitic explanations for anything, and yet be free to say the answer is “no” should it look, by the evidence, that there is none. Too, under this umbrella, and to the positive side, a free mind could ask, “is it designed” and persue a program along the line, “what do you see that makes you think so?” I don’t think the mainstream grants that sort of liberty, but it seems more a philosophical issue than and scientific one.

  14. “The question is whether the search for the truth of the matter about the natural world should be structurally biased against a possibly true hypothesis.”

    Actually, I think it’s perfectly OK for the search for the truth of the matter to be structurally biased against a possibly true hypothesis.

    For instance, consider the following hypothesis:
    A. The laws of nature are at base stochastic, and observed frequencies are typically quite far from the actual objective probabilities.

    Hypothesis A is, I guess, possible. (My hesitation is in wondering if God could allow it.) For instance, it is possible that coin tosses have objective probability 1/10 of heads and 9/10 of tails, and that our 50-50 observations are just a very unlikely chance event. But our methods of empirical investigation are structurally biased against A, just as they are structurally biased against many other sceptical-type hypotheses.

    There is nothing wrong with having structural biases against exceedingly unlikely hypotheses. I suspect there is also nothing wrong with having structural biases against sceptical hypotheses.

    If this is right, then the argument needs more than the possibility of ID being correct. It needs something like a somewhat serious possibility. I don’t know what the probability cut-off for a “somewhat serious possibility” is. In some contexts at least, a hypothesis that has a probability of at least one in a million is somewhat serious. E.g., if I had a one in a million chance of having won the lottery, I would say: “I know I didn’t win, but I should check just in case.” So it’s a somewhat serious possibility that I won the lottery. I think ID meets the “somewhat serous possibility” bound, but I suspect many of ID’s opponents disagree.

  15. 15

    Charles,

    I’m glad to see you posting. Please hang around if you can.

  16. 16

    Henrich, a little challenge for you. Please provide a quote from an ID book or research paper that follows:

    “The Designer designed the world to make it the way it is, just to confuse us.”

    If you cannot, then retract it as a partisan distortion.

  17. 17

    arpruss,

    The actual sequencing of nucleotides in DNA has been studied for underlying pattern. Agency choice was determined to be the only recognizable cause that could lead to the aperiodic sequencing tied to specific function.

    This conclusion was printed in the peer-reviewed press in 1995, and has been repeated since. Polanyi’s similar conclusions go back to the late sixties.

    They still stand.

    A cause that stands alone, as the only discernable force that can create the effect in question, should certainly be allowed at the table.

  18. CY:

    Dawkins has said, very clearly and several times, that the evidence for evolution is overpowering without the fossil record. It’s not the base. Darwin had less evidence to go on and, even admitting the fossil record was not as complete as he would have liked, especially in his day, he still came to his conclusion based on other lines of evidence.

    The fossil record is bound to be incomplete (it’s a crap shoot, which lifeforms get fossilised and which don’t) and does not contradict the modern evolutionary synthesis. It could falsify the theory however; it has a veto power. So far, it hasn’t. And no, I don’t think that is why Dawkins downplays the fossil record. Plus, more and more fossils are being discovered every day and, as of yet, none have disproven evolutionary theory.

    I am here because I am interested in other viewpoints. And I should hope we all consider all the evidence. Why do you think I’m here? I want to understand why you disagree with me.

    Look, I don’t want to push my viewpoint but I’m happy to be clear about it. For a really good examination of the fossil record I recommend the book Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters by Donald Prothero. It’s recent, it’s comprehensive and it’s not a screed. Jerry Coyne’s book Why Evolution is True does a very good job discussing all the lines of evidence in separate chapters. And then there’s Dawkins’ book The Greatest Show on Earth. Kenneth Miller’s book Only a Theory is also excellent.

    I respect your view and your doubt. Doubt is good, it keeps you on your toes. I’m not here to convert anyone. But I’m happy to be clear about my own view. I hope I am being respectful of yours.

  19. 19

    EZ, I find it odd that you’ve read all these books but were not capable (?) of absorbing the Abel paper I referenced on your earlier visit to UD.

    In the interest of not assuming a comfortable position in the family echo chamber, have you read Signature in the Cell perhaps in this quest to understand ID? Or do you plan to?

    Just askin.

  20. Barry,

    You seem to have excluded one particular scenario for reasons which are unclear.

    For example, it’s possible a fleet of alien ships could arrive tomorrow and claim their species has been manipulating life on our planet for billions of years. Thet could produce vast amounts of evidence and even perform demonstrations that support their claim.

    This discovery would not be due to some discovery by researchers here on earth but with the decision of the designer(s) to clearly reveal themselves to us. As such, the suggesting that we must forever be in the dark regarding the cause of biological complexity we observe appears to be an unwarranted assumption based on what the designer would or would not do at some point in the future.

    Why have you excluded this particular scenario, given that ID supposedly does not posit any particular designer in particular?

  21. 21
    CannuckianYankee

    el,

    “Dawkins has said, very clearly and several times, that the evidence for evolution is overpowering without the fossil record. It’s not the base.”

    Yes, I know what Dawkins has said. I’ve been following his writing for several years now.

    What he doesn’t do though, is look at other perspectives unless he’s out to slander and misrepresent those perspectives; so I don’t put much weight to what he has said. The thing about Dawkins is he’s a master of persuasion for those who already accept his views, or for those who like you may be on the fence. The problem is, he doesn’t fairly evaluate the other side. He thinks Darwinian evolution is fact, and that those who disagree with it are stupid, lazy or wicked.

    He won’t debate with opponents unless he can control the show. He particularly won’t debate ID, because he identifies ID as “Creationism,” and he doesn’t debate Creationists. Why should I then, listen to him any further than I already have, if he won’t allow a level playing field?

    The one writing in which he clearly addresses design is “The Blind Watchmaker;” but he’s debating Paley from two Centuries ago, and not the current design proponents.

    He hasn’t shown evolution to be true; he has persuaded a large following that it is true, but that’s another issue altogether. And I do believe he downplays the fossil record for the very reason I indicated. The fossil record is highly problematic for his view.

  22. Mr Barrington,

    I hope that you repeat this post periodically. It would be good to be reminded of this on occasion.

  23. Why have you excluded this particular scenario, given that ID supposedly does not posit any particular designer in particular?

    OMG Barry! GOTCHA!

    This particular scenario is about DESIGNERS.

    It must be confusing, a theory which does not post a particular designer in particular MUST THEREFORE posit non-particular DESIGNERS!!!

    Right?

  24. Um. No.

  25. ok, so I’M WRONG. I do always try to be willing to admit when I am wrong.

    Id DOES posit DESIGNERS.

    NEWS FLASH!!!

    How else would we have any inkling of what DESIGN might look like, unless we had some knowledge of DESIGNERS?

    So help me out here. How does this scenario with unknown space aliens fit in with what we KNOW about DESIGN from KNOWN DESIGNERS?

  26. Mung,

    Slow down. It is really hard to understand you. Does post mean posit? Are you being sarcastic? If so, when does the sarcasm begin and where does it end? I can’t tell.

    Sarcasm does not translate well on the blogosphere although many people think it is excessively creative.

  27. Look, I don’t want to push my viewpoint but I’m happy to be clear about it. For a really good examination of the fossil record I recommend the book Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters by Donald Prothero.

    Let’s be honest. Fossils don’t speak. They say nothing. The title of this book employs a FIGURE OF SPEECH. Pause. Think.

    So what we are left with is PEOPLE who SAY THINGS ABOUT FOSSILS.

    Agreed?

    People Who Say Things About Fossils and Why It Matters.

    Such a catchy title.

    But it sort of reduces the author to yet other person who is merely saying something about fossils amongst all the other people who say things about fossils and who have ever said anything about fossils.

    What I, Donald Prothero, Say About Fossils and Why It Matters.

    Oh yeah. How did the publishers miss that one?

    ok, here’s my submission for a title:

    Fossils Don’t Lie: And Here’s Why

    WOW! BRILLIANT!

    Another title:

    Fossils Don’t Lie About People, But People Lie About Fossils: And Here’s Why

    STUNNING! SUCH TRUTH!

    Contact me for the rights to these titles, and if you are willing to pay me enough, I’ll even write a book!

  28. Slow down. It is really hard to understand you. Does post mean posit? Are you being sarcastic? If so, when does the sarcasm begin and where does it end? I can’t tell.

    But if I supply an indicator of where the sarcasm begins and ends, what fun is that?

    Isn’t it more rewarding to discover that sarcasm is being employed, and where, than to have it pointed out?

    :)

    Yes, the first “post” was meant to be a “posit.”

    Sarcasm does not translate well on the blogosphere although many people think it is excessively creative.

    I’ve been accused of being excessive, but never of being excessively creative.

    THANKS!

  29. 29

    Prothero has been thoroughly debilitated as a voice of rational discourse.

    Actually he did to himself.

    But hey, perhaps he keeps a nice lawn, or doesn’t where those shoes with that shirt. Everyone has a talent of some sort.

  30. I buried my talent =P

  31. UB:

    Fair point; give me the reference again and I promise to read the paper before contributing here again.

    I haven’t read Signature in the Cell yet. I listen to ID the Future and have done for several years. I read Evolution News and Views. I try and keep up with what’s going on.

    CY:

    We’ll have to agree to disagree about Dawkins. As I said, I’m not here to push my view and he can defend himself so I’m gonna walk away from that discussion. No offence intended or taken.

    Mung:

    Sorry, haven’t got money to pay you to write a book. Maybe after I win the lottery. :-)

  32. 32
  33. Mung,

    Barry suggested that, for the sake of argument, we assume that the theory of ID as presented is true. Furthermore, Barry suggested we assume that ID in its current form is not a scientific hypnosis.

    From these assumptions, Barry went on to conclude that, if this were actually the case in reality, we would be forever unable to discover that design was true due to some unnamed flaw in science.

    However, for the sake of argument, when I too make the same assumptions, I did not reach the same conclusion. Why is this?

    For Barry to reach this conclusion, It would seem he must make specific assumptions about the designer which are not present in the theory of ID. Namely, should some abstract designer actually exist, the designer would not reveal this fact to us in leu of discovering it ourselves.

    But, given the assumptions above, it’s unclear why Barry has excluded this scenario.

    As far as I know, ID makes no claims about the designer beyond the implication of design, which requires the ability to make choices as an intelligent agent. However, it’s unclear how Barry knows one of the choices this agent would not make is to revel this fact to us.

    Apparently, either I do not understand the theory that ID is attempting to promote as a science or Barry is making assumptions about the designer which are not present if the theory of ID itself.

    Again, I’m taking the “explanation” that ID presents seriously and assuming it’s actually true. However, in doing so, I do not reach the same conclusion.

    This is what prompted my hypothetical designer scenario and my question to Barry regarding why he apparently excludes it.

  34. UB:

    Thanks! No more from me ’til I’ve read them. It’s after 9AM here (England) so I’ll probably have to start doing family stuff soon so don’t hold your breath!! :-)

    Later all. Have a good Saturday. Do something fun away from your computer.

  35. Henrich [sic], a little challenge for you. Please provide a quote from an ID book or research paper that follows:

    “The Designer designed the world to make it the way it is, just to confuse us.”

    If you cannot, then retract it as a partisan distortion.

    I’m sorry, I’m not sure what I’m meant to be distorting. Perhaps I could have made my point more clearly, though.

    The problem with positing a designer is that there is nothing stopping us from positing a designer who made the world look like it wasn’t designed: it seems that this is called the Omphalos Hypothesis (and taken to the extreme, you get Last Thursdayism). This perfectly fits with what we observe (it can’t not!), so scientifically at least is the best hypothesis.

    Now, I’m not saying that anyone in ID is claiming that this is so, but I also don’t see how ID avoids making this the best explanation. The only way out of it is to limit how the designer behaved, but ID refuses to do that.

    I think I’ve just argued that if Barry is to be logically consistent, he has to follow Last Thursdayism. I hope for his sake he’s kind to cats. :-)

  36. Personally, if the ID community can generate genuine scientific material that challenges evolution, I have no problem with that.

    To make the case convincing, there needs to be evidence of and descriptions of the designer. Is there any? Without that the case is weak.

    It’s also the case that the scientific evidence we have rules out the literal biblical creation story. It is definitely not true. Does the ID community accept that too?

  37. Mung:I’ve been accused of being excessive, but never of being excessively creative.

    Well, to be excessively pedantically precise, you still haven’t ;)

  38. PP:

    Why do you say this?

    To make the case convincing, there needs to be evidence of and descriptions of the designer. Is there any? Without that the case is weak . . .

    That sounds a lot like distractive special pleading to me, i.e. because ID is about inference from empirical sign to signified, and to the class of causal process, directed contingency, i.e to that ’tweredun. I would think that it is an important first demonstration to see that something happened, before turning to issues over whodunit, or even how.

    Just now I had to point out to Avocationist in the computational intelligence thread that:

    ______________

    >> 7 –> You know or should know (and the Weak Argument correctives you seem to have neglected are there to help) that the real issue is that the cell exhibits digitally coded, functionally specific, complex algorithmic [and coded -- i.e. linguistic]information, or dFSCI as GPuccio abbreviates.

    8 –> Now, dFSCI is a very familiar phenomenon in an information age, indeed it is the key element that makes the PC you are using to read this and make comments here work.

    9 –> It is also a well known fact that such dFSCI, in every case where we directly observe the origin, is produced by intelligence . . . .

    12 –> Now, one of the challenges on origin of life is that whenever and wherever it happened, it happened in a deep past we cannot observe, nor do we have generally accepted records. That is the source of the sting in Job when YHWH speaks out of the storm in ch 38:

    1 . . . the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
    2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
    with words without knowledge?
    3 Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand . . .

    13 –> Plainly, this is a very good and deep challenge to the project of origins science.

    14 –> The best answer we can give is that once (i) we can establish an empirically reliable pattern in the present, (ii) we can observe traces of he past in the present, and (iii) we can see a credible set of initial circumstances that through those patterns would give rise to sufficiently similar traces, (iv) we may scientifically infer on best explanation, that the suggested circumstances and dynamics are a credible — albeit inevitably provisional — origins narrative.

    15 –> Of course, one thing that we have no right to do, is to claim that such an inferential reconstruction is a fact beyond reasonable dispute or doubt. (Sadly, it is necessary to note this, as there is a tendency to over-claim the factual basis for evolutionary theories of origins.)

    16 –> Coming back from epistemological underpinnings (and yes, science inescapably rests on philosophical foundations), we can note that there is a clear, empirically reliable pattern concerning dFSCI: it is a sign that — per a massive base of observations and without a credible counterexample that can stand basic scrutiny — reliably points to directed contingency as its origin.

    17 –> That is, dFSCI, on empirical warrant, points to design its relevant causal factor. (Indeed, on the search space challenges, the other main source of contingency, chance, is not a credible source for dFSCI.)

    18 –> So, we have good reason to see that he dFSCI in the cell is the product of intelligence, and not the credible product of chance circumstances, molecular noise and undirected chemical processes in Darwin’s hypothetical pond or a modern equivalent.

    19 –> To overturn that, all that would be required is to empirically demonstrate that dFSCI can, with reasonable likelihood, be produced by undirected chance and mechanical necessity in a reasonable natural circumstance. Or even, just in a credible computer or experimental setup. [Genetic Algorithms, to name a favourite rabbit trail, are in fact designed, and build in a lot of intelligently sourced active information that allows them to outperform blind chance plus necessity.] >>
    _______________

    Now, I find it extremely interesting that consistently, Darwinist objectors to intelligent design do not take up this direct empirical evidence challenge but instead as a rule find some tangent to drag a red herring away from, and lead it out to a strawman argument.

    Indeed, your own example is a case in point.

    Now, that sort of predominant distractive and evasive rhetorical pattern coming from objectors tells us strongly that the argument is not at all as weak as you have asserted.

    Just the opposite, in fact.

    It seems instead that he strength of the inference from especially dFSCI to the signified directed contingency as the relevant cause is strong.

    It credibly warrants a that tweredun conclusion, which then raises a most unwelcome question for those determined to impose a priori Lewontinian materialism on origins science: whodunit.

    And, that is the real problem, it seems.

    In short, design theory raises questions that can challenge a comfortable evolutionary materialist darwinian orthodoxy. That orthodoxy has responded largely on ideological and rhetorical grounds.

    (This is discussed in the Weak Argument Correctives and we need not detail it here. Besides, if one is sufficiently determined, mere argument and evidence will be insufficient to break the hold of a reigning orthodoxy. It will take a public breakdown of the system to do that, and based on some of the indefensible harsher measures and specious arguments currently being sued in defence of the Darwinian magisterium, that is predictably coming, maybe faster than one thinks.)

    Indeed, I find the original post by Mr Arrington captures much of the problem aptly, and that the responses from objectors reveal more about the problem of a faltering orthodoxy than about the issue at stake.

    The real issue, in the end is what warrants a knowledge claim, not whether it is properly labelled with a now prestigious term such as “science” or not.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Onlookers, you may find the discussion here helpful

  39. Peepul states;

    “It’s also the case that the scientific evidence we have rules out the literal biblical creation story.”

    Peepul it depends on whose definition of ‘literal’ you want to use. Dr. Hugh Ross has made a compelling case for the ‘Old Earth’ creation model that is, in my view, far more consistent with scripture than the ‘Young Earth’ model, as well as being far superior to both the ‘Young Earth’ and the Naturalistic/Evolutionary models as far being consistent towards the scientific evidence. Here is his hour long lecture video on the subject:

    “Creation as Science” – Hugh Ross – A Testable Creation Model – video
    http://video.google.com/videop.....3183645446

    Here is a shorter 8 min. video by Dr. Ross that gives a pretty good taste of the strength of his model as far as being robust to predicting the trend of future evidence:

    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236

  40. Hi Barry,

    In your OP you have given essentially the same argument that Mike Gene has been giving for years. I think it’s a good argument. If you got it from Mike, you might want to share the credit.

  41. I think the atheist philosopher of science Bradley Monton said something like:

    “We’re not really interested in whether or not ID is science. What we’re really interested in is whether or not ID is true, because if it’s true, then does it really matter if we call it science?”

    I’ve been curious, though. What if it is true that some supernatural designer created the design we see in the universe, and that science by methodology excludes supernatural causation. If this is the case, then by implication, science will be permanently unable to explain certain events.

    If for the sake of argument, metaphysical naturalism were disproven, would you be willing to rethink whether or not science should hold to methodological naturalism?

  42. Kairosfocus,

    thank you very much for your reply.

    As an outsider to the ID community, one thing I do not understand is the claim that genetic algorithms cannot produce the same outcome as design.

    In a genetic algorithm, the software has a number of components, which are designed – but they do not encode information about the optimum solution.

    Are there are any papers or technical reference material from an ID perspective that you can share on this?

  43. Thanks Bornagain77,

    I’ll certainly look at the shorter video, and maybe also at the longer!

    Has Dr Ross written that material down also?

    Peepul

  44. PP:

    A GA is — designed, so it will be a design transmitter.

    It works by — using knowledge of the domain, and of how the objective function varies as you move the “dna” of population members. That is on what Marks and Dembski have been discussing as active information.

    You may want to go over by Evo Informatics Lab to see how they — Marks and Dembski — discuss key cases in point.

    Try out this dissection of AVIDA here.

    GEM of TKI

  45. Peepul,

    He has a book he recently wrote that he mentions here:

    Does the Probability for ETI = 1?
    Excerpt; On the Reasons To Believe website we document that the probability a randomly selected planet would possess all the characteristics intelligent life requires is less than 10^-304. A recent update that will be published with my next book, Hidden Purposes: Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, puts that probability at 10^-1054.
    http://www.reasons.org/does-probability-eti-1

    amazon here:

    Hidden Purposes: Why the Universe Is the Way It Is
    http://www.amazon.com/Why-Univ.....roduct_top

    His biologist partner at Reasons wrote a book here:

    The Cell’s Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator’s Artistry – Fazale Rana:
    http://www.amazon.com/Cells-De.....038;sr=1-1

    A video lecture of the book is here:

    The Cell’s Design: How Biochemistry Reveals the Work of a Creator – video
    http://vimeo.com/8987671

  46. After re-reading Barry’s OP, whether I understand ID correctly or not is irrelevant as Barry explicitly asks us to only make two assumptions…

    Today, for the sake of argument only, let us make two assumptions:

    1. First, let us assume that the design hypothesis is correct, i.e., that living things appear to be designed for a purpose because they were in fact designed for a purpose.

    2. Second, let us assume that the design hypothesis is not a scientific hypothesis, which means that ID proponents are not engaged in a scientific endeavor, or, as our opponents so often say, “ID is not science.”

    As such, it seems clear the specific conclusion Barry reaches is flawed as it makes unwarranted assumptions about the designer.

    Namely, Barry would need to add a third assumption similar to the following…

    3. Third, let’s assume the designer no longer exists, or is forever incapable or unwilling to present evidence that could be scientifically evaluated.

    However, as I mentioned earlier, it may be that I do not understand the theory of ID in that these assumptions are clearly present.

    So, to repeat my earlier question, Is assumption part of the theory of ID?

    If so, on what basis does reach this assumption?

  47. 47

    Bilbo I, thanks for the heads up. As far as I can remember, I have not read Mr. Gene.

  48. 48

    veilsofmaya, read kairosfocus’ post above. He is correct. We can make a design inference while knowing nothing about the designer.

  49. Peepul,

    Excuse me for my oversight, but Dr. Ross has a book written specifically on the topic of comparing the various origin models that are available:

    “Creation as Science” actually contains, in a 25-page side-by-side table, four models of creation: the Reasons to Believe (RTB – Old Earth) Model, Naturalism, Young-Earth Creationism and Theistic Evolution, with a total of 89 predictive tests for each model.

    Amazon here:

    Creation As Science: A Testable Model Approach to End the Creation/evolution Wars
    http://www.amazon.com/Creation.....038;sr=8-1

  50. veilsofmaya:

    Indeed, you do not understand ID and the reasoning – if I may abuse the term – that you use here reveals a serious misunderstanding (or is it refusal to understand) of science itself.

    ———-
    Concerning ID’s refusal to stick an identity on the designer(s):

    1. If we knew the designer we wouldn’t have a design inference or a design theory. ID would be a an irrefutably established historic fact.

    2. If SETI searchers detect an intelligently designed signal (what they’re looking for) will they then know who the designer is?
    Absolutely not. They will more information.

    Q: So where do Darwinists get this utter unscientific nonsense about having to identify the designer before making a design inference?

    A: The same place they found the inane “who designed the designer” infinite regression sophism – the void between their ears.

    “The fact that intelligent design doesn’t identify the source of design is not political calculation but precise thinking, refusing to go beyond what the scientific evidence tells us.”

    The genetic code has crucial self-editing machinery that is itself encoded in the DNA.

    This means that the system had to be fully functional from the beginning – this fact creates yet another vicious circle in the long list of chicken/egg circles that Darwinists pretend don’t exist.

  51. Science, as we now most commonly use the term, is simply seeking and understanding consistencies in nature that can then be put to use.

    Science should never be dogmatic because new observations will almost certainly be made and our best understandings will likely be passed by in a few generations.

    This means science can never be the arbiter of truth and those who think it as such are, very ironically, on the same plane as superstitious pagans.

    A great job as always, Barry.

  52. —Drew Mazanec: “If for the sake of argument, metaphysical naturalism were disproven, would you be willing to rethink whether or not science should hold to methodological naturalism.”

    Were you under the mistaken impression that ID embraces methodological naturalism?

  53. Quite the opposite. That was addressed to the opponents of ID.

  54. F/N: I think onlookers may find the (still evolving . . . beta test) discussions here and here [as well as the UD weak argument correctives top this page, right] helpful as background to the exchanges above.

  55. veilsofmaya, read kairosfocus’ post above. He is correct. We can make a design inference while knowing nothing about the designer.

    But if we make an inference, then we do know something about the designer: we’ve limited the designer to the subset of designers who leave signs of their handiwork in Nature.

  56. 56

    —Drew Mazanec: “If for the sake of argument, metaphysical naturalism were disproven, would you be willing to rethink whether or not science should hold to methodological naturalism.”

    Most people practising methodological naturalism are not epistemological naturalists. They believe in the supernatural. So why should they rethink?

  57. 57

    I don’t think the problem is with science. Science provides a particular type of knowledge by a particular method. Due to its methodology scientific knowledge is limited. How you interpret that knowledge, whether you like the produced knowledge or what you have to do if it conflicts with other types of knowledge is your personal or maybe a philosophical problem.

    Now the question is: Would changing the scientific method solve the problem?

    And the answer is No. You would not even be able to hide the contradictions. The only thing you would accomplish is to hide the fact that these problems are due to different methodologies.

  58. SO:

    First, you have to realise that there is no one-size-fits-all general “Scientific method” that only and all scientists use when practising “Science.” The utter breakdown of the demarcation approach to defining science put paid to that concept, decades ago.

    Second, In fact, science works by attempting an abductive inference to best explanation, on empirical evidence — where the observations, measurements and experiments come in — and reasoned analysis and discussion (where logic, mathematics and peer review etc come in), towards discovering the truth about our world.

    That approach is not unique, and it is closely parallel to many fields of serious praxis and reasoned decision-making.

    Now, as I discussed in 38 above, the problem with so-called methodological naturalism, is that it would impose a censoring constraint on the practice of science. Namely, in circumstances where the inference from reliable currently observed causal patterns on known signs to the signified causal factors, would possibly be unwelcome to materialists, we suddenly see an interruption of the inductive process.

    When we look at some of the proffered explanations by leading proponents of that (as in the US NAS and others) — and never mind the declarations of those who claim to not be materialists but adhere to and even advocate for the rules now being set by the materialists — we find worrying issues over back-door imposition of a priori materialism. Lewontin, in his NYRB review article, captures the problem very well:

    _________________

    >> . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . . the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . . .

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

    [[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis added. (NB: The key part of this quote comes after some fairly unfortunate remarks where Mr Lewontin gives the "typical" example -- yes, we can spot a subtext -- of an ill-informed woman who dismissed the Moon landings on the grounds that she could not pick up Dallas on her TV, much less the Moon. This is little more than a subtle appeal to the ill-tempered sneer at those who dissent from the evolutionary materialist "consensus," that they are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. Sadly, discreet forbearance on such is no longer an option: it has to be mentioned, as some seem to believe that such a disreputable "context" justifies the assertions and attitudes above!)] >>
    _________________

    1 –> In short, we see here the substitution of materialist ideology for the commitment to fearlessly pursuing the truth about our world based on evidence that won for science its reputation.

    2 –> Indeed, it is noteworthy that in the same context Lewontin spoke of viewing science as “the only begetter of truth.” But since the claim implied by this is a PHILOSOPHICAL claim about the source and possibility of knowledge, that is immediately self-contradictory and absurd.

    3 –> So, the bland assurance that “scientific knowledge is limited” gives us very little assurance; as the advocates are viewing science as the dominant means to any knowledge worth the name.

    4 –> Going further, as noted above at 38:

    12 –> Now, one of the challenges on origin of life is that whenever and wherever it happened, it happened in a deep past we cannot observe, nor do we have generally accepted records. That is the source of the sting in Job when YHWH speaks out of the storm in ch 38:

    1 . . . the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
    2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
    with words without knowledge?
    3 Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand . . .

    13 –> Plainly, this is a very good and deep challenge to the project of origins science.

    14 –> The best answer we can give is that once (i) we can establish an empirically reliable pattern in the present, (ii) we can observe traces of the past in the present, and (iii) we can see a credible set of initial circumstances that through those patterns would give rise to sufficiently similar traces, (iv) we may scientifically infer on best explanation, that the suggested circumstances and dynamics are a credible — albeit inevitably provisional — origins narrative.

    15 –> Of course, one thing that we have no right to do, is to claim that such an inferential reconstruction is a fact beyond reasonable dispute or doubt. (Sadly, it is necessary to note this, as there is a tendency to over-claim the factual basis for evolutionary theories of origins.)

    16 –> Coming back from epistemological underpinnings (and yes, science inescapably rests on philosophical foundations), we can note that there is a clear, empirically reliable pattern concerning dFSCI: it is a sign that — per a massive base of observations and without a credible counterexample that can stand basic scrutiny — reliably points to directed contingency as its origin.

    5 –> So, the first real challenge is that in the shape of dFSCI, we have a reliable sign of design as relevant causal factor, based on observation. (Onlookers, observe how we just never see the solid observed counter-examples that should overturn this ever so easily if it were empirically false.)

    6 –> We have every right to then infer that this is the factor at work in cases where we do not directly observe the cause, on the very grounds that are the basis for origins sciences.

    7 –> What blocks this is not the basic epistemological principles on which the scientific study of the deep past rests, but ideology.

    8 –> So,the proper counter to that is to identify what science — on the strength of its history — should be:

    the unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, based on observation, experiment, analysis and discussion among the informed.

    9 –> Simply contrasting that with the way that, say the ideological materialists have sought to impose on schools in recent years, e.g. in Kansas in 2001, is utterly telling:

    “Science is the human activity of seeking natural [i.e. = materialistic, tracing to chance and/or mechanical necessity only] explanations of the world around us.”

    __________________

    That is why Mr Arrington’s original post stings so strongly:

    No one can know with absolute certainty that the design hypothesis is false. It follows from the absence of absolute knowledge, that each person should be willing to accept at least the possibility that the design hypothesis is correct, however remote that possibility might seem to him. Once a person makes that concession, as every honest person must, the game is up. The question is no longer whether ID is science or non-science. The question is whether the search for the truth of the matter about the natural world should be structurally biased against a possibly true hypothesis. When the question is put this way, most people correctly conclude that we should not place ideological blinkers on when we set out to search for truth. Therefore, even if it is true that ID is not science (and I am not saying that it is), it follows that this is a problem not with ID, but with science. And if the problem is with science, this means that the way we conceive of the scientific enterprise should be changed.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: I second the motion that this post should be recirculated on a regular basis. Some form of it deserves to be promoted to the right hand column articles, too.

  59. second opinion:

    Now the question is: Would changing the scientific method solve the problem?

    And the answer is No. You would not even be able to hide the contradictions. The only thing you would accomplish is to hide the fact that these problems are due to different methodologies.

    Respectfully, the problem at present is that science is *not* consistent in its methodologies where ID and Darwinism are concerned. The contradictions exist now.

    The scientific methodology that examines the veracity of inferences from “design” ought to be the same as the methodology that examines the veracity of inferences from “just so stories”, and both ought to be the same as the methodology that examines the veracity of allegedly forged artifacts.

    Science willing investigates the veracity of artifact provenance in light of claims of hoax or forgery and science willing presumes the veracity of evolutionary claims in spite of fabricated “just so stories”, but science argues it can’t investigate the veracity of design inference precisely because of claims the designer is a hoax.

    Where is the methodological consistency of science as it stands now?

  60. @Barry (#48)

    You wrote:

    veilsofmaya, read kairosfocus’ post above. He is correct. We can make a design inference while knowing nothing about the designer.

    Barry,

    To repeat, I’ve done as you asked and assumed that design actually occurred in reality and that the form of ID theory falls outside of science. So, clearly, I’ve accepted this point, for the sake of argument.

    As such, your response appears to be directed at some argument I have not made.

    Instead, I’m suggesting that one of the specific conclusions you made in your original post is not evident based solely on the two assumptions you asked us to make.

    Specifically…

    From these [two] assumptions, the following conclusion follows: If the design hypothesis is correct and at the same time the design hypothesis may not be advanced as a valid scientific hypothesis, then the structure of science prohibits it from discovering the truth about the origin of living things, and no matter how long and hard researchers operating within the confines of the scientific method work, they will forever fail to find the truth about the matter.

    Again, it is only via making additional assumptions about the designer that this conclusion could be reached. For example…

    For example, given only these assumptions, we might discover the remains of a 1 billon year old alien spacecraft which contains detailed design plans of human beings. Please note this would *not* require any changes to science. Nor would is require ID to become subject to the methodical study of science. Your conclusion simply does to follow.

    In other words, you’re clearly making assumptions about the designer which are not evident in assumptions you asked us to make. Nor do they appear to be present in the theory of ID.

    Namely…

    - No physical evidence that clearly reveals the designers involvement exists that could be discovered in the future and would be subject to the scientific method.

    - If the designer still exits, it is either incapable of or intentionally decided not to reveal evidence that could be subject to the scientific method today.

    This is because, if we actually assume one or more abstract intelligent agents was or still is involved in designing for the biological complexity we observe, it’s possible that this agent could choose to reveal said involvement to us in a manner that could be could studied via the scientific method.

    Clearly, if an agent is capable of making intelligent choices regarding which changes to make in the genome, then its capable of making a choice on whether to reveal these choices in a way that can be studied by science. And if an agent is capable of making changes to the, genome then it is must be capable of making changes in the physical world as the genome exists there.

    In other words, not knowing anything else about the designer does not provide a means to exclude this possibility which means your conclusion is unwarranted. Yet you apparently made it anyway.

    In fact, this course of action would essentially be an act of design, which could be “inferred” using the same inference used by ID. The designer could make a number of “design decisions” that ultimately causes their arrival in orbit around the earth and providing us with actual demonstrations which can be scientificly studied, etc.

    To illustrate this further we can reformulate your conclusion as follows ….

    From these assumptions, the following conclusion follows: If the design hypothesis is correct and at the same time the design hypothesis may not be advanced as a valid scientific hypothesis, [and no undiscovered physical evidence exits or the designer no longer exists or is unable to or unwilling to reveal the that design occurred in a way that can be studied via the scientific method, then the nonexistence / inability / unwillingness of the designer] would forever prohibit science from discovering the truth about the origin of living things, and no matter how long and hard researchers operating within the confines of the scientific method work, they will forever fail to find the truth about the matter.

    Of course, for the sake of argument, let’s add a more assumption that is limited to the subject at hand. The designer can only make choices about the genome and, for some unknown reason, it’s ability to make changes to the physical world is also limited to the genome. Is the conclusion in your OP still valid? No.

    This is because, despite the additional assumption, the designer could still chose to make changes to the genome that are subject to empirical observations of science and clearly reveal the act of design.

    Examples?

    If the designer specifically choses to use an “information bomb” to cause a species to go extinct, it could have “zeroed” out large area of that species genome, then used some obvious encoding method to encode a message that revealed design took place and even acted as a kind of signature. Specifically, it could have completely filled the genome with one sequence to represent zero, then consistently us different yet sequence for n times in a row to represent a one, separated by n of the zero sequence.

    And if the designer(s) that actual did makes changes to the genome in the past still exist(s), it would be logically possible for this deigned to do so again today. If might choose to “sign” every 50th genome studied by any researcher. Or it might choose to encode a means to decide a previously unknown signature clearly encoded in every single cell that exists.

    Again, as I’ve suggested elsewhere, it seems clear that many of the specific conclusions reached by ID proponents are based on presumptions about the designer that are not including the in theory of ID.

    This seems to be just one example.

    Notably, many of these assumptions coincide with assumptions made about the theistic God. Such as, God still exists and could reveal that he intelligently deigned everything, but dose not because it would violate our free will.

    Again, as far as I know this simply isn’t part of the theory that ID presents.

    Note that I’m actually taking ID seriously in regards to it’s claim regarding the existence of a abstract designer. After all, if an intelligent agent really was involved it could have left or may present evidence that clearly revel this fact in a way that could be studied by the scientific method. In fact, the designer may have known a failure to do so would cause this result and it was the designer’s intended outcome. In this case, the true cause for our forever failing to find the truth about the matter would have been due to the designer’s choice, not the “limitations” of the scientific method.

    So, the question remains. Is this specific assumption about what the designer would or would not do part of the theory of ID?

    If so, on what basis does reach this assumption?

  61. Barry,

    Given the above possibilities open to an abstract designer, are ID proponents actively looking for messages encoded in the genome?

    If not, why?

    Could we not interpret a decision by ID proponents to not pursue this sort of research as unwarranted bias since it assumes an abstract designer would not or could not provide information that cannot be studied by the scientific method.

  62. I wrote:

    Please note this would *not* require any changes to science. Nor would is require ID to become subject to the methodical study of science. Your conclusion simply does to follow.

    Note: when I refer to “ID” in this sentence, I’m referring to the current theory of an abstract designer being discussed here. This is in contrast to a theory that posits a specific designer, such as an intelligent alien race.

  63. Onlookers:

    VOM persists in distorting what design theorists study: (i) patterns in the present that allow us to empirically ground inference from sign to signified design, (ii) cases where in origins-linked contexts, we see the similar signs that suggest intelligence as best explanation, (iii) actual dynamics and patterns such as Marks and Dembski’s studies on active information and search, or Behe’s study on the significance of chloroquinone resistance of malaria for proposed Darwinian mechanisms.

    But hen, strawmen are ever so easier to knock over.

    “Don’t feed . . . ”

    GEM of TKI

  64. 64

    kairosfocus

    I think your definition of science is not specific enough. At least in the empirical sciences falsifiability is crucial, meaning that you need to make testable predictions. People claim that ID does not yield such predictions and thus is not science.

    All I am saying is that this bias is inherent in empirical science so if you wanted to change that you wouldn’t have empirical sciences anymore.

  65. StephenB @ 52:

    —Drew Mazanec: “If for the sake of argument, metaphysical naturalism were disproven, would you be willing to rethink whether or not science should hold to methodological naturalism.”
    Were you under the mistaken impression that ID embraces methodological naturalism?

    As he is banned from commenting on UD, Bob O’H has responded here.

  66. SO:

    First, “falsifiability” — especially in the naive forms that are often popularised [including, sadly, in court decisions] has not fared well as a criterion of science in recent decades. As just a sampler, read Lakatos’ 1974 Open University talk here.

    Second, I did not make up a definition, but gave a summary of the historic best practices of science. Insofar as generic definitions are possible, I suggest you look here at what you can see in high quality dictionaries:

    Science The investigation of natural phenomena through observation, theoretical explanation, and experimentation, or the knowledge produced by such investigation. [[American Heritage Science Dictionary, 2005]

    Scientific methods are the principles and processes of discovery and testing scientists use, “generally involving the observation of phenomena, the formulation of a hypothesis concerning the phenomena, experimentation to demonstrate the truth or falseness of the hypothesis, and a conclusion that validates or modifies the hypothesis.” [[American Heritage Dictionary.]

    Third, you will observe that in context above I spoke to inference to abductive best explanation. This rests on the issue that theories are subject to the problem of affirming the consequent and can only be provisionally supported by empirical evidence, subject to future evidence. (I suggest you take time to read Section a here before making further adverse but ill-informed comments.

    Fourth, your claims about predictions and by extension want of falsifiability are simply false to fact.

    One of the strongest points in 38 above is that if you can simply produce dFSCI that credibly comes from chance + necessity only, the principal empirical claim made by design thinkers would immediately collapse. That we see a ducking away into debates on definitions and demarcation of science on materialist a prioris is itself telling on just how strongly confirmed this point is. Similarly, jut to pull out of a hat, one of the most direct contrasts in recent years beteween darwinists and design thinkers on the genome was over so-called junk DNA. The darwinists are increasingly being shown wrong, and the risky design prediction that the rest of DNA would prove useful by and large, is being shown right.

    You need to read he relevant Weak argument Correctives, and you need to acknowledge how the anti-ID talking points you were fed have been misleading at best.

    Finally, as the original post highlights, the central issue is that science should seek the truth based on where the evidence leads — whether or not it makes nice predictions or provides rationales for ever more taxpayer funded research projects.

    That is what is being sacrificed through ideological materialistic censorship on both science practice and science education — and that is why that censorship is ultimately self-defeating, as when John Q Taxpayer realises what has been going on, he is going to be truly ticked off.

    My prediction: the gig’s up, and the evolutionary materialistic hegemony will collapse well within 20 years.

    GEM of TKI

  67. @kairosfocus (#62)

    You wrote:

    VOM persists in distorting what design theorists study:

    Kairosfocus,

    Again, as Barry asked, I’ve assumed that a designer that satisfies the hypothesis in the three points your just listed, is true in reality. Then I assumed this hypothesis is not subject to methodical study of science, as Barry asked.

    I then evaluated the conclusion Barry reached and found it unwarranted based on just these two assumptions. Specifically..

    …then the structure of science prohibits it from discovering the truth about the origin of living things, and no matter how long and hard researchers operating within the confines of the scientific method work, they will forever fail to find the truth about the matter.

    If I’ve presented a straw man here, then you should have no problem pointing it out, rather than just asserting it.

    For example, it might be that the designers are aliens. The reason we do not know they are our designers is because they only make “house calls” once every million years to implement new biological designs. And it might be that their next scheduled visit is next week.

    Should this be the case, Barry’s conclusion that…

    . [scientists] will forever fail to find the truth about the matter.

    … would clearly be wrong, as failure to accept the inference of design as proposed by Marks, Dembsk, Behe, et all, would not prevent us from learning the fact that we had actually been designed. The designer would be right in front of us, for us to study.

    Again, you can only reach this conclusion if you assume this could never happen, which requires making specific assumptions about the designer, such as the designer has not, cannot or would not provide evidence of design that can be studied an a manner that *is* subject to the scientific method. However, as ID proponents constantly remind us, ID is supposedly agnostic about the identify of the designer.

    So, again, I’m asking Barry how he reached this specific conclusion since it appears to necessitate assumptions not mentioned in his OP.

  68. PT:

    I observe Bob O’H starts with this, and heads downhill from there:

    . Now, ID is fundamentally of course an attempt to insert Creationism into science, without mentioning that the designer is the Christian god.

    One of the sub-plots in ID is the attack on materialism as a foundation for science . . . .

    Bear in mind that IDists will tell you that ID postits there is a designer, but says nothing about the nature of that designer. So it doesn’t insist on the designer being none-material . . .

    Textbook Lewontinian ideological evolutionary materialist atheism that insists on erecting a strawman laced with ad hominems, and seeks to redefine science as applied materialism. (Cf. how this case fits like a hand to a glove with the remarks here. The Sci in Soc concerns here are also very relevant.)

    This sad textbook classic example follows all the way down to begrudging G_d a capital letter. (And I here deliberately revert to Hebraic practice on respect to the Divine.)

    In short, the direct evidence is that Bob O’H has not paid even basic attention to easily accessible corrections in even the first several of the UD Weak Argument Correctives, and has to prop up his rhetoric by playing at slander-laced strawman games.

    Shameless. And, ever so sad.

    Through such tactics, B O’H has already lost my respect,and any sympathy I may have had for him.

    Coming out the starting gates.

    He then goes on and on, distorting as he goes.

    For instance the notion that design thinkers resort to methodological naturalism to investigate patterns of causation and induce from them on signs of intelligent cause as opposed to those tracing to chance and/or necessity is yet another strawman.

    B O’H knows or should know that explanatory filter approach looks at the three major possible causes, and it notes that natural regularities is a signature of mechanical necessity, stochastic contingency of chance, and features like dFSCI etc point to design, on empirical evidence. Design theorists then infer from the relevant signs to the corresponding signifieds in cases of the deep past where we were not there to directly observe.

    All, as already long since discussed and publicly accessible — including when B O’H was a fairly regular commenter here.

    Not impressed.

    But, saddened . . .

    GEM of TKI

  69. Onlookers:

    Note that the specific context of my remarks re VOM were on comment 61:

    when I refer to “ID” in this sentence, I’m referring to the current theory of an abstract designer being discussed here. This is in contrast to a theory that posits a specific designer, such as an intelligent alien race.

    1: Design theory studies objects that show signs of design, and patterns of causa4rionthat establish the credibility of those signs.

    2: VOM knows or should know that designers are not a part of ID qua a scientific study.

    3: In examining the original post again, I find two specifications as assumptions for discussion, and a conclusion that insofar as I can follow the logic, does follow from the assumptions:

    1. First, let us assume that the design hypothesis is correct, i.e., that living things appear to be designed for a purpose because they were in fact designed for a purpose.

    2. Second, let us assume that the design hypothesis is not a scientific hypothesis, which means that ID proponents are not engaged in a scientific endeavor, or, as our opponents so often say, “ID is not science.”

    From these assumptions, the following conclusion follows: If the design hypothesis is correct and at the same time the design hypothesis may not be advanced as a valid scientific hypothesis, then the structure of science prohibits it from discovering the truth about the origin of living things, and no matter how long and hard researchers operating within the confines of the scientific method work, they will forever fail to find the truth about the matter.

    4: At no point in this argument is there a discussion of designers as such as main objects of scientific study.

    5: What is on the table is the issue of the scientific value of truth, and by implication the issue that methodological naturalism — the currently imposed “official” demarcation criterion — runs into trouble with truth seeking as a key scientific value and aim.

    6: Indeed, that is just what Mr Arrington goes on to discuss in his next paragraph, where he puts back down the assumptions just taken up for the sake of a reductio ad absurdum.

    7: Therefore, what we are seeing , yet again, is a strawman.

    8: In that context, the proposal on alien fleets is an irrelevancy, as the issue already on the table is that signs point to design, which per argument was ruled out as being scientific. (That per historical investigation or the like we may find evidence of aliens being here at some point in the past that may make their testimony that they engineered say life forms credible to many, is not a matter of the scientific study of signs of intelligence in objects we inspect. It would in fact only help underscore that something is very wrong with science as blinkered by methodological naturalism.)

    9: Strawmen and red herrings, as usual, sadly.

    GEM of TKI

  70. Can you say with absolute certainty that last thursdayism is not true? No, because by its very definition it is impossible to know this. But should we therefore change the way we conceive of the scientific enterprise and re-conceive our search for truth?

  71. —Paul T: “As he is banned from commenting on UD, Bob O’H has responded here.”

    I, for one, am not happy that Bob O’H was banned in an era that was less tolerant that the one in which you now speak freely. Of course, if I knew all the facts, I might change my mind.

    Having said that, Bob does not respond with any substance as he, and you, do not understand the meaning of that which you presume to comment about, which means that neither he nor you have bothered to read the “weak arguments” section of our blog.

    Inasmuch as I have no reason to believe that, at this late date, you or Bob will ever do that, it seeems rudent to provide the information for onlookers so they can discern for themselves the points at issue.

    For the sake of Darwinists, I should probably point out that the first sentence in #17 and @18 constitutes the weak objection and the information that follows is the answer.

    17] “Methodological naturalism is the rule of science.

    Methodological naturalism is simply a quite recently imposed “rule” that (a) defines science as a search for natural causes of observed phenomena AND (b) forbids the researcher to consider any other explanation, regardless of what the evidence may indicate. In keeping with that principle, it begs the question and roundly declares that (c) any research that finds evidence of design in nature is invalid and that (d) any methods employed toward that end are non-scientific. For instance, in a pamphlet published in 2008, the US National Academy of Sciences declared:

    In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. [Science, Evolution and Creationism, p. 10. Emphases added.]

    The resort to loaded language should cue us that there is more than mere objective science going on here!

    A second clue is a basic fact: the very NAS scientists themselves provide instances of a different alternative to forces tracing to chance and/or blind mechanical necessity. For, they are intelligent, creative agents who act into the empirical world in ways that leave empirically detectable and testable traces. Moreover, the claim or assumption that all such intelligences “must” in the end trace to chance and/or necessity acting within a materialistic cosmos is a debatable philosophical view on the remote and unobserved past history of our cosmos. It is not at all an established scientific “fact” on the level of the direct, repeatable observations that have led us to the conclusion that Earth and the other planets orbit the Sun.

    In short, the NAS would have been better advised to study the contrast: natural vs artificial (or, intelligent) causes, than to issue loaded language over natural vs supernatural ones

    Notwithstanding, many Darwinist members of the guild of scholars have instituted or supported the question-begging rule of “methodological naturalism,” ever since the 1980’s. So, if an ID scientist finds and tries to explain functionally specified complex information in a DNA molecule in light of its only known cause: intelligence, supporters of methodological naturalism will throw the evidence out or insist that it be re-interpreted as the product of processes tracing to chance and/or necessity; regardless of how implausible or improbable the explanations may be. Further, if the ID scientist dares to challenge this politically correct rule, he will then be disfranchised from the scientific community and all his work will be discredited and dismissed.

    Obviously, this is grossly unfair censorship.

    Worse, it is massively destructive to the historic and proper role of science as an unfettered (but intellectually and ethically responsible) search for the truth about our world in light of the evidence of observation and experience.

    18] Methodological naturalism is a centuries-old, traditional rule for science.

    In an attempt to rationalize the recently imposed “rule” of methodological naturalism, some Darwinist academics have resorted to rewriting history. As the ‘revised” story goes, Newton and other greats of the founding era of Modern Science subscribed to the arbitrary standard of ruling out design in principle. Thus, one gathers, ID cannot be science because it violates the “traditional” and “well-established” criteria for science.

    However, as anyone familiar with the real history of science knows – e.g. cf. Newton’s General Scholium to his great scientific work, Principia — this proposition is at best a gross and irresponsible error, or even an outright deception. For, most scientists of the founding era were arguing on behalf of the proposition that God, as a super-rational being, does not act frivolously, unpredictably, and without purpose. For such men, and for their time, searching for “natural causes” was a testimony to the belief that the Christian God, unlike anthropomorphized Greek gods, did not throw capricious temper tantrums and toss lightning bolts out of the sky. In other words, the issue was not natural causes vs. design; (they were all design thinkers) it was orderly and intelligible natural processes vs. chaos.

    That directly contradicts Lewontin’s dismissive assertion that “[t]o appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.” Indeed, the theologians and philosophers will remind us that for miracles to stand out as sign-posts of more than the ordinary being at work, they require that nature as a whole works in an orderly, intelligible and predictable way.

    So, for the founders of Modern Science, science (as a delimited field of study within a wider domain, i.e., “natural philosophy” and “natural history”) was primarily about discovering the underlying principles, forces and circumstances that drive observed natural phenomena. But, as Newton so aptly illustrates, it was simply not in their minds to insist dogmatically that only “natural” causes — i.e. blind mechanical necessity and even more blind chance – exist or may be resorted to in accounting for the nature and functions of our world. They made a provisional judgment based on the best information available, but they would never have dared to presume that they knew enough to close off all other options.

    Further, in their estimation, the foundational scientists were “thinking God’s thoughts after him.” Obviously, they could hardly have believed in Methodological Naturalism while, at the same time, believing that God, as Creator, purposely left clues about his handiwork so that his creatures could interpret them as evidence of his existence and plan for the orderly conduct of the world that are also accessible to us to use for our betterment. Even apart from their religious inspiration, they understood that only the individual scientist knows what he is researching and why, so it is s/he who must in the first instance decide which methods are reasonable, responsible, and appropriate for the task

    Indeed, it was their love of truth and the disinterested search for it that made them great. They were always ready to challenge rigid conventions and seek new answers. More importantly, they were wise enough to know that someone new could come along and make their ideas seem old, just as they had made the ideas of their predecessors seem old.

    Now, in our day, a new idea has indeed come along, and it is embodied in the information found in a DNA molecule. It is beyond ridiculous, then, to suggest that men like Francis Bacon, Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, Faraday, Maxwell or Lord Kelvin — all of whom were in part motivated by religion and whose religion gave meaning to their science — would ignore or dismiss such evidence of design because of its possible religious implications.”

    Obviously, then, ID methodology, far from appealing to methodological naturalism, is not even permitted under its arbitrary rule. The next time you ask a question about this, please make it an informed question.

  72. living things appear to be designed for a purpose

    Eh? When did ‘purpose’ creep into ID ? The ‘design inference’ I understand, but a ‘purpose inference’ ?

    Do I have a purpose ? How do I find out ?

  73. I’d also note that a sufficiently advanced alien race would likely have little problems manufacturing evidence that make it appear they were our designers from the perspective of science. They could simply “scan” life forms on earth and post-hoc create fake design documents, recreate existing organisms, etc.

    Even if these aliens provide an overwhelming evidence that they can design organisms in the same class as human beings, which provides in inference of design, their advanced ability would make it difficult to know if they actually interceded to design the specific biological complexity we currently observe here on earth. Even if they design and create human equivalents, it doesn’t mean they simply weren’t so advanced that they can mimic the same process, and we’d be none the wiser.

    In other words Just because they demonstrate they could have done it, this doesn’t mean that, in our case, the actual cause wasn’t natural, or some other designer.

    As such, we’d likely ask questions such as, why did over 95% of all species you designed go extinct? Why does the features that perform essentially the same function exhibit such great variation? Why did you use the same four DNA molecules across all organisms? Why do organism gradually become more complex? And so on.

    Should the aliens fail to explain these things by replying, “Um… that’s just he way we wanted things to turn out.” or refuse to answer at all. we’d become rather suspicions, despite having evidence that allowed us to make a strong inference of design by example.

    However, if these aliens provide good expirations for these observations, we’d be more likely to accept them as the best explanation. For example, they may reveal that, while their technology allows them to design robust lifeforms that alway survive in isolation in the lab, they have yet to discover a way to account for the vast number of environmental factors and interactions with other organisms here on earth. Etc.

    However, even with these “good” explanations, we would tentatively accept the aliens claim as they could have simply provided explanations they though we wanted to hear. This is because, if they were sufficiently advanced, almost any “explanation” could be “credible”, which essentially makes no explanation more credible than another.

    The point i’m making here is that having an inference for a specific class of design does always make for the best explanation as it only represents half the equation. The other half represents an expiation of the specific things that were supposedly deigned.

    To illustrate my point, put yourself in this hypothetical situation.

    Would anyone here accept that alien beings designed human beings merely because they demonstrated they were technical capable of doing do, which would represent a strong inference, but without having provided “good” explanations to these questions? (or even with good explanations)

    Or would you continue to promote a theory that suggests that science simply cannot know who the designer is, but that design occurred none the less?

  74. 74

    Eh? When did ‘purpose’ creep into ID ? The ‘design inference’ I understand, but a ‘purpose inference’ ?

    The term “design” can be synonymous with the term “purpose” depending on the definition one uses. When it is recognized that there is “design in nature” it’s the same as saying “there is purpose” — since a design is someting deliberate, as opposed to “purposeless, blind, unintelligent processes or chance”. Something is done “by design” — or “by plan” or “on purpose”.

    So, anything that is designed, is designed with a purpose. Intelligence acts with a purpose — that’s how we are able to understand symbols, code or language. That’s what is meant by “communication” — an intelligent agent sends information for a purpose.

    Do I have a purpose ? How do I find out ?

    You might wonder why you’re asking those questions. You could conclude that you are ultimately meaningless and without any ultimate value or purpose. But asking why is a philosophical exercise. You explore the limits of your knowledge and seek to go beyond that.

    So, to discover purpose you must necessarily consider matters that transcend empirical science. That’s a start. You have to accept that science is incapable of providing answers to questions about meaning and purpose in the first place.

  75. 75
    CannuckianYankee

    VOM, Pay attention to what Michael Behe said in answer to a similar question. I posted this in the thread regarding Behe’s lecture:

    Tom: “I guess, I would put it this way: In the human world we see designed things all the time. And there’s no problem with the idea of design or creation, because we can see the designer. Now you’re positing a designer. The problem that science has with that is how, we cannot see; we have no evidence of a designer, so how does he get; or she get designs into the three dimensional world that we do see without being able to see the designer, without having other physical evidence in the same world we have other physical evidence of the designer in the human world?”

    Behe: “Well that’s an, a good question, and I should say; a conclusion of design or an idea of design or theory of design does not mean that all good questions we would like to have the answers for, either are answered or wont be difficult to answer, or maybe very difficult to answer. Um, I would say that, I would bring up examples where scientists would accept conclusions of design without physical evidence of the designer and ah, the standard example is the SETI program, search for extra-terrestrial intelligence; where scientists look for maybe radio signals, which might encode a message, which might be something you would not expect from unintelligent nature, and are actually eager to infer intelligent sources for those, even if you know in some view, they were sent off a billion years ago by a planet who’s sun has since engulfed the planet, for which there would be no physical evidence. Going beyond that, it’s true that in the history of science people have accepted ideas for which there was no physical evidence, and at least for a time, not had the glimmer of hope that there would be. One example is the Big Bang Theory, ah, where the only evidence for a long time for the Big Bang was the red shift of galaxies, which seemed to point to an expanding universe, which if you mentally reversed it, ah, indicated a universe which was much more dense and compact, and after you extrapolated that, the universe seemed to have a beginning. And, a number of scientists thought that this was a good explanation to the data, even though nobody had ever seen a universe exploding into existence before, nobody knew what could cause such a thing, a lot of people thought it had strong theistic overtones, maybe God did this, maybe the Big Bang needed a Big Banger, and so on. So I admit it would be interesting to know exactly how the design was placed into nature, whether it was all in the beginning and unfolded, whether design was added over time, or a million other possibilities. But I think currently the evidence we have is insufficient to answer that question. But I think the evidence may have, like the red shifts and more for the Big Bang is sufficient to make the basic conclusion that there is design in the world, even if we can’t answer a number of other questions.”

    So the question of if the designers are alien or some other form of entity other than a god is really irrelevant at this point. Do you ask if aliens started the Big Bang, and how they did it before you determine if the Big Bang might be the best current explanation for the origin of the universe?

    So we can come up with all sorts of conjecture regarding what could have been the designer, and how some either manufactured evidence of their own design and what not, but such conjecture in no way deals with the evidence at hand. So I have to ask; why raise it if it can’t at present be answered?

  76. @kairosfocus (#69)

    You wrote:

    2: VOM knows or should know that designers are not a part of ID qua a scientific study.

    But how does this prevent the scenario I described from taking place in reality? It doesn’t unless you assume more about the designer that the theory of ID suggests.

    4: At no point in this argument is there a discussion of designers as such as main objects of scientific study.

    Which is why I’m asking the question. Clearly, it wasn’t because Barry explicitly asked us to make the assumption that the designer could not be studied scientifically. So why was it absent from the discussion? There must be some missing or hidden assumption here which is not obvious.

    In the absence of such an assumption, there is no reason to assume that, if some designer really did exist, this designer could not be studied or discovered by the methodical study of science. I’ve given an concrete scenario that illustrates this.

    As such…

    then the structure of science prohibits it from discovering the truth about the origin of living things, and no matter how long and hard researchers operating within the confines of the scientific method work, they will forever fail to find the truth about the matter.

    It’s an unwarranted assumption about the designer as it appears to be based on presuppositions about the designer that are not evident.

    Could it be based on the assumption that the designer could not be a material being? Does the theory that ID purports to be science actually make this claim?

    5: What is on the table is the issue of the scientific value of truth, and by implication the issue that methodological naturalism — the currently imposed “official” demarcation criterion — runs into trouble with truth seeking as a key scientific value and aim.

    […]

    … that they engineered say life forms credible to many, is not a matter of the scientific study of signs of intelligence in objects we inspect…

    But you referring to the “truth” about how to detect things that are designed, not the “Truth” regarding if things were really designed. These are two separate things, as I’ve illustrated in my example. One need not accept ID as presented to end up with the right answer in Barry’s hypothetical scenario.

    Imagine I perform an detailed study of natural objects that do not exhibit IC or dFSCI. Then imagine I “design” a new object using these observations so it too does not exhibit IC or dFSCI. Clearly, this object would fail the design detection test, Right? However, would this necessarily prevent you from knowing that this object was designed? Of course not.

    For example, you could have watched me design and construct the object right in front of you. Or, at some point in the future, I could create twenty exact copies of the same object. Any of these objects would fail the design test on their own, yet I’m guessing you would conclude they were designed when evaluated as a group. In either case, you would have reached the “truth” about their origin despite the fact that the first object did not exhibit IC or dFSCI.

    Furthermore, if knowing that ID’s method of detecting design was “true” was actually the goal of Barry’s hypothetical, scenario would have been…

    01. Assume ID’s design detection method accurate.

    02. Assume that ID detection method is “not science” and therefore rejected by the scientific community.

    Conclusion: Science would reject ID’s detection method, despite it being true.

    However, this seems to be a tautology. This is because the argument asks us to assume that both ID’s detection method is true and that science would reject it. So, of course we assume that science would reject ID’s detection method.

    However, we do not know if ID’s method is correct, which is precisely the subject in question. As such, I could easily put the shoe on the other foot using the same technique.

    01. Assume, in reality, ID’s detection method falsely identifies biological life as being designed.

    02. Assume ID accepts that it’s detection theory is correct.

    Conclusion: ID would accept it’s detection method as being correct despite being wrong.

    Ta-da! Suddenly, I too can make accusations such as …

    What is on the table is the issue of the scientific value of truth, and by implication the issue that [ID's design criteria — the currently criteria ID proponents are using to attempt to force their personal beliefs in the class room and academia] — runs into trouble with truth seeking as a key scientific value and aim.

  77. To Proponentist: The usual phrase is just ‘designed’, that is, something that has arisen from a process other than chance etc. But this time its ‘designed for a purpose’.

    I think we all know what is meant by ‘purpose’, I would just like someone here to come out and say it.

  78. 78

    veilsofmaya continues to erect strawmen and refues to address ID as it is instead of as he distorts it. It is useless to argue with a person who refuses to see reason.

  79. 79
    CannuckianYankee

    Graham,

    Design with a purpose would be design with design in mind; intentional, as opposed to directed by chance processes. I think we all know what this means.

  80. 80

    I appreciate your detailed reply, but I would like to stay focused on the original post. What I was trying to say is that I agree with the conclusion that you should be critical about the way you conceive of the scientific enterprise (“the way we conceive of the scientific enterprise should be changed”), but that there are to logical flaws on the way to this conclusion that I disagree with.

    The first is that from the fact that there are no absolute certainties does not follow that ID is scientific.

    The second is that the fault lies not with science. Empirical science is necessarily biased towards things that are empirically testable. That is the whole point of the enterpise. The reason for this is (and that’s why your definition of science leaves out something pretty important) that as was already pointed out by Bacon inferences are notoriously unreliable and thus must be empirically tested.

  81. 81

    Sorry, my previous previous post was a reply to kairosfocus (66).

  82. 82
    CannuckianYankee

    second opinion,

    ID and ToE fit in a category of historical sciences. Neither of them can be empirically tested as you presume. We weren’t there those billions of years ago to observe design or chance and necessity in action. We are forced to infer whatever we can observe from the remnants of those historical times, combined with what we can presently observe. These inferences cannot be tested in the empirical sense.

    What is happening here, is that some junior Darwinists have a limited understanding of various scientific methods, and so they apply empirical standards, which are common among other fields of science, such as physics and chemistry to ID in order to claim that it isn’t science; while at the same time, they fail to apply such definitional standards to ToE itself.

    If ID must meet those standards, then ToE must also meet those standards, and it doesn’t.

    ID doesn’t expect ToE to meet those standards; what ID expects is that the same standards, which render ToE science, be applied fairly to ID.

  83. Onlookers:

    As Mr Arrington has underscored, VOM — sadly –seems to be here only to push an agenda of talking points that are based on distractive red herrings and caricaturing strawmen.

    Even when he has had to cite a correction that he is failing to address and is distorting the actual subject matter of design theory, he immediately returns to his distortions. That is sad.

    Let us therefore refresh our memory from 38 above:

    _____________

    >> 7 –> You know or should know (and the Weak Argument correctives you seem to have neglected are there to help) that the real issue is that the cell exhibits digitally coded, functionally specific, complex algorithmic [and coded -- i.e. linguistic]information, or dFSCI as GPuccio abbreviates.

    8 –> Now, dFSCI is a very familiar phenomenon in an information age, indeed it is the key element that makes the PC you are using to read this and make comments here work.

    9 –> It is also a well known fact that such dFSCI, in every case where we directly observe the origin, is produced by intelligence . . . .

    12 –> Now, one of the challenges on origin of life is that whenever and wherever it happened, it happened in a deep past we cannot observe, nor do we have generally accepted records. That is the source of the sting in Job when YHWH speaks out of the storm in ch 38:

    1 . . . the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
    2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
    with words without knowledge?
    3 Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand . . .

    13 –> Plainly, this is a very good and deep challenge to the project of origins science.

    14 –> The best answer we can give is that once (i) we can establish an empirically reliable pattern in the present, (ii) we can observe traces of he past in the present, and (iii) we can see a credible set of initial circumstances that through those patterns would give rise to sufficiently similar traces, (iv) we may scientifically infer on best explanation, that the suggested circumstances and dynamics are a credible — albeit inevitably provisional — origins narrative.

    15 –> Of course, one thing that we have no right to do, is to claim that such an inferential reconstruction is a fact beyond reasonable dispute or doubt. (Sadly, it is necessary to note this, as there is a tendency to over-claim the factual basis for evolutionary theories of origins.)

    16 –> Coming back from epistemological underpinnings (and yes, science inescapably rests on philosophical foundations), we can note that there is a clear, empirically reliable pattern concerning dFSCI: it is a sign that — per a massive base of observations and without a credible counterexample that can stand basic scrutiny — reliably points to directed contingency as its origin.

    17 –> That is, dFSCI, on empirical warrant, points to design its relevant causal factor. (Indeed, on the search space challenges, the other main source of contingency, chance, is not a credible source for dFSCI.)

    18 –> So, we have good reason to see that the dFSCI in the cell is the product of intelligence, and not the credible product of chance circumstances, molecular noise and undirected chemical processes in Darwin’s hypothetical pond or a modern equivalent.

    19 –> To overturn that, all that would be required is to empirically demonstrate that dFSCI can, with reasonable likelihood, be produced by undirected chance and mechanical necessity in a reasonable natural circumstance. Or even, just in a credible computer or experimental setup. [Genetic Algorithms, to name a favourite rabbit trail, are in fact designed, and build in a lot of intelligently sourced active information that allows them to outperform blind chance plus necessity.] >>
    ______________

    a –> Does VOM provide us a credible observation in the present where an object, system or process exhibiting dFSCI is the product of undirected chance and/or mechanical necessity? Plainly, no — he is constructing imaginary hypotheticals.

    b –> So, are we in a position where the inference from dFSCI in particular as a credible sign of design [purposefully directed contingency], has been overthrown? No.

    c –> Do we otherwise have good reason to believe that undirected chance circumstances and blind mechanical forces on the gamut of our observed cosmos have a credible capacity to generate digitally coded, symbolically functional and specific, complex information requiting at least 500 – 1,000 bits of storage capacity? No.

    d –> We therefore have a strong inductive inference from dFSCI as a sign to its signified causal factor: directed contingency, aka design.

    e –> Turning for a moment to VOM’s latest comment, no 76 above, did Mr Arrington ever “explicitly [ask] us to make the assumption that the designer could not be studied scientifically,” or did he ever imply this? Not at all, as already cited from the original post:

    1. First, let us assume that the design hypothesis is correct, i.e., that living things [which of course inter alia exhibit dFSCI] appear to be designed for a purpose because they were in fact designed for a purpose.

    2. Second, let us assume that the design hypothesis is not a scientific hypothesis, which means that ID proponents are not engaged in a scientific endeavor, or, as our opponents so often say, “ID is not science.” [per imposition of so-called methodological naturalism]

    From these assumptions, the following conclusion follows: If the design hypothesis is correct and at the same time the design hypothesis may not be advanced as a valid scientific hypothesis, then the structure of science prohibits it from discovering the truth about the origin of living things, and no matter how long and hard researchers operating within the confines of the scientific method work, they will forever fail to find the truth about the matter. [i.e. MN leads to a censorship on science's capacity to search out the truth about origins, i.e it is ideological not scientific in its nature and intent]

    [ . . . ]

  84. To: kairosfocus at #83: You quote from the Bible, and then get upset when ID is associated with religion. Can you see the disservice you are doing ?

  85. f –> Instead, Mr Arrington plainly put his focus on what is in front of us: objects, systems and processed that are full of dFSCI, and then asks us to assume that for argument this and other relevant empirical signs of intelligence speak truly but [filling in a few details] are blocked from being deemed scientific by the a prioris of the controlling magisterium. Mr Arrington then highlights that his suggests something is wrong with those a prioris; for, science should not ever be in the business of building in roadblocks that prevent it from ever discovering the truth about a phenomenon in the empirical world.

    g –> What does VOM do? He promptly distracts his attention from this, and projects unto Mr Arrington the notion of design theory assuming that designers cannot be studied scientifically. This is of course a strawmannish notion that simply forms no part of design theory — we ourselves are designers, and we and our actions are routinely studied scientifically in many highly important fields of scientific study.

    h –> What instead is a focal point for design thought is that observed, empirically reliable signs of design as causal process point — on inference to best explanation — to the well-warranted conclusion that design is the relevant cause. And, the only “hidden” assumption that this chain of reasoning requires is that a designer at the relevant place and time is not ruled out a priori. (In short, if design is a possible cause, inference to design on empirically reliable sign should not be censored out on a priori imposition of Lewontinian materialism.)

    i –> VOM then loads his strawman with a subtle but poisonous ad hominem. He willfully refuses to accept that, ever since TMLO by Thaxton et al in 1984, modern design theory has consistently explicitly pointed out that the inference to design of life on earth [where we are observing the life to be explained] does not by itself entail any conclusions about whether the relevant designer(s) carrying out the design are within or beyond the observed physical cosmos. [The side of design theory, oddly, that does point to a designer beyond the observed cosmos, cosmological inference to design on finetuning, somehow is almost never a subject that ardent objectors to design theory are willing to discuss; yet it points to a powerful extracosmic designer or design group capable of building a matter-energy, space-time cosmos. Even more oddly, since the design in question is one that sets up a cosmos in which C-chemistry cell based life is facilitated, this wing of design theory does have something to suggest on candidate designers of life, whether or no the direct designer of life on earth is this particular designer or design group.]

    j –> VOM then plays the switcheroo from: (i) the explanatory filter is not intended to detect any and all cases of design, to (ii) the suggestion that the EF fails in its intended job: providing a structured process that allows us to credibly infer from particular relevant signs of design to the warranted conclusion that the cause of the relevant objects, systems or processes is design. (Not because he has found an observed case where the EF rules “design” incorrectly, but because he plainly fears that the EF is in fact quite reliable and worthy of trust when it rules “designed.” To achieve high reliability on a positive ruling, the EF cheerfully accepts an incidence of failures to detect design. That tradeoff is well known in practical hypothesis testing.)

    k –> As a further strawmannish switcheroo, VOM suggests that the object of Mr Arrignton;s argument is “knowing that ID’s method of detecting design was “true”.” In fact, the point of the again excerpted argument was to point out that there is a problem with how some wish to define science today if something that [at least potentially] accurately infers on empirical evidence and inductive reasoning from observations is ruled out of court by a priori definition; a definition that then locks out the possibility of discovering the relevant truth. In short, a question is being begged, and for ideological reasons — as Lewontin explicitly confessed:

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

    l –> His strawman-driven, tautology rebuttal then collapses. For, the issue on failure to accept truth is not on the truthfulness of detection of design, but the creation of an a priori assumption driven roadblock to learning the truth of the actual origin of living forms, if they actually are designed and exhibit empirically reliable signs of such design.

    m –> His second argument on assuming that the inference form empirically tested and hitherto reliable sign of edesign to postulated future empirical failure is then a selectively hyperskeptical objection. FYI VOM, ALL significant scientific theories, inferences and knowledge claims are subject to correction in light of future evidence. And, ever since Newton’s Opticks, Query 31, we have been counselled:

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses [abstract speculations] are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur.

    n –> And, it has always been the clear commitment of design theorists [similar to say thermodynamicists], that should actual empirical evidence show that certain proposed signs of intelligence are not reliable, they would be conceded. In the case of digitally coded, functionally specific complex information, if that should turn out to with reasonable likelihood, originate from credibly undirected chance and blind mechanical forces,then the inference from dFSCI to design of life would collapse, and with it biological design theory. Just as empirically credible violations of the second law of thermodynamics through creation of say a relevant perpetual motion machine would cause a considerable body of physics to collapse.

    o –> So, the triumphalistic conclusion VOM makes at the end of 76, sadly, only suffices to demonstrate the underlying problems with his reasoning, especially selective hyper-skepticism and associated ideologised, closed-minded circularity.

    ____________

    GEM of TKI

  86. Barry #78
    veilsofmaya continues to erect strawmen and refues to address ID as it is instead of as he distorts it. It is useless to argue with a person who refuses to see reason

    veilsofmaya raises a sound argument which directly addresses the main point in your post. If you read your post again Barry you will see it says nothing about the nature of ID and nor does veilofmaya’s response. So it is a digression (a red herring even!) to criticise him for refusing to address “ID as it is”. Your argument in essence was:

    If life was designed and if ID is not science, then science could never discover that life was designed.

    veilsofmaya point is very simple. There are ways of finding out that life is designed other than through ID, and these other ways are non-controversally scientific. Therefore science could discover life was designed without accepting ID as science.

    This argument applies whether you accept that intelligent design is a valid way of getting at the truth or not.

  87. Thanks for your information Bornagain77. I shall look at this material.

    All,

    something I cannot understand as a newcomer to this debate is what the ID position is on the infinite regress issue.

    The two ways out of this issue that I can see are :-

    - there is a designer who arose without being himself/herself designed
    - there is a designer who is uncreated and eternal, and who therefore needs no explanation.

    Does ID take a position on this?

    I think taking the second position is not compatible with science – deeming something as ‘not needing explanation’ is not something that is part of the scientific worldview.

  88. Peepul, though this is a topic that could exhaust many volumes, briefly,

    In relation to the ‘uncaused cause’ which is necessary for this temporal universe, for mathematics itself to be held as consistently true, one is forced a-priori to assume God to be true. Thus the assumption of a ‘uncaused cause’ is in fact the very foundation of the ‘scientific worldview’ itself as you put it:

    This following formal mathematical proof shows that math cannot be held to be consistently true unless the highest infinity of God is held to be consistently true as a starting assumption:

    Gödel’s Incompleteness: The #1 Mathematical Breakthrough of the 20th Century
    Excerpt: Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem says:
    “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle – something you have to assume to be true but cannot prove “mathematically” to be true.”
    http://www.cosmicfingerprints......pleteness/

    This following site is a easy to use, and understand, interactive website that takes the user through what is termed ‘Presuppositional apologetics’. The website clearly shows that our use of the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality cannot be accounted for unless we believe in a God who guarantees our perceptions and reasoning are trustworthy in the first place.

    Proof That God Exists – easy to use interactive website
    http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/index.php

    Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.
    Galileo Galilei

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.

    further notes:

    Yet even more can be gleaned, ‘scientifically’ for the uncaused cause:

    Reflections on the ‘infinite transcendent information’ framework:

    The weight of mass becomes infinite at the speed of light, thus mass will never go the speed of light. As well, mass would disappear from our sight if it could go the speed of light, because, from our non-speed of light perspective, distance in direction of travel will shrink to zero for the mass going the speed of light, whereas conversely, if mass could travel at the speed of light its size will stay the same while all other frames of reference not traveling the speed of light will disappear from its sight.

    Special Relativity – Time Dilation and Length Contraction – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSRIyDfo_mY

    For us to hypothetically travel at the speed of light, in this universe, only gets us to first base as far as quantum entanglement, or teleportation, are concerned. That is to say, traveling at the speed of light only gets us to the place where time, as we understand it, comes to complete stop for light, i.e. gets us to the eternal, ‘past and future folding into now’, framework of time. This higher dimension ‘eternal’ inference for the time framework of light is warranted because light is not ‘frozen within time’ yet it is shown that time, as we understand it, does not pass for light.

    “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.”
    Albert Einstein
    http://www.rd.com/your-america.....176-2.html

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.” – Richard Swenson

    Light and Quantum Entanglement Reflect Some Characteristics Of God – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4102182

    Also, hypothetically traveling at the speed of light in this universe would be instantaneous travel for the person going at the speed of light. This is because time does not pass for them, but, and this is a big but; this ‘timeless’ travel is still not instantaneous and transcendent to our temporal framework of time, i.e. Speed of light travel, to our temporal frame of reference, is still not completely transcendent of our framework since light appears to take time to travel from our perspective. In information teleportation though the ‘time not passing’, eternal, framework is not only achieved in the speed of light framework/dimension, but also in our temporal framework. That is to say, the instantaneous teleportation/travel of information is instantaneous to both the temporal and speed of light frameworks, not just the speed of light framework. Information teleportation/travel is not limited by time, nor space, in any way, shape or form, in any frame of reference, as light is seemingly limited to us. Thus ‘pure transcendent information’ is shown to be timeless (eternal) and completely transcendent of all material frameworks. Moreover, concluding from all lines of evidence we have now examined; transcendent, eternal, infinite information is indeed real and the framework in which ‘It’ resides is the primary reality (highest dimension) that can exist, (in so far as our limited perception of a primary reality, highest dimension, can be discerned).

    “An illusion can never go faster than the speed limit of reality”
    Akiane – Child Prodigy – Artwork Music video – http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4204586

    Logic also dictates ‘a decision’ must have been made, by the ‘transcendent, eternal, infinite information’ from the primary timeless (eternal) reality ‘It’ inhabits, in order to purposely create a temporal reality with highly specified, irreducible complex, parameters from a infinite set of possibilities in the proper sequential order. Thus this infinite transcendent information, which is the primary reality of our reality, is shown to be alive by yet another line of evidence besides the findings of quantum mechanics.

    The First Cause Must Be A Personal Being – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4813914

    As a side light to this, leading quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger has followed in John Archibald Wheeler’s footsteps (1911-2008) by insisting reality, at its most foundational level, is ‘information’.

    “It from bit symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom – at a very deep bottom, in most instances – an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that things physical are information-theoretic in origin.” John Archibald Wheeler

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.” Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum teleportation:
    http://www.metanexus.net/Magaz.....fault.aspx

    The restriction imposed by our physical limitations of us ever accessing complete infinite information to our temporal space-time framework/dimension (Wheeler; Zeilinger) does not detract, in any way, from the primacy and dominion of the infinite transcendent information framework that is now established by the quantum teleportation experiment as the primary reality of our reality. Of note: All of this evidence meshes extremely well with the theistic postulation of God possessing infinite and perfect knowledge. This seems like a fitting place for this following quote and verse:

    “To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour.”
    William Blake

    Psalm 19:1-2
    The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

  89. —”veilsofmaya point is very simple.”

    veilsofmaya’s alleged point is totally nonsensical and so is your attempt to justify it. The only way to perform a design inference is to perform a design inference.

    —veilsofmaya: “For example, it’s possible a fleet of alien ships could arrive tomorrow and claim their species has been manipulating life on our planet for billions of years. Thet could produce vast amounts of evidence and even perform demonstrations that support their claim.”

    Science is based on an observation of facts in evidence, not on any scienario that might come out of your head. If such an event did occur, then ID science, which follows the evidence wherever it leads, would graciously step out of the way. Unlike Darwinism, it would not continue to hang around even after the evidence has destroyed its paradigm. If an ID scientist discovers that new evidence does not conform to his theory, he will abandon his theory. If a Darwinist discovers that new evidence does not conform to his theory, he says, “fit, damn you, fit.”

  90. —peepul: “something I cannot understand as a newcomer to this debate is what the ID position is on the infinite regress issue.”

    Infinite regress is a logical/philosophical argument and, as you seem to understand, a rational way of understanding causation. Indeed, philosophy can prove the existence of an uncaused cause with no help at all from science, a point that is certainly compatible with the ID paradigm but in no way synonymous with it.

    Science as science does not concern itself with that philosophical problem. It is more concerned with drawing probabalistic arguments from facts in evidence. Thus, the best ID science can do is draw inferences from the effects of design and posit a designer as the best explanation.

    Thus, one can say that philosophy, properly applied, can prove the existence of an uncaused cause [usually interpreted as God] beyond a reasonable doubt while science can confirm that point from another vantage point with evidence for a designer.

  91. Just wanted to let Upright BiPed know:

    I have read most of two of the references you provided and the reason I’m not on here talking about them is because it’s turned out to be a busy family week for me. But I shall be back on when I’ve read them. The Abel paper is particularly interesting, not only because it’s pretty current but also because although it sort of kind of supports the ID paradigm in it’s call for research it’s general attitude seems to be against the ID paradigm. But I could be wrong.

    Hope y’all are having a good summer break. I’ve got a mother-in-law birthday to deal with!! I’ll be back. But not for a few days I suspect.

    All the best.

  92. If ID must meet those standards, then ToE must also meet those standards, and it doesn’t.

    ID doesn’t expect ToE to meet those standards; what ID expects is that the same standards, which render ToE science, be applied fairly to ID.

    This is simply rubbish. We kill people based on forensic science. We imprison people for life based on forensic science.

    I find it odd that some of the same people who are happy when the legal system finds someone guilty based on forensic science are unwilling to accept the findings of 200 years of research.

    Tough jury.

    But not wanting to accept the jury’s verdict is not evidence against it.

  93. Indeed, philosophy can prove the existence of an uncaused cause with no help at all from science…

    And in doing so, proves that causation isn’t necessary.

    It’s one of those cases where a single exception disproves the case.

  94. 94

    Petrushka, in 92. You are a typical Darwinist. You make an assertion with an air of supreme confidence. Yet you support your assertion with absolutely nothing.

    Assertions are not arguments, far less evidence.

  95. [Indeed, philosophy can prove the existence of an uncaused cause with no help at all from science].

    —Petrushka: “And in doing so, proves that causation isn’t necessary.”

    How exactly did you arrive at the conclusion that the philosohical case for an uncaused cause proves that causation is not necessary?

  96. 96

    StephenB, as I mentioned in [94] Petrushka, like many of the Darwinists who visit this site, in the unsupported assertion business. Don’t bother him with facts and logic.

  97. 97
    CannuckianYankee

    Petrushka,

    “This is simply rubbish. We kill people based on forensic science. We imprison people for life based on forensic science.”

    What does forensic science have to do with scientific definitional standards being applied fairly not only to ToE, but also to ID?

    You’re beginning to sound like Don Quixote – tilting at windmills.

  98. What does forensic science have to do with scientific definitional standards being applied fairly not only to ToE, but also to ID?

    Forensics may not be the best word. What I’m looking for is a generic word for the scientific investigation of the past.

    If ID aspires to say something about how living things got that way, it needs to discuss their history.

    Otherwise evolution is the only design theory on the table.

  99. Onlookers:

    One of the points that is a sadly revealing illustration of a lot of what is going on in this thread and generally, is a denigratory remark made by EZ — who I suspect has been taken in by a malicious bit of gotcha journalism word twisting that has been turned into a darwinist rhetorical commonplace “fact” — all the way up in comment no 2:

    Remember too Michael Behe’s Dover testimony when he admitted that his definition of science would include astrology. Be very careful.

    This remark happens to be next to the RH column where fresh comments are, and it has stuck cross-ways in my craw.

    So, now, what is really going on here?

    1 –> Five years back, at Dover, Behe was being grilled on the “proper” definition of theory in science, and (as this ENV report at the time on the incident shows) in 2001 he had pointed out that the term is used rather loosely by practising scientists in the literature:

    I will just say that I think any explanation which rests wholly on empirical evidence and basic logic deserves the appellation ‘scientific’.8″
    _________________

    [Footnote] “8 On the other hand, if an explanation depends critically on specific tenets of a particular faith, such as the Trinity or Incarnation, or on sacred texts, then that of course is not a scientific explanation.”

    2 –> This was in contrast to the “official” definition proffered by the US NAS:

    “In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, and tested hypotheses. The contention that evolution should be taught as “theory, not as fact” confuses the common use of these words through the accumulation of evidence. Rather, theories are the end points of science. They are understandings that develop from extensive observation, experimentation, and creative reflection. They incorporate a large body of scientific facts, laws, tested hypotheses, and logical inferences.”

    (Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, 2nd Ed. (1999), pg. 2)

    3 –> The NAS definition sounds suitably awesome, but in fact, scientists routinely use “theory: in ways that are far looser than this (even in journals), as the ENV article summarises:

    This definition does not actually represent how scientists usually use the word in their technical writing. To witness this fact, perform a PubMed search for the phrase “new theory” (go to pub med and type ” “new theory” ” [leave in the double quotes]) and you’ll find hundreds of hits showing scientists using the word “theory” to describe a “new” idea which can explain a lot of things, but may not yet be “well-substantiated” and may not yet enjoy evidentiary support from many scientific studies.

    Many scientists who have used the phrase “new theory” use the term based upon the new findings of a single study. The phrase “new theory” is antithetical to the idea of “extensive observation, experimentation, and creative reflection” and the phrase should not exist in scientific literature if the NAS is correct in its definition.

    4 –> So, there is no one definitive and universal definition of “theory,” no more than for “science,” or scientific method(s)” etc etc. (BTW, this cuts across a LOT of question-begging definition games often used by Darwinist rhetors in the context of ID.)

    5 –> What about the alleged admission that astrology is science?

    6 –> The problem here is that the status of astrology vis a vis science [and there is actually a question of anachronism there if say one is projecting back 400 - 500 years ago. . . ] depends crucially on the time in question. (E.g. did you know that Kepler was an astrologer? And of course, Newton was an alchemist. At that time, such endeavours were legitimate intellectual efforts, though they were beginning to fade from the scene. Not because they were “occultic” or “esoteric” or “supernatural” or “superstitious” etc, but because they were found wanting in success relative to the agenda of describing, explaining, pr4edicting and controlling the patterns of objects and phenomena.]

    7 –> ENV then tells us a key part of the story that you would not glean from the quote-mining exercise above:

    Plaintiffs’ attorney tried to twist Behe’s statements into making it appear that Behe believed that astrology was a scientific theory. Behe did say that 500 years or so ago, when people knew much much less about the world and were trying to explain things, they had an idea that things on earth might have been influenced by things on stars. This was a historical fact. But Behe made it clear that today, astrology is known to be incorrect. This is just like phlogiston theory of burning–people once thought it was true, and once thought it was an empirically-based scientific theory, but today it would not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

    The problem with astrology is not that it could have fit the NAS or Behe’s definition of science 500 years ago. The problem is that it is not supported by the evidence. [Which BTW is why in one of my very first scientific publications ever, in the Barbados Astronomical Society journal, I ripped into astrology; which is also why I blew my stack when someone tried to put the "astrology is science" talking point into my mouth . . . ] That is why, unlike ID, no serious scientists are advocating astrology as a good theory which could be presented to students in science classrooms. Nor do serious academics reference the peer-reviewed scientific literature in support of astrology, as serious scientists do for ID.

    7 –> That is why as we open the UD weak Argument Correctives, we are forced to say:

    We have noticed that some . . . false objections and attributions, largely products of an aggressive Darwinist agenda, have found their way into institutions of higher learning, the press, the United States court system, and even the European Union policy directives. Routinely, they find expression in carefully-crafted talking points, complete with derogatory labels and personal caricatures, all of which appear to have been part of a disinformation campaign calculated to mislead the public.

    Many who interact with us on this blog recycle this misinformation. Predictably, they tend to raise notoriously weak objections that have been answered thousands of times. What follows is a list of those objections and our best attempt to answer them in abbreviated form. If you have been sent here, you are now being asked to familiarize yourself with basic ID knowledge so that you can acquire the minimal amount of information necessary to conduct meaningful dialogue.

    9 –> It is high time that this darwinist rhetorical trifecta fallacy pattern of (1) distractive red herrings led out to (2) caricatured strawmen soaked in (3) denigratory or even demonising ad hominems and ignited to cloud, confuse, choke, poison and polarise the atmosphere stops.

    ___________

    GEM of TKI

  100. PS: I believe Petrushka would benefit from looking not only at the Weak Argument Correctives and interacting with them on the merits (instead of the strawmen and red herrings), but also at the remarks here on the context and limitations of scientific investigations on origins, and the related challenge posed by design theory as a growing paradigm.

    PPS: EZ, please remember, Abel is in part speaking tongue firmly in satirical cheek (and yes, that happens in journals too); as can be seen by reading between the lines across the stream of ID supportive work that he has been a part of in recent years.

  101. PPPS: CY, forensic science is an exercise in plausibly reconstructing based on causal patterns and traces observable and perhaps manipulable in the present, the unobserved or unobservable past that cannot be directly recreated; using inference to best explanation — and yes, that is what Sherlock Holmes was actually doing, as do his real-world “successors” . . . a significant fraction of practising scientists of various stripes. As such the epistemology of science issues it raises — including the degree of warrant it may or may not be able to achieve in a given situation — are quite relevant to the study of origins science.

  102. forensic science is an exercise in plausibly reconstructing based on causal patterns and traces observable and perhaps manipulable in the present, the unobserved or unobservable past that cannot be directly recreated; using inference to best explanation

    The standard for the last 200 years is that the past can be explained by extrapolating phenomena and processes operating in the present.

    ID seems to request an exemption.

  103. P4S: FTK’s discussion and transcript excerpts here are also interesting.

  104. Onlookers:

    Petrushka of course selectively hyperskeptically refuses to accept that directed contingency is a commonly observed causal pattern in the present, or that it leaves empirically reliable signs, such as digitally coded, functionally specific complex information.

    Such as . . . the text of Petrushka’s posts in this thread.

    Observe how, to date, none of he many objections above can provide us a case where dFSCI is observed to be produced by undirected chance and/or mechanical necessity. The whole internet, the software industry and great libraries, among other examples, stand in witness of how dFSCI is routinely and even reliably the product of ART, i.e. intelligence. (And note the difference between the ART-ificial and the “supernatural,” a distinction marked ever since Plato’s The Laws Bk X 360 BC.)

    Plainly, the accusation that ID requests an “exemption” from inferring from patterns of the present to cases in the past, is — since P has been repeatedly corrected above but has refused to face plain facts — sadly, willfully and foolishly false.

    GEM of TKI

  105. dFSCI

    Is that a recognized technical term, or something you made up?

    Any citations in science journals?

  106. Petrushka, you have attempted to answer several other writers, but you have not yet explained your comment to me.

    I wrote, “Indeed, philosophy can prove the existence of an uncaused cause with no help at all from science.”

    You responded with this claim:

    “And in doing so, proves that causation isn’t necessary.”

    Inasmuch as the logical process which takes the philosopher to a causeless cause is dependant on the argument that there cannot be an infinite sequence of causes, how exactly did you arrive at the conclusion that the philosophical case for an uncaused cause proves that causation is not necessary?

  107. Onlookers:

    Distractive: the attempted objection to the descriptive term, dFSCI, is a red herring, with a fallacious appeal to authority lurking in the background.

    Sad.

    In fact, a little common sense would soon enough suffice to show that the term dFSCI — first used by GPuccio here at UD, to particularly focus on DNA etc — is simply and literally descriptive of a common occurrence: discrete state information that is dependent on particular configurations to function, as opposed to: any and any at-random configuration will be good enough.

    As for its “scientific” status per the literature, I draw attention first to the Weak Argument Correctives P refuses to attend to, no 28 on how TMLO described what has been abbreviated as FSCI, from Wicken, Yockey and Orgel et al.

    So, we find in Orgel, 1973 as follows:

    In brief, living organisms [NB: observe the functional context] are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity. [Source: L.E. Orgel, 1973. The Origins of Life. New York: John Wiley, p. 189.]

    Similarly, in 1979 [as that intro and summary page int eh IOSE that P seems to refuse to read cites], Wicken observed:

    ‘Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems. Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms [[i.e. “simple” force laws acting on objects starting from arbitrary and common- place initial conditions] and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an [[originally . . . ] external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’ [[“The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65.

    That is, the concepts of functionally specific, complex information as found in the biological world and more broadly of complex specified information and specified complex organisation, predate the modern desgin movement and appear as observational descriptions and distinctions in the literature of OOL, from leading investigators.

    In more recent times, in their 2005 peer-reviewed article, Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information, Abel and Trevors make a key distinction, illustrated in Fig 4: (i) random sequence complexity, (ii) ordered sequence complexity, (iii) functional sequence complexity.

    Had P bothered to look at and heed my always linked briefing note, App 3, he would have saved himself the embarrassment of trotting out yet another tired out dismissive darwinist talking point that (for good reason) has long since worn out its welcome at UD.

    Instead, he should address the real issue on the merits: dFSCI is a commonly observed feature of our present experience, and in EVERY case where we can see the causal process directly, it traces to directed contingency, i.e. art, or design.

    So, dFSCI is an empirically reliable sign of directed contingency, and we have every epistemic right to use it in inferring to the best explanation of the past through observable signs and traces in the present.

    Which, plainly, is P’s real problem.

    GEM of TKI

  108. —Barry A: “StephenB, as I mentioned in [94] Petrushka, like many of the Darwinists who visit this site, in the unsupported assertion business. Don’t bother him with facts and logic.”

    Barry, your comment reminds me of what I have coined the “Darwinistic paradox.”

    As we both know, if one begins with a false premise and reasons properly, he will, without fail, arrive at a false conclusion.

    On the other hand, if one begins with a false premise and reasons badly, he may get lucky and arrive at a true conclusion.

    How is it then, that Darwinists, who begin with a false premise and also reason badly, never get lucky and arrive at a true conclusion?

  109. F/N: The causal principle, of course, is that that which has a beginning or can cease from existence, has a cause; which of course often comes in the form of both necessary and sufficient causal factors. Could P kindly provide an exception to this that we can observe in the present? [Namely, something that has a beginning or an ending that has no necessary or sufficient causal factors: it must come out of nothing, nowhere, for no reason.]

  110. F/N 2; I see I forgot to say discrete state CODED information that is functional and specific.

  111. Inasmuch as the logical process which takes the philosopher to a causeless cause is dependant on the argument that there cannot be an infinite sequence of causes…

    If there cannot be an infinite regression of causes, the logical conlusion is that there can be uncaused causes. Indeed, that seems to be the conclusion you have reached in positing a first cause.

    And indeed, theists do argue for the first cause coming from nowhere, out of nothing.

    Take your opick, uncaused causes or infinite regression.

  112. In fact, a little common sense would soon enough suffice to show that the term dFSCI — first used by GPuccio here at UD, to particularly focus on DNA etc …

    So GPuccio made it up?

    Anyway, Abel and Trevors have done a fine parody of Sokal.

  113. The current usage of the word “complexity” in the literature represents a quagmire of confusion. It is an ill-defined, nebulous, often self-contradictory concept. We have defined FSC in a way that allows us to differentiate it from random and self-ordering phenomena, to frame testable empirical hypotheses about it, and to identify FSC when it exists.

    So in the five years since this paper was published I bet there have been lots of follow-up papers with actual calculated numbers and all.

    I’m especially interested in seeing calculations that differentiate dFSCI from the results genetic algorithms and generalized learning programs.

  114. 114

    Petrushka and KF

    Petrushka: “I find it odd that some of the same people who are happy when the legal system finds someone guilty based on forensic science are unwilling to accept the findings of 200 years of research.”

    KF: “As such the epistemology of science issues it (forensics) raises — including the degree of warrant it may or may not be able to achieve in a given situation — are quite relevant to the study of origins science.”

    The problem with Petrushka’s argument (which was not actually an argument, but an insinuation) is that forensics involves the recent past, while ToE and ID involve the ancient past. While forensics is similar to the methodology behind ID, it nowhere comes close to the methodology behind evolution.

    Petrushka is raising an issue, which actually supports ID, rather than counters it, and he further implies that ID can’t compare to forensics as well as ToE can.

    He then insinuates that ID science rejects 200 years of research following along the same lines as forensics. He makes my point for me. Forensics is an example, while recent, of ID in practice, as you, KF have so clearly pointed out. The 200 years of research Petrushka refers to CAN be filtered through Darwinian blinders, but it doesn’t need to be.

    Then he writes this gem: “Otherwise evolution is the only design theory on the table.”

    Well, I hate to break it to you Petrushka, but evolution is not a design theory. It is a design-negating theory. It is an anti-forensics theory as well as an anti-design theory. Forensics involves the detection of sometimes accidental, sometimes intentional and sometimes pre-planned acts. Evolutionary theory does not. It only involves the detection of the presumed unintentional acts of nature.

  115. 115

    Petrushka,

    “If there cannot be an infinite regression of causes, the logical conlusion is that there can be uncaused causes. Indeed, that seems to be the conclusion you have reached in positing a first cause.

    And indeed, theists do argue for the first cause coming from nowhere, out of nothing.”

    This is partly right, but then it deviates and falters here: “theists do argue for the first cause coming from nowhere, out of nothing.”

    That is incorrect. What theists posit is that essence IS. God IS. He didn’t come out of nothing or nowhere, but has always existed eternally – outside the confines of time and space. As such, He did not have a cause, nor did He cause Himself into existence. He is the prime essence. Physical existence requires a cause, but a prime essence does not. Without a prime essence or First Cause, there cannot be any physical or otherwise existence.

    But this is very different than the ability for something physical or otherwise to come out of nothing. Such a notion defies logic. A prime essence does not.

  116. —Petrushka: “If there cannot be an infinite regression of causes, the logical conlusion is that there can be uncaused causes.”

    No, actually there can only be one uncaused cause. Two uncaused causes is a logical impossibility.

    —”Indeed, that seems to be the conclusion you have reached in positing a first cause.”

    The conclusion that I come to, and the conclusion that reason leads to, is that there is one, uncaused cause.

    —”And indeed, theists do argue for the first cause coming from nowhere, out of nothing.”

    No, not really, in fact, not at all. Theists argue for an eternal, self existent cause that did not begin to exist, thus it could not come from out of nothing or anything. If it came from “out of anything,” the thing that it came out of would be an antecedent cause. A self existent, eternal being cannot come from out of anything or, for that matter, nothing. It always was.

    —”Take your opick, uncaused causes or infinite regression.’

    I think that you can now understand why that argument doesn’t work.
    Also, read CannuckianYankee’s post above mine which makes the same point in a different way.

  117. —Petrushka: “If there cannot be an infinite regression of causes, the logical conlusion is that there can be uncaused causes.”

    No, actually there can only be one uncaused cause. Two uncaused causes is a logical impossibility.

    How so?

  118. kairosfocus,

    explanatory filter approach … features like dFSCI etc point to design, on empirical evidence.

    I believe that was Bob’s point: ID looks at the same, i.e. evidence from materialistic naturalism, but arrive at an entirely different conclusion.

    Now why is that? IMHO, because of the use of dubious methods, like the EF and metaphysical terms like dFCSI.

    My question is, how can dFSCI be applicable to data from the methodological naturalistic sciences, facts and data that rely on exactness, calculation and quantification as long as dFSCI cannot be calculated?

    How can we rely on a method that is not exact and does not provide precisely quantified data?

    Or maybe I am too dense to engage in a debate like this?

  119. Cabal:

    Why do you immediately set out to poison the atmosphere by using loaded language?

    Why is it that you do so instead of actually engaging the facts and history already in evidence?

    To set some basic facts straight: could you kindly tell me whether or not your comment constitutes a case of what can be described as “discrete state [i.e. digital], coded, functionally specific and complex information”?

    Let’s see:

    discrete state [i.e. digital],

    1 –> Actual speech is a very analogue process, as the sound-making properties of our vocal system are exploited

    2 –> Alphabetisation reduces this analogue process to a discrete state model that though it never has been perfect is good enough to revolutionise the world of thought through the invention of writing.

    3 –> Your post above is just such an example of writing.

    coded,

    4 –> Not only is your comment coded in therms of he Latin-derived English alphabet, but it is coded in ASCII or some extension thereof, like UTF-8

    5 –> Can you show a case where codes with discrete symbols and rules for their meaningful or functional combination, came about by the undirected necessity of the 4 fundamental forces of physics, and chance circumstances or factors? Can you show cases where such codes came about by intelligent action?

    6 –> Is not therefore the existence of such a code that functions in a communicating system a sign of inelligence?

    functionally specific

    7 –> In order to communicate a message, not just any random text string would do: fhweg42uyfr . . .

    8 –> Instead, you purposed to make a message, and directed the contingency of possible text strings under ASCII coding, to form a contextually responsive [though distractive and denigratory] message in English

    and complex

    9 –> Your message constitutes 716 128-state ASCII characters, which has a configuration space of about 5.79 *10^1508 possible states

    10 –> By comparison, the 10^80 or so atoms of our observed cosmos, considered as changing state every Planck time [rounded down to 10^-45 s] and for the ~ 10^25 s of the thermodynamically credible lifespan of that cosmos [~ 50 mn times the usual timeline since the singularity] would take up ~ 10^150 states

    11 –> Thus, if the whole observed universe were to be converted into impossibly fast monkeys, PCs and keyboards, with support resources [think of bananas by the trainload . . . ], banging away at random, there would be vastky insufficient resources to scratch teh surface of possible configs, so the monkey searcdh would be a maximally implausible method for finding the sort of string that we see just above

    12 –> And yet, in a few minutes, you turned it out and ill-advisedly fired it off. (Intelligence in the sense of being capable of directed contingency, is not to be confused with wisdom.)

    13 –> So, the specified, linguistically functional complexity shows up yet again as a reliable marker of design in a case where we can observe.

    information

    14 –> The above is certainly informational, as it reflects: “ . . that which would be communicated by a message if it were sent from a sender to a receiver capable of understanding the message . . . . In terms of data, it can be defined as a collection of facts [i.e. as represented or sensed in some format] from which conclusions may be drawn [and on which decisions and actions may be taken].”

    15 –> Thus, the descriptive term dFSCI is objectively well-warranted, and apt, also as working digital information it is subject to objective quantitiative analysis as shown

    16 –> Further, the explanatory filter process — which we have learned to trust well enough to decide whether or not to fine or gaol an accused [and sometimes take even more drastic actions] is again shown to be reasonable and effective.

    17 –> Dismissive language as above without justifying evidence and reason simply shows animosity.

    18 –> BTW, we should not fool ourselves that most significant things that can be reliably known or handled are quantifiable in exact terms . . . this is why we have so many different types of scales when we do quantitative studies: ratio, interval, ordinal, nominal.

    19 –> Going further, as the Weak Argument Correctives show from 25 on, digitally coded, functionally specific complex information is quantifiable, on several relevant scales — note from no 27 the Durston, Chiu, Trevors and Abel al peer reviewed publication of values of functional sequence complexity for 35 protein families, building on the exact model put forward by Abel and Trevors that someone above rudely compared to the infamous Sokal affair — including at basic level the simple “back of the envelope” one documented in my always linked note at point 6, where we use the number of functional bits and multiply by factors that pass/block based on whether the matter is already explicable as natural regularity or chance.

    20 –> So, sadly, you have propagated an ill-informed, dismissively loaded and denigratory — we can read subtext — strawman

    So also, we see how your objections fall apart, by virtue of the very fact that they manifest the dFSCI you object to and that dFSCI can be shown to be again reliable as a sign of intelligently directed contingency.

    Going further, do you not see how often you impose “materialistic naturalism,” force fitting this onto the world as you look at it?

    Why not instead open your eyes to the world as it manifestly is; for we commonly see

    (i) natural regularities tracing to mechanical necessity

    (ii) stochastic contingencies tracing to chance

    (iii) directed contingency tracing to design.

    As to Bob O’H's post as previously discussed, it manifestly rests on a willful and frankly malicious strawmannisation of design thought.

    It needs to be retracted and apologised for.

    And as someone who has commented at UD for a long time, you knew or should have known better than you posted above, even just on the duty of reading and taking seriously the correctives that have been there for coming on two years in their current form.

    You too need to do some retraction and apologising.

    GEM of TKI

  120. Onlookers:

    Petrushka needs to be willing to accept that Genetic Algorithms and Learning programs are precisely cases of dFSCI knopwn to be caused by intelligence in action, and so to infer from their output to intelligent cause is precisely an example of the reliability of dFSCI as a sign of directed contingency as relevant cause.

    A real case where a GA or the like would point to the power of undirected chance and necessity to generate dFSCI, would be a GA that wrote itself out of chunks of sky noise digitised and spewed across a disk, and which then initiated its action and generated functionally specific strings of 1,000+ bits length.

    Actually, just the generation of a complex text string that is meaningful from sky noise or the like, or the random shapes of a clay bed in contact with the waters of Darwin’s little pond would be enough. On this, the introductory remarks in the 2005 T & A paper have some pretty pungent words:

    Little empirical evidence exists to contradict the contention that untemplated sequencing is dynamically inert (physically arbitrary). We are accustomed to thinking in terms of base-pairing complementarity determining sequencing. It is only in researching the pre-RNA world that the problem of single-stranded metabolically functional sequencing of ribonucleotides (or their analogs) becomes acute. And of course highly-ordered templated sequencing of RNA strands on natural surfaces such as clay offers no explanation for biofunctional sequencing. The question is never answered, “From what source did the template derive its functional information?” In fact, no empirical evidence has been presented of a naturally occurring inorganic template that contains anything more than combinatorial uncertainty. No bridge has been established between combinatorial uncertainty and utility of any kind . . .

    Second, the follow up peer reviewed paper by Durston et al — with Abel and Trevors as co-authors, suffices to show that the FSC vs OSC vs RSC concept has indeed been followed up, and the parallel developments with Marks and Dembski on how active information injection contributes to the capability of searches to on average out perform random search is also a significant side-light on what FSC is about.

    In that context, Abel’s recent paper on the universal plausibility metric points to a further quantification of the threshold of complexity:

    An extremely unlikely event’s probability always remains at least slightly > 0. No matter how many orders of magnitude is the negative exponent of an event’s probability, that event or scenario technically cannot be considered impossible. Not even a Universal Probability Bound [6-8] seems to establish absolute theoretical impossibility. The fanatical pursuit of absoluteness by finite subjective knowers is considered counterproductive in post modern science. Open-mindedness to all possibilities is encouraged [9].

    But at some point our reluctance to exclude any possibility becomes stultifying to operational science [10]. Falsification is critical to narrowing down the list of serious possibilities [11]. Almost all hypotheses are possible. Few of them wind up being helpful and scientifically productive. Just because a hypothesis is possible should not grant that hypothesis scientific respectability. More attention to the concept of “infeasibility” has been suggested [12]. Millions of dollars in astrobiology grant money have been wasted on scenarios that are possible, but plausibly bankrupt. The question for scientific methodology should not be, “Is this scenario possible?” The question should be, “Is this possibility a plausible scientific hypothesis?” . . . .

    To be able to definitively falsify ridiculously implausible hypotheses, we need first a Universal Plausibility Metric (UPM) to assign a numerical plausibility value to each proposed hypothetical scenario. Second, a Universal Plausibility Principle (UPP) inequality is needed as plausibility bound of this measurement for falsification evaluation. We need a cut-off point beyond which no extremely low probability scenario can be considered a “scientifically respectable” possibility. What is needed more than a probability bound is a plausibility bound. Any “possibility” that exceeds the ability of its probabilistic resources to generate should immediately be considered a “functional non possibility,” and therefore an implausible scenario . . . .

    The computed Universal Plausibility Metric (UPM) objectively quantifies the level of plausibility of any chance hypothesis or theory. The UPM employs the symbol [Xi] . . . ) to represent the computed UPM according to the following equation:

    Xi = [f8 L-OMEGA-A]/w

    where f represents the number of functional objects/events/scenarios that are known to occur out of all possible combinations (lower case omega, [w above to get as symbol that will show up]) (e.g., the number [f] of functional protein family members of varying sequence known to occur out of sequence space [w]), and L-OMEGA-A (upper case Omega, OMEGA here) represents the total probabilistic resources for any particular probabilistic context. The “L” superscript context of OMEGA describes which perspective of analysis, whether quantum (q) or a classical (c), and the “A” subscript context of OMEGA enumerates which subset of astronomical phase space is being evaluated: “u” for universe, “g” for our galaxy, “s” for our solar system, and “e” for earth. Note that the basic generic UPM (Xi) equation’s form remains constant despite changes in the variables of levels of perspective (L: whether q or c) and astronomic subsets (A: whether u, g, s, or e) . . . .

    Let us address the quantum level perspective (q) first for the entire universe (u) followed by three astronomical subsets: our galaxy (g), our solar system (s) and earth (e).

    Since approximately 10^17 seconds have elapsed since the Big Bang, we factor that total time into the following calculations of quantum perspective probabilistic resource measures. Note that the difference between the age of the earth and the age of the cosmos is only a factor of 3. A factor of 3 is rather negligible at the high order of magnitude of 10^17 seconds since the Big Bang (versus age of the earth). Thus, 10^17 seconds is used for all three astronomical subsets:

    q-OMEGA-u = . . = 10^43 trans/s * 10^17s * 10^80 p, n & e = 10^140

    q-OMEGA-g = . . . = 10^127

    . . .

    q-OMEGA-e = . . . = 10^102

    These above limits of probabilistic resources exist within the only known universe that we can repeatedly observe–the only universe that is scientifically addressable. Wild metaphysical claims of an infinite number of cosmoses may be fine for cosmological imagination, religious belief, or superstition. But such conjecturing has no place in hard science. Such claims cannot be empirically investigated, and they certainly cannot be falsified. They violate Ockham’s (Occam’s) Razor [40]. No prediction fulfillments are realizable . . . .

    The Universal Plausibility Principle (UPP) states that definitive operational falsification of any chance hypothesis is provided by the inequality of:

    Xi Less than 1

    This definitive operational falsification holds for hypotheses, theories, models, or scenarios at any level of perspective (q or c) and for any astronomical subset (u, g, s, and e). The UPP inequality’s falsification is valid whether the hypothesized event is singular or compound, independent or conditional . . .

    [ . . . ]

  121. CONT’D:

    The focal point of this is of course that dFSCI is deeply isolated in config space, and so it rapidly becomes maximally implausible to try to get to it on raw physical necessity and chance. But, routinely, intelligence bridges that gap.

    Finally, the quote-mined excerpt on the abuse of the term complexity in the general – as opposed to design — literature, is an apt illustration of why the evasive, red herring and strawman rherorical tactics of darwinist objectors to the design inference is one of the strongest evidences that they are trying to defend an orthodoxy that simply cannot stand up to the facts of life of an informaiton age.

    Let us cite the whole conclusion, not just the carefully chopped out part, to see what T & A REALLY have to say:

    In summary, Sequence complexity can be 1) random (RSC), 2) ordered (OSC), or functional (FSC). OSC is on the opposite end of the bi-directional vectorial spectrum of complexity from RSC. FSC is usually paradoxically closer to the random end of the complexity scale than the ordered end. FSC is the product of nonrandom selection. FSC results from the equivalent of a succession of integrated algorithmic decision node “switch settings.” FSC alone instructs sophisticated metabolic function. Self-ordering processes preclude both complexity and sophisticated functions. Self-ordering phenomena are observed daily in accord with chaos theory. But under no known circumstances can self-ordering phenomena like hurricanes, sand piles, crystallization, or fractals produce algorithmic organization. Algorithmic “self-organization” has never been observed [70] despite numerous publications that have misused the term [21,151-162]. Bone fide organization always arises from choice contingency, not chance contingency or necessity.
    Reduced uncertainty (misnamed “mutual entropy”) cannot measure prescriptive information (information that specifically informs or instructs). Any sequence that specifically informs us or prescribes how to achieve success inherently contains choice controls. The constraints of physical dynamics are not choice contingent. Prescriptive sequences are called “instructions” and “programs.” They are not merely complex sequences. They are algorithmically complex sequences. They are cybernetic. Random sequences are maximally complex. But they don’t do anything useful. Algorithmic instruction is invariably the key to any kind of sophisticated organization such as we observe in any cell. No method yet exists to quantify “prescriptive information” (cybernetic “instructions”).
    Nucleic acid prescription of function cannot be explained by “order out of chaos” or by “order on the edge of chaos” [163]. Physical phase changes cannot write algorithms. Biopolymeric matrices of high information retention are among the most complex entities known to science. They do not and can not arise from low-informational self-ordering phenomena. Instead of order from chaos, the genetic code was algorithmically optimized to deliver highly informational, aperiodic, specified complexity [164]. Specified complexity usually lies closer to the noncompressible unordered end of the complexity spectrum than to the highly ordered end (Fig. ?(Fig.4).4Figure 4). Patterning usually results from the reuse of programming modules or words. But this is only secondary to choice contingency utilizing better efficiency. Order itself is not the key to prescriptive information.
    The current usage of the word “complexity” in the literature represents a quagmire of confusion. It is an ill-defined, nebulous, often self-contradictory concept. We have defined FSC in a way that allows us to differentiate it from random and self-ordering phenomena, to frame testable empirical hypotheses about it, and to identify FSC when it exists.
    Science has often progressed through the formulation of null hypotheses. Falsification allows elimination of plausible postulates [165,166]. The main contentions of this paper are offered in that context. We invite potential collaborators to join us in our active pursuit of falsification of these null hypotheses.

    A pre-information age theory that denies basic, easily observed facts and causal patterns on how information comes to be is doomed in the end, no matter how big and noisy the battalions it currently commands are.

    So, our job at the moment is simply to point to the holes in the hull on the waterline of the SS Darwinism — in an age of MVs.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: P should heed SB and CY on the difference between contingent and necessary beings. The existence of contingent beings in an observed experienced universe that is itself credibly contingent warrants the conclusion that it is grounded in the reality of a necessary being. In the old days of the Steady State hypothesis that NB was inferred to be the physical cosos, but in a singularity world, we do not have that luxury, and the inference to a quasi-infinite wider cosmos is as much a philosphical inference as the inference to an intelligent purposeful powerful creator of the observed cosmos who is a necessary being. In favour of the latter, we have many convergent lines of evidence that point to such a creator, starting with the credible fine-tuning of our observed cosmos, which points to design by an intelligent creator; and note the small-c here, as we are still quite far from specific theistic worldviews. (Notice, onlookers, just how consistently Darwinist objectors duck discussing his side of ID.)

    –> For the record, I happen to be a Judaeo-Christian theist, and part of that is grounded in history and the experience of millions over thousands of years of record, of life-changing encounter with the Living God; myself included and a great many other people I know included. In particular, through the impact of and warrant for the gospel as summarised in 1 Cor 15:1 – 11. But such is a worldview level comparative difficulties decision on core warranted beliefs about reality, going far beyond the matters considered in scientific investigations.

  122. PPS: It should be evident why dFSCI is used in preference to the complex but functionally equivalent terminology of Abel et al [cf how I reduce other cases to structured sets of string data structures based on networks of nodes, arcs and interfaces, here, also showing the relevance of the three-pronged causal explanatory filter on an aspect by aspect basis], and why this particular functionally specified subset of complex specified information is focussed on for discussion.

  123. Well, I hate to break it to you Petrushka, but evolution is not a design theory. It is a design-negating theory.

    That’s simply factually wrong. TOE is a detailed theory of design, complete with mechanisms. Haven’t you even read Origin of Species? Or anything written on the subject since?

    I see endless Sokal-like bloviating on the subject of what can happen and what can’t, but no list of laws of physics or chemistry violated by incremental change.

    The nearest thing to actual science in ID is the claim that a series of pre-specified mutations is prohibitively unlikely, but TOE isn’t about pre-specification or goal seeking or searching.

  124. Onlookers:

    More spin, not substance.

    P knows or should know that design speaks to intelligently directed contingency. Cf Am h Dict:

    de·sign (d-zn)
    v. de·signed, de·sign·ing, de·signs
    v.tr.
    1.
    a. To conceive or fashion in the mind; invent: design a good excuse for not attending the conference.
    b. To formulate a plan for; devise: designed a marketing strategy for the new product.
    2. To plan out in systematic, usually graphic form: design a building; design a computer program.
    3. To create or contrive for a particular purpose or effect: a game designed to appeal to all ages.
    4. To have as a goal or purpose; intend.
    5. To create or execute in an artistic or highly skilled manner.

    And to cap off his self-reduction to absurdity, observe how when he meets actual papers in the peer reviewed literature showing how Abel et al have built on the trifold conception of sequence complexity, including a metric for FSC that has been applied to 35 protein families, he blathers on about “Sokal.”

    That, sadly, is not a reasonable or fact-responsive pattern of behaviour. Instead, we see here unfortunately plain signs of the fallacy of the ideologised, closed mind on P’s part.

    Let us hope he wakes up and faces wha tis plainly unwelcome reality.

    GEM of TKI

  125. P knows or should know that design speaks to intelligently directed contingency.

    Variation plus selection comprise a learning algorithm, and are therefore an instance of “intelligence.”

    You may not like it, but it exists, it is observable, it can be studied in the laboratory, it produces trees of inherited traits, it produces incremental change in the timespan known to be available.

    What it doesn’t do is plan, search for solutions, or pre-specify changes. And despite the musings of generic science writers, it does not produce adaptations to demand. It does not prevent extinction.

  126. The conclusion that I come to, and the conclusion that reason leads to, is that there is one, uncaused cause.

    You simply assert an exception because your “logic” requires it, but you are still saying that A and Not A exist simultaneously.

    If one uncaused caused exists, then one cannot logically assert that causation is necessary.

  127. —Petrushka: “You simply assert an exception because your “logic” requires it.”

    Your first statement is partly correct, although I wouldn’t call it “my” logic. I didn’t invent it, but rather I, with the help of better men, apprehended it. Logic does, indeed, require an uncaused cause, and the only way to dismiss the uncaused cause is to abandon logic, as you seem to understand.

    The principle of an uncaused cause, does not, however, violate the principle of non-contradiciton. If you will think about it for a moment, you will realize that the uncaused cause, which derives from the same logic that stands on the principle of non-contradiction can hardly violate that same principle which requires it to be so.

    —”If one uncaused caused exists, then one cannot logically assert that causation is necessary.”

    As we have seen, logic is necessary to arrive at the uncaused cause. Also, the principle of the uncaused cause is the inescapable conclusion derived from logical principles, as you acknowledged.

    This is, of course, the reason that Darwinists disdain reason and logic. Truth, after all, is the destination to which the vehicle of logic takes us. Thus, in order to avoid arriving at the destination, Darwinists seek to destroy the vehicle that would take them there.

  128. I am not arguing against the necessity of an uncaused cause.

    I merely point out that it negates any axiom requiring causation.

    But feel free free to believe mutually contradictory things.

  129. Onlookers:

    P knows or should know that variation plus selection in life forms first presupposes origin and prior existence of a self-replicating facility in a metabolising enitity, bringing to bear the issue of the origin of a von Neumann replicator discussed in Section b here, including both irreducible complexity and FSCI.

    That is before life and natural selection, so-called, can exist. (Darwin discreetly begged this question in Origin, and ever since it has been unanswered as insuperable.)

    In addition, the only empirically known source of required codes, algorithms and organization, is intelligence; the search space challenges being well beyond the sorts of plausibility limits discussed by Abel.

    Then, to get to novel body plans, P knows or should know that major embryologically feasible transformations will be required — well beyond the FSCI threshold again — as is discussed here.

    Empirically, mutations plus natural selection and similar mechanisms have been observed to make relatively minor changes in existing organisms, but there is no evidence that this mechanism has the power to originate novel body plans and associated bio-information and implementing machinery, starting with the very first body plan.

    The reason why such hugely extrapolated almost magical powers are being attributed to darwinian mechanisms, is not evidence, but Lewontinian a priori assumptions, as Johnson pointed out in his rejoinder to Lewontin:

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

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

    In short, sadly, it is ideological blindness that makes men like P imagine that a mechanism that can make small variations in an existing system — often by breaking down fairly minor parts or garbling small quantities of information [e.g. suppressing regulation of production of anti-penicillin enzymes, which makes antibiotic resistant bugs less viable in the wild] — accounts for major innovations in body plans.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: P then unfortunately manages to show that he does not understand the logic of cause and the implications of contingent beings in an observed contingent cosmos.

    In particular — and here we are indulging a bit of phil, not science — a necessary being is not a contradiction to the existence of a contingent cosmos, but its logically necessary ground:

    a: that which exists has a good and sufficient reason to be [in the sense of a good answer to "why?"]; and if it begins to exist or may cease from being, it has a cause as that reason. (As an alternative, a being may be non-contingent, i.e necessary — with no beginning or ending: it was always there, and will always be there. This is as opposed to merely being “uncaused.” (He doubtless hopes to insert here entities that have a beginning but have no cause, only to run into the question: why then do they begin and exist, there, then, and in that context? Noting that space itself is a something with properties and filled to bursting with energy.) Remember, a necessary causal condition — without X, A ceases to be or cannot come to be — is in this sense a cause. To come to be, X requires sufficient causes, though such may be unknown or unknowable to us.)

    b: We, our surroundings, our planet and the observed universe as a whole are — notoriously even — contingent beings.

    c: Thus, the observed cosmos is caused.

    d: In turn, there must be an ontologically prior being that is the ground of the existence of such a caused world. (There is even a generally proposed date of 13.7 BYA for the origin of the observed cosmos in a singularity, so the “big bang” requires some sort of causally prior “big banger.” Thence the debates over fine tuning, which we need not explore here just now.)

    e: The logically necessitated ultimate ontological prior is a necessary — as opposed to contingent — being [we are now saying more than just logically necessary!], and so can neither come into nor go out of existence. [Nor am I arguing for mere temporal priority (though the objections to say the Kalaam cosmological argument do run into interesting difficulties with the required actual past infinite succession of causes], but for ontological priority: the necessary being is a necessary sustaining causal condition of our cosmos. Absent such a being, absent us, just as if the matter-energy space-time world we inhabit did not exist, neither could we. That is the bite in Paul’s citation on Mars Hill: “. . . in him we live and move and have our being.”]

    f: Such a necessary being, repeat, depends on nothing else for its existence, it is self-existent — and please note this is not an argument that would name such a being God; if the Steady State or eternal material universe were true accounts, they would fill the generic requisites so far.

    g: Such a necessary being, also, therefore has neither beginning nor possibility of cessation of existence.

    h: There are of course difficulties associated with the concept (starting with how it strains our conceptions, similar to how the existence of a single point on earth that is due north of Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, New York and Montserrat is at first a strain on our concepts) and many make objections, but when the objections have to stand on their own legs at the bar of comparative difficulties, they will soon show themselves markedly inferior.

    i: As to the unity of that prior [which may be complex!], let the patent unity of the cosmos even in the midst of its diversity suffice as a first pointer.

    –> The real issue is the nature and identity of that necessary being; especially after it was no longer credible to postulate the objection that the observed universe — presumed eternal — is that logically necessitated being.

  130. P knows or should know that variation plus selection in life forms first presupposes origin and prior existence of a self-replicating facility in a metabolising enitity…

    The metabolizing part is not true.

    Replicators can exist and evolve without cell membranes and cellular machinery.

    The minimum level of complexity for a replicator is not known, but if it can be known it will be discovered by research, not bloviation.

    I get the feeling that some here actually fear research into possible scenarios for the origin of life. They certainly aren’t enthusiastic.

  131. F/N: Let us hope this does not become yet another distractive argument that allows avoiding the challenge in the original post.

  132. Onlookers:

    P is evading again. Life as we know it involves both metabolism and self-replication intertwined inescapably.

    Viri are parasites on life.

    G

  133. —Petrushka: “I am not arguing against the necessity of an uncaused cause.”

    Does that mean that you affirm the necessity of an uncaused cause, or does it mean that you are using evasive language to avoid the issue? Please take a position on this issue: [A] A first cause is necessary or [B] a first cause is not necessary. If your position is [B] Please do not say that you are not arguing against [A].

    —”I merely point out that it negates any axiom requiring causation.”

    I explained why that is not the case, but you conveniently ignored the point. That same logical system that depends on the law of non-contradiction is the same logical system that requires an uncaused cause. Thus, the one cannot possibly negate the other. Do you always ignore refutations as if they had never happened?

    —But feel free free to believe mutually contradictory things.”

    As I have made clear, my position is consistent. Of course, I am not the one who denies the law of non-contradiction, you are. Indeed, by your lights, there is no problem in believing mutually contradictory things since you do not accept the law of non-contradiction. So, is it unreasonable to contradict yourself or is it reasonable? Please affirm ne position and negate the other.

    If, as you indicate, the law of non-contradiction is not true, you should celebrate anything I say, whether it constitutes a contradictory statement or not. Even if I held a contradictory position, as you do, you would have no reasonable standard for saying that contradictory statements are a problem. Do you think contradictory statements are unreasonable? If so, by what standard do you make that declaration?

  134. P is evading again. Life as we know it involves both metabolism and self-replication intertwined inescapably.

    But it may not have started that way.

  135. Life as we know it involves both metabolism and self-replication intertwined inescapably

    So what? That says nothing about the earliest history of life.

    Pontificating is not research. Announcing the results of research before it’s done is not science.

    It’s not even pseudoscience.

  136. That same logical system that depends on the law of non-contradiction is the same logical system that requires an uncaused cause.

    If you say all crows are black, and I show you a white crow, what does that say about your assertion?

    Causation is something we observe in our everyday lives, but it cannot be asserted as something that is self-evidently true.

    There is no logical reason why the sequences of events we observe could not be coincidence, and therse is no definitive test to disprove this hypothesis.

    Some people, and I think some who frequent this forum, believe in an omniscient being. From the point of view of an omniscient being there is no time and all things are concurrent. The appearance of cause and effect have no meaning outside time.

    So whatever your heart’s desire, the issues of causation and first cause are not settled.

    Youn can rant and whine and stomp your feet, but I am simply not impressed with argument from “because I said so.” You solution is ad hoc. The concept of first cause is simply tacked on to a hopeless infinite regress. It serves no purpose but to rescue an axiom that cannot be rescued.

  137. Petruska:

    Replicators can exist and evolve without cell membranes and cellular machinery.

    Where?

    The minimum level of complexity for a replicator is not known, but if it can be known it will be discovered by research, not bloviation.

    You need parts- you know the spare parts required to do the replication.

    A replicator without spare parts is worse than pancakes without syrup.

    I get the feeling that some here actually fear research into possible scenarios for the origin of life. They certainly aren’t enthusiastic

    Research seems to strengthen the design inference.

  138. PS: And, that is before P even addresses the issue of the nucleotides and the actual empirical observations vs the speculative scenarios on self-replication.

    Do I need to insist that we have in hand a principle that dFSCI is per induction on observed patterns a known signature of directed contingency, whilst what is being opposed is highly speculative scenarios as are mutually destroyed here by Shapiro and Orgel, even before I sic Berlinski’s elegant but eviscerating review on the quivering remnants of the fratricide. Objections to inductively established principles are only to be considered on solid empirical warrant.

    In short, no empty materialistic speculations and a prioris please.

    Here is a slice of Berlinski’s conclusion that draws out my point on speculations and a prioris:

    At the conclusion of a long essay, it is customary to summarize what has been learned. In the present case, I suspect it would be more prudent to recall how much has been assumed:

    First, that the pre-biotic atmosphere was chemically reductive; second, that nature found a way to synthesize cytosine; third, that nature also found a way to synthesize ribose; fourth, that nature found the means to assemble nucleotides into polynucleotides; fifth, that nature discovered a self-replicating molecule; and sixth, that having done all that, nature promoted a self-replicating molecule into a full system of coded chemistry.

    These assumptions are not only vexing but progressively so, ending in a serious impediment to thought. That, indeed, may be why a number of biologists have lately reported a weakening of their commitment to the RNA world altogether, and a desire to look elsewhere for an explanation of the emergence of life on earth. “It’s part of a quiet paradigm revolution going on in biology,” the biophysicist Harold Morowitz put it in an interview in New Scientist, “in which the radical randomness of Darwinism is being replaced by a much more scientific law-regulated emergence of life.”

    Morowitz is not a man inclined to wait for the details to accumulate before reorganizing the vista of modern biology. In a series of articles, he has argued for a global vision based on the biochemistry of living systems rather than on their molecular biology or on Darwinian adaptations. His vision treats the living system as more fundamental than its particular species, claiming to represent the “universal and deterministic features of any system of chemical interactions based on a water-covered but rocky planet such as ours.”

    This view of things – metabolism first, as it is often called – is not only intriguing in itself but is enhanced by a firm commitment to chemistry and to “the model for what science should be.” It has been argued with great vigor by Morowitz and others. It represents an alternative to the RNA world. It is a work in progress, and it may well be right. Nonetheless, it suffers from one outstanding defect. There is as yet no evidence that it is true . . .

    More, here.

  139. It goes without saying that this is a tentative judgment, perhaps only a hunch. But let us suppose that questions about the origins of the mind and the origins of life do lie beyond the grasp of “the model for what science should be.” In that case, we must either content ourselves with its limitations or revise the model. If a revision also lies beyond our powers, then we may well have to say that the mind and life have appeared in the universe for no very good reason that we can discern.

    Sounds like a really bad Hollywood movie: there are things the lie beyond the power of science to grasp. Etc, etc.

    What a crock. If science gave up because problems are hard, we’d all live in caves.

  140. Onlookers:

    Sadly, we didn’t make this up as a strawman, it is real:

    P,134:

    [Cites KF:] Life as we know it involves both metabolism and self-replication intertwined inescapably

    P Responds: So what? That says nothing about the earliest history of life. Pontificating is not research. Announcing the results of research before it’s done is not science. It’s not even pseudoscience.

    But by definition, origins science is about the deep past where there is no history.

    So, on causal patterns and circumstances observed in the present, we propose a model of the past on scientific principles. That is not history — we were not there and there are no generally accepted records — nor can it safely be separated from the anchor of known patterns of cause and effect, including of course that dFSCI is routinely and only known to be produced by directed contingency.

    Further he is being disrespectful: there is in fact a considerable body of empirical evidence and significant research 0on the validation of the point that what we have been calling dFSCI is in observed cases routinely the product of design. Moreover it is well known that there are no credible counter-instances, or that would be the very first resort in rebuttal.

    As they say, there is no free lunch on information: to consistently outperform random search you need intelligently injected active information. (And of course — no thanks to the Darwinists — there just happens to be some relevant peer-reviewed published research on that subject involving a certain founder of this blog.)

    We plainly need to remind P of what went on above at 38, which he has plainly ignored, even as he rushes to project unto design thinkers as unacceptable, the exact pattern of empirically unconstrained speculation on unobserveds he and others are indulging on origins and evidently wish to have us swallow as a credible HISTORY of life:
    ____________

    >> 12 –> Now, one of the challenges on origin of life is that whenever and wherever it happened, it happened in a deep past we cannot observe, nor do we have generally accepted records. That is the source of the sting in Job when YHWH speaks out of the storm in ch 38:

    1 . . . the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
    2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
    with words without knowledge?
    3 Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand . . .

    13 –> Plainly, this is a very good and deep challenge to the project of origins science.

    14 –> The best answer we can give is that once (i) we can establish an empirically reliable pattern in the present, (ii) we can observe traces of the past in the present, and (iii) we can see a credible set of initial circumstances that through those patterns would give rise to sufficiently similar traces, (iv) we may scientifically infer on best explanation, that the suggested circumstances and dynamics are a credible — albeit inevitably provisional — origins narrative.

    15 –> Of course, one thing that we have no right to do, is to claim that such an inferential reconstruction is a fact beyond reasonable dispute or doubt. (Sadly, it is necessary to note this, as there is a tendency to over-claim the factual basis for evolutionary theories of origins.)

    16 –> Coming back from epistemological underpinnings (and yes, science inescapably rests on philosophical foundations), we can note that there is a clear, empirically reliable pattern concerning dFSCI: it is a sign that — per a massive base of observations and without a credible counterexample that can stand basic scrutiny — reliably points to directed contingency as its origin. >>

    _____________

    turnabout rhetoric and a priori imposition of materialistic rules do not suffice to overturn the fact of design as a causal pattern we routinely observe, and the existence of empirically reliable signs thereof, such as what we may describe as digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information.

    So, when we see dFSCI in the cell, and note that it is deeply involved in both the metabolism that makes the components and puts them to work, and in the replication that allows it to reproduce itself using these components, we have every reason to infer that such shows that design is a key component of any empirically grounded explanation of the origin of life.

    Especially as we watch what has been happening to non-design proposals for decades.

    GEM of TKI

  141. Quote-mining.

    Read what is actually said, and compare the artfully excerpted dismissive snippet. Also, read the remarks by Shapiro and Orgel, to see how the genes first and metabolism first schools have mutually destroyed one another.

    Inferring on known causal patterns from the present to the past in explanation of phenomena showing signs of design is not giving up, save of course if one a priori decides that only a materialistic explanation will count as science. Which begs some bigtime questions and undermines the integrity of science.

  142. F/n:

    Excerpting the two wiki articles:

    _________________

    >>Eigen’s paradox is one of the most intractable puzzles in the study of the origins of life. It is thought that the error threshold concept described above limits the size of self replicating molecules to perhaps a few hundred digits, yet almost all life on earth requires much longer molecules to encode their genetic information. This problem is handled in living cells by enzymes that repair mutations, allowing the encoding molecules to reach sizes on the order of millions of base pairs. These large molecules must, of course, encode the very enzymes that repair them, and herein lies Eigen’s paradox, first put forth by Manfred Eigen in his 1971 paper (Eigen 1971). Simply stated, Eigen’s paradox amounts to the following:

    * Without error correction enzymes, the maximum size of a replicating molecule is about 100 base pairs.
    * For a replicating molecule to encode error correction enzymes, it must be substantially larger than 100 bases . . . >>

    and

    >>Spiegelman introduced RNA from a simple Bacteriophage Q? (Q?) into a solution which contained the RNA replication enzyme RNA replicase from the Q? virus Q-Beta Replicase, some free nucleotides and some salts. In this environment, the RNA started to replicate. After a while, Spiegelman took some RNA and moved it to another tube with fresh solution. This process was repeated[1].

    Shorter RNA chains were able to replicate faster, so the RNA became shorter and shorter as selection favored speed. After 74 generations, the original strand with 4,500 nucleotide bases ended up as a dwarf genome with only 218 bases. Such a short RNA had been able to replicate very quickly in these unnatural circumstances. >>

    ___________________

    The first shows that we have a barrier to surmount to get enough stored information to create a viable self-replicating cell. The second, shows how active information, already existing products of living cells and design were introduced by art to get some RNA replication.

    In the realistic case, the first challenge would be to get RNA monomers, then to get the right chirality then to get the chaining and circumstances to promote replication. Then we need to go on to provide codes, algorithms, and organisation to get the hot zone of metabolic life forms that self-replicate, by chance and mechanical necessity alone, in the teeth of the implied configuration space challenge.

    But, all things seem possible to him who looks with the eye of speculative materialistic faith.

    GEM of TKI

  143. Also, read the remarks by Shapiro and Orgel, to see how the genes first and metabolism first schools have mutually destroyed one another.

    Your conclusion is that because research is hard, long and tedious, that it isn’t worth doing?

    That’s the Barbie Doll approach to science.

    You have a bottomless ignorance of the history of science and absolutely no perspective. Anything that takes longer tha ten seconds is beyond your attention span.

    How many years passed between Copernicus and Newton? Newton and Einstein?

  144. 145

    SB:”That same logical system that depends on the law of non-contradiction is the same logical system that requires an uncaused cause.”

    P: “If you say all crows are black, and I show you a white crow, what does that say about your assertion?”

    The only way this argument could be true is for you to produce an object or thing that has not been caused. That is what defies the infinite regress absurdity, not a necessary first cause.

    P: “Causation is something we observe in our everyday lives, but it cannot be asserted as something that is self-evidently true.”

    Can you say that without appealing to self-evidentiary statements (which are no less false)?

    P: “There is no logical reason why the sequences of events we observe could not be coincidence, and therse is no definitive test to disprove this hypothesis.”

    Depends on how you define “coincidence.” I think you would be better served in this statement if you used the term “chance.” But chance, contingency and effect are premature. You have to deal with cause and infinite regress issue first. You don’t seem to want to deal with these. Not surprising though. This is common among materialists.

    P: “Some people, and I think some who frequent this forum, believe in an omniscient being. From the point of view of an omniscient being there is no time and all things are concurrent.”

    Then:

    “The appearance of cause and effect have no meaning outside time.”

    How does this last statement follow from the first? You’re assuming that this omniscient being is not aware of time? You’re trying to limit omniscience for the sake of your argument, but it doesn’t work.

    If an omniscient being is truly omniscient, such a being is aware of time and what is necessary for cause and effect, while not him/herself being limited by cause/effect/time.

    You’re making assumptions where such are not warranted.

    P: “So whatever your heart’s desire, the issues of causation and first cause are not settled.”

    You’re arguing as if causation is an issue for science to settle. There are things science cannot settle, and are left to philosophy. The causation issue is one of them.

    “Youn can rant and whine and stomp your feet, but I am simply not impressed with argument from ‘because I said so.’ You solution is ad hoc. The concept of first cause is simply tacked on to a hopeless infinite regress. It serves no purpose but to rescue an axiom that cannot be rescued.”

    Interesting conclusion from a person who has been given careful and reasoned responses from both SB and KF on the issue of causation, that you should assert: “I am simply not impressed with argument from “because I said so.”

    Then using the same “I said so” argumentation that you claim not to be impressed with, and furthermore implying that SB and KF and others on this forum are using, you assert that the “concept of first cause is simply tacked on to a hopeless infinite regress.”

    No, Petrushka, it is the very infinite regress absurdity, which makes a first cause necessary. I think you need to get your terminology correct here. It is not a “hopeless” infinite regress, as if by somehow providing it some hope, it might be revived; it is, rather an “absurd” infinite regress, which defies the very fundamentals of logic, and the only way to escape it is by positing an uncaused first cause. Science will not settle this, because it is already settled by logic, without which science could not operate.

  145. How does this last statement follow from the first? You’re assuming that this omniscient being is not aware of time?

    If there is a first cause, then there is at least one instance of something that is not caused. That is not difficult.

    Beyond that you have no evidence or attributes to assign to the first cause. You have no basis for asserting there is only one uncaused cause. You just say it’s true and expect everyone to agree.

  146. 147

    P “You have no basis for asserting there is only one uncaused cause. You just say it’s true and expect everyone to agree.”

    Not at all. It follows from logic. If there is more than one first or uncaused cause, then one cancels the other, or one is contingent on the other and is not necessary. Therefore, one is not an uncaused cause at all. From logic there is only room for one necessary cause. So then two uncaused (necessary) causes becomes another logical absurdity.

    I think you’re confused with regard to necessity and contingency. The logic only requires (or allows) one necessity and whatever follows is contingent.

    P: “If there is a first cause, then there is at least one instance of something that is not caused. That is not difficult.”

    Here you’re confusing what the cosmological argument actually states.

    1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

    2) The universe began to exist.

    3) Therefore the universe had a cause.

    Since the first cause is uncaused, it did not begin to exist. Therefore, it does not require a cause.

    Therefore, it still follows that there is a necessary first uncaused cause. Everything else is contingent; IOW, everything else began to exist.

    Now besides what you may have read from Victor Stenger and others, the cosmological argument is logically sound. Stenger therefore, approaches such arguments from observation, and claims that quantum events prove the first premise is false. And indeed, several Darwinist supporters attempted and continue to attempt to use this argument on other threads.

    But what Stenger fails to exercise is first principles. He relies upon logic to infer that quantum events prove that some things can have no cause, while at the same time, ignoring the logic behind causality. But he further fails to acknowledge the provisional nature of such observations of quantum events. So in a sense, Stenger holds provisional observation above logic, except when logic serves his interests; which appears to be what you hold as well in this thread and others.

  147. 148

    “Beyond that you have no evidence or attributes to assign to the first cause.”

    Well actually this is false as well. From the logic of the necessary first uncaused cause, one can logically infer a number of attributes, given that things began to exist as a result of a necessary first cause causing them to exist.

    The attributes of a designer are not only found in the Bible; they are also inferred by logic. But that’s another discussion.

  148. Petrushka, I will go ahead and translation a few of your statments in the language of rationality:

    —”Causation is something we observe in our everyday lives, but it cannot be asserted as something that is self-evidently true.”

    [I can observe cause/effect relationships]

    —”There is no logical reason why the sequences of events we observe could not be coincidence, and therse is no definitive test to disprove this hypothesis.”

    [The cause/ effect relationships that I confidently alluded to in the previous paragraph are not necessarily cause/effect relationships after all]

    [I just used the word, "logical," but I have no idea what I mean by that term since I hold that logic has no rules]

  149. #148–”I will go ahead and translate a few of your statements…..

  150. Since the first cause is uncaused, it did not begin to exist.

    That’s known as circular reasoning.

    I could simplify things by asserting that the meta-universe that gives rise to universes like ours did not begin to exist, and therefore needs no cause. This is much more parsimonious and has just as much supporting evidence.

    If you can simply pull assumptions out of thin air, you can prove anything.

  151. 152

    “I could simplify things by asserting that the meta-universe that gives rise to universes like ours did not begin to exist, and therefore needs no cause. This is much more parsimonious and has just as much supporting evidence.”

    Petrushka, it could only be parsimonious if you engage in an apriori assumption of materialism. But then again, it defies logic, because a universe that is finite, which gives rise to other universes, must have begun to exist, particularly if such a universe involves the properties of time and space. but then again, if it does not, it sounds suspiciously like the necessary uncaused cause we are forced to infer by logic. An uncaused cause, that is not finite, does not need to begin to exist.

    So your meta-universe could be the uncaused cause, but it’s properties cannot be anything like the properties of the real universe in which we live, and we can just as well infer the same attributes to such a meta-universe as we currently infer by logic on a designer. If we do that, your universe begins to look more and more like the uncaused designer; attributes and all. So by your argument, you’ve solved nothing. You’re inferring a designer without calling it a designer.

  152. 153

    Me: “Since the first cause is uncaused, it did not begin to exist.”

    P: “That’s known as circular reasoning.”

    No, actually without the word “since,” it would be a tautology, but it’s an argument that what is uncaused does not begin to exist.

    It is a logical argument due to the contention that things that begin to exist can exist without a cause. There is absolutely no evidence that this is the case, and it defies the logic of causality. It further defies the Law of non-contradiction. If something began, something began it. This is a prime directive for doing science, philosophy, history and so on.

    I think you evaded my argument by accusing me of circular reasoning. But it is you who implied that the first cause must have been caused if everything that exists has a cause. I clarified this by stating that everything that “begins” to exist has a cause. By definition, an uncaused cause did not begin to exist, so it is not simply an exception to a rule, but a completely different categorical phenomenon, which I pointed out is “necessity,” vs. contingency. What you are arguing is that everything that exists is contingent, without a necessary first cause. Well since all contingent things (those that begin to exist) require a cause, the only logical inference possible is that there is a necessary first cause that was not itself caused; or just so we’re clear – did not begin to exist. How many other ways must this be stressed before you concede? You’ve tried several angles, and you’ve failed.

  153. “How many other ways must this be stressed before you concede? You’ve tried several angles, and you’ve failed.”

    CY once someone has abandoned reason you cannot expect them to understand an argument that employs reason.

    Hint Petrushka does not accept your first premise everything that begins to exist has a cause.

    Vivid

  154. 155

    Vivid,

    No, I think he provisionally accepts it, or he wouldn’t have postulated his meta-universe argument. He’s trying to find a tweak, which will allow him to keep his apriori metaphysical assumptions.

    I think he accepts that there must be a first uncaused cause, but he truly thinks there’s a materialist tweak, which can avoid the obvious. Hence, postulating a designer in the form of a meta-universe, while not actually calling it a designer. With materialists, certain very elaborate euphemisms substitute for “design” and “designers.” The entire multiverse scheme is one such euphemism. See posts 150 and 151.

  155. 156

    Vivid,

    And the astonishing thing is that they believe (or claim) their very elaborate euphemisms are more parsimonious than design.

  156. I clarified this by stating that everything that “begins” to exist has a cause.

    Repeating yourself doesn’t solve your problem.

    You have a hidden assumption that some kinds of first causes are better than others, and that magic things that do not begin are superior to material things that do not begin.

    It’s all rubbish. You want to believe what you want to believe,and you simply define your terms so you can win.

    If you can get paid for doing that, more power to you. But it’s a childish game, and boring.

  157. petrushka @ 150 “That’s known as circular reasoning.”

    Hardly. It’s called willful ignorance or rejection of reason. Reason is the ultimate authority in matters of truth. If you would disagree with me on this then you would be obligated to give me reason why you believed that reason was inadequate in matters of truth. Do you “get” that? This is not circular reasoning it is a direct experience of reason. We directly experience the truths of reason (first principles) with our minds just like we experience the physical world with our five senses.

    “I could simplify things by asserting that the meta-universe that gives rise to universes like ours did not begin to exist, and therefore needs no cause. This is much more parsimonious and has just as much supporting evidence.”

    This is actually false on a couple of levels. First is the rational level. You have not identified whether or not the “meta-universe” is physical or immaterial. If immaterial, then you have essentially acknowledged God. If material, then you have merely pushed back your explanatory problems by one step. On an empirical level, I would like to suggest to you a “proof” that the universe is finite, and therefore caused (that’s part of what finite means). In order to do this I will refer to the 2nd law of thermodynamics. I’m sure you are familiar with this law. In essence, it says that entropy in a closed system always increases until it reaches a maximum state. The universe is a closed system. I will save you the effort of denying this by citing the 1st law of thermodynamics which says basically says that energy (and by equivalence, matter E=mc^2) can neither be created or destroyed. That means at least that the universe is finite. What the universe is, is all it will ever be. Nobody is adding to the universe.

    I realize that the laws of thermodynamics (nor any other empirical/inductive conclusion of science) do not force a deductive (certain, necessarily true) conclusion. However, I also realize that when science uses the word “law” it means that there has never been an observation that contradicts said law. So although the argument I am about to make does not have a logically necessary conclusion it does have a law of physics necessity about it.

    Here is the argument.

    If the universe was eternal, a maximum state of entropy would have been reached by now. (I hope I don’t have to explain this but I will, if necessary.)

    But a maximum state of entropy has not been reached. (Our sun is still burning, for one.)

    Therefore, the universe is not eternal.

    This is called a modus tollens argument and it is valid. That means that given a necessary connection between the antecedent and the consequent, and true premises, the conclusion necessarily follows. Thus, in order to defeat this argument, which is based on SCIENCE, by the way, and which CONFIRMS the logical argument, you have to deny the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics. Let me suggest that in this case, I hold the upper hand by relying on these laws.

    “If you can simply pull assumptions out of thin air, you can prove anything.”

    You are making a fatal logical mistake here and if you can understand what I am about to say it will improve your reasoning skills considerably.

    Here is the mistake. You say that we “simply pull assumptions out of thin air.” This is not true. Our “assumptions” are based on what cannot be denied, and nothing else. This is something that “you people” cannot seem to grasp or perhaps you are unwilling to grasp because you know it destroys a naturalistic world view. The laws of reason are being, identity, (sometimes just called identity) non-contradiction, (in ontology, something cannot exist and not exist, in epistemology, a truth claim is either true or false) and excluded middle (in ontology something either exists or does not exist and in epistemology something is either true or false).

    These things cannot be denied. You cannot possibly claim that something simultaneously exists and doesn’t exist or is true and false at the same time in the same way. So we are not just making up assumptions or relying upon “faith” or “wishful thinking.” Our arguments begin with WHAT CANNOT RATIONALLY BE DENIED.

    I really hope this helps.

  158. first uncaused cause

    Thats amazing. You define a thing to be beyond criticism, and, lo, it is.

  159. 160

    “You have a hidden assumption that some kinds of first causes are better than others, and that magic things that do not begin are superior to material things that do not begin.”

    “Things that do not begin” sounds more magical than things that exist because they begin by a necessary first cause.

    “Some kinds of first causes?” What do you mean by that? Yes, some kinds of explanations for causality are better than others – ones that follow logic as opposed to ones that do not. There’s no reason for a “hidden assumption” in that.

  160. #157

    The laws of reason are being, identity, (sometimes just called identity) non-contradiction, (in ontology, something cannot exist and not exist, in epistemology, a truth claim is either true or false) and excluded middle (in ontology something either exists or does not exist and in epistemology something is either true or false).

    (1)

    I am interested to see how you prove that there must be a first cause and that first cause is God using these laws alone.

    Looking at the comments above I see these additional assumptions:

    * Every event has at least one cause
    * Everything that is material must begin to exist at some stage
    * An immaterial thing that does not “begin to exist” is God

    (2)
    Actually the whole argument rests on the idea that causality is a well defined relationship between two events. A moments thought reveals that “A caused B” can mean all sorts of different things. Consider a road accident – in different contexts we might say the cause was:

    The weather
    The poorly constructed road
    The driver’s lack of training
    The radio programme that distracted the driver at the crucial moment
    The lack of ABS on this car

    None of these are necessary or sufficient and each has a slightly different relationship to the event. Some are events, some are conditions, some are close in time, some less so.

    I suspect you are going to think this is a red herring – but it isn’t. Until you really get to grips with causality arguments about “first causes” are so much hot air.

  161. Onlookers:

    First, let us ignore for the moment the rude, uncalled for and offensive personal abuse and slander Petrushka resorts to in 143 above. (A sure sign of the third phase of the standard tactic of the ideologised, closed mind: distractive red herrings dragged out to caricatured strawmen laced with ad hominems and now ignited to cloud, confuse, choke, polarise and poison the atmosphere in order to frustrate discussion on the merits.)

    Let us therefore note on the merits that P has chosen to resort to abuse to disguise the fact that he cannot counter the raw fact that Shapiro and Orgel in their exchange of articles a few years ago, committed mutual fratricide of the genes first and metabolism first schools of thought on OOL research. Shapiro being a champion of the latter, and Orgel a late champion of the former putting out a posthumous rejoinder. Let us not forget that context on the merits: there is no credible chemical basis for an RNA world to spontaneously form, and there is no credible basis for metabolic reaction sets to form under plausible pre-life conditions. But, at all costs [including resort to utterly rude incivility], the ideologised, closed mind CANNOT acknowledge that unwelcome fact.

    So, P owes us all an apology, but sadly, probably will not find the humility to give one.

    Having noted that, it is ever so interesting to see how as a standard tactic, darwinist objectors will do all in their power to use tangential issue after tangential issue to divert threads of discussion from a focus they cannot cogently address on the merits.

    The proper answer to that trollish tactic of thread-jacking [and yes, that is what it is], is to insist that discussions be relevant and repeatedly refocus on the topical issue.

    In this case, that is the point that:

    a: if we look at the logical possibility that –on empirical evidence of credibly reliable signs of design — it is true that living things [especially the cell] appears designed for the excellent reason that it is, and

    b: multiply by the tactic that would inject a priori materialism as a constraint that “definitionally” locks this possibility out from being regarded as “science,” then

    c: what this reveals is not a fault with a as a process of empirically based investigation, but a fault with b that amounts to violation of the keystone value of science that it should seek the truth about our world.

    So, the issue is not whether we LABEL something as “science” — which after all is an anfglicised form of the Latin for “knowledge,” which in practical terms is well-warranted and credibly [even if provisionally so] true belief” — but whether our empirically anchored kno3ledge claims are well warranted and credibly true. Inter alia that means that we cannot tolerate teh sort of censoring, ideologically question-begging a prioris that b just above illustrates.

    That gives us a useful background for understanding P’s latest tactic, in , on how he tries to deflect six decades of consistent failure to trigger the spontaneous emergence of information and organisation of cell-based life from molecular scale random thermal agitation/motion and related effects and physico-chemical forces in various equivalents to Darwin’s warm little pond:

    Your conclusion is that because research is hard, long and tedious, that it isn’t worth doing?

    That’s the Barbie Doll approach to science . . . [offensive slanders omitted]

    1 –> This is an outright lie, false words put into my mouth that do not belong there; in order to try to make it out that I am “anti-scientific.”

    2 –> The best counter is to again put on the table the point I have been raising since no 38 above, on how the project of origins science is inescapably constrained by the undeniable fact that we were not there in the remote past of origins, and so have to try to plausibly and provisionally reconstruct it based on what we see as causal patterns in the present,reasonable initial circumstances, and resulting unfolding dynamics.

    3 –> Such a reconstruction is inherently provisional, far moreso than an experimental science, where we can set up situations in the lab and direclty observe what happens.

    4 –> As a result, we have no right to ever claim that origins science reconstructions are anything like an actual history. Which is the precise error P made which I pointed out above, in 140; and which correction immediately led to his rude outburst.

    5 –> So, let us remind ourselves yet again of the key points from comment 38 above, which cite what is probably the first recorded discussion of the central epistemological challenge faced by origins science initiatives:

    12 –> Now, one of the challenges on origin of life is that whenever and wherever it happened, it happened in a deep past we cannot observe, nor do we have generally accepted records. That is the source of the sting in Job when YHWH speaks out of the storm in ch 38:

    1 . . . the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
    2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
    with words without knowledge?
    3 Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand . . .

    13 –> Plainly, this is a very good and deep challenge to the project of origins science.

    14 –> The best answer we can give is that once (i) we can establish an empirically reliable pattern in the present, (ii) we can observe traces of the past in the present, and (iii) we can see a credible set of initial circumstances that through those patterns would give rise to sufficiently similar traces, (iv) we may scientifically infer on best explanation, that the suggested circumstances and dynamics are a credible — albeit inevitably provisional — origins narrative.

    15 –> Of course, one thing that we have no right to do, is to claim that such an inferential reconstruction is a fact beyond reasonable dispute or doubt. (Sadly, it is necessary to note this, as there is a tendency to over-claim the factual basis for evolutionary theories of origins.)

    16 –> Coming back from epistemological underpinnings (and yes, science inescapably rests on philosophical foundations), we can note that there is a clear, empirically reliable pattern concerning dFSCI: it is a sign that — per a massive base of observations and without a credible counterexample that can stand basic scrutiny — reliably points to directed contingency as its origin.

    6 –> How does P try to counter this? By insinuating that I am suggesting that if we cannot solve a problem in 10 minutes [i.e. the required to put up a shortish blog comment] then I want “science” abandoned.

    7 –> Subtext: by “science,” P actually means the ideologised Lewontinian paradigm, by which only that which is a priori materialistic can count as “scientific.” Which of course as I point out here, sacrifices the core commitment of science to seeking the truth about our world in light of empirical evidence. The very commitment that won for science its respect in the community.

    7 –> The issue, plainly is not that research that is hard, long and tedious is not worth doing [the slander-soaked strawman he would put in my mouth . . . ], but that science should not be fettered by a priori ideological materialistic censorship that blocks inference from observed causal patterns that explains a phenomenon that is otherwise intractable, for many decades now.

    8 –> And in that cause, he [and others] would love to ditch the key basic principle of reasoning that that which begins to exist or can cease from existing has a cause.

    9 –> Because, in the end, they would love to have us suitably un-curious as to how digitally coded, functionally specific complex information and the associated organised molecular nanotechnology came to be in the heart of cell based life on earth; given the only observed and empirically credible source for such technologies: directed contingency, aka art, aka intelligence capable of using language and related techniques.

    10 –> And that too is a subtext for much of what happens above on the inference from a contingent cosmos to a cause that is a necessary being. (And, of course there are assumptions in all arguments, the issue is to put them on the table of comparative difficulties; where at once the notion that things happen out of nothing, nowhere, for no reason begins to look just a little absurd. In short, one may indeed choose to reject causality, but only to find oneself on a sticky wicket indeed. BTW, once one sits down to comparative difficulties across competing live option worldviews, the credibility of rebuttals on claims of circularity and of question-begging hidden assumptions, evaporates. No prizes for guessing why objectors to the inference form causality to a necessary being usually wish to shoot barrages of objections but as a rule will not put up their alternative for open comparative difficulties assessment.)

    _________________

    GEM of TKI

  162. F/N: It is useful to hear what Shapiro and Orgel — actual leading experts and champions of respectively the metabolism first and gens first schools of thought who spent decades in the field — actually have to say in their recent articles on OOL (and it is well worth the time to read the complete articles, which fill in many details that amplify the core points excerpted below):

    ________________

    >> [[Shapiro:] RNA’s building blocks, nucleotides contain a sugar, a phosphate and one of four nitrogen-containing bases as sub-subunits. Thus, each RNA nucleotide contains 9 or 10 carbon atoms, numerous nitrogen and oxygen atoms and the phosphate group, all connected in a precise three-dimensional pattern . . . . [[S]ome writers have presumed that all of life’s building could be formed with ease in Miller-type experiments and were present in meteorites and other extraterrestrial bodies. This is not the case.

    A careful examination of the results of the analysis of several meteorites led the scientists who conducted the work to a different conclusion: inanimate nature has a bias toward the formation of molecules made of fewer rather than greater numbers of carbon atoms, and thus shows no partiality in favor of creating the building blocks of our kind of life . . . .

    To rescue the RNA-first concept from this otherwise lethal defect, its advocates have created a discipline called prebiotic synthesis. They have attempted to show that RNA and its components can be prepared in their laboratories in a sequence of carefully controlled reactions, normally carried out in water at temperatures observed on Earth . . . .

    Unfortunately, neither chemists nor laboratories were present on the early Earth to produce RNA . . .

    [[Orgel:] If complex cycles analogous to metabolic cycles could have operated on the primitive Earth, before the appearance of enzymes or other informational polymers, many of the obstacles to the construction of a plausible scenario for the origin of life would disappear . . . .

    It must be recognized that assessment of the feasibility of any particular proposed prebiotic cycle must depend on arguments about chemical plausibility, rather than on a decision about logical possibility [Cf Abel on plausibility!] . . . few would believe that any assembly of minerals on the primitive Earth is likely to have promoted these syntheses in significant yield . . . . Why should one believe that an ensemble of minerals that are capable of catalyzing each of the many steps of [[for instance] the reverse citric acid cycle was present anywhere on the primitive Earth [[8], or that the cycle mysteriously organized itself topographically on a metal sulfide surface [[6]? . . . Theories of the origin of life based on metabolic cycles cannot be justified by the inadequacy of competing theories: they must stand on their own . . . .

    The prebiotic syntheses that have been investigated experimentally almost always lead to the formation of complex mixtures. Proposed polymer replication schemes are unlikely to succeed except with reasonably pure input monomers. No solution of the origin-of-life problem will be possible until the gap between the two kinds of chemistry is closed. Simplification of product mixtures through the self-organization of organic reaction sequences, whether cyclic or not, would help enormously, as would the discovery of very simple replicating polymers. However, solutions offered by supporters of geneticist or metabolist scenarios that are dependent on “if pigs could fly” hypothetical chemistry are unlikely to help. [[Emphases added.] >>
    _________________

    In short, the chemistry is speaking loud and clear: NEITHER RNA-FIRST NOR METABOLISM-FIRST SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT ARE CHEMICALLY PLAUSIBLE ON HE ACTUAL EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE WE CAN OBSERVE. No wonder, science writer was moved to conclude (much like Berlinski as already cited):

    . . . Scientists have come a long way from the early days of supposing that all this would inevitably arise in the “prebiotic soup” of the ancient oceans; indeed, evidence eventually argued against such a soup, and the concept was largely discarded as the field progressed. But significant problems persist with each of the two competing models that have arisen—usually called “genes first” and “metabolism first”—and neither has emerged as a robust and obvious favorite. [["Jump-Starting a Cellular World: Investigating the Origin of Life, from Soup to Networks." Emphases added.]

    When we look at the actual digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information and organsied implementing machinery in eh cell, without materialistic blinkers, the answer jumps out: the cell is a technology.

    And, what harm would come from such a conclusion?

    Would science stop and the labs for research get closed? No, we would have the real job ahead: reverse engineering life — the job has just begun — and putting its technologies to use.

    Would our civilisation get overturned and lose its values? No, we would return to the historically dominant pattern of thought in our civilisation, a design oriented view of our world. We know from history that modern science was born within that worldivew. And we know form the history of ideas that if anything, values would find a firmer foundation in a world friendly to design thought. (Evolutionary materialism, ever since 360 BC, has been known to be inherently amoral and tending to nihilism.)

    So, the real problem is that today’s reigning orthodoxy of a priori, ideological materialism is being challenged and has no real answers on the merits, so it is calling for ever more doses of blind faith and zeal, while suppressing dissent in the most uncivil fashion.

    All of which are signs of collapse looming ahead.

    Probably within 20 years, it will all be over.

    So, it is time to continue to build information age science and to put up the mirror of unwelcome truth to the magisterium in Lab coats.

    Soon enough, the desperate pumping actions will fail and the holes in the waterline will sink the unsound ship of ideologised a priori materialism lurking in a lab coat and speaking in the name of science.

    ((Sometimes, only mixed metaphors will get a point across.)

    GEM of TKI

  163. F/N 2: MF’s remarks on causality and origins are worth excerpting and remarking on:

    I am interested to see how you prove that there must be a first cause and that first cause is God using these laws alone.

    Looking at the comments above I see these additional assumptions:

    * Every event has at least one cause
    * Everything that is material must begin to exist at some stage
    * An immaterial thing that does not “begin to exist” is God

    (2)Actually the whole argument rests on the idea that causality is a well defined relationship between two events. A moments thought reveals that “A caused B” can mean all sorts of different things . . .

    1 –> Of course the material issue is not the cosmological argument to God as such, but the issue that contingency necessitates necessity.

    2 –> MF then twists the causality principle into EVERYTHING has at least one cause. Inexcusable in a trained philosopher as he knows or should know that the principle, properly but simply stated, is that that which begins to exist or can cease from existing — i.e. is contingent — has a cause.

    3 –> Where, it is important to identify as well that cause comes in two primary flavours: necessary and sufficient, though contributory causes are also a relevant issue.

    4 –> To see the significance of this distinction, consider a burning match: each of heat, oxidiser and fuel are necessary and they are jointly sufficient. Remove any necessary factor and the flame ceases to exist, Absent the sufficient factors, the flame will not begin to exist. [Observe, that this is using a concrete example to help us understand that which is self-evident.]

    5 –> In short MF here has already begged the question, setting up a strawman caricature. (There is a similar strawman caricature lurking in the notion that one is trying to prove on principles of logic alone!)

    6 –> Similarly, MF twists the issue of the credible contingency of the observed material cosmos, into an implicit suggestion that matter in some form may be eternal.

    7 –> To sustain this, he neatly ignores the key point already raised, that by 2nd law of thermodynamics [anchored on implications of credibly undirected contingencies of distributions of mass and energy at microscale, i.e laws of probability across macrostates with differing statistical weights of microstates] energy is becoming steadily less available for interactions and change, i.e high-quality energy sources tend to steadily deteriorate. (As I show here,on Clausius, an energy-importing system normally accelerates its rate of deterioration, save if there is a structure that can couple the energy and put it to useful work. When those structures are FSCI-rich, they of course routinely come from design.]

    8 –> So, if the cosmos as a whole is material and closed, and eternal, it should already have reached so-called heat death. manifestly, it has not, or we would not be here discussing. So, the cosmos as a whole has a finite duration since its beginning; is contingent, and has a cause. (And this is before we get to the observations on our sub-cosmos that point to its definite beginning at a certain point perhaps some 13.7 BYA.)

    9 –> So, now we have the alternative view that things can begin to exist from nothing, nowhere, for no reason, i.e without cause. But in fact, we already see that his would result in a chaos not a cosmos, i.e the very intelligibility of our world that grounds science is an immediate and insuperable difficulty.

    10 –> Sometimes, as in recent weeks here, quantum phenomena are held to be counter-examples. But (per he existence of Quantum theory as a field of science) these phenomena and objects follow definite intelligible laws, are constrained by definite necessary causal factors that find expression in those laws [think energy conservation and the energy-time version of uncertainty], and happen in a where at a when. They are just the opposite of acausal.

    11 –> As tot he notion that an immaterial necessary being is by that fact “God,” that has not been the proper focus of the argument, i.e we see here a bot of loading to appeal to anti-supernaturalistic prejudice. We are simply establishing the reason why a contingent material cosmos logically requires a necessary being — as yet unspecified as to particular nature — as its explanation and cause. (God is a candidate to be that being [to be given a job interview later on: e.g. what is responsible for the evident fine-tuning of our observed contingent cosmos for C-Chemistry, cell based life?], certainly, but that is a very different point, and that is surely not an unwarranted assumption.)

    12 –> to the suggestion that cause is an ill-defined idea,we have of course given an experience-based clarification of the concept of cause per a case of a match, so that we see the significance of the distinction between necessary and sufficient causal factors.

    13 –> We may also use this and other examples to mark the difference between chance, mechanical necessity and directed contingency as distinct, distinguishable causal factors. All of this has repeatedly been done, and is being conveniently brushed aside. (Was a certain fire the result of predictable and inexorable deterioration of insulation leading to short circuit, to a freak accident that shorted out a light switch or arson?)

    14 –> So, while cause can indeed mean all sorts of things, that does not mean that cause is unintelligible or fundamentally confused and meaningless. Let’s take MF’s case, which relies on contributory factors:

    Consider a road accident – in different contexts we might say the cause was:

    The weather
    The poorly constructed road
    The driver’s lack of training
    The radio programme that distracted the driver at the crucial moment
    The lack of ABS on this car

    None of these are necessary or sufficient and each has a slightly different relationship to the event.

    16 –> But, once an accident has occurred, it had a beginning, and it had logically and causally prior factors that contributed to its existence. Without sufficient causal factors, there would have been no accident in this particular case — and observe how vague the list is. Absent necessary factors, there COULD have been no particular — not generic, cause is about specifics — accident. That has not been undermined, but exemplified.

    17 –> For instance, a wet poorly lit and badly cambered road with a sharp bend overlooking a precipice at night, multiplied by an unfamiliar, tired and inexperienced driver of an old crate without proper anti-skid brakes, listening to the DJ on the radio when he should have been attending to the dangerous road adds up to a convincingly sufficient and intelligible causal account of the accident that sent a carload of teenagers over a cliff. (And this is uncomfortably close to the notorious Spur Tree Hill road in Jamaica, especially in he bad old days. I lost a classmate in Physics over that road’s precipice.)

    18 –> In short, the case supports the concept of the cumulative effect of necessary and sufficient causal factors. No car, no accident. No road, no accident. No driver, no accident. No cluster of sufficient conditions [as described], no accident.

    19 –> MF then tries to dismiss:

    None of these are necessary or sufficient

    –> Whoever said that just one factor must be sufficient? Or, necessary? [And what about the obvious necessary factors you did not list?]

    and each has a slightly different relationship to the event. Some are events, some are conditions, some are close in time, some less so.

    –> irrelevant

    I suspect you are going to think this is a red herring – but it isn’t.

    –> it is manifestly a strawman, which is a species of red herring

    Until you really get to grips with causality arguments about “first causes” are so much hot air.

    –> this conveniently ignores the fact that for quite a long time causality has been explored in detail at UD, and that the issue of necessary and sufficient causal factors was specifically put in place above in this thread

    –> So this is a dismissive begging of the question

    ________

    This aptly illustrates how it is easy to object to the inference from contingency and cause to a necessary being, but it is a lot harder to stand up to the bar of comparative difficulties.

    GEM of TKI

  164. PS: I forget MF’s usual excuse — he “never” looks at comments I have made, as in his opinion they are too long. So, he has no right to dismiss the argument on claimed grounds that it has not looked at the relevant issues and factors. (And I hope the above point by point allows the onlooker to see why it is that posts of a certain length are often required at UD to deal with issues on substance, in the teeth of superficially persuasive but specious objections.)

  165. F/N: on an insinuation with a little trap in it.

    Just to set P’s heart at ease . . .

    Most physicists do not keep a lose memory of precise dates for scientists (and prof D, I never did memorise the list of Physics Nobel Prize winners . . . ), but instead think on the flow of ideas and evidence. (If I need dates I can consult the Sci History works in my library.)

    Copernicus resurrected Aristarchus’ heliocentric view, cutting down the number of cycles in the Ptolemaic scheme from about 80 to about 40, publishing in 1543 as I recall. (On the Revolution of heavenly bodies, which is the source of our historical-political term revolution, due to its impact.)

    By the turn of the 1600′s Tycho Brahe and Kepler were making and analysing observations which led to the three Keplerian laws about 1609 – 19 or so. Brahe had a 1/2 way house theory and Kepler was a full copernican; some have accused K of foul play to get the data he used, Probably case not proved. Galileo, same general time, heard of a telescope from Holland, then made his own Galilean [diverging ocular], and used it to look at heavenly bodies. His view of the Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter made the Heliocentric system much more plausible.

    For that matter, even the erroneous estimate of the sun’s relative distance and size from Aristarchus was it c 200 BC made heliocentrism more reasonable than geocentrism, but ran against the tide of prevalent opinion among the learned as much as the common folk: earth as the SUMP of the universe, with perfect heavens. (Cf my remarks here.)

    Newton’s annus mirabilis [Latinists, help?] in the mid 1660′s and publication of Principia [funded by I think Halley] mid 1680′s cemented the new system of the world. Across C18 – 19, it was built upon, with Laplace’s Celestiasl Mechanics being perhaps the crowning achievement. Then turn of 1880′s with Michelson-Morley and onwards other issues over spectroscopy etc, the Newtonian Synthesis with augmentation of maxwell’s c 1870 Electromagnetism, began to falter. From 1900 with Planck and 1905 with Einstein, to c, 1930 with the Copenhagen synthesis, with 1919′s Eddington observations that confirmed GTR on gravitational lenses along the way, the modern framework was born. Perhaps as important was the 1911 – 13 Hertzprung-Russell study of stars on magnitude vs colour/temp, and the exposition of GTR into cosmology by Friedman of Russia and Fr Lemaitre of Belgium, backed up by Hubble’s observations on the 100 inch Wilson scope.

    Across the period to the late 1940′s atomic and particle physics emerged, and of course onward we had the 4-forces view and the joining of electroweak, rise of Quantum Chromodynamics, recent issues on strings and branes, etc etc.

    But all of that is just to show flow of ideas. P is simply being rude to suggest by insinuation that I do not know any physics of consequence. I think he will easily confirm from the always linked note that the particular perspectives on information (including my insistence on adapting the Shannon system model, which will be instantly familiar to my former students — much more easily adapted to analysing how protocols and modulations work; just as how I never bothered with hand rules but simply went straight to the Lorentz force and used an old CRO on XY mode to show how a bar magnet would pull the electron beam’s screen-spot around with it as it rotates . . . CRT TV’s, Motors, generators, galvanometers, Hall effect devices etc in one go . . . actually simpler than the hand rules, and opens the door to pointing out that magnetic field effects are relativistic [why is a force associated with a SPEED of charges? --check out Yavorsky, Pinsky and Detlaf on that]) and the significance of signal to noise ratio and on the particular view of the significance of Clausius’s first canonical example are mine. That is, I am synthesizing for myself the links from key issues to the question now on the table, the value and credibility of the inference to design on signs.

    Whether or not P likes it, a new view on the physical significance of complex functional information and associated organization is emerging. And, physics has somewhat to say to it. Brillouin was a harbinger, and so was Maxwell with his little demon; as Jaynes and Harry Robertson remind.

    GEM of TKI

  166. If the universe was eternal, a maximum state of entropy would have been reached by now.

    Ignoring my proposition regarding the meta-universe, and ignoring most of the last half century of physics. It’s fairly common for physicist to regard the sum of all energies in our visible universe as equal to zero. One possible implication is that universes are transient phenomenta, much as are particles formed from virtual particles.

    The “Laws” of thermodynamics are derived from observation, not from any first principles.

    My point is that your axioms are not derived from first principles, but are intuitions based on experience, and could be wrong.

  167. —Petrushka: “My point is that your axioms are not derived from first principles, but are intuitions based on experience, and could be wrong.”

    First principles are, by definition, based on reason, not experience. Second, the law of non-contradiction is not something that is “derived from a first principle,” it is, itself, a first principle from which reasonable conclusions may be derived.

    Sadly, you don’t even understand the position that you trying to argue against, which explains why you posit that theists believe in a God which “came out of nowhere.” Its really quite remarakable.

  168. All of which are signs of collapse looming ahead.

    Probably within 20 years, it will all be over.

    http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/demise.html

    You keep those predictions coming.

  169. GEM – I continue to be amazed.

    Petrushka – I continue to be amazed. No, really, I do. It’s stunning.

  170. First principles are, by definition, based on reason, not experience.

    Attribute of existence are derived from experience.

    Concepts like time or entropy or beginning to exist are all derived from experience.

  171. But all of that is just to show flow of ideas. P is simply being rude to suggest by insinuation that I do not know any physics of consequence.

    I would think the definition of rudeness would include lying about what other people have said.

    What I said is you have no perspective on the history of science. You look at failed conjectures and conclude that problems cannot be solved.

    Perhaps your 20 year prediction will be added to the Imminent Demise list, assuming anyone notices.

  172. tgpeeler

    “Petrushka – I continue to be amazed. No, really, I do. It’s stunning.”

    At some point all of us have to believe what we see not what we hope is there.

    I have come to the conclusion that Petrushka is either

    1) To stupid to understand the arguments presented to him or her in which case we are wasting bandwidth engaging him or her.

    2) Since he or she has abandoned reason we cannot expect Petrushka to be swayed by arguments based on reason. If this is the case then we are wasting bandwidth engaging him or her.

    3) Petrushka is a troll in which case we are wasting bandwidth engaging him or her.

    Bottom line we are wasting bandwidth engaging him or her.

    My suggestion is “don’t feed the troll” Perhaps for onlookers someone can put some kind of boiler plate, including links, that is an automatic response every time Petrushka says something stupid, which in Petrushkas case is every time he or she posts.

    Vivid

  173. Petrushka:

    This is enough.

    No-one who had any common decency or respect would address me as you did in 143 above.

    I cite you, so all can see exactly what you have done, and in what arrogant and utterly disrespectful, disdainful tone of voice and manner:

    . . . You have a bottomless ignorance of the history of science and absolutely no perspective. Anything that takes longer tha ten seconds is beyond your attention span.

    How many years passed between Copernicus and Newton? Newton and Einstein?

    Similarly, you have added to your slanders and disrespect above now the false accusation of lying.

    Sorry, you have now removed yourself from the circle of civil discourse. Even if you did not consciously intend the above directly as an embarrassing demand from the presumed ignorant, the tone and context sink you. You know or should know that you can have no right to speak to another person like that, much less in what is a public forum. (In a seminar room, you would be asking to be invited to strip off your coat and glasses and step outside.)

    Shame on you.

    I hope you can find it in yourself to apologise when you come to your senses.

    Good day, sir.

    Onlookers: let the record reflect that on substance Petrushka has shown himself utterly unable to reasonably address either the matter in the main, or the significant incidental matters that have come up.

    It is the uncivil attitude, rudely arrogant tone and inability to address the merits that we see so exemplified that will with high probability go that one step too far within the next two decades [if so long], that will finally sink the credibility of Darwinism-dominated science institutions.

    Sustained cover ups are no longer possible in an Internet age [so history is speeding up dramatically, again]; and sooner rather than later, persistently slanderous mischaracterisations of dissenters will predictably backfire.

    Sadly, the above attitude is far too typical [cf the Weak Argument Correctives], and it is time for the ordinary person to weigh in and say decisively, enough is enough.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  174. Vivid:

    You are right, it is time P took a little trip to Coventry.

    G

    TGP:

    Thanks

    G

  175. It seems to be against the rules here to say that someone is deficient in historical perspective.

    Even with evidence.

    You keep making five and ten and twenty year plans, and refuse to confront the fact that this has been going on since the nineteenth century.

    But why would you make it twenty, when the current UD prediction only has four more years to go?

  176. 177

    Petrushka,

    Perhaps your 20 year prediction will be added to the Imminent Demise list, assuming anyone notices.

    I always find it amusing when folks on your side make statements about “anyone noticing” or “anyone caring” anything that may happen by folks that support ID. You notice. Everyone at After the Asylum Closes notices what may happen here, yet every once in a while, I see an argument from your side implying that “no one will notice” or that “no one will be aware”. But the folks making the argument are aware, and they do notice. Just go look at their site as how much they notice, they’re positively obsessed with us here at UD. What’s interesting is that we talk about ideas here, they talk about us there. I had a friend tell me once that great minds discuss ideas, small minds discuss other people.

  177. 178

    Petrushka,

    Concepts like time or entropy or beginning to exist are all derived from experience.

    They are, in the last resort, an inference. All experience is sensory perception specially arranged and made intelligible by inference. Experience doesn’t create first principles. If you didn’t already have first principles, you couldn’t make sense out of experience. The external world is only an intelligible world because one has the ability of inference in the first place. You remove the powers of inference and you remove any ability to make sense out of the external world. So what are the powers of inference based on? First principles.

  178. 179

    Petrushka,

    My point is that your axioms are not derived from first principles, but are intuitions based on experience, and could be wrong.

    All observations of nature could be wrong, but this is all that someone like you has to go on, observations of nature. You really do hang your hat on them, thus you really would be committed to many sinking ships.

    “It is not, as some seem to fancy, that we think there is anything particularly Christian about electrons, any more than there is anything essentially atheistic about atoms. It is not that we propose to base our philosophy on their physics; any more than to base our ancient theology on their most recent biology. We are not “going to the country” with a set of slogans or party-cries, like Electrons for the Elect, or For Priest and Proton. The catastrophic importance for Catholics, of this collapse of materialism, is simply the fact that the most confident cosmic statements of science can collapse. If fifty years hence the electron is as entirely exploded as the atom, it will not affect us; for we have never founded our philosophy on the electron any more than on the atom. But the materialists did found their philosophy on the atom. And it is quite likely that some spiritual fad or other is at this moment being founded on the electron. To a man of my generation, the importance of the change does not consist in its destroying the dogma (which was after all a detail, though a very dogmatic dogma), “Matter consists of indivisible atoms.” But it does consist in its destroying the accepted, universal and proclaimed and popularised dogma: “You must accept the conclusions of science.” Scores and hundreds of times I have heard, through my youth and early manhood, the repetition of that ultimatum: “You must accept the conclusions of science.” And it is that notion or experience that has now been concluded; or rather excluded. Whatever else is questionable, there is henceforth no question of anybody “accepting” the conclusions of science. The new scientists themselves do not ask us to accept the conclusions of science. The new scientists themselves do not accept the conclusions of the new science. To do them justice, they deny vigorously that science has concluded; or that it has, in that sense, any conclusion. The finest intellects among them repeat, again and again, that science is inconclusive.”

    G. K. Chesterton, The Well and the Shallows
    http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/book.....allows.txt

  179. 180

    Petrushka,

    If one uncaused caused exists, then one cannot logically assert that causation is necessary.

    Sure one can, the alternative is an infinite regress, and that is impossible. It is most certainly logical that the buck stopped somewhere.

  180. 181

    Petrushka,

    Variation plus selection comprise a learning algorithm, and are therefore an instance of “intelligence.”

    That would mean that the watchmaker was not blind. And secondly, it would have to have something to be intelligent about, and that would necessitate information, the kind that Dembski and Marks evidence in their Evolutionary Informatics Lab. This is straightforward ID research.

  181. That would mean that the watchmaker was not blind.

    No, the “blindness” refers to lack of foresight.

    evolution operates by hindsight, evalutating products after they’re made.

    That’s what it means to learn by trial and error. (Although that’s not a particularly apt phrase.)

    That’s the basis of the joke:

    Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement.

    It’s quite possible to accumulate information without having foresight.

  182. They are, in the last resort, an inference. All experience is sensory perception specially arranged and made intelligible by inference.

    Inferred things are subject to error. Time, as studied by physicists, has non-intuitive characteristics. I’s not even certain whether time is continuous or discontinuous.

    At any rate, the concept that things “begin to exist” is based entirely on observation, and rather limited observation at that. There’s
    no first principle or law of physics that prevents the existence of a viewpoint from which time is a static dimension.

  183. 184

    Petrushka,

    No, the “blindness” refers to lack of foresight.

    I realize that, as the myth of evolution would like to claim. But in reality there still is a watch that is being worked towards being made. And so here, there is something that is being worked towards, otherwise it is not actually making anything.

    evolution operates by hindsight, evalutating products after they’re made.

    So it’s not blind? Hindsight is a type of sight….

    That’s the basis of the joke:

    Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement.

    The basis of the “joke”, which isn’t really a joke, is that we learn from our experiences, but if we were building something based from this knowledge, we must have something in mind, otherwise the good judgments and bad experiences would be utterly meaningless.

  184. 185

    Petrushka,

    Inferred things are subject to error. Time, as studied by physicists, has non-intuitive characteristics. I’s not even certain whether time is continuous or discontinuous.

    Then everything observed in the physical world is subject to error, which I would agree with. But first principles are not subject to error. Laws of reason and logic are not subject to error, (we may make an error when reasoning, but we can only determine it as an error by comparison to good reasoning, but this can never be used as an argument against reason) but observations of the natural world which are made intelligible by inference are subject to error because the external world is a mystery. We do not possess knowledge of the reasonableness of it’s inner synthesis as we do a logical axiom. That one thing follows another in reason, we can full well understand the necessity of why it must, that one thing follows another in the physical world, we cannot understand why it must in the same way, all we can say is that in our observations it does. But observations of nature do not amount to knowledge of a proscription of why it must be the way it is. And intuition really has nothing to do with it.

  185. I realize that, as the myth of evolution would like to claim. But in reality there still is a watch that is being worked towards being made.

    If nothing else we’ve arrived at the place where mainstream biology and ID part ways.

    Everything in biology is consistent with incremental change. There are no designs in biology mirroring the kinds of engineering that humans do, in which parts are brought together from distant branches of the tree.

    You can see this in industrial design, in which an invention in home entertainment will show up in automobile entertainment.

    You can see it in genetic engineering, where animal genes are spliced into plants or bacteria.

    Evolution can’t do that. The designer of life operates in a way that makes all living things look like they are related by descent, with tiny, incremental modifications along the way.

  186. Onlookers:

    After seeing a client . . .

    It seems Petrushka is unwilling and/or unable to acknowledge the seriousness and incivility of what he has said, much less apologise.

    (And in trying to get in yet another ill-advised dig, he seems to have overlooked how I passed over 200 years from the 1680′s to 1880′s with barely a reference [the era in which inter alia electricity, physical optics, [valve] electronics, energy and atoms began to emerge to prominence . . . but these are second tier issues], that I highlighted the two major revolutions in Physics, and that I have pointed the single most serious effort that could have yielded a general “theory of everything” in the past 80 years.)

    Sadly, the behaviour is unsurprising. But, it underscores the basic incivility problem.

    By now, too it should be clear that he resort to slanders and distortions is a sign that the evolutionary materialist case has actually already been lost on the merits, once the implications of information have increasingly come to bear. Diehards and Magisteria may fulminate all they want, but the real issue on the merits is over.

    All that is left is for the wedge of truth to act with full force. And, that is begining to tell, especially as more and more people wake up to how science has increasingly become an ideologised academic welfare programme; including science.

    Sacrificing integrity for power has a consequence and that day of not choices but consequences is now at hand.

    (It’s like 1979 with the Marxists: the last to know that the grand charge has peaked and failed are those caught up in it. My question is: who are today’s Walensas, Woytilas, Thatchers and Reagans?)

    GEM of TKI

  187. PS: I should point out on Electronics that the above timeline is a little skewed. Vacuum tubes — A, K, cathode and canal rays etc, were research toys, but the real wave of practical electronics is turn of century.

  188. 189

    Petrushka,

    Everything in biology is consistent with incremental change.

    Not by a long shot.

    There are no designs in biology mirroring the kinds of engineering that humans do

    Have you not looked at the motor of the flagellum? The turbine engine written about by Jonathan Wells? The data storage in DNA? Even things as simple as the ball and socket configuration of our bones? Veins as a pipeline? The eye as a camera? Hair as a coat or jacket?

    The designer of life operates in a way that makes all living things look like they are related by descent, with tiny, incremental modifications along the way.

    Not even close. The banana tree and the oyster do not look related by tiny incremental modifications along the way.

  189. Have you not looked at the motor of the flagellum?

    The motor of the flagellum uses no more than two proteins not known to exist in other microbes.

    The proteins comprising the flagellum are used in various subsets for less capable cilia, and for various other functions unrelated to locomotion.

    The simple fact is that complex structures are made of bits and pieces that are severable, and which are used in subsets for other purposes.

  190. vividbleu @ 173

    Good advice. I’m going to give it one more try, though! :-)

  191. —Petrushka: “Attribute of existence are derived from experience.”

    So, you think that your intellect, will, and consciousness are derived from your experience, do you? You would have us believe that experience precedes the existence of the human attributes that makes experience possible?

    —”Concepts like time or entropy or beginning to exist are all derived from experience.”

    So, now it is “concepts” is it. A moment ago, it was “attributes.” Do you not understand that a concept, which is associated with our perceptions, is not the same thing as an attribute, which is the thing perceived.

    Whatever books you might be reading, please, for your own sake–please, before it is too late– burn those books and start reading something by G. K. Chesterton or C. S. Lewis. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  192. To Petrushka,

    I have a couple of questions for you. First of all, upon what basis do you ascribe truth to anything? Is it experience only?

    I tried this once before several months ago. On or about post number 30 something I opined that materialists, in my experience, were unwilling to make serious intellectual commitments.

    I was immediately castigated by one of them for being rude.

    I offered an apology if only she would prove me wrong by making said commitments, i.e. first principles or whatever passes for such in their worldview.

    At post 400 I retired with no commitments in hand. (others posted too, it wasn’t just us, in case anybody hadn’t figured that out)

    So, Petrushka, the challenge to you is to come out and say, like a grown up, what your fundamental metaphysical commitments are. What are the basic assumptions you make that allow you to conclude the things you do? The reason I don’t think you will do this is simple. Because once you do it you are doomed, and you know it. That’s why you won’t do it. Your worldview is self-contradictory. Therefore, you can never, ever, make your assumptions, or axioms, explicit. Once you do, the walls come tumbling down.

    Prove me wrong.

  193. 194

    So, you think that your intellect, will, and consciousness are derived from your experience, do you? You would have us believe that experience precedes the existence of the human attributes that makes experience possible?

    You tell him, guy. I, for one, know I didn’t evolve from any lower life form like a monkey.

  194. 195

    Petrushka,

    The simple fact is that complex structures are made of bits and pieces that are severable, and which are used in subsets for other purposes.

    Compare that to this statement you made:

    There are no designs in biology mirroring the kinds of engineering that humans do, in which parts are brought together from distant branches of the tree.

    You can see this in industrial design, in which an invention in home entertainment will show up in automobile entertainment.

    You can see it in genetic engineering, where animal genes are spliced into plants or bacteria.

    Evolution can’t do that.

    Which is it?

  195. I have a couple of questions for you. First of all, upon what basis do you ascribe truth to anything? Is it experience only?

    I think in order to pursue this dialog we would first have to establish some common ground, and I doubt if that’s possible.

    I made a mistake thinking I could retain my composure in this kind of debate. My mistake, and I’m paying the price in moderation.

  196. Which is it?

    There’s no discrepancy.

    DNA sequences are replicated with occasional errors. Offspring are never very far from their parents.

    DNA can be mixed, as in sexual reproduction, so offspring can share characteristics of more than one parent.

    This has nothing to do with incremental change.

    Microbes are much more promiscuous than multi-celled organisms. They can acquire genes via several methods of transfer.

    There’s even a known instance in which sea slugs have acquired genes from algae by eating them.

    None of this has anything to do with incremental change of DNA sequences.

    In the case of the flagellum, the assertion was first made that removing any genetic piece at all would render the complex structure inoperative and worthless.

    Since that original assertion, many subsets of flagellar components have been found in other microbes. The original claim that the pieces by themselves contribute nothing to fitness is simply false.

    The claim of mainstream biology — that the bits and pieces comprising complex structures have selectable functions without the whole structure existing is both reasonable and observed.

    In the case of microbes, it is not necessary for such subsets to evolve in a single species, since microbes exchange DNA.

    Perhaps just as important is the fact that there is no necessity for flagella in the E.coli version to evolve at all. There are plenty of critters getting along just fine with lesser means of motility, or none at all.

    It’s fairly easy to look at a structure and imagine that something worked deliberately to create it, but that is no different from a lottery winner imagining that some destiny lurks behind his winning.

    Respective astonishment is not a particularly good guide to causation.

  197. #193 tgpeeler

    Please forgive an intrusion but
    I seem to remember your challenge to make intellectual committments and it interested me at the time. I didn’t think it was rude. I just didn’t understand the point. Why should anyone commit themself to some belief if they are actually uncertain? It is perhaps one of the distinguishing features of atheism that confronted with a fundamental conundrum the atheist says “I don’t know” or “I am not sure” rather than committing himself or herself.

  198. —San Antonio Rose: “You tell him, guy. I, for one, know I didn’t evolve from any lower life form like a monkey.”

    Bless your heart SAR, but that is not the point I was making. In this one example, the issue is one of logical priorities [attributes do not come from "experience"] rather than any criticism of evolutionary science. Still, I thank you for playing.

  199. 200

    Petrushka,

    It’s fairly easy to look at a structure and imagine that something worked deliberately to create it, but that is no different from a lottery winner imagining that some destiny lurks behind his winning.

    No different? Really? You honestly think that design detection is on the level of fate or providential intervening into one’s life for their own good? So when I see Stonehenge, for instance, it is the same as assuming that whoever built it is the same sort of being that lurks behind me winning a lottery ticket? I agree that respective astonishment is not a good guide to causation, that’s why no one uses astonishment as a respective guide to causation. It appears that the design inference, in your mind, boils down to astonishment, not complex specified information and comparison to known designed objects. This is, of course, not ID. You seem to be making an argument against something else. I appreciate these glimpses into how you see things, it clarifies a lot.

  200. 201

    markf,

    I think you would benefit by going through the posts here once more very carefully.

    Everyone commits to certain ways of thinking weather they believe they are making such commitments or not.

    Even “non-conformists” commit (or in this case conform) to non-conformity. They’re not fooling anybody. Agreed?

    Well, this back-and-forth with Petrushka has been going on in several threads. I’m not certain when it started, but it’s still on-going.

    And in these discussions, we’ve learned a certain thing or two about Petruchka that is relevant to the non-conformist analogy above.

    He commits to a certain way of thinking while believing that he’s made no commitments. In this attitude, he criticizes those who have made a commitment to a particular way of thinking, as if he has not done so.

    If you take an honest look at Petrushka’s posts, no matter where your particular commitments lie, I think you’ll see exactly what I’m referring to.

    The particular way of thinking he is criticizing is based on the principles of logic, which are the basis for clear thinking in the first place. Petrushka would not be able to criticize or argue without appealing to those very same principles, who’s application he criticizes in others. There’s a word for this sort of attitude, but I’d rather not say it here. I think you can figure out what it is.

  201. markf @ 196

    Hi markf. No problem. What Petrushka manifests is a lack of understanding of first principles.

    For example, without explicitly accepting the first principles of logic neither you or I could communicate. We assume existence, identity, non-contradiction, and causality, else rational thought is not possible. We begin with what we cannot deny. If someone wants to complain that’s not good enough. Too bad. That’s as good as it gets. It’s called the problem of being “not God.”

    I admit that there are times when certainty is not achievable. Those times are, as far as I can tell, all related to the material world. In other words, induction. Unless we can see every electron in the universe we can’t 100% for certain say that it’s impossible that there might be one electron somewhere that’s behaving in a un-electron way. We could say there is a 99.999999% (add all the zeros you want) probability that we won’t see one acting oddly but it’s not logically impossible that it won’t.

    In matters of the abstract, on the other hand, certainty is possible. If 50 is less than 100 and 25 is less than 50 then 25 is less than 100. Or more generally, if b < c and a < b, then a < c. You can take that to the bank, so to speak. (Although that analogy might not carry the weight that it once did, sad to say.)

    So at times it may be intellectually honest to admit to uncertainty but at other times it is a cop-out.

    Anyone with a passing familiarity with logic or math knows this. If 5 + x = 10 then x = 5. It's the same thing with logic. If the first cause must be different from all other causes, and it must because all other causes are themselves caused, then the first cause MUST BE uncaused. It has to be. It cannot not be. For if it is caused, then it can't BE FIRST. Do you see that?

    To say uncaused is another way to say infinite. That is, always existing. No beginning, no ending. So that tells us something else about the first cause. We now know it's also immaterial. Why? If it were material, we could count it. If we can count it, it's not infinite. But it is infinite. So it must also be immaterial.

    An intellectual commitment to first principles is not being arbitrary, it's being rational. It's starting with what is FIRST. Being, identity, and non-contradiction. Nothing can be and not be what it is. Right? Do you see that? And nothing can have identity that does not exist. Do you see that? So being and identity are just different sides of the same coin, so to speak. And non-contradiction says what we ALL know to be true. Nothing can be and not be at the same time and in the same way.

    What's so hard about that? Let me answer my own question. Anyone with a brain can see that this leads to God. Some people, for whatever reason, don't like that so they MUST reject first principles. This is why, quite frankly, it's so maddening to discuss things with the materialists/atheists. They CLAIM to be the rational ones but they are the irrational ones. They reject reason and claim to stand upon it. It would be funny were it not so tragic.

    I hope this helps.

  202. and what C_Y_ said.

  203. It appears that the design inference, in your mind, boils down to astonishment, not complex specified information and comparison to known designed objects.

    I’m aware that we recognize design in archeological objects, because we can compare them to objects known to be made by humans.

    I was unaware that we had living things known to be made by a known designer having known capabilities and methods of operation.

    Of course if we had good witness to living things being designed by an entity as opposed to evolution, we could make the Stonehenge-like comparison.

    The quantity of information is irrelevant. Evolution accumulates information via its learning algorithm. The rate of accumulation can be computed by noting the differences between closely related species.

  204. RE 198 markf

    “Why should anyone commit themself to some belief if they are actually uncertain?”

    Thats not the question tgpeeler asked. Basically what he is asking is on what basis do you ascribe the validity of your question.

    Vivid

  205. RE 202

    tgpeeler great post!!

    Vivid

  206. Vivid, thanks.

  207. Folks:

    A thought for the night, on foundations of knowledge and reason. Also, on where all this points over the next generation.

    For, the tide has now decisively turned:

    There is a tide in the affairs of men.
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
    On such a full sea are we now afloat,
    And we must take the current when it serves,
    Or lose our ventures.
    Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224 [Shakespeare, cf video here.]

    For, we are at kairos.

    How do we proceed?

    I: First, the foundations of our thinking must be set to rights:

    Now, in one of my online briefing notes, I have discussed the matter of foundational warranted credible truths, in the context of self-evidence, here, which builds on the reasonable faith worldview core principle here.

    The point of self evidence has been captured by that hostile witness, Wiki:

    In epistemology (theory of knowledge), a self-evident proposition is one that is known to be true by understanding its meaning without proof.

    Some epistemologists deny that any proposition can be self-evident. [How successfully, Wiki? Do they not find themselves descending into absurdity, whether or no they admit it, e.g. on non-contradiction or causality?] For most others, the belief that oneself is conscious is offered as an example of self-evidence. However, one’s belief that someone else is conscious is not epistemically self-evident . . . .

    A self-evident proposition cannot be denied without knowing that one contradicts oneself (provided one actually understands the proposition). An analytic proposition cannot be denied without a contradiction, but one may fail to know that there is a contradiction because it may be a contradiction that can be found only by a long and abstruse line of logical or mathematical reasoning. Most analytic propositions are very far from self-evident. Similarly, a self-evident proposition need not be analytic: my knowledge that I am conscious is self-evident but not analytic . . . .

    For those who admit the existence [i.e. reality] of abstract concepts, the class of non-analytic self-evident truths can be regarded as truths of the understanding–truths revealing connections between the meanings of ideas.

    The key phrase there is “truths of the understanding.”

    For, starting from the certainty of our existence as minded, enconscienced creatures in a physically and morally coherent, intelligible world — one can deny such only on pain of reduction to utter self-referential incoherence and absurdity! — we are led to see that certain ideas evidently refer to clustered realities that we can understand in light of our experience of the world, and once we understand them clearly, they are seen to be true and deniable only on pain of indulging in incoherence of an order that we know or should know.

    Observe here carefully: we come to understand the force of SETs through our experience of the world as intelligent creatures, but the warrant for the SETs is not our experience as such but the consequence of attempted denial: absurdity that is known or should be known. (We CAN deny the force of such an absurdity, but only on pain of showing ourselves utterly irrational. Resemblance to events in this blog’s comment threads over days, weeks and months past is NOT coincidental.)

    The distinction just made is subtle, but important.

    II: Second, we must understand how this speaks to science:

    Now too, self evidence allows us to rapidly build up a fund of warranted credible truths that can be used in worldviews level comparative difficulties analysis; which — as was mentioned in Section a here under the cite from Lakatos on scientific research programmes — also relate to the hard cores of scientific paradigms.

    At the heart of a given scientific research programme is a core that often embeds worldview-level commitments and views about the right way to do science. That core is protected by a flexible armour-belt of auxiliary plausible conjectures that help it “solve” problems that seem to be significant to practitioners in the paradigm. But equally, the auxiliary framework typically deflects the impact of points where the theory is not working so well just now, perhaps even “solving” problems by after-the-fact explaining away on auxiliary hypotheses. (NB: This also means that “falsifiability” is not a particularly good criterion for testing whether or not a given research programme is or is not “scientific,” and — since, for instance, a formerly degenerative paradigm can sometimes have a breakthrough success and suddenly take back the lead — it also should give us pause before imposing overly hard and fast rules on what is or is not “science.”)

    If a research programme becomes ever more characterised by after-the-fact defensive deflection of problems, however, it is plainly deteriorating. Progressive paradigms, instead, consistently anticipate and correctly predict new and otherwise unexpected observations; even though at any given time, there probably will always be unresolved points where the body of observed facts and the theory do not currently line up.

    Moreover, at no point can such progressiveness and success actually prove the truth of the theory, whether in its auxiliary conjectures or in its core commitments. This, on pain of affirming the consequent if we try to infer from explained or predicted observations to the claimed truthfulness of a given theory.

    In the end, theories and paradigms live and die by comparative difficulties analysis across alternatives.

    That is why worldview level ideological censorship such as is being imposed by the Lewontinian a priori materialist magisterium, is so heinous.

    And, that is why those caught up in the web of that intellectual crime are so ruthlessly desperate in defense of the indefensible.

    That, too, is why the evolutionary materialist cause is doomed.

    And so . . .

    III: It is 1979 II, folks.

    The 1950′s, 60′s and 70′s are over, and the 1980′s are ahead.

    By the time we finish the 1990′s, evolutionary materialism will be as dead as Marxism now is. Oh, it may lie in a shallow and noisily stirring grave — cf today’s Chavezes and the like [some as close as your friendly local College campus or government offices] — but the cause is dead and the punch is gone.

    And not only in origins science.

    (Look at what is happening with climate science in the aftermath of the climategate revelations. (E.g. here.)

    The real question in my mind is how hard a blow the basic credibility of science as a whole is going to take. If there is a desperate clinging to the indefensible for too long, the blow is going to be a very heavy one.

    So, ATBC habituees and other assorted objectors and ideologues, a bit of advice: take a long, sober look at what you are doing to science and science education by ideologising them.

    Then, think about what is going to happen when people have to increasingly turn their backs on the corrupted ideologised, tax-subsidised school systems and build independent alternatives, first as standalone courses similar to the one now in beta test on origins science, but then eventually integrated into a new wave of cost-effective web based schools that partner with existing local centres to create a new education paradigm.

    IV: A New paradigm for education on origins science (and for many other spheres) . . .

    Just think of the implications of the $75 OLPC concept tablet or the $35 Indian Gov’t tablet multiplied by online libraries of ebooks and other learning resources. I have my eye on thinks like Kaltura [participative video creation], Blender [multimedia production -- thanks Apollos] and Big Blue Button [educational teleconferencing] plus things like what blogs and wikis can do when put to education uses.

    All, fuelled by network economics [once the network is there, it costs essentially nothing to add one more node or participant . . . as in cell phones], DSL and similar broadband technologies and wireless networks, with open source technologies becoming a powerful, unstoppable wave.

    Your zealously guarded materialist monopoly on education is dead, dead dead. And with it, the agit-prop power of dominance of the media, which will only further utterly discredit itself if it keeps on spewing the party-line when a growing tidal wave of people can see right through it and know that the easily accessible truth is being suppressed.

    Then, think about how this new education and information paradigm will sweep not only the North but the South. Actually, the strongest initial base, I suspect, will be in the South — locked into the Southern reformation envisioned by Jenkins and others. in 30 – 50 years, there will be a new world order. (My bet; China wins, but China that is going through the same sort of transformation that changed Rome across the 200s. I call it, Prester John II.)

    V: Now, why am I openly saying such things?

    Because, the trends are now unstoppable.

    As a net-centric trend, this is inherently subversive of all power hierarchies and hidden cabals that seek to dominate and control from the formerly strategic centres of power. Including the hitherto ultimate power of materialist veto by the ideologised court system. (As a harbinger, notice how Judge “ACLU Copycat” Jones has in the end only discredited himself and the education system he and those who told him how to rule sought to monopolise.)

    Indeed, this public statement is in effect a call to arms.

    The time to act is now, the place to act is here, and the people to act are us.

    Time to break the chains of mental slavery, “for none but ourselves — with God’s help — can free our minds.” [Adapted, Marcus Garvey and as popularised by Bob Marley.]

    Time to wake up, rise up and act decisively to set ourselves free of a new tyranny, one of the mind!

    So . . . ATBC, NCSE etc, a little announcement:

    Check . . . mate within 20 years.”

    __________

    GEM of TKI

  208. 209

    KF,

    I think it might be a good idea and investment for all of the current prominent ID proponents to collaborate on a Wiki-based site that presents all the basic arguments for ID, such that when “intelligent design” is googled, such a Wiki is the first thing a researcher finds. Such a Wiki could feature all of the positive arguments for ID, the arguments against, as well as some sort of “Weak Arguments Directive,” such as what we have at UD.

    It’s actually interesting and quite ironic that Wikipedia offers the software for such a Wiki site, which requires a server to download it to.

    Sadly, if you currently google “intelligent design,” the first thing that appears is Wikipedia’s biased article.

    What’s really going on is that the powers that be see fit that Wikipedia should be the current authoritative resource on pretty much anything contained therein. We can change that. Now there are such authoritative Wikis for various subjects, and they are often at the top of google’s list as opposed to Wikipedia articles themselves. If a war is fought, surely this ought to be one of the first battles. I think the ID movement needs to use as many internet tools as possible to get the word out. Currently we’re depending on published books and a few blogs. The internet is much more useful than that sort of approach.

    Such a Wiki site should be completely independent of the current authoritative organizations surrounding ID, although their fellows should contribute.

  209. 210

    KF,

    I realize that what you’re proposing is more far-reaching than simply how ID is presented, but my idea is merely a beginning strategy for an online counter-attack against “irrationalism.”

    Also, another thought came to mind, and I don’t know if this will go over well, or even if it’s such a good idea, but I think that the Discovery Institute should consider dispensing with the Center for Science and Culture, and allow them to go their separate way as a purely scientific enterprise – a separate think tank, and not connected to the DI’s ideological framework. This might allow ID to gain more credibility among those who don’t necessarily share the ideology of the DI, but otherwise might be more sympathetic to ID as science.

    We’ve criticized Science Blogs here for not discussing science in favor of dispensing ideology. I think the DI is too ideological to be the authoritative source for all things ID; even if I may agree with much of the ideology.

  210. GEM, amen.

  211. 212

    KF,

    Another observation is that this back-and-forth (at least the current round) over first principles seems to have begun on the 600+post thread concerning Meyer’s argument for why ID is science.

    You pretty much nailed this by connecting failed philosophical premises to the current debacle we call science.

    Nobody is an independent thinker; thus, these counter-ID arguments are coming from somewhere. Petrushka and others are not the source. They are simply manifestations of the overall symptoms, which stem from the source (or sources).

  212. 213

    Petrushka,

    I’m aware that we recognize design in archeological objects, because we can compare them to objects known to be made by humans.

    What is Stonehenge and what purpose does it serve and to what known objects do we compare it that were made by humans?

    The quantity of information is irrelevant. Evolution accumulates information via its learning algorithm. The rate of accumulation can be computed by noting the differences between closely related species.

    Noting the differences and noting the similarities? Evolution accounts for everything doesn’t it? If animals are similar, it proves evolution, if they are different, it proves evolution.

    Besides, this is after-the-fact reasoning, and nothing would stand to falsify it by this criterion of comparison, for it’s all encompassing, and includes all similarities and all differences. Both can be explained by the same mechanism. Everything can be explained by that mechanism, which leaves it utterly vacuous.

  213. 214

    You’re right, Clive. Evolution is the true “god-of-the-gaps” argument. It explains everything.

    Evolution explains my religious beliefs, and if I should change them, it explains that too.

    It explains why my cat purrs, and why it doesn’t. My cat and I are very happy to have that information. I don’t think we could survive without it.

    It explains why humans have two arms, and it even explains why, when they don’t. Again, I think the humans who don’t have two arms are quite happy to have that information for the sake of their survival.

    It explains why giraffes have long necks, while at the same time it explains why the trees that giraffes require for food are so tall, although I’m not sure if it’s the tallness of the trees or the length of the neck, which came first, but no matter.

    Heck, it even explains why other creatures who may gather their food from the same tall trees, do not have long necks, but such information is happily accepted for the sake of survival.

    I have a lot of questions still. It’s a good thing I’ll have evolution around when I need to answer them. It’s a survival thing, you know.

  214. #202 tgpeeler

    If I understand you, asking for intellectual committment amounts to asking people what they assume to be necessarily true?

    The trouble about this is what we thought was necessarily true may turn out not to be – uncertainty goes very deep. 200 years ago many people thought that it was necessarily true that:

    The sum of the angles of a triangle are 180 degrees

    Nothing can be in two places at once

    Time is the same for everything material in the universe

    All of these are now either known to be false under certain conditions.

    These are all crisply defined statements. If you then go on to rather vaguer statements such as:

    If something is uncaused it cannot have a beginning.

    If something has no beginning it must be immaterial.

    If the first cause is immaterial it must be God

    when even the meaning of “cause” is open to many interpretations, much less “immaterial” and “God” – then you really are making some rather bold committments/assumptions.

    Isn’t it reasonable to say that we know a bit about birth of the universe and outside of that we know nothing and may never know? That would be my intellectual committment with respect to first causes.

  215. CY:

    Actually, there is a Wiki on ID, and IDEA Center has a fairly extensive FAQ – cum- primer. ISCID has a bit of a smallish encyclopedia. The UD Weak Argument Corrective and Glossary are first steps down that line too. (Maybe UD will provide some links?)

    What I (and some others) have put forward with the IOSE proof of concept beta using blog technology actually has an even more beta test Wiki personality, on TikiWiki software [one key lesson: there is no really effective WYSIWYG for Wiki production (and the markup system is only slightly less messy than doing raw full bore manual html markup coding), which tends to put Wiki control in the hands of a Geek class . . . explains a lot about the biases and agendas at Wikipedia], and will have a Moodle educational content management system framework, DV.

    But Wikis and blogs etc in a sense are too passive for what we need now.

    We are dealing with the ideological captivity and corruption of a major cluster of institutions in our civilisation, through decades of effort of a determined minority, which now sits in what they imagine is comfortable control.

    We need a “push” focus: an educational endeavour that brings first of all consciousness of what has been done to us and where it will end if unchecked, then also a critical survey of origins science and its societal significance to a snowballing movement of concerned citizens.

    A survey that can be brought to people in communities and community based organisations on a participative basis, with relatively little need for heavy duty curriculum preparations and investments.

    Something that can equip and organise concerned members of the public, high school level students, College students and educators to think and act and lead for themselves instead of just passively swallowing the laced Koolaid as instructed and intimidated. [1979 or so again . . . (NB: "Rev" Jimmy Jones turned out to be a manipulative "charismatic" Marxist who set up a police state "utopia" in a commune in Guyana and tried to bequeath his assets after the mass suicide to the USSR . . . )]

    Think about, say:

    Phase I: a “standard kit” based community based seminar that starts with a period of web and multimedia resource reading and preliminary exercises, at gneral/HS level and at College/Reference/Educators level. Maybe, for a month or so of prep work using Moodle or the like as a web course technological base. [Moodle is of course open source.]

    b: Phase II: As a part of that prep work, students prepare poster presentation projects and slide shows, with practical and research exercises as appropriate.

    c: Phase III: A one week seminar [or a compressed version] brings the people together for fairly high level quality presentations and maybe teleconferences with experts, and discussion sessions, for Science-fair level presentations and student level peer review feedback [with facilitators kicking it up a notch or two], and also across the week a declaration and call for action is organised.

    Phase IVa: During the evenings, there is a festival of public videos and books etc on origins science topics [e.g. Privileged Planet, Darwin's Dilemma, etc], with panels for further discussion (and perhaps a teleconference event). Student project posters are on display, with the students on hand.

    Phase IVb: Also, on the weekend, there is a one day seminar that features a compressed version of the week [say, using the intro and summary as a launchpad], with featured presentations from participants, and leading up to a declaration, call to action and mobilisation of onward action committees for community level action as appropriate and agreed.

    Phase V: participants complete projects which are assessed and receive certificates of participation.

    Phase VI: In parallel, members of the organising committee for the community based course and select members of action teams are developed as trainers and organisers, who may then propagate the seminar onward.

    See what I mean about a snowballing potential?

    Then, think about the emergence of a net centric alternative education system.

    In the second wave, that sort of community based movement needs to be the leading edge of a wedge of truth movement that begins to transform the cost structures, accessibility and content of alternative education — finishing what the homeschooling and related movements have begun to do.

    I think this is actually beginning to gel in a currently unorganised, networked sort of way. But a more structured and focussed effort is coming.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: CY, please use the contact link through my handle, KF, in the left hand column to contact me.

  216. F/N:

    MF, unfortunately, neatly omits the case of say warranted, credible truth no 1, following Josiah Royce and Elton Trueblood who underscored the significance of Royce’s work:

    WCT 1: Error exists.

    1 –> We intuitively understand (and accept) this, on all too abundant experience.

    2 –> But the truth is not simply a fact of experience.

    3 –> To show this, let us set up our Modus Tollens Reductio ad Absurdum — the same foundational technique that is so crucial to modern mathematics.

    4 –> If we try to deny WCT 1, something very interesting happens:

    P2: “It is false that error exists”

    5 –> This becomes an example of error, on either view of the truth value of P2: (a) if P2 is suggested to be to be true, WCT1 would be an error, confirming WCT1. And of course (b) if P2 is suggested as false, it is an example of WCT1.

    6 –> But P2 is either true or false, as it asserts a state of affairs. [Cf here Aristotle in Metaphysics 1011b]

    7 –> WCT1 is UNDENIABLY TRUE, and it is by this also a self-evident truth, as once you understand what it is about (including what happens when you try to deny it, it MUST be true.)

    8 –> Some implications and consequences:

    a: truth exists [i.e. the set of true propositions is non-empty], as that which refers accurately to reality and that which we may err about.

    b: warranted credible truth exists, to the point of certaintly on pain of reduction to absurdity

    c: i.e. by definition, certain knowledge exists, though also this is a peculiarly humbling case that shows how we may be in error about what we think we know.

    d: so also, provisional knowledge exists, as that which is warranted and credibly true but potentially prone to error. (Scientific truths and truths of fact — even morally certain [practically certain] ones — fall into this class.)

    e: through the power of modus tollens and reductio ad absurdum, we may warrant particular truths to the degree of certainty on pain of absurdity, i.e. radical relativism and denial of objective or even absolute truth are overturned.

    f: So also we see that there are some truths that can be known beyond rational doubt, but also some that can only be provisionally known, i.e. worldviews of finite, fallible creatures such as ourselves are of mixed character at best.

    g:since also mathematical truths are subject to the Godel incompleteness constraints, mathematical claims are subject to error (i.e. MF gave a loaded example or two there]

    9 –> Already, we see a considerable body of warranted, credible truths that allow us to build a philosophical toolkit to test alternative worldviews on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power, through comparative difficulties. (Cf my discussion of a cluster of such WCT’s — first principles of right reason if you will, here.)

    10 –> In short, MF’s objection is unfortunately distractive and strawmanish [just as unfortunately happened yesterday]rather than constructive.

    _________________

    CONCLUSION: We thus have every epistemic right to collect a cluster of warranted credible truths [including the core laws of logic], and to use a philosophical toolkit to build a worldview on first principles of right reason. And, on principles of reasonable faith that freely uses morally certain but not absolutely certain truths as major life commitments, and that provisionally uses lesser knowledger claims such as in science and mathematics, given that every worldview will face the challenges of WCT no 1.

    Of course, I hold that (contrary to much ill-informed and ill-cultured neo-Atheist rhetoric) the Judaeo-Christian theistic worldview [in any one of several forms] is just such a reasonable faith and frame for life and science.

    Similarly, for good reason, I hold that the design theory paradigm is a reasonable one for doing science in C21; even as the evolutionary materialist one reduces ever more and more to absurdity in many, many ways. Some, sadly, all too visible in the thread above. And so I hold that it is quite reasonable to practice science in the frame of seeing it as thinking God’s creative and sustaining providential thoughts after him.

    GEM of TKI

  217. Besides, this is after-the-fact reasoning, and nothing would stand to falsify it by this criterion of comparison, for it’s all encompassing, and includes all similarities and all differences.

    The tree structure of descent was drawn by Darwin around 1838 and continues to be the the core of evolution. And despite your protestation regarding bananas and animals, the majority of researchers, including Behe, see the tree structure.

    The fact that there is no relevant evidence against the tree structure does not mean that, in principal, there could not be.

    We know that things designed by humans do not follow this pattern. Within a few decades of the discovery of DNA we have entire industries devoted to splicing genes between disparate organisms. One has to wonder why the original designer didn’t think of this, or having thought of it, chose to make life appear to be related by descent.

    I hope you also understand that molecular biologists, like Behe, do not argue against descent with modification. At most, they argue about the size of specific modifications, and the cause of the modifications.

  218. PS: MF of course manages to neatly sidestep the corrective on cause that I presented yesterday, at no 164.

  219. PPS: Notice, in so holding that the classic theistic frame of thought for doing science is reasonable — as opposed to irrational [as say Lewontin imagines], I am emphatically not asserting, assuming or implying that the design theory framework proves theism. Reasonableness as used above means that one has an epistemic and logical right to operate on that basis, whether or not others may operate on a different basis, and whether or not hey are inclined to view yours as reasonable.

  220. —markf: “The trouble about this is what we thought was necessarily true may turn out not to be – uncertainty goes very deep. 200 years ago many people thought that it was necessarily true that:”

    A widely held belief is not synonymous with a self evident truth, which, upon reflection, ends in absurdity.

    —”The sum of the angles of a triangle are 180 degrees”

    The laws of spherical geometry are different from the laws of plane geometry. That fact does not, in any way, change the unchangeable laws inherent in each realm.

    —”Nothing can be in two places at once” [a widely held view]

    Here your instincts are correct. History shows that certain mystic/saints have bilocated. A good example would be Padre Pio. None of this has anything to do with the law of non-contradiction.

    —”Time is the same for everything material in the universe”

    Here we have another widely held view that has nothing to do with first principles.

    –”All of these are now either known to be false under certain conditions.”

    Obviously, that statement is incorrect.

    —”These are all crisply defined statements. If you then go on to rather vaguer statements such as:

    —”If something is uncaused it cannot have a beginning.”

    Nice job of rewriting the clear rule in your own vague language and then declaring the rewrite to be vague.

    A cause is simply something that brings something else about. That means nothing can come into existence unless some kind of cause makes it happen.

    —”If something has no beginning it must be immaterial.”

    Yes, that is clearly a logical requirement. It has not, as you indicate, been shown to be false and the reason for that is very simple: reason’s rules inform evidence; evidence does not inform reason’s rules.

    —”If the first cause is immaterial it must be God.”

    Well, not exactly. The first cause must, from a logical standpoint, be immaterial, eternal, self existent, necessary, one, and personal. Most people, however, would recognize that being as the Judeo/Christian God.

    —”when even the meaning of “cause” is open to many interpretations,”

    No, it isn’t. Just look up the word in the dictionary.

    ["The producer of an effect, result, or consequence.
    b. The one, such as a person, event, or condition, that is responsible for an action or result."]

    There are, indeed, many kinds of causes, but the meaning of the word is clear.

    —”much less “immaterial” and “God” – then you really are making some rather bold committments/assumptions.”

    They are not “bold assumptions,” rather they are necessary conclusions based on the “bold” assumption that existence is real.

    —”Isn’t it reasonable to say that we know a bit about birth of the universe and outside of that we know nothing and may never know?”

    No. Kant’s notion that we cannot know anything about the real world refutes itself. In order to make that dubious claim, Kant would have had to know something about the real world.

    —”That would be my intellectual committment with respect to first causes.”

    Correct. You are committed to hyperskepticism.

  221. 222

    Petrushka,

    The tree structure of descent was drawn by Darwin around 1838 and continues to be the the core of evolution. And despite your protestation regarding bananas and animals, the majority of researchers, including Behe, see the tree structure.

    Indeed, it is most certainly despite my protestations of the same great grandfather father between oysters and banana trees that researchers see the tree structure.

  222. Petrushka,

    Kairosfocus doesn’t believe contradictory things by believing in an uncaused cause. He believes that those things that begin to exist, have a cause. If the uncaused cause did not ever begin to exist, then it does not have to have a cause. You may not believe that there is an uncaused cause, but the above statement is not self-contradictory.

    BTW the best debaters learn from their opponents. Just a random thought.

  223. #221 Stephenb

    I will risk responding to your comments although, as you know, I have found your rather ascerbic style a bit more than I can take in the past. I would like to address every single point you make – but that would too long a comment (it is still too long but I am too tired to make it shorter). So I will select a few highlights.

    stephenb: A widely held belief is not synonymous with a self evident truth, which, upon reflection, ends in absurdity.

    My point is that we cannot easily tell a widely held belief from a self-evident truth.

    Nice job of rewriting the clear rule in your own vague language and then declaring the rewrite to be vague.

    A cause is simply something that brings something else about. That means nothing can come into existence unless some kind of cause makes it happen.

    I was trying to rewrite it to make it clear. Happy to accept your version but I don’t see that it is any clearer. The second statement simply does not follow from the first. The first statement is of the form:

    (A) An X is simply something that does Y to Z.

    the second is of the form:

    (B) Y cannot happen to Z unless X

    Statements of form B do not follow from statements of form A.

    me: when even the meaning of “cause” is open to many interpretations,”

    stephenb: No, it isn’t. Just look up the word in the dictionary.

    Actually my dictionary offers two or three definitions but that is hardly the point. The dictionary definitions are no less ambiguous than the word “cause”. The meaning of “cause” is a long running dispute – just read the article in the Stanford Encyclopediea of Philosophy.

    me: “Isn’t it reasonable to say that we know a bit about birth of the universe and outside of that we know nothing and may never know?”

    Stephenb: No. Kant’s notion that we cannot know anything about the real world refutes itself. In order to make that dubious claim, Kant would have had to know something about the real world.

    But I am not saying we cannot know anything about the real world. I am only saying we don’t know anything about anything other than the universe.

    Correct. You are committed to hyperskepticism

    You can call it what you like. I call it recognising the limitations of what we know. In any case it seems to be a rational position.

  224. markf @ 215
    “If I understand you, asking for intellectual commitment amounts to asking people what they assume to be necessarily true?”

    No. I am asking for what your intellectual commitment is. My intellectual commitment is to start with what cannot be rationally denied (first principles) and go from there. So where do you start?

    “The trouble about this is what we thought was necessarily true may turn out not to be – uncertainty goes very deep. 200 years ago many people thought that it was necessarily true that:
    The sum of the angles of a triangle are 180 degrees”

    This statement is irrelevant to my argument. I addressed this already. We can only have certainty in the realm of the abstract. In the realm of experience and space/time we only have probability.

    “Nothing can be in two places at once.”

    This is also irrelevant – the truths of the physical world, as I have noted in prior posts, are INDUCTIVE. They are not certain, no matter how intuitive they may seem to be. QM has amply demonstrated this. So did GR, come to think of it.

    “Time is the same for everything material in the universe”

    Previously answered.

    “All of these are now either known to be false under certain conditions.”

    OK, so what??? They are not RELEVANT to my argument. You see that, right?

    “These are all crisply defined statements. If you then go on to rather vaguer statements such as:
    If something is uncaused it cannot have a beginning.”

    This is not a “vague” statement, it is definitional. By applying the law of non-contradiction to the law of identity we can figure other things out. Let’s try it again. If something exists and is uncaused, that means what? It means that it MUST HAVE always existed. Because if it is UNCAUSED, and uncaused means didn’t have a cause, then that thing always existed, because if it didn’t always exist, then something MUST HAVE caused it. Something, anything that is CAUSED didn’t exist before. Because if it always existed then it’s UNCAUSED. It’s part of what caused means, to begin to exist. So if something exists and is uncaused that means that it always existed, and if it always existed, it never began. If it never began yet exists, that means it’s eternal. Eternal and infinite are just other words/terms that also mean the same thing. Uncaused. Do you see how this works?

    “If something has no beginning it must be immaterial.”

    “No beginning” is just another way to describe uncaused which is another way to describe infinite. Infinite means without number, unbounded, “greater” than any finite number. If something is material, it can be counted. If it can be counted, it is finite. If it is finite, it can’t also be infinite. The law of non-contradiction applies, as it always does. This is how I know that nothing that is material can be uncaused, or infinite, or eternal.

    “If the first cause is immaterial it must be God”

    No, it must not be God, but God is the word we typically use to describe an infinite, uncaused, eternal, transcendent Being. You don’t want to call Him God, be my guest. I’m talking about necessary characteristics here, not His Name. Which is, not oddly, I AM. I leave it to you to make the connection between the (Biblical) Name of God (and Jesus) and the First Principles of Reason and the subsequent conclusions that must be drawn.

    “when even the meaning of “cause” is open to many interpretations, much less “immaterial” and “God” – then you really are making some rather bold committments/assumptions.”

    So what are the many interpretations of cause? There are many usages for the word cause but all of them have this one thing in common. All causes precede their effects. This is true by definition. Even Hume understood this and he didn’t really understand much, as it turns out. I have elsewhere defined “material” and “immaterial” in the most generous terms possible so there is not really any room for misunderstanding there. You tell me what something is and I’ll tell you instantly if it’s material or not by answering these five questions. 1. Can it be located or is it extended in space and time? (Here is the answer key: yes = material; no = immaterial or abstract) 2. Does it have mass? 3. Does it obey the laws of physics? 4. Can it be converted to energy? 5. Can it heat or move matter? Let’s take a couple of examples to illustrate. (We need only one of five answers to be “yes” to make something material but we need all five to be “no” to make something immaterial.)
    Photons – yes to 1 so we need go no further. Material
    Electrons – yes to 1 so we need go no further. Material
    Mathematics. No to all. Immaterial
    Laws of physics. No to all. Immaterial
    This is a really easy system.

    “Isn’t it reasonable to say that we know a bit about birth of the universe and outside of that we know nothing and may never know? That would be my intellectual committment with respect to first causes.”

    No. It is not reasonable. It is as far away from reasonable as it’s possible to be. You haven’t committed to HOW you know anything. You have only made a statement that you don’t know everything. That’s hardly unusual. None of us do. It’s intimately related to the problem of not being God. Does this help? It occurs to me that you have probably ingested much “post-modern” nonsense about truth during your formal education so you may even be predisposed to resist the very idea of absolute truth, and reason as a way to that truth, apart from its application to the present discussion. If so, please rethink all of that.

  225. StephenB @ 221

    I wish I had seen your reply before I wrote mine. Then mine could have been a lot shorter.

    You said “reason’s rules inform evidence; evidence does not inform reason’s rules”

    I love that and will shamelessly plagiarize. Note to others, you will see this phrase again. I have half a notion to write it out again here just for practice… :-)

  226. Markf

    I think, actually I know, that tgpeeler has gone to the heart of the matter. How many times has Stephenb, KF, and others have presented rational and irrefutable arguments against irrationality only to see the irrationalists defend their irrationalism by using the very principles that they are arguing against!!!

    Ok so is this back and forth between you , Stephen and peeler going to end any differently? No. But peeler has gotten to the heart of the matter here

    “No. I am asking for what your intellectual commitment is. My intellectual commitment is to start with what cannot be rationally denied (first principles) and go from there. So where do you start?”

    Mark instead of telling us why cause isnt cause, that effects do not neccessarily need causes, or there is no need for a first cause. Instead answer tgepeelers question “where do YOU start”?

    Furthermore here

    “You haven’t committed to HOW you know anything. You have only made a statement that you don’t know everything.”

    How do YOU know anything which would include YOU knowing that you do not know everything. Will you answer these questions? If not let everyone know now and quit wasting bandwidth. Respectfully

    Vivid

  227. tgpeeler,

    You are sooooo late to the party:) I glommed on to that line weeks ago. I even got Petrushka to concede that Stephen was correct in his assesment!! It is a great observation and one I think you are aiming at with Markf.

    Vivid

    “I love that and will shamelessly plagiarize. Note to others, you will see this phrase again. I have half a notion to write it out again here just for practice…”

  228. tgpeeler,

    I like your 5 questions, but I would ask: can you really locate an electron? With certainty?

    What about consciousness?

  229. tgpeeler @226, thanks for the kind words. Yes, the phrase is original with me, meaning that I have never heard anyone else say it. By all means, consider it yours as well.

  230. Collin:

    The position-momentum and energy-time uncertainty limits do smear out the location of an electron but they do not render the term meaningless.

    Though it is logically possible for an electron in orbit about a given H atom in the cup of water in your hand to be at the other end of the cosmos, in praxis that is not an empirically credible possibility. We still can more or less lock it down to the H-O bond involved for practical purposes.

    So, TGP’s point still fundamentally obtains.

    G

  231. TGP:

    Some good work there.

    And I do not mind the “length” you are concerned about. Plato put it in Megilus’ mouth in The laws Bk X: “Why should we prefer the shorter to the better?”

    G

  232. —-markf: “I will risk responding to your comments although, as you know, I have found your rather ascerbic style a bit more than I can take in the past.

    I will try to make myself worthy of your renewed confidence.

    —“My point is that we cannot easily tell a widely held belief from a self-evident truth.”

    I have already provided the standard. To deny a self evident truth is to fall into absurdity. You argue that I am wrong to hold that we can be certain about self evident truths. I hold that I am right. If you thought that we could both be right, you would not be challenging me. That is because, in spite of yourself, you know that we cannot both be right. Thus, you tacitly accept the same law of non-contradiction that you are trying to argue against. Why you would want to do that I can only imagine.

    —“Happy to accept your version but I don’t see that it is any clearer. The second statement simply does not follow from the first. The first statement is of the form:

    —“(A) An X is simply something that does Y to Z.”

    If X “does” something [Y] to something that already exists [Z], that is not the same thing as X bringing Z into existence. Why not just go with straight ahead prose which is just as illuminating as symbols and letters? Nothing can begin to exist without some kind of cause.

    —The dictionary definitions are no less ambiguous than the word “cause”. The meaning of “cause” is a long running dispute – just read the article in the Stanford Encyclopediea of Philosophy.”

    Do you not appreciate the fact that all these “controversies” are possible only after assuming as fact that nothing can begin to exist without a cause?

    In fact, most of the said disputes about the meaning of the word causality can be reduced to two basic propositions: (1) A caused B means that A caused a change in B or (2) A caused B means that, given the occurrence of B, A is necessarily. In our present context, you may take my definition to mean (2).

    Then, again, that point is obvious in the statement, “nothing can begin to exist without a cause.” That brings us back to the dictionary definition which is as good as any other. A cause is simply something that brings something else about.

    In any case, our failure to know all the ins and outs of the relationship between the cause and the effect does not, in any way, change the fact that no effect can exist without its cause, or the fact that nothing can come into existence without a cause. Since the authors of The Stanford Encyclopedia did not make that claim, and I would be shocked if they did, it is irrelevant to our discussion.

    Indeed, David Hume, the father of the same hyper-skepticism which you hold so dear, stated without hesitancy that he would never say anything so ridiculous that something could come into existence without a cause. It is, to be sure, a ridiculous position. Nor would he have held that he doesn’t know the meaning of that which he declares to be absolutely necessary. Some kind of cause is necessary, whether it be a material cause, efficient cause, final cause, formal cause or some other variety.

    The only claim being made is that nothing can begin to exist without some kind of cause. It is the weakest kind of claim possible and its truth is so obvious that it is impossible to not know it. If that wasn’t the case, the universe would be an absurd place and anyone who tried to make sense of it or talk about it or go blogging about would be absurd as well. It is absurd to try to have rational discussions in a universe where effects can occur without causes or where things can both exist and not exist at the same time.

    —“But I am not saying we cannot know anything about the real world. I am only saying we don’t know anything about anything other than the universe.”

    Your claim refutes itself. In order to say that we cannot know anything about anything other than the universe, you would have to know something beyond the fact of the universe’s existence.

    —“You can call it what you like. I call it recognising the limitations of what we know. In any case it seems to be a rational position.”

    How can your position be “rational” when rationality is defined as being in alignment with reason’s rules—which you reject? Of course, if you have another definition of rationality, you are free to share it. Define rationality and the principles which make it rational. I will hold you to this.

  233. Collin @ 229 “I like your 5 questions, but I would ask: can you really locate an electron? With certainty?

    What about consciousness?”

    Hey Collin, as I’ve said before, I am not a physicist but I read a lot about physics. Although GEM already bailed me out on that one let me add a comment or two. If one of them is incorrect then I am happy to be corrected.

    As I understand the uncertainty principle, it says, in layman’s terms, that one cannot know both the location and velocity, or position and momentum, at the same time. So I figured that meant that if we gave up velocity we could know location. In any case, if 1 does not serve, then questions 2, 3, and 5 do. So material, for sure.

    Concerning consciousness {C}. I say that C is immaterial, or abstract, and therefore not locatable. Here’s why. If we were merely sophisticated sensing machines, which is essentially what NDT evolutionary theory says we are, then all we could know about is what we sense. If we are body and only body (no soul or mind separate from our bodies) then the only access we have to the world is our 5 senses. Since abstract things cannot be sensed (Where is mathematics, exactly, anyway? And how much does it weigh? And is it subject to the laws of physics? And so on.) we could not know of them unless there was something more to us than our 5 senses. That something else can’t be physical, or “sensable” either because we only have five and they don’t give us access to the abstract world of math, symbols, laws, information, and so forth. Therefore, we must have an immaterial part of us that does recognize these things. It’s an easy modus tollens argument. (P implies Q. Q is not true. Therefore P is not true.)

    If I only had senses to experience the physical world I could never know of the abstract world. (This is true by definition, law of identity)

    But I do know of the abstract world.

    Therefore, it is false that I only have sense experience.

    The further conclusion follows that there is an abstract or immaterial or “non-sensing” aspect of our being. We call this a mind or soul.

    This is valid. There is a necessary connection between antecedent and consequent. The ~Q premise is true. Therefore, the conclusion (~P) is NECESSARILY true. We have an immaterial or abstract part of us that we can call mind or soul.

    There are at least three more aspects to this and I think it is good to know these things since physicalism in philosophy of mind is probably the prevailing view in contemporary philosophy of mind and even some neuroscientists are agreeing with that. And of course, since it is FALSE. So “we” need to know how to rationally defeat the “mind = brain” nonsense.

    If I am only a “sensing machine” then how is it that I experience the thousands, millions, perhaps, of sense experiences all day, every day, as a unified, coherent whole? A priori, one would expect that to be chaotic. But it’s not. So the existence of a mind also explains another phenomenon, our unified conscious experience.

    If I am only a sensing machine then how is it that I know that my car is in the driveway? I can’t see my car now. I can’t hear my car. Yet I know it’s there and I could make my way back down the stairs to find it. But that means that I have access to stored sense experience. We say memory. But how to explain that without recourse to mind? There are many things that I know that I do not sense. Mind explains this very well. Mind mediates sense experience and gives us access to prior sense experiences.

    And one last thing. We all know that our senses can deceive us. Optical illusions, mirages, etc… are staples of our experience. Stand on the railroad tracks and look off in the distance. Or put a pencil in a glass of water. The tracks seemingly converge and the pencil seemingly bends but of course, neither do. If all I have is sense experience then how do I know that? How am I aware that my senses deceive me? If ALL I KNOW IS WHAT I SENSE then I “think” the tracks converge and the pencil bends because that is all I experience. Again, mind answers the question nicely.

    Last point on consciousness. If, as I have just argued, our minds are abstract, then something else occurs to me. It goes like this.

    All abstract things are indestructible. (think about it – I cannot destroy the Pythagorean theorem or E=mc^2.)

    My mind is abstract.

    Therefore, my mind (or soul) is indestructible.

    I think this has serious implications and I am interested in feedback on this argument since I think it gives us good reason, based on reason and evidence apart from revelation, to think that we will live after our bodies die.

    Thanks for the questions.

  234. Vivid, I saw that an earlier time when StephenB used it and I thought then that I really liked that turn of phrase. But then it got away from me as so many things do. I’m so glad he said it again. It’s on a powerpoint slide now just waiting to be unleashed… :-)

  235. #233 Stephenb

    I fear this will have to be my last comment on this. It is taking too much time. I leave it to you to have the last word.

    “Thus, you tacitly accept the same law of non-contradiction that you are trying to argue against. Why you would want to do that I can only imagine.”

    I don’t deny the law of non-contradiction. There are many widely held beliefs that I subscribe to, including that one. I would be wary of saying it is self-evidently true. I cannot imagine how, but things may happen which may cause me to examine in more detail what it really means. However, there are other widely held beliefs that I don’t subscribe to, including:
    “nothing can begin to exist without a cause.”
    and I don’t think denying this leads to absurdity.

    This is at the heart of this discussion. You say various things about this principle in your comment. I won’t respond to them individually. What I cannot find is any kind of proof of this statement – just reiteration in various ways that it is absurd or irrational not to belief it. Yet I do not believe it and find I can continue to live without absurdity.

    You also write:

    How can your position be “rational” when rationality is defined as being in alignment with reason’s rules—which you reject?

    But I haven’t rejected any of reason’s rules. I have just pointed out that sometimes what appears to be a self-evident rule of reason turns out not to be. I hold to the vast majority of the same rules as you. I don’t find “nothing can exist without a cause” to be one of them.

  236. Onlookers:

    In effect MF has unfortunately just implied, “if I can doubt, I can dismiss when it suits me, without further explanation.”

    But, at the current level of this discussion, you cannot reasonably do that: every conclusion or proposal traces to a reason, which traces to premises that may require justification themselves. In effect, A requires B, and B, C, D . . . so we face (i) an infinite regress, (ii) circularity, or (iii) a point where we accept some things without further proof as such, i.e what I have elsewhere called, a faith-point.

    An infinite regress of demonstrations or of warrant is an absurdity for the finite and fallible such as we. Circularity presumes what it should show. So, how do we escape the one without falling into the other?

    ANS: by the method of comparative difficulties, across alternative worldview core commitments, on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

    But, that means laying down our cards on the table. And, it means that we have to have consistent standards of warrant across diverse worldview cores; i.e. selectively hyperskeptical double-standards will be exposed as question-begging, inconsistent and agenda-serving.

    In this case, the main issue on the table is four-fold:

    (i) Is it credible that there are first principles of right reason and of knowledge [= warranted, credibly true belief] that are true beyond reasonable dispute?

    (ii) In particular, would such be so by virtue of such first principles being self-evident: once we understand them based on our experience of the world as intelligent creatures, we see that they are true and must be so, on pain of absurdity.

    (iii) Further, is the law of non-contradiction one of these?

    (iv) Is the principle of causality one of these?

    1 –> Yesterday, in 217, I used Royce’s example “Error exists” to show that this is the first self evident truth, one that implies that truth exists, knowable truth exists and that we can make mistakes about it.

    2 –> Predictably, this was ignored by parties on the other side; but it shows that SET’s exist and can be identified as such to certainty — even though we can make mistakes in our view, by misunderstanding what we are discussing.

    3 –> Since the case of the plane triangle was raised, I note that its angle sum triangle axiom is true in the plane, but it was not understood 200 or so years ago, that other spaces will have different rules, so we now have non-Euclidean Geometry.

    4 –> So, our ability to understand at a given time is important. However, when it comes to “error exists,” and the like, that is plainly not in question. (There are no circumstances where we can shift perspective and have a world in which error exists is deniable, as we have demonstrated the reductio.

    5 –> By direct contrast, in the case of geometry, the reductio was never demonstrated. And, 200 years ago, non-Euclidean forms emerged when the hoped for reductio refused to emerge.

    6 –> So, we do not need to worry that “error exists” will fall apart, since we have the reductio in hand. As a direct consequence, too, we also know that truth, knowable truth exists; even, knowable to the point of certainty on pain of absurdity.

    7 –> This means that radical skepticism that rejects the possibility of certainly knowable truth, falls apart.

    8 –> And, to subtly or blatantly pick and choose which truths to play hypersketpical games with to suit oneself, is indefensible.

    9 –> The law of non-contradiction (as well as that of identity and the excluded middle) is of course at the heart of the reductio argument: P => Q, ~Q, so ~P. But, is it self-evident?

    10 –> First it is a part of our understanding of the world: the onrushing car heading towards the pedestrian crossing too fast to stop is not both there and not there in the same time and sense. Non-contradiction is a law of reality as we must live it, before it is a verbal assertion.

    11 –> What happens if we try to deny it? SMASH! (We crash into reality.)

    12 –> Now, there is a subtlety: the above is not a logical reductio argument, i.e by pointing to reality we do not beg the question that a formal reductio would entail. So the circularity objection is kaput.

    13 –> Similarly, we now find something else: if we deny non-contradiction, we destroy our ability to communicate, as the very act of objection to LNC implicitly assumes that we know the difference between accepting LNC and objecting to it, as distinct and opposed claims that cannot both be true.

    14 –> So, the objector is implicitly assuming the truth of what he would . . . DENY. Which is absurd in a different sense than modus tollens. Confusion and unavoidable self-referential inconsistency are plainly not healthy intellectual states.

    15 –> So, without essaying a proof — which again requires using LNC — we see that to reject LNC lands us in such difficulties that we see why it is undeniably true. And, again, we have not only understood, but we have seen what happens when one tries to reject and that he difficulties are insuperable if we value the life of reason.

    16 –> The wavicle objection may come up, on the premise that Quantum theory has shown that say electrons are both waves and particles, which is a contradiction. But in fact, that is not so: the electron is a unified entity, but we do not fully understand it, and we find ourselves using two different maps that model aspects of its behaviour.

    17 –> The maps are not even inconsistent too, though they may seem to be,for wave groups have a localisable envelope, though its location is smeared out.

    18 –> When we turn to causality [cf 164 above], the premise is that there are certain things that are effects: they begin to exist and/or may cease from existing, so are contingent on causes. That is, there are factors that by being present/absent contribute to the beginning, duration and cessation of the effect.

    19 –> An apt demonstration of our experience-based understanding is a lighted match. Swipe it on the strike strip and watch it burst into flame. Heat, fuel and oxidiser are each necessary and jointly sufficient factors to trigger and sustain the flame. We see three contributing causal factors, which are individually necessary — remove any one and the effect ceases. Also, the joint presence of the contributory factors is a sufficient cause: one the 3-factor condition is met, there WILL be an effect.

    20 –> So we UNDERSTAND that we have two interacting aspects of experienced reality that have to be viewed together: causes and effects; the former being the antecedents and conditions for the latter to begin, or be sustained.

    21 –> So, when we see something begin to exist, we look for factors that became sufficient for that to happen, and when something stops, we look for absences that blocked sustained existence. (This is foundational to the practice of science: we are committed to the view that things to not happen anywhere or nowhere, from nothing, for no reason. Even, in quantum mechanics, which is in material part the study of the causal factors and patterns of effects on the micro-scale.)

    [ . . . ]

  237. 22 –> Further to this, we observe that causes often come by mechanical necessity, stochastically distributed contingency, or intentionally directed contingency. That is, law/force of nature, chance or design. As the NWE article on ID — much more balanced than the wiki hit-piece — exemplifies:

    . . . different aspects of the same thing can be due to different causes. For example, an abandoned car will rust according to natural laws, though the actual pattern of rust may be due to chance. Yet, the car itself was designed. So regularity, chance, and design, though competing, can also be complementary.

    22 –> The key to seeing he absurdity of rejecting causality is to understand the significance of necessary factors as opposed to sufficient clusters of causal factors. For, we are not just looking at the circumstances under which an effect WILL begin or be sustained, but also, the conditions under which its occurrence or continuation may be blocked. [NB: This subtlety is very important in our lived experience of reality, e.g. we fight or prevent fires by blocking out one of the three legs of the fire triangle: heat, fuel, oxidiser. So, given the dangers of fire, we cannot live as a community based on rejecting the observation that a necessary causal factor is a causal factor. if you will, no-fire may be as important an event or effect as fire.]

    23 –> But, once necessary causal factors are on the table as legitimate causes, we see that claimed uncaused objects or phenomena that have a beginning or an ending, are forced to come out of nothing, nowhere, and “any-when.” Not even quantum phenomena are uncaused in that sense.

    24 –> So, claimed a-causal phenomena with a beginning or an end, have nowhere to happen [space is something], have no when they may begin or end, and nothing from which they may come. Such are plainly impossible.

    25 –> Putting differently: we may not know the sufficient factors for something that begins somewhere, at some time, based on something, but we most likely can see necessary factors, the absence or removal of which will block or stop the phenomenon. (In physics, energy, material and force requisites are a pretty good place to start looking for such constraints.)

    26 –> So, we have good reason to hold that causality is a self-evident truth.

    27 –> Now, a distinction. Notice, we have said nothing about objects that do not have a beginning, i.e. which would have full eternal duration, and are necessary as opposed to contingent beings.

    28 –> Where we have an observed cosmos — the only observed cosmos, BTW — full of contingent beings and that is itself credibly contingent per having an evident beginning, we face two opttons:

    (i) an infinite regress of causes that have finite duration — which could not arrive at the present in any finite duration [and which if material would have long since reached heat death as long as the objects interact energetically], or

    (ii) a root cause in a necessary being, which may be of complex unified nature. [Oneness is not necessarily a simple thing . . . ]

    29 –> Of the two options, the too often conceptually unfamiliar necessary being is plainly far less difficult an explanation.

    30 –> Nor can we simply posit the observed universe as a brute fact without reason, for since it has a beginning and is contingent,it has a cause. Something had to come together or if absent some 13.7 BYA, no observable universe.

    31 –> Can there be more than one necessary being relevant to our universe? Arguably, no,for the very reason that we live in a unified, intelligible system of reality. Diversity there is, but in the midst of unity: we live in cosmos, not chaos, as is a foundational premise of science as well as common sense. That unity very strongly points — notice, I am not claiming more than good warrant on best explanation — to prior unity as its cause.

    32 –> So, we have a fine tuned energy-rich, contingent matter-energy, space-time cosmos that has in it intelligence and many features that scream: design, style and beauty.

    33 –> On best explanation, these point to an intelligent, powerful, knowledgeable non-material designer who is a necessary being with a sense of aesthetic style. (Not to mention putting in place a moral governor in our hearts.)
    _____________

    Which — as say the notorious Lewontinian a priori materialism testifies — is most likely the real problem for many thinkers today; who prefer materialistic views that land them in even the most patent absurdities to views that point to a necessary being with attributes traditionally held to be those of the theistic God as a possible candidate to explain the world around us and our inner life as intelligent, en-conscienced persons.

    Rom 1 has something to say about that sort of attitude, that we may be well advised to heed:

    ________________

    >> Rom 1:19 . . . what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    RO 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles [yesteryear, in temples, today, often in museums, magazines, textbooks and on TV] . . . . >>

    Or as Locke put the same thought in his Introduction to his Essay on Human Understanding, Section 5:

    >> Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2, Ac 17, etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. >>
    __________________

    So, let us reflect on where this thread has led us . . .

    GEM of TKI

  238. Markf RE 236

    “What I cannot find is any kind of proof of this statement”

    What would constitute proof of the statement “nothing that begins to exist has a cause”

    Also I notice you still refuse to honestly put your cards on the table ( surprise, surprise) Are you going to continue to duck and cover regarding the questions put to you by tgpeeler? See 227.

    Vivid

  239. —markf: “I don’t deny the law of non-contradiction. There are many widely held beliefs that I subscribe to, including that one.”

    There you go again. A widely held belief is not a law. The former can be shown to be false, while the latter cannot be false under any circumstances. Since you deny that it is a law, then you are denying the principle. Indeed, you have violated that same law in this correspondence by saying that you accept it {“I don’t deny the law”} and that you don’t accept it {It really isn’t a law, but a “widely held belief”}.

    –”I would be wary of saying it is self-evidently true.”

    Of course you would because you don’t accept it as a law, even as you say you don’t deny the law.

    —”However, there are other widely held beliefs that I don’t subscribe to, including:
    “nothing can begin to exist without a cause.”…and I don’t think denying this leads to absurdity.”

    Accepting the proposition that a concrete cement wall could, in principle, spontaneously appear in front a moving car on the highway without explanation, is absurd. I have asked materialists who reject the law of causality to deny the possibility of such an event. They can only say that we have never observed it so its occurrence would be a highly unlikely event. That is absurd. It can’t happen–period.

    —”This is at the heart of this discussion. You say various things about this principle in your comment. I won’t respond to them individually. What I cannot find is any kind of proof of this statement – just reiteration in various ways that it is absurd or irrational not to belief it.”

    The first principles of right reason cannot be arrived by sifting through facts in evidence; they must be accepted as the starting points for all rational discourse. Evidence must be interpreted, and the principles of right reason constitute the rational standards for interpretation. We do not reason our way TO them; we reason our way FROM them.

    —”Yet I do not believe it and find I can continue to live without absurdity.”

    You can’t really say that because you have no rational standard by which your absurdity could be identified.

    I wrote: “How can your position be “rational” when rationality is defined as being in alignment with reason’s rules—which you reject? Of course, if you have another definition of rationality, you are free to share it. Define rationality and the principles which make it rational. I will hold you to this.”

    You have characterized my statement in this way: How can your position be “rational” when rationality is defined as being in alignment with reason’s rules—which you reject?

    Yet you conspicuously leave out this part: ["Of course, if you have another definition of rationality, you are free to share it. Define rationality and the principles which make it rational. I will hold you to this"]

    Why did you do that?

    —”But I haven’t rejected any of reason’s rules. I have just pointed out that sometimes what appears to be a self-evident rule of reason turns out not to be. I hold to the vast majority of the same rules as you. I don’t find “nothing can exist without a cause” to be one of them.”

    If you would go through the intellectual exercise required to answer my questions, the ones you studiously avoided, you would come to the end of yourself and discover your folly. You reject what you considers to be “my” non-negotiable standards for rationality, but you will not tell us about your non-negotiable standards for rationality. Think about that. You claim not to have abandoned the very same principle that you cannot or will not define. In fact, you have no non-negotiable standards to underpin the reasoning process. If a person has no standards for rationality, then that person cannot, by definition, be rational.

  240. vivid #239
    I really am short of time but this is such an aggressive comment I feel bound to respond.

    Also I notice you still refuse to honestly put your cards on the table ( surprise, surprise) Are you going to continue to duck and cover regarding the questions put to you by tgpeeler? See 227

    I promise you I am not meaning to deceive anyone.

    I guess you are primarily talking about this question.

    “No. I am asking for what your intellectual commitment is. My intellectual commitment is to start with what cannot be rationally denied (first principles) and go from there. So where do you start?”
    Mark instead of telling us why cause isnt cause, that effects do not neccessarily need causes, or there is no need for a first cause. Instead answer tgepeelers question “where do YOU start”?

    I guess you are looking for some system similar to Descartes. A set of rules that determine how I can get to know anything else. I am going to disappoint you because I don’t think rationality works that way. 3 years of philosophy and 60 years of life have taught me to be very suspicious of such grand schemes. I don’t start anywhere – but perceptions have a high priority – I know I am typing at the moment – I didn’t work that out from some system of logic – I can see it and feel it. Of course perceptions can be wrong, I might even be in a matrix world where they are all wrong, but it works OK for me to assume they are right the vast majority of the time.

    Of course, I also accept a lot of logical and mathematical statements as true – mostly the same ones as you I imagine – but there is a little bit of me that is prepared to modify my view if they conflict with my perceptions (or more likely someone else’s report of their perceptions). The modification usually takes the form of refining their meaning rather than straightforward denial. So I don’t see them as axiomatic.

    Is this the kind of thing you were looking for or does it still count as ducking and covering?

  241. 242
    William J. Murray

    markf says : I don’t start anywhere.”

    And THAT, my friends, is as self-evident a truth as was ever uttered.

    ;)

  242. F/N:

    I could not but help noticing this in 236 from MF, and hope the corrective below can help us all make progress:

    But I haven’t rejected any of reason’s rules. I have just pointed out that sometimes what appears to be a self-evident rule of reason turns out not to be. I hold to the vast majority of the same rules as you. I don’t find “nothing can exist without a cause” to be one of them.

    But, the correct form as stated repeatedly above and commonly — and the distinction is vital to the question of a necessary as opposed to a contingent being — is:

    “That which begins to exist [and/or may cease from existing] has a cause.”

    In short, effects have causes, as was discussed earlier today from 237 on.

    Now, what is very, very interesting is that MF is somehow unable to accurately summarise what is actually being stated by those who he is exchanging with; on a very basic principle in philosophy.

    That suggests that, unfortunately, he does not correctly know the principle in question that he wishes to reject. But, if one is rejecting a strawmannish caricature [all too common on exchanges surrounding ID debates, as the Weak Argument Correctives testify], one is not even addressing the real matter on the table.

    Let us hope we can now address the actual matter: things which begin to exist or may go out of existence are effects and have causes.

    Causes that often come as clusters of factors.

    Where some are necessary, removal of just one is enough to block coming into existence or to cause it to cease existing. When there are sufficient causal factors, the thing WILL come into and/or be sustained in existence. (Think about the fire triangle of fuel, heat and oxidiser as a key example; per Copi’s Logic.)

    GEM of TKI

  243. “I promise you I am not meaning to deceive anyone.”

    I do not doubt that.

    “I guess you are looking for some system similar to Descartes”

    No I was looking for “where You start”

    “I don’t start anywhere “

    Really?? You most certainly start somewhere, you start with your perceptions.

    “– but perceptions have a high priority – I know I am typing at the moment….but there is a little bit of me that is prepared to modify my view if they conflict with my perceptions (or more likely someone else’s report of their perceptions).

    “ – I didn’t work that out from some system of logic – I can see it and feel it”

    You are mistaken as you certainly did work that out from some system of logic.

    “Is this the kind of thing you were looking for or does it still count as ducking and covering?”

    Yes this is the first time you provided some semblance of an answer to tgpeelers questions. Up to this point you did indeed duck and cover but you are now out from under the desk.

    Vivid

  244. “I guess you are looking for some system similar to Descartes. A set of rules that determine how I can get to know anything else. I am going to disappoint you because I don’t think rationality works that way.”

    But that is exactly the way rationality works for you. There is no difference from Descartes ” I think therefore I am” and your “I type therfore I know I am typing” :)

    Vivd

  245. 246

    Descartes was once asked by a waiter: “Would you care for some more wine?”

    “I think not!” charged Descartes, and he vanished.

    There lies the oxymoronic “logic of irrationalism” in a nutshell. :)

  246. #244


    me: I know I am typing at the moment…. ….

    ….I didn’t work that out from some system of logic – I can see it and feel it”

    you: You are mistaken as you certainly did work that out from some system of logic.

    This is where we fundamentally differ. Clearly people do not usually work out what they know from a system of logic. Children and many adults have never heard of logical systems – yet they get to know things. The most you can claim is that everyone must be using some system of logic intuitively without realising it and this is happening from a very early age!

  247. MF:

    Re:

    The most you can claim is that everyone must be using some system of logic intuitively without realising it and this is happening from a very early age!

    Children etc may not formally work out sophisticated apparati for laying out theories of logic, but they instinctively and intuitively use — precisely the framework of laws that you wish to doubt and dismiss:

    1 –> On massive and easily accessed observation, they form and hold the following stable view of reality, as can easily be seen from their actions, once they have grown enough to communicate:

    [a] A thing is what it is (the law of identity);

    [b] A thing cannot at once be and not-be (the law of non-contradiction);

    [c] A thing cannot neither be nor not-be (the law of the excluded middle)

    2 –> When it comes to causality, my best example is an incident that happened in a meeting I attended a few years ago here in Montserrat [as in volcano . . .] Namely: BANG!

    3 –> Instantly, every head turned to see the source of the sudden noise, in fact a popped balloon from a decoration.

    4 –> That is, intuitively, the general assembly of philosophically unsophisticated, common-sense thinking people worked on the premise that effects have causes.

    ________________

    Now, in light of 237 – 8 above [and yes I know that your official stance is that you have no time to read what I post -- which, for many months has been rhetorically rather convenient to avoid dealing with a great many issues on the merits . . . ] why do you think that is?

    Could it be that such rules just happen to be self evident?

    So much so, that it is only after careful indoctrination and rhetorical manipulation in service to today’s reigning orthodoxies that we are led to doubt, scant and dismiss hem as truly foundational and self-warranting once we understand them enough to see what happens if we try to deny them?

    Indeed, I further observe that to write and assert claims and to give your grounds for them, we may discern a puzzling little fact: you are using precisely these “grand schemes” that you are ever so suspicious of.

    Could you try the exercise of posting for us a response in which you do not make use of laws of logic or principles and realities of cause-effect bonds?

    [The former, including not distinguishing A from Not-A, not implying that your declaration of P does not embrace NOT-P, and that when you say Q is R or Q is not-R, you do not also mean Q is a shadowy blend of the two. The latter, including what happens when you press keys on your keyboard and move the mouse over and click to send. IN SHORT, JUST TO COMMUNICATE ON THIS THREAD, YOU ARE FORCED TO COMPLY WITH THE SELF-EVIDENTLY TRUTHFUL NATURE OF FIRST PRINCIPLES OF RIGHT REASON.]

    Finally, could you kindly acknowledge correction above of your misrepresentation of the law of cause-effect [I add the last to make it plain what I speak of].

    GEM of TKI

  248. F/N:

    On the main subject of this thread, I have continued to work on the introduction page for that beta test IOSE course.

    As I have done so, I have been led to again contrast the sort of recent stipulative definition of “science” as issued by the US National Academy of Sciences and similar institutions of today’s reigning orthodoxies on science with the sort of definitions that commonly occurred in reference grade dictionaries over the past several decades:

    _________________

    US NAS, 2008:

    >>In science, explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena. Natural causes are, in principle, reproducible and therefore can be checked independently by others. If explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations. Any scientific explanation has to be testable — there must be possible observational consequences that could support the idea but also ones that could refute it. Unless a proposed explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially count against it, that explanation cannot be subjected to scientific testing.

    Definition of Science

    The use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process. [US NAS, 2008] >>

    Kansas State Education Standards, 2001 [the FIRST US state standards to be radicalised in line with the above agenda]:

    >> Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations of the world around us. >>

    Cf two reference grade dictionaries from two sides of the Atlantic:

    >>science: a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles [["objective: external to the mind; actually existing; real"] involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe. [[Concise Oxford Dictionary, (Oxford: Clarendon Press) 1990 -- and yes, they used the "z." (Emphasis and definition of objectivity from the same source added.)] >>

    >> scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge [[= "the body of truth, information and principles acquired by mankind"] involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. [[Webster's 7th Collegiate Dictionary,( Springfield, Mass: G & C Merriam), 1965. (Definition of "Knowledge" in the same dictionary inserted, and emphasis added.)] >>

    __________________

    So, as the UD Weak Argument Correctives (so studiously avoided by too many objectors who comment here at UD) also highlight, it is quite clear that >> the attempted imposition of the “rule” of methodological naturalism as an absolute criterion of science is in fact a very recent development, and is in part motivated by conflicts over origins science. Plainly, however, issues of truth-seeking about our world and degree of warrant for conclusions cannot be settled by stipulating such an artificial constraint.>>

    Which brings us full circle to the Arrington-Gene-Plantinga argument in the original post, which we need to get back to (and which is now cited as below in the same introductory IOSE page):

    _________________

    >> Today, for the sake of argument only, let us make two assumptions:

    1. First, let us assume that the design hypothesis is correct, i.e., that living things appear to be designed for a purpose because they were in fact designed for a purpose.

    2. Second, let us assume [[presumably, by the "rule" of methodological naturalism] that the design hypothesis is not a scientific hypothesis, which means that ID proponents are not engaged in a scientific endeavor, or, as our opponents so often say, “ID is not science.”

    From these assumptions, the following conclusion follows: If the design hypothesis is correct and at the same time the design hypothesis may not be advanced as a valid scientific hypothesis, then the structure of science prohibits it from discovering the truth about the origin of living things . . . .

    No one can know with absolute certainty that the design hypothesis is false. It follows from the absence of absolute knowledge, that each person should be willing to accept at least the possibility that the design hypothesis is correct, however remote that possibility might seem to him. Once a person makes that concession, as every honest person must, the game is up. The question is no longer whether ID is science or non-science. The question is whether the search for the truth of the matter about the natural world should be structurally biased against a possibly true hypothesis. [["What if it's true?" Uncommon Descent, Aug. 6, 2010. (Emphasis added.)] >>
    __________________

    This is a very good question, and we need to ask ourselves why we are being told that in effect we should abandon the view that:

    “Science, at its best, is the unfettered (but intellectually and ethically responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, based on observation, experiment, logico-mathematical analysis and discussion among the informed.”

    There’s plainly something a rotting in the state of Denmark . . .

    Okay, it’s 1979 II . . .

    GEM of TKI

  249. PS: Plantinga’s discussion is here and here.

    In the second of these, starting 3rd page, Plantinga raises an interesting point on the “Divine Foot in the door” fearmongering that is so characteristic of today’s magisterium:

    But even if it were true by definition that a scientific hypothesis could involve no reference to God, nothing of much interest would follow. The Augustines and Kuypers of this world would then be obliged to concede that they had made a mistake: but the mistake would be no more than a verbal mistake. They would have to concede that they
    can’t properly use the term ‘science’ in stating their view or asking their question; they would have to use some other term, such as ‘sience’ (pronounced like ‘science’); the definition of ‘sience’ results from that of ‘science’ by deleting from the latter the clause proscribing hypotheses that include reference to God (i.e., by removing from the
    definition of ‘science’ Ruse seems to be endorsing, the clause according to which science deals only with what is natural). Their mistake would not be in what they proposed to say, but rather in how they proposed to say it.

    The real question, I think, lies in a quite different direction. The term ‘science’ denotes an important human activity. It is difficult or impossible to give (informative) necessary and sufficient conditions for this activity; it is not possible to say just where science ends and something else (common-sense knowledge, metaphysics, epistemology, religion) begins. However, we can describe paradigms of science, and we can say informative things about
    what usually or often characterizes science. Thus, for example, it is characteristic of this activity to involve observation and experiments (sometimes ‘thought experiments’ as
    opposed to experiments actually carried out). And often there will be a reference to something described (or named) as a law, although it isn’t part of the activity in question to insist that this ‘law’ is more than a regularity. It is also characteristic of such a paradigm that it makes testable predictions.42 This is a feature of a paradigmatic instance of the beast in question, but of course not necessarily a feature of every example . . . .

    And now the question is this. Should Christians carry on this enterprise from a Christian perspective? Is this enterprise such that religious or theological perspective is relevant to it? We won’t get an answer to this question from a mere definition of the word ‘science’; an answer will require familiarity with the activity, and the discernment necessary to seeing what is characteristic of it. So an answer will involve substantive questions about the nature of science, our own nature, and the nature of the world in which we live . . .

    And, given what is on the table, the question even involves the credibility of the first principles of right reason.

  250. markf: “I am going to disappoint you because I don’t think rationality works that way.”

    I already know that you don’t think rationality works that way [according to the principles of right reason]. What I am asking is how you think rationality does work. What is it? What conditions must a person meet in order to be rational. Clearly, you reject our conditions. So, it is only fair that you would present your conditions. Or, is it the case that you have never even thought about the matter even though you continue to comment on it?

    You say you haven’t abandoned rationality but you will not tell us what it is that you have not abandoned. Don’t you have to know what something is before you can say that you haven’t abandoned it?

  251. #251

    Stephenb

    I don’t have the time to write an essay on rationality. Here are a few comments.

    First – don’t look for a neat definition of rationality. It is a word with multiple overlapping threads.

    Rational behaviour would include:

    Believing my perceptions (but allowing that they may be wrong some of the time).

    Believing that patterns I have observed regularly are likely to continue in the future and elsewhere (induction) but I may be wrong some of the time.

    An interesting topic is the role of logic and maths. They are useful tools and a rational person will use them. They will also realise that they may use them incorrectly – they may get the maths wrong or they may apply them wrongly.

    So rationality is a mixture of different behaviours – none of which are perfect.

    This is a very partial account of a complex subject ….

  252. I asked, “Define rationality and the principles which make it rational.”

    –markf: “Believing my perceptions (but allowing that they may be wrong some of the time).”

    Thank you for your answer. So, by your definition, I am rational if I “believe YOUR perceptions” (allowing that they could be wrong?)

    Or, did you mean to say that rationality consists in everyone following his/her own perceptions?

    –”Believing that patterns I have observed regularly are likely to continue in the future and elsewhere (induction) but I may be wrong some of the time.”

    Again, by your definition, I am a rational person if I believe that the patterns that YOU observe regularly are likely to continue in the future and elsewhere?, (with the provision that they might be wrong.)

    Once again, perhaps you didn’t mean exactly what you said. Are you trying to say that rationatity consists in everyone believing the patterns he or she observes.
    —”An interesting topic is the role of logic and maths. They are useful tools and a rational person will use them.”

    Does your definition of logic and math include rules? You have already stated that reason need not have any rules, defining it in terms of your own perceptions. So, I assume that, since logic and math are important elements in rationality, you also define them in terms of your own perception and believe that you are being rational if you follow those perceptions, (allowing that they may be wrong.)

    Does this mean that, in order for me to apply logic and mathematics properly, I must follow your perceptions [or my perceptions] about them?

  253. Markf

    “This is where we fundamentally differ. Clearly people do not usually work out what they know from a system of logic.”

    Wrong. The only way to work out what we KNOW can only come from employing the rules of right reason. If you disagree then give us one example of how you KNOW something without using one of rules of right reason set forth by KF.

    a] A thing is what it is (the law of identity);

    [b] A thing cannot at once be and not-be (the law of non-contradiction);

    [c] A thing cannot neither be nor not-be (the law of the excluded middle

    Vivid

  254. Vivid::

    Laws of reality, long before they were ever formally expressed as laws of logic.

    Or, citing Isaiah [NET Bible, download here]:

    Is 5:20 Those who call evil good and good evil are as good as dead,50

    who turn darkness into light and light into darkness,

    who turn bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter.51

    5:21 Those who think they are wise are as good as dead,52

    those who think they possess understanding.53

    (Notice how being evil is strongly identified with confusing categories . . . )

    Then, there is that pesky law of cause-effect (with a little IF-THEN Modus Ponens tossed in]:

    Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool.12 For a person13 will reap what he sows, 6:8 because the person who sows to his own flesh14 will reap corruption15 from the flesh,16 but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 6:9 So we must not grow weary17 in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up.18 6:10 So then,19 whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith.20

    H’mm, so those “dummy fundies” were getting a bit of a Basic Logic 101 with their Bible readings all along?

    Whoda thunkit?

    Well, mebbe that wise old fella from 3,000 years ago, Solomon:

    Prov 3:5 Trust12 in the Lord with all your heart,13

    and do not rely14 on your own understanding.15

    3:6 Acknowledge16 him in all your ways,17

    and he will make your paths straight.18

    3:7 Do not be wise in your own estimation;19

    fear the Lord and turn away from evil.20

    3:8 This will bring21 healing to your body,22

    and refreshment23 to your inner self.24

    Food for thought . . .

    GEM of TKI

  255. KF

    This explains it for me.

    “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools”

    We must never forget that mankind left to him or herself hates and suppresses the truth. How much does mankind hate the truth? Here is how much. When it came we killed it.

    Vivid

  256. Vivid: Rom 1:19 ff (and Don’t forget Eph 4:17 – 24) — talk about being “in de nile.” Yup. Sad, though. G

  257. And Hebrews 3:4 concerning cause and effect.

    For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

    But G and V nailed it. See Matthew 12 also…

    Matt. 12:9 And departing from there, He went into their synagogue.
    Matt. 12:10 And behold, there was a man with a withered hand. And they questioned Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” — in order that they might accuse Him.
    Matt. 12:11 And He said to them, “What man shall there be among you, who shall have one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it, and lift it out?
    Matt. 12:12 “Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
    Matt. 12:13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” And he stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other.
    Matt. 12:14 But the Pharisees went out, and counseled together against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

    The Creator of the universe performed a miracle in front of them and their response was to plot murder. I’d say that’s not an intellectual problem, that’s some other kind of problem altogether.

    Great thread. No one who is genuinely seeking to understand could go through this discussion without “getting it.” Regards to all who spoke so eloquently in defense of R/reason. Only a willfully obstinate person could fail to grasp this truth – that reason’s rules inform evidence (perceptions for markf), evidence does not inform reason’s rules.

    p.s. SB, did I get that right? :-)

  258. tg, music to my ears.

  259. #253 Stephenb
    As I said, don’t look for a neat definition – like so many concepts rationality has overlapping threads none of which are necessary or sufficient but all of which contribute to the concept. See Wittgenstein on games.

    Thank you for your answer. So, by your definition, I am rational if I “believe YOUR perceptions” (allowing that they could be wrong?)
    Or, did you mean to say that rationality consists in everyone following his/her own perceptions?

    Part of rationality is believing what you see, hear etc. -I only believe other people’s perceptions to the degree that I believe what they report. This is an important thread in the concept of rationality. A key part of the enlightenment was moving from coming to conclusions about the world by pure thought to observation. Someone who refuses to believe their eyes is well on the way to being irrational.

    Once again, perhaps you didn’t mean exactly what you said. Are you trying to say that rationatity consists in everyone believing the patterns he or she observes.

    It is an important thread – basically rational people tend to learn from the patterns they observe.

    Does your definition of logic and math include rules? You have already stated that reason need not have any rules, defining it in terms of your own perceptions. So, I assume that, since logic and math are important elements in rationality, you also define them in terms of your own perception and believe that you are being rational if you follow those perceptions, (allowing that they may be wrong.)

    Logic and maths are rules and can be very useful. I don’t understand your assumption. I don’t define them in terms of anything. As I said following your perceptions is an important part of rationality but not definitive.

    Does this mean that, in order for me to apply logic and mathematics properly, I must follow your perceptions [or my perceptions] about them?

    No. How did you get here?

  260. #254 vividbleau
    Wrong. The only way to work out what we KNOW can only come from employing the rules of right reason. If you disagree then give us one example of how you KNOW something without using one of rules of right reason set forth by KF.

    (I am not going to wade through a KF essay). I know that it is daylight by looking out of the window. My dog knows that we have another dog in the house because he can smell it. Which rules is he using? How is he using them?

  261. Onlookers (& Vivid & MF, + SB):

    Pardon one of those KF essays that MF is so eager not to “wade through.”

    The following excerpt of 254 and response from 261 is ever so revealing:

    ______________________

    MF in 261: >>[VB, 254, Excerpt:] Wrong. The only way to work out what we KNOW can only come from employing the rules of right reason. If you disagree then give us one example of how you KNOW something without using one of rules of right reason set forth by KF.

    [OMITTED: from KF at 248 and 237 - 8, cf. 216 -7:][a] A thing is what it is (the law of identity);

    [b] A thing cannot at once be and not-be (the law of non-contradiction);

    [c] A thing cannot neither be nor not-be (the law of the excluded middle

    Vivid]

    [MF, 261:] (I am not going to wade through a KF essay). I know that it is daylight by looking out of the window. My dog knows that we have another dog in the house because he can smell it. Which rules is he using? How is he using them?>>
    ______________________

    1 –> Observe how by cutting off just what particular rules of right reason were cited from my comment at 248 (and onward to Aristotle), MF was artfully able to begin by dismissively attacking the man and poisoning the well by subtle suggestion, instead of addressing the issue.

    2 –> Now, of course, in so attacking the undersigned, he recognised that my identity is stable, and that a comment by me is a comment by me. So, he used the Law of Identity.

    3 –> He speaks of knowing it is daylight by looking our the window. This means he distinguishes daylight from not-daylight, windows from not windows, and recognises knowledge as warranted, credibly true belief, as opposed to the opposite. So, while refusing to acknowledge that he is doing that, he is using the laws of non-contradiction and the excluded middle.

    4 –> Let’s syllogise:

    In all cases in Daylight my window will be illuminated from the sun.

    My window is illuminated from the sun
    ____________________________

    It is daylignt

    5 –> Without elaborating the sets and intersections [which is what syllogisms are about; try reducing them to Venn Diagrams sometime], we can see that MF has here used the law of he excluded middle, as well as identity and non-contradiction. As, he must if he is to reason coherently.

    6 –> Now, too, MF plainly thinks that citing his dog smelling someone in the house is a dismissal. this reveals how he has overlooked that the point made in 255: “[First principles of right reason are] Laws of reality, long before they were ever formally expressed as laws of logic.”

    7 –> To survive, dogs have to conform to reality, so even without verbalising — there is BTW some debate that dogs may conceptualise and recognise words [though they cannot imitate and utter them, unlike parrots] as labels for concepts — the dog has to respond to the reality of identity, the contrast between a state of affairs and its opposite [and pick which is the case], and know that either such a state is or its denial is.

    7 –> So, dogs are pre-programmed to act on the laws of thought.

    8 –> And even those who would dismiss their foundational nature and the point that to deny them lands one in hopeless absurdities, are in practice forced to use them routinely. (Also, evasiveness simply means unwillingness to acknowledge the patent fact.)

    9 –> So, by attending to facts in evidence [even though they are not acknowledged explicitly] we may easily discern the actual balance on the merits.

    _________________

    If it were not so sad, and so sadly revealing of the peril our civilisation faces at the hands of evolutionary materialism-supported irrationality, the above would be funny.

    But, it is far too tragic and portentous of harm, to be funny.

    Let us pray and work for eyes to be opened before it is too late.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: cf Plato in The Laws Bk X [cited here in summary point u towards the end, and discussed here in point a of the Origins Sci in Society module of the IOSE beta, in details] on how Evo Mat leads to this sort of breakdown, known since 360 BC. Yes, 2300+ years ago.

  262. F/N: On Wittgenstein . . .

    MF provides a link to a Wiki discussion that starts with an exercise on definition:

    Wittgenstein first asks the reader to perform a thought experiment: to come up with a definition of the word “game”.[6] While this may at first seem a simple task, he then goes on to lead us through the problems with each of the possible definitions of the word “game”. Any definition which focuses on amusement leaves us unsatisfied since the feelings experienced by a world class chess player are very different from those of a circle of children playing Duck Duck Goose. Any definition which focuses on competition will fail to explain the game of catch, or the game of solitaire. And a definition of the word “game” which focuses on rules will fall on similar difficulties.

    The essential point of this exercise is often missed. Wittgenstein’s point is not that it is impossible to define “game”, but that we don’t have a definition, and we don’t need one, because even without the definition, we use the word successfully.[7] Everybody understands what we mean when we talk about playing a game, and we can even clearly identify and correct inaccurate uses of the word, all without reference to any definition that consists of necessary and sufficient conditions for the application of the concept of a game . . . .

    Wittgenstein argues that definitions emerge from what he termed “forms of life”, roughly the culture and society in which they are used. Wittgenstein stresses the social aspects of cognition; to see how language works, we have to see how it functions in a specific social situation. It is this emphasis on becoming attentive to the social backdrop against which language is rendered intelligible that explains Wittgenstein’s elliptical comment that “If a lion could talk, we could not understand him.”[9]

    Wittgenstein rejects the idea that ostensive definitions can provide us with the meaning of a word. For Wittgenstein, the thing that the word stands for does not give the meaning of the word. Wittgenstein argues for this making a series of moves to show that to understand an ostensive definition presupposes an understanding of the way the word being defined is used.[10] So, for instance, there is no difference between pointing to a piece of paper, to its colour, or to its shape; but understanding the difference is crucial to using the paper in an ostensive definition of a shape or of a colour . . .

    1 –> W has spotlighted a common enough problem: “definitionitis” often fails, so we are forced to rely on forming a concept through use-cases and family resemblance.

    2 –> But, you see, educators have had to address this for many decades. By structured exercises with examples carefully arranged so that there is only one key factor in common, they allow abstracting the key concept from the examples, through an informal inference to best explanation on common factors.

    3 –> Then, to clarify borders, carefully selected counter-examples and examples are contrasted: “which one of these is not like the others, which one of these is not the same . . . “

    4 –> Thus, we form concepts and structure sets that delineate boundaries that allow us to distinguish members and non-members [identity, non-contradiction and excluded middle appear implicitly again . . . ]

    5 –> So, yes, understanding of word meanings comes from interaction with environments and communities in which learning happens, formally or informally. (Recall, MF: I am a self-confessed Richard Skempian moderate constructivist as an educator.)

    6 –> But, equally plainly, that does not remove the fact that we can assign membership to sets, and that we can observe or verbalise accurate facts on how set memberships interact, i.e. how syllogisms work. (Including the modern elaboration to the empty set case, but especially in the classic logical context where it is implicit that sets are formed because they have actual recognised members in them.)

    7 –> Such facts can then be elaborated in rules, and voila we have in hand certain laws of thought. Laws of reality before they ever are stated laws of correct reasoning.

    8 –> To then refuse to articulate such laws, and to refuse to acknowledge that some of them just happen to be self-evident on pain of absurdity on attempted denial, even while implicitly using them is an attempt to have your cake and eat it too.

    9 –> And, guess which laws of thought just happen to underlie this classic little proverb?

    ________________

    So, we might as well be willing to take the faith-step risk of explicit commitment.

    We are doing so implicitly anyway, but at least being explicit allows us to so clarify our thoughts that we can see where we make a mistake and correct ourselves.

    By contrast, “there is nothing more to truth than it SEEMS true to you or me,” is itself an objective truth claim; which it was trying to undermine. That is, this subtle form of radical relativism — and radical relativism and amorality stem from evolutionary materialism, as was exposed by Plato in The Laws Bk X so long ago — is self-refuting by being self referential and self-contradictory.

    Reductio ad absurdum, per modus tollens.

    Of course, one may elect to be selectively hyperskeptical, accepting MT based reductios in mathematics and other “serious” contexts, while scanting it in cases where it points where one would rather not go.

    But that self-serving inconsistency simply exposes what Simon Greenleaf ever so long ago called “the error of the skeptic.” (Just look at the red text in the highlighted cite. Then, please read the context.)

    _________

    Onlookers:

    Do we not now ever so painfully but plainly see how — after vaunting itself on its scientific rationality, “professing itself to be wise . . . ” — evolutionary materialism in fact self-destructs in ever widening circles of self-referential incoherence and contradictions leading to utter irrationality?

    It’s 1979 II, and another vaunted ideology of man defying Rom 1:19 ff and Eph 4: 17 ff is beginning to crack at its base . . .

    The much despised old apostle to the nations nailed it, 2000 years ago.

    Check . . . mate within 20 years.

    GEM

  263. F/N 2: See why I think that intelligence is broader than just us, and why I suspect that it may well have diverse ontological bases?

    (Cf my discussion on the architecture of mind and its origin, here [esp Section C, including Fig G.19], based on the Derek Smith two-tier MIMO servocontroller system model.)

    I think AI is a feasible exercise and may actually succeed in creating a software mind on Silicon hardware [and I think say dogs, chimps, dolphins and parrots have a case on wetware].

    That does not prevent us from having minds of an immaterial essence that can interact with matter-energy entities in space-time.

    Nor does it prevent there from being a necessary being of great intelligence that designed and implemented the observable matter energy space time cosmos we inhabit as a fit habitat for C-chemistry cell based, intelligent life. (I infer this on fine-tuning of a complex functional system as a strong and empirically warranted sign of directed contingency. Just like how, generally speaking, radios are not on hard to tune stations by accident and just as complex control systems are not tuned to work by accident.)

    The perceived contradiction between the possible architectures is a conceptual error. BOTH designs can potentially be true, if only we did not make materialism confuse us to think they are inherently opposed.

  264. —”Part of rationality is believing what you see, hear etc. -I only believe other people’s perceptions to the degree that I believe what they report. This is an important thread in the concept of rationality.”

    So, what you meant to say was that rationality consists, in large part, in believing one’s one’s own perceptions. That means of course a person can be rational if he believes his hallucinations. Indeed, by your philosophy, a hallucination is indistinguishable from a perception. You do know that, don’t you?

    —-”A key part of the enlightenment was moving from coming to conclusions about the world by pure thought to observation. Someone who refuses to believe their eyes is well on the way to being irrational.”

    You are right to a point. However, the knowledge arrived at by your senses tells only part of the story. The other part comes from the intellect, which interprets the knowledge provided by the senses. The error of rationalism [NOT RATIONALITY] is to affirm knowledge gained by the mind and deny knowledge gained by sense experience; the error of empiricism is to affirm knowledge gained by sense experience and deny knowledge gained through the intellect.

    In fact, our knowledge comes both from the intellectual faculty and the sense faculty–a formulation called “realism.” It is in this fashion that we can distinguish between our hallucinations, our perceptions, and reality. It is precisely for this reason that evidence provided by the senses must be interpreted through the rules of right reason provided by the intellect. Our sense experience tells us only that a planet is moving. It is through both our sense experience and our intellect that we can know that it orbits a star.

    The enlightenment fell into the opposite errors of rationalism and empiricism, ignoring the realistic epistemology that informs true knowledge. If I were to meet you in person, for example, I would know you through the particulars provided by the sense faculty [that which distinguishes you from all other humans (height, weight, hair color, features, etc)] and through the universal provided by the intellectual faculty [that which we all have in common (our humanity etc.)]

    Further, the enlightenment fell into the most deadly error of all, the destructive impulse to believe that we cannot know anything about reality. Nothing could be more devastating to reason, and nothing could be more false. We can, and do, know reality, not PERFECTLY, but RELIABLY, through our sense knowledge and our intellect.

    To know from one faculty and not not from the other is not to have complete knowledge. Indeed, the rules of right reason constitute the intellectual mediating quality that helps us interpret the meaning and nature of that which we sense. If I know all Mark’s features [particulars] but do not know his essensce [universal], I do not know him. By contrast, if I know his essence, but do not know his features, I do not know him.

    —It is an important thread – basically rational people tend to learn from the patterns they observe.”

    Again, one cannot learn from sense experience without the help of the intellect.

    —”Logic and maths are rules and can be very useful. I don’t understand your assumption. I don’t define them in terms of anything.”

    If logic has rules and math has rules, then reason has rules. Do you not see that?

    You defined rationality as “perceptions.” Since logic and math are integral to rationality, I assumed that you also understood them in terms of perception. That is why I raised the issue of logic and math in the first place–to see if you would reduce them to perception as well.

    —As I said following your perceptions is an important part of rationality but not definitive.”

    I asked you to “define” rationality and explain the conditions that must be present in order for a person to be rational. Since you stated that my clear defintion was wrong, it was only fair that you provide another definition. Further, you stated that you had not “left” rationality, as I claim is the case, so I wanted to find out if you could define that which claim that you didn’t leave. Your answer was to say that rationality consists in following perceptions, which have no rules, and applying logic and math, which do have rules. As you must be able to discern, those two formulations are not compatible.

    To be sure, reason consists of more than math and logic, including such things as intuition. However, reason, while surpassing even logic and math in nobility, cannot, in any way, abandon the rules of logic and math. Put another way, reason can and should transcend math and logic, but it cannot by pass their rules.

    There are two kinds of insanity: One which lives solely by logic, and the other which abandons logic.

  265. #265

    Stephenb

    I started to respond to your post bit by bit – but realised this would only lead to trivial disagreements and misunderstandings.

    I will try a different tack.

    I believe there is a quite a lot we have in common.

    Like you (I think) I hold that rational creatures:

    Learn about the world through their senses but also have some processes and assumptions built-in to their mind (I am sure we differ about how they got there!). So in that sense they learn through a combination of intellect and perception.

    For example, normally functioning humans:

    (a)Interpret sensory information by, for example, picking out faces and giving them names

    (b) Have some built-in beliefs/assumptions e.g. I am fairly sure that we are born assuming that anything that looks like a person also experiences the world in a similar way to us – we don’t deduce this.

    Both of these are part of being rational. Neither of them are 100% reliable. (a) is more like a process than knowledge. (b) could be called built in knowledge. It is an assumption that turns out to be right (pending androids).

    Where we differ big-time is in the role of “rules of reason”. Take the Aristotelean candidates that Vivid suggested:

    a] A thing is what it is (the law of identity);

    [b] A thing cannot at once be and not-be (the law of non-contradiction);

    [c] A thing cannot neither be nor not-be (the law of the excluded middle

    The trouble here is not so much that I doubt them but I wonder what they mean. Philosophers have argued about this for centuries. If an irrational creature is defined as a creature that does not conform to them how does it behave?

    They don’t seem to add to my concept of rationality because I can’t understand what they add.

  266. MF:

    Pardon, but a few notes.

    We both know that to make the above post, you used the relevant three laws all the way. Every time you relied on a stable identity, every time you asserted something was the case, and every time that you implied that denial is the alternative to assertion.

    Yes, we can play with empty sets [or propose variants on Lord Russell's barber paradox, which is why sets are now seen as definable collections . . . ], and end up in modified squares of opposition and we can discuss Zahedian cases (useful in controls . . . when precisely is one hot, warm or cold: we can do a weighted sum blending properties of each to trigger crisp control actions) but even to discuss such cases is riddled with the implicit assumptions of the relevant principles.

    Those who (especially in recent decades) expended foot-tons of intellectual energy, forests of trees and rivers of ink to make it seem that that is dubious, only succeeded in showing that hey are implicitly assuming what they wish to doubt.

    Like that fellow who asked was it Socrates to prove that logic was necessary in proof. Soc [or whoever] pointed out that to prove required — logic.

    GEM of TKI

  267. 268

    “In fact, our knowledge comes both from the intellectual faculty and the sense faculty–a formulation called “realism.” It is in this fashion that we can distinguish between our hallucinations, our perceptions, and reality.”

    I’m reminded here of a scene from the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” (which as someone with experience in mental health, presented some inaccuracies). Notwithstanding, this scene illustrates how a man experiencing hallucinations is able to differentiate what is real from what is illusory.

    In the scene, Nash (played by Russell Crowe), the main character sees the young girl of his hallucination, which he has just surmised, has been a part of his collective experience for several years, and in conclusion, he ascertains that she “never ages.” This knowledge allows him to surmise that she is not a part of reality, but is in fact an hallucination.

    If his rationality came only from his senses, he would not have been able to come to this conclusion. His senses told him that she is real. It was a combination of the senses and his appeal to right reason, which allowed him to come to the correct conclusion. Right reason told him that real people age. The passage of time requires that a young girl will eventually be a young woman, and then an older woman. While this is observational and experiential, it is also founded on principles of reason. Even if a collective of the same or similar experiences occurs, without reason as our guide, we cannot presume that what typically occurs as the result of similar causes, will likely occur again. We could accept that while people generally age according to our experience and observation, an example of someone not aging, could in fact negate our observations and experience.

    What is interesting here is that Nash was using his reason even with regard to believing the hallucination. He concluded at one time that what he was seeing was real, because he could sense it. This required his reasoning, however faulty.

    But when he was able to use his reasoning based on other observations in his experience, he was able to see the difference. But it wasn’t his observation alone that allowed him to come to this conclusion. It was his reasoning when faced with conflicting observations, which allowed this. He knew that the observations were conflicting, based on rules of reason.

  268. 269

    “(a)Interpret sensory information by, for example, picking out faces and giving them names”

    Mark,

    We place names to faces precisely because we trust in the law of non-contradiction.

    Let me give you an example of this:

    A particular face represents Jennifer. We know that by seeing Jennifer’s face, she is not Samantha, and by seeing Samantha’s face, she is not Jennifer. If we did not appeal to the law of non-contradiction, we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Jennifer and Samantha.

    What strikes me here is that even if we reason that Jennifer and Samantha are both women, and so are the same, we still appeal to the law of non-contradiction. We do this by determining what are the features, which distinguish a woman from what is not a woman. Samantha and John are not the same because one is a woman, and one is a man. But both are human, so we can still surmise that they are the same. We are now left with using the law of non-contradiction in distinguishing a human from a non-human; again, using the law of non-contradiction.

    No matter how you look at it, observation and categorization requires an appeal to the laws of reason; whether you acknowledge such laws or not.

  269. StephenB @ 259

    :-)

  270. CY #268 and #269

    Right reason told him that real people age.

    Well no – it was acquired empirical knowledge. No amount of logic alone will produce this conclusion. Nor is it 100% certain to be true – one day we may have the technology to avoid it.

    A particular face represents Jennifer. We know that by seeing Jennifer’s face, she is not Samantha, and by seeing Samantha’s face, she is not Jennifer. If we did not appeal to the law of non-contradiction, we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Jennifer and Samantha.

    Suppose it is one person who sometimes has one face and sometimes another? Or a mask? My built-in tendency to allocate my perceptions to patterns may deceive me. Two things may appear to be different at different times when they are the same and vice versa. What has the law of non-contradiction contributed?

  271. CY #269

    Sorry – I didn’t do justice to your second paragraph.

    What strikes me here is that even if we reason that Jennifer and Samantha are both women, and so are the same, we still appeal to the law of non-contradiction. We do this by determining what are the features, which distinguish a woman from what is not a woman. Samantha and John are not the same because one is a woman, and one is a man. But both are human, so we can still surmise that they are the same. We are now left with using the law of non-contradiction in distinguishing a human from a non-human; again, using the law of non-contradiction.

    We place things into categories – woman, human, animal etc. That’s something people do. What role is the law of non-contradiction playing in this activity?

  272. 273

    “We place things into categories – woman, human, animal etc. That’s something people do. What role is the law of non-contradiction playing in this activity?”

    It has everything to do with it, because we know by it that one thing is not another. Categorization is done through reason. When we categorize, we are essentially saying (for example) bears are not platapus’, and eagles are not flies. We do this because we distinguish, and as KF pointed out earlier from a line from Sesame St., “one of these things is not like the other.” We are not merely categorizing for no purpose, but we are categorizing to distinguish one object from the other, with the recognition that one object is not the other.

  273. 274

    “Well no – it was acquired empirical knowledge. No amount of logic alone will produce this conclusion. Nor is it 100% certain to be true – one day we may have the technology to avoid it.”

    I don’t think you were paying attention to what I said. He knows that there’s a distinction between what is real and what is illusion. This distinction is in essence, “one thing is not the other.” That is using the law of non-contradiction.

    Real things age, illusions do not; in this particular situation.

    Also, this may be a fact only in reference to the one situation, and may not necessarily be true for all similar situations. In this particular situation, Nash recognized that a girl that he sees and senses is an illusion. This is not to say that he would conclude that all girls whom he sees and senses are also illusions. He knows that in this particular case it is so, because of his long-term experience with this illusion, and also with his long-term experience with real girls who grow up and age. He’s distinguishing that one thing is not the other.

    “Suppose it is one person who sometimes has one face and sometimes another? Or a mask? My built-in tendency to allocate my perceptions to patterns may deceive me. Two things may appear to be different at different times when they are the same and vice versa. What has the law of non-contradiction contributed?”

    While this is an excellent point, it serves to illustrate my position more than yours. Without the law of non-contradiction, we would not be able to make the determination if the person is wearing his/her real face or a mask, because we have not made the logical determination that masks are not real faces. We have not determined that one thing is not the other.

  274. 275

    “Well no – it was acquired empirical knowledge. No amount of logic alone will produce this conclusion. Nor is it 100% certain to be true – one day we may have the technology to avoid it.”

    I think what you’re not understanding is that logic is required to assimilate knowledge – even empirical knowledge. We may use such reason incorrectly, but we still use it. Nash’s observation was true for his particular situation. He knew through reason that people age. Whether this is not true in future times may require an adjustment to the assumption that people age, but it doesn’t require an adjustment to how he reasons. It would require a new assimilation of knowledge using his reason.

    Let’s assume for argument’s sake that in the future we have learned how to stop the aging process, and another guy; let’s call him Nash2. Nash2 has hallucinations of a little girl talking to him. For all his knowledge, she is as real as you or me, yet she is an illusion. Nash2 would not be able to use his observation that people in general age to escape the illusion. But he could appeal to other experiences, such as maybe the girl never changes her clothes, and she never goes to school, and she never talks to anyone else but Nash2. He could use his experience with other little girls, and surmise that no other girls are like her. Other girls either change their clothing, or go to school, or talk to others besides himself. You could come up with other examples if you reject these, but no matter what examples you use, he would still have to appeal to a particular distinction, which would determine that the hallucination is not like what is real, in order to escape the illusion.

    I agree with you that logic alone can’t do this, but neither does observation alone. We require a combination of our experiences and observation with the laws of reason to make determinations of what is real and what is illusory. The particulars may not always be the same, but the methods, which allow us to come to correct conclusions are always an appeal to reason.

    We are really in an elementary stage here. Even babies appeal to laws of reason when they reject a person who is not their mother to hold and comfort them. They’ve made the determination Based on their experience with Mommy that this other person is not Mommy. They’ve also made the determination that they prefer Mommy to others. This requires that they know the difference between Mommy and not Mommy. So it’s a very basic part of human reasoning.

  275. It has everything to do with it, because we know by it that one thing is not another. Categorization is done through reason. When we categorize, we are essentially saying (for example) bears are not platapus’, and eagles are not flies. We do this because we distinguish, and as KF pointed out earlier from a line from Sesame St., “one of these things is not like the other.” We are not merely categorizing for no purpose, but we are categorizing to distinguish one object from the other, with the recognition that one object is not the other

    We are in danger of confusing questions of identity with questions of categorisation. There is an interesting debate to be had about what links two phenomena so that we regard them as the same object. What are the criteria for “being the same”. The fact they share many of the same categories/features will help but is not conclusive. We generally take spatio-temporal continuity as the most important criterion for physical objects.

    To stop this confusing the issue consider weather conditions. We learn to categorise the weather into sunny, rainy etc. but I don’t think we bother ourselves too much about the identity of weather conditions. Even simple single-celled animals are able to categorise in this sense e.g. travel towards light or away. Are they also applying the law of non-contradiction? Are they rational creatures?

    What would it be like to fail to apply the law of non-contradiction? It is not just a failure to categorise our perceptions. Reputably Eskimos can recognise many more categories of snow than most people. Presumably that doesn’t constitute a failure to apply the law of non-contradiction to snow.

  276. MF:

    It is not just categorisation, we are dealing with identity, the binary nature of IS/IS NOT — no middle ground on this once we have a definable collection — and non-contradiction.

    In CY’s example, the distinction that drives protest crying is Mommy/Not-Mommy, plus the preference for mommy.

    Symbolising, using A for the relevant proposition (and NOT implying this symbolism means I am declaring certain “empty” tautologies . . . those who say things like that should be condemned never to use a calculator or a computer or a digital cell phone):

    Identity: Mommy is Mommy, not someone else: [A => A] = 1.

    Non-contradiction: “This IS Not-Mommy” is not going to be true when “This IS Mommy” is true: [A and NOT-A] = 0.

    Excluded middle: there is not an alternative to This is Mommy or else this is not-Mommy: [A OR NOT-A] = 1.

    [NB: Identity may endure through change; and where change is material, specifying the point of time can resolve ambiguity. Contradictions are distinct from conflicts: “not-white” (as opposed to “black”) is the true contradiction of “white.” Thirdly, white/ not-white is not at all the same as “white”/ “black” – any shade of grey, green or red will do: so, the excluded middle does not force us into “two-value thinking” in the rhetorically dismissive sense.]

    Or, citing Aristotle in metaphysics 1011b:

    ____________________

    >> That the most certain of all beliefs is that opposite statements are not both true at the same time [i.e. LNC], and what follows for those who maintain that they are true, and why these thinkers maintain this, may be regarded as adequately stated. And since the contradiction of a statement cannot be true at the same time of the same thing, it is obvious that contraries cannot apply at the same time to the same thing [LNC] . . . .

    Nor indeed can there be any intermediate between contrary statements, but of one thing we must either assert or deny one thing, whatever it may be [excluded middle]. This will be plain if we first define truth and falsehood. To say that what is is not, or that what is not is, is false; but to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true [defines truth]; and therefore also he who says that a thing is or is not will say either what is true or what is false. But neither what is nor what is not is said not to be or to be. Further, an intermediate between contraries will be intermediate either as grey is between black and white, or as “neither man nor horse” is between man and horse. [anticipates Zahedian continuum logic] >>
    ____________________

    The basic laws of thought are laws of reality before ever they were formalised. And, the stability of identity in the same context,the distinction between what is and what is not, the necessary falsity of asserting that a thing both is and is not in the same sense, and the failure of an alternative to being or non-being are laws of reality, not just rules of thought on certain schemes.

    GEM of TKI

  277. F/N: In modern symbolic Boolean Logic there are 17 base axioms, some of which are by no means obvious, e.g. the De Morgan Law that is ever so useful to convert things to clusters of fast-switching NAND or NOR gates.

    (In electronics, NAND, NOT and NOR are electronically simpler and faster — one amplifier stage — than AND, OR, NOT and X-OR. As well NAND and NOR with cross coupled feedback is the foundation of the flipflop, which allows us to create synchronous circuits to count, store and much more. If you dismiss the axioms as mere tautologies, you are despising he foundations of the PC technology you are using.)

    But, the classic three laws of thought are obviously where the confusions arise and where we are not just analytically true but self-evidently true. (We can show the tautology on a truth table for all, but to get to the level where such a TT is meaningful is not at all a case of the obvious. And, in constructing the TT we are using the classical three laws all through.)

    Going beyond this, we see the reason why there is that notorious unreasonable efficacy of mathematics in science and practical life. Namely: where it is right, mathematics is about reality and the logical structure of reality. So, when we start right and deduce a conclusion, however subtly, providing our steps are valid, the conclusion will be true.

    Even, astonishingly true.

    One semi-famous case was where the mathematics of Young’s double slit interference experiment implied that at the centre of the shadow of a small sphere [under relevant conditions], there should be a tiny spot of light. This was raised as a challenge. Then, on testing, lo and behold, there was the little dot of light.

  278. markf @ 276 “We generally take spatio-temporal continuity as the most important criterion for physical objects.”

    Yes. So tell me where mathematics is located spatio-temporally. Or the laws of physics?

    “What would it be like to fail to apply the law of non-contradiction?”

    I’m not sure you aren’t joking but I’ll play along. Hmmm. What WOULD it be like to fail to apply the LNC?? Oh, I know, when a materialist professes materialism on the one hand – when it suits him, and yet acknowledges the existence of mathematics or the laws of physics or the laws of reason on the other hand, that’s it. That’s what it looks like. Well maybe not the laws of reason. I take that back. Never seen one acknowledge those yet. No, really.

    Here’s another one. Even as you type words denying the laws of logic you are relying on those laws for your words to mean anything. Every time you speak or write and deny the laws of logic you are violating the LNC because to communicate is to USE THE LAWS OF LOGIC. It’s a pretty easy system once you get the hang of it. Seems hard for some though. Don’t know why, exactly. Mystery.

  279. tgpeeler @279
    markf @ 276 “We generally take spatio-temporal continuity as the most important criterion for physical objects.”

    Yes. So tell me where mathematics is located spatio-temporally. Or the laws of physics?

    I don’t understand your point. I only said that spatio-temporal continuity was a criterion for identity for physical objects. Abstractions such as maths and law have different types of criteria.


    “What would it be like to fail to apply the law of non-contradiction?”
    I’m not sure you aren’t joking but I’ll play along. Hmmm. What WOULD it be like to fail to apply the LNC?? Oh, I know, when a materialist professes materialism on the one hand – when it suits him, and yet acknowledges the existence of mathematics or the laws of physics or the laws of reason on the other hand, that’s it. That’s what it looks like.

    It is of course controversial as to whether mathematics is incompatible with materialism. So rather than get into another discussion why not keep it simple. Suppose someone says at one moment:

    “There is a cooker in the kitchen”

    and the next moment

    “There is no cooker in the kitchen”

    Are they failing to apply the law of non-contradiction? Well they might just have changed their mind or be suffering from severe amnesia. Distressing but not I think a failure to apply the law. But suppose you push them and say something like:

    “Either there is a cooker in the kitchen or there isn’t – make up your mind”

    Now they might respond by explaining that there is something in the kitchen that has some of the characteristics of a cooker and some that are not e.g. it is an old cooker that could not possibly be used for cooking.

    But suppose that is not the situation and they reassure us that it is literally the case that there is a cooker and there is not.

    Now the words fail to mean anything. Language has stopped functioning. There is no situation which it can be describing. This is what I mean when I say the law is not so much wrong as meaningless.

    Here’s another one. Even as you type words denying the laws of logic you are relying on those laws for your words to mean anything. Every time you speak or write and deny the laws of logic you are violating the LNC because to communicate is to USE THE LAWS OF LOGIC. It’s a pretty easy system once you get the hang of it. Seems hard for some though. Don’t know why, exactly. Mystery

    I was asking what it means not to apply the laws of logic. You respond by giving examples when I must be applying them (although I don’t see how). Mystery!

  280. Onlookers:

    Above, MF continues to implicitly use the validity of the first principles of right reason, even as he tries to dispute or dismiss their foundational undeniability.

    Self-reference . . .

    GEM of TKI

  281. mf @280 ““There is a cooker in the kitchen”

    and the next moment

    “There is no cooker in the kitchen”

    Are they failing to apply the law of non-contradiction?”

    Here’s how the LNC works, My Friend. There cannot both be and not be a cooker in the kitchen at the same time and in the same way. So one of the claims is true and the other is false. This isn’t that hard. Some freshman philosophy class really messed with your head, I fear. With that unhappy thought I give up.

  282. MF “Now the words fail to mean anything. Language has stopped functioning. There is no situation which it can be describing. This is what I mean when I say the law is not so much wrong as meaningless.”

    MF in the statement above uses the LNC in order to say the LNC is meaningless. However if the LNC is meaningless his argument is meaningless. If his argument is meaningless…oh well you all get the point.

    tgp “With that unhappy thought I give up.”

    I tred to warn you :)

    You cant have a rational discussion with one who has abandoned rationality. On the other hand since every argument put forth by MF was meaningless MF has failed miserably in defending his position.
    I guess you can say that MF has not given one REASON to accept anything he has to say.

    Vivid

  283. Indeed you did!! I’m a very sloow learner… :-)

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