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Why is the debate over design theory so often so poisonous and polarised?

To answer this one, we need to go as far back as Aristotle’s The Rhetoric some 2300 years ago.

In this verbal self-defense classic — as in: “you gotta know what can be done, how, if you are to effectively defend yourself . . . ” –  on what has aptly been called the devilish art of persuasion by any means fair or foul, Aristotle (left, courtesy Wiki, public domain)  found this key answer to the question “How do arguments work to persuade us?” in Book I Ch 2:

“Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker [ethos]; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind [pathos]; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself [logos]. Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible . . . Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile . . . Thirdly, persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question . . .”

Now, of course, as clever ad men and smart politicians have long since known, the most persuasive form of argument is the appeal to our emotions and underlying perceptions. Unfortunately, how we feel about something or someone is no more reasonable or accurate than the quality of the facts beneath our perceptions.

But, what does this dusty quip by a long since dead philosopher have to do with science and getting rid of creationists and their dishonest attempts to push in the supernatural into science by the back door?

A lot, and indeed that artfully cultivated and widely spread perception that we are dealing with “a war between religion and science” is at the heart of the problem.

For, if clever but willfully deceptive rhetors — Ms Forrest, B, with all due respect; sadly,  this means you — can get away with strawmannising and dismissing design thinkers as “Creationists in cheap tuxedos,” where it has already been firmly fixed in the public mind by other clever rhetors — Mr Dawkins, CR, with all due respect; sadly, this means you — that Creationists are “ignorant, stupid, insane and/or wicked,” and that such are fighting “a war against science” and want to impose “a right-wing theocracy” (presumably  complete with Inquisitions and burnings at the stake) then we can be distracted from the issues on the merits and be lured into burning ad hominem- soaked de-humanised creationist strawmen.

That’s how we come to the way a priori evolutionary materialism is now often presented as if it were the defining essence of science, “science” in this sense being taken for granted as the defining essence of “rationality.”

This last is why, in his 1997 NYRB review of Sagan’s last book, Lewontin notoriously said:

. . . 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.  Emphases added. (NB: before following red herrings out to strawman rebuttal talking points, kindly, follow the link to see the context.)]

As in:  fallacy of the question-begging materialist assumption and the resulting materialism-indoctrinated, closed mind presented under false colours of science, anyone?

ID thinker, Philip Johnson’s reply that November was therefore richly deserved:

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.]

Let’s set a contrast, by proposing a definition of science as it should be at its best, one rooted in classic definitions of science and its method (i.e. those from the days before methodological naturalism was being artfully pushed into such definitions):

science, at its best, is the unfettered — but ethically and intellectually responsible — progressive, {U/D, 06:02: observational evidence-led} pursuit of the truth about our world (i.e. an accurate and reliable description and explanation of it), based on:

a: collecting, recording, indexing, collating and reporting accurate, reliable (and where feasible, repeatable) empirical — real-world, on the ground — observations and measurements,

b: inference to best current — thus, always provisionalabductive explanation of the observed facts,

c: thus producing hypotheses, laws, theories and models, using  logical-mathematical analysis, intuition and creative, rational imagination [including Einstein's favourite gedankenexperiment, i.e thought experiments],

d: continual empirical testing through further experiments, observations and measurement; and,

e: uncensored but mutually respectful discussion on the merits of fact, alternative assumptions and logic among the informed. (And, especially in wide-ranging areas that cut across traditional dividing lines between fields of study, or on controversial subjects, “the informed” is not to be confused with the eminent members of the guild of scholars and their publicists or popularisers who dominate a particular field at any given time.)

As a result, science enables us to ever more effectively (albeit provisionally) describe, explain, understand, predict and influence or control objects, phenomena and processes in our world.

So, plainly, no authority — even one wearing The Holy Lab Coat — is better than his or her facts, assumptions and reasoning.

As just one instance, why is it that we so often see the contrast, natural vs supernatural, when in fact ever since Plato in The Laws, Bk X, what design thinkers have put on the table is first of all the question of inferring on observable and reliable empirical signs (and this link has a counter to yet another red herring-strawman distractor) to nature vs art?

So also, we must never forget: only an argument that focuses on the merits of the well-warranted material facts — the facts that make a difference to the conclusion –  and on correct reasoning about those facts, can hope to properly warrant a conclusion.  Just so, we must also recognise that when we come to matters of fact and observation, such warrant will always be provisional.  That’s why Physics — the senior science — has undergone two major revolutions within 250 years.

When we deal with origins science issues, a further factor comes in: we are now dealing with the model, reconstructed remote past beyond observation and record. A model past that serves as a worldview foundation for many. And, since evolutionary materialism is inherently relativistic and amoral — it has in it no grounding is that can ground ought (cf. here) — we are thus right back at the force of Plato’s warning in Bk X of The Laws:

[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .
[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny.)] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here],  these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . . [Jowett translation. Emphases and explanatory parentheses added.]

To all of this, we must add the baneful and growing influence across our civilisation of the neo-marxist (and yes, he was just that — cf. RFR’s prologue here and a survey of Marxism here)  radical, Saul Alinsky. For instance, in his Rules for Radicals, we may read the following observations, recommendations and thoughts:

“The end is what you want, the means is how you get it. Whenever we think about social change, the question of means and ends arises. The man of action views the issue of means and ends in pragmatic and strategic terms. He has no other problem; he thinks only of his actual resources and the possibilities of various choices of action. He asks of ends only whether they are achievable and worth the cost; of means, only whether they will work. … The real arena is corrupt and bloody.” p.24

“The first step in community organization is community disorganization. The disruption of the present organization is the first step toward community organization. Present arrangements must be disorganized if they are to be displace by new patterns…. All change means disorganization of the old and organization of the new.” p.116

3. “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

[Of course, here -- even at the rhetorical risk of inviting the onward tactic of deflecting a well-warranted point by using turnabout accusation -- I can only speak as one finite, fallible, fallen sinner in recovery through grace to others who may access the same grace: moral struggle is a key characteristic of any serious attempt to walk in virtue. But if you go for the polarising credibility kill of characterising the other side as all hypocrites, in the end, you face the issue of the plank in your own eyes. So, while there is no immoral equivalency, this point cuts just as sharply on both sides of any issue, including this one.  Let us all therefore turn from such destructive, even demonic tactics. Far better is to accept that we all struggle and must try to help one another (even when neighbour love calls for frank correction), instead of playing at dehumanising finger-pointing games compounded by the cruel tactic of incendiary ridicule. He who plays with rhetorical matches may set a fire that blazes beyond his ability to contain.]

5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.” . . . .

13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. [NB: Notice the evil counsel to find a way to attack the man, not the issue. The easiest way to do that, is to use the trifecta stratagem: distract, distort, demonise.] In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen.’…

“…any target can always say, ‘Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?’ When your ‘freeze the target,’ you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments…. Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the ‘others’ come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target…’

One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.” (pp. 127 – 134.)

The cynically amoral and polarised rhetorical pattern, sadly, is instantly recognisable from the tactics commonly used to oppose design thought in the public and in the policy making arena.

It even creeps into Faculty Seminar rooms and scientific institutions. But, in the end, if we begin to think and act like this, it will do no one any good.

Far better, is to take the stance of Aristotle, where one studies rhetoric for self-defense, to the intent of exposing evil counsel, and calling the public and policy makers to a better way: building bridges, not walls.

It is high time that the debates over design theory and thought moved on beyond the destructive rhetoric of the trifecta fallacy: red herring subject-changing distractors, led away to caricatured and deceitful strawman misrepresentations of design thought, soaked in ad hominem false accusations and ignited through snide or incendiary rhetoric.

For, if such rhetoric and incivility are unchecked, the temporary advantage of clouding issues, poisoning and polarising the atmosphere will be bought at the bitter price of a breakdown of our character and the foundational mutual respect that is needed if we are to build a future worth having.

Materialists and fellow travellers: victory at any price may be bought at a price so dear as to be ruinous. END

_________

F/N: News, in a new post, highlights a key example of the unfortunate red herring, strawman, ad hominem distortions we discussed above, in this case, from P Z Myers. And, as for the comments section . . .

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150 Responses to Why is the debate over design theory so often so poisonous and polarised?

  1. So let me summarize: those evil, sophistic Darwinists are the bad guys, using illegitimate rhetorical tactics and fallacies to malign the innocent and blameless ID proponents. But you can’t be serious about such a caricature. Even a passing mention of O’Leary’s constant harping on the “connection” between Darwin and Hitler or her constant characterizing of biology teachers and professors as “tax burdens” put the lie to this; Dembski’s “street theater” comment also falsifies your claim. ID theorists are every bit as guilty and you ought to acknowledge this.

  2. 2
    Elizabeth Liddle

    I would agree with most, probably all, of that.

    I’d just like to suggest a clarification of one point, though:

    In the “IOSE methods and tips” you quoted, a) segues into b) in a way that potentially makes a false categorisation.

    a) refers to “observations” and “measurements” while b) refers to “facts”, the implication being that “observations” and “measurements” are “facts” and what we do is to fit our “models” to the “facts”>

    I suggest that a better way of thinking about the relationship between “facts” and “models” (or, as I would prefer, between “data”, i.e. “what is given, and “models”) is to think of data at one level being a model at the next, in a series of nested Russian dolls.

    And lest I am hounded from here as a post-modernist (honest guv! I’m not!), I do not at all deny that there is, at “bottom” real reality (excuse the tautoology).

    But all we can ever do is model it, whether at the level of sensory integration (the brain “models” sensory inputs as, for instance, objects, and this includes the sensory inputs we receive when we observe or “measure” something. Our data, in other words, is never truly “raw” – signal to noise enters the picture right from the beginning, and data reduction and signal amplification are a feature of our actual sensory and perceptual processes. And they, like all, models, often require tweaking.

    But this applies through the scientific process; for example I work in fMRI imaging, and for me, the “data” is the signal intensities that come of the scanner, reconstructed into a voxel-based brain image. However, to the physicists who actually run the scanner, my “data” is their “model” – the inference they make from electromagnetic signal, given the geometry of the gradients. In other words, at any given level, “data” is what is “given” i.e. input, and a “model” is the output. But the model at one level can appear as data in the next.

    So the old adage, which I’ve seen thrown in both directions in this, and other contentious debates, that “you are entitled to your opinion, but not to your own facts” is part of the problem. What one “side” treats as a “fact” or as “data” may be regarded by the other as an erroneous model.

    Neither side is (necessarily) being obtuse, dishonest, or inept. But the resulting clash can generate more heat than light :)

    And seep from logos into both ethos and pathos!

    The antidote (or one of them) is to constantly check downwards to see that we are not accumulating errors as we move from level to level.

    Good OP :)

  3. 3
    Elizabeth Liddle

    It might also be worth saying that one person’s “subject-changing distractor” can be the other person’s “getting to the nub of the issue”.

    Communication is Hard Work :)

  4. It might also be worth saying that one person’s “subject-changing distractor” can be the other person’s “getting to the nub of the issue”.

    I totally agree :)

  5. JJ:

    Pardon, but we were not born yesterday.

    We know just what Ms Forrest of the NCSE and Louisiana Humanists has been saying in the teeth of repeated corrections, we have Mr Dawkins on long record, we have the copycat ruling on ACLU/NCSE talking points at Dover, we have the Gaskell and Beckwith/Synthese cases in hand just now and a much longer list on the slaughter of the dissidents.

    And, you are talking here to someone who just had to deal with a cluster of slanders up to and including false accusation of homosexuality, indeed that the UD is a nest of homosexuals.

    As to the connexion from Darwin to Haeckel et al and onward to Hitler, it may be hotly denied by Darwinists, with personal attacks on those who beg to differ, but the line of ideas descent is unmistakable, once you actually read the relevant parts of Mein Kampf, Darwin’s Descent of Man Chs 5 – 7 (decode: celts = Irish, Scots are obvious and Saxons = English). Especially if you read this against the backdrop of the warnings given in H G Wells’ War of the Worlds, introduction. So, your turnabout accusation attempt fails on the demonstrable history of ideas facts that, sadly, turned Wells into a prophet.

    The persistent refusal to face this easily demonstrated fact of history — acknowledged at Auschwitz by the way — and the attempt to discredit those so rude as to point out an inconvenient truth on this matter [go, look up the history of modern eugenics, and how it fed into Hitler's games; start with the article here, noting the logo for the 2nd international congress on eugenics], is itself a grim warning of what we are dealing with. As a black man, with Irish ancestry (in common with Mrs O’Leary on that . . . ) you had better believe I am noticing this one.

    If you had stopped playing at deflect and turnabout into immoral equivalency long enough to notice what I wrote under Alinsky’s rule 4, you would have seen that I definitely am aware that the Alinsky disease is catching.

    But I take strong exception to your attempt to equalise blame: career busting, slander, outing behaviour, a habitual disrespect and rudeness that have forced blogs supportive of design theory to either moderate or descend into the cesspit, perversion of justice by providing misleading submissions and by judges too lazy and/or closed minded to pay attention to the mere facts, and so on, are utterly of a different order from anything I have seen design theory advocates do.

    The US$ 125,000 award to Gaskell says I am right on this.

    So, please, stop the turnabout accusations, the distractions and dismissals of inconvenient facts, as well as the burning of conveniently set up strawmen.

    If we would simply stop this nonsense and deal with issues on the merits, we would actually make progress.

    that is why I have publicly commended Dr Liddle and EZ for their very different attitude.

    Good day sir

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Dr Liddle, sigh: see what I mean about distractions led out to misrepresentations and then lit afire with ad hominems? Anyway, let us get to serious matters.

  6. Dr Liddle,

    The key issue is warrant.

    Facts become credible as facts when they are warranted to the relevant degree of certainty. This can be seen from the directly linked discussion:

    fact [fækt]
    n
    1. an event or thing known to have happened or existed
    2. a truth verifiable from experience or observation
    3. a piece of information get me all the facts of this case
    4. (Law) Law (often plural) an actual event, happening, etc., as distinguished from its legal consequences. Questions of fact are decided by the jury, questions of law by the court or judge
    5. (Philosophy) Philosophy a proposition that may be either true or false, as contrasted with an evaluative statement
    (Law)
    after (or before) the fact Criminal law after (or before) the commission of the offence an accessory after the fact
    as a matter of fact, in fact, in point of fact in reality or actuality
    fact of life an inescapable truth, esp an unpleasant one
    the fact of the matter the truth
    [from Latin factum something done, from factus made, from facere to make]
    factful adj

    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

    If we race off to infinity in a regress of claims and counter claims, we end up with intellectual paralysis. (I highly recommend a reading of Greenleaf’s vol I Ch 1 on on evidence as an antidote to much of modern thought. I was very happy to finally find this at Project Gutenberg.)

    I am of course very aware as an applied physicist that the facts of observation are sometimes subject to change, but the basic context is that we have warrant to moral certainty as a criterion whereby it is irresponsible to act as though certain facts are not credible enough to accept as true.

    And, in physics, there is such a thing as a hierarchy of facts that are trusted, i.e we trusted good eyeball mark I [Brahe's work was astonishingly good BTW], before the deliverances of telescopes were fully trusted — and the establishing of optics on a theoretical foundation was key in that. This was a subtext in the debates over Galileo, and chromatic aberrations are a significant issue, not to mention just plain issues on quality of optics. Let’s say Newton’s reflector was invented to get around the dispersive medium problem that refractors face. Now we take the ‘scope as a tool of observation. And then when photogtraphy and now CCD sensors were introduced, we brought in whole rafts of empirically reliable tested layers, that built up a considerable hierarchy of layers to the actual raw physical events.

    But, once we have good warrant to moral certainty, we have something good enough.

    If you were to think about what lies beneath accepting the tracks in a bubble or cloud chamber as pictures of particle events [relying on locally triggered phase changes tracing to cascades of events rooted in the passage of a particle . . . typically with a B-field to curl the path of charged particles and the Lorentz force law as a metric for speed in the spiral], that would be another case in point.

    And yes, an MRI or other imaging scanner is like that, only moreso.

    In my IOSE course (I am snipping my work elsewhere to save writing effort) the issues of warrant are addressed in an earlier module, on ideas.

    More generally, though, I point out that we have such things as self evident truths undeniable on pain of patent absurdity, and which serve as credible foundations for thinking. I discuss this here, you can start with the claim: error exists.

    My onward point is that models and theories are explanatory constructs and so are inherently inferences to best explanation, so are warranted relative to facts and things based on first principles of right reason.

    Trust this helps.

    Again, I appreciate the civility and constructiveness of your comment. And, thanks for the kind words.

    GEM of TKI

  7. If we would simply stop this nonsense and deal with issues on the merits, we would actually make progress.

    Agreed.

    And briefly on Darwin and Hitler, the Nazis listed Darwins works as books to be burnt:

    Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Häckel).

    A translation of Guidelines from Die Bücherei 2:6 (1935), p. 279

    Hitler seemingly objected to the idea of common descent and the idea that Humans could have evolved from other animals by a gradual process. It seems he thought that evolution couldn’t make these large jumps from one island of function to another:

    Whence do we get the right to believe, that from the very beginning Man was not what he is today? Looking at Nature tells us, that in the realm of plants and animals changes and developments happen. But nowhere inside a kind shows such a development as the breadth of the jump, as Man must supposedly have made, if he has developed from an ape-like state to what he is today.(Hitler’s Table Talk)

    Personally I think trying to make arguments about the validity or not of evolution by invoking historical monsters like this is an unplesant distraction and does nothing to address the scientific issues at hand.

  8. Now, of course, as clever ad men and smart politicians have long since known, the most persuasive form of argument is the appeal to our emotions and underlying perceptions.

    Yes, you have nailed it. The arguments for ID are 100% appeals to the emotions, and 0% evidence.

    Your entire post is an appeal to the emotions.

    For, if clever but willfully deceptive rhetors …

    Personally, I find it quite distasteful to call somebod “willfully deceptive.” However, since you are making an appeal to the emotions, I guess anything goes.

    This last is why, in his 1997 NYRB review of Sagan’s last book, Lewontin notoriously said: …

    I have a lot of respect for Lewontin as a scientist. But I disagree with his statement that you quoted. In particular, I do not make an a priori commitment to materialism. And I expect that there are many scientists who do not make such an a priori commitment.

    As in: fallacy of the question-begging materialist assumption and the resulting materialism-indoctrinated, closed mind presented under false colours of science, anyone?

    That surely looks like an appeal to the emotions.

  9. I have a lot of respect for Lewontin as a scientist. But I disagree with his statement that you quoted. In particular, I do not make an a priori commitment to materialism. And I expect that there are many scientists who do not make such an a priori commitment.

    I totally agree and would count myself as one of those Scientists. Lewontin is entitled to his opinion but I am under no obligation to agree and I don’t know any scientist who would regard his opinion as doctrine.

    Personally, I find it quite distasteful to call somebod “willfully deceptive.”

    Yes, accusing your opponents of lying is always uncivil. Providing clear evidence of an intentional deception is another issue though!

  10. Onlookers:

    Please, take time to peruse the way that Lewontin’s thought — and notice how he identifies it as dominant in institutional science — has pervaded the likes of the US NAS and NSTA. There is a reason why in the IOSE summary page, I gave two personal cites and two institutional ones, before citing a key rebuttal.

    This is not merely a matter of the oddities of one individual’s thought that can be brushed aside by saying you personally differ.

    Second, I suggest to Dr Bot that he needs to actually look at the line of ideas descent from Darwin through Haeckel and co to Hitler, instead of thinking that one table talk clip out of that wider context will suffice to get rid of the force of what Hitler said and did on the record. Please, do not force me to sully this thread by citing Hitler’s remarks on the record as linked (and note the anticipation in Wells, and the anticipation in Darwin). The implications were foreseen since 1870, and the implications of the radical scientism that was rising were seen in Heine’s 1831 prophecy.

    As to Mr Rickert’s turnabout rhetorical tactic, that sort of empty-headed debate stunt — and this is one of those cases where a corrective rebuke is well warranted, as that specific trick was identified and corrected in advance in the original post — inadvertently underscores exactly the problem that I have discussed in the original post.

    If he thinks that the design inference is just a matter of emotional manipulations and blindly following authorities in pursuit of a nefarious socio-cultural agenda, let him simply provide a good point by point rebuttal to the IOSE, starting here, and going on through the units until it addresses the science and society issues here.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  11. 11
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Re Hitler: whether Hitler was influenced by Darwin’s theory or not seems to me utterly irrelevant to whether Darwin’s theory is true or not.

    Einstein’s theory is no less true because it was used to devise an atomic bomb, and Ptolemy’s geocentric celestial system was no less false because it was used to support Christianity.

    So to disparage Darwin because of Hitler is a genuine ad hominem fallacy.

    Morality and ethics do not depend on Darwin’s ideas being true or false, nor does theism, or, indeed atheism.

    All that matters in a scientific theory is how well it fits the data.

  12. Elizabeth Liddle @ 11

    My feelings exactly. It is an unfortunate fact that many despots from history have co-opted fragments of scientific and religious ideas and distorted them to suit their needs. Hitler used both science and religion to construct his ideological position.

    I do research into artificial intelligence, someone could potentially take an aspect of my research and twist it to suit an ideological goal but that does not mean that my research is wrong, or that I endorse the ideology.

  13. 13
    Elizabeth Liddle

    kairosfocus: yes, I take your point re facts that are so well corroborated that we can pretty well bank them.

    However, in the biological sciences, and, increasingly, in a great many sciences, when we measure things we are looking at quite remote proxies for a “direct” measurement (scare quotes because I’m reluctant to accord any measurement “direct”, but for all practical purposes, some can be fairly regarded as so!)

    This is related, of course, to the issue of accuracy vs precision. We can produce highly precise data, and assume that because we have very narrow confidence in our measurements we can treat them as raw “fact”. However, we can be systematically wrong if the model on which our data is constructed in the first place is flawed in some way.

    And I’m just banging on about this because I have witnessed (and contributed to!) heated arguments in which each side has accused the other of lying about (or, typically “fudging”) the data, and the other side has insisted that what they have done is simply routine outlier removal, or adjustment for baseline noise levels.

    So, while we are not entitled to our own facts, we are entitled to make a reasoned argument, sometimes, about what constitutes a fact.

    And good people can disagree as to the soundness of that argument.

  14. Elizabeth states:

    ‘Einstein’s theory is no less true because it was used to devise an atomic bomb, and Ptolemy’s geocentric celestial system was no less false because it was used to support Christianity.

    So to disparage Darwin because of Hitler is a genuine ad hominem fallacy.’

    Besides Darwinism being ridiculously false as to science, there is actually a fairly direct connection between Darwinian thinking and the holocaust, as is clearly illustrated by Weikart’s book ‘From Darwin To Hitler”;

    From Darwin to Hitler – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_5EwYpLD6A

    In fact you don’t have to dig too far to find the connection, between Darwinism and the holocaust, for Darwin himself in his book prophetically states:

    ‘At some future period not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes…will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest Allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as the baboon, instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla (1874, p. 178).’

    Simply horrendous!!!

    And the full title of Darwin’s book????

    ‘The Preservation of Favoured Races

    That’s the subtitle of Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species. It’s full title is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. And his next book was titled The Descent of Man, one entire chapter was dedicated to “The Races of Man.”

  15. It might help to have the full quote:

    The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, convinced by general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks incessantly occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies—between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridæ —between the elephant and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and other mammals. But all these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

    At some point in the future earth will almost certainly be hit by a large asteroid and many people will die.
    Of course I could be wrong, but by stating that am I endorsing the killing of humans by means of an asteroid?

    And the full title of Darwin’s book????

    ‘The Preservation of Favoured Races

    Indeed, and Darwin refers, amongst other things, to: “the several races, for instance, of the cabbage …”

  16. Elizabeth: as to this comment:

    ‘Ptolemy’s geocentric celestial system was no less false because it was used to support Christianity’

    and yet please note the centrality of the earth in the universe in the following video:

    The Known Universe – Dec. 2009 – a very cool video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U

  17. BA,
    If I create a map of the world based on what I can observe from my house then my house will appear to be at the centre of the world.

  18. 18
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Good catch, bornagain77 :)

    Yes, of course, the earth is indeed at the dead centre of “our” known universe – the universe, in other words, knowable to people standing on earth!

    But to anyone standing on a different planet, that planet would also be at the centre of their known universe!

    How far we can see depends on the speed limit of information, and that’s going to limit us to a sphere centred on where we are currently standing.

    Which is, of course, here :)

    But my point re Hitler still stands, I think.

  19. Elizabet DrBOT, actually this ‘centrality’ plays out in a far more interesting way than you guys would like to let on:

    ,,, First I noticed that the earth demonstrates centrality in the universe in this video Dr. Dembski posted a while back;

    The Known Universe – Dec. 2009 – a very cool video (please note the centrality of the earth in the universe)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U

    ,,, for a while I tried to see if the 4-D space-time of General Relativity was sufficient to explain centrality we witness for the earth in the universe,,,

    4-Dimensional Space-Time Of General Relativity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3991873/

    ,,, yet I kept running into the same problem for establishing the sufficiency of General Relativity to explain our centrality in this universe, in that every time I would perform a ‘mental experiment’ of trying radically different points of observation in the universe, General Relativity would fail to maintain centrality for the radically different point of observation in the universe. The primary reason for this failure of General Relativity to maintain centrality, for different points of observation in the universe, is due to the fact that there are limited (10^80) material particles to work with. Though this failure of General Relativity was obvious to me, I needed more proof so as to establish it more rigorously, so i dug around a bit and found this;

    The Cauchy Problem In General Relativity – Igor Rodnianski
    Excerpt: 2.2 Large Data Problem In General Relativity – While the result of Choquet-Bruhat and its subsequent refinements guarantee the existence and uniqueness of a (maximal) Cauchy development, they provide no information about its geodesic completeness and thus, in the language of partial differential equations, constitutes a local existence. ,,, More generally, there are a number of conditions that will guarantee the space-time will be geodesically incomplete.,,, In the language of partial differential equations this means an impossibility of a large data global existence result for all initial data in General Relativity.
    http://www.icm2006.org/proceed.....l_3_22.pdf

    and also ‘serendipitously’ found this,,,

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: Gödel’s personal God is under no obligation to behave in a predictable orderly fashion, and Gödel produced what may be the most damaging critique of general relativity. In a Festschrift, (a book honoring Einstein), for Einstein’s seventieth birthday in 1949, Gödel demonstrated the possibility of a special case in which, as Palle Yourgrau described the result, “the large-scale geometry of the world is so warped that there exist space-time curves that bend back on themselves so far that they close; that is, they return to their starting point.” This means that “a highly accelerated spaceship journey along such a closed path, or world line, could only be described as time travel.” In fact, “Gödel worked out the length and time for the journey, as well as the exact speed and fuel requirements.” Gödel, of course, did not actually believe in time travel, but he understood his paper to undermine the Einsteinian worldview from within.
    http://www.faqs.org/periodical.....27241.html

    But if General Relativity is insufficient to explain the centrality we witness for ourselves in the universe, what else is? Universal Quantum wave collapse to each unique point of observation! To prove this point I dug around a bit and found this experiment,,,

    This following experiment extended the double slit experiment to show that the ‘spooky actions’, for instantaneous quantum wave collapse, happen regardless of any considerations for time or distance i.e. The following experiment shows that quantum actions are ‘universal and instantaneous’:

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment
    was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    ,, and to make universal quantum Wave collapse much more ‘personal’ I found this,,,

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”; Eugene Wigner laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.
    http://eugene-wigner.co.tv/

    Here is the key experiment that led Wigner to his Nobel Prize winning work on quantum symmetries:

    Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: To express this basic experience in a more direct way: the world does not have a privileged center, there is no absolute rest, preferred direction, unique origin of calendar time, even left and right seem to be rather symmetric. The interference of electrons, photons, neutrons has indicated that the state of a particle can be described by a vector possessing a certain number of components. As the observer is replaced by another observer (working elsewhere, looking at a different direction, using another clock, perhaps being left-handed), the state of the very same particle is described by another vector, obtained from the previous vector by multiplying it with a matrix. This matrix transfers from one observer to another.
    http://www.reak.bme.hu/Wigner_.....io/wb1.htm

    i.e. In the experiment the ‘world’ (i.e. the universe) does not have a ‘privileged center’. Yet strangely, the conscious observer does exhibit a ‘privileged center’. This is since the ‘matrix’, which determines which vector will be used to describe the particle in the experiment, is ‘observer-centric’ in its origination! Thus explaining Wigner’s dramatic statement, “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”

  20. cont.

    I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3-D state is centered on each individual observer in the universe, whereas, 4-D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3-D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by a omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe:

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    The expansion of every 3D point in the universe, and the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe to each point of conscious observation in the universe, is obviously a very interesting congruence in science between the very large (relativity) and the very small (quantum mechanics). A congruence that Physicists, and Mathematicians, seem to be having a extremely difficult time ‘unifying’ into a ‘theory of everything’.(Einstein, Penrose).

    The conflict of reconciling General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics appears to arise from the inability of either theory to successfully deal with the Zero/Infinity problem that crops up in different places of each theory:

    THE MYSTERIOUS ZERO/INFINITY
    Excerpt: The biggest challenge to today’s physicists is how to reconcile general relativity and quantum mechanics. However, these two pillars of modern science were bound to be incompatible. “The universe of general relativity is a smooth rubber sheet. It is continuous and flowing, never sharp, never pointy. Quantum mechanics, on the other hand, describes a jerky and discontinuous universe. What the two theories have in common – and what they clash over – is zero.”,, “The infinite zero of a black hole — mass crammed into zero space, curving space infinitely — punches a hole in the smooth rubber sheet. The equations of general relativity cannot deal with the sharpness of zero. In a black hole, space and time are meaningless.”,, “Quantum mechanics has a similar problem, a problem related to the zero-point energy. The laws of quantum mechanics treat particles such as the electron as points; that is, they take up no space at all. The electron is a zero-dimensional object,,, According to the rules of quantum mechanics, the zero-dimensional electron has infinite mass and infinite charge.
    http://www.fmbr.org/editoral/e....._mar02.htm

    Yet, the unification, into a ‘theory of everything’, between what is in essence the ‘infinite Theistic world of Quantum Mechanics’ and the ‘finite Materialistic world of the space-time of General Relativity’ seems to be directly related to what Jesus apparently joined together with His resurrection, i.e. related to the unification of infinite God with finite man. Dr. William Dembski in this following comment, though not directly addressing the Zero/Infinity conflict in General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, offers insight into this ‘unification’ of the infinite and the finite:

    The End Of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World – Pg.31
    William Dembski PhD. Mathematics
    Excerpt: “In mathematics there are two ways to go to infinity. One is to grow large without measure. The other is to form a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The Cross is a path of humility in which the infinite God becomes finite and then contracts to zero, only to resurrect and thereby unite a finite humanity within a newfound infinity.”
    http://www.designinference.com.....of_xty.pdf

    Moreover there actually is physical evidence that lends strong support to the position that the ‘Zero/Infinity conflict’, we find between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, was successfully dealt with by Christ:

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

    Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age – Pictures, Articles and Videos
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg

    Turin Shroud 3-D Hologram – Face And Body – Dr. Petrus Soons – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5889891/

    A Quantum Hologram of Christ’s Resurrection? by Chuck Missler
    Excerpt: “You can read the science of the Shroud, such as total lack of gravity, lack of entropy (without gravitational collapse), no time, no space—it conforms to no known law of physics.” The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically. Dame Piczek created a one-fourth size sculpture of the man in the Shroud. When viewed from the side, it appears as if the man is suspended in mid air (see graphic, below), indicating that the image defies previously accepted science. The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically.
    http://www.khouse.org/articles/2008/847

    “Miracles do not happen in contradiction to nature, but only in contradiction to that which is known to us of nature.”
    St. Augustine

    Philippians 2: 5-11
    Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    While I agree with a criticism, from a Christian, that was leveled against the preceding Shroud of Turin video, that God indeed needed no help from the universe in the resurrection event of Christ since all things are possible with God, I am none-the-less very happy to see that what is considered the number one problem of Physicists and Mathematicians in physics today, of a ‘unification into a theory of everything’ for what is in essence the finite world of General Relativity and the infinite world of Quantum Mechanics, does in fact seem to find a successful resolution for ‘unification’ within the resurrection event of Jesus Christ Himself. It seems almost overwhelmingly apparent to me from the ‘scientific evidence’ we now have that Christ literally ripped a hole in the finite entropic space-time of this universe to reunite infinite God with finite man. That modern science would even offer such a almost tangible glimpse into the mechanics of what happened in the tomb of Christ should be a source of great wonder and comfort for the Christian heart.

    Psalms 16:10
    because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

    It is also interesting to note that ‘higher dimensional’ mathematics had to be developed before Einstein could elucidate General Relativity, or even before Quantum Mechanics could be elucidated;

    The Mathematics Of Higher Dimensionality – Gauss & Riemann – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6199520/

    3D to 4D shift – Carl Sagan – video with notes
    Excerpt from Notes: The state-space of quantum mechanics is an infinite-dimensional function space. Some physical theories are also by nature high-dimensional, such as the 4-dimensional general relativity.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VS1mwEV9wA

    I think it should be fairly clear by now that, much contrary to the mediocrity of earth and of humans brought about by the heliocentric discoveries of Galileo and Copernicus, the findings of modern science are very comforting to Theistic postulations in general, and even lends strong support of plausibility to the main tenet of Christianity which holds Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God.

    Matthew 28:18
    And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and upon earth.”

  21. 21
    Elizabeth Liddle

    bornagain77:

    …than you guys would like to let on

    Polarizing phraseology spotted :)

    Seriously, it works both ways.

  22. kairosfocus (#10)

    let him simply provide a good point by point rebuttal to the IOSE

    I am seeing a lot of rhetoric, but little content at those links.

    I readily admit that the problem of origins is unsolved. It should not be presented as settled science. I see some arguments there about methodological naturalism. Personally, I have never seen a need for that assumption.

    For ID to become science, it needs to develop some clear empirical criteria, and it needs to demonstrate that those criteria can be applied in a systematic way by multiple researchers with reliable results. When it reaches that point, and when the use of those criteria proves useful, there won’t be any difficulty getting scientists to take it seriously.

  23. 23

    The arguments for ID are 100% appeals to the emotions, and 0% evidence.

    Neil… LOL … “0% evidence”

    A substance-free yet powerfully emotive defense Neil – well done. One can imagine a kettle drum at the end for effect.

    May I ask?

    What physical evidence do you have that inanimate matter (acted upon by physical law and unguided forces) can embed into a medium (by the implementation of chemical code) an abstraction of a discrete object.

    ?

    Now Neil, ask me that same question, but instead of “physical law and unguided forces”, replace that with physical law and volitional agency.

  24. Upright Biped (#23)

    What physical evidence do you have that inanimate matter (acted upon by physical law and unguided forces) can embed into a medium (by the implementation of chemical code) an abstraction of a discrete object.

    I’m not sure what is being asked there. I don’t think of people as being “inanimate matter.”

  25. 25
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Upright BiPed:

    What physical evidence do you have that inanimate matter (acted upon by physical law and unguided forces) can embed into a medium (by the implementation of chemical code) an abstraction of a discrete object.

    That’s actually quite a good example of what I meant when I said that that “one person’s “subject-changing distractor” can be the other person’s “getting to the nub of the issue”.”

    I’m sure that from your PoV you see it as an absolutely key question.

    From my PoV, though, see it as, if not a “subject-changing distractor”, a question that begs itself.

    This probably isn’t the thread to unpack it, as it’s a thread about what results in polarisation of arguments, not about the content of the arguments, but briefly, inasmuch as it may make my point:

    To a “Darwinist”, you appear to have embedded a key ID assumption into your question: “can embed into a medium (by the implementation of chemical code) an abstraction of a discrete object”, and it is that assumption itself that we query.

    I don’t think that “an abstraction of a discrete object” “embed[ded] into a medium by the implementation of a chemical code” is a good description of what DNA does.

    I regard DNA as a catalyst that faciilitates a series of chemical reactions. So for me, the question answers itself.

    I don’t ask you to agree, but do you see why the conversation is potentially difficult? It’s like those Vietnam talks that used to stall over the shape of the table. It seemed trivial, but, of course, it was crucial. Until we agree where our differences lie, we don’t have much hope of resolving them.

    However, I don’t think it’s impossible to reach mutual agreement as to where the differences lie, but I do think it’s important to do that, and is the best defense against mutual (probably sincere, if misguided) accusations of evasiveness.

  26. 26

    I’m not sure what is being asked there. I don’t think of people as being “inanimate matter.”

    Neil, there haven’t always been people. People came later.

    Now, before people, it is claimed that inanimate matter (being acted upon only by physical law and random unguided forces) was able to accomplish the task of recording abstractions of discrete objects and embedding those abstractions into a discrete material medium by the use of repeating chemical symbols. Those symbols are then decoded in a linear fashion in order to re- created the physical state of the original objects from the information contained in the abstractions.

    My question to you is what physical evidence do you have that this is even possible by the means it is claimed to have accomplished it? In other words, if the rise symbolic abstractions are known to be a property of matter (being acted upon by chance and physical law) then a presentation of that knowledge should be available in order to refute the design inference. If that evidence is not available, then the design inference remains validated by the observations as they really are. The unrefuted fact from all recorded knowledge is that an act of intelligent agency is the only verifiable source of such abstractions – and there isn’t a shred of physical evidence which suggest they can come about from anything else.

    So I can answer the question myself. You have no such evidence to the contrary. None, whatsoever.

    Neil, perhaps instead of making emotional pleas regarding “0% evidence”, you should take the time to research exactly what it is you are talking about.

  27. 27

    Hello Dr Liddle,

    That’s actually quite a good example of what I meant when I said that that “one person’s “subject-changing distractor” can be the other person’s “getting to the nub of the issue”.”
    I’m sure that from your PoV you see it as an absolutely key question.

    My response was directly related to the comment made by Neil, which I copied and pasted. Surely responding on topic to a direct comment is fair game in everyone’s book, no?

    To a “Darwinist”, you appear to have embedded a key ID assumption into your question: “can embed into a medium (by the implementation of chemical code) an abstraction of a discrete object”, and it is that assumption itself that we query.

    The mapping of nucleic triplets to amino acids is an observable reality. Both modern biology and evolutionary theory are themselves based upon the reality that these mappings between discrete objects exist.

    I don’t think that “an abstraction of a discrete object” “embed[ded] into a medium by the implementation of a chemical code” is a good description of what DNA does.

    You are welcome to make your case, but I think Marshal Nirenberg would be out of luck if the facts were otherwise.

    I regard DNA as a catalyst that faciilitates a series of chemical reactions. So for me, the question answers itself.

    Under that scenario, a shipmate using a signal lamp to say “hello” to a passing vessel is no more than a catalyst that facilitates a series of chemical reactions. The proof is in the assumption that it must be true. The fact that the symbols used to make the exchange are not observed to be a product of physical law – is simply assumed away.

    I don’t ask you to agree, but do you see why the conversation is potentially difficult? It’s like those Vietnam talks that used to stall over the shape of the table. It seemed trivial, but, of course, it was crucial. Until we agree where our differences lie, we don’t have much hope of resolving them.

    Agreed.

  28. Dr Liddle:

    I have a moment.

    The Theories of Relativity only implied that matter and energy were likely to be interconvertible under appropriate circumstances, having to do with nuclear fission or fusion, moving up or down the binding energy per nucleon curve.

    Unfortunately, the force of Darwin’s words in Descent, were that the so-called more advanced races would push the so-called less advanced (evolutionarily) ones to extinction. Having made that prediction Darwin simply went on to his next point on gappiness of the fossil record, as though he had not highlighted a major moral hazard.

    You may want to know that a delegation of the Manhattan Project physicists tried to get the bomb only used for a demonstration sufficient to get the Japanese to surrender. Unfortunately, some of the top boys suppressed that.

    What I am speaking of is the issue of moral deadening in the face of a major moral hazard. At least Wells tried to warn.

    He was ignored in the rush to think that we were evolving as the favoured races survived at the expense of the less favoured in the Malthusian struggle for life.

    That is the context in which Darwinism contributed to the climate in which Hitler operated.

    There is a major science and society ethical issue here that needs to be honestly faced, along with the related eugenics activities, for want of a better word.

    GEM of TKI

  29. 29
    Elizabeth Liddle

    I think that’s quite possible, kairosfocus, but I still think it’s a completely irrelevant metric by which to judge Darwin’s theory as a scientific theory.

    “Darwinists” have been in the forefront of work that has tended to demonstrate not how different “races” are genetically, but how similar. There is no genetic hint of speciation within homo sapiens.

    However, Darwinism also predicts that racism could result in stratification, and possibly speciation, in the distant future.

    So we can take a strong anti-racist argument from Darwinism as well.

    But neither that lesson (which may or may not be valid) nor the one Hitler (if he did) drew has the slightest bearing on whether Darwin’s theory was good science.

    Only data can tell us that.

    (haven’t forgotten your other OP :))

  30. Upright Biped (#26)

    Now, before people, it is claimed that inanimate matter (being acted upon only by physical law and random unguided forces) was able to accomplish the task of recording abstractions of discrete objects and embedding those abstractions into a discrete material medium by the use of repeating chemical symbols. Those symbols are then decoded in a linear fashion in order to re- created the physical state of the original objects from the information contained in the abstractions.

    Perhaps ID proponents are claiming that. I am not, and I clearly disagree with such a claim. There is nothing abstract about DNA. It is no more abstract than are the cogs (gear teeth) in the gearbox of my car.

  31. 31
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Hello Upright BiPed!

    My response was directly related to the comment made by Neil, which I copied and pasted. Surely responding on topic to a direct comment is fair game in everyone’s book, no?

    Absolutely! No problem.

    The mapping of nucleic triplets to amino acids is an observable reality. Both modern biology and evolutionary theory are themselves based upon the reality that these mappings between discrete objects exist.

    But my point, I guess, is that these are not arbitrary/symbolic mappings. You can’t just make one codon code for different amino acid by declaring it so in some look-up dictionary – in that sense, DNA is more like a jig, or a template than a code. The mapping arises directly from the physical chemistry.

    You are welcome to make your case, but I think Marshal Nirenberg would be out of luck if the facts were otherwise.

    I don’t see why.

    Under that scenario, a shipmate using a signal lamp to say “hello” to a passing vessel is no more than a catalyst that facilitates a series of chemical reactions. The proof is in the assumption that it must be true. The fact that the symbols used to make the exchange are not observed to be a product of physical law – is simply assumed away.

    Well, no, that’s my point. Unless there is prior agreement as to what the signal means, the other boat crew could radically misinterpret it (as I know to my cost). That is not the case with DNA, because the reason a given codon catalyses the formation of a given amino acid lies in the chemical properties of those bases, not some arbitrary look-up table. There is no look-up table!

    I don’t ask you to agree, but do you see why the conversation is potentially difficult? It’s like those Vietnam talks that used to stall over the shape of the table. It seemed trivial, but, of course, it was crucial. Until we agree where our differences lie, we don’t have much hope of resolving them.

    Agreed.

    Cool :)

    Nice to meet you too :)

  32. Mr Rickert:

    Pardon, your unfortunate continued dismissiveness has simply underscored an evident lack of seriousness in your earlier turnabout remarks.

    It is clear that you identify with the party of “science,” i.e. scientism. Anything that does not toe the party line, ipso facto, is wrong, propaganda, foolishness. (And BTW, has it ever seemed to you that a lot of the puzzles on origins make a lot of sense from a design perspective? Have you done any serious hard or software designs in your work? What characteristics do you notice about designed things?)

    I am sorry, but science should be understood as an unfettered (but ethically and morally responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our cosmos based on observation, experimental testing, measurement where appropriate, explanatory modelling, theorising and analysis, and serious but mutually respectful discussion among the informed. Its main explanatory results will always be provisional, but must at minimum be empirically testable and reliable. That way we can go about serious, open minded exploration, description, explanation, prediction, testing and application.

    When you inject the sort of contemptuous party-spiritedness and ideologising that the original post highlights and sets out to call for correction of, it frustrates science.

    And, on the subject of origins, let me note where the IOSE begins:

    The scientific study of our origins helps us probe the roots of our existence. This gives it great importance.

    So, ever since scientists began to investigate origins in the 1700s and 1800s science has been a key part of how we try to learn the truth about ourselves, how we came to be and our place in our world, “from hydrogen to humans.” This work is based on scientific methods: carefully observed evidence, reasoned analysis and informed discussion, projecting from the observed patterns of the present to try to plausibly reconstruct our roots in the deep past, i.e. beyond historical records.

    Origins science is therefore a highly important — albeit sometimes controversial — field of study and research . . . .

    In recent decades, some educators, public policy advocates — and, most importantly, some scientists — through adopting methodological naturalism, have thought and taught that science can only work properly if it is understood as a search for “natural causes.” That is, they hold that origins science theories “must” fit in with the view that undirected blindly mechanical forces of nature and chance circumstances acting on matter and energy in one form or another, triggered purposeless changes and developments across time, from hydrogen to humans. But, this embeds a crucial mistake.

    For, as an observed pattern in the present, we routinely encounter: (a) natural causes tracing to forces of chance and/or mechanical necessity, and (b) ART-ificial (i.e. intelligent) causes tracing to the action of purposeful agents. [[Where, we can and do routinely recognise intelligence based on our common experience of our own capabilities: "capacities to reason, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn." ]

    Moreover, (c) both natural and artificial causes leave observable and distinct empirical traces that we may therefore study and distinguish using scientific methods . . . . the recognisably artificial (a) will not be credibly the product of observed blind chance and mechanical forces acting in its context, (b) will be specifically functional [[it has to do something in particular that depends on having a correct configuration. e.g. a key and a lock or letters in a word], and (c) will be sufficiently complex that the functional configuration is not credibly the result of happenstance. Thus, in a reasonable context, functionally specified highly complex organisation is a recognisable sign of intentionally directed configuration.

    That is, of design.

    You tell me what in that and in what follows — a survey that (having done an introductory survey that introduces key concepts and issues) starts with the worldviews context, examines cosmology starting with astrophysics in a nutshell through the lens of the HR diagram and addresses dating issues, then looks at origin of life, origin of body plan level biodiversity (with an aside on embryology), looks at origin of man, mind and morality, then culminates in the key science and society issues, and adds references and an appendix on scientific methods — constitutes “a lot of rhetoric, but little content.”

    Pardon me for being direct but this remark comes across as something you know or should know is false but which you say for rhetorical effect on those inclined to be dismissive. As such it is irresponsible at best and willfully deceptive at worst.

    Please, do better than this, next time.

    GEM of TKI

    RF/N: Dr Liddle, I would say in the context of the dismissive remark and my pointing to some specific content as a challenge, that BA’s remarks were relevant, not distractive led away to strawman caricatures and incendiary dismissals. BA has been very much the gentleman all along for years, our resident rare quotes clipper and pointer to vids no-one else seems to have spotted.

  33. But my point, I guess, is that these are not arbitrary/symbolic mappings. You can’t just make one codon code for different amino acid by declaring it so in some look-up dictionary – in that sense, DNA is more like a jig, or a template than a code. The mapping arises directly from the physical chemistry.

    This site is by an author who has some interesting thoughts on this argument. I don’t endorse him as an expert, but I do think his arguments are worth considering. Here’s one reply: “The information in DNA is independent of the communication medium insofar as every strand of DNA in your body represents a complete plan for your body; even though the DNA strand itself is only a sequence of symbols made up of chemicals (A, G, C, T). We could store a CAD drawing of a hard drive on the same model of hard drive, but the medium and the message are two distinctly different things.”

    Also from Hubert Yockey: “The genome is sometimes called a ‘blueprint’ by people who have never seen a blueprint. Blueprints, no longer used, were two-dimensional, a poor metaphor indeed, for the linear and digital sequence of nucleotides in the genome. The linear structure of DNA and mRNA is often referred to as a template. A template is two-dimensional, it is not subject to mutations, nor can it reproduce itself. This is a poor metaphor as anyone who has used a jigsaw will be aware. One must be careful not to make a play on words.”

  34. Dr Liddle:

    Pardon, but he issue I have raised on this topic, once someone made the objection that DESPITE WHAT MRS O’LEARY HAS POINTED OUT IN SEVERAL ud THREADS OVER THE YEARS, there was no line of intellectual descent from Darwin to Hitler, was to point out the facts, with evidence on that exact line of descent, even pausing to point out a classic warning in popular literature put out in the public decades before the horrible things happened. I am pretty sure Darwin — a gentleman, in the end — would have been horrified by the consequences of what he tossed off in a few paragraphs, and failed to pause and highlight an alternative to.

    But the issue of the implications was there, and it was taken up, including by the major eugenics movement, with which his family was closely involved for many decades. Hitler took it to the next step, and horror happened.

    So, we now have to build in a science and society study into science education, and take seriously the moral hazards of science. (I never ever had such a course or even seminar in my education in science, did you?)

    In addition, Darwin’s theory is used as a major prop for evolutionary materialist scientism, which is utterly amoral, on the grounds of lacking a foundational is strong enough to support ought. That claimed connexion has to be examined critically, by those serious about where our civilisation is going, as has been pointed out since Plato.

    I do not say that Darwin’s theory is falsified because of his unfortunate insensitivity to the implications of his theory in Descent. Instead, I raise issues as above.

    On the issues that have led me to accept the validity of the design inference on FSCI (with a strong root in thermodynamics and in information theory, plus experience with design of complex systems), I have come to regard darwinian evolution as a reasonable model of some types of micro evolution, but not a good model for origin of major body plans. I think the chem evo models are non starters and that the integration of a metabolising automaton with a vNSR strongly points to design of life.

    I freely acknowledge that this inference to design on evidence, does not at all warrant by itself any particular inference to a designer within or beyond the cosmos, as a molecular nanotech lab a few generations beyond Venter’s recent proof of concept would be adequate.

    it is the evidence of cosmoslogical finetuning that points to a designer beyond the cosmos, who targetted a cosmos that is set up at a finetuned operating point that facilitates C-chemistry, cell based intelligent life. In turn, that makes it reasonable and plausible to infer that the designer of the cosmos probably was directly or indirectly responsible for the origin, diversification of life and the origin of man.

    But, I do not look to intelligent design for a “proof” of such a designer. Indeed, I think that the notion of a proof beyond doubt on this topic is so far out of what we can warrant at that worldviews level, that I think it is a selectively hyperskeptical blunder. Worldviews are simply not the subjects of deductive proofs from undeniable starting points. Instead, we are looking at inferences to best reasonable explanation on comparative difficulties.

    GEM of TKI

  35. I regard DNA as a catalyst that facilitates a series of chemical reactions.

    It also probably doesn’t help when people play fast and loose with terms and their accepted meanings.

    Me, I regard DNA as an inhibitor.

  36. kairosfocus (#32)

    It is clear that you identify with the party of “science,” i.e. scientism. Anything that does not toe the party line, ipso facto, is wrong, propaganda, foolishness.

    I’m not sure where you studied mind reading, nor how much tuition you paid for that class. But I do suggest that you demand a refund.

    Have you done any serious hard or software designs in your work?

    Yes, I have.

    What characteristics do you notice about designed things?

    The most obvious difference is that they are very different from evolved things.

    I am sorry, but science should be understood as an unfettered (but ethically and morally responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our cosmos based on observation, experimental testing, measurement where appropriate, explanatory modelling, theorising and analysis, and serious but mutually respectful discussion among the informed. Its main explanatory results will always be provisional, but must at minimum be empirically testable and reliable.

    That is not how I understand science. I see it as far more of a pragmatic enterprise, one that is directed more toward understanding than could be expected of a search for truth. “Search for truth” is a better characterization of journalism than it is of science.

    You tell me what in that and in what follows … constitutes “a lot of rhetoric, but little content.”

    I am having trouble finding any testable hypotheses in what you quoted. Perhaps you can point some out.

  37. Have you done any serious hard or software designs in your work?

    What characteristics do you notice about designed things?

    The most obvious difference is that they are very different from evolved things.

    My designs have a rather peculiar feature then, in that they also evolve.

  38. Mung:
    Evidently, the commenters have never heard of an evolutionary spiral strategy for system development, which creates alpha beta, release candidate, release 1.0, 2.0 etc and sub versions.

    They have never heard of modularity, parts libraries, reuse and modification of components, etc etc.

    And more.

    they have not seen how hard it is to get the functionally specific complex organisation of a system set up and adjusted to put it at a robust operating point, not to mention what is needed to control quality to get consistently effective delivered product, and so much more.

    Have they ever had to troubleshoot in a multi-fault development system environment. (I think that the book, The Soul of a New Machine would be a good reference for the troubles that one has! BTW, is Data General still in existence?)

    GEM of TKI

  39. NR:

    If you don’t believe that searching for the truth about our world in light of empirical evidence, observation, experiment, analysis, modelling etc is key to good science, that explains a lot.

    The name of the game is scientific integrity, and trying to get to and be honest about the accurate truth about the world is a non-negotiable if science is to keep its integrity and in the end its credibility.

    BTW, the difference between seeking truth as closely as you can get it and seeking empirically useful results is a key marker of the distinction between modelling and theorising.

    GEM of TKI

  40. F/N: DNA is most definitely NOT a catalyst, it is an information store.

    Some RNA’s show some catalytic effects, easing reaction pathways (and thus drastically upping reaction rates), but that is a very different thing.

    The primary catalysts in the observed living cell are enzymes, which are specialised proteins, coded for in DNA, and effected suing RNA and proteins in ribosomes, with tRNAs and mRNAs.

  41. F/N 2: The party of scientism has a main faction, the evolutionary materialists. These are supported by various fellow travellers who more or less find ways to toe the partyline.

  42. KF @ 38

    I’ve done all these things and more.

  43. The party of scientism has a main faction, the evolutionary materialists. These are supported by various fellow travellers who more or less find ways to toe the partyline.

    I’ve worked with a lot of scientists and I can’t say I’ve ever encountered people like this.

  44. 44

    Neil at 30

    “There is nothing abstract about DNA. It is no more abstract than are the cogs (gear teeth) in the gearbox of my car.”

    Neil your first comment was nothing more than an unpleasant dismissal. Now you’ve returned to perform the same act for a second showing. It might be helpful to realize that if ID was, as you said, without a shred of evidence, then ID would be falsified, and that falsification of ID would be in the scientific record, and that record would be at the very center of the debate. Repeated over and over again. The index numbers and publication date would be the stuff of legends. But it doesn’t exist, Neil.

    As I said earlier, perhaps you should educate yourself before commenting.

  45. Dr BOT: Lucky you — the U of K just had to pay out US$ 125,000 on a job application improperly torpedoed by the ideologues, and there have been a fair number of similar high profile cases recently. You may also want to look at The Slaughter of the Dissidents as already linked. G

  46. 46

    Dr Liddle,

    But my point, I guess, is that these are not arbitrary/symbolic mappings. You can’t just make one codon code for different amino acid by declaring it so in some look-up dictionary – in that sense, DNA is more like a jig, or a template than a code. The mapping arises directly from the physical chemistry.

    This is simply an assumption without any physical evidence to support it. In fact, the physical observations go in the opposite direction at every turn. Like many others, I have been following this debate for years on end, and in all that time I have been patiently waiting for someone to publish the purely chemical basis for the mapping of C-T-A to Leucine (as an example). A demonstration of that chemical basis does not exist, and consequently neither does its publication. Like a red plastic ball, all of the chemistry involved follows the laws of physics with absolute fidelity, but there is nothing in the chemistry of a red plastic ball that explains its existence. What was required is not in the chemistry.

    Now if you find yourself to be a self-aware red plastic ball, you will see nothing but chemistry if that is what you determine yourself to see, but that changes nothing about the observable evidence to the contrary.

    I don’t see why

    Because if polyuracil wasn’t mapped to phenylalanine he wouldn’t have discovered the semiotic relationship which exists between the two.

    Well, no, that’s my point. Unless there is prior agreement as to what the signal means, the other boat crew could radically misinterpret it (as I know to my cost). That is not the case with DNA, because the reason a given codon catalyses the formation of a given amino acid lies in the chemical properties of those bases, not some arbitrary look-up table. There is no look-up table!

    The rules and conventions in protein synthesis are instantiated in the decoding system itself (where else would it be in an autonomous entity?). In that system, there is no direct chemical link from nucleic acid to amino acid. The two do not physically interact. The anticodon is at one end of the tRNA molecule, and the amino acid is at the other. You may have been mis-led otherwise.

    Truly, how much more convincing these arguments would have been if either of the two assumptions you’ve demonstrated in your response had come to pass as man discovered the systems which organize matter into living things – but they simply didn’t.

    Nice to meet you as well ;)

  47. DrBOT

    kindly tell us some of your war stories.

    For one of mine, I once had a spike eating capacitor that would not work as a ceramic disk, the standard one for that job.

    I was forced to use Silvered Mica, nothing else would work. Since this was a research one-off design, I could do that and move on to more important foci instead of wasting valuable time, and I did. Can you imagine what would happen to someone coming back and seeing a “too expensive” silvered mica cap sitting in the midst of a digital ckt board? BAD DESIGN — had to have happened by chance!

    But, this was a case of a trade-off: one-off design so if the fix works on what is in the end a minor headache, go for it.

    I also once knew a man who designed an IR controller that used rejected BJT’s, resistors etc in a common emitter fixed bias ckt, used in ways that I have never seen such a ckt used before.

    I remembered observing: simple ckt, sophisticated design. The ckt was far simpler looking than the design that went into it, including being able to use reject parts that were there for picking up. And yes, this was a commercial design constrained on cost, for a use and throw away system.

    G

  48. 48
    Elizabeth Liddle

    @kairosfocus

    Dr Liddle, I would say in the context of the dismissive remark and my pointing to some specific content as a challenge, that BA’s remarks were relevant, not distractive led away to strawman caricatures and incendiary dismissals. BA has been very much the gentleman all along for years, our resident rare quotes clipper and pointer to vids no-one else seems to have spotted.

    I meant no offence, and if I caused any, I apologise.

  49. kairosfocus (#39)

    If you don’t believe that searching for the truth about our world in light of empirical evidence, observation, experiment, analysis, modelling etc is key to good science, that explains a lot.

    The name of the game is scientific integrity, and trying to get to and be honest about the accurate truth about the world is a non-negotiable if science is to keep its integrity and in the end its credibility.

    You are mischaracterizing what I said. I was not in any way suggesting that scientists do not care about the truth of their statements.

    In the 18th century, scientists investigated phenomena such as lightning, hair standing on end, sparks when you touch something metal after walking on a carpet. If science were a search for truth, then today we should have extremely accurate descriptions of lightning, hair standing on end, etc. Instead, we have electric toasters, refrigerators, lighting, computers. The goals of science have to be far wider than a “search for truth” to have those achievements.

  50. NR:

    Kindly look at the Original post, at the point where I take time to discuss what science is about and how it goes about it. The search for the truth about our cosmos is a vital component of science and a key preserver of the integrity and credibility of science. Note how above I have spoken to the explore, describe explain predict control/influence application agenda.

    It also turns out to be true that the openness to all reasonable possible explanations instead of imposing censorship by a priori materialism, is a key issue on what has gone wrong with origins science, which would have the effect of ideologising science and abusing its reputation for seeking the truth about our world.

    To see a parallel look at the Climategate scandal and its impact.

    GEM of TKI

  51. Upright BiPed (#44)

    As I said earlier, perhaps you should educate yourself before commenting.

    Thank you very much for that personal insult. I shall wear it with pride.

    It might be helpful to realize that if ID was, as you said, without a shred of evidence, then ID would be falsified, and that falsification of ID would be in the scientific record, and that record would be at the very center of the debate.

    Either the search function in my browser is broken, or the only poster who has used the expression “shred of evidence” in this thread is Upright Biped.

  52. KF @ 28 and 34 – regarding Darwin, there are, I believe, many eminent historians who would disagree with Mrs O’leary.

    You say this

    Unfortunately, the force of Darwin’s words in Descent, were that the so-called more advanced races would push the so-called less advanced (evolutionarily) ones to extinction. Having made that prediction Darwin simply went on to his next point on gappiness of the fossil record, as though he had not highlighted a major moral hazard.

    If you read the full text you see that the example of more advanced species destroying less advanced ones was part of his point about gaps and how they can occur. He did not, as you say, make a prediction about species killing off other species and then move on to make a point about gaps, the bit about killing comes in the middle of a paragraph about gaps between species.

    In any case Darwins words appear to be an expression of his belief about what humans would inevitably do rather than a scientific prediction that stems from his theory, but I suspect you will choose to read it differently.

    I am pretty sure Darwin — a gentleman, in the end — would have been horrified by the consequences of what he tossed off in a few paragraphs, and failed to pause and highlight an alternative to.

    But the issue of the implications was there, and it was taken up,

    It’s hard to see what you mean. Darwin doesn’t propose eugenics in any of his writing, and in some parts he explicitly warns against the dangers of employing methods of artificial selection, that were already in use by farmers for centuries before, on humans.

    When it comes down to it though nothing about Darwins character, or any political agenda that his theory might have been twisted to support, has an impact on whether his theory provided an accurate framework for explaining observed phenomena. And I don’t believe that ANYTHING in the theory of evolution as it was in Darwins day implied that Eugenics was a good idea.

    If Darwins attempt to formulate a theoretical framework for describing how species evolve led to the persecution of the Jews then that is unfortunate, but has no bearing on whether his theory was good.

    In the same way, if the anti semitic writings of the German priest Martin Luther led to the persecution of the Jews then it is not the fault of Jesus or the Bible. Luther is, after all, widely referenced by writers supporting the third reich – but were they just being opportunistic?

    Or more perhaps a more directly relevant analogy to the debate on Hitler would be to ask – Does the Bible imply antisemitism or was it just abused to support that ideology?

  53. 53
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Upright BiPed:

    Thanks for your response. I’m a bit surprised by it,tbh.

    I thought I was referring to something that was pretty self-evident, so I guess I’ve learned something :)

    It hadn’t actually occurred to me that anyone thought that the reason that CTA maps to leucine is anything other than, well, the fact that CUA, in the contexts of a codon, catalyses a CTA RNA sequence, and thence leucine.

    Are you saying that CTA might just as easily catalyse valine? In which case, what stops it doing so?

    tbh, I simply don’t have the evidence you ask for, so, shame on me. But I’d certainly like to know what mechanism you propose “tells” the RNA molecule that if it has a CTA codon,it has to make leucine not something else. It seems to me that the CTA sequence makes leucine because that’s what a CTA sequence does! A codon’s gotta do what a codon’s gotta do.

    And if there’s an answer to “why”, it’s going to lie in the physics and chemistry, and stereochemistry of the CTA bonds. Not in a lookup decoder table.

  54. Neil,

    If science were a search for truth, then today we should have extremely accurate descriptions of lightning, hair standing on end, etc. Instead, we have electric toasters, refrigerators, lighting, computers. The goals of science have to be far wider than a “search for truth” to have those achievements.

    Science is not engineering. If you want to find the people who have developed toasters, refrigerators, lighting, computers, etc, you’re largely going to be looking at guys who are not scientists, even if they make reference to science at points in their technological developments.

    It’s funny you mention lighting, since Edison said outright that he was an inventor, not a scientist.

  55. Onlookers:

    Let me clip the original post, as this reveals the strawman tactic just above:

    ____________

    >> science, at its best, is the unfettered — but ethically and intellectually responsible — progressive pursuit of the truth about our world (i.e. an accurate and reliable description and explanation of it), based on:

    a: collecting, recording, indexing, collating and reporting accurate, reliable (and where feasible, repeatable) empirical — real-world, on the ground — observations and measurements,

    b: inference to best current — thus, always provisional — abductive explanation of the observed facts,

    c: thus producing hypotheses, laws, theories and models, using logical-mathematical analysis, intuition and creative, rational imagination [including Einstein's favourite gedankenexperiment, i.e thought experiments],

    d: continual empirical testing through further experiments, observations and measurement; and,

    e: uncensored but mutually respectful discussion on the merits of fact, alternative assumptions and logic among the informed. (And, especially in wide-ranging areas that cut across traditional dividing lines between fields of study, or on controversial subjects, “the informed” is not to be confused with the eminent members of the guild of scholars and their publicists or popularisers who dominate a particular field at any given time.)

    As a result, science enables us to ever more effectively (albeit provisionally) describe, explain, understand, predict and influence or control objects, phenomena and processes in our world. >>
    ____________

    In case some do not know, the agenda just highlighted ends in precisely the applications that are so often used in engineering, based on tested and empirically reliable theories and models.

    Remember, this is in the context of the dismissal that I am putting up empty contentless rhetoric in the IOSE course from which this clip comes.

    I take this as evidence that NR did not take time to do due diligence reading of even the OP, much less the IOSE he was invited to address on the merits but chose to dismiss, before objecting.

    GEM of TKI

  56. 56
    Elizabeth Liddle

    In defence (who, me?) of the notion that Darwin influenced Hitler – I don’t know much about Hitler (and want to know less, frankly), but I often find myself shocked by the attitudes that were plainly taken for granted in “intellectual” circles in Britain, for instance, in the thirties (before the horrors of Hitler’s eugenics programme were known, of course).

    In Dorothy L. Sayers’ novel, “Gaudy Night”, for instance, there is (IIRC – it’s a while since I read it), there’s a (fictional, obviously) High Table discussion at Oxford about eugenicist ideas then current Germany. It’s fairly clear that Sayers doesn’t approve the discussion (she puts the argument in the mouth of a not-very-sympathetic character) but what it reveals is that clearly, to Sayers,such a view was neither deeply shocking, nor taboo, in the Oxford of her time.

    I think it is probably true that Darwin’s book did make people wonder about the future of the human race, and whether it was right to facilitate (or even prevent) the breeding of the “unfit”. Post holocaust we now know where that kind of thinking can lead us.

    But I would tend to agree that it was “in the air” of the thirties, and not just in Germany – and probably because of Darwin (and others, of course – remember Wallace got there at the same time).

    However, I still say that what moral (or immoral) conclusions people draw from science is totally irrelevant to the question as to whether or not the science is valid. Perhaps some truths are dangerous to know, but it still doesn’t make them untrue. It does place a grave responsibility on scientists, however, to speak out when their ideas are misused to justify immoral positions.

  57. 57

    Neil at #51,

    Thank you very much for that personal insult. I shall wear it with pride.

    In your first comment (which I responded to) you made an assertion with no backing whatsosever. You simply declared “0% evidence” for ID. The basis of your declaration, apparently, is that you made it.

    In your second response, you simply declared there is “nothing abstract” about DNA. Again, no backing, just assertion.

    Neil, if you want to wear an insult, then knock yourself out. You’ve earned it.

  58. 58
    Elizabeth Liddle

    kf @ 34:

    I apologise, but I managed to scroll past your post thinking it was one I had already read.

    We seem to be in broad agreement here, thankyou :)

  59. Null:

    Applied scientists — “I are one” — do bridge the gap between science and engineering.

    Utility for application based on empirical reliability of facts, theories and models is a legitimate aspect of science.

    BTW, Einstein held a patent on a special type of absorption refrigerator, and he also contributed to the solution of the dud torpedo problem in WW II.

    Other leading scientists were involved in the cutting edge design work that was so vital to the Allied and Axis war efforts.

    And that continues to this day. For instance Robotics and AI are interdisciplinary and involve all sorts of professionals.

    If you will look it up, IEEE embraces scientists and mathematicians as well as engineers. Indeed, that is part of how some of the papers by Marks and Dembski are published through the IEEE.

    GEM of TKI

  60. Dr Liddle:

    It does seem we are in fundamental agreement.

    Sadly, California provided some of the key models for Nazi law.

    GEM of TKI

  61. kairosfocus,

    Applied scientists — “I are one” — do bridge the gap between science and engineering.

    No doubt, but they bridge a gap insofar as there is a gap that needs to be bridged to begin with.

  62. KF, re war stories.

    I once worked with a guy who used genetic algorithms on reconfigurable logic circuits. He started by trying to evolve a clock pulse generator, beginning with a population of random configurations, testing each ones output against a fitness function and applying crossover and mutation to produce a new generation (all happening on real hardware rather than a simulation)

    The process was automated and after a week the evaluation system indicated that a good level of fitness had been reached. When they tested the output all they saw was random noise. A bit more testing and they saw a good quality square wave, but for only a quarter of a second. It was no coincidence that the fitness evaluation period for the GA was a quarter of a second. The GA had evolved exactly what they asked – produce a square wave for 1/4 sec!

    What was most interesting was that the random noise they saw in the output was actually RF noise. It turns out that the logic gate had evolved to make use of RF noise from the computers nearby – they had inadvertently evolved a radio reciever.

    Another aspect uncovered on analysis was that one part of the circuit was electrically isolated from the other, yet disabling that part stopped the entire thing from working – it turned out to be using parasitic capacitance between isolated components. I believe in other experiments he also managed to evolve solutions that relied on manufacturing flaws in the circuits – flaws that had no effect on their designed function as logic gates, but which the evolutionary process was able to exploit.

    A neat offshoot of this work, done by another guy I met at a conference a few years ago were successful attempts to evolve fault tolerant logic gates – he managed to evolve an logic circuit that both performed a logic operation, and would reliable indicate a fault if any part of the circuit stopped working – including the fault checking element. The GA produced a much more effective solution than any human designer had managed.

    I’m an engineer at heart but I am a big fan of GA’s as design tools because they are not constrained in the way that human designer are – they can find and exploit things the designer didn’t realize were even there. Although they are mighty tricky to use when you have a specific goal in mind ;)

  63. nullasalus (#54)

    Science is not engineering.

    You miss the point. Engineers would not be developing toasters, etc, were it not for the fact that the goal and achievments of science go far beyond a “search for truth.”

  64. Dr BOT:

    You will find historians, scientists and philosophers to dispute any conclusion, especially one that points to a serious hole in science and science education, i.e. the ethics gap, as I spoke to in 34.

    My issue is not based on who said what among the guild of scholars today. I have gone back, and seen for myself, as the key clip from Wells shows. Onlookers, here is the key blog post from the series done nearly three years ago.

    And, there is more, much more, sickeningly much more.

    Think about the case of Ota Benga (ask yourself why an obvious human being could ever have been shown in a cage at a zoo as though he were a monkey — compare that same extract from Darwin), and the trade in museum specimens based on assumed sub-humans, some of whom were killed to make the specimens.

    You will note that I am very aware of Darwin’s context, only I refuse to spin it. He is talking about gaps in the record and trying to explain away that embarrassing bit of non-evidence. He then draws out the implications of his theory for extinction of inferior races of human beings and the top level apes — notice the continuum — and having proved his point gets on with the gaps argument without batting an eye.

    Sorry, you just exposed a major moral hazard.

    You need to stop and deal with it, even if only in a footnote.

    Here is Wells (a student of Huxley BTW), who seems to have realised the problem and addressed these issues in at least three novels, War of the Worlds [genocide of inferior races], Time machine [eugenics on steroids, i.e. breeding humans like sheep for the slaughter] and Island of Dr Moreau [the proverbial ethically irresponsible mad scientist].

    No-body took him seriously, and made him a prophet.

    Opening words from War of the Worlds, excerpted (onlookers, this appears in the linked, which Dr BOT is not addressing, nor is he seriously addressing the relevant clip from Hitler that directly builds on Darwin’s arguments in Chs 5 – 7 of Descent of Man):

    ______________

    >> No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water . . . No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us . . . . looking across space with instruments, and intelligences such as we have scarcely dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance only 35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope, our own warmer planet, green with vegetation and grey with water, with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility, with glimpses through its drifting cloud wisps of broad stretches of populous country and narrow, navy-crowded seas.

    And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admits that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would seem that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars. Their world is far gone in its cooling and this world is still crowded with life, but crowded only with what they regard as inferior animals. To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, their only escape from the destruction that, generation after generation, creeps upon them.

    And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit? >>
    _______________

    That’s 1897 folks.

    Ota Benga was put into a Zoo as if he were a monkey in New York City circa 1910.

    Mrs O’Leary has put her finger on something serious.

    GEM of TKI

  65. NR:

    Kindly take some time to see what I actually said in the OP and have clipped above.

    See how you have set up and knocked over a strawman misrepresentation.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Null, there is such a thing as a spectrum from pure to applied science to engineering and onward to commercial product development. there is a considerable overlap between science, engineering and mathematics, and so it is not helpful to try to force fit tight borders.

  66. F/N: Dr BOT, do you remember the days of Ge ckts that coupled through IR, becoming inadvertently optocoupled ckts? That happened BTW without a GA — it;s not just GA’s that do stuff. The magnetron was a similar case, discovered and developed — a war winning weapon used in the H2S for bombing and sub hunting — before the theory for it was properly worked out. Edison saw the photoelectric effect practically before it was explained by Einstein as a big part of his Nobel Prize. A lot of things we take for granted were identified through a breadboard, not a deliberate design. And, originally, a breadboard was literally that.

  67. F/N: News, in a new post, highlights a key example of the red herring, strawman, ad hominem distortions we discussed above, from P Z Myers.

  68. kairosfocus (#65)

    See how you have set up and knocked over a strawman misrepresentation.

    There was no strawman. I expressed my opinion as to how to characterize science, and that clearly disagrees with how you want to characterize science. From the wording that I used, it should have been very clear that I was expressing opinion. I am not insisting that you change your view. It does not bother me that we disagree on such issues. In fact, many people agree with your way of characterizing science.

    Surely you are not saying that expressing an opinion amounts to a strawman misrepresentation.

  69. Neil,

    You miss the point. Engineers would not be developing toasters, etc, were it not for the fact that the goal and achievments of science go far beyond a “search for truth.”

    And you miss the point: First, that engineers – not scientists – have the primary role in coming up with toasters, etc, and that scientists’ hand in such only comes up insofar as they take on the tasks and attitudes of engineers.

    “Science” is not a person. It is a method, a practice. I could agree that science is not “search for truth” – but insofar as a man wants to build a better mousetrap, his concern is largely that of engineering, not science. If science produces something that engineering can use, it’s a happy accident considering the method.

  70. NR:

    I will do something that I seldom do these days, as it is germane to the basic problem this thread addresses.

    Now, despite posts being buried by much since earlier today, we can all scroll up to see how you tried to knock over my summary as though it failed to address the aspect of the agenda that leads to applications, even though this is exactly how the extended definition concludes — the second most emphatic position in a statement.

    I showed the agenda, in the end by clipping and citing.

    You now argue that you did not make the objection I replied to. (Hint, cf your reference to “journalism” and your emphases as though I had ONLY said that science seeks truth about our world.)

    Let’s roll the tape, by excerpting above:

    ______________

    KF, 32: >> I am sorry, but science should be understood as an unfettered (but ethically and morally responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our cosmos based on observation, experimental testing, measurement where appropriate, explanatory modelling, theorising and analysis, and serious but mutually respectful discussion among the informed. Its main explanatory results will always be provisional, but must at minimum be empirically testable and reliable. That way we can go about serious, open minded exploration, description, explanation, prediction, testing and application. [cf OP] >>

    NR, 36: >> That is not how I understand science. I see it as far more of a pragmatic enterprise, one that is directed more toward understanding than could be expected of a search for truth. “Search for truth” is a better characterization of journalism than it is of science. >>

    [And BTW, the whole CSI/FSCI concept is riddled with observationally testable hypotheses and there are specific reports on the results of such testing, just for starters -- yet another misrepresentation that I did not have time to deal with previously. Similarly, I should suggest to you that there are highly significant and close resemblances between engineered and living systems such as codes, algorithms, implementing machines, even position-arm devices with tool tips, and so on.]

    NR, 49: >> kairosfocus (#39)

    If you don’t believe that searching for the truth about our world in light of empirical evidence, observation, experiment, analysis, modelling etc is key to good science, that explains a lot.

    The name of the game is scientific integrity, and trying to get to and be honest about the accurate truth about the world is a non-negotiable if science is to keep its integrity and in the end its credibility.

    You are mischaracterizing what I said. I was not in any way suggesting that scientists do not care about the truth of their statements.

    In the 18th century, scientists investigated phenomena such as lightning, hair standing on end, sparks when you touch something metal after walking on a carpet. If science were a search for truth, then today we should have extremely accurate descriptions of lightning, hair standing on end, etc. Instead, we have electric toasters, refrigerators, lighting, computers. The goals of science have to be far wider than a “search for truth” to have those achievements. >>

    OP: >> science, at its best, is the unfettered — but ethically and intellectually responsible — progressive pursuit of the truth about our world (i.e. an accurate and reliable description and explanation of it), based on:

    a: collecting, recording, indexing, collating and reporting accurate, reliable (and where feasible, repeatable) empirical — real-world, on the ground — observations and measurements,

    b: inference to best current — thus, always provisional — abductive explanation of the observed facts,

    c: thus producing hypotheses, laws, theories and models, using logical-mathematical analysis, intuition and creative, rational imagination [including Einstein's favourite gedankenexperiment, i.e thought experiments],

    d: continual empirical testing through further experiments, observations and measurement; and,

    e: uncensored but mutually respectful discussion on the merits of fact, alternative assumptions and logic among the informed. (And, especially in wide-ranging areas that cut across traditional dividing lines between fields of study, or on controversial subjects, “the informed” is not to be confused with the eminent members of the guild of scholars and their publicists or popularisers who dominate a particular field at any given time.)

    As a result, science enables us to ever more effectively (albeit provisionally) describe, explain, understand, predict and influence or control objects, phenomena and processes in our world. >>
    ______________

    The strawmannisation of what I said is quite plain.

    GEM of TKI

  71. Although they are mighty tricky to use when you have a specific goal in mind

    They can be tricky to use when you have a specific goal in mind but that that does not mean that they simply are mighty tricky to use when you have a specific goal in mind.

    GA’s can be tricky no matter what, as evidenced by Schneider’s attempts to get ev to generate CSI.

    The hardest part of using a GA is in mapping the problem domain on to a chromosome.

  72. Null:

    You have a point, but I must note that a lot of engineering work is embedded in scientific praxis, e.g in designing and implementing serious experiments in say physics or the like.

    More to the point however, once we are dealing with cutting edge technologies, scientists, engineers and mathematicians tend to be all over the place in developing the science and applying it.

    In fact, the best teams for that sort of thing have mixed discipline people in them. Bletchley Park was a great case in point. So was the Manhattan project. As was the MIT Radiation Lab that played such a key role in the development of radar in WW II.

    There are no hard and fast borders, especially where currently emerging sci and tech are involved.

    BTW, this is also happening to some extent with ID, e.g. Marks is an Electrical Engineer working with Dembski, a Mathematician and computer scientist. Linked in are Abel a Physicist, and Behe a Biologist-biochemist. Off on the side is Meyer a historian-philosopher of science. And so on.

    GEM of TKI

  73. kairosfocus (#70)

    Let’s roll the tape, by excerpting above:

    Sigh!

    That’s the third or fourth time that you have quoted the same material, each time falsely insinuating that I haven’t read it. That’s the third or fourth time that you falsely accuse me of a strawman misrepresentation.

    Enough already.

    Yes, I get it, that you somehow imagine that there was a strawman misrepresentation. It doesn’t follow that there was.

    In a post last evening on my blog, before you had even posted this thread, I raised some of the same points about why I disagree with the traditional view of science. My comments about science in this thread, like those in my blog post, were not specifically criticizing you.

    If you still think that my understanding of science is the same as yours, that I actually agree with you but am mischaracterizing your position, then please go read my blog post and see if you agree with it. Maybe even post a comment there.

  74. NR:

    The record is plain, at minimum you made a major error, because you failed to read what I wrote starting with the original post (a clip from that course draft you dismissed).

    GEM of TKI

  75. 75

    Hello again EL, sorry for the delay.

    Thanks for your response. I’m a bit surprised by it,tbh.
    I thought I was referring to something that was pretty self-evident, so I guess I’ve learned something

    I am not surprise that you could be surprised – after all, that is the fundamental power of the unquestioned assumption, is it not? :)

    It hadn’t actually occurred to me that anyone thought that the reason that CTA maps to leucine is anything other than, well, the fact that CUA, in the contexts of a codon, catalyses a CTA RNA sequence, and thence leucine.

    The implementation of the mapping follows chemical law, (as I acknowledged above) but that relationship only exist in the context of the system. It is the system which requires an explanation.

    Are you saying that CTA might just as easily catalyse valine? In which case, what stops it doing so?

    The elasticity of the genetic code is a matter of ongoing research, in particular are the effects of genetic proofreading machinery. I don’t think you’ll find many researchers on the cutting edge who think the system is beyond manipulation, and certainly not any who think that CTA leads to Leucine in the same way that iron and oxygen lead to iron oxide.

    I simply don’t have the evidence you ask for, so, shame on me. But I’d certainly like to know what mechanism you propose “tells” the RNA molecule that if it has a CTA codon,it has to make leucine not something else.

    The mechanism is no mystery. Properly charged tRNA results from the chemical configuration of the constituent parts of the translation system. However, I think you are missing the point. There is nothing inherent in the physical properties of the constituent parts that establishes “CTA must have a relationship with Leucine”. CTA has a relationship to Leucine because of the configuration and the the context.

    And, where do the configuration and the context come from? …from the information being decoded by the system, of course.

    If you care to do so, you might search for these topics and peruse the offerings. Various papers attack the issue from different angles. You might come across something like the following:

    Abstract
    Most organisms, from Escherichia coli to humans, use the ‘universal’ genetic code, which have been unchanged or ‘frozen’ for billions of years. It has been argued that codon reassignment causes mistranslation of genetic information, and must be lethal. In this study, we successfully reassigned the UAG triplet from a stop to a sense codon in the E. coli genome, by eliminating the UAG-recognizing release factor, an essential cellular component, from the bacterium. Only a few genetic modifications of E. coli were needed to circumvent the lethality of codon reassignment; erasing all UAG triplets from the genome was unnecessary. Thus, UAG was assigned unambiguously to a natural or non-natural amino acid, according to the specificity of the UAG-decoding tRNA. The result reveals the unexpected flexibility of the genetic code

    And if there’s an answer to “why”, it’s going to lie in the physics and chemistry, and stereochemistry of the CTA bonds. Not in a lookup decoder table.

    Correct. Material objects follow physical laws. But physical laws are incapable of explaining all things by virtue of the matter in those things. It must be simply assumed that they do.

    - – - – -

    Since this conversation is going off-topic (and I fear KF) I will drop it.

  76. nullasalus (#69)

    And you miss the point: First, that engineers – not scientists – have the primary role in coming up with toasters, etc, and that scientists’ hand in such only comes up insofar as they take on the tasks and attitudes of engineers.

    Sorry, but we are still miscommunicating.

    I agree with you on what is an engineer’s job. I was not intending to imply that scientists invented the toaster.

    I was making a very different point. In designing those things, the electrical engineer use concepts such as electrical current, voltage, resistance, inductance. None of those concepts were even in the language when scientists began studying electricity. The engineer cannot cannot work with concepts that are unknown. No search for truth will cause unknown concepts to magically jump into existence. No amount of abduction to the best inference will cause unknown concepts to jump into existence. It required going beyond the kind of activity that is often said to characterize science.

  77. UB:

    Good catch. Shows the informational connexion.

    G

  78. 78
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Upright BiPed: Thanks, but you now seem to be supporting my original point! That the mapping is not arbitrary (as most human codes are).

    That seems to me an extremely important difference. Leucine is “coded” by CUA via CTA not because of some arbitrary pairing, as in the latin alphabet, for example, but because, in the physical configuration and context of the cell, that is the physical result.

    But when you say:

    And, where do the configuration and the context come from? …from the information being decoded by the system, of course.

    I think we are going round in circles! The configuration and context doesn’t “come from” the “information being decoded by the system”. The configuration and context IS the information!

    Or as I would prefer to put it (for clarity): the chemical reaction sequence is contingent on local molecular context.

  79. 79

    “No search for truth will cause unknown concepts to magically jump into existence.”

    Tell it to Wegener, Neil, tell it to Pasteur.

  80. 80

    EL,

    Thanks, but you now seem to be supporting my original point! That the mapping is not arbitrary (as most human codes are).

    With all due respect, I said all along that physical objects follow physical laws. If that is all that is needed to support your point, then your point is trivial by virtue of everyone’s tacit agreement.

    Leucine is “coded” by CUA via CTA not because of some arbitrary pairing, as in the latin alphabet, for example, but because, in the physical configuration and context of the cell, that is the physical result.

    This is indistinguishable from suggesting that a light switch is not arbitrary because in the context of an electrical circuit, it has a physical result. If you want to show that the mapping of nucleic acids to amino acids is actually determined by physics, then you are going to have to do a lot more than point to its functionality in order to establish the point of determination. You are not just going to have to demonstrate that cytosine, thymine, and adenine have an inherent physical mapping to leucine, but you are going to have to demonstrate that cytosine, followed by thymine, followed by adenine, in that specific order, creates an inherent physicality which establishes the mapping to leucine.

    So let me cut to the chase, what are the physical properties (of cytosine, thymine, and adenine) that create the mapping (to leucine). And, in order to not trample any further on KF’s post, let us be specific. For instance, cytosine has a molecular formula of C4H5N3O. Adenine has a molecular formula of C5H5N5, thymine has a formula of C5H6N2O2 and leucine has a formula of C6H13NO2.

    That is the starting point. What are the observable physical properties of these nucleic acids (presented in the above sequence) which determine that leucine should be added to a polypeptide?

    If your response is that it is not the physicality of the individual constituent parts themselves, but is the context and configuration of the system in which they operate (charged tRNA, etc) then you have established that it is indeed arbitrary in regard to the physics of the nucleotides themselves. Why? Because the context can change; a feat which has already be performed experimentally.

    Quite frankly, you are looking at an informational medium containing abstracted information recorded by means of a system of chemical symbols. These symbolic representations are passed through a channel and decoded using the rules established in the translation hardware. All of this is an observed reality, but you keep suggesting it’s an illusion of human making. The observations suggest otherwise. Humans didn’t invent symbols systems and recorded information; we came along later and found it already existed.

    I think we are going round in circles! The configuration and context doesn’t “come from” the “information being decoded by the system”. The configuration and context IS the information!

    Whoa! Perhaps I am not the person to have this conversation with. I don’t think you could be more mistaken if you deliberately tried.

    In deference to the topic of the OP (and it’s late here) I withdraw.

    Cheers

  81. #80 UB

    I hope you don’t mind me butting in on this but this comment caught my eye:

    If your response is that it is not the physicality of the individual constituent parts themselves, but is the context and configuration of the system in which they operate (charged tRNA, etc) then you have established that it is indeed arbitrary in regard to the physics of the nucleotides themselves. Why? Because the context can change; a feat which has already be performed experimentally.

    Surely virtually every cause effect relationship is dependent on the context? A meteor hits a planet  – the effect will depend on the context – the density of the atmosphere, the nature of the surface, etc .  I cannot think of any effect which is totally determined by the “physicality of the individual constituent parts themselves”

  82. You will note that I am very aware of Darwin’s context, only I refuse to spin it. He is talking about gaps in the record and trying to explain away that embarrassing bit of non-evidence. He then draws out the implications of his theory for extinction of inferior races of human beings and the top level apes — notice the continuum — and having proved his point gets on with the gaps argument without batting an eye.

    I guess we will have to agree to disagree but with respect, I don’t see how you interpret that passage in the way you do without some spin.

    Sorry, you just exposed a major moral hazard.

    You need to stop and deal with it, even if only in a footnote.

    And I’m not really sure what I’m being accused of here?

    (onlookers, this appears in the linked, which Dr BOT is not addressing, nor is he seriously addressing the relevant clip from Hitler that directly builds on Darwin’s arguments in Chs 5 – 7 of Descent of Man):

    And again, I don’t understand. Given that the Nazis considered Darwins books worth burning as false science why would Hitler build on Darwins works, and where is the evidence that he build arguments directly on Darwins published work? It would help to have the quote from Hitler you are referring to.

  83. Elizabeth Liddle @78:

    That seems to me an extremely important difference. Leucine is “coded” by CUA via CTA not because of some arbitrary pairing, as in the latin alphabet, for example, but because, in the physical configuration and context of the cell, that is the physical result.

    I’d be intereseted in knowing what makes a code arbitrary?

    Are you familair with the concept of machine code?

    In the context of a computer and operating system it pretty much always does what it does by virtue of the physical circuits.

    Does that make machine code non-arbitrary?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine_code

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assembly_language

  84. Onlookers:

    Notice the great reluctance to accept that the genetic code as implemented in the ribosome, with its start/methionine, extend with AA-x, repeat with next AA, stop algorithmic step by step sequence, is a code based algorithmic process.

    What sort of cause, on our empirical observation, best explains code driven, algorithmically controlled, step by step assembly line manufacturing processes that create units that are processed onwards to fulfill function?

    This is of course a self-answering, or “rhetorical” question. (Verbal self-defense in action.)

    The fact that the chained monomers in nucleic acids are selected to have a complementary fit as the means by which the code is implemented, suddenly, is seen as evidence that the code and the algorithm are all more or less a result of chemistry and physics. But in fact they are constrained by the physical situation, but that is taken advantage of to implement something of a different order, a string based digitally controlled protein manufacturing process.

    Remember, the onward functionality is remote from the sequence of AAs in the DNA (and in eukaryotes, there is a snipping apart and reassembly of the right proteins). Also, there is a dispatching code that often appears in AA chains, to send the protein to where it is to work. And this is before we get to the real point of the code: the specific possible sequences are very diverse and are set up to find deeply isolated functional fold domains in AA config space.

    In addition, the tRNA AA taxis and position arm units, carry the AA at the side that is remote from the anticodon that key-lock fits the mRNA codon.

    In short, the exchange above is plainly misdirected and overlooks the key context.

    I think this illustrates a subtler issue than is emphasised in the OP above: when there is a contentious and momentous issue at stake, our perceptions are very likely to be inaccurate based on what we “need” to see to support our view.

    This is one reason why mutually respectful but uncensored constructive dialogue among the informed is so important.

    GEM of TKI

  85. Dr BOT:

    Your insistence on trying to put up irrelevant objections forces me to cite Hitler, Bk I Ch X of his Mein Kampf [it was accessible in the previously linked], I refuse to give the link.

    Let me give the key cluster of clips:

    _______________

    Darwin, Descent, ch 6, 1871: >> Man is liable to numerous, slight, and diversified variations, which are induced by the same general causes, are governed and transmitted in accordance with the same general laws, as in the lower animals. Man has multiplied so rapidly, that he has necessarily been exposed to struggle for existence, and consequently to natural selection. He has given rise to many races, some of which differ so much from each other, that they have often been ranked by naturalists as distinct species . . . .

    At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. >>

    H G Wells, War of the Worlds Ch 1, 1897: >> No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water . . . No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us . . . . looking across space with instruments, and intelligences such as we have scarcely dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance only 35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope, our own warmer planet, green with vegetation and grey with water, with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility, with glimpses through its drifting cloud wisps of broad stretches of populous country and narrow, navy-crowded seas.

    And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admits that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would seem that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars. Their world is far gone in its cooling and this world is still crowded with life, but crowded only with what they regard as inferior animals. To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, their only escape from the destruction that, generation after generation, creeps upon them. [Note, he had the Martians land in England, turning the English into the inferior savages to be exterminated, as in use of irony . . . ]

    And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit? >>

    Hitler, Mein Kampf, Bk I ch XI, 1920′s: >> Any crossing of two beings not at exactly the same level produces a medium between the level of the two parents . . . Consequently, it will later succumb in the struggle against the higher level. Such mating is contrary to the will of Nature for a higher breeding of all life . . . The stronger must dominate and not blend with the weaker, thus sacrificing his own greatness. Only the born weakling can view this as cruel, but he after all is only a weak and limited man; for if this law did not prevail, any conceivable higher development of organic living beings would be unthinkable. [notice how racism and by direct extension eugenics are inferred from the law of evolution]

    The consequence of this racial purity, universally valid in Nature [i.e. this is a natural law], is not only the sharp outward delimitation of the various races, but their uniform character in themselves. The fox is always a fox, the goose a goose, the tiger a tiger, etc., and the difference can lie at most in the varying measure of force, strength, intelligence, dexterity, endurance, etc., of the individual specimens. [He deduces fitness from superiority of characteristics, a classic Darwinist view on survival of the fittest, and significantly he shifts to predators, overlooking that predators need prey to survive, but well adapted to the displacement view of races: preservation of favoured races in teh struggle for life, as the subtitle of Origin highlights] But you will never find a fox who in his inner attitude might, for example, show humanitarian tendencies toward geese, as similarly there is no cat with a friendly inclination toward mice [Notice his predatory and displacement views brought together, and for foxes and cats read Aryan Germans; for geese and mice read: Poles, Jews, etc] . . . .

    In the struggle for daily bread [Nutrition as a determinant of survival of the fittest through Malthusian struggle, nb Origin is explicitly Malthusian] all those who are weak and sickly or less determined succumb [first level of survival of the fittest, food], while the struggle of the males for the female grants the right or opportunity to propagate only to the healthiest. [That is, Darwinian sexual selection.] And struggle is always a means for improving a species’ health and power of resistance and, therefore, a cause of its higher development. [survival of the fittest]

    If the process were different, all further and higher development would cease and the opposite would occur. [notice the specific evolutionary progress per law of evolutionary ascent emphasis] For, since the inferior always predominates numerically over the best [NB: this is a theme in Darwin's discussion of the Irish, the Scots and the English in Descent], if both had the same possibility of preserving life and propagating, the inferior would multiply so much more rapidly that in the end the best would inevitably be driven into the background, unless a correction of this state of affairs were undertaken. Nature does just this by subjecting the weaker part to such severe living conditions that by them alone the number is limited, and by not permitting the remainder to increase promiscuously, but making a new and ruthless choice according to strength and health [This directly answers to an issue raised in Descent Chs 5 - 7] . . . >>
    _______________

    After this, please do not tell me that Hitler’s thought was not decisively shaped by evolutionary, eugenics and Malthusian struggle driven survival of the fittest ideas tracing directly and indirectly to Darwin (cf. here and the article clipped here). I suggest that a major means of this transfer was WW I German propaganda — decried by Bryan along the lines of my own implied critique — and his experience in and around Belgium, the precursor to the horrors of the 2nd WW. After all Hitler served in that area for the duration of the war.

    We need to face the serious implications of the wider chain of thought that has been traced by many others elsewhere, with Haeckel playing a starring role in the transmission and development of scientific racism tied to evolutionary thought and leading onwards to eugenics, the precursor to genocide.

    Indeed, as a black man, I have to note that some of the key champions of eugenics thought saw it as subtle, slow motion genocide of perceived inferior races and classes. This is the serious point behind the angry graffiti on the walls of Kingston of my childhood: “Birth Control plan to kill black people.”

    GEM of TKI

  86. #83 Mung

    Mung #83

     

    In the context of a computer and operating system it pretty much always does what it does by virtue of the physical circuits.

    Does that make machine code non-arbitrary?

    Isn’t the key difference that the machine code was chosen by the designers to do the job? There are a number of other choices they might have made, and they would have had to create a different context so the machine code had the desired effect.  You presumably believe that the DNA – Amino Acid relationship was also chosen – but others believe the relationship and the context developed without design.  So, unless you assume your premise, DNA is not arbitrary in the same sense as machine code.

  87. KF:

    “The fox is always a fox, the goose a goose, the tiger a tiger, ”

    So Hitler was influenced by Darwinian thought but did not actually believe in common descent?

  88. KF, it is easy to make any case you want by using selective quotes out of context isn it.

    The consequence of this racial purity, universally valid in Nature [i.e. this is a natural law], is not only the sharp outward delimitation of the various races, but their uniform character in themselves. The fox is always a fox, the goose a goose, the tiger a tiger, etc., and the difference can lie at most in the varying measure of force, strength, intelligence, dexterity, endurance, etc., of the individual specimens.

    In that very quote Hitler indicates he believed in created kinds, and in the rest of the quotes you provide he indicates that mixing these kinds was against nature. Contrast that with Darwins work where he made an argument that the Fox, goose, tiger etc were not seperate created kinds but part of a pattern of diversification.

    Hitler had an idea of racial purity linked to superiority – the ‘fitter’ were created that way by a creator. Darwins work explored the idea that ‘fitness’ was was a product of the creature, in the environment it was in – i.e. not something imposed by a creator.

    As I have already indicated, I’m not denying that the Nazis drew on ideas about both eugenics, and biblical antisemitism, when constructing their ideas about created kinds and the need to preserve their idea of racial purity. But their ideology is in stark contrast to the theory proposed by Darwin, and only a deliberate and ideologically driven attempt at distortion can turn Darwins theory – describing natural processes – into a set of commandments for how people should treat other people.

    The theory of evolution does not prescribe how people ought to behave, it describes observations in nature. You are trying to get an ought from an is.

    Newtons laws of motion do not imply that when someone hits you, you should strike them back with equal force – even though in the act of striking someone this is literally true in the physical sense.

  89. EZ:

    I am not sure if he believed in common descent of the races of man — that was a debate in that general era, especially in the wider socio-cultural circles that tend to popularise even dead scientific theories that fit with where people want to go. He definitely believed in evolution as a law and as grounding an imperative of predatory behaviour of man viewed as predator: survival of the fittest. And, his view on struggle for access to women is plainly a form of Darwinian sexual selection. His racism was plainly at least in key part rationalised on the perils of diluting the Aryan bloodline by breeding with inferiors. In that general era there was a notion of a superior Aryan race that was responsible for cultural advance. I guess in his mind, Jews were a particular temptation to dilute the race and so must be eliminated. Poles were the roadblock to getting living space in the East.

    My point was to document, in the face of denials and obfuscations, the roots of social darwinism in Darwin, the social darwinist milieu that was a key influence on the rise, thought and actions of Hitler, and the nazis more generally, and to answer the claim that Hitler’s thought was not specifically shaped by Darwinism.

    In addition, I drew on a case of someone who 40 years before it happened, saw what was coming and tried to warn.

    I am astonished that the Wells text was in the opening of one of the most famous of all Sci Fi works of all time, and was so roundly ignored.

    Something has to be driving that sort of moral blindness.

    GEM of TKI

  90. KF: It sounds like Herr Hitler didn’t understand the science really. But he knew what he wanted and he found justifications for that. I wonder when his personal racist views were formulated, before or after he heard about Darwin. Before or after he looked there for justification. That’s the real issue I think: what made him a racist in the first place?

    Well, thankfully, we are more enlightened. Materialist or Theist, we have to learn to touch people as Dr Bronowski put it whilst standing in the pool at Auschwitz.

    Too bad Darwin didn’t live to learn that much of our own bodies are suffused with bacteria, clearly an ‘inferior’ creature.

  91. Dr BOT:

    Pardon directness, but you are patently twisting the text into pretzels.

    Hitler outright declared that he believed in evolutionarily advanced, predatory races, that need to preserve their advantageous bloodlines and gradually advance evolutionarily. The fact that he spoke of diluting superior bloodlines and losing advantage shows that he is not looking at watertight distinct kinds but an evolutionary spectrum and hill-climbing gradient.

    And, I find that enough has been said to warrant my point –and Mrs O’Leary’s point [the initial point of the red herring above, onlookers] — on Hitler’s Social Darwinism and its roots, as well as the 1897 warning on where it would go.

    I have no wish to wade in further into the cesspool of Nazi thought, having given enough to show the many ways that darwinist thought was woven into Hitler’s views.

    As to the notion of the moral neutrality of Darwinism, actually the key issue is that Darwinism is used as a main prop for evolutionary materialism. From the OP and for a long time now, I have pointed out — as have many others going back to Plato — that it is this worldview that is irretrievably and inherently amoral and lends itself to the dangerous amoral, might makes right factionalism and domination that were particularly manifest with Hitler and the Communists.

    In particular, note how dominant factions in scientific institutions want to write such materialism into the very definition of science.

    We have been warned.

    Going beyond, you will see tha tin 34 above, my call is for science in society ethics training, and I specifically highlight that the issue of social darwinism is not a basis of rejecting darwinist theory, but a waqrning on a key moral hazard in it. Going beyond the evidence warrants that this theory is aq plausible account of some forms of micro evo, but it is not warranted for macro evo for body plans. The functionally complex and specific information generation challenge sees to that. Design is a better explanation there, and I pointed out that design of life in itself does not point to a designer in or beyond the cosmos. It is cosmological fine tuning that facilitates a world in which we have c chemistry cell based intelligent life is what points there.

    In this sense the whole debate over design inference and Darwinism is misdirected. But then, the materialists have wagered much on Darwinism as a key prop for their materialism.

    GEM of TKI

  92. KF:

    ” . . . Darwinism is used as a main prop for evolutionary materialism. From the OP and for a long time now, I have pointed out — as have many others going back to Plato — that it is this worldview that is irretrievably and inherently amoral and lends itself to the dangerous amoral, might makes right factionalism and domination that were particularly manifest with Hitler and the Communists.”

    Also manifest in the Roman empire, the Greek punic wars, the Christian crusades, the various religious pogroms and Martin Luther’s savage attacks on the Jews. Some of the Native American tribes, self considered to be highly spiritual, could be ruthless in fighting other, equally spiritual, tribes. People have been like that since the dawn of time and sadly have not changed their behaviour much since the advent of Christianity.

    I believe Nazi Germany labelled itself as a Christian nation which it clearly was not. The Waldensian Crusade was carried out on orders of the then Pope against Christians living in Europe. A truly shameful moment in the history of the Church. They purposely wiped out the Templars as well. GW Bush and T Blair, both highly religious men, led their nations into a war which now seems misguided, expensive and futile.

    It’s easy to find examples across the board of brutal and viscous regimes, many of which carried crosses or religious symbols whilst subjugating their enemies.

    I prefer to focus on promoting peace, good will and understanding amongst ALL people. Now. We can leave the past behind without forgetting it. We can’t undo it but we can overcome it.

  93. 93

    More people have died by atheists in a single century than the entire 2000 year history of Christianity. Punch in the body counts of Stalin, lenin, Mao, pol pot. It is a remarkable human massacre in such a small amount of time. Amazing how an ideology that is such a small percentage of the world population can own such a large percentage of the murder.

    And Hitler…wasn’t a big fan of Christians.

    From the declassified Nuremberg trials:

    “The Persecution of the Christian Churches…the Nazi plan to subvert and destroy German Christianity, which it calls it, an integral part of the National Socialist scheme of world conquest. [ny times]

    But wait, there is still hope for a Hitler Christian connection:

    “On one level, the Nazis saw an advantage. In tumultuous post-World War I Germany, the Christian churches ”had long been associated with conservative ways of thought, which meant that they tended to agree with the National Socialists in their authoritarianism, their attacks on Socialism and Communism”

    Except that…

    “But there was a dilemma for Hitler. While conservatives, the Christian churches ”could not be reconciled with the principle of racism, with a foreign policy of unlimited aggressive warfare, or with a domestic policy involving the complete subservience of Church to State.” Given that these were the fundamental underpinnings of the Nazi regime, ”conflict was inevitable,”

    Ny times

    Christianity must die for Hilter to live.

    Common denominator between greatest murderers Earth has ever known:

    Not fans of Jesus

  94. 94
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung @83

    That seems to me an extremely important difference. Leucine is “coded” by CUA via CTA not because of some arbitrary pairing, as in the latin alphabet, for example, but because, in the physical configuration and context of the cell, that is the physical result.

    I’d be intereseted in knowing what makes a code arbitrary?

    Are you familiar with the concept of machine code?

    Yes.

    In the context of a computer and operating system it pretty much always does what it does by virtue of the physical circuits.

    Does that make machine code non-arbitrary?

    That’s an interesting point, but no, it doesn’t, I don’t think, at least not in the sense I meant. But you may have put your finger on an important boundary condition, which is worth exploring.

    Let’s take the example of moveable type. I would say that the letter “B” is arbitrarily paired with the plosive voiced bilabial sound “buh”. Any number of alternative pairings can be devised, and indeed are used in different alphabetic systems, and we can even devise ciphers in which the pairings are deliberately scrambled so that the decoder needs a “key” to figuer out which letter is assigned to which phoneme.

    In a different sense, the piece of moveable type used to print the letter “B” “codes” for the printed letter “B”. When that piece of type is inked, and stamped on the page, it will, consistently, leave the mark “B”. There is nothing we can do, short of physically carving a bit off, that will make it “code” for anything other than a “B”.

    And what I am arguing is that CTA “codes” for leucine in the same manner as the piece of moveable type “codes” for the printed letter “B”, not as in the way the symbol “B” (usually) codes for the plosive voiced fricative sound “buh”.

    However, in a computer, ultimately, the execution of a program, as you rightly say, depends on the physical configuration of the electrical circuits. My original point was that what the program actually outputs depends on an arbitrary pairing of binary with output. But yes, that pairing has to be implemented by means of an operating system, among other things, and this is where the boundary condition is interesting, and I thank you for raising the point.

    So the question now becomes: does CUA “code” for leucine because of something akin to an operating system, or because of the intrinsic physical chemical properties of the base pairs that constitute the codon (as in moveable type)?

    And I would have to concede that it’s a little from column A and a little from column B :)

    Because of course, unlike my simple moveable type example, or indeed the “coding” of, say hydrogen by the juxtaposition of sodium and water, the product “leucine” is contingent on catalysis by a series of prior chemical reactions that create a set of nested contingencies that have to be satisfied before the chain of reactions is initiated.

    However, while I will happily concede (indeed I am grateful for the insight) that there may be more than one way to skin the leucine cat (there may well exist other contingency systems that would result in a different pairing, although I’m not enough of a biochemist to imagine how), these are inherently limited by the laws of physics and chemistry in a way that the flexibility of the binary system is not.

    That doesn’t mean that cells don’t operate on a binary system (I would maintain that they do, in an important sense) but I would argue that the binary part comes in at the level of the gene rather than at the level of the base-pair or even the codon (genes can be “switched” on and off) and it is that that renders the system so flexible.

    But I submit that at the level of the codon, the system has so few “options” that “arbitrary” (literally “concerning judgement”) is not a useful description.

    Or at least one that needs to be used with caution and liberal use of scare quotes :)

  95. 95

    “So the question now becomes: does CUA “code” for leucine because of something akin to an operating system, or because of the intrinsic physical chemical properties of the base pairs that constitute the codon (as in moveable type)?

    The answer to that question depends on your ideology.

    Based on your answer…

    “And I would have to concede that it’s a little from column A and a little from column B”

    You split the middle so you are most likely agnosticish with a dash of deism-curious.

  96. 96
    Elizabeth Liddle

    No, the answer does not depend on my ideology.

    We tend to find in science (and indeed in life in general) that nature doesn’t carve as neatly as the joints our categories sometimes imply. I was just attempting to probe one of those quasi-joints.

  97. junkdnaforlife: It’s true that modern techniques and increased populations make it easier to kill larger numbers of people. As a percentage of the population I suspect that the Plague is actually the grimmest reaper of all.

    And, my point was that many, many deistic regimes have killed on a mass scale (considering their times) including Christians. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Waldensian crusade which was a pure case of using doctrinal differences as an excuse to wipe out large numbers of other Christians and all sanctioned by the man who claimed to be the best interpreter of Holy Scripture. A very sad chapter indeed.

    Another way of measuring killing proficiency would be who managed the highest kill rate per unit time. I suspect the USA just might win that contest either with the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan or the firebombing of Dresden earlier that same year. Again, high technology makes it easier and less personal.

    People of faith and people of no faith have been busy killing each other for thousands of years. When they can they find some kind of justification to make it more palatable to their soldiers and their constituents. But, as the recent invasion of Iraq illustrates, even good Christians are sometimes very eager to wage war, going so far (in my opinion) as lying to their citizens to sway opinion.

  98. #93 jdfl

    More people have died by atheists in a single century than the entire 2000 year history of Christianity. Punch in the body counts of Stalin, lenin, Mao, pol pot. It is a remarkable human massacre in such a small amount of time. Amazing how an ideology that is such a small percentage of the world population can own such a large percentage of the murder.

    Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were indeed all atheists and that was part of their communist ideology.  But they did not kill people because for being religious.  They killed people for a variety of reasons – paranoia, anti-intellectualism, mistaken belief that the means justified the end, but relatively few people were killed for being theists.  The relationship between atheism and communism is like that between religion and monarchy.  Most Western monarchs for centuries believed they ruled (or at least justified their rule) because God have given them a divine right to do so and regularly called upon that divine right when going to war inflicting punishments etc.  It was an essential component of monarchy. If we ascribe the deeds of communist dictators to atheism than we should ascribe all deaths caused by all Christian monarchs for two millennia to Christianity. Both are absurd claims.

  99. 99
    Elizabeth Liddle

    *checks thread title*

    We do seem to have some consensus, at least, I think.

    We seem to agree that while various ideologies have been used as an excuse for atrocities, the ideological use to which a scientific theory is put is completely irrelevant to its validity as science

    We seem to agree that a scientific theory is supported, or infirmed, by how well it fits our data.

    And we seem to agree that sometimes, apparent disagreements over inference from facts turn out to be disagreements about what actually constitutes those facts, and that it’s worth drilling down to the fundamentals of the disagreement.

    We also, it probably goes without saying, agree that genocide and slaughters are atrocities that are not justifiable by any argument, no matter what ideology is invoke to support it.

    Does that count as progress? :)

  100. Lizzie: Is it too early for a celebratory round of drinks?

    CHEERS!!

  101. 101
    Elizabeth Liddle

    *raises coffee cup*

  102. 102

    “If we ascribe the deeds of communist dictators to atheism than we should ascribe all deaths caused by all Christian monarchs for two millennia to Christianity”

    This was the point. This can be done. In the 400 years of the Crusades, it is estimated that 1-3 million were killed. The holy roman wars, between 3 mil and 12 million. The French wars of Religion, between 2-5 million.

    These are the three biggest wars attributed to Christianity. Take the high estimate of each: Say 20 million killed.

    Mao topped this handily himself: He killed between 20-40 million people.

    Keep in mind this is 2000 years vs. 100. A single atheist in less than a decade trumped Christianity’s top three.

    What would have happened if the atheists got their way? What about Hitler, what if he won the war and successfully destroyed Christianity? How would the world be looking for the next 2000?

  103. junkdnaforlife: Are you saying that Christianity is preferable to atheism because it killed fewer people? Interesting. This arithmetic of virtue.

    Besides, are you very, very convinced that the Crusaders wouldn’t have wiped out all the Muslims given the chance? Or that Martin Luther wouldn’t have eliminated all the Jews if he had the resources?

    Some people think Sweden and Norway are very secular cultures. I don’t see them, now that the atheists are getting their way, attempting to wipe out Christians or Jews or Muslims or Sikhs or Jains or Hindus or Buddhists or Shintos or anybody really. I do see some religious groups preaching fear and loathing though. Are you saying you’d rather be ruled by the Westboro Baptist Church than atheists?

  104. Onlookers:

    I: Re Mark F:

    Now — in my own thread! — I cannot address this to MF, because he has taken up the disrespectful tactic of ignoring anything that I have to say, on the flimsiest of excuses.

    (I think it is reasonable as a matter of basic civility and reciprocity in discussion to request of you, sir, that you henceforth either change that policy of deliberately ignoring whatever I have had to say, or else refrain yourself from commenting in threads I have posted the original post for. After all, you have your own blog. [I will not more than mention the tolerance of outing behaviour and privacy violation in that blog.])

    II: On substance:

    Let’s start with the just above quip by MF:

    If we ascribe the deeds of communist dictators to atheism than we should ascribe all deaths caused by all Christian monarchs for two millennia to Christianity. Both are absurd claims.

    [NB: This commenter -- yet another case where the history we are taught is unbalanced -- is evidently unaware of the heretical nature of the notion of Divine Right of Kings, in light of the principles of the double covenant of nationhood and government under God worked out and applied by theologians across the reformation eras in direct response to such claims, and which became key parts of the foundation for modern democracy. He would do well to for instance examine the Dutch Declaration of Independence of 1581, as the first point where these principles were explicitly acknowledged in such a key state document, and to the line of thought and such state documents that followed down to the US DOI of 1776. The just above linked discusses this at 101 level, with relevant cites.]

    Notice the (fallacious) immoral equivalency inferences?

    Please look at the original post and my onward remark above, to see the issue I raised: AMORALITY, which undermines the foundation of morality, and in this case traces to the inherent nature of materialism as a worldview that has in it no is that can ground ought: if all that is is matter, energy, space time and undirected configurations thereof.

    Explanation: I am here pointing out that given the plain fact that we find ourselves morally bound, only a worldview in which oughtness is founded in the first terms of the view, can be factually adequate to reality as we experience it — even atheists and materialists feel themselves morally bound and want to justify themselves and their action by using classic quarrelling tactics.

    Quarrelling is about trying to show one’s opponent in the wrong, i.e. their actions imply what their worldview would rule out. Reductio, anyone?

    Will Hawthorne is apt:

    Assume (per impossibile) that atheistic naturalism [[= evolutionary materialism] is true. Assume, furthermore, that one can’t infer an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ [[the 'is' being in this context physicalist: matter-energy, space- time, chance and mechanical forces]. (Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.)

    Given our second assumption, there is no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer an ‘ought’. And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there’s no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action.

    Add a further uncontroversial assumption: an action is permissible if and only if it’s not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action . . . [[We see] therefore, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action. If you’d like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan ‘if atheism is true, all things are permitted’.

    For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don’t like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.

    Now, we all know that at least some actions are really not permissible (for example, racist actions). Since the conclusion of the argument denies this, there must be a problem somewhere in the argument. Could the argument be invalid? No. The argument has not violated a single rule of logic and all inferences were made explicit.

    Thus we are forced to deny the truth of one of the assumptions we started out with. That means we either deny atheistic naturalism or (the more intuitively appealing) principle that one can’t infer ‘ought’ from [[a material] ‘is’.

    Now, in trying to list the sins of Christendom, etc, something was overlooked: Christendom was a phase in our civilisation’s history where there was significant influence by the gospel. But that will not change the basic fact (evident to anyone who has had to raise children) that we are morally struggling, finite, fallible, arguably fallen and too often ill-willed. So, moral struggle writ large will be a commonplace in history; in a context where, precisely because of their ruthlessness, the inordinately power-hungry and highly machiavellian will be disproportionately present in the leading power circles of societies.

    Indeed, let us observe that Machiavelli himself was writing in a nominally Christian culture, and felt free to counsel based not on Rom 13:1 – 10, on justice as the primary duty of the ruler and neighbour love as the primary duty of the citizen, but on the counsel that “might makes right,” and the idea that it suits a ruler to SEEM tot he people to be good, but not to be actually good.

    From a specifically Christian context, such things are immediately deep and destructive heresy, but they reveal just what apostasy and moral rot too often happen in power centres among elites of a nominally Christian culture. Similarly, when Torquemada set up the Inquisition in Spain, it was leading Christians in Spain who challenged what he was doing. He was so unpopular that he had to be protected by a troop when he went about.

    And when Wilberforce found himself suddenly converted, he at first thought a Christian profession and a political vocation were at fundamental odds. This bespeaks the challenge of reformation in even nominally Christian cultures, specifically rooted in the apostate condition of all too many power elites.

    When he found his footing and stood up to denounce the injustice of the “low hanging fruit,” the kidnapping based slave trade [in the OT, such are under sentence of death, and in the NT, such are deemed to be in apostasy, by explicit texts] there was no answer to the moral challenge, but the apostate power interests hung on to their sinful means of wealth for years on end. Indeed, WILBERFORCE — AS THE MONUMENT ON HIS TOMB CONFESSES — WAS SUBJECTED TO THE MOST VICIOUS PERSONAL ATTACKS, TO TRY TO GET HIM TO SHUT UP, AS A HYPOCRITE. (Sounds familiar?)

    What led to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire? the Wesley-Whitefield revival, which created a critical mass of people whose hearts were strangely warmed and softened by the Spirit of God, and whose convictions were increasingly shaped by the scriptures, leading them to see that slavery was wrong. And, the crisis was that when the Baptist war sit down strike for pay in Jamaica that turned into a full uprising in the face of vicious suppression, the Colonial Church Union [!!!] set out to burn down the dissenter chapels attended by slaves. When the official report of this reached the UK and backed up the reports by Knibb, a Missionary whom the colonial authorities had unsuccessfully tried to hang as an instigator [the slaves' testimony saved him], there was no answer.

    And that, at a time when there was political turmoil in England, with the Dissenter-heavy regions at the heart of it.

    Knibb had started from his Missionary convention in the UK, and had sworn to walk the length and breadth of England with his wife and family to let the Christian people of England know what their BRETHREN (the slaves) in Jamaica were suffering.

    In the face of the political instability and the issue that England was back to the issues of freedom of conscience that had sparked the reformation struggles, the power elites threw the West India planter-Merchant interests overboard to save themselves.

    So, we see plainly that the consistent problem is not whether a civilisation is nominally Christian or atheistical — the Polish army under Communism had to have chaplains, and gave to the world the pope John Paul II, The Great. (And I say this last as a convinced protestant.)

    No, it has to do with exactly what Plato targetted with unerring precision: the shaping forces of the elite youths who become its rulers and influencers of rulers.

    Hypocrisy and apostasy after all are long since in Machiavelli’s rule book for princes.

    A hypocrisy that is often tempered and held in check in a democratic polity by a healthy fear of the consequences of crossing the moral sensibilities of the common folk, who cling to God and their sense of right and wrong.

    So, please, let us have done with this nonsense about trying to pin immoral equivalence on Christian regimes as with atheistical ones, which have racked up something like 100 – 200 million victims of democide in the past 100 years that the name of science has been seized as a banner to promote atheism in the community at large.

    (And BTW, of the three worst slaughters that are traceable to amoral influences, two were mostly by that very low tech, old fashioned method, hunger: USSR under Stalin, and China. It was the Nazis who have the distinction of technological innovation in the arts of mass murder. The French revolution’s sinking loaded barges in the Loire was not efficient enough for them. They even improved the guillotine, which they used to put a similar number to death as in the French Revolution. It turns out the French did not need so high a fall for a 40 lb trapezoidal blade to do its fell work.]

    So, for the sake of our civilisation, let us listen to Plato again:

    [The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .
    [T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny.)] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . . [Jowett translation. Cf OP for links and emphases]

    Amorality as a dominant view among elites is dangerous. So, let us make sure to expose and correct anything that trends in that direction.

    And that puts evolutionary materialism promoted in the name of science and science education right in the intersection of our cross-hairs.

    GEM of TKI

  105. EZ and JDFL:

    I think this side issue is beginning to slide down the road into incivility, and I ask that the matter be rounded off.

    I will note to you EZ, that Westbro Baptist church is not at all representative of the Christian faith, or the rich history of its contribution to government and community upliftment. I am sick and tired of the tendency to try to smear the Christian faith and church at large with the misdeeds of sects on the fringe. And, when there have been eras where the church has gone adrift, this has ever been rebuked from within.

    For instance Las Casas, who denounced Spain for what it was doing in the New World, was the FIRST man ordained a priest in the New World.

    GEM of TKI

  106. KF: Very nicely done!! I agree with you . . . . well, except for the last line but we knew that!! But a very, very nice posting. I shall cease and desist immediately.

    I don’t find materialism at odds with morality, as you would expect, but we can discuss that if you wish.

    Do you live near me? I’d love to buy you a drink sometime.

  107. KF: I agree, I get tired of atheists being smeared and bedevilled because of a few sick individuals.

    I KNOW Westboro is atypical. I have lots and lots of good Christian friends who think they’re loony tunes. I’m sorry if in trying to make my point I overstepped a line.

    Anyway, ’nuff said.

  108. EZ:

    Pardon, but the problem is amorality, and here too, the implications of evolutionary materialism.

    Going back to the context in which it came up, such amorality is connected to a key moral hazard of Darwinist thought [as we saw fr Ch 6 of Descent], and needs to be dealt with. You will recall that I call for introduction of an ethical unit in science education.

    I am aware that there are those who try to redefine morality to make it fit within the evolutionary materialist frame, but they end up in the same position of those who try to redefine the closely connected sense that we are self-moved, morally accountable, responsible, deciding creatures: the resulting redefinition is not the real thing.

    If you have a way to derive OUGHT from the ises of evolutionary materialism, I would indeed like to see it.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Unless you live in Montserrat, we are not in the same locale!

    PPS: Atheists too have an in-built sense of right and wrong (which was pivotal to my argument above) — and guess Where it comes from and Who it points to. For most that suffices to move towards relatively civil conduct. The problem is amorality especially when it is tied to effectively unaccountable power. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, as Lord Acton noted.

  109. KF: Montserrat, the Caribbean Island . . . I’ve always wondered where you were. No wonder you know about cricket!! You had some mighty fine players.

    I agree, it’s about morality. I’m just not as worried as you that materialism is a hazard.

    I’ve got no way to derive OUGHT from materialism as well you know!! But I never thought I had too. I’ve just let myself be guided by my own sense of what’s right and wrong. I know, I know . . . where did that come from?? To be honest, I haven’t a clue. I think I was lucky to be raised in a loving and caring family (well, mostly) and so I suspect some of it was just learned.

    I won’t put words in your mouth but I’m imagining that if I appeal to the inner guidance in everyone then we’ll get into the “what about serial killers?” etc. And I haven’t got a good answer for that. If I said they should all be locked up and the key thrown away then you could say: AH, but in a materialistic world are they really responsible for their own actions? And I’d say . . . whatever, they need to be locked up because they pose a threat to everyone else.

    So NO, I haven’t got a standard for morality or behaviour. Except the Golden Rule. And that’s been around for a very, very long time. I think it’s even in Zoroastrian teachings. And where did that come from? I think it just makes sense. Does arguing about where it comes from make any more sense than arguing about whether materialism is a moral hazard? Does ascribing an origination change anything? I don’t think so. We all ‘get’ the Golden Rule. And everyone needs to be shown, when young, what it means. And if someone as an adult still doesn’t get it then they need to be put away where they won’t hurt others until they learn to live by it.

    Now you KNOW I never studied philosophy or theology. :-) My arguments are too simplistic and weak.

  110. EZ:

    Well, we won’t be bending an elbow down by my Bro in law Moose’s The Bitter End. My preference is for Ting, BTW, or D & G Ginger Beer. Gotta support the native country! (My wife is the Montserratian in the family. We met in Barbados, which is where my family was based for 20+ years. Parents are back in St Elizabeth, Ja now.)

    Now, I actually find your remarks above refreshingly honest and open.

    You are right: normal people have a sense of right and wrong, and they find some version of the Golden Rule [or its diminished version the Silver Rule: do not harm if you would not be harmed] compelling.

    If you work through the discussion on Government under God linked earlier, you will come to the pivotal point in Locke’s argument, where in Ch 2 S 5 of his 2nd essay on civil govt, he cites “the judicious” C16- 17 Canon Richard Hooker thusly:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant.

    As I then discuss: “In short, the key law of nature in view is that once we recognise the fundamental equality of others, we have a mutual duty of respect and fairness, i.e. loving one’s neighbour as one loves oneself [the Golden Rule]. In this general context, then — that is an argument in the explicitly Christian and Biblically based framework of creation and mutual obligation — Locke infers that . . .”

    The state of Nature has a law of Nature to govern it, which obliges every one, and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions . . . . so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he as much as he can to preserve the rest of mankind, and not unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another . . . . In transgressing the law of Nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equity, which is that measure God has set to the actions of men for their mutual security [i.e. we see here the right to self-defense for the community, and also the individual, as is discussed at length in the work], and so he becomes dangerous to mankind . . . . [Ch III, S 17] he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power [i.e. to tyrannise upon another, by force, fraud, usurpation or invasion] does thereby put himself into a state of war with him; it being to be understood as a declaration of a design upon his life. For I have reason to conclude that he who would get me into his power without my consent would use me as he pleased when he had got me there, and destroy me too when he had a fancy to it.

    All of this pivots critically on our being self-moved, morally governed creatures. Thence, it points to the premise that we are made in the image of God. Indeed, digging in deeper, here is Paul in what then candidate Obama incorrectly dismissed as an “obscure epistle,” Romans — the cornerstone of NT theology:

    Rom 2: 6 He [God] will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking1 and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury . . . . 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus . . . .

    Rom 13: 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. [ESV]

    In short, God writes core morality in our hearts by the ink of the conscience, in light of our perception that we are equally creatures under God and so we should render to each the due respect we desire for ourselves. And, in the face of moral struggle, we should penitently persist in the path of the good by the light we have, being ever so vigilant to walk by the light of the truth we know or should know.

    (Of course, one of the things we should know is the implications of our inescapable sense of moral obligation and of moral struggle in light of our sense of truth.)

    So, much pivots on the issue of OUGHTNESS.

    GEM of TKI

  111. KF: Cool runnings mon! As there are a lot of ex-Caribbeanians . . . Caribbeaners? in the UK I’m imagining how you sound when you speak as I read your prose.

    It must have been terrifying in the 90s when whole areas of the island were being buried under lava and ash. Now I understand the comment about volcanoes you made a couple of days ago. I’ve been to Plymouth, England and was born in Plymouth, Wisconsin but it looks like I’ll never get to see your Plymouth as it was. And then to lose so much of the population . . . tough times.

    I’m going to leave discussions of the source of morality to you. When I was a believer I know I would have found the notion of it being written in our hearts by the ink of the conscience to be beautiful and true.

    “And, in the face of moral struggle, we should penitently persist in the path of the good by the light we have, being ever so vigilant to walk by the light of the truth we know or should know.”

    I so strive every day. In my half-blind and limited way. Not knowing what’s at the end of the tunnel . . .

  112. EZ:

    Montserrat was indeed devastated by a prolonged volcanic eruption, one that is not over to this day. Plymouth is gone, buried under upwards of 40 ft of ash and rocks in places.

    Salem may well be next, if ol smoky raids Mrs Dyer-Howe’s Volcano Rum stocks again.

    2/3 of land and original population are gone, mostly to the UK. Right now I am working with clients to try to help see if we can rebuild a base for redevelopment in the 1/3 that is left.

    Oddly, the best hope lies in exactly the same mountain: if we can tap into Geo-Thermal streams maybe 1,000 ft down, under the Delvins-Cork Hill area, we may be able to move to renewable energy electricity, and second use steam for low temperature heat processes like cooking autoclaved aerated concrete building elements, which can use some of the deposited sand as an ingredient. Mix in a new town to be built in Little Bay. Add some small business incubation and a web mall. Try for some GT electricity server farms. Get the seaport to be at the level of having a breakwater and a facility to hold small cruise ships, and see if we can get the temporary air strip improved. Try out drip irrigation hydroponics, and maybe brackish water fish farming. Also, look at Bamboo sustainable forestry products.

    And so on.

    The new Governor, a development economist fresh out of DfID rural China (and married to a Chinese lady), is talking the talk. Let’s see if we can now all walk the walk, together.

    As to your own situation, I do not know details of your life story, but perhaps here is a place to start looking at worldviews. Then, you may want to look here.

    Back to clients

    GEM of TKI

  113. #102 jdfl

    #102 jdfl

    “If we ascribe the deeds of communist dictators to atheism than we should ascribe all deaths caused by all Christian monarchs for two millennia to Christianity”

    This was the point. This can be done. In the 400 years of the Crusades, it is estimated that 1-3 million were killed. The holy roman wars, between 3 mil and 12 million. The French wars of Religion, between 2-5 million.

    Those are just the religious wars.  My point was that we should include all deaths caused by Christian monarchs for any reason whatsoever.  Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot did not kill (many) people because of their religion and the majority of people they killed were not killed in wars.

    I should add that I don’t see the relevance of counting these numbers.  After all there was no way a Christian monarch in 13th Century could kill 30 million.  That would have been virtually the entire population of Europe! 

  114. KF: “Salem may well be next, if ol smoky raids Mrs Dyer-Howe’s Volcano Rum stocks again.”

    :-)

    I’m pleased to hear you’ve got lots of good ideas that you can try. And hopefully keep out the Brits eh? Is the Queen’s head still on your money and stamps? I hear you’re British citizens now, I think that means you should be helping us win some Olympic medals next year!!

    Have you thought about declaring war on the Yanks? They’d be sure to invade and bring lots of money and infrastructure with them.

  115. EZ:

    Long stories.

    GEM of TKI

  116. Mr MARK F:

    Pardon, but I must draw what I posted at 104 to your attention:

    I: Re Mark F:

    Now — in my own thread! — I cannot address this to MF, because he has taken up the disrespectful tactic of ignoring anything that I have to say, on the flimsiest of excuses.

    (I think it is reasonable as a matter of basic civility and reciprocity in discussion to request of you, sir, that you henceforth either change that policy of deliberately ignoring whatever I have had to say, or else refrain yourself from commenting in threads I have posted the original post for. After all, you have your own blog. [I will not more than mention the tolerance of outing behaviour and privacy violation in that blog.])

    If you cannot abide by reasonable standards, your behaviour will simply disrupt the thread, to no good end.

    GEM of TKI

  117. #116 KF

    I am sorry. I was not aware it was your OP and I didn’t read your comment. I simply spotted JDFL’s comment as it came up in the top right corner of UD. I have created an entry on my own blog in the off change anyone wants to continue that debate.

    I should add that I do not intend disrespect by not getting involved with discussions with you. I just find most of your posts very hard to read and I know I would be unable to sustain any resulting discussion (even if the initial post is easy to read).

  118. If you cannot abide by reasonable standards, your behaviour will simply disrupt the thread, to no good end.

    Sorry, have I missed something? I see four posts by MF, each addressed to a specific commentator and politely written. I don’t see any point on this thread where he ignores comments made to him by you apart from the personal attack you make in the thread above, repeated from 104.

    If anything MF appears to be simply turning the other cheek by not engaging in arguments against his person, or reacting to your anger about what people other than him have done elsewhere.

    The best way to foster civil, poison free debate is to ignore incivility, avoid drinking the poison, and exercise forgiveness of those who are unable to live up to your own standards.

    Correct me if I’m wrong though, won’t you!

  119. Dr BOT:

    Pardon, you are not seeing the context of those posts.

    Pardon further, I do not wish to get into much on that; I will just note that privacy has been violated through attempted outing tactics (and some have attempted to justify such intimidatory behaviour), and on spinoffs, grave false accusations have been made. (False accusations of a nature that where I come from, they could easily cost a man his life.)

    I will say, however, that the “ignore it” strategy does not work so well when you are up against Alinsky’s tactics. Your silence allows such to frame the discussion and perceptions without an effective counter. He who frames the terms on which a discussion is engaged, especially in a context where what is being done is calculated to poison the well and the atmosphere, too, will win.

    If we do not confront the pollution source, the atmosphere will simply get worse and worse.

    Indeed, that is the why of this thread.

    GEM of TKI

  120. Mr Mark F:

    I appreciate that you have actually made a responsive remark.

    You are welcome to continue in a responsive fashion.

    GEM of TKI

  121. PS: Mr Mark F, I suggest you will find my remarks at 104 relevant.

  122. Elizabeth Liddle @94:

    And what I am arguing is that CTA “codes” for leucine in the same manner as the piece of moveable type “codes” for the printed letter “B”, not as in the way the symbol “B” (usually) codes for the plosive voiced fricative sound “buh”.

    Why do you think that’s even a valid analogy?

    Not all languages are alphabetical. You probably know that.

    And I’m not sure that what you are talking about even qualifies as a code. I’ll have to think more. Didn’t kf post a definition somewhere?

    I thought my machine code example was right on target.

    By the way, say your want to encrypt something. What are the chances of your code being broken if we follow your line of reasoning?

  123. Why is the debate over design theory so often so poisonous and polarised?

    Sure, blame it on Hitler . He’s dead, and not here to defend himself.

  124. Elizabeth @94:

    But I submit that at the level of the codon, the system has so few “options” that “arbitrary” (literally “concerning judgement”) is not a useful description.

    Sorry that this got spread over two posts.

    What options does the CPU have in my computer analogy? I’d say none. Yet we still call it machine code, and for good reason. Are you saying the machine code isn’t arbitrary because the CPU has no choice in it’s execution of the code?

    Or are you arguing that what we have in the cell is not actually a code? IOW, there is no “genetic code.”

  125. ellazimm:

    junkdnaforlife: Are you saying that Christianity is preferable to atheism because it killed fewer people? Interesting. This arithmetic of virtue.

    This is just nasty. He wasn’t saying any such thing and you know it.

    Are you saying you’d rather be ruled by the Westboro Baptist Church than atheists?

    I’d take the Westboro nuts over atheists any day.

    What are there, like 8 of them?

    I think we could safely ignore any edict they might issue without fear of reprisal.

  126. 126
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung:

    I think what we have in the cell is only a “code” by certain definitions. There is, I was trying to suggest, a nearly-clean cleavage line between codes that involve arbitrary pairings between signifier and signified (as between graphemes and phonemes in an alphabetic system) and what I might call “codes” in which the “signified” is directly related to the properties of the “signifier”. That was the point I was trying to make when I talked about the moveable type “coding” for the printed letter B as opposed to the printed letter B coding (no scarequotes) for the phoneme “buh”.

    I’m not quite sure why you don’t think that’s a valid “analogy” – although it wasn’t, strictly, meant as an analogy, but as an examplar of two kinds of “code” at the fairly extreme ends of the arbitrariness spectrum.

    And my position is that the way that CTA “codes” for leucine is much closer to the moveable-type-codes-for-the-letter-B end of the spectrum than the letter-B-codes-for-the-phoneme-”buh” end of the spectrum.

    And the reason I hold to that is that from my (admittedly non-expert) understanding of biochemistry, CTA (or rather CUA) “codes” for leucine because the stereochemistry of the CUA base sequence “stamps out” leucine, not, say, thionine.

    Not because there is a codebook somewhere that says that CUA “means” leucine.

    Now you may not agree that I have carved nature at the right joint here, but can you see the argument I am making?

    As for encryption – I’m not sure what your question is, exactly, but I suggest that it is way easier to decode a code in which the signified is indicated (as in “index”!) by the morphology of the signified (as in hieroglyphic systems) than codes in which the pairing of signifier and signified is arbitrary, and requires a lookup table or a key.

    Does that help? To clarify what I am trying to say, if not persuade?

  127. EL:

    The point about machine code is that it is at the level of the actual register units of a machine, and addresses the messy details of making a machine carry out instructions.

    So, code elements physically interface, and there is a closeness to hardware that is not engaged in higher level languages.

    I get the feeling you are hung up on the point that there is a physical, key-lock interface used, more like a digitalised cam than the more abstract states of electronic registers.

    But in fact the organisation of the system is still implementing a code. The states do not vary smoothly, so it is discrete state, or digital. The tRNA’s key lock fit and do so for one of 64 possible combinations, conveying the appropriate AA’s on opposite ends of the molecule as folded. That correlation is plainly not a forced outcome by natural law: there is no physical reason why when an anticodon is at the required point in the chain, the folded tRNA will necessarily support the particular AA. For, remember the chaining of tRNA is also contingent. And, there are varieties of tRNA to support 20 or so AA’s and a diversity of codons.

    Observe Wiki on tRNA:

    Transfer RNA (tRNA) is an adaptor molecule composed of RNA, typically 73 to 93 nucleotides in length, that is used in biology to bridge the four-letter genetic code in messenger RNA (mRNA) with the twenty-letter code of amino acids in proteins [1]. The role of tRNA as an adaptor is best understood by considering its three-dimensional structure. One end of the tRNA carries the genetic code in a three-nucleotide sequence called the anticodon. The anticodon forms three base pairs with a codon in mRNA during protein biosynthesis. The mRNA encodes a protein as a series of contiguous codons, each of which is recognized by a particular tRNA. On the other end of its three-dimensional structure, each tRNA is covalently attached to the amino acid that corresponds to the anticodon sequence. This covalent attachment to the tRNA 3’ end is catalyzed by enzymes called aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. Each type of tRNA molecule can be attached to only one type of amino acid, but because the genetic code contains multiple codons that specify the same amino acid, tRNA molecules bearing different anticodons may also carry the same amino acid.

    During protein synthesis, tRNAs are delivered to the ribosome by proteins called elongation factors (EF-Tu in bacteria, eEF-1 in eukaryotes), which aid in decoding the mRNA codon sequence. Once delivered, a tRNA already bound to the ribosome transfers the growing polypeptide chain from its 3’ end to the amino acid attached to the 3’ end of the newly-delivered tRNA, a reaction catalyzed by the ribosome.

    Observe the way in which the algorithmic step by step process is aided along by helper molecules, and how we have a many tRNA to one AA pattern (related to the redundancies in a 64 state code matching to a 20 state one, with some other codes being sued for “stop.”

    GEM of TKI

  128. 128
    Elizabeth Liddle

    We have a lot of common ground here, kairosfocus (and, btw, I am still musing on your other OP – I haven’t forgotten! I won’t do it justice, but at least I want to do my best, and I was up very late last night with a deadline).

    However, I guess I’m not seeing your point – or rather, I’m reading your post, and the wiki extract, and seeing it support mine!

    But I’m more than prepared to entertain the possibility that I’m missing your point (and presumably you think I am).

    So let me take one sentence from your post. You say:

    That correlation is plainly not a forced outcome by natural law: there is no physical reason why when an anticodon is at the required point in the chain, the folded tRNA will necessarily support the particular AA.

    In what sense is the correlation “plainly not a forced outcome by natural law”? By what means are you suggesting that “when an anticodon is at the required point in the chain, the folded tRNA will necessarily support the particular AA” if not “forced…by natural law”? I do accept that the natural law in question may be a contingent one, but lots of natural laws are subject to contingencies.

    This is not a rhetorical or trick question, btw – I am delighted to have reached what seems to be the ground floor of an argument that is often conducted from different floors in different buildings simultaneously”

  129. Dr Liddle:

    I have just a moment.

    The tRNA chain is based on a backbone that is independent of whether you have G/C/A/U in any position. The folded tRNA of course has the anticodon in a given position as three sequential bases, but that has nothing to do necessarily with what else is in the 70 – 90 bases in the chain.

    The chain is however — informationally! — sequenced so that for a given anticodon triplet, the rest of the tRNA as folded will lock to the “RIGHT” aa. Worse, for some AAs there are up to was it five or six anticodon triplets that are set up to fold to lock to the SAME AA.

    That is an informational configuration [much like the one for proteins to fold and function], not a matter of a sequence forced by natural law. There is no law that forces tRNA bases into a particular sequence.

    There is an informed sequencing, not the equivalent of crystallisation.

    GEM of TKI

  130. 130
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Thanks, kairosfocus.

    Well, I agree it is “informational” but then I think that contingencies ARE “informational”. I don’t think that makes them not “physical”, nor, more to the point, do I think that means that they have to have been “intelligently” coded in.

    I simply don’t think that the source of the information in the genome (and I agree there is information in the genome) is a great mystery.

    More tomorrow!

  131. 131

    …my (admittedly non-expert) understanding of biochemistry, CTA (or rather CUA) “codes” for leucine because the stereochemistry of the CUA base sequence “stamps out” leucine…

    Dr Liddle, like before, you may want to revisit this assumption. A stereochemical basis for the genetic codes is riddled with intractable issues, and always has been. In fact, that is one of its more enduring problems; one scenario seems to provide evidence for something resembling affinities in one instance, but not for others, while another scenario provides some evidence here, but not there. The next competing model suggests an entirely different direction, and on and on the speculation goes. That someone could flatly suggest that stereochemistry has provided the answer, or an answer, or even a sufficient answer, is simply overstating the research by several orders of magnitude.

    Take the time to open-mindly read the work of perhaps, Yarus and Knight on the current summary of the evidence. You will find deep issues of inconsistency, which they themselves highlight. Further, their own models are forced to make grand assumptions about the distant past which are beyond replication, and they openly acknowledge the observed indirect nature of modern translation.

    I am not knocking their work, or that of their intellectual competitors. To the contrary I am suggesting it as central reading material – but with an open mind. Let it reveal what is actually known. And also, let it highlight what is simply speculation, and what is speculation based upon assumption.

    I would suggest that what you will find is enlightening to an open mind. It is the working end result of a prior assumption that the code simply cannot be the result of agency input. In other words, knowing full well that a mind is the only verifiable source of an encoded abstraction, their work represents the pinnacle of an intellectual effort to produce an explanation – without that mind.

  132. markf @86:

    Isn’t the key difference that the machine code was chosen by the designers to do the job? There are a number of other choices they might have made, and they would have had to create a different context so the machine code had the desired effect. You presumably believe that the DNA – Amino Acid relationship was also chosen – but others believe the relationship and the context developed without design. So, unless you assume your premise, DNA is not arbitrary in the same sense as machine code.

    If only I were assuming the premise.

    But alas.

    You critics no doubt also believe the genetic code was chosen, you just don’t think it was chosen by an intelligent agent.

    Question:

    Why the genetic code that we have, and not some other genetic code?

    One possible answer is that it’s because this is the only possible genetic code.

    But that smacks of ID as well.

    What’s a critic to do?

    Arbitrary:

    Based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

    You don’t believe the genetic code is arbitrary?

    Consider also whether the genetic code can be and has been analyzed mathematically.

  133. Dr Liddle:

    Perhaps this animation will help clarify. Notice the way tRNA folds up its polymer string to give the position-arm device that carries the AA.

    (This one will help see how it is charged up. Notice how the common CCA tail “charging” end — in effect a universal connector-socket for tRNAs — bonds to the COOH end of the AA [AA's have a COOH end and a NH2 end], and the particular AA loaded is based on a key-lock fit to the charging enzyme, the relevant aminoacyl tRNA synthetase. The charged tRNA then adds the AA to the elongating protein based on key-lock fit to the codon triplet.)

    We can see the way information controls the actual step by step processing that makes a protein.

    GEM of TKI

  134. F/N: Perhaps I should show the number of ways information rather than chemistry is controlling what is going on:

    1 –> DNA (and RNA) chains on a standard sugar-phosphate coupling, the 3 – 5 coupling, and chaining any to any. Wiki, testifying against interest, on DNA:

    “The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information. DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints, like a recipe or a code, since it contains the instructions needed to construct other components of cells, such as proteins and RNA molecules. The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in regulating the use of this genetic information . . . . DNA consists of . . . polymers of simple units called nucleotides, with backbones made of sugars and phosphate groups joined by ester bonds . . . Attached to each sugar is one of four types of molecules called nucleobases (informally, bases). It is the sequence of these four nucleobases along the backbone that encodes information. This information is read using the genetic code, which specifies the sequence of the amino acids within proteins. The code is read by copying stretches of DNA into the related nucleic acid RNA, in a process called transcription.”

    2 –> And, on Chaining:

    The sugars and phosphates in nucleic acids are connected to each other in an alternating chain (sugar-phosphate backbone) through phosphodiester linkages.[10] In conventional nomenclature, the carbons to which the phosphate groups attach are the 3′-end and the 5′-end carbons of the sugar. This gives nucleic acids directionality, and the ends of nucleic acid molecules are referred to as 5′-end and 3′-end. The nucleobases are joined to the sugars via an N-glycosidic linkage involving a nucleobase ring nitrogen (N-1 for pyrimidines and N-9 for purines) and the 1′ carbon of the pentose sugar ring.

    3 –> RNA is similar:

    Like DNA, RNA is made up of a long chain of components called nucleotides. Each nucleotide consists of a nucleobase (sometimes called a nitrogenous base), a ribose sugar, and a phosphate group. The sequence of nucleotides allows RNA to encode genetic information. For example, some viruses use RNA instead of DNA as their genetic material, and all organisms use messenger RNA (mRNA) to carry the genetic information that directs the synthesis of proteins . . . . The chemical structure of RNA is very similar to that of DNA, with two differences – (a) RNA contains the sugar ribose while DNA contains the slightly different sugar deoxyribose (a type of ribose that lacks one oxygen atom), and (b) RNA has the nucleobase uracil while DNA contains thymine (uracil and thymine have similar base-pairing properties).

    Unlike DNA, most RNA molecules are single-stranded. Single-stranded RNA molecules adopt very complex three-dimensional structures, since they are not restricted to the repetitive double-helical form of double-stranded DNA. RNA is made within living cells by RNA polymerases, enzymes that act to copy a DNA or RNA template into a new RNA strand through processes known as transcription or RNA replication, respectively.

    4 –> Proteins, of course, chain amino acids, which have a standard structure: H2N – CHR – COOH (where R is the side-branch functional group), and they are chained by the peptide bond, again the acids may chain any to any.

    5 –> In the case of tRNA, at the 3′ end, there is a CCA “universal coupler” that ties to the COOH of the AA. The correct AA is transferred by a key-lock fitted enzyme, but the coupling itself is standard (and implies that he amine end is the one that clicks on to the elongating AA chain).

    6 –> At each stage we see that we are dealing with standard couplers and chains, so that there s a maximum flexibility. Itis information imposed on the chemistry and expressed in key-lock shape patterns that controls the functional roles.

    7 –> DNA stores the genetic info in codes (a code, BTW, which is optimised for robustness against likely single point variations in AAs) based on a 64 state triple base system that translates to AAs and to start/stop procedures, elongation being an implied instruction once the new codon is in the chain.

    8 –> MRNA, ribosomes and tRNA, with support enzymes etc, are the keys to the protein assembly process. mRNA is transcribed (and may be edited) based on DNA, and is communicated tot he ribosome, where it is used as a step by step discrete state controller.

    9 –> As a rule AUG is the first codon, implying both start and load methionine. tRNAs loaded with the AAs then add in sequence, per the codon control.

    10 –> The standard CCA -COOH coupler would mean that the chemistry of the bond to the AA does not control which AA is loaded. That is done by the corresponding aminoacyl tRNA synthetase (an enzyme that fits the tRNA and transfers the right AA based on the specific tertiary config, i.e. the tertiary bent arm folded form of the nucleic acid chain).

    11 –> The tertiary functional form results from folding the chain into a cloverleaf secondary form, then further folding into the L-arm.

    12 –> The anticodon is at one end, and the coupled AA at the other,so, again this is informationally controlled, not physically controlled.

    13 –> The correct tRNA, with its elongation support molecule, loads to the next available codon, with key-lock fitting based on codon-anticodon complementarity, controlling the match.

    14 –> This is a digital code control point.

    _________

    In short, we can see how the protein assembly process is informationally controlled based on the code in the DNA. To function, the protein is folded and sent to the use site, based on further information (often coded into an end of the AA chain).

    Protein assembly is in effect carried out through an automated nanofactory based on discrete state asynchronous control.

    GEM of TKI

  135. Mung:

    “Why the genetic code that we have, and not some other genetic code?

    One possible answer is that it’s because this is the only possible genetic code.”

    From Wikipedia:

    “Despite the minor variations that exist, the genetic code used by all known forms of life is nearly universal. However, there are a huge number of possible genetic codes. If amino acids are randomly associated with triplet codons, there will be 1.5 x 10^84 possible genetic codes.
    Phylogenetic analysis of transfer RNA suggests that tRNA molecules evolved before the present set of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases.

    Theoretically, the genetic code could be completely random (a “frozen accident”), completely non-random (optimal) or a combination of random and nonrandom. There are enough data to refute the first possibility. For a start, a quick view on the table of the genetic code shows a clustering of amino acid assignments. Furthermore, amino acids that share the same biosynthetic pathway tend to have the same first base in their codons, and amino acids with similar physical properties tend to have similar codons.”

    The article goes on to discuss various arguments/themes in the discussion of the origination of the genetic code.

  136. Mung #132

    You critics no doubt also believe the genetic code was chosen, you just don’t think it was chosen by an intelligent agent.

    I don’t understand this.  To me “choose” entails an intelligent agent i.e. someone to do the choosing, and I don’t think the genetic code was chosen.

    Why the genetic code that we have, and not some other genetic code?

    I don’t know why this particular genetic code. That is a question for evolutionary biologists and, as far as I know, they haven’t come up with the answer yet.

    One possible answer is that it’s because this is the only possible genetic code.

    “possible” is a modal word – there are different kinds of possibility depending on the context.  This is a trap that comes up with amazing frequency in these debates.

    But that smacks of ID as well.

    I don’t see anything particularly ID about saying something is the only possible outcome (whatever kind of possibility we are talking about).  Is every occurrence of something that is the only possible outcome to count as evidence for ID?

    Arbitrary:

    Based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

    You don’t believe the genetic code is arbitrary?

    No – precisely because I don’t think there is any choice or personal whim involved.

    Consider also whether the genetic code can be and has been analyzed mathematically.

    Analyzed mathematically to what end?

  137. F/N: That there are indeed dialects of the genetic code (and the shift from DNA to RNA forms is the first such!), with variant forms and even ways to stick in extra amino acids beyond the usual twenty, tells us that the code is not driven by laws of mechanical necessity.

    That should have been evident, from the high contingency involved in a code; after all, a linguistic entity. (And yes, I am saying that language plainly was antecedent to C-chemistry, cell based life as we observe it on earth.)

    There are two and only two known causes of highly contingent outcomes: chance contingency or choice contingency.

    We have here a code of symbols and rules, with dialects, universal connectors and sockets and various clever tricks (like the wobble base pairing in the anticodon). It is used in an algorithmic context to control the automated assembly line production of proteins — proteins which are BTW also intimately involved in the operation of the factory (making for a chicken-egg situation).

    That brings us right back to the key issue: what is the empirically known, best supported cause of codes, algorithms and assembly lines? [ANS: Obvious, intelligence.]

    Is there any direct observational evidence of such things coming to be (including the chicken-egg causal loop we just identified) by chance contingency? [ANS: No, and we know on thermodynamic reasoning [config spaces], that such functionally specific, complex, organised and information rich systems will be maximally isolated in configuration space.]

    These questions point, strongly to the most credible causal explanation, to the point of obviousness. Obviousness, save to those who are so committed to a priori materialism (or are fellow travellers) that Lewontin’s observation applies:

    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.

    I dare to say: this is mind-closing ideology, not science. At least if science is to be understood as having the integrity of being committed to an open-minded observational evidence-led assessment of possibilities, towards learning and warranting the truth about our cosmos, including its origins.

    Perhaps it is time we all paused and looked at this video.

    GEM of TKI

  138. F/N 2: “Arbitrary” is not the best word choice for speaking of the rules for using symbols in a code; even though arbitrary is indeed used fairly commonly in engineering etc to speak of values set by decision, not constrained by materials and forces of nature.

    I believe a better term is “conventional,” as in “Conforming to established practice or accepted standards” [AmHD].

  139. 139

    “Conventional”

    The first time I can remember hearing that word used to describe the genetic code was in the book The Design Matrix by Mike Gene.

    I was intrigued by the use of the word, so I contacted Mr Gene and asked him to expand and clarify his use of the word in context.

    Thanks for reminding me KF.

  140. markf:

    I don’t understand this. To me “choose” entails an intelligent agent i.e. someone to do the choosing, and I don’t think the genetic code was chosen.

    But to select something doesn’t entail an intelligent agent?

    So either nature is an intelligent agent or the term natural selection is any oxymoron. correct?

    You critics no doubt also believe the genetic code was selected, you just don’t think it was selected by an intelligent agent.

    All better now?

  141. I don’t see anything particularly ID about saying something is the only possible outcome…

    Sigh.

    Nothing remarkable at all about nature just by chance stumbling upon the only possible genetic code.

    And you don’t see why something like that smacks of ID. OK.

  142. #140 and #141 Mung

    “You critics no doubt also believe the genetic code was selected, you just don’t think it was selected by an intelligent agent.”

    OK. I will go with that.

    “Nothing remarkable at all about nature just by chance stumbling upon the only possible genetic code.

    And you don’t see why something like that smacks of ID. OK.”

    I think this turns on what we mean by “possible”. I thought you meant the only code that could possibly be created. I guess you mean the only one (of many possible codes) that could sustain life?

  143. Analyzed mathematically to what end?

    Science. Knowledge. Understanding.

    If it can be anlayzed and described mathematically, perhaps that will tell us wqhether it’s a code and in what sense it’s a code and what sort of code it may be.

    We might even be able to compare it to other codes or other possible codes.

  144. #143 Mung

    What I meant was you can’t just “analyze” something mathematically. How do you analyze a rabbit mathematically! You need a question you are trying to answer which you can then model mathematically. e.g. how does the population of rabbits change over time, or how does the weight of rabbits vary with age?

  145. Mung: I’m with markf . .

    “If it can be anlayzed and described mathematically, perhaps that will tell us whether it’s a code and in what sense it’s a code and what sort of code it may be.”

    We know how the three-base codons are translated into amino acids or read as stop and start, etc; that’s the code! And combinations of amino acids make proteins which we also know.

    What’s really interesting and not clear is why certain genes are or are not expressed at various times. For example: how the the same genome in most cells in a human’s body know when to make a muscle cell or a bone cells or a neuron? It must have to do with the chemical balance in the cell at the time.

    So it’s a code whose expression is affected by the surrounding chemistry and . . . .

    Have you heard about the experiments going on for growing new hearts? Fascinating. Take a heart, get rid of all the cells but leave the cartilage like stuff that holds it together (I’m using all the wrong words, my apologies), seed the framework with a stem cell from the person who needs a new heart and one grows onto the framework!! They’ll be tons and tons of problems of course but how cool is that? AND how does the stem cell know to make muscles when it’s not even in the body????? Fascinating.

  146. INTERVENTION:

    Pardon, but this thread is now beginning to drift way off topic.

    I suggest that much of the discussion today should be continued in other threads, if the discussion above cannot be tied into the thread’s theme by participants.

    GEM of TKI

  147. KF: Okay! I’m certainly guilty. I just respond to questions and pose new ones without considering the thread.

    Sorry, sorry, sorry.

  148. I responded to some further remarks in another thread on “outing tactics” here.

  149. F/N: Re Dr BOT at 9,

    Kindly cf. my analysis on willful deception by persistent misrepresentation through drumbeat repetition of a demonstrably false and/or misleading talking point here (and the context of that here [cf here and most recently here on how precisely what was claimed not to be so, was so, over and over again and was brought to attention repeatedly]) in the foot note thread.

    There is a point where it is necessary to highlight what a subtle rhetorical pattern of behaviour has become tantamount to.

    Notice:

    AT NO POINT OVER THE PAST THREE MONTHS HAS MG TAKEN TIME TO ACTUALLY RESPOND SPECIFICALLY TO THE MANY TIMES THE ISSUES SHE HAS RAISED HAVE BEEN RESPONDED TO ON The MERITS, INCLUDING WHEN SHE MADE THE BLUNDER OF DISMISSING A LOG REDUCTION AS A PROBABILITY CALCULATION AND WHEN SHE IMPROPERLY SUGGESTED THAT OUR RESPONSES AND REQUEST FOR HER RESPONSE IN DETAILS WERE TANTAMOUNT TO THE INQUISITION’S FORCING GALILEO TO RECANT BY SHOWING HIM THUMBSCREWS.

    I strongly suspect as well that the places where what I pointed out at length reluctantly and with reasoning was twisted into a turnabout accusation that I was making groundless accusations, did not engage the matters on the merits as I just linked.

    In short, this is an example of how the trifecta trick of distraction, distortion and demonisation is multiplied and compounded through the turnabout tactic. I refuse to allow such twisted caricatures to stand uncorrected; now those who repeat such distortions are responsible before the corrective record. If they choose to ignore it or play at further distractions & distortions and denigration, they are being willfully deceptive.

    Period.

    The only solution, in short, is to insistently focus on the actual merits on the facts, correcting fallacies of distraction and distortion and pointing out the implied moral responsibility that is being ducked.

    Those who willfully ignore such correction of distraction and distortion thereby become willfully deceptive, which is tantamount to — but subtler than — the outright blatant L-word case.

    (Oh, how easy it is to slip into the L-word condition by dehumanising and disrespecting an opposed person and ignoring or distorting what he has to say, even when one has been corrected. That, I am afraid, is demonstrably — cf the linked above — what has happened again and again over the past three months on the part of MG and others as can be seen at MF’s blog and in related threads here. Notice how, consistently, several responders at UD have at length been forced to observe on the outright refusal to give serious responses, not even the basic request for even a summary to VJT. Do you see why we have been reluctantly forced to conclude that there was a willful unresponsivenenss and demanding disrespectful attitude at work?)

    Sometimes, there is a neighbourly duty of frank counsel:

    Leviticus 19:15-18

    New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

    15 “‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

    16 “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.

    “‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD.

    17 “‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.

    18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

    (And, onlookers, despite the details linked above and in the context of those links, I fully expect that this too will be made an occasion for turnabout accusations, further compounding the polarisation problem. Only when, by repeated cases exposed, the pattern of mischief on the part of the rhetorical objectors to design thought has become evident to a critical mass, will there be a reconsideration by many taken in by the destructive talking points. That critical mass grows one courageous person at a time, So, please stand up and say out loud: stop the willful distractions, distortions and denigration. [And of course, even this will predictably be used to try for the turnabout accusation.])

    Do you see how the problem being highlighted in this thread is potentially deadly to our civilisation?

    Here is wise king Solomon:

    Proverbs 6:16-19

    New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

    16 There are six things the LORD hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
    17 haughty eyes,
    a lying tongue,
    hands that shed innocent blood,
    18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
    feet that are quick to rush into evil,
    19 a false witness who pours out lies
    and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

    (And, onlookers, even this will be predictably turned into further occasion for distraction, distortion and denigration.)

    We better wake up to see what is going on before it is too late.

    Remember, we are dealing with people who will not even accept that the definition of ID is what it is, and who willfully ignore the corrections in the Weak Argument Correctives, both of which are top right this and every UD page.

    To see what is really going on, scroll up and see how my invitation to examine and mark up the IOSE course was responded to. That reaction, sorry to say, is TYPICAL.

    I trust that the corrosive, destructive nature of Alinsky’s tactics is fully apparent and that there will now be a willingness to turn from them. Oh, how right was James:

    James 3:5 . . . the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell . . .

    GEM of TKI

  150. F/N: I suggest the tangential issues above can be better discussed here on.

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