Home » News » Video: What are the Limits of Darwinism? A Presentation by Dr. Michael Behe at the University of Toronto

Video: What are the Limits of Darwinism? A Presentation by Dr. Michael Behe at the University of Toronto

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97 Responses to Video: What are the Limits of Darwinism? A Presentation by Dr. Michael Behe at the University of Toronto

  1. I watched this video the other day. It is the best presentation I’ve seen Dr. Behe give thus far on the subject.

  2. Semi OT; For ID people who cut their teeth years ago on Phillip Johnson’s 1991 book “Darwin On Trial”, this audio lecture delivered in April of 2012 at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary may be enjoyable to listen to:

    Darwin on Trial: The Science Issues – Phillip E. Johnson – audio
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zK5sqd1SKXo

    Darwin on Trial: The Philosophical Issues – Phillip E. Johnson
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJDlBvbPSMA

    Darwin on Trial: The Cultural Issues – Phillip E. Johnson
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OizQdFVSQT0

  3. Why does Michael Behe’s mother disagree with him, presumably regarding Intelligent Design theory?

  4. Ummmm … Gregory, I think Behe was making a joke.

    By the way, you demanded an explanation of my position, under

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....s-journal/

    You asked me a bunch of questions in #53, and I gave you a polite and full reply at #55. I’ll look for your response there.

  5. As they say in Russia, in every joke there’s an element of truth. Behe’s mother rejects something about his IDism. What is it?

    Oh, don’t worry, it’s coming, Timaeus. You are the ‘tell us, tell us’ demander towards me. I’m just serving truth to your quasi-political marginal-IDM power-playing, which is often not ‘polite,’ but simply flip-flopping and tritely bobbling.

    And here you are, claiming entitlement to answers on-line once again! The story sure doesn’t seem to change much in Timaeus’ world.

  6. Gregory:

    Not a sense of entitlement — just reasonable social expectations. When you make a strident criticism of someone (as you did of me), and fire all kinds of questions at him, as if you are demanding an answer, and that someone (me) takes an hour, or even half an hour, to craft an answer that deals with your concerns, the normal social expectation is that you will make *some* comment on the answer.

    Even if you don’t want to continue a conversation, you can always say something like, “Thank you for taking the time to further explain your position; I’m not convinced by what you’ve said, but for the time being I will leave matters as they stand; maybe we can come back to this on another occasion.” That would get you out of further replies, while indicating a modicum of gratitude for the effort made.

    This is nothing to do with academic or internet expectations; it’s just a matter of basic manners.

    Of course, if you want to break off that conversation, just indicate so in the appropriate place, and I won’t press the matter. But for my money, I gave a very reasonable answer which should be of use to you if you really want to *understand* my position, rather than merely *attack* it. I look forward to any reply you may give. Best wishes.

    P.S. Behe has used that joke about his mother more than once. I don’t think you can assume any “historical” basis for it.

  7. By the way, Gregory, did you listen to the entire video of Behe? And if so, what is your reaction, not to the wisecrack about his mother, but to the substance of his presentation, and to his conversation with the audience? Just curious to see if your reaction to Behe differs from your reaction to Dembski, and if so, how, and why.

  8. “reasonable/normal social expectations.” – Timaeus

    Thanks, that’s a humourous keeper! Go hide back in your anti-social cave, Timaeus, while demanding such things from people who are public and known, unlike you.

    Your position doesn’t seem worth ‘understanding,’ Timaeus. You would likely make Plato ashamed. I am a Platonist also, but don’t disguise myself as an natural scientistic IDist as you do.

    If it is true that there is no ‘historical basis’ to Behe’s spoken claim, then Behe is just as much a propagandist as you are.

  9. It’s a clear sense of entitlement, Timaeus. And it is based on your IDological movement-mongering viewpoint. You seem to think anyone who is an Abrahamic believer *should* accept Big-ID theory. I am here to tell you that you are wrong.

  10. @Gregory:

    Why does Michael Behe’s mother disagree with him, presumably regarding Intelligent Design theory?

    How do you know it’s not intelligent design theory?

    Do you think of yourself as a “Christian”?

  11. “Do you think of yourself as a “Christian”?”

    What does that have to do with ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’ theory? Nothing, right? Absolutely nothing.

  12. Gregory, ,, In the marketplace of ideas, do you not think that sugar would make your product more appealing vinegar? Why such abrasiveness? If you are right your ideas will when out in the long run anyway.

  13. correction: more appealing THAN vinegar

  14. sorry: will WIN out,,

  15. Take your truth with vinegar, BA! Natural scientistic IDism is a loser that will not ‘win out.’ Likewise, ‘creationism’ will not ‘win out.’ It doesn’t take a futurist to see this. And neither are ‘orthodox’ Abrahamic positions.

  16. Gregory wrote:

    “If it is true that there is no ‘historical basis’ to Behe’s spoken claim …”

    Behe didn’t make a “claim” about his mother’s view; he made a *joke*. Apparently sociologists have no sense of humor. (Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a sociologist laugh. Or tell a joke. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a sociologist even smile.)

    It is interesting that your *only* comment on Behe’s talk, in this UD discussion specifically devoted to Behe’s talk, is about a joke he made just 2 minutes in, as part of the preamble to the talk; the talk itself, and subsequent question period, are over an hour and 20 minutes long! You have no comments to make on the substance of what Behe said?

  17. Gregory:

    What does that have to do with ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’ theory? Nothing, right? Absolutely nothing.

    Is Gregory finally seeing the light? Somehow I doubt it.

    But to answewr Gregory’s question, some who argue for natural theology think it ought to be Trinitarian. I hardly think that Jews and Muslims would agree.

  18. Timaeus:

    It is interesting that your *only* comment on Behe’s talk, in this UD discussion specifically devoted to Behe’s talk, is about a joke he made just 2 minutes in, as part of the preamble to the talk; the talk itself, and subsequent question period, are over an hour and 20 minutes long! You have no comments to make on the substance of what Behe said?

    Frankly I see that as progress. At least by saying nothing he’s not lying about what Behe said.

  19. “Take your truth with vinegar, BA!”

    Okie Dokie Gregory,, let’s see how “the truth” interacts with vinegar,,

    John 14:6
    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    Matthew 27:34 (KJV)
    They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.

    Psalm 69:21
    They also gave me gall for my food And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

    John 18:37-38
    ,,and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked.,,,

    The last verse happens, as far as I know, happens to be the verse on the oldest fragment of of the New Testament discovered thus far:

    The Oldest Known Fragment Of The New Testament – Serendipitous Gospel – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyfR0AsRaX4

  20. Gregory, you wrote:

    “You seem to think anyone who is an Abrahamic believer *should* accept Big-ID theory. I am here to tell you that you are wrong.”

    I never made any such claim. But it is quite obvious that, whatever claims I actually do make, you are here to tell me that I am wrong. Your knee-jerk reflex to say “black” every time I say “white” has been apparent to every reader of this site for a long time now.

    I would never argue that a Christian *must* support ID. It is interesting to note, however, that among American evangelical Christians, there does seem to be a rough correspondence between a *fully* orthodox or traditional understanding of God, creation, and the authority/inspiration of the Bible, and support for ID, and a rough correspondence between a looser, less orthodox or traditional understanding of God, creation, and the authority/inspiration of the Bible, and hostility to ID combined with support for TE. I don’t think this correspondence is entirely accidental.

  21. John 18:38
    “What is truth?” Pilate asked.,,,”

    To varying degrees everyone looks for truth. A few people back in the 60?s, such as the Beatles, have traveled to distant lands seeking gurus in their quest to find “Truth”. People are happy when they discover a new truth into the mysteries of life. People who have deep insights into the truth of how things actually work are considered wise. In the bible Jesus says “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” So, since truth is considered such a good thing, let us look for truth in a common object; a simple rock.
    Few people would try to argue that a rock is not real. Someone who would argue that it is not real could bang his head on the rock until he was satisfied the rock is real.
    A rock is composed of three basic ingredients; energy, force and ‘truth’. From Einstein’s famous equation (e=mc2) we know that all matter (all solids, liquids and gases) of the universe are ultimately made up of energy and therefore the entire rock can “hypothetically” be reduced to energy.

    E=mc²: Einstein explains his famous formula – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CC7Sg41Bp-U

    This energy is “woven” by various complex, unchanging, transcendent, universal forces into the atoms of the rock. The amount of energy woven by these complex interactions of various, unchanging, universal forces into the rock is tremendous. This tremendous energy that is in the rock is clearly demonstrated by the detonation of nuclear bombs.

    Atomic Bomb Explosion – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-22tna7KHzI

    6.4 mg of mass converted to energy in Hiroshima A-bomb
    4,400,000 Hiroshima A-bombs equivalent to one ounce of mass
    1 drop of water equivalent to 10 Hiroshima A-bombs
    Entire energy consumption of America, for 1 year, equivalent to 1 bowling ball
    52 X 10^55 Hiroshima bombs equivalent at ‘Big Bang’

    Big Bang
    After its (The Big Bang’s) initial expansion from a singularity, the Universe cooled sufficiently to allow energy to be converted into various subatomic particles, including protons, neutrons, and electrons.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang

    This woven energy is found in each and every individual “particle/wave” of every atom, in the trillions upon countless trillions of atoms in the rock. While energy can be said to be what gives “substance” to the rock, energy in and of itself is a “non-solid” entity. In fact, it is the unchanging, transcendent, universal constants/forces, which are ‘unseen’, that tell the energy exactly where to be and what to do in the rock, and are what can be said to be the ONLY solid, uncompromising “thing” in the rock.
    The last part of this following video, starting at the 5:09 minute mark, has some excellent photographs of atoms that gets this ‘non-solid’ point of the energy/matter of a rock across as well as giving a tiny glimpse of where the universal constants come into play.

    Uncertainty Principle – The ‘Uncertain Non-Particle’ Basis Of Material Reality – video and article
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4109172

    ,,,Yet there is another ingredient which went into making the atoms of the rock besides the universal constants/forces and matter/energy. An ingredient that is often neglected to be looked at as a “real” component of the rock. It is the transcendent and spiritual component of truth. If truth did not exist the rock would not exist. This is as obvious as the fact that the rock would not exist if energy and/or unchanging force did not exist. It is the truth in and of the logical laws of the interrelated unchanging forces of the universal constants that govern the energy in the rock that enable the rock to be a rock in the first place.
    Is truth independent and dominant of the energy and force? Yes of course, there are many philosophical truths of reason that are not dependent on energy or force for them to still be true. Yet energy and unchanging force are precisely subject to what the unchanging “truth” tells them they can and cannot do in the rock. To put it another way, the rock cannot exist without truth yet truth can exist independently of the rock. Since truth clearly dictates what energy and/or unchanging force can or cannot do, it follows that truth dominates energy and unchanging force. Energy and unchanging force do not dominate truth. It is also obvious that truth is omnipresent in this universe. That is to say, the truth that is in the rock on this world is the same truth that is in a rock on the other side of the universe on another world. Thus, truth is present everywhere at all times in this universe (Indeed, Science would be extremely difficult, to put it very mildly, if this uniformity of truth, for all of nature, were not so). It has also been scientifically proven, by quantum non-locality, that whenever something becomes physically “true” (wave collapse of entangled electron, photon) in any part of the universe, this “truth” is instantaneously communicated anywhere/everywhere in the universe to its corresponding “particle”.

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

    Thus, truth is “aware” of everything that goes on in the universe instantaneously. This universal, instantaneous, awareness of a transcendent truth also gives truth the vital characteristic of being omniscient (All knowing). This instantaneous communication of truth to all points in the universe also happens to defy the speed of light; a “truth” that energy and even the unchanging force of gravity happen to be subject to (I believe all fundamental forces are shown to be subject to this “truth’ of the speed of light). This scientific proof of ‘instantaneous’ quantum non-locality also proves that truth is not a “passive” component of this universe. Truth is actually scientifically demonstrated, by quantum non-locality (and quantum teleportation), to be the “active” dominant component of this universe. Thus, truth is not a passive set of rules written on a sheet of paper somewhere. Truth is the “living governor” of this universe that has dominion over all other components of this universe and is not bound by any of the laws that “truth” has subjected all the other components of the universe to. Truth is in fact a tangible entity that enables and dictates this universe to exist in a overarching non-chaotic form so as to enable life to exist. This “Truth”, which is shown not to be subject to time in any way, shape, or form, by quantum non-locality, has also demonstrated foresight and purpose in the extreme fine-tuning for this temporal universe and, as such, can be said to be “alive” from the fact that a “decision” had to be made from the timeless/spaceless dimension, that ‘Truth’ inhabits, in order for this temporal reality to become real in the first place.

    “The Big Bang represents an immensely powerful, yet carefully planned and controlled release of matter, energy, space and time. All this is accomplished within the strict confines of very carefully fine-tuned physical constants and laws. The power and care this explosion reveals exceeds human mental capacity by multiple orders of magnitude.”
    Prof. Henry F. Schaefer –

    What Properties Must the Cause of the Universe Have? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SZWInkDIVI

    i.e. ‘Truth’ is a major characteristic of the necessary Being, “uncaused cause”, the Alpha, that created all reality/realities. Moreover, that a photon would actually be destroyed upon the quantum teleportation of its “information” to another photon, is a direct controlled violation of the first law of thermodynamics, and provides yet another direct line of evidence that ‘Truth’ is the foundational entity of this universe that gives rise to everything in this universe.
    Well, lets see what we have so far; Truth is eternal (it has always existed and will always exist); Truth is omnipresent (it is present everywhere in the universe at all times); Truth is omnipotent (it has dominion over everything else in the universe, yet is not subject to any physical laws); Truth has a vital characteristic of omniscience (truth is apparently aware of everything that is happening in the universe); and Truth is alive (Truth has created a temporal universe from a reality that is not subject to any physical laws of time or space for the express purpose of creating life; (fine-tuning) Surprisingly, being eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, and alive are the foundational characteristics that are used by theologians to describe God. Thus, logically speaking, spiritual/transcendent truth emanates directly from God and is coexistent with the Character of His Being. So in answer to our question “What is Truth?” we can answer that ‘Truth’, as far as the scientific method is concerned, is God.
    Now to bring all this into the focus of the Christian perspective, Jesus says that He is “The Truth, the Way and The Life”. And in regards to what is currently revealed in our scientific knowledge, I would say that this is a VERY, VERY fantastic claim to make! If Jesus is speaking the truth, which I believe He is, then by the rules of logic this makes Jesus equivalent to God Almighty. Well,,, Is Jesus God??? Well, believe it or not, there actually is now some fairly strong scientific evidence that gives a very credible, and very persuasive, indication that the number one problem in physics and mathematics today, of reconciling General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics into a ‘Theory of everything’, finds a very credible resolution in the resurrection of Jesus Christ,, and In my book, if Christ is the “Theory of Everything” that means that Jesus Christ is God i.e. The Jesus Christ is “The Truth” just as He claimed to be!

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    Centrality of Each Individual Observer In The Universe and Christ’s Very Credible Reconciliation Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics – notes
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/17SDgYPHPcrl1XX39EXhaQzk7M0zmANKdYIetpZ-WB5Y/edit?hl=en_US
    Verse and Music:

    Matthew 28:18
    And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”

    Natalie Grant – Alive (Resurrection music video)
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=KPYWPGNX

    Lyric from song: “Death has lost and love has won!”

  22. Bornagain77 (21)

    I’m always fascinated by your ‘articles’ about physics. They raise many questions which I do not want to bother you with, because they spring all from total ignorance. Allow me to ask you one question about non-locality though:
    Has every ‘particle’ a corresponding particle? If every particle has only one corresponding particle, one cannot state that this corresponding particle is ‘everywhere’, right?

  23. Gregory

    Why does Michael Behe’s mother disagree with him, presumably regarding Intelligent Design theory

    Timaeus

    Ummmm … Gregory, I think Behe was making a joke.

    I hasten to remind Timaeus that Gregory has “stumped” the best minds at the Discovery Institute by peppering them with equally profound and challenging questions. Though their jaws may have dropped in stunned disbelief, Gregory interpreted their diplomatic and compassionate silence as a tacit confession that he had penetrated ID theory beyond their endurance.

    Gregory

    As they say in Russia, in every joke there’s an element of truth. Behe’s mother rejects something about his IDism. What is it?

    Gregory’s finely-tuned sense of proportionality helps him to know which questions should be pressed and which ones should be left alone.

  24. Box you ask

    Has every ‘particle’ a corresponding particle?

    Are you asking about antiparticles or about quantum entanglement?

    If about antiparticles the answer is no:

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

    If you are asking about quantum entanglement the answer is still no for the particle can exist by itself, not entangled with any other particles, or it can be entangled with one or more particles simultaneously. For instance, in the following paper they consider the implications of four particles which are simultaneously entangled:

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: To derive their inequality, which sets up a measurement of entanglement between four particles, the researchers considered what behaviours are possible for four particles that are connected by influences that stay hidden and that travel at some arbitrary finite speed.
    Mathematically (and mind-bogglingly), these constraints define an 80-dimensional object. The testable hidden influence inequality is the boundary of the shadow this 80-dimensional shape casts in 44 dimensions. The researchers showed that quantum predictions can lie outside this boundary, which means they are going against one of the assumptions. Outside the boundary, either the influences can’t stay hidden, or they must have infinite speed.,,,
    The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

    Box you also stated:

    They (articles on quantum physics) raise many questions which I do not want to bother you with, because they spring all from total ignorance.

    That comment reminds me of what Professor Zeilinger stated in the last few seconds of this following video:

    Double Slit Experiment – Explained By Prof Anton Zeilinger (a leader in quantum teleportation breakthroughs) – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6101627/

    “We know what the particle is doing at the source when it is created we know what it is doing at the detector when it is registered, but we do not know what it is doing in-between” Anton Zeilinger

    And indeed the ‘wave state’, which is what ‘state’ the photon is in as it travels in the double slit experiment (or as it travels in the universe at large), is very mysterious as to how they describe it:

    Wave function
    Excerpt “wave functions form an abstract vector space”,,, This vector space is infinite-dimensional, because there is no finite set of functions which can be added together in various combinations to create every possible function.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.....ctor_space

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1)
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts: the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

  25. A few more notes on recent breakthroughs,,

    Particle and Wave-Like Behavior of Light Measured Simultaneously (Nov. 1, 2012)
    Excerpt: Dr Peruzzo, Research Fellow at the Centre for Quantum Photonics, said: “The measurement apparatus detected strong nonlocality, which certified that the photon behaved simultaneously as a wave and a particle in our experiment. This represents a strong refutation of models in which the photon is either a wave or a particle.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....141107.htm

    Of Einstein and entanglement: Quantum erasure deconstructs wave-particle duality – January 29, 2013
    Excerpt: While previous quantum eraser experiments made the erasure choice before or (in delayed-choice experiments) after the interference – thereby allowing communications between erasure and interference in the two systems, respectively – scientists in Prof. Anton Zeilinger’s group at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Vienna recently reported a quantum eraser experiment in which they prevented this communications possibility by enforcing Einstein locality. They accomplished this using hybrid path-polarization entangled photon pairs distributed over an optical fiber link of 55 meters in one experiment and over a free-space link of 144 kilometers in another. Choosing the polarization measurement for one photon decided whether its entangled partner followed a definite path as a particle, or whether this path-information information was erased and wave-like interference appeared. They concluded that since the two entangled systems are causally disconnected in terms of the erasure choice, wave-particle duality is an irreducible feature of quantum systems with no naïve realistic explanation. The world view that a photon always behaves either definitely as a wave or definitely as a particle would require faster-than-light communication, and should therefore be abandoned as a description of quantum behavior.
    http://phys.org/news/2013-01-e.....ructs.html

    Qubits that never interact could exhibit past-future entanglement – July 30, 2012
    Excerpt: Typically, for two particles to become entangled, they must first physically interact. Then when the particles are physically separated and still share the same quantum state, they are considered to be entangled. But in a new study, physicists have investigated a new twist on entanglement in which two qubits become entangled with each other even though they never physically interact.,,
    In the current study, the physicists have proposed an experiment based on circuit quantum electrodynamics (QED) that is fully within reach of current technologies. They describe a set-up that involves a pair of superconducting qubits, P and F, with qubit P connected to a quantum field vacuum by a transmission line. During the first time interval, which the scientists call the past, P interacts with the field. Then P is quickly decoupled from the field for the second time interval. Finally, F is coupled to the field for a time interval called the future. Even though P and F never interact with the field at the same time or with each other at all, F’s interactions with the field cause it to become entangled with P. The physicists call this correlation “past-future entanglement.”
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-q.....ement.html

    Physicists describe method to observe timelike entanglement – January 2011
    Excerpt: In “ordinary” quantum entanglement, two particles possess properties that are inherently linked with each other, even though the particles may be spatially separated by a large distance. Now, physicists S. Jay Olson and Timothy C. Ralph from the University of Queensland have shown that it’s possible to create entanglement between regions of spacetime that are separated in time but not in space, and then to convert the timelike entanglement into normal spacelike entanglement. They also discuss the possibility of using this timelike entanglement from the quantum vacuum for a process they call “teleportation in time.” “To me, the exciting aspect of this result (that entanglement exists between the future and past) is that it is quite a general property of nature and opens the door to new creativity, since we know that entanglement can be viewed as a resource for quantum technology,” Olson told PhysOrg.com.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....ement.html

  26. Tonight in good company I was humbled and challenged about Human Extension as an alternative to evolutionism, creationism and IDism. Thankfully most ‘normal’ people understand that human choice is not such an ‘unmeasurable’ thing as IDist policy demands, yet that it is still a welcome challenge. Indeed, like with Behe, ID theory is one of the most dehumanising theories imaginable.

  27. StephenB #23.

    Thanks for the laugh SB. Really funny. But so blooming true.

    “Gregory’s finely-tuned sense of proportionality helps him to know which questions should be pressed and which ones should be left alone.” ha ha ha :)

    How long will it be before Gregory begins to try and categorise her as either ‘Big-ID’ or ‘small-id’.

    You do get some laughs on here.

  28. Does anyone here have the slightest clue what Gregory is talking about in #26?

    If it makes any sense at all — and the exposition is so poor that it may not — it seems to be saying that some other academic went out to dinner with Gregory and showed him the flaws in his model of “human extension” — and that Gregory actually acknowledged that the criticism was reasonable!

    It seems also that Gregory is saying that he was able to accept the criticism because it came from “good company.” Presumably that is meant as an invidious comparison with the people here at UD, who are not “good company.”

    I guess the take-home message for us is that if we want Gregory to listen to logic, reason, science, evidence, historical fact, etc., we will have to become “good company.” So all the friction, all the boasting, all the ad hominem remarks, all the evasions, all the discussions blocked when Gregory ceases to answer questions about his position — all that is our fault, for not being “good company.”

    Presumably Gregory thinks of himself as “good company.” I wonder how many people here would be inclined to bring him home for dinner? (Horns of a dilemma: You have to entertain either Gregory or P. Z. Myers at your home. Whom do you choose?)

    One thing we know for sure, based on Gregory’s comment on Behe’s lecture: one would have to explain the punch lines of all the dinner-table jokes to him.

  29. Is this lecture also available on dvd?

  30. ‘You have to entertain either Gregory or P. Z. Myers at your home. Whom do you choose?’

    Pinochet?

  31. Gregory,

    I have seen you claim in a couple of places that ID is dehumanizing. Can you explain why you say that.

    My assumption would be darwinian evolution might be viewed as dysanthropic and ID the opposite.

  32. Glad it was in my old home town. (Its home now only in name for problems).
    I missed it but Canada is involved and can claim a healthy creationism or general anti- evolutionism scepticism.
    However America is where the demise of evolution as a theory will take place.

  33. Robert Byers,

    I hope it’s prior to the millenium.

  34. I really enjoyed this video. I would like to hear what he had to skip over due to time.

  35. 35

    I’m assuming Gregory meant transhumanism or human enhancement, because Google hits for “human extension” gave me a page about hair extensions.

  36. @Gregory, 11

    What does that have to do with ‘intelligent design/Intelligent Design’ theory? Nothing, right? Absolutely nothing.

    Intelligent (d/D)esign supports Christianity.

    You haven’t answered my question.

  37. @ecs2 #30

    ID theory is dehumanising because it follows similar methods to those employed in the ideology of methodological naturalism (while at the same time railing against MN as an ideology of atheists and non-believers). It seeks as a theory to operate only in the natural sciences, not in the human-social sciences (or social sciences and humanities, in American terms). Its main fields are biology, cosmology and palaeontology.

    When people speak of archaeology or forensics as examples of ID ‘detection’ methods, they always carefully fail to mention that it is human beings who are the ‘designers’ of the objects in question. And because it is human beings who are the ‘designers,’ that distinguishes ID theory categorically from OoL, OoBI and human origins because human beings are/were not the ‘designers’ of that so-called ‘design/Design.’

    IDists fundamentalistically concentrate only on the ‘design’ itself, divorced from the reality that every ‘design’ is ‘designed’ by a ‘designer’ using a ‘designing process’ because they say they cannot or will not discuss the ‘designer’ since they are *only* interested in proving/inferring that an object was ‘designed.’ This is why they run away from any talk of ‘designing processes,’ wherein the ‘designers’ can (and in recent times must) themselves be studied. That’s ID theory’s ‘historical/deep past quasi-science’ run-and-hide strategy when it comes to human beings as (more than just) ‘designers.’

    In other words, IDists don’t really allow a human being to be a human being, who is not only a rational calculating device, but also an intuitive, emotional person, with feelings, thoughts, reflections and experiences. ID theory tries to thwart any attempt to address motivations, intentions, presuppositions, values, beliefs and purposes even in their choosing to support/promote ID theory qua theory. They simply don’t want to talk about the humanitarian or sociological features of ID theory because it would directly lead them to the conclusion that motivations, values and yes, even worldview actually *does* play a role in the making of their theory. Charles Thaxton, founder-inventor of ‘modern ID’ well knows this, as he told me over lunch in Seattle.

    IDists who seek to appear objectivistic and neutral wrt worldview simply don’t want to admit that their presuppositions have anything to do with it; they want their chosen ‘natural scientific paradigm’ to be just a logical conclusion of ‘following the evidence where it leads’ and ‘making an inference to the best explanation’ as if they are non-human robots operating in a character vacuum.

    This is why the Discovery Institute’s summer program for Intelligent Design in the Humanities and Social Sciences collapsed; there can be no positive theory of Intelligent Design in those fields because human beings as obvious decision-makers *must* be studied, i.e. cannot be avoided. And sadly, typically, natural scientistically, ID theory needs to avoid any talk of ‘designers/Designers’ in order to maintain its aura of objectivistic natural science.

    Have you ever thought about this ecs2? Most IDists don’t allow themselves the luxury of openly questioning why the UD’s summer program for ID in the Humanities and Social Sciences collapsed. That is simply a fact that I can tell you right now, since I was there and looked directly into John G. West’s eyes while he was happily and willingly wedging his students. There is really nothing behind a ‘positive’ case for ID theory in those fields. He knows this, I told it directly to his face and he realised why the program had to go.

    Do you notice how Timaeus *never* advocates for ID theory in his home fields, religious studies, western history of ideas and political theory? Why do you think that is, ecs2?ID theory of government elections and papal conclaves?! Timaeus doesn’t have the exaggeration of his convictions like Joe or Mung or KF or other ‘universalist designism’ advocates here at UD.

    Dr. Michael Behe, who I otherwise would most probably respect, plainly over-reached himself in the Preface to Dembksi’s “Intelligent Design: THE Bridge between Science and Theology,” claiming: “ID has implications for all humane studies.” But what good is a ‘bridge’ that doesn’t touch down on both sides?

  38. An interesting reply from Gregory to ecs@ in #36.

    One good feature of the reply is that it never talks about “Big-ID” versus “small-id” — this will be a welcome relief to everyone here. This avoidance of quarrelling over nomenclature allows Gregory to make (for a change) a point over substance.

    As far as I can tell, Gregory thinks that ID is “dehumanizing” for two reasons:

    (1) Reasons connected with his bad (to him) experiences at the ID summer program in Seattle;

    (2) Reasons connected with ID’s self-limitation of theoretical coverage.

    Let’s take these one at at time.

    Gregory’s objections to his experiences at Discovery would be more interesting, more useful, and more credible if he would provide us with an overview of the program he went through. We are getting only a very small part of the story. It is like trying to reconstruct the plot and dialogue of a 1925 silent movie from a dozen production stills. It would also help if we had the names of half a dozen people who attended the program with him, so that we could compare their own experiences to see how they matched.

    Gregory tells us that summer program for ID in the social sciences and humanities “collapsed.” He does not tell us what that means. Does he mean that they used to have such a program (though it was not the one he was in), and then abandoned it? Or that they planned to start such a program, but it never got off the ground? Or does he mean that *he* was in such a program, and it “collapsed” — broke down — while he was going through it? We aren’t told.

    Gregory makes a judgment about the shortcomings of ID, and then connects that judgment with a conversation he had with Charles Thaxton. He says “Charles Thaxton, founder-inventor of ‘modern ID’ well knows this, as he told me over lunch in Seattle.” Well, it would be nice if, instead of a remark allegedly said over lunch by Charles Thaxton, we had something published by Charles Thaxton. In any case, what is the “this” that Thaxton “knows”? Is Gregory saying that Thaxton endorsed the entire analysis and argument that Gregory presents in the paragraph containing Thaxton’s name? Or did Thaxton agree with only *part* of what Gregory was saying? And if so, what part? Did Thaxton offer any qualifications?

    I find it hard to imagine Thaxton saying: “Yeah, you’re right, Gregory, methodologically, the whole ID venture really sucks.” I would imagine that, in addition to indicating possible shortcomings of the ID approach, Thaxton said a few *good* things about it as well. But Gregory is silent about anything positive that Thaxton might have said. And presumably Thaxton would not have come to Seattle that summer to teach in a program for which he had no respect. So Gregory’s invocation of Thaxton’s name to damn the Discovery program is somewhat suspect. It appears to be a one-sided report which omits things that could be important.

    Gregory also makes a negative comment about the role of John West. (This is at least the third time West has been mentioned negatively by Gregory; West seems to be central to Gregory’s critique of Discovery.)

    Gregory says, “I was there and looked directly into John G. West’s eyes while he was happily and willingly wedging his students.” Well, that hardly sounds like a dispassionate analysis. Would West have described himself as “wedging” his students? Would West have seen himself as propagandizing them? Or would he have seen himself as giving them tools to counteract the widespread cultural propaganda they were already exposed to, e.g., materialism, secular humanism, neo-Darwinism, reductionism, scientism? Gregory does not even try to represent West as West might have seen himself; and this shows that Gregory is not interested in giving us a detached portrayal of the Discovery summer program.

    Gregory tells us: ” There is really nothing behind a ‘positive’ case for ID theory in those fields. He knows this, I told it directly to his face and he realised why the program had to go.” Gregory thus implies that West had not understood the uselessness of ID in the social sciences/humanities until Gregory told him, and he implies that the summer program in that area was scrapped because of what Gregory had taught West. I wonder if West would give the same account of the facts as Gregory does here.

    It also somewhat stretches credibility to imagine that West, with his Ph.D. in government (which subject, as part of political science, is part of the social sciences), would miss some hugely obvious point about social sciences and would need to have heard it for the first time from a then-grad-student without a Ph.D. in the social sciences. Are we to envision that West and his colleagues dreamed up an ID program for social sciences and humanities, were all ready to run it, and then Gregory happened along, gave them the benefit of his wisdom, and then West and his colleagues said: “Oh, what idiots we have all been! Fortunately Gregory came along, and now we know not to attempt that program!”? I would need much more context before I would accept Gregory’s account of what happened here.

    Because Gregory’s account of his experience at Discovery is so sparse, it is hard to tell what happened to him there. But one gets the strong impression that he came into verbal conflict with a number of people there (West, Gordon, and others), and made no friends there. This makes it hard to tell how much of his criticism is fair, and how much of it “striking back” at Discovery for whatever grievances Gregory accumulated during his time there.

    Because I was not there, and because Gregory has not provided both sides, I cannot be sure that the Discovery programs (in Gregory’s year and before and after) were “dehumanizing.” All I can tell from Gregory’s account is that Discovery did not, in his observation, apply ID in any useful way to the social sciences or humanities. So I will drop that topic and move on to the second point, i.e., that ID is dehumanizing because of its self-limitation to design detection in nature. I’ll tackle this in a separate post.

    (to be continued …)

  39. Timaeus, you couldn’t tackle your own shadow! ;)

  40. (Part 2 of 2, continuing from #37 above):

    Gregory seems to feel that ID’s self-limitation — to the detection of design in nature — is intrinsically “dehumanizing.” He writes:

    “they want their chosen ‘natural scientific paradigm’ to be just a logical conclusion of ‘following the evidence where it leads’ and ‘making an inference to the best explanation’ as if they are non-human robots operating in a character vacuum.”

    As I read this, I am puzzled. I knew many a grad student in physics and biology in my day, and their understanding of what they were doing as scientists was much like the above. They did not see themselves as responsible to uncover new truths in the social sciences or humanities, and they thought that their methods were appropriate for what they were trying to study, i.e., nature. They saw themselves as trying to explain atoms, radiation, cells, nucleotides, etc.

    Yet they were not “dehumanized” people. They sang in choirs and they enjoyed hiking and camping and listening to jazz and watching foreign films, and they talked about politics and education and all the other things that human beings talk about. The fact that their professional questions concerned non-human nature did not make them “dehumanized”; it meant only that they were observing boundaries between different kinds of investigations. And the boundaries they set were reasonable. It would be downright silly to say that a certain particle travels at 3/4 the speed of light for political reasons. It would be idiotic to suggest that haemoglobin is structured the way it is for sociological reasons. To be a good scientist — to understand why nature behaves in the way it does — you have to cease anthopomorphizing individual natural entities, cease imputing human motivations to them. That is not “dehumanizing” — it is simply recognizing where the boundary between the human and the non-human is.

    Similarly, ID people recognize that often we can determine that something is designed, but lack information regarding the history of that object, or the identity or motivations of the builders, the designers, etc. So they concentrate on what ID theory can determine — whether or not something is designed — and leave out questions which ID cannot answer.

    This does not mean that ID people cannot ask “human” questions related to their ID work. It does not mean they cannot ask: “If there was a designer, who was it?” It does not mean that they cannot look at malaria and ask: “Did the designer of malaria have evil intentions?” It does not mean that they are forbidden an emotional response to what they have studied. It does not mean that they are forbidden a religious response to what they have studied, or an ethical response, or an artistic response. It does not “dehumanize” ID proponents. It merely prevents ID proponents from employing religious, ethical, or artistic notions *in their arguments for design*.

    And this is no different from the division every scientist on the planet makes. A medical scientist can determine the cause of some disease, without bringing his religious or political beliefs into the analysis; but after he has done so, he can have a religious response: “Why would God allow such suffering?” Or he can have a political response: “We must institute a social program to combat this disease, and tax the rich to pay for it.” Nothing in his science “dehumanizes” him.

    Why then, does Behe’s argument for design above — upon which Gregory has still not commented — “dehumanize” Behe? Is not reasoning about nature something wonderful that only *humans* can do? And does Behe’s modest, affable, humorous, self-deprecating manner, as he speaks and answers questions, indicate that he is a very “human” sort of scientist, rather than a stuck-up academic prig, like so many of his critics?

    If Gregory wants to say: “Well, ID is purely concerned with natural sciences, not social sciences or the humanities, and therefore is dehumanizing” — well, then, all of chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, etc. is “dehumanizing,” and I don’t see Gregory making that charge. But if ID is no more “dehumanizing” with its methods than organic chemistry or cosmology are, then what is Gregory’s beef? If he is not calling for the expulsion of natural science from the university on the grounds that it is “dehumanizing,” what exactly is his complaint?

    Nobody is more dedicated to human studies than I am. After winning a science scholarship and spending some time in natural science, I decided to study the human things rather than the natural things. I therefore certainly am aware of the benefits of the social sciences and humanities. But this does not prevent me from greatly admiring good natural scientists and what they teach us. And the fact that ID does not teach me how society ought to be organized, or how wealth ought to be distributed, or how literature ought to be read, or what religion is true, or how one can be a good parent, does not for me mean that ID is “dehumanizing.” It merely means that ID works within its inherent limitations, as all intellectual projects must.

    I would not want ID to become a surrogate religion or ideology. I would not want it telling me whether I should be Christian or Hindu, whether I should vote Republican or Democrat or Conservative or Liberal or Labor, whether I should support public schools or private schools. I’m glad that it limits itself to the detection of design in nature. It’s for that very reason that I was able to join in and support ID, whereas I could never join in and support Creation Science. I was always repelled by Gish and Morris, but I was instantly drawn to Behe and Denton, because they deliberately avoided arguing based on religious premises. You could be an ID supporter and believe anything you wanted about the Bible, from the view that it was the flawless word of God to the view that it was a pile of ancient superstition. You could be an ID supporter and a rabid capitalist, or an ID supporter and a socialist. The only requirement was an intellectual openness to the possibility of detecting design in nature. And there is nothing intrinsically “dehumanizing” about intellectual openness.

    The question is, does Gregory have such openness? Is he open to the possibility that design in nature could be demonstrated? Or has he made up his mind, in advance of all possible evidence, that such a demonstration could never exist?

  41. “leave out questions which ID cannot [will not] answer” – Timaeus

    A ‘detective’ would get fired on the first day of the job if he or she were asked about the who, when, where, how and why and simply announced: that’s not part of the ‘real’ ‘design inference’!

    All ID theory aims to discover is Yes or No – that there is design/Design. That is far too weak in explanatory power to be taken seriously as a legitimate ‘science.’

    Go back home, Timaeus, lie down on your couch and stop interfering with professionals. You make scholars look bad with your apathy and propaganda.

  42. Gregory: The above exchange highlights that the logic of induction and linked inference to best explanation on well warranted sign are key points to underscore. And that which establishes to reasonable warrant, that tweredun, is just as legitimate as — and prior to — an onward investigation that may seek whodunit, why. Unless there are grounds to conclude burglary, or arson, or murder, it is not safe to go hunting for a culprit. For fairly obvious reasons. KF

  43. I would like it recorded for posterity that once again I offered Gregory a detailed, articulate post (39-40), written politely, making a number of arguments and asking a number of questions, and that once again he has ignored most of the contents of my posts and offered biting answers with a strongly personal flavor.

    It appears that Gregory is unable to hold an intellectual or academic conversation without this trademark combination of evasiveness and belligerence.

    I don’t think it is unreasonable to extrapolate Gregory’s behavior here, which has been more or less constant, back to his time in the Discovery summer program. And if that was his attitude during the program, it is not at all surprising that (as he himself has reported here at various times) he came into conflict with the teachers and administrators there. I therefore think it’s pretty clear that his account of the Discovery summer program comes from a less-than-objective perspective.

  44. Thaxton agrees with Behe’s mom!

  45. This is a good presentation, but when will someone prominent point out that as far as can be seen, evolution isn’t happening, and has never happened? Just a stark statement like that. It’s a pleasant feeling to get complacent in the relatively new shifting of the goalposts back to something more in line with reality.

    Bacteria changes via natural selection only show a narrow range of mutation possible. If it can’t get out of this range due some laws in the genome which restrict upward evolution, then it’s not evolution in any sense. Not only that but the opposite of evolution is inferred.

    It wouldn’t need to be claimed that tampering from intelligence was perforce needed at every step on the tree of life, simply because not enough is known yet. But it could be stated that this idea should be taken seriously because it’s the only option left on the table, according to what is currently known. Please re-read this paragraph.

    A prominent person at one of these university lectures here doesn’t need to espouse this idea, they simply need to point it out, it’s the only one left on the table based on what’s known up till now. Present it along the line of “further research will bring more clarity”.

    “Accepting the Tree of life” is ambiguous and pandering, and simply not straight forward thinking. Either way, don’t worry about it Behe, probably shouldn’t come from you. You’re a great guy, I won’t hold it against you.

  46. How far does fine-tuning extend?

    “Fine tuning extends at least to the category of classes.” – Michael Behe (55:15)

    Is this a religiously based fine-tuning proposal, a secular fine-tuning, a quasi-objectivistic natural scientific fine-tuning proposal or a combination of these?

    It is rather easy for natural scientists to overlook the ‘anthropos’ in the ‘anthropic principle’ and to just focus on the notion of ‘fine tuning,’ which Behe in the video equates with ‘design.’

    What Michael Behe has been trying to do, and which seems worthy of praise for the perhaps crazy courage of the attempt (notice the necessary Disclaimer – ‘most people disagree with me, even my mother’ – at the beginning?), even if it has not succeeded, is to propose an ‘anthropic principle’ of biology/biochemistry.

    Unfortunately, Behe makes a category error when he extends the term ‘design’ from human-made things to the biosphere and it is partially understandable why he would choose to do so because he is a Roman Catholic. Roman Catholics, like other Abrahamic believers, accept ‘design arguments’ as natural theological apologetics. But to strip out the theology and to just call it a natural science of ‘design’ is an over-extension of the term. This is why Behe uses humour to try to diffuse the seriousness of his misspeaking, his over-reaching of ‘design.’

    An interesting discussion took place recently on BioLogos (page 2 of comments). The exchange between Rev. Roger Sawtelle, an ecological anti-Darwinist, and ‘Eddie,’ a non-IDM IDist (who previously claimed there: “I’ve studied the subject much longer than all but two or three of world’s leading TEs”), is instructive on this point.

    Roger Sawtelle wrote: “God is the Source of the universe, but the universe is not an extension of God or of God’s will as your [Eddie’s] point of view would have it.”

    ‘Eddie’ replied: “An elephant’s trunk is an extension of its body. The natural world is not an extension of God’s body. Orthodox Christian theology has always understood this difference.”

    Roger then stated: “An elephant’s trunk is part of its body, not an extension. If an elephant grips a stick with its trunk, and uses it to knock down a fruit out of a tree, the stick would be an extension of its body.”

    To which Eddie responded: “Let’s not quarrel over the meaning of the word ‘extension’…nature is separate from God…God’s divinity does not ‘extend’ outside himself like a trunk or an antenna.”

    In this case, in light of what Marshall McLuhan has shown us in ‘understanding media:’ the extensions of man, Roger is correct and Eddie-the-IDist is wrong. At least, this can be confirmed in so far as ‘extension’ is part of the (English translated) Biblical text:

    “For this is what the LORD says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream”…” – Isaiah 66:12

    “The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of your enemies!” – Psalm 110:2

    Mary’s song reads:

    “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.” – Luke 1:50

    The same is true with the Qur’an:

    “His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory).” – Al Baqara

    On the other hand, however, the term ‘design’ is rarely used in English language scriptures, though the term ‘designate’ is several times used.

    This is one of the few examples of ‘design’ in the IDM sense:

    Isaiah 14:24 (NRSV): “The LORD of hosts has sworn: As I have designed, so shall it be; and as I have planned, so shall it come to pass.”

    Notably, in other translations, the term ‘designed’ is absent and ‘planned’ or ‘purposed’ is used instead. Thus, to say “nature is separate from God” does little justice to the view that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” and that this was planned or purposed.

    And yet the meaningful distinction now shown, which is being rejected by some folks here at UD between small-id and Big-ID, while others continue to write ‘Intelligent Design’ with capital letters, is also supported by scripture:

    Acts 17:29 (NIV): “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone — an image made by human design and skill.

    This highlights one of ID theory’s greatest problems: univocal predication. But they won’t openly admit this because they want to maintain the deception that their theory has *anything* to do with theology. According to IDist theory, the Creator of ‘nature’ is supposed to ‘speak’ the same language (DNA) as the ‘created.’ We are supposed to ‘infer or detect design’ because we are designed. But that presupposition is hush-hush, kept out of publically duplicitous attempts by the IDM to make all religions equal wrt ‘design arguments’. That attempt is now exposed for what it is.

    In another recent thread/video, Dembski noted that Kant objected to over-extending ‘THE’ design argument. (08:40) It seems, however, that Dembski is under-extending it by disallowing in principle *any* conversation of ‘designer(s)/Designer(s)’ as a condition of trying to appear natural scientistic. Dembski is dehumanising the term ‘design’ by attempting to ‘separate/divorce’ it from human designers. That is what chracteristically defines ID theory and establishes its limits from turning into universal designism.

    The question here for ID theory is simply this: what do the origins of life or ‘biological information’ extend from/to? ID theory so far offers no answer other than some mysterious ‘intelligence/Intelligence,’ without naming embodied or disembodied, transcendental or immanent names.

    It is much easier to speak directly when you know who the small-d designer is. What does this blog message that you are now reading extend from? My name is Gregory, nice to meet you.

  47. Gregory:

    All ID theory aims to discover is Yes or No – that there is design/Design.

    That is false. ID is about the detection and STUDY of design in nature.

    A ‘detective’ would get fired on the first day of the job if he or she were asked about the who, when, where, how and why and simply announced:

    Detectives are NOT scientists and do NOT conduct science. It is the FORENSIC SCIENTISTS who tell the detectives if a crime has been committed. IOW Gregory, your strawman proves that you are clueless- as if I needed more evidence for that.

  48. “Detectives are NOT scientists and do NOT conduct science.”

    Oh, that’s hilarious! It’s like ‘Cheddar Bob’ in Eminem’s “8 Mile” film. Shot oneself in the foot.

    That’s like saying ‘design detection’ is not ‘science.’

    Except, Cheddar Bob doesn’t accuse people of being ‘clueless’ or ‘retards’ so frequently as UD’s ‘Joe’ does, thinking it is classy ‘intelligentreasoning.’

  49. Gregory wrote:

    “Unfortunately, Behe makes a category error when he extends the term ‘design’ from human-made things to the biosphere”

    This is a dogmatic statement. How does Gregory know that it is a category error? It is not a category if living things fall under the category of “designed things.” And how can Gregory say, in advance of the arguments, that living things aren’t properly regarded as designed things?

    Gregory would be better advised to meet Behe’s actual biological arguments than to try to end-run around them by labelling them as based on category errors.

    But speaking of “category errors,” Gregory makes a colossal one in his post 46 above. He quotes the Bible:

    Acts 17:29 (NIV): “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone — an image made by human design and skill.”

    And he uses this passage as evidence that ID people have misapplied the idea of design. But in fact, in the passage quoted, the contrast is between designed images and *God*, whereas ID’s parallel is between designed artifacts and *natural objects* (not God). So Gregory has mixed up the created and the uncreated! The Biblical teaching is in fact that Israel must not liken either artificial or natural objects to *God*. The Bible says nothing at all against likening artificial to natural objects.

    Gregory then writes:

    “This highlights one of ID theory’s greatest problems: univocal predication. But they won’t openly admit this because they want to maintain the deception that their theory has *anything* to do with theology. According to IDist theory, the Creator of ‘nature’ is supposed to ‘speak’ the same language (DNA) as the ‘created.’ We are supposed to ‘infer or detect design’ because we are designed.”

    The last sentence is not a claim of ID theory. ID theory says that human beings can recognize design, not because they are *designed* but because they are *designers*, and have therefore learned to recognize signs of design.

    As for the first sentence, regarding univocal predication, that reminds me of the fact that Gregory has dodged the past several mentions I’ve made of his major difference with Steve Fuller. Fuller thinks that Christian teaching warrants univocal predication, and argues that ID is therefore on sound ground in inferring design in nature; and Gregory repeatedly claims to be a follower of Fuller’s understanding of ID, and tells ID people they should follow Fuller as well; but then, lately, he has endorsed the views of Feser, against ID, which makes no sense, because Feser takes the position opposite Fuller’s, which is that univocal predication is abominable Christian theology and that ID, being based on it, is based on a false picture of God. Gregory has thus endorsed two mutually exclusive theological positions, which does not put him in a very good spot.

    But I don’t expect he will either explain the contradiction, or act logically and come down clearly on either Feser’s or Fuller’s side. Rather, he will cherry-pick statements from Feser and from Fuller, as needed, in order to find something that he can use against ID. Theological coherence? — humbug!

    One of these days, Gregory may shock us all by actually going through Behe’s or Dembski’s or Meyer’s technical arguments for design, and giving them a critique in their own terms. But I’m not holding my breath.

  50. I explained in 40 above why ID is not “dehumanizing.” Gregory has not responded to a single word of my argument there. Does his silence imply consent?

  51. “Detectives are NOT scientists and do NOT conduct science.”

    Gregory:

    Oh, that’s hilarious!

    Facts are hilarious to you? Strange.

    Does Gregory think that detectives are scientists complete with PhDs?

    That’s like saying ‘design detection’ is not ‘science.’

    No, it isn’t. Not even close.

    As I said, Gregory is just a clueless dolt.

  52. Gregory:

    A ‘detective’ would get fired on the first day of the job if he or she were asked about the who, when, where, how and why and simply announced: that’s not part of the ‘real’ ‘design inference’!

    LoL! FIRST someone has to determine there was a crime. Then they would study that design and all relevant evidence to try to answer those questions. And guess what? tat is what ID is about.

    Many crimes are unsolved, Gregory. Does that mean they weren’t actually crimes because we don’t know who, where, when, how and why?

  53. UD shelters ‘clueless dolts!’

    Everyone, clap your hands: “tat is what ID is all about.”

    That’s a Cheddar Bob defense of ID theory!

  54. Gregory:

    UD shelters ‘clueless dolts!’

    Yes, UD shelters you, Gregory. Nice call…

  55. Great, Gregory links to someone who is as clueless as himself and thinks that helps.

    Sweet

  56. 56
    Kantian Naturalist

    A slightly more charitable reading, perhaps, of one important point Timaeus raises in (49): if one wants to accept central tenets of two quite different thinkers — in Gregory’s case, Fuller and Feser — then one is obliged to give an account of how the ideas one has drawn from each are compatible with one another. The point about univocal predication is an important place to really dig in here.

    But it wasn’t clear to me that Gregory is hostile towards univocal predication — his point, I thought, was that design theory has a problem insofar as it both presupposes univocal predication (in order to generate any testable claims about the nature of the designer) and denies that it makes any such presupposition (in order to pass muster as a “natural science”).

    Gregory’s basic point, I take it — based on my own knowledge of Fuller — is that “the intelligent design movement” should be an all-encompassing world-view rather than a domain-restricted scientific theory. Or have I been misinterpreting him?

  57. Does Gregory really think that ID prevents people from trying to figure out who/ what the designer is?

    Does Gregory really think that ID prevents people from trying to answer quations about the design- how, why, where, when and how?

    If so then Gregory is more clueless than I thought…

  58. Once specified complexity tells us that something is designed, there is nothing to stop us from inquiring into its production. A design inference therefore does not avoid the problem of how a designing intelligence might have produced an object. It simply makes it a separate question.- Wm Dembski, “No Free Lunch”, page 112 (ending paragraph started on pg 111)

    And AGAIN:

    In the absence of direct observation or designer input, the only possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer(s) or the specific process(es) used, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.

    THAT is how it is done in archaeology and forensic science.

  59. Kantian Naturalist:

    Gregory’s basic point, I take it — based on my own knowledge of Fuller — is that “the intelligent design movement” should be an all-encompassing world-view rather than a domain-restricted scientific theory. Or have I been misinterpreting him?

    A world-view that can only “see” the “design” in nature through “the eyes of faith.” Sort of like preaching to the choir.

    But Gregory is just wrong, as is evident from the entire history of “the design argument.” Even Dawkins is compelled to admit that living organisms have the appearance of design.

    Design is evident, even to those without faith.

    How can that be?

    T @49 – spot on.

  60. Timaeus’ “why ID is not ‘dehumanizing’” is hilarious. Here we have an actual man (but he doesn’t want you to really know that – he’s just a detached, un-embodied, any-man, ‘rational’ voice!) who is himself dehumanised by his on-line sock-puppetry, claiming that Big-ID theory is not dehumanising, even while he does not defend the objectivistic natural scientificity of Big-ID theory. Now that’s funny! ;)

    “That is not ‘dehumanizing’ — it is simply recognizing where the boundary between the human and the non-human is.” – Timaeus

    So then is ‘ID theory’ qua theory properly about human-made and societal things or not: Yes or No Timaeus? Political theorist John G. West knows the answer clearly. The DI’s Humanities and Social Sciences summer program shut-down because it realised this ‘boundary.’ Religious studies graduate Timaeus, however, seems to cordon this off (it could be, but it isn’t, but it could be, but it isn’t) as a topic for eternal flip-flopping. Just give us a clear answer, will you?

    Timaeus writes “ID is purely concerned with natural sciences, not social sciences or the humanities.” But we don’t really know if he believes this because of his constant flip-flopping. Does he believe this or not? If he does believe it, then ID theory is not at all concerned with human-made things, with artefacts, with societies and communities. How long will it take Timaeus to admit this publically?

    “If he is not calling for the expulsion of natural science from the university on the grounds that it is ‘dehumanizing,’ what exactly is his complaint?” – Timaeus

    Concept theft. Big-ID theorists stole the concept ‘design’ (false transferability) from theology, applied and social sciences, and have been trying to validate it in natural sciences, like biology.

    Give it back to theology/worldview, give it back to human-social sciences, give it back to applied sciences that don’t pretend knowledge about origins of life, origins of biological information or human origins. That would repay justice. The natural scientism of the IDM signals ID theory’s downfall.

    “ID is purely concerned with natural sciences, not social sciences or the humanities.” – Timaeus

    The intellectual trade of the decade: give us back ‘design’ and you can have ‘evolution’ back. We neither want it nor need it in humanities and social sciences. And this will end your claims to misanthropic designism.

    Simply saying that IDists have never tried to over-extend ‘evolution’ into humanities and social sciences is not enough, especially when Dembski is an evolutionist when it comes to technological evolution and when Johnson is an evolutionist when it comes to movements. Behe’s “all humane studies” comment speaks volumes here regarding the presumptuousness of IDism, just like the Wedge Document did.

    “ID is purely concerned with natural sciences, not social sciences or the humanities.” – Timaeus

    Then you can do with American ‘neo-creationism’ whatever you choose; almost half the population believes in a few thousand year-old ‘young’ Earth, but ID theory doesn’t care. Are you not also a ‘creator’ and do you not have any ‘creativity’ worth identifying?

    The USA is so messed up and frankly ‘under-developed’ (tough to swallow, folks) in its popular understanding and philosophy of science anyway. Creationism in the USA has become an industry of its own, mainly for Protestant Christians. And IDM-ID has cleverly capitalised on this industry. This is largely why UD even exists, why there is a forum for us to press ‘Post Comment’.

  61. “But it wasn’t clear to me that Gregory is hostile towards univocal predication — his point, I thought, was that design theory has a problem insofar as it both presupposes univocal predication (in order to generate any testable claims about the nature of the designer) and denies that it makes any such presupposition (in order to pass muster as a “natural science”). “ – Kantian Naturalist

    Yes, that’s pretty much right on.

    Feser, Gingerich, Davis, Barr and others, along with me focus on the IDM’s repeatedly stated requirement that ID theory passes muster as a ‘natural science.’ Without that, there isn’t much novelty beyond the traditional theological ‘design argument.’ And that ID theorists don’t speak openly about univocal predication is a tell-tale sign of duplicity or lack of openness that Fuller is certainly not too shy to expose.

    That’s what happened in the Meyer-Fuller exchange in the U.K. and Meyer (the top PoS person in the IDM) realised ID’s shortcomings, even errors, as currently articulated.

    Feser has entirely debunked the Big-IDist approach of vjtorley, over at his blog. And not much more is required than what’s already been said.

    “Gregory’s basic point, I take it — based on my own knowledge of Fuller — is that “the intelligent design movement” should be an all-encompassing world-view rather than a domain-restricted scientific theory. Or have I been misinterpreting him?” – Kantian Naturalist

    Well, I’d say the IDM is ‘worldview-invested.’ The DI collectively prays in an evangelical Christian way before meals. That is proof in itself. (Not that I’ve got anything against praying, but that it is a sociological fact.)
    IDists here and elsewhere try as hard as they can to appear neutral, objective, religiously uncommitted, read: respectable as either creationists or neo-creationists. But their game has been repeatedly shown for what it is. And the number of creationists here at UD who try to appear as non-creationists is astonishing.

    There was a joke told about how the IDM tries harder than anyone else to disguise its religiosity, even harder than atheists.

    When you meet IDists in person, it is really not hard to tell that their natural scientificity is disguised as apologetics.

    “Sort of like preaching to the choir.” – Mung

    That’s right. Exactly like preaching to the choir! Why do you think ID theory is spread in Protestant churches and through evangelical communication channels? They preach to that choir regularly.

  62. Forensic Scientist: We have concluded that the dead man lying in the street was the victim of foul play.

    Gregory: How do you know that?

    FS: He had twenty-seven stab wounds in his back. Design technology helps us to differentiate between an act of murder and an accidental death. It is not likely that the victim inadvertently backed into the knife twenty seven times.

    G: Who did it?

    FS: At this stage of the investigation, we don’t know.

    G: Your design technology is useless and dehumanizing. Obviously, you have no interest in identifying the murderer. Otherwise, you would not question the connection between the murderer’s motive and his crime.

    FS: I don’t think you understand the methodology. We don’t round up suspects, take fingerprints, or check for means, motive, and opportunity until we know that a murder has been committed. The methodology for selecting the murderer from a number of possible suspects is implemented at a later date and under different circumstances–as is the task of identifying motives. Yes, the results of the murder investigation will provide input for a courtroom trial, but it doesn’t follow that the methods for identifying criminal behavior will be synonymous with the methods for punishing the criminal or protecting his rights. The study of forensic science is related to administration of jurisprudential justice, but the protocol for each will be different.

    G: Your “science only” methodology is a farce. You can’t separate the murderer from his passions any more than you can separate forensic science from courtroom politics or the bio-rhythmic patterns of the presiding judge.

    FS: You are mixing enough apples, oranges, and bananas to make a fruit salad. There is a place for analyzing problems from a big picture perspective, but only after each small piece of the puzzle is understood. One cannot do science without isolating variables. Do you know what it means to isolate a variable?

    G: Even your own mother doesn’t believe you.

    FS: Interestingly, we also have a method for separating rational people from irrational people.

    G: Are you trying to tell me something?

    FS: You don’t want to know.

  63. :) StephenB,,

    speaking of forensic science, have you seen either of these videos yet:

    Jim Warner Wallace (Author of Cold Case Christianity) – God’s Crime Scene – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9zEqyi1c7Q

    Forensic Pathologist Dr. Janis Amatuzio discusses her book “Forever Ours” on Portland’s AM Northwest. – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtnywJHLrLY

    ===============

    Not on topic, but I thought this video was interesting as well:

    Joni – Life After Death – Dr. Jim Garlow – video
    https://www.daystar.com/ondemand/joni-life-after-death-dr-jim-garlow-j906/#.USuPwFd17-9

  64. StephenB, that one was your weakest. Hopefully there won’t be another.

    “Design technology helps us to differentiate between an act of murder and an accidental death.”

    “Design technology” = a figment of StephenB’s imagination. Like the ‘Design Detective’s’ ‘Cause Detector’. Glover’s video is priceless on this topic!

    “What do you mean it’s not science?” -> “A detective who doesn’t solve crimes.”

  65. Kantian:

    Thanks for your suggestion of 56 above.

    I *would* have interpreted Gregory’s statement as you have interpreted it, based on previous statements of Gregory. However, recently he has at least on two occasions criticized ID people for not listening to *Feser* about univocal predication. And I believe that, on at least one of those occasions, I brought up the conflict between Feser and Fuller, and asked Gregory to clarify where he stood. He did not reply. So I thought I would bring it up again now, while term “univocal predication” is on the table.

    Note that Gregory, in his reply to you at 61 above, affirms that Feser has “debunked” Torley. I would need the link to Feser in order to determine whether that debunking involved Feser’s view on univocal predication.

    In any case, I welcome your comment, Kantian, and I now ask Gregory for a clear statement of his own view on univocal predication.

    Gregory, do you think that Fuller is right about univocal predication? And by that I mean, not merely that Fuller is right to assert that ID depends on univocal predication, but that Fuller is right to assert that univocal predication is a legitimate way for Christians to think about God? And the follow-up question: if Fuller is right on this, then Feser must be wrong, so do you reject Feser’s critique of univocal predication?

  66. Gregory:

    My position on ID and social science is nothing sinister, secretive, inconsistent, or difficult.

    1. My view is that ID theory, as articulated by Dembski, Behe, Meyer, etc. has nothing directly to do with the social sciences. It is about detecting design in nature.

    2. I never heard of any DI summer program in the social sciences and humanities until you mentioned it, a while back. I knew that the DI ran summer courses, but I presumed that they introduced people to concepts such as irreducible complexity, DNA-protein linkage, probablistic resources, etc. I was surprised to hear that they had ever ventured into humanities and the social sciences.

    3. I do not know what your “beef” is about the contents of summer program you went through, because you will not describe the program.

    4. *If* the program advertised that it was teaching social sciences and humanities, and that was why you enrolled, and then all it taught was natural sciences, I think you should have asked for your money back. But again, I don’t know how the program was advertised. If you still have the brochure, maybe you could put an image of it up on your website, so we can see it.

    5. I am not in favor of extending ID into the social sciences and humanities. At least, not until someone can show me how that could be done.

    6. The fact that ID limits itself to studying design in nature is not “dehumanizing” any more than the fact that geologists limit themselves to studying rocks rather than the history of music or linguistics. I presume that you would not argue that geology, astronomy, chemistry, etc. automatically “dehumanize” their practitioners.

    7. In fact, it could be argued that by making room for teleology in nature, ID is “rehumanizing” the study of nature, by allowing it to be seen once again as purposive, rather than a blind rush of laws and accidents.

    8. But you apparently don’t *want* nature “rehumanized” in that manner, because, as you have said above, looking for design in nature is a “category error.” So apparently you are *happy* with modern natural science’s self-restriction to non-purposive causation. So I’m puzzled: Do you *want* modern natural science to continue studying nature in a way that has nothing to do with purpose, telos, design, etc.? Do you *want* the study of purpose, telos, design, etc. to be restricted to social sciences and humanities? Or do you count it as a flaw in modern natural science that it can’t deal with purpose, telos, design, etc.?

    These are genuine theoretical questions, Gregory. I’m not trying to trap you. What do you think natural science should do? Should it exclude teleological explanations, and focus only on efficient-cause explanations? And does it have the mandate to speak about origins? Or do origins belong to philosophy or theology? Your critique of modern natural science is unclear to me.

    9. As for one of your criticisms of the misapplication of natural science — the invasion of the social sciences and humanities by the concept of “evolution” – I’ve always been onside with you on that. But what puzzles me, again, is that the Discovery people have frequently pointed out the damage that the concept of “evolution” has done in *human* matters — its contribution to eugenics, genocide, and other things. So I would think you would be praising the DI for drawing the public’s attention to the illegitimate invasion of social/political life by the “evolution” concept. But you give them no credit at all for this. It as if you are so angry with Discovery, that you won’t give them credit even when they do something right.

  67. Gregory

    “Design technology” = a figment of StephenB’s imagination. Like the ‘Design Detective’s’ ‘Cause Detector’. Glover’s video is priceless on this topic!

    The video that Gregory alludes to @64 presents the stupidest strawman argument against ID that I have ever heard. That he would characterize such a simple-minded offering as a refutation indicates that his level of understanding of design detection is so primitive as to be scandalous. I encourage everyone to check out the video. It’s only two minutes long.

    I suspect that the luminaries at the Discovery Institute, after gauging his analytical abilities, wanted to put as much distance between themselves and Gregory as possible. What they probably said was something like this: “I don’t care where you go or what you do, but please do not represent us.” Or, perhaps they just withdrew and hoped that Gregory would choose to be an adversary rather than a friend. Perhaps Gregory can confirm the point.

  68. Wow, StephenB just whipped out his ‘Cause Detector’ and said “Voila – you must be an idiot simply because you reject ID theory!”

    Join the movement! Become a fanatic for ID. The rest of #67 is simply ad hom.

    Look, it’s ‘design technology’ – it’s an I-pad, a computer a GPS tracking system. *Everything* qualifies as an example of ‘Intelligent Design’! Theory be damned, a ‘Design Detective’ will save the day. :P

  69. Gregory:

    that one was your weakest.

    Strange, we have been saying that about Gregory’s posts.

    Hopefully there won’t be another.

    And we keep hoping but Gregory keeps on spewing.

  70. Observe the following exchange:

    “If he is not calling for the expulsion of natural science from the university on the grounds that it is ‘dehumanizing,’ what exactly is his complaint?” – Timaeus

    ‘Concept theft. Big-ID theorists stole the concept ‘design’ (false transferability) from theology, applied and social sciences, and have been trying to validate it in natural sciences, like biology.’ — Gregory

    There is a historical problem with this account. William Paley, in *Natural Theology* (1802), took the notion of “design” and used it to interpret biological phenomena. He treated design as a real cause of the way living things were arranged, in the sense that unguided or unplanned natural processes could not account for such structures, instincts, etc. Now 1802 is somewhat earlier than the founding of the DI, or the writings of Johnson, Thaxton, Denton, etc. So if the “blame” for bringing design ideas into science is to be assigned to someone, it should be to Paley, not to modern ID. And Paley himself had predecessors, in both early modern and ancient times. So it seems to me that Gregory is rejecting not just ID, but the whole tradition of teleological thinking about nature. He seems to be saying that it is just plain wrong to think about nature teleologically. I would like to know if this is his view. I would also like to know the basis of this view — is it philosophical, theological, scientific, or some combination of these?

  71. Gregory:

    Glover’s video is priceless on this topic!

    You do realize that poking fun at an idea isn’t the same thing as disproving it, don’t you? Humor does not an argument make. Priceless humor is subjective, while a priceless argument is not.

    Objectively, the argument is lacking. A better analogy would be a coroner showing up at the scene instead of a detective. After examining the body, the coroner would determine whether the death was accidental, suicide, or homicide. It isn’t the coroner’s job to catch the criminal; that’s the job of a detective. It’s the coroner’s job to figure out cause of death so that we know whether a detective is needed or not. Does this diminish the importance of a coroner and his/her work?

    The two guys at the scene made an inference as to the cause of death. How did they arrive at their conclusion? Was their inference valid? A coroner doesn’t use a device to determine cause of death. What does s/he use then?

  72. Gregory

    Wow, StephenB just whipped out his ‘Cause Detector’ and said “Voila – you must be an idiot simply because you reject ID theory!”

    If I have come to question Gregory’s analytical skills, it is simply because he appears to be incapable of following or advancing a logical argument. Notice here, for example, that he responds to my assessment of a mindless and worthless video (@64) by implying that my only complaint is that it (and Gregory) rejects ID theory.

    Ironically, Gregory depends on this video to make his argument for him since he cannot come up with one on his own. Indeed, he cannot he even summarize the argument that is supposed to be there or tell us why we should car about it. Is it supposed to refute the notion that forensic science uses a design inference to differentiate between murder and accidental death? Evidently not, since it doesn’t even question the validity of process.

    To be sure, I have nothing against cartoons that make a point. It takes a lot of skill to reduce a complex problem to its simplest essence and also make it entertaining. On the other hand, I am not impressed with a simple-minded animation that tries to pass off a contemptuous sneer as a rational argument.

    Look, it’s ‘design technology’ – it’s an I-pad, a computer a GPS tracking system. *Everything* qualifies as an example of ‘Intelligent Design’! Theory be damned, a ‘Design Detective’ will save the day. :P

    The above paragraph is just another emotional outburst searching for a thought. Obviously, it contains no intellectual content. Again, this causes me to wonder if the capacity for rational thought is there at all.

  73. Gregory managed to quote this part of my post:

    “Sort of like preaching to the choir.”

    While completely ignoring the rest:

    A world-view that can only “see” the “design” in nature through “the eyes of faith.”

    But Gregory is just wrong, as is evident from the entire history of “the design argument.” Even Dawkins is compelled to admit that living organisms have the appearance of design.

    Design is evident, even to those without faith.

    How can that be?

  74. Design is evident to those who have faith.

    Yes, we’re very much in agreement!

    Who cares to try to prove Big-D Design other than ID-theorists who say it is only a natural scientific claim?

  75. weak Gregory, very weak. :)

  76. I think it must be fairly obvious to everyone by now that Gregory has very little to offer this forum now. His arguments are rather pointless, and all he seems to be good at is making a bit of a twit of himself.

    I have a distinct feeling that those who Gregory is at odds with are enjoying his efforts, but I can’t help but feel a little bored with it now. Gregory’s arguments are simply taking up too much time and space, and he would be doing everyone a great favour if he was to move on.

    Sorry to be so blunt.

  77. Gregory could be like the goat, sent out into the wilderness bearing the sins of the IDM.

  78. A friend of mine claimed that Behe has backed off the idea of irreducible complexity. Does anyone know if that is the case?

  79. Collin, it’s Big I Big C Irreducible Complexity that Behe’s backed away from, but he still accepts little i little c irreducible complexity.

  80. Polanyi’s image is illuminating and highlights the importance of the human capacity to discern significance. Any such judgment involves at least a degree of intuition. “Our capacity for discerning meaningful aggregates, as distinct from chance aggregates, is an ultimate power of our personal judgment. It can be aided by explicit argument but never determined by it: our final decision will always remain tacit.” The human mind is able to discern patterns within nature, patterns that are laden with significance and meaning. Similarly, the abiding popularity of detective fiction testifies to the human desire to make sense of clues, riddles, and mysteries, and the satisfaction that is derived from their resolution.

    – McGrath, Alister E. A Fine-Tuned Universe

    Sort of puts the lie to Gregory’s claims about ID.

  81. PeterJ (76):

    Gregory has dropped a few hints that he might be leaving us soon. He has alluded to some competition that he has won, and insinuated that it is leading him to some kind of promotion within the academic world which will lift him above the plane where he has to talk to yokels like us. I expect that the moment his new position is confirmed, he will drop us a note telling us: (1) how incompetent we all are to discuss evolution and design, and that he can speak with expertise because he now holds position X at institution Y; (2) that because of his august new position, he will now have time to talk only with important people, and will no longer be able to share his pearls of wisdom with us.

    So you may not have to listen to him for much longer.

  82. 82

    Hi Collin,

    “A friend of mine claimed that Behe has backed off the idea of irreducible complexity. Does anyone know if that is the case?”

    Anything’s possible I suppose. However if Behe ever does so, it will likely be because the notion that, a system which requires n total parts in order to function will cease functioning if it’s reduced to n-1 parts, which is self-evidently true, suddenly ceases to be true. ;)

    He may also back off of IC in the case where it’s demonstrated that a chance process can assemble a system which requires n total parts in order to function, incrementally by combining the parts one at a time in such a way that each step renders the new system superior to the one before it, within the context of a larger system which is self-reproducing, where the measure of superiority is proportional to the larger system’s fecundity.

    There may be other cases where Behe would back away from the concept of IC, but those are the ones that seemed most obvious. Third on the list would be a situation where he agreed to distance himself from IC after receiving terrorist threats to humanity — in other words, to save the world. :)

  83. Chance @ 82
    I can conceive of another plausible reason why Behe (or any design proponent) might back away from IC. Personally, it seems a perfectly legitimate concept and, in a non-biological context, should be uncontroversial. The problem as I see it lies in attempting to prove a negative. In one of the introductory chapters of Darwin’s Black Box Behe makes reference to Darwin’s famous quote to the effect that ‘the discovery of any organ that couldn’t have been formed through numerous, slight, successive, modifications would cause my theory to break down’ (pardon my rocky paraphrase). I applaud Behe’s courage in rising to the challenge, but at the same time realize that his task is effectively impossible. Even after having elucidated the particulars of some obviously IC biological machine, the typical Darwinist response is to sigh with irritation and chide the Darwin skeptic for hastily jumping to conclusions, saying something to the effect of, “It may be complex, but we can’t say that it is impossible for natural selection and mutation to build it. You’re just arguing from personal incredulity!” I’m starting to think that the better way to dispute the causal adequacy of the mutation-selection mechanism is to let the burden of proof properly rest with those who make grandiose claims about its power.

  84. 84

    Hi Optimus,

    I intended the comment at @82 to be humorous, but you raise some interesting points.

    The Darwin quote, as given in Darwin’s Black Box, goes like this:

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” via DBB, Behe, Kindle location 654

    You are absolutely right, that the statement appears to demand the proving of a negative, which is an impossibly high standard from a logical point of view. One could view this as, technically, an immunity from falsification.

    Any contingent occurrence is, by definition, not strictly impossible. However there are many such occurrences that are quite implausible. The argument of irreducible complexity, I believe, provides just cause to do as you suggest, which is to turn the burden of proof on those making the claim that “natural” processes are capable of such feats, by rejecting an impossible standard of falsification. In other words, if no such systems existed, we [the skeptics] would have no reason to protest. That we find such systems in biology demands elucidation of the unguided processes which produce them, if anyone is obligated to believe that such is reasonably possible, i.e., plausible.

    You wrote, “Even after having elucidated the particulars of some obviously IC biological machine, the typical Darwinist response is to sigh with irritation and chide the Darwin skeptic for hastily jumping to conclusions, saying something to the effect of, “It may be complex, but we can’t say that it is impossible for natural selection and mutation to build it. You’re just arguing from personal incredulity!””

    I’m afraid that they can issue similar responses to practically any challenge. In the world of the Darwinist, there simply is no alternative possible cause. They never ask whether Darwinian processes are capable of producing biological sophistication; they apparently can only seek out how such occurred. When choosing between options A and A, A is always the reasonable choice.

    In short, I do not accept that an argument for irreducible complexity necessarily forces us to prove a negative. I think it’s acceptable to take the Darwin quote in it’s reasonable sense, substituting plausible in place of possible, and that we need plausible mechanisms for the technological sophistication observed in nature — the apparent design — of irreducibly complex systems exhibiting specified complexity.

    Of course, Behe may not be currently pursuing further elucidation of IC as the centerpiece of his work. It seems to me that it’s spoken forcefully already. But I think that’s different from “backing away” from it, which carries the connotation of revising one’s opinions about its nature or relevance. Please note that I am speaking without knowledge of Behe’s actual mind on the matter.

  85. Optimus (83):

    Good point. It is rarely possible to prove that something is impossible. Where ID proponents put the emphasis on showing what Darwinian processes can’t do, they invite the rebuttal that all the evidence isn’t in yet. The discovery of the step-by-step pathway to the flagellum may be just around the corner, the Darwinians will say. Thus, Darwin’s reasonable-sounding offer of a means of refuting his theory turns out, in practice, to be almost vacuous.

    To be sure, Behe is generally careful not to say “impossible” — he usually says only that Darwinian construction of new complex machinery is very implausible. But the few times he has said “impossible” or the equivalent, it has come back to haunt him, for the reason you give.

    I like your suggestion that ID people should put the onus on the Darwinians to provide the details of how Darwinian means could construct complex new machinery. In fact, one of the best ID books, and one that is little-read, is Dembski and Wells’s *The Design of Life*, in which the emphasis is exactly that. I highly recommend it (along with Behe’s books and Denton’s books).

  86. Chance @ 84
    Thank you for your comments! Your post was indeed humorous. Hope I didn’t sound overly serious – still need to figure out how to include those emoticons… I too am unsure of Behe’s actual thoughts on the matter, but I do hope he continues with his work. His publicizing of the tremendous complexity present in the cellular environment has immense value.

  87. Collin:

    A friend of mine claimed that Behe has backed off the idea of irreducible complexity. Does anyone know if that is the case?

    What a leading question! Like spreading rumors much?

    What’s the matter with you? Didn’t you watch the video? I could be wrong but I am beginning to suspect that you and Robert Byers are the same person, an atheist plant, an impostor whose job is to make the ID side look stupid. In my opinion, you are not what you pretend to be. You are a weasel. Telling it like I see it.

  88. 88

    “Hope I didn’t sound overly serious…”

    Not at all, only thoughtful. :)

    With great power comes great responsibility.

  89. Timaeus @ 85
    Thanks for your thoughts. I have yet to read the Dembski/Wells book you cited, though I would certainly enjoy doing so. I just recently finished Phil Johnson’s Darwin On Trial and John Lennox’s God’s Undertaker . Lennox himself made the point about the difficulty inherent in the IC approach. I really appreciated hearing him say that, because I’ve always felt a little uncertainty about how strong the argument is. In my view it’s suggestive but not conclusive. It also diverts attention from the positive case for design to negative arguments against Darwinian evolution. I prefer using mechanical complexity or systemic complexity in making a positive case for design, since these terms aren’t inherently negative arguments against Darwinism (which is an incredibly mobile target). That’s why Meyer’s approach is so invigorating. It completely stands on its own without reference to Darwinian processes.

  90. 90

    Optimus @88, I’m not sure how the observation of any sort of complexity navigates one clear of having to prove a negative, whenever we’re dealing with the realm of Darwinian evolution.

    For instance, if we point to specified complexity, are we not inviting a similar rebuttal — that we cannot establish the impossibility of Darwinian mechanisms to produce it, specifically with regard to novel proteins and protein complexes in a self-replicating system? Or by making reference to Meyer, are you perhaps taking your preferred design arguments to the territory of the OOL? If so, then there too we see the need of an irreducibly complex system, a self-replicating one, as a logical predecessor of Darwinian evolution; and so irreducible complexity makes an appearance as a positive indicator of design, not bound to any proclamations of the power of Darwinian evolution, because it necessarily proceeds it. I believe that Upright BiPed frames the semiotic observation in IC terms, but I’m happy to be corrected there.

    So I think it’s possible to take IC as a positive argument, and I think it’s at home in the “indicia of design” arsenal. After all, we see IC systems as the products of intelligent design, and we do not observe them as the result of blind processes, absent any potentially forthcoming empirical evidence, which is, of course, just around the corner. ;)

  91. Chance @ 89

    So I think it’s possible to take IC as a positive argument, and I think it’s at home in the “indicia of design” arsenal. After all, we see IC systems as the products of intelligent design, and we do not observe them as the result of blind processes, absent any potentially forthcoming empirical evidence, which is, of course, just around the corner.

    I agree with you that it is possible to frame IC as a positive argument. Perhaps my difficulty lies more in the way Behe frames his argument in his book. In my reading it seems to rely quite heavily on the limits of the creative power of Darwinian processes. If the argument was formulated in such a manner that more emphasis was put on our abundant empirical knowledge that intelligent agency is causally adequate to account for IC, I think the rhetorical power of the argument would be strengthened. What I meant by alluding to Meyer was not about OOL issues, but rather the way he structures his argument using IBE. In his he book he stresses quite heavily that intelligent agency possesses causal adequacy to acount for CSI. Of course, some negative argumentation is necessary in IBE, as competing hypotheses must be shown to be deficient, granting the remaining hypothesis causal uniqueness and securing it as a reliable inference. However, I would say that this negative argument differs in character from the one Behe makes. Behe’s argument is concerned with showing in principle that Darwinian evolution is impotent in accounting for IC, whereas the IBE approach that Meyer uses emphasizes the present lack of empirical strength of competing explanations. I suppose one could say that Meyer’s IBE approach (drawing on the principle of uniformitarianism) is a little more cautious in making proscriptive statements about the causal power of rival explanations.
    In any case, it’s fair to observe that my mind is hardly set on the matter:-)

  92. Hi Chance,

    You are quite right. IC is alive and well in the semiotic argument. It is not possible to transfer recorded information into specified physical effects without two coordinated arrangements of matter operating in an IC system. This IC system establishes the physicochemically arbitrary relationship which is fundamental to the task.

    This is not an anti-Darwin observation in terms of genetic change over time, it is (as you suggest) a positive indicator of design prior to the onset of Darwinian evolution. It is indeed the very thing that makes Darwinian evolution possible.

    If I interpreted your comment correctly, then I’d like to thank you for the acknowledgement.

  93. 93

    Upright BiPed,

    Yes, you interpreted me correctly, and you’re very welcome. I see your argument as one of the notable lines of evidence that calls attention to the patterns of intelligence observed in living systems, and which provide an empirical hurdle that puts the burden of proof upon those espousing unguided processes as a sufficient cause for apparent design. Thank you for developing it.

  94. 94

    Optimus,

    I like the IBE very much (inference to the best explanation, an abductive argument). It reminds me I need to give SITC a second read, perhaps before Meyer’s next book. I think it’s a good strategy to develop multiple positive arguments for ID, while also calling attention to the real deficiencies of unguided accounts for life’s origin and diversity. After all, ID is attacked on both fronts, with proponents of Darwinian evolution not only proclaiming the power of their theory to account for apparent design, but attempting to negate the positive inferences to design by denying any real comparability to agency (DNA sequences are not codes, systems like motors are not really machines).

  95. 95

    The problem isn’t in the IC or IBE arguments themselves, but rather that they address the reasonable, productive limits of material forces, something that Darwinism proponents ignore out of supposed epistemological necessity. The arguments address something that cannot be up for debate in the Darwinist’s mind, which is why Darwinists have never felt the need to provide an evolutionary metric that describes what Darwinism can and cannot account for. It necessarily accounts for everything, from their perspective.

  96. Gregory @74

    Design is evident to those who have faith.

    Obviously, Gregory still does not understand the difference between “faith-based” methodology and “observation based” methodology. A faith-based inference to design would be a contradiction of terms since it would be assuming the same conclusion that is also alleged to have been arrived at through inductive logic.

  97. OT: A Skeptic’s Journey to Faith (in Oxford) – Carolyn Weber, PhD
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcjqznbzGkI

    Here’s a synopsis of her book ‘Surprised by Oxford’:

    Surprised by Oxford is the memoir of a skeptical agnostic on a surprising journey toward a dynamic personal faith in God. When Carolyn Weber arrived at Oxford for her graduate studies in Romantic literature, she felt no need for God. Her childhood in a broken but loving family taught her to rely on reason and intellect—not faith—for survival. What she didn’t know was that she was about to embark on a love story of her own—one much deeper, more colorful, and more surprisingly God-shaped than any she’d read before.
    From issues of fatherhood, feminism, and doubt to doctrine and love, Weber explores the intricacies of coming to faith with an aching honesty and insight echoing that of the poets and writers she studied. Rich with illustration and literary references, Surprised by Oxford is at once gritty and lyrical; both humorous and spiritually perceptive.
    Organized according to the Oxford Liturgical academic calendar, Surprised by Oxford tells the real-life tale of a young woman’s search for—and eventual discovery of—purpose, identity, faith and what it really means to be human.

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