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A “simple” summing up of the basic case for scientifically inferring design (in light of the logic of scientific induction per best explanation of the unobserved past)

In answering yet another round of G’s talking points on design theory and those of us who advocate it, I have outlined a summary of design thinking and its links onward to debates on theology,  that I think is worth being  somewhat adapted, expanded and headlined.

With your indulgence:

_______________

>> The epistemological warrant for origins science is no mystery, as Meyer and others have summarised. {Let me clip from an earlier post  in the same thread:

Let me give you an example of a genuine test (reported in Wiki’s article on the Infinite Monkeys theorem), on very easy terms, random document generation, as I have cited many times:

One computer program run by Dan Oliver of Scottsdale, Arizona, according to an article in The New Yorker, came up with a result on August 4, 2004: After the group had worked for 42,162,500,000 billion billion monkey-years, one of the “monkeys” typed, “VALENTINE. Cease toIdor:eFLP0FRjWK78aXzVOwm)-‘;8.t” The first 19 letters of this sequence can be found in “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”. Other teams have reproduced 18 characters from “Timon of Athens”, 17 from “Troilus and Cressida”, and 16 from “Richard II”.[24]

A website entitled The Monkey Shakespeare Simulator, launched on July 1, 2003, contained a Java applet that simulates a large population of monkeys typing randomly, with the stated intention of seeing how long it takes the virtual monkeys to produce a complete Shakespearean play from beginning to end. For example, it produced this partial line from Henry IV, Part 2, reporting that it took “2,737,850 million billion billion billion monkey-years” to reach 24 matching characters:

RUMOUR. Open your ears; 9r”5j5&?OWTY Z0d…

Of course this is chance generating the highly contingent outcome.

What about chance plus necessity, e.g. mutations and differential reproductive success of variants in environments? The answer is, that the non-foresighted — thus chance — variation is the source of high contingency. Differential reproductive success actually SUBTRACTS “inferior” varieties, it does not add. The source of variation is various chance processes, chance being understood in terms of processes creating variations uncorrelated with the functional outcomes of interest: i.e. non-foresighted.

If you have a case, make it . . . .

In making that case I suggest you start with OOL, and bear in mind Meyer’s remark on that subject in reply to hostile reviews:

The central argument of my book is that intelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past. First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form).

Notice the terminology he naturally uses and how close it is to the terms I and others have commonly used, functionally specific complex information. So much for that rhetorical gambit.

He continues:

Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power.

Got that?

Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question . . . . In order to [[scientifically refute this inductive conclusion] Falk would need to show that some undirected material cause has [[empirically] demonstrated the power to produce functional biological information apart from the guidance or activity a designing mind. Neither Falk, nor anyone working in origin-of-life biology, has succeeded in doing this . . .}

In effect, on identifying traces from the remote past, and on examining and observing candidate causes in the present and their effects, one may identify characteristic signs of certain acting causes. These, on observation, can be shown to be reliable indicators or signs of particular causes in some cases.

From this, by inductive reasoning on inference to best explanation, we may apply the Newtonian uniformity principle of like causing like.

It so turns out that FSCO/I is such a sign, reliably produced by design, and design is the only empirically grounded adequate cause known to produce such. Things like codes [as systems of communication], complex organised mechanisms, complex algorithms expressed in codes, linguistic expressions beyond a reasonable threshold of complexity, algorithm implementing arrangements of components in an information processing entity, and the like are cases in point.

It turns out that the world of the living cell is replete with such, and so we are inductively warranted in inferring design as best causal explanation. Not, on a priori imposition of teleology, or on begging metaphysical questions, or the like; but, on induction in light of tested, reliable signs of causal forces at work.

And in that context the Chi_500 expression,

Chi_500 = Ip*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold

. . . is a metric that starts with our ability to measure explicit or information content, directly [an on/off switch such as for the light in a room has two possible states and stores one bit, two store two bits . . . ] or by considering the relevant analysis of observed patterns of configurations. It then uses our ability to observe functional specificity (does any and any configuration suffice, or do we need well-matched, properly arranged parts with limited room for variation and alternative arrangement before function breaks] to move beyond info carrying capacity to functionally specific info.

This is actually commonly observed in a world of info technology.

I have tried the experiment of opening up the background file for an empty basic Word document then noticing the many seemingly meaningless repetitive elements. So, I pick one effectively at random, and clip it out, saving the result. Then, I try opening the file from Word again. It reliably breaks. Seeming “junk digits” are plainly functionally required and specific.

But, as we saw from the infinite monkeys discussion, it is possible to hit on functionally specific patterns if they are short enough, by chance. Though, discovering when one has done so can be quite hard. The sum of the random document exercises is that spaces of about 10^50 are searchable within available resources. At 25 ASCII characters, at 7 bits per character, that is about 175 bits.

The proverbial needle in the haystack

The proverbial needle in the haystack

Taking in the fact that for each additional bit used in a system, the config space DOUBLES, the difference between 175 or so bits, and the solar system threshold adopted based on exhausting the capacity of the solar system’s 10^57 atoms and 10^17 s or so, is highly significant. At the {500-bit} threshold, we are in effect only able to take a sample in the ratio of one straw’s size to a cubical haystack as thick as our galaxy, 1,000 light years. As CR’s screen image case shows, and as imagining such a haystack superposed on our galactic neighbourhood would show, by sampling theory, we could only reasonably expect such a sample to be typical of the overwhelming bulk of the space, straw.

In short, we have a very reasonable practical threshold for cases where examples of functionally specific information and/or organisation are sufficiently complex that we can be comfortable that such cannot plausibly be accounted for on blind — undirected — chance and mechanical necessity.

{This allows us to apply the following flowchart of logical steps in a case . . . ladder of conditionals . . .  structure, the per aspect design inference, and on a QUANTITATIVE approach grounded in a reasonable threshold metric model:

The per aspect explanatory filter that shows how design may be inferred on empirically tested, reliable sign

The per aspect explanatory filter that shows how design may be inferred on empirically tested, reliable sign

On the strength of that, we have every epistemic right to infer that cell based life shows signs pointing to design. {For instance, consider how ribosomes are used to create new proteins in the cell:

The step-by-step process of protein synthesis, controlled by the digital (= discrete state) information stored in DNA

The step-by-step process of protein synthesis, controlled by the digital (= discrete state) information stored in DNA

And, in so doing, let us zoom in on the way that the Ribosome uses a control tape, mRNA, to step by step assemble a new amino acid chain, to make a protein:

Step by step protein synthesis in action, in the ribosome, based on the sequence of codes in the mRNA control tape (Courtesy, Wikipedia and LadyofHats)

Step by step protein synthesis in action, in the ribosome, based on the sequence of codes in the mRNA control tape (Courtesy, Wikipedia and LadyofHats)

This can be seen as an animation, courtesy Vuk Nikolic:

embedded by Embedded Video

vimeo Direkt

Let us note the comparable utility of punched paper tape used in computers and numerically controlled industrial machines in a past generation:

Punched paper Tape, as used in older computers and numerically controlled machine tools (Courtesy Wiki & Siemens)

Punched paper Tape, as used in older computers and numerically controlled machine tools (Courtesy Wiki & Siemens)

Given some onward objections, May 4th I add an info graphic on DNA . . .

Fig I.0: DNA as a stored code exhibiting functionally specific complex digital information (HT: NIH)

Fig I.0: DNA as a stored code exhibiting functionally specific complex digital information (HT: NIH)

And a similar one on the implied communication system’s general, irreducibly complex architecture:

A communication system

A communication system. Notice the required arrangement of a set of well-matched, corresponding components that are each necessary and jointly sufficient to achieve function, e.g. coder and decoder, transmitter and receiver, Transmitter, channel and receiver, etc.

In turn,  that brings up the following clip from the ID Foundation series article on Irreducible Complexity, on Menuge’s criteria C1 – 5 for getting to such a system (which he presented in the context of the Flagellum):

But also, IC is a barrier to the usual suggested counter-argument, co-option or exaptation based on a conveniently available cluster of existing or duplicated parts. For instance, Angus Menuge has noted that:

For a working [bacterial] flagellum to be built by exaptation, the five following conditions would all have to be met:

C1: Availability. Among the parts available for recruitment to form the flagellum, there would need to be ones capable of performing the highly specialized tasks of paddle, rotor, and motor, even though all of these items serve some other function or no function.

C2: Synchronization. The availability of these parts would have to be synchronized so that at some point, either individually or in combination, they are all available at the same time.

C3: Localization. The selected parts must all be made available at the same ‘construction site,’ perhaps not simultaneously but certainly at the time they are needed.

C4: Coordination. The parts must be coordinated in just the right way: even if all of the parts of a flagellum are available at the right time, it is clear that the majority of ways of assembling them will be non-functional or irrelevant.

C5: Interface compatibility. The parts must be mutually compatible, that is, ‘well-matched’ and capable of properly ‘interacting’: even if a paddle, rotor, and motor are put together in the right order, they also need to interface correctly.

( Agents Under Fire: Materialism and the Rationality of Science, pgs. 104-105 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004). HT: ENV.)

In short, the co-ordinated and functional organisation of a complex system  is itself a factor that needs credible explanation.

However, as Luskin notes for the iconic flagellum, “Those who purport to explain flagellar evolution almost always only address C1 and ignore C2-C5.” [ENV.]

And yet, unless all five factors are properly addressed, the matter has plainly not been adequately explained. Worse, the classic attempted rebuttal, the Type Three Secretory System [T3SS] is not only based on a subset of the genes for the flagellum [as part of the self-assembly the flagellum must push components out of the cell], but functionally, it works to help certain bacteria prey on eukaryote organisms. Thus, if anything the T3SS is not only a component part that has to be integrated under C1 – 5, but it is credibly derivative of the flagellum and an adaptation that is subsequent to the origin of Eukaryotes. Also, it is just one of several components, and is arguably itself an IC system. (Cf Dembski here.)

Going beyond all of this, in the well known Dover 2005 trial, and citing ENV, ID lab researcher Scott Minnich has testified to a direct confirmation of the IC status of the flagellum:

Scott Minnich has properly tested for irreducible complexity through genetic knock-out experiments he performed in his own laboratory at the University of Idaho. He presented this evidence during the Dover trial, which showed that the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex with respect to its complement of thirty-five genes. As Minnich testified: “One mutation, one part knock out, it can’t swim. Put that single gene back in we restore motility. Same thing over here. We put, knock out one part, put a good copy of the gene back in, and they can swim. By definition the system is irreducibly complex. We’ve done that with all 35 components of the flagellum, and we get the same effect. [Dover Trial, Day 20 PM Testimony, pp. 107-108. Unfortunately, Judge Jones simply ignored this fact reported by the researcher who did the work, in the open court room.]

That is, using “knockout” techniques, the 35 relevant flagellar proteins in a target bacterium were knocked out then restored one by one.

The pattern for each DNA-sequence: OUT — no function, BACK IN — function restored.

Thus, the flagellum is credibly empirically confirmed as irreducibly complex. [Cf onward discussion on Knockout Studies, here.]

The kinematic von Neumann self-replicating machine [vNSR] concept is then readily applicable to the living cell:

jvn_self_replicator

The kinematic vNSR shows how stored coded information on a tape can be used to control a self-replicating automaton, relevant to both paper tape and the living cell

Mignea’s model of minimal requisites for a self-replicating cell [speech here], are then highly relevant as well:

self_replication_mignea

Mignea’s schematic of the requisites of kinematic self-replication, showing duplication and arrangement then separation into daughter automata. This requires stored algorithmic procedures, descriptions sufficient to construct components, means to execute instructions, materials handling, controlled energy flows, wastes disposal and more. (Source: Mignea, 2012, slide show as linked; fair use.)

HT CR, here’s a typical representation of cell replication through Mitosis:

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

And, we may then ponder Michael Denton’s reflection on the automated world of the cell, in his foundational book, Evolution, a Theory in Crisis (1986):

To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometers in diameter [[so each atom in it would be “the size of a tennis ball”] and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometer in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell.
We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines . . . . We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices used for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction . . . . However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equaled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours . . . .
Unlike our own pseudo-automated assembly plants, where external controls are being continually applied, the cell’s manufacturing capability is entirely self-regulated . . . .[[Denton, Michael, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Adler, 1986, pp. 327 – 331. This work is a classic that is still well worth reading. Emphases added. (NB: The 2009 work by Stephen Meyer of Discovery Institute, Signature in the Cell, brings this classic argument up to date. The main thesis of the book is that: "The universe is comprised of matter, energy, and the information that gives order [[better: functional organisation]  to matter and energy, thereby bringing life into being. In the cell, information is carried by DNA, which functions like a software program. The signature in the cell is that of the master programmer of life.” Given the sharp response that has provoked, the onward e-book responses to attempted rebuttals, Signature of Controversy, would also be excellent, but sobering and sometimes saddening, reading.) ]}

An extension of this, gives us reason to infer that body plans similarly show signs of design. And, related arguments give us reason to infer that a cosmos fine tuned in many ways that converge on enabling such C-chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life on habitable terrestrial planets or similarly hospitable environments, also shows signs of design.

Not on a prioi impositions, but on induction from evidence we observe and reliable signs that we establish inductively. That is, scientifically.

Added, May 11: Remember, this focus on the cell is in the end because it is the root of the Darwinist three of life and as such origin of life is pivotal:

The Smithsonian's tree of life model, note the root in OOL

The Smithsonian’s tree of life model, note the root in OOL

Multiply that by the evidence that there is a definite, finitely remote beginning to the observed cosmos, some 13.7 BYA being a common estimate, and 10 – 20 BYA a widely supported ballpark. That says, it is contingent, has underlying enabling causal factors, and so is a contingent, caused being.

All of this to this point is scientific, with background logic and epistemology.

Not theology, revealed or natural.

It owes nothing to the teachings of any religious movement or institution.

However, it does provide surprising corroboration to the statements of two apostles who went out on a limb philosophically by committing the Christian faith in foundational documents to reason/communication being foundational to observed reality, our world. In short the NT concepts of the Logos [John 1, cf Col 1, Heb 1, Ac 17] and that the evident, discernible reality of God as intelligent creator from signs in the observed cosmos [Rom 1 cf Heb 11:1 - 6, Ac 17 and Eph 4:17 - 24], are supported by key findings of science over the past 100 or so years.

There are debates over timelines and interpretations of Genesis, as well there would be.

They do not matter, in the end, given the grounds advanced on the different sides of the debate. We can live with Gen 1 – 11 being a sweeping, often poetic survey meant only to establish that the world is not a chaos, and it is not a product of struggling with primordial chaos or wars of the gods or the like. The differences between the Masoretic genealogies and those in the ancient translation, the Septuagint, make me think we need to take pause on attempts to precisely date creation on such evidence. Schaeffer probably had something right in his suggestion that one would be better advised to see this as describing the flow and outline of Biblical history rather than a precise, sequential chronology. And that comes up once we can see how consistently reliable the OT is as reflecting its times and places, patterns and events, even down to getting names right.

Strawman

A Strawman

So, debating Genesis is to follow a red herring and go off to pummel a strawman smeared with stereotypes and set up for rhetorical conflagration. A fallacy of distraction, polarisation and personalisation. As is too often found as a habitual pattern of objectors to design theory.

What is substantial is the evidence on origins of our world and of the world of cell based life in the light of its challenge to us in our comfortable scientism.

And, in that regard, we have again — this is the umpteenth time, G; and you have long since worn out patience and turning the other cheek in the face of personalities, once it became evident that denigration was a main rhetorical device at work — had good reason to see that design theory is a legitimate scientific endeavour, regardless of rhetorical games being played to make it appear otherwise.>>

_______________

In short, it is possible to address the design inference and wider design theory without resort to ideologically loaded debates. And, as a first priority, we should. END

______________

PS: In support of my follow up to EA at 153 below, at 157, it is worth adding (May 8th) the Trevors-Abel diagram from 2005 (SOURCE), contrasting the patterns of OSC, RSC and FSC:

osc_rsc_fsc

Figure 4: Superimposition of Functional Sequence Complexity onto Figure 2. The Y1 axis plane plots the decreasing degree of algorithmic compressibility as complexity increases from order towards randomness. The Y2 (Z) axis plane shows where along the same complexity gradient (X-axis) that highly instructional sequences are generally found. The Functional Sequence Complexity (FSC) curve includes all algorithmic sequences that work at all (W). The peak of this curve (w*) represents “what works best.” The FSC curve is usually quite narrow and is located closer to the random end than to the ordered end of the complexity scale. Compression of an instructive sequence slides the FSC curve towards the right (away from order, towards maximum complexity, maximum Shannon uncertainty, and seeming randomness) with no loss of function.

 

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198 Responses to A “simple” summing up of the basic case for scientifically inferring design (in light of the logic of scientific induction per best explanation of the unobserved past)

  1. I have thought that it is useful to headline a summary of what the design inference is about as a scientific inductive exercise, given recent clouding of issues and polarisation. KF

  2. Good. Hold their feet to the fire.

  3. OT: “The brain of a small fruit fly uses energy in the micro-watts for complex flight control and visual information processing to find and fly to food. I don’t think a supercomputer could yet simulate what the fruit fly brain does even while using megawatts of energy. The difference of over ten orders of magnitude and the level of energy used is an indication of just how incredible biological systems are.
    Professor Keiichi Namba, Osaka University
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....48#t=1645s

  4. Stop deceiving. ‘Design theory’ differs from ‘Intelligent Design Theory’ (IDT). Most ‘design theorists’ reject IDT. Reality check.

    Write ‘Intelligent Design Theory’ and not ‘design theory.’ That is what you mean to say and propagate anyway.

    The IDM (meaning DI leaders) has attempted to appropriate ‘design theory’ for itself. But IDists will obviously lose this attempt to be loved for what they are not.

  5. Gregory:

    You have now come here and out of the gate you are making unwarranted personal attacks, instead of engaging issues on the merits.

    Don’t you see what that tells the world about your attitude?

    I suggest that you focus on the substantial issue on the table, the one of primary interest to design thinkers and ordinary people not caught up in a weird world in which id means one thing and ID another but both in the end are rooted in an a priori theological commitment rather than empirical science. Neither of your options as they come across — most of the time? — is acceptable.

    Can you show good reason to reject the argument above, by giving a counter example, as you boasted of recently? Or otherwise answering on merits?

    If not, your bluff has been successfully called.

    KF

  6. The problem I and many have with ID is that I have never heard anyone specify who or what a designer is.

    ________
    F/N, Jun 4, excerpting IOSE cites:

    A: >>We know from experience that intelligent agents build intricate machines that need all their parts to function [[--> i.e. he is specifically discussing "irreducibly complex" objects, structures or processes for which there is a core group of parts all of which must be present and properly arranged for the entity to function (cf. here, here and here)], things like mousetraps and motors. And we know how they do it — by looking to a future goal and then purposefully assembling a set of parts until they’re a working whole. Intelligent agents, in fact, are the one and only type of thing we have ever seen doing this sort of thing from scratch. In other words, our common experience provides positive evidence of only one kind of cause able to assemble such machines. It’s not electricity. It’s not magnetism. It’s not natural selection working on random variation. It’s not any purely mindless process. It’s intelligence . . .>> [[William Dembski and Jonathan Witt, Intelligent Design Uncensored: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to the Controversy, pp. 20-21, 53 (InterVarsity Press, 2010). HT, CL of ENV & DI.]

    B: >>. . . (1) A designer conceives a purpose. (2) To accomplish that purpose, the designer forms a plan. (3) To execute the plan, the designer specifies building materials and assembly instructions. (4) Finally, the designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials.>> ([Dembski,] No Free Lunch, p. xi. HT: ENV.)

    C: >>The central argument of my book is that intelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past. First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form). Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power. Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question . . . . In order to [[scientifically refute this inductive conclusion] Falk would need to show that some undirected material cause has [[empirically] demonstrated the power to produce functional biological information apart from the guidance or activity a designing mind. Neither Falk, nor anyone working in origin-of-life biology, has succeeded in doing this . . .>> [S. Meyer, response to a hostile review of his key 2009 Design Theory book, Signature in the Cell.]

    –KF

    If tomorrow it is found that quantum physics or chaos theory or whatever can explain evolution that is not random but is inherently traveling toward creating intelligent life, would that satisfy ID?

    For those believing in evolution, if tomorrow it is found that quantum physics has proven that consciousness (or ultimate Consciousness) guides evolution to a specific goal of intelligent life I think they would accept it and modify evolution to encompass the new findings. It would be incorporated into the theory of evolution. Until that is shown, (and it may be) they sit pat, waiting. (The problem they have is that biology hasn’t yet advanced into quantum mechanics). Many scientists (mostly physicists) have come to the conclusion that consciousness is at the base of the universe (and evolution) but they are not ready to call it God. Consciousness as a primal force can explain everything without thinking of it as a Biblical God but as a force of the universe. Would ID be OK with that?

  7. 7
    Chance Ratcliff

    KF, fantastic OP. Thanks. This video on cell mitosis is an interesting parallel to your figure on Requisites on Self-replication. It shows the steps in the cell cycle, specifically all the stages of mitosis. It’s a wonder of technological sophistication and expresses the requirements of the above-highlighted self-replicator. Your diagram reminded me of this.

  8. Billmaz

    If consciousness is at the heart of the universe then ID is right, because consciousness goes hand in hand with an intelligent mind.

    ID does not know or care who the designer is, that is a philosophical question to ponder on not a scientific one.

    Lastly you spoke suggested that quantum mechanics might be responsible and even though that might be, stop and as yourself, where did the laws of quantum mechanics come from?

  9. Apologies for the bad spelling, have a new tablet with new auto correcting….

  10. 10
    Chance Ratcliff

    Hi billmaz, here’s my take on your comments.

    “The problem I and many have with ID is that I have never heard anyone specify who or what a designer is.”

    Identifying the designer of anything succeeds design detection. ID theory is about design detection. Subsequent speculations, theological arguments, or philosophical proofs about the identity of the designer are not part of the ID methodology.

    “If tomorrow it is found that quantum physics or chaos theory or whatever can explain evolution that is not random but is inherently traveling toward creating intelligent life, would that satisfy ID?”

    ID is compatible with any scientific theory, theological view, or philosophical position that does not in principle deny that intelligent design can be objectively detected by noting certain features of the object in question. If it were discovered that a necessity mechanism existed which could produce observed biological nanotechnology without direct reference to an intelligent cause it would falsify the biological design inference.

    “For those believing in evolution, if tomorrow it is found that quantum physics has proven that consciousness (or ultimate Consciousness) guides evolution to a specific goal of intelligent life I think they would accept it and modify evolution to encompass the new findings.”

    If consciousness was shown to be directly implicated in the creation and subsequent diversification of life, it would validate ID and falsify any unguided, undirected hypotheses, such as Darwinian evolution.

    “Many scientists (mostly physicists) have come to the conclusion that consciousness is at the base of the universe (and evolution) but they are not ready to call it God. Consciousness as a primal force can explain everything without thinking of it as a Biblical God but as a force of the universe. Would ID be OK with that?”

    Since ID methodology makes no pretense about identifying the designer, it would be compatible with any design hypothesis that invokes a designing intelligence, regardless of whether or not the intelligence is the Biblical God. There might be philosophical problems with attributing intelligence to a “force” however. ID wouldn’t have anything to say about that in reference to its methodology.

  11. Billmaz:

    Could you let us know how you composed the above post as a series of statements in more or less grammatically correct and meaningful English, and submitted it?

    You used 1,098 characters in 189 words.

    That many ASCII characters comes from a configuration space of 5.64 * 10^2,294 possibilities. The atomic and temporal resources of our observed cosmos, without intelligent direction [i.e. acting by blind chance and mechanical necessity], could not begin to sample enough of the space to plausibly hit on a remotely similar message to the above. And yet you, an intelligent designer tossed it off in doubtless a few minutes.

    That difference in capacity which we routinely experience, observe and practice, brings up the first part of your answer.

    Namely, we know and understand design from the inside, it is an undeniable reality. So, we first study it empirically and by recognising commonplace, characteristic features. Without any need whatsoever to enter into metaphysical assumptions and assertions. Beyond, the undeniable, rooted in plain old fashioned common sense: we live in a cosmos where intelligent designers are possible, are actual, and exhibit characteristic patterns of behaviour that we may reasonably cluster under labels such as intelligence and design.

    And, what do we summarise?

    Things like these, from UD’s glossary, which at any time you could have found on the UD resources tab top of this and every UD page or post:

    INTELLIGENCE: >>Intelligence – Wikipedia aptly and succinctly defines: “capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn.”>>

    CHANCE, CONTINGENCY, NECESSITY & DESIGN: >> Chance – undirected contingency. That is, events that come from a cluster of possible outcomes, but for which there is no decisive evidence that they are directed; especially where sampled or observed outcomes follow mathematical distributions tied to statistical models of randomness. (E.g. which side of a fair die is uppermost on tossing and tumbling then settling.)

    Contingency – here, possible outcomes that (by contrast with those of necessity) may vary significantly from case to case under reasonably similar initial conditions. (E.g. which side of a die is uppermost, whether it has been loaded or not, upon tossing, tumbling and settling.). Contingent [as opposed to necessary] beings begin to exist (and so are caused), need not exist in all possible worlds, and may/do go out of existence.

    Necessity — here, events that are triggered and controlled by mechanical forces that (together with initial conditions) reliably lead to given – sometimes simple (an unsupported heavy object falls) but also perhaps complicated — outcomes. (Newtonian dynamics is the classical model of such necessity.) In some cases, sensitive dependence on [or, “to”] initial conditions may leads to unpredictability of outcomes, due to cumulative amplification of the effects of noise or small, random/ accidental differences between initial and intervening conditions, or simply inevitable rounding errors in calculation. This is called “chaos.”

    Design — purposefully directed contingency. That is, the intelligent, creative manipulation of possible outcomes (and usually of objects, forces, materials, processes and trends) towards goals. (E.g. 1: writing a meaningful sentence or a functional computer program. E.g. 2: loading of a die to produce biased, often advantageous, outcomes. E.g. 3: the creation of a complex object such as a statue, or a stone arrow-head, or a computer, or a pocket knife.) >>

    INTELLIGENT DESIGN: >> Intelligent design [ID] – Dr William A Dembski, a leading design theorist, has defined ID as “the science that studies signs of intelligence.” That is, as we ourselves instantiate [thus exemplify as opposed to “exhaust”], intelligent designers act into the world, and create artifacts. When such agents act, there are certain characteristics that commonly appear, and that – per massive experience — reliably mark such artifacts. It it therefore a reasonable and useful scientific project to study such signs and identify how we may credibly reliably infer from empirical sign to the signified causal factor: purposefully directed contingency or intelligent design. Among the signs of intelligence of current interest for research are:

    [a] FSCI — function-specifying complex information [e.g. blog posts in English text that take in more than 143 ASCII characters, and/or -- as was highlighted by Yockey and Wickens by the mid-1980s -- as a distinguishing marker of the macromolecules in the heart of cell-based life forms], or more broadly

    [b] CSI — complex, independently specified information [e.g. Mt Rushmore vs New Hampshire's former Old Man of the mountain, or -- as was highlighted by Orgel in 1973 -- a distinguishing feature of the cell's information-rich organized aperiodic macromolecules that are neither simply orderly like crystals nor random like chance-polymerized peptide chains], or

    [c] IC – multi-part functionality that relies on an irreducible core of mutually co-adapted, interacting components. [e.g. the hardware parts of a PC or more simply of a mousetrap; or – as was highlighted by Behe in the mid 1990's -- the bacterial flagellum and many other cell-based bodily features and functions.], or

    [d] “Oracular” active information – in some cases, e.g. many Genetic Algorithms, successful performance of a system traces to built-in information or organisation that guides algorithmic search processes and/or performance so that the system significantly outperforms random search. Such guidance may include oracles that, step by step, inform a search process that the iterations are “warmer/ colder” relative to a performance target zone. (A classic example is the Weasel phrase search program.) Also,

    [e] Complex, algorithmically active, coded information – the complex information used in systems and processes is symbolically coded in ways that are not preset by underlying physical or chemical forces, but by encoding and decoding dynamically inert but algorithmically active information that guides step by step execution sequences, i.e. algorithms. (For instance, in hard disk drives, the stored information in bits is coded based a conventional, symbolic assignment of the N/S poles, forces and fields involved, and is impressed and used algorithmically. The physics of forces and fields does not determine or control the bit-pattern of the information – or, the drive would be useless. Similarly, in DNA, the polymer chaining chemistry is effectively unrelated to the information stored in the sequence and reading frames of the A/ G/ C/ T side-groups. It is the coded genetic information in the successive three-letter D/RNA codons that is used by the cell’s molecular nano- machines in the step by step creation of proteins. Such DNA sets from observed living organisms starts at 100,000 – 500,000 four-state elements [200 k – 1 M bits], abundantly meriting the description: function- specifying, complex information, or FSCI.)>>

    That is, without getting into an endless hall of mirrors of iterative demands for precising exact descriptions, design and intelligence behind it can be empirically studied, characterised, modelled, measured in some cases or aspects and inferred on from known to unknown cases.

    Just in case you want to pull the demand for endorsement by a major ID thinker gambit, here is Dembski in NFL, as has long been clipped in the IOSE Intro-Summary page, towards the end of Section A:

    . . . (1) A designer conceives a purpose. (2) To accomplish that purpose, the designer forms a plan. (3) To execute the plan, the designer specifies building materials and assembly instructions. (4) Finally, the designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials. (No Free Lunch, p. xi. HT: ENV.)

    Now if the cosmos were set up — programmed — to generate life and then to feed in information that is well beyond the reach of chance, non foresighted processes so that cell based life, ecosystems and intelligent, cell based organisms were driven from the ground up, that would be an astonishing demonstration of design. Starting from the setting up of the cosmos. You need to understand that a much more modest design inference on fine tuning that FACILITATES conditions that permit life, has met with very serious hostility. Precisely because it is not committed to a priori evolutionary materialism (or at least things not effectively distinct from it.)

    I need to remind you of Provine’s words at the U Tenn Darwin Day events in 1998:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . . [Evolution: Free Will and Punishment and Meaning in Life, Second Annual Darwin Day Celebration Keynote Address, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, February 12, 1998 (abstract).]

    Lewontin’s words in his Jan 1997 NYRB review are even more blatant, and — as he says, reflect a wide “consensus” of a dominant ideology:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . . the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[--> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[--> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [Cf clip here. If you think these words are quote-mined or unrepresentative, kindly read the fuller clip and comments as well as other remarks cited.]

    That’s what ideological commitment looks like.

    In short, this is a serious case of ideologically driven question begging that needs to be reformed.

    ID thinker Philip Johnson has aptly replied to Lewontin:

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

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

    KF

  12. CR: Vid added, just scroll up. Thanks. KF

  13. Gregory:

    Waaait just a minute. You say:

    The IDM (meaning DI leaders) has attempted to appropriate ‘design theory’ for itself.

    Yet on the other thread just recently you argued that Dembski makes a clear distinction between ‘intelligent design’ and ‘design.’ So are you saying the DI leaders (whoever they are) are not following Dembski’s lead?

    And in what way do you think DI leaders have tried to appropriate design theory? Is it because they observe that design detection can operate across multiple fields? They certainly aren’t claiming that everyone must look to intelligent design theory for an understanding of engineering and design principles. Indeed, it is quite the other way around, observation of engineering and design principles can help strengthen the inference to design.

    So in what way are they appropriating design theory?

  14. Billmaz:

    Andre, Chance and kf have given some good answers.

    I would just highlight that even with your quantum idea you still run up against the question of whether the design came about by necessity by chance or by intelligence. Whatever quantum “cause” is discovered at some future date must fall into one of those categories. So if there is an identified cause that is either one of necessity (life is driven toward a particular goal) or chance (more randomness at the quantum level), then we would not have any need to invoke design.

    I should add that the idea of necessity fails, I believe, right out of the gate. We have discussed before some reasons why (necessity is anathema to information generation and storage; there are lots of exceptions and quirks in biology; etc.). So at the end of the day, whatever “quantum cause” someone thinks they have found will likely just boil down to another level of chance at the quantum level. And we’ve already seen that chance doesn’t have a prayer of producing biological novelty within the resources and timeframe of the known universe.

    Ultimately, it is not at all clear to me what naturalistic quantum ideas can bring to the table regarding origins.* In most cases, it is just another last-ditch example of the evolutionary promissory note which says: “Just wait. Eventually we’ll find some evidence that shows how all this came about through purely natural causes.”

    —–

    * Note: Principles of quantum mechanics can definitely be used in designing molecular machines. We are starting to see evidence (as ba77 reminds us nearly every day) of quantum principles being used in certain areas of biology. But utilizing quantum mechanics in one’s design is very different from saying the quantum principles themselves caused the design. Brings us back to the point of necessary vs. sufficient conditions.

  15. Thank you for your responses.

    I agree that the ultimate questions of who created the quantum mechanics rules and the general rules of math and physics lead us to either a conscious intelligence or (less likely for me) an “it’s always been there” hypothesis.

    I reject pure materialism. Some of the many quotes I have in my blog billmaz.com represent my thought:

    British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington (5) said that “physics is the study of the structure of consciousness. The ‘stuff’ of the world is mindstuff.” In the same article Max Planck, the “father” of quantum physics, is quoted as having stated, “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear-headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as the result of my research about the atoms, this much: There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together … We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.”

    And again,

    Rosenblum quotes Pascual Jordan, a physicist who was involved in founding quantum theory: “Observations not only disturb what is to be measured, they produce it. We compel [the particle] to assume a definite position.”

    So, in answer to Eric Anderson, quantum mechanics shows that consciousness creates reality. It is not just chance. The probability wave is there, but who or what makes the choice we actually observe? QM hasn’t answered that question yet.

    The question of ID for me is whether God or Consciousness simply created the laws of physics and the forces of natural selection (the fittest do survive better!) and then stopped there, letting the forces do their work, or whether there is an Intelligence at work on a constant basis guiding the development of life and the universe as a whole. Quantum physics says that consciousness needs to be there in order for anything to exist in a definite form. It says nothing (yet) of how the choice is made by either our consciousness or the Ultimate Consciousness regarding which reality we live in.

    It is disingenuous for ID to say that it doesn’t concern itself with who or what the designer is. It can only be God (I can’t believe that aliens have a role here since they have to be designed too). I don’t happen to believe in a personal God, though I pray all the time, just in case, and am repeatedly reminded of its futility. In the same vein, I don’t see a God intervening in the fates of man or the planet. But things may be subtle, I grant you that, so I can never say God is not present. If He is present, though, the evidence of eons of extinct species, close similarities between extinct and present species, (morphologically, genetically, etc.) sure makes us believe that He just let the forces roll without intervention. The arguments that I hear from ID that these similarities are just God’s way of using the same constructs over and over again for new species sound blatantly hollow. You can’t seriously believe that as a rational human being, never mind a scientist. So what is the answer? All of this evidence has to be explained by ID.

    I am a doctor and a novelist. In my yet unpublished novel (soon to be), The Daedalus Project, http://billmaz.com/,I started with the question “What if Intelligent Design were true?” Then I used the scientific thriller genre to bring to light what the ramifications, and the possible science behind this hypothesis, would mean. I’m not telling you this to advertise my novel (a white lie), just to let you know that I have put a great deal of thought into this question and believe there is more to evolution than what we think we understand.

    But the questions arising from accepting ID are profound and vast. Why would God set up a system of “guided evolution” in the first place? Why not just create whatever species He wanted? What is the purpose of allowing untold species to become extinct? Why set up a system based on one organism feeding on the body of another? A system of disease and predation? A system of competition where it is clear that the fittest do survive better. A system of constant death and rebirth.

    Yes, yes, I know, ID doesn’t deal with these questions. It just deals with design detection. But you can’t just leave it there. If you invoke an intelligence, you have to at least propose some valid hypothesis of what and who this intelligence is, or, at the very least, of how such an advanced intelligence can be involved in creating such UNintelligent organisms (in terms of their structure and function). If I were to design a human I’d do a much better job of it, (at least in its general design, not in the molecular mechanisms involved, obviously) and so would you. Why put the respiratory orifice (the trachea) next to the digestive orifice (the esophagus) for example, and cause untold chocking every year? Why make the heart a linear system (and thus subject to breakdown) rather than a parallel one? Why have an inadequate immune system, or one that turns on its owner (autoimmune disease). Why have cancer and all the other diseases of an inadequate genome? Why have disease at all? And so on. There are hundreds, thousands of these examples.

    If ID wants to be taken seriously, it has to do more than just detect intelligence. It has to have a grander vision. And I am still waiting for it. Because, you know, all of us want to be part of a Grand Scheme in which we actually are immortal and are part of a larger, grander picture. We all, and I include the atheists, even if they can’t admit it, crave God to exist. But He sure is making it difficult.

  16. 16
    Chance Ratcliff

    billmaz,

    “It is disingenuous for ID to say that it doesn’t concern itself with who or what the designer is.”

    It’s not disingenuous at all. It follows directly from ID methodology, which deals with properties of the effects of intelligence, not the identity of the designing intelligence.

    One might say that ID should extend to a broader territory, but that’s a subjective opinion. The objective fact is that ID is about detecting design, and doesn’t concern itself with identifying the designer. Such a pursuit requires certain philosophical and theological methodologies, which are not employed in design detection.

    “It can only be God…”

    That is an implication of the presence of design in the universe and living systems which follows from the inference to design. It is never considered in the approach to design detection. This distinction isn’t just convenient, it follows logically. Ignoring this distinction is a fallacy which has been referred to as, confusing a theory with its implications.

    “Yes, yes, I know, ID doesn’t deal with these questions. It just deals with design detection. But you can’t just leave it there.”

    Again, this is subjective. One may opt to follow up on design detection by asking questions which follow from the conclusion of intelligent causation, but this is in no way part of the design detection methodology.

    This type of sentiment is not entirely uncommon at UD. Some people believe that Intelligent Design Theory should really be more than it is, or something different entirely. That doesn’t actually challenge the premise that IDT is about detecting design, and not about larger philosophical or theological questions which can logically follow as a result.

    Many of your other comments require theological responses.

  17. If I were to design a human I’d do a much better job of it, (at least in its general design, not in the molecular mechanisms involved, obviously) and so would you.

    Nonsense.

    No-one, and I mean no-one, has ever proposed an engineering level assessment of how this or that biological system could be improved. At most, we get vague hand-waving proposals for how something could be more “perfect.” But as soon as we start asking for details about what would actually be involved in re-engineering a particular system, we are treated to silence or vague generalities. Further, we are regularly finding out that systems previously alleged to be suboptimal in fact incorporate exquisite and creative design principles. The ‘bad design’ or ‘suboptimal design’ line of complaint against intelligent design has an extremely poor track record.

    To be sure, there are implications flowing from the design inference. But it is simply false to say that ID needs to “have a grander vision” of the creator and all the “why’s”.

    If you are interested in going there, great. But it is not an obligation of ID proper to go there. ID is not failing because it refuses to wade into all the metaphysical implications of design detection. Indeed, I regard as one of ID’s primary strengths the fact that it refuses to engage in subjective and questionable speculations about the identity or intent or motives of the designer.

  18. 18
    Chance Ratcliff

    billmaz, let me give you my personal take on some other things you mentioned.

    “…all of us want to be part of a Grand Scheme in which we actually are immortal and are part of a larger, grander picture. We all, and I include the atheists, even if they can’t admit it, crave God to exist. But He sure is making it difficult.”

    First one might take the forward path to general theism. There are many arguments in favor of it, and those against it are rather weak, imo. If one can accept the design inference, especially with regard to cosmological ID, then taking the next step to theism — believing in an eternal, omnipotent God — is straightforward. Once a person accepts theism, it’s necessary to examine the competing claims of various religions, determining which if any has the most evidence in its favor.

    As a Christian, I would suggest a different route. Jesus said,

    “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” – John 14:6

    This is a strong claim that nobody can know or approach God without Jesus Christ.

    He also said,

    “I and the Father are one.” – John 10:30

    Here Jesus claims equality with God. The apostle Paul expands on this claim:

    “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.” — Colossians 1:15-23

    Moreover, nobody can accept the Son unless the Father allows it:

    “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” — John 6:44

    It takes an act of your will, and thereby an act of faith to open the door.

    “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

    I would highly recommend a sincere and humble prayer asking God to reveal the truth of Jesus Christ to you. Make sure you invoke that name, since He is the focus of this specific search for truth. I believe God will answer this prayer if it’s made in earnest.

    Here is the gospel message. You are a sinner separated from God by your sin — lies, theft, dishonoring parents and God, sexual immorality, and so on — but God is not only perfectly just, he is perfectly loving. So he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a Roman cross in your place, suffering the death that you and we all deserve, paying the penalty for your sin Himself. Three days later he was raised from the dead, claiming victory over death and fulfilling the prophecies that were written of Him. If you believe this, you will be saved, and enter a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

    For many of us believers this process began with the sincere prayer that I mentioned above. This act of your will asks God to reveal the truth about his Son.

    Also, it’s a good idea to read the words yourself. Start reading the Gospel of John, which comes after Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Consider carefully the claims of Jesus, and be willing to ask yourself honestly, “What if his claims are true?” Also pray. If you ask God to show you the truth contained in the gospel, I believe you’ll be answered.

  19. Chance,

    “It’s not disingenuous at all. It follows directly from ID methodology, which deals with properties of the effects of intelligence, not the identity of the designing intelligence.”

    I’m sorry, but I think that your idea is self-restrictive in order for you not to be placed in a position to take a “religious” point of view. If quantum mechanics says that consciousness is required to “collapse” a wave function, physicists go forward (as they have) and try to define consciousness (which they’ve tried to do, unsuccessfully) in order to get to the bottom of things. You don’t just stop at one point and say “That’s all I’m trying to prove, that intelligence is the source of evolution” without going forward to research and try to define what this intelligence is. That is the scientific (and I dare say, the human) quest. I understand, because of the criticism involved, that you want to stay away from the implications of ID, but these implications are not just philosophical, they are real, and they are scientific. It goes to the heart of ID.

    Eric, with all due respect, and I mean that, you have to be kidding me. I have given you several examples of how I would improve the human organism. The human genome is imperfect, we all, I hope, acknowledge that. For you to say that we, between the two of us, can’t come up with a hundred, nay a thousand, improvements, is preposterous. And for you to say that it is not an obligation for ID to answer questions of who and what and where the designer is contradicts scientific thinking. We always want to know who and what and where. That is the driving force of knowledge. That fact that you insist on restricting your horizon is an acknowledgment that the implications are too vast, and too difficult, to face scientifically.

    Look, I am aware of the politics involved in all this. But I’m not interested in all that. I’m interested in getting to the bottom of ID and its implications.

    Chance, thank you for your prayers and your kind thoughts. I was brought up as an Eastern Orthodox but only marginally, and have been able to only reach the point of believing Jesus to be a prophet, equal to Mohamed and Buddha and others. The words of Jesus are similar to words said by other prophets. That is not a small feat. I believe that prophets do have a glimpse of the reality, but only a glimpse. When we do pass over to the other side, I don’t thing it will look like anything we’ve ever been taught in church or school. It has to be grander than that.

  20. 20
    Chance Ratcliff

    billmaz,

    “If quantum mechanics says that consciousness is required to “collapse” a wave function, physicists go forward (as they have) and try to define consciousness (which they’ve tried to do, unsuccessfully) in order to get to the bottom of things.”

    Does quantum mechanics seek to define the identity behind the consciousness, or does it rather infer the role of consciousness by its effects on matter, as observed? This isn’t drastically different from the limitations of ID as follows directly from its methodology.

    “When we do pass over to the other side, I don’t thing it will look like anything we’ve ever been taught in church or school. It has to be grander than that.”

    If you’ve already rejected Christianity, and are not willing to reexamine it, then there may not be much more for me to say. (I usually avoid theological discussions but sometimes they are warranted by certain comments.) However I think this point should be stated. Christianity’s claims are severe with regard to crossing over. Once you do, it’s too late to make the decision. “Just as a man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people;” (Hebrews 9:27-28a) For that reason and others, it’s important to consider carefully the choice to accept or reject Christ:

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his hone and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” — John 3:16-19

    You appear to have a strong desire to know and fellowship with God. I believe the way to make the introduction is that which I’ve laid out. Making a leap of faith with regard to asking God directly about the truth of Jesus Christ is how that door may be opened to you. This is my personal take based on personal experience. With that said, I’ll refrain from further theological discussion unless prompted. Thanks for your courtesy, billmaz. :)

  21. Chance, thank you for the privilege of talking to you.

    You know, I wish that someone would teach me how to bring your quotes up like you guys do into my post. Anyway, you said,

    “Does quantum mechanics seek to define the identity behind the consciousness, or does it rather infer the role of consciousness by its effects on matter, as observed?”

    Quantum mechanics tries to do whatever it can. If it can define the identity behind consciousness it will, but as of now it can only “infer the role of consciousness by its effects on matter, as observed,” as you state. It has limitations, but not self-imposed! It tries to get to the bottom of it, as much as it can. It is different from ID because it does not limit itself. It goes on.

    Regarding Christianity, I’ve not rejected it, as you propose, I’ve just observed it, from a distance. I don’t reject anything since, like Socrates, I know nothing. I think we all need a little humility, and admit that we really don’t know anything. We believe, some of us, but belief is not knowledge. Regarding Christianity’s claims of being severe with regard to crossing over, I don’t believe in a severe God. I don’t think any god would do anything to His children that I would not do to mine, and I’m only human. I would never condemn my children to an eternity of suffering, no matter how bad or ignorant they were. Severity has always been a part of religion that I’ve rejected out of hand. No God could be severe. He, above all else, has to be understanding of the ignorant human condition He has placed us in. And, might I reiterate, He placed us in this human condition, not you or I.

  22. 22
    Chance Ratcliff

    billmaz, here’s how to go about embedding a quote.

    Typing this in a comment,

    <blockquote>quotation</blockquote>

    Will produce this:

    quotation

    Likewise you can do these:

    <strong>strong text</strong> produces strong text

    <em>emphasized text</em> produces emphasized text

    <strike>strikethrough text</strike> produces strikethrough text

    That’s most of the common ones. :)

  23. Thanks chance. Now respond to some of my comments. Don’t leave me hanging.

  24. Billmaz:

    Eric, with all due respect, and I mean that, you have to be kidding me. I have given you several examples of how I would improve the human organism. The human genome is imperfect, we all, I hope, acknowledge that. For you to say that we, between the two of us, can’t come up with a hundred, nay a thousand, improvements, is preposterous.

    Great. But I’ll make it easy; I won’t ask for thousands. Give me just a couple of specific improvements you would make. Not in broad vague strokes like “the heart should be a parallel system, not a linear one.” Tell me the details. What would be involved in making the changes? What additional developmental resources and restraints would be required? How would your proposed change impact other systems? What other drawbacks or possible negatives would your proposed solution impose? What additional resources would be required to maintain the new system through the life of the organism and how do those compare with the existing system? What are the engineering tradeoffs? How would the system hold up over thousands or millions of years of lineal descent?

    Look, I don’t dispute that nearly any physical system can be improved. I have some involvement with systems design and am regularly challenged to think about why we don’t have higher throughput, a faster processor, more graphics capability, the latest switching fabric, lower power consumption, etc., etc. Designs always — inevitably — require tradeoffs in terms of time, resource costs, maintenance, etc. So it gets pretty tiring to hear people waving their arms about some allegedly imperfect design, when they haven’t the faintest clue how or whether it would make sense to implement some alternate design. And usually all they offer (no offense, but this is all you’ve done here so far too) is make some broad statement about “gee, the system would be better if it had x” without offering any substantive details. As a designer, that rings incredibly hollow to me.

    Further, the conclusion that is so often drawn from an “imperfect” design — that God wouldn’t have done it — is a purely theological/philosophical argument that has nothing to do with the science.

    Yet even on that theological/philosophical point, there are several possible reasons for imperfect design that quickly jump to mind without even breaking a sweat: (i) the designer isn’t personally capable of producing a more perfect design, (ii) the designer was constrained by certain physical parameters that resulted in compromises to the design, (iii) the design wasn’t intended to be perfect, but only “good” or good enough, (iv) the design has degraded over time, (v) the designer isn’t interested in making a “perfect” design and perhaps even intends the design to break down over a certain amount of time, or (vi) the designer was not attempting to provide an environment of comfort, ease, and everlasting health, but perhaps to provide an environment in which to experience pain, sorrow, discomfort, and ultimately death.

    Again, these are interesting questions in their own right, but they do not have to be dealt with as part of intelligent design proper, and intelligent design has no obligation to go there, however much people may cry out for answers to such questions.

  25. 25
    Chance Ratcliff

    billmaz,

    “Chance, thank you for the privilege of talking to you.”

    Likewise.

    “Quantum mechanics tries to do whatever it can. If it can define the identity behind consciousness it will, but as of now it can only “infer the role of consciousness by its effects on matter, as observed,” as you state. It has limitations, but not self-imposed! It tries to get to the bottom of it, as much as it can. It is different from ID because it does not limit itself. It goes on.”

    Intelligent Design is limited by its empirical nature and historical reasoning. This is why it can be considered scientific. If it employed philosophical arguments it would be philosophy, and if it employed theological arguments it would be theology. As a matter of fact, with regard to the latter, critics of ID try and tie it to theology specifically to level the claim that it is unscientific. Because ID limits its methodology to detecting the effects of intelligence, it remains in the realm of the empirical, which is a strength and not a weakness.

    Anyone is free to use ID reasoning and extend it to its philosophical and theological implications, but one must first accept that design detection is legitimate. Some ID critics, even those who advocate the expansion of ID into other realms of inquiry, don’t confess that much.

    “Regarding Christianity’s claims of being severe with regard to crossing over, I don’t believe in a severe God. I don’t think any god would do anything to His children that I would not do to mine, and I’m only human. I would never condemn my children to an eternity of suffering, no matter how bad or ignorant they were. Severity has always been a part of religion that I’ve rejected out of hand. No God could be severe. He, above all else, has to be understanding of the ignorant human condition He has placed us in. And, might I reiterate, He placed us in this human condition, not you or I.”

    This is not uncommon. Many protest the claims of Christianity on similar grounds, that they can’t imagine a God who would punish. However when taken in total it makes more sense, and there are good apologetics that address these exact issues. So it’s important to take in the entirety of claims, which is why I recommended the Gospel of John. It is a good, relevant account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, as well as documentation of his unequivocal claims. At least with this approach, you can react to and question the actual words, where most people end up rejecting a caricature of Christianity, but know little about the various arguments and evidences, much less the actual gospel account.

    With regard to punishment, there are at least a couple of things to consider. One is that a perfect God requires perfect justice, which is where the punishment part comes in. However I believe that nobody who does not accept Christ will want to enter God’s presence. God will honor this desire by pushing those who reject him out of his realm. Hell, whatever it happens to be, will be populated by those who fled from heaven — they were not simply sent. The other part of the equation is perfect love. God is not just perfectly just, he is perfectly loving. So he sent his Son to die in our place and take our punishment on himself. This is the remedy. This same offer of redemption is available universally to anyone who will accept it. Therefore, anybody who chooses the remedy is taken into eternal life.

    Anyway, there is abundant material available to answer just about every question or objection, so I’m not really the best person to lay out everything. I just wanted to make sure you understood that this option existed, and give you a way to find out for yourself. I hope you at least consider what I suggested. It is possible to have fellowship with the Living God through acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin. And sin is something that’s about as evident in this world as design.

  26. Thanks Chance. I understand perfect justice, but how does that square with perfect love, perfect mercy, and perfect understanding? Anyway, have a good night.

  27. I’d like to take a stab at billmaz’s questions regarding why ID must be restrictive.

    Lets start with the premise that Science speaks with authority.
    And ID is part of Science.

    When a scientist (wearing the lab coat with the ID embroidered over the pocket) uses the science of design detection and makes claims that something is the product of a designer, he wants those claims to have the authority of Science.
    Were he to go beyond what is warranted by the evidence and speculate on the identity of the designer (while still wearing the lab coat), that would diminish the authority of the design claim.

    By sticking to just what can be inferred from the evidence, the ID scientist distances himself from materialist scientists who continually cross over into philosophical speculation without knowing that they are doing it. That’s because they see materialism and rationality as the same thing (as per the Philip Johnson quote above).

    Of course ID scientists are free to take off their lab coats whenever they want to and speculate on the implications of their scientific findings into the small hours (wearing smoking jackets, I assume).
    William Dembski assumes the two roles in his books and takes pains to make clear which claims are science based and which are his philosophical or theological speculations.

  28. BM:

    I see the underlying philosophical and theological issues that drive what you are wanting to discuss. And in its context, that is fine.

    In the context of science as an empirically grounded investigation, however, trying to force grand metaphysical debates before inspecting facts on the ground and seeking to discern patterns in those facts, has historically been deeply counter-productive. Indeed, it has often ended up — as arguably is happening right now with the evolutionary materialist school of thought that currently dominates origins science studies — imposing ideological orthodoxies that hamper the responsible investigation of the world as it is.

    Yes, I know, I know, that is the sort of “anti-science” accusation typically projected against people of theistic worldviews nowadays [which BTW has played a role in more than one unjustified bit of career busting by the evolutionary materialists and fellow travellers]. But to imagine the problem is confined to — or even most likely to be found in the context of — theism is proving to be a mistake. The problem is the dead hand of a dominant orthodoxy multiplied by the sort of agendas that see themselves justified in resorting to “all means necessary” tactics and abusive power reinforcement.

    By contrast I suggest you may want to ponder this summary of what science at its best is about:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (And yes, this comes from the same IOSE.)

    There is something quite reasonable and self-justifying, in accepting the commonsense experience that we live in a world that is reasonably orderly and intelligible, grounding empirically based investigations seeking to elucidate the driving patterns, the laws, forces, constraints and factors that make the world tick. Then, investigating on effectively public observable facts and working out the driving patterns of reality. Cf. the design inference filter flowchart in the OP.

    It is in that context that it is reasonable to ask whether objects of interest can show signs that show causes tracing to chance, mechanism and design.

    Which is what design theory investigates.

    So, there is nothing disingenuous or hidden agenda about this, it is a matter of the question of what can be warranted on empirical facts open to in principle public inspection. Then, we can infer on best explanation of such facts to find out what is the most satisfying causal account.

    That the world of life seems replete with signs pointing to design is significant, but it is not in itself a proof that the cell based life we have examined, life on this planet, is caused by anything more than a molecular nanotech lab several generations beyond Venter et al.

    Gong beyond, there is a considerable body of evidence that we live in a cosmos with a finitely remote in time beginning, which implies causal dependence on an underlying necessary being as root of existence. The nature of that cause is not specified by that finding, but it sure gives pause.

    To multiply by signs of fine tuning that sets up the sort of life enabling cosmos we live in, does raise the issue of design by a designer with the skill, power and knowledge to create a cosmos. That is discussed in a linked from the OP, here.

    In my view, if that is what you want to explore the proper place for it is cosmology.

    KF

    PS: On your worldviews level concerns you may want to look here on.

  29. 29
    Chance Ratcliff

    billmaz, perfect love is expressed in the atoning sacrifice. Jesus said,

    “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

    And that’s exactly what Jesus did. So the act of sacrifice is itself the perfect act of love, because it provides a complete pardon for anyone who willingly accepts it. The only way to accept it is to believe it, but that confession of belief — of your own sin and guilt before God, your need for salvation and a savior, and your acceptance of the death and resurrection of God’s Son as sufficient to pay the penalty of that sin — provides the promise of eternal life and the resurrection from the dead.

    Jesus said,

    “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” — John 6:40

    The need of the sacrifice and its centrality to the Christian message was spelled out by the apostle Paul:

    “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.”

    It can be helpful to put the activity of justice and forgiveness into a familiar context. Imagine you were brought into court because you owed a severe debt that you refused to pay, and right before the verdict was rendered, which would have you imprisoned indefinitely, somebody showed up to pay the debt on your behalf, paid in full with nothing left owed. But by accepting the free gift you would be acknowledging your guilt, and confessing your need of redemption. This is the act of mercy, and it requires a confession of guilt.

    Mercy is not getting that which you deserve. Paul wrote,

    “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 6:23

    But grace is getting something that you don’t deserve. Paul also wrote,

    “…we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” — 1 Corinthians 2:7-9

    However the message is difficult for some to accept. This is why I recommend praying about it directly.

    “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18-19

    “…but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” — 1 Corinthians 1:23-25

    This is how love, justice, and mercy are all satisfied. The hard part is the confession of guilt. One doesn’t need a Savior if one has no sin. Jesus said,

    ““It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” — Luke 5:31-32

    These questions you ask are perfect questions to direct at God humbly and sincerely and with expectation of answer. I think if you follow through with reading John’s gospel, and be willing to pray for guidance in understanding the truth about who Jesus is and how you can be certain, you’ll be answered. That is my personal experience and my belief.

    I’ll close with an adage that I find suits this circumstance. Christianity is an exclusive club, and everyone is invited to join. I hope you consider accepting the invitation. Only then can we teach you the secret handshake. ;)

  30. 30
    englishmaninistanbul

    billmaz:

    I got into a similar kind of debate 18 months ago with gpuccio and others, and I’m still not sure if I was on to something or spouting drivel.

    The long and the short of it was that I felt a lack of a bare-bones, rigorous definition of a “designer” that would do better than a self-referential “someone/something that designs”, including humans, aliens, gods and (tentatively) beavers while excluding “natural forces”.

    Ultimately you finish up at “conscious mind”. Much fun ensues trying to define that.

    After 18 months of having occasional little thinks to myself, my current idea is to try to define mind with reference to information. “Any system that constructs/uses/creates abstract models/imprints of present/potential reality.” Or something like that.

    I know you’re after some sort of Grand Explanation, but I wonder if this sort of thing might help. I mean it’s all very well to speak of “design detection”, but you either need to identify the Designer or come up with a definitive boundary of what is or is not a designer.

    On to theology, I notice your quandary about “eternal punishment”, and I wonder what you would make of the following verses taken together:

    Psalm 146:3-4
    Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

    Ecclesiastes 9:10
    Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

    Romans 6:7 (Expanded Bible)
    Anyone who has died is made free [justified; declared righteous] from sin’s control.

    Jeremiah 7:31
    And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.

  31. Methinks billmaz is confused:

    And for you to say that it is not an obligation for ID to answer questions of who and what and where the designer is contradicts scientific thinking. We always want to know who and what and where. That is the driving force of knowledge. That fact that you insist on restricting your horizon is an acknowledgment that the implications are too vast, and too difficult, to face scientifically.

    1- ID is about the DESIGN

    2- Reality dictates that in the absence of designer input or direct observation, the ONLY POSSIBLE way to make ANT SCIENTIFIC determination about the designer(s) or specific processes used, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence

    3- Yes the design inference opens up other questions. But those are SEPARATE from determining design and tghen studying it.

    4- And THAT proves the design inference is NOT a scientific dead-end as someone will attempt to answer those questions.

    Perhaps BillMaz can tell us how we can deduce the who and how just given the thing he/ she/ it designed.

    Good luck with that…

  32. Onlookers, observe the lack of a clear counter-example to the design inference. Debates over definitions of things that are observed (or at least observationally grounded) entities, are no substitute. And, that pattern of changing the subject — and, too often, poisoning the atmosphere — instead of providing a devastating counter-example, has characterised the design debates in and around UD and elsewhere. That speaks volumes on the actual balance of the core case on the merits. The inference to design as causal process anchored on tested, reliable signs such as FSCO/I, is here showing just how well warranted it is, once the clouding, polarising and poisoning clouds clear. And, it should be plain that if we have strong empirically grounded warrant to infer design of life and of the cosmos [cf. linked discussions in OP], that opens up a lot of lines of onward, worldviews level reasoning on origins, especially of the cosmos, that a priori materialists are very uncomfortable with. That’s not science, it is phil, but we should notice that the materialist a priorism we are dealing with is a bleeding back of phil into science that is even trying to redefine the nature of science and its methods. Begging big questions in so doing. KF

  33. Hi Kairos

    Thanks for the detailed article and explanations. Self-assembling systems in the cell are fascinating.

    I see something of a similar process on human scale when I visit our robotics supplier. There is a production line where robots are partially assembling their own motors akin to partial self-replication. Even that small line is quite a complication with consideration of delivery of components, conveyors, speed synchronization, robot programming, interlocks, safety issues, error recovery, power delivery etc. It would be engineering nightmare to design complete self replicating machine in a way described by von Neumann.

    When we study cell we see similar action but on a smaller scale and in chemical domain rather than electro mechanical. There are number of organized, precise chemical processes at work. They sometimes run in parallel, they are coordinated, self-checking, components are auto repairing, etc

    “Order is the basis of organization and therefore the most fundamental problem in biology.”

    von Bertalanffy

  34. 34

    Chance Ratcliff,

    I’ll close with an adage that I find suits this circumstance. Christianity is an exclusive club, and everyone is invited to join.

    Were the 1 million Jewish children who died in the holocaust invited to join? If not, are they burning in hell for eternity?

    Was Hitler invited to join? If he accepted, is he in heaven?

    _______

    Atmosphere poisoning, cf. discussion here, which builds on 47 below. KF

  35. lastyearon,

    But how does an atheist, such as yourself, justify using a theologically based ‘argument from evil’ to argue against the truthfulness of Theism in general and Christianity in particular. Are you not sawing off the branch you are sitting on by assuming the existence of evil to ultimately deny the reality of evil?

    As to the necessity of Christ to avoid horrid NDE’s, I submit this,,

    It should be noted: All foreign, non-Judeo-Christian culture, NDE (Near Death Experience) studies I have looked at have a extreme rarity of encounters with ‘The Being Of Light’ and tend to be very unpleasant NDE’s save for the few pleasant children’s NDEs of those cultures that I’ve seen (It seems there is indeed an ‘age of accountability’). The following study was shocking for what was found in some non-Judeo-Christian NDE’s:

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Near Death Experience Thailand Asia – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8M5J3zWG5g

    It should also be noted that there are also a few notable hellish NDE’s reported within Judeo-Christian cultures. This one was particularly interesting:

    video – (former atheist professor) Howard Storm continues to share his gripping story of his own near death experience. Today, he picks up just as Jesus was rescuing him from the horrors of Hell and carrying him into the glories of Heaven.
    http://www.daystar.com/ondeman.....KvFrYYsE31

    and this:

    Suicide NDE Hell Testimony – Angie Fenimore – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWjH8hAFYkw

    Greyson and Bush (1996) classified 50 Western reports of distressing NDEs into three types:
    * The most common type included the same features as the pleasurable type such as an out-of-body experience and rapid movement through a tunnel or void toward a light but the NDEr, usually because of feeling out of control of what was happening, experienced the features as frightening.
    * The second, less common type included an acute awareness of nonexistence or of being completely alone forever in an absolute void. Sometimes the person received a totally convincing message that the real world including themselves never really existed. (note* according to one preliminary study, a similar type of this NDE may be very common among the Buddhist culture of China)
    * The third and rarest type included hellish imagery such as an ugly or foreboding landscape; demonic beings; loud, annoying noises; frightening animals; and other beings in extreme distress. Only rarely have such NDErs themselves felt personally tormented.

    Further notes:

    A Comparative view of Tibetan and Western Near-Death Experiences by Lawrence Epstein University of Washington:
    Excerpt: Episode 5: The OBE systematically stresses the ‘das-log’s discomfiture, pain, disappointment, anger and disillusionment with others and with the moral worth of the world at large. The acquisition of a yid-lus and the ability to travel instantaneously are also found here.
    Episode 6: The ‘das-log, usually accompanied by a supernatural guide, tours bar-do, where he witnesses painful scenes and meets others known to him. They give him messages to take back.
    Episode 7: The ‘das-log witnesses trials in and tours hell. The crimes and punishments of others are explained to him. Tortured souls also ask him to take back messages to the living.
    http://www.case.edu/affil/tibe.....4&amp

    Near-Death Experiences Among Survivors of the 1976 Tangshan Earthquake (Chinese)
    Excerpt: Our subjects reported NDE phemenological items not mentioned, or rarely mentioned in NDE’s reported from other countries: sensations of the world being exterminated or ceasing to exist, a sense of weightlessness, a feeling of being pulled or squeezed, ambivalence about death, a feeling of being a different person, or a different kind of person and unusual scents. The predominant phemenological features in our series were feeling estranged from the body as if it belonged to someone else, unusually vivid thoughts, loss of emotions, unusual bodily sensations, life seeming like a dream, a feeling of dying,,, These are not the same phemenological features most commonly found by researchers in other countries. Greyson (1983) reported the most common phemenological feature of American NDE’s to be a feeling of peace, joy, time stopping, experiencing an unearthly realm of existence, a feeling of cosmic unity, and a out of body experience.
    http://www.newdualism.org/nde-.....-39-48.pdf

    The Japanese find death a depressing experience – From an item by Peter Hadfield in the New Scientist (Nov. 30th 1991)
    Excerpt: A study in Japan shows that even in death the Japanese have an original way of looking at things. Instead of seeing ‘tunnels of light’ or having ‘out of body’ experiences, near-dead patients in Japanese hospitals tend to see rather less romantic images, according to researchers at Kyorin University. According to a report in the Mainichi newspaper, a group of doctors from Kyorin has spent the past year documenting the near-death experiences of 17 patients. They had all been resuscitated from comas caused by heart attacks, strokes, asthma or drug poisoning. All had shown minimal signs of life during the coma. Yoshia Hata, who led the team, said that eight of the 17 recalled ‘dreams’, many featuring rivers or ponds. Five of those patients had dreams which involved fear, pain and suffering. One 50-year-old asthmatic man said he had seen himself wade into a reservoir and do a handstand in the shallows. ‘Then I walked out of the water and took some deep breaths. In the dream, I was repeating this over and over.’ Another patient, a 73-year-old woman with cardiac arrest, saw a cloud filled with dead people. ‘It was a dark, gloomy day. I was chanting sutras. I believed they could be saved if they chanted sutras, so that is what I was telling them to do.’ Most of the group said they had never heard of Near-Death Experiences before.
    http://www.pureinsight.org/node/4

    Several studies (Pasricha, 1986, Schorer, 1985-86) & Kellehear, 1993) Murphy 1999,2001) have indicated that the phenomenologies of NDEs is culture-bound. (Of Note: Judeo-Christian Culture NDEs are by far the most pleasant “phenomena”)
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindestxt.htm

    Here is a fairly disturbing Jewish NDE:

    Jewish near death experience part 1 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0Ns3D6Tpfs

    Of note: I though this NDE af a Jewish woman who grew up in a Judeo-Christian culture was interesting:

    I arrived in an explosion of glorious light into a room with insubstantial walls, standing before a man about in his thirties, about six feet tall, reddish brown shoulder length hair and an incredibly neat, short beard and mustache. He wore a simple white robe. Light seemed to emanate from him and I felt he had great age and wisdom. He welcomed me with great love, tranquility, and peace (indescribable) – no words. I felt, “I can sit at your feet forever and be content,” which struck me as a strange thing to think/say/feel. I became fascinated by the fabric of his robe, trying to figure out how light could be woven!
    http://bibleprobe.com/reneturner.htm

  36. lastyearon,

    But how does an atheist, such as yourself, justify using a theologically based ‘argument from evil’ to argue against the truthfulness of Theism in general and Christianity in particular. Are you not sawing off the branch you are sitting on by assuming the existence of evil to ultimately deny the reality of evil?

    As to the necessity of Christ to avoid horrid NDE’s, I submit this,,

    It should be noted: All foreign, non-Judeo-Christian culture, NDE (Near Death Experience) studies I have looked at have a extreme rarity of encounters with ‘The Being Of Light’ and tend to be very unpleasant NDE’s save for the few pleasant children’s NDEs of those cultures that I’ve seen (It seems there is indeed an ‘age of accountability’). The following study was shocking for what was found in some non-Judeo-Christian NDE’s:

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Near Death Experience Thailand Asia – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8M5J3zWG5g

    It should also be noted that there are also a few notable hellish NDE’s reported within Judeo-Christian cultures. This one was particularly interesting:

    video – (former atheist professor) Howard Storm continues to share his gripping story of his own near death experience. Today, he picks up just as Jesus was rescuing him from the horrors of Hell and carrying him into the glories of Heaven.
    http://www.daystar.com/ondeman.....KvFrYYsE31

    and this:

    Suicide NDE Hell Testimony – Angie Fenimore – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWjH8hAFYkw

    Greyson and Bush (1996) classified 50 Western reports of distressing NDEs into three types:
    * The most common type included the same features as the pleasurable type such as an out-of-body experience and rapid movement through a tunnel or void toward a light but the NDEr, usually because of feeling out of control of what was happening, experienced the features as frightening.
    * The second, less common type included an acute awareness of nonexistence or of being completely alone forever in an absolute void. Sometimes the person received a totally convincing message that the real world including themselves never really existed. (note* according to one preliminary study, a similar type of this NDE may be very common among the Buddhist culture of China)
    * The third and rarest type included hellish imagery such as an ugly or foreboding landscape; demonic beings; loud, annoying noises; frightening animals; and other beings in extreme distress. Only rarely have such NDErs themselves felt personally tormented.

    Further notes:

    A Comparative view of Tibetan and Western Near-Death Experiences by Lawrence Epstein University of Washington:
    Excerpt: Episode 5: The OBE systematically stresses the ‘das-log’s discomfiture, pain, disappointment, anger and disillusionment with others and with the moral worth of the world at large. The acquisition of a yid-lus and the ability to travel instantaneously are also found here.
    Episode 6: The ‘das-log, usually accompanied by a supernatural guide, tours bar-do, where he witnesses painful scenes and meets others known to him. They give him messages to take back.
    Episode 7: The ‘das-log witnesses trials in and tours hell. The crimes and punishments of others are explained to him. Tortured souls also ask him to take back messages to the living.
    http://www.case.edu/affil/tibe.....4&amp

    Near-Death Experiences Among Survivors of the 1976 Tangshan Earthquake (Chinese)
    Excerpt: Our subjects reported NDE phemenological items not mentioned, or rarely mentioned in NDE’s reported from other countries: sensations of the world being exterminated or ceasing to exist, a sense of weightlessness, a feeling of being pulled or squeezed, ambivalence about death, a feeling of being a different person, or a different kind of person and unusual scents. The predominant phemenological features in our series were feeling estranged from the body as if it belonged to someone else, unusually vivid thoughts, loss of emotions, unusual bodily sensations, life seeming like a dream, a feeling of dying,,, These are not the same phemenological features most commonly found by researchers in other countries. Greyson (1983) reported the most common phemenological feature of American NDE’s to be a feeling of peace, joy, time stopping, experiencing an unearthly realm of existence, a feeling of cosmic unity, and a out of body experience.
    http://www.newdualism.org/nde-.....-39-48.pdf

    The Japanese find death a depressing experience – From an item by Peter Hadfield in the New Scientist (Nov. 30th 1991)
    Excerpt: A study in Japan shows that even in death the Japanese have an original way of looking at things. Instead of seeing ‘tunnels of light’ or having ‘out of body’ experiences, near-dead patients in Japanese hospitals tend to see rather less romantic images, according to researchers at Kyorin University. According to a report in the Mainichi newspaper, a group of doctors from Kyorin has spent the past year documenting the near-death experiences of 17 patients. They had all been resuscitated from comas caused by heart attacks, strokes, asthma or drug poisoning. All had shown minimal signs of life during the coma. Yoshia Hata, who led the team, said that eight of the 17 recalled ‘dreams’, many featuring rivers or ponds. Five of those patients had dreams which involved fear, pain and suffering. One 50-year-old asthmatic man said he had seen himself wade into a reservoir and do a handstand in the shallows. ‘Then I walked out of the water and took some deep breaths. In the dream, I was repeating this over and over.’ Another patient, a 73-year-old woman with cardiac arrest, saw a cloud filled with dead people. ‘It was a dark, gloomy day. I was chanting sutras. I believed they could be saved if they chanted sutras, so that is what I was telling them to do.’ Most of the group said they had never heard of Near-Death Experiences before.
    http://www.pureinsight.org/node/4

    Several studies (Pasricha, 1986, Schorer, 1985-86) & Kellehear, 1993) Murphy 1999,2001) have indicated that the phenomenologies of NDEs is culture-bound. (Of Note: Judeo-Christian Culture NDEs are by far the most pleasant “phenomena”)

    Here is a fairly disturbing Jewish NDE:

    Jewish near death experience part 1 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0Ns3D6Tpfs

    Of note: I though this NDE af a Jewish woman who grew up in a Judeo-Christian culture was interesting:

    I arrived in an explosion of glorious light into a room with insubstantial walls, standing before a man about in his thirties, about six feet tall, reddish brown shoulder length hair and an incredibly neat, short beard and mustache. He wore a simple white robe. Light seemed to emanate from him and I felt he had great age and wisdom. He welcomed me with great love, tranquility, and peace (indescribable) – no words. I felt, “I can sit at your feet forever and be content,” which struck me as a strange thing to think/say/feel. I became fascinated by the fabric of his robe, trying to figure out how light could be woven!
    http://bibleprobe.com/reneturner.htm

  37. The problem with the position of billmaz:

    I don’t happen to believe in a personal God, though I pray all the time, just in case, and am repeatedly reminded of its futility. In the same vein, I don’t see a God intervening in the fates of man or the planet. But things may be subtle, I grant you that, so I can never say God is not present. If He is present, though, the evidence of eons of extinct species, close similarities between extinct and present species, (morphologically, genetically, etc.) sure makes us believe that He just let the forces roll without intervention. The arguments that I hear from ID that these similarities are just God’s way of using the same constructs over and over again for new species sound blatantly hollow. You can’t seriously believe that as a rational human being, never mind a scientist. So what is the answer? All of this evidence has to be explained by ID.

    Let’s take billmaz’s position serious for a second.

    1. He believes in a God who 1. designed a system of very few universal laws, 2. defined these laws in forces which allow for fluctuations at a quantum level, but average out at the macro level quite perfectly, 3. set 20-30 ( don’t know the right number here ) constants to incredibly precise values to allow for complex chemistry. 4. Foresaw that these unique values would allow incredible structures to be built based on carbon, water, oxygen, nitrogen and a few other important elements. 5. …. ( Ad nauseum the list of constraints go on to allow for biological bodies )

    Yet according to billmaz this God is not personal, He has all the ability to do all the above, yet He is not “Personal” – meaning what? 1. He can’t carry on a conversation? He does not have a conscious even though man does? He can’t find a way to communicate? He has no understanding of morality? …

    And billmaz takes the absurd position that billmaz has enough wisdom to evaluate whether the design of millions of animals who went extinct was necessary in order to create this world we live in.

    When you look at it this way, the position of billmaz is absurd at best.

    I will correct something in billmaz’s statement.

    He said:
    I don’t happen to believe in a personal God.

    What he really means to say:
    Despite all the evidence, I don’t want God to be personal.

    This is why God correctly says, “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God”.

    The position that there is no God and the universe just came about by chance — is untenable.

    The position that there is a God, who can do all the things necessary to create the universe, but can’t communicate with his creation — is absurd.

    I don’t believe there IS a god by faith. I believe there IS a god by the rules of logic and science ( ID ). I believe this God is personal because logic demands that His ability must be a superset of mine, not a subset.

    So I believe in a personal God by the simple application of logic and science.

    I believe that the sacrifice of God’s Son is able to atone for my sins by faith and faith alone.

  38. Does quantum mechanics seek to define the identity behind the consciousness, or does it rather infer the role of consciousness by its effects on matter, as observed?

    The idea that Quantum Mechanics requires some sort of consciousness in order to “collapse the wavefunction”, or that QM is contingent on an observer, is a misinterpretation, promulgated by pop-sci books and careless reporters, and persists with people who read about Schrodinger’s Cat from Deepak Chopra books.

    QM is objective and operates the same, wether we know it exists, or wether all mind in the universe are dead.

  39. ‘QM is objective and operates the same, wether we know it exists, or wether all mind in the universe are dead.’

    Rubbish! You understand the metaphysics better than Planck and Bohr, who discovered and developed it? That’ll be the day.

  40. Rubbish! You understand the metaphysics better than Planck and Bohr, who discovered and developed it?

    Planck and Bohr’s math is correct, but Schrodinger demonstrated that their interpretation was incomplete. Of course, QM is a physical theory, not a metaphysical one. Metaphysics isn’t science, it’s philosophy and spirituality.

  41. You wouldn’t have discovered it in a million years, since you have an overwhelming, a priori repugnance for what you can’t understand. I’ll bet you call the counter-rational nature of the paradoxes in QM, ‘counter-intuitive’!

  42. Yes, metaphysics is more exalted than physics, as it underpins all scientific belief.

    ‘Planck and Bohr’s math is correct,’

    That’s all you need to say. You would have done well to leave it at that.

    ‘Schrodinger demonstrated that their interpretation was incomplete.’

    Perhaps you could enlighten us further?

    Back later.

  43. You wouldn’t have discovered it in a million years, since you have an overwhelming, a priori repugnance for what you can’t understand.

    Where does that come from? Are you talking to someone else?

  44. Before I go – when Einstein’s resorted to his aesthetic criterion for choosing his hypotheses, he was not being scientific. So what!!!!!!

    Science is for pedants. What distinguished Einstein, Planck and Bohr from the Consensus was that they were capable of metaphysical thought, and that is what they engaged in much of the time, evidently to your utter mystification.

  45. ‘Schrodinger demonstrated that their interpretation was incomplete.’

    The problem is the cat. Cats cannot be both alive and dead at the same time, but the Copenhagen Interpretation says they are, up until the point where you look in the box, at which point the cat is suddenly dead and had been dead, or alive and had been alive.

    You can either completely change your understanding of epistemology and philosophy to include supernatural non-causality, simultaneous life-death, and a physical world that depends on the conscious observer, or you can figure out why the Copenhagen Interpretation isn’t complete, the second solution is more parsimonious and we have Many Worlds as a result.

    I would note that since you cited Bohr, he himself didn’t think the observer collapsed the wavefunction either, he disagreed with the implications of his own narrative because he only intended the Copenhagen Interpretation to apply to the precise apparatus being used — he didn’t think the CI was applicable to thought-experiments or extemporization. If you’re appealing to QM authority on the matter, almost none of them think consciousness plays a role in QM, except maybe Gene Wigner. Penrose has hypotheses for how the brain requires QM to operate, which is another interesting problem, but none of these are proved experimentally.

    Is it that my mind is closed to non-experimental truth, is that it?

  46. What distinguished Einstein, Planck and Bohr from the Consensus was that they were capable of metaphysical thought,

    They did, but one does not need to believe Eisnstein’s metaphysics to accept Einstein’s scientific proofs. Einstein is a genius for theorizing space-time and then having it proved an accurate model of the world; you don’t need to accept Spinoza’s God in order to understand General Relativity, his metaphysics was orthogonal to material truth.

  47. Onlookers,

    Observe how the problem of tangents continues (I guess I will come back later to make some remarks on some, but only to neaten things up a bit, not to entertain more tangents).

    Eugen’s remarks on a self assembling self replicating automaton are telling, let’s bring them to the leading edge of the comments stream lest they be buried:

    Self-assembling systems in the cell are fascinating.

    I see something of a similar process on human scale when I visit our robotics supplier. There is a production line where robots are partially assembling their own motors akin to partial self-replication. Even that small line is quite a complication with consideration of delivery of components, conveyors, speed synchronization, robot programming, interlocks, safety issues, error recovery, power delivery etc. It would be engineering nightmare to design complete self replicating machine in a way described by von Neumann.

    When we study cell we see similar action but on a smaller scale and in chemical domain rather than electro mechanical. There are number of organized, precise chemical processes at work. They sometimes run in parallel, they are coordinated, self-checking, components are auto repairing, etc

    “Order is the basis of organization and therefore the most fundamental problem in biology.”

    von Bertalanffy

    Worth thinking about.

    KF

    PS: I would say (as a first bit of neatening up) Hitler had an invitation to penitence but when he was of age refused to pay that price and instead struck a fatal bargain with the devil. The innocents who died under his demonic hell-breathed madness — I think the White Rose movement had that dead right — would fall under the grace of innocence. Welcomed by God. But those of us who are of age to be accountable should not presume upon such. Perhaps I should clip Paul on this subject, as a foundational and starting point remark on that:

    Rom 2:1 Therefore you are without excuse, whoever you are, when you judge someone else. For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things.

    2 Now we know that God’s judgment is in accordance with truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think, whoever you are, when you judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?

    5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed!

    6 He will reward each one according to his works: 7 eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality, 8 but wrath and anger to those who live in selfish ambition and do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness. 9 There will be affliction and distress on everyone who does evil, on the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, for the Jew first and also the Greek.

    11 For there is no partiality with God.

    12 For all who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous before God, but those who do the law will be declared righteous.

    14 For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves. 15 They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them, 16 on the day when God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus. [NET]

    So, we start with the light we do have and the question, do we walk by the light we know or should know? The undulled, undistorted conscience being the first point of contact with the voice of God. So, do we pass the test of conscience, and the test of our own sense of morality when we judge others, consistently? What do we do when we stumble?

    Beyond that, I focus on the light we know or SHOULD know. For instance, what is the import of our strong sense that what Hitler did was evil and worthy of condemnation? I suggest that it is a major showing of the point that murder is wrong.

    So, what grounds wrong?

    That is, in the foundation of our worldviews, if they are right, is an IS that can properly bear the weight of OUGHT.

    There is no such is in matter, energy and space-time or laws of chance and necessity.

    the only serious candidate is the inherently good and wise Creator God. So, already, we are without excuse, as Paul also said in Rom. Our consciences do point to the truth, as the candle of the Lord within.

    I think we need to look hard at worldview foundations, and here on will help. Including, this on the problem of good vs evil.

    Then also I suggest that there is good evidence that God has intervened decisively in human history, and suggest here on.

    But the main subject for the thread needs to be highlighted, not distracted from. Consistent ducking and dodging tells us that the balance on the merits is not where the objectors resorting to distractions want to go.

  48. Gregory here misreports what he did in 4 above, opening words: “Stop deceiving . . . “ This is a false accusation of deceit that on the doubling down in this post, G puts himself to STRIKE 2. KF [ADDED, later, cf 58 below, PS for onward links that justify my disregard for G's little vs big ID terminology -- neither are accurate to design theory and both, esp the big ID term as he has redefined [wrenched] it, are rhetorically loaded.]

    The fact that ‘design theory’ differs from ‘Intelligent Design theory’ (IDT) is not an “unwarranted personal attack.” Since when is truth considered as ‘poisoning the atmosphere’?

    Will KF *ever* stop conflating IDT with ‘design theory’?

    Should we try to calculate a FSCO/I for the probability of this? ;)

  49. Thank you for your clarifying words, KF. If you believe that the inference of design in nature is a matter of accepting a particular Christian doctrine, I will not disagree with you.

  50. Onlookers, G continues tangents. His attempted and loaded distinctions are of no weight. And his claims to be easily able to overturn the premise Meyer has given as is cited above, are shown hollow by his failure to substantiate while resorting to accusations. KF

  51. S: the inference to design as process is not a theological inference but a scientific one, as has been explicitly pointed out and explained, starting with OP. Above in this thread, I have taken time — explicitly to resolve a matter regarded as tangential but which would distract — on worldviews and theological issues; which are to be addressed on comparative difficulties not on scientific methods and evidence. A worldview level discussion on grounding our basic frames of thought for the world is a different matter form the implications of FSCO/I on its most credible source in terms of causal process, design. KF

  52. ‘You can either completely change your understanding of epistemology and philosophy to include supernatural non-causality, simultaneous life-death, and a physical world that depends on the conscious observer, or you can figure out why the Copenhagen Interpretation isn’t complete, the second solution is more parsimonious and we have Many Worlds as a result.’

    That says it all sigaba! It’s like the man who, when asked how to get to some town or other replied that, well, if he wanted to go there, he wouldn’t start of from where they were!

    That’s the atheist scientist for you. Come up against paradoxes? Just replace ‘counter-rationality’ with ‘counter-intuitiveness’. Invocation of the ‘promissory note of the gaps’. The promissory note didn’t bin and gorn and dunnit, but it sure will one day. You just wait. Those scientists in the TV ads in their white coats, standing and looking at a test tube, aren’t doing that for the benefit of their health. No, Sirree. A Brave New World beckons!

    Many Worlds! Love it. I believe in many worlds, corresponding to each person, and coordinated seamlessly by God, at all but the sub-atomic level. (Another QM proof of the falsity of objectivity, in favour of ‘inter-subjectivity’: personal observation of a particle affects it physically). But not Many Worlds to render any and every crackpot, atheist fantasy, possible, rendering everything meaningless, simply because they’ve come up against a wall of ever-proliferating paradoxes, necessarily impenetrable by the analytical intelligence.

    Then there’s the proof of the centrality of the Observer in the universe, wherever he may be located, to which conundrum Bornagain77 has referred on several occasions. I’m sure it goes on and on. Why wouldn’t it?

  53. KF-

    the inference to design as process is not a theological inference but a scientific one, as has been explicitly pointed out and explained, starting with OP.

    That is your assertion, however I do think you rely on the axiom that life constitute a message, and that any other configuration of matter, regardless of how rare, does not. The organization of diamonds can be specified in an extremely compact way, but we don’t claim that diamonds are evidence for design, because we understand natural principles under which diamonds form. Life can be specified in a very compact way, but because we do not have natural principles to explain how it forms, we can say it is evidence of design. We are left with a Designer that occupies the gaps in knowledge. The aspects we choose to put into the explanatory filter are completely subjective and subject to present scientific knowledge.

    I’m not sure the proposition of a designer is wrong, but I don’t think it’s objective, or that it provides a falsifiable proposition such that you could identify any material object and say it was designed or not.

  54. This is somewhat off topic but since this is the most popular thread today, some may be interested to see what a famous materialist is doing by distorting the debate. The Teaching Company/Great Courses announced a new course today:

    Skepticism 101 by Michael Shermer:

    http://www.thegreatcourses.com.....x?cid=9388

    Here is the contents of this course which is only available in audio. I have no idea what it says since I do not plan to buy it but included the short description of the evolution vs. creationism lecture. He is obviously knowingly distorting the argument to tie ID to creationism which thread obviously dispels.

    1 The Virtues of Skepticism

    2 Skepticism and Science

    3 Mistakes in Thinking We All Make

    4 Cognitive Biases and Their Effects

    5 Wrong Thinking in Everyday Life

    6 The Neuroscience of Belief

    7 The Paranormal and the Supernatural

    8 Science versus Pseudoscience

    9 Comparing SETI and UFOlogy

    10 Comparing Evolution and Creationism

    (description of this lecture from the website: From the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” trial to the 2006 Dover trial over the theory of Intelligent Design, look at the history of the evolution and creationism debate, which has important political and cultural ramifications for science and education. Break down the “God of the Gaps” argument and consider why people shouldn’t fear evolution.?)

    11 Science, History, and Pseudohistory

    12 The Lure of Conspiracy Theories

    13 Inside the Modern Cult

    14 The Psychology of Religious Belief

    15 The God Question

    16 Without God, Does Anything Go?

    17 Life, Death, and the Afterlife

    18 Your Skeptical Toolkit

  55. Axel:

    The promissory note didn’t bin and gorn and dunnit, but it sure will one day.

    Science doesn’t promise to answer all questions. Materialists do — intelligent design proponents may or may not, I cannot completely tell.

    Everybody here goes to elaborate pains to distinguish between creationism and intelligent design, but atheism, materialism, and methodological naturalism are not properly distinguished, and all are treated as if they were the same thing.

    The edge of scientific knowledge is constantly in a crisis with paradoxes, unresolved contradictions and false assumptions, that’s just how it works. Science cannot provide metaphysical certainty, it is merely the best system we have for making statements about the natural world. Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of supernatural forces, though I gather that some here would like to change the foundations of science in order to admit supernatural causes phenomena. This is how I read KF’s reference to “worldview”, and he seems in basic agreement with the Dover trial testimonies of Behe, Minnich and Stephen Fuller, who all conceded that science as a discipline itself must be redefined, in terms of epistemology and philosophy of knowledge, if ID were to be accepted as valid science.

    I would add that this defect is completely self-imposed; if we had the identity of a designer or could determine its method of action, there would be no need to refer to the supernatural and science could remain naturalistic. But if a designer is to remain an opaque and undeterminable entity, appeals to the supernatural are required — I suppose this is why many IDers split on this issue, but all agree that they are under no obligation to provide one.

  56. Kairos

    it would be interesting to see what anti ID people have to say about main article on top. Do they agree or disagree with it and why?

  57. S, re:

    I do think you rely on the axiom that life constitute a message, and that any other configuration of matter, regardless of how rare, does not.

    It seems to me that coded information in DNA and derived molecules in the living cell is a matter of generally accepted scientifically observed fact. As is seen in things like protein synthesis.

    Why on earth do you now wish to rhetorical convert such a fact of empirical observation and analysis into an “axiom”?

    As in:

    ax·i·om (ks-m)
    n.
    1. A self-evident or universally recognized truth; a maxim: “It is an economic axiom as old as the hills that goods and services can be paid for only with goods and services” (Albert Jay Nock).
    2. An established rule, principle, or law.
    3. A self-evident principle or one that is accepted as true without proof as the basis for argument; a postulate.
    [Middle English, from Old French axiome, from Latin axima, aximat-, from Greek, from axios, worthy; see ag- in Indo-European roots.]

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

    In short, complex, functionally specific, coded information in the cell is so evidently a matter of fact, and it is so evidently a strong sign of design as best causal explanation, that we are seeing here an evident case of selective hyperspepticism to try to blunt the point.

    Revealing.

    And the onward attempt to build on that first error, to project the imagined view that the design inference is essentially a theological exercise, speaks even more volumes; given the implied well poisoning.

    What part of, designers and their work are facts of observation, is so hard to grasp? Or, that in producing designs, designers often create features that on investigation per inductive logic anchored to observations, can be seen to be reliable signs of design as credible cause. That, FSCO/I is a typical example of such, e.g. in coded information beyond he 500 bit threshold? That life based on cells is full of such?

    Going further, that a given designer is a secondary designer who may have come from a previous one has NOTHING to do with whether the objects showing reliable signs were designed. Indeed, through Venter et l we already have known cases of design in DNA. So, that as a candidate cause, a molecular nanotech lab some generations on could do what we see is reasonable. Inference to design as based on signs of ARTificial cause is not to be equated to inference to a specifically supernatural cause. That’s basic logic, and the point is rooted in 2350 year old remarks by Plato that are fairly accessible. That is, if the pushers of the false dichotomy natural vs supernatural cared to be sound they could easily have been sound.

    Where there are signs of design that do point beyond our observed cosmos, to a cause sufficiently powerful and having intent to build a cosmos is the fine tuning of our cosmos that enables C-chemistry, aqueous medium, protein etc using cell based life. Linked in OP.

    A cosmos-building intelligence that sets up basic physics balanced on a knife’s edge to facilitate cell based life is an interesting conclusion, but it is not the issue on the table in this thread — the sum total in the OP is a LINK.

    I would suggest some rethinking on why you sought to twist an inconvenient observed and commonly known fact — coded info in DNA — into an “axiom” in order to try to score rhetorical points.

    The, please think again.

    KF

  58. Jerry: Cf here on on selective hyperskepticism. As to the stunt of equating design theory and creationism, that is sad and sadly revealing, cf. correction here on in the WACs. Why people imagine “skepticism” to be an intellectual virtue escapes me. Critical awareness and a requirement of reasonableness, yes; skeptical games and tactics of the sort we see so drearily often, no. KF

  59. F/N: Onlookers, notice, no clear counter example to Meyer’s challenge? Including from the one who boasted of dozens of such? Notice the way objectors are arguing? What is this telling us on the balance on the merits? KF

    PS: G’s tendentious agendas in his big vs little ID terminology was exposed here and here (and in several other places by several people, some time back. For those who came in late.

  60. I don’t think you understand what I’m saying. Your position, that life is a message, is an unargued premise. It’s the sharpshooter’s fallacy — nature sprayed bullets at the wall, you’ve painted a target around the bullets that constitute life and claimed that nature was aiming there in the first place. The fact that there are significant gaps in our knowledge of life allows you to claim this, but you would never be able to do so for other highly specific and ordered processes in nature, because we understand them better.

    I can produce any number of physical systems that embody more than 500 bits of information; the selection of a life-producing one on your part is completely arbitrary. This morning I found myself behind a California license place, 4BPD895. The chances of this were one in millions, can you imagine the incredible coincidence?

    That is, if the pushers of the false dichotomy natural vs supernatural cared to be sound they could easily have been sound.

    What do you mean false dichotomy? Can something be both natural and supernatural?

  61. I would note that people made similar claims when we discovered pulsars — it was believed to be impossible for natural objects to create radio signals that were so perfect, and it was assumed that a natural intelligence was the only possible answer. Of course it wasn’t, the argument was made from ignorance.

  62. Gregory:

    I’m genuinely confused about whatever broader point you are making. Can you perhaps respond to my #13 above?

    Thanks,

  63. S: I have never said, anywhere, that life is a message. I have pointed out that certain key molecules of cell based life, are information-bearing, and in particular DNA and mRNA carry coded digital — discrete state — symbolic info. This is not an “unargued premise” (again, an unproved starting point for an argument, and potentially subject to dispute, here with obvious hints between the lines of question-begging) it is an established major factual finding of science that accounted for more than one Nobel Prize. Why are you reduced to wasting time and effort by objecting to or by implication denigrating established facts generally known to educated people and accessible to anyone capable of a basic Google search? Try here — added above also — as a simple 101. KF

  64. S: Pulsars — accounted for on mechanical necessity giving rise to natural regularity [periodic pulses due to rotation] — do not exhibit complex symbolic codes used to assemble proteins step by step, i.e. algorithmically. There is no proper comparison. KF

    PS: If you have not read the OP, please do so.

  65. I think you’re more upset with my terminology than my argument, and have chosen only to engage with that. This is petty. Your criteria for design is arbitrary, and cherry-picked from the unknown edges of life science in order to minimize critique.

    Pulsars do not exhibit complex symbolic codes used to assemble proteins step by step, i.e. algorithmically.

    It shouldn’t make any difference what the nature of a physical system is — if it is sufficiently rare, then it is designed. This is my understanding of the theory.
    How is protein synthesis “complex” but a magnetic rotating star not? your assignment of this term is arbitrary.

    To restrict the definition to “algorithmic” is needless and without basis in your argument, and I would add it’s not clear that DNA is processed “algorithmically.” It is encoded and decoded, but by a very simple mapping, DNA has no high-level semantics besides the mapping, and no one claims that DNA transcription is a Turning-complete process or even a process that obeys any formal mathematical logic. It would also be needlessly restrictive to claim that DNA is the definitional basis of all life, or the only evidence we have that a designer works in nature.

  66. S: Twice, you have pretty obviously tried to imply that I have begged questions by starting from DNA etc as coded information-bearing molecules. Now that I have linked summary sources in case that you somehow did not get the message — which is a commonplace of educated people — you accuse me of being petty. That speaks sad volumes. You can do better. Please, stop going down that road, it does exactly nothing but create a distraction. KF

    PS: In the material part, DNA encodes algorithmic info used to assemble proteins in a step by step process, using high contingency string data structures. The sequence of bases is not specified by the sort of mechanical necessity implied by a rotating neutron star. These things should be quite plain. Equally, you know or should know that high contingency entities are rooted in chance and/or design, eg: >>hydygcftxyfcyd>> vs >>this is a designed string>>. I should not have to be wasting time to go over such again and again.

  67. sigaba:

    It shouldn’t make any difference what the nature of a physical system is — if it is sufficiently rare, then it is designed.

    1- It is the nature of the system we are trying to determine
    2- It takes more than just being sufficiently rare to warrant a design inference wrt Intelligent Design and intelligent design.
    3- And it ain’t just protein synthesis. There is a requirement for several different proteins of varying quantities to work together
    4- DNA does nothing by itself. It is just one component in a semiotic system
    5- The Design Inference extends beyond biology- read “The Privileged Planet”- for example:

    “The one place that has observers is the one place that also has perfect solar eclipses.”…

    “There is a final, even more bizarre twist. Because of Moon-induced tides, the Moon is gradually receding from Earth at 3.82 centimeters per year. In ten million years will seem noticeably smaller. At the same time, the Sun’s apparent girth has been swelling by six centimeters per year for ages, as is normal in stellar evolution. These two processes, working together, should end total solar eclipses in about 250 million years, a mere 5 percent of the age of the Earth. This relatively small window of opportunity also happens to coincide with the existence of intelligent life. Put another way, the most habitable place in the Solar System yields the best view of solar eclipses just when observers can best appreciate them.”

    BTW no one thought pulsars were alien signals- well maybe the press, but not the researchers. The signal was too messy.

  68. sigaba:

    Everybody here goes to elaborate pains to distinguish between creationism and intelligent design, but atheism, materialism, and methodological naturalism are not properly distinguished, and all are treated as if they were the same thing.

    I would say it is a given that all materialists are atheists who adhere to methodological naturalism.

    Are all atheists also materialists? Do all atheists adhere to methodological naturalsim?

    Can one be an atheist and still worship Mother Nature and Father Time? Perhaps if you deny that you do so.

    So, what’s your point?

  69. KF-

    Your links have no information in support of your arguments. The Wikipedia article on genetic code does not claim that it is too complex to have arisen from nature, and if it did, Wikipedia is no useable authority anyways.

    I have read your post. You argue that a code implies a design, but you have no basis to claim this. You refer to the concept of “functionally specified complex information” but this receives a definition that is teleological –it is this thing because it shows purpose and “foresight.” You appeal to a ridiculous fallacy that “like causes like” (somehow attributed to Newton, as if that made a difference), and your principle evidence seems to be that DNA can be compared to a paper tape machine.

    You appeal to statistical improbabilities of the process itself or the code it contains, but your account of the statistical trials necessary to create the code is incomplete at best, and as an “experiment” you attempt an infinite monkey procedure in Microsoft Word(!) without making any effort to show that this process is an accurate model of how DNA is actually created and mutated. If it is rare to see Shakespeare in a monkey trial, thus you argue it must be astronomically more rare to encode collagen in DNA, but these two procedures are not remotely analogous.

    At length, most of your post, you recapitulate established facts about how DNA is transcribed, but this information is irrelevant, because you have not proven that code implies design. You then finish off arguments from ignorance, intuitions that any such thing as complex as a cell could not possibly be natural, because, well, we cannot imagine how. It is wondrous, and it might be designed, but none of your arguments here are to that effect.

    You then, naturally, indulge in some Bible quotes, just to reassure everyone that this theory is in fact a form of worship and is ideologically safe.

    So I repeat, your criteria for design are arbitrary and would apply to any arbitrarily selected phenomena in nature, living or not, and constitutes a teleological argument for a designer. You have no evidentiary basis for this belief, and it is impossible to prove it true or false. No trial or protocol could possibly be devised that could tell the difference between “functionally specified complex information” and “information.”

  70. Joe-

    It takes more than just being sufficiently rare to warrant a design inference wrt Intelligent Design and intelligent design.

    You’re right, it also has to “look like” whatever process we have decided, by assertion, is design. It used to be Behean irreducible complexity, but because that is spent and discredited, we now have Meyer popularizing digital codes, because apparently we’ve run out of mousetraps.

    I would say it is a given that all materialists are atheists who adhere to methodological naturalism.

    Most scientists believe in a God, many would claim to be Christian, and almost all would say they are methodological naturalists. The assertion that they are not is rooted in sectarian disagreements over the proper exegesis of holy scripture, nothing more.

  71. 71
    Chance Ratcliff

    Digital codes imply design. This is hardly disputable. The information encoded into DNA is a base 4 digital string specifying, among other things, a base 20 amino acid alphabet within the context of the system in which it functions. A design inference is warranted here, and can be falsified by citing an empirically verifiable material process capable of establishing such a relationship.

    There are plenty of examples of digital codes, and systems in which they function, being the verifiable products of design, and none which can be attributed to a verifiable material process.

    Irreducible complexity implies design also. When we find a system composed of multiple, interdependent parts working together to perform a function, where the function of the system cannot be performed by any of the individual parts themselves, and removal of any of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning, we have irreducible complexity and a design inference is warranted. The system for transferring information from DNA into an amino acid sequence is such a system. This can be falsified by citing an empirically verifiable material process capable of establishing such a mechanism.

    There are also plenty of examples of irreducibly complex systems being the verifiable products of design, and none which can be credited to a verifiable material process.

  72. sigaba:

    It used to be Behean irreducible complexity, but because that is spent and discredited . . .

    Nonsense. Behe’s notion is very much alive and well. What we have been treated to, rather than rational refutations, is handwaving hypotheticals, like Miller’s attempt to push co-option, Matzke’s imaginary “assume system A changing into system B” and so on.

    Irreducible complexity is very much a live issue. Is it everything? No. Does it cover all cases? Perhaps not. But it is, as Darwin recognized, a fundamental problem for the traditional slight, successive mutations storyline.

  73. Digital codes imply design. This is hardly disputable.

    Yeah that’s handwaving, Chance.

    Nonsense. Behe’s notion is very much alive and well

    No it’s not. These arguments aren’t generated to convince knowledgable people, they’re created to catch the attention of the press and the lay public. Behe’s been dead since Dover. I mean you can believe it, but it’s a philosophical thing at best at this point, that’s why the popular metaphors has moved on. The concept is still as terrible as ever, but still.

  74. 74

    sigaba,

    I am traveling, so I cannot participate in this conversation as much as I might otherwise, but I have to say that your comments demonstrate a woefully inadequate (undisciplined, really) conception of what information is, and how it operates within the systems that use it to produce physical effects.

    Perhaps if you’d approach this without the absolute certainty that you have nothing to learn, you’d come to actually understand issues that you (demonstrably, without a doubt) are uneducated about.

  75. 75
    Chance Ratcliff

    “Yeah that’s handwaving, Chance.”

    Nope, that’s the fact of direct experience with digital codes. Digital codes implies design is the premise, and it can be invalidated by demonstrating a non-intelligent, chance-and-necessity source of digital codes.

    DNA is a base 4 chemical code that corresponds to a 20 character string of amino acid residues, withing the context of a system that maps elements from from one set of strings into another. This is coded information transfer, and systems which transfer information from one form to another are readily established by intelligent agents.

    Either you’re claiming that DNA does not contain a code, or that such codes are not the exclusive products of intelligent activity. If you’re claiming something else entirely, please be specific.

  76. 76
    Chance Ratcliff

    “No it’s not. These arguments aren’t generated to convince knowledgable people, they’re created to catch the attention of the press and the lay public. Behe’s been dead since Dover. I mean you can believe it, but it’s a philosophical thing at best at this point, that’s why the popular metaphors has moved on. The concept is still as terrible as ever, but still.”

    The above is an example of a substance-free comment. It’s an insipid rant, and contains no argument against the concept or definition of irreducible complexity.

  77. S:

    Are you really serious?

    You tried twice to dismiss my use of the existence of codes in living cells as in effect a question-begging assumption. You used the terms “axiom” and then “premise,” in contexts where that intended inference to question-begging on my part was obvious. In reply I pointed out that the reality of such was a matter of well established empirical fact, giving references on the topic.

    Instead of simply acknowledging the fact, you have played the ignore the correction, then move goal posts to a new tangential objection rhetorical stunt.

    And yes, at this point, “rhetorical stunt” is an appropriate and accurate description of what you have been doing. Please, do better.

    If you think I would rely on Wiki of the slanderous and strawmannish hatchet job on ID [which I have taken time to expose here at UD some time ago], to give an actual outright admission that the existence of coding and communication systems and associated organised functional machinery implies design, think again: cf. here and here.

    As I noted, I cited Wiki to document that there is a commonly understood factual basis for my earlier use of the existence of digital data in DNA as a generally accepted, well warranted reality.

    What you have done here is to play a red herring, rhetorical strawman objection by serial distractions game.

    I have documented the real point at stake, that the reality of digital codes and related communication systems in the cell is a fact, not a mere questionable assumption, assertion or dubious premise. By now, you know or should know that, but evidently cannot bring yourself to acknowledge it or what it entails.

    A reasonable interlocutor, by contrast, would at that point acknowledge the point: yes, it is established as a reasonable fact that there are codes in use as object code in the cell, with associated communication systems.

    And, in particular, as the OP as set up has said, those codes are used to manufacture proteins. (Again, well established fact.)

    It turns out that there are hundreds or thousands of proteins in a typical cell, with 300 AA in the chain being a typical number. At 4.32 bits of info carrying capacity per AA — 1 of 20 states for the overwhelming majority of cases — it is not hard to add up the amount of information implied by a typical protein: 4 * 300 ~ 1,200 bits [well beyond a 500 bit threshold], and there are hundreds of proteins to be made and put to work in the cell based on the coding system.

    That information is obviously — again, well established fact not speculation — functionally specific, and comes from isolated islands in the space of possible AA sequences of similar length. This can in the first instance be seen from the isolation of protein fold domains in sequence space, on Hamming distance measures. (Look up Durston’s 2007 published results of info in 15 protein families, which allows for the redundancies and variabilities of sequences in the islands of function, here and onwards.)

    The context here is that folding (and in the OOL context this also implies chirality/handedness and the challenge of interfering cross reactions and/or that of encapsulation and gating . . . this gets worse and worse, not better as one digs in . . . ), which must be implied by the specific sequence, is already a major functional constraint that eliminates the vast majority of AA sequence space, and leads to islands of discrete function.

    But there is more.

    DNA holds protein-assembly codes.

    Codes, that function in an organised system that maintains the strings, unzips, transcribes and edits the resulting mRNAs.

    The mRNAs are then sent to the rough endoplasmic reticulum or the like location, where a waiting ribosome locks in and pulls together its two main parts, as the animation and images show in the OP. With the action of various support molecules, and a stream of tRNA’s loaded with the right AA’s, proteins are initiated and elongated then ended and released. Folding — especially for the more complex — is often chaperoned, and we should note that non-functional, more stable folds are possible and spontaneously propagating — prions, implicated in mad cow disease, scrapies and possibly Alzheimer’s.

    Where also, the tRNA’s hold the AA in a standard coupler, the CCA tail. These work as position-arm devices with standard joint tool-tips. They are loaded with the correct AA based on a cluster of special enzymes that pick up the correct tRNA from its overall configuration. That is, the tRNA’s are loaded INFORMATIONALLY.

    Such — and more — implies that we are dealing with a complex, integrated communication and information processing system, based on using a symbolic code. Such a system is, first in key part — architecture — irreducibly complex, i.e a cluster of well-matched components must be present and set up with correct correspondence, as the diagram to be added in the OP in a moment will show. Coding and decoding must correspond, protocols must be set up to cover language, and this must be physically instantiated. The core cluster of architectural pieces is irreducibly complex –

    and BTW, your attempted dismissal of Behe on a judicial hatchet job is inadvertently revealing — cf. on IC here, including the discussion on page 2 on how IC is routinely used in knockout based research into the function of genes . . . the objector sites don’t usually talk about that part of the story –

    . . . as a cluster of key parts are all necessary, in the correct arrangement and co-ordination, or the function irretrievably breaks down. This is in fact a commonplace of engineering, and it is not unexpected.

    Worse, codes that function ins step by step finite sequences of actions that implement a definite task and achieve a definite end point product or state are direct indications of intent and purpose: algorithms. They also imply language, as symbolic systems are inherently linguistic and again purposeful.

    At this stage I simply expect more tangential objections, but the point is that your objections are systematically ill informed and based on the rhetoric of distractions and distortions.

    That is revealing, especially as there is an alternative that G was boasting of having in hand: dozens of couner-examples to the known source of FSCO/I: design.

    I am sure given the intensity of debates, that if such were so, there would be entire sites set up to highlight such cases. Over the years, I have seen attempted cases, by now over a dozen, but in every case brought to my attention, they prove the opposite of what was claimed.

    Weasel is a case of purposeful goal directed intelligent search. GAs and evolutionary computing generally depends on the same basic inputs, indeed in a world of search for search (S4S) one can use active information as a metric of the intelligently added info that allows performance in excess of what would be expected from straight random search. The perceived canals on Mars, had they been real, would have been strong indications of planetary scale design. Instead, the drawings were evidences of what the observers thought they were seeing. The Youtube simulation exercise where clocks allegedly spontaneously self assemble and evolve, is an example of failing to understand just what is needed to make something as “simple” as meshing gears, and what is requires to get such into proper alignment. (A gear is a highly complex and functionally specific 3-d object. The alignments and meshing to get to function, not to mention pinning to properly — exactlingly –aligned axes, all have to be explained on a 3-d basis, and that highlights the rapidity with which FSCO/I and irreducible complexity come to bear.)

    And so forth.

    Again, if you have a genuinely substantial objection the easy answer to the Meyer challenge is direct: show that FSCO/I of 500+ bits is on observation, originally produced by blind chance and mechanical necessity without intelligent direction.

    Persistent resort to tangential objections (themselves too often riddled with fallacies), in absence of this simply inadvertently unde4rscoes the degree of empirical warrant attaching to the inference to design on FSCO/I as sign.

    KF

  78. F/N: I have updated the OP, on irreducible complexity as well as on DNA and communication systems. KF

  79. GREGORY: You have been uncivil. Instead of resolving the matter by taking responsibility and making amends, you have tried to pretend that the fault lies elsewhere, now with “threats.” Let’s be frank. You called me deceitful at 4 above in the opening phrase [where I replied correctively at 5 promptly . . . which you obviously refused to heed], and that is an unwarranted and provably false accusation. I have pointed that out at was it 59, with onward links provided for those needing documentation on WHY I reject your attempt to force-fit design theory and thinkers into categories of your manufacture that amount to strawmannish caricatures that set up all sorts of tendentious insinuations. I am calling you to be responsible, and return to reasonable standards of discussion. Take this as a freebie warning. KF

    _________

    @Eric #62

    Since I am being threatened with ‘Strikes’ here, I will not answer you. I’ve suggested you contact me directly. That is likely a better solution than more talk here. And it is safe and civilised.

    “you argued that Dembski makes a clear distinction between ‘intelligent design’ and ‘design.’”

    I’ve addressed this already in the other ‘Omega’ thread and even still you are not speaking accurately. IDT vs. the design argument. That’s what Dembski tries to distinguish.

    Again, ‘IDT’ is *not* a monster that can swallow ‘design theory.’ The master category is not for sale.

  80. Chance: I interpret digital cods in your sense as primarily speaking of the code system. In the case of code strings, the OP shows that sufficiently short code strings — MUCH shorter than 500 – 1,000 bits — can be produced by chance, but the problem then becomes finding the code in the sea of gibberish [even for 19 and 24 character code cases], as the amount of computing time wasted on the exercise is showing. KF

  81. GREGORY: You have made a false, poisonous accusation at 4 above, in effect calling me a liar, without warrant. You seem to wish to ignore that basic fact, and act as though all is well and that it is all my fault on conflating design theory as you now wish to define it with Intelligent Design Theory as you wish to define it. You need to fix that. As for your basic assertions on design theory (tantamount to a recirculation of your talking points on id vs ID), they were addressed months ago as already linked. Neither of your categories fits, and they are rejected as tendentious. The pivotal focus for this thread happens to be, that an inference to design as causal process that best explains an object etc, on empirically reliable tested sign is a reasonable and indeed scientific endeavour, which can be cross checked against the real authority, the state of nature. So far, despite claims to be able to empirically overthrow, such is conspicuous by absence. In that context, I have less than no interest in side tracks over tendentious talking points, as has already been pointed out. Now, please fix your false accusation problem. At this point, you are verging on threadjacking. KF

    ______________

    ‘Design theory’ differs from ‘Intelligent Design Theory.’ If you don’t wish to respect that, then call it a lie and hope that people believe you.

    You do *NOT* speak for ‘design theory and thinkers,’ KF. You are promoting something different: IDT.

    Pointing this out is to liberate ‘design theory and thinkers’ from your IDism. Real design theorists and thinkers reject IDT, openly, in public and globally. I was in a room full of ‘design theorists and thinkers’ in western Europe in 2012 who laughed at IDT, wanting to disassociate themselves from it! That’s not false reporting (or any sort of ‘personal attack’), it’s just the reality on the ground.

    Accepting that ‘design theory’ differs from IDT should be a simple, reasonable, logical admission. But for some reason you are blowing it out of proportion. Why is this? There is nothing ‘uncivil’ implied or meant, so try not to take it personally.

  82. sigaba:

    It used to be Behean irreducible complexity, but because that is spent and discredited,…

    No it takes evidence to discredit IC. And to date there isn’t any that demonstrates that blind and undirected chemical processes ca produce anything, let alone IC systems/ structures.

    Most scientists believe in a God, many would claim to be Christian, and almost all would say they are methodological naturalists.

    According to the National Academy of Science most scioentists are atheists.

    Where are you getting your data from?

  83. Gregory:

    ‘Design theory’ differs from ‘Intelligent Design Theory.’

    Good luck proving that.

  84. S: Methodological naturalism, as pushed in recent years, boils down to ideological, materialist question-begging. If something is going to rule out a reasonable possibility before facts can speak, and would turn science into a game in a materialist ideological circle, frustrating the vital goal of science of actually open-mindedly seeking to learn the truth about our world based on empirical evidence, it is a question-begging fallacy. And unfortunately that is exactly what a priori materialism is doing. Years ago, it didn’t make sense for marxists to lock up discussion in a marxian materialist circle, and it makes no sense today to do much the same. And that is not by my say-so, but it is about a very real problem that undermines one of the major goals of genuine science. KF

  85. Again, if you have a genuinely substantial objection the easy answer to the Meyer challenge is direct: show that FSCO/I of 500+ bits is on observation, originally produced by blind chance and mechanical necessity without intelligent direction.

    There’s a few very big problems with this:
    1) You don’t know FSCO/I when you see it. I can connect a temperature sensor to a simple thermodynamic system and it will start emitting bits, millions of them. However, for any string of 500, it’s impossible to distinguish between complex information and random information. All we can do is look at the bit string and see if it “looks like” a pattern of something we’ve seen before, some human cultural artifact like Shakespeare or some patterned mathematical construct, or maybe the first few base pairs of Heme. This is a hopelessly subjective procedure.
    2) Let’s say we surmount this and we do see a string that has a pattern, it’s impossible to prove that it isn’t the work of a Designer. Since we don’t know the Designer’s methods, it’s impossible for us to control for her actions upon the system. We cannot prove that she didn’t actually use our experimental setup to create the message.
    3) And it is a minor point, but it has not been proven systematically that any particular human creation has FSCO/I, it is argued by assertion that human beings are intelligent and they can create or recognize FSCO/I.

    Again, this procedure is completely teleological and contingent, because we’re imputing finality on the system, as if had a purpose of “searching” for Shakespeare or whatever output it gives us that we decide is FSCO/I. Contingency in nature has a long history in proofs for the existence of God, for example by Aquinas, but it has been illegitimate for a scientific argument for at least 400 years.

    I would have thought that if there was a significant flaw in my argument it could have been dealt with rather briefly, but instead your responses get longer and longer, and reiterate, page after turgid page, information which I do not dispute and is beside the point. You do not actually clarify your argument to remove its defects — it’s reliance on unscientific concepts such as teleology and final cause, it’s failure to use proper statistical models, its emotional appeals and appeals to ignorance.

    This argument, as you have made it, can convince no one, unless they had prior motivation to believe. It will continue to entertain readers of popular books and you will continue having your doctrinal disputes here in the thread, slinging your “evidence” of quotes from your respective Google Docs pages, but it cannot prevail as science in the form it takes. It’s not going to improve at all unless you rectify these things:

    * Your theory’s reliance on contingency in nature.
    * Your theory’s statistical argument, and it’s profoundly inadequate statistical protocol.

  86. Here, I know exactly how we can settle this:


    BOOL isThisInformationFCOSI(unsigned char *bytes, size_t bytesLength) {
    BOOL val;
    /* implementation continues */
    return val;
    }

    If this procedure is strictly logical reasoning, you should be able to finish that. Add any input parameters you need.

  87. 87

    I can connect a temperature sensor to a simple thermodynamic system and it will start emitting bits, millions of them. However, for any string of 500, it’s impossible to distinguish between complex information and random information.

    The transcription of form through a sensor of some sort is not a transfer of information, its just a transcription of form. If your sensor is going to enable a display, or be attached to an actuator perhaps, then it becomes functional.

    Again, you simply do not know what you are talking about.

  88. 88

    by the way… how many temperature sensors hooked up to thermodynamic systems do we find in nature? Second question: What is their output and where does it go?

  89. Upright BiPed makes it much clearer.

    The story is: DNA-RNA-protein synthesis forms a communication channel, and where there is a communications channel, there must be a sender?

  90. If your sensor is going to enable a display, or be attached to an actuator perhaps, then it becomes functional.

    I admit I’m not clear on how this significantly changes the experiment. I did imply I am recording the information from the sensor. Is there some sort of provision that the information must act on the world or something? I’m not sure how this would change the input into the system. The distinction between “form” and “information” in your use appears to be semantic.

  91. When you guys say “information” you mean Shannon information, right?

  92. 92

    Like I said earlier, I simply do not have time for an extended post. I’ll have to trust that you can gather the issues from a previous conversation.

    Try going here

  93. I see. Thanks, but all you’ve done is reworded the definition of a classical information channel.

    I think your argument is faulty. In 4, it does not follow that the “arbitrary” arrangement of the components of the system cannot be reduced to physical law, in the case that the representation in 1 is created by a physical, natural phenomenon.

  94. S:

    FSCO/I is shown by observed function, sensitive to disturbance by moderate noise injection. It is in fact often and easily recognisable as in text in English such as your post. In the case of object code, as in DNA making protein, it is well known.

    Function in relevant senses — dismissals notwithstanding — is quite objective, observable and often obvious. Cf DNA and mRNA in protein synthesis. Is THAT hopelessly subjective and useless? I would think not.

    If function is not apparent or observed (i.e. we are not looking at having to create some mythical universal decryption algorithm), it is not relevant. But the cases where it is relevant, are obviously highly important.

    Next, you have pulled a selectively hyperskeptical switcheroo.

    Proof is not in the remit of science. Reliable empirically grounded warrant on inductive logic is. Think about why you did that in a case you are obviously disinclined to accept, when there is no sign that you object to ever so many similar cases that are normal in scientific praxis, and particularly on matters of theories about modelling the past or history of an object.

    Similarly, inference to design as credible causal process is not inference to designers of any given nature or class. Various candidates may be possible, to be addressed on other evidential issues. E.g. we infer arson on signs without needing to know more than that arsonists are possible.

    In observational sciences, we cannot impose experimental controls, we must work with the world as a going concern.

    You are back to implying circularity without warrant. Humans are something we are and experience. We observe characteristics and behaviours to which we attach labels like intelligence and design. That is not to mean that such are unwarranted assertions. Just the opposite, the phenomena are antecedent to analysis.

    are you willing to make a general denial of the reality of intelligence and design, even as you use a computer designed by intelligent, knowledgeable designers?

    Absurd.

    Similarly, the existence of known cases of intelligence and design, all around us immediately entails that such is possible. We observe similar behaviours in say beavers, and that gives good reason to avoid thinking that humans exhaust the possibility.

    as for FSCO/I, it can be calculated, and shown from the simple example of the data in your post. X-no of ASCII characters, objectively recognisable as functional in English. 7 bits per character, ASCII code. 7*X – 500, yields the in excess of the solar system threshold.

    This looks like willful obtuseness at this point.

    You have already seen a rough calc for a typical functional protein and have been pointed to cases for more exact and refined values.

    We are not dealing with alleged proofs, much less proofs of God.

    Are you denying that string data structures such as appear in posts here, of form . . . -*-*-*- . . . are contingent, or observable as such? If so, kindly explain away the choice: connexion vs connection as spellings of a certain word. In DNA base sequences are contingent, as is so in Amino Acid strings. Only, it is certain strings that will function. And it is a reasonable analytical step to consider the field of possibilities before highlighting the relative few that will fit a given context and contribute to function.

    I have taken time, repeatedly, to correct foundational defects in your argument, only to see the same cropping up over and over, this, at a time when I have had other things that needed doing. Do you see any reason for me to go beyond such critical “little [but pivotal] errors at the beginning”?

    You may wish to convert a discussion on empirical signs of design into a grand metaphysical argument on teleology and the four classical causes as you wish. The problem starts way before that, and if you struggle with things that are as simple as that DNA is an observed case of a code in the living cell, no further grand debates can be fruitful.

    You may resort to statistical protocols all you want, that is not going to change a basic fact of blind sampling. If you have the equivalent of a truckload of beans with a few gold beads — say, five or ten — scattered in them, a blindly sampled handful will only be likely to come up with what is typical: beans.

    I suggest that you actually take a moment to look back above, and see what is happening. So far, it looks a lot like this or its fellow travellers:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . . the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[--> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[--> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [Cf clip here. If you think these words are quote-mined or unrepresentative, kindly read the fuller clip and comments as well as other remarks cited.]

    KF

  95. PS: Pull Word. Put into it a relevant text block. Call the spelling and grammar checks. Let us assume they pass. Call the properties and examine number of characters. Multiply by 7 for ASCII. Similarly, use a compiler, test and compile then run a program. Use a file statistics package to see size. And so forth. Try the exercise of noise bombing a program at bit or character level and see if it still works. Try the same with an AutoCAD drawing file, etc. Do you see why I am not particularly impressed with objections that in a digital age, try to pretend that FSCO/I is meaningless or dubious?

  96. sigaba:

    When you guys say “information” you mean Shannon information, right?

    Not necessarily.

    Shannon (so-called) “information” is useful as a purely statistical tool to calculate complexity. It is not helpful for determining function. Other levels of information beyond Shannon statistics include syntax, semantics, pragmatics. These latter levels can be loosely categorized as levels of “function.”

    Calculating the Shannon measure can be a step in the process of detecting design, but we have to be able to look beyond Shannon calculations.

  97. FSCO/I is shown by observed function, sensitive to disturbance by moderate noise injection. It is in fact often and easily recognisable as in text in English such as your post. In the case of object code, as in DNA making protein, it is well known.

    In other words, you know it when you see it. I’m not sure you understand the meaning of the word “objective,” it means independent of the human mind. Your definition requires a human mind to judge, and humans could disagree depending on their level of knowledge or even their aesthetic sense.

    Humans are something we are and experience. We observe characteristics and behaviours to which we attach labels like intelligence and design. That is not to mean that such are unwarranted assertions. Just the opposite, the phenomena are antecedent to analysis.

    This is little more than solipsism. Saying that there can be no truth without the mind is a denial of external reality.

    I suggest that you actually take a moment to look back above, and see what is happening. So far, it looks a lot like this or its fellow travellers:

    This is no search for truth. It is a search for enemies.

    ________

    S: Do tell us, have you read the OP (much less any onward linked stuff)? If so, could you give a thumbnail summary, highlighting strengths, weaknesses and ideas on ways forward? If not, what is the basis for the several critiques we have had to correct above, some of them more than once? KF

  98. 98
    Chance Ratcliff

    BOOL isThisInformationFSCI(String* message, Context* context) {

       String* code = context->compile(message);
       try {context->execute(code)}
       catch {return 0;}
       return countBits(code) > THRESHOLD;
    }

    Above, Context is an abstract class with two abstract methods, compile and execute, which return the compiled code string from whichever concrete context was supplied and executes the code. This arrangement allows for the method to compile code in whatever language is specified in the concrete implementation and run it in a supplied virtual machine. THRESHOLD is a constant which is appropriate to the system that generated the message. It might be set at something like 500 bits.

    The logic here is straightforward. The message must compile into valid code without error, and execute without throwing an exception. If both of these conditions are satisfied, and the code string length exceeds the threshold, then there is FSCI in the message. This demonstrates what an objective function might look like in its minimum recognizable form: code of sufficient length which compiles and executes without error.

  99. S:

    I think you have a problem with what it means to observe.

    For a great many things indeed under widely met circumstances, seeing it is sufficient warrant to know it to be so.

    We see text and read it. We see an out of control car careering towards the crossing and jump out of its way, and more, much more. In ever so many important cases of observation in science, an experienced observer reporting orally or in writing or with text was and is more than enough warrant for establishing an objectively known state of affairs.

    In short, you are being selectively hyperskeptical again, given that you are relying on your knowledge of reading and writing to take part in this thread.

    Those learned skills and associated judgements are more than adequate to identify textual function.

    In the case of DNA and proteins, the path from code in DNA to AA sequences, folding, activation and function — cf. OP, is not in serious doubt. Your appropriate responsiveness to well established facts that seem not to be comfortable to you, however, for good reason all to evident in this thread, is.

    Now, on Shannon info, i.e. average info carrying capacity per symbol in a context, it is not sufficient to be a metric of FSCO/I. It is an index of complexity inasmuch as more symbols implies more alternative possibilities. We need to adjust for meaningfulness and function that are observable and sensitive to specific configuration. That is, there is limited tolerance for variation.

    FSCO/I as to deal with JOINT complexity and functional specificity, noting that while you are tempted to object, such is indeed observable and in many cases can be assigned values on a metric scale. Code that compiles and works is an obvious simple case, as is text that passes grammar and spell check and is meaningful in ways that depend on configuration.

    In other words a very large proportion of the files, web pages, programs, images etc we deal with from day to day are FSCO/I.

    And that you belabour this instead of starting from where the vast majority of those familiar with a digital world would, speaks volumes on just how serious Meyer’s challenge is. Let me clip from the OP:

    In making that case I suggest you start with OOL, and bear in mind Meyer’s remark on that subject in reply to hostile reviews:

    The central argument of my book is that intelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past. First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form).

    Notice the terminology he naturally uses and how close it is to the terms I and others have commonly used, functionally specific complex information. So much for that rhetorical gambit.

    He continues:

    Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power.

    Got that?

    Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question . . . . In order to [[scientifically refute this inductive conclusion] Falk would need to show that some undirected material cause has [[empirically] demonstrated the power to produce functional biological information apart from the guidance or activity a designing mind. Neither Falk, nor anyone working in origin-of-life biology, has succeeded in doing this . . .}

    In effect, on identifying traces from the remote past, and on examining and observing candidate causes in the present and their effects, one may identify characteristic signs of certain acting causes. These, on observation, can be shown to be reliable indicators or signs of particular causes in some cases.

    From this, by inductive reasoning on inference to best explanation, we may apply the Newtonian uniformity principle of like causing like.

    It so turns out that FSCO/I is such a sign, reliably produced by design, and design is the only empirically grounded adequate cause known to produce such. Things like codes [as systems of communication], complex organised mechanisms, complex algorithms expressed in codes, linguistic expressions beyond a reasonable threshold of complexity, algorithm implementing arrangements of components in an information processing entity, and the like are cases in point.

    It turns out that the world of the living cell is replete with such, and so we are inductively warranted in inferring design as best causal explanation. Not, on a priori imposition of teleology, or on begging metaphysical questions, or the like; but, on induction in light of tested, reliable signs of causal forces at work.

    So now can you show us significant cases where per observation, FSCO/I has been reliably produced by blind chance and mechanical necessity? As opposed to the world around us where it is a routine product of design?

    If indeed the only empirically warranted, observed cause — on billions of cases — is design, then that warrants an inference on FSCO/I as sign, that design is the best causal explanation.

    Which is the essential claim made as the design inference.

    KF

    PS: S, kindly observe the flow chart in the OP, which is similar to an activity diagram and expresses a case structure. CR’s example is a specific application to code.

  100. S: Please stop putting words into my mouth that don’t belong there and thoughts into my mind that don’t belong there. We undeniably are humans and as a part of our background experience and common sense knowledge base, we do experience and observe what it means to be designers and the results of such at work, starting with posts in this thread. To say that is to report a public, commonly known fact; to try to rhetorically pretend that this is not so in this context, the better to toss up objections is selective hyperskepticism and an inadvertent testimony to just how weak your case of objections is, which is also pretty much what happened with your attempt to dismiss that DNA is a code carrier in the living cell.. And, reality is what is, truth is what accurately describes it. Knowledge is that which is warranted to be a credibly accurate description. This does not reduce reality to mind or to words etc, but it does imply that such a thing as a warranted, credibly true description is an intellectual exercise. Sufficient has been pointed out at this stage that it should be evident to the onlooker what you know or should know, and should be prepared to acknowledge. That your position is leading you into a ladder of denials of that magnitude is utterly revealing on just how weak your case is. As in reductio ad absurdum. KF

  101. 101
    englishmaninistanbul

    sigbaba,

    I wonder if I could interest you in a little thought experiment, in the form of four simple questions:

    1. Is it possible that we could discover an artifact on Mars that would prove the existence of extraterrestrials, without the presence or remains of the extraterrestrials themselves?

    2. If yes, exactly what kind of artifact would suffice? Car? House? Writing? Complex device? Take your pick.

    3. Explain rationally why the existence of this artifact would convince you of the existence of extraterrestrials.

    4. Would that explanation be scientifically sound?

    I would assert the following:

    a. If you answer “Yes” to Question 4, then to deny ID is valid scientific methodology is nothing short of doublethink. You are saying that a rule that holds on Mars does not hold on Earth. How can that be right?

    b. If you can answer Question 3 while answering “No” to Question 4, then you are admitting that methodological naturalism/materialism is not always a reliable source of truth.

    c. If you support the idea that methodological naturalism/materialism is equivalent to rational thought, then you are obligated to answer “No” to Question 1.

  102. 102
    Chance Ratcliff

    KF, good examples at #95. Incidentally, the function sample I provided at #98 will accommodate a context which performs spelling and grammar checks on text, as well as any other type of string analysis. (I might revise the example to make it more correct and more generic.) The introduction of the context into the analysis shows that it’s a necessary part of the logic. In my opinion, messages must be considered in the context of a functional system in order to have any meaning. English text presupposes correct grammar, and program code presupposes correct syntax and semantics, as well as proper execution. Codon strings might presuppose an amino acid sequence which folds properly. These however are threshold conditions. Actual function will exist within the threshold of correct grammar, properly executing code, or folding sequences. Put another way, if the set F contains all valid sequences for a given context, then actual functional sequences F1 will have this relationship with the threshold set: F1 ⊂ F .

    As an example, the code
    int returnX(int x) {return x;}
    void doNothing() {return;}

    int main() {
    int x;
    x = returnX(x);
    doNothing();
    return 0;
    }

    Both functions are valid, but do nothing of consequence when called. These might exist in the set of valid sequences F, but not in the set of functional sequences F1. Likewise, the phrase, the circle is triangular, would pass a spelling and grammar check, but be unuseful. A DNA sequence could conceivably code for a protein which folds but has no significant metabolic effect on an organism. So function, while objective, can be hard to nail down without considering specific contexts. The threshold conditions are easier to come by.

    Accurate FSCI analysis would be less straightforward than the simple case, unless I’m mistaken. For instance, if the set S contains all possible input strings of a given length, then the information content of a valid message in bits, in a given context, would be -log2(cardinality(F)/cardinality(S)) where F is the set of valid strings for the context.

  103. 103
    Chance Ratcliff

    KF @80,

    “I interpret digital cods in your sense as primarily speaking of the code system. In the case of code strings, the OP shows that sufficiently short code strings — MUCH shorter than 500 – 1,000 bits — can be produced by chance, but the problem then becomes finding the code in the sea of gibberish…”

    Yes, that’s correct. However it’s my thinking that when we see intimations such as “DNA doesn’t really contain a code” or “codes don’t necessarily require intelligence” it’s relevant to make reference to the whole system. Interpreting the message requires systemic context. With regard to DNA codes, not only do we have a complex string of bits which represents another material entity, but this message exists within an elaborate system of information transfer that translates a series of coded messages into a concrete product. In the context of this system, design is implicated not just by the coded message, but by the whole system in which the code is executed. In fact, the message only makes sense given the context in which it operates.

    Still, perhaps I was commenting a bit wide of the OP. :)

  104. Yes!

    The arrangement of the parts in a thoughtful and mindful way to produce a desired effect is called intent and intent is clearly from mind not material. Matter alone does not display intentional states because matter does not have the ability to arrange itself.

  105. CR:

    Okay, yes, coded info (especially when used algorithmically as in protein synthesis — this is a no-brainer point) exist in systems that store, transfer, accept and use info. In this case the whole is a self replicating, self assembling entity, in addition with maintenance, error detection and sometimes correction etc.

    The logical focus for discussion, is where did such arise, how.

    OOL, then is the pivotal context, just as we saw with Thaxton et al in TMLO from 1984 on, and as Denton implied in the clip that appears in the OP.

    I find the focus of objectors on anything but, the promised cases where FSCO/I arises by blind chance and mechanical necessity, inadvertently revealing. (The suggestion that such a thing is imaginary (“subjective”) or ill defined or unobservable [if function has to be recognised] whatever, in a context where the objector has to read cases of FSCO/I and produce similar cases, is even more inadvertently revealing.

    I think we need to realise something like, we do not have any one size fits all definition by precise description of any number of key terms, including life.

    In many cases we proceed by key cases that ground a conceptual understanding, and lay a basis for descriptions, models and inference by evidently close family resemblance. Definition by key exemplars and close family resemblance is actually conceptually prior to precising definitions that try to set the borders of the concept. Where, any number of key concepts have insistently fuzzy borders, not just things like “baldness.”

    In light of all this, a “safe threshold” metric to identify cases where — on complexity and scope of search based on blind sampling — it is not reasonable/ plausible to think that blind, non-foresighted, non intentional, non-intelligent chance and mechanical necessity could originate cases of functionally specific information, is reasonable.

    KF

  106. EII: Good point. Do I have your permission to use it? KF

  107. 107

    LOL.

    Nice one @98 Chance Ratcliff.

    Looks like sigbaba won’t be coming back for a while.

  108. F/n:

    S: I’m not sure you understand the meaning of the word “objective,” it means independent of the human mind

    Indeed, it means, not MERELY subjective.

    Collins English is especially apt:

    objective [?b?d??kt?v]
    adj
    1. (Philosophy) existing independently of perception or an individual’s conceptions are there objective moral values?
    2. undistorted by emotion or personal bias
    3. of or relating to actual and external phenomena as opposed to thoughts, feelings, etc.

    4. (Medicine) Med (of disease symptoms) perceptible to persons other than the individual affected
    5. (Linguistics / Grammar) Grammar denoting a case of nouns and pronouns, esp in languages having only two cases, that is used to identify the direct object of a finite verb or preposition and for various other purposes. In English the objective case of pronouns is also used in many elliptical constructions (as in Poor me! Who, him?), as the subject of a gerund (as in It was me helping him), informally as a predicate complement (as in It’s me), and in nonstandard use as part of a compound subject (as in John, Larry, and me went fishing) See also accusative
    6. of, or relating to a goal or aim
    n
    1. the object of one’s endeavours; goal; aim
    2. (Military) Also called objective point Military a place or position towards which forces are directed
    3. an actual phenomenon; reality
    4. (Linguistics / Grammar) Grammar
    a. the objective case
    b. a word or speech element in the objective case
    5. (Physics / General Physics) Also called object glass Optics
    a. the lens or combination of lenses nearest to the object in an optical instrument
    b. the lens or combination of lenses forming the image in a camera or projector Abbreviation obj Compare subjective
    objectival [??bd??k?ta?v?l] adj
    objectively adv
    objectivity less commonly, objectiveness n

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

    Being objective does not mean that we do not or cannot experience something as observed or do/cannot recognise it as existing, or that observation under widely achieved circumstances does not provide adequate warrant for the independent reality of an object or a feature of an object.

    In the case of FSCO/I, we do recognise say text in English such as the first part of this sentence, and we do distinguish it from gibberish:h8tdg8yfg5tojg75r. We are aware that English text can stand some degree of corruption and still be recognisable (online archived books are a good example) but it does tot take much to convert language to gibberish. Similarly, some snow will not render images on TV unrecognisable, but beyond a point, it will. We see through such actual exemplar cases the independent, recognisable reality of what has been descriptively termed functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information, abbreviated, FSCO/I for convenience. It turns out that the same extends to computer code, whether source or object. Though, such tends to be pretty intolerant of noise. It also extends to structured strings that describe a nodes-arcs view of an entity, such as in a drawing package.

    That is a context where patently dismissive assertions end up exemplifying what they would dismiss. As in, refuting themselves.

    Have you copied, pasted into Word and done the spell and grammar checks yet? Then took in the number of characters and multiplied by 7? Is that number, in bits, of a string, which functions in English a case of objectively recognised, measured functional, specific info? If you think not, why not? And, why should anyone take your no seriously?

    If yes, your argument has already collapsed.

    I hope this sort of thing is helping you clarify basics.

    KF

  109. ‘Matter alone does not display intentional states because matter does not have the ability to arrange itself.’ – your #104, Andre

    I expect it’s just ‘counter-intuitive’, Andre, mon ami. We just have a ‘hunch’ that matter does not have the ability to arrange itself.

    Isn’t that right, sigbaba?

  110. Appearances are sometimes deceptive. We can’t see the mind, but Mung can locate it ‘locally’* (as Phil might put it) with a certain device he has.

    * i.e. not ‘non locally’. (I pick up an awful lot on here.)

    Ou est Gregoire?

  111. ‘I think we all need a little humility, and admit that we really don’t know anything.’

    A gross error, Billmaz. Absolutely wrong. Read Aldous Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy and find out how you can hone your unitive – as opposed to, analytical – intelligence.

    ‘We believe, some of us, but belief is not knowledge.’

    Another gross error. Faith and knowledge form a continuum, and that goes for secular faith-knowledge, as well. I routinely turn on the light-switch without any certainty that it will turn on the light. I’m just an old-fashioned ‘fundie’.

    Not trying to take the rise. I’m just in a kind of ‘stream of consciousness’ mode, at the moment. And I’m waiting for KF to clip my ear, any time now.

  112. Axel:

    Interesting isn’t it that objectors over the past several days have done anything but try to actually substantiate their claim that FSCO/I can be shown to be produced by blind chance and mechanical necessity without intelligent action, with dozens of cases in hand. A lot of tangents, red herrings, and strawmen. Multiplied by some basic, basic misunderstandings.

    You are right that — as an example of basic misunderstandings — we should take up BM’s:

    I don’t reject anything since, like Socrates, I know nothing. I think we all need a little humility, and admit that we really don’t know anything. We believe, some of us, but belief is not knowledge.

    I suspect Socrates did not literally mean that he knew nothing, as that would imply that he did not know he held this state of belief.

    This brings out as well the underlying incoherence at work. To claim that we do not know anything is an implicit knowledge claim, and is self refuting.

    Similarly, no-one has claimed that belief is equal to knowledge. That’s a strawman. What has been claimed is that knowledge is justified, true belief, classically; or, post Gettier counter-examples and the like, knowledge is warranted, credibly true belief.

    A good example of such is the Royce-Trueblood point: error exists. If one labels this E and then puts up E AND NOT_E, one soon sees that the attempt to deny such leads to confirming the reality of E. E is undeniably true, it is believable and it is knowledge, warranted to certainty.

    So, true humility will reckon with the possibility of error but also with the possibility of truth and knowledge of the truth on important matters.

    But in fact, BM does not intend this to be a global view, just one targetted at the Christian faith, as his context makes plain. Which makes this a case of plain simple selective hyperskepticism.

    He would never dream of denying or dismissing the historical, factual foundation of a lot of classical history that has less or comparable warrant to the foundations of the Christian faith, but — apparently because of an underlying hostility to the Christian gospel — he is exerting a double standard of warrant, intended to block the evidence for Christian foundations from speaking.

    That is sad.

    Now, this blog, and this context is not really the time or place for a prolonged theological side-track debate, but this is a question of historical warrant, and one where skeptics hoping to push us on the horns of a dilemma learn a lesson. Nope it’s not, if we reply we somehow prove ID is about theology — as somebody already tried above. And nope, it is not that if you ignore we get to poison the well without response.

    Instead, this is a case where objectors show the gaps in their understanding of what constitutes warrant for a historical case, and of how inference to best explanation of evident facts speaks to such. All, with pretty direct onward application to addressing inference to the best explanation for the well observed fact of FSCO/I in the world of life. It is no surprise that objectors are making basically the same blunder in both cases: selective hyperskepticism, rooted in an underlying evidently visceral hostility to the very penumbra of the shadow of the possibility of God.

    What I will do is to lay out a list of twelve minimal facts collated by Habermas et al over the past generation, on points of Christian foundations that meet criteria such as multiple sources, embarrassment to the reporting source, hostile witness corroboration, etc.

    As a result these facts hold the support of the published scholarship across the spectrum of opinions, from conservative to rather radical scholarship, by an absolute majority to an overwhelming majority. The base of articles used is something like 3,000 now. Let me clip:

    The easiest answer is to simply list the facts that meet the above criteria and are accepted by a majority to an overwhelming majority of recent and current scholarship after centuries of intense debate:

    1. Jesus died by crucifixion [--> which implies his historicity!].

    2. He was buried.

    3. His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.

    4. The tomb was empty (the most contested).

    5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus (the most important proof).

    6. The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers.

    7. The resurrection was the central message.

    8. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.

    9. The Church was born and grew.

    10. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.

    11. James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic).

    12. Paul was converted to the faith (Paul was an outsider skeptic).

    . . . . The list of facts is in some respects fairly obvious.

    That a Messiah candidate was captured, tried and crucified — as Gamaliel hinted at — was effectively the death-knell for most such movements in Israel in the era of Roman control; to have to report such a fate was normally embarrassing and discrediting to the extreme in a shame-honour culture. The Jews of C1 Judaea wanted a victorious Greater David to defeat the Romans and usher in the day of ultimate triumph for Israel, not a crucified suffering servant. In the cases where a movement continued, the near relatives took up the mantle. That is facts 1 – 3 right there. Facts 10 – 12 are notorious. While some (it looks like about 25% of the survey of scholarship, from what I have seen) reject no 4, in fact it is hard to see a message about a resurrection in C1 that did not imply that the body was living again, as Wright discusses here. Facts 5 – 9 are again, pretty clearly grounded.

    So, the challenge is to explain this cluster or important subsets of it, without begging questions and without selective hyperskepticism.

    Now the trick is to take the credible facts and seek the best explanation. (In the linked, I lay out a table that does just that. I suggest that onlookers may want to look at the already linked and may want to look at Wallace’s Cold Case Christianity, for a more detailed first level intro.)

    It will be easily seen that none of the major skeptical accounts over the past 2,000 years comes close to explaining the credible facts. In short, Christians have excellent reason to hold confidence in their foundations. Never mind the hostile, dismissive climate of our day, which too often takes on a raucous, smearing, abusive or even slanderous tone.

    And back on the ID issues, it is very clear that if objectors really had dozens of clear cases where FSCO/I was reliably produced by blind chance and mechanical necessity without intelligence coming in by the back door, they would have entire web sites trumpeting the facts, and would be in a position to crush the design theory argument on the merits. The ACTUAL tactics we see, red herrings, strawman caricatures, snide well poisoning, tell us that that is exactly what they cannot do.

    It is quite plain that — as Meyer so aptly summed up — there is exactly one empirically grounded adequate cause of FSCO/I: design.

    Where the world of life is chock full of FSCO/I, starting from DNA.

    KF

  113. F/N: It bears noting that design theory does not appeal to mind as such, but instead to intelligence, which is immediately inferred from behaviours in patterns reflective of insight, ability to form purposes, then manipulate entities to fulfill goals etc. E.g. to write a computer program, or a blog post.

    There is no need to do more than address relevant empirical clusters and commonly accepted explanatory constructs linked closely thereto.

    If we take mind — whatever stuff it be made of — to be a close associated term for something that shows independent intelligent behaviour, manifested in things like writing posts and programs etc, then that is enough. It is the class of intelligent entities, of which we are clearly members, that has shown the ability to create FSCO/I and we see no good empirically grounded reason to infer that such can arise by blind chance and mechanical necessity. What we then can see is that FSCO/I is an empirically grounded, tested, reliable sign of intelligence acting through design. Whatever stuff intelligence is or may be made of, it leaves characteristic signs that we can infer it.

    Much as how no man has yet seen an electron, but a major province of technology is named after such. And much as how we cannot directly see information but may so closely infer it from its manifestations that it is measurable and a major part of technology also.

    Where, functionally specific info rooted in deliberate and specific configuration is, again, a closely associated product of intelligent action.

    The problem for the objectors to design theory is at bottom, that such FSCO/I is a major feature of the world of cell based life, starting from DNA. And, similarly, similar features mark our evidently fine tuned observed universe, setting up a context that enables C-chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life.

    All of these point to intelligent design as a major causal force, and thus by close association, to intelligent designers of whatever form or substance, at the relevant points to cause that which is reflected in the signs we see.

    All I will say, is that it is interesting that — despite repeated invitation to engage on substance (cf. also here at UD) — on the cosmological side, where the implication of a cosmos building intelligent designer is directly at stake, there has been dead silence from objectors so far as I can see above. Telling.

    KF

  114. Lizzie sez (in response to englishmaninistanbul 101) that if the alleged artifact reproduces then it wasn’t designed because allegedly things that reproduce with unguided variation can do just about anything (even though the evidence is to the contrary).

    Poor Lizzie, she still doesn’t understand that science requires positive evidence.

    They cannot account for simple replicators. They cannot account for those simple replicators becoming cells. And yet they are so sure, in the face of the evidence, that given replication with unguided variation, that those simple replcators gave rise to the diversity of life.

    As I said if it wasn’t for ID they wouldn’t have anything to talk about…

  115. 115
    Chance Ratcliff

    Joe, yes of course. If we found something like this, a design inference would only be warranted if it was not capable of self-replication. Somebody better fix up the explanatory filter. :)

  116. Joe @114:

    Ah, yes, the old “but, but biological things reproduce, therefore anything is possible and we can’t infer design” garbage.

    Why is it so hard for some people to think their way out of a paper bag?

  117. 117
    Chance Ratcliff

    computerist @107, thanks for the support.

    For all I know, sigaba is off somewhere working it out, perhaps by writing some code. At least it’s a possibility. However he only appeared mildly interested in engaging any substantive dialog, or discussing any details. There were a lot of dismissals, neglect of essential points, some political rhetoric, and perhaps a hint of curiosity in his comments. I thought his invitation to lay out some logic for FSCI detection in the form of a Boolean value function was an interesting challenge that warranted a response, and perhaps a bit of discussion. We’ll see.

  118. Joe:

    Here is Paley in Ch 2 on the subject of the discovery of a self replication facility and its effect on the design inference:

    Suppose, in the next place, that the person who found the watch should after some time discover that, in addition to all the properties which he had hitherto observed in it, it possessed the unexpected property of producing in the course of its movement another watch like itself — the thing is conceivable; that it contained within it a mechanism, a system of parts — a mold, for instance, or a complex adjustment of lathes, baffles, and other tools — evidently and separately calculated for this purpose . . . .

    The first effect would be to increase his admiration of the contrivance, and his conviction of the consummate skill of the contriver. Whether he regarded the object of the contrivance, the distinct apparatus, the intricate, yet in many parts intelligible mechanism by which it was carried on, he would perceive in this new observation nothing but an additional reason for doing what he had already done — for referring the construction of the watch to design and to supreme art . . . . He would reflect, that though the watch before him were, in some sense, the maker of the watch, which, was fabricated in the course of its movements, yet it was in a very different sense from that in which a carpenter, for instance, is the maker of a chair — the author of its contrivance, the cause of the relation of its parts to their use.

    Did EL address the origin of such self replication, on empirical observation of chance and necessity originating such? If not, should we not take account of the irreducible complexity involved in both communication systems and von Neumann self replicators, as was pointed out int eh OP above? As well as the issues on origin of a coding system for writing algorithms [cf DNA in the OP], i.e. language at the root of life?

    And, if that is a case where IC and FSCO/I point strongly to design, does that not then bring to bear design sitting at the table thereafter by right, not sufferance?

    So, is not failing to empirically account for OOL on blind chance and mechanical necessity the begging of the root-level question?

    KF

  119. F/N: I have further remarked on LYO at 34 above, here. I have footnoted LYO’s comment, on grounds of appeal to Hitler tactic. KF

  120. Look, Lizzie is clueless when it comes to science. That is just what the facts say. She really thinks that darwinian mechanisms can account for the appearence of design even though there isn’t any evidence to support that claim.

    Then she sez that we need “independent” evidence for the designer- well the evidence for a designer in biology is independent from the evidence for a designer in physics.

    And she still doesn’t understand that if the OoL is designed then the inference is they were designed to evolve and evolved by design.

    The TSZ ilk are just a clueless lot.

    (no kairosfocus, she cannot account for anything, let alone the OoL. All she has are bald assertions, false accusations and plenty of promissory notes)

  121. Chance@115,

    Without that independent evidence for a designer we cannot say for sure if that was designed. ;)

  122. Lizzie sez:

    To rule out a non-design mechanism simply because you have decided, a priori, that the appearance of design is evidence of design, is to assume your consequent

    Only a dolt would say something like that. Earth to Lizzie- non-design mechanisms have been ruld out because they have been tried and failed to produce anything of note. And we rule in the design inference because non-design mechanisms have failed AND it meets the design criteria (part of which includes eliminating non-design mechanisms just as science mandates).

    And in response to Eric, Lizzie sez:

    I have to ask: why is it so hard for some people to step outside their own paper bag?

    YOU tell us Lizzie- why is it so hard for YOU to step outside of your own paper bag and actually present some positive evidence for your tripe?

  123. 123
    CentralScrutinizer

    Chance Ratcliff @98

    If we make the compile() function simply return THRESHOLD bits of random data as code, and make the execute() function always succeed, then isThisInformationFSCI() will always return true.

    Seems to me one would have to have a preexisting definition of what “success” means with regards to compilers and executors for your ‘class’ to have any illustrative value.

  124. Joe:

    It appears, an obvious case of selective hyperskepticism.

    I draw Dr Liddle’s attention (for at least the third time) to the per aspect design filter.

    Ever since Plato, it has been noted on record that three common causal patterns are seen. Monod’s 1970 book, Chance and Necessity, gives two. The third is art or design or contrivance or intelligently, purposefully directed contingency. That which, for instance — in our observation — is responsible for texts of blog posts or algorithmic, step by step coded computer programs.

    Each tends to give off characteristic signs.

    Necessity leads to low contingency natural regularities, e.g. the order of a crystal.

    Chance can create high contingency, but typically will reflect the patterns of a population pattern. A handful of beans from a truck load will as a rule reflect typical patterns, not exceedingly rare exceptions. (FYI, lotteries have to be designed to be winnable.)

    Blind chance and mechanical necessity, will not be expected to normally give us FSCO/I. For reasons of exceeding rarity. As has been repeatedly explained.

    And, that is backed up by billions of test cases, the random document exercise reported in the OP being an example.

    But as billions of web and library documents demonstrate, design is fully and routinely capable of FSCO/I. So much so that it is reasonably regarded as a signature of design as causal process.

    The problem EL has is that such a signature in the case of the world of life and the case of the fine tuning of the cosmos — which are indeed independent one of the other — the warrant for design as best explanation points to possibilities that are obviously unacceptable for worldviews reasons. Not actual evidence and inductive logic reasons.

    So, clever but in the end fallacious ways are being found to try to deflect such.

    It is to be noted: billions of cases of FSCO/I by design, NIL observed by blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    KF

  125. Lizzie via Joe @122:

    To rule out a non-design mechanism simply because you have decided, a priori, that the appearance of design is evidence of design, is to assume your consequent

    I hope Lizzie didn’t actually say this. After engaging in the debate so long she is still clueless about the design inference? I’m not asking her to accept it, just be able to accurately describe it. Sad.

  126. 126
    Chance Ratcliff

    CentralScrutinizer @123, of course one could cheat that way and invalidate the entire experiment. One could also cheat by using existing valid code instead of going through the trouble of generating random samples. The example at #98 shows that it’s possible to objectively set a threshold for function. As a thought experiment, I think it succeeds. But of course, if an actual experiment were conducted, parameters for success and failure would have to be well defined, as you suggest. However the nomenclature I used for the Context class suggests that real code is being compiled and executed, which implies a real programming language with its own well-defined rules for success and failure. There are a number of ways I could cheat the example, but in none of those cases would an actual executable code string of sufficient length have been generated at random, and that’s the take-home point. ;)

  127. 127
    Chance Ratcliff

    “To rule out a non-design mechanism simply because you have decided, a priori, that the appearance of design is evidence of design, is to assume your consequent”

    I think the problem for EL is how to rule out a non-design mechanism. We know how to rule out design.

    She’s inverting reason. She’s decided a priori that non-design mechanisms can account for the appearance of design. It’s not as if design proponents are trying to account for the overwhelming appearance of non-design mechanisms in nature.

  128. 128
    Chance Ratcliff

    EL via Joe,

    “To rule out a non-design mechanism simply because you have decided, a priori, that the appearance of design is evidence of design, is to assume your consequent”

    Appearance of design implies actual design (A→D)

    That’s the proper logical relationship. If we see the appearance of design, then actual design exists, according to a careful definition of appearance. We can define appearance of design as the presence of CSI or irreducible complexity, etc. In this case, there is no logical fallacy of affirming the consequent. EL must be presuming the converse relationship, which doesn’t hold up.

  129. 129
    Chance Ratcliff

    I want to provide a little more info on the logical relationship between the appearance of design and actual design, and show why there’s no logical fallacy here.

    A: The appearance of design (FSCO/I)
    D: Actual design

    A→D is the premise. According to the definition of the contidional operator, here is the truth table and the justification for A→D:

    A D | A→D
    ——————
    T T | T – true positive
    T F | F – false positive
    F T | T – false negative
    F F | T – true negative

    IDT is compatible with three of the the above four permutations, and not the second, which is false by definition. A confirmed case of A without D would invalidate A→D.

    #1 true positive – If we see the appearance of design, then we are observing actual design. This is empirical if we exclude biological systems for the sake of argument.

    #2 false positive – If we see the appearance of design without actual design, the premise A→D is invalidated.

    #3 – false negative – We may not detect the appearance of design, yet actual design might still be the case, such as with the output of a pseudorandom number generator.

    #4 – true negative – Where we see no appearance of design, we needn’t invoke design.

    More formally, we can draw these conclusions from the relationship A→D.

    - The appearance of design is sufficient for actual design.
    - Actual design is necessary for the appearance of design.
    - If A→D and A, therefore D (modus ponens).
    - If A→D and not D, therefore not A (modus tollens).
    - If not D then not A (contrapositive, ¬D→¬A).
    - “D therefore A” is affirming the consequent.
    - “Not A therefore not D” is denying the antecedent.

    We see a lot of inappropriate objections to ID claims, and personally I find it helpful to keep the above relationship in mind. I happen to think that the premise A→D might logically precede the inference to the best explanation (IBE) but I’m open to correction here.

  130. 130

    Sigaba,

    all you’ve done is reworded the definition of a classical information channel

    I don’t think you are correct. I’ve read quite a bit of material on the transfer of information, and have yet to see it modeled in the same way. Perhaps your assessment is motivated by something other than familiarity.

    But let me not be too hasty, if you think you have a firm grasp on the issue, then by all means, please return and explain yourself. You ask “Is there some sort of provision that information must act on the world or something?” Let me know how you would identify information in any other way.

    ;)

  131. CR:

    An interesting point.

    You are debating inference on reliable sign.

    A sign is perfectly reliable if its presence is a LOGICALLY sufficient basis to infer the signified on a reliable basis. However, a sign does not have to be perfectly reliable or be known to be perfectly reliable to be sufficiently good to put our trust in it. Indeed, in the real world we routinely work with things that are regarded as trustworthy in general, as more or less effective rules of thumb. And, in some cases, we are able to rise to that moral certainty that is sufficiently convincing that one would be irresponsible to act as though the matter were not so, on a momentous case. Reliable, beyond reasonable doubt.

    And of course, the model for this is the reasoning on best explanation of the evidence in a well run court room, as opposed to the sort of jump- to- already- desired- conclusions kangaroo court that has become all too notorious in our day. (Judge Jones et al, sadly — on fair comment on evidence — this means you. let’s just say that to watch Inherit the Wind naively in preparation for hearing the case is not exactly an index of a well prepared and fair hearing to come.)

    Let me symbolise (building on preliminary remarks for the ID foundations series, here [yes, January 2011]):

    I observe one or more signs [in a pattern], and infer the signified object, on a warrant:

    I: [si] –> O, on W

    a –> Here, as I will use “sign” [as opposed to "symbol"], the connexion is a more or less causal or natural one; e.g. a pattern of deer tracks on the ground is an index, pointing to a deer.

    (NB, 02:28: Sign can be used more broadly in technical semiotics to embrace “symbol” and other complexities, but this is not needed for our purposes. I am using “sign” much as it is used in medicine, at least since Hippocrates of Cos in C5 BC, i.e. to point to a disease on an objective, warranted indicator.)

    b –> If the sign is not a sufficient condition of the signified, the inference is not certain and is defeatable; though it may be inductively strong. (E.g. someone may imitate deer tracks.)

    c –> The warrant for an inference may in key cases require considerable background knowledge or cues from the context.

    d –> The act of inference may also be implicit or even intuitive, and I may not be able to articulate but may still be quite well-warranted to trust the inference. Especially, if it traces to senses I have good reason to accept are working well, and are acting in situations that I have no reason to believe will materially distort the inference.

    e –> The process of observation may be passive, where I simply respond to effects of the sign-emitting object; or it may involve active emission of signals or interaction with the object. For instance, we may contrast passive and active sonar sensing here, noting that both modes are used by sea-animals as well as technical systems. (NB: “Object” is here used in a very broad sense [u/d 02:17: it includes objects and credibly objective states of affairs].)

    f –> A sign can also be iconic, i.e sufficiently resembling [u/d, 02:17: or representing] the object to be recognisable as a representation, as a general class [a rock shaped like a face] or in specific [a sculptural portrait]. [u/d 02:28: In the case of a mace in its rest in Parliament, unless an elaborate form of a former weapon sits there, Parliament is not legitimately in session.]

    The point is that a sign correlates strongly with a signified state of affairs. In some cases, it is actually logically sufficient. In others, it is simply highly reliable.

    So, we have a legitimate epistemic right to infer from sign to signified.

    This is not question-begging (contrary to EL’s suggestion), as the basis on which the inference is made has to be established, and given the possibility of failing of logical sufficiency, and then of failing outright, we have the need to monitor the signs through a survey of cases. As is a commonplace of science [cf. Newton in The Opticks, Query 31], an empirically well established link is to be regarded as reliable, subject to future correction.

    Onward, we have the context of the many cases of FSCO/I as attested and found reliable index of design, multiplied by the analytical framework as long since repeatedly discussed as to why 500 – 1,000 bits of complexity in the context of functional specificity is a reasonable threshold for being sufficiently complex to credibly rule out blind chance and/or necessity as capable of routinely giving rise to FSCO/I. In short, we see that the matter is much like having a truckload of beans with 5 – 10 gold beads in there somewhere. We may make just one grab at random of a handful. It is utterly unlikely that we will pick up anything but the bulk of the population: beans.

    (S’s dismissal of this sort of inference on sampling — unfortunately, as has been typical of his strictures above — is wrong. he needs to realise this is quite close to a whole line of reasoning in statistical thermodynamics that actually grounds the famous second law and explains why it is “time’s arrow.” The direction of spontaneous change is towards the bulk clusters of microstates.)

    The way to break such an inference is to apply Newton’s frame of investigation, and reliably observe counterexamples.

    Let me therefore clip the relevant part of Opticks Query 31, c. 1704, as it appears that there is a dearth of understanding of basic scientific inductive reasoning:

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For [--> speculative] Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations. [[Emphases added.]

    And, yes, that clip comes from the often derided IOSE, which it seems to me the critics would profit from by forcing themselves to do what is indeed often tedious: seriously read something with which one violently disagrees. Also, yes, this is an early statement of the principles and methods of scientific investigation that are commonly taught in school.

    Let those who would deride or dismiss reckon first with substantially similar cases in the same way, on pain of selective hyperskepticism. I think it is appropriate to again state the Meyer challenge, as is cited in the OP:

    . . . bear in mind Meyer’s remark on that subject in reply to hostile reviews:

    The central argument of my book is that intelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past. First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form).

    Notice the terminology he naturally uses and how close it is to the terms I and others have commonly used, functionally specific complex information. So much for that rhetorical gambit.

    He continues:

    Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power.

    Got that?

    Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question . . . . In order to [[scientifically refute this inductive conclusion] Falk would need to show that some undirected material cause has [[empirically] demonstrated the power to produce functional biological information apart from the guidance or activity a designing mind. Neither Falk, nor anyone working in origin-of-life biology, has succeeded in doing this . . .}

    In effect, on identifying traces from the remote past, and on examining and observing candidate causes in the present and their effects, one may identify characteristic signs of certain acting causes. These, on observation, can be shown to be reliable indicators or signs of particular causes in some cases.

    From this, by inductive reasoning on inference to best explanation, we may apply the Newtonian uniformity principle of like causing like.

    It so turns out that FSCO/I is such a sign, reliably produced by design, and design is the only empirically grounded adequate cause known to produce such. Things like codes [as systems of communication], complex organised mechanisms, complex algorithms expressed in codes, linguistic expressions beyond a reasonable threshold of complexity, algorithm implementing arrangements of components in an information processing entity, and the like are cases in point.

    It turns out that the world of the living cell is replete with such, and so we are inductively warranted in inferring design as best causal explanation. Not, on a priori imposition of teleology, or on begging metaphysical questions, or the like; but, on induction in light of tested, reliable signs of causal forces at work.

    If objectors can meet the Meyer test, it would devastate design theory.

    The above thread’s eloquent silence on such cases [multiplied by the actual rhetorical tactics of tangents, barbed rhetoric and attempted but failed challenges to or dismissals of core design concepts, the idea of function emerging from proper arrangement of multiple matched parts, and functional information concepts], is a strong testimony that such objectors cannot.

    Indeed, EL’s reported tactic of refusing to accept that there is a cause known to be capable of producing FSCO/I, one that is the only such observed cause, is inadvertently, sadly eloquent on the balance of the matter on the merits. And, on the clear presence of a strong motivating force driving decisions away from inference to the evidently best empirically grounded explanation.

    KF

    PS: It should be noted that in, say, medicine, practitioners routinely work with tests and resulting signs that are less than 100% reliable, especially in clusters. The odds of three 90% reliable mutually corroborating independent signs all being wrong are like 1/10 of 1/10 of 1/10, or 1/1000. This is of course also the basis of the old Biblical principle that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses, shall a word be established.” I would love to see how a reasonable person interacts with the cluster of signs that mutually point: (i) to cell based life being designed, (ii) to major body plans being designed, (iii) to our in-built language capacity [a big part of mindedness] being designed, (iv) to our solar system being rare and privileged, and (v) to the observed cosmos being designed.

  132. And keiths sez:

    In that context, the immediate question that arises is “If God is the designer, why did he make it look exactly as if unguided evolution were operating?”

    Only the broken and deteriorating parts lok exactly like unguided evolution were operating. There still isn’t any evidence that unguided evolution can do any more than that.

  133. And patrick sez:

    Perhaps one could identify design by non-humans, but I don’t think it is possible to do so without making some assumptions about the nature and capabilities of the designers.

    Yes, Patrick, we can assume that designers, successful designers anyway, are capable of designing the things they design.

    Just because ID is not about the designer does NOT mean we cannot make that assumption.

  134. Billmaz @15

    If you invoke an intelligence, you have to at least propose some valid hypothesis of what and who this intelligence is, or, at the very least, of how such an advanced intelligence can be involved in creating such UNintelligent organisms (in terms of their structure and function). If I were to design a human I’d do a much better job of it, (at least in its general design, not in the molecular mechanisms involved, obviously) and so would you. Why put the respiratory orifice (the trachea) next to the digestive orifice (the esophagus) for example, and cause untold chocking every year? Why make the heart a linear system (and thus subject to breakdown) rather than a parallel one? Why have an inadequate immune system, or one that turns on its owner (autoimmune disease). Why have cancer and all the other diseases of an inadequate genome? Why have disease at all? And so on. There are hundreds, thousands of these examples.

    If ID wants to be taken seriously, it has to do more than just detect intelligence. It has to have a grander vision. And I am still waiting for it. Because, you know, all of us want to be part of a Grand Scheme in which we actually are immortal and are part of a larger, grander picture. We all, and I include the atheists, even if they can’t admit it, crave God to exist. But He sure is making it difficult.

    I hear this “bad design” argument a lot, but it might not be as easy as you think to redesign the human body and solve the “problems” you bring up. I personally would never second guess the Creator.

    Certainly there is a lot of suffering, death, and disease in this world. If you read the Creator’s Word, you will find the answer to this. In the beginning, everything was created “very good”. The animals were vegetarians in the beginning and it seems that there was no death in the original creation – at least death of nephesh chayyah – the Hebrew word in the Bible used to refer to man, land animals, birds, and man. There was no death among these creatures in the original creation. However, when man rebelled against the Creator, he brought punishment upon himself and the world he lives in.

    Death entered the world at that point. The whole creation was cursed. It seems that many changes took place in living creatures at that time. It is likely that animals became meat eaters. So there was a need for all creatures to develop offensive and defensive weapons at that time. It is very likely they came with the genetic information for these changes already pre-installed. Just exactly how all these changes took place is unknown, but God’s perfect world was ruined by sin. Plants, animals, and humans were all affected. So disease, suffering, and even death is not the creation of the Creator, but later invaders in God’s creation as a result of man’s rebellion against the Creator.

    ID is not able to identify the Creator because it is outside of science, but this is what the Bible teaches. The Bible tells us that death is the “last enemy” to be destroyed. The Creator would not have created such an evil thing.

    You claim that the Creator is making it difficult for us to learn about Him. But the creation itself screams “design” wherever we look. Of course, we also see the effects of man’s sin so that is why it can be confusing. We need to be able to understand why this world is broken.

    He reveals Himself through His world, but also through His Word. There we find the answers to many of the Big Questions that we all have. It’s not as hard as you think to learn about Him.

    I agree with Chance that Jesus is the answer here. He is presented as the Creator in the Bible. He Himself tells us that He made male and female at the beginning of creation. They were a part of God’s original perfect creation, but their sin brought it all crashing down.

    Chance gave a good explanation of how perfect love fits with perfect justice. God is love and therefore He does not want to punish us. He wants us to be with Him in heaven forever. But God is also holy and He hates all sin. He is just as well and He must punish sin. The punishment for sin is death, spiritual death – separation from a holy God forever. He cannot violate His justice so sin must be punished, but He loves us and doesn’t want to punish us. So, He found a way to satisfy both His love and His justice. On the cross, Jesus took the punishment for our sin that you and I deserve. In this way, God’s justice and wrath against sin was satisfied. It allows Him to forgive all who believe in Jesus without ignoring sin. A Judge must uphold justice and God is no different.

    Now, what we think is a just punishment and what God says is a just punishment seems to be quite different.

    We are human and our hearts are full of sin. Sin is a normal part of our lives and we have no idea how terrible it is. We have rebelled against an infinite, holy, and loving God. God would not send anyone to hell if it was not a just punishment. The cross is proof of that. He did all He could to save us, but if we reject His love, as a perfect Judge, He is not able to overlook our sin and let us into heaven. Separation from God is by definition “hell” and once we die, there is no longer any opportunity for mercy.

    To ignore our sin and simply let us into heaven would make light of Jesus’ sacrificial death. It would make light of the seriousness of sin. It would make light of justice.

    I recommend a book entitle “Just Love: Why God must punish sin” by Ben Cooper. You can get it on Kindle for $10. There is a part of hell that we humans will never understand until we get to heaven and can see things from the view of a holy God, but this book will help.

    The good news is that the Creator will eventually restore the creation to it’s original perfect state. Death, disease, and suffering were not present in the beginning and so neither will they be present in heaven. This broken world will be restored and we will enjoy eternity in a world that is free from sin and it’s harmful effects.

    God bless you in your pursuit of God!

  135. Joe (and onwards P/MG and KS):

    1 –> The focal case on the world of cell based life is OOL. And OOL is replete with BLATANT signs of design: FSCO/I, codes, algorithms, properly organised nanotech machines that implement such systems, etc etc etc. (Just look at the OP.)

    2 –> It is important to note that, as this must start with chemically, thermodynamically and physically plausible mixes of chemicals in a pond or the like, the usual “out” of appealing to the asserted wonderful powers of “natural selection” — is off the table. The origin of an encapsulated, intelligently gated, environment sensing and responding, metabolising automaton with a self replicating facility based on coded information is a major part of what has to be explained on OBSERVED evidence.

    3 –> The only actually observed adequate causal source for the required FSCO/I is, design. With billions of cases and with the challenge of blind sampling of a large config space multiplied by the island of function implications of the need for multiple, well matched, interacting, coupled components to achieve function. For instance, illustrated by the isolation of protein fold domains in AA sequence space, as well as issues of chirality, cross-interfering reactions, prions as examples of possibilities of alternate non-functional folds, etc etc.

    4 –> As for the notional assertion that the world of life generally looks as though it were produced by unguided macro-evolution, the first observation is that Dawkins — notoriously — was forced to admit up front in one of his books that biology is the study of complicated things that appear to be designed. He hoped to overturn that view, but was forced at outset to admit the general appearance was against him.

    5 –> Similarly, it seems that the perception that it was all produced by blind watchmaker macroevo, faces the challenge that the famed tree of life based on fossils, the only icon to appear in Darwin’s Origin, faces the problems that its root is missing, the main branches are missing, and the overall actual pattern of fossils is that major plans appear suddenly, and continue. Indeed, we see a forest of shrubs not a tree. Adaptations within a multitude of basic types, not a unified tree. Direct evidence indeed of islands of function. (And this starts — as Darwin admitted — with the Cambrian fossil life revolution, that shows sudden appearance of major forms, not a trunk with branches. Hence Meyer’s forthcoming book.)

    6 –> It does not help that between mosaic creatures and the conflicting molecular trees, there is no one coherent tree of life model, but a library of parts subject to re-use and modification. Sounds more like object oriented design with inheritance from a core library and variation to purpose, not branching, unified tree.

    7 –> Instead, the better explanation for this announced perceived appearance is obvious, per Lewonin:

    . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated . . . [["Billions and billions of demons," NYRB, Jan 1997. (And, if you wish to assert that this is quote mined, kindly cf the wider citation here and the annotations thereto.)]

    8 –> In short, KS’s assertion is in the teeth of the actual facts, and reflects rather the swallowing of a priori materialism as worldview. Johnson has aptly summed up the implications, in his retort to Lewontin’s famous 1997 NYRB article as just cited, in November that year:

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

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

    9 –> So, the problem is much like that which I recall from my youth in confronting Marxists. being controlled by an a priori, that shaped how they saw the world. Expose cracks in the foundation, and a seemingly endless string of objections and talking points will ensue, all controlled by the same a priori. the same fallacies will crop up again and again and again in manifold manifestations. Until, something decisive breaks, under the cumulative weight of failures.

    10 –> In my estimation, what is happening on the broad view, is that the failure is going to be cultural/ community/ institutional, not in the scientific debates. Though, it is VITAL to first and foremost address the science and closely linked issues of logic, epistemology and worldviews.

    11 –> Here is what I predict, on analogy of marxism (and with the case of Paul at Fair Havens in Ac 27 — warning but being ignored by the manipulators and the masses very much in mind . . . only to lead to disaster): the inherent radical relativism, undermining of logic and capacity to truly know the world, as well as the inherent amorality that opens the door to ruthless nihilism, will cause a critical mass to rise up in opposition to a major cultural survival threat.

    12 –> Then, that broad mass will be willing to hear out a credible but previously derided and marginalised alternative, which needs to be in place first. Hence the importance of doing the basic research and publicising it in the teeth of opposition, and the equal need to bring it together in fundamentally educational fora. When the storm has struck and the confident tricks have broken down, an alternative will be listened to. But given what has been going on, not until then.

    ++++++++

    So, we need to hold on for a wild and chaotic, dangerous ride, given the balance of forces and the ruthless determination to cling to institutional power and cultural influence and domination on the part of the committed evolutionary materialists that we see at work.

    They are going to fight the evidence, the logic and the reasonable conclusions tooth and nail, with all the amoral ruthlessness of the dark triad — machiavellianism, nihilism and sociopathy — until they are decisively broken.

    The sort of nastiness we see in the penumbra of fever swamp sites, and the sort of evident ideological blindness and enabling behaviour in those that are a step up, are strong indications that this is what we are facing.

    In the midst of this, we have to make it plain that we are not in the same amoral nihilist condition that people in the [Eastern] Caribbean sum up: “none nuh betta dan none.”

    It is doubly important to be reasonable, fact and logic based and decent in the face of ruthless, ideological irrationality and indecency.

    KF

    PS: Credible candidate designers will be identified by ability to carry out evidently intelligent contrivance towards purpose, in the face of particular circumstances and in light of forces and “raw materials” in hand. That is why Beavers are serious candidates to be non-human designers, and it is why on observing info systems in life, we have reason to deduce that designers were at work before the origin of earth’s cell based life. It is also why we have reason to believe — as the Nobel Equivalent prize holder Hoyle did — that the physics of the cosmos looks contrived to set up a habitat for cell based life that uses aqueous medium Carbon chemistry involving proteins etc. As in:

    Once we see that life is cosmic it is sensible to suppose that intelligence is cosmic. Now problems of order, such as the sequences of amino acids in the chains which constitute the enzymes and other proteins, are precisely the problems that become easy once a directed intelligence enters the picture, as was recognised long ago by James Clerk Maxwell in his invention of what is known in physics as the Maxwell demon. The difference between an intelligent ordering, whether of words, fruit boxes, amino acids, or the Rubik cube, and merely random shufflings can be fantastically large, even as large as a number that would fill the whole volume of Shakespeare’s plays with its zeros. So if one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design. No other possibility I have been able to think of in pondering this issue over quite a long time seems to me to have anything like as high a possibility of being true.” [[Evolution from Space (The Omni Lecture[ --> Jan 12th 1982]), Enslow Publishers, 1982, pg. 28.]

    In short, if we see evident contrivance we have no problem associating it with candidates. On a basis of material family resemblance to the root capacities of known designers. P/MG’s objection is specious — and should long since have been known to be such,as the corrections have been easily accessible for a long, long time.

  136. Unfortunately they already have their minds made up-

    1. Could X likely have been produced by undirected natural causes? If so, don’t infer design.

    2. Otherwise, infer design.

    The only question you’re asking in that case is about the capabilities of undirected natural causes. You don’t need to know anything about designers, human or otherwise, to answer it.

    That’s a good summary of Dembski’s Explanatory Filter, but it highlights its fatal flaw, namely that design is the default.

    No Patrick, that is NOT a good summary of the EF. However you did provide a good summary:

    1. Could X likely have been produced by undirected natural causes? If so, don’t infer design.

    2. Does X show any sign of being the result of an intentional agent? If so, infer design.

    3. Otherwise, conclude that we don’t know.

    THAT is how the EF works, Patrick.

    And petrushka:

    If you are going to assert design by means other than evolution you need to demonstrate that it is possible.

    Well YOU need to do more than to baldly assert that unguided evolution can design.

    Good luck with that…

  137. Joe:

    It is a mark of ideologues, that they are not really open to evidence and logic. That becomes evident from their response to same.

    In the case of the “default” talking point, it should be evident from the case structure and from the Meyer challenge, that design is inferred per aspect, after no less than two defaults have been given priority: mechanical necessity [broken by high contingency] and chance [broken by the sampling challenge: handful of beans from a truckload . . . ] and in a context of specific signs known to have only one adequate causal explanation, design.

    That is, inference to best explanation based on empirical evidence as an inductive exercise. And subject to the same strengths and weaknesses of such inductive exercises in science. Where also patently, the objectors are coming up very short on the sort of counter examples Newton highlighted.

    So the demand that we refuse to infer from sign to signified, tested and found reliable signified causal state, is a demand to reject what we know, as it is ideologically inconvenient. Selective hyperskepticism, in short. (Ideology over the logic of science, is another way to put it. But we can look at it this way: if they don’t “know” what is causing FSCO/I in relevant contexts, it means they are unable to show that blind chance and mechanical necessity are not known adequate causes, and they are unwilling to accept what is.)

    This has been pointed out to EL et al over the past two years, any number of times.

    But it seems that talking points are being stuck with until they are to obviously overturned.

    Precisely the sort of sign of ideological agendas we are talking about.

    KF

  138. F/N: We routinely see FSCO/I being made by design processes that are not blind watchmaker evolutionary. Venter et al show this in the case of living cells already, at a primitive level. P needs to think again. KF

  139. 139
    Chance Ratcliff

    Joe @136, I really don’t understand this “design is default” meme that gets repeated constantly as if it’s some refutation of design arguments.

    Ironically, ID is getting saddled with items from the baggage of materialism. In other words, chance and necessity are the defaults, not design. Design is only considered for objects of investigation which exhibit FSCO/I. Everything else is, by default, attributable to material causes.

    According to KF’s explanatory filter diagram, if the item is contingent and the item is complex and specified, infer design. Otherwise, default to material causation. In other words, only consider design in special cases. This is the opposite of default.

    In your formulation, material causes get first crack at the explanation. If they cannot account for the phenomenon, then we check to see if design features are present. If they are not, keep the question open. This too defaults to material causation.

    This design is default mantra has things exactly backwards. Design isn’t even the default on things which give the appearance of design. With regard to living systems, ID allows material explanations to have the first shot at explanation. If they can account for the phenomenon empirically, we don’t infer design. This is the opposite of “default”.

    It’s difficult to attribute sincerity to the people who advance such obvious misrepresentations. I’d prefer to think that this is born of confusion or lack of understanding; but I find credulity to be strained here.

  140. CR: Sadly, this is a well-known agit-prop tactic, the turn-speech, twisted or turned about accusation. By projecting fault to the other side, the now accused side finds itself defending under a cloud of suspicion (in a context where there is always a tendency to think or feel that an accusation may well be true). So, there is confusion and polarisation. In a context like this, where the error has been patiently, repeatedly corrected, we are looking in too many cases at speaking in willful defiance of duties of care to truth and soundness. BTW, that flowchart has been in use since about 2009, so one would think that by now it would be understandable to those who want to understand. KF

  141. 141
    Chance Ratcliff

    Petrushka via Joe,

    “If you are going to assert design by means other than evolution you need to demonstrate that it is possible.”

    In other words, default to evolution. We don’t need to establish that evolution is capable, only that design is — even though from an empirical evidentiary point of view, the evidence favors design.

    So we have a system, say a prokaryotic self-replicator. It exhibits FSCO/I in the form of specified and irreducible complexity. It contains embedded digital codes, which specify protein machinery requiring sequence arrangement well beyond the UPB by orders of magnitude. It has manufacturing and synthesis systems, error correction, transport and signalling infrastructure, and so on. Each of these things at least have analogs to systems that are known to be designed, such as computers and machinery, if they are not the same by definition. In no case can this organism or its subsystems be explained by material processes; but they do actually have design features, or the inarguable appearance of design.

    However, we are supposed to accept that we must credit unguided evolution, which cannot produce any positive empirical evidence for a viable mechanism, instead of intelligence, which has shown proficiency in engineering such systems, because a) we cannot prove that an intelligent designer could actually engineer life from scratch; and b) we cannot prove that it’s impossible for unguided evolution to accomplish such a feat.

    It’s hard to imagine a weaker position than insisting that we most prove a thing impossible, otherwise accept it’s virtually unlimited power. If the strength of these arguments are any indication of the confidence in the materialist position, these guys are not very secure in their beliefs. They just have nowhere else to go.

  142. 142
    Chance Ratcliff

    KF @140, yes I think you are correct. It’s likely an intentional tactic. I do think it’s possible for one to be deluded, and to exhibit cognitive dissonance, but in many of these cases it seems like willful misrepresentation — a political “contest” where truth is not at issue, only power.

    By the way, thanks for your response at #131, and for your clarifying remarks regarding the warrant to infer causes from the signs of their effects, and for your included material on inductive reasoning. :)

  143. Patrick via Joe @136:

    That’s a good summary of Dembski’s Explanatory Filter, but it highlights its fatal flaw, namely that design is the default.

    Patrick’s comment demonstrates why a little knowledge (in this case, his limited understanding of the design inference) is a dangerous thing.

    The explanatory filter does not say that we have to conclusively prove necessity or chance in order to avoid design. Quite the contrary. The explanatory filter assumes chance or necessity, unless there is good reason to exclude them. Add to that the positive evidence for design that Joe alluded to, and then we have a reliable and reasonable design inference.

    Patrick has it exactly backwards.

  144. 144
    Chance Ratcliff

    Eric @143, exactly. Design is not the default, chance-and-necessity is. I would like to see an actual explanation of “design is default.” That would be entertaining.

    It might go something like this: “Anytime you guys see something that looks designed, you assume it was designed, period.” Even that would be incorrect, since material causation has preference over design in ID reasoning.

  145. G: You have an issue of a false accusation to resolve to return to the province of the civil. If you refuse to do so, kindly leave this thread, and do not return until you make amends. KF
    ______________

    “design is the default.” – Patrick

    “Patrick has it exactly backwards.” – Eric

    So what? ‘Default is the design’?

    Universal designism. THE ‘design inference’ (gulp IDism) and THE ‘explanatory filter’ (have another gulp). No other options! Truth has been revealed to Eric in a ‘scientific’ theory called ‘IDism’!

    Eric demonstrates why only “a little knowledge,” which in this case is also dangerous, has led him to become vulnerable to IDism.

    Does Eric actually think he is not an ideologue for IDism? He seems to openly embrace being an IDist based on his participation at UD.

    If Chance is a reflexive human being, his ‘explanation’ for it would likely be entertaining! ;)

  146. CR:

    Thanks for the positive discussion. That, too is important, as a demonstration of reasoned and reasonable interaction on important matters.

    I should add some logical framing on the inference to cause:

    1 –> Consider a match aflame. It illustrates the nature of cause, as absent any of heat, fuel and oxidiser, and it will not light or will go out.

    2 –> These factors (I implicitly include the heat generating chain reaction under “fuel,” for simplicity) are jointly sufficient, and each is necessary. A fire, as a contingent entity is dependent on one or more enabling, necessary factors like that.

    3 –> We may generalise. Something that is contingent on such factors requires sufficient external conditions to begin or be sustained. Any sufficient set of factors will meet at least all necessary factors. And since such factors can be on/off, present/absent, that which begins to exist or may cease from existing is CAUSED.

    4 –> Another way of looking at this, is to see it as existing in some possible worlds, and not existing in some possible worlds.

    5 –> Thus, we see things which are conceivable in our minds in vague terms but are actually impossible, like a square circle. What would be required for it to exist is such that all the proposed necessary factors cannot be met under the same circumstances. (E.g: Squareness AND circularity.)

    6 –> There is another possibility: a being that has no dependence on enabling, external factors and which is not impossible; a necessary being.

    7 –> The truth in 2 + 3 = 5 is an example, it has no beginning, cannot fail to hold and cannot cease from being so. (This leads down the road to understanding the nature of God.) a necessary being exists in all possible worlds. This leads to the point that a serious candidate — something like the spaghetti monster or a pink unicorn is a composite entity and is not a serious candidate — will be possible or impossible. If possible, not impossible and in every possible world so, actual.

    8 –> Now, let us consider causal factors of interest to science. When we see that when certain circumstances are present, a regular, predictable pattern appears, we see mechanical necessity. This is exemplified by how a dropped, heavy object near Earth’s surface, reliably falls at 9.8 N/kg.

    9 –> Ever since the days when statistical mechanics arose, we recognised that there are situations of high contingency, that arise. Results vary significantly under initial conditions. If we drop a die, due to sensitive dependencies and amplifications, the outcome is stochastically distributed. We speak of chance contingency.

    10 –> Likewise, we observe choice contingency, with intelligent behaviour, as in composing this post. One may compose one way — or any way one chooses.

    11 –> Obviously, we infer intelligent cause when one has a reason to do so, and to chance otherwise, when there is high contingency. Low contingency is the signature of mechanical necessity.

    12 –> In short, we have two successive dichotomies of causal factors, per a world of experience: LO/HI contingency, then chance as second default save where there is positive reason per reliable tested sign, to infer design.

    ========

    That is why the refusal to accept design as a serious candidate when that is not convenient is so revealing. Especially, when the posts to make such objections are manifestations of how, reliably, design gives rise to FSCO/I.

    Ironically.

    KF

  147. Gregory, you now have a choice: return to civil behaviour by making amends, or please leave as one insistently, rudely disruptive and making irresponsible false accusations as can be seen in your opening words at 4 above. GEM of TKI

  148. Gregory, you have chosen to be insistently rude and to make false accusations. you full well know the opening words you used in 4 above, and what they mean.

    Those words are false, and rise above disagreement to false accusation.

    In the below [cf. SB here and UB here, also now EA here, T here and here (and PJ here)], you proceed further to strike up a false, accusatory contrast between “legitimate” scholarship and people who think and reason as I do. That’s denigration, character assassination and Alinskyite “all the angels are on our side and only devils are on yours” demonisation.

    Evidently you cannot defend the words you have used and wish to substitute a different matter, on the pretence that such a change of subject is good enough.

    It is not.

    Any further attempts to proceed without making amends will be deleted.

    And, BTW, you are still distorting what the inference to design is about.

    Game over.

    Goodbye.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Let me make something crystal clear. after observing your insistence on something that sets up a strawman, I do not give five cents worth of credence to your attempt to impose an alien, procrustean bed taxonomy on design thought. In particular, on checking I found your categories to be seriously rhetorically loaded and that they strawmannise what I and others have sought to do [in ways that set up pretty serious ad hominems, probably including your false accusation of deception on my part -- something that is utterly beyond the pale . . . ]. What we have sought to do is an inductive exercise pivoting on identifying empirically reliable signs of design and then using inference on signs, as for instance is being discussed with CR. The proper way to break such an inductive, inherently provisional inference, is to show a clear counter-instance. Which you either full well know or should know. But you have willfully ignored such, and have played the polarising troll. Your false accusation of deceit is the point where I say, enough. Either, you make amends now, or leave this and other threads I own, or your further posts will be deleted.

    ++++++++

    Please link to the thread and post where you carefully, clearly and *theoretically* distinguish between what is more commonly known as ‘design theory’ (i.e. which many legitimate scholars and practitioners around the world use) and what you are advocating as ‘Intelligent Design Theory’ (IDT) with your FSCO/I, KF/GEM.

    When I wrote in #4 that “Most ‘design theorists’ reject IDT,” that is not a ‘false accusation’. It is truth telling. Whether that is uncomfortable for you or not is not my concern.

    “Universal designism” fails as a bandage explanation here. It’s not about whether one is a Christian or not.

    I have not engaged in “false accusation” in this thread. It is not ‘rude’ to tell the truth, except for the person who doesn’t want to hear it.

    #145 was addressed to Eric, not to KF/GEM.

  149. 149
    Chance Ratcliff

    KF, perhaps you could clarify something for me.

    I’m still left wondering if your remarks suggest that logical implication is an inappropriate model for the empirical relationship between the indicia of design and the act of design, or if it’s instead warranted.

    For instance, I find that the statement, “FSCO implies intelligence,” seems justified upon examination of the evidence, as does, “FSCI implies design.” In both of these cases, it seems to me that we find reasonable, if not remarkable, correlation with the truth table for the conditional operator, with false positives being excluded by definition, and each of the other cases consistent.

    We could extend this to an example with predicate logic.

    F: x has dFSCI
    I: x is the product of intelligence
    S: the set of all strings

    Premise: ∀(x ∈ S)[F(x)→I(x)]
    Falsification: ∃(x ∈ S)[F(x)∧¬I(x)]

    Do you think that modeling this with propositional and/or predicate logic is inappropriate or unhelpful, or do you ultimately think it’s justified based upon warrant and inductive reasoning?

    Thanks in advance for your answer.

  150. CR:

    The logic of implication is subsequent to the challenge of warrant.

    The pivotal issue is the reliability of the sign, and Newton’s stricture on THE INABILITY OF A FUNDAMENTALLY INDUCTIVE PROCESS TO DELIVER DEDUCTIVE CERTAINTY HOLDS.

    Inductive arguments can rise to moral certainty, but not to deduction.

    If you introduce a provisional implication, that would work. That is, per warrant, F -p-> I. This is subject to one or more empirical cases where I: [F AND NOT_I], I observe F where also the observed cause is non-intelligent.

    Once such obtains, the inference breaks, as the warrant is broken.

    However, the point is that the warrant includes reasons why it should be all but certain that we will not see the breakdown case.

    KF

  151. 151
    Chance Ratcliff

    I suppose you’re saying that implication is appropriate if there is warrant for the relationship between the sign and the signified.

    For all x, if x is an apple then x is red.

    The above is appropriate as long as no green apple has ever been produced, from what I’m gathering.

    Keith Devlin, in his book Introduction to Mathematical Thinking uses the following example as an exercise for logical implication:

    If the Yuan rises, the Dollar will fall.

    However there is no deductive certainty there either. It’s only appropriate as some sort of economic postulate. Yet the phrase is modeled on implication. I guess this is part of my confusion. These types of propositions seem commonly used as examples of implication, yet they aren’t all deductively provable.

  152. Gregory to Kairosfocus:

    Please link to the thread and post where you carefully, clearly and *theoretically* distinguish between what is more commonly known as ‘design theory’ (i.e. which many legitimate scholars and practitioners around the world use) and what you are advocating as ‘Intelligent Design Theory’ (IDT) with your FSCO/I, KF/GEM.

    On many occasions, I have not only made the distinction between classical design arguments and those proposed by the Discovery Institute, I have dramatized it. Gregory knows this, so he knows that he is not telling the truth.

    Ironically, when I explain the differences between, say, design arguments from Aristotle/Aquinas/Paley vs design arguments from Dembski/Meyer/Behe, Gregory calls me a divisive “separatist,” but when I explain the similarities, he contradicts himself and calls me a conflating “flip-flopper.” Gregory’s war on reasoned discourse has become legendary.

    When I wrote in #4 that “Most ‘design theorists’ reject IDT,” that is not a ‘false accusation’. It is truth telling. Whether that is uncomfortable for you or not is not my concern.

    This is more laughable nonsense coming from one of most undisciplined minds UD readers have ever encountered. I challenge Gregory to prove his unsubstantiated claim that most design theorists reject IDT. Surely, he doesn’t expect anyone here to take his word for it. He can begin by defining a “design theorist.” If he gets past that hurdle, which is highly unlikely, he can provide some semblance of evidential support for his claim. One would think that a sociologist would at least be able to recognize the empirical requirements for a sociological claim. Remarkable!

  153. Chance @144:

    I think someone could mistake the design filter as having design as the default if the design filter worked as follows:

    “Unless it can be affirmatively proven that x was brought about by either chance or necessity, then x was designed.”

    or slightly more softly:

    “Unless it can be affirmatively proven that x could have been brought about by either chance or necessity, then x was designed.”

    Articulated as such, the filter would have design as its default.

    Unfortunately for Patrick and others who have misrepresented the filter thusly, that is not how the filter works. The differences lie in: (i) the fact that the filter does not demand definitive proof of chance or necessity, only a reasonable probability, and (ii) there is, in addition, some requirement of affirmative evidence for design.*

    —–

    * Because design and non-design are, by definition, mutually exclusive, some people may mistakenly think that affirmative evidence for design is just the oft-derided “negative evidence” against chance and necessity. Due to the mutual exclusivity it plays that role too, but the affirmative evidence for design needs to be acknowledged for its own positive evidentiary side.

  154. 154
    Chance Ratcliff

    Eric, yes I can see where somebody could make that mistake. The question being, is it really the result of confusion, or an intentional unsophisticated smear, or is it really the measure of the quality of their refutations. It sounds like sloganeering, something that’s fit for a bumper sticker or ball cap.

    Design is the default, pass it on.

  155. 155

    Gregory: It is not ‘rude’ to tell the truth, except for the person who doesn’t want to hear it.

    Here is the truth: You refuse to engage the material evidence of semiosis because it completely empties your twin claims that ID relies on an analogy between biological design and human design, and that there is no theory of human design.

    I have tried many times to get you to engage; below is the most recent:

    Gregory: The best (read: authentic or legitimate) theories of ‘design’ and ‘intelligence’ are those that involve ‘designs’ and ‘designing’ by ‘intelligences’ that we can study here and now, or historically through evidences available of various kinds and types, e.g. typed or written documents, signed contracts, photographs, recordings, sketches, artwork, architecture, archaeology, etc. – all human-made things.

    UB: Gregory, each of your examples (documents, photographs, sketches, recordings, etc) all stem from living systems. As such, they all exemplify a singularly unique and readily identifiable material condition. This material condition is not demonstrated anywhere else in the physical record of the cosmos — except at the origin of life on Earth. They are all semiotic, i.e. they all have physicochemically arbitrary relationships instantiated in a material system. Therefore, the distinctions you require in order to rail against ID are decimated by the material evidence. This is why you will (as you must) continue to ignore that evidence.

    Gregory: (after 8 comments and 2300 words… no response)

    UB: Gregory says “[Big ID] regurgitates on analogies with human-made things.

    This is refuted by physical evidence – which you ignore for that very reason that you cannot refute it.

    Gregory says “There simply is no Big-ID theory of human-made things.”

    Humans are semiotic beings; sensory input and the exchange of information play a supreme role in virtually all human activities. This phenomenon entails specific material conditions. These material conditions tie the observation of human discourse to a larger set of semiotic observations, which include the origin of living systems.

    To the extent that design requires a “theory of human-made things”, your claim is simply and demonstrably false. If you’d like to attack this counterclaim, I will provide you my position in a single paragraph, and you can take the opportunity to show it to be false.

    Gregory: (after another 1020 words)

    “Humans are semiotic beings” – UB

    Bravo! And what does that have to do with OoL, OoBI or ‘human origins’?

    Upright BiPed: Gregory,

    I have previously commented on how you willfully ignore (and otherwise refuse to engage) material evidence that refutes your position. Then in comment #171, I stated that ‘humans are semiotic beings’, and immediately followed that statement with a straightforward material argument demonstrating precisely how that fact relates to OoL. In response, you ignored my argument in its totality and responded with:

    “Humans are semiotic beings”
    Bravo! And what does that have to do with OoL.

    It requires integrity to engage well-reasoned opposing arguments. Your response above is a sufficiently clear example of how you undermine that integrity in yourself. It also demonstrates the lengths you are willing to go intellectually in order to sell your anti-ID position, as well as why your efforts are destined to the failure you’ve experienced with them thus far.

    Gregory: (no response)

    All you haughty posturing is for naught. You simply avoid material evidence.

    And since you’ve already demonstrated that both sides of your “id versus ID” screenplay concern themselves with material evidence anyway, perhaps the question for those watching your divisive, self-important politics is what does the evidence have to say, and why are you ignoring it?

    The evidence shows that the activity of living things, and the origin of life, both share a singularly unique material condition among physical systems. That condition is what is physically required for semiosis to occur. In other words, what humans do and what is required for life (and evolution) share a singular physical requirement which can be readily identified. Obviously, you would avoid that evidence if your professional hat is hung on the falsehood that ID requires an analogy between human design and biological design.

  156. 156
    Chance Ratcliff

    tjguy @134, well said. :)

  157. EA@153:

    Significant observations.

    The strawman distortion of design thought is an ever present danger. At one level, it can be innocent, an error. At the next level, one has been taken in by the distortions presented by critics [hence, inter alia the UD WACs]. At this level, already, one is in default of the duty of care to hear both sides carefully. At the next level, one is willfully propagating what one knows or SHOULD know — per duties of care to truth and fairness — is a strawman caricature. Then, at the final level, one is manufacturing distortions, in the teeth of these duties of care, often in the teeth of cogent correction.

    Let’s go to the OP again.

    1 –> Notice context, where specific considerations out of which modern design theory emerged, OOL [per Thaxton et al TMLO, 1984] are in view.

    2 –> Notice, the focus on information, especially the coded algorithmic information in DNA used to synthesise proteins, and the note on how that is also a part of the vNSR that allows self replication of an encapsulated, intelligently gated, self assembling, self-maintaining metabolic automaton with vNSR.

    3 –> Observe how FSCO/I arises naturally as a key feature of all this. First, directly in coded strings. Second, indirectly as the result of reducing functional organisation networks of nodes and arcs to structured string lists that describe it similar to how a 3-d object is represented in a drawing package such as AutoCAD [or, these days, Blender].

    4 –> Now, let us focus how FSCO/I can be quantified, by taking up models of specified complexity and deducing info content then adjusting the value per objective grounds for seeing specificity of function, and passing a threshold of sufficient complexity on the gamut of, say the solar system:

    Chi_500 = Ip*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold

    5 –> Observe the context of empirical support for same, that on billions of test cases, growing with every post in this or a similar blog thread, we routinely see in action the ONLY observed source of such, intelligence.

    6 –> Where also intelligence, design etc can be reasonably defined, independent of this debate, and where for example the beavers and their dams that are adapted to specific circumstances allows us to see good reason not to confine intelligence and design to humans only.

    7 –> So, there is direct warrant for FSCO/I as a sign of design. This, being backed up by the sampling analysis comparable to picking a single handful of beans from a truckload at random where there are some few gold beads scattered, which will predictably and reliably pick up the bulk not the exception. For excellent reasons.

    8 –> All, in a context where the requisites of FSCO/I: high contingency, but expressed in a way that requires multiple parts to be specifically arranged and organised to achieve function, sharply constrains possible arrangements W, to zones T that are much narrower and by consequence, un-representative of the bulk.

    9 –> Now, let us focus the flowchart that I think was first developed c. 2009, maybe 2008. A check says, last modded in Dec 2008 (for at least the version used in my always linked briefing note).

    10 –> Here we have an exploration of some object, entity, process network, phenomenon, situation, etc. on an aspect by aspect basis. That term being used to denote that we abstract out features of interest, one by one, to assess their likely causal source. It is entirely possible for an entity to have parts or aspects or behaviours, etc diversely ascribable to chance, necessity and design.

    11 –> Now, this is a case structure. Not presented in parallel, switch style, but in an explicit, step by step ladder of IF X THEN A, ELSE B steps. With a definite start point and flow of control. A guide to multi-fork decision, with certain options given priority, indeed default.

    12 –> First option being mechanical necessity, i.e. deterministic dynamical law reflecting forces acting similar to those of Newtonian Dynamics as an ideal model. the criterion for this out being: regular, repeatable, predictable low contingency pattern. Similar to how a dropped heavy object near earth initially falls reliably at 9.8 N/kg. Such a model can also accommodate change processes and circumstances that modify behaviour by changing parameters. It fits with periodic oscillations or patterns etc. There are reams of physics and chemistry etc. that are covered by this. And the response is to explore those reams if that is seen.

    13 –> This first default option is defeated by high contingency: under sufficiently similar initial circumstances, we see materially divergent outcomes not ascribable to mere noise or scatter or experimental error or perturbations from interfering neighbouring entities etc.

    14 –> On the high contingency side, there is a second default. Chance.

    15 –> That is, the built-in assumption — default — if high contingency obtains is that chance forces and factors are at work. That is, that either:

    a: there is a clash of uncorrelated streams of actions leading to a scattered outcome [similar to how one can use the last four digits of phone numbers in a textbook as a random number table as -- usually -- there is little sustained correlation between names picked at random on pages picked at random and line codes assigned], and/or

    b: there is sensitive dependence on initial or intervening conditions that causes an unpredictable outcome in accordance with some random distribution model [e.g. thrown fair dice], and/or

    c: there is a cluster of underlying factors that each create a small effect but which vary in a significantly uncorrelated way leading to a distribution of outcomes clustered on some mean in some sort of bell-curve or the like, and/or

    d: there is some other similar stochastic pattern giving rise to a population distribution, and/or

    e: there is quantum-level randomness giving rise to a stochastically distributed macro-observable outcome, such as with radioactivity or the like, and/or

    f: there is some other comparable pattern or combination of influences or circumstances.

    16 –> In sum, there is no good reason to associate the observed high contingency with a goal, or an organisation that is goal-directed and foresighted.

    17 –> This is the high-contingency default. (And, this has been pointed out, over and over and over across the course of years, just such as been willfully ignored by major persons now associated particularly with TSZ.)

    18 –> However, there are other circumstances that are not amenable to such an explanation by defaulting to in effect it could as well have been this as any other in a range of possibilities, maybe biased a bit by factors that move us away from a flat random underlying pattern. (E.g. if one has two dice and sums up faces, a flat random underlying pattern gives a peaked result. The same holds for a tossed coin, where the cumulative number of H’s and T’s will sharply peak, but have tails.)

    19 –> A good example is the text of this post. There is a string of ASCII characters, which could in principle be generated by a random text generator, as the OP examines.

    20 –> However, the sort of definite functional pattern in the strings that we see in accordance with meaning — semiotics — which is physico-dynamically arbitrary but fits with a conventional framework for human communication in English.

    21 –> That functional pattern is taken from a population overwhelmingly dominated by gibberish: ti3utogugio[244 . . . But, it is not gibberish.

    22 --> Nor is this an oscillating or spatially distributed repeating pattern similar to crystals or swinging pendulums:eseseseseseseses . . .

    23 --> That is, as Trevors and Abel have long since pointed out, following Wicken and before him Orgel, random sequence complexity is diverse from orderly sequence complexity and is separately distinct from functional sequence complexity.

    24 --> As I noted in the second background note to the ID Foundations series, over two years ago now:

    In 2005, David L Abel and Jack T Trevors published a key article on order, randomness and functionality, that sets a further context for appreciating the warrant for the design inference.

    The publication data and title for the peer-reviewed article are as follows:
    Theor Biol Med Model. 2005; 2: 29.
    Published online 2005 August 11. doi: 10.1186/1742-4682-2-29.

    PMCID: PMC1208958
    Copyright © 2005 Abel and Trevors; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

    Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information

    A key figure (NB: in the public domain) in the article was their Fig. 4:

    [Figure, showing a 3-D pattern of sequence possibilities, to be added as an appendix to the OP]

    Figure 4: Superimposition of Functional Sequence Complexity onto Figure 2. The Y1 axis plane plots the decreasing degree of algorithmic compressibility as complexity increases from order towards randomness. The Y2 (Z) axis plane shows where along the same complexity gradient (X-axis) that highly instructional sequences are generally found. The Functional Sequence Complexity (FSC) curve includes all algorithmic sequences that work at all (W). The peak of this curve (w*) represents “what works best.” The FSC curve is usually quite narrow and is located closer to the random end than to the ordered end of the complexity scale. Compression of an instructive sequence slides the FSC curve towards the right (away from order, towards maximum complexity, maximum Shannon uncertainty, and seeming randomness) with no loss of function.

    We may discuss this figure in steps:

    1 –> The data structure T & A have in view is the string, where symbols are chained in a line like:

    c-h-a-i-n-e-d

    2 –> Since any other data structure can be built up from a combination of strings, this is without loss of generality.

    3 –> They then envision three types of sequences:

    (a) orderly ones that are repetitive:

    jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

    (b) random ones that are essentially incompressible:

    f3erug4huevb

    (c) functional ones, that are almost as incompressible, but are constrained by that functionality:

    this is a functional, non- orderly and non-random sequence

    4 –> Fig 4 then shows how these three types of sequences can be represented in a 3-dimensional space that in principle can be a metric: for, order and randomness are on two ends of a continuum of compressibility and a similar continuum of complexity, both being low on algorithmic [or, by extension, linguistic-contextual] functionality.

    5 –> The location of the FSC peak is particularly revealing: first, it is not quite as incompressible as a truly random sequence, because there is normally some redundancy in meaningful messages. So, the Shannon Information carrying capacity metric is not quite what is needed.

    6 –> Compressibility metrics will show that FSC sequences will be slightly less resistant to compression than are truly random sequences — for the latter, to communicate them, you essentially have to quote them.

    7 –> By contrast, an orderly sequence can be compressed by giving its unit cell then saying replicate n times. It is highly compressible.

    8 –> But neither orderly nor random sequences are generally able to function, and so we see a sharp peak in the curve as we hit the FSC.

    9 –> If we imagine the curve as sitting in a sea that floods the diagram, we can see how the image of islands of isolated function can emerge: FSC peaks up out of the sea of non-functional orderly or random sequences. And of course, functionality is always in a context: parts or components or elements combine to do the job in hand.

    10 –> J S Wicken, in his key 1979 remarks, captures the next key point: we routinely and habitually observe that functional sequences are the product of design, and thus they are a longstanding puzzle for those who would account for living forms on natural selection:

    ‘Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems. Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms [i.e. “simple” force laws acting on objects starting from arbitrary and common- place initial conditions] and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’[“The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. (Emphases and note added. Also, the idea-roots of a term commonly encountered at UD, functionally specific, complex information [FSCI], should be obvious. The onward restriction to digitally coded FSCI [dFSCI] as is seen in DNA — and as will feature below, should also be obvious.)]

    [I then describe a metric that is similar to the Chi_500 metric but which I have retired from use in favour of the Chi_500 metric. ]

    11 –>We can compose a simple metric that would capture the idea: Where function is f, and takes values 1 or 0 [as in pass/fail], complexity threshold is c [1 if over 1,000 bits, 0 otherwise] and number of bits used is b, we can measure FSCI in functionally specific bits, as the simple product:

    FX = f*c*b, in functionally specific bits

    12 –> Actually, we commonly see such a measure; e.g. when we see that a document is say 197 kbits long, that means it is functional as say an Open Office Writer document, is complex and uses 197 k bits storage space.

    [The second page then continues]

    13 –> Durston et al, in 2007, extended this reasoning, by creating a more sophisticated metric that they used to measure the FSC value, in functional bits, or FITS, for 35 protein families [where a certain range of variants are functional, folding correctly and being biologically active]; which was again published as a peer-reviewed article. Excerpting the UD Weak Argument Correctives, no 27:

    [an] empirical approach to measuring functional information in proteins has been suggested by Durston, Chiu, Abel and Trevors in their paper “Measuring the functional sequence complexity of proteins”, and is based on an application of Shannon’s H (that is “average” or “expected” information communicated per symbol:

    H(Xf(t)) = -[SUM]P(Xf(t)) logP(Xf(t)) )

    to known protein sequences in different species . . .

    25 –> So, the distinction is objective, observable and measurable.

    26 –> That is, we have a way to OBJECTIVELY identify that something is functionally specific and simultaneously complex in a way that makes non-foresighted, chance sampling of the space of possibilities — the configuration space — by whatever chance mechanism, maximally implausible.

    27 –> This has been backed up by formal and informal observation of cumulatively billions of cases, and it reliably indicates that FSCO/I is a highly reliable sign of intelligent, purposefully directed choice contingency — contrivance, design or art — as the best explanation to date of such cases.

    28 –> To overturn such, the reasonable answer would be to provide counter-examples. But as Meyer, in the challenge noted in the OP, observes: that has not been done, and for the very same reasons why this sign is so reliable as an index of design.

    29 –> It is quite evident, that had this been in a non-polarised context, none of the above would require constant belabouring over the course of years, it would be a no-brainer. But the problem is, this points strongly to signs of design in origin of life and of body plans, as well as by extension, in the origins of the cosmos.

    30 –> The proper answer, however, remains the same: simply show substantial counter-examples and the inference to design on FSCO/I as reliable sign would collapse instantly and decisively.

    31 –> The problem objectors have with that, of course, s that the threshold of complexity for inferring design has been set so high relative to the search resources of our solar system or of the observed cosmos as a whole, that such a counter-example is not likely to emerge.

    32 –> And, it is no surprise to see that, repeatedly, counter examples suggested have turned out to depend crucially in implicitly (or even explicitly added) active information coming from an intelligent source.

    33 –> As well, it is highly relevant to see how the objectors so often refuse to address the root of the darwinian tree of life, and how they often duck the cosmological fine tuning issue. (Look above and see how not one objector has taken this up.)

    34 –> The significance of this is, that at OOL, the favourite out, the asserted or assumed powers of “natural selection” is off the table. This, because the origin of self replication per vNSR, is a major aspect of what needs to be accounted for. Once that beclouding assumption is out of the picture, it becomes instantly clear that FSCO/I is not credibly accounted for on blind chance and mechanical necessity, separately or in combination.

    35 –> Similarly, the notion that we can posit an unobserved quasi-infinity of unobserved sub-cosmi with physics scattered at random, is not particularly plausible and reeks of being ad hoc. This is philosophising while wearing a lab coat, it is not empirically grounded science.

    36 –> And that is before we observe that the operating point of our observed cosmos is LOCALLY isolated, so we need to in effect explain Leslie’s isolated fly on a wall swatted by a bullet. Regardless of other sections being carpeted by flies, the one lone fly is hard to find and a reasonable target for a marksman. Fine tuning as an evident sign of design does not go away once multiverse speculations are admitted to the table.

    +++++++

    So, here is my prediction, On track record, the above will have precisely zero significant impact on the circles of objectors we are dealing with. At most they will try to snip, distract, strawmannise and snipe.

    Hence my point in light of what I saw 20 – 25 years ago: we are dealing with bitter enders in significant part, who will cling to the ship until it goes down. Then, they will try to hop to a raft and act as though nothing happened.

    KF

  158. Now Lizzie thinks that we think that chance and necessity are actual mechanisms.

    Earth to Lizzie:

    In a fair roll of the dice, what comes up is a combination of chance and necessity. Necessity because gravity and force get the dice going, as well as the friction that stops the movement. And chance because of the probability distribution.

    When getting dealt, via a fair deal, a hand of cards, the cards you get are the result of a combination of chance and necessity. Necessity because, well, you are playing cards so it is necessary to be dealt a hand and chance due to the probability distribution. Nothing else.

    That said, if someone, playing 5 card stud, gets dealt a royal flush several times in one night, you would expect something else besides chance and necessity at play. IOW there wasn’t an equal probability distribution.

    Then Lizzie also claims that darwinian evolution produces testable hypotheses along with predictions yet she never sez what any of those are.

    So it appears that blatant misrepresentation and lies are the best the TSZ have.

    Hey Lizzie- the NCSE has an opening for you.

  159. Joe:

    Then Lizzie also claims that darwinian evolution produces testable hypotheses along with predictions yet she never sez what any of those are.

    It does produce a testable prediction, which Darwin himself focused on: there should be “innumerable” intermediate fossils in the fossil record, demonstrating slight, successive changes from A to B to Z. This has been tested and is demonstrably false.

    It also predicts that reproduction is the be-all and end-all and that everything about an organism should converge on this all-important “goal.” If we look at current biology, this is demonstrably false.

    As to concrete predictions about what will happen to a particular species or another, whether complexity will increase or decrease, whether a particular body plan, or organ will arise, etc., you are right, there are no concrete predictions. Because the central, key, most fundamental “explanation” in all of evolutionary theory is simply this:

    Stuff Happens.

  160. Lizzie continues:

    So what you need to do is to make a differential prediction – something that predicts something that would not be predicted on the basis of Darwinian theory, but would be predicted on the basis of an Intelligent Designer.

    Darwinian theory does not make any predictions that are exclusive to it. However Darwin did say what would falsify his claims and modern biologists have uncovered many such systems and subsystems that fit his falsification criteria.

    IOW for all intents and purposes, Darwin has been falsified and darwinian mechanisms have been found wanting.

    However that will not stop you from saying otherwise. So please, carry on.

  161. TJguy,

    I read your post on no death before the fall, and I have to disagree, I have made an argument about that on my blog, responses are welcome.

    http://www.thetruthenquirer.bl.....-plan.html

  162. Joe (& EL):

    The basic issue is in the root of the Darwinist tree of life model of the history of life. Yes, I know the theory neatly omits this, though it often crops up in school textbooks.

    No roots, nothing further, just as — as EA highlighted — no main branches and innumerable successive finely graded fossils, no twigs and leaves.

    So, let us see a sound Darwinist/evo mat account of OOL, grounded on observations that break the general inductive conclusion that FSCO/I is a reliable sign of design as cause. The cell is chock full of FSCO/I and so far, no observationally anchored evo mat account and no Nobel Prize consequently. (Prigogine — as he admitted — doesn’t count. Never mind what popular and news mags said 30 years ago.)

    Similarly, let us see an actual, observationally warranted Darwinist account of OO body plans that answers inter alia the Cambrian fossil revo challenge that stumped Darwin, and also the other major body plan gaps. For instance the actual origin of adaptations to make a whale with associated pop genetics solutions would help. So would an account of origin of our language using capacity.

    As in, what I am getting back to is that it will soon be eight months since the 6,000 word darwinist essay challenge with no serious takers.

    Sniping games at TSZ, etc., don’t count.

    That tells me the REAL degree of observationally grounded confidence in the Darwinist system. (As opposed to the Lewontinian a prioris that lead true believers in circles of false triumphalism, in which gross extrapolations and dubious icons seem much stronger than they are.)

    LOW.

    KF

  163. It’s the [SNIP -- too close], I think.

  164. Oh. Sorry. I meant, Lizzie’s proofs of the occurrence of evolution.

  165. ‘To rule out a non-design mechanism simply because you have decided, a priori, that the appearance of design is evidence of design, is to assume your consequent’

    No, Lizzie. It’s kind of empirical stuff. You know, the way things appear. And you kind of measure their characteristics ‘n’ stuff, when it’s appropriate.

  166. But you only measure the way they ‘appear’. If they don’t appear you can’t. Not realistically.

    ‘Appear’! It’s that word again. It’s getting like ‘counter-rational’: a boogey-man…. as y’all say on your side of the Atlantic.

  167. Lizzie is [SNIP -- cf here KF]:

    This is really quite simple:

    1. Is x designed?
    2. Who designed x?

    I trust you can see that these are separate questions and that it is possible to answer the first without ever answering, or even asking for that matter, the second.

    No, they are not separate questions, Eric. It is the fundamental error of ID to think that they are. This is why E-prime is so useful in rooting out such errors. Translating into E-prime:

    1. Did somebody or something design x?
    2. Who designed x?

    My first is logically identical to Eric’s first, but written in E-Prime we can see that the questions are not separate at all, but intimately related. To answer the first we need to consider the second, and to answer the second, we need to consider the first.

    Total nonsense. We do NOT have to consider the second question in order to answer the first and Lizzie cannot make her case that shows otherwise.

    The who comes AFTER we have determined design, Lizzie. Science cannot answer the who without first determining design, duh.

    And then she reposts keths’ total nonsense about unguided evolution beong a better explanation than ID. Unfortunately keiths is an imbecile that couldn’t understand science if his life depended on it.

    Earh to Lizzie:

    Do you really think that your bald assertions mean something?

  168. kairosfocus,

    A fool (or a liar) is as a fool (or a liar) does- do NOT blame the messenger.

    And maybe your “fiery hell” is the cause of global warming ;)

  169. Mikey Elzinga wants to know:

    What do you get out of badgering Elizabeth?

    We get to expose her (and the rest of the TSZ ilk) as the scientifically illiterate dolt that she is.

    Why is there so much hatred towards her on the part of the UD people?

    She constantly misrepresents our position and claims and she constantly oversells unguided evolution. And she never supports any of her claims with actual evidence. She is nothing but a spewer of rhetoric.

  170. Joe (& EA, as well as EL et al):

    It is clear that the first pivotal question is:

    Q1: Are there things in our world of experience, which exhibit SIGNS that, per repeated empirical observation amounting to a regularity, reliably indicate the already known state of being designed?

    A1: There are such, FSCO/I being a good umbrella term for many of such. Posts in this thread and over at objecting sites are good examples, showing the difference between:

    OSC: ghghghghghgh . . . ,

    RSC: fheihtu3hbhwfyf . . . and

    FSC: a functional sequence in English, ASCII-coded text

    .

    Q2: Are we then epistemically entitled to trust such SIGNS in cases where we have not seen the actual direct cause of the relevant objects?

    A2: Such is the nature of inductive reasoning, and of science, where on observing an evident uniformity, we have reason to trust it unless shown not to be general. Such, for instance is how Newton reasoned. And, as we saw, it is how Lyell and Darwin reasoned, IN ADDRESSING THE REMOTE, UNOBSERVABLE PAST. Namely, if we see an evidently uniform pattern where a given sign or cluster of signs is characteristic of a given causal factor, we have good reason to infer from sign to signified, unless and until the sign is shown to have limitations or to be an error. To pick and choose where this is accepted is to play at selectively hyperspeptical games and to entertain a double standard of warrant.

    Q3: Are such signs pointing reliably to design in our obserevation relevant to the world of C-Chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life?

    A3: Yes, from DNA and mRNA with the associated algorithmic codes and executing machinery on up. Cf. OP.

    Q4: Has it been shown per observation that blind chemical, physical, thermodynamic, or biological processes are capable of accounting for the OOL without design, and particularly for the FSCO/I found in say coded DNA?

    A4: Not at all, and one of the best indicators — yes, this is another level of signs pointing to an objective state of affairs — is how objectors constantly duck away from providing counter examples, or when they try, the counter examples they attempt prove the opposite of what they wish. This latest one seems to be trying to pretend that he focus of design inferences is not empirical evidence leading to demonstrated reliable signs that indicate design as a relevant cause. In short, a strawman caricature.

    Q5: But, you cannot have designs without a designer? So, isn’t the attempt to pretend that you are not talking about designers — especially supernatural ones — a hidden agenda tactic?

    A5: The logical first question is, do you have a design at all, as indicated by a reliable, objective sign? Design theory is about showing on tested reliable signs, that tweredun, it is not in the primary sense or context, a whodunit exercise. Until there is evidence of deliberate setting of a fire or killing, we do not have reason to open up an arson or murder case. Whodunit is subsequent to that tweredun. As has been repeatedly pointed out to EL et al — literally for years — and as is simple common sense.

    Q6: Why, then is there a resistance to that point?

    A6: patently, on long observation, because of an ideological a priori — cf Lewontin et al –and objection to the possibility that empirical evidence and inductive logic could possibly provide support for undesired candidate designers, such as God. That is the context in which Lewontin tried to cite Beck to the effect that God is a chaotic, irrational idea, that would make all nature arbitrary. Theologically of course, Gods is seen as the author of creation and the sustainer thereof, a God of order. next, the imagined source of chaos — miracles, are also SIGNS. And, the point of a sign is that it is an index that points and to do so must stand out from its background. As we can see from text on this screen. That is, miracles MUST be rare, in order to successfully point, and MUST be against the backdrop of a highly predictable orderly pattern of nature. Also, we are supposedly under the moral government of God, but that requires a highly predictable and influence-able order of the world so we know likely and reasonable consequences. Where, God is envisioned as Reason himself, so the natural world would communicate intelligible characteristics reflecting that character, rendering it intelligible. But what is happening is that seeing an intelligible order, many have imagined that we can have order as self-explanatory without organiser. That means that anything that potentially points differently will find itself violently objected to. As is happening.

    Q7: but isn’t this all a hidden agenda scheme to smuggle God in, inside a lab coat?

    A7: This is ignorant of the history of science and of the actual views of many practising scientists today. God is not “smuggled in” into science, unless one is redefining science as applied atheism, which then runs into the problem of science being confined to a question-begging materialist circle by notions such as methodological naturalism. If empirical evidence could possibly point to a cause that is beyond the realm of nature, then science cannot be both open to the truth the evidence could point to and at the same time lock out any such possibility by injecting Lewontin’s a priori. IN SHORT, WE ARE HERE SEEING A DEMAND TO TAKE SCIENCE CAPTIVE TO MATERIALIST IDEOLOGY. Sorry, science as an open-minded pursuit of the truth about our world in light of evidence takes priority over such ideological power games.

    Q8: But, isn’t design theory inherently about the designer, and can you have design without a designer?

    A8: Strawman again. Design theory is about the empirical investigation of our world and objects in it that may exhibit signs that point to design as cause. At simple level, there is a recognisable difference between a stone and a hand-axe. There is something about that reputed room full of evident artifacts of unknown cause in the Smithsonian that marks them out as distinct from nature. If we were to find some things on Mars or the Moon, those would tell us: designed. Surely, we can systematise such. if SETI finds a signal, that too will be different from natural phenomena. How, per observable, tested, reliable indicators, can we tell such apart? That is the direct scientific purpose of design theory. And the proper issue is that you will not be willing to entertain the possibility that there are reliable signs of design, unless you are willing to consider the POSSIBILITY of a relevant designer. So, we need again to point to the signs of a priori ideological materialism and its fellow travellers and ask the pointed question: is the root of many objections a refusal to entertain what would otherwise be a reasonable possibility, design?

    Q9: But you are jut blowing up the image of a human being unto the sky?

    A9: Nope. We do recognise from our experience and observation that designers are possible, indeed actual. We see as well cases such as beavers that indicate that such is not in fact or in principle confined to humans. Instead, we recognise that design is a functional pattern of behaviour: in accord with an intelligible goal, entities are so configured and integrated as to achieve a purpose, adapting materials, forces and circumstances as means to ends. There is no good reason to lock that down to humans, so if we wish to learn the truth about our world, it is reasonable to identify reliable signs of design and listen to them when they speak, even in strange corners like the world of the cell or the configuration of the physics of the observed cosmos.

    Q 10: Isn’t this all a hidden Christo-fascist right wing fundy theocratic agenda, designed to undermine liberty and bring back the inquisition, the index, the rack, witch hunts etc?

    A10: No, such is little more than propagandistic projection. Witches were hunted and hated because it was thought that they had real power to do harm and used it. Once it was seen that such was unlikely and that the methods used were unlikely to find truth and achieve justice, they were stopped. Horrific, and an abuse of unaccountable power, backed up by the madness of crowds, but not likely to return in such a form. However in our day, the sort of false accusations made against design thinkers and the sort of blame the victim career busting tactics and outing games seen, should give pause. The rack is a torture device, again utterly unlikely to return. The index of forbidden books is not likely to return, we have enough problems with restricting outright pornography and other such gruesomely exploitive and destructive materials. the inquisition actually still exists over in Rome, as a council for investigating theology that has gone off the rails. The most it has been able to do is to say to theologian X, that you may not teach A, B, C and still say you are doing so within the Catholic fold. I suspect that would make such a theologian even more popular in some quarters. Evangelicals simple have no interest in the support or approval of the Roman Church, and secularists would probably hold up such a censure as a badge of honour. As to conspiracy theorising, such deservedly has little weight in reasonable minds. It will help to get some facts straight too, fascism — as Mussolini’s roots and the name of the National Socialist German Worker’s [= NAZI] Party should tell us — is actually a politically messianistic, statist ideology of the LEFT. It envisions an unprecedented crisis that targets some mass-based victim group and justifies the rise of some Nietzschean nihilistic, beyond morality and law superman political saviour who shall deliver utopia. Blasphemous idolatry, in a nutshell. (Cf. here. And for those fgullible enough to be taken in by the “Hitler was a Christian” smear, cf. here.) And of course the projection of imagined Christian conspiracies to take over this that and the other, sounds a little strained coming from advocates of secularist agendas and ideologies that are seeking to dominate our civilisation. If you live in a glass house . . .

    =======

    KF

  171. ME: I pity EL, at this stage. I do not hate — and never have hated — her. She has however stood up in public to champion a view and in so doing has distorted the views of others to the advantage of what she hopes to promote. I have a right of fair comment in reply. KF

  172. This is why science is iterative.

    The explanatory filter is an iterative process. And it happens to be an iterative process mandated by scientific investigation-> see Newton’s Four Rules

    This is why ID is not science.

    And yet we arrive at any given design inference via an iterative process that requires knowledge gained via observations, experiments and experiences.

    Why don’t YOU lead by example Lizzie? Why don’t you tell us the iterative process(es) used to determine that the diversity of living organisms evolved via unguided, purposeless, blind, mindless processes. And then tell us why these processes do not live up to expectations when they are directly observed. For example after more than 50,000 generations Lenski’s bacteria still haven’t developed any new proteins, let alone new protein-to-protein binding sites.

    Present to us these alleged testable hypotheses and predictions borne from darwinian processes.

    You keep saying that we are doing it wrong yet you cannot show us how you guys do it correctly. Why is that?

  173. Why is there so much hatred towards her on the part of the UD people?

    Well, I certainly don’t hate Lizzie. Indeed, I actually enjoyed some of her thoughts and our exchanges when she posted here.

    However, it has become apparent over time that she is unwilling or incapable of honestly representing the design argument, notwithstanding numerous and repeated corrections. That results in a loss of credibility.

    Further, she exhibits a blind faith and enamorment in the power of materialist natural processes to produce what they have never been known to produce. That isn’t so much a credibility issue, but it does make us shake our heads sometimes.

  174. Lizzie just doesn’t get it:

    And, as I have said many times, the big hint that MarsHenge was designed is that it doesn’t self-replicate, so that option is off the table.

    Umm, Lizzie, your position cannot explain self-replication.

    And just because you can say that the question of who designed it cannot be separated from the question of is it designed, that doesn’t make it so. Reality refutes you as it is a given that we have to figure out that it was designed before we can figure out how and who designed it.

    Archaeology- Stonehenge is designed and THEN the who & how, and we still don’t know exactly who & how.

  175. 175
    Chance Ratcliff

    There is questionable reasoning afoot. According to what I gather from Joe’s cut-and-pasted comments of EL:

    1) A thing can exhibit the features of design yet unless we can identify the designer we cannot infer design.

    2) Something can exhibit the features of design yet if it self-replicates we cannot infer design.

    In both cases, something can exhibit the features of design, so I suppose that’s an admission that design is objectively detectable after all. EL just appeals to two separate, contrived technicalities in order to avoid the inference. It’s not really a position of strength.

  176. Poor widdle Mikey Elzinga thinks that because we say Lizzie misrepresents our arguments and is incapable of honestly reprsenting them, means that we hate her.

    Mikey knows quite a bit about hate as it is obvious that he is driven by his hatred of Morris, Gish and other dead & living creationsists and IDists.

    And all widdle Mikey can do is falsely accuse us of not understanding science yet he too fails to provide examples of how it is supposed to be done properly.

  177. And, as I have said many times, the big hint that MarsHenge was designed is that it doesn’t self-replicate . . .

    That has to rank as one of the most ridiculous comments I’ve heard all week. Why would anyone think that is even a rational statement?

    Ya know, I went outside the other day and saw some rocks. At first I thought perhaps they weren’t designed, but then I realized they couldn’t self-replicate, which tipped me off that they must have been designed. Yeah, right.

    How can someone actually think that: (i) self replication automatically provides the means for design substitute, and (ii) the absence of self-replication is a reliable criterion of design?

    Is anyone home?

  178. 178
    Chance Ratcliff

    Eric @177,

    “How can someone actually think that: (i) self replication automatically provides the means for design substitute…”

    I think they believe that the burden of evidence for unguided evolution has been met: nobody has shown it to be impossible. There is one “scientific” biological theory of diversity: unguided evolution.

  179. 179

    Apparently for Dr Liddle, if something can undergo Darwinian evolution, then it doesn’t even need an explanation, She repeats her slogan – Why invoke design? Just believe in evolution’.

    Ohhhh, but wait-

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    You know, Upright BiPed, you are absolutely right!

    Darwinian evolution doesn’t explain how replication with heritable variation in reproductive success first came into being!

    (Elzinga, it does not indicate, nor does it require “hatred” to recognize someone as intellectually dishonest).

  180. Lizzie is just deluded:

    Joe G is obviously {EL, snip!] that he got banned here…

    So my getting banned is the reason why you misrepresent Intelligent Design? THAT is what [Joe, snip], Lizzie. THAT and the fact you constantly overstate your position and never provide anything to substantiate your claims. All of that [snip], Lizzie. And all of that is the reason for my link that caused you to have a hissy fit.

    Then an obtuse [snip] chimes in:

    If their position is being misrepresented then all it takes is KF, once, to come over here and set the record straight.

    We have set the record straight. It isn’t our fault that you and your ilk are hopeless losers.

    And it is very noticeable and telling that they still don’t lead by example. And that is something else that [snip], Lizzie. You and your ilk run your mouths but never ante up.

    “it looks like unguided evolution to me” isn’t science…

  181. Eric:

    Ya know, I went outside the other day and saw some rocks. At first I thought perhaps they weren’t designed, but then I realized they couldn’t self-replicate, which tipped me off that they must have been designed. Yeah, right.

    How can someone actually think that: (i) self replication automatically provides the means for design substitute, and (ii) the absence of self-replication is a reliable criterion of design?

    To which om responded with:

    Yes, because that’s what being claimed Eric. And they complain about being misrepresented!

    Who is making that claim and what is the reasoning? I ask because it does not make any sense that (i) self replication automatically provides the means for design substitute, and (ii) the absence of self-replication is a reliable criterion of design. So please, clarify yourself, if you can. Unfortunately OM doesn’t seem to be capable of being clear.

  182. Richie “cupcake” Hughes is having difficulty with my post in 136. He doesn’t understand that if we cannot answer the question in the decision box that it just stays there and we say “we don’t know”.

    That is unbelieveable stupidity, even for Richie.

  183. OM responds:

    Well, apart from anything else (such as the link above) we’ve never seen any evidence of it being intelligently guided.

    The link above has been refuted and you haven’t given any indication that you know how to evaluate evidence.

    But int he meanwhile you said something about Newton and unneeded entities? Well, that. So the possibility remains open, but we have an explanation we’re happy with thanks.

    LoL! Your “explanation” is untestable and tehrefor not scientific.

    So it’s not been determined that evolution is unguided.

    Obvioulsy it has otherwise there wouldn’t be any issues with ID.

    And again OM provides absolutely nothing to support anything it posted.

    BTW what negative do you think I am intent on proving? Asking you for POSITIVE evidence for your position is not asking to prove a negative. Only a moron would think so and here you are.

    So there you have it, they have nothing but bald assertions and false accusations and are apparently proud of it.

  184. TSZ Denizens: I have yet to see any good reason to try to invest time & effort and put up with the sort of attitude and behaviour that are evident in situations like that. Not interested, save maybe in speaking for record — and UD is at least as good for that. If your case cannot be made under forum rules that enforce a modicum of civility, the case is not worth the effort to deal with it. The fact is, in a bit over a week, it will be eight months of silence — apart from some snipping, strawmannising and fallacy-laced sniping — on a free kick at goal. That failure to take up a good faith offer to make the case speaks volumes. And this very thread lays out a simple version of the design inference on a pivotal case (at significantly shorter length than 6,000 words, 3600+ I think). The reactions from objectors I am seeing do not impress me for cogency or substance. KF

  185. kf, it is your failure to directly address the criticisms presented at TSZ that speaks volumes as every onlooker can attest too. Instead you ‘hide’ behind a UD firewall and from your responses it appears that you ‘trust’ Joe to be a fair arbiter and reporter of the content and context of what is posted at TSZ. That speaks volumes as to your credibility given Joe’s track record around the internet.

    If you had the courage of your convictions you would engage your critics directly rather than sniping at them from your sanctuary. Please do better!

  186. franklin:

    kf, it is your failure to directly address the criticisms presented at TSZ that speaks volumes as every onlooker can attest too.

    All I see is whining. I have asked them to lead by example and they fail to do so. And until we know what they will accept, which they can do without us, there isn’t anything to respond to.

    And if it wasn’t for me, the fine denizens of UD wouldn’t even know nor care what happens over there. So perhaps you should just thank me and leave it at that.

    And you can shove your innuendos [SNIP]…

    Please do better! Coward.

  187. F:

    First, your resort to insinuations of cowardice, is an uncivil personality, especially when a reason has already been given. As in, what part of I see no good reason to wade into a long, time wasting exchange — do you recall the 2 months exchange on UB’s simple summary of what information systems in the relevant sense are about, which is instantly recognisable to someone familiar with modern information theory and communication systems? or, the long and silly word games over the term “arbitrary” — with the abusive, enablers of the abusive and too often the willfully obtuse, is it too hard to understand? (Or, are we now so Biblically illiterate that we have forgotten a saying in the Sermon on the Mount about pearls and those utterly disinclined to appreciate them?)

    I have laid out a case in simple summary above.

    That case is based on an inductive exercise in light of reliable signs and their signified states of affairs. If it has been falsified, it will not be on word games or speculative assertions or question-begging redefinitions of science, or the like, but by clear, empirically backed observed counter-example, with particular reference to the origin of life. Or else, by evident reason showing a breakdown in inductive logic.

    If you have such a clear counter example, give it. If you have a substantial objection on cogent reasoning or evident facts, give it.

    That you did not but resorted to personalities already, shows that it is highly likely that you cannot meet that basic, long since well known test of scientific reasoning.

    If that is not the case, prove me wrong.

    Failing that, it seems you are playing at denigratory emotional rhetorical manipulation tactics and perception games in absence of actual cogent argument on soundly established, observed facts.

    Demanding that I prove my courage by wandering over to a venue where, on experience over quite a fair length of time now, I will find little substance and abundant fallacies, is not going to hack it.

    When something significant has been popped up here, I have answered it, and when there were long exchanges on the subject here over the course of literally years, I answered them. The evidence I see so far is that we are dealing with recycled, long since answered points, multiplied by evasions of the core case, an inductive logic case on empirical evidence over the source of FSCO/I. Where also the inductive logic involved should be instantly familiar to those who have seriously dealt with the common experience in science of having to deal with things that are not directly observable.

    You will notice for instance, a summary on what seems relevant for the moment, at 157 and 170 above, etc.

    Let me help you. List your top ten questions, if that is what you think is needed.

    KF

    PS: I have simply responded to what has been brought here (and on a long base of experience), trusting or failing to trust Joe has nothing to do with it: cf examples of what I have found myself having to deal with at TSZ here most recently (OM, AF, RTH, also EL — the invidious comparison to Nazism and witch hunts, cf. 170 above), here (Toronto — could not get empirically grounded, provisional inference to best explanation regarding inferring on unobservables straight) and here (Petrushka — claimed, demonstrably falsely, that I threatened banning for mere disagreement). Insistent, slanderously unwarranted invidious comparison to nazism, backed up by enabling behaviour or gross fallacies and willful, well-poisoning misrepresentations do not commend your site, F. It marks a descent to the fever swamp level of sites that I will not even name. The obvious implication is: if you have a case to make, bring it on on the merits. Starting with the now nearing eight month old open free kick at goal challenge to provide a 6,000 word essay on the Darwinian tree of life, with the root in OOL, and onwards to the main body plan branches and upwards to the origin of man with linguistic, reasoning ability. The above summary on our side takes up a bit over half that length and covers the main case with a focus on OOL.

  188. OM is still bunbling around:

    Then why did it take so long and so many generations for the intelligence already embedded in Lenski’s bacteria to make the required changes so it could digest citrate?

    Because it didn’t require that to survive. And there were obvioulsy more than one way to keep surviving.

    BTW all of Lenski’s bacteria have the ability to digest citrate.

    In fact, you would expect all lineages to have that change, but they all did not.

    That is false and demonstrates your total lack of understanding.

    Only if getting the citrate in the presence of O2 was the ONLT way to survive would we expect such a thing. And that was NOT the case.

    IOW OM still thinks that its ignorance is some sort of refutation.

  189. F: Do you want to take up the Darwin essay challenge or at least give us a list of 10 substantive objections? KF

  190. OK one last one that demonstrates it is hopeless to get through to Lizzie:

    We apply it to Stonehenge. It comes back positive. Cool. We know (with whatever degree of confidence you like, it needn’t be 100%) that a designer is necessary for Stonehenge to exist, therefore we can infer a designer for Stonehenge. Now we apply it to a bacterial flagellum. It comes back negative.

    In who’s book and by what methodology does the bacterial flagellum produce a negative but something much more simple and a lot less intricate, like Stonehenge, brings back a positive?

    50,000+ generations of E. coli and there isn’t any indication that darwinian processes can produce multi-protein systems.

    Lizzie believes what she does in spite of the evidence. And that means there isn’t anything that would convince her otherwise.

    But then again, I am sure most everyone here already knew that…

  191. Joe: Except, perhaps, to see just how the thinking she is using looks in the cold light of day. The flagellum has in it say 30 unique proteins, at 200 AA per — lowish, we see 6,000 codons needed, at three letters per codon. 2 bits each: 36,000 bits without reckoning with self assembly, regulation, integration into sensing and response etc. Far beyond the FSCO/I threshold. KF

  192. Well it appears the TSZ is down for now anyway…

  193. Looks so, I hope that is not another wave of hacking. I don’t wish that on anyone. KF

    PS: I now recommend monster passwords, 15 + characters, mixing upper and lower case, numerals and symbolic characters, as that makes search spaces big. 128^15 ~ 4 * 10^31, 26^15 ~ 1.7 * 10^21, 26^8 ~ 2 * 10^11. Such are the realities of config spaces W, and Target zones within, T.

  194. It looks like they just need to pay the rent…

  195. Joe @190:

    If that is what Lizzie said then she doesn’t understand how to use the filter.* Someone please take it away from her before anyone gets hurt.

    —–

    * My hunch is that Lizzie thinks the bacterial flagellum not being designed is because it is part of a self-replicating system? That seems to be the . . . sorry I had to pause for a moment due to laughter . . . and again . . . key to her imagination of what wondrous things natural forces can accomplish.

  196. EA (& J):

    I think much of this appeal to the alleged wonderful capacity of natural selection would first be deflated if it were consistently asked: on what specific direct empirically observed grounds do you infer this capacity? (It will soon enough turn out that much of the assurance is in the end driven by the a priori materialism of Lewontin backed up by so-called methodological naturalism, which makes the slightest indication of minor adaptations — finch beaks, blind cave fish and the like — seem like confirmation of something that is vastly extrapolated. Only, at the price of begging big questions, as Johnson pointed out in reply to Lewontin.)

    However, the deeper issue, is that this appeal to natural selection by differential reproductive success in the context of chance variation — per force of the underlying logic — carries us straight to what EL and ever so many others are wont to try to exclude from consideration (as not being a strict part of the Darwinian theory of evolution), the ROOT of the tree of life. That is, the origin of cell based life. Which is of course the focus of the OP above.

    For, if something has such a wonderful capacity, it is entirely legitimate to ask, whence came it and how doth it act, with what demonstrated power.

    And that carries us in turn to the question of how cells replicate and how the required genetic, regulatory and epigenetic information and functionally specific, complex organisation, come to be. Thence, we face the von Neumann Self Replicator [vNSR] facility of the living cell, which is of course code using and an instance of such FSCO/I. Where just the genomes in question credibly (per known genomes) start at about 100,000 – 1 mn bits worth of information, 100 – 1,000 times the number of bits at the FSCO/I threshold. For major body plans we are talking 10 – 100 mn bit increments in genome sizes.

    All of that information and complex functionally specific organisation have to come from somewhere and there has to be sufficient empirical warrant that we are not dealing with speculation as opposed to empirically warranted theory.

    Where, the only empirically grounded, needle in haystack plausible source for such information, codes and organisation, is design as causal process. Which renders such design the candidate to beat.

    Going beyond, we face the further point that Paley raised in Ch 2 of his essay, in which he extended his watch found in the field argument to address precisely the question of the alleged material difference of finding something to be self replicating (and by extension reproducing):

    Suppose, in the next place, that the person who found the watch should after some time discover that, in addition to all the properties which he had hitherto observed in it, it possessed the unexpected property of producing in the course of its movement another watch like itself — the thing is conceivable; that it contained within it a mechanism, a system of parts — a mold, for instance, or a complex adjustment of lathes, baffles, and other tools — evidently and separately calculated for this purpose . . . .

    The first effect would be to increase his admiration of the contrivance, and his conviction of the consummate skill of the contriver. Whether he regarded the object of the contrivance, the distinct apparatus, the intricate, yet in many parts intelligible mechanism by which it was carried on, he would perceive in this new observation nothing but an additional reason for doing what he had already done — for referring the construction of the watch to design and to supreme art . . . . He would reflect, that though the watch before him were, in some sense, the maker of the watch, which, was fabricated in the course of its movements, yet it was in a very different sense from that in which a carpenter, for instance, is the maker of a chair — the author of its contrivance, the cause of the relation of its parts to their use. [Nat Theol, 1804]

    What I find interesting, after repeatedly calling attention to this argument from 1804, is that it anticipates what we would learn 150 years later about how cells actually reproduce, though of course Paley was too early to know about Babbage’s work on algorithmic information processing technology.

    I also find it significant that it is normally ignored when the usual appeal is made, which has the effect of turning not only Paley’s basic argument but the onward and much more sophisticated work of modern design theorists, into a strawman caricature.

    That should stop.

    KF

  197. F/N: Let me extend the clip from ch 2 of NT:

    _________

    >> There cannot be design without a designer; contrivance, without a contriver; order, without choice ; arrangement, without any thing capable of arranging ; subserviency and relation to a purpose, without that which could intend a purpose; means suitable to an end, and executing their office in accomplishing that end, without the end ever having been contemplated, or the means accommodated to it. Arrangement, disposition of parts, subserviency of means to an end, relation of instruments to a use, imply the presence of intelligence and mind. No one, therefore, can rationally believe that the insensible, inanimate watch, from which the watch before us issued, was the proper cause of the mechanism we so much admire in it—could be truly said to have constructed the instrument, disposed its parts, assigned their office, determined their order, action, and mutual dependency, combined their several motions into one result, and that also a result connected with the utilities of other beings. All these properties, therefore, are as much unaccounted for as they were before.

    IV. Nor is any thing gained by running the difficulty farther back, that is, by supposing the watch before us to have been produced from another watch, that from a former, and so on indefinitely. Our going back ever so far brings us no nearer to the least degree of satisfaction upon the subject. Contrivance is still unaccounted for. “We still want a contriver. A designing mind is neither supplied by this supposition nor dispensed with. If the difficulty were diminished the farther we went back, by going back indefinitely we might exhaust it. And this is the only case to which this sort of reasoning applies . . . >>

    _________

    Notice, carefully, the chain of inference Paley here makes: design is made manifest in the self reproduction mechanism in his thought exercise self replicating watch, as with any other mechanism, by the existence of evident contrivance, the selection and arrangement of parts in complex array to achieve evident and specific, arrangement-dependent functional end.

    He goes on to make the additional inference that on seeing design as best explanation of contrivance, we can see that sequence of replication events does not answer to whence cometh the mechanism. It is simply irrelevant, and indeed he argues that his holds for even an infinite chain of successive replications.

    He also makes a significant inference: design implies purpose and purpose implies designing mind. That is, on the evidence of the contrivance that entails, design, he infers further that designs are manifestations of purpose and skill leading to effort that issues in contrivance. So, designs provide evidence of designers. He even makes the point in Ch 1 that remoteness in time is irrelevant.

    Symbolising:

    [a] Observation –>

    [b] evident complex functionally specific contrivance –>

    [c] design as best explanation –>

    [d] purpose as further best explanation –>

    [e] the mind of a designer as the “place” where purpose lives –>

    [f] the existence of a designer (even one otherwise unknown) who has that mind

    Now, of course, all of this is at intuitive level.

    Paley is too early also for the results of statistical thermodynamics, so he does not have the apparatus to formally address configuration spaces W and narrow target zones T within that can achieve function, thence search challenges for unintelligent cause in a gamut of 10^57 atoms of our solar system or the 10^80 of our observed cosmos, within 13.7 BY or so.

    But in truth the intuitive argument on inferring design as process form evidence of contrivance, and thereafter inferring that designs point to designers is right. (It is beyond this, when he makes arguments that try to deduce God from design and the attributes of God in broader theology, and the claims he seems to have made about the nature of the world, that there are material difficulties. We are not interested in such, the focal matter is the basic design inference on evident contrivance, including the issue of function multiplied by the ADDITIONAL facility of reproduction.)

    The modern development considerably broadens and strengthens the point, without undermining its essential nature.

    Evident contrivance that is beyond the reasonable search capacity reach of blind watchmaker mechanisms, is reasonable evidence of design. Design, implies purposeful configuration of parts towards a complex specific functional whole. Purpose speaks to mind. So, from evident contrivance of sufficient complexity and specificity of function, we are in our epistemic rights to infer designer at the relevant point of origin.

    It matters not if that time is c. 5 BYA for the solar system, or 13.7 BYA for the observed cosmos.

    Such times and atomic resources, as has been shown repeatedly, per needle in haystack or millions of monkeys at keyboards points constrained by the numbers of available atoms and time, are not enough to make something of 500 – 1,000 bits worth of complexity a reasonable product of blind chance and/or mechanical necessity.

    In addition, we have the weight of a mass of billions of cases in point — without credible exception — that we do directly see FSCO/I being made all the time. By design.

    So, it is time for strawman arguments to be laid aside and for the issue to be seriously addressed on its merits.

    KF

  198. The article is good BUT ITS EVEN GRANTS TOO MUCH.

    DNA
    Im sorry, can methinks a weasel produce a kidney? These are just letters than have no meaning in russian or chineese–they do nothing unless the rules are layed out in advance by intelligence. Can monkeys design the operating system to build the rotors and turbines in a cell?

    This monkey typing idea only demonstrates one thing–how utterly dysfunctional the atheist reasoning is. The rules for what you are reading now are layed out in advance..they have no meaning in themselves–they mind as well be sdhfiuahfia9083.)(329.

    Can a monkey match that? Can randomness produce that? Who cares? There needs to be an operating system or the code just lays there. Shakespeare cannot setup the electrical and pressure system of the 4 chamber heart. The written word cannot in any way shape or form be compared to machine code. Even if you were able to produce a blueprint at random–which you could not–it could not build the Cell.

    To imagine all you need is what amounts to a word is to be sent immediately to special class. The argument is so obviously juvenile–I cant see why it is even addressed at length. Just because Dawkins is smart–it should not be granted that he even approaches a coherent thought on this topic.

    What Im afraid is that this not just simple dishonesty–it is mental deficiency. This is simple reasoning a child can see–so how do we explain grown men swiming around in this pile of most ludicrous soup? Bias–and the inability of the atheist brain to detect purpose–a well documented fact.

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