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Confessions of a Design Heretic

Those of you who’ve followed my posts and comments will have picked up that my view of Intelligent Design is pretty complicated. On the one hand, I defend design inferences, even strong design inferences. I’m entirely comfortable with questioning Darwinism (if that view still has enough content to identify it as a clear position, anyway), and have a downright dismissive view of both naturalism (if that view… etc) and atheism. I regularly see the ID position butchered, mangled and misrepresented by its detractors, most of whom should and probably do know better.

On the flipside, I don’t think ID (or for that matter, no-ID) is science, even if I reason that if no-ID is science then so is ID. My personal leaning has always been towards theistic evolution, and I see evolution as yet another instance of design rather than something which runs in opposition to it – a view which I know some ID proponents share, but certainly not all. I think non-scientific arguments for and inferences to design have considerable power, and see little reason to elevate particular arguments simply because some insist they’re “scientific”.

Here’s another part of that flipside, and the subject of today’s post. One of the more prominent ID arguments hinges on the trichotomy of Chance, Necessity, and Design. The problem for me is that I question the very existence of Chance, and I see Necessity as subsumable under Design.

Let’s start with the more straightforward issue first: Necessity and design. I think a problem straightaway is that design presupposes necessity, at least in the form of law – and the type of law/necessity you have serves as a limiting factor on design. But more than that, law is implemented and used in our own designs – you need only look at how software is designed and created to see man-made law at work. Likewise, the nature of physical laws of our universe is itself an open question, a thing which has to be explained. It would be enough to point out the mere possibility of “design” as an explanation of these laws to kick some dirt on contrast of necessity and design. The fact that we have intelligent agents implementing laws – arguably comparable laws – in software, systems and designs should be enough to give additional pause.

So what about chance? Well, let’s try to nail down the appropriate definition of chance here: Events and outcomes entirely unforeseen, undirected and unintended by any mind. I actually think that’s pretty straightforward, but let’s note what this definition is not identical to: The claim that outcomes were, largely or in part, the result of natural or material forces. It’s entirely possible for intelligent agents to foresee, intend, and orchestrate these outcomes, whether via direct intervention or well in advance (“front-loading”). Nor is the claim identical to “events and outcomes that were the result of accumulations of (small or large) changes over time”. Once again, such outcomes are entirely compatible with their being foreseen, directed, and intended by a mind, both in advance or directly.

Now, I think this is what many people who play the ‘chance, necessity or design’ card typically mean when they oppose chance to design. (I’m sure other people could go with another definition – but for our purposes I think I’m giving a fair view.) The problem is that, if this is what is meant by chance, then it’s not obvious that “chance” really exists to begin with. That’s not to say someone can’t assume that it exists, or that they can’t mount some kind of argument for the existence of chance based on whatever presuppositions or standards. People can assume whatever they like, and they’re certainly capable of arguing for just about anything. But while design can be verified by first-person experience (just design something), and law is both subsumable under design as well as generally verifiable (just observe regularity), chance – the sort of chance I’m talking about – is, and may well forever remain, a metaphysical assumption. For all we know, and for all science can tell us, this thing may as well not exist.

I want to stress: To question chance in the manner I’m speaking is not to question, say.. the existence of a gaussian distribution, or of uncorrelated patterns, or of any particular patterns at all. A mind could foresee or even determine a gaussian distribution. A mind could create or intend an uncorrelated pattern. But the pattern itself won’t get you where you need to go – not without, ironically enough, a Design Filter. Even Dembski asserts that his DF is incapable of ruling out design in cases where his filter does not go off – but the inability to determine the presence or lack of design in these mundane cases places the very existence of chance in these cases open to question. This doesn’t mean that chance is demonstrated not to exist – only that its existence is one of mere logical possibility. And that ain’t much.

Oddly enough, I think the DF – or investigations similar to the DF – only heightens my point. At least some of the events and outcomes we see in our universe are the result of intention, of guidance, of mind. In principle, most – even all – events and outcomes we see in our universe could be the result of these things, and as our technology grows our own capabilities become more and more incredible on this front. With this in mind, at least from my point of view, I see little reason to treat ‘chance’ in the sense I wrote about in this entry as more than an interesting and remote logical possibility, an extrascientific posit that doesn’t have much to commend it.

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202 Responses to Confessions of a Design Heretic

  1. The problem for me is that I question the very existence of Chance …

    As well you should. And, it’s not really your problem; it’s the problem of those persons wo refuse even to attempt comprehend that to speak of ‘chance’ causing anything is to speak absolute non-sense.

    One of my pet peeves with ID (or, at any rate, with most IDists) has to do with the constant careless (and false) way they have of speaking about ‘chance’ as having causal agency.

    ‘Chance’ does not, and cannot, cause anything.

    To speak of ‘chance’ or ‘randomness’ is to speak of a lack of correlation between two or more things (entities, objects, events, states, state-changes, etc and etc).

    Thus, to attribute causality to ‘chance’ is precisely to say that the so-called effect under discussion is not correlated to its so-called cause — it is to say that the thing under discussion was not caused by anything, and therefore that it is not an effect of any cause. It is to assert that the thing “just happened;” not only without reason, but also without cause.

  2. Ilion,

    As well you should. And, it’s not really your problem; it’s the problem of those persons wo refuse even to attempt comprehend that to speak of ‘chance’ causing anything is to speak absolute non-sense.

    Well, apparently the ‘Chance and Necessity’ schtick rose to prominence with Monod.

    Mung,

    Sure, I understand the difference between processes modeled as stochastic versus deterministic. But I note in the post that I’m not questioning the existence of gaussian distributions or of pragmatic models. Qualified senses of ‘random’ or ‘chance’ are not what I have my eye on here.

  3. Well, apparently the ‘Chance and Necessity’ schtick rose to prominence with Monod.

    Sure; but that’s no reason for otherwise sensible people to mindlessly repeat it … especially after its absurdity has been explained to them. Repeatedly.

  4. Ilion,

    I’d agree. “Chance as cause” is an error that pops up repeatedly. Maybe what I’m arguing about here is closer to “chance as description”. But either way, I tried to lay out my reasons for being a general chance skeptic.

  5. 6

    Null: “My personal leaning has always been towards theistic evolution,”

    This is generally a Catholic position, one that I lean towards as a Catholic myself. However, I find the design argument put forth in SiTC to be the the argument to best explanation. From there it gets confusing, and as you say complicated.

    “I’m entirely comfortable with questioning Darwinism (if that view still has enough content to identify it as a clear position, anyway),”

    Exactly. Neo-Darwinism was once a clear scientific position, in the same sense that Marxism was a clear scientific position, both original versions have been since falsified, but have subsequently been rearranged in ways that they no longer… “[have] enough content to identify [them] [with] a clear position.” They exist now as ideological worldviews propped up by their followers. One to advance the ideas of communism, the other to advance the ideas of atheism.

  6. junkdnaforlife,

    This is generally a Catholic position, one that I lean towards as a Catholic myself. However, I find the design argument put forth in SiTC to be the the argument to best explanation. From there it gets confusing, and as you say complicated.

    I don’t think what I’m saying here (re: chance skepticism) would lead one to reject SiTC’s inference, at least as I understand it. Maybe some of the specific comparisons would need to be reconsidered, if Meyer puts a lot of stress on things that are not designed. Certainly one can question whether particular mechanisms and processes were responsible for this or that.

    They exist now as ideological worldviews propped up by their followers.

    I’ve run into people who equate Darwinism, even Neo-Darwinism, with “evolution, period.” So if life evolves/evolved at all or in any way, Darwinism is true. I’ve also had people tell me that the views I have about evolution “are not what Darwin meant, and you reject Darwinism if you believe what you believe”. My response has usually been “I don’t care what Darwin thought, and if this means I reject Darwinism, so be it”. I’d say that’s a little like telling a fellow Catholic “I don’t care what the Pope thinks”, except a number of Catholics wouldn’t bat an eye at that. But man, tell them you don’t care what Darwin thought…

  7. nullasalus:

    I have not the time now to go into details about the very interesting points you make, but I will just offer a few thoughts to the discussion.

    First of all, I think we should remain strictly empirical in our definitions. The definition of chance is an unsolved problem in philosophy of science, at least IMO. But we can still manage the concept of chance very well in an empirical context.

    I will stick here to the usual concept of chance, and I will not go into the bigger problem of quantum chance.

    Usual chance is, obviously, a form of necessity. The laws which determin the results of a coin toss are the same laws which make a mchine work. But there is an important formal difference between a strictly deterministic, repetitive system, and a random system, where the working of those same laws gives results which cen realistically be described by a probability distribution, and in no other way.

    So, when we say that some output can be “caused by chance” (an imperfect way of expressing the point, I agree), what we mean is just: that result is reasonably likely in a system where chance modifications occur that can only be described according to probabilistic distributions.

    That is very different from strictly deterministic systems, where the output is highly, or totally, describable in terms of simple laws ans a small number of variables.

    Design, the working of a conscious intelligent being, is the only knowm principle in reality which can give a specific, functional arrangement to events and outputs which can neither be explained in the context of a strictly deterministic system, nor as a result of modifications describable in a strictly probabilistic way (not in a reasonably likely way).

    So, IMO it is perfectly true that design produces outputs which neither a strictly deterministic system, nor a probabilistic system, nor a mixture of both, can empirically give.

    So I do believe that the traditional ID view, if correctly expressed and understood, is perfectly valid.

    You say: “A mind could foresee or even determine a gaussian distribution. A mind could create or intend an uncorrelated pattern.”

    That is possible, but very difficult anyway. And it is not what we usually observe. Even if a mind did that, it would be for a purpose. Now, if a mind wants to create a random pattern, it will usually use the simplest way to do that: utilize a natural probabilistic system, like tossing a coin, or any other appropriate natural system. To create complex random patterns without doing that would be a much more difficult task, and if we could demonstrate that a system generates complex and good random patterns without using any naturally random system, then paradoxically I believe that we could infer design in that system (I know, it is an extreme example, but it is just to make my point clear).

  8. Null:

    The trichotomy of causal factors across chance, necessity and choice is a lot older than Monod, who just tried to cut out choice in his 1970 work. You can see it at work in Newton’s General Scholium, and it haws roots all the way back to at least Plato.

    here is the latter in The Laws, Bk X, describing the evolutionary materialism of his day, c, 400 BC:

    [[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature [phusis, subsuming mechanical necessity, cf as follows] and of chance, the lesser of art [[ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them [i.e. necessity of nature in action] -of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art [choice], but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .

    In this context, necessity of nature is easiest to understand, just drop a heavy object.

    Chance does speak to accidental circumstances: it happens to be just so and could equally have been otherwise, as an immediate observation. Similarly a dropped die tumbling and moving till it settles as the eight corners and twelve edges hit the table top as they happen to be uncorrelated, will exhibit sensitive dependence to initial and intervening conditions so that the settling is a matter of how it comes out, and could just as easily be other than it is, per the initial conditions.

    As a result of this, the outcome of the die will show a statistical distribution that fits a random variable model.

    Similarly, as I discuss here, if we make up a model of a gas from a box with hard little marbles and pistons at the ends, and start at a standstill, then give a piston at one end a hard shove, we will soon see a random variable Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution pattern emerge, without any discernible impact of the precise initial conditions or circumstances of the initial shove, save that the overall kinetic energy in the system is dependent on it:

    =================================
    ||::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::||
    ||::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::||===
    ||::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::||
    =================================

    (Let’s hope the diagram comes out nicely as in the preview.)

    When it comes to quantum models, such random variable distributions for all we know are inherent.

    Laplace’s demon who could predict the future from initial circumstances and dynamics, is out of a job in a world of quantum randomness and sensitive dependence on initial conditions that run tiny differences beyond our control through huge and rapid amplification.

    As I have pointed to repeatedly, as well, my dad in his days as a statistician used to use the lack of correlation between names listed in alphabetical order in a phone book and the assignment of phone numbers to get a poor man’s random number tables. Names are not given by chance, and numbers are definitely not given by chance, but lack of correlation leads to a random distribution that is effectively as flat as you please.

    So, chance based processes — whether by accident of clashing uncorrelated processed that may well be deterministic in themselves, or rising up from the quantum and kinetic theory world — as described are real enough as a matter of empirical observation and correlation with ideal mathematics of random variables.

    the proper scientific approach at this point is to cut off the deep worldview debates and to work based on the empirical circumstances. The root cause of observed random or chance patterns will make itself evident at another level, no need to jump into deep and shark infested philosophical waters on so basic a matter.

    No sense forcing a debate on terms that cannot be decided on science, when there is a question with those who globalise science. So, accept chance in the sense described as a causal factor, e.g. the temperature of a body of gas is understood as the average random energy per molecule per degree of freedom. Pressure is the average rate of change of momentum at the wall of a container, due to random collisions, etc.

    (And at theological – philosophical level, God’s presence everywhere and every-when makes the debate on determinism rather moot: God knows, he can give degrees of freedom that lead to desired overall stochastic patterns, e.g. such chance based processes are key to diffusion, a major phenomenon in all sorts of fields and deeply relied on by cell based living systems. Such chance is not going to run out of control and lead to chaos taking over creation. And BTW, a similar point extends to choice as a real phenomenon, in the teeth of determinists of various stripes. On this, I say — with say Haldane et al — that unless we are free to chose we are not free to think for ourselves and have no knowledge or reasoning, as unless we are free to follow warranting grounds, we are deeply delusional.)

    So, it is reasonable to look at chance phenomena and circumstances as empirical circumstances, and put the onward worldview debates to one side.

    In this sense of the immediate, actuating or influencing precursors to outcomes in phenomena, it is reasonable to view chance as an empirically relevant causal factor, the roots thereof being left to be determined at another level if appropriate.

    Similarly, we can see mechanically necessary cause-effect chains that can be modelled on differential equations with initial circumstances, etc; cf. our falling heavy object. These can be viewed as necessity, leading to the sign of natural regularity of pehnomena under similar initial conditions.

    As for choice, we see in brief above that unless we are free to choose, knowledge and reason are in doubt. So, choice is self-evidently real and an empirical fact of life. This too tends to leave characteristic patterns, such as functionally specific complex organisation and associated information. The latter being the stuff communicated in messages based on protocols, rules, symbols and controlled analogue variables modulated per mechanisms in communication networks. And, often measured based on symbol statistical frequency of observation patterns, per I = – log p.

    On this trichotomy and tested reliable empirical signs, applied at intuitive or more sophisticated, levels on metrics and analyses, we may discern chance, necessity and choice in action in phenomena. Fro instance, once a key is pressed on this PC, necessity leads to the symbol on screen. The key being pressed is largely a matter of choice, but typos happen by chance, and noise in the internet could in principle reduce the message to a garbled hash.

    this can be applied to cell based life, and we see there the sign of FSCI in DNA, pointing to design, whatever roles chance and necessity may also play on other aspects of the cell and life forms.

    Lifting our eyes to the heavens, we see evidence that points to a beginning at a finitely remote point in teh past, and of fine tuning that sets up a cosmos fitted for C chemistry cell based life. That arguably points to origin in a necessary being with the power, knowledge, skill and intent to create a cosmos. To a cosmic architect who may well use a design that has room in it for chance and choice.

    But, to accept chance, necessity and choice without any necessary locking in of grand metaphysical commitments, is a good and reasonable place to begin. Starting form what is reasonable and simple to see in action, we can then go on step by step to look at scientific evidence of cause at work and thence to worldview alternatives and their rationale.

    I see no sense in embroiling a simple enough empirical pattern in grand controversies that absent allowing evidence to speak on its own terms uncoloured by metaphysics, we will have no hope of resolving.

    Let us accept chance, necessity ans choice as empirical facts, then build on them.

    GEM of TKI

  9. Hi GP:

    Welcome back mon!

    G

  10. 11
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Chance and Necessity was the title of Monod’s book (after translation into English) and it’s a good book. But most people who use the phrase have not read Monod’s book, which is actually mostly about what he calls “teleonomy”.

    Nullasalus: I agree with much of what you say (not surprisingly),particularly this:

    “The problem for me is that I question the very existence of Chance, and I see Necessity as subsumable under Design.”

    I certainly don’t think those three words carve Nature very effectively at its joints.

  11. gpuccio,

    Thanks for the comments. A few quick replies.

    So, when we say that some output can be “caused by chance” (an imperfect way of expressing the point, I agree), what we mean is just: that result is reasonably likely in a system where chance modifications occur that can only be described according to probabilistic distributions.

    Well, first off, I think it depends on who you’re talking to. I don’t think everyone means the same thing when they talk about chance as a cause.

    I understand what both you and Mung mean by stochastic processes and deterministic processes. One problem I have is that a ‘stochastic process’ and a ‘deterministic process’ is an idealization, a model. I can appreciate that within the model there may be a variety of variables which can be altered and therefore which can change the result of the process. The problem is that an intelligent agent can know, orchestrate, and/or determine these variables and the outcomes of the process.

    I’m not objecting to the mere existence or use of these models or idealizations. They’re pretty useful. But there’s that saying, the map is not the territory.

    That is possible, but very difficult anyway. And it is not what we usually observe. Even if a mind did that, it would be for a purpose.

    My first comment is that difficulty is a relative concept: What’s difficult for us may not be difficult for another mind, even another human mind. In a very short frame of time humanity’s own abilities on this front have taken some drastic leaps forward. On the other hand, we never directly observe ‘this unguided, purposeless, chance event’. We observe events, and (unless we’re the ones guiding or purposing it, or see another doing such) label it. Often, I think, unreflectively.

    I’d agree that a mind which did that would probably be doing so for a purpose, but I think that just leads back to the design issue – purpose is compatible with all of the data. Every single event, no matter how tiny, may be purposeful in principle. Some events absolutely are purposeful. The event with no purpose whatsoever? Interesting metaphysical posit. Not very helpful otherwise.

    Now, if a mind wants to create a random pattern, it will usually use the simplest way to do that: utilize a natural probabilistic system, like tossing a coin, or any other appropriate natural system.

    Again, it would depend on the mind, the purpose, and the intention. To use a theological example: Would an omniscient, omnipotent being flip a coin? Does chance even exist for this being? Not chance as I’ve described it, I’d say.

    Now, chance does exist for us – insofar as ‘chance’ means ‘outcomes we didn’t predict’. Then again, some outcomes one person didn’t foresee were foreseen by another person. That’s not the sort of chance (chance as ignorance) I’m concerned about here – seems non-controversial to me.

  12. 13
    Elizabeth Liddle

    also, Nullasalus:

    I’m entirely comfortable with questioning Darwinism (if that view still has enough content to identify it as a clear position, anyway)

    Me too, and I’d say, most evolutionary biologists. “Darwinism” is no longer a “clear position” – Darwin was a nineteenth century writer whose views started a revolution in thinking, but that thinking has gone hugely beyond his original conception, and many current views exist, most of which incorporate, but are not confined to, Darwin’s concept of natural selection of variation.

    and have a downright dismissive view of both naturalism (if that view… etc) and atheism.

    Ah well, looks like we still have something to talk about then :)

  13. Hi, KF!

    It’s a great pleasure to be with you here. I want to compliment you with all my heart for the wonderful work you are doing.

  14. GP:

    your inputs are always refreshing. In this case you are right to say let us stop loading up on metaphysical commitments.

    Chance, necessity and choice can be defined per empirical and simple model considerations so let us start there without begging big questions.

    G

  15. nullasalus:

    I believe your approach is mainly philosophical. I believe my approach (here) is mainly scientific and empirical.

    You say:

    “One problem I have is that a ‘stochastic process’ and a ‘deterministic process’ is an idealization, a model.”

    That’s not a problem, for me, but a merit. Science in only about models.

    You say:

    “But there’s that saying, the map is not the territory.”

    One of my favourite! The point is, all science (and, I would add, all merely intellectual cognition) is only a map, never the territory.

    But the other important saying is that a map is as good as it is useful to move in the territory…

    You say:

    “On the other hand, we never directly observe ‘this unguided, purposeless, chance event’.”

    This is the important point, and this is where, I believe, you are “scientifically” wrong. The tossing of a coin is, for all scientific purposes, a probabilistic system. I am not interested (and so, I believe, most scientists) in the philosophical (and, I would say, rather odd) possibility that some god wants exactly each event in that way for some hidden purpose. That problem has no interesting consequence for our scientific understanding of reality, at least at its present stage, and so I will not include it in my map, because it is of no help to my moving.

    The point is:

    a) We observe systems whose behaviour we can explain in terms of explicit necessity (we know both the variable and the laws). We call them “deterministic”.

    b) We observe systems whose behaviour we cannot describe in terms of explicit necessity (we don’t know all the laws, or all the variables, or both), but that we can very effectively describe in probabilistic terms (which is useful, and good). We call them “probabilistic”.

    c) We observe systems whose behaviour we cannot explain in neither of those ways, because they exhibit the strange property of creating functional order which neither explicit necessity nor a probabilistic behaviour can ever generate. In all these systems, as far as we can empirically check, the intervention of a conscious intelligent agent is necessary for that to happen. We call these systems “designed”.

  16. kf,

    I think this gets to the heart of the matter in our differing opinions here.

    So, it is reasonable to look at chance phenomena and circumstances as empirical circumstances, and put the onward worldview debates to one side.

    I disagree strongly, because the worldviews in question are of monumental importance. Really, I see them as the reason these debates and discussions exist to begin with in large part. There is rarely ever any “putting the worldview to one side” – what we get instead is “assuming this worldview as given, and proceeding from there”. Considering the worldview is precisely what I question and in large part reject, I’m not interested in just accepting in faint hope that some kind of conversation can be had.

    But, to accept chance, necessity and choice without any necessary locking in of grand metaphysical commitments, is a good and reasonable place to begin.

    Not for someone who believes that the metaphysical commitments are where the real problems lie to begin with. That’s not to say I can’t agree with accepting this or that worldview for the sake of argument, and working from there. On the other hand, if the worldview is what’s viewed as the issue, then that’s where to begin.

    Finally, you say…

    the proper scientific approach at this point is to cut off the deep worldview debates and to work based on the empirical circumstances.

    But I said outright that I really don’t care if my approach is scientific. I’m more than happy with arguments that aren’t labeled ‘scientific’, frankly – and I think ‘science’ is far more narrow in scope anyway. Indeed, I think you’ll find many instances of people, even scientists, who do not ‘put their worldviews aside’ and simply engage the empirical data. Instead what’s done is they christen their worldview as the scientific worldview (or ‘the null hypothesis’), and fight tooth and nail to keep it.

    Either way, no. I see no reason to cut off the worldview debates, and every reason to keep pointing out what I’m pointing out. In a way, you can say I’m in agreement with you – all I’m doing is pointing out where certain supposed ‘scientific’ claims are actually little more than unreflective metaphysics or worldview assumptions, and asking these to no longer be called science. The problem is – as Cornelius Hunter may agree – if you suck the metaphysics out of science, you’re taking Darwinism as many people know it along with it.

    Here’s another way to think about it: Use whatever approach you like. Really, I’ll probably find it interesting in its own terms, perhaps even persuasive. But everything I’ve learned and seen in these discussions over the years indicates that there is tremendous confusion about these ‘worldviews’ and about science itself, so that’s the dead horse I’ll be beating into the ground, to put it bluntly.

    Lastly, I can appreciate not wanting to get bogged down in the philosopher’s morass. Common sentiment, that. At the same time, I can’t accept the common attitude which suggests that philosophy and metaphysics go away if we stop talking about them or paying attention to them. I forget who said it (Mary Midgley, maybe) but there’s a sentiment I like: People who eschew philosophy and metaphysics become enslaved to defunct versions of them.

  17. Me too, and I’d say, most evolutionary biologists.

    I’d say most evolutionary biologists don’t.

    Ah well, looks like we still have something to talk about then

    The approach of “let’s keep talking about this ad nauseum until we agree, and by that I mean until you agree with me” doesn’t do much for me.

  18. nullasalus:

    You say:

    “At the same time, I can’t accept the common attitude which suggests that philosophy and metaphysics go away if we stop talking about them or paying attention to them.”

    I agree. I am very interested in philosophy and metaphysics. But, when I build a scientific map, I stick to a scientific approach. When I build a philosophical map (which I do all the time, but not often here), I have a different approach and different criteria and tools. And, obviosuly, I continuosly try to cennect my maps as well as I can.

    But the point is, scientific maps can and do work well at their level, without having to continuosly refer to philosophical maps. Of course, there are some philosophical choices which are implicit in our approach to science. Some of them, like empiricism, I can well acceppt and agree with. Others, like methodological naturalism, I simply refute.

    But scientific maps can be shared to a great point, even when philosophical maps are different.

  19. Elizabeth:

    What we criticize here is not just Darwin and his personal thought. we criticize neo-darwinism, or the modern synthesis, which is still the main accepted theory in biology. And I believe we also criticize (I certainly do) all forms of neo-neo-darwinism which have been developed to give the false idea that what we observe can be explained out of a design hypothesis.

  20. gpuccio,

    I believe your approach is mainly philosophical. I believe my approach (here) is mainly scientific and empirical.

    Probably. I’m on record as not being very concerned with making only ‘scientific’ arguments, and I think the limits of science are greater than most appreciate.

    That’s not a problem, for me, but a merit. Science in only about models.

    Sure it is. Science is great, even with its limitations. But those limitations mean it’s helpless to resolve a number of disputes or questions, some of them downright important.

    This is the important point, and this is where, I believe, you are “scientifically” wrong. The tossing of a coin is, for all scientific purposes, a probabilistic system. I am not interested (and so, I believe, most scientists) in the philosophical (and, I would say, rather odd) possibility that some god wants exactly each event in that way for some hidden purpose.

    I can appreciate that. Honestly, I can. I’m not trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking with this post, but explain where I’m coming from, and point out what I see as some undeniable and fundamental limits of observation and science.

    Nor do my claims require that (say) the Christian God is orchestrating all events. Maybe there’s multiple minds at work. Maybe there’s only one mind, but it’s non-omniscient and non-omnipotent, but very intelligent and intervening here and there. And science becomes stuck when determining which, if any, of these possibilities are the case – including the ‘no mind’ one, which has the least going for it of all the possibilities.

    You say you’re interested in science, not philosophy. Fair. But if I’m interested in philosophy or theology or metaphysics rather than science, well…

    Again: I’m not objecting to models of deterministic or stochastic processes. Whatever it takes to build me a better toaster cheaper, frankly. I’ll be content with realizing what qualifications come with those models, the limitations of them, and what science can (and cannot) tell us. I defined what I meant by ‘chance’ in the post, and made it clear that this wasn’t a dispute with pragmatic models. I also explained why I thought it was odd to contrast ‘necessity’/'law’ with ‘design’.

    We may not disagree on much here, ultimately. If you want to make a scientific argument, go right ahead. I’m just focusing on the limits of science, and how certain claims are more a case of worldview smuggling than anything else.

  21. The first order of business is to realize that we live in a rational universe, which means, among other things, that a philosophical truth cannot negate of even conflict with a scientific truth. In that context, good philosophy is nothing more than amplified reason and common sense. If we do it right, it will illuminate our science.

    So, let’s begin with common sense. Chance, as such, cannot cause anything because chance cannot do anything. Insofar as ID scientists imply that it does, they are mistakenly using a kind of linguistic shorthand that should be immediately followed by some kind of caveat. Physical events are normally caused by other physical events, often by a multiplicity of physical events, and it is there that we find the problem.

    When I throw a pair of dice, for example, the outcome is determined by a number of physical factors, none of which have anything at all to do with chance. On the other hand, if the dice are fair, any number from two to twelve will have an equal chance of coming up. In that sense, chance is simply a way of describing the unpredictable nature of the outcome. To say that something happened by chance is simply to say that a number of physical events, or perhaps a physical process, generates a range of possible outcomes, all of which have an equal chance of occurring.

  22. as to this comment:

    ‘The problem for me is that I question the very existence of Chance,’

    Yes indeed chance in the pure sense is an illusion,,,,It is interesting to note where ‘chance’ crops up;

    One place where ‘chance’ crops up in reality is in wave function collapse of quantum mechanics, the other place is in thermodynamics. But alas neither of these are really ‘chance’, in the pure sense of the word, for they are ‘governed’ by overriding mathematical equations; Schrodinger and Boltzmann equations respectfully:

    The Five Foundational Equations of the Universe:
    https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AYmaSrBPNEmGZGM4ejY3d3pfNDdnc3E4bmhkZg&hl=en

    ,,, so how can ‘governed chance’ really be ‘random chance’ at all, as the naturalist/atheist requires it to be in his worldview???

    Moreover, requiring ‘chance’ to be foundational to reality, as a staring presupposition in science as atheists continually try to ‘smuggle’ into science (i.e. methodological naturalism), destroys the very possibility of doing science rationally; and Though it can seriously be considered true that reality itself could not exist without God, if we were to grant true ‘random chance’ its foundational role to ‘ultimate reality’, as atheists would love for us to do, reality itself would dissolve into absurdity:

    What Would The World Look Like If Atheism Were Actually True?
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5486757/

  23. To say that something happened by chance is simply to say that a number of physical events, or perhaps a physical process, generates a range of possible outcomes, all of which have an equal chance of occurring.

    I have a die in my hand. If I were to ask God ‘So, what number will come up when I roll?’ would God’s reply be, “I’m not sure. They all have an equal chance of occurring, after all.”?

    You don’t even need to bring in God. I’d say it’s at least possible, certainly as far as we know, for some sufficiently intelligent, informed and/or powerful being to know or even determine what number will come up.

    This is ‘map and territory’ stuff. The idealization, the model, is ‘all the possible outcomes have an equal chance of occurring’. And that model has application in a number of ways. But the model is not reality itself.

  24. GP:

    A coin, ideally, is a two-sided die.

    I gather one can get 100 siders, but 2 x 10-siders [different colours] work better.

    G

  25. Null (et al):

    You have inadvertently shown us how we so easily lock-up into a philosophical log jam.

    We need a different way.

    Let us remember, science has to work with people of diverse worldviews — BTW, this is one of the problems with evo mat, it is violating that informal standard of science.

    It can do so by focussing on objective observable realities, insofar as we can agree that we will trust our senses and extensions thereof and in some sense, our minds, not to systematically deceive us. Down that alternative track lies a morass of absurdities and no possibility of progress.

    So, science sets out to provide useful maps of reality, that hopefully capture enough to guide us successfully, and are open to correction.

    In that light:

    1: Mechanical necessity as causal pattern is modelled on a paradigm, as it turns out the founding paradigm of modern science, Newtonian dynamics.

    2: Initial conditions, causal patterns, playout as time unfolds per deterministic mechanical laws.

    3: When we do experiments we find scatter, some of which cannot be traced to merely uncontrolled variables, so we see chance circumstances and influences leading to statistical scatter of outcomes as observed.

    4: The observations of astronomical values is a particularly important case. Bearing in mind bias and drift, so is surveying, e.g the survey that gave the original definition of the metre. That kind of uncontrolled variable tends to give biases, as do personal equations that actually led to quarrels among astronomers at one point. Context of Gauss’ error curve.

    5: WITHOUT COMMITMENT TO ONE WORLDVIEW OVER ANOTHER, we can treat paradigm cases, such as the tossing of a die. Random variable models matched to empirical observations give us an operational framework for conceiving of chance.

    6: Given 1 and 2, with nonlinear dynamics that amplify small changes, we can account for the die, i.e. small uncontrolled variations, indeed beyond our control, have significant influences as uncorrelated chains of cause-effect clash.

    7: The brute given of that variability beyond our effective control, and the related concept of a random initial point in a space of initial configs, allows us to see chance as a factor in the causal chain without making grand metaphysical commitments.

    8: This view applies to a great many things, the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution, diffusion temperature, pressure, or even how a random scatter of paint drops gives an even coat effect, are all cases.

    9: We may also look at the random variable statistical component in quantum effects like radioactive decay.

    10: So, we have a reason to discuss chance as a causal factor, and a framework for modelling it.

    11: the debates over God and foreknowledge or determinism are irrelevant, indeed since God presumably is present everywhere and every-when and is capable of interacting at any point in light of that, God’s knowledge of the state of the atoms about to decay in a sample have no decisive bearing on their behaviour.

    12: It is not a denigration of his sovereignty to say that the gave atoms the degrees of freedom they seem to have, no more than that he gave us the degree of freedom we seem to have — and must have if we are to be responsible thinkers, know-ers and deciders.

    13: But also, on observing signs of necessity, chance and choice, which can be empirically tested, we can then credibly identify causal factor, in the immediate sense per aspect of a phenomenon, and reasonably discuss.

    14: And, we can then infer from say DNA to design of life, and beginning and fine tuning of cosmos to design. ON AN EMPIRICAL BASIS, THROUGH SCIENTIFIC METHODS.

    15: Providing EVIDENCE that — without begging questions — supports the credibility of believing in the design of cosmos and life.

    GEM of TKI

  26. KF:

    Very well said.

  27. Nullasallus, quoting something I’d not have seen, or bothered myself with, otherwise:… To say that something happened by chance is simply to say that a number of physical events, or perhaps a physical process, generates a range of possible outcomes, all of which have an equal chance of occurring.

    This person appears to be conflating ignorance about a statistical probability — ignorance about the outcomes or potential outcomes of a set of proposed events — for the causation of a specific event.

    When a die is cast, there is one, and only one, possible result. That result will be visible when the die stops moving; but someone who could take the appropriate measurements at the instant it is cast, and make the appropriate calculations, would know the physically inevitable result at that instant, before it stops moving.

  28. Chance‘ does not cause anything; at most, ‘chance‘ is a statement/confession of ignorance about the full causal-web of something.

    The things which have causal power in this world are those which can be classed as ‘physical/mechanical necessity’ and those which can be classed as ‘agent freedom’.

    The materialists deny that there is any ‘agent freedom’. Since there obviously is, they try to ascribe causal power to ‘chance,’ and then to subsume ‘agent freedom’ under ‘chance’ — and most IDists are content to go along with that absurd and dishonest game.

  29. The approach of “let’s keep talking about this ad nause[a]m until we agree, and by that I mean until you agree with me” doesn’t do much for me.

    Indeed! The passive-aggressive version of intellectual dishonesty is still intellectual dishonesty.

  30. Ilion:

    ‘Chance‘ does not cause anything; at most, ‘chance‘ is a statement/confession of ignorance about the full causal-web of something.

    You are obviously correct in that, but again I believe that the point is different. When we ask if a random system can generate some form of information, we are not saying that chance “causes” anything.

    What we are saying is: can a random system, where the output of each single event is certainly deterministic, but the sequence of outputs obeys a probabilistic distribution, generate a sequence of outputs which describes the sequence of a functional protein?

    That question is correct. If we toss a twenty sider die (thak you KF for the idea), and give to each side the value of an aminoacid, how likely is it that a sequence of tosses gives me the sequence of myoglobin?

    These are correct questions to which we can give correct answers by probability theory. Nowhere we are saying that chance has to cause the sequence of myoglobin. We just ask if that sequence can come out as an output of random events in a random system.

  31. —Ilion: “Nullasallus, quoting something I’d not have seen, or bothered myself with, otherwise:”

    If you would not otherwise bother yourself, then why bother yourself at all?

    —”This person appears to be conflating ignorance about a statistical probability — ignorance about the outcomes or potential outcomes of a set of proposed events — for the causation of a specific event.”

    Inasmuch as I introduced the distinction between the two, the same distinction which you failed to recognize until prompted to do so, I could hardly have confused them.

  32. nullasalus:

    I see evolution as yet another instance of design rather than something which runs in opposition to it – a view which I know some ID proponents share, but certainly not all.

    It probably depends on how you define evolution, whether it is seen as a creative force or a stabilizing force.

    For what I think is a prime example of a design which employs evolution I say look at the immune system.

  33. ‘Chance’ and ‘Time’ are the dear tenets of modern secular science. Given enough chance or time anything can happen…or can it? Both are merely abstractions drawn from observations, categories in which to place things and events, not actual things themselves, and when one places his trust in modern secular concepts of time and chance instead of scripture he may be led to strange conclusions. Here R. C. Sproul (The Holiness of God) addresses the concept of chance as a causal agent, raising questions about the validity of evolutionary reasoning based on such concepts.

    Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology

    I think I need to go back and re-read this to see what he wrote about Time.

  34. —nullasalus: “I have a die in my hand. If I were to ask God ‘So, what number will come up when I roll?’ would God’s reply be, “I’m not sure. They all have an equal chance of occurring, after all.”?”

    No, if seven is going to come up, God will say seven is going to come up. Otherwise, he would not be omniscient. The probability drama consists, among other things, in the fact that no one (except God) knows how fair the dice will be, at which angle the thrower will hold his hand, how much force he uses in the throw, and which corner of the cubes hit the table first. God’s foreknowledge about man’s causal actions does not interfere with the fact that man is a causal agent. God knows if the stock market is going to crash. That doesn’t mean that he caused it to happen.

  35. hi nullasalus,

    I apologize for the brevity of my initial post. I think it was after my bed time.

    I have a die in my hand. If I were to ask God ‘So, what number will come up when I roll?’ would God’s reply be, “I’m not sure. They all have an equal chance of occurring, after all.”?

    I, on the other hand, would be inclined to ask God what number will come up if I don’t toss the die.

  36. That was a good post, nullasalus. I have posted some comments on it at my blog.

    On the flipside, I don’t think ID (or for that matter, no-ID) is science, even if I reason that if no-ID is science then so is ID.

    I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t claim that “no-ID” is science. I don’t even claim that there couldn’t be a science of ID. I only claim that, in its present form, ID is not science. It is philosophy, and I have no problems with people discussing it as philosophy.

  37. gpuccio @32:You are obviously correct in that, but again I believe that the point is different. When we ask if a random system can generate some form of information, we are not saying that chance “causes” anything. …

    There is no such thing as a “random system.”

    To speak of “randomness” with respect to something is precisely to speak of a lack of correlation between and among the things one is discussing.

  38. … the same distinction which you failed to recognize until prompted to do so …

    Now this person is blatantly lying.

  39. Nullasalus @4:… I’d agree. “Chance as cause” is an error that pops up repeatedly. Maybe what I’m arguing about here is closer to “chance as description” …

    “Chance as description” is a statement about our ignorance, it is not a statement about the thing “described” (and thus, the cannot actually be descriptive).

  40. “(and thus, the [statement] cannot actually be descriptive)”

  41. 43
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Nullasalus:

    The approach of “let’s keep talking about this ad nauseum until we agree, and by that I mean until you agree with me” doesn’t do much for me.

    Nor me. Fortunately it isn’t my approach :)

  42. 44
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Ilion:

    “Chance as description” is a statement about our ignorance, it is not a statement about the thing “described” (and thus, the cannot actually be descriptive).

    Yes. One definition of Chance factors I quite like is “unmodeled factors”.

    Statistically, that’s essentially what it is – your residuals.

  43. 45
    Elizabeth Liddle

    ilion:

    There is no such thing as a “random system.”

    To speak of “randomness” with respect to something is precisely to speak of a lack of correlation between and among the things one is discussing.

    There are however such things as stochastic systems.

  44. The phrase “stochastic system” is just another way of saying “random system” … thus, it is just another way of saying “here is a non-system which I am going to pretend is a system”.

  45. Ilion:

    When a die is cast, there is one, and only one, possible result. That result will be visible when the die stops moving; but someone who could take the appropriate measurements at the instant it is cast, and make the appropriate calculations, would know the physically inevitable result at that instant [--> the problem with sensitive dependence on conditions in this case is this criterion cannot be met in a scientific context, think about how iterations of operations in algorithms through amplified rounding errors can make nonsense of a calculation that is algebraically correct] , before it stops moving.

    In short I am saying that your statement is a metaphysical one not a scientific one.

    I actually just bought a large rubber die: I can watch it tumble slow motion on edges and corners, and see how it is reacting to how the edges and corners act.

    It is confirming to me the issue that the way edges and corners interact with surfaces is uncontrollable in the fine and that fine difference is enough to make large differences in outcome. Butterfly effect and all that.

    metaphysically, one can set up a state space expression based on differential equations and provide models of the behaviour of the die. What the models will tell you is that nonlinear, error amplification is at work. Butterfly effect and unpredictability beyond a statistical distribution.

    Now, consider a warm little pond with life-relevant monomers, interacting through thermal motion, with 10^16 or so molecules in play, moving at reasonable speeds and undergoing not only translation but rotation and vibration, uncorrelated at the different bonds. Now let them jostle and when appropriate energy is favourable, a bond can form, or break. Where q-effects are relevant there is also the possibility of tunnelling through potential barriers, not just classical surmounting.

    Again, the processes are sensitively and non linearly dependent, and are uncontrollable by us. We can only act in the mass, not in the fine. (That’s why BTW in my thot expt on microjets I stopped at micron level particles, as we can hope to manipulate with nanobots at that level. We are talking nanometer range objects here.)

    It is reasonable to assess on statistical assemblies, based on appropriate mass and energy distribution statistics, and chemical kinetics that work from averaging concepts like concentration and reaction coefficients, to predict equilibrium concentrations. That’s what physical chemists do, based on thermodynamics principles, and you can see a fine example in TBO’s TMLO chs 7 – 8.

    In this situation it is reasonable to say that chance plays a causal role, as described.

    And BTW, knowing the reaction possibilities, energy balances [enthalpies of formation of the molecules are rather adverse, they tend to break down not form spontaneously; note how the cell goes out of the way to assemble these molecules and uses energy battery molecules to drive the process] and the like, we see why it is so maximally unlikely that biologically relevant molecules would spontaneously form and assemble in functional configs to make up a primitive cell.

    GEM of TKI

  46. meant 10^26 or so

  47. Yes, I know KF; your constant response on this issue is to *ignore* what I have said, and write a great mass of verbiage having little, if anything, to do with what I have said, and thereby protect you false beliefs from rational evaluation.

    It is not *only* ‘atheists’ and Darwinists (and “liberals” and Marxists and Freudians) who do this; howevermuch that it is SOP for them.

  48. —Ilion: (referring to me) “Now this person is blatantly lying.

    @2 and @4, Ilion made the point that chance, as such, cannot cause anything. A point with which I agree, but one which requires more nuance.

    @23 I introduced the idea that chance is not a cause, as such, but it refers to a description of ranges of possibilities.

    So I am not lying when I point out that he made no such distinction until I raised it. If anyone can find a reference in his two posts @2 or 4 about ranges of possibilities or statistical probabilities or ignorance of proposed outcomes, let me know and I will retract my statement. That will not be necessary, however, because the references are not there.

  49. KF, it would be one thing if you ever addressed what I say about the logical impossibility of ‘chance’ or ‘randomness’ being a causal factor of any event. But, you never do that.

  50. ‘Chance’ is not descriptive of “ranges of statistical possibilities;” ‘chance’ is descriptive of a range of ignorance or the pertinent causal factors.

  51. StephenB:

    So I am not lying when I point out that he made no such distinction until I raised it.

    “… the same distinction which you failed to recognize until prompted to do so …”

  52. Sigh:

    Molecular orbitals, an example of what I am discussing:

    In chemistry, a molecular orbital (or MO) is a mathematical function describing the wave-like behavior of an electron in a molecule. This function can be used to calculate chemical and physical properties such as the probability of finding an electron in any specific region. The term “orbital” was first used in English by Robert S. Mulliken as the English translation of Schrödinger’s ‘Eigenfunktion’. It has since been equated with the “region” generated with the function. Molecular orbitals are usually constructed by combining atomic orbitals or hybrid orbitals from each atom of the molecule, or other molecular orbitals from groups of atoms. They can be quantitatively calculated using the Hartree-Fock or Self-Consistent Field (SCF) methods . . . . Molecular orbitals (MOs) represent regions in a molecule where an electron is likely to be found. Molecular orbitals are obtained from the combination of atomic orbitals, which predict the location of an electron in an atom. A molecular orbital can specify the electron configuration of a molecule: the spatial distribution and energy of one (or one pair of) electron(s).

    This wavicle and probability distribution phenomenon is of course directly related to the shapes and behaviour of molecules.

    GEM of TKI

  53. Some scattered comments.

    StephenB,

    No, if seven is going to come up, God will say seven is going to come up. Otherwise, he would not be omniscient. The probability drama consists, among other things, in the fact that no one (except God) knows how fair the dice will be, at which angle the thrower will hold his hand, how much force he uses in the throw, and which corner of the cubes hit the table first. God’s foreknowledge about man’s causal actions does not interfere with the fact that man is a causal agent. God knows if the stock market is going to crash. That doesn’t mean that he caused it to happen.

    Well, no one except God and whoever else may know. ‘No one except those who know’, really. I’m trying to recognize the possibilities here as being as broad as possible – call it some ID inspired neutrality.

    But still, you get my point. Remember, this is what I’m targeting in my definition of ‘chance’: Events and outcomes entirely unforeseen, undirected and unintended by any mind. I actually think that’s pretty straightforward, but let’s note what this definition is not identical to: The claim that outcomes were, largely or in part, the result of natural or material forces. It’s entirely possible for intelligent agents to foresee, intend, and orchestrate these outcomes, whether via direct intervention or well in advance (“front-loading”). Let God have intended or caused the result, or not intended or caused the result. Let the knower be God, gods, some supremely advanced technological being(s), or anything else. The possibilities don’t stand open for investigation by science – including the possibility of ‘there are no knowers’.

    I think this is a modest, easily defensible position to take. At the same time, to take it would wreak havoc on some positions many ID critics would oppose anyway.

    Ilion,

    “Chance as description” is a statement about our ignorance, it is not a statement about the thing “described” (and thus, the cannot actually be descriptive).

    I agree completely with this, at least ultimately. Or at least, this is the strongest sense of ‘chance’ that science can rightly talk about.

    kf,

    You have inadvertently shown us how we so easily lock-up into a philosophical log jam.

    Respectfully, man, I’ve been watching the ID debates for years now. By eschewing philosophy for ‘science’, you haven’t avoided a log-jam – you’ve just picked another log-jam. I’ve seen as much play out with my own eyes, repeatedly. And if you’re doing it at the cost of letting your critics get away with passing off their metaphysics as science, all I’ll say is this: You’ve made a rotten deal, and should reconsider it.

    I mean, you’re basically telling me ‘philosophy will lead to endless arguments – but SCIENCE is all about purely objective measures that everyone can agree to’. That long string of time where everyone is disagreeing with you – and the fact that scientists regularly and loudly disagree with each other on a variety of topics – should really give you pause. That many of your scientific opponents are seemingly more concerned with metaphysics, philosophy and the smuggling of those two things, should seal the deal.

    That’s not to say I don’t think there are empirical reasons to believe in design. There are, and persuasive ones at that. I alluded to some in my own post. I may not consider them scientific, but empirical or at least empirically based, they remain.

  54. ‘chance’ is descriptive of a range of ignorance or the pertinent causal factors.

    Measurable by Shannon ignorance?

  55. Measurable by Shannon ignorance?

    *grin*

  56. 58
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Ilion:

    The phrase “stochastic system” is just another way of saying “random system” … thus, it is just another way of saying “here is a non-system which I am going to pretend is a system”.

    Well, not really. At least, the distinction I meant to make was that many systems are highly predictable statistically (we know what the half life of various radioactive elements are, with a high degree of precision) but the events that form the system are random in the sense that you can only predict, statistically, summed over a period of time or space, not what is going to happen at any given instant, or place. So what I mean by a “stochastic system” is one that incorporates stochastic processes, such as radioactive decay.

    To take a more pertinent examples – we can tell, statistically, that a mutation is beneficial in a given environment, by summing over a whole population, but we cannot tell by looking at an individual, because many factors, orthogonal to the phenotypic effects of the mutation, may affect the reproductive success of the individual.

    More formally, we can construct stochastic differential equations to model such systems.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....l_equation

  57. Stephen Meyer:

    “When scientists say that something happened by chance, they do not usually mean to deny that “something” caused the event…..Instead, they usually mean that the event in question occurred because of a combination of factors so complex that it would have been impossible to determine the exact ones responsible for what happened or to have predicted it.”

    “But there is usually more to the notion of chance than that. When scientists attribute an event to chance, they also mean there is no good reason to think the event happened either by design or because of a known physical process that must, of necessity, generate only one possible outcome.”

  58. Necessity and Design

    Hi nullasalus.

    I haven’t really been able to tease out what you point is on this one.

    ok, sure, design can’t take place without necessity. But design also cannot take place without contingency.

    And sure, some necessary outcome can itself be the product of intelligent design. We’d look at how complex the process is in bringing about the outcome.

    But I don’t understand why necessity is any sort of a problem for the ID argument.

    We have certain available explanations for a pattern. A pattern which exhibits regularity we’re inclined to attribute to some natural law or force, not to the activity of an intelligence (as the cause).

    As you know I’m one of those who says it’s all designed. But I think what ID has to start with is human behavior, human design, human designers, intelligent causes.

    Is there something that intelligent causes bring to the table that cannot be caused by mechanical necessity?

    Can you help explain the difficulty for design, as you see it?

    Thanks

  59. —nullasalus: “But still, you get my point.”

    Yes, I think I do. We can’t afford to establish a non-overlapping magisterial demarcation between philosophy and science as if to ignore the fact that truth must be a single unity. I take that to be your point and I agree. That is why, unlike some who might want to limit the discussion to scientific models, I think the big picture matters big time.

  60. Mung @ 53,
    The dishonest, and petty, person appears to be faulting me for two things:
    1) failing to say *everything* that might be said about ‘randomness’;
    2) failing to say-and-endorse a false statement about ‘randomness’ before he did so;

    Sure, I can see why such a person might imagine and crow that he has pwned me.

  61. “failing to say *everything* that might be said about ‘randomness’” … regardless that my purpose was to say something specific about (the false) claims advanced about the causal powers of ‘randomness.’

  62. StephenB,

    Instead, they usually mean that the event in question occurred because of a combination of factors so complex that it would have been impossible to determine the exact ones responsible for what happened or to have predicted it.

    That would back up Ilion’s claim that ‘chance’ is a statement of ignorance. The fact that ‘or to have predicted it’ is in there would tend to back up my claim as well: How do they know who could or could not have predicted those outcomes? How do they know what was or wasn’t foreseen? A guess, a hunch or a metaphysical speculation does not become something more than a guess, hunch or metaphysical speculation merely because a scientist is doing it.

    When scientists attribute an event to chance, they also mean there is no good reason to think the event happened either by design

    And what are their standards for determining design? It had better not be “Well, because it was a result of evolution / natural processes.” Remember, we’ve seen plenty of cases of scientists saying ‘God wouldn’t have done it that way’ or ‘This caused harm, therefore it could not have been designed or foreseen’.

    The same question goes for the reverse. What does an undesigned event look like? As far as science goes, the only data we have access to are designed events. Undesigned? Those are pure speculation. There may well be no such things in our universe.

  63. –Nullasalus: “Remember, this is what I’m targeting in my definition of ‘chance’: Events and outcomes entirely unforeseen, undirected and unintended by any mind.”

    Do you mean undirected, unintended, and entirely unforeseen by any mind, including the Divine mind? For my part, I could agree that the Divine mind did not direct or intend a throw of the dice, but I could not subscribe to the proposition that He did not foresee the result even before it happened. For a Christian philosopher, it seems to me the God’s omniscience should be a non-negotiable starting point.

  64. Elizabeth, you’re really confusing me.

    Ilion: There is no such thing as a “random system.”

    Elizabeth: There are however such things as stochastic systems.

    Ilion: The phrase “stochastic system” is just another way of saying “random system” … thus, it is just another way of saying “here is a non-system which I am going to pretend is a system”.

    [The following is my own characterization of what I think was said.]

    Elizabeth: But I mean by a stochastic system one that can be modeled by a stochastic differential equation. [As if that's unlike a random system, I guess.]

    A stochastic differential equation (SDE) is a differential equation in which one or more of the terms is a stochastic process, thus resulting in a solution which is itself a stochastic process.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....l_equation

    In probability theory, a stochastic process, or sometimes random process, is the counterpart to a deterministic process (or deterministic system). Instead of dealing with only one possible reality of how the process might evolve under time (as is the case, for example, for solutions of an ordinary differential equation), in a stochastic or random process there is some indeterminacy in its future evolution described by probability distributions.

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

    Elizabeth, are you disagreeing with Ilion by agreeing with him, or are you agreeing with by disagreeing with him?

    I’m confused.

    Ok, I think it’s time for me to go over to the other thread where we are dismantling Ilion’s house looking for the information in it, or trying to figure out where the information went after it [his house] loses it’s form. FUN!

  65. Mung,

    But I don’t understand why necessity is any sort of a problem for the ID argument.

    I think I made a mistake in titling my post. It’s accurate insofar as I reject the ‘chance, necessity or design’ trichotomy, but it’s inaccurate in that it suggests I’m taking aim at ID arguments here, or saying ID arguments don’t work. That’s not really my goal.

    My point was simply that ‘necessity’ doesn’t seem to be in the running against ‘design’ – it’s another form of it. I suppose the only ‘difficulty for design’ here is that someone who compares design and necessity is in my view making a mistake – not because their design claims are undermined, but because they’re not filing as much as they ought to under ‘design’ or ‘possibly designed’.

    StephenB,

    Yes, I think I do. We can’t afford to establish a non-overlapping magisterial demarcation between philosophy and science as if to ignore the fact that truth must be a single unity. I take that to be your point and I agree. That is why, unlike some who might want to limit the discussion to scientific models, I think the big picture matters big time.

    That’s one way of putting it. Mostly, I’m pointing out where I think a lot of metaphysical and philosophical smuggling is going on (with the results being passed off as ‘science’) and saying, no, let’s put an end to this and recognize it for what it is. Scientists have no way to determine various things – the ultimate nature of physical laws, for one – and whether or not what we see in nature is or is not designed or chance (as I have defined it) is part of that list.

  66. StephenB,

    Do you mean undirected, unintended, and entirely unforeseen by any mind, including the Divine mind? For my part, I could agree that the Divine mind did not direct or intend a throw of the dice, but I could not subscribe to the proposition that He did not foresee the result even before it happened. For a Christian philosopher, it seems to me the God’s omniscience should be a non-negotiable starting point.

    I’d agree with you about the non-negotiable. And that definition of ‘chance’ is full stop: No one means no one, not God or anyone else. My reply is that science is incapable of making that determination for God, gods, others, or nobody. As I’ve said before, for all science can tell us, ‘chance’ in the sense I’ve defined it may not exist in our universe.

  67. Mung @ 60:ok, sure, design can’t take place without necessity. But design also cannot take place without contingency. … Is there something that intelligent causes bring to the table that cannot be caused by mechanical necessity?

    Contingency; freedom.

    If atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, then the *only* causal factor that can possibly exist is ‘mechanical necessity.’ Thus, if his worldview committments were actually true, then Gould was spouting non-sense when he said, paraphrasing: “if the tape [history of "life"] could be replayed, the end-result would be entirely different.

    If atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, then *everything* is the result of the inevitable working-out of the “initial conditions,” which are limited to the matter which existed and the “rules” of interplay between particles of matter — just as the end-result of any specific execution of a computer program is the inevitable working-out of its operations upon some specific set of data.

    ‘Mechanical necessity’ is the only item in the atheistic/materialistic explanatory toolkit. But, it’s clearly not adequate to explain all things, so they reach for ‘randomness,’ imagining that they can explain all else by positing “random causes.”

    As Nullasalus says in post #55 “By eschewing philosophy for ‘science’, you haven’t avoided a log-jam – you’ve just picked another log-jam. … And if you’re doing it at the cost of letting your critics get away with passing off their metaphysics as science, all I’ll say is this: You’ve made a rotten deal, and should reconsider it.

    Mung @ 60:But I don’t understand why necessity is any sort of a problem for the ID argument.

    Where did you get that? I don’t recall Nullasalus saying anything that ought to be understood that way.

  68. [So I am not lying when I point out that he made no such distinction until I raised it.]

    —Mung:“… the same distinction which you failed to recognize until prompted to do so.

    I made the distinction for the first time. I could hardly have failed to recognize that which I initiated. Get over it.

  69. 71
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Sorry, Mung, I agree I was confusing (I guess I may have misunderstood Ilion too).

    What I meant was that I think that positing “Chance” as a “cause” of something is meaningless. I would agree that in that case, all we mean by Chance is causes we don’t actually know about. For instance, we might say that I was knocked over by a bus by Chance. That really just means that there were lots and lots of unknown factors that together caused me to be knocked over by a bus. Or we might say that i was knocked over by a bus because someone pushed me. In that case we might say that the cause was the enactment of Newton’s laws of motion, in other words “Necessity”. Or we might even invoke Design – I was pushed by someone who intended me harm.

    Both those explanation (Necessity and Design) are real explanations. Chance, however, is not – it’s just the statement that there were lots of causes, we just don’t know what they were.

    So in that sense I (think I) agree with Ilion.

    Chance, or “random” often simply means “unmodeled”. So we have randomly distributed residuals when we fit a statistical model to data, model, representing unmodeled causal factors.

    However, the word “stochastic”, although sometimes used interchangeably with “random” usually denotes causal factors that are reliably drawn from a known probability distribution, and therefore can be predicted with high precision in bulk, if not with high precision with regard to individual events. The poster child would be radioactive decay, or, indeed, any quantum effect. But we can also use it to describe systems that are highly predictable at, say population level, but almost completely unpredictable at individual level. Mutations rates might be an example, or differential reproduction (aka natural selection).

    These are stochastic systems, I would say, and one tool for modeling them is stochastic differential mutations.

    Or simple statistical tests, for that matter.

  70. Null:

    The definition you use is unfortunately philosophically loaded.

    I think even so humble a source as wiki on chance does a better job:

    The word chance in philosophy means a complex of causes that produces an indeterministic process with indeterministic effects, therefore not-necessary, not-deterministic. The ancient concept of chance as not existences of causes is nowadays obsolete and yet not able to be proposed. In the 20th century subatomic physics, cosmology and biology studied and pointed out many case of indeterministic process concerning the birth of universe, its phenomenology, subatomic particles behaviour, genetic mutation and so on . . .

    Wiki on randomness is also closely related:

    The fields of mathematics, probability, and statistics use formal definitions of randomness. In mathematics, a random variable is a way to assign a value to each possible outcome of an event. In probability and statistics, a random process is a repeating process whose outcomes follow no describable deterministic pattern, but follow a probability distribution, such that the relative probability of the occurrence of each outcome can be approximated or calculated. For example, the rolling of a fair six-sided die in neutral conditions may be said to produce random results, because one cannot know, before a roll, what number will show up. However, the probability of rolling any one of the six rollable numbers can be calculated.

    Stochastically dominated contingency linked to explanatory random variable models and/or clashing uncorrelated chains of circumstances that amplify uncontrollably small variability in underlying processes, and playing a role in the dynamics of a relevant process or phenomenon seems to best capture what I am discussing, which is freighted with issues tied to kinetic theory, statistical mechanics, chemical reaction kinetics, diffusion, properties of semiconductor devices and junctions, thermally linked behaviour, etc. Including the roots of the classic normal distribution of errors of observation, etc.

    That approach is not loaded with questions of what we may know, what God may know etc.

    GEM of TKI

  71. PS: With this in mind, the view that we can see processes as tracing to mechanical necessity yielding low contingency or reliable natural regularities under given circumstances, contrasting with highly contingent outcomes is reasonable.

    Such highly contingent outcomes in turn trace reliably to choice and/or chance; each of which has charactersitic signs, e.g. we may discern the difference because designers routinely create events E from narrow and unrepresentative zones T in very large configuration spaces of possibilities W.

    Such are the circumstances that once we have FSCI to deal with, a search process on the gamut of the solar system or the observable cosmos is maximally unlikely to hit on T in W.

    Imagine a 128-side fair die, with the ascii characters on it.

    Would transforming he cosmos into such dice and tables, then tossing them repeatedly a number of times equal to the length of this post, for 13.7 BY be more than negligibly different from zero likelihood, to hit on a string like this post?

    And yet, in a few moments, I have typed this out, using the power of intelligent choice to direct my fingers to play across a keyboard then hit send.

    Thus it is indeed reasonable to reflect on the difference between necessity, chance and choice in causal processes, and to study empirically testable and indeed reliable distinguishing signs.

    Which is thus clearly reasonable as a scientific project; one that has not been without some measure of success, albeit there is plainly also some degree of philosophically and ideologically tinged controversy.

  72. —nullasalus: “As I’ve said before, for all science can tell us, ‘chance’ in the sense I’ve defined it may not exist in our universe.”

    Let’s stretch out just a bit on that one. Again from Meyer: (Keep in mind his context which, this time, is “chance as negation.)”

    “Imagine that a statistitian is trying to determine whether a coin is fair by observing the distribution of heads and tails that result from flipping it. The ‘chance’ hypothesis in this case is that the coin is fair. The alternative hypothesis is that the coin is biased. If the distribution of heads and tails comes up roughly even, the statistition will conclude that the coin is fair and elect the ‘chance hypothesis.’ In saying this, the statistician is not saying that ‘chance’ caused the 50-50 distribution or even that she knows what caused any particular outcome. Instead, the affirmation of the chance hypothesis mainly serves to negate the alternative hypothesis of bias (in this case, in this case a loaded coin produced by design). The essentially negative character of the chance hypothesis is suggested by its other common name, the “null” hypothesis (i.e. the hypothesis to be nullified or refuted by alternative hypotheses of design or law-like necessity).”

    Such negationss, implicit or explicit, are part of what give substantive chance hypotheses content. To say that the roulette ball fell in the red 16 pocket by chance is also to say tha the ball was NOT placed there intentionally and that there was nothing about the construction of the roulette wheel that forced the ball to land in the red 16 of NECESSITY.

    …”Vacuous appeals to chance neither affirm a cause nor negate one. But substantive appeals to chance specify the operation of a relevant outcome-producing process, and they also implicitly or explicity negate (or nullify) other possible types of hypotheses.”

    What do you think?

  73. kf,

    The definition you use is unfortunately philosophically loaded.

    Of course it is! It’s why I’m taking aim at it.

    News has conveniently provided this quote from Monod:

    We call these events [mutations] accidental; we say they are random occurrences. And since they constitute the only possible source of modification in the genetic text, itself the sole repository of the organism’s hereditary structures, it necessarily follows that chance alone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution: this central concept of modern biology is no longer one among other possible or even conceivable hypotheses. It is today the sole conceivable hypothesis, the only one that squares with observed and tested fact. And nothing warrants the supposition – or the hope – that on this score our position is likely ever to be revised

    Funny how Monod is diving for the ‘philosophical log-jam’, ain’t it? Why did Monod make a move like this? Why did he define ‘chance’ this way? Wasn’t he a scientist?

    Why, it’s almost as if science isn’t his real concern here. It’s that damn philosophical bog, the worldview, that he has his eyes on. He wasn’t alone then, and he’s not alone now.

    Philosophy, metaphysics, and worldview were never put aside in favor of science in any major way, kf. They simply get smuggled in for many people who care about these issues. Because, if we separate the science from the philosophy, we’re left with a science that won’t do what many people want it to do.

  74. StephenB,

    To say that the roulette ball fell in the red 16 pocket by chance is also to say tha the ball was NOT placed there intentionally and that there was nothing about the construction of the roulette wheel that forced the ball to land in the red 16 of NECESSITY.

    And I’m saying that, unless that statement is qualified, it goes beyond science. Was the ball landing in 16 not foreseen by any agent, full stop? Not preordained, full stop? Science is infirm to make that determination.

    Now, can science be used to investigate known factors for bias – a slanted roulette table? Analyze a pattern and question whether or not said pattern was unusual according to a given standard? Sure. Can we use science to determine whether a mundane agent – say, the guy at the roulette table – was influencing the outcomes in any way? To a degree, with some imperfections, sure.

    But I’m more than happy to grant those cases, because they don’t affect my point. To talk about chance in the way I have – and in the way Monod did, as quoted – is a whole other matter. And at that point, we’re off and into philosophy land, metaphysics land. Science as science becomes useless there, because science has not, and really cannot, demonstrate the existence of ‘chance’ as defined. It may well not even exist for all we know. And it should not be granted unreflectively, etc.

    Particularly in the case of evolution, a situation where we mundane humans have shown a growing knack for being able to use, exploit, and alter such processes. And that’s just to begin with.

  75. I have further commented on the thought exercise here

  76. Null:

    Remember, my background is physics.

    In physics, a LOT of things are analysed in terms of chance more or less as I have summarised it. Starting with temperature and pressure, diffusion, Brownian motion [which helped establish the reality of atoms, in the hands of Einstein], Black Body radiation, entropy, quantum processes, radioactivity, and more.

    There was and is no inescapable philosophical loading in that approach.

    My 128 side tray of dice example just linked should help clarify.

    The Old One may not play dice, and maybe he does too at molecular level; but we sure do, and it sure is relevant as an alternative view on explaining highly contingent outcomes.

    GEM of TKI

  77. KF @ 73:Imagine a 128-side fair die, with the ascii characters on it.

    KF, there you go again (as a great man once said): quite missing the point.

    It doesn’t matter how many sides you wish to add to that die, and it doesn’t even matter whether it is a fair die.

    Making statements about hypothetical rolls of the die — modeling dice rolls — does not cause the result of any actual roll of the die.

    That the die is rolled is a contingent fact, it is (ultimately, if not immediately) the act of a free agent.

    But the result of the actual die roll is in no wise ‘random,’ it is utterly deterministic; the result is fully determined by the mechanicistic necessity of the working-out of the initial conditions at the instant of the roll.

    The result of this roll of the die, or of that spin of the roulette wheel, at the instant it is rolled or spun, is already fully determined; that we lack the tools and knowledge to compute which of the (formerly) hypothetical results has the probability of 1.0 doesn’t alter the case. Nothing – except an agent interfering with the working-out of this mechanical necessity – can inject any degree of indeterminism into the working-out of those initial conditions to produce exactly the result which was fully determined by the initial conditions.

  78. Ilion:

    I have already pointed out the problem that nonlinear diff eqn systems with amplification of slight differences, will show not determinism but indetrerminism in praxis.

    That is the outcomes will be dominated by uncontrollably small differences in initial conditions, i.e the accident — note here a synonym for chance — of the particular initial conditions not the fact that we have an equation of apparently deterministic form.

    Hence the significance of the butterfly effect.

    BTW, one way to make credibly genuine and flat random random numbers is to use a Zener diode to initialise a pseudo random number generator. The PRBS ckt is deterministic but the variability of initial conditions on quantum driven zener noise, will give a flat random output.

    Wiki:

    In computing, a hardware random number generator is an apparatus that generates random numbers from a physical process. Such devices are often based on microscopic phenomena that generate a low-level, statistically random “noise” signal, such as thermal noise or the photoelectric effect or other quantum phenomena. These processes are, in theory, completely unpredictable, and the theory’s assertions of unpredictability are subject to experimental test. A quantum-based hardware random number generator typically consists of a transducer to convert some aspect of the physical phenomena to an electrical signal, an amplifier and other electronic circuitry to bring the output of the transducer into the macroscopic realm, and some type of analog to digital converter to convert the output into a digital number, often a simple binary digit 0 or 1. By repeatedly sampling the randomly varying signal, a series of random numbers is obtained.

    Hardware random number generators differ from pseudo-random number generators (PRNGs), which are commonly used in software. These PRNGs use a deterministic algorithm to produce numerical sequences. Although these pseudo-random sequences pass statistical pattern tests for randomness, by knowing the algorithm and the conditions used to initialize it, called the “seed”, the output can be predicted. While this can quickly generate large quantities of pseudorandom data, it is vulnerable to cryptanalysis of the algorithm. Cryptographic PRNGs resist determining the seed from their output, but still require a small amount of high-quality random data for the seed. Hardware RNGs can generate the seed, or they may be used directly for the random data to protect against potential vulnerabilities in a PRNG algorithm . . .

    GEM of TKI

  79. PS: Dice, thanks to edges corners etc, are nonlinear dynamical systems of the relevant kind.

  80. PPS: Solutions of relevant molecular species will also normally be stochastically controlled. That is why the ribosome uses a control tape, mRNA, to chain proteins.

  81. PPPS: Show us a way that you can under reasonable conditions force a fair die to produce controlled, predictable outcomes comparable in reliability to dropping the die will, acceleration downward at g.

  82. P4S: Or, more simply, can you ballistically aim and target a die like you aim a rifle?

  83. kf,

    Remember, my background is physics.

    In physics, a LOT of things are analysed in terms of chance more or less as I have summarised it.

    Fantastic. But here’s the thing: I already have defined chance as I intended. Coming up to me and saying ‘But if you change the definition of chance you’re using…’ means ‘But if you talk about something completely other than what you were talking about…’

    You may as well be telling me “But if we define Chance as that card you can pull if you land on the right square in Monopoly…”

    There are reasons I bothered to define what sense of ‘chance’ the way I did at in the OP. First, because there are qualified senses of chance that are non-controversial to me, and which I don’t dispute. Second, because the sense I use ‘chance’ in is relevant and advanced by some people, like Monod, and passed off as a scientific fact rather than the metaphysics, philosophy and base assumption that it is.

    You may want to avoid philosophical log-jams. I respect that. But from my point of view those log-jams are where a lot of the action is, and clearing that up – even so much as pointing out where the philosophy ends and science begins in those contexts – leads to an important payoff. So that’s where I throw my focus at times, without apology.

  84. Why, it’s almost as if science isn’t his real concern here. It’s that damn philosophical bog, the worldview, that he has his eyes on.

    A major assertion of many traditional thinkers about evolution and mutation is that living cells cannot make specific, adaptive use of their natural genetic engineering capacities. They make this assertion to protect their view of evolution as the product of random, undirected genome changes. But their position is philosophical, not scientific, nor is it based on empirical observations.

    – James A. Shapiro

  85. KF @ 80-84,

    My! That answers everything!

    Still, I can’t help but wonder, how do pool-sharks, and ordinary people, for that matter, manage manage to play pool?

  86. KF @ 80:I have already pointed out the problem that nonlinear diff eqn systems with amplification of slight differences, will show not determinism but indetrerminism in praxis.

    No, you are confusing the a map for the territory. You are conflating our ignorance of the complete causal-web of an event, and, more importantly, our inability to fully compute the deterministic result of that not-fully-known causal-web, with indeterminism.

    Unless one is speaking of ‘freedom,’ than any talk of ‘indeterminism’ as having causal ability is just another way to assert that ‘randomness’ causal ability.

  87. Null:

    The problem is there is a well used, fairly standard pattern of use of “chance” etc in the relevant scientific disciplines, that does not require philosophical loading.

    Why then set up in effect a strawman definition?

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Ilion, pool tables are carefully set up indeed to be pretty neatly predictable and controllable to the expert practitioner (within the limits of a typical pool stroke). Dice are just the opposite.

    PPS: Did you notice that with even tack-driving target rifles at long enough ranges, there is normally a certain scatter in the point of impact, reflecting chance circumstances that are uncontrollable, even after major effort to get accuracy?

  88. Ilion:

    if one is in a situation where there is an uncontrollable fine grained variable, contingent pattern in initial conditions that leads to significant scatter in outcomes under relvantly similar starting conditions, is it not reasonable to give a name to the trigger for that outcome, and to recognise it as a relevant cause, whether due to quantum processes or to the sort of thing that happens to a tumbling die?

    So, why not just call it by the conventional name for such, “chance”; recognising it as a relevant causal factor responsible for stochastically distributed contingent outcomes under similar starting conditions?

    GEM of TKI

  89. kf,

    The problem is there is a well used, fairly standard pattern of use of “chance” etc in the relevant scientific disciplines, that does not require philosophical loading.

    And I’ve said, repeatedly, that there are various, qualified understandings of ‘chance’ that I have no dispute with. The philosophically loaded meaning is precisely the one I have my eye on here. “There are other definitions of chance” is not news to me. Nor is “there are better, more practical definitions of chance”.

    Why then set up in effect a strawman definition?

    It’s not a strawman. It’s a definition actually used by some people, a definition that some people offer up as scientific. I’ve quoted Monod – I can quote Michael Ruse to the same effect. And I could pull in more examples if need be.

    Now, it’s a definition of chance that you prefer to eschew, and it deals with questions that you don’t want to engage. I keep saying, I respect that. But I’m not going to budge and talk about a different definition of chance simply because you or anyone else want to avoid philosophy. Definitely not when I think philosophy and metaphysics is rarely avoided or pushed aside, as opposed to assumed (often without warrant) or smuggled in as a scientific claim.

    I’ll make you a deal: I won’t try to make you talk about philosophy when you’re talking about science, if you won’t try to make me talk about science when I’m talking about philosophy.

    (I’m reminded of a conversation with a friend a couple months back, when I mentioned how much I enjoyed some cheap home-fermented wine. They complained that what I was making was mere hooch, and recommended me a 50 dollar bottle of wine.

    ‘But I like hooch, and I don’t care about fancy wine. It tastes the same or worse to me,’ I replied.

    “I can teach you how to appreciate fine wine”, they said.

    ‘I’ll make you a deal,’ I replied. ‘I won’t try to make you appreciate hooch, if you don’t try to make me appreciate fine wine.’)

  90. [Meyer: "To say that the roulette ball fell in the red 16 pocket by chance is also to say that the ball was NOT placed there intentionally and that there was nothing about the construction of the roulette wheel that forced the ball to land in the red 16 of NECESSITY].

    –”Nullasalus: “And I’m saying that, unless that statement is qualified, it goes beyond science.”

    I am not clear on why you think so. Remember, we are operating scientifically with a “null” hypothesis about purposeful intention. The very same technique is used by academics to spot intentional plagiarism. It’s pure math and science—no metaphysics.

    –”Was the ball landing in 16 not foreseen by any agent, full stop?”

    From a theological perspective I would say that God foresaw it, yes. [Technically, God just “sees” it]. From a scientific perspective, I don’t see any metaphysical smuggling going on. In what way has science exceeded its limits in this case?

    –”Not preordained, full stop?”

    I would say that it is not pre-ordained. Foreknowledge does not necessarily translate into pre-ordination or necessity. Recall my earlier example: God may know that the stock market is going to crash, but that doesn’t mean that He caused it or that the event was pre-ordained.

    Granted, if we could know [and God does know in advance] the exact force of the throw, the angle from which it comes, the way the ball lands on the roulette wheel [or the way the cubed dice hit the table], and all other physical factors, and the ways they influence one another, and all the combinations and permutations involved [that’s a lot to know] it would seem that only one outcome is possible per each exact combination of physical circumstances.

    HOWEVER, these causal factors [the almost infinite number of possible ways one can throw the dice] are, themselves, contingent. They will be different every time. God may know which combination is coming, but He didn’t cause or pre-ordain the outcome. Indeed, I think it would be virtually impossible for the thrower to make the dice behave exactly the same way twice. One might be able to throw two sevens in a row [or repeat sixteen on the roulette wheel] but the way the hand moves and the way the dice fall will be different every time. Hence, we get the contingency factor that is being talked about.

    My guess is that some of the scientists on this blog will disagree with me, insisting that the contingency factor occurs after the throw as the dice fall as they will. I say the contingency happens before and during the throw as the gambler executes one of the trillions of possible combinations of ways to toss the dice. Either way, the result is not pre-ordained, and the scientific hypotheses are in tact. Again, I don’t understand how there is any metaphysical smuggling going on here.

  91. StephenB,

    The very same technique is used by academics to spot intentional plagiarism. It’s pure math and science—no metaphysics.

    As I said, unless you properly qualify it, it is. Are you telling me that you can use “math and science” to determine, say, the presence or lack of God’s knowledge, guidance, or intervention in this or that situation? How about any other sufficiently advanced or powerful being?

    From a theological perspective I would say that God foresaw it, yes. [Technically, God just “sees” it]. From a scientific perspective, I don’t see any metaphysical smuggling going on. In what way has science exceeded its limits in this case?

    It’s not science exceeding its limits per se. Science’s limits are science’s limits – the limits are exceeded by people, passing off non-science as science.

    You say that, from a theological perspective, God foresaw it. But if someone says, “No one foresaw it, period. Science shows us this.”, would you call that an abuse of science? Of bringing (a)theological, philosophical and metaphysical claims in and passing said claims off as science? It’s certainly conflicting with the theological perspective and claim.

    God may know which combination is coming, but He didn’t cause or pre-ordain the outcome.

    Sure, but that’s a claim even you would admit is coming out of metaphysics, philosophy and theology. I think you’d agree with that much.

    Let’s get to the heart of this.

    Again, I don’t understand how there is any metaphysical smuggling going on here.

    Here’s how I defined chance: “Events and outcomes entirely unforeseen, undirected and unintended by any mind.” Would you grant that, with this definition of chance in play, saying that this or that event came to pass by chance (take your pick of the event, from a weather pattern to a roll of the dice) and that this is a scientific claim, or even a proven scientific fact, would be an instance of metaphysical smuggling?

    I quoted Monod at 75. Monod seems to be making a similar claim for chance, and at the very least strongly implying that his is a purely scientific, rather than philosophical or metaphysical, view. Grant me for the sake of argument that he’s doing that. Are we seeing some smuggling?

  92. 94

    null,

    The design inference is not affected if chance doesn’t exist.

    There is still an excellent reason to find a way to differentiate between events directly caused by law and events directly caused by agency.

    I myself am probably 50/50 on whether chance exists or not, but it doesn’t matter.

  93. tragic,

    The design inference is not affected if chance doesn’t exist.

    I’d agree. I pointed out how even Dembski says his filter doesn’t show where there’s no design, only where there is design. Which to me said that in principle, design could be all we’ve got, full stop. So it’s as you say, at least as far as I’ve seen and read.

    I even said right from the start that I support design inferences, even strong ones. It’s those non-design inferences, and how they’re classified, that I’m kicking up some dirt about here.

  94. Granted, if we could know [and God does know in advance] the exact force of the throw, the angle from which it comes, the way the ball lands on the roulette wheel [or the way the cubed dice hit the table], and all other physical factors, and the ways they influence one another, and all the combinations and permutations involved [that’s a lot to know] it would seem that only one outcome is possible per each exact combination of physical circumstances.

    So the way that God knows what number will appear on the die or which slot the ball will fall into on the wheel, is that He somehow becomes aware of the all initial conditions and of all the intermediate conditions that will come into play and factors them all in and calculates the expected outcome, and having perfect knowledge of all relevant physical factors and perfect calculation he therefore figures out in advance what the result will be?

    How far in advance does he come to know the force of the throw, for example? Does he have to wait for it to take place?

    And how is it that he can know the force and not just know the remainder? Or does he also need to run a calculation to find out the the force?

  95. 97

    I understand what you are saying. You are saying that ID is not scientific because there is no such thing as not-ID. I’ve heard it before.

    Trouble is, I don’t think that line of reasoning is valid. I was hoping you had something interesting when I saw this post, but in the end you hardly even stated your thesis as clearly as I just did.

  96. 98

    I mean, you at least need a clear definition of science to say something is not scientific, right?

    Yet you don’t believe there is a clear definition. So where does that leave us?

  97. tragic,

    I understand what you are saying. You are saying that ID is not scientific because there is no such thing as not-ID. I’ve heard it before.

    Swing and a miss. I’m claiming that no-ID is not science. I even said right in the OP that if no-ID is science, then ID is science upon the instant. I didn’t develop that line of reasoning much, because questioning ID’s scientific status wasn’t my point.

    I was hoping you had something interesting when I saw this post, but in the end you hardly even stated your thesis as clearly as I just did.

    Nope, you didn’t. Kind of a tragic mishap, that. ;)

  98. 100

    Well you’re right I don’t understand your point then. :p

  99. 101

    On the flipside, I don’t think ID (or for that matter, no-ID) is science, even if I reason that if no-ID is science then so is ID.

    But you did say ID isn’t science. That is enough to be a design heretic so you’ll forgive me if I thought that was your point.

  100. 102

    Tragic, I’d happily answer any questions you ask – but frankly you seem pretty pissed off and spoiling for a fight with me for some reason. Not sure why, and I don’t care to speculate.

    Have a look at 93. I think the conversation I’m having with StephenB gets to the heart of the matter. Most everyone else in the thread seems to get what I was trying to say, even if there are disagreements.

  101. 103

    I assure you I’m not pissed off. Kind of puzzled though, because 93 starts off with basically the thesis I assigned to you. Then the rest of the post is about whether chance causation counts as science, which is another demarcation argument.

    Let me swing again here:

    1. No-ID is not science because chance doesn’t exist and laws are reducible to design

    2. No-ID and ID are exactly equivalent for exclusion or inclusion within science.

    Conclusion: ID is not science.

    Third swing:

    1. Chance doesn’t exist and laws are reducible to design.

    2. ID is only useful in differentiating between chance and design.

    Conclusion: ID is not useful because only design exists.

  102. 104

    “2. ID is only useful in differentiating between chance and design.”

    should probably be:

    “2. ID is only useful in differentiating between chance, law and design.”

  103. 105

    Tragic,

    How about we try this: Tell me where in the post I made the argument that ID isn’t science. You point out that I said in the post that I don’t think ID is science – I’ll note that I also said that I think the ID position is regularly mangled by critics, that I’m dismissive of atheism and naturalism, and that I’m comfortable with questioning Darwinism. Why not suppose any of those were the thrust of the post?

    I did mention that I have problems with the ‘chance, necessity or design’ trichotomy. But I also mentioned that was only one ID argument, and nowhere did I say ‘and thus we can see that ID is not science’ or words to that effect. Nor did I say that the argument couldn’t be salvaged or advanced in another way.

    In fact, I never said ‘chance doesn’t exist’. I said I’m skeptical of chance’s existence (chance as I defined it), and that I don’t think science is capable of determining that chance as I defined it exists. I also noted that Dembski’s filter doesn’t seem to require chance of that sort really existing anyway, since he says that all his filter does is detect design, not its lack.

    Just because I don’t consider ID to be science doesn’t mean that’s the point of my post. Heck, I’m boggled as to why you think 93 entails me making that claim. Maybe you’re thinking “Well I can imagine how nullasalus would use the conclusion there in an argument about how ID isn’t science!” If so, interesting imagination – but that still doesn’t make that the subject of the post.

  104. 106

    Please put whatever argument you are making into a clear format with premises and conclusions so my deficient reading comprehension skills can make sense of it.

    As for 93, I will try to answer the questions you posed to SB:

    Are you telling me that you can use “math and science” to determine, say, the presence or lack of God’s knowledge, guidance, or intervention in this or that situation?

    No, just the presence, not the lack, with the obvious “designer not God” caveat. And only when sufficiently complete observational data and background scientific knowledge is available.

    How about any other sufficiently advanced or powerful being?

    It has nothing to do with being “advanced or powerful.” It has everything to do with being possessed of the causal power of agency as distinct from chance and/or necessity. And yes beings other than God are possessed of agency. Humans for example.

  105. 107

    Please put whatever argument you are making into a clear format with premises and conclusions so my deficient reading comprehension skills can make sense of it.

    Monod’s claims, and others (like Michael Ruse’s, though I haven’t gone into his particular version of it here) are philosophy and metaphysics, not science. Chance, as I described it, is not revealed by science, nor could it be. People who pretend it is, are smuggling in metaphysics and philosophy and (a)theology into the scientific realm, and calling the result science.

    No, just the presence, not the lack, with the obvious “designer not God” caveat.

    Great. So Monod’s statements are non-scientific, but metaphysical and philosophical? If so, great – we’re in agreement on that topic.

  106. [The very same technique is used by academics to spot intentional plagiarism. It’s pure math and science—no metaphysics.]

    –nullasalus: “As I said, unless you properly qualify it, it is. Are you telling me that you can use “math and science” to determine, say, the presence or lack of God’s knowledge, guidance, or intervention in this or that situation? How about any other sufficiently advanced or powerful being?”

    I am not talking about God at all. In this portion, we are discussing your belief that there is metaphysical content in Stephen Meyer’s examples about dice and the roulette wheel. I don’t know why you are injecting God into that formulation, except to ask me my opinion from a metaphysical perspective, which I provided. If you hadn’t asked a metaphysical question, I would not have provided a metaphysical answer. Right now, though, I am asking about the alleged metaphysical content in Meyer’s example. As far as I can tell, there was no metaphysical content in it at all, and I can’t imagine why you would think otherwise.

    [-“From a theological perspective I would say that God foresaw it, yes. [Technically, God just “sees” it]. From a scientific perspective, I don’t see any metaphysical smuggling going on. In what way has science exceeded its limits in this case?]

    —“It’s not science exceeding its limits per se. Science’s limits are science’s limits – the limits are exceeded by people, passing off non-science as science.”

    Well, your question had metaphysical content, [did God foresee the events in question] so I can only respond fairly by providing a metaphysical answer, which, in this case is, yes. Other than your metaphysical question, however, I still do not understand why you think Meyer’s example intrudes metaphysics into the discussion.

    —[“You say that, from a theological perspective, God foresaw it]”

    Right. From a theological perspective, I think the answer is yes. Science, on the other hand, has nothing about it.

    —“But if someone says, “No one foresaw it, period. Science shows us this.”, would you call that an abuse of science?”

    Sure. I would call that a metaphysical intrusion.

    [God may know which combination is coming, but He didn’t cause or pre-ordain the outcome]e.

    —“Sure, but that’s a claim even you would admit is coming out of metaphysics, philosophy and theology. I think you’d agree with that much.”

    Of course, it’s coming out of metaphysics. It’s an answer to your metaphysical question about God’s foreknowledge and questions about God’s pre-ordination.

    —“Let’s get to the heart of this.”

    OK.

    —“Here’s how I defined chance: “Events and outcomes entirely unforeseen, undirected and unintended by any mind.” Would you grant that, with this definition of chance in play, saying that this or that event came to pass by chance (take your pick of the event, from a weather pattern to a roll of the dice) and that this is a scientific claim, or even a proven scientific fact, would be an instance of metaphysical smuggling?”

    I think that you have smuggled metaphysics into your definition by characterizing outcomes, at least in part, as events that God cannot foresee. Science cannot make presumptions like that.

    —“I quoted Monod at 75. Monod seems to be making a similar claim for chance, and at the very least strongly implying that his is a purely scientific, rather than philosophical or metaphysical, view. Grant me for the sake of argument that he’s doing that. Are we seeing some smuggling?”

    Monod is not defining chance in those passages; he is making claims about its efficacy. A definition is about what something is, not about what it can do. Monad’s DEFINITION of chance is this: “events and processes that produce a range of possible outcomes, each with some probability of occurring.” That is a scientific definition completely absent of any metaphysical intrusion and is nothing like the passage that you alluded to @75, which is a wild, unjustified claim about what chance can do.

  107. 109

    StephenB,

    I am not talking about God at all.

    Yeah, you’re just saying that science can determine the lack of intention in this or that specific case. What’s purposeful intention got to do with God, right?

    Look – I said that unless the statement is properly qualified, that it goes beyond science. To say ‘well, there’s no purposeful intention that we can detect – but of course, this only holds for certain agents. God, for example, could well have intended this result’ is to qualify it.

    But in the quote you provided, there was no qualification by Meyer. He said that to say the roulette ball fell where it did by chance is to say it did not fall where it did as the result of intention, and that there was nothing about the roulette wheel’s construction that made it stop there by necessity, and you suggested this as described was an entirely scientific determination. No qualifications. Maybe it’s there in the book – if so, you didn’t relate it to me. I have to go by what you quote.

    To say ‘this was not the result of any intention’ without qualification is to bring God into the conversation, and metaphysics, theology and philosophy along with it.

    Monod is not defining chance in those passages; he is making claims about its efficacy. A definition is about what something is, not about what it can do. Monad’s DEFINITION of chance is this: “events and processes that produce a range of possible outcomes, each with some probability of occurring.” That is a scientific definition completely absent of any metaphysical intrusion and is nothing like the passage that you alluded to @75, which is a wild, unjustified claim about what chance can do.

    Oh really? Let’s review.

    I defined chance as this: Events and outcomes entirely unforeseen, undirected and unintended by any mind.

    You have, unless I’ve misunderstood you, copped to this definition being metaphysical, beyond science.

    You’re saying that when Monod says what he says in 75, he’s not making any claims about processes of nature being entirely unforeseen, undirected and unintended by any mind?

    Alright. I’ll play that game. Here’s some more Monod quotes.

    the scientific attitude implies what I call the postulate of objectivity—that is to say, the fundamental postulate that there is no plan, that there is no intention in the universe. Now, this is basically incompatible with virtually all the religious or metaphysical systems whatever, all of which try to show that there is some sort of harmony between man and the universe and that man is a product—predictable if not indispensable—of the evolution of the universe.

    Scientific attitude. No plan, no intention in the universe.

    Not enough? Alright, let’s try another.

    Armed with all the powers, enjoying all the wealth they owe to science, our societies are still trying to practice and to teach systems of values already destroyed at the roots by that very science. Man knows at last that he is alone in the indifferent immensity of the universe, whence which he has emerged by chance. His duty, like his fate, is written nowhere.

    Science, destroying systems of values. Science, showing that man emerged by chance from (and solely due to) an indifferent universe, with no duties.

    What’s that, StephenB? *Still* not enough? Let’s cut to the interview, with emphasis added.

    John: Could I go back to the question of creation? As I understand your point of view, and as it has been put to me, traditionally Christians have said, ‘God created the world at the beginning; God at a certain stage created life; God was at many points involved’ Then science came along and said, ‘No, we can give you a determinist account of how the universe was created, and how life came into being, entirely by scientific laws; we have no need of the hypothesis of a theistic creator.’

    Now, am I right in thinking that you have taken that one stage further, and said, ‘No, it isn’t in fact a determinist system; it is even more difficult to imagine God because of the elements of randomness that occur at many points in this story, and in fact, that are the whole thread holding the story together? God couldn’t have decided in the beginning to use this mechanism to create man because he couldn’t have predicted at the beginning that man would emerge from it (emphasis added).

    Monod: You are quite right. The advent of man was completely unpredictable, until it actually happened.

    Go ahead. Tell me Monod was not passing off the view of chance I talk about, the view which you apparently admit is metaphysical and beyond science, as science. Do it, and I’ll bring in Jerry Coyne arguing that science takes the position that evolution is not guided by God. I’ll bring in Michael Ruse arguing that science shows that nature, certainly evolution, is not guided by God in any way – not even foreknown.

    But for God’s sake, I shouldn’t have to.

  108. Null (et al):

    I have — several times — pointed out that “chance” has a very reasonable, empirically testable and practically relevant sense commonly used in science and affairs that allows us to discuss it as a relevant possible or actually acting causal factor influencing aspects of the behaviour of commonly encountered phenomena, processes and objects.
    Indeed, it is foundational to statistical mechanics and several related areas of investigation and analysis, all of which are highly relevant to many of the contexts that are addressed by design theory.

    SB has given an apt summary definition in 108 above, on Monod: events and processes that produce a range of possible outcomes, each with some probability of occurring.

    In short, triggers of high, stochastically distributed contingencies, tracing to uncontrolled or uncontrollable to us factors and circumstances. In that is no necessary resort to “unknown to any mind or unknowable to any mind” or the like.

    So, frankly, to push that into the situation is to build a strawman target, and to engage in metaphysical loading. And, I assure you, a physicist looking on and thinking of something as simple as the Maxwell-Boltzmann statistics and how it relates to temperature or pressure or the relationships between pressure, volume and temperature for a body of gas, or its heat capacity, or how this relates to phenomena like diffusion, etc, would find that to be revealing, and in no good sense.

    And, that is before quantum questions are put on the table.

    So, sorry, I must refuse your proffered bargain. I have to deal with the phenomena, analyses and models that are the context in which, ~ 100 years ago, it was generally accepted in my home discipline, that chance is a reality that we have to live with once we address the molecular scale. Indeed, in the hands of Einstein, it is the concept of statistical fluctuations applied to explaining Brownian motion that finally were seen as providing concrete empirical demonstration of the reality of atoms and related stochastic phenomena.

    Someone, confronted with these phenomena, who then wants to argue that chance manifested in statistical patterns, is not real, to such a trained mind, will simply reveal ignorance of the discipline and the issues that physics has had to fight through to an understanding. After that, nothing that such a person has to say will be given any credit. For serious reasons.

    So, sorry if it cuts across metaphysical debates, but that historical and empirical foundation in my home discipline is decisive.

    We are not here debating whether or not The Old One — Einstein’s words — plays with dice, but that in dealing with phenomena, we have a key cluster of phenomena that cry out for conceptual and analytical unification, and that that unification was and is found in the understanding of chance. The same, familiar from games of chance and the common die.

    In recent decades, the concept of the butterfly effect and sensitive dependence on initial conditions, or even intervening noise factors, has helped us understand chance’s roots at macroscopic levels such as in the tossing of a die. While some may be fascinated by the dynamical system that says in effect per analysis and algebra, once initial conditions are so much, these laws apply and the outcome is set. But, that is NOT where the issue lies, the differential equations only say what happens after the initial conditions have been set up.

    It is in those initial conditions, with not only uncontrolled but uncontrollable to us elements and butterfly effect sensitivity, that we must look to for how under quite similar initial circumstances we see a considerable diversity of possible outcomes distributing themselves under a statistical pattern that we can analyse on random variable models.

    Similarly, as I have repeatedly pointed out, 50 years ago, statisticians had a trick of taking a phone book and using line number codes to generate random numbers. The lines are set by carefully planned choice. The names of people come by choice and inheritance, and so do the locations they live or work in. None of these is strictly random, but when they clash, the uncorrelated pattern that results gives a random distribution of digits that can be suitably sampled to harvest random numbers on the cheap.

    Chance is as good a term as any other for summarising this broad range of phenomena.

    Yes, chance does not act on its own, and we can point onwards to the dynamic process of accumulating change increment by increment to yield a final outcome when say a die is tossed, but all of that is reflective of the phenomenon that at each step there is a feed-in of subtle uncontrolled or uncontrollable factors leading to a scatter-pattern in outcomes. Those are chance factors that led to a clash of uncorrelated causal chains, yielding an outcome that exhibits statistical distributed-ness.

    At quantum level, the statistical distributed-ness seems to be fundamental, as can be seen from say radioactive decay. A population of a given nuclide seems to have each atom affected by a decay constant, and a population will decay according to a certain pattern, but we have no means of predicting which atom will decay when. Similar phenomena pervade the quantum world.

    So, here we see highly regular patterns that exhibit low contingency and can be characterised by mechanical necessity.

    We see others where there is a statistically distributed pattern of outcomes on uncontrollable or uncontrolled factors [just think about the tolerance that a manufacturer of mechanical or electronic systems has to deal with], which are amenable to analysis on random variable models.

    In yet other cases, we see how contingency is intelligently controlled.

    For an illustration of that contrast, consider the thought exercise 128-side dice strings. Such could be set based on chance processes and circumstances, or they could be set by choice.

    ASK: Which would be more credible as an explanation for the pattern of ascii characters comprising the first 73 characters of this post, why?

    The answer to this points to the heart of why design theory is valuable, and why it is legitimate to analyse outcomes on mechanical necessity, chance, and choice, based on tested, empirically reliable signs.

    Good day.

    GEM of TKI

  109. 111

    kf,

    I have — several times — pointed out that “chance” has a very reasonable, empirically testable and

    ..different definition than I’m talking about, and than what concerns me.

    Keep talking about it if you want. But it’s going to have to be with someone other than myself, because I won’t be changing my target here. As for the hypothetical physicist looking on and shaking his head in disapproval at me, I have choice words for him: “Help the engineers build a better toaster, or you’re not earning your keep.”

    Sorry, man. I lost my worry of what academics think of my views the moment I decided that ‘Darwin says’ was not a sufficient authority for me to bow to. I’m afraid it’s extended beyond that: Someone who wants to convince me of something will need an argument that persuades, not an appeal to authority I don’t accept.

  110. Null: I have summarised my views here. GEM of TKI

  111. Since coming upon the ID argument, I’ve never considered chance to be a “causal agency”, but rather have always considered it the “gray area” that stands between that which can be adequately explained by necessity, and that which requires design.

    For me, assigning the gray area as “chance” was simply a shorthand way of giving that area to materialists – which was fine.

    Since I believe mind created mechanical necessity to serve as the contextual counterpart for the purpose of identification of self, free will, choice, etc., I think that the “gray area” we call “chance” was intended to serve as a form of “plausible deniability”.

  112. PS: The lecture here gives a good summary [on analytical and empirical grounds, Null: I do not ask for blind bowing to authority sand the above never called for that], including the apparatus that observed the Maxwell distribution in action.

  113. F/N: I give a qualitative discussion here.

  114. 116

    Monod’s claims, and others (like Michael Ruse’s, though I haven’t gone into his particular version of it here) are philosophy and metaphysics, not science. Chance, as I described it, is not revealed by science, nor could it be.

    Ok so let me try again:

    1. Causation is outside the realm of science.

    2. ID is an attempt to distinguish between types of causation.

    Conclusion: ID is not science.

    How about that?

  115. 117

    Yeah, you’re just saying that science can determine the lack of intention in this or that specific case. What’s purposeful intention got to do with God, right?

    Again I must emphasize that regardless of what Monod or even Meyer said, ID is not an attempt to say that agency could not have done something. Dembksi did not make that mistake and I suggest you address ID’s strongest argument.

    ID is an attempt to identify that which could only have been done by an agent. Nothing whatsoever about identifying “no-design.”

  116. 118

    Another try:

    1. Chance causation is outside the realm of science.

    2. ID is an attempt to distinguish between chance causation, necessity causation and agent causation.

    Conclusion: ID is outside of science.

    Please help me out by tweaking this if you like.

  117. I did mention that I have problems with the ‘chance, necessity or design’ trichotomy.

    hi nullasalus,

    I think the point of my post on necessity was to try to figure out of you “have problems with the ‘chance, necessity or design’ trichotomy,” or if you have problems with the ‘chance or design’ dichotomy. That’s all.

    So it is only the ‘chance’ part of the trichotomy that you’re really getting at?

    Or is there some issue that you have with the necessity part as well. Thanks

  118. “Help the engineers build a better toaster, or you’re not earning your keep.”

    Wheat do you mean? Help the biologists develop bread that comes already toasted I say! And buttered.

  119. Conclusion: ID is not science.

    Conclusion: ID is outside of science.

    Nullasalus is not making an argument about ID and whether or not it is science. So neither conclusion is representative if his argument.

  120. F/N: I have added an initial report on the experimental test of the Maxwell distribution.

  121. Mung,

    Or is there some issue that you have with the necessity part as well.

    My only issue with necessity is that I don’t see it as in the running against design, but an instance of design itself. So juxtaposing it against design just strikes me as weird, like saying “design or front-loading”.

    I don’t even have a problem with a properly qualified view of chance and a design comparison. Let’s say a person was convinced that chance as I’ve defined it does not exist. It seems to me they can still run an ID-style argument, even an irreducible complexity argument. I guess one way of putting it is ‘even if everything is designed in an ultimate sense, that doesn’t mean that everything is designed the same way’.

    Nullasalus is not making an argument about ID and whether or not it is science.

    Right. I don’t know why that’s hard to accept for anyone, but thanks for this all the same.

  122. TH:

    Causation is outside the realm of science.

    H’mm, so what are we studying when we study the many EFFECTS in science and explore mechanisms that give rise to them?

    For instance, cf the photoelectric effect, the explanation of which had a lot to do with the Nobel Prize, of a certain Einstein, A.

    GEM of TKI

  123. —Nullasalus: “Yeah, you’re just saying that science can determine the lack of intention in this or that specific case. What’s purposeful intention got to do with God, right?”

    If science can determine purposeful intention, it doesn’t follow that God is necessarily implied (although He could be). As I pointed out, science can discern intention in the form of plagiarism and cheating, but God would not be implied in either case. Indeed, forensic science can differentiate between accidental death and [intentional] murder. Indeed, Big Bang science “implicates” God. To do metaphysics, you must speak directly about matters, or make claims about matters, that are “Meta”—“Physical.”

    —“Look – I said that unless the statement is properly qualified, that it goes beyond science. To say ‘well, there’s no purposeful intention that we can detect – but of course, this only holds for certain agents. God, for example, could well have intended this result’ is to qualify it.

    —“But in the quote you provided, there was no qualification by Meyer. He said that to say the roulette ball fell where it did by chance is to say it did not fall where it did as the result of intention, and that there was nothing about the roulette wheel’s construction that made it stop there by necessity, and you suggested this as described was an entirely scientific determination.”

    It is solely scientific and Meyer is correct in his analysis. We KNOW if the roulette wheel is fair by testing it scientifically, and we know if someone is intentionally cheating by using those same scientific methods. No qualification is needed. Science can determine intent without resorting to metaphysics. That is how we know the difference between the havoc wreaked by a tornado [nature] and the havoc wreaked by a burglar [intention]. You are making unwarranted stretches about ID science.

    —“To say ‘this was not the result of any intention’ without qualification is to bring God into the conversation, and metaphysics, theology and philosophy along with it.”

    We are not saying that it was the result of “any intention at all.” We are saying that is was not the result of the intention of the party or parties involved in the process or those implied in the hypothesis. We do metaphysics only when we specifically argue that God was either involved or not involved, Indeed, big bang cosmology, which is even more suggestive of a possible creator God than ID science, is not metaphysics.

    [Monod is not defining chance in those passages; he is making claims about its efficacy. A definition is about what something is, not about what it can do. Monad’s DEFINITION of chance is this: “events and processes that produce a range of possible outcomes, each with some probability of occurring.” That is a scientific definition completely absent of any metaphysical intrusion and is nothing like the passage that you alluded to @75, which is a wild, unjustified claim about what chance can do.

    ---“Oh really? Let’s review.

    ---“I defined chance as this: Events and outcomes entirely unforeseen, undirected and unintended by any mind.”

    You can’t hold me responsible for your definition. Come on! You can only hold me accountable for ID’s definitions.

    ----“You have, unless I’ve misunderstood you, copped to this definition being metaphysical, beyond science.”

    Yes, you have misunderstood me. I have been very clear in that I am using Meyer’s second definition of “chance.”

    ---“You’re saying that when Monod says what he says in 75, he’s not making any claims about processes of nature being entirely unforeseen, undirected and unintended by any mind?”

    Good grief, man, I said exactly what I meant. At 75, Monod IS making claims about the processes of nature being entirely unforeseen, undirected, and unintended by any mind, which is why it is NOT scientific. On the other hand, his DEFINITION of chance, which is found elsewhere, IS scientific. What good is it for me to say what I mean if you ignore it?

    You follow with another series of quotes, all of which indicate that Monod’s anti-scientific biases. Yes, they are all anti-scientific and metaphysical. So what? It has nothing to do with ID nor does it eliminate his reasonable DEFINITION of chance (which I provided and which you ignored),

    ---“Alright. I’ll play that game. Here’s some more Monod quotes.

    I know that Monod is transcending science with all these quotes. I get that. So what? What does that have to do with your claim that ID transcends science? What does that have to do with his legitimate scientific definition of chance, which he, himself, ignores most of the time.

    ---“No plan, no intention in the universe.”

    Right, that is not scientific.

    ---“Not enough? Alright, let’s try another.’

    Oh, for heavens sake, I say [again] Monod’s anti-scientific rants have nothing to do with ID, nor do they invalidate his perfectly valid definition of chance, which is not anti-scientific. You must try to make these distinctions.

    —“Monod: You are quite right. The advent of man was completely unpredictable, until it actually happened.”

    —“Go ahead. Tell me Monod was not passing off the view of chance I talk about, the view which you apparently admit is metaphysical and beyond science, as science.”

    All these quotes that you allude to are intrusively metaphysical and unscientific. SO WHAT? What does that have to do with your claim that ID does the same thing? What does that have to do with the fact that Monod also has crafted a definition of chance that is NOT metaphysical? What does that have to do with the fact that Meyer’s definition contains no metaphysical content?

  124. Right. I don’t know why that’s hard to accept for anyone, but thanks for this all the same.

    Well, like you said earlier, I think it had something to do with the title of the post, lol.

    So the way that I see it so far is that the “issue” you have with the necessity aspect of the trichotomy is entirely different from the “issue” you have with chance aspect of the trichotomy.

    Would that be fair to say?

  125. StephenB,

    What does that have to do with your claim that ID does the same thing?

    I’m going out the door right now – I’ll have a fuller post for you later. Until then, please indulge me on just one thing.

    Where in this thread have I said that ‘ID does the same thing’? Tell me what I accused ID of doing, and where I did it. I’ll try my damndest to answer you fully on that front once this is done.

  126. tragic mishap:

    Causation is outside the realm of science.

    I agree!

    But kf, I don’t think tm was making this assertion. I think it was an attempt to characterize the argument of the op.

  127. I hear you on the summary side.

    Could you please explain the issue of effects starting with the photoelectric one?

  128. Effects are observable. That they have a cause is entirely philosophical.

    Does a cause always bring about the same effect?

    Do effects which appear similar always have the same cause?

    Are we getting OT? If not we can continue to discuss.

  129. Mung:

    Insofar as that logic is a philosophical topic, we may point out that that which begins or may cease has a cause, and that our knowledge of it on a warrant is an exercise in epistemology. In that sense, everything that is logical or about warranting knowledge is philosophy.

    But, once we move the business end, we are up to our eyeballs in cause-effect bonds in science, engineering, management and life.

    For science, let us start simple: a nail suddenly jumps in an inch into hardwood.

    Hammer striking and impulse being rapidly applied in a collision, translating into a force per F = dP/dt, is cause. (Impulse forces released on collisions is why we use hammers. Force moving through distance gives work done.)

    Effect, mechanism, dynamics, cause.

    Photoeffect.

    Light of frequency beyond a threshold — within the threshold, no effect no matter the intensity, beyond, immediate effect no matter how weak — liberates electrons from a surface, or inside a body, used in cameras now and a lot of areas. Effect, light liberated, cause, worked out by Einstein, photons of light of enough energy to liberate bound charge carriers. Cause, mechanism, dynamics, model, effect.

    And, many many more.

    Cause-effect bonds and dynamics are a routine focus for science. And observable signs that point to what is going on, too.

    GEM of TKI

  130. 132

    KF and Mung:

    I was trying and supposedly failing to formulate null’s argument. None of those arguments are necessarily ones I myself would make.

    I’d have trouble understanding what science is about if it’s not about causation. I am not a strict empiricist. I believe science includes empiricism as well as theories to explain data. Theories about causation are fair game for science.

    null:

    You title your post “Confessions of a Design Heretic,” then say ID isn’t science and then run around wondering why everyone thinks you are making an argument against ID. What did you expect?

  131. –nullasalus: “Where in this thread have I said that ‘ID does the same thing’? Tell me what I accused ID of doing, and where I did it. I’ll try my damndest to answer you fully on that front once this is done.”

    You accuse ID of doing metaphysics in the name of science.

    Let’s take two examples.

    [A] @76, I provided Meyer’s discussion of the roulette wheel:

    “To say that the roulette ball fell in the red 16 pocket by chance is also to say tha the ball was NOT placed there intentionally and that there was nothing about the construction of the roulette wheel that forced the ball to land in the red 16 of NECESSITY.

    That statment is solely scientific, but you say it goes further:

    –”And I’m saying that, unless that statement is qualified, it goes beyond science.”

    But it doesn’t. There is the first example where you say that an ID scientist is really smuggling in metaphysics.

    In that context, you ask:

    —”Was the ball landing in 16 not foreseen by any agent, full stop?”

    But Meyer is not defining chance in terms of that which is “unforseen.” Even so, you don’t hesitate to associate him with that term. It is you who are injecting metaphysical issues into the discussion.

    You go on:

    –”Not preordained, full stop? Science is infirm to make that determination.”

    Yes, so it is, which is why Meyer doesn’t define chance in terms of “pre-ordination.” Once again, you associate Meyer with that very subject–as if he had raised it.

    [B] @93 I wrote, “The very same technique [suggested by Meyer] is used by academics to spot intentional plagiarism. It’s pure math and science—no metaphysics.”

    To that, you responded:

    –”As I said, unless you properly qualify it, it is.”

    So, there you have it. In your judgment, anyone who uses science to catch someone cheating is doing metaphysics. Well, excuse me, but no, they are not.

    You go on:

    –”Are you telling me that you can use “math and science” to determine, say, the presence or lack of God’s knowledge, guidance, or intervention in this or that situation?”

    Heavens no, I am not telling you that. I am telling you what I am telling you–namely that science, in some cases, can discern intent, nothing more.

    Responding to your philosophical/theological question, I wrote:

    “From a theological perspective I would say that God foresaw it, yes. [Technically, God just “sees” it]. From a scientific perspective, I don’t see any metaphysical smuggling going on. In what way has science exceeded its limits in this case?”

    Because I answered a philosophical question does not mean that my metaphysical answer can be applied to a scientific hypothesis, or that I think it can, or that ID scientists presume to do so.

    Again, your wrote:

    –”It’s not science exceeding its limits per se. Science’s limits are science’s limits – the limits are exceeded by people, passing off non-science as science.”

    People? What people? Who does this? Not Meyer, not Dembski, not Behe.

    You go on:

    “You say that, from a theological perspective, God foresaw it.”

    Yes, of course.

    –”But if someone says, “No one foresaw it, period. Science shows us this.”, would you call that an abuse of science?”

    Yes. So what?

    Then you wrote:

    “Here’s how I defined chance: “Events and outcomes entirely unforeseen, undirected and unintended by any mind.”

    Help me out here. How does your definition come into play here when it is not the definition used by ID scientists? Personally, I cannot accept that formulation anyway, because it’s first component rules out God’s omniscience in principle, which makes it metaphysical.

    —”I quoted Monod at 75. Monod seems to be making a similar claim for chance, and at the very least strongly implying that his is a purely scientific, rather than philosophical or metaphysical, view. Grant me for the sake of argument that he’s doing that. Are we seeing some smuggling?”

    Yes, Monod, who at other times and places provides a scientific definition of chance, does, on this and many other occasions, smuggle metaphysics into science and make unwarranted claims about what chance can do. So what?

  132. StephenB:

    To say that the roulette ball fell in the red 16 pocket by chance is also to say that the ball was NOT placed there intentionally and that there was nothing about the construction of the roulette wheel that forced the ball to land in the red 16 of NECESSITY.

    Pure metaphysics.

    Chance means unintentional.

    nullasalus: “Here’s how I defined chance: “Events and outcomes entirely unforeseen, undirected and unintended by any mind.

    StephenB:

    Help me out here. How does your definition come into play here when it is not the definition used by ID scientists?

    Definitions aside, as in the way Meyer just used chance to mean unintended?

    IOW, if Meyer says that he defines chance one way, but then uses it another way. Why argue about the definition he gave when what is relevant is how he uses the term?

    And in this case, he says exactly what he means by it in the very same context in which he uses it.

    “To say that the roulette ball fell in the red 16 pocket by chance is also to say that the ball was NOT placed there intentionally…

  133. If a particular aspect of a phenomenon is by chance then, it is not of either necessity nor choice.

  134. 136

    StephenB,

    You accuse ID of doing metaphysics in the name of science.

    Alright, let’s see the example.

    But Meyer is not defining chance in terms of that which is “unforseen.” Even so, you don’t hesitate to associate him with that term. It is you who are injecting metaphysical issues into the discussion.

    I’m saying that unless the claim is properly qualified, we have a problem. I said that I am relying on you for these passages, and that I do not know what Meyer says other than what you relate to me. For all I know I bring up an objection that Meyer has not thought of, and he would properly qualify it if given the chance.

    But when you give me the quote, that’s all I can run with. And as Mung says, if Meyer says ‘the ball was not placed there intentionally’, that’s what I have to run with.

    I’m willing to give Meyer the benefit of the doubt. I’ve said as much previously. But I’m not willing to fill in the blanks for a quote I have problems with, without comment.

    So, there you have it. In your judgment, anyone who uses science to catch someone cheating is doing metaphysics. Well, excuse me, but no, they are not.

    That’s not what I said, at any point. Ruling out whether this or that human was cheating is not the same as ruling out whether something was unintended or unforeseen.

    I’m being charitable here, StephenB. I fully grant that Meyer could mean something other than I read. I understand the limitations of the written word. But the written word is all I’ve got, and if Meyer says that this or that was not placed there intentionally – full stop – and that science can tell this, I have a problem.

    People? What people? Who does this? Not Meyer, not Dembski, not Behe.

    Why do you think I’m taking aim at Meyer, Dembski or Behe, when the men I’ve focused on are principally Monod and Ruse? You brought up Meyer. You made the quote. I pointed out the problem, and I mentioned the limitations of the data I was working with.

    It’s entirely possible Meyer glossed over something. But again: All I have is what Meyer wrote, according to you.

    How does your definition come into play here when it is not the definition used by ID scientists? Personally, I cannot accept that formulation anyway, because it’s first component rules out God’s omniscience in principle, which makes it metaphysical.

    Because whether or not the definition is used by ID scientists is a secondary concern to me here. I pointed out in my OP that Dembski does NOT treat his filter as a way to determine that this or that mundane process is devoid of guidance or intention. At no point did I say design inferences can’t be made – I said the opposite, in fact.

    The fact that I’m going after ID critics first and foremost should be a big clue as to what I’m arguing here. I’m surprised multiple people seemed to assume I was attacking ID here, but for some reason actually asking me if I was doing this seems to have been a distant second concern. Go fig.

    Yes, Monod, who at other times and places provides a scientific definition of chance, does, on this and many other occasions, smuggle metaphysics into science and make unwarranted claims about what chance can do. So what?

    So what? Are you serious? So what?

    This doesn’t bother you? The prevalence of this move doesn’t strike you as something that needs to be corrected, criticized and answered for? The extent of it doesn’t concern you?

    I exaggerate. Of course it bothers you. But it’s not high enough on your priority list, perhaps. I see these confusions as downright central abuses. For as much value as a CSI filter has or an IC argument offers, confusions like these are vastly easier to address, and do tremendous damage. Sorry, I think they should be focused on. I can’t trust the TEs to focus on it – I’d think ID proponents would be more concerned.

    This is not a small problem. It’s far-reaching, it’s fundamental and it’s been festering for decades.

  135. StephenB:

    [“To say that the roulette ball fell in the red 16 pocket by chance is also to say that the ball was NOT placed there intentionally and that there was nothing about the construction of the roulette wheel that forced the ball to land in the red 16 of NECESSITY.]

    —Mung: “Pure metaphysics.”

    Why?

  136. ‘Intentionality’ is a philosopher’s word. It derives from the Latin word intentio, which in turn derives from the verb intendere, which means being directed towards some goal or thing.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/intentionality/

    As you would say, if God intended the ball to land on the red 16, the ball would land on the red 16.

    So Meyer is in effect saying that God did not intend for the ball to land on the red 16.

    How does Meyer know this? Because the ball did not land on the red 16.

    A claim of a lack of intent is a claim about minds. Only a mind can intend a thing.

  137. [But Meyer is not defining chance in terms of that which is “unforseen.” Even so, you don’t hesitate to associate him with that term. It is you who are injecting metaphysical issues into the discussion].

    —nullasalus: “I’m saying that unless the claim is properly qualified, we have a problem.”

    Again, I am asking you to tell me why there is a problem.

    —-“But when you give me the quote, that’s all I can run with. And as Mung says, if Meyer says ‘the ball was not placed there intentionally’, that’s what I have to run with.”

    Does this mean that you are now going to tell me why drawing a design inference to cheating [Meyer’s example], or a design inference to plagiarism, or a design inference to murder, or a design inference to burglary, or a design inference about an ancient hunter’s spear, all of which indicate some kind of “intent, qualifies as intruding metaphysics in science. Or am I to wait until a later time for an answer.

    —This doesn’t bother you? [Monod’s excesses] The prevalence of this move doesn’t strike you as something that needs to be corrected, criticized and answered for? The extent of it doesn’t concern you?”

    ID critics ARE guilty of injecting metaphysics into science and ID scientists are NOT. Yes, I am bothered by the fact that Darwinists and TEs inject metaphysics into science, but I am not bothered about ID scientists doing it because they do not do it. With respect to Monod, he died before ID science was born.

  138. StephenB: On the other hand, if the dice are fair, any number from two to twelve will have an equal chance of coming up.

    WOW! this is so amazingly wrong! I’m also surprised at the number of others who chimed in who also believe this patently false claim.

    No wonder few folks buy into the ID probability arguments since the ID proponents cannot even get the most basic probability concepts correct.

  139. —Mung: “As you would say, if God intended the ball to land on the red 16, the ball would land on the red 16.”

    I have never said any such thing or anything even close to that.

    Looking past your latest of many mis-attributions and false quotes, are you ready to tell me if you think that drawing a design inference about someone’s “intentions” qualfies as an intrusion of metaphysics into science?

  140. Acipenser, re:

    WOW! this is so amazingly wrong! I’m also surprised at the number of others who chimed in who also believe this patently false claim.

    Clearly, people around UD aren’t spending enough time in Las Vegas at the craps tables.

    Time for a junket! :)

  141. 143

    Well since I believe in free will I think things happen all the time that God did not intend.

    So if that’s really what Meyer is saying then he’s not only engaging in metaphysics instead of science (a distinction I care less and less about the more I hear null talk), he’s wrong.

    :D

  142. 144

    uh my comment was aimed at 138.

  143. 145

    StephenB: On the other hand, if the dice are fair, any number from two to twelve will have an equal chance of coming up.

    Um…hmmm…

    SB better come clean on that one, lol.

  144. 146

    Acipenser:

    “WOW! this is so amazingly wrong!”

    There is someone at the Bellagio right now with a few black birds stacked on snake eyes that wishes it were amazingly right. C’mon shooter, one time!

  145. 147

    Any side of the die encompasses the same probability. The fact that they are numbered is beside the point.

  146. 148

    That’s correct for one dice. When you add a second, the odds of a certain number coming up rather than another number changes due to the increase in possible combinations. The number seven has the most possible combinations, 6/1, 5/2/ 3/4 etc and the number two, “snake eyes” has only one possible combination 1/1. So in the event that every possibility from 2 to 12 have an equal chance of coming up (as someone suggested), given the odds vegas grants for betting on snake eyes “2″, that would be a positive expectation bet. And you could make a living betting it. Bella Vita!

  147. Still confusing the map for the mountain, I see.

  148. …uh my comment was aimed at 138.

    You intended that whatever it was that you aimed at #138 hit #138, but you, not being God, missed. By chance.

    :)

  149. StephenB:

    —Mung: “As you would say, if God intended the ball to land on the red 16, the ball would land on the red 16.”

    I have never said any such thing or anything even close to that.

    StephenB:

    Did God intend to create homo-sapiens as homo-sapiens? Did He intend homo-sapiens to possess an immortal soul and did that immortal soul come about through the evolutionary process. If not, what did He intend? Or, did He not intend anything?

    Christian Darwinism

    StephenB:

    Do you agree that prior to man’s arrival, God’s will was always done in the sense that nature unfolded exactly as He intended and that after man’s arrival, God’s will was not always done in the sense that man often disobeyed Him through the misuse of his free will and did not always behave as God intended.

    Christian Darwinism

    StephenB:

    It means homo-sapiens was predetermined. If God intends that specific outcome and arranges a process to produce that outcome and nothing else, then the process cannot be totally random. A totally random process can produce any number of outcomes, and not just the one outcome that God intended and caused.

    Christian Darwinism

    See also:

    Christian Darwinism

    No, you never ever said anything even remotely like that. You would never say such a thing. Far be it from God to intend one thing and have some other thing come about.

    Given your past comments I hardly think it was a stretch on my part to say what I did.

  150. StepheneB:

    Looking past your latest of many mis-attributions and false quotes…

    Meyer, “in his own words” [well, that's the way you put it anyways] was quoting the Webster’s dictionary definition of information.

    All I pointed out was that when you quoted me, you were likewise doing so “in your own words.”

    You claimed that what you were quoting were “Meyer’s own words.”

    They were in fact, not Meyer’s own words. They were Meyer quoting a dictionary.

    By your own testimony Meyer then went on to use a different definition of information.

    Naught naughty. That’s dishonest.

    You got caught. Deal with it.

  151. 153

    You intended that whatever it was that you aimed at #138 hit #138, but you, not being God, missed. By chance.

    I missed because I have no intentionality or because I suck?

    I’m assuming that in either case chance could still have allowed me to hit, which is what you meant by “by chance.”

  152. 154

    Acipenser,

    It seems that the conversation upthread was more about categories of cause than probabilities. If I am correct in that, then your comment was merely opportunistic. I think a fair reading of StephenB’s example, was that a fair die, as a mechanical object (a cube) subject to physical law, does not favor revealing any one of its sides any more than any other.

    If you start painting numbers on those sides, then you can start asking questions about the probabilities of those numbers, but those answers won’t have anything to do with the mechanical facts.

  153. –Mung: “All I pointed out was that when you quoted me, you were likewise doing so “in your own words.”

    Sorry, Mung I won’t work. The record on the thread in question is clear:

    @58 you wrote this:

    “But yes, Meyer in those texts is confused (and confusing). I’d love to sit with him some day and have a chat about it.”

    So, there is Mung saying that Meyer is confused.

    @114 Mung writes this to me:

    “Here’s more of your own words:

    “But yes, Meyer in those texts is confused (and confusing).”

    So, here Mung is clearly accusing me of saying that Meyer is confused and confusing, when it was he and he alone that said it.

    Nice try, though.

    Now that you have attempted to distract everyone from the subject matter, are you ready to defend your claim that a scientific inference to someone’s “intention” constitutes a foray into metaphysics?”

    You can begin by telling us if the forensic scientist who infers that a dead body was not an accident and was really the product an “intentional” homicide constitutes a metaphysical intrusion into science.
    If you can deal with that one, I have another one for you.

  154. Upright BiPed:If you start painting numbers on those sides, then you can start asking questions about the probabilities of those numbers, but those answers won’t have anything to do with the mechanical facts.

    Well if I recall correctly StephenB stated that all numbers between 2-12 have an equal probability of coming in in any roll of two dice. StephenB has painted numbers on the face of your die in a specific configuration….any fair reading would come to the same conclusion.

  155. Mung wrote: “As you would say, if God intended the ball to land on the red 16, the ball would land on the red 16.”

    I wrote: “I have never said any such thing or anything even close to that.”

    Mung offers this quote as evidence that I said if God intended the ball to land on the red 16, the ball would land on the red 16.

    “Did God intend to create homo-sapiens as homo-sapiens? Did He intend homo-sapiens to possess an immortal soul and did that immortal soul come about through the evolutionary process. If not, what did He intend? Or, did He not intend anything?”

    Will someone please tell this incredible nitwit that to say God created homo-sapiens as he intended is not in any way to say that God intended for a red ball to land on the red 16. In the first instance, God’s is the causal agent and the only causal agent. In the second instance, it is a human that is causing the event. In the first instance, free will is not in play. In the second instance, free will is in play. I could go on, but you get the drift.

    Mung, as of now, the administrators are putting up with your trollish behavior. But you had better not show up on a thread of mine.

  156. —Acipenser: “Well if I recall correctly StephenB stated that all numbers between 2-12 have an equal probability of coming in in any roll of two dice.”

    Not all numbers have an equal probability of coming up. The number seven, for example, is more likely to come up than any other individuall number. However, the dice should be fair, meaning that all numbers should be given an equal chance to come up. The dice should not be loaded to favor some numbers over others.

  157. –Upright Biped: “I think a fair reading of StephenB’s example, was that a fair die, as a mechanical object (a cube) subject to physical law, does not favor revealing any one of its sides any more than any other.”

    Yes, thank you.

  158. There’s really no upside in arguing with people who will say anything and then claim that they said no such thing or would never say any such thing.

    StephenB put forth a post in which he asserted he was presenting to the readers “Meyer’s own words.”

    Really, do we need to go over this? I dropped it back then, but he now wants to make an issue of it.

    StephenB:

    Here are Meyer’s own words: “The attribute inherent in and communicated by alternative sequences or arrangements of something that produce specific effects.”

    here

    To me, that looks like Meyer quoting from Webster’s dictionary.

    To assert that the words “are Meyer’s own words” is perverse and dishonest.

    In context, StephenB offered up Meyer’s definition of information.

    When that definition was challenged, StephenB offered up yet another definition of information, in effect saying that the earlier definition offered by StephenB was false.

    Meyer refuting Meyer.

    And then he blames me for pointing it out.

    And then, after I drop the whole thing, he decides he wants to make an issue of it.

  159. “I think a fair reading of StephenB’s example, was that a fair die, as a mechanical object (a cube) subject to physical law, does not favor revealing any one of its sides any more than any other.”

    And yet earlier in this same thread we have nullasalus speaking of a single die followed by StephenB claiming a 7 could come up.

    How?

    A standard die has 6 faces. Each face has a number on it, from 1 through 6. How could tossing that die reveal a seven?

    nullasalus: “I have a die in my hand. If I were to ask God ‘So, what number will come up when I roll?’ would God’s reply be, “I’m not sure. They all have an equal chance of occurring, after all.”?”

    StephenB: No, if seven is going to come up, God will say seven is going to come up.

    On six sided die?

    Well, it is GOD we’re talking about. If God intended a seven to come up, even though it was a six sided die with no seven on any face, a seven would in fact come up.

    How is it that one can reason with such a person?

  160. StephenB:

    Will someone please tell this incredible nitwit …

    The insult. I detect a pattern. Predictable behavior.

  161. 163

    StephenB,

    Again, I am asking you to tell me why there is a problem.

    I think we’ve hit the point where I’ve explained this so many times that to explain it one more time won’t do any good.

    And I know what’s coming: You’ll claim that I didn’t explain it. I point to my past comments – I’ve explained it, and been judicious in what I’ve said. Miss it at your leisure.

    Does this mean that you are now going to tell me why drawing a design inference to cheating [Meyer’s example], or a design inference to plagiarism, or a design inference to murder, or a design inference to burglary, or a design inference about an ancient hunter’s spear, all of which indicate some kind of “intent, qualifies as intruding metaphysics in science. Or am I to wait until a later time for an answer.

    Not what I said, and you know it. I made it clear where my problem lied: With blanket statements, unqualified, about the lack of intention, guidance, or foresight in nature. I’ve pointed out that these statements can be easily qualified and that typically they are, but given the context of physical science more attention is needed. Especially when we’re talking about detecting or not detecting design.

    Trying to spin this into me claiming that inferring that a ‘design inference to plagiarism is intruding metaphysics’ is downright silly. Frantic flailing in defense of an idea I’m not even attacking.

    ID critics ARE guilty of injecting metaphysics into science and ID scientists are NOT. Yes, I am bothered by the fact that Darwinists and TEs inject metaphysics into science, but I am not bothered about ID scientists doing it because they do not do it. With respect to Monod, he died before ID science was born.

    Who gives a crap if he died before ID science was born? What, it was understandable he’d make his claims back then? Bull! It was garbage then and it’s garbage now. It’s also a big problem, arguably the larger problem when it comes to this entire topic.

    But by all means, let’s ignore that entirely. Because I objected to a statement from Meyer on the grounds that as it was written I had a problem with how it plainly read, and apparently that means that I’m engaged in some full-on assault of ID. I’m waiting for the day where Dembski and Behe publicly disagree on an ID related claim – I have a feeling heads will explode.

  162. And I know what’s coming: You’ll claim that I didn’t explain it. I point to my past comments – I’ve explained it, and been judicious in what I’ve said. Miss it at your leisure.

    Darwinists and ‘atheists’ aren’t the only people who play “Deny-and-Demand.” Sadly.

  163. StephenB:

    Mung, as of now, the administrators are putting up with your trollish behavior. But you had better not show up on a thread of mine.

    Oh my.

    ok. sure. I consider myself warned.

    So your former threats were just barking dog with no teeth?

    Your former offer of charity was just you posturing?

    StephenB:

    I am going to be charitable here and assume that you are getting a little rattled and that you didn’t really mean to purposely tell an outright lie. So, if you offer a quick apology for inadvertently attributing your comment to me, all will be well. I will even give you a pass on this…

    Charity is not something that you can offer to make yourself seem magnanimous. Pretty sure Jesus had a few choice things to say about people like you. So I decline your offer. Ban me.

  164. StephenB Not all numbers have an equal probability of coming up. The number seven, for example, is more likely to come up than any other individuall number. However, the dice should be fair, meaning that all numbers should be given an equal chance to come up. The dice should not be loaded to favor some numbers over others.

    OK….you clearly do not understand basic probabilities.

  165. 167

    How is it that one can reason with such a person?

    You mean other than a fair reading?

    Well okay. One thing I’ve heard that works is to utilize the somewhat lost art of humility. If I was in a conversation with StephenB about rolling dice, and he said something about a seven coming up, then I would immediate think he was talking about two dice instead of a dice. It would not be a stretch for me to ask for a clarification, even if I was a smartass about it. What I would not do is think him an imbecile, and then ridicule him about there only being six sides to a die.

    If you have other issues that cause you to see it otherwise, then I don’t know about them.

  166. 168
    Elizabeth Liddle

    It’s an interesting example, though. The probability distribution for throws from a single die is flat – all throws are equiprobable.

    But the probability distribution for throw totals from to dice is not flat – it has a peak and two tails. And the more dice you have, the more the pdf resembles a gaussian distribution.

    This is where some of the confusion about the role of stochastic processes comes in – people often assume that “random” means “drawn from a flat probability distribution” (and sometimes the word is used in that sense). But, for example, mutations are not “drawn from a flat distribution”. Some may be very much more likely than others. This means that what is unpredictable at the level of a single event (like the throw of two dice, or even one) is highly predictable, statistically, in aggregate.

    And this is why separating “natural” causal factors into “Chance” and “Necessity” is not helpful, IMO (and is where I take issue with Monod).

    We can predict with high precision what the proportion of heads to tails will be in 100 coin tosses, even though our prediction for a single toss is totally uninformative.

  167. 169

    …any fair reading would come to the same conclusion.

    Then I don’t think you understand the reader’s responsibility in giving a fair reading. You seem to think its about the personal capacity to recite the words then stomp your foot on the ground in protest. That strategy works in some instances, but I’m not sure this is one of them. In any case, thats not your problem. Your problem is that it was pointed out to you that SG (in a fair reading) was referring to the mechanics of a thrown cube, even if he stated it in terms of the numbers painted on that cube. You ignored that observation. Well …

    This is where the humility part comes in. You show me someone batting 1000, and I’ll show you someone that has a right to bitch about the little stuff.

  168. 170
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Anyhoo, presumably we now all agree that more than one die will give a non-flat distribution?

    There’s a nice applet here, if anyone is really in doubt:

    http://www.stat.sc.edu/~west/javahtml/CLT.html

    but I don’t expect anyone is.

  169. 171

    Morning Lizzie,

    You said:

    “But, for example, mutations are not “drawn from a flat distribution”. Some may be very much more likely than others.”

    Are you saying then that the set of mutations that led to a single-celled common ancestor evolving into human beings were actually “very much more likely” than those that didn’t occur?

    If so, how can you make this claim without begging the question?

  170. Mung:

    Mung: “As you would say, if God intended the ball to land on the red 16, the ball would land on the red 16.”

    Do you have room for a view where the ball may fall into r-16 generally in accordance with a random statistical pattern but where — e.g. in answer to prayer for guidance through casting lots — God may occasionally specifically intervene for good purposes of his own?

    Where also, the statistical law — even randomness is lawlike in this cosmos! — has room in it for noisiness of observed outcomes and the interventions just described are going to be rare enough not to disturb the operations of the law for general purposes?

    Remember, in the presence of noise causing bias and scatter in results, experimental data is consistent with particular theories, it does not strictly “prove” them.

    For that matter, the overall logic of abduction has in it the issue of affirming the consequent so that we are dealing with empirical support not proof in scientific warrant. (Roughly, T => O, O so T is like saying If Tom is a cat then he is an animal, he is an animal, so he must be a cat. Tom could be a pig.)

    GEM of TKI

  171. 173
    Elizabeth Liddle

    No, I’m not saying that, Chris!

    I didn’t mean that mutations with certain phenotypic effects are more likely than others (that may actually be true, interestingly, but it’s not the claim I’m making).

    If by mutations we mean DNA sequences that differ from the parental sequence[s] then some types of changes are more likely than others.

    (Actually even that isn’t a very good definition of mutation for sexual reproduction, because all offspring DNA will be a unique combination of the DNA from four grandparents. So let’s say that a mutation is a sequence of DNA within a gene or pseudo gene that did not appear in either parent.)

    And these variations include:

    Single Nucleotide substitutions

    Repeated sequences

    Omissions

    New alleles in which part of the gene sequence is from one grandparent and part from another – the result may be longer or shorter, or the same length, as either or both of the grandparental alleles.

    And so we can say that these variation are much more likely than, for example, a general shuffling of a sequence (the sort of thing that used to happen at the old Grauniad, where it looked as though the printer had dropped the block, and stuffed the type back in willy nilly), or a reversal (I don’t know whether reversals happen, but I haven’t heard of sequences being reversed).

    So the important thing about mutations is not that they are “random”, which doesn’t tell you much, and, in any case, each one probably has a very specific cause, and if you knew enough you might even be able to predict it, but that they seem to be completely orthogonal to phenotypic effect. In other words, whether a mutation isn’t more likely in an environment in which it will be beneficial than in an environment in which it won’t be, or vice versa. But it is more likely to be a repetition than a reversal.

  172. Upright: Your problem is that it was pointed out to you that SG (in a fair reading) was referring to the mechanics of a thrown cube, even if he stated it in terms of the numbers painted on that cube. You ignored that observation.

    No, StephenB was quite clear in his statment of the results of throwing a fair pair of dice. All numbers between 2-12 have an equal probability of coming up was his claim.

    Nothing at all in his statements about throwing a fair pair of six-sided blank cubes.

  173. 175

    As I said, Aci, stomp that foot.

  174. 176
    Elizabeth Liddle

    As long as StephenB agrees with this:

    http://www.stat.sc.edu/~west/javahtml/CLT.html

    there isn’t a problem, is there?

  175. Got it, Upbed, StephenB means what he says except when he doesn’t and somehow his ignorance of basic dice roiling probabilities is too be ignored. Too funny!

  176. 178

    Not done yet, Aci? Use the other foot if you like.

    You are free to pee in your pants if it’ll help.

  177. 179
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Sheesh. StephenB made a small slip-up. It didn’t affect his main point, and I’m sure he doesn’t disagree that when you throw pairs of dice you get a non-flat distribution.

    If he does, he just needs to play with that applet for a couple of minutes and he’ll see why it works.

    Anyone can make a mistake, and it’s totally irrelevant to his point AFAICT.

    I expect God bears the same relationship to dice throws no matter how many dice you throw :)

  178. —Acipenser: “Got it, Upbed, StephenB means what he says except when he doesn’t and somehow his ignorance of basic dice roiling probabilities is too be ignored. Too funny.

    If you will recall, the context of my statement was to emaphasze the importance of randomness, the requirement of which is to give each side of each die a fair chance of coming up.

    Thus, I was not talking about the normal distribution of numbers, of which seven is the central tendency. If I had known readers would be trying to interpret it that way, I probably would have dramatized the distinction.

    However, I have already had that discussion with Mung on another occasion, in which he insisted that seven was more likely to come up than all numbers combined. Naturally, I corrected him, indicating the seven is more likely to come up than any other individual number.

    So, if I had not been aware of the difference, I would not have been able to issue the corrective. Naturally, Mung ignored the corrective as if it hadn’t happened.

  179. [StephenB Not all numbers have an equal probability of coming up. The number seven, for example, is more likely to come up than any other individuall number.

    ---"Acipenser: "OK….you clearly do not understand basic probabilities."

    Since you insist on showing your ignorance, I am going to challenge you on that one. There are six ways to get seven and only one way to get two. Seven is, indeed, more likely to come up that any other individual number.

    Since you disagree, tell me which number you think will come up more often than any other individual number. It's your move.

  180. —Elizabeth Liddle: “It didn’t affect his main point, and I’m sure he doesn’t disagree that when you throw pairs of dice you get a non-flat distribution.”

    Yes, of course. Thank you.

  181. —Mung: “Charity is not something that you can offer to make yourself seem magnanimous. Pretty sure Jesus had a few choice things to say about people like you.”

    When someone grossly misrepresents what you say or continually put words in your mouth in a misplaced attempt to make you look bad, the most charitable thing to do is tell them that you would prefer to believe that they are not lying and ask for an apology. In this one case, you did not not apologize for the misrepresentation or even acknowledge the mistake. Quite the contrary, you tried to cover it up with another misrepresentation. Thus, you violated reasonable standards of charity, I did not.

    —”So I decline your offer. Ban me.”

    Even if I had the authority to ban you, I likely would not do it. However, it is my understanding that, as an author of a thread, I have discretionary power in that one arena, though not for the entire blog. If I am correct, I have the privilege on those occasions of deciding who is contributing intellectual content, who is participating in fair debate, and who is just trolling around looking for a food fight.

  182. —nullasalus: “Not what I said, and you know it. I made it clear where my problem lied: With blanket statements, unqualified, about the lack of intention, guidance, or foresight in nature.”

    If you were trying to say that a roulette ball fell into the 16 pocket by chance, and not by design or necessity, what words would you use to express that idea?

  183. StephenB Not all numbers have an equal probability of coming up. The number seven, for example, is more likely to come up than any other individuall number. However, the dice should be fair, meaning that all numbers should be given an equal chance to come up. The dice should not be loaded to favor some numbers over others.

    StephenB:Since you insist on showing your ignorance, I am going to challenge you on that one. There are six ways to get seven and only one way to get two. Seven is, indeed, more likely to come up that any other individual number.

    Are you going to deny that you stated that every number between 2-12 has an equal probability of coming up? Seems as if your trying to wiggle your way out of the situation.

    Look at this statement of yours “The dice should not be loaded to favor some numbers over others.”

    yet you should have known that seven is more likely to come up over any other number…clearly seven is favored in the rolling of a fair pair of dice…..which you accept on one level and ignore on another, e.g., All numbers between 2-12 have an equal probability of coming up.

    Seems a difficult thing for you to admit that you screwed up royally in presenting your dice analogy…but carry on it’s great fun.

  184. –Acipenser: “Are you going to deny that you stated that every number between 2-12 has an equal probability of coming up? Seems as if your trying to wiggle your way out of the situation.”

    Nope, I said it and it was a badly written sentence calculated to emphasize the point that randomness means “giving” all numbers an equal chance to come up. However, once I explained the context, that should have been sufficient.

    So I wrote, “Not all numbers have an equal probability of coming up. The number seven, for example, is more likely to come up than any other individuall number.

    I also alluded to another thread where I made the same point so that someone like yourself would not try to make the false claim that I didn’t already know anything about the normal distribution.

    Acipenser responds: “OK….you clearly do not understand basic probabilities.”

    So, I explained how those probabilities work:

    “There are six ways to get seven and only one way to get two. Seven is, indeed, more likely to come up that any other individual number.”

    Acipenser, thus corrected, and unwilling to admit his error, copies my statement word for word and attributes it to himself:

    “There are six ways to get seven and only one way to get two. Seven is, indeed, more likely to come up that any other individual number.”

    Obviously, it was Acipenser who didn’t understand basic probabilities or he would not have contested the matter or copied my answer word for word as the correct answer.

    So, Acipenser, now that I have acknowledged my badly written sentence, and the context in which it was written, are you prepared to acknowledge your former ignorance?

  185. StephenB: So, Acipenser, now that I have acknowledged my badly written sentence, and the context in which it was written, are you prepared to acknowledge your former ignorance?

    Badly written statement? How funny. Your statement is factually incorrect and no context in the world is going to make your statement correct.

    Of course I understand the probabilities involved in a roll of a pair of dice since it was, afterall, me who had to point out your obvious and glaring error in this instance.

    Sorry, StephenB, the ignorance is all yours.

  186. Is it impossible to admit you were wrong?

    Perhaps it takes a bit too much fortitude to admit you were wrong.

  187. Sorry. Acipenser, nobody is buying your cover up.

    StephenB “Not all numbers have an equal probability of coming up. The number seven, for example, is more likely to come up than any other individuall number.

    Acipenser responds: “OK….you clearly do not understand basic probabilities.”

    Clearly, it was you who didn’t understand as is obvious from your response.

  188. StephenB:

    However, I have already had that discussion with Mung on another occasion, in which he insisted that seven was more likely to come up than all numbers combined. Naturally, I corrected him, indicating the seven is more likely to come up than any other individual number.

    Here’s what I wrote:

    Seven probably will come up, when compared against the probability of any other number coming up.

    1 way for a 2
    1 way for a 12
    2 ways for a 3
    2 ways for an 11
    3 ways for a 4
    3 ways for a 10
    4 ways for a 5
    4 ways for a 9
    5 ways for a 6
    5 ways for an 8
    6 ways for a 7

    here

    Interesting how from what I wrote you managed to come up with:

    “he insisted that seven was more likely to come up than all numbers combined.

    Most likely because that’s what you wanted or needed me to be saying.

  189. —Mung: “Most likely because that’s what you wanted or needed me to be saying.”

    That is exactly what you were arguing. I will take you through it step by step.

    StephenB @115: [On a single throw of the dice]

    “If these are fair dice, seven will probably NOT come up.

    [That is a fact and you are now about to argue against that fact].

    Mung @115: “Seven probably WILL come up, when compared against the probability of any other number coming up.

    [That is incorrect. Seven will probably come up when compared against the probability of any other INDIVIDUAL number coming up-not ANY number at all. If you had understood this, you would not have challenged my comment that seven will likely NOT come up.

    So, @122, I corrected you

    “No, the probability of seven is greater than any other individual number but less than all other numbers combined. Thus, seven will probably NOT come up in one throw–just as I said.”

    As usual, you ignored the corrective. Indeed, you are still ignoring it. In one throw of the dice, seven will likely NOT come up.

  190. Mung @115 should read Mung @118.

  191. Pick any number other than seven.

    On any single throw, it is more likely that a seven will appear than any other number that you might choose.

    I never said that a seven was more likely to come up than all numbers combined.

    Those were your words, not mine, and they were false.

    This is a habit of yours, and I have tried to point it out through object lessons rather than just blatantly accusing you of doing what you are so obviously doing.

    Object lessons appear some how harder to grasp over the net and I shall in the future attempt to refrain from employing them as a means to make a point.

    When you post a quote and say they are “Meyer’s own words,” when in fact they are Meyer quoting from a dictionary, that’s dishonest.

    What’s more, you know it was Meyer quoting from Webster’s and you did it deliberately.

    And now you assert that I “insisted that seven was more likely to come up than all numbers combined.“

    Which is yet another lie.

    Indeed, I hope the admins are paying attention.

  192. —Mung: “On any single throw, it is more likely that a seven will appear than any other number that you might choose.”

    No kidding.

    That isn’t what you said. You said that a seven is more likely to appear that any number at all. You just now added that last part “that you might choose,” which means any other “individual” number, as I told you several times.

    Seven is more likely to appear than any individual number, not any number at all.

    If you had understood that seven is more likely to appear than any other individual number, you would not have challenged my statement of fact that on a single roll of the dice, seven will NOT come up.

    Are you now saying that you finally agree with my original point and that you should not have been arguing with me in the first place? (Mung will not answer).

    In any single throw of the dice, seven will likely NOT come up. That is the fact of the matter and that is what you were arguing against.

    —”And now you assert that I “insisted that seven was more likely to come up than all numbers combined.“

    Any number at all from 2-12 except for seven is the same thing as ALL NUMBERS other than seven. Its the same thing. How clueless you are.

    Now, answer the question. Do you agree with my original statement–You know–the one you argued against but now agree with without admitting it out of fear of being found out?

    Yes, I hope the administrators are watching. You just argue with people for the hell of it.

  193. From 2-12: ANY NUMBER other than seven, includes 2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,12

    From 2-12: Any other INDIVIDUAL number other than seven is the ONE among the others that you choose.

    From 2-12: ALL NUMBERS other than seven include, 2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,12

    From 2-12: Seven is less likely to come up than any other number other than seven or all numbers other than seven [combined, put together, considered as an aggregate etc].

  194. —Mung: “When you post a quote and say they are “Meyer’s own words,” when in fact they are Meyer quoting from a dictionary, that’s dishonest.”

    What in the name of sense are you talking about?

    On the former thread, I wrote this about the definition of “information:

    According to Stephen Meyer, Webster defines “information” in at least two important ways:

    [a] “The communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence.”

    [b] “The attribute inherent in and communicated by alternative sequences and arrangements of something that produces specific effects.”

    There is Webster getting the credit. It is abbreviated for reasons of space. I also quote from Meyer’s book, using his own words.

    Now, here is the interesting part. At a point somewhere in the middle of the discussion, Mung accused Meyer of “mangling” the definition. So, I responded by saying this: Here is the definition “in his own words.” What part did he mangle?

    Unaware that both Meyer and I abbreviated the definition at times and extended it at other times, Mung accused BOTH of us of dishonesty for not using the exact set of words each time. This is the kind of emotional instability we are dealing with here, and I don’t appreciate having to explain all this every time this man get’s frustrated because I refute his points.

    On this thread, Meyer frames the definition of chance in his own words and they are not dictionary definitions.

    Anyone who wants to verify this point can simply run on up to @59 and @74 and check it out for themselves. For the record, the passages appear on pp. 175-177 (Signature in the Cell).

    Once again, Mung is shooting from the hip with the wrong facts and issuing recklessly absurd charges about my alleged dishonesty. This is getting very, very, old and it is a serious waste of my time.

    I think the best way to handle this problem is for Mung and I to agree not to comment on anything the other says, or anything someone says about us.

  195. StephenB:
    I am very sure that you understand the relevant probabilities very well and that, maybe in a rush, you just made a rather trivial error. No problem with that. When you would just have said “Yeah, stupid mistake, sorry” everybody would have moved on long ago. Why this is so difficult for you I don´t know.
    But now you are beginning to make another error. When Mung says

    —Mung: “On any single throw, it is more likely that a seven will appear than any other number that you might choose.”

    it is very clear that he is talking about any one number (“you might choose”). So, maybe it is better to not repeat your error and stop this one early?

  196. –”Why this is so difficult for you I don´t know.”

    I acknowedged that point quite expicitly and expained exactly why it happened. So I reject your insinuation that I cannot do that which I have already done.

    —Indium: “It is very clear that he is talking about any one number (“you might choose”).

    The issue is what he was talking about then, not now. Why did he argue against the proposition that seven will likely not come up? If you cannot answer that question, then you do not fully understand the dynamic.

  197. StephenB
    Yes, context and dynamic is always very important. But for me there is no other fair reading of Mungs words.
    So, when you need a lot of context and dynamic to call your words badly worded (instead of plainly wrong, which they are) and Mungs words wrong (instead of right, which they are) then you´re probably doing something wrong! ;-)

  198. Mung @ 193:This is a habit of yours, and I have tried to point it out through object lessons rather than just blatantly accusing you of doing what you are so obviously doing.

    I guess you didn’t learn *your* object lesson from him in that whole “You must be a Darwinist” thingie. ;)

  199. lol

  200. I know the creators of this site are anxious to make and support a clear contra-distinction between science and metaphysics, surely for the best reasons.

    Scientific accreditation for dissenting voices is evidently in constant jeopardy due to the dominant, overweening, totalitarian type of increasingly corporate-funded Establishment.

    If I were in a Russian pub or its equivalent, or any public place during Stalin’s regime, and a friend started talking to me in a seditious vein, or maybe just whispering, I wouldn’t respond verbally at all. I would simply run like the wind away from him.

    A broken career is not the same as a sojourn in a Siberian prison camp, but career-wise, I expect it could actually be more destructive, assuming one survived the gulag. Hence, it seems to me, at least in some cases, the sometimes hysterical-seeming railing of the scions* of scientism. In other instances, other agendas would be at work.

    Yet, it also seems to me that quantum physics and cosmology both interface with metaphysics and, indeed, theology and the realm of the spirit – and have done for a very long time; Arguably, have always done so, in view of the fundamental mystery of a finite universe and an infinite universe. However, each new finding we read about now, seems to provide confirmation of this threshold, opaque to our analytical intelligence.

    *A striking combination of alliteration and assonance, so I left it; but I think ‘myrmidons’ would have been more descriptive.

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