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Events, Causes, and Explanatory Sufficiency

Thumbster PvM has posted a response to a statement Robert Crowther made the other day at ID the future regarding the “Who designed the designer?” criticism espoused by ID critics.

Crowther writes,

Critics of intelligent design theory often throw this question out thinking to highlight a weakness in ID. Richards shows that the theory’s inability to identify the designer is not a weakness, but a strength. ID does not identify the designer is because ID limits its claims to those which can be established by empirical evidence.

PvM begins his response with this:

This is yet another example of why ID is scientifically vacuous. Indeed, if the designer could be established by empirical evidence, it would immediately eliminate the ‘Intelligent Designer’ as proposed by ID, namely a supernatural designer called ‘God’. In fact, in order to establish a ‘designer’ and in fact ‘design’ science inevitably uses such concepts as means, motives, opportunity, capability and so on. In addition, science uses eye witness accounts, physical evidence and more to support its thesis.

Neither Pim nor any other ID critic I have encountered has ever given an adequate explanation of just what evidence for a designer would look like, or if they have, I have yet to see it. The best they seem to be able to do is refer to instances of design produced by humans and say that we understand the “means, motives, opportunity, capability and so on” of such beings the way Pim does. The problems with this approach, however, are severe and intractable, and it continues to baffle me how any intelligent person who devotes much thought to this position could continue to hold it.

Consider first that what ID proponents are trying to do is determine if design is a better explanation for an individual phenomenon under investigation than nondesign processes–these processes being, simply put, chance and necessity–identified as being not designed on epistemic rather than ontological grounds for the simple reason that “goddidit” is not a scientific explanation. It seems obvious that one cannot “see” designers or directly perceive via the external senses some intrinsic property of being designed any more than one can “see” the experiential substance of thought in another person’s head. In order for there to exist design, there must necessarily exist an intentional representation of the pattern to be designed in the designer’s mind, and intentional representations aren’t the sort of things that be experienced or “observed” from a third-person perspective and through the external senses. Physical bodies and events are worthless to a design inference because intentionality is to be found nowhere in the senseless movements, collisions, and interactions of spatiotemporal material bodies.

Human design is the wrong starting point for a design comparison. To say, for example, “observed biological phenomenon C appears designed because it looks like instances of known human design” is flawed because it presumes that instances of human design can be known. Human bodies can be directly observed. Events can be seen to occur such that a given event C would not have occured had event A involving a physical body B (All human bodies and their parts are physical bodies.) not occurred. We could say that the Sistine Chapel paintings would not have occurred without Michelangelo’s physical body and its various movements, but we can also say that a billiard ball would not have moved if another ball had not collided with it. Physical descriptions of cause and effect may be necessary to explain a given observed phenomenon, but for design inferences, they are not sufficient. When people have seizures, do their bodies not make movements which are not designed? If so, then we have cases of physical human bodies moving without the control of an agent. Isn’t it then possible that people might have seizures which could pass as designed or even be outright zombies? How could we tell?

He goes on to write this:

ID faces a real problem: Either it insists that it cannot determine much of anything about the Designer which makes the ID inference inherently unreliable and thus useless (Dembski) or it attempts to become scientifically relevant but then it can at best conclude ‘we don’t know’.

ID theorists don’t postulate a designer for their arguments. Any talk of “the designer” they do is based upon an ontological status of design which is assumed due to a (supposedly) valid design inference. That talk of “the designer” can be misleading and confusing is why I, personally, don’t like to use the term–at least not without making clear the context in which I use it. As I explained above, you don’t go about searching for design by looking for designers; you infer its presence from the explanatory inadequecy of epistemic nondesign processes (chance and necessity). This is the heuristic procedure for design inferences at all levels–animal, human, ET, God, or whatever. If naturalistic nondesign explanations are the only type allowed at the biological and cosmological levels, then why not impose the same restriction on scientific explanations at the human level? Are the drivers of the automobiles I pass on the road conscious agents who plan and execute the events necessary to control their vehicles? Might the doctor who is to perform your next surgical procedure have no conscious experience at all–his actions being caused by senseless physical cause and effect? Are what I take to be the letters, symbols, and spaces of PvM’s post actual conveyors of semantic content, or did he just have a seizure at his computer? I guess we just don’t know.

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82 Responses to Events, Causes, and Explanatory Sufficiency

  1. crandaddy –

    I just did a YouTube video on ID and agency/choice that seems relevant to thw conversation.

  2. Also, if you want a good laugh, see the video response to my video.

  3. Materialism is unnecessarily tying science up in unneeded problems. The evidence that Theism is the true philosophy is overwhelming, in Physics as well as biology. As a Case in point to where materialism is tying our scienctific progress up. The consciousness is indeed conclusively proven to be a seperate entity from the brain with the John Hopkins study on the aftereffects of hemispherectomies and the effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on amplifying memories, not to mention Van Lommel’s NDE research. Yet materialists will insist on arguing pointlessly on whether the conclusive evidence is conclusive since it does not agree with their bias. It is ludicrious in science to do as such. Instead of having front line research going into the study of how the consciousness actually reacts and interacts with matter and potentialy leading to new profoundly wonderful breakthroughs in science. The scientists in charge of the major labs will not even recognize the conclusive evidence for what it is in the first place since it does not agree with their preconcieved materialistic bias.
    A book truly could be written on the impediments materialism has placed on science in the past as well as what it is currently doing.

  4. I’m not sure I’d say proven, though there’s certainly some evidence. Indeed, I’m not so sure theism in general requires consciousness to be separate from the brain, even for concepts of real resurrection and life after death (though I think there are many surprises regarding it yet in store for us, depending on how far we get.)

    That said, there’s one part of the OP that stands out to me. Being able to identify what is or is not designed – whether by a human, an animal, any other kind of lower organism, or some kind of greater one – strikes me as falling well within ID’s concept. And so broadly, the value in it is immense, despite the difficulty in being able to look at something unfamiliar and discern intention or use.

    Mind you, that doesn’t mean that identifying even something other than ‘God’ in design is easy. Along these lines, an example.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn2732

    In that article, a human-created program (one that was designed to evolve, no less – ha!) ended up producing a result that the human inventors hadn’t intended. That, to me, says a few interesting things about identifying intelligence in nature (and in the universe in general.)

    But principally – a program designed by humans couldn’t do anything but perform according to its code and environment. And yet it produced a result those humans did not intend, or even foresee. So how much “design” was in the end result? None (because it wasn’t foreseen)? All of it (because it was all done by a program-made program)? Something between the two extremes?

    While part of that question is philosophical, we still have a designed piece of equipment onhand. Imagine if that program and hardware was discovered by someone other than the designers. Wouldn’t it be valuable to know just how much of the result was intended? Maybe being able to look at the things and get an idea of what the goals may have been, how much of it was designed and how much of it may have not been foreseen?

    Yes, it’s tough. You know what else is tough? Consciousness, the origin of life, quantum mechanics, the cosmological constant, and a host of other things that merit serious discussion, investigation, and – get this – research.

    I would love to see ID expand to encompass such things. Maybe there are fields already devoted to it (forensics?), but the scientific world will be all the greater for it.

    I think the only thing “scientifically vacuous” is PvM’s bluster.

  5. Hello nullasalus,

    In the ‘newscientist’ article, it seems that the phenomenon that the software was PROGRAMMED (intelligently designed) to RECOGNIZE as an END GOAL and thus NECESSARILY CONVERGE upon through DIRECTED random sorting (evolutionary means) was an oscillating signal. The evolutionary program completed that end goal … it evolved an oscillating signal by one of the possible options. It evolved into a radio. So, it was intelligently designed to evolve into something that produces an oscillating signal and it did just that.

    IMO this is excellent ID research, possibly pointing to the fact that an endgoal is recognized by its function and not HOW it completes that function.

    IOW, maybe in a front loading scenario, a function is somehow frontloaded but there may be a few options as to how that function can and will be accomplished once the intelligently designed evolutionary process is set in motion to actualize that functional end goal.

  6. johnnyb,

    Everything that you said is obviously absurd ’cause the other guy in the hat said so.

    Furthermore, ID is Biblical creationism, so there!!!!!!

    I was hoping for a good laugh when I listened to the response, but I walked away extremely disappointed and wondering how people could be so under-educated on a topic before they gave their opinion on it? Actually, after watching the response, I now wonder how there can be anything that we call free will … I mean, how can someone freely choose to be so ignorant?

    WOW

  7. bornagain77 wrote:
    “The consciousness is indeed conclusively proven to be a seperate entity from the brain with the John Hopkins study on the aftereffects of hemispherectomies and the effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on amplifying memories, not to mention Van Lommel’s NDE research.”

    Conclusively proven? I think that’s a slight stretch. It is my personal belief, based on my interpretation of evidence that consciousness is most likely independent of brain/matter, but I couldn’t claim that position to be conclusively proven.

  8. PvM:

    Indeed, if the designer could be established by empirical evidence, it would immediately eliminate the ‘Intelligent Designer’ as proposed by ID, namely a supernatural designer called ‘God’.

    Boys, we’ve got ‘em, we’ve got ‘em!

    What a child.

  9. “…consciousness is most likely independent of brain/matter, but I couldn’t claim that position to be conclusively proven.”

    I too think the evidence is overwhelming. And I think every human knows this intuitively by the best of all witnesses – conscious awareness itself.

    But ‘consciousness’ may not be the best term here – maybe ‘intelligence’ is better.

    : You read these funny little black spots all over your computer screen, they seem to be arranged in some definite order. (Pattern recognition)

    You see them and your mind, based on memory of past external input, ‘knows’ their form to be symbolic. Combined in certain forms the symbols have ‘meaning’ to you.

    Is it the computer that transmit this directly (physically) to you brain?

    No. The brain is capable of external input without physical contact – that alone ought to raise deep suspicions that mind is not matter.

    Indeed, humans are capable of interpretations of information passed by a mere look in the eye or slight twitch in tone of voice!

    Mind must necessarily be metaphysical since information input can come to it without any physical connection.

    Imagine a person born deaf, dumb and blind and without any sensory functions whatsoever. Would they still think?

    What about intuition itself? What is it?

    Or how about sleep. I’ve never seen any adequate explanation of sleep by Darwinists. None beyond the ubiquitous just-so story.

    Why do we sleep? Most living things all sleep. How did the sleep mechanism ‘evolve’? What is mind when sleep is engaged?

    So many questions, so few answers that make sense. We all know the reasons. But where did non rational nature get these reasons?

    Whatever. Information is not matter nor energy. It is metaphysical by definition. So mind, being the interpreter (the brain is the processor) of information is not matter either. Interpretations are non material.

    Information and logic are mind concepts. They do not exist physically in matter or energy except symbolically in chemical or other form.

    Computers, for eg., do not store concepts. They don’t store thought or consciousness. They do store magnetic or light sensitive bits that carry 0′s and 1′s which when aligned in certain pre-conceived patterns can be retrieved and viewed as information by a convention, syntax, semantic recognizing mind.

    Recognition itself is metaphysical.
    Mind is not matter. Mind is not your brain. Mind uses the brain.

  10. 11

    Crandaddy Wrote: “Consider first that what ID proponents are trying to do is determine if design is a better explanation for an individual phenomenon under investigation than nondesign processes–these processes being, simply put, chance and necessity”

    It seems to me that everything is designed by something. Is there even such a thing as nondesign? Isn’t the only variable left to figure out HOW it was designed? So basically this means that all MATERIAL Phenomenon should be able to be traced back to naturalistic actions that create complexity. For example, a snowflake, or a crystal in some metomorphic rock are examples of complexity that has a basis in natural phenomenon. But aspects of our humanity, like the soul can be traced back to supernatural phenomenon and they can be measured using Dembski’s Filter. When you don’t know the naturalisic cause of some sort of complex object, can you assume design? I often feel that YES you can assume design even though you don’t actually know it. Is there any object that has been proven to be designed where all the natrualistic explanations had been accounted for, even the ones that were not yet known?

    Another point of confusion. Aren’t seizures actually designed? If you know why seizures occur and how they occur, they you know how it “came into being”. Basically, it had to come from somewhere. Just because the symptom is random (thrashing about randomly), doesn’t mean the cause or basis (designer) for the symptom is random.

  11. ID theorists don’t postulate a designer for their arguments.

    Eh? I can’t make any sense of this. How can something be designed, if there isn’t a designer?

    If something, say the bacterial flagellum, came about through (intelligent) design, then surely there must have been a designer. The only alternative I can see is that it came about through blind natural processes.

    Bob

  12. ID theorists don’t postulate a designer for their arguments.

    Bob: Eh? I can’t make any sense of this. How can something be designed, if there isn’t a designer?

    That was not the point. The designer is not an axiom but rather an inference drawn from the biological system in question.

  13. pk4_paul – but you can’t infer the existence of something without first postulating its existence. The inference needs a statement like “If X exists, then I would observe Y”. “If X exists…” is postulating the existence of X.

    Bob

  14. “If X exists, then I would observe Y”. “If X exists…” is postulating the existence of X.

    “If rain exists, then I would observe clouds”

    Notice that you can infer the existence of clouds from the observation of rain, since clouds are the only known cause of rain in your neighborhood.

    Sure, we could be wrong (it could be a “rain machine” created by a mad scientist), but such is the tentative nature of scientific inference.

  15. Atom – I don’t know what your point is. My point is simply that one has to postulate the existence of something before one can try to infer its existence. This is regardless of whether the inference is correct. It seems odd, therefore, to claim that one doesn’t need to postulate the existence of a designer to infer design.

    Bob

  16. Bob: It seems odd, therefore, to claim that one doesn’t need to postulate the existence of a designer to infer design.

    Why not the other way around? Observe design and infer a designer from what is observed.

  17. Folks, I think we have a language problem. Put simply, ‘postulate’ does not mean ‘infer’. This is how the Oxford English Dictionary defines the verb ‘to postulate’:

    4. trans. To posit or assume (a proposition); to claim (explicitly or tacitly) the existence, fact, or truth of (a thing); to take for granted; to assume the possibility of (a process, operation, etc.); esp. to suggest, require, or assume as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or action. Hence, loosely: to put forward as a theory; to propose, hypothesize (something). Freq. with clause as object. (Now the usual sense.)

    (the other definitions are obscure or merely rare)

    There’s nothing there about making an inference: it’s about making an assumption.

    I think it would help if Crandaddy explained what he meant by the term, and indeed by the sentence.

    Bob

  18. Bob: I think it would help if Crandaddy explained what he meant by the term, and indeed by the sentence.

    Perhaps but look again at the sentence:

    “ID theorists don’t postulate a designer for their arguments.”

    I agree that IDists do not postulate a designer. A designer would be inferred rather than postulated. Look at some ID arguments and it appears that Crandaddy is right on target.

  19. It’s axiomatic that where there’s design there’s a designer. Design is inferred. It’s semantic nitpicking to say a designer isn’t an inference.

    The real question is what qualities of the designer can be inferred from observation of the design. In the origin and evolution of life we can reasonably infer that any designer(s) had somewhat advanced skill in biochemistry and/or genetic engineering. There’s no requirement as far as I can determine that any non-physical (supernatural) means was required to impliment the design. If anyone thinks that abilities that go beyond known physical laws are required to design and construct organic life as we know it please feel free to state what it is and why.

  20. A designer would be inferred rather than postulated.

    How are you going to infer something without first postulating it?

    Bob

  21. A little late joining the party, I know, but here are my responses to some comments.

    Johnny,

    Awsome vid, man! You get five stars from me, buddy!!! Can’t say the same for Desertphile tho. One star, and it’s not because he’s anti-ID. It’s because his whole “argument” is one big logical fallacy. Besides, at a five star average it looked like he has enough support already.

    IrishFather412,

    It seems to me that everything is designed by something. Is there even such a thing as nondesign?

    That’s a good question. Is every event designed or caused by God? The positon that God is the only true cause is known as occasionalism, and I’ve wondered about it myself.

    So basically this means that all MATERIAL Phenomenon should be able to be traced back to naturalistic actions that create complexity. For example, a snowflake, or a crystal in some metomorphic rock are examples of complexity that has a basis in natural phenomenon.

    Our understanding of the physical universe is based upon our observation of its past workings and assumption that it will continue to work that way in the future. If physical state B has always followed physical state A in our past observances, then we expect B to follow whenever A. This mechanistic understanding of the universe works well for observable physical states of affairs, but intentionality–a necessary ingredient in the design process–isn’t an observable physical state of affairs. In order to detect its presence we are forced to step outside the materialistic/naturalistic explanatory box.

    When you don’t know the naturalisic cause of some sort of complex object, can you assume design?

    Design explanations are not naturalistic explanations. Instances of design are caused by agents and not by deterministic mechanism or random, haphazzard chance. My view is that chance, necessity, and agency are the only (logically) possible causes of physical events, so an epistemic justification of design is made by the elimination of chance and necessity. Even if agency is a physical phenomenon in an metaphysical/ontological sense, I’m pretty much convinced that it will never be reduced naturalistically without eliminating the phenomenon outright.

    Is there any object that has been proven to be designed where all the natrualistic explanations had been accounted for, even the ones that were not yet known?

    ID is an empirical epistemic explanatory enterprise (I didn’t plan that :) ). As such, it relies upon observation and induction, so it can’t prove anything, and naturalistic explanations must be considered on an as known basis.

    Aren’t seizures actually designed? If you know why seizures occur and how they occur, they you know how it “came into being”. Basically, it had to come from somewhere. Just because the symptom is random (thrashing about randomly), doesn’t mean the cause or basis (designer) for the symptom is random.

    Again, anything might possibly be designed, but what reasons might we have for believing that something is designed?

    Bob,

    A little clarification is in order.

    In the course of justifying the belief that some physical state of affairs P is designed, in order to have any use of a statement proposing that some other physical state of affairs Q is designed (thereby requiring a designer) it is necessary to provide reasons to support the belief that Q is designed unless you, yourself, designed Q in which case the belief that Q is designed is properly basic (cannot be rationally supported).

    Simply put, belief that P is designed is what we’re trying to justify. To support this belief by proposing that Q is designed begs the question of how you know that Q is designed. You can’t know from direct, first-hand experience that anything is designed unless you designed it. Your own personal experiences cannot serve as rational support for any argument, but unique physical characteristics of your designed objects might be incorporated into argumentation.

  22. Gentlemen:

    Very good discussion. This is why UD is such a good place to visit!

    I would add the observations, first on two argument patterns. The demonstrative proof pattern starts from accepted facts or axioms, then infers implicaitons, sometimes by quite involved reasoning.

    A classic example is of course Euclidean Geometry. (This raises also the issue of what happens when one uses different assumptions [originally, to try to get to a reductio ad absurdum, which failed], thence, non Euclidean Geometries and the discovery of different, consistent, logical frameworks. Thence, on to Godel’s incompleteness theorems.)

    The other pattern in argument is by EXPLANATION, across competing alternatives, on a basis of superior factual adequacy, coherence and elegance [as opposed to being simplistic or ad hoc]. Such abduction is of course in principle incapable of demonstrative proof, but also “proof” is sometimes used in the looser sense of the best evidence and reason we have lead here beyond reasonable dispute — as opposed to rhetorical dispute.

    Following say Charles Sanders Peirce, we can argue that science infers candidate explanations [inferring competing hyps], then moves to deducing and testing consequences, and is thus inherently provisional and abductive.

    In that context, the design inference is a process of identifying causal mechanisms, among the classic, logically exhaustive triad [cf my excerpt from Plato's The Laws, Book 10 in the second appendix in the always linked], chance and/or necessity and/or agency.

    All three can act in certain cases, as we know from say using dice in a Monopoly game: the die falls under necessity, it tumbles ot an outcome effectively by chance, and it is a designed component of a Game played by intelligent agents.

    Q: The issue is, are there cases where we may rule out chance and/or agency as the centrally important cause?

    A: Plainly, we have a whole field of investigation that does that routinely — statistics, which of course often plays a role in science. So, we know already that such is possible and even routinely used, so we face the constraint that we should not become selectively hyper-skeptical when our worldview assumptions or agendas are at stake.

    Immediately, that goes to the root of the problem.

    In the cases: [1] origin of a life-friendly fine-tuned cosmos, [2] origin of complicated fine-tuned DNA and protein based life exhibiting funcitonally specified complex information, [3] origin of biodiversity at body-plan level that requires further generation of such FSCI beyond the Dembski-type probability bound for the observed cosmos, we see that chance and/or necessity are maximally improbable as explanatory agents of FSCI. (Unless of course one resorts to the metaphysics of an unobserved quasi-infinite wider universe as a whole. But such a resort to philosophy opens the door a fortiori to competing philosophies, and that immediately includes Theistic explanations!)

    But — returning tot he empirical world — we know, directly, from common experience, and from scientific endeavours, that such FSCI is routinely produced by intelligent agents,and indeed in every directly known case is produced by such agents. So, the inference from FSCI to agency is based on what we know, not what we don’t — it is NOT a “God of the gaps” type argument. (NB: The precise identity of the agent is a further issue, e.g. it is one thing to know form the empirical pattern that murder happened, it is another to know “whodunit.” Thence, many a detective novel and many a scientifically tinged court case.]

    In the case of the three information-rich big bangs above, we may therefore reasonably infer from FSCI to agency, then address the implications of such an inference for our worldviews.

    Or, we would — apart from the institutional politics and agendas that dominate the ultra-modernist, C21 secular progressive university and its associated institutions in the professional and wider community. (In short, there is an empirically observed, frequently encountered institutional — i.e inherently political as opposed to reasonable and rational — imposition of evolutionary materialist assumptions that blocks the reasonable inference on the notion that an agent in a context where God in the Theistic sense is a credible candidate, “must” be ruled out a priori.)

    Te Plato’s Cave-esque rhetoric and power plays — Sternberg, Gonzalez etc, even the classic distortions of what happened with Galileo, the Bishop Wilberforce-Huxley debate and even the Scopes-style Monkey Trials I (Dayton, 1925 – 6), II (Arkansas 1981 – 2), and III (Dover 2004) — to sustain the evo mat shadow show are telling illustrations of the point.

    Mind you, it is evident from recent surveys that the public as a whole, quietly, has long since concluded that the evo mat worldview has long since passed its sell-by date. [The astonishing fact that evo mat cannot explain the origin and credibility of the mind, big bang no 4 -- which Ms O'Leary and others frequently point out -- is sufficient reason for that!]

    Not to mention, design in the world is so massively evident to common sense, that it takes years of evo mat indoctrination in universities that reward toeing the PC line to artificially suppress it in the upper reaches of the intelligentsia.

    And that is yet another — sadly — well-warranted inference to design!

    It’s time to wake up and face some unpleasant facts.

    Then, we have to do some serious things about them. [Cf here the second paragraph of that famous Creationist document, the 1776 US DOI, especially when it speaks of long trains of abuses and usurpations that manifest [political] DESIGNS . . .]

    GEM of TKI

  23. PS: BTW, the just above is one reason why I am distinctly under-impressed by the many — frankly, IMHCO, oleaginously self-righteous — “rebuttals,” “exposes” and denunciations of The Wedge Document in so much of the literature by evolutionary materialist advocates. Such literature smacks so much of “he hit back first,” and even “if it succeed, none dare call it [by its proper name] . . .” that it becomes self-refuting! (Hint to Ms Forrest, Ms Scott et al: who have politicised the debates and institutions “first” and predominantly in our day? Or, if it isn’t clear yet: since when has strategically defensive, but of course by definition tactically offensive counter-attack [hitting BACK] been improper?]

  24. Crandaddy – if, as you say, something that is designed requires a designer (and I would agree with this), then to postulate that something was designed implies postulating a designer. So, are you now saying that ID theorists do postulate a designer, or that they don’t postulate design?

    Bob

  25. Bob,

    4. trans. To posit or assume (a proposition); to claim (explicitly or tacitly) the existence, fact, or truth of (a thing); to take for granted; to assume the possibility of (a process, operation, etc.); esp. to suggest, require, or assume as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or action. Hence, loosely: to put forward as a theory; to propose, hypothesize (something). Freq. with clause as object. (Now the usual sense.)

    Axioms are not proposed, claimed, taken for granted, hypothesized, or assumed; they are self-evidently true. In other words, axioms are not postulated, according to the definition you provided. If something is designed, then it is axiomatic that there is a designer. Ergo, a designer is not postulated.

  26. PvM: ID faces a real problem: Either it insists that it cannot determine much of anything about the Designer which makes the ID inference inherently unreliable and thus useless (Dembski) or it attempts to become scientifically relevant but then it can at best conclude ‘we don’t know’.

    I hope the SETI guys don’t find out about this. They’ll be heartbroken.

    I’m sure we could expect the following. A SETI receiver picks up a long string of prime numbers transmitted from a remote part of the galaxy. No one is really much interested however, since all the transmission really says about its originator is that (they? it? he? she?) are capable of transmitting a string of prime numbers. The fact that nothing else can really be determined about the designer obviously makes any real inference inherently unreliable and thus useless. So, everyone just ends up going about their business.

    Yeah. That would happen.

  27. Bob,

    We need a paradigm case of design in order to have any idea what it looks like, so design (and a designer) at the ground level of our reasoning processes starts with the self as a designer. In this way, I suppose you might say that ID postulates the self as a designer.

    Any attribution of design to anything else (i.e. not caused by the self) must be built up from this foundation, and any conclusions of design arrived at are epistimic–they are beliefs which sit atop structures of rational argumentation. Any statement such as “P is designed” is ontological; it is a statement about the way things really are.

    Talk of a designer as a designer of some particular object includes the presumption that the particular object is designed. That the particular object is designed is what the IDist concerns himself trying to justify. To employ the use of a proposition asserting the ontic status of design for the particular object (or similarly, postulating the designer qua the designer of the particular object) in the course of rationally justifying belief that the object is designed would be to commit argumentive circularity.

    Is it starting to become clearer?

  28. crandaddy – you’re muddying the waters. My point was simple – if you’re postulating design, then you’re automatically postulating a designer. It seems that you agree with this now, so a simple, clear statement about this would help.

    I’m wondering if you meant to say something like “ID theorists don’t make any postulates about the properties of a designer for their arguments.”.

    Bob
    P.S. Phinehas – any study of the history of applications of geometry will show that you’re wrong that axioms are “hypothesized, or assumed” or are “are self-evidently true”.

  29. Bob:

    First, you are right that axioms are not necessarily regarded as self-evidently true claims. [Cf 23 and the development of non-Euclidean geometries by denial of the axiom on parallel lines or equivalently on the angles of a triangle summing to 180 degrees. That axiom itself had been long the subject of suspicion that it was not "obviously -- i.e self-evidently -- true."]

    Further to this, being “self-evidently true” is itself a statement of in the end, a faith-point [or if you will, "properly basic propositions"]. To see why, ask oneself WHY is such and so “Self-evident”? Then probe that chain of reasoning back, sooner or later you will come to start-points for reasoning that are plausible or at least good enough for now.

    On the main point, the key ID inference is as also was noted:

    we know, directly, from common experience, and from scientific endeavours, that such FSCI is routinely produced by intelligent agents,and indeed in every directly known case is produced by such agents. So, the inference from FSCI to agency is based on what we know, not what we don’t — it is NOT a “God of the gaps” type argument. (NB: The precise identity of the agent is a further issue, e.g. it is one thing to know form the empirical pattern that murder happened, it is another to know “whodunit.” Thence, many a detective novel and many a scientifically tinged court case.]

    In short, the real debate is between Dembski’s design inference and Dawkins’ “Designoid” neologism: his — empirically unconfirmed [speculations on the imagined distant past do not count here, we are talking of factual observations not inferences] — assertion that there are cases of apparent design [beyond the Dembski-type FSCI threshold] where design by intelligent action is apparent but not real.

    Dembski, in fact, has all the actual, present day, observed empirical support; but, Dawkins has the institutional support (even in the cases where they would not phrase it that way . . . it makes the issue too obvious!). And so, given the magnitude of the issues and agendas connected to the dominance of evolutionary materialism in the academy and wider culture, it is no surprise to see the step from that assymetry to cases like Sternberg and Gonzalez.

    Which brings us back to some immortal words from 1776: when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design . . .

    On the evidence of cases such as Sternberg and Gonzalez, sadly, it is time to make, and act decisively but justly on a very different design inference, methinks!

    GEM of TKI

  30. PS: Maybe I was not clear enough.

    Bob, I take issue with the phrase, “postulating a designer.” For, to postulate is: [to] suggest or assume the existence, fact, or truth of (something) as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or belief [OED]

    I should add that one is first noting the observed invariant empirical connexion between apparent design as per FSCI as a criterion [in light of the balance of the factors, chance, necessity, agency], and the actuality of design, relative to cases where we directly know the causal story.

    Then, one makes the inference: where design meets the criterion of FSCI (relative to Dembski’s two-pronged filter), we may reliably infer that design is real. In turn, relative to what we factually know about the inherent nature of design, i.e that it is an act of intelligent agency, we then provisionally [but with no known empirical exceptions] may infer that the design is the product of such an agent (or a set of such agents). The nature and precise identity of that agent is a further issue.

    In short, we are NOT merely abstractly “postulating a designer” but reliably abductively inferring from FSCI to design and may then similarly infer from design to designer.

    –> First, we infer that relative to the triad of competing explanations for FSCI– chance, necessity and/or agency — and the evidence, that agency best explains FSCI.

    –> Next, we simply observe that the connexion between design and intelligent agent has 100% observational support to date, on cases where we unquestionably know the causal story of observed designs.

    –> So, provisonally but confidently, we infer from design to agency as the most factually adequate explanation of design. (Those who would overturn this inference, need to provide observable cases of design that do not trace to agency as the underlying cause. Genetic Algorithms and the like, don’t count, for very obvious reasons tracing to the source of algorithms, the artificial languages and source code used to write them in machine readable form, and the mechanical means of their implementation.)

    I trust that is clearer.

  31. PPS: This inference chain: FSCI –> Design –> Agent action pattern of reasoning also resolves the common, “science stopper” objection.

    For, as engineering as a body of praxis reveals, designing agents act on principles, using strategies and techniques to achieve purposes.

    So, once we see agent as credible explanation, we may then search out these patterns and then adapt or apply them to our own purposes, e.g. genetic engineering. Or what if, far more speculatively — as, say, Dan Brown envisions in his “Angels and Demons” [with a priest-physicist at CERN, no less!] — we figure out how to make a mini-cosmos big bang in a bottle, releasing free energy to use in providing energy services by an utterly novel method? [Doing our own "Fiat lux," a la Gen Ch 1, so to speak . . . "Imago Dei" anyone?]

    And more . . .

  32. H’mm: Kindly indulge one last thought. Such a shift as above would have the effect of returning modern science to the paradigm in which it began 300+ years ago:

    . . . more or less, consciously reverse-engineering nature/the cosmos.

    In short, plainly, a theistic worldview is not prima facie a “science stopper” — indeed, as Dan Peterson reminds us in the just linked, it plainly has been historically a “science starter.”

  33. Bob,

    I used “axiom” as in

    –noun
    1. a self-evident truth that requires no proof.

    See below for a more detailed description of the point I was attempting to make.

    kairosfocus,

    First of all, much respect. I’ve only started posting here recently, but have been lurking for many months. Your posts and insights are among my favorites, and I humbly recognize your superior education and knowledge in these sorts of discussions. So, please understand that I ask the following out of a desire to be educated, not to educate.

    When you say that we make an inference from something that is designed to a designer, for some reason this doesn’t seem to put it strongly enough to me. Perhaps I just have a preconceived notion that inference implies more uncertainty that it actually does. For instance, if something has been hit, do we really need to infer a hitter? It would seem nonsensical to even postulate that something could be hit and yet there was no hitter. That there was a hitter seems to be a necessity, not an inference.

    Having said that, I can see how an inference would be appropriate to go from apparent design to a designer. Or if something merely appears to have been hit, I can see how we might infer a hitter. But on the other hand, it seems to me that it is valid to view the design as that which is postulated (the part where they may be some uncertainty, requiring an inference to the best explanation). Once design is established, it seems to me that a designer would be a necessity.

  34. In short, we are NOT merely abstractly “postulating a designer” but reliably abductively inferring from FSCI to design and may then similarly infer from design to designer.

    You’re still missing my simple, basic, point. In order to infer a designer, you first have to postulate that such a designer might exist. This is my simple point.

    Bob

  35. Bob,

    if you’re postulating design, then you’re automatically postulating a designer. It seems that you agree with this now, so a simple, clear statement about this would help.

    I think so. Design without a designer is impossible.

    I’m wondering if you meant to say something like “ID theorists don’t make any postulates about the properties of a designer for their arguments.”.

    No, as I tried to explain above, design (and designers) don’t come into play in ID argumentation at all except in reference to the self. To do so would be to beg the question of how we know the supposed artifact being postulated is designed.

  36. Hi Folks:

    A few quick notes:

    1] Phineas:

    Thanks for the kind remarks!

    (I appreciate being able to discuss the issues on the merits without the distraction of the harsh rhetorical games that too often play out in other blogs on this topic. That is why — with reservations! — I support the strong policy on tone maintained by WD, DS etc.)

    2] P: When you say that we make an inference from something that is designed to a designer, for some reason this doesn’t seem to put it strongly enough to me . . .

    Okay, we are all students on this subject, and admittedly difficult one. So, lets look at it together a bit and see where the evidence, terminology and logic may lead . . .

    I first note that we have a broad — and exceptionless — experiential base that whenever we know the causal story directly, FSCI is a reliable indicator of design. (Indeed, the full FSCI criterion laid out by Dembski et al is quite strict — a much weaker criterion would filter accurately on the known cases!)

    Next, pause on vocab: infer — deduce or conclude (information) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements [OED] that is, an active act of reasoning relative to evidence towards a conclusion.

    Then, we look at the chain of reasoning in cases that are in contention: design/designoid?

    On observing that chance and/or necessity are on very good but not demonstrative grounds not causally adequate, by a long shot, we infer to the remaining alternative, agency. (NB: We are inferring, not directly observing, as we were not there to see the origin of the cosmos, or life or of body-plan level bio-diversification. We may be morally certain, but that is not demonstratively certain. Of course, that is what the realities of the world of fact limit us to . . .)

    Does that help?

    3] It would seem nonsensical to even postulate that something could be hit and yet there was no hitter. That there was a hitter seems to be a necessity, not an inference . . . . if something merely appears to have been hit, I can see how we might infer a hitter

    This puts the finger on the problem: for many NDT advocates, design on origin or diversification of life is only apparent.

    Similarly and more broadly, finetuning on the cosmos is often viewed as an accident of appearances rather than reality [often through the resort tot he quasi-infinite unobserved multiverse type model].

    That is why I invariably begin with the point that we know from experience that [a] FSCI is a reliable sign of design, and [b] that chance and/or necessity alone cannot credibly account for FSCI. That is, [i] we are looking at contingency so necessity is not decisive, and [ii] we are looking at such isolated regions in the configuration space that chance-driven access to the functionally specified zones is not credible on the gamut of the observed cosmos. [Cf my always linked for my main discussion.]

    The inference to agency is obvious, and plainly well-warranted. But, it cuts across entrenched worldview perceptions, and so is controversial.

    That brings us to:

    4] Bob: In order to infer a designer, you first have to postulate that such a designer might exist.

    Yes, you have to be OPEN to the idea that agency is a possible explanation of the relevant cases of FSCI. Unfortunately, too many are not, for worldview-level question-begging reasons.

    That is why I start from what we do directly know and observe: FSCI is a reliable sign of agency at work. So, when we see it the best, inductively well-warranted explanation for the origin of the phenomenon exhibiting FSCI is: AGENCY, even in cases where we have not directly seen the origin. (Cf the case of SETI as a case where if just one signal exhibiting FSCI were to indisputably come in, inference would be made to intelligent origin, but in the molecular world, when we see just such signals exhibiting massive FSCI, such an inference is strongly resisted.)

    5: Crandaddy: design (and designers) don’t come into play in ID argumentation at all except in reference to the self. To do so would be to beg the question of how we know the supposed artifact being postulated is designed.

    Precisely!

    The contention of the design thinker is that there are empirically detectable signs that reliably point to design. That is abundantly and routinely confirmed and relied upon all over the fields of science ands statistics, in court rooms, and in daily life.

    But, when major worldviews come into play, we see selective hyper-skepticism at work . . .

    GEM of TKI

  37. OOPS: Phinehas, forgive me . . .

  38. crandaddy –

    No, as I tried to explain above, design (and designers) don’t come into play in ID argumentation at all except in reference to the self.

    You seem to be saying that Intelligent Design and The Design Inference have nothing to do with design. I’m a tad confused.

    Bob

  39. Bob,

    ID is epistemic justification of design. The proper conclusion to an ID argument is “belief that P is designed, as opposed to having been wholly the product of nonrational processes, is warranted, or rationally justified” as opposed to “the proposition ‘P is designed’ is true”. The former is an epistemic statment about belief of the design of P, and the latter is an ontological statement about the actual relationship of P with a designing agent. There are no ontic cases of design in a design inference without question begging unless one includes one’s own design as the paradigm for comparison. No other starting point will do without question begging.

  40. Crandaddy:

    Well said!

    I add, that on matters of fact in the world of experiences [including scientific experiences], we are not able to access universally compelling demonstrative evidence, so we make in effect provisional but well-warranted knowledge — or, at least, “warranted belief/assertability” — claims.

    To then play selective hyper-skeptical games because we don’t like where the evidence on the design issue points, is to beg worldview level questions through applying inconsistent epistemological standards.

    GEM of TKI

  41. Compare and contrast:

    No, as I tried to explain above, design (and designers) don’t come into play in ID argumentation at all except in reference to the self.

    and

    ID is epistemic justification of design.

    How can you justify design if it doesn’t come into play? It has to be part of the argument – epistemic or otherwise.

    Note how design comes into play here:

    “belief that P is designed, as opposed to having been wholly the product of nonrational processes, is warranted, or rationally justified”

    The only way I can make sense of your argument is if you’re arguing for a subjectivist approach to design detection. Are you arguing that that is how ID approaches design detection?

    Bob

  42. Bob

    Epistemology has to do withthe intersection of he subjective and the objective: it is minds who know, but knowledge is not just willy-nilly perception or belief.

    It is warranted, at least provisionally. And in the empirical, factual world, this holds with double force. Such warrant is not demonstrative, but is credible and reasonable, indeed, most of what we say we know reduces to this pattern.

    Science, in general, works by observations and abductive inferences to explanations, which are subjected to empirical tests,and so is an instance of this dame pattern.

    The inference to design, as has been outlined above, is therefore not at all unique in any adverse sense, as has already been discussed.

    Indeed, we all routinely make inferences to design.

    But; what is happening is that the evidence in some cases of interest points in directions that make the adherents of the institutionally powerful evolutionary materialism of our day uncomfortable. So, they are resorting to selective hyper-skepticism.

    GEM of TKI

  43. kairosfocus – I can’t make head nor tail of what you’re trying to say. What dies the “It” at the start of your second paragraph refer to?

    Bob

  44. Hi Bob:

    The “It” refers to the immediately preceding sentence — perhaps re-blocking the paragraphs may help untangle my meaning?

    “. . . knowledge is not just willy-nilly perception or belief. It is warranted, at least provisionally . . .”

    My underlying context, the nature, process and limitations of scientific knowledge claims, is discussed a bit more, here. Maybe that section will help?

    The key point there is first that knowledge, classically, is “justified, true belief.” Plantinga has adjusted this in light of so-called Gettier counter-examples, introducing the term, WARRANT, which in effect means that the beliefs are objectively credible not just subjectively so. [GCE's work off rather artificial cases where a person is justified personally in holding a belief, and it happens to be true, but the subjective justification is not objectively tenable.)

    Also, I have partly discussed much of the same above.

    Have you done any courses or readings in the phil of science?

    I ask that, as, once we ask the sort of Q's in this thread, that is what we are discussing, not science proper; and while Crandaddy in no. 40 makes a very good summary, that is only going to work for those familiar with the findings, issues and themes of that province of philosophy.

    --> He is in effect marking out the distinction between claiming to know [studied under Epistemology] and the actuality of what really is so [studied under Metaphysics, and this includes ontology]

    –> The design inference works in a world in which we know already that designers do exist, and that FSCI is a reliable marker of design in such cases where we know the causal story directly.

    –> C then looks at the idea that has been current ever since at least Plato’s discussion in his The Laws, Book 10 [cf Appendix 2 in my always linked], namely, that there are unintelligent causal forces: chance and/or necessity, and also intelligent ones, i.e agency.

    –> C then observes that ID thinkers are inferring from FSCI as a reliable marker of agency/design, as opposed to chance and/or necessity only.

    –> Thus, where we see FSCI we are warranted to infer to agency as the active cause, using commonplace scientific and statistical methods of reasoning.

    –> The root of many an objection is of course that many object to the possibility that such a designer may well be the God of theism. But, in principle, we are not looking at who the designer may be, but at whether there are epirically observable signs that on a well-warranted basis, point to design.

    –> My own point is that the rejection of this claim, invariably ends up in inconsistent standards in evaluating empirical evidence, i.e fallacious, worldviews level question-begging special pleading, what I have called “selective hyper-skepticism.”

    –> In short, the ID chain of reasoning does not actually demand anything more than being open to the possibility of a designer — whose nature and/or identity are not specified or assumed — who may exist at the relevant point in time.

    –> Once the possibility is on the table then the evidence of observed fine-tuning or FSCI or irreducible complexity or whatever, counts towards warrant of the claim that design was present, thence, a designer. [Notice how this step-by-step process of reasoning from the identified start-points avoids begging the question.]

    I hope that helps . . .

    All the best

    GEM of TKI

  45. Excellent summation, Kariosfocus!

  46. Have you done any courses or readings in the phil of science?

    Yes, I’ve even published on the subject. I’m interested in what Crandaddy is arguing, because he seems to be suggesting a subjectivist epistemology of design: that’s the only way I can parse his statement that design only comes into play with reference to the self.

    Bob

  47. Yes, I suppose you might call it a subjectivist epistemology since ID argumentation relies upon empiricism, and design cannot be linked to observed states of affairs without an essentially subjective point of view. The necessary ingredient of intentionality is essentially subjective, after all.

    The design of other minds–if it is to be epistemically justified on empirical grounds–must have a basis of comparison with known cases of design with the accompanying intentional states. Hence, only one’s own design will do.

  48. …design cannot be linked to observed states of affairs without an essentially subjective point of view.

    Isn’t that just saying “if it looks designed, then it is”?

    The design of other minds … must have a basis of comparison with known cases of design with the accompanying intentional states.

    This can only be done in the case of human design (as we’re the only designers we’re aware of), so are you arguing that ID can only detect human designers?

    Hmmm, I guess that provides a watertight defence against the “goddidit” accusation.

    Bob

  49. Isn’t that just saying “if it looks designed, then it is”?

    No, the subjective part is important, but there is also an objective part–characteristic observable properties of (some) designed objects.

    This can only be done in the case of human design (as we’re the only designers we’re aware of), so are you arguing that ID can only detect human designers?

    Again, human design is the wrong starting point. Remember me talking about question begging? I know one human designs–namely me. Do other humans design? Seems probable, but which ones and how many? Are all effects produced by human bodies designed? How do we know? As you should see, we run into intractable problems very quickly. Simply put: That a physical human body moves is not sufficient grounds to warrant a belief that a subsequent physical effect is designed. Such a shaky argument opens the door to all kinds of trouble.

  50. No, the subjective part is important, but there is also an objective part–characteristic observable properties of (some) designed objects.

    OK, but this is of course irrelevant to ID, as it doesn’t postulate a designer for its arguments. Obviously you need to postulate a designer in order to talk about an object which is designed.

    Bob

  51. Bob (& Crandaddy & onlookers):

    First, I am astonished see the contrast between your “I don’t understand” stuff above, and the recent remark that you are a published writer on epistemology.

    That makes all the above “help me, here” stuff come across as a charade — what in my native land would be called “playing fool fe ketch wise.”

    I am not impressed by such rhetorical games with phil, as the real issue seems to be “I disagree, not I don’t understand.” Perhaps, though — swallowing irritation [Gulp!] — at a subtler level indeed there is a want of understanding, shaped by over-riding worldview level assumptions and perceptions [[cf. the discussion on the related fallacy that may descriptively be termed, selective hyper-skepticism: imposing question-beggingly inconsistent standards of warrant]. So, Let us pause and look at a few points.

    1] Starting with Josiah Royce

    This C19 philosopher, as Trueblood was fond of pointing out, started from a point of universal agreement: “Error exists.” This is also UNDENIABLY TRUE — to attempt to deny it, would instantiate an error, verifying it. This undeniably true claim similarly entails that truth exists as what is there to be in error about, and that knowledge exists, as it exemplifies well-warranted, credibly true belief.

    More significantly for your apparent stance, we see here a bridge between the subjective and the objective: those facts, truths and points of knowledge that — however provisionally, given our proneness to error — we discover, not merely assert willy-nilly or invent.As Trueblood observes in his classic, General Philosophy:

    All thought, including all of the criteria we develop in order to criticise our thought, must, in the nature of things, be subjective, but, the very effort to create means of self-criticism entails the notion that our thought refers to that which is more than subjective . . . all evidence is finally judged by our own inner certitude, but on the other hand our certitude is concerned characteristically with something which it is trying to discover, that is, something which, of itself, is independent of our own perspectives . . . . Only by the acceptance of such a dictum is it possible to maintain a distinction between appearance and reality.

    By the very act of intervening in this discussion and using a strategy intended to expose perceived error, you implicitly accept the above core propositions. So we can take it, that you understand and accept that — however provisional our knowledge and warrant for such a claim may be given our status as finite and fallible creatures — objective truth exists, objective [though incomplete and possibly partly erroneous] knowledge of such truth also.

    As was discussed in the already linked summary on basic philosophical technique, this holds a fortiori for scientific knowledge claims. [Nor, do I have time or space for Plato's Cave games and associated discussions on the notion that our senses and minds are so error-riddled that we should not at least provisionally trust them, for such are self-undermining, as discussed. On inference to best explanation, we may safely reject them.]

    Thence, it holds for the discussion of the inference to design relative to credible evidence and generally accepted, applicable principles of warrant for that inference, similar to those used in the Fisherian approach to hypothesis testing. [I know from other threads you incline to Bayesianism. I invite you to look at Dembski's paper on his site on the subject of why it is that Fisher rules the roost in practical statistics. For my purposes, on pain of selective hyper-skepticism, you have to reckon with that fact, that we are looking at an approach that is generally accepted and effective. We have no need to leap a higher bar, as such evidentialism exposes itself through worldview level question-begging and probable self-referential inconsistency.]

    Okay . . .

  52. 2] If it looks designed, then it is . . .

    This repeated dismissal attempt short-circuits the process of warrant for the inference to design, a process that is in fact routinely applied in practical situations in science, statistics, the courtroom, auditing, management and daily life.

    I have already summarised that process in post no 45, which you do not engage. Given your rhetorical stance, that may not be surprising, but it is noteworthy.

    What is missing is that there are certain observed, reliable markers of design, in the context of distinguishing agency or “art” from chance and/or necessity [using Plato's terms from his The Laws, Book X; long since echoed by Monod in his famous 1970's book on evolution].

    Chief among these are

    –> complex, specified information [In referring to “functionally specified complex information,” I am highlighting how that specification is made, cf my always linked],

    –> complex multidimensional fine-tuning to facilitate a given observed function [ever had to tune a sensitive process control system?], and

    –> the irreducible complexity of many systems that use multiple co-adapted parts to carry out a function [ever had a car break down because one part failed?].

    In short, the inference to design is an objective, empirically anchored project.

    3] This can only be done in the case of human design (as we’re the only designers we’re aware of)

    This evidently, massively, begs the worldview question and raises the issue of selective hyper-skepticism.

    For, “design” is not dependent on human-ness, but on agency – here, the capacity to undertake intentional, effective actions that may affect the state of the world. We observe known cases of such agency in action, and note that there are certain markers that often appear and in our observation these markers are reliable indicators of design; so much so that we routinely rely on such inferences.

    Now, perhaps there are many actual instances of design that do not meet the identified criteria,but that is immaterial, as we are perfectly willing to miss cases that are open to reasonable doubt. (That is, we do not need to have an infallible guide to any and all cases of design, just a guide that identifies cases empirically and reliably. And, on a vast body of evidence and action, we do.)

    So, we have a set of well-received, commonly acted on empirical signs of intelligent design, an artifact of agency. What then should we do, in a case where the possible or apparent agency would be credibly not human? [The existence and acceptance – even celebration -- of the SETI project is practical answer enough: we are in praxis willing to accept that there may be non-human agents, whose agency can be detected by empirical signs, e.g. an electromagnetic signal that encodes discrete-state information elements such as Sagan's classic string of primes.]

    H’mm, why then – apart from worldviews level question-begging — do we, e.g., now see a suspicion against those who point to an already existing string of discrete state elements that encode meaningful and functional information in a code we can at least partly understand?

    [I of course here speak to the DNA code, where we see strings of 4-state elements that go way beyond the reasonable reach of chance and necessity alone in the observed cosmos. FYI, with 250 meaningful elements, we have a configuration space in excess of 10^150 states, and in praxis we are orders of magnitudes beyond that in living systems, 500k – 3 bn elements. So, the islands of functionality are so isolated in the config spaces that their arrival by chance and/or necessity alone is so maximally improbable as to be well beyond the skirts of acceptance on the null hyp. On inference to best explanation, they cry out for agency as the obvious and best explanation of such massive FSCI. Nor does resort to quasi-infinite unobserved wider cosmos as a whole models escape the force of this, as that is a naked metaphysical speculation and the comparative difficulties relative to what we do observe immediately leads to the inference that this is an inferior and ad hoc attempt to explain away what would otherwise be devastating.]

    GEM of TKI

  53. kairosfocus –

    First, I am astonished see the contrast between your “I don’t understand” stuff above, and the recent remark that you are a published writer on epistemology.

    Firstly, I didn’t claim to have published in epistemology, but in philosophy of science.

    Secondly, my lack of understanding was due to the lack of clarity in your writing – one can be as learned in the arts as possible, but if one is unable to work out what the subject of a sentence is supposed to be, it makes things difficult.

    It’s also evident that you have a different approach to the epistemology than crandaddy, i.e. you accept that ID must postulate a designer. I got involved in this because crandaddy’s comment looked absurd, so I wanted to find out if it was, or if there was something more behind it. I’ve been trying not to get myself dragged into a deep discussion with you, simply because I don’t like being part of two conversations on one thread.

    Bob

  54. Indeed, if the designer could be established by empirical evidence, it would immediately eliminate the ‘Intelligent Designer’ as proposed by ID, namely a supernatural designer called ‘God’.
    –PvM

    So, are you willing to concede design and begin the search for the designer wherever that may lead?

    Or are you saying you will only concede design if the designer is found not to be God? Can’t say there is a lot of intellecutal integrity in that one.

  55. When reading the replies of those who support Darwinism defending their beliefs I believe a line from Behe’s current Amazon blog on Ken Miller is often appropriate. It is

    “instead of giving a text its best interpretation, he gives it the worst he can.”

    I rarely see an honest attempt by a Darwinist to understand, but mostly attempts to misrepresent, find some flaw, some minor error in expression or in other words some irrelevant minutiae. On most blogs the replies will extend to ad hominems but here because they are not tolerated, they are usually not part of the response.

    Sometimes the responses may be from a genuine lack of misunderstanding but mostly they seem be a deliberate strategy to vex, distract or to confuse. I find very little enlightenment coming from a Darwinist. There are a couple of very obvious people who do not fit this pattern and whose responses sharpen one’s thinking and expand our understanding on relevant matters.

  56. Well said, Jerry

  57. Bob:

    A few further observations, if you don’t mind.

    But first, a couple of contrasting cites:

    Trib7, 46: Excellent summation, Kariosfocus!

    Bob, 54: my lack of understanding was due to the lack of clarity in your writing . . .

    I think it is ever clearer that the root issue is “I disagree,” not “I don’t understand.” But then, when one disagrees strongly enough it can often be very hard to make out what is being said — “How can this guy be SO wrong-headed . . .?”

    I am willing to try again, as maybe I can help clarify [at least for onlookers, who are part of such a forum], even at this late stage in the game.

    [BTW, on fair comment, I note that the antecedent to "It" above in 43 and 45 was, in fact IMHCO not so hard to figure out; especially for one sufficiently knowledgeable in epistemology to be published in Phil of Sci. That branch of phil, of course,is in large part precisely concerned with epistemology, as the meaning of "Science" in English -- i.e "knowledge" -- eloquently testifies. Pardon me if the tone comes across as a bit strong, but I believe some balance is appropriate on this point, in a world where "you are unclear" may be taken as "you don't know what you are saying."]

    Now, on points:

    1] It’s also evident that you have a different approach to the epistemology than crandaddy, i.e. you accept that ID must postulate a designer

    Nope, I point out that we must not beg the major question ahead of time by ruling out the POSSIBILITY of a designer in relevant cases, as I have already said in more or less just those words.

    Once we accept that agency, necessity and/or agency may act causally in a situation, we may proceed to address whether or how we may distinguish their effects. On that, I then pointed to our experience as a basis for knowing several reliable markers [cf 40, 41, 43, 45 above, and my always linked for details]. Then, when we inspect several relevant cases we see that on inference to best explanation, we have credible grounds for accepting design as that best explanation.

    2] Splitting the opposition?

    Crandaddy,in 40, is in fact quite compatible with my own thought:

    ID is epistemic justification of design. The proper conclusion to an ID argument is “belief that P is designed, as opposed to having been wholly the product of nonrational processes, is warranted, or rationally justified” as opposed to “the proposition ‘P is designed’ is true”. . . .

    In short, C is accepting the provisionality and defeatability of scientific reasoning, as I have. He then addresses the issue of warranting empirically anchored claims on whether certain things are best explained by reference to chance and/or necessity ["nonrational processes"],vs agency. He points out that a properly carried out ID inference will be a superior — [currently and provisionally] better warranted — explanation, as opposed to a claim to have arrived at the perfect truth of what is.

    All of this parallels what I have said, and it is in turn an excellent summary of the thinking of the way ID thinkers handle relevant phil of sci issues in a post- Peirce, post- Popper, post- Kuhn, post-Lakatos [etc etc] world.

    3] crandaddy’s comment looked absurd

    Crandaddy looks crystal clear, coherent, and nuanced — not to mention, well-warranted — to me.

    But, often, what someone else says appears absurd because it cuts across our own concepts.

    [For instance, is it possible to be at just one point on the face of the earth and be due north of New York, London and Tokyo? ANS: The N pole. But in my experience we often don't think of the earth as having a spherical surface, and so it seems absurd to many at first. A lot of Physics is like that, and a fair bit of phil (and theology) too.]

    In short, “clear to me” and “clear” may well often diverge.

    4] I don’t like being part of two conversations on one thread

    I believe there is but one conversation,as this is in effect a forum and I am speaking to the same issues as Crandaddy, and am bringing out some of the context for his remarks, as seen just above.

    ___________

    Trust that my remarks at least help onlookers [who are also part of the circle in a public forum like this], even if it does not help you.

    GEM of TKI

  58. OOPS: “agency, chance and/or necessity may act causally . . .”

  59. Bravo, Kairosfocus! It looks like you understand this stuff better than I!

  60. I think it is ever clearer that the root issue is “I disagree,” not “I don’t understand.”

    Sorry, no. This is simply wrong. I don’t appreciate your accusations of bad faith – it would be nice if we could sort this out without being unpleasant towards each other.

    1] It’s also evident that you have a different approach to the epistemology than crandaddy, i.e. you accept that ID must postulate a designer

    Nope, I point out that we must not beg the major question ahead of time by ruling out the POSSIBILITY of a designer in relevant cases, as I have already said in more or less just those words.

    We come back to the one question I’ve been trying to get an answer to: how can you make a decision to rule out a designer, if you don’t first postulate a designer?

    I’m wondering if the problem here is over different understandings of what “to postulate” means.

    It’s perhaps worth repeating the OED definition I posted earlier:

    4. trans. To posit or assume (a proposition); to claim (explicitly or tacitly) the existence, fact, or truth of (a thing); to take for granted; to assume the possibility of (a process, operation, etc.); esp. to suggest, require, or assume as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or action. Hence, loosely: to put forward as a theory; to propose, hypothesize (something). Freq. with clause as object. (Now the usual sense.)

    Now, in order to decide to rule out design, I think it’s clear that one has to postulate design first (in the sense of “to assume the possibility of”).

    This discussion is replete with people talking about inferring design, but nobody has told me how they can do that without postulating a designer. My point is simple. My simplification of the design process would be this:

    1. Observe that a system could have come about through
    a. blind processes
    b. design

    2. Make observations and do some calculations. If these show that blind processes are unlikely to have created the system, then infer design.

    Note that in step 1, one is postulating design. This is contrary to crandaddy’s statement that “ID theorists don’t postulate a designer for their arguments”.
    If crandaddy’s statement is right, then I would like someone to explain to me how all this is possible.

    My guess is that crandaddy didn’t mean quite what he wrote – perhaps he meant that ID theorists don’t postulate any properties of the designer. But I’m speculating about this: I’ve been trying to get a clear explanation of what he meant, but without success. I’m sure this is due to an inability on both of our sides to communicate effectively.

    Bob

  61. Bob:

    First, Please note that I took pains to observe that “i disagree” is often the root of “I don’t understand,” especially in cases of those who are more sophisticated than a newbie.

    Recall here, your “I do not understand[s],” including, from 43:

    Epistemology has to do with the intersection of he subjective and the objective: it is minds who know, but knowledge is not just willy-nilly perception or belief.

    It is warranted, at least provisionally. And in the empirical, factual world, this holds with double force. Such warrant is not demonstrative, but is credible and reasonable, indeed, most of what we say we know reduces to this pattern.

    One who is sufficiently trained in phil to have published in phil of science, should be familiar with both the classic concept of knowledge as “justified, true belief,” and the latter-day adjustments in light of Gettier counter-examples, to warrant. Similarly, one should know that warrant comes in degrees and that scientific knowledge in particular is provisional. On that basis, an epistemologically sophisticated person should not have had serious difficulties with the above citation. (Hence the significance of my analysis in a nutshell in 58.

    Now, this underlies the points:

    1] how can you make a decision to rule out a designer, if you don’t first postulate a designer?

    First, there IS a postulate at work, one that goes back to Plato, the Laws Book X, and was by his further statement there, ancient in his day:

    . . . we have . . . lighted on a strange doctrine . . . . The wisest of all doctrines, in the opinion of many . . . . The doctrine that all things do become, have become, and will become, some by nature, some by art, and some by chance . . .

    Plato then of course goes on to make the oldest declaration of the design inference on the origins of the cosmos [and by implication of his context, of life too] that is on record.

    In short, I am — by accepting the Platonic trichotomy on causal forces relevant to things that have a beginning thus are caused — refusing to beg the question by explicitly or implicitly ruling out the possibility of intelligent agency at cosmogenesis, or biogenesis. (Especially, on questionable grounds like asserting so-called methodological naturalism as a ground rule of science, or by confusing agency with human agency.)

    Thus, there is all the material difference in the world between “postulating a designer” and postulating the possibility of agency as a cause alongside chance and/or necessity. For, the latter then opens up the comparative difficulties process across the live options, relative to factual adequacy, coherence and elegance vs ad hocn-ess or simplistic-ness.

    Then, as 45 summarises, we bring to bear what we empirically know are reliable signs of agency, and we see that agency is the only factually adequate force that explains the observed FSCI, fine-tuning, and irreducible complexity in the relevant cases. [Cf always linked.]

    2] This discussion is replete with people talking about inferring design, but nobody has told me how they can do that without postulating a designer

    I again, just pointed out the actual Platonic causal force trichotomy postulate, which you keep rejecting in favour of your own as — again — just cited. (In short, you are evidently not seeing where we ARE — explicitly and repeatedly — coming from,and are instead seeing where you think we “must be” coming from.)

    3] . . . in step 1, one is postulating design.

    In step 1 you actually write, with my emphasis and augmentation: Observe that a system could have come about through a. blind processes [chance and/or necessity] b. design . . .

    To postulate that something COULD have originated by chance and/or necessity and/or agency is not the same at all as to postulate — assert or assume as a start point for reasoning — agency.

    Your step 2, to look at evidence potentially able to discriminate between the three forces with some degree of warrant, is a direct reflection of this difference. For, if one is looking at the possibility that one cannot tell that an agent was at work, and thus has as null hypothesis, that chance and/or necessity are causally adequate, one cannot at the same time be assuming the existence of such a designer as the relevant cause.

    4] I’ve been trying to get a clear explanation . . . but without success. I’m sure this is due to an inability on both of our sides to communicate effectively.

    If you keep making the substitution that we see just above, no explanation will be “successful” in you estimation. But, that’s because you have inadvertently assumed what was to be shown, and have then again and again read it into all presentations to the contrary.

    Please, look at what we design thinkers ever since at least Plato — surely, no incompetent in philosophy — have been saying, not what you think we must be saying.

    GEM of TKI

  62. Bob O’H,

    You said

    “Sorry, no. This is simply wrong. I don’t appreciate your accusations of bad faith – it would be nice if we could sort this out without being unpleasant towards each other”

    I think there is rampant bad faith going on here. How could one ever postulate (according to your definition) that design can not happen when design is rampant around us? That would be a silly, nonsense discussion.

    What Crandaddy was saying is that ID does not presuppose that a certain phenomena assumes a designer, not that design can not possibly happen. So this whole discussion has been an absurdity. If you had introduced your definition of postulate at comment 12 this discussion of postulating a designer would have terminated long ago probably at a few comments after that.

    Let me know what your definition of “bad faith” is.

  63. H’mm: I think Bob would benefit from a re-reading of my 23, wherein I introduced the platonic trichotomy of causal forces in this thread. The lead-up discussion on abductive reasoning will also be helpful. (BTW, Bob introduced his dictionary def’n in no 18, and in part 23 was responsive to that.)

  64. So I apologize to Bob because he did introduce his definition earlier but it was obvious the discussion was over irrelevant minutiae. By that the meaning of postulate was at the essence of the discussion and it seemed not to be clarified.

    Let me show what an example of “good faith” would have been that would have short-circuited most if not all of the following the discussion about “postulate”.

    If in comment 12 Bob O’H had said

    “Crandaddy, I do not think you should use the word postulate because I do not believe you are using it correctly. The word ‘postulate’ implies the assumption of something so when you use it in the negative sense you are actually assuming it doesn’t exist or in this case that there is no possibility of a designer and thus when you infer design you will have a contradiction. How could you have design without the presence of a designer? Instead you a different phraseology such as ‘We do not assume that any particular event or phenomena is designed or has a designer but only infer it is designed from the evidence.’ ”

    Maybe someone could provide a better way that Bob O’H could have phrased his comment in 12. But if he had said the previous, how much of the discussion after comment 12 would have taken place.

  65. Jerry – I appreciate your effort. The reason I didn’t take the approach you suggest is that I wouldn’t want to make any presuppositions about why crandaddy wrote what he did. There are several possible reasons for why he could have written that, and I would prefer to start out by trying to find out what exactly crandaddy meant – if I interpret wrong, things just get even slower, as we have to sort out that confusion first.

    What Crandaddy was saying is that ID does not presuppose that a certain phenomena assumes a designer, not that design can not possibly happen.

    The problem, of course, it that’s not what he wrote. I think if he had replied to say that, then this would have been sorted earlier.

    Bob

  66. Bob O’H,

    It is extremely unlikely that anyone here advocating intelligent design would assume that a designer was not possible.

    But from the discussion it seems that this is a postulate of the current science community. Is it a postulate of your science or philosophy of science and if so why?

    And if it is not then then you should accept the possibility of a designer that is not human. Then the only quarrel you should have with the ID people is whether the evidence they present is supportive or not of a designer of biological organisms.

  67. jerry – excuse me if I don’t answer your question. I’m still trying to get a straight answer to the question I’ve been asking about crandaddy’s post, so I don’t want to get sidetracked.

    If someone wants to start another thread on your questions, that’s fine though.

    Bob

  68. Bob: …I don’t want to get sidetracked.

    Sidetracked from what?!? Straining at gnats? Grasping at straws?

    If you ever got sidetracked from the minutiae, you might have to address really substantive stuff, like, say, kairosfocus’ post at 62.

    Good grief.

  69. Phinehas – sidetracked from getting an answer to the question I’ve been asking. I didn’t think it was such a big deal, but I still haven’t been given an answer: I still don’t know if crandaddy actually meant what he did, or if he was trying to say something else. It really wouldn’t have been a big deal if I had received a direct answer the first time I had asked the question (or possibly the second, if some clarification had been required).

    If I take what crandaddy wrote at face value, then everything kairosfocus wrote becomes nonsense, so this is a substansive.

    Bob

  70. Bob:

    First, look carefully at Crandaddy’s post at 60:

    Bravo, Kairosfocus! It looks like you understand this stuff better than I!

    In short, he has explicitly endorsed what I have said. He also did so in away that directly entails that if there is a difference between what he originally said and what I said, he prefers what I said. (In that context,to try to fixate on what he originally said — as you have interpreted it — would therefore be to tilt at a strawman.)

    Moreover, in fact what C originally said and what I have said are actually compatible, indeed, I have simply expanded the context by bringing out the underlying Platonic trichotomy of causal forces and addressing a little more the question of warrant.

    Indeed, going back to the original post, let us all observe again what Crandaddy said, in light of what has now passed under the bridge:

    ID theorists don’t postulate a designer for their arguments. Any talk of “the designer” they do is based upon an ontological status of design which is assumed due to a (supposedly) valid design inference. That talk of “the designer” can be misleading and confusing is why I, personally, don’t like to use the term–at least not without making clear the context in which I use it. As I explained above, you don’t go about searching for design by looking for designers; you infer its presence from the explanatory inadequecy of epistemic nondesign processes (chance and necessity). This is the heuristic procedure for design inferences at all levels–animal, human, ET, God, or whatever. If naturalistic nondesign explanations are the only type allowed at the biological and cosmological levels, then why not impose the same restriction on scientific explanations at the human level? . . . Are what I take to be the letters, symbols, and spaces of PvM’s post actual conveyors of semantic content, or did he just have a seizure at his computer? I guess we just don’t know.

    –> The highlighted sections make it crystal clear that C is looking at first the fact of observed agency in our world — a datum of our everyday and scientific behaviour.

    –> He also draws out the point that we have no consistent naturalistic basis for confining inference to agency to inferring to HUMAN agency, raising the issue that since first person experience of design and agency is applied by inference to second and third person objects, i.e other human agents, we can reasonably extend that to other potential candidates to be agents, e.g. ET’s [cf here the widely approved research area known as SETI], or even God [cf. here the rich variety of reported second person -- i.e interpersonal -- experiences of God].

    –> So, he explicitly denies that ID thinkers are begging the question; indeed to my mind this claim that we are arguing in a circle looks more and more like a turnabout accusation by those who wish to impose evolutionary materialist metaphysical assumptions under the label methodological naturalism!

    –> Instead, he lays out the Platonic trichotomy of possible causes and highlights that it is after examining empirical evidence capable of testing the null hyp that chance and/or necessity [aka non-rational causes] are adequate to explain relevant phenomena, that on finding the null to fail, we conclude there is a credible warrant for inferring that say FSCI is the product of agency, e.g. in the cellular nanotechnology of life as observed.

    –> He then concludes that discussion of the designer by ID thinkers is plainly after the fact of such an inference. (He also notes how the discussion of designers is apt to cloud the atmosphere for discussing the inferential chain just laid out yet again.)

    Now, B, you ate by your own admission, a published author on phil of sci. One does not get to that level without being able to read and analyse methodological arguments such as C laid out originally and as he and I have amplified. So, there is a reasonable presumption of capacity to properly read and interpret such argument as as are cited and as have appeared over the life of this thread.

    Yet, we see what looks a lot like either naive and confused misreadings, or else projection of an over-riding assumption of what we “must” be saying [backed up in cases by inferences that we cannot communicate clearly enough], or else some very familiar dishonest and disrespectful rhetorical stratagems commonly used by Darwinist advocates in addressing ID.

    (In short, you owe us an explanation of the patent misreadings of what we have said, if only in defence of your reputation.)

    But that would still not address the material issue. Let us focus that by suitably adapting your own summary of our case:

    . . . .

  71. Adapting you, at 61 above:

    1. Observe [as the Platonic Hypothesis, PH] that a [contingent and caused] system could have come about through a. blind processes [chance and/or necessity alone] b. design [which can also partly use/adapt to chance and/or necessity but will -- if active -- in at least some cases inject characteristic products of intelligence at work]

    1A: As a null hyp, H0, we infer that the test system was produced by a not b. Thus b is the Alt hyp 1 [AH1].

    2A. Make observations and do some calculations [relevant to the credibility of the null hyp, e.g accounting for complex, specified information that is core-functional, as in the DNA- ribosome -enzyme etc machines in the cell].

    [2B] If these show that blind processes are [maximally] unlikely to have created the system [on the scope of the observed cosmos, i.e the resulting probabilities on reasonable grounds fall significantly below 1 in 10^150 or so, a metric of the number of quantum states possible in the obsevred cosmos over its lifespan] , then infer design [AH1, as on comparative difficulties across competing explanatory models, the most credible].

    4] If resort is made to alt hyp 2, AH2: such probabilities are swallowed up by a quasi-infinite unobserved wider cosmos as a whole, we note that his is a resort to naked metaphysics, and address the resulting worldviews debate on comparative difficulties, noting that this is an ex post facto, ad hoc, counter-observational assertion. [Absent a new physics, we cannot observe a quasi-infinite wider cosmos as a whole].

    5] If alt hyp 3, AH 3 is imposed: we may only infer to entities compatible with evolutionary materialist models of origins while playing the game “science”, we observe that this is question-begging and diverts science from its proper role as an empirically grounded search for the truth about the world in which we live.

    So, we lay out the Platonic hypothesis, PH, examine H0 and AH1, inferring to AH1 relative to empirical evidence on inference to best explanation across empirically anchored comparative difficulties [cf my always linked for a survey]. Since AH2 and/or 3 are often suggested at this stage, we address them as noted, in their proper domain, philosphy, not science. The conclusion remains that AH 1 is the most credible.

    On the basis of all of the above, we conclude that it is credible that certain key entities/ phenomena in our observed universe are credibly artifacts of agency: [I] origin of the observed, for-life fine-tuned cosmos, [II] origin of cellular, FSCI based life, [III] origin of body-plan level biodiversity, [IV] origin of mind — what Ms O’Leary and others call the four big bangs.

    When looked at at worldviews level,as a cluster, it is plain on the need to explain I to IV factually adequately, coherently and elegantly, that the basic worldview of theism is now back on the table of the great ongoing debate in Western culture. It is the implications of that renewed vigour as a live option that is fuelling the strong, hostile reaction from committed evolutionary materialists, who happen to be institutionally dominant.

    Their consistent resort to misleading or outright deceptive rhetorical stratagems, is strong evidence that they have lost the worldviews level discussion and are resorting to the naked appeal to common vulnerabilities in how we think, and/or to outright intimidation or even in key cases, oppressive and unjust behaviour. In short, we are seeing a “long train of abuses and usurpations” pursuing an obvious end, and evincing a clear design. (Of course, many others are simply parrotting what they have been told by those they have unwisely trusted. But beyond a certain point, refusing to address the issue on the merits while insisting on patent misrepresentations brings an educated thinker into the sad province of complicity in the propaganda agenda against design thinking.)

    So, B, the ball is in your court. You will understand why, beyonfd a certain point, we will be forced tot he reluctant conclusion that you are not being sincere with us. I have not reached that point yet [as, I can see how a strongly held presumption can distort one's ability to hear what another party is saying], but I want to hear from you good reason to stop short of it.

    In so doing, you will need to address the points laid out just above, based on your own summary of our case, suitably amended and expanded to better reflect where we — including C and I — are coming from.

    GEM of TKI

  72. Still waiting . . .

  73. pursuing an obvious end, and evincing a clear design.

    Nice :-)

  74. Hi Trib:

    I am simply alluding to the US DOI, 1776, 2nd para, which in part reads: when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design . . .

    Cf 30 above. [And notice a certain peculiar absence in this thread, paralleled with a lot of activity elsewhere . . . ]

    GEM of TKI

  75. I have noticed.

    Although, I confess that I didn’t pick up the DOI reference — on a tangent what scares me most about this debate is that those who wish to run society according to “scientific” principles can’t bring it upon themselves to concede that there are rights endowed by a Creator (I guess TJ was a creationist) which means they really don’t think there is such a thing as inalienable rights which means those who dissent from their belief system get the shaft if they should ever get the sword — I thought you were just making a point about the practical application of design inference.

  76. Trib7

    Actually, it is seriously arguable that not only Mr Jefferson but also his client were Creationists.

    He wrote not as an author on his own hook but as an advocate for the Congress and people of the emerging United States, at that time overwhelmingly Protestant [well over 90% as I recall], with Catholics most of the remainder and Jews a good fraction of the what was left. For instance, think about a then common word for describing people, animals and plants: creatures, or in the colloquial form: critters. [Even the semi-Deists [Jefferson, Franklin come to mind) were biblically-influenced Creationists and the few atheists were simply not detectable within the statistics.]

    Further to this, the Judaeo-Christian frame — on fairly easily accessible [but too often overlooked or improperly dismissed] evidence — decisively shaped the emergence of the the rise of modern liberty and democracy. This appears of course int he opening phrases of the famous 2nd paragraph of the 1776 DOI, which in turn strongly reflects the Calvinist Dutch DOI of 1581, and in fact may be partly dependent on it! (Cf the just linked.)

    [Such is of course hotly denied and fallaciously dismissed by the same ones who are ever so quick to reel off a litany of the real and imagined sins of Christendom, in their eagerness to indict Christians as inherent enemies of liberty. Thus, yet again a propaganda agenda stands exposed, and those who don't fact-check before spouting it, show their want of carefulness on facts.]

    You also observe that inalienability of rights is a specifically Creation-anchored concept.

    This is correct, and more to the point, historically, modern liberty and democracy emerged form the Judaeo-Christian frame, once the Bible was put in the hands of the ordinary man, as well as the means and Bible-anchored framework to resist tyranny.

    We must also note that of course such a framework can be abused and exploited to oppress by finite, fallible, fallen creatures such as we all are — as can any ideology [a point well-made by McGrath in rebuttal to Dawkins' latest fulminations against God]. But, historically, modern liberty by and large grew up in Biblical soil.

    Further to this, there is a fairly serious argument that the loss of respect for an inalienability framework for rights led to the rise of the unprecedentedly murderous evolutionism-inspired tyrannies of the past century, and/or to the rise of naked individualism that disrespects that basic duty of reciprocal benevolence that underlies sustainable community.

    In this context, it is noteworthy that it is not commonly known that Darwin was the FIRST Social Darwinist, and openly discussed genocide as reflecting his frame of thought. Not only in an infamous letter, but also in his The Descent of Man, as we discussed in a UD thread some months back now.

    So, you are right to be concerned about the potential for tyranny in evolutionary materialism. The fate of Mr Sternberg and Mr Gonzalez, the disrespect for truth and fairness on public debate and judicial argument, and more all point to a long train of abuses and usurpations evincing a ruthless and dangerous design that we must resist while we yet have the strength to do so.

    GEM of TKI

  77. PS: Link on Darwin’s Social Darwinism and its historical consequences in a line of descent in one key country; sadly, Germany.

  78. Great post KF. Wasn’t aware of the Dutch DOI but one would have to be pretty delusional to think the Founders weren’t.

    BTW, a response from Bob is now being awaited on another thread.

  79. Ah Trib:

    Thanks for the kind words.

    On Delusional: I once had an exchange of emails and posts with a professor that would make you shake your head. Sad.

    Bob: No surprise . . . but maybe he has answered just now, at least on one thread I have seen? [I would certainly like to hear back from him on the above, and note that from other threads he seems to be some sort of evo pop geneticist or something, so maybe he was not deeply aware of the underlying epistemology issues, publication on Phil of Sci notwithstanding? Of course this is now off the top page . . .]

    GEM of TKI

  80. Bob has answered on that thread, so I’ll throw this to the top and see if he can come back to your question.

  81. Trib:

    He has in the other thread declared that since Crandaddy hasn’t answered his question [!!!], he has walked away. (Of course, Cran answered properly starting with the original post and has passed the ball to me.)

    Also, on the Dutch DOI, here is an interesting point from the US founders:

    “In his Autobiography, Jefferson indicated that the “Dutch Revolution” gave evidence and confidence to the Second Continental Congress that the American Revolution could likewise commence and succeed . . . John Adams said that the Dutch charters had “been particularly studied, admired, and imitated in every State” in America, and he stated that “the analogy between the means by which the two republics [Holland and U.S.A.] arrived at independency… will infallibly draw them together.”

    Worth a thought or two, not only on what was going on back then, but on why this has been filtered out from what we have been taught . . . what design may this evince?

    GEM of TKI

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