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He said it: Prof Lewontin’s strawman “justification” for imposing a priori materialist censorship on origins science

Yesterday, in the P Z Myers quote-mining and distortion thread, I happened to cite Lewontin’s infamous 1997 remark in his NYRB article, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” on a priori imposition of materialist censorship on origins science, which reads in the crucial part:

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

To my astonishment, I was promptly accused of quote-mining and even academic malpractice, because I omitted the following two sentences, which — strange as it may seem –  some evidently view as justifying the above censoring imposition:

The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

To my mind, instead, these last two sentences are such a sad reflection of bias and ignorance, that their omission is an act of charity to a distinguished professor.

Similar, in fact, to how I also did not refer to the case prof Lewontin also cited, of what we were invited to believe was a “typical fundamentalist“  woman who disbelieved the TV broadcasts of the Moon landing in 1969 on grounds that she could not receive broadcasts from Dallas. By telling contrast, Lewontin somehow omitted to mention that the designer of the Moon rocket, Werner von Braun, was a Bible-believing, Evangelical Christian and Creationist who kept a well-thumbed Gideon Bible in his office.

The second saddest thing in this, is that ever so many now seem to be unaware that:

1: Historically, it was specifically that theistic confidence in an orderly cosmos governed by a wise and orderly Creator that gave modern science much of its starting impetus from about 1200 to 1700. Newton’s remarks in his General Scholium to his famous work, Principia (which introduces his Laws of Motion and Gravitation), are a classic illustration of this historical fact.

[Let me add an excerpt from the GS: "[[t]his most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being . . . It is allowed by all that the Supreme God exists necessarily; and by the same necessity he exists always, and every where. [[i.e. he accepts the cosmological argument to God] . . . We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause [[i.e from his designs] . . . Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. [[i.e. necessity does not produce contingency].  All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing. [[That is, he implicitly rejects chance, Plato's third alternative and explicitly infers to the Designer of the Cosmos.]“]

2: As C S Lewis and many other popular as well as technical theological and historical writers point out (cf. here, here and here), in theism, miracles are signs pointing from the ordinary course of the world to the special intervention of God. As such, a world in which miracles happen MUST be a world in which there is an ordinary, predictable day to day course of events — one that is amenable to science, rather than the rationality-sapping chaos Beck and Lewontin imagine.

3: Similarly, one of the major, well-known emphases of theism is our accountability before God as morally governed agents and stewards of our world. Such accountability is only reasonable in a cosmos where choices and actions have reliably predictable consequences. Such a world, again, is one in which science is possible.

4: In light of such facts, it is unsurprising that the leading scientists of the foundational era of modern science  often saw themselves as thinking God’s creative and sustaining thoughts after him.

5: Going beyond that, as Nancy Pearcey rightly pointed out in her 2005 article, “Christianity is a Science-starter, not a Science-stopper”:

Most historians today agree that the main impact Christianity had on the origin and development of modern science was positive.  Far from being a science stopper, it is a science starter . . . .

[T]his should come as no surprise.  After all, modern science arose in one place and one time only: It arose out of medieval Europe, during a period when its intellectual life was thoroughly permeated with a Christian worldview.  Other great cultures, such as the Chinese and the Indian, often developed a higher level of technology and engineering.  But their expertise tended to consist of practical know-how and rules of thumb.  They did not develop what we know as experimental science–testable theories organized into coherent systems.  Science in this sense has appeared only once in history.  As historian Edward Grant writes, “It is indisputable that modern science emerged in the seventeenth century in Western Europe and nowhere else.”[7]. . . .

The church fathers taught that the material world came from the hand of a good Creator, and was thus essentially good.  The result is described by a British philosopher of science, Mary Hesse: “There has never been room in the Hebrew or Christian tradition for the idea that the material world is something to be escaped from, and that work in it is degrading.”  Instead, “Material things are to be used to the glory of God and for the good of man.”[19] Kepler is, once again, a good example.  When he discovered the third law of planetary motion (the orbital period squared is proportional to semi-major axis cubed, or P[superscript 2] = a [superscript 3]), this was for him “an astounding confirmation of a geometer god worthy of worship.  He confessed to being ‘carried away by unutterable rapture at the divine spectacle of heavenly harmony’.”[20] In the biblical worldview, scientific investigation of nature became both a calling and an obligation.  As historian John Hedley Brooke explains, the early scientists “would often argue that God had revealed himself in two books—the book of His words (the Bible) and the book of His works (nature).  As one was under obligation to study the former, so too there was an obligation to study the latter.”[21] The rise of modern science cannot be explained apart from the Christian view of nature as good and worthy of study, which led the early scientists to regard their work as obedience to the cultural mandate to “till the garden”. . . .

Today the majority of historians of science agree with this positive assessment of the impact the Christian worldview had on the rise of science.  Yet even highly educated people remain ignorant of this fact.  Why is that? The answer is that history was founded as a modern discipline by Enlightenment figures such as Voltaire, Gibbon, and Hume who had a very specific agenda: They wanted to discredit Christianity while promoting rationalism.  And they did it by painting the middle ages as the “Dark Ages,” a time of ignorance and superstition.  They crafted a heroic saga in which modern science had to battle fierce opposition and oppression from Church authorities.  Among professional historians, these early accounts are no longer considered reliable sources.  Yet they set the tone for the way history books have been written ever since.  The history of science is often cast as a secular morality tale of enlightenment and progress against the dark forces of religion and superstition. Stark puts it in particularly strong terms: “The ‘Enlightenment’ [was] conceived initially as a propaganda ploy by militant atheists and humanists who attempted to claim credit for the rise of science.”[22] Stark’s comments express a tone of moral outrage that such bad history continues to be perpetuated, even in academic circles.  He himself published an early paper quoting the standards texts, depicting the relationship between Christianity and science as one of constant “warfare.”  He now seems chagrined to learn that, even back then, those stereotypes had already been discarded by professional historians.[23]

Today the warfare image has become a useful tool for politicians and media elites eager to press forward with a secularist agenda . . . [The whole article is well worth the read, here.]

Perhaps, the saddest thing is, even with such correction on the record, many will be so taken in by the myth of the ages-long war of religion attacking science, and by the caricature of the religious as “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked,” that they will still fail to see that the last two sentences cited from Lewontin above, provide not a justification for materialist censorship on the very definition and methods of science, but instead a further proof of just how ill-instructed, polarising and pernicious such a priori imposition of materialism is.

At the expense of simplicity (and while reserving the right to excerpt from the wider commented quote and using a link back to show the context), I have therefore decided to adjust the commented quotation as follows, to provide a correction on the record:

_____________

>> a key danger of putting materialistic philosophical blinkers on science is that it can easily lead on to the practical establishment of materialistic ideology under false colours of “truth” or the closest practical approximation we can get to it. Where that happens, those who object may then easily find themselves tagged and dismissed as pseudo-scientific (or even fraudulent) opponents of progress, knowledge, right and truth; which can then lead on to very unfair or even unjust treatment at the hands of those who wield power. Therefore, if religious censorship of science (as in part happened to Galileo etc.) was dangerous and unacceptable, materialist censorship must also be equally wrong.

Nor is this danger merely imaginary or a turn-about false accusation, as some would suggest.
For, we may read from Harvard Professor Richard Lewontin’s 1997 New York Review of Books review of the late Cornell Professor Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World, as follows:
. . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . .   the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen. [Perhaps the second saddest thing is that some actually believe that these last three sentences that express hostility to God and then back it up with a loaded strawman caricature of theism and theists JUSTIFY what has gone on before. As a first correction, accurate history -- as opposed to the commonly promoted rationalist myth of the longstanding war of religion against science -- documents (cf. here, here and here) that the Judaeo-Christian worldview nurtured and gave crucial impetus to the rise of modern science through its view that God as creator made and sustains an orderly world. Similarly, for miracles -- e.g. the resurrection of Jesus -- to stand out as signs pointing beyond the ordinary course of the world, there must first be such an ordinary course, one plainly amenable to scientific study. The saddest thing is that many are now so blinded and hostile that, having been corrected, they will STILL think that this justifies the above. But, nothingcan excuse the imposition of a priori materialist censorship on science, which distorts its ability to seek the empirically warranted truth about our world.][[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis added. (NB: The key part of this quote comes after some fairly unfortunate remarks where Mr Lewontin gives the "typical" example -- yes, we can spot a subtext -- of an ill-informed woman who dismissed the Moon landings on the grounds that she could not pick up Dallas on her TV, much less the Moon. This is little more than a subtle appeal to the ill-tempered sneer at those who dissent from the evolutionary materialist "consensus," that they are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. For telling counter-instance, Werner von Braun, the designer of the rocket that took NASA to the Moon, was an evangelical Christian and a Creationist.  Similarly, when Lewontin cites "eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck" as declaring that "anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything," drawing as bottom-line, the inference that "[[t]o appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen,” this is a sadly sophomoric distortion. One that fails to understand that, on the Judaeo-Christian theistic view, for miracles to stand out as signs pointing beyond the ordinary, there must first be an ordinary consistently orderly world, one created by the God of order who “sustains all things by his powerful word.” Also, for us to be morally accountable to God — a major theme in theism, the consequences of our actions must be reasonably predictable, i.e. we must live in a consistent, predictably orderly cosmos, one that would be amenable to science. And, historically, it was specifically that theistic confidence in an orderly cosmos governed by a wise and orderly Creator that gave modern science much of its starting impetus from about 1200 to 1700. For instance that is why Newton (a biblical theist), in the General Scholium to his famous work Principia, confidently said ”[[t]his most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being . . . It is allowed by all that the Supreme God exists necessarily; and by the same necessity he exists always, and every where. [[i.e. he accepts the cosmological argument to God] . . . We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause [[i.e from his designs] . . . Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. [[i.e. necessity does not produce contingency].  All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing. [[That is, he implicitly rejects chance, Plato's third alternative and explicitly infers to the Designer of the Cosmos.]” In such a context of order stamped in at creation and sustained through God’s power, for good reason, God may then act into the world in ways that go beyond the ordinary, i.e. miracles are possible but will inevitably be rare and in a context that points to such a higher purpose. For instance, the chief miracle claim of Christian thought, the resurrection of Jesus with 500+ witnesses is presented in the NT as decisive evidence for the truth of the gospel and authentication of God’s plan of redemption. So, since these contextual remarks have been repeatedly cited by objectors as though they prove the above cite is an out of context distortion that improperly makes Lewontin seem irrational in his claims,  they have to be mentioned, and addressed, as some seem to believe that such a disreputable “context” justifies the assertions and attitudes above!)]

Mr Lewontin and a great many other leading scientists and other influential people in our time clearly think that such evolutionary materialist scientism is the closest thing to the “obvious” truth about our world we have or can get. This has now reached to the point where some want to use adherence to this view as a criterion of being “scientific,” which to such minds is equivalent to “rational.”>>

______________

Well did Aristotle warn us in his The Rhetoric, Bk I Ch 2:

. . . persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile . . .

So revealing, then, is the Lewontin quote that it is no surprise that several months later, design thinker Philip Johnson, went on corrective record as follows:

For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”
. . . .   The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [Emphasis added.] [The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

Let us hope the above will sufficiently set the record straight that we can now clear the atmosphere of the miasma of poisonous caricatures of theism and theists, and address the substantial matter, the recovery of an objective understanding of what science is and how it should work. For, nothing can justify such a priori censorship as Lewontin advocates — and many others also (including very important official bodies), e.g. the US National Academy of Science and the US National Science Teacher’s Association.

In that interest, I suggest that we would profit from reflecting on this proposed restoration of the more historically warranted, and epistemologically justifiable understanding of what science should seek to be:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us trust, then, that cooler and wiser heads will now prevail and in the years ahead, science can and will be rescued from ideological censorship and captivity to Lewontinian-Saganian a priori evolutionary materialism presented in the name of science, through so-called methodological naturalism.

_______________

CONCLUSION (after a day of intense exchanges):

It seems to me that CD captured the essential problem in the false accusation of quote-mining, as early as comment no 3:

Evolutionists in general absolutely hate it when we use the words of authority figures like Crick and Lewontin against them. So when they say “Stop quote mining” what they actually mean is “Stop quoting!”

Bot is very much mistaken when [in comment no 1, cf below] he claims that Kairosfocus was “concealing the proper context of the quote”. The substantial point – that Lewontin demands an a priori, completely exclusive commitment to materialism – is not altered in any way by the lines that were omitted. What the likes of Bot also need to realise about quoting is that, when quoting, you have to start and end somewhere.

Quoting is an exercise in capturing the essence of the substantial point being made: not reproducing the complete work.

After over 100 further comments, much of it on tangential themes, it is quite evident that this summary still stands. END

_______

F/N: Smoking gun, courtesy Expelled. (HT: News.)

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218 Responses to He said it: Prof Lewontin’s strawman “justification” for imposing a priori materialist censorship on origins science

  1. To my mind, instead, these last two sentences are such a sad reflection of bias and ignorance, that their omission is an act of charity to a distinguished professor.

    No, it is called quote mining – selectively quoting another person so as to support your own claims. Even if your interpretation is correct your act of ‘charity’ is still an act of concealing the proper context of the quote.

    Let us hope the above will sufficiently set the record straight that we can now clear the atmosphere of the miasma of poisonous caricatures of science and scientists, and address the substantial matters

  2. Dr Bot:

    Sigh . . .

    In the first place, the advocacy of censorship in the name of a priori imposition of materialism on science [that, sadly, is what methodological naturalism now boils down to] is in itself sufficient of a significant thing to be highlighted. Such a thing is on its face — on pain of patent absurdity — utterly unjustifiable, and that should be the first point of any serious reckoning.

    In the second instance, within the quote as originally given there is already abundant ground for seeing that there is and can be no justification for such; if common good sense were not enough.

    Third, what is evidently seen as a “justification” for such censorship — justification of the inherently unjustifiable — is instead demonstrably a proof of ignorance of what theism actually has held all along [and what it implies], the relevant history of the real origin of modern science, and a strawman caricature of theists as irrational and gullible people.

    I find it utterly astonishing, outright astounding . . . words fail me . . . that anyone would think that the omission of a further slide down the slope over the cliff is instead a justification for the inherently unjustifiable.

    And, I therefore stand by my longstanding position that the already cited stands on its own two feet as a devastating inadvertent confession.

    I will give you this, in light of the remarks over the past day or so, it seems that some DO believe — hard as it is for me to believe this, I have to accept the plainly evident fact — that the unjustifiable can be justified, and that, by what turns out to be a further resort to contemptuous, ignorant and slanderous strawman caricature. In particular,the “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” bigoted stereotype.

    Sad, truly sad.

    Let the record stand, from the OP:

    1: Historically, it was specifically that theistic confidence in an orderly cosmos governed by a wise and orderly Creator that gave modern science much of its starting impetus from about 1200 to 1700. Newton’s remarks in his General Scholium to his famous work, Principia (which introduces his Laws of Motion and Gravitation), are a classic illustration of this historical fact.

    2: As C S Lewis and many other popular as well as technical theological and historical writers point out (cf. here, here and here), in theism, miracles are signs pointing from the ordinary course of the world to the special intervention of God. As such, a world in which miracles happen MUST be a world in which there is an ordinary, predictable day to day course of events — one that is amenable to science, rather than the rationality-sapping chaos Beck and Lewontin imagine.

    3: Similarly, one of the major, well-known emphases of theism is our accountability before God as morally governed agents and stewards of our world. Such accountability is only reasonable in a cosmos where choices and actions have reliably predictable consequences. Such a world, again, is one in which science is possible.

    4: In light of such facts, it is unsurprising that the leading scientists of the foundational era of modern science often saw themselves as thinking God’s creative and sustaining thoughts after him.

    [I refer to the cite from Pearcey that follows as point 5]

    I can only hope that some at least will take enough of a pause to see that point scoring rhetoric by imagining or pretending that the above is a case of quote mining, is utterly unwarranted on the evidence.

    Indeed, let me repeat, for emphasis, in the hope that this will at last break through the thralldom of ideology: the inherently and patently unjustifiable — ideological censorship of science, which for its credibility depends crucially on being free to seek the truth about our world in light of the evidence — cannot ever be justified, and the suggested “justification” is in fact the fatal step over the cliff . . .

    Hitherto, I assumed that someone who reads the actual article with a modicum of insight would see that. Apparently, I can no longer hope for that.

    Sad.

    Please, please, please, let us step back from the brink here . . .

    Please.

    GEM of TKI

  3. Authority figures in the evolutionist worldview regularly put their foot in their mouth with either incredibly revealing quotes or incredibly embarrassing ones. Truth has a way of coming out in the end, especially when the heart is in conflict with the head. One of my favourites is the Francis Crick quote:

    “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved”

    Such statements seriously undermine evolutionist beliefs.

    Evolutionists in general absolutely hate it when we use the words of authority figures like Crick and Lewontin against them. So when they say “Stop quote mining” what they actually mean is “Stop quoting!”

    Bot is very much mistaken when he claims that Kairosfocus was “concealing the proper context of the quote”. The substantial point – that Lewontin demands an a priori, completely exclusive commitment to materialism – is not altered in any way by the lines that were omitted. What the likes of Bot also need to realise about quoting is that, when quoting, you have to start and end somewhere.

    Quoting is an exercise in capturing the essence of the substantial point being made: not reproducing the complete work.

    No doubt this is nothing new to the likes of Bot. The question is, why are the likes of Bot so embarrassed by the Lewontin quote that they have to engage in this ‘quote mining accustation’ tactic in the first place?

  4. CD:

    Thanks.

    A result of having now had to mark up the quote so much is that it is of course now far more clumsy.

    In truth this is a case of saying the utterly indefensible and common good sense should tell us that.

    GEM of TKI

  5. a further resort to contemptuous, ignorant and slanderous strawman caricature. In particular,the “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” bigoted stereotype.

    I’m confused. Am I the one being “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” and you the one making a “contemptuous, ignorant and slanderous strawman caricature” or are you the one being “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” whilst I make a “contemptuous, ignorant and slanderous strawman caricature”?

    It’s not clear from the phrasing exactly which ad-hom is directed at me.

    CD

    The question is, why are the likes of Bot so embarrassed by the Lewontin quote that they have to engage in this ‘quote mining accustation’ tactic in the first place?

    What makes you think I’m embarrassed about it. He is entitled to express his opinion and I am not bound by it. We can all argue about the interpretation and context, I believe we are all entitled to, unfortunately KF seems to believe that his own word is law and others are therefore being uncivil for arguing with him or pointing out a more reasonable interpretation by taking the broader context into account.

  6. I would like some clarification on ow the part that KF originally omitted changes the context.

    IOW can someone support the charge of quote-minng?

  7. Dr Bot:

    I think you need to ask Dawkins and the other new atheists about their notorious view of those who dare differ with their a priori materialist views on origins science, especially if such would do something that just might let a Divine Foot in the door.

    GEM of TKI

  8. J:

    I would indeed like to see how the indefensible — materialist censorship of science — can seemingly be justified, apart from additional ad hominem laced slander and strawmen.

    (Which I acknowledge may be sincerely — but IMCO, indefensibly — believed . . .)

    G

  9. It’s all very well saying that gods can be part of science, but still no-one has an alternative to methodological naturalism.

    The question is how is Lewontin wrong?

  10. 10

    Hi Bot,

    I think you are embarrassed by Lewontin’s quote because of your attempt to redeem Lewontin by appealing to a “more reasonable interpretation by taking the broader context into account”. The initially unquoted sentences do not alter the context of the quote in any way. They certainly do not change the fundamental point: demanding an a priori, completely exclusive commitment to materialism. Do you disagree with this demand?
    Put it this way, if you’re not embarrassed by it, Bot, and the initially unquoted sentences don’t actually change the context of the quote, then what are you actually trying to achieve here? Whatever your problem with Kairosfocus is, you can’t accuse him of quote-mining… only quoting: there’s a huge difference between the two.

  11. 11

    Science is not the only branch of knowledge, Driver. However, sticking to observations and experiments, your position is basically this:

    We have to believe it all made itself.

    That position is not actually supported by science. That leaves only one alternative. It was all made. If methodological naturalism can’t handle that fact then the fault lies solely with methodological naturalism, not the observations and experiments.

  12. Joseph,

    I would like some clarification on ow the part that KF originally omitted changes the context.

    Please see my comments numbered 33 and 37 in the original thread.

  13. Chris, I am talking about doing science, not a theological position on whether the universe was created. How can we do science that allows for gods? I don’t believe anyone has an answer for that question. The problem is as Lewontin stated.

    If you can show that science can allow for the inference of gods then please do so. I think the methodology, if it leads to testable and falsifiable predictions, would create a revolution in science.

    It seems to me that overcoming the current paradigm is a real methodological challenge.

  14. the proper definition of ‘quote mining’ is quoting anything that darwinists don’t like, and cannot respond to. So instead of dealing with the issue they attempt to demonize and discredit the poster of the quote…typical saul alinsky tactics.

    oh and as far as how we can do science that allows for ‘gods’ ask Newton or Pasteur….they did just fine.

  15. would create a revolution in science.

    it already has, its called ID. But then atheists have trouble seeing things that don’t fit their faith.

  16. here’s some more ‘quote mining’ …

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

    Provine, William B. [Professor of Biological Sciences, Cornell University], “, “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life”, Abstract of Will Provine’s 1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address.

    “Darwin knew that accepting his theory required believing in philosophical materialism, the conviction that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its by-products. Darwinian evolution was not only purposeless but also heartless–a process in which the rigors of nature ruthlessly eliminate the unfit. Suddenly, humanity was reduced to just one more species in a world that cared nothing for us. The great human mind was no more than a mass of evolving neurons. Worst of all, there was no divine plan to guide us.” (Biology: Discovering Life, by Joseph S. Levine & Kenneth R. Miller (1st edition, D.C. Heath and Co., 1992), pg. 152; emphasis in original)

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....direc.html

    evolution is nothing more than atheism posing as science.

    oh and for the usual rejoinder…’ID isn’t science’ how could miller claim to disprove behe if it wasn’t?

  17. Onlookers:

    MG of course manages to simply reiterate the claim, sadly, as usual.

    We have yet to see warrant that can justify the unjustifiable — censorship on imposition of ideological materialism in the name of science [and BTW science can -- and save where censorship is imposed, does routinely explain on chance, necessity and intelligence, i.e the censorship is not even consistently applied]. Nor is there anything in the now added two sentences that alters in any significant way the significance of that advocacy of censorship.

    Instead, it is increasingly plain that the added sentences simply further document an unconscious contempt and distortion of people and their actual, fairly easily documented views. The proper name for that, especially if willfully maintained, is BIGOTRY.

    And, warning: once we reach a point where there is a stubborn insistence on drumbeat repetition of materialist slander talking points in the teeth of correction, we are in the territory of being willfully deceptive. [MG: on track record, this speaks directly to you.]

    GEM of TKI

    PS: TS, SADLY, YOU SEEM TO BE ALL TOO CORRECT.

  18. 18

    Hi Driver,

    Given that doing science is simply a matter of making observations and conducting experiments, I can see no reason why the existence of a Supreme Being who created a privileged planet for humans capable of doing science (amongst many other things) should be a problem. It certainly wasn’t a problem for any of the greatest scientists who ever lived: all of whom believed in the existence of a Supreme Being. Further, Lewontin’s objections are not scientific ones, they are theological ones. Therefore, those objections can only be resolved by theology: a subject that most materialists never, ever get to grips with.

    We live in a planned, ordered, fine-tuned universe. The Book of Scripture explains why and it is fully complemented by the Book of Nature. So instead of there being a problem between theology and science, they actually work together in harmony.

    Problems only arise when you reject the Book of Scripture then claim that the Book of Nature somehow wrote itself. That is because science does not support the fundamental materialist claim that everything just made itself by Accident.

  19. ’ID isn’t science’ how could miller claim to disprove behe if it wasn’t?

    That’s interesting logic. How can I show that milk doesn’t cause earthquakes if milk causing earthquakes isn’t science?

  20. Given that doing science is simply a matter of making observations and conducting experiments, I can see no reason why the existence of a Supreme Being who created a privileged planet for humans capable of doing science (amongst many other things) should be a problem.

    Chris, I’m not saying here that it is a philosophical problem, I am saying that there are no experiments we can do to infer the presence of gods or the occurrence of miracles.

    Methodological naturalism is a default position because science looks for regularities. If those regularities are posited as being suspended, as in a miracle, then how do we use science to work out that they have in fact been suspended?

    science does not support the fundamental materialist claim that everything just made itself by Accident.

    Here’s me saying that methodological naturalism is the only known way to do science, and here’s you saying that science has rejected naturalism. Both of these opinions cannot be correct. So I am curious – how exactly do you think science rejects naturalism?

  21. 21

    tsmith, post 14, well said and succinctly put! Exactly what I’ve been trying to say.

    21st century science is not on the side of evolutionists: so they are forced to skirt around the issues rather than confront them head on.

    Or, in MathGrrl’s case just ignore the issues altogether… I’m still waiting for him/her to respond to a post I made about bacteria months and months ago. Nothing wrong with admitting s/he can’t respond. Unfortunately, the alternative course s/he has chosen strikes me as very dishonest.

  22. Saying what the cause is is like knowing where the treasure is buried. ~ Elliott Sober

  23. Driver perhaps you care to ‘prove’ naturalism true???

    You can start by explaining these following quantum teleportation experiments in purely naturalistic (energy/matter – space/time) terms:

    Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups
    Excerpt: In fact, copying isn’t quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable – it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can’t ‘clone’ a quantum state. In principle, however, the ‘copy’ can be indistinguishable from the original (that was destroyed),,,
    http://www.rsc.org/chemistrywo.....ammeup.asp

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....1769/posts

  24. Driver:

    You are already pulling away on a tangent, please come back home.

    This is a thread to address a claim of intellectual dishonesty made by your side.

    That is a serious accusation and it needs to be responsibly warranted if that is possible, and if not, it needs to be retracted with an apology.

    I contend, with reasons given, that it cannot be warranted, inherently and in fact on the claimed justification, and on material evidence brought to bear.

    In short, the issue on the table as of now, is that there appears to be a serious, false and polarising accusation that has been made. That accusation of quotemining needs to be either warranted or withdrawn with apology.

    So far, in this thread and previously, I have seen a lot of reiteration of an initial accusation, but no warrant, and it seems further to me there can be no warrant.

    Now, if you differ kindly explain and justify why.

    Otherwise, please leave this thread. It is on too important a matter to tolerate side tracks.

    Taking a liberal interpretation of your remarks above, it seems you think that the design inference is inherently unscientific, and so is irrational, warranting censorship to exclude it from science.

    In reply, I point out that no censorship of science that hinders it from the unfettered, empirical evidence led pursuit of the truth about our world can be warranted, and that this is exactly what Lewontin admits is the commonplace view and action of the dominant elites in science, of which he and the late Mr Sagan are or were members in good standing.

    If you think your implied claim can be justified, I suggest you respond, specifically on points to the case here and here on, if it is your fundamental contention that the design inference is inherently unscientific.

    If you cannot do so, all you are doing is repeating empty manipulative talking points, based on begging the question, i.e. there is no good warrant for imposing a priori materialism on the definition of science. (NB: It seems you need to work through as well the weak argument correctives top right this and every UD page.]

    Also, FYI science does not only study regularities, it studies historical patterns in the world based on observationally confirmed causal dynamics and brute given initial conditions. Indeed, that is what origins science is about.

    It also studies chance based behaviour that can be highly irregular.

    It also studies actions of intelligence where such actions leave characteristic traces. Functionally specific complex information happens to be one of these.

    GEM of TKI

  25. Driver you state:

    ‘Methodological naturalism is a default position because science looks for regularities. If those regularities are posited as being suspended, as in a miracle, then how do we use science to work out that they have in fact been suspended?’

    So, according to your arbitrary, and very suspect, rules for how we are suppose to operate in science, we are not to investigate things like the Big Bang since they were/are highly ‘irregular’ events???,,, As well Driver, as to ‘regularity, exactly Who do you think imposed this unchanging transcendent regularity onto creation so that we may expect to find such regularity in the first place???

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

    0 = 1 + e ^(i*pi) — Euler

    Believe it or not, the five most important numbers in mathematics are tied together, through the complex domain in Euler’s number, And that points, ever so subtly but strongly, to a world of reality beyond the immediately physical. Many people resist the implications, but there the compass needle points to a transcendent reality that governs our 3D ‘physical’ reality.

    God by the Numbers – Connecting the constants
    Excerpt: The final number comes from theoretical mathematics. It is Euler’s (pronounced “Oiler’s”) number: e*pi*i. This number is equal to -1, so when the formula is written e*pi*i+1 = 0, it connects the five most important constants in mathematics (e, pi, i, 0, and 1) along with three of the most important mathematical operations (addition, multiplication, and exponentiation). These five constants symbolize the four major branches of classical mathematics: arithmetic, represented by 1 and 0; algebra, by i; geometry, by pi; and analysis, by e, the base of the natural log. e*pi*i+1 = 0 has been called “the most famous of all formulas,” because, as one textbook says, “It appeals equally to the mystic, the scientist, the philosopher, and the mathematician.”
    http://www.christianitytoday.c.....ml?start=3

    (of note; Euler’s Number (equation) is more properly called Euler’s Identity in math circles.)

    Moreover Euler’s Identity, rather than just being the most enigmatic equation in math, finds striking correlation to how our 3D reality is actually structured,,,

    The following picture, Bible verse, and video are very interesting since, with the discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR), the universe is found to actually be a circular sphere which ‘coincidentally’ corresponds to the circle of pi within Euler’s identity:

    Picture of CMBR
    https://webspace.utexas.edu/reyesr/SolarSystem/cmbr.jpg

    Proverbs 8:26-27
    While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, or the primeval dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep,

    The Known Universe by AMNH – video – (please note the ‘centrality’ of the Earth in the universe in the video)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U

    The flatness of the ‘entire’ universe, which ‘coincidentally’ corresponds to the diameter of pi in Euler’s identity, is found on this following site; (of note this flatness of the universe is an extremely finely tuned condition for the universe that could have, in reality, been a multitude of different values than ‘flat’):

    Did the Universe Hyperinflate? – Hugh Ross – April 2010
    Excerpt: Perfect geometric flatness is where the space-time surface of the universe exhibits zero curvature (see figure 3). Two meaningful measurements of the universe’s curvature parameter, ½k, exist. Analysis of the 5-year database from WMAP establishes that -0.0170 < ½k < 0.0068.4 Weak gravitational lensing of distant quasars by intervening galaxies places -0.031 < ½k < 0.009.5 Both measurements confirm the universe indeed manifests zero or very close to zero geometric curvature,,,
    http://www.reasons.org/did-universe-hyperinflate

    This following video shows that the universe also has a primary characteristic of expanding/growing equally in all places,, which 'coincidentally' strongly corresponds to e in Euler's identity. e is the constant used in all sorts of equations of math for finding what the true rates of growth and decay are for any given problem trying to find as such:

    Every 3D Place Is Center In This Universe – 4D space/time – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3991873/

    Towards the end of the following video, Michael Denton speaks of the square root of negative 1 being necessary to understand the foundational quantum behavior of this universe. The square root of -1 is 'coincidentally' found in Euler's identity:

    Michael Denton – Mathematical Truths Are Transcendent And Beautiful – Square root of -1 is built into the fabric of reality – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4003918&quot;

    I find it extremely strange that the enigmatic Euler's identity would find such striking correlation to reality. In pi we have correlation to the 'sphere of the universe' as revealed by the Cosmic Background radiation, as well pi correlates to the finely-tuned 'geometric flatness' within the 'sphere of the universe' that has now been found. In e we have the fundamental constant that is used for ascertaining exponential growth in math that strongly correlates to the fact that space-time is 'expanding/growing equally' in all places of the universe. In the square root of -1 we have what is termed a 'imaginary number', which was first proposed to help solve equations like x2+ 1 = 0 back in the 17th century, yet now, as Michael Denton pointed out in the preceding video, it is found that the square root of -1 is required to explain the behavior of quantum mechanics in this universe. The correlation of Euler's identity, to the foundational characteristics of how this universe is constructed and operates, points overwhelmingly to a transcendent Intelligence, with a capital I, which created this universe! It should also be noted that these universal constants, pi,e, and square root -1, were at first thought by many to be completely transcendent of any material basis, to find that these transcendent constants of Euler's identity in fact 'govern' material reality, in such a foundational way, should be enough to send shivers down any mathematicians spine.

  26. ba77, we can certainly do quantum mechanics. Naturalism does not insist on local realism. You have shown that quantum mechanics is science.

    Now, how do we incorporate miracles into science?

  27. PS: Given your:

    I am saying that there are no experiments we can do to infer the presence of gods or the occurrence of miracles.

    Methodological naturalism is a default position because science looks for regularities. If those regularities are posited as being suspended, as in a miracle, then how do we use science to work out that they have in fact been suspended?

    . . . your response will need to specifically address the OBSERVATIONAL issues here and in their context [including the videos], on the finetuning of the cosmos. Just note that Sir Fred Hoyle, the leading scientist cited there, is a Nobel equivalent prize holder.

    In short, so long as chance, necessity and art/techne are are indeed regularities of the causal patterns in our world, and so long as they leave reliable empirical traces, they can be studied, and followed up fearlessly without imposition of materialist censorship that boils down to refusing to study or discuss patterns known to trace to agency in action when that is inconvenient for the a priori materialists.

    Further to this, as the OP pints out, the regular mechanical or statistical patterns of the natural world will be generally reliable and can be studied scientifically.

    The notion that theism is an inherently chaotic, irrational and anti-scientific worldview where things happen anytime, anywhere with no orderly pattern is utterly belied by the hard historical fact that it is theists who — on their worldview driven confidence in an orderly world driven by their theism — who founded modern science.

    And part of that confidence they had is that the patterns of cause and effect tracing to necessity, chance circumstances and intelligence, are real patterns with intelligible, reliable empirical effects.

    Have you taken time to simply read Ms Pearcey’s short paper on the subject, as strongly urged? You do not sound like it.

    IF YOU HAVE, THEN KINDLY GIVE YOUR WELL WARRANTED REASONS FOR BEGGING TO DIFFER WITH HER AND WITH THE CONSENSUS OF THE HISTORIANS OF SCIENCE SHE REPORTS.

    Otherwise, if you simply indulge in cycles of empty repetition, you will be plainly guilty of irresponsibly repeating ultimately slanderous talking points, given the serious context at stake.

  28. Driver:

    With you last post, you are establishing a pattern of empty repetition.

    Kindly drop it and engage matters substantially, or leave the thread.

    If you persist in empty drumbeat repetition of such talking points in this context, I will request that you be put on moderation for disruptive and slanderous, unresponsive behaviour.

    Good day,

    GEM of TKI

  29. Driver, you state;

    ‘Naturalism does not insist on local realism.’

    No it doesn’t Driver, but if you insist on holding onto naturalism to explain the ’cause’ of quantum actions then you lose your right to practice science;

    Materialism simply dissolves into absurdity when pushed to extremes and certainly offers no guarantee to us for believing our perceptions and reasoning within science are trustworthy in the first place:

    Dr. Bruce Gordon – The Absurdity Of The Multiverse & Materialism in General – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5318486/

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: The physical universe is causally incomplete and therefore neither self-originating nor self-sustaining. The world of space, time, matter and energy is dependent on a reality that transcends space, time, matter and energy. This transcendent reality cannot merely be a Platonic realm of mathematical descriptions, for such things are causally inert abstract entities that do not affect the material world. Neither is it the case that “nothing” is unstable, as Mr. Hawking and others maintain. Absolute nothing cannot have mathematical relationships predicated on it, not even quantum gravitational ones. Rather, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them. This is what “breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe.,,, the evidence for string theory and its extension, M-theory, is nonexistent; and the idea that conjoining them demonstrates that we live in a multiverse of bubble universes with different laws and constants is a mathematical fantasy. What is worse, multiplying without limit the opportunities for any event to happen in the context of a multiverse – where it is alleged that anything can spontaneously jump into existence without cause – produces a situation in which no absurdity is beyond the pale.
    For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    Finely Tuned Big Bang, Elvis In The Multiverse, and the Schroedinger Equation – Granville Sewell – audio
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4233012

    At the 4:00 minute mark of the preceding audio, Dr. Sewell comments on the ‘transcendent’ and ‘constant’ Schroedinger’s Equation;

    ‘In chapter 2, I talk at some length on the Schroedinger Equation which is called the fundamental equation of chemistry. It’s the equation that governs the behavior of the basic atomic particles subject to the basic forces of physics. This equation is a partial differential equation with a complex valued solution. By complex valued I don’t mean complicated, I mean involving solutions that are complex numbers, a+b^i, which is extraordinary that the governing equation, basic equation, of physics, of chemistry, is a partial differential equation with complex valued solutions. There is absolutely no reason why the basic particles should obey such a equation that I can think of except that it results in elements and chemical compounds with extremely rich and useful chemical properties. In fact I don’t think anyone familiar with quantum mechanics would believe that we’re ever going to find a reason why it should obey such an equation, they just do! So we have this basic, really elegant mathematical equation, partial differential equation, which is my field of expertise, that governs the most basic particles of nature and there is absolutely no reason why, anyone knows of, why it does, it just does. British physicist Sir James Jeans said “From the intrinsic evidence of His creation, the great architect of the universe begins to appear as a pure mathematician”, so God is a mathematician to’.

    i.e. the Materialist is at a complete loss to explain why this should be so, whereas the Christian Theist presupposes such ‘transcendent’ control,,,

    John 1:1
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    Further note:

    this argument destroys the foundation of neo-darwinian naturalism as well:

    What is the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism? (‘inconsistent identity’ of cause leads to failure of absolute truth claims for materialists) (Alvin Plantinga) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yNg4MJgTFw

    Can atheists trust their own minds? – William Lane Craig On Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byN38dyZb-k

    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” – Charles Darwin – Letter To William Graham – July 3, 1881

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

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.faqs.org/periodical.....27241.html

    This following site is a easy to use, and understand, interactive website that takes the user through what is termed ‘Presuppositional apologetics’. The website clearly shows that our use of the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality cannot be accounted for unless we believe in a God who guarantees our perceptions and reasoning are trustworthy in the first place.

    Proof That God Exists – easy to use interactive website
    http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/index.php

  30. KF,

    On fine tuning:

    I do not accept that the universe is certainly fine-tuned, but let’s say for argument’s sake that the universe is unequivocally fine-tuned. Then, it could have been fine-tuned according to natural laws that require fine-tuning, or even metalaws of a multiverse. Now, which is the case? The scientific approach is to look for laws. At no point should we give up looking for regularities. That would be unscientific.

  31. KF, the accusation of slander is a serious one. I challenge you to back it up. What have I said that has slandered you or anyone else?

  32. No it doesn’t Driver, but if you insist on holding onto naturalism to explain the ’cause’ of quantum actions then you lose your right to practice science;

    Bell’s inequality shows that there are no hidden causes. That’s how the world is. I am not looking to explain quantum weirdness in terms of a local realistic cause.

    Nor am I looking to explain it as caused by a supernatural being. I simply accept that the world on the very small scale is not how it seems to be to us creatures who live a macro-scale existence. We looked in a new corner of the universe (well, new scale) and we saw that the world was different. That’s all.

  33. Now, how do we incorporate miracles into science?

    with the standard refrain we hear all the time: ‘it evolved’

  34. MathGrrl herself is guilty of quote mining. So. Pot-Kettle-Black. People who live in glass houses, and all that.

  35. KF, it is not my contention here that the design inference is unwarranted per se. Rather I am saying that there is no methodology for inferring the supernatural. I appreciate that ID does not insist on a supernatural designer.

  36. 36

    Hello again Driver,

    I think the confusion lies in your term ‘methodological naturalism’. The only scientific part of that term is ‘methodological’ in the sense that ‘doing science’ is a matter of observation and experiment. I agree that seeking naturalistic explanations for the things we observe and experiment upon is a part of science. But it is not the whole story. Nor are regularities.What happens if there isn’t a naturalistic explanation? Intelligence – human or otherwise – changes the natural order of things and produces irregularities. It would be stretching the definition of ‘naturalistic’ to breaking point if you included these sort of Intelligently Designed irregularities in its remit.

    Every experiment we’ve ever done to try and produce life from non-life naturalistically has failed: but that doesn’t stop you from believing this ‘miracle’ happened does it? The existence of primitive precursors to modern cells has never been demonstrated by any observation or experiment: but yet you believe they must have existed do you not? And it could be argued if a prokaryote turned into a eukaryote, this was also a miraculous event: unsupported by any kind of observation or experiment but yet believed in by you nonetheless, right? Just the mention of Dark Energy, Dark Matter and Multiverses is enough to underline my point.

    So, let’s not pretend that the problem with the existence of the Creator is a scientific one. You reject this possibility for purely non-scientific reasons (in the same way as you believe in the abiogenesis miracle for purely non-scientific reasons).

    Given the knowledge that 21st century science has provided us, we can now rule out a scientific basis for belief in the notion that everything made itself. Naturally, you’re free to carry on believing that it all made itself, naturalistically. But you don’t have a single supportive observation or experiment to justify that belief.

  37. Driver you state:

    ‘I simply accept that the world on the very small scale is not how it seems to be to us creatures who live a macro-scale existence.’

    But where is your drive for a more complete understanding of the truth that is so essential for scientific endeavor???

    As to Quantum mechanics operating ONLY at a ‘very small scale’, it might interest you to know that quantum mechanics operates at a ‘universe wide scale’:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    and also ‘serendipitously’ found this,,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  38. continued Driver:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  39. Driver, you said..

    If you can show that science can allow for the inference of gods then please do so. I think the methodology, if it leads to testable and falsifiable predictions, would create a revolution in science.

    I disagree. I think it would create a revolution in our understanding of god.

  40. ‘I simply accept that the world on the very small scale is not how it seems to be to us creatures who live a macro-scale existence.’

    But where is your drive for a more complete understanding of the truth that is so essential for scientific endeavor???

    I accept the scientific facts of quantum mechanics. Yes there is a drive for a more complete understanding, but that is not an insistence that there is “really” a local realistic cause of quantum behaviour.

    You see, Bell’s theorem shows that qm must violate either locality or what is called “counterfactual definiteness“, something we take for granted in our everyday, large-scale world.

    As to Quantum mechanics operating ONLY at a ‘very small scale’, it might interest you to know that quantum mechanics operates at a ‘universe wide scale’

    Indeed, but my point was that in the world as we experience it on the everyday macro-scale, we do not directly witness quantum weirdness. So when we found it, it seemed counterintuitive to us. However, the fact that it is counterintuitive does not mean that there necessarily is a more intuitive explanation.

  41. 41

    Driver #30

    You postulate two possibilities for the fine tuning issue.

    The first possibility says that something can create itself (which is illogical) and you second possibility is beyond scientific obervation.

    …just FYI

  42. Driver it may interest you to know that you will go to a higher dimension when you die to this naturalistic ‘everyday world’ (funny how naturalism has a such slippery use for you so as to avoid Theism)

    i.e. There is a timeless-spaceless component to you, and all of us, that never dies: i.e. there is a ‘higher dimensional’ component to life that transcends this material realm:

    The predominance of quarter-power (4-D) scaling in biology
    Excerpt: Many fundamental characteristics of organisms scale
    with body size as power laws of the form:

    Y = Yo M^b,

    where Y is some characteristic such as metabolic rate, stride length or life span, Yo is a normalization constant, M is body mass and b is the allometric scaling exponent.
    A longstanding puzzle in biology is why the exponent b is usually some simple multiple of 1/4 (4-Dimensional scaling) rather than a multiple of 1/3, as would be expected from Euclidean (3-Dimensional) scaling.
    http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/~dre.....18_257.pdf

    “Although living things occupy a three-dimensional space, their internal physiology and anatomy operate as if they were four-dimensional. Quarter-power scaling laws are perhaps as universal and as uniquely biological as the biochemical pathways of metabolism, the structure and function of the genetic code and the process of natural selection.,,, The conclusion here is inescapable, that the driving force for these invariant scaling laws cannot have been natural selection.” Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong (London: Profile Books, 2010), p. 78-79

    4-Dimensional Quarter Power Scaling In Biology – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5964041/

    Though Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini rightly find it inexplicable for ‘random’ Natural Selection to be the rational explanation for the scaling of the physiology, and anatomy, of living things to four-dimensional parameters, they do not seem to fully realize the implications this ‘four dimensional scaling’ of living things presents. This 4-D scaling is something we should rightly expect from a Intelligent Design perspective. This is because Intelligent Design holds that ‘higher dimensional transcendent information’ is more foundational to life, and even to the universe itself, than either matter or energy are. This higher dimensional ‘expectation’ for life, from a Intelligent Design perspective, is directly opposed to the expectation of the Darwinian framework, which holds that information, and indeed even the essence of life itself, is merely an ‘emergent’ property of the 3-D material realm.

    Information and entropy – top-down or bottom-up development in living systems? A.C. McINTOSH
    Excerpt: It is proposed in conclusion that it is the non-material information (transcendent to the matter and energy) that is actually itself constraining the local thermodynamics to be in ordered disequilibrium and with specified raised free energy levels necessary for the molecular and cellular machinery to operate.
    http://journals.witpress.com/journals.asp?iid=47

    Quantum entanglement holds together life’s blueprint – 2010
    Excerpt: “If you didn’t have entanglement, then DNA would have a simple flat structure, and you would never get the twist that seems to be important to the functioning of DNA,” says team member Vlatko Vedral of the University of Oxford.
    http://neshealthblog.wordpress.....blueprint/

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA & Protein Folding – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    It is very interesting to note that quantum entanglement, which conclusively demonstrates that ‘information’ in its pure ‘quantum form’ is completely transcendent of any time and space constraints, should be found in molecular biology on such a massive scale, for how can the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ in biology possibly be explained by a material (matter/energy) ’cause’ when the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ falsified material particles as its own ‘causation’ in the first place?

    The Failure Of Local Realism – Materialism – Alain Aspect – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4744145

    Appealing to the probability of various configurations of material particles, as Darwinism does, simply will not help since a timeless/spaceless cause must be supplied which is beyond the capacity of the material particles themselves to supply! To give a coherent explanation for an effect that is shown to be completely independent of any time and space constraints one is forced to appeal to a cause that is itself not limited to time and space! i.e. Put more simply, you cannot explain a effect by a cause that has been falsified by the very same effect you are seeking to explain! Improbability arguments of various ‘special’ configurations of material particles, which have been a staple of the arguments against neo-Darwinism, simply do not apply since the cause is not within the material particles in the first place! Yet it is also very interesting to note, in Darwinism’s inability to explain this ‘transcendent quantum effect’ adequately, that
    Theism has always postulated a transcendent component to man that is not constrained by time and space. i.e. Theism has always postulated a ‘eternal soul’ for man that lives past the death of the body.

    The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings – Steve Talbott
    Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary.
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-of-beings

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

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time – March 2011
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

  43. cont. Driver:

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The Extremely ‘Monitored’ Near Death Experience of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045560

    Blind Woman Can See During Near Death Experience (NDE) – Pim von Lommel – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994599/

    Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper (1997) conducted a study of 31 blind people, many of who reported vision during their Near Death Experiences (NDEs). 21 of these people had had an NDE while the remaining 10 had had an out-of-body experience (OBE), but no NDE. It was found that in the NDE sample, about half had been blind from birth. (of note: This ‘anomaly’ is also found for deaf people who can hear sound during their Near Death Experiences(NDEs).)
    http://findarticles.com/p/arti....._65076875/

    It is also very interesting to point out that the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, reported in many Near Death Experiences(NDEs), is also corroborated by Special Relativity when considering the optical effects for traveling at the speed of light. Please compare the similarity of the optical effect, noted at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as an observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light, with the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ reported in very many Near Death Experiences:

    Traveling At The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    The NDE and the Tunnel – Kevin Williams’ research conclusions
    Excerpt: I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.(Barbara Springer)

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review – view
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

  44. Hi Chris.

    What happens if there isn’t a naturalistic explanation?

    The problem is that as soon as we give up looking for one we are no longer doing science.

    How do we even objectively set a time period after which we give up looking and conclude that there is no naturalistic explanation.

    Lots of things are hitherto unexplained in science, yet scientists do no stop looking for naturalistic explanations. Nor should they.

    Every experiment we’ve ever done to try and produce life from non-life naturalistically has failed: but that doesn’t stop you from believing this ‘miracle’ happened does it?

    Actually, my position is that I do not know how life arose. Abiogenesis research has led to greater understanding of chemistry, so certainly it is not a field that should be abandoned.

    Aside from that, there is again the problem of setting a time-frame on fruitful research. Should we give up after fifty years, a hundred? It could have been assumed that after hundreds of years of trying it was impossible to turn lead into gold, but scientists now know the secret.

    On May 19, 1780 an unusual darkening of the day sky was observed over the New England states and parts of Canada. Some people in New England applied religious interpretations to the event. Even today New England’s Dark Day is still regarded by many as a supernatural event. In 2008, Nearly 230 years later, University of Missouri researchers combined written accounts and tree ring records from fire-damaged trees to determine that the dark day was caused by massive wildfires burning in Canada.

  45. Hi Upright Biped.

    You postulate two possibilities for the fine tuning issue.

    The first possibility says that something can create itself (which is illogical) and you second possibility is beyond scientific obervation.

    …just FYI

    No, I should explain myself better. The first possibility is that the laws of nature are inter-related such that fine-tuning is required. It may be, for example, that a quantum theory of gravity reveals that certain parameters should be within certain values.

    The second possibility is beyond scientific observation now, and it might always be (or it might not).

    My point was that, given fine-tuning, there are natural explanations that can potentially be investigated by science. Even if you grant the premise of fine-tuning (which I incidentally do not), then it is premature to conclude an intelligent agent is responsible (although they might be).

  46. then it is premature to conclude an intelligent agent is responsible

    why? when you see a pile of stones how do you conclude they were built by man, even though you don’t know who built them, or why, or by an avalanche?

    so use the same reasoning on biological systems, or cosmological ones.

  47. as to kf’s request to stay on topic, I refrain from further comment to Driver on this thread.

  48. Nearly 230 years later, University of Missouri researchers combined written accounts and tree ring records from fire-damaged trees to determine that the dark day was caused by massive wildfires burning in Canada.

    what if those wildfires were caused by an person letting a campfire get out of control?

  49. then it is premature to conclude an intelligent agent is responsible

    why? when you see a pile of stones how do you conclude they were built by man, even though you don’t know who built them, or why, or by an avalanche?

    so use the same reasoning on biological systems, or cosmological ones.

    Well there is certainly the possibility of false positives for human design. We use what we know about nature and what we know about intelligent designers (humans) to make the inference.

    Thanks to what we know about nature (weather erosion, physics) we can conclude for example that this bridge was not designed.

    The problem with the universe and fine tuning is we don’t yet know enough about its physics (or the physics of the multiverse) to be able to tell if the constants of nature are of natural origin.

    For positive inference of design, we need evidence that only a designer could have produced the phenomenon. We need to know more about nature and some way of inferring the hand of the designer.

    If we could calculate the CSI of the universe, it would perhaps be a start.

  50. Hiya Driver,

    As I already point out, the only scientific part of the term ‘methodological naturalism’ is the ‘methodological’ part. An a priori commitment to naturalism means you’ve already decided it all made itself before fully investigating the matter. If forensic scientists had this attitude, then we would all be able to get away with murder! Observations and experiments can always be interpreted in a naturalistic manner – “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved” – but interpretations tell us more about the prejudices of the interpreter than they do about the objective scientific facts (which have a nasty habit of slaying beautiful naturalistic hypotheses!)

    Rather than asking how long we should keep searching for naturalistic explanations, you first need to provide a good reason for believing that there can only be a naturalistic explanation in the first place. Especially when Intelligent Design is so scientifically obvious.

    You may not know how life arose, but you do know that it wasn’t made by Intelligent Design am I right? To ignore all the other examples I gave and bring up Alchemy is missing the point. We might be able to transmute lead into gold with massive inputs of energy, but then that would cost more than the gold is worth in the first place. All those failed experiments simply confirmed that there is no point trying to convert lead into gold for financial gain (what other reason is there to try?) We were right to give up this pursuit. We are right to give up naturalistic explanations for things that could not possibly have made themselves.
    On February 28, 1953 Francis Crick walked into the Eagle pub in Cambridge, England, and, as James Watson later recalled, announced that “we had found the secret of life.” Some people applied naturalistic interpretations to the discovery of DNA. Even today, materialists still believe it just made itself. In 2009, over 50 years later, Stephen C Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell” was published combining all of the observational and experimental evidence we’ve amassed to determine that DNA cannot possibly make itself by chance and/or necessity. It is a product of Intelligent Design.

  51. 51

    Driver,

    No, I should explain myself better. The first possibility is that the laws of nature are inter-related such that fine-tuning is required. It may be, for example, that a quantum theory of gravity reveals that certain parameters should be within certain values.

    I understand, but there are issues that remain. If natural law is the observation of regularity in the material universe, then those regularities would certainly have arisen with the material universe itself (lest they be the regularities of something that doesn’t yet exist), in which case they didn’t have anything to do with bringing the material universe into existence (unless we want to say that something that doesn’t exist can cause something to happen).

    The second possibility is beyond scientific observation now, and it might always be (or it might not).

    Yet science regularly and openly and vigorously postulates it right now…and the content of that postulate is given considerable space and attention within scientific text. While at the same time they vehemently attack anyone for postulating the idea that a transcendent being might be the thing which exist outside of our material universe. (since we all ‘get it’ that something did indeed transcend our universe).

    - – - – - –

    Two unobservable possibilities, yet one is science and the other is not.

    A partisan may simply be unable to grasp this deformity in logic, but to a balanced observer the hypocracy and the abuse of science is rather obvious.

  52. Thanks to what we know about nature (weather erosion, physics) we can conclude for example that this bridge was not designed.

    and in the same way, thanks to what we know about biology, we can conclude the cell was designed.

    The problem with the universe and fine tuning is we don’t yet know enough about its physics (or the physics of the multiverse)

    thats debatable whether or not we know enough about physics to come to that conclusion.

    the physics of the multiverse is uknowable, since the multiverse is mere speculation…unsupported by any data at all..

    I find it interesting that you include the multiverse in science, yet there is far less reason to believe in a multiverse than God.

  53. Chris,

    An a priori commitment to naturalism means you’ve already decided it all made itself before fully investigating the matter.

    No, it only means you are committed to looking for natural causes. It doesn’t necessarily mean you rule out the supernatural in principle.

    It does rule out inferring the supernatural, for the reason that the methodology of science is to look for regularities in nature and the supernatural is by definition beyond those regularities. The miraculous event occurs outside natural regularity. I don’t see how by doing science you can ever conclude a supernatural cause for something in nature. That would be to stop looking for regularities. It really is a methodological rather than a philosophical problem.

    You may not know how life arose, but you do know that it wasn’t made by Intelligent Design am I right?

    No I do not know that. I don’t know how life arose.

    All those failed experiments simply confirmed that there is no point trying to convert lead into gold for financial gain

    No those failed experiments didn’t confirm that. It was not confirmed until we actually discovered how to turn lead into gold. We didn’t know how much it would cost until we could actually do it! Anyhow, it’s beyond the point how much it cost. The point I was making was that scientific knowledge (eg how to turn lead into gold) can take a long time. There’s no objective point at which you can give up doing science, conclude the supernatural, and somehow declare that scientific.

    We are right to give up naturalistic explanations for things that could not possibly have made themselves.

    Where is the scientific evidence that life does not have a naturalistic origin?

  54. An a priori commitment to naturalism means you’ve already decided it all made itself before fully investigating the matter.

    I don’t think that follows, Chris. Methodological naturalism does not require that the universe assemble itself or that natural laws are all there is – that would be philosophical naturalism. Methodological naturalism merely holds that a methodological approach (in whatever context the method is being used) must be limited to that which is natural. Methodological naturalism does not assume that nature/natural are all there is, it just recognizes that nature/natural is all that can be evaluated from a practical standpoint.

  55. Mung,

    MathGrrl herself is guilty of quote mining.

    It’s very easy to make an accusation without supporting it. That reflects more on the accuser than the accused, though.

  56. Where is the scientific evidence that life does not have a naturalistic origin?

    how many decades of OOL have been failures?

    but, just as believing the eye evolved without any evidence, keep the faith.

  57. UB,

    If natural law is the observation of regularity in the material universe, then those regularities would certainly have arisen with the material universe itself (lest they be the regularities of something that doesn’t yet exist), in which case they didn’t have anything to do with bringing the material universe into existence (unless we want to say that something that doesn’t exist can cause something to happen).

    Of course, the universe did not become how it is today all of a sudden.

    Yet science regularly and openly and vigorously postulates it right now…and the content of that postulate is given considerable space and attention within scientific text.

    Yes it is a hypothesis. It is given considerable space because the idea is a consequence of established science.

    While at the same time they vehemently attack anyone for postulating the idea that a transcendent being might be the thing which exist outside of our material universe.

    I am not aware of a scientific hypothesis that proposes the existence of a transcendent being which exists outside of our material universe, so I can’t see how this hypothesis can have been attacked within the scientific literature. “Scientific literature” has a specific meaning: the papers produced by scientists published in scientific journals. It doesn’t include popular books, some of which may be about, or partly about, science. We are talking about doing science – don’t confuse that with scientists attacking the god hypothesis in their “spare time”, so to speak.

    Two unobservable possibilities, yet one is science and the other is not.

    “There is a growing body of empirical evidence confirming the inflationary theory of cosmology, which underlies the hugeness and hypothetical diversity of the universe.” – Leonard Susskind

    The multiverse is a consequence of established science. God is not. That is why there are scientific papers written about multiverses but none about God.

    How would we even begin to construct a scientific hypothesis about God? What measurable qualities would we look for?

  58. Rather than asking how long we should keep searching for naturalistic explanations, you first need to provide a good reason for believing that there can only be a naturalistic explanation in the first place. Especially when Intelligent Design is so scientifically obvious.

    Chris, a question. Is there anything, theoretically speaking, that prevents this (or these) designer(s) from changing…say…the color of the sky from blue to brown tomorrow or making any other miraculous change? Just curious. Any known limits to the designer’s capability whatsoever? Just curious.

  59. The multiverse is a consequence of established science. God is not. That is why there are scientific papers written about multiverses but none about God.

    oh please.

    Although it’s pure speculation, there’s something appealing about considering multiple universes (a scenario known as the “multiverse”) where anything — and I mean anything — is possible. But just because an alternate universe is possible, it doesn’t mean life can exist there.

    http://news.discovery.com/spac.....erses.html

  60. the whole ‘multiverse’ is just more evidence that ‘science’ has become atheism. come up with any fantasy rather than have to acknowledge there is a God in heaven.

    Occam’s razor anyone?

  61. Accidentally cross-threaded:

    Driver and BA:

    Before I head off to do some items, I must note that he matter on this thread is a charge of quote-mining, a charge of academic dishonesty.

    I request that discussion be specifically tied to that claim and the issues that it raises.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Driver, had you taken time to examine the things you were asked to respond to, you would have seen that the rhetorical ploy of casting the issue over inference to design as a question of “regular” and “scientifically amenable” natural vs “demonic” or chaotic, unpredictable supernatural is a serious act of question-begging and strawman tactics.

    The proper contrast is the study of nature vs art on reliable empirical signs, which in the case of the fine tuning of the cosmos DOES point to intelligent causes that lie beyond the natural world we inhabit, and are therefore in a very literal sense super-natural. In addition, this issue in no wise can justify imposition of censorship of inconvenient but otherwise all too plausible possible explanations, through a priori materialism.

    Nor, could this strawman dichotomy magically provide a context in which the highlighting of inexcusable censorship is turned into a twisting of what Mr Lewontin had to say.

    He proposed ideological censorship of science through a priori materialism, indeed more or less said it was the common and “absolute” practice.

    Utterly inexcusable.

    BIG story.

    He tried to justify it on casting those who object into the mould of being irrational etc, this was already in what was cited.

    That he then went on to try to justify this by misrepresenting theism and theists was simply the next step, over the cliff into a further fallacy of distraction, not any sudden provision of a context that justifies censorship of science on evolutionary materialistic ideology.

  62. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything.

    Was Lewontin quote-mining Lewis Beck?

  63. F/N: Re Driver,

    The first possibility is that the laws of nature are inter-related such that fine-tuning is required . . . .

    The second possibility is beyond scientific observation now, and it might always be (or it might not).

    My point was that, given fine-tuning, there are natural explanations that can potentially be investigated by science.

    The first possibility simply kicks fine tuning up another level. The second, is more or less a tossing of the materialist fog across empirical investigations.

    In fact, we rouitnely can identify chance, mechanical necessity and design through empirical results, but the resulting empirically tested and reliable signs of design are not convenient to materialism on the fine tuning of the cosmos.

    So, we now see the imposition of an artificial science stopper, namely a priori materialism.

    This boils down to a case where the point made in the OP is inadvertently being underscored.

    So, let us remove artificial censoring restraints from science. Th4re are serious candidate empirical signs of design, such as funcitonallys pecific complex organisaiton and associated informaiton, presence of communicaiton systems based on codes etc. The artificiality of a priori materialism should now be seen for what it is, an ideological scince stopper.

    And, worse, it is being backed up by a demonstrable misrepresentation of those who happen to differ withthe worldview.

    Going further, the identificaiton of such a science stoppoer is plainly bifg noews in and of itself.

    The addition to it of a slander of those who differ, does not change that fact.

    Indeed, it goes one step beyond, into something worse.

    And unfortunately, it seems to be a vicious circle that seems to justify itself to those caught up in it by rpojecting stupidity, irrationality and/or evil intent onto those tho differ. Something I am very familiar with from having had to deal with destructive ideologies such as Marxism.

    Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals:

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

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

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

    “One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.”

    GEM of TKI

  64. F/N 2: The better way, if you disagree with the design inference, would be to actively investigate and empirically show that claimed reliable empirical signs of design such as functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information, are not in fact as claimed. (That has been tried but has consistently failed. There is a whole civilisation worth of directly observed, confirmatory cases.)

    Not, to impose artificial materialist science stoppers and then strawmannise, demonise or denigrate and dismiss those who challenge the censorship. Further to this, it is emerging very clearly that here is no warrant for the claim that the citation of the imposed a priori materialist censorship is not worthy of being highlighted as something that is inexcusable in its own right.

    As well, it is increasingly plain that the additional matter addressed in the OP shows a grave step beyond censorship to personal attack against those who would object to it.

  65. F/N 3: A smoking gun from Driver . . .

    as soon as we give up looking for one [a naturalISTIC explanation] we are no longer doing science

    In short, there is the a priori imposition of evolutionary materialist censorship.

    Right there in front of us.

    So, we are seeing what the materialist indoctrination does, and it is not so pretty.

    Now, what is nature, and what is a natural explanation of cause and effect?

    How do we know ahead of time that the truth about the origin of the cosmos, say, is that it can only be explained in terms of blind laws of necessity and chance circumstances? How do we know ahead of time that the idea that nature could be an artifact is something that cannot be investigated on empirically reliable tested signs, and accepted as a provisional best explanation, similar to any other explanatory model in science?

    We do not know any such thing.

    So, what we are seeing is imposition of the censoring interdict of a priori materialism.

    This, as I have said, is big news; worth highlighting.

    A second story is how it is all explained away, on a distortion of the history of the origins of modern science and its worldview roots, and a denigratory caricaturing of the views and thought as well as the reputation and character of those who differ.

    In short, the evidence is plainly piling up that the citation form Lewontin is important as it stands, and that the further citation adds to the force of the point.

    It is pretty clear that the second bit does not materially change the meaning of the first, nor does it justify the behaviour.

    Just as the OP pointed out.

    GEM of TKI

  66. KF,

    To my mind, instead, these last two sentences are such a sad reflection of bias and ignorance, that their omission is an act of charity to a distinguished professor.

    Just curious, KF, but if you took those last two sentences out because you feel they reflect poorly on Lewontin, are you not then changing the overall substance of what he actually wrote to reflect make him look better?

  67. the issue over inference to design as a question of “regular” and “scientifically amenable” natural vs “demonic” or chaotic, unpredictable supernatural

    It is not me who conflates the issue of inference of design with inference of the supernatural.

    I never framed it as natural v “demonic” – that was your transparent tactic.

    I characterize supernatural forces as suspensions of natural regularity.

    I don’t even know of a serious scientific attempt to pose a hypothesis
    that a supernatural event occurred – do you? Which renders the complaint against a priori materialism moot at best.

  68. Which renders the complaint against a priori materialism moot at best.

    so in other words its OK to shove the religion atheism down our throats.

    but no other viewpoints are allowed, its not ‘scientific’

    right.

  69. 69

    Driver,

    “Of course, the universe did not become how it is today all of a sudden.”

    Sorry, this comment does nothing to correct the misplaced logic of your original remark. Its a punt.

    “Yes it is a hypothesis. It is given considerable space because the idea is a consequence of established science.”

    So let me get this right: In your original remark you state that it is unobservable, but yet a mere remark or two later, it has become elevated to the status of established science. Funny how that works.

    - – - – - – - –

    Please tell me how the dynamic of this scenario is different than a design proponent knowing that he/she cannot directly see or measure an unobservable phenomena, but finds physical artifacts of its presence left in this universe, which are completely amenable to scientific inquiry?

    What is the specific quantity that states one unobservable-artifact-leaving-hypothesis may be studied, but the other cannot?

  70. no other viewpoints are allowed, its not ‘scientific’
    right.

    You can have any viewpoint you like. I am talking about the methodological difficulty of incorporating the supernatural into a scientific hypothesis. It’s not something that affects the viewpoints you hold. It only affects you directly if you are scientist.

  71. 71

    Driver, ID does not “incorporate the supernatural” into its hyposthesis.

    Thats particular duty is left to the materialist watchdogs so that they can keep the straw burning.

  72. MathGrrl writes:

    Without these two sentences, your excerpt implies that Lewontin is claiming that science is actively and irrationally anti-religious.

    Well, perhaps it seems that way to her, but it doesn’t seem that way to me.

    That [the Lewontin quote] is not complete. Indeed, there are two additional sentences that conclude the very paragraph you quote that are essential to Lewontin’s thesis:

    And that thesis is?

    I missed the part where we’re told what Lewontin’s thesis is.

    And how do the last two sentences change the meaning of what came before?

  73. 73
    Elizabeth Liddle

    I have to say (perhaps unsurprisingly!) that I am absolutely with driver here.

    Nor do I think it’s irrelevant to the OP. Obviously any quotation from any source is drawn to make a point, so I think the question as to whether it becomes a “quotemine” is somewhat moot. The issue really is whether the drawer-of-the-quote has drawn a justifiable inference from the original.

    And perhaps it is reasonable for UDists to react as they have done to Lewontin’s words, whether or not the following sentences are taken into account or not.

    But I think the real problem lies far deeper than the issue of “quotemining”, and that driver has put his finger right on it.

    The original excerpt was:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    And the following part was:

    The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

    Clearly to those who interpret Lewontin’s words as meaning, essentially “at all costs we must deny the possibility of God”, the subsequent sentences only amplify that meaning.

    However, to those of us who interpret the earlier part of the quote rather differently, the omitted words are crucial. Here is my gloss on Lewontin’s words:

    It is not that the scientific establishment forces us to accept a material explanation for the material world, but, on the contrary, that our a priori commitment to finding material causes leads to a methodology designed to do just that, no matter how surprising they may be. Moreover material causes is the only kind of cause we are equipped to find; any other cause subverts the entire basis of our methodology.

    And this is, to our eyes, clarified by:

    The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

    In other words, that appealing to the “supernatural” to explain the “natural” is to assume that our reliance on the regularities of nature that allows us to draw causal inferences about the world is unfounded.

    I wouldn’t choose Lewontin’s words myself, so here are mine:

    Science is a method designed to investigate material aka “natural” causality. If a scientific principle is apparently broken (gravity defied, for instance) it is the scientist’s job to find what is wrong with the scientific principle, and how it must be adjusted to account for the observed phenomenon. That is not to refuse to accept the possibility of a Divine Foot; it is to recognise that any Divine Foot is, essentially, not amenable to scientific investigation.

    Science cannot, in other words, by definition, investigate the super-natural, not because scientists are required, as a condition of their PhDs to reject a non-material universe, but because a methodology designed to investigate material causes cannot enlighten us as to non-material causes.

    All science can do, in the face of an apparent supernatural event, is to say: “either this is out of our range, or there’s a material cause we’ve missed”. And so they investigate possible material causes.

    The alternative is to say simply “we don’t know”. Which is not a good reason for any scientists to down tools!

    And this, fundamentally, is what puzzles me about the whole ID project. I’m a scientist; I’m interested in intelligent (I’m a cognitive scientist) and I’m interested in design (I trained in architecture, and I’m a small-time composer). So, confronted with clear evidence (as I see it) of intelligent design in living things, my first question is: “what kind of intelligence designed this?”

    And science gives us excellent tools with which to investigate that question. It even, pace Dembski himself, gives us tools to investigate intentional design.

    But here we reach an impasse, or at least, a blockage: there is a perfectly good intelligent system that can account for the design we see in living things, but it is a system without much depth of foresight. So to those of us on our side of the impasse, the next question is: is there any evidence of foresight in the design of living things? Because if there is, clearly we to look elsewhere. But if we have evidence of lack of foresight, then we have a good contender.

    I think the evidence suggests the latter, myself, but I know where I’d look to try to find the former. What I find puzzling is that those who want science to acknowledge the possibility of an intentional designer aren’t generally prepared to look for the evidence that would support that hypothesis. Instead, what we see is Intelligent Design advanced as the null.

    That’s the real divide, between us, I think – not that scientists refuse to admit the Divine Foot, but that the Divine Foot can only be investigated by scientific method if it is granted the status of a study hypothesis and not simply relegated to the Null.

    The problem of course, is that that would render said Foot not Divine!

  74. Doveton:

    It was not necessary to the main point to elaborate on the strawman blunder. So, in charity I would have chosen to leave it out, as I also originally left out the story of the woman who disbelieved in receiving broadcasts from the Moon.

    I was accused of quotemining on the moon story so I put in a foot note, recently adding the point on von Braun.

    I have now been even more sharply accused, by someone with a track record, so I have put in the additional two sentences and have decided to explicitly markup the citation.

    Makes it harder to read, but makes the problems explicit.

    I would have preferred not to have to go after prof Lewontin on the way he cited and commented on Beck [it is both a sadly sophomoric error on his part -- do you REALLY think that those who believe in God are gullible and would believe "anything"? on what evidence? or is that not gratuitous contempt-filled prejudice? -- and tangential to the key matter, a priori imposed materialism], but now I have little choice.

    Thanks to MG and her circle over at MF’s blog, I now have little choice.

    What I find astonishing is that some people actually seem to believe that the two sentences JUSTIFY ideological censorship on science.

    GEM of TKI

  75. 75

    So to those of us on our side of the impasse, the next question is: is there any evidence of foresight in the design of living things?

    How about the protocols for reading genetic information?

    From what physical laws did it come, and when did it appear?

  76. 76

    Or how about the longterm storage of genetic information, away from the chaotic environment?

    Is that “long term” planning, or is it “short term” planning?

  77. PS: Doveton, think about the mindset of those who imagine thatan anecdote about a woman who on her limited experience doubts that TV could be broadcast from the Moon, or from a sneering strawman dismissal of theists as gullible and irrational believers in chaos, to the notion that such JUSTIFIES materialistic ideological censorship of science. If the Inquisition — which still exists BTW, under a different name — were to be censoring science, the same people would be screaming for murder. Notice, too, how across today and yesterday, not one of the ever so confident accusers of quote mining have reasonably addressed Newton or von Braun, or the history of the founding of modern science and its idea-roots, not to mention say the implications of blocks and treatments vs controls design of experimental or clinical studies, which incorporates a design inference. Ask yourself, what does this tell you?

  78. 78

    Or, how about the STOP codon, is that a product of Intentionality, or sheer dumb luck?

  79. 79

    And what about genetic error correction?

    What is an error, and to what does an error contrast to?

  80. 80

    What about the logic gate in the lac operon?

    Does it display intent?

  81. It only affects you directly if you are scientist.

    no, if affects the students force-fed atheism by their ‘scientific’ professors/teachers…

    of course if you are a scientist, and don’t bow at the altar of atheims then you are expelled.

  82. it is to recognise that any Divine Foot is, essentially, not amenable to scientific investigation.

    why not? since you are investigating an ordered universe…one that has predictable laws…which is merely a reflection of the creator of that universe.

    everything you rely upon to do ‘science’ is because of a predictable ordered universe…why do you think science as you know it grew out of christian europe and not the world of islam? the god of islam is unpredictable, the God of christianity and Judiasm is not.

  83. “of course if you are a scientist, and don’t bow at the altar of atheims then you are expelled.”

    Lol. Tell that to Francis Collins.

  84. UB,

    So let me get this right: In your original remark you state that it is unobservable, but yet a mere remark or two later, it has become elevated to the status of established science.

    No, the idea is taken seriously because empirical evidence from established science suggests it. One technical reason for taking it seriously is that there is no unique vacuum in theories of high energy physics that involve spontaneous symmetry breaking, extra dimensions, or supersymmetry. In other words, it seems that the laws of physics in this universe could have been different.

    The multiverse concept has some explanatory power based on, for example, the theory of inflation which itself has strong evidential support. That doesn’t mean that the multiverse is a given.

    Now, physicists are already doing things with the multiverse idea such as looking for evidence in the Cosmic Microwave Background of collisions between our universe and “bubbles” from other universes. They are already performing tests based on the hypothesis.

    Please tell me how the dynamic of this scenario is different than a design proponent knowing that he/she cannot directly see or measure an unobservable phenomena, but finds physical artifacts of its presence left in this universe,

    Firstly, let me clear some things up by stating that I don’t believe that methodological naturalism entails a commitment to only positing entities that are in this universe. Something can in principle still exhibit regularity, allowing it to be studied, and be outside, or partly outside, this universe. The commitment with mn is to looking for regularities.

    In pointing out the methodological difficulty of inferring the supernatural (which suspends natural regularities) I am not pointing out the methodological difficulty of inferring design. That is a separate question. One problem I am pointing out is inferring that something that affects nature is supernatural. How do you determine that? What methodology can we use to determine an entity who does not function according to laws?

  85. 85
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Upright BiPed: I didn’t say that living things don’t display “intent” – they do.

    I said that that the evolutionary processes that are postulated to give rise to not predict intent, and intent is conspicuously absent from in the hierarchical nesting pattern identified by Linnaeus in living things.

    But living things themselves do display “intent” – in fact most organisms in the animal kingdom are well designed to make “forward models” of their actions, and select them on the basis of both their immediate and more distal utility.

    So, the interesting question is: how could a mechanism for which there seems to be no, or limited, capacity for forward modelling (there may be more than we usually think) result in organisms that have that capacity?

    It’s a good question, but one to which there are potentially good answers.

  86. Driver, ID does not “incorporate the supernatural” into its hyposthesis.

    I never said it did. I am talking about what Lewontin is talking about, which is excluding the supernatural from science.

  87. Dr REC:

    Tell that to Marvin Gaskell, Caroline Crocker, Granville Sewell, and others all the way back to Dean Kenyon and beyond.

    Then, tell it to the countless others who suffer the same but have not had the benefit of headlines.

    The callous indifference to censorship and career busting under the false name of science will eventually blow back in the faces of those doing it, and it will not be nice.

    Do you not see what is being piled up until one day it will burst forth on you?

    GEM of TKI

  88. That’s the real divide, between us, I think – not that scientists refuse to admit the Divine Foot,

    obviously they do, as several quotes from people like Provine that I posted earlier make clear.

    the lengths that atheists posing as ‘scientists’ go to deny God is laughable. like the multiverse…pure speculation…but it HAS to be true…because the alternative is UNTHINKABLE. (paraphrasing arthur keith)

    or as Wald said:

    George Wald, an evolutionist, states, “When it comes to the origin of life there are only two possibilities: creation or spontaneous generation. There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved one hundred years ago, but that leads us to only one other conclusion, that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds; therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance!” (“The Origin of Life,” Scientific American, 191:48. May 1954).

    the only difference is what you put your faith in…b

  89. Is that “long term” planning, or is it “short term” planning?

    One has to wonder, if it is indeed the case that life has been on this planet from almost the first moment this planet could sustain life, and thus has persisted for billions of years, whether this would ever be acknowledged as evidence in favor of “long-term” planning.

    I’m thinking the evidence doesn’t really matter.

  90. Driver:

    Why do you insist on the question-begging, agenda- and poison- loaded dichotomy imposed by ideologues in lab coats, “natural vs supernatural,” when the correct issue is nature [= chance and/or necessity] vs ART, with the further study of reliable empirical traces of these causal factors?

    Why is it that you are unable to address the specific points in linked documents squarely on the merits?

    is it that you are able to cite indoctrinated talking points that attack cleverly set up strawmen, but struggle to address the real issues?

    Please, think.

    GEM of TKI

  91. Lol. Tell that to Francis Collins.

    he does bow at the altar of darwin…but he still encounters criticism because he is a christian…

    another example of the extreme ‘tolerance’ in academia…

  92. 92

    Driver. reading over your post…two quick points:

    1.

    No, the idea is taken seriously because empirical evidence from established science suggests it.

    Yet the physical evidence of codes and physico-dynamically inert symbol systems in genetic information processing doesn’t even lift an eyebrow. The fact that the origin of these systems are only associated with the living kingdom is simply ignored.

    2.

    In pointing out the methodological difficulty of inferring the supernatural (which suspends natural regularities)…

    I repeat from my previous comment:

    “Driver, ID does not “incorporate the supernatural” into its hyposthesis.

    Thats particular duty is left to the materialist watchdogs so that they can keep the straw burning.”

    Thank you for proving my point.

  93. 93

    I never said it did. I am talking about what Lewontin is talking about, which is excluding the supernatural from science.

    How do you define ‘supernatural?’ Is the unknown supernatural? If we see an effect and search the cause, which is yet unknown, is it supernatural, and then does it become natural once we understand it? Were eclipses supernatural until we understood their causes?
    It seems that ‘supernatural’ is a fuzzy, arbitrary line between what we understand and what we don’t. Given how much we don’t understand, that seems like a foolish, limited way to perceive reality.

  94. KF,

    I would have preferred not to have to go after prof Lewontin on the way he cited and commented on Beck [it is both a sadly sophomoric error on his part -- do you REALLY think that those who believe in God are gullible and would believe "anything"? on what evidence? or is that not gratuitous contempt-filled prejudice? -- and tangential to the key matter, a priori imposed materialism], but now I have little choice.

    Needless to say, it does not matter in this case what I believe, but rather what Lewontin believed.

    It seems to me that Lewontin was not in anyway referring to gullibility and believing in anything in general. His statement appears to be in the context of what Beck noted, and then more fully elaborated in context in his second sentence – that believers in God can believe in anything in terms of explanations of the phenomenon seen in this world.

    He does make it clear that he did indeed believe that those who believe in God could accept just about anything as an explanation – “that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen” – for any phenomenon. Is this not so? Do you not believe that miracles can happen, KF? Does such a belief not then allow that God can rupture the regularities of nature, creating irregular, non-repeatable, inconsistent, and unpredictable causes for any and all events at any time?

    If so, I’d say you substantiate what Lewontin believed.

    If not, could you explain the parameters that are placed on God that dictate the miracles he can and cannot perform and when?

    Of course, there’s the other side of this to consider. Lewontin was a pretty smart guy – I’m sure you agree. I’m betting he knew what wrote and why. That you feel it reflects poorly on him is all well and good, but going so far as changing it out of pity is a might bit arrogant, would you not agree? What makes you think you know better than what Lewontin actually stated? Further, what makes you think Lewontin needs or wants protecting and pity?

    I clearly can’t speak for Lewontin, but if you chose to drop two sentences from the work of most authors – and certainly the scholarly ones – I know as an act of charity, they would be quite insulted.

    It seems then a rather weak and unflattering claim that one should take pity and change the meaning of such a bright an articulate author so as make his words and thoughts conform more to the image of what you imagine he could have been.

  95. I would like some clarification on how the part that KF originally omitted changes the context.

    MathGrrl:

    Please see my comments numbered 33 and 37 in the original thread.

    Yes, I read tose and I am not buying any of it.

    I was wondering if someone has a valid point to make.

    Thanks…

  96. PS: Why do you insist on framing thusly:

    What methodology can we use to determine an entity who does not function according to laws?

    Do you not see that we routinely and successfully study empirical traces and characteristics of both chance and art, which do not fit in under deterministic laws?

    So, why should we passively sit by and allow a censorship to benumb such studies when the conclusions we arrive at, e.g. on the fine tuned cosmos, may be uncomfortable for those who would act thusly — and the linked has the context and comments for those who think this is quote-mining:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    This is utterly indefensible, and if a point cannot be defended, a distraction often works to duck it.

    In reply, I note that this stands on its own and speaks for itself as an advocacy of censorship on science.

    To try to defend such by smearing those who would object that hey are so gullible as to believe anything, and accusing them falsely of believing in a chaos not a cosmos amenable to scientific study simply carries this to the next step of walking off the cliff.

  97. Upright BiPed, add tRNA and AARSs to your list.

    The tRNA molecules contain 70 to 80 nucleotides and fold into a characteristic cloverleaf structure. Specialized tRNAs exist for each of the 20 amino acids needed for protein synthesis, and in many cases more than one tRNA for each amino acid is present…The amino acids are loaded onto the tRNAs by specialized enzymes called aminoacyl tRNA synthetases, usually with one synthetase for each amino acid.

  98. Richard Dawkins weighs in on science and the supernatural- Dawkins starts around 14:30

  99. KF,

    What I find astonishing is that some people actually seem to believe that the two sentences JUSTIFY ideological censorship on science.

    Well, I certainly don’t believe the two sentences justify ideological censorship, but then I don’t agree that checking one’s belief in God at the door when trying to arrive at scientific explanations is ideological censorship. As noted above, if one subscribes to miracles, then there can be no way to control for any experiment and all scientific explanations are rendered untenable. That is, unless one places some kind of box around God that defines the limits of what He can and cannot affect, but then that raises the question of what the term “God” actually refers to.

  100. 100

    Lizzie, I wasn’t talking about an organism deplaying intent within its environment, I was talking about INTENT being manifest in the molecuolar biology of the organism itself.

    - – - – - – -

    By the way, do you plan on returning to our previous converasation? I have a post waiting for you there regarding the challenge we had been discussing.

    Here

  101. EL @ 73 — I totally agree.

    I am, like most scientists, a methodological naturalist but not a philosophical one. I don’t dismiss the possibility of ‘non material causes’ but I don’t assume they exist in every gap, or project them to support any theistic ideology. When I work as a scientist I am studying the material world. The hypothesis that an intelligent entity intervened in the creation of life falls under the discipline of science but only so far as that entity can be understood and studied through the methodology of science. If that entity is unknowable in power and scope then science cannot study it or reliably measure its effect on the world because we cannot know if ANY observed mechanism is actually real, or just an illusion created by an all powerful being.

    I would summarize the differences between the stance KF is demanding and science like this:

    1>> The non materialist stance -lets assume a being of unknowable power can intervene in the world in an unlimited way. Now lets try and explain what we observe.

    2>> The methodological naturalist stance – Lets assume that what we observe and measure can be explained in terms of what we can observe and measure, and see how far we can get.

    I prefer 2 myself, it makes more sense and delivers better results. It is limited to what can be measured and observed, and I would note, the only things observed to engage in design and behave ‘intelligently’ are living, material things on earth. I believe someone pointed out here a while ago that if you want to invoke an ‘intelligent’ cause for the origin of all life, then that cause cannot be alive.

  102. Doveton:

    Nice try:

    Here is Lewontin, in the whole section:

    ____________

    >> Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

    The mutual exclusion of the material and the demonic has not been true of all cultures and all times. In the great Chinese epic Journey to the West, demons are an alternative form of life, responsible to certain deities, devoted to making trouble for ordinary people, but severely limited. They can be captured, imprisoned, and even killed by someone with superior magic.6 In our own intellectual history, the definitive displacement of divine powers by purely material causes has been a relatively recent changeover, and that icon of modern science, Newton, was at the cusp. It is a cliché of intellectual history that Newton attempted to accommodate God by postulating Him as the Prime Mover Who, having established the mechanical laws and set the whole universe in motion, withdrew from further intervention, leaving it to people like Newton to reveal His plan. But what we might call “Newton’s Ploy” did not really get him off the hook. He understood that a defect of his system of mechanics was the lack of any equilibrating force that would return the solar system to its regular set of orbits if there were any slight perturbation. He was therefore forced, although reluctantly, to assume that God intervened from time to time to set things right again. It remained for Laplace, a century later, to produce a mechanics that predicted the stability of the planetary orbits, allowing him the hauteur of his famous reply to Napoleon. When the Emperor observed that there was, in the whole of the Mécanique Céleste, no mention of the author of the universe, he replied, “Sire, I have no need of that hypothesis.” One can almost hear a stress on the “I.” >>
    ___________

    he got Newton wrong, mixing him up withthe Newtonians who followed — should have worked through both the General Scholium and Opticks Query 31.

    He is indeed saying — by quoting with approval [notice, no distancing] — that “anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything.”

    That is as broad-brush a dismissal as you are going to get.

    This then goes on to indict, via strawman caricature: “To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.”

    Sorry, it is you all who opened the can of worms, and they are squirming out.

    They will not be stuffed back into the can now.

    GEM of TKI

  103. 103

    if one subscribes to miracles, then there can be no way to control for any experiment and all scientific explanations are rendered untenable.

    What is the difference between a miracle and the application of unknown technology? It seems contradictory that science would arbitrarily exclude the unknown.

  104. 104
    Elizabeth Liddle

    KF: Yes indeed, scientist routinely study what you call “art”. My own domain is the study of intentional behaviour.

    I’m more than happy, and so would all scientists be, to study the mechanisms by which “art” is produced.

    But presenting “art” as the null hypothesis is not a sensible, or informative, use of the scientific method. We cannot infer “art” from lack of evidence for “non-art”.

    What we should do, IMO, if we suspect “art”, is to investigate the nature of the “artist”.

    That’s exactly (if not in those terms) what evolutionary biologists do.

    This is quite different from attributing a “supernatural” cause to phenomenon. A “super-natural” cause, by definition, is a-causal. It simply puts a stop to continued investigation; it is equivalent to saying: Z caused Y and Y caused X and … B caused A, but we don’t know what caused A, so here we must stop, because we must allow for the possibility that what caused A is supernatural”.

    If you want scientists to allow for the possibility of Divine Causation, then, effectively, what you must do is to draw a line beyond which no more causal explanations must be sought.

    That seems more like censorship to me than what Lewontin advocates!

  105. ScottAndrews,

    How do you define ‘supernatural?’ Is the unknown supernatural? If we see an effect and search the cause, which is yet unknown, is it supernatural, and then does it become natural once we understand it? Were eclipses supernatural until we understood their causes?
    It seems that ‘supernatural’ is a fuzzy, arbitrary line between what we understand and what we don’t. Given how much we don’t understand, that seems like a foolish, limited way to perceive reality.

    Not really:

    From Merriam-Webster:

    1: of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil

    Basically, anything postulated as existing beyond the ability to sense or existing outside the confines of this universe, yet still capable of interacting with this universe by some non-natural means is deemed supernatural.

  106. I just love quote-mining, especially the ones that drive Darwinians crazy!!!

  107. 107

    Z caused Y and Y caused X and … B caused A, but we don’t know what caused A, so here we must stop,

    So if a line of inquiry leads us to something we don’t understand, then it was unscientific in the first place?
    How do you distinguish between what we can understand and what we can’t? The origin of life is entirely unknown, with no guarantee of ever finding an answer, and yet people are plugging away. It seems that line is arbitrary, a matter of personal preference.

  108. 108

    Basically, anything postulated as existing beyond the ability to sense or existing outside the confines of this universe, yet still capable of interacting with this universe by some non-natural means is deemed supernatural.

    In a nutshell, if it’s non-natural then it’s supernatural. I was hoping for something a little less circular.

  109. 109
    Elizabeth Liddle

    ScottAndrews: Interesting response

    So if a line of inquiry leads us to something we don’t understand, then it was unscientific in the first place?

    Well, no. All lines of inquiry lead us to something we don’t understand. That in turn becomes the subject for our next enquiry!

    Or let me put that more accurately in terms of the scientific method:

    Scientific methodology involves fitting models to data. No model ever fits the data exactly, but we retain models that fit better and reject models that fit worse. So science is an unending iterative approach to model refinement.

    More specifically, when we have fitted a model to existing data, we extract from our model predictions about new data, then we go looking for that new data. If it comports to our prediction we retain our model, if it doesn’t, we reject, or refine it. Rinse and repeat.

    But there is always something we don’t know – no scientific model ever fits the data perfectly. Sometimes that is because of simple measurement error, but more generally, it is because scientific models, are, well, models – they are not the real thing and always oversimplified compared to the real thing. There are always factors that we haven’t modelled, some of these being stochastic factors that can at best only be modelled statistically.

    And so….

    How do you distinguish between what we can understand and what we can’t?

    By looking at the data our models do not fit, and seeking to find a model that fits more closely, and using that model to make predictions about new data.

    The origin of life is entirely unknown, with no guarantee of ever finding an answer, and yet people are plugging away. It seems that line is arbitrary, a matter of personal preference.

    Well, some historical events are “inert” in the sense that the traces they leave are irredeemably eradicated by time, and indeed Entropy. So questions like: what did my grandmother have for breakfast on the 15th March, 1908? is probably unknowable. All traces of evidence that could possibly lead us to the answer are almost certainly gone. The Information is destroyed :)

    But obviously I can’t conclude that therefore that breakfast was a supernatural event.

    And what I can do, if I’m really interested, is to answer a more general question about breakfasts Edwardian Scottish farmhouses, or even, for more remote questions, the diet of Egyptian farmers in 2000 BC.

    And so, while we can probably never know exactly how life got started on Earth, we can certainly make predictive models that fit what we know about the nature of living things, and allow us to search for new data that would tend to support, or infirm our models.

    And if, for example, scientists managed, for example, to find physical and chemical conditions that tended to result in the spontaneous formation and reformation of lipid vesicles (to go with one current hypothesis), and where the probability of reformation was contingent on the specifica sequences of a captured self-replicating polymer, then we’d have a potentially viable model, that would make specific predictions about what to look for when investigating the geology of the early earth.

    And those investigations might demonstrate beyond doubt that conditions were quite different from those hypothesised, and it would be back to the drawing board.

    And it might be the end of grant funding.

    But it wouldn’t be a justification for saying: “therefore life must have a supernatural origin” any more than it would be to draw the same conclusion about my grandmother’s breakfast.

    Is what I’m saying :)

    Does that make sense?

  110. 110

    Elizabeth,

    What you’re saying does make reasonable sense, and yet the question remains unanswered. By your own words the scientific method fits models to data, but you also state (indirectly) that we don’t yet have even a potentially viable model pertaining to the origin of life. We certainly don’t have such a model pertaining to the deliberate design and creation of life, either. And yet one unknown is natural while the other is called supernatural.
    Again, it seems like an arbitrary line that rules out the possibility one does not prefer, leaving only the other.

  111. Dr Liddle:

    If intelligent acts leave characteristic, reliable, traces, such as FSCO/I is a candidate to be, then one is entitled to look at the warrant for the claim that FSCO/I is a reliable sign of intelligent action. If that is reasonably confirmed then one has an epistemic right to infer thereon from FSCO/I to intelligent action. Even where there is no obvious designer, or no obvious embodied designer to do the act.

    Notice, the inference is entirely in the empirical world, and would confer the sort of provisional warrant by inference to best current explanation that is ever so common in science and related endeavours.

    Now that it were done is one thing, who dunit is a different thing. That would have to be established based on circumstances and credible candidates that can be addressed on essentially forensic lines.

    When it comes the FSCO in the fine tuned observed cosmos, that points to intelligent cause of sufficient power, knowledge, purpose and ability to make a cosmos.

    The scientific inference is to the act of design on credibly reliable sign.

    The onward conclusion that there is a designer beyond our world who has some familiar sounding characteristics, is a step beyond, much as detectives use scientific findings but go beyond to make an overall case.

    At any rate it is quite plain that the insinuation that since there is a possibility that finding signs of design in the origin of the cosmos might open up a forensic study that goes beyond the reaches of science and may actually support a theistic conclusion should be used to censor science from looking for the credible truth based on empirical evidence, is obviously indefensible.

    And unfortunately, Lewontin’s testimony is that this is common among the elite scientists who man the key institutions. This is backed up by the sort of line that the US NAS and the US NSTA have been pushing. (Not the onward link to these clips, that no-one has challenged.)

    I think I can hold it on fair comment over the past 24 hours of back and forth, that Lewontin did advocate a priori materialism as a censoring constraint on science, and that in trying to defend it, he has seriously disrespected sand caricatured theistic thinkers while seeming to be ignorant of the historical theistic roots of modern science.

    Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to have been indoctrinated in this agenda and are as yet unable or unwilling to acknowledge that something has seriously gone wrong.

    It is also quite clear that the accusation against me that by omitting the sentences in which strawman based slanders of theists are advanced, I have quote-mined Lewontin, is plainly false. I did not enjoy the adverse impact the further discussion must eventually have on Mr Lewontin’s reputation, but I was forced to defend myself on the merits.

    I hope that those who put forth such unwarranted accusations will withdraw them and apologise for them. However, on track record, I expect that some will propagate the false accusations far and wide as though they were substantiated.

    That is sad to have to expect, but I fear this is only being realistic in the face of people who have not hesitated to falsely and recklessly accuse me and the circle of people at UD — most of whom I have never met in the flesh — of being a nest of perverts.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: As I have repeatedly pointed out, the design inference on FSCO/I in life does not point to a designer being within or beyond the cosmos, as Thaxton et al said 25 years ago in the very first technical level design book. As I have repeatedly said in recent weeks, Venter has given proof of concept that a sufficient cause for life on earth would be a molecular nanotech lab a few generations beyond where Venter et al now are. I find it astonishing that, having said that over and over and over and over, it is simply not noticed. Where there is a design inference that does point beyond the cosmos is that on cosmological origin, but such an origin is implied by simply the well established conclusion that we live in an observed cosmos that credibly had a beginning and is contingent. That points to a necessary being as the ultimate root of such a world, one that on the fine tuning evidence would be intelligent and purposeful as well as enormously knowledgeable and powerful. A theistic cosmology as a worldview is not at all unreasonable as an inference to best explanation — as opposed to claimed indisputable proof on deduction from premises accepted or obvious to all rational observers. And yes such a designer of the cosmos would be a very good candidate for the designer of observed life, but that is a bringing together of two separate lines of reasoning, not an imposed a priori.

  112. Elizabeth Liddle:

    A “super-natural” cause, by definition, is a-causal.

    Sanity check. Need to make sure my eyes are not deceiving me.

    Did you just say that a cause is by definition not a cause?

  113. 113
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Did not intend to, but I could have been clearer: a supernatural cause is a causeless cause.

    It’s the end of the line for investigation.

  114. Dr Liddle:

    Actually, a contingent cosmos implies a necessary, and thus causally independent, beginning-less being somewhere at the root of the causal chain.

    That is not unique to a theistic view.

    That is the logical entailment of a credibly contingent observed cosmos. (The debate is on what is the best candidate, not whether there must be a necessary being.)

    GEM of TKI

  115. Elizabeth Liddle:

    What we should do, IMO, if we suspect “art”, is to investigate the nature of the “artist”.

    And if the “artist” is dead?

    That’s exactly (if not in those terms) what evolutionary biologists do.

    No it isn’t. Evolutionary biologists have no operational definition of “art” nor the ability to say who or what the “artist” is.

    So they can hardly investigate the nature of the artist. They deny that art exists, or they call it by some other name (accidental paint spatters that only have the appearance of art, for example), and then reason that there is no artist, and thus decline to investigate the nature of the artist.

  116. Basically, anything postulated as existing beyond the ability to sense or existing outside the confines of this universe, yet still capable of interacting with this universe by some non-natural means is deemed supernatural.

    Basically, once the interaction with the natural world takes place, it’s natural, by definition.

    So it can be studied by science.

  117. 117

    How do you know if a cause is causeless? What is the difference between ’causeless’ and ‘of unknown cause?’ That’s why this seems so arbitrary to me. In once case we stick our head in up to the next in research because we don’t know the cause, but we run screaming from another line of inquiry because we don’t know the cause.

    It’s the end of the line for investigation.

    That’s an unsupported assertion. Design leaves much to be investigated.
    I don’t see the sense in defining reality by what we can and can’t investigate. Science examines reality. It doesn’t define it.

  118. 118
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Scott – I did in fact give an example of “a potentially viable model pertaining to the origin of life” – one that is currently being developed, and already generating testable hypotheses.

    But to address last point :

    Again, it seems like an arbitrary line that rules out the possibility one does not prefer, leaving only the other.

    I’m not suggesting that scientists draw any such line -actually the reverse. Science does not, pace Lewontine, “rule out” supernatural causation; it simply does not have any criteria by which to stop looking for another cause-behind-the-cause.

    On the other hand, those who argue that science science to “rule in” supernatural causation, are, in effect, saying: stop looking for causes-behind-causes, because clearly you’ve hit the buffers and the next one is God.

    In other words, the idea that science is ideologically opposed to supernatural causation is (IMO) flawed. Yes, science does not consider supernatural causation, but not because scientists are opposed to the Divine Foot on principle, but because their domain is the investigation of causal chains. Divinity is the end of a causal chain. But as the essence of divinity is a causeless cause, there is no way to distinguish, scientifically, between a cause you don’t know and a cause that doesn’t have one. The only remaining strategy, therefore, for science, is to keep hauling on the chain to see if you can expose yet another link.

    Not because you refuse to countenance the possibility that there isn’t one, but because the only way of finding out whether there is another one is to keep pulling.

    Anyway, I appreciate the conversation :)

  119. Elizabeth Liddle:

    …a supernatural cause is a causeless cause.

    And you know this how?

    …a supernatural cause is a causeless cause.

    Even if it were true, so what?

    Science studies effects, not causes.

    Causes causing causes is not the way it works. Causes cause effects.

    Now if you were claiming the existence of effects with no cause, that would be one thing. But that does not appear to be what you are saying at all.

  120. 120

    On the other hand, those who argue that science science to “rule in” supernatural causation, are, in effect, saying: stop looking for causes-behind-causes, because clearly you’ve hit the buffers and the next one is God.

    I don’t argue that science should rule in supernatural causation. I’m saying that there’s no meaningful definition of any such thing as supernatural causation by which a thing could be ruled out.
    Every definition provided is arbitrary and meaningless. ‘Supernatural’ means nothing more than ‘Unknown, and really hard to find out, so we’ll keep looking under the street light.’
    Science is devalued when such sloppy, arbitrary, and ultimately ideological limitations are placed upon it.

  121. 121
    Elizabeth Liddle

    ScottAndrews:

    How do you know if a cause is causeless? What is the difference between ’causeless’ and ‘of unknown cause?’ That’s why this seems so arbitrary to me. In once case we stick our head in up to the next in research because we don’t know the cause, but we run screaming from another line of inquiry because we don’t know the cause.

    It’s the end of the line for investigation.

    That’s an unsupported assertion. Design leaves much to be investigated.
    I don’t see the sense in defining reality by what we can and can’t investigate. Science examines reality. It doesn’t define it.

    We have a small communication problem!

    Yes, of course we must investigate design.

    I’m not quite sure which line of research you think anyone runs screaming from.

    All I’m saying (and at bottom, I think it’s what Lewontin is saying) is that science does not have the methodology to rule Divinity in. It only has the methodology to rule Divinity out (of a particular bit of the causal chain).

    Because once you hit Divinity, there’s no more investigating to be done. But the only way you know you haven’t hit Divinity is to see whether investigating yields non-Divinity.

    Let me try a Fable:

    “A sea nymph was looking for her lost love. A fairy told her: go into the cave on the seashore, and call his name. If the echo returns his name, he is drowned. If you hear no echo, you must call louder.”

    That’s essentially the position science is in with regard to God. :)

  122. Scott, “supernatural” has a clear explicit meaning, which is “beyond natural law”. However, I agree that there is no clear scientifically useful definition of anything that is supernatural. Science simply cannot be done with sloppy and arbitrary definitions.

  123. 123

    All I’m saying (and at bottom, I think it’s what Lewontin is saying) is that science does not have the methodology to rule Divinity in. It only has the methodology to rule Divinity out (of a particular bit of the causal chain).

    What a load.

    Science does not have the methodology to do either, for reasons others have mentioned (the difficulty in defining ‘supernatural’, and even ‘natural’), the fact that the natural is not in competition with the divine under plenty of orthodox views of God, etc.

    Science as a tool has nothing to say about the divine either way, because science is a very limited, anemic thing. Hucksters who try to pretend that science can detect when the divine (whether God, angels, or otherwise) is not present or had no role, but they can never even infer the divine (because how would they ever know what the hallmark of the divine is?) are exactly that: Hucksters. Ones who harm science, at that.

    Because once you hit Divinity, there’s no more investigating to be done.

    According to what dogma? Again, this is nonsense.

    Science is a methodology grounded in certain assumptions, and is harshly limited by the assumptions and methodology both. Unfortunately, those limitations make it powerless in the face of various claims about divine, design, etc. Unless, of course, we jig with the definition of design.

    On that note, keep in mind that all this talk about how science must forever keep prodding and pressing and never allow itself to hit a wall is manifest nonsense nowadays. Plenty of scientists are willing to entertain the idea that some things exist or occur without cause, ranging from universes to quantum minutae to elsewise. In other words, “stop looking for causes behind causes” – even if we ignore Mung’s point about science’s relation to effects rather than causes – just doesn’t pan out. Or at least, it seems one can say “stop looking for causes behind causes” so long as you stop short of anything too intimidating.

  124. Mung,

    Where appropriate, science weaves effects and causes into an explanatory framework.

  125. 125

    I agree that divinity isn’t an issue for science. ‘Divine’ is an adjective. It can’t be objectively measured.
    The line of research many scientists run screaming from is intelligent design. It is rejected, not on evidence, but ultimately on the superficial basis that the conclusion is supernatural and therefore unscientific. As long as the search for a non-intelligent cause goes on, anything else is foolishness.
    But, as we have agreed, that line is meaningless. The question is raised, then, why does academia keep drawing it and painting it bright red? Why is it perceived as a foot that must not be allowed in the door?
    Bias is human, but every effort should be made to eliminate or mitigate it, not institutionalize it. It renders science useless and condemns us to search under the proverbial streetlight.

  126. 126
    Elizabeth Liddle

    OK, nullasalus, we might agree on this.

    Science does not have the methodology to investigate the Divine, right?

    So what methodology would you suggest for such a task?

  127. 127
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Well, Scott, in that case I agree with you.

    I think intelligent design is perfectly amenable to scientific investigation. In fact it’s done daily, by crime investigation boards, and by psychologists, neuroscientists, biologists, archaeologists, and many more.

    Nice note on which to say goodnight :)

  128. [ID] is rejected, not on evidence, but ultimately on the superficial basis that the conclusion is supernatural and therefore unscientific.

    ID is not rejected on the basis that the conclusion is supernatural. I thought ID made no conclusions as to who the designer is?

  129. 129

    Science does not have the methodology to investigate the Divine, right?

    If you agree that science as science is incapable of having any commentary on the divine – of either detecting the presence or lack of God, “the supernatural”, designers*, etc in nature – you are taking a stance which radically undermines Lewontin’s position. You’re welcome to it, just realize what the cost is.

    So what methodology would you suggest for such a task?

    Reason? Philosophy? Metaphysics? Common human experience? And keep in mind, these things can be combined with findings from science. Science as science may have zero comment on whether or not evolution is teleological. Science viewed through this or that philosophical, metaphysical or reasonable lens may well do so (though at that point it’s not science, it’s a hybrid.)

    (* What’s often forgotten is that there’s nothing in ID that demands designers be ‘supernatural’ – and if designers, period, are beyond science’s purview, then quite a large chunk of what would popularly be called ‘natural’ is ruled out as well. Methodological naturalism is an utter misnomer.)

  130. 130

    ID does not conclude that the designer is supernatural. (The inferred designer could be human in some cases.) Nonetheless, it is rejected on the pretense that a designer must be supernatural.

  131. Driver @124:

    Where appropriate, science weaves effects and causes into an explanatory framework.

    Which is not the same as asserting that every effect must also be a cause or science absolutely breaks down.

  132. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Science does not have the methodology to investigate the Divine, right?

    So what methodology would you suggest for such a task?

    Christianity has long held that God is a person. How would you go about “investigating” another person?

  133. Mung:

    It is worse than that, in fact the very scientists themselves exemplify something necessary for the practice of science that — on pain of absurdity — cannot reduce to a chain of blind cause and effect tracing to chance and/or necessity. NAMELY, REASONED THOUGHT.

    If all reduces to chance and necessity via blind forces of physical change, thought, logic and reason are also discredited, and with them, science. I discussed this above in my call for a response on the merits, point by point, as already linked, but of course it was ignored in the haste to score dubious debate points against design thought.

    This point is not a new idea, we may see it already in Haldane eighty years ago:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    About fifteen years ago, the issue resurfaced in the work of Crick, in his The Astonishing Hypothesis, where he declared:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    H’mm, does this hold for your SCIENTIFIC thinking, analysis etc, too? In which case, would not such things necessarily reduce to blind forces of chance and/or necessity, utterly irrelevant to truth, reason, or rigour etc?

    Indeed, that is exactly what design thinker Philip Johnson used as the basis of his retort. As I went on to summarise in the linked:

    Philip Johnson has replied that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [[Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

    Plainly, we trust science because it is based on accuracy of fact, and soundness or cogency of reasoning. But if the above a priori materialism holds, science insofar as it depends on reason is reduced to the absurdity of Crick.

    This serves as a clue that should warn us that something is deeply amiss in a priori ideological materialism, as it is patently self-referentially absurd.

    Mental processes like reasoning, and moral constraints like integrity are critical if science is to succeed, and so we see that science is absurd if materialism is true. But the said science is held to be the REASONABLE grounds for materialism, though in fact the a priori materialism imposed in censorship as we have seen turns this into a vicious circle in logic. A priori materialism is written into the radical re-definition of science, and scientific results based on such censorship are then turned around and cited as though they now prove the claim.

    Absurd. Again.

    Instead, we need to recognise that the scientific, observational evidence points to a cosmos that credibly had a beginning, and so is contingent. In turn that points on logic to a begin-ner that at root must be without external causal dependence, i.e has no beginning and will have no end as it does not depend on an external factor for its existence. That underlying necessary being is eternal in a very literal sense.

    And since we are dealing with the origin of the material, natural universe, the necessary being at its root is beyond that order of nature, as was pointed out previously but — as is now usual — ignored b the ever so triumphalistic adherents of the vicious circle of materialist thought as just exposed. In short, in a very literal sense, it is super-natural. Beyond nature.

    The fine-tuning of our observed cosmos for C-chemistry, cell based intelligent life then points — on inference to best explanation — to properties of that necessary being: powerful and intelligent enough to design and effect a cosmos.

    Such a necessary being sounds a lot like the God of theism. Yes.

    All that means is that theism is not at all the absurdly silly believe anythong in a demonic chaos irrationality in the mockingly dismissive words Lewontin so unfortunately resorted to. And in addition, the concept of a God of order making an orderly and organised cosmos is immediately deeply consistent with a cosmos that has in it lawlike regularities to the point where even random processes are generally lawlike up to some distribution or other.

    Going back to the issue in the OP, it is plain that the imposition of a priori materialism on science is absurd and leads to self-destructive incoherence. It cannot be justified.

    The claimed attempt at justification turns into slander, which is more dangerous than people who lap it up apparently recognise.

    Just this evening, on the radio, I was catching in the background the story of a pastor in the Soviet Union who spent 18 years in gaol in the gulags, on successive terms based on patently absurd false accusations of sedition and the like.

    But, in a closed minded, ideologically driven amoral militantly atheistical culture like that, the most absurd suspicions and accusations could be cast and entertained, if they served the agendas of the powerful and their toadies and henchmen.

    So, an obviously innocent man was repeatedly put before kangaroo courts and sentenced to to or five more years, in which he would be subjected to life threatening abuses, which nearly killed him.

    Indeed, we should note the first sign and proof of his sedition: he had at one point five Bibles in his possession. Proof of fomenting rebellion against the state! Five years. And, again and again, he would be sent back to the gulag for equally absurd charges.

    Now, please, look at the accusation against me above, of quote-mining, and the “evidence” trotted out in “proof.”

    Look for any real substantiation of what is now doubtless being drumbeat repeated elsewhere as a proof of my guilt, guilt by accusation.

    Ask yourself where this sort of amoral, benumbed conscience absurdity would end up if unchecked.

    And, for God’s sake, have the decency to be ashamed.

    Ashamed enough to stop, apologise and desist from such madness that points only one way, to the ruin of our civilisation if it is unchecked.

    We have been warned.

    (As, once I warned a country looking down the throat of an active volcano and busily trying to think that things could not be so bad as the “neurotics” “obsessed” with “visions of destruction” were making out. With the very capital city buried under up to 40 ft of ash, 15+ years later, many of those same people are now busily trying to pretend they were not warned, or by whom.)

    Good evening

    GEM of TKI

  134. PS: It seems to me that CD captured the essential problem in the false accusation of quote-mining, as long ago as comment no 3:

    Evolutionists in general absolutely hate it when we use the words of authority figures like Crick and Lewontin against them. So when they say “Stop quote mining” what they actually mean is “Stop quoting!”

    Bot is very much mistaken when he claims that Kairosfocus was “concealing the proper context of the quote”. The substantial point – that Lewontin demands an a priori, completely exclusive commitment to materialism – is not altered in any way by the lines that were omitted. What the likes of Bot also need to realise about quoting is that, when quoting, you have to start and end somewhere.

    Quoting is an exercise in capturing the essence of the substantial point being made: not reproducing the complete work.

    After over 100 further comments, much of it on tangential themes, it is quite evident that this summary still stands.

  135. Did not intend to, but I could have been clearer: a supernatural cause is a causeless cause.

    It’s the end of the line for investigation.

    And if science is about anything, then, surely it would be about never ever reaching the end of the line for investigation.

    So, you see, science really is not about giving explanations, after all.

    For all causes have causes and it’s turtles all the way down.

  136. 136
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Matteo: well, yes, but that doesn’t mean that science is “about never ever reaching the end of the line”. Sciences is about figuring out what the next “turtle” is.

    Nothing in scientific methodology equips us to detect that we’ve come to the end of the turtles. Which is my point: it’s not that science censors any suggestion that “This is the last turtle” – it’s actually the opposite – that science refuses to censor any investigation into the possibility that this is NOT the last turtle.

    I don’t think Lewontin’s words give this impression, and I personally think they were ill-chosen. I think mine are better! But I think they boil down to the same thing.

    If not, he’s wrong and I’m right :)

  137. Dr Liddle:

    Re: Nothing in scientific methodology equips us to detect that we’ve come to the end of the turtles. Which is my point: it’s not that science censors any suggestion that “This is the last turtle” – it’s actually the opposite – that science refuses to censor any investigation into the possibility that this is NOT the last turtle.

    1 –> Scientific methods and results are inherently inductive and/or abductive.

    2 –> Consequently, scientific investigations are inherently not about proofs beyond further discussion or dispute.

    3 –> Even Mathematics, post Godel, is unable to guarantee the stability of sets of axioms against incoherence and/or incompleteness.

    4 –> So, inherently, any scientific conclusion is in principle provisional and not an end to discussions.

    5 –> Howbeit, as you hav e unfortunately failed to address again, the cumulative force of evidence in hand is that we live in an observed cosmos that had a beginning, commonly dated these days at 13.7 BYA.

    6 –> the date is of no great moment, the key implication is that that which begins is contingent, i.e. it has a cause. In particular, it is dependent on one or more causally necessary external factors that have to be “on” for there to be a cosmos like ours. [Like, if one or more of heat, fuel and oxidiser are missing, no fire is possible, and when brought together a fire can and does begin.]

    7 –> By contrast, it is logically possible for beings to exist that have no such external causal dependency. Such beings are ontologically necessary: they have no beginning, they can have no end.

    8 –> The explanatory options for our cosmos are an infinite, successive chain of antecedents which are causally dependent, or a root cause that is ontologically necessary.

    9 –> The former runs into the Hilbert Hotel type absurdities of an actual infinite succession of finite steps — notice how in mathematics, we deliver infinities all at once, or else suggest them as a continuation forever? — and so the latter is the only plausible explanation.

    10 –> In addition, the observed cosmos is credibly fine-tuned in many ways that set it at an operating point that facilitates C-chemistry, cell based life.

    11 –> This functionally specific, complex organisation strongly points to intelligent design, with deep knowledge and enormous power also implicated. this is a root cause, but that is not a science stopper, no more than many limiting conclusions in physics and mathematics are science stoppers: e.g. that energy is conserved or entropy tends strongly to rise are not stopping scientific investigations to test them, or to use them.

    12 –> So, the question now is, whether scientific investigations are based on the logic of inference to best explanation and/or logic more broadly.

    13 –> Patently so, so the bare assertion that “[n]othing in scientific methodology equips us to detect that we’ve come to the end of the turtles” is plainly wrong.

    14 –> The application of logic in an empirical context can and does here point to a beginning, and to a necessary being as the root of that beginning, even through the various multiverse speculations.

    15 –> And, in former days, when the observed cosmos was not evidently contingent, the observed cosmos was thought to be the required ontologically necessary beginningless being. Indeed, that was a major motivation for resistance to the findings and analysis from the 1920′s that pointed to such a beginning.

    16 –> As long as the state of the art was consistent with a MATERIAL necessary being, something like the steady state theory was quite acceptable, and the logic of ontological necessity as the root of contingent being, was quite acceptable.

    17 –> The sudden demand that science is incapable of credibly finding a real beginning is a very recent development, one driven by the fact of finding a credible and fine tuned beginning to our cosmos.

    18 –> Instead, I must draw attention to a facet of the OP that has simply been passed over in a strategic silence: namely, that for its credibility and integrity, science has to be based on seeking — however open-endedly — empirically based, TRUE explanations about our world.

    19 –> Once that is so, and once it is a significant possibility that there is a real beginning to our cosmos and a real root in an ontologically necessary being that could and may well have set up an observed cosmos fine tuned for C chemistry cell based life [a point that is heavily supported by observation], science is in no proper position to take sides and censor itself that there must be turtles all the way down.

    20 –> What is really happening here, then, is that this is a disguised form of Lewontin’s blatant and utterly indefensible a priori materialistic censorship that cuts out lines of thought that may lead to an unwelcome candidate for the begin-ner of the observed cosmos.
    ____________

    Plainly, it is high time for such censorship to cease, and it is necessary for that, that it be exposed.

    And so, it is entirely proper to publicise Lewontin’s shocking statement, and to point out that this is indeed amply supported by other declarations, including by august bodies that officially speak for science.

    In that context, it is equally plain that the further remarks in attempted justification, that instesad misrepresent and deride thests and theism, are an additional outrage, not a reasonable defense. the remarks do not change the meaning of the shocking declaration of a priori materialistic ideological question-begging, closed mindedness and censorship. thus, the accusation of “quote-mining” is really an objection — as CD said in 3 above — to publicising what the new magisterium in the holy lab coat would rather have concealed.

    the false accusation should be withdrawn and apologised for.

    Those who continue to insist on it in the face of cogent correction, thereby expose themselves as enablers of materialist censorship, misrepresentation of those who dare to differ, and slander.

    On track record, however, I am not holding my breath.

    GEM of TKI

  138. 138
    Elizabeth Liddle

    OK, I agree with you up to your point 4.

    Thereafter:

    Are you saying that because infinite regress is impossible, a prime causeless cause (namely, God) can be inferred?

  139. EL:

    Did not intend to, but I could have been clearer: a supernatural cause is a causeless cause.

    It’s the end of the line for investigation

    Who are you to make such a declaration?

    As for infinite regress well natural processes only exist in nature and therefor cannot account for its origin, which science says it had.

  140. 140
    Elizabeth Liddle

    No-one, Joseph – it’s just a logical statement! Let me rephrase:

    Science is about investigating causes, therefore a causeless cause must end of investigation.

    Does that make more sense?

    As for your second point: I am actually perfectly happy with the theological position that God is what accounts for there being anything at all.

    But that’s not verifiable or falsifiable by science – not because science censors it but because it’s outside its methodological range.

  141. According to Richard Dawkins you are wrong. See comment 98

    Also what is this “causeless cause” nonsense? Who sez a supernatural cause is a causeless cause?

  142. All,

    I’d like to support the clear case of kairosfocus, tsmith and others.

    In talking about science, I think it is fair to assume that science is in fact the so called scientific method of iterative knowledge acquisition based on reasoning about observations.

    If we keep this definition in mind, it should be clear that it is not logical to a priori narrow down the space of possibilities (including the possibility of a supernatural origin of life to the extent that we can observe and measure scientifically). On what grounds should this narrowing down be authorised?

    So science includes observation (input), logic (the internal “machinery”) and knowledge (the output) in the form of generalisations and predictions about future observations.

    True, science cannot explain everything (I guess this was really meant when somebody mentioned “the causeless cause”). There should be no disagreement here about the fact that the scientific method itself is incomplete. However it is powerful enough to make some important inferences as regards the possibility of design. The only thing that we as scientists should make sure is that we stay objective.

    The scientific method is a product of the Christian civilization par excellance. Not to recognise that would be a big mistake.

  143. 143
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Joseph: how would you describe the supernatural, if not as a “causeless cause”?

  144. 144
    Elizabeth Liddle

    But Eugene S – to stop, and say “well we can’t explain this, therefore God” IS narrowing down the space of possibilities, whereas saying “well, we can’t explain this, therefore we need to think a bit harder, come up with a new testable hypothesis and get some new data” is expanding the space of possibilities.

    This is the part I don’t get – in what way is science supposed to be “narrowing” or “censoring” investigation by precluding the answer “God”?

    Support your answer with examples, as the good old exam script goes :)

    It may seem superficially like censorship, but as I see it, it is precisely by leaving the door constantly open to further explanation that we widen the search space; but doing so means we don’t ever say “God, therefore, stop here”.

    The God answer is the investigation stopper, not science!

    Which is not to say that scientists should rule out God, merely that to do so would mean stopping doing science.

    Also I think it’s bad theology (God of the Gaps) :)

  145. Are you saying that because infinite regress is impossible, a prime causeless cause (namely, God) can be inferred?

    Sigh.

  146. Elizabeth,

    I am afraid, we view the same thing from two different points. I agree that science should always remain open to possibilities. But materialist censorship for one is shutting possibilities down. All one asks for is fairness.

    I am as convinced as you are that science necessarily is close to reaching its limits when dealing with the origins. However, even here we still can infer important information as regards possible origins while legitimately staying within the borders of science. Pointers to the supernatural are also information in their own right. And this information may be more important than we think.

    For “brilliant” militant atheistic examples, I can refer you to Richard Dawkins. His reasoning is full of religious (atheistic) bias. Examples of such belligerence are truly in abundance.

    BTW, I personally do not see any contradiction between science and religion and for me “therefore God” is not a stopper but a further motivation :)

    I think what really stops science is not references to the divine (indeed, how can they?) but materialisting attempts to deprive it of any meaning and motivation.

    Why bother if we are all here today and gone tomorrow? Materialism reduces science to a means of making life more comfortable. What else can give a lasting impetus to science? Altruism? Curiosity?

    No foundational metaphisics means the death of science in the long run. And that is a big stopper.

  147. Science is about investigating causes, therefore a causeless cause must end of investigation.

    Science is about investigating effects.

    A causeless effect is logically incoherent.

    Therefore, as long as there is a discernable effect science is free to continue it’s investigations.

  148. ,,,Elizabeth, the primary job of science is to relentlessly pursue the truth, not propagate lies by going down endless blind alleys!!! (Evolution of the Gaps, Multiverse of the gap),,, refusing to acknowledge the overwhelming truth that God created the universe and all life in it is not helpful to science in the least no matter what rose colored glasses you try to look at the lie with. Furthermore, as far as this lie, of a Godless creation, has filtered down and effected society, it has been, and continues to be, downright destructive.

    Body count of atheists societies on their OWN POPULATIONS!!!

    Chairman MAO: Genocide Master
    “…Many scholars and commentators have referenced my total of 174,000,000 for the democide (genocide and mass murder) of the last century. I’m now trying to get word out that I’ve had to make a major revision in my total due to two books. I’m now convinced that that Stalin exceeded Hitler in monstrous evil, and Mao beat out Stalin….”
    http://wadias.in/site/arzan/bl.....de-master/

    How Darwin’s Theory Changed the World
    Rejection of Judeo-Christian values
    Excerpt: Weikart explains how accepting Darwinist dogma shifted society’s thinking on human life: “Before Darwinism burst onto the scene in the mid-nineteenth century, the idea of the sanctity of human life was dominant in European thought and law (though, as with all ethical principles, not always followed in practice). Judeo-Christian ethics proscribed the killing of innocent human life, and the Christian churches explicitly forbade murder, infanticide, abortion, and even suicide.
    “The sanctity of human life became enshrined in classical liberal human rights ideology as ‘the right to life,’ which according to John Locke and the United States Declaration of Independence, was one of the supreme rights of every individual” (p. 75).
    Only in the late nineteenth and especially the early twentieth century did significant debate erupt over issues relating to the sanctity of human life, especially infanticide, euthanasia, abortion, and suicide. It was no mere coincidence that these contentious issues emerged at the same time that Darwinism was gaining in influence. Darwinism played an important role in this debate, for it altered many people’s conceptions of the importance and value of human life, as well as the significance of death” (ibid.).
    http://www.gnmagazine.org/issu.....-world.htm

    the body count from abortion is over 50 million now in America since it was legalized in 1973:

    Born Alive – Abortion Survivor Gianna Jessen
    http://www.faithandfacts.com/a.....na-jessen/

    ————

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

    etc.. etc..

  149. 149
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung:

    A causeless effect is logically incoherent.

    Therefore, as long as there is a discernable effect science is free to continue it’s investigations.

    Well, yes.

    I have to say, from here, this looks like an own goal :)

  150. 150
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Eugene S: I could agree with much of this.

    I guess one of the reasons this conversation is stalling, is that I’m not sure what, specifically, is meant by “censorship”.

    I don’t myself think that science is in a position to answer God questions, and so I get a bit annoyed when scientists say that God has been disproven, or at any rate imply it.

    However science IS equipped to find non-God explanations for phenomena, and I don’t see how this amounts to “censorship”.

    But I guess I’d like to see a clear ferinstance of an investigation that scientists should do, but are prevented from doing because of the alleged “censorship”.

    This is neither a rhetorical nor a sarcastic question – I really want to know what you have in mind.

  151. Dr Liddle:

    Pardon, but there is a misrepresentation here.

    The inference from signs of design to design is an empirical inference on observations, not an appeal to ignorance. This is not a god of the gaps argument, but an inference from signs to art as the most reasonable cause.

    We do understand that designers exist and so are possible, and that they leave characteristic traces, e.g. the text in this blog thread as an instance of functionally specific complex organisation in the form of digital text in a language.

    Please, correct this caricatured projection.

    In the case of the FSCO of the cosmos, the inference is not “we do not understand so God must have done it, but instead it is from something we do understand very well indeed: designers routinely set up complex entities that to function depend on a multitude of well-matched parts or features. The text in this post is an example, the computer you are reading this on is another, and the car you drove this morning is a third.

    As to the absurdity of an actual, sequentially delivered infinite succession, the basic problems are closely tied to Hilbert’s famous hotel. But the most simple challenge is this: how can you traverse an infinity step by finite step? In short, we are here, but that means that we have come to be here, step by causal step. An infinity of discrete elements like that can only be delivered all at once as a set, for one cannot complete the traverse one step at a time, to arrive at a transfinite number of steps. And if the actual number of steps so far is finite, we are looking straight back at a beginning.

    For one further instance, the oscillating expanding then contracting and re-expanding cosmos model, runs into the problem of ever-increasing entropy. If of infinite age, it would be in heat death.

    So, we can see that a far better explanation is that the observations that point to a definite beginning are not misleading us, so it is reasonable to include the possibility of a real beginning to the cosmos in our inference to best of candidate explanations.

    Mix in the fine tuning again, and you are looking at intelligent design of a cosmos. (And, yes there are other multiverse speculations — they are not observationally anchored and so strictly are philosophy not science BTW — but such have to then account for the setting up of the cosmos baking bread factory such that it will sample the neighbourhood of this operating point sufficiently finely that we are not in effect counting on a blind materialistic miracle. This is simply fine tuning postponed one level.

    Going further, some have suggested that there are super laws that force the laws and parameters we see to the values they hold. Again, that simply puts the finteuning up one level: a law programmed to create a habitable cosmos.

    What is happening, in short, is that in the haste to bend over backwards to accommodate the atheists, we are giving them the keys of censorship, which [on plain track record as Lewontin documents] they will not hesitate to use.

    We must not allow such censorship to pass unchallenged. An empirically anchored inference to best explanation is fatally compromised if live option candidates are excluded for ideological reasons.

    And if we allow science to be compromised like that, its credibility — deservedly — will be zero. (The climate gate events have already done some serious damage . . . and not least because it was exposed that Alinskyite tactics were being used to slanderously smear those who have serious questions.)

    So, we must stop the madness before it causes science to self-destruct.

    If we want our civilisation to thrive.

    GEM of TKI

  152. 152
    Elizabeth Liddle

    kf: I am not at all disputing the case that we can detect design. We can and do.

    It’s detecting the supernatural that I am talking about. Science can’t do that.

    I hoped I had made that clear; if not, I hope it is clear now.

    Apologies for the misunderstanding.

  153. Dr Liddle:

    Where have I said that the design inference is trying to infer to the supernatural?

    Have I not consistently corrected this strawman distortion, by pointing out how since Plato, the contrast that is relevant is nature vs art on signs of design? Is it not the — massively evident — case that the “natural vs supernatural” strawman substitution consistently comes from those who would shut down design theory, and depends for rhetorical and institutional success on demonising and blocking hearing out the other side of the story?

    This can be backed up in case after case. Indeed, look at what Lewontin said again with fresh eyes — is this not just what is going on?

    It is true that in the special circumstance of cosmic origins, the characteristics of the designer in question make a designer beyond the cosmos a reasonable conclusion, but the scientific inference is not to the supernatural but to the causal factor of design.

    Similarly, the censorship and career busting are quite blatant, so please do not indulge in enabling behaviour by suggesting that it is not real.

    Kindly, look back at the original post, and onward to the NAS and NSTA statements.

    Notice how a priori materialism — in the face of otherwise credible alternatives — and censorship are imposed though a strawman distortion of the inference from empirical signs to design as cause, into a snidely projected attempted inference to the supernatural?

    Notice, how the inference to design on signs is then slandered as an irrational inference to the supernatural?

    Notice further that the actual history of the origins of science is distorted, and the actual implications of a theistic view are distorted, as well as the rationality of theists is slandered.

    When I see this sort of thing, standing unopposed, I see where, once the public has been put into a state of crisis-induced hysteria, such slanders can easily lead to horrendous abuses.

    Please, don’t dismiss this as exaggeration or as something that is unimaginable “here” among us decent civilised people; I have — at the risk of my life and limb — personally seen this on the small scale, and have seen the history of what happened across the past century. Indeed,the recent Gaskell case shows how this could ever so easily get out of hand.

    Denial of what is happening till it is too late, is one of the key enablers that the vicious ideologue counts on to get his way. Ask the ghosts of 100+ million victims over the past 100 years.

    GEM of TKI

  154. ME: Therefore, as long as there is a discernable effect science is free to continue it’s investigations.

    Elizabeth: Well, yes.

    So you are now reduced to saying that science cannot study non-discernable effects, which is not at all where you started.

    That’s also a statement that few here, if any, would disagree with.

    But if there is a cause that has a discernable effect, it can be studied by science, regardless of how you want to label the cause.

    In fact, science cannot tell us whether the cause of that discernable effect is natural or supernatural. It lacks the means to do so.

    So you’re left with no argument at all.

  155. 155

    Mung, you state..

    But if there is a cause that has a discernable effect, it can be studied by science, regardless of how you want to label the cause.

    In fact, science cannot tell us whether the cause of that discernable effect is natural or supernatural. It lacks the means to do so.

    If there is a cause that produced a certain effect, but science lacks the means to identify the cause, then you are unwarranted to say that there even is a cause. It’s more accurate to simply state that the effect is causeless.

  156. LYO:

    Pardon, but science is subject to logic, including in particular the logic of cause and effect.

    For instance, if something — e.g. a fire — begins, there are circumstances under which is is possible for it not to be, i.e. there are necessary causal factors that must be on for it to be, e.g. heat, fuel and oxidiser. So, from effect that begins we infer cause. Anything that begins — such as our observed cosmos and contents — is not causeless. That includes quantum effects, such as decay of a neutron outside a nucleus: the neutron must exist and be outside a nucleus, and it will decay following a statistical law. Material causes, some necessary in their effects, some statistical.

    The notion of causeless phenomena in our observed cosmos is nonsensical, pardon directness, but that is the force of the relevant logic of cause.

    Mung’s point is that we study cause-effect bonds, and are not labelling such as supernatural or natural. Which is being primarily used for rhetorical advantage and in order to effect some pretty damaging censorship, as has been highlighted through the Lewontin quote and three others closely tied to it. Two from key bodies responsible for science and science eduction in the leading scientific country in the world.

    In fact, scientifically studied causes are more reasonably (and with a very long pedigree indeed) studied as material and intelligent causes,the former being those that are dominated by chance and/or mechanical necessity. Intelligent causes or art, are a part and parcel of scientific investigations, indeed they are a key part of experiment design where one artificially manipulates a situation to identify links between what is varied and what results.

    This is especially evident in the design that focusses on blocks, treatments and controls, where variation is assigned to chance and to treatment based on statistical techniques commonly known as ANOVA.

    What you are doing — despite ample opportunity to get this right, over months at least [cf the UD weak argument correctives] — is to inject a slander-laced, loaded strawman caricature, in a context where that sort of rhetorical tactic by advocates of evolutionary materialism is already an issue. Remember, this thread is a response to false accusation of quote-mining. So, kindly beware of enabling behaviour.

    Design thought does not analyse by natural vs supernatural causes but by identifying characteristic signs of material causes vs intelligent ones, such as:

    1: low contingency manifest in lawlike regularities (a dropped heavy object falls at g acceleration)

    2: High contingency that is statistically distributed and attributable to chance (if the object is a die, its value on tumbling will follow a distribution that is statistical)

    3: High contingency attributable to purposeful choice, I.E. DESIGN (e.g. a tray of 200 dice all set to read 1, or to follow a code expressing say the first few sentences of this post)

    4: Cases 1 and 2 are material or unintelligent causes,a nd produce characteristic patterns often studied in scientific contexts.

    5: Case 3 is ALSO studied in scientific contexts, such as ANOVA, or information theory, where the very concept of a contrast between signal and noise is a marker of the difference between material and intelligent cause, with the latter showing itself in features reflecting complex organisation of matter and energy towards a goal, and thus purpose.

    6: In this context, certain characteristic signs of design may be identified and studied as potentially highly empirically reliable and measurable markers of design. (Functionally specific complex information such as is in computer code or linguistic code is a capital example, as would be the sort of wiring diagram organisation that can be reduced to a string of structured yes/no questions and represented as a string data structure.)

    So, I am going to formally ask you to attend to what design thinkers actually do, instead of the caricatures cast on us by those who have a demonstrable agenda of demonisation and censorship.

    I know this can be hard to do, as if you believe the point being asserted in a circular argument, you can ever so easily run happily around the question-begging materialist loop of thinking that design thinkers are trying to improperly inject the supernatural into science. Science is defined by studying only causes and effects that are natural, and so design is by definition unscientific. It is also a sneak attack creationism in a cheap lab coat, that is trying to force on us a right wing theocracy with the inquisition all over again just as with Galileo. Etc etc etc.

    All of the above is demonstrably false, slanderous and abusive [cf here too], as it is an enabler of real oppression by the new a priori materialist magisterium.

    For instance, science, historically and philosophically — and the definition of science is an exercise on these two disciplines, it is not an exercise within science, soon enough will expose the force fitting of a materialistic straight jacket as censorship in the teeth of a lot of history and sound thought on what scientific knowledge is. The sort of declarations by Lewontin, Coyne, The US NAS and the US NSTA show just who is really pushing a politically correct materialistic ideological straightjacket on us. And the attempt to justify this by caricaturing theism and theists is an example of demonising ridicule and denigration by saying what is provably and easily seen as utterly false to history and to what theism actually holds.

    Probably the best way to blow this agenda up is to contrast a more sensible and historically well warranted definition of what science should instead try to be.

    So let me clip the end of the original post:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Now, can we start over, by first getting facts straight, LYO?

    GEM of TKI

  157. If there is a cause that produced a certain effect, but science lacks the means to identify the cause, then you are unwarranted to say that there even is a cause. It’s more accurate to simply state that the effect is causeless.

    A causeless effect?

    Is that like a round square, or like a blind man that cannot see?

  158. F/N: A wiki clip on causal factors, from their article, Causality:

    ___________

    >> Causality is the relationship between an event (the cause) and a second event (the effect), where the second event is understood as a consequence of the first.[1]

    Though the causes and effects are typically related to changes or event, candidates include objects, processes, properties, variables, facts, and states of affairs; characterizing the causal relationship can be the subject of much debate . . . .

    Causes are often distinguished into two types: Necessary and sufficient.[7] A third type of causation, which requires neither necessity nor sufficiency in and of itself, but which contributes to the effect, is called a “contributory cause.”[8]

    Necessary causes:

    If x is a necessary cause of y, then the presence of y necessarily implies the presence of x. The presence of x, however, does not imply that y will occur.

    Sufficient causes:

    If x is a sufficient cause of y, then the presence of x necessarily implies the presence of y. However, another cause z may alternatively cause y. Thus the presence of y does not imply the presence of x.

    Contributory causes:

    A cause may be classified as a “contributory cause,” if the presumed cause precedes the effect, and altering the cause alters the effect. It does not require that all those subjects which possess the contributory cause experience the effect. It does not require that all those subjects which are free of the contributory cause be free of the effect. In other words, a contributory cause may be neither necessary nor sufficient but it must be contributory . . . .

    Conditional statements are not statements of causality. An important distinction is that statements of causality require the antecedent to precede or coincide with the consequent in time, whereas conditional statements do not require this temporal order. Confusion commonly arises since many different statements in English may be presented using “If …, then …” form (and, arguably, because this form is far more commonly used to make a statement of causality). The two types of statements are distinct, however. >>

    _______________

    I trhink an excellent tutorial can be had with a box of matches. Observe air, match and strike-strip.

    Strike to see the three factors combine to yield a flame, necessary and sufficient factors.

    With a match burning, and with half burned already tilt the burned part up, and watch the flame gutter down and out as it tries to burn what is no longer fuel. That underscores necessary cause.

    Now, think: was the flame always there? No, it began, and there were things that had to either precede or coincide in time for a flame to exist.

    there were necessary factors that if any one was taken out the flame would no longer exist or would not start.

    There was a sufficient cluster of factors that once present will lead to a fire.

    Where fires could start by material or intelligent factors, too.

    As fire departments and police departments know, intelligently designed fires leave characteristic traces reflecting combination of parts to a purpose, based on choice and implementation thereof.

    And so on.

    Now, apply to a big bang, fine tuned world suitable for C-chemistry cell based life that is intelligent.

    One with life replete with FSCI.

    GEM of TKI

  159. F/N 2: For completeness, on chance:

    AmHD: chance (chns)
    n.
    1.
    a. The unknown and unpredictable element in happenings that seems to have no assignable cause.
    b. A force assumed to cause events that cannot be foreseen or controlled; luck: Chance will determine the outcome.
    2. The likelihood of something happening; possibility or probability. Often used in the plural: Chances are good that you will win. Is there any chance of rain?
    3. An accidental or unpredictable event.
    4. A favorable set of circumstances; an opportunity: a chance to escape.
    5. A risk or hazard; a gamble: took a chance that the ice would hold me.
    6. Games A raffle or lottery ticket.

    Online free book [GNU]: http://www.math.dartmouth.edu/~prob/prob/prob.pdf

    (Observe discussion Ch 1)

  160. As fire departments and police departments know, intelligently designed fires leave characteristic traces reflecting combination of parts to a purpose, based on choice and implementation thereof.

    Yet neither we nor Lewontin were talking about a design inference. The issue is the supernatural and science.

  161. Driver:

    PREZACTLY.

    This is a classic instance of a loaded, strawman misrepresentation of design thought. (There is also a misrepresentation of theism and theists . . . )

    GEM of TKI

  162. No, KF, not misrepresentation – there is no discussion of design thought by Lewontin in his quote. It’s not the point that Lewontin is discussing, it’s not the point I was discussing, and it’s not the point that Elizabeth was discussing.

    It is a divine foot, not a design foot, that Lewontin says should not be allowed in the scientific door.

    To refute Lewontin, you don’t need to make the methodological case for design in science, but one for the supernatural.

  163. No, Driver, the issue is not the supernatural.

    It’s materialism. It’s science as the only arbiter of truth. It’s how to get people to reject irrational explanations of the world.

    So that would include irrational materialist explanations.

    It’s about what is rational and what is not, and whether materialism provides a foundation for rationality at all.

    That’s the issue.

  164. Driver:

    Some of the most effective strawman arguments rely on assumed context for the reader, what “everybody ‘knows’.”

    Only, it ain’t so . . .

    In this case, in 1985, TMLO came out as the first technical design theory work [warning: fat pdf], and by about 1989, Pandas and People — willfully misrepresented in the Dover case by NCSE et al, and taken on board hook, line and sinker by Judge Jones — popularised the ideas. Darwin on trial was in 1991/2, and Reason in the Balance, 1995. In 1996, Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box had created a considerable up-stir, and is in fact probably what is specifically alluded to by the reference to “all but a few” in the Lewontin quote.

    At the same time, across the 1980′s there had been several media issues and court cases over Biblical Creationism in education.

    It was very convenient rhetorically — as opposed to paying due care and attention to the duty of accuracy and fairness — for a priori materialism advocates to act as though the two were one and the same, and to suggest or assert confidently to the public that the matter was about the “obviously improper” injection of “the supernatural” into science. (Which, per NCSE et al and as slavishly copied by Jones in the teeth of easily accessible corrective fact, was claimed to be inherently naturalistic for “centuries.” False.)

    Subsequent to this time period, this irresponsible and willful misrepresentation has been hugely popularised.

    It is a fact that from the days of Thaxton et al in TMLO, design theory has been about a critical assessment of the empirical evidence without authoritative reference to or underlying context of any scriptural or religious tradition.

    Indeed, Dembski actually defined design theory as follows:

    intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause? . . . Proponents of intelligent design, known as design theorists, purport to study such signs formally, rigorously, and scientifically. Intelligent design may therefore be defined as the science that studies signs of intelligence. [BTW, it is
    sad but necessary to highlight what should be obvious:
    namely, that it is only common
    academic courtesy
    (cf. here,
    here,
    here,
    here,
    here
    and here!)
    to use the historically
    justified
    definition of a discipline that is generally
    accepted by its principal proponents.]

    That is the point of Johnson’s remarks in rebuttal to Lewontin, as are cited in the OP. Let me clip, FYI — have you read the OP, much less the onward linked materials?

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

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

    In addition, the idea roots go back to Plato’s The Laws, Bk X, as I have so often linked or cited: the contrast of causal mechanism tracing to necessity, chance and art or choice or intelligence, in light of their characteristic empirical traces.

    This is exactly what Newton echoes in his General Scholium to Principia, which in turn is probably the single most important work of science in the past 350 years, maybe of all time.

    This was not done in a corner, in short.

    Indeed, in 1970/71, Monod (a Nobel Prize holder) had published a book that riffed off Plato’s trichotomy, “Chance and Necessity,” which was a hugely influential bestseller.

    Lewontin et al knew or could and should easily have found out that design thought and biblical creationism are quite distinct in idea roots, and modes of thought.

    They chose instead to go down a historically unprecedented path, imposing a priori materialism on the very definition of science itself, corrupting the integrity and ultimately the credibility of science.

    They chose to take the rhetorically convenient tack of conflating design thought with biblical creationism.

    They decided to cast the issue in terms of a contrast between science which somehow “must” only explain by naturalistic causes — i.e. is now declaratively in thralldom to a priori materialism, and the “supernatural.”

    They knew or could and should easily have known that the relevant contrast is between material and intelligent causes [i.e. nature (= blind chance and/or necessity) vs ART-ificial causes], both of which are entirely amenable to empirical, objective investigation on characteristic signs. Indeed, such is routinely embedded in many facets of pure and applied scientific practice; I simply chose the comparative of accidental fires vs arson as this fits in well with the example of a match as a demonstration of how causal factors work.

    I notice, that you did not respond to the analysis of causal factors, but tried to pick what you thought was a convenient point to try for a rhetorical shoot-down.

    Failed.

    Now, you have stood up in a public forum, to advocate for evolutionary materialism and/or its fellow traveller positions. In that context, the same duties of care of accuracy and fairness are applicable to you. Especially, in a context where this thread is a response to a false turnabout accusation of distortion by quoting out of material context.

    I suggest you read the OP and especially CD’s response at no 3 above [which I have promoted to the OP as a major part of the conclusion written after 24 hours to respond], then reflect on what you have said above, in the teeth of easily accessible corrective materials.

    Please, think again.

    GEM of TKI

  165. Elizabeth,

    I am referring to your comment # 150.

    “However science IS equipped to find non-God explanations for phenomena.”

    To me, this statement is much too general. There is part of reality that cannot be formalised as incompleteness results suggest (see Goedel & Taski theorems), which can be interpreted as saying that your assertion above is NOT ALWAYS true.

    So I can agree with you only to an extent. A remarkable example where naturalistic (“non-God” as you put it) explanations are insufficient is the science of origins. We do have observed phenomena that naturalism is incapable of adequately addressing. Multiverse argumentation is one of its awkward non-scientific attempts to come up with an explanation. Positivism of science is a matter of the past. The trouble is a lot of scientists today are still thinking in positivistic terms.

    The circularity of Darwinistic argumentation in the large (there is an unsound tendency to stretch the notion of Darwinism even to include prebiotic processes) has essentially been exposed by ID using a scientific approach.

  166. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing.

    Obviously Johnson traveled forward in time and stole my comments here at UD and incorporated them into his article.

  167. 167
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung @ 154:

    If science cannot distinguish the natural from the supernatural, in what sense is it “censoring” anything?

    This is the point that a few of us have been making throughout the thread.

    The Divine is not “censored” from science – quite the reverse – to ascribe an effect to the Divine is tantamount to saying: “we have come to the end of the causal chain and can go no further”. And no scientist is going to do that, not because they refuse to let a Divine Foot in the door but because, literally they CAN not. Their only possible response in the face of an effect that refuses to yield a cause is to keep trying to figure it out. To insist that they stop (i.e. to insist that more effort is futile because they have reached the Divine), however, is censorship. Fortunately, not very powerful these days but it has been in the past.

    I think there is conflation here between “Design” and “Divine”.

    Design is excluded from science. It’s a perfectly good domain of study, and is found in lots of fields of science.

    The Divine, however is, not because scientists can’t bear the thought of God, but because their methodology is incapable of detecting it except as a “gap” and there is no way to test whether a “gap” can be bridged or not except by trying to bridge it.

    To do so is not to deny God, but to figure out how the universe actually works, no matter whether it was God-created or not.

  168. Elizabeth.

    See my post @163.

  169. 169
    Elizabeth Liddle

    OK, but I don’t understand the point you are making. Could you rephrase?

    Thanks.

  170. From the OP, the claim made by Lewontin is:

    … to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out … the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth.

    The goal is:

    To put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads.

    “…we must first get an incorrect view out…”

    “… the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world…”

    He wants to get rid of irrational explanations of the world. Does that include all irrational explanations or only “supernatural” explanations?

    He said irrational AND supernatural explanations. I assume he meant what he said.

    So that would include irrational materialist explanations. It would also include irrational ‘scientific’ explanations.

    And how is it that we are supposed to do this?

    By having them “accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth.”

    Capital S science, aka scientism.

    Enough of the verbal games. Two threads of missing the point is wearing thin.

    What Lewontin said is clear for all to see. THIS is what the debate is about.

    Anything else is a red herring.

    MathGrrl’s charge of quote-mining is meant as a distraction. It has nothing to do with getting at the truth. It should be denounced for what it is.

    Now how, as a defender of Lewontin, would you propose to establish the epistemological claim that Science is the only begetter of truth?

    Please, be sure to use the vaunted ‘scientific method’ to do so.

    Or, come over to the dark side. We’ll welcome you as soon as you have completed the required re-programming.

  171. p.s. I’m trying not to forget that Lewontin is doing a book review here. It’s hard to say what of this is coming from him and what is coming from Sagan.

  172. Mung:

    Apparently, they collaborated fairly closely.

    Indeed part of the story is on a debate in the 60′s where they were on one side together.

    And of course, when we run into a “we” and “us” passage, that’s first person plural.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: The idea of science as the only begetter of truth is a revealing point, on the philosophical illiteracy of this generation of practitioners of what used to be called natural philosophy. (Back then, the established results were called “knowledge” which is in Latin — the writings were in that then common language of scholarship — the word we get Science from. I actually recall shaking my head over a book many years ago now by a leading physicist that openly disparaged philosophy . . . )

  173. Mung@ #147:

    Science is about investigating effects.

    A causeless effect is logically incoherent.

    Therefore, as long as there is a discernable effect science is free to continue it’s investigations.

    To refine this a bit with what Dr. Liddle noted, science investigates effects to come up with a model explanation of the underlying mechanics of a cause such that the explanation provides utility for further predicting aspects of the effect or associated effects.

    Given this, how does “designer” provide any sort of utility as an explanation for any effect? What effects can only be explained by invoking the concept of a “designer” and in what way does such provide a model that can be utilized to make predictions about further effects?

    I realize this gets into that “level of detail” that Dr. Dembski feels is not within the domain of ID (or so he says), but if that’s the case, how can ID be considered science?

  174. So that would include irrational materialist explanations. It would also include irrational ‘scientific’ explanations.

    I disagree with the second part here. Irrational explanations are those that either ignore evidence for the sake of story or contradict evidence for the sake of security. Neither case is supported by actual science for very long. Astrology is a good example of this in that its adherents claim to rely upon material observation, but predictions based upon these observations show no greater accuracy than guesswork and emotional manipulation.

  175. No, Driver, the issue is not the supernatural.

    It’s materialism. It’s science as the only arbiter of truth. It’s how to get people to reject irrational explanations of the world.

    So that would include irrational materialist explanations.

    It’s about what is rational and what is not, and whether materialism provides a foundation for rationality at all.

    That’s the issue.

    I’m not aware of any scientists who claim that science is an arbiter of truth. Certainly no scientists I know seek truth through their research or speak in terms of truths when describing the outcomes of their research.

    Real science is about providing useful explanations. That’s it. Is Newtonian Mechanics “true”? Who knows…I don’t and I don’t care. It is useful however; it has practical utility for determining predicting the motion of objects in the universe. It works. That’s all that’s necessary. Even the Aether Theory had utility, though it was later discovered it was unnecessary.

    So science is not about truth – it’s about usefulness.

    The question then becomes, how is ID useful?

  176. 176

    “What effects can only be explained by invoking the concept of a “designer”…

    The origin of Information

    “…and in what way does such provide a model that can be utilized to make predictions about further effects?”

    Given that there is only one origin of Information – regardless of the metaphysics one might wish to accord – there is no viable need to make predictions upon another origin of Information. We don’t predict the next origin of Information, no more so than we predict the next origin of Gravity.

  177. “What effects can only be explained by invoking the concept of a “designer”…

    The origin of Information

    Hmmm…a couple of points here:
    1) What do you mean by “information”?
    2) How do you know it exists?
    3) How do you know it can’t be explained by any other means?

    In other words, what is the actual reliable mechanistic model for this “information” that the explanation “designer” provides.

    So far (as MG’s and other folks’ discussions have indicated) I don’t see any actual demonstrations of utility in the ID explanation.

    “…and in what way does such provide a model that can be utilized to make predictions about further effects?”

    Given that there is only one origin of Information – regardless of the metaphysics one might wish to accord – there is no viable need to make predictions upon another origin of Information.

    How do you know there is only one origin of information?

    We don’t predict the next origin of Information, no more so than we predict the next origin of Gravity.

    Ahh…but the question of origin of gravity isn’t what makes the study of the phenomenon of gravity science. Gravity can be modeled is a succinctly useful way – useful for flying planes, designing all-season tires, developing road materials, modeling solar orbits, predicting the weather and tides, etc, etc, etc.

    Does information as conceptualized in ID offer any similar predictive models that can be used in such succinctly practical applications? If so, how is this concept of information useful, because appears that the concept of the origin of information isn’t.

  178. Doveton:

    If science sacrifices the quest for truth, it loses its integrity and credibility.

    And, if you will look at the original post you will see that — as can be confirmed in many ways – there is a widespread concept that science is the sole or at least the main arbiter of truth and knowledge [justified, true belief]; to the point “that’s not scientific” is tantamount to that it is unreasonable and unbelievable. And surely, you will know the expression “prove that to me scientifically . . . ” or more sophisticated renderings thereof.

    It has been pointed out in the OP that this is a serious fallacy.

    The attempt to deny that this attitude, assumption and even assertion exists, now that it has been called out and corrected, is itself a telling indication of what has gone wrong.

    GEM of TKI

  179. If science sacrifices the quest for truth, it loses its integrity and credibility.

    I understand that’s your opinion, KF, but I’m afraid that isn’t much of a rebuttal in the realm of actual science and research.

    The attempt to deny that this attitude, assumption and even assertion exists, now that it has been called out and corrected, is itself a telling indication of what has gone wrong.

    Oh, I have no doubts it exists in realms of philosophical debate, but such debates have very little impact on the actual practice of research, theoretics, application in the working scientific community. In fact, the philosophy, when broken down, is clearly in direct conflict with the very method of investigation; if science investigated and arbitrated what is “true”, we’d still be living on a flat world at the center of the universe.

    Truth is far too absolute a concept for science; practical explanation and utility are the far greater ideals of the discipline. Thankfully actual scientists recognize that all understanding is provisional in relation to current evidence and capability.

  180. …to the point “that’s not scientific” is tantamount to that it is unreasonable and unbelievable. And surely, you will know the expression “prove that to me scientifically . . . ” or more sophisticated renderings thereof.

    Just a thought on this point, KF: I have heard these expressions a number of times and I’ve actually used them (or similar phrases) on occasion myself. However, such phrases and feelings do not (in general) stem from any belief in the truth of a scientific response, but rather stem from the integrity and credibility the institution has garnered from the utility its explanations have provided. Like it or not, KF, science has offered and continues to provide very useful explanations on how (and to some extent why) things work. It is for that reason it garners the respect and authority it does.

  181. Kf @ #102,

    Missed this one from last week, KF. Sorry – was a bit busy…

    He is indeed saying — by quoting with approval [notice, no distancing] — that “anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything.”

    That is as broad-brush a dismissal as you are going to get.

    This then goes on to indict, via strawman caricature: “To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.”

    Ok…let’s go with your interpretation on this as opposed to my more context-driven understanding. My earlier questions still apply. Seriously – is Lewontin wrong here? What parameters govern what the supernatural – and in particular God – can and cannot do? If one does believe in a god who can intervene and perform miracles, what prevents that God from rearranging all the planets in our solar system tomorrow? If God can heal the sick cannot He not also change the speed of light to 7 millimeters per hour in an instant? Can He not arbitrarily suspend gravity? If not, why not?

    What problem specifically do you have with Lewontin’s conclusion?

  182. Doveton:

    Please read the clip in the original post, then look closer at the focus that science has on ascertaining “facts” — as just one instance.

    I am very aware of the importance of empirical reliability of scientific findings, but I suspect you will find it rather hard to convince the world that science does not care about facts, truth and accuracy to reality.

    Inded, that science and scientists do not make claims to have discovered the credible facts about our world, and that they further claim to be objective in pursuit of those facts.

    Facts, of course are matters of being accurate to checkable reality.

    The denigration or denial of this aspect of science, that it seeks to know the world, however prone we are to err in that pursuit, is one of the strongest signs that things are falling apart.

    I will say this, that now that the Climategate revelations are out, the discredit due to showing scientists pushing a party line rather than seeking to be accurate to reality, is telling.

    GEM of TKI

  183. Doveton:

    Pardon a direct comment: if, after interacting with me and others, you walk away with the notion that theists are so credulous that we believe “anything,” you are so far out of reach that we cannot help you.

    Perhaps you have not carefully read the original post.

    Let’s put it simply: on theism, a miracle, stands out as a sign pointing beyond the ordinary course of the world, and it is also in the context of a world that on theism we are accountable stewards who would one day face judgement.

    On theism, for a miracle to stand out as a sign, and for there to be accountability, there is a requirement for an ordinary, non chaotic course of the world. One, backed up by the character of the Creator.

    That is the context in which theist, seeing key texts and working though the logic as described, were in historical reality the founders of modern science, precisely because of their worldview rooted confidence in its stable general order. That such an order is open to miracles, does not mean that it is not an order that can be studied and used to our advantage.

    As was pointed out.

    Please, try to understand where others are coming from instead of twisting them into convenient strawmen.

    GEM of TKI

  184. 184

    Doveton,

    Hmmm…a couple of points here:
    1) What do you mean by “information”?
    2) How do you know it exists?
    3) How do you know it can’t be explained by any other means?

    #1 Well, as it happens, Dr Liddle and I were just discussing an operational definition of “information” in connection to a simulation she intends to design in order to falsify ID. The latest iteration of that definition is as follows:

    Information is a representation of a discrete object/thing embedded in an arrangement of matter or energy, where the object/thing represented is entirely dissociated from the representation, but where the association of the two can be established by means of a protocol instantiated in the receiver of the information.

    #2 Is this a rhetorical question, or are you suggesting that information does not exist? Or, to be clearer, do you think information exists?

    #3 My personal satisfaction that it cannot come into existence by any other means stems from the entailments that are required for its existence. Each of these, and indeed information itself, has never been associated with anything but a living thing (never as a matter of the remaining inanimate world). For someone to effect my judgment would require evidence that, in fact, information can come into existence by some other means. Such evidence does not exist.

    In other words, what is the actual reliable mechanistic model for this “information” that the explanation “designer” provides.

    The current iteration of an operational definition for information was given in the previous answer.

    So far (as MG’s and other folks’ discussions have indicated) I don’t see any actual demonstrations of utility in the ID explanation.

    MG was a roadshow who had the intent to spit in Bill Dembski’s face. She missed him by a mile, but hit Karl Popper right in the eye. What do you want me to say? I personally trapped her in her obfuscation, as did many others.

    I was not impressed. Nor am I impressed that you find no utility in an un-refuted observation you don’t wish to utilize.

    How do you know there is only one origin of information?

    Well, I suppose we could just ignore that all living organisms on this planet have (with minor variations) the same information system, and simply stipulate that Life began 1,398,762 times. Perhaps parsimony is over-rated.

    Ahh…but the question of origin of gravity isn’t what makes the study of the phenomenon of gravity science. Gravity can be modeled is a succinctly useful way

    What makes the study of gravity science is using systematic observations and rationale. That same paradigm works for information science as well.

    Does information as conceptualized in ID offer any similar predictive models that can be used in such succinctly practical applications?

    I am certainly willing to concede that limited numbers of persons in information and computer theory may have difference of opinion (regarding information) with limited numbers of persons in ID, but let’s get real. You speak as if information theorists and computer scientists see the necessary symbols and protocols of information as having just three toes, while ID theorist demand they have five. ID proponents and information theorists and computer scientists have a working aparatus that is not generally in conflict, and they use it productively.

    A far as a predictive model, are you once again asking ID to predict the next one-time ‘onset of information’ event in universal history, or, are you just wishing terribly to have me hang my head and admit that ID has no predictive value – and you just aren’t yet satisfied in that regard?

    Let’s cut to the chase. There is the observation that information and its prerequisite entailments are only observed as a product of living things, there is the further observation that no one on the surface of the planet can provide a plausible mechanism for their rise by chance and necessity. In that regard, computer scientist, information theorist, and ID proponents share a great deal of common ground. So, what is it that you would like ID to predict with that observed reality?

    If so, how is this concept of information useful…

    Again, you speak as if ID proponents have a concept of information utterly foreign to other information sciences. It doesn’t.

    …because appears that the concept of the origin of information isn’t.

    The design argument at the level of information (semiotics) is an un-refuted observation. That an opponent of ID would attempt to brand that observation as non-useful is laughable.

    CHeers…

  185. KF @182,

    Doveton:

    Please read the clip in the original post, then look closer at the focus that science has on ascertaining “facts” — as just one instance.

    Actually I did read it, but thank you for reiterating it.

    I am very aware of the importance of empirical reliability of scientific findings, but I suspect you will find it rather hard to convince the world that science does not care about facts, truth and accuracy to reality.

    Science is indeed interested in facts, accuracy and truth in the sense that it uses those components to build a case for theories and hypotheses. For example, science relies upon the “truth” that F=MA in order to model tides on Earth. That said, this is not the same thing as being an arbiter of truth.

    The denigration or denial of this aspect of science, that it seeks to know the world, however prone we are to err in that pursuit, is one of the strongest signs that things are falling apart.

    I do not denigrate or deny that science seeks to know the world. I just don’t see this as equivalent to being an arbiter of truth.

    I will say this, that now that the Climategate revelations are out, the discredit due to showing scientists pushing a party line rather than seeking to be accurate to reality, is telling.

    GEM of TKI

    I have no idea what this has to do with the concept of science being (or not being) an arbiter of truth. Of course, since it appears that “Climategate” was merely a distortion of conservative news folks (such as Beck), I don’t have much interest in it.

  186. KF,

    Doveton:

    Pardon a direct comment: if, after interacting with me and others, you walk away with the notion that theists are so credulous that we believe “anything,” you are so far out of reach that we cannot help you.

    Once again, my belief (or notion) about theists is irrelevant to this discussion. I am merely addressing on Lewontin’s notions.

    Perhaps you have not carefully read the original post.

    Let’s put it simply: on theism, a miracle, stands out as a sign pointing beyond the ordinary course of the world, and it is also in the context of a world that on theism we are accountable stewards who would one day face judgement.

    On theism, for a miracle to stand out as a sign, and for there to be accountability, there is a requirement for an ordinary, non chaotic course of the world. One, backed up by the character of the Creator.

    That is the context in which theist, seeing key texts and working though the logic as described, were in historical reality the founders of modern science, precisely because of their worldview rooted confidence in its stable general order. That such an order is open to miracles, does not mean that it is not an order that can be studied and used to our advantage.

    As was pointed out.

    Please, try to understand where others are coming from instead of twisting them into convenient strawmen.

    GEM of TKI

    This is well and good, but does not address my question about Lewontin nor the point he raised. So, once again, if you believe God can break the laws of the universe and enact a “miracle” of overriding someone’s death or illness, what then prevents God from rearranging the order of the planets in the solar system or turning our blood green in any given instant?

    What specific problem do you have with Lewontin’s claim?

  187. Upright,

    #1 Well, as it happens, Dr Liddle and I were just discussing an operational definition of “information” in connection to a simulation she intends to design in order to falsify ID. The latest iteration of that definition is as follows:

    Information is a representation of a discrete object/thing embedded in an arrangement of matter or energy, where the object/thing represented is entirely dissociated from the representation, but where the association of the two can be established by means of a protocol instantiated in the receiver of the information.

    Ok. Then your comment at 176 is question begging. Basically your definition of information here is an object/thing created (by a designer) embedded in some matter (by a designer) for a recipient. Your comment at 176 is that the concept of a designer is useful for explaining the origin of this information. Round and round it goes.

    This is useful from a scientific perspective. In other words, can the explanation of “designer” be used for any practical purpose.

    The rest of your response is rather moot given the above.

  188. 188

    LOL Doveton. I think you’ll need to catch your breath and take another crack at it.

    I see nowhere in your comment where you actually showed fault with the observation of information.

    Whining outloud that the observations aren’t fair to materialists who wish to ignore those observations is hardly sufficient. You have to show that the observations are incorrect.

    Can you do that?

  189. Upright,

    LOL Doveton. I think you’ll need to catch your breath and take another crack at it.

    I see nowhere in your comment where you actually showed fault with the observation of information.

    I’m betting that would be because I did not attempt to do so. Whether this “information” stuff in the context of your response at 176 actually exists is of no concern to me at this point since currently your definition of this “information” stuff is circular with regard to a designer. Until we address that, your response at 176 has no value and we’re left with the concept of designer still having no utility as far a science is concerned. My questions 2 and 3 are then moot.

    Whining outloud that the observations aren’t fair to materialists who wish to ignore those observations is hardly sufficient.

    Never made any such whine, so I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to here.

    You have to show that the observations are incorrect.

    No, I merely have to note that your response at 176 did not actually address my original question. I’ve done that based on your own definition of this “information” stuff.

    Can you do that?

    Oh, I’m quite capable of such, but since your response at 176 (given your definition of information) isn’t scientifically viable, I have no need to at the moment. Unless and until some actual viable utility is presented for this “designer” explanation, there’s no point in my going off on tangents.

  190. 190

    Doveton,

    “…your definition of this “information” stuff is circular with regard to a designer”

    a) Two-thirds of the definition given for this ‘information stuff’ came from the materialist who wishes to falsify ID, and the form of the definition is totally her own. I only added one aspect to the definition, which was accepted as observationally necessary.

    b) You need to account for the fact that the definition doesn’t mention a “designer”. That is something you added yourself of your own volition.

    - – - – -

    You have to show that the observations are incorrect.

    No, I merely have to note that your response at 176 did not actually address my original question.

    My response at 176 was rather simple. You asked:

    What effects can only be explained by invoking the concept of a “designer”…

    And I then answered:

    The origin of Information

    - – - – - –

    Regarding your ability to show that the operational definition of information offered by Dr Liddle (with one acceptible addition by me) is false:

    Can you do that?

    Oh, I’m quite capable of such, but…

    No, you can’t. And you won’t. That is the very last thing that will happen.

  191. Whether this “information” stuff in the context of your response at 176 actually exists is of no concern to me at this point since currently your definition of this “information” stuff is circular with regard to a designer.

    lol.

    Doveton probably doesn’t accept any definition of anything, for any definition might be used in a question-begging way in an argument.

    How irrational is that?

  192. UB,

    Doveton,

    “…your definition of this “information” stuff is circular with regard to a designer”

    a) Two-thirds of the definition given for this ‘information stuff’ came from the materialist who wishes to falsify ID, and the form of the definition is totally her own. I only added one aspect to the definition, which was accepted as observationally necessary.

    That’s fine, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s circular with regard to your response at 176.

    b) You need to account for the fact that the definition doesn’t mention a “designer”. That is something you added yourself of your own volition.

    “Designer” is implied in the definition by the use of the terms “representation” and “instantiated”.

    - – – – -

    You have to show that the observations are incorrect.

    No, I merely have to note that your response at 176 did not actually address my original question.

    My response at 176 was rather simple. You asked:

    What effects can only be explained by invoking the concept of a “designer”…

    And I then answered:

    The origin of Information

    Indeed. Given your definition of this “information” stuff, your response at 176 effectively becomes:

    designed information

    That doesn’t actually explain anything since the explanation(“designer”) is part of your “information” premise (it’s “designed”). And round and round it goes…
    - – – – – –

    Regarding your ability to show that the operational definition of information offered by Dr Liddle (with one acceptible addition by me) is false:

    Can you do that?

    Oh, I’m quite capable of such, but…

    No, you can’t. And you won’t. That is the very last thing that will happen.

    It is certainly your prerogative to make such declarations. If it pleases you to do so, have at it, but I’m not sure what it gets you since such an opinion does not establish reality.

  193. 193

    Doveton,

    “Designer” is implied in the definition by the use of the terms “representation” and “instantiated”.

    Well, I am sure we can work this out.

    #1) Does information exist as a representation of something? Do you have any observations of information that are not representations?

    #2) Are these represenations instantiated in either matter or energy? Do you have any observations of information that are not instantiated in either matter or energy?

  194. 194

    Mung at 191, yeah, I get it.

    - – - – - -

    Your definition of trajectory is circular in regards to gravity

    – But wait, my definition of trajectory doesn’t even mention gravity ?!?!

    No, but it may be required, and is therefore has no utility in science!!!!

    – But wait, it was a scientist who wrote the definition, and even wrote it to disprove my thesis

    It doesn’t matter, and I can prove it

    – But wait, prove it then.

    No!!

    – But wait, why not?

    Because its circular!!

    - – - – - – - –

    Gotta love it.

  195. Whether this “information” stuff in the context of your response at 176 actually exists is of no concern to me at this point since currently your definition of this “information” stuff is circular with regard to a designer.

    lol.

    Doveton probably doesn’t accept any definition of anything, for any definition might be used in a question-begging way in an argument.

    How irrational is that?

    Not exactly. In my experience, in situations where definitions can be used in question-begging arguments, one of two things must change – either the definition or the argument. Otherwise the discussion cannot be fruitful.

    As I noted above, my issue right now is that give the definition of “information”, UB’s response at 176 becomes scientifically non-viable because the definition in that context is question begging. However, I did not insist that the definition of “information” is the necessary problem there. Redressing the argument might be the more practical course of action, but that’s up to UB or whomever else takes up my question of the utility of the explanation “designer”.

  196. 196

    Doveton, science is about evidence, not obfuscation.

    Demonstrate the definition is false.

  197. UB,

    Doveton,

    “Designer” is implied in the definition by the use of the terms “representation” and “instantiated”.

    Well, I am sure we can work this out.

    #1) Does information exist as a representation of something? Do you have any observations of information that are not representations?

    #2) Are these represenations instantiated in either matter or energy? Do you have any observations of information that are not instantiated in either matter or energy?

    It seems you’re missing my point. Whether your (or Dr. Liddle’s) definition of “information” is accurate and useful is not the issue for me at this point (hence my noting “No, I merely have to note that your response at 176 did not actually address my original question”).

    To repeat, the issue is that the definition you’ve provided is question begging in the context of your response at 176 above. Perhaps the fallacy could be eliminated by readdressing your response at 176 rather than focusing on definition of “information”.

  198. H’mm:

    UB, 176: >> Given that there is only one [ED: observationally verified] origin of Information – regardless of the metaphysics one might wish to accord – there is no viable need to make predictions upon another origin of Information. We don’t predict the next origin of Information, no more so than we predict the next origin of Gravity. >>

    That is correct, ans it is equally correct that coded information [the relevant type], in the context of its observed source, is uniformly an intentional artifact, whereby symbols, on rules of meaning and a vocabulary, are used to represent a separate reality, on a convention. Conventions reflect choice.

    So, when we see an instance of a digital code, we are entitled to infer to such a source, unless and until it can be convincingly empirically demonstrated that symbols, conventions of correspondence, meaning and vocabularies can originate by blind chance plus mechanical necessity.

    That is anotehr way of saying, where is a body of fact7ual evidence that supports a particular best explanation for dFSCI, intelligence.

    If you want to dispute it, don’t go playing at selectively hyperskeptical definitional games, go out and show an empirical counter example.

    The want of such, and the ubiquity of definitional games, tells us that the evidence is strongly on one side, but the powerful ideological agenda is on another side.

    GEM of TKI

  199. 199

    Doveton,

    To repeat, the issue is that the definition you’ve provided is question begging in the context of your response at 176 above. Perhaps the fallacy could be eliminated by readdressing your response at 176 rather than focusing on definition of “information”.

    Geez man. Take a stock in what you are saying.

    You asked a question: What requires a designer?

    I answered it: The origin of Information

    You then asked: What’s your definition of information?

    Again, I answered it.

    Then you say – Not fair, your definition of information implies a designer. Fallacy!!! Circular!!

    No duh, Skippy. Does it even penetrate your thought process that to answer your question of what requires a designer is to give an answer that requires a designer? And by responding to the question of what requires a designer with an answer that requires a designer does not make that answer either circular or a fallacy?

    Hello?

    Now….one of two rational things can happen. You can either prove that the definition being used is faulty (in which case you’ve shown that the answer is not valid) – or – You can accept that the definition is correct, and that you have been given an answer to the question that you asked.

  200. UB,

    Doveton,

    To repeat, the issue is that the definition you’ve provided is question begging in the context of your response at 176 above. Perhaps the fallacy could be eliminated by readdressing your response at 176 rather than focusing on definition of “information”.

    Geez man. Take a stock in what you are saying.

    You asked a question: What requires a designer?

    No, that is not what I asked. You might wish to revisit the questions I actually wrote in 173 above. This may, however, explain why your answer doesn’t actually address the questions I did ask. Here are my two questions again:

    1) How does “designer” provide any sort of utility as an explanation for any effect?

    2) What effects can only be explained by invoking the concept of a “designer” and in what way does such provide a model that can be utilized to make predictions about further effects?

    Your response, “the origin of information”, clearly does not address question 1. It might have addressed question 2, but since the definition of information you provided implies a designer already, all you’ve responded with is, “the origin of designed things can only be explained by the concept “designer”. While that may be true, it doesn’t actually address question 2; it does not provide any model or utility.

    Would you care to try again?

  201. UB,

    Doveton, science is about evidence, not obfuscation.

    Demonstrate the definition is false.

    Well, since we are engaged in a discussion and not actually engaged in science, your statement above, while true, isn’t relevant to my responses. Of course, since I’m not obfuscating the any issue anyway and have actually provided three elaborations on why your response 176 does not address my question, there’s nothing further to demonstrate on my part.

  202. 202

    Doveton, oh golly, I am so sorry.

    When you typed the words – - “What effects can only be explained by invoking the concept of a “designer” – - I took it that you wanted to know what observed physical effects can only be explained by invoking a designer.

    So I cut and pasted those exact words from your post, and placed them into my post, and then answered the question.

    I now see that I was foolishly mistaken.

    It is now abundantly clear that you actually wanted to know what effects can only be explained by “invoking the concept of a designer”.

    Vastly different. Bravo. ID is false.

  203. Doveton:

    Can your posts in this thread be reasonably assigned to lucky noise on the net?

    If so, there is no “you” to respond to, and your comments are moot.

    If not, you have answered your own question — and the implication of your answers above is that this last is the case.

    Your posts contain functionally specific, complex information and can only be reasonably explained on design by an intelligent poster.

    I do not think you have a serious question.

    GEM of TKI

  204. And besides, Information is a meaningless concept, completely useless, there’s no place for it in science, and it sure as heck can’t be measured, and we have seen how it can also arise by strictly Darwinian means, so you can’t say it’s presence can be used as a prediction concerning other instances of Information.

  205. UB,

    Doveton, oh golly, I am so sorry.

    When you typed the words – – “What effects can only be explained by invoking the concept of a “designer” – – I took it that you wanted to know what observed physical effects can only be explained by invoking a designer.

    That would be a much more accurate rephrasing of what I asked in question 2 above. Note however that this is not the same thing as “what [in general] can only be explained by invoking a designer”.

    So I cut and pasted those exact words from your post, and placed them into my post, and then answered the question.

    Oh…I’m very sorry. Here’s what I saw on the screen:

    “What requires a designer?”

    Maybe the site rearranged the words you typed, but in any event, those words don’t reflect what I wrote. Hence my comments.

    I do find it interesting that you seem to think that question 1 was not pertinent to question 2 and neglected to address it at all. Maybe if you’d answered that one, you’d have realized that your answer didn’t really respond to what I was actually asking.

    I now see that I was foolishly mistaken.

    I’m glad you understand that now.

    It is now abundantly clear that you actually wanted to know what effects can only be explained by “invoking the concept of a designer”.

    Yep…odd how this is actually vastly different than “What requires a designer?” I mean, let’s be frank – one could in fact answer this question with “car”, but such an answer would not actually be appropriate to my question 2 above, don’t you agree?

    I’m very happy to see that we both agree on the difference.

    Vastly different. Bravo. ID is false.

    Well…that strikes me a different discussion entirely, but then again I’m glad you understand that now too. ;)

  206. KF,

    Doveton:

    Can your posts in this thread be reasonably assigned to lucky noise on the net?

    I would say no, but then I don’t believe there’s anyway for anyone else to actually “know” they aren’t.

    If so, there is no “you” to respond to, and your comments are moot.

    Of course there is a “you” (as in “me”) to respond to from your (or other folks’) perspectives; the “you” or rather the “Doveton” is merely a set of signals that pop up this site that you either enjoy responding to or you don’t. Makes not one hill of beans whether I’m an actual person typing on some computer somewhere, a very sophisticated computer program, lucky noise, or a figment of your imagination. So long as your perception of this “Doveton” and his, her, its messages are something you enjoy (or at the very least want to) write back to, “Doveton’s” actual existence is irrelevant – your impression of its existence is all that matters.

    If not, you have answered your own question — and the implication of your answers above is that this last is the case.

    See above.

    Your posts contain functionally specific, complex information and can only be reasonably explained on design by an intelligent poster.

    Ok…so in other words, if we can determine some level of FSCI, we can be fairly certain that such is a product of human activity. That makes sense to me.

    I do not think you have a serious question.

    GEM of TKI

    Well I do if we are talking about your comment to Neil Rickert in the other thread – more specifically if you are asking if I “know” you are not lucky noise. As Mr. Rickert noted, not only can I not “know” whether the words I see on this board attributed to “Kairosfocus” (or anyone else for that matter) are lucky noise or not, I actually don’t care either way so long as our typings appear to generate some context that provide me enjoyment. It is true that I have some level of confidence that this “Kairosfocus” is another human being, but in truth I don’t much care about that since I can’t actually determine such.

    This was a long-winded way of pointing out a distinction: can we know that the postings of others on this board are not lucky noise? I don’t think so. However, are the postings best explained as being the product of human activity? Yes, I believe they are.

  207. 207

    Amazing is the number of materialists ideologues who have come to UD and wilfully (not ‘free’ of course) choose to reduce themselves to blather in order dodge the evidence.

  208. Doveton:

    In a scien6tific context, knowledge is credibly true, well warranted belief, the standard we routinely act on in serious contexts.

    By that standard, we have abundant warrant to know that neither NR nor the undersigned are artifacts of lucky noise.

    But, to sustain a commitment to the denial of the implications of detecting FSCI in life forms and FSCO in the fine tuned design of the cosmos, many are patently willing to reduce themselves to blatant absurdity.

    Sadly, this now seems to include you.

    Please, think again.

    GEM of TKI

  209. 209
    CannuckianYankee

    Upright,

    “Amazing is the number of materialists ideologues who have come to UD and wilfully (not ‘free’ of course) choose to reduce themselves to blather in order dodge the evidence.”

    A great many of them I have noticed are also posters on markf’s blog, even some of the nicer ones who have come here of late. Haven’t seen Doveton there, but one (or more?) of them do have a way of disguising themselves here sometimes.

    http://mfinmoderation.wordpres.....ad-cont-3/

    The majority of them there do not believe anyone here has provided an answer to MG’s initial question.

    They clearly have an agenda to:

    1) See who can get the IDists to capitulate. It’s interesting to me that they’re beginning to see that MathGrrl’s tactics did not work in getting any of us to capitulate (I still can’t figure out to what), and then all of a sudden, a newer more agreeable person arrives, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Liddle. I really can’t fault her for anything though – she’s as genuinely friendly here as she is there, and her questions are certainly more interesting and well thought out – and apparently she’s new there as well. But some of them see her as someone who has a new angle here, that will work better than MG’s tactics. Frankly, I agree. I’m not sure if she’s agreeing to be party to that, but it is interesting that they’re beginning to see that reasoned and civil discussion is what we’re all about. We welcome it. If there were more Lizzies coming here, the record they cite regarding moderation would be nonexistent.

    You get an awful lot of information from them simply by reading that blog. They talk about their tactics quite often.

    2) Test UD’s moderation “policies.” I don’t think that tactic has worked well for them, and they seem frustrated by that fact, since MG and others have not as yet been 86d as I imagine they fully expected, since they seem to be obsessed every time there’s any hint that they’ve been moderated. It is after all, the name of the blog “In Moderation.”

    3) Try to get UD supporters and administrators caught in some sort of double standard – such as the whole context and quote mining issue (for that they’re talking about this very thread) or the outing issue (VJs recent thread identifying MG). MG/Patrick outed her/himself, and he/she admitted (or rather hinted) as much on that blog – a blog he/she invited us to, so it’s really old news. All VJ did was to provide more information based on her/his own mistake.

    4) Try to get UD regulars over to their blog (for what purpose, I don’t know). However, they have a habit of assuming that when we don’t go and post there (as if their blog is all that important), we’re avoiding interaction with ID detractors. I kid you not: Pav posted there for days on end, and recently since he hasn’t posted, someone there made that charge. I’d like them to tell that to folks like JonathanM who stood up to PZ Meyers in a hostile crowd, and kept a confident smile on his face when PZ asked him if he was ashamed of himself. No that wasn’t in an internet forum, but out in public. Such charges are rather weak when one considers the sacrifices ID supporters have had to endure in hostile environments.

    My advice to anyone here who would think about giving them an audience again, as MG has been given, is to go there (or elsewhere) first and try to identify who exactly we’re giving a platform to. Or at least that they show some sort of proof as to who they are. I’m not certain if that’s ever been considered here.

    I think ID opponents should be given opportunities to raise issues of their own in posts/threads of their own. However, I think wisdom calls for knowing exactly who they are prior to granting such opportunities.

    It’s quite relevant, since much of their time is devoted to talking about us; and they’re not exactly interested in discussion. They’ve already made up their minds about ID, and many of them refuse to even read ID books, such as Dr. Dembski’s “No Free Lunch,” so they can understand CSI. PaV has painstakenly attempted to get several of them to do just that, but they have a groupthink mentality – reminiscent of PZ Meyers, that to actually engage with ID supporters would be to give them illegitimate respectability. Problem is, PZ actually reads some ID books. That particular group is not like the occasional onlooker here who really desires to understand ID, or the professional ID critic, who believes that some ID criticisms of Darwinism are legitimate. They’re not interested. Weaknesses of Darwinism do not appear to concern them, which is not in the least surprising.

    None of what they’re doing here is actually engaging the arguments. They have not educated themselves enough on ID to be able to do that, and they refuse to do so. It is refreshing then when one of their own comes here and on prompting decides to do that. I’m talking about Dr. Liddle again with SITC.

    They don’t see themselves as reducing themselves to blather here. They’re heroes elsewhere. Our opinion of them doesn’t count because to them we’re the religious idiot, lying, anti-science underdogs. When they come here and ask questions, such questions are not intended for their own edification, but to trap us so they can earn praise and brownie points on other blogs where our reactions are being watched. That has become quite clear to me from reading such blogs. MG has become somewhat of a hero in the Darwinist blogosphere. Even PZ has mentioned him/her.

    It’s not about issues that they are concerned. They want to trick UD regulars into making mistakes, which they can then use to prove to the world that ID is bunk. It has nothing to do with the arguments, and more to do with perceived weaknesses in the personalities of those making the arguments. They feel that if they can somehow expose human weaknesses in UD regulars, that this says a lot about ID arguments. Everybody has weaknesses. Exposing them says little about the arguments themselves.

    While exposing tactics like I’m doing here is useful to us in knowing what we’re up against, I’m not addressing Darwinism per se. I have no argument in that regard at least in this post. I think UD regulars should know what the agendas are so that when they come across the people I’ve mentioned, they know how to respond appropriately. I am concerned about open and reasoned civil discussion without underlying agendas. Where it exists, it should be acknowledged, and where there are agendas other than reasoned civil discussion, they should be exposed, so we don’t continue to waste time.

    What I find interesting is that everyone seems to be talking about UD. PZ is talking about UD, some young anti-ID science major and popular blogger in Australia is talking about UD, Panda’s Thumb, YouTube, I could go on. Are we that much of a threat? I should hope so.

  210. KF,

    In a scien6tific context, knowledge is credibly true, well warranted belief, the standard we routinely act on in serious contexts.

    No argument here.

    By that standard, we have abundant warrant to know that neither NR nor the undersigned are artifacts of lucky noise.

    No we don’t. We aren’t in a scientific arena here and while I can’t speak for you or anyone else, I am exceedingly confident nobody on this blog is doing the proper scientific research on each and every post or code that pops up.

    Here’s the thing – I actually perform ecological research. I know what science is and where it ends. The scientific methodology is quite specific. Reading a blog and deciding that the text doesn’t appear to be written by some software or look like lucky noise isn’t science no matter what your level of confidence is. So claiming anything about the confidence level of “knowing” something via science doesn’t apply to this blog.

    But, to sustain a commitment to the denial of the implications of detecting FSCI in life forms and FSCO in the fine tuned design of the cosmos, many are patently willing to reduce themselves to blatant absurdity.

    That’s all well and good, but doesn’t actually address whether the other posts here I see are lucky noise or not.

    Sadly, this now seems to include you.

    I’m sure it does, but I, for one, am not particularly sad about it.

    Please, think again.

    I already have…many times in fact. But thank you for your concern.

  211. 211

    Cannuck, your post at 209 should be required reading, even though most knew it all along.

  212. A great many of them I have noticed are also posters on markf’s blog, even some of the nicer ones who have come here of late. Haven’t seen Doveton there, but one (or more?) of them do have a way of disguising themselves here sometimes.

    It likely makes no difference, but for the record I have never posted on Mark F’s blog. Truth be told, I’d never actually read Mark F’s blog until I read your comment. Interesting discussion…

  213. 213
    CannuckianYankee

    Upright :)

    I just think that when our suspicions are confirmed we have better ground on which to wage the best possible discussion where people actually learn something as opposed to a back-and-forth akin to Monty Python’s argument clinic.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

  214. 214

    CanYank,

    …agreed!

  215. “The Divine is not ‘censored’ from science – quite the reverse – to ascribe an effect to the Divine is tantamount to saying: ‘we have come to the end of the causal chain and can go no further’.”

    Now, Lizzie, that’s just silly. I’m surprised a smart girl like you would let yourself get caught doing such obvious spinning.

    In the modern age, “the Divine” has indeed been censored from science, just as the Lewontin quotation indicates. This is shown by your own words. “Coming to the end of the causal chain” reflects a view of how science should be done and what science is. And according to this view, science is the pursuit of naturalistic explanations.

    Modernism equates science with naturalism because it has negated being. In a worldview where nothingness prevails, being is outside of science, or knowledge, for the simple reason that nothingness does not know being . In other words, your worldview dictates your understanding of science. (I assume I don’t need to add that your worldview is not the only one…?)

    You “censor the Divine” as soon as you embrace nothingness. This is what Lewontin was saying. You cannot afford to let a divine foot in the door because this would undermine the worldview in which you have invested your identity. Thus you find yourself in a position of having to negate any evidence that points to design, no matter how self-evident this evidence might seem to others.

    Absolute negation (“censoring”) of any and all signs of being is dictated by Nihilism. Unfortunately, microbiology is making Nihilism an increasingly unwieldy proposition. The more science tells us about the inner workings of the cell, which indicate intelligent being, the more the modern proponent of “naturalism” finds himself in a position of having to spin in order to preserve his point of view.

    And people are starting to notice.

  216. @Driver: You asked;

    “How would we even begin to construct a scientific hypothesis about God? What measurable qualities would we look for?”

    The God of the Christian Bible said that “even a child is known by his doings” and, in another time, also said “wherefore by their fruits shall ye know them”.

    But to use that as your guide to doing science requires an a priori commitment to creation / the existence of the creator, i.e. God.

    However, to use naturalism as your guide to doing science, in the exclusory sense of ruling out any but natural explanations a la Lewontin, requires an a prior commitment to the non-existence of God.

    I like your open-minded statements about this question.

    I believe the answer is that we leave the question open. That, as scientists, we admit that we cannot answer without resort to predispositions that are themselves not scientific, having no falsifiable component to them.

    And while many scientists will privately admit this and allow others the right to their own predispositions and related conclusions, these arguments are not really about private matters at all, but about the very public use of very public monies to admit only to one of these predispositions, and to exclude all others.

    That’s really what this ongoing debate is about; some want to pursue truth, well some want to define it for everyone, and force everyone to pay the price of doing so.

    [--> Did I get the fix right? KF]

  217. ScuzzaMan:

    Did I get the fix right?

    KF

  218. Sorry, KF. Missed this until now.

    Looks good. If you feel like changing “well” to “while” it would be perfect.

    And deleting these editorials, if you can be bothered.

    Thanks
    SM

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