ID and the Science of God: Part I

In response to an earlier post of mine, DaveScot kindly pointed out this website’s definition of ID. The breadth of the definition invites scepticism: ID is defined as the science of design detection — how to recognize patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. But is there really some single concept of ‘intelligence’ that informs designs that are generated by biological, human, and possibly even mechanical means? Why would anyone think such a thing in the first place? Yet, it is precisely this prospect that makes ID intellectually challenging – for both supporters and opponents.

It’s interesting that not everything is claimed to be intelligently designed. This keeps the phrase ‘intelligent design’ from simply collapsing into ‘design’ by implying a distinction between the intelligence and that on which it acts to produce design. So, then, what exactly is this ‘intelligence’ that stands apart from matter? Well, the most obvious answer historically is a deity who exists in at least a semi-transcendent state. But how can you get any scientific mileage from that?

Enter theodicy, which literally means (in Greek) ‘divine justice’. It is now a field much reduced from its late 17th century heyday. Theodicy exists today as a boutique topic in philosophy and theology, where it’s limited to asking how God could allow so much evil and suffering in the world. But originally the question was expressed much more broadly to encompass issues that are nowadays more naturally taken up by economics, engineering and systems science – and the areas of biology influenced by them: How does the deity optimise, given what it’s trying to achieve (i.e. ideas) and what it’s got to work with (i.e. matter)? This broader version moves into ID territory, a point that has not escaped the notice of theologians who nowadays talk about theodicy.

A good case in point is Christopher Southgate’s The Groaning of Creation, a comprehensive work written from a theistic evolutionary standpoint. Southgate is uneasy about concepts like ‘irreducible complexity’ for being a little too clear about how God operates in nature. The problem with such clarity, of course, is that the more we think we know the divine modus operandi, the more God’s allowance of suffering and evil looks deliberate, which seems to put divine action at odds with our moral scruples. One way out – which was the way taken by the original theodicists – is to say that to think like God is to see evil and suffering as serving a higher good, as the deity’s primary concern is with the large scale and the long term.

Now, a devout person might complain that this whole way of thinking about God is blasphemous, since it presumes that we can get into the mind of God – and once we do, we find a deity who is not especially loveable, since God seems quite willing to sacrifice his creatures for some higher design principle. Not surprisingly, religious thinkers complained about theodicy from day one. In the book I flagged in my last post, The Best of All Possible Worlds, Steven Nadler portrays the priest Antoine Arnauld as the critical foil of the two duelling theodicists, Nicole Malebranche and Gottfried von Leibiniz. Against them, Arnauld repeatedly pointed out that it’s blasphemous to suppose that God operates in what humans recognise as a ‘rational’ fashion. So how, then, could theodicy have acquired such significance among self-avowed Christians in the first place (Malebranche was also a priest) and, more interestingly, how could its mode of argumentation have such long-lasting secular effects, basically in any field concerned with optimisation?

The answer goes back to the question on everyone’s mind here: What constitutes evidence of design? We tend to presume that any evidence of design is, at best, indirect evidence for a designer. But this is not how the original theodicists thought about the matter. They thought we could have direct (albeit perhaps inconclusive) evidence of the designer, too. Why? Well, because the Bible says so. In particular, it says that we humans are created in the image and likeness of God. At the very least, this means that our own and God’s beings overlap in some sense. (For Christians, this is most vividly illustrated in the person of Jesus.) The interesting question, then, is to figure out how much of our own being is divine overlap and how much is simply the regrettable consequence of God’s having to work through material reality to embody the divine ideas ‘in’ – or, put more controversially, ‘as’ — us. Theodicy in its original full-blooded sense took this question as its starting point.

There was some enthusiasm for this way of thinking in the late 17th century. Here are four reasons:

(1) The sheer spread of literacy, connected both to the rise of the printing press and the Protestant Reformation (and those two events connected to each other, in terms of who operated the presses), meant that the Bible came to treated increasingly as instructions for living, as often happens today. So, the claim that we are created in the image and likeness of God was read as a mode of personal address: I am so created. This, of course, broke down the Catholic mode of Christian domination, whereby clerical authorities had modulated the biblical message for the situation at hand – e.g. by telling the faithful to treat certain aspects of the Bible as merely ‘symbolic’ or ‘metaphorical’. Theistic evolutionists routinely resort to this strategy today.

(2) On theological grounds, to deny that we are literally created in the image and likeness of God is itself to court heresy. It comes close to admitting an even worse offence, namely, anthropomorphism. In other words, if we presume that, even in sacred scripture, references to our relationship to God are mere projections, then why take the Bible seriously at all? 19th century secularisation was propelled by just this line of thought, but anti-theodicists like Arnauld who refused to venture into God’s mind could be read that way as well – scepticism masquerading as piety. (Kant also ran into this problem.) In contrast, theodicists appeared to read the Bible as the literal yet fallible word of God. There is scope within Christianity for this middle position because of known problems in crafting the Bible, whose human authorship is never denied (unlike, say, the Qur’an). One extreme result of this mentality was Thomas Jefferson’s attempt to edit the Gospels of all ‘superstitious’ elements, just as a Neo-Darwinist (say, UK geneticist Steve Jones) might re-write Origin of Species to reinstate Darwin’s fundamental principles in a firmer evidence base. To be sure, there is still plenty of room for blasphemy, but at least not for atheism!

(3) Within philosophy, theodicists, despite their disagreements, claimed legitimacy from Descartes, whose ‘cogito ergo sum’ proposed an example of human-divine overlap, namely, humanity’s repetition of how the deity establishes its own existence. After all, creation is necessary only because God originally exists apart from matter, and so needs to make its presence felt in the world through matter. (Isn’t that what the creation stories in Genesis are about?) So too with humans, so Descartes seemed to think. The products of our own re-enactment of divine thought patterns are still discussed in philosophy today as ‘a priori knowledge’. The open question is how much of our knowledge falls under this category, since whatever knowledge we acquire from the senses is clearly tied to our animal natures, which God does not share. But of course, the senses do not operate unadorned. Thus, by distinguishing the sensory and non-sensory aspects of our knowledge, we might infer the reliability of our access to the intelligent designer.

(4) There was also what we now call the ‘Scientific Revolution’, whose calling card was the fruitfulness of mechanical models for fathoming the natural world. A striking case in point was Galileo’s re-fashioning of a toy, the telescope, into an instrument of astronomical discovery. This contributed to the sense that our spontaneous displays of invention and ingenuity also reproduced the divine creative process: We make things that open up the world to understanding and control. This mode of thinking would start to kick in the scientific societies formed around the 18th century’s Industrial Revolution. One such influential society in the British Midlands, the ‘Lunar Society’, has been the subject of a recent popular book by Jenny Uglow.

Theodicy gets off the ground against these four background conditions once a specific mental faculty is proposed as triggering the spark of the divine in the human. This faculty was generally known as intellectual intuition – that is, the capacity to anticipate experience in a systematic and rational fashion. (Here’s a definition of intelligence worth defending.) We would now say the capacity to generate virtual realities that happen to correspond to physical reality, the sort of thing computer simulations do all the time, courtesy of their programmers. In the 17th century, people were especially impressed by the prospect of analytic (aka Cartesian) geometry capturing a rational world-order governed by universal laws of mechanical motion. So far, so good. But clearly something went wrong – what?

Tune in for the next instalment…

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

165 Responses to ID and the Science of God: Part I

  1. The sideshow enters the main stage…

    Mr Fuller, if you’ve grown tired of arguing for ID on its merits, or if the intellectual competition has not been to your liking, then simply stop arguing for it.

  2. it is precisely this prospect that makes ID intellectually challenging

    Materialist atheism is what makes Design challenging, Mr. Fuller.

    So, then, what exactly is this ‘intelligence’ that stands apart from matter?

    The organized sequencing of the nucleotides in the DNA molecule cannot come about by chance or mechanical necessity. From qualitative analysis of mechanisms, it requires volitional agency to create such organized sequencing. This is what stands apart from the matter that is animated by its existence.

    It’s interesting that not everything is claimed to be intelligently designed.

    Mr. Fuller, you have a hook in your mouth. Please spit it out.

  3. As Steve puts it, I too am wrestling with the question of “What constitutes evidence of design?” Let me be specific, and I apologize in advance if I’m getting the arguments wrong. Please help me out if I’ve made a mistake.

    For example, I saw elsewhere on here that the design inference is more complicated than just the notion that “things that looked designed probably are designed.” Two concepts that drill down with more depth are Complex Specified Information (CSI) and irreducible complexity. I *think* I understand those concepts.

    But then there are other arguments that don’t seem to fit with either CSI or irreducible complexity, and I’m struggling to understand how they’re evidence for design. For example: one argument (put forth in The Privileged Planet and elsewhere) has to do with the notion that the Earth is balanced “on a razor’s edge” so as to permit complex life — it is in the galactic habitable zone, in the solar habitable zone, has an axial tilt permitting seasons, has a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere, a large moon, etc., etc.

    The “fine tuning of the Earth” is not CSI, because it does not correspond to a pre-existing pattern (right?). Nor is it “irreducibly complex,” because that term applies only to biological systems. So I’m struggling to understand how, philosophically, the fine tuning of the Earth constitutes evidence for design without making the mistake that others were corrected for — that all things that look designed are designed.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  4. My first post – I enjoy the site.
    But I really don’t get the scientific approach to God, in which various theologists attempt to study him beyond what he has revealed. Can anyone say that he ‘needs’ to express himself in a certain way? Can the clay examine the potter? Aren’t his thoughts higher than ours, as the heavens are higher than the earth, and unsearchable?
    To me it’s a bit like Plato concluding that man has an immportal soul. He’s often quoted, because he’s Plato, but how could he possibly know?
    I actually read the site for the scientific discussions, but seeing the topic I thought I’d throw $.02 in.

  5. Upright Biped, I’m glad you think ‘volitional agency’ is such a clear idea but I’m not sure why you’re so upset that others might wish to probe exactly what that means and how it might work.

  6. Somehow Plato arrived at the conclusion that man has an immortal soul. He’s famous and quoted often. But the truth is, he had no way of knowing.
    To me these more recent philosophers who say that God needed to express himself this way or that way and apply all of their wisdom seem much the same. It’s no less speculative than some theoretical pathway for the evolution of the eye.

  7. Mr. Fuller,

    Establishment materialism uses a scientific edifice to say that belief in a spiritual existence is an outmoded idea for those who are weak-minded and unable to accept the truth of the evidence.

    This is a clear abuse of science.

    ID has rightfully self-limited its argument to nothing BUT the observable evidence – the material evidence. That is the source of its power within the debate.

    I react strongly to those say, as you have, “what good is ID if it doesn’t say something about the Designer”. The argument is the bait of our opposition.

    You may very well have something interesting to say, but redefining ID is a strategic mistake of the FIRST variety.

    Let me be more clear: The first rule in a defense (of ID or anything else) is to be truthful about your position. This rule is sometimes stated as “Only the leader can defend”. It’s a prescription for rigorous honesty among human beings, based on the vast experience of human beings themselves.

    If you do not lead then don’t defend, or the inverse, you can’t defend what you don’t lead.

    ID leads the evidence. Functional nucleic sequencing cannot happen by chance or necessity. In this, ID leads the evidence and can defend it. Materialism does not lead this evidence, and cannot defend against it, therefore all the associated crap that all ID proponents are well aware of comes into play – like, what does the design say about the designer, etc, etc.

    You seem to think that the defense of ID will profit by saying something it cannot immediately defend. I think you are completely mistaken, and hazardously so.

    If you have something interesting you’d like to say about the possibility of Design in nature, then by all means say it, but keep it off the main stage (by accepting its limits), and certainly don’t suggest that ID is lacking in its ability to defend the evidence when you yourself attempt to inject that which cannot be defended.

  8. Upright Biped, the problem with your position is that you write as if the evidence for ID simply manufactures itself — as if science were conducted in the sort of self-organizing fashion that you probably would deplore if we were talking about DNA. Is your position that we simply follow the evidence wherever it goes and merely hope that ID is vindicated? If so, why do we need to adopt such a passive attitude, especially given the known obstacles to the pursuit of ID-oriented research? You say ID ‘leads the evidence’ but that is conditional on ID supporters providing an adequate account of the intelligence that is supposedly displayed in DNA, etc. Otherwise, the Darwinists can always claim it’s a protracted lucky accident. In this context, the idea of an intelligent designer, some of whose properties we ourselves share by virtue of our own design, becomes important to invoke and develop.

  9. Why “Intelligent” Design rather than simply design?

    For instance, Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins writes, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” Likewise, Nobel laureate Francis Crick writes, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.” http://www.designinference.com.....rticle.htm

    I have always considered the redundancy of “Intelligent Design” as a deliberate conterpoint to the oxymoronic “Un-Intelligent Un-Design” of evolutionary materialism. You would have to ask the framers of the phrase to clarify their actual intent (design?).

    Furthermore, their is the distinction between the design utilized by animals which I labeled “cunning” and the planned intentionality exibited by humans which I labeled “ratio.” There is considerable difference between the two, the first may be considered “Un-Intelligent Design” and the second “Intelligent Design.”

    How does the deity optimise, given what it’s trying to achieve (i.e. ideas) and what it’s got to work with (i.e. matter)?

    As I understand it, one of the fundamental premises of ID is that speculation about the nature and intent of the designer is specifically verboten due to the implicit religious entanglements. That said, the difficulty you have cited is not a particular problem for orthodox Christianity; the problem you cite is a only problem when the Platonic metaphysic is applied to the Creator God. (more later)

    Southgate is uneasy about concepts like ‘irreducible complexity’ for being a little too clear about how God operates in nature. The problem with such clarity, of course, is that the more we think we know the divine modus operandi, the more God’s allowance of suffering and evil looks deliberate, which seems to put divine action at odds with our moral scruples.

    There are two questions here, one is “irreducible complexity” and the other is the “question of evil”.

    Irreducible Complexity is an effective wedge for opening minds, but it is flawed by its own implicit reductionism. It is a step up from the extreme reductionism and, as such, a step in the right direction, it still leaves one with the impression that the whole may be explained by the parts. I found Wiker and Witt’s “A Meaningful World” a facinating journey from the opposite direction of how the parts depend upon the whole for function and meaning.

    “The Question of Evil”
    …God’s allowance of suffering and evil looks deliberate…

    And I would have to answer, “Of course it is!” To understand why you would have to re-read Genesis:1-3 as historical theology and anthropology. It is the explanation of who God is (in orthodox Christian theology) and who man is (in orthodox Christian anthropology) and when you comprehend the natures of the main characters you will comprehend why “…God’s allowance of suffering and evil looks deliberate…” and the answer, quite simply is because it is deliberate.

    Let us imagine that, out of the goodness fo your heart, you decide to give a close friend a house that you own. You tell him, “George, you’re a good friend whose fallen on hard times, and you need a place to live, I’ll give you this house, and all I ask is that you take good care of it.” You go down to land titles, sign the documents, and the house is his. The next thing you know he’s moved in bunch of people, the lawn isn’t mowed, windows are broken, garbage is strewn about the yard, etc. You may repent of your generosity, regret the impulse that caused you to give it to him, even confront him about his failure to maintain his end of the bargain, but it is still his house.

    In a sense, that is the position God is in. He made the world and everything in it, and then made people to look after it, and gave them title to it. They (we) didn’t keep our end of the bargain. We have let the “house” fall into decay and frustration. Our Fall doesn’t just affect us, it affects the entire “house.”

    God is a “man of His word” so to speak (bad analogy) but He will not take by force what He has freely given. Therefore He must let the consequences of our and our ancestors actions play themselves out. We must freely give our selves and our house back to God before He can repair us and it.

    The 17th C. theodicies you cite are part of the budding rejection of the theology and anthropology of Genesis. Earlier theodicies (and there are many – Augustine’s City of God is one) didn’t concern themselves with the question of evil because they understood the source of evil. It is when we assume that death and suffering are built in, and that the story of Genesis is about man’s upward Fall into moral consciousness, that evil becomes problematic.

    After all, creation is necessary only because God originally exists apart from matter, and so needs to make its presence felt in the world through matter. (Isn’t that what the creation stories in Genesis are about?)

    This takes us back to the confusion of Platonism and Christianity.

    Plato believed that matter was eternal and co-existed with the divine ideals. Since matter was “its own thing” independent of God. God (the demiurge) was restrained in his capacity to realize the ideals by the inherent limitation of matter.

    In Christian theology God precedes and creates matter according to his plan (design?) and so is not constrained in His capacity to create by any inherent limitations of matter. Hence, creation was “very good.” It was not made “as good as I can” and it was not made out of any “need to make His presence felt,” but as a single, volitional, artistic, creative act. First there was nothing, then there was something. Think of a painter or writer expressing his imagination in oil and ink.

    For some thoughts on Descartes may I suggest Wiker, “Ten Books That Screwed Up The World”?

  10. Dgosse, many thanks for your response, which I appreciate. But you give away the game when you compare God with a painter, which I happen to think is quite apposite but tells against your general position. Painting is all about struggling against a resistant medium, such that the ‘skill’ of painting has to do with getting the paints and canvas to do things that they would otherwise not do. And I agree that, if there is a God, this is probably how s/he operates – that is, there is always a struggle and the result may be never quite good enough, which is perhaps why a change of thought and/or being is always on the horizon.

  11. I have said this before on threads that have brought up the concept of evil. Just what is evil? The more advanced we get the more squeamish we seem to get and the more that is considered evil. We can all supply examples of what we consider evil but is what is evil in our sense, evil in God’s sense and do we have any idea just what it means for something to be evil in God’s sense. And if it is not evil in God’s sense, can we say that God is allowing evil?

    Is it the fact that some insect poisons another insect and digests its internals, is it the fact that some organism possesses a particular lethal type of poison and uses this poison to kill its prey, is it the fact that a farm animal is kept in a tight enclosure prior to slaughter, is it the fact that a child gets sick and dies, is it the fact that someone is killed by a hurricane or accidentally falls and is killed, is it the fact that someone kills several people with a bomb, is it the fact that someone tortures someone and then kills them while imparting maximum pain, is it the fact that a group systematically rounds up and kills a group of people. Is it more evil for the last example when the people doing the killing are educated and the people are killed at the last second by a poison gas without them suspecting anything was amiss or would it make a difference if they were machine gunned down facing their executioners?

    Is it the magnitude of the examples I just gave that makes a difference. Is evil a phenomena that can be graded? What led to a re examination of the theodicy issue was the Lisbon earthquake and all its seemingly pointless misery and destruction.

    So suppose that something that seems to be evil in our sense, would it also be necessarily evil for God or as I said abov e, does this distinction have any meaning because nothing can be evil to God.

    Also if there is such a thing as a long range plan for our existence, what would constitute evil within the framework of such a plan? I have no certainty of what is right but suppose the long range plan is salvation. What then constitutes evil in terms of this goal?

    Or is it possible that none of the examples above are evil and only something that frustrates God’s plan is evil? And what could frustrate God’s plan?

    Before we tackle theodicy here and it has been discussed many times before, we need to assess just what is truly evil. I wish people luck in such a venture since it has occupied some of the brightest minds in history. To me as a Christian the only thing that would be evil would be something that prevents salvation for someone. And as a last aside, can a person that frustrates salvation for someone else be saved?

  12. dgosse @6, splendid!

    Steve, for my part, science, philosophy, and theology were never meant to be radically separated; each should illuminiate the other. If, as it turns out, one really wants the kinds of answers that you seek, many of them have already been worked out.

    Aquinas, for example, has already explained (successfully) that God’s existence (similar to what we normally think of as God) can be proven through the use of unaided reason. He as also shown that our intelligence can be explained as that which participates in Divine Intelligence, just as our existence can be explained as that which participates in Divine being. God IS existence, but we HAVE it; God IS intelligence, but we have a small portion of it. We don’t need a Bible to make the point.

    In my judgment, we should allow these points to complement our knowledge of science without becoming a part of our science, just as we should allow science to deepen our understanding the the philsophical/theological points without becoming a part of philosophy or theology. But, as we all know, political correctness will not permit it.

    In any case, I don’t understand your objection to dgosse’s concept of the painter and the painting, which is, of course, analogous to the creator and the creation. You seem to be saying that orthodox Christianity (a holistic religious answer) is at variance with ID (a specialized partial answer). I am simply not getting it. I don’t understand why you are asking science to do provide philosophy’s wisdom, while, at the same time, ignoring the wisdom that philosophy has already provided on its own.

  13. 13

    Upright Biped, the problem with your position is that you write as if the evidence for ID simply manufactures itself

    The evidence for gravity was observational. Those observations lead to testing and confirmation. So too is the evidence for design in Nature. How would Newton’s observations been served by establishing the meaning of gravity?

    Is your position that we simply follow the evidence wherever it goes and merely hope that ID is vindicated?

    Thank you for summing up the power of the evidence. This is called science. My admonishment to you is to not (in the name of ID) attempt to lead a position that you don’t have the evidence to defend.

    if so, why do we need to adopt such a passive attitude

    You may characterize it as passive if you wish, but I hardly think the work being done is passive. In any case, it’s certainly no weakness to allow the evidence to speak for itself, see Copernicus, Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein.

    You say ID ‘leads the evidence’ but that is conditional on ID supporters providing an adequate account of the intelligence that is supposedly displayed in DNA, etc.

    No argument here. Anything you can do to help is much appreciated, the one thing you might consider doing is remove the word “supposedly” from your sentence. This is (after all) a competition.

    Otherwise, the Darwinists can always claim it’s a protracted lucky accident.

    And when they do, we have to hold their feet to the fire for evidence that lucky accidents are so frequent in Nature that an organized DNA molecule can form from chance and necessity. When necessity only creates order, we question their evidence compared to the observed aperiodic nature of nucleic sequencing. And, when chance makes every digit in the sequence independent of any other digit in the sequence, then we question their evidence compared to the observed organization of nucleic sequencing. We STAND on the evidence because we LEAD it.

    And your answer to this is to take their feet off the fire and change the conversation to things we cannot possibly know?

    In this context, the idea of an intelligent designer, some of whose properties we ourselves share by virtue of our own design, becomes important to invoke and develop.

    This is the hook in your mouth talking again. You’ve been asked to be here to make your case. I, in turn, have objected to the content of your message, particularly regarding your suggestion to re-define ID and include issues we cannot know.

    I’ll move along now…

  14. Steve Fuller wrote:

    “It’s interesting that not everything is claimed to be intelligently designed.”

    This statement, I believe, needs further clarification. For one thing, I think it’s a mistake, with all due respect to Steve Fuller, to use the adverb form of “intelligent” here. I may be speaking out-of-turn here, (a vast understatement, I’m sure) but it occurs to me that the phrase “intelligent design” is not intended as a qualitative statement about the object that was (apparently) designed. Rather, it’s a qualitative statement about the designer, about something that the designer possesses… intelligence. For this reason even something that appears very poorly designed indeed can still be a product of intelligent design because the designer possessed (and employed to some degree) intelligence.

    I own a British sportscar… a Triumph TR6. As much as I might love the car, I am intimately familiar with quite a few design flaws in the car. The car is indeed the product of intelligent design. But that doesn’t mean that everything about the car was DESIGNED INTELLIGENTLY (or at least as intelligently as buyers might have liked).

    I actually believe that “everything” was designed by an intelligence and by that I mean that matter and energy and even the laws of physics are the product of an intelligent designer and all had a specific purpose. And I am convinced that the designer is the God of the Bible. But that doesn’t mean that each and every object in the universe had to be designed. The complexity of a snowflake, for example, can readily be explained by natural processes and laws. In the direct sense, it was not designed. But in another sense it was designed in virtue of the fact that the laws and processes which produced it were designed.

    I like a painting analogy here because, as an illustrator, I can say with some authority that when painting I sometimes let natural forces do some of the work for me. I might create a wash upon which gravity and other natural laws act and this creates an effect that I intended in a non-specific way. I might even sprinkle some salt into the wash… the placement of each crystal of salt is not designed–the salt crystals land where physics dictates–but the effect and texture it creates on the board IS designed, or intended. Other times, however, I use specific brush strokes for specific reasons in specific places and the placement of those strokes can be CRITICAL.

    It appears to me that this designer acts in a similar way. Some things are designed in a specific, direct manner and other things are designed “indirectly.”

    I hope this makes some sense to someone. He, he.

  15. Upright BiPed says,

    The first rule in a defense (of ID or anything else) is to be truthful about your position. This rule is sometimes stated as “Only the leader can defend”. It’s a prescription for rigorous honesty among human beings, based on the vast experience of human beings themselves.

    The contemporary ID movement in America is fundamentally dishonest. It was founded by a law professor who knows much more about rhetoric than about science. His key rhetorical insight, hard on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court decision forbidding references to creation in public-school science classes, was that creation of a material entity includes creation of its design, and that the word design could be used cunningly in place of the words create and creation. The rhetorical shenanigans are with us even on this blog, where getting ID proponents to acknowledge that their notion of intelligent design reduces to creation of complex specified information is like pulling virtual molars.

    My favorite example of what lengths a leader of the ID movement will go to in order to avoid honesty is the subtitle of No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Intelligence. Having asked many times for an explanation of the purchased metaphor, and having never gotten one, I will state outright that the honest choice of word is created.

    It appears to me that Steve Fuller is attempting to help honest people elaborate an empirical science in which they proclaim, rather than hide under a bushel, their belief in God. And if you look into his writings, you will see that he opposes the exclusion of Christian thought from public institutions.

    I encourage all honest Christians who happen to read this, as I do my own family members who believe in ID, not to proceed by un-Christian subterfuge. The remedy to the political situation in America is not to pretend that you believe less than you do, but to oppose the artificial distinction of secular and religious views.

    We rightly do not teach students every minority view that comes along. If you want a science of God to have a place in American culture, then you must develop one. The claim that it presently exists is a lie. Stirring up controversy and then engaging in “teach the controversy” political activism is patently dishonest.

  16. Upright Biped, had I been invited into a forum in which the audience consisted mostly of ‘theistic evolutionists’, then I would not have bothered because they hold exactly your position — i.e. there may be an intelligent designer, but it is not possible to discuss such a person in scientific terms. I may misread you, but this is how you sound. Well, then, why not simply confine your concerns to the Darwinists who overstate what can be inferred from what you regard as ‘the evidence’? You sound like you’d make a great troubleshooter. Why, in your view, should ID be promoted as a positive position in its own right? I feel Judge Jones breathing down your neck.

  17. Sal Gal,

    A science that does not exists and is taught in schools is the science of macro evolution. The claim that it presently exists is a lie. So an undeveloped science is already taught in schools. Saying that it exists is patently dishonest. Should we use this model for a science of God even if it is undeveloped.

  18. Steve

    It’s not just this website’s definition of ID. It’s the consensus of many of the most recognizable names in the ID movement.

    I suppose you’re free to make up any definition you want. God knows our critics all construct strawmen linked to religion because, well, religion isn’t science so they get over in court that way and they get over in academia that way too.

    Who’s side do you think you’re on, Professor Fuller? Not mine that’s for sure.

  19. Is your position that we simply follow the evidence wherever it goes and merely hope that ID is vindicated?

    No shit. That’s what science is.

  20. Sal Gal claims that s/he claims to know what motivated the author of No Free Lunch to include the word ‘purchased’ in the sub-title.

    However, it is a very precarious thing to try to claim to *know* what motivated another intelligent being in their choice of one among various options open to them. I never, ever would have thought that choosing ‘purchased’ was to hide the dirty word ‘creation’.

    I would have thought that the metaphor ‘purchased’ was instead closely related to the idea of ‘free lunch’ in the main heading. I’m only guessing, though, because unless the ‘creator’ of the book engages in ‘special revelation’ on this issue, such theories are mere speculation.

    BTW, I like some of what else Sal Gal is saying, and I am still very interested in listening to what Steve Fuller is going to say.

  21. —-”It appears to me that Steve Fuller is attempting to help honest people elaborate an empirical science in which they proclaim, rather than hide under a bushel, their belief in God.”

    Please provide evidence that any leader or any serious ID exponent has hidden his or her belief in God. We have covered this ground before. Dembski has publically make his declaration, so has Behe and Meyer. Jerry just acknolwedged his belief that the designer is the Christian God and I acknoledge the same. Those in the ID movement who do not agree with us are also on record. Where is the stealth Christian that disavowed his faith in the name of science?

    Contrary to the Darwinist fantasy, ID terminiology did not originate as a stealth attempt to cover for creationist beliefs. Go to the sidebar and read about the difference between creation science and intelligent design. They have both been around for over two thousand years.

  22. Sal Gal

    I for one don’t want a “Science of God” in public schools. The very phrase itself is self-contradictory.

    Science is about what can be examined either physically or mathematically. Anything else, while it may very well be an interesting and worthwhile area of study simply isn’t science.

    ID is science. God is religion.

    Got it? Write that down!

  23. Forensic science is used when we need to determine the cause of death not who caused it. When the body exhibits incontrovertible evidence that it died of unnatural causes, a murder is inferred. Do the police and the courts turn to the forensic scientist and require that he declare who the murderer was? And, if he can’t then require he declare it an accident?

    Let us leave the theology to the theologians

  24. 24

    Upright Biped, had I been invited into a forum in which the audience consisted mostly of ‘theistic evolutionists’, then I would not have bothered because they hold exactly your position — i.e. there may be an intelligent designer, but it is not possible to discuss such a person in scientific terms.

    That is not my position and I never stated it as such. I do not say that there MAY be a designer, there IS a designer. What I say is that ID cannot give the identity of the designer as a God, or any particular God, if any God at all. That is a self imposed limit on the program that is fundamentally appropriate to the evidence; one that the current establishment is careless (to be kind) in enforcing upon themselves. I have no desire to remove one orthodoxy and have it replaced with another.

    IOW, if God has decided to allow you to believe in him or not, then far be it for me to usurp his decision and become the enforcer.

    As for being theistic evolutionist, I hardly think so. My comments, in general, have to do with the strategy of the debate. There are rules to opposing force; you ignore them when you decide to aggravate the debate with issues that you cannot defend. Take for instance, your last comment:

    Painting is all about struggling against a resistant medium, such that the ‘skill’ of painting has to do with getting the paints and canvas to do things that they would otherwise not do. And I agree that, if there is a God, this is probably how s/he operates – that is, there is always a struggle and the result may be never quite good enough, which is perhaps why a change of thought and/or being is always on the horizon.

    What part of the physical evidence leads you to think anything you state here? Do you have any idea how unpersuasive this is in a debate setting with a Darwinists who is systematically recounting the known morphological ancestry of fruit fly species from the Hawaiian Islands, or one harping over the tremendous quality of information coming out of Lenske’s laboratory, or perhaps even one stuck on the question of who designed the designer?

    Why, in your view, should ID be promoted as a positive position in its own right? I feel Judge Jones breathing down your neck.

    If I go outside and drop a ball up into the sky, should I care whether my experiment is perceived as a positive view for science? Or, should I simply regard the experiment as a direct falsification of the current understanding of gravity? More precisely, (and strictly personally) I couldn’t care less that ID is seen as either a positive or negative position – the bottom line is that materialistic causes cannot produce the organized functional nucleic sequencing that animates inanimate matter into living tissue. Period.

    The falsification of a theory must be held up because it doesn’t please someone’s sensibilities? Why take that bait?

    I feel Judge Jones breathing down your neck.

    Funny. JJ would never have the chance with me; that deal was a loser from the start.

  25. 25

    Steve,

    I’m having trouble following your deep philosophical arguments, but the impression I have (though perhaps I’m not reading you carefully enough) is you are saying that ID is becoming a purely scientific enterprise and needs to be more theologically oriented. This is a trap I don’t want us to fall into, I agree with Dave Scot’s comments.

  26. jerry,

    The fact that you do not like a science does not mean that it does not exist. I do not like the idea of a science of God, but I do not deny the possibility of developing one. Furthermore, if a well-developed science of God were to exist, I would advocate its inclusion in public education.

    I say to you again, there is no inductive inference without bias. A society of scientists operates with its preferred bias. The prevailing notion among IDists that “science done right” would reveal the Truth of design is incredibly naive.

    About a hundred years ago, William James emphasized pluralism in scientific belief. Today there is no way for an honest person who is familiar with the mathematics of inductive learning to deny that different groups of scientists may adopt different biases and arrive at different sciences.

    For certain IDists bent on “renewing” Western culture, however, it is not enough for me to say that they may develop their own science and present it alongside others in the public schools. Those people believe that they have cornered the market on Truth, and their claim that they just want their views to be included is a Big Fat Lie. They want to conceal the religious bias that they bring to science, and to teach children One Way.

    Given the present body of mathematical results on inductive learning, anyone who presents scientific learning as bias-free is a liar and/or a fool. Any meta-discussion of a science should explicitly identify the bias, and should address its advantages and disadvantages.

    (I remind everyone here that I openly admit that I choose to believe in creation, and that I refuse to pretend that “logic” or “evidence” proves I am right. In my opinion, empirical science is of greater utility in prediction and control of phenomena if it denies creation. Thus my scientific bias is utilitarian, and does not jibe with my overarching world view. It is, in fact, possible to be a methodological naturalist in science without being a philosophical naturalist in day-to-day life.)

  27. To DaveScot et al.

    I realize that the phrase ‘Science of God’ is not to everyone’s liking but at least it makes clear what is stake, namely, that there is a common causal factor essential to what we call ‘design’ in human, animal and possibly even machine realms. If there is no such thing, or one feels that one can be indefinitely sceptical about such a thing, then I’m not sure that a science of intelligent design is any better founded than, say, a science of blue things. In both cases, one is going on superficial similarities. Moreover, the hostility that just about everyone here expresses towards Darwinism would remain a mystery. Please tell me what is at stake when a Darwinist says something ‘appears’ designed and you say it is ‘really’ designed? The Darwinists can detect patterns in nature just as well as you can. If you’re not willing to theorize about the underlying intelligence, then you’ve got nothing to say that the Darwinists haven’t already said and/or are happy to agree with.

  28. DaveScot,

    I have long believed that the U.S. courts have been correct in treating the Wall of Separation as two-way. But scientific bias comes from somewhere. And I believe that there neither are nor should be restrictions on the source. People who believe in God perhaps can develop a distinctive science based on that belief. I am not endorsing it.

    Historically, the bias (assumptions) of mainstream science derives from belief in the God of Abraham. Historians of ideas seemingly will argue themselves blue in the face over anything, but this point is not one of them. I first learned it in college, and it seems to me that students in public schools should learn it also.

    You probably have seen, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Well, I would offer that the unexamined bias is not worth applying.

  29. 29

    Steve,
    The hostility I feel toward Darwinism is due to the fact that it is a very stupid, simplistic explanation for the development of life, there is no direct evidence that natural selection has ever produced any major improvements in species, yet it is taught in our schools as though it had been repeatedly verified by experimentation or observation, and had been established beyond reasonable doubt. What is so mysterious about that??

    We may have many different views about what should be believed or taught as a replacement theory, and we can argue all day (and apparently will) about what the evidence tells us about the designer. But I for one would be happy if it were simply recognized in science classes that we don’t yet know anything about the origins of species (or at least of orders, classes and phyla).

  30. To Granwell Sewall,

    OK, let’s accept your view of Darwinism. You’re still only making a case for teachers saying that Darwin isn’t the final word in biology. It’s hardly a positive case for ID. The positive case has to advance an alternative explanation, and so you need to say something about the nature of the ‘intelligence’ in intelligent design. Put it this way: The objections to Dembski’s design filter don’t simply boil down to his failure to exclude chance and necessity as explanations. The objectors also don’t believe that there is this distinct realm of ‘design’ to be defined. More evidence isn’t going to resolve the matter — only a more powerful theory.

  31. 31

    …only a more powerful theory

    Steve, may I ask, in your view what gives a theory power?

  32. 32

    Steve,

    Re: making the positive case for ID.

    Before Darwin, almost everyone recognized the obvious, overwhelming, evidence for design in living things. Darwin proposed a really stupid, simplistic theory as an alternative to design; as the implausibility of Darwinism becomes more and more obvious with every new discovery in biology, its predecessor, ID, becomes stronger. You don’t need to make a positive case for ID, ID is the default, common sense, theory.

  33. Sal Gal

    Historically, the bias (assumptions) of mainstream science derives from belief in the God of Abraham.

    bullcrap – The ancient Greeks and Romans did science and largely didn’t follow the GoA. Chinese, Hindus, Japanese, have been doing science for millenia and never followed the GoA. If your entire world history is confined to the Catholic church then yeah, Copernicus, Gallileo, Da Vinci, and a whole host of those like him professed belief in the GoA but I’d bet it was so they didn’t get carried away to a Catholic dungeon, or worse, for heresy.

  34. Sal Gal said:

    “The fact that you do not like a science does not mean that it does not exist. I do not like the idea of a science of God, but I do not deny the possibility of developing one. ”

    Just as a point, I do not believe in a science of God or that a science of who designed what is of much use now. Maybe there is a possibility of developing one but it doesn’t interest me at the moment. I am interested in this discussion not because it will advance the ID position but because it is interesting from a philosophical point of view. As usual no one has answered my “evil” question which is essential to any discussion of theodicy which has been tied to this question.

    What bothers me from what you said is that something that is called science in no way fits the definition of science and that is Darwinian macro evolution (origin of novel complex capabilities.) Do you agree?

    So if one is honest, they would have to come to the same conclusion I do or else defend their belief that it is science. No one has ever done it on this site and have it stand up. If one is using inductive inference, one is citing examples and then one makes a generalization based on the examples and the lack of contrary examples. In the case of Darwinian macro evolution there is not one example to cite so how is inductive reasoning applied in such a case. So there are no examples in Darwinian macro evolution let alone replications hence one can form an inductive conclusion.

  35. uprightbiped,

    Kudos regarding #7,13.

    Dave Scott,

    “Is your position that we simply follow the evidence wherever it goes and merely hope that ID is vindicated?”

    “No shit. That’s what science is.”

    Dave I could not agree with you more. If ID cannot cut it then so be it. To bring God into it is to leave science and do exactly what the Darwinsist have done which is IMO nothing more than metaphysics disguised as science. So now Fuller wants to do the same thing, apox on his house I say.

    Jerry,

    “Just what is evil?”

    First off I would argue that evil is not a “thing”. Evil is a parasite , a lack of good, it has no ontological existence outside of good. Its like a shadow that cannot exist unless there is light. Evil in essence requires agency and moral choice.

    Sal Gal,

    “It was founded by a law professor who knows much more about rhetoric than about science.”

    Actually he knows more about logic and the ability to distinguish what is science and what is metaphysics. As Johnson stated “I am not a scientist but an academic lawyer by profession, with the specialty of analyzing the logic of an argument and indentifying the assumptions that lie behind those arguments.This background is more appropriate than one might think, because what people believe about evolution and Darwinism depemds very heavily on the kind of logic they employ and the kind of assumptions they make”

    Vivid

  36. Granville

    Exactly right. Science is about best explanations. Stevo doesn’t seem to know much about science so he wouldn’t know that bit about best explanations. If you take the current most widely accepted best explanation off the table that leaves the next best at the top of the heap.

    In fact far more people believe the universe and life was designed than believe otherwise. It’s just that higher education has been overrun by atheists, who preen themselves with the belief they’re too smart to not recognize the universe is a big accident, who believe otherwise and they pretty much dictate what gets taught in lower institutes of learning.

    So really, to not put too fine a point on it, the problem is that the inmates are running the asylum.

  37. Jerry,
    maybe now would be a good time to provide your definition of macroevolution, bc there is plenty of work done on macroevolution as defined in textbooks.

  38. Steve

    Okay. I’ll play the Science of God game.

    Let’s start out with a simple question.

    How many gods are there?

    Please support your answer with empirical evidence. I have no bloody idea how many there are. It could be zero to infinity. There is simply no empirical evidence from which to proceed to an answer.

  39. Dave,

    exactly right. Science is about best explanations. Stevo doesn’t seem to know much about science so he wouldn’t know that bit about best explanations. If you take the current most widely accepted best explanation off the table that leaves the next best at the top of the heap.

    sorry, Dave. Science doesn’t work by a process of attrition. you have to have a viable alternative with tons of evidence in favor of it, not just evidence against the current theory. think of it as a hypothesis test, in which you are testing against a null model. If your experiment fails to reject the null, you can say that your hypothesis was not supported, but you can not say that an alternative hypothesis was supported. you have to test that alternative against a null as well.

  40. Steve Fuller said:

    “Please tell me what is at stake when a Darwinist says something ‘appears’ designed and you say it is ‘really’ designed? The Darwinists can detect patterns in nature just as well as you can”

    You are missing the whole point of the basic argument and not stating it correctly. We do not say it is really designed. We say that it is possible that it was designed and that design should be considered as a possible alternative. The Darwinist makes an absolute statement and says that it is not designed even though it looks designed. And they have no basis for making that statement. Design is a definite possibility with ID but the Darwinist begs the question and says it is not design because it cannot be designed. The logical fallacy lies with them, not us. They have no basis for making that claim, certainly not empirical information and certainly not logic.

    If the Darwinist presented empirical evidence that what we both agree appears as designed, came about through naturalistic processes then we would take our tents down and break up camp. It would be over. What appears as designed came about through non intelligent processes. But such information does not exist for one let alone the plethora of instances of design appearances.

  41. #23:

    Forensic science is used when we need to determine the cause of death not who caused it.

    That is just utter nonsense. The very same evidence supporting a conclusion as to cause of death is frequently used to convict a particular individual.

    When the body exhibits incontrovertible evidence that it died of unnatural causes, a murder is inferred. Do the police and the courts turn to the forensic scientist and require that he declare who the murderer was? And, if he can’t then require he declare it an accident?

    And when the DNA lab comes to take the defendant’s spit, do you say “you’re going beyond the limits of science?”

    Let us leave the theology to the theologians

    Why don’t we leave the criminal trials to theologians also?

  42. 42

    I’m curious where the UD regulars stand with regard to archeology. Is it science? In that field, of course, researchers seek out objects that were obviously designed by humans, and then go an extra step, attempting to understand the motivations behind these creations.

    Perhaps the ID response is simply “no”.

    Or, perhaps, the response is that “archeology infers purpose, but ID doesn’t, and that’s that”.

  43. Steve Fuller:

    How does the deity optimise, given what it’s trying to achieve (i.e. ideas) and what it’s got to work with (i.e. matter)?

    If ID was to tackle this question it would be a remarkable broadening of its research program because the task would not only be to detect design but also to detect goals in design.

    When we look at human designs, in many cases, we can easily infer at least some goals from looking at what the design does. But goals can also be hierarchal. If we see an outboard motor we can infer that one goal was to provide propulsion in water. There may, however, be other goals. Why provide propulsion? Obviously it facilitates getting from one place to another more quickly. There could be economic goals for this, productivity goals (i.e. for fishing) or just for entertainment. The flagellum provides propulsion to a cell as well. Is its only goal to enhance survival or is it part of a larger ecological scheme as well? This brings in the broader question of the goals of the designer. Are all designs, as Dawkins would say, for selfish reasons or might there be an embedded teleology as well?

    If ID can detect features that seem likely to have been designed, I see no reason (although it may be very difficult) to not also try to detect the telic purpose(s) of the design. This is where ID could distinguish itself from non-teleological approaches, because if a hypothesis concerning goals could be formulated and validated through testing, it would further understanding of how evolution occurred and why. ID might even be able to make the predictions that critics so adamantly demand.

    Certainly this would be no easy task, but if the question of teleology was asked every time a design feature was detected, why not go for it? If there is a mind directedness to evolution, then there is also a goal directedness that might be detectable if looked for. Now as Steve pointed out there may be objections to the thought that we could “get into the mind of God” through science, but that very inclination has borne a great deal of fruit from the likes of Newton, Einstein, and others who felt this was not only possible but very inviting and stimulating.

    If humans were created in the image and likeness of God then our understanding of human activities might also be brought to bear on the inherent goals embedded in evolution. This could also mean that ID would need to embrace theology as a partner as well as other scientific disciplines such as psychology, sociology, ecology, etc.

  44. —–pubdef: “And when the DNA lab comes to take the defendant’s spit, do you say “you’re going beyond the limits of science?”

    Science is the genus; ID is the species. You are confusing the two. No design inference is involved when someone’s identity is established by DNA evidence, any more than it is when someone’s identity is established by eyewitness testimony, any more than it is when someone’s identity is established by fingerprints. None of these things can be accomplished through a design inference. So, the scenario you present would not go beyond the limits of science, but it would go beyond the limits of a design inference.

    Inference about intelligent design vs. accident is similar to an inference about criminal intent vs. accident. Through the PROCESS of design inference, a crime can be detected, but a criminal’s identity cannot; through the PROCESS of design inference, an intelligent agent can be detected, but the agent’s identity cannot. Please make a note of that, since this same error keeps getting recycled.

  45. Hi Steve

    You wrote;
    “But you give away the game when you compare God with a painter, which I happen to think is quite apposite but tells against your general position. Painting is all about struggling against a resistant medium, such that the ‘skill’ of painting has to do with getting the paints and canvas to do things that they would otherwise not do….”

    Methinks thou dost misconstrue the intent of my analogy. Perhaps I was unclear. The illustration was the volitional act of “making” for the sheer joy of making, which we may observe in the painter or writer. The matter with which the maker works was dealt with in the prior sentence

    “In Christian theology God precedes and creates matter according to his plan (design?) and so is not constrained in His capacity to create by any inherent limitations of matter.”

    Since the entire material world is made ex nihilo for His creative purpose there no “resistant medium.” This is the “neo” in Christian neo-Platonism.

    BTW – I have a particular antipathy to the politically correct habit of using multiple pronouns he/she/it, I find it verbally awkward and fear it may be miscontrued as something scatological.

  46. Jerry,

    What bothers me from what you said is that something that is called science in no way fits the definition of science and that is Darwinian macro evolution (origin of novel complex capabilities.) Do you agree?

    Are you saying that biologists are not self-consistent? Prior to Darwin, naturalism had taken hold throughout science, with the exception of explanation of life. Darwin showed how to do away with the “exclusion clause” for living things. He made naturalistic science more consistent, not less.

    You IDists need a consistent science that permits explanation in terms of non-material causes. Trying to reintroduce exclusion clauses is intellectually shabby. If Darwinism should be in utter disrepute ten years from now, that would not reestablish design in mainstream science. The reason is that design has not belonged there since the late 18th Century, when naturalism entered science.

    There is no ideal of science that some of us apprehend better than others. Science is a human invention, and is subject to reinvention. Design may make more sense to you than Darwinism, but it makes absolutely no sense in a naturalistic (materialistic) science. The worst naturalistic explanation is more coherent in the existing scientific framework than is any appeal to creation of information (i.e., intelligent design).

    If you want intelligent design as part of a coherent scientific belief system, you must reformulate science. And the masses perhaps will find your system of explanation preferable to the science we have now.

  47. DaveScot,

    You evidently missed the modifier in “mainstream science.”

    The “first scientist” was Ibn al-Haytham, a Muslim who was born in Basra. He’s regarded the pioneer of the scientific method. Prior to him, people observed nature methodically, but no one methodically posed questions and put them to experimental test.

    Science was lost in Muslim culture, and emerged independently in Christian culture. A huge amount has been written on the basic assumptions of modern science and their religious origin. I’ve seen atheists acknowledge the religious roots of science — even Dawkins, I think. If it doesn’t bother them, why should it you?

    The fact is that you have to believe something before you can form an explanation of what you observe. Empirical observations do not compel particular explanations.

  48. Vivid,

    Analyzing the logic of an argument is within the province of rhetoric. Johnson indeed functioned as a rhetorician, analyzing logic and offering counterarguments meant to persuade. He was also highly aware, I think, of how arguments would wash in federal court.

    You quote Johnson as saying that “what people believe about evolution and Darwinism depends very heavily on the kind of logic they employ and the kind of assumptions they make.” I have commented repeatedly that explanations depend on assumptions. But where Johnson will tell you that the assumptions behind Darwinism are bad, I will tell you that they are a reasonable choice.

    Methodological naturalism amounts to blinders one may choose to put on the workhorse of science. If you want your horse to see something else, choose a different bias. But you’re not going to gain some sort of explanatory advantage without giving up some other.

  49. 49
    William J. Murray

    Fuller asks: “Please tell me what is at stake when a Darwinist says something ‘appears’ designed and you say it is ‘really’ designed?”

    What is at stake is how (from what fundamental assumptions) one proceeds to design hypothosis, theory, experiments, and interpretatiosn of evidence. From the fundamental perpsective of design/non-design, the rest of the house is planned, designed, and built; from the assumption of non-design, a freakish, cobbled-together frankenstein of a theory that can’t predict or produce anything has been established as a fact and is taught in the school not only as science, but as the fundamental overriding philosophical “truth” of our society. Even to the point where eugenics and evolutionary psychology are, or have been, considered “science”.

    THAT is the difference between the two perspectives; you end up with an entirely different society.

  50. 50
    William J. Murray

    It astounds me that this train wreck is still going on; it astounds me that Fuller can’t see what difference it makes – what sweeping, fundamental, society-changing difference it makes – if there is actual design, or only happenstance appearance of design, regardless of whether or not anyone can “detect” the motives or purpose of any putative creative source.

  51. Sal Gal said:

    “Design may make more sense to you than Darwinism, but it makes absolutely no sense in a naturalistic (materialistic) science. The worst naturalistic explanation is more coherent in the existing scientific framework than is any appeal to creation of information (i.e., intelligent design).”

    You are begging the question. Intelligent Design is not valid because it is not valid. You hold up naturalistic materialistic science as the entirety of explanation and then dismiss ID because it is not part of this domain. What logic! The shallowness of your argument is the best support ID has.

    Like any other who comes here and dismisses ID you fail to provide an alternative. There is no alternative as of this moment whether in your limited domain of naturalistic explanations or otherwise. So you dismiss ID but provide no alternative.

    I haven’t a clue what you mean by “exclusion clause” and have read extensively in the history of sciennce. But Darwin did no such thing as to make naturalistic science more consistent. Darwin speculated, that is all he did. He provided no evidence in the OOS for macro evolution. What Darwin saw on the Beagle and anywhere else was micro evolution. He did nothing to explain the origin of novel complex capabilities. He invoked a magic wand process that is still used today, called deep time, which is equivalent to a God of the Gaps argument. Whenever one is stuck, invoke deep time and modern day biologist have added scaffolding, co-option, emergence as sister concepts. All of which have no empirical basis but are part of the magic potions used only in this branch of so called science.

    Sal Gal, you are following the same path as all Darwinists who come here. One that is not paved with reason or facts but with one’s imagination. When forced to provide specifics they always punt or attack ID. And you criticize the ID people. We are still waiting for Godot or the one who can defend Darwinian evolution. Your strategy is to throw ID back into our faces as if that is the answer. By doing so you are admitting you have nothing and that our possibility is even more likely.

    If you read the above, I said to Fuller that he has the argument wrong. ID is not about certainty but about possibility. Darwinian macro evolution is about what is impossible. They have not shown how to overcome the impossibility. Hence the use of magic concepts. And you claim this is naturalistic science. Whoa!!

  52. Much as I hate to admit it, I would describe this post by Steve as leading with your jaw. It’s better to know intellectual history intimately before attempting something this delicate and difficult. Looks like William J. was right all along.

  53. Sal Gal,

    Here is a suggestion for you or any other anti ID people. ID was just debated at Opposing Views.

    http://www.opposingviews.com/q.....have-merit

    See thread by DaveScot above this one. And the best and the brightest of the anti ID people presented their case against ID in both the comments in the ID section and in their opposing views. They made especially long comments under the ID arguments so don’t miss these.

    Why don’t you go there and load up with their arguments and come back here and see if you can make a dent in the ID argument. As I said in the comment above, you will be the first to expose the vapidness of ID.

  54. If ID was to tackle this question it would be a remarkable broadening of its research program because the task would not only be to detect design but also to detect goals in design.

    In general I do not see a problem with a “goal detection” program as long as it’s understood within its scope. I do not think this should be conflated directly with core ID theory or ID-compatible hypotheses centered around potential mechanisms. I’d also liken this “goal detection” program to evolutionary psychology because quite frankly any claims it will make will be highly speculative.

  55. W.J.M

    You are right to assert the wrongness of teaching that the modern evolutionary synthesis should be taught as some kind of philosophical truth in society. The general ‘idea’ of evolution can be very easily and wrongly applied to almost anything. Don’t forget though that Darwin didn’t invent the term Evolution he just adopted it to describe his theory. When astronomers talk about the ‘evolution’ of the solar system they are using it to mean gradual change over time, not a Darwinian process in action.

    On your assertion that the MES can’t predict or produce anything I would have to disagree. I think the fact that it is so well established as a scientific theory is due to its predictive power but I’m not a biologist so I’ll leave examples for someone else to post if the moderators will permit them. As far as producing things, I work in computer science and the use of Genetic Algorithms has produced some interesting and useful things. I know that GA’s are not biological evolution, but they are based on (have been produced by) the theory, and are useful search algorithms for some tasks.

    As for Eugenics, it actually pre dates Darwin, and isn’t Darwinian. Eugenics involves artificial selection of people for breeding based on human developed ideas about their desirability or purity. It is the application of the artificial selective breeding that has been done with farm animals and crops for generations to the human population. The Darwinian process is about selection that occurs without human (or other) intervention – so called Natural Selection.

    Believing that we are intelligently designed can still lead to bad places – You can easily develop ideologies where people you don’t like are broken ‘designs’ in need of fixing. Just knowing that you were designed doesn’t automatically mean you have a purpose, or that your purpose is a good one.

  56. How does the science of God differ from the oldest questions of all “What is the meaning of life?” or “Why am I here?”

    And has anybody thought about these two questions before. If so, then maybe we should read what they have to say and what they have discovered.

    I actually think some of this is interesting but not from a science or ID point of view. I ordered Nadler’s book and when I get home, look forward to reading it. What is the best of all possible worlds? Fun question but does it really tie into ID as science in any direct way.

  57. 57

    Upright Biped @14 said:

    ID leads the evidence. Functional nucleic sequencing cannot happen by chance or necessity.

    While I’m sympathetic to the ID cause, I wish its proponents would stop characterizing the improbable as impossible. If probability is >0, it’s not impossible. If you believe otherwise, please show your work.

  58. “Knowledge is knowing that we cannot know.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    “We don’t know enough about the unknown to know that it is unknowable.” — G. K. Chesterton as quoted by our own William A. Dembski.

    I say it’s laziness and a lack of curiosity to define a priori what’s unknowable. But it makes good sense to begin with the easy stuff, which is to point out the absurdity of Materialism and its Prophet and the logic and beauty of Design.

    It was the wisdom of Phillip Johnson to avoid being drug into religious squabbles, though I remember him remarking that after this materialism thing is settled then everything will be on the table. I, for one, am not a demarcationist. Empirical science and philosophy are at different ends of a continuum on which there is no discrete divide. Also silly is the never-ending battle over what is and is not “science”.

    The fact that we do not want ID swallowed up in the endless swirl of debates that philosophers do not want solved doesn’t mean that those debates are not solvable. But ID’s job is to liberate our best minds from the fog of materialism, then there will be more of them to tackle the tougher problems.

    So I agree that we not embroil ID in the issues that divide us. Let us agree to disagree on the other stuff and unite behind the effort to slay the one dragon we can slay. It behooves us all, for if Darwin was right then none of the rest matters.

  59. I’m not really sure what Steve Fuller is getting at, partly, perhaps, because I don’t have time to carefully read and digest all that’s written above. If his assertion is simple I wish he’d make it so.

    Anyway ID does not claim that the material content of living things could not be designed and manufactured by beings such as ourselves (but with a more advanced technology). That is not to say, however, that our manufactured life would be alive, for that depends on whether the vitalists are right. Also ID does not claim that the agency of design is itself a mechanism—our own folks, such as Angus Menuge and Denise O’Leary & Mario Beauregard, have argued otherwise.

  60. Earvin Johnson,

    It’s also improbable that a real tooth fairy will materialize in the right weather conditions and put some money under my pillow—but for practical purposes we generally say it’s “impossible”.

  61. 61

    Rude,

    Are you saying that you’ve computed the odds for or against the appearance or existence of a Tooth Fairy? Unless I’m mistaken, Dr. Dembski and others have made the effort to express the improbability of Darwinistic organization in numbers, and have concluded, based on those numbers, that the probability is very low, and “very low” does not equal “impossible.”

  62. 62

    Earvin at 56,

    My claim was not made on the basis of probabilities, but on the qualitative realities of the mechanisms of chance and necessity.

    A mechanism of chance would create results at the individual nucleic sequencing level that are completely independent of any other results in the sequencing. This is diametrically opposed to the type of mechanism that would create the functional organization or coordination observed within the genome.

    A mechanism of physical necessity would inevitably create physical order, where the results would become aperiodic. This also is completely opposite of what is found in nucleic sequencing.

    The only known mechanism that can create patterns of sequencing that are not contingent on physical demands, are organized and coordinated to function, is volitional agency.

    Of course, it can be said that with infinite time, or limitless universes, anything can come about by chance and necessity – which is exactly the argument materialists are forced into. So be it.

  63. —–“Please tell me what is at stake when a Darwinist says something ‘appears’ designed and you say it is ‘really’ designed?”

    The distinction between real design and “apparent design” matters only if you care about the difference between the “natural moral law” and the principle of “might makes right”—or the difference between “natural rights” and state sanctioned rights–or the difference a well-ordered society and barbarism.

    Of course, social constructivism (your paradigm?) holds that there is no such thing as a natural right or a natural moral law. According to this formulation, we do not “discover” truth, we “create” it through social or symbolic interaction. Since all truth is relative to the time, place, and to the group that is “constructing” it, there can be no universal standard of morality and justice to arbitrate among the disparte truths that are being constructed. As a result, we are left with a “war of all against all.”

    In a broader sense, I don’t understand how anyone can believe in social constructivism and intelligent design at the same time. Once sociology is elevated to the level of a metaphysic, there seems to be no way to reconcile it with a designed universe. So, that raises the obvious question: Do you believe that the universe (world, life) was designed?

  64. Hi Earven

    #56 While I’m sympathetic to the ID cause, I wish its proponents would stop characterizing the improbable as impossible. If probability is >0, it’s not impossible.

    I may be mistaken here, not being a mathematition and being nearly ignorant of probability theory, but it seems to me that, according to probability theory, nothing is impossible. Everything is assigned a greater or lesser degree of probability and no thing attains a probability of 1 or 0. I have read more than a few arguments, on both sides of the debate, that appeal to “probability” as proof that their idea cannot be dismissed out of hand because it is not “impossible.”

    In fact, Dembski, in one of his essays, attempts to set a limit to probability i.e. if it falls below a certain threshold it is so improbable that it may be reasonably considered impossible. Still, I am, for whatever reason, uncomfortable with assertions that any given phenomena is “impossible” and tend to prefer such statements as “so improbable as to be practically impossible.”

    On the other hand, I recently read half of the book “Evidence and Evolution: The Logic Behind the Science” in the hope that it might offer a strong argument in favor of evolution. I stopped reading when, after spending an inordinate amount of ink on the obscurities of probability theory, the author “proved” that information can arise spontaneously with the “infinite monkeys typing” argument, therefore, evolution is true because it is “possible” that enough monkeys typing for a long enough period of time could produce the corpus of Shakespearean drama.

    Having also read several effective refutations of the “infinite monkeys typing” theory and knowing now that while it appears reasonable of a superficial level, upon examination it soon becomes apparent that the “probablity” of even one sensible paragraph being produced is so vanishingly small that we could safely say it is “nearly impossible.”

    Typing Monkeys Fail to Produce Works of Shakespearehttp://www.wtop.com/?nid=502&sid=605470

    A sad day for probability theory.

  65. 65

    Upright Biped said @61:

    A mechanism of chance would create results at the individual nucleic sequencing level that are completely independent of any other results in the sequencing.

    This line of reasoning seems to assume facts not in evidence–why shoul we assume that “a mechanism of chance” would create results independent of one another? In other words, Darwinians allege that these things are arrived at in stepwise fashion, which contradicts your contention that “results” in those cases must be independent of one another.

  66. 66

    dgosse, the idea of “so improbable as to be practically impossible” makes no sense, I’m afraid. Think of it this way, using small numbers: suppose I have ten small objects, nine of them blue and one red. If you make a random selection of one object, what is the likelihood that you will pick the red one on the first attempt? The obvious answer is 1 in 10. Now, after pulling a blue one on the first attempt and putting it back with the rest, what’s the likelihood of selecting the red one on the second (or fifth, or tenth) opportunity? Always 1 in 10.

    So long as the door of probability is open–even if it’s just open a tiny crack–the phenomenon is no less (or more) likely occur on the first opportunity than on the millionth. The fact that the odds are 1 in [some huge number]doesn’t mitigate against the phenomenon happening on the first opportunity.

  67. 67

    Earvin,

    How does a “stepwise fashion” improve upon the lack of coordination, if coordination is essential to function?

  68. 68

    Upright,

    The question was, why do you assume a lack of coordination, given the idea that the steps in the alleged stepwise fashion are contingent upon coordination? Maybe I’m not understanding what you mean by “coordination.”

  69. Earvin Johnson,

    What you say is true if the universe was eternal or in other words the sample opportunities were infinite. But they are not. So there is a physical limit on the number of times one can sample the urn for your objects.

    When the probability of sampling the red object is substantially higher than the number of sampling opportunities then the selection of the red object gets almost impossible. The problem with life and Darwinian processes is that they require thousands if not millions of these low probability events to get to life and evolution according to Darwin’s processes. And the probability of each must be multiplied for all the required steps.

    Now the way the Darwinists get around this is to say that there is an incredibly large set of states that would fit the definition of life and the events in the past just happened to stumble upon our state or life process when a different roll of the dice might have led to one of the incredibly large other states or maybe to nothing. But it led to the one we live with so like the infinite number of universes we are witnessing the lucky object pulled out of the urn. So they hypothesize intermediary states along the way to our one of the incredibly large number of viable states. The problem is that they can not produce one of these other states so are they incredibly large or is ours really the only viable one. If ours is the only one then the materialists have to describe what magical process led to the incredibly low series of low probabilistic events.

    They then repeat that with evolution and say that once given the life state luckily chosen, each of the organisms that have lived on earth are just one of the infinite number of possibilities as chance and environment create the new species. A different set of chance events and environments would have produced a completely different suite of life forms because the possibilities are literally infinite. Such as what we see in the Star Wars bar scene. However, this falls apart because they can not demonstrate how just one of these infinite possibilities came to be and since each new life form requires thousands of viable predecessors none of which exist. So the argument falls apart but the crux of the argument is essentially one of probabilities that are incredibly small. That does not stop the Darwinists from invoking magic though.

  70. Hi Earvin

    the idea of “so improbable as to be practically impossible” makes no sense
    [...]
    So long as the door of probability is open–even if it’s just open a tiny crack–the phenomenon is no less (or more) likely occur on the first opportunity than on the millionth.

    Yes, this is the argument, and a superficially plausible argument, a 1 in ten, 1 in one hundred, even, conceivably, a one in a trillion chance could always hapeen in the first instance. But we are talking about a chain of 1 in a trillion+ chances. Here is an example using just the 26 letters of the alphabet with no distinction between capital and lower case letters, no punctuation, and no spaces.

    To spell the word “evolution,” obtaining the nine letters in order, each having a 1/26 probability, you have a probability of 1 in 5,429,503,678,976. This, as you will realize, comes from multiplying 26 by itself, using the figure 9 times. If every five seconds day and night a person drew out one letter, he could expect to succeed in spelling the word “evolution” about once in 800,000 years!http://www.creationsafaris.com/epoi_c02.htm

    This is to form on simple-nine letter word using a twenty-six letter alphabet. Consider then the chain of miracles that will bring together the right elements in the right order at the right time to form the simplest amino acid. Then consider the chirality factor, the “chance” formation of protiens, cells, and the cellular infrastructure necessary for ingestion, excretion, repair, and reproduction, not to mention the “language” of DNA, and the capacity to “read” the instructions.

    When we start to factor in these layers of probability even the “could have happened the first time as easily as the last time” becomes an increasingly less probable scenario. Add to that the “probability” that the failure of one step to occur at the necessary time and place, particularly in the early stages, would “probably” rupture the entire chain irreparably, necessitating the repetition of the entire set of steps. Not only each step must happen, but a chain of steps must happen, and the chain introduces another level of probabilty.

    In the above example, spelling one nine-letter word, we can see that the “probability” of producing a sentence, with nouns and verbs and punctuation becomes exponentially less “probable,” and a simple sentence if far less complex than an amino acid or a protein, let alone a “simple” cell.

  71. Laminar,

    Genetic Algorithms, or any other useful thing, doesn’t mean that what inspired it was useful or true. I’m sure useful things came from alchemy. Eugenics was a term coined by Francis Galton, Darwin’s cousin. The term is Darwinian. The practice of artificial selection with animals predates Darwin, but he and his cousin gave it applicability to humans. And the Darwinian process was not only about natural selection, most of his examples that convinced him of evolution came from his pigeons and other animals and plants that were artificially selected. To Darwin, the differences were that artificial selection could evolve an animal or plant quicker through trained breeders and trained selection of features, something not seen in the slow natural selection in the wild, but nevertheless a proof of evolution in Darwin’s mind.

    Knowing that you were designed gets much closer to assuming that you have a purpose than being the product of random happenstance chance mechanisms. That throws all purpose away.

  72. Laminar said

    “On your assertion that the MES can’t predict or produce anything I would have to disagree. I think the fact that it is so well established as a scientific theory is due to its predictive power but I’m not a biologist so I’ll leave examples for someone else to post if the moderators will permit them. ”

    This statement is based on authority so you should be aware that none of the experts has ever demonstrated anything that would obviate ID. What would give ID a difficult time are examples of things arising naturally and so far this hasn’t happened. All their examples are speculation or just so stories that their imagination provides. They are not empirical examples.

    Darwin had two theories and one is less controversial than the other. For the want of a better name, we will call one micro evolution and one macro evolution. Micro evolution is essentially modern genetics with some added twists and some expanded ideas. It is relatively uncontroversial though that does not make some in evolutionary biology from claiming extraordinary things for micro evolution that are beyond the time available for it to produce.

    The second theory is macro evolution and this is what Darwin really wanted to show but neither he nor anyone since have been able to demonstrate that it ever happened. This is the area of conflict even though nearly all your experts will use micro evolution to justify Darwinian processes. The real issue is the origin of novel complex capabilities. In software these might be complicated sub routines of new code that may take over a thousand lines. In new species this would be the appearance of wings, neurological systems, blood pressure systems, eyes, etc which require thousands of new lines of code or maybe millions and they do not previously exist. No one has ever shown how such a complicated system can arise anew. Lots of speculation but nothing concrete. The traditional way is to show slow morphological changes but this ignores that the code underlying the new systems must be developed too and this is what is daunting because it usually must control not only several proteins but also the sequencing of the steps to control everything.

    The moderators will permit anyone in the world to comment here if they behave, that is be respectful, stay on message, etc. At this current time we have 3-4 anti ID people making comments and such people only get banned for anti social behavior. Pro ID people have been banned here when their comments seemed inappropriate. So if you do not feel competent to criticize, find someone who you think could and we would be happy to listen to what they say.

  73. 73

    Earvin: “The question was, why do you assume a lack of coordination”

    Well, I think the answer is somewhat obvious. Chance does not include (as a part of its mechanism) a function that can foresee the need to coordinate itself with any other choice that has been made along the sequence. A roll of the dice is a roll of the dice.

    Jerry and dgosse have done a much better job than I in summarizing the probabilistic aspects of chance, but if I may extend on that in one aspect:

    In the nine letter example of reaching the word “evolution” by chance, let us say that in the first roll I get an “e” in the first position. Lets us then say in the second roll I get a “v” in the second position. In my third roll I am just as likely to change the “e” in first position to an “x”. And in the roll after that I will add a tenth letter to the word. And after that I will eliminate the fifth position, ending up with two four letter words.

    If this seems like I am being too hard on chance as a mechanism, I am not, I am describing it in its fullest potential – it cannot coordinate any given result with any other given result.

  74. If people don’t wish to take the time to read what I have posted, there’s not much that I can do about it, of course. But the bulk of these comments are simply rehashing old arguments about design detection without dealing squarely with the issue of intelligence.

    Too many of you are wedded to this ‘faith-based empiricism’ I earlier decried, where you somehow think that the evidence speaks for itself. But you don’t have a science unless you have a theory that can do at least two things: (a) say what the evidence is evidence for; (b) test that interpretation against new evidence, preferably vis-à-vis a competing theory.

    The closest to a theory many here seem to want is to say that there’s a reasonable chance that chance and necessity can’t explain nature’s design. OK, that’s nice but probably not as strongly contested as some of you think. And it’s still proto-science until you’ve got a theory – presumably some theory of intelligence — that attempts to explain the design.

    Finally, StephenB (@63), it should be perfectly obvious why a social constructivist might be attracted to intelligent design. It goes back to the nature of intelligence, which historically starts with theism, moves through deism and idealism, and ends up with constructivism. All of these movements are about world-making, each one slightly more secular and less absolute. But all are committed to a strong sense of intelligence, agency and purpose. The metaphysical continuity is pretty transparent, but it’s not more easily seen because of the mixed political affiliations of these positions. But I can assure you, for example, that while I’m a social constructivist who happens to be a leftist, there are also plenty of conservative social constructivists (esp. in the social phenomenology tradition, e.g. Alfred Schutz, Peter Berger, etc.).

    But the main point I would stress here is that if (or when!) ID defeats the Darwinists on scientific grounds, nothing will have been resolved on the moral and political front. After all, not all Darwinists are leftists, are they?

  75. I’m a traditionalist conservative who has no problem with socialized medicine or a mixed economy. I personally sympathize with the ideas of Edward Luttwak.

  76. Clive:
    “Genetic Algorithms, or any other useful thing, doesn’t mean that what inspired it was useful or true.”

    Quite corect, but going back to my point, do you agree or disagree with my objection to William J. Murrays claim about the MET having never predicted or produced anything useful?

    As for Eugenics, I was referring to the idea that human characteristics were passed down through the generations and that some of these characteristics could be controlled by regulating how select humans breed. It is certainly true that Galton first fomalised these ideas and termed it Eugenics but the underlying concepts go back beyond Plato and can bee seen throuought history in ideas like the divine right of kings and inherited nobility.

    In many ways Darwins theory just formalised a lot of things that were already known about selective breeding but the important bit as far as the modern scientific theory goes was his realisation that selection might occur naturally – which is why his thesis contains the words ‘Evolution by Natural Selection’. He also mentions how selective breeding could be applied to humans and how abhorrant he thought that would be.

    I do find the whole idea of critisizing a scientific theory because of how it may have been misunderstood and abused interesting. If, just to pick an arbirtary and slightly silly example, a group of people felt so inspired by Newtons ideas on gravity that they sought to dispose of a minority group by tossing them off high cliffs, should we therefore argue that Newtons equations should be abandoned and replaced with some new, and different ones? (BTW, I’m not implying any parity between the MET and Newtonian physics)

  77. Clive:

    “This statement is based on authority ..”

    Were you referring to my statement about me not being an expert?

    “The moderators will permit anyone in the world to comment here if they behave”

    I can understand the need to boot people off for misbehaving but currently it appears that UD moderators prefer to apply censorship in anticipation of a transgression. My posts to UD have to get moderator approval, I have never been rude or abusive, it all happened because I backed up someone elses request for clarification of the definition of a word in the context it was being used – something I would do (and have done) to a Darwinist in the same circumstances. This behavior from UD moderators just gives the impression that they are more interested in controlling information and loading the debate than actually engaging with their critics.

    “So if you do not feel competent to criticize”

    As I said, I am not a Biologist, I’m a computer scientist. I regard myself as competent to critisize in the areas where I have expertise and not in the areas I don’t. This doesn’t mean I won’t debate on issues that I don’t have a higher degree in, I just won’t claim any expertise.

  78. Steve Fuller,

    I am at a lost because how can we here expect to understand all the nuances of the discussion you propose. You may be trying to chisel a sculpture and all we have here are hammers. We are woefully ill prepared and with little skills.

    Our over all purpose of pursuing ID is to banish the materialist way of thinking. It explains part of our universe but like Darwin the materialist have extrapolated their narrow view to encompass all. If they were vanquished then the discussion you propose would make more sense. We would be back at the impasse you said that Nadler lays out in his book and ID would be a distant memory as we try to solve bigger problems.

    Unless you think somehow in order to vanquish the materialists we have to solve the impasse of theodicy first or God’s purpose as revealed in his design. I am not sure where you think the discussion should go. Our instincts here says to trivialize the science of the materialists and then go from there once their scientific ideas are in the dust bin. But are you saying that we should pursue this ultimate goal first?

    Let me try to summarize because I am confused. Say our main goal is to correct a dangerous and poorly thought out world view. This world view is based on science. But the world view commits a fallacy and only has limited information and then extrapolates wrongly from this limited information to the all encompassing world view. The world view is powerful because it explains much of what we witness in nature. We however see the fallacy and use ID to counter act their false extrapolation. At the present we are shouted down and not heard by many. Our instincts is to keep slugging it out with logic till the fallacy is exposed.

    But then you say our strategy is faulty and we should try something else which includes such things as theodicy and an attempt to get at what is behind the design in nature. What am I/we missing here? What are we really trying to do?

    It is a little disconcerting since our image of you is that you are a materialist and not a believer in God or ID and that this is all an experiment in mental gymnastics. You are a sociologist and this might just be an experiment for you but for us it is real. As an example, I was once on a cruise that visited many old religious sites in the Mediterranean and there was a professor of religion on the cruise giving background on some of the sites we were visiting. I asked her how many of the academics in the religious departments in universities actually were religious and believed in God. She said not many and that they looked upon their field as many academics do with a curiosity and viewed their work no more than an intellectual activity. So call me skeptical of what is happening here. I find it interesting but I do not know how much of it is related to establishing ID and exposing the fallacies of materialist thinking.

  79. Jerry,

    I have written two books defending ID from the hegemony of Darwinism in biology. I agreed to participate as a witness in the Dover trial, fully realizing that it would win me no friends from at least on one side, if not both. (And I was right!) This is not mental gymnastics for me. It’s serious. But that doesn’t make me a camp follower. Strange as it may sound, I am really seeking the truth here, but you can’t do that if you’re not willing to push the boundaries, and draw on hidden sources of strength, which come from philosophy and theology, as well as science.

    Like a lot of you, the more I hear Darwinists defend themselves, the more I think they’re in retreat. But they can take their time because ID is not up to that much these days. After some initial bold positive moves by the likes of Dembski and Behe – and Phillip Johnson – I sense that ID is simply waging a war of attrition against Darwinism, i.e. eroding people’s confidence in Darwinism without doing much positive in return. And it may succeed in that strategy but the result may be just a general scepticism and even relativism about science, since you don’t have enough of a theory. This is why I stress the need for developing a theory of intelligence that explains nature’s intelligent design.

    In any case, I’m not finished posting about theodicy. But theodicy was actually an attempt to articulate why we see design in nature and how it could have been produced as a divine intelligence. I’m not saying that Leibniz or Malebranche got it all figured out 300 years ago but they at least had a sense of the scope of the project and strategies for addressing it. Today’s ID could use some help in these areas.

    (Finally, I note that people here seem to like bashing ‘materialism’, where I think the old Dover term ‘naturalism’ is the fairer target for ID. In a few days I hope to review here a new book that actually launches a materialist critique against intelligent design.)

  80. 80

    …the main point I would stress here is that if (or when!) ID defeats the Darwinists on scientific grounds, nothing will have been resolved on the moral and political front

    Prof Fuller, I am a lurker on UD and rarely post anything, but have posted on your thread and have been fairly stern in my posts (less than personally flattering I am sure). This is only because I saw a threat from you regarding relaxing a specific tenant of ID: we cannot assume the origin of design. More than anything I believe this is scientifically appropriate based on the material evidence. I also freely admit that I hope it to be a socio-political check valve against power. In other words, it would be refreshing (personal opinion here) to limit any one group from claiming ownership to whatever degree that is possible. It is what it is; knowledge to be held by anyone who recognizes it as such. Will abuse be attempted gain? Sure.

    Regarding the quote of yours I posted above:

    1) What makes you so certain? If nothing will have changed, then nothing can explain the resistance exhibited (it certainly isn’t about the science).

    2) If the institution of science has been deliberately mis-used to support a dogmatic worldview for decades on end, why should anyone in ID seek to replace that dogma by yet another dogmatic worldview? If ID proponents are truthful when they say materialism is a religion of its own (and I believe it is) then why would a Western view (hopefully matured by what has been learned over the past four or five hundred years in culture, politics, and religion) not indicate that freedom from dogma is altogether better than institutionalized dogma, even your own?

    3) Why on Earth are you concerned about guiding a resolution on the “moral and political front”? Since the ultimate meaning of Design will likely always be beyond our understanding based on its physical properties, then would it not be better to allow that interpretation to be held by the Individual, and not the institution? Should we react to an institutionalized misuse of our trust by trusting nothing of ourselves?

    4) Why not simply replace what was taken, and leave it at that?

  81. jerry,

    Racehorses are off and running, and your old warhorses snort fiercely in the gate.

    You are trying to make me into an adversary of ID when I have in fact said repeatedly that formulation of a science in which ID has a place is feasible.

    I am opposed to all efforts to make our present science into an ideological smorgasbord. Glopping non-materialistic explanations onto the materialistic superstructure of mainstream science is intellectually bogus.

    Feel free — you are in America, aren’t you? — to develop a new science. I have stated in all sincerity that different sciences may serve different values. I prefer for science to explain material events strictly in terms of antecedent material events, inasmuch as I believe that serves the ends of prediction and control of the material world. You and the masses may see more value in a science that places non-material intelligence in a distinguished position. I cannot say that you would be categorically wrong in developing such a science, but I will say that your science would not serve prediction and control as materialistic science does.

    Personally, I believe that religion, philosophy, and the arts serve humanity better than any empirical science could, and that is a big part of why I choose to keep science a workhorse in blinders. In my day-to-day life, I do not wear blinders, and what I see around me is people reduced to sad little cogs in a technocratic machine. No “renewal” of science will cure this insidious malady. We have wonderful spiritual guides, philosophers, artists, musicians, and writers gaining little access to masses of people addicted to consumer electronics and pop entertainment. The overvaluation of science and the undervaluation of the humanities in public education concerns me much more than the specific philosophy of science.

    Putting the process of science in its place as social belief formation, and not a Divine Road to Truth, is of vital importance. It is possible for a social group to make its Truth an assumption in its science, but there is no way to obtain Truth by way of empirical science. A science cannot prove the truth of its initial assumptions.

    I get the feeling that you do not want coexisting sciences serving different values, but that you seek cultural domination with a science that jibes with what you hold to be True. In any free society, people will set out with different initial beliefs, and will develop incommensurable belief systems. I do not think it is necessary for public education to homogenize the citizenry. If you and others can develop a non-materialistic science that amounts to something more than a pundit claiming to have spurred my workhorse to a victory at the Derby, then I will support giving parents the choice to have their children taught non-materialistic science in the public schools.

  82. Steve, you have done a heroic job in defending your thesis against what must appear to be a concerted effort to chip away at your formulations. I am glad that you are not too thin skinned to enter into this dialogue and challenge our assumptions. Everyone’s assumptions should be challenged, even ours. Heaven forbid that we should come to take ourselves as seriously as the Darwinists do. So, I welcome you and I hope that you will not sour on us just because some of us, perhaps most of us, see things differently.

    Perhaps, with further dialogue, we will surprise ourselves and come to a meeting of the minds. For all I know, ID technology may someday go beyond the design inference and advance to a level that reflects a deeper understanding of the designer and his attributes. Indeed, some scientists have already concluded that, by simply observing God’s handiwork, we can infer not only his intelligence but also his wisdom. We have hints of that already. The Catholic Church, during its canonization process, calls on medical science to help determine whether seemingly miraculous healings attributed to the intervention of a saint are really miraculous. Still, I can’t imagine how ID could ever detect the designer’s identity unless the designer makes another guest appearance. His last visit did not go so well.

    Meanwhile, you wrote:

    …”it should be perfectly obvious why a social constructivist might be attracted to intelligent design. It goes back to the nature of intelligence, which historically starts with theism, moves through deism and idealism, and ends up with constructivism. All of these movements are about world-making, each one slightly more secular and less absolute. But all are committed to a strong sense of intelligence, agency and purpose. The metaphysical continuity is pretty transparent, but it’s not more easily seen because of the mixed political affiliations of these positions. But I can assure you, for example, that while I’m a social constructivist who happens to be a leftist, there are also plenty of conservative social constructivists (esp. in the social phenomenology tradition, e.g. Alfred Schutz, Peter Berger, etc.).”

    It’s not a conservative or liberal thing. A social construct, or a product of social construction, is a concept or practice which may appear to be natural and obvious to those who accept it, but in reality is an invention or artifact of a particular culture or society. Thus, by that standard, reality, or in this case, design, is not to be found in natural laws or as manifestations of a divine will but rather as the by products of human choices. That rules out a great many things, including God’s revelation in Scripture, and, more to the point, God’s revelation in nature. Under the circumstances, design would be a social construct, which means it would have no reality outside human interaction. On the other hand, ID says that design does indeed transcend social interaction because it is real in nature, and, equally important, it was already there to be perceived before social interaction ever took place. So, yes, I have a hard time understanding why a social constructivist would be attracted to a theory that is incompatible with his world view.

  83. #79 Sal Gal
    I have stated in all sincerity that different sciences may serve different values. I prefer for science to explain material events strictly in terms of antecedent material events, inasmuch as I believe that serves the ends of prediction and control of the material world. You and the masses may see more value in a science that places non-material intelligence in a distinguished position.

    In, for example, the study of the properties of iron, the search for material causes of material events is entirely proper. Were I to suggest that it is not the heat of the furnace that causes iron to melt at 1811 K but little invisible devils that tickle it until it becomes gelatinous, you would, I hope, quite properly inform me that my belief was unscientific.

    If, however, we are investigating something else, the archaeological remains in Greece for example, and you were to insist, based upon your “preference” for material explanations, that the material phenomena we call the Parthenon can be fully explained as the result of erosion by wind and rain, I would then feel perfectly justified in pointing out that such undirected material causes are insufficient for the job at hand.

    When we study biology I think we are in the same boat. The discoveries of the last half century have revealed that life is something that exhibits the “appearance” of design. When biologists must “constantly remind themselves” that what they are observing is not designed then perhaps it really is designed. If so, then their “preference for material explanations” is no longer science and will, in fact, lead them away from any possibility of true knowledge.

    As for who the designer is, and his purpose for making what he has made, the artifact may provide us with some clues, or there may exist some literature that provides the necessary answers. It matters not, knowledge about the designer and his purposes are not a prerequisite for the presumption of design.

  84. Sal Gal,

    I have no interest in developing a new science and of the people here am not a major supporter of the science of ID. It is not that I care less about ID as a science but it is of little consequence to me whether it is successful or not. I wish it well but do not find it necessary for the success of ID. It that a contradiction. No.

    I support ID in a big way in the sense that I support the proposition that it is possible that many organisms within life have an intelligent origin. The science that this proposition lies in is evolutionary biology, not Intelligent Design.

    If I bring the tools of science into play to support the proposition that organisms have an intelligent origin am I operating in the area of Intelligent Design and design detection or am I operating within the framework of evolutionary biology. I believe it is the latter.

    Why should evolutionary biology not include the possibility that some species origins may have an intelligent basis. To arbitrarily restrict it to naturalistic origins is just that, arbitrariness and not logical. Especially since nearly everyone in evolutionary biology believes that within the near future someone will create a new organism within the lab.

    So I am interested in showing that intelligence is a viable mechanism for new species. Not necessarily all but definitely some. Do I need the tools of design detection for this? No. I can use logic, some tools of science and the elimination of alternatives.

    As of the moment there exist no sub theory of evolutionary biology that can explain the origin of novel complex capabilities except for intelligent input. Has an intelligence existed in the pass that could have done this. We cannot identify any particular one but modern science hypothesized that many may exist. My son went to Cornell which is the home of Carl Sagin who firmly believed that there existed millions of other intelligences in the universe and this belief spawned a unique area of science called SETI. So modern science accepts intelligence existing in the universe other than our own and one of these could be the origin of intelligently designed gene pools.

    Another possibility is based on the popular belief that there is an infinitely large number of other universes and there is no restriction that intelligences from these other universes could not interfere in the other universes. So here we have a near infinite pool of possible intelligences based on modern science that could be the source of the intelligence required for an intelligently designed gene pool.

    Is it possible that one of these intelligences that are accepted by modern science could go by the nick name of GOD.

    Anyway since there is no non intelligent naturalistic mechanism to explain how many life forms could have come into existence, one must consider a mechanism that could explain them, namely intelligences.

    Nothing I have hypothesized is outside of modern science and does not invoke the science of design detection thought it is not inconsistent with it. So the possibility of existing intelligences along with the lack of an alternative hypothesis leads one to consider that there may have been gene pools with intelligent origins to be highly likely.

    Is this a spoof? Tell me what I have used that is not part of modern science or considered likely by modern science. The longer that scientists fail to provide a mechanism for the origin of novel complex capabilities the more likely is that an intelligent origin is likely for the organisms with these capabilities.

    Just as background. I firmly believed that Darwinian processes explained all of life till about 9 years ago when I started to investigate it. I have no dog or horse in the race of whether the explanation for all of life’s origin is due to Darwinian processes or not. It was not important. But after investigating it, I became convinced that there is no evidence to support Darwinian processes for everything. I believe any honest person would come to the same conclusion and anyone who defends Darwinian processes for every life form is dishonest or ill informed.

    I am a science junkie and am interested in the philosophy of science, the history of science, have an educational background in physics and mathematics and have several video courses on science from the Teaching Company. Some are quite sophisticated and am currently watching on called the Darwinian Revolution.

    So if you attribute some agenda to my comments you are wrong. I am just after the truth. If it appeared Darwinian processes were the answer I would push for it. In fact I irk a lot of people here by proclaiming that Darwinian processes explain most of life on the planet but not all. Many here do not want to give Darwin any credit at all. Darwin deserves lots of credit but it is limited. Darwin was an arrogant fool who pushed his theory way beyond what it could explain and egotistically resisted any criticism that his ideas did not explain everything.

  85. I’m posting this comment to ask if anyone can take up the challenge from a blogger @:

    http://recursed.blogspot.com/2.....ation.html

    He is basically claiming he can refute IDist claims that evolution cannot create new information. He says using the Kolmogorov model proves evolution can in fact produce new information.

    I’ve been lurking on this site for weeks and find the quality of the posting to be superb (if that means anything comin’ from a layman). It would be great to see the regulars here take up the challenge and post a formal rebuttal on UD.

  86. Steve Fuller,

    Should economics, engineering, and systems science be taking deities or other non-material intelligences into consideration?

    Or is methodological naturalism good enough for these fields but not good enough for biology?

  87. 87

    dgosse @70 and Upright Biped @73:

    The problem with your analogy is that the argument assumes its own conclusion. The Darwinists maintain that evolution is not directed in any way, so in order for the formation-of-a-word analogy to hold water, you can’t specify the word you’re looking for. The question should be, how long would it take to form any nine-letter word. The answer is, not too long. Whether that word will be “useful” or not depends on the prevailing environment and other circumstances.

    A deck of cards randomly shuffled will result in one of (52!)possible orders, so we can say that each and every order is “practically impossible.” It’s not until we impute meaning to the order (i.e., we expect a certain conclusion) that low probability comes into play.

  88. Jerry,
    One of the many problems with your position is that is impossible to implement in the context of real, working science. You use v vague times like “most” and “some” but most scientists work on v specific systems and problems. at what point do they invoke design? For example, let’s say that you are trying to figure out the evolutionary pathway of blood clotting. You are not sure how the 3 irreducible components of the pathway came together initially, as all the animals you’ve screened so far have at least those 3. do you now say that the intelligent agent put those 3 together, and leave it at that? or do you continue screening more animals, including some even more basal lineages, to see if they lack one or more of them? and then look for homologues to the genes that code for those factors to see if they may have arisen through exaptaion? if all that fails, do you then invoke an intelligent agent? and if you do, the problem then becomes exactly what FUller is talking about, providing positive evidence of that agent’s activities. one of the most basic tenets of science is that evidence against one hypothesis is not evidence for an alternative hypothesis. each hypothesis has to be tested against a null. and so far ID has failed to provide any sort of positive evidence for itself, and can’t until it starts talking about the nature of the designer.

  89. Hi Earvin

    Like any analogy, it is imperfect, and likely doesn’t have much in common than the necessary specified complexity. Living organisms use a variety of complex “words” and whether the initial word is “evolution” or “geography” or the even smaller sequence, “red” or “mean”, it must, at some point, form a sentence (to keep the analogy alive). Let’s look at the four examples “evolution geography red mean” will not make a sentence without randomly generating more “words” and some ordering them for grammatical structure.

    But words and sentences do not a story of life make. We may have some of the parts, but contra reductionist orthodoxy, the parts do not explain the whole. The next part I am borrowing from Wiker and Witt “A Meaningful World” – good book – I read it through twice in one sitting and once more since.

    Prof. Dawkins has an ingenious little program using the same analogy of word and sentence building, called Weasel, to demonstrate how random evolution can produce meaningful structure. There are several well-known flaws in the program and I will not trouble you with the details, the critiques are readily available on the web. Wiker and Witt came at the demonstration from the opposite direction.

    Prof. Dawkins uses a computer to generate random letters and spaces toto produce a phrase from Shakespeare, “METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL”. Ingenious, yes?

    But what does it mean? What is like a weasel? Who is speaking? To whom is he speaking? Even Dawkins felt the need to contextualize the sentence he chose by giving some background information from the play, Hamlet, from which he lifted the sentence. The complexity and pecification works in two directions. It isn’t enough to produce a word, or a phrase, or even an entire sentence. Without a larger context the sentence is a phrase without a funtion and functionality is required for evolution.

    This is the fundamental flaw of reductionism, the synthesis of amino acids was considered a breakthrough for origin of life studies until they realized that amino acids, by themselves, do not a protein make. They must be assembled into a sentence with proper syntax, which itself must be fit into a paragraph, a scene, and, ultimately, the whole play.

  90. Freelurker

    #86 Should economics, engineering, and systems science be taking deities or other non-material intelligences into consideration?

    Good question! I think this might be something to keep in mind, given the constant references to “fine tuning” of the universe. When we find otherwise orthodox materialist cosmologists scratching their heads and referring to “someone” fiddling with the physical constants that underpin the entire universe the reason may be that “someone” has fiddled with the numbers.

    In most cases, this fiddle was built in from the outset and will not change (perhaps that’s why they call them constants?) so disciplines such as engineering, metalurgy, physics, chemistry, etc. may safely ignore the metaphysical immplications of “fine tunig” for all practical purposes. Systems science may be another story, are we considering physical systems such as computer design or ventilation systems, or are we considering systems designed to influence/predict/modify biological entities? In purely mechanical systems we are using pureley mechanical (material) phenomena that are, again, governed by the physical constants; but when we move to biology we move, incrementally towards entities who “appear” (I would say “do”) to act independent of the physical constants that guide non-biological entities – “free will”. Plants – not much; Animals – a sliding scale from little to some; Humans – nearly always.

    Economics, which is an effort to understand and predict the totality of human (willful) interaction should, at the very least, have an anthropology that is accurate. One could almost say that economics is a “moral” (in the broad sense) enterprise. Given the proclivity of humans to act contrary to the received wisdom of modern anthropology, and the failure of materialism to account for humanities (apparent?) free will, then postulating some (let us say extension) to the materialist paradigm may be in order.

    If you are a confirmed naturalist you might want to posit a new dimension of “intensionality” which some creatures, primarily humans, are able to utilize in addition to the the four dimensions of length, width, breadth, and time. Of course, you couldn’t see it, weigh it, or measure it, any more than you may see, measure, or weigh spirit, but I’m sure we could invent a plausible explanation for the phenomena that safely avoids the implication of deity.

  91. 91

    degasse,

    Earlier you said,

    I may be mistaken here, not being a mathematition and being nearly ignorant of probability theory…

    I’m a bit surprised that someone who confesses to be “nearly ignorant of probability theory” is so confident in his/her assertions regarding problems of probability.
    I’m glad to have engaged in the conversation, however, and wish you the best.

  92. —-”I have stated in all sincerity that different sciences may serve different values. I prefer for science to explain material events strictly in terms of antecedent material events, inasmuch as I believe that serves the ends of prediction and control of the material world. You and the masses may see more value in a science that places non-material intelligence in a distinguished position.”

    Methods are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Their job is to serve the cause of truth and not the other way around. If the “masses” understand that and the academy doesn’t, then the masses have the intellectual edge.

  93. Hi Earvin

    #91 I’m a bit surprised that someone who confesses to be “nearly ignorant of probability theory” is so confident in his/her assertions regarding problems of probability.

    Put it down to hubris and popular science writing. 8^>

    I really am incompetent to discuss probability theory on anything more than the “popular” level, but I have investigated the options. I was a committed mateialist a few years ago, but that commitment I once had was based upon ignorance. I once thought I was informed, but I had only been given one side of the story.

    When I did look into the foundation of my belief I discoverd, much to my dismay, how little there is to the foundation. My first reaction was anger that so much had been withheld from me, but I have since concluded that the same ignorance permeates everyone’s outlook. We are conditioned not to inquire too deeply, not with reasoned arguments, but by the mocking and belittling of those who dissent. I did it myself.

    I have enjoyed our discussion too. The best part of these discussions is that they challenge me to review and organize what little knowledge I have attained and present it in a coherent fashion. Thankyou

  94. jerry asks,

    Tell me what I have used that is not part of modern science or considered likely by modern science.

    Intelligence.

    If you want to see the best scientific efforts at giving some useful meaning to the term, go to psychology and ethology. Review my first comment, and feel free to respond now, if you like.

    I first learned of the scientific status of intelligence as a hypothetical construct when I was an experimental psychology student, 35 years ago. It is treated as an abstraction. Psychometrists do not reify intelligence. They do not offer it as a real physical entity in explanations of empirical observations.

    There is no empirical observation of “intelligence” without prior operational definition. In fact, the operational definitions are commonly quite different from one another, and abstract constructs referred to as intelligence do not necessarily have much to do with one another.

    Throughout my adult life, I have heard people refer to intelligence as something with physical reality. No doubt this is due to the ubiquity of “intelligence” tests. No one engaged in a science of “intelligence” treats intelligence as physically real. That would be closely analogous to treating life as physically real. Vitalism is defunct — I hope.

    The SETI project does not search for intelligence. More on that in a moment.

  95. Hi Sal Gal

    #94 There is no empirical observation of “intelligence” without prior operational definition. In fact, the operational definitions are commonly quite different from one another, and abstract constructs referred to as intelligence do not necessarily have much to do with one another.

    Don’t you find this just the teensiest bit troubling?

  96. dgosse,

    I’m not sure what you’re driving at, but I’ll say that a great many concepts that serve us well enough in everyday life do not have much, if any, scientific utility. When we talk about “intelligence,” there is always a more specific term we could use in its place. (Adding together scores of verbal and quantitative performance on the SATs does not give “intelligence,” if you follow my drift. I know a woman who scored 200, the minimum, on the math SAT, and 800, the maximum, on the verbal SAT. She reads a book each day, and has fabulous knowledge of English and French literature. Is she a genius or an idiot? Perhaps both.)

    I am no more concerned about the amorphous character of “intelligence” than I am that of “love.” Does love cause things to happen? Well, in an ordinary sense, it does, but I would hate to see a scientist treat it as a non-material cause of empirically observable events. I mean, are we going to elaborate a theory in which love is a non-material source of complex specified vibes? Science requires greater rigor of definition than does everyday conversation. Not everything we sense as real can be physically real in science.

  97. Well, Jerry, here goes. Past attempts to explain that SETI does not do what Dembski has led you to believe it does have gotten folks banninated. I’m including here an excerpt from Ask Dr. Seti: If SETI receivers have to be narrow band, how is intelligence carried in these signals? Also, why do they need to be narrow band? Note that the project depends on assumptions about the nature and the intentions of E.T., and that it is seeking to receive just one bit of information, not >400 bits of CSI.

    Let’s assume you’re an intelligent extraterrestrial, wishing to make your presence known to the inhabitants of a distant and primitive planet (let’s say, Earth). You know that the electromagnetic spectrum is a noisy place, and that your intended communications partner is going to have to separate your signal from the background noise. You also know that natural astrophysical radio emitters are inherently broadband. What to do? You could readily produce a signal that’s spectrally narrow (your technology is good at that). This would clearly stand out as being artificial. It would also make it easier for the distant Earthlings to intercept, since the narrower they make their receiver, the more of the cosmic background noise they exclude, and hence the higher their received signal to noise ratio. Well, the narrowest possible signal is a pure CW (continuous wave) carrier, so that’s what you send.

    That’s all very well and good, but communications theory suggests that a pure CW carrier contains no intelligence. But wait — is that really true? It can be argued that the reception of such a narrow signal is in fact a one-bit message, conveying the information “here I am.” Run that message through your Universal Translator, and out comes the more meaningful proclamation “you are not alone.” So, information has been exchanged, in vanishingly narrow bandwidth.

    The one bit of information is “special” because it gives a “yes” to the question “Is there a signal like that we would send if we knew where to send it?” There is no CSI in the signal SETI hopes to detect initially.

    If you read the rest of the response, you’ll see that further study and interpretation of signals in an “interesting” region of space would depend on assumptions that E.T. is trying to talk to us in a way E.T. would expect us to understand.

  98. To put that more directly, SETI says nothing along the lines that the “fingerprint of intelligence” can be detected in a signal. The significance of signals is primarily a matter of SETI scientists’ expectations and the intentions they ascribe to E.T.

  99. Sal Gal:
    “To put that more directly, SETI says nothing along the lines that the “fingerprint of intelligence” can be detected in a signal.”

    Actually, SETI does say that the “fingerprints of intelligence” can be detected in a signal. You have just explained their methodology for doing so. What is really interesting though, is that as far as I understand, their methodology has returned a false positive in the form of quasar signals, however CSI has yet to produce a false positive that can be produced absent previous intelligence (read as “foresight”: the ability to envision a future goal which does not yet exist (model future states) and arrive at that specified and complex state by engineering chance and law to accomplish that goal at better than chance performance).

    Furthermore, you reiterate in your last sentences that SETI does indeed think that in can find “fingerprints of intelligence.”

    You state:
    “The significance of signals is primarily a matter of SETI scientists’ expectations and the intentions they ascribe to E.T.”

    Their expectation is that there is a type of signal that they expect an intelligence to produce that chance and law would not produce. If this were not the case they would pack their bags and go home. Any intentions they ascribe to E.T. as a basis for expecting a certain type of signal are based on their understanding of how intelligence (however they wish to define it) operates.

    The clincher is that ID should be placed in a higher scientific status than SETI since it has yet to produce a false positive and its design detection model is well founded in the mathematics of information theory (CSI and active information). We can discuss CSI and active information if you wish. However, just a heads up — there are at least two areas in which I disagree with Dembski’s use of the math involved with CSI. HOwever, these disagreements do not detract from CSI as a reliable indicator of intelligence, IMO these disagreements only serve to better utilize CSI.

  100. However, if SETI ever did receive CSI as in the movie “Contact” (although from my understanding sending that type of signal over that distance is practically impossible) then there would be much rejoicing over having received a signal from E.T.

  101. Sal Gal

    SETI says nothing along the lines that the “fingerprint of intelligence” can be detected in a signal

    That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard someone pretending to be generally informed in science say in a quite a while.

    SETI stands for Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. If they don’t think they can detect an intelligence what the bloody hell have they been spending money doing for the last 40 years? Like DUH!

  102. I just got something on my IPOD. It keeps on repeating “Sal Gal come home.”

    you said

    “Not everything we sense as real can be physically real in science.”

    How about that. Does that mean science can not explain all phenomena? Like maybe it can not explain all of evolution.

    You get a lot of arguments over the time here but this is the first that says that intelligence does not exist. Well I have been claiming that for the anti ID crowd for quite some time so I am glad that you confirmed it for me. So as a matter of procedure in the future, maybe we should limit our discussions to those who do think they have intelligence.

    I guess the anti free will or determinists crowd falls into that classification too. So we should also limit our discussions to those who think they have a free will. Your comments explains a lot things here, namely why the anti ID crowd never seems to give an inch even when the evidence or logic is so against them. They are not capable of such behavior since they are hardwired to say the same thing in a thousand different ways.

    So to all those out there. ID only wants to talk to people with intelligence and free will. Those of you without intelligence or free will can go to Panda’s Thumb. In fact Panda’s Thumb is broadcasting a signal now, “anti ID people come home.”

  103. Sal Gal,

    There is a new book, well last May, that discusses evolution and intelligence in some of its chapters. I have no idea what it says but I can bet it won’t be friendly to ID. Part of the book is available on google books.

    It is The Deep Structure of Biology, edited by Simon Conway Morris. The subtitle “Is Convergence Sufficiently Ubiquitous to Give a Directional Signal?”

    In it there is a chapter on plant intelligence. Maybe there is an opportunity here to start a communication with your local flora to tell them there is no such thing as intelligence.

    I do not want to be facetious but somehow one has to define the construct that is able to process and answer responses from the environment. Granted that there is a whole range from 1) a certain ion appears and this causes a chemical reaction to take place which then results in a movement by a cell or a group of cells to 2) an apple falls off a tree and someone then develops the theory of gravity and the calculus. But just what is that #2. It is just a more complicated #1 or is there something else much different.

    We may apply the term intelligence to both 1 and 2 but are they really the same, except for the complexity of reactions? Somehow I doubt it. But if you don’t think so then maybe it is time to call home.

  104. CJYman: Their expectation is that there is a type of signal that they expect an intelligence to produce that chance and law would not produce.

    Is there any evidence that SETI scientists consider “intelligences” to operate outside of chance and law?

    CJYman: The clincher is that ID should be placed in a higher scientific status than SETI since it has yet to produce a false positive and its design detection model is well founded in the mathematics of information theory (CSI and active information).

    The concepts of CSI and active information are nowhere to be found in the information theory literature. I don’t see how that can be considered “well founded”.

  105. Is there any evidence that SETI scientists consider “intelligences” to operate outside of chance and law?

    If they do not then how can one tell the difference?

  106. And as for “intelligence” that just equals agency involvement.

    There are things that nature, operating freely can produce and then there are things that require agency involvement to produce.

  107. Actually, SETI does say that the “fingerprints of intelligence” can be detected in a signal. You have just explained their methodology for doing so.

    There is no modulation of the carrier wave, and therefore nothing you can consider a pattern. So where’s the fingerprint?

    My point, in the context of the opening article and one Fuller wrote some months back, is that SETI can make headway only by “trying to get into the mind” of an extraterrestrial that would attempt to communicate with us. SETI assumes that E.T. has received radio signals from earth, and is sending a radio signal under the assumption that something on earth has the technology to receive it. SETI assumes that E.T. assumes we believe that a carrier wave is necessarily of technological origin.

  108. To my knowledge, SETI offers no scientific definition of intelligence. In some documents, the organization seems to use “extraterrestrial intelligence” and “extraterrestrial civilization” interchangeably. As best I can tell, SETI is looking for anomalous radio signals better explained by technological transmitters than by others.

  109. Joseph: If they do not then how can one tell the difference?

    And as for “intelligence” that just equals agency involvement.

    There are things that nature, operating freely can produce and then there are things that require agency involvement to produce.

    Thank you, Joseph. Back to my question: Where is the evidence that SETI scientists treat intelligence metaphysically by contrasting it with chance+law or defining it in terms of agency?

  110. jerry (103):

    You might check to see if Conway Morris uses the term intelligence merely to categorize responsiveness in plants, or if he uses it to explain the responsiveness. I’ll bet you big cyber-bucks that he calls certain plant behaviors intelligent, and does not tell the reader that plants emit those behaviors because they “have intelligence.” He’s not going to say that any more than he’s going to say that organisms do what they do because they “have life.” Vitalism is rightfully defunct.

    In ID, intelligence creates complex specified information. As Dembski points out in one of his papers, first you have a block of marble, Michelangelo comes along, and then there’s David. If that’s not creation, then I don’t know what is. Michelangelo’s non-material intelligence imparts CSI to the marble. Intelligence is Dembski’s explanation of the material effect, and Michelangelo evidently has it.

    ID theorists are using intelligence without clear definition. No, it does not inherit a definition from other sciences. Other sciences use the term, in most cases, to delineate areas of investigation, not to explain phenomena. In other cases, intelligence id defined operationally, and scientists using the term (usually) remember that it is an abstraction of their own concoction, not physical reality.

    The problem for most ID fans is that they have no appreciation for how much more rigorous actual science is than even college textbooks, let alone the popular science literature.

  111. CJYman: Their expectation is that there is a type of signal that they expect an intelligence to produce that chance and law would not produce.

    Rob:
    “Is there any evidence that SETI scientists consider “intelligences” to operate outside of chance and law?”

    What do you mean by this? Apparently some types of signals are best explained as at least having been “run through a filter of intelligence” as opposed to merely being generated by law and chance. If that weren’t the case, then there would be no difference between SETI and Search for Extraterrestrial Law or Chance. Here’s a question to put your question in perspective — What is the best explanation for this conversation we are having: Law, Chance, or Intelligence (as I have previously defined it above.)

    Furthermore, I think that intelligence can be detected and I don’t think that intelligence operates outside of law and chance. Intelligence is composed of a highly specified and improbable organization of law, chance, and information which results in the ability for a system to apply foresight.

    Do you think that intelligence can be detected by the effects that it produces?

  112. Rob
    “The concepts of CSI and active information are nowhere to be found in the information theory literature. I don’t see how that can be considered “well founded”.”

    Actually the concept of active information as “better than chance performance” and “no free lunch” is found in the information theory literature.

    As for CSI, it is controversial, however defensible and based on information theory concepts. Do you wish to discuss them or do you only discuss that which is already widely accepted by big name scientific literature?

    IOW, why are you even here? To tell us that ID concepts are not being published because ID is automatically ruled out of science a priori? We already know that. Do you wish to discuss something?

  113. Sal Gal:
    “There is no modulation of the carrier wave, and therefore nothing you can consider a pattern. So where’s the fingerprint?”

    According to yourself, the specific carrier wave itself is the effect, signal, pattern, whatever you wanna call it that may indicate previous intelligence. Or is that not a reliable indication of previous intelligence? Furthermore, what if SETI did receive CSI (as per “Contact” as previously mentioned) even if they were not looking specifically for CSI — a message or instructions. Would they not think that was even a more reliable indication of intelligence?

    Sal Gal:
    “SETI assumes that E.T. assumes we believe that a carrier wave is necessarily of technological origin.”

    Technological origin? And what does a technological origin point to? Hint: it’s the “I” in SETI.

  114. Sal Gal:
    “The problem for most ID fans is that they have no appreciation for how much more rigorous actual science is than even college textbooks, let alone the popular science literature.”

    Eh?!?! Where do you get that from.

    Oh, and what do you think of the definition I have offered for intelligence in #99.IMO, it sums up quite adequately what most scientists refer to when discussing intelligence — ie: an AI chess program or robot maneuvering through a maze or a human designing a blueprint or essay.

  115. Sal Gal,

    Just so I know that we aren’t playing a semantics game (cause I have no time for that) could you please provide your definition of “pattern.”

  116. CJYman, we probably need to back up a little. SETI is looking for signals that could indicate what we loosely refer to as intelligence. To me, like Sal Gal, it makes more sense to speak of intelligence as a behavioral category than as a substance (material or non), an explanation, a cause, or a mode of explanation.

    Does SETI see intelligence as mutually exclusive to law+chance? I know of no evidence for that. If I were to interpret “necessity” and “chance” mathematically, I would say that they’re just entropic extremes of the spectrum of conceivable probability functions, and that their complement is a null set. The terms are also used philosophically, but SETI doesn’t take a philosophical stance as far as I know. That’s my point, and I certainly welcome correction on it.

    What is the best explanation for this conversation we are having: Law, Chance, or Intelligence (as I have previously defined it above.)

    Yes.

    I see no reason to believe that intelligence or foresight is mutually exclusive to law+chance. The discussions I’ve seen to that effect are philosophical and have no apparent relevance to SETI’s work.

    I’m not trying to be argumentative here. I just think it’s important to not impute metaphysical stances to working scientific (albeit possibly futile) projects, like the idea that design is the complement of necessity and chance.

    Do you think that intelligence can be detected by the effects that it produces?

    I think intelligence is typically defined by the effects that it produces, eg a high score on an IQ test.

  117. I see no reason to believe that intelligence or foresight is mutually exclusive to law+chance.

    Thought I’d interject that Dembski made that very distinction not too long ago.

  118. Actually the concept of active information as “better than chance performance” and “no free lunch” is found in the information theory literature.

    Optimization is certainly an active field, although I haven’t seen a lot on information theoretical approaches to the NFL theorems. (One person who has published on this is a commenter on this site.)

    So you’re right about that. What I should have said is that the EvoInfo Lab’s approach of measuring information as the performance ratio of two different searches isn’t in the literature. I wouldn’t consider anything based on this to be well-founded (although it may be impeccably correct) until there’s evidence that the active info idea is sufficiently fleshed out. I’ll be interested to see the reaction to Marks and Dembski’s soon-to-be-published paper.

    As for CSI, it is controversial, however defensible and based on information theory concepts.

    I disagree with your assessment, but that’s not important since I’m hardly an expert. More significant is the fact that CSI has gained no traction in the relevant fields during its 10+ years of life. That’s why I wouldn’t say that anything based on it is well-founded, which is not to say that CSI is necessarily invalid.

    Do you wish to discuss them or do you only discuss that which is already widely accepted by big name scientific literature?

    I’m happy to discuss them anytime, but I doubt that our fellow commenters would appreciate the tangent. Anywhere else would be fine.

    IOW, why are you even here? To tell us that ID concepts are not being published because ID is automatically ruled out of science a priori?

    If I were to say such a thing, I certainly couldn’t defend it.

    Do you wish to discuss something?

    I’m just (hopefully politely) disagreeing with your statement about SETI and law+chance, and that ID is well-founded on CSI and active info.

  119. Patrick: Thought I’d interject that Dembski made that very distinction not too long ago.

    Yes, and I’m having a hard time reconciling his statements in which he explicitly says that they are mutually exclusive with his recent statements, in which he explicitly says that they are not.

  120. “The problem for most ID fans is that they have no appreciation for how much more rigorous actual science is than even college textbooks, let alone the popular science literature.”

    What a supercilious patronizing bunch of excrement. I suggest you look at evolutionary biology before you generalize. In the body of work that makes up this science, one’s imagination is evidence. The finding are ok most of the time but the conclusions make the Mad Hatter look like a rational genius. Why, because they are constrained by a religious dogma that affects what they can say and not be excommunicated.

    Oh yes, I do read the scientific literature in some areas for my business and know what classifies as science is often based on one’s point of view going in and may miss reality often because of this. Can I say that hard science is often biased or even most often biased.

    Conway-Morris is the editor of the book I referred you to and not all of the chapters are about intelligence. So I suggest you look to see what it says. Right now I am up to my eye balls with Steve Fuller’s recommendations which are just now arriving.

    It is a shame with your 35 years of experience you could probably impart some useful knowledge here but your main objective seems to be to show what a bunch of rubes we are. Denying that intelligence exists is a non starter. Affirming that there are real problems with defining intelligence is a given. If you took the latter route then a productive discussion could have taken place. But to say that the ability to compose Nessun Dorma or write the Principia is not intelligence makes you look like a crank as opposed to one with lots of experience. You may want to take your discussion to whatever intellectual cul de sac you can find that has someone who wants to discuss your ideas. Oh, I just use a variant of the word intelligence. I apologize for using a non existent concept.

  121. Sal Gal

    There is no modulation of the carrier wave, and therefore nothing you can consider a pattern. So where’s the fingerprint?

    You’re still beating this dead horse?

    The fingerprint is the transmitter. Because they can’t figure out how law & chance can produce a narrow band CW transmitter it must be artificially constructed by an intelligent agency of some sort.

    Compare this to ID which says that law & chance can’t produce a living thing based on DNA so it must be artificially constructed by an intelligent agent of some sort.

  122. “The fingerprint is the transmitter. Because they can’t figure out how law & chance can produce a narrow band CW transmitter it must be artificially constructed by an intelligent agency of some sort.”

    Superb!!!

    Even if most instances of the word SETI (in at least the intro paragraph) of the SETI Wiki were to be reprinted with the word ID in place, not only would the article still make sense but actually describes ID’s intentions pretty damn well.

    I did up a quick one:

    “Intelligent Design is the collective name for a number of activities to detect intelligence in biological systems (ie: design detection). The general approach of ID projects is to survey biological systems to detect the existence of an intelligent source.

    There are great challenges in searching biological systems for design that could be characterized as coming from a intelligent source, but since many of the functions and patterns that incorporate intelligent systems are already well known beforehand, design detection becomes much easier. Still, ID projects intentionally make little assumptions to narrow the search since the chance worshipers believe they have magical evidence of it happening their way, and if not their way some other magical way which must be presently unkown, thus making ID more challenging then thought.”

  123. SETI don’t look for any intelligent life, they are looking specifically for intelligent life that is recognisable to us, or to be even more specific, radio signals that appear to match patterns not found anywhere in nature except as a product of human technology. In this sense their attempts at ‘design detection’ are deliberately non-rigorous but speculative and tentative.

    Some SETI scientist readily acknowledge that we may already have been receiving signals generated by intelligent life , but in a pattern that is indistinguishable by us from the background ‘noise’ without appropriate knowledge of the encoding scheme (Something the military always strives for!). There is obviously no point trying to look for something that is currently unrecognisable to you.

    The optical SETI project is an interesting newer development in that it is attempting to look for laser light emanating from objects in space. There is currently no known mechanism for generating the particular type of light you get from a laser naturally, both from (non-human) living and non living systems. Some SETI scientists made a reasonable assumption that any laser light detected from space could be an indicator of technology. As was the case with the discovery of pulsars though this is not a definitive indicator of intelligence and could just be the discovery of the first natural source of coherent light.

    In fact there is a parallel effort in astronomy to identify signs of biological life in the universe – in other words life, but not identifiably technological life as compared with humans. The basic idea is to understand what differentiates our planet from others in terms of the passive signals it produces, like its optical signature, and to search for similar signals in other solar systems.

    In many ways I think SETI got their acronym wrong, it ought to be SETT – Search for Extra Terrestrial Technology.

  124. Hello Rob,

    I see where you are coming from now. For the most part, I think I actually agree with what you are saying, however I do take it a bit further.

    Rob:
    “JYman, we probably need to back up a little. SETI is looking for signals that could indicate what we loosely refer to as intelligence.”

    Yes, that is the first problem. Intelligence needs to be concretely defined, however if SETI can get away with attempting to detect a loosely defined intelligence as a scientific enterprise, then so should ID.

    I do personally think that my defnition of intelligence above in #99 would be a good start for defining what we consider an intelligent system.

    Rob:
    “To me, like Sal Gal, it makes more sense to speak of intelligence as a behavioral category than as a substance (material or non), an explanation, a cause, or a mode of explanation.”

    I personally do not view intelligence as a substance. I view it as a type of system. I have discussed this briefly in my above comments. Intelligence must be a cause separate from a combination of just law and chance until it can be shown that just law and chance can create a system organized in such a way as to use foresight to accomplish a specified target at better than chance performance. Until that is shown, it is quite obvious that foresight utilizing systems will cause effects which a set of merely laws and chance absent foresight will not produce.

    Rob:
    “Does SETI see intelligence as mutually exclusive to law+chance?”

    Probably not, but neither do I. Any time that intelligence produces an effect it is the result of law, chance, *plus* foresight (as I have previously defined it).

    Rob:
    “If I were to interpret “necessity” and “chance” mathematically, I would say that they’re just entropic extremes of the spectrum of conceivable probability functions, and that their complement is a null set.”

    A simple mathematical description of chance is equated with statistical randomness — one end of the entropic spectrum. A simple mathematical description of law is algorithmic compressibility or regularities — the other end of the entropic spectrum. So we are basically on the same page here. But, what about those patterns which can be described by both high improbability and functional specificity (not mere regularity) thus ruling out both chance and law respectively as described mathematically?

    What if these same types of patterns are also known to be regularly produced by systems which employ foresighted mechanisms and no known false positive exists? Might the organization of the foresight producing system have something to do with it and may we not say that foresight is essential to producing said patterns, as a working hypothesis? This seems quite rational to me and SETI doesn’t even go this deep into the mathematics and description of intelligence yet they are deemed science.

    CJYman: What is the best explanation for this conversation we are having: Law, Chance, or Intelligence (as I have previously defined it above.)

    Rob:
    “Yes.

    I see no reason to believe that intelligence or foresight is mutually exclusive to law+chance. The discussions I’ve seen to that effect are philosophical and have no apparent relevance to SETI’s work.”

    I agree to the extent that law, chance, *plus* intelligence are at work, thus we can detect intelligence (as a mechanism which I have previously defined) based on its effects.

    Rob:
    “I think intelligence is typically defined by the effects that it produces, eg a high score on an IQ test.”

    I think that intelligence should be defined first (ie: as foresight) and then we can detect it based on its effects as distinct from law and chance *absent* foresight.

  125. Rob:
    “More significant is the fact that CSI has gained no traction in the relevant fields during its 10+ years of life. That’s why I wouldn’t say that anything based on it is well-founded, which is not to say that CSI is necessarily invalid.”

    My apologies for not being more clear. I meant that it is my personal opinion that CSI and active information themselves are well founded in information theory, especially where NFL Theorems, and Conservation of Information Theorems are concerned.

    Furthermore, upon looking at the concepts closely, it seems that active information is merely an extension of CSI. IOW, it takes active information to find CSI. A search that requires active information will have a target that can be described in terms of CSI — either through pre-specification or specification.

    It is unfortunate that no one has yet built upon CSI itself, although I personally think that it definitely was a springboard into the concept of active information. So to say that there was no traction in the field is slightly misinformed.

  126. ID theorists are using intelligence without clear definition.

    Again the word “intelligence” was picked ONLY to DIFFERENTIATE btween APPARENT design on one side and OPTIMAL design on the other.

    It indicates agency involvement- as in nature, operating freely, could not and would not produce the structrure/ object/ event in question.

  127. Where is the evidence that SETI scientists treat intelligence metaphysically by contrasting it with chance+law or defining it in terms of agency?

    Why would they treat it metaphysically? What is your point?

    When SETI researchers find a signal that matches their criteria, it is understood that neither chance nor law can explain it. That is what the criteria is for.

    After chance & law what is left besides intelligent agency?

  128. CJYman, you insist on a response to this:

    intelligence (read as “foresight”: the ability to envision a future goal which does not yet exist (model future states) and arrive at that specified and complex state by engineering chance and law to accomplish that goal at better than chance performance).

    “Ability” of what? This does nothing to establish intelligence as a non-material cause of material effects. Your definition is orthogonal to the topic of this thread.

  129. Sal Gal, I insist on a response because a common contention is that there is no clear cut definition of “intelligence.”

    Sal Gal:
    ““Ability” of what?”

    Not sure what you’re asking for here. I had mentioned above (probably to Rob) that it would be a functionally specific and highly improbable system — a combination of law, chance, and information — which would have the capacity to apply foresight.

    Sal Gal:
    “This does nothing to establish intelligence as a non-material cause of material effects. Your definition is orthogonal to the topic of this thread.”

    I never said it had anything to do with material vs. non-material. I have not even responded to any assertion of material vs. non-material. I responded to your assertions re: SETI and ID Theory, so either provide your response or ignore me.

  130. CJYman: Intelligence needs to be concretely defined, however if SETI can get away with attempting to detect a loosely defined intelligence as a scientific enterprise, then so should ID.

    SETI is looking for aliens who send narrowband radio or optical burst beacon signals. Most of us would call that behavior “intelligent”, and no further definition is required as far as the SETI project is concerned.

    Dembski’s approach to ID, on the other hand, hinges on the metaphysical nature of intelligence. If intelligence is reducible to law+chance, his filter doesn’t work. But what does it mean to not be reducible to law+chance? That’s a question that the philosophers have been kicking around for centuries. If ID depends on the murky idea of libertarian free will, it’s not on very solid scientific footing IMO.

    Intelligence must be a cause separate from a combination of just law and chance until it can be shown that just law and chance can create a system organized in such a way as to use foresight to accomplish a specified target at better than chance performance.

    I’m confused about whether we’re discussing “intelligence (foresight)” vs. “just law+chance” in the operation of a system or in the production of a system.

    Until that is shown, it is quite obvious that foresight utilizing systems will cause effects which a set of merely laws and chance absent foresight will not produce.

    You’re assuming that foresight is not reducible to law+chance. That’s the assumption I challenge.

    But, what about those patterns which can be described by both high improbability and functional specificity (not mere regularity) thus ruling out both chance and law respectively as described mathematically?

    If chance and law cover the entire entropic spectrum, then there is nothing else by definition. (Technically, chance covers the whole spectrum. As Dembski pointed out in both TDI and NFL, regularity is just a special case of chance, just like real numbers are a special case of complex numbers.)

    I think that intelligence should be defined first (ie: as foresight) and then we can detect it based on its effects as distinct from law and chance *absent* foresight.

    Again, I challenge the assumption that foresight is not reducible to law and chance.

  131. Hi CJYman. Marks and Dembski have never, to my knowledge, connected active info with CSI. They’ve alluded to a connection, but never told us what it is. I would guess that the connection you posit is what they have in mind.

    So to say that there was no traction in the field is slightly misinformed.

    When I say no traction, I mean that there is no evidence of anyone other than Marks and Dembski using the concepts, and no publications outside of philosophical works and the popular press.

  132. I wrote:

    There is no modulation of the carrier wave, and therefore nothing you can consider a pattern. So where’s the fingerprint?

    DaveScot responded:

    You’re still beating this dead horse?

    The fingerprint is the transmitter. Because they can’t figure out how law & chance can produce a narrow band CW transmitter it must be artificially constructed by an intelligent agency of some sort.

    I gave clear evidence from a SETI source that SETI operates by trying to get into the mind of E.T. There are a gazillion signals radio-astronomers can tell you they have not observed, and do not expect to observe, and SETI is not looking for all of them. The project has decided that it would transmit a particular kind of physically anomalous signal in order to get E.T.’s attention, and is assuming that E.T. will think the same way if he/she/it wants to contact us. This fits ever so neatly with what Steve Fuller has written about trying to get into the mind of God.

    The empirically observable evidence is the signal, and not the transmitter. Design is detected in the empirical evidence, not the hypothetical source of it. To soften one of the more polite comments you have made to me, Dave, you might want to consider writing that down.

    We do not know what “filtering” occurs in the “channel,” do we Dave?

    A resistor, a capacitor, and an inductor will give you an electronic bandpass filter. Not much CSI there. (Give me a “duh,” D-D-Dave.) A very simple physical system could filter a broadband radio signal originating in deep space, though we have not observed this phenomenon.

    What makes a narrow-band CW coming from deep space special is not the signal, nor any transmitter you might rush to infer, but SETI’s reasoning about the reasoning of a hypothetical extraterrestrial civilization.

  133. CJYman,

    This is off-topic, but could you point me to those “Conservation of Information theorems”?

  134. I would add that there is a strong element of Bayesianism, which is anathema to most IDists, in the SETI approach. The project seeks to detect simple, but anomalous, signals that seem more likely to be of technological origin than some other origin. This sort of likelihood comparison is something ID (especially Dembski) has not wanted to touch with a ten-foot stick.

    If you, DaveScot, can produce a CSI computation for a narrow-band carrier wave originating in deep space, complete with frequentist probability assignment, I would love to see it. Even if you could not produce the required numbers, seeing the details of how would get them would be enormously interesting.

  135. Joseph: Why would they treat it metaphysically? What is your point?

    As far as I know, they wouldn’t and don’t. That’s my point. Asking a question like the following would be an example of approaching the subject metaphysically:

    After chance & law what is left besides intelligent agency?

  136. Asking a question like the following would be an example of approaching the subject metaphysically:

    After chance & law what is left besides intelligent agency?

    Why? Because YOU say so?

    Is THAT your argument- a declaration- and a bald one at that?

    Ya see an intelligent agency is a PHYSICAL thing. They exist in the PHYSICAL world. They leave PHYSICAL traces which can be detected via physical processes

    Or are you claiming that archaeology is a metaphysical venue?

    Dembski’s approach to ID, on the other hand, hinges on the metaphysical nature of intelligence.

    No, it does NOT. Ya see it is Wm Dembski who qualified the word “intelligence” to differentiate between optimal and apparent design.

    But what does it mean to not be reducible to law+chance?

    It means EXACTLY what I have been telling you.

    Let’s see law & chance produce an automobile.

    Or heck, Stonehenge is made up of stones. Let’s see chance & law put something like that together.

    Until then we do have an understanding of what nature, operating freely can and cannot do. And we have experience with what designing agencies can do.

    So we couple that knowledge to either come to a design inference or not.

    Again, I challenge the assumption that foresight is not reducible to law and chance.

    Challenge it all you want but until you can provide a demonstration it is an empty challenge.

    However I challenge you to provide a testable hypothesis based on undirected processes.

  137. The project seeks to detect simple, but anomalous, signals that seem more likely to be of technological origin than some other origin.

    They may be “happy” with that but if they detect something more complex are they going to ignore it?

    By your “logic” they would.

  138. Rob:
    “Dembski’s approach to ID, on the other hand, hinges on the metaphysical nature of intelligence.”

    Maybe intelligence does have a metaphysical nature, maybe it doesn’t. That honestly doesn’t concern me and according to the definition I use, it makes no difference to the subject of detecting intelligence.

    Rob:
    “If intelligence is reducible to law+chance, his filter doesn’t work.”

    Not sure exactly how you are using the term “reducible.” If law and chance absent previous intelligence can produce intelligence then yes, the filter does not work. This is why ID Theory is falsifiable.

    Rob:
    “If ID depends on the murky idea of libertarian free will, it’s not on very solid scientific footing IMO.”

    I agree, and I see no reason why intelligent design need have anything to do with free will of any sort. The concept of intelligence relies more on foresight, which does exist whether we are free in our foresight or not.

    Rob:
    “I’m confused about whether we’re discussing “intelligence (foresight)” vs. “just law+chance” in the operation of a system or in the production of a system.”

    Intelligence operates via law, chance, and CSI (highly improbable, specified organization of law and chance). The system then uses foresight to produce its effects.

    CJYman: But, what about those patterns which can be described by both high improbability and functional specificity (not mere regularity) thus ruling out both chance and law respectively as described mathematically?

    Rob:
    “If chance and law cover the entire entropic spectrum, then there is nothing else by definition. (Technically, chance covers the whole spectrum. As Dembski pointed out in both TDI and NFL, regularity is just a special case of chance, just like real numbers are a special case of complex numbers.)”

    Sure, technically, pure chance should be able to explain everything, but then we would have no understanding of law, cause and effect, or the intelligence necessary to write an essay. So, it comes down to finding the best explanation. Sure, we could say that our conversation is nothing but chance processes because of the high contingency of our conversation, but high contingency can also point to something else that we both know is necessary, alongside law and chance to produce this conversation — that is foresight. What point to I wish to get across to you in the future and how do I manipulate matter and energy in order to accomplish that goal?

    Furthermore, the point I was attempting to get across to you is that high improbability along with specificity should eliminate chance. Furthermore, functional specificity (not mere regularity) eliminates law. So, once these two concepts of complexity and specificity are combined we should be able to eliminate both law and chance, *absent something else.* So far, no one has shown otherwise. So, what is that *something else* which needs to operate alongside chance and law to produce CSI?

    Rob:
    “Again, I challenge the assumption that foresight is not reducible to law and chance.”

    And I ask you to provide any evidence that law and chance operating absent previous foresight can produce intelligence. If CSI can’t even be created absent intelligence, how is intelligence to be created absent previous intelligence? The mathematics behind Dembski’s formulation of a COnservation of Information Theorem, and the subsequent work on active information seems to back up the hypothesis that neither CSI much less intelligence can be “purchased” without previous intelligence.

  139. Rob:
    “Asking a question like the following would be an example of approaching the subject metaphysically:

    After chance & law what is left besides intelligent agency?”

    That question is not metaphysical if you can measure chance as statistical randomness, measure chance and law as chaos with pockets of regularities (algorithmic compressibility), and measure chance, law, and intelligence as CSI.

    As long as you are clear in your definitions and measurements, you are not dealing in metaphysics.

  140. Joseph: Ya see an intelligent agency is a PHYSICAL thing.

    I don’t know what you mean by that. If intelligent agency derives strictly from brain activity, which consists of particles acting according to the laws of physics, then it follows that intelligent agency reduces to law and chance. I’m not saying this is the case, but I don’t see how you can assume an alternative without crossing into metaphysics.

    Challenge it all you want but until you can provide a demonstration it is an empty challenge.

    A demonstration of what? You’re the one making the assumption, not me. I’m not saying you’re right or wrong, I’m just asking for your justification.

    However I challenge you to provide a testable hypothesis based on undirected processes.

    I would need to know, in scientific terms, what you mean by “undirected”. As far as I know, hypotheses that entail probability distributions should be testable for any repeatable process.

  141. Do you ever find yourselves confronted by an assertion so patently absurd that you find yourself at a loss for words? That is what I feel when I read this discussion on the definition of “intelligence”. Presumably, the people writing these absurdities consider themselves intelligent, and no doubt they are, but if you reason from incoherent premises you will arrive at incoherent conclusions, no matter how sound your method.

    Modern intelletual thought is primarily reductionist, quite literally a “can’t see the forest for the trees” type of thinking. C. S. Lewis called it “nothing buttery” thinking. So life is “nothing but” complex chemistry which has led to an inability to define what is life. Mind is “nothing but” a emanation of the electo-chemical firing of synapses in the brain, so mind is an illusion. Intelligence is “nothing but” the sum of synaptical in activity, therefore difference in intelligence is quantitatve. Hence the rush to measure the size of the brain case in every new hominid discovery to calculate its relative intelligence. We might call it neo-phrenology.

    If a worm has a few hundred thousand synapses and responds to stimuli, it is more “intelligent” than an amoeba with a few thousand such synapses and less intelligent than a dog with a few billion. It is entirely quantitative, there is no consideration of quality.

    And yet, there exists a qualitative difference between human intelligence and the “intelligence” exibited by the beasts of the field. You cannot sit down with your cat and discuss the fine points of a definition of intelligence. We don’t find them writing books on the philosophy of life, and there is precious little evidence that they have a capacity for reflective thought.

    Should you seriously desire a definition of “intelligence” I took a virtual trip to “dictionary.com” and found this…

    intelligence–noun1. capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.

    To put this into context, consider the following quote from G. K. Chesterton’s “The Everlasting Man”

    “It is useless to begin by saying that everything was slow and smooth and a mere matter of development and degree. For in the plain matter like the pictures there is in fact not a trace of any such development or degree. Monkeys did not begin pictures and men finish them; Pithecanthropus did not draw a reindeer badly and Homo Sapiens draw it well. The higher animals did not draw better and better portraits; the dog did not paint better in his best period than in his early bad manner as a jackal; the wild horse was not an Impressionist and the race-horse a Post-Impressionist. All we can say of this notion of reproducing things in shadow or representative shape is that it exists nowhere in nature except in man; and that we cannot even talk about it without treating man as something separate from nature.”

  142. 142

    dgosse….thank you.

  143. Both ID and SETI specify demarcation points. ID’s is based on what can be generated by current knowledge of chance and law and -only- then infer design by a process by elimination. SETI’s demarcation point is based upon what frequencies can be generated by chance and law and -only- then using this background knowledge to infer design using a subset of specified frequencies that a extraterrestrial civilization would most likely use (again, a process by elimination)

    “I gave clear evidence from a SETI source that SETI operates by trying to get into the mind of E.T. There are a gazillion signals radio-astronomers can tell you they have not observed, and do not expect to observe, and SETI is not looking for all of them. The project has decided that it would transmit a particular kind of physically anomalous signal in order to get E.T.’s attention, and is assuming that E.T. will think the same way if he/she/it wants to contact us. This fits ever so neatly with what Steve Fuller has written about trying to get into the mind of God.”

    SETI makes assumptions and so does ID. Its a non-starter to apply any tests on biological functions that don’t do something human intelligence is not already familiar with (thats not to say that tests cannot be performed via non familiarity). For example, if ID didn’t already know something about complex systems and processes but knew about a bacterial flagellum or a ATP synthase ID would not bother making inferences as to its source. But since we already have background knowledge about complex systems that intelligence can and does produce everyday then ID becomes viable and testable since an additional variable (what we know as “intelligence”) can and must be added to the equation.

    Same with SETI, if SETI had no background knowledge on types of signals intelligence can produce then neither the signals could be propagated by SETI nor detected by extraterrestrial civilizations. Some priori knowledge is used in both cases as to what intelligence can presently produce and what chance and law can presently produce.

    I don’t see whats so hard to understand about that.

  144. Ya see an intelligent agency is a PHYSICAL thing.

    I don’t know what you mean by that.

    Humans are intelligent agencies, as are beavers, ants, termites, bees, etc. Can we see them? Yes. Can we touch them? Yes.

    They are physical things.

    If intelligent agency derives strictly from brain activity, which consists of particles acting according to the laws of physics, then it follows that intelligent agency reduces to law and chance.

    It doesn’t follow at all. To be reducible to chance and law means that chance and law can account for it.

    Is there ANY data which demonstrates chance and law can account for living organisms? No.

    And just what about those laws? can chance and law account for them? No.

    I’m not saying this is the case, but I don’t see how you can assume an alternative without crossing into metaphysics.

    So this all boils down to what you “don’t see”?

    That is not a scientific stance.

    However I challenge you to provide a testable hypothesis based on undirected processes.

    I would need to know, in scientific terms, what you mean by “undirected”.

    As I have said many times- nature, operating freely, ie WITHOUT agency involvement.

  145. Rob:
    “I don’t know what you mean by that. If intelligent agency derives strictly from brain activity, which consists of particles acting according to the laws of physics, then it follows that intelligent agency reduces to law and chance. I’m not saying this is the case, but I don’t see how you can assume an alternative without crossing into metaphysics.”

    I’ve already responded to this, IMO adequately in #138. Even if intelligence is perfectly physical and operates according to law and chance, there is still something extra that needs to be accounted for. The thing that needs to be accounted for is the highly improbable and functionally specified organization necessary for the brain to produce foresight. This type of organization has been mathematically quantified as CSI. Until it is shown that law and chance, absent previous intelligence can account for CSI (much less intelligence itself) we can only invoke intelligence (as I have defined it above) to explain CSI or further intelligence since foresight is routinely used to generated CSI. Moreover, as I have already explained, operating on best explanations, CSI rules out chance and law because it is both highly improbable and specified and not merely described by regularities (algorithmic compressibility).

    In reality, the only option we have available to us is intelligence which routinely does produce CSI and intelligent systems, because its organization (foundation of CSI) allows for it. Is there another viable option that can be brought forward? According to Dembski’s formulation of Conservation of Information and work on active information, there seems to be a no go theorem as to what law and chance can produce absent previous intelligence.

    Rob:
    “A demonstration of what? You’re the one making the assumption, not me.”

    A demonstration of law and chance absent previous intelligence generating intelligence or even the smallest amount of CSI.

    Joseph and my assumption is well founded on Dembski’s formulation of COnservation of Information and the on going work with active information. Simply put, something with the amount of high improbability and functional specificity as intelligence requires at least that same amount of high improbability and specificity to produce said intelligence. You and I can discuss this if you wish, however, please refrain from implying that it is a mere assumption. At the very worst it is a mathematically based hypothesis which is falsifiable and so far has not produced any false positive. That much can not even be said of the SETI program, yet it is considered science.

    Joseph:
    “However I challenge you to provide a testable hypothesis based on undirected processes.”

    Rob:
    “I would need to know, in scientific terms, what you mean by “undirected”. As far as I know, hypotheses that entail probability distributions should be testable for any repeatable process.”

    Any combination of chance and law absent the application of previous foresight is seen as undirected for the purposes of the ID Hypothesis.

  146. IOW, see if a filter based on background noise and an arbitrary collection of laws applied to more background noise and an arbitrary collection of laws can produce CSI, much less intelligence.

  147. Methinks the laddie doth protest too rudely.

    My main point, highly relevant to this thread, and the one that cries out to be addressed, is that there is nothing “intelligent” in the signals SETI hopes to detect — not in the signals themselves.

    Every physical search process — and SETI certainly implements one — operates with limited resources. (The costs of search are definitely not limited to “information costs.”) The bias in the SETI search for certain simple signals is quintessentially Bayesian (subjective). SETI researchers exhibit prior belief that the chances are good (think of the speculative Drake equation) that some E.T. civilization has received radio signals from earth and is trying to transmit a radio signal to earth that we will suspect is technological in origin. There is a huge element of “we think that they think that we think that they think…” (i.e., reflection predicated on similarity of us and them).

    So, as DaveScot points out, SETI does not have the magical ability to explore exhaustively a huge search space. It must somehow bias its search, and that bias comes from “trying to get into the mind of E.T.” How would the E.T. civilization help SETI with its search? Well, what alternative is there but to ponder how we would proceed if the table were turned? If E.T. thinks in ways that are utterly alien to us, then the problem of second-guessing him/her/it is insoluble, and selection of a search bias is futile.

    A carrier wave or an optical burst can be detected with a low-cost trial. So the SETI search is biased in favor of low-cost trials under the assumption that E.T. would make the search cheap for SETI. BTW, it makes sense for SETI to assume that an E.T. civilization is not willing to devote huge resources to contacting us.

  148. I have used the word bias many times in this thread, and my general point is that discovery and learning require bias. The feeling in the seat of your pants that bias is wrong in science is wrong. The empirical observations you choose to make are a matter of bias, and what you allow them to “say” to you is also a matter of bias.

    The uninspected bias is not worth applying.

  149. dgosse (141):

    Excellent post, not because I agree, but because your objections are clear and well articulated.

    Do you ever find yourselves confronted by an assertion so patently absurd that you find yourself at a loss for words? That is what I feel when I read this discussion on the definition of “intelligence”.

    I find patently absurd the notion that every concept we invoke in casual discourse makes for a useful scientific construct. If science addresses everything we experience, then it addresses nothing well. That is why I use the image of a “workhorse in blinders” so often for science.

    I have seen so many “scientific definitions” of intelligence fly 50 feet, crash, and burn. In fact, it is more or less standard today to teach artificial intelligence students how radically the definition of AI has changed over time. In the 1950s, translators of higher-level programming languages were sometimes referred to as “automatic programming” systems, and were treated as intelligent systems because they did what had previously been done by “intelligent” human programmers. Now no one considers a programming-language translator as an example of an “intelligent system” today. There are scads of similar examples. Someone eventually “defined” artificial intelligence as the attempt to get computers to do what only humans are presently able to do. “Intelligence” is a moving target. “Intelligent systems” don’t seem intelligent when we understand how they work.

    To boil that down, I am saying that intelligence has a long history of resistance to definition. The claim that any scientist who wants to make much of the term carries a heavy definitional burden is not rhetorical contention, but a matter of experience.

    Most of my graduate training was in so-called artificial intelligence. My advantage over some of my colleagues is not merely that I’ve watched philosophically half-baked ideas about what would make a computational system “really intelligent” come and go for 25 years, but that I began with a psychologist’s rigorous perspective on the concept as a hypothetical construct.

  150. dgosse,

    And yet, there exists a qualitative difference between human intelligence and the “intelligence” exibited by the beasts of the field. You cannot sit down with your cat and discuss the fine points of a definition of intelligence.

    Nor can you with an autistic savant. Care to dehumanize those people? And you can’t train a human to do the criminal investigative work dogs do. Humans are not as “intelligent” as dogs in olfactory processing. It has nothing to do with noses, and everything to do with olfactory bulbs of brains. Humans cannot build structures that are as large, relative to their body size, as African termites do. If you are not familiar with the elaborate structure of the mounds that blind, individually “dumb” termites produce through “collective intelligence,” you might want to look into it before responding.

    How, precisely, did you earn those scare quotes you put around the “intelligence” of non-human species? ID cannot have its “intelligence is natural” cake and eat it too. Do humans stand outside nature, or do they not? Or are you going to slip into the mode of telling me what is “really intelligent”?

    intelligence–noun1. capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.

    Evidently you ARE trying to tell me what’s “really intelligent.” Reminds me of sitting on a hard pew on a Sunday morning, listening to a preacher invoke Saint Webster to pronounce the “real meaning” of a pivotal word in the sermon. The “definition” also makes me think of Yul Brenner in “The King and I”: “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…” Do you actually believe that this clears things up?

    One of the points in my case against the scientific utility of intelligence is that scientists always have more specific terms to apply to what they are investigating. I have studied learning, not intelligence, in humans, rats, and computers. I have implemented, and had my students implement, various approaches to knowledge representation and reasoning in computers. My earliest work in “machine intelligence” was in natural language processing, and that segued into research in speech recognition and learning. The term “machine intelligence” does no more than identify my research area. It tells you nothing about what I actually do.

    I’ve focused on “machine intelligence” here, but I can tell you that psychologists usually identify what they study with a term more specific than intelligence.

  151. Hi Sal Gal

    I can appreciate your reluctance to commit yourself to yet another poorly structured definition of “intelligence” when I consider some of the nonsensical ideas about mind, intelligence, and knowledge that are presently being passed off as “scientific”, but the definition I have in mind (if there is such a thing as “mind”) is one that has been recognized by both philosophers and lay people for thousands of years. It is not some new attempt to squeeze the human capacity to grasp concepts and abstractions from nature into a self referentially incoherent materialistic framework.

    AI may someday be feasible, but I remember watching a TV program when it was in its heyday wherein the researchers were beginning to discover the limitations of their constructs. Interestingly, as they tried to mimic human thought and action, they were learning a great deal about human cognition and perception. There were repeated references to the astoundingly complex integration of human cognitive systems. In a word, they had pretty much discovered intelligence is something more than adding more RAM or a bigger hard drive.

    Unfortuantely, some have responded by downgrading intelligence to the parlor trick of a Turing test. If we can develop a program that mimics intelligence well enough to fool someone in another room, then we can call it intelligence.

    Do you see the contradiction in that statement? We must know what intelligence is before we can determine if a program can mimic it. Which presupposes that we do know what intelligence is. The “hard problem” of mind and intelligence is that if we admit that it is what it appears to be, then we find it has metaphysical implications that subsantially discredit the materialist framework. Much better if we can reduce it to a parlor trick.

    We see the same contradiction in some of the theories of mind, wherein the theorist explains that mind is nothing more than a buzz caused by the synaptical chemistry of the brain. However, if mind is reducable to chemistry then we have no foundation of which to suppose that the theories we develop are representative of any objective reality. The same could be said for Dawkins’ speculative “meme” which, presumably, is responsible for his claiming that memes exist, however, if his speculation about memes has substance then it abolishes the rational mind.

    I do not claim that the reductionists are necessarily wrong, only that if they are right then there is no “reason” to believe that their theories have any relation to “reality.” Each of them has used their intelligence to construct a theory that denies the existence of the that intelligence. Personally, I have invested too much time in thinking to endorse their view.

  152. Hi Sal Gal

    Nor can you with an autistic savant.

    A generalization about humans does not necessarily hold true for every individual human. If I write that men are taller than women it is fallacious for you to argue that George is only 4’6” so men are not taller than women.

    Care to dehumanize those people?
    I have not said that persons lacking apparent rational capacities are not human, only that humans, all other things being equal, are the only creatures that appear to exibit the qualities of rational thought (intelligence).

    And you can’t train a human to do the criminal investigative work dogs do. Humans are not as “intelligent” as dogs in olfactory processing.

    As someone once said, you train animals and you teach humans. I can’t do mathematical calculations as fast as the computer I am using, does that make the computer intelligent? What about my adding machine?

    If you are not familiar with the elaborate structure of the mounds that blind, individually “dumb” termites produce through “collective intelligence,” you might want to look into it before responding.

    And I am certain the blueprints they work from are equally astounding.

    Do humans stand outside nature, or do they not?

    Isn’t that the 64,000 dollar question?

    The “definition” also makes me think of Yul Brenner in “The King and I”: “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…” Do you actually believe that this clears things up?

    What, specifically, do you find objectionable to the definition, other than the irrelevant and apparently emotive memory of “sitting on a hard pew on a Sunday morning, listening to a preacher invoke Saint Webster to pronounce the “real meaning” of a pivotal word in the sermon.”

    Is there some particular objection to the definition?

    It tells you nothing about what I actually do.

    I have no doubt that you are extremely intelligent and well educated. No matter how solid your reasoning, false premises will lead to false conclusions, and one of the false premises is that intelligence is quantitative rather than qualitative. “The least error in the beginning is magnified a thousandfold in the end.” Aristotle

    Have you ever read J. Budziwzewski “Escape From Nililism”. It can be found on the web. Here he writes of himself;

    “Though it always comes as a surprise to intellectuals, there are some forms of stupidity that one must be highly intelligent and educated to commit.”

  153. dgosse (151):

    I believe that the philosophy of mind is very important. (In fact, consciousness is at the center of my personal philosophy.) But not every subject of interest can be investigated empirically. To devalue mind or consciousness because it is not a scientific entity is to grossly overvalue science.

    Mind, like consciousness, in intrinsically private. There is no empirical observation of the mind. The fact that you and I can give similar verbal reports (which make for empirical data) on our private (subjective) experiences does not make the experiences themselves empirically (publicly, “objectively”) accessible.

    However, if mind is reducable to chemistry then we have no foundation of which to suppose that the theories we develop are representative of any objective reality.

    1. Reduction of mind to chemistry is nothing but pursuit of a philosophical agenda. And it is quite a muddled pursuit, at that, for if mind reduces to chemistry, then there really is no need for the term mind at all. This is just an underhanded way of asserting philosophical naturalism. In contrast, a methodological naturalist says that mind can be addressed in science only with operational definition in terms of empirically observable phenomena. There is no claim as to what mind “really is,” but as to what science really does.

    2. I contend that all Truth is subjective (intrinsically private), and that the “objective reality” we arrive at by social processes (e.g., science) is merely a body of shared belief. I have the capacity to recognize truth in another person’s account of private experience, and so do you. But the process by which we do so is nothing like empirical science. This perhaps gives a better idea of why I value religion, philosophy, art, music, and literature more highly in my personal life than science. Again, science is a workhorse in blinders.

  154. Hi Sal Gal

    I believe that the philosophy of mind is very important

    As do I. I am pleased to see that we are approaching common ground. At the risk of sounding silly, philosophies of mind affect how we think about ourselves and our place in the world. Some philosophies have unpleasant consequences.

    (In fact, consciousness is at the center of my personal philosophy.)

    In what sense? Do you have a public philosophy? If so, how does one affect the other?

    Mind, like consciousness, in intrinsically private. There is no empirical observation of the mind.

    If by empirical you mean we cannot pick it up and weigh it and measure, then yes, “there is no empirical observation of mind” in that sense, however…

    The fact that you and I can give similar verbal reports (which make for empirical data) on our private (subjective) experiences does not make the experiences themselves empirically (publicly, “objectively”) accessible.

    I suggest that making a verbal (or written) report does make the experience or observation public. There are indeed certain phenomona associated with the experience that are subjective, such as the personal thrill we feel at a successful experiment, but the logical chain of thought and physical result the experiment are both open to public scrutiny.

    1. Reduction of mind to chemistry is nothing but pursuit of a philosophical agenda. And it is quite a muddled pursuit, at that, for if mind reduces to chemistry, then there really is no need for the term mind at all.

    I couldn’t have said it better myself, in fact, I have often said it far less succinctly. 8^> The sad fact is that such reductionist ideas are common currency in what passes for “intellectual” thought today. It leads to some rather bizarre conversations… (You have a mind. Do not. Yes, really, you do. Do not! Do too! Do not!)

    2. I contend that all Truth is subjective (intrinsically private), and that the “objective reality” we arrive at by social processes (e.g., science) is merely a body of shared belief.

    Ar you absolutely sure about that? Is that a True statement? Does the observation that all Truth is subjective assert that the Truth I believe is also purely subjective? If so, then there is at least one truth that is objective and universal. If we can uncover one universal truth then the potential exists that we might uncover more universal truths.

    …and that the “objective reality” we arrive at by social processes (e.g., science) is merely a body of shared belief.

    Please, reconsider this statement. There are implications embedded in this that you cannot (or at least, should not) embrace. Particularly if you are a scientist seeking to uncover truths about the world in which we live or a teacher imparting knowledge to the next generation.

  155. I kind of wonder what kind of a tool was used by intelligence to tell it self it is indeed intelligent.Is it contagious?

    I think they make you join MENSA 8^>

  156. It’s right next door to the restaurant at the end of the universe. The home of endless endings.

  157. Want to know something that has to be one of the most kept”INTELLIGENT”secrets of our governments?Space travel.I don`t have an inside visual imagination,but for those who do,imagine what kind of electronics they say they have to measure “ACCURATELY” enough the measurement there in miles,in in calendar time,in fuel capacity,in visual and audio contact,in robotic perfect control and in radar directional homed in on what headed to the “OUTER LIMITS” successfully televised believed and Cellphone use in places in adip won`t work because satelites aren`t developed yet to help the stupids back here on EARTH?!Would that be considered an “INTELLIGENT DESIGN to fool the STUPID NATURAL?” I am glad that that I am a STUPID CRAZY and not considering myself as an INTELLIGENT DESIGN.It`s kind of like sending tax dollars to HELL to put toward distinguishing an eternal fire that evaporates liquid half way there.Wonder if we could trade some metal GARBAGE and GOLDEN TACKS for some of Hell`s fire sit under some donkeys behinds to change their empty brains that an economy needs transportation systems,friendly,safely useable as a “TOP” priority,atleast here in Canada where they should also be GOLDEN.They can travel to the outer limits with their golden jets for very little fuel(ALSO need to generate heatvery cold>and electricity for headlights to see in the dark for their generators).”INTELLIGENT DESIGN”helped the wasteful while the stupid natural could only look on. “INTELLIGENT DESIGN just keeps getting more desireable to defend and be proud of,doesn`t it? ^$$^

  158. Joseph: As I have said many times- nature, operating freely, ie WITHOUT agency involvement.

    Does anyone else here consider this a scientific definition? If so, could someone please tell me what branch of science I can research to find the definition of “agency”?

    I think that this kind of vague and equivocal terminology is partly to blame for the poor communication between Joseph, CJYman, and myself. Some statements also confuse me as to whether they refer to the behavior of a system or the origin of the system. CJYman’s response to Dembski’s point about the redundancy of “law+chance” showed that we’re talking right past each other.

    I don’t know how to interpret the terms “law”, “chance”, “intelligence”, “foresight”, and “design” in a way that renders this discussion coherent. Maybe answers to a few questions will help me to concretize the terms:

    (In the following questions, I use the word “computer” to mean the whole package of hardware+software.)

    1. If a computer can make predictions, does it have foresight?

    2. If a computer can decide from different courses of action based on its predictions, does it have intelligence?

    3. If the above computer can also improve its track record over time by forming generalizations from its own experience, does it have intelligence?

    4. Can a computer design software?

    5. If not, why not?

    6. If so, should the resulting software be attributed to law+chance, or design?

    7. Is the next state of a human brain determined by its current state plus any inputs from sensory receptors, Penfield’s electrode, etc.?

    8. If not, is there also an indeterministic factor in the state transition?

    9. Are there any factors that are neither deterministic nor indeterministic?

    10. How do we determine that humans are designers and not merely conduits of CSI?

    Thanks in advance.

  159. Joseph: Is there ANY data which demonstrates chance and law can account for living organisms? No.

    I don’t know whether you’re saying that chance and law can’t account for the behavior of living organisms or the origin of living organisms. Regardless, data has nothing to do with my question, which was a hypothetical IF. I explicitly said that I wasn’t claiming that this was the case.

    So this all boils down to what you “don’t see”?

    That is not a scientific stance.

    Of course it’s not a scientific stance. I saying that I can’t see how your position is not metaphysical. If you could state your position in scientific terms, then I would see.

  160. “Evolution names Adam`s wife as a deer John.??

  161. CJYman: Moreover, as I have already explained, operating on best explanations, CSI rules out chance and law because it is both highly improbable and specified and not merely described by regularities (algorithmic compressibility).

    I don’t know where you got the idea that algorithmic compressibility does not by itself entail specificity (along with CINDE, TRACT, and DELIM of course). Do you think that something extremely simple but non-functional, like a rectangular monolith, is not specified? You’re incorrect in thinking that specificity’s role is to rule out law/regularity/necessity. Check out the EF.

    The mathematics behind Dembski’s formulation of a COnservation of Information Theorem, and the subsequent work on active information seems to back up the hypothesis that neither CSI much less intelligence can be “purchased” without previous intelligence.

    Needless to say, it doesn’t seem that way to me at all, but I don’t have any issues to bring up that haven’t already been pointed out by Dembski’s critics.

    Simply put, something with the amount of high improbability and functional specificity as intelligence requires at least that same amount of high improbability and specificity to produce said intelligence. You and I can discuss this if you wish, however, please refrain from implying that it is a mere assumption.

    Where did I imply that? If I were to talk about conservation of CSI I would say that it’s simply wrong, not that it’s an assumption. For one thing, specificity is relative to a specifying agent and can easily increase via a deterministic function, eg a decrypter. (And yes, I know how Dembski says that the encrypted string is specified in terms of the encrypter and the decrypted string, but that requires that the specifying agent know about the encrypter, so the LCI is not universal. It also requires that the encrypter have zero descriptional complexity in order to conserve specificity.)

  162. kanttoockthahhwokspeedingpelphnope?P

  163. Dear Joan(J0hn).It is the Eve(evolution) tomorrow of Adam`s and your celebration of of your first child.You must be so happy.When we last talked you said that if you had twins,you would name them Able for the first and Cain for the second.Running out of ink,write us.Love you all.

  164. Dear Eye:Thank you for your letter.Adam and I(Eye)did give birth to twins but unfortunately Cain`s biblelic cord choked Able apparently just before they were born.Our mid wife said that this happens quite often.Able is just the spitting image of his father and we are all healthy.Sending you some extra ink.Love ya all.

  165. Would illerate visual thieves understand how to read between the lines or look at the callendar that doesn`t exist for a date or their watch that didn`t exist for atime that didn`t exist?It must atleast have been daylight,YES?

Leave a Reply