Home » Atheism, Design inference, Functionally Specified Complex Information & Organization, ID Foundations, Philosophy, Science, worldview issues and society, They said it . . . » ID Foundations, 21: MF — “as a materialist I believe intelligence to be a blend of the determined and random so for me that is not a third type of explanation” . . . a root worldview assumption based cause for rejecting the design inference emerges into plain view

ID Foundations, 21: MF — “as a materialist I believe intelligence to be a blend of the determined and random so for me that is not a third type of explanation” . . . a root worldview assumption based cause for rejecting the design inference emerges into plain view

In the OK thread, in comment 50, ID objector Mark Frank has finally laid out the root of ever so many of the objections to the design inference filter. Unsurprisingly, it is a worldview based controlling a priori of materialism:

[re EA] #38

[MF, in 50:] I see “chance” as usually meaning to “unpredictable” or “no known explanation”. The unknown explanations may be deterministic elements or genuinely random uncaused events which we just don’t know about.

It can also includes things that happen as the result of intelligence – but as a materialist I believe intelligence to be a blend of the determined and random so for me that is not a third type of explanation.

But, just what what is the explanatory filter that is being objected to so strenuously?

Let me present it first, in the per aspect flowchart form that I have often used here at UD, that shows it to be a more specific and detailed understanding of a lot of empirically grounded scientific methods of investigation.

Galileo's leaning tower exercise, showing mechanical necessity: F = m*g, of course less air resistance. NB: He did a thought expt of imagining the light and heavy ball tied together, so on the "heavier must fall faster" concept, the objects now should fall even faster. But, shouldn't the lighter one instead have retarded the heavier? As in, oopsie. The expt may have been done and the heavier may have hit just ahead, as air resistance is as cross section but weight is as volume. (HT: Lannyland & Wiki.)

Galileo’s leaning tower exercise, showing mechanical necessity: F = m*g, of course less air resistance. NB: He did a thought expt of imagining the light and heavy ball tied together, so on the “heavier must fall faster” concept, the objects now should fall even faster. But, shouldn’t the lighter one instead have retarded the heavier? As in, oopsie. The expt may have been done and the heavier may have hit just ahead, as air resistance is as cross section but weight is as volume. (HT: Lannyland & Wiki.)

One that explicitly invokes mechanical necessity as first default, then on high contingency rejects it — if a lawlike necessity is at work, it will produce reliably similar outcomes on similar initial circumstances, just as a dropped heavy object near earth’s surface has initial acceleration 9.8 N/kg due to the gravity field of the earth.

However, this does not cover all phenomena, e.g. if the dropped object is a fair common die that then falls to a table, it will tumble and settle to read a value from the set {1, 2, . . . 6} in a way that is close to the mathematical behaviour of an ideal flat random variable.

But also, chance and necessity cannot cover all outcomes. Not only do we routinely experience being intelligent designers — e.g. by my composing this post — but we often see a class of phenomena which is highly contingent but not plausibly accounted for on chance. For, if we see 500 – 1,000 bits or more of functionally specific complex organisation and/or information [FSCO/I], the needle in haystack challenge faced by the atomic resources of our solar system or cosmos will be overwhelmed by the space of possible configurations and the challenge of finding cases E from narrow and isolated target or hot zones T in such spaces, W.

 

 

 

Citing Dembski’s definition of CSI in No Free Lunch:

p. 148: “The great myth of contemporary evolutionary biology is that the information needed to explain complex biological structures can be purchased without intelligence. My aim throughout this book is to dispel that myth . . . . Eigen and his colleagues must have something else in mind besides information simpliciter when they describe the origin of information as the central problem of biology.

I submit that what they have in mind is specified complexity [[cf. here below], or what equivalently we have been calling in this Chapter Complex Specified information or CSI . . . .

Biological specification always refers to function . . . In virtue of their function [[a living organism's subsystems] embody patterns that are objectively given and can be identified independently of the systems that embody them. Hence these systems are specified in the sense required by the complexity-specificity criterion . . . the specification can be cashed out in any number of ways [[through observing the requisites of functional organisation within the cell, or in organs and tissues or at the level of the organism as a whole] . . .”

p. 144: [[Specified complexity can be defined:] “. . . since a universal probability bound of 1 [[chance] in 10^150 corresponds to a universal complexity bound of 500 bits of information, [[the cluster] (T, E) constitutes CSI because T [[ effectively the target hot zone in the field of possibilities] subsumes E [[ effectively the observed event from that field], T is detachable from E, and and T measures at least 500 bits of information . . . ”

So, design thinkers reject the default explanation for high contingency– chance — if we see FSCO/I or the like. That is, we infer on FSCO/I and related patterns best explained on (and as known reliable signs of) design, to just that, intelligent design:

Explanatory Filter

Accordingly, I replied to MF at 59 in the OK thread, as follows:

____________

>>> the pivot of the issue is now plain from MF at 50 above:

[re EA] #38

[MF:] I see “chance” as usually meaning to “unpredictable” or “no known explanation”. The unknown explanations may be deterministic elements or genuinely random uncaused events which we just don’t know about.

It can also includes things that happen as the result of intelligence – but as a materialist I believe intelligence to be a blend of the determined and random so for me that is not a third type of explanation.

Here we have the root problem, that for MF, design reduces to chance and necessity.

Also, I would not go along fully with MF’s definition of chance {“uncaused events” is a very troublesome concept for instance but my focus here is,} having identified that chance processes come about by two major known physical processes:

Chance:

tumbling_dice

Tumbling dice — a chaotic phenomenon thanks to eight corners and twelve edges interacting with uncontrollable surface roughness etc. (HT:Rosendahl, Flicker)

TYPE I: the clash of uncorrelated trains of events such as is seen when a dropped fair die hits a table etc and tumbles, settling to readings in the set {1, 2, . . . 6} in a pattern that is effectively flat random. In this sort of event, we often see manifestations of sensitive dependence on initial conditions, aka chaos, intersecting with uncontrolled or uncontrollable small variations yielding a result predictable in most cases only up to a statistical distribution which needs not be flat random.

TYPE II: processes — especially quantum ones — that are evidently random, such as quantum tunnelling as is the explanation for phenomena of alpha decay. This is used in for instance zener noise sources that drive special counter circuits to give a random number source. Such are sometimes used in lotteries or the like, or presumably in making one time message pads used in decoding.

In reply to MF’s attempt to reduce design by intelligence to the other two sources of cause, I suggest that this approach radically undermines the credibility of mind as a thinking and knowing function of being intelligent humans, in a reductio ad absurdum. (Cf my remarks here yesterday in reply to Dan Barker’s FFRF and my longstanding observations — in the end they go back to the mid 1980′s in answer to Marxist materialism as well as evolutionary materialism — here on.)

Haldane sums up one of the major problems aptly, in a turn of the 1930′s remark that has often been cited here at UD:

“It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

Let me clip my more extended discussion:

___________

>> 15 –> In short, it is at least arguable that self-referential absurdity is the dagger pointing to the heart of evolutionary materialistic models of mind and its origin . . . . [It can be presented at a much more sophisticated way, cf. Hasker p. 64 on here as an example, also Reppert, Plantinga and others] but without losing its general force, it can also be drawn out a bit in a fairly simple way:

a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

(This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. Such physical causal closure, clearly, implicitly discounts or even dismisses the causal effect of concept formation and reasoning then responsibly deciding, in favour of specifically physical interactions in the brain-body control loop; indeed, some mock the idea of — in their view — an “obviously” imaginary “ghost” in the meat-machine. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. "It works" does not warrant the inference to "it is true."] )

c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this meat-machine picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains that (as the Smith Model illustrates) serve as cybernetic controllers for our bodies.

d: These underlying driving forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [["nature"] and psycho-social conditioning [["nurture"], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. And, remember, the focal issue to such minds — notice, this is a conceptual analysis made and believed by the materialists! — is the physical causal chains in a control loop, not the internalised “mouth-noises” that may somehow sit on them and come along for the ride.

(Save, insofar as such “mouth noises” somehow associate with or become embedded as physically instantiated signals or maybe codes in such a loop. [[How signals, languages and codes originate and function in systems in our observation of such origin -- i.e by design -- tends to be pushed to the back-burner and conveniently forgotten. So does the point that a signal or code takes its significance precisely from being an intelligently focused on, observed or chosen and significant alternative from a range of possibilities that then can guide decisive action.])

e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely cognitive, conceptual error, but delusion. Borderline lunacy, in short. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be a major illustration of the unreliability of our conceptual reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil's Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence. Reppert brings the underlying point sharply home, in commenting on the “internalised mouth-noise signals riding on the physical cause-effect chain in a cybernetic loop” view:

. . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions. [[Emphases added . . . ]

i: The famous geneticist and evolutionary biologist (as well as Socialist) J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

“It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the conceptualised beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt based on such and (v) the “conclusions” and “choices” (a.k.a. “decisions”) we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to “mere” ill-defined abstractions such as: purpose or truth, or even logical validity.

(NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: in science, one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.) >>
___________

In short, there is a major issue that materialism is inherently and inescapably self referentially incoherent, undermining its whole scheme of reasoning.

That is a big topic itself.

But, when it comes to the issue of debates over the meaning of chance and inferences to design which implicate intelligence, it is an underlying assumption that plainly leads to endless debates.

In this context, however, the case of 500 coins in a row on a table reading all H or alternating H and T or the first 72 characters of this post in ASCII code, strongly shows the difference in capacity of chance and design as sources of configurations that come from independently and simply describable clusters that are deeply isolated in a space of configs that are such that the atomic resources of our solar system cannot credibly search a big enough fraction to make it reasonable to believe one will stumble upon such configs blindly.

In short, there is a major and directly experienced phenomenon to be accounted for, self aware conscious intellect and related capacities we subsume under the term mind. And this phenomenon is manifest in capacity to design, which is as familiar as composing posts in this thread.

Such designs are well beyond the capacity of blind chance and mechanical necessity, so we have good reason to see that intelligence capable of design is as fundamental in understanding our empirical world as chance and as necessity.

Whatever the worldview consequences — and I think they are huge.>>>

____________

In short, it seems that one key root of objections to the design inference is the notion that intelligence needed for design in the end reduces to cumulative effects of blind chance and mechanical necessity.

Only, that runs into significant self referential incoherence challenges.

A safer approach would be to recognise that intelligence indisputably exists and indisputably exerts capacities not credibly observed to emerge from blind chance and mechanical necessity. Indeed, on inductive and analytic — needle in haystack — grounds, it is arguable and compelling that certain phenomena such as FSCO/I are reliable signs of design as cause.

Then, we run into the challenge that from its very roots, cell based life is chock full of such signs of design, starting with the genetic code and the size of genomes, from 100 – 1,000 kbits on up.

Then, the observed cosmos itself shows strong and multiple signs of being fine tuned in ways that enable the existence of cell based life on terrestrial planets such as our own — where fine tuning is another empirically grounded sign of being designed.

So, there are good reasons to extend the force of the design inference to the origin of cell based life and of major body plans for such life, and to the origins of the observed cosmos that hosts such life. END

__________

F/N: I must update by posting this all too aptly accurate debate summary by no less than UD’s inimitable WJM, done here on Christmas day as a gift to the blog and world. WJM, I CANNOT let this one just wash away in the stream of comments! (You ought to separately headline it under your monicker.) Here goes:

Typical debate with an anti-ID advocate:

ID advocate: There are certain things that exist that are best explained by intelligent designed.

Anti-ID advocate: Whoa! Hold up there, fella. “Explained”, in science, means “caused by”. Intelligent design doesn’t by itself “cause” anything.

ID advocate: What I meant is that teleology is required to generate certain things, like a functioning battleship. It can’t come about by chance.

Anti-ID advocate: What do you mean “by chance”? “By” means to cause. Are you claiming that chance causes things to happen?

ID advocate: Of course not. Chance, design and necessity are the three fundamental categories of causation used to characterize the outcomes of various processes and mechanisms. You’re taking objection with colloquialisms that are commonly used in mainstream science and debate. Here are some examples of peer-reviewed, published papers that use these same colloquialisms.

Anti-ID advocate: Those aren’t real scientists!

ID advocate: Those are scientists you yourself have quoted in the past – they are mainstream Darwinists.

Anti-ID advocate: Oh. Quote mining! You’re quote mining!

ID advocate: I’m using the quotes the same way the authors used them.

Anti-ID advocate: Can you prove it?

ID Advocate: It’s not my job to prove my own innocence, but whatever. Look, it has been accepted for thousands of years that there are only three categories of causation – necessity, or law, chance and artifice, or design. Each category is distinct.

Anti ID advocate: I have no reason to accept that design is a distinct category.

ID advocate: So, you’re saying that battleship or a computer can be generated by a combination of necessity (physical laws) and chance?

Anti-ID advocate: Can you prove otherwise? Are you saying it’s impossible?

ID advocate: No, I’m saying that chance and necessity are not plausible explanations.

Anti-ID advocate: “Explanation” means to “cause” a thing. Chance and necessity don’t “cause” anything.

ID advocate: We’ve already been over this. Those are shorthand ways of talking about processes and mechanisms that produce effects categorized as lawful or chance.

Anti-ID advocate: Shorthand isn’t good enough – we must have specific uses of terms using explicitly laid-out definitions or else debate cannot go forward.

ID advocate: (insert several pages lay out specifics and definitions with citations and historical references).

ID advocate: In summary, this demonstrates that mainstream scientists have long accepted that there are qualitative difference between CSI, or organized, complimentary complexity/functionality, and what can in principle be generated via the causal categories of chance and necessity. Only intelligent or intentional agency is known to be in principle capable of generating such phenomena.

Anti-ID advocate: OMG, you can’t really expect me to read and understand all of that! I don’t understand the way you word things. Is English your first language? It makes my head hurt.

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585 Responses to ID Foundations, 21: MF — “as a materialist I believe intelligence to be a blend of the determined and random so for me that is not a third type of explanation” . . . a root worldview assumption based cause for rejecting the design inference emerges into plain view

  1. KF: you cannot reason with the sounds/scribblings a system governed by law and chance generates. You might as well debate the rustling of leaves in the wind. MF – and all materialists – long ago excused themselves from the table of rational debate. There is no concept too fundamental for them to dismiss in service of their ideology.

    They did not lose their minds; they have deliberately abandoned their minds.

  2. WJM:

    That is why the admission I have headlined is so pivotal.

    MF has plainly stated that he is committed to the non existence of design as an explanatory category as intelligence and design, on materialist premises reduce to chance and necessity.

    In addition, he plainly speaks in terms of uncaused events.

    This pair of admissions rather reminds me of the intransigence of Palestinian Arabs who have committed themselves to the denial of any Jewish roots in the Holy Land, sweeping away all history and archaeology to the contrary. In such minds a Jewish presence in the ME can only ever be an artificial colonial imposition to be removed. And naive Westerners who fail to face this intransigence and defiance of patently valid record and remains, cannot soundly address the problem.

    That is the only comparison that I can think of.

    A highly intelligent educated man posting remarks beyond the reach of blind chance and necessity in which he denies the reality of designing intelligence as a fundamental causal factor. And, in which he poses the notion of causeless events.

    To this last, I say, an event is something that has a beginning and that which has a beginning is contingent on one or more on/off enabling factors and has a cause. As a fire depends on heat, fuel, oxidiser and combustion reaction, such a thing is caused. Even, when we do not know enough to identify sufficient antecedent factors.

    Yes, something like 2 + 3 = 5 has no beginning, depends on no enabling factors and cannot cease so is uncaused. Yes, this points to the category, necessary beings, but such are plainly not material entities. MF has committed himself to the only extant foundational categories being matter, energy, space, time and thence blind combinations thereof.

    Never mind the issue of an observed — the only scientifically observed — cosmos having a beginning, with implication of contingency, and never mind how this credibly extends through multiverse speculations.

    We are at impasse, and we face an intransigence that I believe I have shown cause in the OP above, is fundamentally irrational. With all due respects to an intelligent and educated man.

    And, perhaps now we see the root of his continual assertions as to how he does not understand especially the undersigned but also others here at UD. The clash between worldviews here is not only irreconcilable but I suspect is partly incommensurate.

    I think the only answer is to identify and expose the fundamental absurdities of evolutionary materialism until there is a willingness to start afresh from what we can observe: mechanical necessity, chance and design tracing to designers. Then we can ask questions about how fundamental design is.

    KF

    PS: On worldview construction, cf here on.

  3. KF:

    Thank you for outlining here, again, some fundamental principles.

    MF is at least sincere in describing his views. What I really cannot understand is how reasonable people can really believe that some specific configuration of matter can explain the “emergence” of consciousness and subjective experiences, and of the related experiences of meaning and purpose on which we humans have always built our worldviews (even bad ones, like materialistic reductionist scientism), when words like “consciousness”, “subjective”, “meaning” and “purpose” cannot even be defined in objective terms, least of all explained in objective terms.

    The refusal to accept consciousness and intelligence and purpose as objective components of reality, as “objectively existing subjective experiences”, is one of the tragedies of contemporary “thought”.

    Thank you also for explaining again the two possible types of randomness, because that is a topic which is often cause of confusion.

    The fact remains that no kind of randomness, least of all of determinism, can explain why “I” exist, as a constant subject of all my conscious representations. Or why only that kind of subjective experience can explain the generation of new, original CSI, when even the most sophisticated algorithmic machinery cannot generate that kind of outcome. That is the fruit of conscious cognition and of purposeful output alone. Nothing else in the world can give that fruit.

    I am very happy to wish the best Christmas to you, and to all the friends here, of whatever side.

  4. F/N: I suspect that in practical terms the materialist reductionism challenge to the design inference boils down to rejecting design if it may bring doubt on the materialistic worldview. That is, on matters of origins. The decision having been made a priori as is so with Lewontin and Sagan et al, the situation is just a matter of finding a just so story or set of talking points or distraction and dismissal that will appear plausible to the indoctrinated. A typical pattern being the rhetorical trifecta: red herrings led away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems and set alight through incendiary rhetoric or snide insinuations, to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere. Which, sadly, sounds all too familiar to those of us who have been in and around debates over ID at UD. KF

    PS: In short, we are dealing here with the fallacy of the ideologised, closed and often hostile mind and its characteristic question-begging selective hyperskepticism.

  5. GP: Good to see you commenting, and thanks for some very insightful, packed words full of Christmas goody food for thought. And on the Christmas theme, a merry Christmas to one and all. You must be getting ready for the big day over there in Italy! KF

  6. a blend of the determined and random

    I have a question.

    Given the above position, what is the purpose of dialogue, persuasion, rhetoric etc when it is all just molecules hitting molecules. All is meaningless. Those that hold that certain forms of verbal or other events are all that will lead to a change in acknowledged positions which are just configurations of brain neurons and synapse connections operate in the theatre of the absurd. Sometimes I wonder at the absolute incoherence and self contradiction of this point of view and think that there are indeed some amongst us that are just molecules hitting molecules and can’t help but parrot this illogical line of thinking.

    But if one gets them when they are not observed by the unwashed, they will behave as if a completely different world view operates. So their position is just a dodge and as many have said the only purpose is to vex those here. There is no coherence in the argument that a molecule hitting molecule explanation would explain everything.

    They don’t believe it so why bother to try and convince them. They are trying to con the willing victims of their ruse that they have a serious argument when the argument is self-contradictory. Mark Frank does not believe this so why play along. Or is the purpose of sites like this just to generate long threads of meaningless comments.

  7. Jerry:

    While I do understand your disappointment, do you know how long and hard we have had to address issues for this bottom-line to plainly emerge from one of the chief longstanding objectors here and at TSZ?

    For me, this brings me full circle to where I was c 1985 in handling Marxists and their materialism.

    I think the answer is, this is important for the onlookers.

    And now that we have come to a pivotal admission, it now sets a very clear baseline for future discussion, as the cards are now on the table for all to see.

    And in the end, we are right back at the Lewontin-Sagan ideology:

    [T]he problem is to get [people] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis and notes added. If you have been led to imagine that this is "quote mined" kindly see the fuller citation and notes here.]

    KF

  8. jerry:

    While I certainly agree with you, I would say, however, that Mark certainly “believes” in what he says, at least with his rational mind, because I do think that he is a honest and intelligent man. The fact that his beliefs are indeed inconsistent with his own reality as a human being is all another matter. Billions of human beings have beliefs that are more or less inconsistent with aspects of reality. Some of them (not all!) are honest intelligent people like Mark.

    I think that sharing our beliefs with those who think differently is however worthwhile, especially if done with sincerity and respect. The purpose is not to convince anyone, but just to offer our experience and our thoughts to others. And, obviously, to defend in a honest intellectual confrontation what we believe to be true.

  9. 9

    Consciousness is primary. Some people “see” that. Some don’t. I’ve learn how to determines very quickly if a given person does or not. What can you say to someone who doesn’t? What can you say to a blind man who denies that your experience of color does not exist?

  10. I would say, however, that Mark certainly “believes” in what he says, at least with his rational mind, because I do think that he is a honest and intelligent man.

    I doubt that. I would bet you if you were a fly on the wall (hope you understand the American meaning of this expression) and listened to discussions with others by those who propose such ideas here, you would hear a completely different discussion take place.

    Those who espouse such positions never answer the questions that are proposed to them on evolution or the universe in a straightforward way. There is always evasion, diversion or a listing of a litany of irrelevancies or unsupported facts. So either honesty, or intelligence or both is unsupported by their behavior. Sorry to disagree with you.

    By the way there are some pro-ID people who exhibit the same behavior.

  11. “I think the answer is, this is important for the onlookers.”

    Thank you for that phrase, and thank you for the motivation it provides.

    I have contributed a fair number of comments to the NCSE (National Center for Science Education) blog, in fact was one the earliest commenters there, and as far as I can tell am one of only two contributors taking exception to what NCSE stands for.

    I have been often been discouraged that my writings generate only negative reactions, often times quite insulting remarks. But then I remember why I write in this particular blog; as you say, it “is important for the onlookers.” Then I take a breather and press on. I’m actually surprised they allow dissenting points of view – professor Jerry Coyne certainly does not.

    I have an idea that may explain, at least in part, why there is such intransigence in folks like Coyne, Sagan, Dawkins, Mark Frank and others. I have no way of validating this idea, other that my own experience, and perhaps antidotal stories from others. Here goes, let me know what you think.

    1) First of all, it seems that “evolutionary biologists” are most susceptible to my theorem as follows.
    2) Biology is not a field that lends itself to a practitioner actually designing something, thus design is not a fundamental tool in the toolkit of biologists. The designs a biologist sees are ‘illusions’ or ‘appearances’ of design, but not ‘real’ design .. or at least that’s what he is told.
    3) A PhD level evolutionary biologist spends many, many years in “textbook” and classroom studies under the tutelage of the evolutionary biologist professors proceeding him/her.
    4) Often the brand new PhD biologist enters the teaching staff at a college or university, thus is in a position to pass on the fruits of many years of study.
    5) The newly minted PhD professor is still more than likely unskilled and untrained in the rigors of design.
    6) Thus the typical university professor of evolutionary biology often spends an entire lifetime in academia.
    7) Many biology majors will opt out of the PhD path and enter the real world as teachers of biology, but in many cases still have had no experience in the often painful rigors of design.
    8) Other fields of study such as chemistry, engineering of all sorts, software development, medicine and the many un-degreed operators and maintenance workers toiling in some very complex designed systems such as nuclear aircraft carriers; These areas of toil often require the real-world, hands on experience of design; whether it be in the designing of a new drug, a chemical plant, new or improved petroleum products, or in the case of medicine the necessity to understand the designs of body organs and systems in order to treat the various needs of patients.
    9) Lastly, but by no means the least, is our natural bent towards atheism, the rejection of God, and thus design in nature.

    My own field for close to 40 years was software development. I can speak from personal experience of the difficulties and complexities of design – of the often very long and arduous cycles of; design-implementation-troubleshoot-test … repeated until success is achieved or the project is abandoned.

    Thanks for listening.

  12. It’s not hard to understand materialists. Pascal and Chesterton summed them up quite nicely:

    In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.
    Blaise Pascal

    the man who declares “The modern intellect can no longer accept the primitive doctrines of the Resurrection of the Dead, Transubstantiation, and a Trinitarian Godhead” typically means “I’m sleeping with my neighbor’s wife.”
    Unknown (usually attributed to G.K. Chesterton)

  13. Biology is not a field that lends itself to a practitioner actually designing something,

    Maybe at one time, but not any more. Modern medicine is to a large extent based on design. Designer drugs as well as changes to the genome and maybe the epigenetics on top of genome by various treatments. The drugs include the design of new proteins or proteins not expressed. One of the first was insulin.

    These designer proteins/chemical entities combat the presence of harmful proteins or to do a job that is not available because there is a lack of normal protein expression.

    I would look to anti-ID intransigence more to what Dembski brought up years ago and which Sal re-iterated a few days ago.

    Our critics have, in effect, adopted a zero-concession policy toward intelligent design. According to this policy, absolutely nothing is to be conceded to intelligent design and its proponents. It is therefore futile to hope for concessions from critics.

  14. Folks: A sobering onward exchange. However, we have had a critic who — whatever the exasperation we may have had with him — has intelligence and an education, and has generally been courteous. Here, he has at length given us a worldview level statement, one that allows us to see that it is not just deductions or “quote mined” out of context citations, but a driving presupposition that controls thought that we are dealing with. We must respect the willingness to at length say this plainly. But, while we respect people, we must not allow ideas that are patently not only in error but blindingly so, to dominate discussion or to worse, subtly control from behind the scenes. It is in the open now, let us deal with it. And for one I think the issue of consciousness is a key step, for rocks can have no dreams, so if we are conscious, this is an undeniable, and self evident truth, and not one that we can simply wave away as emergent from computation. Where also computation is haunted by the shadow that it is GIGO controlled, and essentially a mechanical cause-effect expression critically dependent for reliability on the functional organisation imposed from without. No computer is smarter than its programming, and so if we are looking to blind chance and mechanical necessity, from cells to conscious, self aware thinking and reasoning, knowing humans, we are running into major challenges. Indeed, it seems to me our own experience of mindedness is one of the strongest signs that we are more than blind derivatives of rocks turned into colloidal solutions in little sacs we call cells and their extension through electrochemical networks. KF

  15. Very interesting as usual K.

    Have you ever considered gathering these “ID foundation” posts together and publishing them in book form? With a bit of polishing, it could turn out to be a valuable resource.

  16. Quoth the materialist:

    . . . intelligence to be a blend of the determined and random . . .

    And thus every individual who acknowledges intelligence as a real, separate phenomenon need never again be intimidated by the materialist ‘logic’ or for holding a contrary viewpoint.

    It is this kind of stuff that makes it possible to be an intellectually-fulfilled non-materialist. :)

  17. In order to understand the atheist we just have to reach inside ourselves. Whenever we doubt our beliefs it is our “inner atheist” who is the cause.
    Mine is a sociopathic nihilist, beyond fear of death, who preys upon my deepest and dearest longings. A kindred spirit to Susan Blackmore who’s sole purpose in life, after she became a ‘sceptic’, seems to be to bereave people of their vulnerable believe in life after death.
    I’ve chosen to fight the devils inside me. Alternatively one can embrace them – like Susan and her ilk do.

    This reminds me of a line I once read, I forgot the name of the author:
    “Father are there devils inside me? Yes my son, they are tremendous and abundant”

    >> Merry Christmas to all! <<

  18. Folks:

    A Merry Christmas to one and all, not too much of turkey and pudding or the bottled spirits of cheer!

    I think this thread responding to MF’s key admission is pivotal — it’s not just a “suspect” deduction or “quote mining” by those notoriously accused of being “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” by Dr Dawkins and ilk any more.

    Beyond this point, all exchanges and debates here at UD must be informed by this understanding that we are dealing with issues of ideological a prioris that lead objectors to the design inference to even conceive that intelligence and design do not exist in their own right. So, of course it is impossible to detect that which per the a prioris must not exist.

    Let’s go back to the Galilean principle that ideas relevant to our empirical world should be subject to empirical test. That way, we can at least avoid begging questions.

    And, at philosophical level, let us at least be willing to accept that here are alternative serious worldviews that can be compared on comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory elegance and power (neither simplistic nor an ad hoc patchwork).

    Anyway, a happy Christmas to all.

    KF

  19. It is not every day that an OP is about me!

    There is a difference between:

    1) Intelligence is a blend of the determined and random

    2) Mind is something immaterial

    It is perfectly consistent to believe both (as it happens I believe 1 and not 2). Objections on the lines of “consciousness is primary” are not relevant to 1.

  20. MF #19: There is a difference between:

    1) Intelligence is a blend of the determined and random

    2) Mind is something immaterial

    A huge difference indeed, if “determined” is understood in the usual way; i.e. matter and energy determined by natural law.

    MF #19: It is perfectly consistent to believe both

    Why is that consistent? Do you assume that the immaterial is also subjugated by natural law?

    MF #19: (as it happens I believe 1 and not 2).

    We know.

    MF #19: Objections on the lines of “consciousness is primary” are not relevant to 1.

    Yes they are.
    1. Consciousness is primary to matter (external observations).
    2. Consciousness presents itself as immaterial.
    3. There is no materialistic theory that accommodates consciousness and its properties.
    4. Consciousness is about downward causation while the matter is about upward causation.

  21. MF:

    Thanks for your comment.

    However, merely asserting the difference does not answer the problem as outlined.

    Surely you are aware that a rock has no dreams, and so also GIGO-limited computation based on complex functionally specific organisation of elements is not equal to self-aware, conscious reasoned thought and credible knowledge. The origin of that latter mind is what is to be accounted for and as the OP outlines, that is a serious and in fact intractable problem for evolutionary materialism.

    When the mind is effectively reduced to or grounded in cause-effect chains in neural circuits, the problem of transforming computation into consciousness jumps out. The further problem of accounting for the credibility of mind jumps out. And int eh background lurks the problem of accounting for FSCO/I on blind chance and mechanical necessity. As Haldane and many others have summarised, this then leads to self referential incoherence.

    Further to this, you have still not eliminated design, an inherently pruposeful and creative exercise of mind that easily surmounts the 500 – 1,000 bit FSCO/I threshold for the capacity of blind chance and mechanical necessity [remember here set by treating every atom in the solar system or the cosmos as an observer making observations every 10^-14 s, the fastest rate of chemical rxns . . . you can set up a string of 500 or 1,000 fair coins as the model item to see the scope of the required config space to be scanned to catch target zones with FSCO/I . . . ], one that is as common as the posts in this thread including your own.

    So, the issue in the OP stands unmet, doubly so:

    (i) mere assertions notwithstanding, you have not cogently answered to the self referential incoherence of evolutionary materialism, and

    (ii) you have not accounted for how blind chance and mechanical necessity can successfully eliminate design as a fundamental causal factor.

    KF

    PS: Note as well, the issue in the OP is not, mind is immaterial, but that effective mind (of whatever nature) does not credibly emerge from the material without intelligent direction, and that the characteristic products of mind, thought, reason purpose and design cannot credibly be accounted for on blind chance and mechanical necessity under evolutionary materialism, which is self-refuting, thus the imposition of this as an a priori reduction of intelligence and design to chance and necessityis a deadlocking begging of the question.

  22. Box: very well summarised. KF

  23. F/N: Wiki on GIGO:

    Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) in the field of computer science or information and communications technology refers to the fact that computers will unquestioningly process unintended, even nonsensical, input data (“garbage in”) and produce undesired, often nonsensical, output (“garbage out”).

    That is computing hardware and software are both critically dependent on sound design to function.

    Where, notoriously, the development of such entities is a major and challenging design task, as I can fervently testify from experience on both sides of the hard/soft partition.

    KF

  24. 24

    Hey Box,

    Don’t over think this.

    It’s possible to believe that everything is pre-determined yet to also hold that mind is a real thing. That is the position of Calvinists.

    The Explainatory filter is simply looking at physical chance and physical necessity verses design.

    A Calvinist would hold that the design mode of the filter is completely constrained but just that it’s not constrained physically.

    A completely deterministic robot could in theory produce artifacts that would make it through the filter if those artifacts were not reducible to (physical) chance and (physical)necessity.

    That is the beauty of the filter it does not make metaphysical claims it only looks at what we can perceive and makes explicit the sort of categorizing we do everyday.

    On the other hand the self defeating aspect of MF’s position is not the determinism it’s the inferred denial that his mind is a real thing. Materialism is the issue here not determinism

    That is as least how I see it.

    peace

  25. WJM, I have clipped your typical dialogue here, and added it to the original post for this thread. You ought to separately promote it to a full post! (Fair warning, if you don’t within the next 24 hours, I will.) KF

  26. ayearningforpublius:

    Good to hear from you.

    Take heart and be of good cheer.

    (It helps that I occasionally get unsolicited statements of support and affirmation in my email inbox from some of those onlookers I speak of, I hope you do the same.)

    KF

    PS: I reiterate my standing offer to host as UD headlined posts thoughtful articles by those looking on, and if you are a darwinist and want to make a more satisfactory stab at the darwinism support essay challenge here than I in the end promoted to headlined status and used [cf. here], that goes double. If you don’t want to use a name or a web handle, I am perfectly willing to attribute good old Contributor X, or even X1, X2, . . . Xn.

  27. Mark:

    There is a difference between:

    1) Intelligence is a blend of the determined and random

    2) Mind is something immaterial

    It is perfectly consistent to believe both (as it happens I believe 1 and not 2). Objections on the lines of “consciousness is primary” are not relevant to 1.

    Yes and no. Just some thoughts:

    a) Consciousness is primary. That is the main point. Consciousness means that subjective experiences and representations exist. All we know, we know through subjective representations. The fundamentals of human experience, cognition, meaning, purpose and feeling, are all subjective experiences, and cannot even be defined objectively, least of all explained. For all those experiences to exist, a “subject”, an “I”, which represents and perceives is necessary.

    b) “Mind” can mean many things. The word can be referred both to consciousness and to some of its contents.

    c) “Intelligence” is not well defined, too. But I think we can agree that it usually describes some particular functions in conscious experiences, especially those which are linked to cognition and meaning. In that sense, intelligence is an aspect of the mind. This is important, because it implies both algorithmic (or random) computations and processes, and conscious representations of meaning and purpose. So, if defined in that sense, intelligence implies consciousness, but it can also imply algorithmic processes that, in themselves, could also be not conscious.

    The real problem is: can non conscious algorithmic processes generate all the outputs of a conscious intelligence? For me, the answer is: definitely not. And I have evidence of that. There is at least one kind of output that non conscious algorithmic processes cannot generate: new, original dFSCI.

    You will not agree, and we have been there many times. The fact remains that all that we can observe and all reasonable arguments in no way support the emergence of new dFSCI from non conscious algorithmic processes. On the contrary, new and original dFSCI is generates in tons everyday by human agents, through the process of design, where conscious representations output form and purpose to external objects.

    The only reasonable explanation for that is that conscious representations, and in particular the experience of meaning and purpose, are essential to generate new dFSCI.

    So, to sum up my points:

    1) Intelligence is a function which absolutely needs conscious representations, and the experience of meaning and purpose, even if it certainly can use algorithmic processes in its representations and activities.

    2) Consciousness cannot be explained in objective terms (which is not exactly the same as saying that it is immaterial, and is a much more empirical statement).

    3) Therefore, consciousness is primary to intelligence. Intelligence cannot exist without consciousness. Algorithmic processes are only “frozen intelligence”. They can reproduce some aspects of the intelligent process, but not all, because they are not conscious.

  28. MF @ 19. It seems to me that what you cannot possibly explain is that brain chemistry follows physical laws but thought follows the laws of logic and the particular language being used to think. IN PRINCIPLE, it is impossible for you to explain any particular arrangement of symbols that encode meaning by reference to physical laws. The key word in that last sentence is encode. The information is encoded in the physical substrate but it is not the physical substrate. The physical substrate is explained by physical laws but the fact that the symbols are arranged as they are or that they mean anything is simply not the domain of physics. Information is in the domain of mind. That is to say, free will and intentionality, both of which are required for the use of language in generating thoughts/information.

    The big issue in biology, from a non-biologist mind you, is that some, many, most? biologists think they can reduce biology to chemistry and physics. But biology is all about information and information reduces to mind, not physics. Anyway, not that this will change anyone’s mind or even that it is additional light but I would be interested to hear how it is that you think physics explains, i.e. “causes” information.

  29. I am afraid the demands of real life mean I don’t have time to answer all these comments properly. So I will pick up on Box’s two key sentences:

    Why is that consistent? Do you assume that the immaterial is also subjugated by natural law?

    I don’t assume it – but I don’t assume not either. Why shouldn’t the immaterial (if it exists) be subject to natural laws – (possibly not yet discovered)?

  30. Hi gpuccio, (@26)

    a) Consciousness is primary. That is the main point. Consciousness means that subjective experiences and representations exist. All we know, we know through subjective representations.

    Whether or not consciousness is “primary” (not sure what that means, really), it’s clear that unconscious representations do exist. We react unconsciously to many complex stimuli in ways that require reasoning, and since reasoning requires representation, this shows we need not be conscious of our mental representations in order to utilize them in reasoning.

    The fundamentals of human experience, cognition, meaning, purpose and feeling, are all subjective experiences, and cannot even be defined objectively, least of all explained. For all those experiences to exist, a “subject”, an “I”, which represents and perceives is necessary.

    We know that we have conscious perceptions (of some things and not other things), and we know that we consciously apprehend our own thoughts – our selves. What nobody knows is what causal role (if any) consciousness plays in determining our behavior. People who are not familiar with philosophy of mind, and with experiments in cognitive science (by Wegner, Libet, and others), often refuse to entertain the possibility that by the time we become conscious of our decisions, they have already been made, but it is clear that the causality of consciousness is an open question.

    b) “Mind” can mean many things. The word can be referred both to consciousness and to some of its contents.

    THANK YOU, gpuccio, for pointing this out. I have spent hundreds of hours on these forums trying to convince people that mentalistic terms are ill-defined, and people endlessly talk passed each other because nobody will even attempt to provide rigorous definitions for these terms.

    c) “Intelligence” is not well defined, too.

    I think you’ve even understated the case, but THANK YOU again for pointing this out.

    But I think we can agree that it usually describes some particular functions in conscious experiences, especially those which are linked to cognition and meaning.

    You are free to define “intelligence” however you’d like, but most definitions used in studies of human and animal cognition do not refer to consciousness.

    Intelligence can be defined behaviorially, as a catalogue of mental abilities (the ability to learn, solve novel problems, use language, and so on) or it can be defined functionally, by specifying the methods by which an intelligent entity accomplishes these mental tasks (by particular sorts of deterministic or stochastic algorithms, by unconscious reasoning, by conscious reasoning, by the action of immaterial res cogitans, and so on. And as I point out below, these methods may or may not be mutually exclusive).

    Another thing most people do not realize is that simply defining intelligence as “The ability to generate complex, novel form and function (or ‘CSI’)” renders ID’s claims to be vacuous tautologies. (What is responsible for the CSI we observe in biology? Why, the ability to generate CSI of course!)

    The real problem is: can non conscious algorithmic processes generate all the outputs of a conscious intelligence?

    Yes, I agree, this is pretty much The Central Problem! In fact, this problem is utterly central to the entire project of Intelligent Design Theory!

    For me, the answer is: definitely not. And I have evidence of that. There is at least one kind of output that non conscious algorithmic processes cannot generate: new, original dFSCI.

    For me the answer is: nobody knows. Rather than debate your idea that computers cannot generate certain classes of novel designs or plans, I would be happy to get your acknowledgement that the claims and assumptions of ID (that “design” is the complement of chance/necessity, for example) do indeed rest directly on the answer to this question.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  31. MF:

    In the OP and onward links the incoherence of evolutionary materialism is not merely “assumed,” it is SHOWN. Shown from several directions in fact.

    Let me clip the simplest, shortest, from J B S Haldane:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    This is but one problem, where a rock has no dreams and computations built on what comes from rock are GIGO limited, so they are not self-explanatory — apart from the problem of writing themselves out of noise. As you will recall from the problems with versions of the Pentium chip that led to recalls, a hardware, firmware or software bug is always a possibility with computation.

    Multiply that by the problem that such devices and software are relevant examples of FSCO/I, which on solid empirical and needle in haystack analytical grounds has but one explanation, design, in a context that FSCO/I beyond 500 – 1,000 bits exceeds the reasonable blind search capacity of the solar system or the observed cosmos, through chance and necessity.

    And we have not even begun to bridge from computation to consciousness and rationality and knowledge yet.

    The ground-consequent relation is a logical one as TGP points out echoing C S Lewis and many others. Such is not in any way inevitably connected to the physical cause-effect one that drives mere computation. Otherwise GIGO would not be a significant challenge in design and development of computational devices, their firmware and their software.

    What is to be grounded is conscious designing mind, and in light of GIGO a material substrate . . . even granting for argument “emergence” . . . simply does not account for it.

    The reductionist attempt fails, and it fails again because of the incoherence as pointed out by Haldane and so many others.

    To have any right to the reductionist assertions you have made, you need to first answer the bridge from computation to consciousness [a notoriously hard and unanswered problem] and you need to answer the incoherence of evolutionary materialism. beyond, you have to face the implications of our being under moral government and our living in a contingent fine tuned cosmos, entailing a necessary, awesomely powerful and immaterial mind as the best explanation.

    KF

  32. RDF: On track record, I first serve you notice to be on civil and reasonable behaviour in this thread. KF

  33. RDF:

    What nobody knows is what causal role (if any) consciousness plays in determining our behavior. People who are not familiar with philosophy of mind, and with experiments in cognitive science (by Wegner, Libet, and others), often refuse to entertain the possibility that by the time we become conscious of our decisions, they have already been made, but it is clear that the causality of consciousness is an open question.

    Not quite.

    What we first and foremost, easily know is this, as WJM has aptly put it:

    If you do not [acknowledge] the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not [admit] the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not [recognise] libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not [accept] morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    The attempted reduction of conscious mind to computation runs straight into the problem of GIGO limits, multiplied by that of trying to write software out of non-foresighted noise [aka chance variations] incrementally culled by subtracting out less successful varieties, with credible upper coordinated mutation limits being about 6 – 7 bases at a time, with the pop genetics challenges that implies leading to impossibly long times to generate a human with linguistically based reasoning ability from some chimp like ancestral animal. The jumped up ape thesis is highly dubious as an explanation of mind, and runs into the self referential incoherence problems as highlighted in the OP.

    Going further, this is somewhat tangential.

    The root issue is that — as cited in the OP — MF has revealed that there is a controlling a priori that deadlocks discussion. namely the attempt to reduce or assert reduction of design by intelligence to blind chance and mechanical necessity. The FSCO/I limit of 500 – 1,000 bits then becomes decisive and decisive against.

    This is multiplied by the incoherence as was also pointed out.

    Going on:

    You are free to define “intelligence” however you’d like, but most definitions used in studies of human and animal cognition do not refer to consciousness.

    So what?

    Sez who?

    On what basis ought we to accept their asserted authority in the teeth of self evident truths that consciousness is an undeniable reality and that in our experience thereof, we have no good reason to deny any major faculty of mind as generally suspect or delusional? (For if we do, there are no firewalls in the mind, and we face an infinite regress of Plato’s caves, reducing to absurdity. better to lock out the “worm” or “virus” before hand than to let it in.)

    We know from the inside that we are conscious, reasoning knowing, deciding, morally governed intelligent creatures. Whether or no the definitions that are knocked about make explicit reference tot he fact, that is the fact to be explained. Where GIGO-limited computation is no explanation for coherent, logical, reliable reasoning ability.

    And of course the hard problem of consciousness remains there, unmoved by assertions, assumptions and materialist just so stories.

    Fundamentally, computation, a physical causal process not materially different from Leibnitz’s mill wheels grinding against one another, is a blind mechanism, hence GIGO. Intelligence, conscious intelligence is NOT blind and the ground-consequentr relationship is simply not to be equated to cause-effect ones.

    This leads to the sort of self referentially incoherent implications of evolutionary materialism as announced.

    And that is before we get tot he point that we live in a contingent cosmos that is fine tuned for the sort of cell based C-chemistry aqueous medium life we enjoy. That points beyond itself to a necessary, minded, awesomely powerful and immaterial being as its best explanation.

    So, we have good reason to see mind as prior to matter, and as constituting matter.

    On embodied minds, I simply point to the Smith two tier controller model, that posits an in the loop I/O processor intimately coupled to a supervisory controller. I note Smith is a researcher in the field.

    Quantum level interfaces of influence can be suggested as a mechanism by which an immaterial mind could affect a material brain-body loop, if that is what one wishes to debate. I suspect thought hat there is merit in not locking oneself down to so-called Cartesian Dualism. That is, there are options out there, starting with hylemorphic dualism. And yes we are also in the province of issues in metaphysics, there is an inevitable intersection.

    I say, we start form fact no 1, our experience of ourselves as conscious, minded intelligences who routinely do things a cosmos full of blind chance and necessity across its thermodynamic lifespan cannot plausibly do, especially generate FSCO/I such as in your post.

    Then, it is reasonable to keep mind on the table, by not allowing ideologically imposed a priori materialism to question-beggingly lock it out. And if there are institutions dominated by such ideologues wearing lab coats that want to insist on such lockouts as we see in the cited clip, all that tells us is how deep and how extensive the rot is.

    Time for a fresh beginning.

    High time.

    KF

  34. RDFish:

    Thank you for your good arguments, which allow me to make some important clarifications.

    You say:

    Whether or not consciousness is “primary” (not sure what that means, really), it’s clear that unconscious representations do exist. We react unconsciously to many complex stimuli in ways that require reasoning, and since reasoning requires representation, this shows we need not be conscious of our mental representations in order to utilize them in reasoning.

    I don’t agree with you. For two important reasons:

    a) I believe that you use the word “unconscious” in a very ambiguous way (not your fault, it is commonly used in a very ambiguous way). Now, I would suggest to differentiatebetween the word “subconscious”, which I would use for all the activities of the subconscious mind, and the term “non conscious”, which I would use for all the activities in the body (or more specifically in the nervous system) which are not represented at all to consciousness. I believe that all subconscious activities are represented, although only a small fraction of them is represented in what we usually call “the conscious mind”, which corresponds more or less to the main waking consciousness. Therefore, all representations are conscious eventa, some opf them in the “conscious mind”, most of them in the “subconscious mind”.

    b)That said, the fact remains that some bodily, and neural, activities may not be represented at all, not even in the subconscious mind. At the same time, the final results of those activities can be represented. In that sense, thye computational activity would not be a conscious representation, while its result is a conscious representation. Tha can be true, for instance, of some very basic reflexes.

    Reasoning is always a conscious (or subconscious) representation. But it is possible that pre-programmed resonable algorithms may take place without any conscious representation at all. But that is not “reasoning”. In that case, our physical body is just working like a computer, but we are not representing its activities, although we may well represent their final outcome.

    More in next post.

  35. RDFish:

    You say:

    We know that we have conscious perceptions (of some things and not other things), and we know that we consciously apprehend our own thoughts – our selves. What nobody knows is what causal role (if any) consciousness plays in determining our behavior. People who are not familiar with philosophy of mind, and with experiments in cognitive science (by Wegner, Libet, and others), often refuse to entertain the possibility that by the time we become conscious of our decisions, they have already been made, but it is clear that the causality of consciousness is an open question.

    I will not go into detail about the problem of “decisions”. I am ready to accept that many of those that are usually considered “decisions” take place in the subconscious mind, and are then rationalized as conscious choices. My personal model of free will is much more subtle, and it includes the whole of our consciousness, at all levels, and it critically depends on our “attunement” with a “moral background” which is known by us through intuition. Many of our “free decisions” are therefore very different from what we usually consider “free decisions”. The main free will, IMO, is in how we react, in our consciousness, to what happens to us.

    About the causal role of consciousness, I will very simply state that I need no philosophical resoning about causality for my model of ID, which is completely empirical.

    What I need is simply my definition of design, which is simple and can be easily applied to empirical contexts.

    My definition of design is as follows:

    Whenever a specific form is purposefully outputted to a material object, and that form comes from a conscious representation, that process is called “design”. The object which has been shaped is called a “designed object” and the conscious agent who outputted the specific form to the object is called a “designer”. We call the whole process a “design process”.

    To apply that definition, we need no abstract model of causality. We simply need to assess that a conscious representation is the source of the form imposed to the material object. IOWs, an experience of meaning and purpose in the consciousness of an agent does precede and explain the form in the object.

    More in next post.

  36. RDFish:

    You say:

    THANK YOU, gpuccio, for pointing this out. I have spent hundreds of hours on these forums trying to convince people that mentalistic terms are ill-defined, and people endlessly talk passed each other because nobody will even attempt to provide rigorous definitions for these terms.

    You’re welcome :)

    And:

    I think you’ve even understated the case, but THANK YOU again for pointing this out.

    Again, you’re welcome :) :)

    And:

    You are free to define “intelligence” however you’d like, but most definitions used in studies of human and animal cognition do not refer to consciousness.

    Their problem. I wouyld say: why am I not surprised? The general attempt at excluding consciousness from maps of reality is one of the sad consequences of reductionist scientism.

    You say:

    Intelligence can be defined behaviorially, as a catalogue of mental abilities (the ability to learn, solve novel problems, use language, and so on) or it can be defined functionally, by specifying the methods by which an intelligent entity accomplishes these mental tasks (by particular sorts of deterministic or stochastic algorithms, by unconscious reasoning, by conscious reasoning, by the action of immaterial res cogitans, and so on. And as I point out below, these methods may or may not be mutually exclusive).

    You can define intelligence as you like, but it is intelligence no more. There is no intelligence without consciousness, because intelligence is about cognition, and cognition is a conscious experience. The concept of “meaning”, which is fundamental to any cognition, is just a conscious experience. You cannot define meaning without any reference to conscious experiences.

    Of course, intelligent concepts can be “frozen” into algorithms for computational purposes, but that is not intelligence at all, only an intelligent output of conscious intelligence. A computer does not understand meaning. For it, all bits are bits, indeed only physical states.

    More in next post.

  37. RDFish:

    You say:

    Another thing most people do not realize is that simply defining intelligence as “The ability to generate complex, novel form and function (or ‘CSI’)” renders ID’s claims to be vacuous tautologies. (What is responsible for the CSI we observe in biology? Why, the ability to generate CSI of course!)

    Absolutely not! You have it all wrong here.

    Intelligence is simply the ability of having conscious cognitions about meaning. One of the abilities of intelligence is to generate original CSI.

    The ID theory is not what you say. It is completely empirical, and it is more or less as follows:

    a) We define design. (See previous post). Please note that the definition of design, and its direct recognition, have nothing at all to do with CSI or its subsets, like dFSCI. I see a child drawing a geometric form, and the child tells me that this is his home. I have enough information to recognize that the drawing is a designed object (a conscious representation in the child is the source of the form on the paper). CSI or dFSCI have nothing to do with that. The designed origin is ascertained directly, without any inference from the properties of the designed object.

    b) We observe that designed objects (in the above sense) have sometimes a special property, CSI or dFSCI.

    c) We observe that no non designed object in our known universe has that property.

    d) There is only one category of objects (biological objects) where we can observe tons of dFSCI. The origin of those objects is not known directly. The prevailing theory (neo darwinism) is not supported by any facts. For those objects, we can infer design as the best explanation.

    More in next post.

  38. RDFish:

    You say:

    For me the answer is: nobody knows. Rather than debate your idea that computers cannot generate certain classes of novel designs or plans, I would be happy to get your acknowledgement that the claims and assumptions of ID (that “design” is the complement of chance/necessity, for example) do indeed rest directly on the answer to this question.

    First of all, I have never been a fan of the idea that ““design” is the complement of chance/necessity”. I don’t believe that. I simply believe that design (the intervention of a conscious agent in outputting forms to objects) can generate dFSCI, while chance and necessity cannot. My belief is not derived from any idea that design is a “complement” of something. I derive my conviction from the simple empirical fact that designed things exhibit (sometimes) dFSCI, while non designed things never do that. IOWs, dFSCI is a reliable tool to identify the output of design processes, with 100% specificity (and low sensitivity).

  39. Hi gpuccio,

    Thank you for your good arguments, which allow me to make some important clarifications.

    And thank you!

    a) I believe that you use the word “unconscious” in a very ambiguous way (not your fault, it is commonly used in a very ambiguous way). Now, I would suggest to differentiatebetween the word “subconscious”, which I would use for all the activities of the subconscious mind, and the term “non conscious”, which I would use for all the activities in the body (or more specifically in the nervous system) which are not represented at all to consciousness.

    If I understand you correctly, you are saying that some (“non conscious”) reasoning occurs in the body (presumably in the brain, the rest of the CNS, the enteric nervous system, and so on), while other reasoning occurs not in the body, but only in the subconscious mind? If that’s what you mean, can you say how you might actually decide when reasoning does not occur in the body?

    I believe that all subconscious activities are represented, although only a small fraction of them is represented in what we usually call “the conscious mind”, which corresponds more or less to the main waking consciousness. Therefore, all representations are conscious eventa, some opf them in the “conscious mind”, most of them in the “subconscious mind”.

    I don’t understand this. First of all I wouldn’t say that “activities” are represented; I think it is more clear to say that we have mental representations, and our mental activities (call these thoughts, reasoning, cognition, and so on) use these representations. For example, somehow I have a representation of the concept “dog” in my mind, and when I consciously think about my dog this representation is consciously in use. However, if I turn a corner and am suddenly faced with a vicious dog, I do not experience a conscious deliberation regarding what I’m faced with and what I ought to do; instead, I find myself reacting without conscious thought at all. Before I know it (as people tend to say) I find myself running away or protecting my face or whatever I might do in that situation, and those actions are indeed rational, but they are not consciously initiated.

    Your distinction between non-conscious and subconscious, then, requires clarification: If something is subconscious, it does not present in conscious awareness; in other words it is not conscious.

    b)That said, the fact remains that some bodily, and neural, activities may not be represented at all, not even in the subconscious mind. At the same time, the final results of those activities can be represented. In that sense, thye computational activity would not be a conscious representation, while its result is a conscious representation. Tha can be true, for instance, of some very basic reflexes.

    I would make a distinction between a “very basic reflex” (e.g. a patellar reflex or a pupillary reflex), which does not involve perceptual analysis or the generation of a rational response) from other actions taken without conscious deliberation that do involve reasoning (such as my response to the dog).

    Reasoning is always a conscious (or subconscious) representation. But it is possible that pre-programmed resonable algorithms may take place without any conscious representation at all. But that is not “reasoning”. In that case, our physical body is just working like a computer, but we are not representing its activities, although we may well represent their final outcome.

    It is very hard to imagine how all of the complex rational behaviors we exhibit without conscious deliberation could be “pre-programmed”, unless you think that “pre-programming” is actually tantamount to full-blown intelligence (which I know you do not agree with). How do you account for the fact that people can in various circumstances make complex plans, generate grammatical sentences, solve math and engineering problems, and do all sorts of other things without consciously being aware of their deliberation?

    Don’t misunderstand me: I do not believe that people reason the way computers reason. It is clear that we do not understand how people reason at all. Nor can we say that conscious awareness is entirely epiphenomenal or perceptual – but neither can we say that it is causal and necessary for particular types of mental abilities. I believe these questions are fascinating and currently unanswered, and may (or may not) yield to investigation in the future.

    About the causal role of consciousness, I will very simply state that I need no philosophical resoning about causality for my model of ID, which is completely empirical.

    I take this to mean, then, that your model of ID does not entail that the “design” you believe explains the existence of biological CSI necessarily involved conscious thought? If that is your position, then we might have very similar views.

    Whenever a specific form is purposefully outputted to a material object, and that form comes from a conscious representation, that process is called “design”.

    Well, it appears that your notion of “design” does indeed entail consciousness, which I think is an empirically unsupported assumption. When I talk in my sleep, I generate novel, grammatical, meaningful sentences without conscious awareness. These sentences are complex and functional – i.e. they contain CSI. They are not “pre-programmed” in the sense that I consciously thought them up and memorized them for reciting later. Rather, I designed them, but not consciously. (In fact, we are not conscious of the design process we use for generating sentences even when we’re awake! Nobody understands how we do it.)

    The object which has been shaped is called a “designed object” and the conscious agent who outputted the specific form to the object is called a “designer”. We call the whole process a “design process”.

    I greatly appreciate your willingness to pin down these definitions. But by including the word “conscious”, empirically speaking, it is impossible to know if any other designer could exist unless it possessed the particular neural systems that we know are required to support consciousness in human beings. Don’t misunderstand me: I am not claiming that these physiological correlates of consciousness are sufficient to support consciousness! In other words, I am NOT arguing for materialism. Rather, I am pointing out that empirically speaking, the operation of these neural systems appear to be necessary for conscious thought. This doesn’t prove the matter, of course, since there may be other sorts of conscious entities that do not require similar neural mechanisms. We just do not (yet) know what the actual necessary and sufficient conditions for conscious awareness are.

    We do, however, have reason to believe that mental abilities (planning, problem solving, and so on) requires complex mechanism in order to store and manipulate information, which (as far as we know) invariably requires physical instantiation.

    To apply that definition, we need no abstract model of causality. We simply need to assess that a conscious representation is the source of the form imposed to the material object. IOWs, an experience of meaning and purpose in the consciousness of an agent does precede and explain the form in the object.

    You may have misunderstood my point about causality: I am saying that we are not empirically justified in saying that our conscious awareness causes (or is necessary to) our design abilities. When I am designing a program and I consciously decide to use a hash table to store information, it is possible that this decision was made independently of my consciousness, and I became conscious of this after the fact.

    RDF: You are free to define “intelligence” however you’d like, but most definitions used in studies of human and animal cognition do not refer to consciousness.
    GP: Their problem. I wouyld say: why am I not surprised? The general attempt at excluding consciousness from maps of reality is one of the sad consequences of reductionist scientism.

    Well, I’m not a reduction scientismist, and don’t wish to exclude it. I wish we understood more about consciousness, and I am fascinated and encouraged by the fact that consciousness research has undergone a resurgence. So I insist that we neither pretend that we know consciousness is epiphenomenal or not relevant, and I also insist that we don’t pretend that we know consciousness is critical and causal. The fact is, nobody knows what consciousness per se is or what it does. We just experience it. This statement infuriates lots of people here (like KF and WJM), but it is a clear and obvious truth.

    You can define intelligence as you like, but it is intelligence no more. There is no intelligence without consciousness, because intelligence is about cognition, and cognition is a conscious experience.

    In that case, when I am working on a math problem that I cannot solve, and the answer comes to me (as people tend to say) when I’m thinking about something else entirely, or singing in the shower, how did that cognition take place? How do you know that consciousness is required for cognition when so much cognition demonstrably occurs without conscious awareness?

    The concept of “meaning”, which is fundamental to any cognition, is just a conscious experience. You cannot define meaning without any reference to conscious experiences.

    I’d like to see how far we can get without complicating it further by talking about meaning (the so-called problem of intentionality), which I also think is an unsolved philosophical problem.

    Of course, intelligent concepts can be “frozen” into algorithms for computational purposes, but that is not intelligence at all, only an intelligent output of conscious intelligence. A computer does not understand meaning. For it, all bits are bits, indeed only physical states.

    Let’s say that the word “understanding” entails conscious awareness; using that definition we agree computers understand nothing. However, a very reasonable definition of “intelligence” might be “the ability to learn, reason, and solve novel problems”, and under that particular definition, computers clearly can be intelligent.

    RDF: Another thing most people do not realize is that simply defining intelligence as “The ability to generate complex, novel form and function (or ‘CSI’)” renders ID’s claims to be vacuous tautologies. (What is responsible for the CSI we observe in biology? Why, the ability to generate CSI of course!)
    GP: Absolutely not! You have it all wrong here.

    Intelligence is simply the ability of having conscious cognitions about meaning. One of the abilities of intelligence is to generate original CSI.

    Ok, let’s be very clear here. Your definition of “intelligence” includes conscious awareness. I agree that your defintion is meaningful, and ID’s explanation invoking “intelligence” using your definition is not a vacuous tautology. I also believe, however, that ID has no empirical basis upon which to claim that the cause of biological CSI was conscious.

    Human beings generate CSI, are conscious, and have complex brains. You choose to believe that anything which generates CSI must also be conscious, but not necessarily have a complex brain. Others choose to believe that CSI can be generated without a complex brain or consciousness. I, however, point out what I think is obvious: NOBODY KNOWS what is required to generate CSI. Perhaps consciousness is necessary, perhaps not. Perhaps complex physical information processing systems such as our brains are necessary, perhaps not. Anyone who says they know for sure is just mistaking an assumption for an empirical fact.

    First of all, I have never been a fan of the idea that ““design” is the complement of chance/necessity”. I don’t believe that. I simply believe that design (the intervention of a conscious agent in outputting forms to objects) can generate dFSCI, while chance and necessity cannot.

    And this is precisely where we disagree. What a pleasure it is to debate with somebody who can say what they mean, so we can pin down what we disagree about!

    My view is that nobody knows if chance and necessity is sufficient to produce CSI (or dFSCI or whatever). Perhaps “necessity” – physical law – is much weirder than we think, and there is something about physics itself that accounts for the rise of complex form and function, but does not involve consciousness (as humans experience it). After all, physical law is much weirder than we can actually understand already.

    Maybe our brains do account for all of our mental abilities (thought), and follow just the physical laws we already understand (like, say, Pat Churchland believes). Or maybe our brains account for thought but require exotic physics that we don’t yet understand (like, say, Roger Penrose believes). Or maybe our brains are necessary for thought but not sufficient (like, say, David Chalmers believes). Or maybe our brains are not necessary for thought at all (like, say, Angus Menuge believes). Maybe consciousness is causal, or maybe epiphenomenal….

    We just do not know. Nobody does. And that is the reason that ID is not an empirically-based claim. You don’t have the empirical science to substantiate your belief that design requires consciousness. And without that, your claim that design accounts for biological CSI becomes vacuous.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  40. KF,

    RDF: On track record, I first serve you notice to be on civil and reasonable behaviour in this thread.

    The reason I don’t respond to you is not because I am uncivil or unreasonable. Rather, it is because you are unable or unwilling to make cogent arguments. Take a cue from gpuccio here who disagrees with me, but is clear and smart and argues in good faith. Merry Christmas!

  41. RDF:

    Right out of the Darwinist debate tactics book, and I spoke about abusive behaviour patterns on your part in previous threads.

    Start here: when MF imposes a priori materialism and refuses to entertain the empirical fact of designing intelligence, that deadlocks any possibility of reasonable discussion due to a priori question begging.

    Next, on the underlying inherent incoherence of evolutionary materialism, you can start from Haldane, and go on from there:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    Finally, a rock has no dreams and cannot be deluded to imagine that it has. One who is self aware and conscious cannot be wrong about that, even if he is deceived in part of just what he is.

    So also, computation is a blind physical cause effect process dependent on the organisation of hardware and software, limited by GIGO. This is qualitatively distinct from conscious, reasoned thought on ground-consequent relationships that are conceptual and insightful not blind.

    Before accepting the emergence of the latter from the former or even the origin of the former by blind chance and mechanical necessity, there should be an actual observed demonstration. Which, I am highly confident, there has never been nor is such in prospect.

    KF

  42. RDFish:

    Well, you have been very clear about what you think. I can accept many of your points, and disagree with many others. But in general I find your comments reasonable, and I am satisfied.

    Still, maybe some further clarifications could be useful, because perhaps I have not completely clear some of my points.

    Mainly, I see that you still argue about consciousness as pertaining only to waking consciousness, and not including all other states of consciousness. That is completely different form my use of the word, so it is obvious that some misunderstanding arises.

    To be more clear, I consider “conscious” any event that is in some way represented in the perceiving “I”, whatever the mode and intensity and clarity of the representation. I consider “non conscious” events those that are not, as far as we know, represented in a perceiver. In that sense, consciousness implies the existence of a perceiver and of things perceived, while pure objectual events are, as far as we know, only events, and not representations in an “I”.

    Given my position, I find rather strange some of your statements. For example, you say:

    “If I understand you correctly, you are saying that some (“non conscious”) reasoning occurs in the body (presumably in the brain, the rest of the CNS, the enteric nervous system, and so on), while other reasoning occurs not in the body, but only in the subconscious mind? If that’s what you mean, can you say how you might actually decide when reasoning does not occur in the body?”

    The problem is not if something happens “in the body”, but if it is perceived by the “I”. Probably, a lot of the contents of our conscious representations come from our body (but not all, I believe). Still, when it is represented in our perception, it becomes a conscious event. Other bodily event are never represented, so they can be completely “non conscious”.

    The subconscious mind is, IMO, consciousness. It is called “subconscious” because the modality and intensity of representation is different from our “waking mind”, but there is our “I” perceiving things just the same. A simple example could be the relationship between macular vision and background vision. They are different, but they are modalities of vision just the same.

    You say:

    “Your distinction between non-conscious and subconscious, then, requires clarification: If something is subconscious, it does not present in conscious awareness; in other words it is not conscious.”

    I hope I have clarified that. If something is subconscious, for me it is part of consciousness just the same. It is a represented event, only it is represented in the subconscious mind, and not in the “waking mind”. Obviously, it would be better not to call the “waking mind” simply “conscious mind”, but the common use is that.

    You say:

    “Well, it appears that your notion of “design” does indeed entail consciousness, which I think is an empirically unsupported assumption. When I talk in my sleep, I generate novel, grammatical, meaningful sentences without conscious awareness.”

    Again the same problem. I am conscious in my sleep, only differently.

    You say:

    “In that case, when I am working on a math problem that I cannot solve, and the answer comes to me (as people tend to say) when I’m thinking about something else entirely, or singing in the shower, how did that cognition take place? How do you know that consciousness is required for cognition when so much cognition demonstrably occurs without conscious awareness?”

    Again. Many things that come to the “waking mind” come really from deeper strata of consciousness. The waking mind is only the point of an iceberg: it is the small part which is above a specific “threshold” of representation. But the big iceberg which is all the rest of us is much more, and it is consciousness all the way down.

    You say:

    “Ok, let’s be very clear here. Your definition of “intelligence” includes conscious awareness. I agree that your defintion is meaningful, and ID’s explanation invoking “intelligence” using your definition is not a vacuous tautology. I also believe, however, that ID has no empirical basis upon which to claim that the cause of biological CSI was conscious.”

    Well, here and in your following reasoning you have an interesting point, and I can happily concede that you are in part correct.

    Let’s see better what the point is.

    My empirical point is that human design comes from conscious representations, and that dFSCI is always connected, in known cases, to human design.

    That’s why I can certainly say that dFSCI is a reliable indicator of human design.

    But, when I use that point to infer conscious design for biological information, which was not probably designed by humans, I am making an inference by analogy. Biological information is the only other class of objects exhibiting dFSCI, togehther with human designed objects.

    The problem is, as you say, which of the features of humans is really necessary to generate dFSCI?

    I assume that it is the presence of conscious representations, and in particular of the experience of meaning and purpose.

    You object, correctly, that there are many different positions about what could allow humans to have the ability to design things:

    “Maybe our brains do account for all of our mental abilities (thought), and follow just the physical laws we already understand (like, say, Pat Churchland believes). Or maybe our brains account for thought but require exotic physics that we don’t yet understand (like, say, Roger Penrose believes). Or maybe our brains are necessary for thought but not sufficient (like, say, David Chalmers believes). Or maybe our brains are not necessary for thought at all (like, say, Angus Menuge believes). Maybe consciousness is causal, or maybe epiphenomenal….”

    OK. That is all very good. But I want to explain better my position.

    In the particular case of design processes, it is rather obvious that the conscious representation themselves, whatever their origin, have at some point an important role, maybe causal, maybe not, in the design process. At some point, they precede the design process itself, and they already contain the form to be outputted to the object. The child represents his home in his mind before drawing it on the paper. So, if the problem is how the information arises, there can be no doubt that it arises before the design process, in the conscious representation.

    Now, it is perfectly possible, in principle, that a physical brain is necessary for that to happen. After all, humans, who are unfortunately our most available example, have a physical brain. If that were true, we should reasonably think that biological information was designed by beings with some very complex physical brain.

    But it is also possible that non physical beings are capable of having meaningful representations, without the need of a physical brain. That is exactly what I think, and I believe that there are many empirical supports to that assumption, including many religious experiences and the phenomena of NDE.

    If you want to keep it at the “we don’t know” level, that’s fine for me. In the end, we really know nothing with absolute certainty: human knowledge, whatever it is, is always relative. Scientific knowledge is no exception.

    But I still maintain that the most reasonable explanation for the continuous emergence of dFSCI in humans is that their conscious representations allow them to superimpose a completely original stratum of experiences (meaning, cognition, purpose, feeling) to objective events. That stratum originates in consciousness, not in the events themselves. And, miraculously, it gives us the power to organize events, and to obtain things that we desire. It seems that, in some way, our subjective experiences are the masters of objective reality.

    A merry Christmas to you.

  43. Hi gpuccio,

    Mainly, I see that you still argue about consciousness as pertaining only to waking consciousness, and not including all other states of consciousness. That is completely different form my use of the word, so it is obvious that some misunderstanding arises.

    To be more clear, I consider “conscious” any event that is in some way represented in the perceiving “I”, whatever the mode and intensity and clarity of the representation. I consider “non conscious” events those that are not, as far as we know, represented in a perceiver. In that sense, consciousness implies the existence of a perceiver and of things perceived, while pure objectual events are, as far as we know, only events, and not representations in an “I”.

    When I say “consciousness”, I am referring to “that which we loose when we fall into a dreamless sleep, and regain when we awaken”. When I say “conscious thought”, I am referring to something that we consciously apprehend, that we are conscious of. You mean something different, apparently. In your view, it seems possible that I might have a conscious thought but not be consciously aware of having that thought – is that right?

    The problem is not if something happens “in the body”, but if it is perceived by the “I”. Probably, a lot of the contents of our conscious representations come from our body (but not all, I believe). Still, when it is represented in our perception, it becomes a conscious event. Other bodily event are never represented, so they can be completely “non conscious”.

    So in your view, a patellar reflex is non-conscious. Now imagine I’m feeling irritable and my wife asks what is wrong, and I say I’m not aware that anything is wrong. Then my wife reminds me that I’m probably annoyed by my mother-in-law’s thoughtless remarks, and I think about it consciously for a few moments, and realize that yes, that is why I am irritable. In my view, the subconscious annoyance is not conscious until I consciously reflect on it. In your view, I am conscious of everything like this all the time, whether I’m aware of it or not. Is that correct?

    The subconscious mind is, IMO, consciousness. It is called “subconscious” because the modality and intensity of representation is different from our “waking mind”, but there is our “I” perceiving things just the same. A simple example could be the relationship between macular vision and background vision. They are different, but they are modalities of vision just the same.

    Ok, I’m beginning to see that you really do consider that thoughts I am not consciously aware of are still conscious thoughts. This isn’t really analogous to macular/peripheral vision, because we can be conscious of both of those types of visual experiences, even though one is fuzzier. In contrast, we have no conscious awareness whatsoever of how we manage to generate grammatical sentences, yet you wouuld still call that ability conscious.

    I find your usage of the term a bit ideosyncratic, but as long as you make yourself clear we can use your sense of the word. You call “conscious” any mental activity of someone who is capable of being of conscious at all, even if the particular activity does not present in his/her conscious awareness. Is that correct?

    If something is subconscious, for me it is part of consciousness just the same.

    Ok, so in your sense of the word we are conscious of everything we know, whether we consciously know that we know it or not.

    I am conscious in my sleep, only differently.

    If I get hit on the head, or get a dose of general anaesthetic, it seems to me I “lose consciousness” – I subsequently have no conscious awareness of anything at all. But according to you, I really shouldn’t say I have “lost consciousness” or I’ve “become unconscious”, but rather I should say “I am now conscious in a different way”.

    But the big iceberg which is all the rest of us is much more, and it is consciousness all the way down.

    Ok, you’ve been quite clear. In your way of speaking, there is no such thing as losing consciousness – everybody is conscious all the time, no matter what. Now, here is my preferred definition of consciousness: “That which we lose when we fall into a dreamless sleep, and regain when we awaken”. I find that definition to be clear to everyone, but it doesn’t fit with what you mean by that word. So, I will ask you: Given that “it is consciousness all the way down”, and that we are conscious even in a dreamless sleep or coma, how exactly would you define the word “conscious”?

    My empirical point is that human design comes from conscious representations, and that dFSCI is always connected, in known cases, to human design.

    That’s why I can certainly say that dFSCI is a reliable indicator of human design.

    Except obviously dFSCI is not a reliable indicator of human design, since humans clearly did not design the original human. The issue at hand is what exactly (if anything) is dFSCI a reliable indicator of? It is of course a reliable indicator of the ability to create dFSCI, but that is an empty statement. You say it is a reliable indicator of the activity of some conscious entity, but in your sense of the word “conscious”, this might not actually mean what most people mean when they talk about “conscious experience” or “conscious awareness”. Instead, it might be something that isn’t even aware that it is conscious, right?

    But, when I use that point to infer conscious design for biological information, which was not probably designed by humans, I am making an inference by analogy. Biological information is the only other class of objects exhibiting dFSCI, togehther with human designed objects.

    Except whatever you are inferencing to by analogy must necessary be radically different from a human being! Very central to the notion of what it means to be a “human being” is our astronomically complex physical machinery – the very things that ID attempts to explain. Unless you are positing that the Designer you infer is similar to human beings in that it is a complex organism, then whatever it is, it is something very much outside of our empircal understanding. And for that reason, it is not possible to warrant an inference that this Designer is similar to human beings in other ways. For example, we have no reason to assume the Designer has conscious awareness, or sensory perceptions, conscious beliefs and desires, emotions, and so on.

    The problem is, as you say, which of the features of humans is really necessary to generate dFSCI?

    I assume that it is the presence of conscious representations, and in particular of the experience of meaning and purpose.

    That is an assumption, not an inference based upon our empirical knowledge.

    In the particular case of design processes, it is rather obvious that the conscious representation themselves, whatever their origin, have at some point an important role, maybe causal, maybe not, in the design process.

    The way I’m using the term here, if consciousness is not causal, then it cannot have an important role (or any role at all) in the design process. In other words, for all we know, a philosophical zombie might be capable of design. (If you are not familiar with philosophical zombies, just read about them on Wiki or something).

    At some point, they precede the design process itself, and they already contain the form to be outputted to the object. The child represents his home in his mind before drawing it on the paper. So, if the problem is how the information arises, there can be no doubt that it arises before the design process, in the conscious representation.

    But there is tremendous doubt about how we think – in fact, we really have no idea how we do it! Just because human beings are conscious of their desire to build an airplane, say, before they do it, does not mean that ANYTHING – even somethign unimaginably different from a human being – would necessarily be conscious of their desires and intentions. This is my point.

    Now, it is perfectly possible, in principle, that a physical brain is necessary for that to happen. After all, humans, who are unfortunately our most available example, have a physical brain. If that were true, we should reasonably think that biological information was designed by beings with some very complex physical brain.

    But it is also possible that non physical beings are capable of having meaningful representations, without the need of a physical brain. That is exactly what I think, and I believe that there are many empirical supports to that assumption, including many religious experiences and the phenomena of NDE.

    Virtually all of my discussions here eventually reach this point. In fact, I do not believe it is possible to justify the claim that ID is an empirically based theory without appealing to religious experiences and to so-called paranormal phenomena such as ESP or NDEs. There’s nothing wrong with taking these into account, but I would insist that this be acknowledged much more explicitly: Without evidence from religious experience and paranormal research, ID has no empirical support to suggest that the ORIGINAL complex physical organisms could have been designed by a thinking, conscious being.

    If you want to keep it at the “we don’t know” level, that’s fine for me. In the end, we really know nothing with absolute certainty: human knowledge, whatever it is, is always relative. Scientific knowledge is no exception.

    I do indeed believe that questions of origins of the universe and of life must be answered by “We do not know”. That is the only intellectually honest response. However, I do NOT put all of our knowledge in the same uncertain category! We know a tremendous number of things – people from all over the world, from different cultures and religions, agree on a vast amount of scientific knowledge. Still, some questions remain unanswered, and these questions include the BIG QUESTIONS of origins.

    Merry Christmas to you, gpuccio!

    RDFish/AIGuy

  44. I do indeed believe that questions of origins of the universe and of life must be answered by “We do not know”. That is the only intellectually honest response.

    I somewhat agree and disagree. The answer is, “we do not know for sure, but some answers are more believable and coherent than others, and some faith statements have higher expected value or certainty equivalence in science, technology and spirituality.” That is an intellectually honest and pragmatic answer as well.

  45. RDFish:

    Just a brief answer for the moment. Maybe I can go into greater detail later:

    When I say “consciousness”, I am referring to “that which we loose when we fall into a dreamless sleep, and regain when we awaken”. When I say “conscious thought”, I am referring to something that we consciously apprehend, that we are conscious of. You mean something different, apparently. In your view, it seems possible that I might have a conscious thought but not be consciously aware of having that thought – is that right?

    Yes, it is correct. But, as you correctly assume later, I do not believe that in dreamless sleep we loose consciousness. The point is, consciousness is more basic that self-consciousness, or self-awareness. But it is true that self-consciousness is a more complete form of consciousness.

    So in your view, a patellar reflex is non-conscious. Now imagine I’m feeling irritable and my wife asks what is wrong, and I say I’m not aware that anything is wrong. Then my wife reminds me that I’m probably annoyed by my mother-in-law’s thoughtless remarks, and I think about it consciously for a few moments, and realize that yes, that is why I am irritable. In my view, the subconscious annoyance is not conscious until I consciously reflect on it. In your view, I am conscious of everything like this all the time, whether I’m aware of it or not. Is that correct?

    Yes.

    Ok, I’m beginning to see that you really do consider that thoughts I am not consciously aware of are still conscious thoughts. This isn’t really analogous to macular/peripheral vision, because we can be conscious of both of those types of visual experiences, even though one is fuzzier. In contrast, we have no conscious awareness whatsoever of how we manage to generate grammatical sentences, yet you wouuld still call that ability conscious.

    Yes. But I maintain that the macular vision example is quite good. We are usually “consciously aware” only of macular vision, and still we are “conscious” of the background vision. It is a question of degrees. In different states of consciousness, we can access distinctly the representations of the subconscious mind, for example. Dreams are exactly that.

    I find your usage of the term a bit ideosyncratic, but as long as you make yourself clear we can use your sense of the word. You call “conscious” any mental activity of someone who is capable of being of conscious at all, even if the particular activity does not present in his/her conscious awareness. Is that correct?

    Yes, if with “conscious awareness” you mean the specific state of consciousness that we could better name “waking consciousness”.

    Ok, so in your sense of the word we are conscious of everything we know, whether we consciously know that we know it or not.

    I would say that we are conscious of everything that our “I” perceives and represents, whatever the “degree” of the perception.

    If I get hit on the head, or get a dose of general anaesthetic, it seems to me I “lose consciousness” – I subsequently have no conscious awareness of anything at all. But according to you, I really shouldn’t say I have “lost consciousness” or I’ve “become unconscious”, but rather I should say “I am now conscious in a different way”.

    Well, although it is more difficult to demonstrate it for dreamless sleep or coma or anaesthetics, I do believe that we still are conscious in those states. I believe that the “I” never disappears. It only perceives different things. There are many reasons to believe that, but we could discuss them later.

    Ok, you’ve been quite clear. In your way of speaking, there is no such thing as losing consciousness – everybody is conscious all the time, no matter what. Now, here is my preferred definition of consciousness: “That which we lose when we fall into a dreamless sleep, and regain when we awaken”. I find that definition to be clear to everyone, but it doesn’t fit with what you mean by that word. So, I will ask you: Given that “it is consciousness all the way down”, and that we are conscious even in a dreamless sleep or coma, how exactly would you define the word “conscious”?

    The existence and continuity of the “I” is a conscious state. Our fundamental intuition is that we exists, and that we exist consciously. In that sense, full self-awareness is the highest way to be. But I am not thinking so much of the “waking state” self-awareness, which is very limited, but more of the awareness in mystic experiences :)

    Except obviously dFSCI is not a reliable indicator of human design, since humans clearly did not design the original human. The issue at hand is what exactly (if anything) is dFSCI a reliable indicator of? It is of course a reliable indicator of the ability to create dFSCI, but that is an empty statement. You say it is a reliable indicator of the activity of some conscious entity, but in your sense of the word “conscious”, this might not actually mean what most people mean when they talk about “conscious experience” or “conscious awareness”. Instead, it might be something that isn’t even aware that it is conscious, right?

    No, dFSCI is “a reliable indicator of human design”, because, apart from biological information, everything in the world we know of, exhibiting dFSCI, has been designed by humans. I would definitely call that a relaible indicator.

    The original human is part of biological information, so it is part of the only exception.

    I would say that the ability to generate dFSCI seems to be an indicator not only of consciousness, but also of intelligent and purposeful consciousness. Indeed, we have the example of animals, which are probably conscious, and yet cannot usually generate dFSCI, certainly not so easily as humans do. The human faculties which are certainly implied (casually or not) in human design are the ability to represent meaning and purpose and to output forms which have meaning and purpose. That is very simple indeed. Would you deny that, when I write a software, I am conscious of its purpose and of how it works? You say that we are not conscious of how we generate language. That may be true, but we are certainly conscious of its meaning and purpose before outputting it. IOWs, as I have said, the form which is outputted to the designed object is first represented in consciousness, and its meaning understood and recognized as desirable. That is the source of my assumption, perfectly reasonable, that those conscious activities are linked to the design process, and that dFSCI is a reliable indicator of those conscious activities.

    Except whatever you are inferencing to by analogy must necessary be radically different from a human being! Very central to the notion of what it means to be a “human being” is our astronomically complex physical machinery – the very things that ID attempts to explain. Unless you are positing that the Designer you infer is similar to human beings in that it is a complex organism, then whatever it is, it is something very much outside of our empircal understanding. And for that reason, it is not possible to warrant an inference that this Designer is similar to human beings in other ways. For example, we have no reason to assume the Designer has conscious awareness, or sensory perceptions, conscious beliefs and desires, emotions, and so on.

    Yes, radically different, and yet very similar, in the capacity to have conscious representations of meaning and purpose, at least according to my theory. And meaning and desire are certainly in the range of our empirical understanding. You see, mine is a theory. An explanation. Everything is a theory, in science and out of science. Mine (ID) is a scientific theory. It makes some assumptions, it makes inferences, and it explains things. And it is, at present, the best explanation for biological information. You may be happy with a “we don’t know” attitude for biological information and for dFSCI. I am not. I try to explain them.

    That is an assumption, not an inference based upon our empirical knowledge.

    As I have tried to explain, we make assumptions to build theories which make inferences that explain data. We cannot go anywhere without making assumptions. Inferences are the result. Assumptions are the building blocks of theories.

    The way I’m using the term here, if consciousness is not causal, then it cannot have an important role (or any role at all) in the design process. In other words, for all we know, a philosophical zombie might be capable of design. (If you are not familiar with philosophical zombies, just read about them on Wiki or something).

    IMO, nothing which is not conscious is capable of design. I will stick to that assumption until facts show me differently. I am very satisfied of how that assumption explains data.

    But there is tremendous doubt about how we think – in fact, we really have no idea how we do it! Just because human beings are conscious of their desire to build an airplane, say, before they do it, does not mean that ANYTHING – even somethign unimaginably different from a human being – would necessarily be conscious of their desires and intentions. This is my point.

    Doubts are always welcome. I am not in search of absolute truth. I am in search of good explanations. I keep my good explanations, and I am very interested in doubts about them.

    Virtually all of my discussions here eventually reach this point. In fact, I do not believe it is possible to justify the claim that ID is an empirically based theory without appealing to religious experiences and to so-called paranormal phenomena such as ESP or NDEs. There’s nothing wrong with taking these into account, but I would insist that this be acknowledged much more explicitly: Without evidence from religious experience and paranormal research, ID has no empirical support to suggest that the ORIGINAL complex physical organisms could have been designed by a thinking, conscious being.

    I do acknowledge that explicitly. Religious experiences and NDEs are important empirical data. I definitely base much of my map of reality on them, and all other empirical data available.

    I do indeed believe that questions of origins of the universe and of life must be answered by “We do not know”. That is the only intellectually honest response. However, I do NOT put all of our knowledge in the same uncertain category! We know a tremendous number of things – people from all over the world, from different cultures and religions, agree on a vast amount of scientific knowledge. Still, some questions remain unanswered, and these questions include the BIG QUESTIONS of origins.

    I beg to differ. While the question of the origin of the universe has certainly philosophical and religious connotations that necessarily are beyond scientific thinking (which does not mean that we must not try to answer it, or at least to have some scientific approach to it), the question of the origin of life is completely different. OOL (and its evolution) happens in the universe, in time and space. It absolutely requires some scientific explanation. We cannot avoid that. And if the explanation really requires consciousness as part of itself (as I do believe), then consciousness, as any other empirical fact, must be part of that explanation.

    IOWs, a question about something (the origin of biological information) which happens in space and time cannot, in principle, “remain unanswered”.

  46. GP: Recall, symbolic, discrete state codes — digitally coded, functionally specific information — is a manifestation of language and so also linguistic ability. KF

  47. KF:

    Yes, sure! Language is dFSCI. It is really amazing how every human being is able, through language, be it simple or sophisticated, to generate new, original dFSCI in order to express his conscious representations and desires. Even the simplest language output is original, complex and functional.

    We often use Shakespeare as a model of dFSCI. That is fine and elegant, but sometimes people think that what we mean is that Shakespeare was a great genius, and therefore he created something really special. While that is certainly true, it is important to remember that any trivial piece of information, such as a biographical sketch, or some mathematical definition, is dFSCI just the same, even if its content is not deep or poetical. The information is there, the complexity is there.

    Certainly, it would be interesting to assess the dbFSCI of language (digital beautiful FSCI), and there Shakespeare would certainly be a wonderful model, but I think I will not get involved in that, at present :)

  48. Just time for a quick comment ….

    Start here: when MF imposes a priori materialism and refuses to entertain the empirical fact of designing intelligence, that deadlocks any possibility of reasonable discussion due to a priori question begging.

    I don’t “refuse to entertain” anything. I am open to discussing all aspects of the philosophy of the mind while the debate remains constructive. It is some (but not all) IDists who repeatedly use the argument “X is so obviously true anyone who denies it must be stupid or dishonest”. I rarely see this argument among ID opponents and I am certainly happy to “entertain” almost any X in the sense of considering the possibility that X might be true and the evidence for and against it.

  49. MF:

    Pardon, but I must disagree. Here is your declaration as cited in the OP from where you originally made it:

    [re EA] #38

    [MF, in 50:] I see “chance” as usually meaning to “unpredictable” or “no known explanation”. The unknown explanations may be deterministic elements or genuinely random uncaused events which we just don’t know about.

    It can also includes things that happen as the result of intelligence – but as a materialist I believe intelligence to be a blend of the determined and random so for me that is not a third type of explanation.

    This is indeed an imposition of a materialist a priori. (And I add that the notion of uncaused events — which are things that have a beginning, they are not necessary beings — is incoherent and chaotic.)

    Second, you have managed to caricature the argument that self-evident truths exist and are foundational to reasoning.

    No responsible person argues that SET’s are “so obviously true anyone who denies it must be stupid or dishonest.”

    That, sir, is a loaded caricature; one projected unto the design movement as a whole.

    Indeed, in the recent (Nov. 30) UD blog post where I argued for SETs as foundational to reasoning and to the debates over design at worldview levels, I explicitly and extensively headlined Aquinas, in the context of his remark that SETs are in many cases beyond the ability of some people to understand them.

    Here is an excerpt from what Aquinas said:

    a thing is said to be self-evident in two ways: first, in itself; secondly, in relation to us. Any proposition is said to be self-evident in itself, if its predicate is contained in the notion of the subject: although, to one who knows not the definition of the subject, it happens that such a proposition is not self-evident. For instance, this proposition, “Man is a rational being,” is, in its very nature, self-evident, since who says “man,” says “a rational being”: and yet to one who knows not what a man is, this proposition is not self-evident . . .

    This clip is of course the opening part of the cite from Aquinas. And no, those are not my words, they are those of the Angelic doctor in translation.

    And, here is the description of what self evidence means that I presented as a basis for the discussion which went to 405 comments . . . including yourself from 35 on:

    self-evident does not merely mean perceived as obvious to oneself, which could indeed be a manifestation of a delusion. Nay, a self evident truth [SET] is best summarised as one known to be so and to be necessarily so without further proof from other things.

    That is, a SET is:

    a: actually true — it accurately reports some relevant feature of reality (e.g.: error exists)

    b: immediately recognised as true once one actually understands what is being asserted, in light of our conscious experience of the world (as in, no reasonable person would but recognise the reality that error exists)

    c: further seen as something that must be true, on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial. (E.g. try denying “error exists” . . . the absurdity is rapidly, forcefully manifest)

    This summary . . . and the three distinct criteria listed were presented in highlight colours — to draw attention . . . comes just before I cited Aquinas. So, there is no good reason why the above should be mischaracterised as you did above.

    I actually believe there are two highly relevant ways that one can misunderstand a SET: primary and secondary.

    Primary, being simply ignorant.

    Secondary, through being locked up into a scheme of thought that warps ability to perceive and understand. In the latter case, a classic instance appears in John 8:45 — 46, to wit:

    But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me . . . If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?

    Similarly in the Sermon on the Mount (his most famous speech and an all time classic of speech as an art form), Matt 6:22 – 23, he warns:

    Matt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

    I actually believe, as Galilee was a mixed Jewish and Gentile community and as he actually quotes Greek theatre lines in other context, he was echoing Plato’s Parable of the Cave here. If one’s mind and heart are full of Cave shadow shows, one will be likely to misunderstand and resist what should otherwise be fairly clear truth.

    Going beyond, observe the part c of the description, one can only reject SET by clinging to absurdity. But I have never said anywhere that one cannot convince him or herself that absurdity is true or reasonable. How could I, I grew up intellectually on a Marxist Uni campus as a member of the party of dissent from its conventional wisdoms, and was around to see the collapse of Marxism and how it affected the campus!

    Indeed, in some recent discussions there was a tendency to put up Euclid’s 5th postulate as a case in point of how the SET concept breaks down. Especially, by ID supporter, SC with support by another ID supporter, Mapou. (Notice, this is NOT a 1:1 match with the dividing lines over the design inference. That is why I am using this example.)

    You will recall that in 113 I responded by defining numbers starting withthe empty set and in outline building up to the real numbers, then going to the complex plane, and setting up a triangle ABC, with A at origin and AB the real axis (let me here say it is a right angle triangle, to make this easier).

    I used i = sqrt( -1) to define the y axis as orthogonal and the fact that the three corners in a triangle specify a plane, to highlight that we are indeed dealing with a guaranteed FLAT plane here.

    I then used the general expression for a straight line in a flat plane, y = m*x + c, to show that for given m and values of c c0, c1, c2, c3 etc, their separation at any value of x will be the same, i.e. the postulate is necessarily true in a plane, the precise context in which Euclid spoke to begin with, only he did not have access to complex numbers and algebra to specify this algebraically and so unambiguously.

    I then highlighted that when we see denials of the parallel line postulate, they invariably are NOT dealing with a flat plane, e.g. they deal with the surface of a sphere, and the like. I then cited Wolfram:

    In three dimensions, there are three classes of constant curvature geometries. All are based on the first four of Euclid’s postulates, but each uses its own version of the parallel postulate. The “flat” geometry of everyday intuition is called Euclidean geometry (or parabolic geometry), and the non-Euclidean geometries are called hyperbolic geometry (or Lobachevsky-Bolyai-Gauss geometry) and elliptic geometry (or Riemannian geometry). Spherical geometry is a non-Euclidean two-dimensional geometry. It was not until 1868 that Beltrami proved that non-Euclidean geometries were as logically consistent as Euclidean geometry.

    Now, I did all of this to lay a basis of understanding in the teeth of what I regard as secondary ignorance that I myself once shared on how the Euclidean scheme breaks down. Then, the light bulb went off, oops, there is an ambiguity here that changes Euclid’s context of meaning and makes him sound like he is talking nonsense. A spherical surface is NOT a flat plane, and a curved spatial fabric otherwise is NOT a flat one. Also, the question as to the actual space-time properties of the cosmos we live in is separate and distinct from the question as to whether the flat space suggested by our ordinary scale experience has the logical propertied Euclid highlighted.

    Now, notice too: there is no way that the argument I developed is accessible to someone who has not had algebra and complex numbers, as well as set theory at at least a basic level, or understood enough to know the subtleties of the place value notation system used in decimal numbers and how we can treat it as an infinite series to get continuity. Indeed, if you are unaware of the distinction between a countable transfinite and the transfinite of the continuum, there will be aspects that you will miss.

    But once you get there you will see that a truly flat plane, guaranteed so by the algebra involved and the geometry involved, as well as the rotational properties of complex numbers [which are really vectors] — belts and braces — will indeed necessarily have the parallel line postulate holding. You can only deny that by clinging to absurd consequences that boil down to a breakdown of the algebra into incoherence. (The value of C, a defined constant, will have to change depending on x value to make parallel straight lines in a flat plane converge or diverge, which is nonsense.)

    Is this accessible to the ordinary man? Patently not.

    But, the one who has the relevant background will at once see that in light of his experience and knowledge base, it is true, it is necessarily true and it is true on pain of being forced to cling to absurdity on attempted denial.

    Even so, a great many highly educated people, myself included, were led to disbelieve this, and I do not doubt that some will cling to the dismissal that is so widely promoted.

    Going back tot he discussion in that Nov 30 Aquinas thread, you will doubtless recall how a major fuss was made over how E = “error exists” is an alleged instance of the thought crime of “reification.” You will see that I took time to point out that in so summarising Royce and arguing that this is a SET, I am simply asserting that the set that collects errors is necessarily non-empty as the case of attempted denial of E is a proposition ~E that then leads to the composite E AND ~E which is necessarily false, and an error. So R the set that collects errors must be non-empty. The reality of abstract entities such as propositions and numbers is NOT improper attribution of physical properties to such. Where also the insinuation in recent dictionaries etc that it is only the physically manifest that is REAL, is an instance of slipping in dubious ideological a prioris in the back door.

    So, you will see why I say, again, you have misrepresenated the view of those who hold that SETs are real, and that they are foundational to reasoning, especially the first principles of right reason. (Onlookers, kindly cf here on for why I say this.)

    So also, you now face a test: will you now simply and directly acknowledge that your projection as to what certain design thinkers believe about SETs, as I have cited above from you, is in error and distorts our view, or will you find some rhetorical out and slip-slide away?

    KF

  50. KF – #49.

    I was only explaining what I believe to be true and the consequences of that belief. I did not meant to imply that it was not up for discussion or that is some kind of a priori commitment. I am sorry I don’t have time to read the entire comment.

  51. Except obviously dFSCI is not a reliable indicator of human design, since humans clearly did not design the original human. The issue at hand is what exactly (if anything) is dFSCI a reliable indicator of? It is of course a reliable indicator of the ability to create dFSCI, but that is an empty statement.

    Every time we have observed dFSCI and knew the cause it has always been via intelligent agency- always, 100% of the time. We have never observed nature, operating freely, producing dFSCI- never, 0% of the time.

    That means, scientifically, if we observe dFSCI and do not know the cause we can scientifically infer it was via some intelligent agency.

    That’s how science operates RD. Don’t blame us for your misunderstandings.

  52. MF:

    It is some (but not all) IDists who repeatedly use the argument “X is so obviously true anyone who denies it must be stupid or dishonest”.

    Evos use it all of the time- see Dawkins, for example. However what evos can’t do is tell us how to objectively test the claims of their position. It’s as if they are afraid.

  53. Hi Joe:

    Hope the season goes well and that 2014 will be well.

    (That extends to all.)

    RD needs to address the FSCI threshold of complexity issue (500 – 1,000 bits) and its import that no atom based blind process, whether chance or necessity or both in combination, can plausibly get us to FSCO/I and especially digitally coded FSCI, which, is a LINGUISTIC and often an ALGORITHMIC — thus purposive — phenomenon. We do know that intelligences routinely produce FSCO/I using insight and creativity, and we know that there is no good reason to confine intelligence to humans.

    Indeed, the evidence from the world of life points to intelligence antecedent to life on earth, and the fine tuning of the cosmos that facilitates such, points to intelligent, powerful design antecedent to the observed material cosmos.

    The increasingly strained objections highlight the real balance on the merits.

    KF

  54. MF:

    The import of your declaration is that it is your policy to a priori rule out design. I suggest instead, start from the empirical fact of designers and their capacity then without injecting controlling a prioris, go out from there.

    As to no time, there is no rush.

    The issue of projecting the idea that we are asserting that SETs are obvious and in that obviousness only the dishonest disagree is a sufficiently serious misunderstanding of our point that you should take due time to correct it.

    Unfortunately, your emphasis on “obvious[ness]” forces me to use an example that is anything but obvious (save to those with considerable background in Mathematics probably requiring at least supplements to A Level Math circa 1979 . . . I cannot vouch for current syllabi but am aware of that story of an O level problem later turning up in an A level Math exam . . . ) but once one is equipped to understand is clear once seen, and is undeniable save on patent absurdity.

    Also, a case that cuts across the sides of the ID disputes and where I too was once one of those who did not understand in due to ignorance in both senses in succession: first I didn’t know the Math then I did not think second time about the spherical surface triangle. The aha moment when I spotted that OOPS, that was why Azimov said PLANE truth about that postulate, was a real eye-opener.

    I trust we can come to reasonable common ground.

    KF

  55. [MF, in 50:] I see “chance” as usually meaning to “unpredictable” or “no known explanation”. The unknown explanations may be deterministic elements or genuinely random uncaused events which we just don’t know about.

    It can also includes things that happen as the result of intelligence – but as a materialist I believe intelligence to be a blend of the determined and random so for me that is not a third type of explanation.

    So that means there are no artifacts, no murders and no crimes

  56. KF

    The import of your declaration is that it is your policy to a priori rule out design. I suggest instead, start from the empirical fact of designers and their capacity then without injecting controlling a prioris, go out from there.

    Not at all.  I said “as a materialist I believe intelligence to be a blend of the determined and random so for me that is not a third type of explanation.” Of course I accept that things are designed. I design things myself. However, I believe that intelligence which includes design comes to down a blend of the determined and the random. This does not attempt to rule out things being designed, but is my conclusion about what happens when things are designed. This belief is a conclusion, not an a priori commitment. You certainly disagree with my conclusion but it did not involve me refusing to entertain anything.

  57. Hi gpuccio,

    RDF: In your view, I am conscious of everything like this all the time, whether I’m aware of it or not. Is that correct?
    GP: Yes.

    I really do find your notion of “consciousness” to be unusual. Most people say things like “I lost consciousness” or “I was not conscious of my discomfort” or “I consciously tried to ignore him”, and none of these statements make sense under your definition of the word.

    I think what you mean by “consciousness” is more closely related to what other people call “mind”. That word, for most people, includes both conscious and unconscious (or subconscious) mental faculties, and persists when people fall into a dreamless sleep.

    But I’m picking up here that you might be familiar with different states of consciousness, and I would certainly agree with you that consciousness is experienced in varying states and degrees.

    No, dFSCI is “a reliable indicator of human design”, because, apart from biological information, everything in the world we know of, exhibiting dFSCI, has been designed by humans. I would definitely call that a relaible indicator.

    Apart from biological systems, yes. But since biological systems were not originally designed by humans, this exception means that the indicator is in fact not reliable!

    Would you deny that, when I write a software, I am conscious of its purpose and of how it works?

    No I would not deny that. Using either of our meanings for “conscious” this is true. However, as for what you call “waking consciousness” (and I just call “consciousness”), this is not always true when we design other things (such as our sentences, the plans we devise to control our bodies or our automobiles in time and space, our unconscious solving of problems, and so on).

    You say that we are not conscious of how we generate language. That may be true,…

    It is quite true, and if anyone could figure it out, they would be quite famous!

    …but we are certainly conscious of its meaning and purpose before outputting it.

    No, not always. There are cases of people with lesions in certain parts of their brains who experience their own verbalizations as external – they do not know what they are going to say until they hear themselves say it. Even people without such lesions are often surprised by what they themselves say. People often say things like “I heard myself tell my mother to shut up – I didn’t mean to say it, but it just came out!”. I had a colleague who insisted he could only think things through by talking it out; he would say “How am I supposed to know what I mean until I hear what I say?”. And psychologists know that talking about a problem is very different than thinking about a problem – we gain new insights when we listen to ourselves talk.

    The point is that our minds are not unary things, and our conscious understanding is limited in many ways, and most of our thinking occurs without conscious awareness. The relevance to ID is that the production of CSI cannot be assumed to require conscious thought (in the common sense of the word).

    RDF: That is an assumption, not an inference based upon our empirical knowledge.
    GP: As I have tried to explain, we make assumptions to build theories which make inferences that explain data. We cannot go anywhere without making assumptions. Inferences are the result. Assumptions are the building blocks of theories.

    If you are talking about scientific or empirical theories, then you have left out a vital step. What you call “assumptions” are called “hypotheses” in scientific research. We invent hypotheses that would, if true, explain the phenomenon in question. But then – and this is critical – we must actually find ways to demonstrate that our hypothesis is correct!

    I will stick to that assumption until facts show me differently. I am very satisfied of how that assumption explains data.

    Again, this turns empirical inquiry on its head: We do not accept our hypotheses until they are disproven; rather, we only accept them once they are verified.

    I do acknowledge that explicitly. Religious experiences and NDEs are important empirical data. I definitely base much of my map of reality on them, and all other empirical data available.

    Yes, this is along the lines of what I’m talking about with regard to empirical support for your hypothesis (although we disagree about the strength of this particular evidence).

    OOL (and its evolution) happens in the universe, in time and space. It absolutely requires some scientific explanation.

    I agree that OOL is something that demands explanation, in the sense that it is a central and fascinating question that we have no explanation for.

    And if the explanation really requires consciousness as part of itself (as I do believe), then consciousness, as any other empirical fact, must be part of that explanation.

    If there were empirical facts that supported the hypothesis that some sort of conscious entity existed prior to biological life, then I would agree with you. There is, however, no such evidence – there is only the biological life that we are attempting to explain.

    IOWs, a question about something (the origin of biological information) which happens in space and time cannot, in principle, “remain unanswered”.

    I find this attitude quite peculiar, really: Who says that we must have all the answers? What is wrong with admitting that there are some things we do not understand? What principle are you referring to that prevents us from remaining ignorant about some things in our universe?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  58. MF,

    Pardon, but let me go through in steps:

    [MF, in 50 in the original thread as linked in the OP:]

    >>I see “chance” as usually meaning to “unpredictable” or “no known explanation”.>>

    1 –> Chance entities are often predictable to the level of a statistical distribution, and may often have an explanation as is offered for how a falling tumbling fair die puts on a pretty good imitation of a flat random distribution mathematical model.

    2 –> A standard 6-sided die cannot read 7 for instance, or 0, as these are not in the range of possibilities.

    >> The unknown explanations may be deterministic elements>>

    3 –> Deterministic elements may be involved, but usually the situation with a tumbling die is chaotic, dependent on fine, uncontrolled variability that is amplified by the nonlinearities.

    >> or genuinely random uncaused events>>

    4 –> An event by definition begins, and that which begins has a cause, depending on on/off enabling factors. The denial of this leads to absurdities as long since extensively highlighted at UD.

    5 –> Quantum randomness such as the tunnelling associated with alpha emission, is constrained by such causal factors that make a given nuclide an alpha emitter.

    >> which we just don’t know about.>>

    6 –> What we do not or even may not specifically know does not remove what we do know about on/off enabling factors, and about the necessary contingency of that which has a beginning . . . which includes, credibly, our observed cosmos — the only actually observed cosmos.

    >>It can also includes things that happen as the result of intelligence –>>

    7 –> If a die is intelligently tossed, yes, but if you mean here that intelligence mimics chance, that is not the same thing.

    >> but as a materialist>>

    8 –> There’s the first loading.

    >> I believe intelligence to be a blend of the determined and random>>

    9 –> So, when you see a case of intelligence in action you assign it to chance and/or necessity.

    10 –> This overlooks the major complexity threshold of 500 – 1,000 bits faced bu blind chance and mechanical necessity, which makes it maximally implausible as an explanation for functionally specific complex organisation and associated information.

    11 –> This sets up what follows

    >>so for me that is not a third type of explanation.>>

    12 –> There’s the lock-out, driven by a priori commitment to materialism.

    The result of the pattern just pointed out is deadlock.

    Ask yourself, what evidence could have a reasonable chance of empirically correcting my pattern of thought.

    For just one instance, can you identify a case of observed origin of say digitally coded functionally specific information at or beyond 1,000 bits by blind chance and mechanical necessity, and what does the needle in haystack challenge on the scope of 10^80 atoms, 10^25 s and atomic action speeds of say 10^-14 s per action.

    To make this concrete, consider a string of 1,000 fair coins on a table, all reading H, then another reading alternating H and T, then another, the ascii code for the first 143 characters of this post. Would it be reasonable to attribute any of these cases to blind chance and mechanical necessity, in light of the dominant cluster of outcomes for the associated binomial distribution? Why?

    Similarly, functionally specific complex organisation in general can be represented by an appropriately coded bit string. If we are beyond 1,000 bits, much the same will obtain.

    Now, it turns out that the pattern of fine tuned constants etc in physics that set up our observed cosmos as a fit context for C-chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life, will very rapidly run past 1,000 bits worth of FSCO/I . . . just a few of the constants will do that. What then blocks the inference from that FSCO/I to design of the observed physical cosmos and instead leads you to conclude that design in this case reduces to blind chance and mechanical necessity?

    And that still does not address the loaded mischaracterisation of how we have been speaking of self-evident truth.

    Both need to be addressed.

    KF

  59. MF:

    Of course I accept that things are designed. I design things myself. However, I believe that intelligence which includes design comes to down a blend of the determined and the random.

    Believe whatever you want. It ain’t science

  60. RD:

    If there were empirical facts that supported the hypothesis that some sort of conscious entity existed prior to biological life, then I would agree with you.

    There are such empirical facts. Newton wrote his “Principia” on those facts.

  61. RDFish:

    In order:

    I really do find your notion of “consciousness” to be unusual. Most people say things like “I lost consciousness” or “I was not conscious of my discomfort” or “I consciously tried to ignore him”, and none of these statements make sense under your definition of the word.

    I think what you mean by “consciousness” is more closely related to what other people call “mind”. That word, for most people, includes both conscious and unconscious (or subconscious) mental faculties, and persists when people fall into a dreamless sleep.

    But I’m picking up here that you might be familiar with different states of consciousness, and I would certainly agree with you that consciousness is experienced in varying states and degrees.

    Well, I will stick to my definition nthat consciousness exists anytime a subject (an “I”) represents something, whatever the degree and modality of the representation. “Mind” is not a satisfying concept for me.

    Apart from biological systems, yes. But since biological systems were not originally designed by humans, this exception means that the indicator is in fact not reliable!

    Again, if an object is not a biological system, the presence of dFSCI in it allows a correct human design inference in 100% of cases. Is that nothing, for you?

    No I would not deny that. Using either of our meanings for “conscious” this is true. However, as for what you call “waking consciousness” (and I just call “consciousness”), this is not always true when we design other things (such as our sentences, the plans we devise to control our bodies or our automobiles in time and space, our unconscious solving of problems, and so on).

    But it is always true under my definition of consciousness.

    No, not always. There are cases of people with lesions in certain parts of their brains who experience their own verbalizations as external – they do not know what they are going to say until they hear themselves say it. Even people without such lesions are often surprised by what they themselves say. People often say things like “I heard myself tell my mother to shut up – I didn’t mean to say it, but it just came out!”. I had a colleague who insisted he could only think things through by talking it out; he would say “How am I supposed to know what I mean until I hear what I say?”. And psychologists know that talking about a problem is very different than thinking about a problem – we gain new insights when we listen to ourselves talk.

    You are just describing strategies of communication between various states of the same consciousness. I have discussed some time ago the particular cases of apparent multiple personalities. I believe that, in most cases, they can be explained exactly as “multitasking” of the same “I” through different mental structures. Unless we are considering possession, I believe that the “I” remains one, even if its manifestations can sometimes be amazingly differentiated.

    The point is that our minds are not unary things, and our conscious understanding is limited in many ways, and most of our thinking occurs without conscious awareness. The relevance to ID is that the production of CSI cannot be assumed to require conscious thought (in the common sense of the word).

    Our minds are certainly not unary. That is absolutely obvious. What is unary is the perceiving subject which is what we really are.

    The production of CSI does require an I and its conscious representations, of whatever kind. In some cases, they are not of the kind that I call “waking consciousness”. There is no problem with that.

    If you are talking about scientific or empirical theories, then you have left out a vital step. What you call “assumptions” are called “hypotheses” in scientific research. We invent hypotheses that would, if true, explain the phenomenon in question. But then – and this is critical – we must actually find ways to demonstrate that our hypothesis is correct!

    Assumptions are part of an hypothesis, or more generally of a theory. You seem not to understand that scientific hypotheses can never be shown to be correct. At best, they can be falsified. The only thing we can show is that our hypotheses are in some way supported by known facts, in the sense that they explain them better than competing hypotheses, and sometimes (but not always) in the sense that they make better predictions.

    Again, this turns empirical inquiry on its head: We do not accept our hypotheses until they are disproven; rather, we only accept them once they are verified.

    Again, the same error. Scientific hypotheses are never “verified”. Their value depends on how well they explain known facts. New facts can support an existing hypothesis, or sometimes falsify it. They can never verify it. No scientific theory can be said to be finally “true”.

    Yes, this is along the lines of what I’m talking about with regard to empirical support for your hypothesis (although we disagree about the strength of this particular evidence).

    OK, that’s fine. And we certainly disagree about the strength.

    I agree that OOL is something that demands explanation, in the sense that it is a central and fascinating question that we have no explanation for.

    Design by some non physical conscious agent is certainly a possible explanation. A possible explanation is certainly better than no explanation.

    If there were empirical facts that supported the hypothesis that some sort of conscious entity existed prior to biological life, then I would agree with you. There is, however, no such evidence – there is only the biological life that we are attempting to explain

    The biological life itself is certainly an empirical fact, and according to ID theory it does support that some sort of conscious entity existed prior to biological life, because that is the only possible explanation available.

    Obviously, there are many other arguments that support the idea of non physical conscious entities. OK, we disagree about the strength :)

    I find this attitude quite peculiar, really: Who says that we must have all the answers? What is wrong with admitting that there are some things we do not understand? What principle are you referring to that prevents us from remaining ignorant about some things in our universe?

    There are many things that we do not understand. There are probably many things that we will never understand by our limited reason. But I do not accept that there are things manifesting in time and space, and therefore “exposed” to our understanding, however limited, for which we are a priori “authorized” not to look for an answer. So, I will always look for an answer for that kind of things. It is called scientific curiosity. And it is a very good thing.

  62. Hi gpuccio,

    The production of CSI does require an I and its conscious representations, of whatever kind.

    So this is a central disagreement between us. I don’t think we have any theory, any principle, or any evidence that can support this assertion. Consciousness is not something we understand, and neither is our ability to design things, so making these sorts of statements is purely conjectural (even to the extent that the concepts, such as the “I”, are well-defined).

    Assumptions are part of an hypothesis, or more generally of a theory. You seem not to understand that scientific hypotheses can never be shown to be correct. At best, they can be falsified.

    This is true in a very strict epistemological sense of course, but the fact is we all know a huge number of scientific hypotheses that have been shown to be correct. Do you not believe that cigarettes can cause lung cancer, or that obesity contributes to diabetes, or that seat belts save lives overall? How about that light bends around massive objects, travels through space unmediated, and has a speed independent of its source? All of these statements (and as many others as we’d like to think up) were once controversial hypotheses, are now very well-established truths. But none of these were taken as “assumptions” – they were all hypotheses that had to be verified by scientific research.

    Simply making an assumption that we find provides a satisfying explanation for some phenomenon is only the start of process. In order to claim it as knowledge, we have to find ways to justify our belief.

    New facts can support an existing hypothesis, or sometimes falsify it. They can never verify it. No scientific theory can be said to be finally “true”.

    This is not at all what we disagree about. What we disagree about is whether or not your assumption that consciousness is necessary for the production of CSI has any empirical support. Since we do not understand what consciousness is, nor what it does, nor what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for its existence, nor how we accomplish design tasks, I think it is very clear that your assumption is without any empirical support at all – with the exception of the evidence you’ve mentioned having to do with paranormal phenomena and religious experience.

    Design by some non physical conscious agent is certainly a possible explanation. A possible explanation is certainly better than no explanation.

    I disagree – I think explanations are valuable only to the extent that they are correct. The explanations of disease that encouraged people to sacrifice animals to gods rather than wash their hands before eating were not better than nothing, for example.

    The biological life itself is certainly an empirical fact, and according to ID theory it does support that some sort of conscious entity existed prior to biological life…

    This is fallacious reasoning, similar to the old joke:

    Ted: Why are you snapping your fingers?
    Fred: To keep the tigers away!
    Ted: There are no tigers in New York City!
    Fred: See – it works!
    * * *
    Ted: What explains biological complexity?
    Fred: A conscious mind!
    Ted: How do you know a conscious mind was involved?
    Fred: Because we observe biological complexity!

    So you can see that you can’t use the phenomenon you are attempting to explain as evidence that your hypothesis is true. Once you invent an hypotheses that explains your observation, you must find evidence that is not simply your original observation that supports your hypothesis. Otherwise, it would be very easy to provide support for anything we choose to believe!

    …because that is the only possible explanation available.

    And this is another fallacy: We have no idea what the range of possible explanations are for extraordinary questions such as the existence of life and the universe. The answers may well be much stranger than simply “a human-like mind” – in fact, the answers may be stranger than we can imagine or understand. Or, we may someday learn a great deal more about reality and derive answers that we can understand. Nobody knows!

    Obviously, there are many other arguments that support the idea of non physical conscious entities. OK, we disagree about the strength :)

    Yes – perhaps we can discuss those arguments another time.

    But I do not accept that there are things manifesting in time and space, and therefore “exposed” to our understanding, however limited, for which we are a priori “authorized” not to look for an answer. So, I will always look for an answer for that kind of things. It is called scientific curiosity. And it is a very good thing.

    Nobody (certainly not me) ever said we shouldn’t be looking for answers! Of course we should! I am driven by a huge scientific curiosity, and am very excited that research into the nature of consciousness and cognition is proceeding very rapidly! OOL and how the universe came to exist are big questions that I don’t see a lot of progress on, but I’m certainly hoping that we do make progress on those questions to.

    ID, however, doesn’t provide any empirically-support answers to any of these questions. The hypotheses of ID (to the extent they are well-defined, which is usually not the case) are not characterized in any way that we can tell if they are true or not.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  63. RD:

    ID, however, doesn’t provide any empirically-support answers to any of these questions.

    O disagree but what paradigm does? Please be specific.

    Do you realize that if we cannot answer the OoL question then we cannot answer the evolution question either- they are directly linked.

    Ted: How do explain Stonehenge?
    Fred: Concious Designers
    Ted: How do you know concious designers did it?
    Fred: Counterflow

  64. Ted: What explains biological complexity?
    Fred: A conscious mind!
    Ted: How do you know a conscious mind was involved?
    Fred: Counterflow!

  65. Re, RDF:

    >> The hypotheses of ID (to the extent they are well-defined, which is usually not the case) are not characterized in any way that we can tell if they are true or not. >>

    1 –> Broad-brush caricature + dismissal

    2 –> The pivotal design assertion is that there are certain features of the natural world that manifest signs best explained on intelligent design rather than by blind chance or necessity.

    3 –> For instance FSCO/I beyond 500 – 1,000 bits is commonly seen being created. In every observed case, by intelligence.

    4 –> Where also a simple needle in haystack analysis of the config space search capacity of the 10^57 atoms of the sol system or 10^80 of the observed cosmos each acting as observers of say the state of a 500 or 1,000 coin H/T system respectively and trying a new config every 10^-14 s, will show inability to sample any more than an all but zero fraction, rendering it maximally implausible that such could chance upon relatively rare functionally specific clusters.

    5 –> That these will be rare, islands of function, is effectively guaranteed by the requirements of well matched correctly arranged components to achieve function.

    6 –> For simple example of such islands try the 500 coin case, with clusters such as (i) all H (b) alternating H and T, (c) spelling out the first 72 characters of this post in ASCII code. Contrast the overwhelming bulk of possibilities near 50-50 distribution in no particular order.

    7 –> In short we have an example of a phenomenon only seen by intelligent design, and for which chance and necessity without design, will have no credible capacity per analysis.

    8 –> Such a simple toy example then extends to in the world of life the FSCO/I of an encapsulated, gate-controlled, metabolic automaton with a code based self replicating facility dependent on homochirality, enfolding 100 – 1,000 k bits worth of info at the low end just for genome.

    9 –> For the cosmos, we have the fine tuned physics that enables such life to be, which on just the precision and the array of laws and constants and the like easily runs by similar thresholds, with a specificity that is astonishing.

    10 –> So, we see in the origin of the cosmos, of life and of major body plans, features that the only empirically grounded sources are intelligent ones, and good reason to dismiss chance and necessity without design as credible explanations.

    11 –> Where a simple test such as to generate by chance and necessity without intelligence 72 characters of text in english that make sense, is well known and it is abundantly well known that to date the peak is 24 characters, something like a factor of 10^100 too short of config space size. That is, the proposition that FSCO/I comes form design is testable, tested and abundantly supported, but would be easily disconfirmed if that were to be observed.

    12 –> All of this RDF et al know, have known for years, or at minimum SHOULD full well know, as it has been put to them ad nauseam, to the point where I find writing this yet again a weariness.

    13 –> What is their out? to pretend that intelligence and design or function or something like that, are not well defined.

    14 –> But if a random text generation exercise were to come up with FSCO/I or any of dozens of attempted falsifications I have seen over years — like the youtube vid of the self assembling clock that is blind to its blunders and so many others, this would be at once trumpeted. As the failed attempts were repeatedly trumpeted until they were shot down one by one, many of them here at UD.

    15 –> So, it is only fair comment to say that these new objections are a fall-back in defense of a fixed ideology, they are rhetorical cavils, not a serious argument. Humans are intelligent, as would be any other being with similar capacity per definition by key example and family resemblance, aka ostensive definition. Design is all around us. Functionality depending on correct arrangement of proper parts in a complex entity is a patent point. And so forth.

    KF

  66. RDFish:

    In order:

    So this is a central disagreement between us. I don’t think we have any theory, any principle, or any evidence that can support this assertion. Consciousness is not something we understand, and neither is our ability to design things, so making these sorts of statements is purely conjectural (even to the extent that the concepts, such as the “I”, are well-defined).

    OK, so be it. We disagree. I will stick to my “conjectural” statement.

    This is true in a very strict epistemological sense of course, but the fact is we all know a huge number of scientific hypotheses that have been shown to be correct. Do you not believe that cigarettes can cause lung cancer, or that obesity contributes to diabetes, or that seat belts save lives overall? How about that light bends around massive objects, travels through space unmediated, and has a speed independent of its source? All of these statements (and as many others as we’d like to think up) were once controversial hypotheses, are now very well-established truths. But none of these were taken as “assumptions” – they were all hypotheses that had to be verified by scientific research.

    Epistemology is everything in science. Renounce even a little bit of your epistemology, and you are lost. And, IMO, you are definitely lost.

    Again, hypotheses and theories can be more or less controversial, or sometimes not controversial at all, but they are never “verified”.

    Some theories work very well, explain very well what we observe, and are not falsified by observations. We use them, we consider them a treasure, but still they are not “verified”, least of all “well-established truths”. And still they can be falsified by new facts. So, I will leave you to your “truths”, and keep my good theories.

    Moreover, I must remind you that consensus is scarcely a guarantee of how well a theory explains things. As philosophers of science well know, and certainly you with them, cultural bias and cognitive bias are always at the door. That’s why the least consistent and least empirically supported theory of our times, neo-darwinism, is still proclaimed as a “fact, and not a theory”, and endorsed as something “more certain than the theory of gravitation” by present academy. That simply means that we can expect anything from “scientific consensus”.

    Simply making an assumption that we find provides a satisfying explanation for some phenomenon is only the start of process. In order to claim it as knowledge, we have to find ways to justify our belief.

    I have never told anything different. I quote myself:

    “Assumptions are part of an hypothesis, or more generally of a theory. You seem not to understand that scientific hypotheses can never be shown to be correct. At best, they can be falsified. The only thing we can show is that our hypotheses are in some way supported by known facts, in the sense that they explain them better than competing hypotheses, and sometimes (but not always) in the sense that they make better predictions“. (Emphasis added).

    If our hypothesis explains facts better than competing hypotheses, and makes better predictions, it is simply the best explanation available. Not the truth. The best explanation available. From a scientific point of view, that’s a very good thing.

    So, it should be clear that, for me, assumptions are the building blocks of theories, and that theories (and not their assumptions) are judged according to their explanatory and predicting value. This is my epistemology, and I believe it is good. And I stick to it.

    This is not at all what we disagree about. What we disagree about is whether or not your assumption that consciousness is necessary for the production of CSI has any empirical support. Since we do not understand what consciousness is, nor what it does, nor what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for its existence, nor how we accomplish design tasks, I think it is very clear that your assumption is without any empirical support at all – with the exception of the evidence you’ve mentioned having to do with paranormal phenomena and religious experience.

    First of all, my assumption has empirical support. And we disagree on its “strength”.

    Second, not understanding what consciousness is no problem for including it in a theory. Consciousness is a fact, and can be treated as such. “Explaining” it, or “understanding what it is” is not necessary to use it in a theory. Facts must not be understood or explained to be included in theories. They must only be correctly observed and described.

    Third, as I have tried to explain, assumption are part of a theory. They must not have “empirical support” (although, like in our case, they can certainly have it). It is the general theory, built on those assumptions, that must be judged according to its explanatory power and its predictions. Your problem is that, not being able to criticize the power of the theory, you criticize the assumption. That is bad epistemology, and strong cognitive bias.

    I disagree – I think explanations are valuable only to the extent that they are correct. The explanations of disease that encouraged people to sacrifice animals to gods rather than wash their hands before eating were not better than nothing, for example.

    Again, very bad epistemology. Explanations are never “correct”. They can be good explanations or bad explanations. A good explanation must have explanatory power. Neo-darwinism, for example, has absolutely no explanatory power, and still people consider it a good theory. It is a bad theory, because it does not explain anything.

    A theory can explain facts rather well, and still at some moment be falsified just the same. That’s why an explanation can be good, but is never “correct”.

    So you can see that you can’t use the phenomenon you are attempting to explain as evidence that your hypothesis is true. Once you invent an hypotheses that explains your observation, you must find evidence that is not simply your original observation that supports your hypothesis. Otherwise, it would be very easy to provide support for anything we choose to believe!

    No. There is no fallacy. It is your misrepresentation and your cognitive bias, nothing else.

    Let’s see. I wrote:

    “The biological life itself is certainly an empirical fact, and according to ID theory it does support that some sort of conscious entity existed prior to biological life…”

    My reasoning is very simple and very good. ID theory, by recognizing an empirical property of objects, dFSCI, that is linked to the intervention of some conscious agent in all cases whose true origin can be ascertained, allows a very reasonable inference of design by a conscious agent for all objects with dFSCI, and whose origin cannot be ascertained independently. This is very good scientific reasoning. Your objections to that are pointless. I need not demonstrate that consciousness is causal to the generation of dFSCI (although I certainly believe that, and it is certainly extremely reasonable to believe that). I just need to establish the constant connection between dFSCI and the intervention of a conscious agent. And that you cannot deny, because facts support that statement completely. It’s only your cognitive bias that motivates you to deny the undeniable.

    Now, that means that biological information becomes immediately an enigma. It exhibits dFSCI in tons, and yet it seems unlikely that it was designed by humans, or by other physical conscious beings (except maybe aliens). No other explanation of it is available (neo-darwinism is not an explanation at all). But all known facts suggest that, at various points in natural history, functional information was repeatedly inputted in living beings, and that is exactly what we observe when there is an intervention by a conscious designer. That’s why it is perfectly natural to consider the posiibility of some non physical designer.

    But here your bias becomes evident. You object that we have no evidence of the existence of such a designer, ans ask for it. I can answer that we have no evidence that such a designer does not exist, indeed we have many empirical indications that it exists (on whose strength we disagree), and most human beings at all times have believed that non physical conscious agents exist. The fact remains that such agent or agents could exist, and that the existence of biological information and of dFSCI in it is a very strong support to that hypothesis.

    Now, let’s consider some similar scenarios. Let’s take the theory of Big Bang. Why do most scientists believe that the Big Bang happened? It is simple: because some things we observe now are best explained by that assumption.

    If I were strongly motivated not to accept the assunption of the Big Bang, I could say that I require independent verification and evidence that the Big Bang happened, that it is a fallacy that I use the things that the Big Bang should explain as evidence for it. IOWs, I could act as you are acting: unfairly, dogmatically, ready to all in order to justify my cognitive bias. What can I tell you? Good luck…

    And this is another fallacy: We have no idea what the range of possible explanations are for extraordinary questions such as the existence of life and the universe. The answers may well be much stranger than simply “a human-like mind” – in fact, the answers may be stranger than we can imagine or understand. Or, we may someday learn a great deal more about reality and derive answers that we can understand. Nobody knows!

    The fallacy is yours, and it is as big as a whole universe! It is the fallacy of refuting a good explanation for observed things without having any better explanation, only because you don’t like it, and appealing to the myth of “possible explanations to come”, of which you don’t give any real hint. That is not science. That is dogma, based on fairy tales.

    Science is made with the explanations we have. Or by finding better explanation. It is not made by saying that “the answers may be stranger than we can imagine or understand”. That is only bad philosophy. And it is completely unfair.

    Yes – perhaps we can discuss those arguments another time.

    Anytime you like.

    Nobody (certainly not me) ever said we shouldn’t be looking for answers! Of course we should! I am driven by a huge scientific curiosity, and am very excited that research into the nature of consciousness and cognition is proceeding very rapidly! OOL and how the universe came to exist are big questions that I don’t see a lot of progress on, but I’m certainly hoping that we do make progress on those questions to.

    Maybe we don’t “make progress”, in spite of the huge amount of evidence we are gathering, because we are trying to fit the evidence where it does not fit at all (in the neo-darwinian model). A design model will help us to make real progress. Lies do not help to do that.

    ID, however, doesn’t provide any empirically-support answers to any of these questions. The hypotheses of ID (to the extent they are well-defined, which is usually not the case) are not characterized in any way that we can tell if they are true or not.

    What can I say? Misrepresentation, cognitive bias. Nothing good, in that kind of statement.

  67. Gpuccio #66 Second, not understanding what consciousness is no problem for including it in a theory. Consciousness is a fact, and can be treated as such. “Explaining” it, or “understanding what it is” is not necessary to use it in a theory. Facts must not be understood or explained to be included in theories. They must only be correctly observed and described.

    Gpuccio makes many excellent points and this is one of them. Allow me to add an obvious inference: consciousness cannot be added in a materialistic theory without invalidating it as a materialistic theory. And the main reason is because there is no general encompassing materialistic concept (GEMC) of consciousness.

    As an aside, I would like to point out that the same goes for “life” (or “organism” or “being”). Any materialistic theory that includes “life” invalidates itself as a materialistic theory – because there is no GEMC of “life”.
    The 1879 version of Darwin’s Origins mentions “life” 389 times, “organism” (or organisms) 84 times, “being” (or beings) 490 times. Each and every time without a GEMC – which makes Darwinism unsuitable for materialism.

  68. Hi gpuccio,

    OK, so be it. We disagree. I will stick to my “conjectural” statement. [that CSI can only come from conscious minds]

    Well, so be it then: You apparently concede that the central claim of ID is an unsupported conjecture.

    Again, hypotheses and theories can be more or less controversial, or sometimes not controversial at all, but they are never “verified”.

    I’ve responded to this, but let me be more clear: OF COURSE all of our scientific results are provisional. I’ve made that very point on these forums many times. We fully agree on this point. But that has nothing to do with our disagreements here.

    Obviously you didn’t challenge the truth of any of the scientific results I listed – because to do so would have been entirely unreasonable. The truth of these hypotheses is quite well established. Now before you try and derail the conversation again, saying that the truth of some result is well established DOES NOT MEAN that we are absolutely 100% certain of it’s truth and it can never, ever be doubted or disproven! Rather, it is simply acknowledging that given the strength of the evidence, it is not reasonable to doubt these results until and unless new information comes to light that casts doubt on them.

    Again: You can stop arguing about the certainty of scientific (or any) conclusions; nobody is saying that these results can be proven with absolute certainty, and we all understand the provisional nature of scientific theories. That isn’t at issue here, OK?

    Moreover, I must remind you that consensus is scarcely a guarantee of how well a theory explains things. As philosophers of science well know, and certainly you with them, cultural bias and cognitive bias are always at the door. That’s why the least consistent and least empirically supported theory of our times, neo-darwinism, is still proclaimed as a “fact, and not a theory”, and endorsed as something “more certain than the theory of gravitation” by present academy. That simply means that we can expect anything from “scientific consensus”.

    Feel better? Ok, can we now get back to our discussion? Nothing you just said has anything whatsoever to do with any point I’ve made here.

    If our hypothesis explains facts better than competing hypotheses, and makes better predictions, it is simply the best explanation available. Not the truth. The best explanation available. From a scientific point of view, that’s a very good thing.

    And yet again, these are all perfectly obvious statements about science, and I’ve never said anything conflicting with any of these statements. Again, this is not what we disagree about.

    What we do seem to disagree about regarding justification for scientific results is this: Let’s say we have some unexplained phenomenon, and then we come up with two perfectly stupid and ridiculous hypotheses that, if either were true, would explain the phenomenon (such as “little invisible unicorns are responsible” and “magic incantations from the future are responsible”). Even if someone could argue that one of these silly explanations is somehow not as terrible as the other one, clearly neither of these explanations ought to be considered to be justified as knowledge. In other words, we don’t adopt the best explanation of something unless that explanation actually has sufficient warrant – not just because it is not as baseless as other explanations.

    There are no well-supported explanations for the origin of the universe or of life, and so there is no reason to pick one or another just because it is somehow less lacking in evidence than the other.

    RDF: What we disagree about is whether or not your assumption that consciousness is necessary for the production of CSI has any empirical support. Since we do not understand what consciousness is, nor what it does, nor what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for its existence, nor how we accomplish design tasks, I think it is very clear that your assumption is without any empirical support at all – with the exception of the evidence you’ve mentioned having to do with paranormal phenomena and religious experience.
    GP: First of all, my assumption has empirical support. And we disagree on its “strength”.

    Um, I think I just got through saying “with the exception of the evidence you’ve mentioned having to do with paranormal phenomena and religious experience.” That is the empirical support you are alluding to, correct?

    Consciousness is a fact, and can be treated as such. “Explaining” it, or “understanding what it is” is not necessary to use it in a theory. Facts must not be understood or explained to be included in theories. They must only be correctly observed and described.

    This is confused, because you are equivocating on the meaning of the “consciousness”. Our subjective phenomenology is a fact, and our ability to design things is a fact. But despite what you say, the relationship between those two things is not at all a fact! Again, let me be even more clear: You have provided no reason to justify your assertion that consciousness is required to create CSI. Your assumptions regarding the connections are not facts – they are your unsupported assumptions.

    Your problem is that, not being able to criticize the power of the theory, you criticize the assumption. That is bad epistemology, and strong cognitive bias.

    If your theory is built on suspect assumptions, so much the worse for your theory! Do you not understand that you must actually justify your assumptions? That you can’t just make up any sort of assumption, build some theory on it, and then complain when someone dares to question your assumptions?

    Sorry, it really doesn’t work that way at all. If you want to claim empirical justification for your theory, people get to challenge all of your assumptions and all of your data and your inferences too. It is neither bad epistemology (!) nor cognitive bias to point out your assumptions lack justification!
    I was recently mystified that my computer password was changed somehow when nobody was home. If I assumed that my dog (who was home at the time) has the requisite computer skills, I could explain the mystery quite well. But that assumption is utterly ridiculous, and I would fully expect you to point that out, and it would not be your bad epistemology or cognitive bias that would be the problem – it would be my unwarranted assumption.

    I disagree – I think explanations are valuable only to the extent that they are correct. The explanations of disease that encouraged people to sacrifice animals to gods rather than wash their hands before eating were not better than nothing, for example.

    Again, very bad epistemology. Explanations are never “correct”.

    Seriously, do you really not believe in the germ theory of disease? Or that cigarettes actually have been scientifically shown to cause cancer? You don’t think those statements are correct? Really? Wow! I’d hate to have you as my doctor :-)

    ID theory, by recognizing an empirical property of objects, dFSCI, that is linked to the intervention of some conscious agent in all cases whose true origin can be ascertained, allows a very reasonable inference of design by a conscious agent for all objects with dFSCI, and whose origin cannot be ascertained independently.

    The problem here is that you have made an improper generalization from “human being” to a class of “conscious agents”. This generalization is improper because you have only a single type of being capable of design, namely a human being, and you have no idea what other beings in this hypothetical class of beings would share or not share with human beings. This gets back to what I keep telling you, and you keep ignoring: We do not know that humans can design things because they are conscious; it could be, for all we know, that consciousness is not an attribute that would be shared by everything capable of producing complex designs. Read that last sentence again before you respond to something I didn’t say; I have a feeling you are going to skip that point or get it wrong.

    This is very good scientific reasoning. Your objections to that are pointless.

    No, this is very bad reasoning, and my objections are completely valid. :-)

    I need not demonstrate that consciousness is causal to the generation of dFSCI

    Well, you do if you wish to claim that ID is an empirically justified theory. Otherwise, sure – you can just concede that no such demonstration is possible, and we can agree that ID is nothing but unsupported conjecture.

    I just need to establish the constant connection between dFSCI and the intervention of a conscious agent. And that you cannot deny, because facts support that statement completely.

    And once again I will point out your error: The constant connection is in fact between dFSCI and human beings. Human beings have a number of attributes that might (or might not) be sufficient or necessary for design; one of these attributes might be a human-like brain, or some other sort of complex physical information processing mechanisms, or conscious awareness, and so on. You choose to pick one of these attributes, namely consciousness, and ignore all other attributes of human beings, and you pretend that you are justified in saying that this one attribute is both necessary and sufficient for the design of dFSCI. Well, sorry, but you have no justification for your position, and it is nothing but conjecture.

    It’s only your cognitive bias that motivates you to deny the undeniable.

    We’ve been doing pretty well in avoiding ad hominem arguments so far. I’d appreciate it if you would stick to the argument, and leave your (misguided) psychoanalysis of my motivations out of it. Can we do that?

    But all known facts suggest that, at various points in natural history, functional information was repeatedly inputted in living beings, and that is exactly what we observe when there is an intervention by a conscious designer. That’s why it is perfectly natural to consider the posiibility of some non physical designer.

    You can of course consider every possibility you can dream up. People have considered the intervention of gods for every phenomenon ever observed of course, from earthquakes and volcano eruptions to tides and storms, to, well, everything that happens. That doesn’t mean that such intervention actually constitutes a justified explanation for these phenomena. In order to justify such an hypotheses, one would actually have to supply evidence that such a being existed.

    But here your bias becomes evident. You object that we have no evidence of the existence of such a designer, ans ask for it.

    I think it is really funny that you think asking for evidence constitutes a bias.

    I can answer that we have no evidence that such a designer does not exist…

    Obviously you have again misunderstood how hypotheses are evaluated. If I hypothesize that invisible unicorns are responsible for so-called spontaneous radioactive decay, in order for my hypothesis to be considered to be empirically justified, I would actually have to provide some evidence such unicorns exist. The fact that you cannot prove otherwise in no way makes my hypothesis true by default.

    …, indeed we have many empirical indications that it exists (on whose strength we disagree),

    Again, I have already acknowledged that the entirety of the empirical evidence you have amassed in favor of ID involves religious experience and paranormal phenomena. We have deferred discussing the strength of this evidence until we clarify the rest of these issues.

    …and most human beings at all times have believed that non physical conscious agents exist.

    Do I actually have to explain why this does not help your case?

    The fact remains that such agent or agents could exist, and that the existence of biological information and of dFSCI in it is a very strong support to that hypothesis.

    Modulo the religious and paranormal evidence we’ve bracketed for now, this statement has precisely the same problem as this one: “Invisible unicorns that trigger radioactive decay could exist, and the existence of radioactive decay is very strong support of that hypothesis.”

    Nope, you really can’t just make up explanations and then point to thing you’re explaining as support. If you could, the following would be science:

    Ted: What causes crop circles?
    Fred: The cereological force.
    Ted: How do you know there is a cereological force?
    Fred: Just look at all the crop circles!

    Now, let’s consider some similar scenarios. Let’s take the theory of Big Bang. Why do most scientists believe that the Big Bang happened? It is simple: because some things we observe now are best explained by that assumption.

    No, read the history. BB theory is accepted because a large number of very specific predictions of Big Bang theory (which would not be expected to occur for any other reason) have been confirmed.

    If I were strongly motivated not to accept the assunption of the Big Bang, I could say that I require independent verification and evidence that the Big Bang happened, that it is a fallacy that I use the things that the Big Bang should explain as evidence for it. IOWs, I could act as you are acting: unfairly, dogmatically, ready to all in order to justify my cognitive bias. What can I tell you? Good luck…

    Oooh, unfair? Dogmatic? Me? Easy now!

    The Big Bang hypothesis was suggested many, many years before it was widely accepted. In order to justify belief in the Big Bang, scientists had to figure out how they could tell if it actually happened or not. It wasn’t enough to just assume that it happened, and then point to the universe and say “See? There it is!”. No, they actually had to come up ways to support their hypothesis. And so they did, and produced multiple lines of experimental confirmation of very specific predictions made by BB theory before it was accepted as the best explanation.

    The fallacy is yours, and it is as big as a whole universe! It is the fallacy of refuting a good explanation, for observed things without having any better explanation, only because you don’t like it

    First, I have shown why ID is not a good explanation at all, so I am not “refuting a good explanation”. Second, it doesn’t matter one bit whether or not I have a better explanation – I am still quite justified in informing you that your explanation lacks empirical justification. And third, you again stoop to ad hominem analysis of my motives, which is indeed a fallacy.

    …, and appealing to the myth of “possible explanations to come”, of which you don’t give any real hint. That is not science. That is dogma, based on fairy tales.

    You had just said that ID was “the only possible explanation available”. I pointed out what should have been obvious, that you have no idea what explanations may turn out to be true and so you are unjustified in declaring your explanation was the only one available! I am not presuming anything about the explanation, remember? I’m the one who says the answer is “We do not know”!

    Science is made with the explanations we have. Or by finding better explanation. It is not made by saying that “the answers may be stranger than we can imagine or understand”. That is only bad philosophy. And it is completely unfair.

    Science is made with the empirically justified explanations we have, and when there are no empirically confirmed explanations at hand, the correct answer is “We do not (yet) know the answer to that question”. What you want to do is insert divine intervention into our mysteries and call it “science”, which is what I object to.

    A design model will help us to make real progress. Lies do not help to do that.

    Um, lies? Do you suggest now that as well as being unfair, dogmatic, biased, a believer in fairy tales, and definitely lost, I also promote lies? You seem to be having trouble sticking to the debate, and are increasingly prone to attacking me personally. I find this usually happens when my arguments are much better than my opponents’.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  69. RDF Dec2013: You seem to be having trouble sticking to the debate, and are increasingly prone to attacking me personally. I find this usually happens when my arguments are much better than my opponents’.

    RDF Nov2013: No, you are of course the one who is confused … none of you ID folks are able to follow any sort of subtle or conditional argumentation … you apparently require a great deal of repitition before you can actually comprehend these things … If you were able to read and understand language a little better … your bizarre notion … is simply nonsensical … What you fail to understand (among other things) … we need to work through that step-by-step, so you don’t get confused … You have put your fingers in your ears, and you are screaming for me to stop telling you what the truth is, because you don’t want to hear it. “END!” you cry. “Stop, please, don’t say any more about the designer because I can’t stand to hear it! My precious beliefs in transcendent mind are too fragile to discuss, and so I forbid any discussion that might make me evaluate my beliefs against the evidence!” … That is simply pathetic. You are pretending to base your religious beliefs on scientific evidence, but when it doesn’t go your way, all you do is shout out “END! YOU CAN’T TALK ABOUT THAT!” … If you aren’t willing to take the evidence where it leads, then stop pretending to care about evidence, and just admit your beliefs are faith-based like all of those good old-fashioned religious people used to do … Oh good grief – can’t you read? … I know you won’t respond to that – you’ll just ignore it again, your fear and loathing preventing you from understanding these simple points … The real targets of my arguments are people like you who attempt to co-opt the imprimatur of science in order to push their own particular religious beliefs upon others, but then are afraid to actually subject their views to the sort of critique that all scientific results must be subjected to. You want to claim that science shows your religious views are correct, but then refuse to discuss all of the empirical evidence that may be inconsistent your beliefs. “End!” you cry! “No more evidence, please!”

    :|

  70. RDFish:

    Well, so be it then: You apparently concede that the central claim of ID is an unsupported conjecture.

    Absolutely not. That’s only what appears to you. I have simply stated (not certainly “conceded”) that a conjecture is part of the ID theory. I have said that such conjecture is supported by some empirical evidence (and that we disagree on the strength of that evidence). And I have stated that however there is no need that an assumption, or conjecture, which is part of a theory be supported by independent evidence. It is the whole theory that must be supported by evidence, not a specific assumption. I have made the example of the Big Bang exactly for that. And you have not really answered my point.

    We have no independent evidence of the Big Bang. Big Bang is an event which is conjectured, and whose real nature is not understood. We have evidences that a theory which includes that conjecture explain things, and predicts things, better than any other theory at present available. Which is exactly my point about ID.

    I’ve responded to this, but let me be more clear: OF COURSE all of our scientific results are provisional. I’ve made that very point on these forums many times. We fully agree on this point. But that has nothing to do with our disagreements here.

    OK.

    Now before you try and derail the conversation again, saying that the truth of some result is well established DOES NOT MEAN that we are absolutely 100% certain of it’s truth and it can never, ever be doubted or disproven! Rather, it is simply acknowledging that given the strength of the evidence, it is not reasonable to doubt these results until and unless new information comes to light that casts doubt on them.

    Again: You can stop arguing about the certainty of scientific (or any) conclusions; nobody is saying that these results can be proven with absolute certainty, and we all understand the provisional nature of scientific theories. That isn’t at issue here, OK?

    OK. That is exactly my position. And I have never tried to “derail the conversation”. I just want that epistemological concepts remain correct. I would appreciate if you avoided to use terms like “true” and “correct” when they are not correct. We will get along much better that way.

    Feel better? Ok, can we now get back to our discussion? Nothing you just said has anything whatsoever to do with any point I’ve made here.

    Yes, I feel better. But, if you don’t consider it another attempt at derailing the conversation, I would appreciate you thoughts on my statement:

    “Moreover, I must remind you that consensus is scarcely a guarantee of how well a theory explains things. As philosophers of science well know, and certainly you with them, cultural bias and cognitive bias are always at the door. That’s why the least consistent and least empirically supported theory of our times, neo-darwinism, is still proclaimed as a “fact, and not a theory”, and endorsed as something “more certain than the theory of gravitation” by present academy. That simply means that we can expect anything from “scientific consensus”.”

    Do you agree?

    What we do seem to disagree about regarding justification for scientific results is this: Let’s say we have some unexplained phenomenon, and then we come up with two perfectly stupid and ridiculous hypotheses that, if either were true, would explain the phenomenon (such as “little invisible unicorns are responsible” and “magic incantations from the future are responsible”). Even if someone could argue that one of these silly explanations is somehow not as terrible as the other one, clearly neither of these explanations ought to be considered to be justified as knowledge. In other words, we don’t adopt the best explanation of something unless that explanation actually has sufficient warrant – not just because it is not as baseless as other explanations.

    Well, with these words you allow me to show clearly what your cognitive bias is. And, before you accuse me of ad hominem attacks, I would like to remind you that we are by definition subject to cognitive bias, and that it is perfectly legitimate that I describe your cognitive bias where I see it in the course of a discussion. It is no ad hominem attack. Just intellectual confrontation.

    That said, the crucial point is in these words of yours:

    “Let’s say we have some unexplained phenomenon, and then we come up with two perfectly stupid and ridiculous hypotheses that, if either were true, would explain the phenomenon” (emphasis mine).

    So, what you are saying that a possible explanation should not be considered, even is others are not available, if its assumtions are “perfectly stupid and ridiculous”. That is completely different from saying that an assumption is not supported by independent facts.

    To go back to Big Bang. The theory is certainly supported by evidence, because it explains both old and new facts better than any other available theory. But the existence of the Big Bang event is not understood at all, and cannot be supported by any direct observation.

    Now, if I have a strong cognitive bias against Big Bangs, I could say (and many did it, indeed): “No, an event like the Big Bamg is simply a perfectly stupid and ridiculous assumption, and therefore any theory including that assumption should not be regarded as scientific, even if it explain known and new facts better than any other available theory”. And you could answer: “No, it is only your cognitive bias, you worldview, which makes you think that the existence of a Big Bang is ridiculous or stupid. A lot of people, including me, believe that it is a perfectly acceptable idea, even if we cannot understand what it is, or have any direct evidence of it”.

    That is exactly what is happening here. You are just saying that accepting the possibility of the existence of non physical conscious beings (something most human beings indeed have believed and still believe) is “perfectly stupid and ridiculous”. This is your cognitive bias, and I am simply describing it. No offense (or derailment) intended.

    Um, I think I just got through saying “with the exception of the evidence you’ve mentioned having to do with paranormal phenomena and religious experience.” That is the empirical support you are alluding to, correct?

    Well, I was alluding, clearly, to “religious experiences and NDEs”, which is my original quote. I don’t understand why you go on introducing the term “paranormal phenomena”. To what do you refer? Do you think either religious experiences or NDEs are “paranormal”? If so, I would appreciate that you explained why (if you do not consider it as an attempt at derailing the conversation).

    This is confused, because you are equivocating on the meaning of the “consciousness”. Our subjective phenomenology is a fact, and our ability to design things is a fact. But despite what you say, the relationship between those two things is not at all a fact! Again, let me be even more clear: You have provided no reason to justify your assertion that consciousness is required to create CSI. Your assumptions regarding the connections are not facts – they are your unsupported assumptions.

    I will be more clear. “Our subjective phenomenology”, which is exactly what I call consciousness, as I have tried to explain in great detail, is a fact, and our ability to design things is a fact. So, we seem to agree about that. And I don’t understand why you state that I am “equivocating” on the “meaning” of consciousness. I think I have been very clear about what the word means for me, and you seem to have understood it well.

    Then I define design as a process where there is the output of some functional form (not necessarily complex) from a conscious representation on a conscious agent to a material object. That is exactly what the word means. Have you problems with that?

    Then I state that we can observe a constant empirical association (not necessarily a causal relationship) between dFCSI in an object and design, that is the intervention of a conscious agent, in all cases where the origin of the object can be ascertained independently. Have you problems with that? I have shown that that empirical connection is true with 100% specificity.

    You say: “You have provided no reason to justify your assertion that consciousness is required to create CSI.” But that was not my purpose. That is only my personal conviction. For the purposes of my theory, it is more than enough to justify that we can observe a constant connection between two things in all known cases. That is a vsatly reliable foundation for an inference.

    Then you say:

    “Your assumptions regarding the connections are not facts – they are your unsupported assumptions.”

    I am afraid that here your bad epistemology surfaces again. Connection between events are never facts. They are mental concepts, therefore theories. So, you are just accusing me of not being able to show that what cannot be a fact is not a fact- Well, I will take that accusation as a compliment.

    So, let’s say that a connection between facts is always an assumption, or better an inference. So what are you saying? That my inference of a connection between dFSCI and the intervention of a conscious agent is “unsupported by facts”? But is is supported by facts in all known cases! You cannot deny that! You can deny that a causal role of consciousness is the explanation for the connection. Well, you are welcome. I don’t agree, but that is not important. The connection is there however, and we can certainly use it for reasonable empirical inferences.

    More in next post.

  71. RDFish:

    Let’s go on:

    There are no well-supported explanations for the origin of the universe or of life, and so there is no reason to pick one or another just because it is somehow less lacking in evidence than the other.

    Here it seems that you are changing the discussion. I have already acknowledged that the origin of the universe is in another league if compared to the origin and evolution (don’t forget that small point) of life.

    And yet, even for the origin if the universe, we have a scientific theory (the Big Bang), which maybe does not explain all, but which explains something.

    Now, the central claim of ID theory is not, as you seem to think, the existence of non physical conscious beings. That is a possible consequence of ID theory, not its central claim.

    The central claim of ID is the presence in biological information of a definite property, dFSCI, which is observed, out of biological information, only in designed things. And that no theory which does not include the intervention of a conscious designer can, even vaguely, begin to explain that simple observed fact.

    Now, you can just say that any theory that includes as an assumption the existence of conscious designers which would probably be non physical is perfectly stupid and ridiculous, but that is only your cognitive bias speaking.

    For all those who don’t share that bias, the reasoning is simple and powerful and beautiful

    So, to sum up, even if you don’t like to explain dFSCI in biological information by a design theory, you still need to try to explain it. IOWs, fact show that many times, in the course of natural history, there has been a rather sudden generation of complex functional information, without any apparent “natural” explanation. The input of such information by a designer is a possible explanation. You consider it stupid and ridiculous. Be my guest. So, how do you think you can try to explain dFSCI in biological information, and its documented appearance in natural history?

    Beware, I am not asking you to try to explain the universe, or life itself. Those are much bigger questions. I am referring to a very definite, observable fact. The emergence of dFSCI in natural history.

    If your theory is built on suspect assumptions, so much the worse for your theory! Do you not understand that you must actually justify your assumptions? That you can’t just make up any sort of assumption, build some theory on it, and then complain when someone dares to question your assumptions?

    No. As I have said, I must not justify my assumptions, provided they are not stupid and ridiculous. What I have to justify is the value of the whole theory. Again, see the example of the Big Bang.

    I was recently mystified that my computer password was changed somehow when nobody was home. If I assumed that my dog (who was home at the time) has the requisite computer skills, I could explain the mystery quite well. But that assumption is utterly ridiculous, and I would fully expect you to point that out, and it would not be your bad epistemology or cognitive bias that would be the problem – it would be my unwarranted assumption.

    (Emphasis mine). Again, your cognitive bias fully demonstrated.

    Seriously, do you really not believe in the germ theory of disease? Or that cigarettes actually have been scientifically shown to cause cancer? You don’t think those statements are correct? Really? Wow! I’d hate to have you as my doctor :-)

    And I have no special desire to have you as my client, also because I am a pediatrician, and you are probably out of age :)

    The problem here is that you have made an improper generalization from “human being” to a class of “conscious agents”. This generalization is improper because you have only a single type of being capable of design, namely a human being, and you have no idea what other beings in this hypothetical class of beings would share or not share with human beings. This gets back to what I keep telling you, and you keep ignoring: We do not know that humans can design things because they are conscious; it could be, for all we know, that consciousness is not an attribute that would be shared by everything capable of producing complex designs. Read that last sentence again before you respond to something I didn’t say; I have a feeling you are going to skip that point or get it wrong.

    It is a generalization, but it is not improper. Humans are conscious agents. There are probably other conscious agents, like higher animals.

    That design is the product of a conscious agent is neither a generalization nor an improper one: it is simply the definition of design.

    That dFSCI is observed only in designed things (or in things that may or may not be designed, like biological objects) is simply a fact.

    That the intervention of a conscious agent is always connected to the presence of dFSCI, even in those cases where the origin by design is not independently ascertained, and even in cases where the designer could not be human, is a very reasonable inference by analogy. You can like it or not, you can accept it or not, it may be confirmed by new facts or falsified, like every other scientific inference. But there is nothing unacceptable in it. And it is very reasonable and convincing.

    You say:

    “We do not know that humans can design things because they are conscious; it could be, for all we know, that consciousness is not an attribute that would be shared by everything capable of producing complex designs.”

    OK, and so? That only means that whoever can empirically show that non conscious system can generate dFSCI will have falsified the theory. That just means that the theory is perfectly scientific, in a Popperian sense. That is its merit, not its fault.

    Remember, we are discussion empirical inferences here, not logical demonstration. Don’t equivocate.

    And yes, I have read your sentence before responding. I usually do that.

    (gpuccio)I need not demonstrate that consciousness is causal to the generation of dFSCI

    (RDFish)Well, you do if you wish to claim that ID is an empirically justified theory. Otherwise, sure – you can just concede that no such demonstration is possible, and we can agree that ID is nothing but unsupported conjecture.

    Bad reasoning again. I don’t need to demonstrate the causality, although I believe that there are many reasons to infer it as the best explanation. I just need to demonstrate the connection. IOWs, consciousness could even be an epiphenomenon, but at present it is an epiphenomenon that is always present in agents who can generate dFSCI. And it is connected to the design process, because the information outputted into the object is always present, before, in the conscious representations of the agent. In all cases, it remains an indicator connected to the emergence of dFSCI with 100% specificity.

    And once again I will point out your error: The constant connection is in fact between dFSCI and human beings. Human beings have a number of attributes that might (or might not) be sufficient or necessary for design; one of these attributes might be a human-like brain, or some other sort of complex physical information processing mechanisms, or conscious awareness, and so on. You choose to pick one of these attributes, namely consciousness, and ignore all other attributes of human beings, and you pretend that you are justified in saying that this one attribute is both necessary and sufficient for the design of dFSCI. Well, sorry, but you have no justification for your position, and it is nothing but conjecture.

    As I have explained, it is perfectly reasonable to infer that consciousness plays at least some role in generating dFSCI, because the information is present in the conscious representation before being outputted to the object. Moreover, understanding of meaning and purposeful intention are exactly the faculties that drive the design process, as should be obvious to whoever has designed complex things. Your attempts not only at at doubting that (which is your right), but at stating that everybody should doubt that, and that it is not reasonable to assume that connection to explain things that cannot be explained otherwise is, again, pure cognitive bias. No offence intended.

    But I am fully available at considering your alternative explanations. So, please, what “other attributes of human beings”, outside of consciousness, would you pick to explain the ability to generate dFSCI? Having a human brain? That’s fine. So, your hypothesis is that having a human brain is the causal explanation of dFSCI. And therefore, biological dFSCI can be explained by the intervention of systems having a human brain, I suppose. Is that your position?

    I must have missed something in your logic.

    (gpuccio)It’s only your cognitive bias that motivates you to deny the undeniable.
    (RDFish)We’ve been doing pretty well in avoiding ad hominem arguments so far. I’d appreciate it if you would stick to the argument, and leave your (misguided) psychoanalysis of my motivations out of it. Can we do that?

    I am really surprised by that statement of yours. As I have said, cognitive bias is not a disease. Everybody is subject to it. It is my intellectual right to state what, IMO, is due to cognitive bias in your arguments, obviously giving detailed reasons for that. As I have tried to do. What has psychoanalysis to do with that (misguided or not)? What have “your motivations” to do with that, out of your being biased by your worldview, like everybody else?

    The point is, when your cognitive bias becomes obvious in your arguments, I point it out. You defend it, if you like.

    More in next post.

  72. RDFish:

    Let’s go on:

    You can of course consider every possibility you can dream up. People have considered the intervention of gods for every phenomenon ever observed of course, from earthquakes and volcano eruptions to tides and storms, to, well, everything that happens. That doesn’t mean that such intervention actually constitutes a justified explanation for these phenomena. In order to justify such an hypotheses, one would actually have to supply evidence that such a being existed.

    The possibilities I have “dreamed up” are perfectly reasonable. If you consider them “perfectly stupid or ridiculous”, you should explain why.

    (gpuccio)…and most human beings at all times have believed that non physical conscious agents exist.

    (RDFish)Do I actually have to explain why this does not help your case?

    It helps a lot. Remember, your argument is that we cannot use assumptions which are “perfectly stupid or ridiculous”. Well my statement is only intended that what most human beings at all times, including today, have believed to be true, should not be labeled as “perfectly stupid and ridiculous” without sound arguments (that you have not provided). Or do you think that you are the only intelligent and serious person in the world?

    Modulo the religious and paranormal evidence we’ve bracketed for now, this statement has precisely the same problem as this one: “Invisible unicorns that trigger radioactive decay could exist, and the existence of radioactive decay is very strong support of that hypothesis.”

    No. There is no observation that connect invisible unicorns to radioactive decay. While there are tons of observations that connect conscious agents to dFSCI, and no contrary observation at all.

    I am sorry, but the level of your last statements has definitely become unacceptable. That’s why you may think I am a little bit more aggressive than before with them.

    I think it is really funny that you think asking for evidence constitutes a bias.

    If you want to have fun, be my guest. But I must remind you that asking for non necessary evidence only because an assumption disturbs us is typical cognitive bias. I have already explained that the evidence is all for ID theory, provided one accepts the possibility of conscious agents who are not human and are not physical. Again, it’s the theory that must be supported by evidence, not a specific assumption. Provided that that assumption is not “perfectly stupid and ridiculous”. Which is exactly where your cognitive bias comes in.

    Again, I have already acknowledged that the entirety of the empirical evidence you have amassed in favor of ID involves religious experience and paranormal phenomena. We have deferred discussing the strength of this evidence until we clarify the rest of these issues.

    I am always available for that. Whenever you like.

    No, read the history. BB theory is accepted because a large number of very specific predictions of Big Bang theory (which would not be expected to occur for any other reason) have been confirmed.

    And that is exactly why ID theory must be accepted. most of what we observe in the biological world can be explained, and is predicted, by ID theory, and would not be expected to occur for any other reason. Where is the difference? What am I missing?

    Oooh, unfair? Dogmatic? Me? Easy now!

    Yes. I have found some of your last statements unfair and dogmatic. That has rather surprised me, because you had been fair and reasonable until now.

    The Big Bang hypothesis was suggested many, many years before it was widely accepted. In order to justify belief in the Big Bang, scientists had to figure out how they could tell if it actually happened or not. It wasn’t enough to just assume that it happened, and then point to the universe and say “See? There it is!”. No, they actually had to come up ways to support their hypothesis. And so they did, and produced multiple lines of experimental confirmation of very specific predictions made by BB theory before it was accepted as the best explanation.

    No. There is no experimental way of deciding if Big Bang “actually happened or not”. Big Bang cannot be observed. It cannot be understood. We can only infer it from its consequences, because it explains them better than any other available theory. And new observations, up to now, are in general accord with the theory, in one of its form (you know there are, however, problems).

    The scenario is exactly the same for the origin by design of biological information. There is no difference.

    First, I have shown why ID is not a good explanation at all, so I am not “refuting a good explanation”. Second, it doesn’t matter one bit whether or not I have a better explanation – I am still quite justified in informing you that your explanation lacks empirical justification. And third, you again stoop to ad hominem analysis of my motives, which is indeed a fallacy.

    Wow! Three completely unwarranted statement in a row! That’s what I meant by “the level of your last statements has definitely become unacceptable”. I maintain that judgement.

    You had just said that ID was “the only possible explanation available”. I pointed out what should have been obvious, that you have no idea what explanations may turn out to be true and so you are unjustified in declaring your explanation was the only one available! I am not presuming anything about the explanation, remember? I’m the one who says the answer is “We do not know”!

    What is not clear in the word “available”? I suppose that “available” means an explanation we know. The “explanations that may turn out to be true” are certainly not available. Or am I missing something?

    Science is made with the empirically justified explanations we have, and when there are no empirically confirmed explanations at hand, the correct answer is “We do not (yet) know the answer to that question”. What you want to do is insert divine intervention into our mysteries and call it “science”, which is what I object to.

    The ID explanation is very much empirically justified, as I have shown. It certainly deserves to be considered, tested, and to be a paradigm (not the only one) for future research.

    “We do not (yet) know the answer to that question” only helps when the answer is actively searched with an open mind, considering all possible explanations which have a sound empirical basis, and ID is simply the best in the market for those questions.

    Just to be precise, I have never spoken of a divine intervention. I believe that a design inference is perfectly justified to explain biological information. For obvious empirical reasons, I don’t think that humans are the designer, and I am not convinced by the alien hypothesis, therefore it seems natural to think of non human, non physical conscious agents as possible designers. That is all. The problem of God is all another matter, as is the problem of what the Big Bang really was.

    Um, lies? Do you suggest now that as well as being unfair, dogmatic, biased, a believer in fairy tales, and definitely lost, I also promote lies? You seem to be having trouble sticking to the debate, and are increasingly prone to attacking me personally. I find this usually happens when my arguments are much better than my opponents’.

    No. If you look at my statement, you will see that there are no references to you in it. It is a more general statement, and I do believe that there are many people who lie on your side. But I believe in your sincerity, unless and until you give me reason to change my mind.

    I have no reason at all to attack you personally, and I don’t think I have done that. It is true, however, as I have said, that some of your last statements are, IMO, unfair, dogmatic and biased. As I have said. And some of the things you believe and state are, IMO, fairy tales. That in no way applies to all or to most of what you say. I have appreciated most of what you have said in this debate, even when disagreeing with you. My stating so frankly what I have not appreciated is, believe it or not, a sign of great confidence in you.

    But, if you want to consider that as a sign that your arguments are much better than mine, that’s OK for me.

    Cheers!

  73. RDFish:

    Ehm, it seems I have messed up the formatting in my last post. I apologize. However, the meaning should be clear just the same.

    [--> Did I fix it right? KF]

  74. Box, 67:

    there is no general encompassing materialistic concept (GEMC) of consciousness

    Interesting idea, and abbreviation.

    I think you are right, consciousness has not been reduced to computation for the simple reason that computation, a GIGO-limited process . . . garbage in, garbage out . . . what we have is blind mechanical cause-effect linkages of chains of events that take success from separately imposed correct organisation (when they have that). Conscious thought, recognition, organisation and reasoning or imagining and viewing the dynamics intuitively perceived to be at work are qualitatively different.

    And when it comes to being under moral government of OUGHT, that is yet another distinction, that a collection of rocks and rock remnants that can have no dreams OUGHT to do X and not Y (which, absent that moral decision, they would be inclined to do) is simple nonsense.

    The materialists are looking for a critical threshold where a qualitative leap happens, where in fact they actually cannot account for the simple computation itself (hard and software capable of carrying out algorithms of sufficient complexity) on blind incremental evolutionary forces. But assuming they “must” so be explained, they are seeking to gobble up the next levels, and are ending up in incoherence as I outlined in the OP. (Which, notice, the materialists are studiously ignoring.)

    What all of this reminds me of is a shoe-box fishing reel.

    Let’s explore — and I hope RDF and MF are looking on.

    There are ever so many men who think they can take apart anything and put it back together right again.

    So, they have a shiny new fishing reel, and they cannot resist the itch to take it apart, maybe to fix or maintain it, maybe out of curiosity. With an aura of confidence they take it apart, and then suddenly it is a mess of parts they find they cannot put back together.

    Sheepishly, they have to go back to the tackle shop to beg the tackle technician there to help them out. (And they better hope they have not misplaced or damaged parts!)

    Evolutionary materialists remind me of that case.

    Can they explain and support on adequate observations how in a warm little pond or the like, an encapsulated, gated, metabolising entity with a digital code based self replicating facility spontaneously forms, even incrementally? No.

    Can they explain how major, multicellular body plans form by similar blind processes adequately backed up with empirical evidence? No.

    Can they explain how a chimp like ape ancestor in 6 – 8 or so MY, revises body plan to gain upright posture, and creates the systems that enable symbol-using abstraction-making language (foundational to reasoned intelligence)? No.

    But, they are ideologically committed to the world being nothing but matter and energy interacting under mechanical necessity and chance, blindly, across time in space. They have managed to stuff this philosophy in a lab coat and have it speaking in the name of science and censoring methods, conclusions, analysis and even the very definition of science itself.

    They have in so doing, locked the reasoning into a materialist circle. Only a materialistic answer will be acceptable.

    Then, they resent when someone comes along and says, oops, you got a shoebox fishing reel there. Better take it to people who truly understand epistemology, phil of sci, logic and metaphysics as well as ethics — and do so without imposing the same materialist question-begging blinkers.

    That dog will not hunt.

    A sounder approach, will observe that necessity, chance and design all act causally, as can be seen all around us. Then, it will look for reliable signs that mark each of the three, and will compose a reasonable explanatory filter methodology — cf the aspect by aspect design- chance- necessity inference filter here (I fixed the mysteriously broken image link), noting the discussion of dice as a paradigm case . . . — to carry out a sensible investigation.

    It will test the approach, and will confirm that it is reliable in its purpose and makes sensible assignments to necessity as main default [law is the first explanation for regularities], and chance for contingency [as if chance can account for something, there is no sense demanding design in absence of direct observation] as explanation.

    The EF does all o that and is patently highly reliable, with a threshold of 500 – 1,000 bits of FSCO/I before inferring design as only credible cause.

    The problem is, this points to some things the materialists don’t want to entertain.

    Such as a world of life full of signs of design, and a material cosmos that has a beginning and is fine tuned in many ways that facilitate the possibility of C-chemistry aqueous medium cell based life. Where also, as atomic matter etc are clearly contingent, they demand an immaterial explanation, and where the best explanation for a highly complex cosmos that has a beginning and which is finely tuned in ways that point to an evident goal, is design by an intelligent and immaterial, powerful necessary being . . . a mind, not a material process. Even, through a multiverse speculation.

    Worse, we have a situation where we find ourselves under moral government, as can be seen from the case of a child kidnapped, tortured, raped and murdered by some monster, and our clear sense of duty should we come across such in progress. OUGHT is real, and it demands a world- foundational IS that can bear its weight. There is but one serious candidate, the eternal inherently good Creator God.

    In short, following Leibnitz’s point, he who seeks the secret of conscious mindedness in grinding mill wheels is looking in the wrong place.

    But, if, a priori, you are committed to reducing intelligence, design, and other aspects of mind to blind chance and mechanical necessity, you will simply refuse to look where you should if you are to have a serious hope of finding a sensible answer.

    Which is the point underscored in the OP for this thread, in light of a live example.

    KF

  75. UB, 69: That sort of arrogant and rudely sneering dismissive attitude and behaviour by RDF is why I have cautioned him to be on good behaviour in this thread. A word to the wise, I mean just what I have said. As for his underlying failure, cf. the just above to Box on how people end up sheepishly carrying a fishing reel back to a tackle shop technician in a box, asking for help. KF

  76. Nothing portrays the gulf between the minds of the two camps in this debate more explicitly than what has been displayed in this debate.

    We know of the existence of interdependent, exceptionally complex, combinatorial 3D key-lock functions generated, guided and repaired by a multi-layered, self-correcting, self-regulating software code. The only commodity known to produce anything like this is deliberate intelligence.

    One side says that the best, current explanation of what we have found is some form of deliberate intelligence.

    The other side of the argument claims that chance interactions of matter under physical law is the best, current explanation, and that the idea that intelligence is responsible is “stupid and ridiculous”.

    Put more simply, if we found the equivalent of a computerized, functioning battleship buried in strata 100 million years old, Darwinists like RDF would hold the theory that some kind of intelligent agency was responsible as “stupid and ridiculous”, while holding that it is reasonable to conclude that the battleship-X was the product of unguided, natural forces and materials.

    Yes, someone in this thread is certainly holding on to a stupid and ridiculous hypothesis. Readers can decide for themselves.

  77. KF,

    The comments I posted from RDF came from a single post in November; his last post to me, effectively ending our exchange. They represent his last resort where I was concerned, resulting from me not relenting on a very simple proposition. That proposition was that the valid material evidence of design (which RDF agreed with) is unaffected by the fact that we cannot identify a designer at the origin of life (which RDF, in turn, then uses to discount the design inference).

    Then, just as now, RDF wants to wrap himself in the flag of reason by commiting to the modesty of saying “We don’t know”, but he wants to strategically place that commitment before the design inference, instead of after it. If he places his modesty after the valid inference to design, then virtually the whole of ID would agree with him – and they would have every right to do so because it would be congruent with the material evidence. But he demands that we place our “We don’t know” before the valid inference to design, not for the sake of modesty, but as a science stopper, a conversation stopper – a very effective denial of the valid evidence (which just so happens to contradict his personal preferences). It’s effective because, frankly, what can be more self-effacing than modesty in face of the greatest mysteries of the cosmos? Unfortunately, like a politician kissing the babies, it’s all a front.

    Also as before (in November), when faced with a design proponent who calls him on his faults in reasoning, he eventually turns to metaphysics, politics, and religion to blast his opponent when his arguments fail. I never said one word about religion, divine intervention, or anything of the sort. I remained situated on the material evidence itself, yet, you can see his reaction above. I believe the people who study human interactions have a word for that kind of thing.

    We have nothing to fear from RDF, let him spew. He has more than enough to contend with in GP anyway.

  78. F/N: Let’s do a bit of analysis of RDF’s words as clipped by UB in 69, especially as it brings out the cognitive biases, argument tactics and frankly fallacies of Darwinists and evolutionary materialists and those unduly influenced by that ideology quite clearly:

    >>RDF Nov2013: No, you are of course the one who is confused … none of you ID folks are able to follow any sort of subtle or conditional argumentation … you apparently require a great deal of repitition before you can actually comprehend these things>>

    1 –> Projection and stereotyping rooted in bias and hostility feeding contempt. You are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, we are the brights. (It has evidently not dawned on RDF that he is dealing with many people who hold graduate or undergraduate degrees and have experience with abstract analysis, worldviews and more, as well as math, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science and more.)

    2 –> And just for theologians, who are often viewed with even more contempt, RDF, can you see and explain why the triune concept of God that is a key mark of Orthodox Christian faith, is not incoherent, the equivalent of saying 1 + 1 + 1 = 1? After that, kindly do not despise theologians and those who hold informed, Nicene Creed, Orthodox Christian faith.

    >> … If you were able to read and understand language a little better>>

    3 –> more of same.

    >> … your bizarre notion … is simply nonsensical …>>

    4 –> Notice the contemptuous dismissal, and failure to see that perhaps it is RDF who has here failed to grasp a concept that may well cut across his cognitive biases and expectations.

    >> What you fail to understand (among other things) … we need to work through that step-by-step, so you don’t get confused …>>

    5 –> Contempt mounts up.

    >> You have put your fingers in your ears, and you are screaming for me to stop telling you what the truth is, because you don’t want to hear it. “END!” you cry.>>

    6 –> Really? Or is it that we are pointing out the gaps, fallacies and errors in your reasoning, which in your assumption that you have cornered the market on the truth, you dismiss out of hand?

    >>“Stop, please, don’t say any more about the designer because I can’t stand to hear it! My precious beliefs in transcendent mind are too fragile to discuss, and so I forbid any discussion that might make me evaluate my beliefs against the evidence!”>>

    7 –> Projection of improper motives without good warrant (i.e. based on prejudice and contempt), an ad hominem abusive.

    >> … That is simply pathetic. You are pretending to base your religious beliefs on scientific evidence,>>

    8 –> Now the underlying prejudice against design thought and misrepresentation of it come out: the imagination is that there is but one contrast to Natural (= blind chance and/or necessity), i.e. the (suspect . . . ) supernatural , and the only motivation for such is held to be religious indoctrination and/or prejudice.

    9 –> But in fact, as has been repeatedly pointed out (it is in the Jan 2009 UD weak argument correctives, for crying out loud . . . ) ever since Plato in The Laws, Bk X, it has been well understood that another opposite to natural is the ART-ificial. Where, the artificial is patently highly amenable to empirical investigation, through signs of contrivance, or design.

    10 –> So, to infer to design — cf here at UD since Jan 2011 (& as updated) — is not equivalent to to infer to the supernatural, but to point to an empirical investigation on signs that can be tested and found reliable. The form of FSCO/I GP emphasises is a classic example: digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information, such as we find in English language text strings in posts here at UD in this thread, or in computer software, or in D/RNA. The ONLY observed pattern of cause that leads to its origin is that in which conscious design is at work involving a purposeful, self aware intelligent agent. That is there is a consistent mutuality here that shows that the first is a reliable sign of the other.

    11 –> I go beyond what GP is prepared to argue here, and point out that the needle in haystack search analysis of say 500 coins in a row, tell us that there are 3.27*10^150 possible configs, forming a config space. The 10^57 atoms of our solar system (our practical cosmos for chemical or mechanical level interactions), acting as so many observers of states of such strings and seeing a new state every 10^-14 s [as fast as fast ionic reactions], for 10^17 s [a reasonable age limit], will only be able to sample as one straw to a cubical haystack 1,000 light years across. thus, they will with maximal likelihood, be unable to find isolated zones of special configs in the space.

    12 –> That is why the overwhelming expectation of tossing 500 fair coins in a row is near 50-50 H-T in no particular order. The predominant cluster; in a thermodynamics context the equilibrium state. So, with all but absolute certainty, if we were to see 500 coins all H, or alternating H and T, or spelling out say the first 72 characters for this post in ASCII, we would conclude that the coins were set that way by either a mechanism or design, and the mechanism that takes over a highly contingent system to produce such an outcome would require design.

    13 –> Notice, an inference to design by way of an analysis, on high contingency as opposed to low, and on seeing functional specificity that puts us in such tiny clusters in the space of possibilities that we are entitled to infer that chance — otherwise the default for highly contingent outcomes — is not a credible explanation.

    14 –> the same basic logic extends to the wider case of functionally specific complex organisation and associated information, as a description of such a complex highly contingent entity can be expressed as a string of coded bits. In short, if you see a jumbo jet or just one of the instruments on its flight deck, we naturally and properly infer to design on FSCO/I.

    15 –> And so forth, and if we were to see Paley’s second example, a time keeping watch that in the course of its motion were to assemble another watch like unto itself, we would do the same, seeing in the self replication facility a further reason to infer contrivance. (This of course speaks directly tot he origin of self replicating life, which is far more complex than a watch and used code based self replication.)

    16 –> But in fact as has been repeatedly highlighted and just as repeatedly studiously ignored by RDF and others of his ilk of objectors, the inference to design of life on earth is NOT an inference in itself to God or another supernatural entity as designer. That tweredun is not equal to whodunit. (And just Google those phrases if Google is back to listing UD pages to see how often it has been pointed out.)

    17 –> For, a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond Venter et al, would sufficiently account for that.

    18 –> But as can be seen in the exchange with GP above, RDF’s underlying strawman caricature leads him to miss the point GP is making, and in a context where there is often a deep, deliberately stirred up hostility to the idea of God and the idea of duties under God and accountability before him, cognitive and emotive biases can lead to not seeing what is there in front of one who is under such influences.

    19 –> Now there is another level of design inference that is much closer to an inference to the supernatural, not just to the designed. Observing a cosmos with a beginning that is set from basic physics up to a fine tuned operating point that enables C Chemistry, cell based aqueous medium life. That points to a designer of great power who purposed to create a cosmos in which there is life, where a beginning implies a beginner and a contingent cosmos implies that matter is contingent and onwards, that it must be rooted in a necessary being, on logic of cause and effect in light of the weak form principle of sufficient reason.

    20 –> Multiply by our being under moral government and we have a world in which OUGHT is real and rests necessarily on an IDS that grounds it. The only serious candidate is the inherently good creator God. And while that is over the border into philosophy, so is a multiverse speculation, and once you are in phil, all of phil comes to bear.

    21 –> In any case the cosmological design inference points to mind before matter and as the source of matter,

    >> but when it doesn’t go your way, all you do is shout out “END! YOU CAN’T TALK ABOUT THAT!”>>

    22 –> Strawman stereotype multiplied by question begging and trumpeting a rhetorical “victory” that pivots on the question-begging. For, the only ideology based censorship or closed mindedness at work is this sort, as was inadvertently disclosed by Lewontin:

    the problem is to get them [hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. if you imagine this can be dismissed as quote mining, kindly see the fuller cite and notes here.]

    23 –> This richly deserved ID thinker Philip Johnson’s withering retort in November that year:

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

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

    24 –> And this surfaces the root problem. Science, its methods, its analysis and permissible conclusions have been subjected to a priori evolutionary materialistic censorship. As one aspect, it is assumed that intelligence ans design MUST directly or indirectly reduce to matter and energy moving under blind chance and necessity across time and space. So, we have a major ideological warping problem.

    25 –> By contrast, I have suggested that AI/neurophysiological researcher Derek Smith’s two tier controller cybernetic loop model gets us out of the question-begging ideological lockdown. Int he loop, we have an I/O controller that carries out necessary functions. But this is interfaced with a higher order controller responsible for supervising it.

    26 –> No specific commitment as to the nature of such is required, just we see a way that we can profitably discuss how by such a two-tier approach we have goal-directed purposeful action in the loop without robbing the loop of its computational architecture and the implications that what he loop does is framed on responses to circumstances in light of hardware and software. (For instance with the brain, one possibility is quantum level influences.)

    27 –> Such is inherently consistent with empirical findings on the brain-body loop and with the findings we have known since forever that we are self aware, self moved agents who are intelligent and capable of design.

    28 –> Where also it is easily shown that as a rock has no dreams, it cannot be deceived that it is conscious. Likewise, if we are aware of our consciousness, we cannot be deceived that we are conscious and are in some way profoundly different from a rock or rock fragments.

    29 –> Multiply this by the implications of the design inference and we are already seeing that a worldview that accepts that reality owes its existence to an intelligent immaterial, powerful purposeful designer who is a necessary — thus eternal — being, is not empty indoctrination and blind superstition [as those influenced over much by radical secularism are wont to imagine], but a serious worldview option; one compatible with free science not held ideological captive to Lewontinian ideological a priori materialism.

    30 –> And from that it is but a step to seriously investigate this matter.

    KF

  79. KF #74: But, if, a priori, you are committed to reducing intelligence, design, and other aspects of mind to blind chance and mechanical necessity, you will simply refuse to look where you should if you are to have a serious hope of finding a sensible answer.

    The inwardness (self-sustaining, self-organization) of consciousness (and life) all points to unity and irreducibility – “I am that I am”. Only the metaphysical concept “unity” is a truly general encompassing concept for consciousness.

    Materialism states that there are no undividable things above the level of atoms. However it is confronted with the hard problem of consciousness and life.

    Consciousness and life is telling us in thousand different ways: “here I am”, “I am a unity”, “I am a self”, “I am free”, “I’m not just my parts”, “I am that I am”.
    What is it with materialists? Can they not hear?

  80. WJM, UB and Box:

    All highly cogent comments. Note that I did just above to analyse RDF’s views as so blatantly put in November.

    As to what is going on, I think we have the impacts of an a priori ideology here on display.

    That is one reason why I am now dealing with this analysis.

    KF

  81. BA77 shows us an interesting case in point of food for thought on how cases that do not sit well with the evo mat frame can be investigated and reported, here.

  82. KF, WJM, UB, Box:

    Thank you for adding to the interesting discussion.

    KF:

    Thank you for fixing my post :)

  83. Box:

    Only the metaphysical concept “unity” is a truly general encompassing concept for consciousness.

    That is really a good point. I believe that the transcendental I is really a single, constant subject. One of the conceptual reasons why an arrangement of natter cannot generate consciousness is that consciousness is simple, while its contents can be extremely complex. Only a transcendental subject can explain that unity.

  84. Relevant to gpuccio´s precise bulldozing of RDFish´s position:

    Edward F. Kelly:(…) we emphasize that science consists at bottom of certain attitudes and procedures, rather than any fixed set of beliefs. The most basic attitude is that facts have primacy over theories and that beliefs should therefore always remain modifiable in response to new empirical data. In the forceful words of Francis Bacon (1620/1960), from the beginning of the scientific era: “The world is not to be narrowed till it will go into the understanding… but the understanding to be expanded and opened till it can take in the image of the world as it is in fact”
    ~ `Irreducible Mind`

  85. Gpuccio, great job highlighting the cognitive bias at play in the discussion.
    As far as nonhuman consciousness is concerned, ID proponents are far from being the only people willing to acknowledge that possibility. SETI certainly granted the possibility of nonhuman consciousness. Additionally, a number of mainstream thinkers happily embrace the idea that Darwinian evolution must have generated other conscious beings somewhere in the cosmos (it is so big after all). Thus, conceiving consciousness as not strictly limited to human beings is hardly controversial. Unless, of course, the implications make people uncomfortable…
    KF, thanks for highlighting the Johnson quote. If anyone wants to read the full article, here’s the link:

  86. Optimus, that Philip Johnson reply to Lewontin’s infamous Jan 1997 NYRB article — cf. here for that one in all its faded glory — is indeed a classic. These two articles laid out the battle lines that have continued to be the flashpoint ever since. Every serious debater on ID should carefully read both, and if you are unfamiliar with ID you should read the NWE intro here (and my first UD blog ID founds article on the design inference, here, don’t forget the UD resources tab at top of EVERY UD page esp. the weak argument correctives, too) . . . the Wiki article is worthless save as an illustration of a hatchet job by ideologues lurking in their basements and probably being paid a stipend to serve as secularist cannon fodder. KF

    PS: Peter Williams’ review on the validity of the design inference as justified by outsiders to the ID movement, here, will also bear study . . . yet another sleeper.

  87. F/N: I have decided — given the sudden objection that what chance is is ever so vague — to put up a notice post, giving a summary rough definition of chance based on remarks here and in the first ID foundations post, here. KF

    PS: Later, I intend to address the notion of causeless events that appears in MF’s remarks. That one goes to the heart of rationality and the significant of the principle of sufficient reason that tells us that if A comes to be we can ask why A and seek a reasonable answer, in this case whatever begins to exist has a cause.

  88. Hi gpuccio,

    We have no independent evidence of the Big Bang. Big Bang is an event which is conjectured, and whose real nature is not understood. We have evidences that a theory which includes that conjecture explain things, and predicts things, better than any other theory at present available. Which is exactly my point about ID.

    Here is what you said:

    The fact remains that such agent or agents could exist, and that the existence of biological information and of dFSCI in it is a very strong support to that hypothesis.

    So, in your view, ID theory assumes consciousness was responsible for biological CSI, then claims the existence of biological CSI as evidence that ID is correct. That would be analogous to assuming the universe started in a Big Bang, then citing the existence of the universe as evidence that this theory is correct. I pointed out if that was what Big Bang cosmologists had done, nobody would have listened to them. But instead, they produced multiple lines of experimental confirmation of very specific predictions. Only then was Big Bang theory generally accepted.

    In stark contrast, the claim that consciousness is required for CSI to arise cannot be empirically confirmed (even to the extent that it is conceptually clear).

    “Moreover, I must remind you that consensus is scarcely a guarantee of how well a theory explains things.

    Of course! We have been in violent agreement over this point for some time now. :-)

    I would appreciate you thoughts on my statement: As philosophers of science well know, and certainly you with them, cultural bias and cognitive bias are always at the door. That’s why the least consistent and least empirically supported theory of our times, neo-darwinism, is still proclaimed as a “fact, and not a theory”, and endorsed as something “more certain than the theory of gravitation” by present academy.

    OK, here are my thoughts:
    1) I do not believe neo-darwinism successfully accounts for biological form and function (but evolutionary theory per se is certainly not the least supported theory of our times).
    3) The “evolution is fact not a theory” meme rests on an equiviocation on the word “evolution”.
    4) The reasons that biologists are dogmatic about evolutionary theory are more complicated than cognitive and cultural bias, but those play a part.
    5) There is no empirical support for the claim that evolutionary fully accounts for the existence of biological CSI, and good reasons to think it doesn’t.

    That simply means that we can expect anything from “scientific consensus”.” Do you agree?

    I’d say the scientific consensus is shown to be with significant frequency. In fact, the only thing less certain that a result endorsed by the a consensus of the scientific community is a result that isn’t.

    That said, the crucial point is in these words of yours:

    “Let’s say we have some unexplained phenomenon, and then we come up with two perfectly stupid and ridiculous hypotheses that, if either were true, would explain the phenomenon” (emphasis mine).

    So, what you are saying that a possible explanation should not be considered, even is others are not available, if its assumtions are “perfectly stupid and ridiculous”. That is completely different from saying that an assumption is not supported by independent facts.

    I’m afraid you’ve misinterpreted my remarks – I should have been more clear. I was not at all implying that either ID or evolutionary theory is stupid or ridiculous. Rather, I was arguing this: we don’t adopt the best explanation of something unless that explanation actually has sufficient warrant – not just because it is not as baseless as other explanations.

    I tried to make this point clear using an illustration, because I run into this issue frequently here, and it’s an important point to understand. I chose very ridiculous hypotheses as my examples NOT because I was saying ID is ridiculous (it is not), but rather because if I chose very ridiculous examples, there would be no confusion about them lacking sufficient empirical evidence! AGAIN: I have never, here or anywhere else, implied that ID is stupid or ridiculous, because I believe no such thing. I have always argued, however, that ID should not be considered to be an empirically supported scientific theory.

    I don’t understand why you go on introducing the term “paranormal phenomena”. To what do you refer?

    From WIKI: Paranormal is a general term (coined c. 1915–1920[1][2]) that designates experiences that lie outside “the range of normal experience or scientific explanation”[3] or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science’s current ability to explain or measure.

    Do you think either religious experiences or NDEs are “paranormal”? If so, I would appreciate that you explained why (if you do not consider it as an attempt at derailing the conversation).

    I consider NDEs to be paranormal by this definition, because they are outside of the range of normal experience. I didn’t call religious experiences “paranormal”.

    I am afraid that here your bad epistemology surfaces again. Connection between events are never facts. They are mental concepts, therefore theories. So, you are just accusing me of not being able to show that what cannot be a fact is not a fact- Well, I will take that accusation as a compliment.

    Huh? What I mean by “fact” is a true statement about the world, and certainly a statement about a connection between two things can be true or not. “Cigarettes cause cancer” is a fact – it is a true statement about a connection between two things.

    In this context, the existence of our consciousness is a fact, and our ability to design things is a fact, but it is not a fact that consciousness is a necessary cause of design ability.

    You argue that you needn’t show a casual connection, but rather only a correlation, and that the correlation is perfect (for the CSI where we know the source). Then I reply that the perfect correlation is in fact between design ability and human beings, not consciousness. Then you say it doesn’t matter, you can still base an inference on the correlation. Then I reply: No, you can’t, because by the very same reasoning, you could infer that the cause of biological CSI had a spleen.

    Now, the central claim of ID theory is not, as you seem to think, the existence of non physical conscious beings. That is a possible consequence of ID theory, not its central claim.

    The central claim of ID is the presence in biological information of a definite property, dFSCI, which is observed, out of biological information, only in designed things. And that no theory which does not include the intervention of a conscious designer can, even vaguely, begin to explain that simple observed fact.

    I don’t understand. ID says: all explanations of the dFSCI we observe in biology will necessarily invoke a conscious entity. That sounds to me as though ID claims a conscious entity was responsible for the original dFSCI, which means ID posits the existence of a conscious being (whether physical or not) that does not itself have a body with dFSCI.

    Now, you can just say that any theory that includes as an assumption the existence of conscious designers which would probably be non physical is perfectly stupid and ridiculous, but that is only your cognitive bias speaking.

    See above. Your misunderstanding of my remarks was probably caused by your cognitive bias :-)

    IOWs, fact show that many times, in the course of natural history, there has been a rather sudden generation of complex functional information, without any apparent “natural” explanation. … So, how do you think you can try to explain dFSCI in biological information, and its documented appearance in natural history?

    Incidently, I see you look at these “sudden” infusions of CSI and find it consistent with what we know about intelligent designers. But intelligent agents typically develop designs rapidly – on the order of years or decades, not hundreds of millions of years! Why isn’t it a prediction of ID that species change on a timescale that intelligent agents typically operate on?

    In any event, there’s no evidence to warrant believe in any theory at all regarding the emergence of biological CSI at this point.

    No. As I have said, I must not justify my assumptions, provided they are not stupid and ridiculous.

    Well, I think you’re sneaking in your justification right here. It’s not simply that your assumptions are stupid or they are not stupid – it’s a matter of what evidence you can provide to suggest they are true. I’ve already said there’s nothing “stupid” or “ridiculous” about ID. Still, we must have some way to determine if there actually was some conscious being who caused the biological CSI we observe, and ID fails to provide any such method.

    RDF: “We do not know that humans can design things because they are conscious; it could be, for all we know, that consciousness is not an attribute that would be shared by everything capable of producing complex designs.”
    GP: OK, and so? That only means that whoever can empirically show that non conscious system can generate dFSCI will have falsified the theory. That just means that the theory is perfectly scientific, in a Popperian sense. That is its merit, not its fault.

    Falsification is certainly a merit, yes, but it does not itself justify a theory that has no other evidence. If my theory was that kangaroos built Stonehenge, you could falsify that theory in any number of ways, but that wouldn’t constitute positive support that my theory was true.

    gpuccio, let me pause here. Frankly I think your arguments are better than most (or any) others I’ve encountered here, and I think they deserve thoughtful replies to make my objections clear. Presently I am beset by holiday duties (even we theological con-cognitivists celebrate New Year) and cannot devote more time to this now. I apologize for suggesting you were derailing the conversation – you are clearly arguing in good faith, and I do appreciate that a great deal indeed.

    Until a bit later, Happy New Year to you!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  89. RD:

    ID says: all explanations of the dFSCI we observe in biology will necessarily invoke a conscious entity. That sounds to me as though ID claims a conscious entity was responsible for the original dFSCI, which means ID posits the existence of a conscious being (whether physical or not) that does not itself have a body with dFSCI.

    In this universe- IOW the designer could very well have dFSCI- the designer(s) is(are) responsible for the origin of dFSCI in this universe.

  90. RDFish:

    In order, for the last time (this year) :). Please, take all the time you need to answer. We are not in a hurry.

    Here is what you said:

    “The fact remains that such agent or agents could exist, and that the existence of biological information and of dFSCI in it is a very strong support to that hypothesis.”
    So, in your view, ID theory assumes consciousness was responsible for biological CSI, then claims the existence of biological CSI as evidence that ID is correct. That would be analogous to assuming the universe started in a Big Bang, then citing the existence of the universe as evidence that this theory is correct. I pointed out if that was what Big Bang cosmologists had done, nobody would have listened to them. But instead, they produced multiple lines of experimental confirmation of very specific predictions. Only then was Big Bang theory generally accepted.

    In stark contrast, the claim that consciousness is required for CSI to arise cannot be empirically confirmed (even to the extent that it is conceptually clear).

    You are again equivocating, and changing the logical order of the reasoning. ID theory does (among others) the following things:

    a) Observes a constant connection between dFSCI and certainly designed things (that is, whings that originated in a design process, a process where there is an intervention of a conscious agent, and where the form outputted into the object is previously represented in the consciousness of the agent), with 100% specificify (no assumptions here).

    b) Assumes that dFSCI can be used, at least provisdionally, as an indicator of design.

    c) Acknowledges that biological objects are the only other class of objects that exhibits dFSCI, and that theor origin is not known.

    d) Acknowledges that all present explanations for biological information are completely unsatisfying, indeed definitely and obviously unsupported by known facts.

    e) Infers a design origin (the intervention of some conscious agent) as a good explanation for biological information.

    f) Verifies that known facts are well explained by some theory which assumes a conscious input of functional information at definite times, and that new facts are in accord with that paradigm.

    g) Verifies that no new facts falsify the design inference (for example, any experimental setting able to show, for the first time, that dFSCI can emerge without any intervention of a conscious agent)

    h) Answers objections, like yours, that the existence of conscious agents who could have designed biological information is empirically unjustified, patiently explaining that it is a reasonable assumption which is falsified by nothing, which is in accord with what humans have always thought and believed, that there are other kinds of empirical evidence (like religious experiences and NDEs) which justify it, and that however in the ID context it needs no empirical justification, because it it an assumption that is part of the theory, and it is the theory that must be evaluated, for its ability to explain old and new facts, and for its ability of not being falsified, while being perfectly falsifiable.

    So, ID theory remains the best scientific explanation available, and you remain with your convictions. Which is perfectly fine.

    To be even more clear, ID theory does not “claim the existence of biological CSI as evidence that ID is correct”.

    Again, ID theory claims that dFSCI is a good indicator of a design origin, and that claim is based upon innumerable empirical observations of a constant connection between dfSCI and the intervention of a conscious agent in the process of origination of the object that exhibits it (part 1).

    Then it observes and demonstrates that biological information exhibits dFSCI in tons (part 2).

    Then it infers a design origin for biological information (part 3).

    Then it answers the unwarranted objections of its critics about the lack of empirical support of the theory or of its assumption, by reminding them of how a correct epistemology works (part 4).

    You say:

    “I pointed out if that was what Big Bang cosmologists had done, nobody would have listened to them.”

    And I add that if that was what ID theorists do, nobody should listen to them.

    You say:

    “But instead, they produced multiple lines of experimental confirmation of very specific predictions.”

    And that’s exactly what ID theory does. There are multiple lines of experimental confirmation for ID, that support the model where functional information appears rather suddenly, without any explanation, in a biological system, confirming the theory that it has been inputted exactly as it happens in any design process.

    You say:

    “That would be analogous to assuming the universe started in a Big Bang, then citing the existence of the universe as evidence that this theory is correct.”

    So, you are saying that ID assumes that biological information started in a design process, and cites the existence of biological information as evidence that this theory is correct!

    That is worse than a caricature, it is complete folly.

    ID never assumes that biological information started in a design process. That is your invention. Unwarranted and unfair. As I have said millions of times, but you seem not to listen, ID observes the presence of a formal property, dFSCI, in designed things, and assumes (very reasonably) that it can be used as an indicator for design, and observes that such property is present in biological information. Therefore, ID infers that a design origin is a very good explanation for the origin of biological information. As no other credible explanations are available, ID claims (with modesty :) ) that its theory is the best available theory.

    Does that sound the same as your caricature?

    OK, here are my thoughts:
    1) I do not believe neo-darwinism successfully accounts for biological form and function (but evolutionary theory per se is certainly not the least supported theory of our times).
    3) The “evolution is fact not a theory” meme rests on an equiviocation on the word “evolution”.
    4) The reasons that biologists are dogmatic about evolutionary theory are more complicated than cognitive and cultural bias, but those play a part.
    5) There is no empirical support for the claim that evolutionary fully accounts for the existence of biological CSI, and good reasons to think it doesn’t.

    OK, I am rather satisfied with that. Good to know that you think that way :). If you feel lonely, being out of the darwinist tent and out of the ID tent, we can always offer you some refuge :) But I can appreciate your loneliness. I am a lonely person, too.

    I’d say the scientific consensus is shown to be with significant frequency. In fact, the only thing less certain that a result endorsed by the a consensus of the scientific community is a result that isn’t.

    Are you really sure it’s less certain? :)

    More in next post.

  91. RDFish:

    OK, I will not comment further on the “paranormal”. Obviously, I don’t like the Wiki definition. However, I just wanted to emphasize that both religious and mystical experiences and NDEs are common enough, and should be treated like any other normal empirical events. If all that science cannot explain were paranormal, the fall of an apple would have been paranormal before Newton’s times.

    OK, let’s go on:

    Huh? What I mean by “fact” is a true statement about the world, and certainly a statement about a connection between two things can be true or not. “Cigarettes cause cancer” is a fact – it is a true statement about a connection between two things.

    Wow! Big epistemological problem here. For me, facts are observable events. (Probably) true statements about the world are not facts, but good theories. Even if they are very good. If you cannot agree with that we really have a problem.

    “Cigarettes cause cancer” is a very good theory. I have no problem to consider it pragmatically as “true”. But it is not a fact. A causal relationship is never a fact.

    The connection between dFSCI and design is a fact (we observe dFSCI in designed objects, and we don’t oberve it in non designed objects). (OK dFSCI is not exactly observed, but it is a property computed from observed things).

    The idea that dFSCI can be caused by design is a theory. A good theory. It will always remain a theory. Like all good theories, it will never become a fact.

    The idea that dFSCI can be an indicator of design (not necessarily caused by it) is a very good theory. Again, it will never become a fact.

    Theories are never facts. The two categories are completely different. Again, if you cannot agree with that, we have a problem.

    In this context, the existence of our consciousness is a fact, and our ability to design things is a fact, but it is not a fact that consciousness is a necessary cause of design ability.

    The same problem. To be really precise:

    a) The existence of our personal consciousness is a fact for ourselves (we observe it in ourselves).

    b) The existence of a similar consciousness in other humans is indeed an inference by analogy (therefore a theory). I admit that it is probably the best theory in the history of thought, but there have been people (solipsists) who have not accepted it.

    c) Our ability to design things is a fact (it is observed)

    d) That consciousness is a necessary cause of design ability is a theory. A good theory, IMO.

    You argue that you needn’t show a casual connection, but rather only a correlation, and that the correlation is perfect (for the CSI where we know the source). Then I reply that the perfect correlation is in fact between design ability and human beings, not consciousness. Then you say it doesn’t matter, you can still base an inference on the correlation. Then I reply: No, you can’t, because by the very same reasoning, you could infer that the cause of biological CSI had a spleen.

    And again, although you have certainly understood better my reasoning, you choose to ignore my argument that the information that constitutes dFSCI in the object derives from the same information represented, previously, in the agent. The agent purposefully outputs that information, understands its meaning and considers it desirable. Otherwise, no design process can happen. Therefore, a connection, be it causal or of some other kind, between consciousness in the agent and the design process and dFSCI in the object is simply a very obvious hypothesis. And a good theory. Can you say the same thing for the role of the spleen? And, if you convince me, I have no problem in hypothesizing spleen designers as the origin of biological information. The problem remains the same. Whatever it is that is connected, in humans, to the ability to design and output dFSCI, is the best candidate to explain biological information.

    I hypothesize it is consciousness. You may choose spleen. But we must try to answer in some way, not just renounce.

    Well. I think I will go on next year. I have my festivities too, and my wife is going to kill me if I go on posting :)

    I just want to say that I appreciate your contributions a lot. You are that rare treasure that everyone should desire: a very good opponent.

  92. Hi gpuccio,

    I hope you had very nice holidays. Let’s start the new year with a continuation of our interesting discussion.

    That simply means that we can expect anything from “scientific consensus”.” Do you agree?

    Certainly the scientific consensus is shown to be wrong with significant frequency. In fact, the only thing less certain than a result endorsed by the consensus of the scientific community is a result that isn’t.

    Are you really sure it’s less certain?

    Yes, of course. If scientific results did not have any elevated status, ID folks would not be so adamant that their theory is scientific, nor working so hard to get a paper that has some (any) apparent relation to ID published in a reputable peer-review journal.

    Science is clearly the most effective process we have for justifying our beliefs and thus generating knowledge. The fact that scientists often get things wrong doesn’t change that. Cognitive bias, errors, and dishonesty plague all knowledge-seeking endeavors, but at least science has methods and safeguards to help address these problems over the long term. Without such methods it’s just playing tennis without a net, with whatever sorts of ideas that appeal to whomever for whatever reason winning out, even over the long term. People tend to think that since science isn’t perfect then it is without value; the truth is, scientifically vetted knowledge has proven to be trustworthy in countless ways.

    People here often enjoy poking fun at speculative ideas in physics, such as the many-worlds interpretation of QM or various multiverse hypotheses, and to the extent that the theorizers claim that these theories have empirical support this skeptical response is quite appropriate. But ID is at least as speculative as these ideas, and nothing at all like the scientific results that actually have been empirically confirmed, (where “confirmed” is not supposed to mean “with absolute 100% certainty forever”, ok?), such as the Big Bang.

    I don’t need to demonstrate the causality, although I believe that there are many reasons to infer it as the best explanation. I just need to demonstrate the connection. IOWs, consciousness could even be an epiphenomenon, but at present it is an epiphenomenon that is always present in agents who can generate dFSCI. And it is connected to the design process, because the information outputted into the object is always present, before, in the conscious representations of the agent.

    On one hand you argue that it isn’t necessary for you to demonstrate anything but a correlation between consciousness and design ability, then on the other hand you go on to claim that you can show that consciousness is “connected to” the design process, which is an implicit concession that it actually is important to show more than mere co-occurrence.

    If consciousness is epiphenomenal, then that means it is not required for the design process to proceed, which means there is no reason to think that some other sort of thing that outputs dFSCI but is very different from a human being would also have human-like consciousness.

    As I have explained, it is perfectly reasonable to infer that consciousness plays at least some role in generating dFSCI, because the information is present in the conscious representation before being outputted to the object.

    Again, either consciousness plays a role in causing dFSCI or it does not. If it doesn’t (i.e. if consciousness is strictly perceptual, or epiphenomenal), then your argument fails (there is no justification for assuming the cause of biological CSI was conscious just because human beings are).

    Now, let me try to understand what you are talking about regarding “information being present in the conscious representation”. I think here we run into issues regarding the difference between your meaning for the word “conscious” and the way most people would use the word. You don’t actually mean that we are conscious of these conscious representations; rather you mean something else. Here is what I think you mean: Even if we are not conscious of our conscious representations, they are “conscious” nevertheless because they can be inferred to exist by examining our behavior. In other words, even if I don’t understand English grammar, the fact that I can create grammatical sentences in English implies that I have conscious representations of grammar all the same. Is that what you mean?

    If that is correct, then you are talking about what philosophers of mind call mental representations, and you are probably aware that representationalism is an aspect of only some theories of mind and not others, and that if you ask ten scientists and/or philosophers their solution to intentionality, you will get twelve different answers. So we’re already on shaky ground using the notion of mental representations to support some supposedly scientific theory. But let’s here for the sake of argument agree that mental representations are real – they are information-bearing structures that exist in our minds and that are stored, transformed, and retrieved in our mental processes, and that they represent entities and relationships in the external world.

    Your commitment to representationalism, it seems to me, presents two sorts of issues for ID. First, it is an extremely probable hypothesis, given our understanding of information processing, that mental representations require complex physical mechanisms of one sort or another in order to be stored, transformed, and retrieved. And second, since your concept of conscious representations doesn’t actually entail phenomenal consciousness at all, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to posit anything but ordinary (lawlike) physical processes in order to support them. Let me explain why I think these issues present problems for ID.

    As for the first issue: Most ID proponents insist that ID remains agnostic regarding any properties and attributes of the hypothetical Designer. If, however, it appears that CSI-rich structures are required in order to store, transform, and retrieve mental representations, then in order to be consistent with our understanding of the world, any sort of designer that ID might posit would necessarily itself contain high levels of CSI. Rather than pursue the consequences of this, let me first get your response to this line of reasoning thus far: Do you agree that given our empirically-based understanding of information processing, we would be forced to conclude that all designers would most likely contain high levels of CSI themselves?

    As for the second issue: ID rests on the claim that no combination of chance and fixed law can produce CSI. It then presents “intelligent cause” as a third type of cause which somehow transcends chance and fixed law and produces CSI. But aside from the mystery of conscious phenomenology, there seems to be no reason to posit anything transcendent about our ability to store, transform, and retrieve information. Certainly we don’t understand how we do it (if we did, we would be able to replicate human-like intelligence with computers, or at least provide a principled explanation of why we cannot), but that doesn’t justify hypothesizing some sort of extended ontology to explain it (or explain it away).

    Moreover, understanding of meaning and purposeful intention are exactly the faculties that drive the design process, as should be obvious to whoever has designed complex things.

    I’ve designed exceedingly complex things, and I’ve studied cognition too, and it is far from obvious to someone with my expertise in both areas what “drives” the design process. As I’ve said, many people (including myself) are struck by the fact that it subjectively seems as though design decisions and solutions come to me rather me generating them in some way. They appear in my (waking) consciousness, often when I am not even thinking about them. All of our experience is perfectly compatible with the idea that our brains generate CSI by processing information in some way and then at some point we may (or may not) become conscious of our choices.

    Your attempts not only at at doubting that (which is your right), but at stating that everybody should doubt that, and that it is not reasonable to assume that connection to explain things that cannot be explained otherwise is, again, pure cognitive bias. No offence intended.

    You are wrong about this in several ways. (1) I am not “attempting to doubt” your philosophy of mind; I simply point out that it lacks empirical support. (2) I am not saying everyone should doubt it; again, I am simply saying that your particular ideas about consciousness and design have no more scientific status than various other conflicting views in philosophy of mind. (3) I am not saying that it is not reasonable to make your assumptions; I am saying that you cannot justify your assumptions by appeal to our shared observations. As much as you’d like to think otherwise, my position does not suffer from cognitive bias, either pure or adulterated :-).

    You start with views about philosophy of mind that you cannot support empirically, and then you say if your ideas were true then they would account for biological CSI, and then you make the great leap to insist that your unsupported assumptions therefore support the best scientific explanation for biological CSI. Over and over I have shown why this sort of reasoning just doesn’t work, and why scientists (such as those who justified our belief in Big Bang Theory) don’t just make up unsupported assumptions that would, if they were true, explain whatever they want to explain. Instead, they have to actually find ways to determine if their assumptions are true or not.

    But I am fully available at considering your alternative explanations. So, please, what “other attributes of human beings”, outside of consciousness, would you pick to explain the ability to generate dFSCI?
    Again, nobody knows how people design things. I’ve been very interested to understand human mental abilities, and have studied them my whole adult life, and I’m certain that neither me nor anyone else can explain how we manage to come up solutions to design problems.

    Having a human brain? That’s fine. So, your hypothesis is that having a human brain is the causal explanation of dFSCI.

    I’ve said many times now I do not have an hypothesis for how we manage to think. As I explained above, however, it appears that any sort of explanation for mental abilities would entail the storage, transformation, and retrieval of information, which in turn would require complex physical state machinery of some sort in order to operate.

    And therefore, biological dFSCI can be explained by the intervention of systems having a human brain, I suppose. Is that your position?

    I’ve made my position perfectly clear many times now: Nobody knows how biological CSI came to exist. Clearly, based on our knowledge of intelligent agents, some sort of complex life form with organs for processing information would be the most likely candidate for a Designer of Life, but there are obvious problems with hypothesizing such an organism as the explanation for biological complexity. That’s why I say nobody has a good theory yet.

    I must have missed something in your logic.

    Apparently!

    most of what we observe in the biological world can be explained, and is predicted, by ID theory, and would not be expected to occur for any other reason. Where is the difference? What am I missing?

    I don’t understand what you mean by ID predicting our observations. Obviously ID (like evolutionary theory) can’t predict anything regarding the particular instantiations of complex form and function we observe; for example, nothing in ID predicts the existence of flagella per se. Nor does ID predict how vast is the variety of form and function we observe, nor the characteristics of their distribution over the Earth, nor the existence of symbiotic or parasitic forms, and so on and so on. Certainly ID does not predict the timescale that we find in evidence; in fact, if ID was truly extrapolating from what we know of intelligent agency, it would predict a radically faster design cycle that is evident in the fossil record.

    And as for explaining our predictions, for each and every one of our observations, ID provides the exact same explanation: because of intelligent design. ID proponents (and I) poke fun at evolutionary explanations that either invoke nothing but “because of random variation and natural selection”, or else make up just-so stories that can’t be verified. Yet ID is even worse than that: ID doesn’t even say what particular process is supposedly involved; it merely labels it with the ill-defined word “intelligent”.

    So what you are missing is this: It isn’t possible to tell if ID is true or not, because it makes no predictions that we can check against our observations, and because its sole explanatory concept, “intelligent causation”, is actually in effect entirely synonymous with “some unknown sort of thing that can do anything”.

    The scenario is exactly the same [as for the Big Bang] for the origin by design of biological information. There is no difference.

    I disagree 100%: There is a list of very specific, quantitative, observationally accessible predictions that confirmed BB, and there is nothing of the sort for ID.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  93. RDFish:

    Yes, the discussion is interesting indeed. Let’s try to make if even more interesting.

    First of all, a clarification. My phrase about the certainty of consensus endorsed results was essentially a joke, as I hoped the “smile” would suggest. However, since you have taken it seriously, I want to state very clearly that I do believe in the importance of science. If and when it is well made. Indeed, I love science, and I come here only to discuss scientific approaches.

    But… I would like to say a couple of things about that:

    a) There is a special context where being out of the scientific consensus does “increase” the probability of being right. It’s when the scientific consensus endorses irrational dogma. That’s what has happened with neo-darwinism. IOWs, when a cultural bias becomes a widely imposed and abusively defended dogma, then only being out of the official consensus gives some hope of independent, realistic reasoning.

    b) However, I would not agree completely with your statement that:

    “Science is clearly the most effective process we have for justifying our beliefs and thus generating knowledge.”

    Science is certainly an important part of our knowledge. But cognition is much wider than science. Moreover, important non scientific parts of cognition, like philosophy of science and epistemology, are extremely important for the existence of science itself. Moreover, I don’t think that we really know or can define what science is. Important philosophers of science, like Feyerabend and Polanyi, have casted significant doubts about that. I agree with them on many things.

    IOWs, science is very important, but it is not all. And, definitely, it is not what it seems.

    A second minor point, before going on to the main issues. You say:

    On one hand you argue that it isn’t necessary for you to demonstrate anything but a correlation between consciousness and design ability, then on the other hand you go on to claim that you can show that consciousness is “connected to” the design process, which is an implicit concession that it actually is important to show more than mere co-occurrence.

    If consciousness is epiphenomenal, then that means it is not required for the design process to proceed, which means there is no reason to think that some other sort of thing that outputs dFSCI but is very different from a human being would also have human-like consciousness.

    There is a technical equivocation here. What I am saying is that there is, however, a constant statistical connection between dFSCI and the output of a conscious agent (in the sense of 100% specificity with low sensitivity). A causal relationship is the simplest explanation for that. But even if there is no direct causal relationship, a causal explanation must exist. IOWs, maybe it is not consciousness that causes dFSCI, but consciousness must then be causally connected to what causes dFSCI. IOWs, a simple random “co-occurrence” does not explain what we observe.

    That said, I would like to deepen a little bit the discussion on the most important points, to avoid repeating always what we have already said.

    1) The information in consciousness and the nature of consciousness.

    When I say that the information (dfSCI) is present in consciousness before it is outputted into the object, I mean a very simple thing: the information is represented before it is outputted.

    IOWs, a designer represents his design before implementing it.

    Now, let’s be clear. I am well aware that design can be implemented gradually, or as the result of a trial and error process. I am not saying that the whole result of the design process is represented before the design process begins. But, in each single step, what the designer output to the object is done to obtain a represented form, or function. The designer understands the meaning and the purpose of what he is designing. He may not know the deep origin of that information, but in his representation the information is already present.

    Now, you say:

    Here is what I think you mean: Even if we are not conscious of our conscious representations, they are “conscious” nevertheless because they can be inferred to exist by examining our behavior. In other words, even if I don’t understand English grammar, the fact that I can create grammatical sentences in English implies that I have conscious representations of grammar all the same. Is that what you mean?

    Not exactly. I am saying two different things:

    a) Conscious representations are conscious because we represent them subjectively. They are observed in our consciousness, they are not “inferred to exist by examining our behavior”. Behavior has nothing to do with that. When I think a grammatically correct sentence, I am representing it, and in my representation the whole dFSCI of the sentence is there. That has nothing to do with how it was generated. This is the very simple “connection” which I refer to. If I do not represent the sentence, with all its information, I cannot certainly output it to a sheet of paper. Therefore, conscious representation of the information always precedes the design act.

    b) My second statement is that the subconscious activities that contribute to generate the sentence are represented too, although at a different level of consciousness, which is not that of “waking consciousness”, but corresponds rather to what we usually call “subconscious mind”. Of many of those representations we are more or less aware, although with varying degrees of awareness. Now, it is perfectly possible that many absolutely non conscious algorithmic processes in the brain contribute to the final generation of dFSCI. Indeed, it is certainly so. But my point is that mere algorithmic processes cannot generate new dFSCI, if some conscious representations of meaning and purpose do not contribute to the process.

    That brings us to the important point of the relationship between, let’s say, “dFSCI and dFSCI”. You say:

    As for the first issue: Most ID proponents insist that ID remains agnostic regarding any properties and attributes of the hypothetical Designer.

    I am not among them.

    If, however, it appears that CSI-rich structures are required in order to store, transform, and retrieve mental representations, then in order to be consistent with our understanding of the world, any sort of designer that ID might posit would necessarily itself contain high levels of CSI. Rather than pursue the consequences of this, let me first get your response to this line of reasoning thus far: Do you agree that given our empirically-based understanding of information processing, we would be forced to conclude that all designers would most likely contain high levels of CSI themselves?

    This is an important point, and a very deep one. I will try to clarify better what I think.

    I agree with you that, in humans, an information rich brain, full of dFSCI, contributes essentially to the form of human representations, and therefore to the generation of dFSCI. But the crucial word is “contributes”. The brain, considered merely as an algorithmic machine, could never do anything like that. But the brain “serves” human consciousness by allowing many important algorithmic computations that are certainly used by consciousness to generate new dFSCI. But consciousness still makes the main work, that is to give meaning and purpose to those computations.

    IOWs, consciousness (the I) is like a person using a computer. The computing abilities of the machine are very useful, and the person can do, using them, many things that would be impossible otherwise. But the machine would be completely powerless to generate the result without a person using it. So, no algorithmic system can generate new dFSCI. But human consciousness certainly uses algorithmic computations in the brain and in the body, gives meaning and purpose to them, and generates new dFSCI.

    Now, the argument now has two aspects.

    1) What is the role of a conscious subject? For me, that is clear enough. Without a conscious subject, no new dFSCI can be generated. That is both logically consistent and empirically supported. It is logically consistent because only the subjective concepts of meaning and purpose can “help” chance and law to go beyond their obvious limits. It is empirically supported, because no dFSCI has ever been observed as the result of a non conscious system.

    2) What is the role of the objective machine computations? Are they always necessary to generate dFSCI? That is more difficult to say. In the case of humans, I would say yes. I would probably say yes in general, because I believe (although I cannot be certain of that) that some computation process is always present where dFSCI emerges. But it must always be guided by a consciousness,

    Does that mean that a physical machinery involving pre-existing dFSCI must always be present to generate new dFSCI? I don’t think so.

    First of all, there is no need that the computing system be physical. Indeed, we have no certainty that, even in humans, the computing system is completely physical. Complexity could exist also at levels which do not imply physical matter. Obviously, it should have a cause, but again the laws governing non physical realities are probably still unknown to us, and anyway consciousness could still be the origin of non physical complexity.

    Second, I have been very clear that I think that non physical designer(s) are the best explanations for biological dFSCI. They may possess some non physical complexity or not. That remains an open question.

    Finally, in the ultimate sense, I believe that consciousness is essentially simple. The transcendental I is not made of parts, be them physical or not. But a simple consciousness can use the things it represents as a computing instrument, using its intuitions of meaning and purpose to do that. A very simple example. A non physical consciousness, directly interacting with a biological context, like a living cell, can use its representations of what happens in the cell, plus its intuitions of meaning and purpose, to generate new dFSCI? How? A simple example. By guided variation, or by random variation and intelligent selection.

    Let’s say that the observing consciousness can influence what “random” mutations will happen, and that it can perceive the result of the mutations, and favor new mutations which help the final desired result, using its direct perceptions of what happens in the physical realm as information. In that sense, the system formed by the perceiving consciousness plus the physical system it perceives could be able to generate new dFSCI. But the mere physical system could never do that. Exactly like the system formed by our individual consciousness plus our body can generate dFSCI, but our mere body can’t.

    Finally, in most religious (and some non religious) philosophies, a simple cause is considered to be the origin of all complex things. So, it is not at all so obvious that complexity must always come from complexity. The only obvious thing, for me, is that physical functional complexity must always come from conscious agents.

    I must stop here for the moment. I would like to specify that I am perfectly aware that most of my final arguments are mainly philosophical, and not scientific. But it’s because I have tried to answer, as I can, your philosophical objections.

    The fact remains that design is the best empirical explanation for biological information. You can make philosophical objections to that inference. I can answer them according to my worldview. But the inference remains valid.

    There is no reason in the world why a correct scientific inference should not arise philosophical problems. Indeed, the opposite is often true. The Big Bag theory, again, is a very good example of that. Quantum theory another, even better, one.

    I have many other things to say about your last post. Please, stay tuned.

  94. Hey. I messed the formatting again! The last quote should be closed before my phrase:

    “This is an important point, and a very deep one. I will try to clarify better what I think.”

    Did I fix it correctly? KF

  95. GP: Give the longsuffering Mrs GP our heartfelt thanks! KF

  96. Re RDF:

    Most ID proponents insist that ID remains agnostic regarding any properties and attributes of the hypothetical Designer

    I presume, you mean, above and beyond, intelligence, holding goal-directed purpose, ability to form concepts and configuration then express them in ART-ifacts. And in cases where symbolic code is intimately involved, linguistic ability.

    To this, I say, the design inference as such is to design as causal process manifest in credible artifacts that are on needle in haystack grounds not credibly produced by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. So that dFSCI in the world of life from cells on up to body plans, implicates language-using design. As codes are involved, well beyond 500 – 1,000 bits.

    But that by no means directly implies an inference to a designer within or beyond the cosmos. On evidence of Venter et al, it is plausible that an advanced molecular nanotech lab would be able to do what we see on earth.

    It is at cosmological level that something capable of design and being beyond the observed cosmos comes up.

    And that level raises serious challenges to a materialist view. To the point where public advocates have been heard trying to pull a cosmos out of nothing, then sliding into nothing being perceived as something. Ooopsie.

    Back on target point, there are ever so many crucial attributes of a designer that are evident from his work. Hence the concept: good/bad workmanship.

    Take up a well crafted piece of calligraphy, expressing an even better crafted bit of poetry, and illuminated with beautiful Medieval drawings, on a bit of vellum.

    Are you sure you cannot properly infer from observation, signs that point to design? Or, onwards to some key attributes that candidate designers would have to have?

    KF

  97. PS: Not from the middle ages but this shows the point.

  98. KF:

    Thanks, and the best greetings from my wife and my son…

  99. Gpuccio, first I want to convey my admiration for your writings and patience.
    When arguing for a non-physical consciousness you offer philosophical arguments, introspection, religious and mystical experiences and NDEs. There is additional (anecdotal) evidence for your position. From the book “Irriducible Mind”:

    Even more interesting than these physical revivals, however, are revivals in mental functioning. Myers (1892b) had referred to the “sudden revivals of memory or faculty in dying persons” (p. 316), and there are scattered reports of people apparently recovering from dementia shortly before death. The eminent physician Benjamin Rush, author of the first American treatise on mental illness (1812), observed that “most of mad people discover a greater or less degree of reason in the last days or hours of their lives” (p. 257). Similarly, in his classic study of hallucinations, Brierre de Boismont (1859) noted that “at the approach of death we observe that… the intellect, which may have been obscured or extinguished during many years, is again restored in all its integrity” (p. 236). Flournoy (1903, p. 48) mentioned that French psychiatrists had recently published cases of mentally ill persons who showed sudden improvement in their condition shortly before death.

    In more recent years, Osis (1961) reported two cases, “one of severe schizophrenia and one of senility, [in which] the patients regained normal mentality shortly before death” (p. 24). Osis and Haraldsson (1977/1997) reported a case of a meningitis patient who had been “severely disoriented almost to the end,” but who “cleared up, answered questions, smiled, was slightly elated and just a few minutes before death, came to herself” (p. 133). Turetskaia and Romanenko (1975) reported three cases involving remission of symptoms in dying schizophrenic patients. Grosso (2004, pp. 42–43) described three dementia cases that had been reported to him, one by a colleague and two by a nurse. In all three cases, the patient had not recognized family members for several years, but shortly before death they all were said to have become more coherent or alert and to have recognized family members. Such cases are few in number and not adequately documented, but the persistence of such reports suggests that they may represent a real phenomenon that could potentially be substantiated by further investigations. If so, they would seriously undermine the assumption that in such diseases as Alzheimer’s the mind itself is destroyed in lockstep with the brain (e.g., Edwards, 1997, pp. 295–296). Like many of the experiences discussed in this chapter, such cases would suggest that in some conditions, consciousness may be enhanced, not destroyed, when constraints normally supplied by the brain are sufficiently loosened.

  100. gpuccio @94

    IOWs, science is very important, but it is not all. And, definitely, it is not what it seems.

    As Johnson and Berlinski and other have pointed out in similar terms, by formally demonstrating design inferences in ways that are hard to argue with, ID theorists have committed an unforgivable sin against the congregation of science and its Darwinian high priests. Namely, by showing that there are real — not to mention important — limits to their methodology.

  101. RDFish:

    Now I would like to discuss another important point:

    2) ID explanations and preditcions, and why ID is like the Big Bang.

    A lot of anti ID objections rely on the statement that it does not “make predictions”, or something like that. You seem to echo that position in some measure.

    I will try to clarify what I think about that.

    First of all, I have to state again that the validity of a scientific theory is in its explanatory power. That’s why we build scientific theory: to explain facts. By the way, do you accept that facts are observable events? I hope so, because that will help in the following discussion.

    Now, theories are rational generalizations that allow us to describe facts according to regularities. They are structures based on logic and mathematics (two non empirical disciplines), and strangely try to explain and describe empirical reality. My definition of “explanatory power” of a theory includes both its ability to explain what we have already observed, and the ability to make good predictions. Indeed, predictions are nothing else than the ability to explain facts that we will observe in the future.

    Here we can, perhaps, make a subtler distinction. In many empirical contexts, the prediction includes also the suggestion of an experimental context where we can observe new facts that will be crucial to support (not verify) the theory or falsify it. But in other cases, when the theory is about events that cannot be reproduced experimentally, we cannot really “experiment” with the theory itself, but only observe new facts which are consequences of those old events and that may be more or less in accord with it. While the new experiments can certainly look for not yet known consequences of the event assumed by the theory, they cannot study the event directly in the lab.

    That is the case with both the Big Bang and the design of biological information by some non physical agent in the remote past. For different reasons, both events cannot, at least at present, be duplicated directly in the lab or in any other known context. What we can do, in both cases, is to see how our theory (Big Bang, ID) explains the facts we know, and look, purposefully and with method, to new facts that we still don’t know to see if they fit our theory, or if other explanations will be better as soon as the new facts are acquired.

    That’s the only possible meaning of the word “predictions” in that kind of context. IOWs, I cannot make a prediction of the kind: “If I generate a Big Bang in my lab, this and that will happen”, any more than I cam make a prediction of the kind: “If I convince the designer of biological information to design a new protein in my lab, this and that will happen”. Those kinds of predictions are limited to other empirical problems.

    But we can, certainly, say: if I can look better at this or that, in new experimental conditions, I can see better if the new results support my theory or falsify it. IOWs, we can always acquire new facts about the consequences of the Big Bang that is supposed to have happened 15 billion years ago, or of the biological design that is supposed to have happened in natural history at definite times, and see how they fit our theory. Those are prediction just the same, and there is no difference, in that sense, between the Big Bang theory and the ID theory. We could, perhaps more correctly, call those “predictions”, future verifications of the implications of our theory.

    Now, I have many times stated that ID theory has a lot of implications.

    I will start with the most important of all, that is the consequence of the central point of the theory itself. The central point, as we know, is that objects exhibiting dFSCI are always the output of a design process, implicating the intervention of a conscious intelligent agent. The direct implication of that is that the functional information appears in the object because outputted by the agent, and cannot be explained otherwise. IOWs, the process of design violates not the physical laws, but the statistical laws: functional configurations appear without any reason, even if their probability in the system is neglectible.

    It is important to note that design is the only process known to violate those laws. In no other context functional information emerges violating the probabilistic laws.

    We should also remember that a probabilistic law is a law just the same: while it is not strictly deterministic, it does not allow extreme violations of the model, and therefore if we observe an extreme violation of probabilities, one of two things must be true: either our model is wrong, or we are witnessing design.

    Another way to say that is that design is like a Maxwell’s demon operation against probabilistic laws to give a functional result.

    Now, suppose you can observe a system where a Maxwell’s demon is acting to generate an order that cannot be explained otherwise. Although you cannot observe the demon itself, your theory is that a demon is acting. So, all you can do is observe as well as you can the consequences, the generated order, and be sure that the only possible explanation is a demon, and device new experiments to verify that all the types of order that you observe are compatible with the action of a demon, and that all other explanations fail. Those are the correct scientific approaches you can take. You can also, obviously, try to understand what that demon is, how it operates, and how it could be observe. But maybe some of those answers are not yet in the range of your science.

    Now, that’s what we do with the Big Bang and with ID: we observe better the consequences. For ID, for example, we try to answer as well as possible the following questions:

    a) Is it true that functional information appears in the proteome rather suddenly, and cannot be explained by other theories, like neo darwinism?

    That answer is yes, for me, but certainly many aspects of the problem are not yet definitely solved. For example: is it true that functional proteins are separated islands, maybe not small, but certainly extremely small if compared to their search space, and that therefore finding those islands by a random walk is practically impossible? For me, the answer is definitely yes, but still we can certainly understand protein space better by further research. For example, a strongly connected functional protein space would help to falsify the ID theory, or at least its application to the proteome, and make more credible the neo darwinian model.

    Moreover, we can certainly learn much about how and when new protein domains appear in the course of natural history. We have already an idea, but we still lack many details.

    Moreover, we have practically no idea of how the transcriptome emerges from the genome, and of how its expression is regulated, and of how that information is stored, in the DNA or elsewhere. ID implies that that information is huge, that it is stored somewhere somehow, and that once we understand where and what it is, it will be found to be completely out of the range of the neo darwinian model, and of any other model based on chance and necessity. IOWs, tons of dFSCI must still be discovered, and will be discovered, in biological objects. Obviously, neo darwinism, or any other non design theory, hopes for simpler explanations of the regulation procedures. I am sure that they will be shown wrong.

    Another line of research regards the fundamental question: can dFSCI emerge in a non conscious system, even out of the biological world? That too would falsify ID theory. At present, all known facts support ID. But it is always possible to find empirical models that prove the opposite. Or just build cognitive theories that may explain how that could happen. Darwinists, and even non darwinists like you, are always eager to believe that some new law, concept, theory, or whatever else, will be one day able to explain dFSCI without recurring to the intervention of a conscious agent. Instead of just hoping, they should try hard to find such a theory, or concept. I wish them good luck.

    And believe me, the intervention of a conscious agent does explain design. First of all logically, because as I have tried to show the experience of meaning and purpose is definitely a great help in finding functional information. And, most important of all, empirically, because we do know that conscious agents can generate dFSCI. We may not know how they do that, but they certainly do that.

    I will deal with the problem of general paradigms in science in next post.

  102. Box, jstanley01:

    Thank you for your contributions (and for the kind words).

  103. Box:

    Like many of the experiences discussed in this chapter, such cases would suggest that in some conditions, consciousness may be enhanced, not destroyed, when constraints normally supplied by the brain are sufficiently loosened.

    This is a very important point. NDEs would be very much a confirmation of that idea. And, naturally, mystical experiences, for those who accept them as true experiences of a deeper reality.

  104. F/N: I have added a diagram and short note to illustrate mechanical necessity.

    Lannyland discusses here [HT for image], and Wiki here.

    In the latter, there is an excerpt from Galileo’s Daughter:

    The larger ball, being less susceptible to … air resistance, fell faster, to the great relief of the Pisan philosophy department. The fact that it fell only fractionally faster gave Galileo scant advantage. “Aristotle says that a hundred pound ball falling from a height of a hundred braccia [arm lengths] hits the ground before a one pound ball has fallen one braccio. I say that they arrive at the same time,” Galileo resummarised the dispute in its aftermath. “You find, on making the test, that the larger ball beats the smaller one by two inches. Now, behind those two inches you want to hide Aristotle’s ninety-nine braccia and, speaking only of my tiny error, remain silent about his enormous mistake.”

    That’s the strain out a gnat, swallow an elephant manifestation of confirmation bias.

    Could this be relevant to what we are seeing, which looks a lot like: strain out a mind, swallow any absurdity as materialism is not negotiable?

    As in, say, Reppert:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    In short, GIGO-limited computation/ processing is not the same as intelligent, rational thought and reasoned inference. And the GIGO limit raises a raft of serious self referentiality and incoherence questions on credibility of brain operations on evo mat premises.

    If that is not so, kindly explain.

    KF

  105. Re gpuccio @ 103: As a long-time onlooker, I really appreciate the discussion. Thanks to all, and keep it up!… :D

  106. F/N 2: As it seems the nature of science, theories, methods etc has come up, I invite the onlooker to read the discussion here. Which includes a description of what science is, and of its methods, and why I think that description is better than the now commonly encountered materialism loaded radical redefinitions. (A discussion of that aspect of sci and sci ed in society is here.) KF

  107. Bookmarked, KF. Thanks.

  108. RDFish:

    First of all a small addition to the discussion in the previous post. You say:

    Yet ID is even worse than that: ID doesn’t even say what particular process is supposedly involved; it merely labels it with the ill-defined word “intelligent”.

    So what you are missing is this: It isn’t possible to tell if ID is true or not, because it makes no predictions that we can check against our observations, and because its sole explanatory concept, “intelligent causation”, is actually in effect entirely synonymous with “some unknown sort of thing that can do anything”.

    Well, a conscious agent who understand, like us, the meaning of what he perceives, and who can, like us, have purposes and do things with the intention of a specific result, is not, IMO, “some unknown sort of thing”.

    And who ever said that the designer of biological information “can do anything”? That’s not what is required of him by the theory of Intelligent Design. Maybe you are equivocating with the theory of Intelligent Omnipotence! :)

    The only thing that is requested of the designer is that he be able to output functional information to biological objects. That is certainly much, but in no way it is “anything”. Maybe some misrepresentations are by now second nature in the critics of ID…

    Moreover, if one thing is obvious from the facts we can observe, it is that the biological designer act under definite restraints. He cannot do anything he likes. He act according to rules, and has definite limits. That is one of the things that can well be empirically researched.

    For example, while the features of the interface between consciousness of the designer and biological matter can at present be only the object of speculation (although, like for the human consciousness – human brain interface, it is reasonable to hypothesize a quantum level interface), what is perfectly open to scientific inquiry is the mode of implementation of the design. As I have many times suggested, the natural hypotheses are guided mutation (top down strategy) or RV + intelligent selection (bottom up strategy), or a mix of the two. Each of those solutions has definite features, that should be identifiable in the genome and proteome, as research goes on.

    In next post, the discussion about paradigms.

  109. RDFish:

    3) About paradigms in science, and the “we don’t know” position.

    I will try now to make the discussion more general.

    Biological information has always been a reason for amazement in human thought, even when its true complexity was scarcely known. The first reaction of nearly every human mind to biological form and function is to view it as designed. Indeed, that has been the current opinion for centuries, maybe millennia. That is probably still the most common opinion, at least outside the specific academia.

    Why am I starting with this prologue? Not to found my arguments on consensus, but just to make a very simple starting point: biological objects look designed. Indeed, even darwinists like Dawkins admit that.

    In the past centuries, that was not only the opinion of the common people, but also the opinion of scientists. In no way that has been an obstacle to the development of biological sciences, as far as I can say.

    Now, we all know how that has changed in “recent” times. Darwinism before, and neo darwinism (the modern synthesis) after, have introduced (that’s really an euphemism) the idea that there is a very satisfying non design explanation for biological information: neo darwinism. That message has reached most of the general population, and is strongly (another euphemism!) defended by the academy, so much so that the few people, kike us, who dissent are labeled in various ways, of which “creationists” is definitely the kindest.

    Now, I am not saying that just to complain (not here, anyway). I am saying that to give a general idea of the recent paradigm shifts regarding this subjects.

    Now, I have been discussing neo darwinism for many years here, and an important point I have increasingly realized is its connection with another modern scientific theory, which I will call here “strong AI theory”. Some have objected to my use of the term, so I will make clear from the start what I mean by that:

    Strong AI theory: the theory that conscious experiences (subjective states), including the understanding of meaning (Intelligence) emerge as the result of particular configurations of matter. IOWs, consciousness is an emergent property of some specific complexity of the software.

    Always for the sake of clarity, I give here an explicit definition of what I mean by neo darwinism:

    Neo darwinism: The theory that all the information present in biological beings is the result of RV + NS in beings capable of reproduction.

    Indeed, neo darwinism is usually completed by some OOL theory which tries to apply similar principles also to when there were no beings capables of reproduction (anyone can choose one of the many, thet are all equally insignificant). So, neo darwinism would become:

    Larger neo darwinism: the theory that all the information present in biological beings is the result of variation of configurations of non living matter (RV + NS in beings capable of reproduction, plus some other ill defined mechanism at the beginning).

    OK?

    Now, I would like to show how these two important (and terrible) theories of modern culture are related. Very simply:

    Non living Matter -> Biological information and complexity (neo darwinism)

    Even more complex configurations of biological matter -> Consciousness and intelligence (Strong AI theory).

    So, the sum of the two is:

    Non living Matter -> Consciousness and intelligence

    That is the perfect Great Unification Theory for reality: matter and consciousness explained at the same time (well, matter not completely, but after all that is the fault of physicists, who are still late with their GTUs!).

    Now, that’s what I call a paradigm. We can also give it a name. We could call it materialistic reductionism (materialistic, because matter is the origin of all, and reductionism because everything can be reduced to matter and to its known laws, if only physicists will complete their part as soon as is desirable :) ).

    There is indeed a third important aspect of the paradigm: a particular philosophy of science. Indeed. to protect the paradigm from some important objections, it is extremely important that science:

    a) Be considered the only real source of knowledge

    b) Be strictly redefined so that only certain reasoning may be admitted. In particular, only those reasonings where everything is explained, or will certainly be explained in the future, by the laws of nature as we presently know and understand them must be allowed to be considered “scientific”.

    Point b I will call “methodological naturalism”. the sum of points a + b I will call “scientism”.

    So, the present paradigm is “scientistic materialistic reductionism”.

    Well, and so? We have a scientific paradigm. That is perfectly normal, after all. All eras have some prevailing scientific paradigm. Some are better, some are worse. How is ours?

    You already know my answer, I suppose. It is very bad. And its bad quality has no justifications, because never before have we known so many facts about the reality around us.

    The simple problem with the paradigm is that it is based on three very strong intellectual lies:

    1) Neo darwinism is not a good theory for the empirical fact of biological information. It is logically inconsistent, and has no empirical support.

    2) Strong AI theory is not a good theory for consciousness and intelligence. It has no logical justification, and empirically it is a total failure.

    3) Methodological naturalism is the opposite of good science. It is a way of pre-defining what we can know according to what we presently know. And scientism is only a very extreme and narrow theory of knowledge: giving science an unwarranted supremacy in cognition, it really deprives it of its best features, of its desire to understand, of its humility.

    But is that the only paradigm available? Luckily, that is not the case. There are other ways to think. Not all of them have important general consequences in scientific thought, but at least one of them has: the Intelligent Design Theory.

    So, let’s look at ID theory as a paradigm. Indeed, it is a paradigm. It is not a narrow theory. In a sense, its purpose is not to explain particular things, but to give the right approach to explaining them.

    It is beautiful to see that ID theory is the symmetrical opposite of scientistic materialistic reductionism. Very simply, it is:

    Consciousness -> Functional complexity (including biological information).

    So, we can see that scientistic materialistic reductionism and ID are not only different theories, but opposite theories, mutually exclusive theories.

    And what is their common subject? It’s the relationship between consciousness and matter.

    In a sense, scientistic materialistic reductionism is more “totalitarian”: it explains away consciousness as an emergent property of matter, and nothing more. ID is more flexible: it does not explain away matter and its laws, but it tells us how consciousness specifically interacts with those laws to design things.

    But the true advantages of ID theory are, again, the opposite of the flaws of scientistic materialistic reductionism:

    1) It is logically consistent. Indeed, it opens new interesting avenues to both philosophy of the mind (for example, the true meaning of meaning and purpose, and the non completely algorithmic nature of human knowledge, as suggested also by Penrose) and physics (the nature of the consciousness – matter interface).

    2) It is strongly supported by known facts. Indeed, we can see almost anywhere the connection between consciousness and the design of things with complex functional information. We can experiment with design, to understand better its features. And we can pile up new facts from biology, and see if they support the model. Up to now, each new day has given us new interesting biological facts that completely support the ID theory.

    3) It requires no narrowing or pre-definition of the concept of science. Indeed, the best definition of science, for ID, is also the best definition of science in general (at leasy in my humble opinion): trying to understand what is true starting from observable facts, using all the methodologies that seem to work better, and sticking to no pre-defined definition of science itself.

    Now, in the light of all this, I would say that you position of “we really don’t know” has very little sense. You stick often to statements that we “don’t know” things. In particular, we don’t know what consciousness is, we don’t know if it has a casual role or if it is only an epiphenomenon, we don’t know how conscious agents produce complex things (but they do), we don’t know how biological information was generated, how life began, and so on.

    OK, we don’r know. I can agree. Indeed, we really don’t know anything, because our human knowledge is not absolute.

    On the contrary, you have great certainty of other things (that germs are the cause of diseases, maybe even of the Big Bang). I don’t know if you would accept quantum theory as science, or stick with Einstein inspired doubters.

    You see, “I don’t know” is a very good scientific emotion. It is the start of curiosity, of the desire to understand, of cognitive humility. But that is the key word: the start.

    Good science is: I don’t know, but I try to understand. I try hypotheses, theories, explanations. I test them. I choose what works better. I have no fear to try explanations. But I will not defend those explanations that are falsified by facts. And I am ready to accept any clue, even if it seems to lead to very extreme consequences.

    One position I really dislike is skepticism. I am really a fan of critical thinking, but not of skepticism. And one of the phrases I most dislike is: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. IMO, extraordinary claims require great attention, and exactly the same things that re required for any other claim: good reasoning, critical thinking, objectivity, balance, common sense, and a great love for truth.

    So, with your “don’t knows” you are simply ignoring that almost no one in the world would agree that we can simply say “we don’t know anything” about the problems I have cited. Indeed, we know a lot of things. Many of those problems are still controversial, but that is a completely different thing form “not knowing”. Controversy is a very good thing. It has always been. For science and for the human mind in general.

    So, let’s “teach the controversy”. Not the controversy between ID and neo darwinism, not in the schools. But that human thought is based on controversy, always has been, always will be. That its best fruits are the fruits of controversy. Let’s teach that, to ourselves and to others.

    You see, you often answer me that I cannot say something because many would not agree. We cannot say what consciousness is because that philosopher says one thing, and that other says another thing.

    But that’s exactly why I say things. It’s because they are controversial. It’s because I say what I believe to be true, and knowledgeable, and already well supported by facts and by reason, And still it is controversial.

    Yes, I could come here just to remind everybody that germs cause diseases. But how boring! :)

  110. Gpuccio @ 110
    Well stated, sir. Very eloquent indeed:)

  111. Hi gpuccio,

    I agree with everything you’ve said about science, both the importance and limits thereof.

    There is a technical equivocation here. What I am saying is that there is, however, a constant statistical connection between dFSCI and the output of a conscious agent (in the sense of 100% specificity with low sensitivity). A causal relationship is the simplest explanation for that.

    But of course it’s not relevant that a causal relation is the “simplest explanation”! Yet again, you actually must show it is causal, not just assume it. The 100% correlation between consciousness and spleens cannot be assumed to be causal either.

    But even if there is no direct causal relationship, a causal explanation must exist. IOWs, maybe it is not consciousness that causes dFSCI, but consciousness must then be causally connected to what causes dFSCI. IOWs, a simple random “co-occurrence” does not explain what we observe.

    Sorry, I don’t understand this. If consciousness is epiphenomenal, then it is not causally connected to anything at all. You said that epiphenomenalism is compatible with your position, but it simply isn’t. Now, I don’t happen to believe that epiphenomenalism is correct (or at least demonstrable), but it’s clear that we’ve no empirical grounds to say that consciousness must be causally connected to any particular mental ability.

    a) Conscious representations are conscious because we represent them subjectively. They are observed in our consciousness, they are not “inferred to exist by examining our behavior”. Behavior has nothing to do with that. When I think a grammatically correct sentence, I am representing it, and in my representation the whole dFSCI of the sentence is there. That has nothing to do with how it was generated. This is the very simple “connection” which I refer to. If I do not represent the sentence, with all its information, I cannot certainly output it to a sheet of paper. Therefore, conscious representation of the information always precedes the design act.

    Sorry but I still don’t think this is clear at all. When you say something is “observed in our consciousness”, I take that to mean that we are consciously aware of it. This is precisely what you denied you meant previously.

    In order to understand what you’re talking about, let me ask you a question about computers. I am not talking about the origin of the computer system; rather, I am speaking only of the operation of the computer system once it has been constructed. Imagine a computer system is sensing its various inputs, and at some point the system prints out the following to its display: “I have calculated that the efficiency of my power supply could be improved by reducing the capacitance of component E193 by 15mF.”

    Is this sentence represented? If so, at what point? And if so, is it possible that the representation is a conscious representation? For all three questions: Why, or why not, and how do you know?

    But my point is that mere algorithmic processes cannot generate new dFSCI, if some conscious representations of meaning and purpose do not contribute to the process.

    Why not? How do you know? How does a conscious representation contribute to an algorithmic process? How do you know?

    Again, it seems you have your own ideas regarding philosophy of mind, which is find, but like mine and everyone else’s, nobody can figure out a way to decide whose ideas are correct. There is no scientific understanding of how people think and design things, and therefore any theory that depends on one or another particular stance is built upon a non-scientific foundation.

    Unless one accepts some sort of extended ontology, as well as libertarian free will, the arguments for empirical evidence of ID fall apart. When I point this out, I get different responses. Sometimes people say that there is empirical evidence to support dualism/libertarianism, other times people say they don’t need evidence. But while IDers blithely base their arguments on specific solutions to the mind/body problem, the fact remains that those metaphysics have been debated for millenia without making any significant progress. Why? Because the matter cannot be settled by appeal to our shared experience.

    RDF: Most ID proponents insist that ID remains agnostic regarding any properties and attributes of the hypothetical Designer.
    GP: I am not among them.

    I’m happy to hear that! I must say it is a challenge to debate ID here, since each ID proponent I meet here has substantively differing ideas about the claims, assumptions, and explanatory scope of this theory. Can you say specifically what your version of ID holds regarding the nature (properties and attributes) of the Designer?

    But the machine would be completely powerless to generate the result without a person using it.

    This seems to be a very naive statement about computers, actually. In my example above, nobody is using the computer; the system is scanning its various inputs from internal and external sensors, and without human prompting it outputs a meaningful sentence. Before you suggest that this action was pre-programmed in the system, think again: First, autonomous computer systems take all sorts of actions that are not and cannot be anticipated by the programmers, and second, this argument retreats into talking about “Who designed the designer”, a question that ID folks rightly reject. We are not talking about how the computer system came to exist; we are looking at algorithmic devices that respond without human intervention to novel situations with novel CSI-rich responses. Simply attributing every action a computer takes to its programmer is no more reasonable than attributing every human action to their (hypothetical) designer.

    So, no algorithmic system can generate new dFSCI. But human consciousness certainly uses algorithmic computations in the brain and in the body, gives meaning and purpose to them, and generates new dFSCI.

    This may well be the crux of our entire disagreement. My position is that the limits of what sorts of reasoning algorithmic machines can do is not known – it is an open question, and anyone who takes some position on the matter is merely speculating (typically to be consistent with their cognitive biases, of course). (I noticed there is a related thread here regarding the failure of symbolic AI; if I asn’t involved in this discussion with you I would be commenting there.)

    Roger Penrose attempted to rigorously demonstrate that certain mental abilities could not in principle be accomplished algorithmically, but his work has been criticized on many fronts, and certainly remains at best controversial. (It’s also worth noting that Penrose’s idea of how thought proceeds is very different from yours – while you believe conscious representations drive design, Penrose thinks thought is deterministic but not algorithmic, and that specific types of physical events give rise to conscious experience).

    It is logically consistent because only the subjective concepts of meaning and purpose can “help” chance and law to go beyond their obvious limits.

    Another way of saying this is: “Nobody has idea how people manage to think, and therefore by the rules of logic I decreee that concepts like “meaning” and “purpose” are in fact effective causes in the physical world, and moreover I can say with certainty that “meaning” and “purpose” can be attributed to human beings, and perhaps other animals?, but not to any non-living being?

    I think I see how this is going to play out, really: You have strong beliefs regarding philosophy of mind, and you are unwilling to distinguish the warrant for those metaphysical beliefs from beliefs that are in fact empirically supported. Extended ontologies (e.g. some flavor of dualism) and libertarianism are certainly respectable positions, but by no means are they scientifically supported conclusions, any more than physicalism or determinism is.

    It is empirically supported, because no dFSCI has ever been observed as the result of a non conscious system.

    AI has not produced a system with anything like a general human-like intelligence. On the other hand, AI systems can certainly learn, solve problems, and generate complex plans. Of course you can come up with something that computers cannot (yet) do, such as design a complex mechanism given a high-level description, as a human engineer could do. But one cannot empirically support the claim that AI will never do X just because AI has not yet done X, any more than people before 1910 should have claimed that heavier-than-air flight has been empirically shown to be impossible.

    Unless and until we understand how humans think, we have no way of saying how much of human intellectual powers can be reproduced algorithmically and how much cannot.

    2) What is the role of the objective machine computations? Are they always necessary to generate dFSCI? That is more difficult to say.

    To the extent that ID cannot answer this question, it is faced with the problem I have pointed out. You argue that complex physical mechanism is not sufficient for thought, and I have replied that this is one of several positions in an ancient philosophical debate that has yet to be resolved scientifically. But even more in doubt is the suggestion that complex physical mechanism is not even necessary for storing, manipulating, and retrieving information.

    In the case of humans, I would say yes. I would probably say yes in general, because I believe (although I cannot be certain of that) that some computation process is always present where dFSCI emerges. But it must always be guided by a consciousness,

    Does that mean that a physical machinery involving pre-existing dFSCI must always be present to generate new dFSCI? I don’t think so.

    First of all, there is no need that the computing system be physical.
    Either we’re going to go where the evidence leads us or we are not, right? Nobody has any notion of how information could possibly be stored, manipulated, and retrieved without complex physical machinery. Information is invariably instantiated in physical state, and nobody could even begin to suggest how information might exist without some physical configuration that corresponds to a bit (or higher order representation). You can always say that someday we’ll understand how information could be processed without physical mechanism, but that’s just “promissory dualism”, and not something that scientific theories can assume currently.

    Indeed, we have no certainty that, even in humans, the computing system is completely physical.

    I agree, we have no certainty at all about that, because we don’t know how we think, and also because phenomenal conscious experience is completely mysterious. However, again, even if computing systems were only partly and not entirely physical, ID is left with a problem: If all designers require complex physical mechanism in order to design, then no designer could have been logically prior to the first complex physical mechanism.

    Complexity could exist also at levels which do not imply physical matter. Obviously, it should have a cause, but again the laws governing non physical realities are probably still unknown to us, and anyway consciousness could still be the origin of non physical complexity.

    Could be! Or maybe not! Who knows? Answer: Nobody!

    Second, I have been very clear that I think that non physical designer(s) are the best explanations for biological dFSCI. They may possess some non physical complexity or not. That remains an open question.

    That’s fine, but your preferred explanation (1) stands in contradiction to everything we know about processing information, and (2) depends on untestable assumptions about the mind/body problem. Again, there is nothing improper, irrational, unintelligent, or unreasonable about your views. They are, however, impossible to support scientifically.

    Finally, in most religious (and some non religious) philosophies, a simple cause is considered to be the origin of all complex things. So, it is not at all so obvious that complexity must always come from complexity.

    Yes, and if you’d like to discuss religious and philosophical beliefs, that would be a different discussion. At issue here is whether or not any of these views can be supported by empirical evidence, and the answer is no, and that is why these questions have not been resolved.

    The only obvious thing, for me, is that physical functional complexity must always come from conscious agents.

    It is obvious to you, perhaps, but none of this is obvious to me, and we have no way of determining if you are right or not.

    I must stop here for the moment. I would like to specify that I am perfectly aware that most of my final arguments are mainly philosophical, and not scientific. But it’s because I have tried to answer, as I can, your philosophical objections.

    My objection is simply that your views lack scientific evidence. You can call that objection “philosophical” if you’d like, but you can’t address my objection by further delineating your philosophical views!

    The fact remains that design is the best empirical explanation for biological information. You can make philosophical objections to that inference. I can answer them according to my worldview. But the inference remains valid.

    No, this isn’t correct. Your reasons for claiming empirical evidence are in fact your philosophical views! You have not provided one single example of a scientific test of your claims. You assume that thought transcends chance and necessity, but you never provide an emprical test of that metaphysical claim. You assume that consciousness is necessary to produce CSI, but you never provide an empirical test of that claim.

    There is no reason in the world why a correct scientific inference should not arise philosophical problems. Indeed, the opposite is often true. The Big Bag theory, again, is a very good example of that. Quantum theory another, even better, one.

    ID is not a scientific theory that gives rise to philosophical problems. Instead, it is a philosophical theory that is commonly mistaken for science.

    What we can do, in both cases, is to see how our theory (Big Bang, ID) explains the facts we know, and look, purposefully and with method, to new facts that we still don’t know to see if they fit our theory, or if other explanations will be better as soon as the new facts are acquired.

    Agreed.

    IOWs, the process of design violates not the physical laws, but the statistical laws: functional configurations appear without any reason, even if their probability in the system is neglectible.

    It is important to note that design is the only process known to violate those laws. In no other context functional information emerges violating the probabilistic laws.

    No, there are no laws telling you what the probability of living things are, so you can’t say that they violate probabilistic laws.

    Here’s an example I give to explain this mistake to people. Imagine you are a scientist in the early 18th century, and you have collected some data: In the town of Boston, the ratio of square footage of church steeples to the entire area of the city is 1:3 million. However, fully 72% of all lightning strikes recorded in the city were direct hits on church steeples. The odds of this happening by chance are miniscule, and there were no known laws of physics that could explain the result. Moreover, since the lightning bolts were observed to be aimed from the clouds, it was clear that they were being directed toward the church steeples, which is something only an intelligent agent would be able to do. The conclusion, then, would be that an intelligent agent resided in the thunderclouds, and for some reason it liked to hit church steeples with lightning.

    Fortunately, Ben Franklin didn’t believe in such ideas, and started the research that would eventually explain this phenomenon quite fully. But the relevant point here is this: Computing the probability of where lightning strikes without understanding how lightning works is impossible, and computing the probability of biological systems arising without understanding how biological systems arise is equally impossible. Neither of these events are random, obviously – the question is how are they constrained to work in the way they do? Just alluding to an unidentified intelligent agent is always a possible explanation – that’s why humans have used that explanation for everything they didn’t understand throughout history! – but it’s never a scientific explanation until you can provide some evidence that this hypothetical agent actually existed.

    For example: is it true that functional proteins are separated islands, maybe not small, but certainly extremely small if compared to their search space, and that therefore finding those islands by a random walk is practically impossible? For me, the answer is definitely yes, but still we can certainly understand protein space better by further research. For example, a strongly connected functional protein space would help to falsify the ID theory, or at least its application to the proteome, and make more credible the neo darwinian model.

    All of these suffers from the same mistake: Anything you can’t understand automatically gets attributed to an undefined intelligent agent. Let’s say the functional protein density is low – that tells you that the proteins weren’t found by a random walk, but it doesn’t tell you what it was found by. It is just like someone saying that a random distribution of lightning wouldn’t hit so many churches, because thety don’t have any clue about electricity or lightning, and claiming that supports the Intelligent Lightning Thrower Theory.

    Obviously, neo darwinism, or any other non design theory, hopes for simpler explanations of the regulation procedures. I am sure that they will be shown wrong.

    You are right about neo-Darwinism, but you blithely refer to “any other non-design theory” as though you have some notion of every possible theory that anyone might come up with. You don’t, any more than the folks in 1750 could have predicted a physical theory that explains how lightning bolts are aimed from the clouds at church steeples.

    Again: Please read the history of the Big Bang theory, and you will see the stark contrast here. BB Theory makes very specific quantified predictions about what would be expected if BB theory was true, and those many specific predictions were in fact observed. As I’ve already explained, ID makes no such predictions.

    Another line of research regards the fundamental question: can dFSCI emerge in a non conscious system, even out of the biological world?

    See above regarding the abilities and (unknown) limits of machine reasoning.

    And believe me, the intervention of a conscious agent does explain design.

    Yes of course – a “conscious agent” is something that is, without further definition, assumed to be able to anything at all. So there is nothing that is not explainable by appeal to such a thing! But of course something that explains everything in the end explains nothing at all.

    Well, a conscious agent who understand, like us, the meaning of what he perceives, and who can, like us, have purposes and do things with the intention of a specific result, is not, IMO, “some unknown sort of thing”.

    Again, the problem is that ID provides no principled way that distinguishes which human-like attributes are supposed to be present in the ID hypothesis and which are not. Do all conscious agents have brains? Can they all talk? Appreciate music? Have emotions? Do they have libertarian free will? Can they do mathematics? Understand moral reasoning? Can you say one specific thing that all conscious agents can do – aside from producing exactly the sorts of complex machinery we are trying to explain in biology?

    And who ever said that the designer of biological information “can do anything”? That’s not what is required of him by the theory of Intelligent Design. Maybe you are equivocating with the theory of Intelligent Omnipotence! :)

    You’ve made a simple and very important mistake here.

    I have pointed out that in ID theory, an “intelligent agent” is something that can do anything. Your response is that ID theory does not claim that its Designer can do anything – rather, you just claim that anything you find in biology that requires an explanation is within the ability of the Designer! Don’t you see? No matter what we ever observe, you will never have a principled reason to say “Oh, no! That couldn’t possibly have been created by a conscious agent!”. You have provided not one single limit to a conscious agent’s abilities, and so yes indeed, that term is fully synonymous with an omnipotent entity in ID theory.

    If we found a new complex body plan that arose instantaneously – a rabbit giving birth to a parrot – that would clearly falsify any sort of evolutionary theory. But it would never falsify ID, because ID provides no reason to believe that a conscious agent could not cause that to happen. Then you look at the fossil record and see that hundreds of millions of years pass between major changes, and that their “sudden” appearance is actually only sudden on a geological time scale! But that’s no problem for ID, because conscious agents could act instantaneously or they could act over billions of years.

    ID explains everything the same way – intelligent causation – but in the end explains nothing for that very reason.

    Moreover, if one thing is obvious from the facts we can observe, it is that the biological designer act under definite restraints. He cannot do anything he likes. He act according to rules, and has definite limits. That is one of the things that can well be empirically researched.

    I think this is terribly confused – you’ve actually reversed the entire scientific process. What you’re doing is looking at the evidence and deciding what happened and what didn’t, and then you turn around and say your designer had the ability to do the things that happend, but didn’t have the ability to do the things that didn’t happen! I hope you see the problem here. What you actually have to do is to come up with some characterization of your designer that tells us what its abilities and limits are beforehand in a principled fashion, and then go and see how well your characterization matches our observations!

    But you can’t do this, because you have no theory of conscious agency. There is no set of characteristics that you can describe that can tell us what conscious agents are capable of and what they are not capable of. We know those sorts of things about human beings, but not about “conscious agents” in general. That is why “conscious agency” cannot be used to explain anything at all.

    I have to take a break now – I’ll respond to your last post when I can.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  112. Hi gpuccio,

    biological objects look designed. Indeed, even darwinists like Dawkins admit that.

    Agreed, where “designed” means “something human beings build”.

    In the past centuries, that was not only the opinion of the common people, but also the opinion of scientists. In no way that has been an obstacle to the development of biological sciences, as far as I can say.

    I’m not arguing about what presents an obstacle or boon to biological science; people can proceed in science with any philosophy they choose, and they always have.

    Now, I have been discussing neo darwinism for many years here, and an important point I have increasingly realized is its connection with another modern scientific theory, which I will call here “strong AI theory”. Some have objected to my use of the term, so I will make clear from the start what I mean by that:

    Strong AI theory: the theory that conscious experiences (subjective states), including the understanding of meaning (Intelligence) emerge as the result of particular configurations of matter. IOWs, consciousness is an emergent property of some specific complexity of the software.

    I think the connection between strong AI and ID is quite obvious and has been commented on frequently. As I’ve explained, nobody has any way to decide if strong AI is true or not; nobody knows what might be necessary or sufficient conditions for conscious awareness to arise.

    Always for the sake of clarity, I give here an explicit definition of what I mean by neo darwinism:

    Neo darwinism: The theory that all the information present in biological beings is the result of RV + NS in beings capable of reproduction.

    I have no interest in discussion the claims of Neo Darwinism, as neither of us adhere to it.

    We could call it materialistic reductionism (materialistic, because matter is the origin of all, and reductionism because everything can be reduced to matter and to its known laws, if only physicists will complete their part as soon as is desirable :) ).

    I’m not a reductionist nor a materialist, so this part doesn’t interest me either.

    There is indeed a third important aspect of the paradigm: a particular philosophy of science. Indeed. to protect the paradigm from some important objections, it is extremely important that science:

    a) Be considered the only real source of knowledge

    b) Be strictly redefined so that only certain reasoning may be admitted. In particular, only those reasonings where everything is explained, or will certainly be explained in the future, by the laws of nature as we presently know and understand them must be allowed to be considered “scientific”.

    I don’t believe either of these statements regarding science, so this has nothing to do with any of my arguments either.

    The simple problem with the paradigm is that it is based on three very strong intellectual lies:

    1) Neo darwinism is not a good theory for the empirical fact of biological information. It is logically inconsistent, and has no empirical support.

    Yes, I’d say evolutionary theory is logically consistent and has a huge amount of empirical support, but none of it suggests that any known evolutionary mechanisms are actually responsible for complex biological form and function.

    2) Strong AI theory is not a good theory for consciousness and intelligence. It has no logical justification, and empirically it is a total failure.

    “Strong AI” is not theory, really – it’s just the hypothesis that a computer can be conscious and have general human-like intelligence. I believe this hypothesis cannot be evaluated against empirical evidence, and so it remains in philosophical debate.

    3) Methodological naturalism is the opposite of good science. It is a way of pre-defining what we can know according to what we presently know. And scientism is only a very extreme and narrow theory of knowledge: giving science an unwarranted supremacy in cognition, it really deprives it of its best features, of its desire to understand, of its humility.

    I do not adhere to methodological naturalism, because I don’t believe “naturalism” is well-defined. I do not adhere to scientism either. I do believe that scientifically vetted results ought to be held to be more trustworthy than non-scientific results.

    So, let’s look at ID theory as a paradigm. Indeed, it is a paradigm. It is not a narrow theory. In a sense, its purpose is not to explain particular things, but to give the right approach to explaining them.

    As I’ve said, I’m not arguing about whether or not certain philosophical beliefs lead people to more or less productive research avenues. People with all sorts of worldviews manage to do science.

    2) It [The ID paradigm] is strongly supported by known facts.

    I’m not talking about paradigms here, but as I’ve explained, no known facts actually demonstrate the (probable) truth of any specific ID claim, nor any of the supporting claims you make regarding philosophy of mind. No significiant scientific inroads have been yet on the mind/body problem, understanding qualia, language understanding, or the nature of conscious awareness. If ID was really a scientific endeavor, these are the areas in which it would conduct research. There are people who perform research with possible implications for the mind/body problem, free will, and other things (look up “experimental philosophy”); however, as far as I know, nobody who identifies with ID research has participated in any of it!

    Again, ID critically relies on particular metaphysical positions regarding mind, but ID authors fail to even mount an effort to provide empirical evidence that any of their positions are true. Where are the ID authors doing the work to determine if NDEs truly support the notion of conscious awareness independent of the body? Where are the ID authors seeking to investigate whether or not our voluntary actions free of antecendent physical cause? These are the assumptions one must accept in order to believe in ID, and the topics come up regularly in this forum, but there are no ID researchers who care to even try and answer these questions scientifically. Perhaps they are afraid that if there really are critical experiments that would answer these ancient questions once and for all, they might not get the answers that support ID?

    Up to now, each new day has given us new interesting biological facts that completely support the ID theory.

    No, there is absolutely no evidence that provides a shred of positive evidence for ID theory. All we have is evidence that current theories are inadequate to explain our observations, and you and I already agree on that. Not only has ID never provided a shred of evidence regarding the existence of any sort of intelligent agent that might have been responsible for first life, but ID doesn’t even try to demonstrate that non-living intelligence (or intelligence that is not embodied in a complex physical mechanism) is even theoretically possible.

    Now, in the light of all this, I would say that you position of “we really don’t know” has very little sense. You stick often to statements that we “don’t know” things. In particular, we don’t know what consciousness is,…

    Yes I am of the very strong opinion that certain questions regarding the nature of the mind and the origin of the universe and first life remain unanswered to date. I’ve explained here that we do each know what conscious awareness is (again, it is that which we lose when we fall into a dreamless sleep).

    … we don’t know if it has a casual role or if it is only an epiphenomenon, we don’t know how conscious agents produce complex things (but they do), we don’t know how biological information was generated, how life began, and so on.

    Yes, that is correct.

    OK, we don’r know. I can agree. Indeed, we really don’t know anything, because our human knowledge is not absolute.

    You keep falling back on this, but I consider it a dodge. I am not being neither hyper-skeptical nor credulous here: I neither deny the possibility of knowledge nor pretend that any knowledge can be absolute. Yet some conclusions have been demonstrated to be true with sufficient evidence that it is unreasonable to doubt them.

    On the contrary, you have great certainty of other things (that germs are the cause of diseases, even of the Big Bang). I don’t know if you would accept quantum theory as science, or stick with Einstein inspired doubters.

    Certainly germ theory, Big Bang theory, and most certainly quantum theory are very well empirically tested. You need be careful when speaking of the truth of quantum physics, though. On one hand it is the most well-tested theory ever developed, is found to be correct 100% of the time, with an unbelievable level of precison (up to 13 significant digits). On the other hand, nobody knows how the QM mathematical formalisms should be interpreted with regard to ontological descriptions, and any particular view about this is merely speculation.

    Good science is: I don’t know, but I try to understand. I try hypotheses, theories, explanations. I test them.

    Yes, good so far…

    I choose what works better. I have no fear to try explanations.

    No, not exactly. If you find five explanations for some phenomenon, but you can’t actually test and confirm any of them, then you have no “best” theory, even if you like one of them better. You simply have no succesful theory yet. Before Special Relativity, nobody could figure out how the Sun could possibly put out so much energy for so long – everything we knew about physical chemistry suggested that it should have burned out in short order. And before Quantum Theory nobody understood why black body radiation didn’t emit an infinite amount of energy in the UV spectrum. The answers simply were not yet known, and the correct answer to those questions was acknowledged to be “We do not know”.

    Scientists managed to solve those mysteries, but we haven’t solved all of them. There are still questions without empircally supported answers, and the ones we discuss here are among them.

    So, with your “don’t knows” you are simply ignoring that almost no one in the world would agree that we can simply say “we don’t know anything” about the problems I have cited.

    Oh I doubt that, obviously, but even it were true I would still be certain my position was the correct one. Of course we can say we don’t know when the fact of the matter is that we cannot justify any of our beliefs on the matter!

    Indeed, we know a lot of things.

    Yes! We do know a lot of things, but not everything.

    So, let’s “teach the controversy”. Not the controversy between ID and neo darwinism, not in the schools. But that human thought is based on controversy, always has been, always will be. That its best fruits are the fruits of controversy. Let’s teach that, to ourselves and to others.

    By all means! Just don’t teach that there is scientific evidence that ID Theory is a well-defined explanation of first life that has empirical support, because that is not true. (And yes of course, refrain from teaching that evolutionary theory has successfully explained the origin of biological complexity). Rather, teach that there remain deep and wonderful mysteries, and that we need the smartest and most curious people to continue investigating all of the questions that fascinate us!

    You see, you often answer me that I cannot say something because many would not agree. We cannot say what consciousness is because that philosopher says one thing, and that other says another thing.

    But that’s exactly why I say things. It’s because they are controversial. It’s because I say what I believe to be true, and knowledgeable, and already well supported by facts and by reason, And still it is controversial.

    Yes, I could come here just to remind everybody that germs cause diseases. But how boring! :)

    Or you could tell everyone that reading tea leaves can predict the future, and I would say that isn’t boring, but it is neither a scientifically vetted result. ID theory is not supported by observable facts and reason. Instead, all that is supported by facts and reason is the inadequacy of evolutionary theory. ID theory takes that and makes an entirely unscientific leap of faith, off into philosophical speculation, and pretends that it’s all still science. It’s just not.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  113. 114

    ID theory is not supported by observable facts and reason.

    RD’s infamous final stand; dismiss the evidence instead of dealing with it.

  114. Opt, re GP: I second the very well said motion, all in favour say aye. Gavel — bam! — the ayes obviously have it. KF

  115. RDFish:

    I will answer here your post #112.

    Your whole post is essentially a re-enacting of the “we don’t know” position. I have already dealt with that position, and explained why it is scientifically untenable, at least in the way you use it, which is simply to deny what you don’t like. Do, I will not repeat what I have already said (I hate boring discussions).

    But I will clarify a few points where I disagree with you for more specific reasons.

    But of course it’s not relevant that a causal relation is the “simplest explanation”! Yet again, you actually must show it is causal, not just assume it. The 100% correlation between consciousness and spleens cannot be assumed to be causal either.

    What I meant is a very simple methodological principle. If you observe a very significant statistical association, a causal relationship is the simplest explanation, provided that it seems reasonable. Of course, if there are other reasonable explanations, we have to make a choice. But if no other reasonable explanations are available (available!), it is our scientific duty to go on with the hypothesis of a causal connection. The direction of the causal connection is often (like in our case) shown by simple chronological considerations (the preceding event is the cause).

    You seem not to understand this very simple scientific methodology. The observed association must be explained by a hypothesis, and the hypothesis is a causal relationship, because causal relationships are the stuff of which scientific theories are made. We have to be careful of the so called “confounding factors”: other causes that are associated to both observed events. But to be careful only means: to try to detect them, not just to say “there could be an unknown confounding factor, therefore I will mot make any explanatory hypothesis”.

    Please, not that the causal relationship that we hypothesize must not be “independently supported” by any other evidence. It is already supported by our evidence, and that’s why we assume it. You seem not to understand a very simple thing: the assumptions we make to explain evidence must not be supported by other evidence: they must simply be a reasonable explanation, the best available. Of course, new evidence in the future must be in accord with the explanation.

    I believe you are completely wrong about these epistemological points, but I have already explained many tomes why, and I will not repeat my arguments forever.

    Sorry, I don’t understand this. If consciousness is epiphenomenal, then it is not causally connected to anything at all. You said that epiphenomenalism is compatible with your position, but it simply isn’t. Now, I don’t happen to believe that epiphenomenalism is correct (or at least demonstrable), but it’s clear that we’ve no empirical grounds to say that consciousness must be causally connected to any particular mental ability.

    My statement was: “But even if there is no direct causal relationship, a causal explanation must exist.” I simply mean that even if the observed event associated to the observed output is not the cause of the output, a casual explanation is the association must exist. The most credible explanation, in that case, is that there is a confounding factor, an event which is the cause of both observed events, and therefore explains the observed association. But that explanation must be substantiated: the confounding factor must be identified, and the hypothesis that it is the cause of both observed events must be more reasonable and credible than the hypothesis that the first observed event is the cause of the second observed event.

    Again, this is basic scientific methodology.

    Sorry but I still don’t think this is clear at all. When you say something is “observed in our consciousness”, I take that to mean that we are consciously aware of it. This is precisely what you denied you meant previously.

    My statement was:

    “Conscious representations are conscious because we represent them subjectively. They are observed in our consciousness, they are not “inferred to exist by examining our behavior”.”

    If I had anticipated your equivocation, I would have said:

    “Conscious representations are conscious because we represent them subjectively. They are subjectively represented states in our consciousness, they are not “inferred to exist by examining our behavior”.

    Is it more clear now?

    In order to understand what you’re talking about, let me ask you a question about computers. I am not talking about the origin of the computer system; rather, I am speaking only of the operation of the computer system once it has been constructed. Imagine a computer system is sensing its various inputs, and at some point the system prints out the following to its display: “I have calculated that the efficiency of my power supply could be improved by reducing the capacitance of component E193 by 15mF.”

    Is this sentence represented? If so, at what point? And if so, is it possible that the representation is a conscious representation? For all three questions: Why, or why not, and how do you know?

    First of all, that would never happen unless the computation and the output is a result of a specific algorithm. That means that the output phrase too is not dFSCI, because its building blocks are already embedded in the system.

    However, the answers are easy:

    1) The sentence is never represented, because the computer is not conscious. It is made of parts that were not conscious, those parts are assembled to make simple bit computations whose final result is a complex computation. It is essentially not different from a simple abacus. So, logic tells us that it is not conscious, it has no subjective states. Does empirical evidence tell us differently? No. The computer cannot even do what humans can do: generate original dFSCI, like original complex language.

    2) At no point. For the same reasons.

    3) No. For the same reasons.

    Unless one accepts some sort of extended ontology, as well as libertarian free will, the arguments for empirical evidence of ID fall apart. When I point this out, I get different responses. Sometimes people say that there is empirical evidence to support dualism/libertarianism, other times people say they don’t need evidence. But while IDers blithely base their arguments on specific solutions to the mind/body problem, the fact remains that those metaphysics have been debated for millenia without making any significant progress. Why? Because the matter cannot be settled by appeal to our shared experience.

    Here I will point to your main error, again, and I hope for the last time. You say:

    “Unless one accepts some sort of extended ontology, as well as libertarian free will, the arguments for empirical evidence of ID fall apart.”

    But that is completely false. The point is exactly the opposite. We could say:

    “The arguments for empirical evidence of ID point to a best explanation that is, in some way, more in accord with some sort of extended ontology, as well as with libertarian free will”.

    There is no problem with that. As I have repeatedly said, the results of scientific inquiry do have consequences for philosophical reasoning. Do you think that the Big Bang theory, or quantum mechanics, had no consequences for philosophical reasoning? But I believe that philosophical reasoning is flexible enough: different philosophies will try to explain reality, whatever the results of scientific inquiry.

    But to state that a perfectly valid empirical result should be discarded because it favors some philosophical view is terrible epistemology.

    So, IDers do not “blithely base their arguments on specific solutions to the mind/body problem”. They base their arguments on the same empirical reasoning, and each of them decides for himself what implications those empirical results may have on their philosophy. Which is exactly how things should be.

    That’s fine, but your preferred explanation (1) stands in contradiction to everything we know about processing information, and (2) depends on untestable assumptions about the mind/body problem. Again, there is nothing improper, irrational, unintelligent, or unreasonable about your views. They are, however, impossible to support scientifically.

    My answer:

    1) So, you are saying we know that there are no processing information events in our minds that are not non physical? But we don’t know! :)

    2) No, my explanation favors “untestable assumptions about the mind/body problem”, but in no way “depends on them”. I must remind you that the design inference for biological information is perfectly compatible with alien designers, with a body and a brain. The reason why I prefer non physical designers to that scenario are in part scientific, in part philosophical. But the design inference remains valid, whatever kind of designer we choose to hypothesize.

    3) Therefore, my scientific views are perfectly scientific, and scientifically supported, while my philosophical views, like anyone other’s need not be.

    Yes, and if you’d like to discuss religious and philosophical beliefs, that would be a different discussion. At issue here is whether or not any of these views can be supported by empirical evidence, and the answer is no, and that is why these questions have not been resolved.

    No. At issue here is whether the design inference is supported by empirical evidence, not if the philosophical views that it favors are supported by other, independent, empirical evidence (although they are).

    Yes of course – a “conscious agent” is something that is, without further definition, assumed to be able to anything at all.

    No. The design inference requires only two things from the designer. He must be able to:

    a) Generate complex information

    b) Implement it in the observed object

    This is “further definition”, I suppose.

    No, there are no laws telling you what the probability of living things are, so you can’t say that they violate probabilistic laws.

    I have never debated the “probability of living things”. I have always debated the probability of specific existing objects, in particular of basic protein domains. That probability can be very well computed, in realistic biochemical systems whose laws we understand rather well, just like we understand that germs cause diseases. I would say much better.

    I will not deal in detail with your “example” of church steeples. I find it trivial, and completely non pertinent.

    The reason is very simple. ID is not about some generic observation, for which some explanation, not yet known, could be found tomorrow in the form of a necessity law. ID is about functional information, dFSCI, specific digital configurations that represent the sequence of a functional protein. It is a much more specific context, and it requires a specific analysis, which includes all that we know about necessity laws, probabilistic laws, physical systems and information. Church steeples and lightening have nothing to do with that.

    If you have objections to the IF inference, I would suggest they should be specific objections. Again, ID is not a philosophical argument for the existence of an omnipotent God, as you seem to believe. It is a design inference for specific, observed material objects.

    Let’s say the functional protein density is low – that tells you that the proteins weren’t found by a random walk, but it doesn’t tell you what it was found by. It is just like someone saying that a random distribution of lightning wouldn’t hit so many churches, because thety don’t have any clue about electricity or lightning, and claiming that supports the Intelligent Lightning Thrower Theory.

    No. Functional configurations of digital “switches” are completely different from lightening. Again, you banalize, and refuse to deal with the true arguments of ID. Your arguments are generally good, but this one is very bad. IMO.

    I have pointed out that in ID theory, an “intelligent agent” is something that can do anything. Your response is that ID theory does not claim that its Designer can do anything – rather, you just claim that anything you find in biology that requires an explanation is within the ability of the Designer! Don’t you see? No matter what we ever observe, you will never have a principled reason to say “Oh, no! That couldn’t possibly have been created by a conscious agent!”. You have provided not one single limit to a conscious agent’s abilities, and so yes indeed, that term is fully synonymous with an omnipotent entity in ID theory.

    No. Misrepresentation, again.

    ID theory does not claim that its Designer can do anything. But it does claim that he is a designer, IOWs that he is able to generate dFSCI. That is a very specific claim, and the only one implied by the theory.

    At the same time, once the design inference is done, we can, and must, look at our evidence to have possible indications about the designer, his purposes, his modalities of design implementation. That is what I have always said here.

    And my simple point is that the evidence available shows that the designer of biological information acts with specific restraints. Again, that has nothing to do with the design inference. The important point is that ID theory does not, in any way, assume a designer who can do anything.

    Again, the problem is that ID provides no principled way that distinguishes which human-like attributes are supposed to be present in the ID hypothesis and which are not.

    Yes, it does. The designer must be a designer, therefore he must be able to design. IOWs, he must be able to represent in his consciousness the functional information and output it to the object. Nothing else is necessary.

    If we found a new complex body plan that arose instantaneously – a rabbit giving birth to a parrot – that would clearly falsify any sort of evolutionary theory. But it would never falsify ID, because ID provides no reason to believe that a conscious agent could not cause that to happen.

    Correct. And ID would be falsified by a new complex body plan arising in a system without any intervention of a conscious designer, whatever the time. Each theory has its own potential falsifications.

    But that’s no problem for ID, because conscious agents could act instantaneously or they could act over billions of years.

    OK, and so? I have repeatedly shown what the “problems for ID” could be: dFSCI arising in a complex system, or very simply a true empirical support for neo darwinism, or for any other available and explicit non design theory. For example, if functional, selectable intermediates to basic protein domains did exist (there is not one of them known). that would be a big problem for ID. Again, each theory has its specific falsifications.

    I think this is terribly confused – you’ve actually reversed the entire scientific process. What you’re doing is looking at the evidence and deciding what happened and what didn’t, and then you turn around and say your designer had the ability to do the things that happend, but didn’t have the ability to do the things that didn’t happen! I hope you see the problem here. What you actually have to do is to come up with some characterization of your designer that tells us what its abilities and limits are beforehand in a principled fashion, and then go and see how well your characterization matches our observations!

    Absolutely not, as I have tried to detail. I am looking to the evidence to derive the method of design inference, and I verify that dFSCI is in biological objects, and infer design for them. All the rest is answering your philosophical objections to the results of that simple scientific process.

    But you can’t do this, because you have no theory of conscious agency.

    I need not it. I have a simple definition of design, and I use it empirically. I can do that. And I definitely do that.

    There is no set of characteristics that you can describe that can tell us what conscious agents are capable of and what they are not capable of.

    Again? I have given a very specific set of characteristics for a designing conscious agent. Being able to represent the functional information and being able to output it to an object.

    We know those sorts of things about human beings, but not about “conscious agents” in general. That is why “conscious agency” cannot be used to explain anything at all.

    I don’t understand what you mean. We know that human beings are conscious agents capable of design, and I have indicated what are the features of a conscious agent which are certainly implied in the design process. So, I hypothesize a conscious agent who is able to do those same things to explain biological objects with dFSCI. What is not clear in that?

    There can be, and I believe there are, conscious agents who are not able to generate dFSCI. Therefore, I am not using “conscious agency” to explain design. I am using “a conscious agent who is able to represent functional information and output it”, like humans.

    I will answer you post #113 later.

  116. Optimus, KF:

    Thank you! :)

  117. RDFish:

    Ah, I forgot to comment on Penrose.

    I know that Penrose’s critic of purely algorithmic thought (and therefore of strong AI theory) is very controversial. However, he has answered the objections to it. I happen to agree with him completely about his Godel derived argument. If you want, we could briefly discuss that sometime.

    I am also well aware that Penrose’s theory of how thought works is different from mine. Indeed, while I agree with him in his critical arguments about algorithmic thought, I am less interested in his “positive” argument, although I find interesting that he, like many others, implies quantum mechanics in it.

    But his Godel derived argument is, IMO, impeccable. And tells us very much about the nature of consciousness, and its role in cognition.

  118. RDFish:

    The answer to your post @113 will be easier and shorter than I anticipated. Why? Because we seem to agree on most things, and the things about which we don’t agree have already been clarified enough.

    But I would like to answer this:

    Again, ID critically relies on particular metaphysical positions regarding mind, but ID authors fail to even mount an effort to provide empirical evidence that any of their positions are true. Where are the ID authors doing the work to determine if NDEs truly support the notion of conscious awareness independent of the body? Where are the ID authors seeking to investigate whether or not our voluntary actions free of antecendent physical cause? These are the assumptions one must accept in order to believe in ID, and the topics come up regularly in this forum, but there are no ID researchers who care to even try and answer these questions scientifically. Perhaps they are afraid that if there really are critical experiments that would answer these ancient questions once and for all, they might not get the answers that support ID?

    Well, ID researchers are just a few. Many of them, probably the most important ones, like Behe, Axe, Durston, are working in the field of biochemistry and biology, to show that ID’s statements about protein space are credible, and to clarify that neo darwinism cannot explain biological information (a problem that you take for granted, but that, believe me, is very important, given the very small fact that most of academics, and a lot of common people, seem to believe the opposite).

    On the other hand, Dembski, Marks and others have been very active in the information field, and, especially in the last years, in analyzing and debunking all the so called evolutionary algorithms that are supposed to show how dFSCI can arise algorithmically.

    Those are important endeavors, so your critic is unwarranted.

    Philosophy of mind is the field of philosophers. They can work at it, and they could profit very much from considering seriously the results of ID theory.

    Again, the purpose of ID theory is to support the design inference, not to defend the philosophies of the mind that seem to be favored by its results. On this point, I am very happy to differ from your views.

    I agree with you that much more should be done, but IMO the most important research should be in the biological field. Unfortunately, most resources are dedicated to research inspired by, and interpreted according to, neo darwinism. That is not a tragedy, because facts are facts, and luckily the facts discovered by darwinists regularly support ID. However, here is where adopting a correct paradigm can help. Until the obvious explanations, compatible with ID but not with neo darwinism, will be kept out of the scientific field by force, many difficulties are bound to remain.

    So, to sum it up: you have no argument to object to ID, no specific reasoning against it. Indeed, you agree with one of the most important results of ID: neo darwinism cannot explain biological information.

    On the contrary, your only argument “against ID” is that the assumption of a designer is not supported by any independent evidence (something we have not even discussed), and that is enough for you to reject the theory, at least as a scientific theory.

    Well, if you are happy that way, it’s fine. You have not convinced me, and I believe you have not convinced many others. But that is no real problem.

    I think we have really done our best to explain ourselves, and that is very good. Again, I thank you for your contributions.

    I am not trying to close the discussion. I am available to go on for as long as necessary. But please: we are, I believe, intelligent and sincere persons. Let’s try not to repeat what we have already clearly said. But, if there are new interesting aspects, let’s discuss them with passion.

  119. Hi gpuccio,

    Your whole post is essentially a re-enacting of the “we don’t know” position. I have already dealt with that position, and explained why it is scientifically untenable, at least in the way you use it, which is simply to deny what you don’t like.

    On the contrary, my position is that you refuse to admit that we do not understand some things about our world. You are adamant that we should never admit our ignorance, but instead take whatever idea we prefer and claim scientific support for it.

    In this way, you display the same fideism to ID that you deplore in Darwinists. Neither you nor Richard Dawkins is sufficiently objective to admit that your theory lacks the evidence that theories require in order to be considered well-supported scientific results.

    Dawkins insists that because RM&NS is capable of effecting adaptations then it must be capable of inventing complex form and function, but of course he has no evidence that such is the case. Moreoever, since RM&NS is a well-understood mechanism, it is possible to evaluate it against the evidence, and show that it is incapable of producing what we observe in biological systems.

    You insist that because human beings are conscious and can design complex machinery, then something with a human-like mind must be responsible for inventing biological systems, but of course you have no evidence that such is the case. Moreover, since an undefined “conscious agency” is not a well-understood entity, it is not possible to event evaluate the evidence to see if it matches ID’s claims or not.

    That is why I reject both Darwinism and ID. The Darwinists will cry that I’ve rejected their well-supported theory, and you cry that I’ve rejected yours, and you’ll continue to battle in vain because neither of you are willing to take the evidence for what it is and be humble enough to know when we simply don’t understand something. Your idea that we simply must choose one of these two very bad theories is nonsense.

    First of all, that would never happen unless the computation and the output is a result of a specific algorithm. That means that the output phrase too is not dFSCI, because its building blocks are already embedded in the system.

    You don’t seem to understand the fundamentals of AI either. Many computer systems do not have “specific algorithms” that the programmer designs; instead, the system uses learning techniques and sub-symbolic processing of various forms that shape the behavior of the system in unpredictable ways as it interacts with its environment. For you to say that the sentence generated by such a system is not CSI, but the same sentence uttered by a human being does have CSI, is very confused indeed. And you failed to respond to my point: If everything a computer does is attributable to its designer, why isn’t everything that a human being does attribute to its designer?

    The sentence is never represented, because the computer is not conscious.

    And when computer scientists design and implement their information representations, and when the computer system assembles representations of the sentences it is going to display, those representations… do not exist, because the computer is not conscious? This is terribly confused, really it is. Computer representations exist, as any computer scientist will gladly explain to you.

    The computer cannot even do what humans can do: generate original dFSCI, like original complex language.

    Computer systems routinely generate meaningful, contextually appropriate, grammatical sentences in natural language (like English) that have never before been seen or conceived of by any human. This is a fact. You simply deny it, and pretend that computers are incapable of such things, because it conflicts with your particular (and rather odd) philosophy of mind.

    As I have repeatedly said, the results of scientific inquiry do have consequences for philosophical reasoning.

    I am not talking about the consequences of the theory! Rather, I am talking about the assumptions that the theory makes! The problem isn’t that the theory indicates some particular metaphysics! Rather, the problem is that you must believe in particular metaphysics or else the theory doesn’t make sense!

    Big Bang Theory rests on physical principles that we can observe to be true. It doesn’t assume any unknown forces, properties of matter or energy, or any unknown immaterial causes in order to coherently express what BB Theory claims happened at the beginning of the universe. BB Theory proceeds to make highly specific predictions that have subsequently been confirmed. That is why BB Theory is a valid scientific result.

    ID Theory rests on metaphysical commitments that cannot be evaluated scientifically. In order to believe in ID, you must accept that conscious agency is capable of doing things that no combination of chance and fixed law is capable of doing. In other words, you must believe that mind transcends physical causation. That is the starting point of ID – if you don’t believe that at the outset, you will not believe ID theory, period. But of course nobody can show that this assumption is in fact the case! It is a faith-based assumption that you have made, because once you believe that, you can go on to build a theory that you like. Beyond that, ID Theory makes no specific predictions that can subsequently be confirmed or falsified, because the idea of “conscious agency” is inherently capable of explaining any observation that could ever take place. That is why ID is not a valid scientific theory.

    1) So, you are saying we know that there are no processing information events in our minds that are not non physical? But we don’t know! :)

    Hahaha! Exactly! You think this discounts my point, but you’ve actually undercut your own position. Of course we do not know if anything in our minds transcend physical causality – that is what I have been trying to explain to you! The problem is that you blithely ignore this inconvenient fact and pretend that this is a known fact, or that it doesn’t matter if we take these things on faith. It does matter: You can’t build a scientific theory on the quicksand of unsubstantiated assumptions!

    I must remind you that the design inference for biological information is perfectly compatible with alien designers, with a body and a brain.

    Finally! I was waiting for this one.

    The fact is, ID blatantly equivocates: On one hand, ID could be the hypothesis that life on Earth was designed by life elsewhere. This hypothesis is consistent with our understanding of intelligent agency, and living things, and does not require metaphysical speculation regarding the existence of disembodied minds in order to accept it. However, this is a terrible theory for several reasons, among which is the simple fact that once we posit extra-terrestrial life forms, it is much simpler to assume that we are the descendents of these beings, rather than the products of their bio-engineering efforts.

    On the other hand, ID could be the hypothesis that life on Earth was designed by something that did not have a complex physical body at all. This hypothesis flies in the face of everything we know about intelligent agency, however, and would require actual evidence that such a thing – which has never been observed – could actually exist.

    So neither of these hypotheses constitute successful empircal theories of origins, and combining them under the umbrella of ID does nothing to make either of them any better.

    However, I would really like your response to this (most ID folks choose to ignore this one, for obvious reasons): Why would you accept the theory that alien life forms designed life on Earth, but not that life on Earth was simply descendent from those life forms?

    The reason why I prefer non physical designers to that scenario are in part scientific, in part philosophical. But the design inference remains valid, whatever kind of designer we choose to hypothesize.

    As I’ve just explained, neither hypothesis is justifiable on empirical grounds. As far as we know there is no such thing as a non-physical designer, and so you would actually have to provide evidence that such a thing could exist before this hypothesis was even in the running.

    RDF: Yes of course – a “conscious agent” is something that is, without further definition, assumed to be able to anything at all.
    GP: No. The design inference requires only two things from the designer. He must be able to:
    a) Generate complex information
    b) Implement it in the observed object

    You’ve dodged the question yet again. Once more: Name one single thing that a “conscious agent” is incapable of doing.

    I can name inummerable things that evolutionary processes are incapable of doing. I can name things that gravity cannot do, that electrons cannot do, that germs cannot do; for any valid scientific explanation (this excludes Darwinism) you can name, you will see that the explanatory constructs are defined in a way such that they can cause some things and not others. In contrast, you cannot say one single thing that a “conscious agent” is incapable of doing! This is yet another reason why ID is a non-starter as a scientific theory.

    ID is not about some generic observation, for which some explanation, not yet known, could be found tomorrow in the form of a necessity law. ID is about functional information, dFSCI, specific digital configurations that represent the sequence of a functional protein. It is a much more specific context, and it requires a specific analysis, which includes all that we know about necessity laws, probabilistic laws, physical systems and information. Church steeples and lightening have nothing to do with that.

    In other words, you are simply declaring a faith-based opinion that no other explanation will ever be found for the existence of functional protein sequences. You simply insist that there can be nothing we do not already understand that could constrain the processes that result in these sequences such that they function in living metabolisms. You are exactly like the people who insisted that no possible explanation could ever be found for the highly improbable sequence of lightning strikes – except God!

    No. Functional configurations of digital “switches” are completely different from lightening. Again, you banalize, and refuse to deal with the true arguments of ID. Your arguments are generally good, but this one is very bad. IMO.

    It is this objection of yours that is bad, I’m afraid: OF COURSE lightning is not protein! The point – which you seem very determined to miss – is that we do not know what we do not know! The Boston scientists thought they knew everything, and so they felt justified in saying there could never be any explanation of the churches being struck except for intelligent agency. They were wrong. ID scientists think they know everything, and so they feel justified in saying there could never be any explanation for protein sequences except for intelligent agency. They are wrong: Same mistake both times.

    And ID would be falsified by a new complex body plan arising in a system without any intervention of a conscious designer, whatever the time. Each theory has its own potential falsifications.

    This would be helpful save for the inconvenient fact that ID provides no empirical method by which to observe when conscious designers intervene!!! How are we supposed to falsify ID by finding a complex body plan that arose without conscious design when we have no idea how to look at some complex body plan and then decide no conscious design was involved??? Don’t you see? EVERY complex body plan you see you simply DECIDE that conscious design was involved – you don’t observe the intervention!

    Really – just take a look at what you’re saying. Give us some hypothetical, counter-factual scenario where some biological complex body plan is observed, and we SOMEHOW can determine that no conscious designer was involved, thus falisifying your theory. That’s right – you can’t do it.

    OK, and so?

    And so while intelligent agents operate on a time scale of days, months, or years, biological systems are found to take hundreds of millions of years. Why isn’t this a problem for ID? Because no matter what we observe, ID proponents will always say that it is consistent with conscious agency, that’s why.

    I have repeatedly shown what the “problems for ID” could be: dFSCI arising in a complex system,…

    Wrong, because there is no test to reveal whether or not a complex biological system was the result of conscious design or some other unknown process.

    …or very simply a true empirical support for neo darwinism,…

    Wrong, because showing that theory A does is not a falsification of theory B. Now that we know Darwinism is false, we need to be able to figure out what theory is true. In order to test to see if ID is true or not, we need something that would be inconsistent with ID to see if that ever happens. But because nothing is ever inconsistent with ID, that can’t be done.

    For example, if functional, selectable intermediates to basic protein domains did exist (there is not one of them known). that would be a big problem for ID.

    It absolutely would not be a problem for ID at all of course, because there is no reason a conscious designer could not design selectable intermediates!

    Give it up, GP – just admit that the “conscious agents” hypothesis is compatible with every possible observation, and so you are just pretending that ID can be falsified by saying that proving some other theory true would falsify it. Don’t you see that you have falsified Darwinism without any reference at all to ID or any other theory? The reason you could falsify Darwinism is because Darwinism happens to be a scientific theory! But you can’t falsify ID because it explains every possible observation that could ever be make by invoking the same unseen, untestable cause.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  120. RDFish,

    IDists have said what would falsify ID. It is all in the EF. We have saod exactly what would be inconsistent with ID. So your claims to the contrary are total BS.

    That said biological function/ specificity is only part of the design inference. Read “The Privileged Planet” and you will see that the design inference is supported by much more than that.

    We exist. There is only one reality behind our existence. And if science can only allow a certain amount of luck in any given model, the materialism, and by extension darwinism, are scientific non-starters as they rely on luck, so what is left, scientifically?

  121. RDFish:

    And so while intelligent agents operate on a time scale of days, months, or years, biological systems are found to take hundreds of millions of years.

    Evidence please. Strange what RDFish just accepts without skepticism…

  122. RDF:

    the “conscious agents” hypothesis

    It’s not an hypothesis, it is the first and first undeniable fact of our existence, denied only on pain of absurdity.

    With all due respect, if you cannot responsibly choose with significant real freedom, you are a subject of chains of causal forces that have nothing to do with truth, the logic of grounds and consequences etc. Reduction to mere computation limited by GIGO, ends in absurdity . . . an agent trying to dismiss agency using the faculties that only agency can give. The same absurdity highlighted by Leibnitz so long ago now in his instructive analogy of the mill:

    perception, and that which depends upon it, are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perception, we could conceive of it as increased in size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find anything to explain perception. It is accordingly in the simple substance, and not in the compound nor in a machine that the perception is to be sought.

    Cause-effect, GIGO limited blind chains cannot even in principle explain ground-consequent relations based on understanding.

    KF

  123. RDF to GP

    On the contrary, my position is that you refuse to admit that we do not understand some things about our world. You are adamant that we should never admit our ignorance, but instead take whatever idea we prefer and claim scientific support for it.

    Oh, wow! What a shameless misrepresentation. I have been reading GP’s comments, and he has said nothing that even comes close to the above characterization.

    RDF

    In order to believe in ID, you must accept that conscious agency is capable of doing things that no combination of chance and fixed law is capable of doing.

    This statement is doubly confused because it does not specify at what point the “acceptance” takes place in the process, nor does it specify which conscious agent (human or superhuman) is being alluded to. From a scientific perspective, the existence of conscious agency and its causal powers is not an apriori assumption; it is a reasonable conclusion (a fact, really) arrived at through consistent observation and aposteriori reasoning. ID builds on that conclusion.

    Equally important, RDF still does not understand ID’s argument for biological design. Indeed, he has it backwards: Anthony Flew did not first “accept” a transcendent conscious agency, assume its capacity to surpass law & chance, and them come to believe in ID; he came to believe in ID on the strength of empirical evidence and then accepted a transcendent conscious agency and its capacity to surpass law & chance.

    As Flew put it, “It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.” He recognized that the ID process begins with the observation of dFSCI and ends with the acceptance of a transcendent mind and not vice versa.

    In other words, you must believe that mind transcends physical causation. That is the starting point of ID – if you don’t believe that at the outset, you will not believe ID theory, period.

    No. It is the ending point of ID. In the beginning, you need only be open to the prospect that a mind as a transcendent cause is a logical possibility–not that it is, in fact, the likely explanation. ["Mind transcends physical causation"] is a conclusion that follows the evidence, not an assumption that leads it.

  124. Hi StephenB,

    Oh, wow! What a shameless misrepresentation. I have been reading GP’s comments, and he has said nothing that even comes close to the above characterization.

    GP and I are having a nice, lively discussion without trashing each other. Must you come in and start yelling about me being “shameless”? Can’t you just make some points like an adult and see if you can win an argument on merit instead of bluster?

    Of course GP and I disagree about this point, but I am not purposefully misrepresenting what he’s said. He says that I am wrong to adopt an “I don’t know” attitude regarding these questions:

    GP: So, with your “don’t knows” you are simply ignoring that almost no one in the world would agree that we can simply say “we don’t know anything” about the problems I have cited.

    Now of course I’ve never said we don’t know anything about these things – what I’ve said is we lack empirical support for any scientific explanation of origins. So that actually is a misprepresentation of my position by GP. He’s also exaggerating when he says almost nobody except me believes in neither Darwinism nor ID, when in fact there are lots of people agree with me. But instead of calling GP “shameless”, I merely reiterate my points, as clearly as I can make them. You ought to do the same.

    RDF: In order to believe in ID, you must accept that conscious agency is capable of doing things that no combination of chance and fixed law is capable of doing.
    SB: This statement is doubly confused because it does not specify at what point the “acceptance” takes place in the process, nor does it specify which conscious agent (human or superhuman) is being alluded to.

    The confusion is all yours, I’m afraid. ID considers three types of causation: chance, fixed law, and intelligent cause. This very categorization is based on a metaphysical speculation, namely that intelligence transcends physical cause.

    From a scientific perspective, the existence of conscious agency and its causal powers is not an apriori assumption; it is a reasonable conclusion (a fact, really) arrived at through consistent observation and aposteriori reasoning. ID builds on that conclusion.

    Of course you are equivocating on the term “conscious agency”. As GP himself as agreed here, the “conscious agency” ID posits may be one of two very different things, leading to two very different versions of ID. The first version of ID hypothesizes that life on Earth was designed by life elsewhere, and the second version of ID hypothesizes that life on Earth was designed by something that was not a living organism at all. Each of these different hypotheses has its own problems, which I’ve explained to you many times.

    [some irrelevant anecdote about Anthony Flew's personal viewpoint]

    I’m sure Dr. Flew’s story is very interesting but I’d rather stick to the topic at hand.

    RDF: In other words, you must believe that mind transcends physical causation. That is the starting point of ID – if you don’t believe that at the outset, you will not believe ID theory, period.
    SB: No. It is the ending point of ID. In the beginning, you need only be open to the prospect that a mind as a transcendent cause is a logical possibility–not that it is, in fact, the likely explanation. ["Mind transcends physical causation"] is a conclusion that follows the evidence, not an assumption that leads it.

    Well, no, you’re wrong. It is an hypothesis that ID makes, and if ID wishes to be scientific, it must go on to support that hypothesis with good evidence. Somehow ID folks have come to believe that simply making something up that would, if true, explain some phenomenon is all you have to do in order to do science. That is not the case – in science, once you’ve come up with a hypothesis that if true would explain what you want to explain, you actually have to show why you think that hypothesis is true!

    ID hypothesizes that IF some sort of being existed that had (super-)human-like mental powers plus the ability to set the universal constants and produce physical DNA sequences and so on, THEN this being could explain OOL and the universe and everything. Well, sure. What ID fails to do is the next step, which is where all the work is. That is where you have to show that your hypothesis is true.

    There is nothing – not one single thing – that the “conscious agency” of ID is unable to do, according to ID theory. (If you disagree with what I just said, remember to tell me what it is a conscious agency is incapable of doing!) Because “conscious agency” is thus functionally synonymous with “something that can do anything”, then OF COURSE it will explain whatever you want it to explain.
    Somewhere ID folks have gotten the idea that “falisification” refers to “proving some other theory true”, so you mistakenly believe that ID can be falsified (all you have to do is prove Darwinism is true, you say!). So ID posits this “explanation” – which is “something that can do anything, anytime, anywhere” – and decides it doesn’t actually have to provide any evidence that it exists. It really is a non-starter when it comes to scientific explanation.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  125. RDF:

    You come upon a table, with 500 fair coins in it, with the ASCII code for the first 72 characters of your last post spelled out in the HT pattern.

    What would you infer from that observation as to its likely cause, why?

    KF

    PS: ID does not assume existence of any particular agent, it accepts that agents do exist and are thus possible. Once an agent is possible, evidence that on reliable sign points to its activity, should be treated at its due weight. So, the conclusion from FSCO/I in cells to the only empirically confirmed class of source of such, is reasonable.

  126. RDF:

    Why are you setting up a strawman?

    ID would be overthrown in the world of life if something as simple as 500 bits/ 72 ASCII characters of text in English as just described were to indubitably . . . per reliable observation . . . arise by blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    Nor is this news, that has been the focus of ever so many overturn ID attempts for years. Many of those were shot down in and around UD, e,g. the man who posted on YouTube as to how clocks originated and evolved spontaneously, and many more.

    It is after repeated failures of such that we are seeing more and more of “You could as well be talking Sanskrit,” you cannot define design or chance or other such.

    KF

  127. Hi KF:

    You come upon a table, with 500 fair coins in it, with the ASCII code for the first 72 characters of your last post spelled out in the HT pattern.

    What would you infer from that observation as to its likely cause

    Some human being who is familiar with computer science set them up.

    why?

    Seriously? Because I know that human beings exist and some of them understand ASCII and they have the ability to turn coins over like this.

    So, the conclusion from FSCO/I in cells to the only empirically confirmed class of source of such, is reasonable.

    This “empirically confirmed class” consists of only one single type of agent, a human being. ID hypothesizes that this class might contain other sorts of agents too, but provides no evidence that this is the case. Worse yet, ID is actually two distinct hypotheses:

    1) Life on Earth was designed by living things elsewhere
    2) Life on Earth was designed by a non-living agent (i.e. something without a complex physical body)

    The second hypothesis is not consistent with the “empirically confirmed class” of agents you mention, and so ID would require evidence that such a thing does in fact exist (or did at one time). However, ID presents no such evidence.

    This leaves the first hypothesis, that alien life forms designed life on Earth. But as I’ve pointed out many times, once one accepts (without any evidence) that alien life forms exist (or have existed in the past), we might as well simply conclude that we are their descendants rather than the products of their bio-engineering.

    No matter how you slice it, ID can’t be considered to be a successful empirically-supported theory of origins.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  128. RDF:

    ID considers three types of causation: chance, fixed law, and intelligent cause. This very categorization is based on a metaphysical speculation, namely that intelligence transcends physical cause.

    The three types of causation that ID considers are all based on empirical evidence, not metaphysical assumptions–except for the principle of causation itself. Empirical evidence indicates that conscious agents design things, which means that they are prior to, both logically and in time, the things they designed. There are no metaphysical assumptions involved here–again, excepting the laws of logic, the laws of causation, and the scientific standard of uniformatarianism. Everything else is derived from evidence and the methods of historical science, which seem to hold interest for you.

    SB: From a scientific perspective, the existence of conscious agency and its causal powers is not an apriori assumption; it is a reasonable conclusion (a fact, really) arrived at through consistent observation and aposteriori reasoning. ID builds on that conclusion.

    Of course you are equivocating on the term “conscious agency”.

    No, the conscious agencies that are known to produce dFSCI are well established and sufficiently identified, humans, animals etc. There is no need to equivocate.

    The conscious agency that has been empirically verified As GP himself as agreed here, the “conscious agency” ID posits may be one of two very different things, leading to two very different versions of ID. The first version of ID hypothesizes that life on Earth was designed by life elsewhere, and the second version of ID hypothesizes that life on Earth was designed by something that was not a living organism at all. Each of these different hypotheses has its own problems, which I’ve explained to you many times.

    None of this supports your claim that ID makes unscientific metaphysical assumptions. For that matter, you forgot to add God and the flying spaghetti monster to your list. ID could not possibly assume that all these conflicting speculations about the designer of life are true, which alone proves that your claim is false. ID simply argues that some kind of intelligent agent is more likely than law/chance. Where that agent comes from or what form it takes is irrelevant to the science of ID and its arguments. Your attempt to make it relevant remains futile.

    I’m sure Dr. Flew’s story is very interesting but I’d rather stick to the topic at hand.

    It was your topic, not mine. It was you who introduced (and continue to propagate) the idea that the ID inference depends on the metaphysical assumption of a transcendent mind, not me. Flew’s story shows that the process begins with empirical observation and ends with the conviction that an eternal mind exists. If, as you argue, the process had begun with the assumption that a transcendent mind exists, Flew could hardly have made an inference to or draw conclusions about that same mind since he would have already assumed the conclusion.

    Somehow ID folks have come to believe that simply making something up that would, if true, explain some phenomenon is all you have to do in order to do science. That is not the case – in science, once you’ve come up with a hypothesis that if true would explain what you want to explain, you actually have to show why you think that hypothesis is true!

    As I have explained to you many times, ID is based on the methods of historical science, which are a unique subsection of the broader scientific picture. Thus, your loosely phrased comment about generic science is irrelevant. Unless you come to terms with the methods of historical science, and unless you grasp their relationship to the design inference, you will always be making false assumptions about ID and misrepresenting its arguments.

    ID hypothesizes that IF some sort of being existed that had (super-)human-like mental powers plus the ability to set the universal constants and produce physical DNA sequences and so on, THEN this being could explain OOL and the universe and everything. Well, sure. What ID fails to do is the next step, which is where all the work is. That is where you have to show that your hypothesis is true.

    This is where historical science, abductive reasoning, and uniformatarian principles come into play. If you are not familiar with those methods, and clearly you are not, you cannot possibly evaluate the legitimacy of the conclusions that they produce. That should be evident.

    There is nothing – not one single thing – that the “conscious agency” of ID is unable to do, according to ID theory. (If you disagree with what I just said, remember to tell me what it is a conscious agency is incapable of doing!)

    I don’t need to show that ID’s conscious agent is omnipotent or not omnipotent. You need to show that ID science assumes it or requires it.

    Because “conscious agency” is thus functionally synonymous with “something that can do anything”, then OF COURSE it will explain whatever you want it to explain.

    You have made a rather bold statement of fact that needs to be argued for. Why is conscious agency functionally synonymous with something that can do anything? Where in the ID literature have you found claims that a scientific inference to biological design is synonymous with claims of omnipotence? Only in the realm of philosophy could such arguments be made.

    Somewhere ID folks have gotten the idea that “falisification” refers to “proving some other theory true”, so you mistakenly believe that ID can be falsified (all you have to do is prove Darwinism is true, you say!).

    Again, it would help if you could familiarize yourself with the relevant literature on the methods of historical science. There are many ways to falsify ID. If anyone found an evolutionary pathway to the bacterial flagellum, for example, irreducible complexity would be falsified.

    So ID posits this “explanation” – which is “something that can do anything, anytime, anywhere” – and decides it doesn’t actually have to provide any evidence that it exists. It really is a non-starter when it comes to scientific explanation.

    Another strawman argument makes an appearance.

  129. Earth to RDFish-

    Science is not about ultimate answers. First comes the design inference and THEN we get to all of the stuff.

    As for your other pap, well AGAIN IDists have said exactly what would falsify ID, so stop with your willfully ignorant whining to the contrary.

  130. Hi StephenB,

    RDF: ID considers three types of causation: chance, fixed law, and intelligent cause. This very categorization is based on a metaphysical speculation, namely that intelligence transcends physical cause.
    SB: The three types of causation that ID considers are all based on empirical evidence, not metaphysical assumptions–except for the principle of causation itself.

    The metaphysical assumption is that intelligent cause transcends (stands apart from) physical cause. This is an ontological claim that has no empirical support. There is no scientific test available to us to determine if anything in our minds transcends chance and necessity, and so the question remains in open philosophical debate, as it has been for millenia.

    No, the conscious agencies that are known to produce dFSCI are well established and sufficiently identified, humans, animals etc. There is no need to equivocate.

    I agree that human beings produce complex mechanisms. While other animals do all sorts of amazing things, and build some complex functional structures, we’d have to pin down what “dFSCI” means a bit more before I could see which other animals qualified as generators of dFSCI.

    The equivocation is just the one I constantly point out, as “design” might refer to either of the following:
    1) Life on Earth was designed by living things elsewhere
    OR
    2) Life on Earth was designed by a non-living agent (i.e. something without a complex physical body)

    None of this supports your claim that ID makes unscientific metaphysical assumptions.

    Again, only the latter of these two ID hypotheses requires a particular metaphysical assumption, specifically that a mind can exist independently of a brain (or even some other complex physical information processing mechanism) and that such a mind can act on matter in the physical world. The first hypothesis requires no such metaphysical commitment. Thus, if ID wishes to renounce its metaphysical commitments, it ought to be restricted to the hypothesis that life on Earth was designed by some living thing(s) elsewhere.

    Flew’s story shows that the process begins with empirical observation and ends with the conviction that an eternal mind exists.

    No, the story about Flew was about what one man personally thought, and to the extent he believed that, he was confused. Clearly, unless you believe that intelligent cause stands apart from physical cause, you cannot make sense of ID’s claims.

    As I have explained to you many times, ID is based on the methods of historical science, which are a unique subsection of the broader scientific picture. Thus, your loosely phrased comment about generic science is irrelevant. Unless you come to terms with the methods of historical science, and unless you grasp their relationship to the design inference, you will always be making false assumptions about ID and misrepresenting its arguments.

    Don’t just tell me I don’t understand some broad scientific picture, tell me what specifically I have argued that is wrong, and why you think it is wrong.

    This is where historical science, abductive reasoning, and uniformatarian principles come into play. If you are not familiar with those methods, and clearly you are not, you cannot possibly evaluate the legitimacy of the conclusions that they produce. That should be evident.

    Again, this is nothing but an ad hominem dodge of my arguments. Either debate the points or give up, but this kind of dodge gets you nowhere.

    RDF: There is nothing – not one single thing – that the “conscious agency” of ID is unable to do, according to ID theory. (If you disagree with what I just said, remember to tell me what it is a conscious agency is incapable of doing!)
    SB: I don’t need to show that ID’s conscious agent is omnipotent or not omnipotent. You need to show that ID science assumes it or requires it.

    You have not responded to my point. ID offers “conscious agency” as an explanation, but fails to explain what exactly a “conscious agency” can and cannot do. Thus, we can’t compare our observations with the limits of what “conscious agency” is capable of in order to assess whether or not “conscious agency” was responsible.

    RDF: Because “conscious agency” is thus functionally synonymous with “something that can do anything”, then OF COURSE it will explain whatever you want it to explain.
    SB: You have made a rather bold statement of fact that needs to be argued for. Why is conscious agency functionally synonymous with something that can do anything?

    I’ve told you this over and over: Because ID (and you) is not able to specify one single thing that “conscious agency” is NOT able to do!.

    Can “conscious agency” create a new complex body plan in one second?
    Can “conscious agency” create a new complex body plan over the course of a billion years?
    Can “conscious agency” produce efficient or even optimal designs?
    Can “conscious agency” produce inefficient sub-optimal designs?
    Can “conscious agency” produce irreducibly complex designs?
    Can “conscious agency” produce designs with selectable intermediates?
    Can “conscious agency” be responsible for every single observation that anyone could ever make?

    The answer to every one of these questions is “YES”. That means that ID explains nothing.

    Where in the ID literature have you found claims that a scientific inference to biological design is synonymous with claims of omnipotence? Only in the realm of philosophy could such arguments be made.

    Again, of course ID folks are not going to come out and say that what they are talking about is an omnipotent God. But as I just showed, because ID refuses to characterize this “conscious agency” in any way, there is no way of deciding what it cannot do. That is why ID’s “conscious agency” functions in ID exactly the way an omnipotent being would.

    RDF: Somewhere ID folks have gotten the idea that “falisification” refers to “proving some other theory true”, so you mistakenly believe that ID can be falsified (all you have to do is prove Darwinism is true, you say!).
    SB: Again, it would help if you could familiarize yourself with the relevant literature on the methods of historical science.

    Please skip this annoying dodge and stick to the argument, thanks.

    There are many ways to falsify ID. If anyone found an evolutionary pathway to the bacterial flagellum, for example, irreducible complexity would be falsified.

    You’ve just proven my point again, SB. I said that ID folks think that by proving evolutionary theory true that would falisfy ID, so that means ID is falsifiable. WRONG.

    Think: In order to falsify Darwinism, we don’t have to prove ID true!

    You must falsify a theory by disconfirming some specific prediction. Darwinism makes all sorts of specific predictions, and guess what… we can falsify them! Random mutations could not in fact add up to complex form and function even if the Earth was a thousand times older than it is – bingo, we’ve falsified Darwinism without talking about any other theory. But there is no way to falisfy ID, because ID is tantamount to saying “Some unknown thing that can account for everything we observe is what accounts for what we observe”.

    Another strawman argument makes an appearance.

    I’ve already told you how to show that I’m wrong about this: Simply tell me one single thing that a “conscious agent” is unable to do. Can It create a new universe with any sort of physical constants It wants to? Sure, why not! Can it arrange the solar system so we on Earth can observe nice eclipses? Sure, no problem! Something that can explain everything explains nothing.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  131. RDFish @128:

    This leaves the first hypothesis, that alien life forms designed life on Earth. But as I’ve pointed out many times, once one accepts (without any evidence) that alien life forms exist (or have existed in the past), we might as well simply conclude that we are their descendants rather than the products of their bio-engineering.

    “We” meaning humans? Or “we” meaning simple single-celled organisms that existed on the early Earth? If the former, then what about all the other organisms on Earth? And if the latter, then that is just another form of the panspermia idea.

    Yet, with the latter panspermia-related idea, what produces the subsequent design of living organisms?

    You see, design is not just evident in one small aspect of the history of life at the very beginning with the first cell (though it is clearly evident there). Design is also evident pervasively, from the single cell to multi-cellular organisms, to organs, to larger systems, and so on.

    So, no, it is not in fact the case that we “might as well” conclude that we are their descendants. At least not without a huge caveat to that statement. We could indeed be their descendants in some fashion or another, sure. But there is also pervasive additional design in life that is not explained simply by virtue of organism z descended from organism a.

  132. RDFish @131:

    I’ve already told you how to show that I’m wrong about this: Simply tell me one single thing that a “conscious agent” is unable to do. Can It create a new universe with any sort of physical constants It wants to? Sure, why not! Can it arrange the solar system so we on Earth can observe nice eclipses? Sure, no problem! Something that can explain everything explains nothing.

    I feel your frustration, and I think you ask an interesting question.

    If I may, the answer is that (for the most part) we don’t know the limits of what conscious agents can do. All we can do in a particular case is ascertain whether something is most likely the product of design or not. In other words, for those situations in which the actual historical event was not witnessed (say, OOL and the development of life on Earth), the inference runs the other direction — not from the conscious agent to the design, but from the design to the conscious agent. Meaning, we identify things that are designed and then from that we know the agent was at least capable of that particular design. This is precisely how it works every time we discover an amazing archaeological find, a piece of technology from an ancient civilization that was previously unknown, etc.

    ID doesn’t attempt to explain everything. It is a very limited theory. It cedes a huge amount of territory to chance and necessity and only claims those limited cases in which we have a confluence of specified complexity.

  133. RDFish is scientifically illiterate:

    You’ve just proven my point again, SB. I said that ID folks think that by proving evolutionary theory true that would falisfy ID, so that means ID is falsifiable. WRONG.

    Think: In order to falsify Darwinism, we don’t have to prove ID true!

    The way to any given design inference is THROUGH necessity and chance- see Newton’s four rules; occam’s razor; parsimony; the EF; etc.

    It’s as if RDFih has never conducted an investigation in his life and he thinks his ignorance means something.

  134. RDFish:

    You must falsify a theory by disconfirming some specific prediction.

    Intelligent agency is the only source of dFSCI. Demonstrate otherwise and ID is in trouble.

  135. Hi Eric Anderson,

    “We” meaning humans? Or “we” meaning simple single-celled organisms that existed on the early Earth? If the former, then what about all the other organisms on Earth? And if the latter, then that is just another form of the panspermia idea.

    Well, we could certainly begin to debate the merits and problems of the idea that we’ve descended from extra-terrestrial life forms; I think it’s a perfectly terrible theory, since (1) we have no evidence that ET life forms have ever existed, and (2) even if it were true, that would only push the problem of the origin of life back a step – it wouldn’t answer it.

    It is, however, not quite as bad a theory as the idea that we were designed by alien life forms. That theory also suffers from (1) we have no evidence that ET life forms have ever existed, and (2) even if it were true, that would only push the problem of the origin of life back a step – it wouldn’t answer it. And on top of that, we’d have to speculate even farther to assume that these aliens somehow had the amazing bio-engineering skills required to populate the Earth with millions of different species!

    So, no, it is not in fact the case that we “might as well” conclude that we are their descendants. At least not without a huge caveat to that statement. We could indeed be their descendants in some fashion or another, sure. But there is also pervasive additional design in life that is not explained simply by virtue of organism z descended from organism a.

    Again, the same problem is present in ID-ET (the idea alien life forms designed life on Earth). Perhaps these aliens sent two of every type of life on their planet off to Earth, like Noah’s Ark!

    It should go without saying that these sorts of questions are like counting angels on the head of a pin. None of these conjectures has any evidence for it at all.

    If I may, the answer is that (for the most part) we don’t know the limits of what conscious agents can do.

    Yes of course – and why do you think that is? Because we have no idea if there is such a thing as a “conscious agent” that isn’t the very sort of organism that ID is attempting to explain: A complex life form. The existence of a whole class of different sorts of things that are conscious – spirits, gods, demons, and so on – is purely hypothetical, empirically speaking. Since these other sorts of “conscious agents” have never been observed, of course we can’t imagine what their abilities and limits are.

    All we can do in a particular case is ascertain whether something is most likely the product of design or not.

    You can only ascertain if something is produced by something we know about or not. If we find something (like a chromosome) and we can’t figure out how it came to exist, then that’s that. It doesn’t mean that we’ve demonstrated the likelihood that some sort of conscious agent was involved. In order to establish that, we’d actually need evidence that it was true.

    In other words, for those situations in which the actual historical event was not witnessed (say, OOL and the development of life on Earth), the inference runs the other direction — not from the conscious agent to the design, but from the design to the conscious agent.

    Here is what you don’t seem to understand, and I think this misunderstanding happens a lot.

    Take this sentence: “We have ascertained that the flagellum is the product of design“.

    Now, let’s very carefully look at the meaning of that phrase. I would say that a “product of design” means “something for which a conscious agent created a construction plan”, or something similar. You see? The moment you say that you believe something “has been designed”, or that it is “the product of design”, or that it “is a design”, you have already implicitly started with the postulation of a conscious agent. So if you say some object was designed, you are in fact making the claim that a conscious agent existed prior to that object’s existence, and caused the design of the object to exist.

    Meaning, we identify things that are designed and then from that we know the agent was at least capable of that particular design. This is precisely how it works every time we discover an amazing archaeological find, a piece of technology from an ancient civilization that was previously unknown, etc.

    No, none of this has anything to do with what we’re talking about, because in all these cases we know a tremendous amount about the cause of each object (a human being). We are very well aware of the abilities and limitations of human beings. None of these disciplines ever refers to a whole hypothetical class of “conscious agents” that might have been responsible for the pottery shard or gear that they find – every single time it is taken as a given, for very obvious reasons, that a human being was responsible.

    ID doesn’t attempt to explain everything. It is a very limited theory. It cedes a huge amount of territory to chance and necessity and only claims those limited cases in which we have a confluence of specified complexity.

    This is merely at the discretion of its practioners, not some limit that is built into the theory! There is no theoretical limit to the abilities of “conscious agents” in ID, and so anyone can explain anything at all by invoking the action of a “conscious agent”. No scientific explanation functions this way; there are no other hypotheses that can be applied the same way to every imaginable phenomenon. (Although in biology, Darwinism comes in a reasonably close second sometimes, since anyone can explain any biological feature by invoking the all-powerful “Random variation + selection”!)

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  136. RDF:

    The metaphysical assumption is that intelligent cause transcends (stands apart from) physical cause. This is an ontological claim that has no empirical support.

    Not true. It is an empirically obvious fact. There is no question that I stand apart from the paragraph I just wrote, just as there is no question that any intelligent agent stands apart from the design pattern that it fashions.

    SB: None of this supports your claim that ID makes unscientific metaphysical assumptions.

    Again, only the latter of these two ID hypotheses requires a particular metaphysical assumption, specifically that a mind can exist independently of a brain (or even some other complex physical information processing mechanism) and that such a mind can act on matter in the physical world.

    Please be more specific with example (2). Define what you mean by a non-living agent that doesn’t possess a body and show why allowing for the logical existence of such a (being?) (designer?) requires a metaphysical assumption.

    The first hypothesis requires no such metaphysical commitment. Thus, if ID wishes to renounce its metaphysical commitments, it ought to be restricted to the hypothesis that life on Earth was designed by some living thing(s) elsewhere.

    You have yet to show that your second scenario requires a metaphysical commitment.

    No, the story about Flew was about what one man personally thought, and to the extent he believed that, he was confused.

    No. Flew is on record for accepting ID arguments and he is on record for explaining how he arrived from point [a] the empirical evidence to point [b] the existence of an eternal mind. None of his critics tried to argue that he began with a metaphysical assumption nor did they present any evidence that his reasoning was confused. All design arguments (including cosmological arguments) begin with observation and proceed with aposteriori reasoning. None of them begin with apriori assumptions. No one argues for the existence of an intelligent agent by assuming an intelligent agent. That would be a tautology. ID is not tautological. You are simply misguided.
    SB: As I have explained to you many times, ID is [in large part, though not exclusively] based on the methods of historical science, which are a unique subsection of the broader scientific picture. Thus, your loosely phrased comment about generic science is irrelevant. Unless you come to terms with the methods of historical science, and unless you grasp their relationship to the design inference, you will always be making false assumptions about ID and misrepresenting its arguments.

    Don’t just tell me I don’t understand some broad scientific picture, tell me what specifically I have argued that is wrong, and why you think it is wrong.

    It is wrong because it claims that ID science begins with a metaphysical assumption. ID is empirical and begins with an observation. It seems that every few weeks, you put your creative instincts to work for the purpose of reframing ID’s empirical arguments into something other than what they are.
    SB: This is where historical science, abductive reasoning, and uniformatarian principles come into play. If you are not familiar with those methods, and clearly you are not, you cannot possibly evaluate the legitimacy of the conclusions that they produce. That should be evident.

    Again, this is nothing but an ad hominem dodge of my arguments.

    It is not an ad hominem attack to point out that you don’t even engage ID arguments. You simply transform them into strawmen and address them on that basis alone. You are silent about [a] The science of past causes, [b] Abductive reasoning, [c] Inferences to the best explanation, [d] uniformitarianism, [e] multiple competing hypotheses, [f] causal adequacy, [g] causes now in operation, and even [h] The main question on the table (How did the appearance of design in living systems arise)? Each of these approaches is consistent with the other and all are empirically-grounded. It is the greatest folly, then, to claim that ID’s arguments are not empirical without even knowing the rationale on which they are based.

    There is nothing – not one single thing – that the “conscious agency” of ID is unable to do, according to ID theory. (If you disagree with what I just said, remember to tell me what it is a conscious agency is incapable of doing!)

    Again, you are making a claim that you cannot support. There is no reason to believe that the conscious agency of ID requires an omnipotent being. ID doesn’t presume to know that the designer is omnipotent nor does it need to even address the question in order to infer design.

    Thus, we can’t compare our observations with the limits of what “conscious agency” is capable of in order to assess whether or not “conscious agency” was responsible.

    Irrelevant. You don’t need to know the capabilities of the intelligent agent to draw an inference to design, just as you don’t need to know the wide range of an author’s capabilities to know that he designed each page of a manuscript.

    I’ve told you this over and over: Because ID (and you) is not able to specify one single thing that “conscious agency” is NOT able to do!

    You have not explained why ID should be able to do that.
    SB: Where in the ID literature have you found claims that a scientific inference to biological design is synonymous with claims of omnipotence? Only in the realm of philosophy could such arguments be made.

    Again, of course ID folks are not going to come out and say that what they are talking about is an omnipotent God.

    So, you think ID folks are hiding something, do you? Is that why you continually inject claims into their arguments that they didn’t make? Try to face the simple facts. Life appears to be designed and, according to the empirical evidence, life likely was designed. You cannot get to an omnipotent God by calculating CSI or IC. It simply cannot be done. ID already knows that. There are philosophical arguments that can demonstrate a pretty thick slice of God, but ID’s paradigms simply don’t have the juice, nor do they claim to—which is to their credit. If only ID critics like yourself would stop misrepresenting their arguments or trying to find stealth motives and metaphysical assumptions that aren’t there.

    But as I just showed, because ID refuses to characterize this “conscious agency” in any way, there is no way of deciding what it cannot do.

    As I indicated, it isn’t a question of refusing to characterize the conscious agency. It is a question of the limitations of the paradigms being used.

    That is why ID’s “conscious agency” functions in ID exactly the way an omnipotent being would.

    So, first you argue that ID refuses to characterize its conscious agent and then you argue that ID’s conscious agent functions exactly as an omnipotent being. That’s a neat trick.

    You’ve just proven my point again, SB. I said that ID folks think that by proving evolutionary theory true that would falisfy ID, so that means ID is falsifiable. WRONG.

    I said that there are many ways (many means more than one) to falsify ID. Among them, we can either prove Darwinism true or prove ID’s predictions false. Question: Do you know anything about ID’s predictions? If not, then your analysis is premature.

    Darwinism makes all sorts of specific predictions, and guess what… we can falsify them! Random mutations could not in fact add up to complex form and function even if the Earth was a thousand times older than it is – bingo, we’ve falsified Darwinism without talking about any other theory. But there is no way to falisfy ID, because ID is tantamount to saying “Some unknown thing that can account for everything we observe is what accounts for what we observe”.

    Again, you are addressing a strawman and ignoring ID’s main argument, by which “some features in nature” give evidence of design. Also, you seem unaware of ID’s falsifiable predictions, which is why I continue to remind you that your analysis is premature. Are you going to accuse me of another ad-hominem argument for pointing this out?

    I’ve already told you how to show that I’m wrong about this: Simply tell me one single thing that a “conscious agent” is unable to do. Can It create a new universe with any sort of physical constants It wants to? Sure, why not! Can it arrange the solar system so we on Earth can observe nice eclipses? Sure, no problem! Something that can explain everything explains nothing.

    I have already explained why you are wrong. The process of detecting the existence of a designer using empirical methods does not, in any way, depend on the prospect of establishing the designer’s other capabilities.

  137. Hi StephenB,

    RDF: The metaphysical assumption is that intelligent cause transcends (stands apart from) physical cause. This is an ontological claim that has no empirical support.
    SB: Not true. It is an empirically obvious fact.

    Ok, that’s fine. Let’s agree to disagree: You believe metaphysical dualism is an empirically obvious fact, and I believe it is something that has been debated for millenia without empirical resolution. I am happy to let the fair reader decide who is right.

    ID is empirical and begins with an observation.

    ID begins with the observation of biological CSI.
    ID then hypothesizes that the CSI was produced by an intelligent agent.
    In order for this hypothesis to be true, some intelligent being had to exist prior to the CSI.
    ID fails to provide any empirical evidence that any such being existed – none whatsoever.

    You are silent about [a] The science of past causes, [b] Abductive reasoning, [c] Inferences to the best explanation, [d] uniformitarianism, [e] multiple competing hypotheses, [f] causal adequacy, [g] causes now in operation, …

    I’m silent about these things?? Why should I give a dissertation on these things? If you have some point to make regarding any of these things, then simply do! At that point I’ll respond. But there is really no need for me to lecture about abductive reasoning in general; I’m providing a set of reasons why ID can not at all be considered to be an empirically justified result, even given the limits of historical sciences.

    …and even [h] The main question on the table (How did the appearance of design in living systems arise)?

    As for the main question on the table, I believe I have been rather clear about that. In case you, for some odd reason, don’t recall my position on this question, I shall remind you: The answer is nobody knows.

    Each of these approaches is consistent with the other and all are empirically-grounded. It is the greatest folly, then, to claim that ID’s arguments are not empirical without even knowing the rationale on which they are based.

    If you think there is a single bit of empirical evidence that I am not aware of, please do let me know. That’s your part in this – you are supposed to be arguing for ID Theory here. My part is to say why I think ID theory is a non-starter as a scientific theory:

    ID Version 1: ET Alien Designers (i.e. designers with complex physical bodies)
    1) No evidence that ETs ever existed
    2) Doesn’t explain how first life arose
    3) If there were ETs, we might have simply been their descendents
    4) Additional hypothesis required: these life forms were so advanced that they could create millions of different terrestrial species

    ID Version 2: Unembodied Designers (i.e. designers without complex physical bodies)
    1) No evidence that unembodied designers ever existed
    2) Information processing, required for design, requires complex physical mechanism
    3) Doesn’t explain where the unemobided designer came from
    4) No matter what we observe in the fossil record, we can never find anything to contradict ID, since as far as ID Theory is concerned, “conscious agency” can do theoretically do anything at all

    RDF: There is nothing – not one single thing – that the “conscious agency” of ID is unable to do, according to ID theory. (If you disagree with what I just said, remember to tell me what it is a conscious agency is incapable of doing!)
    SB: Again, you are making a claim that you cannot support. There is no reason to believe that the conscious agency of ID requires an omnipotent being. ID doesn’t presume to know that the designer is omnipotent nor does it need to even address the question in order to infer design.

    You just dodged my question once again. The reason you don’t answer the question is because there is no answer to this question. Why don’t you just admit it? Why pretend you don’t see it? Here, I’ll ask you one more time:

    What is one single thing that a “conscious agent” is incapable of doing”?

    What about it? Again, can it create a universe? Pick the values of the physical constants? Carve the Grand Canyon? Configure the solar system so we on Earth have nice eclipses? Decide to give Zebras stripes? Decide to make more than 350,000 different species of beetles? Design something optimally efficient? Design something inefficient? Write a book? And so on and so on and so on…

    Don’t dodge the question, SB – come on, just admit that a “conscious agent” is something that ID folks say, but what they mean is “something that can do anything that we can ever imagine happening”.

    You have not explained why ID should be able to do that.

    Again, because in order to determine if ID’s hypothesis of “conscious agency” is true or not, we have to be able to compare what we observe with the predicted results of “conscious agency”. If we observe things that “conscious agency” is incapable of doing, then we have reason to reject ID’s hypothesis.

    This is how we reject Darwinism. Darwinism hypothesizes that random mutation and natural selection account for speciation and the complex form and function we observe. We can then compare what we observe (the CSI we find in biological systems) and compare it to what RM&NS is capable and incapable of doing, and decide that the structures we observe cannot possibly be produced by RM&NS, at least within the timeframes involved.

    But you can’t do this with ID, because no matter what you observe, a “conscious agent” can always be imagined who could accomplish it – even if it’s creating a universe.

    If only ID critics like yourself would stop misrepresenting their arguments or trying to find stealth motives and metaphysical assumptions that aren’t there.

    You simply can’t recognize your own metaphysics. You assume dualism and libertarianism, and pretend that those are empirical facts.

    So, first you argue that ID refuses to characterize its conscious agent and then you argue that ID’s conscious agent functions exactly as an omnipotent being. That’s a neat trick.

    Do you really not understand this? Seriously?
    1) ID refuses to characterize its conscious agent.
    2) Therefore, since there is nothing to say what this agent can’t do, it cannot possibly be inconsistent with any observation
    3) Therefore no matter what we observe, “ID Theory” will always match the observation – guarenteed!
    4) This means we can never tell if ID is true or not, and so it is not a scientific explanation.

    Come on – this is a very simply point!

    Also, you seem unaware of ID’s falsifiable predictions, which is why I continue to remind you that your analysis is premature. Are you going to accuse me of another ad-hominem argument for pointing this out?

    For goodness sake, SB, if you’d like to discuss some prediction (and by this we mean a specific observation that can be empirically tested and that would not be expected to occur unless ID was true) that you believe can be derived from ID Theory, now would be a very good time to bring it up, don’t you think?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  138. 139

    @RDFish:

    Ok, that’s fine. Let’s agree to disagree: You believe metaphysical dualism is an empirically obvious fact, and I believe it is something that has been debated for millenia without empirical resolution. I am happy to let the fair reader decide who is right.

    God transcends physical cause by definition. I do agree that there’s no evidence that any human, not even Jesus, has ever done anything beyond “chance” and “necessaty”, since humans are designed machinery (Have you ever seen a computer do something supernatural????)! There’s no evidence that our empirically observed design-activities ever produced anything that trancends physical cause. That’s a fact.

  139. RDF:

    Ok, that’s fine. Let’s agree to disagree: You believe metaphysical dualism is an empirically obvious fact, and I believe it is something that has been debated for millenia without empirical resolution.

    I am simply saying that the design is distinct from the designer.

    I am happy to let the fair reader decide who is right.

    Sounds good.

    ID is empirical and begins with an observation.
    ID begins with the observation of biological CSI.

    ID then hypothesizes that the CSI was produced by an intelligent agent.

    So far, so good.

    In order for this hypothesis to be true, some intelligent being had to exist prior to the CSI.

    You are on a roll.

    ID fails to provide any empirical evidence that any such being existed – none whatsoever.

    The evidence for the designer is inherent in the design patterns. The cause (the designer) is indicated by the effect (the design). We know from experience that design patterns have never been known to exist in the absence of a designer (intelligent agent). Based on that experience, it would be unreasonable to believe in a design without a designer.
    SB: You are silent about [a] The science of past causes, [b] Abductive reasoning, [c] Inferences to the best explanation, [d] uniformitarianism, [e] multiple competing hypotheses, [f] causal adequacy, [g] causes now in operation, …

    I’m silent about these things??

    Yes.

    Why should I give a dissertation on these things? If you have some point to make regarding any of these things, then simply do!

    A dissertation? I have already made the point. On the one hand, [a] all those methods that you care nothing about, and which define the ID paradigms, are empirically grounded. On the other hand, [b] you say that ID is not empirically grounded. You need to explain how you reconcile [a] with [b]. I have said that it is because you are not familiar with [a]. I have no reason at this point to change my opinion.

    But there is really no need for me to lecture about abductive reasoning in general; I’m providing a set of reasons why ID can not at all be considered to be an empirically justified result, even given the limits of historical sciences.

    There are good reasons for familiarizing yourself with abductive reasoning. If you are unaware of the elements of ID’s empirically-based process, then you are hardly in position to claim that it isn’t an empirically-based process. Your reasons for saying that ID cannot be empirically justified are not legitimate since they are unrelated to and uninformed by the ways that ID does, in fact, uses empirical methods.

    As for the main question on the table, I believe I have been rather clear about that. In case you, for some odd reason, don’t recall my position on this question, I shall remind you: The answer is nobody knows.

    No one claims to know for sure in this context. ID simply claims that its arguments for a real design are better than Neo-Darwinism’s arguments for illusory design. And so they are.
    SB: Each of these approaches is consistent with the other and all are empirically-grounded. It is the greatest folly, then, to claim that ID’s arguments are not empirical without even knowing the rationale on which they are based.

    If you think there is a single bit of empirical evidence that I am not aware of, please do let me know.

    You know, this is one of the big problems that we have. Each time I make a point you transform it into something you wish I had said. For the record, I didn’t say that you were unaware of the evidence. I said that you are unaware of ID’s historical methods for evaluating it. And so you are.

    You just dodged my question once again. The reason you don’t answer the question is because there is no answer to this question. Why don’t you just admit it? Why pretend you don’t see it? Here, I’ll ask you one more time:
    What is one single thing that a “conscious agent” is incapable of doing”?

    I will be happy to answer any reasonable question. So, make your question reasonable. Which conscious agent did you have in mind? Are you discussing human agents or superhuman agents? Human agents are incapable of doing many things. They certainly cannot design universes. They cannot high jump ten feet. They cannot type four hundred words a minute. Obviously, this is going nowhere.

    If you are discussing superhuman agents, do you mean God? That would be one answer. Do you mean, the flying spaghetti monster? That would be another answer. Do you mean an alien being? That would be yet another answer. Make no mistake about it. The answers would all be meaningless since none of this has anything at all to do with the process of a design inference. Still, I will be happy to indulge you for a while (but not for long).

    Don’t dodge the question, SB – come on, just admit that a “conscious agent” is something that ID folks say, but what they mean is “something that can do anything that we can ever imagine happening”.

    That is not what ID folks mean—even if that is what you wished they did mean. What they mean is exactly what they say, no more, no less. From a scientific perspective, the DNA molecule has features that indicate design.

    Again, because in order to determine if ID’s hypothesis of “conscious agency” is true or not, we have to be able to compare what we observe with the predicted results of “conscious agency”.

    No, we do not have to use a process like that and we are not trying to determine the “truth” about anything. The abductive method, which compares competing hypotheses, simply doesn’t work that way, which is another reason that you should learn something about it. Otherwise, you will keep expecting ID to use your methods, which are unproven, arbitrary, and peculiar to you, rather than its own methods, which are proven, appropriate for design detection, and universally accepted as relevant for historical science.

    If we observe things that “conscious agency” is incapable of doing, then we have reason to reject ID’s hypothesis.

    This is how we reject Darwinism. Darwinism hypothesizes that random mutation and natural selection account for speciation and the complex form and function we observe. We can then compare what we observe (the CSI we find in biological systems) and compare it to what RM&NS is capable and incapable of doing, and decide that the structures we observe cannot possibly be produced by RM&NS, at least within the timeframes involved.

    The same test cannot be applied to a hypothesis that proposes a mechanism (Neo-Darwinism) with a theory that does not propose a mechanism (ID). We reject Darwinism because it cannot support its extravagant claims with even a shred of evidence. ID, on the other hand, does not make extravagant claims. It is not extravagant to say that something that appears designed really was designed. It is a very modest claim and it is, indeed, supported by the evidence.

    But you can’t do this with ID, because no matter what you observe, a “conscious agent” can always be imagined who could accomplish it – even if it’s creating a universe.

    We could reject ID on the grounds that its predictions do not pan out or because the evidence doesn’t support its claims.

    You simply can’t recognize your own metaphysics. You assume dualism and libertarianism, and pretend that those are empirical facts.

    I don’t assume dualism when I do a design inference. Example: The bacterial flagellum was likely designed. Its parts could not have come together through a gradualistic process because the organism cannot function unless all parts are present. You can’t find any assumption of dualism in that analysis because it isn’t there. Again, you are making claims that you cannot defend.
    SB: Also, you seem unaware of ID’s falsifiable predictions, which is why I continue to remind you that your analysis is premature. Are you going to accuse me of another ad-hominem argument for pointing this out?

    For goodness sake, SB, if you’d like to discuss some prediction (and by this we mean a specific observation that can be empirically tested and that would not be expected to occur unless ID was true) that you believe can be derived from ID Theory, now would be a very good time to bring it up, don’t you think?

    ID makes many predictions about such things information processing in cells, RNA world analysis, the fossil record, the flagellar motor, the functional sequence of amino acids etc. The point is not to get into a technical discussion about them, but to make you aware of them and point out that any of them, if proven wrong, have the potential to falsify ID.

  140. RDF:

    Let’s see on just one point:

    KF, 126: >> You come upon a table, with 500 fair coins in it, with the ASCII code for the first 72 characters of your last post spelled out in the HT pattern.

    What would you infer from that observation as to its likely cause, why? >>

    KF, 127: >> . . . ID would be overthrown in the world of life if something as simple as 500 bits/ 72 ASCII characters of text in English as just described were to indubitably . . . per reliable observation . . . arise by blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    Nor is this news, that has been the focus of ever so many overturn ID attempts for years. Many of those were shot down in and around UD >>

    RDF, 128 : >> [on, inference:] Some human being who is familiar with computer science set them up . . . .

    [on, why:] Seriously? Because I know that human beings exist and some of them understand ASCII and they have the ability to turn coins over like this . . .

    [on the source of FSCO/I in cells:] This “empirically confirmed class” consists of only one single type of agent, a human being. ID hypothesizes that this class might contain other sorts of agents too, but provides no evidence that this is the case. Worse yet, ID is actually two distinct hypotheses:

    1) Life on Earth was designed by living things elsewhere
    2) Life on Earth was designed by a non-living agent (i.e. something without a complex physical body)

    The second hypothesis is not consistent with the “empirically confirmed class” of agents you mention>>

    RDF, 131, to SB: >> of course ID folks are not going to come out and say that what they are talking about is an omnipotent God. But as I just showed, because ID refuses to characterize this “conscious agency” in any way, there is no way of deciding what it cannot do. That is why ID’s “conscious agency” functions in ID exactly the way an omnipotent being would. >>

    The pattern of — with all due respect — evasive reasoning is quite clear, sadly so:

    1 –> Presented with a case of FSCO/I, and particularly dFSCI, you did draw a design inference. In so doing you tried to set up a lockdown to the notion that only separately confirmed agency is a legitimate possibility.

    2 –> This immediately undermines a major goal of science and reasoned thought, to understand that which due to circumstances we did not directly observe or cannot. At simple level, no-one has seen an electron, but in a computer age it is by such we see ever so many other things. We do so, because of the cumulative explanatory power of the hypothesised particles, and the convergence of such explanations on a common factor.

    3 –> Likewise, the scientific reconstruction of the unobserved past of origins depends on identifying in the present forces that are capable of producing like effects to the observed traces.

    4 –> Where, there is but one observed source of FSCO/I (across billions of cases all around) . . . intelligent design. There is analytical and empirical evidence that, on needle in haystack vs available search resources grounds, indicates that blind chance and mechanical necessity on gamut of the sol system, cannot credibly be the source of 500+ bits of FSCO/I. Where also, FSCO/I per the use of coded descriptive strings, WLOG, reduces informationally to strings.

    5 –> There is an error of basic fact, this particular ID thinker happens to have noted as arguably a good example of a non-human source of FSCO/I the limited but interesting agents, beavers. Cf here.

    6 –> Also, if any of the various possibilites of artifacts were found on Mars, the Moon, Pluto, etc, from the FSCO/I seen as comparable to cases such as humans or beavers, there would be absolutely no hesitation in inferring to design. Indeed, the case of a large, mirror finish smooth precisely cuboidal monolith made up of Granite or the like polycrystalline stone on the Moon (even one without inscriptions) it could easily be concluded that this was a case of FSCO/I and would be a case in point. Indeed VJT argued on this some years ago here at UD. The difficulty of maintaining precise and unnatural polycrystalline shapes like that would point to design. Notice, it would not be crystallographic order such as a large quartz crystal or columnar basalt. Likewise, SETI is dedicated to the possibility of similar FSCO/I being found in electromagnetic signals — even a clean long sustained sine wave would be a significant sign, as a sustained sinusoid is not a naturally plausible event.

    7 –> So long as agents other than humans are POSSIBLE, the evidence that FSCO/I is a reliable sign that is observed to be caused by agents, and is not plausible on the other empirically established patterns of cause — chance and necessity — should be allowed to let evidence point to the cause.

    8 –> And it patently would, save for selective hyperskepticism fearing undesired potential agents — from 131, there is an obvious inference to the undesirability of Lewontin’s “Divine Foot” in the door of the secular temple of lab coat clad materialism. (Lewontin’s argument, as the OP shows, collapses.)

    9 –> It should also be plainly noted that we have here a strawman, one that is known to be laced with polarisations. For, from the beginning of technical ID thought in the early 1980′s, on concerns on the limitations of empirical inference, it was understood by Thaxton et al, that inference to design in the world of cell based life by itself does not allow us to infer whether such a designer is or is not within the observed cosmos.

    10 –> The reason for this, especially nowadays, is obvious: given the work of Venter et al, a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond where we now are, could be a reasonable sufficient cause for the phenomena of the living cell. Indeed efforts are ongoing to artificially construct a living cell, implying some degree of confidence in the possibility.

    11 –> So, all of that stuff on omnipotence of agents is a red herring led away to a strawman soaked in polarisations, to be set alight though hints and suggestions of the previous dirty agitprop war conducted against Creationists.

    12 –> There IS a side of design thought that does infer to an agent cause beyond our observed cosmos, cosmological inference to design on fine tuning. This, you have yet to do serious justice to despite it having been repeatedly drawn to your attention. In short, the evidence highlights setting up a strawman.

    13 –> Similarly, you redefine living things to equal body-based entities. But surely, you know that biological life and life, especially life as understood as the action of purposeful intelligence, cannot be so reduced . . . especially as, without announcement, RDF, you have crossed the border into philosophy.

    14 –> At that level, unless you show a class of beings is IMPOSSIBLE, on having attributes that stand in mutual contradiction similar to those of a square circle, you cannot rule out possibilities by imposing ideologically convenient definitions. And of course this particularly holds for ruling out the possibility of God as a transcendent, immaterial being by definitional fiat on what is or is not life.

    15 –> Where also, the design inference on empirical evidence of cosmological fine tuning, points to the live possibility of a being of great power, intelligence, knowledge, skill and purpose, acting as causal root of the observed cosmos. With the further factor in play that an evidently contingent world of matter and energy in space and time, calls out for a necessary being as its causal root. Such a necessary being being, by simple logic of not being dependent on external enabling factors, eternal. (As a very simple example of that the truth in 2 + 3 = 5 does not have any such external dependence, and has no beginning, and cannot come to an end. It is of course a proposition — an inherently mental object, and a classic point is that it is eternally contemplated by an eternal mind.)

    16 –> Thus, arguably the external world and our minded life within both point to the inference to God as root of being. Such a context does not depend on any body of religious tradition or scripture, it is a philosophical inference to best explanation informed by first principles of right reason. (Onlookers, cf here on for a 101.)

    17 –> As to the notion that agency has no limits, the answer is obvious from the contrast:

    (a)it is possible for an intelligent agency of relevant capabilities to develop a unicorn, a horse with a horn in the middle of its forehead,

    VS:

    (b) it is not possible for an intelligent agent to create a square circle or the like.

    18 –> However, the point is on a red herring.

    19 –> The real issue is that FSCO/I exists, is frequently encountered and on our experience invariably comes from design when we directly can see the cause in action. This is unsurprising on needle in haystack grounds as repeatedly explained — blind chance and/or mechanical necessity is empirically incapable of creating FSCO/I beyond 500 – 1,000 bits due to inability to scan the space of possibilities sufficiently beyond a negligible level, to make such creation anything but all but absolutely impossible. Indeed, this sort of reasoning is the basis for the second law of thermodynamics, statistical form.

    20 –> And, just as the second law of thermodynamics is subject to empirical test, e.g. see if you can build a perpetuum mobile of the second type, the FSCO/I is a reliable sign of design as cause inference is subject to empirical test . . . see if blind chance and necessity can reliably give rise to it.

    21 –> Much tried, e.g the ongoing random document generation tests. As of last count, per Wiki . . . cited as speaking against known ideological interest . . . on the infinite monkey theorem:

    The theorem concerns a thought experiment which cannot be fully carried out in practice, since it is predicted to require prohibitive amounts of time and resources. Nonetheless, it has inspired efforts in finite random text generation.

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

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

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

    22 –> No prizes for guessing why that is so, at 7 bits per ascii character.

    23 –> Consequently, the balance on merits is plain:

    a: FSCO/I, expressed as a definite nodes and arcs pattern that fulfills observed functionally specific configurations, is routinely observed as produced by intelligent agents.

    b: On needle in haystack grounds, it is not credible that the empirically warranted alternatives, blind chance and/or mechanical necessity, will be capable of practically generating FSCO/I of at least 500 – 1,000 bits on the gamut of solar system of observed cosmos atomic and temporal resources.

    c: This is backed up by ever so many empirical tests.

    d: Thus, on the uniformity principle of scientifically reasoning about what we cannot observe directly, in light of the traces it leaves and what we have established as empirically reliable signs, FSCO/I is a reliable sign of design as cause.

    e: Where also, design, on massive empirical grounds, and the logic of evident purpose and contrivance to fulfill purpose, entails designer.

    f: Furthermore, we have no good reason to a priori confine the world of possible designers to humans, or even to the embodied.

    g: So, we have excellent scientific grounds to infer that where we see FSCO/I, there has been design as key causal factor.

    h: Where known cases include: origin of life, origin of major body plans and key features such as human linguistic abilities, and the fine tuned organisation of the physics of the observed cosmos.

    24 –> Cumulatively, this suffices to show that intelligent design is a reasonable and scientifically warranted view, the many attempts to deride, demonise or dismiss it notwithstanding.

    KF

  141. RDFish is a moron on an agenda:

    ID begins with the observation of biological CSI.

    OK

    ID then hypothesizes that the CSI was produced by an intelligent agent.

    Nope. To date every time we have observed CSI and knew the cause it has been via some intelligent agency- 100% of the time. And we have NEVER observed nature producing CSI.

    In order for this hypothesis to be true, some intelligent being had to exist prior to the CSI.

    Yup

    ID fails to provide any empirical evidence that any such being existed – none whatsoever.

    Again your ignorance means nothing here. Perhaps you should do some actual research to see what IDists and ID really says.

    1) ID refuses to characterize its conscious agent.

    ID is NOT about the designer- again your ignorance is showuing.

    2) Therefore, since there is nothing to say what this agent can’t do, it cannot possibly be inconsistent with any observation

    THat is false and exposes your ignorance wrt science.

    3) Therefore no matter what we observe, “ID Theory” will always match the observation – guarenteed!

    Again that is only YOUR ignorasnce saying that.

    4) This means we can never tell if ID is true or not, and so it is not a scientific explanation.

    YOU can’t because you are a scientifically ignorant punk.

  142. In order for this hypothesis to be true, some intelligent being had to exist prior to the CSI.
    ID fails to provide any empirical evidence that any such being existed – none whatsoever.

    Is RDFish really objecting to ID based on the fact that no one can point to a designer that existed prior to humans?

    This is the same objection that Mark Frank has.

    There seems to be thousands of comments by RDFish and those responding to him. Does it all boil down to no obvious designer, thus, no design?

    I apologize for asking this question but have refused to read anything RDFish writes since I learned early on that it all seemed pointless and didn’t want to waste time reading nonsense.

  143. Jeryy:

    Is RDFish really objecting to ID based on the fact that no one can point to a designer that existed prior to humans?

    Sad but true, even though we usually tell that humans were around by the traces they left and not by actually observing them…

  144. 145

    Jerry you are correct. RDF’s objection boils down to not being able to identify a designer at the point of OoL. It’s the same reworked and reworded objection he comes back with time after time. The actual evidence of design is of no consequence whatsoever. MF is the same as well. Both have a completely closed mind, infinitely protected by their ability to say “Who’s the Designer” in as many ways as possible.

  145. Hi StephenB,

    RDF: Ok, that’s fine. You believe metaphysical dualism is an empirically obvious fact, and I believe it is something that has been debated for millenia without empirical resolution.
    SB: I am simply saying that the design is distinct from the designer.

    Sorry but that’s perfectly ambiguous. Here is what ID proponent JWTruthInLove thinks about this:

    JWT: I do agree that there’s no evidence that any human, not even Jesus, has ever done anything beyond “chance” and “necessaty”…There’s no evidence that our empirically observed design-activities ever produced anything that trancends physical cause.

    Do you, or do you not, agree with JWTruthInLove on this point?

    There are good reasons for familiarizing yourself with abductive reasoning.

    It is amusing that you think you know something about abduction that I don’t, but irrelevant nonetheless. If you want to make a point about why ID is supported by abductive inference then please do so, but your ad hominmen allusions, as usual, just make you sound desperate.

    Which conscious agent did you have in mind?

    This is very funny! ID is your preferred theory, not mine. I am asking you to tell me what it is that ID offers as an explanation for CSI in biology, and you turn the question around and ask me what it is! If ID can’t say what it is that is supposed to have been responsible for the origin of life, then it really isn’t any sort of explanation at all.

    The answers would all be meaningless since none of this has anything at all to do with the process of a design inference.

    Unless you say what it is that was responsible, saying “design inference” is perfectly meaningless.

    Let’s say we have no working theory of gravity, but Ted has a theory to explain our observations of how the planets move in the night sky. His theory rests on the “movement inference”. He points out that all movement must have a mover, and so a mover must be responsible for our observations of the changing positions of these planets.

    Scientist: What is it that you think accounts for the planets’ movements?
    Ted: My theory is not about the mover; it’s about the movement inference.
    Scientist: Sorry, but that doesn’t tell me anything about why the planets observed motion.
    Ted: You don’t understand motion or planets.
    Scientist: Huh? Anyway, you need to describe the “mover” in a way that I can determine if it exists or not
    Ted: It’s only about the movement inference, not the mover.
    Scientist: How does this word “mover” explain the eliptical paths of the planets around the sun, the orbits of moons around the planets, the perihelion of Mercury, and so on?
    Ted: My theory isn’t about that. It is about detecting effects of a mover.
    Scientist: Then your theory doesn’t explain anything at all!
    Ted: Yes it does – it is the best explanation of our observations of the planets’ locations over time.

    This is just what ID is doing. You claim you “detect design” – that is simply acknowledging the complex form and function we observe. You say that there must be a “designer” but this is just as ambiguous as saying there is a “mover” of the planets. You refuse to say what the designer is, and this makes ID as vacuous as a theory that explains the planet’s locations using the “movement inference” without saying what it is that accounts for the planets’ actual movements.

    Scientist: What if we observed planets moving differently? What if their speed remained constant throughout their orbit of the Sun instead of observing Kepler’s Laws? Would that falsify your theory?
    Ted: No, it would still be due to a mover.
    Scientist: Is there anything that a mover can’t do?
    Ted: It depends on what sort of mover you are talking about!
    Scientist: Then how do you know that this “mover” is really responsible?
    Ted: It is the best explanation we have.

    This is just the runaround that you’re giving me. If ID does not actually describe what it thinks is responsible for CSI in biology, then it explains nothing, pure and simple.

    The same test cannot be applied to a hypothesis that proposes a mechanism (Neo-Darwinism) with a theory that does not propose a mechanism (ID).

    It’s not about “mechanism” – it’s about “explanation”. It doesn’t matter if the explanation is a “mechanism” or not – it matters that a theory actually says what it claims explains the phenomenon in question. ID does not.

    We reject Darwinism because it cannot support its extravagant claims with even a shred of evidence. ID, on the other hand, does not make extravagant claims.

    HUH????? Do you, or do you not, say that ID explains the origin of the universe, the values of the universal constants, and the existence of biological complexity? If the answer is “yes”, then ID makes even more – MUCH more – extravagant claims than Darwinism. If the answer is “no”, then you agree with me that these things remain unexplained!

    I don’t assume dualism when I do a design inference. Example: The bacterial flagellum was likely designed. Its parts could not have come together through a gradualistic process because the organism cannot function unless all parts are present.

    Saying how the parts could NOT have come together does not explain how they DID come together. Like every single other piece of evidence you think supports ID, this has nothing to do with ID – it has to do with something else (“gradualistic processes” in this case).

    You can’t find any assumption of dualism in that analysis because it isn’t there.

    As I’ve explained 100 times to you, the assumption of dualism is found in ID’s claim that intelligence transcends chance and necessity. This is metaphysical speculation masquerading as a scientifically sound principle.

    ID makes many predictions about such things information processing in cells, RNA world analysis, the fossil record, the flagellar motor, the functional sequence of amino acids etc. The point is not to get into a technical discussion about them, but to make you aware of them and point out that any of them, if proven wrong, have the potential to falsify ID.

    This is a bluff.

    Instead of spending all this time telling me that you can list these predictions if you wanted to, you could have actually described one single prediction. The fact of the matter is that ID makes ZERO predictions for the obvious reason that ID presents nothing to predict from – unless you say what is responsible, you can’t predict what it would do.

    Prove me wrong by describing these predictions. Here is my prediction: Not one single prediction will have anything to do with intelligent design; rather, they will all be about OTHER theories and how OTHER theories fail to account for what we observe.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  146. @ RDFish

    What is one single thing that a “conscious agent” is incapable of doing”?

    Create a square circle, violate noncontradiction, etc. In all seriousness, this question is laughably asinine. Can you think of a single example from archaeology, forensics, or any other mode of historical inquiry where the inference to a designing agent was held in abeyance until the said agents capabilities were precisely spelled out? To criticize ID for not speculating wildly about something that cannot possibly be known is unfair
    and nonsensical.

    Your demand that ID should provide direct empirical evidence of the designer(s) is difficult to understand. By its very nature, the question of the origin and subsequent development of life resists a purely empirical approach. Unless someone figures out how to build a time machine so we can go back to the dawn of life, we will never know empirically what happened. These events took place millions and billions of years ago. This is a very different sort of inquiry from, say, determining the shape of the earth. The only way to get some idea about the remote past (absent a time machine) is to use extant available data and draw careful inferences based on our knowledge of the cause and effect structure of the world. What else conceivably could we do? Inference is an indispensable tool for understanding the ancient past. StephenB’s criticism of your argumentation is spot on.

  147. Both have a completely closed mind, infinitely protected by their ability to say “Who’s the Designer” in as many ways as possible.

    I find it remarkable that anyone responds. I know it is always for the on-lookers but I doubt any sentient on-looker would read more than one or two comments before moving on.

    It is also remarkable at how similar they all are and why they waste their time defending such inane points of view. Maybe there is a sub-species of humans that are programmed to behave this way and they are drawn to UD like a honey bee to a flower.

  148. Here is a whimsical comment I made about Mark Frank and another anti-ID person nearly 5 years ago

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-305339

    We were discussing CSI and who is the designer came up. Here is my comment which might help FDFish

    Mark Frank and Adel, you people are just too good to be true. Next they will be accusing us of having planted you people here.

    Yes, I make sarcastic remarks because absurdity deserves it. If I hear one more person wanting to know what FSCI is, I will scream. I explained it to my niece in 4th grade and she understood it and thought it was neat. But she is really a bright kid.

    Someone actually wants the laboratory techniques used 3.8 billion years ago. You talk about bizarre. I say a thousand as hyperbole and Mark in all seriousness says there is probably only a dozen. Mark wants the actual technique used a few billion years ago.

    Mark, I got word from the designer a few weeks ago and he said the original lab and blue prints were subducted under what was to become the African plate 3.4 billion years ago but by then they were mostly rubble anyway. The original cells were relatively simple but still very complex. Subsequent plants/labs went the same way and unfortunately all holograph videos of it are now in hyper space and haven’t been looked at for at least 3 million years. So to answer one of your questions, no further work has been done for quite awhile and the designer expects future work to be done by the latest design itself. The designer travels via hyper space between his home and our area of the universe when it is necessary.

    The designer said the techniques used were much more sophisticated than anything dreamed of by current synthetic biologist crowd but in a couple million years they may get up to speed and understand how it was actually done. The designer said it is actually a lot more difficult than people think especially since this was a new technique and he had to invent the DNA/RNA/protein process from scratch but amazingly they had the right chemical properties. His comment was “Thank God for that” or else he doesn’t think he wouldn’t have been able to do it. It took him about 200,000 of our years just experimenting with amino acid combinations to get usable proteins. He said it will be easier for current scientists since they will have a template to work off.

    Adel, if you make a negative comment or exhibit a negative attitude then expect the essence of your negative comment to be dealt with in some way. I would not let any of my children make a comment such as yours without being sent to their room. I could think of hundreds of ways for you to have made a cordial comment inquiring what I think on the matter. But why did you choose the way you did which revealed a lot of things. (By the way I am quite clear on what I think and it is all over this blog.)

    But thank you any way for your comments. Your comments and Mark Frank’s comment and those by others here help us immensely. We really appreciate how easy you guys make our job

  149. RDFish:

    The fact of the matter is that ID makes ZERO predictions for the obvious reason that ID presents nothing to predict from – unless you say what is responsible, you can’t predict what it would do.

    For ONE, as with archaeology, SETI and forensic science, ID predicts that when intelligent agencies act they tend to leave traces of their actions behind. These traces are detectable, and as forensic science has it, very valuable to the investigation.

    BTW JW’s position has never been clearly stated nor does he speak for ID.

    And one more thing RDFish- your childish and false analogies just further expose your agenda

  150. Hi Optimus,

    RDFish:What is one single thing that a “conscious agent” is incapable of doing”?
    Optimus: Create a square circle, violate noncontradiction, etc. In all seriousness, this question is laughably asinine.

    No, the question is serious and important and reveals a fatal problem for ID; it was your answer that was obviously asinine.

    Can you think of a single example from archaeology, forensics, or any other mode of historical inquiry where the inference to a designing agent was held in abeyance until the said agents capabilities were precisely spelled out?

    All of these fields study the activity of human beings, not “conscious agents” in the abstract. We know a great deal about human beings, including things that they cannot do. If we found evidence of something in an archaeological dig, or a crime scene, that we know human beings cannot do, we would then know that our assumption of human activity has been falsified, and we would need to posit some new hypothesis. This has nothing to do with ID, which refuses to say what is actually supposed to explain all of that which ID purports to explain.

    Your demand that ID should provide direct empirical evidence of the designer(s) is difficult to understand.

    I’ve never said “direct” empirical evidence. Rather, I point out that a scientific hypothesis requires empirical evidence in order to be accepted as a successful explanation; this is not a controversial position.

    By its very nature, the question of the origin and subsequent development of life resists a purely empirical approach.

    In that case, you’ll need to inform a lot of people that ID is not, in fact, a scientific endeavor! I happen to disagree that emprical inquiry cannot, even in principle, yield knowledge about OOL and the development of biological complexity. But I do agree that with you that we have not, thus far, successfully explained these things.

    Unless someone figures out how to build a time machine so we can go back to the dawn of life, we will never know empirically what happened. These events took place millions and billions of years ago.

    Well yes, obviously so. But that isn’t the issue here. The Big Bang happened billions of years ago, but because we understand so much about physics, scientists were able to construct very specific predictions that we could observationally confirm if Big Bang theory were true, and that were extremely unlikely to be true if the Big Bang theory was not true. So, we believe the Big Bang happened as the physicists say it did, even though nobody was there at the time.

    In contrast, we have no way to determine if the intervention of some sort of “conscious agent” was involved in the origin of life. Every bit of “evidence” that ID people talk about has nothing to do with ID; it always refers to the inadequacies of other theories instead.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  151. 152

    @Joe:

    BTW JW’s position has never been clearly stated nor does he speak for ID.

    - There’s only one known source of information: God.
    - We’re intricate machinery, designed by someone. That someone is maybe God.
    - There’s no evidence that anyone (except for God) has ever produced a single bit of information.
    - I will see you in heaven.
    - ID is such an illdefined concept it’s useless.
    - Arguments about consciousness cloud the ID-debate unnecessarily.
    - Chrstianity is the only true ID-concept!

  152. Every bit of “evidence” that ID people talk about has nothing to do with ID; it always refers to the inadequacies of other theories instead.

    Ignorance at its finest…

  153. JW:

    - Chrstianity is the only true ID-concept!

    That sucks because I don’t think Christianity is true…

  154. Hi JWTruthInLove,

    I think you are the clearest thinking theist I have met here! Congratulations on your honest and consistent position.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  155. 156

    – There’s only one known source of information: God.

    This is not an argument, its a conclusion.

    - We’re intricate machinery, designed by someone. That someone is maybe God.

    Much better.

    - There’s no evidence that anyone (except for God) has ever produced a single bit of information.

    He did not write that sentence, you did.

    - I will see you in heaven.

    That will be a welcomed outcome.

    - ID is such an illdefined concept it’s useless.

    ID is a scientific project, as such its appropriately limited to material evidence. If you were expecting something else, then you should rethink your expectations.

    - Arguments about consciousness cloud the ID-debate unnecessarily.

    I generally agree, but the topic is debatable. If it becomes necessary at some level, then there is nothing wrong with having the conversation.

    - Chrstianity is the only true ID-concept!

    Christianity is not a science, its the following of Jesus Christ.

  156. Hi Upright BiPed,

    RDF’s objection boils down to not being able to identify a designer at the point of OoL.

    No, it isn’t. If you try really hard and actually read what I say, perhaps you will understand my objections. But you haven’t, and so you don’t.

    The problem is NOT that I think you need to be able to “identify a designer”, of course. What would that even mean? I would find out His Name? His Address? His Facebook Page?

    No, the problem is not that ID does not reveal the identity of the Designer, but rather it is that ID refuses to say what it actually means by the word “designer” in the first place, and provide a description of what a “designer” is that will allow people to determine if such a “designer” likely existed and was actually responsible for OOL.

    That is the problem. Unfortunately for you, my actual objection is fatal to ID, while the straw man you set up is just silly. I’m not asking “Who is the designer”, because that would be a stupid question (it assumes the designer is a “Who” – a person – for starters).

    I am asking this: “Can you provide a description of what ID means by “designer” that will allow us to look at the observable evidence (biological systems) and decide if everything we see is within the capabilities of the sort of “designer” you are talking about, and will allow us to judge how likely it is that something like you describe is likely to have ever existed in the first place. Once we do that, we will be in a position to say if ID is a good explanation of living systems or not.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  157. 158

    RD, you refuse to evaluate the evidence for design, and your entire schtick is designed to insulate you from having to address that evidence. Your post at #157 is the latest transparent example.

    I stopped taking you seriously when I demonstrated that not conceding to your schtick drives you into an emotional meltdown.

    RDF Nov2013: No, you are of course the one who is confused … none of you ID folks are able to follow any sort of subtle or conditional argumentation … you apparently require a great deal of repitition before you can actually comprehend these things … If you were able to read and understand language a little better … your bizarre notion … is simply nonsensical … What you fail to understand (among other things) … we need to work through that step-by-step, so you don’t get confused … You have put your fingers in your ears, and you are screaming for me to stop telling you what the truth is, because you don’t want to hear it. “END!” you cry. “Stop, please, don’t say any more about the designer because I can’t stand to hear it! My precious beliefs in transcendent mind are too fragile to discuss, and so I forbid any discussion that might make me evaluate my beliefs against the evidence!” … That is simply pathetic. You are pretending to base your religious beliefs on scientific evidence, but when it doesn’t go your way, all you do is shout out “END! YOU CAN’T TALK ABOUT THAT!” … If you aren’t willing to take the evidence where it leads, then stop pretending to care about evidence, and just admit your beliefs are faith-based like all of those good old-fashioned religious people used to do … Oh good grief – can’t you read? … I know you won’t respond to that – you’ll just ignore it again, your fear and loathing preventing you from understanding these simple points … The real targets of my arguments are people like you who attempt to co-opt the imprimatur of science in order to push their own particular religious beliefs upon others, but then are afraid to actually subject their views to the sort of critique that all scientific results must be subjected to. You want to claim that science shows your religious views are correct, but then refuse to discuss all of the empirical evidence that may be inconsistent your beliefs. “End!” you cry! “No more evidence, please!”

  158. RDF:

    Saying how the parts could NOT have come together does not explain how they DID come together.

    Of course, but you are evading the point: There are no metaphysical assumptions involved in the IR process, meaning that your claim to the contrary has been refuted.

    SB: You can’t find any assumption of dualism in that analysis because it isn’t there.

    As I’ve explained 100 times to you, the assumption of dualism is found in ID’s claim that intelligence transcends chance and necessity.

    This is doubly weird since the usual rap on ID is that it assumes a mechanistic view of nature. Just read the literature. Of course, that charge is false as is your charge at the other extreme. There may be some who hypothesize a transcendent mind, but there is no instance of such a hypothesis being transformed into a metaphysical assumption that gets smuggled into the process of making a design inference. It doesn’t happen. It can’t happen.

    ID says simply that intelligence is a different kind of cause than chance and necessity and that the former can be prescinded from the latter. Any implication of dualism is a conclusion that follows from the evidence, (or from the obvious fact that an effect is not identical with its cause) not a presupposition that leads or informs the process of inferring design. I believe that I have explained this to you perhaps fifty times.

    The ID process has a beginning (observation) and an end (inference). Each phase has been marked. There is no assumption of dualism in that process. In keeping with that point, I have a question for you: Do you think the design and the designer are one and the same thing? Please answer and explain.

    This [irreducible complexity] is metaphysical speculation masquerading as a scientifically sound principle.

    So, unmask it. Take the elements apart (without adding anything) and show me the metaphysical assumption. Don’t try to read my mind or guess my motives. Just go ahead and try to extract a metaphysical assumption from irreducible complexity.

    SB: ID makes many predictions about such things information processing in cells, RNA world analysis, the fossil record, the flagellar motor, the functional sequence of amino acids etc. The point is not to get into a technical discussion about them, but to make you aware of them and point out that any of them, if proven wrong, have the potential to falsify ID.

    This is a bluff.

    You have tried this gambit many times with me and it has never paid off. There is no need for me to bluff. I am not the one who is trying to alter reality.

    Instead of spending all this time telling me that you can list these predictions if you wanted to, you could have actually described one single prediction.

    It is time consuming enough to give you new information in abbreviated form without going into detail at every turn. I will be happy to provide two examples (I could provide many more, but we both know that you will dismiss them immediately upon learning about them just as you dismissed the proven methods of historical science immediately upon learning about them).

    *If life was designed, we would progressively discover a top-down rather than a bottom up pattern of new fossil forms.

    *If life was designed, we would progressively find evidence that allegedly bad designs contained an internal functional logic.

    The fact of the matter is that ID makes ZERO predictions for the obvious reason that ID presents nothing to predict from – unless you say what is responsible, you can’t predict what it would do.

    Obviously, you are incorrect. Again, your lack of familiarity with the methods of historical science gets in the way since you labor under the misconception that predictions in that context are similar to predictions made in a laboratory setting.

    Prove me wrong by describing these predictions. Here is my prediction: Not one single prediction will have anything to do with intelligent design; rather, they will all be about OTHER theories and how OTHER theories fail to account for what we observe.

    I get it. First, you say I am bluffing and cannot provide any predictions, and then you say that the predictions that I present (and wasn’t bluffing about after all) will prove to be unsatisfactory in the end.

    It is one thing to avoid a reasonable interpretation of facts, but it is entirely another matter to avoid the facts themselves. All phases of the ID process and all aspects of the ID argument are empirically based. No rational objection that can be made against the point. Let’s take a few of them one at a time:

    [a] To base an argument for design on the digital information in the cell is to make an empirical case.

    [b] To base an argument for design on the irreducible complexity of molecular machines is to make an empirical case.

    [c] To base an argument for design on the patterns found in the fossil record is to make an empirical case.

    [d] To base an argument for design on the fine tuning of physical constants is to make an empirical case.

    [e] To base an argument for design on the information processing system in the cell is to make an empirical case.

    [f] To base an argument for design on the fine tuning of the environment is to make an empirical case.

    [g] To base an argument for design on the specified complexity found in designed artifacts is to make an empirical case.

    There is simply no way to extract a metaphysical assumption from any of these arguments. They all begin with an observation, advance through aposteriori reasoning, and end with a conclusion. No matter how much creativity you apply to your objections, or how long you wallow in your self-made complexities and fabricated subtleties, or how intently you assign hidden motives to ID proponents, you cannot change the facts.

    Your only option, and apparently the one you have chosen, is to abandon reason itself. You may insist on getting the last word, and I may give it to you, but it is a debate that you cannot possibly win. The futility of such an effort is not due to any lack of creativity on your part, but due to the fact that every process has a specified beginning and a specified end. Your desire to discredit ID, as powerful as it may be, cannot change the logical order of ID methodology.

  159. RDFish @ 151

    No, the question is serious and important and reveals a fatal problem for ID; it was your answer that was obviously asinine.

    Not at all. In fact I rather thought it was quite amusing. As has been patiently explained ad nauseam, there is no way to determine the limits of a designing agent from examining the products of said designer. The only thing that can be reliably, consistently ascertained from examining a designed object is the minimum capability of the designer. For instance, both a child with a runny nose and a renowned artist would be capable of drawing a crude stick figure. If all we had to work with was the stick figure, we would have no way to distinguish whether the designer was some little kid or Norman Rockwell.

    All of these fields study the activity of human beings, not “conscious agents” in the abstract. We know a great deal about human beings, including things that they cannot do. If we found evidence of something in an archaeological dig, or a crime scene, that we know human beings cannot do, we would then know that our assumption of human activity has been falsified, and we would need to posit some new hypothesis. This has nothing to do with ID, which refuses to say what is actually supposed to explain all of that which ID purports to explain.

    So let’s apply your reasoning, then. We’ll hypothesize that the tremendous amounts of functional information present in biology are due to the willful activity of some number of human beings acting in the remote past. But as that would require the existence and activity of human beings before human beings existed (discounting time travel paradoxes), we must therefore discard the specific hypothesis that human agency was at play in producing the functional information present in biology. But we still have to account for the origin and subsequent existence of biological information. What if we modify the hypothesis of human activity by positing some nonhuman form of consciousness? Such a nonhuman consciousness would at minimum be capable of producing the same sort of functional information that humans produce. The proposal of a nonhuman consciousness readily follows from the available data and simple logic. It explains the presence of functional information nicely without overreaching into baseless assertions about the specific attributes of the designer(s).

    I’ve never said “direct” empirical evidence. Rather, I point out that a scientific hypothesis requires empirical evidence in order to be accepted as a successful explanation; this is not a controversial position.

    I agree that empirical evidence is needed to justify a scientific hypothesis. I’ve never said otherwise. I merely pointed out the absurdity of requiring independent confirmation of the existence of a designer when there is no other credible explanation for the origin of functional information. If something else was known to be capable of producing functional information, then your demand would of course be perfectly reasonable. However, to the best of our knowledge, conscious agency is the only causally adequate explanation of functional information. In other words:

    If ‘A’ and only ‘A’ is capable of causing ‘B’, the presence of ‘B’ necessarily indicates ‘A’.

    In that case, you’ll need to inform a lot of people that ID is not, in fact, a scientific endeavor! I happen to disagree that emprical inquiry cannot, even in principle, yield knowledge about OOL and the development of biological complexity. But I do agree that with you that we have not, thus far, successfully explained these things.

    Amusing, I’m sure. The point I made was simply that hard core empiricism is going to come up empty when trying to understand events that occurred billions of years ago. It’s not that empirical data aren’t important. They absolutely are. But unless we’re willing to make some reasonable inferences drawing on our knowledge of cause and effect, employing uniformitarian reasoning, then absent being present to watch OOL, we’re not going to get very far.

    Well yes, obviously so. But that isn’t the issue here. The Big Bang happened billions of years ago, but because we understand so much about physics, scientists were able to construct very specific predictions that we could observationally confirm if Big Bang theory were true, and that were extremely unlikely to be true if the Big Bang theory was not true. So, we believe the Big Bang happened as the physicists say it did, even though nobody was there at the time.

    And we understand a great deal about information and what is required to produce it. Hence we can with some measure of confidence infer the involvement of conscious activity in the origin of life. However, the action of a designer may not necessarily leave behind such abundant traces that we could comfortably predict ‘C’, ‘D’, and ‘E’ from ‘A’.

    In contrast, we have no way to determine if the intervention of some sort of “conscious agent” was involved in the origin of life. Every bit of “evidence” that ID people talk about has nothing to do with ID; it always refers to the inadequacies of other theories instead.

    Nice use of scare quotes! “Evidence” – sounds spooky. Of course that’s rubbish. We infer the activity of a “conscious agent” from the presence of function information / complexity in biology. Until you present some convincing reason that conscious agency actually has some explanatory rival to account for said phenomenon, the ID inference stands as provisionally the best explanation of the origin and diversification of life.

  160. RD sez:

    “Can you provide a description of what ID means by “designer” that will allow us to look at the observable evidence (biological systems) and decide if everything we see is within the capabilities of the sort of “designer” you are talking about, and will allow us to judge how likely it is that something like you describe is likely to have ever existed in the first place. Once we do that, we will be in a position to say if ID is a good explanation of living systems or not.

    And yet we know the designers capabilities by what they left behind- how do we know humans could construct Stonehenge or the pyramids? Because we have those structures to study. No one would believe it if it was just a story.

    As for your other [SNIP! -- language & tone, KF] about ID not saying what is meant by “designer”- read – Intelligent Design is not Optimal Design

  161. F/N: We routinely observe or experience design in action, producing FSCO/I including dFSCI beyond 500 – 1,000 bits. We know on needle in haystack grounds that blind chance and/or mechanical necessity cannot plausibly produce at the threshold much less beyond it. So, design is a fact and that it transcends the capacity of C & N on a routine basis is also a fact not an assumption. The only question-begging assumption here is the materialist one that intelligence capable of design MUST have come from such. Why? Because it is assumed that is the root of reality, by materialists and those unduly influenced by them. KF

  162. Joe: Please tone down intensity and language. I am about to remove a vulgarity. You were doing well, kindly return to that. KF

  163. RDFish:

    Wow! I have just been away a couple of days, and there has really been some movement here! :)

    Well, I believe I still owe you an answer to your last post to me, #120 I suppose, and then, if I find the time, I will try to read what has happened after that.

    Here it is.

    First of all, just to be consistent, I will repeat that I don’t like to repeat things. Therefore, I will try to answer only those points which have not been already debated fully. For the rest, let’ say that I understand well your arguments, and I am not convinced by them, and that you understand my arguments, and are not convinced by them. That’s perfectly fine. There is no reason just to go on repeating those arguments. Intelligent people have certainly already understood all of them.

    On the contrary, my position is that you refuse to admit that we do not understand some things about our world. You are adamant that we should never admit our ignorance, but instead take whatever idea we prefer and claim scientific support for it.

    Here, a simple re-writing will suffice:

    “I admit, indeed insist, that we do not understand a lot of things about our world. And I am adamant that we must not simply say “we don’t know”, but rather look for the best explanation available, and test it against all new facts that will be discovered, because that’s what science does.”

    I don’t like to repeat things, but I will not allow gross misrepresentations.

    In this way, you display the same fideism to ID that you deplore in Darwinists. Neither you nor Richard Dawkins is sufficiently objective to admit that your theory lacks the evidence that theories require in order to be considered well-supported scientific results.

    Dawkins and I differ in many things, but we have one thing in common (if I understand well what he thinks): we both believe that both neo darwinism and ID are legitimate scientific theories. Obviously, we have very different ideas about how much each of them is supported by facts.

    You, on the other hand, deny the scientific status to both theories. we differ from you, and you differ from us. And I am happy to side with Dawkins on that point.

    You insist that because human beings are conscious and can design complex machinery, then something with a human-like mind must be responsible for inventing biological systems, but of course you have no evidence that such is the case. Moreover, since an undefined “conscious agency” is not a well-understood entity, it is not possible to event evaluate the evidence to see if it matches ID’s claims or not.

    Re-writing:

    “I insist that because conscious human beings are the only kind of known agent that can design objects exhibiting dFSCI, then something with similar conscious faculties is a good explanation for the only other example of objects exhibiting dFSCI, biological systems. My evidence for that is the presence of dFSCI in them. My hypothesis can certainly be tested both against already known facts and against new facts, because the design process implies specific observable consequences in what we observe, consequences that cannot be explained by any other theory.”

    That’s better, isn’t it?

    That is why I reject both Darwinism and ID. The Darwinists will cry that I’ve rejected their well-supported theory, and you cry that I’ve rejected yours, and you’ll continue to battle in vain because neither of you are willing to take the evidence for what it is and be humble enough to know when we simply don’t understand something. Your idea that we simply must choose one of these two very bad theories is nonsense.

    I can’t speak for darwinists, but I certainly don’t cry for that. You are perfectly allowed to reject my theory. I can live very well with that. Rejecting or accepting a theory is a personal privilege. I am happy that you are using that privilege.

    I don’t know why you say that I am “battling in vain”. I am certainly batlling, but why in vain? Because I cannot convince you? But that has never been my priority, indeed not even my purpose. As I have said many times, my purpose in not to convince anybody, just to share my views and, if possible, to make them well understood. So, I will go on battling, and I hope it is not in vain.

    You don’t seem to understand the fundamentals of AI either. Many computer systems do not have “specific algorithms” that the programmer designs; instead, the system uses learning techniques and sub-symbolic processing of various forms that shape the behavior of the system in unpredictable ways as it interacts with its environment. For you to say that the sentence generated by such a system is not CSI, but the same sentence uttered by a human being does have CSI, is very confused indeed. And you failed to respond to my point: If everything a computer does is attributable to its designer, why isn’t everything that a human being does attribute to its designer?

    I really think that strong AI theory is nonsense. You seem to believe in part of that nonsense. I don’t.

    Computer systems only perform the algorithms that have been designed in them. They do nothing else. Please, explain what they should be able to do, that is not a necessary result of their algorithms, given the inputs.

    The fact that we cannot predict the results does not mean that they are not algorithmic.

    Instead, there is no evidence that human consciousness and its activities are merely algorithmic. Indeed, there are very good reasons to believe the opposite (see, also, Penrose).

    You ask: “If everything a computer does is attributable to its designer, why isn’t everything that a human being does attribute to its designer?”.

    Well, because human beings are non merely algorithmic agents, conscious free agents.

    And when computer scientists design and implement their information representations, and when the computer system assembles representations of the sentences it is going to display, those representations… do not exist, because the computer is not conscious?

    Exactly.

    This is terribly confused, really it is. Computer representations exist, as any computer scientist will gladly explain to you.

    As you should have understood by now, with “representation” I mean a subjective state where the form is perceived by an I. If any computer scientist gladly explains to me that a computer has subjective states where it represents forms, I will gladly refute his explanation.

    Computer systems routinely generate meaningful, contextually appropriate, grammatical sentences in natural language (like English) that have never before been seen or conceived of by any human. This is a fact. You simply deny it, and pretend that computers are incapable of such things, because it conflicts with your particular (and rather odd) philosophy of mind.

    I do deny that computer systems can generate new, original dFSCI. Please, bring the evidence that they can, and we can discuss it.

    I am not talking about the consequences of the theory! Rather, I am talking about the assumptions that the theory makes! The problem isn’t that the theory indicates some particular metaphysics! Rather, the problem is that you must believe in particular metaphysics or else the theory doesn’t make sense!

    Your use of language, here, is almost as bad as your epistemology. It is not necessary to “believe” in an assumption, to assume it in a theory. Again, it’s like saying that one must “believe” a priori in the Big Bang to assume it in a Big Bang theory. Luckily, that is not the case.

    Big Bang Theory rests on physical principles that we can observe to be true. It doesn’t assume any unknown forces, properties of matter or energy, or any unknown immaterial causes in order to coherently express what BB Theory claims happened at the beginning of the universe. BB Theory proceeds to make highly specific predictions that have subsequently been confirmed. That is why BB Theory is a valid scientific result.

    So, then origin of space and time from an undefined singularity is a well known process?

    ID Theory rests on metaphysical commitments that cannot be evaluated scientifically. In order to believe in ID, you must accept that conscious agency is capable of doing things that no combination of chance and fixed law is capable of doing. In other words, you must believe that mind transcends physical causation. That is the starting point of ID – if you don’t believe that at the outset, you will not believe ID theory, period. But of course nobody can show that this assumption is in fact the case! It is a faith-based assumption that you have made, because once you believe that, you can go on to build a theory that you like. Beyond that, ID Theory makes no specific predictions that can subsequently be confirmed or falsified, because the idea of “conscious agency” is inherently capable of explaining any observation that could ever take place. That is why ID is not a valid scientific theory.

    Re-writing:

    “In order to believe in ID, you must assume that conscious agency is capable of doing things that no combination of chance and fixed law is capable of doing, which is very much supported by the empirical fact that dFSCI is observed only in designed systems, and never in non designed systems (leaving undecided biological systems, which are exactly what we are trying to understand). In other words, you must accept as possible that mind can transcend physical causation. That is the starting point of ID – if you don’t accept that as a possibility, because of your specific worldview, you will not believe ID theory, period. But of course nobody can show that such a denial of that possibility is in fact the case! It is a faith-based assumption that you have made, because once you deny that, you can go on denying a theory that you dislike.
    ID Theory makes specific predictions that can subsequently be confirmed or falsified, because the idea of conscious design is inherently capable of explaining dFSCI, and the specific observation of dFSCI in ever new forms, that cannot be explained by known laws and by reasonable random systems, is constant support for the theory. That is why ID is a valid scientific theory.”

    Hahaha! Exactly! You think this discounts my point, but you’ve actually undercut your own position. Of course we do not know if anything in our minds transcend physical causality – that is what I have been trying to explain to you! The problem is that you blithely ignore this inconvenient fact and pretend that this is a known fact, or that it doesn’t matter if we take these things on faith. It does matter: You can’t build a scientific theory on the quicksand of unsubstantiated assumptions!

    You really don’t understand. Because we don’t know, it is equally legitimate to assume both that out minds do not transcend physical causality, and that they do, in a scientific theory. And the, test the theory for its explanatory power.

    It is dogma to reject a reasonable assumption only because we “don’t know” that it is true. Therefore, Dawkins and I are right, and you are wrong. And dogmatic.

    Finally! I was waiting for this one.

    The fact is, ID blatantly equivocates: On one hand, ID could be the hypothesis that life on Earth was designed by life elsewhere. This hypothesis is consistent with our understanding of intelligent agency, and living things, and does not require metaphysical speculation regarding the existence of disembodied minds in order to accept it. However, this is a terrible theory for several reasons, among which is the simple fact that once we posit extra-terrestrial life forms, it is much simpler to assume that we are the descendents of these beings, rather than the products of their bio-engineering efforts.

    ID is the hypothesis that life on earth was designed. Aliens are a legitimate possibility, compatible with ID theory. I am not specially interested in discussing it, because it is not my theory.

    The theory that we are the descendants of those beings is legitimate, but it is not an ID theory (it does not imply design, but simply generation). I believe, however, that you should detail it better. What do you mean by “the descendants of those beings”? What are you referring to? Bacteria? All living beings?

    You see, the problem for ID is to explain dFSCI. New dFSCI appears throughout the whole natural history. So, I am not sure I understand what your theory of “descendance” really means.

    On the other hand, ID could be the hypothesis that life on Earth was designed by something that did not have a complex physical body at all. This hypothesis flies in the face of everything we know about intelligent agency, however, and would require actual evidence that such a thing – which has never been observed – could actually exist.

    Another theory compatible with ID is the hypothesis that life on Earth was designed by something that did not have a complex physical body at all. That’s correct.And it flies in the face of nothing.

    And how is it that now, suddenly, we know so many things about intelligent agency? I thought your position was that we “don’t know”. It seems that we only know things when it is convenient for your argument.

    However, I would really like your response to this (most ID folks choose to ignore this one, for obvious reasons): Why would you accept the theory that alien life forms designed life on Earth, but not that life on Earth was simply descendent from those life forms?

    I can certainly accept both theories, although I would appreciate if you detailed better the second one. Why not? I accept them. I only prefer mine, as the best explanation.

    As I have stated immediately after:

    “The reason why I prefer non physical designers to that scenario are in part scientific, in part philosophical. But the design inference remains valid, whatever kind of designer we choose to hypothesize.”

    To be more clear, if each living species on earth is the descendant of some alien species, that is an explanation, and dFSCI is explained (on earth), because the dFSCI of each species was already present in the alien species. That is an explanation. Everybody can decide how good it is.

    You’ve dodged the question yet again. Once more: Name one single thing that a “conscious agent” is incapable of doing.

    I have dodged nothing. I have explained that I only assume that he is able to output dFSCI to objects. Why do you ask me what he is incapable of doing, when my theory will never ask anything else of him?

    I can name inummerable things that evolutionary processes are incapable of doing. I can name things that gravity cannot do, that electrons cannot do, that germs cannot do; for any valid scientific explanation (this excludes Darwinism) you can name, you will see that the explanatory constructs are defined in a way such that they can cause some things and not others. In contrast, you cannot say one single thing that a “conscious agent” is incapable of doing! This is yet another reason why ID is a non-starter as a scientific theory.

    This is another example of terrible reasoning. The problem with “evolutionary processes” is simply that they cannot generate new dFSCI. It is not that they cannot, say, shape planets or redeem souls. Why? Because it’s dFSCI that they are supposed to explain.

    That conscious intelligent agents can generate dFSCI is empirically observed. Whatever else they can, or cannot do is not pertinent.

    In other words, you are simply declaring a faith-based opinion that no other explanation will ever be found for the existence of functional protein sequences. You simply insist that there can be nothing we do not already understand that could constrain the processes that result in these sequences such that they function in living metabolisms. You are exactly like the people who insisted that no possible explanation could ever be found for the highly improbable sequence of lightning strikes – except God!

    Re-writing:

    “I am declaring very reasonably that no explanation has been found for the existence of functional protein sequences, according to known laws of biochemistry and biology and statistics. I insist that there is nothing that we understand that can constrain the processes that result in these sequences such that they function in living metabolisms, except conscious design. And that there are no reasonable arguments to believe that any law of necessity, even if presently unknown, or random system, can ever explain that kind of functional complexity. However, I remain ready to evaluate any reasonable theory, if and when it is proposed.”

    It is this objection of yours that is bad, I’m afraid: OF COURSE lightning is not protein! The point – which you seem very determined to miss – is that we do not know what we do not know! The Boston scientists thought they knew everything, and so they felt justified in saying there could never be any explanation of the churches being struck except for intelligent agency. They were wrong. ID scientists think they know everything, and so they feel justified in saying there could never be any explanation for protein sequences except for intelligent agency. They are wrong: Same mistake both times.

    I will simply repeat my objection (for the last time). It is not bad at all.

    “No. Functional configurations of digital “switches” are completely different from lightening. Again, you banalize, and refuse to deal with the true arguments of ID. Your arguments are generally good, but this one is very bad. IMO.”

    This would be helpful save for the inconvenient fact that ID provides no empirical method by which to observe when conscious designers intervene!!! How are we supposed to falsify ID by finding a complex body plan that arose without conscious design when we have no idea how to look at some complex body plan and then decide no conscious design was involved??? Don’t you see? EVERY complex body plan you see you simply DECIDE that conscious design was involved – you don’t observe the intervention!

    The meaning of my point is very simple. If you can just produce a system in a lab, which generates new dFSCI without any intervention of a designer, that will falsify ID. I will not assume that a non physical designer has intervened in your lab just to frustrate us all.

    In the same way, if you can show that biochemical and biological laws can explain biological dFSCI, you have falsified biological ID. That is very simple to do for proteins. You only need to show that neo darwinism can really explain the proteins, detailing a pathway to them where NS can really act, lowering the statistical improbability enough to bring it in the range of empirically possible events. That would falsify biological ID (at least for proteins).

    Really – just take a look at what you’re saying. Give us some hypothetical, counter-factual scenario where some biological complex body plan is observed, and we SOMEHOW can determine that no conscious designer was involved, thus falisifying your theory. That’s right – you can’t do it.

    It’s perfectly possible to do that, as I have clearly show. Remember, we need not determine that no conscious designer was involved. It’s more than enough to show that the physical system considered could do it.

    And so while intelligent agents operate on a time scale of days, months, or years, biological systems are found to take hundreds of millions of years. Why isn’t this a problem for ID? Because no matter what we observe, ID proponents will always say that it is consistent with conscious agency, that’s why.

    Different living beings operate at different time scales. That is not a problem for ID. I really don’t understand why it’s a problem for you.

    Wrong, because there is no test to reveal whether or not a complex biological system was the result of conscious design or some other unknown process.

    Why? If you correctly set a system in your lab, and new dFSCI emerges, that’s it. Even a computer experiment could falsify ID by correctly generating new original dFSCI.

    Wrong, because showing that theory A does is not a falsification of theory B. Now that we know Darwinism is false, we need to be able to figure out what theory is true. In order to test to see if ID is true or not, we need something that would be inconsistent with ID to see if that ever happens. But because nothing is ever inconsistent with ID, that can’t be done.

    Nonsense. If neo darwinism is shown to be able to explain biological complexity, ID is falsified, because it rests on the observation that no known algorithm can explain that. Neo darwinism is a known algorithm. And it cannot explain biological complexity. But if it could, ID would be falsified.

    So, that possibility is something that is inconsistent with ID theory, and would falsify it.

    It absolutely would not be a problem for ID at all of course, because there is no reason a conscious designer could not design selectable intermediates!

    That clearly shows that you simply don’t understand ID theory. ID theory is about detectable design, not about design in general.

    It can be true that, even if neo darwinism were shown to explain proteins, somebody could still argue that they are designed by a designer who chose to use neo darwinism, or just to simulate it. That would not be an objection compatible with ID reasoning. Because, in any case, even if those proteins were designed, design would not be objectively detectable, and ID theory would be falsified just the same.

    IOWs, if dFSCI can be explained without a conscious designer, ID theory is falsified.

    And you don’t understand what ID theory is.

    Give it up, GP – just admit that the “conscious agents” hypothesis is compatible with every possible observation, and so you are just pretending that ID can be falsified by saying that proving some other theory true would falsify it. Don’t you see that you have falsified Darwinism without any reference at all to ID or any other theory? The reason you could falsify Darwinism is because Darwinism happens to be a scientific theory! But you can’t falsify ID because it explains every possible observation that could ever be make by invoking the same unseen, untestable cause.

    Well, I really don’t think I will give it up.

    And I certainly don’t ask you to give it up. Please, go on. Do what you believe to be right, defend what you believe to be right.

    I would simply politely ask that you don’t involve me in a simple repetition of well understood arguments. Thank you.

  164. 165

    @UB:

    He did not write that sentence, you did.

    Yes.

    ID is a scientific project, as such its appropriately limited to material evidence. If you were expecting something else, then you should rethink your expectations.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m talking about the current situation of ID. ID is in its infancy; and that’s why it’s useless (naturally it’s not useless for the scientists invested in ID).

    Furthermore watching how the UD discussions onfold with all the culture wars and materialism vs. non-materialism is really frustrating, since it sometimes poisons the atmosphere and doesn’t further the ID-ideas (yes I do understand that UD is just a blog).

    That will be a welcomed outcome.

    I wholeheartedly believe that nearly all humans who ever lived, regardless of their current religion or their criminal records, will eventually live in paradise.

    Christianity is not a science, its the following of Jesus Christ.

    Christianity makes some remarkable claims about the design of our universe. If you want to know the “when”, “what”, and “who” of the ID-issues, at the moment you NEED Christianity.

  165. R D Fish can’t seem to grasp the fact that all scientific theories are metaphysically-based. To the whole world’s loss, materialism is the prevailing metaphysical paradigm, hence rendering the scientific endeavour a completely vacuous self-referential metaphysic. An epistemological eunuch.

    No wonder atheists have never produced a major paradigm-changing pioneer; journeymen all, myopic myrmidons, drudges, leeching on quantum mechanics and Big Bang cosmology – which are, of course, magic and mumbo-jumbo to them. Although in these contexts, of course, you won’t hear them utter the words, ‘magic’ or ‘mumbo-jumbo’.

    ‘Non-locality’, the supernatural’, is now established beyond all peradventure. It is a total game-changer, but asking them to admit it, is to ask them to admit they have been charlatans, deliberately blinding themselves to the truth.

  166. Hi Upright BiPed,

    RD, you refuse to evaluate the evidence for design, and your entire schtick is designed to insulate you from having to address that evidence.

    I made my point quite clearly in my last post to you, but you have failed to respond to it, and the reason you have failed to respond to it is because you have no response. No matter how you attack me, you can’t change the fact of the matter: ID fails to define the term “designer” in a way that allows the ID hypotheses to be evaluated against the evidence.

    If you disagree, then simply provide examples (or even one single example) of something we might find in the fossil record, or in living biological systems, or anywhere else, that would 1) indicate that some conscious being existed before life on Earth (this would help to support ID), or 2) was beyond the abilities of a “conscious agent” to produce (this would falsify ID).

    I think we both know you obviously can’t provide an example for #2, since by your silence you’ve conceded that there is nothing that we could not imagine a “conscious agent” is capable of doing. (After all, you think “conscious agents” can create a universe!)

    As for #1, you’ll just trot out the same old arguments against Darwinism. News flash: I already don’t believe in Darwinism! I already know it can’t account for OOL or biological CSI! So for once, see if you can provide one iota of evidence that a conscious agent designed life on Earth WITHOUT MENTIONING any other theory that neither of us believes in.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  167. Hi StephenB,

    Here are some points I made in my last post to you that you dodged:

    1) I pointed out that since ID refuses to say what “conscious agents” cannot do (they can even create universes, apparently!), it is impossible to show that ID is false. However, ID folks spend all their time falsifying Darwinism, which they can do only because Darwinism is a scientific theory that can in fact be falsified. Darwinism can be shown to be false, but ID can’t even be evaluated against the evidence.

    2) You said “We reject Darwinism because it cannot support its extravagant claims with even a shred of evidence. ID, on the other hand, does not make extravagant claims.” I pointed out that claiming a “conscious agent” is responsible for everything from flagella to the size of the moon to the physical constants to the creation of the universe is about as extravagant as you can get.

    3) I pointed out that showing how something could NOT have come to exist is not the same as showing how something DID come to exist.

    I think you dodged these points because you have no response to them.

    There may be some who hypothesize a transcendent mind, but there is no instance of such a hypothesis being transformed into a metaphysical assumption that gets smuggled into the process of making a design inference. It doesn’t happen. It can’t happen.

    If an intelligent system can be reduced to nothing but chance and necessity (i.e. if dualism/libertarianism is false), then the EF obviously can’t work – it doesn’t even make sense. And ID could not claim that no combination of chance and necessity could ever produce CSI, since human thought itself would be a combination of chance and necessity. That is why ID requires that dualism/libertarianism is true, and that another reason why ID is not a scientific theory.

    ID says simply that intelligence is a different kind of cause than chance and necessity and that the former can be prescinded from the latter.

    Either human thought can be reduced to chance and necessity or it cannot. If it can, then ID is wrong from the outset: Intelligence is not a different kind of cause at all. Therefore, in order for ID to be true, we must assume that intelligence can not be reduced to chance and necessity. In other words, ID must assume dualism/libertarianism.

    Any implication of dualism is a conclusion that follows from the evidence, (or from the obvious fact that an effect is not identical with its cause) not a presupposition that leads or informs the process of inferring design. I believe that I have explained this to you perhaps fifty times.

    You are plainly wrong, as I just clearly showed. Quote what I just wrote and tell me exactly what I said that was wrong and why – don’t dodge my arguments or change the topic.

    In keeping with that point, I have a question for you: Do you think the design and the designer are one and the same thing? Please answer and explain.

    I’d be happy to, because I don’t dodge your points like you dodge mine. The designer and the design are not the same thing, but neither are they ontologically distinct things. As far as we know, both the watch and the watchmaker operate according to the same physical laws. It is certainly possible that human watchmakers somehow transcend these physical laws when producing watches; if so, then we would say that dualism/libertarianism is true. But that is not a scientific fact, it is just a philosophical speculation.

    Ok, now here is what I said @146:

    RDF: As I’ve explained 100 times to you, the assumption of dualism is found in ID’s claim that intelligence transcends chance and necessity. This is metaphysical speculation masquerading as a scientifically sound principle.

    And here is how you quoted me:

    RDF: This [irreducible complexity] is metaphysical speculation masquerading as a scientifically sound principle.

    I assume this was just an honest mistake on your part – it isn’t “irreducible complexity” that I believe is a metaphysical speculation, it is “dualism/libertarianism”, which comes out in ID as treating “intelligent cause” as fundamentally distinct from “chance and necessity”.

    *If life was designed, we would progressively discover a top-down rather than a bottom up pattern of new fossil forms.

    Why in the world would you think that a “conscious agent” would implement “top-down” rather than “bottom-up”? As it happens, I build software systems “bottom-up”.

    *If life was designed, we would progressively find evidence that allegedly bad designs contained an internal functional logic.

    Why in the world would you assume a “conscious agent” wouldn’t just produce a bad design without an “internal functional logic”? Maybe the “conscious agent” isn’t great at bio-engineering, or maybe He had a bad day… How could you possibly know?

    These are not predictions that derive from some particular model of intelligent agency that ID has put together. Rather, they are just things that ID folks make up out of thin air. Where is the science that says all possible conscious agents would implement a biological taxonomy “top-down” rather than “bottom-up”? There is none, of course.

    Without some characterization of what a “conscious agent” is, what it does, and what it does not do, you don’t have a theory at all. And no, you can’t just look at all the evidence and say “Whatever we find in the fossil record, well that is what a conscious would do!

    I get it. First, you say I am bluffing and cannot provide any predictions, and then you say that the predictions that I present (and wasn’t bluffing about after all) will prove to be unsatisfactory in the end.

    Oh come on, it’s worse than that. It isn’t just that your predictions are unsatisfactory; it is that they are not actually predictions from your theory. Nothing about “conscious agent” implies anything about how good or bad the design is going to be, nothing about if the production will be top-down or bottom-up… the term “conscious agent” is compatible with every possibly observation.

    [a] To base an argument for design on the digital information in the cell is to make an empirical case.
    [b] To base an argument for design on the irreducible complexity of molecular machines is to make an empirical case.
    etc…

    These have nothing at all to do with “conscious agency”. All these show is that evolutionary theory can’t account for what we observe in biology.

    There is simply no way to extract a metaphysical assumption from any of these arguments.

    Again, the metaphysical assumption is that mental causation transcends physical causation. Unless you believe that going in, ID doesn’t make sense.

    Listen: If dualism/libertarianism were true, ID would indeed be a meaningful and coherent theory, and maybe even a good theory. We would know that there was some causal thing – a substance, a field, a property, whatever – that was inherently mental, and had the power to arrange matter. Given that, we might well decide that yes, somehow this res cogitans (or whatever it was) was likely involved in producing biological complexity. We still wouldn’t have any idea what currently unknown sort of entity was responsible, but we would be referring to something real when we said that immaterial mind was the cause.

    And conversely, if materialism were true, ID would be a non-starter as a theory, since whatever could be done by an intelligent agent like a human being could also be accomplished by other processes that consisted of nothing but chance and necessity. We still wouldn’t have any idea what currently unknown sort of material process was responsible for biological complexity, but it would nonsense to say that chance and necessity couldn’t account for it, since everything (even intelligent agency) would be nothing but chance and necessity.

    As much as you wish it were the case that dualism/libertarianism were true, there is no good reason to believe it. We can’t test it, we can’t detect it, we can’t infer it from empirical evidence. There are philosophical arguments for and against it, just as there have been for millenia, but in the end, nobody knows the solution to the mind/body problem.

    And that is one main reason why ID is not a scientific theory – because it needs dualism and libertarian free will to be true in order for it to even be meaningful, and nobody knows if dualism/libertarianism is true or not.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  168. Hi Optimus,

    In fact I rather thought it was quite amusing. As has been patiently explained ad nauseam, there is no way to determine the limits of a designing agent from examining the products of said designer. The only thing that can be reliably, consistently ascertained from examining a designed object is the minimum capability of the designer.

    Ok, you have made your mistake crystal clear, thanks.

    What you just said is that you look at the phenomena we wish to explain (say certain features of biological systems) and then simply assume that whatever you observe, this hypothetical “agent” that you postulate is capable of creating! You decide in advance that whatever you see will be within the “minimum capability of the designer”, so no matter what you ever see, you will always adjust your hypothesis so that it encompasses your observation!

    It is just amazing that you (and others here) don’t understand why this is a perfectly ridiculous way to approach science! Can’t you see that you can never tell if this “designer” that you are dreaming up actually exists, since no matter what the evidence is, you simply say “That must be within the minimum capability of the designer!”

    But as that would require the existence and activity of human beings before human beings existed (discounting time travel paradoxes), we must therefore discard the specific hypothesis that human agency was at play in producing the functional information present in biology. But we still have to account for the origin and subsequent existence of biological information. What if we modify the hypothesis of human activity by positing some nonhuman form of consciousness? Such a nonhuman consciousness would at minimum be capable of producing the same sort of functional information that humans produce.

    So far so good, except you are assuming this nonhuman activity was conscious, which is a hypothesis that would have to be supported as well. Perhaps there is such a thing as a non-human entity that produces CSI without consciousness (human beings produce a great deal of CSI without conscious awareness, after all, and nobody understands how conscious awareness is actually involved in thought processes, whether it is causal or perceptual).

    The proposal of a nonhuman consciousness readily follows from the available data and simple logic.

    Some unknown “nonhuman consciousness” is not any sort of explanation of anything. I could just as well hypothesize some unknown physical process that produces CSI and call that an explanation. You scoff at the idea of course, but it is no less speculative or unjustified than your hypothesis of an unknown consciousness.

    This would be different if you were talking about something that we had knowledge of, which would be a nonhuman life form – some complex organism similar to human beings that could sense its physical surroundings with some sort of sense organs, process information with some sort of nervous system, and so on. We do know (from Earthly species) that these sorts of things exist. But you and I both know that this hypothesis – life on Earth came from life elsewhere – is a bad theory.

    I merely pointed out the absurdity of requiring independent confirmation of the existence of a designer when there is no other credible explanation for the origin of functional information.

    And this is precisely what people mean by “god of the gaps” reasoning. The lack of an explanation is not support for the hypothesis of an undefined entity that is hypothesized to have minimum capabilities that will explain anything we ever want to explain that we don’t understand already.

    If ‘A’ and only ‘A’ is capable of causing ‘B’, the presence of ‘B’ necessarily indicates ‘A’.

    But you’ve already tried and discarded that hypothesis: Humans can’t logically have been responsible. You then decide that immaterial consciousness is a type of ‘A’, but you can’t provide any evidence that is the case, and so your solution remains a philosophical or religious belief instead of a scientific result. (And if you do NOT say that it is an immaterial consciousness, but rather an embodied life form, then you have other obvious problems).

    And we understand a great deal about information and what is required to produce it.

    We know that complex physical mechanism is required to process information (which itself is a huge problem for ID). But as far as designing complex mechanisms, you couldn’t be more wrong: We know next to nothing about how human beings manage to design things. We know a lot about brains, but we do not actually understand how we think.

    Hence we can with some measure of confidence infer the involvement of conscious activity in the origin of life.

    Very wrong: If you familiarize yourself with cognitive psychology you will realize that we have no idea what role, if any, conscious awareness plays in our problem solving and other mental abilities. Much of our planning, problem solving, and even goal setting occurs without conscious awareness!

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  169. Hi gpuccio,

    Dawkins and I differ in many things, but we have one thing in common (if I understand well what he thinks): we both believe that both neo darwinism and ID are legitimate scientific theories. Obviously, we have very different ideas about how much each of them is supported by facts.

    You, on the other hand, deny the scientific status to both theories. we differ from you, and you differ from us. And I am happy to side with Dawkins on that point.

    No this isn’t true. I believe that Darwinism is a scientific theory, and I also believe that the version of ID that posits life on Earth coming from extra-terrestrial life is also a scientific theory (they are both bad theories, but scientific nonetheless). I do not believe that the version of ID that refers only to “intelligent causation” is a scientific theory, because it is not sufficiently well defined to assess against the evidence.

    I really think that strong AI theory is nonsense. You seem to believe in part of that nonsense. I don’t.

    “Strong AI” isn’t even actually a theory (it’s just an hypothesis, an open question), much less one I believe in. In any even, your understanding of computer systems is such that it would take a great deal of effort to explain why you mistaken about the things you say regarding AI, and I don’t think it is actually worth the effort. If you’d like to learn something interesting that might change your understanding of a lot of these issues, I would suggest taking a class like “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”, or perhaps read a book on the subject.

    You ask: “If everything a computer does is attributable to its designer, why isn’t everything that a human being does attribute to its designer?”.

    Well, because human beings are non merely algorithmic agents, conscious free agents.

    You make philosophical assumptions that cannot be tested or demonstrated, which is fine – but it is not empirical science. If you believe there is any empirical evidence that what you just said is true, please provide citations to the relevant literature. Otherwise, you should concede that dualism and libertarianism are philosophical arguments rather than scientific results, and that these metaphysical commitments underlie your belief in ID as well.

    RDF: Big Bang Theory rests on physical principles that we can observe to be true. It doesn’t assume any unknown forces, properties of matter or energy, or any unknown immaterial causes in order to coherently express what BB Theory claims happened at the beginning of the universe. BB Theory proceeds to make highly specific predictions that have subsequently been confirmed. That is why BB Theory is a valid scientific result.
    GP: So, then origin of space and time from an undefined singularity is a well known process?

    Did I say that? No. Read what I wrote. I will repeat this for you (because you do apparently require repetition to aid your comprehension, despite the fact you dislike it). The notion of a singularity is not just something scientists made in their imaginations; they are implied by mathematical formulas that have been experimentally tested and observationally confirmed in thousands of different ways. Beyond that, the predictions of the Big Bang models are very specific, would be highly unlikely to be observed if the Big Bang model were false, and have been observationally confirmed.

    ID is nothing like this, obviously.

    In order to believe in ID, you must assume that conscious agency is capable of doing things that no combination of chance and fixed law is capable of doing, which is very much supported by the empirical fact that dFSCI is observed only in designed systems, and never in non designed systems

    Again I need to repeat what I’ve said, because you fail to either read or understand these simple points. I’ll use bold font in the hope that it will catch your attention. The process of design is not known to transcend chance and necessity.

    Because we don’t know, it is equally legitimate to assume both that out minds do not transcend physical causality, and that they do, in a scientific theory. And the, test the theory for its explanatory power.

    Absolute nonsense! It is not legitimate at all to make untestable metaphysical assumptions and call it a scientific theory! Explanatory power in no way justifies this! Here is an illustration of why you are wrong:

    I hypothesize a force called “X-Force”. The properties of this force are as follows: It produces dFSCI, in particular complex biological systems. It also creates crop circles, and sets the physical constants of the universe, which it caused to exist. Now, let’s see how well my X-Force theory works: It explains everything fully! Perfect explanatory power! It explains the origin of life, universal fine-tuning, and even crop circles! What a great theory, right?

    Wrong. Even though it has great explanatory power, X-Force theory is ridiculous because we have no way to establish that X-Force exists.

    Do you see now?

    It is dogma to reject a reasonable assumption only because we “don’t know” that it is true. Therefore, Dawkins and I are right, and you are wrong. And dogmatic.

    No, you are terribly confused. Of course it is perfectly reasonable to reject a theory because it cannot be supported by evidence! Do you reject X-Force theory? If so, then by your own reasoning, you are exactly as dogmatic as you accuse me of being. And if not, you are astonishingly credulous, and I wouldn’t trust your judgement enough cross the street unattended.

    ID is the hypothesis that life on earth was designed. Aliens are a legitimate possibility, compatible with ID theory. I am not specially interested in discussing it, because it is not my theory.

    And because it is a perfectly terrible theory too.

    The theory that we are the descendants of those beings is legitimate, but it is not an ID theory (it does not imply design, but simply generation). I believe, however, that you should detail it better. What do you mean by “the descendants of those beings”? What are you referring to? Bacteria? All living beings?

    LOL! Why don’t you detail ID theory better? Where does the Designer reside? How does He manipulate matter? What equipment did He use? Why did He make so many different kinds of beetles?

    You see, the problem for ID is to explain dFSCI. New dFSCI appears throughout the whole natural history. So, I am not sure I understand what your theory of “descendance” really means.

    I mean that once you posit life existing elsewhere (as in ID-ET theory), you might as well say that the dFSCI we observe in biological systems all existed on another planet somewhere and was somehow transported to Earth. It’s a very stupid theory, but it is still better than theorizing that these aliens designed and built the species on Earth!

    Another theory compatible with ID is the hypothesis that life on Earth was designed by something that did not have a complex physical body at all. That’s correct.And it flies in the face of nothing.

    You are very confused again. If you can provide evidence of entities that can design things and experience consciousness without the benefit of a complex body, please do tell. Otherwise, you are being quite silly to suggest such things are within our shared experience.

    And how is it that now, suddenly, we know so many things about intelligent agency? I thought your position was that we “don’t know”. It seems that we only know things when it is convenient for your argument.

    Hahahaha! We know about the organisms we observe on Earth, including human beings! We do not know about hypothetical entities that you make up in your imagination!

    RDF: You’ve dodged the question yet again. Once more: Name one single thing that a “conscious agent” is incapable of doing.
    GP: I have dodged nothing. I have explained that I only assume that he is able to output dFSCI to objects. Why do you ask me what he is incapable of doing, when my theory will never ask anything else of him?

    This is important, so I hope you will read it. The reason you have to say what this Designer is incapable of doing is because you claim ID is an empirical theory. That means you have to test your theory against observable evidence. Unless you say what the Designer cannot do, you can logically never make any sort of observation that will be contrary to your explanation.

    It would be like me saying the X-Force does whatever is needed to explain anything I ever observe. That way, whenever I see something I can’t explain, I just say “X-Force did it!”. It’s not that I’m saying X-Force is omnipotent; I simply decide that it can account for anything I ever observe.

    Do you see the problem with this?

    The rest of your post consists of you repeating failed arguments that I’ve already countered, so I will not repeat my arguments again.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  170. RDFish, you say:

    1) I pointed out that since ID refuses to say what “conscious agents” cannot do (they can even create universes, apparently!), it is impossible to show that ID is false. However, ID folks spend all their time falsifying Darwinism, which they can do only because Darwinism is a scientific theory that can in fact be falsified. Darwinism can be shown to be false, but ID can’t even be evaluated against the evidence.

    You are wrong and it has been explained to you why you are wrong.

    If an intelligent system can be reduced to nothing but chance and necessity (i.e. if dualism/libertarianism is false), then the EF obviously can’t work – it doesn’t even make sense.

    Bulloney. The design inference would be falsified if an intelligent system can be reduced to nothing but chance and necessity- duh.

    Here RDFish- testable ID claims:

    Darwinism, Design and Public Education page 92:

    1. High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.

    2. Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.

    3. Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.

    4. Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.

    And that is why ID is scientific.

  171. RDFish:

    Your whole post (#170) consists of you repeating failed arguments that I’ve already countered, so I will not repeat my arguments again.

    Ah, that’s really fine. I can rest, at last!

  172. 173

    simply provide examples (or even one single example) of something we might find in the fossil record, or in living biological systems, or anywhere else, that would 1) indicate that some conscious being existed before life on Earth

    1) A translation apparatus producing unambiguous function, with the following physical system:

    • A set of arrangements of matter to evoke specific physical effects within a system, where the arrangements of the matter are physicochemically arbitrary to the effects they evoke

    • A preserved discontinuity between the arrangements of the information-bearing medium and the effects they evoke within the system

    • A second set of arrangements of matter to establish the otherwise non-existent (i.e. local) relationships between the arrangements of the information-bearing medium and their effects.

    2) A translation apparatus that also includes:

    • An information-bearing medium using a finite set of objects as an iterative dimensional representation, requiring systematic constraints in addition to the mapping of effects (i.e. establishment of the object set, symbol syntax, a start function, a stop function, etc).

    • An information-bearing medium whose individuating characteristics are thermodynamically inert.

    - – - – - – - – - – -

    Set #1 is only found within the living kingdom (i.e. a universal inference to pre-existing organization), and set #2 is only found in the translation of language and mathematics (i.e. a universal inference to higher intelligence).

    - – - – - – - – - – -

    You may now return to rocking back and forth in your chair, demanding that we know of nothing which can accomplish these tasks without a physical body. At that point we can return to where I asked the simple question “How does not being able to identify a physical designer at the origin of life alter the observations” and you proceeded to have an emotional and accusatory meltdown.

    I’m not interested in doing it again.

  173. RDF: (Compaining that I dodged his question)

    I pointed out that since ID refuses to say what “conscious agents” cannot do (they can even create universes, apparently!), it is impossible to show that ID is false. However, ID folks spend all their time falsifying Darwinism, which they can do only because Darwinism is a scientific theory that can in fact be falsified. Darwinism can be shown to be false, but ID can’t even be evaluated against the evidence.

    I have no reason to dodge your questions. I asked you to tell me precisely which conscious agent you were talking about so I could answer the question. I also went into great detail to explain why you needed to be specific. Not all conscious agents have the same abilities. I also explained that your question was irrelevant but that I would answer it anyway if you would specify which agent you were referring to. You simply laughed off my request. So, in this case, you are not telling the truth.

    You said “We reject Darwinism because it cannot support its extravagant claims with even a shred of evidence. ID, on the other hand, does not make extravagant claims.” I pointed out that claiming a “conscious agent” is responsible for everything from flagella to the size of the moon to the physical constants to the creation of the universe is about as extravagant as you can get.

    I define extravagant in this context as stretching the relationship between what is claimed and what is demonstrated. ID doesn’t make that stretch; Darwinism does.

    I pointed out that showing how something could NOT have come to exist is not the same as showing how something DID come to exist.

    Everyone already knows this, including me.

    Either human thought can be reduced to chance and necessity or it cannot. If it can, then ID is wrong from the outset: Intelligence is not a different kind of cause at all. Therefore, in order for ID to be true, we must assume that intelligence can not be reduced to chance and necessity. In other words, ID must assume dualism/libertarianism.

    Intelligence is most definitely a different kind of cause than chance/necessity. Otherwise, there would be no way of identifying it. Also, you are apparently unaware of a few ID proponents who believe that an eternal nature is said to contain a law-like process that generates design There are, strange as it seems, ID monists. One of them, Bruce David, posts here. So, your entire premise is faulty. But let’s discuss the dualistic aspect to ease your mind.

    I will try one more time to help you out here. There are two ways to “assume” that intelligence cannot be reduced to chance and necessity. One is scientifically legitimate, the other is not. To [a] hypothesize that an intelligent agent transcends chance and necessity for the sake of evaluating the reasonableness of that proposition with empirical evidence and a rigorous methodological process (legitimate) is not at all the same thing as [b] making an apriori metaphysical commitment to the truth of that hypothesis and smuggling it into the process that is supposed to be evaluating it (not legitimate). To do [a] is to follow the evidence wherever it leads; to do [b] is to lead the evidence in the direction of the apriori commitment. You are conflating [a] with [b]. In spite of all your protests, you do not understand the inferential process.

    With respect to ID’s predictions, I would prefer not to take up any more time with that subject. I simply wanted to point out that there are many of them since you questioned their existence.

    SB: In keeping with that point, I have a question for you: Do you think the design and the designer are one and the same thing? Please answer and explain.

    The designer and the design are not the same thing, but neither are they ontologically distinct things.

    According to your first clause, they are different; according to your second clause, they are the same. Let’s go with your second clause and assume that you didn’t mean the first clause.

    If the (artist, painter) is not ontologically distinct from the (artifact, painting), who or what is responsible for bringing the latter into being?

  174. Hi Upright BiPed,

    RDF: simply provide examples (or even one single example) of something we might find in the fossil record, or in living biological systems, or anywhere else, that would 1) indicate that some conscious being existed before life on Earth

    Uh, what happened to (2), which was the other part where you were supposed to say what a “conscious agent” could not do, so we could test ID against the evidence and see if it was falisified by anything? I’ll tell you what happened: You dodged that part, because it is not possible to falsify the claim that a “conscious agent” did something.

    Then as far as (1) you talk about complex stuff we find in biological systems and simply declare that only intelligent agents could build such things, which is obviously nothing but assuming the very conclusion we are debating. yawn.

    I’m not interested in doing it again.

    We agree on that!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  175. Hi StephenB,

    I asked you to tell me precisely which conscious agent you were talking about so I could answer the question.

    And then I pointed out that it is your theory, not mine, which is proposing that a “conscious agent” was responsible for the creation of the universe, settting the physical constants, designing and building living things, and so on, and so it really is up to you – not me – to specify what precisely what sort conscious agent we are talking about. Otherwise, no matter what evidence anyone ever looks at, you can just say “Oh, sure, a ‘conscious agent’ could do that!”… which is precisely what ID does. This is why ID is not an explanation that can be assessed against the evidence to see if it’s true or not.

    Not all conscious agents have the same abilities.

    No kidding!! But I don’t know of any conscious agent who can create a universe with particular physical constants… do you? No, but that’s not a problem for ID – whatever we observe, ID simply declares “That’s OK – a ‘conscious agent’ could do that too!”, and there you go, ID “explains” some other previously unexplained phenomenon!

    I also explained that your question was irrelevant but that I would answer it anyway if you would specify which agent you were referring to. You simply laughed off my request. So, in this case, you are not telling the truth.

    Hahaha – that’s a big laugh. My question is critically relevant to ID, to the extent that ID pretends to be an empirically testable theory. Otherwise, you’re right – you don’t need to answer these questions, and you can believe anything you can dream up!

    I define extravagant in this context as stretching the relationship between what is claimed and what is demonstrated. ID doesn’t make that stretch; Darwinism does.

    Darwinism claims that given replicating organisms (which do exist) and random variation (which does exist) and natural selection (which does exist), the complex form and function we observe can be fully accounted for by evolutionary processes (which is a purely speculative claim that is not supported by evidence).

    ID claims that before the universe existed there was a “conscious agent” (pure speculation) and this agent figured out what the physical constants should be so life could exist (pure speculation) and then created the universe using these constants (pure speculation) and then proceeded to design living systems (pure speculation). I’d say it’s pretty clear that ID takes the cake as far as extravagant claims unsupported by what is demonstrated.

    RDF: I pointed out that showing how something could NOT have come to exist is not the same as showing how something DID come to exist.
    SB: Everyone already knows this, including me.

    In that case, can you explain why you and all other ID proponents present failures of Darwinian theory as though they somehow constitute evidence for ID?

    RDF: Either human thought can be reduced to chance and necessity or it cannot. If it can, then ID is wrong from the outset: Intelligence is not a different kind of cause at all. Therefore, in order for ID to be true, we must assume that intelligence can not be reduced to chance and necessity. In other words, ID must assume dualism/libertarianism.

    SB: Intelligence is most definitely a different kind of cause than chance/necessity. Otherwise, there would be no way of identifying it.

    Exactly!!! There is indeed no way of identifying, in the abstract, “intelligence”. If you think I’m mistaken, just tell me the one single test that will distinguish any intelligent thing from any non-intelligent thing.

    Hint: You can’t, because there is no such test, because there is no operationalized definition for the word “intelligence”.

    Also, you are apparently unaware of a few ID proponents who believe that an eternal nature is said to contain a law-like process that generates design There are, strange as it seems, ID monists. One of them, Bruce David, posts here. So, your entire premise is faulty.

    First, my premise is not faulty – there are so many mutually exclusive ideas about what ID is, what it assumes, what it implies, what it attempts to explain, and so on, that it is impossible to argue against ID without somebody accusing me of getting “the theory” wrong!

    For example, a natural law-like process that generates design sounds utterly in opposition to ID – how is it you extend the big, big tent of ID over that idea too? It really does sound like the diametric opposite of everything ID proponents argue. It is, in fact, the definition of the “X-Force”, which is an imaginary force I made up as expository device that I use to explain mistakes in reasoning to ID proponents (see below for an example).

    There are two ways to “assume” that intelligence cannot be reduced to chance and necessity. To [a] hypothesize that an intelligent agent transcends chance and necessity for the sake of evaluating the reasonableness of that proposition with empirical evidence and a rigorous methodological process (legitimate)…

    This has nothing to do with ID. ID does not not in any way at all even attempt to evaluate the reasonableness of the proposition that intelligence transcends chance and necessity. ID simply assumes it without justification, as in the Explanatory Filter.

    I know this is a hard concept for many of you, but if you’d bother to read this example you’d understand it better:

    1) I hypothesize X-Force, a natural process that produces complex form and function, and is responsible for the CSI we observe in biology, the physical constants of the universe, and the appearance of certain crop circles.
    2) You say “You can’t just assume this X-Force! Where is the evidence that it actually exists?”
    3) And I say, “Just look at all the crop circles, complex organisms, and fine-tuned constants! X-Force explains it all!”

    Here, the explanatory power of X-Force justifies the assumption of its existence, right?

    Wrong. I would actually need evidence that X-Force exists in order to claim I had an empirically supported theory.

    Same thing with ID: You can’t just make up assumptions that you’d like to be true, such as dualism/libertarianism, and then say “Well, IF they were true THEN I could explain life, the universe, and everything, so that means they must be true!”

    It is perfectly elementary reasoning that you’re getting wrong here. Just because you make assumptions that would if true help support your explanation of the phenomenon in question does not mean that these assumptions are in fact true in the first place! You actually have to demonstrate that they are true. And since nobody can demonstrate that dualism/libertarianism is true, ID remains a philosophical conjecture.

    SB: In keeping with that point, I have a question for you: Do you think the design and the designer are one and the same thing? Please answer and explain.
    RDF: The designer and the design are not the same thing, but neither are they ontologically distinct things.
    SB: According to your first clause, they are different; according to your second clause, they are the same.

    Oh please! Are all conscious agents the same thing, Stephen? Just ridiculous, really.

    Let’s go with your second clause and assume that you didn’t mean the first clause.

    I meant both things of course! Is a living thing the same as another living thing? Well, yes in the sense that they are both living things, and no in the sense that they are not the identical organism. You really do have conceptual difficulties about a lot of these things that should be very simple.

    If the (artist, painter) is not ontologically distinct from the (artifact, painting), who or what is responsible for bringing the latter into being?

    Do you really need me to explain this? Wow. Ok.

    If the human artist is not ontologically distinct from the artifact, then the human artist is responsible for bringing the artifact into being. (That is also true if the human artists is ontologically distinct from the artifact of course).

    Any other questions you need help with?

    Perhaps you can answer this: Since ID cannot say what a “conscious agent” cannot do, how could anyone ever make any observation that could be demonstrated to be outside of the ability of a “conscious agent”?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  176. RDFish:

    Uh, what happened to (2), which was the other part where you were supposed to say what a “conscious agent” could not do, so we could test ID against the evidence and see if it was falisified by anything?

    1- That isn’t how one falsifies a design inference

    2- You have been told how to falsify ID

    Then as far as (1) you talk about complex stuff we find in biological systems and simply declare that only intelligent agents could build such things, which is obviously nothing but assuming the very conclusion we are debating. yawn.

    1- There wasn’t anything simple about it and no assumptions required beyond the assumption that we can determine root causes

    2- ID extends beyond biology

    RDFish repeats his ole and refuted diatribe. yawn.

  177. I have to correct something I said in @176:

    RDF: Hint: You can’t, because there is no such test, because there is no operationalized definition for the word “intelligence”.

    In fact, of course, there are any number of operationalized definitions for that word – scientists operationalize the concept whenever they use it. For example, one operationalized definition would be “that which is measured by a Stanford-Binet IQ test”.

    What I meant to say was that there is no operationalized definition of intelligence that is used by ID.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  178. RDFish:

    But I don’t know of any conscious agent who can create a universe with particular physical constants… do you?

    We infer there was one because of the evidence and the options.

    RDFish:

    No, but that’s not a problem for ID – whatever we observe, ID simply declares “That’s OK – a ‘conscious agent’ could do that too!”, and there you go, ID “explains” some other previously unexplained phenomenon!

    You are very proud of your ignorance wrt ID and science. Too bad your pride alone means nothing here.

    In that case, can you explain why you and all other ID proponents present failures of Darwinian theory as though they somehow constitute evidence for ID?

    We do NOT hold that view. However science MANDATES that all design inferences first eliminate all non-design causes.

    Since ID cannot say what a “conscious agent” cannot do, how could anyone ever make any observation that could be demonstrated to be outside of the ability of a “conscious agent”?

    That isn’t a relevant question. Again your ignorance wrt scientific investigation, while amusing, means nothing here.

    Do you know why detectives investigate crimes? Because there is evidence for a crime. THe design inference requires positive evidence and that includes eliminating necessity and chance- just as science mandates.

  179. RDFish:

    What I meant to say was that there is no operationalized definition of intelligence that is used by ID.

    Yes, there is. Forensic science uses it. Archaeology uses it. And SETI uses it too.

  180. 181

    RDF at 175,

    Uh, what happened to (2)

    Your #2 had already been emptied by logic and reason. Did you not realize how weak and thin your counter-argument would become if someone refused to take the bait?

    Then as far as (1)

    If I go outside and toss a rock into the air, I do not merely assume it will come back down and hit the ground, nor do I “declare” it. Coming back down and hitting the ground is the only thing that anyone has ever seen such rocks do. It’s called a universal observation, and its valid for every single person who has ever lived, even if we have no theory of gravity, and do not know its source.

    Your arguments are defeated by material evidence, which is why you rely on being clever, in place of being forthright.

  181. Hi StephenB,
    HI RDF
    SB: I asked you to tell me precisely which conscious agent you were talking about so I could answer the question.

    And then I pointed out that it is your theory, not mine, which is proposing that a “conscious agent” was responsible for the creation of the universe, settting the physical constants, designing and building living things, and so on, and so it really is up to you – not me – to specify what precisely what sort conscious agent we are talking about.

    According to ID, the designer cannot be identified. If ID can’t identify the designer, then it should be obvious that it cannot probe the designer’s range of abilities. Tell me, therefore, which designer you have in mind and I will try to answer your question.

    Hahaha – that’s a big laugh. My question is critically relevant to ID, to the extent that ID pretends to be an empirically testable theory. Otherwise, you’re right – you don’t need to answer these questions, and you can believe anything you can dream up!

    Your question has no relevance to ID.

    There is indeed no way of identifying, in the abstract, “intelligence”. If you think I’m mistaken, just tell me the one single test that will distinguish any intelligent thing from any non-intelligent thing.

    Design patterns.

    First, my premise is not faulty…….

    Insofar as your premise is that ID is not empirically based, it is a false premise.

    ID does not in any way at all even attempt to evaluate the reasonableness of the proposition that intelligence transcends chance and necessity. ID simply assumes it without justification, as in the Explanatory Filter.

    How and at what point in the three step process does the Explanatory Filter assume transcendent intelligence without justification?

    SB: Do you think the design and the designer are one and the same thing? Please answer and explain.

    The designer and the design are not the same thing, but neither are they ontologically distinct things.

    SB: According to your first clause, they are different; according to your second clause, they are the same.

    Oh please! Are all conscious agents the same thing, Stephen? Just ridiculous, really.

    No. All conscious agents are not the same thing. That has absolutely nothing at all to do with the question about whether they are the same as the things they design. You are really struggling with this very simple idea. Again, you are trying to make a simple question hard. Are the designer and the thing designed the same identical thing? Either a yes or no will suffice.

    I meant both things of course!

    So you think the designer and the thing designed are both the same thing and also different things?

    Well, yes in the sense that they are both living things…

    I didn’t ask you if they were the same kind of thing. I asked you if they were identically the same thing. It’s really a very simple question. I don’t know why you are laboring over it.

    …and no in the sense that they are not the identical organism. You really do have conceptual difficulties about a lot of these things that should be very simple.

    Believe me, I am not the one who is having trouble with the concept.
    SB: If the (artist, painter) is not ontologically distinct from the (artifact, painting), who or what is responsible for bringing the latter into being?

    Do you really need me to explain this? Wow. Ok.

    Yes, I think you had better explain.

    If the human artist is not ontologically distinct from the artifact, then the human artist is responsible for bringing the artifact into being. (That is also true if the human artists is ontologically distinct from the artifact of course).

    You mean that the painter can bring the painting into being if the painter is the same identical thing as the painting and also if the painter is not the same identical thing as the painting?

    Perhaps you can answer this: Since ID cannot say what a “conscious agent” cannot do, how could anyone ever make any observation that could be demonstrated to be outside of the ability of a “conscious agent”?

    In the context of ID’s current paradigms, I can’t imagine how it could be done. Perhaps a future paradigm could probe that area.

  182. F/N: It seems we are back to the definitionitis fallacy, operational definition form. Here on what is intelligence. (As though RDF has not already been pointed to the references tab above which contains a glossary of terms.)

    Let us note from the UD glossary, bearing in mind that intelligence like ever so many concepts used in scientific investigations, is ostensively characterised, starting from known examples and extended therefrom by material family resemblance:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Notice, that we have simply accepted Wiki’s summary definition, as a case of testifying against known ideological interest. Ability to plan and to execute such, of course implies purposefulness and underlying knowledge and skill to effect, manifested in the result through functionally specific complex information, organisation, irreducible complexity and the like, with symbolic language as a particularly significant sign.

    And, from such manifestations we are entitled to infer appropriate characteristics.

    In the case of a cosmos that is fine tuned from its physics up for a locally isolated operating point that enables C-chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based life, just the properties of water tied to the underlying basic physics of the cosmos and the highly telling fact that of the first four most abundant elements in the cosmos, we have H that gives us everything else via stars, we have He the gateway to the rest of the periodic table, we have O and C which give us water and the base for organic chemistry. Going a bit farther, close in abundance (apparently more or less 5th in our galaxy) is N, which already gets us to proteins.

    Even through a muliverse speculation, we must reckon with that fine tuning (indeed a multiverse sets up the sub-cosmos bread factory fine tuning problem) and the radical contingency of a cosmos that credibly had a beginning. The root of that is a necessary being [which is eternal by having no dependence on external enabling on/off factors, per logic of cause] and the context of fine tuning highlights further characteristics: purpose, knowledge and skill, power of astonishing degree, etc.

    So, yes, from the evidence of a credible design we may discern some key characteristics of a designer, sufficient to allow us — in at least some cases — to assess candidates.

    Cf here on for more. (Notice how studiously RDF has avoided actually specifically addressing the substance there and onwards.)

    But at the same time, the empirical object of study of design theory is the entity that shows evident signs of design, and also by extension per the vera causa principle, the capabilities of candidate causal mechanisms to create such signs.

    Where, on thousands of years of observation and analysis, we can start from Monod’s truncation of Plato, with blind chance and/or mechanical necessity (recall, the well known book: Chance and Necessity, c. 1970?), and also highlight the third factor that that thinker thought he had eliminated, design.

    KF

    PS: And, of course, we know that an intelligent agent — even one that is omnipotent — cannot effect an impossible being, such as a square circle. This, because core characteristics or attributes of such a candidate stand in mutual contradiction. That much is trivial.

    PPS: But on the other hand, we know ever so many things that are only observed to be created by intelligence, given the empirical observations and the needle in haystack analysis on the gamut of solar system or observed cosmos. RDF studiously avoids the issue of 500 – 1,000 bits of FSCO/I and particularly dFSCI as reliable and warranted signs of design, by contrast with blind chance and mechanical necessity. He is unable to come up with cases that show chance and necessity effecting dFSCI, and has many — billions of cases of intelligent design of dFSCI. Unwilling to concede the significance of the sign, he has resorted to definitionitis games and now to what are the upper limits on what intelligent designers are capable of. That is a red herring, the significant issue is, what is it that ONLY intelligent design is credibly capable of on empirical investigation and related needle in haystack analysis? That is all that is needed for the explanatory filter to work, and also we have no good reason to conclude or to impose a priori that an intelligent designer must be human, or must be otherwise embodied or use a brain or the like material computing substrate. Indeed that is the exact context in which cosmological design comes in: matter — post E = m*c^2 and post big bang and post stellar fusion and supernova physics — is patently contingent and credibly traces onwards to a necessary and immaterial being, where fine tuning of the cosmos — indicative of design — points to such a necessary (thus, eternal) being being an intelligent designer, one of awesome knowledge, skill and power.

  183. Hi Upright BiPed,

    It’s called a universal observation, and its valid for every single person who has ever lived, even if we have no theory of gravity, and do not know its source.

    For the 10,000th time: Your “universal inference” is to human beings, which obviously cannot be responsible for designing human beings. So you throw your universal inference out the window, and in its place you make up a hypothesis for some sort of entity of which we have no experience, for which we have no evidence at all, and you call it science.

    Your arguments are defeated by material evidence, which is why you rely on being clever, in place of being forthright.

    You attempt to be clever, but unfortunately you’re not. My arguments are obviously true.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  184. Hi StephenB,

    According to ID, the designer cannot be identified. If ID can’t identify the designer, then it should be obvious that it cannot probe the designer’s range of abilities.

    Actually the problem is not that ID cannot “probe” the designer’s range of abilities. Rather, ID does not specify its hypothesis with any clarity or information, and so the attributes of ID’s hypothetical cause remains undefined. This means ID cannot be evaluated against the evidence.

    RDF: There is indeed no way of identifying, in the abstract, “intelligence”. If you think I’m mistaken, just tell me the one single test that will distinguish any intelligent thing from any non-intelligent thing.
    SB: Design patterns.

    I absolutely LOVE this one!

    RDF: What does ID say is responsible for the complex form and function in biology?
    SB: Intelligence!
    RDF: What is the operational definition ID uses for “intelligence”?
    SB: That which is capable of producing complex form and function!

    Brilliant! :-)

    Insofar as your premise is that ID is not empirically based, it is a false premise.

    That is not my premise – it is my conclusion!

    How and at what point in the three step process does the Explanatory Filter assume transcendent intelligence without justification?

    The EF categorizes cause into three types, chance, necessity, and intelligence. If intelligence was reducible to chance and necessity, and all causes would be, essentially, some combination of chance and necessity.

    I didn’t ask you if they were the same kind of thing. I asked you if they were identically the same thing.

    Actually now you actually are misquoting yourself!!! Really – go check! You did not use the word “identically” at all until just now! Hahahahaha

    I was the one who said:

    RDF: Well, yes [they are the same] in the sense that they are both living things, and no in the sense that they are not the identical organism.

    Nothing could be more clear. Perhaps you are resorting to these semantic games in hopes that you can distract me from my arguments.

    Here’s a good one: If I sequentially replace each plank in my rowboat, is it the same boat that I started with? If yes, how can it be the same if not one part single part of it remains from my original boat? If no, at what point did it become a different boat?

    You mean that the painter can bring the painting into being if the painter is the same identical thing as the painting and also if the painter is not the same identical thing as the painting?

    Now you are saying “identical”. Is your body the same identical thing it was one second ago? Is your table the same identical thing it was one second ago? The answer is no, of course, since there are always ongoing changes at the molecular level. The important question here is SO WHAT?.

    ID is not saything that chance and necessity are not identical to intelligence cause, StephenB, so this whole misguided game of painters and paintings is useless. ID says that intelligent cause is wholly different from any combination of chance and necessity. In other words, ID assumes at the outset that dualism/libertarianism is true.

    In the context of ID’s current paradigms, I can’t imagine how it [falisifying ID by finding something inconstitent with a 'conscious agent's' abilities] could be done. Perhaps a future paradigm could probe that area.

    Well, I’m happy to hear you admit this finally. In that case, perhaps a future version of ID (a new ‘paradigm’) might actually become scientific. Until then, ID is metaphysical speculation.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  185. RDF:

    Since when has being able to specify that FSCO/I and particularly dFSCI beyond 500 – 1,000 bits is beyond the reasonable reach of blind chance and/or mechanical necessity on the gamut of the solar system or the observed cosmos, not a sufficiently precise and specific criterion to be testable and indeed tested?

    Let’s go to a simple thought exercise, one that will show the test in action:

    a: If we were to find a string of 500 fair coins expressing the first 72 ASCII coded characters for this post, we would immediately infer design, on good grounds.

    b: Start with the 10^57 atoms in our sol system, and turn each into an observer and coin flipper with 500 coins in a string.

    c: For 10^17 s, allow them to e3ach explore the config space of the 500 coin H/T system, at the rate of one new observation of a chance config — tossing in effect — every 10^-14 s. This is the rate of ionic chem rxns, much faster than organic ones. We can take it as a metric of the fastest reasonable atomic level event. (Not particle physics here.)

    d: In 10^17 s, a time for the sol system’s age on conventional timelines, we would sample in aggregate something like a one straw sample to a cubical haystack 1,000 light years across, as thick as our galaxy at its central bulge. As has been repeatedly pointed out to you, just conveniently and insistently ignored.

    e: Superpose such a haystack on our stellar neighbourhood. A search on that scope, never mind thousands of star systems in it, would with all but absolute certainty, with practical certainty, come up with only straw. That is — as was pointed out to you repeatedly but willfully ignored — the search space challenge overwhelms the atomic and temporal resources.

    f: To cover the OOL case, scale up to 1,000 bits, 10^80 atoms and a haystack that is a LOT bigger in proportion.

    g: that is why you have consistently willfully ignored for years the case of the random document text generation searches that have been carried out, as say Wikipedia reports in its Infinite Monkeys page, I cite again:

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

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

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

    h: It is obvious that such a thought exercise will dominate any reasonable chance hypothesis not reducible to that the cosmos was programmed to generate life forms in suitable environments on terrestrial planets so that the “distributions” of relevant random variables would be hopelessly biased to the point that we see programmed mechanical necessity built into physics and chemistry to create life forms.

    i: Of which programming there is no credible empirical evidence.

    j: So, we have a clear upper limit to blind chance and mechanical necessity on the gamut of our solar system (our effective universe for chemical level interactions) and the observed cosmos as a whole.

    k: But there is one and just one kind of causal factor that is observed capable of such FSCO/I — with billions of cases in point starting with posts in this thread. Intelligent design.

    l: So we are epistemologically and logically entitled to take such FSCO/I as a reliable index of design, with the burden of warrant now shifting tot he other side, to show that no on the contrary, blind chance and mechanical necessity are capable of so generating FSCO/I. Which on the needle in haystack analysis above, is utterly unlikely.

    m: Where also, in answer to selectively hyperskeptical definitionitis games, chance and necessity and design are adequately discussed here, as an answer to the usual attempted dismissals.

    n: And where as shown above in anticipation of your latest reiteration of well past discard by date dismissals it was pointed out that ID can live with Wiki’s definition of intelligence and its capacities/ characteristics.

    __________

    The resort to definitionitis rhetorical games is a strong sign that he balance of the matter on the empirical and analytical merits is not in favour of the objectors to design.

    KF

  186. F/N: More UD glossary definitions:

    _________

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

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

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

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

    __________

    KF

  187. F/N 2: Notice, no one has been able to come up with a demonstrated causal force that on our observation has capacity to create conscious designing intelligence from material substrates through blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    Not even starting from brain and CNS tissue as a computational substrate.

    Look carefully and you will see that what is actually going on is that having imposed a priori Lewontinian materialism by the back door and refusing to address the issues of self referential incoherence, there is a conclusion that conscious mind MUST have come about by such forces.

    And most of the discussion is a red herring chase away from that core challenge as set in the OP.

    All of which speaks volumes on what is announced to one and all as a fact, Fact FACT at least as certain as gravity in action when an apple falls plonk to the ground in front of a Newton who can then reflect on the moon swinging by in the sky and infer universal laws of gravitation on the logic involved.

    KF

  188. RDFish ois a troll:

    The EF categorizes cause into three types, chance, necessity, and intelligence. If intelligence was reducible to chance and necessity, and all causes would be, essentially, some combination of chance and necessity.

    We have already been over this. Obviously you are just a troll on an agenda.

  189. RDFish proves he is ignorant of science, again:

    Your “universal inference” is to human beings, which obviously cannot be responsible for designing human beings.

    Umm knowing what humans can do with nature and knowing what nature, operating fdeeely can do, gives us knowledge of cause and effect relationships. We then take that knowledge and apply it to observed phenomena.

    And guess what? If nature isn’t up to the task when humans are around it doesn’t suddenly get the creative power when humans are not around. So when humans could not have possibly done it and nature isn’t capable, we infer some other Intelligent Agency.

    Science 101 you ignorant troll

  190. RDDork:

    Perhaps you can answer this: Since ID cannot say what a “conscious agent” cannot do, how could anyone ever make any observation that could be demonstrated to be outside of the ability of a “conscious agent”?

    The designer can’t make the universe appear as if it had been created via blind and undirected processes. So if we observe that ID is falsified.

  191. 192

    For the 10,000th time: Your “universal inference” is to human beings, which obviously cannot be responsible for designing human beings. So you throw your universal inference out the window, and in its place you make up a hypothesis for some sort of entity of which we have no experience, for which we have no evidence at all, and you call it science.

    And there it is. The empiricist in you finally comes out: We must ignore the physical evidence, so that it doesn’t confuse us.

    - – - – - – - – - – - -

    There is one (and only one) place in the cosmos where we find iterative arrangments of matter producing unambiguous function, where the arrangements of matter are physico-chemically arbitrary to the effects they produce.

    Ignore it.

    There is one (and only one) place in the cosmos where we find local relationships instantiated and preserved within such systems.

    Ignore it that too.

    There is one (and only one) place in the cosmos where we find these arrangements of matter, where they are not derived from their minimum potential energy state, so the systems they operate within require additional dimensional constraints in order to function.

    Ignore it all.

    - – - – - – - – - – - –

    And *why* exactly should we ignore this physical evidence?

    Because it points to something for which we have no evidence.

    :|

  192. RDF

    Actually now you actually are misquoting yourself!!! Really – go check! You did not use the word “identically” at all until just now! Hahahahaha

    I asked you if the painting and the painter are one and the same thing. You injected the notion of the same “kind” of thing,” into the discussion, so it was necessary for me to point out to you that the same thing means “identically” the same thing, not the same “kind” of thing.

    Then you said,

    If the human artist is not ontologically distinct from the artifact, then the human artist is responsible for bringing the artifact into being. (That is also true if the human artists is ontologically distinct from the artifact of course).

    So I asked, “You mean that the painter can bring the painting into being if the painter is the same identical thing as the painting and also if the painter is not the same identical thing as the painting?”
    That question persists. (Do you really mean that both statements are correct?)

    Also, if you don’t mind, I would also like to know,

    [a] how the human painter can bring the painting into being if they are both one and the same thing [or as you say, if they are not ontologically distinct.”]
    and

    [b] When you say that the painter is ontologically distinct from the painting, do you mean that the painter transcends or stands apart from the painting?

    Here’s a good one: If I sequentially replace each plank in my rowboat, is it the same boat that I started with? If yes, how can it be the same if not one part single part of it remains from my original boat? If no, at what point did it become a different boat?

    I am familiar with the paradox of Theseus’ ship. We are not discussing the relationship between the artist and himself over time.

    Is your body the same identical thing it was one second ago? Is your table the same identical thing it was one second ago? The answer is no, of course, since there are always ongoing changes at the molecular level. The important question here is SO WHAT?.

    You are getting confused again. The question is about the relationship between the painter and the painting, not the painter at one time and the painter at another time.

    ID is not saything that chance and necessity are not identical to intelligence cause, StephenB, so this whole misguided game of painters and paintings is useless. ID says that intelligent cause is wholly different from any combination of chance and necessity. In other words, ID assumes at the outset that dualism/libertarianism is true.

    You have confused yourself yet again. We are not discussing what ID says about the relationship between intelligence and necessity. We are discussing what you (and ID) say about the relationship between the designer and the thing designed. Again, please stay with the flow of things.
    SB: In the context of ID’s current paradigms, I can’t imagine how it [falisifying ID by finding something inconstitent with a 'conscious agent's' abilities] could be done. Perhaps a future paradigm could probe that area.

    Well, I’m happy to hear you admit this finally.

    Finally admit? I have been shouting it from the rooftop. ID cannot be falsified in that way.

  193. RDF:

    I absolutely LOVE this one!

    RDF: What does ID say is responsible for the complex form and function in biology?
    SB: Intelligence!
    RDF: What is the operational definition ID uses for “intelligence”?
    SB: That which is capable of producing complex form and function!

    Brilliant! :-)

    I don’t recall being been a part of such an exchange. Can your provide the post number.

  194. Hi Upright BiPed,

    The empiricist in you finally comes out:

    No, it is the empricism claimed by ID that I am objecting to. If ID simply presented itself as a philosophical or religious treatise, I’d have no problem with it at all. It’s the specious claim to scientific status that is the problem.

    We must ignore the physical evidence, so that it doesn’t confuse us.

    The physical evidence is that complex physical form and function is produced only by the most complex physical organism, the human being. You are ignoring the evidence, not me.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  195. Hi StephenB,

    So I asked, “You mean that the painter can bring the painting into being if the painter is the same identical thing as the painting and also if the painter is not the same identical thing as the painting?”
    That question persists. (Do you really mean that both statements are correct?)

    Ok, we seem to be stuck on this question, so let me try to put it to rest with a complete explanation.

    “Ontology” is the study of that which fundamentally exists in reality, or the nature of being. Some people think that there are two different sorts of things in the universe, the physical (matter/energy) and the mental. These people are called dualists, and they believe that when human beings think and make decisions, the mental cause (either a mental substance, or a special non-physical property of some sort) is what causes the physical result. Other people, called physicalists, disagree, and hold that when human beings think and make decisions, those mental processes are physical just like everything else.

    You ask how a painter can paint a painting if they are not ontologically distinct, and you also confused this with being identically the same. Here is the explanation: The painter, the painting, the paint, the paintbrush, the easel, the light, and so on – all of these are things that we all recognize as being different things. The dualist will also claim, however, that among all of these different things, there is one thing which is ontologically distinct from all of the other things, and this thing is the mind of the human being who is painting the picture. The physicalist will disagree, and claim that the mind of the painter is just how we refer to the physical processes that occur (mainly in the brain) in the painter’s body, and is not ontologically different from any of the other different things I listed.

    I hope that’s clear now!

    When you say that the painter is ontologically distinct from the painting, do you mean that the painter transcends or stands apart from the painting?

    Again, there are different things that people can mean by “stands apart”. Two different stones can “stand apart” from each other, and we will all recognize these two different stones as being not identically the same – they are different stones. Furthermore, both dualists and physicalists will agree that both of these stones are ontologically the same, meaning that neither of them contain anything that is not physical. In the case of the human painter however, the dualist will say that the painter’s mind is ontologically distinct from the light, the paint, the paintbrush, and even the painter’s body – while the physicalist will deny that distinction.

    There is no empirically-based method to see whether dualism or physicalism or any other metaphysical ontology is correct. There are many different flavors of dualistic and monistic philosophies, but none of them can be demonstrated to be true by appeal to our shared experience. However, ID theory assumes that thought is something that is not constrained by the physical laws that govern every other sort of process in the universe. This a priori commitment to a non-physicalist metaphysics means that ID relies on an assumption that is not scientific, which means that ID itself cannot be considered to be a scientific theory.

    The counter-argument I see most often to this is that the rest of ID theory works so well at explaining things, this justifies ID’s metaphysical assumptions. In other words, ID claims to provide empirical justification for one particular solution to the ancient mind/body problem. But they’ve got it all backwards: The only way they “solve” this problem is merely to assume that their solution is true. The fact that ID can “explain” any unexplained phenomenon whatsoever by simply claiming that “intelligence” is the explanation does nothing to support one metaphysical position over another.

    ID cannot be falsified in that way.

    Right. That means that we have no way of telling if ID is true by looking at empirical evidence, since no matter what we find, it will always be consistent with a theory that can explain anything with the very same word, “intelligence”. This is another reason why ID is not an empirically-based theory.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  196. RDFish:

    That means that we have no way of telling if ID is true by looking at empirical evidence,

    Yes, we do. Please try applying your inane question to forensic science and arxhaeology- heck there are lost civilizations all over because agencies can do anything!

    Look RDFish, you have no idea what you are talking about

    The physical evidence is that complex physical form and function is produced only by the most complex physical organism, the human being.

    And if humans weren’t around then we infer some other agency did it because mother nature doesn’t magically get some capability just because humans weren’t there.

    Again you are out of your depth wrt scientific investigation. You will never convinve anyone but yourself and the choir. OTOH I can refute your nonsense with an appeal to reality.

    I can live with that.

  197. 198

    If ID simply presented itself as a philosophical or religious treatise, I’d have no problem with it at all. It’s the specious claim to scientific status that is the problem.

    Physicists have known for a number of years that there are certain arrangments of matter in nature (a very narrow and specific class of physical representation) that are recognizable within their systems by having physical characteristics which are not derivable from thermodynamic law. Unlike all other examples of physical representations in nature, their individuating characteristics are not determined by the minimum total potential energy of the matter they are made of. In the physical world, there are exactly three examples of this known to man: language, mathematics, and the genetic code.

    This is an observation of thermodynamic law; there is neither a religious nor philosphical component to the result.

    My question to you: How does not being able to identify an intelligent agent at the origin of life alter this observation?

  198. If Darwinian evolution simply presented itself as a philosophical or religious treatise, I’d have no problem with it at all. It’s the specious claim to scientific status that is the problem.

    I would second this in a heart beat and I assume RDFish would too.

  199. RDF

    I hope that’s clear now!

    Your lecture was clear, redundant, and totally unnecessary.

    Now please address my question: How can a painter paint a painting if the two are not ontologically distinct?

    Also, insofar as the painter and the painter are ontologically distinct, is the painter the cause of the painting?

    RDF:

    I absolutely LOVE this one!

    RDF: What does ID say is responsible for the complex form and function in biology?
    SB: Intelligence!
    RDF: What is the operational definition ID uses for “intelligence”?
    SB: That which is capable of producing complex form and function!

    Brilliant! :-)

    Where was this exchange supposed to have taken place?

  200. SB: ID cannot be falsified in that way [capacity of the designer].

    Right. That means that we have no way of telling if ID is true by looking at empirical evidence, since no matter what we find, it will always be consistent with a theory that can explain anything with the very same word, “intelligence”. This is another reason why ID is not an empirically-based theory.

    No, it doesn’t mean that at all. It means that you remain willfully uninformed about the methods by which the empirical evidence is interpreted.

  201. Hi Upright BiPed,

    Physicists have known for a number of years that there are certain arrangments of matter in nature (a very narrow and specific class of physical representation) that are recognizable within their systems by having physical characteristics which are not derivable from thermodynamic law.

    It’s not clear what you mean by “derivable” here, but it sounds like you are saying that the laws of thermodynamics have somehow been violated, and that there is general agreement among physicists that this is the case. Is that what you mean to say?

    Unlike all other examples of physical representations in nature, their individuating characteristics are not determined by the minimum total potential energy of the matter they are made of. In the physical world, there are exactly three examples of this known to man: language, mathematics, and the genetic code.

    Sorry, but this sounds pretty loony. The “individuating characteristics” of most things (except for extremely simply physical systems) are not determined by the minimum total potential energy of the matter they are made of. Rather, to the extent that they are determined at all, they are determined by a very long chain of causal interactions that resulted in some particular configuration.

    I think what you may be trying to get at is another way of describing a class of things that are qualitatively distinct and are never seen to arise unless a human being (or perhaps some other type of animal) produces it. Let’s agree that this class of things exists and can be identified, and let’s call it “CSI”.

    My question to you: How does not being able to identify an intelligent agent at the origin of life alter this observation?

    What observation? That CSI exists? As I said, let’s agree that CSI is objectively identifiable and distinct, and that in our observations, only certain living things can produce it. That doesn’t alter the fact that ID does not provide an operational defininition of “intelligence”, obviously.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  202. Hi Jerry,

    If Darwinian evolution simply presented itself as a philosophical or religious treatise, I’d have no problem with it at all. It’s the specious claim to scientific status that is the problem.

    I would second this in a heart beat and I assume RDFish would too.

    Yes I would, except I would substitute “Darwinism” instead of “Darwinian evolution”, where “Darwinism” is the position that Darwinian evolution can account for biological complexity.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  203. Hi StephenB,

    Now please address my question: How can a painter paint a painting if the two are not ontologically distinct?

    Well, the painter picks up the paintbrush, puts some paint on it, and begins applying the paint to the canvas of course. Perhaps you should take an art class!

    Seriously, I have no idea what you think the issue is here.

    Also, insofar as the painter and the painter are ontologically distinct, is the painter the cause of the painting?

    Again, whether or not the painter and painting are ontologically distinct, yes of course the person with the paint brush putting the paint on the canvas is causing the painting to appear.

    Seems pretty straightforward to me; you must have a point in mind, but I sure don’t see it.

    Where was this exchange supposed to have taken place?

    I asked what test you could apply to distinguish an intelligent thing from an unintelligent thing, and you replied that you could test for “design patterns”. I pointed out that if that is your operational definition of “intelligence”, then ID is vacuous, since ID’s claim would be simply that “The design patterns we observe are caused by something that can produce design patterns“, which is empty of informational content.

    RDF: That means that we have no way of telling if ID is true by looking at empirical evidence, since no matter what we find, it will always be consistent with a theory that can explain anything with the very same word, “intelligence”. This is another reason why ID is not an empirically-based theory.
    SB: No, it doesn’t mean that at all. It means that you remain willfully uninformed about the methods by which the empirical evidence is interpreted.

    You interpret the empirical evidence, and the definitions and claims of Darwinism, and you proceed to argue that Darwinism is false because the stated cause (RM&NS) is not capable of producing what we observe in biological systems. That is the scientific method, as applied to historical science by ID proponents. I’m pointing out that it is impossible to apply the scientific method to ID in this way, because ID does not state what its hypothetical cause is incapable of producing. That is just another reason ID can’t be considered to be scientific.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  204. Earth to RDFish-

    If Darwinian processes were capable of producing what we observe wrt biology then the design inference would never get an opportunity. And thgat means ID would be falsified as one of ID’s claims is tha darwinian processes are incapable of producing what we observe wrt biology.

    So go ahead and continue to ignore what I post. Any lurkers can see why you would and they must see you as a desperate poseur.

  205. Yes, Intelligent Design is both testable and falsifiable. Intelligent Design relies on Newton’s First Rule, meaning agencies are only added when REQUIRED. Therefor to refute ID and any given design inference all one has to do is step up and demonstrate that blind and undirected processes can account for it. IOW all anyone has to do to stop ID cold is to actually step up and A) produce a tyestable hypothesis for their position and B) produce positive, supporting evidence.

    How is ID tested? As in positive evidence?

    1- See above as the way to the design inference is THROUGH the blind watchmaker

    2- The criteria for inferring design in biology is, as Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Leheigh University, puts it in his book Darwin ‘ s Black Box: “Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components.”

    So if nature, operating freely cannot account for it AND it meets that criteria, some agency is required and we infer design (or at least agency involvement).

  206. DR Behe refutes RDFish:

    Dr Behe responds to IC criticisms:

    One last charge must be met: Orr maintains that the theory of intelligent design is not falsifiable. He’s wrong. To falsify design theory a scientist need only experimentally demonstrate that a bacterial flagellum, or any other comparably complex system, could arise by natural selection. If that happened I would conclude that neither flagella nor any system of similar or lesser complexity had to have been designed. In short, biochemical design would be neatly disproved.- Dr Behe in 1997

    Let the flailing continue…

  207. Hi, RDFish
    @ 169 you wrote:

    Ok, you have made your mistake crystal clear, thanks.

    What you just said is that you look at the phenomena we wish to explain (say certain features of biological systems) and then simply assume that whatever you observe, this hypothetical “agent” that you postulate is capable of creating! You decide in advance that whatever you see will be within the “minimum capability of the designer”, so no matter what you ever see, you will always adjust your hypothesis so that it encompasses your observation!

    Unfortunately it appears that you continue in a practice of reading hastily for the sake of rebuttal. I respectfully suggest that you slow down a little for the sake of comprehension. I’ll enlarge on the basic point so that hopefully it will be clearer. The processes of design detection and making inferences about the nature/attributes of the designer(s) are distinct from each other and by necessity take place in an unvarying sequence. Design detection takes place first, and then (if something is in fact discerned to be designed) inferences about the designer can be made. No reasonable person looks at an object, be it a puddle of water, a building, a cloud formation, or an overlong internet comment (such as this), and then wonders ‘What sort of person did this?’ before deciding if said object is the likely product of design in the first place.

    In your critique of my remarks you seem to betray a confused understanding of how ID works. NO ONE SIMPLY OBSERVES AN OBJECT AND ASSUMES IT TO BE WITHIN THE CAPABILITY OF THE DESIGNER. THE NATURE/ATTRIBUTES OF THE DESIGNER ARE LOGICALLY SUBORDINATE TO THE FIRST ORDER QUESTION OF DESIGN [steps off of soap box]. An illustration should make this point clear. Let’s begin with something that we can agree was designed – a car is simple enough. Now here’s the question, if we limit our examination to the car itself (without bringing in any additional information), is it possible to determine the limits of the designer’s ability? Is the car the apogee of the designer’s powers, its magnum opus? Or does the designer also create jet engines (ala Rolls Royce)? Can you tell simply from analyzing the car? I say no and defy anyone to state with clarity how that possibly could be so! Logically the only corollary from a conclusion of design is that the designed object must fall within the abilities of the designing agent to produce it. Further, if we revise the premise of the thought experiment so that we are no longer sure if the car was in fact designed, are any of the preceding questions even coherent?

    It is just amazing that you (and others here) don’t understand why this is a perfectly ridiculous way to approach science! Can’t you see that you can never tell if this “designer” that you are dreaming up actually exists, since no matter what the evidence is, you simply say “That must be within the minimum capability of the designer!”

    You have quite the predilection for ignoring simple arguments. See above.

    So far so good, except you are assuming this nonhuman activity was conscious, which is a hypothesis that would have to be supported as well. Perhaps there is such a thing as a non-human entity that produces CSI without consciousness (human beings produce a great deal of CSI without conscious awareness, after all, and nobody understands how conscious awareness is actually involved in thought processes, whether it is causal or perceptual).

    Perhaps there are unicorns and flying spaghetti monsters too. Maybe in the vastness of the cosmos there is someone who actually looks good in a mullet. Who knows? But both they and your proposal of non-human, non-conscious CSI producers are just idle speculations. We can always hold out hope of some as-yet undiscovered phenomenon that would account for our observations. But that doesn’t give us license to ignore potential cause that many (present company excepted) would consider legitimate – consciousness. The issue of consciousness is one that I haven’t commented on extensively yet (at least not in my exchanges with you), so it deserves some attention.

    You often object that it isn’t presently known whether consciousness is genuinely causal or merely perceptual. You also object to classifying consciousness as being somehow distinct from chance and necessity. I grant that consciousness is a phenomenon that we don’t fully (or even mostly) understand. Having said that, it is not unreasonable to make some provisional judgments about the relationship between consciousness and design. In my own meditations about consciousness, I give priority to my first-person experience as a conscious agent. Hopefully we can agree, whatever the ultimate nature of consciousness may be, that we are conscious agents, and that we daily experience an awareness of making decisions, of planning with regard to future contingencies, of mentally designing and then implementing the design in physical space. Some would argue that such awareness is merely illusory, a reflection of a wholly non-conscious process; I disagree. Where consciousness is concerned, I give epistemological priority my first-person experience. The onus is on the doubter to cogently articulate why consciousness is merely perceptual. Absent such articulation, in my mind there is no substantive objection to considering consciousness to be causal (provisionally, of course). It should also be noted that in our experience of design, consciousness is unvaryingly present. You once objected that we could just as easily attribute design to some organ, a spleen perhaps. But no one has ever observed a dead body (non-conscious) with an intact spleen design anything. Ever. Further, it is widely known that the removal of said organ from a living person does little to inhibit ability to design. So there’s no compelling reason to consider spleens as likely candidates for causing design. To juxtapose spleens with consciousness in this context is infantile.

    On the distinction drawn between consciousness and chance/necessity, I appeal to our empirical knowledge of their respective effects (yes I am clearly proceeding from the premise that consciousness is causal). Consciousness, whatever its ultimate nature, certainly seems to have causal abilities that differ markedly from chance and necessity. Consciousness can mimic chance and necessity, but it also outstrips them. It produces information, complex mechanical systems, abstractions. Broadly speaking, consciousness deserves to be considered as its own casual class, because we have plentiful experience that it is capable of manipulating matter and energy in ways that chance and necessity do not.

    Some unknown “nonhuman consciousness” is not any sort of explanation of anything. I could just as well hypothesize some unknown physical process that produces CSI and call that an explanation. You scoff at the idea of course, but it is no less speculative or unjustified than your hypothesis of an unknown consciousness.

    If one accepts that consciousness is causal, then it is certainly an explanation. As already noted, given our consistent, first-person experience as conscious agents, we do have valid reason for thinking that conscious activity is a legitimate explanation of CSI (or whatever other design criterion). The onus is on you to show an equivalency between conscious activity and ‘some unknown physical process.’

    And this is precisely what people mean by “god of the gaps” reasoning. The lack of an explanation is not support for the hypothesis of an undefined entity that is hypothesized to have minimum capabilities that will explain anything we ever want to explain that we don’t understand already.

    This is not ‘God-of-the-gaps.’ Do you know what that term means? It indicates plugging in a (theistic) explanation to fill a gap in our understanding without any positive evidence. The point of my comment was simply that, given our uniform and repeated experience of designers creating functional information, it is unreasonable to insist that inferring design is unwarranted without independent confirmation. Coupled with our emphatic lack of experience of any other type of cause generating functional information, we should be able to at least provisionally affirm the likelihood of a designer. One can always appeal to unknowns to overturn our present knowledge, but that’s unreasonable. Sure its possible that gravity might go away tomorrow, but don’t hold your breath… In fact, the possibility that the necessary connection between functional information and design could be weakened or overturned altogether simply proves that ID is falsifiable, contra your earlier comments.

    But you’ve already tried and discarded that hypothesis: Humans can’t logically have been responsible. You then decide that immaterial consciousness is a type of ‘A’, but you can’t provide any evidence that is the case, and so your solution remains a philosophical or religious belief instead of a scientific result. (And if you do NOT say that it is an immaterial consciousness, but rather an embodied life form, then you have other obvious problems).

    I didn’t say “immaterial consciousness”. You’re putting words in my mouth (though I don’t attribute this to any deviousness on your part). As said before, if we recognize consciousness as appropriately occupying its own causal category, then the reasoning still holds. Whatever its ultimate nature, we can still observe its effects. You are insistent that consciousness cannot be divorced from embodied humans. How do you know? Your metaphysical priors are preventing you acknowledging the bare possibility that it could be a distinct property/phenomenon not limited to humans. You’re committing the fallacy of omniscience.

    We know that complex physical mechanism is required to process information (which itself is a huge problem for ID). But as far as designing complex mechanisms, you couldn’t be more wrong: We know next to nothing about how human beings manage to design things. We know a lot about brains, but we do not actually understand how we think… Very wrong: If you familiarize yourself with cognitive psychology you will realize that we have no idea what role, if any, conscious awareness plays in our problem solving and other mental abilities. Much of our planning, problem solving, and even goal setting occurs without conscious awareness!

    I think you’re playing dumb, at least a little. Yes it’s true that we don’t understand everything about consciousness, but to pretend as if we can’t even draw the elementary connection between consciousness and design (problem-solving, etc.)is silly. Right now I, a conscious agent, am aware of many processes that go into writing this comment – reading your rebuttals, analyzing them, forming sentences articulate my thoughts, and striking a keyboard to implement them. Would I claim to be aware of every last mental process that the task requires? Of course not! Many learned activities are performed more-or-less subconsciously, so there are undoubtedly aspects of this task that I don’t give deliberate attention to (for instance, as a touch typist I don’t deliberately seek out each key. I hit them reflexively). But, nevertheless, I remain confident that this comment is the product of my conscious activity. If cognitive psychology begs to differ, it has my blessing but not my confidence. You’re welcome to the last word on the matter. Do try to make it novel.

  208. 209

    It’s not clear what you mean by “derivable” here, but it sounds like you are saying that the laws of thermodynamics have somehow been violated…

    …The “individuating characteristics” of most things (except for extremely simply physical systems) are not determined by the minimum total potential energy of the matter they are made of.

    The pheromone of an ant is an arrangement of matter (a physical representation) that is recognized in the ant’s system by assuming its lowest potential energy state – a specific number of atoms of a specific type, that when formed as a compound assumes a specific physical structure that the ant’s sensory system individually recognizes and responds to. On the other hand, the word “apple” written on a piece of paper is an arrangement of matter (a physical representation) that also assumes it lowest potential energy state. In broad terms, the atoms of the ink interact with the atoms of the paper and together they assume their combined lowest potential energy state (a piece of paper stained with ink). But what is recognized in the system is only the arrangement of the ink on paper (the shape and sequence of the letters) – which has nothing whatsoever to do with the lowest total potential energy state of the ink and paper.

    The genetic codon exhibits the same material conditions as the word “apple” on a piece of paper. The ordering of the nucleotides has nothing to do with the lowest total potential energy state of the nucleic medium. Such representations place critical (and singularly unique) requirements on the systems that must recognize and respond to them, which I discussed earlier.

    In any case, you made a claim but failed to substantiate it. There is no religious and/or philosophical component to these observations.

    Let’s agree that this class of things exists and can be identified, and let’s call it “CSI”.

    No, let’s not. The observations I have presented are only about the physical conditions of translating information from a material medium into a physical effect, and have nothing to do with the content of the information.

  209. SB:How can a painter paint a painting if the two are not ontologically distinct?

    RDF

    Well, the painter picks up the paintbrush, puts some paint on it, and begins applying the paint to the canvas of course. Perhaps you should take an art class!

    Well, I am sure that I would be much edified by the experience, but that doesn’t really answer my question.

    Seriously, I have no idea what you think the issue is here.

    I am just trying to understand your first claim in this comment:

    If the human artist is not ontologically distinct from the artifact, then the human artist is responsible for bringing the artifact into being. (That is also true if the human artists is ontologically distinct from the artifact of course).

    I can understand why the painter who is ontologically distinct from his painting could be (and would be) responsible for bringing it into being. What I don’t understand is how can the human artist that is not ontologically distinct from his artifact could be responsible for bringing it into being?

    SB: Also, insofar as the painter and the painter are ontologically distinct, is the painter the cause of the painting?

    Again, whether or not the painter and painting are ontologically distinct, yes of course the person with the paint brush putting the paint on the canvas is causing the painting to appear.

    OK, good. Thank you. Do you think that you could infer the existence of the painter as an intelligent agent from that painting?

  210. RDF

    …I’m pointing out that it is impossible to apply the scientific method to ID in this way, because ID does not state what its hypothetical cause is incapable of producing. That is just another reason ID can’t be considered to be scientific.

    You will never find a reference to any such criterion in the annals of historical science. It’s just something that you made up without even a m

  211. RDF

    …I’m pointing out that it is impossible to apply the scientific method to ID in this way, because ID does not state what its hypothetical cause is incapable of producing. That is just another reason ID can’t be considered to be scientific.

    You will never find a reference to any such criterion in the annals of historical science. It’s just something that you made up without even a modicum of support from any other source.

  212. StephenB:

    Do you think that you could infer the existence of the painter as an intelligent agent from that painting?

    RDFishlite:
    Not if blind and undirected processes can produce painters/ artists.

  213. Hi Optimus,

    The processes of design detection and making inferences about the nature/attributes of the designer(s) are distinct from each other and by necessity take place in an unvarying sequence.

    You say there is a process of “design detection” that is separate from the process of “making inferences about the nature/attributes of the designer”. So the first problem is that the word “design” in “design detection” is only meaningful to the extent that it refers to particular attributes of whatever you are detecting. Do you mean that you detecting the action of a conscious agent when you detect design? If so, you have just made an inference about the nature/attributes of the designer, simply by saying that you have detected design; namely, you have asserted that the cause of the feature under investigation experienced conscious awareness.

    No reasonable person looks at an object, be it a puddle of water, a building, a cloud formation, or an overlong internet comment (such as this), and then wonders ‘What sort of person did this?’ before deciding if said object is the likely product of design in the first place.

    When I say the Designer of ID is undefined, I’m not complaining that we don’t know His name, or what sort of Person He is. Rather, I’m saying we have no reason to think it’s a “person” at all – the nature and attributes of this hypothetical cause is undefined.

    NO ONE SIMPLY OBSERVES AN OBJECT AND ASSUMES IT TO BE WITHIN THE CAPABILITY OF THE DESIGNER. THE NATURE/ATTRIBUTES OF THE DESIGNER ARE LOGICALLY SUBORDINATE TO THE FIRST ORDER QUESTION OF DESIGN [steps off of soap box].

    That may be true in practice, but as far as ID theory goes, since ID refuses to describe the cause of these features, no feature could possibly be concluded to be outside the abilities of design.

    Logically the only corollary from a conclusion of design is that the designed object must fall within the abilities of the designing agent to produce it.

    You don’t understand the problem. You look at a car and say “it is designed”. What do you mean by that? You mean that it was planned and built by living human beings. In other words, by saying the car is designed, you have already made a huge number of inferences regarding the nature/attributes of the designer. If we then turn our attention to the universe and decide that it too was designed (because of the particular values of the physical constants), we obviously no longer mean that it was planned and built by human beings. So the question becomes, what is it that we do mean? ID never answers this question.

    RDF: So far so good, except you are assuming this nonhuman activity was conscious, which is a hypothesis that would have to be supported as well. Perhaps there is such a thing as a non-human entity that produces CSI without consciousness (human beings produce a great deal of CSI without conscious awareness, after all, and nobody understands how conscious awareness is actually involved in thought processes, whether it is causal or perceptual).
    OPT: Perhaps there are unicorns and flying spaghetti monsters too. Maybe in the vastness of the cosmos there is someone who actually looks good in a mullet. Who knows? But both they and your proposal of non-human, non-conscious CSI producers are just idle speculations.

    Yes, I couldn’t have said it better (or funnier) myself! I agree (except for the fact that humans do produce CSI without conscious awareness, as I’ve pointed out several times). Anyway, along with your other idle speculations is the idle speculation that some entity could be conscious without the physiological correlates of consciousness that neuroscience has identified. That means when you hypothesize some conscious agency existed prior to the first living thing, this is merely idle speculation of the very same sort. Nothing in our experience can design anything, or experience consciousness, unless they have a complex working brain, which is the most complex information processing mechanism known.

    You often object that it isn’t presently known whether consciousness is genuinely causal or merely perceptual. You also object to classifying consciousness as being somehow distinct from chance and necessity.

    Actually no, I object to classifying intelligence (or rather producing CSI) as being something that necessarily transcends chance and necessity. I consider consciousness very mysterious, and nobody has any idea what a theory that reduces consciousness to chance and necessity would even look like.

    Where consciousness is concerned, I give epistemological priority my first-person experience.

    Even then, our first-person experience does not actually support your view. Solutions to problems often “come to” people when we are not consciously thinking about the problem. I find this especially true when designing complex algorithms or working on difficult math problems. Moreover, when each of us designs grammatical sentences, we are not consciously aware of how we accomplish those designs.

    The onus is on the doubter to cogently articulate why consciousness is merely perceptual.

    Aside from the evidence that we all make complex designs without conscious awareness, there is evidence from cognitive psychology that suggests (but of course does not prove) that at least some (but perhaps all) of our decisions are the result of unconcious processes (see Benjamin Libet, Daniel Wegner, others), and we only become conscious of our decisions after they are made.

    Absent such articulation, in my mind there is no substantive objection to considering consciousness to be causal (provisionally, of course).

    And then, after the first-person observations, and after the laboratory experiments, there is yet another reason why it is idle speculation to imagine a conscious designer preceding first life (or preceding matter/energy itself): As far as we know, consciousness does not exist absent a working brain. Perhaps a brain is required for consciousness (as John Searle believes). Or perhaps any complex physical information processing mechanism could give rise to consciousness (as Pat Churchland believes). Or perhaps only certain types of machines that operate at the level of quantum gravity can give rise to consciousness (as Roger Penrose believes). Or… and on and on.

    In any case, just because people build complex machines and are conscious gives no reason to assume that any other process, system, attribute, force, entity, whatever is also going to be conscious. You can speculate that this would be the case, but you have no science to support your speculation.

    It should also be noted that in our experience of design, consciousness is unvaryingly present. You once objected that we could just as easily attribute design to some organ, a spleen perhaps. But no one has ever observed a dead body (non-conscious) with an intact spleen design anything. Ever. Further, it is widely known that the removal of said organ from a living person does little to inhibit ability to design. So there’s no compelling reason to consider spleens as likely candidates for causing design. To juxtapose spleens with consciousness in this context is infantile.

    You completely misunderstood the point about the spleen, but no matter. What you do need to note is that human beings design things not with their spleen, but with their brain (with some additional processing taking place in the enteric nervous system and other areas of the CNS). Any notion that something could have human-like mental experiences and abilities without a human-like brain is idle speculation.

    The point of my comment was simply that, given our uniform and repeated experience of designers creating functional information,

    What do you mean by “designers”? All of this rests squarely on your unsupported assumption that conscious awareness is causal of design, and yet another unsupported assumption that something lacking the physical correlates of consciousness that neuroscience has identified could still be conscious. Since there is no evidence that your assumptions are true, you are basing a theory on idle speculation.

    You are insistent that consciousness cannot be divorced from embodied humans. How do you know? Your metaphysical priors are preventing you acknowledging the bare possibility that it could be a distinct property/phenomenon not limited to humans. You’re committing the fallacy of omniscience.

    No, of course that’s not what I’m doing at all. I acknowledge the bare possibility of all sorts of idle speculation, including disembodied spirits! I simply reject that such speculation amounts to a scientific theory.

    Yes it’s true that we don’t understand everything about consciousness, but to pretend as if we can’t even draw the elementary connection between consciousness and design (problem-solving, etc.)is silly.

    This is the worst mistake you’ve made so far. Honestly I get the impression that you have no familiarity at all with cogntive psychology – is that the case? Again, read just a bit about the work of Daniel Wegner at Harvard to see that while nobody has experimentally confirmed any particular solution to the mind/body problem, it is most certainly not silly in the least to question the nature of the connection between conscious thought and design abilities.

    Many learned activities are performed more-or-less subconsciously, so there are undoubtedly aspects of this task that I don’t give deliberate attention to (for instance, as a touch typist I don’t deliberately seek out each key. I hit them reflexively).

    What we do in our unconscious is not simply learned routines that we invoke by reflex. You don’t consciously know the rules of grammar that enable you to produce the sentences you type, and you aren’t aware of the plans you are creating to operate your muscles in sequence so you can type. All of these very complex planning operations are performed without any conscious thought. People can hold entire coherent conversations without conscious awareness of them. I personally had a lecturer who suffered a stroke, and temporarily lost the ability to consciously understand what he himself was saying, although he could continue to speak coherently!

    But, nevertheless, I remain confident that this comment is the product of my conscious activity.

    Your confidence is misplaced. At least peruse some papers by Daniel Wegner at Harvard, and of course the experiments by Benjamin Libet if you’re not aware of them. Your opinion that it is a certain fact that our conscious will determines our goals, plans, and actions is only one of a number of issues that undermine the contention that ID is an empirically-supported theory.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  214. Hi Upright BiPed,

    There’s nothing you said about pheremones, codons, or energy states that I disagree with. I don’t take your point, though. Are you definining “intelligence” in terms of this observation? Something like “Intelligence is that which enables a system to respond in a systematic way to stimuli which are not related to the lowest total potential energy state of the medium”?

    In any case, you made a claim but failed to substantiate it. There is no religious and/or philosophical component to these observations.

    I agree about the observations; it is the inference made from these sorts of observations that ID makes that (depending on the version of ID being discussed) requires metaphysical commitments to dualism/libertarianism.

    The observations I have presented are only about the physical conditions of translating information from a material medium into a physical effect, and have nothing to do with the content of the information.

    Ok, so again, what is your point regarding this class of thing (symbol systems). Perhaps you’re just saying that in order for the latter type of signalling system to arise it would require “intelligence”. In that case, please tell me what you mean by “intelligence” execpt for “the ability to produce these sorts of symbol systems”.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  215. Hi StephenB,

    I can understand why the painter who is ontologically distinct from his painting could be (and would be) responsible for bringing it into being. What I don’t understand is how can the human artist that is not ontologically distinct from his artifact could be responsible for bringing it into being?

    I honestly can’t imagine why this is hard for you to understand.
    Let’s assume there is no ontological distinction between the painter and the paintbrush and the canvas and so on (in other words, we assume some sort of monism). Now we observe the painter dipping his paintbrushes and applying the paint to the canvas and a painting forms. What would you say is responsible for the painting coming into existence? I would say it was the painter! What’s the problem?

    Take another example: An avalanche comes down a mountain and crushes my log cabin. What is responsible for crushing the cabin? The avalanche of course, although there is no ontological difference (I assume) between the avalanche and the log cabin.

    RDF: Again, whether or not the painter and painting are ontologically distinct, yes of course the person with the paint brush putting the paint on the canvas is causing the painting to appear.
    SB: OK, good. Thank you. Do you think that you could infer the existence of the painter as an intelligent agent from that painting?

    Do you seriously not know my response to this? If I saw a painting I would be very certain that a human being was responsible. I know of no other living things that can create paintings (youtube videos of cats and elephants painting notwithstanding), and neither can non-living things create paintings (we’ll leave computer-generated paintings out of this for simplicity’s sake).

    You will never find a reference to any such criterion in the annals of historical science. It’s just something that you made up without even a modicum of support from any other source.

    How do you know that? Have you read every reference “in the annals of historical science”, including every tome that discusses the requirements and preferred methods for conducting science of this sort, and so you can say authoritatively that nobody mentions that a hypotheses that can explain anything at all, no matter what observation is made, cannot be considered to be empirically testable? No, you haven’t read every textbook I’m sure, and it should be obvious to you in any case that a hypothesis that can explain anything explains nothing.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  216. RDF

    Let’s assume there is no ontological distinction between the painter and the paintbrush and the canvas and so on (in other words, we assume some sort of monism).

    If there is no ontological distinction between the painter and his materials, then the painter is exactly the same thing as his materials.

    Now we observe the painter dipping his paintbrushes and applying the paint to the canvas and a painting forms.

    You just described four things. If the painter is exactly the same as his materials, then there is just one thing to observe, nor four.

    What would you say is responsible for the painting coming into existence? I would say it was the painter! What’s the problem?

    If the painter is exactly the same thing as his materials and his painting, then he can’t precede the painting in order to bring it into existence. That would be the same thing as preceding himself.

    Take another example: An avalanche comes down a mountain and crushes my log cabin. What is responsible for crushing the cabin? The avalanche of course, although there is no ontological difference (I assume) between the avalanche and the log cabin.

    That doesn’t work for two reasons. First, the avalanche is an event, not a thing. Second, if their is no ontological distinction between the avalanche and the log cabin, then the avalanche is the log cabin and cannot, therefore, bury itself.

    If I saw a painting I would be very certain that a human being was responsible. I know of no other living things that can create paintings (youtube videos of cats and elephants painting notwithstanding), and neither can non-living things create paintings (we’ll leave computer-generated paintings out of this for simplicity’s sake).

    That doesn’t really answer the question. Even if you know that only humans can create paintings, how do you know that the painting in question is one of them? How do you make the inference from that particular effect to that particular cause?

    SB: You will never find a reference to any such criterion in the annals of historical science. It’s just something that you made up without even a modicum of support from any other source.

    How do you know that? Have you read every reference “in the annals of historical science.”

    I don’t know it with logical certainty, but I know it beyond a reasonable doubt–the same way that I know beyond a reasonable doubt that you are not familiar with the standards of historical science–the same way I know beyond a reasonable doubt that you just made up your own method uninformed by the standards of historical science.

  217. RDFish STILL stands refuted- by Dr Behe himself:

    One last charge must be met: Orr maintains that the theory of intelligent design is not falsifiable. He’s wrong. To falsify design theory a scientist need only experimentally demonstrate that a bacterial flagellum, or any other comparably complex system, could arise by natural selection. If that happened I would conclude that neither flagella nor any system of similar or lesser complexity had to have been designed. In short, biochemical design would be neatly disproved.- Dr Behe in 1997

  218. 219

    RDF,

    There’s nothing you said about pheromones, codons, or energy states that I disagree with … I agree about the observations

    And so… given that our “inability to identify an agent at the origin of life” does not alter these observations, the empirical inference to an organized intelligent entity (referencing my short post at #173) is made complete. Consequently, your on-going claim that ID has no empirical basis is quite obviously false, and will need to be rescued through several rounds of definition derby over terms such as “intelligence” and “agent”. You are welcome to accomplish that task without my involvement.

    As for what is left, your clean-up position is that the existence of an agent is unlikely because we have no evidence to suggest that one exists (obviously ignoring the evidence which you agree with). To this I say “so what”. That’s the position you’ve chosen, even though your justification is incoherent.

  219. Re RDF:

    Let’s assume there is no ontological distinction between the painter and the paintbrush and the canvas and so on

    Already a big worldview level question-begging definition, that traipses into metaphysics while wearing the lab coat.

    You cannot assume that, if you wish to reason soundly.

    KF

  220. Hi UB,

    As for what is left, your clean-up position is that the existence of an agent is unlikely because we have no evidence to suggest that one exists (obviously ignoring the evidence which you agree with).

    None of what you pointed out regarding symbol systems has anything to do with evidence of an “intelligent agent”, obviously, unless you believe that a codon is an intelligent agent? You are terribly confused.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  221. Hi StephenB,

    If there is no ontological distinction between the painter and his materials, then the painter is exactly the same thing as his materials.

    I honestly have no idea how to make sense out of what you just said. A dog is exactly the same thing as a cat? A cloud is exactly the same thing as a peanut? There are no ontological differences among these things, but to say that they are all exactly the same thing is simply weird. Even for you.

    RDF: Now we observe the painter dipping his paintbrushes and applying the paint to the canvas and a painting forms.
    SB: You just described four things. If the painter is exactly the same as his materials, then there is just one thing to observe, nor four.

    What are you talking about it?

    If the painter is exactly the same thing as his materials and his painting, then he can’t precede the painting in order to bring it into existence. That would be the same thing as preceding himself.

    Maybe you are making a joke? Haha, a lion is the exact same thing as a snowflake, and a grain of sand is exactly the same thing as turtle…. Do you perhaps live in Colorado, where they recently legalized recreational marijuana? Just asking… :-)

    RDF: Take another example: An avalanche comes down a mountain and crushes my log cabin. What is responsible for crushing the cabin? The avalanche of course, although there is no ontological difference (I assume) between the avalanche and the log cabin.
    SB: That doesn’t work for two reasons. First, the avalanche is an event, not a thing.

    Huh? An avalanche is a bunch of moving snow; a painter is a moving person. What is with you today?

    Second, if their is no ontological distinction between the avalanche and the log cabin, then the avalanche is the log cabin and cannot, therefore, bury itself.

    Uh, OK Stephen. If we can’t agree that there is a difference between an avalanche and a log cabin, no wonder we cannot agree on anything else. Once again, I am very happy to let the fair reader decide which of us is completely incoherent.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  222. RDFish:

    None of what you pointed out regarding symbol systems has anything to do with evidence of an “intelligent agent”, …

    Yes it does unless you can show nature putting together functional semiotic codes.

    Again when there is only one known source for something, that is the knowledge we have to go with.

  223. 224

    RDF:

    simply provide examples (or even one single example) of something we might find in the fossil record, or in living biological systems, or anywhere else, that would 1) indicate that some conscious being existed before life on Earth

    UB:

    1) A translation apparatus producing unambiguous function, with the following physical system:

    • A set of arrangements of matter to evoke specific physical effects within a system, where the arrangements of the matter are physicochemically arbitrary to the effects they evoke

    • A preserved discontinuity between the arrangements of the information-bearing medium and the effects they evoke within the system

    • A second set of arrangements of matter to establish the otherwise non-existent (i.e. local) relationships between the arrangements of the information-bearing medium and their effects.

    2) A translation apparatus that also includes:

    • An information-bearing medium using a finite set of objects as an iterative dimensional representation, requiring systematic constraints in addition to the mapping of effects (i.e. establishment of the object set, symbol syntax, a start function, a stop function, etc).

    • An information-bearing medium whose individuating characteristics are thermodynamically inert.

    - – - – - – - – - -

    Set #1 is only found within the living kingdom (i.e. a universal inference to pre-existing organization), and set #2 is only found in the translation of language and mathematics (i.e. a universal inference to higher intelligence).

    RDF:

    None of what you pointed out regarding symbol systems has anything to do with evidence of an “intelligent agent”

    Predicted.

  224. RDF

    I honestly have no idea how to make sense out of what you just said. A dog is exactly the same thing as a cat? A cloud is exactly the same thing as a peanut? There are no ontological differences among these things, but to say that they are all exactly the same thing is simply weird. Even for you.

    We are discussing your argument–not mine. Indeed, a dog is not a cat because there IS an ontological distinction between them. If there is NO ontological distinction between them, which is the basis for your argument, then a dog is a cat.

    Similarly, If there is NO ontological distinction between the painter and his painting, then the painter is his painting, which would mean that he could not be the cause of his own painting.

    Again, tt is your argument not mine.

    If the human artist is not ontologically distinct from the artifact, then the human artist is responsible for bringing the artifact into being.

    Obviously, your argument is irrational. It is only because the painter IS ontologically distinct from the painting that he can bring the painting into being.

    Similarly, you argue on the basis that an avalanche is also the cabin that it buries:

    Take another example: An avalanche comes down a mountain and crushes my log cabin. What is responsible for crushing the cabin? The avalanche of course, although there is no ontological difference (I assume) between the avalanche and the log cabin.

    This is the kind of trouble you get into when you try to deny obvious truths. Eventually, the irrational nature of your arguments are revealed.

    Once again, I am very happy to let the fair reader decide which of us is completely incoherent.

    I am not the one who argued on the basis that there need not be an ontological distinction between the cause and its effect. You are.

    By all means, let the fair reader decide.

    Let the fair reader also decide why you evaded my question about how you inferred the painter from his artifact. Let the fair reader also decide if you invented your own self-serving, novel, and unproven methods for evaluating ID or if you based them on the proven methods of historical science, about which you are unfamiliar and uninterested.

  225. Greetings everyone

    RDFish at 222

    Uh, OK Stephen. If we can’t agree that there is a difference between an avalanche and a log cabin, no wonder we cannot agree on anything else. Once again, I am very happy to let the fair reader decide which of us is completely incoherent.

    This is in relation to the following:

    StephenB at 217

    If there is no ontological distinction between the painter and his materials, then the painter is exactly the same thing as his materials.

    RDFish at 222

    I honestly have no idea how to make sense out of what you just said. A dog is exactly the same thing as a cat? A cloud is exactly the same thing as a peanut? There are no ontological differences among these things, but to say that they are all exactly the same thing is simply weird. Even for you.

    Sorry, but Stephen was very coherent here. If two objects A and B have the same identity, then they are ontologically the same. Ontology is the study of identity anyway.

    From Wikipedia:

    The identity of indiscernibles is an ontological principle which states that there cannot be separate objects or entities that have all their properties in common. That is, entities x and y are identical if every predicate possessed by x is also possessed by y and vice versa;…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.....scernibles

    A minor thing:
    StephenB at 217

    That doesn’t work for two reasons. First, the avalanche is an event, not a thing.

    RDFish at 222

    Huh? An avalanche is a bunch of moving snow; a painter is a moving person. What is with you today?

    As for the avalanche, StephenB was also right. From Wikipedia:

    An avalanche (also called a snowslide or snowslip) is a rapid flow of snow down a sloping surface.

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

    Note the phrase “rapid flow”. Thus, it is an event.

    After seeing how this discussion has transpired, what I see is that you think the idea of a non-human entity without consciousness is untestable scientifically. In a metaphysical sense, this might be the case when we consider the issue of first causes. (But one cannot deny it is possible to reach a metaphysical conclusion using scientific data). But the thing I think you are not considering is that not all ID people go into the first cause of all things.

    If the ID claim is (as I am not sure what it is) “None of the biological systems can occur by law/necessity and chance”, then mark the word none.

    In other words, to prove them false, all that needs to be shown is that law/necessity and chance can produce a biological system which ID proponents claim cannot happen.

    As you know, some have switched from believing “a non-human entity without problem-solving skills made biological systems” to “a non-human entity with problem solving skills made biological systems” just using data they had at their disposal. StephenB gave an example.

    I know your objection is that we do not understand much about our sense of self-awareness and how it is related to our ability to design things and our problem solving skills. I’ll not argue against that. But from what I know, problem solving systems for error correction (correction mechanisms) shows that an aim needs to be reached and maintained. Of course, if you disagree with me here, then, fine. I cannot argue with anyone who denies such obviousness.

  226. Hi StephenB,

    Indeed, a dog is not a cat because there IS an ontological distinction between them. If there is NO ontological distinction between them, which is the basis for your argument, then a dog is a cat.

    I see. Since you have no responses to my arguments against ID (i.e. no evidence that ET life forms ever existed; no evidence that any other sort of intelligent being ever existed; no evidence that human-like thought can proceed without a human-like brain, and much evidence to the contrary; no evidence that mental abilities transcend physical cause; no operational definition of “intelligent cause”; no theoretical specification of “intelligent cause”, and so on) you have decided to derail the conversion into a silly semantic game again.

    We were talking about metaphysical ontology, specifically about whether or not intelligence somehow transcends chance + necessity (that is, if dualism/libertarianism is true). My point was that much of ID relies on the metaphysical assumption that it does. Rather than address my point, you took off on this ridiculous detour where you say things like a cloud is the exact same thing as a peanut.

    My suggestion would be this: If you feel you are losing an argument, just say “I don’t want to talk it about it any more”, and then I’ll say OK!

    Let the fair reader also decide why you evaded my question about how you inferred the painter from his artifact.

    I answered this question, just as I’ve answered all of your questions: We recognize paintings as something that human beings produce. I think the fair reader will recognize that you are the one who evades my questions, and not the reverse.

    Let the fair reader also decide if you invented your own self-serving, novel, and unproven methods for evaluating ID or if you based them on the proven methods of historical science, about which you are unfamiliar and uninterested.

    And here, the fair reader will observe that you are taking this entire “proven methods of historical science” argument from Stephen Meyer’s book or other ID tracts, who put it together as a self-serving, novel, and biased justification intended to make ID theory look as though it is scientific. Most instructive is that you keep appealing to this holy method by indirect allusion to these methods, but you fail to actually say what particular aspect of historical science I am neglecting to respect.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  227. Hi seventrees,

    This is in relation to the following:
    StephenB at 217
    If there is no ontological distinction between the painter and his materials, then the painter is exactly the same thing as his materials.

    Yes, and that was in relation to the following:

    RDF @196:
    “Ontology” is the study of that which fundamentally exists in reality, or the nature of being. Some people think that there are two different sorts of things in the universe, the physical (matter/energy) and the mental. These people are called dualists, and they believe that when human beings think and make decisions, the mental cause (either a mental substance, or a special non-physical property of some sort) is what causes the physical result. Other people, called physicalists, disagree, and hold that when human beings think and make decisions, those mental processes are physical just like everything else.

    Sorry, but Stephen was very coherent here. If two objects A and B have the same identity, then they are ontologically the same. Ontology is the study of identity anyway.

    No Stephen has jumped the shark, and no, ontology per se is not the study of identity. Here is what ontology is, from your own preferred reference:

    FROM http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontology

    Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

    Which is just what I said @196. We are talking about the basic categories of being, or metaphysical ontology. What you quoted was regarding the identify of indiscernables, which is a particular application of ontological principles to questions regarding identity. In the context of our discussion, the identity of indiscernibles was not at issue. Rather, metaphysical ontology is at issue, because I’ve pointed out that (some versions of) ID relies on the metaphysical claim that intelligence transcends physical cause.

    After seeing how this discussion has transpired, what I see is that you think the idea of a non-human entity without consciousness is untestable scientifically.

    Of course there are non-human entities without consciousness; a rock is such a thing.

    But the thing I think you are not considering is that not all ID people go into the first cause of all things.

    Oh yes, I’m aware that if you ask five people ID supporters what they believe are the assumptions, explanandum, and explanans of ID theory, you are likely to get seven different answers.

    If the ID claim is (as I am not sure what it is) “None of the biological systems can occur by law/necessity and chance”, then mark the word none.

    This claim makes the unsupported metaphysical assumption that anything occurs outside of law/necessity+chance. If that is the claim ID is making, it needs to show that this metaphysical assumption can be demonstrated. It can start by showing that human design activities are something other than law/necessity and chance.

    As you know, some have switched from believing “a non-human entity without problem-solving skills made biological systems” to “a non-human entity with problem solving skills made biological systems” just using data they had at their disposal. StephenB gave an example.

    What problem solving skills do you believe the data shows aside from the production of the biological systems we seek to explain? For example, can the non-human entity responsible for life explain what it did, and why? Is this entity in fact consciously aware of its actions at all? How do you know?

    I know your objection is that we do not understand much about our sense of self-awareness and how it is related to our ability to design things and our problem solving skills. I’ll not argue against that.

    That is one of many of my objections, yes.

    But from what I know, problem solving systems for error correction (correction mechanisms) shows that an aim needs to be reached and maintained. Of course, if you disagree with me here, then, fine. I cannot argue with anyone who denies such obviousness.

    Apparently you can’t argue with someone who does not deny such obviousness either, or at least very well. Whatever you mean by aim (usually it is associated with negative feedback systems), I have never said such a thing was not involved.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  228. RDFish:

    Since you have no responses to my arguments against ID (i.e. no evidence that ET life forms ever existed; no evidence that any other sort of intelligent being ever existed; no evidence that human-like thought can proceed without a human-like brain, and much evidence to the contrary; no evidence that mental abilities transcend physical cause; no operational definition of “intelligent cause”; no theoretical specification of “intelligent cause”, and so on) you have decided to derail the conversion into a silly semantic game again.

    It has been pointed that that you wouldn’t know what such evidence looks like. It has also been pointed out that you are wrong wrt falsfying ID.

    You are quite finished. Thank you.

  229. Rather, metaphysical ontology is at issue, because I’ve pointed out that (some versions of) ID relies on the metaphysical claim that intelligence transcends physical cause.

    As Scott Minnich once said “If the evidence leads us to the metaphysical, then so be it.” Science is about reality only.

  230. RDF

    I see. Since you have no responses to my arguments against ID (i.e. no evidence that ET life forms ever existed; no evidence that any other sort of intelligent being ever existed; no evidence that human-like thought can proceed without a human-like brain, and much evidence to the contrary; no evidence that mental abilities transcend physical cause; no operational definition of “intelligent cause”; no theoretical specification of “intelligent cause”, and so on) you have decided to derail the conversion into a silly semantic game again.

    In other words, you would prefer to change the subject after having been soundly refuted. If you don’t yet understand why you were so spectacularly wrong, I suggest you read seventrees points @226. You are just going to have to learn to be more gracious when you lose an argument.

    We were talking about metaphysical ontology, specifically about whether or not intelligence somehow transcends chance + necessity (that is, if dualism/libertarianism is true).

    I know very well what we were talking about, which is why I pointed out that causes must be ontologically distinct from their effects, a point which you paid a very heavy price for trying to deny.

    My point was that much of ID relies on the metaphysical assumption that it does. Rather than address my point, you took off on this ridiculous detour where you say things like a cloud is the exact same thing as a peanut.

    And I pointed out that that an legitimate assumption in the form of a scientific hypothesis that is to be evaluated by an empirical methodology is not the same thing as an illegitimate assumption in the form of a metaphysical commitment that intrudes itself in the evaluation process and assumes its own conclusion. The first is ID; the second is your misguided characterization of ID. You continue to conflate the two. I made this very clear. The ridiculous part, as I proved with your own quotes, came from your arguments, not mine. Both kairosfocus and seventrees picked up on it and commented on it.

    SB: Let the fair reader also decide why you evaded my question about how you inferred the painter from his artifact.

    I answered this question, just as I’ve answered all of your questions: We recognize paintings as something that human beings produce. I think the fair reader will recognize that you are the one who evades my questions, and not the reverse.

    You did not answer the question. You just tried to work your way around it. As I wrote:

    Even if you know that only humans can create paintings, how do you know that the painting in question is one of them? How do you make the inference from that particular effect to that particular cause?

    The question remains unanswered.

    Most instructive is that you keep appealing to this holy method by indirect allusion to these methods, but you fail to actually say what particular aspect of historical science I am neglecting to respect.

    That is an untrue statement. I have specified the methods several times and even predicted that you would dismiss them immediately upon learning about them—which you did. At @137, for example, I wrote this:

    You are silent about [a] The science of past causes, [b] Abductive reasoning, [c] Inferences to the best explanation, [d] uniformitarianism, [e] multiple competing hypotheses, [f] causal adequacy, [g] causes now in operation, and even [h] The main question on the table (How did the appearance of design in living systems arise)? Each of these approaches is consistent with the other and all are empirically-grounded. It is the greatest folly, then, to claim that ID’s arguments are not empirical without even knowing the rationale on which they are based.

    To which you responded,

    I’m silent about these things?? Why should I give a dissertation on these things?

    So, clearly you are not telling the truth. It is yet another example of how you try to rewrite history to avoid refutation.

  231. Hi StephenB,

    If you don’t yet understand why you were so spectacularly wrong, I suggest you read seventrees points @226. You are just going to have to learn to be more gracious when you lose an argument.

    If you actually thought seventrees was going to rescue you from your conceptual blunders, read my corrections to him at @228.

    RDF: We were talking about metaphysical ontology, specifically about whether or not intelligence somehow transcends chance + necessity (that is, if dualism/libertarianism is true).
    SB: I know very well what we were talking about, which is why I pointed out that causes must be ontologically distinct from their effects, a point which you paid a very heavy price for trying to deny.

    Reality check: You were left claiming the clouds and peanuts were the exact same identical things, a position that not even the most addled ID proponent would agree about in their heart of hearts. I’ve shown once again that ID assumes dualism/libertarianism, which renders it unscientific, and all you come back with is “a dog is a cat is a cloud is a peanut”. Do you ever feel embarassed?

    Both kairosfocus and seventrees picked up on it and commented on it.

    KF’s last comment apparently was regarding my suggestion of a counterfactual assumption to accept arguendo to show materialism doesn’t conflict with the idea that painters create paintings. His take was I was wrong to make that assumption! :-) KF is like a rodeo clown jumping out of barrels to distract the bull. And as for seventrees, he actually didn’t even understand the meaning of “ontology”. So I wouldn’t be appealing to your peanut gallery for support here; you’re doing poorly enough as it is.

    RDF: We recognize paintings as something that human beings produce. I think the fair reader will recognize that you are the one who evades my questions, and not the reverse.
    SB: You did not answer the question. You just tried to work your way around it. As I wrote:
    Even if you know that only humans can create paintings, how do you know that the painting in question is one of them? How do you make the inference from that particular effect to that particular cause?
    The question remains unanswered.

    Rather than your tiresome attempt at Socratic questioning, why don’t you just make a point? It certainly seems you’ve just said that if all paintings are created by humans, and X is a painting, how do we know that X was created by a human? If that is actually your questions, then the answer, of course, is modus ponens.

    RDF: Most instructive is that you keep appealing to this holy method by indirect allusion to these methods, but you fail to actually say what particular aspect of historical science I am neglecting to respect.
    SB: That is an untrue statement. I have specified the methods several times and even predicted that you would dismiss them immediately upon learning about them—which you did. At @137, for example, I wrote this:

    You are silent about [a] The science of past causes, [b] Abductive reasoning, [c] Inferences to the best explanation, [d] uniformitarianism, [e] multiple competing hypotheses, [f] causal adequacy, [g] causes now in operation, and even [h] The main question on the table (How did the appearance of design in living systems arise)? Each of these approaches is consistent with the other and all are empirically-grounded. It is the greatest folly, then, to claim that ID’s arguments are not empirical without even knowing the rationale on which they are based.

    To which you responded,

    I’m silent about these things?? Why should I give a dissertation on these things?

    So, clearly you are not telling the truth. It is yet another example of how you try to rewrite history to avoid refutation.

    I’ll give you a break here and pretend that you are in good faith with what you just wrote. I’ve asked you to tell me which of these principles I have violated, or ignored, and how. Your response is simply to list these principles again. As far as I can see, every argument I’ve made is perfectly consistent with every one of these principles in this context, and ID fails to meet the requirements of an historical science. If you disagree (which you do), then instead of accusing me of ignorance regarding science, you actually have to say why one of my arguments runs counter to one of these principles.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

    By the way, StephenB, our debate is certainly adversarial as always, and as should be expected, but I will say you have refrained from real personal attacks. Thank you!

  232. seventrees:

    Sorry, but Stephen was very coherent here. If two objects A and B have the same identity, then they are ontologically the same. Ontology is the study of identity anyway.

    Of course seventrees is correct. If two objects A and B have the same identity, or as RDF puts if, if they are “not ontologically distinct,” they are ontologically the same. It would also mean that the designer (A) could not bring the design (B) into being since the cause would be synonymous with the effect, which is madness. Thus, in spite of RDF’s irrational protests to the contrary, we can all understand that the designer (cause) must be ontologically distinct from the design (efffect).

    RDF

    No Stephen has jumped the shark, and no, ontology per se is not the study of identity. Here is what ontology is, from your own preferred reference:

    Notice again, how RDF tries to change the subject by mocking my point and laboring over the definition of ontology, which is not at issue. What is at issue is RDF’s failed attempt at advancing a rational argument.

  233. RDFish:

    If you actually thought seventrees was going to rescue you from your conceptual blunders,…

    Obviously no one is coming to try to rescue you from all of your blunders… :)

  234. Hi RDFish

    Ontology per se is not the study of identity.

    According to that definition, is what I said per se not in that category? One question of ontology is this:

    What constitutes the identity of an object?

    As you stated,

    What you quoted was regarding the identify of indiscernables, which is a particular application of ontological principles to questions regarding identity.

    What I typed there was just a generalization I made according to some quick searches, and looking at the Greek derivative of the word (Onto = To be, which represents identity. Logia = Study). My mistake for not citing my sources and not being nuanced.

    Rather, metaphysical ontology is at issue, because I’ve pointed out that (some versions of) ID relies on the metaphysical claim that intelligence transcends physical cause.

    I see. Nevertheless, for anything to be ontologically the same, they must have the same properties. So, even if we scrape dualism out of this, it wouldn’t still change the fact that ontological differences still exist, even if we are just composed of matter. That is why I considered Stephen’s statement

    If there is no ontological distinction between the painter and his materials, then the painter is exactly the same thing as his materials.

    coherent at face value.

    I typed

    After seeing how this discussion has transpired, what I see is that you think the idea of a non-human entity without consciousness is untestable scientifically.

    And you replied with:

    Of course there are non-human entities without consciousness; a rock is such a thing.

    After re-reading my above post a few number of times, I still didn’t see my mistake there. It was supposed to be

    After seeing how this discussion has transpired, what I see is that you think the idea of a non-human entity with consciousness is untestable scientifically.

    Concerning the following

    Whatever you mean by aim (usually it is associated with negative feedback systems), I have never said such a thing was not involved.

    Neither did I imply you did. The obviousness I was talking about was “aim”, as in “goals”. Nevertheless, your issues are crystal clear to me, considering this statement:

    This claim makes the unsupported metaphysical assumption that anything occurs outside of law/necessity+chance. If that is the claim ID is making, it needs to show that this metaphysical assumption can be demonstrated. It can start by showing that human design activities are something other than law/necessity and chance.

    This needs more robust data. How to obtain such data? I do not know. So far, the anecdotes which were posted by Box at 100 seem to hint at something.

    Nevertheless, one cannot deny it is possible to reach a metaphysical conclusion using scientific data. In fact, we wouldn’t be talking about law/necessity + chance if matter and energy did not even come into existence at some point in time.

  235. (Onto = To be, which represents identity. Logia = Study)

    More accurately,

    (Onto = To be, which represents existence. Logia = Study). Though, any entity has an identity.

  236. RDF:

    If you actually thought seventrees was going to rescue you from your conceptual blunders, read my corrections to him at @228.

    I would like to say, “nice try,” but I can’t even say that. Everybody gets it but you. Your argument for ontological non-distinction was thoroughly trashed. At this point, you don’t even bother to try to defend it, which is a very wise move.

    You were left claiming the clouds and peanuts were the exact same identical things, a position that not even the most addled ID proponent would agree about in their heart of hearts.

    On the contrary, I was characterizing your argument for ontological non-distinction. I know that the painter cannot be the same as his painting, just as I know that a cloud cannot also be a peanut. Obviously, you don’t. As you say in your own words,

    If the human artist is not ontologically distinct from the artifact, then the human artist is responsible for bringing the artifact into being

    You can’t escape your argument (which you made more than once [I can verify that point as well] much less can you attribute it to me. No one would ever believe such nonsense. Even you don’t believe it. Why don’t you just admit that you made a logical blunder and move one.

    I’ve asked you to tell me which of these principles I have violated, or ignored, and how. Your response is simply to list these principles again.

    Well–duh– yeah. If you ask which principles you ignored (you didn’t ask me “how you violated them”) the only thing I can do is make a list of them. You do a lot of that, RD. When you get refuted, you move the goalposts.

  237. Hi seventrees,

    Nevertheless, for anything to be ontologically the same, they must have the same properties.

    Not true either I’m afraid. They must be of the same ontological category, but may have any number of differing properties. A blue rock and a green rock are ontologically the same, but have different “color” properties.

    So, even if we scrape dualism out of this, it wouldn’t still change the fact that ontological differences still exist, even if we are just composed of matter.

    Nobody knows if there is such a thing as an ontological difference, because nobody knows if different ontological categories exist. However, we are all certain that other sorts of differences occur, because a cloud is not a peanut.

    If there is no ontological distinction between the painter and his materials, then the painter is exactly the same thing as his materials.

    This statement is false (and very bizarre). Ontologically speaking, the only question is whether or not the human painter has a mind that transcends (is ontologically distinct from) the physical. Both physicalists and dualists (but not idealists) agree the painting materials are physical.

    After seeing how this discussion has transpired, what I see is that you think the idea of a non-human entity with consciousness is untestable scientifically.

    Of course there are non-human entities with consciousness; a dog is such a thing.

    This needs more robust data. How to obtain such data? I do not know. So far, the anecdotes which were posted by Box at 100 seem to hint at something.

    I fully agree. The data comes from what is usually called “paranormal research” in universities. One of my big complaints about ID “research” is that it doesn’t even try to engage this sort of research.

    Nevertheless, one cannot deny it is possible to reach a metaphysical conclusion using scientific data.

    Of course – that is exactly how we turn metaphysics into physics!

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  238. Hi StephenB,

    Your argument for ontological non-distinction was thoroughly trashed. At this point, you don’t even bother to try to defend it, which is a very wise move.

    Because of my copious patience and good will, I will once again explain the faults in your reasoning, as hard as it is to imagine you are sincere in your confusion.

    1) I argued that ID rests on implicit dualism/libertarianism
    2) You countered by saying that wasn’t true; ID only rested on a difference between designer and designed. You then started asking if a painter was the same as the painting.
    3) I explained that if we look at the ontological categories of dualism and physicalism, some people believe that the painting belongs to one category (purely physical things) while the painting belongs to another category (things with minds).
    4) You jumped the shark and started saying that everything which was physical was exactly and identically the same – a dog was a cat was a cloud was a peanut.
    5) I pointed out that was completely loony.

    And that’s pretty much where we left it.

    On the contrary, I was characterizing your argument for ontological non-distinction.

    For the 15th time: Things can be of the same ontological category yet still be different. Write this 100 times on the blackboard, and then perhaps it will sink in.

    I know that the painter cannot be the same as his painting, just as I know that a cloud cannot also be a peanut.

    Great! Perhaps whatever you were smoking is wearing off?

    Obviously, you don’t.

    AAAAHahahahaha – that’s a good one!

    As you say in your own words,

    If the human artist is not ontologically distinct from the artifact, then the human artist is responsible for bringing the artifact into being

    YES OF COURSE!
    1) IF the artist is NOT ontologically distinct from the artifact, THEN the artist is responsible for bringing the artifact into being. [THIS WOULD BE THE CASE IF PHYSICALISM WAS TRUE]
    2) IF the artist IS ontologically distinct from the artifact, THEN the artist is STILL responsible for bringing the artifact into being. [THIS WOULD BE THE CASE IF DUALISM WAS TRUE]

    I said it before and I’ll say it again and anyone else who is currently sober and sane should agree with both of these statements.

    You can’t escape your argument

    Why would I want to do that? I’m perfectly and obvious correct about every point!

    No one would ever believe such nonsense. Even you don’t believe it. Why don’t you just admit that you made a logical blunder and move one.

    WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

    If you ask which principles you ignored (you didn’t ask me “how you violated them”) the only thing I can do is make a list of them.

    AAAHahahaha, another good one, SB! Ok, I’ll play straight man: Please tell me how I violated any of the principles you listed. :-)

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  239. RDF

    Because of my copious patience and good will, I will once again explain the faults in your reasoning, as hard as it is to imagine you are sincere in your confusion.

    As we have discovered, you will say anything to create a distraction from having been refuted. Your distraction did not work, as some readers have explained to you.

    I argued that ID rests on implicit dualism/libertarianism

    You countered by saying that wasn’t true; ID only rested on a difference between designer and designed.

    You argued that ID cannot be empirical because stands on the metaphysical assumption of dualism. I corrected you by pointing out that that a legitimate assumption in the form of a scientific hypothesis that is to be evaluated by an empirical methodology is not the same thing as an illegitimate assumption in the form of a metaphysical commitment that intrudes itself in the evaluation process and assumes its own conclusion. The first is ID; the second is your misguided characterization of ID. You continue to conflate the two. Naturally, you slept through the correction because you wanted to sleep through it.

    I explained that if we look at the ontological categories of dualism and physicalism, some people believe that the painting belongs to one category (purely physical things) while the painting belongs to another category (things with minds)

    Things can be of the same ontological category yet still be different.

    Of course, that is obvious. But you went further. You said that the designer can be identical with its design. That is when you went off the rails.

    You jumped the shark and started saying that everything which was physical was exactly and identically the same – a dog was a cat was a cloud was a peanut.

    You are too funny. Just to give readers an indication of how desperate you are, I will provide the exact quotes:

    I said this, if there is no ontological distinction between the painter and his materials, then the painter is exactly the same thing as his materials. This is absolutely correct. We know that the painter and his materials ARE ontologically distinct, meaning they are different things. To say that they are NOT ontologically distinct is to say that they are exactly the same thing.

    You responded with this insane comment:

    I honestly have no idea how to make sense out of what you just said. A dog is exactly the same thing as a cat? A cloud is exactly the same thing as a peanut? There are no ontological differences among these things, but to say that they are all exactly the same thing is simply weird. Even for you.

    In other words, you consciously and maliciously elided the qualifying clause for the express purpose of misleading my beloved readers. That is why you made it a point to avoid reproducing my quote as it was written. This is sad. It is the true mark of desperate man who has no where else to go. I am starting to feel sorry for you.

    For the 15th time: Things can be of the same ontological category yet still be different. Write this 100 times on the blackboard, and then perhaps it will sink in.

    Everyone knows this and I never denied it. To say that two things cannot be identical, as I did, is not to say that they cannot be in the same class. Take your strawman and ask him to spank you for being so disingenuous.

    Now write this on the blackboard: “The designer and the design must always be ontologically distinct. I, RDFish, repent of advancing the nonsensical notion that the designer and his design need not be ontologically distinct since that would mean that the designer and his design would be identical. I, RDFish, also repent of willfully and maliciously removing qualifying words and phrases from my dialogue partner’s sentences for the express purpose of misrepresenting what he said.”

    If the human artist is not ontologically distinct from the artifact, then the human artist is responsible for bringing the artifact into being

    Thank you for reminding us that you said that since that comment gets at the heart of your unfettered nonsense. If the human artist is not ontologically distinct from the artifact, then the human artist would be identical with his artifact. That would mean that the human artist, being identical with its artifact, could not precede it in order to bring it into being. In other words, your statement is totally irrational. (Watch out folks, RDF may, as he did previously, remove the IF CLAUSE and attribute to me the remainder of the sentence without the qualifier. The poor guy) LOL.

  240. Hi RDFish
    Me:

    Nevertheless, for anything to be ontologically the same, they must have the same properties.

    You:

    Not true either I’m afraid. They must be of the same ontological category, but may have any number of differing properties. A blue rock and a green rock are ontologically the same, but have different “color” properties.

    A subset of the ontology is the law of indiscernibles. Thus, I don’t see why it is wrong to state entities are ontologically the same if they are indiscernible, even if they are of the same ontological category.

    On this issue, I’ll agree to disagree with you.

    Nobody knows if there is such a thing as an ontological difference, because nobody knows if different ontological categories exist. However, we are all certain that other sorts of differences occur, because a cloud is not a peanut.

    Why make a claim like you knew everyone’s observations?

    Me:

    After seeing how this discussion has transpired, what I see is that you think the idea of a non-human entity with consciousness is untestable scientifically.

    You:

    Of course there are non-human entities with consciousness; a dog is such a thing.

    Thanks for pointing out my lack of clarity (if that was your intention). But I’ll not rephrase my statement as you have already pointed out your problem.

    Of course – that is exactly how we turn metaphysics into physics!

    I do not understand what you mean here.

  241. I typed

    Thus, I don’t see why it is wrong to state entities are ontologically the same if they are indiscernible, even if they are of the same ontological category.

    To prevent lack of clarity, it should be:

    Thus, I don’t see why it is wrong to state entities are not ontologically the same if they are discernible, even if they are of the same ontological category.

  242. seventrees:

    Nevertheless, for anything to be ontologically the same, they must have the same properties.

    RDFish

    Not true either I’m afraid. They must be of the same ontological category, but may have any number of differing properties. A blue rock and a green rock are ontologically the same, but have different “color” properties.

    Well, not so fast. If by ontologically the same we mean “exactly the same thing” then they must have the same properties. If by ontologically the same, we mean “in the same category,” then they may have different properties. Fortunately, there is no such ambiguity in my explicitly negative formulation.

    If there is no ontological distinction between two rocks, then there can be no difference in colors or anything else, since a difference in color would be an ontological distinction. Thus, to say that there is no ontological distinction between the two rocks is to say that they are the same rock.

    Similarly, to say that there is no ontological distinction between the dog and the can is to say that they are exactly the same animal. To say that there is no ontological distinction between the designer and the thing designed is to say that they are exactly the same thing.

    Interestingly, the latter statement would be even more outrageous than the former since the dog and the cat are, at least, in the same category, while the design and the designer are in different categories.

    Nevertheless, RDF argues that even if there is no ontological distinction between the designer and the thing designed, the designer can bring the design into being. Of course, this is madness. A designer can be the cause of a design only if the former is not the same thing as the latter.

    Indeed, if there is no ontological distinction between the designer and the thing designed, then there is no ontological distinction between the cause and the effect. That would mean that the cause and effect are exactly the same thing. Naturally, this is all lost on RDF.

  243. Something I just noticed.

    RDFish, you stated:

    This statement is false (and very bizarre). Ontologically speaking, the only question is whether or not the human painter has a mind that transcends (is ontologically distinct from) the physical. (emphasis mine)

    Why is it so? Considering that you stated:

    What you quoted was regarding the identify of indiscernables, which is a particular application of ontological principles to questions regarding identity.

    Shouldn’t all the questions related to ontology be the similarities and differences between existing entities?

  244. Hi StephenB,

    You argued that ID cannot be empirical because stands on the metaphysical assumption of dualism.

    That is one reason, yes.

    I corrected you by pointing out that that a legitimate assumption in the form of a scientific hypothesis that is to be evaluated by an empirical methodology is not the same thing as an illegitimate assumption in the form of a metaphysical commitment that intrudes itself in the evaluation process and assumes its own conclusion.

    ID never even attempts to empirically evaluate the truth of dualism/libertarianism. It simply assumes that “intelligence” is the complement of “chance+necessity” and goes from there.

    I don’t consider ID’s assumption of dualism to be “illegitimate” as much as implicit and unsupported. And it’s not that this metaphysical commitment intrudes in the evaluation process or assumes its own conclusion, but rather it simply renders ID to be a (very old) philosophical argument rather than empirical science.

    Of course, that is obvious. But you went further. You said that the designer can be identical with its design.

    Uh, no I said that the designer can be ontologically the same as the design.

    To say that they are NOT ontologically distinct is to say that they are exactly the same thing.

    Why are you doing this? Here is what I said in my last post to you:

    RDF: I explained that if we look at the ontological categories of dualism and physicalism, some people believe that the painting belongs to one category (purely physical things) while the painting belongs to another category (things with minds).

    I said this in my last post, and the one before that, and the one before that. You steadfastly ignore this and pretend that by “ontologically the same” I mean “the exact same thing”. I am incredibly tired of this game.

    Since you apparently will never drop this stupid game you’re playing with the term “ontological”, we shall drop and, and you will forced to address the issue that you so desperately want to avoid:

    ID assumes that “intelligence” is the logical complement of chance+necessity. This comes out in many ways. For example, the EF assumes the causal categories of chance, necessity, and intelligence are exclusive and exhaustive; ID claims that no combination of chance+necessity can produce CSI, and so on. In other words, ID assumes that there is such a thing as a cause that lies outside of the physical realm.

    Without that assumption, ID could not use the EF to detect “design”, and ID could not claim that chance+necessity is never observed to produce CSI, and ID could not say that intelligence could preceed the very existence of mass and energy (so no “intelligent agent” could be the cause of the universe), and so on.

    Now you have a restatement of ID’s problem without using the term that you have deliberately misinterpreted as a distraction, and you are faced with finding yet another to try and squirm out of this demonstration of another reason ID is not empirically based.

    So here are some of the reasons ID is not an empirical theory:
    - ID fails to provide an empirical definition for its sole explanatory concept, “intelligence”
    - In the context of ID, “intelligent agency” functions as “something that can explain anything”, since there are no limits to what “intelligent agency” is thought to be capable of.
    - Dualism/libertarianism must be assumed to be true in order for the claims of ID to be supported

    You have no rebuttal to any of these arguments, so all you do is resort to word games.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  245. Hi seventrees,

    Nobody knows if there is such a thing as an ontological difference, because nobody knows if different ontological categories exist. However, we are all certain that other sorts of differences occur, because a cloud is not a peanut.

    Why make a claim like you knew everyone’s observations?

    There is no way in which we demonstrate the truth of one or another of these metaphysical positions by appeal to our uniform and repeated experience, and that is my (along with ID proponents such as Stephen Meyer) criterion for justifying a scientific belief. You can of course refer to other ways of knowing, such as intuition, or faith, or subjective experience; that’s not what I’m talking about, because ID claims to be scientific.

    RDF: Of course – that is exactly how we turn metaphysics into physics!
    ST: I do not understand what you mean here.

    I mean once we devise a way to demonstrate the truth of some metaphysical conjecture, it is no longer considered metaphysics – it becomes physics.

    Interestingly, the latter statement would be even more outrageous than the former since the dog and the cat are, at least, in the same category, while the design and the designer are in different categories.

    Why is the design and the designer in different ontological categories? How do you know?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  246. Hi RDFish

    You asked

    Why is the design and the designer in different ontological categories? How do you know?

    I never stated the design and the designer are in different ontological categories.

    I first stated:

    Sorry, but Stephen was very coherent here. If two objects A and B have the same identity, then they are ontologically the same. Ontology is the study of identity anyway.

    After you pointed out my omission on the definition of ontology, you stated:

    Rather, metaphysical ontology is at issue, because I’ve pointed out that (some versions of) ID relies on the metaphysical claim that intelligence transcends physical cause.

    To which I replied:

    I see. Nevertheless, for anything to be ontologically the same, they must have the same properties. So, even if we scrape dualism out of this, it wouldn’t still change the fact that ontological differences still exist, even if we are just composed of matter. That is why I considered Stephen’s statement

    If there is no ontological distinction between the painter and his materials, then the painter is exactly the same thing as his materials.

    coherent at face value.

    Note how I said we can scrape out dualism (saying that assuming dualism is false), and I even stated again “at face value”.

    In other words, I was claiming that ontological differences still exist even if both the designer and the design are of the same ontological category. This is the reason why I disagreed with you when you typed:

    Not true either I’m afraid. They must be of the same ontological category, but may have any number of differing properties. A blue rock and a green rock are ontologically the same, but have different “color” properties.

    Now, as to how do I know if the designer and design are of different categories, it is enough to say that it is due to looking elsewhere, and also thinking about our ability to reason and see how plausible it is that it emerged just from the brain.

    When it concerns scientific studies, the only person that comes to my mind is John Eccles, though I do not know much. But the impression I get is that the late John Eccles will disagree with your statement:

    There is no way in which we demonstrate the truth of one or another of these metaphysical positions by appeal to our uniform and repeated experience, and that is my (along with ID proponents such as Stephen Meyer) criterion for justifying a scientific belief.

    Of course, it does not mean you are necessarily wrong. As I stated, I do not know much about him. And though I understand your concerns, I am skeptical about your claim.

    P.S: Please, look at post 244.

  247. RDF:

    I explained that if we look at the ontological categories of dualism and physicalism, some people believe that the painting belongs to one category (purely physical things) while the painting belongs to another category (things with minds).

    Yes, but you have been missing my point all along. It isn’t just the case that the painter and the painting can belong to different categories, the painter and the painting must belong to different categories.

    I said this in my last post, and the one before that, and the one before that. You steadfastly ignore this and pretend that by “ontologically the same” I mean “the exact same thing”. I am incredibly tired of this game.

    Perhaps it will be more accessible if I phrase it a different way. In order for the artist/designer/ painter/ cause to bring the artifact/design/painting/effect into being, the former must be ontologically distinct from the latter. You are, and must be, ontologically distinct from the paragraph you just wrote, and it is virtually impossible for it to appear without your conscious choice to produce it.

    ID assumes that “intelligence” is the logical complement of chance+necessity. This comes out in many ways. For example, the EF assumes the causal categories of chance, necessity, and intelligence are exclusive and exhaustive; ID claims that no combination of chance+necessity can produce CSI, and so on. In other words, ID assumes that there is such a thing as a cause that lies outside of the physical realm.

    ID doesn’t so much assume that intelligence is the logical compliment of necessity so much as it recognizes it as an empirical fact. This is why I fussed so much (above) over the fact that the artist must be ontologically distinct from his artifact. It is part of our everyday experience.
    One thing is for sure, you cannot infer the existence of the painter from a painting unless you recognize that ontological distinction. You have already stated that you can make that inference, but you suggested that the reason for it was because you already had experience with this phenomenon. However, that answer doesn’t explain how you know it was a painting in the first place. That is why I asked you to explain how you know that. You didn’t answer.

    So here are some of the reasons ID is not an empirical theory:

    - ID fails to provide an empirical definition for its sole explanatory concept, “intelligence”

    ID does not fail to do that. Intelligence is the deliberate choice of a conscious agent to affect a particular outcome or objective.

    - In the context of ID, “intelligent agency” functions as “something that can explain anything”, since there are no limits to what “intelligent agency” is thought to be capable of.

    That objection doesn’t really make a lot of sense. The capabilities of potential intelligent agents vary from animal intelligence to Divine Omniscience and everything in between. Even Divine Omniscience, however, could not explain everything since other causal agents are in play. You need to think this one through, since there isn’t much substance to the point. Sorry.

    - Dualism/libertarianism must be assumed to be true in order for the claims of ID to be supported

    ID assumes the possibility of free will, and ID, if true, would require free will, but the ID methodology that evaluates the evidence for design does not assume free will. I doubt that you will ever grasp these distinctions, but there they are. When ID is inferred as the best explanation, free will (and the notion of a conscious agent making a deliberate choice to achieve an outcome) are inferred right along with it.

  248. Hi StephenB,

    It isn’t just the case that the painter and the painting can belong to different categories, the painter and the painting must belong to different categories.

    Since we so often talk past each other, let’s be perfectly clear: By “different categories” I am assuming here you mean one category is “physical” and the other category is “mental/non-physical”. I wish we had come to this point a few days ago, and we wouldn’t have had to waste time debating whether a cloud was identical to a peanut.

    Perhaps it will be more accessible if I phrase it a different way. In order for the artist/designer/ painter/ cause to bring the artifact/design/painting/effect into being, the former must be ontologically distinct from the latter.

    Ahh, thank you for being clear. I think you’re being clear, anyway – let’s confirm once again what you mean by “ontologically distinct”. Philosophers would interpret this to mean physical vs. mental – is that what you mean?

    You are, and must be, ontologically distinct from the paragraph you just wrote, and it is virtually impossible for it to appear without your conscious choice to produce it.

    I believe I understand what you are saying here, but let me be sure: You are saying it is my “conscious choice” that produces my sentences, and by that I believe you mean (1) That unless I am consciously aware of my actions, they do not constitute “conscious choice”, and (2) The effects of such “conscious choice” cannot be replicated by any combination of chance and necessity. Is that what you mean?

    ID doesn’t so much assume that intelligence is the logical compliment of necessity so much as it recognizes it as an empirical fact.

    Very well, you are saying that ID claims that “intelligence is the logical compliment of chance and necessity” is a fact that is supported by empirical evidence. Is that correct?

    One thing is for sure, you cannot infer the existence of the painter from a painting unless you recognize that ontological distinction.

    And by this I believe you mean that if physicalism were true, one would be unable to identify a painting as the product of a human being. Is that what you mean?

    However, that answer doesn’t explain how you know it was a painting in the first place. That is why I asked you to explain how you know that. You didn’t answer.

    Here you are asking me how I identify a painting as a painting? I don’t think I understand this question. Is this somehow different from identifying a peanut as a peanut or a cloud as a cloud? Are you asking how our perception works?

    Intelligence is the deliberate choice of a conscious agent to affect a particular outcome or objective.

    Thank you for this meaningful and specific definition. This seems to fit what you’re saying here very well, and we no longer have to talk past each other regarding exactly what this term is supposed to mean.

    RDF: In the context of ID, “intelligent agency” functions as “something that can explain anything”, since there are no limits to what “intelligent agency” is thought to be capable of.
    SB: That objection doesn’t really make a lot of sense. The capabilities of potential intelligent agents vary from animal intelligence to Divine Omniscience and everything in between. Even Divine Omniscience, however, could not explain everything since other causal agents are in play. You need to think this one through, since there isn’t much substance to the point.

    Since the capabilities of potential intelligent agents differ, and because ID does not say what sort of agent it thinks may have been responsible, then don’t you agree that ID cannot identify any particular ability that would be beyond any possible “conscious agent”?

    ID assumes the possibility of free will, and ID, if true, would require free will, but the ID methodology that evaluates the evidence for design does not assume free will.

    I also assume the possibility of (libertarian) free will, but I do not assume the truth of free will, because there is no way of telling if it is true or not. What you are plainly wrong about, however, is that you say ID’s methodology does not assume free will. By saying that intelligence is the compliment of chance/necessity at the outset, in its very method for detecting “design” (the explanatory filter), ID assumes libertarianism as a prequisite for even conducting ID “research”.

    I doubt that you will ever grasp these distinctions, but there they are.

    If the distinctions were coherent, you could clearly explain them.

    When ID is inferred as the best explanation, free will (and the notion of a conscious agent making a deliberate choice to achieve an outcome) are inferred right along with it.

    ID uses the explanatory filter to detect design. The EF assumes libertarianism in its very definition. That means that libertarianism is assumed before any evaluation of evidence of ID can take place.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  249. RDF

    Since we so often talk past each other, let’s be perfectly clear: By “different categories” I am assuming here you mean one category is “physical” and the other category is “mental/non-physical”. I wish we had come to this point a few days ago, and we wouldn’t have had to waste time debating whether a cloud was identical to a peanut.

    I am happy that we have come to this point. At present, I am arguing that the cause must transcend the effect. In part, this gets at your earlier question about the capacities of the designer. The designer must be of a higher order than its design. In other words, the cause must be superior to the effect and have traits that the effect does not have.

    Suppose, for example, that a man paints an aesthetically pleasing portrait of the Mona Lisa. Can his ability be limited to that result? By no means. By virtue of his skill, he could also have painted Queen Elizabeth or Napoleon. To do that, he would have to be educated and know about these figures. Not only that, he would possess a creative intelligence that guides his skill. Further, he would be able to purchase his materials and sell the finished product. Naturally, we are only scratching the surface. There is, and must be, much, much more in him than is in the final outcome his creative effort, which can do little more than reflect one aspect of the his ability. We can’t get the whole picture of the cause from the effect.

    Ahh, thank you for being clear. I think you’re being clear, anyway – let’s confirm once again what you mean by “ontologically distinct”. Philosophers would interpret this to mean physical vs. mental – is that what you mean?

    By ontologically distinct, I mean of a different and higher realm of existence. A human designer must be able to think, plan, decide, respond to feedback, adjust to feedback, fine tune his skill, and so on. He must perceive beauty and understand something of beauty’s proportions. His design or his design materials can do none of those things.

    I believe I understand what you are saying here, but let me be sure: You are saying it is my “conscious choice” that produces my sentences, and by that I believe you mean (1) That unless I am consciously aware of my actions, they do not constitute “conscious choice”, and (2) The effects of such “conscious choice” cannot be replicated by any combination of chance and necessity. Is that what you mean?

    I am saying that and more. Yes, one single paragraph points to your intelligence, your conscious choice, and your awareness, but it doesn’t really do justice to who you are and what you can do. There is so much more in you than is in your paragraph. You could have written a thousand paragraphs. You could have written each one a thousand different ways. You could have expressed your seriousness or your mirth. You could have made your language formal or informal. The cause (you) is much nobler than the effect (your paragraph).

    Very well, you are saying that ID claims that “intelligence is the logical compliment of chance and necessity” is a fact that is supported by empirical evidence. Is that correct?

    Yes.

    …I believe you mean that if physicalism were true, one would be unable to identify a painting as the product of a human being. Is that what you mean?

    Right.

    Here you are asking me how I identify a painting as a painting? I don’t think I understand this question.

    You have found a portrait of the last supper in an empty field. You know nothing about its history. How do you know that it was not simply the result of an explosion in a paint factory?
    SB: Intelligence is the deliberate choice of a conscious agent to affect a particular outcome or objective.

    Thank you for this meaningful and specific definition. This seems to fit what you’re saying here very well, and we no longer have to talk past each other regarding exactly what this term is supposed to mean.

    This seems like a positive development.

    Since the capabilities of potential intelligent agents differ, and because ID does not say what sort of agent it thinks may have been responsible, then don’t you agree that ID cannot identify any particular ability that would be beyond any possible “conscious agent”?

    That seems reasonable to me.

    I also assume the possibility of (libertarian) free will, but I do not assume the truth of free will, because there is no way of telling if it is true or not.

    I agree that ID acknowledges the existence of libertarian free will insofar as it acknowledges the existence of conscious design agents.

    What you are plainly wrong about, however, is that you say ID’s methodology does not assume free will. By saying that intelligence is the compliment of chance/necessity at the outset, in its very method for detecting “design” (the explanatory filter), ID assumes libertarianism as a prequisite for even conducting ID “research”.

    Let’s probe the meaning and application of the word “assume” (below).

    ID uses the explanatory filter to detect design. The EF assumes libertarianism in its very definition.

    Well, it is true that a third category (art, design, conscious and willful planning) is understood to exist even before the EF is activated. But you must remember two things:

    First, the existence of that category has been empirically verified. Our previous experience has informed us that this category exists and we bring that experience to the EF. In that sense, we begin the process not so much by assuming that conscious planning exists as by knowing that conscious planning exists. Does the acknowledgement of a conscious intelligent agent entail an acknowledgement of dualism? I say “yes,” you say “no,” ID says, “I don’t know.”

    Second, ID is trying to ascertain if a particular feature in nature was designed. The question for the EF, therefore, is not, “is there design” but was this particular thing designed? The process by which that proposition is evaluated is, as the word implies chronological—stage 1, Is it law?—stage 2, Is it chance?—stage 3, The key word here is “it.” We cannot assume that “it” (this feature, not the category) was designed because that is the very thing we are trying to ascertain. It is only at stage 3 that we can say, “this feature” was likely designed and was, therefore, the product of conscious planning and free will agency.

  250. Stage 3– Is it designed?