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‘Sceptics’ — but not about science?

I did an interview recently with the Sceptics’ Society of Birmingham (UK) on the relationship between science and religion, which may be of interest to people here. The interview was conducted over Skype, which explains some of the alien sounds, especially from my end, even though my interlocutor and I were separated by a mere 20 miles.

What struck me most about this quite genial interview is the lack of scepticism that today’s self-avowed ‘sceptics’ have towards the scientific establishment. Indeed, they have a rhetorical strategy for deflecting this point. So, if you listen to the whole interview, you’ll hear that my interlocutor periodically draws a strange distinction between ‘intelligent’ and ‘rational’ — as in ‘I grant that anti-evolutionists are intelligent, given that many actually have degrees in science, but they are not rational because their beliefs blind them to the truth’. Suffice it to say, no epistemology would wish to be associated with such a self-serving view.

The occasion of the interview was my recent piece in the Guardian, which received some attention here. You’ll notice at the start of the interview, I steered the discussion towards global warming because many self-avowed ‘sceptics’ appear to put aside their scepticism at this point and defer to the scientific priesthood. In general, scepticism loses any credibility if it’s selective. In contrast, science is, in a sense, selective. It is openly committed to a certain way of pursuing the truth, within which one may be ‘critical’, that is, opposed to the priesthood but still invested in what the priesthood would ideally defend. This is why I have been promoting the term ‘Protscience’ (‘Protestant science’), by analogy to the 16th century separation of the Protestants from the Church of Rome.

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25 Responses to ‘Sceptics’ — but not about science?

  1. Many, if not most, people who call themselves skeptics are posers.

    They are not interested in facing questions or following evidence, but avoiding questions by erecting walls of dogma — i.e. God must be assumed not to exist because one cannot materially prove the existence of God to another.

    This is something a thinking person would see as irrational on its face, but most skeptics are not thinking persons.

  2. There is an element of truth here inasmuch as we are a social species and we tend to rally in defense of whatever group we identify with, so it is not surprising that skeptics are less skeptical about science than its critics. That does not excuse it but it is normal human behavior.

    That said, I think skeptics are more willing to entertain new ideas than their opponents. In the case of evolution I know I have moved from being a strict adaptationist towards a pluralist view. I think that natural selection still plays a role but it is not the only nor even the major cause of evolution. However, I am still not persuaded that there is any need yet to invoke the concept of a designer or god.

    In contrast, how many proponents of Intelligent Design could contemplate abandoning the concept of genes as a repository of biological information or how many believers here would be prepared to change from a deistic to a theistic perspective?

  3. Seversky at 2, you write,

    “In the case of evolution I know I have moved from being a strict adaptationist towards a pluralist view. I think that natural selection still plays a role but it is not the only nor even the major cause of evolution.”

    Well, that is good news indeed, because it is a giant step on the road to making evolution a believable belief. It is one thing to say that evolution happens, another to say that Darwin’s theory explains it.

    I live in a part of the world where natural selection is abundantly evident (as it may well be everywhere), but I do not see it producing new species, only trimming the outliers of existing ones. I expect if I came back in five thousand years, things would be pretty much the same, assuming no massive ecological changes.

    I don’t think it necessary to assume the existence of a designer god, any more than one assumes the existence of a chance god or a law god. What I think one needs to see is that a large amount of information is simply embedded in the life forms in our universe.

    If you want me to tell you how it happens, I can either say I don’t know, or recommend that you read the Catchism of the Catholic Church. No other answers will become available until we bust the hold of Darwinism on science in this area, and make it safe to do non-Darwinian research.

    I think, in your final paragraph, you must have meant, “change from a theistic to a deistic perspective”, rather than as given. Am I right?

    All I can say in response is that most people I have ever met who have a theistic perspective had personal experiences that make their perspective seem plausible to them.

    So there is little chance they will change their mind unless they come to doubt their own experiences.

    Readers, remember that the key difference between deism and theism isthat theism assumes that God can act if he pleases, in real time.

  4. My understanding was that skeptics existed for one reason only, to debunk any religious claims or pseudo religious claims or science fiction claims. Thus, crop rings, flying saucers, clairvoyance, creationism, magic or the Shroud of Turin were typical targets. They assumed all explanations could be found in some scientific explanation.

    They were based solely in science. So it is interesting when they abandon science to claim others are blinded to the truth which they cannot demonstrate.

  5. This from wikipedia:

    “Philosophical skepticism originated in ancient Greek philosophy.[10] The Greek Sophists of the 5th century BC were for the most part skeptics. Pyrrhonism was a school of skepticism founded by Aenesidemus in the first century BC and recorded by Sextus Empiricus in the late 2nd century or early 3rd century AD. One of its first proponents was Pyrrho of Elis (c. 360-275 B.C.), who traveled and studied as far as India and propounded the adoption of “practical” skepticism. Subsequently, in the “New Academy” Arcesilaus (c. 315-241 B.C.) and Carneades (c. 213-129 B.C.) developed more theoretical perspectives, by which conceptions of absolute truth and falsity were refuted as uncertain. Carneades criticized the views of the Dogmatists, especially supporters of Stoicism, asserting that absolute certainty of knowledge is impossible. Sextus Empiricus (c. A.D. 200), the main authority for Greek skepticism, developed the position further, incorporating aspects of empiricism into the basis for asserting knowledge.”

    Skeptics have been around for a long time. I think it’s interesting to note in that wikipedia reference that the Sophists were mostly skeptics. However, Pyrrhonism, as indicated here, is “skeptical” of all truth claims no matter where or who they come from. The Shroud of Turin is actually fairly interesting. From what I understand it’s still uncertain as to how it was produced.

  6. Seversky –

    In contrast, how many proponents of Intelligent Design could contemplate abandoning the concept of genes as a repository of biological information

    I imagine I can if some earth-shaking new observation demonstrated with consistency showed that to be the case but do you understand what you just wrote? Do you believe genes are not a repository of biological information?

    Lor how many believers here would be prepared to change from a deistic to a theistic perspective?

    Once, I might have had doubts but then I met God and when one knows God why should one be skeptical of His existence? It would be like being skeptical of family or friends except with much less reason.

  7. 7

    Steve you are well on your way to convincing me that there is a real difference of opinion here, against my initial reaction to all this bloviating from neo-Thomists. I still wonder though, whether this whole flap is more about a devotion to evolution and science rather than a real devotion to theology.

  8. 8

    I also meant to say that I doubt the term “Protscience” is going to take off anytime soon, regardless of the merits of the argument.

  9. 9

    I thought the discussion on alternative medicine was interesting. My dad was a general practitioner for twenty years and was generally outspoken against most alternative medicine, holding a special hatred of chiropractors. But his brother and especially his brother’s wife are well known in the family for all sorts of weird ideas. They live an almost Amish lifestyle which I could never do but I do find it admirable.

    Anyway when I was there over Christmas this year, the wife (my aunt) was preaching something called “colloidal silver”. Being a biochemist, I was interested. Obviously a colloid is like milk. It’s not a solution, but suspended particles. I was wondering why people thought suspended microparticles of silver in water is some kind of miracle drug that you should drink regularly. Turns out the most impressive story they had heard about it was it having been used by a military doctor to successfully treat a bad case of gangrene. It was applied to the surface of the infection and the gangrene cleared up. From that, it was automatically assumed that you should drink it. I saw the contraption they used to make this so-called “colloidal silver” and it consisted of nothing more complicated than an electricity generator and two silver wires that they stuck into about a liter of water. Of course, what they were making was not a colloid, but an ionic silver solution. So I did some very quick ad-hoc internet research on silver as a medicine, colloidal or otherwise, as well as looked stuff up on PubMed and read some abstracts.

    Basically I learned that silver coins had been put into milk for a very long time by very uneducated people. I also learned that modern studies had indicated that silver ions have a very real antibiotic effect. Of course, all heavy metals do, but surprisingly silver is the metal that is least toxic to humans. The primary reason we don’t use silver today is because we have much more effective antibiotics, but it has been used for a very long time for that purpose. Turns out that you have to drink colloidal silver pretty heavily every day for decades before you start experiencing any serious side effects, which for the most part were merely aesthetic rather than life or health threatening.

    So basically what they were doing was pretty harmless since they were drinking it probably once a week they told me. Certainly it was not a miracle drug that people should drink regularly, but it was also true that it does have a real antibiotic effect and can be used to treat bacterial infections. Certainly particles of silver don’t do anything, but suspended particles of silver in a solution will result in a ionic silver solution which does have an effect. The point is that despite the primitiveness of this approach, I would consider it scientific. It’s based on long experience and observation of cause and effect, and actually successfully determined the best antibiotic available before penicillin and the modern antibiotic. In fact, given the worry over the decreasing effectiveness of modern antibiotics due to bacterial resistance, silver might very well be an interesting thing to try in extreme cases of resistance.

  10. 10

    Also I used their computer and their internet access to do this ad-hoc research. They had the internet and a computer, but no TV. That should fit your hypothesis pretty well. :D

  11. Tribune7 @ 1,

    “They are not interested in facing questions or following evidence, but avoiding questions by erecting walls of dogma — i.e. God must be assumed not to exist because one cannot materially prove the existence of God to another.”

    It seems to me that the second half of your sentence completely contradicts the first half. Isn’t assuming God doesn’t exist because one cannot materially prove the existence of God a case of following the evidence and not dogma?

    In the same way I assume many things don’t exist because there is no material evidence for them. That’s how (apart from religion) we determine whether things exist or not. Its just that religions get a free pass and we are told we have to accept that God, Jaweh, Allah exist because some people claim to have personal (but unverifiable) knowledge of this.

  12. tribune7 @ 6

    Do you believe genes are not a repository of biological information?

    I believe that computing and information theory are useful tools for modeling what happens in the genome but that information is a property of the model not the thing being modeled. It is analogous to the way in which different wavelengths of light are represented as different colors in our conscious models of external reality. The colors are in our heads not out there.

    I think ID proponents are keen to establish the presence of information in the genome because they can them offer it as evidence of design since only an intelligent agent can create information.

    Unfortunately, this type of argument tends to founder on equivocation over the meaning of “information”. The type of information we are exchanging through this blog, specifically teleosemantic information, is certainly the product of intelligent agents. However, as has been mentioned before, we are also able to abstract information from systems such as weather, geological strata and tree-rings where we have no reason to think it was the product of intelligent agency.

    What the above forms of information have in common is that the word refers to the effect of incoming data on the mind of the observer. The danger of misrepresentation lies in implying that because one form of information is the product of intelligent agents so they all must be.

  13. Seversky:

    Could you kindly tell us what is it that is being stored in the DNA chains of living cells?

    What the Genetic code is?

    What happens when that stuff is “transcribed” to mRNA, transferred to Ribosomes, and “translated” into primary structure protein chains step by step?

    Then, put to work in the cell after folding, agglomeration and activation?

    Why is it that, as early as March 19, 1953, Sir Francis Crick wrote as follows to his son, Michael:

    “Now we believe that the DNA is a code. That is, the order of bases (the letters) makes one gene different from another gene (just as one page of print is different from another)”

    Are you prepared to say that what resides on a printed page or in a computer screen or is transmitted across the internet is not information?

    How would that fit with, say, Wikipedia’s admission against interest de3finition that information is:

    “ . . that which would be communicated by a message if it were sent from a sender to a receiver capable of understanding the message . . . . In terms of data, it can be defined as a collection of facts [i.e. as represented or sensed in some format] from which conclusions may be drawn [and on which decisions and actions -- programmed or conscious -- may be taken].”

    And, on your implicit assumption that chance forces and mechanical necessity deriving from happenstance initial conditions can credibly account for the origin of codes, symbols, step by step finite procedures with halting, data structures and implementing machinery, can you kindly provide a clear example starting with the equivalent of a prebiotic soup? [That is, intelligently designed and built computer simulations executed on equally intelligently designed and built machines will not count.]

    Similarly, kindly justify to us suppressing the KNOWN, routinely observed alternative causal factor that intelligences make information-based complex organised systems.

    And, last of all, show us how on analysis, it is credibly feasible for undirected chance driven processes that act on the existing materials and forces of nature to spontaneously create highly contingent complex organised information systems with self-replicating capacity, given the fact that the 1.07* 10^301 states of the configuration space of just 1,000 bits of info storage capacity are 10^150 or more times the number of Planck time states of an observed cosmos of 10^80 atoms, with thermodynamically credible duration about 50 mn times the 13.7 BY said to have elapsed since the Big Bang.

    ________________

    Failing satisfactory answers, what you have presented is little more than an inadvertently illustrative exercise in the kind of selective hyperskepticism that this thread is about.

    GEM of TKI

  14. PS: A video on how DNA is put to work, and a table on the genetic code.

  15. Seversky states,

    “I believe that computing and information theory are useful tools for modeling what happens in the genome but that information is a property of the model not the thing being modeled. It is analogous to the way in which different wavelengths of light are represented as different colors in our conscious models of external reality. The colors are in our heads not out there.”

    But Seversky if colors are just “in our heads” and information theories are just “in our heads”, then you are asserting there is really no objective reality “out there” somewhere that can be known to be true by us. i.e. All reality is really an illusion in the metaphysics you are proposing. Needless to say this is a futile position in which to conduct investigation. The entirety of the scientific enterprise is built on the assumption that there are objective truths “out there” to be discovered by minds that can apprehend what truth really is. For you it seems there is no correspondence of truth, between mind and “out there”, that can be trusted.

  16. seversky further note:

    “… if nature is really structured with a mathematical language and mathematics invented by man can manage to understand it, this demonstrates something extraordinary. The objective structure of the universe and the intellectual structure of the human being coincide.” – Pope Benedict XVI

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. — Albert Einstein

    How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality? — Albert Einstein

    “The reason that mathematics is so effective in capturing, expressing, and modeling what we call empirical reality is that there is a ontological correspondence between the two – I would go so far as to say that they are the same thing.” Richard Sternberg – Pg. 8 How My Views On Evolution Evolved

    Michael Denton – Mathematical Truths Are Transcendent And Beautiful – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4003918

    Systematic Search for Expressions of Dimensionless Constants using the NIST database of Physical Constants
    Excerpt: The National Institute of Standards and Technology lists 325 constants on their website as ‘Fundamental Physical Constants’. Among the 325 physical constants listed, 79 are unitless in nature (usually by defining a ratio). This produces a list of 246 physical constants with some unit dependence. These 246 physical constants can be further grouped into a smaller set when expressed in standard SI base units.,,,
    http://www.mit.edu/~mi22295/co.....tants.html

    Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.
    Galileo Galilei

    The Underlying Mathematical Foundation Of The Universe -Walter Bradley – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4491491

    The Five Foundational Equations of the Universe and Brief Descriptions of Each:
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....#038;hl=en

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

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas S. Robertson
    Chaitin’s Algorithmic Information Theory shows that information is conserved under formal mathematical operations and, equivalently, under computer operations. This conservation law puts a new perspective on many familiar problems related to artificial intelligence. For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomena: the creation of new information.
    http://www3.interscience.wiley.....8;SRETRY=0

    “To the skeptic, the proposition that the genetic programmes of higher organisms, consisting of something close to a thousand million bits of information, equivalent to the sequence of letters in a small library of 1,000 volumes, containing in encoded form countless thousands of intricate algorithms controlling, specifying, and ordering the growth and development of billions and billions of cells into the form of a complex organism, were composed by a purely random process is simply an affront to reason. But to the Darwinist, the idea is accepted without a ripple of doubt – the paradigm takes precedence!” – Michael Denton

  17. bornagain77 @ 15

    But Seversky if colors are just “in our heads” and information theories are just “in our heads”, then you are asserting there is really no objective reality “out there” somewhere that can be known to be true by us. i.e. All reality is really an illusion in the metaphysics you are proposing.

    No, what I am saying – what I thought I said – is that there is an objective reality out there but we are only able to obtain limited and fragmentary data about it through our senses and instrumentalities. To try and make sense of the data we have, we create explanatory models around it in an effort to fill in the gaps. The better we find our models – when tested – approximate to what we observe, the closer their correspondence to that reality, Whether we can ever come up with a model that is a perfect one-to-one fit with what is out there only time will tell.

    The problem with any model is that it is of necessity an abstraction and simplification of what is being modeled – such as representing certain wavelengths of light as colors – and there is always the risk of inferring that a property of the model is also a property of what is being modeled when it is not necessarily the case. In other words, it’s the danger of a false analogy. The fact that what happens in the genome can be represented in terms of computation of information theory does not necessarily mean that there is information present in the genome or that it is performing computations.

  18. Seversky you state:

    “The fact that what happens in the genome can be represented in terms of computation of information theory does not necessarily mean that there is information present in the genome or that it is performing computations.”

    so what you are really saying seversky is that the genome, of the simplest life on earth, either actually is far more advanced than any programming ever devised by man, or we have completely deluded ourselves into believing it is far more advanced because there really is no information in the genome performing computations? Thanks for clearing that up Seversky!

  19. kairosfocus @ 13

    Could you kindly tell us what is it that is being stored in the DNA chains of living cells?

    What the Genetic code is?

    What happens when that stuff is “transcribed” to mRNA, transferred to Ribosomes, and “translated” into primary structure protein chains step by step?

    At a very simple level what we see are long chains of molecules whose function, in terms of their effects on other molecules and their functions depends both on their sequence and their shape. Some have an observable effect, a lot do not even when copied or transcribed.

    The problem with understanding what is happening there is that there is a danger of falling into the old “to the man with only a hammer, everything looks like a nail” trap. For example, to people whose expertise lies in computation or information theory, the genome will tend to look like a computing or information-processing device. But we could just as easily analogize it as a bunch of keys which are duplicated by taking wax impressions from which copies are made. Do keys contain information? If so, is that information the same as what we are exchanging through these posts?

    When scientists such as Crick talk about the genetic code they are also analogizing, usually in an attempt to make it easier for a lay audience to grasp. While some undoubtedly believe that deity comes into the picture somewhere, most do not think that at some point there was a divine Enigma machine operator carefully encrypting secret messages from on high to be opened only by those with Top Secret clearance.

    Are you prepared to say that what resides on a printed page or in a computer screen or is transmitted across the internet is not information?

    I would say that what you and I are exchanging through these posts on the Internet are information. But, as I said before, so is what we obtain from observations of weather, geological strata and tree-rings. In one case, there are intelligent agents both sending and receiving, in the other, there is only the observer. We have no reason to think anyone is sending us a message through weather or rock formations or plants.

    There is another aspect. Take Richard Dawkins’s example of sending a telegram to someone in the US, advising them that he will be arriving on a certain flight into JFK on a certain day. We can see that the recipient will be informed of something that they did not know before. But suppose Dawkins is unsure whether his first message was received and sends it again. The recipient will already know what is in the message and will no longer be informed by it. Exactly the same message but one informs and one doesn’t, so what is information that is in one but not the other?

    And, last of all, show us how on analysis, it is credibly feasible for undirected chance driven processes that act on the existing materials and forces of nature to spontaneously create highly contingent complex organised information systems with self-replicating capacity, given the fact that the 1.07* 10^301 states of the configuration space of just 1,000 bits of info storage capacity are 10^150 or more times the number of Planck time states of an observed cosmos of 10^80 atoms, with thermodynamically credible duration about 50 mn times the 13.7 BY said to have elapsed since the Big Bang.

    Evolution does not propose the creation de novo of complex structures in one step – no 747s created by tornadoes in junkyards.

    But if you like Really Big Numbers, here’s another one for you to calculate. According to one estimate I found online, a human body is comprised of approximately 7*10^27 atoms, which I understand is quite a lot. A human being like you is a unique arrangement of those atoms. What are the odds of the unique atomic pattern known here as kairosfocus coming into existence at this place and at this point in the Universe’s history? I imagine that is going to be a Very Big Number too. Does that mean you were designed or created the old-fashioned way? There are also upwards of six billion other unique atomic patterns around at this time. What are the odds of that six billion all coming together at this time and this place? Does that mean they were all designed?

  20. seversky, you better write this guy and let him know that we are all headed down the wrong path with the whole “information” analogy thing:

    Systems biology: Untangling the protein web – July 2009
    Excerpt: Vidal thinks that technological improvements — especially in nanotechnology, to generate more data, and microscopy, to explore interaction inside cells, along with increased computer power — are required to push systems biology forward. “Combine all this and you can start to think that maybe some of the information flow can be captured,” he says. But when it comes to figuring out the best way to explore information flow in cells, Tyers jokes that it is like comparing different degrees of infinity. “The interesting point coming out of all these studies is how complex these systems are — the different feedback loops and how they cross-regulate each other and adapt to perturbations are only just becoming apparent,” he says. “The simple pathway models are a gross oversimplification of what is actually happening.”
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....0415a.html

  21. What are the odds indeed Seversky:

    In Barrow and Tippler’s book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, they list ten steps necessary in the course of human evolution, each of which, is so improbable that if left to happen by chance alone, the sun would have ceased to be a main sequence star and would have incinerated the earth. They estimate that the odds of the evolution (by chance) of the human genome is somewhere between 4 to the negative 180th power, to the 110,000th power, and 4 to the negative 360th power, to the 110,000th power. Therefore, if evolution did occur, it literally would have been a miracle and evidence for the existence of God. William Lane Craig

    William Lane Craig – If Human Evolution Did Occur It Was A Miracle – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUxm8dXLRpA

    Along that same line:

    Darwin and the Mathematicians – David Berlinski
    “The formation within geological time of a human body by the laws of physics (or any other laws of similar nature), starting from a random distribution of elementary particles and the field, is as unlikely as the separation by chance of the atmosphere into its components.”
    Kurt Gödel, was a preeminent mathematician who is considered one of the greatest to have ever lived. Of Note: Godel was a Theist!
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....cians.html

    “Darwin’s theory is easily the dumbest idea ever taken seriously by science.”
    Granville Sewell – Professor Of Mathematics – University Of Texas – El Paso

    The whole thing Seversky is that the entire universe came into existence suddenly, thus it is completely ludicrous for you to dogmatically presuppose it is absolutely impossible for anything inside this universe to not also have the possibility to originate suddenly. which is exactly what unbiased examination of the fossil record reveals for the phyla level and even below the phyla level.

  22. Seversky you asked kairosfocus:

    “What are the odds of the unique atomic pattern known here as kairosfocus coming into existence at this place and at this point in the Universe’s history?”

    Shoot Seversky let’s just try to get two “beneficial mutations” out of those approximately highly organized 7*10^27 atoms that might lead up to kairosfocus:

    Waiting Longer for Two Mutations – Michael J. Behe
    Excerpt: Citing malaria literature sources (White 2004) I had noted that the de novo appearance of chloroquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum was an event of probability of 1 in 10^20. I then wrote that ‘‘for humans to achieve a mutation like this by chance, we would have to wait 100 million times 10 million years’’ (Behe 2007) (because that is the extrapolated time that it would take to produce 10^20 humans). Durrett and Schmidt (2008, p. 1507) retort that my number ‘‘is 5 million times larger than the calculation we have just given’’ using their model (which nonetheless “using their model” gives a prohibitively long waiting time of 216 million years). Their criticism compares apples to oranges. My figure of 10^20 is an empirical statistic from the literature; it is not, as their calculation is, a theoretical estimate from a population genetics model.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/9461

  23. 23

    Do keys contain information? If so, is that information the same as what we are exchanging through these posts?

    Yes and yes. The shape of the key is both improbable (complex) and fulfills a function or fits the keyhole (specified).

    What are the odds of the unique atomic pattern known here as kairosfocus coming into existence at this place and at this point in the Universe’s history? I imagine that is going to be a Very Big Number too. Does that mean you were designed or created the old-fashioned way?

    As I just said above, mere improbability is not a design inference. With the amount of time you spend here, you really should know that by now. A design inference requires both improbability and specificity. In the case of a human body, the position of its atoms is both highly improbable and highly specified, so a design inference is warranted. Not sure why that must mean kairosfocus did not also come about the “old-fashioned way”.

  24. Okay, so we’re intelligent, but irrational to reject naturalism. On the face of it, that is the upshot of the ‘anti-evolutionists are intelligent…etc” line. So my question to the selective skeptics is: how do you know scientifically (not philosophically, metaphysically or theologically) that the properties of the cosmos are such that rationality itself can be derived from the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy interacting over eons of time through chance and/or necessity? And remember, you can’t assume your rationality in order to defend it.

    There’s far more reason to be skeptical of rationality itself based on naturalism coupled with evolution than there is if it is derived from an intelligent source.

  25. I’m the “interlocutor” from the interview. If you want to see my response you can find it at http://www.facebook.com/l.php?.....38;h=225c3 or http://www.brumskeptics.blogspot.com

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