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They said it: “atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist” — a fatal worldview error of modern evolutionary materialist atheism

Prof. Dawkins of the UK, a leading evolutionary materialist and atheist

It is an open secret that a major motivation for the commonly encountered, too often angry  rejection of  the design inference is a prior commitment to Lewontinian evolutionary materialistic atheism; a common thread that unites a Sagan, a Lewontin, many members of Science institutions and Faculties of Universities, and of course many leading anti-design advocates like those associated with the US-based National Center for Science Education [NCSE], as well as leading “science” [--> atheism] blogs and Internet forums and the like.

Such atheists also often imagine that they have cornered the market on scientific rationality, common-sense and intelligence, to the point where professor Dawkins of the UK has proposed a new name for atheists: “brights.”

By contrast, he and many others of like ilk view those who object to such views as “ignorant, stupid, insane or . . . wicked.” (Perhaps, that is why one of the atheistical objectors to UD feels free to publicly and falsely accuse me of being a demented child abuser and serial rapist. He clearly cannot see how unhinged, unreasonable, irrational, uncouth, vulgar and rage-blinded his outrageous behaviour is.)

For telling instance, in Lewontin’s notorious 1997  NYRB article, Billions and Billions of Demons, we may see:

. . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . .   the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality . . . .

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. [And, if you wish to try the now routine turnabout false accusation of quote mining, kindly cf. here at UD as well as the above linked.]

The ideologically motivated atheistical, evolutionary materialist a priori is plain.

No wonder Philip Johnson rebutted Lewontin thusly, in his November 1997 reply:

For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. 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.]

Consequently,  if we are to put the design inference issue on a level playing field so it can be objectively assessed as a valid scientific inference, we have to first address the fatal flaws of reasoning in the underlying thought that clothes materialistic atheism in the holy lab coat. (And of course,  given its sacrificial, protective purpose, it should be no surprise that I have never seen or owned an expensive lab coat.)

So, “scientific” atheism must now go under the microscope:

1 –> The first problem is to accurately define. For that, it is instructive to first cite the well known online Stanford Enc of Phil, in its article on Atheism and Agnosticism by J J C Smart of Monash University:

‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God. I shall here assume that the God in question is that of a sophisticated monotheism. The tribal gods of the early inhabitants of Palestine are of little or no philosophical interest. They were essentially finite beings, and the god of one tribe or collection of tribes was regarded as good in that it enabled victory in war against tribes with less powerful gods. Similarly the Greek and Roman gods were more like mythical heroes and heroines than like the omnipotent, omniscient and good God postulated in mediaeval and modern philosophy. As the Romans used the word, ‘atheist’ could be used to refer to theists of another religion, notably the Christians, and so merely to signify disbelief in their own mythical heroes. [First published Tue Mar 9, 2004; substantive revision Mon Aug 8, 2011. Acc: Nov 12, 2011.]

2 –> This is of course exactly what is traditionally understood, and it is what the etymology of the underlying Greek, “a + theos,” would suggest: the denial of the reality of God.  But, if one turns to the reliably evolutionary materialist Wikipedia, we will see that in its article on Atheism, there is now a commonly encountered evidently rhetorically loaded redefinition, as appears in the title for this post:

Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists . . . . Atheists tend to be skeptical of supernatural claims, citing a lack of empirical evidence.

3 –> The last statement, of course, strongly reflects the Lewontinian a priori assertion of materialism, and the underlying notion that to have a supernatural as a possibility would make our cosmos into a chaos. Indeed as Lewontin went on to say: “To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.”

4 –> Back of this, lies Hume’s basic hyper-skeptical error, in effect that there has been a uniform experience that firmly establishes the laws of nature and so we may dismiss any claimed supernatural exceptions as beyond reasonable belief. This boils down to begging the question in various ways, as first of all, we precisely do not and cannot have a global observational basis for the laws of science, they are inductive — thus fallible — generalisations. [Cf. Charles Babbage and Alfred Russel Wallace. (Yes, THAT Wallace, the co-founder of modern evolutionary theory and advocate of intelligent evolution.) Also cf a typical contemporary essay here.]

5 –> Similarly, for a miracle to stand out as being beyond the general course of the world, there must be just such a general course, i.e.  a world in which miracles are possible is one in which there will be general regularities amenable to scientific investigation. Informed theists will then tell us that, that the Author of that general course may, for His own good reasons, occasionally intervene at a higher level, in no wise detracts from the reliability of that general course. That is, Lewontin et al have erected and knocked over a ridicule-loaded strawman caricature of theism. (Newton knew better, 300 years ago in his General Scholium to Principia.)

6 –> Moreover, give that there are in fact millions who across centuries, testify to living encounter with God, and to being transformed thereby — including a generous slice of the leading lights of our civilisation across time [just try the likes of a Pascal, a Maxwell, a Kelvin or an Aquinas, for a quick list], to dismissively reject the possibility of miracles or the credibility of witnesses thereto inadvertently puts the human mind itself under suspicion.

7 –> For if so many millions are deluded, then the mind becomes highly questionable as an instrument of inquiry. That is, the atheist who imagines that those who oppose him are delusional, in the teeth of the numbers and quality of the people in question, saws off the cognitive branch on which he too must sit.

8 –> But, the very definition of atheism as “absence of belief in god or gods” that is now so commonly being pushed as the “real” definition, has deeper problems. For, it is usually offered as an argument that the atheist is simply taking a default view: YOU must prove your theism, I hold no position. (Cf. here too, just for fun.)

9 –> This is fallacious and misleading, indeed, a fatal worldview error. Why is that so?

a: It improperly shifts — and indeed ducks — the burden of warrant on comparative difficulties that any serious worldview must shoulder. If it is to be serious as a worldview.  (And, let me add {Nov14}: we all have worldviews– clusters of core beliefs, views and attitudes that define how we see the world; the question is whether we have thought them through to their idea-roots, connexions, degree of warrant, and forward to conclusions and consequences for us and our societies.)

b: An easy way to see all of this, is to notice how the very same atheists usually want to dress up their atheism in a lab coat.

c: For instance, as Lewontin tried to argue in his 1997 NYRB article, the a priori materialistic scientific elites want the general public to look up to them as the fountain of knowledge and wisdom, and to come to believe that science is “the only begetter of truth.”

d: But, this is NOT a scientific claim, it is a claim about the grounds that warrant knowledge, indeed an assertion of monopoly power over knowledge. Such is therefore properly a philosophical knowledge claim, i.e an epistemological claim.

e: Lewontin is trivially self-refuting.

f: But the claim is also illustrative of how claims at worldview level are inevitably linked to one another.

g: And, the denial or rejection of belief in God is plainly not an isolated claim, it sits in the centre of a cluster of evolutionary materialistic beliefs.

h: Indeed, Lewontin himself goes on to assert that the significant elites believe that “science” is the surest means to put us in touch with “physical reality” [= all of reality, for the materialist],  and that he and his ilk are committed to a priori, absolute materialism.

i: That is the context in which we see that science itself is being radically ideologised by question-begging redefinition. The declarations of the US National Science Teachers Association are particularly revealing on this, once we recognise that for “naturalistic” we can freely read “materialistic”:

The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . . Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .

Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge. [[NSTA, Board of Directors, July 2000. Emphases added.]

j: This ideologises science and science education, tearing out of the heart of science any serious concern to seek the empirically warranted truth about our world, and to recognise the inescapable limitations of empirically based inductive methods in that pursuit which mean that science must be open-ended and provisional in its fact claims and explanations.

k: In short, the intellectual duty of care to critically assess the scientific materialism at the heart of the relevant form of atheism we face,  cannot be ducked so easily as by using the rhetorical tactic of putting up a question-begging redefinition of atheism.

l: This means that scientific atheists must warrant their evolutionary materialism,  they must warrant their redefinition of science based on imposition of so-called methodological naturalism, and they must warrant their commonly held view that science monopolises genuine, objective knowledge.

10 –> Evolutionary materialistic atheism, therefore, has a too often ducked challenge to warrant its worldview level claims, on (a) factual adequacy,  (b) logical coherence, and (c) explanatory balance and power [being elegantly simple, but not simplistic and certainly not ad hoc].

11 –> That means it needs to take seriously the implications of the empirically reliable principle that functionally specific complex organisation and associated information [especially digitally coded, symbolic information] — once we can directly observe the causal process — are inductively strong signs of design.

12 –> Similarly, it has to seriously address the issue of the best explanations for the credibly fine tuned cosmos we inhabit, which on evidence sits at a precise operating point that facilitates Carbon chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life that uses digital information to guide its self-replication and to synthesise the key nanomachines of metabolic life processes.

13 –> Likewise, it has to address the signs of design that are evident in the living cell, starting with the use of complex, functionally specific digital codes and algorithms to guide critical biochemical processes of life such as protein synthesis.

14 –> The need to account for the increments in complex functionally specific, integrated often irreducibly complex organisation and associated information to account for the dozens of body plans of multicellular life, including our own, is an extension of this challenge.

15 –> Similarly, such materialistic atheists need to credibly account for the reliability and trustworthiness of the human mind, in light of the Haldane challenge that has been on the table since the 1930′s (and of course modern extensions to that challenge):

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

16 –> Last but not least, given the force of the amorality confessed to and/or directly implied by leading materialistic atheists such as Dawkins and Provine,  atheistical, evolutionary materialists need to very carefully ponder the issues that were long since put on the table by Plato in The Laws, Bk X, 2350 years ago, in 360 BC:

[[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [[ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .

[[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny.)] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here],  these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . .

__________

It seems there are a few questions for scientific atheists to answer to, before we should take their attempt to monopolise science as anything beyond an ideological agenda.

It would be quite interesting to see their answers. END

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210 Responses to They said it: “atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist” — a fatal worldview error of modern evolutionary materialist atheism

  1. Dawkins – Check!

    Lewontin – Check!

    dfCSIOMGWTF – Check!

    Bullet Points ad infinitum – Check!

    Red Fonts for EMPHASIS – Check!

    Links to his own website – Check!

    Plato – Check!

    Perhaps you should nail this oft repeated rap-sheet to the door of the NCSE, for truly it appears you can do no other.

    END

  2. kairosfocus,

    1. Consider breaking down your posts into manageable bits. This is either by design or accident a disingenuous post in that doesn’t even make a passing effort to consolidate a manageable number of points for consideration. It isn’t even so much being overlong, but being all over the map, wandering hither and yon on complex, diverse subjects.

    2. Atheism isn’t a worldview. Naturalism may be a worldview you want to assess/attack, or maybe you’d prefer to go after humanism or materialism, or other “isms” that are holistic frameworks through which one develops an interpretive grid for the extramental world. I forget who said it, but here’s a useful nugget to keep in mind:

    Atheism is a religion in the same way not-collecting-stamps is a hobby.

    That is not a matter of shirking any burden of proof or dealing with difficulties. Every atheist has an interpretive grid that bears defense, scrutiny, analysis. It’s just not “atheism”. Atheism is an “umbrella class” that aggregates many diverse worldviews, which are mutually incompatible in some ways, but which are all unified by a shared lack of belief of in God or gods. I realize that may be frustrating, but if you want to “go after” a world view, or a positive belief framework, you’ll have to go past the “umbrella” of atheism and deal with the various species of atheist-compatible worldviews that exist as defensible in positive terms.

    3. You are way out to lunch on the meaning and significance of Lewontin’s “divine foot in the door” comments. That’s not particularly surprising or problematic, but I’m just noting that you’ve been presented with more than ample and substantive corrections on this, more than once now. This is not a demand that you agree with Lewontin, but rather that you be corrigible with respect to simply UNDERSTANDING Lewontin. The eschewing of the supernatural is a methodologicalnecessity, not a philosophical a priori. If you abandon that restriction, even just a little bit as a methodological matter, practical scientific epistemology gets annihilated, and science gets busted down to being theology. A mark of skill and integrity in philosophical debate is demonstrating both awareness and understanding of the various positions in play. This is a fair expectation up front, but in your case, you refuse to go there, even when you are politely and cogently corrected about your ignorance on this issue.

    4. The “highest might is right” is not entailed by moral relativism. Neither is amorality. “Highest might is right” is a concept conservative Christianity needs to own, as this underpins the voluntarism like that advanced by William Lane Craig’s defense of the Old Testament genocides, discussed here recently, IIRC. If God created the universe and controls it all, then he can do as he pleases, and is just in doing so, whatever that may mean, goes the Christian rationale. If you are really troubled by the concept of “highest might is right”, you need to look at the folks wearing the same Jesus jersey as you.

  3. Jello,

    KF’s points bear repeating because they’ve rarely been addressed by any of the “true believer” atheist materialists who come here; just skimmed over and dismissed as is exemplified by your reply as well as eigenstate’s “atheism isn’t a worldview” because “not collecting stamps isn’t a hobby” reply.

  4. No, KF’s points bear ignoring. (Or maybe giggling at.)

    Kairosfocus has, for reasons best left to the administrators of UD, taken up residence here and is using the opportunity to preach his interminably prolix sermons to the eight remaining people in the ID movement.

    Kairosfocus is the last person on Earth to demand anything of anyone. His hilarious attempts to grapple with Dawkins’ Weasel was a classic example of just how far he was prepared to go to avoid admitting he had made a mistake; his dfCSI nonsense exists nowhere in the world outside his head, his invisible website and Uncommon Descent.

    KF is a figure of fun, and this latest bullet-pointed diatribe is just one more piece of evidence that Uncommon Descent will allow anyone to post anything to maintain the pretence that intelligent design is anything other than dead.

  5. An empty meaningless post – Check!
    Ad hominem diatribe – Check!
    Saying absolutely nothing about anything – Check!

    Well done.

  6. I see you missed this bit of news Irrational Reasons for Refusing to Consider Design.
    Perhaps it’s time you removed your permanently lodged head from the Darwinian sandbox and start thinking for yourself.

    The linked article above does not necessarily demand design; however if you really can’t grasp that this along with continued layer upon layer of complex, integrated systems operating according to principles that every engineer knows warrants at the least a design inference, then you truly represent everything Johnson referred to:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter.

    In other words, you’re not a scientific scholar, but a philosopher.

  7. It looks like Jello’s the latest Darwinist to have a nervous breakdown due to the continual rise of Intelligent Design. Well done, kairosfocus. You’re a one-man-Darwinist-wrecking-machine.

  8. Bydand!

  9. eigenstate you state in point 3:

    The eschewing of the supernatural is a methodological necessity, not a philosophical a priori. If you abandon that restriction, even just a little bit as a methodological matter, practical scientific epistemology gets annihilated, and science gets busted down to being theology.

    Ignoring the fact that ‘science’ itself, which you have placed so much faith in, is not even ‘epistemologically’ possible in the atheistic/materialistic worldview, let’s primarily focus on some of the irrationality that forcing materialistic answers prior to investigation has led science to:

    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
    William Shakespeare – Hamlet

    The artificial imposition of the materialistic philosophy onto the scientific method has blinded many scientists to the inference of God as a rational explanation in these questions of origins. In fact, the scientific method, by itself, makes absolutely no predictions as to what the best explanation will be prior to investigation in these question of origins. In the beginning of a investigation all answers are equally valid to the scientific method. Yet scientists have grown accustomed through the years to the artificial imposition of the materialistic philosophy onto the scientific method. That is to say by limiting the answers one may conclude to only materialistic ones, the scientific method has been very effective at solving many puzzles very quickly. This imposition of the materialistic philosophy onto the scientific method has indeed led to many breakthroughs of technology which would not have been possible had the phenomena been presumed to be solely the work of a miracle. This imposition of materialism onto the scientific method is usually called methodological naturalism, methodological materialism, or scientific materialism etc… Yet today, due to the impressive success of methodological naturalism in our everyday lives, many scientists are unable to separate this artificial imposition of the materialistic philosophy from the scientific method in this completely different question of origins.
    In fact, I’ve heard a atheist actually say, “Science is materialism.” Yet science clearly is not materialism. Materialism is a philosophy which makes the dogmatic assertion that only blind material processes generated everything around us, including ourselves. Materialism is thus in direct opposition to Theism which holds that God purposely created us in His image. Furthermore science, or more particularly the scientific method, in reality, only cares to relentlessly pursue the truth and could care less if the answer is a materialistic one or not. This is especially true in these questions of origins, since we are indeed questioning the materialistic philosophy itself. i.e. We are asking the scientific method to answer this very specific question, “Did God create us or did blind material processes create us?” When we realize this is the actual question we are seeking an answer to within the scientific method, then of course it is readily apparent we cannot impose strict materialistic answers onto the scientific method prior to investigation. No less than leading “New Atheist” Richard Dawkins agrees:

    “The presence of a creative deity in the universe is clearly a scientific hypothesis. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more momentous hypothesis in all of science.” Richard Dawkins

    In fact when looking at the evidence in this light we find out many interesting things which scientists, who have been blinded by the philosophy of materialism, miss. This is because the materialistic and Theistic philosophy make, and have made, several natural contradictory predictions about what evidence we will find. These predictions, and the evidence we have found, can be tested against one another within the scientific method.

    Steps of the Scientific Method
    http://www.sciencebuddies.org/.....thod.shtml

    For a quick overview, here are a few:

    1. Materialism predicted an eternal universe, Theism predicted a created universe. – Big Bang points to a creation event. -

    2. Materialism predicted time had an infinite past, Theism predicted time had a creation. – Time was created in the Big Bang. -

    3. Materialism predicted space has always existed, Theism predicted space had a creation (Psalm 89:12) – Space was created in the Big Bang. -

    4. Materialism predicted that material has always existed, Theism predicted ‘material’ was created. – ‘Material’ was created in the Big Bang.

    5. Materialism predicted at the base of physical reality would be a solid indestructible material particle which rigidly obeyed the rules of time and space, Theism predicted the basis of this reality was created by a infinitely powerful and transcendent Being who is not limited by time and space – Quantum mechanics reveals a wave/particle duality for the basis of our reality which blatantly defies our concepts of time and space. -

    6. Materialism predicted the rate at which time passed was constant everywhere in the universe, Theism predicted God is eternal and is outside of time – Special Relativity has shown that time, as we understand it, is relative and comes to a complete stop at the speed of light. (Psalm 90:4 – 2 Timothy 1:9)-

    7. Materialism predicted the universe did not have life in mind and life was ultimately an accident of time and chance. Theism predicted this universe was purposely created by God with man in mind – Every transcendent universal constant scientists can measure is exquisitely fine-tuned for carbon-based life to exist in this universe. -

    8. Materialism predicted complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Theism predicted the earth is extremely unique in this universe – Statistical analysis of the hundreds of required parameters which enable complex life to be possible on earth gives strong indication the earth is extremely unique in this universe. -

    9. Materialism predicted much of the DNA code was junk. Theism predicted we are fearfully and wonderfully made – ENCODE research into the DNA has revealed a “biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined.”. -

    10. Materialism predicted a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA which was ultimately responsible for all the diversity and complexity of life we see on earth. Theism predicted only God created life on earth – The mutation rate to DNA is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial mutations whatsoever. (M. Behe; JC Sanford) -

    11. Materialism predicted a very simple first life form which accidentally came from “a warm little pond”. Theism predicted God created life – The simplest life ever found on Earth is far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. (Michael Denton PhD) -

    12. Materialism predicted it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Theism predicted life to appear abruptly on earth after water appeared on earth (Genesis 1:10-11) – We find evidence for complex photo-synthetic life in the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth -

    13. Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life to be self-evident in the fossil record. Theism predicted complex and diverse life to appear abruptly in the seas in God’s fifth day of creation. – The Cambrian Explosion shows a sudden appearance of many different and completely unique fossils within a very short “geologic resolution time” in the Cambrian seas. -

    14. Materialism predicted there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record, Theism predicted sudden appearance and rapid diversity within different kinds found in the fossil record – Fossils are consistently characterized by sudden appearance of a group/kind in the fossil record, then rapid diversity within the group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall group/kind, and within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. -

    15. Materialism predicted animal speciation should happen on a somewhat constant basis on earth. Theism predicted man was the last species created on earth – Man himself is the last generally accepted major fossil form to have suddenly appeared in the fossil record. -

    references for each of the 15 predictions:
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1ubha8aFKlJiljnuCa98QqLihFWFwZ_nnUNhEC6m6Cys

    As you can see when we remove the artificial imposition of the materialistic philosophy, from the scientific method, and look carefully at the predictions of both the materialistic philosophy and the Theistic philosophy, side by side, we find the scientific method is very good at pointing us in the direction of Theism as the true explanation. – In fact it is even very good at pointing us to Christianity:

    Centrality of Each Individual Observer In The Universe and Christ’s Very Plausible Reconciliation Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/17SDgYPHPcrl1XX39EXhaQzk7M0zmANKdYIetpZ-WB5Y/edit?hl=en_US

  10. 10

    Atheism is a religion in the same way not-collecting-stamps is a hobby.

    …..

    The “highest might is right” is not entailed by moral relativism.

    Statements like this reveal the real problem for many atheists/materialist/determinists/physicalists; they have no significant understanding of philosophical warrant and consequences when it comes to worldviews.

    Collecting stamps/not collecting stamps is not a grounding worldview about the way one sees existential reality. Whether one collects stamps or not doesn’t inform one’s view of the universe, deeply affect how one understands the concepts of morality, purpose, and existential meaning. The choice of being a theist or an atheist, however, necessarily entails these broad, significant, and meaningful consequences. Unlike collecting stamps, atheism is a deeply significant and consequential worldview that cannot be passed off erroneously as a “lack of” a positive worldview commitment.

    The statement that subjective morality doesn’t necessarily lead to might makes right is just that – an ill considered statement made from someone who hasn’t really thought it out. Because they are moral relativists, and because they don’t believe in “might makes right”, they think moral relativism does not necessarily entail “might makes right”. And so, as illustrated by KF, so much of the atheist/materialist worldview is question-begged and consequence-ignored, hidden behind simple, undefended, unwarranted, unexamined statements.

    What they fail to ask themselves are all of the necessary questions about by what grounds are they empowered to pick a not might-makes-right moral system? What is the principle that allows them to object to the moral views and behavior of others, if morality refers to subjective goals and goods? The only principle they have, under subjectivism, is their own personal might (mental, physical, etc.) to do so. If society believes otherwise, then collectively they have the moral right to simply round up and execute those who disagree if they so wish. If the Israelites have the power to commit genocide, then under moral relativism, it is by definition as moral as any other act committed by the individual holding their act to be moral.

    I think that many of these atheists/materialists are sincere, and are sincerely outraged at what they consider to be past abuses of religion and moral imposition by might of the church, but in their angry zeal to deny and ridicule, they have thrown the necessary baby out with the dirty bathwater. They are left without any foundational principle or premise that can organize their beliefs about science, self, morality, logic, the universe and existence into a rationally consistent, justified, and coherent belief system.

    They are content to simply not examine their own worldviews back to premise and forward to conclusion, and throw ridicule and dismissal at those who are willing to do so and who challenge them to do so. KF points this issue out repeatedly, challenging them to justify their positions via logic back to premise and forward to conclusion. Instead of accepting the challenge and working to explain how their worldview is founded upon sound premise and reaches rational conclusions, they are content to sit on the sideline and meet such challenges with ridicule and denial.

    What KF has posted here is a challenge, on several fronts, for those who are willing to defend their views via sufficient warrant (premise) and towards rationally consistent and coherent conclusion. Any atheists/materialist up to the task?

  11. Eigenstate:

    Let me first thank you for taking time to comment.

    I am afraid, however, that I cannot give an out of context slice or two offered up for rhetorical carving. The issues being addressed are tightly integrated and need to be seen together as an educational whole; which is why I went for long — magazine feature length — copy rather than short column length copy. It is also why I have given onward links.

    Also, talking points like “Atheism is a religion in the same way not-collecting-stamps is a hobby,” joined to distractive attempts to manipulate moral sensibilites by taking issues and texts of the Bible out of context [cf here and here onward where I have dealt with Mr Dawkins' recent attempt to duck public accountability over worldview responsibilities by using the distractor of falsely accusing Mr Craig of support for genocide -- this is not on topic for this thread, and will be gavelled], are no substitute for thinking through an issue whole.

    I suggest you may want to work your way through the worldview analysis tipsheet here.

    As for “disingenuous,” did you consult a dictionary before posting? Note, AmHD:

    dis·in·gen·u·ous adj. 1. Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating: “an ambitious, disingenuous, philistine, and hypocritical operator, who … exemplified … the most disagreeable traits of his time” (David Cannadine).

    If you tossed this off without thought, that is bad enough. If you deliberately meant the above this is an unwarranted attack to the man, which should not be repeated.

    Now, I will note on points:

    a: I have never said that the keystone proposition at the heart of Atheism as such — denial of the reality of God — is a worldview, but that it is an integral part of a worldview, in our day most often “scientific” atheism is part of evolutionary materialism dressed up in a lab coat. Which is what I specifically addressed, as it is the relevant form.

    b: So, the attempt to suggest otherwise was an improper resort to strawman caricature.

    c: Contrary to your attempted denial, the resort to tendentious redefinition is often used in exactly the way I noted.

    d: And indeed, we can see that you do the same, for you do not address the worldview frame that embeds “scientific” [evolutionary materialist] atheism that the post does, but use the question-begging attempted redefinition of atheism as a distraction. Nowhere do you actually cogently address the matters placed on the table, including Smart’s definition that appears in the Stanford Enc of phil, a deservedly famous reference work.

    e: The attempt to cast my accurate citations and comments on Lewontin’s infamous remarks remind me of the lawyer who spent a great deal of time and rhetoric explaining the difference between his client’s invention and someone else’s patent. Then, the other attorney simply stood up, put the two on display and said, simply LOOK, and see the facts. End of case.

    f: A priori imposed materialism, disguised as a “methodological” necessity, is a worldview level begging of the question that as I said above [and have discussed in the onward linked], takes the heart out of science: unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) empirical evidence-led search for the truth about our world based on observation, experiment, analysis, and reasoned discussion.

    g: You have also neatly snipped one point from Plato out of its context of a discussion of materialism on the ground in his day [with implications onwards down to today]. As a matter of fact, on the ground from Plato’s day to this, materialist atheism has repeatedly even reliably been connected to undermining of moral consensus through injection of a radical relativism, with damaging consequences. Indeed, 100 million ghosts from the century just past moan out a reminder on just this point. And, as usual, you have studiously ignored other relevant links and references that specifically include Dawkins and Provine in haste to make dismissive talking points. Plato’s point is still valid: evolutionary materialists tend strongly to radical relativism.

    h: The worldview connexion (addressed in onward linked discussions that you would have been well advised to consult) is this: unless a given worldview has a foundational IS that can bear the weight of OUGHT, it ends up having no basis for ought.

    i: Evolutionary materialism, as a worldview, is about a narrative that pivots on blindly evolving matter, from hydrogen to humans, under forces of chance and necessity acting on matter and energy in space-time domains. There is in that no purpose, thus no reference point for good, or evil. There is no basis on such a view for ought, beyond subjective preferences and perceptions. Period.

    j: Consequently, on such a view our moral sensibilities are subject to the manipulation and imposition of the powerful: might and manipulation make “right.” Which is exactly what Mr Dawkins set out to do with Craig and with those who would not pause to first ask, what did he mean when he said “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . .” And that is also an excellent illustration of why such evolutionary materialism is irretrievably morally bankrupt.

    k: If you would take time to read from here on (note in particular the section on good and evil, in context), in contrast to your talking-point level turnabout caricature of Biblical theism, you will find how such a worldview can be grounded on an IS that can bear the weight of ought: the inherently good Creator God, who is the ground of being, essentially good as to character and the maker of creation. (The response to the misdirected Euthyphro dilemma — is was devised as an objection to the finite and capricious gods of the long since defunct classical paganism, who precisely are NOT the ground of being nor are they inherently good as to character — may be examined here.)

    In short, it seems that the need for the above post has been underscored by the initial objecting responses.

    It seems, too, that the want of a basic exposure to worldviews analysis in our education in general, and the want of a good survey of relevant epistemological issues in science education in particular, are coming home to roost.

    GEM of TKI

  12. Onlookers:

    The sock-puppet “Jello” is simply repeating here the ongoing tactic at Anti Evo, of snipping points out of context to create and ridicule a strawman of the case I have presented at UD and at the IOSE draft course site.

    His failure to address matters substantially and cogently on the merits is its own refutation, and since this seems to be the the emerging standard move of the movement of evolutionary materialistic atheists in that circle, it should be plain that they resort to ridicule because they have no substance.

    That utter want of substance can be seen even in response to direct challenge.

    At least, Eigenstate has tried to lay out talking points, however flawed they may be.

    At minimum, such can be corrected where they go off the rails.

    Jello, either you come forward with some serious substantial responses, or kindly leave this thread.

    And BTW, hae ye the blood tae cry like that?

    Or, is that talking point fakery, too.

    Bydand!

    GEM of TKI

  13. furthermore eigenstate, neo-Darwinism fully qualifies as a ‘degenerate science’, i.e. as a full fledged pseudoscience::

    Science and Pseudoscience – Lakatos – audio
    http://richmedia.lse.ac.uk/phi.....nce128.mp3

    Everything Lakatos lays out for determining whether a paradigm is really a pseudoscience, which is in the process of being overthrown, has been fulfilled in neo-Darwinism:

    Here are a few notes I gathered using Lakatos criteria for seeing if neo-Darwinism is truly a pseudoscience (preceding 15 predictions omitted):

    Falsification Of Neo-Darwinism by Quantum Entanglement/Information
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p8AQgqFqiRQwyaF8t1_CKTPQ9duN8FHU9-pV4oBDOVs/edit?hl=en_US

    Where’s the substantiating evidence for neo-Darwinism?
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1q-PBeQELzT4pkgxB2ZOxGxwv6ynOixfzqzsFlCJ9jrw/edit

    Basic falsification criteria for Intelligent Design:

    Michael Behe on Falsifying Intelligent Design – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8jXXJN4o_A

    The Universal Plausibility Metric (UPM) & Principle (UPP) – Abel – Dec. 2009
    Excerpt: Mere possibility is not an adequate basis for asserting scientific plausibility. A precisely defined universal bound is needed beyond which the assertion of plausibility, particularly in life-origin models, can be considered operationally falsified. But can something so seemingly relative and subjective as plausibility ever be quantified? Amazingly, the answer is, “Yes.”,,,

    c?u = Universe = 10^13 reactions/sec X 10^17 secs X 10^78 atoms = 10^108

    c?g = Galaxy = 10^13 X 10^17 X 10^66 atoms = 10^96

    c?s = Solar System = 10^13 X 10^17 X 10^55 atoms = 10^85

    c?e = Earth = 10^13 X 10^17 X 10^40 atoms = 10^70

    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/6/1/27

    Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information – Abel, Trevors
    Excerpt: Shannon information theory measures the relative degrees of RSC and OSC. Shannon information theory cannot measure FSC. FSC is invariably associated with all forms of complex biofunction, including biochemical pathways, cycles, positive and negative feedback regulation, and homeostatic metabolism. The algorithmic programming of FSC, not merely its aperiodicity, accounts for biological organization. No empirical evidence exists of either RSC of OSC ever having produced a single instance of sophisticated biological organization. Organization invariably manifests FSC rather than successive random events (RSC) or low-informational self-ordering phenomena (OSC).,,,

    Testable hypotheses about FSC

    What testable empirical hypotheses can we make about FSC that might allow us to identify when FSC exists? In any of the following null hypotheses [137], demonstrating a single exception would allow falsification. We invite assistance in the falsification of any of the following null hypotheses:

    Null hypothesis #1
    Stochastic ensembles of physical units cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #2
    Dynamically-ordered sequences of individual physical units (physicality patterned by natural law causation) cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #3
    Statistically weighted means (e.g., increased availability of certain units in the polymerization environment) giving rise to patterned (compressible) sequences of units cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #4
    Computationally successful configurable switches cannot be set by chance, necessity, or any combination of the two, even over large periods of time.

    We repeat that a single incident of nontrivial algorithmic programming success achieved without selection for fitness at the decision-node programming level would falsify any of these null hypotheses. This renders each of these hypotheses scientifically testable. We offer the prediction that none of these four hypotheses will be falsified.
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/2/1/29

    Evolution Vs Genetic Entropy – Andy McIntosh – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4028086

    Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? – ‘The Fitness Test’ – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995248

    Here is How neo-Darwinian evolution avoids falsification ‘anamolus’ genetic evidence:

    A Primer on the Tree of Life – Casey Luskin – 2009
    Excerpt: The truth is that common ancestry is merely an assumption that governs interpretation of the data, not an undeniable conclusion, and whenever data contradicts expectations of common descent, evolutionists resort to a variety of different ad hoc rationalizations to save common descent from being falsified.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/10651

    How to Play the Gene Evolution Game – Casey Luskin – Feb. 2010
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....ution.html

    Pattern pluralism and the Tree of Life hypothesis – 2006
    Excerpt: Hierarchical structure can always be imposed on or extracted from such data sets by algorithms designed to do so, but at its base the universal TOL rests on an unproven assumption about pattern that, given what we know about process, is unlikely to be broadly true.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/104/7/2043.abstract

  14. furthermore eigenstate, neo-Darwinism fully qualifies as a ‘degenerate science’, i.e. as a full fledged pseudoscience::

    Science and Pseudoscience – Lakatos – audio
    http://richmedia.lse.ac.uk/phi.....nce128.mp3

    Everything Lakatos lays out for determining whether a paradigm is really a pseudoscience, which is in the process of being overthrown, has been fulfilled in neo-Darwinism:

    Here are a few notes I gathered using Lakatos criteria for seeing if neo-Darwinism is truly a pseudoscience (preceding 15 predictions omitted):

    Falsification Of Neo-Darwinism by Quantum Entanglement/Information
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p8AQgqFqiRQwyaF8t1_CKTPQ9duN8FHU9-pV4oBDOVs/edit?hl=en_US

    Where’s the substantiating evidence for neo-Darwinism?
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1q-PBeQELzT4pkgxB2ZOxGxwv6ynOixfzqzsFlCJ9jrw/edit

    Basic falsification criteria for Intelligent Design:

    Michael Behe on Falsifying Intelligent Design – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8jXXJN4o_A

    The Universal Plausibility Metric (UPM) & Principle (UPP) – Abel – Dec. 2009
    Excerpt: Mere possibility is not an adequate basis for asserting scientific plausibility. A precisely defined universal bound is needed beyond which the assertion of plausibility, particularly in life-origin models, can be considered operationally falsified. But can something so seemingly relative and subjective as plausibility ever be quantified? Amazingly, the answer is, “Yes.”,,,

    c?u = Universe = 10^13 reactions/sec X 10^17 secs X 10^78 atoms = 10^108

    c?g = Galaxy = 10^13 X 10^17 X 10^66 atoms = 10^96

    c?s = Solar System = 10^13 X 10^17 X 10^55 atoms = 10^85

    c?e = Earth = 10^13 X 10^17 X 10^40 atoms = 10^70

    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/6/1/27

    Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information – Abel, Trevors
    Excerpt: Shannon information theory measures the relative degrees of RSC and OSC. Shannon information theory cannot measure FSC. FSC is invariably associated with all forms of complex biofunction, including biochemical pathways, cycles, positive and negative feedback regulation, and homeostatic metabolism. The algorithmic programming of FSC, not merely its aperiodicity, accounts for biological organization. No empirical evidence exists of either RSC of OSC ever having produced a single instance of sophisticated biological organization. Organization invariably manifests FSC rather than successive random events (RSC) or low-informational self-ordering phenomena (OSC).,,,

    Testable hypotheses about FSC

    What testable empirical hypotheses can we make about FSC that might allow us to identify when FSC exists? In any of the following null hypotheses [137], demonstrating a single exception would allow falsification. We invite assistance in the falsification of any of the following null hypotheses:

    Null hypothesis #1
    Stochastic ensembles of physical units cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #2
    Dynamically-ordered sequences of individual physical units (physicality patterned by natural law causation) cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #3
    Statistically weighted means (e.g., increased availability of certain units in the polymerization environment) giving rise to patterned (compressible) sequences of units cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #4
    Computationally successful configurable switches cannot be set by chance, necessity, or any combination of the two, even over large periods of time.

    We repeat that a single incident of nontrivial algorithmic programming success achieved without selection for fitness at the decision-node programming level would falsify any of these null hypotheses. This renders each of these hypotheses scientifically testable. We offer the prediction that none of these four hypotheses will be falsified.
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/2/1/29

    Evolution Vs Genetic Entropy – Andy McIntosh – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4028086

    Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? – ‘The Fitness Test’ – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995248

  15. furthermore:

    Here is How neo-Darwinian evolution avoids falsification ‘anamolus’ genetic evidence:

    A Primer on the Tree of Life – Casey Luskin – 2009
    Excerpt: The truth is that common ancestry is merely an assumption that governs interpretation of the data, not an undeniable conclusion, and whenever data contradicts expectations of common descent, evolutionists resort to a variety of different ad hoc rationalizations to save common descent from being falsified.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/10651

    How to Play the Gene Evolution Game – Casey Luskin – Feb. 2010
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....ution.html

    Pattern pluralism and the Tree of Life hypothesis – 2006
    Excerpt: Hierarchical structure can always be imposed on or extracted from such data sets by algorithms designed to do so, but at its base the universal TOL rests on an unproven assumption about pattern that, given what we know about process, is unlikely to be broadly true.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/104/7/2043.abstract

    Here is How neo-Darwinian evolution avoids falsification from the fossil record;

    Seeing Ghosts in the Bushes (Part 2): How Is Common Descent Tested? – Paul Nelson – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: Fig. 6. Multiple possible ad hoc or auxiliary hypotheses are available to explain lack of congruence between the fossil record and cladistic predictions. These may be employed singly or in combination. Common descent (CD) is thus protected from observational challenge.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....es_pa.html

    This following article reveals how evolutionists avoid falsification from the biogeographical data of finding numerous and highly similar species in widely separated locations:

    More Biogeographical Conundrums for Neo-Darwinism – March 2010
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....f_the.html

    The Case of the Mysterious Hoatzin: Biogeography Fails Neo-Darwinism Again – Casey Luskin – November 5, 2011
    Excerpt: If two similar species separated by thousands of kilometers across oceans cannot challenge common descent, what biogeographical data can? The way evolutionists treat it, there is virtually no biogeographical data that can challenge common descent even in principle. If that’s the case, then how can biogeography be said to support common descent in the first place?
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....52571.html

    Whereas, contrary to neo-Darwinian ad Hoc rationalizations ID provides solide framework for making scientific predictions;

    A Response to Questions from a Biology Teacher: How Do We Test Intelligent Design? – March 2010
    Excerpt: Regarding testability, ID (Intelligent Design) makes the following testable predictions:
    (1) Natural structures will be found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information).
    (2) Forms containing large amounts of novel information will appear in the fossil record suddenly and without similar precursors.
    (3) Convergence will occur routinely. That is, genes and other functional parts will be re-used in different and unrelated organisms.
    (4) Much so-called “junk DNA” will turn out to perform valuable functions.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....rom_a.html

    A Positive, Testable Case for Intelligent Design – Casey Luskin – March 2011 – several examples of cited research
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....45311.html

    The Fossil Record and Falsifiable Predictions For ID – Casey Luskin – Audio
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....6_42-07_00

  16. F/N: In keeping with the educational focus for this thread, I clip the tipsheet on worldview analysis from the course notes for an introductory phil course:

    ____________

    >> TIPSHEET ON DOING PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS

    PRINCIPLE: Philosophy is based on analysis of worldviews using logic in light of the key hard questions and alternative answers – all of which bristle with difficulties. So in analysis, we need to see the underlying core worldview beliefs in an argument, then assess how they control the conclusions and action proposals made: do they make good sense? Then, we need to decide which alternative makes best sense in light of the comparative difficulties and the possible consequences of each option.

    I. START-POINT: THE KEY WORLDVIEW QUESTIONS

    As Nash points out: “a worldview is a set of beliefs about the important issues in life.” So, we need to see what an argument claims, implies or assumes regarding:

    What, or Who, is ultimately real? [i.e. Metaphysics]

    How do/can we know and test/justify this? [i.e. Logic & Epistemology]

    How, then, should we live? [i.e. Ethics & Aesthetics]

    What’s right/wrong with the world, and what should we do? [i.e. "loving and living by wisdom"]

    What are the key ideas and terms used in the worldview/argument?

    How does this fit with the major worldviews: e.g. theism, naturalism, pantheism, modernism, post-modernism?

    What are the key difficulties?

    What are the major alternatives to this view?

    What are their difficulties?

    In light of possible consequences and probabilities, which alternative is most prudent?

    II. PRACTICAL ARGUMENT CONCERNS

    Real arguments are intended to persuade us. That means that they will be wrapped in rhetorical strategies: (a) appeals to our emotions, (b) to allegedly credible authorities, (c ) to claimed facts and reasoning.

    So, in practical cases we should focus on:

    1. De-spinning:

    (a) emotions — are underlying perceptions and judgements accurate?

    (b) authorities — are they expert, fair and accurate?

    (c ) “facts” and logic — are claimed facts so and do they materially represent the truth? Are underlying assumptions sensible? Is the reasoning valid? Do conclusions make sense?

    2. Limitations of Knowledge: When we accept something as “knowledge,” we accept it as adequately justified and true, often on the testimony of an authority. So, always check “facts,” underlying assumptions and authorities, at least on a sample basis. Much of our knowledge is by way of being “best explanations” to date, and so is inherently provisional and tied to points of view: what are the major alternative views and limitations?

    3. Logic: Do conclusions follow from assumptions and “facts”? Does the argument assume things it should first have proved? Are generalizations from “facts” hasty/faulty? Do the assumptions, “facts” and implications contradict? (If so, could this be corrected?) Given the likely or possible risks on either side of a case, what conclusions should a prudent thinker draw? Who should we give the benefit of the doubt to?

    4. Ethics & Action Proposals: What would happen if many people were to follow the path proposed? Would I feel that my rights were being violated if I were treated like this? (That is, the Golden Rule/CI helps us see the right or at least the lesser of evils.) Also, we should ask if a consensus on these issues is possible? Or at least, can a coalition with a critical mass to act effectively be formed? Where is it necessary to compromise and go with the lesser of evils? >>
    ___________

    At a more basic level, some may benefit by first going through this short presentation on critical thinking. (Note in particular the discussion of science and limitations on its knowledge claims.)

    KF

  17. WJM: Well said. I trust that there will now be a serious examination of issues by thoughtful people. Much is at stake, far more than many realise. KF

  18. Of related note as to exposing the materialistic/atheistic worldview which is suffocating honest scientific inquiry:

    Time Flies: Darwin on Trial Twenty Years Later – trailer
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....5epDCcAqyQ

    Darwinism On Trial (Phillip E. Johnson) – video lecture:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?N.....wj9h9Zx6Mw

  19. Jello:

    You have resorted to Alinskyite, ridicule-laced talking point diatribes (&, cf here on Dr Kellogg’s distractive side-issue) rather than serious discussion of serious issues.

    That resort to caricaturing and attacking the man is uncivil, and the want of addressing of issues on the merits bespeaks an unacknowledged intellectual deficit faced by evolutionary materialism.

    Kindly, get serious and sober, or else get out of this thread.

    GEM of TKI

  20. PS: When dealing with evolutionary materialists, who — on long track record — find a difficulty with simple straightforward reading, emphasis is a help to the willing, and exposes the neglect of duty to read with due care and attention on the part of the unwilling. In short, it fulfills a valid educational purpose. That — as we saw above — it is met with ridicule by those who would rather sneer at an emphasis than seriously address the issues thereby highlighted cogently, is utterly telling.

  21. PPS: As for Jello’s highlighting the “crime” of linking to educational information that provides details that are not needed for the main argument but will be useful for those who want to learn, that sneering attitude in absence of cogent addressing of issues speaks for itself, to its utter discredit.

    (Let me add: similarly, classic quotes from key figures, from Plato to Newton, on to Paley [notice his self-replicating watch discussion that simply does not appear in the usual dismissals of his watch argument], Darwin [just think about his worldview agenda as revealed in his free thinker letter to Marx's son-in-law], Dawkins, Lewontin and Johnson, etc, also serve to focus the issues clearly. That the very fact of quoting such — accurately and in context with onward links to sources — is held against me is revealing about the want of seriousness we are dealing with. In the case of Plato, it is plain that materialism — evolutionary materialism driven by chance and necessity, in fact — has been on the table for over 2,000 years, and has been found wanting from then to now. Indeed, it is worth adding to what is in the OP, the point that Plato’s refutation pivots on a cosmological design inference, in a stunning piece of Bible-thumping. NOT. That is design thought is simply not rooted in the same soil as Creationism. So, bringing facts like this to bear is highly relevant, and it is telling that this pivotal passage in Plato is simply not well known or seriously and commonly discussed.)

  22. PPPS: Those who want to see why the log reduced, simplified form of Dembski’s Chi metric [CSI in the form FSCI, with particular reference to digitally coded, algorithmically functionally specific complex information as appears in DNA] is valid, meaningful and useful (including, with specific cases, in biological contexts) may wish to look here.

  23. A good effort by the indefatigable BA77, thanks!

  24. kf, you may like this flowchart:

    What is your worldview?
    http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net.....3100_n.jpg

  25. Quite interesting!

  26. F/N: Trevors and Abel’s FSC vs OSC vs RSC is of course closely related to the FSCI and CSI concepts.

  27. 27

    I’ve been involved (for a couple of months now I think) in a debate at Dr. Liddle’s website over morality and how one rationally justifies calling what anyone else does “immoral” or “wrong” without a theistic premise. So far, only one person there has honestly responded that, under moral relativism, gassing Jews is as intrinsically moral an act as hiding them in your attic to save them.

    If one is a moral relativist (from atheistic materialism), there is simply no way to rationally justify calling anything anyone does – including genocide – “wrong”. Wrong in regards to what purpose? Why should anyone else adopt that purpose? If purposes are subjectively chosen, and my purpose is to promote ethnic purity or discourage non-heterosexual activity, then going around killing people not like me is by definition moral. Who are you to say otherwise? By what standard are you judging my purpose immoral?

    Is it by consensus? If consensus makes something moral, then as long as there is consensus to promote ethnic purity genocide is once again validated as moral. One might say that morality is derived from empathetic conscience, but this once again makes those whose empathetic conscience tells them to destroy Jews for the good of mankind completely moral. Whose conscience? Whose empathy?

    If they argue that morality should be based on what is best for the most people, who gets to decide what “best” means? It just begs that question, and begs the question about why I should adopt that maxim in the first place.

    Then we come to necessary consequences; there are no necessary consequences under moral relativism, there are only arbitrary consequences. If the consequences are entirely arbitrary, why even worry about it? Why bother? What’s the point in arguing?

    If there are no necessary consequences to moral/immoral behavior, then the only reason to argue about morality is simply to manipulate others, by hook or by crook, into behaving in a manner you personally find comfortable or advantageous. IOW, trying to get others to behave the way you want them to for your own benefit (even if it would ostensibly help others too) via rhetoric or ridicule is the only reason to engage in debates about morality (if one is a moral relativist), because for the moral relativist no behavior is “wrong” by any objective standard from which one can establish a rational argument that evaluates behavior according to that standard. It’s all selfish rhetoric and emotional pleading.

    That’s all that is available under the atheistic premise.

    For the theist, however, there is a very important reason to rationally argue and debate about what is moral, since under theism moral/immoral behaviors have necessary consequences: true concern for those who are behaving immorally.

    Arguments from the perspective of moral relativism = selfish attempts to persuade others to act in a way that provides comfort or advantage to the person making the argument. At least arguments from the theistic perspective, where morality describes an objective good (or purpose), with necessary consequences, can be reflective of genuine concern for others.

    Moral relativists shouldn’t throw stones at others who, in their mind, defend genocide, because under moral relativism, genocide is as intrinsically moral an act as anything else. Their outrage belies the fact that their own premise necessarily leads to accepting genocide as a perfectly (subjective) moral act.

  28. WJM:

    You have raised several pertinent points.

    I do have a concern that yet another thread on the “genocide” red meat distractive accusation, would go nowhere, given what has already been gone over again and again in recent weeks. (I have given links on this above.)

    I ask that the thread therefore focus on the main, worldview issue.

    That is what the distraction would divert attention from, and it is what is in the end decisive, as even your own remarks on the support for genocide false accusation show.

    GEM of TKI

  29. Jammer

    It looks like Jello’s the latest Darwinist to have a nervous breakdown due to the continual rise of Intelligent Design

    Pardon me Jammer, but where is Intelligent Design continually rising? It certainly isn’t in the working scientific community, or in academia, or in the popular press, or on the Internet. AFAICT after ID’s humiliating defeat at Kitzmiller v. Dover ID took an almost vertical nose dive and has been bouncing along the noise floor ever since.

    Did you have some other venue in mind?

  30. @kairosfocus,

    Now, I will note on points:

    a: I have never said that the keystone proposition at the heart of Atheism as such — denial of the reality of God — is a worldview, but that it is an integral part of a worldview, in our day most often “scientific” atheism is part of evolutionary materialism dressed up in a lab coat. Which is what I specifically addressed, as it is the relevant form.

    Uh, in this very post you said this:

    This is fallacious and misleading, indeed, a fatal worldview error. Why is that so?

    a: It improperly shifts — and indeed ducks — the burden of warrant on comparative difficulties that any serious worldview must shoulder. If it is to be serious as a worldview.

    Sorry, you busted yourself on this one. Now that this is pointed out, you’re backtracking, but your post commits yourself to the very thing you deny here. The “it” in “If it is to be serious as a worldview” is “atheism” in your post.

    So, this:

    b: So, the attempt to suggest otherwise was an improper resort to strawman caricature.

    is discredited. Just for the record.

    c: Contrary to your attempted denial, the resort to tendentious redefinition is often used in exactly the way I noted.

    Atheism cannot be a worldview. It’s not a matter of definition. It doesn’t qualify conceptually, because it does not provide any overarching lens through which the extramental world is interpreted. Worldviews can support atheism, and many do, but you are either failing to grasp the basic concepts behind “worldview”, or simply continuing your pattern of incorrigibility, here.

    d: And indeed, we can see that you do the same, for you do not address the worldview frame that embeds “scientific” [evolutionary materialist] atheism that the post does, but use the question-begging attempted redefinition of atheism as a distraction. Nowhere do you actually cogently address the matters placed on the table, including Smart’s definition that appears in the Stanford Enc of phil, a deservedly famous reference work.

    Just in passing, here is the substance of what I mean by posting disingenuously. You put out a rambling, random walk of a large slew of issues — this is your version of the “Gish Gallop” — and then you find validation when point #15 of the hundred and more problems you introduce is not taken up. If you spam like that, or like BA77 does, you are certain to find lots of “triumph” in the fact anyone with the skills to point out your errors is likely to have enough sense NOT to indulge your spam techniques on an “all points” basis.

    On Smart’s definition, that works for me, and is not controversial. That’s just the “positive atheism” formulation as opposed to the “negative atheism” rendering which you refer to at Wikipedia (i.e. just a simple lack of belief rather than a positive belief that no God or gods exist). This does nothing for your case at all, and is just part of the space wasting of your rambling post.

    e: The attempt to cast my accurate citations and comments on Lewontin’s infamous remarks remind me of the lawyer who spent a great deal of time and rhetoric explaining the difference between his client’s invention and someone else’s patent. Then, the other attorney simply stood up, put the two on display and said, simply LOOK, and see the facts. End of case.

    Now you’re flattering yourself again. This isn’t responsive to the points being raised. Why do you continue to cut off Lewontin’s comments before they are finished in the quote you have on auto-paste? This is again the substance driving the conclusion that you aren’t just mistaken, but determined to be incorrigible. Being mistaken is a problem but a superable one. Being incorrigible just makes people tune you out (if the spam factor didn’t already do that).

    f: A priori imposed materialism, disguised as a “methodological” necessity, is a worldview level begging of the question that as I said above [and have discussed in the onward linked], takes the heart out of science: unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) empirical evidence-led search for the truth about our world based on observation, experiment, analysis, and reasoned discussion.

    It’s not philosophical materialism, it’s methodological materialism. Theists and atheists on a philosophical level engage in methodological naturalism as the predicate for the practice of science, every day. Methodological naturalism is a requirement for scientific knowledge to make any headway at all, epistemically. So the scientist who is a Christian engages methodological naturalism just as fully as the metaphysical materialist, and in so doing, scientific epistemology coheres, and natural knowledge can be developed.

    You know all this and have been corrected on this ad nauseum. This is just a brief marker noting, yet again, not just being mistaken, but incorrigible on this point. Claiming it’s a “disguised” necessity just signals political intransigence rather than understanding of scientific epistemology.

    That’s enough. I see you want to wander into “is vs. ought” and Euthyphro, inter alia. This is the Gish Galllop, KairosFocus Remix™. I will do my part in glancing off your incorrigibility in some brief measure, just as another data point bearing witness to the problem, but the Gallop is a chump’s game. I’m happy to focus on some issue in particular, and give it a decent treatment, but the evidence is quite clear on this blog that that just is not how you are willing to operate. Like BA77, this is cut-and-paste boilerplate apologetics, which can’t be bothered to stop and think and interact in a discussion-specific way, or to at least evolved the boilerplate to reflect a basic awareness and familiarity of what you are resisting, even if you don’t agree with it.

    +++++++++++

    ED: ESt and onlookers: I have responded at 15 below, to correct some serious misrepresentations and ad hominems in this post [the Gish gallop false accusation ESt makes is seriously loaded to the point of being a smear]. I note here, as it is now hard to follow threads with sub-threads.

  31. 31

    Part of the problem we face her is simply the lack of significant, honest debate on the side of the atheists/materialists. They always go at it from the perspective of attacking and ridiculing the moral views of theists, but never attempt to defend their own views.

    One wonders if they’ve applied any introspective, rational analysis to their own moral views. What are their basic premises/principles? How do they justify them? What gives them the grounding to criticize the moral values or decisions of others? What gives them the right to question consensus moral values, or question those which are offered from authority?

    But, all of this leads to even deeper existential considerations. Materialists argue as if one can willfully discern true statements from false, but upon what premise does that assumption lie? If humans thought is nothing more than an effect driven by physics, and the appearance of any “goal” or “purpose” or “free will choice” is an illusory corresponding effect, then they have no means by which to claim that they, or their debate opponents, will discern or believe anything other than what brute physics commands.

    Thus, the “feeling” that something is true is nothing more than a physics-generated sensation. Confidence in one’s argument and logic is nothing more than an associated sensation, which can accompany even the most untrue and baseless claims. One’s perspective of logic and proper inference to conclusion can – once again – just be the effect of molecules bumping together, whether one is saying something actually true, or barking like a dog in an asylum.

    Materialsts, determinists and atheists must live, act, and think as if they have free will; as if morality matters and is not entirely relative and subjective; as if true statements can be deliberately discerned, and as if artifacts of design can be discerned from those of nature; but argue in contradiction to how they must live, must act, and must think. The very form and process of their arguments directly contradict the content.

    To be outraged and argue as if it is objectively, universally wrong to (apparently) defend a case of genocide is to implicate that an objective standard exists by which to judge it. The argument carries with it an implicit expectation that, regardless of biological and physical cause to the contrary, their listener can independently discern the supposed truth of their argument. They expect their responses to be easily discerned from all potential natural sources and recognized as the product of intelligent design.

    It really is a rather remarkable example of intellectual blindness (to be charitable).

  32. eigenstate, you act as if you are being reasonable but you do not even realize that atheists cannot even ground the practice of ‘doing science’ within their atheistic worldview in the first place:

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

    Presuppositional Apologetics – easy to use interactive website
    http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/index.php

    Random Chaos vs. Uniformity Of Nature – Presuppositional Apologetics – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6853139

    RC Sproul Interviews Stephen Meyer – (Epistemology) Presuppositional Apologetics (and Scientific Argument for ID from presently acting cause known to produce effect in question)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM5J2zTBIzI

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

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” (materialistic) models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    Should You Trust the Monkey Mind? – Joe Carter
    Excerpt: Evolutionary naturalism assumes that our noetic equipment developed as it did because it had some survival value or reproductive advantage. Unguided evolution does not select for belief except insofar as the belief improves the chances of survival. The truth of a belief is irrelevant, as long as it produces an evolutionary advantage. This equipment could have developed at least four different kinds of belief that are compatible with evolutionary naturalism, none of which necessarily produce true and trustworthy cognitive faculties.
    http://www.firstthings.com/ont.....onkey-mind

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

    The following interview is sadly comical as a evolutionary psychologist realizes that neo-Darwinism can offer no guarantee that our faculties of reasoning will correspond to the truth, not even for the truth he is giving in the interview, (which begs the question of how was he able to come to that particular truthful realization, in the first place, if neo-Darwinian evolution were actually true?);

    Evolutionary guru: Don’t believe everything you think – October 2011
    Interviewer: You could be deceiving yourself about that.(?)
    Evolutionary Psychologist: Absolutely.
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....think.html

    Here a Darwinian Psychologist has a moment of honesty facing the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness;

    Darwinian Psychologist David Barash Admits the Seeming Insolubility of Science’s “Hardest Problem”
    Excerpt: ‘But the hard problem of consciousness is so hard that I can’t even imagine what kind of empirical findings would satisfactorily solve it. In fact, I don’t even know what kind of discovery would get us to first base, not to mention a home run.’
    David Barash – Materialist/Atheist Darwinian Psychologist
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....52491.html

  33. Quotes of note:

    “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…”
    CS Lewis – Mere Christianity

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

    “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.” J. B. S. Haldane ["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.

    In realizing atheism’s failure to provide a foundation for either objective morality or scientific inquiry, it is interesting to point out that Christianity was necessary for the sustained development of modern science:

    Jerry Coyne on the Scientific Method and Religion – Michael Egnor – June 2011
    Excerpt: The scientific method — the empirical systematic theory-based study of nature — has nothing to do with some religious inspirations — Animism, Paganism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Islam, and, well, atheism. The scientific method has everything to do with Christian (and Jewish) inspiration. Judeo-Christian culture is the only culture that has given rise to organized theoretical science. Many cultures (e.g. China) have produced excellent technology and engineering, but only Christian culture has given rise to a conceptual understanding of nature.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....47431.html

    Christianity Gave Birth To Each Scientific Discipline – Dr. Henry Fritz Schaefer – video
    http://vimeo.com/16523153

    Christianity and The Birth of Science – Michael Bumbulis, Ph.D
    Excerpt: Furthermore, many of these founders of science lived at a time when others publicly expressed views quite contrary to Christianity – Hume, Hobbes, Darwin, etc. When Boyle argues against Hobbe’s materialism or Kelvin argues against Darwin’s assumptions, you don’t have a case of “closet atheists.”
    http://ldolphin.org/bumbulis/

    Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons
    IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21)
    Excerpt: Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.
    http://www.robkoons.net/media/.....ffd524.pdf

    Moreover, the continued success of science can be argued to be dependent on Christianity

    Bruce Charlton’s Miscellany – October 2011
    Excerpt: I had discovered that over the same period of the twentieth century that the US had risen to scientific eminence it had undergone a significant Christian revival. ,,,The point I put to (Richard) Dawkins was that the USA was simultaneously by-far the most dominant scientific nation in the world (I knew this from various scientometic studies I was doing at the time) and by-far the most religious (Christian) nation in the world. How, I asked, could this be – if Christianity was culturally inimical to science?
    http://charltonteaching.blogsp.....-wife.html

    The following video is far more direct in establishing the ‘spiritual’ link to man’s ability to learn new information (make scientific discoveries), in that it shows that the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot, or near the top spot, in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court in 1963. Whereas the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world:

    The Real Reason American Education Has Slipped – David Barton – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318930

    You can see that dramatic difference, of the SAT scores for private Christian schools compared to public schools, at this following site;

    Aliso Viejo Christian School – SAT 10 Comparison Report
    http://www.alisoviejochristian.....at_10.html

    I truly invite atheists to look past their petty prejudices against Christianity in particular, and against Theism in general, and honestly consider these points I’ve raised against atheism. Please, ask yourself, ‘why should these points be so if atheism is actually true?’ i.e. Why can’t science, morality, or truth, be grounded in atheism?,, For if you can’t honestly answer these points I’ve raised (and you can’t), then this makes atheism/materialism untrue as a philosophy/worldview. And if you, as a atheists, are living your life as if atheism were true then you are in fact ‘living a lie’.,,, And even though atheists surely could list the faults of Christians all day long (as I could list faults of atheists all day long) Is it worth ‘living a lie’ just because atheists find the behavior of some (many?) Christians/Theists objectionable, and even hypocritical? Should you not seek out the truth above all else regardless of, and even in spite of, the behavior of other people?

    John 6:37
    All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

    I Turn To You- Selah (with lyrics)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI5i1qSg1mE

  34. Statements like this reveal the real problem for many atheists/materialist/determinists/physicalists; they have no significant understanding of philosophical warrant and consequences when it comes to worldviews.

    Collecting stamps/not collecting stamps is not a grounding worldview about the way one sees existential reality. Whether one collects stamps or not doesn’t inform one’s view of the universe, deeply affect how one understands the concepts of morality, purpose, and existential meaning. The choice of being a theist or an atheist, however, necessarily entails these broad, significant, and meaningful consequences. Unlike collecting stamps, atheism is a deeply significant and consequential worldview that cannot be passed off erroneously as a “lack of” a positive worldview commitment.

    I think you have cause and effect confused, here. Atheism would be a conclusion produced by an underlying worldview for me, not the worldview itself. It is because

    The point about not collecting stamps was NOT (!!) to say that the question of the existence of God or gods is trivial as we might suppose stamp collecting to be. The point was something quite different, just that atheism is a negation, and not a positive framework itself. Atheism doesn’t entail any particular ethical framework, for example. Denying existence of gods does not commit one to utilitarianism, libertarianism, syncretist, etc., and these are the positive factors that inform the ethical foundations for our views. Importantly, many of them conflict with each other and are mutually incompatible, even if they can all agree to the atheist negation that there are likely no extant gods.

    In any case, the interpretive grid one adopts, and particularly one’s innate trust for one’s intuitions, and how immune one’s intuitions are from assault by critical review and doubt by the self or others, provides the “lens” for looking at the world in ways that lead, depending on the particulars, to a belief in God or not.

    The statement that subjective morality doesn’t necessarily lead to might makes right is just that – an ill considered statement made from someone who hasn’t really thought it out. Because they are moral relativists, and because they don’t believe in “might makes right”, they think moral relativism does not necessarily entail “might makes right”. And so, as illustrated by KF, so much of the atheist/materialist worldview is question-begged and consequence-ignored, hidden behind simple, undefended, unwarranted, unexamined statements.

    On moral relativism, might cannot make right in some general sense, BY DEFINITION. Moral relativism, if we just take a very simplistic (but workable for our purposes, here) rendering as “It’s morally good to me, because I believe it is”, NECESSARILY cannot resolve to “might makes right” as a general conclusion, because that very formulation DENIES SUCH GENERAL CONCLUSIONS. I’m struck by the poetic justice of your words there about “unconsidered”, etc. snapping back on you so vividly, here. If Jack believes, as a moral relativist, that “might does NOT make right”, and Jill believes, as a moral relativist that “might DOES make right”, how would you resolve those, as one who putatively really has “thought it out” on moral relativist terms. Which one prevails, on moral relativism? It’s a trick question, but that’s the point — you’ve not thought this through even superficially!

    If a thousand moral relativists have one thousand different subjective moral convictions, and as a matter of realpolitik some individuals or other resort to violence and other methods of projecting power over the others, that might doesn’t make right on moral relativism. It’s just might, and moral relativism, for whatever failings we might identify in it, does not and cannot be implicated as countenancing that in a general way, because moral relativism by definition cannot issue such general assertions.

    What they fail to ask themselves are all of the necessary questions about by what grounds are they empowered to pick a not might-makes-right moral system? What is the principle that allows them to object to the moral views and behavior of others, if morality refers to subjective goals and goods? The only principle they have, under subjectivism, is their own personal might (mental, physical, etc.) to do so. If society believes otherwise, then collectively they have the moral right to simply round up and execute those who disagree if they so wish. If the Israelites have the power to commit genocide, then under moral relativism, it is by definition as moral as any other act committed by the individual holding their act to be moral.

    On moral relativism, their grounds for objecting to the moral views of others is their subjective convictions about moral values. This is not might that underwrites their authority, but just their mental autonomy, their own subjectivity. As such, it is not and cannot be binding or deontologically normative on others. It’s the antithesis of “might makes right”. It’s “subjectivity eviscerates claims to moral authority through might”.

    On moral relativism, a collective agreement toward genocide manifests DOES NOT justify that agreement because it’s a collective. “As moral as any other act” equivocates on “moral”, there, as it uses objective semantics for what moral relativists regard to be wholly subjective. It’s a divide by zero to say “as moral as”, intersubjectively. What “as moral as” means on moral relativism is that “might makes right” CANNOT be a collective or objective moral good, or a moral evil, for that matter, for there ARE no such things. Humans are social beings, so social contracts and political negotiations abound, but on moral relativism, these are practical concerns, not the grounds for any objective moral values.

    I think that many of these atheists/materialists are sincere, and are sincerely outraged at what they consider to be past abuses of religion and moral imposition by might of the church, but in their angry zeal to deny and ridicule, they have thrown the necessary baby out with the dirty bathwater. They are left without any foundational principle or premise that can organize their beliefs about science, self, morality, logic, the universe and existence into a rationally consistent, justified, and coherent belief system.

    I really think it’s a matter of being lazy and complacent in the face of tyranny, slavish obeisance to doctrinaire authority. As a long time Christian, that was regrettably a part of the “right thinking” in my mind, and in my church and Christian circles. God as moral ground is shallow, oppressive, imaginary. But those downsides are often found tolerable by many for the upsides of being simple, authoritarian and passive. Thinking through ethics and morality for humans as natural beings, evolved natural beings without the delusions of an imaginary God as moral lawgiver is messy, complicated, bound up in hard-to-untangle dynamics of man’s core evolved psychology and the conflicting urges toward liberty, security, self-gratification, empathy and many other factors. For many, it’s just easier to abdicate on all that, and submit to the practical benefits of the delusion — God said it, I believe it, and that’s that.

    They are content to simply not examine their own worldviews back to premise and forward to conclusion, and throw ridicule and dismissal at those who are willing to do so and who challenge them to do so. KF points this issue out repeatedly, challenging them to justify their positions via logic back to premise and forward to conclusion. Instead of accepting the challenge and working to explain how their worldview is founded upon sound premise and reaches rational conclusions, they are content to sit on the sideline and meet such challenges with ridicule and denial.

    It’s a self-serving challenge, and says: Atheists, please now justify your moral frameworks in terms of moral values that stem from a God, a moral lawgiver, a moral dogma. It’d be humorous if it wasn’t so pervasive and prone to being taken seriously so many others. The very core of what you understand to be “grounds” for moral law or deontology is bogus, unwarranted. Yet, this is the cage you (apparently) and kairosfocus are stuck in. When William Lane Craig gets up and worries about the lack of “objective moral values” without God, it’s disingenuous, because William Lane Craig defines “objective moral values” in a self-serving, ad-hoc way, as just those “moral values which are given to us by a creator God”. Well, on those terms, of COURSE it’s true, it’s just tautologically true by the way Craig sets it up to serve his own ends.

    If you point to evolved human nature as an objective set of facts (and man’s physiology and evolved psychology are facts on the ground that are objective — they are what they are regardless of the will or mind of anyone here or anywhere), that ground human intuitions about fairness, justice, empathy, dignity, etc., Craig isn’t interested. He’s not looking for objective grounding for moral value, he’s looking for a God to worship. I haven’t heard enough from you to make any judgments, but that kind of “Chump Test” from Craig is fairly pandemic in Christian circles, and is a well established trope on this blog.

    I’m quite happy to be challenged to examine and defend my views, but I’m not such a chump to fall for “Please ground your morals as an atheist in my God-centric self-serving notions of moral grounding”. It is Christians’ inability or unwillingness to think, even provisionally, outside of this self-serving box that stunts the discussion, and reduces it to just trolling for chumps by Christian apologists.

  35. eigenstate is it not severely hypocritical of you to use transcendent logic and reasoning to prove to us that they don’t truly exist? Or does this glaring flaw in logic escape your reasoning as well?

  36. GinoB,

    Pardon me Jammer, but where is Intelligent Design continually rising? It certainly isn’t in the working scientific community, or in academia, or in the popular press, or on the Internet. AFAICT after ID’s humiliating defeat at Kitzmiller v. Dover ID took an almost vertical nose dive and has been bouncing along the noise floor ever since.

    Did you have some other venue in mind?

    Denial is the first step toward acceptance, congrats ;)

    What venue? Discoveries in the biological sciences of course.

    With each new layer peeled away, so too does the burden grow on Darwinian evolution; a load increasing with each new level of codependent complexity revealed.

  37. as to proving transcendent logic has causal power over the material realm, I submit this for starters:

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

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

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

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

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

    of note; ‘the Word’ is translated from the Greek word ‘Logos’. Logos happens to be the word from which we derive our modern word ‘Logic’.

  38. Stu7

    What venue? Discoveries in the biological sciences of course.

    I follow the scientific literature fairly closely and I don’t recall any discoveries in the biological sciences that provide positive evidence for ID to the exclusion of evolutionary mechanisms. Did you have some specific scientific studies in mind?

  39. KF:

    PS: When dealing with evolutionary materialists, who — on long track record — find a difficulty with simple straightforward reading, emphasis is a help to the willing, and exposes the neglect of duty to read with due care and attention on the part of the unwilling.

    No disrespect KF, but your writing style is anything but straightforward. It takes a lot of work to decipher and parse what you are trying to say.

    I read as many as 3-4 dozen blogs in a day, and to be really honest, I rarely read your pieces, and even more rarely finish them (only skimmed this one). It’s not because I’m unwilling, but because I don’t have the time. Or maybe I’m just not as smart as most of the people here. The Internet is a marketplace of competing ideas.

    And besides, I’m not really sure who you are – perhaps if we knew more about your – your credentials, your publishing history etc, it might lend more weight to your position. If this was Dembski writing like this, I’d probably be more inclined to work at it. But right now you’re just one of many anonymous writers out there competing for my time. And until you can learn to communicate well, I’m not sure I have the bandwidth to consume your content. Just some honest feedback you can take or leave, but I think your readership is going to be inevitably quite tiny if you carry on as you are.

  40. 40

    Eigenstate says:

    It’s not philosophical materialism, it’s methodological materialism. Theists and atheists on a philosophical level engage in methodological naturalism as the predicate for the practice of science, every day. Methodological naturalism is a requirement for scientific knowledge to make any headway at all, epistemically. So the scientist who is a Christian engages methodological naturalism just as fully as the metaphysical materialist, and in so doing, scientific epistemology coheres, and natural knowledge can be developed.

    Perhaps from this paragraph headway can be made. It seems you wish to begin with methodological naturalism as the manner in which science must be conducted. Fine, let’s posit that.

    Moving backwards to sufficiently grounding premise for our assumption, which is our accepted root of scientific inquiry, the following questions need answering:

    (1) Why should we expect humans to be able to deliberately discern true (at least provisionally) statements by observing phenomena?

    (2) What is the term “natural” (methodological naturalism) offered in relationship to, and what is the substantive meaning of the alternative that requires this qualifying term as part of the description of scientific inquiry?

    (3) Why should we expect to find natural phenomena behaving in orderly, predictable, consistent patterns that can be examined in a methodological manner?

    You said that whether or not a Christian or an atheist conducted scientific research, they would both have to utilize methodological naturalism. Is the Christian and the atheist conducting such research in a heuristic vacuum, or do their broader, existential views influence what they expect to find, how they organize what they are looking for, and how they interpret the results?

    IOW, a methodology doesn’t tell you what to expect, what to look for, or how to interpret what you find; it only tells you how to go about the investigation. If one is confined by the scientific establishment (explicitly or implicitly) to reach only naturalistic conclusions, is that not beyond the scope of the methodology?

    This is important because of the term “explanation”; in scientific methodology terms, an “explanation” is nothing more than a description of a process from sufficient cause to effect. A scientific “explanation” is not a conclusion or an interpretation.

    If the scientific leadership has an organized, systemic program of denying or discouraging the expression of non-naturalistic conclusions or interpretations of evidence (note: not methods or explanations) gathered via the methodology, does that not warrant valid concern that those in power in the institution of science are attempting to use the office of science to promote their broader ideology?

    We can see here why the term “natural” is important as a qualifier in the term “methodological naturalism”; what does it mean to be limited to a natural sufficient cause? What is the qualifying term actually ruling out?

    If one’s answer is “the supernatural”, what exactly does one mean by that? If one’s answer is “art” (as in natural vs artificial), then how do we account for the very real artificial causes we know exist (human design)?

    If methodological naturalism is only about method and explanation, and not expectations, interpretations or conclusions, then why are non-naturalistic expectations, interpretations and conclusions systematically discouraged by the scientific leadership, office and apparatus?

  41. BA77,

    eigenstate is it not severely hypocritical of you to use transcendent logic and reasoning to prove to us that they don’t truly exist? Or does this glaring flaw in logic escape your reasoning as well?

    It must have, as I can’t make head nor tail of anything you’ve said here. You do mention my handle, which suggest you are replying to me, but after that first word, it seems like you accidentally posted some comment to some other person on some other topic somewhere else in here.

    If that’s not the case, tell me what the transcendent logic you see here being applied to prove that — what? — doesn’t truly exist. If you can provide a very brief synopsis of what you think I’ve argued here, perhaps I might recognize that. As it is, you’ve left me nothing to work with. What is the ‘they’ that you refer to in “they don’t truly exist”?

  42. Onlookers:

    Passing by for a moment.

    Observe very carefully just how little of the objections above are substantial.

    I note to Woodford, that the relevant highlights are of citations, not my writing. And, I think the matters above are quite clear enough.

    Eigenstate, please look up synecdoche.

    Later.

    GEM of TKI

  43. Your right eigenstate, I see no transcendent logic in your words only irrationality!

  44. Great post KF… It can be somewhat amusing watching the “atheist” play their hide and seek games. Atheism is the polar opposite of theist, they are thus affirming a negative “No God(s)” with their view. By affirming there is “No God(s)” they’re attempting to answer a fundamental question that any worldview must somehow answer, the existence of God. But for many atheists, atheism is not considered a worldview, rather just a denial. But they fail to realize that a worldview is first of all an explanation and interpretation of the world and second, an application of this view to life. Answering this very question frames your entire outlook on life. Granted, its one of about four or five questions any worldview must that answer. This is where the atheist will try and default back to naturalism and claim it as their worldview. But how can naturalism answer this question? Does not naturalism deal with the observed natural laws of our universe and not the supernatural? Would not using naturalism as a position to answer this fundamental question end up contradicting itself? Thoughts?

  45. KF:

    I note to Woodford, that the relevant highlights are of citations, not my writing. And, I think the matters above are quite clear enough.

    Really not sure what you are referring to, I’m referring to your own original content and how difficult it is to parse. it’s a pity because I suspect you’ve got some important things to say, but personally I just can’t get past your communications style. It’s a shame, because it could be hindering your effectiveness and scope of influence. And it’s a cop-out to just say that it’s the readers fault if they don’t understand you (I work for a well-known hi-tech company, and there is no way I could ever get away with that one!).

    It’s a pity of course that communication style should matter, but in this day-and-of-age of rapid-fire content delivery, having a good communication style is in fact a pre-requisite to be properly heard.

    Of course if KF is content with being an anonymous contributor on a relatively obscure blog, my points are of no importance. But given that I believe he seems to want a larger reach, then perhaps it does matter.

  46. @William J Murray

    Moving backwards to sufficiently grounding premise for our assumption, which is our accepted root of scientific inquiry, the following questions need answering:

    (1) Why should we expect humans to be able to deliberately discern true (at least provisionally) statements by observing phenomena?

    We shouldn’t in any self-justifying. It’s an intuiton, the idea that reality is reflected to some intelligible degree by observable phenomena. That makes it a research program, one that doesn’t to justify itself metaphyscally, but rather just urges getting on with the research project and evaluating the results. If the intuition is correct, then we should be able to build performative models to some degree. If the intuition is incorrect, we shan’t expect performative models to emerge or intelligible processes to be identified via empirical heuristics.

    (2) What is the term “natural” (methodological naturalism) offered in relationship to, and what is the substantive meaning of the alternative that requires this qualifying term as part of the description of scientific inquiry?

    “Natural” opposes “supernatural”, where “natural” points at phonomena which are observable (at least in principle).

    This is required by the practice of science because models cannot be developed or tested without observation. Models that rely on dynamics that defy observation, testing, and independent validation cannot be judged as performative, and science’s goal is the acquisition of natural knowledge through performative models. Working backwards, if you take away methodological naturalism, you have no basis for objective assessment of a model’s performance. If you can’t assess performance, you cannot assign meaning to “knowledge” as distinct from “non-knowledge”. Without that, knowledge and non-knowledge are synonymous (this is theology, then).

    (3) Why should we expect to find natural phenomena behaving in orderly, predictable, consistent patterns that can be examined in a methodological manner?[/quote]
    As a matter of philosophical bootstrapping and first principles, we shouldn’t, and science depends on no such justification. It’s a research program, and the merits of the hypothesis are determined AFTER the fact, after the research has been pursued and we can see what, if any, progress we can make in building performative models based on predictable, constistent patterns in the dynamics of our observable surroundings.

    As a matter of biology, we observe that humans are physiologically hardwired to engage in scientific model building — from birth, and before. So as a matter of practical justification, humans can’t help but do otherwise. We are compelled by
    the physiologically we inherent to build models and continually refine them through the corrective feedback loops of sensory experience from our first conscious moments.

    You said that whether or not a Christian or an atheist conducted scientific research, they would both have to utilize methodological naturalism. Is the Christian and the atheist conducting such research in a heuristic vacuum, or do their broader, existential views influence what they expect to find, how they organize what they are looking for, and how they interpret the results?

    The models perform, objectively, in natural terms, or they do not. What is made of that performance is subject to all manner of extra-scientific interpretation and contextualization, and mileage varies in terms of the philosophical implications of that performance (or lack of performance) from person to person. But as an epistemology, science requires methodological naturalism as the underwriter for the semantics of model performance; without it, there is no intersubjective basis for saying “this model succeeded in its prediction”, or “this one didn’t”, and it collapses into something impotent like theology if that methodological requirement is removed. Whether you are atheist or Christian or Buddhist, Galileo’s astronomical model outperformed in natural terms, the other extant models (e.g. Ptolemaic astronomy). What that means in terms of discrediting the Church or not is an extra-scientific question. On natural terms, all participants, Catholic, heretic, atheist or otherwise can agree that the heliocentric model provides superior performance — testable performance — over any other available models at that time.

    “God moves the planets the way in which they move”, though, would be a much more efficient model, and would have superior explanatory power, even if the internals are inscrutable. A “supernatural hypothesis” will always win in this case, because it doesn’t have to submit to natural mechanics. We can just say “God did it, supernaturally” and be done with it. God’s ways and methods, by definition, are necessarily inscrutable and untestable for us. So if we let that divine foot in the door, our whole epistemology collapses, and we are left with “knowing” that “God did it”, which is to not know anything at all.

    IOW, a methodology doesn’t tell you what to expect, what to look for, or how to interpret what you find; it only tells you how to go about the investigation. If one is confined by the scientific establishment (explicitly or implicitly) to reach only naturalistic conclusions, is that not beyond the scope of the methodology?

    The methodology does tell you what to look for. The intution, again, is that if the world around us is in fact to some degree intelligible, then “intelligibility” may take the form of our successfully building performative models based on our experience of our surroundings. We don’t know upfront how our research program will pan out — it’s a metaphysical gamble, if one we are hardwired to take by our physical nature. We can only assess the results after the application of the method. Looking back, there seems to be significant evidence that suggests we CAN build models that are performative and testable and that thereby provide the basis for understanding the universe to be intelligible to some degree. So that metaphysical gamble seems to have paid off.

    This is important because of the term “explanation”; in scientific methodology terms, an “explanation” is nothing more than a description of a process from sufficient cause to effect. A scientific “explanation” is not a conclusion or an interpretation.

    It is important, but you’ve missed the reason it’s important. If the explanation is rendered in natural terms, it cannot be scored and evaluated as part of a model in natural terms. If we can’t score it naturally, based on our empirical observations, we’re hosed, and then have NO way (that we know of) to ground any intersubjective knowledge. No strict requirements on explanations being natural, no natural models. No natural models, no basis for evaluating performance and incorporating feedback from the extra-mental world. No basis for performance, no distinguishing between knowledge and non-knowledge. External stimuli are the only resource we are aware of that can ground objective knowledge, and separate us from solipsism/theology.

    If the scientific leadership has an organized, systemic program of denying or discouraging the expression of non-naturalistic conclusions or interpretations of evidence (note: not methods or explanations) gathered via the methodology, does that not warrant valid concern that those in power in the institution of science are attempting to use the office of science to promote their broader ideology?

    It certainly does. It’s definitely a risk. Once you get beyond a scientific epistemology, it all becomes subjective politics. So you do have warrant and should be concerned about that, as a Christian. I advocate for philosophical materialism, which I see as the most reasonable and evidence-powered interpretation of the witness of science-as-methodological-naturalism. I believe a reasonable case can be made that this is a superior model to theistic models, and suppose that man would be better off in thinking more carefully and freely choosing such a model in the interests of human well-being, dignity, creativity, justice and prosperity. But for all that, a Christian has the same fruits of methodological naturalism (science) to interpret as she wishes. And many do interpret science in ways that give rise to the embrace of theism and other non-naturalist philosophies.

    That can’t be helped. These issues have to play out socially and politically. But perverting science by depriving it of its crucial ingredient — methodological naturalism — is self-defeating for everyone. In that case, now we don’t even have any base natural knowledge to develop our interpretations FROM. We are “knowledge poor”, as well as being “interpretively challenged” in that case.

    We can see here why the term “natural” is important as a qualifier in the term “methodological naturalism”; what does it mean to be limited to a natural sufficient cause? What is the qualifying term actually ruling out?

    The method needs to proscribe explanations that are not compatible with empirical testing, falsification and validation of models that incorporate them. So, for any given explanation, we must ask: can this explanation be falsified empirically, or more precisely, can this explanation be incorporated into models that entail its falsification given certain empirical results?

    This is famously why string theory, an idea which is eminently scientific in its genesis and provenance, fails this requirement. The explanation is not amenable to incorporating into models which can then be empirically falsified based on predictions that are entailed by the model. In the case of string theory, at least, there’s some wiggle room, as the “non-testability” of string theory is more of a practical limitation than a problem in principle (we just cannot come close to reproducing the extreme conditions that will provided adjudicative results with our current technology, or anything we can see on the horizon, although it’s conceivable that far down the road, we will be able to devise such tests).

    Other explanations — God is working behind the veil of randomness to steer quantum events toward the needed point mutations to achieve the form of human development that God desires, for example — simply and thoroughly defy any incorporation into a model that is empirically testable. If we were to incorporate such explanations, we could not test them, and if we could not empirically test them, we have obviated our grounds for regarding any of these explanations as knowledge. We have lost the “justified” and “true” modifiers in “justified true belief” in so doing.

    If one’s answer is “the supernatural”, what exactly does one mean by that? If one’s answer is “art” (as in natural vs artificial), then how do we account for the very real artificial causes we know exist (human design)?

    If methodological naturalism is only about method and explanation, and not expectations, interpretations or conclusions, then why are non-naturalistic expectations, interpretations and conclusions systematically discouraged by the scientific leadership, office and apparatus?

    Methodological naturalism is all about our expectations, interpretations and conclusions. People can do what they want (and they do!) extra-scientifically, but naturalism is the governing constraint for our expectations, interpretations and conclusions in science. We do not conclude that general relativity is a more powerful model than Newtonian physics without natural explanations on the front end, natural models in the middle, and natural testing and result analysis on the back end. I’m repeating myself now, but it’s not just natural explanation for yuks. Without naturalism assumed, methodologically, you don’t GET conclusions, you don’t get anything even modestly objective at all. See the world of theology for more by way of demonstration of this problem.

  47. eigenstate you state:

    I advocate for philosophical materialism, which I see as the most reasonable and evidence-powered interpretation of the witness of science-as-methodological-naturalism.

    OK, prove that your conclusion of philosophical materialism is warranted from the scientific method!,,, With Alain Aspect’s (and company) falsification of local realism (reductive materialism), with quantum entanglement, this should be very entertaining to watch you try to do!.,,, Here is a rough outline of the case for Christian Theism from the scientific method.

    Notes;

    Centrality of Each Observer In The Universe and Christ’s Very Plausible Reconciliation Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics

    A ‘Christian interpretation’ offers a very plausible, empirically backed, reconciliation of General Relativity with Quantum Mechanics:

    First a little background:

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

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

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

    Where is the centre of the universe?:
    Excerpt: The Big Bang should not be visualized as an ordinary explosion. The universe is not expanding out from a centre into space; rather, the whole universe is expanding and it is doing so equally at all places, as far as we can tell.
    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/.....entre.html

    ,,,Thus from a 3-dimensional (3D) perspective, any particular 3D spot in the universe is to be considered just as ‘center of the universe’ as any other particular spot in the universe is to be considered ‘center of the universe’. This centrality found for any 3D place in the universe is because the universe is a 4D expanding hypersphere, analogous in 3D to the surface of an expanding balloon. All points on the surface are moving away from each other, and every point is central, if that’s where you live.,,,

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

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

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

    ,,,and also ‘serendipitously’ found this,,,

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

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

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

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

    Genesis, Quantum Physics and Reality
    Excerpt: Simply put, an experiment on Earth can be made in such a way that it determines if one photon comes along either on the right or the left side or if it comes (as a wave) along both sides of the gravitational lens (of the galaxy) at the same time. However, how could the photons have known billions of years ago that someday there would be an earth with inhabitants on it, making just this experiment? ,,, This is big trouble for the multi-universe theory and for the “hidden-variables” approach.
    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2.....r.html.ori

    ,,,Shoot, there is even a experiment that shows the preceding quantum experiments will never be overturned by another ‘future’ theory,,,

    An experimental test of all theories with predictive power beyond quantum theory – May 2011
    Excerpt: Hence, we can immediately refute any already considered or yet-to-be-proposed alternative model with more predictive power than this (quantum theory).
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.0133

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Quantum Mechanics and Relativity – The Collapse Of Physics? – video – with notes as to plausible reconciliation that is missed by materialists (Please note; the ‘infinity problem’ is focused primarily in black holes)
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6597379/

    Yet, the unification, into a ‘theory of everything’, between what is in essence the ‘infinite Theistic world of Quantum Mechanics’ and the ‘finite Materialistic world of the 4-D space-time of General Relativity’ seems to be directly related to what Jesus apparently joined together with His resurrection, i.e. related to the unification of infinite God with finite man. Dr. William Dembski in this following comment, though not directly addressing the Zero/Infinity conflict in General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, offers insight into this ‘unification’ of the infinite and the finite:

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

    ,,,Also of related interest to this ‘Zero/Infinity conflict of reconciliation’, between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, is the fact that a ‘uncollapsed’ photon, in its quantum wave state, is mathematically defined as ‘infinite’ information,,,

    Wave function – wikipedia
    Excerpt “wave functions form an abstract vector space”,,, This vector space is infinite-dimensional, because there is no finite set of functions which can be added together in various combinations to create every possible function.

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single (photon) qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

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

    THE EVENT HORIZON (Space-Time Singularity) OF THE SHROUD OF TURIN. – Isabel Piczek – Particle Physicist
    Excerpt: We have stated before that the images on the Shroud firmly indicate the total absence of Gravity. Yet they also firmly indicate the presence of the Event Horizon. These two seemingly contradict each other and they necessitate the past presence of something more powerful than Gravity that had the capacity to solve the above paradox.
    http://shroud3d.com/findings/i.....-formation

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Achieved Is The Glorious Work – music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StTFG2KJf9M

    further note: It should also be pointed out that Special and General Relativity reveal two very, very, different ‘eternalities of time’ within space-time. The ‘entropic eternality of time’ revealed for black holes is rather disturbing for those of us of a spiritual persuasion, and should ‘scare the Hell out of’ a reasonably minded person:

    On The Mystery, and Plasticity, of Space-Time:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FFKL3FeyebpNNyal1DQ64y20zlplVrjkaLXrM0P5ES4/edit?hl=en_US

  49. Quick F/N: From Plato on, the proper contrast has been nature [ = chance +/or mechanical necessity] vs art [= intelligent, choice based contingency].

    This is amenable to empirical investigation on tested characteristic signs, e.g natural regularity –> low contingency on similar start conditions. Similarly high contingency for similar start points points to chance or choice. Chance fits with stochastic distributions or models, while choice can be spotted from giving rise to purpose-relevant configs that are utterly unlikely on chance, given the available atomic resources and time in our solar system or observed cosmos.

    By contrast the natural vs supernatural contrast is metaphysically loaded and tends to censor investigations based on a prioris, not an objective investigation. Tag something as supernat and the censor says don’t go there. But, why the tag and block when there is another way?

    Much better, is to test and authenticate reliable signs, then use them to explain likely causes of things we did not directly see being caused. Indeed, that is what Lyell etc used to probe the deep unobserved past.

    The a priori materialism imposes an inconsistency on origins studies based on a worldview agenda backed up by the institutional clout of the atheist networks in key positions of influence.

    So, we see the hidden agenda and how it harms science and science edu, cf the NSTA position statement in OP.

    And if you do that you cannot properly or truthfully present science under such constraints as an objective or open minded exploration of the truth about our world based on the evidence.

    Such materialist censorship undermines the integrity of sci praxis and sci edu.

    Which is the key problem that is being ignored or denied or even suppressed.

    Later.

    GEM of TKI

  50. Jello,

    In nature there is a chemical arrangement, where in a linear fashion, cytosine is followed by thymine and that is followed by adenine. These three are chemically recognized in this order (among other such arrangements) within a dedicated system, operating under the observed formality that this arrangement will result in something that it has no material relationship with. And changing any part of that arrangement will alter the way it is recognized within the formal structure of that system.

    And for that arrangement to ultimately result in something (it has no material relationship with) it must first be separate from it, yet still constrain it. To accomplish this, the system itself must physically recognize this arrangement, and respond under that observed formality. The system must physically bridge the separation between the arrangement and the result, while allowing the arrangement to alter the result. By allowing the arrangement to alter the result, the observed formality becomes the cause of the constraint.

    For such a system to operate, there must be something that physically sets the formality, while allowing the arrangement and the result to remain separate. To accomplish this, the thing that sets the formality must physically establish a relationship between two separate things which have no physical relationship. And to accomplish that, it must be physically separate as well; for if it were a part of either the arrangement or the result, then the two would interact and the system could not function. Yet by being separate and setting the formality, the system operates.

    Because the system operates, that arrangement of cytosine-thymine-adenine acts as one discrete formal interaction in an individual sequence of hundreds or thousands, with these individual sequences collective creating and integrating all the proteins necessary for life to exist. And all of this must be in place for heredity or evolution as we know it to even exist.

    So on our way to getting one codon mapped to one amino acid, we have come across a massive influx in formalities (including linear input, arrangements of three, initiation, halting, recognition, etc) which are all entirely dependent upon one codon formally mapping to one amino acid.

    What is the source of all these formalities?

    You cannot answer that question without first taking an account of what that source must do, and how that source must do it.

  51. Further note:

    Genesis 2:7
    “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

    Falsification Of Neo-Darwinism by Quantum Entanglement/Information
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p8AQgqFqiRQwyaF8t1_CKTPQ9duN8FHU9-pV4oBDOVs/edit?hl=en_US

    Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff – video (notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/29895068

  52. 52

    I think you have cause and effect confused, here. Atheism would be a conclusion produced by an underlying worldview for me, not the worldview itself.

    Please describe to me how your atheism is “a conclusion produced by an underlying worldview”.

    The point was something quite different, just that atheism is a negation, and not a positive framework itself.

    Unless you are going to argue that your atheism doesn’t impact – in any important or necessary way – any other belief or view you have, then claiming that it is not a positive framework in and of itself (even as subset of a larger framework) is a pretty sketchy claim, IMO.

    Atheism doesn’t entail any particular ethical framework, for example. Denying existence of gods does not commit one to utilitarianism, libertarianism, syncretist, etc., and these are the positive factors that inform the ethical foundations for our views. Importantly, many of them conflict with each other and are mutually incompatible, even if they can all agree to the atheist negation that there are likely no extant gods.

    Do you disagree that atheism necessarily indicates that ethics are intrinsically subjective? If so, isn’t this an ethical view that is in fact necessitated by the atheistic premsie? If not, then please explain.

    In any case, the interpretive grid one adopts, and particularly one’s innate trust for one’s intuitions, and how immune one’s intuitions are from assault by critical review and doubt by the self or others, provides the “lens” for looking at the world in ways that lead, depending on the particulars, to a belief in God or not.

    Fair enough, but even if true, that doesn’t prevent atheism/theism from becoming a necessary or important part of one’s “interpretive grid”; to wit, an atheist might on force of commitment to atheism alone simply dismiss with prejudice all claims, arguments and/or evidence supporting the idea that god exists for no reason other than that they are now committed to an atheistic view.

    On moral relativism, might cannot make right in some general sense, BY DEFINITION. Moral relativism, if we just take a very simplistic (but workable for our purposes, here) rendering as “It’s morally good to me, because I believe it is”, NECESSARILY cannot resolve to “might makes right” as a general conclusion, because that very formulation DENIES SUCH GENERAL CONCLUSIONS.

    If you only regard the statement and ignore its necessary warrant of personal might to claim that morality **is** whatever they believe it to be. Just because you ignore what authorizes your right and don’t mention it, doesn’t mean it isn’t being necessarily implicated.

    If Jack believes, as a moral relativist, that “might does NOT make right”, and Jill believes, as a moral relativist that “might DOES make right”, how would you resolve those, as one who putatively really has “thought it out” on moral relativist terms.

    Because if they are both operating under moral relativism, neither of them are referring to any objective standard or principle; they can only be ultimately referring to their own capacity (might) to simply choose what morality means. Both claims (under subjectivism) refer to the individual’s might (individual subjective capacity) to simply assert and believe what is and is not right for them.

    Which one prevails, on moral relativism? It’s a trick question, but that’s the point — you’ve not thought this through even superficially!

    I’ve thought it out quite extensively, and still think about it, because I consider morality a very important, day to day, minute-by-minute subject. Note how because you can phrase statements in terms of apparently contradicting conclusions, you think you have reached a logic conclusion without even considering the premise from which those statements are drawn.

    If I, as a moral relativist, say “Morality is not based on might makes right”, then upon what not “might makes right” principle am I founding that assertion? What gives me the right to say what is moral, and what is not, even in terms of broad generalities?

    Under moral relativism, there is nothing to refer to when one claims what moral system they employ (utilitarianism, categorical imperative, etc.) other than, ultimately, personal preference – the subjective, personal capacity to assert it … otherwise known as might.

    If a thousand moral relativists have one thousand different subjective moral convictions, and as a matter of realpolitik some individuals or other resort to violence and other methods of projecting power over the others, that might doesn’t make right on moral relativism.

    I think you’re thinking of “might” in a different sense that I’m using it, but under moral relativism, the ability of that one person to claim that brute, physical might = right and impose it does in fact make that act moral for him.

    Since morality is taken by the one thousand subjectivists to be subjective, they have no warrant for asserting that the lone violent man’s morality is “wrong” (unless the refer to consensus, but then that’s just another subjectively-chosen means for determining “what is moral”). He is adhering to his subjective standard; they are adhering to theirs. Everyone is being subjectively moral. They can subjectively call his behavior wrong according to their subjective view, but from the warrant that authorizes them to claim their own subjective view as valid (their individual capacity to simply assert it), his view is warranted in the exact same way – because he asserts it. The one thousand assert their moral view from the same warrant that he asserts his, even if what they assert are two entirely different things.

    It’s just might, and moral relativism, for whatever failings we might identify in it, does not and cannot be implicated as countenancing that in a general way, because moral relativism by definition cannot issue such general assertions.

    I didn’t say moral relativism issued such a conclusion, but rather necessarily draws it’s warrant from might makes right.

    On moral relativism, their grounds for objecting to the moral views of others is their subjective convictions about moral values. This is not might that underwrites their authority, but just their mental autonomy, their own subjectivity.

    Which is what I mean by “might” – their own personal say so without reference to any objective standard. They have the power to simply choose whatever standard they wish; that power to choose (will to power) is might, and it authorizes their choice.

    On the other hand, if one considers morality to refer to a universal, objective, necessary purpose, then morality isn’t generated by one’s personal might.

    When you say that their grounds for objecting to the morals or behavior is their own subjective view you are making a categorical error. They might subjectively disagree (as the product of their subjective views), but the grounds that authorize them to assert that morality is actually determined by subjective views – validates the morality of those they are disagreeing with, and it ultimately validates every individually held moral view as being as legitimate as any other.

    As such, it is not and cannot be binding or deontologically normative on others. It’s the antithesis of “might makes right”. It’s “subjectivity eviscerates claims to moral authority through might”.

    Here, you are the one mistaking conclusion for premise. The question is not “what kinds of morality can subjectivity produce”, but rather “what premise or principle authorizes one to subjectively determine what is moral?” What authorizes one to claim their own personal subjective morality is might (will power, personal capacity to do so without arbitration by any superceding, objective commodity), even if – from that subjective perspective – the assert that might does not make right.

    Similarly, if god arbitrarily commands what is moral or not, and the command alone makes the act moral – as in the case of Craig’s defense of god’s command to kill off the Canaanites – that morality is no better than subjectivist morality, because we can never know if an act is moral or not. It might be commanded by god. So, what morality refers to- the good, final cause, objective human purpose – must be a necessary commodity that even god cannot arbitrarily change.

    It’s a self-serving challenge, and says: Atheists, please now justify your moral frameworks in terms of moral values that stem from a God, a moral lawgiver, a moral dogma.

    No, it’s a challenge to justify your moral framework any way you wish. If you agree that, under general moral relativism (not any specific, individual view), gassing the Jews is as intrinsic a moral act as saving them, then we have nothing to debate. For the moral relativist, IMO, morality is really nothing but rhetoric – a means of justifying one’s behavior to oneself (and by no fundamental standard or principle), and manipulating others to do what they would rather others do.

    The very core of what you understand to be “grounds” for moral law or deontology is bogus, unwarranted.

    I’d like to see you make this case. What rules do you think are my grounds for moral law? Be careful about what you assume.

    If you point to evolved human nature as an objective set of facts (and man’s physiology and evolved psychology are facts on the ground that are objective — they are what they are regardless of the will or mind of anyone here or anywhere),

    Perhaps, but evaluating, categorizing, and interpreting them cannot be done outside of mind – including one’s ideological assumptions and interpretive heuristic.

    that ground human intuitions about fairness, justice, empathy, dignity, etc., Craig isn’t interested.

    You’re not debating Craig.

    I’m quite happy to be challenged to examine and defend my views, but I’m not such a chump to fall for “Please ground your morals as an atheist in my God-centric self-serving notions of moral grounding”. It is Christians’ inability or unwillingness to think, even provisionally, outside of this self-serving box that stunts the discussion, and reduces it to just trolling for chumps by Christian apologists.

    I’m not a Christian or follower (even loosely) of any organized religion or spiritual doctrine. All of the views I argue are either supportable by logic and/or evidence, or I don’t argue them.

  53. 53

    Eigenstate,

    I truly appreciate your extensive, patient and civil responses. You are proving to be quite a good read!

    Just for now, as I don’t have adequate time right now to properly read the above and respond, but I wanted to advise on something I saw skimming over:

    So you do have warrant and should be concerned about that, as a Christian.

    Careful with those assumptions! I’m not a member or follower of any religious or spiritual doctrine – at least none that I’m aware of.

    Later.

  54. I’m coming to this discussion rather late, but I would like to say to those who believe that atheism, materialism, naturalism, or whatever name you wish to put to it, is rational and explains everything so why introduce the unnecessary concept of a deity, that for me what first unhooked me from atheistic materialism was the realization that materialism is completely unable to explain the most basic fact of human existence, the fact from which ALL else follows, and that is the fact of experience, or consciousness. No materialist has ever successfully advanced a theory that explains how the experience of anything (color, sound, thought, emotion, physical pain and pleasure, etc.) can arise from inanimate, unfeeling, non-experiencing matter, no matter how complexly organized.

    Put another way, how do you program a computer to FEEL fear, or love, or physical pain? or to actually experience a sound? It can’t be done. There isn’t the remotest beginning of a theory to explain experience.

    Given that materialism cannot explain the most basic fact of human existence, the claim that it explains everything and thus there is no need of any other concept falls flat on its face.

    To say that well, science just hasn’t gotten that far yet, but just be patient and it will is nothing more nor less than an article of faith, a belief that somehow it can be explained within the materialistic paradigm, and so the claim that materialism can explain everything is seen to be not the result of rational thought, but rather a statement of blind faith.

  55. BA77,

    Just a note in case you should at some point wonder if I’m reading or responding to your posts that are in putatively in reply to mine. I responded to your unintelligible but short and original one just back a ways. I will continue to reply in cases where it even vague appears you are trying to engage with some “custom thinking”. But the cut-and-paste spam jobs I will just ignore. Clearly the management here doesn’t mind that kind of spew, and that’s just fine, and your welcome to spamify my comments all you like. I will just keep scrolling by, as it appears most everyone else does.

  56. OK, noted, and thank you for setting me straight.

  57. To bornagain77 & Kairosfocus, I have to agree with eigenstate, your posts are incredibly long and tortuous. I suspect few people ever read them. And the endless links to creationist sites.

    Could you make an effort to be just a little more succinct ?

  58. GB:

    I think you are missing entire fields of relevant study:

    I follow the scientific literature fairly closely and I don’t recall any discoveries in the biological sciences that provide positive evidence for ID to the exclusion of evolutionary mechanisms. Did you have some specific scientific studies in mind?

    I have highlighted the key conceptual gap.

    Robust designs are capable of adaptation to new requirements and situations, indeed the current state of a system usually reflects such adaptations. Just think about how software evolves BY DESIGN.

    With self-replicating and/or reproducing systems, adaptation will be a reasonable expectation, within limits. That is the valid part of Darwin’s theory, adaptation of a body plan within limits, based on built-in mechanisms.

    The real problems with the evolutionary materialist paradigm — and that is what is the hidden, controlling premise in your discussion — is in the origin of viable body plans. And on that the observational evidence is not even ambiguous: there is no question but that Gould et al are right; the fossil record of life in the deep past is one of sudden appearance, stasis and disappearance or continuation into the current world.

    Despite many headlines to the contrary, genuine transitions are as scarce as hen’s teeth, and that in a context where it should dominate the record. The Cambrian fossil life revolution is only the most obvious case.

    But, inject the materialist controlling a priori and poof, all of that becomes meaningless. For, on evolutionary materialism imposed by methodological naturalism that demands only “naturalistic” explanations, the answer MUST be blind chance plus mechanical necessity working through chance variations and natural selection, in various ways.

    And to those caught up in the Darwinian cave shadow show system, of course there will be no evidence incompatible with the system. THERE IS NO POSSIBLE EVIDENCE INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE SYSTEM, IT MUST BE SO BY FORCE OF CONTROLLING MATERIALIST A PRIORI.

    That is, the answer is that a massive question is being begged and question-begging has been institutionalised in origins studies.

    How do we break this circle?

    First, by identifying that it is a circle.

    And, exposing that no acceptable evidence will be allowed to break out of the circle, so — passing over the suppressed evidence and issues — of course there is “no evidence” that it is wrong. It is ever so with systems based on triumphant, institutionalised question begging. (Ever had a serious conversation with a Marxist or a Freudian in the heyday of those systems? Darwin is the last of those essentially Victorian era worldview systems imposed in the name of science.)

    Next, examine the dynamics and empirical evidence on the crucial issue a bit more closely: the empirically warranted origin of functionally specific, complex digital information, and the related analysis of the way digital data driven self-replication works. In short, there has been a paradigm bridge to another domain of science, once the nature of DNA was identified: complex, symbolic digital code in the heart of the living cell.

    Once we have that bridge, the well-established findings of a different domain of science are applicable, and the circles of thought that dominate Darwinist evolutionary science are suddenly irrelevant. For, if Darwinism is exposed as being informationally utterly implausible or absurd, it is implausible and absurd under the weight of facts and analysis in a domain the Darwinists do not and cannot control.

    And, wagon-circling notwithstanding, that is exactly what has happened.

    Complex, algorithmically functional, symbolic digital information has just one known and plausible source: design.

    The reason for that is quite simple: unless you have high and controllable contingency, you cannot express, store or use digital, symbolic information, but at the same time, the number of possibilities grows exponentially with complexity. For instance, for a binary digital — two state per element — system of n bits, the number of possibilities for configs is 2^n.

    For just 500 bits, we have 3.27*10^150 possibilities, where the 10^57 atoms of our solar system, in 10^17 s [ord of mag for the age on the usual timeline] would have just 10^102 Planck time quantum states, where it takes 10^30 such states for the fastest chemical interactions. The comparison is that the resources of the solar system allow a blind search of that space equivalent to pulling one straw at random from a cubical hay bale 3 1/2 light days across. An entire solar system could lurk in that hay bale, but the overwhelmingly likely outcome is that you will pull straw.

    The only empirically warranted means to find needles in such a haystack is intelligence, not chance. And, in the context of biology, until you reach shores of an island of function, you cannot properly argue to incremental development in small steps.

    That points to origin of live as the pivotal issue. Take a warm little prebiotic pond or the like scenario, allow only blind, plausible chemical and physical processes, and explain to us, how one gets TO first life.

    ANS: Deafening silence. (Then, shushing of the OOL researchers who have reached mutual ruin in their investigations on genes first and metabolism first tracks. We have irreducibly complex entities that require abundant information and integrated processes, resting on similarly deeply complex components that in our observation come from prior living systems. Chicken-egg deadlock. Only viable solution: complex, symbolic function based systems have one known source: design. And, distractors and denials notwithstanding, Venter et al have shown proof of concept that such design is possible.)

    WAGON-CIRCLING: Biological evolution starts from already existing life, so you cannot bring this to bear!

    PROBLEM: The Darwinian tree of life therefore has no root. No roots, no trunk, no branches and no fruit! You have to account for 100,000 – 1 mn bits of functional biological info, and you are unable to even sample a reasonable sample of the config space. Just 1,000 bits is enough to swamp the 10^80 or so atoms of the observed cosmos, and we are at 100 times that number of bits, with the config space doubling with every additional bit. Just 100,000 bits is a space of 9.99 *10^30,102 possibilities. And to posit a quasi-infinite multiverse (unobserved) is to put up a philosophical speculation [perhaps dressed up in a lab coat], which means other serious philosophical possibilities have a right to sit to the table of comparative difficulties, on pain of being exposed in censorship. Which is exactly the problem exposed in the original post.

    FIRST COMPOUNDING PROBLEM: Biological systems are based on self-replicating cells. This in turn is based on symbolically coded information, so also on language and algorithms. The only empirically known, credible source of such is design.

    SECOND COMPOUNDING PROBLEM: To get to the dozens of complex body plans based on integrated sets of specialised cells, tissues, organs and systems, the information hurdle jumps up to 10 mn – 100 mn bits. At the low end, that is 9.05 * 3,010,299 possibilities, and your scope of search narrowed down to the solar system, at most.

    _____________

    In short, the reason you have not seen the relevant evidence is because you are not looking in the right place.

    GEM of TKI

  59. Eigenstate & WJM:

    WJM has raised several significant points that you ESt will need to address carefully.

    GEM of TKI

  60. I reply to ESt below [and will come back up and mark: 15 below], as it is hard to track developments with the sub-threading effect.

  61. Eigenstate:

    I will note on points, step by step in reply to your 3.1 above:

    1: your post commits yourself to the very thing you deny here. The “it” in “If it is to be serious as a worldview” is “atheism” in your post.

    Now, atheism-as-proposition [the denial of the existence of God], is the premise for the sort of active disbelief in God that underlies the passive form being rhetorically used [absence of belief in God] and is invariably embedded in worldviews that make that denial seem plausible. In our time the relevant worldview is usually “scientific” evolutionary materialism.

    That is the context for my remarks (starting with the original post), so let’s roll the tape from my comment you are replying to:

    I will note on points:

    a: I have never said that the keystone proposition at the heart of Atheism as such — denial of the reality of God — is a worldview, but that it is an integral part of a worldview, in our day most often “scientific” atheism is part of evolutionary materialism dressed up in a lab coat. Which is what I specifically addressed, as it is the relevant form.

    b: So, the attempt to suggest otherwise was an improper resort to strawman caricature . . .

    In the original post, this is the context of point 9, which is the point you have twisted into pretzels in your rebuttal attempts. Let’s start from 8:

    8 –> But, the very definition of atheism as “absence of belief in god or gods” that is now so commonly being pushed as the “real” definition, has deeper problems. For, it is usually offered as an argument that the atheist is simply taking a default view: YOU must prove your theism, I hold no position.

    9 –> This is fallacious and misleading, indeed, a fatal worldview error. Why is that so?

    a: It improperly shifts — and indeed ducks — the burden of warrant on comparative difficulties that any serious worldview must shoulder. If it is to be serious as a worldview.

    b: An easy way to see this, is to notice how the very same atheists usually want to dress up their atheism in a lab coat

    c: For instance, as Lewontin tried to argue in his 1997 NYRB article, the a priori materialistic scientific elites want the general public to look up to them as the fountain of knowledge and wisdom, and to come to believe that science is “the only begetter of truth.”

    d: But, this is NOT a scientific claim, it is a claim about the grounds that warrant knowledge, indeed an assertion of monopoly power over knowledge. Such is therefore properly a philosophical knowledge claim, i.e an epistemological claim.

    e: Lewontin is trivially self-refuting.

    f: But the claim is also illustrative of how claims at worldview level are inevitably linked to one another.

    g: And, the denial or rejection of belief in God is plainly not an isolated claim, it sits in the centre of a cluster of evolutionary materialistic beliefs.

    That is, by simply reading in context you should have seen that the worldview in question, plainly, is “scientific” evolutionary materialism, which implies/assumes — it is all circular — atheism- as- proposition.

    In short, you have severely misread what was said, and in any case should have taken on board synecdoche whereby a wider entity can be referred to by a key part, e.g. “all hands on deck” means “all sailors on deck.”

    Your triumphant “you busted yourself on this one” deflates, fzzzt.

    And in losing its air, it shows a key problem with ever so many objectors of atheistical stripe: reading isolated points out of textual and ideas context, to make talking-point style objections, instead of first seeking to understand the worldview framework being addressed.

    That’s why I spent so much effort on this, it is a slice of the cake that has in it all the ingredients of how “scientific” atheism advocates go wrong ever so often.

    2: Atheism cannot be a worldview. It’s not a matter of definition. It doesn’t qualify conceptually, because it does not provide any overarching lens through which the extramental world is interpreted. Worldviews can support atheism, and many do, but you are either failing to grasp the basic concepts behind “worldview”, or simply continuing your pattern of incorrigibility, here.

    Error carried forward.

    I never ever said that atheism as proposition was a worldview, but if you have projected that misreading, all else follows, down to the gratuitous (though relatively subtle) ad hominem.

    Please go back up and see that I spoke in the original post and subsequently of atheism as proposition as a keystone proposition of a worldview, not as a worldview in itself. And, that is what it is, a key step in a circle of evolutionary materialistic argument, at the core of a worldview, naturalism in one form or another.

    Then, look in the mirror and ask yourself about just who is being incorrigible.

    3: here is the substance of what I mean by posting disingenuously. You put out a rambling, random walk of a large slew of issues — this is your version of the “Gish Gallop” — and then you find validation when point #15 of the hundred and more problems you introduce is not taken up. If you spam like that, or like BA77 does, you are certain to find lots of “triumph” in the fact anyone with the skills to point out your errors is likely to have enough sense NOT to indulge your spam techniques on an “all points” basis.

    The above suffices to show that there is a problem but it is not my posting “disingenuously.” It is that you have projected a pseudo-problem on me a priori, the “Gish gallop” — which is yet another form of the Barbara Forrest/NCSE “creationism in a cheap tuxedo” smear — and so misread what I have had to say.

    Worse, the false accusation “Gish gallop” is itself a horrible atmosphere poisoning, name-calling ad hominem, as we can see from Rational Wiki:

    The Gish Gallop is an informal name for a debating technique that involves drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood that has been raised. Usually this results in many involuntary twitches in frustration as the opponent struggles just to decide where to start. It is named after creationism activist and professional debater Duane Gish.

    You sir have called me a liar by direct implication — and that without good reason, something I take very, very, very seriously indeed. (I won’t even bother to address whether Dr Gish properly merits this dismissal, let’s just say I doubt very much that he is a liar. He may be in error on points, but I have no reason to believe he is a liar.)

    This is subtly uncivil, and should be taken back, especially since right from the outset of your attempted rebuttal I have show where there is an error of reasoning, and it is not mine.

    Worse, we do see that by labelling me as disingenuous in the original post, you have indeed meant that I am a willful deceiver.

    This is false accusation, especially in context where it is plain that it is you who are not handling easily accessible evidence responsibly.

    And, a sober examination of the original post will immediately reveal that it is not a “random walk” and that as a worldviews level question it must inevitably address a wide context of issues, which it in fact condenses relative to what a full-orbed phil essay would have to take on. But in so doing, this is what was done structurally:

    a: key issue stated at outset, in headline: ““atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist” — a fatal worldview error of modern evolutionary materialist atheism”

    b: key challenge stated in opening sentence: a priori, Lewontinian materialism as a dominant feature of key institutions in one of the most influential movements in our civilisation, science.

    c: compounding problem of atheistical conceit and contempt highlighted: we are the brights, you are “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.”

    d: keystone cite from Lewontin given, with link to deal with the quote mining dismissive talking point

    e: keystone rebuttal given, from Johnson, revealing the a priorism and what it does.

    f: challenge reframed, to create a better thinking atmosphere so that we may look at the design issue — the theme of this blog — on a more objective scientific basis

    g: taken up in steps of thought, starting with the battle of definitions over atheism (And note how Smart’s definition in the well respected Stanford enc of phil is being studiously ducked and distracted from onlookers)

    h: Lewontin’s supernaturalism means a chaotic world talking point is corrected, with a root reference to correcting Hume’s underlying epistemological error. (It seems a key problem here is that objectors are not familiar with the underlying issues and history of ideas)

    i: it is shown that a supernatural worldview is consistent with the possibility of and respect for science and by the example of Newton, it is shown to have actually contributed significantly to the rise of modern science.

    j: the underlying problem behind Hume that his “quality of evidence” and “uniform experience” arguments lead to an undermining of the reliability of the human mind, is outlined. This is also applied to the modern skeptic, who has to deal with the implications of the dismissal of the experience of God through transforming encounter, with millions of cases in point including some key figures in our history, including in science.

    k: the absence of belief in God concept is revisited, and then taken up on points, starting as noted and as seen at 1 and 2 just above to have been radically misread.

    l: note the emphasis is that atheism-as-proposition is embedded in a wider worldview as a key step in a circle of thought, circle being in the very bad sense of that.

    m: The key question-begging step is exposed by a cite from the US’ NSTA, where we can see how methodological naturalism, so called reduces to Lewontinian a priori materialism.

    n: the implication of ideologising science in a materialistic circle of thought, enforced by censorship, is highlighted and deplored.

    o: specific cases relevant to the significance and scientific validity of the design approach, with links for details, are laid out.

    p: a particular application is made to the explaining of the origin of mind and the credibility of morality.

    q: to tie these together, the reference is made to Plato in the Laws Bk X, showing that materialism, indeed evolutionary materialism, was tried and found severely wanting 2,000 years ago.

    So, on fair comment it seems the strawman caricaturing, distortion and dismissal have been on the other foot all along, ESt.

    4: It’s not philosophical materialism, it’s methodological materialism. Theists and atheists on a philosophical level engage in methodological naturalism as the predicate for the practice of science, every day. Methodological naturalism is a requirement for scientific knowledge to make any headway at all, epistemically. So the scientist who is a Christian engages methodological naturalism just as fully as the metaphysical materialist, and in so doing, scientific epistemology coheres, and natural knowledge can be developed.

    Since it was actually shown in the OP that so-called methodological naturalism reduces to metaphysical naturalism by implication [notice, onlookers, how this was never directly addressed, just brushed aside by red herrings led away to strawmen soaked in ad hominems and set alight by subtle insinuations], this is simply wrong.

    What is correct is that ever since Plato and beyond, it is known that some things begin to exist and/or may cease form existing. Thus,t hey are subjects of cause and causal explanation. Such causes reliably trace to chance and or mechanical necessity driven by physical forces and derivations of that, or choice.

    In investigating natural regularities, we observe reliable outcomes under similar starting points, e.g. a dropped heavy object reliably tends to fall under a force of 9.8 N/kg near earth’s surface. This can be reduced to an empirical law and embedded in wider theories of why such forces come to be, basically now the warping of the space-time fabric by a massive body.

    In other cases, we see a very different outcome: high contingency under apparently similar starting points. A dropped fair die falls then tumbles and settles to a value that fits a chance distribution. But also such a die can be set to a reading by choice, manually or by being manipulated in ways that are not easily apparent — loading. Similarly, ESt, you and I confronted with a comment box have put in very different clusters of glyphs that express complex, symbol based messages in English.

    These too call out for causal explanation and for sound investigation of empirical signs that point to causal factors.

    The design theory approach (as just now linked) is to not get into worldviews censorship but to empirically and analytically investigate the difference between natural [chance and necessity] and artificial causes. Then, once reliable signs of chance and choice have been found, we can trust these to tell us about the causal stories of objects or phenomena we did not see being caused. Was that fire accident or arson? Was the crash accident, or pilot error? is this item a natural stone or an artifact? Is this digital algorithmically functional code in DNA credibly chance + necessity or design? Why?

    In origins studies, what is going on however, is that there is a priori imposed materialism, and this is blocking the willingness to consider the empirically known, reliable cause of digitally coded, algorithmically functional complex information.

    And, contrary to your suggestion, that IS a priori imposition of philosophical materialism on the work of science, crippling it from being able to seriously and soberly investigate towards the evidence led pursuit of the truth about our world based on observations, experiments, logical and mathematical analysis, and objective, uncensored discussion.

    ________________

    That’s enough to show what is really going on above.

    ESt, you have some serious rethinking to do, and some fences to mend.

    Good day, sir.

    GEM of TKI

  62. BD: Indeed the challenge of explaining mind (including consciousness with reasoning and knowing as experiences and as facts) is one of the key gaps in materialism that points to its fundamental flaws. It leads on to the problem that the evolutionary materialistic account of human origins runs into inescapable self-referential absurdity — thus it self-refutes [cf Haldane's remark in the OP] — once it touches on mind. KF

  63. Woodford:

    Pardon, but I suspect the problem is deeper than style [which can always be improved], there is a worldview challenge. To see so, look at how in 3.1 above, ESt was unable to see the step by step logic I just explained in 15, in the original post. He and others need to ask why is it that something that follows a step by step logical process [as I pointed out in 15] seemed to them to be a random mishmash.

    The answer is that they were locking out a worldview level analysis that happens to cut across their own view, where they seem to think their own view is the only acceptable, reasonable, intelligent one.

    Certainly that explains Dawkins’ choice of “brights” for his circle, and his dismissal of those who differ as “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.” (Which BTW, is raised in the OP. Should you not take pause to think about why it is you are so sharply dismissing those who happen to disagree with you, regardless of qualifications and achievements? Is that not a sign that something is very wrong with how you are thinking, Mr Dawkins et al? has it not registered that there is a reason why the knowledgeable have so uniformly panned an exercise in traipsing beyond competence like The God Delusion? Did you not learn from your exchanges with Mr Lennox, e.g. here?)

    Until one has learned to think in terms of worldviews, one will be challenged to see the issue of tracing beliefs, ideas, assumptions and assertions, underlying first plausibles, then articulating arguments and narratives and implications for life and culture, including science.

    This by the way is one of the key lessons in Plato’s parable of the cave. (Please watch the video presentation of the parable from his The Republic.)

    My first steps presentation is here [please start with this], my application to tracing to roots of worldviews is here on, my summary of the toolkit is here on, and my articulation into developing a worldview is here. Then, here on, I develop this in the context of building a theistic worldview. {I will upload them use the editor to fill in as this probably goes beyond the limits, pardon.)

    One of the big problems with the debates over design is that they exist in the context of institutionalised evolutionary materialism, a largely unexamined but dominant worldview, which is what is the root of the Lewontinian a priori materialism being addressed in the OP. So, unless the sort of lift the lid and look inside the worldview issues addressed in the OP, the whole debate will go no farther than a matter of power politics and might makes right manipulation and intimidation based on divide, polarise and rule tactics.

    Which is both unacceptable and exactly what is happening on the ground.

    So, let us work through the issues.

    GEM of TKI

  64. GinoB:

    I follow the scientific literature fairly closely and I don’t recall any discoveries in the biological sciences that provide positive evidence for ID to the exclusion of evolutionary mechanisms.

    Yet you still cannot produce any evidence to support your position.

    So either you are lying and you don’t follow the scientific literature fairly closely or your position doesn’t have anything.

    Also I see you are still an equivocating fool as ID is not anti-evolution and your “evolutionary mechansisms” could very well be design mechanisms.

  65. eigenstate: “The eschewing of the supernatural is a methodologicalnecessity, not a philosophical a priori. If you abandon that restriction, even just a little bit as a methodological matter, practical scientific epistemology gets annihilated, and science gets busted down to being theology.”

    I have to disagree with you here. Methodological naturalism merely states that you can only investigate what you can observe. It doesn’t rule out unobservable dieties. If you can find something observable to investigate, you can even investigate them.

    An example would be the various prayer studies that attempt to test the effectiveness of prayer. Material patients are divided into groups, material prayer teams emit material prayers and the results are measured on the material patients.

    It’s all material, all methodological naturalism and it’s investigating the supernatural.

    The dismal results show why it’s best to follow Lewontin and just reject the supernatural and get on with investigating the world.

    I will now pause to allow Bornagain77 to post a hundred or so examples of prayer studies whose results weren’t very good, but whose investigators cherry picked the results for any isolated factor that randomly happened to improve a little and touted it as the favorable results of the study, sometimes ignoring the fact that the patient actually died. ‘The patient’s bunion shrank by 32.5% and was still improving when his heart failed! We also permanently cured the patient’s halitosis.’

  66. Joseph

    So either you are lying and you don’t follow the scientific literature fairly closely or your position doesn’t have anything.

    Also I see you are still an equivocating fool as ID is not anti-evolution and your “evolutionary mechansisms” could very well be design mechanisms

    News, do these comments by Joseph represent what you consider to be acceptable, polite and civil discussion at UD?

    UD: No, they are not. Joseph, tone it down or you will wind up in the mod box.

    KF: GB, did you take a moment to see 17.2 above? (NB: I note your comment is timestamped before I noticed and corrected.) Now, it looks like UD’s Mod has given a warning also, which should tell you a bit of the why of your own current status, after you defied repeated counsels and warnings.

  67. Have you heard of the discovery of DNA?

    Are you familiar with the phrase “a frozen accident”?

  68. 68

    Eigenstate,
    I hope you’ll forgive me breaking the debate up into smaller sections, but there’s so much here to go over.
    I asked:

    Why should we expect humans to be able to deliberately discern true (at least provisionally) statements by observing phenomena?

    You answered:

    It’s an intuiton, the idea that reality is reflected to some intelligible degree by observable phenomena. That makes it a research program, one that doesn’t to justify itself metaphyscally, but rather just urges getting on with the research project and evaluating the results. If the intuition is correct, then we should be able to build performative models to some degree. If the intuition is incorrect, we shan’t expect performative models to emerge or intelligible processes to be identified via empirical heuristics.

    That doesn’t answer my question. It doesn’t really even address my question – which may be my fault for not expressing the question better or more formally. I’m inquiring as to what worldview premise (of yours) warrants (grounds, supports) the idea that humans are even remotely, reliably capable of deliberately discerning true statements about phenomena?

    Such an idea might begin as an intuition as, say, my idea that humans (some, most or all) can discern self-evidently true moral statements, but I must provide the worldview premise that would indicate, support, or imply that such is even possible.

    IOW, I can certainly just baldly assume (based on intuition) that humans can deliberately discern true statements, but if my worldview holds as true premises that directly and necessarily contradict that idea (which I would argue, and KF argues, atheistic/materialist worldviews do), then in order to maintain a rationally consistent belief system, you’d have to change either your assumption that humans can reliably & deliberately discern true statements about phenomena, or you’d have to change something about your fundamental worldview.

  69. Joseph: Please moderate tone. GEM of TKI

  70. F/N:I have just now slightly adjusted points 8 and 9 in the original post above, in the hope that it will make it clear that I am speaking about the need for any worldview to warrant itself, so no responsible person should take up a view on a “default” basis. GEM of TKI

  71. WJM:

    An excellent question, and one well worth pondering:

    I’m inquiring as to what worldview premise (of yours) warrants (grounds, supports) the idea that humans are even remotely, reliably capable of deliberately discerning true statements about phenomena?

    This is an important challenge for ANY worldview, the core question of epistemology. And, it is by no means easy to answer. (Onlookers may want to try a stab here as a starter.)

    But then, if questions like that were not hard, they would — almost by definition! — not be philosophical questions.

    GEM of TKI

  72. Onlookers: on Lewontin, kindly cf here, i.e. do believe what you see for yourself. I think the real problem with his infamous article for those who so stridently object to my reading as annotated, is that it so plainly lets the materialism cat out of the bag labelled “science.” KF

  73. DM: Kindly read the OP, and let us know the worldview significance of say the NSTA remarks. KF

  74. 74

    Eigenstate:

    Continuing with the examination of your response:

    I asked:

    (2) What is the term “natural” (methodological naturalism) offered in relationship to, and what is the substantive meaning of the alternative that requires this qualifying term as part of the description of scientific inquiry?

    You responded:

    “Natural” opposes “supernatural”, where “natural” points at phonomena which are observable (at least in principle).

    Since we cannot observe “gravity” in and of itself, but rather use the term to refer to a distinct pattern of effects that can be observed and measured (regardless of what “gravity” actually is, if anything, we know what effects it produces), I assume that you do not require the proposed commodity in iteself to be observable, but that only the proposed effects be subject to observation and predictive models. Is that a fair assessment?

    (Similarly, we cannot observe whatever entropy is – what is causing entropic effects, if anything is “causing” them – but use the term to refer to a class of effects. Time, also – we don’t know what it “is”, but its effects are observable.)

    So, if we proposed that a class of effects – identifiable by pattern, predictable in some sense – was the product of an unobservable “force” (like entropy or gravity), would the fact that the effects of the posited force were observable and testable deliver our theory from being about the “supernatural”?

    Also, a follow-up question: is what is artificial subsumed by the term “natural” in “methodological naturalism”? IOW, can science properly investigate the designed product, habits, and patterns of intelligent agencies like humans?

  75. F.N: Just taking basic physics, Hooke’s Law on elasticity is often studied using contrived objects known as springs. KF

  76. KF wrote, “They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality]]”.

    If evolutionary materialism is built on a shaky foundation of moral relativism, then it would necessarily lead to amorality, for there is no objective ‘good’ or ‘bad’ standard with which to compare behaviors.

    But, KF, how would you explain or contrast the belief that altruism evolved in humans, given what you’ve posted above? What’s your take on that?

    For further reference: http://www.livescience.com/451.....ruism.html

  77. Barb:

    Slightly off topic, but let’s highlight a few gaps in the reasoning relevant to the Lewontinian a priori evolutionary materialism that is at the heart of the problem.

    The link presents an evolutionary psychology just so story; this one based on an inferred ancestral relationship between humans and chimps (have they explained the FSCI required to get to language? we are physically equipped for this, chimps are not and the quantum of info to do that is obviously well beyond 1,000 bits).

    Notice, too, the raft of assumptions that are simply implied or asserted as though they are not even open to question, and of course our very favourite catch-phrase “shed light” multiplied by the injected word altruism without a definition that addresses the IS-OUGHT gap:

    Chimpanzees have now shown they can help strangers at personal cost without apparent expectation of personal gain . . . . These new findings could shed light on the evolution of such altruism, researchers said.

    Scientists [--> duly decked out in the holy lab coat] think altruism evolved to help either kin or those willing and able of returning the favor—to help either one’s genetic heritage or oneself. [--> An is not a grounding of ought, and what happens when your genetic survival and propagation is better served by "selfish" behaviour?] Humans, on the other hand, occasionally help strangers without apparent benefit for themselves, sometimes at great cost.

    Ask yourself, what actual observed facts are in play, and what actual empirically tested predictions are in play from the theories, also whether the theories make further testable predictions or are ad hoc after the fact and question-begging.

    Then, ask yourself whether they have sought to provide a just so story for presumed survival enhancing behaviour, or whether they have provided an IS in the foundation of the worldview that can properly ground OUGHT.

    The answer to this one is obvious, this is all a red herring.

    We see nowhere an IS that grounds OUGHT.

    So, it is genetic programming, plus might and manipulation make “right.”

    And all within the a priori evolutionary materialistic circle.

    Oops, no, no, no, it’s just that science may only explain naturalistically! And that lands you right back in a priori evolutionary materialism, and in question-begging survival of the fittest amorality.

    GEM of TKI

  78. Wm J Murray:

    Quoting “eigenstate”:

    It’s not philosophical materialism, it’s methodological materialism. Theists and atheists on a philosophical level engage in methodological naturalism as the predicate for the practice of science, every day. Methodological naturalism is a requirement for scientific knowledge to make any headway at all, epistemically. So the scientist who is a Christian engages methodological naturalism just as fully as the metaphysical materialist, and in so doing, scientific epistemology coheres, and natural knowledge can be developed.

    First, sorry for barging in on the conversation; but, if I don’t comment now, when will I?

    Next, I think the highlighted portions above point out the relevant issue at hand. From the OP, here are what I consider the critical moves in Lewontin’s argument, moves that need clarification before being accepted as valid statements.

    Here they are:

    . . . the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth. . .

    and,

    . . . that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality . . .

    Thus, in the first place, is this statement true:

    “Science as the only begetter of truth. . .”

    Here is how I think the phrase should read: “Science as the only begetter of scientific truth.” This delimits the range of phenomena over which “science” has provenance.

    The required delimiting seems to be found in the second quote:
    “the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality . . .”, as well as in what you, eigenstate, are quoted above as saying: “Methodological naturalism is a requirement for scientific knowledge.”

    The point of contention between theists and materialists seems to be over the degree to which scientific knowledge is limited. To the materialist, there is ONLY scientific knowledge. Only science can lead to the truth, just as Lewontin states. To the theist, the world is infused with more than mere material forces. Here, immediately, we encounter the maelstrom over the existence, or non-existence, of the “mind”, and of “free will”.

    If this conversation is to prove fruitful—as part of a journey of discovery and enlightenment—then I think these basic issues need to be resolved. Therefore, eigenstate, do you admit the Mind and Free Will as non-material entities? Would you accept this limited provenance for science?

  79. @William J Murray

    That doesn’t answer my question. It doesn’t really even address my question – which may be my fault for not expressing the question better or more formally. I’m inquiring as to what worldview premise (of yours) warrants (grounds, supports) the idea that humans are even remotely, reliably capable of deliberately discerning true statements about phenomena?

    First, no warrant is neeeded for the premise. It’s a provisional premise adopted to bootstrap research project. You are confusing a rational syllogism, I think, with a hypothesis adopted as the input for a test or an investigative enterprise that will bear it out.

    Unless one believes a human can supply an infinite regress of warrants (and I’d love to hear you explain the practicalities of that, if so!), you have to start somewhere. Science does not depend on the inscrutable soundness (or no) of its metaphsyical premise. It needs, and can’t even use any warrant. Empirical testing makes any warrant redundant, irrelevant. The real world is the judge, and thus any lack of warrant doesn’t matter, and any initial warrant doesn’t matter, either. This is the innovation that embarrasses “rational intuition” and other forms of theology and philosophy that are not predicated on empirical testing and corrective feedback loops from our real-world experience.

    That’s sufficient as an answer, but as it happens, even that’s a moot point. Humans are hardwired to operate this way, cognitively, no matter what, from birth. Humans can certainly permit themselves to abandon the corrective feedback loops reality provides for model making, but they do so at their own risk, and generally have to contain such indulgences for things like theology, where being totally whack in their ideas won’t get them killed, but just might make them a bit odd in their heuristics (although given the gratification many of those indulgences and conceits afford for many, maybe it’s not so odd).

    A newborn baby instinctively, and unavoidably beings to build models, based on this metaphysical premise, before they are even vaguely aware of concepts like “metaphysical” or “premise”. From birth, and likely well before, the neonate accepts that its senses are veridical and providing feedback that supports model-building. A three month old’s model is quite rudimentary to an adult’s: it doesn’t yet have the model refined enough to understand the persistence of physical objects, so when an adult shows the young one a tennis ball and then hides it behind her back, the babe may just think the ball has ceased to exist. A few months later, the child will have refined the model to incorporate this concept of persistence, and so may look expectantly at the adult for the return of the ball behind her back into view.

    So, really, asking for warrant for this premise in practical terms just elicits a good laugh. What do you suppose is the child’s WARRANT for that practice??? It cannot be otherwise, as anyone who has, or knows children can attest. We are hard-wired for this, and cannot do otherwise. A flip answer to your question would have been simply “human biology is our warrant”, and that would have force, but biological imperatives aside, our warrant is just a provisional hypothesis taken on for the purposes of investigation, not to stand on the premise, but rather to investigate the premise for soundness itself. This is science upending the “top down” model of philosophy that can’t bootstrap itself, and offering a bootstrapping method by provisional acceptance of a hypothesis as the means to investigate the premise itself. Since science and empiricism have an epistemic tool that rationalism alone doesn’t have — corrective feedback loops from the real world — it can bootstrap the epistemic process thus, and avoid the skyhooks and regress problems that rationalism alone suffers from.

    Such an idea might begin as an intuition as, say, my idea that humans (some, most or all) can discern self-evidently true moral statements, but I must provide the worldview premise that would indicate, support, or imply that such is even possible.

    No, there is not only no requirement for that, it’s not possible as an end point. That is just a trigger for regress. You know the drill. If I ask you for your “warrant for possibility”, I will listen for your answer, and then politely nod, and then ask you for your warrant for that supporting answer. Then, if you should deign to provide support for that answer, I will wash, rinse, repeat, until you realize the trap you have fallen into. Without a provisional hypothesis, and some way to cycle back to evaluate it, something that breaks the “vicious cycle of warrant”, you end up getting all theological, hopelessly lost in, uh, “bald assumptions”, but ones that have not the hope of being tested, validated, falsified or even investigated by anything more than idle musings in one’s mind.

    IOW, I can certainly just baldly assume (based on intuition) that humans can deliberately discern true statements, but if my worldview holds as true premises that directly and necessarily contradict that idea (which I would argue, and KF argues, atheistic/materialist worldviews do), then in order to maintain a rationally consistent belief system, you’d have to change either your assumption that humans can reliably & deliberately discern true statements about phenomena, or you’d have to change something about your fundamental worldview.

    Well, corrigibility for one’s assumptions is the piece you were missing above, in asking for a priori warrant. And that’s the solution here. Take on what hypotheses you will at the outset, but unless you have some way to adjust, correct and revise (and as above, happily, humans have evolved and adopted to do this very well as a matter of biology) your assumptions as the means of training your mental model of the world, ya got nothin’.

    The real world doesn’t care a whit for your worldview, or mine. It is what it is, and adopting a a worldview that’s not consonant with the realworld just makes the world say… well the world doesn’t say anything, it’s just physics. If that’s understood, you can hotrod the model all you want — if you suppose you will leave forever after your death as part of your model, it’s not likely to be a lethal indulgence, as opposed to supposing you are strong enough and fast enough to defeat any predator or enemy in a struggle, for example — and so long as the model performs minimally, you can function.

  80. @William J Murray

    Since we cannot observe “gravity” in and of itself, but rather use the term to refer to a distinct pattern of effects that can be observed and measured (regardless of what “gravity” actually is, if anything, we know what effects it produces), I assume that you do not require the proposed commodity in iteself to be observable, but that only the proposed effects be subject to observation and predictive models. Is that a fair assessment?

    Well, “itself to be observable” is a really awful phrase to invoke. As my old physics prof used to say to poke us undergrads in the mind’s eye, do I see the apple, or the light bouncing off the apple toward my eye? It’s wordplay of course, but it’s not so trivial as it sounds, which was his point in starting out that way. We don’t observe things “themselves”, and the language that captures the process in a precise and physics-compatible way is cumbersome; we use the language shorthand because being precise is really awkward and impractical in situations like this.

    That said, yes, the “naturality” of any putative effect or dynamic is judge by its observability where “observability” is established by measurement as part of a mechanical model. If you can’t incorporate it into a mechanistic model, you have a problem. Gravity, as “invisible” as it is, is perfectly measurable as part of such a model. And it’s worth pointing out here, just for kariosfocus’ benefit, this is the key point where a “divine foot in the door” completely annihilates the epistemic model. If the putative dynamic isn’t required to be incorporated into a model, or can’t be incorporated into some mechanistic, any mechanistic model, it can’t be model-tested, and thus cannot possibly contribute to knowledge, even as eliminative-knowledge (falsification).

    (Similarly, we cannot observe whatever entropy is – what is causing entropic effects, if anything is “causing” them – but use the term to refer to a class of effects. Time, also – we don’t know what it “is”, but its effects are observable.)

    Well, entropy doesn’t cause anything. Entropy is just an abstraction (a brain-state in human heads) that is reifies the concept of [what we call entropy]. I understand your point, however — “what is causing entropic effects” is fine for our purposes. In any case, if you can build natural models with it that make testable predictions and which account for empirical observations, etc., you’re good. Model building, and the testability and liability of the model to empirical feedback is the key. This is what drives knowledge as the output, through validation or falsification.

    So, if we proposed that a class of effects – identifiable by pattern, predictable in some sense – was the product of an unobservable “force” (like entropy or gravity), would the fact that the effects of the posited force were observable and testable deliver our theory from being about the “supernatural”?

    Is the model mechanistic? If so, yes. “Predictable in some sense” isn’t nearly adequate. Discrete, entailed and novel predictions are required — you need a “falsified domain” as a potential and identifiable outcome as well as a “non-falsified domain” (not this is not the same as “true”, the epistemology is eliminative), and some objective, empirical way of distinguishing between the two domains when you run your tests on the model, or… ya got nothin’.

    Also, a follow-up question: is what is artificial subsumed by the term “natural” in “methodological naturalism”? IOW, can science properly investigate the designed product, habits, and patterns of intelligent agencies like humans?

    Sure. “Artificial” as in “artificial selection” is an artificial [sic] distinction in this context. Humans designing circuits and software, or new breeds of dog are just as natural as grass on the ground, and so are the circuits. Aliens from Planet Z are no less natural than we are or the grass is. All of this is subsumed in a straightforward way under the aegis of methodological naturalism. “Artificial” as you are using it here (I believe) is just a casual distinction that’s useful for separating out humans and their effects and designs from the rest of the world. “Artificial selection” is totally natural in the strict sense of the scientific epistemology we are looking at, it just messes with the patterns of evolution and selection we see when humans aren’t in the picture. That’s useful for distinguishing human breeding of plants from non-human plant evolution, for example, but it’s not a meaningful distinction for our purposes here.

  81. @kairosfocus

    Now, atheism-as-proposition [the denial of the existence of God], is the premise for the sort of active disbelief in God that underlies the passive form being rhetorically used [absence of belief in God] and is invariably embedded in worldviews that make that denial seem plausible. In our time the relevant worldview is usually “scientific” evolutionary materialism.

    Then your problem is with “scientific evolutionary materialism”. Why are you invoking atheism? By Buddhist friend at work is an atheist, but he’s not a materialist, and (lamentably) not a subscriber to evolutionary theory. That’s how he “usually” is as an atheist, and so far as I know, that how he “always” is. As you have it, atheism is just a collateral by-product of your real enemy, materialism.

    In short, you have severely misread what was said, and in any case should have taken on board synecdoche whereby a wider entity can be referred to by a key part, e.g. “all hands on deck” means “all sailors on deck.”

    You have that backwards. “Atheism” IS the wider entity. Materialism, your real target is the part of the wider whole (atheism-compatible worldviews). Not a big deal, but I note you are bungling your attempt to dig out of this. Many sailors here, to apply your analogy, do not have hands. Many atheism-compatible worldviews do not have materialism, or evolutionary theory support. Why not just restate what you meant after thinking about it a bit, and restate it?

    Error carried forward.

    I never ever said that atheism as proposition was a worldview, but if you have projected that misreading, all else follows, down to the gratuitous (though relatively subtle) ad hominem.

    Ahh, but you did, except you have now decided it was synechdoche, except for confusing the wider part (atheism) with the key narrower part (materialism), making it a kind of “reverse-synechdoche”, if read charitably. Why not just think about, restate things clearly, and facilitate a discussion on the merits?

    The above suffices to show that there is a problem but it is not my posting “disingenuously.” It is that you have projected a pseudo-problem on me a priori, the “Gish gallop” — which is yet another form of the Barbara Forrest/NCSE “creationism in a cheap tuxedo” smear — and so misread what I have had to say.

    Please note the term I actually used — “Gish Gallop, Kairosfocus Remix™ (please don’t forget the trademark symbol). I don’t suppose Gish believe he is spewing lies faster than a sparrow flies, but I do identify a great many of them as falsehoods, and demonstrable ones if he would bother to slow down enough to actually examine and be examined in what he is saying. So, to for you. You aren’t Gish, and aren’t doing precisely the same thing, which is why I called your gallop the “Kairosfocus Remix™”. But it certainly is a gallop, and while I don’t doubt you believe what you are saying is true (oy!), as a practical matter, it’s just an obnoxious way to behave in a posting environment. It’s antagonistic IN ITS FORM. (Maybe it helps if you just consider the posts of BA77 — that’s in the same vein as what you contribute here).

    I assume you believe what you spew in such volume and rambling form is true, but I don’t see your machine gun fire being any more true than what Gish gets galloping on. But that really isn’t the point of the criticism. The point is that it’s an obnoxious FORM, and one that does poison the well, in the same way as Gish does. I think just here in this thread you took pains to point out how I (or someone else?) did not respond to one particular point in your galloping items, and identified that as some apparent problem for your opponents. That’s just nuts. If you are going to post as you do, fine, but you are really out there if you follow up with a post noting that your feeble enemies conspicuously avoided a detailed response to the 7 links you provided in item 33 of section 5 of your gallop.

    You sir have called me a liar by direct implication — and that without good reason, something I take very, very, very seriously indeed. (I won’t even bother to address whether Dr Gish properly merits this dismissal, let’s just say I doubt very much that he is a liar. He may be in error on points, but I have no reason to believe he is a liar.)

    No, that’s not the case. I believe you believe what you are posting is true, so that would not be lying on your part. I believe the same thing about Gish. You’ve missed the thrust of the criticism. The idea you should consider is that you have a form of posting that is intrinsically hostile to forum discussion, in the same way the Gish Gallop is hostile to constructive or thoughtful debate. It’s not something to be proud of, so I think you should not find much comfort in pointing you away from the lying charge. It’s just exceedingly bad form when you are in a community that is trying (to some degree at least) to tolerate (if not foment) thoughtful discussion on highly controversial and profound issues. It’s just a lack of social graces, and everyone’s aware of it. You’re famous for it, I’m learning, outside of this forum, where apparently even your friends are too polite or scared to point this out for your own benefit.

    You’ve clearly read a lot and spend a lot of time on these things, so I think you would do just fine if you would stop with all the gallop and risk really engaging in a thoughtful way on this blog (or elsewhere). If you are willing to try that, I’m certainly willing to try and show how this works on my end, as a “critic” or “opponent”.

    This is subtly uncivil, and should be taken back, especially since right from the outset of your attempted rebuttal I have show where there is an error of reasoning, and it is not mine.

    Worse, we do see that by labelling me as disingenuous in the original post, you have indeed meant that I am a willful deceiver.

    I think my comments above addressed this, but for the record again, the “disingenous” charge does not obtain from any suspicion of you lying, but rather of just a fairly extreme disregard for engaging those you speak to, and of exploiting bandwidth and available space to try and dominate a discussion by galloping. Think of it as a network social faux pas you have a adopted as a mode (along with BA77), which benefits you (you suppose) at the expense of everyone else and the forum in general.

    This is false accusation, especially in context where it is plain that it is you who are not handling easily accessible evidence responsibly.

    And, a sober examination of the original post will immediately reveal that it is not a “random walk” and that as a worldviews level question it must inevitably address a wide context of issues, which it in fact condenses relative to what a full-orbed phil essay would have to take on. But in so doing, this is what was done structurally:

    Welk, “random walk” was hyperbole, I admit. But exaggeration of a very real problem. Call it what you want, “structure toward a fully orbed desiderata” seems as fine a euphemism as I can think of, but relabeling won’t help. In the context you are operating in, that kind of posting by it’s sheer FORM is a kind of social antagonism. That is, even if it’s ALL CORRECT, you are still poisoning the well because it’s an intractable gallop, even if “true”.

    I’m disappointed no one has ever taken this up privately with you, that you will listen to better than I, because it’s really a shame to see all that effort go to waste and be a burden on the environments you post in. I think you are badly mistaken on a number of fronts, but nothing is helped by blowing all the bandwidth time and attention the way you do. Much better those ideas get a fair hearing, and a chance to succeed or fail on their own merits in a thoughtful discussion.

    Since it was actually shown in the OP that so-called methodological naturalism reduces to metaphysical naturalism by implication [notice, onlookers, how this was never directly addressed, just brushed aside by red herrings led away to strawmen soaked in ad hominems and set alight by subtle insinuations], this is simply wrong.

    This is a good example of what I meant above. Here you are playing to the crowd (hint: whenever you are tempted to use the word “Onlookers”, you are fighting a negative impulse) by suggesting that some item or other in your galloping stream was avoided, and avoided due to some weakness or error on the part of your opponent’s ideas.

    That’s being disingenuous right there. I’m a “new kid on the block”, and type fast, etc. and so am maybe as much of an “eager n00b” as you are likely to find in an opponent. But your gallop just thwarts any efforts to engage in a robust way. That’s bad enough, but then you take the frustrations and time limitations of the people your are speaking to as an opportunity to double down on your disingenousness — you high-five yourself for having opponents not stupid enough or blessed with unlimited free time to respond to every step in your gallop.

    If the gallop is picking your nose at a party, this kind of response is breaking wind and supposing the partygoers will think that’s fun.

    Methodological naturalism does NOT reduce to philosophical naturalism or materialism, by implication or any other vehicle. Philosophical materialism is a WIDENING of methodological naturalism, naturalism applied much more broadly than to just scientific questions. I know that presents some challenges for you, but facts are stubborn things — saying it reduces doesn’t make it so. Your claim is demonstrably false — just ask any of the theists who are scientists who use methodological naturalism in their practice of science day in and day out, and maintain a thoroughgoing theism, or other set of superstitions, as part of their governing philosophy. Methodological naturalism is easily observed to widen out into many different forms of theism and other non-materialist philosophies in the lives of those who utilize methodological naturalism as a tool for building natural knowledge.

    What is correct is that ever since Plato and beyond, it is known that some things begin to exist and/or may cease form existing. Thus,t hey are subjects of cause and causal explanation. Such causes reliably trace to chance and or mechanical necessity driven by physical forces and derivations of that, or choice.

    That is NOT known. Science provides a strong basis for doubting that we have ANY examples of anything “beginning to exist”. Matter and energy move around and takes on different configurations, but it is neither created nor destroyed, so far as we can tell (First Law of Thermodynamics). We can certainly identify causal patterns with our observations and build models that try to approximate and predict the dynamics of matter and energy, but we have ZERO experience with matter or energy being created or destroyed, or anything “beginning to exist”. A zygote that becomes a baby that becomes an adult human does not “begin to exist” in an existential sense, but rather is a shorthand we apply for the collecting and aggregation of already existing matter and energy. Cause is a question we build models to address, but they do not incorporate anything coming to exist, or ceasing to exist, as a matter of physics. A body decaying and decomposing we may say “ceases to exist” as a configuration of matter and energy we call “body”, and we can identify processes that predictable effect further decomposition until the body is no longer recognizable as a body, but nothing ceases to exist in any fundamental sense. This Plato did not know (others may have suspected, depending on your reading of some of the ancient Greek thinkers), and is a striking defeater for the intuitive premise that “everything that begins to exist has a cause…”. Perhaps it does, but if so, we can’t say by experience from this world. This world affords us precisely NO experience of such a phenomenon.

    Ahh, but I’m following you down rabbit holes now. Enough.

  82. eigenstate:

    If the putative dynamic isn’t required to be incorporated into a model, or can’t be incorporated into some mechanistic, any mechanistic model, it can’t be model-tested, and thus cannot possibly contribute to knowledge, even as eliminative-knowledge (falsification).

    Per your statement, string theory can’t “contribute to knowledge”. And there are all kinds of other examples of what is considered to be science that doesn’t fit the bill either.

    Discrete, entailed and novel predictions are required — you need a “falsified domain” as a potential and identifiable outcome as well as a “non-falsified domain” (not this is not the same as “true”, the epistemology is eliminative), and some objective, empirical way of distinguishing between the two domains when you run your tests on the model, or… ya got nothin’.

    String Theory is presented to the scientific community as a quasi Theory of Everything, and yet, per Lee Smolin, it makes NO measurable predictions.

    At 9.1.3, I posed a question. You might want to take a look. But I again ask the question—since I believe it is fundamental to this discussion:

    ” . . . eigenstate, do you admit the Mind and Free Will as non-material entities? Would you accept this limited provenance for science?”

    Based on your choice not to distinguish between “artificial” and “natural”, I’m expecting your answer to both questions will be ‘no’.

  83. @PaV.

    Per your statement, string theory can’t “contribute to knowledge”. And there are all kinds of other examples of what is considered to be science that doesn’t fit the bill either.

    Agree, and have noted just that point with respect to string theory here on this blog in the last several days (I forget which thread, but could probably search to find it if pressed for the link).

    String Theory is presented to the scientific community as a quasi Theory of Everything, and yet, per Lee Smolin, it makes NO measurable predictions.

    That’s basically correct, but it’s more complicated than that. String Theory doesn’t make novel and measurable predictions that distinguish it from the theories it is trying to unify (QM and GR). Even put that way, that’s not complete, as there is controversy about whether some predictions which are entailed by String Theory and are novel with respect to both QM and GR (thus distinguishing it from both) are IN PRINCIPLE testable.

    It’s agreed that as a practical matter, here and now, these predictions aren’t testable, given our current technological limitations. For example, Ira Rothstein from Carnegie Mellon advanced a test for W boson scattering several years ago that was ostensibly practical in the then-being-built Large Hadron Collider. Even before the LHC was deployed, questions about the uniqueness and perspicacity of this test were raised.

    As far as I know, they are still sifting through the enormous piles of data as they wind down the LHC for 2011, and the only things out so far are sketchy “scoops” from various physics blogs following the investigation. The current take is that no new physics came into view from these tests, but neither did the Higgs boson. Investigators are skeptical as to whether there is any data that conclusively will support a conclusive verdict either way on the Higgs boson.

    All of which I grant is not particularly germane, here, but the point is that the testability of String Theory is controversial in the community. But even if the testability of String Theory is problematic, the important distinction over theology is that the threshold and conditions for testability are known and affirmed. The debate obtains on the the practicality of testing for unique and discriminating predictions from the String Theory models.

    At 9.1.3, I posed a question. You might want to take a look. But I again ask the question—since I believe it is fundamental to this discussion:

    ” . . . eigenstate, do you admit the Mind and Free Will as non-material entities? Would you accept this limited provenance for science?”

    Based on your choice not to distinguish between “artificial” and “natural”, I’m expecting your answer to both questions will be ‘no’.

    Correct. “Non-material” is not a problem on its face, if we are using casual definitions of “non-material” — gravity is not a “stuff” or made of some material you can touch or see. But if we are using “non-material” in a scientific sense, then “entity” becomes problematic, as I understand it, as “entity” implies materiality in the same way “substance” would. Perhaps there is some way that “immaterial substance” can be apprehended as more than a self-contradicting term, but if there is, we are not aware of any such physic.

    That means that “mind”, for example, is “non-material” in a casual, colloquial sense — we can’t touch or see our ‘mind’, we suppose — but material in the rigorous sense: a complex set of electro-chemical patterns that occur in the brain.

  84. And it is these discoveries and the irrational neo-darwinian denials of anything pointing to design that lead me to abandon evolution(theistic evolution) and move to intelligent design. It was also these discoveries that lead Antony Flew from abandoning his former irrational atheistic worldview in light of the many discoveries of the universe and the living cell. I guess flew, being a heavyweight of heavyweights in atheism must have turned crazy for coming over to the intelligent design movement huh?

  85. 85

    Eigenstate,

    To sum up (correct if I’m incorrectly paraphrasing you and extrapolating thereof here):

    1. The natural in “methodological naturalism” is used to distinguish it from “supernatural”, which is (for our purposes, anyway) defined as that which is not observable (meaning, is itself not observable and has no observable, predictive effects).

    2. As in the case of gravity and entropy, as long as a predictable effect (or set of effects) is observable, then we regard the unobserved “thing it itself” (inasmuch as we can observe things themselves) as scientific in that our model of “what it does” is constructed of observable, predictive effects. Our terms (gravity, entropy) become placeholders for the set of effects being described.

    3. Effects generated by intelligent, deliberate agencies (humans, hypothetical intelligent extraterrestrials) fall within the domain of scientific scrutiny (as in cryptography, forensics, archaeology, etc.) Even if the specific intelligent agency is unknown to us (as in the above cases, or in the case of finding artificial alien artifacts on other worlds), as a placeholder term for a set of predictable or recognizable effects, “intelligent design” is a scientific concept (within the bounds of methodological naturalism) whether or not one agrees that the current metric for discerning ID effects (FSCO/I > 1000 bits) from non-ID effects is accurate.

    If we are agreed to this point, then I don’t see why it would be unscientific to refer to a class of effects that bear the markers of intelligent design and appear to be as fundamental as gravity or entropy (in generating, among other things, a finely-tuned cosmos), and in the same sense that we call a set of effects “gravity”, we refer to that fundamental set of effects “god”. In this sense, god is not being referred to as a “supernatural” entity, but as entirely “natural” under your definition (which includes intelligent agencies and their effects).

    In the beginning, you explained that “supernatural” means anything that is unobserved, and produces unobserved or unpredictable effects. If we agree that most supernatural agencies are considered to be intelligent or at least deliberate, and most claimed interactions with “the supernatural” posit that the supernatural agency was in fact observable in some sense (sight, sound, smell, feel), and many such experiencers refer to what would be predictable effects of such encounters, I’m not sure what specific phenomena ever claimed by anyone to have been encountered, or to exist, would qualify as “supernatural” under this exclusionary rule (including ghosts, demons, psi effects, angelic visitation, OOBEs, etc.).

    Even if people claimed that god answers prayers, “god” as an unseen, intelligent force isn’t excluded from scientific investigation by rule as long as there are predictable sets of effects that can be scientifically investigated; thus positing “god” as an unseen, intelligent force that generates predictable, intelligently designed effects towards a goal can be a scientific hypothesis or even theory, given any success for the model.

    It seems to me that there is no reason other than a priori atheism to prevent the divine foot per se as long as the divine foot is producing observable, predictable effects (in the same categorical sense that other intelligent agents produce observable, predictable effects).

    Can you provide me with a specific example of what would be supernatural and excluded from scientific investigation, and can you explain why such a concept of god is necessarily excluded via your explanation?

  86. Graham:

    Again, the pattern is that if there are short, newsy posts at UD that is objectionable. If there are longer more analytical posts, that too is objectionable.

    The real pattern seems to be that the objectors would prefer no posts at UD.

    There is a simple solution to that, if you prefer no posts here, then do not visit. But then, it seems the real problem then emerges: you don’t want OTHER people visiting here and getting “contaminated” with design thought, it seems.

    So, the objection falls apart.

    Yes, the posts in this sequence are on fairly complex matters and as a result are fairly involved. But hey are not random mish-mashes of jottings, as I just proved step by step. And yet that was ESt’s objection. That suggests a want of willingness to think carefully before objecting. Multiply by the “Gish Gallop” false accusation that directly implies “liar” — without sound warrant — and it is soon evident that what is going on is ideological not reasonable.

    If you really want to shut down UD, all you have to do is provide solid empirical evidence — not question-begging a priori imposition of materialism — that blind chance and mechanical necessity can in our observation produce functionally specific complex information beyond 500 – 1,000 bits.

    Failing that we have every scientific right to infer from the billions of cases in point, that such FSCI is a reliable sign of design. And to infer form that that life with complex coded DNA that works symbolically and algorithmically is designed, however that makes atheists etc feel.

    As for the “few people read,” I think the pattern of responses and page views says otherwise.

    Good day

    GEM of TKI

  87. Eigenstate:

    I have not got time at the moment to run down a long list of point by point responses. Later, I will respond.

    Just note that I have EXPLICITLY, from the outset only and always spoken of atheism as a component of a worldview, specifically atheism as proposition, often presented for rhetorical reasons in a passive form, but a moment’s reflection will show that this is meant to be evasive and to improperly arrogate a worldview default. Which is what I objected to, and on seeing how you confused this, put in clarifying details in the hope that this would make the point even more clear.

    I do not appreciate the points-scoring rhetoric in response, given the more basic problem I now have with you: false accusation.

    That, I must now address.

    I simply note that — per the cite from the definition at the so-called Rational Wiki — LYING is an integral part of the definition of the so-called Gish Gallop [which is itself a gratuitous insult and slander to a person], which you used of the OP etc. In addition, this was in the context where you had earlier termed the original post “disingenuous.”

    So, you DO and DID mean to call me a liar by direct implication.

    By direct implication, therefore, you have called me a liar.

    Address that clearly, either substantiating it or withdrawing it with explanation/apology.

    IF YOU DO NOT, THEN PLEASE LEAVE THIS THREAD AND DO NOT EVER COMMENT IN ANY THREAD I POST HEREAFTER.

    Given the significance of the matter, you will understand why I expect a reasonable answer within 24 hours.

    Good day, sir

    GEM of TKI

  88. EIGENSTATE:

    Given the seriousness, kindly address the matter in 16.1.1 above, within the next 24 hours.

    Good day.

    GEM of TKI

  89. @kairosfocus,

    I’ll just ask you to read, again, what I said in my comment which your replied to. I don’t know why you have just ignored this, maybe your time constraints didn’t allow for a good scan. But here it is, pulled out by itself:

    No, that’s not the case. I believe you believe what you are posting is true, so that would not be lying on your part. I believe the same thing about Gish.

    I go on to point out that the nature of my criticism is not a complaint against lying, but a complaint about exploiting bandwidth in attempts to dominate a conversation, compounded by the conceit that such spewing has made headway against your opponents when one of the many scattered points goes unanswered. It’s a problem of form and social netiquette in a forum like this, and obtains even if I stipulate, arguendo that everything you posted was true.

    But I repeat myself. Lying was and is not the problem. The gallop is a problem of form, not a problem of veracity. It’s all up there, more than once, in my earlier comments, if will take time to read them.

  90. eigenstate:

    Perhaps there is some way that “immaterial substance” can be apprehended as more than a self-contradicting term, but if there is, we are not aware of any such physic.
    That means that “mind”, for example, is “non-material” in a casual, colloquial sense — we can’t touch or see our ‘mind’, we suppose — but material in the rigorous sense: a complex set of electro-chemical patterns that occur in the brain.

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. I guess I want to say a few things.

    First, you haven’t said anything about “free will”. That’s fine. Maybe we can work on the “mind” part and then switch over(which I do towards the end here).

    Second, “mind” as an “immaterial substance” suits me just fine; and, I suppose, when you say “we are not aware of any such physic”, you’re really saying that there’s no physical entity that is “mind”, nor, are there any ways of measuring for its existence.

    If that’s the case, supposing I’ve interpreted you correctly, then aren’t we in the very same situation as we are with “gravity”? IOW, we don’t “see” gravity directly, but only its effects. Likewise, we don’t see a “mind”, but we do see its effects—my response to you being such an effect.

    Again, if I’ve understood you correctly, then when you say of “mind,” in the “rigorous” sense, that it is “a complex set of electro-chemical patterns that occur in the brain,’ you’re describing a physical substance that finds itself in a particular “eigenstate” (hence your username!)? Do I have that correctly?

    I wonder if this doesn’t get us back to “free will”? If the “mind” is but a particular eigenstate of this physical substrate you describe, then, since electro-chemical patterns follow mechanistic laws, the output of the “mind” could be argued to be determined, and hence that there really is no such thing as “free will”. I’m rather sure this would be your position. Do I have it down correctly?

    But, then, how do we explain such things as “creativity”, or “beauty”? How do we explain “love”, and the fact that generation after generation people fall in “love”? How do we explain ESP? or “out of body” experiences? (In fact, I should mention Fr. Robert Spitzer’s new book; I think the title is: “New Proofs of Existence . . .”, which deals with multiverse theory and such. He says that atheists have a hard time with “out of body” experiences, especially the one of the man born blind who, when “out of his body” was able to “see”.) And, of course, other kinds of metaphysical experiences*.

    I’ll just leave it here for right now, and wait for your response and clarifications.

    *[E.g., when I was 19 and in the chemistry building, I was talking to the stockroom clerk and then, suddenly, found myself looking in a direction almost 90 degrees to my right. I then saw a young woman through an open door whom I had never seen before in the chemistry department. She walked straight in to the stockroom and began to speak---at which time I went back to looking at the stockroom clerk who had been speaking the whole time. When I got hold of my senses, I looked 90 degrees to my left, and, lo and behold, I saw that same young woman, through the same door I had somehow seen just twenty seconds earlier. She walked in and said, word-for-word, what I had already heard her say twenty seconds earlier. How do you explain this?]

  91. Welcome aboard, wallstreeter.

  92. Onlookers,

    For record, I will comment on select points from the remark by Eigenstate at what is now 16.1 above.

    (As I have already notified at 16.1.1, ESt needs to deal with a far more serious matter of basic civility in public discussion before further embarking on substantive matters.)

    On select points:

    1: your problem is with “scientific evolutionary materialism”. Why are you invoking atheism? . . .

    The immediately following reference to a Buddhist friend of course ducks the pivotal point known to all of us involved, that evolutionary materialistic, “scientific” atheism — which has atheism- as- proposition as a keystone principle — is the relevant and dominant form of atheism in the civilisation.

    And, right from the heading of the post, I made that focus explicit.

    In short, this is a loaded red herring, led out to a convenient strawman.

    2: “Atheism” IS the wider entity. Materialism, your real target is the part of the wider whole (atheism-compatible worldviews).

    Atheism- as- proposition, the denial of the existence of God, is a keystone component of the evolutionary materialistic worldview.

    And, in fact the presentation of that denial in passive, rhetorical default form, has for decades been used to try to dodge intellectual responsibility to ground any worldview. (Which is the point that has been twisted into rhetorical pretzels above. Notice, too, after these side tracks, we are nowhere closer to a serious effort towards warranting this form of denial of the existence of God, and the wider evolutionary materialist frame of thought.)

    3: you have now decided it was synechdoche, except for confusing the wider part (atheism) with the key narrower part (materialism), making it a kind of “reverse-synechdoche”, if read charitably.

    Evidently, ESt does not realise or wish to acknowledge that synecdoche works in several ways, part for whole, whole for part and more. I gave but one example.

    Nor is this a “now you have decided,” as the very first in-brief response I gave was to point to this aspect, i.e. at minimum, we should begin from the understanding that in discussion wholes are often referred to by parts and parts by wholes etc. So, it would be best to read the context which makes it quite plain that the matter is about “scientific,” evolutionary materialistic atheism; right from the outset. Indeed, in the headline.

    But a loaded red herring led out to a strawman is ever so tempting.

    4: the term I actually used — “Gish Gallop, Kairosfocus Remix™ (please don’t forget the trademark symbol). I don’t suppose Gish believe he is spewing lies faster than a sparrow flies, but I do identify a great many of them as falsehoods, and demonstrable ones if he would bother to slow down enough to actually examine and be examined in what he is saying. So, to for you.

    This is of course the precise point where I have demanded explanation or retraction. Let us remind ourselves, on the definition by smear proffered by the so-called Rational Wiki:

    The Gish Gallop is an informal name for a debating technique that involves drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood that has been raised. Usually this results in many involuntary twitches in frustration as the opponent struggles just to decide where to start. It is named after creationism activist and professional debater Duane Gish.

    The second item in the list is lies, and the first is half-truths, another form of lying. And, lies are willfully calculated deceptions. So, if one is in mere error — and in fact the evidence above is that I am NOT in error — but does not intend deceit, s/he is not a liar.

    It seems therefore that the underlying admission here is that ESt has falsely accused me of lying, by direct implication, and that he now realises the cannot back it up. But he is unwilling to acknowledge that he falsely and recklessly accused me of lying [by very direct implication], so he now wishes to redefine to make it out that this was not so.

    ESt now shifts to a subtler form of accusation, intellectual irresponsibility.

    On this, I simply state that I have laid out the case step by step with links where one can examine for oneself. ESt has asserted but has yet to substantiate error or recklessness in error, much less deceitfulness.

    Indeed, the real truth seems to be that because he differs with what I have had to say, and seems to assume that those who differ with the new schoolmen in the holy lab coats are “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked,” I must be guilty by virtue of mere disagreement with the party line. After all, how could one see the mass of evidence and fail to agree if he has the intellectual horsepower to take it on, save something is wrong morally?

    The answer is obvious, from the original Post: there is an a priori imposition of materialism at work, as Lewontin and others such as the US NAS and NSTA have freely acknowledged; and as is routinely evident. Johnson’s retort that the materialism comes first the science thereafter is telling.

    5: I assume you believe what you spew in such volume and rambling form is true, but I don’t see your machine gun fire being any more true than what Gish gets galloping on.

    ESt needs to realise that saying a smear over and over again drumbeat style does not make it so, either of me or of BA or of Gish for that matter.

    I have shown exactly the step by step methodical reasoning process from the very headline of the original post, and have linked where one can go for more. But no, instead of acknowledging this is a logically structured post, it is ever so much easier to chant out “rambling” over and over.

    This is childish, rude and irresponsible. It is also defiant in the face of evident facts laid out step by step already.

    So, we know the whole post above is a turnabout false accusation done defiantly in the teeth of the truth that is there for all to see.

    6: I think just here in this thread you took pains to point out how I (or someone else?) did not respond to one particular point in your galloping items, and identified that as some apparent problem for your opponents. That’s just nuts.

    Translated: ESt has no intention to address the key matters on the merits, he is just here to call names and dish out abuse. Okay, he has a 24 hour clock ticking to shape up or ship out.

    7: I believe you believe what you are posting is true, so that would not be lying on your part. I believe the same thing about Gish. You’ve missed the thrust of the criticism. The idea you should consider is that you have a form of posting that is intrinsically hostile to forum discussion, in the same way the Gish Gallop is hostile to constructive or thoughtful debate.

    Diversionary, again.

    As already noted the first two points in the definition of the Rational wiki definition by smear, are about lying.

    But this clip can be taken as definitive proof that ESt cannot show willful deception. And, we have seen that he cannot address the issue on the merits cogently.

    All that he has said substantially here, is I don’t like your style.

    I need not go on to say much about the personalities that immediately follow. Save that we can note how far we now are form actually dealing with the substantive matters, into the third step of the trifecta fallacy: ad hominems and poisoning the atmosphere by soaking the strawman with ad hominems and igniting.

    8: “random walk” was hyperbole, I admit. But exaggeration of a very real problem.

    In short, a grudging acknowledgement of loaded inaccuracy.

    9: Here you are playing to the crowd (hint: whenever you are tempted to use the word “Onlookers”, you are fighting a negative impulse) by suggesting that some item or other in your galloping stream was avoided, and avoided due to some weakness or error on the part of your opponent’s ideas.

    Again, instead of actually addressing the merits [has it been missed that when I speak to onlookers, I generally am going to lay out a case on the merits so the onlooker can see the balance for him or her self?), ESt diverts to trying to pretend that to address the onlookers in what is in effect a debate is somehow a wrong thing to do.

    10: Methodological naturalism does NOT reduce to philosophical naturalism or materialism, by implication or any other vehicle. Philosophical materialism is a WIDENING of methodological naturalism, naturalism applied much more broadly than to just scientific questions.

    Again, and for variety, let us lay aside Lewontin's letting of the materialist cat out of the scientific bag; so, let us take up the NSTA remarks in the original post, noting that for "naturalistic" we can easily read "materialistic":

    The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . . Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge. [[NSTA, Board of Directors, July 2000.]

    The problem here is that once materialistic a prioris are applied, science is under censorship to materialism and so cannot properly claim to be an unfettered search for the truth about our world in light of evidence and on objective principles of investigation.

    Of course, we explain naturally occurring regularities by natural laws based on forces at work. Similarly, we explain stochastic patterns by chance based processes and the resulting distributions of outcomes. And, we explain other things just as routinely as being on inductive investigation, characteristic of the work of designers, e.g. complex specified information and associated organisation or arrangement of components.

    It is no accident that it is only when such inferences to necessity, chance and art are inconvenient for the materialists that the last is forbidden. As of course Lewontin so plainly admits.

    And, his attempt to justify this by suggesting that a theistic view would reduce the world to chaos, is historically and philosophically unwarranted, as the original post also points out. Which is being side-stepped by ESt.

    11: That is NOT known [i.e that that which begins to exist has a cause]. Science provides a strong basis for doubting that we have ANY examples of anything “beginning to exist”

    Let’s start with a box of matches. Remove one, close, then strike.

    Did or did not the flame begin to exist?

    Does or does it not have a cause?

    Of course we observe conservation of energy and/or mass, but that is strictly irrelevant to whether or not things begin to exist, or can cease from existing. And, in response to why something begins, we find that there are going to be necessary causal factors that enable that existence, without which the entity will not begin or will cease from existing if they are withdrawn.

    For instance fire fighters work by cutting off one or more of air, or heat or fuel.

    12: We can certainly identify causal patterns with our observations and build models that try to approximate and predict the dynamics of matter and energy, but we have ZERO experience with matter or energy being created or destroyed, or anything “beginning to exist”. A zygote that becomes a baby that becomes an adult human does not “begin to exist” in an existential sense, but rather is a shorthand we apply for the collecting and aggregation of already existing matter and energy.

    From a little error at the beginning, great errors do grow. That mass and/or energy are conserved under current circumstances, has nothing to do with whether or not a great many things begin to exist and are caused.

    A Zygote begins to exist, and it certainly has a cause.

    13: A body decaying and decomposing we may say “ceases to exist” as a configuration of matter and energy we call “body”, and we can identify processes that predictable effect further decomposition until the body is no longer recognizable as a body, but nothing ceases to exist in any fundamental sense. This Plato did not know . . .

    This is of course a diversion from the issue that one who dies, ceases bodily existence and the body thereafter returns to the dust.

    The dig at Plato is a way to avoid having to deal with what he did know and dis address seriously, in light of the likes of Alcibiades et al.

    __________________

    GEM of TKI

  93. I have responded on points below.

  94. ESt:

    I have already had occasion to point you to the definition- by- smear offered up by your side, of the term you used. Do I again need to point out that the first two specifications are about willful deceit, i.e. lying?

    Sorry, that crosses a serious line and must be properly dealt with.

    I am not going to put up with wink wink nod nod double-talk games.

    GEM of TKI

  95. @William J Murray,

    1. The natural in “methodological naturalism” is used to distinguish it from “supernatural”, which is (for our purposes, anyway) defined as that which is not observable (meaning, is itself not observable and has no observable, predictive effects).

    2. As in the case of gravity and entropy, as long as a predictable effect (or set of effects) is observable, then we regard the unobserved “thing it itself” (inasmuch as we can observe things themselves) as scientific in that our model of “what it does” is constructed of observable, predictive effects. Our terms (gravity, entropy) become placeholders for the set of effects being described.

    3. Effects generated by intelligent, deliberate agencies (humans, hypothetical intelligent extraterrestrials) fall within the domain of scientific scrutiny (as in cryptography, forensics, archaeology, etc.) Even if the specific intelligent agency is unknown to us (as in the above cases, or in the case of finding artificial alien artifacts on other worlds), as a placeholder term for a set of predictable or recognizable effects, “intelligent design” is a scientific concept (within the bounds of methodological naturalism) whether or not one agrees that the current metric for discerning ID effects (FSCO/I > 1000 bits) from non-ID effects is accurate.
    </blockquote.
    I'm fine with this as a working summary.

    If we are agreed to this point, then I don’t see why it would be unscientific to refer to a class of effects that bear the markers of intelligent design and appear to be as fundamental as gravity or entropy (in generating, among other things, a finely-tuned cosmos), and in the same sense that we call a set of effects “gravity”, we refer to that fundamental set of effects “god”. In this sense, god is not being referred to as a “supernatural” entity, but as entirely “natural” under your definition (which includes intelligent agencies and their effects).

    I’m quite open, epistemically, to the prospects of a god being apprehended in naturalist terms. If Zeus were real, physically real, and we could model his “lightning bolt” technology, even if (as in current physics) we don’t understand all the fundamentals of its internal dynamics, there’s no problem. It’s just science working as science, modeling out a phenomenon that’s extraordinary in terms of culture and social effects, but perfectly vanilla and ordinary as a matter of scientific investigation and epistemology. “Natural” in that sense is just descriptive, covering, by definition, “that which is amenable to mechanistic modeling, and generates predictions from that which can be empirically tested”. If it satisfies that condition, be it gravity or god, it’s “natural” as a matter of epistemology.

    Which, if that is not clear, is basically to agree with your paragraph here.

    The kicker for this is the “asymmetric identification” of god or a Designer. In science, the “marks of intelligence” are not free-standing, brute facts. These observations, which we surmise may be best attributed to an intelligent agent, are always justified as the effects of intelligence by connecting them with the known, or scientifically plausible agents that caused them. That is how model building works. So, if we have an arrowhead-like thing we find in the deepest strata, we are more skeptical that intelligence designed that object to be “arrow-like” insofar as we can’t place any such capable resources any where near that far back (say in the pre-Cambrian). If we find that same arrowhead from a site dated to 50,000 years ago, and co-located with hominid bones and other artifacts, we have a much stronger basis for concluding the arrowhead was “intelligently designed”.

    That’s important, because it points to the symmetry in matching the available “agent resources” with the putative “designed thing”. The “designedness” is NOT just an intrinsic feature of the shape, markings and other features of the arrowhead, it is the juxtaposition of those features WITH the putative designer as available and capable. There is no design inference I am aware of that stands with out this balance, the matching of an effect with an available, capable designer. That doesn’t mean we need to know the serial number of the alien soldier some would surmise as the “planter of DNA” in somebody’s panspermia, hypothesis. Just knowing that humans exist here is some ground for understanding similar capabilities in terms of intelligence, computing and other technology exist. We have no idea who those aliens might be, but the prospect of such aliens is plausible (never mind that there is no evidence whatsoever for such a visit and “planting” for the moment).

    In the beginning, you explained that “supernatural” means anything that is unobserved, and produces unobserved or unpredictable effects.

    No, that wasn’t my position. A daughter isotope decay event is a perfectly unpredictable event, but that doesn’t make it supernatural. In our models, we can achieve arbitrarily high degrees of predictability statistically (larger ensembles of decay events will produce increasing more smooth decay curves), but that doesn’t make the statistical aggregate natural and the quantum event “supernatural”, by virtue of the latter’s unpredictability.

    It’s best to stick with what I did say, I think, and adhere to the requirement that the phenomenon or dynamic be amenable to mechanistic models.

    If we agree that most supernatural agencies are considered to be intelligent or at least deliberate, and most claimed interactions with “the supernatural” posit that the supernatural agency was in fact observable in some sense (sight, sound, smell, feel), and many such experiencers refer to what would be predictable effects of such encounters, I’m not sure what specific phenomena ever claimed by anyone to have been encountered, or to exist, would qualify as “supernatural” under this exclusionary rule (including ghosts, demons, psi effects, angelic visitation, OOBEs, etc.).

    I think that’s right. “Seeing a ghost” cannot be a supernatural event, by definition. If the experience is veridical, the “seeing” is a natural experience — light, photons, distance, movement, etc. If it’s a hallucination it’s not “seeing”, but “imagining of seeing”. But if one sees a ghost, the seeing part is physical interaction, perfectly amenable to physical model building and scientific epistemology. ‘Supernatural” begins a problem when the part that gets added to it (if it gets added) that supposes this natural phenomena relates an entity that has “supernatural existence” or “supernatural qualities”, too in ADDITION to whatever physical manifestations it provides to natural observers.

    In principle, though, the “supernatural” part (“part” again being a stolen concept from the real world, but we need some handle to grasp on to, here), of a ghost is perfectly inscrutable — incoherent — in terms of science and natural knowledge, but if the physical interactions of a ghost are available to natural observers, then those natural interactions make that part of the ghost just as natural as the shoes on your feet.

    Even if people claimed that god answers prayers, “god” as an unseen, intelligent force isn’t excluded from scientific investigation by rule as long as there are predictable sets of effects that can be scientifically investigated; thus positing “god” as an unseen, intelligent force that generates predictable, intelligently designed effects towards a goal can be a scientific hypothesis or even theory, given any success for the model.

    If you have a research program that tests the model — pray, observe novel and specific effects from prayer, repeat — you have identified a pattern, a dynamic that we can incorporate into our natural knowledge base. If every time a believer said the required chant, it rained at that location, 24 hours later, no matter where, and across millions of trials, without fail, you’d have a solid empirical case for a “something” at work (provided you can’t find more mundane reasons for triggering the rain associated with the assembling for the liturgy, etc.) as a natural process. It’s as predictable as gravity, as I’ve cast it here.

    What you call it doesn’t do anything for the physics, any more than calling “gravity” “God” would change gravity. The natural process is what it is. If you call the rain-from-chant process “god”, that’s fine by me.

    The problem in your suggestion is that intelligence is not, by definition, thoroughly predictable. If it’s modelable like that — press a button, get a biscuit — you have a machine. It’s mechanistic by definition. You can call that “god” if you like, but it’s a finite state machine, if you have that kind of mapping between input and outputs. The “inscrutability of intelligence” becomes the disabling epistemic problem, if you don’t have the agent available for inspection (and in many cases — like for humans — it’s problematic even if you DO have the agent available for examination).

    Any intelligent design model has to compete with other models. And that’s exceedingly difficult, because there is no framework for entailment for such actors. If you posit an intelligence with a will that is sufficiently powerful to, say, design DNA, that putative designer is also by virtue of that inscrutable in terms of “what this part of the model entails”. If that’s not clear, think back to mechanical models that don’t incorporate intelligent agents. Einstein’s GR model ENTAILED a specific perihelion procession for the planet mercury. There was no question regarding “whether relativity would really want to do that”. It followed directly and unavoidably from Einstein’s mathematical model.

    That’s crucial, as that is the basis for adopting GR over competing/older models. It makes unavoidable, specific, novel predictions, and can be judged against them empirically.

    This blog is a veritable pantheon of arguments (from ID proponents, usually) as to why we cannot produce entailments from a model that incorporates such an intelligent agent, ESPECIALLY on who is not available for examination and discrete testing, and never has been.

    It seems to me that there is no reason other than a priori atheism to prevent the divine foot per se as long as the divine foot is producing observable, predictable effects (in the same categorical sense that other intelligent agents produce observable, predictable effects).

    Ahh, but none of what you discussed invoked the divine. There is no divine foot in the door in your prayer example. It’s a recitation or supplication of some kind, and some correlated natural effect. It’s no more “divine” that quantum entanglement — “spooky action at a distance”.

    We can call it “god” or “Steve”, doesn’t matter the label, and as the natural evidence accumulates for some kind of intelligence, something we can observe, test and incorporate into models (we can do this with humans, for example, so we are comfortable that this is plausible), we have an increasingly strong case for having identified a new form of intelligence, or even a “god”, depending on what kind of capabilities and powers this agent demonstrates.

    This is the natural discovery of god, and there is no barrier in scientific epistemology against that, from me, Dawkins, Lewontin, or anyone else. God would be just as real and natural as the nose on your face, and so much to the credit of science for developing and vetting that knowledge, if that were to happen.

    What breaks the epistemology is to inject an agent that defies or remains inscrutable to that epistemology. If God can be observed, tested, modeled, predicted, falsified, validate on natural tems, great. The epistemology is working as we desire. If the model gets perverted so the model can’t be tested, and the model’s predictions are not entailed, specific, novel or discoverable at all, ya got nothin’. And that’s what the introduction of an omniscient, omnipotent deity would do. It’s maximally destructive to scientific epistemology. Even an iota of that in the model renders the model useless.

    Can you provide me with a specific example of what would be supernatural and excluded from scientific investigation, and can you explain why such a concept of god is necessarily excluded via your explanation?

    An omniscient, omnipotent, inscrutable god is the strongest example. It also happens to be a pervasive candidate for what people attempt to insert into the investigation. By definition, such a being has all (logically consistent) options open to it, and is maximally available and maximally capable. So, God is the indefeasible, unfalsifiable answer for literally ANY phenomena. Such a character literally annihilates all natural knowledge if it’s not excluded from the explanatory universe. That which explains everything explains nothing, and a God that is the explanation for any putative phenomena, any phenomena at all, is perfectly no explanation at all, a complete defeater for any natural knowledge.

    As above, knowledge is eliminative, and an omni-god is maximally unfalsifiable. If you let such a being onto the explanatory playing field, even a little, tiny bit, for a moment, your epistemology is destroyed. Nothing can be eliminated, so nothing can be known.

  96. @PaV

    First, you haven’t said anything about “free will”. That’s fine. Maybe we can work on the “mind” part and then switch over(which I do towards the end here).

    Second, “mind” as an “immaterial substance” suits me just fine; and, I suppose, when you say “we are not aware of any such physic”, you’re really saying that there’s no physical entity that is “mind”, nor, are there any ways of measuring for its existence.

    I put that poorly, I guess. Perhaps I should have said “I am aware of no such metaphysic”, or even better “I am aware of no such superphysic”, where “superphysic” points to “how things work in a supernatural economy” in some analogous sense to how physics works in a natural economy.

    The thrust of that is just that “immaterial substance” strikes me the same why I imagine “square circle” or the “smell of the color nine” strikes you. It’s not grounded, semantically. “Substance” doesn’t mean anything to me, or any one I have asked who will respond, that doesn’t depend on material semantics (e.g. extended in space/time).

    If that’s the case, supposing I’ve interpreted you correctly, then aren’t we in the very same situation as we are with “gravity”? IOW, we don’t “see” gravity directly, but only its effects. Likewise, we don’t see a “mind”, but we do see its effects—my response to you being such an effect.

    Only in a casual sense, and here I think this signals that you must have misunderstood me — I phrased that part above poorly, originally, as I said. “Mind” is the label we use for the concept we have of the activity of the brain. That’s entirely physical, so far as I can see, as is any abstraction, abstractions being particular kinds of concepts we maintain physically in our minds (where mind is just descriptive of the activity of a brain).

    So we don’t “see” mind for casually practical reasons. The electrical activity we call “mind” in our brains (and beyond, we think with more parts of our body than our brain, relying on our entire nervous system) isn’t readily visible, even if we do something gruesome and open up a subject’s skill. But it’s as physical as your shoe, even so, as natural as the electrons running through your iPod (just in much more exotic configurations).

    So we DO see mind, in the strict, phenomenal sense. It’s measurable, testable, extended in space/time, bound by physics, subject to entropic effects and energy demands, and all that.

    Again, if I’ve understood you correctly, then when you say of “mind,” in the “rigorous” sense, that it is “a complex set of electro-chemical patterns that occur in the brain,’ you’re describing a physical substance that finds itself in a particular “eigenstate” (hence your username!)? Do I have that correctly?

    I wonder if this doesn’t get us back to “free will”? If the “mind” is but a particular eigenstate of this physical substrate you describe, then, since electro-chemical patterns follow mechanistic laws, the output of the “mind” could be argued to be determined, and hence that there really is no such thing as “free will”. I’m rather sure this would be your position. Do I have it down correctly?

    Very good, “eigenstate” in context. *salutes*.

    I hopefully cleared that up, above, but yes, the implication is that there is no such thing as “free will”, where “free will” signifies the unbounded, libertarian sense of the term.

    But, then, how do we explain such things as “creativity”, or “beauty”? How do we explain “love”, and the fact that generation after generation people fall in “love”? How do we explain ESP? or “out of body” experiences? (In fact, I should mention Fr. Robert Spitzer’s new book; I think the title is: “New Proofs of Existence . . .”, which deals with multiverse theory and such. He says that atheists have a hard time with “out of body” experiences, especially the one of the man born blind who, when “out of his body” was able to “see”.) And, of course, other kinds of metaphysical experiences*.

    Well, an “out of body experience”, where someone could be verified to achieve some kind of “remote viewing” that defies our knowledge of physics would indeed be a challenge to my understanding of physics (by definition). I’m not aware of any such examples, but I certainly would have a hard time with that if such a capability could be demonstrated.

    On creativity, beauty, etc., these aren’t substantially different in practice in terms of their outworking (a beautiful woman is as beautiful to me as a materialist as she would have been when I was a Christian, for example). The models that accounts for these concepts and sensations, where accounting is available, are materialist models, of course. I’m loathe to launch into a run down the rabbit hole of “what is beauty on materialism?” here at this particular point in this thread, but the bottom line is that we incorporate “strange loops” as Douglas Hofstadter would call them that cloud our intuitive understanding of mind. Science affords us a measure of distance from ourselves, a degree of objectivity, through which we can gain insight into intuitions we have of “beauty” as some ethereal, non-material or supernatural abstraction. It’s the same trick we learn the mind plays on itself (for good and useful reasons) in “disembodying itself”, the sense that the “I” is something discrete, immaterial, connected in some dualist way to the brain, but fundamentally distinct from it.

    I’ll just leave it here for right now, and wait for your response and clarifications.

    *[E.g., when I was 19 and in the chemistry building, I was talking to the stockroom clerk and then, suddenly, found myself looking in a direction almost 90 degrees to my right. I then saw a young woman through an open door whom I had never seen before in the chemistry department. She walked straight in to the stockroom and began to speak---at which time I went back to looking at the stockroom clerk who had been speaking the whole time. When I got hold of my senses, I looked 90 degrees to my left, and, lo and behold, I saw that same young woman, through the same door I had somehow seen just twenty seconds earlier. She walked in and said, word-for-word, what I had already heard her say twenty seconds earlier. How do you explain this?]

    I’ve had similar experiences. One area of interest for me is deja vu, as I have a history of “more than usual” incidences of deja vu, from what I can gather anecdotally from friends, colleagues, family.

    I can’t tell from your account here if that’s related, although I will point out that “deja vu” means “already seen” in French, which is resonant with your story. Anyway, without delving into the fascinating science of deja vu, researchers gaining a clearer and clearer view on this compare it to an optical illusion, but for the memory. It’s a kind of misfire. When a misfire like this happens at such a low level, it’s exceedingly convincing, and thus also unnerving (to me, anyway). The overwhelming sense of “recall”, but that’s the misfire (or so goes the science thinking). When I experience it, the “recalledness” is illusory, and it’s just a false impression overlaying an otherwise mundane “first time” experience.

    That may not apply to you at all. Humans are quite capable of and prone to all manner of hallucinations, lucid dreams, and various and assorted mental misfires, and it doesn’t make them crazy. Brains are like that, by our observation, scientific and otherwise. That combined with a conspicuous lack of corroborating evidence for “reappearances” — say a security video that supports the experience of the “two women who were the same woman, (timeshifted?) you recounted here, “brain foibles” appear to be both highly plausible and common as explanations (for my deja vu moments, too) and much more compelling as explanations over “time travel” or “spooky action at a distance for macro-objects”, etc.

  97. KF, you need to get over yourself. Eigenstate is producing some fascinating material in his discussions above with WJM, and this discussion should be an illustration to you as to how to debate like an adult. Your endless faux emotive self righteous exclamations are boring and narcissistic.

  98. @William J Murray

    I see I botched the formatting on that last reply to you. Sorry, hope you can make out who’s saying what — that post took too long to compose for the time I had and I just pushed “Submit” as I was late running out the door.

  99. eigenstate:

    “Substance” doesn’t mean anything to me, or any one I have asked who will respond, that doesn’t depend on material semantics (e.g. extended in space/time).

    I’m not a trained philosopher, so I can easily misstep here. However, IIRC, St. Thomas Aquinas makes a distinction between “substance” and “prime matter”. They’re not equivalent or identical. I think it goes something like this: substance imposes its form on prime matter. (Maybe some onlookers can help us be precise here) If so, then it’s possible to have an “immaterial substance”, i.e., more or less, a being with a form, but that does not participate in prime matter (and, hence, no extension in time and space). These would, of course, be angelic beings. Thomas Aquinas was the “Angelic Doctor”!

    So, I don’t see “mind” as a “square circle”. Not a problem for me.

    Where I would differ with you about mind is that you see “mind” as something physical—an eigenstate, if you will, and, seemingly, nothing more. But, in the fuller context of your statements, I would further have to say that you see a kind of one-to-one mapping of “mind” to some particular “mental state” = eigenstate = some kind of physical expression of the brain and its neural components. One question that immediately arises, then, is this: how, then, is the “mental state” of a giraffe any different from that of a human; or, better put, how does the “mental state” of a human differ from that of a giraffe? How are they qualitatively different?

    To better get at what I’m trying to point out, let me put this last question in a different form: when you were four-years-old, you had conversations with your parents, just as we do with four-year-old children now. But the big difference is this: you’re conscious of your conversation with the 4-year-old, whereas the 4-year-old probably is not. He may or may not have any recollection of it. When the 4-year-old says “It’s hot today,” this has to be pretty much the same “eigenstate” as exists in your mind when you make the same statement—which follows from a one-to-one mapping of abstraction and a physical eigenstate.

    But I can, more or less, anticipate how you will respond to all of this, so I’ll pass on to what I believe to be more germane. That is, what drives this supposed one-to-one mapping to change from one “mental state” (=eigenstate) to another? IOW, if I smoke marijuana, the chemical effects of the drug change my “eigenstate” and so I find myself giggling more easily. So, the causality is this: change the chemistry, which in turn changes the eigenstate, which changes the “mental state” I possess. Obviously marijuana is a “physical” substance. But, now, let’s turn it around. I’m a Zen Buddhist, and I—consciously—use meditation to place myself in a place of deep calm. Whereas before I may have been fidgety, now I am calm. What, then, induced this change of “eigenstates”? IOW, it’s as though the “mind” has added a substance that has the effect of changing the eigenstate of the brain and its neural components.

    I wonder how you respond?

    I’ve had similar experiences. One area of interest for me is deja vu, as I have a history of “more than usual” incidences of deja vu, from what I can gather anecdotally from friends, colleagues, family.

    I’ve had profound experiences of deja vu; but, I assure you, what happened in the chemistry lab room was NOT deja vu.

    When I was attending UCLA, I had a dream about being at USC, and in a tennis stadium that did not exist at the time of my dream. But three years later, I was in the tennis stadium I dreamed of, and had a very powerful experience of deja vu. That’s what I think deja vu is: it’s an experience of what is later to happen, and, I believe, we usually receive it in a dream.

    I’ve also dreamed about a place I would live in ten years before living there. And I dreamed about it not once, nor twice, but, in fact, so many times that I hated going to sleep.

    I should also add that the experience I had in the chem lab room was not the first such experience. I had an even more powerful one when I was 8-years-old.

    Now, I don’t want to go on-and-on about all of this because of the personal nature of it all; but these things happen.

    So, no, it wasn’t deja vu; deja vu is rather ordinary and common. This was something entirely different, and very real.

    Now, changing the subject a little, and getting a little off-topic, let me mention something to you just because you seem inquisitive enough: you may want to learn a little about the Miracle of Fatima. It happened in October, 1917, in Fatima, Portugal. The sun was seen to spin around its center, and then to move side-to-side in the sky; and, then, finally to plunge itself towards earth—growing larger by the second. Suddenly, the sun went back to its normal position. This was witnessed by many people—Catholics and atheists alike. And after the sun returned to its normal position, the clothes people were wearing, and the ground in that area, though having been completely soaked by the morning rain, were found to be completely dry. Real physical changes, and no naturalistic explanation for them.

    How about this: St. Rosalia. She gave herself completely to God, having left her home at a young age. She lived in a cave. She died alone in 1160. Her body was found in 1625. Now, how in the world did her body stay incorrupt for almost 500 years?

    I think these are a few thorns in the side of materialist thought; but, of course, they don’t add up to being a proof of the supernatural.

    Well, sorry for getting a bit long-winded. I’ll try to be more concise the next time. And, I await any response you’d like to give.

  100. @PaV

    I’m not a trained philosopher, so I can easily misstep here. However, IIRC, St. Thomas Aquinas makes a distinction between “substance” and “prime matter”. They’re not equivalent or identical. I think it goes something like this: substance imposes its form on prime matter. (Maybe some onlookers can help us be precise here) If so, then it’s possible to have an “immaterial substance”, i.e., more or less, a being with a form, but that does not participate in prime matter (and, hence, no extension in time and space). These would, of course, be angelic beings. Thomas Aquinas was the “Angelic Doctor”!

    So, I don’t see “mind” as a “square circle”. Not a problem for me.

    The problem, is, even the distinctions you are offering trade on stolen concepts. “Indentical” and “equivalent” are undefined for “non-prime matter”. We have no non-prime referents in which we might ground our semantics here. Or if we do, I’m not aware of them, and for all the reading I’ve done on Aquinas, he’s not got any “super-empirical super-experience” in which to ground the “non-prime” side of a prime-matter/non-prime-matter contrast or equivalence.

    Like the Square in Flatland, you may be grasping onto the dynamics of Spaceland (cubes, spheres and other 3D solids that may intersect the 2D plane of Flatland, but for what we have in view, you are telling me about referents which we have no context for apprehending. If you can show us Spaceland (and if you aren’t familiar with the story, you can just skip this part and move in, don’t want to waste your time), or a “cube” and a model for rendering a cube intelligible, semantically load-bearing, then you, and by extension old Aquinas, perhaps, have something really extraordinary to contribute there.

    But as it is, non-prime matter is conspicuously identified by what it is NOT, what it is distinguished from — see our use of “immaterial” and “non-prime”. Aquinas might have characterized that as a “privation of experience”, a lack of positive semantics for “immaterial substance”, and thus the reliance on stolen concepts to convey the appearance of meaning, rather than actual dereferenced objects or attributes in supernature (it’s tempting to bog down the prose here in pointing out all the semantic troubles, but note here that “objects” and “attributes” are similarly problematic as “terms of supernature”).

    Nevertheless, I understand you don’t see “immaterial substance” as a “square circle”. Strictly speaking, I don’t either — that’s a contradiction by terms, and the problem I was going for was really not contradiction, but just “undefinedness” of those terms, meaninglessness.

    Where I would differ with you about mind is that you see “mind” as something physical—an eigenstate, if you will, and, seemingly, nothing more. But, in the fuller context of your statements, I would further have to say that you see a kind of one-to-one mapping of “mind” to some particular “mental state” = eigenstate = some kind of physical expression of the brain and its neural components. One question that immediately arises, then, is this: how, then, is the “mental state” of a giraffe any different from that of a human; or, better put, how does the “mental state” of a human differ from that of a giraffe? How are they qualitatively different?

    Right, and I even object (mildly) to the use of “mapping” there. It’s not an isomorphism or “physical correlation”. A mind-state IS a brain-state, as I understand it. One phenomena with two ways here we describe it, serving different purposes (biological vs. mental/conceptual).

    As for qualitative differences with a giraffe, humans share the same raw materials with giraffes — a synapse is materially the same for both human and giraffe — and the distinctions obtain in the configuration of those materials, and thus the resulting capacities and functions. Humans, of course, are unique (so far as we can tell) across all species, including giraffes in having an evolved capacity for meta-representational cognition. That’s a profound qualitative difference (I’m setting aside the quantitative differences, here, like the sheer mass, which even for an adult animal so much bigger than a human is less than half the size of a human’s brain at ~650g), something akin to the difference between a hand calculator with hardwired registers and a modern PC with remappable registers and further indirection available through flexible computer languages and compilers, etc.

    Both are “silicon circuitry”, but the qualitative capabilities are dramatic, and beyond just quantitative advantages. Meta-representation changes the whole game in terms of the complexity, flexibility and most important, indirection include self-representation self-meta-representation, and arbitrarily deep levels of said indirection.

    To better get at what I’m trying to point out, let me put this last question in a different form: when you were four-years-old, you had conversations with your parents, just as we do with four-year-old children now. But the big difference is this: you’re conscious of your conversation with the 4-year-old, whereas the 4-year-old probably is not. He may or may not have any recollection of it. When the 4-year-old says “It’s hot today,” this has to be pretty much the same “eigenstate” as exists in your mind when you make the same statement—which follows from a one-to-one mapping of abstraction and a physical eigenstate.

    But I can, more or less, anticipate how you will respond to all of this, so I’ll pass on to what I believe to be more germane. That is, what drives this supposed one-to-one mapping to change from one “mental state” (=eigenstate) to another? IOW, if I smoke marijuana, the chemical effects of the drug change my “eigenstate” and so I find myself giggling more easily. So, the causality is this: change the chemistry, which in turn changes the eigenstate, which changes the “mental state” I possess. Obviously marijuana is a “physical” substance. But, now, let’s turn it around. I’m a Zen Buddhist, and I—consciously—use meditation to place myself in a place of deep calm. Whereas before I may have been fidgety, now I am calm. What, then, induced this change of “eigenstates”? IOW, it’s as though the “mind” has added a substance that has the effect of changing the eigenstate of the brain and its neural components.

    I wonder how you respond?

    Yes. This is an area where monist avoids a huge challenge for dualists. There is no “mapping” to keep synchronized, or mechanism to wonder about in terms of the mechanics for synching “non-prime” states to “immaterial substance” states, and back again. The mind state IS the brain state, so THC in your marijuana exerts a physics-governed effect on the chemistry of your brain, and that produces physical effects, effects that are not TRANSLATED (as in the dualist model) or mapped to the immaterial mind, but effects which ARE mind effects. This is why getting stone effects the way you think-as-mind, not just how your brain functions, chemically, leaving the immaterial mind unaffected (as it necessarily must be in a dualist model, barring any supernatural analogous effects of THC on a supernatural mind).

    That doesn’t mean you don’t have desires and will, as competing and interacting features of your brain (using that here instead of “mind” to keep things clear that I’m in “monist” mode). THC may not “change your mind” on some object of desire; it’s an effect, just not sufficient to be dispositive on that issue. But then again, maybe it is. You chill out and the drug effects play a chemical role that interacts with the other electro-chemical interactions going on in there anyway, and that combination changes your mind in some what. That thing you wanted, you want less, now, perhaps. Maybe that desire is marginally encroached by the “whatever” effects of your doobage.

    I’ve had profound experiences of deja vu; but, I assure you, what happened in the chemistry lab room was NOT deja vu.

    When I was attending UCLA, I had a dream about being at USC, and in a tennis stadium that did not exist at the time of my dream. But three years later, I was in the tennis stadium I dreamed of, and had a very powerful experience of deja vu. That’s what I think deja vu is: it’s an experience of what is later to happen, and, I believe, we usually receive it in a dream.

    I’m not about to get myself committed to a remote (in space, time, and medium) diagnosis of your experience, as I wouldn’t be qualified even if those barriers weren’t a factor, but I will note that this subject, by its very nature, makes “I assure you” highly problematic. I may be just as sure some other experience than my frequent deja vus are NOT deja vu events, but when I do have deja vu, I can “assure you” with all the earnesty you muster here, that I’ve seen this all before when I’m having that deja vu event.

    The misfires and problems in this area are “transcendentalish”. They mess with, and corrupt your calibration and “self-assuring” machinery. They are problematic precisely because they are compelling in there… apparent authenticity. Which is just to say that once you look into problems of this kind, responses like “I am SURE”, and “it could NOT have been… it was so REAL” or “so different”, etc., should be warning signs for possible error. That is the nature of the phenomena; the subject has the problem in the first place PRECISELY BECAUSE it elicits such confidence in its veridicality.

    Bottom line: this is an area where very strong skepticism about the self and the self’s ability to “self-discern” is warranted. Problems like these obtain because they “fake their self-assuring credentials” very well.

    I’ve also dreamed about a place I would live in ten years before living there. And I dreamed about it not once, nor twice, but, in fact, so many times that I hated going to sleep.

    I should also add that the experience I had in the chem lab room was not the first such experience. I had an even more powerful one when I was 8-years-old.

    Now, I don’t want to go on-and-on about all of this because of the personal nature of it all; but these things happen.

    Indeed. I have many of the same kinds of experiences in my own past to recall and relate. Perhaps the difference between us is just the strength of the skepticism each applies to the veridicality and doubtful nature of these events.

    So, no, it wasn’t deja vu; deja vu is rather ordinary and common. This was something entirely different, and very real.

    Not saying it wasn’t real — I don’t have a reliable way to judge on that matter. Although I wonder if you do, either. I don’t doubt that deja vu is more common than any of the episodes you describe, but one of the salient features of deja vu is its impression of being “very real”.

    Now, changing the subject a little, and getting a little off-topic, let me mention something to you just because you seem inquisitive enough: you may want to learn a little about the Miracle of Fatima. It happened in October, 1917, in Fatima, Portugal. The sun was seen to spin around its center, and then to move side-to-side in the sky; and, then, finally to plunge itself towards earth—growing larger by the second. Suddenly, the sun went back to its normal position. This was witnessed by many people—Catholics and atheists alike. And after the sun returned to its normal position, the clothes people were wearing, and the ground in that area, though having been completely soaked by the morning rain, were found to be completely dry. Real physical changes, and no naturalistic explanation for them.

    Thanks. Several years before I abandoned Christianity, I spent a long time preparing and studying the Catholic Church (I was raised in a Protestant Evangelical home), getting ready, I expected, to “swim the Tiber” and begin RCIA. The Miracle of Fatima was one of the topics commended to me by other Catholics, along with the alleged miracles of Padre Pio. I eventually reached a point in working towards Rome that triggered the realization for me that none of this was tenable, credible or supportable under critical review, and without being belligerent about it, Fatima was something like William Lane Craig was to me as a questioning Protestant: something people thought would help, but actually served as a very effective faith diminisher.

    How about this: St. Rosalia. She gave herself completely to God, having left her home at a young age. She lived in a cave. She died alone in 1160. Her body was found in 1625. Now, how in the world did her body stay incorrupt for almost 500 years?

    I think these are a few thorns in the side of materialist thought; but, of course, they don’t add up to being a proof of the supernatural.

    Well, sorry for getting a bit long-winded. I’ll try to be more concise the next time. And, I await any response you’d like to give.

    Not familiar with St. Rosalia other than in passing as the one whose body didn’t decay. I’ll have to Google that up for some night time reading on the iPad. I’m a skeptic, but I’ve always (including as an atheist) an interest in such stories, claims, accounts. True or false, they tend to be captivating bits of history and culture, plus as an atheist and skeptic I have an added element of interest in thinking through what might explain such claims in more plausible/mundane terms.

  101. Timbo: Sorry, but you are indulging in enabling behaviour. I have been repeatedly falsely accused of lying/willful and/or reckless deception (including in the post in that I have responded to on points, to which you replied as just above) — by someone who, when he turned to substance, failed to pass the test of being able to soundly diagnose what is happening when one strikes a match — and have a full right to require satisfaction. Unless, you imagine that it is fine to make such false accusations. Good day. KF

  102. WJM:

    Perhaps, Wallace’s discussion of miracles here may help break the deadlock.

    Let me clip his initial discussions of “supernatural” and “miracle”:

    [[p. 112]] The Supernatural and Modern Thought. It is now generally admitted, that those opinions and beliefs in which men have been educated generation after generation, and which have thus come to form part of their mental nature, are especially liable to be erroneous, because they keep alive and perpetuate the ideas and prejudices of a bygone and less enlightened age. It is therefore in the interest of truth, that [[p. 113]] every doctrine or belief, however well established or sacred they may appear to be, should at certain intervals be challenged to arm themselves with such facts and reasonings as they possess, to meet their opponents in the open field of controversy, and do battle for their right to live. Nor can any exemption be claimed in favour of those beliefs which are the product of modern civilisation, and which have for several generations been unquestioned by the great mass of the educated community; for the prejudice in their favour will be proportionately great . . . There have been times when popular beliefs were defended by the terrors of the law, and when the sceptic could only attack them at the peril of his life. Now we all admit that truth can take care of itself, and that only error needs protection. But there is another mode of defence which equally implies a claim to certain and absolute truth, and which is therefore equally unworthy and unphilosophical–that of ridicule, misrepresentation, or a contemptuous refusal to discuss the question at all. This method is used among us even now, for there is one belief, or rather disbelief, whose advocates claim more than papal infallibility, by refusing to examine the evidence brought against it, and by alleging general arguments which have been in use for two centuries to prove that it cannot be erroneous. The belief to which I allude is, that all alleged miracles are false; that what is commonly understood by the term supernatural does not exist, or if it does, is incapable of proof by any amount of human testimony; that all the phenomena we can have cognizance of depend on ascertainable physical laws, and that no other intelligent beings than man and the inferior animals can or do act upon our material world. These views have been now held almost unquestioned for many generations; they are inculcated as an essential part of a liberal education; they are popular, and are held to be one of the indications of our intellectual advancement; and they have become so much a part of our mental nature, that all facts and arguments brought against them are either ignored as unworthy of serious consideration, or listened to with undisguised contempt. Now this frame of mind is certainly not one favourable to the discovery of truth, and strikingly resembles that by which, in former ages, systems of error have been fostered and maintained. The time has therefore come when it must be called upon to justify itself . . . .

    at the very beginning of the subject, we find that we have to take objection to Hume’s definition of a miracle, which exhibits unfounded assumptions and false premises. He gives two definitions in different parts of his essay. The first is–”A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature.” The second is–”A miracle is a transgression of a law of nature, by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent.” Now both these definitions are bad or imperfect. The first assumes that we know all the laws of nature–that the particular effect could not be produced by some unknown law of nature [[p. 115]] overcoming the law we do know; it assumes also, that if an invisible intelligent being held an apple suspended in the air, that act would violate the law of gravity. The second is not precise; it should be “some invisible intelligent agent,” otherwise the action of galvanism or electricity, when these agents were first discovered, and before they were ascertained to form part of the order of nature, would answer accurately to this definition of a miracle. The words “violation” and “transgression” are both improperly used, and really beg the question by the definition. How does Hume know that any particular miracle is a violation of a law of nature? He assumes this without a shadow of proof, and on these words, as we shall see, rests his whole argument.

    The True Definition of a Miracle. Before proceeding any further, it is necessary for us to consider what is the true definition of a miracle, or what is most commonly meant by that word. A miracle, as distinguished from a new and unheard-of natural phenomenon, supposes an intelligent superhuman agent either visible or invisible;–it is not necessary that what is done should be beyond the power of man to do. The simplest action, if performed independently of human or visible agency, such as a tea-cup lifted in the air at request, as by an invisible hand and without assignable cause, would be universally admitted to be a miracle, as much so as the lifting of a house into the air, the instantaneous healing of a wound, or the instantaneous production of an elaborate drawing. My definition of a miracle therefore is as follows:–”Any act or event implying the existence and agency of superhuman intelligences,” considering the human soul or spirit, if manifested out of the body, as one of these superhuman intelligences. This definition is more complete than that of Hume, and defines more accurately the essence of that which is commonly termed a miracle . . .

    One does not have to agree with all that Wallace says, to see that he has some serious points, right out of the starting gates, and that his essay will well repay a serious reading. (I must note in particular, that he aptly summarises the precise pattern of behaviour that we can see above from objectors; including the attitude and assumptions that have latterly led to the absolutisation of the doctrine now known as methodological naturalism in science.)

    Further to this, I need to underscore that — ever since Plato — the proper contrast for empirical study is not “natural vs supernatural,” but as you have hinted at, “natural vs ART-ificial.”

    The artificial, or intelligently caused, is eminently suitable for empirical investigation on tested reliable signs, such as functionally specific complex organisation and associated explicit or implicit information [FSCO/I]. (Onlookers, kindly note the link to a context that warrants this summary claim.)

    The commonly encountered rhetorical insistence on a debate over natural vs supernatural is meant to appeal to precisely the attitude Wallace identifies and rebuts in the essay linked and clipped above. Design theory — as can be seen here in more details — is about the objective study of empirical signs of art, not signs of the supernatural, and it is applicable to designers that are a part and parcel of our common world, whether humans or beavers, etc.

    Someone will ask: What about supernatural designers? Doesn’t ID want to infer that the designer is Supernatural?

    From the very beginning of the modern design theory movement (read the epilogue here in TMLO by Thaxton et al in 1984, the very first ID work, a technical study of OOL on thermodynamics and related areas) it has been explicitly, repeatedly affirmed that the empirical evidence amenable to scientific investigation on origin of life does not warrant a conclusion as to whether the designers of the FSCO/I in the living cell comes from within or beyond the cosmos, though of course both are possible candidates. What it does warrant is an inference to design. But, as has been repeatedly said at UD, a molecular nanotech lab several generations beyond where Venter et al are, could do the job.

    Where an inference to design by a designer beyond the [observed] cosmos is made, is on the other side of ID.

    Namely, design of a cosmos finely tuned and set up at an operating point that facilitates C-chemistry, cell based aqueous medium life. A good place to start with on this is the fact that C and O depend on a particular nuclear resonance of +/- a few percent for their status as the third and fourth most abundant elements, and that water depends on a cluster of properties rooted in the core laws of the physics of our cosmos that allow a compound of H and O to have astonishing and unique properties.

    Multiply by the credible evidence that our cosmos had a beginning, and the logic of a necessary causal factor implicated by that coming to be, and we have to seriously and soberly consider design by an intelligence beyond the cosmos, who would have organised our cosmos to facilitate the sort of life we have.

    All of which BTW, are pointed out in summary and linked onward in the much derided, strawmannised and dismissed original post.

    GEM of TKI

  103. PaV,

    Excellent that you have picked up on free will. Schroedinger himself got trapped into this. However, to my knowledge his way out of this was pantheism, i.e. the other extreme as opposed to vulgar determinism. If we think further, there is no man either, just a collection of particles with no particular lasting meaning…

  104. Eigenstate,

    “atheism is a negation”

    It is a fallacy. Firstly, because it is claimed to be a well informed negation, which it is not in contrast to agnosticism. And secondly, atheism posits that the only measure of things is self. An unavoidable consequence of this is a clash of different self’s. A society initially containing a majority of atheists of good intentions, deteriorates into chaos more quickly than a religious society can do for obvious reasons.

    Fyodor Dostoevsky looked into morality and its substantiation quite deeply. Questions of morality and ethics concerned him a lot because he himself went through periods of agnosticism and even denials of God. He once wrote in his diary that most of his contemporary atheists were so superficial that he could not even compare the strength of their atheism with that of his own at certain times in his life. When he was young, he got involved in some anti-government activities for which he was prosecuted and sentenced to death. He was pardoned by the Tsar a moment before the execution which was replaced with five years’ imprisonment. If there is no God, there is no moral restraint, was the conclusion Dostoevsky came to. When he talks about these things he talks from immense personal experience.

    I totally agree with William J Murray on this. The point is that usually atheists do not analyse their world views hard enough. A lot of them are just spontaneous or non-systematic atheist who just do not care about these things. Of all categories of people, convinced atheists have the least right to question the validity of the views of others’ because they themselves do not believe in anything objective, be it purpose, meaning, morality, conscience, ethics.

  105. 105

    Eigenstate said:

    First, no warrant is neeeded for the premise.

    ….

    So, really, asking for warrant for this premise in practical terms just elicits a good laugh.

    But, I didn’t say one was needed for any practical purpose, nor did I ask you for it in “practical” context, but rather in a “is your worldview logically justified and consistent” context. I think we can agree that people can believe in all sorts of internally contradictory, foolish nonsense and it not impact them in any real, negative, practical way.

    Apparently, you don’t feel the need to check your worlview/beliefs for rational warrant, consistency, and coherency. You (again, apparently) feel free to believe isolated views, such as metaphysical materialism, atheism, and that humans can deliberately discern true statements about phenomena, without internally checking to see if those isolated beliefs are logically consistent.

    Unless one believes a human can supply an infinite regress of warrants (and I’d love to hear you explain the practicalities of that, if so!), you have to start somewhere.

    This is something of a straw man. Whether or not one can provide an infinite regress of warrant for their views is entirely irrelevant to providing a sufficient warrant that shows that particular beliefs are rationally consistent with each other (can be derived from the same warrant, or do not necessarily contradict each other). IOW, it is sufficient warrant to demonstrate time and motive for a suspect to have committed a crime; one needn’t go back and trace his actions and thoughts back to when he was born.

    After this, you go on to make a lot of self-serving (to your views) truth claims about what the real world “is”, and how it operates, and what humans are and do (from birth, no less), and their necessary functions and interactions, which really have nothing to do with the question at hand, because those statements depend on the capacity in question: your ability to deliberately discern true statements about phenomena. Using what you believe to be “true statements about phenomena” to justify your capacity or authority to make “true statements about phenmena” is circular reasoning.

    I asked for a rationally consistent warrant for the assumption, not a description of the functionality of the assumption, or a story about how humans come to that assumption or are born with it. If your answer is that you do not have worldview warrant for that assumption, then we have come to an understanding, and KF is ultimately right – you don’t provide worldview warrant for your views because part of your worldview is that no such warrant is necessary. If some of your beliefs or views are ultimately rationally inconsistent with each other, that doesn’t matter to you (correct me if wrong); what matters is that they at least appear to be functionally successful in your life (by whatever “success” model you apply).

    Which would hold true for any belief system – as long as it seemed to provide functional success (however the individual interprets “success”) for the individual holding it. IOW, the fundamentalist Muslim, the atheistic/materialist scientist, and the guy in the looney bin (under your argument) don’t have to rationally justify their views; what matters is that they feel like they are functionally successful.

    Correct?

  106. The structure of justification (warrant) in defending any propositional ‘truth’ claim IS* coherence, coherence is our only criterior for truth.

    Reason, the ability to think rationally, objectively, logically, is necessary for ‘revelation’ i.e., evidence, facts to be to be coherent.

    The ID, Uncommon Descent premise, is grounded IN* such foundational, rational, and logically derived aspects, that are woefully lacking in Evo Mat, as displayed in its adherents, whose priori commitment to atheism is a fallacy of illogical, incoherent, nonsense, pseudo-science to its blatant intellectual dishonest height!

    No matter how many of the false science ‘theories’ they come up with, the pain simple FACTS* of MILLIONS of FOSSILS, repeatedly speak in their eloquent silence, LOUDLY*, that WE* were all Created, that why, we ALL* appear FULLY FORMED, no ‘transitional’ forms will ever be found, as we did NOT* evolve, we were Created!

  107. Evolutionary Atheists, and those of their ilk, can rant on about Gish all they like, the salient irrefutable point that Gish brings out, is this:

    “The fossil record MUST PROVIDE the critical evidence for or against evolution, since NO* other scientific evidence can possibly throw light on the actual history of living things. ALL other evidence is circumstantial and can be more effectively explained (warranted) in terms of the Creation model. The time scale of human observation is far too short to permit documentation of real evolutionary change from lower to higher kinds of organisims at the present time. The vital question, therefore IS* Does the record of past ages, now preserved in the form of FOSSILS, shown any such changes have occured? The answer, UNEQUIVOCALLY is: The fossils say NO! There has been NO* evolution in the past any more than in the present. This important FACT* is conclusively demonstrated and documented by Dr. Gish in this book.” “EVOLUTION: the fossils STILL say NO!” Emphasis added.

    It boggles the mind, that these so-called scientists, who vehemently seek to defend this LIE* of evolutionary materialism, will resort to any unscientific means, to keep Almighty God out of the Universe He Created, and sustains, the evidence for which, is overwhelmingly supportive of such Creation, in a multiplicity of varied and extremely complex ways, right here on Planet Earth, that any intellectualy honest person, could not fail to recognize!

    But, such is the mind-set of rampant atheism, couched, vaneered, and convoluted in a maze of pseudo-scientific jargon!

  108. I’m curious why, if mind is disembodied, why a drug can prevent the formation of memory. Even a five year old can understand that if the mind is not the brain, that it should retain memories of things experienced, even if the brain is temporarily disabled.

    What is it that experiences and remembers?

  109. Also, why would an organ as large as our brain be required for something to animate our bodies?

    Couldn’t an immaterial mind just as easily manipulate something with a much smaller brain? (Say a snake or a donkey?)

  110. WJM;

    Well said, and thanks.

    Ironically, above, I had pointed out just how one can go about grounding a worldview, complete with a cluster of links. Try 9(a) in the original post, the tipsheet at 5 [with onward link on basics] that deals with the issue of grounding a system of argument and warrant, and again at 12.1

    Ignored in the rush to smear and dismiss the man.

    In sum, all human systems of reasoned thought must be finite, so they are grounded in first plausibles. These are basic, and the question is whether they are properly so. Thus, the tests of factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power, neither ad hoc nor simplistic. And, there are self-evidently true basic beliefs, which once one understand are seen to be so, must be so, and if denied the result obviously is absurd. On such one can build a sound worldview, including a basis for the scientific enterprise as a systematic frame for inductive albeit provisional knowledge. Cf here for a toolkit, here for the self evident basic beliefs technique, here on scientific methods, and here for a case in point.

    GEM of TKI

  111. Petrushka, why not look here in context at the interaction implications of the Smith Model, for starters? All models of mind have had to reckon with the bodily involvement since the first man got hit on the head or got drunk. That was a long time ago, before the likes of a Plato or an Aristotle, or an Aquinas or a Descartes. GEM of TKI

  112. Tone, please Zoe.

  113. It’s a cute diagram, but unresponsive to my question. Were is memory stored, and why does the disembodied mind not remember experiences under the influence of specific drugs?

  114. A related question is why, in animal experiments, can we see physical changes in neural connections as a result of learning, and why do these richer connections correlate with learning.

    That is, why do drugs that block the formation of these connections also seem to block the formation of permanent learning?

  115. Petrushka: As the model illustrates [via two-way, looped interaction . . . ], mind-brain interaction and resulting mutual influence is not the pivotal issue, the self-referential incoherence of physicalist notions of mind is, cf here. GEM of TKI

  116. An interesting bit of trivia:

    Using MRI scans you can tell the difference between a person who has learned a second language as a child and a person who learned a second language as after the age of 12. Even if both appear to be equally fluent.

    Is there something about the theory of a disembodied mind that explains or predicts that?

  117. You aren’t responding to my question. Where is memory located and why, if it is disembodied, is it affected by drugs that block the formation of changes in neural connections?

  118. P, I am pointing to interaction, and I am pointing to a self referential incoherence that consistently dogs physicalist models. Such models fail logically and must be false. GEM of TKI

  119. All models have unanswered questions. Your model adds a layer that doesn’t really explain anything and which fails to explain some easily observable phenomena.

    The monist model doesn’t explain the experience of consciousness, but it does handle observable brain changes resulting from learning, and it explains the results of drugs and brain injuries.

    Assertion of a disembodied mind has little or no Biblical support, since the only references to eternal life also assert the resurrection of the body. Why is that?

  120. P: The model is not mine — that’s why I speak of Eng. Derek Smith. Please read the notes, and you may want to look at the linked cybernetics work. This one is for real, towards building the beasties. And, when an argument is self-referentially incoherent, as are physicalist evolutionary accounts of mind, they are self-refuting and inescapably false. GEM of TKI

  121. F/N: on the theology side, since you want to go there, FYI we can start with the Biblical declaration, God is Spirit, and of course he is maker of the material world. Then, we can go on from there all day if you want. Your assertions run contrary to the textual facts that outline the historic Judaeo-Christian worldview.

    F/N 2: And, again, (a) mind-body interaction is all we need to address facts, and (b) the physicalist account refutes itself through self referential incoherence as linked. Start from the Haldane summary as a succinct outline.

  122. 122

    kf,

    I must disagree and assert that Petrushka’s statements are fully in line with what the Bible says and its writers believed, if not with the current ‘Judaeo-Christian worldview.’

    If you wish to discuss your religious beliefs, I’ll just have to drop back and be silent because I don’t want to debate the Bible in this or any other internet forum.

    I understand that perhaps you speak for “mainstream” Christianity. But if that is to carry weight, let’s not forget that Petrushka speaks for mainstream science.

    That’s my $.02. I think it’s better if we speak for our own religious beliefs rather than in generalities that unintentionally include others. That being said, I’m used to it and I honestly won’t even take offense if you do it anyway.

  123. Since no one can build an working model of a brain, it is a bit premature to talk about the deficiencies.

    Just modelling such mundane tasks as walking stretch the limits of high powered computers. Pattern recognition is very limited. It is still possible to distinguish between computers and humans with fuzzed up alphabets (although programs are gaining).

    But whether a particular disembodied mind model is yours or just something you accept, it needs to explain why memory formation seems dependent on the physical brain.

  124. I don’t speak for mainstream science. At best I speak from a layman’s understanding of mainstream science. I have degrees in experimental psychology and special education, so I have some formal training in learning theory. But my formal education is several decades old.

    I understand the conundrum posed by consciousness. I simply don’t think anything is added by shifting the problem to a hypothetical entity, particularly when the main Western religions don’t seem to offer any scriptural authority to the concept.

    The physical brain poses one large problem. Dualism poses a host of problems. Among them is the problem already pointed out that the physical structure of brains seems to correlate with the observed intelligence of individuals, whether the individuals are human or not.

    Flies are just as capable of organized movement and perception as humans, but have neurons numbering in the thousands. It seems like a five year old would notice that there’s something about big brains and temporal lobes that is required for hosting a mind.

    What is that, and why is the memory disembodied mind affected by drugs?

  125. SA,

    pardon, but I was simply responding to P’s assertion. The textual facts are as I summarised, and on the essential core points are common to historic Judaism & Christianity (recall, Christianity began as a messianistic sect of Judaism): God is Spirit, and is Creator of the material world we inhabit.

    If you REALLY want a slice or two from the specifically Christian scriptures to provide some documentation, first here is c. AD 62 Colossians:

    Col 1:15 He [The Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    The invisibility of God is of course linked to his spiritual and eternal nature. Cf 2 Cor, c. AD 55-7:

    2 cor 4: 17 . . . our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands . . .

    That should be enough to make the basic point, and if you need to understand the NT view on the resurrection of the body, cf 1 Cor 15.

    I have no desire to get into theological and exegetical debates here, just to point out that on pretty direct texts, P is not accurate to the historic view.

    Of course, you are free to hold your own view.

    G’night.

    GEM of TKI

  126. P: I draw attention to the hard problem of consciousness issue (cf. here onlookers for starters) to see how little we understand mindedness as we experience it; not to mention the a prioris commonly seen in the field. And BTW, if a sophisticated processor to do what the human body needs is fairly large, so what? We have already seen [and heard, cf audio at Youtube] why physicalist models fail: the are inescapably incoherent. GEM of TKI

  127. I’m sure you’ll post the last word on this topic, but I’ll just point out that it isn’t likely to have any bearing on my questions.

    Which are where is the memory stored in a disembodied mind, and why is memory affected by drugs that affect changes in the brain.

    Why can’t the mind look at a damaged brain the way we look at a damaged radio? Why does severing communication between hemispheres prevent one side from knowing what the other side is seeing? These are all basically the same question. I predict that regardless of how many words you post, you will not answer the question.

  128. 128

    kf,

    Petrushka’s statements were about the nature of physical men, not about the spiritual nature of God.

    What I meant is that if we give weight to “mainstream” Christianity, we should remember that the primary subject matter of this site is rejected by mainstream science.

    Trust me, I’m abundantly familiar with the teaching of the resurrection. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said the meek shall inherit the earth. (He was quoting the Hebrew scriptures.) Everyone he spoke those words to died. Did he speak the truth to them, or will they never inherit the earth?

    If the goal is to obtain a spiritual life then how would Adam and Eve and their descendants have achieved it? In order to be resurrected as spirits they would have to die, and in order to die they would have to sin. Sin is the price of death. It is a penalty, not the gateway to a reward. Had they not sinned, would they not be right here among us?

    There, I’m doing it again. Must. Stop.

  129. SA:

    First, P challenged the possibility of mind apart from body, which immediately implies the issue of the nature of God. And, the Judaeo-Christian worldview is theocentric, not anthropocentric.

    Indeed, the pivotal moment in the Creation narrative is when God breathes — spirit! [RUACH = breath . . ., cf. Jesus in Jn 3 on spirit/wind and the difference between realms of being] — into clay, making Man unique. In that context, the concept of being born from above/born again, is that of a spiritual transformation from without being contingent on penitent trust in God, then welling up within and flowing out in a different order of living that will seem inexplicable to those not so energised and transformed.

    Also, the resurrection is not as spirits, it is of transformed bodies, as 1 Cor 15 emphasises when it speaks of sowing and being raised in transformed form. Thus, we have the prototype, the firstfruits having a body that has novel properties — it is obviously of a different dimensionality.

    (BTW, that is where BA 77 is onto something when he talks of the quantum realm as strongly pointing to something beyond our commonsensical realm. At lay level, the quantum double slit experiment is particularly pregnant with pointers to a different dimension of reality, as say the Dr Quantum video introduces. And, just maybe, if that neutrino one cricket pitch too fast results hold up, they point to a short-cut through different, and extended dimensionality. I hardly need to say more than to underscore that for a generation, physical theories have been pointing to multidimensionality as they attempt to explain what is observed, string theory being notorious in this regard.)

    But, we see that the resurrected prototype is able to eat at supper, be inspected by probing his still fearsome but now powerless wounds, and he makes a roasted fish breakfast by the shores in Galilee.

    All of these point to a subtle complexity to the biblical worldview that after a generation or more of suppression of having some exposure to the thought world of the Bible in public education, and an increasing general secularisation, people are now by and large not aware of.

    I simply point to it, as matter of basic accuracy to the text.

    And, sorry, I don’t want to turn this into a philosophical theology and exegesis thread, so I will not go on and on on points.

    I hope a few sketchy pointers are enough to spark your own onward thoughts. Maybe, you will find this chart and this discussion on perhaps the first comprehensive theological declaration of the church, set in its C1 textual context (thus its historical roots), helpful. Note also the pivotal issues in the Creed and in the NT, as is discussed here. The creed of Nicea (326 and 381, it was slightly expanded after 50 years of debate) is in fact definitive of orthodox historic Christian faith, being the product of the first council that could meet, after the era of persecutions. And no, Dan Brown’s caricatures are just that, novelistic strawmen; contrary to his “Fact” declaration in the Da Vinci Code. (Cf also remarks here.)

    Note, the “spiritual resurrection” concept — and the pivotal errors of Bart Ehrman, Gerd [?] Ludemann et al — are discussed here. These scholars, in their zeal to promote the notion of a broad spectrum of early Christianities, to make room for their own contemporary heterodoxy, have unfortunately distorted the actual objective historic case. But, most laypeople, and not a few theology students [thus also, eventually, graduates . . . ], would not have the resources to see the corrective context. (Cf here on the underlying phil and history of ideas issues, paying particular attention to Linnemann and Yamauchi.)

    GEM of TKI

  130. P:

    Pardon, in trying to be brief, I seem to have been obscure to you.

    As I just noted to SA, your pivotal question above, last evening, was actually in the point where you said “if mind is disembodied . . . “ and later on “Assertion of a disembodied mind has little or no Biblical support . . . “

    This, immediately, implicates the issue of mind and matter, minds and bodies, and thus raises the underlying question of the Original Mind, God. It is in that context that I answered that side.

    On the side of the roles of different parts in an interactive structured whole, I pointed you to the Eng Derek Smith mimo cybernetic loop model [please read the discussion points], emphasisising in response at 30 above to your onward queries, that:

    As the model illustrates [via two-way, looped interaction . . . ], mind-brain interaction and resulting mutual influence is not the pivotal issue, the self-referential incoherence of physicalist notions of mind is, cf here.

    That reference to two way looped interaction shows that on “either” view, we are to EXPECT two-way influences, mind on body and body on mind. You will recall my reference to the first man knocked out by a blow to the head and the first man to get drunk, which both can directly affect memory.

    You will notice that the model exhibits two processors, an i/o in-the-loop controller, implemented in biological entities using neural networks. There is a higher order supervisory controller that is the locus for the creative, imaginative and purposeful. This reflects the paradigm of control engineering, where a process loop is set a target path by a set point that in a servosystem, tracks an intended path. (A useful example to bear in mind is an autopilot for a ship subjected to buffeting.)

    Adaptive systems have to adjust the i/o-process loop to circumstances. And int his case the use of proprioceptors allows sensing internal state and orientation in the environment, thus creation of an internal model integrated with a world model; which may or may not be accurate.

    Now, the obvious storage location is the brain, and it is to be noted that often loss of memory is loss of retrieval, not loss of storage. Of course storage can also be lost.

    Why should the brain not also be a major store for the common memory? Do you not see that this makes the issues you ask, in-common, not experimentum crucis issues that show differential and empirically distinct predictions?

    And yet, the architecture in question is a general purpose one that is rationalised on known MIMO loop behaviour and requisites, it is not ad hoc. It comes from the logic of dynamical control of a servosystem. (Smith’s online book is a great place to go for a useful, fuller discussion. I don’t need to agree with him down the line to see that he is onto something very important. You may also want to look at the more complex, complete from of the model. BTW, did they do a servosystems control course in your training? Just curious . . . )

    The servosystem view points out that mind-body and body-mind influences, including brain-mind interactions, are not where the pivotal questions lurk, despite what your education and its naturalistic orientation — this is the dominant school — would lead you to expect. The issue on empirically anchored warrant per inference to best explanation is not where we have in-common expectations, but where we have key DIFFERENTIAL ones. And those lurk not in interactions and questions of storage etc, but in the higher level issues: real purpose, real choices, real decisions, real responsibility, once we are dealing with humans.

    For, the loop is a structural phenomenon, under the control of its architecture and the forces involved, whether mechanical interactions down to ion flows in neurons, and the resulting muscular responses — actuators/effectors of the plant.

    The loop is a robot, a servosystem.

    (Remember, I actually believe that some form of an AI entity is possible, and that we may find a way to create something that is on the level of say a beaver within several decades; with transformational potential for industry and space exploration then colonisation. On my view we, beavers and monkeys etc are created intelligences, so there probably is a way to create an intelligence that is self-aware and operates on the level of instincts and built in knowledge bases, even maybe learnable ones. But I suspect we are going to have a much harder problem coming up with a programmed entity that makes real creative, irreducibly complex and non-algorithmic choices above coin-flipping equivalents and the last level of decision case structures in buried algorithms. We may also have problems matching some levels of capacity for intuitive perceptions and the spark of truly creative imagination and initiative. I am not even going to touch the question of conscious, qualitative experiences like the redness of a sunset! Other than to say the idea that software loops can somehow lead to “emergence” of consciousness seems to be conceptually deeply amiss. Such loops could help in sensor-effector systems, but that is worlds apart from conscious, creative awareness.)

    And if we think only in terms of the loop [and only think seriously in terms of one possible explanatory model . . . others being strawmannised], we are stuck in the loop of the program and the chance variations that affect it, we have no explanation for the intelligent, volitional direction of the entity.

    Which is precisely what say Crick said, as I will clip from points 13 ff in the linked reading:

    13 –> Some materialists go further and suggest that mind is more or less a delusion. For instance, Sir Francis Crick is on record, in his 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis:

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

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

    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 . . .

    This speaks exactly to the determinism and/or chance-necessity driven concept that leads to the reduction to self-refuting self-referential absurdity that I have kept on pointing to:

    _____________

    >> . . . This issue can be addressed at a more sophisticated level [[cf. Hasker in The Emergent Self (Cornell University Press, 2001), from p 64 on, e.g. here as well as Reppert here and Plantinga here (briefer) & here (noting updates in the 2011 book, The Nature of Nature)], 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. Also cf. Reppert's summary of Barefoot's argument here.]

    i: The famous evolutionary biologist 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.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    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.)

    l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity . . . >>
    ______________

    Does this help us see more clearly why I think the points you keep emphasising are not the pivot of the issue?

    With mind-body and body-mind (including brain-mind) interaction, we should not be surprised to see effects that are linked to that interaction. And, sadly, pathologies.

    To use a simple comparison, if you smash vital parts of a so-called smart phone, it will not work right, and the power of the invisible “cloud” network that allows the visible phone to carry out many of its feats will be crippled. Do we then infer that the cloud does not exist?

    Interaction is pivotal in any complex highly integrated system.

    Of course, we can see the network’s hardware. So the analogy is not perfect.

    But then, can we actually SEE the information proper (and not its symbols), or for that matter the energy proper, or the entropy proper?

    All of these are invisible and inferred from their effects.

    Let us therefore note Jesus’ response to Nicodemus in jn 3, and think on it as a philosophical matter:

    Jn 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

    3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.[a]”

    4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

    5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” . . .

    Again, we see the issue of inferential knowledge of the invisible, and the conceptual challenge of misunderstanding it from an incomplete perspective.

    But, such misunderstandings will show their inadequacies by being systematically unable to resolve the paradoxes and reducing to incoherence and factual inadequacy, despite the many patches that have been added time after time. So, let us pause to hear Chalmers on the hard problem of consciousness:

    The term . . . refers to the difficult problem of explaining why we have qualitative phenomenal experiences. It is contrasted with the “easy problems” of explaining the ability to discriminate, integrate information, report mental states, focus attention, etc. Easy problems are easy because all that is required for their solution is to specify a mechanism that can perform the function. That is, their proposed solutions, regardless of how complex or poorly understood they may be, can be entirely consistent with the modern materialistic conception of natural phenomen[[a]. Hard problems are distinct from this set because they “persist even when the performance of all the relevant functions is explained.”

    The wind is blowing . . .

    GEM of TKI

  131. Now, the obvious storage location is the brain, and it is to be noted that often loss of memory is loss of retrieval, not loss of storage. Of course storage can also be lost.

    This seems to answer part of my question. The drugs I refer to prevent the conversion of short term memory into long term memory.

    One of my wife’s uncles had a stroke that left him permanently unable to form long term memories. He could function pretty much normally, except that for 25 years he developed no new memories. He needed to be reminded from hour to hour that things had happened since his illness.

    He would wake up every day ready to go to his old job.

    I am forced to wonder how the mind fails to notice things like this.

  132. Scott,

    There is no vicious circularity in this. St Maximus the Confessor says that even if Adam had not sinned, the incarnation of the Son of God would have happened out of his love of man. I believe if Adam had not sinned, we would have already inherited the earth, so to speak. There would have been no death without sin in the universe. But man has gained in Christ more than he lost in Adam.

  133. P:

    A sad story, and not atypical.

    I have seen a very close relative shift her mind back 70 years and recall and recount to me with astonishing detail — indeed, relive — stories that were never told in such details while I was growing up, even as she is increasingly disoriented and disconnected in the present. And as she sees things in the present, there is for instance a confusion between a shiny floor and one wet with spilled water.

    I have seen others, much younger, who — having been taught and warned in inappropriate ways for them — perceive commonsensical situations in astonishingly warped ways.

    And, these cases underscore that our interpretations of the world are shaped by our perceptions, mediated through our bodies and conditioned by how we interpret. This is an interactive response. So what happens if for instance a man is temporally disoriented and looks at the lady following him as he wanders off and asks, lady, do you not know that I am a married man? (If he — being temporally disoriented — recalls his wife as she was 50 years past and not as she now is, what would be the effect? Just, as a suggestion.)

    Or, what would happen if a confused child has been inadvertently taught to perceive men as abusers; the intent had been to warn about the possibility of abuse, but because there was a lack of reasonable balance, a distorted view of the likelihood of abuse warps ability to respond appropriately.

    Similarly, I recall now the history of entire nations where communities seem to go collectively mad under the influence of real or perceived threats or crisis, hysteria, propaganda and bigotry they perceived as truth.

    And yet, for all of these cases, I have known of others where I have seen astonishingly perceptive responses, and tellingly insightful reasoning and sound action.

    So, I am highlighting that you are speaking of a special case of hallucination; where the issue is what is the difference between delusion and reality. And, how may we be confident that we are accurate in our thinking.

    Now, therefore, you need to ask, how is it, within “the modern materialistic conception of natural phenomen[a]“, we have any reasonable basis for thinking that we are not ALL caught up in hallucinations, including about our vaunted ability to reason and know?

    Recall, if our CNS’s neural circuits are programmed for/by survival and/or forces in our community and individual experiences tracing to chance and mechanical necessity only, then they are not oriented to truth. That is, we face the issue that the great evolutionary story is self-referential and leads to serious questions of incoherence.

    In short, I am directing your attention to the issues you seem to have consistently overlooked, as raised again just above on p.1

    I am beginning to think that WJM and Zoe have a serious point, that in our time we have lost a sense of the vital importance of coherency in our system of thought.

    Our thinking — scientific and otherwise — needs to be factually adequate across the range of relevant facts, it needs to be coherent and the explanations we accept need to be neither simplistic nor ad hoc.

    That is why I have directed attention to the pivotal issue, as is highlighted in the linked above on p. 1.

    GEM of TKI

  134. Now, therefore, you need to ask, how is it, within “the modern materialistic conception of natural phenomen[a]“, we have any reasonable basis for thinking that we are not ALL caught up in hallucinations, including about our vaunted ability to reason and know?

    I was taught there is a reason for the phrase “two or three gathered together.”

    The reason I was given is that community places checks and balances on thought, reducing the tendency of individuals to wander off the rails.

    Kind of a theological peer review.

  135. P: Please notice, I specifically pointed out how communities can also be caught up in a mass hysteria of delusion. The presence of a community does not allow escape from the issue of self-referentiality for the materialist. And, that is what the parable of Plato’s cave warns against. I suggest you look here at a different way to build up a worldview. GEM of TKI

  136. 136

    Eigenstate’s description of “methodological naturalism” and it’s limitations concerning what we call “supernatural”, and its subsuming of what we call “art”, seem to me to represent a fairly sound and open conceptualization that (1) embraces anything usually (and erroneously) wrapped in the nomenclature of “supernatural” but which has some kind of repeatable, observable effects, and (2)intelligently designed artifacts – which would include most of what people normally refer to as supernatural forces or entities.

    I think the meaningful problem is that there appears to be a significant bias in the mainstream scientific community and institutions, not against what is the technical definition of “supernatural” as proposed by Eigenstate above, but against inferences, conclusions and interpretations that refer to what are commonly considered to be “supernatural” agencies.

    In other words, theories (in the loose definition) about ID, god, ghosts, psi, OOBEs, soul, spirit, demons, karma, reincarnation, afterlife, etc. are perfectly acceptable in Eigensgtate’s world of scientific discovery (correct me if wrong) as long as thy produce repeatable evidence based on observable effects.

    They may be hard cases to make; there might be serious difficulty in establishing appropriate tests and protocols for interpretation; they might require new equipment or kinds of experiments. However, they are not ideologically off the table.

    Eigenstate says that in such cases the “Divine Foot” is not in the door (as per what I think is a much narrower-than-intended-by-Lewontin definition of Divine), but I think the ID community sees it differently; that is the only “divine foot” they cared about in the first place, scientifically speaking. To me, that is just a debate about whether or not the scientific leadership/office is pushing the kind of narrow definition of “supernatural” that Eigenstate refers to, or rather a broader version that includes all concepts traditionally associated with the “supernatural”.

    If “art” is (for this debate) considered to be a part of “nature”, then there is no reason ID is not in principle a completely scientific venture, even if it theorizes an intelligent “god” that is only recognizable via an observable pattern (even if aperiodic) of effects.

  137. I’m not commenting on NSTA. I’m saying that science can investigate the supernatural if it has effects that can be observed in the natural world. Like it investigates dark matter, even though it can only detect its gravitational effects on regular matter.

    In addition, regardless of whatever LEWONTIN says or you think he said, science is pretty good at handling new laws and forces. When a piece of photographic film was found to be mysteriously fogged, scientists investigated and we eventually had brand new forces (The week and strong nuclear forces) and a whole new field of science – radioactivity.

    Ditto for a mysterious glow caused by a discharge tube on the other side of the room. Roentgen didn’t say, “This must be supernatural!” He investigated the natural world and discovered x-rays.

    Einstein even showed that our ideas on such basic things as time and space were wrong and he came out of that pretty good, what with the Nobel Prize and worldwide acclaim and all.

    What LEWONTIN is saying is that if you try to think up supernatural causes of natural observations, hundreds of years of experience says you are wasting your time.

  138. eigenstate:

    Atheism is a religion in the same way not-collecting-stamps is a hobby.

    The Uninted States Supreme Court has ruled that atheism is a religion. YOUR opinion means nothing.

  139. 139

    Here again, I think that Eigenstate – as with his definition of “supernatural” – refers to a very narrow definition of atheism that, while it might be appropriate to his/her particular worldview arrangement, I think “atheism” is a much more involved and world-view-ish, religion-esque frame of belief reference for others.

    A larger, deeper, more involved atheism that consequently ridicules, personally attacks, denies, dismisses and maligns those who believe in god or other spiritual/non-material agencies, for no real account other than that they hold such beliefs, is a demonstration of a mere “lack of beliefs”.

    Let’s say a stamp collector and one who doesn’t collect stamps both served on a committee that had nothing to do with stamp-collecting. If in the course of a meeting about, say, city zoning ordinances, the non-stamp collector stood up and personally attacked with ridicule the hobby of his colleague as a reason why his opinion shouldn’t be listened to, or as a reason why his ideas about zoning were wrong, then there is more going on than a mere lack of stamp-collecting interest on the part of the non-collector.

    If atheists in the scientific commmunity did not refer to the supposed theistic beliefs or motives of ID advocates or young-Earth creationists with open, dismissive ridicule and even motive-mongering, but kept their arguments entirely about the facts, evidence, and research, then one might make the case that such scientists simply “lack” a belief in god.

    But Lewontin’s argument is not a worldview-neutral narrow focus about the limitations of observations and repeatable evidence; it directly and purposefully calls out certain beliefs (such the divine and demons) and characterizes them and other agencies normally associated with the term “supernatural” as irrational superstitions, as an “incorrect view”, as “untrue”, when he has no authority or reason to make such an association.

    This direct and uncalled-for characterization of such beliefs belies the attempt to whitewash Lewontin’s “meaning”; he was directly implicating that belief in god and demons are untrue superstitions and an incorrect view of the world and as things that only exist “in their imagination”.

    Lewontin’s intent is clear: to associate & characterize such particular beliefs as untrue, irrational, and incorrect regardless of any scientific evidence pro or con. Otherwise, he should have made his case without using such examples or pejorative terminology.

  140. 140

    Eugene S,.

    St Maximus the Confessor says that even if Adam had not sinned, the incarnation of the Son of God would have happened out of his love of man.

    There is no disciple named Maximus in the Bible. The apostles who did write the Bible specifically warned to be wary of the teachings that would come after them, not to give them equal weight with the scriptures.

    There would have been no death without sin in the universe. But man has gained in Christ more than he lost in Adam.

    It’s not a question of gain or loss. A work in progress was interrupted, and God saw fit to let to let the diversion run its course. But the scriptures indicate that God’s purpose to create an earth and populate it with happy, perfect people has never changed. That would amount to a failure on his part, an inability to complete what he began.

  141. WJM:

    The real issue is empirical observability of reliable signs of a given causal force or factor at work.

    I suggest a glance here, here and here at the newer post on that.

    Once we have a good inductive basis for inference on sign, we are in business. Which we do.

    Try out Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold.

    But the problem is that the prejudice against unwelcome signs and where they point will then come into play, e.g. digitally coded, algorithmically fundto0nal complex coded info is a reliable sign of design where we can directly observe it as a cross check. But to then infer that the living cell is full of DNA that meets this criterion and so should be seen as a work of art, will throw up the a priori materialism flags.

    Which means we do most likely have to resolve the underlying worldview a prioris issue. And in that your observation on the lack of inclination towards comprehensive coherence in thinking is significant, as Zoe also pointed out.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: ESt has allowed a 24 hour window to lapse without adequate response on a personality he raised; i.e. on p.1 he implied I was a liar and/or grossly irresponsible tantamount to lying, using the smear-term the Gish gallop (which is itself already a smear of Dr Gish). So, he has worn out his welcome in this thread and others I may have.

  142. St Maximus the Confessor is one of the greatest saints of Christian Church. His life is an uplifting reading. He defended the right doctrine about the two wills in the Person of Jesus Christ at the time of the Monothelite heresy. He had his tongue and right hand cut off to stop him from preaching. Of course, he did not say anything contrary to the teaching of the Church (and consequently of the Apostles), otherwise the Church would not have recognised him as saint.

    As to the point I am making, there is nothing (even a potential evil stemming from free willed creatures) can stop God from exercising Providence. God always directs evil that originates in sinful will towards good. Before he created If this is what you are saying, I agree with you on this point.

  143. It looks like part of my post did not make it from my head to the keyboard. Anyway, I was saying that before God created the world he already knew what would happen (i.e. the fall of demons and of man and the need for Redemption of the latter).

  144. There is no escape from being wrong. There are (or have been) thousands of religions and ideologies, and most, by logical necessity, are wrong.

    Aside from community, there is feedback over time, which can correct errors.

    But our view of reality will always be limited. What matters to most people is whether a view is useful. What matters to science is whether a view suggests avenues for research.

  145. I’ve seen you pound this for months, if not years, but have been unable to see any utility to your position.

    So someone is a materialist. So what? Physics has developed views of matter that shade into what used to be considered non-material. There are serious discussions of reality that make the “matter” into something more mathematical than the obsolete billiard ball metaphor of particles.

    The real point of Lewontin is that phenomena and theories describing phenomena must have entailments that suggest avenues of research.

    The relevance to ID is that one cannot apply the explanatory filter without ruling out natural explanations. It is the first and most important step in applying the filter.

  146. 146

    Eugene,

    From the Wikipedia page on Maximus:

    While Maximus was in Carthage, a controversy broke out regarding how to understand the interaction between the human and divine natures within the person of Jesus. This Christological debate was the latest development in disagreements that began following the First Council of Nicaea in 325, and were intensified following the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The Monothelite position was developed as a compromise between the dyophysitists and the miaphysists, who believed dyophysitism is conceptually indistinguishable from Nestorianism. The Monothelites adhered to the Chalcedonian definition of the hypostatic union: that two natures, one divine and one human, were united in the person of Christ. However, they went on to say that Christ had only a divine will and no human will (Monothelite is derived from the Greek for “one will”), which led some to charge them with Apollinarian monophysitism.

    What the heck are they even talking about? How does reading and understanding something like the gospels turn into this baffling techno-speak? The gospels are so rich in meaning and content, and they’ve turned it into an empty debate over whether Jesus had a divine will and a human will and invented a dozen new words in the process.

    Forgive me, but how did Christians survive and worship for years before someone invented the concept of a “hypostasis?” I’m a lifelong Bible student and I’ve never seen the word until now.

    He also wrote that Mary was a prominent figure in early Christianity. Do you know how many times she is mentioned in the scriptures after the gospels? I’ll leave it to you to count.

    All of these things pop up hundreds of years after the Bible was written. Some contradict it, some add questionable details, some place great importance on concepts never or barely mentioned in it, and most add a level of complexity and confusion that Jesus could not have possibly intended when he spoke in such simple, accessible terms.

    No offense, but I’ll take the Bible and leave Maximus.

  147. WJM: Unfortunately, it is not just Lewontin, it is a much wider pattern including influence of institutions that are driven by the sort of hostile agendas you described. The pattern of behaviour of say the US NSTA as is cited in the OP, is illustrative. Atheism as proposition, whether stated as active denial or promoted as passive form, is as a rule connected to a much wider worldview and socio-cultural agenda, including in the institutions of science and education. Professor Dawkins and his fellow New Atheists, regrettably, are capital examples in point. KF

  148. Why are you narrowing down “natural”? What grounds can we have in confining the “natural” to chance/necessity and their combination? Why is design excluded? Establishing design as a possible causal factor (in some scenarios the best causal factor known) is different from studying the designer.

  149. Is this any worse than tarring all non-believers as morally perverse, or tarring “Darwinism” with responsibility for Nazism?

  150. This direct and uncalled-for characterization of such beliefs belies the attempt to whitewash Lewontin’s “meaning”; he was directly implicating that belief in god and demons are untrue superstitions and an incorrect view of the world and as things that only exist “in their imagination”.

    I suspect that given a list of religions that have existed, you would agree that the majority are false and superstitious.

    But I tend to agree with your point. It is counterproductive to cast all religion as false and superstitious, just as it is counterproductive to malign the personal morality of all non-believers.

  151. 151

    Petrushka,

    There are plenty of sciences that seek non-natural explanations. A coroner who rules a death as a homicide is making a declaration that the cause of death was non-natural, even though he may not have complete information regarding the who, how, or why of the cause.

    The relevance to ID is that one cannot apply the explanatory filter without ruling out natural explanations. It is the first and most important step in applying the filter.

    That doesn’t make sense. If the first step to applying the explanatory filter was to rule out natural explanations, what other steps would there be? The first step to performing any test, including ID, is never to assume the outcome. That negates the concept of a test.

    The reverse is true, though. The first step to explaining anything biology is to arbitrarily rule out any design or intent. They just don’t call it a “step” because it’s taken for granted.

  152. 152

    Yes, and this is why what you do here is important. IMO, people like Eigenstate and perhaps Dr Liddle have relatively passive and benign atheistic perspectives, but theirs is not representative of the more aggressive atheistic/materialistic view that marginalizes, disimisses, and ridicules those who hold theistic beliefs.

    This generalized and pointed attack on religion and theism from the scientific community outwards into other social areas enables and authorizes the deliberate disenfranchisment of people with religious beliefs. Many people who visit forums like this, or are engaged in other public and media venues, consider it their obligation to ridicule and harass the religious as part of a social obligation to drive or weed out incorrect thinking – just as Lewontin admonished, as if it is a scientific fact that there is no god, no afterlife, no soul and no sin.

    This is a deeper cultural, worldview movement than a simple, isolated “lack of a belief”, or which can be likened to “stamp collecting”. Such comparisons and such atheistic apologetics, IMO, ignore and enable the larger problems we face as atheistic materialism as a deeper worldview becomes more pervasive and affects more and more aspects of our entire culture.

    Also, those who have not entirely thought out the ramifications of their worldview, and whether or not it is rationally justifiable, might want to think it through more completely before defending or advocating it. While some might not advocate or defend in particular the more aggressive forms of atheism & materialism, their apologetics and apparently unconsidered (in terms of warrant & consequence) advocacy of such concepts into the social community nonetheless makes them in their part culpable for the ramifications.

    One might consider that there might be a reason why many of the great atheistic and materialistic philosophers succumbed to nihilistic despair & suicide. Because one injects a more benign version of the same spiritual (or mental) poison into society doesn’t mean it isn’t doing damage. There are consequences to the ideas we advance to others.

  153. 153

    I suspect that given a list of religions that have existed, you would agree that the majority are false and superstitious.

    No, I would not. Be careful what you assume. What I would say is that they are all subjective attempts to model a very difficult-to-understand, objectively existent commodity (or set of commodities).

  154. I suppose then, that since Folks here tend to assert that Darwinism and atheism are religions, they fall into the category of “subjective attempts to model a very difficult-to-understand, objectively existent commodity (or set of commodities).”

    Do you personally make any qualitative distinctions among the various subjective attempts? Are they all equally valid?

  155. Scott,

    “Forgive me, but”

    That’s fine. It is a usual misunderstanding. Please don’t think I am proselytising. Here is what I think on this point. By the word Church I mean the Orthodox Christian Church. It is not my purpose to hurt anyone’s religious sensitivities but I have to witness when asked (1 Peter 3:15-16).

    Basically, the only purpose of theology is responding to distortions of faith that always happened in history. There would have been no need to “invent” anything, had there been no “fables” or heathen teachings invented/reintroduced, e.g. gnosticism. The Church, being a living organism, the mystical body of Christ that has both divine and human (and therefore sinful) elements, has reacted to “infections” in this way. Many ancient heresies were in fact attempts to distort Divine Revelation about Christ, who is both man and God, One of the Holy Trinity. So was the case with Monothelites.

    As regards doctrine, the only thing I will say here is that what appears to be a small detail, can have huge implications in spiritual life. For me, as an Orthodox Christian, it is the Church which is the authority, not feeble human reasoning. BTW, the concept of Biblical authority is taught by the Church from day one, i.e. the day of Pentecost AD 33.

    In Orthodox Christian tradition has it that the only possible way to correctly interpret the Scriptures is by actually living in the Church guided by the Holy Spirit.

    The Church planted by Christ and the Apostles has been around continuously for nearly two millennia now. What was then as tiny as a mustard seed is now a big tree bearing fruit, uncountable saints throughout the world.

    I value the opportunity to speak to you and other commenters here on this blog. My primary interest here is of course ID related questions.

  156. 156

    If you mean that Darwinism and Atheism are “subjective attempts to model …”, yes – they are both subjective (by individual or groups) attempts to model empirical facts (objective commodities, or commodities assumed to be objective) into a descriptive or explanatory model.

    I personally assign relative validity of such models by means of evaluating how well the model comports with fact & evidence, and by judging the rational warrant, coherency, consistency, and the logical consequences of the model or belief.

    That doesn’t mean that any beliefs are factually true or false – that’s just how I weigh relative validity.

  157. I suspect that most people are interested in factuality, at least in the sense that legal cases are decided by preponderance of evidence.

    Truth and falseness are attributes of logical deductions, but their factuality is completely dependent on premises.

    I still suspect you are trying to avoid admitting that you personally judge some religions as having a better factual or evidential basis than others.

    I haven’t met anyone yet who thinks that all religions are equally supported by evidence.

  158. That doesn’t make sense. If the first step to applying the explanatory filter was to rule out natural explanations, what other steps would there be?

    The first step is the rule out necessity or lawful behavior. For the last century or so, lawful behavior includes statistical aggregates. Population genetics is a way of dealing with the statistical aggregate of random genetic change.

    This is the area that is amenable to research. this is what occupies the research efforts of evolutionary biologists.

    What makes no sense is taking the current state of a system and ignoring the processes involved in reaching that state.

    One might as well ask, in a criminal investigation, what are the chances that a specific individual was in a specific location at a specific time, and compute the odds by making a four dimensional grid and counting the total possible locations.

    Ignoring whether the suspect was last seen in the general vicinity.

  159. 159

    I still suspect you are trying to avoid admitting that you personally judge some religions as having a better factual or evidential basis than others.

    Some do. That doesn’t mean they are true.

    I haven’t met anyone yet who thinks that all religions are equally supported by evidence.

    And you still haven’t. That’s not what I said or even what I implied. Because one theistic view is better supported by evidence and logic doesn’t make the other one (1) not true, and doesn’t make it (2) a superstition.

    Just because the general theory of relativity is a more substantiated and applicable theory than classic Newtonian physics doesn’t render Newtonian physics (1) untrue or (2) a superstition. They are models that attempt to describe what we take as an objectively existent commodity (or set of commodities).

    IMO, being right or wrong about one’s particular religious doctrine has about the same effect as being right or wrong about which general theory of physics is true (probably where I break ranks with many others here): not much, until you get into the deeper stuff. What matters is that one doesn’t try to fly off a cliff or build a tower while ignoring structural integrity and support considerations.

    Or, on the other side of the analogy, what matters is that you don’t round up Jews and herd them into gas chambers or beat up little old ladies for their social security checks. That’s all the theistic theory you need to get by, for the most part, and you don’t need an advanced degree to figure that out.

  160. On the contrary P:

    The real point of Lewontin et al is contempt-laced (as in, you must be ignorant, stupid, insane/irrational or wicked to disagree . . . ) ideological a priori materialism imposed in the name of science, which it keeps captive to its agenda. And I think that should be plain enough to those looking on who are not in denial and are not afraid to see what their eyes and basic knowledge of English tell them is going on.

    Nor is this sort of attitude new, as Wallace informs us, 140 years ago it was advanced in the name of good education and soundly skeptical philosophy.

    2350 years ago, Plato warned about much the same — as can be seen in the original post.

    GEM of TKI

  161. I haven’t met anyone yet who thinks that all religions are equally supported by evidence.

    Most people don’t think it through. It’s also not considered politically correct. But how can anyone live their life according to a set of beliefs and not believe that someone else who believes the opposite is wrong? It’s not about being dogmatic or not being humble. But by nature, to believe that something is true means believing that what contradicts it is false.

    I’ve heard some clever rationalizations, but it seems self-evident.

  162. P:

    Re: one cannot apply the explanatory filter without ruling out natural explanations

    Kindly look here.

    You will see that the first step of using the EF is to rule IN chance and/or necessity and/or agency as POSSIBILITIES.

    In short, once one considers an object, phenomenon or process, one must be OPEN to the range of known causal factors, and must not use a priori censorship.

    Then, the first default possibility is mechanical necessity showing itself in lawlike regularity. So, under similar initial conditions, with low contingency, we predictably/reliably get similar outcomes. That low contingency and predictability allow us to identify laws, and then to embed empirical laws in wider explanatory frameworks. Think Brahe –> Kepler –> Newton –> Einstein.

    Under other circumstances, similar initial conditions lead to widely varying outcomes. That rules out lawlike regularities, and rules in chance and/or choice. If these varied outcomes follow the sort of patterns sampling theory predicts for a stochastic distribution, then the best explanation for that aspect of the phenomenon, process or object, is a stochastic process, like say the Maxwell Boltzmann distribution for an ideal gas. Sample the molecules shooting out of a collimator and we get a speed distribution with an asymmetric bell-like shape.

    Similar initial conditions, variable outcomes, on a distribution where certain clusters of outcomes are far more likely than others. We then go on to model the distribution and underlying dynamics.

    But what if we have outcomes that come from separately describable narrow zones of possibilities that a reasonable stochastic model and/or sampling theory will tell us are quite unlikely to be observed by chance on available opportunities, but are very feasible by choice?

    For instance the sequence of glyphs in this post are utterly unlikely to be a contextually responsive message in English by chance [notice the separate specification], but could easily be so by choice. This points to how FSCO/I is an example of a strong sign that points to design as best explanatory causal factor.

    I need not elaborate much on how, such is foundational to the existence of DNA-driven cell based life, starting from OOL and the associated von Neumann self replicator. Using the same like causes like reasoning that geologists etc use, we have every epistemic right to see such FSCO/I as a sign that points to design.

    GEM of TKI

  163. “The real issue is empirical observability of reliable signs of a given causal force or factor at work. ……. Once we have a good inductive basis for inference on sign, we are in business. Which we do.

    Try out Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold.”

    Still waiting for that example of design: that is, a single example of non-human biological design that exceeds the threshold at once. Otherwise, ID is unobserved and you have nothing on which to draw your inference.

  164. Intelligence acing by choice could well be within the observable cosmos in many cases of interest.

  165. Dr Rec:

    Humans are intelligent, and so are beavers [as has been pointed out for some time now . . . and BTW, construction notoriously kills builders], as well as several other engineering creatures. Humans do not exhaust the set of observed intelligent designers.

    GEM of TKI

  166. But you yourself conclude ants, termites, and ” beaver’s genome plainly has in it a program that gives dam building instructions and associated knowledge.”

    I also think there is a HUGE difference between an imaginative, creative act of design, and a termite colony executing a genetic program. It is akin to development. My genome has fsci. It does not have much more or less fsci than my parent’s. MY development was the execution of a genetic process, not a act of creative and imaginative design on my part. Simple observing me and my genome is NOT an observation of fsci over the universal probability bound arising at once.

    So the observation you need isn’t in the beaver’s dam (what, btw, is the calculated fsci of that?), but in the genes that give rise to the behavior. Which, could have gradually arisen over time, without exceeding the universal probability bound and causing a design inference.

    I think the issue here is that you observe design, say in my writing. ID. Then you infer ID in biology without having ever actually observed it.

  167. Dr Rec:

    Pardon, the matter at stake is an origins science one.

    Thus, we NEVER actually observe the past of origins. The task is to reasonably reconstruct on signs and the dynamics they point to. Across ALL domains of origins studies, so a selectively hyperskeptical objection is a red flag.

    And, the design of genomes is now something we have had proof of concept on for a generation, it is even a matter of public debate.

    We know the observed source of FSCI, we see FSCI, we know on good analysis that complex specifically complex code is unlikely indeed to arise by blind processes, and the matter should rest there as a no brainer.

    That it is contentious has to do with entrenched attitudes and ideologies, not evidence.

    And, that we are genetically programmed to be intelligent does not suddenly make us not intelligent. Just so with beavers.

    Just, this points out that we are secondary intelligences, i.e. we are the result of a design. That is what has the materialists in lab coats in a tizzy.

    GEM of TKI

  168. You will see that the first step of using the EF is to rule IN chance and/or necessity and/or agency as POSSIBILITIES.

    But that was done by Darwin and extended over the past 150 years by tens of thousands of biologists.

    We have the agency. We’ve observed it. We’ve put it under the microscope. We’ve observed it in carefully controlled experiments. We’ve calculated how quickly it makes and fixes changes in populations. We’ve compared this to the number of differences between cousin organisms and reconciled it with the time available for divergence.

    Everyone who has done the math, including Behe, Michael Denton and Shapiro, accepts common descent and incremental change. A few people like Behe cite isolated islands of function for which we have no confirmed detailed incremental paths.

    What we don’t have are instances where 500 bits of change have occurred in one step.

  169. Actually, worldviews (including “religious” ones) as a rule will not be wholly false or wholly true. One has to specifically assess the framework of claims and the way they are put together. I MAY THINK PLATO’S DEMIURGE IS MISTAKEN, BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT HIS PARABLE OF THE CAVE CAN SIMPLY BE BRUSHED ASIDE OR THAT HIS ANALYSIS OF MATERIALISM IS UTTERLY WORTHLESS.

  170. Petrushka,

    sorry, but design is effectively ruled out a priori by appeal to anti-supernatural prejudice, as Lewontin so plainly documents as just one example of a widespread pattern.

    And the way Darwin et al discussed design was effectively the same, including he way that say Paley’s time-keeping, self replicating watch (as in read on to Ch II . . . ) seems to have slipped off the radar screen, in a rhetorical move that looks a LOT like setting up a strawman.

    Paley may have over-read his evidence in his argument [design of life on earth by itself does not implicate design of that life by God], but the issue of design he raised for the self-replicating watch needs to be seriously considered.

    KF

  171. 171

    DrREC,

    Wow, this gets tangled. Not only do you have to have to explain a developmental pathway for the evolution of a beaver, but also the developmental pathway for the evolution of the dam. The beavers must experience genetic variations that slightly alter their dam-building methods in ways that improve the dams in ways that result in differential reproduction for the beavers that built them. The dams themselves become subjects of trial-and-error experiments, all carried out by unreasoning creatures that started out with no intent to build a dam or the capacity to imagine one or the benefits of having one.

    That’s really steep.

    But beavers build dams in groups, so the individual beaver that varies in a manner that innovates some improvement in the dam-building process actually benefits all the beavers in the group equally, not just itself, making it problematic for its own variation to outreproduce others.

    How might this have begun? Once upon a time did a beaver develop a mutation that caused it randomly chuck a log into a stream, which somehow resulted in differential reproduction? How far must we veer off the path of science to even imagine such scenarios? I don’t think anyone even has imagined them, and I’d be extremely impressed by even that.

  172. 172

    kf,

    True, but most religious views invoke God as their source, not Plato.
    One could argue, for example, that one book of the Bible is valid, another is not, another is partially, while one interpretation is mostly correct, another less so, and so one. That’s how many people view it.

    But in doing so, they inadvertently imply that if God has ever intended to reveal any coherent purpose, laws, prophecies, or understanding of himself, that he has failed. He is incapable of it. He gave it his best, but people got hold of it and God is just no match for that.

    How can we not attribute that ability to God while crediting him with the creation of the universe?

  173. 173

    Pethruska,

    We have the agency. We’ve observed it. We’ve put it under the microscope. We’ve observed it in carefully controlled experiments.

    This is unsubstantiated and begging the question. You are asserting your conclusion. The extrapolation you would have us follow is not warranted. That’s subjective, true, but there’s no basis for closing the book and basing the history of biology on the sort of observations you mention.

    We’ve compared this to the number of differences between cousin organisms and reconciled it with the time available for divergence.

    Not having observed it, one can hardly run ahead and begin calculating how long it takes.

    You’re calculating how fast the car can go based on how far it has to travel and how long it has to get there, but we have yet to see it start the engine and drive around the block, and the only evidence that it moves at all that it rolls downhill.

    Besides – whales?

  174. SA,

    I cited Plato as an example of a religious worldview, one that happened to be set in the context of his dualistic, idealistic philosophy.

    If you want to take a look at specifically Bible based theism, you may want to look look here on for a worldviews based way to approach the matter. This may help give some other sides of the story that you may have seen in newsmags etc on modernist theologies.

    KF

  175. SA, you are right, an empirically warranted evolutionary path to successful dam building (complete with decision nodes on gravity vs arch dams) would be a natural selection nightmare because a dam is an integrated, interactive whole. It would be a whole lot easier to see someone building a keystone flood control species maybe modifying a more generic rodent to do so, and putting it in place to do its job. KF

  176. 176

    kf,

    I suppose whatever a person believes could be called their “worldview.” But I don’t want to construct a worldview. If I do, the very best I can hope for is my own worldview. I can’t believe that God gave us the Bible so we could each read it and construct a worldview. That’s just aiming too low.

  177. 177

    I would recommend that anyone who imagines such things evolving learn software development and robotics and build the simplest possible dam-building machine that can analyze its working space, gather materials, and construct a dam. Forget all the hard stuff like reproduction, metabolism, etc.

    Now take the information content of the software alone – forget the content required to assemble the machine itself – and there’s a rough idea of how much information is required for beavers to build dams.

    Having done so, I would like to see whether that person could still imagine an evolutionary pathway to a similar result.

  178. William J Murray,

    One more try, and really just a burst — annoying to have something you take time to write just get silently disappeared, so won’t invest anything more than to say “nice discussing things with you”, and it would be nice to continue, or bat around other topics in a more grown-up environment some time.

    eigenstate

    {EIGENSTATE: this is yet another snide suggestion, and more reason why you are asked again never to post again in this thread or any other that I post. FYI, I have not removed any comments you have put in this thread, silently or otherwise. For cause, I have pointed out that you have worn out your welcome, as you have an unresolved false accusation on the table that you refuse to deal with responsibly and have therefore shown you the door in defence of civility and a non-poisonous atmosphere. And, FYFI, there is a known problem with posting at UD with the new design, if you mistakenly click on REPLY, your post will go to the wrong thread, almost certainly. In addition, occasionally [rarely, but it happens], posting simply fails, and posts vanish into the netherworld of cyberspace for reasons probably best known to the designers of WordPress and/or Akismet, so it would be wise to save comment posts elsewhere before posting, if you cannot bear to have that occasionally happen. If you have been placed in moderation or have been banned by UD’s mods or have had a post that is specifically out of order removed by the mods, for something I do not know of, that is not anything to do with my regulation of this thread; where for cause I have simply invited you to leave, as you have crossed the border of civility; which hint, plainly, you have not taken. Now, unless you are willing to responsibly resolve the problem of your false accusation by use of a smearing term (and no, doubletalk tactics of pretending here that the namecalling smear term “Gish gallop” does not imply an accusation of willful deception will not solve the problem); kindly, leave now and do not return again to this or any other thread that I put up. Good day, sir. KF}

  179. DrREC:

    Then you infer ID in biology without having ever actually observed it.

    Dude, if we directly observed design in biology happening we wouldn’t need to infer it from the evidence left behind, duh.

    Archaeologists infer design because of the evidence left behind and their knowledge of cause and effect relationships. They did not observe Stonehenge being built.

    Cause and effect relationships-> we base the design inference on our knowledge of cause and effect relationships.

  180. J, Well said.

  181. Pathetic.

    “Archaeologists infer design because of the evidence left behind and their knowledge of cause and effect relationships. They did not observe Stonehenge being built”

    Right, they infer design, based on 1) evidence of left behind and 2) based on analogy to other human designs.

    Without those OBSERVATIONS they would not be able to draw that inference.

    And with the thousands of genomes sequenced, all biology at your hand, you don’t have a single biological OBSERVATION to warrant your INFERENCE of design. Do we need to have a discussion of inductive reasoning?

    What we do observe is evolution producing small amounts of information at present. We observe genomic sequences and perform sequence comparisons. We infer the processes and changes that occurred.

    Pop quiz: what is statistical inference based on? Quantitative data or bloviating?

  182. Dr Rec:

    Pardon, but in fixating on biology, you overlook the existence of discrete-state, thus digital, algorithmically functional, coded information in the systems. It is that information that needs to be causally explained, and it points to the only empirically known, credible cause for such.

    And, the strained, selectively hyperskeptical nature of the objections being made to a billions of test cases observational basis backed up by the same fundamental analysis that grounds the statistical form of the second law of thermodynamics will prove in the end self-defeating.

    For, the only credible scientific way to reconstruct a remote, unobserved past beyond record is to observe causally adequate processes in the present, and their characteristic signs. Symbolic text that implements algorithms is a classic product and sign of intelligent cause. And so, a comparison to Stonehenge is precisely apt on the challenge of scientific reconstruction of the remote and unobserved past.

    And so also, we can easily see that it is your strained objections to a base of billions of cases that, if anything, is “bloviating.”

    Good night.

    GEM of TKI

  183. “Pardon, the matter at stake is an origins science one.
    Thus, we NEVER actually observe the past of origins.”

    Strange, when you keep saying things like: “The real issue is empirical observability of reliable signs of a given causal force or factor at work.”

    Are you equivocating between human design and biology again?

    “The task is to reasonably reconstruct on signs and the dynamics they point to. Across ALL domains of origins studies, so a selectively hyperskeptical objection is a red flag.”

    Reconstruction? Based on what observation in nature?

    “And, the design of genomes is now something we have had proof of concept on for a generation, it is even a matter of public debate.”

    For a generation? Reliable DNA sequencing, synthesis and PCR are in this generation. Venter’s copying (NOT DESIGN) or a genome was not exactly last generation. No human has designed a genome.

    “We know the observed source of FSCI”

    In biology? What is it?

    “we see FSCI, we know on good analysis that complex specifically complex code is unlikely indeed to arise by blind processes, and the matter should rest there as a no brainer.”

    No, no, no. The only calculations you’ve ever attempted say fsci over a certain threshold warrants a design inference. Smaller amounts have been observed to arise. And to be clear, these are estimates of fsci present, as no one has probed the entire sequence space of a protein. Your reference’s estimates place whole proteins and enzymes below the threshold you set.

  184. “Pardon, but in fixating on biology,”

    Ha! Isn’t that what we’re talking about?

  185. SA,

    “I can’t believe that God gave us the Bible so we could each read it and construct a worldview. That’s just aiming too low.”

    Absolutely agreed, but I don’t believe that’s what KF is saying regarding for example, Plato. When one reads the Bible, a worldview comes forth that causes one to reject Plato’s Demiurge, but does not necessarily cause one to reject his parable of the cave. I suppose there might be some staunch parable of the cave rejectors among Christians and/or Jews, but such a rejection is not necessarily supported in scripture. People form other traditions by scripture that might cause one to reject the parable of the cave. However, anyone reading and obeying scripture is going to reject a Demiurge, no matter what their tradition is.

    A Demiurge is not presented in the Bible on not just close examination, but on summary examination.

    So people choose what they want to believe from the Bible despite what the Bible says. That in no way indicates that the Bible does not manifest a particular worldview, but that the person reading into it contrary beliefs manifest a particular worldview; and quite often they desire to twist the Bible into agreeing with their particular worldview. Some even rewrite versions of the Bible to reflect their particular view.

    Others hold the Bible as the basis for their worldview to such an extent that upon closer examination of difficulties, are prepared to readjust their worldview to accommodate (and more importantly, obey) what the scriptures state.

    But there IS a particular worldview that is formed from reading, understanding and obeying according to scripture. Quite obviously it is not atheism, but it is not a lot of other things as well.

  186. 33.1.2.1.3 ScottAndrews2

    Realize bever behavior isn’t that complex. They react to the sound of rushing water by trying to use mud and sticks to silence that sound. They will even do it to a speaker. This is why if you ever have to drain a bever pond, you do it from the bottom!
    http://www.lrconline.com/Exten.....df/bvr.pdf

    Suppose this response to running water evolved to stop drowning of beavers in lodges-in a time with apple watery swamps. Then, as a drier period emerged, beavers that were somewhat more pathological in damming streams found themselves with enriched habitats-more food etc. As adolescent beavers are forced out and build their own dams and lodges , those with the most abundant habitats-better food, better protection from predators experience greater reproductive success.

    Since bevers aren’t genetic lab animals, this is hard to test. But, in other animals, genetic and biochemical investigations, coupled with evolutionary histories inferred from sequence comparisons are proving fruitful.

  187. “a billions of test cases observational basis”

    Billions? Of cases of fcsi arising over the universal probability bond? Billions of organisms? Or of nucleotides?

    Remember: there are billions of humans with billions of cells. None require a design intervention, as none have fsci greater then the universal probability bound more than their parents. So no observed design. And no organism I know of has more than the universal probability bound of fsci more than its predecessor. So this little critique of yours seems to have nothing to do with evolution.

    “backed up by the same fundamental analysis that grounds the statistical form of the second law of thermodynamics will prove in the end self-defeating.”

    Why don’t you provide that analysis for one of those cases?

    It is interesting to see the abandonment of ID as a critique of evolution. At best, If I granted the genome is what you claim it is (I don’t really want to rehash that), you have a weak thought about abiogenesis that goes:

    1) The genome has X
    2) We have no idea how X came about, but humans do X-ish things
    3) Design, until someone shows X through natural processes (which is getting closer to viable)

  188. Not having observed it, one can hardly run ahead and begin calculating how long it takes.

    Not having observed what? We have innumerable studies of mutation rates. We have evidence from domesticated plants and animals. We have lots of documented changes from wild varieties.

  189. DrREC:

    And with the thousands of genomes sequenced, all biology at your hand, you don’t have a single biological OBSERVATION to warrant your INFERENCE of design.

    Of course we do.

    Start at the letter “A”- as in ATP synthase:

    The ATP Synthase is a system that consists of two subsystems-> one for the flow of protons down an electrochemical gradient from the exterior to the interior and the other (a rotary engine) that generates ATP from ADP using the energy liberated by proton flow. These two processes are totally unrelated from a purely physiochemical perspective- meaning there isn’t any general principle of physics nor chemistry by which these two processes have anything to do with each other. Yet here they are.

    How is this evidence for Intelligent Design? Cause and effect relationships as in designers often take two totally unrelated systems and intergrate them into one. The ordering of separate subsystems to produce a specific effect that neither can do alone. And those subsystems are composed of the ordering of separate components to achieve a specified function.

    ATP synthase is not reducible to chance and necessity and also meets the criteria of design.

    OTOH your position doesn’t have anything- not even a methodology for determining blind, undirected processes didit.

  190. DrREC:

    Remember: there are billions of humans with billions of cells. None require a design intervention, as none have fsci greater then the universal probability bound more than their parents.

    ID does not require any intervention other than to set-up the initial conditions.

    It is interesting to see the abandonment of ID as a critique of evolution.

    ID is not anti-evolution and Newton’s First Rule mandates all design inferences must first eliminate stochastic processes.

    1) The genome has X
    2) We have no idea how X came about, but humans do X-ish things
    3) Design, until someone shows X through natural processes (which is getting closer to viable)

    More like:

    (DeWolf et al., Darwinism, Design and Public Education, pg. 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.

  191. Having done so, I would like to see whether that person could still imagine an evolutionary pathway to a similar result.

    Even more difficult imagining a design pathway that doesn’t involve incremental evolution of the design.

  192. “ID does not require any intervention other than to set-up the initial conditions.”

    When? First life, the big bang? You’re punting deeper into the past, with vaguer stories about how it must be, because you say so.

    “ID is not anti-evolution”
    Right. And it can’t be because it fails utterly as a critique of evolution. A hunch about biogenesis is all it is now.

    “and Newton’s First Rule mandates all design inferences must first eliminate stochastic processes.”

    And you think you’ve exhaustively done so? How?

    I think my summary and your link are identical. A weak hunch about origins. There is no logic in the statements-they lead with their conclusions.

    ATP synthase is composed of subunits with homology to other proteins. Several pathways for the evolution of it and precursors have been proposed and are being tested. The notion that “these two processes are totally unrelated” ignores that the processes are physically coupled.

    “OTOH your position doesn’t have anything- not even a methodology for determining blind, undirected processes didit.”

    We can and do observe randomization plus selection producing new functionalities.

  193. Dr Rec:

    It is evident that you have again unfortunately overlooked the material relevance of another scientific context, as Joseph has pointed out.

    As the philosophers and historians of science will remind us, one of the most powerful empirical tests of scientific claims is when we discover that a bridge has opened to another hitherto unrelated domain of well-established study. For, at that point, ideas from each domain are forced to face empirically validated results from the other.

    For, the truth is going to be coherent across all contexts, whilst that which may be believed plausible in one field but which is not reasonable in light of well established findings for other areas of study, will come under serious scrutiny.

    Actually, this is trivially so when we see that if a finding is mathematically unsound or logically incoherent, it is disestablished.

    Similarly, the geocentric theory ran into insuperable difficulties once it was reliably seen, by use of the telescope, that Jupiter had at least four orbiting moons, constituting a model solar system in miniature. For, if the telescope was reliable enough to spot ships coming over the horizon into harbour and push the bidding on imported commodities even before they entered harbour, it was going to be ludicrous to selectively hyperskeptically reject the same when the power was boosted from about 8 times to about 30 times and the instrument was lifted to the heavens.

    Similarly, many ideas about disease origins fell before the onslaught of the microscope.

    For, the telescope and microscope were found to be sufficiently trustworthy instruments based on optics investigations and analyses. (Of course, early instruments did have significant chromatic aberration problems, which were a limit but that could be explained . . . and it is why Newton invented the reflecting telescope. And the consistency of observations from the two different types of instrument led to mutual reinforcement of their credibility.)

    In biology, no-one would dream of thinking today that cameras or microscopes are inapplicable as they come from outside the field. No-one would demand that specifically biological ideas must rule over the credibility of results, especially where it is known that we are reconstructing a remote, unobserved prehistoric past of life, we are not even dealing with biological observations.

    Similarly, biologists have to acknowledge the relevance of chemistry to biological systems, and so forth.

    The same holds for information theory, thermodynamics, digital electronics and computer science.

    In this case, well established findings of information theory and related analyses became relevant to biology once it was discovered in the 1950′s and 60′s that the living cell contained digitally coded, algorithmically functional, complex and specific information. The infinite monkeys type results long since tell us — this is a bridge to a third domain, statistical thermodynamics, and a fourth one, mathematics (including sampling theory) — that beyond rather specific limits, we cannot expect blind search to spontaneously create functionally specific, complex informational configurations of elements. As the just linked summarises on empirical tests:

    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”.[21]

    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…

    The reasons for this are actually quite easy to understand. On the scope of the solar system, we have some 10^57 atoms, which in 10^17 s will go collectively through about 10^102 possible Planck-time quantum states. Where about 10^30 such PTQS’s are needed for even the fastest chemical reactions. So, we have an upper limit on search resources in the field of possibilities. For just 500 bits, we have some 3* 10^150 possibilities, 10^48 times the limit just described. A solar system scope blind search of the domain of possibilities would be comparable to a one-straw sized sample of a cubical hay bale 3 1/2 light days across [about ten times the distance to Pluto]. So, such a fractional sample would, per sampling theory, be overwhelmingly likely to pick up the bulk of the distribution, not narrow and unrepresentative zones, even if a whole solar system lurked within the bale. (Here we see atomic theory, sampling theory etc applied in yet other onward bridges.)

    It is plain that digitally [=discrete state] coded strings that function algorithmically in a particular context, here, the cell, are from rather special zones in the field of possibilities, comparable to the object code for a computer program. So, we have good reason to infer that the unobserved origin of the coded information in DNA is produced by the only empirically known force capable of such within the resources of the observed cosmos: intelligence.

    Yes, we use ourselves as a yardstick of intelligence, but we see that say beavers show that this is not confined to us.

    And if you wish to speculate that there are as yet undiscovered laws of physics and chemistry that force the emergence of life forms with such digital code, you run into the problem that information storage critically depends on contingency, not necessity; something which is exploited in the metrics for information. There are only two scientifically/empirically credible sources for highly contingent outcomes, chance or choice. Of these, chance is not a credible source for 100,000+ bits worth of digital code required for minimally complex cell based life.

    Similarly, the molecular nanotech we have in hand, through Venter et al over the past generation now, shows that one can intelligently and intentionally manipulate the informational macromolecules of life towards desired configurations. This is empirical proof of concept that design of such molecular nanotech systems is possible. (The strained attempts to try to object to this some weeks ago here at UD, were highly revealing about the unwillingness to face empirical evidence; similar to the equally strained objections to the existence of digital code in the DNA etc.)

    Worse, yet, even if life were written into the laws of the cosmos, that would be a highly suspicious result. That is, if it were a matter of necessity that under appropriate “warm little pond” or equivalent prebiotic conditions, life will inevitably emerge, by some sort of forced self-organisation, that would be a strong indicator of a designed cosmos with laws fine tuned for life.

    And, already there is abundant reason to infer to just that, e.g. the nuclear resonance that makes C and O the 3rd and 4th most abundant atoms in our observed cosmos, and the related astonishing set of properties of water. H, C, O are of course the first three molecules of life, and the other member of that top tier, He, is a nuclear component towards C and O etc. No wonder astrophysicists of the ilk of a Hoyle, have put forward the concept that it seems evident that someone has “monkeyed” with the laws of physics and so there are no truly blind forces worthy of the name in our world.

    If instead you wish to suggest a quasi-infinite multiverse that would have sufficient resources to overcome the probabilistic hurdles, that immediately is a crossing over into highly speculative metaphysics, with ZERO observational evidence. Other metaphysical constructs have an equal right to sit to the table of comparative difficulties on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power, and bring to bear any relevant evidence. And as well, Occam’s razor of factually adequate simplicity would begin to shave away such extravagances. Worse, since our observed cosmos sits at such a locally isolated zone, the multiverse has to have a “cosmos bakery” that would be just as much a fine tuned entity as our observed cosmos.

    All of this brings us full circle to a simple matter.

    Namely, we have excellent reason to see that digitally coded functionally specific complex organisation and associated information [FSCO/I] are — in light of abundant experience — only credibly accounted for on intelligent design in light of skill and knowledge. Especially, digitally coded FSCI [dFSCI].

    So much so, that we routinely take this for granted, e.g. we explain posts in this thread on real posters, not lucky noise in the Internet’s infrastructure. (Yet another bridge, to noise theory.)

    In short the challenge to account for origin of cell based life involving such digital code, in light of sound principles of causal explanation, is pivotal, and has been pivotal ever since Thaxton et al in TMLO in 1984.

    Design is definitely on the table, right from OOL.

    And, it continues to speak when we look at the origin of the 10+ million bits to account for dozens of novel body plans. Including the many cases where organisms have two body plans and undergo metamorphosis.

    In that context, it is the strained (and sometimes shrill) nature of the objections that we are seeing that so tellingly reveal the balance of the evidence on the merits.

    And the ongoing attempts to gerrymander the very definition of science to keep out unwelcome evidence and argument, are even more revealing. Especially when we also take on board the revelations about a priori materialism that Lewontin has so publicly documented. And, when we see the testimony of Wallace (co-founder of evolutionary theory) as to its historic roots in C17 – 18 skeptical philosophising, which dominated the mindset of the toffs by late C19, and which has now been exported into Science as a controlling, censoring a priori.

    The inference to design on the empirically reliable sign of FSCO/I is here to stay.

    GEM of TKI

  194. Dr Rec:

    As a basic reminder, we scientifically observe and infer causal patterns in the present, and test and identify their reliable signs. On the strength of that, we reconstruct the past we did not observe on inference to best empirically anchored explanation.

    That is a commonplace, and how it relates to the specific case of biological information is — yet again — summarised above, here. (And BTW, genetic engineering techniques have been pioneered over the past 25 or so years, i.e over a generation. Venter has shown the feasibility of genome manipulation using known techniques, and organic synthesis of comparably complex chemicals is as common as our pharmaceutical industry.)

    It should be a well known and generally understood fact that we were not there to see the actual course of the origin of our cosmos, or of our solar system, or of our planet, or of life, or of the major clusters of life forms, or our own origin. All of this is theoretically reconstructed as a model of the past on experiment and observation in the present, leading to inference to best explanation of the remote past of origins on signs and traces in the present.

    But if evolutionary materialism is allowed to be a censoring a priori on that process, as is clearly happening, that breaks down the integrity of the inference.

    Similarly, once a bridge has been opened to another field of study, biology comes under scrutiny from that field. In this case, digitally coded, functionally specific, complex algorithmic information has been found in the heart of the living cell. The only known and analytically plausible source of such is intelligence, as the linked explores yet again.

    If biologists want to reverse the direction of challenge, the way to do so is simple: empirically demonstrate in a biological system or otherwise, within observation, that 500 – 1,000+ bits of information can and do originate by blind processes traceable to chance and necessity. the very existence of the failed project of using genetic Algorithms to try to do so, shows that the point is understood. Failed, because all such algorithms start well within a zone of functional specificity and proceed by generalised hill climbing on nicely chosen, finely tuned parameters and fitness functions or the equivalent.

    So, again and again, the trend of the evidence is clear: design.

    GEM of TKI

  195. Dr Rec:

    Beavers build dams, which are inherently complex systems, including building arch dams when the flow rate warrants that. As — onlookers — can be seen in the illustrations in this UD post.

    Dam-building, where dams are up to 14 ft high, and up to thousands of feet long, with use of arched structures where stream flow rate warrants, is a considerable civil engineering achievement.

    And BTW, what your examples of instinctively moving to try to stop the sound of water rushing demonstrates, is that this is instinctive programming for dam maintenance, a different context from dam building (but one vital to the sustainability of the dam . . . as in no maintenance subroutine, and no viable water-protected lodge system); beavers were not programmed for loudspeakers.

    Joseph’s apt challenge is, given the complexity of a dam, how do we get to a beaver from a generic rodent.

    Which remains unanswered, just distracted from. But the distraction highlights inadvertently that there is an additional complexity, beavers must build AND maintain dams.

    In addition, lab and observed cases to date all include only quite small genome changes, well within the limits of creation of novel genetic information, and in no cases include an empirical demonstration of origin of complex functional behaviour or major and functional body plan innovations.

    There is no credible reason to ind=fer that complex algorithmic outcomes can be achieved by small increments, each of which must be functional and diffuse through a population across a considerable number of generations.

    And the dam-building beaver is therefore rapidly joining the list of icons of design.

    GEM of TKI

  196. Petrushka,

    please go read on the history of the idea roots of Fascism [try the lecture here in that page for starters and I think this reflection will help us all deal with the sense of outrage this is bound to stir up -- for, we dare not forget hard lessons of history . . . ], including the way Hitler reasoned in Mein Kampf, and the roots of those ideas. (Note also Weikart’s responses to strawman criticisms here.)

    I clip from the just linked, Weikart’s response in a nutshell:

    What I demonstrated in detail in my book [From Darwin to Hitler] is that many leading Darwinists themselves argued overtly that Darwinism did indeed undermine the sanctity-of-life ethic, and they overtly appealed to Darwinism when they promoted infanticide, euthanasia, racial extermination, etc. I specifically noted that not all Darwinists took this position, but those who did were leading Darwinian biologists, medical professors, psychiatrists, etc. They were not some fringe group of ignorant fanatics; they were mainstream Darwinists. Also, I did not simply show that leading Darwinists supported eugenics, infanticide, euthanasia, and racial extermination; I showed that they appealed overtly to Darwinism to justify their position. So, it is not Weikart who is reading Darwinism into the record. Darwinists themselves made these arguments. Therefore, critics of the position that Darwinism devalues human life should not attack me, but rather should attack those Darwinists I exposed in my work.

    In short, I am inviting you to move beyond the level of talking points, to a more balanced understanding of some very unpleasant facts about how science can go seriously wrong when it takes up views that undermine ethical responsibility. Inherently amoral views aptly fit that category, as say Provine documented all too clearly in his well known U Tenn 1998 Darwin Day keynote address:

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

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    Without freedom to choose in morally significant contexts, moral responsibility cannot exist. Thus, the inescapable amorality of evolutionary materialism — it has no worldview foundational IS that can ground OUGHT (as Hawthorne so aptly shows here) — comes out in yet another significant form.

    Do this, please, for your own reflection/instruction on science and society issues, I will gavel such a red meat distractive sub-thread here.

    This thread has seen far too much of distractive polarisation that descended into atmosphere poisoning namecalling and false accusation already.

    Good day

    GEM of TKI

  197. “ID does not require any intervention other than to set-up the initial conditions.”

    When? First life, the big bang?

    Dude, THAT is what SCIENCE is for- to help us make those determinations. Heck look at your position- no answers at all.

    You’re punting deeper into the past, with vaguer stories about how it must be, because you say so.

    That is YOUR position- relying on the untestable past.

    “ID is not anti-evolution”

    Right.

    Again your ignorance is showing.

    And it can’t be because it fails utterly as a critique of evolution.

    That is because it does BNOT critique evolution- are you really that dense?

    ID critiques the blind watchmaker and it does so very convincingly

    “and Newton’s First Rule mandates all design inferences must first eliminate stochastic processes.”

    And you think you’ve exhaustively done so? How?

    Yes and it is obvious that you have absolutely nothing.

    ATP synthase is composed of subunits with homology to other proteins.

    Similarity does NOT = homology.

    Several pathways for the evolution of it and precursors have been proposed and are being tested.

    Good- I bet they will never succeed.

    The notion that “these two processes are totally unrelated” ignores that the processes are physically coupled.

    Yes they were designed that way- physically coupled. There isn’t any other way the two subunits will go together.

    “OTOH your position doesn’t have anything- not even a methodology for determining blind, undirected processes didit.”

    We can and do observe randomization plus selection producing new functionalities.

    Ecepot only ignorance sez it is randomization and your “selection” isn’t anything of the kind.

    But yes by breaking things slight changes in functionality are possible.

  198. Petrushka,

    We have innumerable studies of mutation rates. We have evidence from domesticated plants and animals. We have lots of documented changes from wild varieties.

    And on top of that, I have pictures of my family going back generations and none of look us exactly alike.
    Mutations are just mutations. This is still begging the question. What’s lacking is evidence that a) observed diversity is the result of such mutations, or b) that such mutations can produce such diversity.

    Suppose you’re testing the first car. The engine starts – check. It can roll on its tires – check. You’ve seen a video of it in motion, although you can’t tell from the video if it’s driving, rolling downhill, or someone pushed it. The car is in New York, but you’ve got pictures of it in California, Georgia, and Ohio.

    Is that enough to demonstrate that the car can drive from California to New York? Only if you want it to be.

    Please don’t fall back on asking what the alternate explanation is. Yours must stand on its own, even if there is no other.

  199. Designs don’t evolve. They are improved upon, quite often by additional designs.

    Can you name a single design that occurred without someone imagining an initial result, implementing it, and then designing and implementing additional improvements?

    What an odd statement. I’d love to know, literally, what you were thinking of when you made it.

  200. This is still begging the question. What’s lacking is evidence that a) observed diversity is the result of such mutations, or b) that such mutations can produce such diversity.

    Sure there is. We have strong evidence that our wheat and corn crops were derived from wild grasses. Teacup poodles from wolves. Cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts are all descended from the same wild cabbage, artificially selected by humans. Some of our food plants are the result of genome doubling within human history.

    Ask yourself why Behe doesn’t include the diversification of metazoans in his list of things beyond the Edge of evolution.

    Or why folks like Douglas Axe have confined themselves to problems like the origin of protein domains, which occurred billions of years in the past.

  201. CY: When Jesus spoke his parable about eyes as the lamp of the body, this reflected specific concerns in that parable of the cave and may have contained a veiled allusion to it. KF

  202. Petrshka: variations of a wild cabbage etc are variations, not explanations of how you get TO the basic body plan that makes a cabbage. Micro is not to be simply extrapolated to macro evo, just as no computer scientist would suggest that a hello world can be elaborated by functional, small steps, into an operating system. KF

  203. 203

    Petrushka,

    This is where you move the goalposts without even realizing it.

    We have strong evidence that our wheat and corn crops were derived from wild grasses. Teacup poodles from wolves. Cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts are all descended from the same wild cabbage, artificially selected by humans.

    Notice the shift from “observed” mechanisms of evolution to evidence of descent, while simultaneously retreating to examples containing none of the innovation that separates lizards from birds, rats from bats, etc.

    You seem convinced that evidence of descent equals evidence of diversification by variation and [pick one or more.] Or at least it seems that you are, because when asked to explain one you revert to demonstrating the other.

  204. 204

    kf,

    Tell me you didn’t just suggest that Jesus derived even a single teaching from Plato. Good grief, he’s the son of God, wiser than Solomon, and he’s taking notes from Plato?

  205. SA: Are you aware that there had for centuries been Greek settlements in Palestine by C1 AD? That, the Maccabean revolt was against a pagan overlord who wanted to go several steps too far? My suggestion is that Jesus, like Paul, responded to that context, often by sophisticated allusions, e.g. it is hard to kick against the pricks (of the goad) was apparently an allusion to a play. In short responsive, not merely derivative, similar to the speech in Ac 17. KF

  206. 206

    Yes. Paul on more than one occasion made reference to Greek literature. (Again in Titus.)
    But those instances fit the audience. There’s no reason to think that Jesus’ audience would be acquainted with Plato.

    Far importantly there are similar references to light and shining light way further back in the scriptures. To suggest that Jesus would be referencing Plato rather than the scriptures as he always did places way to much importance on Plato, as if Jesus needed to address him at all. Plato is dust on the scales.

  207. 207

    Actually I didn’t mean that. What I meant to say is that the dust on the scales is made of many particles, and Plato is but one of them. :)

  208. Actually, the context DID have greek influences. That Jesus would respond to a theme that is fundamental in our civilisation is unsurprising. Don’t forget, Hebrews is both militantly hebraic and subtly responsive to a lot of hellenistic- jewish syncretism with ties to Alexandria.

  209. 209

    kf,

    Hebrews isn’t militantly anything.

    Of course the writings are responsive to the culture. Paul warned against epicureanism. The cultural difference between the Jewish and Greek cultures were also occasional subjects.

    I don’t have a problem with human wisdom. And I’m sure these mean weren’t totally useless as they piled one tenuous conclusion regarding the nature of the world and humanity upon another. But when mentioned in the same sentence as Jesus or even the least prophet, Plato becomes a subject for contempt.

    “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.” – Colossians 2:8

    “Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? … For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” – 1 Corinthians 1

    Paul knew how enamored men were of the great philosophers. But under inspiration he wrote of them with unmistakable disdain. Their combined wisdom is at best something to roll our eyes at and be thankful we know better than to impressed with it.

  210. SA: “Militant” has several levels of meaning, and it is applicable, have a read of Nash’s survey the Gospel and the Greeks for an intro. Jesus and Paul, as well as John, specifically responded to currents of thought in the gentile culture, which for learning was Greek-dominated. The degree of Greek presence is reflected in things like of course Decapolis, the cluster of Greek cities in C1 Palestine that is mentioned in the Gospels. Similarly, when the leadership tried to trap Jesus, they often did so by posing a poisonous dilemma, e.g. with the woman captured in adultery or the question on paying taxes to Caesar; clear signs of the influence of gentile rhetors on Jewish patterns of discussion; I have already pointed out how Paul knew how to clip and use gentile sayings, and how in confronting him on the road to Damascus, Jesus used a clip from a play — probably meant to serve as a symbolic hint of the critical synthesis of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome that Paul would lead. Jesus’ saying that I have in mind is a saying about false enlightenment: if the light in you is darkness, how great is your darkness, which strikingly echoes and makes best sense in the context of knowing the deceptive half-light of Plato’s cave of shadow shows. I suspect that this would have resonated on several levels with his audience in “Galilee of the gentiles” and onwards, among the circle of gentile God-fearers on the fringes of Judaism who played such a key role in the early growth of the church. KF

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