Animal minds

Bird brains and ID definition of intelligence?

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I (your regular News writer, O’Leary) am enjoying a week off to write something else, but noted that some commenters at How clever is that cockatoo? (and elsewhere?) wanted an ID definition of intelligence.

Here is the conventional definition with which I am familiar, and I think most ID theorists would accept it:

The Latin verb “intellego” (inter + lego) means “I choose between.” Intelligence, so defined, means the ability to choose one solution to a problem where other, less productive, ones are available.

An intelligent dog, observing humans raising the latch on a grooming shop cage’s door, may realize that he could raise the latch on his cage himself, using his jaw or paw. (I have seen a dog figure this out, unassisted.) A less intelligent dog would choose a less successful strategy—perhaps, just whine and bark for a human to come and do it (in a situation where no human has any intention of doing it until the groomer is ready for the dog). 😉

Choosing the correct solution is the way intelligence creates information. The more intelligent dog now has information about how to free himself from the cage. The less intelligent dog does not.

A human can frustrate even an intelligent dog’s escape efforts by transferring him to a different cage, perhaps one where 1) he cannot see exactly what the human is doing; or 2) fingers are needed to work the mechanism; or 3) a punched-in numerical code opens the door.

What the humans have done in this case is moved the search space for solutions beyond the physical and/or mental capacities of the dog.

Animals differ both individually and by species in intelligence in this sense. There does not appear to be a strict hierarchy of intelligence. Birds species, in particular, seem to vary widely in their ability to choose a successful strategy from alternatives, as opposed to simply following some sort of imprint, for good or ill.

Note that “intelligence” in this sense is quite distinct from “wisdom” or “insight” or other similar qualities.

72 Replies to “Bird brains and ID definition of intelligence?

  1. 1
    Joe says:

    Dembski uses it to define an agency, ie one who can manipulate nature for its own purpose.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Isn’t the smart dog an agency?

  3. 3
    Joe says:

    Sure, dogs manipulate nature for their own purpose. They manipulate us, too, although cats appear to be much better at that.

  4. 4
    Joe says:

    Birds manipulate nature for their own purpose. Termites do to. Bees, wasps, beavers- yup all manipulate nature for their own purpose.

  5. 5
    RDFish says:

    Yes, Denyse, often ID proponents define “intelligence” as “choice”.

    Most people think of a “choice” as a “free choice” in the metaphysical sense of libertarianism. Otherwise, we could say that all sorts of mindless things made choices, as when a river chooses a path to the sea in order to carry water there. Surely that is not what ID means by “choice”, so once again we see ID equating intelligence with metaphysical libertarianism.

    As I said previously:

    Dembski’s most usual definitions for “intelligence” are functional, including “the complement of fixed law and chance” and “the power and facility to choose between options”. So intelligent entities, in Dembski’s view, are defined by their power to make choices that are not determined by antecedent events. What Dembski does not mention (although he is surely aware of it) is that what he is defining as “intelligence” is another way of describing libertarian free will, and in my experience discussing ID with its proponents on the internet, this is indeed an important part of what most people mean when they talk about intelligence.

    I believe the concept of metaphysical libertarianism to be incoherent, but in any case it clearly cannot be mistaken for settled science. But ID authors (including Dembski and Stephen Meyer) fail to acknowledge that this particular metaphysical position underlies their theory. On the contrary, Dembski and Meyer argue that the “intelligent causation” posited by ID as the cause of biological CSI is something that is known to us by our familiarity with intelligent agents. This is specious. What we know is that human beings design and build complex machinery. We do not know how we do it (because we don’t understand how we think), and we do not know if our thought processes transcend physical causality or not. Thus when Stephen Meyer claims that the causal explanation proposed by ID is known to us “in our uniform and repeated experience of intelligent agency”, he is pulling a fast one.

    Thanks, Denyse!
    RDFish

  6. 6
    Robert Byers says:

    I like the idea its about choice .
    It also means the being making the choice is a being aware of themselves.
    Intelligence after all is all about the special case of life with a personality.
    A living being. Plants are not a living being and make no choices.
    A living being makes choices.
    Then we score it compared to man or God.

  7. 7
    Rude says:

    Yes, I think this may be a good definition—which makes me wonder if perhaps intelligence is also separable from consciousness and free will. Might we be able to program a robot with “the ability to choose one solution to a problem where other, less productive, ones are available”? Such as, say, a chess playing robot?

    And so intelligence, as you say, is not only quite distinct from “wisdom” or “insight” or other similar qualities—neither is it identical to consciousness and free will. And so when we speak of intelligent design we probably most often also assume more than a robotic intelligence. Except—considering our Big Tent—might there be some who think it is “mechanism all the way down”? Maybe Michael Denton would be such. And if so then this is a proper definition for ID.

    But bioethicists, busy in their brave new world, generally define “person” in terms of intelligence—presumably because that’s how they defines themselves. Maybe this is because all they admit to is a robotic intelligence even as they deny we are conscious and have free will.

  8. 8
    StephenB says:

    RDF:

    Most people think of a “choice” as a “free choice” in the metaphysical sense of libertarianism. Otherwise, we could say that all sorts of mindless things made choices, as when a river chooses a path to the sea in order to carry water there. Surely that is not what ID means by “choice”, so once again we see ID equating intelligence with metaphysical libertarianism.

    I think there is a sense in which this can be true of most agents, but it does not really apply to animals for two reasons: [a] they do not have a moral life and cannot, therefore make moral choices and [b] they cannot really weigh strategic options before making intellectual choices. Nevertheless, animals are agents of design. So your theme, while not unreasonable, cannot be consistently applied to all design agents. It is, therefore, not a necessary component of ID.

  9. 9
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    I think there is a sense in which this can be true of most agents, but it does not really apply to animals for two reasons: [a] they do not have a moral life and cannot, therefore make moral choices and [b] they cannot really weigh strategic options before making intellectual choices.

    But dolphins, wolves, and other animals communicate, coordinate, and strategize when they hunt. Don’t you watch Animal Planet? It’s fascinating!

    Nevertheless, animals are agents of design.

    I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

    So your theme, while not unreasonable, cannot be consistently applied to all design agents. It is, therefore, not a necessary component of ID.

    I don’t understand – are you saying that some “intelligent agents” have free will and some don’t?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  10. 10
    Joe says:

    I have a correction to my comment- #1

    “Intelligence” is that which can manipulate nature/ the environment for its own purpose

  11. 11
    RDFish says:

    “Intelligence” is that which can manipulate nature/ the environment for its own purpose

    So when a river carves a path to the sea for the purpose of carrying water there, it is acting intelligently? And when evolutionary processes alter the genomes of populations of organisms in order to adapt them to their environments, that is also an instance of intelligence at work?

  12. 12
    StephenB says:

    RD

    I don’t understand – are you saying that some “intelligent agents” have free will and some don’t?

    I would argue that animals do not have libertarian free will on the grounds that they cannot weigh moral options or make moral choices. Simply being a design agent (capable of manipulating nature to serve some end) is not enough to qualify for libertarian free will. Moral sensibilities are also required.

  13. 13
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    I think these questions would help clarify positions here regarding ID quite a bit. The “iCause” is just a neutral term I’m using here to mean “That which ID proposes as the best explanation for life and the universe”.

    1) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause experiences conscious awareness?

    2) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that this iCause could explain in grammatical language how biological systems operate?

    3) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause can do anything else aside from produce the very features we are trying to explain (biological complexity, fine-tuned constants, etc), and if there is such evidence, what other things does this evidence lead us to believe the iCause could do?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  14. 14
    Alan Fox says:

    Nevertheless, animals are agents of design.

    I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

    Perhaps StephenB is thinking of a sub-agency of environmental design, for example spider webs, termite mounds, caddis fly houses etc.

  15. 15
    Joe says:


    “Intelligence” is that which can manipulate nature/ the environment for its own purpose

    So when a river carves a path to the sea for the purpose of carrying water there, it is acting intelligently?

    A river has that “purpose”? Please do tell how you determined that.

    And when evolutionary processes alter the genomes of populations of organisms in order to adapt them to their environments, that is also an instance of intelligence at work?

    Intelligently designed evolutionary processes, yes, absolutely. Again it’s amazing how little of this debate that you actually understand.

    ID says organisms were designed to evolve and evolved by design. Get that through to your neural network.

  16. 16
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    Perhaps StephenB is thinking of a sub-agency of environmental design, for example spider webs, termite mounds, caddis fly houses etc.

    LoL! Spiders, termites and caddis flies are designing agencies, Alan.

  17. 17
    Joe says:

    And RD continues to expose his ignorance:

    1) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause experiences conscious awareness?

    ID is NOT about the “iCause”.

    2) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that this iCause could explain in grammatical language how biological systems operate?

    Just our knowledge of cause and effect relationships. Plus the fact that no one can demonstrate nature, operating freely, doing so.

    3) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause can do anything else aside from produce the very features we are trying to explain (biological complexity, fine-tuned constants, etc), and if there is such evidence, what other things does this evidence lead us to believe the iCause could do?

    OK wait- when trying to explain Stonehenge we say it was designed by some unknown humans- ie intelligent agencies. We don’t ask if those agencies could have also built the pyramids.

  18. 18
    RDFish says:

    RDFISH: The “iCause” is just a neutral term I’m using here to mean “That which ID proposes as the best explanation for life and the universe”.
    JOE: ID is NOT about the “iCause”.

    🙂

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  19. 19
    Joe says:

    So RDFish is so deranged he has to mix up quotes in order to imagine he scored some point.

    ID is about the DESIGN, not what caused the design.

  20. 20
    RDFish says:

    RDFISH: The “iCause” is just a neutral term I’m using here to mean “That which ID proposes as the best explanation for life and the universe”.
    JOE: ID is NOT about the “iCause”.

    =>

    JOE: ID is NOT about the best explanation for life and the universe.

    🙂

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  21. 21
    Joe says:

    RD- RD must stand for really dumb or really deranged.

    ID is about the DESIGN. ID is NOT about what caused the design, ie ID is NOT about the DESIGNER. And the ICause would be the designer.

    But let’s back up-

    RD sed:

    1) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause experiences conscious awareness?

    My response of ID is NOT about the “iCause”., was to that and nothing else. That RD felt the need to change the posts around to make it seem like I was responding to something else just expoases his ignorant deception ploy.

    I guess when your ignorance has been exposed again and again, as RD’s has, you try anything and everything out of desperation.

    Thank you for proving that you are a deluded coward, RD.

  22. 22
    RDFish says:

    Hahahahahaha!

    Definition of ID: (from http://www.intelligentdesign.org/whatisid.php and many other places):

    The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

    I define “iCause” as “that which ID proposes as the best explanation” for these features.

    Joe says “Oh, ID isn’t about that!”

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

  23. 23
    Joe says:

    LoL! ID is NOT about the designer. And RD’s quote-mine doesn’t refute that.

    Apparently RD is proud to be an ass also.

  24. 24

    So you think you can have a design without a designer, Joe?

    I agree! Cool!

  25. 25
    Joe says:

    So you think you can have a design without a designer, Joe?

    Nope

  26. 26
    Joe says:

    ID is about the DESIGN. ID is NOT about the designer(s).

    Reality proves that we do not have to know anything about the alleged designer(s) before determining design is present. Anything we learn about the designer(s) comes from studying the design and all relevant evidence.

  27. 27
    RDFish says:

    Nobody seems willing to answer these questions. Hmmm.

    Joe’s excuse is that ID is a scientific theory that doesn’t actually try to explain anything. Ok then!

    Will anyone else take a crack at it?

    I think these questions would help clarify positions here regarding ID quite a bit. The “iCause” is just a neutral term I’m using here to mean “That which ID proposes as the best explanation for life and the universe”.

    1) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause experiences conscious awareness?

    2) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that this iCause could explain in grammatical language how biological systems operate?

    3) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause can do anything else aside from produce the very features we are trying to explain (biological complexity, fine-tuned constants, etc), and if there is such evidence, what other things does this evidence lead us to believe the iCause could do?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  28. 28
    Joe says:

    RD:

    Joe’s excuse is that ID is a scientific theory that doesn’t actually try to explain anything.

    Spoken like a true asshole. ID explains the DESIGN you moron. ID does NOT even try to explain the designer(s).

    BTW your “questions” prove that you are totally clueless.

  29. 29
    RDFish says:

    Uh, Joe, perhaps you haven’t seen the memo. The biological designs are actually the things that everybody is trying to explain, not the explanation. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    You are so funny!

    Anyway, ID says the explanation for these biological designs is an “Intelligent Cause”. I’m just trying to figure out what they mean.

    1) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause experiences conscious awareness?

    2) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that this iCause could explain in grammatical language how biological systems operate?

    3) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause can do anything else aside from produce the very features we are trying to explain (biological complexity, fine-tuned constants, etc), and if there is such evidence, what other things does this evidence lead us to believe the iCause could do?

    Anyone?

  30. 30
    Axel says:

    What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause can do anything else aside from produce the very features we are trying to explain (biological complexity, fine-tuned constants, etc), and if there is such evidence, what other things does this evidence lead us to believe the iCause could do?

    Anyone?

    ‘My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.’

    ‘The scientists’ religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.’

    ‘…..an utterly insignificant reflection.’

    Two quotes by youknowwho. Just a little humility, RD. Just a little. And even your questions will become intelligible.

  31. 31
    RDFish says:

    Hi Axel,

    You seem confused by my post – I wasn’t talking about religion. I was talking about this “Intelligent Design Theory” which says an “intelligent cause” is the best explanation for life and the universe. I’m trying to figure out what this theory actually means by this, so I’ve asked these questions. Can you answer them?

    Anyone else?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  32. 32
    Axel says:

    Anyone with a grain of sense would ask, what could such a designer NOT do? Which was what Einstein said in his poetic rapture, was it not? What have you got between your ears????

    As if explaining the miraculous beauty, efficiency, coordination and all round complexity of a single cell were not enough to make a person fall to his knees in wonder, at its unambiguously divinely intelligent designer, creator and sustainer.

  33. 33
    RDFish says:

    Hi Axel,

    Sorry Axel but you seem even more confused now. One more time: I am not talking about religion. If you would like to talk about religion, perhaps you can find someone else to talk to about that. I have no trouble with religion, but not being religious myself I don’t talk about it much.

    I do love science, however, and I’m interested in ID Theory. My questions are about this “intelligent cause” that people say is the best scientific explanation for life and the universe. I would like to know what they mean, so I ask these very simple questions. It is surprising to me that nobody will answer them. If ID provides no evidence for these things in particular I think you should just say so.

    In any case, you needn’t imply that I am stupid. Why do people here get so insulting when I ask these questions? Hmmmm.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  34. 34
    Axel says:

    You know what ‘intelligent’ means, RD; you know what ‘design’ means; you know what ’cause’ means. You recognise complexity in an effective artifact, created by a human intelligence; you know what means, ‘best’ means, you know what ‘inference’ means, you know what ‘explanation’ means.

    I don’t mean to be rude, but you seem to view inferences that are so simple and straightforward as to be virtually automatic irrelevant, in favour of goodness knows what vast, imponderable conceptual leap you obviously wish to be necessary. Why ask for a crystal ball all the time, when you can read the book of nature?

    The only arcana involved are at the religious level of the deepest paradoxes/mysteries. IDers are saying (if I interpret them aright, ‘Look! After being ship-wrecked, I ended up on a desert island, and found an old car-radiator, quite far inland. I thought, ‘Gee, someone’s been here?’

    If our pathetic wee artifacts cry out Intelligent Design, why would not the creation all around us? Starting with a living cell.

    When you’ve found out the origin of life, itself – I don’t mean discredited conjectures – then you might have some intellectual authority to question the reasoning of IDers in that matter and all these peripheral areas.

    Your bottom line is: ‘There is no Creator.’ It is a gratuitous and infinitely obstructive and infertile assumption. That is not where to start. It’s no different from the countryman who told a stranger asking directions to a certain town, that if he wanted to go there, he wouldn’t start from where they were.

    IDers may legitimately deny their scientific ID theory is based on belief in a Creator. What infuriates atheists is that they know that nevertheless, they have left the door open to the possibility of a divinity. As poor old Luwontin, in effect, grizzled.

  35. 35

    Your bottom line is: ‘There is no Creator.’ It is a gratuitous and infinitely obstructive and infertile assumption. That is not where to start. It’s no different from the countryman who told a stranger asking directions to a certain town, that if he wanted to go there, he wouldn’t start from where they were.

    Where does RDFish say this? I certainly don’t say it. My problem with ID isn’t that I think there is no Creator, but that we can’t infer a Creator the complexity of biology.

    I don’t know why IDists always assume that the only reason anyone would be persuaded by evolutionary theory is because they think (or want it to be the case that) there’s no creator.

    Evolutionary biology could be 100% true, and all that would say about any creator is that she was smart enough to design a universe that didn’t require endless patches and upgrades.

  36. 36
    RDFish says:

    Hi Axel,

    You know what ‘intelligent’ means, RD

    It means many different things to different people in different contexts. I’m asking what it means in ID Theory.

    The only arcana involved are at the religious level of the deepest paradoxes/mysteries. IDers are saying (if I interpret them aright, ‘Look! After being ship-wrecked, I ended up on a desert island, and found an old car-radiator, quite far inland. I thought, ‘Gee, someone’s been here?’

    Cars are things we recognize as artifacts of human beings, so we would infer the existence of humans there. What does ID Theory propose that biological systems are artifacts of?

    Your bottom line is: ‘There is no Creator.’

    You are confusing me with somebody else. My bottom line is: If you are going to present a scientific theory – a scientific explanation of some phenomenon – then you should actually say what it is you are proposing as the explanation.

    IDers may legitimately deny their scientific ID theory is based on belief in a Creator. What infuriates atheists is that they know that nevertheless, they have left the door open to the possibility of a divinity.

    I’m certainly not the furious one here – it’s all the IDers who get really angry at me for asking these simple questions.

    * * *

    1) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause experiences conscious awareness?

    2) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that this iCause could explain in grammatical language how biological systems operate?

    3) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause can do anything else aside from produce the very features we are trying to explain (biological complexity, fine-tuned constants, etc), and if there is such evidence, what other things does this evidence lead us to believe the iCause could do?

    Anyone?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  37. 37
    Axel says:

    You wouldn’t be the first brilliantly intelligent person to say stupid things or ask stupid questions, RD, as you well know.

    It’s all about openness to assumptions. Science will, CAN, NEVER explain the origin of life. Already quantum physicists are having to shuffle unintelligible paradoxes around. but it sounds a whole lot more probable than creation being the product of some kind of dumb entity (I don’t you lot to have a bout of the vapours by referring to a god or a divinity – which is a scandalous situation, really, from an epistemic standpoint) with infinite power.

    Your questions might have made some sense under the limited purview of Newtonian, mechanistic, science, but with the relentless progress of quantum mechanics. It doesn’t make any sense at all. Deal with the minutiae. Science is no longer in a position to answer the big questions, such as the OOL. Leave that to the people who claim some familiarity with the more abstruse spiritual and theological knowledge.

    IDers are pointing out the non-local, super natural direction in which the minutiae of quantum mechanics increasingly points.

  38. 38
    Axel says:

    That’s not their fault. They’re just doing the math.

  39. 39
    RDFish says:

    Hi Axel,

    You wouldn’t be the first brilliantly intelligent person to say stupid things or ask stupid questions, RD, as you well know.

    I don’t think my questions are stupid.

    It’s all about openness to assumptions. Science will, CAN, NEVER explain the origin of life.

    I think that is an open question. It appears, however, that “ID Theory” explains precisely nothing, although it claims to explain life and the universe.

    Your questions might have made some sense under the limited purview of Newtonian, mechanistic, science, but with the relentless progress of quantum mechanics.

    Why does QM make it nonsensical to ask if ID is saying that the cause of life experienced consciousness? If ID Theory is not making that claim, then fine. If it is, then there should be some reason ID Theory gives to believe it.

    Science is no longer in a position to answer the big questions, such as the OOL.

    You are arguing with the wrong guy, Axel. You are not an “ID Theory” proponent, so my questions are not directed at you.

    I would love to hear from an “ID Theory” defender who can answer these questions regarding ID Theory, however.

    * * *

    1) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause experiences conscious awareness?

    2) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that this iCause could explain in grammatical language how biological systems operate?

    3) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause can do anything else aside from produce the very features we are trying to explain (biological complexity, fine-tuned constants, etc), and if there is such evidence, what other things does this evidence lead us to believe the iCause could do?

    Anyone?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  40. 40
    Joe says:

    RD:

    The biological designs are actually the things that everybody is trying to explain, not the explanation.

    Yes, I know. That is teh DESIGN I have been talking about. The biological design is NOT the iCause, duh. It is the ieffect.

    Anyway, ID says the explanation for these biological designs is an “Intelligent Cause”. I’m just trying to figure out what they mean.

    And you have been told what we mean. Again you think your willful ignorance means something and i still find that hilarious.

    Archaeologists claim artifacts require an intelligent cause. Forensic scientists say crimes require an intellignet cause.

    Now please shut up and read “Nature, Design and Science”.

  41. 41
    Joe says:

    Lizzie:

    My problem with ID isn’t that I think there is no Creator, but that we can’t infer a Creator the complexity of biology.

    LoL! We don’t infer design by the presence of mere complexity.

    I don’t know why IDists always assume that the only reason anyone would be persuaded by evolutionary theory is because they think (or want it to be the case that) there’s no creator.

    What other reasons are there?

    Evolutionary biology could be 100% true,

    What does that even mean? What does evolutionary biology say and where does it say it?

  42. 42
    Joe says:

    RD:

    I would love to hear from an “ID Theory” defender who can answer these questions regarding ID Theory, however.

    Been there, done that. And all you could do is throw a fit and start your usual deception.

  43. 43
    Joe says:

    RD:

    The “iCause” is just a neutral term I’m using here to mean “That which ID proposes as the best explanation for life and the universe”.

    ID says there was an iCause and that is it. ID doesn’t say anything else about it. And that is because we can only make scientific determinations about the iCause by studying the effects it produced.

    This has been explained to RD many times and he just chooses willful ignorance over knowledge.

    Well I say we should let him wallow in it…

  44. 44
    PeterJ says:

    Joe,

    ‘well I say we should let him wallow in it…’

    I would say that is a very good idea.

    RD is simply toying with you.

    Don’t go wasting any more time with it, and lets move on.

  45. 45
    RDFish says:

    ID says there was an iCause and that is it. ID doesn’t say anything else about it.

    JOE SAYS: ID Theory says there is an explanation for life and the universe, but it doesn’t say anything about what that explanation is!

    Hey I’ve got a theory to explain how the universe started too! It is called “X Theory”, and it is the best explanation of all for what caused the Big Bang and determined the universal constants. We should teach X Theory in all the schools!!!!

    What’s that? You want to what X Theory says the explanation is? Oh, it doesn’t.

    AAAAAhahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    * * *

    1) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause experiences conscious awareness?

    2) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that this iCause could explain in grammatical language how biological systems operate?

    3) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause can do anything else aside from produce the very features we are trying to explain (biological complexity, fine-tuned constants, etc), and if there is such evidence, what other things does this evidence lead us to believe the iCause could do?

    Anyone?

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  46. 46
    Alan Fox says:

    Don’t go wasting any more time with it, and lets move on.

    Yes indeed! It’s a dangerous game pondering difficult questions. Best avoided altogether!

  47. 47
    Joe says:

    RDick:

    JOE SAYS: ID Theory says there is an explanation for life and the universe, but it doesn’t say anything about what that explanation is!

    It says it was via some intelligent agency. That is all is says about it.

    1) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause experiences conscious awareness?

    ID doesn’t say anything about the iCause other than it existed and can do things that nature, operating freely cannot (just like humans can and do). ID is about the iEffect.

    2) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that this iCause could explain in grammatical language how biological systems operate?

    Just our knowledge of cause and effect relationships. Plus the fact that no one can demonstrate nature, operating freely, doing so.

    3) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause can do anything else aside from produce the very features we are trying to explain (biological complexity, fine-tuned constants, etc), and if there is such evidence, what other things does this evidence lead us to believe the iCause could do?

    OK wait- when trying to explain Stonehenge we say it was designed by some unknown humans- ie intelligent agencies. We don’t ask if those agencies could have also built the pyramids.

  48. 48
    Joe says:

    Hey I’ve got a theory to explain how the universe started too! It is called “X Theory”, and it is the best explanation of all for what caused the Big Bang and determined the universal constants. We should teach X Theory in all the schools!!!!

    X Theory is better than materialism as materialism doesn’t even have an explanation for what caused the big bang.

    However when compared to ID it fails. At least ID has the mechanism of design and we have many years of experience with design.

  49. 49
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    It’s a dangerous game pondering difficult questions. Best avoided altogether!

    Well that is EXACTLY what you and your position does. Go figure…

  50. 50
    PeterJ says:

    To better understand where RD is coming from, as I haven’t been involved with this discussion, would someone please point me to where ‘ID’ has claimed:

    1)the iCause experiences conscious awareness?

    2)that this iCause could explain in grammatical language how biological systems operate?

    3)the iCause can do anything else aside from produce the very features we are trying to explain (biological complexity, fine-tuned constants, etc), and if there is such evidence, what other things does this evidence lead us to believe the iCause could do?

    Thanks

  51. 51
    Joe says:

    PeterJ-

    I live and I learn. Thank you.

  52. 52
    RDFish says:

    Hi PeterJ,
    I have never seen any of these claims from an ID supporter. I assume from your response that you’d answer that there is no attempt in ID to support any of the claims I mentioned. Is that right?
    Cheers,
    RDFish

  53. 53
    PeterJ says:

    Hi RD

    ‘I have never seen any of these claims from an ID supporter.’

    But that’s not what your questions suggest.

    For the last 24 hours you have been asking ID supporters to to ‘support’ various ‘claims’ made by ‘ID theory’.

    Like Joe, and others, I would quite like to engage you in those ‘claims’ but before I do I would really need you to provide me with the specific citations where those ‘claims’ are made.

    Thanks

  54. 54
    StephenB says:

    RDF

    I think these questions would help clarify positions here regarding ID quite a bit. The “iCause” is just a neutral term I’m using here to mean “That which ID proposes as the best explanation for life and the universe”.

    In our last correspondence, you associated ID with libertarian free will. I explained why that cannot be the case, but you didn’t respond to my corrective. Can I assume that you now agree that ID does not require libertarian free will or should I provide more information?

    Meanwhile, you have launched a new round of questions, the relevancy of which is not clear to me.

    1) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause experiences conscious awareness?

    None as far as I know.

    2) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that this iCause could explain in grammatical language how biological systems operate?

    None as far as I know.

    3) What, if any, evidence does ID provide to support a claim that the iCause can do anything else aside from produce the very features we are trying to explain (biological complexity, fine-tuned constants, etc), and if there is such evidence, what other things does this evidence lead us to believe the iCause could do?

    None as far as I know.

    Was there a point?

  55. 55
    PeterJ says:

    StephenB,

    As much as pains me to do so I have decided to try and understand where RD is coming from with the above questions, where he considers ‘ID’ to have made such ‘claims’, and hopefully then I can begin to make some sort of sense of it.

    I have asked for specific citations so that I can at least read about it in its entire context.

    Like you I am a little baffled as to the point in it, but I’m sure it would be made much easier if he would disclose its source. Perhaps? 😉

  56. 56
    RDFish says:

    Hi PeterJ,

    RDF: ‘I have never seen any of these claims from an ID supporter.’
    PJ: But that’s not what your questions suggest. For the last 24 hours you have been asking ID supporters to to ‘support’ various ‘claims’ made by ‘ID theory’.

    I began by asking for a specific definition of “intelligence” in the context of ID Theory. As usual, it was not forthcoming, and Stephen tired of my asking for that. So I said I would stop asking for a specific definition of “intelligence”, and instead I would ask some particular questions in order to try to pin down what it was that ID was saying explains the origin of life and the universe.

    Like Joe, and others, I would quite like to engage you in those ‘claims’ but before I do I would really need you to provide me with the specific citations where those ‘claims’ are made.

    Those claims are simply things that might be implied by the term “intelligent cause”. For example, some people insist that anything intelligent must be conscious; others disagree.

    I believe your position is the ID does not attempt to support any claims regarding whether the cause of life and the universe was conscious, nor that it could anything else in particular other than produce the CSI we observe in biology and the fine-tuned universal constants.

    I could then ask about evidence ID presents regarding another set of particular claims, for example:
    1) Evidence that the iCause could learn new skills?
    2) Evidence that the iCause could solve a crossword puzzle?
    3) Evidence that the iCause could take an IQ test and score more than zero?
    4) Evidence that the iCause had beliefs and desires?

    And so on. I believe you would be compelled to answer in each case that no, ID had no evidence to support any of these claims.

    The point is this: As I explain in the OP, the term “intelligence” means nothing at all in the context of ID unless it is given a specific definition. The problem for ID is that once you actually try to say what is meant by “intelligence”, it becomes clear that there is no evidence to support the claim that the iCause exhibited it.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  57. 57
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    In our last correspondence, you associated ID with libertarian free will. I explained why that cannot be the case, but you didn’t respond to my corrective. Can I assume that you now agree that ID does not require libertarian free will or should I provide more information?

    Sorry for dropping that thread. Regarding libertarianism, you argued:

    I would argue that animals do not have libertarian free will on the grounds that they cannot weigh moral options or make moral choices. Simply being a design agent (capable of manipulating nature to serve some end) is not enough to qualify for libertarian free will. Moral sensibilities are also required.

    I don’t understand how you think libertarianism requires a separate capacity for moral judgement, but I’d rather not delve into that at the moment. It is interesting, though, for you to suggest that ID does not require libertarianism, as it seems to imply that a deterministic physical system operating according to fixed law and chance should be able to produce complex functional systems.

    Meanwhile, you have launched a new round of questions, the relevancy of which is not clear to me.

    Here’s the point of those questions:

    Along with those questions, I could ask about evidence ID presents regarding any number of other particular claims, for example:
    1) Evidence that the iCause could learn new skills?
    2) Evidence that the iCause could solve a crossword puzzle?
    3) Evidence that the iCause could take an IQ test and score more than zero?
    4) Evidence that the iCause had beliefs and desires?

    And so on. I believe you would be compelled to answer in each case that no, ID had no evidence to support any of these claims.

    The point is this:

    As I explain in the OP here the term “intelligence” means nothing at all in the context of ID unless it is given a specific definition. The problem for ID is that once you actually try to say what is meant by “intelligence”, it becomes clear that there is no evidence to support the claim that the iCause exhibited it.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  58. 58

    RDFish:

    I know exactly where you are coming from, but let me put a counter-point:

    We know that the iCause can learn, because the tree of life shows evidence of learning.

    We know that the iCause can solve problems, because it has repeatedly solved far harder problems than crossword puzzles, for instance, inventing many modes of locomotion, energy storage, self-replication (something we still struggle with), resource exploitation etc, which I think addresses your 2 and 3.

    The one missing, I’d say, is 4, unless you count “evidence of desire to optimise” as one. Which I might.

  59. 59

    What it doesn’t seem to be very good at, however, is thinking ahead.

    At least, that’s the evidence that it does is the most shaky.

  60. 60
    PeterJ says:

    Hi RD,

    Thanks for your reply to me questions, and yes I think I understand you better now.

    I am at odds however to work out why you think ID should be able to support certain claims, especially ones that are very possibly outwith our abilities, and ones that I don’t consider ID to have made in the first place.

    Take for example something Joe mentions quite often ‘Stonehenge’. We can of course deduce that it was constructed using ‘intelligence’ as opposed to a random act of nature, but there are certain mysteries we cannot know for certain.

    Who were its designers? What was the purpose of its design? How was it constructed? etc.

    We can use our knowledge of humans and what we know about design to speculate on all of the above but we connot be certain about any of it.

    We speculate that it was designed by an intelligence, but we cannot show any other evidence of that, other than the construct itself.

    I am with StephenB on this, I think you are simply moving the goal posts a little. I think you are perfectly entitled to pose the question, but I don’t believe it necessitates an explanation as such. Some things are outwith our spectrum of detection, well, certainly for the time being. However there are some interesting studies being carried out that may yet yeild the answers you are seeking.

    EL,

    You suggest the Tree of Life shows evidence of the icause learning. Can you be more specific, and can you tell me which tree you have chosen to base this observation on, and how you know that it is the right one?

    Thanks guys.

  61. 61
    Joe says:

    Lizzie sez:

    What it doesn’t seem to be very good at, however, is thinking ahead.

    And yet the iCause figured out what conditions we humans would need to survive when we arrived.

    IOW once again Lizzie proves to be clueless.

  62. 62
    Joe says:

    OK, so ID has defined “Intelligence” and it is too bad for RD that he doesn’t like it or cannot understand it.

  63. 63
    RDFish says:

    Hi Lizzie,

    I would say that there is no evidence that the iCause can learn, no. There is evidence that evolutionary processes can learn (actually, they learn by definition), but ID presents no evidence that the iCause that created the first cells, the universe, and so on was capable of learning anything.

    As for problem solving: In order to assess whether something can solve problems, one needs to present the subject with a novel problem. Otherwise, you may simply be observing sphexish behavior that can be unmasked. Again, we can see that evolutionary processes solve novel problems – we can even confirm that experimentally.

    But as for the iCause that ID says explains life and the universe, there is no evidence of any particular mental ability at all.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  64. 64
    RDFish says:

    Hi PeterJ,

    I am at odds however to work out why you think ID should be able to support certain claims, especially ones that are very possibly outwith our abilities, and ones that I don’t consider ID to have made in the first place.

    I don’t think ID “should” do anything. I merely point out that the term “intelligence” is used without a definition in ID, so ID is a vacuous theory. In order to give ID any meaning, specific attributes must be declared for whatever it is that ID is presenting as the cause of life and the universe. But no specific attributes can be supported emprically.

    Take for example something Joe mentions quite often ‘Stonehenge’. We can of course deduce that it was constructed using ‘intelligence’ as opposed to a random act of nature, but there are certain mysteries we cannot know for certain.

    What do you mean by “intelligence” in this context? I should think we’d conclude that the builders were human. And if not human, we should conclude that the builders were life forms.

    We speculate that it was designed by an intelligence, but we cannot show any other evidence of that, other than the construct itself.

    What do you mean by “an intelligence”? For example, if I said I have “an intelligence” in my room here, what can you tell me about it? What test can you apply to see if I am correct that this thing is “an intelligence” or not? The point is that you can tell me nothing about this thing simply because I say it is “an intelligence” – not one single thing – because “intelligence” has no concrete meaning until it is qualified by saying what some particular thing (life form, being, entity, process, system, whatever) can actually do, or how it does it. Read the OP

    HERE

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  65. 65
    Joe says:

    RD:

    There is evidence that evolutionary processes can learn..

    Please present that evidence.

    but ID presents no evidence that the iCause that created the first cells, the universe, and so on was capable of learning anything.

    There isn’t any evidence that the iCause needs to learn anything.

    Again, we can see that evolutionary processes solve novel problems – we can even confirm that experimentally.

    Again, RD is NOT talking about blind watchmaker evolutionary processes. No one has ever seen blind watchmaker evolutionary processes solving anything but overpopulation.

    But as for the iCause that ID says explains life and the universe, there is no evidence of any particular mental ability at all.

    Just the design!

  66. 66
    Joe says:

    RD:

    I merely point out that the term “intelligence” is used without a definition in ID, …

    And IDists have pointed out that you are sadly mistaken.

    I should think we’d conclude that the builders were human.

    LoL! THAT’s it?!?!

    And if not human, we should conclude that the builders were life forms.

    LoL!

    We cannot test to see if those “life forms” can produce Stonehenge. We cannot test them to see if they can do anything.

    IOW RDguyFish is erecting strawman after strawman, not realising that reality alone, refutes him.

  67. 67
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    I don’t understand how you think libertarianism requires a separate capacity for moral judgement, but I’d rather not delve into that at the moment.

    You say that you don’t want to delve in to the very same subject you used as your opening gambit. Well, anyway, here is one definition of which I could approve:

    “Libertarian free will is basically the concept that, metaphysically and morally, man is an autonomous being, one who operates independently, not controlled by others or by outside forces. According to the Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (InterVarsity Press, 2002), libertarian free will is defined as “in ethics and metaphysics, the view that human beings sometimes can will more than one possibility. According to this view, a person who freely made a particular choice could have chosen differently, even if nothing about the past prior to the moment of choice had been different.” In the libertarian free will paradigm, the power of contrary choice reigns supreme. Without this ability to choose otherwise, libertarian free will proponents will claim that man cannot be held morally responsible for his actions.”

    I would say, then, that the ethical component is part of the definition. That is why ID does not require libertarian free will properly defined. ID does require the capacity to choose from options, of course, but that is a more narrow concept. It is kind of important to get the definition right since you claim that libertarian free will is an incoherent concept and are striving to associate it with ID, presumably for the purpose of claiming that ID is incoherent as well.

    It is interesting, though, for you to suggest that ID does not require libertarianism, as it seems to imply that a deterministic physical system operating according to fixed law and chance should be able to produce complex functional systems.

    To repeat, libertarian free will is not only about making strategic choices, it is also about making moral choices, especially in the context of being held morally responsible. Since you mistakenly claim that it is an incoherent concept, and since you want to associate it with ID without taking account of the moral component, I think it is important to begin with accurate definitions and characterizations.

  68. 68
    StephenB says:

    RDF

    As I explain in the OP here the term “intelligence” means nothing at all in the context of ID unless it is given a specific definition. The problem for ID is that once you actually try to say what is meant by “intelligence”, it becomes clear that there is no evidence to support the claim that the iCause exhibited it.

    Since your question seems to be exclusively yours, its implications will resonate differently with individual ID supporters. You already know my definition of intelligence as the capacity to fashion matter into form. It is that same form that is detected through the ID process. The evidence does support that claim that someone or something formed the matter. So if you are looking for a connection between the activity of design and the capacity to draw inferences from its effects, I think my scenario will do. Others may approach it differently because everyone will make of your unusual question what they will.

    Meanwhile, you continue to say that “no one,” (I guess that includes me) has responded to that challenge. On the contrary, I did respond but you claimed not to know what intelligent agency means. When I pointed out that everyone has known what agency means since Plato and Aristotle defined it as art, and when I pointed out that my definition of agency is consistent with their definition of art, you dropped the matter since your claims about the incomprehensibility of the definition were no longer credible. Why you want to revive it again on this thread is a mystery to me.

  69. 69
    StephenB says:

    RDF

    But as for the iCause that ID says explains life and the universe, there is no evidence of any particular mental ability at all.

    As I pointed out to you several times, ID doesn’t presume to explain the “universe,” it explains “certain features” in the universe. Since the point has been sufficiently explained and dramatized to the point where there could not possibly be any misunderstanding, I will, regretfully, have to conclude that your misrepresentation is willful. Please persuade me that this is not the case.

  70. 70
    kairosfocus says:

    SB:

    Well said.

    Yes, ID is about the ability to really choose. Absent that ability, we are unable to be responsible in thinking, deciding and acting. Indeed, ironically, it is evolutionary materialism that is in reality incoherent as it implies that our thoughts, decisions and so forth are wholly produced and controlled by forces shaped by survival of the fittest that have no organic connexion to truth, right, logic or responsibility. (For why I freely say that, 1,800 onllokers per day, cf. here on in context.)

    The attempt to project that problem unto us is little more than a turnabout rhetorical stratagem.

    KF

  71. 71
    StephenB says:

    KF, @70, thank you. Yes, the capacity to choose from among options is critical. Indeed, there is a philosophical component in the mix as well, and it transcends the ID paradigm. Some materialists, for example, want to claim that some kind of physical law brought the universe into existence as a whole. This is impossible since any creative act that brings something new into existence requires the ability to choose or not choose the act of creating. A law (or law-like regularity) cannot make that choice. It can only do what it does without variation.

  72. 72
    PeterJ says:

    Hi RD,

    Here’s an interesting review of Stephen Meyers book by Dr. Frank Turek, and below is a sample from it:

    “As Meyer points out, he’s not interpreting the evidence based on what we don’t know, but what we do know. The geologically sudden appearance of fully formed animals and millions of lines of genetic information point to intelligence. That is, we don’t just lack a materialistic explanation for the origin of information. We have positive evidence from our uniform and repeated experience that another kind of cause—namely, intelligence or mind—is capable of producing digital information. Thus, he argues that the explosion of information in the Cambrian period provides evidence of this kind of cause acting in the history of animal life. (Much like any sentence written by one of Meyer’s critics is positive evidence for an intelligent being).”

    The concept of an ‘Intelligence’ being responsible for the universe, life on this planet etc is not proved null because you haven’t recieved adequate answers to what you consider to be questions that need to be answered in order for to prove a positive for ID.

    Some of us, quite a lot of us actually, see it every where we look.

    Why not read the article.

    http://townhall.com/columnists.....page/full#

    I personally don’t see your questions as being difficult, or

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