Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

FYI-FTR: KS’s bomb fizzles by begging the question . . .


I was just challenged to reply to the KS “bomb” claim, and though I am busy, I will pause to note briefly, and will link this FYI-FTR to the thread of discussion where the challenge was made.

I think WJM, in his post on the failure of the bomb, ably put his finger on the first main failure:

Ultimately, keiths asks the question of IDists (to paraphrase)“why did the designer pick just one form of life and utilize just one lineage, when it could have utilized any number of alternate, non-nested systems?” – yet, keiths fails to ask the same question of the natural forces argument – why just one form of life, why one lineage, why one neat, nested hierarchy?

Keiths attempted logical argument claims to make the same assumptions about both natural and artificial causal agencies – that natural forces and design are both capable of originating life and generating the evolutionary processes and patterns we find. However, this is obviously not the only assumption keiths makes when it comes to the “natural forces” side of the argument; he assumes that natural forces could not have generated anything other than a nested hierarchy leading back to a UCA when it comes to biological life forms.

He simply asserts that this is what we should expect from natural forces and makes no case for it. If we provide the same assumptions on the ID side of the argument, then we must assume any designer could not have generated anything other than a nested hierarchy leading back to a UCA when it comes to biological life forms – which means that given the same assumptions on both sides of the ledger, keiths argument fails to produce a distinction between what we should expect to find if natural forces or if design agency generated life and evolution here on earth.

WJM, as usual, is spot on.

Darwin-ToL-full-size-copyThere is an underlying question-begging assumption that blind chance and mechanical necessity can credibly create life and will then by incremental transformation create major body plans in accord with a branching tree of life leading to a nested hierarchy.

On what empirical demonstration of the capability to do so in our observation — the epistemological touchstone of science — we ask?

ANS: Nil.

(U/D Nov 19: Kindly note here on the continued, now two years standing challenge to evolutionary materialism advocates to empirically found their claims on the causal powers of their suggested mechanisms for origin of life and of major body plans and in so doing, address the ToL from the roots up.)

On trillions of examples we directly know FSCO/I is caused by and through design processes, and we have only seen it by such processes. Mix in the relevant needle in haystack challenge (U/D Nov 5: the just linked corrects misunderstandings of and attempted objections to the challenge . . . ) and we easily see why. Life forms from origin and up through to us today, are chock full of ever more, more diverse FSCO/I. That by itself should be vera causa principle grounds for concluding design of the world of life. And, on fair comment, there is no reasonable much less conclusive observational evidence for blind chance and mechanical necessity are adequate to account for the origin of life and/or for major body plans. (For why I so boldly say that, kindly cf. here on in context. Also, look at this set of UD threads. That would be advisable before making dismissive or strawman tactic critiques.)

What has happened instead, is that Lewontin’s a priori evolutionary materialism has become a dominant, deeply indoctrinated view:

. . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . .  [–> worldviews level question-begging, leading to a Kulturkampf agenda of radical indoctrination in evolutionary materialism]  the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world [–> equating of accepting the reality of God to being irrational, an extremely arrogant and disrespectful attitude], the demons that exist only in their imaginations [–> demonising loaded language, and again question-begging], and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting] . . . .

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.    [–> exposure of inner spiritual motivation, fear and loathing of God leading to demonising him, viewing those who believe in him as irrational and “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” and more; and a declaration that science and science education are to be turned into propaganda front operations for an atheistical cultural agenda . . . no wonder atheistical activists are so desperate to suppress citation of this declaration of cultural war in the name of the science and science education elites.] [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis and notes added. If you have been led to imagine this is “quote mined” kindly cf the just linked fuller cite and notes. Also, in that context there are many more remarks that show this is not an isolated idiosyncratic view by an isolated individual, it reflects a major pattern and problem with both science and science education in our day.]

Philip Johnson’s reply to Lewontin is apt:

For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

. . . .   The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

KS’ bomb has fizzled out. END

PS, U/D Nov 5: On continued presentation of the claim, I used VJT’s skeletal summary of the KS argument to summarise a response on points, here:

I’d note, on points:

>> 1. We observe objective nested hierarchies (ONH)>>

Not quite, the homology/ resemblance implies relationship by descent principle even at gross level (eyes, wings etc) leads to “except where it doesn’t” and the diverse molecular trees undercut this claim. Diverse embryological development paths for obviously close creatures, also raise questions. Molecular structures and embryological development programs will be at least as important as gross ones.

>>2. Unguided evolution explains ONH>>

Begs the question of origin of FSCO/I on blind chance + mechanical necessity, in the teeth of strong evidence that the only observed source is design. So, we see a red herring and a question-begging assumption that plays to an indoctrinated gallery. Where origin/ source of FSCO/I is a bridge between OOL and origin of body plans requiring novel cell types, tissues, organs, arrangements and regulatory programs (esp. in embryological development). So, start at the root, OOL. No empirically grounded needle in haystack challenge plausible answer save design. How design is effected is secondary to that it credibly was effected.

>>3. A designer explains ONH, but also a trillion alternatives.>>

The word trillion is patently put in to rhetorically counter the fact that there are now — thanks to the Internet — trillions of cases in point of the observed source of FSCO/I, design; the only such observed source. That rhetorical device of distraction needs to be noted.

The next issue is the second diversion, from design — intelligently directed configuration — detected on tested empirically reliable sign, to the rhetoric of the Designer is God and evocation of the train of thoughts, we fear, loathe and hate God and think of followers of God with contempt — Dawkins’ recent writings being exhibit A. Multiplied by the radical attempt to question-beggingly redefine science on a priori materialism, warping its inferences on the past of origins through demanding that we substitute for the longstanding inference on natural [= chance plus necessity] vs the ART-ificial [= intelligently configured] spoken of by Plato and Newton alike, to natural vs supernatural. Where the latter is caricatured and dismissed as beyond science.

In fact, per empirically tested reliable signs, we routinely infer intelligently directed configuration on FSCO/I as sign — no one here thinks posts in this thread came about by lucky noise instead. The difference being exerted on cases of origins boils down to ideologically motivated selective hyperskepticism.

Next, tree-patterns shaped by design constraints and purposes are a commonplace pattern of designs. That is the existence of a treelike pattern is empirically known to be a result of design.

Linked, there is the problem of systematically missing transitionals, known since Darwin’s day. He hoped that future work would fill in but with 1/4 million species, millions of cases in museums and billions seen in the ground, the same pattern of distinct and separate forms without smooth incremental transitions remains. The idea of an organic incrementally branching pattern is projected unto the evidence not drawn out from it. But as those familiar with the problem of ideologically loaded misreading of situations backed by the fallacy of the closed mind know, undoing this error is very difficult.

Psychologically, it normally takes breakdown, at personal or community level. Just ask former cultists and former Marxists willing to speak plainly.

What is warranted, then, is just this: A designer explains ONH, but also a trillion alternatives

And with that, the rest of the anti-design argument collapses.

>>4. Both unguided evolution and a designer are capable of causing ONH.>>

Therefore, there is no reason to use tree patterns (and note again the dynanmics challenges above) to try to distinguish the two.

The argument collapses, pfft, like a stabbed tyre.

>>Conclusion: Unguided evolution is a trillion times better at explaining ONH. >>

This does not follow from the above chain of argument.

As has been pointed out in several ways from several directions.

It is time for KS et al to do some serious re-thinking.