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RDM’s challenge to naturalistic hyperskeptics regarding THEIR “extraordinary claims”

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NB: RDM paper, here

In the current VJT discussion thread on What Evidence is, RD Miksa asks a telling question (slightly adjusted for readability) of naturalistic hyperskeptics:

RDM, 25:  . . . the ironic thing to note in terms of comments from the anti-super-naturalist side is how they fail to realize that their very own arguments undermine their own naturalistic position. Indeed, note their use of the poorly-formulated but often used mantra “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Note how this mantra is used to claim–in the context of this discussion–how it is apparently more rational to believe that hundreds of witnesses hallucinated or colluded or lied rather than believe that a man levitated. But the problem is, such an argument can be turned right back on the naturalistic.

For example, consider that the biological realm reeks of the appearance of intentional design, as many naturalists themselves admit. But naturalists deny this and claim that neo-Darwinian evolution is reasonable. But this is an extraordinary claim. After all, just like with levitation, I have never seen one type of organism change into another type. I have never seen molecules change into animals than conscious men. But then the naturalists will say that scientists have looked at the evidence and have inferred that neo-Darwinian theory is the best explanation of the evidence at hand.

But suddenly, I retort: What’s more likely, that molecules evolved into men without design, something that no one has ever seen, or that

1) the scientists are lying due to a naturalistic prejudice and/or that

2) scientists are mistaken about their inference, and/or

3) that the scientists are biased in favor of naturalism and this unconsciously skews their interpretation of the evidence, and/or that

4) all the scientists are colluded together to promote evolution to keep their jobs, and/or that

5) people are sometimes honestly mistaken in their inferential efforts and that is probably the case with these scientists, and so on and so forth.

So, it is clearly more likely that [there] is a problem on the part of the scientists rather than that our uniform and repeated empirical evidence that species do not evolve into other species is wrong.

And since extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, I am perfectly rational to not believe in the extraordinary claim that is neo-Darwinian evolution. [ –> NB, March 1: Following up from comment 37 below, a more formal, detailed presentation in a paper by RDM is to be found here. KF]

The reactions to this were unintentionally quite illuminating, leading to an exchange. Let me clip:

MT, 27: . . . Thousands have witnessed Criss Angel levitate and walk on water. Do you think he has supernatural power?

RDM, 28: No, but not primarily because of scientific evidence, but rather because of eye-witness testimony…namely, the eye-witness testimony of Criss Angel who has specifically said that these are all magic tricks and that he has no such powers. Also, the eye witness testimony of numerous other people who testify that Criss Angel is a gifted magician, and thus he would be expected to perform such feats as an illusion. So it is testimony–namely, the testimony of the person that would know best, meaning Criss Angel–that is the evidence that demonstrates that these things are not occurring.

Furthermore, it is indisputable that the testimony of all those people makes it rational to believe that they observed Criss Angel levitate or walk on water. But then, when that testimony is combined with Criss Angel’s own testimony and past history, that factor than makes it more rational to believe that the best explanation of the event, when all the relevant testimony is considered, is that the people in question witnessed an illusion rather than the real thing . . .

G2, 29:  Same question to you: Do you believe people can levitate ?

RDM, 33: Expand your thinking a bit. My point was that today, many adults are magicians and illusionists with devices and machines to make illusions seem real. But a three year could not fit such criteria. By the same token, at the time Joseph of Cupertino lived, the devices used to make illusions of such a nature occur were not available either. Hence why in both cases there is the similarity that a wide scale illusion could not be manufactured as it could be by an aduot magician today. Furthermore, there are other cases for levitation than just that one . . . . [34:] now a questions for you: if thousands of people of diverse backgrounds and educations–atheists, naturalists, religious people, etc,– did see a three year old walk on water for a few minutes, then levitate, then walk on water again and there were no indications of fraud, what would you believe about that? Why?

G2, 35: I tend to lend a little more weight to a few hundred years of science and thousands, (millions?) of scientists who have never, never, observed, or had the slightest reason to suppose that walking on water, levitating, etc etc etc are possible. This sort of nonsense violates extremely basic assumptions such as conservation of energy, etc, that Im afraid the ‘eye witness’ accounts from long ago don’t sound very convincing. Its not that science must be obeyed, just where I would bet my money . . . . [37:] I didn’t actually answer your question. You are proposing a current event, which is completely different to an event observed many years in the past. Not the same thing. If its a current event, I would still be very sceptical. It could easily be a magic trick … how could I be sure its not the great Randi (in his heyday) ?

RDM, 39: Reference your comment: Perfect. And by argumentative parity, when it comes to neo-Darwinian evolution, I place more weight in the testimony of every single human being who have ever lived (including all scientists) and who have never seen one type of species evolve into another (nor have ever seen molecules evolve into man without guidance) rather than believe a comparatively few scientists who are biased and prejudiced in favour of naturlaistic explanations and, at best, simply making an inference about the evidence at hand, and could be lying, could be colluding, etc.

So.once again, as I said, the naturalists argument can be used against him to good effect. And in most cases, his only objection is essentially special pleading. As they say, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

VJT, 42: You write: “Thousands have witnessed Criss Angel levitate and walk on water. Do you think he has supernatural power?”

Here’s my answer: show me how a seventeenth century magician could have duped thousands into thinking that he was levitating in the air, several meters above ground, for hours on end and without any support such as a stick, and I’ll start taking your objection seriously.

Fascinating, and utterly revealing.

To round off, let me again cite Harvard Law School professor and founding father of the modern school of evidence, Simon Greenleaf:

KF, 1: . . . I draw attention again to the following from Simon Greenleaf’s Treatise on Evidence, Vol I ch 1:

Evidence, in legal acceptation, includes all the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved . . . None but mathematical truth is susceptible of that high degree of evidence, called demonstration, which excludes all possibility of error [–> Greenleaf wrote almost 100 years before Godel], and which, therefore, may reasonably be required in support of every mathematical deduction.

Matters of fact are proved by moral evidence alone; by which is meant, not only that kind of evidence which is employed on subjects connected with moral conduct, but all the evidence which is not obtained either from intuition, or from demonstration. In the ordinary affairs of life, we do not require demonstrative evidence, because it is not consistent with the nature of the subject, and to insist upon it would be unreasonable and absurd.

The most that can be affirmed of such things, is, that there is no reasonable doubt concerning them.

The true question, therefore, in trials of fact, is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but, whether there is sufficient probability of its truth; that is, whether the facts are shown by competent and satisfactory evidence. Things established by competent and satisfactory evidence are said to be proved.

By competent evidence, is meant that which the very-nature of the thing to be proved requires, as the fit and appropriate proof in the particular case, such as the production of a writing, where its contents are the subject of inquiry. By satisfactory evidence, which is sometimes called sufficient evidence, is intended that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond reasonable doubt.

The circumstances which will amount to this degree of proof can never be previously defined; the only legal test of which they are susceptible, is their sufficiency to satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man; and so to convince him, that he would venture to act upon that conviction, in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own interest. [A Treatise on Evidence, Vol I, 11th edn. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1888) ch 1., sections 1 and 2. Shorter paragraphs added. (NB: Greenleaf was a founder of the modern Harvard Law School and is regarded as a founding father of the modern Anglophone school of thought on evidence, in large part on the strength of this classic work.)]

If the sort of selective hyperskepticism you are seeing were applied across the board science, law, courts, management and general common sense guided conduct would collapse.

That is already a sign that something has gone deeply wrong.

Of course, we now too often see the notion that an aphorism popularised by Sagan allows us to take hyperskeptical liberties with evidence that is inconvenient for the now so boldly presented a priory evolutionary materialist scientism you are challenging. That is little more than willfully obtuse question-begging. So, instead a sounder approach would be to acknowledge that prejudice and hyperskepticism should be set to one side and that reasonable and adequate evidence should be shown some respect.

At least, by the reasonable.

And of course, on levitation, I must point out that there are enough witnesses around and there is enough record that there should be no doubt that it is real. Of course, in my own experience, I have reason to acknowledge that the source of such can be suspect, and I am acquainted with a case where the greater miracle being witnessed was in suppressing the degree of levitation and then breaking the hold of destructive forces.

Last but not least, your discussion has direct bearing on hyperskepticism in response to the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth; underscoring to me the sheer unreasonableness of far too many who indulge in such dismissiveness.

Those indulging such should take sober pause as they ponder the implications of the elevatorgate scandal.

RDM has clearly put his finger on a quite serious matter, and it will bear reflection. END

87 Replies to “RDM’s challenge to naturalistic hyperskeptics regarding THEIR “extraordinary claims”

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    BTW, G2, I have a right to the lab coat, and at least one other witness would have also. That is, your blanket statement that no [true?] scientist has seen, is falsified. KF

  2. 2

    I have never seen molecules change into animals than conscious men. ..What’s more likely, that molecules evolved into men without design, something that no one has ever seen…

    As evolutionary biology asserts that evolutionary changes of this magnitude occur over time scales unobservable by individual persons, the fact that individual persons have never observed such change has no relevance to evaluating the truth of that claim.

  3. 3
    Barry Arrington says:

    RB @ 2: You are missing the point. Think again.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    RB, actually, per logic, and the vera causa principle, it does. The point is we are dealing withthe unobserved and in the part of the deep past of origins, the unobservable. So, we reconstruct based on forces and factors that we need to show have adequate caual powers in the here and now. That has not at all been shown for claimed blind chance and mechanical necessity with respect to forming the FSCO/I rich molecules of life, or organising such into encapsulated metabolic automata with associted von Neumann kinematic self replicators using codes, algorithms and the like. It remains the case on trillions of examples that the only empirically known source of functionally specific complex organisation and associated information, FSCO/I, is intelligently directed configuration. Aka, design. KF

  5. 5
    RD Miksa says:

    Dear KF,

    Thank you for posting this; it is greatly appreciated. Just a few quick points.

    First, I am travelling today, and I still only have access to my cellphone, so I will not be able to post a great deal in response to this discussion till later today.

    Second, what I wrote above is not just some random idea I had. Rather, I have a 10000 word Masters Degree essay which I wrote which aims to show that Hume’s argument against miracles is actually an argument against naturalism, for Hume provides us with a reason to never rationally believe in abiogenesis, Darwinian evolution, or naturalistic theories of the emergence of conscious. His argument is fatal to naturalism, so I always laugh when naturalists use it. But anyway, if anyone wants that paper, please let me know.

    Third, I work in a job that deals heavily with testimony as evidence, and let me tell you: if we applied the skeptical standard that some commentators apply, nothing could ever be believed. No one could function in real life. So clearly some hyper selective skepticism is going on.

    Take care,

    RD

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    RDM, thanks. Could you contact me by clicking on my handle and pass me a copy of that thesis? I would love to read it, and I would already request permission to cite and use with permission! KF

    PS: The hyperskepticism issue is a major one. BTW one of the other witnesses I spoke of in the earlier thread is a lawyer.

  7. 7
    Joe says:

    RB:

    As evolutionary biology asserts that evolutionary changes of this magnitude occur over time scales unobservable by individual persons, the fact that individual persons have never observed such change has no relevance to evaluating the truth of that claim.

    You admit the claims are not scientific then. Throwing father time around is not science.

  8. 8
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Superb post by RD Miksa.
    Yes, the very same people who think that hundreds of eyewitness accounts of of levitation by a friar (who had nothing to gain from trickery) is laughable — but the idea that bacteria evolved into human beings, which no one has ever witnessed, is so certain that it’s a required belief for holding public office (or for keeping a job).

  9. 9
    RexTugwell says:

    RB @ 2

    As evolutionary biology asserts that evolutionary changes of this magnitude occur over time scales unobservable by individual persons, the fact that individual persons have never observed such change has no relevance to evaluating the truth of that claim.

    to which Dr. Behe responds in EoE:

    Time is actually not the chief factor in evolution— population numbers are. In calculating how quickly a beneficial mutation might appear, evolutionary biologists multiply the mutation rate by the population size. Since for many kinds of organisms the mutation rate is pretty similar, the waiting time for the appearance of helpful mutations depends mostly on numbers of organisms: The bigger the population or the faster the reproduction cycle, the more quickly a particular mutation will show up.

    That’s why Lenski is growing E.coli in his lab and not elephants.

  10. 10

    KF:

    The point is we are dealing withthe unobserved and in the part of the deep past of origins, the unobservable.

    Right. Given that, the fact that RDM has “never seen molecules change into animals than conscious men” has no bearing on the evaluation of the assertions of evolutionary biology, paleontology, etc., as those disciplines don’t posit events on time scales directly observable within the lifetimes of single individuals.

  11. 11
    Zachriel says:

    RexTugwell: That’s why Lenski is growing E.coli in his lab and not elephants.

    Good point. Lenski’s group has observed significant evolution in populations of bacteria. For instance, see Wiser et al., Long-Term Dynamics of Adaptation in Asexual Populations, Science 2013.

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    per RB at 2:
    The interesting thing about Darwinists appealing to deep time, (and random chance), to work miracles is that time (and ‘randomness) are both found to be deeply connected to entropy.
    In fact, Ludwig Boltzmann, an atheist, linked entropy and probability (i.e. linked entropy and ‘randomness’). Moreover, as Max Planck a Christian Theist points out, Boltzmann did not think to look for a constant for entropy:

    The Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann first linked entropy and probability in 1877. However, the equation as shown, involving a specific constant, was first written down by Max Planck, the father of quantum mechanics in 1900. In his 1918 Nobel Prize lecture, Planck said: “This constant is often referred to as Boltzmann’s constant, although, to my knowledge, Boltzmann himself never introduced it – a peculiar state of affairs, which can be explained by the fact that Boltzmann, as appears from his occasional utterances, never gave thought to the possibility of carrying out an exact measurement of the constant.”
    http://www.daviddarling.info/e.....ation.html

    Time and Gravity are both linked to entropy as well

    Shining Light on Dark Energy – October 21, 2012
    Excerpt: It (Entropy) explains time; it explains every possible action in the universe;,,
    Even gravity, Vedral argued, can be expressed as a consequence of the law of entropy. ,,,
    The principles of thermodynamics are at their roots all to do with information theory. Information theory is simply an embodiment of how we interact with the universe —,,,
    http://crev.info/2012/10/shini.....rk-energy/

    And irreversible entropy, despite the Darwinists vehement denials to the contrary (G. Sewell), is now also, experimentally, found to be connected to the information content inherent in the cell:

    Maxwell’s demon demonstration (knowledge of a particle’s position) turns information into energy – November 2010
    Excerpt: Until now, demonstrating the conversion of information to energy has been elusive, but University of Tokyo physicist Masaki Sano and colleagues have succeeded in demonstrating it in a nano-scale experiment. In a paper published in Nature Physics they describe how they coaxed a Brownian particle to travel upwards on a “spiral-staircase-like” potential energy created by an electric field solely on the basis of information on its location. As the particle traveled up the staircase it gained energy from moving to an area of higher potential, and the team was able to measure precisely how much energy had been converted from information.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....nergy.html

    Demonic device converts information to energy – 2010
    Excerpt: “This is a beautiful experimental demonstration that information has a thermodynamic content,” says Christopher Jarzynski, a statistical chemist at the University of Maryland in College Park. In 1997, Jarzynski formulated an equation to define the amount of energy that could theoretically be converted from a unit of information2 (in a cell); the work by Sano and his team has now confirmed this equation. “This tells us something new about how the laws of thermodynamics work on the microscopic scale,” says Jarzynski.
    http://www.scientificamerican......rts-inform

    Yet, the irreversible relationship of entropy to the information inherent in the cell is completely contrary to what Darwinists need for their theory to be true:

    “Gain in entropy always means loss of information, and nothing more.”
    Gilbert Newton Lewis – preeminent Chemist of the first half of last century

    “Bertalanffy (1968) called the relation between irreversible thermodynamics and information theory one of the most fundamental unsolved problems in biology.”
    Charles J. Smith – Biosystems, Vol.1, p259.

    Moreover, this consistent tendency of entropic processes of the universe, over deep time, to decrease information in a cell is overwhelmingly confirmed to be true from our laboratory work covering the last four decades:

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....evolution/

    As well, the irreversible process of ‘Genetic Deterioration’ over deep time is indicated in ‘realistic’ computer simulations over deep time:

    Using Numerical Simulation to Better Understand Fixation Rates, and Establishment of a New Principle – “Haldane’s Ratchet” – Christopher L. Rupe and John C. Sanford – 2013
    Excerpt: We have therefore independently demonstrated that the findings of Haldane and ReMine are for the most part correct, and that the fundamental evolutionary problem historically known as “Haldane’s Dilemma” is very real.
    Previous analyses have focused exclusively on beneficial mutations. When deleterious mutations were included in our simulations, using a realistic ratio of beneficial to deleterious mutation rate, deleterious fixations vastly outnumbered beneficial fixations. Because of this, the net effect of mutation fixation should clearly create a ratchet-type mechanism which should cause continuous loss of information and decline in the size of the functional genome. We name this phenomenon “Haldane’s Ratchet”.
    http://media.wix.com/ugd/a704d.....fa9c20.pdf

    Even Avida, when using realistic biological parameters as its default settings, instead of using highly unrealistic default settings as it currently does, also supports Genetic Entropy instead of Darwinian evolution:

    Biological Information – Mendel’s Accountant and Avida 1-31-2015 by Paul Giem
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGd0pznOh0A&list=PLHDSWJBW3DNUUhiC9VwPnhl-ymuObyTWJ&index=14

    Thus, Darwinists are found to be postulating that the irreversible ‘random’ events of entropy of the universe, entropic events which explain time itself in the first place, are creating information when in fact it is now shown that these random entropic events in the cell, and of the universe, will do exactly the opposite of what Darwinists claim they can do. These ‘random’ entropic events are found to be consistently destroying the information in the cell rather than ever creating it.
    For a Darwinists to appeal to deep time and random chance to ‘work miracles’ is the equivalent in science of someone claiming that gravity can make things fall up instead of down!
    That is not overstating the case in the least since gravity itself is tied to the deep time and ‘randomness’ inherent in entropy.

    Evolution is a Fact, Just Like Gravity is a Fact! UhOh! – January 2010
    Excerpt: The results of this paper suggest gravity arises as an entropic force, once space and time themselves have emerged.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....fact-uhoh/

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note: Entropy is also strongly associated with the death of our temporal bodies:

    Entropy Explains Aging, Genetic Determinism Explains Longevity, and Undefined Terminology Explains Misunderstanding Both – 2007
    Excerpt: There is a huge body of knowledge supporting the belief that age changes are characterized by increasing entropy, which results in the random loss of molecular fidelity, and accumulates to slowly overwhelm maintenance systems [1–4].,,,
    http://www.plosgenetics.org/ar.....en.0030220

    John Sanford on (Genetic Entropy) – Down, Not Up – 2-4-2012 (at Loma Linda University) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....L0#t=1040s

    Notes from John Sanford’s preceding video:
    *3 new mutations every time a cell divides in your body
    * Average cell of 15 year old has up to 6000 mutations
    *Average cell of 60 year old has 40,000 mutations
    Reproductive cells are ‘designed’ so that, early on in development, they are ‘set aside’ and thus they do not accumulate mutations as the rest of the cells of our bodies do. Regardless of this protective barrier against the accumulation of slightly detrimental mutations still we find that,,,
    *60-175 mutations are passed on to each new generation.

    This following video brings the point personally home to us about the effects of genetic entropy as we grow older:

    Aging Process – 85 years in 40 seconds – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A91Fwf_sMhk

    And yet, despite ‘random mutations’ undeniably strong connection to entropy and death, Darwinists still insist that unguided ‘random mutations’ are how they were created:

    Verse and Music:

    Proverbs 8:36
    “all they that hate Me love death.”

    Imagine Dragons – Radioactive
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktvTqknDobU

  14. 14
    Joe says:

    Zachriel:

    Lenski’s group has observed significant evolution in populations of bacteria.

    And everything observed agrees with baraminology. Go figure…

  15. 15
    Axel says:

    Indeed, Joe, throwing Father Time around is the prerogative of Mother Nature, as part of the ‘carte blanche’, she’s been given by her acolytes, notably including ‘selection’.

    No Christian thaumaturgy could compare with that of Mother Nature and her acolytes. Indeed, we are assured that Nothing, itself, is the supreme thaumaturge, and unsurprisingly, therefore, the font and origin of all thaumaturgy – necessarily, scientism-approved.

    Odd, isn’t it, that hypersceptics should be such paragons of the ‘naive realism’, Einstein spoke of in such pitying tones, while committed to belief in mythical fantasies to rival those of Tolkien.

    It’s a mad, mad world. And none the less so, for their idiosyncratic forays into science.

  16. 16
    Joe says:

    RB:

    Right. Given that, the fact that RDM has “never seen molecules change into animals than conscious men” has no bearing on the evaluation of the assertions of evolutionary biology, paleontology, etc., as those disciplines don’t posit events on time scales directly observable within the lifetimes of single individuals.

    Those disciplines posit untestable claims.

  17. 17
    Joe says:

    Axel, It is the unholy trinity-> mother nature, father time and some unknown materialistic process. 😉

  18. 18
    Me_Think says:

    But the problem is, such an argument can be turned right back on the naturalistic.
    For example, consider that the biological realm reeks of the appearance of intentional design, as many naturalists themselves admit. But naturalists deny this and claim that neo-Darwinian evolution is reasonable. But this is an extraordinary claim. After all, just like with levitation, I have never seen one type of organism change into another type. I have never seen molecules change into animals than conscious men.

    But the problem is, such an argument can be turned right back on the IDer.
    For example, consider IDer’s claim that the biological realm reeks of intentional design. IDer claim that ID Agent is reasonable explanation. But this is an extraordinary claim. After all, just like with levitation, we have never seen Saints convert one type of organism into another type. We have never seen ID agents (In fact we don’t have a clue about ID agent) change molecules into animals than conscious men.

  19. 19
    Axel says:

    Thing about Darwinism is that the issue is now way beyond their lacking evidence, in that the ‘coup de grace’ is given by the positive evidence AGAINST it.

    Only one is necessary….. a ‘black swan’, so to speak. And the Cambrian explosion is just that.

    Though, apart from overwhelming common sense, there is also the inadequacy of ‘deep time’ for abiogenesis and the other wild conjectures of the new metaphysical hooligans, with their multiworld, string theory, etc.

    I shouldn’t be surprised if some of you other lads and lasses haven’t other KO evidence against … well, there’s also the irreducible complexity, isn’t there.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    A few headaches as predicted, will be expensive one way or the other.

    Back for a bit.

    The unobservability of the deep past of origins is pivotal.

    It means we are dealing with TRACES of origins and need a reasonable causal account.

    One criterion for that is causal adequacy.

    Which, needs to be empirically warranted in the here and now, if this is to be science and not ideological, speculative just so stories.

    This is, of course the vera causa, uniformity principle, which gains its force from like causes like.

    Sooo now . . . in this corner we have the conventional wisdom, blind chance and necessity, which has never been shown to credibly cause FSCO/I.

    Aaaand . . . in this corner is the dark horse candidate, intelligently directed configuration; readily seen to be a source of FSCO/I, and as well the only cause plausible under the blind, needle in haystack search challenge.

    Vera causa implies, only explain on known cause, evolutionary materialism insists that it can do the job never mind never seen to and not plausible relative to needle in haystack searches on config spaces beyond 10^150 to 10^301.

    The reasonable man will bet on design.

    And, not seen to be causally adequate is a highly relevant issue, given the inaccessibility of the remote past of origins for observation.

    KF

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    per MT an 18:

    “We have never seen ID agents”

    says the intelligent agent who just wrote far more semiotic information than has ever been observed being created by unguided material processes:

    Do You Like SETI? Fine, Then Let’s Dump Methodological Naturalism – Paul Nelson – September 24, 2014
    Excerpt: Epistemology — how we know — and ontology — what exists — are both affected by methodological naturalism. If we say, “We cannot know that a mind caused x,” laying down an epistemological boundary defined by MN, then our ontology comprising real causes for x won’t include minds.

    MN entails an ontology in which minds are the consequence of physics, and thus, can only be placeholders for a more detailed causal account in which physics is the only (ultimate) actor. You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed you of that event after the fact.

    “That’s crazy,” you reply, “I certainly did write my email.” Okay, then — to what does the pronoun “I” in that sentence refer?

    Your personal agency; your mind. Are you supernatural?,,,

    You are certainly an intelligent cause, however, and your intelligence does not collapse into physics. (If it does collapse — i.e., can be reduced without explanatory loss — we haven’t the faintest idea how, which amounts to the same thing.) To explain the effects you bring about in the world — such as your email, a real pattern — we must refer to you as a unique agent.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....90071.html

    John Lennox – Is There Evidence of Something Beyond Nature? (Semiotic Information) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6rd4HEdffw

    Book Review – Meyer, Stephen C. Signature in the Cell. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
    Excerpt: As early as the 1960s, those who approached the problem of the origin of life from the standpoint of information theory and combinatorics observed that something was terribly amiss. Even if you grant the most generous assumptions: that every elementary particle in the observable universe is a chemical laboratory randomly splicing amino acids into proteins every Planck time for the entire history of the universe, there is a vanishingly small probability that even a single functionally folded protein of 150 amino acids would have been created. Now of course, elementary particles aren’t chemical laboratories, nor does peptide synthesis take place where most of the baryonic mass of the universe resides: in stars or interstellar and intergalactic clouds. If you look at the chemistry, it gets even worse—almost indescribably so: the precursor molecules of many of these macromolecular structures cannot form under the same prebiotic conditions—they must be catalysed by enzymes created only by preexisting living cells, and the reactions required to assemble them into the molecules of biology will only go when mediated by other enzymes, assembled in the cell by precisely specified information in the genome.
    So, it comes down to this: Where did that information come from? The simplest known free living organism (although you may quibble about this, given that it’s a parasite) has a genome of 582,970 base pairs, or about one megabit (assuming two bits of information for each nucleotide, of which there are four possibilities). Now, if you go back to the universe of elementary particle Planck time chemical labs and work the numbers, you find that in the finite time our universe has existed, you could have produced about 500 bits of structured, functional information by random search. Yet here we have a minimal information string which is (if you understand combinatorics) so indescribably improbable to have originated by chance that adjectives fail.
    http://www.fourmilab.ch/docume.....k_726.html

    Stephen Meyer – The Scientific Basis Of Intelligent Design – video
    https://vimeo.com/32148403

    Info-graphic: Intelligence is the most causally adequate explanation for irreducible complexity and specified complexity (functional information) in biochemistry
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....77191.html

    Response to Darrel Falk’s Review of Signature in the Cell – Stephen Meyer
    Excerpt: The central argument of my book is that intelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past. First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form). Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power. Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question.
    http://www.signatureinthecell......l-falk.php

  22. 22
    Zachriel says:

    Axel: Only one is necessary….. a ‘black swan’, so to speak. And the Cambrian explosion is just that.

    You would have to show that evolution couldn’t account for the Cambrian Explosion rather than that evolution doesn’t have a current account for the Cambrian Explosion. In fact, there is substantial evidence of evolution during the period.

  23. 23
    Me_Think says:

    bornagain77 @ 21

    “We have never seen ID agents”
    says the intelligent agent who just wrote far more semiotic information than has ever been observed being created by unguided material processes

    ID agent BA77 couldn’t type the entire sentence for some reason, so here it is:

    We have never seen ID agents (In fact we don’t have a clue about ID agent) change molecules into animals than conscious men

    Any one seen an ID agent do that?

  24. 24

    KF:

    It means we are dealing with TRACES of origins and need a reasonable causal account.

    RDM did not state, “I have never seen historical traces of molecules changing into animals than conscious men.”

    He stated, “I have never seen molecules change into animals than conscious men.”

    As evolutionary theory does not not posit that changes of that magnitude should be observable by individual persons – and in fact posits the opposite (that evolutionary changes of that magnitude require many, many lifetimes and are therefore not directly observable) – RDM’s failure to observe such changes has no relevance to the truth of evolutionary claims.

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    RB:

    He actually said:

    consider that the biological realm reeks of the appearance of intentional design, as many naturalists themselves admit. But naturalists deny this and claim that neo-Darwinian evolution is reasonable. But this is an extraordinary claim. After all, just like with levitation, I have never seen one type of organism change into another type. I have never seen molecules change into animals than conscious men. But then the naturalists will say that scientists have looked at the evidence and have inferred that neo-Darwinian theory is the best explanation of the evidence at hand.

    But suddenly, I retort: What’s more likely, that molecules evolved into men without design, something that no one has ever seen, or that

    1) the scientists are lying due to a naturalistic prejudice and/or that

    2) scientists are mistaken about their inference, and/or

    3) that the scientists are biased in favor of naturalism and this unconsciously skews their interpretation of the evidence, and/or that

    4) all the scientists are colluded together to promote evolution to keep their jobs, and/or that

    5) people are sometimes honestly mistaken in their inferential efforts and that is probably the case with these scientists, and so on and so forth.

    So, it is clearly more likely that [there] is a problem on the part of the scientists rather than that our uniform and repeated empirical evidence that species do not evolve into other species is wrong.

    And since extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, I am perfectly rational to not believe in the extraordinary claim that is neo-Darwinian evolution.

    I suggest, we cannot observe the deep past of origin of life or body plans.

    We observe traces of various kinds.

    We try to explanatorily reconstruct.

    In so doing, we should be guided by the vera causa criterion that we should use observed, empirically demonstrated to be adequate causes.

    KF

  26. 26
    Axel says:

    “We have never seen ID agents”

    says the intelligent agent who just wrote far more semiotic information than has ever been observed being created by unguided material processes:

    tee hee tither tither …. as the protagonists used to laugh in the Beano and Dandy of the late forties.

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    Funny MT, you expect unguided material processes to accomplish turning molecules into life (and then into conscious men), which is something we can’t do even with all our technology.
    Shoot, we can’t even mimic life properly using all our technology, due to the staggering level of integrated complexity being dealt with!:

    To Model the Simplest Microbe in the World, You Need 128 Computers – July 2012
    Excerpt: Mycoplasma genitalium has one of the smallest genomes of any free-living organism in the world, clocking in at a mere 525 genes. That’s a fraction of the size of even another bacterium like E. coli, which has 4,288 genes.,,,
    The bioengineers, led by Stanford’s Markus Covert, succeeded in modeling the bacterium, and published their work last week in the journal Cell. What’s fascinating is how much horsepower they needed to partially simulate this simple organism. It took a cluster of 128 computers running for 9 to 10 hours to actually generate the data on the 25 categories of molecules that are involved in the cell’s lifecycle processes.,,,
    ,,the depth and breadth of cellular complexity has turned out to be nearly unbelievable, and difficult to manage, even given Moore’s Law. The M. genitalium model required 28 subsystems to be individually modeled and integrated, and many critics of the work have been complaining on Twitter that’s only a fraction of what will eventually be required to consider the simulation realistic.,,,
    http://www.theatlantic.com/tec.....rs/260198/

    Mycobacterium tuberculosis – Metabolic map poster
    http://bioinformatics.ai.sri.c.....-metab.pdf

    Escherichia coli – Metabolic map poster
    http://bioinformatics.ai.sri.c.....-metab.pdf

    “Complexity Brake” Defies Evolution – August 8, 2012
    Excerpt: Consider a neuronal synapse — the presynaptic terminal has an estimated 1000 distinct proteins. Fully analyzing their possible interactions would take about 2000 years. Or consider the task of fully characterizing the visual cortex of the mouse — about 2 million neurons. Under the extreme assumption that the neurons in these systems can all interact with each other, analyzing the various combinations will take about 10 million years…, even though it is assumed that the underlying technology speeds up by an order of magnitude each year.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62961.html

    And yet the Darwinist dogmatically claims that unintelligent causes created that level of jaw dropping integrated complexity. And calls IDists unscientific (and much worse) for saying it cannot be done by unguided processes and that it requires a vastly superior intelligence to man’s to be rationally explained.

    Such is the netherworld of the Darwinist’s reasoning, where chaos reigns supreme and is not to ever be questioned!

  28. 28
    wallstreeter43 says:

    Me-think said
    “”We have never seen ID agents (In fact we don’t have a clue about ID agent) change molecules into animals than conscious men””

    What we have only seen in our existence as a species specified complex information coming from only an intelligent source .mwhat we have never observed is specified complex information coming from blind chance and chemical interaction so the onus is on you to show your extraordinary claim.

  29. 29
    RD Miksa says:

    RB at 24 (10:48 am) said:

    “As evolutionary theory does not not posit that changes of that magnitude should be observable by individual persons – and in fact posits the opposite (that evolutionary changes of that magnitude require many, many lifetimes and are therefore not directly observable) – RDM’s failure to observe such changes has no relevance to the truth of evolutionary claims.”

    Yes, but my failure to observe such changes has a great deal of bearing on whether I am rational to believe that evolution occurred, just as Hume’s Argument Against Miracles was not arguing that miracles don’t happen, but rather that if they do, we are nevertheless still not rational to believe that they did given that (Hume claims) no amount of testimonial evidence for the miraculous could ever surpass our constant experiential evidence for the regularity of nature, especially (Hume claims) given that most people offering testimony for the miraculous have flaws that make their testimony suspect. I, like Hume, am arguing that no amount of scientific testimony concerning their inferences from the evidence for the truth of neo-Darwinian evolution can ever overcome the experiential evidence of all of humanity for the regularity of nature that 1) life only comes from life, 2) that species remain in their type, and 3) that conscious things only come from already conscious things; and this is especially the case given that the scientists providing the testimony for evolution have numerous flaws that makes their inference suspect. So again, I am just mirroring Hume’s argument, which the very argument that naturalist’s love (and this is all in my paper).

    And this is the same with the “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” mantra; that mantra is not claiming that extraordinary things do not happen, but just that it is only rational to believe that extraordinary events happen if you have extraordinary evidence for such events. And until and unless you have such evidence, you are not rational to believe that the event occurred, whether or not it actually did. So I am making an epistemological argument (asking whether it is rational to believe that something occurred regardless of whether it actually did or not). So do not confuse these two aspects.

    More to follow…

  30. 30
    RD Miksa says:

    RB at 2 (06:29 am) said:

    “As evolutionary biology asserts that evolutionary changes of this magnitude occur over time scales unobservable by individual persons, the fact that individual persons have never observed such change has no relevance to evaluating the truth of that claim.”

    And RB at 10 (08:42 am) said:

    “Right. Given that, the fact that RDM has “never seen molecules change into animals than conscious men” has no bearing on the evaluation of the assertions of evolutionary biology, paleontology, etc., as those disciplines don’t posit events on time scales directly observable within the lifetimes of single individuals.”

    Now, in response to RB, I will provide three points. But before I do, remember that the key aspect of my argument is that it uses principles and ideas that naturalists routinely use against super-naturalists, but it uses these ideas against naturalism itself. In essence, it aims to show that if the naturalist is consistent, then, via his own principles, he shows naturalism to be irrational to believe in. So, with that in mind, here are the three points in response to RB.

    1) First, using RB’s own words and argument against him in a paraphrased fashion (from the above), consider if I said this: “Right. Given that, the fact that [some naturalist] has “ever seen [Joseph of Cupertino levitate] has no bearing on the evaluation of the assertions of [the testimony of that event], as [proponents of that historical event don’t posit that such an event would be directly observable in the lifetime of current people, given that it is a historical event].

    Now, of course, no naturalist would accept such a response and would demand to actually see and witness a levitation before believing it, but, once again, by argumentative parity, why cannot I ask to actually see one species transform into another before I believe such a theory. If the naturalist can demand observable evidence for a potentially one-time extraordinary supernatural event that was historical in nature before he believes it, then why cannot I demand observable evidence for the extraordinary historical event (abiogenesis and the evolutionary transition of species) before I believe it. And this brings me to my second point…

    2) Second, remember that it is naturalists that routinely use the mantra “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” At the same time, it is once again naturalists who routinely remind us that the person making the positive claim has the burden of proof. And so, in the context of this discussion, it is the naturalist who has the burden of proof for providing the extraordinary evidence to support his extraordinary claim. And the extraordinary evidence that I need is some direct observation of this evolutionary transition from one species to another that the naturalist keeps saying can happen (just like the naturalist routinely demands to see a massive miracle in front of his face before he believes). And if the naturalist responds that such evidence cannot be provided due to the limitations of his theory, then so much the worse for the naturalist and his theory. After all, I am not the one making the claim, for I “just lack a belief in the truth of neo-Darwinian evolution” and thus have no burden of proof (another thing that atheists like to say). The naturalist is the one making the extraordinary claim, so he should support it with extraordinary evidence. Why should I lower my standard of rationality just because the naturalist cannot adequately support his theory? Either provide the extraordinary evidence, or don’t expect me to believe your theory. As they say: Put up, or shut up.

    And again, as a comparative example, just imagine if a naturalist said that he needed to see a miracle to believe in the supernatural and since he has not seen one, he does not believe in the supernatural. If I then I responded that, well, my “theory” says that God does not perform miracles to unbelievers due to their lack of faith and so asking for such evidence is unfair, the naturalist would laugh in my face. He would then reinforce that I have the burden of proof and that I need to support my extraordinary claim with extraordinary evidence. And yet, when I demand the very same thing of the naturalist for his extraordinary claim, the naturalist somehow thinks it is unfair.

    3) My third and final point is just to note that RB is actually incorrect in claiming that what I am asking for could not be shown. After all, naturalists often see science as being almost divine in scope and power, and there is nothing in-principle that states that a scientist could not create some kind of a contained lab that could mimic an environment in which the evolutionary process could occur but on a rapidly increased time-scale, thus potentially allowing me to see one species transform into another without guidance or design. Now the naturalist might retort that we do yet have such technology, and to which I would reply: “Well then, you best get on that!” Because until and unless the naturalist does, I am, once again, perfectly rational to withhold belief in the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution.

    So again, my point here is that the naturalist, by using the principles that he does, falls into a trap. Either he is consistent with his principles, which then renders his naturalism rationally unbelievable, or else he is inconsistent with his principles, which then exposes him as being intellectually hypocritical and just another special-pleading selective-skeptic. Either way, the naturalist loses.

  31. 31
    wallstreeter43 says:

    Excellent post RDM 🙂

  32. 32
    RD Miksa says:

    Me_Think at 18 said:

    But the problem is, such an argument can be turned right back on the IDer. For example, consider IDer’s claim that the biological realm reeks of intentional design. IDer claim that ID Agent is reasonable explanation. But this is an extraordinary claim. After all, just like with levitation, we have never seen Saints convert one type of organism into another type. We have never seen ID agents (In fact we don’t have a clue about ID agent) change molecules into animals than conscious men.

    Three points reference this:

    1) First, notice how Me_Think does not answer the argument, but just tries to deflect attention away from the problems this raises for naturalism by trying to show that it raises problems for ID as well. Quite telling.

    2) Second, we could admit that this argument hits both naturalism and ID, but then use it just as an argument to destroy the rational believability of naturalism. Essentially it is an argument that could only be used to undercut naturalism, rather than do that as well as build up ID.

    3) Third, and finally, Me_Think is actually wrong. Why? Well, in brief, my argument (which is, once again, just a re-working of Hume’s Argument against miracles and which I will be forwarding to KF) shows that it is not rational to believe that 1) life came from non-life, or that 2) one species transformed into another, or that 3) consciousness arose from unconsciousness, which is what naturalism requires. Why? Because all our experiential evidence of the regularity of nature (which is what Hume defined as a law of nature) shows that 1) life only comes from life, and that 2) species remain fixed, and that 3) conscious things only come from things already conscious, and that totality of experiential evidence can never be overcome by the testimony of a few scientists who tell us to believe their inference that evolution is the best explanation of the evidence, especially since the testimony and inference of such scientists is suspect for various reasons. And so, when comparing the evidence, it is simply not rational to believe the testimony of some suspect scientists over all of humanity’s experiential experience of the above regularities of nature (life only from life, species fixed, and consciousness only from already conscious things). And yet we still have to explain how life arose, how species came to be, and how consciousness exists. But if we cannot rationally believe the naturalistic explanation, then, by elimination, only the supernatural option is left. And this option is even more cogent given that a supernatural designer, especially an omnipotent and omniscient one, would be alive in the relevant sense (thus life from life), would be able to design species (species fixed in type (ID)), and would already be conscious (so consciousness from consciousness). And thus, a supernatural designer (omnipotent and omniscient) is a more rational explanation to believe in for the phenomena in question than a naturalistic explanation is.

    Once again, this is literally Hume’s Argument Against Miracles (which naturalists routinely use) transformed into a parallel argument against naturalism.

  33. 33

    RDM

    Consider if I said this: “Right. Given that, the fact that [some naturalist] has “ever seen [Joseph of Cupertino levitate] has no bearing on the evaluation of the assertions of [the testimony of that event], as [proponents of that historical event don’t posit that such an event would be directly observable in the lifetime of current people, given that it is a historical event].

    This is perfectly fine. The fact that no living person has seen Joseph of Cupertino levitate has no bearing upon the truth of the claim that JoC levitated in the 17th century, as that claim does not entail living witnesses, naturalist or otherwise. That fact alone is not a reason to regard the claim of levitation more skeptically. Of course, neither is the absence of contemporary witnesses evidence for JoC’s levitation, as you point out.

    Similarly, the fact that no living person has seen ‘molecules to man’ evolution has no bearing upon the truth value of the assertions of evolution, as it is not an entailment of evolutionary theory that evolutionary events of that magnitude can be observed by single individuals in their lifetimes. It follows that the absence of such observations is not a reason to regard the claims of evolutionary theory more skeptically, as you mistakenly claim.

    What IS entailed by evolutionary theory is that such transitions require geological time scales unobservable by single individuals. It follows that your direct observation of ‘molecules to man’ would cast strong doubt upon the standard evolutionary account, which would be unable to explain such a transition. So even the evidence you demand in order to be convinced of the reality of evolution would itself count as evidence against the standard evolutionary scenario. So it doesn’t appear that you have any notion of what would or would not count for or against the assertions of evolutioary biology.

    That said, as with JoC levitation, while the absence of observation of such transitions is consistent with evolutionary claims, that absence certainly doesn’t count as evidence in support of evolutionary theory.

    why cannot I ask to actually see one species transform into another before I believe such a theory.

    Because one species transforming into another on a time scale you can directly observe is not an entailment of evolutionary theory, and indeed would be an event that threatened discomfirmation of evolutionary theory. So, again, you don’t really have any notion of what would count as evidence for or against evolutionary theory.

    the extraordinary evidence that I need is some direct observation of this evolutionary transition from one species to another that the naturalist keeps saying can happen

    But no naturalist states that these transitions occur on a time scale remotely observable by you or any other single individual. Therefore your requirement for such an observation arises out of your apparent ignorance of evolutionary claims, and is unrelated to the actual claims of evolutionary theory.

    My third and final point is just to note that RB is actually incorrect in claiming that what I am asking for could not be shown…I am, once again, perfectly rational to withhold belief in the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution.

    Actually, you seem perfectly innocent of the main claims of evolutionary theory and what would and would not count as evidence for and against its principle elements.

  34. 34
    Me_Think says:

    RD Miksa @ 32

    And this option is even more cogent given that a supernatural designer, especially an omnipotent and omniscient one, would be alive in the relevant sense (thus life from life), would be able to design species (species fixed in type (ID)), and would already be conscious (so consciousness from consciousness).

    We agree that ID is Creationism, so people can levitate and fly, Demons can possess people, Angry God can hit you with lighting and thunder, Fairies can push the planets in their path and there can be local anti-gravity stadium where witch and ‘anti-witch’ can play Quidditch 🙂

  35. 35
    RD Miksa says:

    RB,

    Reference Post 33:

    Ignoring your pretentious “you don’t really have any notion of what would count as evidence for or against evolutionary theory” claim, let’s focus on what little substance there is in your last post, even though it does not seem like you really read the full scope of my various responses. But nevertheless, here goes (and note that there will be a number of points presented with the critical one at the end).

    First, remember that one of my main points is to show that the naturalist is being demonstrably hypocritical and selective in the use of his principles. So, again, let me articulate the following in light of what you just said above: Imagine that a naturalist and I are talking about God and I am trying to convince the naturalist that the supernatural exists. Imagine further that the naturalist then tells me that he wishes to personally observe what he would consider a sufficient miracle before he believes in the supernatural. I then reply that my “theory” of miracles is that God will not perform them in the presence of unbelievers because of the unbelievers lack of faith (a la Matthew 13:57-58) and thus that if he actually experienced a miracle, this would be disconfirmation that my theory was correct. Thus, by asking to see a miracle to prove my theory, the naturalist really does not have any notion of what would count as evidence for or against my theory. Now, what would the naturalist do upon receiving such an answer: he would laugh in my face and then tell me that in that case, he was perfectly rational to ignore my theory and not believe in it. And this is how the majority of naturalists would react. So why is the disbeliever in abiogenesis and neo-Darwinian evolution not justified to use the naturalist’s modus operandi and do the same?

    Second, as I pointed out earlier, there is absolutely nothing that would in-principle prevent scientists from being able to create an artificial environment where evolutionary forces and pressures could exist but at a rapidly increased time-scale (just like a car can have ten years of wear and tear put on it in a few hours through special testing), thus making it possible to “see” evolution in action without “disconfirming” the theory. So, in-principle, it could be possible to observe evolution in action in such a way.

    Third, I call BS on your claim that seeing evolution in action in one life-time would disconfirm the theory. If something like the above environment was created and it literally did make it possible to observe species transition from one to another in a short span of time, Darwinists the world-over would be screaming that that was the greatest scientific break-through in a century and perfect confirmation of neo-Darwinian theory. Indeed, it is highly doubtful that they would suddenly say that the theory had been disconfirmed.

    Fourth, I call BS again. For once again, if, say, Lenski’s bacteria experiment were to clearly show that over the course of his experiment, one of his bacteria had literally changed into something that could no longer be legitimately defined as the type of bacteria that it originally was (meaning, essentially, a different “species”, to use the common word), that would also be hailed as a great scientific break-through and clear confirmation of neo-Darwinian evolution. No one would claim that the transitioning of that bacteria into something else had “disconfirmed” the neo-Darwinian paradigm. And yet, such an event could occur in one human life-time.

    Fifth, for the sake of argument, let us accept your premise that I should not be asking to actually “observe” the transition of one species to another. However, that is just one aspect of my point. Another aspect concerns abiogenesis. Now, logically speaking, on naturalism, at one point something did not fit the description of being alive and then at another point that thing did fit that description. Again, there is no in-principle reason that such a transition from non-living to living could not be directly observed under the right laboratory conditions. So forget evolution, just show me abiogenesis.

    Sixth, once again, for the sake of argument, let me accept your premise that I should not be asking to actually “observe” the transition of one species to another. So then let us ignore that requirement. Instead, all I ask for is numerous and multiple “transitional” fossils that clearly and unequivocally, in small increments, delineate the transformation of one species to another. Now such evidence would not “disconfirm” evolution but support it. Nor is such evidence in-principle not available. And again, since extraordinary claims apparently require extraordinary evidence (as naturalists tell us), such is the extraordinary evidence that I am requesting before I believe in the neo-Darwinian paradigm (again, just like the naturalist requests some big miracle before he believes). Furthermore, since I just lack a belief in neo-Darwinism, and since the burden of proof is on the person making the position claim (again, as naturalists routinely tell us), then I am perfectly rational in my agnosticism about neo-Darwinism until and unless such evidence is presented to me.

    Finally, my main argument in this whole discussion is based on Hume’s Argument Against Miracles, except that I have used it as an argument against naturalism. And, once again, as I already articulated earlier, this is the sum of the argument:

    (From Post 29 and 32, respectively)

    …Hume’s Argument Against Miracles was not arguing that miracles don’t happen, but rather that if they do, we are nevertheless still not rational to believe that they do given that (Hume claims) no amount of testimonial evidence for the miraculous could ever surpass our constant experiential evidence for the regularity of nature (which is what Hume defines as a law of nature), especially (Hume claims) given that most people offering testimony for the miraculous have flaws that make their testimony suspect. I, like Hume, am arguing that no amount of scientific testimony concerning their inferences from the evidence for the truth of neo-Darwinian evolution can ever overcome the experiential evidence of all of humanity for the regularity of nature that 1) life only comes from life, 2) that species remain in their type, and 3) that conscious things only come from already conscious things; and this is especially the case given that the scientists providing the testimony for evolution have numerous flaws that makes their inference suspect. So again, I am just mirroring Hume’s argument, which the very argument that naturalist’s love (and this is all in my paper).

    …my argument (which is, once again, just a re-working of Hume’s Argument against miracles and which I will be forwarding to KF) shows that it is not rational to believe that 1) life came from non-life, or that 2) one species transformed into another, or that 3) consciousness arose from unconsciousness, which is what naturalism requires. Why? Because all our experiential evidence of the regularity of nature (which is what Hume defined as a law of nature) shows that 1) life only comes from life, and that 2) species remain fixed, and that 3) conscious things only come from things already conscious, and that totality of experiential evidence can never be overcome by the testimony of a few scientists who tell us to believe their inference that evolution is the best explanation of the evidence, especially since the testimony and inference of such scientists is suspect for various reasons. And so, when comparing the evidence, it is simply not rational to believe the testimony of some suspect scientists over all of humanity’s experiential experience of the above regularities of nature (life only from life, species fixed, and consciousness only from already conscious things). And yet we still have to explain how life arose, how species came to be, and how consciousness exists. But if we cannot rationally believe the naturalistic explanation, then, by elimination, only the supernatural option is left. And this option is even more cogent given that a supernatural designer, especially an omnipotent and omniscient one, would be alive in the relevant sense (thus life from life), would be able to design species (species fixed in type (ID)), and would already be conscious (so consciousness from consciousness). And thus, a supernatural designer (omnipotent and omniscient) is a more rational explanation to believe in for the phenomena in question than a naturalistic explanation is.

  36. 36
    Mung says:

    Evolution. No one can see it happen. Therefore it’s a fact.

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I have received, pdf’d and have then hosted RDM’s paper here; it looks like some good food for thought. Especially for evolutionary materialists and fellow travellers who may have thought they had cornered the market on scientifically, evidentially well grounded rationality. KF

  38. 38
    RD Miksa says:

    Dear KF,

    Thank you again for posting my paper. Very greatly appreciated. And if anyone has any comments about it, I would greatly like to hear them. Thank you.

    RD Miksa

  39. 39
    Mung says:

    Just another reminder that Hume was a fraud and his modern disciples are ignorant buffoons.

  40. 40
    Piotr says:

    Yes, Mung, Hume was a fraud, as sure as monks can fly.

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung,

    Your tone is uncalled for, please turn it down.

    Piotr

    Pardon, your selective hyperskepticism is showing.

    Where, the events witnessed by thousands on differing sides of major controversies and copiously documented in eyewitness lifetime far surpasses Babbage’s threshold for meeting what was legitimate in Hume . . . where also, this was about as remote from Hume as the run up to WWI is from us so he in fact had little excuse.

    (Onlookers, cf context here.)

    KF

  42. 42

    RDM:

    Ignoring your pretentious “you don’t really have any notion of what would count as evidence for or against evolutionary theory” claim…

    Your failed attempt at turnabout revolves around the absence of a particular sort of “evidence” for evolution (“I have never seen molecules change into animals than conscious men”), which you take as justification for increased skepticism and a correspoding demand for even more “evidence” of that kind (““the extraordinary evidence that I need is some direct observation of this evolutionary transition from one species to another that the naturalist keeps saying can happen”).

    But neither “molecules chang(ing) into animals than conscious men” nor “direct observation of this evolutionary transition from one species to another” at a pace you can observe is entailed by evolutionary theory. Therefore the absence of the first can hardly count as justification for heightened skepticism of evolutionary claims – unless you don’t understand those claims. Neither would observation of the second confirm evolutionary theory – unless, again, you fail to grasp the actual entailments of evolution. The flat fact is that both are inconsistent with actual entailments of evolution, and were they witnessed in nature both would create significant challenges for an evolutionary view. How rapidly such processes could be modeled has no bearing on this point.

    So there is no pretention in pointing out that your statements and demands above reflect no apparent understanding of what would and would not count as evidence for or against evolution. It’s right there on the page.

    it does not seem like you really read the full scope of my various responses.

    One need find only one hole in a bucket to know that it doesn’t hold water. And your implied claims (“If evolution were true I should have witnessed molecules changing into animals, and then into conscious men” and, “if evolution were true I should have directly witnessed evolutionary transitions of one species into another”) is all the evidence one needs to conclude that you are bereft of clue vis what would and would not count as evidence for or against evolution.

  43. 43
    Joe says:

    Reciprocating Bill keeps admitting tat his position makes untestable claims. Strange that he seems to think that is a positive aspect.

    He also seems to be ignorant of the fact that ID is not anti-evolution. He does say something about entailments yet he does not say what evolutionism entails.

  44. 44
    RD Miksa says:

    RB,

    I’m writing from my cellphone, so I will have to be relatively brief. And given your complete lack of response to my numerous points–two of which rebut your claim that evolution / abiogensis could not be met and two that accept your premise for the sake of argument and still show that you are wrong–I have good reason to believe that you are not arguing in good faith (possibly not even reading what I wrote), so I take that into account.

    At the same time, I note that you have also misunderstood my point. My point is not that my lack of observational evidence for evolution increases my skepticism of it. Rather, it is that, like the naturalist (and using his principles), I start with the a priori idea that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I also a priori start (again, just like naturalists do) with the view that extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims would be direct observation or thousands of witnesses put to the most stringent srutiny (again, just like naturalists do for miracles). I then look at neo-Darwinism and deem it an extraordinary claim. As such, I demand (again just like naturalists do) that that claim provide extraordinary evidence for itself before I believe it. If the claim cannot provide the evidence that I deem extraordinary, I do not believe it (again, just like naturalists do). The fact that the theory is such that it cannot provide such evidence is not my problem (again, like the naturalist would say if I told him that my theory of miracles could not make a miracle appear to him). After all, the burden of proof is on the one making the positive claim (again, like the naturalist often says). And why should I lower my standard of evidence just because your theory cannot meet such a standard (something which the naturalist again says when asked to belive in miracles on the strength of testimony rather than direct observation).

    Thus, in sum, the point is to show that the naturalists principles can be used against him. If extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and if the burden of proof is on the one making the positive claim, and if ‘extraordinary evidence’ is a subjective factor that is determined by me (all of which are principles that naturalists agree with and use when arguing against miracle claims), then it is clear that if the naturalists can use these principles to routinely reject miracle claims testified to by hundreds of people, then I can use the same principles to reject the inferences of a few scientists concerning the alleged truth of neo-Darwinian evolution.

    So the naturalist, through his own principles, has provided the very tools to show that naturalism is rationally unbelievable. Now if you reject the above naturalistic principes, then there is no problem. But at the same time, if you do reject such principles then the naturalistic argument against believing in miracles collapses as well.

  45. 45
    RD Miksa says:

    Joe,

    And as I said above in my earlier post, we all know that if, say, Lenski’s bacteria experiment, over the next 20-30 years, actually documented an instance of macro-evolution (Or if scientists set up a lab where abiogenesis could be seen to happen), then both RB and every other proponent of neo-Darwinism would be screaming that this was clear direct OBSERVATIONAL confirmation of evolution in one human lifetime, even though today he says that seeing such a thing would disconfirm the theory. It seems that they want to have it both ways: direct observation of macro-evolutionary change in one liftime should not be requested and would actually disconfirm the theory, but if he conditions are created that make it observable, then this would be clear proof of the truth of evolution in action. Tails I win,heads you lose.

  46. 46
    RD Miksa says:

    RB,

    I re-read your last post and it just reinforced how completely you failed to understand the argument. Again, the argument is not that “if evolution is true then I should witness one species tranform into another”; rather, the argument is that evolutionary claims are extraordinary and I demand extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims, and the extraordinary evidence I demand for extraordinary claims is direct observation, and since neo-Darwinists cannot provide me with such evidence, and since the burden is on them to do so, then I am quite rational to maintain my lack of belief in neo-Darwinian claims until such evidence is provided to me, regardless of whether or not the theory is such that it has trouble matching these claims and regardless of whether or not the claims of neo-Darwinism are true.

    And this is EXACTLY what naturalist do and say when demanding evidence for the claims of supernaturalism. Which again brings me to my original point: the principles used by the naturalist can b easily turned on the naturalist to show that naturalism should not be believed in until and unless extraordinary evidence is provided for its extraordinary claims.

  47. 47

    RDM:

    I then look at neo-Darwinism and deem it an extraordinary claim. As such, I demand (again just like naturalists do) that that claim provide extraordinary evidence for itself before I believe it. If the claim cannot provide the evidence that I deem extraordinary, I do not believe it (again, just like naturalists do). The fact that the theory is such that it cannot provide such evidence is not my problem.

    I’m afraid it is your problem, as you are requesting observations of events that don’t follow from evolutionary theory, and that indeed evolutionary theory predicts should be absent and hence, of course, not observed. And you would accept those backward observations as dispositive evidence for evolution.

    The problem appears to be that you’ve nary a clue regarding what evolutionary theory entails, and what would count as evidence for or against it. Indeed, you get it backward.

  48. 48

    RDM:

    I am quite rational to maintain my lack of belief in neo-Darwinian claims until such evidence is provided to me, regardless of whether or not the theory is such that it has trouble matching these claims and regardless of whether or not the claims of neo-Darwinism are true.

    If your goal is to accurately evaluate the claims of evolutionary biology, then your approach is not rational at all. In that instance, rationality would consist in understanding what evolutionary theory actually entails, and testing those entailments against observation.

    Inventing entailments of your own that either have no bearing upon evolutionary theory, or actively conflict with the actual entailments evolutionary theory, and withholding your belief on the verdict of observation relative to these homespun entailments would be profoundly irrational – again, were it your goal to accurately evaluate the claims of evolutionary theory.

    Perhaps that isn’t your goal.

  49. 49
    Curly Howard says:

    Miksa, characterizing the entire body of work that is the field of evolutionary biology as “the inferences of a few scientists,” is your problem. It’s laughable and it shows just how much you know and understand the theory.

    The field has amassed more evidence than any one person could understand in a lifetime, probably multiple lifetimes, and does so through scientists who spend their entire lives studying life and it’s history. They’ve forgotten more things about biology than you will ever learn. If you’re going to say the entire field is wrong, then you have a lot of work to do. If you’re just going to keep claiming it’s unbelievable, well then that’s your choice and demonstrates your complete ignorance of the established science behind evolution.

    But I guess that’s what we’d expect from UD.

  50. 50
    Box says:

    Curly Howard: The field has amassed more evidence than any one person could understand in a lifetime, probably multiple lifetimes, and does so through scientists who spend their entire lives studying life and it’s history. (…) and demonstrates your complete ignorance of the established science behind evolution.

    Name one single piece of evidence for unguided evolution.

  51. 51
    RD Miksa says:

    Attention Naturalists,

    Please try to finally understand this: given that my argument can be used for various issues, it has nothing specifically do with evolution although evolution is a good example for the argument to use.

    Rather, and again (I don’t know how many times this has to be repeated) the point is that when the naturalist’s own principles are used against him, namely:

    – That extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    – That the burden of proof is on the person making the claim.

    – That what counts as extraordinary evidence is largely subjective

    – And that the person who just lacks a belief in the positive claim has no burden of proof.

    Then it becomes quite easy to justify the claim that the extraordinary claims that neo-Darwinism make do not meet the threshold of extraordinary and thus that agnosticism concerning neo-Darwinism is fully justified.
    That is the point: to show that when the principes that the naturalist uses to refuse believing in the supernatural are turned around on his own claims, then it is just as easy for the supernaturalist to deny the claims that the naturalist makes as it is for the naturalist to deny the claims of the supernaturalist.

    And again, this is all formalized in the essay that KF linked to.

    So, do you finally get it?

  52. 52
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Hey RD Miksa,

    This is a great thread. I know the Naturalists are slow to understand your argument but I get it and it is way cool.

    I plan on adding it to my arsenal. 😉

    It might help if the Critics among stop seeing this as a positive argument against evolution and instead see it as a theist defense against Hume.

    What it does is allow Theism and Materialism to be evaluated solely on their own merits instead of skewing the playing field in favor of materialism.

    When the two positions are weighed with the same scales materialism fails, There is no contest.

    peace

  53. 53

    RDM:

    Then it becomes quite easy to justify the claim that the extraordinary claims that neo-Darwinism make do not meet the threshold of extraordinary and thus that agnosticism concerning neo-Darwinism is fully justified.

    Actually, it all collapses when the “threshold of extraordinary” is defined by persons unfamiliar with the entailments of the theory or claims in question and makes irrational demands for evidence that is irrelevant to, or even contradicted by, the actual entailments of the theory.

  54. 54
    Joe says:

    This alleged evolutionary theory seems to be missing. No one can link to it so we can see what it actually entails.

    We know Reciprocating Bill won’t link to it so we can check his claims.

  55. 55
    Joe says:

    Curly Howard- Evolutionary biologists can’t even tell us what makes an organism what it is. That means it can’t even answer a basic question of biology.

  56. 56
    RD Miksa says:

    The final way (and perhaps the best way) that I will try to explain the point that I am getting at is through an illustration. As such, imagine this conversation between a naturalist and a supernaturalist (and inspired by the original post in VJ Torley’s “What is evidence…” post and by the commentary that followed that post as well as by Larry Moran’s response to VJ Torley).

    Supernaturalist: I claim that a few centuries ago, a friar named Joseph of Cupertino levitated.

    Naturalist: Well, the burden of proof is on the person making the positive claim, so the burden of proof for that claim is on you. Furthermore, the idea of levitation goes against all of my empirical experience and against all my experience of the regularity of nature. Therefore, your claim is extraordinary, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Therefore, not only are you required to provide me with evidence for your claim, but that evidence must be extraordinary in character.

    Supernaturalist: Well, the friar was witnessed levitating by hundreds of people.

    Naturalist: Hmm, not extraordinary enough. Such people could be gullible, easily duped, etc.

    Supernaturalist: Actually, the witnesses were princes, princesses, judges, and other highly esteemed individuals who lived by their word and swore to seeing the friar levitate.

    Naturalist: Well, still not extraordinary enough. Such people could have been hallucinating or the friar could have been a primitive illusionist.

    Supernaturalist: Actually, the friar was witnessed levitating in numerous different places, on hundreds of different occasions, often spontaneously, and these episodes occurred over the course of years.

    Naturalist: Interesting, but still not extraordinary enough. After all, all these “witness” could have colluded together for one big lie. It’s possible.

    Supernaturalist: Yes, but…

    Naturalist: After all, what is more likely, that some friar levitated or that all the experiential evidence that I have gained concerned the regularity of nature and which shows that people do not levitate is wrong.

    Supernaturalist: But the testimonial evidence is overwhelming!

    Naturalist: But not powerful enough for such an extraordinary claim that goes against all the regularities of nature that all my experience testifies to. Perhaps if I witnessed a person levitate today and filmed it then I would believe it.

    Supernaturalist: But the friar is dead now. He cannot levitate for you now! Asking for that is not reasonable!

    Naturalist: Well then, too bad for your extraordinary claim, as it does not have the extraordinary evidence to make it rationally believable. Maybe it actually did happen, but your evidence is not extraordinary enough to make your claim rational for me to believe in. And remember that I have no burden of proof, for I just ‘lack a belief’ in levitation.

    Supernaturalist: But all that testimonial evidence…

    Naturalist: …could just be lies, or hallucinations, or any number of things. Remember, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence before they can be rationally believed (even if they did actually happen), and your evidence simply is not extraordinary enough for me.

    Supernaturalist: But you are just being hyper-skeptical towards a conclusion that you do not like!

    Naturalist: Excuse me, but I will not lower my standard of rationality just because your extraordinary claim cannot be backed by the extraordinary evidence that I demand. End of discussion!

    Now let’s replay this discussion using the same principles and ideas that the naturalist used above but with the roles reversed and with the topic of discussion changed.

    Naturalist: I claim that abiogenesis occurred, that species evolved into other totally different species without guidance or design, and that consciousness arose from unconscious matter (all required by naturalism).

    Supernaturalist: Well, the burden of proof is on the person making the positive claim, so the burden of proof for those claims is on you. Furthermore, the idea that abiogenesis occurred, that species evolved into other totally different species without guidance or design, and that consciousness arose from unconscious matter goes against all of my empirical experience and against all my experience of the regularity of nature (that life only comes from life, that species remain fixed, and that conscious things only come from already conscious things). Therefore, your claims are extraordinary, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Therefore, not only are you required to provide me with evidence for your claims, but that evidence must be extraordinary in character.

    Naturalist: Well, the consensus of biologists is that these things occurred naturally.

    Supernaturalist: Hmm, not extraordinary enough. Such people could be gullible, easily duped, blinded by a naturalistic bias, prejudiced in favour of naturalistic explanations due to their practice of methodological naturalism, and so on.

    Naturalist: But we have fossil evidence and other physical evidences for these claims that scientists tell us are best explained by inferring that abiogenesis, unguided evolution, and the emergence of consciousness occurred.

    Supernaturalist: Well, still not extraordinary enough. Such people could have been mistaken in their inferences from the evidence or biased enough that it unconsciously tainted their evidential inferences in favour of naturalistic explanations.

    Naturalist: Actually, there are multiple lines of converging and powerful evidence for these claims.

    Supernaturalist: Interesting, but still not extraordinary enough. After all, all these “scientists” could have colluded together for one big lie. It’s possible. Plus, there currently is no naturalist explanation of abiogenesis or how consciousness arose. And double-plus, evolution is generally filled with a bunch of ‘just-so stories’ for explanations for such things as sexual reproduction.

    Naturalist: Yes, but…

    Supernaturalist: After all, what is more likely, that abiogenesis occurred, that species evolved into other totally different species without guidance or design, and that consciousness arose from unconscious matter or that all the experiential evidence that I have gained concerning the regularity of nature and which shows that life only comes from life, that species remain fixed, and that conscious things only come from conscious things is wrong.

    Naturalist: But the testimonial evidence from the scientists is overwhelming!

    Supernaturalist: But not powerful enough for such extraordinary claims that go against all the regularities of nature that all of my experience testifies to (life only from life, species remain fixed, conscious things coming only from previously conscious things). Perhaps if I witnessed abiogenesis occur, and witnessed species evolve into other totally different species without guidance or design, and witnessed consciousness arise from unconscious matter today and filmed it then I would believe it.

    Naturalist: But these things cannot be witnessed today! Abiogenesis, the evolution of species, and the emergence of consciousness all arose in the deep past and cannot be reproduced now. Asking for that is not reasonable!

    Supernaturalist: Well then, too bad for your extraordinary claims, as they do not have the extraordinary evidence to make them rationally believable for me. Maybe they actually did happen, but your evidence is not extraordinary enough to make your claims rational for me to believe in. And remember that I have no burden of proof, for I just ‘lack a belief’ in your claims.

    Naturalist: But all that testimonial evidence from the scientists…

    Supernaturalist: …could just be lies, or bias, or any number of things. Remember, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence before they can be rationally believed (even if they did actually happen), and your evidence simply is not extraordinary enough for me.

    Naturalist: But you are just being hyper-skeptical towards a conclusion that you do not like!

    Supernaturalist: Excuse me, but I will not lower my standard of rationality just because your extraordinary claims cannot be backed by the extraordinary evidence that I demand! End of discussion.

    And so hopefully the point is finally clear. When the naturalist’s own principles and argumentative tactics are applied to his own naturalistic claims, he shows his own position to be rationally unbelievable. Thus, the naturalist is stuck in a bind: 1) either he admits that his own principles make naturalism rationally unbelievable, or 2) he engages in intellectual hypocrisy by holding to naturalism even while being aware of Point 1, or 3) he changes the principles that he uses. But if the naturalist chooses Option 3, then suddenly his main argument for refusing to believe in the supernatural will be removed, thus meaning that he will have to face the fact that by reasonable evidentiary standards, miracles are quite well justified. Either way, the naturalist faces a serious problem!

    So again, hopefully the whole point of my argument is finally and clearly understood.

  57. 57
    RD Miksa says:

    RB at 53 said:

    Actually, it all collapses when the “threshold of extraordinary” is defined by persons unfamiliar with the entailments of the theory or claims in question and makes irrational demands for evidence that is irrelevant to, or even contradicted by, the actual entailments of the theory.

    First, read what I posted above.

    Second, (and please, for the love of God, understand this) it is the naturalist with his ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’ mantra, and then his subjective interpretation of what ‘extraordinary evidence’ is who is making irrational demands for evidence when dealing with the so-called extraordinary claims of supernaturalism. And yet, it is that very same naturalist who suddenly bitches and moans the minute that the supernaturalist does the very same thing to the extraordinary claims of naturalism.

    Third, again, I call BS on your ‘actual entailments of the theory point.’ As I have said on multiple and repeated occasions, there are a number of ways that scientists could create the experiments necessary to make evolution observable without violating the entailments of the theory (see Comment 35, Point 2, 3, and 4). So why do you keep ignoring those points.

    Fourth, and again, I call another BS on your ‘actual entailments of the theory point.’ As I said to Joe: And as I said above in my earlier post, we all know that if, say, Lenski’s bacteria experiment, over the next 20-30 years, actually documented an instance of macro-evolution (or if scientists set up a lab where abiogenesis could be seen to happen), then both RB and every other proponent of neo-Darwinism would be screaming that this was clear direct OBSERVATIONAL confirmation of evolution in one human lifetime, even though today he says that seeing such a thing would disconfirm the theory. It seems that they want to have it both ways: direct observation of macro-evolutionary change in one lifetime should not be requested and would actually disconfirm the theory, but if he conditions are created that make it observable, then this would be clear proof of the truth of evolution in action. Tails I win, heads you lose.

    Fifth, and as I also said in Comment 35: …for the sake of argument, let us accept your premise that I should not be asking to actually “observe” the transition of one species to another. However, that is just one aspect of my point. Another aspect concerns abiogenesis. Now, logically speaking, on naturalism, at one point something did not fit the description of being alive and then at another point that thing did fit that description. Again, there is no in-principle reason that such a transition from non-living to living could not be directly observed under the right laboratory conditions. So forget evolution, just show me abiogenesis.

    Sixth, and as I also said in Comment 35: …for the sake of argument, let me accept your premise that I should not be asking to actually “observe” the transition of one species to another. So then let us ignore that requirement. Instead, all I ask for is numerous and multiple “transitional” fossils that clearly and unequivocally, in small increments, delineate the transformation of one species to another. Now such evidence would not “disconfirm” evolution but support it. Nor is such evidence in-principle not available. And again, since extraordinary claims apparently require extraordinary evidence (as naturalists tell us), such is the extraordinary evidence that I am requesting before I believe in the neo-Darwinian paradigm (again, just like the naturalist requests some big miracle before he believes). Furthermore, since I just lack a belief in neo-Darwinism, and since the burden of proof is on the person making the position claim (again, as naturalists routinely tell us), then I am perfectly rational in my agnosticism about neo-Darwinism until and unless such evidence is presented to me.

    So again, the point is this: if the naturalist is rational in his use of almost any excuse to deny the overwhelming testimonial evidence for something like the levitations of someone like Joseph of Cupertino simply because the naturalist claims that the testimonial evidence is simply not extraordinary enough to believe such an extraordinary claim like levitation, then the supernaturalist–using the exact same principles that the naturalist uses–can be equally rational in his use of almost any excuse to deny the evidence for the extraordinary naturalistic claims of abiogenesis, unguided evolution, and consciousness from unconscious matter simply because the supernaturalist can claim (just like the naturalist does) that the scientific evidence is simply not extraordinary enough for the extraordinary claims that the naturalist makes. Again, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

  58. 58
    RD Miksa says:

    Dear fifthmonarchyman,

    You said:

    It might help if the Critics among stop seeing this as a positive argument against evolution and instead see it as a theist defense against Hume.

    Indeed, the argument is ultimately meant to throw the naturalist into a fatal dilemma: either reject Hume and his Argument Against Miracles, but then face the fact that there is plenty of reasonable evidence for the truth of miracle claims and the supernatural, or else accept Hume’s argument but then realize that the very principles behind that argument, when turned on naturalism, make naturalism rationally unbelievable. Either way, the naturalist has a serious problem.

    And thank you very much for the kind words in your comment. Plus, did you see the link that KF posted to my more formal paper about this subject?

    Take care.

  59. 59
    RD Miksa says:

    It might help if the Critics among stop seeing this as a positive argument against evolution…

    Oh, I forgot to add that you are right here as well. The argument is not so much an argument against evolution, but rather it is an argument that is meant to show that if a person believes that the evidence for evolution is sufficient to make it rational to believe in, then he should accept the evidence for miracles (and the supernatural) given that such evidence is just as good or better, albeit different, than the evidence for evolution. Thus, the whole point is not necessarily to deny that it is rational to believe in evolution, but rather to show that it is irrational to not believe in the sufficiency of the evidence for miracles (and the supernatural) if one is willing to accept the sufficiency of the evidence for evolution. So again, in a critical way, the goal is not to deny evolution per se (or abiogenesis), but rather to show that if one accepts the evidence for evolution, then the same person has no rational excuse to not accept the evidence for miracles; and any such excuse would be no more than special pleading or selective skepticism.

  60. 60
    kairosfocus says:

    RDM, very well thought-through. Selective hyperskepticism is always fatally incoherent as if one disbelieves what one should accept on accessible and credibly adequate warrant, one must therefore believe what one ought not to believe per its want of adequate warrant. Including, I add, culpable agnosticism rooted in willful obtuseness or the like. KF

  61. 61
    Box says:

    RDM,

    I can only agree with your argument – what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
    However, there seems to be one problem: not only is there no “extraordinary” evidence for naturalism, there is also no “ordinary” evidence. IOW your argument would come in handy if there would be ordinary evidence – or any evidence whatsoever – for the naturalist position, but since there isn’t any it seems a bit misplaced. It’s like shooting with a cannon on a mosquito.

  62. 62
    RD Miksa says:

    Dear Box,

    While I agree that naturalism is an irrational position for various argumentative and evidentiary reasons, the fact is that many naturalists see naturalism as the only rational position to hold (and many people perceive naturalism as very rational), and they believe that in large part due to the principles that they use (as described above) and due to such things as Hume’s Argument Against Miracles. Thus, to be able to use the naturalist’s own principles against him to show that naturalism is made irrational by those very principles is a goal that is, in my view, quite worthy and powerful.

  63. 63
    bornagain77 says:

    RD Miksa, you may appreciate this video (12 minutes).

    God, Immanuel Kant, Richard Dawkins, and the Quantum – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQOwMX4bCqk
    It is argued that Quantum Physics and Relativity invalidate Kant’s objection against the proofs of the existence of God. Quantum experiments demonstrate that there are visible corporal effects that originate from invisible spiritual causes..

  64. 64
    RD Miksa says:

    Dear bornagain77

    Thank you for the link. I appreciate it and I will check it out shortly.

    Sincerely,

    RD Miksa

  65. 65

    RDM:

    First, read what I posted above.

    It’s a UD tradition that, when a conversation fails to follow the anticipated script, ID proponents imagine their own debate, providing both sides of the exchange. They always win! Welcome to the fold.

    I call BS on your ‘actual entailments of the theory point.’ As I have said on multiple and repeated occasions, there are a number of ways that scientists could create the experiments necessary to make evolution observable without violating the entailments of the theory

    Your call fails.

    The context of my remarks is your statement, “I have never seen molecules change into animals than conscious men. ..What’s more likely, that molecules evolved into men without design, something that no one has ever seen…” (my emphasis). The context you supplied is the history of life on earth, and ultimately of human evolution, not laboratory experiment.

    Within that historical context, evolutionary theory entails that the events you demand to witness occur over time scales that are unobservable by individual persons. “Molecules to animals” spanned ~thirty million centuries. “Animals to conscious men” another ~five million centuries. Even the most rapid punctuationist account of speciation posits the “sudden appearance” of species over tens of thousands of years. That’s why you haven’t witnessed any such transitions: the span of your lifetime is too brief, by many orders of mangnitude, to observe evolutionary events of the kind you demand to observe. The fact that you haven’t witnessed such transitions has zero bearing on the likely accuracy of that evolutionary account. Citing “something that no one has ever seen…” as justification for skepticism betrays your innocence of the actual claims of evlolutionary theory. Demanding to see as “extraordinary evidence” transitions of a magnitude that that evolutionary theory predicts no one can never directly observe betrays the same, illustrating the hazards involved when the uninformed attempt to evaluate scientific claims and set their own evidentiary standards.

    By the way, you’re not being honest with yourself. If and when investigators devise an experimental setup within which the extraordinary evidence you demand presents itself you will continue to withhold belief in evolution – citing the very experimental manipulations employed by those investigators as instances of “intelligence” manipulating events. We’ve seen this many times already.

    it is the naturalist with his ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’ mantra, and then his subjective interpretation of what ‘extraordinary evidence’ is who is making irrational demands for evidence when dealing with the so-called extraordinary claims of supernaturalism.

    You’d be right to characterize a “naturalist” who employs reasoning as faulty as your own, as exemplified by your reasoning over evolution (and “evolution is a good example for the argument to use”), as irrational.

  66. 66
    Joe says:

    Reciprocating Bill doesn’t have any idea what evolutionism entails. However he does continue to prove that his version is untestable and therefor unscientific.

  67. 67
    RD Miksa says:

    RB,

    You’d be right to characterize a “naturalist” who employs reasoning as faulty as your own, as exemplified by your reasoning over evolution (and “evolution is a good example for the argument to use”), as irrational.

    Wonderful, that was exactly my point, for you have just made the case that about 90% of naturalists (at least those on the internet)—and including Hume, given that he originated this argument, as my paper explains—are irrational given that they argue in precisely the way that I have demonstrated. For some quick and easy evidence of this claim, see Larry Moran’s response to VJ Torley in the “What is evidence” post as well as the comments from naturalists about that post. They essentially do exactly what I said: claim that they would never believe in the levitation of Joseph of Cupertino no matter what the testimonial evidence for it is given that that evidence will never be extraordinary enough for them (see below for more details). Furthermore, even high-end naturalists admit this. For example, consider this quote from atheist JJC Smart (and which I use in the footnotes of my paper that KF linked to):

    …someone who has naturalistic preconceptions will always in fact find some naturalistic explanation more plausible than a supernatural one… Suppose that I woke up in the night and saw the stars arranged in shapes that spelt out the Apostle’s Creed. I would know that astronomically it is impossible that stars should have changed their position. I don’t know what I would think. Perhaps I would think that I was dreaming or that I had gone mad. What if everyone else seemed to me to be telling me that the same had happened? Then I might not only think that I had gone mad—I would probably go mad.”

    So again, the point is to use the naturalist’s principles—like JJC Smart’s idea that the naturalist will always find an explanation for his own position more plausible than any evidence against it—against the naturalist to show that his method of arguing is irrational and unreasonable given that he has already tacitly admitted that no evidence could ever convince him of the supernatural (as JJC Smart admits). But since you already tacitly conceded this fact by claiming that my naturalist-copying method of arguing was irrational, I guess I don’t need to convince you that most naturalists argue irrationally. Thank you for admitting the whole point of my argument.

    It’s a UD tradition that, when a conversation fails to follow the anticipated script, ID proponents imagine their own debate, providing both sides of the exchange. They always win! Welcome to the fold.

    And apparently it’s something of a UD tradition that naturalistic commentators either don’t actually read or don’t understand or just ignore what is being said to them. That way they can always say the arguments against their position fail. And seems like you are already part of that fold.

    Within that historical context, evolutionary theory entails that the events you demand to witness occur over time scales that are unobservable by individual persons. “Molecules to animals” spanned ~thirty million centuries. “Animals to conscious men” another ~five million centuries. Even the most rapid punctuationist account of speciation posits the “sudden appearance” of species over tens of thousands of years. That’s why you haven’t witnessed any such transitions: the span of your lifetime is too brief, by many orders of mangnitude, to observe evolutionary events of the kind you demand to observe. The fact that you haven’t witnessed such transitions has zero bearing on the likely accuracy of that evolutionary account. Citing “something that no one has ever seen…” as justification for skepticism betrays your innocence of the actual claims of evlolutionary theory. Demanding to see as “extraordinary evidence” transitions of a magnitude that that evolutionary theory predicts no one can never directly observe betrays the same, illustrating the hazards involved when the uninformed attempt to evaluate scientific claims and set their own evidentiary standards.

    And once again, you fail to understand the point. The point is to use the naturalists own principles against him and to show the naturalist that his own way of arguing undermines his naturalism. So again—and to continue to use the levitation example of Joseph of Cupertino and the responses to that example—the naturalist (such as Larry Moran) deems himself rational to deny the overwhelming testimonial evidence for that event because the evidence for the event, to him, is not extraordinary enough to reach his subjective threshold of extraordinary. In fact, this is what Larry Moran says:

    If thousands of people reported that St. Cupertino just walked around in the garden then that would be quite unremarkable and we could tentatively accept it as true even if we remained skeptical about eyewitness reports. But when you make an extraordinary claim that goes against all experience, then the evidence has to be truly extraordinary in order to even qualify as evidence. I don’t believe that St. Cupertino actually flew around parts of Italy in the 1600s because there are much more reasonable explanations for the reports that have been written. Those naturalistic explanations don’t require all the extra baggage that you have to take on if you assume that the reputed observations were true.

    Now watch me use Larry Moran’s own method of reasoning against him: “But when you make an extraordinary claim [that life comes from non-life, that species evolved, and that consciousness came from unconscious matter] that goes against all experience [that life only comes from life, that species remain fixed, and that conscious things only come from already conscious things], then the evidence has to be truly extraordinary in order to even qualify as evidence. I don’t believe that [life comes from non-life, that species evolved, and that consciousness came from unconscious matter] because there are much more reasonable explanations for the [inferences that naturalistic scientists make]. Those [super]naturalistic explanations don’t require all the extra baggage [such as believing that life could come from non-life, that species could evolve, and that consciousness has to come from unconscious matter] that you have to take on if you assume [and which go against all experience] that the reputed [naturalistic inferences] were true.”

    See, I used the exact same reasoning as Larry Moran did, and since you called my reasoning irrational, then, by necessary extension you have called Larry Moran’s reasoning irrational as well! And that is exactly my point: the principles that naturalists use are irrational and undermine their own position!

    Next, understand that to appreciate the context of my “demanding to observe evolution” you need to understand two points. First, all my empirical and observable experience concerning the regularity of nature (that life only comes from life, that species remain fixed, and that consciousness only comes from things already conscious) argues against the claims that life can come from non-life, that species can evolve into different species, and that consciousness can come from unconsciousness matter; thus, that fact makes those naturalistic claims extraordinary (just like the naturalist claims that something like levitation is extraordinary because it goes against all of his experience of the regularity of nature). And since all my experiential and observational experience is against the naturalist’s claims, then the evidence needed to support such claims must be equally as powerful, such as, potentially, directly observing those things actually occur, Second, just like the naturalist demands to actually see a supernatural event before believing in it even though that supernatural event may be a historical event that is unrepeatable and unobservable in our present time (like the resurrection of Jesus or the levitation of Joseph of Cupertino), so too can the supernaturalist, by argumentative parity, make the same demand for the naturalist’s claims. Once again, the whole point is to show that what is sauce for the goose (the naturalist) is sauce for the gander (the supernaturalist).

    Finally, I once again note that even if your criticism above is accepted as cogent, you yet again fail to engage with my point that abiogenesis could be observable in one lifetime, or that the neo-Darwinian could meet my demand for extraordinary evidence by providing me with fossil evidence that clearly and unequivocally shows, in tiny increments, the transition of one species to another. Such evidence is, in principle, discoverable, observable, and completely bypasses your above objection. And yet the response from you about that point is…silence.

    By the way, you’re not being honest with yourself. If and when investigators devise an experimental setup within which the extraordinary evidence you demand presents itself you will continue to withhold belief in evolution – citing the very experimental manipulations employed by those investigators as instances of “intelligence” manipulating events. We’ve seen this many times already.

    But RB…that is the point! If I did so, I would, once again be using the exact same methodology as naturalists who demand to see some supernatural event and then, when it is provided to them, suddenly claim that they need to see another, bigger supernatural event to be sure, or they say that they were just hallucinating, or they say that “strange things happen in the multiverse”, or they say that they live in an alien computer simulation and that the event was caused by these advanced but natural aliens, and so on and so on. Provide naturalists with the evidence they demand, and they just demand more evidence; the cycle of moving the evidentiary goal-posts is never-ending. Remember what atheists JJC Smart said: “…someone who has naturalistic preconceptions will always in fact find some naturalistic explanation more plausible than a supernatural one… So the whole point is that the supernaturalist can use these methods too, and when he does, naturalism is rendered rationally unbelievable. Thus, the naturalist must either admit that his argumentative methods are faulty and so change them, or else he must admit that naturalism is shown to be irrational by his very own methods.

    Anyway, please note that I honestly don’t feel that you are really engaging with the points that I am making, and as such, given that I have other pressing matters to attend to, and given that I see little point in writing full responses to an individual who appears to be ignoring most of what I say, I will thus let you know that this will very likely be my last interaction with you concerning this matter.

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    RB: Ad hominem warning. KF . . . thread owner

  69. 69

    RDM:

    Wonderful, that was exactly my point, for you have just made the case that about 90% of naturalists (at least those on the internet)—and including Hume, given that he originated this argument, as my paper explains—are irrational given that they argue in precisely the way that I have demonstrated.

    So, then, your argument is that your own reasoning about evolution is woefully defective, and irrational, and that any “naturalist” who employs similar reasoning about the supernatural also displays defective reasoning, and irrationality.

    I certainly agree with that.

    But perhaps that is unfair. Here is a direct question: Do you above report your own views and reasoning about evolution, and your withholding of belief concerning the same, or do you not? I understand that you deploy those views as a rhetorical device. That said: are those your views, or are those not your views?

    I guess I don’t need to convince you that most naturalists argue irrationally.

    “Most?” I haven’t made any case at all regarding percentages of “naturalists” who reason equally poorly on the internet. I don’t know and I don’t care (it’s the internet). I’ve said nothing that has bearing on that question.

    Now watch me use Larry Moran’s own method of reasoning against him: “But when you make an extraordinary claim [that life comes from non-life, that species evolved, and that consciousness came from unconscious matter] that goes against all experience [that life only comes from life, that species remain fixed, and that conscious things only come from already conscious things], then the evidence has to be truly extraordinary in order to even qualify as evidence.

    Your reasoning regarding what makes Moran’s claims “extraordinary” is a hot mess of assumed conclusions and circularity derived from same, and no less defective than your reasoning about evolution. Your paper suffers from the same fatal defect.

    Anyway, please note that I honestly don’t feel that you are really engaging with the points that I am making.

    Of course I don’t engage all of your points. As I said, one need only find one hole in a bucket to know that it doesn’t hold water, and here we have at least two: defective reasoning about evolution, and now massively assumed conclusions. (BTW, vis your paper, if your professor didn’t take you to task about the latter, s/he’s done you a disservice.)

    I will thus let you know that this will very likely be my last interaction with you concerning this matter.I will thus let you know that this will very likely be my last interaction with you concerning this matter.

    OK, bye. But answer that question before you go: Do you above report your own views and reasoning about evolution, and your withholding of belief concerning the same, or do you not? A yes or no will do.

  70. 70
    kairosfocus says:

    RDM:

    I could not let this pass:

    when you make an extraordinary claim that goes against all experience, then the evidence has to be truly extraordinary in order to even qualify as evidence . . .

    Notice the begged question that entails that reported experiences contrary to what naturalists believe must be false?

    And, of course, while I did not see the C17 events, I happen to have been one of many witnesses to a C21 case. So, I directly and from the inside know that grandiose dismissive claims about “all experience” are false and at best irresponsible.

    Had the objector said typical day to day experience or even the overwhelming weight of experiences, that would be another thing. But then, the objection would collapse. For, no-one is claiming that the miraculous is typical or common. Just the opposite.

    Further to this, the assignment of “extraordinary” is improper.

    Under reasonable conditions of seeing, such as the inside of a building lighted by a typical array of working 4-ft fluorescent tubes sufficient to read ordinary printed text by, to see objects (including bodies) and to see underneath elevated objects (e.g. the ceiling mount overhead multimedia projector above the spot) is also a commonplace. Where the question is not whether humans may be elevated in the air and be accurately seen to be so elevated but the means of such elevation. Where in the relevant case, illusionist tricks are ruled out — and need I note that the witnesses were essentially in full 360 degree perspectives. (A friend who used to watch street magicians in London reported that the back-stage view was usually quite revealing on how twerdun.)

    The seeing is not extraordinary, it is the implication of what is seen that is extraordinary.

    And, what is revealing is the resistance and how it is motivated.

    KF

  71. 71
    RD Miksa says:

    RB:

    I will reply to something quickly.

    So, then, your argument is that your own reasoning about evolution is woefully defective, and irrational, and that any “naturalist” who employs similar reasoning about the supernatural also displays defective reasoning, and irrationality. I certainly agree with that.

    You have the right idea, but the wrong order. It was naturalists—based on Hume’s Argument Against Miracles and summarized in their mantra that ‘extraordinary events require extraordinary evidence’, where extraordinary evidence is left as a subjective threshold—who both did employ and continue to employ this style of reasoning against the supernatural. And yet, when I employ the very same principles, reasoning, and methodology that naturalists have used for centuries against belief in the supernatural against their own extraordinary naturalistic claims, suddenly the principles and methodology they used all along are no longer valid and are considered irrational (as you admit). So when naturalists use such reasoning against the supernatural, they believe that they are being eminently rational, but suddenly when the very same reasoning is used against their own claims, the principles and methodologies they just finished using against supernatural claims are no longer valid and are deemed irrational (as you just admitted above). Such a maneuver is hypocritical and intellectually dishonest, and yet it is constantly done by naturalists (at least in my experience). And it all began with Hume and was adopted by the naturalists that followed him (after all, we just saw used in the quotes of JJC Smart and Larry Moran from my earlier post). So if you want to blame anyone for the creation of such “poor” reasoning, blame naturalists, starting with Hume

    And yet, the reason that naturalists take such a hypocritical approach and employ such a double-standard is because they know that if they do not, then they will have to face the fact that many supernatural claims have more than enough evidence to make them reasonable to believe in. That is why naturalists must continue to maintain their subjective threshold for what counts as extraordinary evidence; that way, whenever evidence of the supernatural is provided, the naturalist can always move the goal-posts and demand endlessly more evidence (as JJC Smart admits he would do in the quote where he says that a naturalist will always find a naturalistic explanation more plausible than a supernatural one).

    In addition, concerning your question about how this argument relates to evolution, perhaps you should have read what I wrote to fifthmonarchyman in Comment 59:

    fifthmonarchyman: It might help if the Critics among stop seeing this as a positive argument against evolution…

    Me: Oh, I forgot to add that you are right here as well. The argument is not so much an argument against evolution, but rather it is an argument that is meant to show that if a person believes that the evidence for evolution is sufficient to make it rational to believe in, then he should accept the evidence for miracles (and the supernatural) given that such evidence is just as good or better, albeit different, than the evidence for evolution. Thus, the whole point is not necessarily to deny that it is rational to believe in evolution, but rather to show that it is irrational to not believe in the sufficiency of the evidence for miracles (and the supernatural) if one is willing to accept the sufficiency of the evidence for evolution. So again, in a critical way, the goal is not to deny evolution per se (or abiogenesis), but rather to show that if one accepts the evidence for evolution, then the same person has no rational excuse to not accept the evidence for miracles; and any such excuse would be no more than special pleading or selective skepticism.

    Finally, the more I read of your comments, the more I realize that you have identified absolutely no “leaky hole” in my argument, at least in terms of what the argument is meant to achieve. In fact, by claiming that my reasoning methodology is irrational, you have proved one of the main points that I meant to achieve: to show that the naturalists—going all the way back to Hume—on whom I completely based the reasoning used in this argument, have been arguing irrationally along. That is the point!

  72. 72
    RD Miksa says:

    RB,

    Your reasoning regarding what makes Moran’s claims “extraordinary” is a hot mess of assumed conclusions and circularity derived from same, and no less defective than your reasoning about evolution.

    Assertions are worth nothing. Why don’t you actually back this claim up with some evidence and an explanation of how my reasoning is a “hot mess” rather than just spouting empty bromides.

    Your paper suffers from the same fatal defect.

    Once you actually show a familiarity with having read my paper—for there is, in my view, little evidence of that now—then I will consider your criticism seriously. Till then, nothing more than empty talk.

  73. 73

    RDM:

    So when naturalists use such reasoning against the supernatural, they believe that they are being eminently rational, but suddenly when the very same reasoning is used against their own claims, the principles and methodologies they just finished using against supernatural claims are no longer valid and are deemed irrational (as you just admitted above).

    I see your confusion.

    The problem with your arguments regarding evolution has nothing to do with the demand for extraordinary evidence in and of itself. Similarly, when advocates of naturalism demand extraordinary evidence in support of extraordinary claims, I have no problem with that as well.

    The problem with your arguments regarding evolution is that what you specify as satisfying your request for “extraordinary evidence” (e.g. directly witnessing transitions such as molecules to animals to man) would not be evidence of evolution at all, much less extraordinarily supportive evidence. Indeed, observation of change at that pace, absent special explanatory circumstances (e.g. experimental manipulation), would create considerable problems for evolutionary theory, as the processes that drive evolutionary events typically operate at a vastly slower pace. So, as previously stated, the problem with your sample (rhetorical) application of your reasoning in the evoluationary domain is that you’ve no notion of what would and would not count as evidence, much less extraordinary evidence, for evolution.

    Similarly, were “Naturalists” to commit similar blunders in specifying what would count as “extraordinary evidence” for the superatural (e.g. demanding events that have no bearing whatsoever upon the reality of the supernatural), I would reject their arguments as equally defective. That’s what I clearly state above.

    Vis your paper, your summary of several “laws” of nature on page six (and repeated above), upon which you premise your demand for extraordinary evidence, is a dazzling display of assumed conclusions. I lost interest there. If your mentors didn’t point this out, you should demand a tuition refund.

  74. 74
    kairosfocus says:

    RB:

    let’s roll the tape from p. 6:

    ___________________________

    >> Naturalism, as mentioned, is the worldview which holds that the natural world is all that exists and that
    neither God, nor anything like God (souls, gods, angels, etc.) exists. Integral to this worldview are a number of
    key claims, two of which will be focused on here. The first is abiogenesis, meaning that the naturalist claims that
    life arose from non-life without any intelligent guidance, planning, or oversight; essentially, that inert and “dead”
    matter was somehow able to become living matter without an intelligence of any type involved in the process.
    The second claim that naturalists hold to is that unconscious and a-rational matter somehow, and also without
    any intelligent guidance, planning, or oversight, became matter that was conscious, rational, and capable of
    subjectivity; essentially, that a subjective consciousness capable of rationality somehow emerged from that
    which was unconscious, a-rational, and non-subjective without an intelligence involved in the process.
    In addition to these two main naturalistic claims, a third claim exists which, though not absolutely
    integral to the naturalistic worldview, is so closely aligned to it that it would be hard to conceive of naturalism
    being rationally believable without this additional claim also being adhered to by the naturalist. And this
    additional claim is that blind and utterly unguided Neo-Darwinian evolution (hereafter simply “Neo-
    Darwinism”) is responsible for the creation of all living organisms that currently exist on Earth, and thus that [p. 5] |

    macro-evolutionary changes within organisms have actually occurred. 11 Indeed, although it is not necessary to
    hold to Neo-Darwinism to be a naturalist, it is hard to see how naturalism could be rational without the Neo-
    Darwinian idea serving as the naturalist’s answer to the apparent design and complexity of biological organisms.
    And many naturalists admit to this fact. 12
    So these are the three naturalistic claims which will be scrutinized in this work: 1) blind abiogenesis; 2)
    that self-consciousness arose from unconscious matter without any guiding intelligence involved; and 3) that
    Neo-Darwinian evolution occurred. If these three elements can be shown, via a parallel to Hume’s argument, to
    be rationally unbelievable, then it is contended that naturalism itself is essentially rationally unbelievable given
    the indispensability of these three claims to the naturalistic worldview.
    Yet it must also be immediately
    reinforced that just as Hume’s argument is not an argument against whether or not a miracle has actually
    occurred, but rather an argument concerning whether or not a person can ever be rationally justified in believing
    that a miracle has occurred, 13 so too will the argument presented in this work be an argument against whether a
    person can ever be rationally justified in believing the three naturalistic claims above, not an argument about
    whether or not they actually occurred naturalistically.
    The Laws of Nature & Naturalism.
    The first step to demonstrating how Hume’s argument against miracles works against the three claims of
    naturalism is to review certain applicable “laws” of nature; or, to use Hume’s definition, to examine the relevant
    regularities of nature which present themselves to human experience, and which thus lead individuals to hold
    these regularities as “laws” of nature. And the three such laws that are applicable to the present argument are the
    following: 1) that life only comes from life; 2) that creatures with self-consciousness are only produced by the
    reproductive action of other already self-conscious creatures; and 3) that biological species essentially remain
    fixed in their specific type (essentially, that macro-evolution does not occur).
    [p. 6] |

    Consider the first law of nature articulated: that life only comes from life. This law is as firm as any law
    of nature that humans experience, and all human experience, since recorded history, confirms the firmness of
    this regularity of nature. No one has ever observed or experienced life coming from non-life. 14 Next, consider the
    law that self-consciousness only arises from those things already themselves self-conscious. Again, this law is as
    firm as any other law which humans can draw from their experience; no one has observed a self-conscious
    embodied entity arise apart from the reproductive action of an already self-conscious entity (and the same type
    of point could be made for verbal language and sexual reproduction). And finally, the fact that biological species
    essentially remain fixed in their specific type is also as firm as can be, for human beings most certainly do not
    observe any macro-evolutionary changes occurring within the species that they observe around them. Human
    beings thus experience the truth of these three laws continuously, and they are arguably as firm as any other laws
    of nature are, for these three regularities of nature have been confirmed by all human experience . . . [p. 7] >>
    ____________________________

    What you object to must be:

    >> 1) that life only comes from life;>>

    a –> An empirical, abundantly verified finding, summarisint the work that overthrew spontaneous generation.

    b –> Also, implying an appeal to the principle that in addressing the unobserved past of origins, we can only soundly proceed by examining its traces in the present and appealing to causal factors demonstrated to be adequate to such effects, i.e. the vera causa principle championed by Newton and acknowledged by Lyell and Darwin.

    c –> Where a key trace is FSCO/I which in our experience and on reasonable analysis of blind searches for needles in haystacks has one empirically known adequate cause.

    d –> Namely, intelligently directed configuration, aka design.

    e –> This can be ducked, dodged and twisted into pretzels, but the astute onlooker will readily enough verify it for himself.

    >> 2) that creatures with self-consciousness are only produced by the reproductive action of other already self-conscious creatures; and >>

    f –> Go visit the obstetrics ward of your friendly, local hospital.

    g –> You will search in vain for storks with babies suspended in blankets from beaks.

    >>3) that biological species essentially remain
    fixed in their specific type (essentially, that macro-evolution does not occur). >>

    h –> I might quibble on fixity of specie, given the difficulties of definition, but it is true that kinds of life forms in our observation show variation that is within quite clear margins.

    i –> And, that is what we actually see.

    So, I would suggest your quarrel is with the observations, not with the summaries.

    Indeed, by quarreling with and trying to dismiss them as question-begging, you do inadvertently imply that they entail RDM’s conclusions once he applies the Sagan form of Clifford’s evidentialism. Which of course has roots in Hume’s errors.

    To show them question-begging, kindly provide actual, credibly observed instances of counter-examples.

    Otherwise, all foaming froth, no Mauby.

    (A useful saying, though I confess to disliking that acquired taste, Eastern Caribbean bitter bark drink. Give me my J’can Sorrel any day! Toss in some ackee and saltfish, plantain and green bananas, calaloo and a Johnny cake or two and I’d be in heaven. Some cornmeal pop and hard dough bread. Coco tea, too. A worthy Breakfast, dat!)

    KF

  75. 75
    RD Miksa says:

    I see your confusion. The problem with your arguments regarding evolution has nothing to do with the demand for extraordinary evidence in and of itself. Similarly, when advocates of naturalism demand extraordinary evidence in support of extraordinary claims, I have no problem with that as well. The problem with your arguments regarding evolution is that what you specify as satisfying your request for “extraordinary evidence” (e.g. directly witnessing transitions such as molecules to animals to man) would not be evidence of evolution at all, much less extraordinarily supportive evidence. Indeed, observation of change at that pace, absent special explanatory circumstances (e.g. experimental manipulation), would create considerable problems for evolutionary theory, as the processes that drive evolutionary events typically operate at a vastly slower pace. So, as previously stated, the problem with your sample (rhetorical) application of your reasoning in the evoluationary domain is that you’ve no notion of what would and would not count as evidence, much less extraordinary evidence, for evolution.

    And yet RB, as I keep repeating, and repeating, and repeating, and repeating, even if, for the sake of argument, I concede your point above, I have still shown ways in which extraordinary evidence for naturalistic claims could be provided while meeting all your above points (for example, observable abiogenesis and the presentation of a fossil record that clearly and unambiguously shows the tiny, incremental steps in the transition of one species to another) Such evidence would be in-principle discoverable and observable. And yet you constantly ignore these responses. A very telling fact, and the one that makes me believe that you are not really arguing in good faith.

    Furthermore, since you say above that you have no problem with me demanding extraordinary evidence for evolution, and since for me, the extraordinary evidence I demand (hypothetically) before believing in evolution is a fossil record that clearly and unambiguously shows, in tiny increments, the transition of one species to another at all the right times, then I take it that you would have no problem with such a request? After all, it bypasses all of your objections above—it is discoverable and observable and would be expected given evolution—so you should not have a problem with this particular demand for such extraordinary evidence for the extraordinary claim of evolution before I believe it, right? And yet somehow, I doubt that you are OK with such a request. In fact, in my experience, most naturalists would claim that such a request was simply unreasonable. And yet, those very same naturalist would not believe in a miracle even if everyone in the world saw the stars form into the Apostles Creed (remember the quote from JJC Smart).

    Similarly, were “Naturalists” to commit similar blunders in specifying what would count as “extraordinary evidence” for the superatural (e.g. demanding events that have no bearing whatsoever upon the reality of the supernatural), I would reject their arguments as equally defective. That’s what I clearly state above.

    Perfect, because that’s what naturalist do all the time! For example, not believing in the resurrection of Jesus—an unrepeatable and unobservable historical event—because they don’t see people resurrecting now. Or when naturalist do not believe that Joseph of Cupertino levitated—again, an unrepeatable and unobservable historical event—because they do not see people levitating now.

    Vis your paper, your summary of several “laws” of nature on page six (and repeated above), upon which you premise your demand for extraordinary evidence, is a dazzling display of assumed conclusions. I lost interest there. If your mentors didn’t point this out, you should demand a tuition refund.

    And by stating this, I am sorry to say that you just show your foolishness and/or ignorance. Either that, or you just picked a spot in my paper where you thought you spotted a flaw and could just “stop” reading it. Now why do I say this? Because my whole paper is about using Hume’s definition of what a law of nature is. And Hume’s definition of a “law” of nature is something that is regularly, constantly, and uniformly experience as occurring in nature. Since it is regularly, constantly, and uniformly experienced that life only come from life, that species remain fixed, and that conscious things only come from already conscious things, then, given Hume’s own definition, these things count as laws of nature. So these things do fit what Hume defines as a law of nature. And indeed, if you had actually read the paper, you would have read this on Page 2:

    So the first portion of the argument which Hume formulates against miracles is essentially a plausibility comparison between the “proof” against a miracle which individuals gain from their experience of the regularity and seeming inviolability of nature and the “proof” for a miracle which individuals gain from testimony. First, Hume argues that a miracle is a violation of the laws of nature, and a law of nature is subsequently defined by Hume as the firm regularity of nature which humans constantly experience and thus believe and hold to be a law of nature, even though it is not necessarily an actual law of nature in reality.

    And so to repeat: the things that I state are “laws” of nature on Page 6 would indeed be laws of nature under Hume’s definition, which was the whole bloody point of my paper! (And you wonder why I doubt that you actually read it.)

    And so, since you wanted to throw in the jab about me getting my tuition refunded, I suggest you also get a refund if you ever paid for a course in reading comprehension.

    Anyway, I will be posting one more time explaining all of my reasoning about this topic (not directly in response to you), and then I’m done.

    Thank you for the back and forth. Though heated, it was good.

  76. 76
    RD Miksa says:

    Dear KF,

    You beat me to it…thank you!

    RD Miksa

  77. 77
    Mung says:

    empirical observation: life only comes from life

    philosophy: materialism requires that we reject the empirical observations

    theory: life can arise from non-life

  78. 78
    RD Miksa says:

    Hello Everyone,

    Given that I have a number of other projects on the go, and given that—as I told KF in an e-mail—I find that getting involved in internet discussions tends to take too much of my attention away from other projects that I am working on, and also given that I find that many internet discussions simply lead to me repeating the same points over and over again in different ways, let me just state that this post will be my last post on this subject. If anyone wants further information about my ideas, let me know and I will make my e-mail available to you. Plus, you can always read my paper.

    However, as this is my last post, I will be making it as absolutely comprehensive as possible. It will be both a type of history lesson detailing how and why my argument developed in the first place as well as a further articulation of the argument itself. So let’s begin.

    01) Many years ago, philosopher David Hume—who was a skeptic and almost certainly a naturalist—wanted to create an argument against miracles and the supernatural that would once and for all be decisive in showing that it would always be irrational to believe in miracles and the supernatural even if miracles actually occurred. Thus, Hume’s goal was to show that belief in miracles and the supernatural could never be rationally justified regardless of whether miracles actually occurred or not.

    02) Now, to accomplish his aforementioned goal, Hume developed his “Argument Against Miracles.”

    03) In his argument, Hume defined a miracle as ‘a violation of the laws of nature.’ Now, how Hume determined what a ‘law of nature’ was, was by looking at what regularly occurred in nature based on our uniform and repeated human experience. Thus, if our constant empirical experience showed us that something in nature regularly happened over and over again, then whatever that was could thus be considered a law of nature. So, if an apple dropped to the ground whenever it was let go, and it did that over and over again every time we dropped it, after a good period of time we could claim that it was a ‘law of nature’ that apples drop to the ground whenever they are let go of. So for Hume, constant regularity was the key to establishing what was or was not a law of nature.

    04) Now, having established what a law of nature was, Hume then claimed that our evidence for the regularity and seeming inviolability of these laws of nature counts as evidence of the strongest sort: namely, that all of our empirical experience constantly reinforces the regularity and seeming inviolability of these laws of nature.

    05) Hume then claimed that a miracle was something that violated the laws (regularities) of nature.

    06) Hume then asked: “What is the best evidence that could be presented for a miracle?” Hume concluded that the best evidence for a miracle claim would be testimony. But Hume then reasoned that even if that testimony was of the strongest sort, it would still have to be compared against the testimony from all of our experience that shows us that the regularities of nature cannot be broken in the way the proponents of the miracle claim they have been broken.

    07) Thus, Hume reasoned that even if the testimonial evidence for a miracle was of the most overwhelming sort, it would still not justify rationally believing that that miracle occurred. Why? Because the testimonial evidence would have to be compared against all our experiential evidence against such a miracle, and when these two evidences were compared, they would cancel each other out. But this would, at best, leave us with agnosticism towards the miracle claim rather than being able to rationally believe it.

    08) Now, while Hume, in his argument, considered comparing the evidence from our experience against ideal and overwhelming testimony and still claimed to show that even such ideal testimonial evidence would never be able to make it rational to believe in a miracle claim, what Hume then stated was that, in reality, the testimonial evidence for miracles is usually poor. Indeed, Hume claimed that the testimony for miracles is usually provided by gullible, ignorant, and barbaric people who are unreliable as witnesses. Furthermore, witness could be hallucinating, or mistaken about what they saw, or lying, or any number of other things.

    09) And so Hume concluded not only that ideal testimonial evidence would never be enough to make belief in a miracle rational (at best only a type of agnosticism about miracles could be achieved), but that the testimony normally offered for miracles definitely was never enough to justify belief in a miracle. And so we had Hume’s Argument Against Miracles, an argument which Hume thought defeated our ability to claim that belief in miracles was rational, and which also left something like naturalism as the only rational worldview to hold.

    10) Hume’s Argument Against Miracles was then used by deists, naturalists, and other opponents of religion to argue against the rational believability of miracles and other claims of the supernatural.

    11) Over time, and while still being used, Hume’s Argument Against Miracles was summarized into the mantra “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The extraordinary claims were tacitly defined as claims that went against what we all normally experience as the regularity of nature.

    12) Today, in modern times, naturalists the world over use the “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” argument as a means to claim that they are perfectly rational to not believe in a miracle claim regardless of how strong the testimonial evidence for such a claim might be. And indeed, we have seen this very thing in action with naturalist Larry Moran, who refused to believe an overwhelming amount of testimonial evidence for the levitations of Joseph of Cupertino precisely because he (Larry Moran) claims that such an event as levitation goes against all his experience of the regularity of nature and thus (a la Hume), the testimonial evidence for such a claim could never be enough to overcome the evidence from his own experience that such things do not happen.

    13) Now, as I was studying Hume’s argument—the very one which naturalists and atheists were routinely using against me anytime I tried to present evidence for a miracle or supernatural claim to them—I suddenly had a realization: Hume’s argument absolutely destroys the rational believability of naturalism (although I am sure that I was not the first one to notice this). But why is this so?

    14) Consider that the naturalist, given the commitments of his worldview, has to rationally believe at least three claims in order to account for the living, conscious beings that we see around us today. And these three claims are: that life can come from non-life, that species can evolve into totally different species, and that unconscious matter can become conscious.

    15) Now remember that Hume states that what we constantly and regularly experience in nature can be deemed to be a “law” of nature. But when we look around, what does all of our human experience constantly and regularly show us: that life only comes from life, that species remain fixed in their type, and that conscious things only come from other conscious things. Thus, via Hume, these three latter things are essentially “laws” of nature.

    16) Remember also that, a la Hume, any claim that is counter to what we regularly experience of nature is an extraordinary claim. This means that, by Hume’s definition, the three claims that the naturalist makes (that life can come from non-life, that species can evolve into totally different species, and that unconscious matter can become conscious) are extraordinary claims given that all our experiential evidence of the regularity of nature is against these three claims.

    17) Now note that, just as with miracles, the only evidence that we have for these three naturalistic claims is the testimony of naturalist scientists, and, for all practical purposes, this is the only evidence that we will ever have. After all, no one person, in one lifetime, can personally master the fields of origin of life studies, evolution, and consciousness; it is, for all intents and purposes, a practical impossibility to personal know all these areas. So it is these naturalist scientists that tell us that they believe, based on their inference of what they believe is the best explanation of the evidence (just like with witnesses of miracles and other supernatural claims) that life can come from non-life, that species can evolve into totally different species, and that unconscious matter can become conscious.

    18) But now, mirroring Hume’s Argument Against Miracles, I noted that even if the testimonial evidence from these naturalistic scientists was of the most powerful sort, it would never be sufficient to overcome all the experiential evidence that we have against these naturalistic claims. At best, there would be a type of parity between the evidence and we would thus have to remain agnostic about the rational believability of these naturalistic claims (just like Hume claims would be the case between ideal testimony for a miracle and all our experiential evidence against it).

    19) However, just like with Hume, I also realized that, in reality, the testimony of scientists about these three claims is far from ideal. Indeed, given that many of these scientists admit 1) to a naturalistic bias, 2) could be honestly mistaken, 3) could be lying, 4) could be engaging in fraud, 5) could by skewed by their practice methodological naturalism, 6) use ‘just-so stories’ as explanations, and 7) so on and so on (I note a number of other things in my paper), then it is actually the case that the testimonial evidence from the scientists for these three naturalistic claims is far from ideal and far from powerful (not to mention that they presently have no evidence for how life came from non-life or for how consciousness arose from unconscious matter).

    20) And so, using Hume’s own reasoning, when comparing the testimonial evidence from the scientists for the three naturalistic claims against all human experience concerning the regularity of nature that goes against these three naturalistic claims, it was clear that the testimonial evidence from the scientists for the three naturalistic claims could never overcome the experiential evidence against these claims—at least not if Hume’s reasoning was being used. And so Hume’s own reasoning—and the reasoning that so many naturalists presently use against miracles—rendered naturalism’s three necessary claims rationally unbelievable. In essence, the extraordinary claims of naturalism did not have the extraordinary evidence necessary to overcome all our experiential evidence against those claims.

    21) So this was how I came to realize that the naturalist’s own reasoning process backfired on his own position and destroyed it.

    Now, to conclude, the point of my argument is to force the naturalist into a fatal position: either 1) the naturalist must admit that the reasoning process that he and other naturalists (since Hume) have been using to claim that they are rational not to believe in miracles and the supernatural is wrong, and then face the fact that there is plenty of solid and reasonable evidence for supernatural claims, or else 2) the naturalist must be intellectually dishonest and a hypocrite who uses a double-standard when reasoning between different claims, which then shows the naturalist to not be serious about seeking the truth or following the evidence where it leads, or finally 3) the naturalist must admit that his naturalism is not rationally believable and that he therefore only holds to it on blind faith, which would be an admission that would destroy naturalism’s claim to be an “evidence-based” worldview.

    So the whole point is to use the naturalist’s own reasoning to severely weaken naturalism’s claim to be a rational worldview, for whichever one of the three options above that is chosen, they all weaken the rationality of the naturalistic worldview to a serious, possibly fatal, degree.

    And this, ladies and gentlemen, will be my final word on this subject in this commentary thread. Let me know if you want anything further and I will make myself reachable via e-mail.

    Thank you all.

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    RDM, I have to express gratitude to you for your sacrifice of time to participate in a significant and in fact eye-opening discussion on what now has to be described as Hume- Clifford- Sagan evidentialism. On balance, it is selectively hyperskeptical and when applied to the naturalist position as regards the unobservable past of origins, it shows that it cannot pass its own test. That is a significant result, though one that will doubtless be hotly contested by the committed. KF

    PS: I strongly suggest use of a discard-able email for more personal exchanges. Many email services now allow secondary addresses.

  80. 80
    Me_Think says:

    RD Miksa
    It is a miracle that you hold a “job that deals heavily with testimony as evidence”(comment#5) 🙂 How many charlatans take you for a ride in a day? If the guy levitating is represented by simple cuboid, the moment of inertia for 70 kg will be 35/6 (d^2 + w^2) (axis of rotation at height). How the heck will anyone levitate without constantly trying to balance – unlike serene levitation that is described in ancient accounts? A Buddhist monk style levitation is more plausible.
    Unless you believe the guy who levitated is made of HTS material, say (yttrium barium copper oxide), and is quantum locked and in an environment close to 140K,there is no way to get a serene levitation in a standing position – assuming that levitation is even possible without trickery.

  81. 81
    Graham2 says:

    KF: You never did answer my question, did you ? This question/answer thing is a bugger, isn’t it ?

    G2: You are now insistently speaking in utter disregard to truth, in hopes of profiting by what you say or suggest being perceived as true. I suggest you ponder what you have done, especially propagating misinformation without context that would correct the false impression given. Onlookers may wish to cf here and above in the other thread for substantiation; 46 is a good place to begin. KF

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    MT, you make the gross error of reasoning in a materialist, closed circle. Please, consider the actual issue — the miraculous for good or ill — instead of erecting a strawman. RDM is not arguing that people may be elevated by natural means such as maglev, but that (in context) on sufficient testimony and record we can compare the evidentialist rejection of miracles regardless of testimony to what would happen were we to exact the same or substantially the same standard of the evolutionary materialist reconstruction of the claimed past of origins presented to us as scientific consensus and often as unquestionable fact. KF

  83. 83
    Graham2 says:

    How many words does it take to say YES or NO ? You and VJT are peas in a pod.

    Onlookers, cf the just below, also 46 on in the What Evidence is thread, in light of its OP by VJT. KF

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    G2, you are now playing the troll. Kindly cf 46 on in the other thread (What Evidence is), which you have recklessly disregarded. When you ask a fallaciously complex question it cannot be simplistically or naively answered yes or no, as well you know — especially after you have rejected eyewitness testimony and report of such by one of the eyewitnesses. The pivotal issue is adequacy of evidence and our response to it, and absent selective hyperskeptical dismissal, there is no good reason to dismiss the witnesses to unusual but credibly real cases of elevation of humans without physical means of support [where illusionism is not credible], and there is equally no good reason to try to twist that view into a strawmannish, distorted claim that humans “levitate” or “fly” by their own power or the like. And, there is no good reason to pretend to collective delusion, or to trickery in every perceived case or the like. But this is simply a particular case of a wider presumption of uniform experience against the miraculous, where just the induction on the ordinary patterns of the world simply cannot properly rule out the exceptional that goes beyond the ordinary course of nature. KF

  85. 85
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I should add that the underlying physicalist closure that conceives the world as a physical, closed system does not just run into problems with testimony on the supernatural, it starts with trouble with responsible freedom and therefore undermining of responsible rational contemplation, warrant and knowledge. This ends in self referential incoherence and absurdity as say J B S Haldane long ago pointed out:

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

    In short a priori evolutionary materialst scientism, physicalism, naturalism and other fellow travellers don’t just run into problems on the case of testimony to the miraculous that SHOULD pass reasonable scrutiny, it starts long before that, by undermining the responsible, knowing person.

    Such, per good reason, cannot be right.

  86. 86
    Graham2 says:

    From 46: here, in the teeth of 500 witnesses

    What is this referring to ?

    [G2, read the link here — and the context in several remarks above makes it plain that there are links to the other thread — which you were involved with, as in no 46 in that thread and following comments which answer the question you try to suggest has not been answered. This pattern raises questions as to whether you are discussing seriously and in good faith. KF]

  87. 87
    kairosfocus says:

    AS

    Hume did little more than sneer hyperskeptically at inconvenient record, effectively equating serious evidence with gossip. As unfortunately on fair comment you just did, refusing to reckon with the actual balance of evidence. But then across several threads it has become plain that those committed to naturalism are not open to contrary evidence or testimony and record as aspects of that evidence.

    In particular, one would not gain from your tone or substance that this is a case with thousands of diverse incidents and thousands of witnesses with quite eminent and sometimes hostile witnesses, and eyewitness lifetime record within the sort of reach of Hume that WWI and its run-up are for us.

    On track record, no great surprise, sadly.

    I suggest a far wiser and more expert voice on evidence, here clipping from Greenleaf’s Testimony of the Evangelists, in the Kregel reprint (with a bit of augmentation):

    1] THE ANCIENT DOCUMENTS RULE: Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise. [p.16.]

    2] Conversance: In matters of public and general interest, all persons must be presumed to be conversant, on the principle that individuals are presumed to be conversant with their own affairs. [p. 17.]

    3] On Inquiries and Reports: If [a report] were “the result of inquiries, made under competent public authority, concerning matters in which the public are concerned” it would . . . be legally admissible . . . To entitle such results, however, to our full confidence, it is not necessary that they be obtained under a legal commission; it is sufficient if the inquiry is gravely undertaken and pursued, by a person of competent intelligence, sagacity and integrity. The request of a person in authority, or a desire to serve the public, are, to all moral intents, as sufficient a motive as a legal commission. [p. 25.]

    4] Probability of Truthfulness: In trials of fact, by oral testimony, the proper inquiry is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but whether there is a sufficient probability that it is true. [p. 28.]

    5] Criteria of Proof: A proposition of fact is proved, when its truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence. By competent evidence is meant such as the nature of the thing to be proved requires; and by satisfactory evidence is meant that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond any reasonable doubt. [pp. 28 – 9.]

    6] Credibility of Witnesses: In the absence of circumstances which generate suspicion, every witness is to be presumed credible, until the contrary is shown; the burden of impeaching his credibility lying on the objector. [p. 29]

    7] Credit due to testimony: The credit due to the testimony of witnesses depends upon, firstly, their honesty; secondly, their ability; thirdly, their number and the consistency of their testimony; fourthly, the conformity of their testimony with experience; and fifthly, the coincidence of their testimony with collateral circumstances. [p.31.]

    8] Ability of a Witness to speak truth: the ability of a witness to speak the truth depends on the opportunities which he has had for observing the facts, the accuracy of his powers of discerning, and the faithfulness of his memory in retaining the facts, once observed and known . . . It is always to be presumed that men are honest, and of sound mind, and of the average and ordinary degree of intelligence . . . Whenever an objection is raised in opposition to ordinary presumptions of law, or to the ordiary experience of mankind, the burden of proof is devolved on the objector. [pp. 33 – 4.]

    9] Internal coherence and external corroboration: Every event which actually transpires has its appropriate relation and place in the vast complication of circumstances, of which the affairs of men consist; it owes its origin to the events which have preceded it, it is intimately connected with all others which occur at the same time and place, and often with those of remote regions, and in its turn gives birth to numberless others which succeed. In all this almost inconceivable contexture, and seeming discord, there is perfect harmony; and while the fact, which really happened, tallies exactly with every other contemporaneous incident, related to it in the remotest degree, it is not possible for the wit of man to invent a story, which, if closely compared with the actual occurrences of the same time and place, may not be shown to be false. [p. 39.]

    10] Marks of false vs true testimony: a false witness will not willingly detail any circumstances in which his testimony will be open to contradiction, nor multiply them where there is a danger of his being detected by a comparison of them with other accounts, equally circumstantial . . . Therefore, it is, that variety and minuteness of detail are usually regarded as certain test[s] of sincerity, if the story, in the circumstances related, is of a nature capable of easy refutation, if it were false . . . . [False witnesses] are often copious and even profuse in their statements, as far as these may have been previously fabricated, and in relation to the principal matter; but beyond this, all will be reserved and meagre, from fear of detection . . . in the testimony of the true witness there is a visible and striking naturalness of manner, and an unaffected readiness and copiousness in the detail of circumstances, as well in one part of the narrative as another, and evidently without the least regard to the facility or difficulty of verification or detection . . . the increased number of witnesses to circumstances, and the increased number of circumstances themselves, all tend to increase the probability of detection if the witnesses are false . . . Thus the force of circumstantial evidence is found to depend on the number of particulars involved in the narrative; the difficulty of fabricating them all, if false, and the great facility of detection; the nature of the circumstances to be compared, and from which the dates and other facts to are be collected; the intricacy of the comparison; the number of intermediate steps in the process of deduction; and the circuity of the investigation. The more largely the narrative partake[s] of these characteristics, the further it will be found removed from all suspicion of contrivance or design, and the more profoundly the mind will rest in the conviction of its truth. [pp. 39 – 40.]

    11] Procedure: let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding facts and circumstances.[p. 42.]

    Here, we supplement: J W Montgomery observes of the NT accounts — and following the McCloskey and Schoenberg framework for detecting perjury — that the modern approach to assessing quality of such testimony focusses on identifying internal and external defects in the testimony and the witness:

    (a) Internal defects in the witness himself refer to any personal characteristics or past history tending to show that the “witness is inherently untrustworthy, unreliable, or undependable.”

    (b) But perhaps the apostolic witnesses suffered from external defects, that is, “motives to falsify”?

    (c) Turning now to the testimony itself, we must ask if the New Testament writings are internally inconsistent or self-contradictory.

    (d) Finally, what about external defects in the testimony itself, i.e., inconsistencies between the New Testament accounts and what we know to be the case from archaeology or extra-biblical historical records?

    –> In each case, the answer is in favour of the quality of the NT, as can be observed here.

    12] The degree of coherence expected of true witnesses: substantial truth, under circumstantial variety. There is enough of discrepancy to show that there could have been no previous concert among them, and at the same time such substantial agreement as to show that they all were independent narrators of the same great transaction, as the events actually occurred. [p.34. All cites from The Testimony of the Evangelists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics, 1995).]

    KF

    PS: To see the link to origins science on the unobservable past of origins, simply read the OP and compare onwards the full, linked paper by RDM. Ponder also the vera causa principle as used in cases where we do not have direct access to the observation of events at close hand.

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