Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Bullies R-Us: University ID class cancelled because of hecklers. Did the NCSE have a role?

Highlights from Casey Luskin’s report which you can read here The outline of the story is now, sadly, a familiar one. Professor wants to discuss intelligent design (ID). Intolerant atheists throw a fit. College quickly capitulates to the demands of the atheists. Professor is censored. … According to internal communications, campus administrators feared that disgruntled atheists would stage a “disruption” if the ID class went forward. The atheist leader got so “intense” in arguing for Darwinian evolution over intelligent design that college staff called the police on him, apparently potentially concerned over their own safety. …. The tale begins when Stanley Wilson was approved by the AC administration to teach a course, “Evolution vs. Intelligent Design,” during the Fall 2013 Read More ›

Landmark 1929 Physics Paper: On the Decrease of Entropy in a Thermodynamic System by the Intervention of Intelligent Beings

In the Forgotten Creationist/ID book endorsed by Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, there was mention of a landmark physics paper by Leo Szilard. The paper dealt with a long standing problem of Maxwell’s demon. The paper was not immediately about the problem of design, but it sparked later questions by Robert Gange and others about whether a mindless biotic soup can somehow have sufficient insight about itself so it can build the computerized self-replicators that characterize life. First, Gange describes the problem of Maxwell’s demon, and why Leo Szilard’s solution was important: Maxwell’s Mysterious “Demon” The organizational intricacies of protein reflect information on a scale that a Supreme Intelligence can produce, but that nature cannot. To see why this is Read More ›

Specified Entropy — a suggested convention for discussion of ID concepts

In terms of textbook thermodynamics, a functioning Lamborghini has more thermal entropy than that same Lamborghini with its engine and other vital parts removed. But intuitively we view such a destruction of a functioning Lamborghini as an increase in entropy and not a decrease of entropy. Something about this example seems downright wrong… To fix this enigma, and to make the notion of entropy line up to our intuitions, I’m suggesting that the notion of “specified entropy” be used to describe the increase in disorganization. I derive this coined phrase from Bill Dembski’s notions of specified information. In the case of the Lamborghini getting its vital parts removed, the specified entropy goes up by exactly the amount that the specified Read More ›

Comic strips the NCSE wouldn’t like you to see

Since the NCSE has resorted to portraying themselves like cartoon characters in comic books, I’d like to help their latest efforts by providing a 4-page comic strip of the evolutionary sequence of a giraffe. It will take you less than a minute to see this description: Giraffe

Forgotten Creationist/ID Book endorsed by Nobel Prize Winner in Physics

There is a forgotten creationist book by engineer and physicist Robert Gange, PhD: Origins and Destiny that was published in 1986. It is available for free online, but for how long, I do not know. It was pioneering, and anticipated arguments that would be found in ID for the next 27 years, and likely beyond. Gange worked in the field of cyrophysics, so it is no surprise he writes with incredible insight regarding thermodynamics. His book is the only book written by a creationist that I agree with on the subject of thermodynamics, and he uses the so-called “New Generalized 2nd Law” to make his case. [the Kelvin-Plank version of the 2nd Law is a special case of the “New Read More ›

The phrase Natural Selection (NS) is double speak for Darwin’s Falsified Fantasy Mechanism (DFFM)

A label is a very powerful tool for creating and perpetuating false perceptions. When Darwin called his theory “Natural Selection” it created false perceptions about how nature actually works. If an evolutionary biologist said, “the flagellum evolved via the mechanism of Natural Selection (NS)” we’d think differently than if an evolutionary biologist said saying “the flagellum evolved via Darwin’s Falsified Fantasy Mechanism (DFFM)”. All the difference a label makes, eh? In my discussion with Darwinists over at Skeptical Zone, they accused me of not understanding how natural selection works since I said disasters leading to mass extinction is an example of Natural Selection. Evolutionist will say Natural Selection is differential reproductive success, to which I respond, “then why don’t you Read More ›

Creationist Gynecologist gives straight talk on STDs (Subversive Teachings of Darwinists)

Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, MD writes: Other than the obvious problems of crowding out basic science courses that have genuine relevance to the practice of medicine, is there any harm in teaching more evolution to medical students? History would say “yes.” Erroneous beliefs that certain mysterious “vestigial organs” were useless evolutionary leftovers, for instance, led many physicians to destroy them needlessly. Countless appendixes were removed unnecessarily on the Darwinian assumption that they were useless leftovers from our ape-ish heritage, ignoring clear evidence that the appendix functions as part of the immune system. Likewise, the thymus glands of many children were needlessly irradiated by physicians who thought the thymus—an important component of a child’s developing immune system—was a useless evolutionary vestige. Do Read More ›

What defines “good” design in the composition of music and the tuning of musical instruments?

“Bad design” is one of the most formidable arguments against intelligent design. I’ve responded to this by saying that what constitutes “good design” depends on the goals of the designer. If fuel efficiency is the criteria of good design, then a motorcycle is a better design than an SUV. But some will argue the SUV is a better design for snowy and icy conditions when transporting babies, thus an SUV is a better design. The problem is what constitutes “good design”, and who decides the criteria for good?

[Knowing Elizabeth Liddle, in addition to being a scientist, is a teacher of music theory and an accomplished musician, I thought I’d frame one aspect of the ID discussion in terms of musical ideas and philosophy at TSZ. This essay is a cross post of an discussion originally featured at TSZ.. I thought the discussion there was unusually good relative to the sorts of discussions that usually occur between the UD and TSZ.]

We also have the paradoxical situation where good drama needs a bit of “bad” designed into it. If a great novel told a story with no problems, will it be a good drama?

“Once upon a time there were no problems…there were never any problems or difficulties….they lived happily ever after”.

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Darwinists say “there is no point in studying designs and its designer once we decide something is designed”

When Darwinists say that ID hinders science because once we decide something is designed, we stop inquiry. That is like saying, “there is no point in studying designs and its designer once we decide something is designed.” This is like saying once something passes our own personal Explanatory Filter, and we recognize design in an artifact, we just give up trying to learn more? I don’t think so. When I first heard this wonderful piece of music, I wanted to learn more about its architecture, I wanted to study the written notes that generated the music, I also wanted to learn more about the designer, Massenet himself. [youtube 96d9mlRmjus] As a child, when I first heard a piano rendition of Read More ›

The Enigma of Consciousness — challenges for Evolutionists and Materialists

I had accepted the evolutionary story since elementary school. I think I accepted it after seeing diagrams like and visiting the Air and Space Museum and learning of our supposed origins. I didn’t find the story revolting. I found it kind of cool we were evolving and getting better and better. But as a freshman in high school, I began to doubt evolution when I considered the problem of consciousness. I remember sitting in class and the biology teacher gave the standard talking points. But for some reason, the fact I was conscious did not seem reducible to evolutionary explanations. Strange that I would even be perplexed about it as a high school student, but I was. That was the Read More ›

Giving Alan Fox a chance to set the record straight

There is some dispute about whether I’m representing Alan Fox’s views about man-made designs accurately. He’s about the nicest guy I’ve met on the net with an opposing view — so sorry in advance to Alan for picking on him… The forum where we had the following exchange seems dead. Here is my summary of the salient points of the exchange: Sal: Is a man-made design an example of intelligent design? Alan Fox: NO!!! Sal: Given what you said, is the Space Shuttle an example of intelligent design? How about GMOs? Alan Fox: Nothing is an example of intelligent design unless you want to tell me what “intelligent design” is other than the creationist ploy we both know it to Read More ›

“Specified Improbability” and Bill’s letter to me from way back

I finally found the phrase “Specified Improbability” in Bill’s recent writings: The design inference, as I developed it, looks to a marker of design, what I call specified complexity or specified improbability, and from there reasons to a designing intelligence as responsible for this marker. – See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/10/design_inferenc064871.html#sthash.Af6bmEbu.dpuf I thought he used the phrase in a letter he wrote to me a long time ago which he gave permission to publish. He did not use the phrase in that letter, so my recollection was wrong. But the letter was interesting in its own right. The letter was trying to resolve 2 questions. Here is what I said: >There are 4 different diagrams of the EF: > >http://www.arn.org/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=13;t=001726#000034 > Read More ›

“it is useful to separate design from theories of intelligence and intelligent agency”

From Design Inference by Bill Dembski, page 36: The principal advantage of characterizing design as the complement of regularity and chance is that it avoids committing itself to a doctrine of intelligent agency…Nevertheless, it is useful to separate design from theories of intelligence and intelligent agency. There has been some disagreement about whether AI can be categorized as intelligence or not. In terms of a design inference, the question is formally separate.

Ranking the information content of platonic forms and ideas

Consider the following numbers and concepts (dare I say platonic forms): 1 1/2 1/9 or 0.111111….. PI PI squared The Book War and Peace by Tolstoy approximate self-replicating von-Neuman automaton (i.e. living cells) Omega Number, Chaitin’s Constant Chaitin’s Super Omega Numbers I listed the above concepts in terms of which concepts I estimate are more information rich than others, going from lower to higher. The curious thing is that even though we can’t really say exactly how many bits each concept has, we can rank the concepts in terms of estimated complexity. PI can be represented by an infinite number of digits, and thus be represented with far greater number of bits than contained in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, but Read More ›

Dawkins Weasel vs. Blind Search — simplified illustration of No Free Lunch theorems

I once offered to donate $100 to Darwinist Dave Thomas’ favorite Darwinist organization if he could write an genetic algorithm to solve a password. I wrote a 40-character password on paper and stored it in safe place. To get the $100, his genetic algorithm would have to figure out what the password was. I was even willing to let him have more than a few shots at it. That is, he could write an algorithm which would propose a password, it would connect to my computer, and my computer that had a copy of the password would simply say “pass or fail”. My computer wouldn’t say “you’re getting closer or farther” from the solution it would merely say “pass or Read More ›