Darwinian Debating Devices

Darwinian Debating Device #4: “Desperate Distractions”

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Darwinists frequently employ the debating device that I call “Desperate Distractions.” This occurs when the Darwinist has lost the debate beyond any hope, and instead of admitting they have lost, the Darwinist continues to throw mud at the wall to see if anything will stick. Apparently, their determination never to cede a micro-millimeter impels them to continue to post even the most outrageous foolishness rather than be seen as ceding the field. I suppose they believe that as long as they continue to respond nobody will notice they have lost.

Our example of this debating device is drawn from a comment posted by a Darwinist defending Jeffrey Shallit, who ran a string of gibberish through a compression program and then ran the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy through the program and concluded that “String #2′s compressed version [i.e., the compressed version of the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy] is bigger and therefore more random than string #1 [i.e., gibberish achieved by haphazardly banging at a keyboard].”

Barry Arrington responded:

Sure, the compressed version of Hamlet is bigger than the compressed version of gibberish. And if one insists on defining relative randomness in terms of relative compressibility Hamlet is “more random.” Here’s the problem with that approach. It is glaringly obvious that Hamlet is not in any degree “random” whatsoever as that word is used by English speakers. Therefore, by its very nature it is not subject to a relative randomness analysis except to the extent one observes that it is totally non-random and any string that is even partially random is therefore more random. So what did Shallit accomplish when he insisted that under his esoteric definition of “random” Hamlet is “more random” than gibberish? He made a trivial mathematical point, and in the process made himself look foolish.

There followed a back and forth in the combox, but at the end of the day no one was able successfully to defend Shallit’s calling Hamlet more random than gibberish. That did not stop DiEb from continuing the debate long after the debate was lost, and he posted this gem:

J. Shallit said:

String #2′s compressed version is bigger and therefore more random than string #1: exactly the opposite of what Arrington implied!

That’s quite different from

“[Hamlet’s] compressed version is bigger and therefore more random than [gibberish].”

1. String #1 is not “Hamlet”, just an excerpt of ca. 500 bytes.

2. It’s not about gibberish in general, but about your special version of “gibberish”, represented by string #2.

First, let us fisk DiEb’s comment [DiEb gets the strings confused; I will correct this with brackets]:

1. String #[2] is not “Hamlet”, just an excerpt of ca. 500 bytes.

And the point of this observation is what exactly? Sure, Barry used “Hamlet” for a shorthand reference to the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy. So what? DiEb has drawn a distinction that makes no difference.

In other words, in order for DiEb’s comment to have any force it would have to make a difference that String # 2 is merely the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy instead of the entire play. He is essentially saying “Oh sure, the entire play of Hamlet may not be “more random’ than a string of gibberish, but the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy surely are.” And that statement is just plain foolish.

2. It’s not about gibberish in general, but about your special version of “gibberish”, represented by string #[1].

DiEB again draws a distinction that makes no difference. He is essentially saying “Oh sure, the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy might not be “more random” than gibberish in general, but it is certainly more random than the special version of gibberish in string 1.” No, the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy is not random at all. It follows that it is never “more random” than any gibberish, whether gibberish in general or the specific example of gibberish in string 1, and to suggest otherwise is, again, just plain foolish.

So what is going on here? DiEb has made a fool of himself. He obviously thought that making a fool of himself served some purpose. What purpose might that be? The purpose is to continue debating long after the debate is lost. It makes no difference that the actual words border on the idiotic. The point is to keep going in a desperate attempt to distract attention away from the fact that the debate has been lost, thus, “desperate distractions.”

196 Replies to “Darwinian Debating Device #4: “Desperate Distractions”

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Apparently, their determination never to cede a micro-millimeter impels them to continue to post even the most outrageous foolishness rather than be seen as ceding the field.

    We’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of the Shallit threads because they offer so many examples of outrageous foolishness and determination never to cede a micro millimeter – even on totally irrelevant distractions.

  2. 2
    DiEb says:

    That’s the second time that there is a post at Uncommon Descent with me at its center: the other one was Questioning Information Cost, where Winston Ewert – collaborator of W. Dembski and R. Marks – and I discussed some questions I had about their paper “A General Theory of Information Cost Incurred by Successful Search”. W. Ewert even was able to clarify some of my misconceptions. For a second post, I’d have preferred a discussion of W. Dembski’s talk at the University of Chicago, which I have transcibed here – or perhaps about the amusing little miscalculation in his “perhaps the simplest example”. But alas, there are more (hobby) philosophers at UD than (hobby) mathematicians…

    Secondly, it would have been nicer when B. Arrington just answered some question I have asked him, instead of evading them and coming up with another opinion piece about the oh-so-evil/stupid-evolutionists. Questions like:

    B. Arrington, what’s your take: is “4ad9;SdaodDajdjad9;Sdjfijdvsdjf;dHJ;sjvaD5…” gibberish or is it Hamlet – or something else?

    Thirdly, B. Arrington and I have different opinions when it comes to the handling of quotations and that is something for which I will not apologize. But while I’m willing to accept that “[Hamlet’s] compressed version is bigger and therefore more random than [gibberish].” uses [Hamlet] and [gibberish] as “shorthand references”, this excuse is ridiculous when the phrase evolves to something like:

    It is just sad to watch Shallit howl in success that he has demonstrated that Hamlet is more random than gibberish.

    That’s not a shorthand, just a misrepresentation.

    Fourthly, even if we know that a string wasn’t the product of a random process, we can calculate the probability that it will occur as the product of a random process – W. Dembski did so for the phrase “methinks it is like a weasel”. So, I agree that “the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy is not random at all.”, but nevertheless, we can look at a random process spouting out letters with uniform probability and ask ourselves: when will it come up? If I’m not afraid of VERY large numbers, I can think this through. We expect the outcome of such a random process to be not very good compressible, and we can compare the length of the compressed strings. Why not? Because you are telling us that it is Shakespeare we are talking about?

  3. 3
    Barry Arrington says:

    I invite readers to examine DiEb’s comment @ 2 closely. What is conspicuous in its absence? Any defense of his antics described in the OP. And why does he not attempt to defend his antics? Because they are indefensible, as “desperate distractions” always are.

  4. 4
    E.Seigner says:

    Barry Arrington

    I invite readers to examine DiEb’s comment @ 2 closely. What is conspicuous in its absence? Any defense of his antics described in the OP.

    What if the defense of the antics is missing because the antics are only there in your imagination? What if you are misrepresenting DiEB the way you misrepresent Shallit, and the way you misrepresent the original context where you first typed the strings? I’m very much tempted to call your tactics “desperate distractions”, but this would be true, and you don’t appreciate truth. Also, it would be revealing that you are guilty of what you blame others for, and this would not at all be nice to you. So I will play nice and not say this.

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    OK ES. DiEb was unable to defend his comment. Can you? Can you tell me how the distinctions DiEb drew made a difference? If you can’t then your comment at 4 will exposed for so much ranting.

  6. 6
    Upright BiPed says:

    ES: “Can you name a thing that has no design or function?”

    SB: “the pattern my coffee makes on the floor after I spill it”

    ES: “coffee still has function” … “I won’t accept category errors” … “there is no logical way to distinguish design from non-design” … “I have been faced with nonsense like this here all along”

    ES, you probably shouldn’t trust your reading comprehension to pick out irony.

  7. 7
    Mapou says:

    DiEb is incorrigible. No surprise here.

    Going on a slight tangent, it occurred to me that there is one thing about the Hamlet string that is detectable by our brains but is completely invisible to a compression algorithm. Shakespeare went out of his way not to repeat himself in short passages. The only parts of the string that he could not avoid repeating are the many spaces between words, the small articles (a, an, the, of, etc.), and of course, the individual letter codes themselves.

    My point is that, sometimes, even non-repetition is a sign of design.

  8. 8
    E.Seigner says:

    Barry Arrington

    OK ES. DiEb was unable to defend his comment. Can you? Can you tell me how the distinctions DiEb drew made a difference? If you can’t then your comment at 4 will exposed for so much ranting.

    I think DiEB sufficiently explained himself in #2. You don’t think so, but you ask no further questions. You only repeat what was already answered. What can I say? It appears that different people are satisfied with different kinds of explanations. Good luck finding yours.

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    Mapou:

    My point is that, sometimes, even non-repetition is a sign of design.

    Of course it is. As a matter of fact, many statistics teacher will demonstrate how difficult it is to “fake” random by having half the class flip a penny 100 times and the other half write down a “random” sequence of heads and tails. The teacher then picks the designed sequences with almost 100% accuracy. The trick? Look for the sequences that have six or seven heads in a row. These will be the actual flipped coins. Humans erroneously believe that a random sequence will not have any long repeating sequences.

  10. 10
    Barry Arrington says:

    ES @ 2

    What if the defense of the antics is missing because the antics are only there in your imagination?

    ES @ 4

    I think DiEB sufficiently explained himself in #2.

    Hmmm. DiEb’s defense is missing but nevertheless sufficient for ES. OK. For those who do not speak Darwinese, I will translate ES’s comments into plain English:

    I’ve got nothing, and I try to disguise the vacuity of my ideas by increasing the bombast of my rants.

    Again, equal parts sad, embarrassing and pathetic. ES, I implore you to do better. Your adolescent rants are growing tiresome.

  11. 11
    Upright BiPed says:

    ES, what exactly is the “design or function” in the pattern of coffee spilled on the Stephen’s floor?

    It’s a simple question: what is the “design or function” of the pattern?

    Given the obvious vehemence you’ve demonstrated at the whole ordeal, I would think the answer would be easy for you. What is it?

  12. 12
    DiEb says:

    BA:

    What is conspicuous in its absence? Any defense of his antics described in the OP. And why does he not attempt to defend his antics? Because they are indefensible, as “desperate distractions” always are.

    Perhaps I was to subtle. My apologies.

    Darwinists frequently employ the debating device that I call “Desperate Distractions.” This occurs when the Darwinist has lost the debate beyond any hope, and instead of admitting they have lost, the Darwinist continues to throw mud at the wall to see if anything will stick. Apparently, their determination never to cede a micro-millimeter impels them to continue to post even the most outrageous foolishness rather than be seen as ceding the field. I suppose they believe that as long as they continue to respond nobody will notice they have lost.

    To address this point, I wrote: “That’s the second time that there is a post at Uncommon Descent with me at its center: the other one was Questioning Information Cost, where Winston Ewert – collaborator of W. Dembski and R. Marks – and I discussed some questions I had about their paper “A General Theory of Information Cost Incurred by Successful Search”. W. Ewert even was able to clarify some of my misconceptions.” – so, you see, though I’m a “Darwinist” in your dictionary, I do accept that I have misconceptions which can be cleared…

    There followed a back and forth in the combox, but at the end of the day no one was able successfully to defend Shallit’s calling Hamlet more random than gibberish.

    I wrote “I’m willing to accept that “[Hamlet’s] compressed version is bigger and therefore more random than [gibberish].” uses [Hamlet] and [gibberish] as “shorthand references”, this excuse is ridiculous when the phrase evolves to something like: It is just sad to watch Shallit howl in success that he has demonstrated that Hamlet is more random than gibberish.” In fact, BA, you wrote in this very piece above that J. Shallit was calling “Hamlet more random than gibberish”. He never did, and repeating this statement doesn’t make it true.

    DiEB again draws a distinction that makes no difference. He is essentially saying “Oh sure, the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy might not be “more random” than gibberish in general, but it is certainly more random than the special version of gibberish in string 1.” No, the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy is not random at all. It follows that it is never “more random” than any gibberish, whether gibberish in general or the specific example of gibberish in string 1, and to suggest otherwise is, again, just plain foolish.

    This is addressed by my fourth point: ” even if we know that a string wasn’t the product of a random process, we can calculate the probability that it will occur as the product of a random process – W. Dembski did so for the phrase “methinks it is like a weasel”. So, I agree that “the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy is not random at all.”, but nevertheless, we can look at a random process spouting out letters with uniform probability and ask ourselves: when will it come up? ”

    So, I think I addressed at least a couple of your points. I just don’t think that stating my conclusions and answering your questions are “antics”.

    And again, I ask:

    B. Arrington, what’s your take: is “4ad9;SdaodDajdjad9;Sdjfijdvsdjf;dHJ;sjvaD5…” gibberish or is it Hamlet – or something else?

    – yes, I did spot the absence of an answer to this…

  13. 13
    Barry Arrington says:

    DiEb @ 6: As soon as you stop evading the question and address how the two distinctions you drew made any difference whatsoever, I will answer your question.

  14. 14
    Joe says:

    I found a source of Shallit’s confusion:

    String #2 can be said to “conform” to many, many different specifications: English text, English text written by Shakespeare, messages of length less than 545, and so forth. But the same can be said for string #1.

    Except of course that string #1 does not conform to English text. It does not conform to English text written by Shakespeare, it’s creator has said it isn’t a message and so forth.

    So Barry tries to spoon feed the opposition, they knock the spoon out of his hand and then complain about the service. And in their little minds it becomes some sort of victory.

    The sad part is that tactic is the strength of their position

  15. 15
    Joe says:

    DiEB- If you want to provide a clear example of specified text do you A) provide an encrypted form of the specified text (unrecognizable) or B) provide the text verbatim so that it is recognizable?

  16. 16
    Upright BiPed says:

    ES: “Can you name a thing that has no design or function?”

    SB: “the pattern my coffee makes on the floor after I spill it”

    ES: “coffee still has function” … “I won’t accept category errors” … “there is no logical way to distinguish design from non-design” … “I have been faced with nonsense like this here all along”

    ES, what is the “design or function” in the pattern of coffee spilled on the Stephen’s floor?

    It’s a simple question: what is the function of the pattern?

  17. 17
    E.Seigner says:

    Upright BiPed

    It’s a simple question: what is the function of the pattern?

    If anything, the discussion should have made it clear to you by now that nothing is simple. The same way as we are unable to agree on what design and random mean, we hardly agree on what function and pattern mean. With such fundamental disagreements, it doesn’t even make sense to pose the question. HeKS explains it very well, making it lucidly clear that the question is not at all simple. Yet other ID theorists (not to mention opponents) disagree with the points he makes. So there. Not simple at all.

  18. 18
    HeKS says:

    @E.Seigner #17

    Would you mind quoting the portion of my post you’re referring to support the statement that it doesn’t make sense to ask what the function is for the pattern of coffee on the floor in order to point out the easily recognizable difference between a pattern (or whatever) with a function and one that has no purpose or function and does not match any specification?

    I certainly remember saying that it doesn’t make sense to ask for a CSI value for an event, object, pattern, etc. that has been determined to be designed because the ‘C’, ‘Complexity’, in CSI is a reference to improbability, which is not something we can talk about for designed, intentional events. But I’m not entirely sure what part of my post you’re referencing to support what you’re saying here.

  19. 19
    Upright BiPed says:

    ES,

    the discussion should have made it clear to you by now that nothing is simple.

    I didn’t ask you is something was simple. I asked you what the function is in the pattern of coffee spilled on the Stephen’s floor. What is your answer?

  20. 20
    Upright BiPed says:

    ES, again, this would seem to be a rather simple question — Stephen spills some coffee on his floor, what is the function or design in the pattern of the spilled coffee?

  21. 21
    Upright BiPed says:

    ES, If you don’t think the pattern has a function or design, why do you resists simply acknowledging so? If you do think it does, then why do you resist naming it?

  22. 22
    E.Seigner says:

    Upright BiPed

    ES, If you don’t think the pattern has a function or design, why do you resists simply acknowledging so? If you do think it does, then why do you resist naming it?

    Because if it depends on what I or you think then ID is a fluffy pseudoscience based on subjective moods, not a rigorously defined reliable scientific method. You sure you want to go there? Well, you already did…

  23. 23
    Joe says:

    It is very obvious that E Seigner is just a bloviating arse. It accepts what Shallit does without question but prefers to obfuscate when IDists try to explain concepts. And to op it all off E Seigner has proven it doesn’t even have a basic understanding of science.

  24. 24
    Joe says:

    E Seigner:

    Because if it depends on what I or you think …

    What an idiot- you are being asked a question and instead of answering it you prefer the cowardly way out.

    It is clear that there isn’t any function with a spilled cup of coffee and no one cares if ES sez that is a subjective claim. That is because ES is unable to support anything it posts.

  25. 25
    Upright BiPed says:

    ES:

    I see.

    So … when you challenge someone to give you an example of a thing that doesn’t have a “design or function”, and they give you a perfectly valid answer, you can then ignore that answer, and lodge an indefensible objection against it — and if anyone doesn’t like it, then you’ll just pretend that you had no idea what you meant by the words “design” or “function” when you used them to ask the question in the first place. In sum, your words (and what you meant by them) can be used to attack ID, but your words (and what you meant by them) cannot be used to defend ID.

    So basically you are a loudmouth bullshitter who can’t defend your position; who is prone to whining that ID people won’t play pretty with you.

    Okay. Got it.

    … and by the way, of the two of us here, you are the only one who cannot make their case and defend it with the use of explicit terms. I have no problem with that. Of course, you already know that, because you’ve had to twist and run from virtually everything I’ve said. I noticed that you didn’t spend a lot of time asking me to define my terms.

  26. 26
    Daniel King says:

    So basically you are a loudmouth bullshitter who can’t defend your position; who is prone to whining that ID people won’t play pretty with you.

    Who could resist that cordial invitation to civil dialog?

  27. 27
    Joe says:

    Who could resist that cordial invitation to civil dialog?

    E Seigner shat upon that invitation many weeks ago.

  28. 28
    Upright BiPed says:

    Daniel,

    Given the string of insults to honest dialogue that have been absorbed on ES’s behalf, consider it breaking even.

  29. 29
    Mung says:

    Imo, It is not the position of E.Seigner that the pattern of the coffee spilled on the floor has no function, but only that E.Seigner is having difficulty projecting what that function is.

  30. 30
    Mapou says:

    ES:

    If anything, the discussion should have made it clear to you by now that nothing is simple. The same way as we are unable to agree on what design and random mean, we hardly agree on what function and pattern mean.

    The difference between ‘random’ and ‘design’ is very simple, IMO. If it is not random, it was either designed or it is the result of design. This is why I believe the whole universe was designed, down to lowly photons and electrons.

  31. 31
    StephenB says:

    Daniel King

    Who could resist that cordial invitation to civil dialog?

    A better question would be this: At what point do disrespectful expressions of intellectual dishonesty cease to merit a respectful response?

  32. 32
    E.Seigner says:

    Mapou

    The difference between ‘random’ and ‘design’ is very simple, IMO. If it is not random, it was either designed or it is the result of design. This is why I believe the whole universe was designed, down to lowly photons and electrons.

    I also happen to believe that the whole universe was designed, down to lowly photons and electrons. This is why I don’t believe randomness can be detectably distinguished from design. But see, Upright BiPed here believes differently. He thinks spilled coffee serves as a valid example where there’s no design, even though coffee, if it’s a drink, doesn’t grow on trees, i.e. it’s not a natural fruit, but a highly processed man-made product, along with the cup where it is usually served. But he thinks his example is so obvious it should be accepted without question. Go figure.

  33. 33
    Upright BiPed says:

    ES,

    Reading comprehension … “pattern”

    P-a-t-t-e-r-n

    The question, as you already know very well, asked you to indicate the “design or function” in the pattern of spilled coffee on Stephen’s floor -or- at a minimum, do the intellectually honest thing and simply acknowledge that no such design or function exists. Your response, instead, was to further insult those who met your challenge.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    UB, I suspect it would be wise to dial back on language. KF

  35. 35
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Upright BiPed #33

    Reading comprehension … “pattern”

    P-a-t-t-e-r-n

    I just mentioned on another thread that everyone who has tried to communicate with ES so far has found it impossible. Unfortunately, even spelling the words out doesn’t seem to work. I reached a frustration-point and headache a while back and unfortunately stayed with it too long — just a few thoughts of caution.

    I wish her well, but life if too short for nonsense like that.

  36. 36
    Joe says:

    E Seigner- Cars and roads are designed. Does that mean that mean that in your opinion there cannot be any accidents with cars on roads?

  37. 37
    StephenB says:

    Upright Biped

    ES,

    Reading comprehension … “pattern”

    P-a-t-t-e-r-n

    The question, as you already know very well, asked you to indicate the “design or function” in the pattern of spilled coffee on Stephen’s floor -or- at a minimum, do the intellectually honest thing and simply acknowledge that no such design or function exists. Your response, instead, was to further insult those who met your challenge.

    UB– I thank you for stating the obvious in my absence. ES has presented yet another mindless distraction. Onlookers will know that the observable pattern on the floor made by a coffee spill was not designed by an intelligent agent. The point has absolutely nothing to do with the unobservable elements in a coffee bean.

    So it is with the undesigned pattern made by an explosion in a paint factory and the designed pattern made by an artist with a brush. Any rational person can detect the difference. Again, and as you know, it has absolutely nothing to do with the elements or chemicals in the paint.

    Only an irrational person, a troll, or a materialist ideologue would deny any of these points or raise such frivolous objections. Since ES disavows any connection with materialism, we are left with the other two options from which to choose.

  38. 38
    StephenB says:

    Joe

    E Seigner- Cars and roads are designed. Does that mean that mean that in your opinion there cannot be any accidents with cars on roads?

    Good question! While you are waiting for an answer that will likely never come, let’s try a little ES logic:

    God made all the material elements found in steel: Therefore, we cannot differentiate between a pile of junk and a Rolls Royce. Wasn’t that fun?

  39. 39
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    Onlookers will know that the observable pattern on the floor made by a coffee spill was not designed by an intelligent agent.

    To help onlookers out, let’s refer to the original context.

    ES: When inclined this way, we find function and design everywhere. Can you name a thing that has no design or function? Thought so.

    StephenB: I can think of millions of things that have no design. How about the pattern my coffee makes on the floor after I spill it?

    To point out the most central problem with this answer: It says that spilled coffee makes a “pattern”. “Pattern” happens to be a synonym for “design”. So, spilled coffee actually has “design”. I asked for a thing that didn’t have design.

    Intelligent agent was not directly relevant to my question in the original context. I was debating the definitions of design and function. To replace a term with its synonym in such context is an annoying non-answer. I have been rightly treating it as such.

    And also intelligent agent is not excluded in case of spilled coffee, because wasn’t it a potentially intelligent agent who spilled it? And what if the pattern of the spilled coffee spells out “Goddidit” or whatever. Seriously, whatever.

  40. 40
    Upright BiPed says:

    He’s/She’s serious..

  41. 41
    StephenB says:

    E.Seigner

    To point out the most central problem with this answer: It says that spilled coffee makes a “pattern”. “Pattern” happens to be a synonym for “design”. So, spilled coffee actually has “design”. I asked for a thing that didn’t have design.

    Imagine this comment coming from someone who claims that “context is everything.” It should be obvious from the context, that the word pattern was meant to convey the idea of physical form or shape, which is a design neutral concept.

    However, I will happily change the word for the sake of further clarity, which is always a friend of truth. So, here we go: You said that everything in the universe is designed. Where is the design or function in the physical shape or form of the aforementioned coffee spill.

    Intelligent agent was not directly relevant to my question in the original context. I was debating the definitions of design and function. To replace a term with its synonym in such context is an annoying non-answer.

    Yes, this business of replacing a term with a synonym in order to avoid argument is very annoying!!! (Excuse me while I pick myself up from the floor)

    In any case, I was not responding to your attempt to wrestle with the definitions of design and function. I was responding to your unqualified claim that everything in the universe was or is designed. (Which, of course, contradicts your claim that nothing is designed unless we project design onto it).

    What you should have said is that all the raw materials for design were themselves designed, but of course you did not say that because the distinction has never occurred to you. In fact, many things are not designed and I can demonstrate that fact with countless examples.

    And also intelligent agent is not excluded in case of spilled coffee, because wasn’t it a potentially intelligent agent who spilled it? And what if the pattern of the spilled coffee spells out “Goddidit” or whatever. Seriously, whatever.

    An intelligent agent was primarily responsible for the spill (distractions and other things could also play a role), but physical laws (and epistemological chance) were responsible for the resultant physical form taken on by the liquid coffee. We have already covered this ground.

    If the physical form takes the shape of letters which form the message, “God did it,” then we can safely conclude that an intelligent agent intervened after the spill and designed it that way. That is the whole point. We can make the distinction between law/chance and intelligent agency.

  42. 42
    Joe says:

    OK, try this:

    I can think of millions of things that have no design. How about the shape my coffee takes on the floor after I spill it?

  43. 43
    StephenB says:

    UB

    He’s/She’s serious..

    Alas, it appears to be so.

  44. 44
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    In any case, I was not responding to your attempt to wrestle with the definitions of design and function. I was responding to your unqualified claim that everything in the universe was or is designed. (Which, of course, contradicts your claim that nothing is designed unless we project design onto it).

    So, you were not actually replying to me. You were just giving air to your own presuppositions regardless if they constitute a sensible answer or not. Thanks for clarifying this, even though I knew it all along.

    As to my unqualified claim that everything in the universe is designed, it’s a metaphysical commitment that makes sense to me (and to every single theologian I have read). What doesn’t make sense is how anyone, believer or not, can hold that some things are devoid of design and, furthermore, that the distinction can be quantified.

    And there’s no contradiction with my unqualified commitment. How are things designed? Someone outside shapes the thing, that’s how. Hence the design is not inherent to the thing, but imposed. Even before shaping, the thing already has some shape, form, pattern, or design, given by outside circumstances, the surroundings or environment. So the design is always there, but never inherent. Design cannot be called inherent, not logically, and in the technical philosophical sense of “inherent” it is never called that.

    But you of course don’t care about my explicitly laid out metaphysical framework. You don’t care to clarify presuppositions at all. In this you are of course in line with Dembski, who claims ID theory has no metaphysical commitments and no implications. “It says nothing about the designer.” Unfortunatey this claim itself is only possible due to flawed presuppositions. Anyway, it’s not my job to fix ID theory. It’s your job to prove your theory is okay and needs no fixing.

  45. 45
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner

    And there’s no contradiction with my unqualified commitment.

    Bad logic. The contradiction is not with your committment; it is in your two incompatible claims:

    [a] everything is designed

    —-cannot be reconciled with

    [b] nothing is designed unless the observer projects it onto the object.

    How are things designed? Someone outside shapes the thing, that’s how. Hence the design is not inherent to the thing, but imposed.

    Bad logic. To shape it from the outside is to make it inherent in the thing. That is what it means to say that something is designed. You are confusing the how with the where.

    Even before shaping, the thing already has some shape, form, pattern, or design, given by outside circumstances, the surroundings or environment.

    You have not yet completed your thought. Try again.

    So the design is always there, but never inherent.

    Bad logic: If the design is “there,” then it is inherent in the thing. Where else do you think “there” would be—in some other thing?—or hanging around the thing waiting for permission to enter?

    Or perhaps you would like to revert to your claim that design is in the mind of the observer who projects it onto the thing, in which case it could not have always been there. This is all very entertaining, but not very edifying.

    Anyway, it’s not my job to fix ID theory. It’s your job to prove your theory is okay and needs no fixing.

    You are not yet prepared to evaluate ID theory, as is clear from your responses.

  46. 46
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    Bad logic. The contradiction is not with your committment; it is in your two incompatible claims:

    [a] everything is designed

    —-cannot be reconciled with

    [b] nothing is designed unless the observer projects it onto the object.

    Bad reading comprehension. Nowhere have I stated it the way you state it in [b]. What I have said is design cannot be empirically detected. From this you jumped to “nothing is designed” but this was an unwarranted non-sequitur on your part.

    StephenB

    Bad logic: If the design is “there,” then it is inherent in the thing. Where else do you think “there” would be—in some other thing?—or hanging around the thing waiting for permission to enter?

    It takes a separate argument for you to establish that the thing is the same as its design. You have not given any such argument. But if you did, and if design was inherent to things and inseparable from them, then wouldn’t this make it logically impossible for you to show me a thing without design?

    My logic is that the design is analytically separable from the thing. Any design, form, pattern, etc. can be applied to any thing. Each thing has some design or other. There’s no thing without some design or other. Things can be re-designed whichever way, but empirically never un-designed. This means that the thing can be mentally separated from its design, one can imagine the thing with some other design, and then one can follow through with the plan, to re-design the thing. However, the thing has some design or other all along. It’s never without it.

    You assume and assert there’s bad logic somewhere, without properly identifying where it is and what would be the right logic. Well, I agree there’s bad logic somewhere. You are projecting it, and the fact that you don’t recognize your own projection only makes it worse. Carry on.

  47. 47
    Joe says:

    E Seigner:

    Anyway, it’s not my job to fix ID theory.

    You couldn’t fix anything. Not only tat it is a given that you couldn’t find anything that is actually wrong with ID.

    What doesn’t make sense is how anyone, believer or not, can hold that some things are devoid of design and, furthermore, that the distinction can be quantified.

    And yet we do exactly tat on a daily basis.

    How are things designed? Someone outside shapes the thing, that’s how. Hence the design is not inherent to the thing, but imposed.

    LoL! What you said means that the design is inherent in the thing. The design is inherent to my car, house, computer, etc.

    As I said, obviously you have issues.

  48. 48
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner

    What I have said is design cannot be empirically detected. From this you jumped to “nothing is designed” but this was an unwarranted non-sequitur on your part.

    You have claimed that humans project design onto the object. You have also claimed that everything was already designed even before humans came into existence. If you don’t understand why that is a contradiction, I will be happy to explain it.

  49. 49
    StephenB says:

    E. Saigner

    It takes a separate argument for you to establish that the thing is the same as its design.

    Bad logic: To say that design is in the thing is not to say that it is the thing.

    But if you did, and if design was inherent to things and inseparable from them, then wouldn’t this make it logically impossible for you to show me a thing without design?

    Bad logic: To say that design is inherent in a thing is not to say that everything is designed.

    My logic is that the design is analytically separable from the thing.

    Bad logic: To presuppose, believe, or assume that design is analytically separable from the thing is not to apply logic.

    Each thing has some design or other. There’s no thing without some design or other. Things can be re-designed whichever way, but empirically never un-designed.

    What you want to say here is that everything in the universe is designed (humans, the cosmos, etc), including the raw materials for other designs (matter itself). Thus, the designed matter of which my coffee cup is made was always present, but the design in the coffee cup, which is a special arrangement of designed matter, did not exist until it was designed. You are confusing the designed matter in the object with the design of the object.

    This means that the thing can be mentally separated from its design, one can imagine the thing with some other design, and then one can follow through with the plan, to re-design the thing. However, the thing has some design or other all along. It’s never without it.

    Bad logic: I cannot imagine my coffee cup having another design. If it has another design, it is no longer a coffee cup. I can, however, imagine the matter in my coffee cup being rearranged into another kind of object.

    You assume and assert there’s bad logic somewhere, without properly identifying where it is and what would be the right logic.

    Bad logic: I did not simply assume and assert the existence of bad logic, I provided examples of bad logic.

  50. 50
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    If I understand you correctly, you are equating “design” with “shape” or perhaps “all the characteristics taken together” of an object.

    From this perspective, you believe that God has given shape/design/characteristics to everything in existence. So, everything that exists has characteristics, ultimately given it by God.

    Perhaps, in a similar way, Barry gave shape/design/characteristics to String #1. In a sense, it could be said that Barry “designed” the string to appear random. Barry is directly responsible for the ordering and content. Etc.

    Is this about right?

  51. 51
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    Bad logic: To say that design is in the thing is not to say that it is the thing.

    We are talking past each other. I say “inherent”, and this is not the same as “in the thing”. Since I noticed that we are talking past each other, but you didn’t, my logic is, even if bad, still better than yours.

    StephenB

    Bad logic: To presuppose, believe, or assume that design is analytically separable from the thing is not to apply logic.

    Actually, I laid out an argument that demonstrated how design is analytically separable, and you said nothing to refute it. And it’s not my personal argument. It’s standard throughout classical philosophy. You evidently have no clue *who* you are calling “bad logic” here. Anyway, ever since I saw how little respect you have for science, it was clear that you have even less respect for philosophy and logic. It’s conclusively confirmed now.

  52. 52
    Joe says:

    E Seigner:

    Anyway, ever since I saw how little respect you have for science, …

    Nice projection.

  53. 53
    StephenB says:

    E Seigner

    I say “inherent”, and this is not the same as “in the thing”.

    Bad logic. It is exactly the same thing.

    Inherent (definition)

    “existing in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute.”

    Actually, I laid out an argument that demonstrated how design is analytically separable, and you said nothing to refute it.

    Your attempt at an argument stands on your false assertion that the observer “projects” design in accordance with his cultural biases and prejudices, which you are now trying to quietly disavow by refusing to acknowledge it. Before I refuted that position, you boldly claimed it. Now, you want nothing to do with it. Sorry, but life doesn’t work that way.

    And it’s not my personal argument. It’s standard throughout classical philosophy.

    You cannot support that claim. I dare you to try.

    You evidently have no clue *who* you are calling “bad logic” here.

    Bad logic. I didn’t call “you” bad logic. I said that your arguments are built on bad logic (and false premises).

    Anyway, ever since I saw how little respect you have for science, it was clear that you have even less respect for philosophy and logic. It’s conclusively confirmed now.

    I have enormous respect for science and philosophy–less so for your unorthodox interpretations of science and philosophy. It is not I who denies the legitimacy of inferential reasoning in the name of “projection,” it is you.

  54. 54
    DiEb says:

    DiEb @ 6: As soon as you stop evading the question and address how the two distinctions you drew made any difference whatsoever, I will answer your question.

    I wrote about my first distinction (“And the point of this observation is what exactly? Sure, Barry used “Hamlet” for a shorthand reference to the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy. So what? DiEb has drawn a distinction that makes no difference. “) in my comment #2:

    Thirdly, B. Arrington and I have different opinions when it comes to the handling of quotations and that is something for which I will not apologize. But while I’m willing to accept that “[Hamlet’s] compressed version is bigger and therefore more random than [gibberish].” uses [Hamlet] and [gibberish] as “shorthand references”, this excuse is ridiculous when the phrase evolves to something like:

    It is just sad to watch Shallit howl in success that he has demonstrated that Hamlet is more random than gibberish.

    That’s not a shorthand, just a misrepresentation.

    For me the difference is that one is a shorthand, understandable in context, but the other is a clear misrepresentation of Shallit’s ideas, especially when you don’t provide context.

    So now for my second distinction:

    DiEB again draws a distinction that makes no difference. He is essentially saying “Oh sure, the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy might not be “more random” than gibberish in general, but it is certainly more random than the special version of gibberish in string 1.” No, the first 12 lines of Hamlet’s soliloquy is not random at all. It follows that it is never “more random” than any gibberish, whether gibberish in general or the specific example of gibberish in string 1, and to suggest otherwise is, again, just plain foolish.

    No, Hamlet’s soliloquy is not random. Nor is the phrase “methinks it is like a weasel”. Nevertheless one can look at the probability of this phrase coming up randomly – William Dembski has done so. Why not I?

  55. 55
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    If I understand you correctly, you are equating “design” with “shape” or perhaps “all the characteristics taken together” of an object.

    Design and shape are synonyms. They are also interchangeable with pattern and structure for most purposes.

    “All characteristics taken together” is quite different. In some sense, “all characteristics taken together” amount to the thing itself, whereas design and shape are what the thing superficially appears to be.

    What the thing is and what it appears to be is a very important distinction. Among other implications, since design is what the thing appears to be rather than what it is, it’s a contradiction in terms to say that design is inherent to the thing. Superficialities are incidental, not inherent.

    Phinehas

    From this perspective, you believe that God has given shape/design/characteristics to everything in existence. So, everything that exists has characteristics, ultimately given it by God.

    Perhaps, in a similar way, Barry gave shape/design/characteristics to String #1. In a sense, it could be said that Barry “designed” the string to appear random. Barry is directly responsible for the ordering and content. Etc.

    Is this about right?

    Not just that Barry typed the string, not just that the string has been typed at all, not just that the string consists of ASCII characters, but the fact that there are distinct shapes, that we can call it a string, etc. It has a shape or design. Only chaos lacks design, but chaos is after the end (and before the beginning) of the universe, so this doesn’t count for our empirical purposes.

    StephenB

    I’m basically done with you. Just this little thing:

    ES: And it’s not my personal argument. It’s standard throughout classical philosophy.

    StephenB: You cannot support that claim. I dare you to try.

    To play it safe, I quote Dembski, because I cannot be sure you would recognize any other authority. Dembski says, “For the Thomist/Aristotelian, final causation and thus design is everywhere.” So, everybody at least from Aristotle to Aquinas base their line of argument on the thesis that design is omnipresent. Edward Feser, who might be more readily available for you, makes the same point.

    Dembski continues: “Fair enough. ID has no beef with this.” Whereas you have lots of irrational beef, wilful misunderstandings, and conflict-oriented disrespect. This is why I am done with you like I was done with Joe at a fairly early stage.

  56. 56
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    OK, so everything is designed.

    Now, do you admit that there is a qualitative difference between string 1 and string 2.

    If so, then how would you describe that difference?

  57. 57
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    OK, so everything is designed.

    Now, do you admit that there is a qualitative difference between string 1 and string 2.

    If so, then how would you describe that difference?

    Sure there’s a difference. Different qualities can be described in infinite ways. Linguistic, literary, calligraphical, historical, cognitive, optometrical, sociological, geometrical, etc. Since ID is quantitative, it has no way of saying which qualitative difference is relevant.

  58. 58
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    You appear to have skirted around this question:

    How would you describe that difference?

  59. 59
    Mung says:

    I am so confused.

    E.Seigner:

    Design and shape are synonyms. They are also interchangeable with pattern and structure for most purposes.

    Another synonym would be form. Correct?

    E:Seigner:

    To play it safe, I quote Dembski, because I cannot be sure you would recognize any other authority. Dembski says, “For the Thomist/Aristotelian, final causation and thus design is everywhere.”

    And yet final causes are not formal causes.

    So you and SB appear to be talking past one another.

    E:Seigner:

    So, everybody at least from Aristotle to Aquinas base their line of argument on the thesis that design is omnipresent.

    Intelligent design is about efficient causes, not formal or final or material causes.

  60. 60
    Daniel King says:

    Mung:

    I am so confused.

    We already knew that.

    How can we help you?

  61. 61
    Mung says:

    DK, Send money 🙂

  62. 62
    Joe says:

    E Seigner:

    Design and shape are synonyms.

    That all depends on the context. And in the context of the coffee spill they are not synonymous.

    This is why I am done with you like I was done with Joe at a fairly early stage.

    LoL! You were done long before you showed up here.

  63. 63
    StephenB says:

    ES

    E. Seigner

    Dembski says, “For the Thomist/Aristotelian, final causation and thus design is everywhere.”

    I am not challenging that proposition. I am challenging your absurd claim that the observer “projects” design and that the history of philosophy confirms that claim. You cannot defend that assertion—even on a dare.

  64. 64
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    You appear to have skirted around this question: “How would you describe that difference?”

    I answered it. I told it can be answered in infinitely many ways. This is precisely how I personally answer this question in the abstract, which is how you presented it. Furthermore, if something crucially depends on how I personally would describe it, how I personally would approach it, then there’s a problem – the problem of the lack of common ground, lack of independent evaluation, lack of objectivity. There’s already plenty of that.

    Mung

    ES: Design and shape are synonyms. They are also interchangeable with pattern and structure for most purposes.

    Mung: Another synonym would be form. Correct?

    Correct.

    Mung

    ES: To play it safe, I quote Dembski, because I cannot be sure you would recognize any other authority. Dembski says, “For the Thomist/Aristotelian, final causation and thus design is everywhere.”

    Mung: And yet final causes are not formal causes.

    Indeed. And, for your information, forms do not equal formal causes. Form in English equals shape. Formal cause equals essence. As to final causes, I deeply doubt Dembski knows what they are. And the emphasis is not in any causes anyway. The emphasis for our purposes is on that design is everywhere for Aristotelians and Thomists. At least that much is intelligible and that’s the part I agree on in the quote.

    Mung

    So you and SB appear to be talking past one another.

    So true. And it appears so do you and I.

    Mung

    ES: So, everybody at least from Aristotle to Aquinas base their line of argument on the thesis that design is omnipresent.

    Intelligent design is about efficient causes, not formal or final or material causes.

    In past discussions it has become abundantly clear that ID theorists don’t have the foggiest idea what causes ID is about. See, Dembski’s quote looks like equating design with final causes. You say it’s efficient causes. You two seem to be talking past each other.

  65. 65
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    ES: Dembski says, “For the Thomist/Aristotelian, final causation and thus design is everywhere.”

    StephenB: I am not challenging that proposition. I am challenging your absurd claim that the observer “projects” design and that the history of philosophy confirms that claim. You cannot defend that assertion—even on a dare.

    More specifically, here you challenged my argument of the nature of design, and my claim that the argument is standard in classical philosophy. Now, instead of quoting Aquinas and Aristotle at length to you and to end up quibbling about words like “art” and “order” and whichever way the relevant terms have been translated into English, I will quote a syllogized summary of Aquinas’ argument from design on a university website:

    1. All things have an order or arrangement, and work for an end.
    2. The order of the universe cannot be explained by chance, but only by design and purpose.
    3. Design and purpose is a product of intelligence.
    4. Therefore nature is directed by a Divine Intelligence or Great Designer.

    Premises #1 and #3 are most relevant here. #1 is an inductive generalization from experience. #3 proposes the source of design, based on the nature of intelligence. Design proceeds from intellect. Intellect imparts design to things, hence design is not inherent to things, but imposed, secondarily imputed. Right?

    Keeping this in mind, compare it with my argument: “My logic is that the design is analytically separable from the thing. Any design, form, pattern, etc. can be applied to any thing. Each thing has some design or other. There’s no thing without some design or other.” My last two sentences state the same as #1 above, and the rest is in harmony with the view that design proceeds, in first order, from intelligence, and is only incidentally related to things, i.e. design is not inherent to things, even though every thing has some design or other.

    Moreover, #1 goes squarely against your proposition that you can see a million things that have no design. You really need a separate argument to back it up, to make it even intelligible.

    Now, the essential outline of the argument from design is not specific to Aquinas, but derives from Aristotle. It is also, with modifications, shared with Platonism, Islamic philosophy, Buddhism, and Vedanta. All these agree that design proceeds from intelligence and all things display some order or pattern. It’s common knowledge. Only you (and KF and BA and some other incoherent pomo hyperskeptics) disagree.

    Funny enough, the way “design” is often talked about in ID theory, it comes very close to purpose rather than mere shape. “Design” in ID theory is often equivalent to a plan, to a project. Is the project really in things or is it projected by intellect? Instead of blaming me for saying that design is projected – i.e. proceeds from intelligence, not from the thing – ID theorists themselves should be saying this, if they were coherent and consistent, attentive of their own metaphysical assumptions, and in line with common logic. Evidently you don’t want to be.

    But I digress. I was done with you.

  66. 66
    StephenB says:

    E Seigner

    “My logic is that the design is analytically separable from the thing.

    Your logic is wrong. Only the idea of the design or the purpose for the design can be analytically separate from the designed object–not the design itself.

    Any design, form, pattern, etc. can be applied to any thing.

    That’s crazy. The design of my coffee cup cannot be applied to the design of your car. This is more of your nonsense to the effect that the observer projects design.

    My last two sentences state the same as #1 above, and the rest is in harmony with the view that design proceeds, in first order, from intelligence, and is only incidentally related to things, i.e. design is not inherent to things, even though every thing has some design or other.

    Doesn’t follow at all. Not even close.

    All these agree that design proceeds from intelligence and all things display some order or pattern. It’s common knowledge. Only you (and KF and BA and some other incoherent pomo hyperskeptics) disagree.

    Everyone agrees that design proceeds from intelligence. Everyone agrees that natural bodies (as opposed to paint splattered by a vandal) display some kind of order or pattern. However, these ontological propositions, reasonable though they may be, have nothing to do with the design inference, which is epistemological. ID’s epistemological design inference is compatible with the ontological claim that everything is designed. If you don’t understand that fact, then you don’t understand the design inference.

    Funny enough, the way “design” is often talked about in ID theory, it comes very close to purpose rather than mere shape. “Design” in ID theory is often equivalent to a plan, to a project.

    No, the purpose is the rationale for the design. It is not the design itself.

    Is the project really in things or is it projected by intellect?

    A project is not synonymous with a purpose, which is not synonymous with a design. You must learn to make these distinctions.

    However, as I have already explained to you, the designer projects design into the thing. The architect and the engineer project design into the building. The concept of the design was first in the mind of the designer and then became realized in the designed object when the parts were so arranged.

    Now please pay attention: The observer of the building does not project a demn thing. The observer detects the design that the designer projected into the designed object. It is your argument that the observer projects design on the basis of his cultural biases and prejudices. Your argument is nonsense.

    The observer doesn’t project design; the creator projects design. The observer detects (or infers) design.

    The design is in the designed object. There is no where else that it can possibly be.

    Have you got it?

  67. 67
    Joe says:

    E Seigner:

    In past discussions it has become abundantly clear that ID theorists don’t have the foggiest idea what causes ID is about.

    You mean YOU don’t have the foggiest idea what causes ID is about.

  68. 68
    Joe says:

    DiEB:

    Nevertheless one can look at the probability of this phrase coming up randomly

    Do it then- I say the probability of Hamlet arising by chance is zero. What do you say?

  69. 69
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    ID’s epistemological design inference is compatible with the ontological claim that everything is designed.

    Hmm. So you handily reconcile your “I can think of millions of things that have no design” with everyone else’s “All things have an order or arrangement” by saying that you are being epistemological rather than ontological.

    To help you out, here’s what epistemology is not: It’s not whatever you rationalize up for your own personal convenience. And here’s what epistemology is: It’s what anyone with certain faculties can reliably determine. And if they can’t determine it, then there’s an explanation why, the usual explanation being the lack of the relevant faculty.

    If you dispute this, I will not immediately conclude that you lack the relevant faculty to comprehend epistemology. Rather, I will assume that you have other additional faculties that interfere with the relevant faculty. I can still be generous even now that I am done with you.

  70. 70
    Joe says:

    E Seigner- If you are done with us then why don’t you leave and take your incoherent babbling with you.

  71. 71
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner

    Hmm. So you handily reconcile your “I can think of millions of things that have no design” with everyone else’s “All things have an order or arrangement” by saying that you are being epistemological rather than ontological.

    Try to follow the argument. I didn’t say that “Everything is designed” can be reconciled with “everything is not designed.” What I said was that ID’s epistemological method can be reconciled with the ontological proposition that everything is designed, which it can.

    To help you out, here’s what epistemology is not” It’s not whatever you rationalize up for your own personal convenience.

    That’s very funny coming from someone who conveniently ignores these two verifiable facts of epistemology:

    [a] The creator of design, not the observer of design, projects design onto the object. Learn it, live it, love it.

    [b] That is why the design is in the object and not, as you would have it, running around looking for a home or wandering off into another object.

    When you learn the difference between the creator and the observer, and when you grasp the point that the design in my coffee cup cannot be applied to the design in your automobile, you will finally make progress, assuming that all your mental faculties are in operation.

  72. 72
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    Phin: You appear to have skirted around this question: “How would you describe that difference?”

    ES: I answered it. I told it can be answered in infinitely many ways.

    No, you didn’t really answer it. You blew smoke. You did pretty much exactly what the OP said you would. Instead of addressing what is staring you in the face, you chose to start pointing to all sorts of distractions.

    Look: I’m happy to learn new perspectives, especially from a fellow believer in God. If you have something important to say, I want to hear it. But please, let’s drop the rhetorical games and just talk about the reality in front of us, shall we?

    It doesn’t really matter that you can describe an infinite number of differences between the two strings, does it? You know exactly what I am asking. There is a very striking and obvious difference between the two strings that even a child could recognize. You and I both know that it is there. How would you describe that difference?

  73. 73
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    It doesn’t really matter that you can describe an infinite number of differences between the two strings, does it?

    Actually, it crucially matters how many possible descriptions there are and which one we choose. If you are interested in other perspectives, you will take seriously what I say. If not, I will be forced to make this same point again.

    Phinehas

    You know exactly what I am asking.

    Yes, I know exactly that you asked “If there is a difference, how would you describe the difference?” If you had something else in mind, then spell it out. I won’t waste time for assumptions.

    Phinehas

    There is a very striking and obvious difference between the two strings that even a child could recognize. You and I both know that it is there. How would you describe that difference?

    You have a monolingual English-speaking child in mind? Maybe it’s inconceivable in your universe, but I am multilingual and English is my fourth language. Seriously, I won’t play guessing games. You are repeating a question I already answered. If you wanted to ask a different question, then go ahead.

  74. 74
    StephenB says:

    SB: “That’s very funny coming from someone who conveniently ignores these two verifiable facts of epistemology:

    [a] The creator of design, not the observer of design, projects design onto the object.

    [b] That is why the design is in the object and not, as you would have it, running around looking for a home or wandering off into another object.

    Correction: those are two facts about metaphysics. Through epistemology, we can discern the effects of the creative effort by drawing inferences from the evidence–not, as ES would have it, by projecting our cultural biases onto the evidence.

  75. 75
    DiEb says:

    Joe:

    DiEB:

    Nevertheless one can look at the probability of this phrase coming up randomly

    Do it then- I say the probability of Hamlet arising by chance is zero. What do you say?

    First, Joe, thank you for showing how important my first “distinction without a difference” was: we are not talking about “Hamlet” but about a couple of lines of the famous soliloquy, in fact 534 bytes – quite a difference to the ca. 190Kbytes of the full play!

    There are 256^534 = 10^1286 strings of this length – and following W. Dembski’s arguments – the probability of finding a specific one is 10^(-1286). Pretty small, but not zero.

  76. 76
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seignor:

    P: It doesn’t really matter that you can describe an infinite number of differences between the two strings, does it?

    ES: Actually, it crucially matters how many possible descriptions there are and which one we choose. If you are interested in other perspectives, you will take seriously what I say. If not, I will be forced to make this same point again.

    You didn’t really make a point. You made a bare assertion. In order to make a point, you’d need to explain why the number of descriptions is germane, let alone cruicial. Currently, I see no reason to take this particular assertion seriously, but I’m open to having my mind changed on the matter.

    P: There is a very striking and obvious difference between the two strings that even a child could recognize. You and I both know that it is there. How would you describe that difference?

    ES: You have a monolingual English-speaking child in mind? Maybe it’s inconceivable in your universe, but I am multilingual and English is my fourth language. Seriously, I won’t play guessing games.

    For Shakespeare, written in the English language on an English blog by an English speaker and being discussed by English-speaking posters, yes, I have an English-speaking child in mind. I fail to see the importance of whether or not that child is monolingual. Similarly, I’m not sure why you are telling me how many languages you speak. Is this really important to the issue at hand? So far, it seems to me that your grasp of English is sufficient.

    I’m not so confident I can say the same about your grasp of games. Did you really suppose I’d have a non-English speaking child in mind when discussing the obvious difference a child can see between a string of gibberish and English text? And that I’d expect you to guess that? Or were you just being pedantic? Why don’t we treat all games the same here, including rhetorical games? The OP has charged that anti IDers are prone to turn to distractions in an attempt to avoid the real issue. Are you going to do anything to disabuse observers of this notion? Anything at all? Or will you insist on reinforcing it?

    But if the English language is going to be a stumbling block for you, I’m happy to fall back on pictures.

    Mound of Dirt 1

    Mound of Dirt 2

    There is a very striking and obvious difference between the two mounds of dirt depicted that even a child could recognize. You and I both know that it is there. How would you describe that difference?

  77. 77
    Steve says:

    Phinehas,

    Perfect pedagogical pics for ID.

    Its extremely, highly-highly, almost-almost impossible but not totally-totally impossible (in theory), mind you to describe the difference without using that dirty-dirty word ‘intelligence’ or any other dirty-dirty language.

    I just-just know that Dieb and/or Seigner will grace us with a description of the chain of physio-chemical interactions that resulted in simple dirt transformed into complex (highly improbable) specified dirt.

  78. 78
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    The OP has charged that anti IDers are prone to turn to distractions in an attempt to avoid the real issue. Are you going to do anything to disabuse observers of this notion? Anything at all? Or will you insist on reinforcing it?

    I am all for the “real issue”, but first tell me what the “real issue” is so we could discuss it. When you ask a question, put sufficient context around it so that it doesn’t look like an abstract question when you don’t mean it as abstract. If you want me to know the aim with your questions, you will tell me the aim. Otherwise it will spiral into a guessing game. In fact, you already achieved it.

    So, what’s the “real issue”? Or are you not interested in new perspectives after all?

  79. 79
    DiEb says:

    Barry Arrington:

    As soon as you stop evading the question and address how the two distinctions you drew made any difference whatsoever, I will answer your question.

    (highlighting mine) – Please take a look at #54 and #75.

  80. 80
    Barry Arrington says:

    DiEb,

    I did. They are both so much blah, blah, blah, an excellent example of the “desperate distractions,” that are the subject of this post. Thank you for yet another such example. Neither of them even begins to explain how the distinctions you drew made any difference.

  81. 81
    kairosfocus says:

    DiEb:

    The solar system or cosmos blind search capacity are so overwhelmed by a config space of 2^ (7 * 535) that using the search size scales to one straw size, the haystack size would swallow up the observable universe of some 90 bn LY across.

    So, one of the underlying issues comes up, that search size to space size is such that sampling theory tells us very firmly only to expect a representation of the bulk, in a realistic case.

    Where, the constraints of functionally specific text in English (or similar) requiring components in specific arrangements, leads to isolated islands of function.

    The likelihood of success on a cosmos scale blind needle in haystack search are effectively infinitesimal.

    That is why we do have a case of no observational evidence.

    There is no empirical evidence of FSCO/I arising by bling search, but there are trillions of cases of it arising by design, routinely. So that is not extraordinary (if you wanted that out).

    So, yes, every individual outcome is rare so a blind search for any one given outcome is vastly unlikely to succeed. But that simply moves the goalposts from the real thing: we have independently specified observable function, here as text in English, and we know what in our experien e routinely produces it. With an analysis of why suggested alternatives reliably will not.

    Thus, we are well within inductive, inference to best explanation rights to hold that the best explanation of FSCO/I is design.

    And where the shifting of the subject becomes an exercise in distraction, a red herring in effect. A strawman in particular, as there is a consistent misrepresentation of the argument and reasoning and evidence behind the design inference on FSCO/I. (Which BTW has been pointed out to you more than once, so why do you resist the correction?)

    It is more than time for a fresh start.

    KF

  82. 82
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    I am all for the “real issue”, but first tell me what the “real issue” is so we could discuss it. When you ask a question, put sufficient context around it so that it doesn’t look like an abstract question when you don’t mean it as abstract. If you want me to know the aim with your questions, you will tell me the aim. Otherwise it will spiral into a guessing game. In fact, you already achieved it.

    I’m pretty sure you didn’t end up anywhere you didn’t want to go. What I’ve written so far along with where I’ve written it, including the blog, the OP, the references to content from other posts, are all more than sufficient context for what I’ve written. Anyone who isn’t deliberately trying to misunderstand won’t.

    So, what’s the “real issue”? Or are you not interested in new perspectives after all?

    The real issue is how to describe the obvious and striking difference in the examples Barry and I have presented. You appear to be unhappy with how the word “design” is being used to describe this difference, since God designed everything (or, everything has a shape, which is a synonym for a particular usage of “design”). Fine. You don’t want to describe the obvious and striking difference in the strings, the mounds of dirt, Poker hands, or countless other examples using the word design. (Note that the ability of the same concept to transcend the specific examples resists the reductionist approach that some would like to offer.) But your insistence on not using a particular word to describe the obvious and striking difference doesn’t make that difference go away. It’s still there. Staring us all in the face. Easily recognized by a child.

    So, having lost the use of the word “design” to describe the obvious and striking difference, how do you describe it? Or would you prefer we all just stop trying to describe it?

    (Once again, I’ve directly addressed the distraction you’ve raised. Will you now give up the tactic of continuing to distract instead of engaging? I’m not holding my breath.)

  83. 83
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    So, having lost the use of the word “design” to describe the obvious and striking difference, how do you describe it? Or would you prefer we all just stop trying to describe it?

    This is a much better question. The answer is that my way to describe the difference is to say it’s a difference in degree, incidental to the substance. This means it’s not an essential difference and there’s no point at which in degree implies a new quality to the substance. It’s a purely quantitative difference throughout.

    Let’s say there’s a body of water. Water consists of drops. How many drops do you need to take away until it ceases to be water and only a drop is left? This is the classical paradox of the heap. Drops and water are really a continuum of the same thing, but different scales of the continuum are verbally termed differently, just like cold and warm are really both temperature. The difference is of degree, of quantity, not of quality.

    Now, you presented me with two images of sand heaps (Mound of Dirt #1 and #2) and you said that there’s a difference that any child can see. Yes, any child can see it. However, this is equivalent to showing a sand particle to a child and you say

    Claim #1: “This is a sand particle.”

    and then you point to a large pile of sand and say

    Claim #2: “This is a heap.”

    and then you further say

    Claim #3: “These two are obviously totally different things and everybody with eyes to see immediately knows the difference.”

    You just might convince the child. But I am not a child. I am someone familiar with the paradox of the heap and I recognize how claim #3 cannot be taken too far without committing a logical fallacy. The difference between the sand particle and the heap is quantitative, not qualitative. The different words “drop” versus “water” or “sand particle” versus “heap” do not entail or imply a distinct substance or essence. The difference is merely verbal, incidental, inconsequential, only a matter of scale or degree, whereas the essential substance is the same. Therefore, when I say that the sand particle and the heap are essentially the same thing, and you reply that I am selectively hyperskeptical, then you will have gone overboard.

    This is precisely the difference I see in your two images. There is no essential difference. The “obvious” difference of the shapes is a matter of degree, not of kind – both are heaps and both have shapes, and one heap can smoothly be re-shaped into the other. It’s analogous to a single body of water that assumes different shapes in different vessels – a huge difference in shapes of water, but no difference in the quality of water.

    Of course I agree there’s a quantitative or incidental difference, but this is all I can say. If you say design implies a designer, then this applies equally to both heaps. Both heaps have some design. The simpler heap looks like cast off a truck, so it’s as man-designed as the sand castle. If it were a natural dune, then I’d say it’s designed by nature, which is also a common-sense phrase.

  84. 84
    E.Seigner says:

    Correction: “…no point at which in degree…” in my first paragraph should be “…no point at which the difference in degree…”

  85. 85
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    A difference in degree can be obvious and striking as well, though, can it not? A particle and a heap are two different things, and a child, without needing to know about qualitative and quantitative differences, can immediately recognize a difference. The child knows a difference is there, even if it is just a quantitative one.

    And it may be premature to conclude that there is no qualitative difference whatsoever between a particle and a heap, since the heap tends to have the quality of being much harder to miss. The same might be said of the design in the second mound of dirt.

    Of course I agree there’s a quantitative or incidental difference, but this is all I can say.

    Are you implying that incidental necessarily follows from quantitative? If not, then you have done nothing to support the notion that the difference we see is incidental. In fact, to assert that the obvious and striking difference between the two mounds of dirt depicted is “incidental” does inflict harm on your most newly acquired language. If anything, this demonstrates that either incidental cannot necessarily follow from quantitative, or that quantitative is an inadequate description for the obvious and striking difference we see. Said another way, if your reasoning leads to the conclusion that the difference between the two mounds of dirt is incidental, then so much the worse for your reasoning.

    If you say design implies a designer, then this applies equally to both heaps. Both heaps have some design. The simpler heap looks like cast off a truck…

    I picked these two pictures deliberately to reflect the two strings Barry created. I think it quite likely that the “design” of the first heap is limited to something like dump heap of dirt here, just like the “design” in Barry’s first string was type random gibberish of approximate length n.

    …so it’s as man-designed as the sand castle.

    Really? You’ve argued that there are degrees of design, have you not? (How else to explain your particle vs. heap analogy?) So how do you arrive at the conclusion that the degree of design in the mound of dirt is as much as the degree of design in the sand castle?

    Or are you trying to make a qualitative argument here? After having tried to convince us that design is quantitative, why smuggle qualitative design back into the conversation? This makes it appear that you are appealing to the quantitative nature of design to avoid addressing its qualitative nature only to then appeal to its qualitative nature to avoid addressing the significant quantitative difference. Throw in the word “incidental” as a pretense, and then hope no one notices how striking and obvious the difference really is.

    The thing is: not everyone’s head is stuck so firmly in the mound of dirt.

    If it were a natural dune, then I’d say it’s designed by nature, which is also a common-sense phrase.

    Not really, except where limiting yourself to the most narrow concept of design, anthropomorphizing nature, or assuming common-sense is synonymous with nonsense.

  86. 86
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    A difference in degree can be obvious and striking as well, though, can it not? A particle and a heap are two different things…

    No. A sand particle and a heap of sand are both sand. A water drop, rain, river, lake, and ocean are all water. Different design, if you like, but all design. No non-design.

    Phinehas

    And it may be premature to conclude that there is no qualitative difference whatsoever between a particle and a heap, since the heap tends to have the quality of being much harder to miss.

    So you plan to play dense on the paradox of the heap. Come on, even children understand the paradox of the heap. And adults generally understand without telling that to go overboard with the paradox necessarily involves a distinction without difference, a logical fallacy.

    Phinehas

    Are you implying that incidental necessarily follows from quantitative? If not, then you have done nothing to support the notion that the difference we see is incidental.

    They don’t follow from each other. They are the same logical category.

    Phinehas

    In fact, to assert that the obvious and striking difference between the two mounds of dirt depicted is “incidental” does inflict harm on your most newly acquired language. If anything, this demonstrates that either incidental cannot necessarily follow from quantitative, or that quantitative is an inadequate description for the obvious and striking difference we see.

    You misread causality into an account of logical correspondence. You are evidently unfamiliar with the language of metaphysics. Every keyword in my post is technically accurate metaphysics, but you quibble over them on rhetorical, empirical, and other irrelevant grounds.

    Phinehas

    I picked these two pictures deliberately to reflect the two strings Barry created. I think it quite likely that the “design” of the first heap is limited to something like dump heap of dirt here, just like the “design” in Barry’s first string was type random gibberish of approximate length n.

    I see that we have arrived at a crucial point in your argument. Your argument vitally depends on “something like”. Very well. How do you prove that “something like” is a quality rather than quantity? Is it meant to be one of these? How do you prove it is even relevant to anything?

    Phinehas

    Really? You’ve argued that there are degrees of design, have you not? (How else to explain your particle vs. heap analogy?) So how do you arrive at the conclusion that the degree of design in the mound of dirt is as much as the degree of design in the sand castle?

    What the heaps share is the *quality* of design. I added, for clarity, that even if it were a natural dune, it would still have design. There’s no thing devoid of design. This happens to in line with the Thomist argument from design which I quoted above. And I’m not even a Thomist. It’s just that this perspective is standard across all classical metaphysics.

    Phinehas

    [You are] limiting yourself to the most narrow concept of design, anthropomorphizing nature, or assuming common-sense is synonymous with nonsense.

    And what does your concept of design look like? Qualitative or quantitative? Or whichever looks better for the given occasion?

  87. 87
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    P: A difference in degree can be obvious and striking as well, though, can it not? A particle and a heap are two different things…

    ES: No. A sand particle and a heap of sand are both sand. A water drop, rain, river, lake, and ocean are all water. Different design, if you like, but all design. No non-design.

    I never denied that a sand particle and a heap of sand are both sand. I merely pointed out that a particle is not a heap. Paradoxes or thought experiments that highlight shortcomings in the way we describe quantities using vague language are helpful right up to the point where they convince you that a particle is a heap. At that point, you’ve missed the point.

    I’m not sure the paradox of the heap is strictly about what you appear to think it is. You appear to think that, because you can call both a particle and a heap sand, the paradox is resolved. Or that both a heap and a particle being sand is the point. However, the same kind of descriptive vagueness can be seen in a sorites paradox based on color gradient.

    Color Gradient Illustrating Sorites Paradox

    So, this proves that green and red are all just shades of red, right? How does that do any more than merely render the concept of green meaningless and useless?

    Again, if your reasoning leads you to the point where you deny the obvious and striking difference between green and red or between mound of dirt one and mound of dirt two, then so much the worse for your reasoning.

    P: In fact, to assert that the obvious and striking difference between the two mounds of dirt depicted is “incidental” does inflict harm on your most newly acquired language. If anything, this demonstrates that either incidental cannot necessarily follow from quantitative, or that quantitative is an inadequate description for the obvious and striking difference we see.

    ES: You misread causality into an account of logical correspondence. You are evidently unfamiliar with the language of metaphysics. Every keyword in my post is technically accurate metaphysics, but you quibble over them on rhetorical, empirical, and other irrelevant grounds.

    I certainly quibble over whether or not empirical objections are relevant. If your metaphysics is telling you that green is red, so much the worse for your metaphysics. If your metaphysics is telling you that a particle is a heap, so much the worse for your metaphysics. If your metaphysics is “technically accurate” in describing the difference between string one and string two, or mound one and mound two as “incidental,” then so much the worse for your metaphysics.

    P: Really? You’ve argued that there are degrees of design, have you not? (How else to explain your particle vs. heap analogy?) So how do you arrive at the conclusion that the degree of design in the mound of dirt is as much as the degree of design in the sand castle?

    ES: What the heaps share is the *quality* of design. I added, for clarity, that even if it were a natural dune, it would still have design. There’s no thing devoid of design.

    So, now you are denying that mound two can have more design than mound one? Or, at the least, more apparent design? Then what are you left with for describing the obvious and striking difference between the two? You’ve effectively said that green is a shade of red and, in the process, merely crippled your own ability to describe green. So much the worse for your metaphysics.

    And what does your concept of design look like? Qualitative or quantitative? Or whichever looks better for the given occasion?

    Is the difference between green and red qualitative or quantitative?

  88. 88
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    I never denied that a sand particle and a heap of sand are both sand. I merely pointed out that a particle is not a heap. Paradoxes or thought experiments that highlight shortcomings in the way we describe quantities using vague language are helpful right up to the point where they convince you that a particle is a heap. At that point, you’ve missed the point.

    I draw a completely different lesson from the paradox. It demonstrates that there’s no fixed point where a collection of sand particles becomes a heap. It teaches that there are verbal differences without a real distinction. It tells that there are relevant distinctions versus irrelevant distinctions. There’s important and less important. These purely logical distinctions may seem overly abstract to you, but they are crucial to me precisely because they are logical.

    Cold and warm feel different, but both are temperature. This is the distinction of appearance versus essence. Colors are a similar case. Different colors are different wavelengths, construed as if substantially different by the mind, while they objectively and measurably are different wavelengths of the same substance.

    Phinehas

    If your metaphysics is telling you that green is red, so much the worse for your metaphysics.

    Both are color, so there’s essential sameness. The difference is also there, but it’s apparent, a matter of degree, not of kind. Colors blend into each other. There are no fixed boundaries between them.

    Phinehas

    If your metaphysics is telling you that a particle is a heap, so much the worse for your metaphysics.

    Both are sand. The substantial sameness has importance despite the apparent difference.

    For me essence is important. For you appearances are important. This is irreconcilable. Your case rests on intently overemphasizing the kind of difference that the paradox logically puts into perspective.

    For me logical certainty always overpowers the mixed and contradictory reports of sense-perception. Any day, under all circumstances, without fail. For you it seems to be the other way around. So, now the *real issue* is that we have no identifiable common ground.

  89. 89
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner

    For me logical certainty always overpowers the mixed and contradictory reports of sense-perception. Any day, under all circumstances, without fail. For you it seems to be the other way around. So, now the *real issue* is that we have no identifiable common ground.

    You are confusing certainty, which is based on knowledge, with certitude, which is based on feelings. You may feel certain that the observer projects design, but your misguided feelings do not qualify as logical certainty. You only feel that they do.

    In keeping with that point, I don’t really believe you when you say that you can’t discern which pile was delivered by a dump truck and which pile was sculpted by an artist. You must be trolling around just for fun. No one could possibly be that lacking in intelligence and common sense.

  90. 90
    Mung says:

    Barry, I see what you are doing posting additional “Darwinian Debating Devices” threads. You’re trying desperately to distract us from this one. But we’re on to you now!

  91. 91
    Mung says:

    There is a very striking and obvious difference between the two mounds of dirt depicted that even a child could recognize. You and I both know that it is there. How would you describe that difference?

    I have performed an analysis of both pictures, and the second picture turns out to be more random than the first.

  92. 92
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    P: If your metaphysics is telling you that a particle is a heap, so much the worse for your metaphysics.

    ES: Both are sand. The substantial sameness has importance despite the apparent difference.

    No. Both are sand only if we are talking about a particle of sand and a heap of sand. But we can apply the concepts of particle and heap across a number of substances. This indicates to me that particles and heaps have meaning apart from sand, or grain, or seeds, or salt, or data, or whatever. I can say that there’s a heap over there without knowing the heap’s composition. I can also say that a heap is not a particle. This is a distinction that exists, is useful, and is significant despite any substantial sameness or difference.

    For me essence is important. For you appearances are important.

    Not quite. For me, reality is important. Appearances can deceive, but so can your metaphysics. Making essential sameness primary to the point that the obvious and striking difference between green and red can only ever be “incidental,” or to the point where green-ness loses meaning because it’s just another shade of red, or to the point where you are no longer able to describe the obvious and striking difference between the two strings or two mounds of dirt in any sort of meaningful way ought to be an indication that you’ve wandered off the reservation.

    I don’t see the value in throwing useful tools away. Instead of ruling out all empirical evidence as irrelevant, wouldn’t it be wiser to use such as checks and balances on your metaphysics lest you end up in la-la land. I could swear Barry posted something about this recently.

  93. 93
    Phinehas says:

    StephenB:

    In keeping with that point, I don’t really believe you when you say that you can’t discern which pile was delivered by a dump truck and which pile was sculpted by an artist.

    I think ES would say that she can discern which pile is which. She just can’t discern which pile is designed because both are designed. But this narrow (or overly broad?) definition of design merely leaves her without the ability to describe the difference she can (and a child could) discern. Or, if she does describe it, that opens her up to then having to explain away whatever word she uses to describe it the same way she had to explain away design. Her metaphysics put her in the unenviable position of having to deny the apparent.

  94. 94
    Phinehas says:

    Mung,

    LOL @ 91!

  95. 95
    Mung says:

    Phinehas @ 94, thank you. I’ve never believed that levity is an obstacle to understanding. 🙂

    This is an interesting discussion, it’s hard to know quite where to step in.

    Let’s start with sand and color.

    One might ask, how much sand is there, or how much color is there. One might also ask, what color is the sand, and even, what sand is the color?

    Is “coloredness” truly an essence, and if so, in what sense?

    Socrates may be human, and white Socrates may be a white human, but is this because Socrates is composed of two different essences, humanity and coloredness?

    E.Seigner:

    The substantial sameness has importance despite the apparent difference.

    For me essence is important.

    If essence is important, then it must also be important to know what an essence is.

    To speak of substantial sameness seems to me to be incoherent. Substances are individual.

  96. 96
    Mung says:

    Further, it would seem that according to E.S. two substances that share the same form must share the same shape.

    But this is neither true of sand nor water.

  97. 97
    StephenB says:

    Phinehas

    I think ES would say that she can discern which pile is which. She just can’t discern which pile is designed because both are designed.

    She claims that she can discern one pile from the other, yes, but that difference is insignificant because she also claims that she cannot discern which one was delivered by the dump truck and which one was crafted by the artist.

    Also, you cannot take too seriously her claim that both are designed since she also claims that the design is not in the object but in the person who observes it, which means it is designed only if the observer perceives it to be so.

  98. 98
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    ES: Both are sand. The substantial sameness has importance despite the apparent difference.

    Ph: No. Both are sand only if we are talking about a particle of sand and a heap of sand. But we can apply the concepts of particle and heap across a number of substances. This indicates to me that particles and heaps have meaning apart from sand, or grain, or seeds, or salt, or data, or whatever.

    As if I had been saying anything different. And the meaning of words like particles and heaps is specifically to denote the apparent reality, as distinguished from the essential reality which is more fundamental. When you have plastic things shaped exactly like fruits, even with aroma added and all, you still cannot eat it. Plastic fruits are plastic, not fruits. A sand castle is sand, not a castle.

    Phinehas

    For me, reality is important. Appearances can deceive, but so can your metaphysics.

    The whole point of logic and metaphysics is to escape the deception of appearances. It can deceive you only when you are using it wrong. And you are using it wrong.

    Phinehas

    I don’t see the value in throwing useful tools away.

    But you just did! You threw metaphysics away, whereas I use it to put appearances into perspective.

    I also hereby note that you have given up the crucial point in your argument – the “something like” point. The “something like” was meant to be a description of types of design, such as “dump heap of dirt here” or “type random gibberish of approximate length n”. The point I make about them is that they all are meant to describe design, and if we were to scrutinize how these descriptions are applied, we’d see that they are applied exactly like words “particle” and “heap”, denoting different modes of the same supposed substance, instead of substantially different things.

    By your method, you’d maintain that sand castles are castles rather than sand and plastic fruits are fruits rather than plastic. A child might agree, but I won’t. Anyway, luckily for you you gave up this point before it came to this.

    P.S. If anyone compounds on StephenB-ish misrepresentations of my arguments, my verdict of the ID community will be complete. This being a Dembski website, it gives a fairly adequate picture of the kind of people that his theory tends to attract.

  99. 99
    E.Seigner says:

    Mung

    If essence is important, then it must also be important to know what an essence is.

    And how would you approach this problem?

    Mung

    To speak of substantial sameness seems to me to be incoherent. Substances are individual.

    There are multiple substances in Aristotelianism and its derivative schools of thought, yes. I do not share this view, but if you do, then you are in pretty respectable company.

    Mung

    Further, it would seem that according to E.S. two substances that share the same form must share the same shape.

    But this is neither true of sand nor water.

    Only if “form” here means Aristotelian form(al cause). This would be a misunderstanding of my argument, because I am not an Aristotelian to begin with. As specifics get added (the way you add “form” here), my difference from Aristotelianism and Thomism gets clearer. I just might discuss it, if your further questions are interesting enough.

  100. 100
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner

    P.S. If anyone compounds on StephenB-ish misrepresentations of my arguments, my verdict of the ID community will be complete. This being a Dembski website, it gives a fairly adequate picture of the kind of people that his theory tends to attract.

    I can support every point I made. Would you care to take them one at a time? Anti-ID partisans love the luxury of scrutinizing but the loathe the prospect of being scrutinized. Meanwhile, your allusion about the “kind of person” I am qualifies as —a “desperate distraction.”

  101. 101
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    A sand castle is sand, not a castle.

    Nope. A sand castle is sand and it is a castle. Otherwise, castles don’t exist, since a castle built from any substances would be the substance and not a castle.

    I don’t see the value in a metaphysics where castles, particles, and heaps either don’t exist or are irrelevant. Castles, particles, and heaps exist in reality, and a metaphysics that doesn’t reflect reality is bankrupt.

    The whole point of logic and metaphysics is to escape the deception of appearances.

    Again, I don’t think so. The point of logic and metaphysics is to move closer to understanding reality. I think if you focus too much on avoiding the deception of appearances (or empirical evidence) you’ll just end up falling (or may have already fallen) for the deception of concepts and language in your metaphysics. True, we see through a glass darkly. But we also think through a glass darkly, and supposing otherwise can lead you away from reality.

    P: I don’t see the value in throwing useful tools away.

    ES: But you just did! You threw metaphysics away, whereas I use it to put appearances into perspective.

    I don’t think so. I’m not denying that sand castles are sand. And I’m not denying that they are castles. Neither substance or appearance are irrelevant to me. Why should I blind myself in one eye to see better out of the other?

  102. 102
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    ES: A sand castle is sand, not a castle.

    Ph: Nope. A sand castle is sand and it is a castle. Otherwise, castles don’t exist, since a castle built from any substances would be the substance and not a castle.

    Let’s apply this reasoning to the other example I brought.

    A plastic fruit is plastic and it is a fruit. Otherwise, fruits don’t exist, since a fruit built from any substances would be the substance and not a fruit.

    Everything alright with this? The reasoning will be properly in perspective as soon as you acknowledge that substance or essence is always more important than shape or size. This of course would be the ultimate death-blow to your argument, but that’s life.

    Phinehas

    I don’t think so. I’m not denying that sand castles are sand. And I’m not denying that they are castles. Neither substance or appearance are irrelevant to me. Why should I blind myself in one eye to see better out of the other?

    Substances and appearances are different metaphysical categories with different priority. To not acknowledge this is a form of blindness.

    Let’s say you just keep adding sand particles and at some point you exclaim: Eureka, a heap! This is trivially true. We both agree on this. What we disagree on is that the sand heap has any deeper meaning to it compared to the sand particle. We don’t disagree on the “heap” part of your exclamation. We disagree on the “Eureka” part. Let’s say you take water from a pond and you pour it in an aquarium or vice versa. Water changes shape in the process, but does it acquire any deeper meaning as a result? What is the revelation involved? Am I missing something? Or is it, as logic tells me, that I’m missing nothing here. I have it figured out beyond slightest doubt. I have also considered counter-arguments and these have been found defective.

    I have given you full argumentation why the difference between sizes and shapes is incidental and inessential. Whereas you, ever since you gave up the “something like” point which was supposed to tell something important about different designs, have absolutely no reason to disagree anymore. So now you disagree for no reason at all. No problem. I can live with this.

  103. 103
    Joe says:

    If castles are made out of rocks and rocks are made out of sand (and other sediments), then wouldn’t castles be made out of sand?

  104. 104
    StephenB says:

    Ph: Nope. A sand castle is sand and it is a castle. Otherwise, castles don’t exist, since a castle built from any substances would be the substance and not a castle.

    ES

    Let’s apply this reasoning to the other example I brought.

    A plastic fruit is plastic and it is a fruit. Otherwise, fruits don’t exist, since a fruit built from any substances would be the substance and not a fruit.

    Everything alright with this?

    More bad logic:

    A real castle (even full size) can be made of sand.

    A real fruit cannot be made of plastic.

  105. 105
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    ES: A sand castle is sand, not a castle.

    Ph: Nope. A sand castle is sand and it is a castle. Otherwise, castles don’t exist, since a castle built from any substance would be the substance and not a castle.

    ES: Let’s apply this reasoning to the other example I brought.

    A plastic fruit is plastic and it is a fruit. Otherwise, fruits don’t exist, since a fruit built from any substances would be the substance and not a fruit.

    Everything alright with this?

    Not at all. When someone gives a counterexample that confounds your metaphysics, you can’t just ignore that counterexample in favor of one that you prefer. Perhaps your preferred example demonstrates something interesting (e.g. fruit is a food, and it is primarily the substance that makes food food), but it doesn’t really address the difficulties presented in the example you avoided.

    The reasoning will be properly in perspective as soon as you acknowledge that substance or essence is always more important than shape or size.

    More important how? More important when? When I want to shave, I’m pretty sure the shape of my razor is at least as important as its substance. If the substance were shaped into a sphere, it would certainly have an adverse effect on my ability to shave with it.

    I have it figured out beyond slightest doubt.

    This probably tells me more than anything you’ve said so far. You should have, at the very least, the slightest doubt. Otherwise, you’ve likely overestimated your ability to reason and underestimated your propensity to fall short. Adding the slightest humility to your approach would do wonders. I highly recommend it. It is a prerequisite to learning and growing.

    Whereas you, ever since you gave up the “something like” point which was supposed to tell something important about different designs, have absolutely no reason to disagree anymore.

    I never made a “something like” point. I used “something like” in passing as a figure of speech to indicate a potential example. It was never meant to tell something important. I have no idea why you glommed onto it and started claiming it was crucial to my argument. I honestly found your doing so a bit embarrassing for you. I haven’t given it up, I’ve merely moved past it. But since you seem to be having difficulty doing the same, I’m happy to remove the stumbling block.

    For clarity, I have no problem amending what I said to:

    P: I picked these two pictures deliberately to reflect the two strings Barry created. I think it quite likely that the “design” of the first heap is limited to dump heap of dirt here, just like the “design” in Barry’s first string was type random gibberish of approximate length n.

    So, without the crucial phrase upon which my entire argument rested, I am now forced to admit that a particle is a heap, right? Hardly.

    So now you disagree for no reason at all.

    Nope. I disagree because, in your rush to deny design, you’ve swallowed whole a metaphysics that leaves you incapable of describing the obvious and striking difference between a mound of dirt and a sand castle. I disagree because a particle is not a heap and green is not just another shade of red. I disagree because castles exist and the shape of a razor is as important as its substance.

  106. 106
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    When someone gives a counterexample that confounds your metaphysics, you can’t just ignore that counterexample in favor of one that you prefer. Perhaps your preferred example demonstrates something interesting (e.g. fruit is a food, and it is primarily the substance that makes food food), but it doesn’t really address the difficulties presented in the example you avoided.

    I didn’t avoid any example. Specifically, I didn’t avoid the comparison of sand particle and sand castle. In fact, I brought it up myself in the form of the paradox of the heap and my whole case rests on it. The argument based on it is complete and stands unchallenged by you.

    In my last post, I fully quoted your mention of the comparison and I added the example that you avoided! It’s you who is not getting around the plastic fruits example, whereas I am comfortable with both examples. They both prove my point. I proved my point sufficiently on the paradox of the heap alone and I didn’t even need to bring in the plastic fruits.

    Anyway, here you have explicitly conceded my point: “(it is primarily the substance that makes food food)” Of course substance or essence is that which makes any thing the thing. This is what substance and essence mean, as distinguished from properties and accidents. For example, all dogs have (or are meant to have) legs, and they should typically have four legs, but a three-legged dog, and even a legless dog, does not cease to be a dog. This means its legs are accidental properties, not its essence.

    The same way your sand castle just happens to have the shape of a castle, but the essence of it is sand, not the castle. I look for the essential in your pictures, whereas you look for the incidental. To convince me that the incidental is somehow important or means something special, for artistic purposes or whatever, you really need to elaborate an actual argument to support your case, but you have not even begun yet. This discussion will be over pretty soon and you will have missed your opportunity.

    Phinehas

    More important how? More important when? When I want to shave, I’m pretty sure the shape of my razor is at least as important as its substance. If the substance were shaped into a sphere, it would certainly have an adverse effect on my ability to shave with it.

    You just play dense on a basic logical distinction that is clear even to a child. See, now you made me play your child card back at you. Enjoy it.

    Phinehas

    Adding the slightest humility to your approach would do wonders. I highly recommend it. It is a prerequisite to learning and growing.

    Lead by example. Or else you are utterly worthless as a teacher.

    Phinehas

    I never made a “something like” point.

    High time to make it then. If not this point, then any other relevant point.

    Phinehas

    Nope. I disagree because, in your rush to deny design,…

    What??!! I have been affirming design all along. The entire dialogue was based on affirmation of design, and if anyone denied it anywhere, it was you… Wait a minute. I see the topic is Desperate Distractions and that’s what you are doing. You are just getting into the topic. Well, you drastically reduced your chances by this silly move. You have one last try to make a relevant point.

  107. 107
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner

    The same way your sand castle just happens to have the shape of a castle,

    Bad logic. The sand castle doesn’t “just happen to have” the shape of a castle. It has that shape because an intelligent agent first conceived it and then brought it into being.

    but the essence of it is sand, not the castle.

    Bad logic. The sand is the physical raw material for the castle–it is not the essence of the castle, which could be made of different raw materials other than sand and still be a castle.

    I look for the essential in your pictures, whereas you look for the incidental.

    Bad logic. A things essence is not detected by the senses, it is understood by the intellect. It is a waste of time to “look” for essentials in pictures.

    To convince me that the incidental is somehow important or means something special, for artistic purposes or whatever, you really need to elaborate an actual argument to support your case, but you have not even begun yet. This discussion will be over pretty soon and you will have missed your opportunity.

    Bad logic. ID does not detect essences; it detects features.

  108. 108
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    I didn’t avoid any example. Specifically, I didn’t avoid the comparison of sand particle and sand castle.

    You avoided this:

    Ph: Nope. A sand castle is sand and it is a castle. Otherwise, castles don’t exist, since a castle built from any substance would be the substance and not a castle.

    Instead of addressing the point, you said this:

    ES: Let’s apply this reasoning to the other example I brought.

    Let’s not. Let’s apply the reasoning to the example within which the reasoning was supplied, since that is the example within which I made my point.

    In my last post, I fully quoted your mention of the comparison…

    I did not realize that you considered quoting my point the same as addressing it. Clearly, you have not avoided quoting my point.

    It’s you who is not getting around the plastic fruits example, whereas I am comfortable with both examples.

    You’ve got this backwards. You’ve made a universal, sweeping statement that substance is always more important than shape. You’ve avoided saying exactly what you mean by “more important,” but let’s set that aside for the moment. Providing a single example (fruit) where substance is “more important” (from a specific perspective where we are only speaking to its usefulness as food) than shape does very little to make your “always more important” case. On the other hand, providing one example (a razor) where shape is just as important as substance annihilates your case and leaves a smoking crater behind.

    Said another way, I don’t need to address a million examples that suggest sometimes in order to falsify your statement, but you must address every single example that disproves always. Even so, I am ever so happy to concede that, given a certain perspective where “more important” means more useful as food, the substance of fruit is more important than its shape.

    Yet, a razor’s shape is clearly as important as its substance.

    Anyway, here you have explicitly conceded my point.

    If your point is merely that there are certain objects or items where, given a certain understanding of what it means to be more important, their substance is more important than their shape, then yes. Not only have I conceded your point, but I’ve never argued otherwise.

    You just play dense on a basic logical distinction that is clear even to a child. See, now you made me play your child card back at you. Enjoy it.

    What I see is you totally avoiding the point. Your answer is non-responsive. It is entirely possible that I am being dense, but I can assure you that I am not playing dense. If I am being dense, please demonstrate how.

    Lead by example. Or else you are utterly worthless as a teacher.

    I’ve not claimed to be a teacher, let alone a worthwhile one. Nor have I claimed that I’ve figured all of this out beyond the slightest doubt. You are welcome to follow my example in this or not.

    P: Nope. I disagree because, in your rush to deny design,…

    ES: What??!

    You are right. Please allow me to rephrase.

    P: Nope. I disagree because, in your rush to deny ID, you’ve swallowed whole a metaphysics that leaves you incapable of describing the obvious and striking difference between a mound of dirt and a sand castle. I disagree because a particle is not a heap and green is not just another shade of red. I disagree because castles exist and the shape of a razor is as important as its substance.

    Now, since you believe so wholeheartedly that substance is always primary, perhaps you would like to address the substance of what I’ve said.

  109. 109
    Mung says:

    What’s worse than a castle built on sand? A castle built of sand on sand. That castle is in a heap of trouble.

  110. 110
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    Let’s not. Let’s apply the reasoning to the example within which the reasoning was supplied, since that is the example within which I made my point.

    If you are not playing dense, then you understood that my thesis – namely, that substance is always primary – applies to both examples without any problem, whereas your reasoning doesn’t even properly apply to the sand castle example, despite your imagining that it does, and it definitely doesn’t apply to the plastic fruits example, which you have by now conceded. In fact, it’s substance that makes each and every thing the kind of thing it is. This is what substance means. If you keep talking about substance without bothering to consider the meaning, then I can safely consider our discussion closed.

    Phinehas

    You’ve got this backwards. You’ve made a universal, sweeping statement that substance is always more important than shape. You’ve avoided saying exactly what you mean by “more important,” but let’s set that aside for the moment. Providing a single example (fruit) where substance is “more important” (from a specific perspective where we are only speaking to its usefulness as food) than shape does very little to make your “always more important” case.

    Let’s remember for the moment that I brought up the paradox of the heap which to me is not even a paradox, but a logical demonstration of the relationship of substance and properties, of essence and accidents. This relationship is the difference in priority, the difference in importance. This is how substance is always more important. Surely you got this all along.

    Phinehas

    On the other hand, providing one example (a razor) where shape is just as important as substance annihilates your case and leaves a smoking crater behind.

    Razors are artefacts (in Aristotelian sense) and, in artefacts, properties are given function (not just shape) that make its properties as if new substance. In my approach and reasoning it changes nothing. If substance is what makes the thing the kind of thing it is, and in artefacts material properties are given a certain function, and the function is the main logical substance of the artefact, then in considering the artefact’s function one is considering its substance. It’s still substance that matters.

    You thought substance was always material? No. Substance is logical. To make this absolutely clear, I have been exchanging it with the word “essence”. The material is not the point. The point is in the logical distinction of substance and properties. In examples like sand, water, plastic, etc. both substance and properties are material, so it should be very clear that the distinction is logical, not material. And when you bring in artefacts like the razor, it poses no problem to me. I still go by the logical distinction of substance and properties, as I have been doing all along.

    Phinehas

    Said another way, I don’t need to address a million examples that suggest sometimes in order to falsify your statement, but you must address every single example that disproves always.

    Keep these examples coming, until it will be clear even to you what a folly it is to try to disprove this logical distinction which is basic Philosophy 101 and has never been disproven. Instead, it’s seen as absolutely central, when approaching any problem, to consider: What’s the substance? What’s the essence? What’s the real issue? What’s it truly about? This is various formulations of the same question. It’s as vital as the fundamental laws of thought.

    But maybe you will make a breakthrough and prove that everybody has been doing it wrong for millennia. Good luck with that. And congrats when you become famous.

    Phinehas

    I disagree because, in your rush to deny ID, you’ve swallowed whole a metaphysics that leaves you incapable of describing the obvious and striking difference between a mound of dirt and a sand castle.

    First, you haven’t even defined ID yet. And I know now that you never will. Second, I have described the difference between the mound of dirt and the sand castle as incidental difference of shape. The material is the same, the shape differs. You have repeatedly asserted that the difference is “obvious and striking”, but you have given no logical (or mathematical or scientific or whatever) proof that your assertion should mean anything beyond what I have described.

    Phinehas

    Now, since you believe so wholeheartedly that substance is always primary, perhaps you would like to address the substance of what I’ve said.

    See, it’s clear even to you that “substance” is logical or conceptual rather than material. After carefully considering everything, I take the substance of what you’ve said to be this:

    I’ve not claimed to be a teacher, let alone a worthwhile one. Nor have I claimed that I’ve figured all of this out beyond the slightest doubt. You are welcome to follow my example in this or not.

    Thanks for the warm invitation to give up logical certainty. The problem with it that you are making an emotional appeal, not logical or rational, so I will stay where I am, thank you very much. If you are unable to add any more rational substance to the discussion, then I wish you a lovely weekend.

  111. 111
    Mung says:

    E.Seigner:

    Every keyword in my post is technically accurate metaphysics, but you quibble over them on rhetorical, empirical, and other irrelevant grounds.

    But it’s difficult to know when you are employing “technically accurate metaphysics” in your use of terms and when you are not.

    For example, my recent posts on your use of form and substance.

    That said, how did the Scholastics resolve the “paradox of the heap”?

  112. 112
    Mung says:

    E.Seigner:

    it’s substance that makes each and every thing the kind of thing it is

    That which makes each and every thing the kind of thing it is is essence.

  113. 113
    Mung says:

    E.Seigner:

    You have repeatedly asserted that the difference is “obvious and striking”, but you have given no logical (or mathematical or scientific or whatever) proof that your assertion should mean anything beyond what I have described.

    A pile of sand will always consist of sand. A castle will not always be made of sand. There is something that is shared in common by all piles of sand (and it isn’t their shape), and there is something that is shared in common by all castles (and it isn’t sand).

    Here’s some water.

    And here’s castles made of water.

  114. 114
    StephenB says:

    A partial list of E.Seigner’s logical errors:

    [a] “Everything is designed”
    [b] “Design is not ‘in’ the object”

    Explanation: This is a contradiction. To say that something is designed is to say that design is, indeed, in the object.

    “So the design is always there, but never inherent.”.

    Explanation: If the design is always there, then it is, by definition, inherent. Where else could “there” be?

    “I say “inherent”, and this is not the same as “in the thing”.

    Explanation: Inherent means “in the thing.” (ES is attempting to have it both ways, saying that design is “inherent” in the object insofar as the creator put it there, but it isn’t “in” the object insofar as the observer can detect it). This is a clear contradiction. Design is either in the thing or it isn’t.

    “It takes a separate argument for you to establish that the thing is the same as its design.”

    Explanation: To say that design is in the thing is not to say that it is the thing. (category confusion)

    “But if you did, and if design was inherent to things and inseparable from them, then wouldn’t this make it logically impossible for you to show me a thing without design?”

    Explanation: To say that design is inherent in a thing is not to say that everything is designed.

    “This means that the thing can be mentally separated from its design, one can imagine the thing with some other design,”

    Explanation: No, this is impossible. I cannot imagine my coffee cup having another design. If it has another design, then it is no longer a coffee cup or else is a different kind of coffee cup. I can, however, imagine the matter in my coffee cup being rearranged into another kind of object.

    “My logic is that the design is analytically separable from the thing.

    Explanation: Only the idea of the design or the purpose for the design can be analytically separate from the designed object–not the design itself.

    “Any design, form, pattern, etc. can be applied to any thing.”

    Explanation: No, it can’t. The design of my coffee cup cannot be applied to the design of someone’s car. This is ES’s error of “design projection.”

    “Funny enough, the way ‘design’ is often talked about in ID theory, it comes very close to purpose rather than mere shape. “Design” in ID theory is often equivalent to a plan, to a project.”

    Explanation: the purpose is the rationale for the design. It is not the design itself.

    “A plastic fruit is plastic and it is a fruit”.

    Explanation: No. A real fruit cannot be made of plastic.

    “…but the essence of it (castle) is sand, not the castle.”

    Explanation: The sand is the physical raw material for the castle–it is not the essence of the castle, which could be made of different raw materials other than sand and still be a castle.

    “I look for the essential in your pictures, whereas you look for the incidental.”

    Explanation: A things essence is not detected by the senses, it is understood by the intellect. It is a waste of time to “look” for essentials in pictures.

    These are not minor mistakes that can be brushed aside since they reflect total confusion over the very same metaphysical model that is being presupposed.

  115. 115
    StephenB says:

    Mung: “A pile of sand will always consist of sand. A castle will not always be made of sand.”

    Yes, that is correct. Sand cannot be the essence of a sand castle.

  116. 116
    E.Seigner says:

    Mung

    But it’s difficult to know when you are employing “technically accurate metaphysics” in your use of terms and when you are not.

    For example, my recent posts on your use of form and substance.

    It’s easy: I always use technically accurate metaphysical terms.

    Where did I allegedly use “form”? And where are your recent posts?

    Mung

    That said, how did the Scholastics resolve the “paradox of the heap”?

    They treated it as a case study of distinct metaphysical categories. Substance versus properties. Essence versus accidents.

    Mung

    ES: …it’s substance that makes each and every thing the kind of thing it is

    Mung: That which makes each and every thing the kind of thing it is is essence.

    Substance and essence are near-synonyms in metaphysics. There’s a subtle distinction between them on Aristotelianism, but it’s negligible in low-level discussion such as here. There’s no distinction between them on Neoplatonism.

    Mung

    A pile of sand will always consist of sand. A castle will not always be made of sand. There is something that is shared in common by all piles of sand (and it isn’t their shape), and there is something that is shared in common by all castles (and it isn’t sand).

    What is that which is common to castles? If you call it “design” and you deny it in sand particles and water drops, then show how you define it so you can coherently deny design in sand particles and water drops. The classical argument from design as I quoted above affirms design throughout nature and universe.

    You’d do well to read what Feser writes about artefacts. Nature versus art looks like precisely the kind of distinction you want to make. Feser’s conclusion is unfavorable to ID: “…since natural objects are (for the A-T philosopher) simply not artifacts in the relevant sense, it is a waste of time to argue for a divine designer on the basis of the assumption that they are…” Try take his conceptual framework (so that we both are roughly on the same page) and argue it to a different conclusion.

  117. 117
    Mung says:

    E.Seigner:

    You’d do well to read what Feser writes about artefacts. Nature versus art looks like precisely the kind of distinction you want to make.

    Interesting you should say this.

    Phinehas asked you more than once how would you describe the difference.

    So, having lost the use of the word “design” to describe the obvious and striking difference, how do you describe it?

    In all honesty I was going to offer my own response to that question today, as follows:

    The difference can be described as the sand castle is an artefact.

    But you (E.Seigner) never chose to go that route. Why not? Let me guess. Because artefact = designed.

  118. 118
    Mung says:

    E.Seigner;

    Where did I allegedly use “form”? And where are your recent posts?

    I am not your enemy. I have always taken you seriously. I think you have a perspective that is interesting and worthy of consideration.

    But to answer your questions, as early as post 44 you used “form.”

    E.Seigner:

    Even before shaping, the thing already has some shape, form, pattern, or design, given by outside circumstances, the surroundings or environment.

    As for your second question, you responded to my recent posts here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-519659

  119. 119
    Mung says:

    No idea what happened to that link on form.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-519228

  120. 120
    Mung says:

    E.Seigner:

    Where did I allegedly use “form”?

    ES @ 44:

    My logic is that the design is analytically separable from the thing. Any design, form, pattern, etc. can be applied to any thing.

    ES @ 64:

    ES: Design and shape are synonyms. They are also interchangeable with pattern and structure for most purposes.

    Mung: Another synonym would be form. Correct?
    ES: Correct.

    : ES @ 102

    Substances and appearances are different metaphysical categories with different priority. To not acknowledge this is a form of blindness.

  121. 121
    E.Seigner says:

    Mung

    When you asked about my use of form and substance, I assumed – correctly, it seems – that you mean Aristotelian form, because that’s the only kind of “form” that has metaphysical import. I am acutely aware that there’s form of ordinary English that means shape and Aristotelian form(al cause) that is a concept for the metaphysically informed. In all quotes that you bring up, I mean form as shape (or, in the last quote “a form of blindness” it’s “a kind of blindness”). It’s clear from immediate context in every single case. But when talking about Aristotelian form instead, I always specify it’s Aristotelian this time. I’d do same with Platonic forms. If by those quotes you mention you mean to imply that it’s unclear to you if I am accurate in metaphysical terminology, then there’s no other way to put it that you are trying your very best to misunderstand and misrepresent me. When trying as hard as you do, you just might succeed.

    Mung

    In all honesty I was going to offer my own response to that question today, as follows:

    The difference can be described as the sand castle is an artefact.

    But you (E.Seigner) never chose to go that route. Why not? Let me guess. Because artefact = designed.

    Well, when I finally did bring up artefact in my previous post, I had already anticipated your equation and rejected it: “What is that which is common to castles? If you call it “design”…” And Feser rejects it too.

    Now, to be absolutely clear, artefacts are designed, but “design” in my (and Feser’s, Aquinas’, Aristotle’s, etc.) sense applies to each and every empirical thing, so artefacts cannot be distinguished from other things by design at all. There are other considerations which make the difference.

    Another reason I did not brought up artefact earlier is that it’s an Aristotelian concept. I’m not Aristotelian and artefact is one of those concepts that doesn’t make much sense to me and makes me favor other systems instead of Aristotelianism. But I know what it is and I am able to discuss it, if anyone has the guts or wits for it.

  122. 122
    E.Seigner says:

    @Mung

    For your convenience, I searched up a better blog post by Feser. Better in the sense that it’s (mostly) unpolemical against ID, and is entirely concentrated on explaining what artefact is in Aristotelian sense http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.....g-but.html

  123. 123
    Box says:

    ES #122: Now, to be absolutely clear, artefacts are designed, but “design” in my (and Feser’s, Aquinas’, Aristotle’s, etc.) sense applies to each and every empirical thing, so artefacts cannot be distinguished from other things by design at all.

    Are you saying that it follows – from the fact that Lego bricks are designed – that a castle made of Lego bricks cannot be distinguished by design from a random heap of Lego bricks?

  124. 124
    E.Seigner says:

    Box

    Are you saying that it follows – from the fact that Lego bricks are designed – that a castle made of Lego bricks cannot be distinguished by design from a random heap of Lego bricks?

    I’m saying whichever way you put numbers on design, it does not become “intelligent design” at some point, as distinguished from “unintelligent” or whatever other design. Whether you pour Lego bricks on the floor randomly or you construct an “obvious and striking” castle of them, the “intelligent designer” behind the activities is you in both cases. No numbers on the Lego can change that.

    And what are you saying?

  125. 125
    Barry Arrington says:

    Box, let it go. When someone says something as staggeringly stupid as the comment in 124 there is literally no sense trying to argue with them. They have proved they are beyond the reach of rationale argument.

  126. 126
    Joe says:

    E Seigner:

    I’m saying whichever way you put numbers on design, it does not become “intelligent design” at some point, as distinguished from “unintelligent” or whatever other design.

    That is true. However those numbers are about probabilities. And without direct observation or designer input, that is what we have to go with.

  127. 127
    tintinnid says:

    “Box, let it go. When someone says something as staggeringly stupid as the comment in 124 there is literally no sense trying to argue with them. They have proved they are beyond the reach of rationale argument.”

    Who do we complain when the moderator uses a Darwinian Debating Device? Oh, I forgot, staggeringly stupid is not an ad hominems attack, it is just a perceptive observation.

  128. 128
    StephenB says:

    Who do we complain when the moderator uses a Darwinian Debating Device? Oh, I forgot, staggeringly stupid is not an ad hominems attack, it is just a perceptive observation.

    You don’t understand. An adhominem attack is an irrelevant attack on a person. It is not a relevant attack on a statement.

  129. 129
    Upright BiPed says:

    I’m saying whichever way you put numbers on design, it does not become “intelligent design” at some point, as distinguished from “unintelligent” or whatever other design.

    As I have already told you once before (which you immediately ignored because it is not suited to your pre-packaged talking points), when a representation of information has a dimensional orientation (i.e. that which makes the representation individually recognizable within its system is not determined by the thermodynamic properties of the medium — like the codons in DNA) then the origin of that representation is (for all people who are not ideologically dumbfounded by universal observation) very legitimately inferred to be from an intelligent source – given the intractable fact that dimensional representations are only found elsewhere in the cosmos in the translation of recorded language and mathematics. We know its there, we know why its there, we know the additional constraints it puts on the origin and operation of the system … and its been there since for organization of the very first living cell on earth.

    Now you may continue to do the silly dance you are doing (I have no expectations that you intend to do anything else, least of which is learn something about the subject matter), but your little dance will not make the observations go away. You can have your own opinions, but you don’t get your own facts.

  130. 130
    Upright BiPed says:

    #129 was addressed to ES

  131. 131
    tintinnid says:

    StephenB, thank you for correcting me. Calling someone’s statement staggeringly stupid is not technically a personal attack, although the tone is certainly beyond rude. However, what about the second part of the comment where Barry claims that the commenter is beyond the capability of rational thought? I guess that you could argue that this statement is conditional on the previous statement being true, but it is definitely a stretch to argue that this is not an attack on the person. Especially given that Barry’s comment made no attempt to counter ES’ comment with anything other than calling it staggeringly stupid.

    If Barry were honest, he would acknowledge this and move on. I don’t think that he will but I am always hopeful. After all, we are all guilty of this at times.

  132. 132
    Daniel King says:

    You don’t understand. An adhominem attack is an irrelevant attack on a person. It is not a relevant attack on a statement.

    Right, “staggeringly stupid” is an insult to the person who made the statement, not an ad hominem.

    And it has the merit of being irrefutable by the recipient.

  133. 133
    Joe says:

    Now observations are insults? Strange.

  134. 134
    E.Seigner says:

    Upright BiPed

    We know its there, we know why its there, we know the additional constraints it puts on the origin and operation of the system … and its been there since for organization of the very first living cell on earth.

    Of course, when you are a physicalist for whom everything is fundamentally physics. Then indeed the emergence of life poses an overwhelming puzzle whose explanation must lie outside the natural order. But, different from you, I am not a physicalist.

    Btw, this Darwinian Debating Devices series is hilariously self-defeating. Nearly every OP here glaringly employs these very Darwinian Debating Devices. Luckily for you nobody of some importance is following this site, so you should be safe from international humiliation.

  135. 135
    StephenB says:

    tintinnid @131,

    If someone consistently refuses to respond or responds inappropriately to rational arguments, it seems reasonable to conclude that this person is incapable of rational thought.

  136. 136
    Mapou says:

    E.Seigner:

    Luckily for you nobody of some importance is following this site, so you should be safe from international humiliation.

    Who are those important people? Name them so I can cut them down to size. Are they important because their excrement don’t stink? Or are they important because they won’t eventually turn into dust like everybody else? Inquiring minds and all that.

  137. 137
    Upright BiPed says:

    #134

    Ahhhh, ES. You should have spent more time with it.

    Surely a rampant obfuscationist like yourself could have done better than “You’re just pointing out physical evidence and universal observations”.

    But hey, thanks for letting me know that I’m a physicalist, I was plumb unaware of that until just now. If a physicalist is someone who doesn’t allow their ideology to ignore the observable fact that the earth travels around the sun, then I’m all in. 😉

  138. 138
    StephenB says:

    Daniel King

    Right, “staggeringly stupid” is an insult to the person who made the statement, not an ad hominem.

    That is correct. In order for an argument to be adhominem, it must be irrelevant, inappropriate, and about who or what the person is.

    If, for example, someone lies under oath, it is not an adhominem argument to call him a liar. Or, if someone molests a child, it is not an adhominem argument to call him a pedophile.

    On the other hand, when a Darwinist falsely accuses an ID proponent of lying or secretly smuggling religion into science, he is referring directly to the person’s character and making demonstrably false statements.

    With respect to the insult, I will repeat the question I asked of you @31:

    At what point (if ever) do disrespectful expressions of intellectual dishonesty cease to merit a respectful response?

  139. 139
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner to Upright Biped:

    Of course, when you are a physicalist for whom everything is fundamentally physics. Then indeed the emergence of life poses an overwhelming puzzle whose explanation must lie outside the natural order. But, different from you, I am not a physicalist.

    This is a good example of an adhominem argument. It is false, inappropriate, and directed to the person.

    It is obviously false because UB has consistently demonstrated, among other things, why information is, and must be, non-material. Thus, he consistently argues against Darwinist physicalism.

    It is inappropriate because it has nothing to do with the point that UB made. The process alluded to was not characterized in physicalist terms nor did it imply physicalism in any way.

    It is personal because it is aimed straight at the person. The language used was explicit; it is about who and what UB is:… “Of course, when you are a physicalist … But, different from you, I am not a physicalist.”

  140. 140
    E.Seigner says:

    Upright BiPed

    But hey, thanks for letting me know that I’m a physicalist, I was plumb unaware of that until just now.

    You welcome.

    Upright BiPed

    If a physicalist is someone who doesn’t allow their ideology to ignore the observable fact that the earth travels around the sun, then I’m all in.

    Way to go! The characteristic physicalist denies the distinction of accidents and essence, of appearance and reality. The physicalist assigns arbitrary priorities among appearances and pretends that this equals scientific objectivity and freedom from ideologies. In truth, this attitude subconsciously cements unexamined presuppositions. We all inescapably have metaphysical presuppositions, therefore better to be aware of them.

    For the essentialist, what travels around what is just an appearance. The real question is why this appears to travel around that. Without an answer to the why-question, you don’t really have an answer. If you deny the why-question, you don’t even have the right question.

    PS. If someone is interested, then of course I noticed the ad hominem by Barry. And the way StephenB justifies it and compounds on it of his own accord. But I also notice that this is a normalcy for them. Let them make their imaginary points as I have an actual discussion.

  141. 141
    Daniel King says:

    At what point (if ever) do disrespectful expressions of intellectual dishonesty cease to merit a respectful response?

    Do you mean this particular example @25:

    So basically you are a loudmouth bullshitter who can’t defend your position; who is prone to whining that ID people won’t play pretty with you.

    Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to address that question to the author of that sentence?

  142. 142
    tintinnid says:

    StephenB: “If someone consistently refuses to respond or responds inappropriately to rational arguments, it seems reasonable to conclude that this person is incapable of rational thought.”

    Simply because a person doesn’t accept your argument doesn’t make them incapable of rational thought. The only thing that we can say for sure is that one side is wrong.

  143. 143
    StephenB says:

    Daniel King

    Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to address that question to the author of that sentence?

    No, it wouldn’t. My question was a response to your comment, not his. If you have a separate question about UB’s comment, then go ahead ask it, but don’t merge it into my question to you.

    I will repeat my question to you for the third time: At what point (if ever) do disrespectful expressions of intellectual dishonesty cease to merit a respectful response?

  144. 144
    StephenB says:

    tintinnid: Simply because a person doesn’t accept your argument doesn’t make them incapable of rational thought. The only thing that we can say for sure is that one side is wrong.”

    To reject a rational argument is to be irrational. If my arguments are rational, then they ought to be refuted or accepted. To reject them (if they are rational) without addressing them is irrational.

  145. 145
    Box says:

    E.Seigner, in post #122, links to an article by Edward Feser, who writes:

    Take a few bits of metal, work them into various shapes, and attach them to a piece of wood. Voila! A mousetrap. Or so we call it. But objectively, apart from human interests, the object is “nothing but” a collection of wood and metal parts. Its “mousetrappish” character is observer-relative; it is in the minds of the designer and users of the object, and not strictly in the object itself. “Reductionism” with respect to such human artifacts is just common sense. We know that cars, computers, and cakes are objectively “nothing but” the parts that make them up – that their “carlike,” “computerlike,” or “cakelike” qualities are not really there inherently in the parts, but are observer-relative – precisely because we took the parts and rearranged them to perform a function we want them to perform but which they have no tendency to perform on their own.

    A few comments:

    The question is if Feser indeed holds a totally reductionist position. Does he tone down when he writes “it is in the minds of the designer and users of the object and not strictly in the object itself”?

    I don’t see any logic in the following part of his reasoning: computerlike qualities are observer-relative, because (?) the parts of a computer have have no tendency to perform that function on their own. So because(?) metal has no inherent tendency to perform computerlike qualities, those qualities are observer-relative; IOW those computerlike qualities are only in the minds of the designer and users of the object? It simply does not follow.
    A question for Feser: how about shape and patterns, are they part of a mousetrap, car, computer et cetera? If so, do you think it is possible that shape and pattern are correlated to mousetrappish, carlike and computerlike qualities?

  146. 146
    Daniel King says:

    My question was a response to your comment, not his.

    ….

    I will repeat my question to you for the third time: At what point (if ever) do disrespectful expressions of intellectual dishonesty cease to merit a respectful response?

    You’ll have to make your question more clear to me (I beg your patience), before I can answer. I don’t understand your point. Was there something objectionable about what I said?

  147. 147
    Daniel King says:

    StephenB,

    Maybe you could give me your answer to the question, so I could tell you if I agree or not, and explain my answer as best I can.

  148. 148
    Turbokid says:

    StephenB, the real question is how do you know someone is being intellectually dishonest? That requires you to know what they really do or do not think about something. That requires you to see inside their mind.

  149. 149
    tintinnid says:

    StephenB: “To reject a rational argument is to be irrational. If my arguments are rational, then they ought to be refuted or accepted”

    But who is the judge and arbiter on the rationality of your argument? You? People agree to disagree all of the time. And they can do it civilly. Mature adults don’t resort to name calling. They don’t say that the other person’s ideas are staggeringly stupid and accuse them of being incapable of rational thought. These types of responses are supposed to end as we mature. Why is this concept so difficult for some to grasp?

  150. 150
    StephenB says:

    SB: At what point (if ever) do disrespectful expressions of intellectual dishonesty cease to merit a respectful response?

    Daniel King:

    Maybe you could give me your answer to the question, so I could tell you if I agree or not, and explain my answer as best I can.

    OK. That’s fair. Here is an example. E. Seigner has said that Upright Biped is a physicalist. I assume that you have been writing here long enough to know that this is not the case. Indeed, it would be impossible for a believer in non-material information to be a physicalist. I corrected ES on this matter and my corrective was ignored. Indeed, ES continued (and continues) to make the same false assertion. At what point (after how many times) would such disrespectful behavior finally merit a disrespectful response. After the second time?, the third time?, the tenth time? Never?

  151. 151
    tintinnid says:

    StephenB @150, does this justify rudeness, or would ignoring him be more appropriate? Would not responding to his comments not be the mature approach? How long do you think a rude person would keep commenting if nobody responded to his comments? Why not be the bigger man?

  152. 152
    StephenB says:

    tintinned

    StephenB @150, does this justify rudeness, or would ignoring him be more appropriate? Would not responding to his comments not be the mature approach? How long do you think a rude person would keep commenting if nobody responded to his comments? Why not be the bigger man?

    Some of our more polite commenters do, indeed, retire from a thread if their anti-ID adversaries continue to be unreasonable. In terms of their one on one relationship, that is, perhaps the best policy. However, members of our reading audience have no way of knowing why these amiable commentators left the scene. In many cases, onlookers may conclude that the unreasonable person had the better argument and their non-combative debate partner had no answer. A few people must stay around to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    Those who remain must deal with these “Darwinist debate tactics.” If we react to these maneuvers in a respectful way, it makes them appear respectable. Sooner or later, someone has to call things by their right name. There are, after all, rules of reason that define the difference between a rational argument and an irrational argument. Many of our adversaries, either implicitly or explicitly, deny reason rules, which means that they have already made a deliberate and public choice to join the community of irrational people. To call such people irrational is simply to remind them and everyone else of that choice.

  153. 153
    E.Seigner says:

    Box

    I don’t see any logic in the following part of his reasoning: computerlike qualities are observer-relative, because (?) the parts of a computer have have no tendency to perform that function on their own. So because(?) metal has no inherent tendency to perform computerlike qualities, those qualities are observer-relative; IOW those computerlike qualities are only in the minds of the designer and users of the object? It simply does not follow.

    It follows not just from the fact that metal does not behave computer-like in nature, but also from the Aristotelian metaphysical premises, like in the argument from design I quoted in #65. When you ignore the premises, everything will be over your head.

    Try reading the other post I also linked to. It’s less polemical and more focused.

    Box

    A question for Feser: how about shape and patterns, are they part of a mousetrap, car, computer et cetera? If so, do you think it is possible that shape and pattern are correlated to mousetrappish, carlike and computerlike qualities?

    What are mousetrappish, carlike and computerlike qualities? The point is that they are man-concocted purposes manufactured into or culturally imputed on the configurations of matter. Such qualities are not inherent to the substantial form (=Aristotelian form) of objects in nature. This is exactly how Aristotelians distinguish a natural object from artefact: The purposes of natural objects are inherent to their substantial form, but the so-called substantial form (i.e. purposes of the thing, that which makes the thing the kind of thing it is) of artefacts is observer-relative, intersubjective, and culturally determined rather than naturally determined as in natural objects.

    And the further point is that, since nature is God-made and artefacts are man-made, it won’t do to approach nature like one approaches artefacts, and try to detect or infer a designer from natural objects the way one infers it from artefacts. Those two are incompatible categories due to crucial difference in their substantial forms. Artefacts don’t even have substantial form in the relevant sense, whereas every natural object has it. Feser concludes in the other post: “The fundamental error – made by Darwinian naturalists and ID theorists alike – is to think of the world as a “watch” in the first place.” When God creates, the outcome is nature, not artefact.

    Since every natural object without exception has substantial form, the divine designer cannot be read out of “complexity” in nature, certainly not out of some computable complexity. It can, if one is so inclined – and must, if metaphysics points that way – be read out of *all* nature. Complexity is utterly irrelevant, therefore ID is doing it fundamentally wrong when it claims complexity to have some value in determining the “intelligent designer”.

    Take Lego bricks for example – your own example. They are manufactured, man-made, and in this sense “intelligently designed”. Whether they are in a random pile or carefully put together to form what we’d call a castle, it doesn’t change the fact that they are manufactured, man-made, and in this sense “intelligently designed”. Whatever configuration the bunch of bricks has, it also doesn’t change the fact that the cause of the configuration is more likely man than an animal, because animals are completely uninterested in plastic.

    Conclusion: The configuration of Lego bricks plays exactly zero role in detecting the “intelligent designer”. The entire detection rests on the simple fact that they are Lego bricks, a manufactured artefact. Similarly, when a religiously or spiritually inclined person sees nature, he sees God’s creation – throughout nature everywhere, not only in “complex” objects or some “specified” configurations.

  154. 154
    kairosfocus says:

    Box:

    I don’t see any logic in the following part of his [Feser’s] reasoning: computerlike qualities are observer-relative, because (?) the parts of a computer have have no tendency to perform that function on their own. So because(?) metal has no inherent tendency to perform computerlike qualities, those qualities are observer-relative; IOW those computerlike qualities are only in the minds of the designer and users of the object? It simply does not follow.

    I think your instincts are right.

    Take atoms, molecules and cells, thence biological life.

    Atoms and probably molecules have no inherent tendency to perform cell-based lifelike qualities or functions.

    In fact the ubiquity of ATP as an energy currency in the cell shows that the unconstrained course of relevant chemistry and thermodynamics is away from the FSCO/I we find in life. Thence, we see the complex factory like nanomachines, information systems, codes, algorithms etc in the living cell and onwards biological organisms.

    The essence, if we dare call it that, of life forms, lies in complex information, control and execution systems in the cell.

    The physical embedding of such is observable as a physical entity but it is clear enough that the information itself is not merely a matter of configuration. It also points strongly to the only empirically warranted, needle in haystack analysis plausible source for FSCO/I.

    Design as key causal factor.

    But of course, this pattern of reasoning Feser does not like; not just the a priori evolutionary materialists and their closely associated fellow travellers.

    The exchanges over the design inference are now much more complex.

    KF

  155. 155
    Upright BiPed says:

    Geez. Desperate to ignore physical evidence that doesn’t fit his talking points, ES doubles down on his hapless “physicalist” distraction.

    The physicalist assigns arbitrary priorities among appearances and pretends that this equals scientific objectivity and freedom from ideologies. In truth, this attitude subconsciously cements unexamined presuppositions.

    You’re probably right ES. When researchers first noted that the properties that made one codon identifiable from another were independent of the lowest total potential energy state of the medium – their metaphysics certainly came into question. Come to think of it, those guys that figured out that water boils at different temperatures depending on its altitude are probably trying to get something over on us as well.

  156. 156
    StephenB says:

    Feser:

    Take a few bits of metal, work them into various shapes, and attach them to a piece of wood. Voila! A mousetrap.

    Attach? Voila? There are millions of ways to attach pieces of metal to wood. Only one of those combinations will trap a mouse. The trick is to arrange those pieces so that they will function as a mousetrap.

    Or so we call it. But objectively, apart from human interests, the object is “nothing but” a collection of wood and metal parts.

    Tell that to the mouse. If it could talk it would tell you that it is more than a collection of parts. Throw parts around aimlessly for a million years and there will be no trap without the designer. The purposeful arrangement makes it more than a mere collection of parts.

    Its “mousetrappish” character is observer-relative; it is in the minds of the designer and users of the object, and not strictly in the object itself.

    Not strictly in the object? What does strictly mean? Are you saying that it is there, in part, but that it is also in the mind of the designer and the user? That is not the same as saying that it is not in the object at all, is it?

    To make your case that it is not detectable, you have to say that it isn’t in the object at all, but to make your case that the designer designed it, you have to say that it really is there, sort of. So, you are saying that the design is in the object, except that it isn’t. Very nice. You must be hanging out with E. Seigner. Oh wait, she has been hanging out with you. That’s what it is.

    “Reductionism” with respect to such human artifacts is just common sense. We know that cars, computers, and cakes are objectively “nothing but” the parts that make them up – that their “carlike,”

    No, we don’t know that at all. You are proposing “bundle theory” (a thing is nothing but a bundle of parts), which is not from Aristotle, but from …. drum roll…the atheist David Hume. Aristotle was a substance theorist, not a bundle theorist, which means that he thought that any object is more than a mere collection of parts, that it contained a universal. Wikipedia: “A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears.” Aristotle did not make exceptions for Ed Feser.

    Indeed, Feser follows the anti-reductionist Aristotle faithfully until the subject of intelligent design comes up, at which time, he shifts to the reductionist David Hume. He hates ID with so much irrational passion that he temporarily abandons his hero (and mine) just long enough to make an anti-intellectual case against ID. Unbelievable!

    Aristotel “computerlike,” or “cakelike” qualities are not really there inherently in the parts, but are observer-relative – precisely because we took the parts and rearranged them to perform a function we want them to perform but which they have no tendency to perform on their own.

    Oh, so now we have moved from “not strictly” in the object to not there are all. Here is a clue professor Feser. A design is an arrangement of parts. It isn’t the conception of an arrangement. That’s called a concept and that is what is in the head of the designer and the user.

    So now you are saying that the parts are arranged in the heads of the designer and the user, but are not arranged in the object. It must be hell to have all those arranged parts bulging out of the designer’s and user’s head.

    “O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason.”

  157. 157
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    A design is an arrangement of parts.

    Arrangement of parts devoid of function (or devoid of any observer-relative quality)?

    StephenB

    The trick is to arrange those pieces so that they will function as a mousetrap.

    Ah, so the function also must be there. Then it’s not just the arrangement of parts. The trick is to understand that the function is observer-relative. It takes someone with the intent to catch the mouse and it presumably also takes an actual mouse to be caught, then the function will be there. So no, it’s not just an arrangement of parts.

    As gpuccio says here, the methods of ID don’t get around to telling anything about the function. The relevant quote:

    Now, the important point that I want to suggest is that neither Shannon’s theory of communicating the message nor ID theory of generating the message are really “qualitative”. Both are “quantitative” theories. In a sense, neither deals with the problem of “what is meaning” and “what is function”.

    Which, compared to the Aristotelian approach, is reductive – on quantitative theory of information, the mousetrap would be considered strictly nothing but the parts as they happen to be arranged.

    You equivocate on the concept of “design”, saying at one time it’s arrangement of parts, i.e. mere pattern or shape, but at other time also includes function, i.e. it’s a plan or project. The word “design” colloquially allows this equivocation, but there’s a logical difference – the difference between “shape” and “project” – that should be maintained. My suspicion is that Dembski lives off a few equivocations like this one.

  158. 158
    Joe says:

    StephenB- You didn’t quite say enough:

    “Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components.” Dr Behe

  159. 159
    Box says:

    ES #153: It follows (…) from the fact that metal does not behave computer-like in nature (…)

    I fail to see the logic …

    1. Metal does not behave computer-like in nature.
    2. A certain arrangement of metal exhibits computer-like qualities.

    Conclusion: Those computer-like qualities must be only in our minds and not in the computer.

    Can you explain why this makes sense?

    ES #153: Try reading the other post I also linked to. It’s less polemical and more focused.

    You must be confused. I quoted multiple times from the article and did read it.

    Two questions for E.Seigner:

    – Is there a difference between a Lego castle and a random pile of Legos? If so, can you say why?

    – Do you hold that an arrangement of parts is something that is inherently to a Lego castle? Or is it only in our minds?

  160. 160
    Joe says:

    E Seigner:

    As gpuccio says here, the methods of ID don’t get around to telling anything about the function.

    The way science works is we observe the function and then try to figure out the answers to the 3 basic questions science asks.

    You have been told this several times and yet choose willful ignorance.

  161. 161
    E.Seigner says:

    Box

    I fail to see the logic …

    1. Metal does not behave computer-like in nature.
    2. A certain arrangement of metal exhibits computer-like qualities.

    Conclusion: Those computer-like qualities must be only in our minds and not in the computer.

    These two are not the only premises. It takes a whole digital-virtual culture to make sense what a computer even is. It’s undeniably observer-relative and intersubjective, not merely objective.

    Box

    ES #153: Try reading the other post I also linked to. It’s less polemical and more focused.

    Box: You must be confused. I quoted multiple times from the article and did read it.

    Right, my mistake. And good of you to follow the sources linked to.

    Box

    – Is there a difference between a Lego castle and a random pile of Legos? If so, can you say why?

    This one has been adequately handled in my exchange with Phinehas. His example was a pile of sand and sand castle. You just demonstrated an ability to read what’s been linked to, so you will surely find the discussion that is on this very page. In an appropriately quotable way I put it perhaps in #110: “I have described the difference between the mound of dirt and the sand castle as incidental difference of shape. The material is the same, the shape differs. You have repeatedly asserted that the difference is “obvious and striking”, but you have given no logical (or mathematical or scientific or whatever) proof that your assertion should mean anything beyond what I have described.”

    Box

    – Do you hold that an arrangement of parts is something that is inherently to a Lego castle? Or is it only in our minds?

    The arrangement of parts in some sense is an airy nothing, because there’s air between the parts. In another sense it’s nothing but the parts. The mind connects the dots, so to say.

    Anyway, the point is that your formulation “arrangements of parts” – regardless if it’s inherent to the castle or to the mind – does not add up to the definition of “design” as used in the classical argument from design. Design as “arrangement of parts” is synonymous to shape or pattern, but in the classical argument as used in premise #2, quoted in #65, it’s synonymous with plan or project, implying purpose rather than shape or pattern. Pattern (“order or arrangement”) is in premise #1, so this meaning is separated from “design”.

  162. 162
    Box says:

    E.Seigner on piles of sand and sand castles:

    ES #161: The material is the same, the shape differs.

    How do you explain the difference in shape?

    Box #159: Do you hold that an arrangement of parts is something that is inherently to a Lego castle? Or is it only in our minds?

    ES #161: The arrangement of parts in some sense is an airy nothing, because there’s air between the parts. In another sense it’s nothing but the parts. The mind connects the dots, so to say.

    So there is no sense in which the arrangement of parts is ‘out there’? In every sense only parts exists in the outer world and their arrangement is only in our minds?

  163. 163
    Box says:

    StephenB, your post #156 is a masterpiece! Thank you.

  164. 164
    E.Seigner says:

    Box

    ES #161: The material is the same, the shape differs.

    Box: How do you explain the difference in shape?

    You mean Why the shape differs? This question requires further context so as to attribute causes and reasons. To provide the context, you should answer this question first yourself.

    Box

    So there is no sense in which the arrangement of parts is ‘out there’? In every sense only parts exists in the outer world and their arrangement is only in our minds?

    There is a sense in which the arrangement of parts is out there, but the very concept of “arrangement of parts” requires an observer. Therefore arrangement of parts is observer-relative, subject to interpretation. In this image some would say there’s a square whereas others would say there’s no square and both are right from their own point of view. The image displays none other than “arrangement of parts”.

  165. 165
    Box says:

    E.Seigner on the difference of shape of piles of sand and sand castles:

    ES #164: You mean Why the shape differs? This question requires further context so as to attribute causes and reasons.

    Suppose, that you – E.Seigner – pay a visit to a beach. On this beach you observe a pile of sand (pic 1) and a sand castle (pic 2). How do you explain the difference in shape?

    ES #164: There is a sense in which the arrangement of parts is out there (…)

    In which sense is the arrangement of parts is out there?

  166. 166
    E.Seigner says:

    Box

    Suppose, that you – E.Seigner – pay a visit to a beach. On this beach you observe a pile of sand (pic 1) and a sand castle (pic 2). How do you explain the difference in shape?

    I have been through this game with Phinehas. Read up. The answer is the same.

    It’s your turn to answer a question: How do you explain the difference in shape?

    Box

    In which sense is the arrangement of parts is out there?

    In the objective sense it’s out there, but as the picture I gave should lucidly illustrate, there’s also a necessary subjective aspect to the arrangement. The subjective aspect forces the perception of the square on us, even though it’s illusory and not out there. Since the illusion is perceived, it must be considered and analyzed, so it can be determined to be an illusion.

  167. 167
    Daniel King says:

    StephenB:

    OK. That’s fair. Here is an example. E. Seigner has said that Upright Biped is a physicalist. I assume that you have been writing here long enough to know that this is not the case. Indeed, it would be impossible for a believer in non-material information to be a physicalist. I corrected ES on this matter and my corrective was ignored. Indeed, ES continued (and continues) to make the same false assertion. At what point (after how many times) would such disrespectful behavior finally merit a disrespectful response. After the second time?, the third time?, the tenth time? Never?

    My answer is NEVER. But, that’s just a personal opinion, no more valid than your personal opinion.

    It’s just that I was brought up to respect the rights of others to disagree with me (even when I’m sure I’m right and they are dead wrong) and to keep anger and frustration in check. That’s the ideal, not always met, alas.

  168. 168
    StephenB says:

    My answer is NEVER. But, that’s just a personal opinion, no more valid than your personal opinion.

    I agree. It’s a matter of personal opinion.

  169. 169
    Box says:

    E.Seigner,

    ES #166: I have been through this game with Phinehas. Read up. The answer is the same.

    You are suggesting that the following quote is an answer to my question, which is: how do you explain the difference in shape between a pile of sand and a sand castle?

    ES #110: I have described the difference between the mound of dirt and the sand castle as incidental difference of shape.

    So when you observe a pile of sand and a sand castle and ponder about the difference in shape you conclude that there is “an incidental difference of shape”? What do you mean by that? How does ‘incidental’ explain anything?

    Box #165: In which sense is the arrangement of parts is out there?

    ES #166: In the objective sense it’s out there, but as the picture I gave should lucidly illustrate, there’s also a necessary subjective aspect to the arrangement. The subjective aspect forces the perception of the square on us, even though it’s illusory and not out there.

    So, providing we are wary of illusions, we can, according to you, do scientific research on objective arrangement of parts?

  170. 170
    E.Seigner says:

    Box

    So when you observe a pile of sand and a sand castle and ponder about the difference in shape you conclude that there is “an incidental difference of shape”? What do you mean by that? How does ‘incidental’ explain anything?

    These terms imply a certain way causality is construed. Now it’s your turn to tell how you explain the difference of the shapes.

    Box

    So, providing we are wary of illusions, we can, according to you, do scientific research on objective arrangement of parts?

    Yes. Discernment of objective and subjective factors makes the research scientific.

  171. 171
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    I have described the difference between the mound of dirt and the sand castle as incidental difference of shape. The material is the same, the shape differs. You have repeatedly asserted that the difference is “obvious and striking”, but you have given no logical (or mathematical or scientific or whatever) proof that your assertion should mean anything beyond what I have described.

    The difference is obvious and striking empirically, not logically or mathematically.

    Look: You appear to be the same place you started. (I imagine that happens a lot when you know you are right without the slightest doubt.) As a result of your metaphysics, you are unable to describe in any meaningful way the difference between a mound of dirt and a sand castle. (This is why people keep asking you. You may think you’ve answered this question sufficiently, but your answers are coming across as evasive and vague. You appear to be reluctant and uncomfortable answering in any way that is actually descriptive.) Yet, empirically, there remains an obvious and striking difference. To deny this difference, to call it irrelevant, and to try to hand-wave it away merely serve to make you appear out of touch with reality. If this is based on your metaphysics, then you metaphysics is obviously wrong.

  172. 172
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner

    Arrangement of parts devoid of function (or devoid of any observer-relative quality)?

    A mousetrap has a design and a function. The design is not synonymous with the function.

    Ah, so the function also must be there. Then it’s not just the arrangement of parts.

    There you go again using pronouns like “it.” Pronouns are hard to follow.

    Design = how the physical parts of the mousetrap are arranged.

    Concept of design = the mind’s understanding of that arrangement (it does not contain physical parts)

    Function = what the mousetrap does (it catches mice)

    Purpose = why the mousetrap was built (whom does it serve?)

    Plan = the strategy for bringing the concept of design to reality of design

    Project = the task of bringing the concept of design to reality to the reality of design.

    You can’t just throw these words around without thinking about what they mean. To use them interchangeably is to confess that you know nothing about what you are saying.

    ..

    but in the classical argument as used in premise #2, quoted in #65, it’s synonymous with plan or project, implying purpose rather than shape or pattern. Pattern (“order or arrangement”) is in premise #1, so this meaning is separated from “design”.

    Please say what you mean in plain English.

    The trick is to understand that the function is observer-relative.

    The trick is to define observer relative. It could mean many things, such as perceivable by the observer, non-existent without the observer, understandable by the observer, detectable by the observer, etc. Feser (and you) are not defining your critical terms.

    It takes someone with the intent to catch the mouse and it presumably also takes an actual mouse to be caught, then the function will be there. So no, it’s not just an arrangement of parts.

    There you go again using the word “it” at the very time when you need to be precise. If, by it, you mean the existence of the mousetrap, say existence of the mousetrap; if you mean design, say design; If you mean concept of design, say concept of design; If you mean function, say function; if you mean project, say project; if you mean plan, say plan. You can’t just use those terms interchangeably. Don’t follow Feser off the cliff. Start thinking for yourself.

  173. 173
    StephenB says:

    Box @163. Thank you very much.

  174. 174
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    As a result of your metaphysics, you are unable to describe in any meaningful way the difference between a mound of dirt and a sand castle. (This is why people keep asking you. You may think you’ve answered this question sufficiently, but your answers are coming across as evasive and vague. You appear to be reluctant and uncomfortable answering in any way that is actually descriptive.) Yet, empirically, there remains an obvious and striking difference.

    Let’s suppose my answer comes across as evasive and vague. How do you think your “obvious and striking” comes across?

    I at least have given an answer, complete with metaphysical background to define my terms, whereas you only keep repeating “obvious and striking” without defining the words, and you demand that nobody should deny your description. First define your terms, then we’ll see who is actually explaining anything.

  175. 175
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    It takes someone with the intent to catch the mouse and it presumably also takes an actual mouse to be caught, then the function will be there.

    I’m not sure what you mean here, but an actual mouse doesn’t need to be caught in order for a mousetrap to have design or (noun–>) function. In order for it to (verb–>) function, perhaps an actual mouse is needed, but it can have (noun–>) function without a mouse.

    function:
    noun
    – the action for which a person or thing is particularly fitted or employed
    verb
    – to operate or perform as specified; work properly

  176. 176
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    ES: …but in the classical argument as used in premise #2, quoted in #65, it’s synonymous with plan or project, implying purpose rather than shape or pattern. Pattern (“order or arrangement”) is in premise #1, so this meaning is separated from “design”.

    StephenB: Please say what you mean in plain English

    Ah, the “me no speaka the English” trick.

    Obviously, I was referring to an earlier post, with complete pointers how to find it and where to look in it.

  177. 177
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    an actual mouse doesn’t need to be caught in order for a mousetrap to have design or (noun–>) function. In order for it to (verb–>) function, perhaps an actual mouse is needed, but it can have (noun–>) function without a mouse.

    Without seeing it in its proper action, how can you tell what its function is? That’s right, you guess it, i.e. project it, as I’ve been saying all along. When you tell the thing’s function without observing it in action, then – obviously and strikingly – its function is not objective.

  178. 178
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    I at least have given an answer, complete with metaphysical background to define my terms, whereas you only keep repeating “obvious and striking” without defining the words, and you demand that nobody should deny your description. First define your terms, then we’ll see who is actually explaining anything.

    I’m not explaining, I’m demonstrating. You see, the pictures tend to speak for themselves (worth a thousand words, and all that).

    Mound of Dirt 1

    Mound of Dirt 2

    Any sane person who looks at those pictures and then hears you call the difference between the two mounds of dirt “irrelevant” or “incidental” will immediately suspect that you are either out of touch with reality or have some agenda behind your response. They will do this because they can plainly see the obvious and striking difference that you seem to want to deny. When you continue to avoid describing the difference in any sort of meaningful way, and instead start hemming and hawing about defining metaphysical terms, they will feel their suspicions are confirmed.

  179. 179
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    Without seeing it in its proper action, how can you tell what its function is? That’s right, you guess it, i.e. project it, as I’ve been saying all along.

    You are merely assuming the same observer-centric nostrom you are trying to peddle. Without this assumption, the following are obvious and striking non sequiturs:

    I have not observed an object’s function, therefore it cannot have one.

    I must guess at an object’s function, therefore it must not have one.

  180. 180
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas

    I’m not explaining, …

    I can see that. And this is precisely the problem. I have been wasting my time with you. This stops by the end of this comment.

    Phinehas

    Any sane person who looks at those pictures and then hears you call the difference between the two mounds of dirt “irrelevant” or “incidental” will immediately suspect that you are either out of touch with reality or have some agenda behind your response.

    I explained my terms by means of the paradox of the heap and the classical argument from design, which any sane person understands. Since you stooped this low, I am not going to define what sane means. You have convincingly demonstrated your inability to make use of definitions and explanations.

    Phinehas

    You are merely assuming the same observer-centric nostrom you are trying to peddle.

    And you are assuming and peddling “striking and obvious” without defining or explaining them. Good luck with your agenda.

  181. 181
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Abductive reasoning (also called abduction, abductive inference or retroduction) is a form of logical inference that goes from an observation to a hypothesis that accounts for the observation, ideally seeking to find the simplest and most likely explanation.

  182. 182
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Phinehas

    As a result of your metaphysics, you are unable to describe in any meaningful way the difference between a mound of dirt and a sand castle.

    True. Good metaphysics, like Thomism, help us make such a distinction quite easily:

    … if we enter a well-ordered house we gather therefrom the intention of him that put it in order, as Tullius says (De Nat. Deorum ii), quoting Aristotle [Cleanthes].

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1103.htm

    We see a well-ordered house as evidence of design/intent.
    We see a sand castle, as evidence of design. We do not see the same in a pile of sand.

    It’s amazing how difficult this concept is for some people.

  183. 183
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    Actually, you didn’t really demonstrate that you understand the paradox of the heap or its implications. Nor did you demonstrate how saying that a particle of sand and a heap of sand both consist of sand addresses the paradox.

    You also left yourself in the unenviable position of not being able to explain why a particle is not a heap or green is not just another shade of red. Nor have you explained in any meaningful way how the two mounds of dirt differ.

    Perhaps you have a metaphysics that is logical and consistent. Maybe you can wrap your intellectual arms all the way around it and interlock your fingers. and this gives you great comfort. The problem is that it just doesn’t match up very well with reality. Unfortunately, I suspect that you have metaphysiced your way out of ever being able to recognize this problem, since you will likely continue to classify the contrary empirical evidence that reality throws your way as irrelevant, incidental, or illusory. So much the worse for you and your metaphysics.

  184. 184
    Silver Asiatic says:

    ES #110: I have described the difference between the mound of dirt and the sand castle as incidental difference of shape.

    There is an incidental difference of shape between one mound of dirt and another. And between one sand castle and another.

    That explanation says nothing.

  185. 185
    E.Seigner says:

    Phinehas and SA

    You two didn’t even attempt an answer, so quit complaining. At least I have an answer, when you have nothing.

    For the last time, the questions again: What is the “striking and obvious” difference between a dump of sand and a sand castle? In what scientific sense are you using “striking and obvious”? Is it from information theory, physics, or art criticism?

  186. 186
    Joe says:

    E Seigner is a legend in her own mind- “At least I have an answer”? Nonsense as all ES has is obfuscation.

    What is the “striking and obvious” difference between a dump of sand and a sand castle?

    The arrangement of the sand, duh.

  187. 187

    E. Seigner said:

    I have described the difference between the mound of dirt and the sand castle as incidental difference of shape.

    From Merriam Webster:

    incidental

    1 a : being likely to ensue as a chance or minor consequence

    2: occurring merely by chance or without intention or calculation

    So, E Seigner holds that the difference between the sandcastle and the mound of sand is likely to ensue from chance, without intention or calculation?

    A blatant case of someone willing to say something profoundly stupid in service of ideology.

  188. 188
    Silver Asiatic says:

    ES

    What is the “striking and obvious” difference between a dump of sand and a sand castle?

    Joe already gave the obvious answer – the arrangement of the sand.

    – Mathematical/geometric symmetry. This can be measured for each.
    – Pattern matching. The sand castle matches references to sophisticated architecture.
    – Physics. We look for the origin or source of both.

    The sand dump can be created by a blind, random, unintelligent process.
    The sand castle cannot be created by a blind, random, unintelligent process.

  189. 189
    Phinehas says:

    E.Seigner:

    What is the “striking and obvious” difference between a dump of sand and a sand castle?

    The sand castle matches a recognizable, ordered, and complex specification that is highly unlikely to occur by chance, but is routinely produced by intelligent agency.

    But honestly, most people don’t have to know this. They can see the striking and obvious difference immediately upon looking at the two different pictures. Striking and obvious is striking and obvious. It doesn’t require explanation. You know it when you see it, because it is striking and obvious. An appeal to definitions cannot avoid what is striking and obvious, because it is striking and obvious. Any attempt to deny what is striking and obvious (via metaphysics or else wise) will fail, because it attempts to deny what is striking and obvious.

  190. 190
    E.Seigner says:

    Silver Asiatic

    Joe already gave the obvious answer – the arrangement of the sand.

    And how is this different from my “The material is the same, the shape differs”? How is Joe’s answer laudably in harmony with ID theory (or UD policies rather) and mine evasive, vague, Darwinian, etc? How are you even capable of such contradictory assessments? I know: Double standards.

    Phinehas

    ES: What is the “striking and obvious” difference between a dump of sand and a sand castle?

    Phinehas: The sand castle matches a recognizable, ordered, and complex specification that is highly unlikely to occur by chance, but is routinely produced by intelligent agency. But honestly, most people don’t have to know this.

    I explained the difference of the dump of sand and the sand castle in three ways. First, I illustrated my approach by means of the paradox of the heap. Second, I quoted the Thomist argument from design to show where the terminology is coming from. Third, I applied the Aristotelian concept of the artefact. The third point should have been most interesting for you, because this is exactly where the difference of “nature” versus “art” (as in artistic design) comes in, but you got lost there.

    In turn, how are you explaining? In addition to the formerly undefined “striking and obvious” you add further undefined “recognizable, ordered, and complex specification”. I can agree that this is all striking, but none of this is obvious. Nor scientific. To top it all, you even add that “most people don’t have to know this”. Surely you realize that this only reinforces my questions. It answers none of what I asked. I suppose it’s safer to conclude that you are not an answers kind of person.

    By the way, any claim that I deny the difference between the two images is utterly incongruous with everything what I have said. You will not find a statement where I deny the difference. Instead, I put the difference into perspective. But of course you like to misrepresent. No wonder, because you all need to earn brownie points from Barry who is the headmaster misrepresenter here.

  191. 191
    Mung says:

    Upright BiPed is a physicalist!

    How long will it take to get him banned?

  192. 192
    Mung says:

    I’m still wondering whether design is actually objectively real [as asserted by E.Seigner] or just a projection [as asserted by E.Seigner].

    Can design possibly be both?

  193. 193
    E.Seigner says:

    WJM

    So, E Seigner holds that the difference between the sandcastle and the mound of sand is likely to ensue from chance, without intention or calculation?

    A blatant case of someone willing to say something profoundly stupid in service of ideology.

    A house falls into disrepair due to neglect and is eventually taken over by desert or forest or whatever is around it. This can happen much faster to a sand castle and with absolutely no trace left after the fact. To call this difference ontologically categorical or substantial is a blatant case of someone willing to say something profoundly stupid in service of ideology.

  194. 194
    E.Seigner says:

    @Mung

    Define design, then you just might get an answer too. For a preliminary answer, look at #166.

  195. 195
    Joe says:

    Design has been defined. Buy a vowel and a dictionary.

  196. 196
    Mung says:

    E.Seigner, I don’t need to define design. I only need reflect on your usage of the term. Are you saying that your usage is equivocal?

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